democracy &amp; power https://www.opendemocracy.net/taxonomy/term/72/0 en The English Defence League and the new far-right https://www.opendemocracy.net/hsiaohung-pai/english-defence-league-and-new-farright <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A street demo against "Islamisation" shows the potential for the English far-right to regain lost momentum. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Britain's political far-right is in its weakest position for twenty years, according to a report by the campaigning anti-racism movement <a href="http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/news/">Hope Not Hate</a>. That may seems obvious to anyone looking at the condition of two recently high-profile far-right groups, the British National Party (BNP) and the English Defence League (EDL). The former suffered an electoral wipe-out in the European elections of May 2014, the latter splintered and weakened after its leader Tommy Robinson’s departure in autumn 2013. But against these trends, there are now worrying signs of resumed momentum on the far-right.&nbsp; <br /><br />In the west midlands town of Dudley over the weekend of 7 February, for instance, more than 1,200 were <a href="http://www.expressandstar.com/news/crime/2015/02/07/thirty-arrests-as-edl-protests-in-dudley/">present</a> at the EDL’s street movement. That's back to the level of the two demos it held here in 2010, and represents its first surge since the stagnation caused by Robinson’s departure. A depressed town abandoned by manufacturing industries, Dudley offers fertile ground for anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim sentiment to breed. In the early 1960s, British Afro-Caribbean residents were the primary target of racism in such areas; since the 1990s, racism's focus has shifted to British Asians, particularly Muslims. <br /><br />This time, the angry EDL demonstrators - most of them from England's midlands and north-east, where the movement is strongest - were here to oppose the building of a mosque. They see this as symbolising the taking-over of their culture and demographic landscape, although the 2011 census finds that of Dudley metropolitan borough's population of over 300,000 (including 80,000 in the town itself), only 4.1% are Muslims. The EDL also talks of “Islamification”, though by far the most numerous religious group in the borough, at 63.5%, identify as Christians. <br /><br />Matters haven’t been helped by sensationalist media reporting of the mosque issue, nor by the fact that UKIP’s Bill Etheridge, MEP for the area, has also opposed it being built. The local <em>Express &amp; Star</em> published a cropped image of the <a href="http://www.expressandstar.com/news/2014/12/03/edl-planning-to-protest-against-dudley-mosque/">proposed</a> mosque without showing the entire plan of the complex. This includes an enterprise and education centre, a community centre, a sports centre and a 120-space two-storey car park. None of the EDL demonstrators consulted had any idea about the full plan for the building. <br /><br />Many on this demo were optimistic about their future street presence. The EDL’s street movement has benefited from the events of 2014 and early 2015: the Trojan Horse investigation into Birmingham's schools, the Rotherham sex-grooming scandal, and new terrorism threats in Europe (highlighted by the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-30708237">Paris</a> and <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/02/shots-fired-denmark-cafe-free-speech-event-150214160339729.html">Copenhagen</a> attacks). The coverage of these events in the mainstream media and the political discourse around them has enabled ideas that were propagated by the EDL to become increasingly acceptable in society. The “clash of civilisations” argument, for instance, has dominated mainstream coverage of the <em>Charlie Hebdo</em> debate, and the "religion-radicalisation" narrative is also the norm (as in the BBC Panorama programme on "<a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b050nj0z">The Battle for British Islam</a>" in January 2015). These fitted well with the EDL activists in Dudley, who claim that Islam itself is the problem.</p><p><strong>A movement of splinters</strong></p><p>Tommy Robinson told me: “When we were talking about these issues since five years ago, we were shunned and called racists. Now, in the last twelve to eighteen months, they, the politicians and media, are all talking about the same issues…My speech at Oxford Union was very well received… These ideas become more mainstream. People are listening to us now. We’ve been proved right.” </p><p>Robinson has been confident in asserting that the EDL is “a force that isn’t going away”, though he himself publicly quit the group to look for a more <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-oxfordshire-30224738">respectable</a> platform. Many on the Dudley demo also envisage the street movement growing across the country. An EDL activist from Crewe said he would be interested to see what Pegida UK - taking its name from the German "anti-Islamisation" movement - is doing, and sees the potential of EDL and Pegida UK joining forces. Many like him, many in the EDL see themselves as part of an anti-Muslim movement across Europe in which mainstream political discourse has contributed to reinforcing ideologies propagated by the far-right.</p><p>Pegida UK was set up just a week before EDL’s Dudley march. Ideologically it’s a UK extension of the German far-right <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/pegida-protests-dwindle-but-resentment-against-migrants-persists/article23010756/">movement</a>, based in Dresden where its rallies drew around 25,000 people. However, organisationally there’s no direct connection between the two. A day after the Dudley demo, Pegida UK’s representative Matthew Pope published an online video to explain what the group is about - and so far his is the only face of the group. It plans to hold its first rally in Newcastle on 28 February, with similar events to follow in Birmingham and London. Its Facebook post says: "All are welcome to attend. Let’s show the Islamists we show no fear." </p><p>Tommy Robinson said that the core of the group is “ordinary men and women” who are opposed to “Islamification”, just like the EDL. But behind the façade, EDL activists reveal that some of the splinter groups from the EDL have been organising Pegida UK. In particular, Northwest Infidels and Northeast Infidels, consisting of Loyalists and white supremacists, were formed by regional organisers kicked out by Tommy Robinson. They are now pulling football fans into their ranks, to become Pegida’s foot soldiers.&nbsp; Other splinter groups like the English Volunteer Force and South East Alliance are also getting involved. </p><p>“They’re basically providing the venue for people to flock to”, a London-based EDL activist said. “A lot of them are neo-Nazis. They’re fed up with Muslims and they are against all Muslims. But to be honest, their ideas, a lot of them, are respected by mainstream society…”</p><p>“As white Europeans, they’re joining in the Europe-wide movement against Islamification”, he said. “It’s easier for English anti-jihadists to go to work in Germany because they don’t have cameras on every street corner like we do…That’s why Pegida UK organisers have been operating underground, and they’ll remain off the radar. All by Facebook and PO box.”</p><p>It looks like Pegida UK will be a loose aggregate of far-right sympathisers, EDL’s splinter groups and remnants of white-power groups. Tommy Robinson has seen the growth of these nuclei in the past two years. “Since I left, these splinter groups are very active and have developed…,” he said, “There are young kids who come through the EDL and get radicalised in these further right groups. I see the splinter groups as a problem. They’re around the EDL and they are trying to pull people out, to their side.” He showed me a picture of a young boy with a Nazi salute. He knew this boy three years ago - he has joined Northwest Infidels after hanging around them for all that time.</p><p>The mushrooming of these splinters continues to challenge the EDL. “The divide within the EDL is to do with regions…It’s to do with the regional organisers”, said Robinson. “For instance, Paul Pitt, from South East Alliance, he was the regional organiser for Essex. When I kicked him out, some of the people went with him which gave him a support base. The same is happening with Yorkshire…They’re kicking out the organiser for what she said and done [a reference to Gail Speight, found guilty of charity theft]…but the loyal friends and people she’s had around her for four-five years will stay with her. Then what she’ll do is join the local splinter group, Northwest Infidels, bringing her people and bringing up their number. You say EDL are anti-Muslim. Their rhetoric is anti-non-white.” </p><p>The real face of Pegida UK remains to be unveiled. But the estimated few hundred are organising and aiming to draw thousands into its new movement, and they will bring fear and violence to communities wherever they visit. <br /><br /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.hopenothate.org.uk/">Hope Not Hate</a></p><p><a href="http://hsiaohung.squarespace.com/">Hsiao-Hung Pai</a>, "<a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/hsiaohungpai/the-edl-member-who-turned-his-back-on-far-right-politics">The EDL Member Who Turned His Back On Far-Right Politics</a>" (<em>Buzzfeed</em>, 17 December 2014)</p><p><span class="st"><a href="http://www.demos.co.uk/publications/insidetheedl"><em>Inside the EDL</em></a> (Demos, 2011)</span></p><p>Daniel Trilling, <span class="st"><em><a href="http://www.versobooks.com/books/1417-bloody-nasty-people">Bloody Nasty People: The Rise of Britain's Far Right</a> </em>(Verso, 2013)</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hsiao-hung-pai/chinese-women-migrants-hardest-job">Chinese women migrants: the hardest job</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hsiao-hung-pai/china-view-from-ground">China, the view from the ground</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hsiao-hung-pai/breaking-rule-partners-under-pressure">A breaking rule: partners under pressure </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/people/chinese-migrant-workers-lives-in-shadow">Chinese migrant workers: lives in shadow </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> </div> </div> Civil society democracy & power europe & islam Hsiao-Hung Pai Tue, 17 Feb 2015 19:34:43 +0000 Hsiao-Hung Pai 90616 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Libya’s downward spiral https://www.opendemocracy.net/alison-pargeter/libya%E2%80%99s-downward-spiral <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Libya after the Qadhafi regime is witnessing a complex array of struggles in which ambitions for power, claims to legitimacy, the taint of the past, and ownership of the 2011 revolution are among the key dividing lines.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The uprisings in Benghazi that sparked the fall of the Qadhafi regime began on 15 February 2011. Four years on from that euphoric time, few could have predicted just how bad things in Libya would become. While the challenges facing the country as it embarked upon the transition from authoritarianism to modern state were evident right from the start, the extent of Libya’s descent into the abyss has still been shocking. </p><p>After four years, the country is riven with competing armed factions and militias that are still fighting over the spoils of war; the political scene is so fractured that there are currently two competing administrations, one in Tripoli and the other in the east of the <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/libya.htm">country</a>, each convinced of its own legitimacy; and militants linked to Islamic State are taking advantage of the lawlessness to implant themselves, including in the capital. </p><p>On the economic front, the situation isn't much better. Despite its enormous oil reserves, the energy sector has been so fraught with <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/02/the-battle-for-libyas-oil/385285/">disruptions</a> that the country is hurtling headfirst into financial disaster. The old joke that used to do the rounds when Qadhafi was in power -&nbsp; that when weapons inspectors came to Libya they didn’t find weapons of mass destruction, only mass destruction - seems poignantly more apt than ever.&nbsp; </p><p>Not that there aren’t glimmers of hope. The United Nations-sponsored peace talks that kicked off in Geneva in mid-January are certainly a <a href="http://unsmil.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=3543&amp;ctl=Details&amp;mid=6187&amp;ItemID=2000313&amp;language=en-US">positive</a> development. Even though one of the key actors - the rump General National Congress - has only just agreed to join the dialogue, and some of the most powerful armed groups operating on the ground remain opposed to the process, the coming together of the participants in these talks is the first sign in a long time that some sort of compromise, however tenuous, may just be possible. </p><p>Yet while the Geneva talks may give rise to a political solution of sorts, such as the formation of a national unity government, they are not going to solve the bigger problems that continue to hamper the country and hinder its <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/alison-pargeter/libya-hard-road-ahead">transition</a>. These problems require a far bigger set of compromises, and a shift in mentality, that will be even harder to achieve but that are essential if the country is ever to get back on its feet.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Still in revolutionary mode</strong></p><p>Perhaps the biggest obstacle to real change is the fact that <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/history/middle-east-history/history-modern-libya-2nd-edition?format=PB">Libya</a> still hasn’t moved beyond its revolution. Or, more accurately, there is still a battle going on between those for whom the revolution finished with the fall of Qadhafi and those who believe the job has yet to be completed. The latter camp <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/alison-pargeter/libya-and-islamism-deeper-story">comprises</a> Islamists and those dubbed "revolutionaries": they range from members of Islamist political parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood’s Justice and Construction Party (JCP), former jihadists turned politicians, and fighters who make up the hotchpotch assortment of Islamist brigades and militias that are operating on the ground. It also includes revolutionary <a href="http://elpais.com/elpais/2015/01/20/inenglish/1421760231_731156.html">fighters</a> from Misrata and other allied towns, who may not all share the same ideological outlook as the Islamists but who have made common cause with them nonetheless. </p><p>Those who make up this camp are still in revolutionary mode, believing that nothing short of a total rupture with the past will constitute the completion of the revolution. This group has worked hard since the fall of the former regime to wipe the vestiges of the past off the political map. It was the Islamists and revolutionaries who in May 2013 forced the <a href="http://www.mei.edu/content/libyas-political-isolation-law-politics-and-justice-or-politics-justice">passing</a> of the Political Exclusion Law, a draconian piece of legislation barring anyone with the slightest links to the former regime from holding public office (see "<a href="http://english.dohainstitute.org/release/63d2fbb6-0ea5-486b-b8c7-4695f23fab1d">Insiders and Outsiders in the New Libya</a>", <em>Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies</em>, 1 June 2014).</p><p>However, this camp has come increasingly to adopt a narrative depicting all its opponents as <em>Azlam Qadhafi</em> (Qadhafi’s men), whether they be political figures who defected from the Qadhafi regime to join the revolution, or those armed brigades on the ground who may have fought hard against the former regime but whose ideological or political affiliation does not <a href="http://www.atlanticcouncil.org/blogs/menasource/the-questionable-campaign-behind-libya-s-political-isolation-law">tally</a> with their own. As the well-known Misratan revolutionary leader, Abdulrahman Al-Suwheili declared recently: “Our revolution has been led from the start by renegades from the Qadhafi regime. They only wanted to implement limited reforms, but we wanted to change things completely and create a new Libya.” </p><p>Chief among the accused, however, is General Khalifa Hafter, who is leading a military <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/feb/19/libya-against-itself/">campaign</a> against Islamist militants in Benghazi and beyond. Despite the fact that Hafter defected from Qadhafi’s military in the 1980s and spent years in exile in the United States, he and his followers are still castigated as Azlam Qadhafi by their opponents. Part of the hostility towards Hafter derives from the fact that he has achieved some real success against Islamist militants in Benghazi. However it is also driven by a real fear inside Libya that <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/04/libya.rebel.leader/">Hafter</a> is Libya’s version of the Egyptian president, Abdulfattah Al-Sissi, and that he is intent on eliminating Islamists and seizing power himself. It is notable that the Islamists’ rhetoric regarding the forces of the past ratcheted up several notches following the overthrow of Mohamed Morsi in Egypt. Thus the Islamist camp has been at pains to portray Hafter as the personification of the counter-revolution and as a kind of re-embodiment of the past. As the head of the Misrata Shura Council, Suleiman Al-Faqih, asserted in March 2014, there was “no difference between Hafter and Qadhafi, and maybe Hafter is worse than Qadhafi.”&nbsp; </p><p>While the discourse adopted by the Islamist and revolutionary camp reflects a genuine desire to achieve a complete break from a regime that was brutal and extreme even by regional standards, it is also a result of the fact that the only legitimacy this camp can lay claim to is a revolutionary one. Having achieved limited success in the three nationwide elections <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/alison-pargeter/libya-tests-of-renewal">held</a> since the fall of the former regime, the Islamists and their revolutionary backers on the ground have taken to positing themselves as defenders of the revolution and guardians of the country’s Islamic identity, as if the two are inextricably intertwined. They have promoted the notion of "true revolutionaries" who are imbued with a kind of moral purity that stands in contrast to those who have sullied the revolution with their connections to the past, however slight these connections might be. Hence as they <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/25/world/africa/libyan-unrest.html?_r=0">drove</a> their Zintani opponents out of the capital in summer 2014, the Misratan and Islamist brigades, which came together under the loose umbrella of Operation Libya Dawn, portrayed the fight as a battle to take the revolution to its ultimate conclusion, ridding Tripoli of counter-revolutionaries and Qadhafi loyalists (see "<a href="http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2014/08/201482695235305911.htm">Libya: the politics of revenge</a>", <em>Al-Jazeera Centre for Studies</em>, 26 August 2014). </p><p><strong>The terrorist label</strong></p><p>Yet the Islamists and their allies are not the only camp to have adopted a narrow and simplistic narrative to denigrate their adverarsies. The opposing camp - the so-called liberal current that comprises a mix of political parties and <a href="http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/alarabiya-studies/2014/08/25/Libyan-Dawn-Map-of-allies-and-enemies.html">groupings</a> as well as federalists and some eastern tribes and that is represented by the House of Representatives - has no compunction about lumping their opponents together and dismissing them all as “terrorists”. Referring to Operation Libya Dawn, prime minister Abdullah Al-Thinni of the Al-Baida-based <a href="http://www.enca.com/tripoli-under-militia-control-chaos-deepens">government</a> repeatedly declared that he would not have any dialogue with those “terrorist groups” that had tried to steal power in Tripoli. Likewise, all threats by Hafter and his forces to take the battle to the capital are couched in terms of liberating the west of the country from the clutches of terrorist groups. </p><p>It has inadvertently been made a whole lot easier for these forces to dismiss their opponents as terrorists. The dominant group within the Islamist camp are the militants rather than the moderates and it is those of a more extreme bent who hold greatest sway, including arguably in the political context. The Libyan Muslim Brotherhood has never been able to achieve any real <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/05/01/libyas-muslim-brotherhood-struggles-to-grow/">foothold</a> in Libya and more extremist groups and elements have always proved more successful, even during Qadhafi’s time. Indeed, the extremity of the Qadhafi regime seemed to breed an extreme response, as evidenced by the scores of hardline Islamist militants who led the fight to topple the mercurial dictator. Even Libya’s Grand Mufti, Sheikh Sadiq Al-Gharianni, sits at the ultra-conservative <a href="http://lyvoices.org/the-grand-muftis-rise-to-controversy/">end</a> of the spectrum, giving the country one of the most extreme official religious establishments anywhere in the region. Thus <em>jihadists</em> and former <em>jihadists</em>, including those from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), have been right at the fore of the political <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/libya/politics.htm">scene</a> in post-Qadhafi Libya. </p><p>In addition, the political Islamist camp as a whole has been more than willing to support Islamist <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-19744533">brigades</a> on the ground, including those that are extremist in orientation. This includes brigades such as the Libya Revolutionaries Operations Chamber that is led by militant preacher, Hadia Shaban and that was responsible for kidnapping former prime minister, Ali Zeidan in October 2013; the Libya Shield One Brigade that opened fire on unarmed protestors who were demanding its dissolution on what became <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/06/13/libya-no-impunity-black-saturday-benghazi-deaths">known</a> as "black Saturday" in June 2013; and even Ansar Al-Sharia, which has groups in Benghazi, Derna and Sirte and that is accused of being behind the string of assassinations of security personnel in Benghazi that blighted the country’s second city for months. The prime minister of the Tripoli-based government, Omar Al-Hassi, <a href="http://www.libyaherald.com/2014/11/18/omar-al-hassi-in-beautiful-ansar-row-while-100-gnc-members-meet/#axzz3RGqgP9Tv">described</a> Ansar Al-Sharia in November 2014 as “simple, beautiful and amiable” </p><p>Furthermore, while some of the Misratan brigades and forces are not Islamist in orientation - their alliance with the Islamist camp rooted in their desire to extend their power - many still consider Hafter and his camp to be more of a problem than militant groups such as Ansar Al-Sharia. As the head of one Misratan television station expressed things, “This is about priorities: we first have to defeat Haftar and then get rid of Ansar al-Sharia.” Likewise Misratan MP Fathi Bashaga, who is taking part in the Geneva talks, told the media that the danger posed by Ansar Al-Sharia is “greatly exaggerated” and that the militancy that has taken hold in Derna, where groups linked to Islamic State are now flourishing, “is something that we’ll deal with later on.” Thus for these elements anyone connected to the former regime is a more pressing concern than those the international community has castigated as terrorist entities. </p><p>All these factors make it easier for the opposing side to castigate the forces that make up Operation Libya Dawn as Islamist militants despite the fact that in reality they represent an array of different interests and ideological persuasions. </p><p><strong>Failed politics</strong></p><p>Libya is therefore now polarised between these two competing camps - however fluid and disjointed the camps may be - and both sides are relying on reductive narratives to justify what is essentially a struggle for power and control in which neither side is strong enough to defeat the other. Indeed, one of the reasons why participants were finally persuaded to attend the Geneva peace talks was because the military battle had all but reached a stalemate and neither side had the capacity to extend the battle beyond their own sphere of influence.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>That post-Qadhafi Libya should have descended to such lows is perhaps unsurprising. Having lived through four decades of a regime that banned all political activism outside of Qadhafi’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/libya-s-regime-at-40-a-state-of-kleptocracy">bizarre</a> <em>Jamahiriyah</em> [State of the Masses], the country has yet to learn how to do politics. When the Qadhafi regime fell, what emerged out of the enormous void that opened up has been a politics that is dominated by what are effectively "small gangs", whether they be tribal, regional or ideological, whose primary aim is to further their own localised or sometimes personal interests. Comments made in January by the oil minister in Tripoli’s National Salvation Government, Mashallah Zwai, are a case in point. Zwai threatened: "If they [the Al-Thinni government] want partition I have a clear message: we the Zwaiya tribe own all oil ports and resources (in the east) which we won't allow to get broken up." </p><p>The situation has been made worse by the lingering suspicion of political parties. Only 80 of the 200 seats in the General National Congress were allocated for political parties and by the time of the elections to its successor, the House of Representatives in June 2014, Libya’s political elite had ruled that every candidate must stand as an individual not as a party. This has left these institutions operating more like <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/igor-cherstich/libyas-revolution-tribe-nation-politics">tribal</a> gatherings than modern political legislatures. </p><p>Meanwhile, the <a href="http://www.un.org/depts/Cartographic/map/profile/libya.pdf">country’s</a> institutions have become little more than political footballs in the battle between the two opposing camps. The central bank, the National Oil Corporation, the judiciary, the presidency of the army and the official religious establishment are all at the centre of the ongoing competition for power between the two dominant currents and have been pulled in both directions and forced to make choices between the two. </p><p>Without robust institutions and the building of a real political culture then the danger for Libya is that revolutionary legitimacy will continue to<a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/7/libya-council-ofdeputieselectionsislamistssecuritybenghazi.html"> trump</a> electoral legitimacy, meaning that the political establishment will remain at the mercy of the powers on the ground.</p><p>This means that the country will either continue to limp along in its current sorry state, or more likely, will descend into further chaos and violence, leaving ordinary Libyans despairing about what went wrong (see <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?K=9780300139327"><span><span><em>Libya: The Rise and Fall of Qaddafi</em></span></span></a>&nbsp;[Yale University Press, 2012]). </p><p>The real irony of all this, however, is that while the various competing factions continue to argue about who is a true revolutionary and who is tainted by the former <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/libya-s-regime-at-40-a-state-of-kleptocracy">regime</a>, those who could be truly described as Qadhafi’s men, namely those who made up the bulk of the regime’s security apparatus, are sitting on the sidelines, refusing to get involved. This includes some of the country’s most important tribes - the Werfella, the Miqraha and the Qadhadhfa. Although Hafter has tried to bring these tribes on side, so far they have resisted. Indeed, these tribes and the areas associated with them are still bitter about the whole revolutionary experience, believing themselves to have been unfairly scapegoated for their associations with the former regime. Yet these tribes represent a hugely important component in Libya and their absence not only from the Geneva peace <a href="http://unsmil.unmissions.org/Default.aspx?tabid=3559">process</a> but from the entire political scene demonstrates just how far Libya still has to go in order to pull itself out of the crisis. If it is to move beyond the revolution, Libya needs to engage in a comprehensive national-reconciliation programme that brings in those from all sides and that can truly draw a line under the past. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Alison Pargeter, <a href="http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?K=9780300139327"><span><span><em>Libya: The Rise and Fall of Qaddafi</em></span></span></a><a id="link9" title=" The Rise and Fall of Qaddafi" rel="nofollow" href="http://archive.wikiwix.com/opendemocracy/?url=http://yalebooks.co.uk/display.asp?K=9780300139327&amp;title=Libya%3A%20The%20Rise%20and%20Fall%20of%20Qaddafi"><span><span><em>↑</em></span></span></a><em> </em>(Yale University Press, 2012)</p><p>Peter Cole &amp; Brian McQuinn eds., <a href="http://www.britishinfluence.org/"><em>The Libyan Revolution and its Aftermath</em></a> (C Hurst, 2015)</p> <p>Alison Pargeter, <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?ISB=9780863564758&amp;TAG=&amp;CID%20"><em><span><span>The Muslim Brotherhood: The Burden of Tradition</span></span></em></a> (Saqi, 2010)</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.tripolipost.com/index.asp"><span><span>The Tripoli Post</span></span></a></em></p> <p><a href="http://www.merip.org/index.html"><span><span>Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP)</span></span></a></p> <p><em><a href="http://www.libyaherald.com/"><span><span>Libya Herald</span></span></a></em></p> <p><em><em><a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/"><em><span><span>Foreign Policy</span></span></em></a></em></em></p> <div>Dirk Vandewalle, <em><a href="https://www.cambridge.org/us/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521615549"><span><span>A History of Modern Libya</span></span></a></em> (Cambridge University Press, 2005)&nbsp;</div> <div> <p><a href="http://www.africa-confidential.com/news"><em><span><span>Africa Confidential</span></span></em></a></p> <p>Hisham Matar, <em><a href="http://www.penguin.co.uk/nf/Book/BookDisplay/0,,9780141027036,00.html"><span><span>In the Country of Men</span></span></a></em> (Penguin, 2007)</p> <p>Luis Martinez, <em><a href="http://cup.columbia.edu/book/978-0-231-70021-4/the-libyan-paradox/excerpt"><span><span>The Libyan Paradox</span></span></a></em> (Columbia University Press, 2007)</p></div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya-hard-road-ahead">Libya: a hard road ahead </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/libya-s-regime-at-40-a-state-of-kleptocracy">Libya’s regime at 40: a state of kleptocracy </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/libya-oil-state-and-revolution">Libya: oil, the state and the revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya-tests-of-renewal">Libya: tests of renewal </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/mark-taylor/libyas-challenge-democracy-under-gun">Libya&#039;s challenge: democracy under the gun</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/godfrey-hodgson/libya-arab-democracy-and-western-policy">Libya, Arab democracy, and western policy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/libyas-war-historys-shadow">Libya&#039;s war, history&#039;s shadow </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/libya-and-decisive-moment">Libya, and the decisive moment </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/martin-shaw/libya-popular-revolt-military-intervention">Libya: popular revolt, military intervention </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/igor-cherstich/libyas-revolution-tribe-nation-politics">Libya&#039;s revolution: tribe, nation, politics </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/alison-pargeter/libya-and-islamism-deeper-story">Libya and Islamism: the deeper story </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Libya </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Libya International politics democracy & power Alison Pargeter Mon, 09 Feb 2015 17:32:43 +0000 Alison Pargeter 90351 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The road to hell is paved with rapid reactions https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/shahrbanou-tadjbakhsh/road-to-hell-is-paved-with-rapid-reactions <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the wake of a vicious crime, caution and restraint are a virtue. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Once upon a time, in the realm of Xanadu, two and a half dim-witted but well-armed, well-funded and well-trained professional criminals committed cold-blooded murder, commando-style. While committing their crime, they uttered two sentences vocally and publically, following their script to a T.</p><p>First they cried/lied: “<em>Allah o Akbar</em>.” Obviously, anyone who takes the sacred life of another human being either does not believe in God, or tries to be God himself, in which case he is a lunatic. But the citizens of Xanadu took their words literally and engaged in virulent debates with each other on religion: whether Islam was inherently violent, Muslims innately intolerant, whether they should live their religion or be amalgamated in western societies. Freedom of religion and belief took a first hit when the criminal terrorists rhymed their lie to the sound of automatic rifle.</p><p>The second sentence they uttered, again publically and caught on tape, was: “We avenged the prophet”. Their second lie about their motivation threw the citizens of Xanadu into a parallel hysterical debate that had been brewing for a while. Half of Xanaduians changed their names to Charlie and berated the non-Charlies for siding with terrorists. While the former equated the murders with an assault on the freedom of speech, the latter regretted the abuse of this freedom for offence, bullying, ridicule and outright racism, without justifying the murders. But by now, the condemnation that had seemed like a bad joke a decade ago, “either you are with us or you are with the terrorists”, had been given a second wind.</p><p>As the populace debated, the terrorists were found and taken out, almost live on TV, by the special forces of Xanadu in an efficient operation that restored faith in the capacity of the state to at least protect. But not before they gave interviews to a TV station during which they propagated their disinformation to a nation frantic for any quick-fix spotlight on their motivations. </p><p>Almost immediately afterwards, millions of people marched in the streets of Xanadu with their pens in the air. Dozens of world leaders did not miss the chance to appear in the front row - some in solidarity, some in guilt, and some in opportunity. The republican march made a lot of people aggrieved or jealous, including on behalf of victims of massive attacks that same week in Nigeria and Yemen. But everyone knows that Xanadu is better served by airlines than Kabul and Karachi, Sanaa and Maiduguri, for god’s sake.&nbsp; </p><p>The reactive debates, my friends, not only puffed up the nerves and boiled the bloods in all camps, they were also the beginning of a long descent into hell for the realm of Xanadu and beyond. The Xanaduians became hardened in their views, talked about revenge and hated more and more. In the next elections, the frightening far-right people came near to winning or even did so. Others became (more) radicalised in their narrow views and actions. The government spent more of that much needed money on fighting the new slick Realm of War, somewhere in the Middle East or in cyberspace, an entity with its stylised logo, uniforms, doctrine, army and harem. At home, police rule was reinforced, civil liberties were curtailed, the internet and the streets patrolled more and more. The once splendid and opulent Xanadu gradually turned into intellectual and cultural ruins.</p><p>Thus, my friends, was how the perpetual wars, perpetual revenge and perpetual hatred became sustained for a good new decade. The terrorist criminals rotted under the earth but those who had funded, trained and armed them laughed quite a lot and high-fived each other. They had gained a lot of bang for their bucks. Everyone had behaved exactly as they were supposed to, as per the original script.</p><p>This is a sad tale of people caught in a cycle of provocations, actions and reactions as if on cue, and who, willing or unwillingly, take humanity down the road of hell when they so eagerly jump into divisive discourses, accusations, counter-accusations and hate speech. Needless to say, the alternative is not to love and forgive the murderers (<em>Duh</em>!). But we don’t really have to use a terror act as an excuse to throw up all our discomforts about coexistence, tolerance, and difference. It is that reaction that terrorists expect from us, that politicians take advantage of, and that binds us in further cycles of mistrust, confusion and ultimately hatred.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><br />If we are to look for the "why", we need to be ready to go much deeper than some cartoons and further in history than yesterday. But we are not ready and, most importantly, this is not the time. Cold-blooded, politically motivated murder and terror? We should cry, and leave it at that for now, in the heat of things. For it is that assertion that unites most people in Xanadu and beyond.&nbsp; <br /></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Conflict International politics democracy & power Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh Charlie Hebdo Tue, 13 Jan 2015 08:27:51 +0000 Shahrbanou Tadjbakhsh 89548 at https://www.opendemocracy.net China, questions of loyalty https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-questions-of-loyalty <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What determines political survival among China's party elite? Where are the traps that ensnare men like Zhou Yongkang and Ling Jihua? The ambiguities of loyalty are a useful way to bring these questions into focus.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>John Le Carré's <em>A Perfect Spy</em>, published in 1986, is sometimes praised as the best novel in the English writer's distinguished oeuvre. The story of the secret agent Magnus Pym, and his meltdown after being trapped by conflicting loyalties, captures something of the ambiguity of anyone who trades in intelligence - or, for that matter, in national loyalty and what sort of purchase it has on people. Who, finally, do such people belong to? Who, in the end, do they serve?<br /><br />The novel <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/culture/cultural-comment/best-le-carre-novel">invites</a> readers to think more deeply about what precisely loyalty as a quality is. In what ways can a person's being from a place or part of an organisation mean that allegiance can be demanded of them or a certain mode of behaviour required? Throughout the cold war, many people on either side of the "iron curtain" wrestled with the tensions between ideological and emotional commitment. The more infamous spies followed their ideological bent, largely eschewing whatever emotional pull the country of their birth may have made on them. But even in extreme cases - such as <a href="http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/a-spy-among-friends-9781408851722/">Kim Philby,</a> the most destructively successful of this generation of agents - the accommodations made were never clean or easy. These individuals lived messy, compromised lives as spies, rendered all the more messy and compromised by where they finally placed their allegiances. Lives of such ambiguity are evidently not happy ones, and need to justify themselves by appealing to higher rewards, more remote returns. </p><p><strong>A hard calculation</strong></p><p>The ambiguities of loyalty, to country or ideology, raise interesting questions when applied to the Communist Party of China (CCP) politicians and members. The <a href="http://www.anthempress.com/friends-and-enemies">party</a> survives, long after that of the Soviet Union imploded, and to a certain extent it has the loyalty of its vast membership. But as the anti-corruption campaign <a href=" echo and portent">continues</a> to seep deeply into the ultra-elite, lapping at the doors of yet more politburo figures, the character if this loyalty - which kind is good, and which counterfeit or inauthentic - becomes more urgent. <br /><br />How is it that Zhou Yongkang, now formally <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/china/21636086-zhou-yongkang-may-well-have-been-corrupt-his-real-problem-was-losing-power-struggle-tiger">charged</a> with corruption, and Ling Jihua, former close aide to ex-president <a href="http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789814350037_fmatter">Hu Jintao</a>, and now under investigation, have <a href="http://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/1671692/china-removes-ling-jihua-ex-hu-jintao-aide-communist-partys-united-front">fallen</a> on the wrong side of the track - while others also associated with vast amounts of reported corruption, such as former premier Wen Jiabao, or even former politburo member Jia Qinglin, have avoided being this fate? Why was Zhou’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-politics-of-corruption">corruption</a> the wrong sort? What made it worth the risk of internal <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-who-is-in-charge">instability</a> and fracture to move against him?<br /><br />At the moment, it's possible only to speculate. Even in an era of new-found transparency, the party's Central Discipline and Inspection Commission (<a href="http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayAbstract?fromPage=online&amp;aid=9370628">CDIC</a>) is unlikely to put online, Wikileaks-style, the full material incriminating Zhou. If it were to do so, it is unlikely the documents would answer the most fundamental questions. <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-26349305">Zhou’s</a> peers, his colleagues, people who, in a collective leadership, made decisions with him and stood by him while he was in power, have now decided that in fact, all along, he was not truly "loyal", was not a faithful servant of the party mission, was, in effect, a traitor and a renegade. <br /><br />What is revealed here is that ownership of the party <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-between-self-and-society">mission</a> is the key thing. Somehow, Xi Jinping has been given the authority, or been allowed to claim the authority, to speak of this mission and have a kind of ownership over it. It is now becoming clearer that those that subscribe to Xi's "vision" are regarded as being safe or allies, and that those that are antagonistic towards it need to watch their back. <br /><br /><strong>A complex fidelity</strong><br /><br />Those seeking to understand China's elite politics are still trying to work out how this process happened - how this "gift" for Xi was arranged. Was it through a long process of design, dating back into the 1990s when he may already have been sighted as a future elite leader; or through enough members of the current political elite, active or retired, realising that so great is the moral crisis for the party that without radically cleaning up its act it might risk falling from power? Is it simply because the party has heeded the lessons of the Soviet Union and understood that if it just becomes a prey to business and commercial interests it will collapse, and that it must <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/weighing-history-in-china">redefine</a> its political principles in the 21st century and outline some core beliefs? <br /><br />Maybe it is a combination of all of these factors. It's tempting to think that the Communist Party of China in the modern era has no beliefs beyond a worship of raw power. But this view doesn’t help explain how and why some in the leadership, like Zhou and Ling, fall foul. Surely the party would then find less public ways of dealing with ill-disciplined members than this unseemly clearing-out? These modern purges indicate something else about what the party as an institution <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-limits-of-exception">thinks</a> the right and wrong sorts of loyalty are, and what worthy objects of these loyalties might be. <br /><br />The complex calculation, where fidelity to the party is also fidelity to a vision of China which <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-party-states-test">links</a> the health and fortunes of the two together, is at the heart of the matter. It is a calculation made every hour and every minute of each day in China. Sometimes it is one that leads to individuals being unceremoniously evicted from the party, and sometimes to them being elevated and strengthened, as in the case of Xi. <br /><br />But if there is one <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/beijinglondon-in-labyrinth">secret </a>formula that observers are always trying to crack about contemporary China, it is this one. Perhaps in 2015, as the era of Xi unfolds, we will come a little closer to working out just how this modern formula about loyalty and faith works, and how it is regarded as delivering a strong party and a strong country in the 21st century. The task of cracking it is unlikely to be easy, however, especially as so many members right at the heart of the party like Zhou and Ling seem to have failed to have made much headway with it. If they had, they wouldn’t now be in such trouble. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Kerry Brown, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/p932"><em>Carnival China</em>: <em>China</em> <em>in the Era of Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping</em></a> (Imperial College Press, 2014) </span></p><p><a href="http://sydney.edu.au/china_studies_centre/"><span><span>China Studies Centre, </span></span></a>University of Sydney</p><p><a href="http://www.euecran.eu/"><span><span>Europe China Research and Advice Network</span></span></a></p> <p>Kerry Brown, <a href="http://www.anthempress.com/friends-and-enemies"><span><span><em>Friends and Enemies: The Past, Present and Future of the Communist Party of China</em> </span></span></a>(Anthem Press, 2009)</p> <p>Kerry Brown, <a href="http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789814350037_fmatter"><em><span><span>Hu Jintao: China's Silent Ruler</span></span></em></a> (World Scientific, 2012)</p> <p>Kerry Brown, <a href="http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book.asp?bookdetail=4407" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Ballot Box China: Grassroots Democracy in the Final Major One-Party State</span></span></em></a> (Zed Books, 2011) </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kerry-brown/china-limits-of-exception">China, the limits of exception</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kerry-brown/china-19892014-one-womans-story">China, 1989-2014: one woman&#039;s story</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kerry-brown/weighing-history-in-china">Weighing history in China</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kerry-brown/chinas-past-chinas-present">China&#039;s past, China&#039;s present</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kerry-brown/china-between-self-and-society">China, between self and society</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> China International politics democracy & power Kerry Brown Thu, 01 Jan 2015 07:54:33 +0000 Kerry Brown 89278 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iran vs ISIS, stubborn imperial designs https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/iran-vs-isis-stubborn-imperial-designs <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The conflict of radical<em> Shi'a-Sunni </em>forces is fuelled by unyielding absolutisms that oppose the world's leading trends over the past century. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>For many years, talk of Iran's greedy ambitions in the Gulf region has been a staple theme of political discourse. Some of the chatter is a hangover from the period before the revolution of 1979. In the early period of his regin, Iran's Shah harboured the delusion that he could replace Britain in the Gulf when the Suez calamity of 1956 accelerated the withdrawal of the old colonial power. The Shah sought to activate his grandiose dreams of regional hegemony when he sent forces to occupy three small islands: Greater and Lesser Tunbs, and Abu Musa. <br /><br />These were meagre gains, and the Shah’s <a href="https://strausscenter.org/hormuz/u-s-iran-relations.html">relationship</a> with the United States - the newly dominant external power - was to keep his imperial objectives in check. At the time, some observers regarded the policy of the Shahenshah ("king of kings") as purely strategic with no other dimensions (cultural, economic, or demographic). Some among America’s critics even called the Iranian ruler's expansionary course “sub-imperialism”, undertaken essentially on behalf of Washington. <br /><br />The same argument, regardless of how accurate it was then, is not applicable to the regime founded by <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/rkhomeini/ayatollah_khomeini.php">Ayatollah Khomeini</a>. It operates on a very different scale; it is driven forward by an ideology that encompasses both heaven and earth, offering absolute certainty to those seeking salvation untainted by doubt; and it has shown itself capable of winning influence and adherents far afield (Yemen, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Gaza). <br /><br />Iran’s Khomeinists chose this approach <a href="http://www.iranchamber.com/history/islamic_revolution/islamic_revolution.php">early</a> on in their rule. They eliminated leading figures of the revolution's initial breakthrough such as Mehdi Bazargan, Ebrahim Yazdi, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, and Abdol-Hassan Bani-Sadr. Each of these men came in one way or another to realise that the combination of aggrandising <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran-s-revolution-in-global-history">ambition</a> and epic fantasy was no longer compatible with the contemporary world. <br /><br />After all, the disappearance of the Habsburg and Ottoman empires in the wake of the 1914-18 war taught a lesson to powerful states: the only way to <a href="http://westviewpress.com/books/after-empire/">survive</a> was to trim their territories and enter the modern world in the form of nation-states. It's true that the Russians resisted that reality by reproducing the Tsarist empire in communist form, but after long the demise of communism - and against much greater odds - it seems they are still seeking to oppose the world's main dynamics. <br /><br />So too is the unyielding, radical <em>Shi'a</em> core of Iran's regime. Yet its survival today, and ability to get its way (over defending its ally in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/syria%E2%80%99s-broken-spring-damascus-report">Damascus</a>, or the emerging dialogue with the United States) is also becoming <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/khomeini-to-is-paths-of-revolution">bound</a> up with an equally absolutist ideology among radical Arab <em>Sunnis</em>. The <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-its-far-enemy">rise</a> of ISIS, whose aim is to restore the transnational “caliphate” abolished by Kemal Ataturk nearly a century ago, is an expression of this latter phenomenon. ISIS's pursuit of its objective entailed both clashes with most traditional <em>Sunni</em> forces and the snubbing of those local and national causes - such as Palestine and most recently the Syrian <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/world/as-syrias-revolution-sputters-a-chaotic-stalemate.html?_r=0">revolution</a> itself - which for long had preoccupied Arab (and especially <em>Sunni</em>) public opinion.<br /><br /><strong>The nadir of ideology</strong><br /><br />ISIS's origins can in part be traced back to the failure of earlier projects seeking to unite the <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674058194">Arabs</a>. The tragic climax of those failures came in 1990 when the <em>Sunni</em> Iraqi leader <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Saddam Hussein</a> expanded - imperially - into Kuwait in complete disregard for traditional Arab reality and its <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/txu-oclc-192062619-middle_east_pol_2008.jpg">borders</a>. Saddam in addition threatened western interests, embracing the deranged belief that he could replace the then dying Soviet Union while turning the superpowers' long cold war into a hot war from which he could emerge the triumphant hero of the Arabs. <br /><br />In this larger <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/revolution-in-revolution-century-of-change">scheme</a> of history, it can be said that Tsarism and Stalinism gave birth to Putinism; Shahenshahism to Khomeinism; and Saddamism to ISIS. The difference betwen the first process and the other two, however, is significant. In the Russian case, the hegemonic drive receded after losing its ideological (communist) component; in the <em>Sh'ia</em> and <em>Sunni</em> cases, this ideological ingredient became maximalised. <br /><br />Today, it is obvious that Iran, in its core statehood, has immeasurably better odds than ISIS. Tehran is bargaining with the world using real cards, including its ability to stand alongside the same world powers which are fighting ISIS; by comparison, the cards wielded by <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28560449">Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s</a> organisation (the 9/11 legacy, beheadings, extermination of minorities) are reactive and negative. Each side, however, in its own way is trying to halt the dominant <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/hazem-saghieh/great-unravelling-and-new-map">trends</a> in the world since 1918.&nbsp; <br /><br />The ability of such counter-forces, Russian as well as radical <em>Shi'a</em> and <em>Sunni</em>, to gather some support must be recognised. Disenfranchisement in the modern world contributes to stubborn resistance which can be given shape by a precursory ideological lexicon rife with victimisation, self-righteousness, dreams of glory, and constructed "authenticity". The history of the larger Middle East is a rich source of inspiration for those willing to march forward to total nihilism and self-annihilation. <br /><br /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Albert Hourani, <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/HOUHIR.html?show=reviews"><em>A History of the Arab Peoples</em></a> (Harvard University Press, 2003)</p><p><a href="http://www.merip.org/">Middle East Research and Information Project (Merip)</a></p><p>Sami Zubaida, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Humanities/History/Regional%20%20national%20history/Asian%20history/Middle%20Eastern%20history/Beyond%20Islam%20A%20New%20Understanding%20of%20the%20Middle%20East.aspx"><em>Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East</em></a><em>&nbsp;</em>(IB Tauris, 2011)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/khomeini-to-is-paths-of-revolution">Khomeini to IS: paths of revolution</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/military-and-islamist-failure-what-next">Military and Islamist failure: what next? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/arabs-without-capitals">Arabs without capitals</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/arab-revolutions-end-to-dogma">The Arab revolutions: an end to dogma </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/islamism-vs-weak-arab-nations">Islamism vs the weak Arab nations</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/critique-of-arab-critique">A critique of Arab critique</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/islamists-without-book">Islamists without a book</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/hazem-saghieh/great-unravelling-and-new-map">A great unravelling, and a new map</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Democracy and government Conflict democracy & power Hazem Saghieh Mon, 29 Dec 2014 06:29:43 +0000 Hazem Saghieh 89225 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A war of new connections https://www.opendemocracy.net/open-security/paul-rogers/war-of-new-connections <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The close links between American surveillance of Africa and military facilities in England are revealed by campaigners working for non-violent social change. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in April 2014 by the Boko Haram movement in the town of Chibok, northeast Nigeria produced a strong reaction in the western media. Since that incident, and despite the lack of progress in recovering the girls, interest in their fate and the wider Boko Haram campaign has subsided. This withering of coverage, however, gives a misleading impression of the status of the Islamist movement. </p><p>The city of Maiduguri remains at the centre of an <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2014/04/17/world/africa/boko-haram-explainer/">insurgency</a> that has proved impossible to control, though there have been many violent and costly attempts by the Nigerian security forces to do so. On 19 December, another 185 people were <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/c2c261a539d94ce6b3b3c520b0798aeb/suspected-islamic-extremists-kidnap-185-northeast-nigeria">kidnapped</a> and thirty-five killed&nbsp;&nbsp; This is but one incident that is spreading alarm among the security elites of the United States, France and Britain about the growth of Islamist paramilitaries both in northern Nigeria and the wider Sahel region. Across a range of countries - Libya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia and Kenya - Islamist <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/al-qaida-multiform-idea">movements</a> are on the rise.