Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Kerry’s Coup from Mediator to Antagonist
By Nicola Nasser*
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to start his ninth trip of shuttle diplomacy between Palestinian and Israeli leaders on this December 11. However, the bridging “security arrangements,” which he proposed less than a week earlier on his last trip, have backfired and are now snowballing into a major crisis with Palestinian negotiators who view Kerry’s “ideas” as a coup turning the US top diplomat from a mediator into an antagonist.
Kerry’s “ideas” had provoked a “real crisis” and “will drive Kerry's efforts to an impasse and to total failure,” the secretary general of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Yasser Abed Rabbo, said on this December 9.
Resumption of the peace talks and
U.S. involvement in the negotiations with were
both on record Palestinian demands. Disappointed by the deadlocked negotiations
and more by the way Kerry decided finally to get his country involved, the
Palestinian presidency expectedly stands now to regret both demands. Israel
Kerry’s shuttle diplomacy during his current trip seems more aimed at controlling the damage his “ideas - proposal” caused than at facilitating the deadlocked Palestinian – Israeli bilateral talks.
On this December 6, Kerry said that (160) American security specialists and diplomats, headed by General John Allen, the former commander of the U.S. forces in Afghanistan, had drafted the “proposal,” believing “that we can contribute ideas that could help both Israelis and Palestinians get to an agreement.”
According to leaks published by mainstream Israeli media, including Israeli Channel 10 news, Haaretz, Maariv, Yedioth Ahronoth and DEBKAfile, as well as by the official Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam, the U.S. “security arrangements” propose:
* Demilitarization of the future State of Palestine.
monitoring of its demilitarization. U.S.
* To put the border crossings into
under joint Israeli-Palestinian control. Jordan
* Maintaining an Israeli military presence deployed along the western side of
Jordan River after the
establishment of a Palestinian state.
* Installing Israeli early warning stations on the eastward slopes of the
* Postponement of arrangements for the final status of Gaza Strip, i.e. severing the strip from the status planned by Kerry’s proposal for the
* All of the foregoing are on the background of the U.S. recognition of an understanding that the large Israeli illegal colonial settlements on the West Bank would be annexed to Israel, according to the letter sent by former U.S. President George W. Bush to the comatose former Israeli premier Ariel Sharon in April 2004, to which the incumbent administration of President Barak Obama is still committed.
Kerry and his administration have obviously coordinated a political coup by the adoption of the Israeli preconditions for recognizing a Palestinian state almost to the letter, turning the Palestinian priorities upside down and changing the terms of reference for the Palestinian – Israeli negotiations, which Kerry succeeded to resume and sponsor late last July.
When he announced the resumption of talks on last July 29, Kerry declared that his goal would be to help the Israelis and Palestinians to reach a “final status agreement’” within nine months.
Now, President Barak Obama, speaking at Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington last Saturday, says there would have to be a “transition process” and that the Palestinians wouldn’t get “everything they want on day one” under an accord, which initially may exclude Gaza, and let the “contiguous Palestinian state,” which he had previously promised, wait. The aim of the negotiations now is to reach a “framework that would not address every single detail,” he added.
And now Kerry, on the same occasion, was speaking about a “basic framework” and establishing “guidelines” for “subsequent negotiations” for a “full-on peace treaty,” i.e., in his game of words, another “road map.”
Kerry moreover hinted that the negotiations might have to extend beyond the agreed upon nine months, thus, from a Palestinian perspective, planning to buy Israel more time to create more colonial facts on the occupied Palestinian ground.
Kerry’s “ideas” alienated the Palestinian “peace camp” and negotiators led by Fatah, which rules the Palestinian Authority (PA) and leads the PLO, who have put “all their eggs in the U.S. basket” for the past two decades, let alone all the other PLO member factions who are against the resumption of the negotiations with Israel for pragmatic reasons, but first of all because they did not trust the U.S. mediator; Kerry has just vindicated their worst fears. Non-member organizations like Hamas and al-Jihad oppose the negotiations as a matter of principle.
On December 8, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, according to The Times of Israel three days later, met with the American consul general in Jerusalem, Michael Ratney, and formally rejected the proposal, saying that the Palestinian position was “unequivocal”: no Israeli presence, though the Palestinians would tolerate a third-party military presence.
On the same day on the occasion of the first 1987 Palestinian Intifada against the 1967 Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories, the PLO Executive Committee in a statement said the Palestinian people will not accept Kerry’s proposed plan, which the committee’s secretary general Abed Rabbo described as “extremely vague” and “open-ended.”
