International conflicts (15)
Muslims in Europe have been the permanent victims of discriminations, especially against the practice of their religion. Entrenched in the minds of many is the fear that Islam would be a religion of war and intolerance. The debate started after the assassination of Theo Van Gogh and the cartoon controversy in Denmark, but it is a common scheme of propaganda of all far-right political parties during their political campaigns. We should therefore come back to the issue of islamophobia, i.e. the fear of Islam as a religion.
Redrawing the map of the Middle East seems not to be an exclusively Republican project in the USA. The Democratic power is doing the same now, the United Kingdom too, and perhaps France as well. Is Barack Obama positively answering to Republican demands, through the channel of Republican Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, to appease their pressures and keep his governance as « bi-partisan » as possible ? Or is he simply imitating their past strategies and becoming himself a neo-Conservative hawk, in order to keep high his alliance with the Saudis and the Qataris, hoping that they do not turn to the Republicans before the next elections ?
It has been two years now that Julian Assange has been living secluded in the Embassy of Equator in London. This Wednesday, the co-founder of WikiLeaks has given a press conference by phone call to ensure that he is cooperating with Edward Snowden and to defend his name against defamation attempts. Julian Assange ensured journalists that WikiLeaks is still alive, even though the website is less active now than it has been in the past.
The right to privacy will considerably suffer from the adoption of emergency legislation that has been proposed by the British government on July 10, 2014. The law would grant British intelligence and law enforcement agencies with access to data about millions of people’s communications. But the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, declared, while releasing a report entitled « The Right to Privacy in the Digital Age », that « rushing through wide-ranging emergency legislation » was « difficult to justify », given the content of the text and the ongoing proceedings in the UK on these issues.
Nick Cumming-Bruce for the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/28/world/middleeast/syria-conflict.html) reports that public executions have become a « common spectacle » in parts of Syria which Islamic militants control.
The United Nations panel has presented a report on the topic on August 27. Paulo Pinheiro, its chairman, said that the « overall scale of the violations continues to increase regardless of the parties perpetrating them ». He accused paralysis in the UN Security Council to be « responsible for acute harm to victims of this war ». The length of the conflict has stirred hatred and has encouraged warriors on both sides to resort to the most cruel techniques.
The two main French political parties, the PartiSocialiste (PS) and the Union pour unMouvementPopulaire (UMP), have agreed to reduce civil liberties through an anti-terrorism bill, on July 22, 2014. The text will be submitted to the vote on September 18.
The text has been presented as an amelioration of the mechanisms existing since October 2012. The French government claims it is focused on Jihadists departing for Syria and Iraq. But this law proposal is actually a extensive and systematic attack on the principles of individual freedom.
Former CIA head, retired General Michael Hayden, has expressed in front of the cameras of CNN's Jim Sciutto, for « Fareed Zakaria GPS », his fear that ISIS would « sooner rather than later » attack targets in Europe and the USA, going so far as to suggest it would organise attacks of an intensity similar to 9/11. But it seems that such fears are really exaggerated, as the Islamic State is likely to focus on the consolidation of its own structures for the next few years, and not into the organisation of terrorist attacks outside of the Middle East.
Two Human Rights Watch reports have been published, denouncing the recruitment campaigns of Islamists, that have targeted children (http://www.hrw.org/node/126063/) and their use of cluster bombs in Syria (www.hrw.org/news/2014/09/01/syria-evidence-islamic-state-cluster-munition-use). Bashar Al-Assad's regime has also been documented to be massively using cluster bombs.
An Islamic « Caliphate », which ISIS wants simply to be called the « Islamic State », has been proclaimed by the Sunni militant group over the territories it controls. Their intent is to unificate the Middle East on religious lines and to make the promotion of the Sunni « ideology » against the Shias. This is the point of proclaiming a « Caliphate » : the Caliph is the successor of Prophet Muhammad in the Sunni lecture of the Coran. The Shias said that this succession should only be granted to descendants (through the family line) of the Prophet. In other words, this is a strong act of propaganda against the Shias. It should be also noted that re-creating an Islamic caliphate recovering the large borders of historical caliphates (Umayyads / Abbasids) is a project that fits well with the ideas of many Islamic leaders. Generally speaking, ISIS says that no Sunni Muslim will ever have any excuse not to support this state.
