Tag: <span>Turkey</span>

Syria Appeals

Syria: The Start of a Long Night of Sorrow.

Featured Image: Photo by Ahmed akacha: https://www.pexels.com/es-es/foto/gente-demostracion-rally-protesta-7183546/

By Rene Wadlow.

On 13 March 2011 in Derra, in the south of Syria, 15 teenage boys were arrested by Syrian security police for having written hostile graffiti against President Bashar Al-Assad on a school wall. The arrests led to non-violent protests in Derra and by 15 March the protests had spread to other Syrian cities.

Bashar_al-Assad

Picture of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad with the Syrian flag next to him. By Kremlin.ru, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Arab Spring.

There were social, economic and ecological conditions in the country  which set the stage for such protests. Corruption, unemployment, high population growth, limited resources and a hugh budget for oversized security and military forces; were main obstacles for economic reforms. There was also the spirit of the “Arab Spring”; which had started earlier with the January 2011 end of the government of Ben Ali in Tunisia.

Unlike earlier protest movements in Syria; which were based on religious or ethnic; especially Kurdish identity, the early 2011 movement stressed the unity of all the people and their demand to have recognized their dignity. Women participated actively. Social media via the INTERNET was widely used.

Ben Ali

Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, President of Tunisia. By Presidencia de la Nación Argentina, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Police and Military Violence.

Fairly quickly the protesters stated to structure themselves in cities and larger towns. Protesters started to form local councils and to take up local administrative tasks. In 2011; Syria was a police state but under administrated concerning services of education, health and other public services. Rural areas were even less administrated. There was a strong rural to urban migration, especially to larger towns. Social service needs were not met.

The government responded to these demonstrations with police and military violence. By mid-April; a peaceful demonstration in Homs was repressed with a good number of demonstrators killed or wounded. Arrests, often followed by torture, became widespread.

Silence Any Opposition.

There were 12 different branches of the security forces and prisons were overcrowded. While there were local leaders of protests, there were no nation-wide leaders. With no identifiable leaders to arrest, the security forces arrested anyone who looked like a potential troublemaker. Due to the regime’s determination to silence any opposition, Syria’s political culture regressed into fear with an end to independent periodicals and intellectual forums.

By the end of 2011, the government increasingly called upon the regular military to replace the specialized security forces which were too few to deal with the spreading protests. Protesters started to carry weapons. Some of the regular military  who were of the same background as the protesters started to desert and to take their weapons with them.

A Non-Violent Civil Protest to a Violent Civil War.

Thus; the Syrian conflict was transformed from a non-violent civil protest to a violent civil war, leading to a large number of persons displaced within the country and a large number of refugees, especially to neighboring countries – Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon but also to Western Europe.

However, as the conflict grew several regional and international actors involved themselves: Russia and the USA, Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel, Lebanon with Hezbollah as well as the Jihadist Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

However, efforts at mediation have been carried out nearly from the start by the Arab League, U.N.-appointed mediators, and broader U.N.-sponsored meetings in Geneva. While the mediators have made detailed proposals none have been acted upon.

Therefore; there have also been a few non-governmental efforts at mediation or at least efforts to keep avenues of communication open or to widen the persons involved, especially by increasing the role of women. On behalf of the Association of World Citizens, I have been involved in some of these non-governmental efforts but I have seen few advances. The long night of sorrow continues but we must watch closely for a possible dawn.

Arab League

Euler Diagram for the Arab League, and also any regional organizations with members all belonging the Arab League. By OIC-Diagram.svg:Nuvola_Bahraini_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Iraqi_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Jordan_flag.svg: *Nuvola_Palestinian_flag.svg: User:OrzettoNuvola_Kuwaiti_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Lebanese_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Oman_flag.svg: *Flag_of_Oman.svg: Open Clip Art websiteNuvola_Palestinian_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Qatari_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Saudi_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Sudanese_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Syria_flag.svg: ZarikNuvola_Tunisian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_UAE_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Yemeni_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Algerian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Djiboutian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Egyptian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Libya_flag.svg: OrzettoNuvola_Mauritanian_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Moroccan_flag.svg: AntigoniNuvola_Somalian_flag.svg: Antigoniderivative work: Aris Katsarisderivative work: Aris Katsaris, LGPL <http://www.gnu.org/licenses/lgpl.html>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Oceans Appeals

Steps Toward The Protection of The Oceans.

Featured Image: Photo by Dave Hoefler,  Unsplash.

On 4 March 2023, at the United Nations in New York an important step toward the protection of the oceans was taken with the presentation of a new Treaty on the High Seas for the protection of the biodiversity of the oceans beyond the national territorial limits. These negotiations began in 2004. Their length is an indication of some of the difficulties of the issues

The Evolution of the Law of the Sea: From the 1970s Negotiations to Current Political Tensions.

