Skip to main content

Home/ International Politics of the Middle East/ Group items tagged border

Rss Feed Group items tagged

Ed Webb

Border Patrol, Israel's Elbit Put Reservation Under Surveillance - 0 views

  • The vehicle is parked where U.S. Customs and Border Protection will soon construct a 160-foot surveillance tower capable of continuously monitoring every person and vehicle within a radius of up to 7.5 miles. The tower will be outfitted with high-definition cameras with night vision, thermal sensors, and ground-sweeping radar, all of which will feed real-time data to Border Patrol agents at a central operating station in Ajo, Arizona. The system will store an archive with the ability to rewind and track individuals’ movements across time — an ability known as “wide-area persistent surveillance.” CBP plans 10 of these towers across the Tohono O’odham reservation, which spans an area roughly the size of Connecticut. Two will be located near residential areas, including Rivas’s neighborhood, which is home to about 50 people. To build them, CBP has entered a $26 million contract with the U.S. division of Elbit Systems, Israel’s largest military company.
  • U.S. borderlands have become laboratories for new systems of enforcement and control
  • these same systems often end up targeting other marginalized populations as well as political dissidents
  • ...16 more annotations...
  • the spread of persistent surveillance technologies is particularly worrisome because they remove any limit on how much information police can gather on a person’s movements. “The border is the natural place for the government to start using them, since there is much more public support to deploy these sorts of intrusive technologies there,”
  • the company’s ultimate goal is to build a “layer” of electronic surveillance equipment across the entire perimeter of the U.S. “Over time, we’ll expand not only to the northern border, but to the ports and harbors across the country,”
  • In addition to fixed and mobile surveillance towers, other technology that CBP has acquired and deployed includes blimps outfitted with high-powered ground and air radar, sensors buried underground, and facial recognition software at ports of entry. CBP’s drone fleet has been described as the largest of any U.S. agency outside the Department of Defense
  • Nellie Jo David, a Tohono O’odham tribal member who is writing her dissertation on border security issues at the University of Arizona, says many younger people who have been forced by economic circumstances to work in nearby cities are returning home less and less, because they want to avoid the constant surveillance and harassment. “It’s especially taken a toll on our younger generations.”
  • Between 2013 and 2016, for example, roughly 40 percent of Border Patrol seizures at immigration enforcement checkpoints involved 1 ounce or less of marijuana confiscated from U.S. citizens.
  • In the U.S., leading companies with border security contracts include long-established contractors such as Lockheed Martin in addition to recent upstarts such as Anduril Industries, founded by tech mogul Palmer Luckey to feed the growing market for artificial intelligence and surveillance sensors — primarily in the borderlands. Elbit Systems has frequently touted a major advantage over these competitors: the fact that its products are “field-proven” on Palestinians
  • Border militarism has been spreading worldwide owing to neoliberal economic policies, wars, and the onset of the climate crisis, all of which have contributed to the uprooting of increasingly large numbers of people, notes Reece Jones
  • Leading Democrats have argued for the development of an ever-more sophisticated border surveillance state as an alternative to Trump’s border wall. “The positive, shall we say, almost technological wall that can be built is what we should be doing,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in January. But for those crossing the border, the development of this surveillance apparatus has already taken a heavy toll. In January, a study published by researchers from the University of Arizona and Earlham College found that border surveillance towers have prompted migrants to cross along more rugged and circuitous pathways, leading to greater numbers of deaths from dehydration, exhaustion, and exposure.
  • “Walls are not only a question of blocking people from moving, but they are also serving as borders or frontiers between where you enter the surveillance state,” she said. “The idea is that at the very moment you step near the border, Elbit will catch you. Something similar happens in Palestine.”
  • CBP is by far the largest law enforcement entity in the U.S., with 61,400 employees and a 2018 budget of $16.3 billion — more than the militaries of Iran, Mexico, Israel, and Pakistan. The Border Patrol has jurisdiction 100 miles inland from U.S. borders, making roughly two-thirds of the U.S. population theoretically subject to its operations, including the entirety of the Tohono O’odham reservation
  • Verlon Jose, then-tribal vice chair, said that many nation members calculated that the towers would help dissuade the federal government from building a border wall across their lands. The Tohono O’odham are “only as sovereign as the federal government allows us to be,”
  • the agency uses its sprawling surveillance apparatus for purposes other than border enforcement
  • documents obtained via public records requests suggest that CBP drone flights included surveillance of Dakota Access pipeline protests
  • CBP’s repurposing of the surveillance tower and drones to surveil dissidents hints at other possible abuses. “It’s a reminder that technologies that are sold for one purpose, such as protecting the border or stopping terrorists — or whatever the original justification may happen to be — so often get repurposed for other reasons, such as targeting protesters.”
  • The impacts of the U.S. border on Tohono O’odham people date to the mid-19th century. The tribal nation’s traditional land extended 175 miles into Mexico before being severed by the 1853 Gadsden Purchase, a U.S. acquisition of land from the Mexican government. As many as 2,500 of the tribe’s more than 30,000 members still live on the Mexican side. Tohono O’odham people used to travel between the United States and Mexico fairly easily on roads without checkpoints to visit family, perform ceremonies, or obtain health care. But that was before the Border Patrol arrived en masse in the mid-2000s, turning the reservation into something akin to a military occupation zone. Residents say agents have administered beatings, used pepper spray, pulled people out of vehicles, shot two Tohono O’odham men under suspicious circumstances, and entered people’s homes without warrants. “It is apartheid here,” Ofelia Rivas says. “We have to carry our papers everywhere. And everyone here has experienced the Border Patrol’s abuse in some way.”
  • Tohono O’odham people have developed common cause with other communities struggling against colonization and border walls. David is among numerous activists from the U.S. and Mexican borderlands who joined a delegation to the West Bank in 2017, convened by Stop the Wall, to build relationships and learn about the impacts of Elbit’s surveillance systems. “I don’t feel safe with them taking over my community, especially if you look at what’s going on in Palestine — they’re bringing the same thing right over here to this land,” she says. “The U.S. government is going to be able to surveil basically anybody on the nation.”
Ian Mandell

BBC News - Egypt starts building steel wall on Gaza Strip border - 0 views

  • Egypt has begun constructing a huge metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip as it attempts to cut smuggling tunnels, the BBC has learned.
  • The land beneath Egypt and Gaza resembles a Swiss cheese, full of holes and tunnels through which the Palestinians smuggle the everyday items they are denied by the blockade. But the Israelis say the tunnels are also used to smuggle people, weapons, and the components of the rockets that are fired at southern Israeli towns. The wall is not expected to stop all the smuggling, but it will force the Palestinians to go deeper and it will likely cut the hundreds of superficial tunnels closer to the surface that are used to move the bulk of the goods.
  • Egypt has begun constructing a huge metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip as it attempts to cut smuggling tunnels, the BBC has learned.
  • ...5 more annotations...
  • gypt has begun constructing a huge metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip as it attempts to cut smuggling tunnels, the BBC has learned.
  • Egypt has begun constructing a huge metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip as it attempts to cut smuggling tunnels, the BBC has learned
  • Egypt has begun constructing a huge metal wall along its border with the Gaza Strip as it attempts to cut smuggling tunnels, the BBC has learned.
  • SHARED READ WATCHED/LISTENED World's fastest train unveiled Man wrestles gun from assailant How feet reveal sexual attraction Man's death prompts care review Strange light mystifies Norwegians Obama receives Nobel Peace Prize One-minute World News Trains in Spain signal the future Death numbers in Iraq questioned Obama accepts Nobel peace prize Most popular now, in detail liveStatsTabs('livestats200','livestats100'); liveStatsTabs('livestats200','livestats300');
  • When it is finished the wall will be 10-11km (6-7 miles) long and will extend 18 metres below the surface
Ed Webb

