Inter Press Service » Migration & Refugees http://www.ipsnews.net News and Views from the Global South Wed, 27 Jul 2016 15:48:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.12 Climate Victims – Every Second, One Person Is Displaced by Disasterhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/climate-victims-every-second-one-person-is-displaced-by-disaster/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-victims-every-second-one-person-is-displaced-by-disaster http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/climate-victims-every-second-one-person-is-displaced-by-disaster/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 06:15:11 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146253 Land degradation - Sustainable land management: do nothing and you will be poorer. Credit: UNEP

Land degradation - Sustainable land management: do nothing and you will be poorer. Credit: UNEP

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Jul 27 2016 (IPS)

Climate change and related extreme weather events have devastated the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of most vulnerable people worldwide– by far exceeding the total of all the unfortunate and unjustifiable victims of all terrorist attacks combined. However, the unstoppable climate crisis receives just a tiny fraction of mainstream media attention. See these dramatic facts.

“Every second, one person is displaced by disaster,” the Oslo-based Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) reports. “In 2015 only, more than 19.2 million people fled disasters in 113 countries. “Disasters displace three to ten times more people than conflict and war worldwide.”

As climate change continues, it will likely lead to more frequent and severe natural hazards; the impact will be heavy, warns this independent humanitarian organisation providing aid and assistance to people forced to flee.

“On average, 26 million people are displaced by disasters such as floods and storms every year. That’s one person forced to flee every second.”

“Climate change is our generation’s greatest challenge,” says Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, which counts with over 5,000 humanitarian workers across more than 25 countries.

The climate refugees and migrants add to the on-going humanitarian emergency. “Not since World War II have more people needed our help,” warned the secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland, who held the post of UN undersecretary general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief (2003-2006).

Egeland –who was one of the most active, outspoken participants in the World Humanitarian Summit (Istanbul May 23-24)– also stressed that the humanitarian sector is failing to protect civilians.

“I hope that world leaders can ask themselves if they can at least stop giving arms, giving money to those armed groups that are systematically violating the humanitarian law, and bombing hospitals and schools, abusing women and children,” he said to IPS during the World Humanitarian Summit.

For its part, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) forecasts 200 million environmental migrants by 2050, moving either within their countries or across borders, on a permanent or temporary basis. Many of them would be coastal population.

On this, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) warns that coastal populations are at particular risk as a global rise in temperature of between 1.1 and 3.1 degrees C would increase the mean sea level by 0.36 to 0.73 meters by 2100, adversely impacting low-lying areas with submergence, flooding, erosion, and saltwater intrusion.

An estimated 83,100 people remain displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance in Wau, South Sudan. Credit: OIM

An estimated 83,100 people remain displaced and in need of humanitarian assistance in Wau, South Sudan. Credit: OIM


In a recent interview with IPS Nairobi correspondent Manipadma Jena, the director general of the International Organisation for Migration, William Lacy Swing, said that coastal migration is starting already but it is very hard to be exact as there is no good data to be able to forecast accurately.

“We do not know. But it is clearly going to figure heavily in the future. And it’s going to happen both in the low-lying islands in the Pacific and the Caribbean, and in those countries where people build houses very close to the shore and have floods every year as in Bangladesh.”

“It is quite clear that we will have more and more conflicts over shortages of food and water that are going to be exacerbated by climate change,” Lacy Swing warned.

Political crises and natural disasters are the other major drivers of migration today, he said to IPS in the interview.

Lacy Swing confirmed the fact that climate victims now add to record 60 million people who are fleeing war and persecution.

“We have never had so many complex and protracted humanitarian emergencies now happening simultaneously from West Africa all the way to Asia, with very few spots in between which do not have some issue. We have today 40 million forcibly displaced people and 20 million refugees, the greatest number of uprooted people since the Second World War.”

On 25 July, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted a resolution approving an agreement to make the International Organisation for Migration part of the UN system.

Founded in the wake of the World War II to resettle refugees from Europe, OIM celebrates its 65th anniversary in December of this year.

AFAO and UNHCR prepared a handbook that will help mitigate the impact of displaced people on forest resources. The handbook aims to help displaced people access fuel for cooking food while reducing environmental damage and conflicts with local communities. Credit: FAO/UNHCR

FAO and UNHCR prepared a handbook that will help mitigate the impact of displaced people on forest resources. The handbook aims to help displaced people access fuel for cooking food while reducing environmental damage and conflicts with local communities. Credit: FAO/UNHCR


“Migration is at the heart of the new global political landscape and its social and economic dynamics. At a time of growing levels of migration within and across borders, a closer legal and working relationship between the United Nations and IOM is needed more than ever,” said the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement welcoming the Assembly’s decision.

IOM, which assisted an estimated 20 million migrants in 2015, is an intergovernmental organisation with more than 9,500 staff and 450 offices worldwide

“We are living in a time of much tragedy and uncertainty. This agreement shows Member States’ commitment to more humane and orderly migration that benefits all, where we celebrate the human beings behind the numbers,” IOM Director General William Lacy said.

Through the agreement, the UN recognises IOM as an “indispensable actor in the field of human mobility.” IOM added that this includes protection of migrants and displaced people in migration-affected communities, as well as in areas of refugee resettlement and voluntary returns, and incorporates migration in country development plans.

The agreement paves the way for the agreement to be signed by Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon and Swing at the UN Summit for refugees and migrants on 19 September, which will bring together UN member states to address large movements of refugees and migrants for more humane and coordinated approach.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/climate-victims-every-second-one-person-is-displaced-by-disaster/feed/ 0
Narrow National Interests Threaten Historic Refugee Agreementhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/narrow-national-interests-threaten-historic-refugee-agreement/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=narrow-national-interests-threaten-historic-refugee-agreement http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/narrow-national-interests-threaten-historic-refugee-agreement/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 03:59:41 +0000 Aruna Dutt http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146238 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/narrow-national-interests-threaten-historic-refugee-agreement/feed/ 0 Climate Migrants Lead Mass Migration to India’s Citieshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/climate-migrants-lead-mass-migration-to-indias-cities/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=climate-migrants-lead-mass-migration-to-indias-cities http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/climate-migrants-lead-mass-migration-to-indias-cities/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2016 21:20:44 +0000 Neeta Lal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146243 Migrants arrive daily at New Delhi railway stations from across India fleeing floods and a debilitating drought. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

Migrants arrive daily at New Delhi railway stations from across India fleeing floods and a debilitating drought. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

By Neeta Lal
NEW DELHI, Jul 26 2016 (IPS)

Deepa Kumari, a 36-year-old farmer from Pithoragarh district in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, lives in a one-room tenement in south Delhi’s Mongolpuri slum with her three children. Fleeing devastating floods which killed her husband last year, the widow landed up in the national capital city last week after selling off her farm and two cows at cut-rate prices.

“I was tired of putting back life’s pieces again and again after massive floods in the region each year,” a disenchanted Kumari told IPS. “Many of my relatives have shifted to Delhi and are now living and working here. Reorganising life won’t be easy with three young kids and no husband to support me, but I’m determined not to go back.”Of Uttarakhand's 16,793 villages, 1,053 have no inhabitants and another 405 have less than 10 residents.

As flash floods and incessant rain engulf Uttarakhand year after year, with casualties running into thousands this year, burying hundreds under the debris of collapsing houses and wrecking property worth millions, many people like Kumari are abandoning their hilly homes to seek succour in the plains.

The problem, as acknowledged by Uttaranchal Chief Minister Harish Rawat recently, is acute. “Instances of landslips caused by heavy rains are increasing day by day. It is an issue that is of great concern,” he said.

Displacement for populations due to erratic and extreme weather, a fallout of climate change, has become a scary reality for millions of people across swathes of India. Flooding in Jammu and Kashmir last year, in Uttarakhand in 2013 and in Assam in 2012 displaced 1.5 million people.

Cyclone Phailin, which swamped the coastal Indian state of Orissa in October 2013, triggered large-scale migration of fishing communities. Researchers in the eastern Indian state of Assam and in Bangladesh have estimated that around a million people have been rendered homeless due to erosion in the Brahmaputra river basin over the last three decades.

With no homes to call their own, migrants displaced by flooding and drought live in unhygienic shanties upon arriving in Delhi. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

With no homes to call their own, migrants displaced by flooding and drought live in unhygienic shanties upon arriving in Delhi. Credit: Neeta Lal/IPS

Daunting challenges

Research done by Michael Werz at the Center for American Progress forecasts that South Asia will continue to be hard hit by climate change, leading to significant migration away from drought-impacted regions and disruptions caused by severe weather. Higher temperatures, rising sea levels, more intense and frequent cyclonic activity in the Bay of Bengal, coupled with high population density levels will also create challenges for governments.

Experts say challenges for India will be particularly daunting as it is the seventh largest country in the world with a diversity of landscapes and regions, each with its own needs to adapt to and tackle the impacts of climate change.

Several regions across India are already witnessing large-scale migration to cities. Drought-impacted Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh are seeing a wave of migration as crops fail. Many people have been forced to leave their parched fields for India’s cities in search of work. Drought has affected about a quarter of India’s 1.3 billion people, according to a submission to the Supreme Court by the central government in April.

Rural people have especially been forced to “migrate en masse”, according to a recent paper published by a group of NGOs. Evidence of mass migration is obvious in villages that are emptying out. In Uttaranchal, nine per cent of its villages are virtually uninhabited. As per Census 2011, of Uttarakhand’s 16,793 villages, 1,053 have no inhabitants and another 405 have less than 10 residents. The number of such phantom villages has surged particularly after the earthquake and flash floods of 2013.

The intersection of climate change, migration and governance will present new challenges for India, says Dr. Ranjana Kumari, director of the Center for Policy Research, a New Delhi-based think tank which does rehabilitation work in many flood- and drought-affected Indian states. “Both rural and urban areas need help dealing with climate change. Emerging urban areas which are witnessing inward migration, and where most of the urban population growth is taking place, are coming under severe strain.”

Tardy rescue and rehabilitation

Apparently, the Indian government is still struggling to come to terms with climate change-induced calamities. Rescue and rehabilitation has been tardy in Uttaranchal this year too with no long-term measures in place to minimise damage to life and property. In April, a group of more than 150 leading economists, activists, and academics wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling the government’s response “listless, lacking in both urgency and compassion”.

The government has also come under fire for allocating a meagre 52.8 million dollars for climate change adaptation over the next two financial years, a sum which environmental experts say is woefully inadequate given the size of the country and the challenges it faces.

Experts say climate migration hasn’t been high on India’s policy agenda due to more pressing challenges like poverty alleviation, population growth, and urbanisation. However, Shashank Shekhar, an assistant professor from the Department of Geology at the University of Delhi, asserts that given the current protracted agrarian and weather-related crises across the country, a cohesive reconstruction and rehabilitation policy for migrants becomes imperative. “Without it, we’re staring at a large-scale humanitarian crisis,” predicts the academician.

According to Kumari, climate change-related migration is not only disorienting entire families but also altering social dynamics. “Our studies indicate that it’s mostly men who migrate from the villages to towns or cities for livelihoods, leaving women behind to grapple with not only households, but also kids, the elderly, farms and the cattle. This brings in not only livelihood challenges but also socio-cultural ones.”

Geetika Singh of the Centre for Science and Environment, who has travelled extensively in the drought-stricken southern states of Maharashtra as well as Bundelhkand district in northern Uttar Pradesh, says the situation is dire.

“We’ve seen tiny packets of water in polythene bags being sold for Rs 10 across Bundelkhand,” Singh said. “People are deserting their homes, livestock and fields and fleeing towards towns and cities. This migration is also putting a severe strain on the urban population intensifying the crunch for precious resources like water and land.”

A study titled “Drinking Water Salinity and Maternal Health in Coastal Bangladesh: Implications of Climate Change” 2011 has highlighted the perils of drinking water from natural sources in coastal Bangladesh. The water, which has been contaminated by saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels, cyclone and storm surges, is creating hypertension, maternal health and pregnancy issues among the populace.

Singh, who travelled extensively in Bangladesh’s Sunderbans region says health issues like urinary infections among women due to lack of sanitation are pretty common. “High salinity of water is also causing conception problems among women,” she says.

Until the problem is addressed on a war footing, factoring in the needs of all stakeholders, hapless people like Deepa will continue to be uprooted from their beloved homes and forced to inhabit alien lands.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/climate-migrants-lead-mass-migration-to-indias-cities/feed/ 0
How Did We Arrive at This Chaos?http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-did-we-arrive-at-this-chaos/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-did-we-arrive-at-this-chaos http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-did-we-arrive-at-this-chaos/#comments Tue, 26 Jul 2016 13:28:11 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146233 Roberto Savio is founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News. ]]>

Roberto Savio is founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jul 26 2016 (IPS)

A Chinese curse is “May you live in interesting times”. That meant that too many events would disrupt the essential elements of harmony, on which the Chinese pantheon is based.

We certainly live in very interesting times where every day dramatic events pile on us, from terrorism to coup d’etat, from climate disaster to the decline of institutions and ever increasing social turmoil. It would be important, even if very difficult, to look in a nutshell why we are in this situation now – “lack of harmony” . So here goes a dramatically compressed explanation.

