MENA WATCH: Palestinians under constant threat of violence

MIDDLE EAST POLICY COUNCIL WASHINGTON

Medlir Mema, PhD – Fellow, Middle East Policy Council – 9/9/21

Israel’s manhunt following the escape of six Palestinians from a high-security Israeli prison has revealed the inhumane conditions under which thousands of Palestinians have languished for years.

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MENA WATCH : ALL UNDER BEGIN’S EYES – Sabra &Shatila: memories of a massacre by Steve Sweeney

17.9.2021 – Speaking to survivors on the ground in Lebanon, STEVE SWEENEY documents the events and legacy of the 1982 genocide of Palestinians carried out by Christian Phalangists with the support of Israel

 “This is not history for us,” Zeinab al-Hajj says as she grabs my arm. “We need journalists like you to tell our story, to keep the memory alive and make sure this never happens again.”

Zeinab is responsible for media relations in the Shatila Palestinian refugee camp, built in 1949 as a temporary site but now home to up to 22,000 people in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut.

Nearly 40 years ago today, it was the scene of a massacre in which thousands of men, women and children were brutally murdered in a depraved three-day killing spree by Christian Phalangist militias, with the co-operation of Israeli forces.

“Five generations are still living the war,” Zeinab continues, repeating: “It is not history for us: this is the same war every day. Every story has an end, but our story has no end.”

We are in a building belonging to Fatah, the governing party of the Palestinian Authority. Photos of the late Yasser Arafat adorn the walls, along with other fallen leaders of the liberation struggle.

It is not only Fatah that is present in the camp. All the Palestinian factions are represented, their posters pasted on the same walls where men, women and children were lined up and shot in September 1982.

Estimates vary as to the number killed by the right-wing Christian militia, who claimed to have entered the camp to flush out the remaining “terrorists” of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), accused of creating “a state within a state” in Lebanon.

The late Robert Fisk, one of the first journalists to enter the camp after the killings, reported: “After three days of rape, fighting and brutal executions, militias finally leave the camps with 1,700 dead.” Others, including the Lebanese Red Cross, numbered the dead at 3,500.

The exact total may never be known as Israeli-supplied bulldozers moved swiftly into the camp, dumping decaying corpses into mass graves that were later hit by bombs.

Read the full article here: https://www.peaceinkurdistancampaign.com/sabra-and-shatila-memories-of-a-massacre-by-steve-sweeney/

 

 

MENA WATCH:  After Israel allowed Morocco the West Sahara (POLISARIO)

Aron Lund 16.9.2021

Perhaps a quid pro quo for Biden keeping Trump’s recognition of Western Sahara as Moroccan soil? Or, perhapsier, preparation for coming feuds with/within EU? (Court of Justice ruling expected Sep. 29.) Whatever it is, clearly no genuine interest in restarting talks at this point.

After stalling for half a year, Morocco greenlights former Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura’s appointment as UN mediator in the Western Sahara conflict. https://rfi.fr/fr/afrique/20210916-le-maroc-soutient-de-mistura-comme-nouvel-émissaire-de-l-onu-pour-le-sahara-occidental

More www.mesop.de

 

MENA WATCH: Ankara calls on EU to help Afghanistan’s neighbors

Turkey’s president told German President Steinmeier that the EU member states should provide swift assistance to Afghanistan’s neighbors to cope with irregular migration.Nazlan Ertan AL MONITOR – September 14, 2021

 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan renewed a call to the European Union to help Afghanistan’s neighbors cope with the Afghan refugee influx, warning against reliving the 2015 Syrian refugee wave.

Tens of thousands of displaced Syrians first crossed into neighboring countries in 2015 and then sought to get into more prosperous European countries. Ankara and Brussels then agreed on the 2016 Turkey-EU statement, a complex and fragile accord under which the EU set up the billion-euro Facility for Refugees in Turkey to help Ankara stop irregular migration to the EU. The deal also included vaguely worded promises to upgrade the Turco-EU customs union, liberalize visas for Turkish citizens and revive the accession negotiations.

In a phone call to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier Tuesday, Erdogan repeated that Turkey does not have the capacity to deal with a new migration burden, a statement from the Presidency Communication Directorate said.

“The president pointed out that Turkey and Germany, two NATO allies, has shown exemplary cooperation and coordination during the evacuation from Afghanistan, and expressed hope that this would continue during the critical period that Afghanistan is traversing,” read the statement.

Facing anti-immigration backlash at home, Erdogan has been in contact with European leaders from German Chancellor Angela Merkel to EU Council President Charles Michel to prevent irregular migration from Afghanistan and provide help to the displaced Afghans in the “neighboring countries” of Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Iran.