The new treaty builds upon the 1970s U.N. effort on the Law of the Sea presented for ratification in 1982. The decade-long 1970s negotiations, in which non-governmental organizations such as the Association of World Citizens played an active role, dealt primarily with the extension of national jurisdiction to include an “exculsive economic zone” under the control of the state holding the 12 nautical mile jurisdiction. The state in question could make financial arrangements with other states on fishing or other activities within the exclusive economic zone.

The 1970s Law of the Sea negotiations also led to the creation of a dispute settlement procedure as there were overlapping exclusive economic zones as well as issues of the creation of exclusive economic zones around national islands. These issues have taken on strong political dimensions concerning Chinese claims in the South China Sea around uninhabited islands as well as tensions between Greece and Turkey.

Oceans

Picture: Photo by Alice Mourou on Unsplash.

Our Common Oceans and Seas.

The High Oceans Treaty: Addressing New Challenges for Ocean Conservation and Sustainable Use.

The new High Oceans Treaty concerns the bulk of the oceans beyond the national jurisdiction and the exclusive economic zone. The new treaty is a reflection of the newer concerns around the consequences of global warming, the protection of biodiversity, efforts against land-based polution, and the consequences of overfishing.

Non-governmental organizations again played an important role in the creation of the new treaty, even if there are still issues, such as mining on the ocean bed, left out of this treaty. It is encouraging that there was cooperation among major governments on the Treaty, the U.S.A., China, and the European Union. There is still work ahead, and governmental efforts must be watched closely. However, 2023 is off to a good start for the protection and wise use of the oceans.

Oceans

Image: The USS John S. McCain conducts a routine patrol in the South China Sea, Jan. 22, 2017. The guided-missile destroyer is supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. Navy photo by Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez. By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class James Vazquez, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Saber Rattling in the South China Sea.

René Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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nuclear weapon Appeals

Steps Toward Security in the Middle East.

Featured Image: Photo by Ilja Nedilko on Unsplash.

“The struggle against the nuclear weapon cult and threats it poses to international peace, security and development, like all struggles against belief systems which have outlived their times, is going to be long and arduous”   

K. Subrahmanyal. Nuclear Proliferation and Internationsal Securtiy.

 
    The U.N. Conference on the Establishlent of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and other Weapons of Mass Destruction took place at the U.N. in New York, 29 November to 3 December 2021.
The Conference is open-ended – that is open to those States that wish to attend – with a mandate provided by General Assembly Resolution A/73/546 to continue meeting annually:
 

“until the confernce concludes the elaboration of a legally binding treaty establishing a Middle East Zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.”

The first session was held 18-22 November 2019.

K. Subrahmanyam
 K. Subrahmanyam (2010). By MarcEduard, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
The process will not be easy in an area where armed conflicts exist and are undermining stablity. There are very real concerns concerning nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Regional conflicts could unleash a nuclear war through escalation of a conventional war, miscalculation or delibeate pre-emptive attack. This is the second time that the conference is held.  The 22 countries of the Arab League and Iran participated as did the U.K. and Russia.  Israel and the U.S.A. did not.  While the difficulties are real, the Conference provides opportunities for governments of the region to share perspectives, consider proposals and look at the institutional requirements to establish such a zone.
 
    While non-governmental organization representatives cannot participate as such in the Conference, a nuclear-weapon free zone is of vital interest to those organizations working on arms control, disarmament, and regional conflict resolution.
 
The Arab League
Emblem of the League of Arab States (2008). By Jeff Dahl, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.
   
The idea of a Middle East nuclear-free zone was first put forth by a non-governmental organization, the Israeli Committee of the Denuclearization of the Middle East in April 1962.  Non-governmental organizations, often working closely with the United Nations disarmament secretariat, have played a role in the creation of regional nuclear-weapon free zones starting with the Treaty of the Tlatelolco for Latin America, after the dangers highlighted by the Cuban Missile Crisis.
 
As the “father” of the 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco the Mexican Ambassador Alfonso Garcia Robles explained the concept of nuclear-weapon free zones as a step toward global disarmament:
 

“We should attempt to achieve a gradual broadening of the zones of the world from which  nuclear weapons are prohibited to a point where the territories of Powers which possess these terrible tools of mass destruction will become something like contaminated islets subjected to quarantine.”

Alfonso Garcia Robles
Alfonso Garcia Robles (1981). By Marcel Antonisse, CC BY-SA 3.0 NL <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/nl/deed.en>, via Wikimedia Commons.
 
