The Nuclear Imbroglio
Readers of our July
SOUTH AFRICA report will have seen the evidence of what is being
called “Israel's Worst-Kept Secret,” apartheid-era documents researched from
South African archives painting a fairly conclusive picture.
A well informed U.S.author is standing by claims that Israel offered to
sell nuclear warheads to South Africa during the apartheid regime, despite
denials by Israel's then-defence minister, now-president Shimon Peres, that the
accusation has "no basis in reality". Published in May, Sasha Polakow-Suransky's
"The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's Secret Relationship with Apartheid South
Africa", presents first-hand evidence of the nuclear warhead offer from Peres to
South Africa's defence minister P. W. Botha in 1975. Botha served as prime
minister and was the first executive state president of South Africa from 1984
to 1989. Suranksy, the senior editor of “Foreign Affairs”, combed through more
than 7,000 pages of formerly secret documents from the South African government
archive after filing the South African equivalent of a Freedom of Information
Act (FOIA), a promotion of access to information act. The Israeli
government attempted to block release of the documents to Suransky but was
unsuccessful. Given their denial later, the fact that they attempted to block
publication, hardly strengthens their case.
The substance of Suransky's claim is drawn from the minutes of a top-secret
meeting between Peres and Botha on March 31, 1975. Israel has never admitted to
possessing nuclear weapons, although it is widely believed to have a substantial
arsenal. The uncovered documents provide the earliest supporting evidence that
the country has long been nuclear-armed.
The two countries' military technology collaboration is well documented over
several decades - "almost until the eve of Mandela's inauguration", according to
Suransky. He asserts that co-operation continued despite Israel's public
statements denouncing the apartheid regime. In fact, comparisons between South
Africa's apartheid government and current Israeli relations with its Palestinian
inhabitants have been gaining momentum in recent years and will no doubt be
exacerbated by the widely- criticised flotilla incident that occurred on May 31.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's 2007 book, "Peace: Not Apartheid", sparked
the debate comparing the states, and was met with vehement condemnation by the
noisy pro-Israel supporters. Suranksy draws this comparison as well, noting
similarities in resettlement initiatives, redefined citizenship policies, and
the creation of slum conditions. Most relevant, though, is his comment on the
future implications of the disproportionate population increase of Palestinians
in Israel. Eventually, if growth continues at its current rate, Palestinians
will become the majority group in Israel, and Jews the minority. As was the case
in apartheid South Africa, the minority will rule the majority. Suransky
characterises his comparison between the governments as "inexact", but asserts
"there are similarities". "Israeli officials should take this as a warning," he
says, "rather than a threat."
…and India, and Pakistan?
Another event involving nuclear armaments held by non-signatories of the Nuclear
arms non-proliferation pact was our report in
INDIA again in
our last months issue, of a nuclear deal between India and Japan. It just drew
attention to the fact that India and its northern neighbour
have nuclear weaponry and neither are signatories of the non-proliferation pact.
So let’s look at Iran. That nation has no nuclear weapons and is a signatory of
the non-proliferation pact. Is it lethally quarrelsome like India and Pakistan
undoubtedly have been with each other? No! It was involved in a horrific war
with Saddam’s Iraq in which Saddam’s forces attacked the Iranians and used
poison gas supplied by the west, but neither side had nuclear, so at least that
horror was averted. But otherwise in terms of clandestine nuclear weapons a la
Israel, until the loudmouth president Ahmedinejad started asserting his
anti-Israeli line, there really has been ‘no case to answer’ for Iran’s previous
leaders. But the suspicion is widespread that
IRAN is now
seeking to produce a nuclear capability themselves. They agree that they are,
but maintain that it is civil nuclear power which they seek to generate, as do
many nations, and which they are fully entitled to do, under the
non-proliferation treaty. Naturally the IAEA are on their case and will
undoubtedly do as it is charged, by monitoring the nuclear resource that IRAN is
working on to ensure, as best they may, that it is not in breach of the treaty.
Of course the intelligence agencies of several interested countries are also
engaged, and it is principally Israeli intelligence who paint the bleakest
picture. US intelligence after their coruscating errors over
weaponry, which the subsequent invasion showed to be non-existent, have been
much more circumspect about
IRAN. No doubt
they are now fairly resistant to intelligence product that is less than
copper-bottomed, particularly that which emanates as before, from Israeli
The bottom line on this highly focused continuing international scrutiny
surely is that IRAN
is not going to be able to produce a nuclear armoury without anyone noticing.
The watchdogs are on the case, the trip wires are set.
It will be remembered that when AQ.Khan the Pakistani engineer and ‘father’ of
the Pak nuclear bomb was proved, almost certainly with the collusion of the
upper tiers of the Pakistani military, to have made commercial nuclear
‘know-how’ and equipment deals with North Korea and Libya, this was generally
regarded internationally as the ultimate nuclear sin, as deliberate
proliferation probably was and is. Yet for national political reasons AQ Khan
was officially pardoned in
has been kept incommunicado from western interrogation ever since,
notwithstanding that he in return for money, spread the nuclear contagion.
