i must start by declaring an interest here, not only as someone who supports a fair and equitable end to the arab-israeli conflict in which israel’s future is secured and a wider lasting peace in the middle east for all its peoples, but also as someone many of whose ancestors came from mosul and kirkuk in kurdistan. i have met many talented kurds and they have invariably been the sort of people who i could get along with and do business with; reasonable, rational and sensitive to the realities of history and politics.
for all these reasons, the issue of kurdistan has been close to my heart for a number of years; it felt very much to me as if it was a pipe-dream, given the geopolitical status quo. the basics are this:
The Palestinians nudge closer to achieving a recognised state, as their application to the UN Security Council goes to the vote later today. Obama will inevitably veto it, no surprises there. So will France. But if the Palestinians can get past the UNSC to the General Assembly they will win membership to the UN by a large majority, giving them “observer” status to the UN, similar to that of the Vatican. This could then lead to full membership if they continue to play their cards right.
UN membership for Palestine is a good thing in principal. And, if it can be achieved, it will be good in practice for both Palestinians and Israelis for two reasons:
It will strengthen the hand of the moderate Palestinian consensus and isolate the Hamas contingent. No one opposes the UN bid led by Mahmoud Abbas more than his compatriots in Hamas. The Arab Spring and the possibility of UN recognition could weaken the legitimacy of Palestinian Islamist politics.
Nadeem Paracha does satire so well, we would like to see him do more. This is a cross-post by Nadeem from the Dawn
ISLAMABAD: In a daring raid, Saudi Special Forces arrested renegade Afghan leader, Mullah Omar, from a famous five-star hotel located in one of Pakistan’s most popular vacation spots – Bhurban.
The news spread like wildfire and people were seen cursing the Pakistani government for allowing the Americans to undermine Pakistan’s sovereignty – again.
However, when it became clear that the raid was not conducted by the Americans but the Saudis, the frowns turned into smiles and many were heard saying, ‘Jazzakallah!’
Only minutes after the raid, Pakistan’s prime minister and Army Chief appeared on state-owned television and congratulated the nation and thanked the Saudi regime for helping Pakistan in its war against terror.
Jonathan Friedland on the Goldstone Report furore which ultimately is a obsession which occludes other issues which are as worthy of the world’s attention as Israel/Palestine. If this a notion that is worth repeating it is most certainly worth repeating on the Guardian.
Many respectable folks have spent decades insisting that the “core issue” in the Middle East, if not the world, is the Israel-Palestine conflict – that it is the “running sore” whose eventual healing will heal the wider region and beyond.
That was always gold-plated nonsense, but now the Arab spring has come along to prove it. Now the world can see that the peoples of Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Syria and Bahrain have troubles aplenty that have nothing to do with Israel. There could be peace between Israelis and Palestinians tomorrow, but it wouldn’t relieve those in Damascus or Manama or Sana’a from the yoke of tyranny. For them, Israel is not “the heart of the matter”, as the cliche always insisted it was. The heart of the matter are the regimes who have oppressed them day in, day out, for 40 years or more.
The 2012 London Olympics are more than a year away, but Iran already is threatening to boycott them. According to Bahram Afsharzadeh, secretary general of Iran’s National Olympic Committee, the 2012 Olympic logo secretly spells out the word “Zion”, which makes it “racist”. The Iranians also claim that use of the logo “is a disgracing action and against the Olympics’ valuable mottos”.
But Kay asks could this be part of a bigger conspiracy?
In the near-blanket media coverage of the Egyptian uprising, another compelling story of people power overcoming Islamic totalitarianism is unfolding in North Africa though it scarcely gets a mention and relatively no news coverage whatsoever. But Southern Sudan is now a new nation in its own right after it separated from the Islamist North Sudanese republic via a referendum of secession, in which nearly 99% from the south voted for independence! Here is a report from Morri Francis:
On Monday, I joined hundreds of people packed into the John Garang Memorial Centre, armed with small “South Sudan” flags. A big TV screen connected us to the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in Khartoum.
Finally – the announcement that all of southern Sudan has been waiting to hear – the results of our vote on our future, whether or not to become a separate nation.
How are the other Arab dictatorships feeling when they look to neighbouring Tunisia and see Bin Ali overthrown by a people’s revolution? For once, in living memory, they can’t take comfort in a regime change engineered by a scion of one of the ruling families or another military coup.
Gaddafi was always given to taciturn, imperial arrogance, but in the video he actually attempts to engage his audience, appealing to the Tunisian people who have lost so much to Bin Ali’s kleptocracy – to reinstate him! Coming across like a botoxed and constipated cross between Imran Khan and George Galloway’s favourite she-man, Pete Burns – it’s a tragi-comic performance. If you look really close, you can even catch the faintest glint of humanity in his dead, reptilian eyes.
Mona Eltahawy gives the world’s saddest, longest-serving dictator a slapping:
After more than 23 years in office, Tunisia’s President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, “Zinochet” as he was dubbed, was forced from power yesterday by popular protests.
These protests began after Mohamed Bou’aziz, an unemployed university graduate in the town of Sidi Bouzid, attempted to burn himself to death on December 17 when the produce he sold on the street to earn a living was confiscated. (He later died of his injuries.)
From an assortment of old news and obvious facts from the latest tranche from Wikileaks:
One of the most damaging allegations was that Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah repeatedly urged America to attack Iran. The Saudi leader was recorded as having “frequently exhorted the US to attack Iran to put an end to its nuclear weapons programme”.
The leak said he told the Americans to “cut off the head of the snake” at a meeting in 2008. The leaks also disclose how leaders in Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt referred to Iran as “evil” and a power that “is going to take us to war”.
usually, when responses to the latest act of settler militancy are announced, they tend to fall into four different categories:
1. standard “deplore and condemn” statements from the peace camp, from leftie organisations like peace now, b’tzelem, adalah, rabbis for human rights and so on.
2. standard “you see what we have to deal with, this just makes peace more difficult” statements from the palestinian authority and allied bodies
3. standard “vowing revenge on the zionists” rhetoric from the likes of hamas and its fellow travelers.
4. anodyne PR-speak from the military authorities making excuses for why they weren’t able to prevent the incident or prosecute the people involved
what is usually absent is the voice of religious traditionalism – except, unfortunately when it is supporting the obscene “price tag” policy that is bringing the settlement enterprise into further disrepute.