WANA, Feb 8 (APP): Eminent tribal elders, maliks and chieftains here Saturday thanked President Asif Ali Zardari for announcing a huge compensation package of Rs.280 million for those killed and wounded in the tribal areas due to militants’ attacks.
The tribal chieftains and maliks also highly appreciated President Asif Ali Zardari for announcing increase in the annual development outlay of the FATA by Rs.3 billion for the current fiscal taking it to Rs.11 billion from Rs.8 billion.
“The President has won the hearts and minds of over six million tribal people by announcing a huge developmental package for FATA today,” remarked elders and maliks from Mehsud, Burki and Wazir tribes during a press briefing here.
Malik Saeed Anwar Khan, Malik Muhammad Azam Khan and Malik Tofan Burki said that increase in the FATA development outlay by Rs.3 billion would greatly help address problems of tribal people and will bring FATA on road to progress and development.
They said that FATA annual development budget in the past was very low and hoped that would bring positive socio‑economic changes in lives of downtrodden tribesmen. The major hurdle in establishment of durable peace in Waziristan is the repeated drones attacks. He said that stopping of drone attacks is necessary to bring durable peace to the restive Waziristan.
They demanded immediate stopping of drone attacks on Waziristan as majority of its victims were civilians, women and children. They assured full cooperation to the government in fight against militancy and terrorism and development of FATA.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has in its records the names of the individuals who form the nucleus of Ergenekon, a clandestine terrorist organization charged with scores of unsolved murders and other atrocities conducted for the purpose of ruling the country from behind the scenes or triggering a military takeover, according to a claim put forth by Gultekin Avci, a retired public prosecutor experienced with shadowy formations and illegal gangs inside the state.
Avci claimed that the names of the members of the illegal network were kept at centers of intelligence services in Washington and London, but he did not specify the names of the agencies.
Avci said these records held names of civilian and military members of Ergenekon.
He also claimed that if NATO wanted to, it could share this information with the prosecution to help the Ergenekon investigation.
He also pointed to the similarities between Ergenekon’s organizational structure and NATO’s experience, noting that Ergenekon bears the basic qualities of Operation Gladio — a stay-behind army set up in NATO countries during the Cold War years to counter a communist invasion.
Avci said in NATO’s experience, stay-behind organizations were formed at the level of generals. He stated that over time, the confidential elements inside these armies, which hold great power given to them by the state, have gotten out of control and have recruited more civilians.
“In all these structures, the techniques and system used were the same. Intelligence units trained these agents. They set up secret burial sites to store munitions, wireless devices and similar equipment,” he said.
“The major contributors to these behind-the-scene networks that were established all over Europe were these countries’ armies and military intelligence services. All of these secret networks were set up under the supervision and directive of the military intelligence services of the given country.”
Avci also claimed that Turkey’s illegal structures are backed by important Masonic connections and individuals, recalling the ties of the Masonic lodge P2 in Italy to the Gladio network. He said if NATO shared its records with the prosecution, it would be of significant help to the investigation; but he also noted that this was a distant possibility.
Recalling the munitions found buried underground, AvcÄ± said most clandestine organizations tended to have secret arms depots and underground arms caches to avoid being left without munitions. He also expressed his belief that there could not be fewer than 200 such munitions burial sites in Turkey.
He claimed that heads of separate units in the military knew the locations of these arms caches and were given maps to these places by their superiors. “When these weapons and ammunitions are needed for an operation, they can easily be obtained,” he said.
“Those who are at the level of hit men do not know the location of a given arms cache. The prosecution has to compare every single item of weapons or ammunitions found during the investigation to the inventory of the Special Forces Command and military intelligence units. But we are seeing that the General Staff has not been so helpful thus far regarding this.”
Friday, 6 February 2009
|The Syrian authorities stopped the UN from improving life in the camp where 900 Palestinians live. Families stay in tents by the roadside and have to endure sandstorms, floods and fire. Two children were killed by lorries
Feb 5, 2009
Arab solidarity is not a phrase that Salim Ahmad wants to hear any more. On a battered television inside a windblown tent he watches with scepticism as the crowds demonstrate in the streets of Damascus over Israel’s war in Gaza.
“If they really cared anything for Palestinians, they would not leave us here in this terrible place,” he said, gesturing around him. “Don’t tell me about solidarity when nobody cares that we are here at all.”
For the past three years this desolate spot between the Iraqi and Syrian border posts has served as home to hundreds of Palestinians fleeing persecution in Iraq. Favoured by Saddam Hussein as proof of his solidarity with the Palestinian cause, they were among the first targets of vengeful Shia militia after the fall of the regime.
When they tried to flee to Syria, however, they found their paths blocked. While Iraq citizens swanned through the border post Palestinians were turned back, unable to enter Syria but unable to return to Iraq either. Stateless and without passports the Palestinians sat down where they were dumped, in the walled-off layby by the road between the two glowering border posts.
The al-Tanf camp is the invisible face not only of the Iraqi refugee crisis but also of the miserable history of perpetual refugeehood that is the Palestinian plight. The Syrian Government has kept it hidden, embarrassed by what it shows, but yesterday The Times became one of only two news organisations to see al-Tanf for themselves.
“This is a prison, get us out of here,” were the first words of Adnan Abdullah. His family were driven from their house in Baghdad by a Shia landlord after the fall of Saddam and they moved to an impromptu camp in a football field in the city. The camp was attacked and closed in 2005.
Other Palestinians who tried to flee to Jordan had been held at another camp on the border there, so Mr Abdullah decided that he would try to stay in Baghdad with other family members despite the threats to leave. In June of that year militiamen from the Badr Brigade came for him in the middle of the night. They took him to a secret detention centre where they hung him from his wrists and goaded him to confess to planting bombs.
“They shouted screw Palestine, screw Jerusalem,” Mr Abdullah said. “They said, ‘We want to empty Iraq of Palestinians’.”
They were on the way to succeeding. When Mr Abdullah was released by a court after a year of prison and torture the family sold everything they owned to pay for fake Iraqi passports that would get them into Syria. Unlike some others they got through the border to Damascus where they found others from their community. Living illegally, unable to work and with their money exhausted, however, they became increasingly afraid that they would be caught.
Syrian intelligence officials were carrying out regular sweeps of Iraqi refugee areas in Damascus and many Palestinians had been caught and locked up or deported to al-Tanf. At least at al-Tanf there would be assistance, Mr Abdullah calculated, and possibly a way out.
What they found there, however, was a shock. The Syrian authorities forbid the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from providing any help that might make the camp more permanent, so the refugees live in tents by the side of the road where lorries thunder by. In December 2007 it snowed; last summer a sandstorm ripped several tents from their pitches; floods in December wrecked food stores and shelters. Two children have been killed by lorries and a pregnant woman died when her tent caught fire and burnt down in 12 seconds.
Resettling the refugees was not an option then. “Resettlement is a dirty word when it comes to the Palestinians,” Laurens Jolles, the head of the UN refugee mission in Damascus, said. The Palestinian Authority and the governments of Arab states oppose resettlement on grounds of political principle, an abrogation of the right to return to Palestine and an abandonment of hopes of a Palestinian state. “We don’t agree with that,” Mr Jolles said.
Neither do the refugees. “We don’t have a nationality, a passport, a home,” Mr Ahmad said. “We want to be settled. Who are they to tell us what is good for Palestinians? No Arab country wants us so if a European one does then I will go there. It is about our children’s future.”
The Palestinian Authority and Syrian Government have caved in to the pressure and agreed to allow a number of refugees to be resettled. Chile has taken 113, 181 went to Sweden and 13 to Switzerland. Britain has taken 30 Palestinian refugees from Iraq but none from al-Tanf.
From the original camp of 350 people who could not get across the border the camp has swelled to 900, despite the resettlements. Palestinians arrived after being deported or arrested in Syria or they came voluntarily, exhausted by their fugitive life.
Much of the pressure for resettlement came from the refugees. A group of young men banded together to start a media unit gathering footage of camp life, the floods, fires and snow, which they took to Damascus and aired on the al-Jazeera network.
“We wanted to end our isolation from the world,” Yunis, one of them said. Another member of the group contacted news organisations when the Gaza protests began, telling them: “The Government are hypocrites. We are Palestinians and they don’t care about us at all.”
At 93, Hazana is the oldest member of the camp. She was driven out of Haifa in 1948 and has contact with only 2 of her 11 children. Another has been killed and the others she does not know about. “She will never leave here. The only place she’s going from here is heaven,” her daughter-in-law, Zainab, confided as Hazana recounts her story, the story of Palestine, a long tale of exile and betrayal.
“We are scattered sheep without a shepherd,” she murmured, her eyes filling with tears. “I never thought I would be here. I thought the kings and princes of Arabia would take us back home. But it turned out to be a false promise.”
:: Article nr. 51554 sent on 06-feb-2008 04:27 ECT
|Netanyahu, Livni, Barak|
One of the main but undeclared goals of the recent Israeli blitzkrieg against the Gaza Strip was to significantly enhance the chances of the Kadima and Labour parties in upcoming Israeli elections, slated for 10 February.
