Is Fethullah Gulen Working for the CIA?

Is Fethullah Gulen Working for the CIA? 


Kurdishaspect.com – By Dr. Aland Mizell

Is Fethullah Gulen really a CIA agent? Or does Fethullah Gulen know how to use the CIA for his interest? Why is the Gulen movement more successful than any other Muslim movement in Turkey or even outside of Turkey? Is the Gulen movement  really chosen by God and making his followers “the chosen ones”? Who introduced Gulen to the Washington Circle?  What was the role of the Jewish community, such as the Anti-Defamation League, in promoting him in the USA?  Gulen and his followers are opportunistic. They know how to use people and systems for their purpose; for example, in the eighties he positioned himself against Communism to get the support of the USA. Gulen never takes risks but rather finds the direction of the wind, and then his followers will do anything to succeed.  I would not be surprised if Gulenists have already infiltrated the CIA. In the past Dr. Necip Hablemitoglu, professor of history at Ankara University studied the relation of Fethullah Gulen’s community with the CIA. In his study he claimed that the CIA used Fethullah Gulen or that Gulen worked for the CIA. Dr. Hablemitoglu was assassinated in 2002, and his case has still not been solved. Regarding Gulen’s connection to the CIA, former Turkish Intelligence Chief, Osman Nuri Gundes, in his memoir claimed that Gulen’s movement has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s, and that in the 90s, the movement sheltered 130 CIA agents at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone. The memoir revealed that the CIA operates in Central Asia by using the Gulenists’ movement. Furthermore, the Washington Post, hastening its news sells, printed the partial and prejudiced coverage of this recently published memoir by Chief Gundes. I think that the publication was an important piece although not a fair, objective news analysis, but rather a marketing tool and a kind of propagandistic journalism for the Gulenists. I think that the author failed to demonstrate the intense secrecy of the organization and neglected to conduct further investigation to see if the Gulenists do have a connection with the CIA.

In addition, the author of the Washington Post article could have interviewed more people not Just Graham Fuller, author of The Future of Political Islam, an ex-CIA agent and former CIA station chief in Afghanistan, and a favorable voice for the movement to see if Fuller’s assertions are relevant or not. It seems Mr. Fuller explicitly denies CIA connections with Gulenists’ missionaries. Further, Fuller claims that he has no knowledge about the Gulenist movement, but then later he adds that he did write a letter to the FBI in 2006 saying that Mr. Gulen is not a danger to US security and urging the government not to deport him to his native country of Turkey. If Graham Fuller does not know much about Gulen, then why would he write a letter to the FBI to say that he is not a danger to American security or to argue against his extradition?  Why would he give a free ride to Gulenists and to Gulen? How long did Fuller study the Gulen movement before he made such statements about Gulen’s role in Central Asia or about his not being a danger? How did Fuller and former USA Ambassador Morton Abramowitz and businessman Ishak Alaton know each other? What was the role of the Anti-Defamation League’s president, Abraham Foxman, and the League’s Deputy National Director, Kenneth Jacobson?  The Post piece was far from investigative reporting.What other liaisons call into question Gulen’s relation to the CIA? To what extent did the CIA and Gulenists collaborate with General Rashid Dostum, the leader of Afghanistan’s minority Uzbek community? In 1998, the Taliban forced Dostum to flee to Turkey; he returned from exile in Turkey to Afghanistan in April 2001. Seeing his potential, President Hamid Karzai appointed Dostum as Chief of Staff to the Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces in 2005. What reshaping or alliances occurred during those three years in Turkey?

Besides the CIA, another group Gulen used and became significantly connected with was the US Jewish community and with the worldwide one, chiefly through Ishak Alaton, co- founder and chairman of the executive board of Alarko Holding Company. Alaton is one of the wealthiest business tycoons in the world, owning Alarko with its interests primarily in energy, land development, housing, investment, tourism, and other enterprises. He is a Jew raised in Turkey. Having been a courageous public voice for Gulen and Gulenists in Turkey and abroad, he is very close to Gulen and regularly keeps in touch thanks to his worldwide contacts. In any difficulties Gulen and Gulenists ask for help from Alaton. For example, the Alaton’s had close business alliances in Turkmenistan, so that when Gulen’s schools ran into political trouble, Gulen asked for his help to keep his schools open there. Also, when the Russian authorities closed down his operations and did not let Gulenists open schools in Russia, Gulen sent Ishak Alaton to tell the Russian authority that Gulen’s followers were not fundamentalists and to lend Alaton’s credibility in testifying that they were safe. In 2006, when Gulen had problems with his immigration in the US, one of Gulen’s closest friends, Ahmet Kara, and the editor of the Zaman newspaper, Ekrem Dumanli, again asked help from Alaton because the Gulenist leaders were nervous about how to prevent his deportation from America.  Alaton asked help from the former USA Ambassador to Turkey, Morton Abramowitz.  In part through Abramowitz’s intervention and other CIA letters of recommendation besides Fuller’s, the US Office for Immigration did not deport Gulen to his native country of Turkey.

Like the CIA, Gulenists thrive on secrecy. For Gulenists a strategy without
tactics is the slowest route to accomplish their goals. The core of the
organization is secrecy (Sir Tutmak) and caution (Tedbirli olmak) because
tactics without an overarching strategy for them is the noise before the defeat. Secrecy becomes an addiction for Gulenists. They are trained not to give information away, and, according to Gulen. Keeping a secret is equivalent to guarding one’s chastity. Keeping secrets whether personal, collegial, or national is like keeping themselves chaste, so they must be meticulous about keeping the secret as they would be about their honor. Conversely those who spread secrets damage their honor and reputation by leaving them unguarded. Before a candidate joins the organization the Gulenists will indoctrinate the student about how to keep secrets.  If followers want to tell someone a secret, they must be sure that they can trust him or her with their honor. An unreliable person, one who is ignorant of the value of chastity, should not be entrusted with keeping a secret. Gulen explains this doctrine in his Pearls of Wisdom.  He teaches that hearts are created as safes for keeping secrets. Intelligence is their lock; will power is their key. No one can break into the safe and steal its valuables if the lock or keys are not faulty. He urges his followers to bear in mind that those who carry others’ secrets to you might bear yours to others. Further, he cautions them not to give such tactless people any chance to learn even the smallest details of your private concerns. A secret is a power only as long as it stays with its owner but is a weapon that may be used against its owner if it passes into the hands of others. Developing his point, Gulen explains, “This is the meaning of one of our traditional sayings: ‘The secret is your slave but you become its slave if you disclose it.’” The details of many important affairs can be protected only if they are kept secret. Often enough when the involved parties do not keep certain matters secret no progress is achieved. In addition, serious risks might confront those who are involved particularly if the matter concerns delicate issues of national life and its continuation. This doctrine admonishes them, “Explain what you must but never give away all of your secrets. Those who freely publicize the secrets of their hearts drag themselves and their nation toward an inevitable downfall .If a state cannot protect its secrets from its enemies it cannot develop. If an army reveals its strategy to its antagonists it cannot attain victory. If key workers are won over by the competitors their employers cannot succeed.” Secrecy undergirds Gulen’s life and movement.

