Posts tagged ‘rights’

August 31, 2016

الاقتصاد السياسي للطائفية في الخليج

by mkleit

معهد كارنيجي للشرق الأوسط

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يُواجه حكّام الخليج العربي حوافز تدفعهم إلى تطوير مصادر غير اقتصادية للشرعية، بهدف الحفاظ على الدعم الشعبي مع زيادة الإيرادات الشحيحة من الموارد. ومن خلال زرع بذور الريبة المجتمعية، وتسليط الضوء على التهديدات، والتأكيد على قدرتها على ضمان الأمن، يمكن للأنظمة تعزيز التأييد المحلي والحدّ من الضغوط التي تطالب الإصلاح بتكلفة أقلّ من توزيع إعانات الرعاية الاجتماعية. وتُظهر بيانات الدراسة المسحية من دول خليجية أربعة (البحرين والكويت وعُمان وقطر) أن في وسع الحكومات إرغام السكان على القبول بالجمود السياسي، حتى في الوقت الذي تتضاءل فيه الفوائد الاقتصادية التي يحصل عليها المواطنون.

الأفكار الرئيسة

  • سنّت أنظمة الخليج قواعد انتخابية وتشريعية تضفي طابعاً مؤسسياً على الانقسامات القائمة على سياسة الهوية.
  • كثيراً ماتقتصر السرديات الوطنية الرسمية في الخليج على فئة معينة، بحيث تبرز الاختلافات بين المواطنين، ويتم تمييز بعض فئات السكان على الفئات الأخرى.
  • تعامل الأنظمة الخليجية المعارضة السلمية والاحتجاج على نحو متزايد باعتبارها تشكّل تهديدات حقيقية للأمن القومي، وليس على أنها تحدّيات سياسية عادية.
  • مارست بعض دول مجلس التعاون الخليجي سياسة خارجية حازمة ومغامرة، ساهمت في زعزعة الاستقرار الإقليمي وعزّزت النزعة الوطنية العسكرية.
  • تتزايد مشاعر عدم الأمان بسبب الوعود الحكومية بالقيام بعملية إعادة تنظيم اقتصادي جذرية، في مواجهة تراجع عائدات النفط والغاز.

النتائج

  •  يكشف تحليل بيانات الدراسة المسحية المستقاة من المنطقة عن أن المزيد من المواطنين الخليجيين ذوي التفكير الأمني، مستعدون للقبول بمستويات أقلّ من الأداء الاقتصادي من جانب الحكومة في مقابل توفير الاستقرار. إذ يمثّل توفير الدولة للأمن، بالنسبة إلى هؤلاء، بديلاً عن الفوائد المالية التي يتوقع المواطنون الحصول عليها في الدول الغنية بالنفط.
  • بهذه الطريقة، يمكن لحكومات دول الخليج الاستفادة من المخاوف الأمنية للمواطنين لشراء الدعم السياسي الشعبي بتكلفة أقلّ من تكلفة توزيع المنافع المادية.
  • وبالتالي، لدى أنظمة الخليج أسباب اقتصادية وسياسية لتلوين أو اصطناع التهديدات الداخلية والخارجية، بهدف تأجيج المخاوف الشعبية على الأمن وبالتالي خفض تكلفة زيادة الدعم السياسي
  •  حكّام الخليج غير قادرين في الغالب على إدارة التوترات الاجتماعية حين تنطلق، وقد انتهى الأمر ببعضهم إلى تأجيج المعارضة ذاتها التي رغبوا في قمعها. وهذه الاستراتيجية الخطرة تنطوي على مخاطر جدّية لرفاهية المواطنين ولبقاء الأنظمة على المدى البعيد.
April 6, 2016

Armenia and Azerbaijan – The History Behind the Recent Tensions

by mkleit

Andrew Korybko

Source

 

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The unprecedented upsurge in violence along the Line of Contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh has raised universal concern that a larger conflict might be brewing, with some analysts seeing it as an outgrowth of Turkey’s destabilizing anti-Russian policies over the past couple of months.

As attractive as it may be to believe such that Azerbaijan is behaving as a total puppet of the West, such an explanation is only a superficial description of what is happening and importantly neglects to factor in Baku’s recent foreign policy pivot over the past year. It’s not to necessarily suggest that Russia’s CSTO ally Armenia is to blame for the latest ceasefire violations, but rather to raise the point that this unfolding series of militantly destabilizing events is actually a lot more complex than initially meets the eye, although the general conclusion that the US is reaping an intrinsic strategic benefit from all of this is clearly indisputable.

Instead of beginning the research from a century ago and rehashing the dueling historic interpretations that both sides have over Nagorno-Karabakh, the article at hand begins at the present day and proceeds from the existing on-the-ground state of affairs after the 1994 ceasefire, whereby the disputed territory has de-facto been administered as its own unrecognized state with strong Armenian support in all sectors. There’s no attempt to advocate one side or denigrate the other, but rather to objectively understand the situation as it is and forecast its unfolding developments.

In keeping with the task at hand, it’s essential that the point of analytical departure be an overview of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s latest geopolitical moves in the year preceding the latest clashes. Afterwards, it’s required that an analysis be given about the limits to Russia’s CSTO commitment to Armenia, which thus helps to put Russia’s active diplomatic moves into the appropriate perspective.

Following that, Part II of the article raises awareness about the US’ Reverse Brzezinski stratagem of peripheral quagmire-like destabilization along the post-Soviet rim and how the recent outbreak of violence is likely part and parcel of this calculated plan. Finally, the two-part series concludes with the suggested appeal that Armenia and Azerbaijan replace the stale OSCE Minsk Group conflict resolution format with a fresh analogue via their newly shared dialogue partner status under the SCO.

 

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Not What One Would Expect

Over the past year or so, Armenia and Azerbaijan’s geopolitical trajectories haven’t exactly been moving along the course that casual commentators would expect that they would. Before beginning this section, it’s necessary to preface it with a disclaimer that the author is not referring to the average Armenian or Azeri citizen in the following analysis, but rather is using their respective countries’ names interchangeably with their given governments, so “Armenia” in this instance refers to the Yerevan political establishment while “Azerbaijan” relates to its Baku counterpart.

This advisory note is needed in order to proactively prevent the reader from misunderstanding the author’s words and analyses, since the topic is full of highly emotionally charged elements and generally evokes a strong reaction among many, especially those of either of the two ethnicities.

 

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Armenian troops during clashes with Azerbaijan

 

Armenia:

The general trend is that the prevailing geopolitical stereotypes about Armenia and Azerbaijan are not as accurate as one would immediately think, and that neither country adheres to them to the degree that one would initially expect. It’s true that Armenia is a staunch and loyal Russian CSTO ally which maintains a presence of 5,000 troops, a handful of jets and helicopters, a forthcoming air defense shield, and possibly soon even Iskander missiles there, but it’s been progressively diversifying its foreign policy tangent by taking strong strides in attempting to reach an Association Agreement with the EU despite its formal Eurasian Union membership.

This has yet to be clinched, but the resolute intent that Yerevan clearly demonstrated in May 2015 raises uncomfortable questions about the extent to which its decision-making elite may have been co-opted by Western influences. The author was so concerned about this eventuality that he published a very controversial analysis that month explaining the various ploys by which the West has sought to woo Armenia over to its side, including the shedding of crocodile tears for its genocide victims during their centenary remembrance commemoration.

