Posted in Foreign affairs, War, tagged Arab spring, arab world, crisis, democracy, freedom, human rights, liberty, Libya, War on August 28, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
The ‘mad dog’, grand antagonist of the West and founder of hyperbolic propaganda, is no more. Gaddafi and his tyrannical rule have evaporated over night with the victorious revolutionaries liberating their capital city. An Orwellian state cease to exists; but the war is not over, yet. Whilst NATO special forces and intelligence services search for Gaddafi, the rebels must learn to co-operate with each other; liberals and Islamists is not the perfect constitution for a long term successful government. Potentially, this has all the ingredients for another Iraq-esque sectarian divide and breeding ground for violence.
Libya is divided into three traditional regions; Tripolitania, Fezzan and Cyrenaica. There is a significant danger of the country being torn apart along these lines. With the National Transitional Council relocating from Benghazi, there are many in Tripoli who will object to political dominance from Eastern Libya. Western aspirations and desires for the NTC to become the tutelage for this new democracy is very ambitious and premature. Subsequently, a blood soaked future might be a genuine reality. Yugoslavia and Iraq are warnings from history of potential occurrences when removing authoritarian regimes; power vacuums succumb to turmoil and chaos, with different factions manoeuvring for institutions of control. Whether we object to it or not, the United Nations might have to deploy a peacekeeping mission. There is no guarantee of former Gaddafi loyalists avoiding subversive actions or groups. Remember, Gaddafi came to power by a military coup and NATO will need to prevent another figure arising from the rubble. Currently, no evidence points to the NTC becoming a significant stabilising force for the country – majority of ordinary Libyans are armed. Theoretically, this could be much, much worse than the fall of Baghdad.
And there is one major obstacle for NATO; possible revenge attacks. Frequently over the past few days, reports of British, French and Arab Special Forces have been leading the rebel command structure and the conquest of Tripoli. Firstly, to provide leadership and correct military precision of the operation, but also to ensure revenge attacks and random executions do not take place. I’m not surprised to learn the hunt for Gaddafi and key regime figures is left to the responsibility of the SAS; many Western leaders are fearful what the revolutionaries would do, if they locate the whereabouts of the fallen dictator. That is why I was sceptical of reports of possible capture of Gaddafi’s sons’. Covertly, this is not a realistic revolution, but an NATO inspired overthrow of a tyrant. Libya is effectively Iraq without the jingoistic rhetoric or deployment of Western armies.
Benghazi is almost operating in a parallel universe when compared to Tripoli. The civil war divided the nation in two, and thus creating two rival capitals; dangerously, many governments recognised the legitimacy of the rival NTC administration at the start of the conflict. South Africa, and other African nations, did not. African Union’s timid and some what inept response creates more problems for NATO. What if the African Union refuses to recognise the authority of the new Libyan government? Nobody has considered the outcome. It would be near impossible to coerce the AU leadership into accepting the new Libyan arrangements. Plus, the Libyan economy would suffer as a result. Especially if Libya is suspended or expelled from the African Union.
We may celebrate the fall of Gaddafi, which I wholeheartedly do, but the consequences need to be investigated. A possible future is already bleeding into the present and becoming a reality. A power vacuum now exists in the Libyan capital, with no end in sight. A nation created out of violence tends to subsequently exist in that very state; for the sake of Libya and the region, let’s hope I am wrong.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Foreign affairs, Political writing, Prose, Protests, tagged anger, arab world, crisis, democracy, Egypt, evil, freedom, human rights, liberation, liberty, protest, protests on July 1, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
Economic prosperity and social stability are interlinked. Growth and employment opportunities provide means for tranquility, within a nation, and means for the individual to accumulate wealth and savings. But when economies fail and governments’ struggle to maintain control, social unrest occurs; in extreme cases, a black swan event, a revolution might result.
The Marxist theory of historical materialism articulates the economic bases of societies and its ever changing relation with an expanding or altering mode of production. As Marx himself said, “Society does not consist of individuals, but expresses the sum of interrelations, the relations within which these individuals stand.” And when the mode of production is no longer capable of furling the aspirations of society, a revolution must manifest. History depicts struggles and liberation movements, rebelling against-what Marx described-bases and superstructures. Superstructures are an expression, or avatar, for the mode of production and society itself. What contemporary anarchists renamed ‘the system.’ And history shows what happens to Ancien Régime when its avaricious behaviour and irresponsibility infuriates the citizenry.