If Gulen does not have a secret agenda, then why would his followers be so
secretive? The truth never envelops itself in mystery, yet we see that
Gulenists’ claims about tolerance, interfaith dialogue, justice, peace and
equality slowly reveal the reality behind the movement as it developed in
Turkey. What Gulenists want is total power and one-man rule; they want a status so that none could dare to object to them or to their leader, because they sincerely believe that Allah has chosen them to disseminate their brand of Turkish Islam to the world, and therefore that everything they do is right and without mistakes. That is why the best weapon for a dictator’s regime is secrecy, but the best weapon for a real democracy is openness and transparency, is it not? How democratic, open, and transparent are the Gulenists?

Why did the CIA support Gulenists in Central Asia? It is no secret that the CIA and Washington support Gulenists in Central Asia to counter the Iranian version of the Shia religious influence there.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, there was a social, political, and religious vacuum. Central Asian states were weak, so obviously the world would ask who would fill that vacuum. Even at that time when Gulen sent his followers to Central Asia, he asked them to hasten, urging, “If you don’t go now, later this door could be closed, and others will fill your place.” It was not a surprise that Islam filled that vacuum because the majority of the Central Asian countries have a Muslim heritage. Having recently emerged from an atheistic Communism, they more readily embraced their traditional religion. But after the collapse of Soviet Union the balance of power changed as well. Before this downfall, the East was dominated by the Soviet Union and the West by America, but afterwards the United States became the single superpower and thus had its chance to extend its power to Central Asia.

Another player that tried to benefit from this power vacuum, thus bringing about the US alliance with Gulen , was Iran, because it was important for Iran to be involved in the political and social process of Central Asian countries, Furthermore, Iran wanted to influence the newly independent states with the Shia version of Islam, so that they could export the Islamic revolution to these countries and thereby tie them more closely to Iran.  Iran’s neighboring Central Asian country, Tajikistan, does not have Turkic roots but rather is more Persian.  Because of the hostile relations between Iran and the United States, the collapse of the Soviet bloc was not a desirable event for Iran because Iran and the Soviet Union were allies to confront the United States. Therefore, the collapse of the Soviet Union raised the question about which model the Central Asian countries should use as an example. There were two choices: one was Iran whose hostility against the US interests in the region were well known, and the second choice was Turkey.  The US was nervous that Iran would back a radical
Islamic movement in the Central Asian countries to create Islamic regimes that would be loyal to Iran and threatening to American national interests in the region; therefore, Washington urged the Central Asian countries to adopt the Turkish model, which at the time was supposed to be based on secularism, a free market economy, and democracy. Then in 1992, the US Secretary of the State, James Baker, during his trip to Central Asia, urged the Central Asian countries to adopt the seemingly secular and democratic Turkish model for their political and economical development, not the Iranian model. Especially after 9/11, the US invasion of Afghanistan increased the political will that the US should more intensely confront Iran because the US claimed Iran made it more difficult to win the battle against terrorism because it aided Al-Qaida.

Thus, Turkey and Iran began fighting for a new hegemonic power in Central Asia. Because of the new states’ religious and ethnic ties with Turkey, the demise of U.S.S.R. opened a new door of opportunity for Turkey to renew its kinship with them and its interest in their rich resources, and many Muslims, opened a vast number of schools and invested in businesses there for the long run. However, after the Soviet Union fell, a political space allowed for the rapid growth of Fundamentalism as well as for new national identities. Many Central Asian students went outside their countries, especially to Saudi Arabia and to Egypt to relearn their religion. In response the Gulen community established his religious schools to compete with Iranian Shi’ism and Saudi Wahabism in the region. Turkey desired to influence the republics with its Sunni religion, and Iran wanted to promulgate its Shia sect. In the face of these alternatives, the United States’ policy urged Turkey to become the dominant model for social-political and economic development in Central Asia and in the Middle East. The U.S. viewed Turkey as a democratic country with a free market economy that would influence the newly independent Central Asian countries. Consequently, Washington saw the influence of the Turkish brand of Islam in the Central Asia in a short run as in America’s interest but in the long run understood that it could backfire.

The story of the CIA’s involvement in this strategy emerges at this point. In
the short run the Turkish social and economic model would restrain the Iranian model of Fundamental Islam and thus slow the growth of Fundamentalism in Central Asia and would prevent a confrontational approach to the region’s problems. But Washington did not calculate the long-term US interest in the region because in the long run aligning with Turkish Islam could backfire and could damage the U.S.’s economic interests in the Central Asian and Middle Eastern regions. For example, in 1979, the U.S. supported the small evil Taliban regime in order to
contain the seemingly larger evil of the Soviet Union. After defeating the
bigger evil, the small evil became problematic for the U.S. in that region. The U.S.’s interest in Central Asia would be affected long-term by the new growth of the Turkish version of Islam. Today this version of Islam has become almost a dominant power in Central Asia especially in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. The political space to gain such power may have resulted from Gulen’s courtship with the CIA in those countries.

