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Ed Webb

Americans, Put Away Your Quills - By Nathan J. Brown | The Middle East Channel - 0 views

  • constitution writing is a supremely political process. It is not carried out by philosopher kings but pushed through by real political forces playing a gritty political game. Despite what some of us may dimly remember from junior high school U.S. History, our process was no different. Constitutional kibitzing rarely finds an enthusiastic audience. After the initial election in the various Arab countries, the constitution will be the first test of the new balance of political forces -- and it will be the first real opportunity for them to discover not simply how to compete, but how to cooperate. Even more important than the text they produce, the patterns of interaction they establish as they draft will produce lasting patterns for politics. They need to keep their eyes on each other -- and that is precisely what they will do.
  • Tunisians debating the country's identity -- so far the biggest hot button issue in constitutional debates -- are hardly likely to pull in foreign consultants to draft language. The Egyptian committee of one hundred people is unlikely to want to be seen as allowing outsiders to vet their work in a political context in which "foreign agendas" are the topic of daily denunciations in the press.
  • Tunisia received its first constitution when France was an empire and Germany was not yet a state. Egypt has a long and rich tradition of constitutional experiments dating back almost as long. Much of that heritage is deeply troubled to be sure, but most Arab societies are full of people who already speak their own constitutional language
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  • The U.S. experience, rich as it is, is very idiosyncratic. From a constitutional perspective, the United States is a marsupial: exotic and sometimes even cuddly, but also a product of a completely different evolutionary path.
  • If the United States can overcome its own phobia of international law, it will find these documents a promising source of values and of language that Arabs have already accepted in theory.
  • The Egyptian military shows definite signs of attempting to shoehorn in a permanent constitutional role for itself and an exemption from civilian oversight. We likely cannot make them change their minds, but we can communicate publicly to Egyptians that they are doing so without our blessing.
Ed Webb

Why a One-State Solution is the Only Solution - 0 views

  • As he tried to rescue what had become known as “the peace process,” U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told Congress that the two-state solution had one to two years left before it would no longer be viable. That was six years ago. Resolution 2334, which the UN Security Council passed with U.S. consent in late 2016, called for “salvaging the two-state solution” by demanding a number of steps, including an immediate end to Israeli settlement building in the occupied territories. That was three years ago. And since then, Israel has continued to build and expand settlements.
  • What Trump had in mind has become clear in the years that have followed, as he and his team have approved a right-wing Israeli wish list aimed at a one-state outcome—but one that will enshrine Israeli dominance over Palestinian subjects, not one that will grant the parties equal rights. 
  • Under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel has abandoned any pretense of seeking a two-state solution, and public support for the concept among Israelis has steadily dwindled. Palestinian leaders continue to seek a separate state. But after years of failure and frustration, most Palestinians no longer see that path as viable.
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  • Netanyahu and Trump are seeking not to change the status quo but merely to ratify it
  • the only moral path forward is to recognize the full humanity of both peoples
  • Between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea live approximately 13 million people, all under the control of the Israeli state. Roughly half of them are Palestinian Arabs, some three million of whom live under a military occupation with no right to vote for the government that rules them and around two million of whom live in Israel as second-class citizens, discriminated against based on their identity, owing to Israel’s status as a Jewish state. Two million more Palestinians live in the besieged Gaza Strip, where the militant group Hamas exercises local rule: an open-air prison walled off from the world by an Israeli blockade.
  • the dilemmas posed by partition long predate 1967 and stem from a fundamentally insoluble problem. For the better part of a century, Western powers—first the United Kingdom and then the United States—have repeatedly tried to square the same circle: accommodating the Zionist demand for a Jewish-majority state in a land populated overwhelmingly by Palestinians. This illogical project was made possible by a willingness to dismiss the humanity and rights of the Palestinian population and by sympathy for the idea of creating a space for Jews somewhere outside Europe—a sentiment that was sometimes rooted in an anti-Semitic wish to reduce the number of Jews in the Christian-dominated West.
  • among Jewish Israelis, annexation is not a controversial idea. A recent poll showed that 48 percent of them support steps along the lines of what Netanyahu proposed; only 28 percent oppose them. Even Netanyahu’s main rival, the centrist Blue and White alliance, supports perpetual Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. Its leaders’ response to Netanyahu’s annexation plan was to complain that it had been their idea first. 
  • one national intelligence estimate drawn up by U.S. agencies judged that if Israel continued the occupation and settlement building for “an extended period, say two to three years, it will find it increasingly difficult to relinquish control.” Pressure to hold on to the territories “would grow, and it would be harder to turn back to the Arabs land which contained such settlements.” That estimate was written more than 50 years ago, mere months after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank began. Nevertheless, Israel has forged ahead with its expansion and has enjoyed unflinching U.S. support, even as Israeli officials periodically warned about its irreversibility. 
  • Under Oslo, the Palestinians have had to rely on the United States to treat Israel with a kind of tough love that American leaders, nervous about their domestic support, have never been able to muster.
  • As the failure of the peace process became clearer over time, Palestinians rose up against the occupation—sometimes violently. Israel pointed to those reactions to justify further repression. But the cycle was enabled by Palestinian leaders who resigned themselves to having to prove to Israel’s satisfaction that Palestinians were worthy of self-determination—something to which all peoples are in fact entitled.
  • Today, large numbers of Israelis support keeping much of the occupied territories forever
  • the nakba—the “catastrophe.” The 19 years that followed might be the only time in the past two millennia that the land of Palestine was actually divided. None of the great powers who had ruled over the territory—the Romans, the Byzantines, the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, the crusaders, the Ayyubids, the Mameluks, the Ottomans, the British—had ever divided Gaza from Jerusalem, Nablus from Nazareth, or Jericho from Jaffa. Doing so never made sense, and it still doesn’t. Indeed, when Israel took control of the territories in 1967, it actually represented a return to a historical norm of ruling the land as a single unit. But it did so with two systems, one for Jewish Israelis and the other for the people living on the land that the Israelis had conquered.
  • in the wake of the Holocaust, a UN partition plan presented a similar vision, with borders drawn to create a Jewish-majority state and with the Palestinians again divided into multiple entities. 
  • This formulation contained a fundamental flaw, one that would mar all future partition plans, as well: it conceived of the Jews as a people with national rights but did not grant the same status to the Palestinians. The Palestinian population could therefore be moved around and dismembered, because they were not a people deserving of demographic cohesion.
  • Actual progress in the talks would threaten Jewish control of the land, something that has proved more important to Israel than democracy.
  • Having led the armed struggle against Israel for decades, Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization was known and accepted by ordinary Palestinians. By the late 1980s, however, the group had become a shell of its former self. Already isolated by its exile in Tunisia, the PLO became even weaker in 1990 after its wealthy patrons in the Gulf cut funding when Arafat backed Saddam Hussein’s grab for Kuwait. On the ground in the territories, meanwhile, the first intifada—a grassroots revolt against the occupation—was making news and threatening to displace the PLO as the face of Palestinian resistance. By embracing the Oslo process, Arafat and his fellow PLO leaders found a personal path back to influence and relevance—while trapping the Palestinian community in a bind that has held them back ever since.
  • The time has come for the Palestinian Authority to abandon its advocacy of a two-state solution, an idea that has become little more than a fig leaf for the United States and other great powers to hide behind while they allow Israel to proceed with de facto apartheid.
  • Some will object that such a shift in strategy would undercut the hard-won consensus, rooted in decades of activism and international law, that the Palestinians have a right to their own state. That consensus, however, has produced little for the Palestinians. Countless UN resolutions have failed to stop Israeli settlements or gain Palestinians a state, so they wouldn’t be losing much. And in a one-state solution worthy of the name, Palestinians would win full equality under the law, so they would be gaining a great deal. 
  • A poll conducted last year by the University of Maryland found that Americans were roughly evenly split between supporting a two-state solution and supporting a one-state solution with equal rights for all inhabitants. Yet when asked what they preferred if a two-state solution were not possible (which it isn’t), the status quo or one state with equal rights, they chose the latter by a two-to-one margin. 
  • Israelis would benefit from a shift to such a state, as well. They, too, would gain security, stability, and growth, while also escaping international isolation and reversing the moral rot that the occupation has produced in Israeli society. At the same time, they would maintain connections to historical and religious sites in the West Bank. Most Israelis would far prefer to perpetuate the status quo. But that is just not possible. Israel cannot continue to deny the rights of millions of Palestinians indefinitely and expect to remain a normal member of the international community.
  • not only a new state but also a new constitution. That would both demonstrate their commitment to democracy and highlight Israel’s lack of the same. When the country was founded in 1948, Zionist leaders were trying to expedite the arrival of more Jews, prevent the return of Palestinians, and seize as much land as possible. They had no interest in defining citizenship criteria, rights, or constraints on government power. So instead of writing a constitution, the Jewish state instituted a series of “basic laws” in an ad hoc fashion, and these have acquired some constitutional weight over time.
  • Israelis and Palestinians should work together to craft a constitution that would uphold the rights of all.
  • despite national narratives and voices on either side that claim otherwise, both peoples have historical ties to the land
  • A new constitution could offer citizenship to all the people currently living in the land between the river and the sea and to Palestinian refugees and would create pathways for immigrants from elsewhere to become citizens. All citizens would enjoy full civil and political rights, including the freedom of movement, religion, speech, and association. And all would be equal before the law: the state would be forbidden from discriminating on the basis of ethnicity or religion.
  • they would be subject to a very high bar for amendment—say, a requirement of at least 90 percent approval in the legislative branch. This would ensure that basic rights could not be altered by means of a simple majority and would prohibit any one group from using a demographic advantage to alter the nature of the state.
  • the new state would also need a truth-and-reconciliation process focused on restorative justice
  • How many more decades of failure must we endure before we can safely conclude that partition is a dead end?
Ed Webb

