martes, 27 de agosto de 2013

The failure of the Geneva II Agreements or the hidden agenda of Western Democracies towards another failed state in Syria

The Syrian issue has become once again the topic of the major players of the so called International community. From the war of statements to the plain war, as it seems lies a gap, which is lesser and lesser. The alleged attack of Chemical weapons on civilian population occurred on the past 21 August in the outskirts of the Syrian capital Damascus has been put as a burden by both parties of this clash on the other one. It is said by the Rebel´s side that the attack was undertaken by government forces, producing around a 1300 death toll. On the other side, the government itself held the opposition responsible for it, as it denied having used, nor even possessing such weapons at all. The fact is that the tunnels which were apparently discovered by Syrian regular soldiers showed evidence of used shells and related material, of a toxic gas, that as a matter of fact affected the troops who were present at the time, proving that at least for the time being, there is presence of such poisonous armament. Despite the undergoing investigations held by a UN group on Syrian soil, still in process, some players are going ahead of time, accusing without any proof the undeniable responsibility of the regime, therefore considering all options on the table, including the intervention by the USA. The US-army has deployed two warships to the Eastern Mediterranean, close by the desired target, before even any conclusions were drawn by the UN.

The Geneva II Peace Talks are now officially outdated as it appears, as the Rebels have disclosed any possibility of them happening, by openly refusing to sit at the negotiating table. The UK government has also shown its confidence that as the Rebels couldn´t possibly uphold such weaponry; it must have been done by the regime itself, still leaving a small doubt in case. Anyhow Prime Minister David Cameron not only showed support to Obama´s intentions to intervene on a limited scale in Syria by Thursday. He also called the Parliament to gather together, to bring up a very much needed position in case this week there should be any attacks on Syrian targets by the Us-army. As well the French government has given its approval of these possible measures that are said to punish the Syrian president for its behavior before its own people. It certainly also is one of the major supporters of the idea of arming on an official basis the rebels, who seem to be losing the war on the ground.

The allies of the regime of Assad, mainly Russia and China show no will to change sides. The Saudis having tried to bribe the Russian government , this proved to be a big blow, as Moscow doesn´t seem to change its mind before an offer of 15 billion dollars on the table. The recent attempts to bring both sides on an agreement has once again failed, as for some reason the SNC is unwilling to any concession which wouldn´t include the downfall of Bashar Al-Assad as a precondition. Their most radical wing, the Al-Nusra Front openly defied the regime, having intentions to establish even a separate state within Syria under Sharia law. Some reports have even given a non-official statement that Al-Nusra is in fact in possession of such weapons, and would have been behind the events, that the UN is desperate to reveal. It looks as if some in this game are really not interested in having the naked truth seen at daylight.

The US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has said that all the options are within reach, until the President made a choice, which would inevitably mean that by Thursday the US-army could be effectively intervening in the scene, hitting strategic points within the country for 48 hours. These operations that obviously don´t count on the granting of a UN resolution in its support, would only be followed by some NATO-countries, including Turkey which neighbors Syria in its Northern border. So again we see the Humanitarian war, the Clinton doctrine used in the case of Kosovo back in 1998-1999. The reasons are moral and ethical but certainly lack any real ground or justification, beyond these considerations said before. Secretary of State John Kerry also said that these undeniable atrocities were only held accountable to the government, actions which it will have to stand up to in front of the International Community.

Some other NATO members such as Germany or Italy have been more reserved on this issue, as they say that without any official UN mandate there would be no possibility of them being involved in such actions. In facts the Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino said in a press conference, that lacking such support, neither would they take part, nor would they allow anyone to use their military facilities for this purpose. Germany instead, with its past war experience, and considering that General elections are coming up soon, no one really is eager to support that kind of venture, fearful of losing popular support, hence the possibility to be in charge of taking part of the next German government.

Russia on its side has shown its full allegiance to the government of Damascus, as its president Vladimir Putin said that there is a hidden agenda behind these accusations, and that Bashar Al-Assad isn´t behind this, but the rebels. Its alliance is strong, as well as their presence in the port of Tartus will remain as such, despite the growing military tensions in the neighboring waters. In any case Russia will not give in to any pressure to topple Assad, nor will it provide the legitimacy to the venture underway. As things appear to be, the UN Security Council will not be in a position to give any ground the intentions of Paris, London or Washington. An against any odds, this will not hinder them in acting in their interest, with or without the UN mandate, as long as the so-called International Community, themselves, are backing them up.           

Nevertheless the results of the investigations are being slow, and were furthermore delayed by snipers which shot on the UN official vehicles under way to the places of evidence, which happened to be in a region controlled by the armed opposition, this hasn´t frightened them to go on in their crucial work to get the truth, as they postponed the next ride until the damaged vehicle was to be replaced. If they achieve their goal is uncertain, as the security in the rebel held zone is not granted by any means. Unless the government recovered this area, then only there is a common ground on which to work.