As is the established pattern which was most clearly proven by Ukraine, the more intensely that a geostrategically positioned country flirts with the West, the more susceptible that it is to a forthcoming Color Revolution attempt, so it’s unsurprising in hindsight that the “Electric Yerevan” destabilization was commenced just one month after the Armenian President was publicly hobnobbing with so many of his Western “partners”.

That anti-government push was a proto-manifestation of what the author later described in an unrelated work as “Color Revolution 1.5” technologies which seek to use “civil society” and “anti-corruption” elements as experimental triggers for testing the catalyzation of large-scale regime change movements. The geopolitical end goal in all of this, as the author wrote in his “Electric Yerevan” piece cited above, was to get Armenian nationalists such as Nikol Pashinyan into power so that they can provoke a continuation war in Nagorno-Karabakh that might conceivably end up dragging in Russia.

They thankfully didn’t succeed in this, and the sitting Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has repeatedly underscored that Armenia does not want to see a conflict escalation in the disputed territory.

Strangely, despite the regime change attempt that the West tried to engineer against Armenia, Sargsyan still declared in early 2016 that “Armenia’s cooperation and development of relations with the EU remain a priority for Armenia’s foreign policy” and “expressed gratitude to the EU for their assistance in carrying out reforms in Armenia.” Also, the EU’s External Action Service reports that the two sides formally relaunched their negotiation process with one another on 7 December with the aim of reaching a “new agreement (that) will replace the current EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation agreement.”

An EU analyst remarked in March of this year that he obviously doesn’t believe that it will be identical to the Association Agreement that the EU had offered to Armenia prior to its Eurasian Union ascension, but that of course doesn’t mean that it couldn’t share many similarities with its predecessor and create geopolitical complications for Yerevan’s economic alliance with Moscow.

It must be emphasized at this point that while the Armenian state is still closely linked to Russia on the military-political level and formally part of the Eurasian Union, it is provocatively taking strong economic steps in the direction of the EU and the general Western community, disturbingly raising the prospect that its schizophrenic policies might one day engender a crisis of loyalty where Yerevan is forced to choose between Moscow and Brussels much as Kiev was artificially made to do so as well (and possibly with similar pro-Western urban terrorist consequences for the “wrong choice”).

 

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Armenian house destroyed due to Azerbaijan shelling

 

Azerbaijan:

On the other hand, while Armenia was bucking the conventional stereotype by moving closer to the West, Azerbaijan was also doing something similar by realigning itself closer to Russia. Baku’s relations with Washington, Brussels, Ankara, and even Tel Aviv (which it supplies 40% of its energy to via the BTC pipeline) are well documented, as is its geostrategic function as a non-Russian energy source for the EU (particularly in the context of the Southern Corridor project), so there’s no use regurgitating well-known and established facts inside of this analysis.

Rather, what’s especially interesting to pay attention to is how dramatically the ties between Azerbaijan and the West have declined over the past year. Even more fascinating is that all of it was so unnecessary and had barely anything to do with Baku’s own initiative.

What happened was that Brussels started a soft power campaign against Baku by alleging that the latter had been violating “human rights” and “democratic” principles, which resulted in Azerbaijan boldly announcing in September 2015 that it was cancelling the planned visit of a European Commission delegation and considering whether it “should review [its] ties with the European Union, where anti-Azeri and anti-Islam tendencies are strong.”

For a country that is stereotypically seen as being under the Western thumb, that’s the complete opposite of a subservient move and one that exudes defiance to the West. Earlier that year in February 2015, Quartz online magazine even exaggeratedly fear mongered that “Azerbaijan is transforming into a mini-Russia” because of its strengthening domestic security capabilities in dealing with asymmetrical threats.

While Azerbaijan’s resistance certainly has its pragmatic limits owing to the country’s entrenched strategic and energy infrastructural relationship with the West over the past couple of decades, it’s telling that it would so publicly rebuke the West in the fashion that it did and suggests that the problems between Azerbaijan and the West are deeper than just a simple spat.

Part of the reason for the West’s extreme dislike of the Azerbaijani government has been its recent pragmatic and phased emulation of Russia’s NGO security legislation which aims to curb the effectiveness of intelligence-controlled proxy organizations in fomenting Color Revolutions. Having lost its influence over the country via the post-modern “grassroots-‘bottom-up’” approach, it’s very plausible that the US and its allies decided to find a way to instigate Nagorno-Karabakh clashes as a means of regaining their sway over their wayward Caspian ‘ally’.

Amidst this recent falling out between Azerbaijan and the West and even in the years preceding it, Moscow has been able to more confidently position itself as a reliable, trustworthy, and non-discriminatory partner which would never interfere with Baku’s domestic processes or base its bilateral relations with the country on whatever its counterpart chooses to do at home.

Other than the unmistakable security influence that Russia has had on Azerbaijan’s NGO legislation, the two sides have also increased their military-technical cooperation through a surge of agreements that totaled $4 billion by 2013. By 2015, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that Azerbaijan’s total arms spending for the five-year period of 2011-2014 had increased by 249%, with 85% of its supplies coming from Russia.

In parallel to that, it also asserted that Russia’s weapons exports to Europe for 2011-2015 increased by 264%, “mainly due to deliveries to Azerbaijan”. It’s plain to see that Russia isn’t treating Azerbaijan as though it were an unredeemable Western puppet state, but is instead applying a shrewd and calculated military balancing strategy between it and Armenia.

While unconfirmed by official sources, the head of the Political Researches Department of the Yerevan-based Caucasian Institute Sergey Minasian claimed in 2009 that Russia was supplying its Gyumri base in Armenia via air transit permission from Azerbaijan after Georgia banned such overflights through its territory after the 2008 war.

If this is true, then it would suggest that Russian-Azeri strategic relations are at their most trusted level in post-independence history and that Baku has full faith that Moscow will not do anything to upset the military balance in the Southern Caucasus, which of course includes the paranoid fear that some Azeri observers have expressed about Russia conspiring with Armenia to wage another war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

 

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Armenian troops during clashes with Azerbaijan

 

Strategic Calculations and CSTO Limits

Russia And Armenia:

Everything that was written above likely comes as a complete shock to the casual observer of international affairs because it flies in the face of presumed “logic”, but this just goes to show that the prevailing geopolitical stereotypes about Armenia and Azerbaijan are inaccurate and do not fully reflect the present state of affairs.

The common denominator between the two rival states is their evolving relationship with Russia, which as was just described, appears to be progressively moving in opposite directions. Again, the author does not intend to give the impression that this reflects popular sentiment in either country or its expatriate and diaspora communities, especially Armenia and its affiliated ethnic nationals, since the general attitude inside the country (despite the highly publicized “Electric Yerevan” failed Color Revolution attempt) and for the most part by its compatriots outside of it could safely be described as favorable to Russia.

This makes Yerevan’s pro-Western advances all the more puzzling, but that only means that the answer to this paradox lies more in the vision (and possible monetary incentives) of the country’s leadership than the will of its people. Still, the situation is not critical and has yet to approach the point where the pragmatic and trusted state of bilateral relations is endangered.