How U.S. Mission Creep in Syria and Iraq Could Trigger War With Iran - Foreign Policy - 0 views

  • incident in Syria two years ago involving the transport of an Iranian port-a-potty nearly led to a confrontation between American and Iranian forces, underscoring just how quickly even minor events could escalate there
  • the Trump administration signals it might leave behind a small force in both Syria and Iraq to monitor Iranian activities
  • Some analysts and U.S. officials believe that the change of mission for those forces could raise the chances of a war between the United States and Iran—and that it may even be illegal under the U.S. Constitution
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  • “What is the strategy? What would be the rules of engagement? How would we avoid being sucked into a regional war not of our making?” said Kelly Magsamen, the vice president for national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress. “If I’m a service member in Syria, I would want to know what the heck I was doing there and how my mission fit into a strategy.”
  • the strategy would constitute a core operational change, raising broad questions about the mission
  • he’s considering keeping a small force at a remote base in southeastern Syria, far from the last remnants of the Islamic State, to counter Iran. And yesterday, Trump said he wants to maintain some troops in Iraq for the same purpose
  • on May 19, U.S. forces detected a vehicle heading toward the group, carrying a port-a-potty. The coalition headquarters gave the strike order. The strike never occurred. Air Force officers responsible for operations at the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar—the command-and-control hub of air forces throughout the U.S. Air Forces Central Command region—refused to attack because they did not believe it to be “a lawful order that complied with the rules of engagement,” the official said, describing the idea that a threat was posed to U.S. forces as “ludicrous.”
  • “We stray from the Constitution when military commanders choose to use U.S. military force against another state’s force in the absence of a credible, imminent threat.”
  • the Department of Defense does not keep records of strikes that do not occur
  • The incident underscored the tricky legal position U.S. forces find themselves in the region. Under the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force—which authorizes the fight against nonstate militant groups such as the Islamic State or al Qaeda—U.S. military forces are not authorized to target state actors such as Iranian, Russian, Syrian, or proxy regime forces in Syria unless they are attacked and are responding in self-defense
  • the U.S. presence in Syria has been constitutionally dubious for a long time. Obama’s reliance on the 2001 AUMF to justify the operation was “a big stretch,”
  • there are signs that, after years of failed attempts to pass a new Authorization for Use of Military Force, Congress will put its foot down on the issue of maintaining a small force at al-Tanf to deter Iran
    Useful illustration of the legal and other problems of mission creep.
Ed Webb

Syrian opposition group tells U.S. to stay out of internal politics | McClatchy - 0 views