    Non-governmental organizations have proposed that the following States be included in the Middle East process: Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, the Palistinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen.  In looking at the list of potential members, we see that a nuclear-weapon free zone is not the only issue on the political agenda.  We also see that the possibilities of action for non-governmental organizations to work on security issues is not the same in each country.  There is deep mistrust and rivalries among many of these States.
 
    Thus, it is probably necessary for non-governmental organizations outside of the area to organize what are called Track II initiatives – a non-official way to discuss regional security issues and to provide policy advice to governments.  A first step is to identify opportunities,  areas of mutual interest, and then to make recommendations where progress can be made and where governmental diplomatic efforts could be made.  Civil society organizations can also reach out to youth in the Middle East who are interested in creating positive changes with in the region.
 
    A first opportunity to present proposals to government representatives will be the Review Conference on the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT Review) to be held at the U.N. in New York during this January 2022. Nuclear-weapon free zones as well as the needed confidence-building measures have provided an important focus of earlier NPT Reviews. 
 
The Association of World Citizens has stressed the importance of Nuclear-weapon Free Zones at earlier NPT Reviews and will do so again for the January 2022 Review.
 
 
  Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Ceasefire in Libya Appeals

Ceasefire in Libya: A Gift for U.N. Day?

Photo by  David Peterson in Pixabay.

(Geneva).   On Friday 23 October 2020;  Stephanie Williams;  the U.N. acting Special Envoy for Libya said that the  representatives of the parties in Geneva had agreed to a ceasefire starting 24 October;  U.N. Day.  All military units and armed groups on the front lines  are to return to their camps.   All mercenaries and foreign fighters in Libya;  are to depart  within a maximum period of three months;  from 24 October.

Both the Russians and the Turks have sent mercenaries to back their interests.  The Russians have used the “private” security firm Wagner;  first founded to back Russian interests in Ukraine.  The Turks have sent Syrian militias friendly to Turkey;  with promises of money and Turkish citizenship.

Since the outbreak of armed conflict on the outskirts of Tripoli on 3 April 2019;  many persons have been killed and wounded. Migrants and refugees;  being held in detention centers have suffered.  The humanitarian situation has degraded dramatically.  In the recent past; all the armed factions have violated the laws of war;  and have a sad record of abuses against civilians.

A Lightning War.

General Khalifa Hifter hoped his attack would be a blitzkrieg ( a lightning war). He badly underestimated;  he degree of military response that he would meet from the militias loyal to the Government of National Accord;  led by Prime Minister Fayez al-Sariaj.

Libyan society faces large and complex issues  in order to create a stable administrative structure of government;  that takes into consideration the geographic and ethnic diversity of the country. There are three distinct regions;  which must have some degree of autonomy: Tripolitania and Cyrenaica;  both bordering the Mediterranean and Fezzan in the southern Sahara.  Within each of the three regions;  there are differing and often rival tribal societies which are;  in practice;  more kinship lines than organized tribes. (1)

There are differing economic interests and different ideologies ranging from “Arab Socialism” to the Islamist ideology of the Islamic State (ISIS);  which has spread from its Syrian-Iraqi base.  The Association of World Citizens has proposed the possibility of con-federal constitutional structures. However;  the first priority in the U.N.-led negotiations was to reach a ceasefire. We must hope that it will hold and that discussions on constitutional structures will follow.

Note

1) See J. Davis Libyan Politics Tribes and Revolution (London: L.R. Turis, 1987)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Libya Appeals

New Start for Stability in Libya.

Photo by  jorono in Pixabay 

By Rene Wadlow.

The 74 members of the Libya Political Dialogue Forum meeting in Geneva, Switzerland;  with the mediation of the United Nations;  on 5 February 2021; announced the creation of a new executive authority for all of Libya.

This interim unity government would lead the administration until national elections; which are to be held on 24 December 2021. This interim executive authority has the mandate to fulfill the 23 October 2020 Cease-fire Agreement; which calls for a permanent ceasefire and the withdrawal of all foreign fighters.
This new interim executive authority by its membership; tries to build a balance among the three geographic divisions of the country. It also tries to build on new faces; which have been relatively not directly involved in the troubled situation since the 2011; end of the government of M. Qaddafi.

The new interim executive will have a three-person Presidency led by Mohammad Younes Memfi. He was born in 1958. He is an engineer and businessman from Misratia. Mohammad Younes Memfi  was educated in Canada and has not been directly involved in politics before. The other two members of the Presidency are Abdullah Hussein Al-Lafi; more involved in politics but not in the first ranks; and Mossa Al-Koni; an ethnic Tuareg from the south near the frontier with Mali. Abdul Hamid Mohammed Dbeibah will serve as Prime Minister under this new Presidency.

 

Colonel Moammar Qaddafi.