Russia And Azerbaijan:

That being said, to many conventional observers, Russia’s close military cooperation with Azerbaijan might seem just as peculiar as Armenia’s intimation of a forthcoming pro-Western economic pivot, but that too can be explained by a strategic calculation, albeit one of a much more pragmatic and understandable nature.

Russia has aspired to play the role of a pivotal balancing force between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and truth be told and much to the dismay of many Armenians, it did approve of UNSC Resolutions affirming Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity along its internationally recognized borders, specifically the most recent 62/243 one from 2008 which:

“Reaffirms continued respect and support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders” and “Demands the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.

What’s happening isn’t that Russia is “betraying Armenia” like some overactive nationalist pundits like to allege, but that it’s maintaining what has been its consistent position since the conflict began and is abiding by its stated international guiding principle in supporting territorial integrity.

Key to this understanding is that the conception of territorial integrity is a guiding, but not an irreversible, tenet of Russian foreign policy, and the 2008 Russian peace-enforcement operation in Georgia that led to the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the 2014 reunification with Crimea prove that extenuating circumstances can result in a change of long-standing policy on a case-by-case basis.

This can be interpreted as meaning that Moscow at this stage (operative qualifier) does not support the independence of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, but to be fair, neither does Yerevan, although the Armenian state just recently repeated its previously stated position that it could recognize the Armenian-populated region as a separate country if the present hostilities with Azerbaijan increase.

Therefore, the main condition that could push Armenia to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state and possibly even pressure Russia to follow suit would be the prolonged escalation of conflict around the Line of Contact.Geopolitical Consistency:

 

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Armenian troops during clashes with Azerbaijan

 

The Unification Conundrum:

As much as some participants and international observers might think of such a move as being historically just and long overdue, Russia would likely have a much more cautious approach to any unilateral moves that Armenia makes about recognizing the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh.

To repeat what was earlier emphasized about Russia’s political approach to this conflict, this would not amount to a “betrayal” of Armenia but instead would be a pragmatic and sober assessment of the global geostrategic environment and the likely fact that such a move could instantly suck Russia into the war.

As it stands, Russia has a mutual defense commitment to Armenia which makes it responsible for protecting its ally from any aggression against it, however this only corresponds to the territory that Russia internationally recognizes as Armenia’s own, thereby excluding any Armenian forces and passport holders in Nagorno-Karabakh.

If Armenia recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state, it would likely initiate a rapidly progressing process whereby the two Armenian-populated entities vote for unification, which would then place Russia in the very uncomfortable position of having to consider whether it will recognize such a unilateral move by its ally and thereby extend its mutual defense umbrella over what would by then be newly incorporated and Russian-recognized Armenian territory.

On the one hand, Moscow wouldn’t want to be perceived as “betraying” its centuries-long Armenian ally and thenceforth engendering its unshakable hate for the foreseeable future, but on the other, it might have certain reservations about getting directly involved in the military conflict as a warfighting participant and forever losing the positive New Cold War inroads that it has made with Baku.

Russian-Azeri relations, if pragmatically managed along the same constructive trajectory that they’ve already been proceeding along, could lead to Moscow gaining a strategic foothold over an important Turkish, EU, and Israeli energy supplier and thus giving Russia the premier possibility of indirectly exerting its influence towards them vis-à-vis its ties with Baku.

In any case, the Russian Foreign Ministry would prefer not to be placed on the spot and in such a zero-sum position where it is forced to choose between honoring its Armenian ally’s unilateral unification with Nagorno-Karabakh and abandoning its potential outpost of transregional strategic influence in Azerbaijan, or pursuing its gambit to acquire grand transregional influence via Azerbaijan at the perceived expense of its long-standing South Caucasus ally and risk losing its ultra-strategic military presence in the country.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Question is thus a quandary of epic and far-reaching geostrategic proportions for Russia, which is doing everything that it can to neutrally negotiate between the two sides in offsetting this utterly destabilizing scenario and preventing it from being forced to choose a disastrous zero-sum commitment in what will be argued in Part II to likely be an externally third-party/US-constructed military-political dilemma.

Furthermore, both Armenia and Azerbaijan want to retain Russian support and neither wants to risk losing it, which also explains why Azerbaijan has yet to unleash its full military potential against the Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and why Armenia hasn’t unilaterally recognized Nagorno-Karabakh or made an effort to politically unite with it.

Conclusively, it can be surmised that the only actor which wants to force this false choice of “either-or” onto Russia is the US, which always benefits whenever destabilization strikes Moscow’s periphery and its Eurasian adversary is forced into a pressing geopolitical dilemma.

February 5, 2016

Refugees facing the cold weather of Greece

by mkleit

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Refugees continue to reach Europe through it’s Greek gate, where a million and a half have reached last year, while the operation become harder due to the cold weather.

All photos above are credited to Alexandros Avramidis, Reuters

January 27, 2016

Iceland Boycotts Israel

by mkleit

Source
By Stephen Lendman

The whole world needs to follow Iceland’s lead. Its capital City of Reykjavik no longer will buy products made in Israel.

 

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Map of Iceland

 

Its city council voted for boycott as long as it continues occupying Palestinian territory – a bold act deserving high praise, perhaps inspiring greater numbers of cities worldwide to follow suit, then maybe countries if enough effective popular resistance against its viciousness materializes.

Petitions in Britain and America to arrest Netanyahu attracted growing thousands of ordinary people – expressing justifiable anger against an apartheid state brutalizing Palestinians for not being Jewish.

Reykjavik Social Democratic Alliance councilwoman Bjork Vilhelmsdottir introduced the motion to boycott – her last action before retiring from politics, expressing support for long-suffering Palestinians, recognizing their self-determination right, free from Israeli oppression.

Left Green Alliance governing coalition member Soley Tomasdottir expressed hope Reykjavik’s action will be a step toward ending Israel’s illegal occupation. Boycotting other countries guilty of human rights abuses may follow, she said.

By acting, “we as a city council, even though we are a small city in the far north, are doing what we can to put pressure on the government of Israel to stop the occupation of Palestinian territory,” she told Icelandic public broadcaster RUV.

Israel reacted as expected. “A volcano of hatred is erupting in the Reykjavik city council,” blustered foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon.

“There is no reason or justification for this move, besides hate itself, which is being heard in the form of calls for a boycott against Israel, the Jewish state,” he added.

“We hope that someone in Iceland will wake up and stop this blindness and one sidedness which is aimed against the only democracy in the Middle East, Israel.”

The move is largely symbolic, yet another BDS success. Its web site highlighted “a decade of effective solidarity with Palestinians,” citing the following:

 

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BDS activists in Iceland – Reuters

 

A UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report shows year-over-year direct foreign investment in Israel declined 46% in 2014.

UNCTAD’s Ronny Manos said “(w)e believe that what led to the drop in investment in Israel are Operation Protective Edge and the boycotts Israel is facing.”

French transnational company Veolia failed to win major contracts across Europe and in other countries because of its involvement in Israeli human rights abuses.

The University of Johannesburg cut ties to Israel’s Ben-Gurion University in response to boycott calls from 400 South African academics. Three-fourths of London’s SOAS University academics and students voted to back BDS.