  • “The politics of the United States are very, very bad, very stupid,” said Mohammed Sarmini, spokesman for the Syrian National Council, whose 310 members represent most of the major parties and organizations in exile. “This may be an American project, but it is very offensive to the Syrian people. You should support us on the ground, not get into our politics.”
  • signs that the Obama administration may be out of touch with Syrian exile politics
  • accord in four major areas, the most important of which is probably the plan for a transitional government. The accord calls for an assembly of 300 Syrians, to be held inside the country if possible, to elect the government. Most of the participants would be from the inside, intended to give the legitimacy that many transitional governments do not have.One-quarter of the participants would represent the municipal councils set up to run liberated areas, one-quarter from the armed resistance groups, one-quarter of state bureaucrats who have defected to the opposition and one-quarter from the Syrian National Council.
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  • a new constitution, based on the 1950 constitution, which put heavy stress on civil rights; to institute an election law that provides for multiple parties and a parliamentary system; to institute a new national security administration and to make it a constitutional requirement that the military stays out of politics
  • American officials have been elusive and avoided media inquiries
  • Ziadeh said he was not sure whether the United States had actually drafted the plan for the opposition or had bought into a new plan drafted by Riad Seif, a prominent dissident who left Syria earlier this summer after a decade of house arrest and jail
  • The humanitarian situation in Syria is now one of if not the worst crisis on Earth. Officially the death toll is stated at 30,000 to 35,000. But a European diplomat in Istanbul who closely monitors the war and humanitarian aid efforts estimates the actual death toll at more than 100,000, a number with which reputable Syrian opposition figures agree
    The US should not be bungling stuff like this. If Washington and its allies want more say in the Syrian transitional process (and why should they?) then they need to be more actively engaged and supportive. But in general they should not be in the game of trying to pick winners among the opposition, even if they are worried about radicals. The latter will only ever be a minority.
Kate Musgrave

Turkey Approves Constitutional Changes | News | English - 2 views

  • The 26 reforms include putting the military under the control of civilian courts.  Women and trade union rights will also be extended.Under another provision, military leaders responsible for the 1980 coup would no longer have immunity from prosecution.
Ed Webb

Forgotten lessons: Palestine and the British empire | openDemocracy - 0 views

  • he acknowledged the elephant in the room of Anglo-Muslim relations:  Britain’s colonial record in the middle east and south Asia, and its legacies. As part of this rare confession of culpability, he noted ‘the failure – it has to be said not just ours - to establish two states in Palestine’.
  • Whilst Arabs and Jews played a fundamental role in the unfolding drama of mandate Palestine, the driving force was imperial Britain. The old myth that Britain was merely ‘holding the ring’ — trying to keep the peace between two irrational, warring parties — is a gross misunderstanding of history.
  • the direct outcome of Britain’s drafting, interpretation, and implementation of the league of nations mandate for Palestine
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  • a forthcoming book edited by Rory Miller, Palestine, Britain and Empire: The Mandate Years,
  • The chief concerns were to avoid further alienating the Palestinian Arabs, whilst also satisfying the imagined bogey of Jewish power. Into this policy vacuum stepped the Zionists. With their own plans for Palestine, they persuaded the government to go further than the vague Balfour Declaration. The text of the league of nations mandate for Palestine was based on Zionist proposals. The preamble stated Britain’s obligation to put the promise of the Declaration into effect. It also recognised the Jewish people’s historical connection with Palestine, and the ‘grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country’. The articles of the mandate went much further. As a legally binding document, it obliged Britain to secure, not facilitate, the establishment of the Jewish national home. To that end, the British administration was to cooperate with, and be advised by, the Zionist Organisation. In addition, the British had to facilitate Jewish immigration and settlement.
  • the British intention to stay in Palestine for as long as possible, so as to protect strategic interests in the middle east.
  • the Palestinian political elite favoured by the British were placed in an impossible position. They had to satisfy the British of their commitment to moderation and peace, and their willingness to play the game of liberal international politics. They could not push the British too hard for substantive changes to the status quo. If they did, they would have been considered dangerous extremists. But at the same time this elite had to assuage the Palestinian masses, who increasingly demanded an end to British support for Zionism. With the Empire’s continuing backing of Zionism in the 1920s and 1930s, much of the Palestinian elite focused on the liberal path of advocating constitutional change. The constitutional path failed, however, in March 1936, after a Legislative Council, which was to include significant Arab representation, was defeated by a pro-Zionist majority in the house of commons. The Palestinian population erupted, and the first intifada began.
  • The Palestinian national movement, which had tried to resist colonial rule, had been fatally wounded. And the Palestinian leadership was no longer viewed by the British as a viable partner.
  • The assumption that state-sponsored violence followed by agreements between political elites can make peace lives on to this day. It betrays the old assumptions of British colonialism — that a reputation for being firm must be maintained at all costs, that colonial state violence prevents future anti-colonial violence, and that peace can be achieved by elites re-drawing maps, and making constitutional agreements.
  • suffering cannot be undone by academic agreements crafted by politicians and officials. And it is precisely the experiences and expectations of regular people, be they Palestinian or Israeli, that will make or break peace in the long-term
Ed Webb

Deterrence, Mass Atrocity, and Samantha Power's "The Education of an Idealist" - 0 views