This could be the beginning of the REAL war, after the war of words. Neither the veto powers in the UN nor international law will further avoid the confrontation, some players are eager to push forward. No negotiations had any success, as for some reasons the SNC wasn´t able to make the slightest concession to the government, instead they were looking to accomplish their ultimate goal by all means, but never give in to anything. That is why probably the Geneva II Agreement, as well as The Hague Summit which was to be held in order to prepare the ground for the Geneva tables, between Russia and the US will never become reality. The hawks in Washington will have prevailed for now, until Obama takes the step that they are waiting for so long, the intervention on the ground. They call this Nation-building, democratization of any society, one size fits all. The history give us the proof that nor in Kosovo, nor in Libya, nor Iraq, nor in the former Yugoslavia in general terms this has proven to be possible. In the best of the results, there appears a failed state instead, with a chronic need of foreign help on a long term basis.  If this was to be the future of Syria under the SNR, may the reader consider all sides, and see, if this is really such a bright horizon for the Syrians, who have already withstood two years of continuous wars and human and material losses.

If this doesn´t touch the ones who want to overthrow the Bashar regime, it is questionable just how far their deep feelings of humanity are real, and how honest they are being towards letting the Syrians be free within their own state to choose their faith and government.

martes, 20 de agosto de 2013

The quest for the Geneva II Agreement or the Syrian deadlock put in evidence

The war in Syria also is within words in the medias, as the diplomatic activity in search for the possible Geneva II agreement is still in sight, according at least to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, as for the US Secretary of State, John Kerry at the last meeting in Washington last 9th of August. Nonetheless neither of the parts could actually agree on a fixed time and place, in which to organize the summit. As for John Kerry, who said that the commitment of the Syrian Opposition to attend the Swiss summit was clear, there was this condition, that a transitional government was established, with no place for the current Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. On his side, Lavrov stated that the Syrian government was determined to attend the summit without preconditions. Still there were statements of the Prime Minister, in which it was said, that no sovereignty was given into consideration, in response to one of the demands of the opposition asking a transitional government.

In the next week a bilateral meeting will take place at The Hague, Netherlands, where the Russian Foreign Deputy Vice minister Guennadi Gatilov and Wendy Sherman, the US Undersecretary of State will be treating the technical aspects of the Summit, as for ratifying the reached agreement. The actual relations of both Foreign Ministers are by far more productive, than those on the presidential level, as Barack Obama has had a mixed result in his last meeting in Northern Ireland for the past G8 meeting.

Meanwhile the Saudi monarchy has been deploying its influence in the region, reaching to open a corridor for weapons and money supply through Jordan, an action to which the government of Amman was openly was opposed to. Still the transit through the common borderline is more than active, maintaining thus a vital and essential supply line to the Syrian opposition, after the town of  Quassyr was taken back by the regular forces of Syria, interrupting directly the transit to Lebanon. Also stands the fact that outskirts of Aleppo are being  taken back by the Syrian government in recent weeks.

The main obstacle, as it seems in this major split inside the Syrian society, is due to the fact, that probably the length of time has radicalized the positions to a point of no return. In this way the government will not cease to face the terrorist organizations with all means in his power, to recover the unity and peace in his country, as the opposition refuses to deal with the Assad regime, and looks forward for a totally new government. The question which remains, above any certainty expressed by the Arab League  representative, Lahdar Brahimi, and many other spokesmen in this chain of events, if the two factions opposed, could ever consider to implement a cease-fire. This has been tried in the past, with poor success, even if it appeared, as if the regime of Damascus was being at bay, and calm ruled for few hours, not even days. Still, the war dynamic was back into its former confrontation very soon.  

The Syrian Opposition has shown little unity on some specific terms, as if they could negotiate face to face with Assad´s government. When in a strong moment, they seem very willing to go to the negotiating table, but in times of drawback, they claim their goal is to liberate the country, therefore, they won´t agree anymore. The government has repeatedly shown its good will to go, always under the assumption, that they are seen as an executive power, and being respected as such. It is quite uncertain, how both aspirations and needs will be attended by Brahimi and generally by the big powers in charge of the main round, Russia and the USA.

 The back bone of the support of each side has evidently a superpower and geostrategic reasons for its existence. The USA and the Western European countries, at least most of them, are eager to establish a new order on Syrian soil. Their main reason to do such, resembling once again to the old cold war style, being to conquer power, driven by the People´s will, or at least on their behalf, but with a hidden agenda, of splitting once again the former Ottoman Empire nearly 100 years after its collapse and fragmentation. 

