Archive for the ‘Regions’ Category

13
Feb

Kurdos

Written on February 13, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Master in International Relations (MIR), Middle East, Op Ed

Los kurdos son una población de unos 20 millones de habitantes que antes de la I Guerra Mundial se extendían por la geografía de Irán y el Imperio Otomano pero que, desde las particiones del Tratado de Versalles, quedaron también bajo la soberanía de Siria e Irak. Es entonces cuando los problemas de los kurdos se hacen de verdad existenciales. Esas nuevas entidades políticas, Turquía, Irak y Siria, e incluso Irán, se basan en el constructo del Estado nación y el desafío de encajar a los kurdos en ese modelo de convivencia está todavía abierto. Y es que como ya nos previno el magisterio de Hossbawn, el Estado nación no es la única ni la más universal manera de acomodar poblaciones y poder.

Es en Turquía donde el enfrentamiento ha resultado más sangriento y duradero. Si bien el Tratado de Sèvres (1920) recogía la obligatoriedad de un referéndum para la autodeterminación del pueblo kurdo, el golpe de estado de Kemal Ataturk y sus victorias en la Guerra de Independencia dieron nacimiento a un nuevo Tratado, el de Lausanne, donde desapareció esa exigencia. Los kurdos se definieron como “turcos que han olvidado su idioma en las montañas” y hablar en kurdo empezó a castigarse como traición. Sucede, sin embargo, que cuando un país subdesarrollado y sin historia nacional intenta imponer al 20% de su población, igualmente subdesarrollada pero con aguda conciencia étnica, las exigencias de un Estado nación, no puede conseguirlo a la francesa, con unas pocas guillotinas. Ha de emplear a sus Fuerzas Armadas en guerra abierta. Así fue y ya en 1925 se produce el levantamiento de Sheik Said, ahogado en sangre. Ya fuese “reaccionario” como lo quiere la narrativa turca o “nacional” como lo describe la kurda, lo cierto es que su derrota resultó uno de los pilares del kemalismo, junto con la purga que siguió al intento de asesinato del propio Kemal Ataturk en 1926. Así pudieron promulgarse los tres pilares de la revolución kemalista. La Ley del Vestido (1925) la Ley del Alfabeto Latino (1928) y el Código Civil (1928).

Cuando un país subdesarrollado y sin historia nacional intenta imponer al 20% de su población, igualmente subdesarrollada pero con aguda conciencia étnica, las exigencias de un Estado nación, no puede conseguirlo a la francesa, con unas pocas guillotinas. Ha de emplear a sus Fuerzas Armadas en guerra abiertaLa rebelión de Sheik Said no fue el final de la insurgencia, sino más bien lo contrario. Consta que de 1924 a 1938 hubo 17 enfrentamientos entre el Ejército turco y los kurdos.

La cuestión kurda toma un giro nuevo en 1945, esta vez en Irán. Como el shah Rheza (1925-1941) parecía demasiado cercano al Eje, Inglaterra y EEUU ocuparon el país; Inglaterra y los EEUU el Sur, la URSS el Norte. Al abandonar la URSS Irán, dejó un recuerdo en forma de República Independiente de Mehabad, primera entidad política kurda y única soberana hasta hoy. Duró once meses. Su Jefe Militar fue el iraquí Mustafa Barzani.

En 1958 la caída de la monarquía en Irak abre el capítulo kurdo de la República, con antecedentes de rebelión tribal antes y después de la II Guerra Mundial, ocasiones que le permitieron a Inglaterra ensayar el arma química en poblaciones civiles. Leer mas…

Por el Embajador Jose A. Zorrilla, publicado el 8.02 en el http://www.elconfidencial.com

12
Feb

india-japan-game-changer-china.siThree major concrete deliverables emerged during Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state visit to India, and in all three China is revealed to be a Shakespearean Banquo’s Ghost in the India-Japan discourse.

First and foremost, the India-Japan Global and Strategic Partnership, which hitherto was largely confined to Japanese assistance in infrastructure projects in India, is now set for a push in the political aspects of the bilateral relationship with security and strategic overtones. This is clear by the decision of the two prime ministers – Abe and his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh – to have an institutionalized mechanism of regular consultations between the two sides’ national security advisors. Unlike India, Japan does not have a post of National Security Advisor; therefore, the Secretary-General of National Security Secretariat of Japan (the equivalent of India’s NSA) will be the point person for holding talks with the Indian NSA.