Erdogan also urged Steinmeier to “take rapid action” on the unfulfilled elements of the 2016 accord, such as an update of the Turco-EU customs union, visa liberalization for Turks and revived accession talks. Given the largely ceremonial role of the German president, these last points in particular sound more like political posturing than an actual request for action.

Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu echoed the same line on Afghanistan at a high-level UN ministerial meeting on the Afghan humanitarian situation Monday. Underlining the need for “urgent global action” for an effective response to the security and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, Cavusoglu pointed out that nearly half of the population is in need of urgent humanitarian aid and a third of the Afghan people face hunger.

The foreign minister told Turkey’s NTV last week that the best way to solve the Afghan migrant crisis was to solve the conflict domestically to ensure that people are not forced to leave their homes.

“It is also crucial to provide assistance to neighboring countries like Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Iran,” he said. “There is not considerable movement now [toward Turkey] but we need to be prepared” for future scenarios.

The EU “joins Turkey” in its aim to support the countries neighboring Afghanistan to provide asylum for Afghan refugees, Nikolaus Meyer-Landrut, the head of the EU Delegation to Turkey, assured Monday from Turkish-Iran border city of Van, a major human trafficking route to Europe.

“The European Union has announced that it will increase by four times its humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan by the end of 2021, bringing it to more than 200 million euros [$236 million],” Meyer-Landrut, a German diplomat who served as the chief adviser for European affairs to Chancellor Angela Merkel between 2011 and 2015, told Daily Sabah. “We share the analysis of Foreign Minister Cavusoglu that it is now critical to bring assistance to the people of Afghanistan as quickly as possible.”

Turkey, which already hosts 3.7 million Syrians, is concerned about a potential influx of refugees fleeing the Taliban. Ankara say there are 182,000 registered Afghan migrants in Turkey and up to an estimated 120,000 unregistered ones.

Read more: https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/09/ankara-calls-eu-help-afghanistans-neighbors#ixzz76Y1vv5wf

 

 

 

 

MENA WATCH: U.S. Policy on the Mediterranean &the Role of PMCs

by Anna Borshchevskaya Sep 10, 2021 – Also published in SHADE MED

Anna Borshchevskaya is a senior fellow at The Washington Institute, focusing on Russia’s policy toward the Middle East.

Although Biden may not see Russia as his top priority, Moscow’s proxy military activities in the Mediterranean are directly aimed at diluting Washington’s leverage in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe.

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MENA WATCH : Saudi Arabia seeks low key influence in Afghanistan

Riyadh is looking to expand its relationship with the Taliban, to expand and protect its interests in the region, and counter Iranian influence.Sabena Siddiqui AL MONITOR  15.9.2021

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MENA WATCH: WE ACCEPT NEW OBAMA DEAL – Gantz: Israel can ‘live with’ new Iran nuclear deal

 

Defense Minister Benny Gantz tells Foreign Policy journal that he can “accept” US approach of “putting Iran back in its box,” but wants to see a “viable Plan B.”

By  ILH Staff , Erez Linn ISRAEL HAYOM  15.9.2021

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MENA WATCH : Kurdistan’s Weekly Brief, September 14, 2021

A weekly brief of events occurred in the Kurdistan regions of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.
Iran 

  • The Iranian regime acted on its previous threats to carry out operations in Iraqi Kurdistan by dispatching warplanes, UAVs, and at least one suicide drone to attack Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDP-I) positions near Erbil Governorate’s Choman and Sadikan subdistricts on Thursday and Friday. The Cooperation Center for Iranian Kurdistan’s Political Parties (CCIKP) condemned the attacks, which damaged property but caused no reported casualties, and accused the Iranian regime of “running away from dozens of internal crises by creating another.” The CCIKP also called for the Government of Iraq (GOI), Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), international community, and freedom seekers to “put an end to the regime’s violations.”
  • The Hengaw Organization for Human Rights reported Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps intelligence officers (Ettela’at) tortured a Kurdish activist named Yasir Mangori to death in Urmia. Moreover, Iranian security forces detained eight Kurds in Mehabad, two siblings, Bahrouz and Rasul Azizi, in Sanandaj (Sena), Kamil Salahi in Baneh, and a teenager named Mohammed Fardani in Sardasht. Lastly, Mehabad’s Islamic Revolutionary Court sentenced a Kurdish man named Saed Fathi to four years and two months in prison for “membership in a Kurdish opposition party.”
  • Iranian border guards killed a Kurdish border porter (kolbar) named Rasul Karimi and wounded three near Baneh on Saturday. Iranian border guards also wounded two shepherds in the same area on Friday. Lastly, Iranian authorities killed a kolbar named Sirwan Golzari near Marivan, and another was injured when he fell from a cliff near Nowsud.