Growing numbers of entertainers refuse to perform in Israel. Many academics decline to lecture there or participate in Israeli conferences. Thousands of professionals and activists support culturally boycotting Israel.

Over 30 US student associations and 11 in Canada voted to support BDS. Israel’s largest defense company Elbit Systems lost a major Brazilian contract. SodaStream closed its settlement factory.

The American Studies Association is the nation’s oldest and largest organization involved in the interdisciplinary study of US culture and history. It voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions.

Kuwait boycotted 50 companies profiting from Israel’s occupation. The African National Congress declared support for BDS. Sao Paulo Festival organizers ended a sponsorship arrangement with Israel.

Major European banks divested from Israeli companies. Community actions blocked Israeli ships from docking at world ports.

 

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Gazan boy stand in front of destroyed house due to israeli bombs in last war over Gaza

 

Israeli exporters are experiencing sales declines in Europe. Chile suspended a trade agreement with Israel following its summer 2014 Gaza aggression.

US churches are divesting from companies involved in Israel’s occupation. Its state owned Mekorot water company lost contracts in Argentina, Portugal and the Netherlands.

Over 500 European academics called for EU nations to boycott Israeli settlement products. Growing numbers of European city councils support BDS.

Citing Israeli “state terrorism,” Venezuela and Bolivia cut diplomatic ties. Norway refuses to sell it weapons.

These and numerous other examples of BDS effectiveness show growing world outrage against daily Israeli crimes too horrific to ignore, including against young Palestinian children.

They’re terrorized, brutalized, or murdered in cold blood. Defense for Children International-Palestine (DCIP) reported around 2,000 Palestinian children killed by Israeli forces in the past 15 years.

It blamed Israel’s “hyper-militarized environment” – calling its summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge a war on Gazan children. Over 550 died – 68% under age 12.

It blasted Israel’s judicial system for denying Palestinian children basic rights. It said conditions won’t improve until occupation ends.

Global BDS activism is the single most effective campaign against Israeli lawlessness. It hits hard where it hurts most – economically, as well as exposing its phony image as a democratic state. It highlights its apartheid viciousness.

November 11, 2015

Photos from Destroyed Neighborhoods in Syria

by mkleit

The following photos are not mine nor do I claim rights to them.

I have shared them in this post to show the amount of destruction caused by all sides of the Syrian crisis; regime, opposition, extremist groups, all are responsible for the chaos and disasters in Syria.

Syrian kid selling merchandises on a table in Der el Zour

Syrian kid selling merchandises on a table in Der el Zour

Syrian kid plays on tricycle in a besieged neighborhood by FSA in Homs

Syrian kid plays on tricycle in a besieged neighborhood by FSA in Homs

Syrian students playing in the courtyard of their school in rebel-controlled Idlib

Syrian students playing in the courtyard of their school in rebel-controlled Idlib

Girls playing in Homs

Girls playing in Homs

Children taking a walk in destroyed neighborhood of Douma, Damascus

Children taking a walk in destroyed neighborhood of Douma, Damascus

Young man riding by a bomb in Douma, Damascus

Young man riding by a bomb in Douma, Damascus

Kids swimming in a crater caused by bombing in Aleppo

Kids swimming in a crater caused by bombing in Aleppo

Girl holding a bag of licorice (unknown area)

Girl holding a bag of licorice (unknown area)

October 10, 2015

Time for an Efficient BDS حان وقت المقاطعة الفعالة

by mkleit

المقاطعة الإقتصادية كلفت الكيان الصهيوني أكثر من مليار ونصف المليار دولار خلال سنة، وحوالي 7 مليارات دولارات في السنوات الخمس الماضية… وهي حركة تراكمية، أي إن استمرت لعشر سنوات متتالية، ستكلف الكيان الصهيوني 47 مليار دولار، بحسب منظمة RAND للأبحاث والإحصائيات.

الصور أدناه هي دليل من موقع “حملة المقاطعة” لأبرز الشركات الداعمة للكيان الصهيوني في الشق الإقتصادي (هناك دعم فني وثقافي وعسكري إلخ…)، يليها صور من المواجهات الأخيرة ما بين الفلسطيين والإسرائيليين في عدة مناطق فلسطينية محتلة.

The israeli entity has suffered from the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanction) campaign around 1.4 billion dollars annually, and a 7 billion in the recent five years… it’s an accumulative movement, where it would cost “israel” around 47 billion dollars if it lasted for 10 consecutive years, in accordance to RAND corporation for research and analysis.

Below are images from “Boycott Campaign” website that introduce the most prominent economic supporters of the israeli entity (there’s also artistic, cultural, and military support…), followed by images of recent confrontations between Palestinian youth and israeli occupational soldiers in different areas of occupied Palestine.

Boycott Campaign

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BDS

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Interior of al Aqsa mosque after israeli occupational forces raided it - unknown photographer

Interior of al Aqsa mosque after israeli occupational forces raided it – unknown photographer

Palestinian guy resting near burning tires after a day of throwing stones on israeli occupational forces - unknown photographer

Palestinian guy resting near burning tires after a day of throwing stones on israeli occupational forces – unknown photographer

israeli settlers wearing Palestinian Kufiya to apprehend Palestinians throwing stones at israeli occupational forces - unknown photographer

israeli settlers wearing Palestinian Kufiya to apprehend Palestinians throwing stones at israeli occupational forces – unknown photographer

Palestinian girl holding stones in defense of her village against israeli occupation - unknown photographer

Palestinian girl holding stones in defense of her village against israeli occupation – unknown photographer

July 14, 2015

Yemen: A Voice in the Wilderness

by mkleit

“Yemeni people are not bad people, they are good people. They want to be respected, they want their sovereignty to be respected. We did not wage a war, a war was brought upon us. Our issue was an internal one and it would have been sorted out internally”

Hanan al-Harazi, her mother and her 8 year old daughter fled Yemen 10 days after the first bombs started to tear holes in her beloved country. Hanan’s daughter had begun to present the early signs of PTSD and for her sanity, the family decided to split itself down the middle, leaving Hanan’s husband behind in Yemen with his family and her two brothers. Hanan brings us a moving and powerful insight into the events leading up to the present devastation of Yemen at the hands of their Saudi oppressors and their imperialist allies.

Neutron bomb on the outskirts of Yemeni capital Sanaa

Neutron bomb on the outskirts of Yemeni capital Sanaa

Vanessa Beeley: When did you leave Yemen?

Hanan al-Harazi: I think we were in Yemen for almost 10 days after the bombing started and then there was a rocket attack on our immediate neighbourhood, very close to where we lived. After this, my daughter developed urinary incontinence and a sudden fear of any loud sound. Recently, I was looking for her for over an hour and I eventually found her hiding in the closet because she had heard an aircraft flying overhead. It will take decades to erase this trauma from her memory. I can’t even imagine what the other children still in Yemen have been going through after almost 103 days of continuous air raids. It is devastating.

V: How old is your daughter?

H: She is turning 9 in August. I used to work at a school so I know that children are not able to express themselves in words as well as adults.

I just gave her a piece of paper and I told her to write down her feelings. It was heart-breaking for me to read the pain and suffering in those baby words. A few days later, it’s the same thing, all she can draw or paint are jets bombing her country, really sad images. I know that the sun represents something really positive in a child’s life but when you have a child depicting a crying sun with a sad face, it should really pass a powerful message to the world.