On the same day in
the PLO chief negotiator Saeb Erakat, commenting on Kerry’s proposals, said
that the Palestinian leadership “perhaps” committed a “strategic mistake” by
agreeing to the resumption of negotiations with Israel
instead of seeking first the membership of international organizations to build
on the UN General Assembly’s recognition last year of as a non-member state. Palestine
The former second in command in Erakat’s negotiating team, Mohammad Shtayyeh who resigned his mission recently because there was no “serious Israeli partner,” called for replacing the U.S. sponsorship of the negotiations by an international one, on the lines of the Geneva conferences for Iran and Syria, because the U.S. sponsorship is “unbalanced.”
Former negotiator Hassan Asfour wrote that kerry’s plan, which he described as a “conspiracy,” would “liquidate the Palestine Question and end any hope for a Palestinian state,” adding that its rejection is a “necessity and national duty” because it “violates the red national lines.”
Member of the PLO executive committee and former Palestinian chief negotiator, Ahmad Qurei’, said Kerry’s plan replaces the land for peace formula by a security for peace one as the basis for Palestinian – Israeli talks.
Abed Rabbo said last week in Ramallah that if the
accepts that final borders are set according to what determines are its security
needs “all hell with break loose.” Israel
Kerry who on his last eighth trip warned Israelis of a Palestinian third Intifada seems himself laying the ground for one. His “ideas” clash head to head with the Palestinian repeated and plain rejection of long or short term interim or transitional arrangements based only on
He seems obsessed with
Israel’s security as “the top priority” for
Washington, both in nuclear talks with and peace talks with the
Palestinians. In his press
availability at Iran Ben
Airport on December 6 he used the word
“security” and “secure” twenty times in relation with , but no words at all about
the Israeli “occupation” and “settlements.” Israel
George Friedman of Stratfor on December 3 reported that “
's current strategic position is
excellent” and “faces no existential threats.”
About “the possibility that Israel Iran
will develop a nuclear weapon,” Friedman wrote: “One of the reasons Israel has not attempted an air strike, and one
of the reasons the United States
has refused to consider it, is that 's prospects for developing a
nuclear weapon are still remote.” Iran
Despite objections to Kerry’s “security arrangements” by the Israeli defense and foreign cabinet ministers, Moshe Ya’alon and Avigdor Lieberman, the chief Israeli negotiator and justice minister Tzipi Livni admitted that the proposed American security framework addresses a large part of
security needs. Israel
Obsession with “
’s security” could not be
interpreted as simply a naïve commitment out of good faith by an old hand
veteran of foreign policy like Kerry. Israel
More likely Kerry is dictating to and pressuring the Palestinian presidency with the only option “to take” his proposal or “leave it,” to be doomed either way, by its own people or by the U.S.-led donors to the PA. With friends like Kerry, Palestinian Abbas for sure needs no enemies.
Ironically, Kerry’s “ideas” create a solid political ground for a Palestinian consensus that would be an objective basis for ending the Palestinian divide and reviving the national unity between the PLO in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip as a prerequisite to be able to stand up to Kerry’s “coup.”
Such a development however remains hostage to a decision by President Abbas who is still swimming against the national tide because he has made peace making through negotiations only the goal of his life and political career.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
Insurgency Responsible for Civilian Plight of Syrians
By Nicola Nasser*
Creating a humanitarian crisis in
real or fabricated, and holding the Syrian government responsible for it as a
casus belli for foreign military intervention under the UN 2005 so-called
“responsibility to protect” initiative was from the very eruption of the Syrian
conflict the goal of the US-led “Friends of Syria’ coalition. Syria
Foreign military intervention is now ruled out as impossible, but what the Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin described on last November 29 as “the biggest humanitarian crisis in a decade” was created and this crisis “is worsening and no end is in sight” according to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent (IFRC) on November 11.
Objective and non-objective as well as official and non-official reports about the responsibility of the Syrian government are abundant, but that of the insurgents has been for too long covered up and only of late come under the scrutiny of human rights organizations and media spotlight.
The early militarization of civilian protests in
Syria aborted all prospects for a long overdue
peaceful change in
and created the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today. Syria
Militarization opened the Syrian doors wide for foreign military, intelligence and political intervention to turn a national conflict between the haves and have-nots into a regional and international one.
More importantly, unguardedly and grudgingly but knowingly the so-called “Friends of Syria” also opened the Syrian doors to al-Qaeda linked offshoots as an additional weight to enforce a “regime change;” in no time they hijacked the armed leadership of the marginal local armed insurgency and became the dominant military power out of the control of the intervening regional and international powers who financed, armed and logistically facilitated their infiltration into Syria.
The responsibility of the “Friends of Syria,” both Arab and non-Arab, for the militarization and the ensuing humanitarian crisis was highlighted by the US former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call on Syrian rebels not to disarm as much by the Turkish, Saudi and Qatari opposition to a political solution through the upcoming Geneva – 2 conference next January 22.
last December added al-Nusra Front to its list of terrorist organizations,
topped by al-Qaeda, supposedly to tip the balance in favor of what is called, in
terminology, the “moderates” against the terrorists in the Syrian insurgency, it
was a measure taken too late. US
The US measure was only a green light for the beginning of another war inside the Syrian war, this time launched by The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Da'āsh) against all others in the insurgency, including al-Nusra Front.
