Saturday, 31 July 2010

Turkey and the Ottomans

It was the month of Rajab the Khilafah came to an end in Turkey. Various individuals in post-Ottoman Turkey have attempted to wipe its history away, but Turkey under the Ottoman's was the world superpower for centuries - this will remain the history of Turkey, whatever its future course.

The Ottoman's were one of the many bands of Turkmen horsemen who began to come into the Islamic lands as a result of the Mongol invasions in the 13th century. These Turkmen warriors, who had converted to Islam, were sent to the frontiers of the state by the Seljuks, who themselves were of Turkish origin. They had excellent fighting skills and zeal, which the Seljuks wanted them to apply along the frontier with the Byzantines. The house of Uthman proved to be one of the most successful of these bands, taking many towns and villages from the control of the Byzantines, they then unified the other ghazis, under their banner, brought the lands surrounding Constantinople under Islam, culminating in the capture of Byzantine Empire capital - Constantinople in 1453.

The Uthmani's then swept through the Balkans and Eastern Europe in spectacular fashion. The important city of Thessaloniki was captured from the Venetians in 1387. In 1389, the kings of Austria, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Hungary attacked the Uthmani's but Sultan Murad I crushed them at Kosovo, which shocked Europe. In 1396, the whole of Europe including French and German armies fought against Sultan Bayazid Yaldram at Nicopolis but were comprehensively defeated and 20 rulers and dignitaries were brought to the Khaleefah's court as the captives. Sultan Bayazid had annexed all the territory from Bosnia to Danube. He had also conquered Greece (Athens) in 1398.

Before Suleiman al Qanooni's reign came to an end in 1566 he had expanded the Islamic frontiers well into Eastern Europe bringing Belgrade the capital of Serbia under Islam as well as regaining the Greek island of Rhodes. He had defeated Louis II of Hungary and Bohemia and brought most of Hungary under Islamic authority. By 1578 Georgia and what is today Romania was under Islam. Before the beginning of the 17th century the Ottoman's had brought Southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Ukraine, the Canary Islands, parts of Iceland and the largest island of the Bristol waters in England, UK - Lundy under Islamic authority. Such was the perceived threat of the Uthmani Khilafah under the reign of Suleiman al Qanooni that ambassador Busbecq of the Austrian monarch Ferdinand I warned of Europe's imminent conquest: "On [the Turks'] side are the resources of a mighty empire, strength unimpaired, habituation to victory, endurance of toil, unity, discipline, frugality and watchfulness... Can we doubt what the result will be?...When the Turks have settled with Persia, they will fly at our throats supported by the might of the whole East; how unprepared we are I dare not say."[1]

Achievements

The Ottoman's until the era of decline were hugely successful in integrating and amalgamating the different peoples in the new territories. The Uthmani's like their predecessors gave the non-Muslim populace in matters of marriage, faith and personal issues their own religious leaders. As a result, vast areas of the Balkans remained mostly Christian. The Eastern Orthodox Churches had a higher position in Uthmani Khilafah, mainly because the Patriarch resided in Istanbul and was an officer of the Khilafah.

Sultan Mehmed II allowed the local Christians to reside in Constantinople after conquering the city in 1453, and to retain their institutions such as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. In 1461 Sultan Mehmed II established the Armenian Patriarchate of Constantinople. Previously, the Byzantines considered the Armenian Church as heretical and thus did not allow them to build churches inside the walls of Constantinople. In 1492, when the Muslims and Jews were expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition, Sultan Bayezid II sent his fleet to save them and granted the refugees the right to settle in the Khilafah. Thomas Arnold confirmed in his study of the spread of Islam: "though the Greeks were numerically superior to the Turks in all the European provinces of the Empire, the religious toleration thus granted them, and the protection of life and property they enjoyed, soon reconciled them to the change of masters and led them to prefer the domination of the Sultan to that of any Christian power."

The Ottoman's influence internationally was such that many of the European powers turned to the Ottoman's for help. The French king Francis I was captured at the battle of Pavia in 1525. France felt humiliated by the capture of her king but her army was unable to rescue him from captivity. She made recourse to the Islamic Khilafah state, under the Ottoman's at that time, and she sent a messenger on behalf of the king of France on 6th December 1525 seeking help from the Islamic State. The messenger met the Uthmani Khaleef Sulayman al-Qanooni who responded to his call. Sulayman gave the messenger a letter which read: "we have received the letter delivered by your messenger, and in which you stated that your enemy has attacked your country and you are imprisoned and seek our help in respect to securing your release. We have answered your request so be at ease and do not worry". The Khilafah state used its international weight and military power to rescue the king of France and made an effective contribution towards his release. The Khaleef of the Muslims helped France without compensation, without occupying a part of France or colonising any region of France in return. Rather he did the action as an act of goodwill.

In 1783 the first US navy boat started to sail in international waters and within two years was captured by the Ottoman navy near Algeria. In 1793 12 more US navy boats were captured. In March 1794 the US Congress authorized President Washington to spend up to 700 000 gold coins to build strong steel boats that would resist the Uthmani navy. Just a year later the US signed the Barbary Treaty to resolve the Ottoman threat.

Barbary, was the term for the North African wilaya's of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, under the rule of the Ottomans.

The terms of the treaty were:

01. The treaty will cost the US a one off payment of $992,463

02. The American ships captured would be returned and the American Navy was to be given permission to sail in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.

03. In return, the American government would pay $642 000 in equivalent gold.

04. The US would also pay an annual tax (tribute) of $12 000 in gold. The annual tribute would be calculated according to the Islamic calendar and not the Christian calendar.

05. $585,000 would be paid for the ransom of the captured American sailors.

06. A state of the art steel ship would be constructed and delivered to the Uthmani's, built in the US with all costs borne by the US in return for privileges. (The costs of masts, Yards, and heavy planks, were very costly and so difficult to procure, and then so exceedingly expensive to transport. Once delivered the US had actually paid thirty times their estimated price in the stipulations).

The treaty was written in Turkish and signed by President Washington, This is the only American legal document to ever have been concluded in a foreign language and the only treaty the Americans have ever signed that agrees to pay annual tax to another nation. This treaty continued until the Khilafah was abolished.