Where Will Everyone Go? - 0 views

  • The odd weather phenomenon that many blame for the suffering here — the drought and sudden storm pattern known as El Niño — is expected to become more frequent as the planet warms. Many semiarid parts of Guatemala will soon be more like a desert. Rainfall is expected to decrease by 60% in some parts of the country, and the amount of water replenishing streams and keeping soil moist will drop by as much as 83%. Researchers project that by 2070, yields of some staple crops in the state where Jorge lives will decline by nearly a third.
  • As their land fails them, hundreds of millions of people from Central America to Sudan to the Mekong Delta will be forced to choose between flight or death. The result will almost certainly be the greatest wave of global migration the world has seen.
  • For most of human history, people have lived within a surprisingly narrow range of temperatures, in the places where the climate supported abundant food production. But as the planet warms, that band is suddenly shifting north.
  • ...47 more annotations...
  • the planet could see a greater temperature increase in the next 50 years than it did in the last 6,000 years combined. By 2070, the kind of extremely hot zones, like in the Sahara, that now cover less than 1% of the earth’s land surface could cover nearly a fifth of the land, potentially placing 1 of every 3 people alive outside the climate niche where humans have thrived for thousands of years. Many will dig in, suffering through heat, hunger and political chaos, but others will be forced to move on
  • In Southeast Asia, where increasingly unpredictable monsoon rainfall and drought have made farming more difficult, the World Bank points to more than 8 million people who have moved toward the Middle East, Europe and North America. In the African Sahel, millions of rural people have been streaming toward the coasts and the cities amid drought and widespread crop failures. Should the flight away from hot climates reach the scale that current research suggests is likely, it will amount to a vast remapping of the world’s populations.
  • Migration can bring great opportunity not just to migrants but also to the places they go
  • Northern nations can relieve pressures on the fastest-warming countries by allowing more migrants to move north across their borders, or they can seal themselves off, trapping hundreds of millions of people in places that are increasingly unlivable. The best outcome requires not only goodwill and the careful management of turbulent political forces; without preparation and planning, the sweeping scale of change could prove wildly destabilizing. The United Nations and others warn that in the worst case, the governments of the nations most affected by climate change could topple as whole regions devolve into war
  • To better understand the forces and scale of climate migration over a broader area, The New York Times Magazine and ProPublica joined with the Pulitzer Center in an effort to model, for the first time, how people will move across borders
  • The story is similar in South Asia, where nearly one-fourth of the global population lives. The World Bank projects that the region will soon have the highest prevalence of food insecurity in the world. While some 8.5 million people have fled already — resettling mostly in the Persian Gulf — 17 million to 36 million more people may soon be uprooted, the World Bank found. If past patterns are a measure, many will settle in India’s Ganges Valley; by the end of the century, heat waves and humidity will become so extreme there that people without air conditioning will simply die.
  • If governments take modest action to reduce climate emissions, about 680,000 climate migrants might move from Central America and Mexico to the United States between now and 2050. If emissions continue unabated, leading to more extreme warming, that number jumps to more than a million people. (None of these figures include undocumented immigrants, whose numbers could be twice as high.)
  • As with much modeling work, the point here is not to provide concrete numerical predictions so much as it is to provide glimpses into possible futures. Human movement is notoriously hard to model, and as many climate researchers have noted, it is important not to add a false precision to the political battles that inevitably surround any discussion of migration. But our model offers something far more potentially valuable to policymakers: a detailed look at the staggering human suffering that will be inflicted if countries shut their doors.
  • the coronavirus pandemic has offered a test run on whether humanity has the capacity to avert a predictable — and predicted — catastrophe. Some countries have fared better. But the United States has failed. The climate crisis will test the developed world again, on a larger scale, with higher stakes
  • Climate is rarely the main cause of migration, the studies have generally found, but it is almost always an exacerbating one.
  • Drought helped push many Syrians into cities before the war, worsening tensions and leading to rising discontent; crop losses led to unemployment that stoked Arab Spring uprisings in Egypt and Libya; Brexit, even, was arguably a ripple effect of the influx of migrants brought to Europe by the wars that followed. And all those effects were bound up with the movement of just 2 million people. As the mechanisms of climate migration have come into sharper focus — food scarcity, water scarcity and heat — the latent potential for large-scale movement comes to seem astronomically larger.
  • North Africa’s Sahel provides an example. In the nine countries stretching across the continent from Mauritania to Sudan, extraordinary population growth and steep environmental decline are on a collision course. Past droughts, most likely caused by climate change, have already killed more than 100,000 people there. And the region — with more than 150 million people and growing — is threatened by rapid desertification, even more severe water shortages and deforestation. Today researchers at the United Nations estimate that some 65% of farmable lands have already been degraded. “My deep fear,” said Solomon Hsiang, a climate researcher and economist at the University of California, Berkeley, is that Africa’s transition into a post-climate-change civilization “leads to a constant outpouring of people.”
  • Our model projects that migration will rise every year regardless of climate, but that the amount of migration increases substantially as the climate changes. In the most extreme climate scenarios, more than 30 million migrants would head toward the U.S. border over the course of the next 30 years
  • every one of the scenarios it produces points to a future in which climate change, currently a subtle disrupting influence, becomes a source of major disruption, increasingly driving the displacement of vast populations.
  • rough predictions have emerged about the scale of total global climate migration — they range from 50 million to 300 million people displaced — but the global data is limited, and uncertainty remained about how to apply patterns of behavior to specific people in specific places.
  • Once the model was built and layered with both approaches — econometric and gravity — we looked at how people moved as global carbon concentrations increased in five different scenarios, which imagine various combinations of growth, trade and border control, among other factors. (These scenarios have become standard among climate scientists and economists in modeling different pathways of global socioeconomic development.)
  • We are now learning that climate scientists have been underestimating the future displacement from rising tides by a factor of three, with the likely toll being some 150 million globally. New projections show high tides subsuming much of Vietnam by 2050 — including most of the Mekong Delta, now home to 18 million people — as well as parts of China and Thailand, most of southern Iraq and nearly all of the Nile Delta, Egypt’s breadbasket. Many coastal regions of the United States are also at risk.
  • Around 2012, a coffee blight worsened by climate change virtually wiped out El Salvador’s crop, slashing harvests by 70%. Then drought and unpredictable storms led to what a U.N.-affiliated food-security organization describes as “a progressive deterioration” of Salvadorans’ livelihoods.
  • climate change can act as what Defense Department officials sometimes refer to as a “threat multiplier.”
  • For all the ways in which human migration is hard to predict, one trend is clear: Around the world, as people run short of food and abandon farms, they gravitate toward cities, which quickly grow overcrowded. It’s in these cities, where waves of new people stretch infrastructure, resources and services to their limits, that migration researchers warn that the most severe strains on society will unfold
  • the World Bank has raised concerns about the mind-boggling influx of people into East African cities like Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia, where the population has doubled since 2000 and is expected to nearly double again by 2035
  • now a little more than half of the planet’s population lives in urban areas, but by the middle of the century, the World Bank estimates, 67% will. In just a decade, 4 out of every 10 urban residents — 2 billion people around the world — will live in slums
  • El Paso is also a place with oppressive heat and very little water, another front line in the climate crisis. Temperatures already top 90 degrees here for three months of the year, and by the end of the century it will be that hot one of every two days. The heat, according to researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, will drive deaths that soon outpace those from car crashes or opioid overdoses. Cooling costs — already a third of some residents’ budgets — will get pricier, and warming will drive down economic output by 8%, perhaps making El Paso just as unlivable as the places farther south.
  • High emissions, with few global policy changes and relatively open borders, will drive rural El Salvador — just like rural Guatemala — to empty out, even as its cities grow. Should the United States and other wealthy countries change the trajectory of global policy, though — by, say, investing in climate mitigation efforts at home but also hardening their borders — they would trigger a complex cascade of repercussions farther south, according to the model. Central American and Mexican cities continue to grow, albeit less quickly, but their overall wealth and development slows drastically, most likely concentrating poverty further. Far more people also remain in the countryside for lack of opportunity, becoming trapped and more desperate than ever.
  • By midcentury, the U.N. estimates that El Salvador — which has 6.4 million people and is the most densely populated country in Central America — will be 86% urban
  • Most would-be migrants don’t want to move away from home. Instead, they’ll make incremental adjustments to minimize change, first moving to a larger town or a city. It’s only when those places fail them that they tend to cross borders, taking on ever riskier journeys, in what researchers call “stepwise migration.” Leaving a village for the city is hard enough, but crossing into a foreign land — vulnerable to both its politics and its own social turmoil — is an entirely different trial.
  • I arrived in Tapachula five weeks after the breakout to find a city cracking in the crucible of migration. Just months earlier, passing migrants on Mexico’s southern border were offered rides and tortas and medicine from a sympathetic Mexican public. Now migrant families were being hunted down in the countryside by armed national-guard units, as if they were enemy soldiers.
  • Models can’t say much about the cultural strain that might result from a climate influx; there is no data on anger or prejudice. What they do say is that over the next two decades, if climate emissions continue as they are, the population in southern Mexico will grow sharply. At the same time, Mexico has its own serious climate concerns and will most likely see its own climate exodus. One in 6 Mexicans now rely on farming for their livelihood, and close to half the population lives in poverty. Studies estimate that with climate change, water availability per capita could decrease by as much as 88% in places, and crop yields in coastal regions may drop by a third. If that change does indeed push out a wave of Mexican migrants, many of them will most likely come from Chiapas.
  • even as 1 million or so climate migrants make it to the U.S. border, many more Central Americans will become trapped in protracted transit, unable to move forward or backward in their journey, remaining in southern Mexico and making its current stresses far worse.
  • Already, by late last year, the Mexican government’s ill-planned policies had begun to unravel into something more insidious: rising resentment and hate. Now that the coronavirus pandemic has effectively sealed borders, those sentiments risk bubbling over. Migrants, with nowhere to go and no shelters able to take them in, roam the streets, unable to socially distance and lacking even basic sanitation. It has angered many Mexican citizens, who have begun to describe the migrants as economic parasites and question foreign aid aimed at helping people cope with the drought in places where Jorge A. and Cortez come from.
  • a new Mexico-first movement, organizing thousands to march against immigrants
  • Trump had, as another senior government official told me, “held a gun to Mexico’s head,” demanding a crackdown at the Guatemalan border under threat of a 25% tariff on trade. Such a tax could break the back of Mexico’s economy overnight, and so López Obrador’s government immediately agreed to dispatch a new militarized force to the border.
  • laying blame at the feet of neoliberal economics, which he said had produced a “poverty factory” with no regional development policies to address it. It was the system — capitalism itself — that had abandoned human beings, not Mexico’s leaders. “We didn’t anticipate that the globalization of the economy, the globalization of the law … would have such a devastating effect,”
  • No policy, though, would be able to stop the forces — climate, increasingly, among them — that are pushing migrants from the south to breach Mexico’s borders, legally or illegally. So what happens when still more people — many millions more — float across the Suchiate River and land in Chiapas? Our model suggests that this is what is coming — that between now and 2050, nearly 9 million migrants will head for Mexico’s southern border, more than 300,000 of them because of climate change alone.
  • “If we are going to die anyway,” he said, “we might as well die trying to get to the United States.”
  • In the case of Addis Ababa, the World Bank suggests that in the second half of the century, many of the people who fled there will be forced to move again, leaving that city as local agriculture around it dries up.
  • Without a decent plan for housing, feeding and employing a growing number of climate refugees, cities on the receiving end of migration can never confidently pilot their own economic future.
  • The United States refused to join 164 other countries in signing a global migration treaty in 2018, the first such agreement to recognize climate as a cause of future displacement. At the same time, the U.S. is cutting off foreign aid — money for everything from water infrastructure to greenhouse agriculture — that has been proved to help starving families like Jorge A.’s in Guatemala produce food, and ultimately stay in their homes. Even those migrants who legally make their way into El Paso have been turned back, relegated to cramped and dangerous shelters in Juárez to wait for the hearings they are owed under law.
  • There is no more natural and fundamental adaptation to a changing climate than to migrate. It is the obvious progression the earliest Homo sapiens pursued out of Africa, and the same one the Mayans tried 1,200 years ago. As Lorenzo Guadagno at the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration told me recently, “Mobility is resilience.” Every policy choice that allows people the flexibility to decide for themselves where they live helps make them safer.
  • what may be the worst-case scenario: one in which America and the rest of the developed world refuse to welcome migrants but also fail to help them at home. As our model demonstrated, closing borders while stinting on development creates a somewhat counterintuitive population surge even as temperatures rise, trapping more and more people in places that are increasingly unsuited to human life
  • the global trend toward building walls could have a profound and lethal effect. Researchers suggest that the annual death toll, globally, from heat alone will eventually rise by 1.5 million. But in this scenario, untold more will also die from starvation, or in the conflicts that arise over tensions that food and water insecurity will bring
  • America’s demographic decline suggests that more immigrants would play a productive role here, but the nation would have to be willing to invest in preparing for that influx of people so that the population growth alone doesn’t overwhelm the places they move to, deepening divisions and exacerbating inequalities.
  • At the same time, the United States and other wealthy countries can help vulnerable people where they live, by funding development that modernizes agriculture and water infrastructure. A U.N. World Food Program effort to help farmers build irrigated greenhouses in El Salvador, for instance, has drastically reduced crop losses and improved farmers’ incomes. It can’t reverse climate change, but it can buy time.
  • Thus far, the United States has done very little at all. Even as the scientific consensus around climate change and climate migration builds, in some circles the topic has become taboo. This spring, after Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published the explosive study estimating that, barring migration, one-third of the planet’s population may eventually live outside the traditional ecological niche for civilization, Marten Scheffer, one of the study’s authors, told me that he was asked to tone down some of his conclusions through the peer-review process and that he felt pushed to “understate” the implications in order to get the research published. The result: Migration is only superficially explored in the paper.
  • Our modeling and the consensus of academics point to the same bottom line: If societies respond aggressively to climate change and migration and increase their resilience to it, food production will be shored up, poverty reduced and international migration slowed — factors that could help the world remain more stable and more peaceful. If leaders take fewer actions against climate change, or more punitive ones against migrants, food insecurity will deepen, as will poverty. Populations will surge, and cross-border movement will be restricted, leading to greater suffering. Whatever actions governments take next — and when they do it — makes a difference.
  • The world can now expect that with every degree of temperature increase, roughly a billion people will be pushed outside the zone in which humans have lived for thousands of years
  • “If we don’t develop a different attitude,” he said, “we’re going to be like people in the lifeboat, beating on those that are trying to climb in.”
Ed Webb