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

Let us start from a little known fact. After the Second World War, there was a general consensus on the need to avoid the repetition of its horrors. The United Nations served as the meeting place for all countries, and the Cold War created as a reaction, an association of the newly independent countries, the Non Aligned countries, which acted as a buffer between the East and West camps. More, the North South divide become the most important aspect of international relations. So much so that in 1973, the United Nations General Assembly adopted unanimously a resolution on a New International Economic Order (NIEO).The world agreed to establish a plan of action to reduce inequalities, foster global growth and make of cooperation and international law the basis for a world in harmony and peace.

After the adoption of the NIEO, the international community started to work in that direction and after a preparatory meeting in Paris in 1979, a summit of the most important heads of state was convened in Cancun, Mexico in 1981, to adopt a comprehensive plan of action. Among the 22 heads of state, came Ronald Reagan, who was elected a few weeks before, and this is where he found Margaret Thatcher who was elected in 1979. The two proceeded to cancel the NIEO and the idea of international cooperation. Countries would do policy according to their national interests, and did not bow to any abstract principle. The United Nations started its decline as the meeting place on governance.

The place for decisions became the G7, until then a technical body, and other organizations, which would defend the national interests of the powerful countries.

At the same time, three other events did help Reagan and Thatcher to change the direction of history.

One was the creation of the Washington’s consensus, elaborated in 1989 by the American Treasure, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank, which imposed as policy that the market was the only real engine of societies. States were an obstacle, and they should shrink as much as possible (Reagan also considered abolishing the Ministry of Education). The impact of the Washington Consensus on the ‘Third World’ was a very painful one. Structural adjustments severely cut the fragile public system.

The second was the fall of the Berlin Wall, also in 1989, which brought an end to ideologies, and obliged adoption of neoliberal globalization, which turned out to be an even more strict ideology. The main points of neo-liberal globalization included: the rule of the market (liberating “free” enterprise or private enterprise from any bonds imposed by the government); cutting public expenditure for social services (and reducing the social safety net); deregulation (reducing government regulation of everything that could diminish profits); privatization (selling state-owned enterprises, goods and services to private investors); eliminating the concept of “the public good” or “community”and replacing it with “individual responsibility (pressuring the poorest people in a society to find solutions to their lack of health care, education and social security all by themselves – then blame them, if they fail, as “lazy”).

The third was the progressive elimination of rules of the financial sector, started by Reagan and completed by Bill Clinton in 1999. Deposit banks were able to use the depositor’s money for speculation. Finance, that was considered to be the lubricant of economy, went on its own way, embarking on very risky operations, not any longer linked to the real economy. Now we have for every dollar of production for goods and services, 40 dollars of financial transactions.

Nobody defends any longer the Washington Consensus, and the neoliberal globalization. It is clear to all that while at macro level, globalization increased trade, finance and global growth, at microeconomic level it has been a disaster. The proponents of neoliberal globalization claimed that the growth would reach everyone in the planet. Instead, growth has been concentrating more and more in fewer and fewer hands. Six years ago, 388 individuals owned the same wealth as that of 3.6 billion people. In 2014, the number of the super wealthy come down to 80 individuals. In 2015, this number came down to 62 individuals. The IMF and the World Bank have been asking to reinforce the state as the indispensible regulator, reversing their policy. But the genie is out of the bottle. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Europe has lost 18 million of its middle class citizens and the US 24 million. On the other hand, there are now 1,830 billionaires with a net capital of 6.4 trillion dollars. In the UK, the level of inequality in 2025 is expected to be the same at the time of Queen Victoria in 1850 at the time of the birth of capitalism.

The new world created by Reagan is based on greed. Some historians claim that greed and fear are the two main engines of history; and values and priorities change in a society of greed.

Let us come to our days. We have again a new group of three horses of Apocalypse. The damages of the previous 20 years (1981-2001), are compounded by those of the continuing twenty years (2001-2021) and we are not through yet .

The first, was that in 2008 the banking system of the US went berserk for absurd speculations on mortgages. That crisis moved to Europe in 2009, caused by the falling value of the state’s title, like the Greek ones. Let us recall that to save the banking system, countries have spent close to 4 trillion dollars. An enormous amount, if we consider that banks still have toxic titles for 800 billion dollars. Meanwhile the banks have paid 220 billion dollars in fines for illegal activities. No banker has been incriminated. Europe is not yet back to its pre-crisis level of life. Meanwhile, many jobs have disappeared because of delocalization to the cheapest place of production, and jobs with substandard salaries have increased, together with precarious ones.

According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), today a worker makes in real terms 16% less than before the crisis. This has affected especially young people, with a European average of 10.5% of youth unemployment. Yet, the only stimulus for growth is for the banking system, into which the European Central Bank‚ is injecting 80 billion of dollars per month. This would have solved easily the youth’s unemployment.

Economists speak now of a “New Economy”, where unemployment is structural. From 1950 to 1973, world’s growth was over 5% per year. It came down to about 3% during 1973 and 2007 (OPEP’s blockade of petrol price in 1973 marked the shift.). Since 2007 we are not able to reach 1%. We have to add the growing unemployment that the technological development is causing. Factories need a fraction of the workers they had before. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (robotizing), will bring robot production, now at 12%, to 40% in 2025. Some mainstream economists, like Larry Summers, (the establishment voice) say that we are in a period of stagnation that will last for many years. Fear for the future has become a reality, fueled by terrorism and unemployment, with many dreaming that is possible to go back to the better yesterday. This is what populist leaders, from Donald Trump to Le Pen, are riding. A consequence of the crisis was that in several European countries populist parties, engaged in a nationalist call, riding xenophobia and nationalism have emerged, 47 at the last count. Several of them are already in coalitions that govern, or directly, like in Hungary, Poland, Slovakia. Now watch the next Austrian elections.

The second horse of Apocalypse has been the result of the interventions made in Iraq by US, and then Libya and Syria by Europe (with a particular role by former French president Nicolas Sarkozy).

As a result, in 2012 Europe started to receive massive immigration, for which there was no preparation. Suddenly, people were afraid of the human tide coming, and its impact in workplace, culture, religion, etc. That become a major factor for fear.

And then the third horse was the creation of ISIS in Syria, in 2013, one of the gifts of the invasion in Iraq. Let us not forget the global crisis started in 2008, and since then populism and nationalism were on the rise. But ISIS spectacular media impact and the radicalization of many young Europeans from Arab descent, usually from the margin of societies and laws, accentuated Fear, and was a gift for the populist, now able to use xenophobia for mobilizing disaffected and insecure citizens. The decline of European institutions has brought several countries (after Brexit), to call for a deep revision of the European project. Hungary is going for a referendum on 2 of October. Would you accept an immigrant quota imposed by the EU, against the will of the Hungarian parliament? The same day there will be the re-run of Austrian elections, that the extreme right wing lost for 36,000 votes. Then the Netherlands, France and Germany will follow, with an expected increase of the extreme right wing parties. At the same time, Poland and Slovakia also want to have a referendum about the EU. It could well be that at the end of 2017, European institutions will be deeply wounded.

The real problem is that since the failed Cancun Summit in 1981, countries have lost the ability to think together. India, Japan, China, and many other are going through a tide of nationalism. In Cancun, all participants, from Francois Mitterrand to Indira Gandhi, from Julius Nyerere to Pierre Trudeau shared a set of common values.: social justice, solidarity, the respect of international law, and the conviction that strong societies were the basis for democracy (except of course for Reagan and Thatcher). She famously declared: there is no such thing as a society, there are only individuals). They shared many books. They considered peace and development as the paradigm for governance. All this has been swept away. Politicians, left without ideologies, subordinated to finance, have turned mainly to an administrative debate, on singles issues, without a framework, where left or right have become difficult to discern. We are clearly in a period of Greed and Fear.

Time is not helping. In 1900 Europe had 24% of the world population. At the end of this century, Europe will be 4%. Nigeria will be more populous than the US. Africa, now at 1 billion, will be 2 billion by 2050, and 3 billion by 2100. It is time now to engage all together to discuss how to face the coming world. We took 25 years to reach an agreement on climate, maybe it is too late. On migration and employment, two and a half decades is an eternity. But this must be a global agreement, not just a kneejerk reflex by Chancellor Angela Merkel in total solitude, without even consulting French President Francois Hollande. But this kind of agenda is politically unimaginable. How to discuss these issues with Le Pen, Donald Trump, the other emerging populists and the nationalist tide that runs in the world?

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-did-we-arrive-at-this-chaos/feed/ 0
The Americans Should Have Their Own Chilcothttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/the-americans-should-have-their-own-chilcot/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-americans-should-have-their-own-chilcot http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/the-americans-should-have-their-own-chilcot/#comments Fri, 22 Jul 2016 15:59:48 +0000 Mohammad Badrul Ahsan http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146181 By Mohammad Badrul Ahsan
Jul 22 2016 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

Ever since the Chilcot Inquiry vilified former Prime Minister Tony Blair on July 6 for taking the United Kingdom to war in Iraq, the world is waiting for the other shoe to drop. If Blair deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, the report assessed he had done it at the behest of his American ally George W. Bush. That gives sufficient ground for the Americans to have their own Chilcot. Blair had bought the distribution rights on this of the Atlantic for the biggest lot of hogwash Bush sold to the entire world.

op_1_Bush and Blair remind one of America’s most notorious criminal couple, Bonnie and Clyde. In the movie made on their life in 1967, Bonnie Parker tells Clyde Barrow after he rebuffs her romantic advances, “Your advertising is just dandy… folks would never guess you don’t have a thing to sell.” We don’t know if the former British premier ever had the pride of an embarrassed Bonnie to tell his friend Bush before, during or after the Iraq invasion that he didn’t have a thing to sell when he lied about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction.

The world knows that George Bush lied. It knows he fabricated that story to invade Iraq for more reasons than overthrowing its ruler. And, it doesn’t seem to be an honest mistake or an error in judgment because Bush has never apologised, accepted responsibility or shown remorse for his decisions. Meanwhile, the global chain reaction he set off has already killed thousands of men, women and children, and continues to convulse the world.

UK foreign secretary Philip Hammond said after the Chilcot report was released that the US blunder in Iraq led to the rise of IS. He criticised the US decision to dismantle the Iraqi army, when 400,000 unemployed soldiers, many of them Saddam loyalists, were let loose to graze on the fields of anger and vengeance.

In fact, it’s not clear till today what has been accomplished by trashing a country to topple its dictator. It has been more than nine years since Saddam was hanged on an Eid day, but Iraq is bloodier, ever more violent and ever more confused. Pakistan is paranoid, Afghanistan is antsy, Syria is seething, Yemen is yelping, Turkey is terrorised, and European cities are reeling under terrorist attacks. Even a previously quiet country like Bangladesh has to look over its shoulder. IS has also turned its wrath on Indonesia, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia.

An American Chilcot inquiry should look into what goat George Bush had in this fight. Did he want to seek vengeance for the plot Saddam once had allegedly hatched to assassinate his father? Did he have a crusade mission to invade a vulnerable country and throw a monkey wrench into the Muslim world? Did he go after Iraq’s oil? What did he actually want?

That Bush didn’t go for the WMDs is clear already because he knew he couldn’t find what wasn’t there. He also didn’t go there to fight terrorism because Saddam hasn’t been linked to terror groups, which carried out the 9/11 attacks. He also didn’t go to liberate Iraq, which is squirming under the oppressive burden of foreign invasion.

The United States needs a Chilcot-like investigation to answer these questions. It may take seven years or so, but better late than never. The Americans don’t need to carry the burden of one man’s guilt on their conscience. They, like the British people, have the right to know why their former leader had lied to take their country to a wasteful war.

It will be nice if the American inquiry summons Tony Blair as a witness. The investigators should have him sit together with George Bush at the same table and observe how they defend each other. Then both men should be provided with calculators to work out this simple math. Problem: Saddam was executed for the murder of 148 Iraqi Shi’ites. Solution: How many times should a devious duo be hanged for their misguided or mischievous policies that have killed nearly a million in Iraq, thousands in Syria and many more in other countries as collateral damage?

If the United States sincerely wishes to help other countries in their fight against terrorism, it must go back to the original sin and exonerate itself. It must explain to a disgusted world how an architect of anarchy could trigger turmoil worldwide and then enjoy the perks of a retired president without having so much as a rap on the knuckles!

Injecting air bubbles into the bloodstream can lead to brain damage or even death. An American inquiry needs to investigate how George Bush’s “hot air” has created a similar medical condition across the world. Those left brain-damaged are ruthlessly killing, while others are helplessly dying in vain. Shame!

The writer is Editor of the weekly First News and an opinion writer for The Daily Star.
Email: badrul151@yahoo.com.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/the-americans-should-have-their-own-chilcot/feed/ 0
Reluctant Warrior?http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/reluctant-warrior/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=reluctant-warrior http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/reluctant-warrior/#comments Tue, 19 Jul 2016 15:35:26 +0000 Mudassir Ali Shah http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146145 By S. Mudassir Ali Shah
Jul 19 2016 (Dawn, Pakistan)

Much to President Ashraf Ghani’s relief, Nato has extended its mission in Afghanistan through 2017. The alliance reaffirmed its commitment to the troubled campaign at the Warsaw summit, as mass migration from Afghanistan continues to cause ripples across Europe.

mudassirAlthough the participants pledged to continue funding and training Afghan security forces, the overstretched alliance itself is up against the odds. The recent bombing in Nice, the war in Syria, the botched military coup in Turkey and growing confrontation with Russia are some of the key challenges before it.