Turkey Today

Ever since the destruction of the Khilafah in 1924, Turkey has become a nation with no influence in the world. Turkey has been used by the world's powers to achieve their own interests. Turkey joined NATO and today Turkey provides the most troops after the US to the security organisation that protecting US interests during the cold war.

Whilst most of Turkey's history consists of menacing Europe, today is trying all it can to join the European Union. Whilst Turkey has reforming in the face of EU demands. The EU continues to reiterate that Turkey should be given second class membership.

Turkey has suffered an economic crisis once every decade since the end of the Khilafah, it has used each crisis to bring in more and more reforms in order align the nation to the global market, with little success.

The Turkey of today is a far cry from the international position the Ottoman's had. Today Turkey is being described by many thinkers as a resurgent nation, but like it recent history Turkey continues to protect the interests of other nations. Whilst in the past Turkey menaced Europe. Many accepted it was a matter of time when the Ottoman janissaries would march across Europe, Jews and many other minorities welcomed the Ottoman's due to the treatment they received regarding there faith. Turkey should learn from its history. (Islamic Rivival/Ends)
 
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Friday, 30 July 2010

EU, Australia and Canada impose tough sanctions on Iran

As part of Washington’s intensifying campaign against Iran, the European Union (EU), Canada and Australia imposed hefty new sanctions this week against Tehran over its nuclear programs. While promoted as means of pressuring Iran, the sanctions are a further escalation of a dangerous confrontation that is setting the stage for war.

All of the announced sanctions are unilateral in nature, going far beyond the penalties agreed by the UN Security Council last month. Iran has repeatedly denied allegations that it is planning to build nuclear weapons and has rejected all sanctions as an infringement of its right under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to engage in all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including uranium enrichment.

The EU sanctions were announced on Monday after a foreign ministers’ meeting. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the media: “We’ve sent a powerful message to Iran. That message is that their nuclear program is a cause of serious and growing concern to us.” Significantly the measures would ban European companies from investing in Iran’s oil and gas sector, as well as restrict trade and financial links.

An EU statement declared that the 27 foreign ministers had agreed on “a comprehensive and robust package of measures in areas of trade, financial services, energy, transport as well as additional designations for a visa ban and asset freeze.” Details are yet to be released but the sanctions will target Iranian banks, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines.

Canada announced similar sanctions on Monday, including a ban on any new Canadian investment in Iran’s energy sector, restrictions on banking ties and a prohibition on the sale of goods that could be used in nuclear programs. The Australian government followed suit yesterday with travel and financial bans against more than 110 businesses and individuals in Iran’s banking and transport sector and, like the EU and Canada, restrictions on dealings with Iran’s oil and gas sector.

The European sanctions, in particular, are potentially highly damaging to the Iranian economy. The EU collectively is Iran’s largest trading partner, taking a third of its exports and selling billions of dollars in products to the country. One EU diplomat told the Financial Times: “The sanctions are very precisely targeted. A lot of these services such as insurance, banking or sophisticated energy technology are not available from other trading partners.”

The ban on the involvement of European corporations in Iran’s energy sector will exacerbate the chronic lack of infrastructure. While the country has huge reserves of oil and gas, the lack of investment has created serious problems. Iran is compelled to import around 30-40 percent of its gasoline requirements due to a shortage of refining capacity.

Earlier this month, the US Congress imposed its own unilateral sanctions, with legislation aimed at choking off gasoline exports and bringing the Iranian economy to its knees. Under the new law, foreign companies engaged in selling refined petroleum products to Iran face being excluded from the US financial system and markets.
The US legislation threatens to create further tensions not only with Iran, but also with other countries such as China and Russia that agreed to last month’s UN Security Council resolution on the basis that Iran’s energy sector was excluded from penalties. China is a major importer of Iranian oil and has plans for extensive investment in Iranian gas fields. Russia has reacted angrily to the latest EU sanctions, declaring them “unacceptable” and showing “disdain for the carefully calibrated and co-ordinated provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions”.

The Obama administration is mounting a diplomatic offensive to pressure countries not only to impose the UN Security Council sanctions, but to reinforce the unilateral penalties of the US and its allies. According to the US State Department, its special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, Robert Einhorn, will visit South Korea and Japan next week. US Treasury official Stuart Levey will head to the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon and Bahrain, and another top official will travel to Brazil and Ecuador.

Einhorn announced that he and a senior treasury official would travel to China later in August to raise US concerns “at the highest levels”. He said: “We need for them to enforce the Security Council resolutions conscientiously and we also need for them not to ‘backfill’ when responsible countries have distanced themselves from Iran.” By not “backfilling,” Einhorn means that the US will insist that China does not step up its sales of refined petroleum products to Iran or expand its investments in the energy sector as other countries pull out—something that Beijing did not agree to at the UN Security Council.

The focus on Iran’s oil and gas highlights the real motivations behind the US campaign, which has little to do with alleged plans to build nuclear weapons. Washington is exploiting Tehran’s nuclear programs as a means of undercutting the economic interests of its European and Asian rivals in Iran, while seeking to refashion a regime in Tehran that is more acquiescent to broader US ambitions for dominance in the key energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia.

As the EU imposed sanctions on Monday, Iran indicated through a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it would be willing to restart negotiations over a deal tentatively reached last year to exchange low-enriched uranium for fuel rods needed for its research reactor in Tehran. The US State Department announced on Wednesday that Washington was “fully prepared” to take part in talks, along with other major powers, to discuss the reactor proposal and Iran’s nuclear programs more broadly.

However, even if such talks are convened, there is virtually no prospect of reviving the nuclear exchange deal or a negotiated end to the present confrontation. Just before last month’s UN Security Council vote, Brazil, Turkey and Iran publicly announced a revised version of the exchange agreement, which was abruptly rejected by Washington. The chief purpose of US participation in previous joint talks with Iran was to enlist the support of the European powers, alienated by the Bush administration’s unilateral actions, for tougher action and to neutralise the objections raised by China and Russia. Having achieved its purpose, the US is likely to use any future talks simply as a forum for presenting its ultimatums to Iran.

The most striking aspect of the discussion in US ruling circles following the adoption of the new UN sanctions is open scepticism that economic penalties will achieve Washington’s aims. There is a renewed push for the “military option”. Reflecting this debate, former CIA director Michael Hayden, who served under Bush, declared that “in my personal thinking … I have begun to consider that [a military strike against Iran] may not be the worst of all possible outcomes.”