Two, India has taken an unambiguous position for the first time on the recent Chinese policy of declaring an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which has been stiffly opposed and defied by powers including Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. A joint statement released at the end of delegation-level talks between Singh and Abe in New Delhi on January 25, clearly stated: “The two Prime Ministers underscored the importance of freedom of overflight and civil aviation safety in accordance with the recognized principles of international law and the relevant standards and recommended practices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).”

This is a bold foreign policy move by the Indians, especially when China had clarified shortly after its introduction of the ADIZ dispensation that India was out of its ambit. It shows that New Delhi has finally mustered enough gall and courage to side with Japan at the expense of China on the ADIZ controversy. In a sense, this is India’s way of squaring up with the Chinese for the discriminatory Chinese policy of issuing stapled visas for Indians domiciled in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh. By the stapled visas policy, the Chinese had taken sides with Pakistan at the expense of India.

Three, India and Japan decided to put a deeper emphasis on military-to-military exchanges and joint exercises and prepared an ambitious roadmap in this regard. Singh and Abe underscored the importance of such exercises and decided to hold these with increased frequency. Indian Navy (IN) and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) held the second bilateral exercise in December 2013 off the coast of Chennai and will now have its next edition in the Pacific Ocean in 2014. The focus on the Indo-Pacific is unmistakable. Abe has been a vocal supporter of India’s increased presence in the Pacific – another red rag for China. Read more…

Published in http://rt.com on Jan. 29, 2014

11
Feb

Theme: Egypt has undergone a frantic succession of political and social changes since January 2011. Today it is possible to envisage three different ‘futures’ for Egypt, described here as the good, the bad and the ugly.

Summary: Egypt is in a central position in the Arab world. Whatever happens there will have a substantial impact on the future of its wider neighbourhood. Three interconnected factors will determine its transition: the economy, security and its capacity for political and social integration. The main actors need to reach a consensus on basic issues that are essential to stabilising the country, salvaging the economy and pushing the democratic process forwards. The first half of 2014 will provide some clue as to which of the three ‘futures’ outlined here will be most likely.

Analysis: Three years after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is in a state of profound uncertainty. The euphoria of world-wide resonance that emerged from Tahrir Square in January and February 2011 has given way to other moods, ranging from impatience and disenchantment to stupefaction and disappointment. In Egypt there are not too many people who look back at what has happened over the past 36 months with optimism. Even less optimistic are many of the foreign observers who have followed the events of the Egyptian transition and its continual upheavals, surprising twists and turns and too many serious collective mistakes.

Since 25 January 2011, Egypt has undergone a frantic succession of political and social changes, including: (1) the loss of fear that led the population to demand the overthrow of a President in 2011 and again in 2013; (2) the first democratic election of a head of state in the country’s history (June 2012); (3) the coming to power through the ballot box of an Islamist, Mohamed Morsi; (4) a military coup with considerable social support that deposed Morsi after just a year in office; (5) the drafting of two constitutions in only two years, neither of which was based on a consensus; (6) a bloody repression, including modern history’s biggest one-day massacre between Egyptians; (7) unprecedented levels of social polarisation; and (8) a rapid return to the old police-state methods that kept Mubarak in power for three decades.

Egypt’s turbulent transition has so far been marked by: (1) repeated changes in the rules of the game, in a mixture of improvisation and political interference of the courts, sometimes with a questionable legal basis; (2) the inability to reach a consensus on basic issues that would be essential to stabilising the country, salvaging the economy and pushing the democratic process forwards; and (3) a ‘zero-sum’ attitude among the main players (the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and the state bureaucracy), according to which any improvement in the positions of one can only be achieved at the expense of the others.

To these difficulties, which are present in other transitions after decades of authoritarian rule, should be added other factors, such as the inability so far to create stable alliances with clear objectives that are shared by large segments of society, the emphasis on battles over identity (the role of sharia law, etc.) to the detriment of the discussions on the institutions and mechanisms that ensure good governance and, finally, the repetition of mistakes made by others in the recent past. One of these mistakes has been the drafting of constitutions that are far from providing a framework for coexistence that is both inclusive and widely accepted.

Egypt has devoted much energy and precious time in 2013 to internecine struggles for control over the ‘legitimacy’ necessary to impose conditions on opponents. Despite their sectarian and incompetent management, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood considered that their electoral victory, albeit with 51.7% of the vote, gave them the right to legislate at will, to be above the law and to impose a tailored constitution. The problem that Egypt now faces is that those who have taken over the country after Morsi’s overthrow also claim to possess the ‘legitimacy of the masses’ to approve laws that restrict rights, to draft a non-inclusive constitution and to impose a narrative of ‘fighting against terrorism’, which is blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood as a whole. This has been done even at the risk of such a generic accusation becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy in the case of some of the Brotherhood’s members.