Russian paratroopers were captured while having attempted to enter the Ukrainian territory disguised as rebels for a « special mission ». They had attempted to penetrate the Ukrainian territory at its extreme South-East, in Novoazovsk, with 10 tanks and two armoured infantry vehicles, and were halted by border guards. Vladimir Putin actually appeared to recognise the incursion, saying that the soldiers were simply « patrolling the border and [that they] may have found themselves on the Ukrainian territory » ; he declared « I hope in this case there won't be any problems with the Ukrainian side ».
The men have been shown in the Facebook page of the Ukrainian government's « anti-terrorist operation » in camouflage fatigues. According to the Ukrainian Defence Minister ValeriyHeletey, « officially they are on military exercises in various corners of Russia. In reality they are involved in military aggression against Ukraine ». The Ukrainian military spokesman, Andriy Lysenko, says « there was an attempt by the Russian military in the guise of Donbass fighters to open a new area of military confrontation in the southern Donetsk region ».
A soldier who identified himself as Ivan Milchakov said « I did no see where we crossed the border. They just told us we were going on a 70 km march over three days ». Michalkov suggested nothing is « like [the Russian media] show it on television » and that soldiers are used by their hierarchy as « cannon fodder ». Another man, Sergeant AlekseiGeneralov, said « this is not our war », and that he was not interested by the separatists' cause.
Apparently, the Ukrainian government had not placed enough soldiers in the region, as it is concentrated on its assaults in Donetsk and Luhansk. This must be the reason why the Russian military attempted to open this new area of confrontation.
There was no sign of progress during the meeting between Petro Poroshenko and Vladimir Putin in Minsk on Tuesday 26 August. Petro Poroshenko has promised to work on an urgent bilateral ceasefire plan, in order to defuse the conflict. Vladimir Putin, however, says of any ceasefire plan that « this is not our business » but « Ukraine's business ». He keeps on insisting that Russia is not a party to the conflict. The one-to-one talks have lasted for two hours and have been described by Poroshenko as « very tough and complex ». They were preceded by six hours of wider negotiations with top EU officials and the presidents of Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Putin said the conflict « could not be solved by further escalation of the military scenario without taking into account the vital interests of the south-east of the country and without a peaceful dialogue of its representatives », according to AP.
Russia stills wants to retain some sort of leverage over the South- East of the country. He fears Ukrainian membership of NATO and wants to defend the economic interest of the inhabitants of the South-East, which would be most hurt by the signature of the free-trade agreement with the European Union, along with the Russian economy. He also wants Ukraine to federalise. Petro Poroshenko has resisted the idea.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who has just dissolved the Ukrainian Parliament, is said to be willing to capitalize on military successes in the East to secure a significant political majority during the vote on October 26. But this strategy may augur an even heavier toll for civilians and soldiers in the region. See also our last article on the issue :http://www.eiilir.eu/politics-strategies/europe/ukraine/146-petro-poroshenko-and-vladimir-putin-starting-talks-in-minsk-summit
In Gaza, Israel is seeking the political, as well as military, emasculation of Hamas through the widespread destruction of Gaza’s infrastructure and economy. This is known as the “Dahiya Doctrine,” named after a suburb of Beirut that was almost leveled during Israel’s attack on Lebanon in summer 2006. The doctrine was encapsulated in a phrase used by Dan Halutz, Israel’s chief of staff, at the time. He said Lebanon’s bombardment would “turn back the clock 20 years”. The same strategy was also applied for instance during the 2008-2009 war which made 1100 casualties in Gaza, during the 2012 “Pillar of Defense” war, and it is again being applied now.
George W. Bush, one month after the beginning of the Iraqi war, said that « the world is safer now », but Dianne Feinstein, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman (who is also heading the production of the incoming “Torture Report”), answered to him in 2013, saying that “America is less safe from terrorism today than it has been in recent years”. After 2001, the numbers of incidents and fatalities from terrorist incidents has quadrupled, from 982 incidents and 3 823 fatalities in 2002, to 4 564 incidents and 7 473 fatalities in 2011. And Iraq is the first victim of these attacks. On Sunday 24 August, for instance, 44 persons have been killed in Iraq. 1 203 civilians have been killed in August 2014, according to website Iraq Body Count. In total, between 127 822 and 143 110 civilians have died in the country since the 2003 invasion. In 2013, global terrorism again rose 43% according to a US State Department report. All of the countries that have been invaded by the USA, and their regional allies, like Pakistan, as well, have been the breeding ground for more terrorism than the « war on terror » would have ever managed to curb. The US “war on terrorism” has failed to create the conditions for peace, and furthermore has increased the terrorist risk in the world. The emergence of the Islamic State is the last proof of this failure, and it was only possible because the US intervention left Iraq in a much, much worse shape than it was before.