Hayden claimed, without offering any evidence, that Iran’s drive toward obtaining a nuclear weapon “seems inexorable”. He conceded that Tehran might not actually build an atomic bomb, but added that having the capacity to do so at short notice, was “as destabilising as their actually having a weapon”. He dismissed diplomacy and sanctions as ineffective, saying: “We engage. They will continue to move forward. We vote for sanctions. They continue to move forward. We try to deter, to dissuade. They continue to move forward.”

Similar sentiments were voiced by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, who visited Washington this week for talks on Iran and the so-called Middle East peace process. He told the Washington Post last week: “I don’t see it [sanctions] as working as of now.” Barak noted that there was not international unanimity on the most aggressive penalties, adding: “Probably at a certain point we should realise that sanctions cannot work.” Israel has repeatedly declared that it will not permit Iran to develop a nuclear weapons capacity and has threatened military action against its nuclear facilities.
Whether initiated by Israel or the US, any military aggression against Iran threatens to trigger a broader regional conflict that could drag in major powers, including Russia and China. The Obama administration’s drive for tougher sanctions leads relentlessly to the next step—a reckless new American military adventure in the Middle East. (WSWS)

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UN court upholds Kosovo’s declaration of independence

The United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled last week by ten votes to four that Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia on February 17, 2008 was legal.

The ICJ agreed to rule on the legality of Kosovo’s secession at the request of Serbia, which argued that the Serbian province’s declaration of independence was prohibited under international law. The verdict was condemned by Serbian President Boris Tadic, who warned that the ICJ opinion could open up “an entire process of creating new states … throughout the world, something that would destabilize many regions of the world.”

The ICJ’s ruling was a highly political decision of dubious legal merit. It provided judicial cover for the final act in a decade-long drive by the major Western powers to dismember Yugoslavia and weaken Serbia.

The most flagrant sophistry in the ruling was its assertion that Kosovo’s declaration of independence was not connected “with the unlawful use of force or other egregious violations of norms of general international law.”

Kosovo has been a constituent part of Serbia for centuries and was internationally recognised as such from 1912. It was only in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 that the imperialist powers switched to backing agitation by Albanian Kosovars for separation as part of their broader geo-political agenda in the Balkan Peninsula.

The demands for Kosovan independence had themselves been encouraged by Western backing for Croatia and Slovenia’s unilateral declarations of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

These actions, in which a newly unified and more assertive Germany played the lead role, shattered the delicate political and legal framework that had been established within the Yugoslav federation to protect the rights of various minorities.

The result was a series of nationalist eruptions and reprisals, which were used by the United States to assert hegemony in the Balkans. Washington seized on the Bosnian civil war of 1992 to 1995 to champion Bosnia’s attempt to break from Yugoslavia in the name of “self-determination.”

The one factor unifying the Western powers was a common desire to undermine Serbia—the largest constituent part of Yugoslavia and one which traditionally had the closest relations with Russia—so as to divide the multiethnic Yugoslav state into ever-smaller autonomous units that would be more subservient to their interests.
The bloody outbreak of ethnic cleansing on the part of Croats, Bosnian Muslims and Serbs was encouraged by the West and the resulting humanitarian crisis utilised as a means of expanding imperialist military intervention in the region.

This is what determined the backing of the US and others for the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA)—a semi-criminal organisation linked to the drug trade and supported by the CIA and British intelligence.

There is no question that Serb policy in Kosovo had, since 1989, been characterised by chauvinism and repression. But when it suited Washington’s policies, as in Croatia’s mass expulsion of the Krajina Serbs in 1995, such atrocities were carried out with direct US support.

In the case of Kosovo, provocations were mounted by the KLA with the intention of causing reprisals by Belgrade, which in turn were used by the US to justify a military attack on Serbia in 1999.

The massive air bombardment of Belgrade between March and June that year was illegal under international law. Never sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council, it was launched unilaterally by the US and NATO. Involving 1,000 aircraft and the use of Tomahawk cruise missiles, it killed an estimated 5,000 Serb civilians, caused a flood of refugees, and gravely intensified the humanitarian crisis as well as leading to further ethnic reprisals.

UN Resolution 1244, which ended the air war, guaranteed the territorial integrity of Serbia, including Kosovo, even as it turned the province into a de facto UN protectorate. Under UN control, Kosovo was turned over to the KLA, which proceeded to attack Kosovan Serbs, forcing thousands to flee.

In its ruling, the ICJ acknowledged that UN Resolution 1244 and subsequent agreements stipulated that any final political settlement for Kosovo was dependent upon agreement by all the parties concerned. It also accepted that under the UN Constitutional Framework for Provisional Self-Government, enacted in May 2001, Kosovo’s own institutions were specifically barred from making any unilateral decisions on the province’s status.

In a legal sleight of hand, the ICJ determined that the 2008 declaration of independence had not been made by the Assembly of Kosovo, even though its name was invoked at the meeting at which the declaration was issued. Rather, it stated obliquely, the declaration was made by “persons who acted together in their capacity as representatives of the people of Kosovo outside the framework of the interim administration.”

In truth, the declaration was made at the behest of the US and the European Union, which had been promoting Kosovo’s separation from Serbia over the preceding years.

It was the UN’s special envoy in Kosovo, Martti Ahtisaari, who, under pressure from Washington, first set down explicitly the plan for the province’s independence in March 2007, giving the green light for the unilateral declaration just 11 months later.

Even before the ICJ’s ruling was announced, Washington made clear it would back Kosovo’s declaration regardless. A White House statement “reaffirmed the United States’ full support for an independent, democratic, whole and multi-ethnic Kosovo whose future lies firmly within European and Euro-Atlantic institutions.”
It should be noted that within months of Kosovo’s declaration of independence, Georgia attacked the separatist enclave of South Ossettia, provoking a brief war with Russia. In that instance, the US adamantly rejected South Ossettia’s demand for independence and continues to do so.

Washington makes no attempt to justify this brazen double standard, other than with the legally absurd assertion that Kosovo is a unique case, which “doesn’t set any precedent for other regions or states.”