The all so celebrated new freedom waves of the Arab Revolution have somehow lost a bit of their freshness. The troops are being attended in increasing number by foreign fighters, coming from al the Arab world, and furthermore from European nations, but by belief Muslims. This brings into the debate, the Syrian national compound of the Free Syrian Army, which at the most is composed by a minority of Syrians. Their dependency on foreign help makes them quite helpless, when the supply lines fail. Still their unity seems to rely on the non-definition of the future Syria to be built, solely on the will of tumbling Assad from power. Therefore their statements rarely are definitive or reliable on the long run, as they have changed opinions several times, or simply failed to reach an agreement from within.

The president Bashar Al-Assad has then again shown a good will of resistance, as worse times than today have been in his two years struggle to recover the integrity of his nation. Despite the relative isolation, his position has been kept, and furthermore has recovered some places lost in the past to the opposition. Still the economy has passed entirely to a war modus, as business as usual gets more and more difficult to be done.  He has had to ask for a credit to Russia, as well as orders of weapons, as the turmoil is being stretched in time.

The deadlock remains as it was, while the hope on the Geneva II Agreement dwells away the longer it is postponed. Until then, every party in this civil war will stay on his position, waiting for the other to make a move. This chess game could last very long, only time will tell

lunes, 19 de agosto de 2013

The Egyptian crisis in the point of no return or the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt has lived the last week one of the deadliest clashes since the coup d´état in July, as in general since its past revolution back in 2011. The pro-Morsi camp hasn´t in fact acknowledged the ousting of the president Mohammed Morsi, and claim his return to power immediately. The risen general Al Sisi chose to end the everlasting sit-ins which threatened the security in the capital city Cairo, and dissolved it unilaterally by security forces on August the 5th, leading to bloodshed of those who remained until the very end, as interim prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi showed again no mercy towards the remaining protesters of the deposed Muslim Brotherhood, despite the general trend of arrests against its supports and daily deaths. According to the interior Ministry 622 persons were dead, as of other hundreds are wounded, among the protesters, as of the state forces involved. According to sources of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) itself, the casualties were far higher, up to 2000 or more that day.

Anyhow, the diplomatic moves, for a dialogue and a reconciliatory policy, eventually leading to an end to this ongoing violence is very far from sight. Different political actors, such as German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, as Katherine Ashton, representing the European Commission, the US Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns, were present at some time, trying to bring together both positions currently fighting, the Muslim Brotherhood and the interim government. All failures led to the point where the government ceased to consider any further negotiation, and made that crackdown, in order to restore the Al-Nahda square, the main university campus, as other spots in the city of Cairo, leading to a curfew of at least 24 hours, which gave the city an impression of normality. Nonetheless nothing seems resolved for now, as the newly elected Vice-president Mohamed El-Baradei resigned as a consequence of it.

The political outcome, in which all political forces could be inserted, was definitely blown away, as the Egyptian government has declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. Thus the MB has also taken actions, as of going against government buildings and military checkpoints, putting the security at stake for moments. The political outcome will unlikely be as rosy as expected, when the interim president Mansour declared the will of including anyone whom accepting the rule of law. The fact being that the rule of law in Egypt is nothing more than a piece of paper, in between ongoing fights and curfews. The martial law has been put back in place, until further notice, and the general unrest in other provinces, such as the bordering area in the Sinai Peninsula and in the southern regions, gives a hint of the state of things in the North African country.

The regional powers have taken very diverse positions, whereas Qatar has been a massive supporter of the rule of president Morsi, and now probably finds itself isolated, the Emirate of Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, have shown not only recognition to the junta, but also released very much needed funds for the current government not to collapse. The US have long not taken any position towards the shift of power, in order not to put in doubt the military help provided to the Egyptian army. As early as today some comments are  giving an idea, that this could be changing anytime soon, but certain is, that the Obama administration has ignored the fact of lack of a democratically elected government since July the 3rd, as a strategy until the security of its embassy and its citizen became the real issue to be concerned of.

The coup just about a year from the arrival to power of Mohamed Morsi  on the past 3 July  an its aftermath seems to continue forever, as none of the parties are willing to give in for now. Nor has the ousted president Morsi been put back in power, nor the will of a major part of the population has been taken into account, as for their sympathy for or links to the now illegalized Moslem Brotherhood. If any result may appear, it would need the backup of a regional power, and a return to normality, which isn´t the case for now at least. If Morsi, after almost a month of detention was tailed in an express Judgment and put into an unknown place under arrest, his family still claims what happened was a hijacking of him as a matter of fact. Thou this isn´t going to change much to his situation, it still shows the division within the society itself.