Conventional wisdom has it that Israeli Jewish voters are more likely to give their votes to candidates with a reputation of toughness vis-à-vis the Palestinians. In the popular and political lexicon, this means spilling Palestinian blood, destroying more Palestinian homes and narrowing Palestinian horizons.
Kadima and Labour party leaders had hoped that the killing and maiming of thousands of Palestinians, mostly innocent civilians, coupled with the relentless bombing and destruction of Gaza’s civilian infrastructure, including schools, hospitals and agricultural land, would put both parties in an advantageous position against the Likud, led by Benyamin Netanyahu. However, post-war polls have shown that the genocidal Gaza onslaught didn’t dramatically help Kadima and that the popularity boost it briefly obtained during the Gaza campaign proved variable rather than constant.
Indeed, the polls show that Netanyahu remains the candidate most favoured by Israelis to become the country’s next prime minister. According to a poll released 25 January, 29 per cent of Israelis said they want to see Netanyahu become Israel’s next premier. Kadima leader Tzipi Livni received only 16 per cent support, with Labour leader Ehud Barak trailing with nine per cent. Another recent poll, released 23 January, showed that the Likud would win 28 of the 120 seats contested making up the Israeli parliament. Kadima came second with 24 seats, with both the Labour Party and Yisrael Beteinu (Israel is our Home) Party receiving 16 seats each.
Yisrael Beteinu is led by Avigdor Lieberman, an extremist right-wing Jewish immigrant who shamelessly advocates ethnic cleansing of non-Jews as well as the use of nuclear weapons against Israel’s adversarial neighbours, including Lebanon and the Palestinians. Lieberman is widely considered one of the main winners of the Israeli war on Gaza as Israeli Jewish voters “go jingoistic” in times of war and uncertainty. Deteriorating economic conditions, including growing unemployment, and especially among the estimated one million Jewish Russian immigrants, militate in Lieberman’s favour.
The Likud hopes to draw many potential voters from Lieberman’s supporters, especially in light of ongoing police investigations into charges of fraud, money laundering and violations of public trust against the Yisrael Beteinu chief. However, it is not likely that Lieberman would lose significantly as a result of this corruption scandal since the Jewish Russian public has little faith in the Israeli justice system and in police integrity.
Disappointed by her party’s mediocre boost despite the Gaza bloodbath, Kadima leader Livni and her hawkish partner, former army chief Shaul Mofaz, have been issuing more bellicose statements against Hamas, seemingly in the hope of attracting more voters. In her election tours, Livni has been projecting a tough and uncompromising stance vis-à-vis the Palestinians, especially Hamas. For his part, Mofaz on 26 January threatened to assassinate Ismail Haniyeh, the elected prime minister of the Gaza-based Hamas government.
“As long as Gilad Shalit doesn’t see the light of day, you won’t see the light of day. As long as Shalit doesn’t go free, you and your friends will not be free. We won’t hesitate to send you on the way we sent Yassin and Rantisi,” he said referring to Hamas’s spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin and deputy Abdel-Aziz Al-Rantisi who were murdered by Israel in 2004.
Barak, too, has been playing on the war, trying to sell himself as “the war hero of the Gaza campaign”. According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, Barak will try to woo Russian Jewish voters by quoting Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s famous statement about killing Chechen fighters: “As you people say, they should be whacked when they’re on the toilet.”
Until a few weeks ago, Barak was nearly irrelevant in the Russian street as polls indicated that the Labour Party would get less than half a Knesset seat from the Russian sector. With the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip failing to eradicate Hamas, which is reemerging defiant and politically triumphant, it is probably safe to assume that the Likud and other extreme- right parties will receive the lion’s share of the Knesset’s seats.
However, Likud leader Benyamin Netanyahu is also facing a serious image problem as his opponents in Kadima and Labour are arguing that as premier he wouldn’t be on good terms with new US President Barack Obama, paralysing if not killing the peace process. In response, Netanyahu has sought to enhance his image by declaring that if elected prime minister he wouldn’t allow the building of new Jewish settlements. He did say, however, that present settlements could continue to expand as part of what he called “natural growth”.
This week, and using the Obama election jingle “Yes, we can”, Netanyahu spelled out his political priorities, which included numerous attempts to divert the attention of the new US administration from the core issue, namely the Israeli occupation of Palestine and continued building of Jewish-only colonies on occupied territories. Netanyahu mentioned, inter alia, Iran’s nuclear programme (ignoring Israel’s huge nuclear arsenal), Hamas (ignoring the fact that it was elected by the Palestinian people in free and democratic elections), its alleged rearmament and smuggling, and Hizbullah’s “control” over Lebanon, as if these were issues preventing Israel from ending its occupation and persecution of the Palestinian people.
Nonetheless, Israeli leaders are beginning to sense that Obama is not exactly George W Bush, and that he won’t be as easily bamboozled by Israeli disinformation. There seems to be widespread support for the idea of forming a government of national unity, led by the Likud and including the Kadima and Labour parties as well as Shas, the ultra Orthodox Haredi Party representing Jews from the Middle East. Such a coalition would muster a comfortable parliamentary majority of at least 75 Knesset seats.
However, given significant political differences between the Likud, which harbours many of the features of an extreme right-wing party, and Kadima, such a government could well be a government of “national paralysis” rather than unity. In all events, it appears that Netanyahu will have to choose between forming a stable and strong government with extreme right- wing and religious parties, which would potentially put him in conflict with the Obama administration, or a coalition with Kadima, Labour and probably Shas, which would be weak and fraught with internal problems.
Source: Al-Ahram Weekly
When Israelis rally behind a war, it is never an easy time to be engaged in Jewish-Arab relations, says Nisreen Murkos, a 20-year veteran of co-existence projects.
As one of the heads of the Arab section of the Adam Institute for Democracy and Peace, Ms Murkos is preparing – with trepidation – to organise the first encounters between groups of Israel’s Jewish and Arab citizens since the fighting in Gaza ended.
According to surveys conducted during the fighting, about 90 per cent of Israeli Jews backed the war, with 82 per cent also hoping that the army would intensify its assault.
The numbers are reversed for Israel’s 1.2 million Arab citizens, with almost all profoundly opposed to the fighting. Israeli Jewish commentators and politicians have widely denounced the community as “traitors” and “a fifth column”.
Almost alone among the coexistence organisations in Israel, the Adam Institute arranges meetings where Israeli Jews and Arabs can confront each other as equals and freely air their views. But Ms Murkos, 48, said the institute’s staff were expecting a rough ride in the shadow of the war fever that gripped the country for three weeks.
“We often work in schools because attitudes have not yet totally hardened among the young,” she said. “But most of the staff at a meeting described the situation – given the anti-democratic atmosphere in Israel – as too dangerous for us to work.
“Both our Jewish and Arab staff are afraid of the angry responses if they are seen to be encouraging unpatriotic views.”
She added that teachers in Arab schools co-operating with Adam’s programme had their own reasons to be worried. “They are afraid they could lose their jobs or even be arrested, as has happened to hundreds of Palestinian citizens protesting against the war.”
As an illustration of the current mood, she pointed to a report in a local newspaper about Yonit Levy, a popular news anchor for the country’s highest-rated station, Channel 2.
Ms Levy is under concerted attack after she became tearful when announcing Gazan casualties during a broadcast. An online petition demanding her sacking hoped to raise 10,000 signatures. In a few days, it had attracted three times that number.
“Levy is accused of ‘weakening nationale morale’ and ‘empathising with the enemy’,” Ms Murkos said. “I look at this story and it makes me wonder what hope there is for the encounters we arrange when this kind of ‘war consensus’ dictates views.”
Riding the wave of patriotism sweeping Israel’s Jewish majority have been such right-wing parties as Yisrael Beiteinu, which campaigns for the expulsion of Palestinian citizens, one fifth of the population. The party also instigated a ban on Arab parties standing in next month’s election, a decision overturned last week in the courts.
Polls taken immediately after the Gaza ceasefire show Yisrael Beiteinu winning 15 seats in the 120-member parliament and becoming the fourth largest party. Its platform is reported to be even more popular in schools.
The Adam Institute, Ms Murkos said, faced an uphill struggle even in times of relative quiet in persuading the Jewish majority of the benefits of dialogue with their Arab fellow citizens.
“Our problem is often with the schools themselves and the parents. In accordance with the principle of equality, there must be reciprocity in the meetings: just as Palestinian students visit a Jewish ‘partner’ school, so Jewish students must visit the Palestinian school. But many Jewish parents aren’t happy about that and refuse permission.”
On occasion, she said, Jewish students have arrived at Arab schools with armed guards.
As well as ethnic and national tensions surfacing in the meetings, she said, some Israeli Jews demonstrate an ambivalence towards the values of equality and democracy.
Israel’s laws do not encode the principle of equality, setting the tone for popular opinion. A poll in 2003 found that nearly one quarter of Israelis were hostile to any form of democracy. In other surveys, 60 per cent of Israeli Jews said it was more important that their state be Jewish than democratic.
Such trends are only exacerbated in times of war, Ms Murkos said.