So here we have a cast of characters involved in nuclear scandals. North
Korea who resigned from the non-proliferation treaty and have demonstrated that
they have been able to build a nuclear device, (perhaps thanks to AQ Khan).
There is Pakistan who are nuclear-armed and have been party to the spread of the
nuclear virus. India also is nuclear armed and these two South Asian countries
have been to war with each other five times in the last fifty years. The nuclear
status is a fait accompli in all these cases.
It is Iran however without a nuclear weapon that is
identified as the greatest threat – but to whom? Its neighbours in the Gulf are
Sunni Moslems as distinct from Iranian Shi’ites, but much business is done and
there is a lot of traffic in citizens coming and going between these nations.
Saudi Arabia is the very ground on which the Prophet lived and taught, and is
now characterised by the strict Wahhabi Sunni orthodoxy, the opposite pole in
theological Islamic terms from the Iranians. But these nations have co-existed
for a very long time. Saudi has the nuclear protection of Pakistan leaving aside
the USA, and so Iran, even if they had the capability which they do not, are not
going to bring down retribution on themselves by any nuclear attack on Saudi
That leaves Israel - the military superpower in the
middle-east, not solely because of its efficient armed services but simply
because it is already a nuclear weapons state. But it was Israel, not AQ Khan
who sought to sell nuclear know-how to the South Africans, (unless you choose to
believe the unsupported denial). It is hardly credible that the CIA, MI6, etc
did not know about this, since it was documented in the South African State
archives – and it was and is their business to know about such matters.
At the time of the Shah, Israel and Iran were on good terms but this dwindled
away when the mullahs came to power. They are not geographical neighbours but
they clearly now are passionately, mutually antagonistic. Israel humiliated its
Arab enemies in past wars and Iran, although not an Arab state and not Sunni,
but the definitive Shia state, nevertheless took the humiliation as a
slight on Islam.
But this does not imply that Iran with a responsibility to keep its seventy
million citizens alive and its fragile economy running, would seek to bomb or
rocket Israel with a nuclear weapon, knowing that Israel has an armoury of these
weapons, let alone the US nuclear response to any such attack. It is open
knowledge that Israeli hawks would like to do to Iran what their predecessors
did to Iraq, by bombing the Iraqi nuclear reactor at Osirak in 1981 and thus
cancelling out the Iraqi nuclear effort. Of course the Iranians with such
foreknowledge have dispersed their nuclear-related plants around the country, to
avoid that very outcome, which is not to say that the IAF would not chance its
arm, if given the go-ahead. However since
belatedly agreed to new talks without conditions, there are still strong hopes
for a peaceful settlement.
It is Israel’s paranoia that is driving this issue.
Israel unfortunately for the world has a small preponderance of right-wing
nationalists of the Likud type and some ‘religious’ even more unrealistically
extreme. There are many, perhaps approaching half of Israeli citizens, who are
opposed to Likud-type policies who have in the past been able to form
governments, and hopefully will again. But whatever the twists and turns of
Israeli politics, it is absolutely clear that there must be no more illegal wars
on a false prospectus, like that in Iraq. No nation state has any such right
when the United Nations exists, which alone could legitimise any war, in this
case not of justifiable self-defence, pre-emptive or otherwise, but in truth,
about the regional balance of power.
Our current AUGUST issue has relevant reports on
IRAN. We also
in our blog: geopolemics.com
offer our Newnations Prescription on
North Korea: back from the brink
There can be no doubt that the imminent danger of war has passed since the
sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan a month ago.
has adamantly refuted the charges of torpedoing the vessel with the loss of 46
naval personnel. Yet a more or less independent naval enquiry bolstered by
foreign experts concluded that it was a North Korean torpedo that was
responsible. Our NORTH
KOREA report summarises the situation. Amongst other conclusions, it
seems that the South Korean president Lee Myung-Buk is the loser since he cannot
strike back militarily, indeed his options are extremely limited which leaves
him looking inept, particularly given the pressure from the families and friends
of the 46 dead sailors and South Korea’s media.
Libya : BP and al-Megrahi
report this month looks again at our reports of 2009 when we analysed the
reasons why the only man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing was returned
apparently with terminal cancer, to his homeland. It is
key to this understanding that until May 2009 his long awaited appeal was
imminent but the application for his return to Libya on medical grounds was
granted when he withdrew his appeal. We could not see then or now how
the conclusion could be avoided that the hearing of that Appeal had a very good
chance of his original trial being over-ruled by the Appeal Judges, resulting at
least in his discharge, and potentially the award of compensation.