I do not know why CIA agents still deny that they know about this association. Because of Fethullah Gulen’s vast network of schools and businesses, thousands of students are graduating each year from those schools, speaking Turkish, practicing the Turkish version of Islam, and moving into key governmental positions. With this strategy Gulen seeks to bring back the Ottoman Empire. Yet, Washington sees the movement only as an alternative to radicalism. Politically as well as religiously Turkey has been fighting for a long time for a new hegemonic power in the Middle East. In addition, Turkey and Iran have been competing for Islamic leadership. Who is the best suited to represent Islam? Turkish Muslims, like Fethullah Gulen, argue that the Ottoman Empire represented Islam for almost six hundred years, and thus the Turks are the only Muslims who represent true Islam. That’s why the CIA supports Gulen’s sect, and it is well known.  If the CIA agents do not know anything about the Gulen movement, that means the US foreign interests  are in danger, but, of course, the CIA, like Gulen, deny they do not have any relation because both are trained well and require covert operations for their success.Gulen urged his followers not to act prematurely, because it might cost them heavily. Gulen teaches his followers to know their enemy, explaining that if they know the enemy and know themselves, then they do not need to fear the outcome. Gulen trains his followers like CIA agents, thereby creating good obedient young soldiers ready to give their life for the purpose of this (Hizmet) service. I would claim that Gulenists are not working for the CIA, but rather Gulenists are using the CIA for their interest. They know how to use people for their purpose. For example, if today Gulenists’ schools are not closed in Central Asian countries, it is because Gulenists secretly sent the former President of Turkey, Turgot Özal, to visit the schools in Central Asian countries and to tell the heads of the States that they are not a threat, like CIA agent Fuller told the US government that Gulen is not a threat to the USA. The public did not know that the former President of Turkey had a connection with Gulen and his movement; the public did not know that Gulen secretly sent Özal to Central Asia to prevents his schools from being closed; the public did not know that Gulen sent former president Özal to the Balkans to promote his schools as well until Özal died in 1993, when Opal’s connecting with the movement became public. Also, Gulen himself one time said that he asked then President Özal, to intervene because the Gulenists had been kicked out of the military and police academy.  Özal’ s answered to Gulen that he had been followed by the Turkish intelligence and everything had been wired, so the Gulenists knew that the CIA had been following them even infiltrated within them; that is why they were so careful.

Did the CIA help Gulenists in Uzbekistan or not? What went wrong in the summer of 1994-1995 in Uzbekistan?  Why did so many Gulenists teachers and bellet men (dormitory counselors) go to Turkey for summer vacations and were not able to return to Uzbekistan? The Gulenists are not working for the CIA because in Uzbekistan in the summer of 1994, more than 150 Gulenists belletmen and teachers went to back to Turkey for summer vacation, but also more than 100 belletmen stayed in Uzbekistan, supposedly the first group would take their turn first, go to Turkey, and then come back so the next group could go. But they could not come back to Uzbekistan again because President Kerimov suspected their acvitivities and closed some of the schools. Thus, the half of the teachers and belletmen who were left behind in Uzbekistan could not go back to Turkey, because if they went back, they would not have been re-admitted and that would have been the end of the Gulenist movement in Uzbekistan. Gulen feared the closings could spread to other neighboring countries. He tried everyway to solve the problem, but the Uzbek government did not change its decision. It closed the schools and did not let the followers who had gone to Turkey back into Uzbekistan.

Gulenists used all their power but still failed; the reason they failed to solve
the problem with the Uzbek government was because one of the high positions in Gulen’s organization gave the sensitive information to the Uzbek government. The person who gave information was in charge of the belletmen, all the schools, and the English department; of course, some of the belletmens who stayed in Uzbekistan did nothing for almost one year, wasted their time, were upset, and wanted to kill the person, but Gulenists deported the person to Turkey. No one knows what happened to that person, whether he was excommunicated or whether he stayed in Turkey, but the rest of belletmens were sent to the neighboring countries of Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. It is not a secret that the CIA and the American government supported the Gulenist movement in Central Asia against Iran‘s influence there. Gulen slowly explained the connection with Ozal and the politics, but in reality, Gulen would say in public that they were not close to any party, but behind closed doors, he would support Ozal. To them, the party, ideology, or principles that “the host” is following is irrelevant; what matters for them is how they can use a person, institution, or source for their interest in a kind of symbiotic relationship. Furthermore, the founder and former leader of the Leftist Demokratik Sol Parti, Bulent Ecevit, praised Gulen during the soft coup against Gulen in 1995 and 1997. Ecevit convinced the secular military that Gulen and his community were serving the country with their schools. In particular, he noted that their schools in the Central Asian republics had decreased Iran’s influence there. It is true that the US embassy and consulates in Central Asia made it easy for Gulenists to get visas to come to the States from post-Soviet countries; for example, the president of a university in Georgia is the mother of the President of Georgia.
Students from those schools and particularly Gulenists’ favorite students have an easy way to come to the USA. Some of their schools even have a connection under the academic and student platform to come to the States. Why would the Gulenists deny their relation to the CIA? The truth seems to be optional for Gulenists. According to Gulen’s teachings, his followers have an obligation to know the truth but that truth cannot be revealed anywhere anytime, because if the time is not right, they cannot tell the truth.  For example, the strategy of denial is fabricated to appear that they are not part of any movement or community if any charge against them appears in the news. Sometimes if they need to prevaricate for the sake of the movement, they can deny any accusation, and by being cautious not give way all the information. Rather, they are to work patiently and silently until all the institutions are in order to seize power. Timing about when and how to reveal their true goal is very crucial for the Gulenists. Gulenists are experts on how to buy and use persons for their interest.

Therefore, a lie can be justified. Gulenists are very good at using someone for their interest; it does not matter whether he is a criminal or a dictator as
long as he or she helps his movement to advance. A good example is the President of Turkmenistan, who is a dictator, but they praised him. Gulen trained his followers that when they go to a place, not to denigrate the authority even if he is cruel because if they do, he will harm them or their cause.

Because of their secrecy, deception, unethical tactics for silencing critics
including threats and intimidation, deliberate misinformation campaigns,
brainwashing, and the use of bribery to recruit supporters, the movement is
successful. Gulen has done his calculations many times before his followers go to battle. Sun Tzu said, “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” Gulenists know their enemy well and that is why they do not fear the result of their fight. The problem is that the West does not know that the enemy is within, so they should be worried about the result of the fight. A country can survive its fools and its opportunists; however, it cannot endure the enemy from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly, like Al-Qaida. But the enemy within moves freely amongst those within the gates, but surely he is whispering and rustling through all the alleys. For the enemy within speaks, eats, acts, dresses, and behaves in ways familiar to his victims. I do not believe Gulen’s schools and civic organizations are merely motivated by the selfless desire to promote education, but rather they aim to foster the Ottoman Empire’s ideology and to have global
power. What other organizations promoting civil society are so secretive,
reactive, murky, and opaque? What other organization encourage their
organization to infiltrate all the institutions and establishments? As for his relation to CIA, it is clearly mutual and symbolic one. As in Biology, the two live in association with one another. The specific from of symbiosis is mutualism in that both benefits. The CIA believes that it ameliorates radicalism by associating with Gulenists, and Gulen receives the protection and a foil by the CIA’s involvement

The Turkish model–“Islamism” Lite

The Turkish model

A hard act to follow

In many ways Turkey’s Islamists seem to have got things right. But it took them a long time to emerge from the country’s army-guided secularism

Advice from Erdogan (right) for Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of Libya’s rebel council

PALE, bespectacled and polite, Bekir Berat Ozipek, a young professor at Istanbul’s Commerce University, is no street-fighter. But he was excited by the heady atmosphere he experienced on a recent trip to Egypt. He and two fellow Turkish scholars went to a conference at the University of Cairo where their ideas on civil-military relations were keenly gobbled up.