</p><p>Even the rare glimmers of light amid a cloudy deteriorating security situation can be double-edged. The <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/46631/china-sends-19th-naval-escort-piracy-task-force-to-somalia">arrival</a> of China’s nineteenth naval-escort task-force near the Gulf of Aden to join the international anti-piracy action is an example. China has played a role in the joint naval operations for more than a year, a welcome instance of state cooperation at a time when many anti-piracy forces are operated by private-maritime security companies (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/gunship-archipelago">The gunship archipelago</a>", 17 December 2014). Yet China’s contribution can also be seen as an opportunity to increase still further its own <a href="http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/08/04/u-s-china-compete-to-woo-africa/">influence</a> in sub-Saharan Africa, in a way that adds to the west's worries. </p><p><strong>A persistent campaign</strong></p><p>Both immediate threats (such as Islamist movements) and longer-term <a href="http://foreignpolicy.com/2014/11/13/china-and-the-united-states-are-preparing-for-war/">rivalries</a> (such as with China) lead the United States's security agencies in particular to the same conclusion: the need to expand their military <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/05/21/map-the-u-s-currently-has-troops-in-these-african-countries/">involvement</a> in the continent. As a priority this means more wide-ranging and effective intelligence-gathering, with an emphasis on signals intelligence that can soak up <a href="https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying">immense</a> amounts of data.</p><p>The <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/the-nsa-files">revelations</a> of Edward Snowden have drawn attention to the extraordinary level of surveillance possible right across civil society. The latest African developments reveal an extra twist, namely a very substantial increase in activity by US intelligence agencies in Britain. The main focus will not be the established base at <a href="http://www.raf.mod.uk/organisation/rafmenwithhill.cfm">RAF Menwith Hill</a> in north Yorkshire, but - after a rapid expansion - RAF Croughton, close to the M40 motorway a few miles north of Oxford.</p><p>Menwith Hill first came to prominence in 1984 with the publication of Duncan Campbell’s <a href="http://www.duncancampbell.org/content/unsinkable-aircraft-carrier-american-military-power-britain"><em>The Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier.</em></a>&nbsp; More recently, a great deal of new information has emerged thanks to the remarkable persistence of a small group of peace campaigners in the <a href="http://www.caab.org.uk/">Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases</a>. Note the title - this is primarily about accountability, a concern that stems from the profound <a href="http://www.stripes.com/news/mysterious-menwith-hill-nothing-to-see-here-1.235153">secrecy</a> that for so long surrounded the activities of Menwith Hill and other sites, some of which actually increased rather than diminished in size after the end of the cold war.</p><p>CAAB has proved to be a remarkably resilient movement. Its activities have been widely covered both in <a href="http://peacenews.info/taxonomy/term/1454"><em>Peace News</em></a>&nbsp; and on Its own website, which is a real mine of information. Much of its persistence has been exemplified by Lindis Percy and, as long as her health allowed, Anni Rainbow; over more than twenty years their determination, along with others', has been exceptional.&nbsp; </p><p>CAAB's work in non-violent social change is given its due in a marvellously revealing account by Margaret Nunnerley - <a href="http://www.ypdbooks.com/history/1073-surveillance-secrecy-and-sovereignty-how-a-peace-campaign-challenged-the-activities-of-a-us-base-in-britain-YPD01004.html "><em>Surveillance, Secrecy and Sovereignty</em></a>. Its <a href="expansion of US intelligence facilities in Britain">publisher</a> notes that the book:</p><p>“explores the range of issues raised by the campaign, which are of particular relevance today. In particular it examines the use of the base for US military Intelligence gathering and the lack of effective parliamentary oversight of its functions, with the subsequent deficit in democratic accountability. It also examines in detail the important challenges through the courts employed by the campaigners, what they revealed about the methods used by police and courts in responding to peaceful, lawful protest, and the implications for civil liberties in Britain today.”</p><p>Since the book was published in spring 2014, much of CAAB’s concern has been with the developments at Croughton, long known to be linked to Menwith Hill but now in line for a building programme that could see it match the latter's size. In its present form it is clearly visible from the busy A43, with the usual radomes and assorted aerials, although far smaller than the more remote Menwith Hill base in the Yorkshire Dales.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>That is now set to change as <a href="http://www.militaryinstallations.dod.mil/pls/psgprod/f?p=132:CONTENT:0::NO::P4_INST_ID,P4_INST_TYPE:8,INSTALLATION">Croughton</a> benefits from a construction budget of over $181 million ($93 million in fiscal year 2015, already underway), and from the upgrading of a satellite station at RAF Barford St John. The latter, seven miles to the west of Croughton and currently marked on ordnance-survey maps as a “wireless station”, will see its many odd-shaped aerials (reported to be obsolete) replaced by state-of-the-art equipment.</p><p><strong>A single field</strong></p><p>There is real connection to Africa in these developments, in that the expansion of US intelligence facilities in Britain (much of it barely reported) is part of a process of upgrading capabilities to meet the perceived threat to western interests in Africa.&nbsp; CAAB’s website currently shows this by providing a link to the US airforce’s "justification data" submitted to the US Congress earlier in 2014 in support of its military-construction <a href="http://www.saffm.hq.af.mil/shared/media/document/AFD-140310-043.pdf ">programme</a> for FY 2015,&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>The data says, on page 107: </p><p>"This project is required to provide a purpose-built Joint Intelligence Analysis and Production Complex which recapitalizes and consolidates all RAF Molesworth (RAFM) Intelligence operations and missions in support of USEUCOM and US African Command (USAFRICOM)."</p><p>If the finance is not forthcoming, the justification data, on page 108, states:</p><p>"Severe facility shortfalls and dispersion will continue to constrain USEUCOM JAC and USAFRICOM J2-M ability to provide responsive and agile intelligence in support of their respective Combatant Commanders."</p><p>A rare <a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/washington-spends-200m-creating-intelligence-hub-in-britain-9391406.html ">report</a> in the UK media says the current Croughton expansion will eventually cost well over $300 million. Many people will have little problem with this because of the perceived threat from terrorism, but the points that the CAAB campaigners constantly make are the lack of transparency and public accountability. Without the persistence of Lindis Percy and the small CAAB community, very little would have entered the public domain. The deaths and counter-effects from the use of armed drones, let alone the recent revelations over rendition and torture, show just how unhealthy and damaging secrecy can be.</p><p>This makes <a href="http://www.ypdbooks.com/466_margaret-nunnerley">Margaret Nunnerley’s</a> book so timely.&nbsp; When it was published I wrote:</p><p>“Since CAAB was established twenty years ago we have seen...a remarkably increased capacity for those in authority to monitor the activities of civil society, not least of campaigners. At anytime this thoughtful and carefully researched book would have been a very valuable contribution but that last aspect makes it especially salient.” </p><p>The expansion now imminent at Croughton, and its relationship to one of the main new phases of the protracted war on terror, makes the point even more salient. The war is connecting dots across the world's map and bringing them closer to each other than ever before.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p> <a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group</a></p><p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php">Paul Rogers, </a><em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.caab.org.uk/">Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases</a></p><p>Margaret Nunnerley - <a href="http://www.ypdbooks.com/history/1073-surveillance-secrecy-and-sovereignty-how-a-peace-campaign-challenged-the-activities-of-a-us-base-in-britain-YPD01004.html"><em>Surveillance, Secrecy and Sovereignty: How a Peace Campaign Challenged the Activities of a US Base in Britain</em></a> (YPD Books, 2014) </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/gunship-archipelago">The gunship archipelago</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/britain-in-bahrain-eyes-wide-shut">Britain in Bahrain: eyes wide shut </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/tale-of-useful-bulldozer">The tale of the useful bulldozer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistaniraq-back-to-future">Afghanistan-Iraq: back to the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/red-poppies-and-arms-trade">Red poppies and the arms trade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-its-far-enemy">Islamic State vs its far enemy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">Remote control: light on new war </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/james-oconnell-and-peace-studies">James O&#039;Connell and peace studies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/non-violence-past-present-future">Non-violence: past, present, future </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/alternatives_3405.jsp">There are alternatives</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Can Europe make it? Arab Awakening OurKingdom Conflict Democracy and government democracy & power Globalisation global security Snooping on the innocent Paul Rogers Closely observed citizens Wed, 24 Dec 2014 19:36:34 +0000 Paul Rogers 89180 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Tunisia: the Arab exception's test https://www.opendemocracy.net/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/tunisia-arab-exception%27s-test <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The probable election victory of Béji Caid Essebsi is a vital moment in the pioneer country of the Arab revolts. It also reveals the scale of Tunisia's economic challenges.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Arab revolts which started four years ago ushered in a period of change in the Middle East and north Africa which has been more violent and chaotic that most observers foresaw at the time. Syria is self-destructing. Egypt has reverted to military rule. The brutal Islamic State has emerged, leading to growing sectarian division and threatening a region-wide conflagration.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><br />Amid the gloom, Tunisia - where the Arab revolts began in December 2010 - stands out as the one glimmer of real hope. Islamists won the general elections there in October 2011 but lost them two years later. A coalition of lay parties, <em>Nidaa Tounes</em>, led by the veteran politician Béji Caid Essebsi, won a plurality of votes in the elections in the country of October 2014. Essebsi is now set to become Tunisia’s fourth president, taking over from the erratic Moncef Marzouki (who is known in Tunis as <em>tartour</em> - the puppet, in his case of the Islamists. Essebsi maybe be 87 but his long career as ministerial colleague of the founder of modern Tunisia, Habib Bourguiba, suggests he will restore much needed dignity to the office of president.<br /><br />The run-up to the election on 21 December 2014 has <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-30569318">polarised</a> Tunisian politics. This is above all because many in both main sides - supporters of the incumbent president and his opponent, as well as foreign observers - regard their confrontation as an extension of the regional clash between revolutionary forces, including Islamists and counter-revolutionary forces. The pattern of voting certainly underlines the chasm between the two camps, which divides social classes and pits the elites of the coast against parts of the south and east. <br /><br />The risk of reviving political conflicts which have roots in the years of independence from France in the early 1950s is real. But the reality on the ground in Tunisia is also more nuanced than the "revolutionary vs counter-revolutionary" paradigm would suggest. The new president will have to reconcile Tunisians and show the region that Tunisia is exceptional in its capacity to forge a new dialogue, a new consensus. The three years of Moncef Marzouki’s presidency have in the end diminished the stature of this former opponent of Bourguiba's authoritarian successor, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Will Béji Caid Essebsi, whom early results suggest has indeed <a href="http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/middle-east/2014/12/21/Tunisians-vote-in-historic-presidential-run-off.html">won</a> the election, do better? <br /><br /><strong>The Bourguiba legacy</strong><br /><br />Habib Bourguiba had his faults, not least his incapacity to choose a successor by proper means when he was ailing in the 1980s. But the architect of Tunisia's independence did put in place some of the essential foundations a modern state. He benefited in turn from reformist predecessors who, well before the French invasion of 1881, had enacted bold constitutional reforms - a paid civil service, the beginnings of a modern army, the Saddiki College in Tunis (modelled on the French <em>lycée</em>), and a certain separation between the state and religion. <br /><br />Bourguiba gave Tunisian women equal rights in 1956 and family planning in 1961. These two major reforms explain the role women and the broader middle class play in the country today, and these two groups' resistance to the Islamists’ attempt to use identity politics and&nbsp; turn the clock back on women’s rights. They are key supporters of Béji Caid Essebsi (who is widely known as "Si Béji"). The early election results indicate that a majority of women voted for Béji, and that regional variations were also substantial: Béji got most votes in the poor eastern region of El Kef and the phosphate mining area of Gafsa in the south, while Marzouki did well in the south-central region of Kasserine and the south-east near the Libyan frontier. <br /><br />When he was Bourguiba's minister - in the prominent departments of foreign affairs, interior and defence - Essebsi acquired an experience in world affairs that should prove very useful today. He understands both the region and the wider world, has always enjoyed good relations with Tunisia’s powerful neighbour to the west, Algeria. This innate grasp will be key at a time when both armies are cooperating in the fight against terrorism, which affects the long border between the two countries. <br /><br />Political trust is a prerequisite to deeper economic cooperation. Algeria gave Tunisia more money than the European Union when Si Béji was prime minister in 2011, and acts as the <em>de facto</em> guarantor of Tunisian stability (with the discreet blessing of the United States). The continuing and dangerous turmoil in Libya reinforces the likelihood that the new president will have the strong support of many countries in the region and beyond. At 88, Si Béji is no budding dictator, and he is in any case fully committed to the rule of law. If Tunisia is to grow deeper democratic roots, making the state more accountable is essential. This especially applies to the judicial system and police.<br /><br />The prime minister he appoints will not necessarily be drawn from the ranks of <em>Nidaa Tounes</em>, the rather ramshackle party he has created and led since 2012, but it will have to be someone of stature. The mix of ministers - some political, some more technocratic - will send a vital signal to the population that the country is back in business. <em>Nidaa Tounes</em> is a coalition of personalities and groups and, in view of Si Béji’s age, a competent government led by a strong prime minister is necessary. New and younger talent should be brought to the fore - and it is available, as it is worth noting that the country’s elite did not flee after the fall of Ben Ali in January 2011. Indeed, thousands of educated Tunisians have come home, hoping to build a beacon of progress in north Africa.<br /><br />The economic platform of <em>Nidaa Tounes</em> is predicated on international financial support to the tune of $5bn annually for the next three years. This comes at a time of intense debate about the economic, demographic and regional challenges Tunisia faces. Pessimists fear the country might be heading for a train-wreck but seasoned observers - particularly those who know Si Béji - remain cautiously optimistic that democracy is putting down healthy roots. <br /><br />On a personal note, I have known him for forty years, and can confirm the impression of an <em>honnête homme</em> given in his fascinating 515-page memoirs - <em>Habib Bourguiba, le bon grain et l'ivraie: m</em><em><span class="st"><em>é</em></span>moires de Béji Caiïd Essebsi</em> (Sud Editions<em>,</em> Tunis, 2009). The memoirs are relatively candid for one who served in high office, and show Béji as usually siding with those who wished to reform the ruling Neo-Destour Party in Bourguiba's time. <br /><br /><strong>The Ben Ali distortion</strong><br /><br />One of the main obstacles to democratisation in the Middle East and north Africa is the opposition of Arab states to any such trend. This has not been the case in Tunisia, but its two neighbours present very contrasting situations. Libya is fast becoming a failed state, while uncertainty over Algeria makes it hard to predict the future course of this pivotal country.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><br />The relative benevolence of foreign powers towards Tunisia is explained by the fact that the old Tunisian elites are still in control. North Africa’s smallest country has witnessed a change <em>in</em> the regime but not a change <em>of</em> regime. Algeria’s attitude is shared by the US, the two countries which in 1987 were apprised of the military officer Ben Ali’s intention to oust an ailing President Habib Bourguiba. In 2011 as in 1987, France was keen to maintain the status quo at any cost and did not believe the president’s fall was imminent. The US recognised the legitimacy of the protesters in Tunisia for three reasons which are not found in other Arab countries. The uprising’s lack of political direction was reassuring; it was not exploited by the Islamists; and, last but not least, Tunisia is not strategic in the way that Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are. <br /><br />That the protesters were not supported by a foreign country gave their movement credibility and independence. They came from the poorer classes. Many were young people with little hope of regular employment, even when they had university degrees and especially if they lived in the underdeveloped hinterland. They felt crushed, deeply resented their humiliation, and had nothing to lose. By contrast the middle classes and the trades unions (organised in the UGTT) did have something to lose, yet nevertheless they played an important role in organising the second phase of the riots, along with other professional organisations such as the lawyers' federation and the Tunisia League of Human Rights. The army played a decisive role by not intervening; its refusal to fire on demonstrators contrasted with the response of militaries in other Arab states. It has played a key role in helping maintain the peace during the past four turbulent years. <br /><br />In the decade before the uprising, the Ben Ali regime had evolved into a mafia-style system. This kept the middle classes and the many genuine private-sector entrepreneurs at arms' length. Yet contrary to a commonly held view, the existence of a strong middle class in Tunisia did not translate into a process of democratisation. Its members were too dependent on the state and too bureaucratic. A feature of the economy which escaped most outside observers was the growing wealth disparities between the capital and the coast, and the increasingly poor western uplands and south of the country. Tunisians who live in the more affluent regions often hold their less educated and solvent compatriots in contempt. They forget that the profits from the phosphates mined for more than a century in the Gafsa region have never been reinvested there - all the value-added industries based on phosphate rock were built in the ports of Gabès and Sfax. Today, those poorer Tunisians are clamouring for their share of the wealth they created and which they have never enjoyed.<br /><br /><strong>The World Bank illusion</strong><br /><br />Tunisia in the Ben Ali years was held up as the poster-child for Arab economic success. An evaluation on the website of the World Bank on 27 October 2010 gushed with enthusiasm for the country’s economic performance:<br /><br />“Through a range of development loan programs with IRBD, Tunisia has boosted its global competitiveness and seen exports double over a little more than 10 years. The best illustration of Tunisia’s improved competitiveness is it total factor productivity growth, which often drives investment…..While productivity growth in 2000-2006 remained below South Korea’s and Malaysia’s, it represented one of the best performances in the Middle East and North Africa…..Tunisia ranked as Africa’s most competitive country’s in Davos’ 2009 Global Competitiveness Report.”<br /><br />The contrast with the report the World Bank published in September 2014 is stark This states that “although the perception in Tunisia is that the economy is open and relatively well integrated, in fact compared to benchmark countries Tunisia remains less open (as measured by the share of exports and imports to GDP) and quite protected. Beyond the shiny façade presented by the former regime (the economy) was clearly a system asphyxiated by its own corruption.” For the World Bank to eat humble pie is unusual, but its views were shared by the IMF, the European Investment Bank, the Davos Forum and many western governments. <br /><br />Neither of these reports addresses two vital issues, however. The first is the demographic profile of Tunisia. The average young Tunisian woman grew up in a family of seven children but will only bear one or two herself. Her mother was illiterate but her better educated daughter has neither the inclination nor the income to raise a large family. By 2000, Tunisia’s fertility rate had already fallen below replacement and is likely to fall further. One out of ten Tunisians is today an elderly dependant and, as the present generation ages, the ration will rise to about the same level as in western Europe. Even for wealthy western Europe, caring for this army of pensioners will strain resources to the limit. A poor country simply has no way to manage, and Tunisia has not provisioned for its rising number of older people.<br /><br />The second concern is the low level of much university education in Tunisia: roughly one third of secondary school graduates go on to university, but the diplomas they obtain are largely worthless. Diploma mills here as in most Arab and other developing countries deliver paper degrees without merit to half-trained graduates. Any self-respecting middle-class family strives to get its children into French universities. The children of the poorer hinterland, who only started getting into Tunisian universities in recent years, find the sacrifices their parents made in the hope of getting better jobs dashed. Often there simply are no jobs.&nbsp; <br /><br />Elite schools in China and India produce engineering graduates which meet world standards, but Turkey is the only Muslim country in the Middle East which can claim to do the same. Tunisia attracts a modest amount of foreign investment; but outsourcing by foreign companies adds only around 2,000 jobs a year, or one for every 180 university students. Although Tunisian engineers will work for a fifth of the cost of their European counterparts, there are simply not enough good engineers (let alone high-paying jobs even for the best ones). The most qualified university graduates seek greener pastures overseas. This is true not only of Tunisia but of all other Arab countries.<br /><br /><strong>The economic fulcrum</strong><br /><br />Three question remained unanswered when the revolt in Tunisia got underway:<br /><br />* To what degree would an uprising motivated by economic hardship make the very hardships which sparked it more severe as political and social turmoil led to a fall in output and a rise in unemployment? <br /><br />* How would private investors, be they domestic or foreign, react to a deterioration in the political, social and security environment in which they operated? <br /><br />* Would Tunisia’s key economic partners be&nbsp; reluctant to give the financial support that might help underpin more democratic politics and better economic governance? <br /><br />It was of course not Islam or poverty themselves that provoked the uprisings; it was the crushing humiliation that had deprived the majority of Tunisians who are under the age of thirty of the right to assert control over their own lives.<br /><br />In principle, political and economic reform should ideally be conducted concurrently and in an integrated fashion, lest worsening economic conditions and rising unemployment derail political revolutions. But this is usually not possible. The challenges Tunisia has faced over the past four years remain. Economic conditions have deteriorated. Unofficial unemployment has<em> de facto</em> risen. Food staples are much more expensive. Tens of thousands of Tunisians have been added to the state payroll without proper qualification or justification in having such a job. <br /><br />During the two years they governed Tunisia in 2012-13, the Islamists demonstrated their lack of interest, or inability, in addressing the economic and social problems of a modernising society. The Islamists favour free-wheeling - nay, crony - capitalism as do all authoritarian Arab regimes. Even more damming was their failure to control the hardline Salafi Islamists who not only resorted to violence in Tunisia but sent an estimated 3,000 of their number to Syria to join the war there. Such insecurity does little to attract domestic or foreign investment.<br /><br />When the Islamists reluctantly relinquished power in late 2013, the morale of what was arguably one of the best qualified civil services in the Middle East and north Africa had sunk very low. Many of the country’s frontiers were no longer under state control. Regional gangs of traders in illicit goods and guns paraded as Islamists, or vice versa, fuelling a huge growth in the informal sector. The consequences were dire. Cheap imported goods flooded the country and forced the closure of local manufacturing, while the state lost a large chunk of the tax take, thus forcing to it borrow more, notably abroad. This problem must be set in a broader context. Tunisian leaders have long viewed aid from overseas as something they are due. It is about time they faced up to harder options. Why not offer conditions which would attract the Tunisian diaspora to invest in Tunisia? Why not use some the tens of billions of domestic savings invested abroad to develop the country?<br /><br />The technocratic government which took over a year ago delivered a message as brutal as the bare statistics. GDP growth had averaged 2.3% annually since the fall of Ben Ali, 0.8% if government wages are subtracted (100,000 new recruits joined the civil service and state companies - many of the latter post huge deficits). That is the price paid for political expediency. Wages overall have grown by 40%, productivity by 0.2%. The cost of state subsidies to oil and gas products has rocketed by 270% over three years, and amounts to 6% of GDP. They essentially benefit well-off Tunisians. The budget deficit rose in 2013 to 6.5% of GDP, as against 5.7% in 2012, but would have risen much further had it not been for the very strong pressure from the IMF. The current-account deficit reached 9%, essentially the reflection of a deteriorating trade balance. Foreign debt, meanwhile, has increased by over a third to over 50% of GDP. Such figures are unsustainable. <br /><br />Strikes have proliferated as the UGTT, which brokered the Islamists' departure from government, continue to flex its muscles. Regional UGTT barons seem to think that nationalising or renationalising loss-making industries will save the country, and the union’s leadership in Tunis has difficulty in controlling its regional offshoots. The technocratic government led by Mehdi Jomaa did make some timid reforms in the run-up to the latest elections, and took important measures to re-establish security which had deteriorated during the years of Islamist government. But it lacked a clear political mandate. Growth over the past three years has been driven essentially by private consumption. The government started cutting subsidies, notably on fuel. But the aim of the fiscal reform it enacted was limited to increasing tax proceeds rather than making the system more investment-friendly.<br /><br />The latest World Bank report has provoked controversy in Tunis. Former ministers of Ben Ali have argued that the situation in 2010 was not as dire as the report makes out, which invites the retort that they were probably responsible for feeding statistics which were too optimistic and hiding other less savoury aspects of the regime. Not that this lets the World Bank of the hook: whether its mistaken diagnosis was the result of pusillanimity, political pressure in Washington or plain incompetence is hard to tell. To accept blame, however, is all to its credit. This will help redeem its image in Tunisia and allow an increase in loans if and when the new government - which will be appointed after the new president is inaugurated - chooses to seek help. By admitting that corruption was widespread in Tunisia, the report also opens a Pandora's box: is it not widespread in other countries of the region and why does the World Bank not say so? In other words, does the old order need to be overturned and more democratic politics to prevail before the World Bank tells the truth about its other Middle Eastern and North African clients? <br /><br /><strong>The strategic matrix</strong><br /><br />The success or failure of economic reforms in Tunisia will depend on how pragmatic the new government and president chose to be. Few politicians share the pessimistic view that the country’s economy might be facing a slow collapse; that poorer Tunisians will press for their share of the cake more forcefully than hitherto; that if the secular parties fail, the Islamists will get another chance to take the reins of government. The politicians have not convinced many among the under 30s who confronted Ben Ali’s security forces four years ago to vote: 3m Tunisians who are entitled to vote out of a total of 10m are not registered. They are, if anything, less hopeful of getting a job than in 2010.&nbsp; In the first round of presidential elections, younger Tunisian abstained massively. Only half of those entitled to vote cast their ballot. <br /><br />The economic priorities of the new government will have to include building major infrastructure with a view to integrating the poorer western and southern hinterlands into the country’s economy; reforming the bureaucratic manner in which the country is governed, getting rid of the myriad authorisations and rules which hand far too much power to bureaucrats (159 infrastructure projects worth <span class="st">€</span>8.8bn are in abeyance since the end of 2010); and encouraging young people to set up small companies, but at the same time backing those large companies which export goods with real added value. Crony capitalism and helping insiders must be curbed, a cardinal sin in a capital where so many families are related to one another. <br /><br />Aiming state subsidies at those who need them and making the middle classes pay the full price for the foodstuffs and the fuel they consume, and cutting state support for the oil and gas which serves as feedstock for industry, are other requirements. The government could do worse than give much greater support to <em>Enda Inter-Arabe</em>, an ONG founded in 1990 which supports micro-entrepreneurs by providing financial (micro-credit) and non-financial services (training, coaching, trade fairs); 40% of its branches are located in rural areas. A recent visit to their offices, and some beneficiaries in Menzel Temime in the rural Cap Bon area north east of Tunis shows how far a credit of 500 or 1,000 Tunisian <em>dinars</em> (<span class="st">€</span>500 or (<span class="st">€</span>1,000) can go in the hands of determined, modest people. <em>Enda Inter-Arabe</em> certainly puts the <em>Banque Nationale de l’Agriculture</em>, which only lends to wealthy farmers, to shame. <br /><br />But first the governmrnt must bring the informal sector under control and ensure that the state does not lose an estimated half of the tax income it is owed by its citizens. Mopping up the huge amount of informal money washing around Tunisia is essential to get the economy back working and to weaken the criminal networks which have flourished amid the corrosion of state authority. Being transparent, daring to debate publicly - the age of social networks and the internet has smashed censorship - and keeping the powerful trades union UGTT engaged: all this will require high political skills. A new social compact between the government, the unions and the employers' federation UTICA is a must. The economy has proved more resilient than might have been expected; the country’s central bank, buffeted as it has been by strong political and security ill-winds, has played its regulatory role with poise. That role should be reinforced. Meanwhile, the security impact from the chaos in Libya is worrying, though in fact has been rather beneficial in economic terms. <br /><br />The immediate aims of the new government will be twofold. First, to get a budget for 2015 approved by the national assembly. The draft submitted to parliament before the October elections was not even debated by deputies. The UGTT fully agrees that this needs to be passed. Beyond this, bold reforms are unlikely to be enacted quickly. Second, to offer a fresh policy to rekindle foreign interest in exploring for oil and gas (energy accounts for 7.5% of Tunisia's GDP). Agreements need to be concluded with Italy and Algeria concerning the buying and selling of electricity; to build a legal framework which encourages the production of renewable energy and shale gas; and to simply existing rules, which are too many and too complex. Getting the right mix of energy policies is all the more pressing because Tunisia risks losing part of its manufacturing offshore sector to eastern Europe because of rising costs. International aid should be conditioned, to a degree, on the next government enacting a long-term energy policy worthy of what the sector could contribute to Tunisia’s economic recovery.<br /><br />The new Tunisian leaders will also need western countries to put their money where their mouths are. The authoritarian regime of President Ben Ali was not merely an internal affair, but one bolstered by the United States, France and international organisations such as the IRBD. If the Middle East is to be managed for its resource rents or the ability of certain countries to stay stable, then outside powers will have to do much of the management. Lecturing Tunisia, of all countries, on economic reform is almost risible. Tunisia’s resource rents were manipulated and shared by international interests playing their own game. By 2010, the recent IRBD report notes, firms belonging to Ben Ali’s extended family accounted for “a striking 21.3% of all net private sector profits” - which amounts to 0.5% of GDP. <br /><br />The Tunisian people are unlikely to recover the billions worth of property, shares and gold that the Ben Ali clan secreted in France, Switzerland, the US and elsewhere. Would it not be timely for the US, France and the European Union to support the new Tunisian government with a mixture of loans and investment guarantees? Debt write-offs might be superficially attractive, but their net effect would be to damage the country’s signature. A mix of loans and guarantees will help to stabilise the country and prove that democracy delivers - surely a wise investment in the medium term. The great lesson Tunisia has yet to learn is how to mobilise the talent and resources of its diaspora. The Chinese are an example worth examining here; but no Arab country, to date, seems to notice or care.<br /><br /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-tunisian-odyssey">North African diversities: a Tunisian odyssey</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-personal-odyssey">North African diversities: a personal odyssey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/algeria-football-and-france%27s-black-box">Algeria, football, and France&#039;s &quot;black box&quot;</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-moroccan-odyssey">North African diversities: a Moroccan odyssey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-algeria-in-flux">North African diversities: Algeria in flux</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-algerian-odyssey">North African diversities: an Algerian odyssey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/north-african-diversities-algerian-tales-maghrebi-dreams">North African diversities: Algerian tales, Maghrebi dreams</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/francis-ghil%C3%A8s/tunisia-from-hope-to-delivery">Tunisia, from hope to delivery</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tunisia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Tunisia Democracy and government International politics middle east democracy & power Globalisation Francis Ghilès Sun, 21 Dec 2014 05:53:09 +0000 Francis Ghilès 89100 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The presidential election and linguistic violence in Tunisia https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/anouar-jamaoui/presidential-election-and-linguistic-violence-in-tunisia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The leading presidential candidates and some of their supporters are setting a bad example&nbsp;<span style="font-size: 12.7272720336914px; line-height: 17.7272720336914px;">with hostile, exclusionist rhetoric,&nbsp;</span><span style="font-size: 12.7272720336914px; line-height: 17.7272720336914px;">fuelling a tense political atmosphere</span><span style="font-size: 13px; line-height: 1.5;">.</span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/5-7cp8dEXp2y3BfRF7ugkB5V7Rdr02RuZi1yfV8dFso/mtime:1418743969/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/6340657.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="First round election results. Demotix/Chedly Ben Ibrahim. All rights reserved."><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/uTBvOHylvbaMhcrTpjGrMQcnM9t1YIHusQ2p8V5M16w/mtime:1418740709/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/6340657.jpg" alt="" title="First round election results. Demotix/Chedly Ben Ibrahim. All rights reserved." width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p class="image-caption">First round election results. Demotix/Chedly Ben Ibrahim. All rights reserved.</p><p><span>One of the striking achievements of Tunisians in the post-revolution era was the adoption of a consensual democratic constitution, securing freedom of expression and free choice of the country’s rulers. The first round of the presidential election, held on 23 November 2014, was a historical opportunity to incarnate the sacrosanct principle of people’s sovereignty, an occasion for Tunisians to freely choose the most competent leader from among the 27 presidential candidates.</span></p> <p><span>Heavy citizen participation in the election—62.9 percent of the total electorate—contributed to the success of Tunisia’s nascent democracy. The results revealed a sharp break with the past, with the grim days of dictatorship when one unrivalled candidate won the majority of votes.</span></p> <p><span>The elections showed that Tunisians’ attitudes toward the choice of their leader have changed. Two candidates made it to the </span><a href="http://www.afp.com/en/news/tunisia-hold-presidential-runoff-dec-21">second round</a><span>: Beji Kaid Essebsi (88 years old) came first with 39.46 percent of the votes, and Mohamed Moncef Marzouki (69 years old) second with 33.43 percent.</span></p> <p><span>The margin between the two candidates did not exceed </span><a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/25/tunisia-election-essebsi-marzouki-runoff-vote">six percent</a><span>. Such a result indicates clearly enough the integrity and the reliability of the electoral process, as well as Tunisians’ refusal to align themselves with one single person, and their faith in political pluralism as the only viable substitute for repugnant unilateralism.</span></p> <p><span>However, the sense of relief felt in the hearts of Tunisians after assuming their political and electoral duties in an atmosphere of transparency and freedom did not last long. The public speeches of the two winners in the first round, along with the statements made by their respective partisans, proved to be neither reassuring nor encouraging. Both politicians and supporters went so far as to condemn the voters for choosing this or that candidate, making the voter a victim of voicing his or her political point of view.</span></p> <p><span>For example, Beji Kaid Essebsi, who commented on the election results in an </span><a href="http://www.tunisia-live.net/2014/11/25/second-round-presidential-candidates-exchange-blows/">interview</a><span> with the announcer Jean-Jacques Bordan of radio Monte Carlo, claims that those who opted for Marzouki are Salafists, Jihadists, and violent members of the League of Protection of the Revolution. Essebsi added, "unfortunately, there will be a sharp division, a sharp chasm in the texture of our society between Islamists on one level and Democrats and non-Islamists on another."</span></p> <p><span>Describing the electoral behavior in such a manner can only split the electorate in a Manichean way into two groups. The first comprises the supporters of Marzouki (about one million and 92 thousand voters) who are invariably qualified as extremists and heretics. The second includes Essibsi’s supporters who are charged with being accomplices of the Ben Ali regime. Judging part of the electorate by putting them in one basket called "Salafism and extremism" is categorically exclusionist.</span></p> <p><span>Essebsi forgot that there are no detailed statistical data issued by authoritative bodies in relation to the ideological affiliations of the supporters of the acting president. In fact, they come from different intellectual and cultural backgrounds. Many observers have depicted them as a mosaic of Tunisian society. Among them we find ideologues and non-ideologues, heretics and modernists, partisans and non-partisans of political parties, religious groups and secular elites, liberals and conservatives.</span></p> <p><span>These voters cannot be grouped under the banner of one ideology. Moreover, the classification of voters into two categories, Islamists and democrats, is improper as it leads to the division of Tunisians on the basis of ideological allegiances. Division engenders polarisation and exclusion in a nascent democracy. Conversely, the tendency to claim that one candidate is committed heart and soul to the protection of democracy while the other is its eternal foe is undeniably illogical.</span></p> <p><span>Tunisians have chosen a democratic political system, thereby electing the peaceful handover of power as a substitute for the </span><em>coup d’état</em><span>. This is why they walked to the polling centers to cast their votes for one candidate. Their hope is to erect the solid pillars of the civil state. Their simple dream is to safeguard political pluralism.</span></p> <p><span>In a political environment pervaded by verbal violence, a university professor and a partisan of Nidaa Tounes downgraded the supporters of Marzouki as scum. The heightening of political tension has led to this escalation of </span><a href="http://carnegieendowment.org/syriaincrisis/?fa=57409&amp;reloadFlag=1">linguistic violence</a><span> and in turn to a state of social anger. Language has the potential and the energy to propel people into action and reaction.</span></p> <p><span>Thousands of Tunisians walked to the streets in popular rallies to express their dissatisfaction with Essebsi and his biting comments, defending their freedom to vote for the man of their choice. They carried slogans picturing themselves not as terrorists but as civilians. Their chief argument is that they elected Marzouki in in the first round on the grounds that he presented a more promising electoral manifesto. He seems for them more convincing owing to their confidence in his democratic project and his achievements as a defender of human rights.</span></p> <p><span>As regards Marzouki’s assets and the nature of those who elected him, Abdel Moneim Mabrouky, a Tunisian resident in Washington, comments on his Facebook page:</span></p> <p><span class="blockquote-new">"I live in the heart of western modernity and cherish its values of liberty and independence. I love openness and hate fanaticism. I find much pleasure in drinking wine, and I voted for Marzouki because he is a defender of human and civil rights. He safeguards the right to difference and pluralism."</span></p> <p><span>Likewise, Phaedra Motahari wrote on her Facebook page:&nbsp;</span><span>"I chose Marzuki not because I love him, but because of his call for and commitment to the consecration of democracy, and the preservation of the gains of the revolution".</span></p> <p><span>Huda Idris, a university professor, also said:</span></p> <p class="blockquote-new">"I earned a PhD. degree and speak four languages. I studied in Tunisian universities. I love movies and travel...I'm not a Salafist, and I elected Marzouki because of my confidence in his modernist electoral project." </p> <p><span>Against this backdrop, we can see how citizens, by electing the candidate they trust, exercise their freedom of choice, and consider the election not only a right but also a duty that cannot be confiscated and manipulated by any party.</span></p> <p><span>From another angle, Mohamed Moncef Marzouki’s electoral campaign is overshadowed by a variety of abuses and linguist violence. His political discourse has provoked both his political rival and his partisans. On their Facebook pages, Marzouki’s supporters have reiterated a whole host of phrases and statements laden with epithets disparaging Beji Kaid Essebsi as an ugly “traitor,” “ a secret agent,” “a dinosaur,” “a dictator,” and “a mummy.”</span></p> <p><span>Such appellations certainly fall short of providing substantive and objective evaluations of Essebsi’s electoral program and political performance. They are limited to superficial readings of his long political career, readings that revolve only around the demonisation of a presidential candidate rather than around a critical assessment of his skills and defects.</span></p> <p><span>In an interview with </span><a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20141125-anti-islamist-essebsi-leads-tunisia-presidential-vote/">France24</a><span> on 25 November 2014, Marzouki said: "The accomplices of the dissolved autocratic system of the Democratic Constitutional Rally supported Essebsi." No doubt, such a view requires relativisation. It is true that a significant number of those who voted for the candidate of Nida Tounes are partisans of the old regime. However, many of them are real opponents. Within their ranks, we find Liberals, Nationalists, Leftists, and Bourguibists who backed up aji Caidr Essebsi because of their dismay at the political and economic performance of the Troika coalition government in the transitional period. It follows naturally that one cannot classify all voters as partisans of the ex-regime.</span></p> <p><span>Marzouki went further to proclaim, "the final victory of Beji will push the country towards the brink of political instability." Such an assertion can fall only in the category of psychological intimidation, the ultimate purpose of which is to frighten the electorate of a political rival.</span></p> <p><span>It would be more beneficial for Marzouki to explain the risks that Tunisia may confront if Essebsi ultimately wins the election, including the risks linked to his age, to his complicity with old regime, and to the possibility of the country’s regression to tyranny. Instead, his public speeches were characterized by psychological intimidation that transformed Essebsi into a bogeyman and obliterated his achievements. Despite his flaws one cannot possibly forget his active contribution to the success of the watershed elections of 23 October 2011.</span></p> <p><span>After the declaration of the results of the first round of the election, some of Marzouki’s supporters opted for the tactic of inciting Tunisian southerners against northerners, because the latter voted for Essebsi. But Tunisians have rejected calls to push the country toward civil strife. Currently, there exists a widespread refusal of the political rhetoric calling for revenge and the persecution of those who are nicknamed the old regime’s henchmen. Today, Tunisians know well that the mere recourse to Manichean discourse foreshadows fomenting strife, the division of the country due to regional conflicts, potential threats to social peace, and the failure of the nascent democratic experience.</span></p> <p><span>The majority of Tunisians perceive the election as an assertion of existence and an act of self-expression, thereby turning the Cartesian </span><em>cogito ergo sum</em><span> into "I elect, therefore I am". They can no longer accept any control of their minds, any censorship of their thoughts, and any standardisation of their electoral behaviour. it will be better if politicians appropriate the kind of socio-political consciousness which citizens have gained by respecting their right to vote for the presidential candidate of their choice.</span></p> <p><span>It is vital that politicians hone their awareness of what ought to be said, and when, where, and how to speak. It is crucial that they recognise that apologising to the citizens is part and parcel of decorum. It is essential that they know when language should be channelled and utilised to consolidate national union. They should take into account that political rhetoric has, inevitably, strong effects on the masses. But most of all it is quintessential that they acknowledge that that the chilly logic of exclusion and counter-exclusion can in no way boost democratic coexistence. It can only destroy national unity and facilitate the deviation of political life from the peaceful competition for power to intolerance and anarchy.</span></p> <p><span>If the two presidential candidates really take into consideration the welfare of all Tunisians in their respective political agendas, they have to use language positively. They have to send clear messages reassuring Tunisians. The man who will rule Tunisia ought to appear in the image of a president who does not differentiate between people, but who brings them together under the blue sky of the same country, under the banner of freedom and the right to difference rather than under deceptive slogans of the God-leader who claims to possess the absolute truth.</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/anouar-jamaoui/decline-of-political-islam-in-tunisia">The decline of political Islam in Tunisia</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/tim-baster-isabelle-merminod/tunisia-elections-justice-and-dignity"> Tunisia: elections, justice and dignity </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/sarah-wolff/tunisia%E2%80%99s-forthcoming-elections-transition-at-risk-and-arms-sales-won%E2%80%99t-r">Tunisia’s forthcoming elections: transition at risk and arms sales won’t rescue</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ayman-ayoub/tunisias-elections-consolidating-democracy">Tunisia&#039;s elections: consolidating democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Tunisia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Arab Awakening Tunisia Democracy and government middle east democracy & power elections Arab Awakening Anouar Jamaoui Fri, 19 Dec 2014 01:21:21 +0000 Anouar Jamaoui 88936 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Britain in Bahrain: eyes wide shut https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/britain-in-bahrain-eyes-wide-shut <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>&nbsp;A new naval base in the Gulf reveals both the flaws in Britain's strategic thinking and the limits of its military capacity. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The British government announced on 6 December 2014 that it was expanding its use of port facilities at Mina Salman in Bahrain into a full naval base. The news was greeted by protests from the <em>Shi’a</em> majority in the Gulf <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/bahrain.htm">kingdom</a>; many called for the removal of the United Kingdom's <a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/people/iain-lindsay">ambassador</a>, Iain Lindsay. </p><p>A potent <a href="http://me-confidential.com/8861-expansion-of-british-naval-base-in-bahrain-ignites-demonstrations.html">argument</a> now circulating is that the <em>Sunni</em>-dominated government is paying most of the cost of the new<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/12/britain-open-naval-base-bahrain-2014126222429935936.html"> base</a> as a reward for Britain’s turning a blind eye to human-rights abuses in Bahrain - especially since protests erupted there in the early months of the "Arab spring". <a href="https://bahrainwatch.org/ ">Bahrain Watch</a> and other human-rights groups have long <a href="http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/bahrain">criticised</a> the government in Manama, but they have had little impact on British government policy.</p><p>The UK base will not be large in comparison to the substantial United States naval headquarters for its fifth fleet, just up the coast. But is still significant, as the first permanent presence "east of Suez" since the Britain <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/britain%27s-withdrawal-from-east-of-suez-jeffrey-pickering/?K=9780333695265">withdrew</a> from the region in 1971. In its own way, the symbolism is <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/world/middle-east/bahrain-agrees-to-uk-navy-base">considerable</a>, even though such military commitments overseas are now out of line with domestic opinion. </p><p>The <em>Financial Times</em> reports that: "The base, which is planned to open in 2016, will include accommodation for crews and facilities to support and resupply vessels, as well as support for the long-term deployment of frigates and destroyers” (see Elizabeth Dickinson, "<a href="The base, which is planned to open in 2016, will include accommodation for crews and facilities to support and resupply vessels, ">Bahrain naval base will give UK stronger Gulf presence</a>", <em>Financial Times</em>, 7 December 2014).</p><p>The Royal Navy has deployed small minesweepers out of Bahrain for some years. But when destroyers and other larger vessels use Mina Salman, their crew sleep on board and there are few naval facilities for the larger ships ashore. With a full-scale naval base, such warships will be able to deploy regularly from the site.</p><p>Mina Salman will even be <a href="http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/bahrain/11278281/Protests-erupt-over-British-decision-to-open-military-base-in-Bahrain.html">used</a> by the 70,000-ton <em>Queen Elizabeth</em> <a href="http://www.aircraftcarrieralliance.co.uk/the-ships/the-queen-elizabeth-class.aspx">aircraft-carrier</a>. This vessel's ability to roam the seas with aircraft on board will take the UK right back to the 1960s, when the navy had fleet-carriers operating in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific.</p><p><strong>A two-ship navy</strong></p><p>London's official line is that the base will enable the UK to contribute to regional security at a time when it is threatened by a variety of forces, including the Islamic State and <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/03/06/us-bahrain-iran-unrest-idUSBREA250V920140306">Iranian</a> ambitions. The current overall uncertainties, runs the view, require “mature” states such as Britain to help maintain stability. A further advantage will be improved access to the enormously lucrative <a href="https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/middle-east/10510-gulf-states-among-worlds-largest-arms-importersSee">arms market</a> in the Gulf states, which easily trumps concerns over human rights. An upgraded UK military presence at a time when Saudi Arabia and the local emirates fear increased Iranian influence in the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persian_Gulf#mediaviewer/File:Persian_Gulf_map.png">region</a>, especially in Iraq, offers potential <a href="http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/gulf-states-requesting-abm-capable-systems-04390/">benefits</a> for political and business elites on both sides.</p><p>The justification for the base on the British side avoids any mention of the decline of North Sea oil production, and the UK's probable increasing <a href="http://www.eia.gov/countries/cab.cfm?fips=UK">dependence</a> on Gulf oil, suggesting a touch of smoke-and-mirrors about its narrative. There is also litle effort to address the disconnect with the majority view that opposes military involvement overseas, especially the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq (though this may be combined with support for the armed forces, especially soldiers). The prevailing opinion is that British defence <a href="https://www.rusi.org/news/ref:N54087ED64A525/#.VInNHXvUZOY">policy</a> should be rooted in the defence of the country rather than major overseas operations, which contrasts markedly with that of the defence establishment. The latter believes that Britain must regain a global role as a leading state, not least through maintaining a <a href="https://www.iiss.org/en/publications/strategic%20comments/sections/2014-a6f5/uk-aircraft-carrier--projecting-military-power-e89d">capability</a> for "power projection".