Contacts between Jewish Israelis and Palestinians in the occupied territories, she said, had been all but non-existent for some time, especially after Israel began building barriers around Gaza and much of the West Bank.
But encounters between Jewish and Arabs inside Israel are rarely more meaningful. Both live in segregated communities, and in the workplace, Israeli Arabs, usually in lowly positions under Jewish bosses, dare not speak openly.
Making Arab Israelis and their concerns more visible to Israeli Jews is one of the goals of Ms Murkos’s work. Experience during the attack on Gaza, however, has only underlined how big a challenge she faces.
“During the fighting I went into a major chainstore that wanted to deduct an extra three shekels [Dh2.75] as a contribution towards a food basket for the soldiers in Gaza. They looked astounded when I said no.
“Even though I live in northern Israel, where Palestinians are a majority of the population, it was simply assumed that I would support the soldiers over the people of Gaza. Anything else is unthinkable.”
Source: The National Newspaper (Abu Dhabi)
In a scene from the 1994 Roger Avary/Quentin Tarantino film “Killing Zoe,” an American tourist accidentally finds himself in the middle of a Paris bank heist:
Tourist (to robbers): Hey! This is insane! I mean, I’m a U.S. citizen. Come on, I’m just here exchanging some dollars. You must let me go— I’m an American. You know, from America. US of A. Come on, don’t you understand English? If it wasn’t for my country you’d all be speaking German!
Robbers (to tourist): (Machine gun fire)
On Monday, Reuters’ Ellen Wulfhorst reported on America’s unpopularity around the globe. She wrote:
The United States is viewed favorably by the majority in only two of 21 other countries with large economies, according to a survey released on Sunday, and it draws the harshest criticism for its foreign policy.
In research designed to measure global opinion and released days before Barack Obama takes office as U.S. president on Tuesday, India and Poland, along with the United States itself, were the only countries with majorities giving America a favorable rating.
The online poll of 22,000 people was conducted for Reuters by Ipsos Global Public Affairs, an international market research and polling company, in late November, weeks after Obama was elected to succeed President George W. Bush.
According to the piece, Ipsos polled people residing in the 22 countries that make up 75 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Wulfhorst added:
The nations with the strongest unfavorable views overall of the United States were Russia and Turkey, followed by Argentina, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands…
Overall, the United States was viewed favorably by 72 percent of Indians, 53 percent of Poles and 74 percent of Americans. Sixty percent of Russians and 55 percent of Turks gave the United States unfavorable ratings.
Hey, at least we know who our friends are, right?
“U.S. gets weak marks on global relations: poll”
Reuters, January 19, 2009
By Loretta Kalb and Robert Lewis
Counties in California say they’ve had enough – and they aren’t going to take it anymore.
In what amounts to a Boston Tea Party-style revolt against the state Capitol, they’re threatening to withhold money.
Los Angeles is considering such an option. And Colusa County supervisors said they authorized payment delays for February.
“We didn’t vote on it, because I don’t think anybody wants to go to jail,” Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann said.
Closer to home, Sacramento County is planning to file a lawsuit this week against the state and Controller John Chiang for withholding millions of dollars – much of it for social service programs.
“The Legislature authorized those expenditures, and (the controller) has decided to withhold it,” said Susan Peters, chairwoman of the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. “I believe it’s possible other counties will be joining in the action.”
Riverside County is looking at a similar lawsuit but plans to go one step further. It authorized going to court to relieve it from having to provide state-mandated services without state funding.
Hallye Jordan, a controller spokeswoman, said Chiang “shares the frustration of counties” but was forced to act because of the failure of the Legislature and governor to address the budget deficit.
“It’s an awful situation,” she said. “We understand that many counties are suffering.”
Regardless, a coalition of six Southern California counties is headed to Sacramento for a Feb. 12 meeting to call attention to the counties’ plight, Riverside County spokeswoman Lys Mendez said.
By the time leaders from Riverside, Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Imperial and San Bernardino counties come together, the revolt could be at full steam.
“I think it just reflects the severity of the problem, and folks are just trying to find a way to keep (programs) going,” said Jim Wiltshire, deputy director of the California State Association of Counties.
Frustration has been spreading since last week, when the state controller vowed to delay payments to counties for health and social services.
“When we hear things like, ‘We’re out of cash and you’re going to have to borrow the money,’ it doesn’t make us very happy,” Yolo County Supervisors’ Chairman Mike McGowan said.
McGowan said the county would look for a way to fund vital services such as mental health programs, CalWORKS, food stamps and child protective services.
That would mean borrowing about $5 million to cover mandated program expenses, McGowan said.
“We’ve heard rumors that the (state’s) deferral approach will be longer than one month,” he said.
In that case, McGowan added, there are smaller counties that will “simply go out of business. They’ll not be able to borrow the money.”
One budget proposal calls for the state to delay $3.5 billion in payments to counties over seven months, Wiltshire said.
“Counties just don’t have the cash position to operate those programs and wait for a check to come in September,” he said.
The rumor that the state could extend the delayed payments to counties sent a chill through Colusa County, which qualifies as small with only 22,000 people.
If the state delays payments for a longer period, “we can stay open for three months – period,” Colusa County’s Vann said.
If all counties withheld funds, money denied the state would total $675 million over a year, said Wiltshire.
That amount represents court receipts that counties remit to the state, he said.
In addition to filing suit, Sacramento County officials are considering withholding money. While counties do collect property taxes for the state, county officials doubted that money would come into play.
“We need to know the ramifications before we do something rash that has consequences,” Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan said.
While deferring property tax revenue money to the state might seem like a good idea, that money goes in part to fund education. The county doesn’t want to hurt schools while taking a stand against the controller’s actions, she added.
There also could be a cost to withholding money from the state.
Terri Sexton, associate director of the Center for State and Local Taxation at the University of California, Davis, said she’s never seen anything like this grass-roots revolt.
“But, of course, the state has never been in this fiscal position,” Sexton said. “At some level, it doesn’t make any difference whether the counties are suing the state or whatever.
“You can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip. The money doesn’t exist. What does it ultimately mean? Will there be cutbacks in those services? I think that’s where we’re headed.”
Los Angeles County started the movement Tuesday when its Board of Supervisors considered holding back money from the state in a move that screamed: Give us our money or you won’t get yours.
“The deal is the county has got bills to pay,” said Gerry Hertzberg, policy director for Supervisor Gloria Molina. “If the state doesn’t act, how do you plan how to budget?”
Los Angeles County is expecting to miss out on as much as $105 million a month as a result of the deferred state payments.
Other counties are in similar positions, so it came as no surprise to Hertzberg that others might join the revolution.
“It’s not at all surprising,” Hertzberg said. “We’ve got obligations.”
Sacramento County’s MacGlashan said despite the counties’ threats to withhold, she wasn’t certain all would follow through.
“It’s really more of a stunt,” she said. “But sometimes it takes a stunt to get people’s attention.”
by Anand Patwardhan
Article Rejected by Times of India
The attack on Mumbai is over. After the numbing sorrow comes the blame game and the solutions. Loud voices amplified by saturation TV: Why don’t we amend our Constitution to create new anti-terror laws? Why don’t we arm our police with AK-47s? Why don’t we do what Israel did after Munich or the USA did after 9/11 and hot pursue the enemy? Solutions that will lead us further into the abyss. For terror is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It thrives on reaction, polarization, militarization and the thirst for revenge.
The External Terror
Those who invoke America need only to analyze if its actions after 9/11 increased or decreased global terror. It invaded oil-rich Iraq fully knowing that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, killing over 200,000 Iraqis citizens but allowing a cornered Bin Laden to escape from Afghanistan. It recruited global support for Islamic militancy, which began to be seen as a just resistance against American mass murder. Which begs the question of who created Bin Laden in the first place, armed the madarsas of Pakistan and rejuvenated the concept of Islamic jehad? Israel played its own role in stoking the fires of jehad.
The very creation of Israel in 1948 robbed Palestinians of their land, an act that Mahatma Gandhi to his credit deplored at the time as an unjust way to redress the wrongs done to Jews during the Holocaust. What followed has been a slow and continuing attack on the Palestinian nation. At first Palestinian resistance was led by secular forces represented by Yasser Arafat but as these were successfully undermined, Islamic forces took over the mantle. The first, largely non-violent Intifada was crushed, a second more violent one replaced it and when all else failed, human bombs appeared.
Thirty years ago when I first went abroad there were two countries my Indian passport forbade me to visit. One was racist South Africa. The other was Israel. We were non-aligned and stood for disarmament and world peace. Today Israel and America are our biggest military allies. Is it surprising that we are on the jehadi hit list? Israel, America and other prosperous countries can to an extent protect themselves against the determined jehadi, but can India put an impenetrable shield over itself?
Remember that when attackers are on a suicide mission, the strongest shields have crumbled. New York was laid low not with nuclear weapons but with a pair of box cutters. India is for many reasons a quintessentially soft target. Our huge population, vast landmass and coastline are impossible to protect. The rich may build new barricades. The Taj and the Oberoi can be made safer. So can our airports and planes. Can our railway stations and trains, bus stops, busses, markets and lanes do the same?