Then late one night, on the eve of a big protest, they went to Tahrir Square, the heart of Egypt’s uprising. They loved what they found: young people directing traffic, exuberant songs and slogans, a joker imitating ex-President Hosni Mubarak. Then they dived into a restaurant, where their chat about Egypt’s political system was joined by youngsters at the next table, as well as the waiter. Mr Ozipek thought he was living in the era of Voltaire.

A few days earlier another Turkish-Arab encounter took place. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, was winding up a visit to rebel-controlled Libya when he decided, to his minders’ alarm, to go to the central square of Benghazi, which like its Cairene counterpart is called Tahrir, or Liberation. As the crowd chanted “Erdogan, Turkey, Muslim”, he brought greetings from his prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and told them: “We have a common future and a history.”

From North Africa to the Gulf, the region seems to be going through a Turkish moment. In years past Turkey’s spotty democracy was often cited to prove a negative: the Turkish case (along with Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s, also with reservations) showed that Islam did not pose an insuperable barrier to multiparty democracy. But nothing much flowed from that observation—until the Arab spring. Turkey is now being studied by Arabs as a unique phenomenon: a movement of moderate Islamists, the Justice and Development (AK) party, has overseen an economic boom, boosted the country’s standing and shown that the coming to power of pious people need not mean a dramatic rupture in ties with the West.

Whatever the flaws of the Turkish experiment, it is clearly true that Turkey under the AK party presents a more benign picture than many other versions—real and hypothetical—of Islamist rule. The country has gained influence in the Middle East by keeping cordial ties with Iran and standing up for the Palestinians. But there is no suggestion that it will leave NATO or cut diplomatic links, however strained, with Israel. Life has been made easier for pious Muslims in ways that secular Turks dislike; but so far, at least, Turkey is a long way from any Iranian-style enforcement of female dress, let alone a clerical class that has the final say in all big decisions.

For Western observers of the Middle East, an evolution in a Turkish direction—towards relative political and economic freedom—would be a happier outcome than many others. So is there any reason why the Arab countries, having passed through their current upheavals, should not live happily, and Turkishly, ever after?

In fact, there are many reasons to be cautious about expecting Arabs to follow Turks. Turkey’s moderate Islamism did not evolve overnight. Its emergence, and taming, took a long time; it depended on many countervailing forces, including an army which was firm in its defence of a secular constitution, and was strong enough, at least until recently, to deter any imposition of Islamic rule (see article).

Both in Turkey and Egypt veterans of political Islam have seen a mixture of repression and limited participation in politics—but in Egypt the repression was harsher and the opportunities to practise democracy fewer. Albeit with fits and starts, Turkey’s Islamists had already learned some political lessons when they took power in 2002. And compared with many other politically active armies, Turkey’s has played a disinterested role. After taking power in 1980, the army moved fairly soon to restart multiparty politics and launch a free-market experiment. It did give a sop to Islam by introducing religion in schools; but that was a modest concession, made from a position of strength.

Compared with its Arab counterparts, Turkey’s secular order has deep roots, going back to the creation of a republic by Mustafa Kemal in 1923. Modern Turkey’s defining event—the defeat of a Greek expeditionary force dispatched with Western backing—was also the starting-point of a ruthless reform effort whose declared aims included “fighting religion” and ending the theocratic backwardness of the Ottomans. For decades afterwards, memory of this victorious moment was enough to fill secular nationalists with confidence, and put pious forces on the defensive.

As a largely devout Muslim nation, Turkey never ceased to produce charismatic religious leaders, but they had to adapt to the realities of a secular republic or else face prison or exile. To this day Turkey’s political and legal system bears the marks of years of army-guided secularism. Even Turkey’s Islamists remain “children of the republic”, says Berna Turam, a scholar at Boston’s Northeastern University.

Guidance from Fethullah Gulen
These days the religious teacher who wields most influence over the Turks is Fethullah Gulen, who lives in America and forms the apex of a huge conglomerate that includes NGOs, firms, newspapers and college dormitories in Turkey, plus schools across the world. Whatever the ultimate aim of Mr Gulen, his talk is Western-friendly: he mixes the vocabulary of Sufism with language that is broadly pro-business and pro-democracy.

In contrast to many Arab Islamists he tries to please Christians and Jews. Turkish sceptics say the Gulen movement is more fundamentalist, and less liberal, at its hard core than its benign external face would suggest. The fate of several journalists who have tried probing it, and found themselves prosecuted or jailed, lends weight to that belief. People who criticise the movement can face nasty smear campaigns.

But followers of Mr Gulen claim that meetings they held in the 1990s had a huge influence on Mr Erdogan, persuading him to abandon the idea of an Islamic state. Mr Gulen made an unusual break with the government after last year’s killing of nine Turks by Israeli commandos who swooped on a ship taking supplies to Gaza. He said it was partly the Turkish side’s fault: the flotilla should not have defied Israel. Thus, when Mr Erdogan faces pressure from pious mentors, it is not to be more radical but rather the opposite.

Another feature of Turkish Islamism is the number of thriving businesses with ties to the Gulen movement. Among the drivers of Turkey’s expansion—the country’s GDP per head is three times that of Egypt, with a similar population—are provincial entrepreneurs. It is now commonplace to stress the AK party’s roots in the new Anatolian bourgeoisie, and its appeal to the consumers of the country’s new-found wealth: people who mix Muslim piety with a taste for expensive cars. These groups set limits to the AK party’s ambitions; like most rich folk they favour stability. In the Arab world there are middle-class Muslims who look with envy at the confidence of their Turkish counterparts.