Resistance and uprising, in the Middle East, began in December 2010. Unemployment, high inflation, poor living standards and corruption were the catalyst – especially in Tunisia; where the Arab Spring began. The economic situation and lack of productivity became a perfect reflection of the political establishment; failure to share the vast wealth more evenly led millions to revolt against their government. Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Palestine, Bahrain and Yemen experienced a great tempest of political and social unrest. The main criticism was the economic prosperity was only held by a minority, and the political class had nothing but tempt for its citizens. It was no coincidence that the governments, in each nation, were soaked with financial benefits and yet the population were starving. In order to attract investment, from global corporations, protesters believed government officials took either bribes or constructed generous taxation for foreign investors. In February this year, the media reported on the personal wealth of Hosni Mubarak (Former President of Egypt) and it was in the region between $40 – 70 billion. How was it that these Presidents’ and Prime Ministers’ had accumulated vast wealth, but the population witnessed poor living standards? The political establishment become a superstructure and the avaricious nature of politics is a product of the economic environment.
To understand the Arab revolts and the catalyst behind the events, it best to look for a historical comparison; most notably, the French Revolution. Historians tend to focus predominately on the Committee of Public Safety, Robespierre and The Terror. The causes of the revolution tend to be forgotten. In a way, the French Revolution is more important to understanding the Arab Spring than the American War of Independence.
Revolutionary France is one of the most significant periods of European history, along with the English Civil war, in my opinion. The causes for the revolution are deeply fascinating and rather complex. There are countless stimuli’s for the uproar, especially the crippling debt from strengthening the United States in the War of Independence. But the most fundamental component (in my opinion) was the famine of 1788-89, which saw the price of bread rise by a near 70 percent. Many of the poor and destitute struggled to survive and thus the infamous ‘bread riots’ occurred. The first signs of revolutionary intent in the air. Mass urbanisation of the cities helped fuel the hunger, due to over crowding and the high demand for employment. The hunger and poor living conditions are a breeding ground for civil unrest; we’ve seen this in the last six months in the Middle East and Northern Africa. When a significant population, collectively, faces catastrophic decline in income and prosperity, it is likely to become hostile to the state. Governments become vulnerable when the people become poorer and hungrier. Once held moderate views are easily manipulated by subversive thoughts, if there is a prospect for a better tomorrow.
The nobility of the French regime, with its gluttonous and avaricious behaviour, infuriated the population. Louis XVI and his wife, Marie Antoinette, were far from popular figures within the kingdom – especially his spouse. Their need for vast wealth and extreme expenditure, did not help the nation finances. Participation in the American War of Independence diverted the nation towards bankruptcy. France was broke. But the aristocracy was immune and unaffected; which was a great irritation to the peasant classes. And, similar to the present time in Northern Africa, the people had enough. Revolution was in the air.
The reason for selecting the French Revolution as a historical comparison was down to Karl Marx. He routinely wrote about the events of 1788-89, most notably in the Communist Manifesto. It was very productive in explaining the theory of historical materialism; the French Revolution enabled him to articulate and define his theory, without devolving into complex and structured language. History is a good tool, which Marx exploited effectively.
But, fundamentally, the authenticity of Karl Marx’s theory – was he right? Well, no. Karl Marx was gifted in understanding the present time, circumstances and historical precedents. However, the solutions were always misguided or completely wrong; Britain never experienced revolution, which Marx believed was inevitable. The working classes never aspired for revolution, majority wanted to be apart of the wealth creators not confiscate it from the rich. It is humorous to watch the modern left rally in solidarity with the Arab protesters, who are rebelling against socialist-esque regimes. Egyptians demanded reform and transparency, none of them sought to completely destroy the system and build a new nation. Which completely contradicts Marx.
The Arab Spring might have given birth to Marxist nostalgia, but there is no justification to suggest a Marx inspired or remotely socialistic reasoning. This utopia, which Marx believed in, never transpired and probably never will. Arab Spring revolutions will resort in either two outcomes: a bloody and more brutal regime (as we saw in France and Russia) or prosperous nation (the United States or India). Either way, these revolutions have once again injected more life into a forgotten political theorists and philosopher.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Foreign affairs, Middle East, Protests, tagged anger, arab world, democracy, freedom, human rights, liberation, liberty, protest, protests, Tony Blair on June 9, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
I wrote this blog post months ago, but decided to republish it after Tony Blair has been appearing on our television screens this morning. The former Prime Minister was commenting on the Arab Spring and the effects on the region. Seeing I’m quite busy with another project, I’ve decided to share an old post on my sympathies with Blair and liberal interventionism.