Consider the implications: If he had been found wrongfully convicted it would
imply at least that others who were guilty, had got away with the crime and that
the law agencies had failed to find the guilty parties - with no reason to
suppose in those circumstances that
behind the outrage.
LIBYA had already paid 1.7 billion dollars to families of the
victims, in compensation. What would then be the status of that large amount of
money? Would Libya demand it back? Would al-Megrahi be compensated for wrongful
It was believed by some professional observers of the scene that the evidence on
which al Megrahi was convicted was flawed, and that the Appeal judges would
inevitably overturn the original verdict. For all the embarrassment
now being sustained by ministers possibly involved, it would be as nothing
compared with the kind of flak they would receive if the above appeals scenario
had come about. The US Congressional enquiry may not have been asking the right
questions, but politically for them as politicians, the temptation of tying in
BP was too powerful for them to resist.
The slav ‘near abroad’ is quietly all coming together again
In July it was announced that "Russia joins Belarus and Kazakhstan in a trade
We have been reporting
RUSSIA from before the break-up of the USSR in 1991 and we observed
back then that Russia's foreign service in Yeltsin’s time, had as their number
one policy objective, to form out of the ruins of the USSR, a slav Greater
Russia (discarding all the problematical Moslem states). To join up the slav
states plus KAZAKHSTAN
(as a non-problematic Moslem state with a decent proportion of Russians and of
course their immense mineral wealth). This trade deal with Belarus and
Kazakhstan sees them well on their way, following the electoral success of their
man, Yanukovich in Ukraine, followed by rapidly negotiated treaties. Now this
trade pact with Belarus and Kazakhstan takes Moscow on towards the consolidation
of their original objective.
They don’t NEED either military or political union these days. If all important
decisions on trade and economics are shared by the insiders of their tight group
of likeminded former Soviet apparatchiks, then they have everything they need.
Also Russia will surely politically make its presence felt when there are
leadership succession issues in these states.
We have long suspected that the ‘surprise’ leadership succession in
was so smooth as to be orchestrated from abroad, most probably Moscow, and the
fact that the new man, Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedov leaves his country regularly
to visit other countries, when his predecessor his Uncle (possibly father),
would never go abroad for fear of coups, indicates that the new man is quite
Russia and Ukraine
Since pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovich was elected Ukrainian president,
journalists, local and foreign non-governmental organizations, and independent
television channels have come under pressure from the security services. The
broadcasting license was withdrawn from the 5 Kanal television station. Valery
Khoroshkovsky, a media magnate and head of Ukraine’s security services, or SBU,
is poised to take over the frequencies, a move that will increase even further
the growing powers of the security services over the dissemination of news. Mr.
Yanukovich himself has proposed reintroducing official guidelines for
journalists. Meanwhile, relations between
the Russian leadership have greatly improved. President Medvedev agreed last
April to supply Ukraine with cheaper gas in return for Russia keeping its Black
Sea Fleet in the Crimea until 2042. Ukraine and Russia later signed an agreement
restoring the right of Russia’s counter-intelligence services to operate on the
base of the Black Sea Fleet, giving them an official foothold in Ukraine.
Russia’s policy toward Ukraine is about re-establishing
its hegemony in the region so as to become stronger vis-à-vis the West. The
Kremlin has resented Ukraine’s independence ever since the collapse of the
Soviet Union in 1991 and they are proving successful in their steps to return to
that earlier existence. We are of course witnessing democracy
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan
Russia has also been attempting to spread its influence elsewhere. The
presidents of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan launched on
July 5th the annual summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurasecEC) in
Astana, the Kazakh capital. The summit led to one concrete achievement - a trade
pact between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, the same three countries that with
Ukraine agreed to dissolve the USSR in December 1991.
is still reeling from June’s ethnic civil war that led to a mass exodus of
Uzbeks to Uzbekistan. Roza Otunbayeva, Kyrgyzstan's president, has agreed to an
independent, international inquiry into the explosion of violence between ethnic
Uzbeks and ethnic Kyrgyz that claimed up to 2,000 lives and led to hundreds of
thousands fleeing into the Uzbek areas of the Ferghana Valley.
Kimmo Kiljunen, OSCE Special Representative, will announce the details of the
inquiry, which he will chair in the capital, Bishkek. He said he hoped to get
the support of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees, by the time of the
announcement of the inquiry. Until now, the Kyrgyz government has resisted an
international inquiry. It could confirm that local police, who are mostly
ethnically Kyrgyz, sided with rioters against ethnic Uzbeks during the violence,
which began on June 9 in the southern city of Osh. The Kyrgyz government has
also agreed to allow a 52-member OSCE police force to advise and monitor local
police in Osh and Jalalabad, where the worst of the violence took place. This
was after overcoming resistance to the move from within its national police
force and interior ministry.