The end result was further exacerbation of the Syrian humanitarian crisis, for which the
“friends” could not be absolved of responsibility and should be held
accountable. United States
The responsibility of the insurgency, which is politically sponsored, financed, armed and logistically facilitated by them, is now unfolding to uncover the fact that the militarization of the early legitimate peaceful protests has created the largest humanitarian crisis in the world today by the military tactics the insurgents used.
These tactics include mortar shelling of civilian densely populated areas under government control, targeting public services infrastructure of power, oil and gas, hospitals and health clinics, schools and universities, stealing public warehouses of strategic basic food reserves, dismantling and stealing public and private factories, flour mills and bakeries, interrupting or cutting transportation and traffic on highways, assassinations, extrajudicial killings and public beheadings, suicide bombings in city centers, targeting and besieging minorities, destroying and desecrating all religious and historic relics, flooding Syria with tens of thousands of foreign mercenary fighters obsessed by the al-Qaeda-like bizarre interpretations of Islam who violently compete among themselves for local leadership and war exploits because they are controlled by competing foreign intelligence agencies, and subjecting the population who come under their control to their brand of Islamic law courts, fatwas and orders, which dumped women out of society altogether to be reserved only for their sexual needs, etc.
However, exploiting the fact that the regular army was deployed along some seventy miles of the ceasefire line for a confrontation with the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) on the Syrian Golan Heights and trained for a regular warfare, their strategic military tactic was from the start to entrench themselves among the civilian population, using them as human shields, in countryside towns and villages where the army has no presence and where even the police and security agencies maintain minimal presence or none at all.
The early successes of the insurgents were military exploits against peaceful civilians; they were not achieved in military vs. military battles. It was enough for a few rebels to hold any such peaceful town or village hostage, but it needs an army operation to kick them out.
Except for the northern city of ar-Raqqah, which Da'āsh turned into what the Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on last November 8 defined as “Syria’s answer to (Afghanistan’s) Kandahar – the birthplace of the Taliban” since the rebels stormed the city early last March, the Syrian state maintains control and presence in all the major cities.
But the official Arab Syrian Army had been on the defensive for some two years since the eruption of the insurgency in 2011. It needed this time to adapt, train and allocate counter insurgency units to fight in irregular city wars.
Since its strategic victory in al-Qaseer early last June it has gone on the offensive and is rapidly gaining more ground and achieving successive successes ever since.
However, the insurgency bears the main responsibility, mainly during the “defensive” interval, for the civilian plight; waves of refugees and displaced people came out from the areas under their control to find refuge either in government held cities or across the nearest borders with neighboring states. The latest largest wave of refugees of the Syrian Kurds into northern
had nothing to do with government and was caused by infighting among
The fact that the Syrian state and government were reacting rather than acting against the insurgency is now coming to light. This fact is explained better by the UK-based opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which reported on this December 3 that it had documented the death of (50,927) government soldiers versus (36228) insurgents including (6261) non-Syrian fighters.
Rebel infiltration into countryside towns and villages was the main reason for more than two million internally displaced civilians who left their homes as soon as they could out of fear either of the rebels themselves and their practices or the inevitable government retaliation. They were taken care of by the government in government shelters.
In addition to Christians and other minorities targeted by the rebels who posture as the defenders of Sunni Islam, most of the refugees and those displaced are Sunni Muslim Syrians and more than one million of them are hosted by their compatriot Alawites in the west of the country, a fact that refutes the narrative of the US government and media about a “civil” and “sectarian” war in the country.
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. email@example.com
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Obama’s ‘Big Prize’ to Earn Nobel Peace Prize
By Nicola Nasser*
Indeed, US President Barak Obama has gone a long way to earn his Nobel Peace Prize, which was prospectively and in advance awarded in 2009 to the 44th president of the United States while less than eight months in office.
However, Obama’s “big prize” to make him “feel that I deserve” the Nobel Prize as he had said then will be waiting for him until he ends the ongoing Israeli war on the Palestinian people and occupation of their land, at least since 1967.
This Israeli war lies at the heart of both the wars Obama inherited as well as those he has just averted and has been all along the source of regional wars, instability and insecurity as well as the source of the deep-rooted anti-Americanism in the
To his credit, President Obama, true to his promise to “end a decade of wars,” wound up the war on
now coordinating winding down his country’s war on Afghanistan
next year and twice this year he has navigated successfully to avert and avoid
dragging his country into wars on Syria
and . Iran
It doesn’t matter much whether Obama has gone thus far out of principle or under the pressures of the financial crisis in his country and the emerging geopolitical realities internationally and regionally in the
Pressures would be more likely an interpretation if one is to judge by his shift from his former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s call on Syrian rebels not to disarm with the aim of enforcing a regime change in Syria to the US co-sponsoring now the upcoming Geneva – 2 conference on January 22 for a political solution of the Syrian conflict.