One of the most controversial and divisive figures in British political history, responsible for countless debates on his actions and conduct in office; Only Cromwell, during the English Commonwealth, has divided historians and academics more. Regarding the character, that is Tony Blair, one cannot help my see a very thoughtful and moral narrative – which the former Prime Minister tried to construct.
I am a Liberal Democrat, who is not afraid to support and advocate the principle of liberal interventionism based on the merits and insight of the infamous “Blair Doctrine.” His [Tony Blair] Chicago speech of 1999 is arguably one of the most stimulated, articulate and carefully defined manifesto on how to build a more united international community. The cohesion of this new, broad and interconnected geopolitical consensus was – in the words of Blair – undermined by factions, who sought to obstruct the new world order. These antagonists gained the title “rogue nations” and shared a common denominator. Almost of all these regimes were ultra reactionaries and lacked basic democratic and human rights, including evidence of ethnic cleansing of minorities. UN sanctions, with all the potential to create and obstruct economic activity, were not truly productive in some cases and only played into the hands of the government. In order to defend and promote the liberty of the people, the international community did not only have to become a vox populi for the voiceless but military intervention should be a desired method. If the citizens could not defend themselves then it was up to us, the international community, to defend them.Contrary to popular belief, Tony Blair did not advocate cultural imperialism nor the creation of Western client states. It was the duty of the nation to decide on creating the foundations of a civic and democratic government – not for us to impose it. We, the international community, only provided the means to remove the regime. Tragically, though, the Project for a New American Century did alter the doctrine and insisted “pro-American” governments must emerge after the liberation. The neo-conservative movement did more damage, than good, in defending and advocating true liberal interventionism. Blair always believed action must be meditated by a powerful United Nations and not individual countries, but the unwillingness of Europe (regarding Iraq) made him contradict his passion for international unity and reluctantly abandoned a UN route – over Iraq.
Tony Blair is no war criminal. Jean-Pierre Bemba, the former Vice President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a true war criminal; Bemba instigated and administrated rape, murder, torture and ethnic cleansing in the Central Africa Republic. The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nothing Blair ordered can be described as a war crime or a crime against humanity, he cannot be compared to Bemba or the military junta in Burma. If Blair’s conduct in the Iraq War constitutes a war crime then so is Winston Churchill for the fire bombing of Dresden; President Truman for the nuclear strikes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is another name added to the list, if one argues the former Prime Minister is a war criminal. Throwing around the term “war criminal” without no understanding of its meaning only helps to devalue and regulate the term meaningless. War crimes are meant to shock humanity and represent the most heinous crimes of them all, not a term that a protest group could randomly use to condemn an opponent. Using the title of “war criminal” loosely does not help the anti-war movement or strengthens their cause, it only helps to weaken their argument.
Saddam represented everything a liberal should despise. His reactionary, Stalinist, totalitarian administration used chemical weapons against his own population and neigbouring countries. Dissidents were publicly hanged to warn anyone that resistance would not be tolerated. Elections were rigged, with Saddam gaining 99% of the poll. The Iraq War, especially the after events, were disastrous and resulted in massive ethnic and religious violence, but Iraq is giving both a fragile democracy – that will flourish in time. Yes, Blair was not perfect, but there is one significant difference between him and Saddam. Blair had a Thatcher room at Downing street, Saddam had rape rooms under his palaces.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Foreign affairs, Middle East, Police State, Protests, tagged A Gay Girl in Damascus, Amina Abdallah, arab world, democracy, freedom, human rights, protests, Syrian blogger, Syrian revolution on June 7, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
A Gay Girl in Damascus, a popular Syrian blogger, was abducted last night in Damascus. Her outspoken views on the Syrian revolution have made her a target of the security forces. This post, from her cousin, was published last night (after the event happened). I will post the full transcript;
Dear friends of Amina,
I am Amina Abdallah Araf al Omari’s cousin and have the following information to share.
Earlier today, at approximately 6:00 pm Damascus time, Amina was walking in the area of the Abbasid bus station, near Fares al Khouri Street. She had gone to meet a person involved with the Local Coordinating Committee and was accompanied by a friend.