  • In Power’s Pulitzer Prize-winning A Problem from Hell, American force is one of many foreign policy tools that can and should be bent toward civilian protection and atrocity prevention globally; for many of her critics from the left, American force is to be dismantled; for many of her critics from the right, American force should serve core national security interests and nothing more.
  • In A Problem from Hell, Power argues that US policymakers did not act to stop genocide because they did not want to; in her memoir, she relates how a room full of civil servants whose thinking had been shaped by her first book found themselves in a years-long limbo over complex human disasters in Syria and Libya. Together, these cases constitute a real-time test of the “toolbox” of interventions Power first proposed at the end of A Problem from Hell; together, they reveal both the problem at the heart of her theory of foreign policy, and the still all-too-slender slate of effective policy alternatives to force across the political spectrum.
  • Libya and Syria serve as parallel cases through which questions about the US’s role in the world are refracted. The standard narrative is as follows: the US intervened in Libya under the guise of preventing mass atrocities, this intervention ended first in regime change and then in a failed state, and Libyans now live in enduring danger; the US did not intervene to protect civilians during the Syrian Civil War, war snarled the full region into conflict, and today Syrian civilians continue to die in unspeakable ways and uncounted numbers. At each stage, the narrative is in fact more complicated, particularly if we begin by asking whether the US did in fact prevent mass atrocity in Libya and end by noting the U.S. did in fact intervene in Syria in multiple ways, but the broad lines are still instructive for understanding public debate. Would Libyans have been better off in the absence of an American-led intervention, or would they have been worse off? Would Syrians have been better off for U.S. intervention, or would they have been worse off for it?
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  • the implicit promise of force underlies each alternative set of policies Power proposes. Actors who are willing to abandon mass atrocity campaigns voluntarily may be easily deterred — but actors committed to a mass atrocity campaign could find themselves diplomatically isolated, operating under economic sanction, or threatened by prosecution, and still continue to wage campaigns of death. “Stop this or else” undergirds threats when a powerful actor makes them. The toolbox’s logic is ultimately escalatory as a result: force is a tool of last resort, but no other tool works without the latent presence of American military force.
  • confronting ongoing or imminent atrocities can require quickly shifting perpetrators’ incentives. In the immediate aftermath of the Libyan protests, for instance, Power argues rapid, joint Security Council and American action “was probably the best example in history of governments hastily using a vast array of “tools in the toolbox” to try to deter atrocities.” But this proved insufficient: “The pressures that the United States and other countries were imposing on Qaddafi’s regime would take months to reach their full effect, and we had run out of further nonmilitary steps to take to try to affect the Libyan leader’s near-term calculus.”
  • “While administration officials could say they had imposed consequences on Assad’s regime for crossing the red line, they could not specific the nature of these consequences in any detail,” she writes. “Since even Assad didn’t know the particulars of the cost he would be bearing, he seemed unlikely to be deterred from carrying out further attacks.”
  • American military force underwrites other dimensions of statecraft, and mobilizes when other deterrent measures have failed. But the problem, then, is not simply, as her critics allege, that Samantha Power is a hawk, or that she doesn’t understand which conflicts constitute core American interests — the problem is that all deterrent models of atrocity prevention rest on the threat of force.
  • UN peacekeepers are the largest deployed force in conflict zones today; UN peacekeeping constitutes an enormous part of the Security Council’s agenda; the UN peacekeeping budget is separate from and larger than the UN’s operational budget; and a heated debate on the use of force by UN peacekeepers has now been running over twenty years. Peacekeeping is an effective tool that works best when it is all carrots and few sticks — but peacekeepers today are usually charged with protecting civilians under threat of imminent violence, as well. They rarely use force, and while they seem to protect civilians from rebels well, they struggle more to protect civilians from government forces.
  • Historically, when deterrence fails, the UN Security Council has outsourced this work — instead of sending in the Marines, for example, the UN instead turns to the French, as they did in the Central African Republic, or British Special forces, as they did in Sierra Leone, or — yes — NATO, as they did in the former Yugoslavia and then Libya.
  • discussions about US restraint are nearly entirely divorced from these extremely active debates about the use of force in UN peacekeeping — and considering the two together is instructive
  • a military with stunningly excess capability demands we continually interrogate its purpose; people who live under imminent threat of violence are not marginal to US foreign policy interests unless we define them that way; and the US outsources most conflict management to the UN system, which then relies on the military might of its member states to wield force in the places most dangerous for civilians
  • If unwilling actors cannot be swayed save by the use of force, and we are reluctant to use force for practical or ethical reasons, then we are left with two options: we can address the root causes of conflict, and we can help those refugees and internally displaced people who manage to escape violence. The first set of options requires reimagining the fundamental structures of foreign policy; the second set of options is currently so politically unpopular that it is remaking domestic politics across refugee-receiving countries
Ed Webb