We were lucky enough to have foreign passports that meant we could leave Yemen.Nobody is issuing visas to Yemeni nationals so this means 23 million people trapped inside a country that is being mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed with complete disregard for civilian life.

V: There are reports that state over 80% of the population are now enduring a humanitarian crisis. Is this figure realistic?

H: Absolutely! There is a catastrophic humanitarian crisis unfolding in Yemen. My fear is that if the blockade is not lifted we are going to witness something horrific by all standards. You are talking about a population of which almost 60% are living below the poverty line. They don’t know how to secure the next meal and this was when their world was “ok” and not in a state of war. I would say the few people who had jobs have lost them and food prices have rocketed. The capital may have slightly better facilities than some outlying areas but even there, the water is now contaminated and the cost of bottled water has trebled in price. I have no idea how people are coping.

Food is still available in the markets but supplies are sparse. Once these supplies do run out, Yemen will starve. We produce very little food in Yemen itself, the majority of foodstuff is imported so the movement of goods is essential to our survival. The blockade will ensure that we cannot survive. There has been a tiny trickle of aid via certain aid groups and NGOs but this has only reached hardest hit areas like Aden, leaving entire swaths of the country without food, water or medical facilities. The cumulative effects will be horrendous and the Humanitarian crisis will be crippling.

V: I am assuming that KSA [as Israel did in Gaza] is targeting Yemen’s infrastructure in order to destroy the civilian ability to survive this onslaught.

H: Yes absolutely. If you look back to yesterday, the events in Amran and Lahj, they have targeted food markets and livestock markets. More evidence of the coalition determination to starve the people of Yemen. The livestock constitutes part of our minimal domestic produce, so this is a deliberate destruction of the civilian ability to survive. The footage that is coming out shows that they are targeting civilian areas, schools have been hit, stadiums, sports facilities, you name it. They have hit everything. They are saying they are only targeting military centres. Perhaps in the beginning this was true. Over the last few weeks we have seen far more random & intense bombing of civilian sites.

The Ansarullah movement is pretty much part of the Yemeni fabric, the Yemeni society. They don’t carry any markings or insignia to distinguish them from the local population so it is beyond ridiculous to say that they are hitting only Ansarullah targets in a city like Sanaa, that has a population of 3 million people .The civilian death toll is way higher than if they were only targeting Ansarullah operatives.

Doctor holds bomb-surviving three-days-old girl in Sanaa, Yemeni capital

Doctor holds bomb-surviving three-days-old girl in Sanaa, Yemeni capital

V: In your view is there any alternative to resisting this attack on Yemen? Is there an option for surrender and negotiation?

H: Look, I will speak for myself and for a lot of people in Yemen. The question of Yemen’s sovereignty has always been uppermost in Yemeni minds and this led to the 2011 revolution to get rid of our long- time dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh because we knew he was largely a Saudi puppet. He was pushing the Saudi agenda in Yemen and giving it priority over the interests of the country. During this time many people lost their livelihoods and their lives and most of the major cities caught up in the revolt, came to a standstill for a while.

We have not come this far only to have another Saudi puppet government in place in Yemen. If this continues we no longer have an identity. Yemeni people are not bad people, they are good people. They want to be respected, they want their sovereignty to be respected. We did not wage a war, a war was brought upon us. Our issue was an internal one and it would have been sorted out internally.

Jamal Benomar, the former UN peace envoy to Yemen stated very openly that the warring factions were actually reaching an agreement before the first bomb hit. “When this campaign started, one thing that was significant but went unnoticed is that the Yemenis were close to a deal that would institute power-sharing with all sides, including the Houthis,” said Mr. Benomar, a Moroccan diplomat. Thus it becomes obvious that our aspirations are being sacrificed at the altar of Imperialist greed and ambition.

V: We are seeing this across the region, these internal attempts at reconciliation and agreement that are being derailed by the Imperialist agenda and their sectarian propaganda. From what you are saying, this is also happening in Yemen?

H: I can categorically state, there is no sectarian conflict in Yemen. They have been trying to ignite a sectarian war in Yemen but Yemen is one country where we have had Shafi Sunnis and Zaydi Shias praying in the same mosques for hundreds of years. We are a society that is known to intermarry between these two sects. In reality they instigated this territorial war when they wanted to split Yemen into a 6 federal state system. We are tired of having their agenda imposed upon us and being forced to implement it.

I have lived in Yemen for the last 21 years and I never knew that my next door neighbour was a Shafi Sunni or a Zaydi Shia. It was not part of our culture, we never asked. We peacefully coexisted. This balkanisation agenda was the start of the entire problem. Their division was all wrong. They left some areas totally isolated.

The Ansarullah movement and the Southern Separatist movement were both in favour of a confederal state system where Yemen would be divided into north and south existing within a federal state. Most of us were ok with that.

President Hadi [although I hate to call him our President] was pushing the Saudi agenda of the 6 state system. Another thing that a lot of people don’t realise, is that when they divided the 6 state system they purposefully isolated one state called Azal. Azal incorporated many of the Zaydi strongholds, Sadaa, Amran, Sanaa and Dhamar. Azal was left without any resources or any access to the sea. It was blatant imprisonment and suppression of what we would term the “traditional powers” in that area. It was a deliberate attempt to weaken their influence in Yemen.

So Hadi’s plan would have divided Yemen into smaller sectarian states while the Ansarullah plan was more like going back to the boundaries before unity where the south would have greater autonomy over its own internal affairs.

V: How great is the “extremist” threat in Yemen?

H: Let me give you an example. The al-Jauf area has both Sunni and Shia populations and so does Marib and elsewhere. The Zaydi Shias and Shafi Sunnis are both very moderate sects. Yemeni people have no affiliation to the Wahabi sect of Saudi Arabia. Wahabism is alien to Yemen.

We do see certain areas in the South, like Hadramaut which has been in the media lately, parts of which are totally under control of Al Qaeda. The funny thing is, the bombs are falling on the very people that are fighting these extremists. Not a single bomb has been dropped on the extremist strongholds. Even though they know that AQ is in total control of al-Mukalla in Hadramaut and the seaport in that area. That has to be a huge question mark over their true agenda in the region.

The bombing has only achieved one thing and that is to further strengthen these extremist groups in Yemen. I know that in Ansarullah controlled-areas we have the local popular committees that are in charge of security and they have been working round the clock to ensure that the extremist elements are kept at bay. On the battleground their progress has been immensely impeded thanks to the airstrikes that serve as cover for the advancing extremists.

I am not sure if there are any foreign fighters at the moment. I know there are some Saudis, but I am not aware of foreigners from Afghanistan, Chechnya for example. If things escalate I believe we will see many more of these extremists entering Yemen via our borders, yes. Right now the northern borders are secure, apart from Marib where there is heavy fighting going on.

V: How much support are you receiving from Iran?