</p><p>A <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/swish-report-25">SWISH report</a> published in October 2014 analysed current British naval policy, pointing out that a large proportion of the navy’s entire force was on the way to having two huge aircraft-carriers, the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/gordon_browns_white_elephants">largest</a> warships ever built for the Royal Navy, together with new submarines for the Trident nuclear force (see also "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">In defence of greatness: Britain's carrier saga</a>", 12 May 2012). This is an enormous commitment, especially in the context of the defence budget as whole. In fact, there is no guarantee that both of the carriers will be deployed; but even if they are, the navy’s <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/british_seapower_3733.jsp">role</a> will essentially boil down to an ability to have one aircraft-carrier and one ballistic-missile submarine readily deployable at any one time.</p><p>Neither missile submarine nor carrier operates on its own. The submarine is backed up by what is <a href="http://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/operations/global/continuous-at-sea-deterrent">termed</a> “deterrence support”, which includes nuclear-powered attack-submarines and back-up from surface warships (“skimmers” in submarine parlance). The aircraft-carrier will operate at the centre of a substantial task-group that includes one or two destroyers or frigates, an attack-submarine, and a support-tanker and supplies ship. To have an escort such as a destroyer or a frigate deployed east of Suez requires three ships: one on station, one either sailing to or from the deployment area, and one in repair or replenishment (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/britain_s_defence_all_at_sea">Britain's defence: all at sea</a>", 12 July 2006)</p><p>Overall, the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-30355953">new</a> base in the Gulf is part of a transformation of the Royal Navy into what is essentially a two-ship navy with not much else available for other duties. This seems not to matter if Britain can at least give an <a href="https://www.rusi.org/publications/other/ref:N517AA8D59D1B3/">impression</a> of being a major naval power, whatever the reality behind the move.</p><p><strong>A gift to enemies</strong></p><p>A long-serving ministry of defence civil servant, whose early had coincided with the days of <em><a href="http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-04CV-Eagle.htm">HMS Eagle</a> </em>and the other fleet-carriers, once remarked that the post-1945 function of Britain’s aircraft-carriers was essentially to have a deck large enough for the band of the Royal Marines to be able to beat the retreat at sunset in a tropical port, watched by the officers’ wives and local dignitaries drinking their Pimm's (suitably enhanced with local tropical fruits). People really had to understand this, he said.</p><p>It may have been a cynical and condescending view, but as so often with civil-service observations it had an element of truth. Even now, elements of the British establishment still hanker after the days of <a href="http://www.britishempire.co.uk/maproom/bahrain.htm">empire</a> - and there are traces of this longing in the new base in the Gulf (see "<a href="http://www.economist.com/news/britain/21636071-new-naval-base-bahrain-echo-past-were-back">Britain in the Middle East: We're back</a>", <em>Economist</em>, 13 December 2014).&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The much bigger issue, though, is that the Bahrain initiative puts the UK much more <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1386798/britain-beefs-up-military-might-in-bahrain">centrally</a> into conflict in the Middle East. In London the base may be regarded as a positive move in support of British interests, especially as the United States pivots towards the Asia-Pacific region; but in much of the region it will be seen as yet one more example of western interference.</p><p>There will, in short, be a striking coalescence of views between enemies. Extreme <em>Sunni</em> Islamist groups such as the Islamic State will <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-its-far-enemy">portray</a> Mina Salman as evidence of British support for unacceptable elitist <em>Sunni</em> leaderships; Iran will see it as offering support to the Bahraini royal family as it <a href="http://www.refworld.org/docid/536743ff4.html">suppresses</a> the marginalised <em>Shi’a</em> majority. To be able to antagonise Raqqa and Tehran at the same time is really quite an achievement. The British quest to recapture some degree of status, if not a sense of greatness, risks a heavy price.&nbsp; <br /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p><p><a href="https://bahrainwatch.org/">Bahrain Watch</a></p><p><a href="http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/bahrain">Human Rights Watch - Bahrain</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415419383/" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/afghanistaniraq-back-to-future">Afghanistan-Iraq: back to the future</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-vs-its-far-enemy">Islamic State vs its far enemy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/tale-of-useful-bulldozer">The tale of the useful bulldozer</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-power-of-belief">Islamic State: power of belief</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/red-poppies-and-arms-trade">Red poppies and the arms trade</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">Remote control: light on new war </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-war-iraq%27s-echo">The Islamic State war: Iraq&#039;s echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/gordon_browns_white_elephants">Gordon Brown&#039;s white elephants</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict/british_seapower_3733.jsp">British sea power: a 21st-century question</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/in-defence-of-greatness-britains-carrier-saga">In defence of greatness: Britain&#039;s carrier saga</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bahrain </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Bahrain middle east democracy & power global security Paul Rogers Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:44:14 +0000 Paul Rogers 88759 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Erdoğan and Putin: unalike likeness https://www.opendemocracy.net/dimitar-bechev/erdo%C4%9F-and-putin-unalike-likeness <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The leaders of Turkey and Russia are often compared. But their differences are more instructive than their similarities.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Strongmen are in high demand across Europe’s fringes these days. Hungary’s prime minister Victor Orbán hit a raw nerve when, addressing a crowd of admirers in neighbouring Romania in July 2014, he declared that the era of liberal democracy was over. Orbán, the <em>bête noire</em> of many a Europhile, vowed to lead the Hungarian nation with a firm grip and to protect its vital interests against foreign encroachments. Amongst the examples he cited as inspiring this resolve were Russia and Turkey.</p><p>Orbán was not the first, nor will he be the last, to put Vladimir Putin and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in the same basket. Turkey’s combative prime minister (now president) raised cries of “Putinisation" from his opponents as early as September 2009, when he despatched the tax authorities to impose a $3.8 million fine on Doğan Holding, a powerful media group.&nbsp; </p><p>There were differences: the streetwise businessman turned media mogul Aydın Doğan was treated far less roughly than had been Mikhail Khodorkovsky and his Yukos company.&nbsp; Erdoğan's personal feud, on this occasion at least, sent no one to prison - and Doğan Holding is still around. </p><p>Yet the tax-violation case did echo the painfully familiar Russian maxim: “<em>druzyam - vsyo, vragam - zakon</em>” (“friends get everything, enemies get the law"). The selective application of the law showed who was the boss in Turkey. Soon the spectre of “Putinisation”&nbsp; would overshadow previous concerns that Erdoğan's Justice &amp; Development Party (AKP) was seeking the Islamisation of society and the state. Turkey, it was said, was turning not into the Islamic Republic of Iran but into a second Russia.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>By 2013, with Erdoğan’s security clampdown on the civic protests around Istanbul's Gezi Park - and his enthronement as a sultan-like president a year later - the parallel with the Kremlin's master was becoming even more salient. After all, Putin himself had reoccupied the presidency in 2012 in the wake of the protest rallies at Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square, having proved adept - again like Erdoğan - at exploiting the anger and frustration of a disenchanted urban middle class that had benefited from a decade of robust economic growth but was now feeling less secure. </p><p>Their responses to the protests were similar in style if different in detail. Putin spied a plot to export a "colour revolution", Erdoğan a conspiracy fomented by the global “interest-rate lobby” to thwart Turkey’s inexorable rise. In each case the leader's rhetorical and, latterly real, wars paid off. Putin annexed Crimea and detached parts of eastern Ukraine, in the process showing how foreign policy can be used to consolidate domestic support. Erdoğan had already bolstered his popularity via virulent attacks on Israel as well as the United States, and deployed the same fiery nationalist discourse over the conflict in Syria.&nbsp; </p><p>In both cases too, relations with the European Union have been poisoned amid Moscow and Ankara's frequent recriminations and complaints of unfair treatment. Rejection by Europe has brought the two supposed "rising powers" closer, an embrace helped by the good personal chemistry between Erdoğan and Putin (notwithstanding the indirect clash over Syria, where they back opposing sides). Turkey, a longstanding Nato member, has declined to join western sanctions against Russia over Ukraine; bilateral trade is booming (partly fuelled by the Turkish economy's need for gas); Turkey’s construction companies earn lucrative contracts from Sochi to Moscow; and millions of Russian tourists flock to Turkey's Mediterranean resorts.</p><p><strong>Power and its constraints</strong></p><p>It is to be expected, then, that some analysts see Erdoğan and Putin as two sides of the same coin. Natalie Nougayrède, writing in the <em>Guardian</em>, speaks of “the two angry men on Europe’s borders” who ruthlessly pursue power, exploit historical traumas and myths of victimhood, and mix nationalism and anti-liberal traditionalism to pose a fundamental challenge to European values. Others refer to an "axis of the excluded”. </p><p>There is certainly a grain of truth in these views. Both Turkey's illiberal system and Russia's autocratic regime snub the model projected by the west - and the European Union in particular; both leaders seek inspiration in past empires (Ottoman and Tsarist-Soviet) rather than Brussels’ EU-topia. They are a poignant reminder that liberal democracy with its insistence on the rule of law, pluralism and deliberation is not the only game in town. The alternative they represent - the omnipresent and venerated state, the strong-willed and charismatic leader, the direct appeal to the masses through the skilful use of media, the staunch belief in sovereignty, and the reluctance to delegate or share power (either domestically or in the context of international institutions) - is a radical contrast to the EU’s narrative.</p><p>Yet differences between the two strongmen and their political tactics may outweigh similarities. First, the mismatch between Erdoğan’s anti-western rhetoric and his far more restrained actions is notable. The regional crisis has underscored Turkey’s continued dependence on the west. Erdoğan's anger with the US - over its aid to the Syrian Kurds fighting Islamic State<em> jihadis</em> in Kobane, and its refusal to intervene forcefully against Bashar al-Assad in Damascus - exposes Turkey's continued military dependency: it needs Nato’s Patriot missiles to be deployed along its porous border with Syria, and even more US "boots on the ground" to help address Turkey's vulnerability. </p><p>By contrast, Putin’s grudge is that the the US and EU are meddling in what he sees as Russia's privileged sphere of influence; thus the incursion into Ukraine to expunge western influence away from the post-Soviet space and control Kyiv’s choices by way of creating a new "frozen conflict". </p><p>Second, there are divergences in domestic politics. In Putin’s authoritarian system, elections are a mere sideshow and the <em>Duma</em> rubber-stamps the Kremlin's decisions; under Erdoğan and the AKP, electoral legitimacy matters, and political authority is a function of it. Turkey's polarised society generates a political system, which, for all its flaws, is more competitive than Russia's. It shares and benefits from a longer tradition of (albeit imperfect) democracy. While Putin’s regime is about creating and sustaining fake opposition parties and staging elections, in Turkey ballots do count. Erdoğan’s choice to run for the presidency was conditioned by the AKP's strong showing in the municipal polls of 31 March.&nbsp; </p><p>Looking ahead, the legislative elections of 2015 will be critical for the government as they will decide whether AKP will win enough seats to adopt a new constitutional draft and bring in a presidential system. Again, this confirms the importance of elections and institutions do matter in Turkey compared to Russia. After all, Erdoğan is an electoral politician who worked his way up from the streets of Istanbul to the peak of power; Putin is a security operative whose roots lie in the state's repressive apparatus.</p><p><strong>The roots of difference</strong></p><p>If the outcome in Turkey were highly personalised rule where one individual grabs all levers of power and suppresses dissent, such distinctions might seem irelevant. Here it is important to note that key parts of the AKP pro-democracy narrative of the early 2000s - when the party acted as a champion of Europeanisation, human and minority rights - remain in place. The Kurdish peace (or solution) process has been dealth a heavy blow by Ankara’s alignment with IS and unwillingness to come to the rescue of the Syrian Kurds, yet it survives. Erdoğan, together with the jailed head of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), Abdullah Öcalan, remains at the forefront of efforts to heal a scar that has torn Turkey’s polity for decades. Whether Turkey’s president delivers or not on the promise to settle the conflict will determine the final judgment on his reign. </p><p>Furthermore, Erdoğan and Putin relate in dissimilar ways to tradition and religious identity.&nbsp; The war in Ukraine has exposed the heterogeneous and tenuous nature of the Kremlin’s ideological message, which combines references to Orthodoxy with glorification of the Soviet past. Putin's bid to undermine western ideological hegemony has also seen him join forces with both Europe's far left and the extreme right; in ways reminiscent of Slobodan Milošević’s Serbia, communist-era apparatchiks and security-service types (<em>siloviki</em>) have co-opted culture and faith - and consulted PR experts - to concoct a postmodern pastiche whose sole purpose is legitimising autocracy. </p><p>Again by contrast, the AKP and Erdoğan draw on a longer organic tradition of political Islam whose roots lie in the 1960s (if not earlier). Its central preoccupation is the question of whether and how religious values and modernity can be reconciled. Erdoğan's image as an “authentic“ conservative - as opposed to self-seeking politician using tradition as a mere tool - might be questioned; but it is central to the identity of the AKP’s cohesive party base and its dense grassroots networks. And it's worth recalling that Erdoğan was educated at a religious seminary (<em>imam hatip</em>)&nbsp; - a far cry from the Soviet schools attended by Putin, following by KGB training. </p><p><strong>Empire vs nation-state</strong></p><p>The best way to see this relationship might be in terms of two dissimilar post-imperial situations. Putin is a product of the Soviet empire as well of its collapse in the 1980s-90s. His objective is to restore its power and prestige. Russia, unlike Turkey, never underwent a process of nation-state homogenisation; empire is a vivid reality even in its present confines, rather than a historical artefact and resource of memory (Russia is home to a large Muslim population, Turkey has very few non-Muslims left). </p><p>Erdoğan springs from a distinctively nation-state context, one where key parts of the Ottoman legacy were suppressed. He chose to reinvent Turkey’s identity, pushing (<em>Sunni</em>) Islam and the Ottomans to the forefront to refight a struggle against Kemalists. Rather than redrawing borders, his quasi-imperial mission abroad envisages establishing Turkey as a political and economic model for the Middle East and north Africa.</p><p>But in fairness, the much vaunted bonds between Turkey and its neighbours (cultural, linguistic, migratory) are nowhere near those that connect Russia to its "near abroad". Millions across the ex-Soviet Union, regardless of their ethnicity, have direct access to Putin’s message through the medium of Russian as a <em>lingua franca</em>. Putin’s neighbourhood policy is alive and kicking: the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) is officially launched on 1 January 2015; Erdoğan’s, after so much effort to harness Ottoman nostalgia, crashed with Syria's war, the military coup in Egypt, and Iraq’s implosion. </p><p>That does not give Putin has an easier ride than Erdoğan. The Kremlin oscillates between inclusive schemes of Eurasian unification where economic integration renews political bonds across the Soviet Union and ethnocentric phantasms of a Russkii Mir (Russian world). Its imperial ambitons are constrained by a xenophobic public opinion in Russia, where a minority of thugs is ever ready to lash out at immigrants from central Asia and the Caucasus. The dilution of borders in the EEU might prove a hard sell, which has not been the case in Turkey’s dealings with its neighbours. Tensions between parochial and exclusionary nationalism and imperial expansionism are a formidable challenge to Putin’s regime.</p><p>Comparing Putin and Erdoğan is an interesting exercise. Juxtaposing them is even more fruitful. For all the commonalities, it is the differences between the two leaders that provide most insight into today’s Turkey and Russia.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/europeaninstitute/home.aspx">European Institute, LSE</a></p><p>South East European Studies at Oxford (<a href="http://www.sant.ox.ac.uk/seesox/">SEESOX</a>)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.ecfr.eu/">European Council on Foreign Relations</a></p><p><a href="http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Publications/Detail/?ots591=0c54e3b3-1e9c-be1e-2c24-a6a8c7060233&amp;lng=en&amp;id=182086"><em>Turkey's Illiberal Turn</em></a> (ECFR, 2014 </p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Russia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Russia Turkey Democracy and government International politics russia & eurasia democracy & power Dimitar Bechev Sat, 22 Nov 2014 00:40:07 +0000 Dimitar Bechev 88071 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Iran’s hidden prisoners https://www.opendemocracy.net/david-hayes/iran%E2%80%99s-hidden-prisoners <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Those arrested in Iran after the presidential election of June 2009 join the detainees from earlier moments of repression. The blogger and openDemocracy author Hossein Derakhshan is one of the latter. The anniversary of his incarceration is being marked by efforts to publicise his case, reports David Hayes. </p><p><em>(This article was first published on 30 October 2009. Hossein Derakhshan was released from prison on 19 November 2014)</em></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/J5A9lRx5GzFlamTuNCx_k7KsqKhLEQnAJjNyTearNWE/mtime:1416763580/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Hossein_Derakhshan_%28square_crop%29.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/AA0pVfSKsIp87xRAQLT9pLzqTBCF49_TxAf7M5vptKs/mtime:1416763526/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/500209/512px-Hossein_Derakhshan_%28square_crop%29.jpg" alt="Hossein Derakshan, Iranian-Canadian journalist and blogger, 2004." title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" width="460" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Hossein Derakshan, Iranian-Canadian journalist and blogger, 2004. Flickr/Joi Ito. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>The wave of arrests in Iran that followed the presidential election of 12 June 2009 means that many more Iranians are now experiencing the brutal treatment already endured by thousands of their fellow citizens. For the repressive response to the civic uprising that followed the shocking declaration of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's landslide <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran-s-stolen-election-and-what-comes-next">victory</a> has many precedents in the thirty-year history of the Islamic Republic of Iran (as of its imperial predecessor).</p> <p>The capacity of the Iranian regime to render its prisoners invisible and voiceless is one of its most potent weapons. In turn, the dissemination of reliable information on individual cases is a hugely valuable resource for those on the outside - the families, colleagues and friends of those incarcerated, and the justice and human-rights <a href="http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/10/26/iran-overturn-death-sentences-other-unfair-convictions">group</a>s working to make Iran a state of law.</p> <p class="pullquote_new"><br /> David Hayes is deputy editor of openDemocracy<br /> <br /> Among his articles on openDemocracy:<br /> <br /> " <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/article_2415.jsp">Iran between revolution and democracy</a>" (10 April 2005)<br /> <br /> " <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/2774">William Wallace and reinventing Scotland</a>" (22 August 2005)<br /> <br /> " <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/46697">The world's American election: a conversation</a>" (4 November 2008)<br /> <br /> " <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47120">The politics of ME, ME, ME</a>" (9 January 2009) - with Keith Kahn-Harris<br /> <br /> " <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47776">Iran's election and Iran's system</a>" (21 April 2009) - with Sanam Vakil<br /> <br /> " <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/node/47979">Cambodia: a patient waiting</a>" (15 May 2009) - with Michel Thieren<br /> <br /> " <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/somalia-between-violence-and-hope">Somalia: between violence and hope</a>" (15 July 2009) - with Harun Hassan</p> <p>Iranian citizens with western connections can often be among the most vulnerable to sudden detention, usually in times of internal political crisis and/or tension between Iran and the west (<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/again_3267.jsp">especially</a> the United States). For example, Iranians who have dual citizenship or who work for foreign broadcasters or think-tanks have been a favoured target. At the same time, such connections also mean an opportunity to organise publicity about their fate and campaign for their freedom (see Reza Fiyouzat, "<a href="http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_4689.shtml">Saberi is free: How about all the others?</a>", <em>OnlineJournal</em>, 12 May 2009).</p> <p>This has in recent times been the experience of, for example, the scholar <a href="http://www.wilsoncenter.org/index.cfm?topic_id=1426&amp;fuseaction=topics.profile&amp;person_id=8940">Haleh Esfandiari</a>; the journalist <a href="http://www.payvand.com/news/08/mar/1052.html">Parnaz Azima</a>; the journalist <a href="http://cpj.org/2009/05/roxana-saberi-released-from-prison-in-iran.php">Roxana Saberi</a>; the businessman and peace activist <a href="http://www.newuniversity.org/2007/10/news/news_in_brief_44/">Ali Shakeri</a>; the diplomatic aide <a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article6894601.ece">Hossein Rassam</a>; and the <a href="http://www.newsweek.com/id/218283"><em>Newsweek</em></a> journalist <a href="http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g5LLg8-1YoJsU_Gb3cT9t8Ylbe0AD9BF22G00">Maziar Bahari</a>. The current haul of detainees includes the scholar <a href="http://www.freekian09.org/">Kian Tajbakhsh</a>, whose case is an instructive example of the psychology animating Iran's hardline core (see Karim Sadjadpour, "<a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/10/23/the_new_hostage_crisis">The New Hostage Crisis</a>", <em>Foreign Policy</em>, 23 October 2009).</p> <p>The pioneering blogger Hossein Derakhshan, who was <a href="http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/middle_east/article5190462.ece">arrested</a> in Tehran on 2 November 2008, also belongs to this melancholy pattern; though, as do all the above examples, his case has its unique and individual characteristics.</p> <p><strong>A singular journey </strong></p> <p>Hossein Derakhshan (widely known as "Hoder") earned a place in internet as well as Iranian history when - by combining Unicode with Blogger.com's tools to enable Persian characters - he <a href="http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.06/posts.html?pg=6">created</a> the first Persian-language blog in Canada in September 2001. He had moved there from Iran in 2000 after writing about technology and the internet for two newspapers: <em>Asr-e Azadegan,</em> and <em>Hatay-e No</em> (for which he wrote a column, <em>Panjere-i roo be hayaat</em> [<em>A Window to the Yard]</em>).</p> <p>His early blog soon <a href="http://advocacy.globalvoicesonline.org/2008/11/18/iranian-blogger-hossein-derakhshan-arrested-in-tehran/">gained</a> a large following; at its high-point, and until Iran's cyberpolice was able in 2004 to jam it, it received 35,000 page-views per day. <em>Editor: Myself</em> was in time supplemented by an English-language version, allowing him to reach an audience eager for insight about Iran via a new medium of exciting potential.</p> <p>Hoder's writing extended to other media, including (in 2004-06) five <a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/author/Hossein_Derakhshan.jsp">articles</a> for <strong>openDemocracy</strong>. He became involved in <em>Stop Censoring Us</em>, a record of internet censorship in Iran. He made two visits to <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/812597.html">Israel</a> in 2006-07, and in 2007 registered for a master's degree at London's School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas).</p> <p>Hoder returned to Iran in October 2008, and reputedly was positive about his early experiences there. The news of his arrest on 2 November could not be confirmed for several weeks; but on 30 December 2008, a week before Hoder's 34th birthday, Ali Reza Jamshidi - spokesman of the revolutionary court, which oversees cases related to national security - <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/12/30/iran-blogger.html">announced</a> at a news conference in Tehran that he was being charged with "insulting religious figures".</p> <p>The accusation, a variant of the familiar range of <em>post-facto</em> off-the-shelf charges in the authoritarian's litany, was not supported by any known evidence; and almost a year on, there is no sign that any progress in actually examining it or bringing it to court has been made. Instead, Hoder is confined in Tehran's Evin prison - a <a href="http://www.unpo.org/content/view/7508/236/">place</a> almost always qualified by the term "notorious" - from where only the most meagre reports of what he is going through have emerged.</p> <p>The respected collective known as <a href="http://hra-iran.net/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=category&amp;layout=blog&amp;id=66&amp;Itemid=293">Human Rights Activists in Iran</a> (HRA) published a brief account of Hoder's incarceration on 17 October 2009. It <a href="http://hra-iran.net/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=1911:held-on-an-expired-detention-order-hossein-derakhshan-story&amp;catid=66:304&amp;Itemid=293">says</a>:</p> <p>"HRA has received reports which suggest that the blogger, Hossein Derakhshan, who was arrested on 2 November 2008, has spent the first eight months of his detention in solitary confinement and different wards of the Evin prison upon his return to Iran. During that time he has been subjected to various physical and psychological pressure tactics and multiple transfers.</p> <p class="pullquote_new"><br /> <br /> Hossein Derakhshan's articles for openDemocracy:<br /> <br /> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/media-irandemocracy/article_1683.jsp">Censor this: Iran's web of lies</a>" (22 January 2004)<br /> <br /> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/media-edemocracy/wiki_2725.jsp">Wiki-ocracy</a>" (2 August 2005)<br /> <br /> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/article_2502.jsp">Blogging Iran's wired election</a>" (11 May 2005)<br /> <br /> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/reform_2649.jsp">Iran's young reformers</a>" (4 July 2005)<br /> <br /> "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/jahanbegloo_courage_3873.jsp">Ramin Jahanbegloo: the courage to change</a>" (3 September 2006)</p> <p>He has been beaten repeatedly and has been forced to do squats in cold showers. His interrogators have threatened to arrest his father and his sister unless he confessed to espionage charges.</p> <p>With the start of the massive arrests after the presidential election, and as a result of cell shortages in Evin prison, Derakhshan was transferred to Ward 2A of the IRGC [Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps] prison, where he shared his cell with newly arrested people.</p> <p>Derakhshan has been given false promises of his release on multiple occasions: during the <em>Fajr</em> celebrations and <em>Nowrooz</em>. Despite all the promises he is still being held on a temporary detention-order. His detention-order has been renewed several times, the last of which expired on 10 October 2009. Derakhshan reportedly intended to start a hunger-strike if his situation remained unchanged after this date. HRA has no information as to whether he has started the hunger-strike.</p> <p>During his detention, Derakhshan has been pressured by his interrogators to collaborate and confess to the charges brought up against him. In September 2009 he was taken to court to sign documents granting permission to his lawyer to represent him. He told the judge that all his confessions had come under pressure. According to the reports received by HRA, Derakhshan had agreed to televised confessions under pressure, but the matter was cancelled after one recording."</p> <p><strong>A family matter</strong></p> <p>The lack of hard information about what had happened to Hossein Derakhshan after his return to Iran meant that the attention to his <a href="http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/news-of-irans-detained-blogfather/">case</a> was more limited than to other comparable situations. The fact that an unusual intellectual-political trajectory had seen him gradually express a degree of support for the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad - and vehement criticism of some of its Iranian critics in the west - probably also contributed to this relatively low-key response.</p> <p>But as awareness of his arrest spread, several initiatives calling for Hoder's release began to appear. They include the strong <a href="http://kamangir.net/2008/12/18/letter-in-defense-of-hossein-derakhshan-hoder/">letter</a> from a group of Iranian bloggers; the "<a href="http://freehoder.wordpress.com/">free Hoder</a>" blog and a <a href="http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=37459792838">Facebook group</a>; and efforts by several media organisations and networks (such as <a href="http://www.internetsansfrontieres.com/2009/04/ahmadinedjad-plaide-pour-le-respect-des-droits-de-la-defense-dhossein-derakhshan/"><em>Internet Sans Frontières</em></a>) to highlight his ordeal and keep it in the public eye.</p> <p>The approaching <a href="http://www.iranhumanrights.org/2009/10/releasederakhshan/">anniversary</a> of his detention has now led his family in Iran to take the decision to speak out on his behalf. His younger brother Hamed, in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), criticised the Canadian authorities for their inaction in the case, said that his parents had been able to see Hossein only twice during his incarceration, and explained why the family was only at this stage seeking to draw attention to the case. "My father believed it was better to use the connections, prove that he is loyal to them, work within the system" (see John Nicol, "<a href="http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/10/29/iran-blogger-prison-anniversary.html">Iranian-Canadian blogger's family pleads for help</a>", CBC News, 29 October 2009).</p> <p>Hossein's father has written a letter to Ayatollah Amoli Larijani, the head of Iran's judiciary department, which the reformist newspaper <a href="http://salaamnews.com/"><em>Salaam</em></a> published on its website on 21 October 2009. The California-based journalist, <a href="http://cyrusfarivar.com/blog/">Cyrus Farivar</a>, provides an English translation of the letter on his blog:</p> <p>"To the Presence of Ayatollah Amoli Larijani, the Respected Head of the Judiciary:</p> <p>Greetings and respect to you. One year has passed since the day that my son was arrested.</p> <p>In all these months, days, and hours, my family, my wife and I were hoping that in the arms of Islamic law and the mercy of the Islamic judiciary, Hossein's case will be dealt with in the way it deserves.</p> <p>There is no need to mention the numerous times that we refused the requests of foreign media to explain Hossein's situation.</p> <p>Even when we heard the worst gossip about his treatment in semi-official media, we were silent and in fact, no government organisation has ever denied this worrisome news, not just to calm our very worried hearts down, but at least to respect the independence of judiciary about this case.</p> <p>During this entire time, our son has had just two short meetings with us for only a few minutes. Please imagine that for every six months we just saw him for very few minutes. We have no information about his legal situation.</p> <p>No court has been held yet and we don't even know which institution or security organisation Hossein is under the control of. Many times, from many different ways, we tried to get some precision about his situation, but we couldn't. Does a detainee's dignified manner deserve such treatment?</p> <p>Many times, my son admitted in his writings and conversations that he would love to serve his country. And he came back to Iran on his own to answer his accusations. Does such a person who has come back to his country and his beliefs, deserve such a welcome?</p> <p>Our complaint is not because you are exercising the law, but to the contrary, because of its suspension, lack of information and disrespecting of the law. The accused have rights, the family of the accused has some rights, and we know that the ruler of society has some rights as well, and that rules and regulations are valuable.</p> <p>We are certain that you'd agree that one year of a brutal arrest of a person who has come voluntarily and on his own to the bosom of Iran and dear Islam, is not an appropriate welcome.</p> <p>I, my wife and our family are still looking forward to your just treatment.</p> <p>With respect,</p> <p>Hassan Derakhshan".</p> <p><strong>A case to answer </strong></p> <p>The cycle of arrests, show-trials, incarcerations and <a href="http://rex.ucpress.edu/books/pages/8305.php">violations</a> in Iran continues. The state's internal-security apparatus, emboldened by its ability to contain and then beat back the challenge to its rule following the stolen election, remains unbending.</p> <p>But there is multiple evidence too that the regime's behaviour since the election has resulted in a critical loss of legitimacy in the eyes of Iran's people. Their resourceful search for new and creative forms of opposition is vividly conveyed in a number of <strong>openDemocracy</strong> articles (see Asef Bayat, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran-a-green-wave-for-life-and-liberty">Iran: a green wave for life and liberty</a>" [7 July 2009], and R Tousi, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran/iran-s-ocean-of-dissent">Iran's ocean of dissent</a>" [28 October 2009]).</p> <p>Those imprisoned in Iran on account of their peaceful protest, their criticism of the authorities, or merely because they represent a convenient target to unaccountable power, need to be freed in order that they can resume their lives and speak in their own voices. An end to their confinement will be the beginning of the new era of respect for human rights and civic freedoms that Iranians more than ever deserve.</p> <div><p><strong>Also in openDemocracy on Iranian prisoners and human rights:</strong></p></div> <div><p>Masoud Behnoud, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/hunger_strike_2683.jsp">Akbar Ganji in the prison of Iran</a>" (17 July 2005)</p></div> <div><p>openDemocracy, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/appeal_2688.jsp">Free Akbar Ganji: an appeal to Iran</a>" (19 July 2005)</p></div> <div><p>Nazila Fathi, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/ganji_3431.jsp">Akbar Ganji's moment</a>" (6 April 2006)</p></div> <div><p>Rasool Nafisi, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/jahanbegloo_3545.jsp">The meaning of Ramin Jahanbegloo's arrest</a>" (16 May 2006)</p></div> <div><p>openDemocracy, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/openletter_3578.jsp">Ramin Jahanbegloo: an open letter to Iran's president</a>" (23 May 2006)</p></div> <div><p>Rasool Nafisi, "<a href="http://ramin%20jahanbegloo/">Ramin Jahanbegloo: a repressive release</a>" (1 September 2006)</p></div> <div><p>Danny Postel, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/jahanbegloo_postel_3930.jsp">Ramin Jahanbegloo, Hossein Derakhshan and openDemocracy</a>" (21 September 2006)</p></div> <div><p>Nazenin Ansari, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/ayatollah_3965.jsp">An ayatollah under siege - in Tehran</a>" (3 October 2006)</p></div> <div><p>Rasool Nafisi, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-irandemocracy/haleh_mind_4625.jsp">Haleh Esfandiari: Iran's cultural prison</a>" (16 May 2007)</p></div> <div><p>Akbar Ganji, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/democracy_power/iran_democracy/akbar_ganji">Iran's future: an open letter</a>" (24 September 2007)</p></div><div><p>R Tousi, "<a href="http://www.opendemocracy.net/article/iran/iran-s-ocean-of-dissent">Iran's ocean of dissent</a>" (28 October 2009)</p></div><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://freehoder.wordpress.com/">Free Hoder </a></p> <p><a href="http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=37459792838">Facebook - Free Hossein Derakhshan </a></p> <p><a href="http://hra-iran.net/index.php?option=com_content&amp;view=article&amp;id=1911:held-on-an-expired-detention-order-hossein-derakhshan-story&amp;catid=66:304&amp;Itemid=293">Human Rights Activists in Iran - Hossein Derakhshan</a> (17 October 2009)</p> <p><a href="http://www.iranhumanrights.org/">International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran </a></p> <p>Karim Sadjadpour, "<a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/10/23/the_new_hostage_crisis?page=0,0">The New Hostage Crisis</a>" (<em>Foreign Policy</em>, 23 October 2009)</p> <p><a href="http://cyrusfarivar.com/blog/">Cyrus Farivar</a></p> <p>Nasrin Alavi, <a href="http://www.portobellobooks.com/Books/We-Are-Iran-pb"><em>We Are Iran: The Persian Blogs</em></a> (Portobello Books, 2005)</p> <p><a href="http://globalvoicesonline.org/">Global Voices Online </a></p> <p><a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2009/iran/default.stm">BBC - Iran crisis</a></p> <p><a href="http://iranppa.blogspot.com/">Iran Political Prisoners Association&nbsp; </a></p> <p><a href="http://tehranbureau.com/category/election-coverage/">Tehran Bureau </a></p> <p><a href="http://www.hrw.org/middle-eastn-africa/iran">Human Rights Watch - Iran </a></p> <p>Ali Gheissari &amp; Vali Nasr, <em><a href="http://www.us.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/ReligionTheology/Islam/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780195189674">Democracy in Iran: History and the Quest for Liberty</a></em> (Oxford University Press, 2006)</p> <p>Ali Ansari, <em><a href="http://www.perseusbooks.com/basic/book_detail.jsp?isbn=0465003508">Confronting Iran</a></em> (Basic Books, 2006)</p> <p>Ray Takeyh, <a href="http://www.cfr.org/publication/11118/"><em>Hidden Iran: Paradox and Power in the Islamic Republic</em></a> (CFR, 2006)</p> <p><a href="http://www.iranian.com/main/">Iranian.com</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.roozonline.com/english/">Rooz&nbsp;</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/media-edemocracy/wiki_2725.jsp">Wiki-ocracy</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-irandemocracy/reform_2649.jsp">Iran&#039;s young reformers</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iran </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Iran Democracy and government Civil society democracy & power democracy & iran David Hayes Fri, 21 Nov 2014 16:22:48 +0000 David Hayes 48896 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Palestine's statehood options: a dialogue https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/victor-kattan-michael-kearney/palestine%27s-statehood-options-dialogue <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What are the choices facing Palestinians regarding their state sovereignty, and how best should they be pursued? Two legal scholars debate these increasingly urgent questions.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><strong>Victor Kattan: Palestine, the United Nations and the International Court of Justice </strong></p><p>At last, it appears that the United Nations General Assembly’s (UNGA) 138-9 majority vote in November 2012 to accord Palestine observer-state <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43640">status</a> might finally be bearing fruit. Sweden’s announcement that it will recognise Palestine, the House of Commons's 274-12 majority vote calling on the British government to recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel, the decision by Spanish lawmakers to hold a similar vote on recognising Palestine in their parliament, and France’s announcement that it will recognise Palestine if negotiations with Israel fail are all steps in this direction.</p><p>Unable to end Israel’s forty-seven-year occupation through negotiations, Palestine's <a href="http://www.president.ps/eng/">president</a>, Mahmoud Abbas, took the first incremental steps towards asserting Palestinian statehood in the international arena by acceding to more than a dozen treaties on human rights and humanitarian law, steps that only states can take. He also took steps to reunify the West Bank and the Gaza Strip as a single political entity under one rule of law, a process that is still underway.</p><p>After Israel’s fifty-one-day assault on the Gaza strip in mid-2014, President Abbas announced a plan to end the occupation. In his UN speech, he said that Palestine and the Arab Group at the UN had started to prepare a draft UN Security Council (UNSC) resolution that would set a timetable for Israel to end the occupation that would be <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/world/palestinian-authority/mahmoud-abbas-demands-end-to-israeli-occupation-in-un-speech">linked</a> “to the immediate resumption of negotiations between Palestine and Israel to demarcate the borders, reach a detailed and comprehensive agreement, and draft a peace treaty between them”.</p><p>There is no guarantee that the UNSC will move to a vote. In the case that it does, the United States has indicated that it will veto the resolution. If this happens, President Abbas has threatened to apply for membership in UN agencies and join the <a href="http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/about%20the%20court/Pages/about%20the%20court.aspx">International Criminal Court</a> (ICC). An application by Palestine for membership in UN agencies and the ICC, however, would result in the loss of much needed Congressional funds, not to mention US political support. Israel could also retaliate in myriad ways. Moreover, membership in the ICC could involve delays and legal complications.</p><p>Does President Abbas have any other options? </p><p>He does. Instead of submitting applications to UN agencies and the ICC in the event of a US veto, President Abbas might consider delaying these moves and ask the UNGA to discuss the steps that member states can take to help end Israel’s occupation of Palestine. Should Israel ignore a call from the UNGA to end the occupation, Palestine and the Arab Group could then ask the UNGA to request an advisory opinion from the <a href="http://www.icj-cij.org/court/index.php?p1=1">International Court of Justice</a> (ICJ) on the legal responsibilities of states and international organisations to end the occupation.</p><p>When the US vetoed a draft UNSC resolution that condemned Israel’s decision to construct the wall in the West Bank in 2003, the UNGA requested an <a href="http://www.icj-cij.org/jurisdiction/index.php?p1=5&amp;p2=2">advisory opinion</a> from the ICJ on the legal consequences of its construction. In July 2004, this led to fourteen of the fifteen judges to declare in their advisory opinion that the settlements, the wall, and their associated regime are contrary to international law. The court also called on states not to aid or assist Israel in the wall’s construction. But because the question addressed to the court in 2003 specifically concerned the wall, the court could not address the larger issue of ending the occupation. In 2003 it was not clear whether a Palestinian state had emerged, and moreover the second <em>intifada</em> was still underway. </p><p>In light of the developments that have taken place in the last decade, President Abbas could ask the UNGA to request a new advisory opinion from the ICJ in the event of a US veto. This time, however, consideration could be given to drafting a question for the UNGA that would: </p><p>* inquire into the legal consequences of Israel’s continued occupation and settlement activity in the state of Palestine in light of the UNGA resolution that accorded Palestine observer state status </p><p>* provide guidance to the UNGA on the responsibilities of states and international organisations to bring to an end the occupation and Israel’s settlement activity.</p><p>The question could make reference to the 134 states that have already recognised Palestine, relevant UN resolutions, applicable treaties, and customary international law. Unlike in 2004, this time the court would have its previous advisory opinion to take into account, Palestine’s application for membership in the UN, its membership in the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), and the UN resolution that <a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=43640">accorded</a> Palestine observer-state status. The court would also have to hand a plethora of UN reports, including the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/en/hrbodies/hrc/regularsessions/session19/pages/israelisettlementsintheopt.aspx">report</a> of the UN Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.</p><p>There have been a number of legal developments since 2004 as well. In addition to the International Law Commission’s <a href="http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/rsiwa/rsiwa.html">Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts</a>, the International Law Commission has drafted Articles on the Responsibility of International Organisations. Furthermore, the court would be expected to make reference to the treaties that Palestine acceded to in April 2014. In addition to the 1907 <a href="https://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/195">Hague Regulations</a>, the four <a href="http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/geneva_conventions">Geneva Conventions</a>, and <a href="https://www.icrc.org/ihl/INTRO/470">Additional Protocol 1</a>, these treaties include the Human Rights Covenants, the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx">International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination</a>, and the <a href="http://legal.un.org/avl/ha/cspca/cspca.html">Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid</a>. </p><p>Of course, the question rendered to the court would have to be carefully framed, preferably by lawyers with legal experience and expertise at the ICJ. The emphasis of a question that focuses on legal consequences, the occupation, and Palestine’s statehood would be to inquire into the legality of a prolonged occupation that has prevented the Palestinian people from exercising their right to self-determination. The hope is that the court would call for an end to the occupation as a matter of international law in order to enable the Palestinian people to exercise their right to self-determination within their own state. The question formulated for the court could be linked to President Abbas’s plan to end the occupation.&nbsp; </p><p>There are several advantages of going back to the ICJ as opposed to lodging another application at the ICC. The Palestinians have a good track record at the ICJ. They do not have a good track record at the ICC, which rejected their attempt to grant that court jurisdiction after Operation Cast Lead in January 2009. Although the ICC prosecutor has indicated that the ICC would accept a new application submitted by Palestine to join the court, the final ruling on whether the ICC has jurisdiction would be left up to the judges. Furthermore, the ICC has a mixed record of carrying out investigations or preliminary examinations quickly. Not only would it have to check whether Israel is investigating the crimes that took place in Gaza, it may have to wait for the Israeli legal process to run its course, which would also take time. </p><p>Additionally, because Israel is not a party to the <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/InternationalCriminalCourt.aspx">Rome Statute</a>, it has no obligation to cooperate with the ICC; without Israeli cooperation, the process could take even longer. And finally, even if the prosecutor decides to open a full investigation, she would then have to charge and issue arrest warrants for Israelis and Palestinians implicated in crimes under the statute. Yet Israel would be unlikely to hand over any of its nationals to the ICC. With so many possibilities for a stalemate, the ICC route is unlikely to produce the desired results.</p><p>In contrast, an ICJ advisory opinion could be produced in a matter of months. The 9 July 2004 advisory opinion on the wall only took the court five months to <a href="http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/index.php?p1=3&amp;p2=4&amp;case=131&amp;p3=4">deliver</a> after it heard the oral pleadings in February 2004. Admittedly, a question on the legal consequences of Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine, in light of its new statehood status, would raise more intricate legal issues and might take more time. Even so, it would still be a quicker process than anything at the ICC.</p><p>Another advantage that the ICJ has over the ICC is that there is no Congressional legislation that would require the US to withhold funds from the <a href="http://palestine.dk/palestine/government/">Palestinian Authority </a>in the event that the UNGA requests an advisory opinion from the ICJ, because it is not Palestine that would request the opinion but the UNGA. Moreover, the Palestinians and the <a href="http://unterm.un.org/dgaacs/unterm.nsf/8fa942046ff7601c85256983007ca4d8/18d544e3b1f37b95852569fa000053a1?OpenDocument">Arab Group</a> at the UN would have more control over the question that is formulated for the ICJ, because an advisory opinion is a response to a question that has been rendered to it from the UNGA, which Palestine and the Arab Group can influence.</p><p>An opinion that addresses Palestine’s legal status and the territories over which Palestine is entitled to exercise sovereignty could help future applications to join the ICC, UN agencies, and other international institutions. It would also be an opportunity for the court to offer clear guidance on the extent to which Israel is still the occupying power in Gaza (which Israel has disputed since it redeployed its troops in 2005) and provide guidance on the manner in which the Palestinian state came into being in light of the UNGA resolution that accorded Palestine observer-state status despite Israel’s continuing occupation.</p><p>Israel and its allies would find it more difficult to object to a question to the ICJ from the UNGA than a Palestinian application to the ICC. Unlike the ICC, the ICJ cannot try individuals or heads of states for crimes. An appeal to the ICJ could therefore be portrayed as being consistent with a diplomatic effort to reach a negotiated two-state solution by linking it to a need to end the occupation and to stop Israel from building more settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.</p><p>In the event that the UNGA requests an <a href="http://www.icj-cij.org/jurisdiction/index.php?p1=5&amp;p2=2">advisory opinion</a> from the ICJ, member states would be invited to give written statements and make oral submissions to the court. As part of this process, member states would have to clarify their legal positions with respect to Palestine’s statehood, including explaining what steps the UNGA could take to bring an end to Israel’s occupation and settlement activity. Some states may make reference to the manner in which Israel has violated the territorial integrity of the Palestinian state through its construction of the wall in defiance of the court’s previous opinion and through its establishment of settlements and bypass roads. </p><p>They may also suggest to the court that states and international organisations have a responsibility not to aid or assist Israel in maintaining the occupation and its annexation of Jerusalem, possibly even calling on states and international organisations to consider suspending economic, cultural, and trade agreements with Israel to the extent that these agreements apply to the territories that comprise the Palestinian state. Although advisory opinions are not legally binding in the sense that states are not obliged to comply with them (unless the UNSC determines otherwise), in formulating its opinion, the court would be stating what the law is, which would be binding on states irrespective of the legal status of the advisory opinion.</p><p>A favourable and cogent opinion from the ICJ could help shift world public opinion further in <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/09/uk-palestinians-uk-recognition-idUKKCN0HY14T20141009">favour</a> of Palestinian rights to have a state of their own next to, and at peace with, the state of Israel. At the same time, an advisory opinion may give impetus to Israeli and Palestinian leaders to sit down and negotiate a final status agreement to establish a democratic, contiguous, and independent Palestinian state along the lines of the phased plan to end the occupation that President Abbas <a href="http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.617305">intends</a> to present to the UNSC.</p><p>In the event that Israel ignores the court and chooses to defy the international community by further entrenching the occupation and building more <a href="http://www.btselem.org/topic/settlements">settlements</a>, those states and organisations sitting on the side-lines would be given a reason and an opportunity to take the moral high ground and insist that Israel respects the court’s opinion and the right of the Palestinian people to exercise independence in their own state alongside the state of Israel or face consequences in the form of countermeasures. At that stage, President Abbas could then take steps to join the ICC and UN agencies.</p><p>--------</p><p><strong>Michael Kearney: The ICC as tool of resistance</strong><br /><br />It is claimed an advisory opinion would shift public attitudes towards the Palestinian cause, promote Israel-Palestinian Authority negotiations, give states the moral high ground in their diplomatic outreach to Israel, and ensure continued United States funding of the Palestinian Authority. Joining the International Criminal Court (ICC) is discouraged because the court and its prosecutor operate slowly, Israel will not cooperate, and the US will cut funding to the PA.</p><p>I disagree generally, and on each count. First, as outlined by Al-Shabaka, the function of the "much needed" US-European Union funding is to consolidate a repressive police state. The PA’s existence is premised on its willingness to submit to Washington through collaboration with Israel’s apartheid regime. This unrepresentative institution which the "international community" has chosen to recognise, to the exclusion of all others, as permitted to negotiate on behalf of Palestinians repeatedly demonstrates it servility by failing to defend Palestinian rights. Following US/EU/Israeli orders to refrain from going to the ICC is a clear example.</p><p>Second, global public opinion, as such, is not reliant on the interpretations judges give to international legal texts. Popular initiatives such as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) already use international legal standards as a baseline for their goals, but public opinion is shaped by the massacres unleashed against Palestinians before the eyes of the world. What is expected in response to the self-evident crimes of the occupation isn’t merely a reassertion as to what the law says, but rather the total satisfaction of demands for equal rights and justice. In this light it is naive to suggest that another advisory opinion might provide states with the moral high ground by which to act: it can only be sustained political, economic, and legal pressure from within which forces governments to adjust the nature of their relationships with Israel.