The Israeli right's new vision of Jewish political supremacy - 0 views

  • The settlement project's success has led to an intertwined Jewish and Palestinian population, reviving the problem Israel tried to solve through expulsion in 1948. Now, the right's priority is segregation.
  • a new trend has emerged within the dominant stream of the Israeli political right: the nation, rather than the land, is now at the heart of right-wing discourse
  • This has manifested in the progression of anti-democratic legislation, incitement against Palestinian citizens of Israel and left-wing organizations and activists, and in emphasizing the idea of the “Jewish state.”
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  • The culmination of this process was the passing of the Jewish Nation-State Law in the Knesset in July 2018.
  • The Zionist project is committed to a well-defined ethnic-religious group, at a defined point in space and time. In that, Zionism is not unique, of course: the commitment of nationalistic movements in general is limited and defined a priori, and therefore exclusion, marginalization of, and separation from the Other (not to mention expulsion of that Other) are inherent to them and are their by-products
  • why the Jewish Nation-State Law was enacted 70 years after the state’s establishment rather than immediately thereafter
  • The common explanation for the rise of this new discourse is that years of occupation have weakened liberal values in Israel, and the nationalist right-wing governments are stronger than ever. As such, the right is now able to implement its ethnocentric and anti-liberal ideology and weaken the democratic character of the state’s institutions.
  • the nationalist discourse serves to shore up a new electoral project led by the right-wing political parties.
  • The logic is simple: if it is no longer effective to talk about the indivisible land (as belonging to the Jews), let us instead talk about the indivisible nation and mark external and internal enemies. According to this understanding, the wave of anti-democratic legislation, especially the Jewish Nation-State Law, serves as propaganda that bolsters the coalescing of the right wing around an ethnocentric agenda. In other words, the messianic-nationalist energy is directed inwards rather than outwards.
  • a state that grants a privileged status to Jews is no longer regarded as a self-evident phenomenon
  • the old tools that served to maintain Jewish political supremacy are no longer sufficient, and there is a need for active separation and active legitimization. Separation is no longer the result of history; rather, it must be inscribed on the political body by law and politics and must be enforced.
  • For a short time, from the beginning of the 1990s until the beginning of the Netanyahu era in 2009, it seemed possible to talk about the right of self-determination for both peoples, and the two-state solution appeared to be at hand.
  • The notion of “two states for two peoples” that took root in the collective Israeli consciousness as an optimal, realistic, and implementable solution to the conflict created an illusion of separation between the two populations — as if they were separate political entities. Although this separation was to be fully implemented at some point in the future and was repeatedly postponed, Israelis felt that the two-state paradigm implied that the Palestinians in the occupied territories were over “there,” on the other side of the border, on the way to their independent state with an anthem, a flag, and independent prisons, outside of “our” (i.e. of the Israeli-Jewish national collective) responsibility. Israel’s decision to restrict Palestinians’ freedom of movement between the territories and Israel during the First Intifada, and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority pursuant to the Oslo Accords, contributed to this experience of separation.
  • With the promise of the preservation of a Jewish majority within the ’67 boundaries — albeit through a future solution not yet fully implemented on the ground — it appeared easier for Israel to move, however slowly and tentatively, along the liberal path in their attitude toward Palestinian citizens. This tendency expressed itself in the “constitutional revolution” and the policies of the Rabin government in the early to mid-1990s. These policies strengthened the “democratic” aspect of the “Jewish and democratic” equation and began to advance the status of the Palestinians as citizens with equal rights, even if only rhetorically.
  • That era, which was one of partial optimism for Palestinian citizens and for human and civil rights in Israel, continued until the beginning of the 21st century, when the Second Intifada broke out during Ehud Barak’s government and Israeli police shot dead 13 Palestinian citizens as they were protesting in October 2000. This event marked a new rupture regarding the place of Palestinians in Israeli society. A few years later, with Netanyahu at the helm, a tendency to continually incite against Palestinian citizens of Israel developed, and the cautious optimism evaporated.
  • The new nationalist/ethno-religious discourse, and in particular the new law, which has been assiduously promoted for many years, is not merely a replay of history or its direct continuation. They are not merely expressions of anti-liberal and ethnocentric trends enabled by the strengthening of the right, or a mere reaction to the Palestinians’ vision documents. And they are not merely intended to create further political bias or to redefine the limits of political legitimacy. Rather, they constitute an innovation in the Israeli right’s political project, by serving the need to actively and legally enshrine Jewish privileges, despite the fact that these exist anyway, and to give them a new constitutional framing and anchoring. This effort has successfully rallied a significant part of the Jewish-Israeli population.
  • two groups figure prominently between the Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea: the Palestinian citizens of Israel and the Jewish settlers in the West Bank
  • The crumbling of the two-state idea and the blurring of the Green Line led to a de facto single geopolitical entity in which both populations are mixed to some degree. The sharp distinction between the Palestinians “there” and the Israeli Jews “here” became hazy. Before, the two-state solution created the illusion of separation into two independent entities and removed the Palestinians from the Israeli political awareness; now, even this “calming” sensation diminished. Before, it could be claimed that the Palestinians in the territories were headed for their own separate and independent state; now, it has become clear that the territories are here, in a de facto Greater Israel, and so are the Palestinians.
  • The Jewish settlers, for their part, strengthened their presence in the occupied territories, and are no longer marginal or temporary inhabitants. The more their presence in the territories is perceived as natural, the more they bring the territories into Israel, creating a new geographic unity.
  • the Israeli right has had to pay a significant price for this success: in this unified space (unified only for Jews because Palestinians cannot move freely within it), the Jewish majority is no longer self-evident. The settlement project brought back the problem that Zionism solved through expulsion in 1948.
  • Expelling the Palestinians from the territories is no longer an option that can be openly discussed; neither can the Palestinians be offered full citizenship (though this possibility can be bandied about for propaganda reasons). The first possibility is untenable because of international pressure, the second because of the Jews. We are stuck in the situation that had existed during the British Mandate: one geopolitical entity with two peoples mixed together. This time, however, we are not under the Mandate, but under Israeli rule.
  • All of this helps clarify the role of the new nationalist/ethno-religious discourse: it is a discourse of segregation.
  • with the crumbling of the two-state paradigm, the blurring of the Green Line and the continuing effort to extend the Jewish state over the entirety of Greater Israel, the settler right sees a need to conceptualize Jewish privileges, this time within a patently non-democratic regime between the river and the sea, which is expected to be based on a Jewish minority. The 1948 expulsion, which was a solution to the demographic problem, is no longer feasible, and therefore the need arises to establish a new-fangled apartheid regime. The Jewish Nation-State Law embodies the core of this attempt
  • In contrast to the classical discourse of Greater Israel, which was focused on “unifying” two separate regimes on two separate tracts of land — Israel and the occupied territories — the new discourse is an attempt to push for the legal segregation of two populations intermixed within the same territorial framework.
  • The segregation inspired by the law is not a division between “here” and “there” but between “us” and “them” — between Jews and Palestinians, no matter where they live between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. It is not based on dividing the territory into two territories, but dividing the two people within one single territory.
  • True, the two-state paradigm is also a paradigm of separation, but it is a separation of two distinct political frameworks. Apartheid, on the other hand, separates populations that share a territory within one comprehensive political sovereign framework. Acting within a unified entity, such separation is surgical — i.e. violent and destructive.
  • the question of the Jewish democratic state and that of Greater Israel — the internal question and the external question — become two aspects of the same project: to legitimize the privilege of Jews over Palestinians between the river and the sea.
  • With the blurring of the Green Line and the return of the demographic threat, the logic of separation from the Palestinians has been abandoned and replaced with the logic of a segregating regime. It is a regime in which one group clearly dominates another; in which that domination is comprehensive and permanent, rather than temporary and security-based; and which is maintained by a legal system and reinforced by a violent and forceful state.
  • This dominating logic and the fact that the plan arranges for segregation, not separation, is clear when looking at the map included with the proposal. The Palestinian entity is surrounded on all sides by Israeli sovereignty: in the air and on the ground, from the north, south, east, and west. Segregation based on ethnicity, religion, and nationality, rather than on territory, is complemented by two other aspects in the plan, reflecting the demise of the Green Line: its treatment of settlers, and of Palestinian citizens in Israel
  • the current plan discards territorial logic and treats Palestinians’ citizenship as a problem to be solved, and the status of settlers as a given and immutable fact
  • it departs from the conflict management paradigm in order to impose a one-sided American-Israeli vision to “end” the conflict, or rather eliminate it without solving it.
Ed Webb

Tunis Greets an Ottoman-Era History Long Banished by Its Dictators - - 1 views

  • Dictatorships have a way of manipulating historical narratives. So alongside any of the most pressing issues of the day, the past, too, is in play.The struggle to shape the past, and give it new authenticity, can be witnessed all around the Tunisian capital.Last summer, the Tunisian government restored a statue of Habib Bourguiba, the founder and first president of the republic, to its original place on the capital’s main avenue.
  • Mr. Bourguiba’s statue had replaced a humiliating symbol of colonialism: an image of the colonialist politician Jules Ferry with a Tunisian woman at his feet proffering an olive branch, he reminded Tunisians.“That used to be the symbol of colonialism, and Bourguiba is the symbol of freedom, of independence and of the modern state,” he said at the unveiling.
  • “Usually history is written by the victors, but this is the opposite,” said Adel Maizi, the president for preservation of memory at the commission. “These testimonies will reveal the truth.”
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  • “Dictatorship always tries to keep things secret,” he explained. “These kinds of testimonies are against forgetting. They will preserve memory for the country and serve as a way to guard such things happening in the future.”
  • Ridha Moumni, a curator of the exhibit, insists it is not political, but a matter of history. Yet he is displaying events that Tunisia’s dictators sought to suppress.“We have a very rich heritage that no one knew about,” Mr. Moumni said. “Our goal was to show that Tunisian modernity did not start with independence or colonization.”
  • it provides a history lesson on the significant reforms of the era — the founding of the army, the drafting of a constitution and development of diplomatic relations — that helped forge a nation
  • Among the original documents on display, one abolished slavery in 1846 — before the United States did so
  • a constitution drafted in 1860 that recognizes the rights of all citizens, including Christian and Jewish minorities, and census registers, in Hebrew and Arabic, belonging to Tunisia’s ancient Jewish community
  • Another discovery is the diversity of Tunisia’s leaders — from the Christian foreign minister, Giuseppe Raffo, to a Circassian general, Kheireddine Pasha, and the former slave Mustapha Khaznadar, who married into the royal family and rose to become the bey himself.
Ed Webb