Iraq 

  • Iranian-backed militias targeted US personnel stationed at Erbil International Airport with two suicide drones late Saturday, but US defense systems shot down both drones and ensured the attack caused no casualties and minimal disruption of airport activities. The US and KRG both condemned the attacks, while several Kurdish officials also blamed a lack of cooperation between Iraqi forces and the Peshmerga in the “Disputed Territories” for creating a security environment favorable to Iranian proxies and called for the implementation of several previous agreements intended to facilitate joint operations. Saturday’s attack, which was the sixth in Erbil since September 2020, coincided with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Khadimi’s visit to Tehran that was intended to reduce the number of Iranian proxy operations in Iraq.
  • ISIS (Da’esh) again exploited the fragile security situation in the “Disputed Territories” by killing a police officer and three civilians near Makhmour on Saturday. That said, the US provided the Peshmerga and Iraqi forces with additional equipment to bolster their ability to combat terrorist organizations.
  • The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) ended its four-year absence from Kirkuk by launching a parliamentary election campaign in the governorate. KDP candidate Shakhwan Abdullah claimed the party intends to reopen its Kirkuk headquarters, which was occupied and closed by Iraqi security forces on October 16, 2017, next week. Meanwhile, Iraq’s Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) has formed a committee to supervise the nation’s parliamentary elections scheduled for October 10, though lack of primary services and sectarian and ethnic tensions have led to expectations of low voter turnout.
  • Turkish warplanes injured two civilians and damaged homes in Sulaymaniyah Governorate’s Sangaser subdistrict last Tuesday. Ongoing Turkish operations in Iraqi Kurdistan, which Turkey has repeatedly claimed are targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), have killed dozens of civilians and forced the evacuation of hundreds of villages.

Syria 

  • The League of Arab States (LAS) held its 156th session of foreign ministers in Cairo on Thursday and released a statement that rejected Turkish aggression in Turkey and Libya and called for Turkey to stop “hosting radical groups” and withdraw its forces from Arab states. The LAS statement also denounced Iran’s “continuous interference in Arab affairs” and emphasized the necessity of Iran halting its support of groups that fuel conflicts on Arab soil.
  • The Turkish military and its Islamist proxies shelled several villages in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF)-controlled territory near Ain Essa, Tal Tamer, and Manbij last week. Turkish artillery strikes also wounded two Syrian Arab Army (SAA) personnel west of Turkish-occupied Giri Sip (Tal Abyad). That said, the SDF announced it repelled Turkish-backed fighters’ attempt to infiltrate several areas northwest of Manbij.
  • The head of the SDF’s Office of Media and Information, Farhad Shami, released footage that purportedly shows several members of the Turkish-backed “Sunni Hawk” group torturing a civilian. Simultaneously, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported Turkish proxies in Afrin arbitrarily arrested five Kurdish civilians, seized a Kurdish man’s house, and imposed levies on residents in Barrad village for harvesting their crops.

Tukey 

  • In an op-ed published in Turkish news outlets, the jailed Kurdish politician and former head of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP), Selahattin Demirtaş called on Turkey’s components to work together in the upcoming “most important” elections. “Kurds, Alevis, conservatives, socialists, Kemalists, democratic nationalists, should be able to act together over common ground,” said Demirtaş, claiming that if not, then Turkey’s ruling party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) will try to make its “authoritarian regime permanent.” Demirtaş’s remarks come as the HDP faces closure by the government and Turkish opposition parties have yet to form any alliances for the 2023 elections.
  • On Thursday, the 5th High Criminal Court in Diyarbakir (Amed) held a new hearing for the jailed Kurdish politician and co-founder of the Rosa Women’s Association, Ayla Akat Ata. The Turkish government has accused Ata of “making propaganda for a terrorist organization” in what has become known as the “Kobani Trial.” Furthermore, during a hearing against another prominent Kurdish activist, Ayşe Gökkan, the judge had lawyers removed and court police attempted to arrest several of those related to Gökkan who were in attendance. Meanwhile, the Turkish police arrested a human rights activist named Tahir Tüyben in Mersin for social media posts.

MENA WATCH : THE ABRAHAM ACCORDS ONE YEAR LATER / THE SOUFAN CENTER

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

 

  • The Biden administration is downplaying, but not abandoning, the “Abraham Accords,” and seeks to revive the traditional U.S. effort to resolve the Israel-Palestinian dispute.
  • The Biden administration’s nuclear diplomacy with Iran undermines the Trump administration’s strategic rationale for brokering the Abraham Accords.
  • The Biden administration is implementing its predecessor’s separate incentives provided to Arab states that signed onto the Abraham Accords.
  • The Biden administration’s tepid embrace of the Abraham Accords makes it unlikely that other Arab states will join the pact in the foreseeable future.
At the White House on September 15, 2020, the United States, Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain signed the “Abraham Accords”, a joint statement pledging the normalization of relations between the signing parties. The Accords grew out of the August 2020 announcement that the UAE and Israel had agreed to establish formal diplomatic relations, the first public normalization of relations between an Arab country and Israel since the 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty. In the weeks following the 2020 White House signing, two other Arab states—Morocco and Sudan—agreed to join the Accords and take similar steps to develop formal ties with Israel. The Accords followed a decade-long process of increasingly close but informal security and cultural ties between Israel and several Arab states fostered to contain Iran and combat regional extremist groups.