Border Security Doesn't Make Europe Safer. It Breeds Instability. - 0 views

  • While it is natural be outraged by the locking up of children in Donald Trump’s United States or the criminalization of rescues in Italy during Matteo Salvini’s reign as interior minister, this deadly game is sadly not just being played by a few erratic and callous politicians. Rather, it is systematic.
  • For many years now, a key part of the game has been to get poorer neighbors to do the dirty work of deterring migration
  • outsourcing of migration and border controls represents a spectacular own goal not just in humanitarian terms, but also politically
  • ...19 more annotations...
  • From the indefinite containment in what Amnesty International called “insecure and undignified” camps in Greece to de facto pushbacks of migrants toward the hell of Libya, from increasingly perilous routes across the Sahara to the avoidable mass drownings in the Mediterranean, Europe’s so-called fight against illegal migration has fueled abuses that undermine the EU’s global role and its avowed values
  • the EU, just like the United States, has doubled down. In its strategic agenda for the next five years, it has coalesced around a project straight out of the hard right’s playbook—of protecting borders, not people. And the way forward, in the words of the agenda, is “fighting illegal migration and human trafficking through better cooperation with countries of origin and transit.”
  • deaths owing to Fortress Europe since 1993 now adds up to well over 30,000 human beings and counting
  • The suffering is kept at a distance until spectacular violence hits the news, such as in the July killing of at least 44 people in the Libyan warlord Khalifa Haftar’s airstrike on a Tripoli detention center. The general silence means the suffering festers, infecting European countries’ relations with their neighbors. And some among the neighbors are taking note of the cynicism. As a leading West African voice on migration, former Malian Culture Minister Aminata Traoré put it succinctly: “Europe is subcontracting violence in Africa.”
  • by temporarily pushing the problem away, it is sowing the seeds for abuse, repression, and even instability on a much larger scale
  • Once migration has been elevated into an existential threat to the “European way of life,” those on the other side of the EU’s borders will know how to leverage that threat effectively, with destabilizing consequences
  • Playing his cards cleverly within the rules set by Europe’s growing obsession with migration, Erdogan then explicitly threatened this October to “open the gates” for refugees to head toward Europe if EU leaders failed to support his military incursion and resettlement plans for northern Syria
  • consider Sudan, where the country’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), a paramilitary group formerly linked to the genocidal janjaweed in Darfur, have trumpeted their credentials in fighting migration. This is the same force that killed dozens of protesters in Khartoum earlier this year and whose leader had by this summer by most accounts become the de facto, Saudi-backed ruler of Sudan.
  • The RSF, like Erdogan, has played a clever game within the rules set in part by the EU and has presented itself as helping the EU to fulfill its priorities—while simultaneously acting as a smuggling conduit. In effect, border security has been given a premium in the political marketplace, helping the guys with the guns to capture a larger market share.
  • across the Sahel and Horn of Africa regions, where the EU is now lavishing migration-related funds and political recognition on shady regimes and their frequently repressive security personnel. One of the countries targeted is Niger, which has become a laboratory for border security, with dire consequences.
  • The draconian law on migrant smuggling that the EU pushed has hit not just cross-border human smuggling but all sorts of cross-country transport, and it has involved Niger’s authorities selectively targeting members of certain ethnic groups. This risks fueling ethnic and political grievances while depriving northern Niger of its economic lifeblood, which includes not just irregular migration but also ordinary cross-border trade with, and travel to, Libya.
  • Amid growing popular discontent, and with an emboldened security state and a reeling economy, Niger is today a tinderbox thanks in no small part to the very security measures imposed by Europe.
  • Building on former Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi’s sordid deal-making with Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi a decade earlier, Italy and the EU have since 2015 tried to get around legal responsibilities at sea by funding and training a so-called Libyan Coast Guard, which in large part is simply a front for dolled-up militias.
  • the assumption of the EU’s strategic agenda, for one—that “fighting illegal migration” in this way is key to defending “the fundamental rights and freedoms of its citizens”—is plain wrong. A quick glance at the longer trend shows 2015—when an estimated 1 million refugees and migrants arrived in Europe by sea—to be an exception: Most immigrants enter Europe by air, and most sub-Saharan African migrants stay within their own region.
  • human mobility is in itself not a threat to anyone’s safety. In fact, the risks associated with its most chaotic manifestations are perversely caused in large part by the very security measures rolled out to stop it. But even these manmade risks pale in comparison with the risk of strengthening authoritarian regimes and repressive forces, while undermining the EU’s clout and values, in the name of European citizens’ security.
  • the EU must rekindle positive projects of collaboration and opportunity—including, not least, by working with the African Union on its incipient plans for boosting free movement across the continent. And it must ensure that the EU and member states don’t fuel instability and abuses, as has been the case with Libya since well before NATO’s disastrous intervention there.
  • migration toward the U.S.-Mexico border can be addressed by Washington through genuine attempts at reversing long-standing U.S. complicity in the instability racking Central America—both in terms of support to violent groups and abusive leaders and in the export of gang members into El Salvador. Similar reversals are needed in the drug war that is racking Mexico, where U.S. arms and incentives have helped fuel violence that has claimed thousands of lives.
  • Today’s tug of war between rights and security, or between open and closed borders, paints those in the former camp as naive idealists and those in the latter as hard-headed realists. However, this is a false dichotomy.
  • If policymakers and voters really want to be “realistic,” then it is essential to appreciate the full future costs of the path on which they are currently set and to acknowledge the dangerously perverse incentives for escalating violence, extortion, and authoritarian rule that it entrenches. Meanwhile, the fantasy of protecting Western democracies through the outsourcing of migration controls feeds the damaging delusion that these countries can seal themselves off from problems such as conflict and global warming to which they are themselves strongly contributing.
Ed Webb

Blurred Lines | Newlines Magazine - 0 views

  • Consistently, borders drawn in the immediate aftermath of the First World War took on a life of their own later in the 20th century. Political and military disputes gave lines that were initially intended to be quite permeable the fortified, disruptive character we associate with them today. Bad neighbors, it seems, make bad border regimes, and bad border regimes disrupt societies
  • The King-Crane commission report, despite presenting itself as a corrective to European imperialism, ultimately concluded that imperial rule could help smooth the challenges posed by self-determination and maintain smoother relations across borders
  • when it came to both trade and nomadic migration, the League assumed that political forces, not borders, would be the main factor in transforming traditional patterns of life. Forcible resettlement of nomads by both the Turkish and Iraqi states, they suggested, would curtail migration, while the construction of new railways and roads would transform economic patterns in the region. In other words, other aspects of the modern state would prove more disruptive than the borders that came with them
  • ...5 more annotations...
  • As Robert Fletcher concludes in his study of interwar borders, “Freedom of grazing and nomadic migration was written into all major boundary agreements in the 1920s.” Moreover, he argues, “These terms were assiduously observed by local frontier officials, even to the point of risking conflict with demands from the center.”
  • The Turkish-Syrian border experienced a similar transformation. The story is perhaps most familiar to Turkish audiences from the 1999 film Propaganda, which shows the disruptive impact of the new border that came into being with the Turkish annexation of Hatay in 1939. The film offers a dramatic parable of neighbors and lovers separated as their village is torn apart by an arbitrary and unnatural line. But in fact, after 1923, the Turkish-Syrian border was relatively open until the ongoing conflict over Hatay itself caused both sides to gradually close it.
  • In World War II, wartime security concerns led to new restrictions, with religious minorities in particular carefully monitored amidst accusations of espionage. Finally, in the 1980s, after Turkey’s Sept. 12 coup, the Turkish government for the first time laid mines along the border in order to prevent potential Syrian support for illegal left-wing groups in Turkey. Mining the border half a century after it was first drawn showed the deadly and disruptive result of Cold War politics, as well as Turkish-Syrian tensions arising from the Hatay dispute.
  • To blame Europeans for creating many of the Middle East’s problems yet simultaneously recognize that they presided over a period when you could simply board a bus from Haifa to Beirut is not necessarily paradoxical. Rather, it helps articulate the difficulty, and possibility, of resolving these problems today. We must constantly struggle to overcome the injustices around us while remaining constantly alert to the risk of creating new ones. Nationalism promised former Ottoman citizens self-rule, but instead brought them continued oppression in smaller states. Likewise, the resistance movements that proved necessary to overthrow European colonial rule carried with them the seeds of the conflicts that compounded some of colonialism’s worst features.
  • We don’t need to change the lines on the map to mitigate their human toll, whether by making them easier to cross or helping people fight for their rights within them.
Ed Webb

Opinion | Noah Feldman: To be a Jew today, after Oct. 7 - The Washington Post - 0 views

  • Progressive Judaism gives expression to what it considers the biblical values of justice, equality, freedom and the like. When the Holocaust and Israel became part of this social justice theology, both had to accord with it. The Holocaust became a moral lesson of Never Again on par with the Hebrews’ slavery in Egypt. Israel became a model of aspirational redemption, a role it could play only because it was possible to imagine the Jewish state as liberal and democratic.AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementIf Israel does not embody the values of liberal democracy, however, it cannot serve as a moral ideal for progressive Jews whose beliefs mandate universal human dignity and equality. In the starkest possible terms, a God of love and justice cannot bless or desire a state that does not seek to provide equality, dignity, or civil and political rights to many of the people living under its authority.
  • Today’s Israeli Zionists sometimes think and act as though American Jewish progressives owe Israel a duty of loyalty. For Jewish progressives, however, the higher duty of loyalty is owed to divine principles of love and justice.
  • Their great-grandparents, if they were Reform Jews, had the option of de-emphasizing Israel, almost to the point of ignoring Zionism. Before the state of Israel existed, they did not need to reconcile their beliefs about Judaism as a private, diasporic religion with the aspirations of Zionist Jews. Even after the state arose, it was possible for a time to treat it as separate from Jewish thought, practice and identity.The young progressives do not have this luxury. They inherited a form of Judaism that already incorporated Israel into its theology. They do not know how to be Jews without engaging Israel. Yet the content of their broader theology — their beliefs about Jewish morality and tikkun ‘olam — make support of Israel difficult or even repugnant.
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • young progressive Jewish critics of Israel feel an unstated connection to Israel even as they resist and reject it. They feel no commitment to the existing state. But they do feel a particular need to criticize Israel because it matters to their worldview as Jews. They cannot easily ignore Israel, as early Reform Jews ignored Zionism. So they engage Israel — through the vehicle of progressive critique. The phrase “not in our name” captures the sense of personal implication in Israel’s conduct that both marks and challenges their sense of connection.
  • progressive Judaism will have to work out its long-term attitude toward Israel. One possibility is for progressive Jews to tack away from the focus on Israel, to engage their Jewishness in other ways — familial, spiritual and personal. This would entail real theological change.But so would embracing simultaneously a God of loving social justice and a state that rejects liberal democracy.
Ed Webb