</p><p>Such pressure can be increased by the state of Palestine ratifying the Rome Statute. It is one of the few international institutions where Palestinians can attempt to assert and reclaim their rights. Mahmoud Abbas’s empty threats to ratify Rome echo and overlap the west’s meaningless motif of commitment to a two-state solution. When the statute was drafted in 1998, Israel voted against because of the inclusion of the war crime, rooted in the 1949 Geneva Conventions, of the transfer of one’s own civilian population into occupied territory, aka "settlement".</p><p>The ICC can also investigate those Israelis’ responsible for the crime against humanity of apartheid. These core activities of the Israeli state are being perpetrated with impunity and demand opposition at every level and such opposition must utilise the ICC process.</p><p>Amira Hass recently wrote that "The genius of Israeli evil is that it is broken down into an infinite number of atoms, individual cases that the human brain - and even more so a newspaper column - cannot contain in their entirety, and a single definition cannot conceptualize them." International criminal law, pursued through national and international courts, provides one avenue by which the weasel words of western states condemning "illegitimate" settlement expansion can be upended and the inherent criminality of Israel’s occupation, in all its guises, and individual cases, be brought centre-stage.</p><p>While the court’s orders and arrest-warrants might not be binding on Israel, they are binding on its 122 member-states. That would leave most of the EU bound to arrest any Israeli indicted by the court, regardless of their political position. It would also ramp up the possibility that those Europeans, and others, who are aiding and abetting Israeli crimes in Palestine could come within the court’s jurisdiction. It is for this reason that the various Palestinian political groups, Palestinian civil society, and Palestinian public opinion all reject western opposition and are firmly behind going to the ICC. We should support the Palestinians in this choice, working alongside them to expedite any investigatory and prosecution process, by continuing to push for the Palestinian representatives to ratify the statute.</p><p>Israel’s war against Palestinians is accelerating. The UN General Assembly, Arab League, secretary-general, Security Council, ICJ process is a technocratic merry-go-round not to be indulged. The ICC will not stop Israel’s war, but as one tool of resistance amongst many, it must be triggered immediately.</p><p>--------</p><p><strong>Victor Kattan: The ICJ advantage</strong><br /><br />The most persuasive argument in favour of Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is that in the event of a favourable ruling by the pre-trial chamber, the issuance of arrest-warrants would be binding on its 122 member-states. This means that these states would become obliged to arrest Israelis indicted by the court. But it is likely that arrest-warrants will also be directed at Palestinians and would obligate the ICC’s 122 member-states to arrest Palestinians accused of committing crimes as well.<br /><br />Even if the possibility of arresting and transferring Palestinians accused of crimes to the ICC were a price worth paying to constrain the holiday plans of high-ranking Israeli officials, it is not clear how this would assist Palestinian self-determination or safeguard human rights due to the likely repercussions that may follow Palestine’s accession to the Rome Statute. <br /><br />The United States Congress has made it clear that it will withdraw US aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) if Palestine were to accede to the Rome Statute. The US does not only give money to the PA security sector, it also provides aid for health and humanitarian assistance, economic development, and plays a crucial role in servicing the PA’s substantial debts to the private sector. The PA owes large debts to East Jerusalem hospitals, to which 45% of the PA health-ministry referrals are sent (including from the Gaza strip). <br /><br />Furthermore, the US is the largest single donor to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). At present, over 150,000 Palestinians are employed in the public sector by the PA. The donor community subsidises 50% of these salaries, which include the salaries the PA pays for its employees in the Gaza strip. The US was one of the biggest donors at the October <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/12/world/meast/egypt-gaza-reconstruction/">conference</a> in Cairo on raising funds for reconstructing Gaza.<br /><br />The risks of accession to the Rome Statute must be weighed against the costs, including retaliation from Israel and diplomatic fallout. <br /><br />Not only does the ICC operate slowly, but the UN Security Council could intervene to prevent the prosecutor and the court from opening an investigation and exercising jurisdiction even after Palestine has acceded to the Rome Statute. In addition, ICC judges are not obliged to follow the practice of the UN secretariat or resolutions of the UN General Assembly, when it comes to making an assessment as to whether Palestine has the competence to confer jurisdiction on the court for crimes committed under the statute. At present, the Palestinian Authority does not have criminal jurisdiction over Israeli nationals in PA controlled territory due to the continuing applicability of the 1995 Israel-PLO interim agreement. Unless that agreement is denounced it could conflict with the Rome Statute.<br /><br />This is not to say that Palestine should not accede to the Rome Statute. Israel’s settlement policy is in clear violation of the statute, although the court would not necessarily confine itself to that issue even if Palestine were to accede to the Rome Statute. It would make more sense to see what happens in the UN Security Council later in November, and for the results of the UN’s Fact-Finding Mission, before taking steps to accede to the Rome Statute. Triggering the jurisdiction of the ICC immediately would, at this moment, be foolhardy - especially since the PA has become even more dependent on aid as a result of the destruction caused by the IDF in Gaza. EU states are upgrading their relations with Palestine by recognising Palestine as a state, with Sweden leading the way. Immediate accession to the Rome Statute might cause other states to hesitate recognising Palestine.<br /><br />A further advisory opinion would make more sense than immediate accession to the Rome Statute. The UNGA is currently in session and the Palestinians have prepared a draft UN Security Council resolution on ending the occupation. Whilst it is expected that the US will veto this resolution, there are indications that the US, angered by Israel’s behaviour and conduct in Gaza, and worried about the lack of progress in the peace process through Israel’s intransigence, may support it - especially if the PA were to delay accession to the Rome Statute. Of course, this is speculative. But if the US supports Palestine’s draft UN Security Council resolution this would be a huge diplomatic setback for Israel. A Chapter VII Security Council resolution would be binding on all of the 193 UN member-states. Immediate accession to the Rome Statute would ensure a US veto.<br /><br />The benefits of recourse to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for another advisory opinion should not be lightly dismissed - especially in the event of a US veto or Israel’s refusal to abide by the UN Security Council resolution. The drafting of the question would be crucial - and should focus on settlements and the occupation, and make use of the treaties that Palestine has already acceded to - which include treaties that reference apartheid and segregation. The court would not only have to hand the UN report on Israel’s settlement activities (7 February 2013), it would also have to hand the concluding observations of the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination (9 March 2012). Both of these reports make reference to the way in which Israel’s policies of apartheid and segregation have consolidated Israel’s settlement enterprise and violated the Palestinian people’s right of self-determination.<br /><br />Whilst global public opinion is not reliant on the interpretations judges give to international legal texts, the 2004 opinion of the ICJ did provide a boost to the Stop the Wall campaign and the BDS movement that was established in 2005. The ICJ also helped to delegitimise South Africa’s apartheid policy and its illegal occupation of Namibia by issuing four advisory opinions over two decades (1950, 1955, 1956, and 1971). A favourable ICJ opinion could also assist civil-society efforts to lobby law-based communities like the EU to suspend or terminate cultural and trade agreements with Israel (such as the EU-Israel association agreement of 1995 that is based on respect for human rights). It may even influence political movements within Israel that want an end to the occupation and assist with efforts to isolate Binyamin Netanyahu, the Likud, and his right-wing coalition partners.</p><p>----------</p><p><strong>Michael Kearney: An end to impunity</strong><br /><br />To begin, I think Palestine should use all the options the international legal framework purports to provide for the assertion of basic human rights and accountability for international crimes, including the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court.<br /><br />There is the possibility that the International Criminal Court would indict Palestinians alleged to be responsible for war crimes, and this prospect was well known to each of the Palestinian political groups when they signed an agreement in summer 2014 supporting the PA’s consideration of triggering the court’s jurisdiction. If it were to transpire that Palestinians were being seized and sent to The Hague though, this would need to be in connivance with Israel, given that it is Israel which controls all the exits from Palestine. Should there arrive a point where the ICC were to be prosecuting Palestinians handed over by Israel, while Israel continued to shield its own wanted nationals, well, then this would merely illustrate how twisted international law can be in favour of the western powers over the colonised.<br /><br />Regarding the matter of United States funding of the Palestinian civil service and UNRWA, the question to be considered is why an enemy of Palestinians should be funding them in the first instance. It should be clear that the function of this charitable donor aid is to facilitate the minimum adequate living standards so as to attempt to avoid a situation of such desperation that all Palestinians would have no option but to turn to armed or other forms of revolt. In this sense US funding underwrites the occupation and ensures its viability. From the international-law perspective, the Geneva Conventions are clear that it is Israel who has the legal obligation to provide for the needs of the "protected population", those Palestinians living under its military occupation. As for overall debt to the private sector, an independent Palestine would merely be joining pretty much every other country that achieved decolonisation only to find itself perpetually subjugated by debts to western financial institutions.<br /><br />As for Israeli retaliation: what can Israel do if Palestine joins the ICC? Build more settlements, kill more Palestinians, increase levels of administrative detention and torture, hype up the racist and violent rhetoric? All these things are happening anyway. To suggest that a negative cost of going to the ICC will be the cut to aid needed to rebuild Gaza is beyond the point. Gaza will be destroyed again, that's certain. Aid isn’t necessary, justice and liberation are what is demanded.<br /><br />With respect the ICC, the suggestion that Oslo could conflict with the Rome Statute has no basis at all. Neither is there any substance to the suggestion that the judges might not recognise the existence of the state of Palestine. But if they were, somehow, to conclude as such, well perhaps then one might want to see what the ICJ would have to opine. <br /><br />I don’t believe, as suggested, that the US is angry with Israel’s conduct against Palestinians. The US might be miffed at the brusqueness of Israel’s diplomats but remains wholeheartedly a supporter - through finance, the use of the UNSC veto, and the provision of weaponry for Israel’s illegal policies and practices in the occupied territory. Palestine does not need yet another Security Council resolution, but rather the enforcement of all the previous relevant UNSC resolutions calling for an end to then occupation, and the enforcement of the Wall advisory opinion in 2004.<br /><br />The allusion to the European Union as a "law based community" is offensive. It’s common knowledge that the EU has been more than happy to pursue its financial profiteering from the occupation while flouting its so-called "human-rights conditions! in the various trade agreements with Israel. Parallels with the ICJ’s advisory opinions against apartheid South Africa are of limited value with respect to Palestine today. There certainly is no future in which Palestine can wait for successive advisory opinions stating that Israel is acting unlawfully.<br /><br />The situation now, as it has been for a long time, is one where the total impunity afforded to Israel can, and is, fuelling the destruction of the Palestinian people, <em>dunam</em> by <em>dunam</em>, and day by day. This reality can only lead to irrevocable tragedy, continued racial domination, and persecution against the Palestinians. There must be a push for the PA to ratify the Rome Statute immediately, because, and in the full knowledge of all its limitations and the political consequences, this is what the Palestinian political groups, civil society, public, and international solidarity activists are demanding. It is time for the lawyers to contribute by working to change the political language applied to the Israeli politico-military elite from one of illegitimacy/apology/unfortunate to one of criminality/ accountability/ equal rights and justice.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/structure%20of%20the%20court/office%20of%20the%20prosecutor/comm%20and%20ref/pe-cdnp/palestine/Pages/palestine.aspx">International Criminal Court - Palestine</a></p><p>Virgina Tilley ed.,<em> <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745332352">Beyond occupation: apartheid, colonialism &amp; international law in the occupied Palestinian territories</a></em> (Pluto, 2012)</p><p><a href="http://iccforum.com/home"><em>ICC Forum</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.ejiltalk.org/"><em>European Journal of International Law</em></a></p><p><a href="http://jicj.oxfordjournals.org/"><em>Journal of International Criminal Justice</em></a></p><p>-------</p><p>Victor Kattan's opening <a href="http://www.ecfr.eu/article/commentary_palestinian_options_at_the_united_nations_and_the_internation334">contribution</a> to this dialogue was first published by the <a href="http://www.ecfr.eu/">European Council for Foreign Relations</a> on 23 October 2014</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/victor-kattan/palestinian-statehood-turning-point">Palestinian statehood: a turning-point</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/globalization-institutions_government/sudan_icc_4301.jsp">Sudan and the ICC: a question of accountability</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/globalisation/international_justice/the-iccs-first-five-years">What is global justice and who is it for? The ICC’s first five years </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/luke-moffett/syria-and-international-criminal-court-justice-denied">Syria and the International Criminal Court: justice denied</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/mark-kersten/icc-and-its-impact-more-known-unknowns">The ICC and its impact: more known unknowns</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/priscilla-hayner/does-icc-advance-interests-of-justice">Does the ICC advance the interests of justice?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/openglobalrights/usha-ramanathan/surprising-impact-of-rome-statute-in-india">The surprising impact of the Rome Statute in India</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/priscilla-hayner/does-icc-advance-interests-of-justice">Does the ICC advance the interests of justice?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-international-criminal-court-success-or-failure">The International Criminal Court: success or failure?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/israel-gaza-and-international-law">Israel, Gaza and international law </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/the-icc-and-the-gaza-war-legal-limits-symbolic-politics">The ICC and the Gaza war: legal limits, symbolic politics </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Palestine </div> <div class="field-item even"> Israel </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Arab Awakening Israel Palestine Conflict Democracy and government International politics democracy & power israel & palestine - old roads, new maps Michael Kearney Victor Kattan Thu, 06 Nov 2014 20:11:25 +0000 Michael Kearney and Victor Kattan 87239 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Westphalia to Southphalia https://www.opendemocracy.net/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/westphalia-to-southphalia <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Does the rise of non-western states such as China, India, South Africa, and Brazil threaten the dominant model of international politics? </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 ended Europe's thirty-year war. It was also, in essence, a diplomatic-institutional agreement that sought to <a href="http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199743292/obo-9780199743292-0073.xml">organise</a> the continent's political life on new principles: of national sovereignty and non-intervention, of a country's right to self-defence, of international law moulded by the logic of a balance of power. Over the centuries this European-state-centred dynamic became universal, as - in the wake of European colonial expansion - <a href="http://avalon.law.yale.edu/17th_century/westphal.asp">Westphalia</a> irradiated institutions, rules, practices and concepts that the various peripheries gradually assimilated. <br /><br />This centuries-long development both expressed and exacerbated deep disparities between the world's "have" and "have-not" nations. More recently, in the last three decades, new powers from the global south have risen within Westphalian parameters - including China, India, South Africa, and Brazil. These countries have accordingly <a href="http://europesworld.org/2013/02/01/why-the-world-must-listen-more-carefully-to-asias-rising-powers/#.VFpbaslrtuA">enhanced</a> their world status, but in ways very different from earlier experiences. <br /><br />During the cold war, most successful middle-level regional powers - such as Canada, Sweden, Australia, and Japan - were western and/or pro-western. They were democratic, stable, and satisfied; had low internal inequality; acted moderately on the international stage; and sought to bridge the gap between global north and south and defuse tensions between west and east. In general, their initiatives in foreign policy strengthened the Westphalian system in terms of its core norms, procedures and values. <br /><br />Today's equivalent powers are from the periphery; their political regimes differ; their houses are not completely stable; their economic <a href="http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/emerging-powers-in-a-comparative-perspective-9781441119865/">position</a> is variable; they are dissatisfied with the current world order; they have high levels of domestic inequality; and their behaviour, in response to the west's demands for more international responsibility, is often unorthodox and <a href="http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/westphalia-chinese-characteristics-10947">challenging</a>. In short, these emerging powers have benefited from Westphalia yet in practice also <a href="http://www.postwesternworld.com/">criticise</a> the prevailing system. <br /><br /><strong>Five issues at stake</strong><br /><br />This raises the question: are these countries in effect creating a new model for organising global politics, which could be called "Southphalia"? A way to evaluate this is by reference to several key aspects of the respective models. Here are five, each of which deserves more detailed scrutiny.<br /><br />First, there is the issue of values. The emerging countries of the south complain about the unjust distribution of global power - but they seem to be concerned mainly with expanding their own influence and voice in world affairs. That is, they look more interested in joining the club of the powerful than in empowering their peers from the periphery.&nbsp; <br /><br />Second, there is the issue of policies. Westphalia was marked by the pro-status quo attitude of major powers and their partners. Southphalia acts like a soft reformist, trying to <a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/no-ones-world-9780199739394;jsessionid=BDC72557E91E9D4A2B44F3B45043BE6D?cc=gb&amp;lang=en&amp;#">constrain</a> the choices of the powerful and to increase its own autonomy. Its language can sound tough and confrontational, but the most relevant emerging powers are - at least until now, and probably for the near future - less revisionist than dissatisfied actors. They are playing <a href="http://opencanada.org/features/the-think-tank/comments/the-wests-enduring-importance/">within</a>, not against, the rules of the game. <br /><br />Third, there is the issue of institutional development. Westphalia built a network of international regimes that ultimately legitimised the predominance of the most powerful and influential. Southphalia uses the existing institutional architecture, but adds its willingness to amend and transform it. Just as the principal actors of Westphalia combine multilateralism (for example, the United Nations) and minilateralism (for example, the <a href="http://www.european-council.europa.eu/g7brussels">G7</a>) so does Southphalia: <a href="http://www.ibsa-trilateral.org/">IBSA</a> (India, Brazil, and South Africa) and the <a href="http://www.brics5.co.za/about-brics/">BRICS</a> (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) are two southern cases of the multilateralism of small numbers. <br /><br />Southphalia does offer a noticeable institutional innovation, however. This is the impulse to construct regional initiatives such as the <a href="http://www.sectsco.org/EN123/">Shanghai Cooperation Organisation</a> (sponsored by China) and the <a href="http://laht.com/article.asp?CategoryId=12394&amp;ArticleId=329400">South American Defence Council</a> (advanced by Brazil). Their benefits include acting as buffer mechanisms, enabling their members to avoid western involvement in crucial diplomatic and military areas. <br /><br />Fourth, there is the issue of ideas. Westphalia established foundational principles that remain the cornerstone of inter-state relations. Now, major actors within the emerging world are voicing new Southphalian concepts. China has <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/william-callahan/china%E2%80%99s-grand-strategy-in-post-western-world">proclaimed</a> the virtues of "<em>hexie shijie</em>" (harmonious world) as a <a href="http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2007/10/harmonious-society-and-harmonious-world-chinas-policy-discourse-under-hu-jintao-zheng-yongnian-eeee%E2%88%9E%E2%88%8Fa%CF%80%C2%A5-and-sow-keat-tok/">guide</a> for global affairs. India has promoted Gandhi’s <a href="http://www.i-genius.org/eprofiles/global-gandhian-trusteeship-corporate-responsibility-foundation-suresh-kr-pramar">notion</a> of "trusteeship" as an expression of the search for collective spiritual development and a more <a href="http://inequality.org/">egalitarian</a> order. Brazil, since the fiasco in Libya in 2011, has been <a href="http://www.postwesternworld.com/2013/08/01/brazils-enigmatic-retreat-the-case-of-the-responsibility-while-protecting-rwp/">calling</a> for “responsibility while protecting” as an alternative to western manipulation and mismanagement of the “responsibility-to-protect” principle. Thus, the south is introducing fresh ideas that contest the west's dominant (but <a href="http://www.postwesternworld.com/">weakening</a>) assumptions. In short, Southphalia is attempting to reconfigure the logic of politics, law and morality by which power, legality, and ethics are intertwined and reinforced.<br /><br />Fifth, there is the issue of leadership. Westphalia has been based on the deliberation of the few and the conventional style of <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67730/g-john-ikenberry/the-future-of-the-liberal-world-order">leadership</a> of the most powerful. Hegemony by a single power or bloc has been its prevailing mode. Here there is no innovation from the south: Southphalia is not investing in more participatory and pluralistic forms of deliberation, nor stimulating different modes of concerted, joint, collaborative and/or distributive leadership. <br /><br />To sum up, Southphalia shows some elements of continuity and change from Westphalia.&nbsp; Will the coming years see Southphalia's extension, not without resistance from the west, or its assimilation by a Westphalian system displaying a persistent capacity to adjust? </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199743292/obo-9780199743292-0073.xml">Peace of Westphalia, 1648</a></p><p><a href="http://www.postwesternworld.com/">Post-Western World</a></p><p><a href="http://www.worldpolicy.org/">World Policy Institute</a></p><p>Dries Lesage &amp; Thijs Van de Graaf eds., <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/rising-powers-and-multilateral-institutions-/?K=9781137397591"><em>Rising Powers and Multilateral Institutions</em></a> (Palgrave, 2015)</p><p>Charles A Kupchan, <a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/no-ones-world-9780199739394;jsessionid=BDC72557E91E9D4A2B44F3B45043BE6D?cc=gb&amp;lang=en&amp;#"><em>No One's World The West, the Rising Rest, and the Coming Global Turn</em></a> (Oxford University Press, 2012)</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Democracy and government International politics democracy & power institutions & government Globalisation Juan Gabriel Tokatlian Wed, 05 Nov 2014 13:27:04 +0000 Juan Gabriel Tokatlian 87499 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Don’t touch my constitution! Burkina Faso's lesson https://www.opendemocracy.net/yuhniwo-ngenge/don%E2%80%99t-touch-my-constitution-burkina-faso%27s-lesson <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A popular uprising in the west African country reflects a wider awakening among citizens and young people across the continent.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The political and constitutional crisis in Burkina Faso erupted with speed and still has some way to run. Its immediate cause was a scheduled vote to amend the constitution, which would have paved the way for the incumbent president, Blaise Compaoré - who came to power in 1987 - to <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/africa-in-focus/posts/2014/10/30-burkina-faso-protests-presidential-term-limits-mbaku">prolong</a> his stay. But on Thursday 30 October, protesters took to the streets in the west African country's main cities, Ouagadougou and Bobo Diolaasu, burned down parliament and ensured the vote's postponement. <br /><br />The protests led the army to impose a state of emergency. Compaoré, who had briefly disappeared from the scene, returned to announce the establishment of a twelve-month transitional administration which he <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2014/10/31/world/africa/burkina-faso-unrest/index.html?hpt=hp_t1">insisted</a> on heading. By noon on Friday 31 October, however, fresh protests <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29844123">forced </a>the president to resign. The scene has now shifted to the army, amid concerns that military <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/11/burkina-faso-army-says-it-will-cede-power-201411442519879550.html">leaders</a> are seeking to use the opportunity to take power and <a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/11/04/361320127/burkina-faso-military-urged-to-hand-over-power-to-civilians">deny</a> the people the fruits of their victory.<br /><br />The questions raised by these developments go to the heart of constitutional democracy. They include why term limits have become such a sensitive issue in contemporary Africa, and why and how citizens are taking steps to protect them from abuse. <br /><br />In Burkina Faso's case, Article 37 of the 1991 <a href="https://www.constituteproject.org/search/topics">constitution</a> (which was revised in 2000, 2003 and 2012) imposes a two-term limit for the president. The planned vote was the second time Compaoré had sought to manipulate the rule; the first was in 1997, when he repealed the term-limit provision set in 1991, before civil and political strife forced him to reintroduce it in 2000.<br /><br />Most sub-Saharan countries introduced term-limit provisions as part of a package of reforms in the early and mid-1990s to democratise politics and end the growing phenomenon of "life presidencies" in post-colonial Africa. The events in <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/burkina.htm">Burkina Faso</a> provide a fresh reminder of a disturbing <a href="http://allafrica.com/stories/200908170007.html">trend</a>: presidents introducing constitutional term-limits only to scrap them (or attempt to do so) when they are no longer politically convenient. This has happened in two waves - with a third one now underway.<br /><br /><strong>The political context</strong><br /><br />The first wave came just before and after the turn of the millennium. If Blaise Compaoré in 1997 was the pioneer, he was followed by Sam Nujoma of Namibia (1999), Omar Bongo of Gabon (2003), Lansane Conté of Guinea (2003), Gnassingbé Eyadéma of Togo (2002), and Zine el Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia in (2002). <br /><br />The second wave <a href="http://www.isn.ethz.ch/Digital-Library/Publications/Detail/?ots591=0c54e3b3-1e9c-be1e-2c24-a6a8c7060233&amp;lng=en&amp;id=102020">picked up</a> from the mid-2000s through the turn of the decade with Idriss Déby of Chad (2005), Yoweri Museveni of Uganda (2005), Paul Biya of Cameroon (2008), Abdelazziz Bouteflika of Algeria (2008). There were also several failed attempts to abolish term-limits, including in Zambia (2001), Malawi (2003), by Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria (2006), Mamadou Tandja of Niger in 2009, and Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal (2011).<br /><br />Today, a third wave is <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/many-african-leaders-seek-to-extend-time-in-power/2014/11/04/200e38b0-643a-11e4-ab86-46000e1d0035_story.html">appearing</a>, even as the crisis in Burkina Faso unfolds. Incumbents in at least three other African countries are currently seeking officially to <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/10/28/as-thousands-protest-against-term-limit-extension-in-burkina-faso-will-other-african-presidents-take-note/">scrap</a> term-limit provisions to pave the way for their re-election, while others may discreetly be preparing the ground for it. <br /><br />The first group comprises Joseph-Désiré Kabila in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Pierre Nkurunziza of Burundi, and Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville. In a familiar tone, characteristic of how changes have been engineered across the continent, allies of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame have been urging him to stay and are now seeking a vote to allow him a third term, even as the president himself remains suspiciously ambiguous on the subject. The incumbent Yayi Boni In Benin, often considered a rare positive story of francophone Africa’s democratic progress in recent decades, has also proposed reforms to the 1990 constitution which many local actors see as a strategic ploy designed eventually to extend his stay in power. </p><p>These nineteen countries, twelve of them francophone and six anglophone (along with Cameroon which is both) are a sad reminder of the <a href="http://www.africaontheblog.com/africas-elected-monarchs-presidential-term-limits-and-democracy-in-africa/">challenges</a> of entrenching democratic alternation of power and constitutional governance on the continent. In this context, events in Burkina Faso reinforce a glimmer of hope, resonant of the early days of Arab-spring revolts, that the populace can rise up to demand political change. They reveal that Africans, long held back by the chains of a victim mentality or tribal or patronage-based loyalties, are becoming more politically conscious and engaged. Younger Africans in particular are highly distrustful of politicians and becoming more resilient against <a href="https://www.ndi.org/burkina-faso">repressive</a> leadership. In addition they are also becoming more aware of their rights and more willing to fight to protect the constitutions in which these rights are enshrined.<br /><br />The attitude of "<em>touche pas a ma constitution</em>" has inspired a French human-rights <a href="http://touchepasamaconstitution.wordpress.com/a-propos/ ">project&nbsp;</a> with this name and provoked African citizens to widespread protests. In Senegal, the phrase was a <a href="http://www.lavantgarde.org/senegal-%C2%AB-touche-pas-a-ma-constitution-%C2%BB/">rallying-cry</a> for protesters as they fought Abdoulaye Wade's efforts in 2011 to run for a third term. The same was&nbsp; the case in Cameroon in 2008 and more recently in the <a href="http://www.rdcongoinfos.com/?p=7822">DRC</a>. Although the protests have not all been successful, they are significant for two reasons. <br /><br />First, they demonstrate that citizens no longer see constitutions as a matter for politicians <a href="http://www.midco.net/news/read/category/Africa%20News/article/the_associated_press-many_african_leaders_seek_to_extend_time_in_power-ap">alone</a>, but as determining their own relationship with these politicians. In other words, they&nbsp; are&nbsp; beginning to recognise not only what a constitution is but also why it matters for them. <br /><br />Second, they are a signal to authoritarian leaders across the continent that citizens are no longer prepared to remain passive observers while politicians make and break rules and tamper with their constitutions for selfish political interests. <br /><br />It is not hard to see why this is <a href="http://editorials.voa.gov/content/presidential-term-limits-key-to-democracy-in-africa/2487175.html">becoming</a> the case. Multiparty politics, introduced during the democratic reforms of the early and mid-1990s, has failed to take genuine root across most of Africa. A single party dominated by one individual has consistently dominated the political space, due in part to questionable, yet barely&nbsp; challenged, electoral victories.&nbsp; The well-known examples include Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF), Paul Biya’s Cameroon Peoples’ Democratic Movement (CPDM), Sassou Ngessou’s Congolese Party of Labour (CPL), Joseph Kabila’s&nbsp; Peoples’ Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD), and Kagame’s Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF). <br /><br />Opposition political parties are either too weak to be effective due to an uneven playing-field, persecuted and intimidated into silence, or become victims of different forms of cooptation by the ruling regime. In consequence, such parties split apart or lose public credibility, to the advantage of the ruling party. The examples of manipulation include Cameroon’s Social Democratic Front (SDF) and Zimbabwe’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).<br /><br />Moreover, the dominance of one political party has created extremely weak political institutions. Legislatures are dominated by the same party that holds the executive power; judiciaries are packed with sympathetic judges; the military is co-opted with high salaries and other benefits. Thus, parliaments and judiciaries become mere agents of the executive, completely incapable of upholding the principle of separation of powers and providing effective checks on the executive. Unsurprisingly, African heads of state have become increasingly powerful and unaccountable, setting up patronage systems in which friends and sympathisers are rewarded and troublemakers punished. <br /><br />All this has generated greater citizen distrust with the broader political establishment across the continent, often reflected in high voter abstention. Opposition parties as well as the ruling party are increasingly seen as two sides of the same coin, having the capture and retention of political power as their only objective and seeing political office only as a means for self-enrichment. The <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/10/protesters-storm-burkina-faso-parliament-20141030103451460862.html">torching</a> of Burkina Faso’s parliament and the homes of members of parliament from both regime and opposition sides is a clear sign of this broader dissatisfaction.<br /><br /><strong>The lesson</strong><br /><br />So how can the widely observed political apathy in Africa be reconciled with the scenes in Burkina Faso, where citizens risked (and in thirty cases lost) their lives in order to prevent a parliamentary vote? The timing is instructive. That the government was overthrown at the moment it sought to entrench its power in the constitution indicates a growing understanding of the separation of the state (as something owned by the people-as-sovereign) from the government (as transitory managers of the state on behalf of the people). The constitution provides the rules which cannot be broken if this core concept of democratic constitutionalism is to hold.<br /><br />Blaise Compaoré - once regarded by some as Africa’s venerated <a href="http://www.france24.com/en/20141030-blaise-compaore-african-peacemaker-burkina-faso-charles-taylor/">peacemaker</a> - is now gone in disgrace. Will others contemplating a longer stint in power take heed? Perhaps. But one lesson they must learn from Burkina Faso is that sub-Saharan Africa’s citizens and youth are waking up and guarding their constitutions closely. It’s no longer business as usual.<br /><br /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (<a href="http://www.idea.int/">International IDEA</a>)</p><p><a href="http://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-world/2012/burkina-faso#.VFkCo8lrtuA">Freedom House - Burkina Faso</a></p><p><a href="http://www.loc.gov/law/help/guide/nations/burkina.php">Burkina Faso, constution and law</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Yuhniwo Ngenge is a programme officer with the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (<a href="http://www.idea.int/">International IDEA</a>). He is based with the institute's constitution-building programme in The Hague</p> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Burkina Faso </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Burkina Faso Democracy and government International politics democracy & power institutions & government human rights africa & democracy Yuhniwo Ngenge Tue, 04 Nov 2014 10:49:39 +0000 Yuhniwo Ngenge 87465 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A letter from Raqqa https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/letter-from-raqqa <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A second letter from an Islamic State adherent operating in the part of Syria controlled by the movement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>When I last <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/war-going-according-to-plan-but-which-plan">wrote</a> I said that I might add something in a couple of months, but the questions you raise have prompted me to make a more immediate response. The first two were: what am I doing here just now, and how did I come to be doing it?&nbsp; </p><p>As you know, I came two years ago to join my brother and fight for the cause of an Islamic Caliphate. My motivation, as was his, was primarily revenge, given that we had lost two uncles and three cousins in fighting the Americans and British, and our father, two aunts and four cousins to airstrikes. That may still be part of our motivation, particularly the death of our beloved father, but we now see a much more positive future as we embrace the prospect that our leaders hold before us of a true Islamist entity. Whether we live to see it in this life is not relevant - that we are already part of it is.</p><p>My original journey here, my haphazard training (quite unlike the professionalism we have now) and my induction into fighting were all over within four weeks when I was caught in a Zionist attack, losing my left arm and very nearly my life. I survived, recovered and was desperate to return to the fight, but our leaders had other plans, telling me bluntly that I could play a far more important role for our cause by joining the analysis team SOBRA. (I understand that this stands for State Office - Briefing Room A, the place in our main bunker where we originally worked).</p><p>After more than eighteen months into this work, I have to accept that they were right - it does make far better use of my Masters degree from SOAS and my three years of living in the UK and USA, and I now lead a small team that monitors western media and government output to prepare briefings for the leadership. I have three people working for me, and our whole section numbers more than twenty, covering all the major western languages as well as Chinese and Russian, and with excellent communications systems that have so far been entirely unaffected by the numerous US airstrikes.</p><p>Most of our output is for the main planning cells, with some of it going right through to the leadership. But we also feed in a constant supply of information to our colleagues in media production. They tend to use our material in a highly nuanced if not frankly propagandistic manner, but I have to admit that when it comes to propaganda they are the very best, and simply streets ahead of their western opponents. Their numbers have increased substantially and there are now over thirty of them, many being recent recruits from among the more knowledgable of our western brothers and sisters.</p><p>That, incidentally, is an area where the rate of expansion is hugely positive. We now have many thousands of young recruits joining us from across the region. Even more importantly, many hundreds a month come from western countries, mostly men but with an increasing number of women.</p><p>You ask how I think the struggle is going, especially with what outsiders see as our failure to take Kobane.&nbsp; I have to say that our leaders have little concern, for two reasons. First, we fully expected that at some stage the Americans would try to start a serious air war and would eventually strong-arm the weak Turks to allow the Iraqi Kurds to help defend the town. Both are proving to be useful training exercises for our less experienced militias.&nbsp; </p><p>Second, as you will recall, our core military leadership has many people who learned how to handle the Americans in Iraq eight to ten years ago, but we have thousands of younger fighters with far less experience. This is what they are now getting. It is going to prove invaluable during the coming winter when the Americans will really step up the air attacks against us here in Raqqa.</p><p>One of the things we are expecting is a determined and sustained effort to wreck our civil infrastructure. Transport and communications will be the priority, together with the sustained disruption of power supplies. One of my recent assignments was to investigate the current status of the American “blackout bomb” that they used in Serbia in 1999, disrupting power supplies over 70% of the country. I’ve found out that it is very much around, designated the BLU-114/B and we expect it to be used frequently this winter, so much so that our leaders are already preparing counter-measures. You have probably never heard of this, so here’s a <a href="http://fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/dumb/blu-114.htm">link.</a></p><p>You also ask me about morale and I can only reply that it is currently very high. As I have said, my main function is to analyse the western media and I must admit that they still have little conception of what they are dealing with.&nbsp; They report, almost jubilantly, our failure to take Kobane but cannot understand that this is little more than a sideshow. Meanwhile, they miss out so many other developments.</p><p>Our mission is to create a new Caliphate, starting here in Syria and Iraq but spreading out over the next decade or more to bring in links right across the Islamic world. Let me just give you just three examples of current progress.&nbsp; </p><p>First, our leaders have now formally stated the connection between our cause and the suffering of our Uyghur cousins in China. Just making that statement, and publicising it widely across our world, begins the process of unification.</p><p>Second, as the Americans and British finally withdraw from Afghanistan, our Taliban cousins spread their control over more and more territory. They are doing it quietly but to great effect and this will continue, with a substantial increase in control after the winter. We do not pretend that we control them, nor do we seek or need to do so.&nbsp; In the wider scheme of things it is enough that they make progress.</p><p>Third, I simply cannot understand how the west, especially the Americans, fails repeatedly to recognise the effect of the actions of the Zionists. Even now, they have no appreciation of how useful the Gaza war was to us and how much anger it induced across the Muslim communities in the west - and still does as the Zionists and the Egyptian leader al-Sisi together block the rebuilding.</p><p>On top of this, Binyamin Netanyahu announces the building of 1,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem and then closes Haram al Sharif, one of the holiest of all our sites. It is simply unbelievable, and the effect on recruitment to our cause will be a joy to behold.&nbsp; Do you seriously need to ask how we see the future? To say that we see it with confidence is a masterpiece of understatement.</p><p>Raqqa&nbsp; 31 October 2014</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007)</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war">Remote control: light on new war </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Conflict Democracy and government middle east democracy & power global security Paul Rogers Fri, 31 Oct 2014 06:31:08 +0000 Paul Rogers 87309 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brazil: the road to 2018 https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-road-to-2018 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Brazil emerges from the 2014 election with a re-elected president, two problems, and four names in mind.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right caption-medium'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/gt0Q1TWVoW-Duz91psDKClFUscNmvNhAsrrxnm6VkTc/mtime:1414666961/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/5375271808_eb13f97ef1_z.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/aEqqWH8OskmWEtfboXXwM2NGjdOILpxXlkhfryf_Agg/mtime:1414666885/files/imagecache/article_medium/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/5375271808_eb13f97ef1_z.jpg" alt="razilian president Dilma Rousseff. " title="" width="240" height="358" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-medium imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff. Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Two problems and four names emerge from the results of the seventh presidential election in Brazil since the return to democracy in 1988.</span></p><p>On Sunday 26 October, more than 110 million Brazilians went to vote after an eventful campaign. The drama continued into the count, which was open almost until the last ballots were inspected. In the end the incumbent president, Dilma Rousseff, was awarded victory and another four-year term against the PSDB candidate, Aécio Neves. Dilma <a href="http://www.electionresources.org/br/president.php?election=2014&amp;state=BR">received</a> 54,501,118 votes (51.64%), and Aécio Neves 51,041,155 (48.36%).</p><p>Brazil now faces challenging <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/27/us-brazil-election-idUSKCN0IE03L20141027">economic</a> and political problems. In the economic field,&nbsp; the country is experiencing low growth and rising inflation. The IMF's World Economic Outlook (October 2014), for example, expects a GDP growth of just 0.3% in 2014 (a reduction from 1.3% in the previous report), and only 1.4% in 2015. On inflation, the IMF expects a rate of 6.3% in 2014 and 5.9% in 2015 (compared to 5.9% and 5.5% in the last report). How Dilma Roussef's "developmentalist" political <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/incredible-dilma-rousseff">character</a> will deal with these signs is a <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/americasview/2014/10/brazils-presidential-election-2">question-mark</a> over the next four years.</p><p>In the political field, things will also not be easy for the president. She will probably have to grapple with the current corruption <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/an-oil-scandal-in-brazil-complicates-the-race-for-incumbent-president-on-eve-of-election/2014/10/01/f2df5d90-c279-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html">scandal</a> at the state-controlled oil company <em>Petrobrás</em> for most of her second term. This&nbsp; promises to be another <em>mensalão</em> - the series of illegal payments to senior politicians and advisors, many of them close to then-president Lula, which <a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2013/11/economist-explains-14">overshadowed</a> his second term. A repeat would have terrible consequences for the dynamics of the Brazilian political agenda. In addition, a very fragmented and conservative Congress was elected, with for example eighty evangelicals' representatives in the Chamber of Deputies, and three powerful PSDB politicians - José Serra, Aécio Neves and Tasso Jereissati - back in the Senate.</p><p>Since this will be Dilma Rousseff's last period in office, the election is an opportunity to see the possible <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/brazils-election-ghosts-versus-monsters-26445526">shape</a> of Brazil's political landscape in the path to 2018. Here the name of the former president, Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, stands out as one to be remebered from the campaign. The popular Workers' Party (PT) leader has shown that he still has a big reserve of political <a href="http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/internacional/en/brazil/2014/10/1540114-former-president-lula-wants-to-interfere-more-in-rousseffs-administration-and-says-he-will-be-candidate-in-2018.shtml">capital</a>, especially in the northeast, where he was decisive in ensuring Dilma's victory. Lula has run five times for president (1989, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006), then worked hard in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%E2%80%99s-big-election-dilma-vs-jos%C3%A9">2010</a> and 2014 for Dilma Rousseff. Will he seek a "last hurrah"? He will be 74 years old in 2018 and there are some doubts about the condition of his health, factors which may stand against him <a href="http://blogs.ft.com/beyond-brics/2014/10/28/spectre-of-lula-returns-again-to-haunt-dilma/">running</a> in another election. </p><p>Besides Lula, another PT name emerged shining from this election: Fernando Pimentel, the elected <a href="http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/en/politica/noticia/2014-10/pimentel-wins-gubernatorial-election-minas-gerais">governor</a> of Minas Gerais. There, in Aécio Neves's own state, Pimentel won in the first round, becoming an important asset for Dilma in the next four years. In this sense, <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29769251">Minas Gerais</a> may be a clear target for high federal investments in the 2014-18 period.</p><p>Aécio Neves himself is of course also a <a href="http://www.brasilwire.com/profile-aecio-neves/">name</a> to be remembered from this election. With more than 50 million votes, Neves became the best <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-election-surprise">performing</a> PSDB candidate since another former president, <a href="http://www.ifhc.org.br/en/fhc/vida/">Fernando Henrique Cardoso</a>. He may want to place himself as the opposition leader in Brazil's Senate and try to maintain some visibility until the next election.</p><p><a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29509998">Aécio's</a> rival for the party nomination next time will be Geraldo Alckmin, the governor of São Paulo. After being re-elected in the first round of the latest election, consolidating a PSDB rule over the biggest state in the <a href="http://www.aboutbrasil.com/modules/brazil-brasil/Quick_facts_About_Brasil_Brazil.php?hoofd=9&amp;sub=50&amp;art=534">country</a> now lasting twenty-four years. <a href="http://www.brasilwire.com/the-governor/">Alckmin</a> also showed strength in backing Aécio's performance in São Paulo, where the candidate had more than 15 million votes against Dilma's 8.5 million. In Alckmin's favour is the fact that Aécio's candidate for governor of Minas Gerais lost to Fernando Pimentel in the first round. The PSDB candidate also lost to the president in his own state, where he had been governor for eight years; Dilma had 5.9 million votes in Minas Gerais, against 5.4 million for Aécio Neves.</p><p>Hence, the four years ahead promise dramatic developments for Brazil's political environment, with economic and political <a href="http://www.thestar.com.my/News/World/2014/10/28/Rousseff-will-struggle-to-restore-Brazils-economic-good-times/">turbulence</a> that will probably make it a difficult period for Dilma Rousseff. These four names - Lula and Fernando Pimentel on the PT side, Aécio Neves and Geraldo Alckmin on the PSDB one - call the attention now as important actors within the emerging political dynamics. They all also seem to represent more a continuity of the "long social-democratic moment" started in 1994 and constituted by the PT-PSDB contest, than a fundamental break with it. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Arthur Ituassu &amp; Rodrigo de Almeida eds., <a href="http://www.zahar.com.br/catalogo_detalhe.asp?id=1174"><em><span><span>O Brasil tem jeito?</span></span></em></a> (Jorge Zahar, 2006)</p><p><a href="http://www.brasilwire.com/"><em>Brasil Wire</em></a></p><div><a href="http://www.brazilpoliticalcomment.com.br/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/lang,en/"><span><span>Brazil Political and Business Comment</span></span></a></div><p><a href="http://www.brazil.ox.ac.uk/"><span><span>Centre for Brazilian Studies, University of Oxford</span></span></a></p> <p>Leslie Bethell, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521395243&amp;ss=fro"><em><span><span>Cambridge History of Latin Ameria - Vol 9, Brazil since 1930</span></span></em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2008)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-election-surprise">Brazil&#039;s election surprise</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-in-2013-historic-adventure">Brazil in 2013: a historic adventure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-vote-marina-silva%27s-chance">Brazil&#039;s vote, Marina Silva&#039;s chance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-protest-and-world-cup">Brazil, protest and the World Cup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/dilma-rousseff-and-brazil-signs-of-change">Dilma Rousseff and Brazil: signs of change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-crisis-of-representation">Brazil, a crisis of representation</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Brazil Democracy and government International politics democracy & power institutions & government Arthur Ituassu Wed, 29 Oct 2014 15:58:18 +0000 Arthur Ituassu 87258 at https://www.opendemocracy.net A critique of Arab critique https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/critique-of-arab-critique <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Arab world is often misunderstood by the tendency to ignore or flatten its differences - through time, across states, between peoples. Challenging this essentialism is the condition of progress.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The deteriorating condition of the Arab world, amid widespread disillusion following the "Arab spring" uprisings, has produced a form of lament that is best described as culturally essentialist. Its voices proclaim that we Arabs, or Muslims, are doomed to fail, good at nothing, unable to replicate the achievements of other nations and peoples. Their tone is self-flagellating, pessimistic, disparaging of the collective self, nationalist or religious, self of Arabs or Muslims. <br /><br />Their attitude tends to be absolutist: derisive of the Arabs' own <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog.php?isbn=9780674058194">history</a>, which is all our own doing, and by contrast full of praise for colonialism and foreign civilisations. This shapes their approach to the world and the Arabs alike. Yet this derision and praise have no effect on reality. <br /><br />Many who adopt these positions are well intentioned. The problem lies in their cultural essentialism, a kind of thinking that lumps together everything and everybody under one title in&nbsp; monolithic fashion, and makes no distinctions between historical epochs. In the fields of sociology and history such essentialism was criticised from the very start, but in the Arab and <a href="http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/world_maps/muslim_distribution.jpg">Muslim world</a> it continues to exert a baleful influence. <br /><br /><strong>Evidence of difference</strong><br /><br />Here are four ways in which this way of thinking is badly mistaken.&nbsp; <br /><br />First, many non-Arab and non-Muslim peoples have also experienced tyranny, extremism, backwardness, and civil strife. These are not the <a href="https://scholarworks.aub.edu.lb/handle/10938/7272">exclusive</a> preserve of Arabs and Muslims. The past in Europe and the present in some parts of Africa and south America carry a rich body of evidence corroborating this. <br /><br />Second,<strong> </strong>the state of the Arabs and Muslims was not always as miserable as today. Some chapters of <a href="http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/abba/hd_abba.htm">Abbasid</a> history can be cited; more recently prominent aspects of the 1920s-50s period were open to different possibilities.