The Terror Within
The threat of terror in India does not come exclusively from the outside. Apart from being hugely populated by the poor India is also a country divided, not just between rich and poor, but by religion, caste and language. This internal divide is as potent a breeding ground for terror as jehadi camps abroad. Nor is jehad the copyright of one religion alone. It can be argued that international causes apart, India has jehadis that are fully home grown. Perhaps the earliest famous one was Nathuram Godse who acting at the behest of his mentor Vinayak Savarkar (still referred to as “Veer” or “brave” although he refused to own up to his role in the conspiracy), murdered Mahatma Gandhi for the crime of championing Muslims.
Jump forward to 6th December, 1992, the day Hindu fanatics demolished the Babri Mosque setting into motion a chain of events that still wreaks havoc today. From the Bombay riots of 1992 to the bomb blasts of 1993, the Gujarat pogroms of 2002 and hundreds of smaller deadly events, the last 16 years have been the bloodiest since Partition. Action has been followed by reaction in an endless cycle of escalating retribution. At the core on the Hindu side of terror are organizations that openly admire Adolph Hitler, nursing the hate of historic wrongs inflicted by Muslims. Ironically these votaries of Hitler remain friends and admirers of Israel.
On the Muslim side of terror are scores of disaffected youth, many of whom have seen their families tortured and killed in more recent pogroms. Christians too have fallen victim to recent Hindutva terror but as yet not formed the mechanisms for revenge. Dalits despite centuries of caste oppression, have not yet retaliated in violence although a small fraction is being drawn into an armed struggle waged by Naxalites.
It is clear that no amount of spending on defense, no amount of patrolling the high seas, no amount of increasing the military and police and equipping them with the latest weaponry can end the cycle of violence or place India under a bubble of safety. Just as nuclear India did not lead to more safety, but only to a nuclear Pakistan, no amount of homeland security can save us. And inviting Israel’s Mossad and America’s CIA/FBI to the security table is like giving the anti-virus contract to those who spread the virus in the first place. It can only make us more of a target for the next determined jehadi attack.
Policing, Justice and the Media
As for draconian anti-terror laws, they too only breed terror as for the most part they are implemented by a State machinery that has imbibed majoritarian values. So in Modi’s Gujarat after the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in 2002, despite scores of confessions to rape and murder captured on hidden camera, virtually no Hindu extremists were punished while thousands of Muslims rotted in jail under draconian laws. The same happened in Bombay despite the Shiv Sena being found guilty by the Justice Shrikrishna Commission. Under pressure a few cases were finally brought to trial but all escaped with the lightest of knuckle raps. In stark contrast many Muslims accused in the 1993 bomb blasts were given death sentences.
The bulk of our media, policing and judicial systems swallows the canard that Muslims are by nature violent. Removing democratic safeguards guaranteed by the Constitution can only make this worse. Every act of wrongful imprisonment and torture that then follows is likely to turn innocents into material for future terrorists to draw upon. Already the double standards are visible. While the Students Islamic Movement of India is banned, Hindutva outfits like the RSS, the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, and the Shiv Sena remain legal entities.
The leader of the MNS, Raj Thackeray recently openly spread such hatred that several north Indians were killed by lynch mobs. Amongst these were the Dube brothers, doctors from Kalyan who treated the poor for a grand fee of Rs.10 per patient. Raj Thackeray like his uncle Bal before him, remains free after issuing public threats that Bombay would burn if anyone had the guts to arrest him. Modi remains free despite the pogroms of Gujarat. Congress party murderers of Sikhs in 1984 remain free. Justice in India is clearly not there for all. Increasing the powers of the police cannot solve this problem. Only honest and unbiased implementation of laws that exist, can.
It is a tragedy of the highest proportions that one such honest policeman, Anti-Terrorist Squad chief Hemant Karkare, who had begun to unravel the thread of Hindutva terror was himself gunned down, perhaps by Muslim terror. It is reported that Col. Purohit and fellow Hindutva conspirators now in judicial custody, celebrated the news of Karkare’s death. Until Karkare took charge, the Malegaon bomb blasts in which Muslims were killed and the Samjhauta Express blasts in which Pakistani visitors to India were killed were being blamed on Muslims. Karkare exposed a hitherto unknown Hindutva outfit as masterminding a series of killer blasts across the country.
For his pains Karkare came under vicious attack not just from militant Hindutva but from the mainstream BJP. He was under tremendous pressure to prove his patriotism. Was it this that led this senior officer to don helmet and ill-fitting bullet proof vest and rush into battle with a pistol? Or was it just his natural instinct, the same courage that had led him against all odds, to expose Hindutva terror? Whatever it was, it only underlines the fact that jehadis of all kinds are actually allies of each other. So Bin Laden served George Bush and vice-versa. So Islamic and Hindutva jehadis have served each other for years. Do they care who dies?
Of the 200 people killed in the last few days by Islamic jehadis, a high number were Muslims. Many were waiting to board trains to celebrate Eid in their hometowns in UP and Bihar, when their co-religionists gunned them down. Shockingly the media has not commented on this, nor focused on the tragedy at the railway station, choosing to concentrate on tragedies that befell the well-to-do. And it is the media that is leading the charge to turn us into a war-mongering police state where we may lead lives with an illusion of safety, but with the certainty of joylessness.
I am not arguing that we do not need efficient security at public places and at vulnerable sites. But real security will only come when it is accompanied by real justice, when the principles of democracy are implemented in every part of the country, when the legitimate grievances of people are not crushed, when the arms race is replaced by a race for decency and humanity, when our children grow up in an atmosphere where religious faith is put to the test of reason. Until such time we will remain at the mercy of “patriots” and zealots.
|Saturday, February 07, 2009
By by Rahimullah Yusufzai
|Unlike the earlier two phases of the military operations in Swat in 2007 and 2008, the latest one initiated in late January is being praised by the ANP-PPP government in the NWFP and sections of the population opposed to the militants. The more discerning elements of the civil society, who tend to criticise almost anything that doesn’t conform to their political and intellectual orientation, are also backing the intensified military action. The main reason for the support to the armed forces this time is due to the belief that the latest military operation is intense, focused and targeted.
This reminds one of a statement made by Gen Pervez Musharraf on the eve of the US invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001. In a bid to win public support for his unpopular decision to ally Pakistan with the US at the time, he had argued that the American military action in the neighbouring, Taliban-ruled country would be quick, focused and targeted. Obviously, the General was trying to reassure Pakistanis that this was going to be over soon as he calculated the Taliban regime would collapse and the US troops would go home after installing a pro-West government in Kabul. Though President George W Bush contradicted his Pakistani counterpart, Gen Musharraf didn’t correct his flawed assessment. Supremely confident of his military knowledge and intellectual prowess, he even claimed at the time that the Taliban could not fight a guerrilla war and, therefore, would soon become irrelevant.
He was wrong, as the US military action, subsequently backed by troops from around 40 NATO and non-NATO countries was neither quick nor focused and targeted. A military operation spread over almost seven-and-a-half years cannot be called quick, the focus has been lost and the targets, whether it is killing or capturing Osama bin Laden or reaching political and development goals, haven’t been met. The US-led foreign forces are struggling to contain the Taliban-led resistance and 30,000 more soldiers are being sent to Afghanistan to try and snatch the initiative from the armed opposition.
The real world out there is a lot different from the one discussed at conferences, in newspaper columns and on TV talk shows, and things could quickly go wrong on the battlefield, more so if the enemy is underestimated. The tactics and strategies adopted by the militants in Pakistan and elsewhere have become sophisticated and their motivation to fight and die is unusually high. The element of exacting revenge is often foremost on their mind due to their conviction that they have been wronged, or in cases when they have lost family members or their homes have been destroyed in military attacks. Some have resorted to brutal acts such as beheadings, killing for petty reasons, inhuman treatment of opponents and destruction of government and private property with a view to establishing their control in the area and creating fear. It is clear a lot more is expected from a professional and well-equipped army but soldiers cannot put up a better fight if they are unsure about the cause for which they are fighting and confused by the different viewpoints being expressed by Pakistani politicians, clerics, writers and others in that endless debate whether it is America’s or Pakistan’s war. Desertions by some troops and willingness to surrender without a fight are manifestations of the demoralisation that has set in among the ranks of soldiers required to fight against their own people.
The Pakistani armed forces haven’t fared much differently from the Western armies. In fact, some of their tactics are identical, including the greater use of airpower and long-range missiles and artillery guns. This is obviously done due to shortage of forces on the ground and to avoid casualties to the troops. Another reason is their unchallenged supremacy of the skies because the Taliban militants don’t possess anti-aircraft guns and missiles. Both the US and Pakistani armies initially made use of the airborne Rapid Reaction Force by flying army commandoes in helicopters to conduct search operations and nab suspected militants, but the practice has almost been discarded. That perhaps was a better way of apprehending wanted militants without causing civilian casualties, but it seems the US wasn’t satisfied with its success rate because it was difficult to keep such operations secret.