Given the scale of the multiple crises, the coalition is unlikely to turn around the bleak situation in the conflict-torn country. On the face of it, Nato’s renewed vow is a signal it is not rushing for an exit. The decision follows President Barack Obama’s announcement to leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan through the end of his term

Unable to cope with the progressively dismal security and economic conditions on the domestic front, Ghani’s effusive appreciation of Nato’s move is understandable. It will give him much-needed breathing space.

In the build-up to the summit, Obama proclaimed the 15-year war in Afghanistan would drag into the tenure of his successor. True to form, he went back on his vow to withdraw all American men and women in uniform from the country before his exit from office.

Obama has chosen to prolong the war in Afghanistan.

His latest volte-face is chiefly driven by what he calls the precarious security situation in Afghanistan, whose defence establishment is still not as strong as it needs to be. In all fairness, the decision is a dangerous nostrum that may lead to wider anarchy in the country.

If his tactical gambits in the past are any guide, the new shift is unlikely to help his successor take an easy decision on America’s presence in Afghanistan. In fact, his 2014 statement rang truer: It is harder bringing wars to a close than starting them.

During his two terms in the White House, the president looked rather pushy about setting arbitrary timelines — and then changed his mind without any good reason. To boot, his kaleidoscopic moves have tended to reinforce a ruthless Taliban insurgency that has undermined the writ of the government in Kabul.

Without learning a jot from the Iraqi quicksand, Obama — branded as a reluctant warrior — chose to prolong the war in Afghanistan. The militant Islamic State group, rising from the ashes of hostilities, has now found new breeding ground in Afghanistan.

Today, Daesh fighters are making inroads into eastern and northern Afghanistan. High-casualty attacks and firefights in Nangarhar, Kunar, Nuristan and Badakhshan provinces have not only highlighted the tenuous hold of the Ghani administration, but also underscored America’s debatable military strategy.

Despite an exponential increase in targeted killings in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, IS is steadily expanding its foothold in different countries. After the Iraq debacle, the US ratcheted up troop levels in Afghanistan in 2009 but then pulled them back faster than commanders on the ground suggested.

Exasperated by his failure, he promised a responsible end to the war and a reduction in troop numbers to the normal embassy presence. Knowingly or unwittingly, he has put more US troops in harm’s way by pledging to maintain the present military presence until 2017.

Obama’s unworkable plans have neither brought security to Afghanistan nor enabled him to reclaim the ‘American Dream’. His obsession with the military option notwithstanding, the president still acknowledges the only way to achieve a full drawdown of foreign forces from Afghanistan is through a durable political settlement.

At the same time, the Afghan Taliban’s assertion that their persistent fighting prowess is the main factor behind Obama’s oscillation also sounds accurate. In the circumstances, there is little reason to be optimistic about the future of the long-elusive peace parleys. Efforts by the Quadrilateral Coordination Group to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table have fizzled out largely due to Washington’s ambivalent policy.

With the death of Mullah Akhtar Mansour in a drone strike, the US has intentionally hampered result-oriented talks. In addition to laying bare America’s double standard, the raid has also driven the Taliban further away from the negotiating table.

How can you interact with a group whose leadership you take out at a critical time? How can you woo Pakistan, Afghanistan’s immediate neighbour, into facilitating reconciliation talks by violating its sovereignty with a disturbing frequency?

To make sure 15 years of American investments and sacrifices in Afghanistan come to fruition, Obama’s successor would have to embrace the patent reality that military power alone cannot translate into outright victory in the absence of political courage to own up to past mistakes and keep them from recurring.

The writer is a freelance journalist based in Peshawar.
Published in Dawn, July 19th, 2016

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/reluctant-warrior/feed/ 0
‘Monster’ El Niño Subsides, La Niña Hitting Soonhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/monster-el-nino-subsides-la-nina-hitting-soon/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=monster-el-nino-subsides-la-nina-hitting-soon http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/monster-el-nino-subsides-la-nina-hitting-soon/#comments Mon, 18 Jul 2016 07:25:54 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146095 West Hararghe region, Ethiopia, December 2015. Some 10.2 million people are food insecure amidst one of the worst droughts to hit Ethiopia in decades. Photo credit: WFP/Stephanie Savariaud

West Hararghe region, Ethiopia, December 2015. Some 10.2 million people are food insecure amidst one of the worst droughts to hit Ethiopia in decades. Photo credit: WFP/Stephanie Savariaud

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Jul 18 2016 (IPS)

As if human-made armed conflicts, wickedness, rights abuse, gender violence, cruel inequality and climate catastrophes were not enough, now the saying “God Always Forgives, Men Sometimes, Nature Never” appear to be more true than ever. See what happens.

Now that the 2015-2016 El Niño –one of the strongest on record– has subsided, La Niña – El Niño’s ‘counterpart’– could strike soon, further exacerbating a severe humanitarian crisis that is affecting millions of people in the most vulnerable communities in tens of countries worldwide, especially in Africa and Asia Pacific.

El Niño is the term used to describe the warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs, on average, every three to seven years. It raises sea surface temperatures and impacts weather systems around the globe so that some places receive more rain while others receive none at all, often in a reversal of their usual weather pattern.

La Niña is the opposite weather phenomena—it lowers sea surface temperature producing a counter impact and anyway bringing more catastrophes with heavy rains in areas affected by El Niño draughts and more of these in flooded regions.

Devastation

While El Niño has devastated harvests, livestock and thus livelihoods, its huge impact on children is worsening, “as hunger, malnutrition and disease continue to increase following the severe droughts and floods spawned by the event,” a new report from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has just revealed.

Making matters worse, there is a strong chance La Niña could strike at some stage this year, UNICEF’s report “It’s not over – El Niño’s impact on children” alerts.

Drought associated with the El Niño phenomenon has severely affected Arsi, Ethiopia. Photo credit: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

Drought associated with the El Niño phenomenon has severely affected Arsi, Ethiopia. Photo credit: OCHA/Charlotte Cans

El Niño, and its counterpart La Niña, occur cyclically, in recent years, mainly due to the effects of global climate change, extreme weather events associated with these phenomena –such as droughts and floods– have increased in frequency and severity.

“Millions of children and their communities need support in order to survive. They need help to prepare for the eventuality La Niña will exacerbate the humanitarian crisis. And they need help to step up disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change, which is causing more intense and more frequent extreme weather events,” said UNICEF’s Director of Emergency Programs, Afshan Khan.

Millions of Children in Dire Need

Indeed, the UN Children Fund reports that children in the worst affected areas are going hungry. In Eastern and Southern Africa –the worst hit regions– some 26.5 million children need support, including more than one million who need treatment for severe acute malnutrition. “

The same children who are affected by El Niño and threatened by La Niña, find themselves on the front-lines of climate change,” added Khan.

Children in the worst affected areas are going hungry now, UNICEF report says, and warns that their futures are at risk, as extreme weather has disrupted schooling, increased disease and malnutrition, and robbed families of their livelihoods. In drought-affected areas, some children are staying away from class to fetch water over long distances, or have moved away with their families following loss of crops or livestock.

Moreover, being out of school often increases a child’s risk of abuse, exploitation and, in some areas, child marriage, UNICEF adds, while warning that malnutrition among children under five has increased alarmingly in many of the affected areas, as families who were already living hand-to-mouth.

In many countries, El Niño affects access to safe water, and has been linked to increases in diseases such as dengue fever, diarrhoea and cholera, which are “major killers of children.” Drought can also force adolescent girls and women to engage in transactional sex to survive. And mortality for children living with HIV is two to six times higher for those who are severely malnourished than for those who are not, UNICEF reports.

Global Development at Risk

UNICEF is not the sole UN agency to warn against the devastating effects of El Niño and the huge threats from La Niña.

Farmers in Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa is one of the areas hardest hit by El Niño. Photo credit: FAO/Tamiru Legesse

Farmers in Ethiopia. The Horn of Africa is one of the areas hardest hit by El Niño. Photo credit: FAO/Tamiru Legesse

In fact, failure to prepare for and adapt to the ‘new normal’ of increasing climate-linked emergencies such as El Niño could put global development targets at risk and deepen widespread human suffering in areas already hard hit by floods and droughts, top United Nations officials alerted.

The heads of the three Rome-based UN agencies, FAO, IFAD and WFP, along with the UN Special Envoy on El Niño & Climate, warned in a recent meeting that more than 60 million people worldwide, about 40 million in East and Southern Africa alone, are projected to be food insecure due to the impact of the El Niño climate event.

To coordinate responses to these challenges UN agencies and partners on July 6 met at the Rome headquarters of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). The joint meeting included the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva warned that the impact of El Niño on agricultural livelihoods has been enormous and with La Niña on the doorsteps the situation could worsen.

“El Niño has caused primarily a food and agricultural crisis,” he said, announcing that FAO will therefore mobilise additional new funding to “enable it to focus on anticipatory early action in particular, for agriculture, food and nutrition, to mitigate the impacts of anticipated events and to strengthen emergency response capabilities through targeted preparedness investments.”

Meanwhile, OXFAM international–a confederation of non-governmental organisations, reported that about 60 million people across Southern Africa and the Horn of Africa, Central America, and the Pacific now face worsening hunger and poverty due to droughts and crop failures in 2014/5 that have been exacerbated by the El Niño weather system in 2015/6.

“This number is likely to rise,” warns this international confederation of NGOs working together for “a just world without poverty, where people are valued and treated equally, enjoy their rights as full citizens, and can influence decisions affecting their lives.”

OXFAM has recently issued a short report giving a voice to some of the people that it is working with in Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, El Salvador and Papua New Guinea. “They’ve told us that they have lived through bad times before, but that this drought is much worse than previous ones,” says the report, which is authored Debbie Hillier.

These are some of the most impacting excerpts of OXFAM’s report, titled ”What Will Become of Us:Voices from around the world on drought and El Nino.”

“… People go to bed with empty stomachs; toil in their fields or go to school with the gnawing pain of hunger; they walk or cycle for miles to try to find food. Many people have reduced the number of meals they eat per day to two or even one.

… Hunger hurts. For parents, the struggle to put food on the table has been acutely painful; children cry for food, babies nurse on empty breasts.

… Many people have nothing left. Farmers and herders have worked hard, but now they watch their crops fail and their animals die.

… Despite their best efforts, many communities and governments are being overwhelmed.

People cope by draining their savings and stocks, selling assets, borrowing money, and migrating to find work.

… When these are exhausted, coping strategies become more damaging and women and girls often bear the brunt: dropping out of school, entering early and forced marriages, facing an increased risk of violence during longer trips to collect wood, food or water, and transactional sex.”

In its GROW blog channel, OXFAM has also published a short report on El Niño and Climate Change:All You Need to Know, showing the relation between the two weather events.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/monster-el-nino-subsides-la-nina-hitting-soon/feed/ 0
Displaced Youth: Selling Souls to Sex and Drugshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/displaced-youth-selling-souls-to-sex-and-drugs/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=displaced-youth-selling-souls-to-sex-and-drugs http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/displaced-youth-selling-souls-to-sex-and-drugs/#comments Fri, 15 Jul 2016 14:44:37 +0000 Rose Delaney2 http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146072 From violence in refugee camps to the rise of Islamophobia, the gay Syrian community faces a multitude of challenges. Credit: IPS

From violence in refugee camps to the rise of Islamophobia, the gay Syrian community faces a multitude of challenges. Credit: IPS

By Rose Delaney
ROME, Jul 15 2016 (IPS)

Omar’s striking blue eyes and well-built physique are accentuated by his fashionable, tight-fitting apparel. At first glance, one would regard him as a carefree young man, blessed with the gifts of intellect and beauty. However, appearances can be deceptive. The traumas of war, displacement and isolation hang over Omar like an ominous shadow.

In 2013, triggered by the death of his best friend in the midst of bloody conflict, Omar fled Syria eventually landing in Germany. Desperately in search of a safe haven, he paid over 15 000 euro for a false Nordic passport which was later seized at the Hannover airport in Germany on his arrival. As one of the thousands of refugees, predominantly from Syria and Iraq, to flood into Germany in the past few years, Omar’s journey as a displaced youth has been far from easy.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) refugees as young as Omar are “Persons of Concern” and for the most part, their strife remains undocumented and underrepresented. In this case, the plight of a young displaced person was especially challenging for Omar who identifies himself as part of the gay community.

Although Omar arrived in Germany over three years ago, he claims every day of his life is spent reliving the bloodshed and warfare he bore witness to in Syria. “Every time I see a plane pass by, a jolt of pure fear passes through my body”. A lot of his anxiety is also rooted in his time spent at a refugee camp when he first arrived.

He described his feelings of social exclusion and frustration. “In the camp, I felt as if I had been captured and caged like a defeated lion. I remember trying to jump over the wall to get out…they locked up all the doors at 9 pm every night”.

The need to put on a “straight mask” to conceal his sexual orientation also acted as a form of incarceration for him. “I was less than a person, denied the right to express my true identity among my own people”. Men who openly identified themselves as gay in the camp or who were considered to be “feminine” by the other refugees were subjected to violence, torment, and humiliation.

Omar expressed happiness over the fact that in recent months many camps have been established solely concentrated on providing refuge to those who identify themselves as LGBT. He does not wish the grief gay refugees experienced in his camp on anyone.

The transition from his camp to government-funded accommodation in Berlin forced Omar to overcome many hurdles. The reality of his situation turned out to be a far cry from the “European dream” he had fantasized about in Syria. Then free to lead his own life, he quickly gave into vices and fell into the precarious world of drugs.