The UNHCR estimates that up to 75,000 refugees in southern Kyrgyzstan are still
homeless or in need of shelter. Uprooted by the violence, these people are
either too afraid to return home or are living near to their houses, which have
been destroyed. Aid workers are still very concerned about the situation in
Kyrgyzstan, especially because many refugees have lost documents like birth and
marriage certificates and passports. This means they have no documentation to
prove ownership of their land and are also at risk of detention by the
authorities, who have set up check points on the roads.
With continuing reports about people being detained, many ethnic Uzbeks are
reluctant to make unnecessary journeys. Sometimes the men have returned home to
claim rights to their property, leaving women and children behind in the tented
camps or with relatives. Human Rights Watch has said that the Kyrgyz and Uzbek
governments should open border crossings between the countries, to allow any
ethnic Uzbeks who wish to seek asylum in Uzbekistan to leave southern
Kyrgyzstan. Persuaded back to Kyrgyzstan after the violence in order to take
part in June’s constitutional referendum, many Uzbeks now again feel unsafe in
the region, because of the many reports of intimidation, arrests and beatings by
law enforcement officials.
It would seem that the Uzbek government’s handling of the mid-June refugee
crisis, in which roughly 100,000 ethnic Uzbeks from Kyrgyzstan fled to
given President Karimov’s administration a significant boost. Foreign observers
in Tashkent have praised the Uzbek government’s response to the humanitarian
crisis and its restrained political stance which has kept the violence in
southern Kyrgyzstan from spreading. A functioning chain of command, involving
national and local government officials, helped coordinate the handling of the
refugee surge and foreign visitors were surprised at the quality of service for
refugees at the border.
From the start of the crisis, the Uzbek government seemed aware that violence
could spin out of control and spread across the border. The Ministry of Foreign
Affairs issued a statement on June 12 saying the violence against ethnic Uzbeks
in Kyrgyzstan was perpetrated by those seeking to provoke confrontation. It did
not stem from ancient ethnic hatreds, the statement stressed.
TURKMENISTAN happiness, rather than fear, stalks the land. According
to the Gallup World Poll, Turkmenistan joined the world's top twenty happiest
countries, leaving behind the CIS countries, as well as Germany, France and
Japan. Turkmenistan has taken the 18th place, next to Great Britain, Mexico and
the United Arab Emirates.
Researchers of the Gallup surveyed thousands of respondents in 155 countries,
between 2005 and 2009. They asked subjects to reflect on their overall
satisfaction with their lives, and asked questions about how each subject had
felt the previous day. Other than this, respondents were asked to rate if they
felt well-rested, respected, free of pain and intellectually engaged. According
to Forbes, 52 percent of respondents surveyed in Turkmenistan admitted that they
were totally happy, and only 1% of respondents said that they suffered. It would
be interesting to know the principle of choosing the ‘representative sample’ and
whether it was vetted by the Turkmen authorities first.
’Greater Russia’ – of the near abroad, is quietly all
coming together again. We shall return to this theme as further evidence
Kosovo “Free At Last “
Legitimised by International Court of Justice
Kosovo had originally been incorporated into Serbia in 1913 following the
near-final collapse of the Ottoman Empire’s European dominions. Nobody asked the
Kosovars of course. It was bundled up after WW1 with other ill-fitting
components into the ill-starred kingdom of Yugoslavia which collapsed under
German occupation in WWII, to be succeeded by the Communist state of Yugoslavia
under Marshall Tito. Kosovo’s breakaway has been the final stage in the
dissolution of that Yugoslavia that began at the end of the Cold War when
Slovenia, then Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and eventually Montenegro
became independent states, leaving Serbia alone. The first breakaway from
federal (for which read Serbian) control was
bordering on Italy and Austria. There was minimal fighting and then the Federal
army withdrew, marshalling its resources for the next two breakaways In the
cases of CROATIA
independence led to bitter warfare, fuelled by religious and ethnic divisions,
which in the case of Bosnia Herzegovina are still not fully resolved, because
the Serb minority in Bosnia set up their own so-called republic. This months
gives more detail.
The majority of Kosovo’s population is ethnically Albanian, nominally Moslem but
a significant minority is Serbian. One of Serbia’s most historic, culturally
defining sites, Kosovo Polje (Kosovo Field), the site of a famous military
defeat of the Serbs by the Ottoman Turks nearly 700 years ago, is located inside
Kosovo. The Serbs like the Brits (Dunkirk) are inclined to venerate their
International law specialists noted that, although the ICJ decided Kosovo’s
declaration was legal, the court had actually avoided ruling that Kosovo’s
(legal) declaration of independence also meant Kosovo, as a state, was a
legitimate internationally recognised nation. This is easily explained as lawyer
talk and that key recognition pragmatically, will be a matter for who recognise
Kosovo as a state. 69 nations so far have done so, but Serbia, the one that
matters, vows that it never will.