But the “out of principle” interpretation seems more likely if one is to judge by the AP wire story about the background of the Iran deal, which revealed that Obama was conducting “secret talks” with Iran for about a year before the election last summer of the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, to whose “moderation” a lot of credit was attributed for the success of negotiating the deal.
It is true that Obama’s ongoing “drone war” on Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere, his “leading from behind” in the NATO-led war on Libya, his “warships diplomacy” and “sanctions war” on Syria, Iran and of late on Egypt all vindicate calls for rescinding his Nobel prize, but ending the ongoing Israeli war on the Palestinian people remains his only daring peace move that will tip the balance to his credit for good.
Except for his failure to deliver on his promise to close the
detention camp on the Cuban
territory, the Arab – Israeli conflict remains the most critical foreign policy
area where his deeds still do not match his words. Guantanamo Bay
Long before his opposition to the US-led war on
Iraq in 2003, Obama came of political age in the campus anti-nuclear movement of
the 1980s and was elected as an anti-war figure; at a presidential campaign
debate in South Carolina in 2007 he spoke
about meetings with the leaders of Iran,
and other nations hostile to his country. He was awarded the Noble Peace Prize
“for his extraordinary
efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation” and for his
vision and work “for a world without nuclear weapons.” North Korea
After his new START treaty with Russia cutting down the two countries’ nuclear arsenals, disarming Syria of its chemical arsenal and restricting Iran’s nuclear program to peaceful purposes, disarming Israel of its nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction remains the litmus test which will determine the credibility of Obama’s endeavor “for a world without nuclear weapons” and will qualify him to “deserve” the Nobel Peace Prize.
After the signing of the four-page “Joint Plan of Action” interim nuclear deal between Iran and the 5-plus-1 partners in Geneva on this November 24, “He can now also say he has avoided a third war,” according to Bruce O. Riedel, a former administration official who is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, quoted by The New York times last Monday.
However the “third war” has been raging bloodily and mercilessly for less than three years now in Syria, “led from behind” by his administration and either openly armed, financed and logistically supported by the US regional Qatari, Saudi and Turkish allies or proxies, it doesn’t matter which, or away from media spotlights by the US Israeli strategic ally.
Partnering with Russia to conclude the January 22 Geneva – 2 conference with a successful political solution of the Syrian conflict, by drying up the regional sources of arms and money that fuel the conflict, will be Obama’s “small prize” towards earning his Nobel prize.
But his “big prize” will remain tied to ending the sixty five-year old Israeli war on the Palestinian people.
Israel’s warmongering against Iran, Syria, Lebanese Hezbullah and Palestinian anti-Israeli occupation resistance movements besieged in the Gaza strip stands isolated in the face of a consensus by the world community on pursuing Obama’s pledge that “diplomacy would continue” because, as he said last Sunday, “we cannot close the door on diplomacy, and we cannot rule out peaceful solutions to the world's problems.”
“The plan of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu … has been to launch a massive military assault on
no guarantee of success in ending the nuclear program but would almost
certainly unleash a region-wide war.” (http://www.philly.com,
Nov. 24, 2013) Iran
Netanyahu condemned the Iran deal as an “historic mistake;” he stated that “Israel is not bound by the agreement” and has the right to “defend itself by itself” before sending his cabinet minister Naftali Bennett to Capitol Hill to rally Congress against the White House and the State Department and calling on American Jews to oppose the policies of Obama’s government. Netanyahu leaves no doubt that he is well determined to abort the
deal and deprive Obama from earning his Nobel Peace Prize. Iran
* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories. firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Syria, Egypt Reveal Erdogan’s ‘Hidden Agenda’
By Nicola Nasser*
The eruption of the Syrian conflict early in 2011 heralded the demise of
officially pronounced strategy of “Zero Problems with Neighbors,” but more
importantly, it revealed a “hidden agenda” in Turkish foreign policy under the
government of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip
What Sreeram Chaulia, the Dean of the Jindal School of International Affairs in
Sonipat, described as a “creeping hidden agenda” (http://rt.com
on Sept. 15, 2013) is covered up ideologically as “Islamist.” India
But in a more in-depth insight it is unfolding as neo-Ottomanism that is pragmatically using “Islamization,” both of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s legacy internally and
foreign policy regionally, as a tool to revive the Ottoman
Empire that once was.