Ibrahim Kalin, an adviser to Mr Erdogan, posits another difference between AK and political Islam as it emerged in Egypt and Pakistan in the 20th century. Even when pretending not to, the latter movements always dreamed of a powerful Islamic government, using the tools of modern statehood, like universal education, to impose a Muslim order. AK, by contrast, lives comfortably in a world of “lighter” states, where other agencies, including NGOs, the private sector and academia can play a bigger role.

In AK circles it is common to hear such postmodern talk mixed with nostalgia for the Ottoman era, when each faith ran its own system of education and personal law. Ali Bulac, a columnist, argues that citizens with civil disputes should consider Muslim arbitration: he says that could be combined with retaining the secular penal code, a cornerstone of the republic. Muslim democracy alla turca is already an unusual creature, and is still mutating.

This latest infringment upon your civil rights brought to you by your friends at the NYPDCIA

hare

Cia

This is almost exactly the kind of thing the CIA is out-and-out prohibited from doing:

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.

The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.

Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on.

Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.

First it becomes uncontroversial for the CIA to de facto direct domestic spying operations. Soon it’s hardly a hop, skip, or jump from that to saying, “Hey, we might as well just do this ourselves. It’ll be cheaper. Belt-tightening! Austerity!” I’m not always  so fond of slippery-slope arguments, but this one hardly requires one to bust out the tin-foil hat.

What makes this even more disconcerting, however, is the content of the operations the CIA is now second-degree running in NYC, which are patently based upon racial profiling. Take this less-than-wholly-convincing non-sequitur response from an NYPD official, supposedly explaining how that’s just simply not true:

The NYPD assigned undercover officers to monitor neighborhoods, looking for potential trouble. Using census data, police matched undercover officers to ethnic communities and instructed them to blend in, the officials said. They hung out in hookah bars and cafes, quietly observing the community around them.

The unit, which has been undisclosed until now, became known inside the department as the Demographic Unit, former police officials said.

“It’s not a question of profiling. It’s a question of going where the problem could arise,” said Mordecai Dzikansky, a retired NYPD intelligence officer who said he was aware of the Demographic Unit. “And thank God we have the capability. We have the language capability and the ethnic officers. That’s our hidden weapon.”

Cohen said he wanted the squad to “rake the coals, looking for hot spots,” former officials recalled. The undercover officers soon became known inside the department as rakers.

For years, detectives also used informants known as mosque crawlers to monitor weekly sermons and report what was said, several current and former officials directly involved in the informant program said. If FBI agents were to do that, they would be in violation of the Privacy Act, which prohibits the federal government from collecting intelligence on purely First Amendment activities.

Browne, the NYPD spokesman, flatly denied the accounts of mosque crawlers and rakers. He said the NYPD only uses undercover officers and informants to follow leads, not to target ethnic neighborhoods.

Nearly ten years after September 11, our law enforcement agencies are still operating as if it were 9/12/2001, with all the hysteria and short-sightedness that entails.

Americans Pull Saudi Strings, To Dangle Arab League Puppets Before the Syrian Dictator

[Puppets controlling other puppets–a uniquely American psy-op.]

 Nabil al-Arabi

Nabil al-Arabi, Secretary General of the Arab League. Picture: AP Source: AP

THE Arab League has announced a peace initiative to solve the crisis in Syria as more people were killed by government forces and activists called for prayers for the “martyrs”.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi would head to Damascus bearing “an initiative to solve the crisis” in Syria, a statement said yesterday after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

The latest bloodletting claimed two lives in Syria on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

It said a demonstrator was killed and 10 were hurt when security forces attacked a group of people who were leaving the Rifai mosque in the capital.

One person was killed and five were wounded in Kafar Nabel, in the Idlib province of northwest Syria, where “dozens” were arrested in raids yesterday.

On Friday, security forces shot dead at least seven of the protesters rallying in their tens of thousands across Syria.

The unrelenting violence and bloodshed prompted Arab League foreign ministers to meet yesterday. Mr Arabi would take “an initiative” to Damascus, a statement said yesterday.

The ministers also called to end the bloodshed in Syria “before it is too late” and for “respecting the right of the Syrian people to live in security and respecting their legitimate aspirations for political and social reforms.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin was quoted as saying “a very important envoy from Moscow” would visit Damascus today. The Russian text urges Syria to expedite reforms.

Iran has urged Assad’s government to listen to the people’s demands. “The government should answer to the demands of its people, be it Syria, Yemen or other countries,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said.

AFP

How Libya was won, by NATO and special forces

Op-Ed: How Libya was won, by NATO and special forces

NATO Bombs Tripoli

Last week NATO shamelessly weighed-in on the side of the rebels with the help of special forces on the ground. Without it, the rebels would never have won. There is now talk that NATO has broken international law. So what role did they really play?