Wider international opinion is divided. The U.S. and most of the EU supported
it, with the notable exception of Spain, which has battled its own separatist
groups. Russia and China, which are also confronted with secessionist movements
in places such as Chechnya and Tibet, opposed Kosovo's independence too.
Unsurprisingly, Kosovo’s small Serbian minority is fiercely opposed to an
Although in theory the floodgates for ‘Declarations of Independence’ are now
open, and we will surely be returning to this topic, the most relevant
consideration is the Serbian enclave in Bosnia- Herzegovina, Republika Srbska,
physically next door to Kosovo and itself threatening to declare independence.
Now that would ‘upset a few applecarts’.
Afghanistan: the times, they are a-changing
There is a definite feel in the air, that times are changing. Every action
President Karzai takes seems to be aimed at bolstering his position after the
western forces withdraw. Whatever we think of him in general terms, one has to
give him credit for some smart moves in reshuffling his ministerial
appointments. He has to contend with keeping some sort of balance between his
own supporters –mostly Pashtun like himself, with the Tajiks, who dominate the
officer corps of his army, and were key players in the Northern Alliance that
threw out the Taliban. His skilful re-arrangements are discussed in this month’s
and although the Hazara and Uzbek elements in his hierarchy are not yet
rewarded, he has shown sufficient political ‘nous that we should expect that
their interests will be recognised in due course. The sentiments for withdrawal
are very powerful now, given that western public opinion seems no longer to
believe that the war is winnable, or that propping up this government is worth
the present sacrifice in blood and treasure. So already some NATO members are
preparing their withdrawal based on the calendar rather than any political or
military event. They have another problem with their troops remaining in
country. It was once a viable theory that
the central home of Al Qaeda had to be neutralised against future use as the
base of international terrorism. Yet whilst that was once widely accepted, it
has become clear over the years of the Afghan struggle that terrorism has been
franchised out by means of revolutionary preachers and the internet. It means
that acts of terror now have no geographical centre, no gorgon’s head that can
be struck off the terrorist body, but must be opposed country by country via
intelligence and security police work, with little if any current relevance to
the Central Asian state of
The US is excluded from this assessment of imminent withdrawal although the
calendar is looming with them also, and the UK is somewhere in between. The US
military clearly does not wish to withdraw as they did so ignominiously from
Vietnam, 35 years ago. Then they were militarily defeated. Now in
that is not the case, but they are not winning either. Not only that, but the US
government has an immense investment in prestige and must seek an honorable
exit, not easy to do with such as their Afghan allies.
It is also realistic to now accept that the massive efforts to stamp out
the drugs trade, given that
AFGHANISTAN is the worlds leading exporter of opiates, has failed.
Sadly the other objective of the allied presence, to help to create a democratic
state there has to be acknowledged as a failure.
Just how rotten is the state of PAKISTAN?
Reading our monthly
PAKISTAN report goes a long way towards answering that question. If
one were to accept a challenge to design a structurally non-functional state,
albeit having enjoyed more than a half century of existence, than a quick
description of this nation would probably suffice.
The President is a convicted criminal whose bad behaviour was at least
temporarily overlooked because he was married to an admired leading woman
politician. She, by national acclaim, was about to have been elected, when she
was assassinated whilst out electioneering. In the wake of that horror her
‘nogoodnik’ husband got the job. Since then his political opponents led by
another powerful politician have engaged the lawcourts who unsurprisingly have
upheld their earlier decisions, temporarily shelved, to unseat him. But he is
still there in post. Democracy is a frail bloom in this country, but it does
There is an elected parliament and the leader of the opposition is himself a man
with a record of embezzlement whilst holding the office of prime minister.
Undeterred, he seeks to get back into office and if the president falls, that is
a likely outcome. Unfortunately he is apparently seeking to take
an extreme islamic mode by amending the constitution to replace the existing
criminal law with Shariah law, and all the excesses of amputations, stonings, et
al. Economically the state has become a pensioner of the IMF with liberal
subventions from the USA. The reason for that is that
an almost unmanageable chunk of mountainous territory adjoining
where effectively self-governing tribes hold sway from where they can launch
terrorist attacks, mostly it seems, on Pakistani citizens
Leaving aside the civil picture, the nation is nuclear-armed and has an
effective military, which is in many ways more powerful than the elected
government. Regrettably the nation has a half-century old quarrel with their
also nuclear-armed neighbour
flares up from time to time.
The most promising period in their recent history was when an honest and
effective ruler, General Musharraf, the Head of the Armed Services took control,
and for several years stability seemed to be the general outcome. However the
politicians who are led by great traditional landowners thus excluded from
power, managed with help from the courts to so order affairs that they took back
control, balanced only by the legal system and the political-leaning Chief
justice The current situation is described in this month’s
either bluffing or telling the truth regarding its nuclear intentions, or
perhaps it is still making up its mind. This ancient nation is a signatory of
the nuclear non-proliferation pact. It insists that it is only seeking to
develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, as under that pact it is fully
entitled to do.