<strong> </strong>By extension, would there have been no difference at all in the states of Syria and Iraq, for example, if they had not come under the tyrannical rule of Hafez/<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/carsten-wieland/syria-decade-of-lost-chances">Bashar al-Assad</a> and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Saddam Hussein</a>? <br /><br />Third, the Arabic language and Islam, or both things together, are not enough to paper over the huge differences across the region - from people's cultures to their economic systems. Do even Arabs all share a single, supposed “Islamic mind”? Among Arab peoples, even within the same Arab country, there are fundamental <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199675135.do">differences</a>. If Malaysians and Bosnians, for example, are included, the same point applies to any notional "Muslim mind".&nbsp; <br /><br />Fourth, Arabs and Muslims today, setting aside the inherent generalisation and oversimplification found in these labels, are not the same as they were one, two, or three centuries ago. That is, they have been influenced - as all peoples have - by&nbsp; transformations such as the industrial revolution, the discovery of oil, globalisation, and the knowledge economy. To argue otherwise would be to imply that Arabs and Muslims are a different, backwards and insular “breed”. <br /><br /><strong>Two kinds of essentialism</strong><br /><br />This essentialist attitude has a political as well as cultural aspect. This too, with the failure of revolution and the falling situation in general, political essentialism spreads a counter-myth - also advanced by many well-intentioned people - that tyrannical regimes are responsible for everything bad and harmful in Arabs' and Muslims' lives. Again, its proponents ignore questions about the regime’s roots in society and culture, and about the political ideas and practices it shares with the people it oppresses. The focus of political essentialism is confined to just one dimension, namely the violence that produced, sustained, and fed the regimes it criticises. <br /><br />But there are three big differences between cultural and political essentialism. First, the former is <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/the-barbarians-within-our-gates-111116.html#.VFDWfslrtuE">pessimistic</a> and the latter, implicitly if not explicitly, optimistic. Political essentialism believes that ousting tyrannical regimes will bring salvation - or at worst will open the door to eventual salvation. The proponents of this view find consolation here, because thay can adopt the appearance of innocents, an innocence that would enable them to respond well to modernity and its effects. The implication is that Arabs and Muslims are not sectarian, backward, or perpetrators of harm; nor are they failing to shoulder responsibilities and tasks needed to resolve their problems. <br /><br />Second, cultural essentialism can be extremely elitist, and contemptuous of people, religion, and popular culture, while political essentialism is populist in nature, and finds nothing blameworthy in these phenomena. Even when political essentialists expand their criticism of regimes towards regional or international powers and systems, they still completely ignore factors like culture and religion, but especially bonds of kinship, family, and other communal configurations. <br /><br />Third, in a specific sense the criticism made by cultural and political essentialism differs in kind. The former claims that Arabs' and Muslims' history has, in effect, known "only" ISIS and similar <a href="http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/jihadis-return/">movements</a>, and that in the end they cannot do anything other than produce such outgrowths. Whereas the latter exonerates its proponents, and by extension the people, from any responsibility for ISIS and related phenomena, by linking these exclusively to tyrannical regimes or these regimes' regional and international extensions. Thus political essentialism dilutes <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/iraq-war-on-terror/rise-of-isis/who-runs-the-islamic-state/">ISIS’s</a> danger, albeit obliquely, by considering ISIS a by-product of the danger of the regimes. If the root cause is removed, the argument goes, the secondary danger is removed as well, allowing the supposed pure and authentic face of the people to surface.<br /><br />It will be very hard no doubt to make a transition towards better and more reasonable conditions in the Arab and Muslim world. The transition will entail&nbsp; conflict with both these essentialist views, offering different perspectives on Arab circumstances and Arab history - example by example, period by period, case by case. This long, difficult, and complex process will have positive results only if in addition to&nbsp;toppling the despotic regimes, it&nbsp;breaks with the deference to essentialism of both kinds, basing itself on actual reality and history, and freely resists prevailing ideas and religious dogmas. Only this can be called a true revolution.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Albert Hourani, <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/HOUHIR.html?show=reviews"><em>A History of the Arab Peoples</em></a> (Harvard University Press, 2003)</p><p> <a href="http://international.daralhayat.com/"><em>Al-Hayat </em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.al-bab.com/">Al-bab </a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hazem Saghieh is political editor of the London-based Arab newspaper <a href="http://alhayat.com/"><em>al-Hayat</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/arabs-without-capitals">Arabs without capitals</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/islamism-vs-weak-arab-nations">Islamism vs the weak Arab nations</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/iraqsyria-roots-of-disintegration">Iraq-Syria: roots of disintegration</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/arab-revolutions-end-to-dogma">The Arab revolutions: an end to dogma </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/islamists-without-book">Islamists without a book</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/military-and-islamist-failure-what-next">Military and Islamist failure: what next? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/revolution-in-revolution-century-of-change">Revolution in the revolution: a century of change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/baathism-in-iraqsyria-out-of-time">Ba&#039;athism in Iraq-Syria: out of time</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/hazem-saghieh/great-unravelling-and-new-map">A great unravelling, and a new map</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east democracy & power Hazem Saghieh Tue, 28 Oct 2014 05:27:46 +0000 Hazem Saghieh 87223 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Rwanda: The Untold Story": facts and fabrication https://www.opendemocracy.net/filip-reyntjens/rwanda-untold-story-facts-and-fabrication <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A BBC documentary on Rwanda produced great controversy, including in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/andrew-wallis/rwanda-untold-story-questions-for-bbc">an article</a> by Andrew Wallis. But his own critique is itself selective and inaccurate in important ways, replies one of those he criticised. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>It was to be expected that the documentary <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04kk03t"><em>Rwanda: The Untold Story</em></a>, first broadcast by BBC2 on 1 October 2014, would cause considerable controversy. And so it proved, including intense and heated debate on Twitter and Facebook, and many statements for and against the programme issued by commentators and organisations. The arguments were predictable: those critical of or opposed to the Rwandan regime applauded the film, those supporting it, and of course the Rwandan regime <a href="http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/kagame-fires-back-at-british-broadcaster-bbc-for-negating-rwanda-genocide-reports-kt-press-279273122.html">itself</a>, vehemently attacked the BBC. </p><p>One of the problems here, as with many things <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/rwanda.htm">Rwandan</a>, is that both sides selectively use facts or even engage in outright lies, thus allowing two opposing truths to emerge. It would clearly not be practical to discuss all the interventions to demonstrate this point, so I will do so by using the example of a coherent and well-articulated denunciation of the documentary: Andrew Wallis's article "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/andrew-wallis/rwanda-untold-story-questions-for-bbc"><em>Rwanda: The Untold Story</em>: questions for the BBC</a>" , first published by openDemocracy on on 6 October and reprinted the next day in the Rwandan regime daily, the <a href="http://www.newtimes.co.rw/"><em>New Times</em></a>.</p><p>Wallis starts by quoting the <a href="http://www.unictr.org/">International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda</a> (ICTR) as saying that genocide took place in Rwanda in 1994, and that the majority of those killed were Tutsi. These are facts no one would deny. However, he then goes on to claim that the documentary “totally reattributes” this historical reality. Apart from a passage I will address in a moment, that is not what the film does. Wallis creates this confusion by stating that the film “pushes aside” scholarly research, witness interviews for the ICTR, and reports by international organisations and human-rights groups; but he doesn’t clarify in detail what these sources address and therefore what can be “pushed aside”.</p><p>I share Wallis’s concern about the claims made by Allan Stam and Christian Davenport. Although they have never published a scientific contribution on this issue and while they offer no verifiable substantiation, including on their <a href="http://genodynamics.weebly.com/">website</a> (genodynamics.weebly.com), Stam and Davenport state that, assuming one million people were killed during the genocide, 200,000 were Tutsi and 800,000 were Hutu (by the way, contrary to what Wallis states, they don’t claim that all those Hutu were killed by the Rwandan Patriotic Front [<a href="http://www.gov.rw/THE-RWANDESE-PATRIOTIC-FRONT-RPF">RPF</a>]). </p><p>There is no basis for these figures. In 1997, I myself found a death toll of about 1.1 million, around 600,000 Tutsi and around 500,000 Hutu, and these figures have never been seriously challenged (those published by the Rwandan government are factually impossible). While we know by whom and why Tutsi were killed, the cause of death of Hutu was much more complex. This ranged from political to criminal to personal reasons, the cholera epidemic in the Goma region, as well as - yes - massacres by the RPF. The latter could well exceed 100,000, as claimed by <a href="http://www.asmeascholars.org/dr-gerard-prunier/">G<span class="st"><em>é</em></span>rard Prunier</a>, one of the academics mentioned by Wallis.</p><p>Wallis, rather than addressing matters of substance,&nbsp; then goes on to claim that the BBC documentary lacked balance, treating its viewers with “crushing tabloid accusations”, “pithy soundbites”, “sly insinuations” and “slo-mo shots of the Rwandan leader looking suitably diabolical”, in the end being reduced to a “good vs evil parody that left anyone with knowledge of the country and its history (…) with a feeling of frank disbelief and anger”. This is a strange claim as the RPF has in the past greatly benefited from the “good guys - bad guys” dichotomy, with the RPF itself in the role of the “good guys”. Also, I suppose that even Wallis will not argue that I am without knowledge of Rwanda and its history, and yet I would agree with <a href="http://africanarguments.org/2014/10/21/rwandas-untold-story-a-reply-to-38-scholars-scientists-researchers-journalists-and-historians-by-filip-reyntjens/">much</a> in the documentary which, to a large extent, reflects the findings in my latest book <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/politics-international-relations/african-government-politics-and-policy/political-governance-post-genocide-rwanda"><em>Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2013). </p><p>On the shooting <a href="http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/april/6/newsid_2472000/2472195.stm">down</a> of Juv<span class="st"><em>é</em></span>nal Habyarimana’s plane on 6 April 1994, I share Wallis’s surprise that only the Jean-Louis Bruguière <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/21/world/africa/21iht-rwanda.3618561.html?_r=0">report</a> is mentioned in the film, but not that of his successors Marc Trévidic and Nathalie Poux. He, however, wrongly claims that the latter “showed clearly the missiles were fired from an area controlled by extremist Hutu units of the presidential guard”. Indeed, there is no "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/andrew-wallis/rwanda-step-towards-truth">report</a>" by Trévidic and Poux, rather just technical ballistic and acoustic reports that, together with numerous other pieces of evidence, were added to the file in January 2012. Had Trévidic and Poux found the evidence in those reports as compelling as Wallis seems to suggest, they would long have decided to close the case against the RPF suspects. </p><p>The <a href="http://mutsinzireport.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/DASSR_Report_FINAL_inc_Analysis_130309%5B1%5D.pdf">research</a> done in 2008 by Cranfield University at the request of the Rwandan government did not “come to the same conclusion”. Actually it came to no conclusion at all on who may have downed the plane. Also, contrary to what Wallis states, there is not just “a single RPF defector” who claims that the RPF is responsible. Only one is interviewed in the documentary, but several have affirmed this in a consistent fashion. Based on a number of impeccable Ugandan sources and several other elements, I myself believe that the RPF downed the plane.</p><p>Wallis misrepresents me as “a long-term advisor to Habyarimana”. This character assassination is consistently used by the Rwandan regime and its supporters when they don’t have any substantive argument to oppose me. I don’t know whether Wallis believes this himself, but it is factually untrue. Quite the contrary, I have been a Habyarimana critic since the late 1970s and 1980s, a period when this was all but obvious. I’ve published critical articles on elections, detention on remand, prosecutions for attempts against state security and human-rights abuses. I have asked Amnesty International to investigate Rwanda more seriously than it did. I have criticised the massive arrests of so-called RPF “accomplices” in late 1990 and have spent several months in Rwanda in early 1991 to contribute to their release. When I participated (by the way, together with a Tutsi lawyer) in drafting the 1978 <a href="http://www.constitutionnet.org/country/constitutional-history-rwanda">constitution</a>, something that some now hold against me, this was the consequence of my critical comments on an earlier draft.</p><p>In the remainder of his <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/andrew-wallis/rwanda-untold-story-questions-for-bbc">text</a>, Wallis attempts to discredit RPF <a href="http://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/articles/14087/military-purges-in-rwanda-expose-cracks-in-kagame-regime">defectors</a> who are now critical of Paul Kagame. They are “accused of”, “said to”, “alleged to”. The fact that they were convicted <em>in absentia</em> to long prison sentences seems to be taken by Wallis as proof of their guilt, while he could have asked questions about the use of courts in Rwanda to harass opponents. I should add that the fact that they now oppose Kagame doesn’t make them saints in my eyes. Wallis terribly downplays the massive and systematic massacre of tens of thousands of civilian <a href="http://refugeesinternational.org/where-we-work/africa/dr-congo">refugees</a> in Zaire/DR Congo, trying to justify these crimes by claiming that the refugee camps were a security risk for Rwanda. This was undoubtedly true, but after dismantling the camps, the Rwandan army deployed search-and-destroy units specifically aimed at exterminating people that posed no military risk at all.</p><p>Much more could be said about the way in which Wallis criticises the BBC. I myself am not in full agreement with everything said in the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04kk03t">programme</a>, but in order to be credible the criticism must be based on facts and the emotion must not be selective. So when Wallis finds “factual inaccuracies, misleading generalisations and omissions” in the film, that characterisation would apply to his rebuttal as well.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Filip Reyntjens, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/politics-international-relations/african-government-politics-and-policy/political-governance-post-genocide-rwanda"><em>Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2013)</p><p><a href="http://www.unictr.org/">International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda</a> (ICTR)</p><p>Gérard Prunier,<a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=90"><em><span><span> The Rwanda Crisis, 1954-94: History of a Genocide</span></span></em></a> (C Hurst, 2nd edition, 1998)</p><p><a href="genodynamics.weebly.com">Genodynamics </a></p><p><a href="http://www.inogs.com/">International Network of Genocide Scholars</a> (INOGS)</p><p><a href="http://kigaliwire.com/">Kigali Wire</a></p><p><a href="http://www.massviolence.org/">Encyclopedia of Mass Violence </a></p><p>Susan Thomson, An Ansoms &amp; Jude Murison eds., <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/emotional-and-ethical-challenges-for-field-research-in-africa-susan-thomson/?K=9781137263742"><em>Emotional and Ethical Challenges for Field Research in Africa: The Story Behind the Findings</em></a> (Palgrave, 2012)&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Filip Reyntjens is professor of law and politics at the University of Antwerp. He has studied Africa's Great Lakes region for almost forty years and has published widely on the subject. His latest book is <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/us/academic/subjects/politics-international-relations/african-government-politics-and-policy/political-governance-post-genocide-rwanda"><em>Political Governance in Post-Genocide Rwanda</em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2013)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/andrew-wallis/rwanda-untold-story-questions-for-bbc">&quot;Rwanda: The Untold Story&quot;: questions for the BBC</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/martin-shaw/politics-of-genocide-rwanda-and-dr-congo">The politics of genocide: Rwanda &amp; DR Congo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/andrew-wallis/rwanda-step-towards-truth">Rwanda: a step towards truth</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/thomas-goodfellow/kigali-2020-politics-of-silence-in-city-of-shock">Kigali 2020: the politics of silence in the city of shock</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Rwanda </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Rwanda Conflict Democracy and government International politics africa democracy & power human rights africa & democracy Filip Reyntjens Sun, 26 Oct 2014 21:30:17 +0000 Filip Reyntjens 87167 at https://www.opendemocracy.net NGOs lose ground in Sisi's Egypt https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/ola-kubbara/ngos-lose-ground-in-sisi%27s-egypt <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>NGOs in Egypt did not expect to have fewer freedoms under Sisi's presidency. But regressive laws and regulations governing them are now being reinforced.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span>Shortly after Sisi’s election, in a July 2014 newspaper ad, the Ministry of Social Affairs requested all Egyptian NGOs to get registered under Law 84/2002. This law&nbsp;undermines the already limited margin permitted for NGO activities and allows for more restrictions and regulations on establishing them.</span></p> <p><span class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/rlXXoppYQxTybjQw85dJFThA-pGiDvg4-Tnd3-MZSHE/mtime:1413867533/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/MOSS%20Egy%20ad%2018%20July.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/JlEFnYDNP610rodmykkWB7Ibv96lz53m_uvnfnbxqP0/mtime:1413849039/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/553378/MOSS%20Egy%20ad%2018%20July.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="435" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>The Ministry of Social Solidarity ad, in the sports section of <a href="http://www.ahram.org.eg/pdf/Zoom_1500/index.aspx?cal=1&amp;ID=46610">Al Ahram</a> 18 July 2014.</span></p><p>Several NGOs issued a joint statement refusing to register under this restrictive Mubarak-era law. They expressed the hope to find more freedom in Egypt under the presidency of Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. In response, the Ministry of Social Affairs agreed on 1 September 2014, to prolong the deadline for registration of NGOs by two months, until 10 November, due to pressure from the Egyptian National Council for Human Rights (NCHR). </p> <p>Now that the deadline is coming closer, it is worth taking a look at what this registration means for the NGOs and their affiliated partners.</p> <h2><span>Restrictions</span></h2> <p><a href="http://www.bu.edu/bucflp/files/2012/01/Law-on-Nongovernmental-Organizations-Law-No.-84-of-2002.pdf">Law 84/2002</a>&nbsp;is mainly concerned with community development associations and civic foundations. According to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/09/01/ngo-registration-deadline-extended-demanded-rights-groups/">Human Rights Watch</a>, the law allows the government to deny NGO requests to affiliate with international organisations. The law also gives the&nbsp;government&nbsp;the “power to shut down these NGOs at will, freeze their&nbsp;assets, confiscate their property and block&nbsp;<a href="http://www.dailynewsegypt.com/2014/07/09/29-ngos-protest-new-civil-society-draft-law/">funding</a>.” </p> <p>Several NGOs have demanded the abolition of this law since its enactment in 2002. The response of the different governments was weak; numerous drafts were proposed, but none of them became binding law–until now. In July 2014, the last proposal by the Ministry of Social Affairs was rejected by 29 NGOs, stating that it allowed the government to place even more limitations and restrictions on them.</p> <p>The latest draft of the bill, according to critics, disregards Article 75 of the 2014 constitution, which allows civic associations to operate independently without the control and monitoring of the authorities. In the view of the&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/submission/07">Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights</a>, the proposed law, if adopted, would “criminalise the operation of NGOs and subordinate them to the security establishment, shutting down the public sphere in Egypt to all but regime supporters.” </p> <h2>Agents of change</h2> <p>In a 1999 survey by the&nbsp;<a title="Arab Network for Development" href="http://www.icnl.org/research/resources/regional/ArabStates.pdf">Arab Network for Development</a>, Egypt’s civil society sector employed the equivalent of 629,223 full-time workers. This accounts for $1.5 billion in expenditures; approximately two percent of Egypt’s GDP. In her article in&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/submission/eg12.htm">Al-Ahram Weekly</a>, Mariz Tadros states that there are more than 16,000 NGOs registered in Egypt in 2003.</p> <p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/submission/5.3diamond.html">Larry Diamond</a>&nbsp;explains that civil society entails “the realm of organised social life that is voluntary, self-generating, (largely) self-supporting, and autonomous from the state, and bound by a legal order or set of shared rules.” He distinguishes civil society from “society” in general in that it involves citizens acting collectively in a public sphere to express their interests, passions, and ideas, exchange information, achieve mutual goals, make demands on the state and hold state officials to account. </p> <p>Therefore, NGOs are considered substantial agents of social and political change within civil society. However, due to the authoritarian political environment in which they exist in Egypt, they are not as effective and operative as they should be. There is a lack of support towards these organisations, and they usually have to do the job on their own, without substantial help from any other agents of political change.</p><h2><span>Background</span></h2> <p>Before Law 84/2002 got enacted, the legal regulations concerning NGO activities in Egypt were enshrined in the previous Law 32 of 1964. With this law the government had absolute authority and power over the activities and conducts of NGOs. Under Law 32/1964, the government was able to simply permit or ban any NGO at any point in time. The Nasser, Sadat and Mubarak regimes all used Law 32/1964 to constrain and restrict the rights of individuals to freely form associations, and to practice their basic civil and collective rights.</p> <p>The Egyptian and international NGO community tried several times to persuade subsequent governments to amend the restrictive Law 32, or at least alter some of its clauses. Due to immense political pressure, in 1998 the government entitled the People’s Assembly to consider a new draft law of associations to substitute Law 32. </p> <p>However, international human rights organisations were not satisfied with these amendments. The US-based organisation Human Rights Watch condemned the draft, saying it stimulated fear within Egypt’s NGO community, arguing that it “would permit excessive government interference in the affairs of NGOs and their management structures.” </p> <p>The fight against Law 32 continued until 1999, when&nbsp;<a href="http://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/reports/egypt0705.pdf">Law 153</a>&nbsp;amended it in the same year. Enacted for a very short period, this law was later declared unconstitutional, so that a new draft law became necessary.&nbsp;</p> <h2>New NGO law</h2> <p>During the following parliamentary debate in 2002, opposition parties declared their objection to the restrictive provisions of the new draft law that took up most elements of Law 153. However, 90 percent of the MPs came from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP); hence, the opposition’s criticism had no effect. </p> <p>Law 84/2002 passed and the government maintained enough legal means to interrupt the activities of NGOs at any time. Law 32/1964 was repealed along with any other provisions that were in conflict with law 84/2002.With Law 84/2002, the regime established new rules to regulate the relationship between NGOs and the state. </p> <p>For example, it removed controversial requirements and restrictions on the rights to form associations. Furthermore, all NGOs had to gain the approval of the Ministry of Social Affairs before accepting foreign funds. Because of efforts by Egyptian NGOs to gain space in the political arena and initiate changes towards political liberalisation, the authoritarian regime continued to limit their activities and keep them controlled.</p> <h2>Discussion of the laws</h2> <p>Advocates of the restrictive approach argue that NGOs in Egypt were mainly elite-led and completely detached from the wider base of society, incapable of reaching out to the less educated and politically less conscious population. </p> <p>Hence, they would neither contribute to the empowerment and mobilisation of people nor function as proper channels for social and political expression of the broader population. According to this logic, NGOs were hardly entitled to more freedom and space for social and political activism. </p> <p>However, though many Egyptian NGOs were indeed founded by influential upper-class people, they expanded to include people of different social and intellectual backgrounds. Moreover, even if these organisations reach only small numbers of people compared to the whole population, they start important public discussions, raise awareness and might thereby trigger social and political change.</p> <h2>Outlook</h2> <p>The status of NGOs has not been changed since Abdel Fatah al-Sisi became president in June 2014. In addition to the recent crackdown on human rights and political activists, journalists, bloggers and others, the current government has not taken any steps towards more rights and freedoms for civil society organisations. </p> <p>Cases of suppression include the two-year sentence in May 2014, for political activist&nbsp;<a href="http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index19310/court-suspends-mahienour-el-massrys-sentence-order">Mahienour El Massry</a>, and eight others for violating the Protest Law. They were charged for demonstrating outside of a court of law that was trying the two policemen accused of killing Khaled Said. Also, in June 2014, the sentencing of Egyptian activist and blogger&nbsp;<a href="http://www.madamasr.com/content/abd-el-fattah-shura-council-defendants-sentenced-15-years-absentia">Alaa Abdel Fattah</a>&nbsp;and 24 other activists to fifteen years in prison for demonstrating in front of the Shura Council and thereby violating the Protest Law. Mahienour, Alaa Abdel Fattah and two others were eventually released on bail.</p> <p>Many hoped that the government would by now have realised that the democratic process can never be completed or sustained solely by changing the top authorities without developing and altering the bottom institutions and organisations. </p> <p>If NGOs are left in peace by the authorities to conduct their social and political activities, in the long run they will help to develop a politically and socially conscious society. However, if the authorities constantly intervene in their affairs, and always try to contain and limit their activities and conduct, they will never be able to complete their missions and long-term goals.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/amira-mikhail/obliteration-of-civil-society-in-egypt">The obliteration of civil society in Egypt</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/chalaine-chang/egypt-swallowing-civil-society">Egypt, swallowing civil society</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/rania-fazah/egypt-human-rights-on-hold-in-name-of-economic-development">Egypt: human rights on hold, in the name of economic development</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openglobalrights/saskia-brechenmacher-thomas-carothers/in-for-bumpy-ride-international-aid-and-closi">In for a bumpy ride: international aid and the closing space for domestic NGOs </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Arab Awakening Egypt Civil society Democracy and government middle east democracy & power Civil society Egypt in the balance Arab Awakening Ola Kubbara Tue, 21 Oct 2014 04:49:43 +0000 Ola Kubbara 86982 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Remote control: light on new war https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-light-on-new-war <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Armed drones, special forces, privatisation and secrecy are the preferred tools of military campaigns from Iraq-Syria to the Sahel. Now, researchers are mapping this landscape in the public interest. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The United States-led operation against the Islamic State is already faltering. The media focus on the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/kurds-resist-islamic-states-renewed-push-for-kobani-1413379615">fight</a> for Kobani, on the border between Syria and Turkey, has meant neglect of the important advances being made by IS across Iraq's Anbar province. There, two months of airstrikes have so far had little effect, as the paramilitaries quickly <a href="http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/10/13/iraqi-military-training-camp-falls-to-isis-as-airstrikes-fail-to-stop-militants-advance/">adapt</a> to the challenge. </p><p>In itself this ability to respond to air power is hardly surprising. Much of the Islamic State's leadership is drawn from militias that survived the western occupation of Iraq from 2003-10, in the process gaining more experience of the impact of air-assaults than just about any other group since the <em>mujahideen</em> that fought against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">The thirty-year war, continued</a>", 11 September 2014).</p><p><a href="http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/jihadis-return/">Patrick Cockburn</a>, one of the best-informed western journalists, reports that the IS has <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29606089">taken</a> over many towns and villages along the Euphrates west of Baghdad, saying they “fell in a few days, often after little resistance by the Iraqi Army which showed itself to be as dysfunctional as in the past, even when backed by US air strikes” (see Patrick Cockburn, "<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/war-against-isis-us-strategy-in-tatters-as-militants-march-on-9789230.html">War against Isis: US air strategy in tatters as militants march on</a>", <em>Independent on Sunday</em>, 12 October 2014). Several other despatches elaborate on further problems: the <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/10/iraq-army-withdraws-from-last-base-hit-20141013105557467561.html">flight</a> of army personnel from the city of Heet, in Anbar; the depserate siege of army units at Iraq's largest <a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/article/20141013/NEWS08/310130042/Iraqi-army-continues-struggle-fight-against-Islamic-State">oil-refinery</a>; even the prospect that the entire province is <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/islamic-state-fighters-are-threatening-to-overrun-iraqs-anbar-province/2014/10/09/34b302f0-84e4-4d73-b220-2d91161363e5_story.html ">at risk</a>.</p><p>Among many <a href="http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-TV/2014/10/14/Report-ISIS-Surrounds-One-of-the-Biggest-Bases-in-Anbar-Province">setbacks</a> for the new Iraqi government, particularly damaging was the assassination on 12 October of Anbar province's police commander, Major-General Ahmen Saddag, when two roadside-bombs hit his heavily protected convoy (see Kirk Semple, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/13/world/middleeast/police-chief-of-embattled-province-killed-in-iraq.html?_r=0">Bomb attack kills police chief in strategic Iraqi province</a>", <em>New York Times</em>, 13 October 2014). The same day, three suicide-bombers attacked a security centre in Qara Taba district north-east of Baghdad, killing thirty people and injuring 140; the previous day, multiple bomb-attacks <a href="http://www.latimes.com/world/middleeast/la-fg-baghdad-mood-20141013-story.html#page=1">around</a> Baghdad had taken more than lives and injured nearly a hundred.</p><p><strong>A strategic shift</strong></p><p>Barack Obama's stated <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2014/09/10/president-obama-we-will-degrade-and-ultimately-destroy-isil">aim</a> is to use air-power to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State. The creeping failure of the objective is already having an effect in Washington; the former presidential contender John McCain <a href="http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/220517-mccain-isis-is-winning ">argues</a> that “the United States should be sending targeted Special Forces troops and forward air-controllers…”</p><p>McCain may be speaking more as a politician rather than the military figure he once was, but he represents a view that is increasingly common <a href="http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/10/america-needs-a-more-aggressive-strategy-against-isilnow-111821.html#ixzz3Fzn2uAQq">inside</a> the beltway, The implication is that the Obama administration now has to consider how to defeat the Islamic State without the incremental committment of tens of thousands of troops. What is virtually certain is that the US will move in the direction of “r<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">emote control</a>”: that is, far greater use of air power, especially armed-drones, supplemented by a rapid expansion of the deployment of special forces. The latter would draw directly on the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued">experience</a> of the "shadow war" of 2004-07 fought mainly in Anbar province and the greater Baghdad area.&nbsp; </p><p>The combination - <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-cost-and-challenge">armed-drones</a>, stand-off weapons, low-profile special forces - is initially attractive. At best, it guarantees little media coverage in the west, few of our boys getting killed, and useful results on the ground. After all, the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was terminated in late 2001 using special forces, air-power and proxy ground-troops (the Northern Alliance), and the rebellion in Iraq was curbed, in part, by Task Force 145.</p><p><strong>A way around secrecy</strong></p><p>It seems simple - but it isn’t. The tools to make an informed judgment are increasingly available from a range of studies and projects now underway. This week, for example, sees the timely appearance of one of the first fruits of the <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a>, an initiative of the <a href="http://www.thenetworkforsocialchange.org.uk/ ">Network for Social Change</a>. The project, started in late 2013, is in turn hosted by <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/ ">Oxford Research Group</a>.</p><p>This publication is all the more valuable as detailed research on "remote control" warfare is still in its early stages. In this case the group has sought out academics and think-tank experts to commission a very interesting range of work, about half of which has already been made available. The material so far is summarised in a handy digest <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Remote-Control-Digest.pd">released</a> on 13 October; it includes reports on the use of <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Vertic-Report.pdf">cyberwarfare</a>, summaries of regular monthly reports on diverse remote-control developments from <a href="http://www.openbriefing.org/">Open Briefing</a>, and a series of studies with intriguing results. There is much more to come.</p><p>Many investigators are concerned that independent research in this area is made so difficult by the high levels of secrecy and singular lack of transparency that surround it. The <a href="http://www.everycasualty.org/">Every Casualty</a> group, for example, finds it extremely difficult to get accurate information on civilian casualties <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/EC-RC-Losing-Sight.pdf">caused</a> by drone-strikes. It is especially hard to get accurate information on the use of special forces. </p><p>Three individual studies give a flavour of the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/dronecasualtylawcivic-nexus">work</a> being done, often by getting round the obstacles of official secrecy.</p><p>First, <a href="http://www.reprieve.org.uk/croftonblack/">Crofton Black</a> does some lateral <a href="//remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/CroftonBlack_USSOCOM-Contracting-Report_NE.pdf">research</a> - data-mining publicly available information on US defence-budget contracts to private companies hired by the US special-operations command (USSOCOM). What he discovered was the very high level of privatisation, involving billions of dollars, and the range of activities contracted out, even including psychological operations and interrogation. From a security perspective, such privatisation may provide an extra layer of secrecy; but it also means far less public transparency and debate over what is being done.</p><p>Second, <a href="http://www.bath.ac.uk/polis/staff/wali-aslam/">Wali Aslam</a> of the University of Bath, in another report, <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Wali-Report.pdf">examines</a> some of the side-effects of large-scale armed-drone operations in north-west Pakistan. One of his results, hardly surprising to anyone with common sense, was that leading <em>jihadists </em>likely to be subject to targeted killing simply relocated, often to cities where they could remain highly active if largely hidden from view&nbsp; </p><p>Third, a <a href="http://remotecontrolproject.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/Sahel-Sahara-report.pdf ">report</a> on recent developments in the Sahel, particularly Mali and Niger offers insight into areas which have largely disappeared from the western media. In perhaps one of the most interesting pieces of research, the report uncovers a very quiet but speedy escalation in the US military presence, joining with reinforced French forces. In some ways the Sahel region is becoming a <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/mali-and-remote-control-war">model</a> for the new style of warfare - even a clear example of “liddism”, that is, keeping the lid on conflicts rather than going for the roots of the problems (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security ">Beyond 'liddism': toward real global security</a>", 1 April 2010). This approach makes it necessary to work with some of the most autocratic regimes in the region, but always with the minimum of publicity.</p><p><strong>A new direction</strong></p><p>A common feature of much of this research is the conclusion that the various <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">forms</a> of remote warfare are leading to an increase in radicalisation and extreme actions, rather than the decrease they seek. This is part of a wider and uncomfortable conclusion that so much of the “war on terror” has not just failed but has made matters worse. Around 2010-12, especially after the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-13257330">killing</a> of Osama bin Laden, a widespread view among western politicians and analysts was that al-Qaida and similar movements were way past their peak. Today, as in the military <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/14/us-mideast-crisis-military-obama-idUSKCN0I30BC20141014">conference</a> in Washington on 14 October, Barack Obama talks of a war lasting years.</p><p>An overall perspective suggests it is no longer possible to argue convincingly that drones, special forces and other forms of remote control are the answer to radical movements. The proper direction is to look much more deeply at the conditions which have encouraged these groups to develop. Otherwise, the idea of a war lasting years may be superseded by one lasting decades.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/peace/index.php"><span><span>Department of peace studies, Bradford University</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p> <p><a href="http://costsofwar.org/article/afghan-civilians">Costs of War</a></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org/">Remote Control Project</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></a></em> (Pluto, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.everycasualty.org/">Every Casualty</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <em><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415419383/" target="_blank"><span><span>Global Security and the War on Terror: Elite Power and the Illusion of Control</span></span></a></em> (Routledge, 2007)</p> <p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p><a href="http://thenetworkforsocialchange.org.uk/">Network for Social Change</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/projects/recording_casualties_armed_conflict"><span><span>Recording Casualties in Armed Conflict </span></span></a>(RCAC)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/remote-control-new-way-of-war">Remote control, a new way of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">America&#039;s global shift: drone wars, base politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/drone-wars">Drone wars</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/asymmetrical-drone-war">An asymmetrical drone war </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-global-danger">Drone warfare: a global danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/every-casualty-human-face-of-war">Every casualty: the human face of war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-warfare-cost-and-challenge">Drone warfare: cost and challenge</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-global-shift-drone-wars-base-politics">America&#039;s global shift: drone wars, base politics</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">Drone wars: the Afghan model</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/drone-wars-new-blowback">Drone wars: the new blowback </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/road-to-endless-war">The road to endless war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/americas-new-wars-and-militarised-diplomacy">America&#039;s new wars, and militarised diplomacy</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/dronecasualtylawcivic-nexus">The drone-casualty-law-civic nexus </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/mali-and-remote-control-war">Mali, and remote-control war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/beyond-%E2%80%9Cliddism%E2%80%9D-towards-real-global-security">Beyond &quot;liddism&quot;: towards real global security</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Conflict International politics democracy & power Globalisation global security Paul Rogers Wed, 15 Oct 2014 13:14:33 +0000 Paul Rogers 86843 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Bulgaria in limbo https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/dimitar-bechev/bulgaria-in-limbo <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A messy election in a troubling time leaves Bulgarians still waiting for light.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/wvDURO6gnmN-uiJT7ilMvWHZwqqPF1gqP1LbmDc8n-8/mtime:1413288082/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bulg.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/5Yb5PbAOHk4tr7SsXY1RwTXG7dKLYzbC7O9a3s9YcYw/mtime:1413287878/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/548777/bulg.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="306" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Boyko Borisov, leader of Bulgaria's GERB party. Flickr/EPP. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span></p><p>There is both good and bad news about Bulgaria.</p><p>The good news is that the general election on 5 October 2014 did not, as some had feared, enthrone a populist strongman in the mould of Hungary's Viktor Orbán, Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or Serbia’s Aleksandar Vučić. The centre-right GERB (“Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria”) headed by <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/boyko-borisov-bulgarias-karate-kicking-comeback-king-210048115.html">Boyko Borisov</a>, a former bodyguard and police chief known for his macho persona and folksy ways, scored a victory, sweeping about one-third of the votes cast and humiliating its principal rival, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which trailed far behind with a paltry 15.4%. But proportional representation soured the feat: GERB saw its caucus shrink from 97 to 84 members of parliament. As a result Borisov has no choice but to <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/sections/elections/borissov-wins-last-chance-election-bulgaria-308931">share</a> power with others in any new cabinet.&nbsp; <br /><br />The bad news is that <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/bulgaria.htm">Bulgaria</a> got a fragmented legislature, which bodes <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21623754-bulgaria-looks-likely-get-yet-another-unstable-fractious-government-borisov-back">ill</a> for the government that will follow, whatever its composition. Beyond GERB and the Socialists, six other parties made it past the 4% threshold: the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF, 14.8%), mostly representing Bulgarian Turks and Muslims; the centre-right Reformist Bloc (RB, 8.8%); the nationalist Patriotic Front (PF, 7.2%); the populist Bulgaria without Censorship (BWC, 5.6%); the ultranationalist Ataka (4.5%); and Alternative for Bulgarian Renaissance, a splinter from the BSP headed by ex-president Georgi Parvanov (ABV, 4.1%).&nbsp; The last two political outfits benefited from the record low turnout (48.6%, according to the central electoral <a href="http://www.aceeeo.org/en/institutional-members/bulgaria">commission</a>). The post-election arithmetic suggests two things: a three-way <a href="http://www.novinite.com/articles/164019/Bulgaria+PM+Supports+Coalition+between+GERB%2C+Reformist+Bloc%2C+Patriotic+Front">coalition</a> is the most likely scenario, and GERB, as the largest party, will form the core of the prospective cabinet.&nbsp; <br /><br />But this is where the difficult part begins. With such a diverse parliament, Borisov on the face of it has many options at hand. At a closer glance it gets trickier, for two reasons. <br /><br />First, the very notion of coalition rule is thoroughly compromised. Bulgaria’s recent <a href="http://www.electionresources.org/bg/">experience</a> with multi-party governments (2001-05, 2005-09 and 2013-14, with the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/monitoring/snap-elections-in-bulgaria">ill-fated</a> Plamen Oresharski administration) suggests these are little more than rent-seeking arrangements <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/dimitar-bechev/bulgaria%E2%80%99s-elections-change-we-disbelieve-in">enabling</a> political elites to parcel the public sector and distribute its spoils to their respective clienteles. MRF, а regular fixture in successive cabinets for the past fifteen years, has earned notoriety thanks to its cosy ties to oligarchs, alleged vote-buying during <a href="http://www.electionguide.org/countries/id/34/">elections</a>, and unmatched influence over the redistribution of budget resources (European Union funds included). It is far from a coincidence that the appointment of Delyan Peevski, a media tycoon and prominent MRF figure, as head of the state agency for national security (DANS) triggered the citizen <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/dimitar-bechev/bulgaria-students-to-rescue">protests</a> in June 2013. Despite his tender age, Peevski came to personify the governance model plaguing Bulgarian politics and the economy. <br /><br />Thus, rather than generate badly needed stability, a coalition might well destroy whatever <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/dimitar-bechev/bulgaria%E2%80%99s-anger-real-source">meagre</a> residue of trust Bulgarian citizens keep with respect to their representatives in power. <br /><br />Second, GERB has complicated relations with potential partners. The case in point is the RB bloc, which received its initial momentum from the 2013 protests in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ivan-krastev-centre-for-liberal-strategies/bulgaria-protest-for-future">support</a> of the rule of law, and clean and transparent government. But the parties inside the RB are split on the question of whether Borisov should be at the cabinet’s helm. One view suggests there is no other choice, while others consider GERB’s leader a status-quo player reluctant to clamp down on <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization-institutions_government/europe_blackhole_3796.jsp">corruption</a> and state capture. Their misgivings are not ungrounded, as GERB’s first stint in power (2009-13) was, to put it mildly, far from being marked by root-and-branch reforms.&nbsp; <br /><br /><strong>Low, then lower</strong><br /><br />Borisov, in the meantime, is not idle. He has been exerting pressure on the Reformers in variety of ways: playing divide-and-rule <em>vis-à-vis</em> the individual parties that make up the RB, threatening to push Bulgaria towards another general elections, and even floating ideas of a grand coalition with the BSP (naturally, quoting the example of Angela Merkel’s Germany and <a href="http://reuniting-europe.blogactiv.eu/2014/01/03/bulgaria%E2%80%99s-first-seven-years-in-the-eu/#.VDsFHxZAK24">European Union</a> best practice). <br /><br />These moves should be seen in the context of Borisov's cultivation of increasingly cordial <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/bulgaria-says-it-has-frozen-south-stream-pipes-keep-arriving-307893">ties</a> with the MRF leadership, as well as the u-turn performed by Peevski’s media -&nbsp; which until recently portrayed Borisov as an arch-villain but has now rebranded him once more as saviour of the nation. An official unholy alliance between GERB and the MRF would effectively signal the end of any hope for change - and most certainly <a href="http://sofiaglobe.com/2014/10/13/bulgarias-gerb-begins-formal-negotiations-on-coalition-government/">end</a> efforts for a rapprochement with the RB. It is also hard to envisage the Bloc embracing the BWC, reputed to be little more than a façade for the same oligarchic interests (thus echoing ABV and Ataka, distinguished by their unabashed <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/sections/eu-elections-2014/22-bulgarians-want-join-russias-eurasian-union-302163">admiration</a> of Vladimir Putin’s Russia). <br /><br />This leaves the nationalist PF as the sole option GERB and the RB can (just about) agree upon. Yet even that decision would be difficult to digest and - given the radical views the PF holds on fundamental issues such as ethnic minorities and the EU - is bound to raise eyebrows both internally and abroad. <br /><br />The critical question is not who sits in the next government and who stays out. Rather, it is what the government <a href="http://www.novinite.com/articles/164024/Bulgaria%27s+Boyko+Borisov+Facing+Huge+Test+as+%27Political+Animal%27">could</a> and should do to address pressing concerns. Should it, for instance, apply law-prescribed bankruptcy rules to the Corporate Commericial Bank (CCB), Bulgaria’s fourth biggest lender, still <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/24/business/international/political-crisis-puts-future-of-bulgarian-bank-in-doubt.html?_r=0">placed</a> under special supervision by the Central Bank, or ram through a bailout package through parliament to inject public money? Or, what should be done to prop up the ailing energy sector dominated by large state-owned enterprises drowning in debt. CCB, the darling of successive governments, went belly up in the summer as collateral damage in a vicious spat between its <a href="http://reuniting-europe.blogactiv.eu/2014/07/13/vassilev-peevski-ccb-bank-run-oligarchy-in-bulgaria-exposed/#.VDr8phZAK24">principal</a> stakeholder, oligarch Tsvetan Vasilev and Peevski/MRF. The continued postponement of the ultimate decision and the repeated attempts to pass the bill to the taxpayer have wrecked public confidence in banks in general, as well as threatening the stability of the overall system. <br /><br />The energy sector for its part is suffering gross inefficiency, delayed reforms and from sheer political myopia. Behemoth projects ridden by large-scale corruption, such as the <a href="http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/Country-Profiles/Countries-A-F/Bulgaria/">Belene</a> nuclear power-plant, now put on hold, and <a href="http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/bulgaria-says-it-has-frozen-south-stream-pipes-keep-arriving-307893">South Stream</a>, in combination with artificially depressed electricity prices, have conjured the spectre of an imminent collapse of the system with devastating consequences. <br /><br />All that is alarming enough - but it is just the beginning. For Bulgaria badly needs bold steps in critical sectors such as the judiciary, healthcare, education, and the pension system, in order to ensure economic growth and better living standards, reinforce institutions and, over time, <a href="http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/lsee/2014/10/07/experts-react-2014-bulgarian-parliamentary-elections/">restore</a> public trust in politics.&nbsp; <br /><br />The chances that a fractious coalition will deliver on such a dauntingly long list of tasks are slim. Once the horse-trading over the new coalition ends, Bulgaria will get a modicum of stability. Yet many Bulgarians are doubtful about the long-term prospects of both the government and the parliament it is rooted in. They have very good reasons to keep expectations low. </p><p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.lse.ac.uk/europeaninstitute/home.aspx">European Institute, LSE</a></p><p>Vesselin Dimitrov, <a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780203378779/"><em>Bulgaria: The Uneven Transition</em></a> (Routledge, 2013)</p><p><a href="http://www.novinite.com/"><em>Novinite</em></a></p><p><a href="http://sofiaecho.com/"><em>Sofia Echo</em></a></p><p><a href="http://paper.standartnews.com/en/index.php?d=2013-03-14"><em>Standart News</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.cls-sofia.org/en/">Centre for Liberal Strategies</a></p><p><a href="http://www.ecfr.eu/">European Council on Foreign Relations</a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dimitar-bechev/bulgaria-students-to-rescue">Bulgaria: students to the rescue</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/dimitar-bechev/britains-bulgaria-romania-phobia">Britain&#039;s Bulgaria-Romania phobia</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dimitar-bechev/turkey-people-power-tide">Turkey, a people-power tide</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/dimitar-bechev-alex-sakalis-dessislava-hristova-kurzydlowski/bulgaria-leaving-no-">Bulgaria: leaving no man&#039;s land behind for the EU open door</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dimitar-bechev/bulgaria-terror-and-aftershock">Bulgaria, terror and aftershock</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/dimitar-bechev/americanisation-of-turkey">The Americanisation of Turkey</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dimitar-bechev/bulgaria%E2%80%99s-anger-real-source">Bulgaria’s anger, the real source</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/dimitar-bechev/bulgaria%E2%80%99s-elections-change-we-disbelieve-in">Bulgaria’s elections: change we disbelieve in</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Bulgaria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? Bulgaria Civil society Democracy and government International politics democracy & power future of europe Dimitar Bechev Sun, 12 Oct 2014 23:07:48 +0000 Dimitar Bechev 86751 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Brazil's election surprise https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-election-surprise <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>An unexpected result in the first round leaves the presidential election open. It also hints at Brazil's underlying political dynamics.