Invoking his country’s former imperial grandeur, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davotoglu had written: “As in the sixteenth century … we will once again make the Balkans, the Caucasus, and the Middle East, together with
the center of world politics in the future. That is the goal of Turkish
foreign policy and we will achieve it.” (Emphasis added) Turkey
Quoted by Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby, writing in last March/April edition of www.worldaffairsjournal.org, the goal of Erdogan’s AKP ruling party for 2023, as proclaimed by its recent Fourth General Congress, is: “A great nation, a great power.” Erdogan urged the youth of
Turkey to look not only
to 2023, but to 2071 as well when “will reach the level of our
Ottoman and Seljuk ancestors by the year 2071” as he said in December last
“2071 will mark one thousand years since the Battle of Manzikert,” when the Seljuk Turks defeated the
Empire and heralded the advent of the Ottoman one, according to Fradkin and Libby.
Some six months ago, Davotoglu felt so confident and optimistic to assess that “it was now finally possible to revise the order imposed” by the British – French Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 to divide the Arab legacy of the
Ottoman Empire between them.
Davotoglu knows very well that Pan-Arabs have been ever since struggling unsuccessfully so far to unite as a nation and discard the legacy of the Sykes-Picot Agreement, but not to recur to the Ottoman status quo ante, but he knows as well that Islamist political movements like the Muslim Brotherhood International (MBI) and the Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Party of Liberation) were originally founded in Egypt and Palestine respectively in response to the collapse of the Ottoman Islamic caliphate.
However, Erdogan’s Islamist credentials cannot be excluded as simply a sham; his background, his practices in office since 2002 as well as his regional policies since the eruption of the Syrian conflict less than three years ago all reveal that he does believe in his version of Islam per se as the right tool to pursue his Ottoman not so-“hidden agenda.”
Erdogan obviously is seeking to recruit Muslims as merely “soldiers” who will fight not for Islam per se, but for his neo-Ottomanism ambitions. Early enough in December 1997, he was given a 10-month prison sentence for voicing a poem that read: “The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers;” the poem was considered a violation of Kemalism by the secular judiciary.
Deceiving ‘Window of
However, Erdogan’s Machiavellianism finds no contradiction between his Islamist outreach and his promotion of the “Turkish model,” which sells what is termed as the “moderate” Sunni Islam within the context of Ataturk’s secular and liberal state as both an alternative to the conservative tribal-religious states in the Arabian Peninsula and to the sectarian rival of the conservative Shiite theocracy in Iran.
He perceived in the latest
withdrawal of focus from the Middle East towards the Pacific
Ocean a resulting regional power vacuum providing him with an
historic window of opportunity to fill the perceived vacuum.
“Weakening of Europe and the US’ waning influence in the Middle East” were seen by the leadership of Erdogan’s ruling party “as a new chance to establish Turkey as an influential player in the region,” Günter Seufert wrote in the German Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP) on last October 14.
and Israel, in earnest to
recruit Turkey against , nurtured
Erdogan’s illusion of regional leadership. He deluded himself with the
unrealistic belief that Iran Turkey
could stand up to and sidestep the rising stars of the emerging Russian
international polar, the emerging Iranian regional polar and the traditional regional
players of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, let alone Iraq and should they survive their
current internal strife. Syria
For sure, his allies in the Muslim Brotherhood International (MBI) and his thinly veiled Machiavellian logistical support of al-Qaeda – linked terrorist organizations are not and will not be a counter balance.
He first focused his Arab outreach on promoting the “Turkish model,” especially during the early months of the so-called “Arab Spring,” as the example he hoped will be followed by the revolting masses, which would have positioned him in the place of the regional mentor and leader.
But while the eruption of the Syrian conflict compelled him to reveal his Islamist “hidden agenda” and his alliance with the MBI, the removal of MBI last July from power in Egypt with all its geopolitical weight, supported by the other regional Arab heavy weight of Saudi Arabia, took him off guard and dispelled his ambitions for regional leadership, but more importantly revealed more his neo-Ottoman “hidden agenda” and pushed him to drop all the secular and liberal pretensions of his “Turkish model” rhetoric.
‘Arab Idol’ No More
Erdogan and his foreign policy engineer Davotoglu tried as well to exploit the Arab and Muslim adoption of the Palestine Question as the central item on their foreign policy agendas.
Since Erdogan’s encounter with the Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Economic Summit in Davos in January 2009, the Israeli attack on the Turkish humanitarian aid boat to Gaza, Mavi Marmara, the next year and Turkey’s courting of the Islamic Resistance Movement “Hamas,” the de facto rulers of the Israeli besieged Palestinian Gaza Strip, at the same time Gaza was targeted by the Israeli Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009 then targeted again in the Israeli Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012, Turkey’s premier became the Arab idol who was invited to attend Arab Leage summit and ministerial meetings.
However, in interviews with ResearchTurkey, CNN Turk and other media outlets, Abdullatif Sener, a founder of Erdogan’s AKP party who served as deputy prime minister and minister of finance in successive AKP governments for about seven years before he broke out with Erdogan in 2008, highlighted Erdogan’s Machiavellianism and questioned the sincerity and credibility of his Islamic, Palestinian and Arab public posturing.