That has not been shown to be untrue.
Iran is one of the world’s oldest and proudest nations. In addition it has
the world’s largest concentration of Shi’ite Moslems and for this reason is
feared by it’s Sunni neighbours, like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, where
Shi’ite citizens are secondary to the majority Sunni.
To make matters more complicated Iran is a theocracy
where belief must conform to what is the official religious line. If there is
any contradiction, established facts are outweighed by religious teachings from
the senior approved priests. So belief trumps rationality – very dangerous for
everyone else - when such a government owns nuclear weapons and could make
irrational decisions to use them.
From Iran’s perspective they are surrounded by enemies because of these
religious differences, and they have no formal national allies of any substance.
They have identified Israel as their enemy because it is militarily the regional
superpower, and they see it as an American client state and the enemy of the
Moslems of all persuasions. In the time of the Shah, Iran set out to be the
regional superpower but were undone, partly by the upheavals of overthrowing
their tyrant, and then by nationalising the western oil companies who ran their
oil industry. Thus, they made enemies of the western nations as well,
particularly their intelligence agencies that had tried unsuccessfully to
overthrow them. Then came the terrible war against their neighbour Iraq which
both countries fought for years, to an eventual, mutually exhausted standstill.
All of these are elements in the current situation. The overthrow of Saddam
Hussein at the hands of the US has seen neighbouring Iraq’s majority Shi’ite
population come out on top in the new political power game. The Sunni who are a
large minority in Iraq have been unable to prevail against the Iraqi Shi’ites
and inevitably are facing a subsidiary role, so the government of Iraq and its
leaders are in some respects subordinate, and certainly individually well
connected to neighbouring Iran, (this months IRAN tells of sanction-busting by
Iraq’s regional government, unchecked by Baghdad).
This is the incendiary mix within which
is seeking to become a nuclear state – harmless and legitimate if it is a
peaceful nuclear power; absolutely unacceptable if it seeks a nuclear weapon.
Israel and their hawkish friends in the US, not
necessarily in government, would like to bomb Iran’s nuclear installations
without further evidence being necessary. Iran has not yet demonstrated by its
actions either that it is, or is not seeking a military nuclear capacity (at
this stage of development either is a possibility), so the violent military
pre-emption that Israel and its publicity cohorts want, could certainly not be
justified. It would clearly be illegal, just as the invasion of Iraq was
illegal. After all, since in 2003, the world was ‘conned’ by the US and British
governments using their intelligence ‘experts’ to misinform about Iraq’s WMD
capabilities, there is consequently little trust about speculative intelligence
reports that fall short of convincing evidence, in what, after all, is not a
It should be remembered that in 2002/3 the IAEA did not and would not report
that Iraq had a nuclear capability, despite all kinds of pressure by the Bush
government, and as a consequence, the UN would not legitimise the illegal
which from then on had the status of an illicit military adventure. Therefore
the IAEA which after all is charged by the UN with the purpose of monitoring
Iran, should be trustworthy on this distinction between the military and
peaceful use of nuclear energy, and in reporting back to the UN’s member states.
The parallel with 2003 is that Israel is ready to bomb Iran’s supposed nuclear
development sites, purely as a pre-emptive measure. The US is clearly anxious
that this should not happen – the implications are horrendous, as
certainly strike back, not just at Israel, which is well defended, but at the US
and its many interests in the region. Iraq’s Shi’ites would be enraged and their
politicians would be hard put to it to restrain them.
The waters of the Persian Gulf would become a war-zone with oil exports
worldwide under threat. Saudi Arabia would go onto a war footing and at the end
of the day, reflective people would conclude this was all down to the Israelis
who themselves ignore UN resolutions, also have nuclear weapons which the US
pretends not to see, and abuse their special relationship with the US in defying
much of the rest of the world.
We believe the world demands that there must be no more illegal wars at the
behest of any nation state or politician, as the awful experience of
surely have demonstrated. The tripwire requiring military or other intrusive
action in IRAN
should first depend on the monitoring by the IAEA, and then - worst case, the UN
should be asked to take the necessary action, through whatever countries would
be prepared to collaborate in dealing with this militarily, or otherwise.
[This section is posted on our
geoplemics blog in newnations : Prescriptions for Iran.]
“ The Theft of Decency “
The main purpose of our existence as Newnations is to promote democracy, largely
by telling the continuing story of those countries that don’t yet have it, which
includes both those that are trying but fall short, as well as those at the
other extreme which are fairly disgusting, the plaything of an individual, a
clique, a family or a class. The
PHILIPPINES are a good example of a
‘pretend democracy’ which in election after election promises change, but has
failed to deliver.