Opinion | In the Iran-U.S. shadow war, Biden scored an unheralded victory - The Washing... - 0 views

  • On Feb. 2, U.S. forces dropped more than 125 precision munitions on 85 targets in Iraq and Syria belonging to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force and its affiliated militia groups. The U.S. Air Force even deployed giant B-1 bombers that flew all the way from the continental United States. According to U.S. Central Command: “The facilities that were struck included command and control operations centers, intelligence centers, rockets, missiles, unmanned aerial vehicle storage, and logistics and munition supply chain facilities of militia groups and their IRGC sponsors who facilitated attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces.”Five days later, on Feb. 7, a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad killed a senior commander of Kataib Hezbollah, one of the most dangerous Iranian-backed terrorist groups. This demonstrated not only how precise U.S. weapons systems are but also how successful U.S. intelligence was in tracking the movements of senior Iranian operatives.AdvertisementStory continues below advertisementThe clear message was that other Iranian commanders would be next if they didn’t knock off their attacks against U.S. troops. And guess what? Iran did stop. Things could change at any moment, but a senior U.S. defense official told me last week that there hasn’t been an Iranian-directed attack against a U.S. military base in either Syria or Iraq since Feb. 4. By contrast, there were at least 170 such attacks between Oct. 7 and Feb. 4.
  • “We’re not under any illusions,” the defense official told me. “Iran continues to pose a serious threat to the United States and our interests in the region. Under certain circumstances, attacks could restart, but we demonstrated that we’re willing and able to defend our forces.”
  • there is no way for Washington to overthrow the Iranian regime without risking becoming embroiled in another Iraq- or Afghanistan-style quagmire
  • ...1 more annotation...
  • while the United States has convinced Iran to back off, at least a bit, in Syria and Iraq, it hasn’t had any such success with the Houthis
Ed Webb

Seven Ways to Steady a Tunisia under New Attack | Crisis Group - 0 views

  • The Ben Guerdane attack was repulsed by security forces but marks a new departure. It is unprecedented since the “Gafsa coup” of 27 January 1980, when a raiding party armed by Libya and supported by Algerian military intelligence took control of the central Tunisian city of Gafsa and called for a popular revolt
  • It was an attempt at a local insurrection, coordinated by some 50 members of IS sleeper cells in Ben Guerdane
  • The mental geography espoused by IS does not adhere to the borders established in North Africa in the twentieth century. Experts on the group say IS members dream of re-establishing the historic borders of the Aghabid dynasty (800-901), which ruled a semi-independent emirate roughly based on the ancient Roman province of Africa Proconsularis, including Tripolitania (western Libya), most of modern day Tunisia and the eastern half of Algeria. In this vision, Ben Guerdane is a strategic nexus point of a “liberated” zone that would tie south-eastern Tunisia to western Libya. The city’s business life has long been dominated by a parallel economy based on an informal foreign currency exchange market and smuggling; it could become a convergence point between jihadis and regional criminal networks.
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • Tunisia will have to do more to preserve the culture of compromise and civil society inclusion in 2013-14
  • The Tunisia-Libya border cannot be secured without the close collaboration of the local population, especially the smuggling cartels operating in the area. Trying to combat these at the same time as jihadis would dissipate energy and likely feed local resentment of the state, since so much of the local economy depends on this smuggling. In order to secure their cooperation, Crisis Group has argued that the government should consider the creation of free trade zones at the border that would legitimise at least part of the border trade.
Ed Webb

Egypt defends shootings along Israel border - Yahoo! News - 0 views

  • Hundreds of Africans seeking political asylum or jobs in relatively prosperous Israel try to sneak across the border each year. Amnesty International says Egyptian border guards have fatally shot nearly 40 migrants trying to do so since the start of 2008. The London-based rights group and others have criticized Egypt for failing to rein its border guards or investigate the recurrent cases. Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said the use of force is necessary for Egypt's security in a "sensitive" area where criminal activities — including drug and weapons smuggling — are common.
Ed Webb

The Israel-Hezbollah Channel - 0 views

  • Israel and Lebanon have a long history of tension: officially, they have been at war without interruption since 1948, and they have not agreed on an officially demarcated border—nor, after several wars, have they formally agreed to a cease-fire. Nevertheless, a strange forum for conflict management has grown up between them. Since 2006, when UNIFIL was reauthorized by UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1701, peacekeepers have presided over more than one hundred tripartite meetings, which bring together officers from Israel, Lebanon, and UNIFIL to manage disputes and technical issues along the Blue Line.5 The primary belligerents along the border are Hezbollah and the Israeli military, but the Lebanese military serves as Hezbollah’s interlocutors in what has become known as the Tripartite Process.
  • In a region rife with standing conflicts between belligerents who have little or no direct channels of communication, UNIFIL provides a rare example of conflict management in an extremely unstable and opaque environment. Its track record offers some suggestions of promising approaches to manage and mitigate conflict, while avoiding unwanted escalation. But it also offers stark warnings of the limitations of a narrow and indirect approach in the absence of enduring cease-fires, treaties, or other more robust conflict-resolution mechanisms
  • its newly muscular force with strong international political backing created perhaps the only sustained, regular, and efficacious channel of communications between Middle East belligerents in an active conflict
  • ...29 more annotations...
  • UNIFIL makes a precarious model for conflict management. Despite its successes, both Israel and Hezbollah routinely attack UNIFIL’s legitimacy in public. The population of southern Lebanon expresses widespread skepticism about the peacekeeping mission’s intentions and loyalties, despite the benefits they reap from UNIFIL, which not only reduces conflict but serves as the area’s largest employer.11 Many residents of southern Lebanon and supporters of Hezbollah believe that UNIFIL serves Israeli and American interests and is unlikely to act to protect civilians during future conflicts
  • The original UNIFIL mission deployed in 1978 with three missions: to confirm Israel’s withdrawal from southern Lebanon, to restore “international peace and security,” and to restore the authority of the government of Lebanon in the border region. None of these missions were achieved. Israel never fully withdrew, and in 1982 extended its occupation deeper into Lebanese territory. On the Lebanese side, state authority no longer existed, as the nation was riven by the 1975–90 civil war. A quisling militia eventually known as the South Lebanon Army served as an Israeli proxy.13 Hezbollah formed in 1982 in response to the Israeli occupation, and over the following decade grew into the dominant local force fighting Israel. Lebanon’s national army was reconstituted after the Taif Agreement of 1989 paved the way for an end to the country’s civil war. Even as other militias disbanded or had their fighters absorbed into the regular military, Hezbollah alone maintained an autonomous militia. Israel still occupied about one-tenth of Lebanon’s territory, along the southern border, and Hezbollah continued to lead the armed resistance. In 2000, Israel finally withdrew from most of Lebanese territory, but continued to occupy high ground on the mountain of Jabal al-Sheikh, known as Shebaa Farms, as well as the village of Ghajar, which contains critical water sources.14 Later, it also claimed some Lebanese territorial waters in an area where underwater oil and gas exploration is underway.15 Citing Israel’s continuing occupation, as well as the Israeli air force’s daily overflights of Lebanon, Hezbollah spurned calls from some of its Lebanese rivals to disarm or integrate into the national army.16 Tensions regularly flared along the border, and finally boiled over into war in July 2006.
  • Initially, Hezbollah preferred a UN resolution that would leave it sovereign in southern Lebanon. But Lebanon’s government, and significant quarters of Lebanese public opinion, wanted to reassert state sovereignty in the zone of southern Lebanon that hitherto had been solely under Hezbollah’s control. Israel and the United States, by contrast, entered the cease-fire negotiations with unrealistic hopes that they could achieve through peacekeeping what they had failed to do through violence: disarm Hezbollah
  • UNSCR 1701, which led to a cessation of hostilities on August 14, 2006
  • Immediately upon implementing the cease-fire, UNIFIL peacekeepers initiated a process that was not specified in the new mandate but which has become, in the eleven years since the cessation of hostilities until the time of this writing, the most successful element of the mission: the standing, direct negotiations between the Israeli and Lebanese militaries, under UN auspices
  • this somewhat informal mechanism has now met more than one hundred times without a single walkout from either side. It appears to be the only place where Israeli and Lebanese officials formally and directly interact
  • In the context of the Middle East, this forum is especially remarkable. Most of the region’s running conflicts lack even tactical communication between adversaries. Relatively straightforward arrangements such as temporary cease-fires, prisoner exchanges, or safe passage for civilians have been tortuous and at times virtually impossible in regional conflicts. Belligerents often refuse to recognize each other even on a most basic level. If Israel and Lebanon (and, by extension, Hezbollah) have managed to build a rudimentary channel despite their history and the political obstacles to communication, then perhaps—using a similar approach—other belligerents in the region might also inaugurate conflict-­management channels or CBMs.
  • Its approximately 10,500 troops generate economic activity for southern Lebanon; after the Lebanese government, UNIFIL is the largest employer in the area.
  • Hezbollah is a regional military power, operating in tandem with Iran as infantry or trainers in Iraq, Yemen, and possibly elsewhere. In Syria, Hezbollah has played perhaps the most critical military role on the government’s side. Inside Lebanon, Hezbollah has moved from being a strong faction to being the strongest, today holding the balance of power domestically, with the ability to dominate the complex political negotiations that determine who holds the presidency. In 2013, the European Union as a whole joined Israel, the United States, and some individual European governments in listing Hezbollah’s “armed wing” as a terrorist group. (Hezbollah itself denies it has any separate armed wing, making such a designation tantamount to naming the entire organization.)
  • UNIFIL’s best direct relationship is with the Lebanese Army. It cannot officially communicate with Hezbollah, and its channels to the Israeli military, while stronger than before 2006, are still limited
  • On one hand, Hezbollah and Israel have both benefited from UNIFIL’s core functions: development projects for poor denizens of the border region; demarcation of the Blue Line; deconfliction, de-escalation, conflict management, and communication between belligerents; intelligence gathering; and a unique forum in which armies from two nations at war routinely meet for direct talks and resolve technical issues even as the political conflict between their governments continues unabated. On the other hand, both belligerents routinely have undermined UNIFIL, attacking its legitimacy and performance in public forums while praising it in private; engaging in prohibited military operations; and refusing to extend any political support to the negotiations that they joined at a military level.
  • “It’s a conflict-management institution, not a conflict-resolution institution,” observed Timur Goksel, a UNIFIL veteran who worked with the mission over the course of two decades and has been based in both Israel and Lebanon. “It offers adversaries a way out. They can use UNIFIL as an excuse. It opens a way out of major conflict. This is what UNIFIL is all about.”
  • The disputed village of Ghajar, which has long been a flashpoint between the two sides, exemplifies the limits of the existing channels of communication and negotiation. The Blue Line passes directly through the village. Its inhabitants are Alawites who previously lived under Syrian rule on territory that today is claimed by Lebanon.36 Israel currently controls the entire village. Israeli presence in the northern half of Ghajar entails a permanent violation of the Blue Line. The situation is further complicated by the lack of pressure from the village’s residents, who appear content to operate as part of Israel. Israel has committed in principle to withdrawing from the northern portion of the village, but the details of how to do that have eluded all parties.37
  • Hezbollah operates in southern Lebanon with full independence. It might defer to the Lebanese Army or UNIFIL in order to avoid embarrassment or minor mishaps, but it can freely circumvent even the most symbolic of checks
  • Hezbollah continues to hold sovereign power of arms and operates without limitation from the government of Lebanon, UNIFIL, or any other force
  • Hezbollah has greatly increased its military capacity since joining the Syrian war as a pivotal combatant in 2012. The Lebanese nonstate actor has emerged as the premier urban combat and infantry force on the side of the Syrian government. It has engaged in wide-scale maneuver warfare, and has engaged in integrated warfare, involving air force support, with professional forces from Iran, Russia, and Syria. Hezbollah has helped form new militias and has led coordinated assaults with militia support involving groups and fighters from Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere.45 Reports suggest that Hezbollah has also acquired a new arsenal of long-range missiles and land-to-sea missiles, which greatly increases its deterrent capacity against Israel and could enable it to threaten more Israeli targets than it could in 2006
  • With the Syrian war potentially entering a closing phase, from which Hezbollah and the Syrian government will emerge victorious, several analysts have refocused their attention on the latent Israel-Hezbollah conflict
  • Israel and Lebanon are formally still at war, and no closer to a permanent cease-fire than they were when UNSCR 1701 came into force on August 14, 2006. Whereas the Israeli government and military are unitary actors on one side of the Blue Line, the other side has a bedeviling array of potential belligerents with competing interests. These possible participants include but are not limited to Hezbollah, the Lebanese government, Palestinian factions, the Syrian government, and possibly some Syrian rebel factions, although most Syrian rebels in the Golan have either cooperated with Israel or remained neutral. UNIFIL can call the Lebanese Army to settle a crisis, but then must rely on the Lebanese Army, itself strained by pressures stemming from the war in Syria, to make effective contact with other players
  • Whether technical talks and a bare-bones conflict-management channel can, in fact, shift the political opportunities is precisely the question raised by UNIFIL’s record since 2006. UNIFIL’s example suggests that military-military talks have utility but are unlikely to drive political resolution. The UNIFIL model may be a promising approach for conflicts between belligerents with strained or nonexistent diplomatic relations, but it is a model for managing conflict and avoiding unintended escalations, not for resolving conflict and reversing escalations that are intentional or are based on mistrust and miscalculation
  • “It’s the only mission that speaks to two countries that are still at war,” noted one UNIFIL official. “This works if parties don’t want to go to war. It can’t prevent a war from happening.”
  • Unless a government or nonstate actor has openly and expressly deputized a military channel to negotiate a political resolution, there is no evidence that technical talks will prompt a political dialogue—simply because some participants hope for it to do so—much less a resolution
  • UNIFIL’s record as an arbiter or honest broker does not appear to have changed any policy position on the part of Hezbollah or the government of Israel. A technical channel cannot create a new political climate
  • UNIFIL’s conflict-management paradigm may, paradoxically, increase risks by leaving political problems unresolved. “There is no doubt the UNIFIL mission has acted as shock absorber for local tensions and maintained a negative peace, that is, it has prevented the escalation of minor incidents into large-scale conflict,” the researcher Vanessa Newby concluded after conducting fifty interviews of UNIFIL officials and others who deal with the mission.54 “But its presence appears to be sustaining the conditions of conflict more than it is resolving them.”
  • successfully bolstered the Lebanese military’s function and standing as a state institution
  • If either Hezbollah or Israel shifted its cost-benefit calculus and decided it was more preferable to go to war than maintain the status quo (as Israel had in advance of the summer of 2006), then UNIFIL’s mechanisms would provide almost no peacemaking or conflict-avoidance potential
  • Many of the Middle East’s conflict areas are plagued with similar problems and thus are ripe for UNIFIL-like channels, managed by neutral third parties that can avoid accidental escalations, act as a clearing house for airing grievances and seeking technical solutions to relatively small technical problems, and potentially manage aspects of open conflict if it emerges. Such channels could pave the way for delivering humanitarian aid in Yemen or exchanging prisoners in Syria. The model is for a standing body that is not ad hoc nor of limited duration, and thus can establish trust over multiple iterations of dialogue and conflict management.
  • the UNIFIL case illustrates the broader problem with applying a military (or security, or conflict-management) paradigm to inherently political problems. Such a forum can be an effective long-term intermediary, but only for tactical matters. The conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is a political one
  • The field of critical security studies has pushed the field of academic political science to incorporate political concerns into its definition of security, but minimized the hard security concerns that make life dangerous in conflict zones.55 The balance of security and politics is not merely a theoretical concern; it drives the persistence of deadly conflict in the Middle East. Both hard security and political grievance must be addressed, even if unfairly, in order to resolve a conflict. A similar dynamic shapes the need to address process as well as policy. A satisfactory forum is required for belligerents to talk at all. Forums like UNIFIL, or the Madrid Peace Conference (where parties to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict met in 1991), create the space and relationships that are a precondition for any substantial negotiation. Yet process does not suffice if no common policy framework can be reached on the central matters of dispute. No amount of tripartite meetings at the UNIFIL headquarters will compel the political leadership in Israel or Hezbollah to reformulate their core goals
  • The Middle East needs more UNIFILs, but it is crucial to keep in mind the limitations of a conflict-management approach if such forums are to be useful for advancing long-term security. They are no substitute for politics.
Ed Webb