The Trump administration brokered the normalization agreements, at least in part, to further its “maximum pressure” strategy to contain Iran. According to Trump administration officials, drawing Israel and the Gulf states into a closer and open relationship would isolate Iran and help roll back its regional influence. The Accords also reflected the Trump administration’s decision to end the longstanding U.S. role as an honest broker of an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, instead cutting off Palestinian assistance and backing the Israeli government’s opposition to a “two-state solution.” The UAE and Bahrain governments were criticized by some of their citizens, as well as by other Arab states, for deviating from an Arab consensus that peace with Israel should follow, not precede, a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian settlement. The Trump administration’s strategic rationale for the Abraham Accords does not comport with Biden administration’s regional strategy. The Biden administration has stressed the need for an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement, and has engaged in diplomacy with Iran on a mutual return to full compliance with the 2015 multilateral Iran nuclear deal—an agreement the Trump administration exited in favor of its maximum pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic.

Yet, in order to express continued support for Israel and pro-U.S. Arab states in the Gulf and elsewhere, the Biden administration has upheld the Abraham Accords and incentives that the Trump administration used to induce the Arab parties to sign the pact. According to Biden administration diplomats, “We welcome and support the normalization agreements between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim world. The United States will continue to encourage other countries to normalize relations with Israel, and we will look for other opportunities to expand cooperation among countries in the region.” The Biden administration has proceeded with the sale of the sophisticated F-35 stealth fighter aircraft to the UAE—a sale reportedly promised by the Trump Administration as an inducement for the UAE to announce normalization with Israel. The Biden administration has not reversed its predecessor’s incentive for Morocco’s participation—the recognition of Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara.

Additionally, in March 2021, the Biden administration certified to the U.S. Congress that it had restored Sudan’s sovereign immunities pursuant to the Sudan Claims Resolution Act enacted in December 2020. That legislation paved the way for Sudan to settle claims from U.S. victims of acts of terrorism that were allegedly linked, to some extent, to Sudan, including: the 1998 bombings at the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya; the 2000 attack on the USS Cole; and the murder of a USAID employee in Khartoum. The claims settlement was a condition of the Trump administration’s removal of Sudan from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, which was in turn an incentive provided to Sudan to join the Abraham Accords. Bahrain did not request or receive any specific benefits for joining the Accords, but it remains a close U.S. ally, particularly with respect to hosting U.S. naval operations in the Gulf.

The Biden administration’s acceptance, but not warm embrace, of the Abraham Accords virtually guarantees that no other Arab state will join the Accords in the foreseeable future. The Administration appears unwilling to offer any specific incentives to other states that reportedly have considered joining the pact, including the Sultanate of Oman. Qatar and Kuwait have rejected joining the Accords unless there is clear progress toward a negotiated Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. Saudi Arabia was the author of the 2002 Arab peace initiative that called on the Arab world to normalize relations with Israel only if a “just settlement” between Israel and the Palestinians is reached, a position from which they cannot they cannot easily deviate. The Saudi government faces far stronger domestic opposition than do the leaders of the smaller Gulf states, constraining the ability of Saudi leadership to act contrary to the Kingdom’s long-established policies. And, since the Accords were signed in 2020, the May 2021 conflict between Israel and Hamas returned the Palestinian issue to the forefront of Arab discussion and bolstered the popularity of Hamas in the Arab world significantly. The conflict placed the Arab parties to the Accords on the defensive and increased the risk of backlash to any Arab leader who might consider a separate peace agreement with Israel. The strategic effect and legacy of the Abraham Accords is likely to remain minimal, at least throughout the Biden administration, though its preservation is a signal of the enduring U.S.-Israel partnership.

MENA WATCH : LINKSFASCHISTEN ! Die Unschuldsvermutung? Ein Werkzeug der Klassenjustiz! – «L’affaire de Grenoble»

In einer Diskussion mit Studenten kritisiert der deutsch-französische Professor Klaus Kinzler den Begriff «Islamophobie». Kurze Zeit später benötigt er Polizeischutz

Eine Geschichte über studentischen Machtrausch, Debattenkultur in Corona-Zeiten, den Umgang mit Islamismus und das Reizwort «Cancel-Culture».Lucien Scherrer, Grenoble14.09.2021, NEUE ZÜRCHER ZEITUNG

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