Sirte. Sunday August 28. Time: Zero Hour“Subka and his unit waited at the rebel frontline, known as Kilometre Sixty, aboard a column of battered, black pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns and a few tanks recently captured from Gaddafi’s forces. “We are with the England team,” he told the Guardian “They advise us.”Special forces from Britain and France are on the ground advising on strategy and tactics for the coming assault and pin pointing targets for NATO airstrikes, in order to clear the path for the rebel advance. Resistance from loyalists has been stiff, but Subka is confident. “We don’t worry about those units – they are Nato’s concern.”However, on Friday NATO was quick to deny the crucial role it was playing. Al Arabiya reported a press conference at which its spokesperson Lungescu insisted that NATO was sticking to its United Nations mandate, limited to protecting civilians from any attacks. “There is no military coordination with the rebels,” she said.When asked for his opinion on the statement Shashank Joshi, a Libyan war expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, pulled no punches. The NATO denials are “absolute rubbish,” he said. “There’s overwhelming evidence that NATO was not only helping the rebels but that it was a decisive and critical partner to the rebels. It was really engaged in a close and intimate level of coordination and support, without which the rebels could not have won this conflict, so I don’t believe a single word NATO is saying,” he added.More and more information is now coming to light on the decisive role played by NATO in the fall of Tripoli. Moreover, while kept secret until now, we are also learning more about how special forces from Britain, France, Qatar and Jordan helped pave the way for the victory. It is now clear that Gaddafi would probably still be in power without them.In an op-ed on Saturday Andrew Rawnsley said “ I asked a member of the National Security Council whether there was any chance that the rebellion could have overthrown Gaddafi without outside assistance. He responded bluntly: “None at all. There’s no chance they could have done it without us.”Just two weeks ago the situation was entirely different. Everything seemed bogged down in a protracted stalemate on all fronts. The assassination of General Younes had cast doubts over the opposition’s ability to remain united enough to overthrow the regime and conversely, Gaddafi appeared to be more durable than anyone had expected. All eyes were fixed on political efforts to find a negotiated settlement, which seemed the only plausible solution to end the conflict.What broke the stalemate in Libya was the West’s decision to make a radical change in its strategy of regime change and the character of its military intervention through NATO. With fears about splits in NATO and even doubts about its very existence if the mission floundered, together with the overhanging fear that the West would again be held responsible for another failed state, envoys bent over backwards in talks with the regime to find a way out of the conflict, even to the point of offering Gaddafi the possibility of staying in Libya, exempt from ICC prosecution.But Gaddafi wouldn’t budge and he evidently had the support of his inner circle, who gave no indication that they were likely to cave in. Caught between a clicking clock and a closed door, the West decided it had no choice but to launch a major military offensive, in the hope that it would force Gaddafi to surrender.NATO swung into action quickly. Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller from the Washington Post reported that NATO and U.S. military and intelligence officials had revealed that, ”an opposition strategy (was) put in place two weeks ago with the advice of British, French and Qatari special forces on the ground”Preparations for a possible attack upon Tripoli had, in fact, been going on much longer. British, French, Qatari and Jordanian special forces had spent months training rebels from the Western Mountains for a future attack on Tripoli. Eventually, they succeeded in organizing the raggedy groups of rebels into a cohesive force, which was prepared to follow an organized battle plan, under a central command.On the key Saturday, August 13, when the rebel forces advanced on coastal and southern towns and rebels in Misrata made a determined push on Zlitan, TIME reported that NATO flew 105 sorties “including 36 strike missions against targets near Tripoli, Brega, Gharyan, Sirte and Zlitan. The targets included military facilities, command and control nodes, and both surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missile sites.”A reporter with the rebels described the scene around Zlitan, “Testimony to the deadly effect of Nato’s bombing was evident along the highway leading out of the city. Concrete buildings used as bunkers by Gaddafi’s forces were flattened, while tanks were ripped apart, their turrets and tracks strewn across the road. Further south, all that remained of an ammunition truck was a blackened carpet of splinters.”When asked if NATO was acting as the rebel’s air force a NATO official acknowledged in a typically oblique way that “the effect of what we were doing was not dissimilar.”Such precision bombing wasn’t possible without the profession expertise of special forces troops on the ground spotting targets and advising on tactics. This was underlined by another report in the Guardian, which explained that “the information from the ground gave British commanders the confidence to order RAF pilots to release laser and GPS-guided bombs and missiles on buildings identified as being used by Gaddafi forces. (even including a Turkish restaurant!)However, the Washington Post revealed that these special forces also involved undercover US intelligence units. “CIA operatives inside the country intercepted communications within the government” providing “a deeper understanding of just how badly Gaddafi’s command structure had crumbled.” The effect was devastating. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that NATO had destroyed Gaddafi’s military communications to such an extent that “he is forced to use the TV to send messages to his troops about where to attack and defend.”Intelligence gathered was, in turn, passed onto the rebels on the ground to facilitate their advance. NATO “provided a lot of imagery on the locations of the Gaddafi forces, so, as the rebels were getting into their positions when they came around the south and up into the west side of Tripoli, (they) had a good sense of where (Gaddafi’s) forces were at.”In this way, NATO obliterated Gaddafi’s defenses often in advance of rebels reaching each town and/or during key moments in the battles. The BBC reported that “Nato’s relentless pounding of armour and artillery east of Zawiya greatly softened up government units, breaking down much of the resistance that would otherwise have slowed the rebel path.”Illustrating how effective the attacks were and how grateful the rebels were, the UK Independent printed an interview with a rebel soldier involved in the attack on Sabratha. “Mr Nato came and fired six missiles at seven o’clock in the morning. Boom, boom, boom and it was all over,” “Oh yes, we are all very grateful to Mr Nato here.” Asked why he thought they would win, another rebel replied “I believe in Allah – and Nato.”However, the preferred policy of the West was still to try to negotiate a political settlement, by surrounding Tripoli and forcing Gaddafi back to the negotiating table on their terms. The Financial Times spelled out Western concerns on August 17, when it warned that “the rebels’ commanders must take care not to jeopardize the stability of the post-Gaddafi state by launching an all-out assault on Tripoli. Even if successful, such an attack would almost certainly result in a bloodbath among rebels, regime supporters and civilians. The seeds of vengeance and anarchy would be sown.”But by now the situation was no longer in NATO’s hands. The rebels had the wind behind their sails and an unstoppable momentum had built up. Intoxicated with their successes, the rebels sights were fixed on one goal only- getting as quickly as possible to the center of Tripoli and hoisting the rebel flag on Martyrs’ Square. Once reports of uprisings in the capital came through, nothing was going to hold them back. neither NATO nor the NTC, nor even their own commanders.Consequently NATO had no choice but to go the whole nine yards and hope for the best. As the rebels approached Tripoli, global intelligence agency STRATFOR described the scene “What is happening now is the movement of the forces into attack positions, logistical support being brought in, preliminary targeted artillery fire and air strikes with special operations teams already in place doing careful targeting, and psychological warfare against the defenders.”Identifying the pivotal role of NATO should not take away from the incredible heroism and tenacity of the rebel fighters. In particular, the final word must go to the courageous people of Tripoli. Had they not risen up, the rebel fighters would probably have been stalled at the gates of the city. As the Guardian stated, “The secret of the uprising’s final days of success lay in a popular revolt in the working-class districts of the capital, which did most of the hard work of throwing off the rule of secret police and military cliques. It succeeded so well that when revolutionary brigades entered the city from the west, many encountered little or no resistance, and they walked right into the center of the capital.”Worrying pockets of resistance from Gaddafi forces remain, which suggest that the West is not quite won. Indeed, the Libyan “Wild West” will take a long time to be tamed. ‘Order first, then law will follow” was a motto of the earlier American frontier settlers. Bringing order to Libya’s “Wild West” is likely to be a difficult and bloody affair and, until such time as the multitude of different militias and tribes agree to lay down their arms, power and law may well continue to rest mainly in the hands of gunslingers.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/310878#ixzz1WKlKA3ah

Bantustans and the unilateral declaration of statehood

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Bantustans and the unilateral declaration of statehood

The PA leadership in Ramallah is leading the Palestinian movement of independence to a dead end with its proposed unilateral call for Palestinian statehood. (Thaer Ganaim/MaanImages)

From a rumor, to a rising murmur, the proposal floated by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ramallah leadership to declare Palestinian statehood unilaterally has suddenly hit center stage. The European Union, the United States and others have rejected it as “premature,” but endorsements are coming from all directions: journalists, academics, nongovernmental organization activists, Israeli right-wing leaders (more on that later). The catalyst appears to be a final expression of disgust and simple exhaustion with the fraudulent “peace process” and the argument goes something like this: if we can’t get a state through negotiations, we will simply declare statehood and let Israel deal with the consequences.