Jordan's worst nightmare could be yet to come if US embassy moves to Jerusalem | Middle... - 1 views

  • Trump’s repeated vows to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has disproportionately upset the Jordanian government which, at the moment, has no shortage of crises.
  • Key to understanding Jordan’s anxiety is the Jordanian-Israeli peace treaty - sometimes called the Wadi Araba Treaty because of where it was signed – signed in October 1994 which stated that Israel would respect the special role that Jordan had historically played in Jerusalem’s holy places and, further, would give priority to the kingdom’s role during final status negotiations.
  • Israel also agreed at the time to refrain from changing – either geographically or demographically - the status of the holy city before reaching at a final agreement to which Jordan was a party.
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  • When Jordan annexed the West Bank in April 1950, Jerusalem became an integral part of the country whose constitution prohibits relinquishing or ceding any part of its territories.And even after Israel’s occupation of Jerusalem in 1967, Jordan maintained the right to oversee the city’s holy Islamic and Christian places. To this very day, the Jordanian Ministry of Awqaf (Endowments) continues to provide custodianship and services at Al-Aqsa Mosque and other religious places in Jerusalem.
  • Jerusalem’s legal and political status constitutes an important strategic file as far as the Jordanian regime is concerned. If the US changes the city’s status, from a Jordanian perspective, that would mean that the very mediator and guarantor of the Wadi Araba agreement is taking unilateral measures to change the status of a disputed territory over which negotiations have not yet been finalised
  • Jordan is the most anxious party in the region as a result of Trump’s pledges with regard to move the US embassy, a measure which would imply US acknowledgment that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel
  • recognition like this of Jerusalem as the Israel capital would breach the 1994 peace agreement, destroy all peace efforts and fatally end the final status negotiations in which the city is one of the most prominent and most crucial issues
  • the Al-Aqsa intifada in 2000 erupted and raged on for several years because of the holy city. The uprising saw the collapse of the Oslo agreement with the termination of the geographical designation of the West Bank territories into A, B and C as well as the unilateral decision to withdraw Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip without negotiations
  • Jordan is keen to avoid more chaos in the region, but especially because a large proportion of Jordanian citizens have Palestinian roots and are linked, through family and tribal ties, to Palestinians living in the West Bank
  • moving the embassy would breach the Jordanian-Israeli agreement that was signed thanks to US mediation and sponsorship. It would render final status negotiations into absurdity because the most important issue – Jerusalem - would have been settled as a fait accompli by the Israelis and the Americans
Ed Webb

World Bank Announces A New Strategy For Tunisia : Tunisia Live - 0 views

  • a program which will focus on three areas of engagement: sustainable economic growth through job creation, promotion of  social and economic inclusion with a focus on Tunisia’s minorities and gender equality, and finally an effort to strengthen governmental transparency.
  • The plan referred specifically to the Constituent Assembly’s drafting of the country’s new constitution and Tunisia’s upcoming elections as areas where the World Bank Group hopes to offer guidance.
Ed Webb

Russia, Turkey and Iran reach agreement on Syria committee | World news | The Guardian - 0 views

  • The three self-appointed guarantors of the Syrian peace process – Russia, Turkey and Iran – have spurned efforts by the UN to change the composition of a committee due to write a new constitution for the country. The 150-strong committee, due to start work next year, could pave the way for UN-supervised elections and a possible peace process that would encourage millions of refugees to return to their homeland. The agreement on the committee’s formation was formally reached by the three countries on Tuesday in Geneva and the proposals passed to the UN special envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, for his endorsement and for consideration by the UN security council on Thursday
  • the west has lost control of the Syrian crisis to the trio of countries in the so-called Astana Group
  • The UN said Russia rejected five names that De Mistura wanted to add to the list, and the envoy’s absence from the brief press conference did not bode well.
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  • The official Syrian opposition, the Syrian Negotiating Committee, has previously complained that the proposed committee is not politically balanced and may not touch sufficiently on the powers of the president.
  • the state department’s leverage in Syria as anything but a spoiler is limited
  • De Mistura said there was an extra mile to go in the marathon to construct a credible and balanced constitutional committee, and his successor would have to take up the task in the new year
  • The proposed committee consists of government supporters, opposition members and a neutral group from civilian society. The true political allegiance of the third group is critical since it will hold the political balance of power.
  • “The last word is with us, with the UN, not with any country, as good and as powerful as they may be.”
  • De Mistura, in briefing the UN security council this week, will have to address US suspicions and set out how he thinks the committee can be made more balanced and credible. Details of how the committee would operate or be chaired appear to be only sketchily agreed. President Bashar al-Assad wants the committee to meet in Damascus, a venue rejected by the opposition.
  • On Sunday Çavuşoğlu said he could envisage Turkey accepting Assad remaining as president if he was elected in free and fair elections. Turkey, along with Saudi Arabia, has done the most to support the severely weakened opposition
  • the European Union has said it will not provide reconstruction money for Syria unless democratic elections are agreed and supervised by the UN in which refugees are given a right to vote
Ed Webb