The ICJ has similarly declared that its ruling applies solely to Kosovo. Nor would it rule on the “legal consequences” of the unilateral declaration, or as to whether “Kosovo has achieved statehood,” it stated.
The verdict is intended to legitimise Kosovo’s separation from Serbia by clearing its path for membership of the UN. For this, Kosovo requires the recognition of two-thirds of the UN General Assembly. To date, 69 of the 192 member countries have done so. Following the ICJ ruling, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated Washington’s “call on those states that have not yet done so to recognise Kosovo.”

Amongst those opposing UN recognition of Kosovo are Russia, China, Indonesia, Spain, Cyprus and Greece. All face secessionist movements in their own countries that will have been encouraged by the ICJ’s ruling.

Condemning the ICJ’s verdict, Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, stated, “We will not accept the splitting of a country that is a member of the United Nations. On principle, we consider Serbia a unified whole.” China’s foreign ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, said that “respecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity is a fundamental principle of international law.”

Spain’s deputy prime minister, Maria Fernandez de la Vega, reiterated that Spain would not “recognize the seceded Serbian province as an independent country.”

Turkey, one of the first countries to recognize Kosovan independence, welcomed the ICJ verdict, hoping that it would aid its case for an independent Turkish state in Cyprus.

Talk of Kosovan independence, however, is little more than a legal fiction. Economically, it is heavily dependent on international aid and all major decisions pertaining to the economy, public spending, social programmes, security and trade are controlled by the US, the European Union and their various agencies.

More fundamentally, what the ICJ ruling has really established is a legal imprimatur for the assertion by the imperialist powers that they alone will determine who has the right to independence, based upon their interests at any given time. (WSWS)      

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Monday, 19 July 2010

Arab autocracy: Thank you and goodbye

For good or ill, change is coming to Egypt and Saudi Arabia soon


THE fate of the Arab world's two most important states lies in the hands of ageing autocrats. Hosni Mubarak, an 82-year-old air-force general who has ruled Egypt since 1981, is widely reported to be grievously ill. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, who assumed the throne of the Arabs' richest country five years ago but has run the show for longer, is reckoned to be 86. The grim reaper will bring change in both places soon.

Maybe the old men will manage to control their succession. President Mubarak has been preparing the ground for his son, Gamal, to take over (see special report). King Abdullah's anointed successor, Crown Prince Sultan, one of his 18 surviving brothers, has long been poorly, but there are plenty more where he came from (see article). Decades of repression have ensured that the opposition is quiescent in Egypt and virtually inaudible in Saudi Arabia. But they have also made these countries vulnerable to violent disruption. Transition in autocracies often means instability.

The fate of these two countries matters to the West for two big reasons: energy and security. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have been reliable, if flawed, allies. Should they stumble, the West's interests in the region will be imperilled. That is why those regimes need to be encouraged to liberalise their countries' economic and political systems further and turn them into places where change brings hope not fear.

What's wrong with them…

The problem of Arab governance is by no means confined to those big two. In the past few centuries the Arabs, once pre-eminent in a host of skills, from astronomy and algebra to architecture and engineering, have seen their societies stagnate and fester. Though blessed with natural resources, especially the oil that has enriched Arab dynasties and their subservient elites while often leaving the masses in penury, few Arab countries have seen their non-oil economies flourish or their people enjoy the public services or freedoms taken for granted elsewhere.

Of the Arab League's 22 members, not a single one is a stable and fully fledged democracy. Fragile but sophisticated Lebanon may come nearest, despite its lethal rivalries between sect and clan and failure to get a single national army to control all its territory (see article). Post-Saddam Iraq has had genuine multiparty elections but is mired in corruption, violence and sectarian strife. The Palestinians had a fair election in 2006 but the winners, the Islamists of Hamas, were not allowed to govern. A handful of other countries, such as Morocco and Kuwait, have multiparty systems, but monarchs still rule the roost. And where they have given way to republicans, new dynasties, such as Syria's today and Libya's probably tomorrow, still hold sway. Even sub-Saharan Africa has a better record of electoral freedom.

The rulers of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, ancient as they are, have made improvements. Egypt's economy has belatedly begun to grow quite fast. The Saudi king is educating his people, even women-though he still won't let them drive a car. He has spent more than $12 billion creating just one new university near the Red Sea port of Jeddah, while pouring many more billions into ambitious projects, such as high-speed railways, that should benefit everyone. But the closed political systems of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the uncertainties of dynastic power-mongering and the corruption inherent in patronage-ridden autocracies still often leads to plotting at the top and frustration that could spill over into anger at the bottom. That becomes more likely as the internet, mobile phones and easier travel make people far less easy to control.

It would be naive to urge or expect either country to become a full-blooded democracy in a trice. Each could descend into chaos, winding up with a fundamentalist version of Islamist rule that would make the present regimes look cuddly by comparison. Many Egyptians, including reform-minded professionals, fear that the Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood, the unofficial opposition, would never relinquish power once they had won it at the ballot box. Sensible Saudis know that those who sympathise with their compatriot Osama bin Laden would impose an incomparably nastier regime than the present one, if given the freedom to do so.

All the same, the suppression of Egypt's Muslim Brothers, who have a large following, has been unwise as well as unjust. Thousands of them are in jail; many have been tortured. Leading Brothers repeatedly disavow violence and jihad, insisting that they, like Turkey's mild Islamists, would hold multiparty elections if they ever won power-and would graciously bow out if the voters told them to. Mr Mubarak must seek to draw the Brothers openly into the parliamentary and perhaps even ministerial fold, and test their sincerity, at first by giving them a chance to run local councils. And in the presidential election due next year, all the obstacles that make it nigh-impossible for a relative outsider, such as Mohamed ElBaradei, a former head of the UN's nuclear watchdog, to compete, should be swept away. As for the Saudis, their king should at least encourage his Allegiance Commission, an inner family body of some 35 princes that is meant to oversee the succession, to skip a generation rather than plod down the geriatric line of the surviving sons of the founding king.

…and what's to be done

Elections, though vital in the end, are not an early panacea. What the Arabs need most, in a hurry, is the rule of law, independent courts, freeish media, women's and workers' rights, a market that is not confined to the ruler's friends, and a professional civil service and education system that are not in hock to the government, whether under a king or a republic. In other words, they need to nurture civil society and robust institutions. The first task of a new Saudi king should be to enact a proper criminal code.