There has now been an election. In place there are a reforming president
and V-P of whom great things are expected, largely because the rule of the
previous president an American-educated woman member of a ‘big’ powerholding
family, failed to address the burning issues of systemic corruption, casual
murder, police brutality, electoral fraud, a gagged press and worse. She too
started out promising widespread reform and we have been reporting
disappointedly on her time in office for some years past. Our issue this month
takes the fitting caption of this paragraph as the starting point in addressing
the Philippines in its new, hopefully progressive manifestation.
Taiwan: The deal is done!
China watchers will know what is the deal referred to above. The much talked
about Economic Framework Cooperation Agreement (ECFA) between Taiwan and China
is now a fait accompli. The agreement was signed June 29 during the fifth round
of cross-straits negotiations held in Chongqing, China between Taiwan’s
semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its Chinese counterpart, the
Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS).
Only following signing were the contents of the ECFA revealed and Taiwan’s KMT-dominated
legislature will only be able to accept or reject the agreement in toto. The
government has ruled out any opportunity to review individual clauses.
The status of the accord has already come into question as in law, it is an
agreement signed between two private organizations. Critics have pointed out
that this may cause some problems if the agreement is lodged with the World
Trade Organization (WTO) (which Taiwan has said it would do) and could be used
by China to further erode Taiwan’s status by claiming it to be a domestic
agreement rather than an FTA, but this has been brushed aside by supporters as a
mere technicality. The agreement does provide for establishment of a
cross-straits economic commission to be responsible for follow-up negotiations
and overall supervision of the agreement and this may go some way towards
mitigating concern over this aspect. A fuller account is in our
of this month.
The Wheels of Justice grind exceeding slow….
Between 1975 and 1979, the small, almost unknown South
East Asian country of Cambodia underwent an extended nightmare, the like of
which few nations have ever known. It was their misfortune that political
extremists called Khmer Rouge, who had swallowed the whole testament of Maoist
communism, took power and sought to change the world, starting with their own
nation. This included the destruction of the middle class by any means to hand,
not just the professionals: the lawyers, accountants, politicians, business
people, journalists, intellectuals, but basically most of the people who lived
in the towns, since this was to be an agrarian economy for those people who
worked with their hands. An estimated 1.3 million people died, approximately one
third of the population. It was a period comparable to the worst of the red
revolution in Ukraine, or to France in the worst phase of its 18th century
revolution, comparable except in the scale of revolutionary murder, and that
‘enemies of the state’ included babes in arms, indeed children of all ages in
the towns that the system’s bloodhounds could find.
In Pnomh Penh the capital, there was a converted school known as S21 where
people including small children were sent not be confined for onwards
transmission, but to be murdered with many tortured to death. In their communist
way they kept meticulous records including photographs of the inmates. No-one
who saw such pictures could ever forget them.
S21 the death camp is now a museum which testifies to the depths to which the
human race can sink. Apart from recognising how low human behaviour can go, the
other moral we draw from this story is to beware the awful danger of fanatics
seized by an absurd political theory, just an idea, prepared to kill and kill as
a means to achieve it.
The former commandant of S21, Duch by name has just been sentenced to 35 years
by a UN tribunal which with time already served will mean he serves a further 19
years. He is an old man and is unlikely to ever be free. The infamous Pol Pot,
the inspiration of Khmer Rouge died peacefully in 1998. Duch was a functionary
as a camp commandant. Four leaders of the Khmer Rouge are still awaiting trial
nearly thirty years after they lost power.
Turkey still smarting after Israeli attack
After the Israeli attack on a Gaza-bound aid ship in May, the Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, “nothing would ever be the same again.”
Weeks later, his ominous prediction appears to be coming true. The entire
region, as well as the United States, is now anxious to see how Israel will
respond to a statement by Turkey’s foreign minister that the country would sever
ties unless Israel issues a formal apology. Turkey, angry over the
deaths of eight Turks and one Turkish-American, has reacted strongly to the
flotilla incident. Since recalling its ambassador from Jerusalem, Ankara has
banned Israeli military planes from its airspace, halted military exercises
between the two countries and ended a 20-year agreement to supply Israel with
water. The current state of Turkish-Israeli relations is now a far cry from the
mid-1990s when Turkey’s military turned to Israel for help in improving its
forces, leading to more than $1 billion in known deals.
There is no doubting the strength of Turkish feeling over the deaths (see
was an unnecessary breakdown in relations between former good neighbours.
Perhaps the arrogance with which Israel’s ministers determined to lethally
punish these unarmed Turkish demonstrators, has to do with the assured US
military umbrella that stretches over this small country. It will not come as a
surprise that the Israeli military investigation into the affair found that the
killings were justified, even though they more closely resembled executions.