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Brazil's presidential election campaign, already marked by tragedy, continues with high drama after the first-round results on 5 October 2014. The incumbent Dilma Rousseff received the most votes (41.5%). But her main rival was Aécio Neves (33.7%) rather than Marina Silva (21.4%), who had for weeks been competing for first place in the opinion polls. This was a major surprise that has <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/americas/21622767-president-dilma-rousseff-enters-election-day-handsome-lead-battle-second-place-too">turned</a> many political calculations upside down. It remains now to be seen what the run-off on 26 October will bring. </p><p>A major influence in the electoral <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29370759">dynamics</a> was the death of the candidate Eduardo Campos in an aviation accident, which pushed his running-mate Marina Silva into the forefront of the campaign. In retrospect, this stage has for me been a lesson in "the power of the status quo" in Brazil. In a little more than one month, Marina's candidacy was completely destroyed by the two leading parties, the Workers' Party (PT) and the Brazilian Social Democratic Party (PSDB) - especially by Dilma's PT, when polls were <a href="http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/marina-silvas-unlikely-climb-in-brazils-presidential-race/article20129868/">predicting</a> Marina's victory in the second round after Campos's death. The attacks were heavy and <a href="http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/advocates/members/marina-silva.shtml">Marina</a> showed no strength in dealing with them. Instead, she positioned herself as a victim and was unable to give answers to the questions posed by her adversaries. In the end, could not answer important questions: about her more than twenty years with the PT and her current criticism of the party, her ever-changing positions on issues such as abortion and economics, and her inexperience as an administrator.</p><p>In this context, the fashionable idea of a "new politics" revealed an unexpected fragility. Instead, this election turned yet again into a dispute between the PT and PSDB - as had those in 1994, 2002, 2006, and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%E2%80%99s-big-election-dilma-vs-jos%C3%A9">2010</a>. The only recent exception was 1998, when Fernando Henrique Cardoso won in the first round after the constitution had been changed to allow him to serve another term.</p><p>However, the change of mood in the two or three weeks before the 6 October vote was the product not only of the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/04/world/americas/brazil-rainforest-amazon-conservation-election-rousseff-silva.html?_r=0">weakness</a> of Marina's "new politics" but also of the obstinacy of Aécio Neves. Before then, Marina had seemed to be the only person who could defeat Dilma, and because of that she was taking a lot of votes from Aécio himself. There had even been rumours that Aécio would resign his candidacy. But as it became clear that the "new politics" was more shadow than substance - and exposed as such by both the PT and PSDB campaigns - votes trickled back to Aécio Neves. </p><p>In addition, Aécio did very well in the TV <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29473973">debates</a>, against both Dilma and Marina. When the polls measured a growth in Aécio's support, but also that Dilma would defeat Marina in a second round, Aécio seized the moment and projected himself as the figure who could beat Dilma. The question then became whether he would have time to pass Marina and go to the second round. This proved to be the case, in the end with a very impressive 33.7% (and in São Paulo, <a href="http://www.aboutbrasil.com/modules/brazil-brasil/Quick_facts_About_Brasil_Brazil.php?hoofd=9&amp;sub=50&amp;art=534">Brazil's</a> biggest electoral state and a PSDB <a href="http://politica.estadao.com.br/noticias/eleicoes,pmdb-mantem-maior-bancada-no-senado-e-pode-crescer-em-governadores,1571965">stronghold</a>, almost 45% -with 10,152,688 votes against Dilma's 5,927,503).</p><p><strong>A historic choice</strong></p><p>The second round will thus be a classic <a href="http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/surprising-brazil-election-zigging-zagging-25984727">dispute</a> between the PT and PSDB. Aécio seems to have the full support of his party, especially in São Paulo, In the governorship elections in this state, the incumbent Geraldo Alckmin won in the first round - thus, by the end of his four-year term, the PSDB will have ruled the state continuously for twenty-four years. The PT is very worried about São Paulo: its candidate for governor, the former health minister Alexandre Padilha, did very <a href="http://en.mercopress.com/2014/10/06/sao-paulo-state-brazil-s-largest-electoral-district-delivers-solid-win-for-neves-party">badly</a>, even with support from Lula, the former president. </p><p>Aécio's vote is based in the rich states of the Brazil's south and southeast, whereas the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-democracy-vs-poverty">poorer</a> - but also less populous - north and northeast regions are backing Dilma. The president also has solid support in Rio; and she polled well in Aécio's own state of Minas Gerais, with the two candidates almost equal in the first round. </p><p>The PSDB candidate will therefore try to <a href="http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/brazil-election-faces-rousseff-neves-runoff-1.1953402">take</a> votes from Dilma in Minas Gerais, as well as gaining more support in the northeast. There is a lot to play for in the latter: in Eduardo Campos's state of Pernambuco, for example, Marina won with 48% of the votes, against Dilma's 44% and Aécio's 5.9%! In this respect, Marina's <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/candidate-in-brazil-silva-weighs-backing-rival-neves-to-defeat-president-1412707868">indication</a> on 7 October of qualified backing for Aécio in the second round - if he agrees to end re-election (which seems to be a consensus) and to pursue an <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/04/world/americas/brazil-rainforest-amazon-conservation-election-rousseff-silva.html?_r=0">environmental</a> agenda - may help Aécio, especially in the northeast and the big cities. Some analysts had predicted that decision, partly because the PT campaign against her was very hard. In the end, she changed her stance from 2010 when she <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-vote-marina-silva%27s-chance">refused</a> to support the challenger Jos<span class="st"><em>é</em></span> Serra in the second round after herself running against Dilma, and was greatly criticised for it. </p><p>Aécio will also try to use corruption <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/an-oil-scandal-in-brazil-complicates-the-race-for-incumbent-president-on-eve-of-election/2014/10/01/f2df5d90-c279-11e3-b574-f8748871856a_story.html">scandals</a>, especially those within Petrobrás, against Dilma. And he will try to attack the PT and Dilma over economic issues and inefficiencies (such as the allocation of public benefits and infrastructure). With that, he will probably also receive support from conservatives (including evangelicals), who oppose abortion and same-sex marriage. But if he does go to the right - a move that Dilma and the PT will encourage - there is a risk of losing much of Marina's vote. His challenge is to keep the votes of those on both right and left who are tired with the PT. A large portion of the <a href="http://news.yahoo.com/major-parties-lose-ground-brazils-congress-election-174649843.html">electorate</a> already sees the PSDB as a right-wing party, and is also too left-wing for the PT; many in this category voted for Marina and the PSOL's <a href="http://www.eleicoes2014.com.br/luciana-genro/">Luciana Genro</a> in the first round, and will probably opt for Dilma in the second.</p><p>In fact Dilma remains a strong candidate. Her vote may have fallen from previous elections (she received 46.9% in 2010, and her PT predecessor Lula 48.6% in 2006 and 46.4% in 2002) but she has a huge bank of support among the poor and in poor regions. She will <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/07/uk-brazil-election-rousseff-analysis-idUKKCN0HW1SP20141007">emphasise</a> the PT's social programmes in the second round.The president also has improved her campaigning skills, and is in a much better shape as a candidate than in 2010, when she won largely thanks to Lula's huge popularity. </p><p>If the PT succeeds in pushing the PSDB to the right, it will be difficult for Dilma to lose. For its part, the PSDB will try to form a major alliance against a PT that has been in power for twelve years. If <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-29509998">Aécio</a> can evade the trap and form a strong alliance against Dilma, he may win. Aécio is in a good moment; he has political capital. Yet the PSDB's recent history is still against him: Serra won 32.61% in the first round in 2010, Alckmin 41.64% in 2006, Serra 23.19% in 2002. Neither became president; not since 1998, and <a href="http://www.ifhc.org.br/en/fhc/vida/">Fernando Henrique Cardoso</a>, has the PSDB climbed above 50% of the vote. </p><p><strong>A deeper lesson</strong></p><p>Either way, there are two important signs about the Brazilian political system coming out from this election<strong>. </strong>The first is the power of the status quo. A little more than a year after the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-crisis-of-representation">protests</a> in 2013, these results show the amazing resilience and power of political institutions and traditional parties - as well as older political thinking. In a sense this is a very good sign for Brazilian democracy. Despite all the complaints about them, the major political parties still rule Brazil's democratic regime. It seems that Brazil has reached the point where democratic dynamics are <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-in-2013-historic-adventure">both</a> criticised and loved.</p><p>Second, the first-round results consolidated the idea of a "long social-democratic period" that started in 1994 with the election of Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the PSDB. Differences between the PSDB and the current PT exist, but they are ones of detail, not radical or systemic. The PSDB is a little less statist, the PT a little more. In the real world beyond the campaign, there are no big differences in policy over economic management and social programmes. </p><p>This is what some are calling the long social-democratic period. It is very stable and positive for the country. The idea is: if Aécio wins, there will be no big change. This is also the sense of an <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arthur-ituassu/brazil-after-lula-left-vs-left">article</a> I wrote on openDemocracy in 2010, of a "left vs left" choice in Brazil. I think this is still the case after the results of this first round. The PSDB is centre-left a little more to the right; the PT is centre-left, a little more to the left. There will be more continuity than change under the next government.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Arthur Ituassu &amp; Rodrigo de Almeida eds., <a href="http://www.zahar.com.br/catalogo_detalhe.asp?id=1174"><em><span><span>O Brasil tem jeito?</span></span></em></a> (Jorge Zahar, 2006)</p> <p>Thomas E Skidmore, <a href="http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryWorld/LatinAmerican/?view=usa&amp;ci=9780195063165"><em><span><span>The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-1985</span></span></em></a> (Oxford University Press, 1990)</p> <div><a href="http://www.brazilpoliticalcomment.com.br/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/lang,en/"><span><span>Brazil Political and Business Comment</span></span></a></div> <p><a href="http://www.brazil.ox.ac.uk/"><span><span>Centre for Brazilian Studies, University of Oxford</span></span></a></p> <p>Leslie Bethell, <a href="http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=9780521395243&amp;ss=fro"><em><span><span>Cambridge History of Latin Ameria - Vol 9, Brazil since 1930</span></span></em></a> (Cambridge University Press, 2008)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil%27s-vote-marina-silva%27s-chance">Brazil&#039;s vote, Marina Silva&#039;s chance</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-protest-and-world-cup">Brazil, protest and the World Cup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/dilma-rousseff-and-brazil-signs-of-change">Dilma Rousseff and Brazil: signs of change</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-in-2013-historic-adventure">Brazil in 2013: a historic adventure</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/incredible-dilma-rousseff">The incredible Dilma Rousseff</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-womans-work-vs-mens-mess">Brazil: woman&#039;s work vs men&#039;s mess</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-crisis-of-representation">Brazil, a crisis of representation</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazilian-politics-s%C3%A3o-paulo-microcosm">Brazilian politics: the São Paulo microcosm</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-after-lula-left-vs-left">Brazil after Lula: left vs left</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/brazil-democracy-as-balance">Brazil: democracy as balance</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Brazil </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Brazil Democracy and government International politics latin america democracy & power Globalisation Arthur Ituassu Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:01:23 +0000 Arthur Ituassu 86612 at https://www.opendemocracy.net "Rwanda: The Untold Story": questions for the BBC https://www.opendemocracy.net/andrew-wallis/rwanda-untold-story-questions-for-bbc <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A deeply flawed BBC documentary on Rwanda's genocide raises serious questions over the corporation's ethics and standards.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>"<em>There is no reasonable basis for anyone to dispute that, during 1994, there was a campaign of mass killing intended to destroy, in whole or at least in very large part, Rwanda’s Tutsi population… That campaign was, to a terrible degree, successful; although exact numbers may never be known, the great majority of Tutsis were murdered, and many others were raped or otherwise harmed.</em>" [<a href="http://www.unictr.org/Portals/0/Case%5CEnglish%5CNzirorera%5Cdecision%5C160606.pdf">International Criminal Court for Rwanda</a>, 16 June 2006]<br /><br />It is not often a documentary comes along that totally reattributes the historical reality of a genocide in a mere one hour. Indeed the BBC programme <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04kk03t"><em>Rwanda: the Untold Story</em></a>, broadcast at prime-time on 1 October 2014, managed this in a record ten-minute section of its airtime. Twenty years of scholarly research by academics such as <a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/the-rwanda-crisis-1959-1994/">Gérard Prunier</a>, <a href="http://www.lindamelvern.com/index.php/books/conspiracy-to-murder">Linda Melvern</a>, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/7027.html">Mahmood Mamdani</a>, <a href="http://www.transactionpub.com/title/The-Path-of-a-Genocide-978-1-56000-382-3.html">Howard Adelman</a>, <a href="http://www.karthala.com/hommes-et-societes-sciences-economiques-et-politiques/2791-politiques-militaires-et-mercenaires-francais-au-rwanda-9782811111250.html">Jean-François Dupaquier</a>, <a href="http://www.cemaf.cnrs.fr/spip.php?article771">Jean-Pierre Chrétien</a> and <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745326269&amp;">Allan Thompson</a> (to name just a few) was pushed aside. <br /><br />Thousands of witness interviews for the <a href="http://www.unictr.org/">International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda</a> (ICTR), archived documents and judgements were made equally redundant. So were many official reports by the United Nations Security Council in <a href="http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=S/1994/565">1994</a> and <a href="http://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/POC%20S19991257.pdf">1999</a>; the <a href="http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d1da8752.html">African Union</a>; and human-rights groups - especially the landmark work by Alison des Forges at <a href="http://www.hrw.org/des-forges-tribute">Human Rights Watch</a> and <a href="http://fivebooks.com/recommended/rwanda-death-despair-and-defiance-by-rakiya-omar">Rakiya Omar</a> at African Rights.<br /><br />Instead, the BBC entrusted the exposure of the "true" story of the genocide to two American academics, Allan Stam and Christian Davenport, who had travelled to Rwanda in 1998 and <a href="http://www.psmag.com/navigation/politics-and-law/what-really-happened-in-rwanda-3432/">found</a> everyone they spoke to telling the same story about the genocide. This, they decided, was not because people were recounting what had actually happened but because they had been brainwashed or frightened into a massive cover-up.<br /><br />Standing in front of a scientific-looking multi-coloured "results" map of Rwanda, they flashed up impressively scientific-looking statistics of troop movements across Rwanda in 1994 to prove their point. In essence, they alleged that instead of 800,000 Tutsi deaths there were only around 200,000. Even more incredibly, they proposed at least 800,000 Hutus had been killed at the hands of the Rwandese Patriotic Front (<a href="http://www.gov.rw/THE-RWANDESE-PATRIOTIC-FRONT-RPF">RPF</a>), as they pushed the genocidal Rwandan army and Hutu militias from the country. The accepted death-toll figures by researchers such as <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/g%C3%A9rard-prunier">Gérard Prunier</a>, <a href="http://alisondesforges.org/Home.html">Alison des Forges</a> and <a href="https://www.uantwerpen.be/en/staff/marijke-verpoorten/my-website/">Marijke Verpooten</a>’s forensic <a href="https://feb.kuleuven.be/public/ndaag37/PHDp5_155.PDF">examination</a> in 2005 are simply dismissed. As indeed are all legal judgments from the ICTR where hundreds of investigators, scholars and acute legal minds have worked for two decades.<br /><br />Edward Herman and David Peterson were to use the "results" in their book <a href="http://monthlyreview.org/books/pb2129/"><em>The Politics of Genocide</em></a>, published in 2010. It was swiftly <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/martin-shaw/politics-of-genocide-rwanda-and-dr-congo">discredited</a> by scholars who ridiculed both the methodology of the research and its suspected underlying motivation. For example, Gerry Caplan, author of the African Union report <a href="http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d1da8752.html"><em>Rwanda: the preventable genocide</em></a>, criticised Herman and Peterson as being part of an ideologically driven core of genocide-deniers, genocide-revisers and opponents of the current Rwandan government. The main aim of this small group, Caplan <a href="http://www.pambazuka.net/en/category/features/65265">argued</a>, was to shift the blame for the tragedy to their <em>bête noir</em> Paul Kagame, the current Rwandan leader, who has become for them (and some western media) a figure of intense, almost pathological, dislike. The BBC film certainly reflects this view.<br /><br />The constant thread throughout the hour-long film was the desire to denigrate Kagame, through a cast-list of eight long-time enemies of the Rwandan leader. There was no balancing view, no attempt to analyse in depth or understand the history that brought Rwanda to the events of 1994. Instead viewers were treated to crushing tabloid accusations, pithy soundbites from the selected group of carefully chosen interviewees, sly insinuations and slo-mo shots of the Rwandan leader looking suitably diabolical. There was no new "untold" evidence to back up claims. Here was a chance for the highly complex, emotionally-charged Rwandan story to be considered on prime-time television. Instead it was reduced to a good vs evil parody that left anyone with knowledge of the country and its history, who surely included many genocide survivors in Europe, with a feeling of frank disbelief and anger. <br /><br /><strong>What's untold</strong><br /><br />The event many see as the trigger for the genocide is the shooting down of the plane of President Juv<span class="st"><em>é</em></span>nal Habyarimana on 6 April 1994. The film's cursory "explanation" for what happened was based on the claim by a single RPF defector, now in France, that he <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15165641">heard</a> Kagame order the destruction of the plane. The programme also cited the report by French judge Jean-Louis Bruguière, published in 2006. This report has long since been <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/andrew-wallis/france-and-rwandas-genocide-long-wait">derided</a> for relying on half a dozen Rwandan defectors, many of whom swiftly went public to <a href="http://en.calameo.com/read/0000063654c767629523b">say</a> that their statements had been corrupted to meet Bruguière's requirements, and that they had been promised French visas should they comply with his wishes. Wikileaks subsequently <a href="http://www.afroamerica.net/AfricaGL/2010/12/01/wikileaks-documents-bruguiere-consulted-with-us-government-to-indict-paul-kagame-and-his-associates-for-terrorism/">showed</a> Bruguière’s none-too-subtle political agenda. The judge is currently under investigation for perjury, withholding evidence and obstruction of justice in other cases he handled.</p><p>Unsurprisingly, there is no mention of the more recent independent and meticulous <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-16472013">report </a>in 2012 by the investigating judge Marc Trévidic that <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/andrew-wallis/rwanda-step-towards-truth">showed</a> clearly the missiles were fired from an area controlled by extremist Hutu units of the presidential guard; nor of research in 2008 by the UK’s Cranfield University that came to the same <a href="http://mutsinzireport.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/DASSR_Report_FINAL_inc_Analysis_130309%5B1%5D.pdf">conclusion</a>. Instead another academic is extensively cited: the Belgian professor and vociferous opponent of Kagame, <a href="https://strausscenter.org/constitutional-design-team/item/273-filip-reyntjens">Filip Reyntjens</a>. Again, no mention of the fact that he was a long-term advisor to Habyarimana and has not been in Rwanda for twenty years. All this is a mockery of supposed investigative journalism.<br /><br />The two main beneficiaries of the film are high-profile RPF defectors: Theogene Rudasingwa and General Kayumba Nyamwasa. Their views are unchallenged and taken, in effect, as gospel. No attempt is made to explore their own backgrounds and current political ambitions. Nyamwasa was <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-29148611">head</a> of Rwanda's army after the genocide, and was accused both of trying to build a separate power-base within the military and of involvement in a series of corruption scams and illegal land-grabs while in office. Rudasingwa was said to be implicated in a lucrative financial scam while employed in the office of the president. Rwanda’s zero tolerance of corruption, as <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-10726324">witnessed</a> by <a href="http://www.insightonconflict.org/conflicts/rwanda/peacebuilding-organisations/ti-r/">Transparency International</a>, makes it unsurprising that both fled the country rather than face the charges against them. The two men, along with two other defectors (<a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/01/rwandan-ex-spy-chief-found-dead-s-africa-20141245640754221.html">Patrick Karegeya</a> and Gerald Gahima), <a href="http://rwandatekaiteka.over-blog.com/article-declaration-on-rwanda-by-gerald-gahima-general-kayumba-nyamwasa-colonel-patrick-karegeya-dr-theogene-rudasingwa-56727400.html">founded</a> an opposition party in exile, the Rwanda National Congress [RNC], in 2010 aimed at unseating <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/08/magazine/paul-kagame-rwanda.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">Kagame</a>. <br /><br />Nyamwasa’s RNC is alleged to be allied to the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda [FDLR] in the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/andrew-wallis/dr-congo-politics-of-suffering">borderlands</a> of eastern DRC and Rwanda. The FDLR is made up of many <em>genocidaire</em> who fled to the region after the RPF pushed them from Rwanda, and has become synonymous with <a href="http://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=10371&amp;LangID=E">terrorising</a> the local population over the past fifteen years, including the mass rape and murder of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. Its leader Sylvestre Mudacumura is <a href="http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/situations%20and%20cases/situations/situation%20icc%200104/related%20cases/icc01040112/Pages/icc01040112.aspx">wanted</a> at the ICC for gross human-rights violations. FDLR atrocities inside Rwanda in recent years have left scores dead and injured from grenade attacks, with the RNC implicated in assisting funding and supply of arms to the group. Both Nyamwasa and Rudasingwa were sentenced in their absence by Rwandan courts - in Nyamwasa’s case not to life imprisonment (as the film affirms) but to twenty-four years for corruption, misuse of office, and threatening state security. Rudasingwa was given the same sentence <em>in absentia</em>.<br /><br />The film features numerous such factual inaccuracies, misleading generalisations and omissions. There is no mention of the genocidal pogroms that caused hundred of thousands of Tutsis to flee between 1959 and 1972-73; nor of the fact that the RPF chose a military path back into Rwanda in 1990 precisely because Habyarimana had consistently blocked the peaceful return of the refugees to their homeland; nor of the genocidal massacres of thousands of Tutsis in 1990-93 by Habyarimana’s army and militia. The two terrible <a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/from-genocide-to-continental-war/">Congolese wars</a> (1996-97, 1998-2003) are explained in a few short sentences though the motivation of the belligerents involved the highly complex interplay of six countries and dozens of militias, and originated in the border camps that were filled with genocidaire as well as innocent Hutu refugees. Both <a href="http://www.archive.org/stream/LetterDated1November1996FromTheSecretary-generalAddressedToThe/UnPage2_djvu.txt">United Nations</a> and <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/AFR02/014/1995/en/156bbecb-eb4b-11dd-8c1f-275b8445d07d/afr020141995en.html">Amnesty International </a>reports have testified that these camps had become a launchpad for a planned re-invasion by the genocidal interim government and its forces.<br /><br /><strong>What next?</strong><br /><br />The ethics of the BBC programme makers are extremely questionable. There was no evident attempt to talk to Tutsi survivors or survivor groups. The Rwandan organiser who assisted the film crew in practical arrangements was told it was purely a film about the twentieth commemoration; months afterwards he was called suddenly by the BBC producer, told the film was highly controversial, his life could be in danger, and that he should flee. The very serious implication is that the documentary makers were prepared to put his life, and that of his wife and children, in danger, without ever mentioning this to him until too late. <br /><br />The site <a href="http://cny.org/stories/To-Forgive-Rwanda-Two-Decades-After-the-Genocide,10219">director</a> of the genocide memorial at <a href="http://www.aegistrust.org/index.php/Aegis-Rwanda/genocide-memorial-opens-at-murambi-rwanda.html">Murambi</a>, Gaspard Mukwiye - who tends the place and the memories of its 50,000 Tutsi victims, and is himself a Tutsi survivor - was also persuaded into taking part in a film that effectively denied his acute suffering and personal loss, still vividly etched on his face. It should be noted the "repressive" regime the film portrayed gave the BBC complete open access to its media archives and to film wherever and whatever it wanted. <br /><br />The BBC has since 2006 many times <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/editorialguidelines/page/guidelines-editorial-values-charter/">reaffirmed</a> its editorial guidelines, including that "we should do all we can to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality in all relevant output." Viewers can make up their own minds how accurate and impartial this programme is and wonder if other genocides are next on the BBC revisionist menu, subsumed under its current obsession to "break news" and controversies. That is the best-case interpretation. It can only be hoped the corporation is not home to senior executives who actively hold malevolent views of genocide denial which they are misusing public money and privilege to promote. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.unictr.org/">International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda</a> (ICTR)</p><p>Gérard Prunier,<a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=90"><em><span><span> The Rwanda Crisis, 1954-94: History of a Genocide</span></span></em></a> (C Hurst, 2nd edition, 1998)</p><p><a href="http://statecrime.org/%20"><span><span>Statecrime</span></span></a></p><p>Gerald Caplan, "<a href="http://www.pambazuka.org/en/category/features/65265">The politics of denialism: the strange case of Rwanda</a>" (<em>Pambazuka News</em>, 17 June 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.massviolence.org/">Encyclopedia of Mass Violence </a></p><p><a href="http://www.inogs.com/">International Network of Genocide Scholars</a> (INOGS)</p><p><a href="http://kigaliwire.com/">Kigali Wire</a></p><p><a href="http://impunitywatch.com/">Impunity Watch</a></p> <p>Andrew Wallis, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Humanities/History/Regional%20%20national%20history/African%20history/Silent%20Accomplice%20The%20Untold%20Story%20of%20Frances%20Role%20in%20the%20Rwandan%20Genocide.aspx?menuitem=FA55535F-8963-48F7-8AF8-E2C09472664C"><em><span><span>Silent Accomplice: The Untold Story of the Role of France in the Rwandan genocide</span></span></em></a> (IB Tauris, 2006)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/andrew-wallis/rwanda-step-towards-truth">Rwanda: a step towards truth</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/andrew-wallis/france-and-rwandas-genocide-long-wait">France and Rwanda&#039;s genocide: a long wait</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/andrew-wallis/genocide-and-justice-where-now">Genocide and justice: where now?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-africa_democracy/rwanda_france_4183.jsp">Rwandan rifts in La Francafrique</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/andrew-wallis/dr-congo-beyond-crisis-cycle">DR Congo: beyond the crisis-cycle</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/andrew-wallis/dr-congo-politics-of-suffering">DR Congo: the politics of suffering </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Rwanda </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Rwanda Conflict Democracy and government International politics africa democracy & power human rights Andrew Wallis Mon, 06 Oct 2014 13:34:37 +0000 Andrew Wallis 86566 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Turkey and the Islamic State crisis: everyone's non-ally? https://www.opendemocracy.net/bill-park/turkey-and-islamic-state-crisis-everyone%27s-nonally <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The military success of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq intensifies questions over Turkey's strategy and decisions. What Ankara does next will help to resolve them.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Turkey's parliament, the grand national assembly, voted on 2 October 2014 to extend for a further year pre-existing parliamentary permission for the government to send troops into Iraq or Syria in pursuit of "terrorist organisations". The Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) is specifically mentioned in the resolution, while the Islamic State (IS) is not. The resolution also envisages permission for allied forces to be granted access to Turkish territory. Washington has welcomed the vote, and in coming days will discuss with Ankara precisely what contribution Turkey might now <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/turkey-and-islamic-state%E2%80%9D">make</a> to the anti-IS campaign. <br /><br />The vote comes in the wake of Turkey’s decision in September not to join the ten Arab countries who, at a meeting in Jeddah, <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/11/us-iraq-crisis-kerry-idUSKBN0H50MA20140911">committed</a> themselves to the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. It also takes place against a more general background of frustration at Turkey’s inaction <em>vis-à-vis</em> IS. Ankara had cited, as a reason for its caution, the fact that forty-nine Turkish <a href="http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2014/09/21/islamic_state_turkey_hostage">hostages</a> were being held by IS since the group's capture of Mosul during its rapid offensive in June. The release of the hostages on 20 September removed at least this factor from the equation.&nbsp; <br /><br />In theory, then, Turkey should now be freer to act. But the <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29163361">signals</a> are mixed. Both the president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the chief of Turkey's general staff, Necdet Özel, have strongly hinted that force will be used should there be any threat to the <a href="http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/10/141003-suleyman-tomb-ottoman-osman-turkey-syria-isis/">tomb</a> of Suleyman Shah or to the handful of Turkish soldiers guarding it: although located around thirty kilometres inside Syria, this historic site is regarded as sovereign Turkish territory. By contrast, Turkey's defence minister Ismet Yilmaz has warned against expecting any imminent military action. <br /><br /><strong>Turkey and Syria: policy, or sloppy process?</strong><br /><br />Turkey’s <a href="http://www.merip.org/mero/mero012813">approach</a> to the crises generated by IS advances in Iraq and Syria has been puzzling, and shrouded in a troubling murkiness. Many argue that Turkey has turned a blind eye to the activities of <em>jihadist</em> groups on its border with Syria, though inside Ankara’s governing circles the notion is vigorously rejected (when United States vice-president Joseph Biden reported Erdogan's admission that Turkey had been too lax in allowing Syria’s <em>jihadist</em> fighters to cross the Turkey-Syria border, the president demanded, and <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/05/world/europe/turkish-leader-demands-biden-apology.html">received</a>, an apology.)&nbsp; <br /><br />A case can be made that Turkey, along with some Gulf states who have provided much funding to Syria’s <em>jihadist</em> opposition, <a href="http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/islamic-state-jihadist-activity-in-northern-syria-forces-turkey-hand-a-994392.html">shares</a> responsibility for their emergence as the most formidable opponents to the Assad regime. It is an open secret, and has been much reported, that Turkish territory has been used by some of the more extreme opposition groups for <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-25274886">recruitment</a>, training, fundraising and medical care. Supplies, recruits, oil from fields captured by IS fighters, and even arms have been smuggled across the border with little hindrance, at least until very recently. Turkish intelligence units transporting arms to Syria have even been intercepted by the Turkish police - only for the police chiefs initiating the operations to suffer demotion. Moreover, Turkey protested when in late 2012 the US <a href="http://www.todayszaman.com/news-350656-turkey-re-designates-al-nusra-in-revised-terror-list.html">designated</a> the Al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate from which IS later splintered, as a terrorist group. <br /><br />Ankara has answered accusations of indifference to if not complicity with <em>jihadist</em> groups by quite reasonably pointing to the porous nature of its long (over 800 kilometres) <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22798391">border</a> with Syria, and to the need to keep the massive flow of humanitarian aid moving. Turkey is also not the only source of assistance to anti-Assad groups; the US itself is believed to have smuggled arms into Syria. <br /><br />But the US secretary of state John Kerry’s <a href="http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/sloppy-process-of-ousting-assad-led-to-isils-rise-kerry-says.aspx?pageID=517&amp;nID=72151&amp;NewsCatID=359">characterisation</a> of Turkey’s efforts as a "sloppy process" seems about right. In its prioritisation of Assad’s overthrow, Turkey has been indifferent to the destination of weapons and other material, and to the affiliation of fighters. It has been happy to strengthen whoever has opposed Assad, on the principle of "the enemy of my enemy is my friend". Turkey has also disapproved of western aid to the Syrian <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24403003">opposition</a> precisely because of the west's increasing concern at its fragmentation and factionalism, and at the growing profile and effectiveness of its <em>jihadist</em> elements. (It is worth pointing out here that Washington’s current determination to build an effective "moderate" force from what is still a disparate and mostly far from moderate pool of candidates, to give Riyadh the job of training them, and to hope that a hitherto elusive firewall can be established <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/security/2014/05/syria-search-moderate-opposition-force-jihadists.html">between</a> Syria’s "moderate" and its <em>jihadist</em> opposition, will surely prove a fraught exercise.)<br /><br /><strong>It's the Kurds, stupid</strong><br /><br />Kurds on both sides of the Turkey-Syria border are unimpressed by Ankara’s explanations. They note that Turkey tried to seal a part of its border with Syria in November 2013, by <a href="http://english.alarabiya.net/en/perspective/photo-gallery/2013/11/08/Kurds-protest-on-Syrian-Turkish-border.html">erecting </a>a two-metre-high fence to divide Turkey’s Kurds from their ethnic cousins in Qamishli - an act which provoked Kurdish demonstrations on both sides of the border. Turkey's interior ministry justified the construction as a security measure aimed at preventing smuggling and illegal crossings, yet it has not taken similar steps in those border areas criss-crossed by <em>jihadist</em> groups. <br /><br />Turkey's <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/bill-park/turkey-kurds-iraq-syria-new-regional-dynamic">stance</a> towards the leading Kurdish armed group in Syria has also caused disquiet. The People’s Defence Units (or YPG), the fighting arm of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (or PYD), have been fighting against Syria’s jihadists since early 2013, and with considerable success. The PYD leader Salih Muslim has <a href="http://www.kurdpress.ir/En/NSite/FullStory/News/?Id=8523#Title=%0A%09%09%09%09%09%09%09%09Salih%20Muslim%20visits%20Turkey%0A%09%09%09%09%09%09%09">visited</a> Ankara frequently in an attempt to persuade Turkey to switch allegiances. Ankara’s position has been that Syria’s Kurds must first join the Ankara-sponsored Syrian National Council (SNC) and Free Syrian Army (FSA). Muslim has declined to do so, thereby confirming in Ankara’s eyes that his sympathies lie with the Assad regime. However, the SNC has refused to embrace Kurdish demands, and has proved to be ineffective, divided and corrupt - hence the absence of western enthusiasm for it. Unsurprisingly perhaps, the PYD has concluded that Ankara has been more <a href="http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/turkey-must-tread-carefully-against-islamic-state#axzz3FKQ9csWk">determined</a> to undermine the Kurds than it has been to defeat the <em>jihadists</em> - that, indeed, it has strengthened the latter in order to achieve the former. <br /><br />At the time of writing, the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobane, right up against Turkey’s border, is under <a href="http://rudaw.net/english/middleeast/051020141">attack</a> from three sides by Islamic State fighters, and looks set to fall. If it does, IS will control yet another section of the border with Turkey. The battle has prompted over 150,000 mainly Kurdish inhabitants to <a href="http://www.dw.de/iraq-kurds-fight-islamic-state-at-key-syria-border-crossing/a-17966366">flee</a> across the border into Turkey. <br /><br />Overall, Turkey has shown impressive generosity towards Syrian refugees. But this sudden flood was initially obstructed by Turkish security forces, who have also since sought to prevent Kurds already in Turkey from re-crossing into Syria to reinforce Kobane’s defence. Turkish forces on the border have been substantially augmented but are doing nothing, in what looks like a re-enactment of the Soviet indifference to the fate of the Warsaw uprising at the hands of Nazi Germany’s troops. Abdullah Ocalan, the imprisoned leader of the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), with which the PYD is affiliated, has <a href="http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/is-massacre-would-end-turkey-kurds-peace/story-fni0xqll-1227078240264?nk=0d7508821108659b6dea58c4a1e46b80">declared</a> that the fall of Kobane will herald the end of Turkey’s Kurdish peace <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/bill-park/turkey%E2%80%99s-kurdish-policy-sleepwalking-to-crisis">process</a>. Unlike the fate of Turkey’s forty-nine hostages, this threat does not appear to have modified the government’s behaviour. President Erdogan has chosen this moment to declare that he makes no distinction between the PKK and IS as both are terrorist groups, while prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu has again blamed the PYD’s refusal to align with the anti-Kurdish SNC for the plight of Syria’s Kurds.<br /><br />It is hard to avoid the conclusion that of three possible objectives in Syria, Ankara puts the <a href="http://www.turkishweekly.net/news/173099/ankara-urges-pyd-leader-to-join-ranks-of-free-syrian-army-against-al-assad.html">fall</a> of Assad and the defeat of Kurdish aspirations <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/turkey-and-islamic-state%E2%80%9D">above</a> that of the destruction of the Islamic State. So what contribution to the fight against the IS can Washington now, after the parliamentary <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/03/world/europe/turkey-votes-to-allow-operations-against-isis.html?_r=0">decision</a> of 2 October, expect from Ankara? <br /><br />There have already been hints that it might not <a href="http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/10/02/uk-mideast-crisis-idUKKCN0HQ3S120141002">extend</a> beyond humanitarian, logistical and intelligence measures. Ankara has long called for the establishment of a no-fly zone in northern Syria, although Syrian aircraft rarely venture too far north (even less so in light of the US bombing campaign in the country.) It has also <a href="http://www.todayszaman.com/_turkey-urges-humanitarian-corridor-in-syria-to-end-refugee-influx_313684.html">called</a> for the establishment of a "humanitarian corridor" on the Syrian side of the border, where refugees can be safely housed and humanitarian assistance delivered. <br /><br />Syria’s Kurds oppose the corridor idea because they suspect that Turkish forces might use it to weaken the YPG and undermine the autonomous Syrian Kurdish cantons that have been established. In any case, IS forces would need to be cleared from the area. And it is hard to see what use such a corridor would be for the roughly one million Syrian <a href="http://data.unhcr.org/syrianrefugees/regional.php">refugees</a> in Turkey that are not confined to camps. Damasacus, supported by Tehran, has declared that the presence of Turkish forces on Syrian territory would be regarded as "an act of aggression". There is unlikely to be a United Nations Security Council resolution that legitimises such a corridor, and in any case none of Turkey’s allies are yet <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/turkey-united-states-syria-coalition-isis-military-action.html">prepared</a> to put "boots on the ground". <br /><br />Will Turkey be prepared to fill this gap, in the face of Syrian and Iranian hostility, perhaps alongside moderate Saudi-trained (and Turkey-trained?) opposition forces? If not, then that leaves possible US access to the Incirlik airbase, and a possible Turkish contribution to a bombing campaign that is already running out of targets and is unlikely by itself to rid Syria of extreme <em>jihadist</em> elements. Or might Turkey use its involvement to focus instead on degrading Syrian government capabilities? <br /><br /><strong>Avoiding two neighbouring quagmires?</strong><br /><br />What Turkey and Washington’s Arab allies most want is Assad’s overthrow. This is what Ankara means when it refers to the need for a longer-term political solution. This has a sectarian tinge to it, or at any rate will be seen as such by Damascus and Tehran. The US would also like to see Assad’s demise, but that is not the reason behind its Syrian air campaign. These different priorities will be hard to marry up politically, but operationally hard to separate. A quagmire beckons, which is what President Obama has suspected all along. Turkey’s parliamentary vote also gives a green light to Turkish involvement in Iraq. <br /><br />However, a different kind of quagmire beckons there. Washington’s campaign, backed this time by its western rather than its Arab allies (and, uncomfortably, by Iran), is in support of the ground forces of the Kurdish <em>peshmerga</em>, the Iraqi armed forces, and <em>Shi'a</em> militias. The hope is that Iraq’s <em>Sunni</em> tribes will <a href="https://news.yahoo.com/islamic-state-fighters-iraq-beat-back-armed-forces-134148037.html">join</a> the fight in the guise of yet-to-be-formed "National Guard" units. Its success hinges on four factors: the speed with which the Iraqi armed forces can be made both effective and non-sectarian, Baghdad’s willingness to allow the delivery of heavy arms to the peshmerga, the <em>Shi'a</em> militias’ restraint in <em>Sunni </em>areas, and the <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/iraq-shiite-leader-calls-new-government-criticises-past-mistakes-1075798771">formation</a> of an effective government in Baghdad. There are grounds for pessimism on all four counts. Disentangling Islamic State forces from the <em>Sunni </em>communities within which they are embedded, and liberating populations centres such Mosul and Tikrit, will not be easy.<br /><br />The Kurdistan Regional Government (<a href="http://www.krg.org/p/page.aspx?l=12&amp;s=030000&amp;r=314&amp;p=390&amp;h=1">KRG</a>) is bitterly disappointed that Turkey, its "strategic ally", did not come to its rescue when Erbil was threatened by IS forces. Nor has Turkey joined the allied bombing campaign in Iraq. Like Washington, Erbil was and is expecting more from Turkey. So were Iraq’s <a href="http://unpo.org/members/7878">Turkmen</a>, who instead were obliged either to rely on the Kurds to rescue them from the Islamic State’s barbarous <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/10/02/241947_un-report-recounts-tales-of-islamic.html?rh=1">excesses</a> against them, or else to flee south to <em>Shi'a</em> Iraq. In contrast, Tehran stepped into the breach with arms and ground forces to assist both the Kurds and Iraq’s <em>Shi'a</em>. <br /><br />Turkey, though, remains the export route for the KRG’s oil, and trade will surely pick up again if and when the current crisis passes. The KRG cannot avoid a degree of dependence on Turkey, but it has surely been taught a lesson about the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/bill-park/turkey%E2%80%99s-kurdish-policy-sleepwalking-to-crisis">limits</a> of the relationship. The KRG had been heralded by some as the only neighbour with which Turkey had achieved "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/ivan-krastev/arab-revolutions-turkey%E2%80%99s-dilemmas-zero-chance-for-zero-problems">zero problems</a>". This might no longer be the case. The immediate threat to Erbil has passed, and it is hard to see what Turkey can now bring to the table in <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300187267">Iraq</a>. At least the previous prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki has been removed, but Ankara will not lightly join what it still sees - not entirely without reason - as an essentially <em>Shi'a</em> struggle against marginalised <em>Sunni</em> Arab communities. Perhaps in due course Ankara can train <em>Sunni</em> Arab guardsmen - although any such involvement might well be interpreted in a sectarian light by both Baghdad and Tehran. Perhaps it will belatedly join the western bombing campaign?&nbsp; <br /><br /><strong>To be, or not to be, an ally: that is the question</strong><br /><br />In its commentary on Ankara’s refusal to sign the Jeddah agreement in mid-September, the <em>Wall Street Journal</em> caused quite a commotion by <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/our-non-ally-in-ankara-1410561462">referring</a> to Turkey as a "non-ally". Both before and since, Turkey has done a lot to give credence to that assessment. It now has the opportunity to put things right. But this Turkish government’s capacity for self-damage should not be underestimated. It is arguably the country best placed to make a difference, but is in grave danger of emerging as everyone’s "non-ally". The risks are not only to Turkey’s diplomatic relationships, but also to its domestic harmony. Yet there are remarkably few indications that Ankara is yet aware of the gravity of its predicament. Hopefully, the next few days might prove that assessment wrong. <br /><br /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Bill Park, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415443715/"><em>Modern <em>Turkey</em>: People, State and Foreign Policy in a Globalized World</em></a> (Routledge, 2011)</span></p><p><span class="st">Patrick Cockburn, </span><span class="st"><a href="http://www.orbooks.com/catalog/jihadis-return/"><em>The Jihadis Return: ISIS and the New Sunni Uprising</em></a> (OR books, 2014)<br /></span></p><p>Gareth Jenkins <em><a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=270977">Political Islam in Turkey: Running West, Heading East?</a></em> (Palgrave, 2008) </p><p>Kerem Oktem<em><em>, </em><a href="http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book.asp?bookdetail=4372">Angry Nation: Turkey since 1989</a></em> (Zed Books, 2010)</p><p>Zaid Al-Ali<em>, </em><a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/book.asp?isbn=9780300187267"><em>The Struggle for Iraq's Future How Corruption, Incompetence and Sectarianism Have Undermined Democracy</em></a> (Yale University Press, 2014)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bill-park/turkey-kurds-iraq-syria-new-regional-dynamic">Turkey, Kurds, Iraq, Syria: a new regional dynamic</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/bill-park/mosul-maliki-and-isis-view-today-from-erbil">Mosul, Maliki and ISIS: the view today from Erbil</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bill-park/turkeys-struggle-erdo%C4%9F-vs-g%C3%BClen">Turkey&#039;s struggle: Erdoğan vs Gülen</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bill-park/turkey%E2%80%99s-kurdish-policy-sleepwalking-to-crisis">Turkey’s Kurdish policy: sleepwalking to crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/ergenekon-power-and-democracy-in-turkey-0">Ergenekon: power and democracy in Turkey </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/bill-park/turkey-vibrant-democracy-vs-majority-rule">Turkey: vibrant democracy vs majority rule</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/bill-park/turkey-and-ergenekon-from-farce-to-tragedy">Turkey and Ergenekon: from farce to tragedy </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/article/ergenekon-turkeys-military-political-contest">Ergenekon: Turkey&#039;s military-political contest</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/turkey-and-islamic-state%E2%80%9D">Turkey and the &quot;Islamic State”</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Arab Awakening Syria Iraq Turkey Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east democracy & power the future of turkey Bill Park Sun, 05 Oct 2014 23:29:01 +0000 Bill Park 86534 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Hong Kong: the stakes are high https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/jonathan-fenby/hong-kong-stakes-are-high <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Beijing knows that the struggle for democracy in Hong Kong is not just about the future of the former British colony: the party monopoly on the mainland is ultimately at issue.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/_yiNHpiIrluk3QWFr0rjkduUe8ip4hf_XWbmy0h4XR0/mtime:1412285761/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/hk%20protest.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/pc3LKt72ul0FZrGzaSjAsXG46GSam48U7LHpZ10Kuwg/mtime:1412285317/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/hk%20protest.jpg" alt="Messages at pro-democracy demonstration in Hong Kong" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>... but the party knows it can't afford to. Roger Price / Flickr. Creative Commons.</span></span></span>The confrontation in Hong Kong between pro-democracy demonstrators and the Beijing-backed authorities has implications reaching beyond the protesters camped on the streets of the city’s business district or the administration in the official buildings beholden to the central government in Beijing. It epitomises the wider challenge facing China as it seeks economic modernisation while retaining monopolistic Communist Party political rule. Nothing could be more modern in China than the former British colony with its advanced financial system, its freedoms and its full integration into the global economy. Nor could anything be more threatening to the rulers in Beijing than the spiralling call for open direct elections, spearheaded by student protesters defying the police. </p> <p>The clash between the authorities and those calling for uncontrolled democracy in their “umbrella revolution” has intensified this year, as a result of Beijing’s stronger assertion of its right to control developments in the former colony and the emergence of a new, younger pro-democracy movement, which has adopted a more radical approach than the campaigners for a liberal political system in the first decade after sovereignty passed from Britain to China in 1997. The offer of talks by the chief executive on Thursday night, a striking recognition of the power of street protest, would be impossible elsewhere in China. </p> <p>The presence of tens of thousands of demonstrators in the city’s central business district this week, calling for the open election of the territory’s next chief executive in 2017, is a realisation of Beijing’s worst fears concerning popular protest—and it inevitably conjures up images of the demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. All the more so since the White Paper issued by the State Council in June had made it plain that Beijing did not consider that the “high degree of autonomy” enjoyed by the Special Administrative Region (SAR) under the 1997 handover guarantees meant “full autonomy nor decentralised power”. Instead it stressed the power of the central leadership to run local affairs. </p> <p>Beijing further turned the screw on the pro-democratic camp by laying down conditions for the 2017 election, which, despite opening the poll to universal franchise, will enable the central government to determine who is eligible to run. It thus made plain that it prioritises the first two words over the last two in the “one country, two systems” formulation, which many in Hong Kong had believed would guarantee them freedom from mainland interference. </p> <p>The government in Beijing insists that “Hong Kong is China’s Hong Kong” and a spokeswoman blamed “external forces supporting illegal activities”. The Communist Party newspaper, the <em>People’s Daily</em>, has expressed strong support for the chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, who assumed that post with Beijing’s approval in 2012 and whose resignation the protesters are demanding after police reacted to the initial demonstration with tear gas and baton charges. </p> <h2><strong>Digging in</strong></h2> <p>No mediating element is evident and the two sides are digging in for the long haul as the Xi Jinping administration makes the strengthening of the Chinese party-state its prime objective, regardless of the negative fallout. The two sides are like boxers in a ring without a referee. The open media system in the SAR means that what is happening is far more widely known and potentially entails a higher price than would be the case on the mainland. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">The two sides are like boxers in a ring without a referee.