The Cypriotization of Northern Syria - JISS - 0 views

  • Turkey is turning northern Syria – Jarabulus and Afrin – into the “Turkish Republic of Northern Syria,” just as it has turned northern Cyprus into a Turkish protectorate through military and economic domination.
  • Turkey’s military interventions in northern Syria’s Jarabulus and Afrin have turned these two enclaves into Turkish military and economic protectorates. Turkish involvement in these cantons has increased the regions’ economic and political dependency on Ankara which has nearly reached the level of Turkey’s position in Northern Cyprus.
  • Turkish anxiety grew when the Pan-Kurdish maps reaching the Mediterranean Sea began to float on the social media and internet. Kurdish access to the sea would constitute a game changer as it would end the landlocked status of the Kurdish entity and will limit Kurdish dependency on Turkey and other surrounding neighboring states. Moreover, a self-sufficient independent Kurdistan could trigger spillover effects in Turkey that would shake the country’s territorial integrity.
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  • Operation Euphrates Shield. Despite that IS was declared as the operation’s main objective, the main aim was to prevent the Kurdish geographical contiguity between the Kobani and Afrin cantons that could later expand to the west and reach the Mediterranean. Indeed, Euphrates Shield’s hidden agenda surfaced when Turkey launched the “Operation Olive Branch” against the PYD-controlled Afrin region.
  • Turkey began to re-settle some of its Syrian Arab refugees (their official number reached to 3.5 million in July 2018) in the occupied zone of Northern Syria. While Turkey seeks to solve its refugee problem, it also aspires to Arabize the region by settling Syrian Arab refugees to the Kurdish canton of Afrin diluting its Kurdish character.
  • in order to boost Turkmens’ influence in the region who constitute only 8% of the whole Afrin province population, Turkey facilitated the formation and deployment of the Turkmen Muntasır Billah brigades to Afrin under the umbrella of Free Syrian Army.
  • Turkey began to re-build the infrastructure in order to encourage its Syrians refugees to re-settle. Turkey has opened the Zeytin Dalı (Afrin), Çobanbey (Al-Rai), and Karkamış (Jarabulus) crossings to connect the region to Turkey like a swing door
  • Turkey is paving wide highways to these crossings inside Syria to facilitate transport from Al-Bab and Jarabulus to Turkey. It also plans to link Manbij (currently under PYD control) to this network in the future. This will accelerate the Arabization of the region and encourage Turkish and Syrian businessmen living in Turkey to invest in the region – most likely in textile and olive sector.
  • Turkish influence in the economy of the cantons is reflected also in the use of its currency. Given the fact that most of the goods are sent into the region by Turkey, the civilian population who has little access to the Syrian Lira, began using the Turkish Lira to provide themselves their daily needs such as food and oil.
  • The situation in northern Syria clearly reflects the traditional Ottoman colonizing model that can also be seen in Cyprus. While settling loyal population to the region the Ottomans also provided welfare and other socio-economic infrastructures to the regions that they conquered.
  • Signs in Turkish can be seen on hospitals, schools, fire and police stations. Turkey is paying the salaries of the doctors, teachers, fire fighters and the policemen as well as providing electricity to the region by laying a 3 km. long power cables. Ambulances, fire brigade trucks and police vehicles are all brought from Turkey.
  • Turkey also repaired and provided equipment to Afrin schools. While putting Arabic back into the curriculum at the expense of Kurdish language, Turkish flags, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s posters alongside with July 15, 2016 military coup attempt martyr Ömer Halisdemir’s portraits can be seen in Afrin’s schools.
  • Despite Turkey’s official statements favoring a united Cyprus in 2004 (in the framework of the Annan Plan), and its 2018 statement supporting the territorial integrity of Syria, its actions are not reflecting the rhetoric
Ed Webb

Oman minister describes role as 'facilitator' of diplomacy in turbulent region - 0 views

  • Oman will consider supporting Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s Persian Gulf security plan — the "Hormuz Peace Endeavor" — if the Iranian plan is based on "stability." 
  • no one really wishes to use force the hard way. Even when the leader says all options are on the table, they do not mean using power, but they mean that they are determined to resolve the problem.
  • Russia should also be involved on the world stage outcome of this crisis.
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  • Al-Monitor:  Oman is one of the few countries that has maintained very strong relations with the Palestinians and the Palestinian leadership, and you also hosted the prime minister of Israel in Oman. Assuming this process takes shape, would Oman consider something like establishing formal relations with Israel? Bin Alawi:  We'll see, everything is on the table.
  • You met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in July. How do you see the situation evolving in Syria? Bin Alawi:  I think it's very promising. They are still fighting some pockets of terrorists in the north, but in general, they feel it's a hopeful and very promising situation. And I see that the committee of — the constitutional committee — has been agreed, so [they] should start putting together the [new] constitution. Within a year, probably, people might vote for their representative, and that will give more hope, more promise to the people of Syria.
Ed Webb

U.S. presses Tunisia, once a bright spot of Arab Spring, on democracy - The Washington ... - 0 views

  • The Biden administration is pressing Tunisia’s leaders to reverse steps weakening the country’s democracy, exposing friction with a nation once seen as the most promising of those who experienced Arab Spring revolutions.
  • talks between Saied and Barbara Leaf, the State Department’s top official for the Middle East. During a visit to Tunis last month, Leaf conveyed worries about a new constitutional framework “that weakens Tunisia’s democracy and how crucial going forward an inclusive and transparent reform process is to restore confidence of the Tunisian people,”
  • U.S. officials have sought to forcefully nudge Tunisia while avoiding a total rupture with a nation whose cooperation on counterterrorism is seen as a crucial element of U.S. strategy for North Africa. Tunisia, with a population of nearly 12 million, for its part values U.S. military support and needs America’s backing as it seeks a deal with the International Monetary Fund.
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  • In July, Saied’s government reacted angrily to a statement by Secretary of State Antony Blinken raising questions about a constitutional referendum vote marked by low voter turnout.
  • The Biden administration has adopted a more critical stance than its European allies, many of whom are focused on deterring migration via North Africa
  • U.S. officials believe their pressure may be having the effect of heading off even more problematic steps, like a more dramatic crackdown on the media and civil society groups.
Ed Webb