“Erdogan acts without considering religion even at some basic issues but he hands down sharp religious messages … I consider the AK Party not as an Islamic party but as a party which collect votes by using Islamic discourses,” Sener said, adding that, “the role in Middle East was assigned to him” and “the strongest logistic support” to Islamists who have “been carrying out terrorist activities” in Syria “is provided by Turkey” of Erdogan.
In an interview with CNN Turk, Sener dropped a bombshell when he pointed out that the AKP’s spat with
was “controlled.” During the
diplomatic boycott of Israel Israel
many tenders were granted to Israeli companies and Turkey
has agreed to grant partner status to Israel
in NATO: “If the concern of the AKP is to confront Israel
then why do they serve to the benefit of ?” In another interview he
said that the NATO radar systems installed in Israel Malatya
are there to protect Israel against
Sener argued that the biggest winner of the collapse of the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad would be
Israel because it will weaken Lebanon’s Hizbullah and Iran, yet Erdogan’s Turkey
is the most ardent supporter of a regime change in , he said. Syria
Erdogan’s Syrian policy was the death knell to his strategy of “Zero Problems with Neighbors;” the bloody terrorist swamp of the Syrian conflict has drowned it in its quicksand.
Liz Sly’s story in the Washington Post on this November 17 highlighted how his Syrian policies “have gone awry” and counterproductive by “putting al-Qaeda on NATO’s (Turkish) borders for the first time.”
With his MBI alliance, he alienated
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, in
addition to the other Arab heavy weights of Syria,
Iraq and and was
left with “zero friends” in the region. Algeria
Günter Seufert, Turkey’s
overall foreign policy, not only with regards to , “has hit the brick wall”
because the leadership of Erdogan’s ruling party “has viewed global political
shifts through an ideologically (i.e. Islamist) tinted lens.” Syria
Backpedaling too late
Now it seems Erdogan’s “
is already carefully backpedaling” on its foreign policy,” said Seufert. It “wants to reconnect”
with Turkey Iran and “ Washington’s request to end support for radical groups in
did not fall on deaf Turkish ears.” Syria
“Reconnecting” with Iran and its Iraqi ruling sectarian brethren will alienate further the Saudis who could not tolerate similar reconnection by their historical and strategic US ally and who were already furious over Erdogan’s alliance with the Qatari financed and US sponsored Muslim Brotherhood and did not hesitate to publicly risk a rift with their US ally over the removal of the MBI from power in Egypt five months ago.
Within this context came Davotoglu’s recent visit to
Baghdad, which “highlighted
the need for great cooperation between Turkey
against the Sunni-Shiite conflict,” according to www.turkishweekly.net on this November 13.
Moreover, he “personally” wanted “to spend the
month of Muharram every year in (the Iraqi Shiite holy places of) Iraq and Najaf with our
(Shiite) brothers there.” Karbala
Within the same “backpedaling” context came Erdogan’s playing the host last week to the president of the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, Massoud Barzani, not in
but in Diyarbakir, which Turkish Kurds cherish
as their capital in the same way Iraqi Kurds cherish . Kirkuk
However, on the same day of Barzani’s visit Erdogan ruled out the possibility of granting Turkish Kurds their universal right of self-determination when he announced “Islamic brotherhood” as the solution for the Kurdish ethnic conflict in
, while his deputy, Bulent Arinc, announced that “a general amnesty” for Kurdish
detainees “is not on today's agenda.” Three days earlier, on this November 15,
Turkish President Abdullah Gul said, “Turkey cannot permit (the) fait
accompli” of declaring a Kurdish provisional self-rule along its southern
borders in Syria which his prime minister’s counterproductive policies created
together with an al-Qaeda-dominated northeastern strip of Syrian land. Turkey
Erdogan’s neo-Ottomanism charged by his Islamist sectarian ideology as a tool has backfired to alienate both Sunni and Shiite regional environment, the Syrian, Iraqi, Egyptian, Emirati, Saudi and Lebanese Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, Israelis and Iranians as well as Turkish and regional liberals and secularists. His foreign policy is in shambles with a heavy economic price as shown by the recent 13.2% devaluation of the Turkish lira against the US dollar.
“Backpedaling” might be too late to get Erdogan and his party through the upcoming local elections next March and the presidential elections which will follow in August next year.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Libya almost Imploding, Status Quo Unsustainable
By Nicola Nasser*
More than two years on since the “revolution” of Feb. 2011, the security crisis is exacerbating by the day threatening Libya with an implosion charged with potential realistic risks to the geopolitical unity of the Arab north African country, turning this crisis into a national existential one. Obviously the status quo is unsustainable.
“Libya is imploding two years after the former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi” was captured and killed on October 20,” Patrick Cockburn wrote in British The Independent on last Oct. 10.