</span></p><p><span></span>With the 41m visits by mainland residents to the SAR accounting for an estimated 37% of retail and restaurant spending last year, the impact of visitors staying away would be a major negative factor, on top of the 1% decline in retail sales in the first eight months of this year. In the second quarter, with consumption falling, gross domestic product contracted by 0.1 per cent. Yet while the mainland is very important for Hong Kong, the growth of the economy of the People’s Republic of China means that the relative weight of the two has shifted significantly: the former colony’s economy now accounts for just 3% of China’s, compared with 12% three decades ago. </p> <p>Beijing certainly still values Hong Kong, as shown by the opening of the “through train “ linking the Shanghai and SAR stock exchanges, scheduled for later this year, and by the use of Hong Kong for the internationalisation of the yuan. This would point to the Chinese authorities taking a more relaxed attitude, to avoid destabilising the city and frightening off investors. But that runs counter to the evident polarisation and would pose a dual danger for Xi and his colleagues—that they would be seen as weak and that the pro-democracy forces, having gained ground, would push their case further. </p> <h2><strong>Flashpoints</strong></h2> <p>There are further potential flashpoints ahead, notably when the Legislative Council meets to vote on Beijing’s proposals for the 2017 electoral arrangements. No date has been fixed for that meeting but it will probably take place in the coming two weeks. Preliminary soundings of legislators suggest the proposal will not get the necessary two-thirds majority. Beijing could then say it was dropping the idea of enlarging the franchise and would maintain the system of a 1,200-strong electoral college that picked C.Y. Leung. In addition, it could halt other moves towards democracy through opening up elections for the legislature. That would almost certainly set off fresh demonstrations. Even if the council did back Beijing’s proposal, Occupy Central and its allies would in all likelihood protest at what they would call the rubber-stamping of an anti-democratic process. </p> <p>It is hard to see a positive outcome or even a reduction in the tension that has built up this year. And one effect of the recent events in Hong Kong will be to undermine Beijing’s attempts to cultivate closer relations with Taiwan. The prospect of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) winning the presidency on the island in 2016 can only be helped by developments in the former colony. The irony is that the place for which Deng Xiaoping originally intended his “one country, two systems” is likely to move even further outside the “one country”, as the result of what is happening to the SAR’s “second system”.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Jittery <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/oct/16/china-blocks-bbc-website-hong-kong-protest?CMP=twt_gu">Beijing blocks BBC, New York Times and Bloomberg</a>, fearing mainland access to Hong Kong coverage. But <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/24/world/asia/un-urges-china-to-allow-free-elections-in-hong-kong.html?ref=world&amp;_r=0">UN Human Rights Committee</a> tells it to allow open elections.</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/lily-ho/with-peace-and-love-civil-disobedience-in-hong-kong">With peace and love: civil disobedience in Hong Kong</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/jonathan-fenby/tiananmen-square-official-silence-public-restiveness">Tiananmen Square: official silence, public restiveness</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity China Democracy and government china democracy & power politics of protest non-violent action china from the inside china & the world Hong Kong matters Jonathan Fenby State violence Thu, 02 Oct 2014 21:34:09 +0000 Jonathan Fenby 86483 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Arabs without capitals https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/arabs-without-capitals <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The fragility of Arab capital cities reflects the lack of legitimacy among their rulers and the wider popular antagonism they provoke.&nbsp; </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In 1982, Beirut was the first Arab capital to be occupied by Israel. In later years, even the slightest allusion to this fact became immensely hurtful to the Arabs, yet the feeling did not lead towards any tangible response. But 1982 also marked the last Israeli occupation of an Arab city. In turn this historic turning-point came about not because of Israel’s lack of military capacity or desire to subjugate, but for other reasons. The latter are related both to how Arab capitals themselves evolved after that date, and to the conditions of the peoples and communities of these cities. <br /><br />To see this, consider the fate of some major Arab cities in recent years. Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, is currently <a href="http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/30/us-iraq-crisis-idUSKCN0HP24B20140930">facing</a> the prospect of being subdued by ISIS. Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, is in turn confronting a similar attempt led by Ansar Allah, or the Houthis, who have recently succeeded in entering and taking <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-29380668">control</a> of it. Tripoli, the capital of Libya, has seen its airport burn down during <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/under-militia-power-libya-closer-to-failed-state/2014/09/09/810254ba-384a-11e4-a023-1d61f7f31a05_story.html">fighting</a> among its rival militias; such incidents intensify the profound doubts in eastern Libya about whether Tripoli deserves to be the capital city at all. In turn, the Palestinian project is now <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-14630174">split</a> between the West Bank and Gaza, and has not yet settled on a unified capital, even if a temporary one awaits sorting out Jerusalem’s fate.<br /><br />These crises over the security, integrity and status of Arab cities is at the heart of a multifaceted transformation in the Arab world. <br /><br />Even before 1982, many contentious issues began to crystallise in the region, in such a manner that the quest for a “central Arab cause” in confronting Israel became the political equivalent of the gold rush in the 19th-century American west. This deduction is reinforced by the fact that the current advance on Baghdad, and the <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/yemen-houthi-rebels-refuse-leave-sanaa-201493091640212579.html">siege</a> of Sana’a, began in conjunction with the war on <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel-vs-hamas-war-of-surprises">Gaza</a> - a war in which the rest of the Arabs, amid their many preoccupations and direct concerns, found no room to show solidarity. <br /><br />Furthermore, it is no longer Israel that raids and occupies capitals, because these cities - in the sense of being symbols of national unity and sovereignty - are no longer in a true sense capitals. Those who now do the job are angry residents and disgruntled members of religious and ethnic communities <a href=" How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East ">marginalised</a> by oppressive central governments. They have often previously raided across and ignited national borders (bearing in mind that borders too are an important symbol of supposed national unity and sovereignty). In almost all cases, regional powers exist that are linked to segments of the relevant population by bonds of sympathy, and this creates the foundation for alliances that spread across borders and help to <a href="http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=52236">undermine</a> capital cities still further.&nbsp; <br /><br />In the Arabic language, the root of the word "capital" - <em>al-‘Asim</em> - signifies the protector and barrier. In some European languages, the term "capital" came to describe both capital cities and wealth or assets. But <a href="http://www.aucpress.com/p-3582-the-urban-social-history-of-the-middle-east-17501950.aspx">Arab capitals</a> have been disabused of such lofty meanings. These absences carry further implications in terms of capitals' lack of significance as national focal points, or of joint interests and wishes that would be managed by a polity agreed upon by the citizenry. Now these cities have become merely “strategic locations”: that is, a few square meters that are available for communal factions, and behind them their regional allies and sponsors, seize, invade, and usurp. <br /><br />Any historian could record the inhabitants' longstanding aversion to their capitals, as seats of power, bureaucracy, and of political and military decisions. This aversion has come in several stages. The first one saw movement in the position of <a href="http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409451112">Iraqi Kurds</a> <em>vis-à-vis </em>Baghdad and the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/g%C3%A9rard-prunier/south-sudan%E2%80%99s-civil-war-towards-progressive-analysis">South Sudanese</a> <em>vis-à-vis</em> Khartoum, when both groups came to feel that their capitals ignored and marginalised them, and wanted to end these capitals' ability to dictate their lives. The second stage can be seen during the <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/war/lebanon.htm">inter-Lebanese</a> war fought over the Beirut <em>souks</em> area, the heart of the capital, in 1975. At the time, the common wisdom among the belligerents was that the only alternative to their rivals' control should be full annihilation, including the annihilation of everything that was once common and shared among the people of the “same nation.”<br /><br />Now this aversion, with its multiple forms and manifestations, has reached a third stage -&nbsp; again, sparing Israel the need to invade any Arab capital. Today, for instance, <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/syria%E2%80%99s-broken-spring-damascus-report">Damascus</a> - “the beating heart of Arabism” as it was once called - is in practice the capital of one Syrian side that sends death and destruction to the rest of the Syrian parties. Meanwhile, the enemies of the regime there will not hesitate, if they ever have the chance, to invade Damascus, and indeed, they are already bombarding it relentlessly each day. Something similar could be said of most other Arab capitals, which rose once along with national borders, flags, and anthems, and today, are all falling together. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Albert Hourani, <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/HOUHIR.html?show=reviews"><em>A History of the Arab Peoples</em></a> (Harvard University Press, 2003)</p><p>Sami Zubaida, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Humanities/History/Regional%20%20national%20history/Asian%20history/Middle%20Eastern%20history/Beyond%20Islam%20A%20New%20Understanding%20of%20the%20Middle%20East.aspx"><em>Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East</em></a><em>&nbsp;</em>(IB Tauris, 2011)</p><p>Brian Whitaker, <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?ISB=9780863566240&amp;TAG=&amp;CID=">What's Really Wrong with the Middle East</a> (Saqi, 2009)</p><p>Peter Sluglett ed, <a href="http://www.aucpress.com/p-3582-the-urban-social-history-of-the-middle-east-17501950.aspx"><em>The Urban Social History of the Middle East, 1750-1950</em></a> (AUC Press, 2009)</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-anoth-sidebox"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hazem Saghieh is political editor of the London-based Arab newspaper <a href="http://alhayat.com/"><em>al-Hayat</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/islamism-vs-weak-arab-nations">Islamism vs the weak Arab nations</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/iraqis-and-kurds-question-of-responsibility">Iraqis and Kurds: a question of responsibility</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/islamists-without-book">Islamists without a book</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/gaza-and-arab-civil-war">Gaza, and an Arab civil war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/iraqsyria-roots-of-disintegration">Iraq-Syria: roots of disintegration</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arab-awakening/hazem-saghieh/great-unravelling-and-new-map">A great unravelling, and a new map</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/baathism-in-iraqsyria-out-of-time">Ba&#039;athism in Iraq-Syria: out of time</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/arab-future-india-not-europe">An Arab future: India, not Europe </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/military-and-islamist-failure-what-next">Military and Islamist failure: what next? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/yemen-and-tunisian-example">Yemen, and the Tunisian example </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/revolution-in-revolution-century-of-change">Revolution in the revolution: a century of change</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 3.0 </div> </div> </div> Democracy and government Conflict Civil society middle east democracy & power Hazem Saghieh Thu, 02 Oct 2014 03:30:37 +0000 Hazem Saghieh 86456 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The failed "mental revolution": Georgia, crime and criminal justice https://www.opendemocracy.net/gavin-slade-alexander-kupatadze/failed-mental-revolution-georgia-crime-and-criminal-justice <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Crime has been near the top of Georgia's political agenda for a decade. But successive governments have still to address fundamental questions of legitimacy and trust. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Two years after a change of government in Georgia, the issue of criminality is back in the political spotlight. The country's main opposition party, the United National Movement, claims that situation is getting worse. Crime is rising, the streets are becoming less safe for Georgians to walk in, and the police are moving from a service ethic to the bad old habits of shakedowns and bribery. <br /><br />The government, led by former interior minister Irakli Garibashvili, disputes this portrait. Yet it recently set up "special police checks" in Tbilisi to address current problems. Some blame a mass amnesty of thousands of prisoners in 2013 for rising crime, though without clear data on recidivism it is difficult to know the true impact of this. </p><p>The situation in prisons is also worrying. Disturbances in 2014 reportedly have been resolved only with the help of Georgian mafia figures - so-called "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/gavin-slade/georgia%E2%80%99s-mafia-politics-of-survival">thieves-in-law</a>". Conversations between prisoners have been leaked suggesting that the criminal subculture represented by these figures is again beginning to spread through the prison system. <br /><br />It is also alleged that several thieves-in-law have transited through Georgian territory without any problems, even being met and accompanied by individuals affiliated with government structures. This allegation is difficult to verify, but at the very least it is known that these criminals were formally <a href="http://police.ge/en/oleg-melnikovis-eqstraditsia-ukrainidan-dghes-gankhortsielda/5548">extradited</a> or deported from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia to Georgia but, once they cross into Georgian territory, their trace gets lost. <br /><br />All this seems distinct cause for concern. The biggest achievement of the former government, led by the United National Movement and Mikheil Saakashvili, was the drastic reduction in criminality in the <a href="http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_htm/georgrep.htm">country</a> and the successful fight with organised crime. The results were dramatic: by 2010, a person in Georgia was half as likely to be a victim of burglary, four times less likely to be robbed and ten times less likely to be assaulted than in law-abiding Germany.<br /><br />How was this remarkable, indeed almost unbelievable, crime decline made possible? Certainly, it was not through ameliorative social policy. There was little increase in social welfare, reductions in unemployment or inequality, or the embedding of a civic education, despite some attempts at this. The Georgian crime decline resulted instead from <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/gavin-slade/georgia-politics-of-punishment">pacifying</a> society by the reimposition of a Leviathan. In 2005, the average sentence handed down in criminal courts was one year in prison; by 2008 it was five years. The prison population bulged, growing 300% between 2003-10. Georgia was in the top five incarcerators per capita in the world by 2012. A system of hefty fines was enacted and enforced. Violence between Georgian citizens was reduced, but instead flowed top-down from the state to society. Extra-judicial killings by police increased, systematic violence and torture occurred in prisons. <br /><br />Yet <a href="https://www.osac.gov/Pages/ContentReportDetails.aspx?cid=15207">crime</a> did decline. Walking on the street at night became relaxed. Drivers refused to drink when over at a friend’s house for dinner. Taxi-drivers insisted passengers wear seatbelts. In short, a positive legal consciousness emerged out of legal nihilism; people obeyed the law. This was the very essence of the <a href="http://www.economist.com/node/16847798">much-vaunted</a> "mental revolution"&nbsp; - Georgian people had changed. However, the increases in crime since Saakashvili’s time disproves this notion. Normative orientations to law and order have not in fact significantly changed. Why not?</p><p><strong>Reform and perception</strong><br /><br />Tom Tyler, in his classic study <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8230.html"><em>Why People Obey the Law</em></a>, argues that self-interest (fear or rewards) is a narrow basis for the rule of law. Brute coercive power may achieve obedience but will not sustain it. Only a sense of fairness, trust and legitimacy can do that by nurturing feelings of obligation. When outcomes are fair, and the procedures that lead to those outcomes transparent and just, people will follow rules, cooperate with police, pay fines, and accept punishment. Procedural justice - the experience directly or vicariously of transparency, fairness, neutrality and respect in dealings with criminal justice - is vital for any rule-following behaviour. Tyler’s thesis has stood up to more tests, in many contexts around the world, than most in socio-legal scholarship. <br /><br />Now Georgia has become a country-sized test of this hypothesis and recent increases in criminality appear to be supporting it. <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/20/world/europe/mikheil-saakashvili-georgias-ex-president-plots-return-from-williamsburg-brooklyn.html?_r=0">Saakashvili’s</a> government bequeathed an efficient and repressive system, but one that completely lacked procedural fairness and therefore legitimacy. <br /><br />Surveys on judicial independence in Georgia, conducted by the <a href="http://www.crrccenters.org/">Caucasus Research Resource Centres</a> in 2012 and 2014, <a href="http://www.ewmi-jilep.org/en/news/461-2014-09-25-01">found </a>that trust in the institutions of criminal justice - the courts, judges and prosecutors - has remained minimal. These three institutions score lowest on overall levels of trust behind a multitude of other political and social institutions; around 35% of respondents partially or fully trust prosecutors for example, compared to 76% for teachers. Moreover, procedurally Georgians have lacked justice at all levels. Processes such as plea-bargaining are not seen as delivering fairness; 67% of Georgians believed it is simply a way of transferring money to the state in 2012, though this declined to 54% in 2014. Outcomes are unfair: around 55% believed innocent people are imprisoned "often" or "occasionally", with little change between 2012 and 2014.<br /><br />To be fair, during the early years of Saakashvili’s reforms it was clearly signaled to society that high-ranking officials, the former class of "untouchables," would also be prosecuted. Yet this process was itself opaque, and undermined by a growing perception of unpunished elite corruption among the new political class. <br /><br />It is also fair to note that in general attitudes to the police massively improved under Saakashvili. Georgia’s police were seen as an example in the region, inspiring other post-Soviet countries such as Kyrgyzstan. But even the <a href="http://civil.ge/eng/article.php?id=7448&amp;search=police">celebrated</a> Patrol Police, who enjoy high levels of confidence among Georgians, are undermined by the fact that in the same breath Georgians say they are reluctant to report crime to the police. Confidence in the police suggests people think they are effective, but cooperation requires more than this. It requires legitimacy: deference to authority based on a shared belief in the justifiability of the values and actions of the police. Furthermore, even the high levels of confidence in the police are being reversed since the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/03/world/europe/georgia-election-results.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">change</a> of government in 2012. Georgia’s police has lost much of its model image, in part due to efforts of the current authorities to downplay some of the positive outcomes of previous reforms. </p><p><strong>Policy and trust</strong><br /><br />The upshot of all this is that Georgians have been left without any sense of obligation to the legal system. With repression relaxed, Georgians may well go back to disregarding the force of law. But a kneejerk <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/gavin-slade/georgias-prisons-roots-of-scandal">political</a> reaction to this would be unwise. Georgian politics has been unnecessarily preoccupied with crime since at least 2004. In fact, while Georgia certainly had high victimisation rates in the chaos of the 1990s, and continues to mythologise a colourful criminal <a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199674640.do">subculture</a>, it has never been (by comparative standards) a particularly high-crime society. It is still a relatively agricultural and rural place, maintaining strong social institutions - the family, organised communities and religiosity - which are a natural check on crime. Admittedly, the country also hosts a range of other factors that pull in the opposite direction - high unemployment, entrenched poverty, and some of the worst inequality scores of the whole post-Soviet region. But the evidence suggests that in assessing Georgia’s crime problem, perspective is needed. <br /><br />For example, Georgia had by 1989 some of the lowest per capita registered crime rates in the Soviet Union (327 crimes per 100,000 people, against 1,112 crimes in Latvia, for example; only Armenia, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan were lower). There was certainly a jump in crime in the 1990s and Georgia had higher victimisation rates on a range of crimes than many countries in the "<a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/organized-crime-political-transitions-and-state-formation-in-postsoviet-eurasia-alexander-kupatadze/?K=9780230299801">transition</a>" region by 1995. But at the time, the situation was an exceptional one of post-war state collapse. Even after such trauma, by 2001 Georgia’s homicide rate was many times lower than that of other countries in the region (3.9 per 100,000, against 28.8 in Russia and 12.2 in Ukraine, for example). Finally, the results of Saakashvili’s war on crime mean that any subsequent increase in criminality is taking place from a very low starting-point.<br /><br />Reimposing hardline policies to address crime will do nothing to deal with the underlying issues - they can only ever be a temporary measure. The current Georgian government needs to continue to address the lack of legitimacy in the institutions that provide social order in the country. The 2013 mass amnesty of prisoners, who had often been given extremely harsh custodial sentences for very minor crimes, was an immediate attempt to establish trust in criminal justice. Yet, this must be backed by sustained, deeper reform focusing on the judiciary. </p><p>So far, the survey data on trust in the justice system from 2014 shows only a small improvement on data from 2012. Only when Georgians feel an obligation to obey authority out of a sense of its fairness, and follow the law out of shared beliefs in the law’s justifiability, will the country be in a position to produce a politics free of the fear of "criminal revolutions."</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Gavin Slade,<a href="http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content%7Edb=all%7Econtent=a778676160%7Etab=content%7Eorder=page">&nbsp;</a><a href="http://ukcatalogue.oup.com/product/9780199674640.do"><em>Reorganizing Crime: Mafia and Anti-Mafia in Post-Soviet Georgia</em></a> (Oxford University Press, 2013)</p><p><a href="http://criminology.utoronto.ca/">Centre for Criminology and Sociological Studies</a>, University of Toronto</p> <p><a href="http://www.crrccenters.org/">Caucasus Research Resource Centres</a></p> <p>Alexander Kupatadze, <a href="http://www.palgrave.com/page/detail/organized-crime-political-transitions-and-state-formation-in-postsoviet-eurasia-alexander-kupatadze/?K=9780230299801"><em>Organised Crime, Political Transitions and State Formation in Post-Soviet Eurasia</em></a> (Palgrave, 2012)</p> <p><a href="http://www.tandf.co.uk/journals/titles/17440572.asp"><em>Global Crime</em></a></p><p>Tom R Tyler, <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/8230.html"><em>Why People Obey the Law</em></a> (1990; Princeton University Press, 2006)</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gavin-slade/georgia-and-migration-policy-trap">Georgia and migration: a policy trap</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/gavin-slade/georgias-prisons-roots-of-scandal">Georgia&#039;s prisons: roots of scandal </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/alexander-kupatadze/from-georgia-to-eu-is-long-road">From Georgia to the EU is a long road</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/gavin-slade/georgia%E2%80%99s-mafia-politics-of-survival">Georgia’s mafia: the politics of survival </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/gavin-slade/georgia-politics-of-punishment">Georgia: politics of punishment</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Georgia </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> Georgia Civil society Democracy and government europe democracy & power Alexander Kupatadze Gavin Slade Wed, 01 Oct 2014 01:52:31 +0000 Alexander Kupatadze and Gavin Slade 86422 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Turkey and the "Islamic State” https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/turkey-and-islamic-state%E2%80%9D <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Turkey is notably reluctant to join a military campaign against ISIS. In fact, Ankara's ambiguity towards the radical Islamist group has deep political as well as historical roots. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>A new sight met regular airline passengers between Istanbul and southern Turkey in 2012-13: young, bearded men, often in pairs or groups, who travelled freely and, once out of Hatay or Gaziantep airports, effectively disappeared. They were, evidently, foreign militants coming to join the Syrian war that had started in 2011, and were unhindered by Turkish police as they <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/04/world/europe/isis-gaining-strength-on-syria-turkey-border/">made</a> their way.&nbsp;&nbsp; <br /><br />The media in both Turkey and the United States has begun to reveal that the then government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan (who has since moved from being prime minister to Turkey's president) chose to send humanitarian aid to radical Islamic groups active in Syria, which had an organic relation with the more radical <em>jihadis</em> affiliated with al-Qaida. The Turkish press also reports anecdotal information of regular military aid originating in Turkey being passed to Syrian <em>jihadi</em> groups that are now connected to ISIS, and of humanitarian aid to former allies of al-Qaida and ISIS. </p><p>Turkey, by channelling this aid to the <em>salafi-jihadi</em> groups among the Syrian rebels, made a conscious choice to strengthen the most extreme among them, thus contributing to ISIS's full emergence. The <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2014/09/20/world/meast/syria-turkey-kurdish-fighters/">release</a> on 20 September of forty-nine Turkish hostages held by ISIS since the group's capture of Mosul in June may reflect this unstated relationship (see Patrick Cockburn, "<a href="http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/turkey-accused-of-colluding-with-isis-to-oppose-syrian-kurds-and-assad-following-surprise-release-of-49-hostages-9747394.html">Turkey accused of colluding with ISIS to oppose Syrian Kurds and Assad...</a>", <em>Independent</em>, 22 September 2014).<br /><br />There is less attention to how Turkish policies encouraged the rise of the Islamic State (though many analyses focus on the Syrian regime's indirect contribution, by failing to target ISIS until mid-2014). In Turkey's case, the calculations had four aspects. First, by <a href="http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/shashankjoshi/100287193/turkey-must-join-the-fight-against-isil/">supporting</a> the armed rebellion in Syria (whose most determined and organised element seemed to be the <em>salafi-jihadi</em> currents), Ankara would help overthrow the al-Assad dynasty. Second, Erdogan's administration, itself the fruit of political Islam, looked with a favourable eye towards the <em>jihadi</em> formations. Third, this stance would have a bonus, namely <a href="http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-09-22/turkey-s-complicated-position-on-islamic-state">curbing</a> the influence of the militant PKK among Syria’s Kurds. Fourth, Ankara’s alliance with some pro-radical Arab states (mainly Qatar) would be strengthened (see "<a href="http://www.economist.com/blogs/pomegranate/2014/09/islamic-state-turkey-and-syria-s-kurds">Murky relations: The Islamic State, Turkey, and Syria's Kurds</a>", <em>Economist</em>, 22 September 2014).<br /><br /><strong>The Afghan precedent</strong><br /><br />Turkey's political behaviour recalls the anti-Soviet <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/asia-july-dec06-soviet_10-10/">war</a> in Afghanistan in the 1980s. At that time, the Gulf countries and the US supplied the Afghan <em>mujahedeen</em> with money and weapons which were channelled through Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI, the equivalent of Arab states' <em>mukhabarat</em>). The ISI in turn passed this external aid to seven Afghan Islamist military <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/mujahideen.htm">formations</a>, while excluding Afghan royalist or nationalist groups. This served several interests, not least ensuring that the Afghani <em>mujahedeen</em> remained divided and dependent on Pakistani manipulations. <br /><br />The competition between the Afghani <em>mujahedeen</em> groups and the various Arab elements in Afghanistan created ideal <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/intell/ops/afghanistan.htm">conditions</a> for the radical ideological mutation which produced <a href="http://web.stanford.edu/group/mappingmilitants/cgi-bin/groups/view/21">al-Qaida</a>. In retrospect, the political choices of Pakistan and the US in Afghanistan in the 1980s are widely seen as a “mistake” with dramatic consequences. In that case, how can Turkish <a href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/syria-and-turkey/">behaviour</a> in 2012-13 - and Washington's silence about it - be explained? Even the Turkish government might be expected to know that the <em>jihadis</em> consider Turkey and its leaders <em>kuffar</em> (heathen) and plan eventually to turn their <em>jihad</em> against them? This is exactly what ISIS spokespersons in Raqqa are saying today.<br /><br />In June 2014, the <em>jihadi</em> warriors of the “Islamic State” rapidly <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">expanded</a> in Iraq and Syria, occupying major cities like Mosul, something no other <em>jihadi</em> group had managed since the Taliban ruled Kabul. They had already revealed a surprising capacity to launch attacks simultaneously on several fronts: against the Iraqi army, the Kurdish regions of Iraq and Syria, rival Islamist forces in Der Ez-Zor and Aleppo provinces, and Syrian regime forces in Raqqa and Homs. In recent days, ISIS <a href="http://www.thewire.com/global/2014/09/fleeing-isis-130000-syrians-have-entered-turkey-in-just-four-days/380569/">launched</a> a lightning assault to occupy some sixty Kurdish villages, laid <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/ru/originals/2014/03/redur-xelil-pyd-kurds-pkk-isis-syria-regime-kobani.html#">siege</a> to a major Kurdish town, Ayn al-Arab (Kobane in Kurdish), with 100,000 inhabitants, and provoked another huge <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/22/world/europe/isis-forays-send-waves-of-refugees-into-turkey.html?_r=0">refugee</a> crisis.<br /><br />Their brutality also shocked. When ISIS fighters seized Der Ez-Zor, they killed 700 members of the al-Sheitaat tribe, with which they had been in struggle for control of two oilfields. The beheading of Syrian army soldiers or rival Islamist fighters, and the use of crucifixition on the public squares of <a href="http://news.sky.com/story/1336623/raqqa-islamic-states-menacing-power-base">Raqqa</a>, have catalysed fear throughout the region. The ISIS threat has taken genocidal dimensions regarding the Christians of Mosul or the Yezidis of Sinjar: the choice left to these <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-26366197">minorities</a> is either to convert or run for their lives, in both cases the destruction of their group identity. <br /><br /><strong>The Ottoman legacy</strong><br /><br />Where does this violence (“apocalyptic”, says the Pentagon) originate? In fact, the behaviour of ISIS is neither new nor exceptional: the practices of ISIS belong to this land. For the last century, since the first world war broke out in 1914, there have been <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/syria-kessabs-battle-and-armenians-history">continuous</a> genocidal projects in the region, and the same mechanisms ISIS employs now were used during 1914-18. The story of the Armenian <a href="http://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-great-game-of-genocide-9780199226887;jsessionid=1ABAA069635C40A7219F625821B97C7C?cc=gb&amp;lang=en&amp;">genocide</a> perpetrated by the Young Turks is largely <a href="http://press.princeton.edu/titles/9678.html">documented</a>, but less is known about the Ottoman state's destruction of the Assyrians or Yezidi Kurds. In those cases, men were killed, women and children became refugees, or were kidnapped, sold, or forcibly converted to Islam, and property left behind was confiscated. The perpetrators ensured there was popular participation in these crimes, including by inciting the local Muslim population to plunder.<br /><br />The genocidal <a href="http://www.gendercide.org/case_armenia.html">policies</a> continued after 1918, and leaders of the region's new states failed to condemn them. At each new crisis, the same old mechanisms were used, for example with the continuous massacres of Assyrians in Iraq in the 1930s. In 1914 the Ottoman empire was over 20% Christian in its composition; before the arrival of ISIS, Christians were&nbsp; 5% of the Middle East's population.<br /><br />If Christian minorities were almost completely annihilated, the same mechanisms were used against others: in a series of massacres against Kurds in Turkey in the 1920s-30s and in <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/globalization/article_1673.jsp">Saddam Hussein's</a> Iraq in the 1980s (including the <em>al-Anfal</em> campaign), which extended to wholesale killings of, for example, Assyrians, Turcomans, and Yezidis.<br /><br />This <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/turkey%E2%80%99s-race-codes-and-ottoman-legacy">continuity</a> between Ottoman policies of the last decades of the empire and those of the successor Middle Eastern states - for instance, the strong similarity between Kemalist Turkey and Ba'athist Iraq or Syria - has been under-studied. Many officers who had served in the Ottoman armies during the first world war were to lead the new states' armies; General Bakr Sidqi, a former Ottoman officer, led the Iraqi army that <a href="http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/center-study-genocide-conflict-resolution-and-human-rights/assyrian-genocide-1914-1923-and-1933-pres">massacred</a> Assyrians in Simele in 1933. Others, like <a href="http://www.executedtoday.com/2011/08/14/1949-husni-al-zaim-syrian-president/">Husni al-Za'im </a>of Syria, became leading politicians. <br /><br /><strong>Between past and present</strong><br /><br />Islamic political groups take as their starting-point the abolition of the <a href="http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t236/e0611">Ottoman empire</a> in 1922. When the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ul-Tahrir, and other <em>salafi-jihadi</em> groups talk about restoring the caliphate, they refer vaguely both to glorious periods of Islamic civilisation and the dark decades of the empire's decline. <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119368/isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi-killing-him-wont-stop-isis">Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s</a> declaration of the caliphate is the latest expression of this longing to reverse the <a href="http://www.faber.co.uk/catalog/the-decline-and-fall-of-the-ottoman-empire/9780571278138">loss</a> of the Ottoman empire. <br /><br />Neither politicians nor intellectuals in the Middle East were for long interested in the destruction of minorities. In Turkey, a debate has just<a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/open-wounds/"> started</a> about the way the state still celebrates as national heroes those who organised the genocides : Enver, Talat and Jemal Pashas have their statues in public gardens, streets named after them, schools dedicated to them. <br /><br />In the second world war, Europeans committed genocidal horrors against civilians. Later, however, they reconciled and built a peaceful continent based on rejecting those crimes, their authors and ideologies. The Nuremberg <a href="http://www.ushmm.org/outreach/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007722">trials</a> discredited the Nazis, and the holocaust was declared a crime punishable by law.<br /><br />The Middle East, by contrast, allowed the crimes committed to <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/vicken-cheterian/turkey-and-armenians-politics-of-history">fall</a> into oblivion. Politicians never recognised their predecessors' crimes as crimes; intellectuals did not investigate or research them. For a swathe of public opinion in the region, <a href="http://www.icc-cpi.int/en_menus/icc/about%20the%20court/frequently%20asked%20questions/Pages/12.aspx">crimes against humanity</a> are fine as long as the victim is the “other” and not members of “our” group. <br /><br />The violence exercised by ISIS is shocking, but is not <a href="http://www.cap-press.com/books/isbn/9781594604362/Genocide-in-the-Middle-East">new</a> to the Middle East. ISIS can only be defeated if its actions are identified as crimes, and considered to be unacceptable. Turkey has a moral obligation here: to denounce the massacres, forced conversions, and pillage of Yezidis, Assyrians, Kurds, and all other innocent victims, both past and present.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Vicken Cheterian, <a href="http://www.hurstpublishers.com/book/open-wounds/"><em>Open Wounds: Armenians, Turks, and a Century of Genocide</em></a> (C Hurst, forthcoming, January 2015)</p><p><span></span>Martin Shaw, <a href="http://www.polity.co.uk/book.asp?ref=9780745631820"><em><span><span>What is Genocide?</span></span></em></a><em> </em>(Polity, 2007)</p><p>Kerem Oktem, Ayse Kadioglu &amp; Mehmet Karli, <a href="http://keremoktem.com/books/another-empire"><em>Another Empire? A Decade of Turkey's Foreign Policy Under the Justice and Development Party</em></a><em> </em>(Istanbul Bilgi University Press, 2012)<em><br /></em></p><p>Kerem Oktem, <a href="http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book/paperback/2011/turkey-1989"><em>Angry Nation: Turkey since 1989</em></a> (Zed Books, 2011) </p><p><a href="http://www.iwpr.net/">Institute of War and Peace Reporting </a></p><p>Ben Kiernan, <a href="http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/book.asp?isbn=9780300100983"><span><span><em>Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Exte</em><em>r</em><em>mination from Sparta to Darfur</em></span></span></a> (Yale University Press, 2007)</p><div><a href="http://statecrime.org/%20"><span><span>Statecrime</span></span></a></div> <p> <a href="http://www.massviolence.org/"><span><span>Encyclopedia of Mass Violence </span></span></a></p><p>Gareth Jenkins <em><a href="http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?PID=270977">Political Islam in Turkey: Running West, Heading East?</a></em> (Palgrave, 2008) </p><p>Hannibal Travis, <a href="http://www.cap-press.com/books/isbn/9781594604362/Genocide-in-the-Middle-East"><em>Genocide in the Middle East: The Ottoman Empire, Iraq and Sudan</em></a> (Carolina University Press, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/syria-kessabs-battle-and-armenians-history">Syria: Kessab&#039;s battle and Armenians&#039; history </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/turkey-and-armenians-politics-of-history">Turkey and the Armenians: politics of history</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/azerbaijan-dual-offensive">Azerbaijan: a dual offensive</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/node/82008">Central African Republic: genocide in our time</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/torture-and-arab-system-old-and-new">Torture and the Arab system, old and new</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/syria-neo-anti-imperialism-vs-reality">Syria: neo-anti-imperialism vs reality</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/syrias-activists-politics-of-anger">Syria&#039;s activists: politics of anger</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/armenia-turkey-end-of-rapprochement">Armenia-Turkey: the end of rapprochement </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/vicken-cheterian/turkey%E2%80%99s-race-codes-and-ottoman-legacy">Turkey’s &quot;race codes&quot; and the Ottoman legacy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Turkey </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Syria Turkey Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east democracy & power human rights Vicken Cheterian Tue, 23 Sep 2014 04:41:07 +0000 Vicken Cheterian 86198 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Beijing-London: in the labyrinth https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/beijinglondon-in-labyrinth <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A visit to the party organisation at the centre of China's anti-corruption drive is a lesson in the concealments of power. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Beijing and London are two of the world’s great cities. But they have another similarity that might surprise visitors familiar to both places. They are locations which have never-ending concealed spots where the powerful congregate. They are global leaders in concealment. <br /><br />In the case of London, anyone wandering around the great buildings of the establishment&nbsp; (such as parliament, Whitehall, or Buckingham Palace) might be oblivious to the fact that in between these are a thousand other places - quiet boardrooms, clubs, offices, meeting points - where huge finance deals are done, discussions with geopolitical import are held, and judicial decisions made that ripple out far beyond the confines of the United Kingdom’s now somewhat <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/chinas-visitor-cameron-in-beijing">diminished</a> and impoverished powers. <br /><br />For a democracy like the UK, these labyrinths with little evident accountability are one of the wonders of the world. Peeping inside is always unsettling - like getting a brief sight of a parallel universe to the everyday one and which for most of the time is hidden. <br /><br />In the case of Beijing, a similar parallel universe exists. Alongside the massive, architecturally grandiloquent buildings that envelop the city's <a href="http://www.orientalarchitecture.com/china/beijing/tiananmen.php">Tiananmen Square</a>, with the remnant of ancient structures like the <a href="http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/439">Forbidden City</a> clustering in turn around them, Beijing also has plenty of unmarked and unprepossessing buildings. Places, for example, like the organisation department of the <a href="http://www.anthempress.com/friends-and-enemies">Chinese Communist Party</a> (CCP) where personnel decisions are made, or the propaganda department (somewhat tepidly <a href="http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/137255/edited-by-anne-marie-brady/chinas-thought-management-routledge-studies-on-china-in-transiti">rebranded</a> in 1998 as the "publicity department"). It is in such buildings, in architectural terms utterly soporific, that the core strategic decisions about the future of the nation are made. Among the most important and mysterious is the one which hosts the central commission and inspection commission (CDIC) sits - China’s <a href="http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2014crackongraft/">feared</a> graft-busters. <br /><br />The CDIC has been busy of late. In the space of just twenty-four months it has taken <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/chongqing-and-bo-xilai-how-china-works">down</a> both a sitting and a former member of the CCP's politburo. The commission's <a href="Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Communist Party">campaigns</a> have focused on vast sums smuggled abroad and the deluge of moon-cakes that officials had been giving out to key contacts at the autumn festival, year after year. <br /><br /><strong>The elusive heart</strong><br /><br />Visiting the CDIC is a disquieting experience. The doorways are like any other government building across the country, except for being a bit more austere and frugal in appearance. No ornate marble columns, or glorious red-tiled roves with dragons dancing down the eaves. Around the back are the offices, which look like offices anywhere, populated by computers and people quietly working. In the seminar theatre, where the officials deliver their findings, nothing looks amiss. Is this really one of the most feared organisations in China, and thus the world?<br /><br />And then the presentations themselves start. A slide goes up, with talk of smashing the four new evils - formalism, extravagance, hedonism, bureacratism. Another gives the raw data: 51,600 officials investigated in the last year, 67,679 cases and claims handled - then the most dreaded statistic of all - 18,365 disciplined by the party. Amongst these, <a href="http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/why-zhou-yongkang-had-to-go/">Zhou Yongkang</a> and his band presumably figure. The presenter solemnly spells out the new strategy to beat corruption under <a href="http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/p932">Xi Jinping's leadership</a> - first discover the problems, then prepare solutions, finally promote settlement of the problem. It sounds clinical and clean, like listening to a doctor's diagnosis. And then the final slide - a startling, bright image of a sword above a man’s head, with the words in English and Chinese: "The Sword of Damocles."<br /><br />China is <a href="http://thediplomat.com/2014/08/why-china-cant-innovate/">hunting</a> for innovation, and even in the CDIC this quest is also paramount. One official talks of the "creative use of provincial tours," referring to the moment when the CDIC descends on a locality and starts to dig out problems. But on the other side, there is much creativity too in the deviance and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/bo-xilais-fall-echo-and-portent">venality</a>, the innovative concealment and evasion, that the CDIC is trying to hunt down. It is challenging, as the presenters are describing the surface of this procedure, to imagine its lived reality. What does it feel like to be an official who knows that claims are <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-who-is-in-charge">swirling</a> around, that patronage networks once warm and embracing have gone cold, and that the dreaded CDIC from Beijing has sent down a team who are slowly working their way towards you and building up a case? <br /><br />The CDIC sits at the front of a process where the CCP is now seeking to restore its standing by means of internalising in the society the sense of its near moral mission. For years, the party has been <a href="http://www.anthempress.com/struggling-giant">wedded</a> to deploying formal and informal violence to get its own <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-19892014-one-womans-story">way</a> when pushed into a corner. The result is a tarnished public image. Today the party is trying to overturn that by promoting the notion of a non-egotistical, public-spirited, self-sacrificing cadre of leaders. In an environment as monetarised as that of China now, this is a hard act to pull off. The slightly puritanical air of China these days seems to run skin-deep when set against the vats of material corruption that lie all around. <br /><br />The simple fact is that the CDIC with its concealment, its organised and tactical disclosure, and its harsh clinical language is really a deliverer of fear. That might deal with the symptoms of China’s current <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-between-self-and-society">moral</a> and spiritual malaise, but it does little about the root causes. The party has plenty of sticks in this fight, but very few carrots with which to goad people on - beyond the rhetorical appeal to a mission of national greatness which will only be achieved if the unity of party and country is <a href="http://store.elsevier.com/product.jsp?locale=en_US&amp;isbn=9781843346319">preserved</a>. <br /><br />Leaving the CDIC in glorious sunshine, the group I was with were ushered onto buses. A young official suddenly appeared from one of the office doorways, wandering across the forecourt, and looking towards these diverse foreigners as they exited with a slightly puzzled look on her face, probably wondering what on earth they were doing in such a closely guarded place. The sight of one of the workers for this organisation made me think about what precisely they spent their days doing. Despite an afternoon of data, descriptions and talk, I left the CDIC in the state the party no doubt intended, no <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/kerry-brown/china-what-we-think-we-know-is-wrong">wiser</a> in the end about what it did and why than when I had entered. It was an unsettling but familiar feeling, and it took me a few moments to remember where I had had it before. Then I remembered. This was precisely the way I felt when I came out of one of those concealed spots of power and decision-making in London. The CDIC is not so alien after all.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div> <p>Kerry Brown, <span class="st"><a href="http://www.worldscientific.com/worldscibooks/10.1142/p932"><em>Carnival China</em>: <em>China</em> <em>in the Era of Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping</em></a> (Imperial College Press, May 2014) </span></p><p><a href="http://sydney.edu.au/china_studies_centre/"><span><span>China Studies Centre, </span></span></a>University of Sydney</p><p><a href="http://www.euecran.eu/"><span><span>Europe China Research and Advice Network</span></span></a></p> <p>Kerry Brown, <a href="http://www.anthempress.com/friends-and-enemies"><span><span><em>Friends and Enemies: The Past, Present and Future of the Communist Party of China</em> </span></span></a>(Anthem Press, 2009)</p> <p>Kerry Brown, <a href="http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/9789814350037_fmatter"><em><span><span>Hu Jintao: China's Silent Ruler</span></span></em></a> (World Scientific, 2012)</p> <p>Kerry Brown, <a href="http://www.zedbooks.co.uk/book.asp?bookdetail=4407" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Ballot Box China: Grassroots Democracy in the Final Major One-Party State</span></span></em></a> (Zed Books, 2011)&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kerry-brown/china-between-self-and-society">China, between self and society</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kerry-brown/china-who-is-in-charge">China: who is in charge?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kerry-brown/china-19892014-one-womans-story">China, 1989-2014: one woman&#039;s story</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kerry-brown/chinas-past-chinas-present">China&#039;s past, China&#039;s present</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kerry-brown/china-and-habermass-public-sphere">China and Habermas&#039;s public sphere</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/kerry-brown/chinas-visitor-cameron-in-beijing">China&#039;s visitor: Cameron in Beijing</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/kerry-brown/china-vs-facebook-intimate-rivals">China vs Facebook: intimate rivals</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> China </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> China International politics Democracy and government china democracy & power Kerry Brown Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:06:53 +0000 Kerry Brown 86070 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Islamism vs the weak Arab nations https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/islamism-vs-weak-arab-nations <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The fragility of Arab national identity makes it difficult to resist the Islamic State. This makes the Kurdish experience relevant to the prospects of war against the movement.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The end of the fighting in Gaza was soon followed by a political battle. During the fierce military conflict between Israel and Hamas, the two Palestinian leaderships - Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and Hamas and its government in Gaza - had put on a show of <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2014/09/gaza-palestinian-unity-hamas-fatah-2014938244877651.html">unity</a> at the negotiations in Cairo that were attempting to bring the violence to an end. In the event, the respective Palestinian factions resumed their internal struggle even before the bombardments and rockets were halted.<br /><br />The character of their <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/gaza-and-arab-civil-war">fallout</a> is instructive. On both sides, its discourse is proscriptive: mutual rebuttal rather than genuine criticism. Hamas claims for itself and its war the best Palestinian qualities and virtues, repeatedly <a href="http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/hamas-denies-running-shadow-government-wants-avoid-squabbles-hamas-1204430020">challenges</a> Mahmoud Abbas’s words and deeds, and denies him any share of the patriotism that it seeks to monopolise. Abbas <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29099239">questions</a> Hamas’s prolongation of the battle with<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%27s-security-after-gaza"> Israel</a>, alleging that it needlessly doubled the number of casualties; slammed its execution of “collaborators” (including the brutal manner of the deed); <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/palestinian-rift-widens-after-conflict-1409863403">criticises</a> its belated acknowledgment of responsibility for kidnapping the three Israeli settlers, having denied it for so long; and accuses Hamas of conspiring to topple his Palestinian Authority. <br /><br />The fact that this political <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia/2014/09/abbas-warns-he-may-end-unity-deal-with-hamas-20149794312283293.html">contest</a> proved impossible to suspend even while the guns were being fired seems to reveal the depth of the West Bank-Gaza split. Such devices as a a coalition government, or a joint delegation in Cairo, are unable to keep it from erupting. After all, the government - hailed as a major event - was effectively put on the back-burner shortly after its birth, such was the <a href="http://www.gulf-times.com/region/216/details/407448/fatah-hamas-rivalry-threatens-unity-accord">mutual</a> animosity.&nbsp; <br /><br /><strong>The Kurdish example</strong><br /><br />The internecine Palestinian rivalry is but one example of a phenomenon that has helped create the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/iraqsyria-roots-of-disintegration">conditions</a> for ISIS-like organisations in the Middle East: namely, the brittleness of Arab national identities, and the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/hazem-saghieh/great-unravelling-and-new-map">frameworks</a> that contain or express them.<br /><br />Several forms of weak national identity are visible in the places where ISIS (which now calls itself the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/islamists-without-book">Islamic State</a>) has established itself. In Syria, for example, the Bashar al-Assad <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/carsten-wieland/syria-decade-of-lost-chances">regime</a> has for nearly four years sealed off any chances for a reasonable settlement with the rebels, who represent a majority of the population. Instead, Syria's rulers responded to protests that were at first peaceful with overwhelming force and <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/syria-exceptional-despotism">brutal</a> mass murder. The many forms of government repression have but one goal and one meaning: keep Assad and his supporters in power - or let the country burn.<br /><br />In Iraq, there is another kind of brittleness. When the political crisis in Baghdad escalated after <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-24179084">ISIS's</a> military advance in June 2014, all sides there ostensibly agreed that the government's pro-<em>Shi'a</em> policies had, by alienating the <em>Sunnis</em>, contributed to the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/islamic-state-funds-push-into-syria-and-iraq-with-labyrinthine-oil-smuggling-operation-1410826325">rise</a> of ISIS.&nbsp; After long and difficult negotiations, a supposedly united government was formed under a new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi. But despite enormous regional and international <a href="http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/09/kurds-unhappy-iraq-abadi-government.html">pressure</a>, it failed either to include strong <em>Sunni</em> figures or to weaken strong <em>Shi'ite</em> ones (as evident in the appointment of <a href="http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/iraq-conflict-prime-minister-nouri-al-maliki-steps-aside-for-successor-1.2736091">departing</a> prime minister Nouri al-Maliki as first deputy to the president). In the end, the formation of a the government has turned into nothing more than a dispute over the distribution of power between <em>Sunni</em> forces and the <em>Shi'ite</em> alliance.