Amina told the friend that she would go ahead and they were separated. Amina had, apparently, identified the person she was to meet. However, while her companion was still close by, Amina was seized by three men in their early 20’s. According to the witness (who does not want her identity known), the men were armed. Amina hit one of them and told the friend to go find her father.
One of the men then put his hand over Amina’s mouth and they hustled her into a red Dacia Logan with a window sticker of Basel Assad. The witness did not get the tag number. She promptly went and found Amina’s father.
The men are assumed to be members of one of the security services or the Baath Party militia. Amina’s present location is unknown and it is unclear if she is in a jail or being held elsewhere in Damascus.
I have just spoken with her father who is trying to locate her. He has asked me to share this information with her contacts in the hope that someone may know her whereabouts and so that she might be shortly released.
If she is now in custody, he is not worried about being in hiding and says he will do anything he can to free her. If anyone knows anything as to her whereabouts, please contact Abdallah al Omari at his home or please email me, Rania Ismail, at onepathtogod at gmail dot com.
We are hoping she is simply in jail and nothing worse has happened to her. Amina had previously sent me several texts to post should something happen to her and we will wait until we have definite word before doing so.
Rania O. Ismail
Read Full Post »
Posted in Foreign affairs, Middle East, Political writing, Protests, tagged anger, arab world, democracy, freedom, human rights, liberation, liberty, Middle East, Palestine, Peace, two state solution on June 3, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
President Obama desires a two state solution based on the pre-1967 borders; prior to the war in the region. The European Union have actively held this position for decades and it is a welcome for the United States to final recognise it. Israel, unsurprisingly, rejects any notion of restoration of these borders due to ‘lack of considerable recognition to demographic and security changes.’ This translates into Israel refusing to abide by international law on illegal settlements and occupation of the West Bank.
Fabrication of historical aspects, deliberately pandering to religious schisms and myths is how Israel justifies illegal settlements. Messianic prophecy and religious nostalgia should not be acknowledge, or tolerated, in geopolitical negotiations. The Foreign Minister of Israel, Avigdor Lieberman, is a highly controversial figure, who objects to any peace deal. Lieberman is an ultra nationalist, proud Zionist, reactionary and a leader of a hostile political vanguard. He’s made the analogy of Arab members of the Knesset being comparable to Nazi collaborators; passionately believes Arab citizens must swear an oath of loyalty to Israel in order to achieve citizenship; Palestinians need to acknowledge Israel as exclusively and only Jewish – before a peace deal can be even discussed.
The Arab Awakening provides real prospects for Israel and the possibility of stable neighbours, who will embrace democracy and human rights. At the same time, though, these revolutions provide a great danger: Israel will no longer be, in the words of David Cameron, that “lonely beacon of democracy” in the region. The Palestinian question will inevitably be resolved and the Israeli political establishment understands this reality. The status quo cannot continue. However, the current regime in Israel will not remotely consider peace until after the 2012 presidential elections in the United States. An Obama second term might resort to actions of President Bush Snr, in 1991, and withhold aid until Israel stops settlement building and returns to the negotiating table. But election season prevents Obama from even considering such strong diplomatic pressure.
Netanyahu is protected and knows the United States veto will continue at the United Nations; there is no fear of the United Nations recognising Palestine. The Israeli Prime Minister was received like a glorious Caesar by the American Congress and applauded rapturously for ridiculing the President of the United States in his own capital. A Republican controlled Congress will never vote in favour of restricting or blocking aid to Israel – Netanyahu knows this. And because of that, Israel can continue obstructing all possibilities of peace. Of course, Israel has legitimate concerns about Hamas-and rightly so-but it cannot use it as an excuse not to discuss terms with secular Arabs. The Jihad philosophy of Hamas and the aspiration of restoring the Islamic caliphate is supported by a tiny minority; not all Palestinians desire an exclusive constitutional Islamic state of Palestine. Growing ambitions in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and other Middle East nations further dispel the bloody Jihad movement – these nations want Israel to be treated equally, not destroyed.