There is still a long road ahead to create meaningful reconciliation among the divisions; based on geography, tribal networks and religious brotherhoods. At Independence in 1951; authority rested with King Sayyid Idris (1890-1983); the leader of an important Islamic brotherhood; who remained more concerned with religious reforms than with the structure of the government. (1)

When the military officers; led by Colonel Moammar Qaddafi took power in a coup in September 1969; there was for a short time some discussion as to the forms that the government should take. Colonel Qaddafu wanted to do away with parliamentary government and representative elections; in favor or people’s committees; a people’s congress and revolutionary committees – all held together by the ideological assumptions of his Third Universal Theory – a concept that embodied anti-imperialism, Arab unity, Islamic socialism and direct popular democarcy. (2)

 

Imagen de WikiImages en Pixabay

Disagreements on the nature of the State; had led to important divisions among the ruling circle; especially in 1975.

However; all open discussions on the nature of the State; of the relations between State and society;  of the place of tribes and of religious brotherhoods were considered subversive; in fact treason. In practice; but not in theory; decision-making was in the hands of Colonel Qaddafi, his family, friends and tribal allies. (3)

Three Unstable Zones.

Since the end of the Qaddafi government; the country has been largely divided into three unstable zones: the West with Tripoli as the main city; with a “Government of National Accord” led by Faiez Sarraj; an East around Benghazi; with the “National Libyian Army” under General Khaifa Haftar; and the south divided among many political, tribal factions.

 

However; both the West and the East contain different armed tribal groups; Islamic militias and armed groups linked to the exploitation of migrants, traffick in arms and drugs. As the disorder dragged on; more and more outside States; became involved to different degrees and in different ways: Russia, Turkey, Egypt, France, the USA and to some extent the African Union.

To what extent the new interim authority will be able to create public services; limit outside influences and create appropriate forms of government will have to be seen. Libya merits close attention.

Notes.

1) For a useful analysis of Libyan governmental structures see J. Davis. Libyan Politics, Tribes and Revolution (London: I.B. Tauris, 1987)
2) See M.M. Ayoub. Islam and the Third Universal Theory: the religious thought of Muamar al Qudhakdhafi (London: Kegan Pail, 1987)
3) See Rene Lemarchand (Ed) The Green and the Black. Qadahafi’s Politics in Africa (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988)

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

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Nagorno-Karabakh Appeals

Nagorno-Karabakh: Continuing Repercussions in Armenia.

This map describes the current situation in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region. The region is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but mostly governed by the de facto independent state, Republic of Artsakh. Image is a modified version of MarshallBagramyan’s map. File:Artsakh Occupation Map.png, Author:Elnur Hajiyev.

The November 2020; ceasefire agreement signed among the leaders of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia has provided some stability for the Nagorno-Karabakh area.  The 2000; Russian military dispatched quickly to the area has brought an end to the fighting.  The agreement stated that the Russian forces would stay for five years; but that their posting could be extended depending on the political situation.

When the fighting began on 27 September 2020; The Association of World Citizens;  which has been concerned with Nagorno-Karabakh; since the 1992 armed conflict; sent an urgent Appeal to the authorities of Azerbaijan and Armenia urging a ceasefire and the start of negotiations in good faith.  A follow up message was sent to the Ambassadors to the United Nations of the leadership of the Minsk Group of the OSCE (Russia, France, U.S.A.).

Azerbaijan-Turkish Aggression.

In Azerbaijan; the fighting which led to the ceasefire is widely considered as a “victory”; and has increased the popularity of the Azerbaijan President Iham Aliev.  However in Armenia; the fighting which led to a loss of seven districts around Nagorno-Karabakh; as well as one third of the Karabakh territory is considered as a “defeat”.

The Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pachinian; is under heavy negative pressure with calls that he resign.  In Armenia; many refer to the fighting as the “Azerbaijan-Turkish Aggression” – an image recalling the Armenian genocide within the Ottoman Empire in 1915-1916.  Turkey had provided weapons and drones to Azerbaijan; which had an influence on the fighting.

 

No Longer Able to Make Reasonable Decisions.

On 25 February; the leaders of the Armenian armed forces demanded that the Prime Minister, Nikol Pachinian; and his whole cabinet resign.  The army had said a few days earlier; that the Prime Minister was “no longer able to make reasonable decisions”; after he had fired some of the top military commanders.

On 25 February; the Prime Minister warned of an attempted military coup; and called on his supporters to gather on Republic Square at the heart of Yerevan.  A good number of people have gathered on 26 February; and some plan to camp there as a form of protection on the model of such “Occupy” efforts in Turkey, Ukraine, Egypt and Wall Street. One must hope that cooler heads will arise to bring about a decrease in the tensions; but it is still too early to say.

A situation which merits close attention.

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.