In the Arab lexicon, the concept of justice means more than democracy. In the end, you cannot have the first without the second. But the systems that now prevail in the Arab world provide for neither. (The Economist)

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Sunday, 18 July 2010

Al-Quds Cannot Be Liberated by Empty Rhetoric

The deadly Israeli assault on the aid flotilla left 9 Muslims (of Turkish origin) martyred and many others injured. Despite many bold statements from the Turkish government led by the AKP, Gaza remains occupied and our brothers and sisters continue to suffer. No one should compare the AKP to the Uthmani Khilafah, as the Khilafah actually acted to protect the Ummah and its honour. More importantly, it is only through the re-establishment of the Khilafah Rashidah that the Muslims will be alleviated of the suffering imposed at the hands of the occupiers and the agent Muslim rulers that litter our lands.


On May 30th 2010, six cargo ships carrying 663 civilians departed for Gaza. Their intent was to break the Israeli-Egyptian sanctions that have crippled the Muslims of Gaza, by bringing medical supplies, construction materials and other aid. Israeli Defense Forces raided the flotilla's largest ship, the MV Mavi Marmara in international waters. Nine activists – all Muslims of Turkish decent – were shot and martyred by the Israeli commandos and dozens of others were injured. Turkey’s response was to recall its ambassador from Tel Aviv and to halt joint military exercises with Israel. Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Relations for Turkey, told the Turkish daily Hurriyet, "Israelis have three options: They will either apologize or acknowledge an international-impartial inquiry and its conclusion. Otherwise, our diplomatic ties will be cut off."
Using Palestine for political gain

It is well known that the plight of Muslims living in Palestine is something dear to the hearts of all Muslims. The current Muslim rulers have been shamelessly using the occupation as a way to achieve political gains with the Ummah. For example, Saddam Hussein launched Scud Missiles at Israel during the Gulf War in 1991. The damage was minimal but it was an attempt by Saddam to bolster support from the Muslims. Similarly, the Turkish government, led by the AKP, has used the flotilla issue to prevent further loss of support from its political base in Turkey.

Since March of last year, the AKP has been losing its credibility amongst its citizens for 3 main reasons:

With the deteriorating economy that began in October 2008, Erdogan confidently assured the Turkish citizens that the crisis had already bypassed the country. As time elapsed, the citizens did not see any improvement – rather their conditions worsened.

Failure to restore the rights of Muslims (i.e. wearing the hijab in public institutions) has put the AKP in a strategic dilemma domestically as it has not been able to deliver on promises made to its grassroots supporters.

Failure of Turkey to be accepted as a member of the European Union.
With the threat of being marginalized or deemed unworthy of governing the country, the AKP was in dire need of reversing its collapsing political fortunes.

On January 28th of this year, when a registered Turkish NGO, IHH (İnsan Hak ve Hürriyetleri ve İnsani Yardım Vakfı), along with the Free Gaza Movement announced their plans to send boats full of aid to Gaza, their announcement was made with the knowledge and support of the Turkish government since the MV Mavi Marmara was a ship purchased from a government owned and established company - İDO Istanbul Fast Ferries Co. Inc. Furthermore, they set sail from Istanbul’s Haydarpaşa port, with the full authorization of the Turkish authorities.

After the horrific incident in which the 9 Muslims were killed and dozens more injured by Israeli forces, bold statements were made by the Turkish government officials including:

President Erdogan calling the incident a “bloody massacre” and that the raid, “deserves every kind of curse”.

Turkish Foreign Ministry officials stating that the raid could result in “irreversible damage” to their relations with Israel.

Zafer Caglayan, Minister of Foreign Trade and member of AKP stating, "The inhumane attitude and the state terror conducted by Israel may cause the discarding of all trade figures, no matter how high they might be."

Ahmet Davutoglu, Minister of Foreign Relations for Turkey giving the ultimatum for Israel to apologize, acknowledge an impartial inquiry or suffer the consequence of diplomatic ties being cut between Turkey and Israel.
It is quite clear that none of these threats will materialize for 2 reasons. Firstly, we saw a similar statements made by Erdogan at the Davos conference after the Gaza massacre in 2008-2009 when he said to Israeli President Shimon Peres, “Your voice is high and I know it is because of a psychology of guilt. When it comes to killing, you know very well how to kill. I know very well how you hit and killed children at the beaches. You have prime ministers who had said they felt quite happy when they entered in Palestine on tanks.” Erdogan also lashed out at the audience who applauded Peres after his speech saying, "I also condemn those people who applaud this cruelty. I believe that applauding the people who killed children is a crime against humanity." None of these comments materialized into any action.
Secondly we see the Turkish Government actively involved in a strategic relation with Israel including:

Drones – Reuters reported that Defense Minister Vecdi Gonul stated that, “a diplomatic crisis with Israel after the Jewish state stormed a Turkish-backed aid convoy will not affect the planned delivery of Israel-made Heron drones to Turkey”

Oil – A major pipeline project between Turkey and Israel, known as MedStream, is under way. The pipeline, if realized, will ship oil, natural gas and electricity from Turkey's Mediterranean port of Ceyhan to southern Israel and from there to India.

Land – The recently demined lands between the Turkish-Syrian border is being sold to an Israeli company.

Trade – Trade between Turkey and Israel was $1.4 billion in 2002 when AKP came to power, and has since surged to $3.3 billion in 2008 – a 134% increase.
On June 30th – only one month after what Erdogan termed a “bloody massacre” – the Israeli Trade and Industry Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer met Ahmet Davutoglu in Brussels. This meeting only further supports the notion that the AKP is not serious about following through with any of its empty threats as they are nothing more than populist attempts to regain the favour of the Muslim masses.

AKP: Uthmani resurgence or political opportunism?

Some media have attempted over the years to portray the AKP government as having similarities to the Uthmani Khilafah. More specifically, the move by Turkey to strengthen its ties with other Muslim countries and to speak out against the atrocities in Gaza in 2008-2009 has given President Erdogen the nickname “Sultan Erdogen” – similar to how the Khulafah were given the title of Sultan during the Uthmani Khilafah. Let us look at how the Uthmani Khilafah assisted Muslims in need:
Aceh: In the early 1500’s, the Portuguese invaded Aceh - a small but strategically important land mass that is located in Indonesia. In 1547 the the first Achinese envoy reached the Uthmani Khilafah with requests for weapons and military support. Sultan Selim II sent a letter to Aceh, stressing that it was the Khalifah’s duty to accept the requests of Muslim rulers when they need aid in fighting invaders. He mentioned how he would send a fleet and that his troops would have the duty to repel the Portuguese invasion. Sultan Selim II’s warm attitude towards the Achinese was further stressed by his call to the other governors of the Khilafah to assist the ambassador and all Achinese envoys in every way possible, without the need to inform the central government.