H: I do not believe that Iran is playing any active role. They support Yemen from a media perspective only. I believe Iran’s “support” is a propaganda ploy to justify hitting Yemen. This war was planned a long time ago, even before Ansarullah moved towards the capital. It becomes very suspicious when you have a president in power and a minority group leaves its stronghold in the northernmost tip of Yemen and moves down towards the capital, Sanaa, in the centre of the country. One city after another in the north falls to them and the president says nothing. Then just as they reach agreement which was the Peace and Partnership Initiative, Hadi suddenly decides that he does not want Ansarullah to have even marginal representation in Government. That was obviously never going to be acceptable, Ansarullah is a force on the ground that must be considered part of the coalition. That is where the conflict originated and that is why they placed Hadi under house arrest because he was following Saudi instructions. Saudi was against the Ansarullah inclusion in Yemen’s government. Then Hadi fled to the south.

My personal take was that the plan was always for Hadi to flee to the south and ask the Saudis for help which justified their bombing of the north of Yemen which has traditionally been the Zaydi stronghold and a thorn in their side. Ansarullah and the army discovered this plan and moved very quickly down to the south and hence you see this widespread bombing in all areas, not just in the north.

As a final point in the analysis of Iran’s role in Yemen. Yemen is a sovereign state and we are free to have bilateral ties with whomsoever we choose. Saudi had a problem with Yemen opening up about 12 flights per week to Iran mainly for bilateral reasons because the rest of the world shut down against Yemen. We have been under Saudi influence for, at least, the last 30 years. Many will say it’s much longer due to Saudi having been implicated in the assassination of President Ibrahim Al Hamdi who was probably the best President that Yemen has ever had.

Yemen’s greatest problems are economic in nature. Saudi never did anything to resolve our economic issues other than putting our leaders on their payroll in order to effectively destroy the country. It’s nearly impossible for a Yemeni to get a visa to travel, even to the UAE.

How can a country flourish when there are so many restrictions upon its people? When Ansarullah came to power our options were reviewed and bilateral ties with Iran were naturally investigated.

Injured kid after Saudi bombing on Talah, in Sada district, northern Yemen

Injured kid after Saudi bombing on Talah, in Sada district, northern Yemen

V: There is a very strong sense of Yemen’s isolation. Even last night 180 Yemeni civilians were massacred in Amran and Lahj yet the media barely mentions it. Is this how you perceive it?

H: Yes. This goes back to decades and decades of isolation. Let me ask this question to the world. The government collapsed in Yemen in September 2014. Can you imagine a country that has gone months and months without a government in place, without a police force, without an army, with a population that does carry arms and with crushing poverty, yet the crime rate is less than “first world” countries like America. Why are these people isolated when they have this inestimable respect for human life? They are an example to the world.

News trickles out via internet, Yemen Today channel and Ansarullah’s channel, al-Masirah. It pains me that people seem to be largely ignoring our suffering, particularly when it is relatively easy to inform themselves these days. For instance, Yemen has had no coverage regarding the internationally banned weaponry that is being used against us. I know that where I work, the area has been decimated. It is an area called Faj Attan a densely populated civilian area where there are shopping areas, thousands of residential homes, schools. How can you use such weapons of mass destruction in an area like this and be exempt from investigation?

V: Are you receiving any help through Oman?

H: Oman appears to have taken a neutral stance, for which I am grateful. The interesting thing is, about a month before the bombing started, I read a report from inside Oman stating that they were preparing for a refugee crisis. They were talking about the possibility of setting up refugee camps on the Yemen/Oman borders. So when the first bombs hit at 1.30 am when we were all asleep, I knew immediately that this had all been pre-planned. Maybe because Oman are part of the Gulf Cooperative [GCC] they had information that something was being prepared against Yemen. I do know that a lot of people have been flown into Oman for treatment, particularly during the suicide bomb attacks on the mosques in Yemen.

V: How is the internet in Yemen? How much electricity or alternative power source is available?

H: People are struggling, there is no power. Can you imagine a country in the 21st century without any power at all? Many people don’t realise that much of the water used in Yemen is pumped from underground reservoirs and so we need diesel or electricity to enable this pumping process, neither of which are available.

From what I hear, electricity is available maybe 40 minutes per week in the capital, Sanaa. There are other areas in the country that have no power at all. We did have this black out problem even before the war but never to this extent. Yes some have generators but black market fuel prices are crippling.

V: You mention WMD. I know there were reports on the use of nuclear bombs. The information coming out of Yemen is sketchy. Do you have any further information or evidence of this claim?

H: I know that 2 of the bombs that were used did produce a nuclear “type” mushroom cloud. Obviously the effects of any radiation will only be seen after time.

Yemen cluster bombs, But even if they did not use nuclear missiles..the weapons they are using are still illegal and devastating. Their use of cluster bombs is well documented, some have failed to detonate and have been photographed on the ground. They have used neutron bombs which generate so much pressure. When my neighbourhood came under attack in first 10 days, the pressure I felt from a relatively distant explosion was terrifying. I had pain in my ears from the pressure draft for weeks afterwards.

The Yemenis were leading normal lives before being suddenly flung into a war zone, its bewildering for everyone. My husband is part of a food distribution network for the poor during Ramadan. He had just gone to deliver some goods to someone in the neighbourhood. Two minutes after he left there were direct rocket hits on this area and this poor man who didn’t even know where his next meal was coming from, was killed. How many more people must die senselessly to serve an Imperialist agenda?

V: Do you have a personal concept of what that Imperialist agenda is?

H: I do not think it is related to Iran despite the propaganda to the contrary. I think we are paying dearly for trying to free ourselves from Saudi slavery. We are paying for our freedom with our lives.

I have been told there are oil and more importantly, gas reserves in al-Jawf which is bordering Saudi Arabia and has been protected by them for years. In 2011 when the people took to the streets demanding a better life, President Saleh was forced to admit its existence publicly for the first time. So we are cursed, we are cursed because we have oil & gas. Every country that has natural resources is cursed and a target of Imperialist intervention.

Saudi Arabia has fostered corruption in Yemen for decades. Ansarullah were committed to ending this poisonous influence on our leaders and this would have countermanded Saudi power in Yemen. When the first bombs hit, the “sold” tribal sheikhs and politicians were seen fleeing to Saudi Arabia.

Saudi air force destroys mosque in bordering governorate of Saada in Yemen

Saudi air force destroys mosque in bordering governorate of Saada in Yemen

V: Would you be able to just elaborate on the situation in Aden and also address why Yemen is so important to Saudi Arabia.

H: Aden is being portrayed by the pro aggression media as being a battle for the legitimacy of Hadi. In 2011 Hadi was the only viable choice to fill the power vacuum. 6 million northerners voted for him while the south actually boycotted elections. This alone should counter the claims that he has legitimacy in the South of Yemen.

In Aden what is happening now is that Hadi has gone back to the South but it has to be made clear that the people of Aden and the surrounding area are not pro Hadi, they are also fighting for their independence and are not pro Saudi aggression.

If you look at a map of the Middle East, Saudi Arabia is landlocked. Its only access or lifeline to the outside world is via the Bab-el-Mandeb straits in the south of Yemen and the Straits of Hormuz which are controlled by Iran. Yemen has never attempted to block or to impede movement through the Yemeni controlled Mandeb straits. To be honest I don’t even think that Yemen truly controls this area, it is covertly under the control of the Imperialist nations. Saudi Arabia has a lot of internal turmoil and is brutally crushing its own internal opposition. We would never interfere in Saudi internal affairs but I believe that they fear a strong Yemen. With our new constitution clearly stating that leaders can only have two terms in power, we would be the only republic in the GCC block. In Saudi Arabia, which is a despotic regime, our evolution could threaten the stability of their ruling families.