“During my first year, in order to send money home to my family, I began to sell drugs. I was one of many Syrians pushed into this underground business. Feelings of depression and desperation make young men like me fall into this trap”.

Omar explained that the “white” market could never give him enough to lead a sustainable life whilst funding his sister’s university education and maintaining the upkeep of his parents. Once well-to-do and affluent, his family had lost their prosperous business during the war in Syria.

“No one could ever understand how hard life is here for Syrians like me, my main priority is getting my sisters through education. At this point, I can only think of them, my family has been left with nothing.”

According to a study issued by the UNHCR on displaced youth, the majority of young refugees are obliged to take on the role of breadwinner for their families. They are seen as “the backbone of the community” left at home. This, in turn, has pushed displaced men like Omar to become involved in illegal trade and crime to provide for the bare necessities of their loved ones.

Unable to cope with the risks he exposed himself to, Omar abandoned the drug trade and went on to work in the local sex industry as a male escort. Although his family would have never accepted this choice, he emphasised the fact that “in times like these, you cannot think about love or respect.”

Ashamed about what he considered a “seedy” occupation, he began to tell friends and family that he was taking on modelling work to get by. Omar stated that within the gay community, the majority of Syrian refugees opt for the easy money that comes with the sex trade.

“One can typically earn between 100-150 euro per hour for this work. Finding an affluent man to be your “sugar daddy”, escorting and even porn” have all become ways for many of Omar’s displaced friends to support themselves and those depending on them back home.

Omar explained that even finding love can be difficult due to the recent rise of Islamophobia across Germany. On Grindr, a popular dating app used by the gay community, Omar and many of his friends have experienced discrimination and verbal abuse from other men using the service.

Omar receives messages such as “Go back home, we don’t want ISIS in our country” and “You’re a Muslim terrorist” on a daily basis. Whereas he once felt the need to hide his sexuality, he now feels it is more important to conceal his religion and nationality.

“When I first arrived, the German people were accommodating and kind-hearted, now they are taking to the streets in protest. They want us out, they believe we are all extremists.”

Now, Omar has left the dark underworld of sex and drugs that he feels in many ways dehumanized him. He’s hopeful for the future as he is now fluent in German and is working towards his goal of becoming a personal trainer.

When asked if he thought the conflict in Syria would end anytime soon he replied “A peaceful Syria is not possible in the near future. It’s in the same situation as Iraq. Religious intolerance leads to conflict, even though it’s a secular state. No one forgives and forgets, it’s a vicious circle.”

In spite of this, Omar still dreams about the day he can return to his homeland. “If the war stopped, I would go back to Syria in a heartbeat. However, speaking for the majority of the gay Syrian community, they are in no hurry to go back to a society that never accepted them in the first place”.

In this sense, although Europe has presented young gay refugees like Omar with a multitude of challenges, it has also provided them with refuge, stability and the first chance to be themselves and embrace their sexuality.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/displaced-youth-selling-souls-to-sex-and-drugs/feed/ 0
Clueless in Iraqhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/clueless-in-iraq/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=clueless-in-iraq http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/clueless-in-iraq/#comments Thu, 14 Jul 2016 14:31:40 +0000 Owen Bennet http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146058 By Owen Bennett-Jones
Jul 14 2016 (Dawn, Pakistan)

For many Americans and Brits the 2003 Iraq war is seen as not only a disaster for Iraq and its neighbours but also as a defeat of the US and UK forces. The recently published Chilcot inquiry lends its considerable weight to this view. It went so far as to describe the circumstances in which the British pulled out of Basra, after negotiating a deal with a local militia there, as “humiliating”.

The writer is a British journalist and author of Pakistan: Eye of the Storm.

The writer is a British journalist and author of Pakistan: Eye of the Storm.

But there is another way of looking at what happened in Iraq. The war not only exposed Western weakness but also led to sectarian violence in the Middle East which, despite all the loss of Shia life, has empowered the Shias in the region. Iran is in a much stronger position in 2016 than it was at the start of 2003.

Top Secret Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) documents declassified by Chilcot show just how little idea the British had that this would be the outcome. As is now well established, the British intelligence community’s first and most important error was to state that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In September 2002, Britain’s intelligence agencies were telling Tony Blair: “Iraq has a chemical and biological capability”, before going on to predict: “Saddam would seek to use chemical and biological munitions against any internal uprising; intelligence indicates that he is prepared to deliberately target the Shia population.”

But that was just one mistake. There were others. In February 2003, just weeks before the invasion, the JIC stated that Iran was not likely to project its power into Iraq. “Iranian-inspired terrorist attacks on coalition forces are unlikely, unless the Iranians thought the US had decided to attack them after an Iraq campaign.” The JIC seemed so sure of Western military superiority that it believed Iran’s main concern would be to avoid anything that could be seen as provoking Washington.

Documents show how UK remained unprepared for Shia resistance.

A month after the invasion UK intelligence officers had had the chance to obtain better information from Iraqi Shias about Iran’s plans to protect itself by drawing the US into a prolonged conflict. “Of greatest concern are state-backed and terrorist groups. […] Iran […] would prefer that the coalition got bogged down inside Iraq….” Nevertheless, in the same document the JIC doggedly stuck by its pre-war view: “However, as we judged in [JIC assessment of Sept 17, 2002], Iran has limited leverage or influence in Iraq, even among the Shia.”

Six months later, the JIC was reporting that far from remaining quiescent “some elements” of the Iranian regime were supporting some Sunni groups including Al Qaeda affiliates in Iraq as well as Shia militia. “Iran and Lebanese [Hezbollah] are probably inciting violent anti-coalition protests and other disruptive activity. Any coalition attempt to disarm Shia militia groups, such as the Badr Corps (SCIRI’s armed wing) and militant cleric Muqtadah al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army, could be a significant additional cause of friction,” the JIC said.

By the end of the same month it acknowledged that: “Any coalition attempt to disarm the Shia militia groups could be a flashpoint for trouble.”

Given these sobering assessments it is somewhat baffling to find that when, in April 2004, concerted Shia resistance did eventually come, the British were not ready for it: “The scale and extent of attacks mounted by the Mahdi Army and associated Shia militants have come as a surprise,” the JIC said.

The JIC assessments over the following years recorded the UK intelligence community’s increasing realisation that Iran, having seen off the threat of a US attack by drawing them into prolonged conflict in Iraq, was now training and arming Shia militias to attack coalition forces with a view to forcing the foreign forces out.

In November 2006, the JIC said: “We judge that Iran wants to speed MNF [multinational forces] withdrawal from the South and to make life as difficult for Coalition forces as long as they remain.”

In one of the last JIC assessments published by Chilcot from October 2007 came the view: “We judge that the Iranians want an Iraq led by a Shia-dominated government, susceptible to their influence which will never again pose a threat to them.” In other words, having seen off the US threat, Iran has shifted focus to shoring up its regional position as well.

The declassified top secret intelligence assessments released by the Chilcot inquiry are a great illustration of the law of unintended consequences. And while hindsight gives today’s observers an unfair advantage — and even though Iranian intentions developed over the course of the war — Tehran’s behaviour was consistently rational and designed to further its national interest.

The assessments made by British intelligence before the war— and even after it started — failed to predict that Iranian conduct. Britain may once have had an extraordinary knowledge of how the world works. It seems to have lost the knack.

The writer is a British journalist and author of Pakistan: Eye of the Storm.
Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2016

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/clueless-in-iraq/feed/ 0
The Delusion ‘I Am Not Responsible’http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/the-delusion-i-am-not-responsible/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-delusion-i-am-not-responsible http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/the-delusion-i-am-not-responsible/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 11:48:32 +0000 Robert Burrowes http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=146028 The author has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?‘]]> A scared child shows fear in an uncertain environment. Credit: D Sharon Pruitt. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Wikimedia Commons

A scared child shows fear in an uncertain environment. Credit: D Sharon Pruitt. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license. Wikimedia Commons

By Robert J. Burrowes
DAYLESFORD, Australia, Jul 13 2016 (IPS)

- One of the many interesting details to be learned by understanding human psychology is how a person’s unconscious fear works in a myriad of ways to make them believe that they bear no responsibility for a particular problem.

This psychological dysfunctionality cripples a substantial portion of the human population in ways that work against the possibility of achieving worthwhile outcomes for themselves, other individuals, communities and the world as a whole.

In an era when human extinction is now a likely near-term outcome of this dysfunctionality, it is obviously particularly problematic. So why does this happen and how does it manifest?

In essence, if a person is frightened by the circumstances of others or a particular set of events, their fear will often unconsciously delude them into believing and behaving as if they bear no responsibility for playing a part in addressing the problem.

Robert J. Burrowes

Robert J. Burrowes

This fear works particularly easily when the person or people concerned live at considerable social and/or geographic distance or when the events occur in another place.

But it can also work with someone who is socially or geographically close, or with an event that occurs nearby. Let me illustrate this common behaviour with several examples which might stimulate your awareness of having witnessed it too.

I first became seriously interested in this phenomenon after hearing someone, who had just returned from India, describe the many street beggars in India as ‘living a subsistence lifestyle’.

As I listened to this individual, I could immediately perceive that they were very frightened by their experience but in a way that made them not want to help.

Given that this individual has considerable wealth, it was immediately apparent to me that the individual was attempting to conceal from themselves their unconscious guilt (about their own wealth and how this was acquired) but I could perceive an element of anger in their response as well.

This anger was obviously shaping the way in which street beggars were perceived so that there was no apparent need to do anything. So what was the unconscious anger about? Most probably about not getting help themselves when they needed it as a child.

A widespread version of this particular fear and the delusion that arises from it, is the belief that it is the direct outcome of the decisions of others that make them responsible for the circumstances in which they find themselves.

Obviously, this belief is widespread among those who refuse to take structural violence, such as the exploitative way in which the global economy functions, into account. If the victim can be blamed for their circumstances then ‘I am not responsible’ in any way.

Men who like to blame women who have been sexually assaulted for their ‘provocative dress’ are also exhibiting this fear and its attendant delusional behaviour.

But perhaps the most obvious manifestation of evading responsibility occurs when instead of doing what they can to assist someone in need, a person laments ‘not being able’ to do something more significant.

And by doing this, their fear enables them to conceal that they might, in fact, have done something that would have helped.

This often happens, for example, when someone is too scared to offer help because it might require the agreement of someone else (such as a spouse) who (unconsciously) frightens them. But there are other reasons why their fear might generate this behaviour as well.

Another common way of evading taking responsibility (while, in this case, deluding yourself that you are not) is to offer someone who needs help something that they do not need and then, when they refuse it, to interpret this as ‘confirmation’ that they do not need your help.

A variation of this behaviour is to dispose of something that you do not want and to delude yourself that you are, in fact, ‘helping’.

I first became fully aware of this version of evading responsibility (and assuaging guilt) when I was working in a refugee camp in the Sudan at the height of the Ethiopian war and famine in 1985.

Companies all over the world were ‘giving’ away unwanted stock of unsaleable goods (presumably for a tax benefit) to aid agencies who were then trying to find ways to use it.

And not always successfully. I will never forget seeing the Wad Kowli Refugee Camp for the first time with its wonderfully useless lightweight and colourful overnight bushwalking tents instead of the large, heavy duty canvas tents normally used in such difficult circumstances. Better than nothing you might say. For a week, perhaps, but only barely in 55 degrees Celsius.

Another popular way of evading responsibility is to delude yourself about the precise circumstances in which someone finds themselves.

For example, if your fear makes you focus your attention on an irrelevant detail, such as the pleasantness of your memory of a town as a tourist destination, rather than the fact that someone who lives there is homeless, then it is easy to delude yourself that their life must be okay and to behave in accordance with your delusion rather than the reality of the other person’s life.

One way that some people evade responsibility is to delude themselves that a person who needs help is ‘not contributing’ while also deluding themselves about the importance of their own efforts.

This is just one of many delusions that wealthy people often have to self-justify their wealth while many people who work extremely hard are paid a pittance (or nothing) for their time, expertise and labour.

Variations of another delusion include ‘I can only give what I have got’ and ‘I can’t afford it’ (but you might know of others), which exposes the fear that makes a person believe that they have very little irrespective of their (sometimes considerable) material wealth.

This fear/delusion combination arises because, in the emotional sense, the person probably does have ‘very little’.

If a person is denied their emotional needs as a child, they will often learn to regard material possessions as the only measure of value in the quality of their life.

And because material possessions can never replace an emotional need, no amount of material wealth can ever feel as if it is ‘enough’. For a fuller explanation of this point, see ‘Love Denied: The Psychology of Materialism, Violence and War‘.

If someone is too scared to accept any responsibility for helping despite the sometimes obvious distress of a person in need, they might even ask for reassurance, for example by asking ‘Are you okay?’

But the question is meaningless and asked in such a way that the person in need might even know that no help will be forthcoming. They might even offer the reassurance sought despite having to lie to do so.

A common way in which some people, particularly academics, evade responsibility is to offer an explanation and/or theory about a social problem but then take no action to change things themselves.

Another widespread way of evading responsibility, especially among what I call ‘the love and light brigade’, is to focus attention on ‘positives’ (the ‘good’ news) rather than truthfully presenting information about the state of our world and then inviting powerful responses to that truth.

Deluding ourselves that we can avoid dealing with reality, much of which happens to be extremely unpleasant and ugly, is a frightened and powerless way of approaching the world. But it is very common.