The military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) started in late 2003 and early 2004 and none of the tribal agencies has been fully pacified and stabilised. South Waziristan and North Waziristan are relatively calm and peaceful now, primarily as a result of the peace agreements that the government and the military made with the militants, mostly on the latter’s terms. Rather than extending the government’s writ, military operations have in some cases radicalised the population, disturbed the dynamics of the tribal society and diluted the power and effectiveness of the civil administration. It is true that peace deals too haven’t brought stability, but the same is true of military operations. The failure of one strategy or the other doesn’t mean that it should be given up altogether. Thus, the option of talking peace again or launching military action should remain an option.
Compared with the NATO forces that are operating in an alien Islamic country and far away from home, the Pakistani military has been taking greater care in using jet fighters and helicopter gunships in the tribal areas and Swat as it is fighting mostly its own people. A senior military officer once said his pilots pray before flying out on missions in Waziristan to seek Allah’s help to avoid harming innocent civilians. Still “collateral damage” cannot be avoided, and this limits the intensity and frequency of airstrikes and generates controversy.
Military operations in such situations could quickly become unpopular. The ongoing military action in Swat risks losing steam and becoming controversial due to the high number of civilian casualties and the huge displacement of people that has already been caused. In fact, this is already happening. Members of the ruling political parties and representatives of the civil society have started accusing the military of targeting civilians instead of the militants and for uprooting villagers from their homes. As usual, the government failed to make timely and proper arrangements for internally displaced people fleeing the military action in Swat. Most of them are fending for themselves and complaining. This had happened in the case of Bajaur and Mohmand tribal agencies and earlier when the military carried out operations in South Waziristan and North Waziristan. Most Swatis were angry with the militants for bringing suffering on them and now they are unhappy with the military for uprooting them from their homes and with the provincial and federal governments for failing to look after their needs. The battle for hearts and minds, so essential in this kind of fight against militancy, is being lost even before any real effort was initiated to win the sympathies of the ordinary Swatis.
The armed forces are performing a thankless job. Neither the US nor the ruling and opposition Pakistani politicians are happy with their performance in the battlefield. The common people are in a state of confusion, unable to believe that a professional army cannot defeat the militants, because they have been made to believe all these years that their soldiers are second to none in terms of their training and courage. The politicians want the military to deliver without doing their part of the job by undertaking political work in the places under the militants’ hold. The civil administration and police are paralysed. It seems everybody is scared and seeking to place responsibility on someone else to tackle the situation.
One shudders to think how the destroyed villages and infrastructure will be rebuilt. The need to cater to the needs of the displaced people and the challenges of their resettlement and rehabilitation are daunting. The country has suffered the biggest displacement of people in its history but the response to this challenge has been inadequate and disorderly. It is obvious that a Bajaur-like solution to the Swat crisis through the use of force alone would displace thousands of people and destroy the existing infrastructure and villages without guaranteeing durable peace and stability.
The writer is resident editor of The News in Peshawar. Email: rahimyusufzai @yahoo.com
By Paul Craig Roberts
February 04, 2009 Information Clearinghouse” — – According to US government propaganda, terrorist cells are spread throughout America, making it necessary for the government to spy on all Americans and violate most other constitutional protections. Among President Bush’s last words as he left office was the warning that America would soon be struck again by Muslim terrorists.
If America were infected with terrorists, we would not need the government to tell us. We would know it from events. As there are no events, the US government substitutes warnings in order to keep alive the fear that causes the public to accept pointless wars, the infringement of civil liberty, national ID cards, and inconveniences and harassments when they fly.
The most obvious indication that there are no terrorist cells is that not a single neocon has been assassinated.
I do not approve of assassinations, and am ashamed of my country’s government for engaging in political assassination. The US and Israel have set a very bad example for al Qaeda to follow.
The US deals with al Qaeda and Taliban by assassinating their leaders, and Israel deals with Hamas by assassinating its leaders. It is reasonable to assume that al Qaeda would deal with the instigators and leaders of America’s wars in the Middle East in the same way.
Today every al Qaeda member is aware of the complicity of neoconservatives in the death and devastation inflicted on Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Gaza. Moreover, neocons are highly visible and are soft targets compared to Hamas and Hezbollah leaders. Neocons have been identified in the media for years, and as everyone knows, multiple listings of their names are available online.
Neocons do not have Secret Service protection. Dreadful to contemplate, but it would be child’s play for al Qaeda to assassinate any and every neocon. Yet, neocons move around freely, a good indication that the US does not have a terrorist problem.
If, as neocons constantly allege, terrorists can smuggle nuclear weapons or dirty bombs into the US with which to wreak havoc upon our cities, terrorists can acquire weapons with which to assassinate any neocon or former government official.
Yet, the neocons, who are the Americans most hated by Muslims, remain unscathed.
The “war on terror” is a hoax that fronts for American control of oil pipelines, the profits of the military-security complex, the assault on civil liberty by fomenters of a police state, and Israel’s territorial expansion.
There were no al Qaeda in Iraq until the Americans brought them there by invading and overthrowing Saddam Hussein, who kept al Qaeda out of Iraq. The Taliban is not a terrorist organization, but a movement attempting to unify Afghanistan under Muslim law. The only Americans threatened by the Taliban are the Americans Bush sent to Afghanistan to kill Taliban and to impose a puppet state on the Afghan people.
Hamas is the democratically elected government of Palestine, or what little remains of Palestine after Israel’s illegal annexations. Hamas is a terrorist organization in the same sense that the Israeli government and the US government are terrorist organizations. In an effort to bring Hamas under Israeli hegemony, Israel employs terror bombing and assassinations against Palestinians. Hamas replies to the Israeli terror with homemade and ineffectual rockets.
Hezbollah represents the Shi’ites of southern Lebanon, another area in the Middle East that Israel seeks for its territorial expansion.
The US brands Hamas and Hezbollah “terrorist organizations” for no other reason than the US is on Israel’s side of the conflict. There is no objective basis for the US Department of State’s “finding” that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. It is merely a propagandistic declaration.
Americans and Israelis do not call their bombings of civilians terror. What Americans and Israelis call terror is the response of oppressed people who are stateless because their countries are ruled by puppets loyal to the oppressors. These people, dispossessed of their own countries, have no State Departments, Defense Departments, seats in the United Nations, or voices in the mainstream media. They can submit to foreign hegemony or resist by the limited means available to them.
The fact that Israel and the United States carry on endless propaganda to prevent this fundamental truth from being realized indicates that it is Israel and the US that are in the wrong and the Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis, and Afghans who are being wronged.
The retired American generals who serve as war propagandists for Fox “News” are forever claiming that Iran arms the Iraqi and Afghan insurgents and Hamas. But where are the arms? To deal with American tanks, insurgents have to construct homemade explosive devices out of artillery shells. After six years of conflict the insurgents still have no weapon against the American helicopter gunships. Contrast this “arming” with the weaponry the US supplied to the Afghans three decades ago when they were fighting to drive out the Soviets.
The films of Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza show large numbers of Gazans fleeing from Israeli bombs or digging out the dead and maimed, and none of these people are armed. A person would think that by now every Palestinian would be armed, every man, woman, and child. Yet, all the films of the Israeli attack show an unarmed population. Hamas has to construct homemade rockets that are little more than a sign of defiance. If Hamas were armed by Iran, Israel’s assault on Gaza would have cost Israel its helicopter gunships, its tanks, and hundreds of lives of its soldiers.
Hamas is a small organization armed with small caliber rifles incapable of penetrating body armor. Hamas is unable to stop small bands of Israeli settlers from descending on West Bank Palestinian villages, driving out the Palestinians, and appropriating their land.
The great mystery is: why after 60 years of oppression are the Palestinians still an unarmed people? Clearly, the Muslim countries are complicit with Israel and the US in keeping the Palestinians unarmed.
The unsupported assertion that Iran supplies sophisticated arms to the Palestinians is like the unsupported assertion that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. These assertions are propagandistic justifications for killing Arab civilians and destroying civilian infrastructure in order to secure US and Israeli hegemony in the Middle East.
“The debate over the use of violent or nonviolent means becomes serious only if opposition forces are ready to fully implement the resources of each strategy. No doubt, it is easy to argue against armed struggle, but the real issue is to come up with a real alternative, that is, an alternative other than participation in elections, which are not winnable under present conditions. Only when peaceful struggle includes disobedience, so I argue, does it surge as a real alternative to armed struggle. This article is not meant to take a side by supporting or condemning any one strategy. Nor is it intended to tell those who are bravely doing politics under dire conditions or militarily fighting against the regime what they should do. Rather, it is to contribute to the ongoing debate in such a way that Ethiopians have a clear vision of what the alternatives are. Clarity is necessary to decide which alternative can bring change faster and with the least suffering and destruction.”
February 7th, 2009 | Categories: Ethiopia
By Messay Kebede
Since the disintegration of Kinijit after the release of its leaders from prison, the debate is raging between supporters of armed struggle and those still favoring a peaceful form of struggle. The purpose of this paper is to review their respective arguments and counterarguments, not so much to declare the one position correct as to provide clarity on the strategic choices that Ethiopians face in their fight to bring about social change. My feeling is that both sides made their choice either without fully understanding the potentials of the alternative choice or without properly weighing the nature and requirements of their own strategic choice. Before examining what the two choices mean in Ethiopia’s concrete situation, I want to present the general arguments that theoreticians and political leaders use to support either peaceful or armed struggle.