Algeria: After Algeria had liberated themselves from the Spanish occupation in 1517, they rejoined the Uthmani Khilafah. Knowing that the Spanish would return, the Khalifah sent Janissaries (personal body guards and troops of the Khalifah), galleys and cannons as support. Unfortunately the Spanish returned in 1518, defeated the Uthmani army and killed the appointed governor. As a response, the Khalifah sent the Uthmani Admiral Hayreddin Barboussa. Under his leadership, the Uthmani army engaged in battle against the Spanish for the successful liberation of Muslim lands.

Palestine: In 1901, the Jewish banker Mizray Qrasow and two other influential Jewish leaders came to visit Sultan Abdul Hameed offering to pay all of the debts incurred by the Uthmani Khilafah, assist in building the state navy and provide a loan of 35 Million Golden Liras without interest for state funds in exchange for allowing the Jews to visit Palestine to visit their holy sites and to allow the building of settlements near Jerusalem.
Abdul Hameed refused to even meet them. He told his assistant, "Tell those impolite Jews that the debts of the Ottoman state are not a shame, France has debts and that doesn't effect it. Jerusalem became a part of the Islamic land when Omar Bin Alkhattab took the city and I am not going to carry the historical shame of selling the holy lands to the Jews and betraying the responsibility and trust of my people. May the Jews keep their money, the Ottoman's will not hide in castles built with the money of the enemies of Islam." He also told them to leave and never come back to meet him again.

Later in the same year, the founder of the Zionist movement, Theodor Herzl, visited Istanbul and tried to meet Abdul Hameed. Abdul Hameed refused to meet him and he told his Head of the Ministers Council to "Advise Dr. Herzl not to take any further steps in his project. I cannot give away a handful of the soil of this land for it is not my own, it is for the entire Islamic Nation. The Islamic Nation that fought Jihad for the sake of this land and they have watered it with their blood. The Jews may keep their money and millions. If the Islamic Khilafah State is one day destroyed then they will be able to take Palestine without a price! But while I am alive, I would rather push a sword into my body than see the land of Palestine cut and given away from the Islamic State. This is something that will not be; I will not start cutting our bodies while we are alive."

From the above examples, it is clear that it would be a grave injustice to compare AKP to the Uthmani Khilafah. The AKP broadcasts empty slogans, while the Uthmani Khilafah acted upon the book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of RasulAllah (saw) to defend this noble Ummah right until it was destroyed.

Something to think about

When reviewing the AKP government’s track record, by only analyzing its policies and accomplishments, and ignoring all its slogans, empty rhetoric and broken promises, one must ask if the AKP is really any different from other Muslim governments. Has it done anything to truly help our brothers and sisters in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere? At the very least, has it severed all ties with nations that occupy Muslim lands? How much longer do Muslims in Turkey have to wait until they see real change?

It is only through the re-establishment of the Khilafah Rashidah on the method of the Prophet (saw) that this pernicious occupation can be removed.

May Allah (swt) give us the strength to change the current situation to that which pleases Him and in the manner that He has prescribed.

“The Imam is a sheild from the back of which the Muslims fight and protect themselves. If the Imam commands to fear Allah and guides, his will be a big Reward, if he orders other than this he will bear the burden of it.” [Muslim] (PAM)

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Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Khilafah - Hope for the Ummah

This week, on the 28th of Rajab, the Ummah will mark the 89th anniversary of the fall of the Khilafah. We should use this anniversary as a reminder of our obligation - as an Ummah - to resume the Islamic way of life, through the re-establishment of the Khilafah.

Since the abolishment of the Khilafah in 1342/1924, the Ummah has witnessed a succession of despotic rulers whose sole concern has been to please their Capitalist masters. These dictators, the Assads, Mubaraks, and Zardaris of this Ummah, are eagerly financed, armed, and supported by the parliaments of North America and Europe. Such subjugation has resulted in the political, economic, and social hardships of the Ummah. For example:

• Poverty: A 2002 study by the Economist found that 1 out of 5 Arabs lives on less than $2 a day - and this was before the 2008 Financial Crisis.

• Corruption: According to Transparency International, Muslim countries account for 8 of the 10 most corrupt countries that were surveyed.

• War: According to the UN, the colonial wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have widowed 2 million and 744,000 women, respectively.

The contrast of the current reality to that of the past, when Islam was implemented, is stark:

• Economy: Under the Khilafah of Umar bin Abdul Aziz (rh), the State Treasury was overflowing with funds to the point that no person could be found to accept the Zakat.

• Governance: Also under Umar bin Abdul Aziz's (rh) Khilafah, good governance was established. When a man came to discuss personal matters with him, Umar (rh) blew out the state candle and used his personal candle, to ensure that he did not use state resources for personal benefit

• Security: When the hijab of one Muslim woman was violated by Roman soldiers, the Abbasid Khaleefah Mutasim (rh) mobilized an entire army to secure her safety and dignity.

Lack of Islamic Leadership: The Critical Issue

In this era, where the Muslims are in a state of subjugation and poverty, many sincere members of this Ummah have attempted to identify the root causes of the problems. Some may say the Ummah lacks resources and economic power. However, the lack of economic prosperity is a symptom of the actual problem. From a resources perspective, we are well aware that approximately 60% of the world's energy resources reside in the Muslim lands. Furthermore, if we analyze Pakistan - just one of the 54 "statelets" that the Ummah has been dismembered into - we find that it possesses the land area of both France and Britain combined. Pakistan also has the 6th largest population in the world. Furthermore, uniting the armies of Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, Indonesia, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Morocco would gather over 3 million soldiers - more than 20 times the number of American forces in Iraq. Clearly the resources (i.e. wealth of people, minerals, and land mass) are squarely located in the Muslim world. One might ask: if there is such an abundance of resources in the Muslim lands, then why do we find the Ummah in economic difficulty? The economic problems are linked to the lack of sincere leadership. More specifically, the current rulers do not govern this wealth according to the book of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. They instead govern it based on the dictates of their American and European masters.