The Arab Spring was a moment for Israel to defend the Arab people. Israel could’ve shown it is a true moral force in the region, not an oppressive one. This was the opportunity to reject all misconceptions about Israel. Instead, Netanyahu chose not to. A Palestinian state brought about by Israel would politically destroy all extreme elements in the region. The ‘little Devil’, in the words of Iran, would’ve provided freedom – not the fundamentalists in Tehran. But Netanyahu does not see it that way. Him and Lieberman still believe in a one state solution with autonomy, not independence, for the Palestinian people.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Foreign affairs, Police State, Protests, videos, War, tagged anger, arab world, crisis, democracy, freedom, human rights, liberation, liberty, protest, protests on June 1, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
The main arbitrator of global peace and justice is nonchalant to the events in Yemen. Question: How many individuals need to die in conflict, before the United Nations even considers calling an urgent Security Council meeting?
Read Full Post »
Posted in Foreign affairs, Middle East, War, tagged anger, Arab war, arab world, crisis, democracy, freedom, human rights, Israel, Israeli, liberation, liberty, Middle East, Palestine, Palestinian, peace process, protest, protests on May 29, 2011 |
1 Comment »
An ideology that divides the world into those who are worth more and those who are worth less, into superior and inferior beings, does not have to reach the dimensions of the German genocide to be wrong.
Amira Hass, Israeli Journalist
The Arab League have endorsed the Palestinian Authority policy to gain recognition of state hood, on 1967 borders, from the United Nations. Sarkozy is understood to be considering French support, with the British yet to determine a position; the French Foreign Ministry have commented on a possible European Union recognition, too, on a Palestinian state. Which would be a powerful endorsement.
I will not lament over the struggle for self determination. It has been a tragic history of deceit, destruction, war and broken promise, but this is the first real prospect of a meaningful conclusion.
If Israel remains a obstacle to peace then considerable sanctions will be required. Israeli policy on the occupied territories is an apartheid doctrine. United States political assistance prevents any acknowledgment of human rights abuses at the United Nations; State Department own documents share the same assessments as the UN, but the condemnation is never public.
David Cameron, at the G8, placed himself in the vanguard of democracy and freedom in the Middle East. It’s time for Cameron to recognise the Palestinian homeland.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Foreign affairs, War, tagged anger, arab world, crisis, democracy, evil, freedom, Gaddafi, human rights, liberation, liberty, War on May 27, 2011 |
4 Comments »
Within the next 24 hours British and French apache helicopters will begin operations in Libya. The Prime Minister has promised to intensify the administration of military force in order to break the Libyan regime.
The Russian Foreign Ministry have aligned with the international community and declared Gaddafi has lost all authority to govern Libya. Russia will mediate a possible transition of power and thus providing a means for Gaddafi to exit.
Reports this morning from British intelligence have uncovered a network being used by Gaddafi. The dictator is hiding in hospitals, in order to prevent a direct NATO strike on his location. A classic archetype of a dictator is cowardice: using civilians as shields.
We are witnessing the final conclusions of this abrupt conflict. It is difficult to envision a prolonged period of conflict occurring; Gaddafi forces are demonstrating possible evidence of capitulation. The regime is no longer in control of basic functions of the state and The National Conference for the Libyan Opposition (NCLO) is increasing diplomatic presence in capitals across the world. Either Gaddafi will accept Russian assistance and voluntarily venture into exile (in South Africa, possibly) or shall be captured by NATO special forces.
Either way, we are nearing the end game.
Read Full Post »
Posted in Debt, Economy, Foreign affairs, History, Leaders, Thoughts, tagged anger, arab world, bailout, budget, crisis, debt, democracy, economic, economy, EU, European revolution, European Union, freedom, government, liberation, liberty, protest, protests, protests in Europe, Spanish revolution 2011 on May 24, 2011 |
Leave a Comment »
It was expected and anticipated. Protests do occur when government restrict, or reduce, public spending and reform the role of public services in our lives. It is a natural function of political debates.
The European Union did not, however, prepare for a scenario of large scale revolts in Greece, Spain and soon to be Portugal. Young people in Greece and Spain are not just protesting against the austerity measures imposed of them by the IMF and European Central Bank; the political system, in their eyes, is the heart of the problem.
European history is soaked in the most richest of revolutionary acts; Europeans, by nature, are more passionate about liberties and -unlike our American cousins- are willing to lacerate the current political arrangement to pieces. If necessary.
The catalyst for the French Revolution and destruction of the ancien régime was inflation on the price of bread. An innocent product in contemporary eyes provided the environment to remove Louis XVI. And his head, too.
A tempest is gathering across European capitals and it would be unwise for governments to ignore them.
Read Full Post »