Dictatorship and Armed Struggle
The most compelling justification for violent political action is the belief that it is the only and last resort to topple a dictatorial regime. As the latter makes peaceful struggle impossible by the use of brutal repression and the complete rejection of negotiated outcome, it gives no other choice to people than to overthrow it by violent uprising. Not only is it argued that removal of a regime that denies basic rights is a fundamental right of people, but also that it is appropriate to use violence, given that dictatorial regimes only understand the language of force.
Violence achieves two basic truths. First, you show to your opponent that you are beyond life, that you are ready to sacrifice your life for your dignity and rights, thereby regenerating your own worth to yourself. Second, the use of violent means inculcates fear into the dictatorial regime and forces it to think that the business of denying rights to people has become a risky and unprofitable game. Most of all, fear demoralizes the repressive forces as it becomes quite clear to them that the defense of the regime increasingly requires the sacrifices not only of their comfort but also of their life.
For the defenders of violent action and armed struggle, the problem lies less in the legitimacy of violence than in the prevailing ideology painting nonviolent action as the best way to achieve social change. Especially, since the decline of the Marxist ideology of revolutionary change in favor of a reformist approach, nonviolent action has gained new respectability. As a result, the advocates of nonviolence have established their hegemony in all spheres of public expressions and have succeeded in presenting the use of violence as wrong and inefficient.
The hegemonic standing of nonviolence ideology has been instituted through fabricated stories about the efficiency of nonviolence. The cases of Gandhi and India’s independence, of Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement in the US, the fall of apartheid in South Africa, the disintegration of socialist regimes, etc., are presented as evidence of the efficiency of nonviolent movement. These stories deliberately overlook that the changes were obtained through a whole spectrum of actions, the most decisive being the threat of greater or actual violence.
These falsifications go hand-in-hand with the rejection of the role of social violence and war in history. Yet, the most superficial look at history attests that social progress was often achieved by violent means, as witnessed by the violent nature of revolutions. The Marxist belief that force is the midwife of history applies to any historical case where a significant social advancement has been achieved.
The attempt to eliminate violence as a legitimate means of political struggle is to be placed in the context of the hegemonic order of globalization. The triumph of a global capitalist order understandably devalues violence in favor of nonviolence, which always ends up in negotiations and concessions benefiting globalist forces. The universal method of delegitimizing violent political struggle is to call it “terrorism.” Whereas violent uprising contests the status quo, nonviolence establishes norms of political struggle that results in integration and compromises. Western countries encourage and financially support governments and opposition movements that abide by the rules of nonviolent form of political competition. In this way, the world order, as established by globalist forces, is safeguarded against any major disruption.
The Advantages of Nonviolence
It springs to mind that what fuels such a debate is the complete misunderstanding of what nonviolent action really is. The defenders of violent action equate nonviolence with pacifism and submission when the advocates of nonviolent action have always insisted that the equation is utterly mistaken. True, nonviolence is a commitment not to use violent means, but it never preaches submission, passivity, or even patience. On the contrary, it is set on political defiance for the purpose of achieving social change through the practice of civil disobedience or noncooperation, involving such public acts of defiance as strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, etc.
Wrong is, therefore, the view confining nonviolent movement to legalism, understood in the sense of doing only those actions that the repressive regime authorizes. Since it is a rebellious strategy, it openly challenges the repressive rules of the regime. Accordingly, nonviolent struggle does not mean absence of confrontations and serious risks, including numerous deaths, obvious as it is that dictatorial regimes often tend to respond to nonviolent actions with violent repressions so as to discourage further insubordination. Clearly, nonviolent resistance requires as much, if not more, courage, discipline, and sacrifice as armed struggle. The decisive difference, however, so say theoreticians of nonviolence, is that it obtains faster and better results and with less destruction of human life and property than armed insurrection.
Most crucial here is less the rejection of violence than the choice of nonviolence as the most appropriate or the only method to bring about social change. Violence is not refused on grounds of religious or moral principles; rather, nonviolence is selected on grounds of greater efficiency. In other words, the best method of changing a dictatorial order is not violence, be it armed struggle or violent uprising, but nonviolent action.
Advocates of nonviolence want the debate to be over efficiency rather than morality. One basic argument in favor of greater efficiency is that nonviolent methods confront dictatorial regimes where they are weak. Indeed, the choice of a violent response to the violence of the state is a confrontation against a ready-made repressive force that has the advantages of number and resources. It is never smart to attack where the enemy is superior.
To be sure, supporters of violent methods readily object by pointing out that guerrilla warfare is precisely a method that counters the military superiority of the state. It is a form of war that neutralizes the advantages of the professional army and police of the oppressor through the use of mobility and elusiveness, thereby changing weakness into tactical offensive. Nonetheless, theoreticians of guerrilla warfare also insist that specific conditions are necessary to make this form of war successful, such as the full support of the local population, the suitability of the terrain, the availability of sanctuaries––often provided by neighboring countries––etc. Where such conditions are not met, guerrilla warfare has trouble making headway.
This dependence on specific conditions indicates that guerrilla warfare is not a universal panacea against dictatorial regimes, as opposed to nonviolent action, which is available for any society at any time. Moreover, it is by no means certain that armed struggle always succeeds in defeating militarily established states. Interestingly, when armed struggles fail, people invariably turn to nonviolent action as the only resort. A case in point is South Africa: when 25 years of armed struggle failed to produce an appreciable military result against the Apartheid regime, the ANC leadership correctly shifted to and encouraged nonviolent resistance. Likewise, the realization of the inefficiency of armed struggle against the state of Israel led Palestinians to adopt the largely nonviolent movement known as intifada.
More often than not, armed struggle achieved military victory after a protracted state of war involving heavy human suffering and sacrifices as well as extensive destructions of property. In light of such heavy human and material losses, proponents of nonviolent action argue that nonviolence achieves change in lesser time and with less sacrifices and destructions. What is more, it guarantees a better result, for history teaches us that regimes established as a result of military victory are usually not better than the regimes they overthrew. At any rate, they are not likely to put in place a democratic political system if only because the militarized leadership of a guerrilla movement is little inclined to draw its legitimacy from popular consent. Obviously, armed struggle creates a new power that is as independent of the people as was the ousted regime.
While a guerrilla movement is liberation by proxy, nonviolent movement requires and develops the active participation of the working people. Herein lies the power of nonviolence: it is the active mobilization of the power that people effectively control, namely, noncooperation. Surely, if a sufficient number of people repeatedly withdraw cooperation, engaging in acts of disobedience, for example in large strikes, the net outcome is that the country becomes ungovernable. Provided that it is widespread, noncooperation thus gives a strategic advantage to the working people by deploying a weapon against which repressive forces have little leverage.
Experience shows that regimes threatened by violent uprisings often become even more brutal, thereby causing greater loss of lives and resources. Repressive forces are most at ease in a situation of violence in that they have been trained and equipped to handle it. Different is the case when repressive forces encounter a peaceful mode of protest applying the tactics of noncooperation. The wider the noncooperation becomes, the less easy it is to repressive forces to coerce a great number of people into cooperation, not to mention the fact that the use of brutal methods against peaceful people could itself be morally troubling to police forces. Even if the most common assumption is to say that unarmed protesters will simply be gunned down by a dictatorial regime, history attests that even the worst regimes are reluctant to brutalize organized nonviolent people. So that, both the scale and the method of protest give advantages to the people by putting the repressive forces in an unfamiliar terrain.
Another and most remarkable benefit of nonviolence is the greater prospect of a better society. While a democratic outcome remains elusive with armed struggle, for nonviolent movement, it is almost inevitable. Since nonviolence is the liberation of the people by the people themselves, and not by a guerrilla army claiming to represent them, it activates their direct empowerment. Nonviolent forms of struggle are forums allowing ordinary people to learn and exercise their power. The fact that the liberation is not a gift, but an outcome of their struggle, means that both the spirit and the organizations generated during the struggle provide the best guarantee for the creation of a democratic order.
Among the important advantages of nonviolent struggle is also its ability to divide the camp of the opponent. Since unlike armed struggle the purpose is not so much to force the repressive regime into submission as to bring it to the negotiating table, this prospect of a negotiated settlement creates splits within the ruling class between moderates and extremists. The use of nonviolent methods and negotiations, in addition to promising a democratic future to everybody, removes the fear of retaliation from the supporters of the oppressive system. In advocating negotiations, it presents change as a win-win outcome. It was the shift to a nonviolent form of struggle that convinced many white South Africans to abandon the idea of a continued white domination.
Besides dividing and weakening the internal supporters of the status quo, nonviolent movement impacts favorably on world opinion, especially on Western countries. While spectacles of violent uprisings have usually a repelling effect on Western consciousness, nonviolent protests arouse sympathy and mobilize many sectors of Western societies, such as churches, trade-unions, human rights organizations, etc. Seeing the reliance of most third world dictatorships on Western financial and diplomatic assistance, the shift of public opinion in favor of protesters can effectively hasten their downfall through the termination of any form of assistance.