But it’s no exaggeration to propose that this idea, although well-meant by some, raises the clearest danger to the Palestinian national movement in its entire history, threatening to wall Palestinian aspirations into a political cul-de-sac from which it may never emerge. The irony is indeed that, through this maneuver, the PA is seizing — even declaring as a right — precisely the same dead-end formula that the African National Congress (ANC) fought so bitterly for decades because the ANC leadership rightly saw it as disastrous. That formula can be summed up in one word: Bantustan.

It has become increasingly dangerous for the Palestinian national movement that the South African Bantustans remain so dimly understood. If Palestinians know about the Bantustans at all, most imagine them as territorial enclaves in which black South Africans were forced to reside yet lacked political rights and lived miserably. This partial vision is suggested by Mustafa Barghouthi’s recent comments at the Wattan Media Centre in Ramallah, when he cautioned that Israel wanted to confine the Palestinians into “Bantustans” but then argued for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood within the 1967 boundaries — although nominal “states” without genuine sovereignty are precisely what the Bantustans were designed to be.

Apartheid South Africa’s Bantustans were not simply sealed territorial enclaves for black people. They were the ultimate “grand” formula by which the apartheid regime hoped to survive: that is, independent states for black South Africans who — as white apartheid strategists themselves keenly understood and pointed out — would forever resist the permanent denial of equal rights and political voice in South Africa that white supremacy required. As designed by apartheid architects, the ten Bantustans were designed to correspond roughly to some of the historical territories associated with the various black “peoples” so that they could claim the term “Homelands.” This official term indicated their ideological purpose: to manifest as national territories and ultimately independent states for the various black African “peoples” (defined by the regime) and so secure a happy future for white supremacy in the “white” Homeland (the rest of South Africa). So the goal of forcibly transferring millions of black people into these Homelands was glossed over as progressive: 11 states living peacefully side by side (sound familiar?). The idea was first to grant “self-government” to the Homelands as they gained institutional capacity and then reward that process by declaring/granting independent statehood.

The challenge for the apartheid government was then to persuade “self-governing” black elites to accept independent statehood in these territorial fictions and so permanently absolve the white government of any responsibility for black political rights. Toward this end, the apartheid regime hand-picked and seeded “leaders” into the Homelands, where they immediately sprouted into a nice crop of crony elites (the usual political climbers and carpet-baggers) that embedded into lucrative niches of financial privileges and patronage networks that the white government thoughtfully cultivated (this should sound familiar too).

It didn’t matter that the actual territories of the Homelands were fragmented into myriad pieces and lacked the essential resources to avoid becoming impoverished labor cesspools. Indeed, the Homelands’ territorial fragmentation, although crippling, was irrelevant to Grand Apartheid. Once all these “nations” were living securely in independent states, apartheid ideologists argued to the world, tensions would relax, trade and development would flower, blacks would be enfranchised and happy, and white supremacy would thus become permanent and safe.

The thorn in this plan was to get even thoroughly co-opted black Homeland elites to declare independent statehood within “national” territories that transparently lacked any meaningful sovereignty over borders, natural resources, trade, security, foreign policy, water — again, sound familiar? Only four Homeland elites did so, through combinations of bribery, threats and other “incentives.” Otherwise, black South Africans didn’t buy it and the ANC and the world rejected the plot whole cloth. (The only state to recognize the Homelands was fellow-traveler Israel.) But the Homelands did serve one purpose — they distorted and divided black politics, created terrible internal divisions, and cost thousands of lives as the ANC and other factions fought it out. The last fierce battles of the anti-apartheid struggle were in the Homelands, leaving a legacy of bitterness to this day.

Hence the supreme irony for Palestinians today is that the most urgent mission of apartheid South Africa — getting the indigenous people to declare statehood in non-sovereign enclaves — finally collapsed with mass black revolt and took apartheid down with it, yet the Palestinian leadership now is not only walking right into that same trap but actually making a claim on it.

The reasons that the PA-Ramallah leadership and others want to walk into this trap are fuzzy. Maybe it could help the “peace talks” if they are redefined as negotiations between two states instead of preconditions for a state. Declaring statehood could redefine Israel’s occupation as invasion and legitimize resistance as well as trigger different and more effective United Nations intervention. Maybe it will give Palestinians greater political leverage on the world stage — or at least preserve the PA’s existence for another (miserable) year.

Why these fuzzy visions are not swiftly defeated by short attention to the South African Bantustan experience may stem partly from two key differences that confuse the comparison, for Israel has indeed sidestepped two infamous fatal errors that helped sink South Africa’s Homeland strategy. First, Israel did not make South Africa’s initial mistake of appointing “leaders” to run the Palestinian “interim self-governing” Homeland. In South Africa, this founding error made it too obvious that the Homelands were puppet regimes and exposed the illegitimacy of the black “national” territories themselves as contrived racial enclaves. Having watched the South Africans bungle this, and having learned from its own past failures with the Village Leagues and the like, Israel instead worked with the United States to design the Oslo process not only to restore the exiled leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its then Chairman Yasser Arafat to the territories but also to provide for “elections” (under occupation) to grant a thrilling gloss of legitimacy to the Palestinian “interim self-governing authority.” It’s one of the saddest tragedies of the present scenario that Israel so deftly turned Palestinians’ noble commitment to democracy against them in this way — granting them the illusion of genuinely democratic self-government in what everyone now realizes was always secretly intended to be a Homeland.