Many people evade responsibility, of course, simply by believing and acting as if someone else, perhaps even ‘the government’, is ‘properly’ responsible.

Undoubtedly, however, the most widespread ways of evading responsibility are to deny any responsibility for military violence while paying the taxes to finance it, denying any responsibility for adverse environmental and climate impacts while making no effort to reduce consumption, denying any responsibility for the exploitation of other people while buying the cheap products produced by their exploited (and sometimes slave) labour, denying any responsibility for the exploitation of animals despite eating and/or otherwise consuming a range of animal products, and denying any part in inflicting violence, especially on children, without understanding the many forms this violence can take.

See ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

Ultimately, of course, we evade responsibility by ignoring the existence of a problem.

Despite everything presented above, it should not be interpreted to mean that we should all take responsibility for everything that is wrong with the world. There is, obviously, a great deal wrong and the most committed person cannot do something about all of it.

However, we can make powerful choices, based on an assessment of the range of problems that interest us, to intervene in ways large or small to make a difference. This is vastly better than fearfully deluding ourselves and/or making token gestures.

Moreover, powerful choices are vital in this world. We face a vast array of violent challenges, some of which threaten near-term human extinction.

In this context, it is unwise to leave responsibility for getting us out of this mess to others, and particularly those insane elites whose political agents (who many still naively believe that we ‘elect’) so demonstrably fail to meaningfully address any of our major social, political, economic and environmental problems.

If you are interested in gaining greater insight into violent and dysfunctional human behaviour, and what you can do about it, you might like to read ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’ mentioned above.

And if you are inclined to declare your own willingness to accept some responsibility for addressing these violent and dysfunctional behaviours, you might like to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World‘ and to join those participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

You might have had a good laugh at some of the examples above. The real challenge is to ask yourself this question: where do I evade responsibility? And to then ponder how you will take responsibility in future.

Roberto J. Burrowes website is at http://robertjburrowes.wordpress.com and his email address is flametree@riseup.net

The statements and views mentioned in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of IPS.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/the-delusion-i-am-not-responsible/feed/ 0
Human Security a Must in a Chaotic, Confused World – Japanhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/human-security-a-must-in-a-chaotic-confused-world-japan/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=human-security-a-must-in-a-chaotic-confused-world-japan http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/human-security-a-must-in-a-chaotic-confused-world-japan/#comments Mon, 11 Jul 2016 12:07:10 +0000 Baher Kamal http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145991 By providing an opportunity for high-level policy dialogue, TICAD has become a major global platform through which Asian and African nations, as well as international stakeholders, can collaborate to promote Africa’s development. Credit: UN Photo/Tim McKulka

By providing an opportunity for high-level policy dialogue, TICAD has become a major global platform through which Asian and African nations, as well as international stakeholders, can collaborate to promote Africa’s development. Credit: UN Photo/Tim McKulka

By Baher Kamal
ROME, Jul 11 2016 (IPS)

The question is simple and the answer, short: does eating more mean being better nourished?… Not Necessarily!

On this, top United Nations agencies dealing with food and health have set a clear definition: food security implies access by all people at all times to the food needed for a healthy life, while nutrition security means not only access to adequate diet, but also to essential health services, safe water and sanitation, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

But simple as it is, this equation is too often neglected. Why? An answer can probably be found in a recent statement by Shinichi Kitaoka, President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), which is in charge of executing Japan’s Official development Assistance to more than 120 developing countries.

“The modern world is becoming increasingly chaotic. Problems related to conflict, extremism, poverty, disparities, infectious diseases and natural disasters are threatening the lives and dignity of many people across national borders and around the world,” he said. Then he highlighted “human security” as one of the world’s top priorities.

But what does food and nutrition have to do with all this?

Take the case of Africa as one of the most impacted continents by violence and catastrophes.
On the one hand, “human security” is strongly linked to food and nutrition security. In fact, on-going man-made disasters—such as armed conflicts and climate change—are the very direct cause of the current, unprecedented levels of human suffering. The United Nations estimates that the number of refugees, migrants and forcibly displaced at home has now hit all-high record: 160 million worldwide.

On the other hand, the African continent, which is home to nearly 1,2 billion inhabitants in 54 countries, has been suffering the impact of the meteorological phoneme know as “El Niño”, which has caused droughts and floods that has devastated harvests and livestock.

El Niño is the term used to describe the warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs, on average, every three to seven years. It raises sea surface temperatures and impacts weather systems around the globe so that some places receive more rain while others receive none at all, often in a reversal of their usual weather pattern.

The lack of food and nutrition security and how to mitigate it, will be on the table of the JICA promoted Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) on August 27-28 in Nairobi. This will be the first time TICAD is held in Africa since its inception in 1993.

Logo of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) Credit: TICAD VI. https://ticad6.net/#

Logo of the Sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD-VI) Credit: TICAD VI. https://ticad6.net/#


The conference, which is expected to attract over 6,000 participants from Africa and Japan and various international organisations, will discuss the so-called Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA). Health, water and sanitation will be top on TICAD VI’s agenda, along with industrialisation and social stability.

No wonder—according to a FAO and WHO report, Africa is one of most critically in need of nutrition development. Not only: nearly 30 per cent of worlds’ undernourished populations live in Africa.

IFNA aims at strengthening collaboration with African governments and stakeholders, to “eradicate malnutrition in Africa” with emphasis on a practical and people-centred approach.

The Initiative, which was announced on April 29 at the FAO meeting of the Working Group on Nutrition of the Committee on World Food Security, also aims at accelerating the implementation of African food and nutrition policies in alliance with civil society, private corporates, international organisations, and development aid agencies, among others.

In 2015, the international community agreed upon the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at a United Nations summit and took a first step toward realising a world in which no one is left out of the benefits of development. According to Kitaoka, the philosophy of “human security,” which Japan has advocated, is incorporated throughout the SDGs.

In the view of development aid experts, IFNA is a “win-win” deal.

In fact, while the continent benefits from IFNA, for Japan, which largely depends upon its relationships with the rest of the world, it is a matter of national interest for the world to be peaceful, stable and prosperous,” said JICA chief. “If Japan can put its experience and expertise to work for world poverty reduction and economic growth, Japan’s presence will grow.”

Shinichi Kitaoka went on to say that JICA believes it is important to promote international cooperation that contributes to Japan’s own growth and development by implementing development cooperation that encompasses various actors, including the Japanese government, local governments, private companies, civil society, universities and research institutes.

For this, JICA will work to strengthen the strategic aspect and comprehensiveness of its cooperation, he announced:

“Specifically, we will mainly develop the following themes based on the 2015 Development Cooperation Charter: 1) quality growth and mitigating disparities, 2) promoting peace-building and the sharing of universal values, 3) strengthening operational engagement on global issues and the international aid agenda, 4) expanding and deepening strategic partnerships, and 5)

On this, increasing agricultural production and productivity on a sustainable basis are effective tools in reducing hunger and malnutrition through food and nutrition security and essential for poverty reduction and sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

In the specific case of Africa, ensuring food and nutrition security appear to be a must.

According to European Union-UN Children Fund (UNICEF) action plan, in Sub-Saharan Africa, 54 million children under five years of age are suffering from chronic malnutrition. And more than a third of children under 5 years of age in Africa are stunted.

“This is a silent emergency with devastating and far-reaching effects, which is robbing millions of children of their full potential for growth and development”, EU-UNICEF say.

For its part, the Office of Special Adviser on Africa (OSAA) confirms the fact that many African countries have sustained high growth rates for a decade, even weathering the global financial crisis of 2008 in impressive fashion.

“However, Africa still faces various economic challenges; accelerate the pace of poverty reduction, narrow income gaps, create decent jobs, especially for youth, build infrastructure, and promote regional integration.”

OSAA is one of the five co-organisers of TICAD, along with the Government of Japan, the African Union Commission (AUC), the World Bank, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Meanwhile, the African industrialisation process will be also high on TICAD VI agenda.

But why exactly does Africa need industrialisation now? “First: To accelerate the pace of poverty reduction and narrow income gaps by increasing labour productivity,” Kitaoka answers.

The second aspect is to create more decent and productive jobs, especially for youth.

The fact is that Africa needs to meet growing demand for youth employment, with 18 million new jobs to be created every year in Africa from 2010 to 2035, the International Monetary Fund estimates. There are few sectors outside labour-intensive manufacturing that have been capable of absorbing such large numbers of would-be workers, it says.

The third aspect, according to JICA’s chief, is to mitigate the impact of external economic shocks, such as sharp declines in the prices of oil and other commodities.

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/human-security-a-must-in-a-chaotic-confused-world-japan/feed/ 0
International Is out and National Is Again Backhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/international-is-out-and-national-is-again-back/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=international-is-out-and-national-is-again-back http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/international-is-out-and-national-is-again-back/#comments Fri, 08 Jul 2016 15:50:43 +0000 Roberto Savio http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145977 Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.]]>

Roberto Savio, founder and president emeritus of the Inter Press Service (IPS) news agency and publisher of Other News.

By Roberto Savio
ROME, Jul 8 2016 (IPS)

A sign of the time is that Germany is raising a revolt against the President of the European Commission, Jeam-Claude Juncker, whom Chancellor Angela Merkel imposed in 2014 after a strong fight with David Cameron, then a powerful British PM. The group of Visograd, , formed by Poland, Hungary, Slovaquia and the Czech Republic, which resurged from ashes, to become an anti Brussels voice, has requested to bring back the Commission under the authority of the States. When Merkel organized a meeting of the leaders of the six original founders of the EU, in Berlin, she invited Donald Tusk, the President of the Council, but not Jean-Claude Juncker, who is the President of the Commission. And Wolfgang Schauble, the German minister of Finance, has launched an appeal: “it is time to bring back Brussels under the control of the states. “

Roberto Savio

Roberto Savio

It is curious that the debate on Brexit has completely ignored the creeping action to end the supranational character of the EU. What is in process, in fact, is something of extreme importance: the end of internationalism and return to the national. And that is one of the fruits of globalization…. Japan, China and Russia are at the peak of nationalism..

Globalization is not a neutral term. The globalization that was imposed after the collapse of the Berlin Wall was a straight jacket as strong as those of the ideologies, which were accused to bring to the Second World War, and fifty years of Cold War. It presented the market as the only basis for society, with the elimination of any national barrier for free flow of capitals and trade. It did shun, as obsolete, the values of social justice, social institutions, (like welfare); the state was seen as an impediment, a problem, not as a solution.. The new values were, for instant, individual success over community values. Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher changed the direction of the world. Thatcher famously said: “There is no such a thing as society. There are only individuals”. Reagan originally even wanted to eliminate the ministry of education….

Well, now every journalist is discovering that Brexit and Donald Trump are the result of the revolt of the victims of globalization. It is important to note that they usually go to the right, except few cases, like Podemos in Spain or Bertie Sanders in the US. Sanders decries that in “the last 15 years, nearly 60.000 factories, and more than 4.8 million well-paid manufacturing jobs have disappeared, because disastrous trade agreements have encouraged corporations to move to low-wage countries”, He goes against a taboo that elite and mainstream economist do not even discuss. Free trade is an engine of growth., and statistics are there to prove it. The problem, continue Sanders “is that median male worker makes now $726 dollars less than in 1973, and the median female worker is making $1.1.54 less than in 2007. And nearly 47 million Americans live now in poverty. Meanwhile, the top one-tenth of 1 per cent of successful Americans, now owns as much as the bottom 90 per cent. The wealthiest 62 people on this planet own as much wealth as the bottom half of the world population: about 3.6 billion people. “

Sanders put us to a dilemma: “ the change will come from demagogy, bigotry and anti-immigrant sentiments, xenophobia and populism unless the new President will vigorously support international cooperation that brings peoples of the world closer, reduce hypernationalism and decreases the possibility of war: and above all, that will protect working people, not just those from the elite. “

So the problem is not that globalization brings growth. The problem is that the State has left the market unregulated, without any redistribution. Why those left out would vote for the conventional wisdom of the system, when they are victims?

The engine of this kind of growth has been Greed. Now, the fear that Sanders evoks is already well installed in Europe. Migrations have been fuelling it, in the middle of fears of different nature, from terrorism to climate change, from bad food to declining social services. It is easy to ride fear and resentment, and Europe knows this well: it happened in the thirties, and Hitler left a Europe destroyed.

A sequence of referendum is now hastening the demise of democracy. In the Brexit, 70% of people voted. That means that 36% made the majority: one citizen out of three. According to the European Council of External Relations, there are 32 referendum called in 18 countries of the EU. And there are now 47 political parties who share anti-Europe positions. In a third of the 28th member countries, they are part of the government’s coalitions, and their exit has been pushing the traditional parties to adopt some of their position. Referendums amount to a veto. EU will face a strong challenge from this process of vetocracy…but also the idea of internationalism will be the victim…

The idea behind internationalism, and more exactly international law, is based on the acceptance of principle and values under which citizens feels community and participation. Is on that basis that national entities agree to relinquish some of their sovereignty. They feel it expands the national consensus to treaties and agreements, which project their views and interests in a world of cooperation at international level. International law and cooperation were the new ideas, emerging from the ashes of the Second World War. United Nations was the most unprecedented device for lasting peace and cooperation: and little after, the idea of a European Union, and this as a supranational entity, not just a intergovernmental organization, like the UN. It was through the UN that the dangers of the Cold war were put under some kind of control. It was through the UN that the process of decolonization was steered. The UN were the framework for the north-south relations in the world, and development its philosophy, with a sharing of international law as the instrument for dialogue, and social justice, participation and democracy, based on dialogue and cooperation, to make a lasting peace and human development the new achievement for humankind.