Thousands of supporters of the MB remain in the aim of fighting, not wanting to renounce to their goals, no matter how dim their chance may seem. As it seems only the final crackdown of the former ruling party may finally bring some sort of peace, even if it was severely dredged with blood. Too many weapons and divisions are such, that the possible results slim to nearly one, the deadliest of all, violence by itself. 

lunes, 12 de agosto de 2013

The second round of elections in Mali or the dilemma of ruling a failed state

Mali just had the second round of the presidential elections, which are bound to give the sub-saharian country a new political framework. After the results of the first round of the past 28 July 2013, none of the 25 candidates reached the 50% score, therefore heading to the second round on the past Sunday 11 of August instead. Out of the first round the two most voted candidates were confronted, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta (IBK) with 39.23% in the first place, and Soumaïla Cissé with 19.40% of the ballot.

The pretty tight electoral calendar, which was set just a month in advance, was in fact one of the weak points of this event, as in the first place many thought that either the country simply wasn´t in condition in such a short notice, and second, that the Ouagadougou Agreements, which eventually led to a transitional compromise between the government  and the MNLA (National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad) forces in the north, just before, on the 19 June, on the promise of restraining from any activity, and keeping away from urban centers like Kidal in the north, held ever since the uprising by these Touareg rebel group. Nevertheless, other groups, some of them linked to the Al-Qaeda network also operate in the area and in neighboring countries, Niger, Algeria and Mauritania, who are also responsible for the major regional unrest, in what was considered in the past as a safe Democratic safe haven in western Africa.

The feasibility of the elections were also put at stake for another quite powerful reason, that many Malians eligible to vote were either outside the country, probably in some of the many refugee camps in Niger and Burkina, among others, and couldn´t possibly get their documentations on time for the voting,  despite the major effort done by the diplomatic representations of Mali, keen on closing that breach,but  it appears, as if at least 30% of the around 6.8 million voters was unable to produce such documents on time. Then the fact that the task to observe this event gets into a lot of practical issues, when it comes to cover the vast northern portion of the country, specially areas which were for the past year under rebel rule, of the MNLA or the MUJAO, allegedly in touch with the Al-Qaeda.

Anyhow, the result being in process, the real reason behind this race against all odds is in part due to the fact that France, the former ruling colonial power has been present ever since January of the current year, looking to reunite the nation, which was at the brink of collapse just a year ago. The French intervention, given with the approval of the UN Security Council, had an expiry date, in which Paris had to produce a viable, united country under an elected government. This precondition gave the French government no other option than to force by all means these events. As said before, this has been far from idealistic, and still the African Union has given its green light, by stating that there were clean and fair. The again the participation rate of the first round, which accounted for around 50% could possibly not be reached this time, as not only the enthusiasm had dropped since, and added that the climate didn´t really help, with heavy rains by the time of the voting.

The result by now looks quite positive for IBK, who presume the best result in general terms, as  it is the third time he stands as a candidate, before in 2002 and in 2007, as for his experience as prime minister under former president Amadou Toumani Touré (ATT)  among different other positions of responsibility. His next opponent, SoumaÏla Cissé lies with 19% in a much weaker position and is expected to fall back in support, considering the clear advantage IBK has shown in the past round, as for general  estimates of results.

Mali is and remains a country shaken up by several issues at the time. A rebellion in the north, a coup d´état by the general Sanogo, whom by the way still remains in his position of commander in chief. His active participation in the ousting of ATT back in 2012 didn´t made  him lose his post, and as a matter of fact Dioncounda Traoré has had to deal with him all along the line, until a new political framework was set. This is done finally against all security and procedure matters, and in conditions far from the norm.

France is the real player, as it is Paris who is the most interested partner in seeing a newly elected president,  no matter if he can actually govern on the long term. The necessity of having a positive outcome meant for Francois Hollande his reputation, as he entered this war  playground with little margin and a big expectancy of heightening a bit his popularity in his own country. His bet was quite risky, but had at least the propaganda of putting him as a commander in chief of the French Army, and a position of strength he desperately needed, while facing a dropping acceptance by his former voters. Ending the play is at least as important, as commencing it. France does not need a permanent military front, now that money is running short and the deficits eat up the dim growth available. So it is clear, that the choice was made on a political basis, and not with real economic figure.

In the following days the results may arise in the press, as soon as most of the voting recounts as done. In any case with only two candidates left, the chosen one will have a big margin of victory, capable of enabling him to put his house in order. The duties are much, the money few, and the constrains quite overwhelming. In this context, the next president of the Republic of Mali, has more work than glory, whilst the military under the rule of general  Amadou Sanogo, who  is still in his throne, until further notice.

May  the future be bright for the Malian people in this coming time, but the truth is that whomever gets this position, has to prove the ability of handling quite a bit of a mess, which was left behind in the past two years of rebellion and disorder.