Thus, the issue is not a lack of resources, but a lack of Islamic leadership. What we lack is the shield that RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم prescribed for us to use in order to protect ourselves. This shield is described in the following hadith:

"Indeed, the Imam (Khaleefah) is a shield, from behind whom you fight and by whom you are protected." [Muslim]

Allah سبحانه وتعالى has made it an obligation on us to refer solely to the Quran and the Sunnah of His beloved Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم in matters of ruling, economy, and settling the affairs of the people. As long as we tolerate the rule of the Muslim despots - who do not rule by what Allah سبحانه وتعالى has revealed - we can only expect our present-day condition to persist. Allah سبحانه وتعالى has revealed:

وَأَنِ احْكُمْ بَيْنَهُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ وَاحْذَرْهُمْ أَنْ يَفْتِنُوكَ عَنْ بَعْضِ مَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ إِلَيْكَ

"And rule between them by that which Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, but beware that they may turn you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you." [Al-Maaida, 5:49]

Re-establishing the Khilafah - a comprehensive system of governance, education, courts, and other societal institutions which are based on the Quran and Sunnah - in the Muslim lands is the only way of bringing Islam back into our daily lives, free from the influence and dominance of kufr.

Khilafah: One of the Highest Obligations

The fardiyah (obligation) of Khilafah is well known to the Ummah, but some may consider it a low priority. Allah سبحانه وتعالى has revealed:

فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنْفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا

"And no, by your Lord, they will not believe until they refer to your judgment in all disputes between them then find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission." [An-Nisaa, 4:65]

This means that if we differ on an issue - such as the priority of the Khilafah - we must refer to the Quran and Sunnah to resolve our disagreement.

By the mercy of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, the Shariah has identified certain issues as "vital", i.e. matters of life and death for the Ummah. If such issues are not attended to, then the Ummah's existence will be at stake. According to the Quran and Sunnah, when a hadith or ayat refers to taking of life, it signifies a vital issue. That is because the life of the human being is sacred and can only be violated under very specific circumstances.

Islam has made the unity of the Islamic Ummah and the unity of the State as one of the vital issues. This is manifested in two cases: plurality of Khulafaa' and rebellion against the Islamic State. Imam Muslim reported on the authority of Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-' Aas that he heard the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم say: "He who pledged his Bay' ah (oath) to an Imam giving him the clasp of his hand and the fruit of his heart shall obey him as long as he can, and if another comes to dispute with him, you must strike the neck of that man."

It has also been reported on the authority of Abu Said Al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

"If a Bay'ah has been taken for two Khaleefah's, kill the latter of them." [Muslim]

Hence, he صلى الله عليه وسلم made the unity of the State a vital issue when he prohibited the plurality of the Khulafaa' and ordered the death penalty for the one who insists, after being advised against it, on establishing multiple leaders within the Islamic State. It has also been reported on the authority of Arfaja who said: ‘I heard the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم say:

"He who comes to you while your affair has been united under one man, intending to drive a wedge between you or fragment your group (Jama' ah), kill him." [Muslim]

Now that the Islamic State no longer exists, these ahadith indicate the level of priority we must give to ensure that the Ummah is united under the leadership of one Khalifah (Caliph). We must understand that the unity of the Ummah is a "matter of life and death" and therefore we must exert our utmost effort to re-establish the Khilafah in the Muslim lands according to the Prophet's method.

The Return of the Khilafah

The current era of tyrannical rule over the Ummah was prophesized by Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم in the famous hadith narrated by Imam Ahmed (rh): "...there will be dictatorships that will last as long as Allah is willing..." However, the same hadith also predicts that, after this tyrannical era: "...there will be a Khilafah on the way of the Prophethood." Allah سبحانه وتعالى has promised victory to the Ummah.

He سبحانه وتعالى has revealed:

وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَىٰ لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُمْ مِنْ بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا

"Allah has promised such of you who believe and do good deeds that He will surely make them to succeed (the present rulers) in the earth even as He caused those before them to succeed (others); and He will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them, and will give in exchange safety after their fear." [An-Nur, 24:55]

Allah سبحانه وتعالى never fails in His promise. We should therefore be motivated by these ahadith and ayah to look forward to the return of the Khilafah as the hope for the Ummah. However, this does not give us the excuse to sit back and wait for the Khilafah. Instead we must reflect on the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم and follow his method in establishing the Khilafah, which includes taking halaqa with the goal of attaining the Islamic personality, interacting with the Ummah to create public opinion for Islam, and seeking the support of the people of power and influence for the re-establishment of the Khilafah. In order to do so, we must culture ourselves, as the Sahabah did in Dar-Al-Arqam, and rid ourselves of the influences of Capitalism and adopt the measures of halal and haram in our decision making. We must also work with the Ummah to convince her that Islam is the sole source of legislation and that Islam is sufficient: we do not need the ideas of Karl Marx, Adam Smith, or Barack Obama. Finally, we must work to convince the people of power in the Muslim lands to give the nusra to Islam - just as the Ansar gave nusra to Islam. Only intellectual and political means (e.g. discussion, leaflets, conferences, etc) can be used in the struggle to re-establish Khilafah, as RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم restricted himself to them and forbade the Sahabah from using armed struggle in establishing the Islamic State. He صلى الله عليه وسلم also did not participate in the political system of the Quraish: Dar-al Nadwa. Therefore, we are also forbidden from working through the non-Islamic political systems that are currently in place. If our goal is to implement the Deen of Allah سبحانه وتعالى, we must take the Quran and Sunnah as a reference point instead of our own desires.

May Allah سبحانه وتعالى grant this Ummah victory, so that we may worship Him as He has ordained us to worship.

وَقُلْ جَاءَ الْحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ الْبَاطِلُ ۚ إِنَّ الْبَاطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقًا

"And say: Truth has come, and falsehood has vanished away. Lo! Falsehood is ever bound to vanish." [al-Israa, 17:81] (Islamic Revival)
 
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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Improving Security Policy in Colombia

NB:

Part 01: Colombia Crisis Media Release (29 Jun 2010)

Colombia’s new government has to improve security policy to tackle the guerrilla tactics of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) as well as their broadened participation in drug trafficking and newly forged alliances with other illegal armed groups.