Well, all this went well, until in 1981 in the Summit of Cancun. Reagan and Thatcher brought back the idea that universal democracy was an unjust illusion. Regan asked to the other head of states, which had come to discuss how to advance cooperation: why my country should have the same rights that San Marino? Let us go back to a policy where countries could defend their interest without being bound by general principles and agreements. Since them, the UN lost its primacy. The great powers took away trade, one of the two engines of globalization. The other engine, finance, was never in New York, but in Washington. The Un was left only with the social issues, increasingly irrelevant, When Boutros Boutros-Ghali tried to bring back some power to the secretariat; his re-election as the secretary general of the UN was vetoed by the US. Same mechanism with Juncker…Boutros-Ghali was made a scapegoat by Bill Clinton, who was in his electoral campaign. The UN had organized an invasion in Somalia to bring peace and food. This was done under US request, US direction and US control.. The invasion backfired, with white American soldiers dead and dragged in the streets by a crowd of black people. Promptly, Boutros-Ghali was considered the responsible for the failure, with the US appearing as a victim of the UN. Juncker now is made responsible folr Brexit by Germany, whose fiscal policy and the imposition of austerity has disenchanted many of those who are now opting out from Europe.

The post-ideological world, which has accompanied globalization, has transformed political parties into machines of public opinion, directed to solve administrative problems. Citizens are deserting institutions without vision, where politicians seem interested in their perpetuation, and polling and marketing tools have substituted dialogue with citizens. Values have disappeared from the political debate. Global issues have left national parliaments more and more irrelevant. There has been no global response on finance (4 trillion dollars in fiscal paradises), which has no world regulatory body, and moves 40 times more money that the real economy of production and services. One exceptional response was a global response on the climate change, which is a real threat to human survival. But that response is clearly insufficient…

Traditional parties have tried to halt their decline by taking the banners of the new parties. . The best example is Austria, where the two traditional parties changed their position on immigration., claiming that they would not leave that banner to populism. The result was to legitimize xenophobia. The extreme right wing lost for only 36.000 votes, and a new election called for irregularities may be see now its victory .

It must be clear that during all those year an irresponsible game has been going on. If anything went wrong, was the EU fault. Anything that went right was the result of national policies. As any insider knows, is the Council, where member states are represented, which take decisions on strategy and policies. The Commission is basically an implementer…only the European Central Bank (with great irritation from Germany) and the European Court of Justice (from which Cameron announced the UK wishes to withdraw, even before the Brexit,) have some super national power left. All the efforts of the member states have been to recover as much sovereignty as possible. And we are now obliged to write in Juncker defence…if he leaves it will be for the wrong reasons…

Anyhow after him, a weak guy as before, will appear. In the UN, the main candidate is Irina Bokova, the outgoing DG of Unesco, much less impressive that all the other women who are candidates. So, to see where we are now, in the decline of internationalism: would today US pledge to fund 25% of the regular budget of the UN, as it did at its creation? Would the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be approved? And finally, would it be possible to undersign the Treaty of Rome, of 1947, where the vision of a United Europe was approved unanimously? Governments would be in difficulty to answer. Let us imagine the people…

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/international-is-out-and-national-is-again-back/feed/ 1
Murder in the Name of Faithhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/murder-in-the-name-of-faith/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=murder-in-the-name-of-faith http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/murder-in-the-name-of-faith/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2016 13:52:28 +0000 Zahid Hussain http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145959 By Zahid Hussain
Jul 7 2016 (Dawn, Pakistan)

A wave of terrorist attacks — from Istanbul to Bangladesh and Iraq to Saudi Arabia — has shaken the Muslim world. The deadly week has left hundreds of people dead and wounded. The militant Islamic State group (IS) has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks and others clearly seem to be inspired by the group that has now established itself as the most lethal terrorist network with global reach.

zahidIt promised to make the holy month of Ramazan a pain for those who it considers ‘infidels’. Most of the victims of the terror attacks carried out in the name of Islam were Muslims.

These terrorist attacks came even as the militant group was being driven out of much of the territory under its control in Syria and Iraq, and marked a dramatic shift in its strategy to extend its terror war to other regions. While the suicide bombing in Baghdad appears to be in retaliation to the series of military setbacks received by IS over the past months, the attacks in Istanbul and Saudi Arabia signal a widening of the theatre of terror wars in the Middle East.

Editorial: Terror in the kingdom

The profiles of the Dhaka restaurant killers and those involved in Karachi’s Safoora bus carnage are similar.

Although IS has not claimed responsibility for those two attacks, suspicion leads to its role in them. Ironically, both Turkey and Saudi Arabia have in the past been blamed for providing indirect support to the Sunni militant group fighting the Shia-dominated governments in Iraq and Syria.

Most of the oil from IS-controlled territory in Iraq was reportedly smuggled to Turkey. Turkey’s border areas with Syria had become the main transit point for fighters from across the world joining IS. Some analysts likened the Turkish border region with Peshawar of the 1980s during the Afghan jihad against Soviet occupation, when the Pakistani city became the main base of holy warriors from across the Muslim world. The tightening of the border under international pressure seems to have turned the foreign militants against the Turkish state.

Turkish security officials have named a Chechen militant for masterminding the deadly attack on Istanbul that left more than 40 people dead. Chechens form one of the largest contingents of foreign fighters in the IS ranks in Syria and Iraq. The group has also been blamed for other terrorist attacks that have rocked Turkey over the past few months.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the series of coordinated suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia this week. But IS has been responsible for some recent terrorist attacks targeting Shia mosques and security personnel with devastating effect. This indicates the growing presence of the militant group in the country that the kingdom has been accused of patronising in its battle for influence in the region. With its growing internal and external problems, Saudi Arabia is much more vulnerable to the threat emanating from the same extremist elements.

But it is Bangladesh that has become the latest hotspot of rising Islamist militancy. The bloody siege in a restaurant in the nation’s capital underlines the evolution of IS activities beyond the Middle East. What is most disturbing is the growing influence of the militant group among the country’s youthful population.

The profiles of the six militants who hacked to death 20 people, mostly foreigners, inside a restaurant in an upscale neighbourhood in Dhaka last week fit into a new generation of militants influenced by IS. They were all young and products of elite schools — children of opportunity rather than deprivation. They came there to kill and die in the name of faith.

The gruesome carnage marked the scaling up in religion-based violence that has plagued Bangladesh for the past three years. Several liberal bloggers and intellectuals have been hacked to death in targeted individual attacks. Those convicted in the killing of bloggers also belonged to secular educational institutions. IS was quick to claim responsibility, posting pictures of the attackers online.

Not surprisingly the profiles of the Dhaka restaurant killers and those involved in Karachi’s Safoora bus carnage are quite similar — young, educated and from upper-middle class backgrounds. Both groups were home-grown militants influenced by IS ideology. They seem to have been radicalised by some local contact and powerful IS propaganda posted online. Religion is the most effective tool used by the terrorist group to manipulate the minds of young Muslims across the world.

Read: Bangladesh politician ‘stunned’ by son’s role in Dhaka carnage

As in Pakistan, IS may not have any organised structure in Bangladesh, but its footprint has been visible in the country for long. Some radical Islamist groups in Bangladesh are suspected to have established links with Al Qaeda and IS. Many Bangladeshi militants are reported to have joined the IS war in Iraq and Syria. The Dhaka attackers had reportedly disappeared from their homes months ago and their parents seemed to have no clue about the radicalisation of their children except for their becoming more religious. There is still no information about what they were doing during their disappearance.

Bangladesh is a new centre of militancy. The country has figured more frequently in the propaganda literature of Al Qaeda and IS. The IS central leadership may not have been directly involved in the Dhaka terrorist attack. The carnage, however, was part of the plan to escalate militant violence around the world. After France and Belgium, it is now the Muslim countries that are being targeted.

After losing much of the territory under its control, thereby endangering its dream of establishing a ‘caliphate’ that had attracted Islamist militants from across the globe, IS has now stepped up terrorist attacks in the Middle East and beyond. The latest bloodbath is yet another indicator of the grave threat the militant group poses to the world, particularly to the Muslim countries.

IS justifies its terrorist actions in the name of faith, declaring everyone who does not subscribe to its retrogressive ideology an ‘infidel’. There is a need for united action against the scourge before it is too late.

The writer is an author and journalist.
zhussain100@yahoo.com
Twitter: @hidhussain

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/murder-in-the-name-of-faith/feed/ 0
How Russia Will Use Brexit to Fight Sanctionshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-russia-will-use-brexit-to-fight-sanctions/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-russia-will-use-brexit-to-fight-sanctions http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-russia-will-use-brexit-to-fight-sanctions/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 11:26:23 +0000 Editor Manila Times http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145953 By Editor, The Manila Times, Philippines
Jul 6 2016 (Manila Times)

FORECAST
EU sanctions against Russia are all but guaranteed to remain in place through 2016, but Moscow will work in the second half of the year to get them eased in 2017.

Russia will capitalize on divisions in the European Union, which will only widen in the wake of Brexit, to oppose sanctions.

Moscow will step lightly, however, to avoid provoking its European rivals ahead of the next sanctions vote.

Europe is not the only region affected by Britain’s vote to leave the European Union. The decision will also have significant effects on Russia, especially where sanctions are concerned. As the Continent focuses on mitigating and managing the fallout from the Brexit vote, it probably will have fewer resources to devote to problems beyond the European Union, namely those in Ukraine, Syria and Nagorno-Karabakh — all areas where Russia plays a major role. The EU is also likely, at least in the immediate term, to have less interest in advancing its political and economic integration projects in the former Soviet periphery, such as the Eastern Partnership program.

Sanctions: Russia’s bugbear
Of particular import to Russia are the sanctions against it, which Moscow would like Europe to lift. The European Union first imposed the sanctions in March 2014, around the time that voters in Crimea resolved in a referendum to leave Ukraine and join Russia. The referendum was held in response to the February 2014 EuroMaidan uprising, which ousted then-President Viktor Yanukovich, an ally of Russia, in favor of a new pro-West government. When the European Union passed initial sanctions, they were limited to 21 people in Russia and Ukraine associated with the Crimea referendum. Beginning in May 2014, the European Union passed new sanctions related to the Russian-backed uprising in eastern Ukraine. These sanctions started as restrictive measures for associated individuals, but by September 2014 — when the fighting had intensified and after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down — they expanded to include companies and broader sectors of Russia’s economy. Since passing the measures unanimously, EU member states have reviewed them every six months, agreeing to extend sanctions in June 2015, in December 2015 and again in July 2016.

In upholding the sanctions, the European Union has maintained solidarity with the pro-West government in Ukraine and kept pressure on Russia for more than two years. But recent signs suggest that the bloc’s unity on the issue is becoming strained. Even before the Brexit vote, certain Russia-friendly countries in the European Union — including Italy, Greece and Hungary — pushed for greater discussion and debate on prolonging Russia sanctions. The countries’ leaders argued against an automatic extension of sanctions, and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi even co-hosted a recent economic forum with Russian President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. Of course, the pro-Russia sentiment has not sufficed to break the EU unanimity in an actual vote. Nonetheless, it reveals growing uncertainty over the future of the sanctions — regardless of whether Moscow complies with the Continent’s demands to implement the Minsk accords.

A budding opportunity

Nothing will test EU unity more than negotiating Britain’s exit from the bloc. Since the European Union has already decided to extend sanctions through the end of the year, discord on the Continent will not affect Russia immediately. It does, however, raise the possibility that the European Union’s long-standing consensus on sanctions could break by the time the next vote occurs, probably in January 2017. The United Kingdom was one of the biggest proponents of maintaining strong economic pressure on Russia. Now that its status in the bloc is uncertain, other countries may be more willing to diverge from its position — and Russia is ready to take advantage of any rifts. To that end, Moscow will likely encourage the exit campaigns of anti-EU figures such as France’s Marine Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders while also ramping up its charm offensive on countries more critical of sanctions.

Even so, Moscow will be cautious in exploiting the divisions, well aware that any major action it takes — whether backing a military offensive in Ukraine or trying too aggressively to shape EU decision-making — could backfire and strengthen EU resolve against it. Furthermore, Russia is not immune to the economic repercussions of the Brexit, which crashed global markets. Despite the sanctions, Russia and the EU continue to conduct trade and financial activity with each other, albeit at reduced levels. As it is, Russia’s economy is already suffering the effects of low oil prices; a major political and financial crisis spreading throughout all of Europe is not in Moscow’s interests. Therefore, even as Moscow tries to capitalize on Europe’s rifts in time for the next sanctions vote, it will be careful not to overexert its influence. Lead Analyst: Eugene Chausovsky

©2016 STRATFOR GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE

This story was originally published by The Manila Times, Philippines

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-russia-will-use-brexit-to-fight-sanctions/feed/ 0
Terror Will Not Define Ushttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/terror-will-not-define-us-2/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=terror-will-not-define-us-2 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/terror-will-not-define-us-2/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 11:00:40 +0000 Syed Eshamul Alam http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145950 By Syed Eshamul Alam
Jul 6 2016 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

“Everything will be alright in a few days again”, I said to my friend in a half hearted attempt to console her as I left her apartment. It was her answer which consumed me for the rest of the day. Motherly in nature and genuinely bereaved, she looked back at me and said “why should it be, why should we forget”.