Only now has Israel found a way to avoid South Africa’s second fatal error, which was to declare black Homelands to be “independent states” in non-sovereign territory. In South Africa, this ploy manifested to the world as transparently racist and was universally disparaged. It must be obvious that, if Israel had stood up in the international stage and said “as you are, you are now a state” that Palestinians and everyone else would have rejected the claim out of hand as a cruel farce. Yet getting the Palestinians to declare statehood themselves allows Israel precisely the outcome that eluded the apartheid South African regime: voluntary native acceptance of “independence” in a non-sovereign territory with no political capacity to alter its territorial boundaries or other essential terms of existence — the political death capsule that apartheid South Africa could not get the ANC to swallow.

Responses from Israel have been mixed. The government does seem jumpy and has broadcast its “alarm,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has threatened unilateral retaliation (unspecified) and government representatives have flown to various capitals securing international rejection. But Israeli protests could also be disingenuous. One tactic could be persuading worried Palestinian patriots that a unilateral declaration of statehood might not be in Israel’s interest in order to allay that very suspicion. Another is appeasing protest from that part of Likud’s purblind right-wing electorate that finds the term “Palestinian state” ideologically anathema. A more honest reaction could be the endorsement of Kadima party elder Shaul Mofaz, a hardliner who can’t remotely be imagined to value a stable and prosperous Palestinian future. Right-wing Israeli journalists are also pitching in with disparaging but also comforting essays arguing that unilateral statehood won’t matter because it won’t change anything (close to the truth). For example, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened unilaterally to annex the West Bank settlement blocs if the PA declares statehood, but Israel was going to do that anyway.

In the liberal-Zionist camp, Yossi Sarid has warmly endorsed the plan and Yossi Alpher has cautiously done so. Their writings suggest the same terminal frustration with the “peace process” but also recognition that this may be the only way to save the increasingly fragile dream that a nice liberal democratic Jewish state can survive as such. It also sounds like something that might please Palestinians — at least enough to finally get their guilt-infusing story of expulsion and statelessness off the liberal-Zionist conscience. Well-meaning white liberals in apartheid South Africa — yes, there were some of those, too — held the same earnest candle burning for the black Homelands system.

Some otherwise smart journalists are also pitching in to endorse unilateral statehood, raising odd ill-drawn comparisons — Georgia, Kosovo, Israel itself — as “evidence” that it’s a good idea. But Georgia, Kosovo and Israel had entirely different profiles in international politics and entirely different histories from Palestine and attempts to draw these comparisons are intellectually lazy. The obvious comparison is elsewhere and the lessons run in the opposite direction: for a politically weak and isolated people, who have never had a separate state and lack any powerful international ally, to declare or accept “independence” in non-contiguous and non-sovereign enclaves encircled and controlled by a hostile nuclear power can only seal their fate.

In fact, the briefest consideration should instantly reveal that a unilateral declaration of statehood will confirm the Palestinians’ presently impossible situation as permanent. As Mofaz predicted, a unilateral declaration will allow “final status” talks to continue. What he did not spell out is that those talks will become truly pointless because Palestinian leverage will be reduced to nothing. As Middle East historian Juan Cole recently pointed out, the last card the Palestinians can play — their real claim on the world’s conscience, the only real threat they can raise to Israel’s status quo of occupation and settlement — is their statelessness. The PA-Ramallah leadership has thrown away all the other cards. It has stifled popular dissent, suppressed armed resistance, handed over authority over vital matters like water to “joint committees” where Israel holds veto power, savagely attacked Hamas which insisted on threatening Israel’s prerogatives, and generally done everything it can to sweeten the occupier’s mood, preserve international patronage (money and protection), and solicit promised benefits (talks?) that never come. It’s increasingly obvious to everyone watching from outside this scenario — and many inside it — that this was always a farce. For one thing, the Western powers do not work like the Arab regimes: when you do everything the West requires of you, you will wait in vain for favors, for the Western power then loses any benefit from dealing more with you and simply walks away.

But more importantly, the South African comparison helps illuminate why the ambitious projects of pacification, “institution building” and economic development that the Ramallah PA and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have whole-heartedly embarked upon are not actually exercises in “state-building.” Rather, they emulate with frightening closeness and consistency South Africa’s policies and stages in building the Bantustan/Homelands. Indeed, Fayyad’s project to achieve political stability through economic development is the same process that was openly formalized in the South African Homeland policy under the slogan “separate development.” That under such vulnerable conditions no government can exercise real power and “separate development” must equate with permanent extreme dependency, vulnerability and dysfunctionality was the South African lesson that has, dangerously, not yet been learned in Palestine — although all the signals are there, as Fayyad himself has occasionally admitted in growing frustration. But declaring independence will not solve the problem of Palestinian weakness; it will only concretize it.

Still, when “separate development” flounders in the West Bank, as it must, Israel will face a Palestinian insurrection. So Israel needs to anchor one last linchpin to secure Jewish statehood before that happens: declare a Palestinian “state” and so reduce the “Palestinian problem” to a bickering border dispute between putative equals. In the back halls of the Knesset, Kadima political architects and Zionist liberals alike must now be waiting with bated breath, when they are not composing the stream of back-channel messages that is doubtless flowing to Ramallah encouraging this step and promising friendship, insider talks and vast benefits. For they all know what’s at stake, what every major media opinion page and academic blog has been saying lately: that the two-state solution is dead and Israel will imminently face an anti-apartheid struggle that will inevitably destroy Jewish statehood. So a unilateral declaration by the PA that creates a two-state solution despite its obvious Bantustan absurdities is now the only way to preserve Jewish statehood, because it’s the only way to derail the anti-apartheid movement that spells Israel’s doom.

This is why it is so dangerous that the South African Bantustan comparison has been neglected until now, treated as a side issue, even an exotic academic fascination, by those battling to relieve starvation in Gaza and soften the cruel system of walls and barricades to get medicine to the dying. The Ramallah PA’s suddenly serious initiative to declare an independent Palestinian state in non-sovereign territory must surely force fresh collective realization that this is a terribly pragmatic question. It’s time to bring closer attention to what “Bantustan” actually means. The Palestinian national movement can only hope someone in its ranks undertakes that project as seriously as Israel has undertaken it before it’s too late.

Virginia Tilley is a former professor of political science and international relations and since 2006 has served as Chief Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. She is author of The One-State Solution (U of Michigan Press, 2005) and numerous articles and essays on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Based in Cape Town, she writes here in her personal capacity and can be reached at vtilley A T mweb D O T co D O T za.