The ISIS Ambassador to Turkey - Homeland Security Today - 1 views

  • the ISIS military and weapons training and the ISIS “obligatory shariah training” in which new male recruits are taught the ISIS takfir ideology, an ideology that justifies use of violence against those considered heretics or unbelievers, including against fellow Muslims.
  • Abu Mansour explains the format and nature of intake forms that were filled out at the ISIS reception area. “It was a form about experience, countries you visited, etc. I don’t remember it very well, but it was very detailed,” he explains. He further continues, “There were several people who came with higher education. We wrote his discipline, his studies, his languages. These things were recorded on my forms.” According to Abu Mansour, job placements occurred after another intake took place inside the training camps. “At those places, there were very trusted people running the ISIS offices of recruiting, so if you say you’re an engineer, they put you to that kind of job. It was an office of human resources management,” he states, adding, “but of course different, because in ours we also had, ‘I want to be a martyr.’
  • According to Abu Mansour, the numbers of would-be “martyrs” went down as the Caliphate was in fact established. “It started to go down as Raqqa stabilized. [Then,] most came simply to live. It was a small ratio of those who came to martyr themselves.” Adhering to his uncanny ability to remember exact recruiting figures, he explains, “Before 2014, 50 percent came to martyr themselves. Then it went under 20 percent.”
  • ...19 more annotations...
  • “There were some agreements and understandings between the Turkish intelligence and ISIS emni about the border gates, for the people who got injured,” Abu Mansour continues. “I had direct meeting with the MIT [the Turkish National Intelligence Organization], many meetings with them.”
  • The benefit to Turkey, according to Abu Mansour, was that “we are in the border area and Turkey wants to control its borders – to control Northern Syria. Actually they had ambitions not only for controlling the Kurds. They wanted all the north, from Kessab (the most northern point of Syria) to Mosul.”
  • When he mentions meeting Turkish government officials in Ankara, the capital of Turkey, we suddenly upgrade him in our minds to an ISIS ambassador, which is indeed how he was functioning. “I passed the borders and they let me pass. [At the border,] the Turks always sent me a car and I’m protected. A team of two to three people from our side were with me. I was in charge of our team most of the time.”
  • we learn that his “diplomatic” reach on behalf of ISIS extended even to the president of Turkey himself. “I was about to meet him but I did not. One of his intelligence officers said Erdogan wants to see you privately but it didn’t happen.”
  • “There were teams. Some represent the Turkish intel, some represent the Turkish Army. There were teams from 3-5 different groups. Most meetings were in Turkey in military posts or their offices. It depended on the issue. Sometimes we meet each week. It depends on what was going on. Most of the meetings were close to the borders, some in Ankara, some in Gaziantep.”
  • In our meetings, we talked about re-establishing the Ottoman Empire. This was the vision of Turkey.
  • “I cannot say that this is the vision of the whole Turkish government. Many are against interfering to bring this project to reality. They say we will try to defeat the PKK and Kurds. We are afraid of the union between Kurds and that they may make a Kurdish state, but they also expanded to Aleppo,” he adds regarding Turkish aspirations inside Syria.
  • “It’s a big benefit to Dawlah, as they could protect our back. Approximately 300 km of our border is with them. Turkey is considered a road for us for medications, food – so many things enter in the name of aid. The gates were open.”
  • “No one can accuse the Turkish government that they gave us weapons, because we got weapons from different sources. Actually, we didn’t need to get weapons from Turkey,” he explains, noting that the Free Syrian Army soldiers would trade their weapons for a pack of cigarettes. “Anti-government Syrian people provided us with weapons; many mafias and groups traded weapons to us.”
  • “We negotiated to send our fighters to the hospitals [in Turkey]. There was facilitation – they didn’t look at the passports of those coming for treatment. It was always an open gate. If we had an ambulance we could cross without question. We could cross [into Turkey] at many places. They don’t ask about official identities. We just have to let them know.”
  • “Dawlah [ISIS] paid for the treatments, but some Turkish public hospitals took these fighters for free. It was not only for our fighters but also for the victims of bombings. I don’t know how many were treated in Turkey, but it was routine,” Abu Mansour explains, adding that it was not his area, so he doesn’t have the figures on that. “I just know this agreement to open the gates for our wounded and that there were ambulances sent for them. It was a ‘state-to-state’ agreement regarding our wounded. I negotiated these agreements. For the wounded, medical and other supplies to pass, and I negotiated about water also, the Euphrates.”
  • “Actually, we [Syria] had an agreement with Turkey for 400 cubic meters per second [of water] into Syria. After the revolution, they started to decrease the quantity of water to 150 cubic meters per second. After our negotiations [in 2014] it returned to 400. We needed it for electrical power and as a vital source of living. Even water we cannot keep it, it passes to Iraq also,” he explains. “But the importance of water [cannot be understated]. We don’t need to generate electricity through the dams. We could have another source [i.e. petrol], but we need water for farming. There are three dams. The biggest is Tabqa dam. Actually, at 150 cubic meters, we could generate some electricity, but if the level of the lake reached 5 meters it would not work.”
  • When asked what ISIS gave in return for water, he answers, “There is the most important benefit – their country will be safe and stable.” We ask if he means that ISIS agreed not to attack inside Turkey.“In negotiations I could not say I would attack Turkey. This is the language of gangs, but I would say we will try to keep Turkey from the field battle, we will not see Turkey as an enemy. They understood what we are talking about. We said many times, ‘You are not our enemy and not our friend.’”
  • “Most of the Syrian oil was going to Turkey, and just small amounts went to the Bashar regime.”
  • “We didn’t ask ransom for the consul employees, we asked for our prisoners. MIT knows their names.” For the consul employees, “approximately 500 prisoners were released from Turkey, and they came back to Dawlah,”
  • “[In 2014,] they opened some legal gates under the eye of Turkish intel that our people went in and out through,” Abu Mansour explains. “But, entry into Syria was easier than return to Turkey. Turkey controlled the movements.”
  • “Turkey wanted us to move 10 km back from the borders so the danger from Turkey is removed. They wanted it to be under control of Turkey and no aviation above it. This was for an area 60 km long and 10 km wide.”
  • Abu Mansour’s journey started in Morocco when he was a young man and where he first watched the 9/11 events from afar and suddenly began to feel that if he wasn’t with them, as U.S. President Bush stated, he was against them – that Muslims in the world needed to unite and resist dictators and world powers, like the U.S.-led coalition that invaded foreign countries. “After I heard George Bush say it’s you are with us or against us – when I heard that [and saw his invasion of Iraq] I searched for who stands up for the Muslims.”
  • We were searching for the identity of Muslims, to protect Muslims and to be freed to do our Islamic duties. There was no desire to fight, no tendency to kill or revenge, just to free ourselves from dictators. I use the weapon to prevent harm by others and all that is taken by force should be regained by force,” he explains. “All these government regimes, we were forced to follow, we didn’t chose them.”
Ed Webb