1950s U.S. Foreign Policy Looms Large in Lebanon - New Lines Magazine - 0 views

  • the legacy of containment looms large over Lebanon. For decades, the U.S. has been the single largest financial supporter of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), in a bid to balance Iran’s influence in the economically and politically stricken country. Despite growing U.S. isolationism, the Biden administration shows no sign of reversing this time-honored interest in Lebanese security, confirming $67 million in aid to the armed forces earlier this year.
  • Washington’s reductive containment mentality only deepened complex internal fissures within Lebanon’s society and achieved little for its people
  • By hitting the panic button, Chamoun unwittingly began a new era of U.S. involvement in the Middle East. Operation Blue Bat may have been a stroll along the beach for the Marines who landed at Khalde, but the invasion was both immensely risky in the short run and immeasurably costly in the long run.
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  • At the time, many celebrated Blue Bat for having achieved a hat trick of foreign policy goals: strengthening pro-Western regimes in both Lebanon and Jordan, consolidating America’s special relationship with the United Kingdom, which was growing nervous after the spectacular loss of influence in Iraq and Egypt, and securing the steady flow of oil from the Persian Gulf into Europe. Moreover, the intervention was relatively cheap (costing $200 million), swift and bloodless; only one American service member died from rogue sniper fire, while not a single Lebanese combatant or civilian sustained injury.
  • few Arab leaders rallied to Eisenhower’s anti-communist call for the simple reason that it was politically unpopular to openly side with a Western power
  • the Eisenhower Doctrine was never fit for its purported purpose. The doctrine, Washington claimed, aimed to prevent the spread of communism by isolating Nasser and building a coalition of pro-American, anti-communist, Arab states. However, this logic only held as long as Nasser became a Soviet puppet. In the event, Egypt and Arab nationalism in general proved remarkably resistant to the Cold War dichotomy, undermining the doctrine’s central tenet.
  • One convincing theory, proposed by U.S. diplomatic historian Douglas Little, points to the role of cultural and Orientalist stereotypes in conditioning U.S. policymakers to dismiss Nasser’s ability to remain neutral. This tendency, Little argues, can be traced back to the Versailles Treaty that ended World War I. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson himself, the main architect of self-determination, was reluctant to apply the principle to the Arabs; putting such ideas in the minds of certain “races,” Wilson’s Secretary of State Robert Lansing grumbled in 1918, “is simply loaded with dynamite.”
  • By the late ‘50s, these conflicting regional currents were creating deep rifts in Lebanese society. Many Sunni Muslims sympathized with Nasser and his calls for Arab solidarity, while Christians tended to identify with Western powers, especially the pro-U.S. Chamoun — a deeply unpopular Christian president whom the U.S. had helped cling to power during the turbulent years of 1957 and 1958. Adding to allegations of corruption and election fraud, Chamoun also appeared poised to remain in office for another six-year term, contrary to the Lebanese Constitution. Chamoun brutally quashed the protests caused by the resulting constitutional crisis, killing several Nasserite protesters. A small civil war began in which Christian, pro-Chamoun militias battled Nasser-inspired Sunni and Shiite fighters.
  • Direct confrontation between U.S. Marines and the anti-Chamoun United National Front was‌ narrowly avoided, as vividly depicted in Brookings director Bruce Riedel’s recent book, “Beirut 1958.”
  • In his public statement following Operation Blue Bat, Eisenhower justified the military landing by referring to civil strife “actively fomented by Soviet and Cairo broadcasts,” while making no mention of protecting Israel, protecting Western commercial interests, countering Nasserism, Arab nationalism or even nonaligned nationalism among less developed countries.These omissions were calculated. By focusing on Soviet aggression, Eisenhower was able to shoehorn the intervention into the Eisenhower Doctrine, viewing the situation in Lebanon through the prism of Cold War ideology.
  • Communist subversion was nowhere in sight
  • Washington’s tactics during the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990) involved indiscriminately shelling the tiny country from warships stationed in the Mediterranean and ended in tragedy when 241 U.S. troops were killed in the 1983 barracks bombings.
  • both crises concluded with an entrenchment of the status quo — a likely outcome even without U.S. interference. In 1958, Chamoun was replaced by Chehab as president, a solution advocated by Nasser himself. In 2008, the Doha Accords reaffirmed Hezbollah’s ability to coexist with the LAF — a model that has been followed ever since and almost certainly not what Washington had in mind in 2003.
  • Eisenhower might have drawn less criticism in the Senate had he admitted from the beginning the real reasons for Operation Blue Bat: the concern that Nasser’s Arab nationalism was undermining the West’s security and economic interests in the Middle East. Beirut, after all, was a logistical and financial hub serving all U.S.-aligned conservative regimes in the region
  • While it is true that Qasim had reached an understanding with the Iraqi Communist Party, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev’s attempts to court the Iraqis were ultimately frustrated. By early 1959, Nasserism had emerged not as an avenue of, but rather a barrier to Soviet penetration in the Middle East. In this sense, the Iraqi coup — the event that triggered Chamoun’s invocation of the Eisenhower Doctrine — did not greatly alter the regional balance of power between the two great superpowers.
  • By continuing its Cold War mentality against Iran, Washington is in danger of simplifying Lebanon to a proxy battleground and misunderstanding Hezbollah as a mere Iranian foreign policy pawn, not as a domestic political and security player in its own right.
Ed Webb

How Kais Saied uses irregular migration for political gain - 0 views

  • Since Kais Saied's assumption of the Tunisian presidency in 2019, the number of African migrants who have arrived in Tunisia without being stopped or registered has dramatically increased. “Officially, 10,000 irregular migrants have crossed the borders from Libya to Tunisia during the first half of 2022”, M.E., a former UNHCR employee in Medenine revealed. In reality, the numbers are much bigger.
  • it is believed foreign migrants in Tunisia far exceed a million. 
  • Since the start of his tenure, Saied has put the army and the police at the behest of his political project. After his referendum on a new constitution, Saied sacked and replaced nine high-ranking police officers. Furthermore, Saied's Interior Minister Taoufik Charfeddine has been appointing his own friends to key positions in the police and the National Guard.
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  • Tunisians have witnessed many Africans taking part in pro-Saied rallies in the past months.
  • Tunisia has always formally rejected calls to host migrants and refugees on a permanent basis
  • Migrants in these overpopulated, mostly working-class neighbourhoods “now have a sort of autonomous, independent communities. They have their own laws,” Zarzis-based activist Jihad A. told The New Arab, adding “migrants have strained ties with local communities. Clashes, sometimes violent, have often taken place in the past year."
  • “Unemployed, uneducated, and rebellious Tunisian youth have constituted a big challenge to the regime, since the Ben Ali era”, believes T.J., a blogger and civil society activist. “To get rid of these young people, mainly in the poor southern towns of the country, Saied’s authorities are shutting their eyes to the massive daily migration journeys from the south-eastern coasts of Zarzis, Jerba and Sfax to Italy”
  • more Tunisians sail to Europe from Tunisia than Africans
  • On August 1st, Italy’s Interior ministry revealed that the biggest numbers of irregular migrants who arrived in Italy from January to July 2022 are Tunisians, which is more than Bangladeshis, Sub-Saharan Africans, Iranians and others.
  • in Tataouine, there’s a flourishing network of migration for Tunisians to western Europe, via Turkey and Serbia.
  • individuals and families fly regularly to Istanbul. There, a Tunisian official sells them the official security document, which states that a person is ‘clean’, and not prosecuted in any legal cases in Tunisia. That document, which is never delivered in Tunisia because it is supposed to contain “classified” information, is strictly required by Serbia to allow Tunisians in
  • Medenine and Tataouine, two key regions for fuel smuggling and human trafficking, have remained without senior officials for months after President Saied sacked their old governors.
  • “Mayors can play a major role in monitoring irregular migration and in the hosting of migrants”, explains Boubaker Souid, Mayor of Tataouine. “But they are now left without any prerogative and who knows how Saied’s regime will get rid of them”.   
  • “It seems that one of the tactics of the Tunisian authorities is to empty the country of young people, who have always been the main source of contest and revolt”, says M.B., a civil society activist from Medenine.
  • On February 24, 2022, Kais Saied announced that he wanted to ban foreign funding for associations. For him, associations applying for or receiving foreign funding are “suspicious activities”. Consequently, the civil society ceased to play its role in monitoring and reporting migration issues and in delivering credible information and data about it.
    Tendentious, but certainly a lot of complex, possibly related phenomena discussed in this anonymous article
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