Nonviolence in the Ethiopian Context
The above clarification shows that those Ethiopians who converted from peaceful struggle to violent confrontation on the grounds that the EPRDF has completely closed––since its electoral defeat in 2005––the little democratic space that it had opened had actually a truncated conception of the nature of nonviolent struggle from the very beginning. For instance, in his article titled “Violence versus non-violence: A clash of strategies,” posted on Addis Voice of July 24, 2008 (www.addisvoice.com/article/violence_versus_nonviolence.htm), Ephrem Madebo justifies the abandonment of nonviolent struggle thus: “In the early 1990s, many Ethiopians supported the argument for a peaceful struggle, not because peaceful struggle was the only viable strategy, but most of us believed, though very slim, that there was a political space in Ethiopia wide enough to wage peaceful struggle. Well, we were unpretentiously right, but today, that political space has faded away and accommodates only one party.”
To make the choice of nonviolent struggle dependent on the availability of democratic space overlooks that the democratic or undemocratic nature of the regime in place is not a determining factor. Nonviolence strategy is sustained defiance intent on bringing the opponent to the negotiating table; it sends one powerful message, to wit, the ungovernability of the country so long as the regime persists in its repressive policy instead of opening up negotiations.
The events of the 2005 election as well as the growing number of new converts to armed struggle have no doubt fortified those Ethiopians who all along had thought that force was the only way to deal with the TPLF. This does not mean that their position has now become unchallengeable. One could certainly salute their consistency, but they have yet to convince us that armed struggle is the only way to bring real change in Ethiopia. We are not simply asking whether armed struggle can militarily defeat the TPLF in the near future, but most importantly, whether it can institute a democratic political system that can finally relaunch the long postponed modernization of Ethiopia.
Many Ethiopians believe that conditions favorable for a successful guerrilla war do not exist in present day Ethiopia. As already indicated, armed struggles can become successful when there is support from outside, especially when neighboring countries provide safe retreats, training centers, and arms. Both the EPLF and the TPLF waged a successful armed struggle against the Derg because they benefited from the support of neighboring countries as well as remote Arab countries. Likewise, the Cold War situation allowed them to benefit from the sympathy and support of Western countries, especially the US. Unfortunately, these conditions no longer exist, while Ethiopia remains surrounded by countries that are hostile to helping any movement seeking its renaissance and development. That is why existing guerrilla groups have no other choice than to depend on the Eritrean regime, which many Ethiopians consider as a completely unreliable ally, if not a hidden enemy. In light of this regional isolation, nonviolence remains the only strategy left to bring down the Woyanne regime.
Some Ethiopians argue that, besides unfavorable conditions, the very policy of the TPLF regime makes armed struggle a dangerous choice for Ethiopia and Ethiopians. Indeed, the strategy of the regime largely consists in exploiting ethnic diversity through a systematic policy of divide and rule that feeds ethnic tensions and shapes ethnic groups into competing forces. Inevitably, this situation of ethnic tensions and competitions taints armed struggle so that it is easily viewed more as a weapon for ethnic domination than as a mere expression of ethnic grievances. Far from uniting ethnic groups, the choice of armed struggle will thus drift them apart, since each group will want to have its own army. What this means is that the pursuit of armed struggle may turn ethnic tensions into generalized or indiscriminate wars that will be difficult to control. Only a large scale nonviolent movement in which ethnic groups participate more as protesters than as members of guerrilla groups can reduce the tensions deliberately provoked by the ruling elite.
Common sense indicates that the best way to deal with aggravated ethnic tensions is to build inter-ethnic coalitions through the recognition of the legitimate concerns of each ethnic group. Not only does this approach undermine the ideology of the regime, but most of all it removes the fear that change would result in another form of ethnic domination. Especially, only through the building of inter-ethnic coalitions can the fear many Tigreans have that the fall of Meles would trigger ethnic retaliation be eliminated. For instance, a coalition with the TPLF splinter group would send a resounding reassurance that nothing of the kind is going to happen. Clearly, inter-ethnic coalitions are better established through nonviolent movement than through the formation of guerrilla groups.
The choice of armed struggle seems to overlook the psychological side of the situation. Given that armed struggle cannot be successful without a large popular collaboration, it is important to know whether a large majority of Ethiopians is ready to support it. Whether we like it or not, what prevails now is a deep disenchantment as a result of successive deceptions since the fall of the imperial regime. Each time groups (the EPRP, the Derg, the EPLF, the TPLF and others) rose and claimed to bring about better conditions, the outcome was a change from bad to worse. Can armed struggle be successful in this climate of utter disenchantment?
It follows that nothing is more urgent than to rebuild the shattered self-confidence of the people by involving them in nonviolent forms of struggle, which require their direct and sustained participation. One way of combating the traumatism and the subsequent retreatism caused by successive betrayals of elite groups is to practice forms of protest that ask ordinary people to become their own liberators. What else is more needed in Ethiopia today than this rebuilding of people’s self-confidence ruined by decades of repressive regimes through the empowering act of nonviolent defiance?
Let it be added here that nonviolent form of struggle is what we need to wipe out the barbarism of Ethiopian political competition. When the TPLF seized power in 1992, I remember a television interview in which Meles bluntly declared that those who oppose the new power have only to do what the TPLF did, that is, become a victorious army. In so saying, Meles was actually revealing his idea of legitimacy: the TPLF deserves power because it defeated the Derg militarily; if you want power, you will have to do the same thing and defeat us militarily. Entitlement to power resides in the readiness to fight and defeat, it does not lie in the will of the people. In other words, power is up for grab for all those who are ready to fight and die for it. Consequently, power is never handed over; the only way by which it can change hands is when it is taken away. The Ethiopian political competition is a bloody zero-sum game.
Meles and his regime concretely demonstrated the nature of the game in the 2005 election. When the result of the election showed the emergence of a new power whose legitimacy emanated from the will of the people, Meles and his followers were quick to transform the situation into a form of competition that gave them the upper hand. They did so by provoking people into violence so that they could crack down in the name of law and order. They thus declared a state of emergency and banned all demonstrations in advance while engaging in massive electoral frauds that would surely anger people. The trap worked perfectly as very soon acts of angry protests multiplied in various places of Addis Ababa. Having transformed the peaceful election into a confrontation, Meles had changed the situation to his advantage: he was now in a familiar territory with all the necessary means to prevail.
One wonders what would have happened if, instead of angry demonstrations, which were dealt with excessive force, according to many observers, the protest had taken the form of a general strike paralyzing the government and shutting down production units. Unfortunately, this was not likely to happen: with the exception of taxi drivers, the country was not prepared for this kind of defiance. Neither the lack of unity among opposition forces nor the absence of prior expressions of defiance and organizational frameworks, as a result of the reduction of peaceful struggle to electioneering, was conducive to a generalized noncooperative response.
The lesson is clear enough: in order to make nonviolent struggle successful in Ethiopia, the first condition is to create a “culture of resistance.” Those who still advocate peaceful struggle must understand that the attempt to change the regime by means of election remains illusory––unless a situation of force majeure erupts––without the simultaneous creation of a culture of resistance through the practice of nonviolent actions. The regime will continue to win elections by means of fraud, intimidation, bribe, imprisonment of leaders, etc., so long as it is not made to understand that any illegal maneuvering will lead to widespread unrests, making the country ungovernable. If the defenders of nonviolent struggle persist in confining their activism to electioneering, then they have no argument against armed struggle. They can even be accused of collaborating unintentionally with the regime, since their participation in elections that they know are not winnable only shores up its democratic façade.
I am not suggesting that parties should not participate in elections; they are free to implement whatever strategies they deem necessary to get what they want. However, what they cannot do is to lure the people into a type of action that can never deliver the promised liberation. This deception is no less detrimental than the repression of the regime, since it demoralizes the country and, most of all, ends up convincing a growing number of people that armed struggle is the only solution. Unless the regime is forced to negotiate through a defiant type of nonviolent struggle, no serious argument can be made against armed struggle. What is more, the perpetuation of dictatorship will intensify the tension between ethnic groups to the point of making violent confrontations inevitable. The more a dictatorship endures because parties and their leaders only engage in accommodative forms of peaceful competition, the greater becomes the attraction of armed struggle as a much better alternative.
The inability of the people to stop the reversal of the 2005 electoral victory most forcefully demonstrates the need for unity. The necessity of unity is even more imperative for parties that want to make nonviolent struggle really successful. For nonviolent methods, such as strikes, boycotts, demonstrations, etc., to be decisive, paralyzing, they must be general. The best way to create unity is when opposition forces reach a clear political consensus. It has been said again and again: the regime survives because it does not face a united front so that the main weakness of the opposition in Ethiopia is the lack of unity.
Now if we ask why unity is not achievable, the answer is that leaders of opposition parties tend to believe that the hatred of the regime is enough to unite the people. As a result, each party sticks to its original position and expects to be joined by others simply because they hate the regime. This reasoning forgets that each party, in addition to wanting regime change, also asks what change means in terms of gains for itself. So long as there is no assurance that unity brings some benefits, the general tendency is to compete separately even if it is without decisive outcome, not to mention those parties that would rather stay with the regime than risk losing everything in a unity that has no role for them. This applies especially to the opposition parties that claim to represent larger groups, such as the Oromo and the Amhara. These parties must do more than invite others to join them; they must reach out to them.