Kuwait expresses dismay to U.N. over Iraqis' border protest | Reuters - 0 views

  • Iraq formally accepted a U.N.-demarcated border line in 1994 after the first Gulf War - when Iraqi strongman Saddam sent his troops into Kuwait in 1990 and was forced out by a U.S.-led coalition.But many Iraqis in the area remain opposed to it, saying the line robbed them of property and territory.Iraqi police sources said the protesting crowd hurled stones at Iraqi security forces in the border town of Um Qasr on Monday, prompting the security forces to fire in the air to disperse them. The unrest was triggered by border signs maintenance work nearby, they said.Kuwaiti border guards, hearing the gunshots and believing they were being targeted, opened fire at Iraqi security forces in response, Kuwaiti media reported. There were no reports of casualties on either side.
  • Leaders of both oil-producing countries have been working to improve ties in the past year, despite public wariness. The nations came to an agreement over Gulf War-era debts last year.
Bertha Flores

Freeman's Speech - 0 views

  • disinterested
    • Ed Webb
       
      He means 'uninterested,' I think
  • It will be held under the auspices of an American president who was publicly humiliated by Israel’s prime minister on the issue that is at the center of the Israel-Palestine dispute — Israel’s continuing seizure and colonization of Arab land
  • Peace is a pattern of stability acceptable to those with the capacity to disturb it by violence. It is almost impossible to impose. It cannot become a reality, still less be sustained, if those who must accept it are excluded from it. This reality directs our attention to who is not at this gathering in Washington and what must be done to remedy the problems these absences create.
  • ...46 more annotations...
  • Must Arabs really embrace Zionism before Israel can cease expansion and accept peace?
  • a longstanding American habit of treating Arab concerns about Israel as a form of anti-Semitism and tuning them out. Instead of hearing out and addressing Arab views, U.S. peace processors have repeatedly focused on soliciting Arab acts of kindness toward Israel. They argue that gestures of acceptance can help Israelis overcome their Holocaust-inspired political neuroses and take risks for peace.
  • Arabic has two quite different words that are both translated as “negotiation,” making a distinction that doesn’t exist in either English or Hebrew. One word, “musaawama,” refers to the no-holds-barred bargaining process that takes place in bazaars between strangers who may never see each other again and who therefore feel no obligation not to scam each other. Another, “mufaawadhat,” describes the dignified formal discussions about matters of honor and high principle that take place on a basis of mutual respect and equality between statesmen who seek a continuing relationship.Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s travel to Jerusalem was a grand act of statesmanship to initiate a process of mufaawadhat — relationship-building between leaders and their polities. So was the Arab peace initiative of 2002. It called for a response in kind.
  • I cite this not to suggest that non-Arabs should adopt Arabic canons of thought, but to make a point about diplomatic effectiveness. To move a negotiating partner in a desired direction, one must understand how that partner understands things and help him to see a way forward that will bring him to an end he has been persuaded to want. One of the reasons we can't seem to move things as we desire in the Middle East is that we don’t make much effort to understand how others reason and how they rank their interests. In the case of the Israel-Palestine conundrum, we Americans are long on empathy and expertise about Israel and very, very short on these for the various Arab parties. The essential militarism of U.S. policies in the Middle East adds to our difficulties. We have become skilled at killing Arabs. We have forgotten how to listen to them or persuade them.
  • In foreign affairs, interests are the measure of all things. My assumption is that Americans and Norwegians, indeed Europeans in general, share common interests that require peace in the Holy Land. To my mind, these interests include — but are, of course, not limited to — gaining security and acceptance for a democratic state of Israel; eliminating the gross injustices and daily humiliations that foster Arab terrorism against Israel and its foreign allies and supporters, as well as friendly Arab regimes; and reversing the global spread of religious strife and prejudice, including, very likely, a revival of anti-Semitism in the West if current trends are not arrested. None of these aspirations can be fulfilled without an end to the Israeli occupation and freedom for Palestinians.
  • The Ottoman Turks were careful to ensure freedom of access for worship to adherents of the three Abrahamic faiths when they administered the city. It is an interest that Jews, Christians, and Muslims share.
  • pathologies of political life in the United States that paralyze the American diplomatic imagination. Tomorrow’s meeting may well demonstrate that, the election of Barack Obama notwithstanding, the United States is still unfit to manage the achievement of peace between Israel and the Arabs.
  • the American monopoly on the management of the search for peace in Palestine remains unchallenged. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia — once a contender for countervailing influence in the region — has lapsed into impotence. The former colonial powers of the European Union, having earlier laid the basis for conflict in the region, have largely sat on their hands while wringing them, content to let America take the lead. China, India, and other Asian powers have prudently kept their political and military distance. In the region itself, Iran has postured and exploited the Palestinian cause without doing anything to advance it. Until recently, Turkey remained aloof.
  • the United States has been obsessed with process rather than substance. It has failed to involve parties who are essential to peace. It has acted on Israel’s behalf to preempt rather than enlist international and regional support for peace. It has defined the issues in ways that preclude rather than promote progress. Its concept of a “peace process” has therefore become the handmaiden of Israeli expansionism rather than a driver for peace. There are alternatives to tomorrow’s diplomatic peace pageant on the Potomac. And, as Norway has shown, there is a role for powers other than America in crafting peace in the Holy Land.
  • Few doubt Mr. Obama’s sincerity. Yet none of his initiatives has led to policy change anyone can detect, let alone believe in.
  • t. For the most part, Arab leaders have timorously demanded that America solve the Israel-Palestine problem for them, while obsequiously courting American protection against Israel, each other, Iran, and — in some cases — their own increasingly frustrated and angry subjects and citizens.
  • the Obama administration has engaged the same aging impresarios who staged all the previously failed “peace processes” to produce and direct this one with no agreed script. The last time these guys staged such an ill-prepared meeting, at Camp David in 2000, it cost both heads of delegation, Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat, their political authority. It led not to peace but to escalating violence. The parties are showing up this time to minimize President Obama’s political embarrassment in advance of midterm elections in the United States, not to address his agenda — still less to address each other’s agendas. These are indeed difficulties. But the problems with this latest — and possibly final — iteration of the perpetually ineffectual “peace process” are more fundamental.
  • The Mahmoud Abbas administration retains power by grace of the Israeli occupation authorities and the United States, which prefer it to the government empowered by the Palestinian people at the polls. Mr. Abbas’s constitutional term of office has long since expired. He presides over a parliament whose most influential members are locked up in Israeli jails. It is not clear for whom he, his faction, or his administration can now speak.
  • American policies in the Middle East, with an emphasis on the prospects for peace in the Holy Land
  • Yet, as I will argue,  the United States has been obsessed with process rather than substance. It has failed to involve parties who are essential to peace. It has acted on Israel’s behalf to preempt rather than enlist international and regional support for peace. It has defined the issues in ways that preclude rather than promote progress. Its concept of a “peace process” has therefore become the handmaiden of Israeli expansionism rather than a driver for peace. There are alternatives to tomorrow’s diplomatic peace pageant on the Potomac. And, as Norway has shown, there is a role for powers other than America in crafting peace in the Holy Land.
  • Yet, as I will argue,   the United States has been obsessed with process rather than substance. It has failed to involve parties who are essential to peace. It has acted on Israel’s behalf to preempt rather than enlist international and regional support for peace. It has defined the issues in ways that preclude rather than promote progress. Its concept of a “peace process” has therefore become the handmaiden of Israeli expansionism rather than a driver for peace. There are alternatives to tomorrow’s diplomatic peace pageant on the Potomac. And, as Norway has shown, there is a role for powers other than America in crafting peace in the Holy Land.
  • Yet, as I will argue,   the United States has been obsessed with process rather than substance. It has failed to involve parties who are essential to peace. It has acted on Israel’s behalf to preempt rather than enlist international and regional support for peace. It has defined the issues in ways that preclude rather than promote progress. Its concept of a “peace process” has therefore become the handmaiden of Israeli expansionism rather than a driver for peace. There are alternatives to tomorrow’s diplomatic peace pageant on the Potomac. And, as Norway has shown, there is a role for powers other than America in crafting peace in the Holy Land
  • The resentment of mostly Muslim Arabs at their governing elites’ failure to meet these standards generates sympathy for terrorism directed not just at Israel but at both the United States and Arab governments associated with it
  • Arab governments willing to overlook American contributions to Muslim suffering
  • suspending its efforts to make peace in the Holy Land
  • invading and occupying Afghanistan and Iraq
  • It has caused a growing majority of the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims to see the United States as a menace to their faith, their way of life, their homelands, and their personal security
  • But I do think it worthwhile briefly to examine some of the changes in the situation that ensure that many policies that once helped us to get by in the Middle East will no longer do this
  • “peace process,”
  • The perpetual processing of peace without the requirement to produce it has been especially appreciated by Israeli leaders
  • Palestinian leaders with legitimacy problems have also had reason to collaborate in the search for a “peace process
  • Israeli backing these leaders need to retain their status in the occupied territories. It ensures that they have media access and high-level visiting rights in Washington. Meanwhile, for American leaders, engagement in some sort of Middle East “peace process” has been essential to credibility in the Arab and Islamic worlds, as well as with the ever-generous American Jewish community.
  • “The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.”
  • It has no interest in trading land it covets for a peace that might thwart further territorial expansion
  • Obviously, the party that won the democratically expressed mandate of the Palestinian people to represent them — Hamas — is not there
  • “peace process” is just another in a long series of public entertainments for the American electorate and also a lack of confidence in the authenticity of the Palestinian delegation
  • the Arab peace initiative of 2002. This offered normalization of relations with the Jewish state, should Israel make peace with the Palestinians.
  • But asking them even implicitly to agree that the forcible eviction of Palestinian Arabs was a morally appropriate means to this end is both a nonstarter and seriously off-putting
  • has been met with incredulity
  • Only a peace process that is protected from Israel’s ability to manipulate American politics can succeed.
  • establishing internationally recognized borders for Israel, securing freedom for the Palestinians, and ending the stimulus to terrorism in the region and beyond it that strife in the Holy Land entails
  • First, get behind the Arab peace initiative.
  • Second, help create a Palestinian partner for peace
  • Third, reaffirm and enforce international law
  • American diplomacy on behalf of the Jewish state has silenced the collective voice of the international communit
  • When one side to a dispute is routinely exempted from principles, all exempt themselves, and the law of the jungle prevails
  • Fourth, set a deadline linked to an ultimatum
  • The two-state solution
  • That is why the question of whether there is a basis for expanded diplomatic cooperation between Europeans and Arabs is such a timely one
  • Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has made inter-faith dialogue and the promotion of religious tolerance a main focus of his domestic and international policy
  • President Obama’s inability to break this pattern must be an enormous personal disappointment to him. He came into office committed to crafting a new relationship with the Arab and Muslim worlds. His first interview with the international media was with Arab satellite television. He reached out publicly and privately to Iran. He addressed the Turkish parliament with persuasive empathy. He traveled to a great center of Islamic learning in Cairo to deliver a remarkably eloquent message of conciliation to Muslims everywhere. He made it clear that he understood the centrality of injustices in the Holy Land to Muslim estrangement from the West. He promised a responsible withdrawal from Iraq and a judicious recrafting of strategy in Afghanistan.  Few doubt Mr. Obama’s sincerity. Yet none of his initiatives has led to policy change anyone can detect, let alone believe in.
Ed Webb

