Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Europe. Show all posts

October 31, 2012

Who is the Syrian Opposition?

    Wednesday, October 31, 2012   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Since the start of the uprising in Syria, countries supporting the opposition groups wanted to unify them. They organized a series of the so-called “Friends of Syria” conferences one after another only to adjourn without realizing their objective. In most cases, the meetings created more discord than opportunities for unity.

The unrealized Eid Ceasefire (hudna; quiet) proposed by the new UN envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, exposed the level of disunion among the armed groups as well. Although the government, the Syrian National Council (SNC), and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) all agreed to the four-day quiet, violence during the religious holiday continued unabated and it may have gotten worse. The FSA attacks on Kurdish neighborhoods in Aleppo during the same period, for example, added another dimension to the conflict and offered a preview of what may happen in the future.

The failure to honor the ceasefire and the attacks on Kurdish neighborhoods add credibility to Brahimi’s pessimistic assessment of the crisis in Syria. He has been reminding leaders of every country he’s visited of the gravity of the situation and warning them that it will get worse unless the world community act in a constructive way. That is not lowering expectations; it is statement of facts. While defections of high ranking officers stopped, signaling the purging of the Syrian military from unreliable elements, the opposition forces are outgrowing there leadership frame. Instead of coalescing into a single block with a single agenda, the political and military oppositions continued to splinter into disparate organizations each of which claims that it represents the Syrian people.

April 5, 2012

The crisis in Syria is driving a wedge between Turkey and Iran

    Thursday, April 05, 2012   No comments
Despite Turkish politicians’ efforts to downplay the diplomatic rift with Iran, more evidence has emerged suggesting otherwise. The main reason is Turkey’s increased role in supporting the groups that want to topple the regime in Syria. Iran considers that to be a red line and they seem to have communicated that to the Turkish prime minister who visited Tehran last week.

Signs of the cooling off of the Turkish-Iranian relations can also be seen in the lukewarm reception Recep Tayyip Erdogan received. Unlike  previous visits, he was greeted at the airport by the Iranian VP instead of the president. His meeting with the leader of the revolution, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was not conformed until the last minute. When the two finally met, according to Persian media, Khamenei had only one thing to tell the prime minister: Iran will not support the overthrow of Assad.

Nine days before the nuclear talk with the P5+1 (Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States, and Germany), top Iranian officials announced that they are interested in changing the venue of the meeting from Istanbul to Iraq or China. Some of the Iranian officials were explicit about the reason behind the change in venue.

On Wednesday, influential lawmaker Seyed Mohammad Javad Abtahi called on Ahmadinejad's government to choose another place, other than Istanbul, for the upcoming talks with the world power. Abtahi went on to argue that the “Friends of Syria” conference held in Istanbul last week is evidence that Turkey is implementing the West’s policies in the region.

Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezayee, too, called on Tehran's nuclear and foreign policy officials to change the venue of the upcoming talks.

Reacting to these developments, Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief and coordinator of negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group told the Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoğlu, during a phone conversation late April 3, that Baghdad was out of question.

Even if the meeting eventually takes place in Turkey, the diplomatic rift between the two countries would have happened and Syria was the cause of it. Iran, as expected, supported Assad because he was its only reliable Arab ally. Turkey on the other hand, seems to struggle in its reactions to the Arab Spring. Although it took a muted stand toward the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Turkey first opposed NATO’s involvement in Libya and wanted a political solution, not a military one, to the crisis there. When Qaddafi’s regime fell however, Turkey tried to repair its image by supporting the rebels. Apparently, they did not want to make the same mistake in Syria. As soon as demonstrations started, Turkish leaders gave Assad one ultimatum after another leading to the full break of diplomatic relations. Perhaps they thought that the regime will fall fast, too. That did not happen so far and they have many reasons to worry should Assad’s regime survive.

It seems that Turkey picked the wrong time and the wrong side to make a stand against authoritarianism in the Middle East. By supporting armed rebels against the Syrian regime, The Turkish leaders found themselves in the company of only Saudi Arabia and Qatar--even the U.S. is opposed to arming the opposition. These two countries claim that they are interested in democracy in Syria while denying it to their own peoples. In the case of Saudi Arabia, the contradiction cannot be more pronounced: the Saudi rulers mistreat women and minorities. They even sent the military to suppress a peaceful uprising in Bahrain. In Qatar,  14% of the population deny political and civil rights to the 86%. It is the right decision to support genuine political reform in Syria, but Saudi and Qatari rulers are not the company Turkey wants to keep if they want credibility in the Arab street. 


December 14, 2011

Libyan and European rulers’ treatment of Blacks and immigrant workers: Apathy in the face of Cruelty

    Wednesday, December 14, 2011   No comments
by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

Since the start of the Libyan uprising, mainstream news outlets have reported that African and even Eastern European mercenaries were fighting with Qaddafi’s forces. The Libyan rebels, eager to minimize any support for Qaddafi among the Libyan population, have fed western media horror stories of mass murder carried out by Black Africans. Consequently, many immigrant workers were caught between the ire of a regime that did not care much for them and a new wave of prejudice and discrimination fueled by the media and rebel propaganda. The fact that some foreigners fought for the regime does not tell the full story. Most African immigrants were unwilling participants in a war that no one had anticipated.

In order to understand the presence of so many Africans and non-Africans in Libya, one must understand the role played by the former dictator.

August 3, 2011

The Foundation of Supremacy: Racializing Human Acts

    Wednesday, August 03, 2011   No comments

by Ahmed E. Souaiaia*

I vividly remember the day of the Oklahoma bombing. Not because of the news reports—I was too busy working and with school to watch the news. Consequently, I was not aware of what had happened that day until late in the afternoon. But as I walked into my workplace after a long day of school, I felt the stares and tension from almost all my co-workers. Many ignored me when I greeted them. While waiting for my shift to start, I entered the break room where a friend sat reading the newspaper. It took him a moment before awkwardly asking me what I thought of the “terror attack on the Murrah Building in Oklahoma.” I thought, “Terror? Murrah? Oklahoma?

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