V: What is the message that you would like to convey to the outside world.

H: My hope right now, apart from a miracle from God, is that there are more good people than bad people in this world and I wish we could reach out to them and tell them, today it is me, tomorrow it is you.

We just want to survive, we want to live. Yemen is not the country it is being portrayed to be. We are not terrorists. We are proud of our culture. We are a peace loving people. Yemen is one of the most beautiful and diverse countries in the world. We are being portrayed as savages by a media that is supporting the savaging of our land.

I also have to say I respect Ansarullah for their wisdom and self -restraint especially when our mosques came under attack. Mosques that may have been built by Zaydi but are inclusive of all sects for worship. Ansarullah released a statement instructing people not to be drawn into the foreign conspiracy to ignite sectarian divisions. I feel they genuinely represent millions of Yemeni who are fighting for self-determination and recognition as a sovereign nation.

Surrender is not an option while our own internal peace process is being derailed by external aggression. Saudi Arabia has failed to send in ground troops and they are attempting to bomb us into submission. They see that this will not succeed so they have now imposed this brutal, horrific, cruel, vicious blockade on Yemen in the hope that the Yemeni people will turn against those who are fighting the Saudi invaders. I am proud of the solidarity that my people have shown to one another. Even in a situation like this where they have so few resources they will still take care of their neighbours. We are human beings and we have a right to a decent life.

Yemen is far from perfect but no country in this world is perfect. We did not wage this war, we did not provoke this war. For the first 40 days of the Saudi offensive, Yemen did not fire one bullet towards Saudi Arabia. It is rank hypocrisy from Saudi Arabia to label us the aggressor. It has always been the opposite, Saudi Arabia has always been sending its filthy elements into my country and attempting to spread its disgusting Wahabi ideology. Whether Zaydi or Shafi we will never adopt this distorted, twisted, ugly version of Islam.

I would go so far as to state that Yemen has potential to be a model for true democracy in the Middle East. There are 25 million people who call Yemen, home. We simply ask to be left in Peace. Is that too much to ask?

Two small refugees from Sada district to Houdeida in Yemen

Two small refugees from Sada district to Houdeida in Yemen

This interview first appeared at thewallwillfall.wordpress.com

Vanessa Beeley is a photographer, writer, peace activist and volunteer with the Global Campaign to Return to Palestine. She lived in Gaza during Operation Pillar of Defence and again in 2013. In 2014 she established the Gaza Smile Project to raise funds for children in Gaza. She spent her childhood in Egypt with her father, Sir Harold Beeley who was Special Envoy to Cairo during both Suez Crises, confirmed Nasserist and Middle East Advisor to Ernest Bevin. Since 2011, Vanessa has spent most of her time in the Middle East . She was recently invited to be on the steering committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement. Visit her blog thewallwillfall.wordpress.com.

July 1, 2015

Gaza: The hijacking of The Marianne by “The Pirates of the Mediterranean”Map of occupied Palestine

by mkleit

London Progressive Journal

Map of occupied Palestine

Map of occupied Palestine

Piracy:” The practice of attacking and robbing ships at sea.” (Oxford English Dictionary)

The “international community” is, it would seem, remarkably selective over piracy.

Concern over Somali pirates was such that foreign navies were sent to protect shipping in international waters. In one incident three alleged pirates were killed and a Somali teenager spirited a way to the US to be tried, whilst eleven others were sent for trial to Kenya.(1)

However, in the early hours of the morning (local time) of 29th June, three Isr aeli Navy ships intercepted and hijacked a Swedish flagged ship, the Marianne av Göteborg on route to Gaza in the State of Palestine (recognized as a State by the United Nations on 30th November 2012 by an overwhelming vote of 138-9, elevating Palestine to Non-Member Observer State – a status bestowed on just one other entity, The Vatican).

The ship was in international waters (approximately one hundred nautical miles off shore) but was boarded, towed by Israeli Navy vessels to Israel’s port of Ashdod. Cameras, computers, mobile phones and belongings h ave been allegedly stolen by those who boarded. It is hoped they will be returned but the track record is not good judging by the lack of return of personal – or any – items, including aid cargo purchased by public donations destined for the people of Gaza, from the numerous previously pirated vessels. The Marianne was carrying a consignment of solar panels for a people whom, for most, a constant electricity supply has become a distant memory

Israel’s territorial waters (in to which the Marianne had no intention of heading) presumably should extend just twelve nautical miles from shore, as laid down in the 1984 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea which directs that :

“Every State has the right to establish the breadth of its territorial sea up to a limit not exceeding 12 nautical miles, measured from baselines determined in accordance with this Convention.” They do not extend one hundred nautical miles.

Israel has stated the Marianne was requested to change course a number of times. Israel has no legal right to demand anything of a vessel in international waters

Marianne av Göteborg flotilla

Marianne av Göteborg flotilla

In a mind numbingly schizophrenic communication to the Marianne, the Israeli government wrote:

“There is no blockade on the Gaza Strip, and you are invited to transfer humanitarian supplies through Israel. ”If there is “no blockade”, it has to be asked, why should humanitarian supplies be sent to Israel and why indulge in multiple warship piracy, towing the ship to a foreign country to which it had never intended to travel?

The communiqué ended in regret that the Marianne’s passengers had not chosen to visit Israel where they would have been “impressed” by the democracy upheld by the Jewish state that affords equality and religious freedoms for all its citizens. So they we re forcibly taken there to experience the “freedoms” from the inside of Givon prison, where all but two are currently being held. It is surely a truly mad world in “the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Perhaps the government scribe was unaware of the latest of innumerable acts far from resembling democracy or equality , targeting, as ever, children:

“While budget allocations for private Christian schools have steadily shrunk, the private yeshivas serving Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish population have received increased allotments, to the point that the state now covers 100 percent of their budgets. The yeshivas do not teach the Ministry of Education’s core curriculum, and their matriculation rate hovers at a dismal 10 percent.” (2)

Further: “State schools that serve Palestinian citizens of Israel are notoriously underfunded, with a recent report finding that the state allots $1,100 per year per Jewish student versus $192 per Arab student in the state system. No surprise, then, that average matriculation rates at state-run Arab high schools are about 27 percent, compared with 95 percent for the leading Christian schools. What’s more, teachers at state schools in the Arab sector must be vetted by Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security service. And the schools’ state-mandated curriculum places draconian limitations on teaching Palestinian history and literature.”

However, regarding the Christian schools:

“Last summer, the situation became critical after the ministry set a cap so low on the amount the schools may raise through tuition that they could no longer make up the shortfall caused by the shrinking state budget allocation.

Father Fahim Abdelmasih , the head of the Christian Schools’ Office in Israel, said that six months of negotiating with the Ministry of Education yielded no solution, calling the tuition caps a ‘death sentence’ for Christian schools in Israel.”

So much for equality and religious freedom for all its citizens – and then there is that wall, the segregation roads, the segregation buses, the checkpoints, the travel bans, bombed home repair bans, home demolitions, olive grove arsons, flower, fruit, vegetable export bans – an embargo on all normality.