Egypt is in a central position in the Arab world. Whatever happens there will have a substantial impact on the future of its neighbours. Similarly, the implications of its sociopolitical developments will be felt throughout the entire Euro-Mediterranean area. Today, it is possible to envisage three different ‘futures’ for Egypt, described here as the good, the bad and the ugly. Read more…

Haizam Amirah-Fernández
Senior Analyst for the Mediterranean and Arab World at the Elcano Royal Institute and Professor of International Relations at IE Business School.


[1] This article was originally published in Spanish as ‘Los futuros de Egipto: el bueno, el malo y el feo’ in Política Exterior, nr 157, January-February 2014, pp. 140-9.

 

10
Feb

Karzai’s Not-So-Crazy End Game

Written on February 10, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Asia, Foreign Policy, Op Ed

Hassan Rouhani, Hamid KarzaiBy Fareed Zakaria

Is Hamid Karzai crazy? on the face of it, the Afghan President has said lots of odd, inflammatory and contradictory things. Over the past year, he has criticized the U.S., wondered whether its presence in Afghanistan has done any good at all, refused to sign an Afghanistan-U.S. security pact and called members of the Taliban his brothers. This week the New York Times revealed that he has been conducting secret negotiations with the Taliban. What can he be thinking?

Maybe Karzai is looking at what happened to one of his predecessors. In 1989 the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan. The President it had backed, Mohammad Najibullah, stayed in power, but within months a civil war broke out, forcing him to seek refuge in a U.N. compound. In 1996 the Taliban rode into Kabul, captured Najibullah, denounced him as a foreign puppet, castrated him, dragged his body through the streets and then hung him from a traffic barricade. For good measure, they did the same to his brother.

That year was a gruesome replay of an earlier piece of Afghan history that Karzai also knows well. During their 19th century invasion of Afghanistan, the British put in place a local puppet, Shah Shuja, who was assassinated after their withdrawal. In fact, as the historian William Dalrymple has pointed out, Karzai comes from the same tribe as Shah Shuja–and the Taliban come from the tribe that brought down Shah Shuja in 1842.

Read more: Karzai’s Not-So-Crazy End Game – TIME http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2164821,00.html#ixzz2sdOKjjBH

Published in Time Magazine on Monday 3 February, 2014 http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article

7
Feb

The Geopolitics of Sochi

Written on February 7, 2014 by Waya Quiviger in Europe, International Conflict, Terrorism & Security, Op Ed

sochiThe founder of the International Olympic Committee, Pierre de Courbetin, had a vision that athletic competitions would attenuate geopolitical ones. Sport, he believed, could cut across cultures and thereby foster amity in the international realm. Accordingly, he worked for the revival of the athletic competitions of the ancient Greeks: the Olympic Games. To popularize the modern version of those games and build an intercontinental following, he championed the rotation of the games among different national hosts every four years. Today, as de Courbetin might have wished, the Olympic movement is a truly global phenomenon. Nations around the world strive to burnish their reputations through participating in the games, winning medals at them, and, above all, by hosting the games. When holding the games on its soil, a country takes the world stage to showcase itself.

Yet de Courbetin’s vision has been realized only partway. While the Olympic Games do generate goodwill and international good-feeling, they also occasionally aggravate international tensions by serving as a platform upon which countries play out rivalries and indulge their vanity, reveal their insecurities, and expose their grudges, as the 1936, 1972, 1980, and 1984 games illustrate. The Frenchman’s aspirations notwithstanding, the games sometimes exacerbate rather than ameliorate animosity.

The 2014 Winter Olympics, too, may well deepen international acrimony, and do so to the detriment of United States foreign policy. The 22nd Winter Games will take place next month in the picturesque port of Sochi.  A resort town on the Black Sea blessed with a subtropical climate and the presence of alpine mountains just thirty-seven miles outside the city, Sochi would seem a superb location for a winter sporting event. In addition, the games have the express and enthusiastic backing of the host country’s head of state. Read more…

Michael A. Reynolds, a Senior Fellow of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, is an Associate Professor in Princeton’s Department of Near Eastern Studies, where he teaches courses on modern Middle Eastern and Eurasian history, comparative empire, military and ethnic conflict, and secularism.

Originally published by the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

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