On this Nov. 11 Reuters reported that Protesters shut
gas export pipeline to Italy,
its only customer, in the Mellitah complex, some 100 km west of , after shutting
down oil exports from there as well. A day earlier, Reuters reported that the
separatist self-declared autonomous Cyrenaica government set up a regional firm
called “Libya Oil and
Gas Corp” to sell oil independently after seizing several ports in the east of the country, where Libya’s two
most important oil ports, Sidra and Ras Lanuf, were blockaded by protestors. Tripoli
It is noteworthy here that while the U.N. Support Mission in Libya can obviously “support” nothing, France, Italy, the UK and the U.S., who spearheaded the NATO campaign to topple the former ruling regime, in a joint statement on this Nov. 8, expressed their concern “at the instability in Libya and the threat that (it) poses to the successful achievement of the democratic transition” and reiterated their “support to the elected political institutions,” i.e. to Zeidan’s government.
Ironically, Zeidan on this Nov. 10 warned his compatriots of a possible “intervention of foreign occupation forces” in order to protect civilians under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter because “the international community cannot tolerate a state in the middle of the Mediterranean that is a source of violence, terrorism and murder,” which was the same pretext for the NATO military intervention that contributed mainly, if not created, the security crisis in the first place by destroying the military and police infrastructure of the central government and turned the country practically into a sponsor of regional terrorism in general and an exporter of arms and “Jihadists” to Syria in particular.
Zeidan’s warning of foreign “intervention” could also be interpreted as an implicit threat to ask for it to help rein in the security crisis lest it boils to an implosion of the country.
Forbes on last Aug. 30 reported that Libya’s “energy protection” was failing and quoted PM Zeidan as saying that his government would impose “order by force” when it came to protecting the oil and gas industry and expanded the Petroleum Facility Guards (PFG) to 18,000 members.
Months on, his efforts and threats failed to deter targeting pipelines, refineries and export terminals. His renewed threats since early last September to “bomb from the air and the sea” any oil tanker entering Libya’s territorial waters illegally and trying to pick up illicit Libyan oil have proved hollow and without teeth.
On last Oct. 18, quoted Paolo Scaroni, the CEO of the Italian oil and gas firm ENI, which is Libya's largest foreign partner, as saying: “Everyone is going to be wealthy” in Libya, citing statistics of what could be: “Five million people and 2 million barrels of oil (per day), which means that this country can be a paradise, and I am doubtful that Libyans will not catch this opportunity of becoming the new Abu Dhabi, or the new Qatar or the new Kuwait.”
Libyan Copy of
Yet Libyans seem determined to miss “this opportunity.” “Revolutionary” Libya, reminiscent of the U.S. - engineered “democratic” Iraq after some ten years of the U.S. invasion, is still unable to offer basic services to its citizens. Real unemployment is estimated at over 30%. Economy has stalled and frustration is growing. Gone are the welfare days of Gaddafi’s state when young families could get a house with benefits for free, people’s medication and treatment were paid by the state and free education made available to everyone. About one million supporters of the Gaddafi regime remain internally displaced; hundreds of thousands more fled for their lives abroad.
Remnants of the destroyed institutional infrastructure of law, order and security is hardly capable of protecting the symbolic central government in
reminiscent of its Iraqi counterpart, which is still besieged in the so-called
“Green Zone” in .
Late last October Baghdad ’s
central bank was robbed of $55m in a broad daylight robbery. More than one hundred
senior military and police commanders were assassinated. Libya
isn't just at a crossroads. We are at a roundabout. We keep driving round in
circles without knowing where to get off,” Libya's Minister of Economy, Alikilani
al-Jazi, said at a conference in London last September, quoted by The
Australian on last Oct. 14. Libya
On last Aug. 30, the Swiss-based group Petromatrix said: “We are currently witnessing the collapse of state in
and the country is getting closer to local wars for oil revenues.” Four days
later Patrick Cockburn reported in British The Independent that “Libyans are increasingly at the
mercy of militias” and that the “Government authority is disintegrating in all
parts of the country.” Libya
Ironically, an estimated one-quarter of a million heavily armed militiamen, who are the main obstacle to creating and empowering a central government, are on government payroll.
Writing in The Tripoli Post on Oct. 31, Karen Dabrowska said that, “Local notables, tribal groups, Islamists and militias are all vying to keep the centre from extending its authority to their fiefdoms and this explains why disparate social groupings can only unite temporarily to prevent the centre from gaining power over them.”
It “goes without saying that the post – Moammar Gaddafi Libya is purely a failed state” governed by militia, Adfer Rashid Shah of the Jamia Millia Islamia, Central University in New Delhi, wrote on last Oct. 15.