Surely Israel’s highly regarded secret service must have known that the
demonstrators were unarmed? It will be recalled that amongst the demonstrators
the ship was carrying, was an Israeli-Arab member of the Knesset, Haneen Zoabi.
She was even branded as a traitor amidst stiff heckling in the Knesset, when she
warned that “Israel was playing with fire” and facing a third intifada, if it
continues to push its 1.2 million Arab citizens “into a corner.” The fact is
that Israel is not succeeding in these escalating confrontations which has much
to do with the quality of the politicians whom Israelis elect to power.
Currently a poor lot, as analysis of these events make clear.
Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia
After the setback of Kosovo, better news for Serbia is that its application to
join the EU is making progress, although it is unlikely to join the EU until at
least 2015. Serbia's co-operation with the international war crimes tribunal in
The Hague has been rewarded in recent months.
In December last year the EU unfroze an interim trade deal, which had been
blocked for 18 months. Citizens of Serbia and two other former Yugoslav
republics - Macedonia and Montenegro - now enjoy visa-free travel through the
Schengen area, which includes most of the EU. Serbia also signed a Stabilisation
and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU in April 2008, but only in June did
EU foreign ministers agreed to put it into effect.
Reconciliation moves between Serbia and Croatia continue. Serbian President
Boris Tadic has hailed a visit by his Croatian counterpart, Ivo Josipovic, to
Belgrade. After their talks, Mr Tadic said Serbia wished for the best possible
relations with its neighbour and former enemy. Mr Josipovic said both countries
shared the goal of peace and stability and were finding ways to address the
past. Both leaders stressed co-operation and dialogue and pledged to find
solutions to outstanding issues such as the return of refugees. They also voiced
support for an out-of-court settlement of the genocide charges relating to the
war that both governments had previously filed against each other at the
International Court of Justice. Their common goal is to join the EU which
Brussels says will only be achieved through better regional cooperation.
Improving Croatian-Serbian relations is crucial for the stability of the Balkans
and is an example to neighbouring Bosnia, where segregation between the
different ethnic groups still runs deep since its own war of independence in the
Croatia is billed to be first of eight countries lining up to join the EU in
perhaps 2011. The EU is urging Croatia to reform its judiciary, root out
corruption, make more progress on minority rights and to continue co-operating
with the war crimes tribunal. Organised crime remains a major concern.
Bosnia’s accession to the EU is a slower affair and is not expected until 2015
at the earliest. It signed a Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with
the EU in June 2008. The EU was satisfied with progress in four key areas -
police reform, co-operation with the international war crimes tribunal, public
broadcasting and public administration reform. But the European Commission has
not yet recommended visa-free travel to the EU because, like Albania,
Bosnia-Herzegovina does not yet fulfil the border security conditions. Bosnia's
ethnic quarrels remain a worry, along with corruption and organised crime. The
Commission says Bosnia is still plagued by an "unstable political climate" and
Kazakh’s presidential family
Fear of the future may drive autocrats in more questionable directions.
parliament, of whom all elected members belong to the Presidents party, has
voted its president "Leader of the nation," granting him lifelong immunity from
any prosecution, just weeks before it is due to host a major international
conference on democracy and human rights, as the chair since January of the
Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The bill
grants Nursultan Nazarbayev the title for life, and protects him, his family,
and their property, from civil or criminal prosecution. It has also
fuelled speculation that Mr Nazarbayev, who turns 70 this year, may be preparing
to step down when his present term ends in 2012. Mr Nazarbayev has yet to anoint
a successor, although speculation has focused on Dariga Nazarbayeva, the eldest
and most political of his three daughters, and Timur Askarovich Kulibayev,
husband of his middle daughter Dinara. All of them seem
to be immune to prosecution by belonging to the presidential family.
There is no doubt that the biggest geopolitical problems of
the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and normalization of
Armenian–Azeri and Armenian-Turkish relations. They are indispensable for
Armenia’s security and sustainable development, opposition leader Levon
Ter-Petrosian said in mid-July. He is a former Armenian president and head of
state. In a warning seemingly addressed to the Armenian authorities,
Armenia’s first president said that the status quo in the conflict carries the
growing risk of renewed war with
also accused them of underestimating Russia’s role in the region and moving
dangerously close to the West. “Without settling the Nagorno-Karabakh
conflict and Turkish-Armenian relations Armenia has no prospect of security,
economic development and an improved demographic situation, regardless of who
will be in power,” Ter-Petrosian declared in a speech in mid-July. He warned
that “blindly seeking to preserve the status quo” only increases the likelihood
of another Armenian-Azerbaijani war. “This situation can not last endlessly,” he
said. “In case of the failure of diplomacy or the dragging out of the settlement
process, it could get out of control, leading to new bloodshed.” The authorities
say they have been doing their best to make peace with both Azerbaijan and
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