The passengers of the Marianne currently being “impressed” by Israeli democracy from the inside of Givon Prison are:

Dror Feiler (Sweden) Musician and Composer

Ana Miranda (Spain) Member of the European Parliament

Nadya Kervorkova (Russia) Journalist

Kajsa Ekis Ekman (Sweden) Journalist, Author

Robert Lovelace (Canada) University Professor and retired Algonquin Chief

Joel Opperdoes (Sweden) Crew

Gustave Bergstrom (Sweden)

Herman Reksten (Norway)

Kevin Neish (Canada)

Jonas Karlin (Sweden)

Charlie Andreasson (Sweden)

Ammar Al- Hamdan (Norway) Aljajeera Arabic

Mohammed El Bakkali (Morocco) Aljazeera Arabic

Ohad Hemo (Israel) Channel 2 Israeli TV

Ruwani Perera (New Zealand) Maori TV

Jacob Bryant (New Zealand) Maori TV

Alarmingly , the whereabouts of passengers Dr Moncef Marzouki, former President of Tunisia (2011-2014), and Palestinian politician Bassel Ghattas, a Member of the Israeli Knesset, are unknown at the time of writing.

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, binding for one hundred and fifty four nations and the European Union (not yet ratified by the United States) makes “piracy a universal crime and subjects pirates to arrest and prosecution by any nation. ” However, for all the quoting of its fine words here, surprise, Israel has not signed this important, detailed Convention as it has ignored or violated innumerable UN Resolutions (3), starting from the country’s infancy with Resolution 57 of 18th September 1948, which expressed: “deep shock at the assassination of the UN Mediator in Palestine, Count Folke Bernadotte, by Zionist terrorists. ”

Marianne's position before being pirated by israeli navy

Marianne’s position before being pirated by israeli navy

No doubt some of the reasons for disregarding the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea can be found in Part 7:

Article 89: No State may validly purport to subject any part of the high seas to its sovereignty.

Article 90: Every State, whether coastal or land-locked, has the right to sail ships flying its flag on the high seas.

Article 100: All States shall cooperate to the fullest possible extent in the repression of piracy on the high seas or in any other place outside the jurisdiction of any State.

Ironically Somalia was an early signatory to the Convention, signing in 1982, thus can be held accountable. Will accountability ever apply to “the only democracy …” Will the UN, the “international community ” ever demand it?

“The “Pirates of the Mediterranean”, tweeted someone this morning.

What a tragedy that a people who have historically suffered so grievously are being tarred by the actions of a relative few and of the government of Israel, a haven defined by Lord Balfour (2nd November 1917) as : “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people … it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine …”

The “existing non-Jewish community” are either exiled, bombed, restricted, or in an open prison. Those who raise money and sail in solidarity are hijacked, put in a closed prison or, as in the case of the Mavi Marmara, murdered.

When will impunity end?

1. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8003936.stm

2. http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/6/5/israels-funding-policy-on-christian-schools-spurs-controvery.html

3. http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2010/01/27/rogue-state-israeli-violations-of-u-n-security-council-resolutions/

May 19, 2014

لو فلسطين مش محتلة

by mkleit

هم يحلمون أيضا، ليسوا كما يُتهمون في زوايا المقاهي الثملة ولا يشبهون ما يسبغ عليهم تحت دخان النرجيلة أو السيجارة في جلسات التحليل الاجتماعي-الأمني. «هم» كما نحن، يحلمون بالخروج من المخيمات التي أصبحت كالبؤر الأمنية، ويريدون العودة الى وطنهم، الى فلسطين. ولذلك، بعضٌ من «نحن» ذهبوا الى مخيميّ برج البراجنة ومار الياس في بيروت لنوّثيق حلم العودة الفلسطيني.

انبثقت الفكرة من النسخة الفلسطينية التي أنشئت في الداخل المحتل، وخاطت مشاعر الفلسطينيين للعودة عبر نسج خيوط من الأحلام بعضها ببعض، لتكوين صورة فلسطين الجميلة. فكما قال ذاك الرجل في الفيديو «هيية ومحتلة حلوة، كيف لكن اذا ما كانت محتلة؟». وبهذه الجملة وغيرها من عبارات، بادرت زميلتي كريستينا عبّود لتوثيق أحلام فلسطينيي مخيمات لبنان لأنهم «يستطيعون الحلم أيضاً».هكذا، ذهبنا سوياً، الى مخيميّ مار الياس وبرج البراجنة في بيروت لإجراء المقابلات مع فلسطينيّي المخيميّن عبر طرح سؤال واحد «لو فلسطين مش محتلة، شو كنت عملت؟». كان الجواب البديهي دوماً «أعود الى بلدتي وأقبّل ترابها»، والأمر سيان من كبيرهم الى صغيرهم.

وقد أرشدنا في المخيميّن شخص في كل مخيم على حدة، وذلك لقلة معرفتنا «بزواريب» المخيمات الضيقة وبأهالي المخيميّن. فكان علي أيوب، لبرج البراجنة، و»الحنون»، من مار الياس، في قمة اللطف والمساعدة، فلولاهما، لكنا نحاول إيجاد طريقنا خارج المخيمين الى الآن بسبب كثرة شوارعها الصغيرة فـ»زاروب واحد بيفوتك بألف زاروب». وانكسرت أمامنا صورة «غوغاء المخيم» التي يوسم بها المكان دوما، بعد تعرّفنا على بعض الأهالي، حيث أصر بعضهم على استضافتنا في منازلهم لارتشاف القهوة خلف عدسة التصوير.

أما أمام الكاميرا، فلم يتوان الفلسطينيون عن إدانة الحكومات العربية بتواطئها ضد القضية، وإظهار استيائهم من البقاء في لبنان تحت وطأة قوانين العمل الظالمة بحقهم والعنصرية الموّجهة صوبهم دوما في كل صغيرة وكبيرة، بحسب ما ذكر أحد اللاجئين الذي رفض عرض كلمته أمام عدستنا. وقال أحدهم وعيناه تكابران لئلا تغلبها الدموع «عم ندفع ثمن الإنتماء لهذا الوطن… وإذا رجعنا بديش إشتغل إشي، بدي أموت جوع بس بدي إرجع لأرضي». ولعلها كلمات رددها لبنانيو الجنوب إبان الإحتلال الصهيوني من 1982 الى 2000، وأيضاً من يعيشون في الغربة، يكدّون في العمل لتحصيل قوتهم وإرسال بعض منه الى ذويهم في لبنان. فلو تخيّلنا للحظة أننا مكانهم، هل نتحمل البعد عن الوطن أو حتى عدم القدرة للرجوع في الزمن القريب؟ هل نلوم الغضب الفلسطيني من العالم أجمع لأنه غدر به ووضعه في موقف لا يحسد عليه؟ وهل حسن ضيافة اللبناني وكرمه لا يناله الا الاغنياء أم ان المحتاج والمسكين أحق به؟

August 19, 2013

Shades of Anger

by mkleit

Rafeef Ziadah, a Palestinian-Canadian poet, that will mesmerize you with her amazing words on the truth behind the israeli apartheid wall.

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