 The Holey Artisan Bakery, a favorite among expats became the scene of terror on July 1 as twenty hostages, mostly foreign nationals, were killed when a group of militants stormed in with guns and swords in the popular Gulshan cafe. Star file photo.

The Holey Artisan Bakery, a favorite among expats became the scene of terror on July 1 as twenty hostages, mostly foreign nationals, were killed when a group of militants stormed in with guns and swords in the popular Gulshan cafe. Star file photo.

We had all gathered together the night before for dinner to say goodbye to a friend who happened to be a social worker visiting from Europe. She had come to work for the Acid Survivors Foundation. We all got together to celebrate her time in Bangladesh, the work she’s done and the lives she impacted.

It was a little after dinner that the phones of my friends’ began to buzz with Emergency messages from their respective embassies urging caution. At that moment the intensity of the situation was not yet apparent and we carried on with our usual conversations.

But as news outlets began to cover the incident, the severity of the situation came to light. We were left in a situation that far exceeded our sensibilities. With our hosts insisting on us staying back due to concerns for our security, we decided to stay the night.

As the night progressed we stayed fixated on the TV screen. Curious as to how the situation was being handled we were hooked to every little detail. At times disdain was voiced regarding the sensationalizing of the news coverage; nonetheless, we all stayed glued to the television.

Amidst all the feeble laughter and small talk, the gravity of the situation slowly began to sink in. Here I was, on a Saturday night stuck in a house with 15 or so people, 8 of them being expats, watching the unraveling of a hostage situation where foreigners and Bangladeshis were victims.

Slowly, as time passed, the irony of the events taking place caught on. While we watched on TV, a group of extremists planning to kill all those who were seemingly different from us; I sat there observing instead, the threads which bind all of us together.

There was a raging concern for all those stuck inside the bakery; friends, family, acquaintances or even strangers, it didn’t matter. We all prayed together for their safety; a group of people differing in religion, language, country and ethnicity. Not once was the issue of religion raised. Nor did anyone blame religion for this catastrophe. A silent agreement resonated in the room about the evils of extremism.

What stood out most for me was how every now and then someone would run off and go explaining to their parents, at home or abroad, that they were alright. We were all adults but still children in the eyes of our parents. Children in the eyes of God. How much different could we possibly be?

Tired and strained we all decided to go to sleep after Sehri knowing little of what awaited us in the latter part of the day. As the news of the morning raid into the compound broke, we again were hooked on the television. There wasn’t much information of substance that was shared so it did little to appease the apprehension of what lay ahead. We watched as news varied between reports of the rescue of 12 to 14 people. There was no mention of the fate of others. Another glance around the room revealed the shift from a look of concern to one of desolation, till finally someone asked that the news be turned off. An ominous silence fell upon the room. We knew what had happened would have a lasting impact on the country, but maybe what preceded that was the concern about what to do next. Something as primal as, how do we go home?

I tried to make sense of the scurry of emotions which fluttered through my head. The initial sentiment was one of shame. I felt that I owed an apology. I felt that as a nation we would be burdened by this heinous act. But a little reflection revealed that that cannot be the case.

As a strong nationalist I believed that I along with everyone I have come in contact with embody the ethos of our country; which entails a sense of inclusion, acceptance of diversity and respect for religious freedom. There is a unanimous sense of empathy for all lives lost, civilians and defense forces. Overwhelming support for all those affected is being voiced out everywhere. It begs the question then, why should we as a nation let a group of a few extremists dictate the sentiments of the country?

It is no secret that extremism is a growing concern in the country, but we have at our disposal the strongest tool to battle it. Extremism is a mindset and the flames of it cannot be blown away with guns and tanks. It can only be contained and eradicated through educating people on religion and understanding of inclusion. It is time and again that we forget that Prophet Muhammamed (Pbuh) governed over the city of Medina with a diversely ethnic and religious population. It is the natural convulse in fear to what is different and a natural inclination to endear all that is similar.

It is our reaction to this incident that will define us as a nation. It would display the character of the country as a whole to the international community. Overcoming the natural instinct of anger, I realised that what we need now most is our pride in our nature of “Bengaliness”; the overly passionate, the extremely loving and excessively accommodating people. We stand together to show our empathy to the families of those who we lost, our love for them and promise to act on this monstrosity.

This act does not define us a nation. This incident does not display our character as a nation. It certainly does not reduce our capacity to love as a nation. We stand together in prayer for the lost ones and for our country. We shall overcome this menace with what they fear most, Love. #PrayForBangladesh.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/terror-will-not-define-us-2/feed/ 0
Elites, Expats and Enclaveshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/elites-expats-and-enclaves/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=elites-expats-and-enclaves http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/elites-expats-and-enclaves/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 10:26:01 +0000 Rafia Zakaria http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145945 By Rafia Zakaria
Jul 6 2016 (Dawn, Pakistan)

At the end of a hot and exacting month of fasting, Eid-ul-Fitr this year arrives on the heels of a ghastly number of terrorist attacks. In the week gone by, travellers have perished in Istanbul, diners in Dhaka, shoppers in Baghdad, and several people in three separate blasts in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia the other day.

The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.

The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.

While the militant Islamic State group has not taken responsibility for all of these attacks — it has for some — most appear to be their doing, and are part of a grisly Ramazan special of mayhem and misery that the militants have decided to unleash on Muslims of the world. In the midst of so much death and such vast stores of tragedy, there are big questions to be answered: what can possibly be their intent behind such bloodlust, such bold theatrics of brutality?

There are, of course, few answers to the troubling questions posed by such tragedies as of the past week. Several of the attacks involved suicide bombers, many as yet unidentified, men who shot and detonated, taking with them the lives and loves of so many others.

In many parts of the developing world where security is an issue and social inequity is rampant, there is deep resentment of those who access and partake in the security and privilege of enclaves.

Of all the attacks this week, the one in Dhaka stands out; due to the amount of time the attackers spent with their victims and the sorting and selection process of deciding who to kill and who to set free. According to reporting by The New York Times (and survivor testimonies), the attackers — now known to be well educated — arrived carrying grenades and firearms. One of the first things they did was to separate foreigners from Bangladeshis, asking everyone their nationality. The kitchen staff and other natives were locked in a bathroom.

As has now been recounted, the dead included Italians, Japanese and Indians. One Bangladeshi Muslim man, dining with an Indian friend and a Bangladeshi-American girl, was killed with the rest; the man, Faraz Hossain, chose not to desert his friends even though the attackers had permitted him to leave.

In the details of the attack on the Holey Artisan cafe, who was targeted and how and what sort of communications the attackers had with their hostages, are clues as to how the Islamic State capitalises on long-standing resentments in developing countries to recruit fighters for its agenda. As has been mentioned, the cafe was located in the diplomatic enclave of Dhaka and was not too far from the US embassy.

The area may not be one where many Bangladeshis would feel comfortable or fit in; to belong, one has to be an expatriate or a member of the country’s elite. Unsurprisingly, the attackers were chosen for their ability to pass as ‘elites’, to pepper their conversations with English, to exude the entitlement of those that eat expensive bread in a rice-growing nation.

This pointed class dimension — of elites, expats and their enclaves — was not limited to the selection of the venue in Dhaka. The first picture of the carnage released by the IS ‘news agency’ Amaq showed a table still set with plates of food half-eaten. Next to the plates of food were apparently glasses of red wine. On the floor, killed first by bullets and then cut up with daggers, lay the dead consumers of the repast, chosen to be killed because they were foreign, non-Muslim and drinking wine in Ramazan.

Most of the Muslims were not harmed; the kitchen staff was instructed to prepare tea for them and later sehri so that they could eat before beginning the next day’s fast. As an excuse for the fact that they were killing so many, the attackers told the living that they too were going to die soon.

The resentment towards foreigners, drinking and eating expensive food in cordoned-off portions of a country percolates in many postcolonial states.

In other parts of the developing world where security is an issue and social inequity is rampant, there is deep resentment of those who access and partake in the security and privilege of enclaves. There have even been instances where the artificially maintained ecosystems of such enclaves have been subject to scrutiny, judgment — and occasionally attack — by the larger populace. In this hotbed, the line between protecting sovereignty and ceding tolerance becomes blurred.

Postcolonial populations all bear the scars of exclusion and chafe against the dilutions of their sovereignty by the intrusions of more powerful foreigners. Given this, is there any way that true security can be arranged for the representatives who manage relationships between the wealthy and the wanting? As legitimate as the scrutiny often is, as much as it exposes entrenched local and global inequities, it also stokes some unwanted consequences. It is co-opted by outfits such as the Islamic State group, that prey on and exploit the legitimate grievances of the disenfranchised, while indoctrinating those who only perceive themselves to be so.

Deploying existing resentments and insecurities, class-based exclusions and snubs for its own nefarious agenda, is proving to be the ace in the Islamic State’s deck of brutalities. One hand in this continuing game was played in Dhaka. By freeing the locals while killing foreigners, they present a grotesque and bloodthirsty caricature of justice — the specifics of which reveal just how small qualms can be magnified by terrorists’ bloodlust into excuses for carnage.

The writer is an attorney teaching constitutional law and political philosophy.
Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2016

This story was originally published by Dawn, Pakistan

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/elites-expats-and-enclaves/feed/ 0
Five Years After Independence South Sudan Faces Myriad Challengeshttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/five-years-after-independence-south-sudan-faces-myriad-challenges/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=five-years-after-independence-south-sudan-faces-myriad-challenges http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/five-years-after-independence-south-sudan-faces-myriad-challenges/#comments Wed, 06 Jul 2016 00:37:47 +0000 Lyndal Rowlands http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145934 http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/five-years-after-independence-south-sudan-faces-myriad-challenges/feed/ 0 Farage: Populist who Pushed Britain to Brexithttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/farage-populist-who-pushed-britain-to-brexit/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=farage-populist-who-pushed-britain-to-brexit http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/farage-populist-who-pushed-britain-to-brexit/#comments Tue, 05 Jul 2016 22:03:58 +0000 Alice Ritchie http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145944 By Alice Ritchie
Jul 5 2016 (Manila Times)

London: Nigel Farage devoted his career to campaigning for Britain to leave the European Union, a goal that once seemed impossible but which he helped achieve with an unashamedly populist message.

Farage resigned as leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) on Monday, saying the seismic vote to leave the 28-member bloc on June 23 “means that my political ambition has been achieved”.

The 52-year-old is a political outsider who repeatedly failed to win election to the British parliament, but his role in securing Brexit has secured his place in history.

It was partly to counter the electoral threat of UKIP that Prime Minister David Cameron called the vote in 2013, and Farage played a high-profile role in the campaign—despite being excluded from the official “Leave” group.

Farage—a member of the European Parliament since 1999—led the Brexit agenda with a relentless focus on ending mass migration from within the EU, and by urging the public to give the “political elites” a bloody nose.

The former commodities trader cultivated the image of a man of the people, often being photographed with a beer in his hand, and his message to “take back control” resonated with many older, white, blue-collar voters.

He toured Britain relentlessly during the referendum campaign, arriving at each location on a battle bus that blasted out the theme to wartime film “The Great Escape.”

But he was frequently accused of taking his populist message too far, notably with a poster showing a queue of brown-skinned migrants under the headline “Breaking Point”, which was condemned by other “Leave” campaigners.

He also caused controversy by suggesting women in Britain may be at risk of mass sex attacks by migrants. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said he was “giving legitimization to racism.”

Ultimately, however, Farage triumphed—and the joy at winning was apparent when he returned to the European Parliament after the Brexit vote.

“When I came here 17 years ago and I said I wanted to lead a campaign to get Britain to leave the EU, you all laughed at me. But you are not laughing now,” he said.

‘Fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists’
In his 10 years as leader, Farage has almost single-handedly made UKIP a major force in British politics, even though it only has one MP.

Cameron once dismissed it as a party of “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists,” but in the last general election it won almost 13 percent of the vote.

Farage was born in 1964 to an affluent family in Kent, southeast England. His father was a stockbroker and an alcoholic and his parents divorced when he was five.

He was educated at one of England’s top private schools, Dulwich College in London, where he says his headmaster saw him as “bloody-minded and difficult.”

Rather than attending university, he followed his father into the City of London, where he became a commodities trader.

Farage has four children—two boys by his first wife and two girls with his German second wife Kirsten.

Having supported the Conservatives since his school days, he joined UKIP in 1993 as a founder member and was elected to the European Parliament in 1999, aged 35.

Farage became UKIP’s leader in 2006 before standing down in 2009 and then being re-elected the following year, when the party’s ascent really began.

He has repeatedly failed to win election to Britain’s House of Commons, but has survived a string of personal misfortunes—a serious car accident and testicular cancer as well as a plane crash.

Farage is quitting UKIP but indicated he would remain an MEP, saying he would be watching the negotiation of Britain’s exit from Brussels “like a hawk.”

He offered his services to “other independence movements” across the continent, saying he was “certain that you haven’t seen the last country that wants to leave the EU.”