Following the heavy infighting in the Libyan capital on this Nov. 7, Italian foreign minister Emma Bonino told newspaper La Republicca that the country was "absolutely out of control” and the situation is worsening, hinting that Italian oil and gas firm ENI was prepared to close its oil wells.
Zeidan’s abduction from his
’s Corinthia Hotel
on last Oct. 10, which the British Economist described as “the shortest
coup,” highlighted the country’s deteriorating security crisis. It was
interpreted as a “reprisal” for kidnapping five days earlier of Abu Anas
al-Libi on suspicion of links with al-Qaeda by U.S. special forces, an act
which exposed the inability of the central government to cooperate and
coordinate with the American “ally” in his arrest on the one hand and on the
other exposed its failure in protecting Libya’s sovereignty against a flagrant U.S.
violation thereof. Tripoli
Last July Zeidan threatened that his government may have to “use force” in Benghazi, the cradle of the “revolution” and the current focus of insecurity, tribalism, separatism, Islamist rebels, decentralization of government, assassination of regular army and security officers and attacks on foreign diplomatic missions who mostly closed their consulates in Libya’s second largest city, where the U.S. ambassador was killed in September last year.
Ahead of his visit to the eastern city on Monday, when he promised reinforcements and logistical support to the security forces there, Zeidan launched a show of force into the city the previous Friday with hundreds of armored troop carriers and army trucks mounted with guns.
But Zaeidan’s threat to “use force” will inevitably be counterproductive, not only because his government’s lack of “force” would compromise his credibility, but because, within the current balance of power between his government and the militias, it will make the security situation worse if it does not ignite a civil war.
Zeidan said his government would give the “revolutionaries” who have turned into rival and vying militias and warlords until next Dec. 31 to join the regular army and police or they will be cut from government payroll, that is if his coffers could afford to sustain their payroll if they accepted and if they did not accept his offer it will be another reason for more mutiny and rebellion.
More likely the government payroll may not be rolling because the government is facing a budget crisis and “from next or the following month, there could be a problem covering expenditure” according to Zeidan himself, as the security crisis has brought oil production to a standstill or out of its control because the “militia groups are behaving like terrorists, using control over oil as political leverage to extract concessions,” according to Dr. Elizabeth Stephens, head of political risk at insurers Jardine Lloyd Thompson, quoted by British The Telegraph on last Aug. 29.
An imminent constitutional crisis could create a power vacuum that in turn would worsen the security crisis. Published by RT on this Nov. 7, analyst Nile Bowie wrote: “In accordance with the transitional roadmap adopted by the transitional government in May 2011, the mandate of the current government in
is set to expire on February 8, 2014. Failure to implement a new constitution
by then would either force Tripoli
into extending its mandate – a move which is seen as highly unpopular – or a
potential power vacuum scenario which could set off a chain of events that
could lead to a civil war or dissolution.” Tripoli
Pentagon’s Plans No Help
Short of western “boots on the ground” it is doubtful that Zeidan’s government will survive. The
U.S. administration of President Barak Obama was
repeatedly on record against any U.S.
boots on the ground in the Middle East. With
the exception of France,
which might be ready for the appropriate price to repeat its recent limited and
temporary military intervention in Mali,
Europe seems against it too.
Zeidan, with less than three months remaining for him in office, seems relying on Pentagon’s plans to arm and train, through “AFRICOM,” a new Libyan army called “a general purpose force.”
But “the case of a separate and underreported U.S. effort to train a small Libyan counterterrorism unit inside Libya earlier this year is instructive,” Frederic Wehrey wrote recently in Foreign Affairs, adding: The absence of clear lines of authority — nearly inevitable given Libya’s fragmented security sector — meant that the force’s capabilities could just have easily ended up being used against political enemies as against terrorists. In August militias launched a pre-dawn raid on the training camp which was not well-guarded. There were no
U.S. soldiers at the camp, but the militia took
a great deal of
military equipment from the site, some of it sensitive. The U.S. U.S. decided to abort the program and the forces
supposedly went home. U.S.
The obvious alternative to Zeidan’s western supported government would be a stateless society governed by militia warlords, while the survival of his government promises more of the same.
At the official end of the NATO war for the regime change in Libya on Oct. 31, 2011 U.S. President Obama proclaimed from the White House Rose Garden that this event signaled the advent of “a new and democratic Libya,” but more than two years later Libya is recurring to the pre-Gaddafi old undemocratic tribal and ethnic rivalries with the added value of the exclusionist terrorist religious fundamentalism wearing the mantle of Islamist Jihad.
In the wake of late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s death on October 20, a Saudi Arabian Arab News’ editorial said: “The point about Qaddafi’s death is that it makes the next transition stage that much easier, that much safer. As long as he remained at large, he would have been in a position to destabilize the country.” More than two years after Gaddafi’s death,
is more destabilized, insecure and fractured that its future is now
questionable enough not to vindicate the Saudi daily’s prediction. Libya