Italy Caused Chaos in Libya by Mismanaging Migration Policy - 0 views

  • Over three days in May 2017, the Italian secret service—masquerading as a humanitarian nongovernmental organization—summoned to Rome two dozen delegates from the southern edge of the Sahara desert. The pretext was to promote a peace deal for their war-torn region; the real goal was to bring them on board with an Italian plan to curb migration.
  • the pitfalls of a foreign policy that conflates peace and development with migration control
  • The Tuareg, the Tebu, and the Awlad Suleiman—the groups represented at the summit—are the gatekeepers of the desert crossed by those hoping to reach the Libyan coast to embark on a sea journey to Europe.
  • ...24 more annotations...
  • Migration, however, was never much of a concern for the inhabitants of the Sahara. For the most part, they move freely across borders, and their economies depend heavily on the transit of people and goods.
  • What was meant to be “A dialogue on peace, development, security and human rights in the trans-border regions of Libya, Chad, and Niger,” according to the government’s agenda, became a failed attempt to co-opt some of the poorest people on the planet in a fight against migration from which they had little to gain.
  • The interior ministers of the three countries attended the gathering, as well as one vice president of the GNA—hardly a typical NGO summit. The summit was ostensibly organized by the Ara Pacis Initiative, a group that claims to be an “international not for profit organization based in Rome, dedicated to the human dimension of peace.” Its peculiar inspiration, according to its website, is the altar of peace built in Rome by emperor Augustus. The founder and sole active member of Ara Pacis is Maria Nicoletta Gaida, an Italian American former actress with little background in the humanitarian sector
  • The mysterious man with the ponytail started off with an offer meant to capture the goodwill of his audience: “We will ask for Italy’s commitment to immediately establish cultural identity centers for the trans-border tribes,” he said. Italy would staff these centers with teachers “that will keep alive the history and the culture of these great people.” He also promised health clinics connected via webcam to Italian hospitals. “These are small things,” he said, “for the seed from which the plant grows is always small.”
  • “After peace,” he said, “comes security and development.” The delegates should “deal with the issue of immigration and terrorism through border control mechanisms based on the optimization of reception centers that already exist in your countries.”
  • “My minister is ready to support any of your requests,” he said at one point. In return, he asked for the tribes’ backing in curbing migration: That would “give him the strength to go to Europe and defeat our enemies,” he said, without clarifying who those enemies might be.
  • At roughly the same time as the meeting near Rome, the Italian intelligence services reportedly brokered a multimillion-euro payment to Libyan militias involved in trafficking to enlist them as a coast guard force, a claim that Italy denies.
  • The International Organization for Migration manages one key pillar of the EU’s migration policy in Libya, namely the so-called voluntary repatriation of stranded migrants.
  • these agencies have repeatedly proved useless when it comes to defending the human rights of migrants in Libya. Indeed, the Associated Press revealed last month that the EU’s humanitarian spending has often been diverted to militias and traffickers—sometimes with the knowledge of U.N. officials.
  • Sergio De Caprio, known by the public as Capitano Ultimo, became a legend in Italy after arresting the godfather of the Sicilian mafia Totò Riina in 1993. His exploits inspired novels and a TV series. In 2016 and 2017, he was transferred to the secret service. While his anti-mafia record is legendary, his foreign-policy credentials are unknown. His appointment affirmed the Italian government’s belief that migration is essentially a criminal problem, and that smuggling rings can be fought in the same way as mafia organizations.
  • “The social components of southern Libya are many more than just Awlad Suleiman, Tebu, and Tuaregs,” he argued. Moreover, he said, “their representatives know their identity and history well and are perfectly able to preserve their traditions.”
  • “Rather than cultural centers,” he said, “let’s open factories, so that the youth can have a hope, an alternative to joining criminal gangs.”
  • Although the south of the Sahara is rich in oil, gold, and uranium, local populations suffer abject poverty. The Saharan delegates laid out their priorities: Negotiating peace was their main aim—and supposedly the reason they had flown all the way to Rome. They saw Italy as having a European mandate to mediate peace in Libya by virtue of its old colonial ties. But still the war raged on
  • if a border force was what Europe really wanted, the tribes could welcome military equipment. The United Arab Emirates, the Tuareg leader reminded De Caprio, had lent their helicopters and pilots for border patrol after just one meeting, and this was already their fifth visit to Italy.
  • There is no accountability for Europe’s multibillion-euro spending spree on projects to curb migration. In vast regions such as southern Libya that are inaccessible to diplomatic missions, let alone humanitarian agencies, officials are able to pocket the money for themselves. Migration spending thus ends up fostering corruption, rather than development.
  • when the Libyans sought ambitious development projects they were offered handicraft workshops instead
  • Humanitarian catastrophe looms over the wider Sahara region as Islamist insurgencies in the bordering Sahel region displace 4.2 million people. The Libyan war has escalated into an international conflict
  • The parties in the Libyan conflict store weapons “in close proximity” to migrant detention centers, according to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, so these become a target of the bombing
  • Italy and Europe’s credibility has been severely undermined by their single-minded pursuit of migration control when dealing with Libya and other African countries
  • At least 36,000 people have been returned to Libya as they attempted to leave the country since 2017 by a Libyan coast guard that Europe funded and equipped. Unsurprisingly, given the way they were recruited, coast guard officers have been found to be involved in such crimes as detaining and extorting ransoms from migrants, whipping shipwreck survivors, shooting migrants, sinking their dinghies, and ignoring distress calls
  • For several years the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic organization of which Giro is a prominent member, had been mediating peace among the Saharan peoples. The association is involved in several conflict resolution initiatives around the world and has been credited with ending a bloody civil war in Mozambique in 1992.
  • Europe’s “migration obsession … a sickness that has infected all 28 EU countries
  • Mogherini’s tenure as EU foreign-policy chief will be remembered for its unprecedented callousness toward the plight of migrants and refugees; she now co-chairs a newly formed U.N. High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement
  • “Do you realize what it would mean if Libya fell into Turkish and Russian hands, at the expense of Europe? We would lose everything.” What would we lose? I asked him. “Everything! Control over migration, political control, economic control, the oil. … Eventually, we would lose it all.”
Ed Webb

Washington on the spot as its Syrian Kurd allies are drawn into PKK-KDP fight - Al-Moni... - 0 views

  • Tensions between the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iraq (KDP) and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have sharply escalated amid claims that a PKK-linked Syrian militia that is backed by the United States attacked Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga forces
  • The PKK-affiliated Kurdistan Communities Union countered by issuing a statement accusing the KDP of spreading “dirty propaganda.”   “Such a misleading propaganda legitimizes policies adopted by the Turkish State, that aims at extermination of the Kurdish people, and poses grave dangers to the future of our people,''
  • two days after a peshmerga fighter was killed in a separate clash between PKK and KDP fighters in the mountainous Amedi region of Dahuk province, which borders Turkey and Syria
  • ...6 more annotations...
  • Tensions between the KDP and the PKK have been rising since the summer, when KDP forces deployed in Zine Warte, a strategic mountain pass linking the PKK’s main bases in the Qandil mountains along the Iran-Iraq border to valleys accessing the north and south. The move came as Turkey, which has thousands of forces deployed across Iraqi Kurdistan, launched a large-scale land and air offensive against the PKK. The operations, now slowed down by unfavorable winter weather, are part of a broader campaign to encircle and cut off the PKK’s strongholds in Amedi, Qandil and Yazidi-dominated Sinjar near the Syria border from one another.
  • The KDP has repeatedly called on both Turkey and the PKK to carry their fight elsewhere as Kurdish civilians continue to get killed in Turkish drone strikes, but to no effect.
  • An SDF source who declined to be identified by name denied KRG allegations that the Syrian Kurdish force was facilitating the passage of YPG and PKK fighters into Sinjar. “These claims aren’t true and the Iraqis know that,”
  • Iraqi Kurdistan’s Fish Khabur border crossing to northeast Syria is the main supply line for incoming humanitarian aid and for military and logistical supplies for coalition forces based in an area run by Syrian Kurds. The KDP is the dominant force on the Iraqi side of the frontier. Should relations between the KDP and the SDF deteriorate, that access might be compromised for the 700 to 1,000 mainly American forces deployed across the border in Syria.
  • An Iraqi analyst who closely monitors the Kurdish region said in emailed comments to Al-Monitor that the KDP sees Kobane “as an extension of the PKK in some way. At the same time [Kobane] has with the support of the Americans been able to establish control over the Syrian side [of the common border] and reduce the influence of the KDP in that area, which is something [the KDP] doesn’t like.”
  • PKK source in the Iraqi Kurdistan region argued, however, that the root of the current tensions was Turkey, whose continued repression of its own large Kurdish minority is bloodily spilling over its borders into Syria and Iraq. “The KDP is not exercising its own will, but that of Turkey, because of its [economic] dependency on Turkey,” he said. Kurdistan’s oil, a main source of income, flows through a pipeline to Turkish export terminals on the Mediterranean Sea.
Ed Webb

Lebanon, Israel reach 'historic agreement' on maritime borders | News | Al Jazeera - 0 views