Improving Security Policy in Colombia , the latest briefing from the International Crisis Group, analyses FARC’s response to government military pressure during the past eight years and the emergence of alliances between the insurgents and other illegal armed groups. While the current administration has made important but insufficient achievements in the struggle against FARC, the country’s next president, Juan Manuel Santos, faces considerable challenges in consolidating security gains.

“The incoming Santos administration should acknowledge that Colombia has not reached the post-conflict phase yet and that it needs to implement an integrated conflict resolution strategy”, says Silke Pfeiffer, Crisis Group’s Colombia/Andes Project Director. “Otherwise there is a serious risk that security consolidation efforts may be undermined”.

President Álvaro Uribe’s eight-year military campaign against FARC, the country’s largest insurgent organisation, has produced tangible results but did not break the back of the insurgency. While FARC has lost thousands of fighters due to deaths in combat, captures and desertions, it is estimated to still have 8,000-10,000 troops. FARC has resorted to guerrilla tactics and the massive use of antipersonnel mines as well as snipers. It has broadened its participation in drug trafficking in Colombia and other parts of Latin America, particularly Panama, Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador.

A number of FARC units have formed alliances with other illegal armed groups, including paramilitary successors and new illegal armed groups (NIAGs), such as Rastrojos and Paisas. Most of these alliances are centred on drug trafficking. While often temporary and fragile, as with Colombia’s second-largest insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), they add a new dimension to the conflict. There is mounting evidence that Colombia’s security forces lack a strategy to confront this new threat. As part of an integrated conflict resolution strategy, the incoming government should reassess current security policy and the efforts to consolidate the gains achieved under Uribe.

The Santos administration must increase Colombia’s law enforcement and military capability against all illegal armed groups. This strategy should be based on in-depth analysis of the new tactics of, and alliances among, the different armed groups, including FARC, and their impact on citizen security. Increased protection of civilians, especially among vulnerable groups such as indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, is essential. The new government also has to strengthen institutions, expand the rule of law, rigorously protect human rights and reduce poverty.

“The Uribe administration’s military successes against FARC have led the government to turn a blind eye to new threats posed by NIAGs and FARC, which has been weakened but not defeated”, says Markus Schultze-Kraft, Crisis Group’s Latin America Program Director. “Security consolidation can only take root if Colombia tackles its pervasive problems of organised violence, criminality and illegality in an integrated manner”.

Part 02: Exclusive Summary & Overview

President Álvaro Uribe’s eight-year military campaign against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has taken a heavy toll on Colombia’s largest insurgent organisation. The government is now working to consolidate security gains by expanding state presence in several of the formerly most conflict-ridden regions. This strategy faces numerous challenges, not least because FARC’s command and control structure has not collapsed. The insurgents are adapting to military pressure through guerrilla warfare tactics, aggressive recruitment among rural populations, broadened involvement in drug trafficking and alliances with other armed groups and drug-trafficking organisations. Colombia’s next president, Juan Manuel Santos, will take office on 7 August. As part of an integrated conflict resolution strategy, his government must increase the country’s law enforcement and military capability against all illegal armed groups, including FARC. It also has to strengthen institutions, expand the rule of law, rigorously protect human rights, reduce poverty and design the political/negotiations component of a successful conflict resolution strategy. Security consolidation can only take root if Colombia tackles its pervasive problems of organised violence, criminality and illegality in an integrated manner.

Uribe’s sustained military campaign against FARC has produced tangible results but did not break the backbone of the 45-year old insurgency. While FARC has lost thousands of fighters due to deaths in combat, captures and desertions, it is estimated to still have 8,000-10,000 troops. Coerced recruitment of new members, mostly children and youngsters, among vulnerable groups such as Afro-Colombians and indigenous communities is ongoing. FARC has resorted to guerrilla tactics and the massive use of antipersonnel mines as well as snipers. It has expanded its participation in drug trafficking in Colombia and other parts of Latin America, particularly Panama, Venezuela, Brazil and Ecuador.

A number of FARC units have formed alliances with other illegal armed groups, including paramilitary successors and new illegal armed groups (NIAGs), such as Rastrojos and Paisas. Alliances are mostly centred on drug trafficking. While often temporary and fragile, as with Colombia’s second-largest insurgent group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), they add a new dimension to the conflict. Uribe’s military strategy against FARC was successful up to a point because it aimed at a more or less clearly defined and identified target. The threat posed by paramilitary successor groups, NIAGs and other criminal actors, and the alliances between them and FARC and ELN, is of a different, less structured and visible kind. There is mounting evidence that Colombia’s security forces lack a strategy to confront this new threat.

The new government should reassess current security policy and the efforts underway to consolidate the gains made under Uribe. The incoming Santos administration should acknowledge that Colombia has still not reached the post-conflict phase and implement an integrated conflict resolution strategy, which will be the subject of a forthcoming Crisis Group report. On security issues, the government should:

Maintain military pressure on FARC while effectively responding to the insurgents’ new modi operandi and their broadened participation in drug trafficking, while avoiding the human rights violations that have tarnished the record of the armed forces. This requires improving military intelligence and operational capacities as well as regional security cooperation, particularly with Brazil, Ecuador, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. As tense relations with Venezuela have facilitated an increase in cross-border crime, the incoming Colombian government has to make every effort to open a new chapter of bilateral cooperation in order to effectively cut off supply routes, support networks and trafficking chains. Relations with Ecuador also need to be fully re-established.

Develop and implement a comprehensive citizen security strategy to address the different threats emerging from FARC, ELN, paramilitary successors and NIAGs to both rural and urban populations. This strategy should be based on in-depth analysis of the new tactics of, and alliances among, the different armed groups and their impact on citizen security. Increased protection of civilians, especially among vulnerable groups such as indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities, is essential.

Tackle the threat posed by paramilitary successors and NIAGs by (a) officially acknowledging the expansion and complex nature of paramilitary successors and NIAGs and the severe humanitarian impact caused by their actions; (b) stepping up efforts to integrate effective law enforcement with military measures; and (c) decisively fighting and ending collusion and ties between illegal armed groups and members of local authorities and the security forces.

Advance military and citizen security policy reform in tandem with the implementation of the security consolidation strategy so as to increase the chances of success of the latter and rapidly shift it to a civilian-led operation with a whole-of-government budgetary commitment. (Ends/)

Read Full Report: Click here

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