<br /><br />Thus, regimes in both Damascus and Baghdad have shown little interest in national unity and coexistence - and this attitude was replicated by the armed groups opposed to them. The proof of this is precisely the way that radical <em>Sunni</em> Islamist groups - including ISIS - <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/06/12/world/middleeast/the-iraq-isis-conflict-in-maps-photos-and-video.html?_r=0">became</a> the dominant anti-government force in the two countries. <br /><br />The fragility of Arab national identities is revealed elsewhere, all the way from Libya in the west to Yemen in the south. In this respect, within the broader region the Kurdish case is <a href="http://www.janes.com/article/43030/analysis-ypg-the-islamic-state-s-worst-enemy">emerging</a> as unique. The Kurdish <a href="http://www.saqibooks.co.uk/book/the-kurds/">identity</a> was always free of the seductive <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/baathism-in-iraqsyria-out-of-time">hypothesis</a> of Arab nationalism, which Kurds saw as an attempt at forcible incorporation. Now, after the revolutions and the collapse of central governments, the Kurds see it as nothing more than folklore. In this sense, the Kurds are <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/hazem-saghieh/iraqis-and-kurds-question-of-responsibility">fighting</a> their own battle without being fooled by pretensions regarding a national bond they never took seriously to begin with.&nbsp; <br /><br />The implication of these developments may for some be offensive: namely, it is impossible to combat ISIS on the basis of an imagined Iraqi or Syrian "consensus" that does not in fact exist. The corollary is that the Kurds must fight ISIS as Kurds - and the same goes for every other country and community in the region that can cohere in the way the Kurds have been able to. <br /><br />Until this is recognised, the war Barack Obama intends to wage on ISIS - whether he is firm or lax in pursuing it - will be undermined before it even starts.&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Albert Hourani, <a href="http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/HOUHIR.html?show=reviews"><em>A History of the Arab Peoples</em></a> (Harvard University Press, 2003)</p><p><a href="http://www.merip.org/">Middle East Research and Information Project (Merip)</a></p><p>Sami Zubaida, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Humanities/History/Regional%20%20national%20history/Asian%20history/Middle%20Eastern%20history/Beyond%20Islam%20A%20New%20Understanding%20of%20the%20Middle%20East.aspx"><em>Beyond Islam: A New Understanding of the Middle East</em></a><em>&nbsp;</em>(IB Tauris, 2011)</p><p>Alison Pargeter, <a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?ISB=9780863564758&amp;TAG=&amp;CID"><em>The Muslim Brotherhood: The Burden of Tradition</em></a> (Saqi, 2010)</p><p>Brian Whitaker, <em><a href="http://www.saqibooks.com/saqi/display.asp?ISB=9780863566240&amp;TAG=&amp;CID=">What's Really Wrong with the Middle East</a></em> (Saqi, 2009)</p> <p>Olivier Roy, <a href="http://www.hurstpub.co.uk/BookDetails.aspx?BookId=502"><em>Whatever Happened to the Islamists?</em></a> (C Hurst, 2009)</p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-sidebox"> <div class="field-label"> Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Hazem Saghieh is political editor of the London-based Arab newspaper <a href="http://alhayat.com/"><em>al-Hayat</em></a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/islamists-without-book">Islamists without a book</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/baathism-in-iraqsyria-out-of-time">Ba&#039;athism in Iraq-Syria: out of time</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/iraqis-and-kurds-question-of-responsibility">Iraqis and Kurds: a question of responsibility</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/gaza-and-arab-civil-war">Gaza, and an Arab civil war</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/iraqsyria-roots-of-disintegration">Iraq-Syria: roots of disintegration</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/hazem-saghieh/military-and-islamist-failure-what-next">Military and Islamist failure: what next? </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/hazem-saghieh/great-unravelling-and-new-map">A great unravelling, and a new map</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Syria Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east democracy & power Hazem Saghieh Wed, 17 Sep 2014 04:40:00 +0000 Hazem Saghieh 86044 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Economic crisis and illicit drugs https://www.opendemocracy.net/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/economic-crisis-and-illicit-drugs <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The great recession since 2008-09 has reshaped international attitudes in ways that are influencing public policy on drugs. It is a process with echoes of the 1930s. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>The century-old international drug regime is gradually losing legitimacy. Drug prohibition is still prevalent worldwide, but new regulatory alternatives are on the rise everywhere. Colorado and Washington’s marihuana <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/govbeat/wp/2013/10/09/after-legalizing-marijuana-washington-and-colorado-are-starting-to-regulate-it/">legalisation</a>, as well as Uruguay’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-27265310">decision</a> to legalise pot, are good illustrations of a revealing and compelling tendency.</p><p>An indirect, but potentially significant, factor that may influence the evolution of the drug question is economic - in particular, the ongoing "great recession" that has affected many states (especially in the west) since 2008-09. Here, paradoxically, the critical economic situation may have positive effects upon the expanding and lively public <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/war-on-drugs-time-to-demilitarise">debate</a> on drugs. </p><p>There are three ways in which the influence of the great recession on the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/globalisation/the_global_drug_war_beyond_prohibition">future</a> of drug policy, actual or potential, is visible. </p><p>The first relates to the impact of the economic crisis on the state. The recession has increased awareness of the need for action in several areas: <a href="http://www.qracao.com/index.php/component/content/article/37-overig-nieuws/10927-curacao-2013-international-narcotics-control-strategy-report">supervision</a> of offshore banking, tax-havens, and cash-smuggling, which are relevant both to legal and illicit flows; and increased transparency regarding banking secrecy, capital <a href="http://www.socialwatch.org/sites/default/files/statistics06/en/ImpossibleFinancialArchitecture/index_capital_flight.htm">flight</a>, and trade mispricing. All this will require reinstating the value of state intervention and the state's ability to impose stricter market regulations. Overall, an alternative drug-policy <a href="http://www.leap.cc/">approach</a> requires state capacity-and-control mechanisms able to ensure clear <a href="http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/9/8/world-leaders-callfordecriminalizationofalldrugs.html">regulation</a>. The foundation of the approach is an effective and vigorous state rather than narcotics prohibition under a free (and distorted) market.</p><p>The second relates to the effects of the economic crisis on public-policy funding and bureaucracy, which include a more thorough cost-benefit analysis of inequality (and in general greater <a href="http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/pikettys-inequality-story-in-six-charts">sensitivity</a> towards the subject). Governments, particularly in the developed north, came to realise that budget adjustment is inevitable and the waste of resources involved in ineffective policies untenable. So there is already a general shift towards re-evaluating existing programmes and plans, including those that involve anti-drug activities. Meanwhile, the damaging consequences of growing <a href="http://undesadspd.org/Home/tabid/40/news/394/Default.aspx">inequality</a> cause increasing alarm in the United States and Europe. Some studies highlight the connection between inequality, drug-addiction and drug-related deaths, adding a further layer of concern about the west's <a href="http://www.voxeu.org/article/great-recession-s-long-term-damage">enduring</a> economic downturn. </p><p>The third relates to the way the economic crisis has led to an adjustment of values. The 1990s and early 2000s was a period of lavish personal spending by the upper segments of the population, uncontrolled greed by financial speculators, unrestrained individualism, a high-risk-prone environment, and self-indulgent hedonism. This atmosphere extended from New York and London to Moscow and Bogotá; in all places the local drug barons, transnational <em>narcos</em>, and the global money-laundering tycoons were equally welcome, their lifestyles transforming both the rich and the poor. After the great recession, the uninhibited show of wealth and voracious acquisitveness by the powerful creates is less acceptable. This new <a href="https://nacla.org/article/turning-point-drug-policy">setting</a> may be important in helping to delegitimise illegal businesses such as drug-trafficking.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>The indirect effect of the great recession on drug-prohibition in the west may be analogous to the relation between the <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/rails-timeline/">great depression</a> of the 1930s and the prohibition of alcohol in the United States. The depression created a broad framework to discuss and rethink key issues in a fresh way: among them labour productivity, employment needs, social ills, attitudes to the law, capacity at both national and state level to secure revenue via tax and other sources. One by-product of the process was that, four years after the Wall Street <a href="http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/introduction/crash-introduction/">crash</a> of 1929, the twenty-first amendment of the US constitution repealing alcohol prohibition was passed in 1933. </p><p>The link between the two examples should not be overestimated. But both cases - the 1930s and the 2010s, great depression and great recession, alcohol prohibition and drug prohibition - do reveal a single, vital truth: that major crisis may play a part, unplanned and positive as it may be, in reshaping attitudes and policy on illicit substance use.&nbsp; </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><a href="http://www.unodc.org/">United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC)</a></p><p><a href="http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/">Global Commission on Drug Policy</a></p><p><a href="http://www.leap.cc/">Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (Leap)</a></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><a href="http://www.state.gov/p/wha/rt/cbsi/">Caribbean Basin Security Initiative</a></p><p><a href="http://www.cfr.org/narcotics-control/fact-sheet-central-america-regional-security-initiative/p22782">Central American Regional Security Initiative</a></p><p><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/editorial-tags/drug-policy-forum">Drug Policy Forum</a></p><p><a href="http://www.idpc.net/">International Drug Policy Consortium</a></p><p><a href="http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/commissions/CND/index.html">United Nations Commission on Narcotic Drugs</a></p> <p><a href="http://www.issdp.org/vienna2009/register.htm">International Society for the Study of Drug Policy </a></p> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/juan-gabriel-tokatlian/war-on-drugs-time-to-demilitarise">The war on drugs: time to demilitarise</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Civil society Democracy and government International politics latin america democracy & power Globalisation Juan Gabriel Tokatlian Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:01:08 +0000 Juan Gabriel Tokatlian 86000 at https://www.opendemocracy.net The thirty-year war, continued https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/thirtyyear-war-continued <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Barack Obama's new strategy against the Islamic State commits the United States to further long-term conflict. It involves a great forgetting of the recent war in Iraq.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>Soon after the start of the Iraq war in March 2003, a column in this series spoke of the risk of a "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1127.jsp">thirty-year war</a>" in the Middle East. More than eleven years on - and after thirteen years of the “war on terror” - Barack Obama has now committed the United States to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Islamic State with “a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy”.&nbsp; </p><p>This will be a long-term project that goes way <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/09/10/347486634/obama-to-say-u-s-will-take-out-islamic-state-wherever-they-exist">beyond</a> Obama's own second term, and thus may be the most important speech of his presidency. Beyond that, it is likely to be the prelude to two more&nbsp;<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/past_present_future_3850.jsp">decades</a> of war - and perhaps even on to that thirty-year timescale.</p><p>The BBC <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-29154481">summarises</a> the strategy as Obama outlined it:</p><p>* A systematic campaign of airstrikes against IS targets "wherever they are", including in Syria</p><p>* Increased support for allied ground forces fighting against IS - but not President Assad of Syria</p><p>* More counter-terrorism efforts to cut off the group's funding and help stem the flow of fighters into the Middle East</p><p>* Continuing humanitarian assistance to civilians affected by the IS advance.</p><p>The Iraq element of this strategy has already been underway for a month, with over 150 airstrikes so far. &nbsp;An initial analysis of the targets attacked shows that the Islamic State paramilitaries are lightly armed, highly mobile and prone to use commercial vehicles for much of their mobility. They have acquired US weapons, not least from overrunning Iraqi army bases, but they use these sparingly. A <a href="http://breakingdefense.com/2014/09/isis-force-remains-low-tech-dod-data/"><em>Breaking Defense</em></a> analysis suggests that their capabilities would be limited against well-protected and well-armed defenders, but that their versatility would make it difficult for air-strikes to degrade and ultimately destroy them.</p><p>The United States intention is to work with <a href="http://online.wsj.com/articles/kerry-holds-talks-in-saudi-arabia-on-anti-islamic-state-campaign-1410445577">other</a> states, including the Iraqi government and the Iranian (though that is not admitted in public). Also it already has its own substantial <a href="http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=79760">forces</a> in the region, primarily air and naval power. The latter includes the <em>George H W Bush</em> carrier battle-group in the Persian Gulf and the <em>USS Cole</em> cruise-missile-armed destroyer in the eastern Mediterranean. The <em>USS Cole</em> itself was an early victim of an al-Qaida-linked operation when it was <a href="http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/history/famous-cases/uss-cole">bombed</a> in Aden harbour in October 2000, killing seventeen American sailors and injuring thirty-nine.</p><p>The US airforce has even stronger forces available: air-bases in Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey as well as <a href="//www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2014/09/10/heres-how-the-u-s-military-could-carry-out-strikes-in-syria/">facilities</a> in Jordan. It could also utilise the large UK base at <em>RAF Akrotiri</em> in Cyprus. President Obama has stated that the US operations will differ greatly from the “boots-on-the-ground” wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with their deploymernt of huge numbers of ground troops. More indicative of what is intended are the operations in Yemen and Somalia, with their heavy reliance on <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/drone-wars-afghan-model">armed-drones</a>, special forces, and aid to local militias.&nbsp; </p><p>In each of these examples, though, early successes have been <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/06/26/325614541/report-questions-u-s-policy-on-overseas-drone-strikes">followed</a> by regroupings of opponents. The Yemeni government is currently struggling to cope with a resurgent al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Al-Shabaab in Somalia may have been excluded from some of the country's few large urban areas, but it has influence across swathes of countryside as well as regional <a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2014/09/us_to_strategy_again.php ">abilities</a> through to Kenya and beyond.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>In any case, the US secretary of state John Kerry has acknowledged - in a revealing comment at a Baghdad press conference on 9 September - that in extreme circumstances, the United States might <a href="http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/09/10/239391_kerry-says-us-troops-might-deploy.html?sp=/99/117/&amp;rh=1 ">commit</a> combat-troops on the ground in Iraq. Indeed, several hundred more US troops are already heading for Iraq, albeit reportedly for defensive purposes only; but special-forces units are likely to be already in the country, many of them involved directly in combat (though again this would never be acknowledged officially).</p><p><strong>In the labyrinth</strong></p><p>All this raises the issue of why the Islamic State’s paramilitary capabilities have come to the fore so <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">rapidly</a> and lethally. It remains a central question. The answer will determine how deeply the US and its coalition partners gets immersed in a new war, and relates quite strikingly to how the United States <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/americas-wars-long-fallout">conducted</a> the previous war in Iraq before the withdrawal of most of its forces in 2011.</p><p>The well-informed <em>Guardian</em> journalist Martin Chulov <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/05/inside-isis-recruits-from-border-bootcamp-to-battle ">reports</a> that at the core of the Islamic State’s paramilitary force is a tightly-knit group around its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Many of them are Iraqis who fought the American and British special forces in perhaps the most vicious phase of that singularly dirty war, which lasted for three years from late 2004. </p><p>At that time, the US joint special-operations command (JSOC) under General Stanley McChrystal was facing a relentless and capable insurgency inflicting huge US casualties. In response it <a href="http://www.brookings.edu/events/2013/01/28-mcchrystal-zarqawi">developed</a> a new form of network-centric warfare focusing on mobile special-force groups that were highly autonomous yet connected in "real time" to a wide range of intelligence capabilities.&nbsp; </p><p>The operation reached its peak in 2005 in the <a href="http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/agency/dod/tf-145.htm">form</a> of Task Force 145 (TF 145), comprising four groups working in four geographical locations around central Iraq. Three of the <a href="http://www.americanspecialops.com/">groups </a>were based on US forces - SEAL Team 6 from the navy, a Delta squadron and a Ranger battalion. The fourth, Task Force Black, was organised around a British SAS squadron.</p><p>The entire JSOC operation was centred on rapid night-raids that killed or captured insurgent suspects. Those captured would often be subject to intensive interrogation (aka torture) - the results immediately used, sometimes within hours, to prompt further raids. Steve Niva, in his remarkable academic paper “<a href="http://sdi.sagepub.com/content/44/3/185.short ">Disappearing violence: JSOC and the Pentagon’s new cartography of networked warfare</a>” in the journal <em>Security Dialogue </em>(June 2013) recounts: "By the summer of 2005, JSOC teams undertook an estimated 300 raids per month, hitting targets every night, eventually turning their focus to suspected local players and middle managers in insurgent networks”. A further valuable source is Mark Urban's book <em>Task Force Black</em> (2010).</p><p><strong>The learning game</strong></p><p>The full death-toll among the insurgents is not known but believed to be in the thousands. More significant in this context, however, is that many tens of thousands of insurgents were detained by JSOC units and others. Some of them were kept for years in squalid conditions in huge prison-camps such as Camp Bucca, south of Basra - which at its <a href="http://edition.cnn.com/2005/WORLD/meast/02/01/iraq.prison/">peak</a> had 20,000 inmates. Some of the prisoner abuse came to light at <a href="http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2004/oct/07/abu-ghraib-the-hidden-story/">Abu Ghraib</a>, but other centres were <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/19/international/middleeast/19abuse.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0 ">engaged</a> as well in straightforward torture (one was the infamous “Black Room” at Camp Nana near Baghdad). </p><p>By 2009, Barack Obama had been elected president in the US and the war began to wind down. Most of the prisoners were released, including the current Islamic State <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-27801676">leader</a>, <span class="st">Abu Bakr al-</span>Baghdadi, who may himself have been radicalised partly by his time in <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/07/was-camp-bucca-pressure-cooker-extremism">Camp Bucca</a>. Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister of Iraq since 2006, was marginalising the <em>Sunni</em> minority. From the <em>Sunni</em> ranks arose a renewed extreme lslamist group in Iraq which developed into the Islamic State, linking increasingly from 2011 onwards with paramilitaries fighting Bashar al-Assad's regime in Syria.</p><p>The <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State</a> is thus part of a long-term evolution of a <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119029/isis-iraq-strategy-was-years-making-and-mao-influenced">process</a> that originated in Iraq in 2003, was badly knocked back by McChrystal’s JSOC forces by 2008, but has now re-emerged to provide the hardline core of a revived movement - veterans of urban conflict against well-trained and heavily-armed US troops, marines, and special forces.</p><p>These are people likely to have an intense hatred of the United States and its forces - coupled with a cold ability to avoid that hatred clouding their judgment. They will be people, <a href="http://wgntv.com/2014/09/10/next-the-invisibile-sheik-who-is-isis-leader-abu-bakr-al-baghdadi/">including</a> <span class="st">Abu Bakr al-</span>Baghdadi himself, who will positively welcome US military action, especially when it extends to the greater use of special forces and the even more welcome <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">possibility</a> of regular troops. These are individuals who survived intense air-attacks and special-force operations for years in Iraq. They will be prepared for what now, following Obama’s <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-29152590">speech</a>, is likely to ensue: a new phase in a very <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/article/conflicts/global_security/the-thirty-year-war-revisited">long</a> war.</p><p>If I might end on a personal note, nine years ago I finished writing a book about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to which I planned to give a rather straightforward title <em>Lost Cause: Consequences of the War on Terror</em>. The marketing people at Polity changed this to <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em></a>. I thought it a bit over the top for an essentially analytical book but went along with them a little reluctantly. Nearly a decade later I have to agree with their judgment. Have we learned anything? </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007)</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://sdi.sagepub.com/"><em>Security Dialogue</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/article/conflicts/global_security/the-thirty-year-war-revisited">The thirty-year war, revisited </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/conflict/past_present_future_3850.jsp">The war on terror: past, present, future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/article_1127.jsp">A thirty-year war</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/thirty-year-war-past-present-future">The thirty-year war: past, present, future</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front">Islamic State, Iraq, America: a new front</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-days-of-danger">Iraq, days of danger</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/isil-iraq-and-intervention">ISIL, Iraq and intervention</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Syria </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iraq </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Iraq Syria Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east democracy & power Globalisation global security Paul Rogers Thu, 11 Sep 2014 13:28:58 +0000 Paul Rogers 85900 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Egypt: time to end the diplomatic farce https://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/mandeep-tiwana/egypt-time-to-end-diplomatic-farce <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Many Egyptians are smarting from the betrayal of their revolution while the military-backed regime tightens its grip. The international community can no longer ignore this.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="image-caption"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/JPbuSc8ujxpscWOtClPI0nweJoxradlnExp6Qx-oA54/mtime:1410348830/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/sisi%20in%20uniform.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/uEeaCOsu77WJUFkXnGTy05bbXYCjFWO-i6uPUZCTJjo/mtime:1410348648/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/sisi%20in%20uniform.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="330" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Spot the difference: the US secretary of state, John Kerry, meeting&nbsp;Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, last year as Egyptian defence minister, this year as president. US State Department / Flickr.</p><p><span></span><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/MWDOEiYqzCbL-nqPpE7DQyEmDdbAW7KkijJxNdsnGQc/mtime:1410349067/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/sisi%20in%20suit.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/IgkgyiWEJGyn75YB1A89ode6e59XvKPvAaM2KpUDmZo/mtime:1410348679/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/550590/sisi%20in%20suit.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="305" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Egypt’s regime is at it again. Having stuffed its notorious prisons with political dissenters and wantonly murdered hundreds of protesters, the military-backed government has issued an ultimatum to civil-society organisations. They must register under a regressive, Mubarak-era </span><a href="http://www.icnl.org/research/monitor/egypt.html#analysis">NGO law</a><span>, which empowers officials to weed out CSOs deemed critical of state policy—or face dissolution.</span></p> <p>Although the <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/31/egypt-rights-groups-temporary-reprieve">deadline</a> for registration has been extended by two months to November, human-rights advocacy groups are anxious about their very existence. Since the July 2013 coup which <a href="http://www.civicus.org/index.php/en/media-centre-129/35-open-letters/1820-an-open-letter-to-egypt-s-interim-government">ousted</a> the democratically elected, if flawed Morsi government, Egypt’s military rulers have turned the clock back on the popular revolution of 2011. </p> <p>They staged a <a href="http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21603071-president-abdel-fattah-al-sisi-fails-bring-enough-voters-ballot-box">farcical</a> election in May this year, through which the military chief exchanged his uniform for a presidential business suit. <a href="http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27593509">Turnout</a> was so sluggish that the voting period was extended for an unprecedented third day. The outcome, however—to confirm Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president—was never in doubt. </p> <p>The entire rump of the political opposition is in prison, the press is gagged and public demonstrations are outlawed. Those independent civil-society voices which have not already been silenced speak out at their own risk. </p> <h2>Condemnation absent</h2> <p>Yet many democratic governments have been coy about the goings-on in Cairo, revealing the ideological <a href="http://www.ipsnews.net/2014/09/why-principle-matters-at-un-human-rights-council/">fault lines</a> and inconsistent application of human-rights principles which stain international relations. The usual florid condemnation of tyrants manipulating electoral processes, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, has been more or less absent—as are any substantive moves to put in place economic and military sanctions against the regime. </p> <p>Notwithstanding the challenges facing their government’s legitimacy, for Egyptian diplomats in international forums it is business as usual. Unsurprisingly, many of their positions are diluting the protection of human rights. In June, Egypt engineered a procedural <a href="http://www.ishr.ch/news/states-silence-debate-family-diversity-human-rights-council">resolution</a> at the United Nations Human Rights Council on “protection of the family”, with the clear intent to deny members of sexual minorities their rights by excluding their relationships from the definition. In March, Egypt joined a group of “like-minded” countries in a <a href="http://www.icnl.org/news/2014/India_on%20behalf%20of%20LMG_PD_21.pdf">statement</a> urging the council to exercise caution in “advocacy of the causes of civil society”. </p> <p>At home, the list of transgressions by the military regime is indeed long. Principal among them was the massacre of more than 1,000 demonstrators opposed to the military takeover last year, as snipers, armoured vehicles and bulldozers were deployed to quell the protests during July and August. Human Rights Watch has uncovered evidence of a deadly <a href="http://www.hrw.org/news/2014/08/12/egypt-rab-killings-likely-crimes-against-humanity">conspiracy</a> systematically to silence political opponents at the time, which may well amount to crimes against humanity. Shockingly, this year courts in Egypt have handed out death sentences through sham trials to more than 1,000 protesters, prompting outrage from UN experts who have deemed the actions of the judiciary “<a href="http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=48167#.VAtgtGb8I5s">blatantly unfair</a>”. </p> <p>In June, three Al Jazeera <a href="http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/insidestory/2014/06/victims-political-show-trial-201462315344610410.html">journalists</a> were handed prison terms of 7-10 years on apparently trumped-up charges of supporting the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Earlier that month, the well-known civil-society activist Alaa Abdel Fattah and 24 others were <a href="http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/11/egyptian-activist-alaa-abd-el-fattah-jailed">convicted</a> for mounting illegal demonstrations and sentenced to 15 years in prison for protesting against the routine practice of using military courts to try civilians for political offences. Scores of activists are languishing in Egypt’s prisons for protesting peacefully against the spate of restrictions on democratic freedoms. </p> <p><span class="pullquote-right">The entire rump of the political opposition is in prison, the press is gagged and public demonstrations are outlawed.</span></p><p><span></span>In November last year, to reinforce the brutal behaviour of Egyptian security forces in dealing with protests, a <a href="http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/egypt-new-protest-law-gives-security-forces-free-rein-2013-11-25">repressive law</a> restricting freedom of assembly was introduced. It places stringent conditions on public demonstrations and gives law-enforcement officials wide-ranging powers to disperse dissent on the streets. It is an affront to the values which underpinned the revolution that ended Hosni Mubarak’s near-three-decades grip on power. </p> <h2>Challenges</h2> <p>Earlier this year, CIVICUS spoke to some young Egyptians on the challenges facing their country. On the hijacking of the ideals of the revolution and suspension of the democratic process, one activist made these poignant comments: “I knew it came a little too easy. In only 18 days, we recreated the Egypt we've always dreamed of? My naïve self wanted to believe that but, when the cruel reality hit in 2013, we were stunned beyond words—even though we subconsciously knew anything could happen. </p> <p>“The Egyptian media successfully brainwashed the majority of the nation, placing a spotlight on the Muslim Brotherhood, to distract from and justify the atrocities being committed. The Egyptian crisis isn't about the Muslim Brotherhood; it never was.”</p> <p>The state under Sisi has gone far beyond crushing even the limited civic freedoms enjoyed during the Mubarak era. The international community and democratic states in particular cannot turn a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence of lack of political representation and gross human-rights violations. Every time they participate in the diplomatic farce of engaging with Egypt as if this were routine, they reinforce the legitimacy of the regime.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/chalaine-chang/egypt-swallowing-civil-society">Egypt, swallowing civil society</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/sarah-leah-whitson/egypt%E2%80%99s-coverup">Egypt’s cover-up</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Egypt </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Civil society </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> </div> </div> openSecurity openSecurity Egypt Civil society Democracy and government middle east democracy & power politics of protest human rights accountability Mandeep Tiwana Diplomacy Militarisation State violence Wed, 10 Sep 2014 11:09:16 +0000 Mandeep Tiwana 85854 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Through the fog of peace https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/through-fog-of-peace <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>A new book by Gabrielle Rifkind and Gianni Picco highlights the urgent relevance of conflict resolution in addressing problems around the world, from Ukraine and Iran to the Islamic State. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In Afghanistan, thirteen years after 9/11 and the subsequent campaign to destroy the Taliban, the movement's resurgence <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/afghanistan-state-of-insecurity">continues</a>. A fierce offensive in one of the most contested provinces, Helmand, has killed more than 200 police and soldiers. The government in Kabul says little, but local officials admit that without substantial outside help much of the province will come under Taliban control. The governor of Musa Qala district said on 5 September: “The situation is deteriorating, and the Taliban are almost in the bazaar” (see Rod Norland &amp; Taimoor Shah, “<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/07/world/asia/afghanistan.html?_r=0">Taliban offensive closes in on a strategic Afghan district</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 8 September 2014) </p><p>In Iraq, meanwhile, United States bombing raids are being conducted across the north of the country. President Obama is about to announce his strategy for responding to the Islamic State, a strategy which will probably set the course for many years (see Julie Hirschfeld Davis &amp; Helene Cooper, “<a href="http://www.kansascity.com/news/government-politics/article1877542.html">Obama is set to make case for offensive against ISIS</a>”, <em>New York Times</em>, 7 September 2014). This, is it worth recalling, comes a decade after an <strong>openDemocracy</strong> <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/author/paul-rogers">column</a> was able to report that opposition to the western occupation of Iraq was accelerating (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_2046.jsp">Iraq between insurgency and uprising</a>", 12 August 2004).</p><p>In Syria, close to 200,000 people have died in more than three <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/syriairaq-and-regional-war">years</a> of civil war. In Libya, intense conflict between rival militias and the government is crippling any hope of post-conflict stability. Then there is Nigeria, as well as Mali, Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, let alone Ukraine and now the border <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/06/world/europe/russia-detains-estonian-officer-raising-tensions.html">dispute</a> in Estonia.</p><p>Overall, this litany suggests that the current global period is one of deep <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/alqaida-and-global-revolt">conflict</a>. Yet a longer-term view may see both signs of hope and the potential for major improvements in conflict prevention, mediation and post-conflict peace-building. After all, in 1994 much of the world was mired in conflicts: in Northern Ireland and Sri Lanka, in Chechnya's gathering tensions, in the destructive instabilities of parts of central America, in the Balkans with its ever more serious wars, in the appalling insecurities of the Great Lakes region of central Africa. Even South Africa was barely beginning to escape from the wounds of the apartheid era.&nbsp; </p><p>Not all of these conflicts are by any means resolved. Yet there has been progress in many areas, and here a neglected features of the past few decades deserves attention: the huge increase in experience of the processes of conflict resolution. This is highlighted by a remarkable new book by two specialists in the field: Gabrielle Rifkind and Gianni Picco's <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Interdisciplinary%20studies/Peace%20studies%20%20conflict%20resolution/The%20Fog%20of%20Peace%20The%20Human%20Face%20of%20Conflict%20Resolution.aspx?menuitem={5B19A9DA-BD43-4A73-B838-218E108AD653}"><em>The Fog of Peace: The Human Face of Conflict Resolution</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2014)<em>.</em></p><p>The authors between them have a wealth of practical understanding. <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/people/gabrielle_rifkind">Gabrielle Rifkind</a> runs Oxford Research Group’s <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/middle_east">Middle East programme</a>, which has worked over many years to bring <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/democracy-globaljustice/article_168.jsp">different</a> sides of the conflicts in the region together for informal yet often highly significant discussions. Much of what is done is scarcely known in public but includes some remarkable initiatives on the current differences between the United States and Iran. She is also a practising group analyst. <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/people/gianni_picco">Gianni Picco</a>, a United Nations undersecretary, has many years experience of more formal intergovernmental involvements, principally with the UN; over the past two decades he has focused principally on Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, and has a particular expertise in negotiating the release of detainees, including hostages.</p><p>The core argument of <em>The Fog of Peace</em> is straightforward: that the most important element in the conflict-resolution process - though it is often forgotten - is that antagonists understand their opponents as individuals; where they are coming from in terms of culture, history and experience; but also the ambitions and resentments that help condition their thinking. They quote the former US defence secretary <a href="http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/resources/mcnamara/">Robert McNamara</a> who oversaw some of the most devastating years of the Vietnam war but changed his <a href="http://www.errolmorris.com/film/fow.html">approach</a> to conflict greatly in later years: “We must put ourselves inside their skin and look at ourselves through their eyes, just to understand the thoughts that lie behind their decisions and their actions”.</p><p>All this may be essential if parties to a conflict are to have a hope of <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/gabrielle-rifkind-gianni-picco/new-great-regional-game-saudi-arabia-and-iran">reconciling</a> their differences, especially in the aftermath of great violence. Yet if the parties need to see the conflict through other eyes, it is also necessary for the mediators themselves to recognise their own attitudes, preconceptions and cultural environment. The authors pose a pointed question of participants from western cultures, namely “whether it is possible for western governments to move away from their comfortable certainties in which there is a belief that they stand for universal good”.</p><p>Another requirement is awareness of the fact that the great majority of conflicts end in uncertain and possibly unstable outcomes, and that these may <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/arab-awakening/gabrielle-rifkind/fog-of-war-it-is-hard-to-think-about-peace">involve</a> many years or even decades of work to cement a lasting peace based on truth, justice and reconciliation. Such work will most often be built be the communities themselves, but the latter can readily learn from the experience of others, especially if there is assistance available with an international dimension.</p><p>These insights reflect the particular value of Picco and Rifkind's combination of expertise as embodied in <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Interdisciplinary%20studies/Peace%20studies%20%20conflict%20resolution/The%20Fog%20of%20Peace%20The%20Human%20Face%20of%20Conflict%20Resolution.aspx?menuitem={5B19A9DA-BD43-4A73-B838-218E108AD653}"><em>The Fog of Peace</em></a>.&nbsp; Many attempts at transnational facilitation have come through the UN system, of which Gianni Picco has considerable experience, but NGOs have also had their role. In Britain alone, such groups as <a href="http://www.international-alert.org/">International Alert</a>, <a href="http://www.c-r.org/">Conciliation Resources</a>, <a href="http://www.peacedirect.org/uk/">Peace Direct</a> and most notably the <a href="http://www.quaker.org.uk/">Quakers</a> have acquired considerable experience, and Gabrielle Rifkind - not least through <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/">Oxford Research Group’s</a> work - is thoroughly immersed in it.</p><p>The book itself ranges widely over many of the conflict episodes of recent years, drawing lessons of success from some and difficulties from others. They point out that it is an area of work where intergovernmental and non-government initiatives do not always work well together. They focus on enduring elements in conflict, such as the military-industrial complex with its pervasive and so often negative impacts; but also on new trends in warfare, not least war using armed-drones, privatised military companies, special forces and other elements of remote control.</p><p>If there is a single enduring theme in the book it is the need for empathy - which, the authors point out, is not appeasement. At times this might be incredibly difficult, witness the extraordinary problems in trying to understand the mindset of the Islamic State. Yet even that is necessary, for without it there will be little chance of <a href="http://thehill.com/policy/defense/216729-back-to-iraq-but-for-how-long">building</a> any peace in Iraq and Syria. </p><p><em>The Fog of Peace</em> was written before the Islamic State came to the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">fore</a> in June 2014, yet it has much to say if we are to come to terms with and meet the challenges of this new <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">embodiment</a> of the al-Qaida world vision. In this sense the book reaches back to the last few decades and forward to the next, providing an urgent toolkit of ideas that can help all sides move beyond conflict.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Gabrielle Rifkind &amp; Gianni Picco, <a href="http://www.ibtauris.com/Books/Reference%20information%20%20interdisciplinary%20subjects/Interdisciplinary%20studies/Peace%20studies%20%20conflict%20resolution/The%20Fog%20of%20Peace%20The%20Human%20Face%20of%20Conflict%20Resolution.aspx?menuitem={5B19A9DA-BD43-4A73-B838-218E108AD653}"><em>The Fog of Peace</em>:<em> The Human Face of Conflict Resolution</em></a> (IB Tauris, 2014)&nbsp; </p><div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p> <p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p><p><a href="http://www.international-alert.org/">International Alert</a></p><p><a href="http://www.c-r.org/">Conciliation Resources</a></p><p><a href="http://www.peacedirect.org/uk/">Peace Direct</a></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/arab-awakening/gabrielle-rifkind/fog-of-war-it-is-hard-to-think-about-peace">The fog of war: it is hard to think about peace </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/conflict/alternatives_3405.jsp">There are alternatives</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside">Islamic State: from the inside</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/iraq-and-911-echo">Iraq, and the 9/11 echo</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/opensecurity/gabrielle-rifkind-giandomenico-picco/new-levant-possible-way-through-in-syrian-crisis">A New Levant: a possible way through in the Syrian crisis</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/global-system-failure-risk-and-reform">A global system failure: risk and reform</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/paul-rogers/james-oconnell-and-peace-studies">James O&#039;Connell and peace studies</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/climate-science-peace-studies-lesson">Climate science: a peace-studies lesson</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/democracy-globaljustice/article_168.jsp">Intimate enemies: the inner dynamics of peace</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Iran </div> <div class="field-item odd"> Afghanistan </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> openSecurity Afghanistan Iran Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics democracy & power Globalisation global security Paul Rogers Mon, 08 Sep 2014 12:07:17 +0000 Paul Rogers 85788 at https://www.opendemocracy.net Islamic State: from the inside https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-from-inside <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The west must understand the Islamic State's worldview, and accept its own failings, if it is to meet the challenge.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the early months of 2014, there was little particular concern in the west about the movement then known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS or ISIL), and now as the Islamic State (IS). That changed radically with the group's rapid advance through parts of Iraq, including the capture of the city of Mosul, in the first half of June. Now, even greater concern is raised by the gruesome killings - <a href="http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/After-James-Foley-ISIS-beheads-another-US-journalist-Steven-Sotloff/articleshow/41551162.cms" target="_blank">staged</a> for propaganda purposes - of two journalist hostages, James Foley and Steven Sotloff. </p><p>There is some caution over an immediate military response to the murders, amid recognition that this may be what Islamic State wants. Indeed, the murders may be a direct incitement to just such action (see "<a href="https://theconversation.com/second-execution-video-shows-that-islamic-state-has-a-grim-strategic-plan-31256" target="_blank">Second execution video shows that Islamic State has a grim strategic plan</a>", <em>The Conversation</em>, 3 September 2014). </p> <p>It's clear that the debate about how western states should <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping" target="_blank">respond</a> needs to be based on understanding the movement's current status and motivation. At least five elements are important here. First, IS is well organised and coherent in the running of the territory it now controls - an area about the size of the UK and with well over 4 million people under varying degrees of control.&nbsp;</p><p>Second, it works readily with other groups in a manner that might suit its purpose in the short term. These include Ba’athists and <em>Sunni</em> clans in Iraq that were strongly opposed to Nouri al-Maliki's government in Baghdad, which favoured Iraq's <em>Shi’a</em> majority. That may change now that al-Maliki has been replaced as prime minister by Haider al-Abadi, but perhaps not for many months.</p><p>Third, IS's paramilitary ability is enhanced by years of fighting in Syria and (even longer) in Iraq. In the latter case, moreover, its <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-28116033" target="_blank">combat</a> was against American troops who were both well-armed and highly motivated by the need to respond to what they saw as a terrorist insurgency directly connected to the 9/11 attackers. A feature of the United States occupation of Iraq was the detention of tens of thousands of Iraqis without trial, often for years on end. The squalid and congested prisons were hot-houses for radicalisation, and many young men were more than willing to join the movement after their release.</p><p>Fourth, IS is sophisticated in the use of propaganda to <a href="http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119259/isis-history-islamic-states-new-caliphate-syria-and-iraq" target="_blank">target</a> potential supporters and recruits. Its presence on the new social media, and its holding of hostages as a counter in relation to western military action, are examples. </p><p>Fifth, and perhaps most important, is IS's underlying idea - the creation of a new caliphate - which has proved capable of striking a chord in the minds of disaffected Muslims, mainly young and male, and including those with little or no direct experience of the region.</p><p>This ambition draws on the historic desire to establish a unitary religious-political entity of a type known in the Islamic world over the past 1,400 years. The last caliphate was abolished as part of the fall of the Ottoman empire in the early 1920s, though the classic reference-point is more often the Abbasid caliphate which was <a href="http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/abba/hd_abba.htm" target="_blank">centred</a> on Baghdad from 750 CE and peaked around the mid-10th century.</p><p>That caliphate was powerful: it <a href="http://www.zonu.com/fullsize-en/2010-01-01-11553/The-Abbasid-Caliphate-7501258.html" target="_blank">stretched</a> across much of the modern day Middle East, was the world's most important centre of civilisation (with impressive achievements in astronomy, art, architecture, medicine and many other areas), and was relatively benign in political terms (with prominent Jewish and Christian communities in the larger cities).</p><p><span><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/DTILJTVWUJMDvXNBByoz59BT4yEQ8k4gz4PlMCjLqCg/mtime:1409989159/files/imagecache/wysiwyg_imageupload_lightbox_preset/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/The-Abbasid-Caliphate.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="https://dy1m18dp41gup.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/MydFmPR_HoD6fLcpJQbZqRn6Qd1eqKAnEBg3UlGTb9c/mtime:1409988989/files/imagecache/article_xlarge/wysiwyg_imageupload/537772/The-Abbasid-Caliphate.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="258" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><span class="image-caption">The Abbasid Caliphate 750–1258. <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/files/The-Abbasid-Caliphate.png">View larger image</a>. http://www.zonu.com/</span></span></p><p><span>Such an exemplar is quite unlike anything the extreme and puritanical IS envisages. But the movement's success in </span><a href="https://news.vice.com/topic/islamic-state" target="_blank">promoting</a><span> the idea of a new caliphate does exploit a deeply inbuilt perception&nbsp; that the Muslim world has been in retreat for hundreds of years in the face of western expansionism, and that this must be reversed. It seems a remarkable worldview when the typically western fear is that of a </span><a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/islamic-state-iraq-america-new-front" target="_blank">rampant</a><span> Islamist entity challenging the west at every turn. There seems little possibility of any meeting of minds.</span></p> <p><strong>A time for reckoning</strong></p><p>This makes it even more advisable to delve a little further into how this narrative spreads, especially among some disenchanted and marginalised young men. There are two aspects to the process. The first is the repeated claim that the United States and its allies are rigidly determined to take over the entire Islamic world. This “<a href="http://www.cambridge.org/gb/academic/subjects/history/twentieth-century-regional-history/far-enemy-why-jihad-went-global" target="_blank">far enemy</a>”, the narrative goes, has been barbaric in its suppression of independent states; it has also specifically aided one state, Israel, in pursuing this aim even to the heart of the Islamic world (not least by controlling Islam's third holiest site, <a href="http://www.noblesanctuary.com/" target="_blank">Haram al-Sharif</a>). What is being argued here is that a crusader-Zionist plot threatens the integrity of Islam; the plot must be fought and defeated, however long this takes. </p><p>The second is that much of the action since 2001 can easily be represented as just this kind of assault. It includes regime termination in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya as well as many instances of barbaric behaviour such as the marines' reprisal air-raid on Fallujah early in 2004 (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1858.jsp" target="_blank">Between Fallujah and Palestine</a>", 22 April 2004). Furthermore, the crusader-Zionist element has received a substantial <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/why-israel-lost" target="_blank">boost</a> by the death and destruction in Gaza in July-August 2014, which were made <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/israel%27s-security-after-gaza" target="_blank">possible</a> by billions of dollars of US military assistance to Israel - the <a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/paul-rogers/america-israel-gaza-missiles-and-politics" target="_blank">fruit</a> of a cosy, decades-long relationship between the two countries (see "<a href="https://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict/article_1655.jsp" target="_blank">After Saddam, no respite</a>", 19 December 2003) </p> <p>The movement thus contains an eschatological dimension but also encompasses the traditional acquisition of power, thoroughly imbued with male control. Even if much of its worldview is gross exaggeration, it has enough truth to provide it with a dangerous air of authenticity and attract widespread support. </p><p>On this basis, the Islamic State seeks to establish an unyielding caliphate in response to a perceived western threat. If the west is ever to get to grips with the challenge, it will have to confront some of its own grievous mistakes and even worse behaviour. That will be very difficult, but it is essential if there is to be any way forward. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-read-on"> <div class="field-label"> 'Read On' Sidebox:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <div class="content-inset-more"> <p><a href="http://www.brad.ac.uk/acad/peace/" target="_blank"><span><span>Department of peace studies</span></span></a>, Bradford University</p><p><a href="http://www.remotecontrolproject.org">Remote Control</a></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0745641962,subjectCd-PO34,descCd-authorInfo.html"><em>Why We’re Losing the War on Terror</em> </a>(Polity, 2007)</p> <p> <a href="http://www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk/" target="_blank"><span><span>Oxford Research Group</span></span></a></p><p><a href="http://www.janes.com/"><em>Jane's Intelligence Review</em></a></p><p><a href="http://www.militarytimes.com/"><em>Military Times</em></a></p><p><em><a href="http://www.longwarjournal.org/" target="_blank"><span><span>Long War Journal</span></span></a></em></p><p>Paul Rogers, <a href="http://www.plutobooks.com/display.asp?K=9780745329376&amp;" target="_blank"><em><span><span>Losing Control: Global Security in the 21st Century</span></span></em></a> (Pluto Press, 3rd edition, 2010)</p> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/paul-rogers/america-and-islamic-state-mission-creeping">America and Islamic State: mission creeping?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Iraq </div> <div class="field-item even"> Syria </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Conflict </div> <div class="field-item even"> Democracy and government </div> <div class="field-item odd"> International politics </div> </div> </div> Syria Iraq Conflict Democracy and government International politics middle east democracy & power Globalisation global security Meteoric rise of the Islamic State Paul Rogers Fri, 05 Sep 2014 15:17:11 +0000 Paul Rogers 85744 at https://www.opendemocracy.net