  • Lebanon and Israel have reached a “historic” deal to end a long-running maritime border dispute in the gas-rich Mediterranean Sea, according to negotiators from the two countries.
  • Lebanon’s presidency voiced hope that “the agreement on the demarcation will be announced as soon as possible”. Aoun had previously said that a deal would not signify a “partnership” with Israel. The two countries are technically at war.
  • The deal would resolve a territorial dispute in the eastern tip of the Mediterranean Sea in an area where Lebanon aims to explore for natural gas, and near waters where Israel has already found commercially viable quantities of hydrocarbons.
  • ...4 more annotations...
  • Lebanon had previously had a number of concerns about the border. The first related to a borderline marked by buoys that was created by Israel as its forces withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. Beirut asked for language in the draft to be changed to avoid this becoming an international maritime border.
  • intermittent negotiations between the two sides have been taking place for more than a decade. “But now Lebanon is in crisis and if it is able to start exploring and drilling [for gas reserves], it could have revenues from gas production to help it with its financial meltdown,”
  • Officials from both countries were in close contact via US mediator Amos Hochstein over the past few days to resolve outstanding differences. US President Joe Biden hailed the deal on Tuesday as a “historic breakthrough” in the Middle East.
  • The US text has not been made public but under terms leaked to the press all of the Karish field would fall under Israeli control, while Qana would be divided but its exploitation would be under Lebanon’s control. Total would be licensed to search for gas in the Qana field, and Israel would receive a share of future revenues. Bou Saab said Lebanon will “get its full rights from the Qana field”, and Israel might receive compensation through Total. There will be no direct partnership in gas exploration or exploitation between the two enemy states, he said.
Ed Webb

Turkey's New Maps Are Reclaiming the Ottoman Empire | Foreign Policy - 1 views

  • an alarming burst of Turkish irredentism
  • Erdogan criticized the Treaty of Lausanne, which created the borders of modern Turkey, for leaving the country too small. He spoke of the country’s interest in the fate of Turkish minorities living beyond these borders, as well as its historic claims to the Iraqi city of Mosul, near which Turkey has a small military base. And, alongside news of Turkish jets bombing Kurdish forces in Syria and engaging in mock dogfights with Greek planes over the Aegean Sea, Turkey’s pro-government media have shown a newfound interest in a series of imprecise, even crudely drawn, maps of Turkey with new and improved borders
  • this combination of irredentist cartography and rhetoric nonetheless offers some insight into Turkey’s current foreign and domestic policies and Ankara’s self-image. The maps, in particular, reveal the continued relevance of Turkish nationalism, a long-standing element of the country’s statecraft, now reinvigorated with some revised history and an added dose of religion
  • ...11 more annotations...
  • they aren’t maps of the Ottoman Empire, which was substantially larger, or the entire Muslim world or the Turkic world. They are maps of Turkey, just a little bigger
  • while countries like Germany, Italy, Bulgaria, and Hungary brought disaster on themselves by trying to forcibly rewrite their postwar borders, Turkey — under Ataturk and his successor — wisely resisted this urge
  • Erdogan, by contrast, has given voice to an alternative narrative in which Ataturk’s willingness in the Treaty of Lausanne to abandon territories such as Mosul and the now-Greek islands in the Aegean was not an act of eminent pragmatism but rather a betrayal. The suggestion, against all evidence, is that better statesmen, or perhaps a more patriotic one, could have gotten more.
  • Erdogan’s new sectarianism is evident in Mosul, where Turkey has warned of the risks to Sunnis should Shiite militias take control of the city. But the policy’s influence is clearest in Syria, where Turkey has been supporting Sunni rebels aiming to topple the Assad regime (including those now struggling to hold the city of Aleppo). In both Iraq and Syria, however, Turkey’s sectarianism has not been allowed to trump pragmatism. Ankara has been keen to maintain a mutually beneficial economic relationship with Iran despite backing opposite sides in Syria and in the past year has also expressed its willingness to make peace with Assad if circumstances require it.
  • Criticism of Erdogan’s neo-Ottoman foreign policy is now as likely to come from the Arab world as anywhere else
  • The Sultan Murad Brigade, comprising predominantly ethnic Turkmens, has been one of Ankara’s military assets inside Syria against both Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the PKK. Meanwhile, the Turkmen population living around Mosul and its surrounding area has been a concern and an asset for Ankara in Iraq. Turkish special forces have worked with the Iraqi Turkmen Front since at least 2003 in order to expand Turkish influence and counter the PKK in northern Iraq.
  • Turkish minorities in northern Greece and Cyprus have played a similar role. That is, their well-being has been a subject of genuine concern for Turkish nationalists but also a potential point of leverage with Athens to be used as needed
  • Erdogan has also emphasized a new element to Turkey’s communitarian foreign-policy agenda: Sunni sectarianism
  • Government rhetoric has been quick to invoke the heroism of Turkey’s war of independence in describing the popular resistance to the country’s July 15 coup attempt. And alongside the Ottomans, Erdogan routinely references the Seljuks, a Turkic group that preceded the Ottomans in the Middle East by several centuries, and even found a place for more obscure pre-Islamic Turkic peoples like the Gokturks, Avars, and Karakhanids that first gained fame in Ataturk’s 1930s propaganda
  • the points at which Turkey has proved susceptible to irredentism in the past have all come at moments of change and uncertainty similar to what the Middle East is experiencing today. In 1939, Ankara annexed the province of Hatay, then under French control, by taking advantage of the crisis in Europe on the eve of World War II
  • Ankara is all too aware of the fact that the power to do so remains the only rationale for foreign intervention that matters
Ed Webb

Pakistan detains 11 Iranian Guards on the border | Special Coverage | Reuters - 0 views

  • Pakistani forces detained 11 Iranian Revolutionary Guards on Monday for crossing into Pakistan days after an Iranian commander was reported saying his men should be allowed to confront terrorists in Pakistan. The Guards were arrested in the Mashkhel area on the border with Iran eight days after a suicide bomber killed 42 people, including six Revolutionary Guard commanders, in Iran's southeastern Sistan-Baluchestan province. A Sunni Muslim group Jundollah (God's soldiers), claimed responsibility for the blast. Iran says the group operates from across the border in Pakistan.
  • Iranian border officials had told them that the encroachment was accidental and happened after the Guards launched an operation against Jundollah militants near the border.
  • the rise of Jundollah coincided with an explosion in drug smuggling from which it earned much of its funding
Ed Webb

University blasts in Pakistan and the future of Islam - Yahoo! News - 0 views

  • Mark LeVine
  • When the Taliban attacked the International Islamic University in Pakistan this week, many were shocked that militants were targeting an Islamic school. In fact, the double suicide bombers were going after a university that is at the forefront of changing the way Islamic and Western knowledge are brought together in the Muslim world.
  • when I delivered my second lecture on globalization early on a Saturday morning, the room was filled with students, more women than men (upward of half the student body at the University are women), who grilled me about the assumptions underlying my research and methodologies. Would that most of my students back home were as interested in what I was teaching as were they.
  • ...2 more annotations...
  • The University was carving out a much-needed space in Muslim intellectual, and through it political, life through its bringing Muslim and Western traditions into dialogue. Yet it was receiving, and continues to receive far less attention from scholars, commentators, or policymakers than the fully American-style universities being opened across the Persian Gulf.
  • the singular focus of KAUST on hard sciences is ultimately myopic and will likely produce little in the way of the larger societal change in Saudi Arabia predicted by the new university's boosters. Such changes come only with a robust public sphere where citizens who are educated broadly and humanistically are equipped with the social knowledge and skills to challenge the dominant political and social-religious discourses. Building such an active Pakistani citizenry was and – I imagine despite the bombing – remains a major goal of the IIU. Sadly, it's just such a goal that probably made it a "legitimate" target for the Taliban, for whom a healthy public sphere populated by educated citizens willing and able to challenge, potentially democratize, and clean up their government would pose at least as big threat to its position in the country as the army they are now fighting in the country's northwest.
Ed Webb

Turkey launches Operation Spring Shield against Syrian forces - 0 views

  • Ankara said today that it had launched Operation Spring Shield against the Syrian Arab Army on a day that saw Turkey down two Russian-made Syrian air force jets, and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to meet Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on March 5 over the unfolding Idlib crisis.
  • Turkey said it had destroyed several air defense systems, more than 100 tanks and killed 2,212 members of the Syrian forces, including three top generals in drone strikes since Feb 27
  • The dramatic escalation pitting NATO member Turkey against the far weaker Syrian Arab army followed Feb. 27 airstrikes that killed at least 36 Turkish soldiers in Idlib, sending shock waves throughout Turkey.
  • ...8 more annotations...
  • Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said at least 21 “Iranian-backed terrorists” were also “neutralized” in Idlib, in a reference to Afghan, Pakistani and other Iranian-backed Shiite militias that have been fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Idlib
  • As war raged on in Idlib, a humanitarian drama was unfolding at Turkey’s border with Greece. On Thursday, Turkey announced that its borders were open for millions of Syrian and other refugees in Turkey to leave. It justified the move on the grounds that it could no longer cope with the burden, with up to a million civilians fleeing regime violence in Idlib remaining massed along Syria's border with Turkey. Thousands of migrants have gathered near Greece's Kastanies border crossing, some getting there by taking free rides on buses organized by the Turkish government. Turkey’s state-owned Arabic-language broadcasting channel, TRT Arabi, provided maps for migrants showing various routes to reach the border.
  • Erdogan lashed out at the EU for failing to fulfill a 2016 deal under which Turkey undertook to care for nearly 4 million mostly Syrian refugees in exchange for 6 billion euros ($6.6 billion) in financial support
  • the effect of this new blackmail is a complete disaster. One because the Turkish leadership is officially misleading migrants, telling them that ‘borders are open.’ Two because this is now an additional state-organized humanitarian disaster. There is total bewilderment in Europe at what the Turkish leadership can do when finding itself in a total, self-inflicted dead end
  • “The term that best characterizes Turkey’s current foreign and security policy is kakistrocracy, that is, government by the least qualified,” he told Al-Monitor. “The only silver lining in the Idlib crisis is that now [the Turkish government] can blame Turkey’s looming economic crisis on exogenous factors, allowing Erdogan to deny that his son-in-law Berat Albayrak, who is in charge of the economy, is to blame for his incompetence and mismanagement.”
  • “Aleppo is ours and so is Hatay,” declared Ibrahim Karagul, a fellow Erdoganist scribe on his Twitter feed. He was responding to an article by Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency, which opened to debate Turkey’s 1939 acquisition of Hatay — also known as Alexandretta — in a disputed referendum following the breakup of the Ottoman Empire by the allied powers. The article is believed to have spurred today’s detention of the editor-in-chief of the Turkish version of Sputnik. Mahir Boztepe was released following a phone call between Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
  • the consensus among military experts is that Feb. 27 airstrikes were likely carried out by Russian jets. “Russia flies at night, the regime can’t. The Turks were bombed at night,” said Aaron Stein, director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute’s Middle East Program. Both sides have chosen to blame the regime for the attack, presumably to avert a direct confrontation that neither side wants.
  • Did Putin underestimate Erdogan when the pugnacious Turkish leader set a Feb. 29 deadline for Syrian forces to move out of Idlib? Is he merely letting Erdogan save face? Or does Ankara have more agency in its relations with Moscow than it is credited for? It’s probably a bit of everything, said Kevork Oskanian, an honorary research fellow at Birmingham University who is writing a book titled “Russian Empire.” He told Al-Monitor, "Russia’s reluctance to intervene in the regime’s favor does appear to be designed to allow Erdogan to save face while also softening Assad up for compromise.”
1 - 20 of 279 Next › Last »
Showing 20 items per page