AFP

This story was originally published by The Manila Times, Philippines

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/farage-populist-who-pushed-britain-to-brexit/feed/ 0
A Night of Terrorhttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/a-night-of-terror/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-night-of-terror http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/a-night-of-terror/#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2016 19:27:54 +0000 Adnan R Amin http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145926 By Adnan R Amin
Jul 4 2016 (The Daily Star, Bangladesh)

So, a night of absolute terror preceded the glorified Night of Power this Ramadan. And it has left Dhaka in a stupor; in a dazed state of disbelief and heartbreak. There is talk of vengeance in the air; and there is the call to patience. There are defenses of creed and vilification of entire traditions. There is evaluation of the response time and criticism of the PR spin on casualties. There are subtle attempts to claim some connection to the tragedy, by professing either geographic or personal proximity to the place, or the people involved. But what is missing is clarity. ‘Why did this happen? Why us?’

People help an injured person after gunmen attacked the Holey Artisan Café. Photo: AP

People help an injured person after gunmen attacked the Holey Artisan Café. Photo: AP

This is the intended effect of Terrorism.

This piece was written Saturday night, so by now new developments will have been reported. Defense analysts will have speculated without end and media will have ceaselessly eulogised victims for the extra click. Claims will have been made about the alien beliefs and social standing of the attackers. Perhaps, our national response, by next week, will have been ‘business as usual’. Either way, it does not matter – because a new reality has been revealed to us, which exists and will continue to exist regardless of how we react to it. As Bangladesh mourns the victims of this attack, it must also mentally and strategically prepare for the next one.

A condemnation of the perpetrators, though socially warranted, is meaningless. It is self-serving. It is a symbolic shield against a real, unsheathed cutlass. Then again, the audience too is a victim in this and its need for venting, pontificating and consolation must not be ignored. However, this should not preclude a social response strategy, be it through community-based counterterrorism or through reclamation of traditional values.

But the other party central to staging a bloody spectacle must not be beyond reproach. Mainstream media’s performance during the night of terror has been outrageous and outstanding at the same time. Outrageous because reporters demonstrated zero professional training, no respect for tactical response preparations and little empathy for those thrust in harm’s way. What self-respecting reporter tries to interview injured policemen? What kind of a human being prioritizes ‘breaking’ hostage identities over protecting their lives? What kind of intellectual institutions don’t understand why televising security positions and tactical equipment may jeopardize security forces?

Media performance was also outstanding because reporters sensed the irrepressible public demand for inside scoops and gory details. Perhaps, this unholy interest in violence and death is universal: there is no denying that a violent spectacle on this scale is as inherently addictive as it is repulsive; that it triggers a macabre voyeurism, a certain brand of schadenfreude. Remember: when a thousand security experts mushroom all over the screens, Facebookers peddle new details and conspiracy theories and op-eds like this one start to frame and reframe the event – it is spurred on by the popular demand for meaning-making.

This is the target market for Terrorism.

The fourth wheel, so to speak, is the formal response system: comprising of researchers, strategists, intelligence agencies, anti-terrorism units and tactical equipment. Bangladeshi security forces acted with valiance. While their failure to prevent a heavily-armed squad’s entry into the heart of Dhaka may be baffling, and their initial lack of readiness criticised – there is no question that members of security forces put themselves in harm’s way when it mattered. The tragedy that transpired wasn’t from a lack of effort or dedication, but it may have been helped along by a lack of preparedness.

What may have been underwhelming was the management of information flow during this national crisis. It is strange that the media was allowed to broadcast from the scene for as long as it was. Despite the blackout, videos of trucks hauling military landing crafts were being telecast till after daybreak. On international media, there seemed to be little monitoring of or control over who was speaking for Bangladesh and in what capacity. As a result, US media, for example, managed to paint Bangladesh as ‘a failed state’, ‘right next to Pakistan’.

It is now easier to place Bangladesh in the radicalisation map and the global Islamist Terrorism narrative. Doubtless, this broad shift has its roots in geopolitics. But when was there a scenario where an attack wouldn’t be politicised? Theories will fly. Political analysts will connect it to geopolitical ambitions of larger nations. Loyalists will find anti-liberation elements in the mix. The global audience will see a natural, geographic progression in terrorist tactics. The opposition will view it as a government failure and the voyeur horde will treat it as a juicy spectacle. There are those who will take it as a loss of this city’s innocence and breakdown of family structures, and yet others who will find in it the wrath of God. Each of these views is politically inspired and contributes something to the bearers’ individual/group interests.

For some years, we have seen the ‘War on Terror’ (WOT) manual being emulated in Bangladesh, where an ‘other’ is blamed for attacks on ‘us’ and the narrators retain exclusive right to the moral highground and legitimacy by controlling the interpretations. The tactic is to fight violence with greater violence, a questionable approach even when the enemy is an outsider. But could a Muslim majority country thus deal with violent radicalism? An important clue may have been revealed when RAB announced its intention to negotiate with the gunmen at Holey Artisan Bakery, a departure from WOT response protocol.

Perhaps, academics and security strategists should revisit if the Bush-administration’s tactics are adequate or even suitable for Bangladesh. To illustrate, there are cases where a single individual was connected (or separated by a degree) on social media to both victims and alleged terrorists. It would appear that the gunmen lived and breathed much closer than we expect(ed). Their socioeconomic status, social environment and operational tactics were also markedly different from that of ‘sleeper cells’ involved in recent targeted killings. These young men didn’t travel to Dhaka from far-flung districts, only to flee once they had struck. They grew up among us. They played with us on our fields. And then, something led them to that fateful night of terror. By then, they had crossed an invisible threshold and had no demands or statements left to make. Bloodshed was the only statement. This is not a language that we understand, but the gravity of the contents is lost on no one. Also not lost is that fact that such ideologies cannot germinate without nurturing.

Bangladesh is not a fertile breeding ground for radicalism. The key word here is ‘fertile’. There is no historical resentment or unjust wars, as there are in Iraq or Afghanistan. There are no ‘infidel rulers’ or sectarian conflicts. However, there are indeed young minds ready to be molded and influenced. And there is a glaring lack of exemplary role models. There seem to be social cracks, where tender emotions are being smelted into violent hatred. This is where social response must start.

Let me end with a little story. Family sources say that when one of the boys held hostage was spared his life, he refused to leave without his two friends. He demanded that the friends too be allowed to leave, and when refused, stayed back in that inferno. In the end, he paid the price with his life; but not before setting an example of and for us all. Let this boy remind us that at the end of the day, there’s no morality without courage, and no righteousness without mercy.

The writer is a strategy and communications consultant.

This story was originally published by The Daily Star, Bangladesh

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/a-night-of-terror/feed/ 0
How Rulers Affect Migration Measurement of Lifehttp://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-rulers-affect-migration-measurement-of-life/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=how-rulers-affect-migration-measurement-of-life http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-rulers-affect-migration-measurement-of-life/#comments Mon, 04 Jul 2016 18:21:27 +0000 Crispin Aranda http://www.ipsnews.net/?p=145921 By Crispin R. Aranda
Jul 4 2016 (Manila Times)

Will a Duterte administration change the migration pattern of Filipinos searching for a level playing field and a better life?

IF career criminals are stopped dead on their tracks, literally or otherwise—not just petty thieves, drug lords instead of drug users, criminal coddlers as opposed to only small-time hoods, plunderers and not just frontline government bribe takers;

CRISPIN R. ARANDA

CRISPIN R. ARANDA

If taipans and magnates, foreigners and local lackeys are forced to respect Philippine laws, provide decent jobs instead of endos;

If Filipino workers and professionals are adequately paid, allowed to regain productivity at work instead of wasting billions in traffic—then, there is hope that the 6,000-plus leaving daily to find overseas opportunities will decrease.

From the time export of manpower was devised as a safety valve against unemployment and lack of opportunities at home which, in turn, were fumes fueling social upheaval during and after the Ferdinand Marcos years, Filipinos have moved in increasing numbers to foreign shores in search of a better quality of life for at least those who have a life to live.

To a significant number, those who have less in life and even less in law, migrating simply becomes a means to survive.

Which countries offer a better quality of life than what Filipinos have endured before and after martial law?

To a layperson, Numbeo provides an easy comparison. Of course, Numbeo statistics are user-generated (just like Waze, the digital traffic navigator is) but to most, the statistics become eye-openers.

Numbeo explains that its “Quality of Life Index (higher is better) is an estimation of overall quality of life by using empirical formula, which takes into account purchasing power index (higher is better), pollution index (lower is better), house-price-to-income ratio (lower is better), cost of living index (lower is better), safety index (higher is better), health care index (higher is better), traffic commute time index (lower is better) and climate index (higher is better).”

For lack of formatting capability, the column titles of the accompanying table are described, so our readers can match the column with the matching numbers.

From the left, the first of 11 columns represents the Ranking, followed by the City, Qualify of Life, Purchasing Power, Safety, Health Care, and Cost of Living, Property-Price-to-Income Ratio, Traffic Commute, Pollution and Climate indices.

The quality of life is a prime consideration for Filipinos seeking permanent residency not just for themselves but, principally, for their children whom they would want to be spared from what appears to be an intractable trajectory to perpetual poverty.

Host-cities with the most number of Filipino permanent and temporary residents

rank_1

Where have Filipinos settled in search of better quality of life?
North America had been leading the favorite countries of choice for permanent residency. The five countries with permanent migration programs are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA.

It could be argued that the “special ties” between the Philippines and the United States, firmly entrenched by the establishment of a government, laws and education patterned after the US of A, allowed the Philippine kite to fly as far and high as the colonial power allowed it to.

The tie was gradually loosened, especially after the 50 years of Hollywood had run roughshod over the 400 years under Spain; when English became the language of business and education; and rock and roll, then rap, unplugged the kundiman from the musical charts.

Because the US and the subsequent countries of migrant destinations are driven by national interests, migration laws opened and closed as the economic and political situations require.

Mass migration to the US in the 19th century was a result of an earlier exodus of Europeans, separatist Puritans fleeing religious persecution from the Church of England, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Rock from which the United States was built.

Filipinos, on the other hand, came to know the post-Puritan Americans as replacement masters for the Spanish conquistadores: admirals and generals who snatched the victory from the Katipunan and declared the country its launching pad for Westernization of Asia.

At the time, America had a boundless need for people to man the frontier, build the tracks, protect boundaries as they are created by expansionism, get more people to populate the United States using the new entrants like canaries in a mine allowing America to “safely” search and expropriate gold, minerals, and whatever the US needed to satisfy its expansionary quest.

As inhabitants of a US territory, the Filipinos were regarded as US nationals until the creation of the Philippine commonwealth. Filipinos then could legally go to the US without a need for visas. In fact, they were already in the US without the four seasons.

The Federal government, meantime, started to craft laws defining who could come to America. The teeming masses had to be winnowed: convicts and prostitutes were the first to be barred by the Act of Aug. 3, 1882, allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to establish a tax of 50 cents per immigrant.

1882 also witnessed the creation of the US quota based on national origin—the Chinese Exclusion Act (which prohibited the import of contractual foreign labor) repealed only in 1943.

To strengthen its foothold in its new Asian territory, the United States created the Commonwealth of the Philippines. From 1935 to 1946, this administrative body laid down the foundation for a Philippine Republic and its “independence.” It was during this period that scions of the Philippine elite were sent to the US as student pensionados, to learn the ABCs of USA governance.

After the grant of “independence” on July 4, 1946, Filipinos were only able to go to the US by obtaining the appropriate temporary and permanent resident visas. July 4 of every year is now celebrated as Filipino-American Friendship Day after Independence Day had been reinstated to June 12, a belated and begrudging admission that the Philippines had declared itself freed from the Spanish colonial masters.

With the arrival of information superhighway, Filipinos got caught in the web of migration, discovering other destinations from actual and digital testimonials of those who have set foot and taken residency in other shores.

Canada emerged as a viable and attractive destination, given its proximity to the United States. The Commonwealth states, including the former colonial power—United Kingdom of Great Britain—showed up in the migration horizon.

The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) Stock Estimate of Overseas Filipinos shows the number of kababayan (with temporary or permanent residency) in the leading countries of migration as of Dec. 2012:
country_-2

The tables show that while Australia is only the fifth country with the most number of Filipino permanent residents, Canberra and Sydney are on the top of cities with the best quality of life index.

On the other hand, despite having a low quality of life index (and the sorry state of human rights in the country), Saudi Arabia is second only to the United States as the top destination for Filipinos. It should be explained that those in the KSA are mostly overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), whose main reason for being there is the need for employment and better wages.

The same is true with the rest of five of the 10 country-destinations: United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, which all host mostly OFWs. In fact, OFWs in Saudi Arabia could be permanent temporary workers in the Middle East without the ability to obtain lawful permanent residency and citizenship pathways.

Vancouver and Toronto, despite being 23rd and 39th in the Quality of Life Index, are home to a significant number of Filipinos in Canada—which, in turn, is second only to the US in terms of the numbers of lawful permanent residents.

Oh, Davao beats Manila as the better city to live in if quality of life is to be the basis for migration.

In fact, migration to Davao has started, with the daily procession of government officials (turncoats mostly) and the business community seeking audience with and blessing of President Rody Duterte—magnates, taipans and lackeys of foreigners owning public utility companies in the Philippines despite Constitutional ban.

The Duterte administration could then be good for domestic migration, but bad for airlines that would be losing Filipino passengers bound for work or permanent residency destinations.

Amazing, indeed, how migration could be measured by a ruler’s political will.

This story was originally published by The Manila Times, Philippines

]]>
http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/07/how-rulers-affect-migration-measurement-of-life/feed/ 0