This is to say that unity must be the outcome of a common political program reached through mutual concessions accommodating the major concerns of each party. Only when each party is assured that its major concerns are taken into consideration that it will defend unity at all costs. I have particularly in mind ethnic parties: those parties that claim to have a national rather than ethnic base must not make unity conditional on the surrender of ethnic identity and interests. Instead, they must opt for a program that safeguards national unity while integrating ethnic concerns.
The irony is that the major weakness of the TPLF lies in the ethnic policy that it initiated and implemented: the much-proclaimed equality of ethnic groups is totally incompatible with the hegemonic practice of the TPLF. What we want in Ethiopia is not the eradication of ethnic or religious identities, but the cessation of their politicization, which is indeed dangerous to national unity as it encourages exclusiveness. The universal means to curb politicization is the establishment of a genuine equality in a democratic system of governance. So instead of decrying ethnicity, which only extends the life of the regime, let us use it both to bring down the dominance of the TPLF and establish a truly democratic society.
Only the realization of unity based on mutual concessions among opposition parties can create the condition of a large, massive resistance against the regime. We seem to forget that what brought down the deeply entrenched Haile Selassie’s regime was the spontaneous spread of urban resistance, which resistance had the particular effect of disconcerting his repressive forces. Unlike the option for armed struggle, unity is imperative for a nonviolent movement, as its strength lies in its massiveness.
To sum up, the debate over the use of violent or nonviolent means becomes serious only if opposition forces are ready to fully implement the resources of each strategy. No doubt, it is easy to argue against armed struggle, but the real issue is to come up with a real alternative, that is, an alternative other than participation in elections, which are not winnable under present conditions. Only when peaceful struggle includes disobedience, so I argue, does it surge as a real alternative to armed struggle. This article is not meant to take a side by supporting or condemning any one strategy. Nor is it intended to tell those who are bravely doing politics under dire conditions or militarily fighting against the regime what they should do. Rather, it is to contribute to the ongoing debate in such a way that Ethiopians have a clear vision of what the alternatives are. Clarity is necessary to decide which alternative can bring change faster and with the least suffering and destruction.
(The writer can be reached at Messay.Kebede@notes.udayton.edu)
District Police Chief Malik Tassadaq Hayyat says the attack came before dawn Saturday near the town of Mianwali in eastern Punjab province.
He says residents also heard gunfire before the explosion that knocked down the roadside checkpoint.
Hayyat would not say who could be behind the attack but said it was “an act of terrorism” and officers were still investigating Mianwali lies at the edge of Pakistan’s troubled North West Frontier Province where police and troops have been fighting pro-Taliban militants since soon after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.
|Posted February 2009|
The new Great Game on the Silk Road is already underway. Has Team Obama gotten the memo yet?
TARIQ MAHMOOD/AFP/Getty Images
Hail Mary: With the Khyber Pass threatened, NATO is scrambling for new logistics routes through Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan.
The diplomatic and military surge into South-Central Asia that will define the Obama administration’s early years has already begun. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and Centcom head Gen. David Petraeus have become regular visitors to Islamabad and Kabul. Vice President Joe Biden recently came through for huddled conversations, and veteran Balkan negotiator Richard Holbrooke has just embarked on his first trip as special envoy to the region. Enough congressional delegations are passing through that the Pakistani media jokes that there must a “two-for-one” sale on Pakistan International Airlines.
But perhaps people in Congress should be looking into ticket prices on China Air and IranAir as well.
Despite the flurry of American activity in the region, it’s by no means clear that Washington is any closer to understanding the dynamics in South-Central Asia — some that predate 9/11, and many that are new. On my recent trip to the region, I saw the incoherency unfolding for myself. To fix its strategy and hence, Afghanistan, the Obama administration will have to go regional — and, crucially, look beyond the usual suspects for help, even if they are not naturally inclined allies.
We all know that Pakistan is a vital piece of the puzzle, but consider for a moment the consequences of a strategy that lacks a regional element. If the additional 30,000 U.S. troops being deployed in southern and eastern Afghanistan succeed at pushing Taliban fighters intro retreat over the border into Pakistan, they could massively destabilize that country’s already volatile Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP), which is itself almost as populous as Iraq. U.S. troops would be squeezing a balloon on one end only to inflate it on the other.
On the Pakistan side, newly armed (with Chinese AK-47s) tribal lashkars (militias) would be unable to cope with the Taliban influx. Meanwhile, fewer armored carrots from a pro-democracy Obama administration have diminished the Pakistani military’s willingness to support American priorities, evidenced by a sudden increase in attacks on NATO convoys in Peshawar and the Khyber Pass. Centcom is scrambling for new logistics routes through Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan. As was the case under the Musharraf regime, the Army is more interested in American planes than policies.
But China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran are also becoming increasingly important — not as neighbors of the chaos, like Pakistan, but meddlers in it. The United States is already failing to grasp not only the details of other powers’ maneuverings in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but the extent to which these dealings could eclipse even the most brilliant U.S. shuttle diplomacy by Holbrooke.
Chabahar and the Indian-built Zaranj-Delaram highway in western Afghanistan that connects the country’s ring road to Kandahar and Kabul. (Some NATO allies are already rumored to be in dialogue with Iran about this option for access.) Building roads and controlling their usage has for centuries been the foundation of spreading Silk Road influence, as well as the key to success in the 19th-century Great Game. Today’s struggle for control follows similar rules.
Clearly, the United States cannot resolve the “Af-Pak” problem alone. One way to align Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s regional partners would be to follow a regional security model, much like those already adopted in Europe, East Asia, South America and even Africa. Such a self-sustaining mechanism in South-Central Asia must begin with a joint Afghan-Pak force empowered to conduct operations on both sides of the border, as recently proposed by Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak. At the same time, the United States will have to accept Afghan and Pakistani negotiations with Taliban commanders. If ever these groups were glorified fringe phenomena of the frontier, today they are rooted in a deep Punjabi and Pashtun social base that cannot be eradicated anytime soon.To clear and hold will require a Pakistani version of the Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) that have been deployed to some effect in Afghanistan. Rather than spending the civilian portion of the $1.5 billion in promised annual assistance (as foreseen in the Pakistan Enhanced Partnership Act) on USAID’s usual roster of “beltway bandits,” Pakistani-led PRTs should be provided with the cash and supplies to hire thousands of local Pashtun to build roads, hospitals, and schools, and install power generators. NWFP policemen, who earn two-thirds their Punjabi counterparts (despite working in the most dangerous circumstances in the world), should get more pay. This process can begin from the Khyber Agency outside Peshawar and spread north and west towards the Afghan border, turning unsettled lawless areas into settled integrated ones. Rather than spreading weapons in an area already armed to the teeth, PRTs can run gun-for-work programs.
Here again, a strategy that reflects the region’s changing dynamics is paramount. The original PRTs in Afghanistan need a sizable boost, and this should come in the form of Arab, Turkish and especially Chinese participation, under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional security mechanism that may well soon expand to include Iran, and later, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not only would this participation unlock thousands more stabilization- and reconstruction-oriented soldiers and civilians, but it would bind NATO’s chief rivals for influence in the region into a common project. These are just some of the tradeoffs necessary to encourage a thaw with Iran, monitor China, stabilize Afghanistan, encourage political reform in Pakistan, and placate insecure India. If the U.S. cannot negotiate a modus vivendi among the nations and rivals of South-Central Asia, then perhaps China will.
Parag Khanna is senior research fellow in the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation and author of The Second World: How Emerging Powers are Redefining Global Competition in the Twenty-First Century (New York: Random House, 2008).
Four rockets fired from Lebanon landed in northern Israel on Thursday morning, slightly wounding two old women and prompting the Israeli army to respond with artillery fire, officials said. The rockets were the first fired from Lebanon since 2007.
Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for Israeli police, said the rockets struck two different places in northern Israel’s Galilee region. Lebanese security sources said between three and five rockets were fired from southern Lebanon.
According to Reuters, an Israeli military spokesman said Israel mounted “a pinpoint response at the source of (the rocket) fire.” A security source said Israel fired five artillery shells. After the incident, the Lebanese army said that the military and U.N. peacekeepers responded with adopting measures to “bring the situation under control.”
Hizbullah denied any involvement in Thursday’s attack. On its part, Hamas in Lebanon said it was not behind the rocket attack on northern Israel. Meanwhile, PFLP-GC official Anwar Raja did not confirm or deny the Palestinian group’s involvement in the attack.
The Lebanese government criticised the rocket attack, saying it was a violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that halted a 2006 war between Hizbullah and the Jewish state. According to Reuters, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora asked the Lebanese authorities to step up measures and their cooperation with U.N. peacekeepers in south Lebanon to “prevent a repeat of these acts,” a statement issued from his office said.
“Prime Minister Siniora regards what happened in the south as a violation of the international resolution 1701 and something he does not accept and rejects,” the statement issued by Siniora’s office said. Siniora called for an investigation into the incident.