The UN backed six-point ‘Annan Plan’ for Syria is ‘on track’, according to Ahmed Fawzi, a spokesman for Kofi Annan, despite the continuation of violence throughout a number of cities in Syria. Whilst it has been acknowledged that the signs of progress, and indeed cooperation from the Assad regime, have been rather small, there still seems to be an expectation that the Annan plan is the best possible option with which to go forward. At least for the time being.
Category Archives: Comment
The ‘Friends of Syria’ Conference, based in Istanbul last week, finally yielded some movements towards a unified opposition to the Assad regime in nominally forming the Syrian National Council (SNC) – similar to that formed in Libya at the beginning of the Benghazi uprising last year. The move is a late one – in a conflict that has lasted over twelve months already there has been little success in providing a unified front in the conflict, and sectarian fissures have been prolific in creating a confused and haphazard attempt to overthrow the regime.
In 64CE it is said that the Roman Emperor Nero played the fiddle whilst his capital, Rome, was burning to the ground in what would later be known as the Great fire of Rome. Whilst this legend is now regarded by most historians as false, it is telling of the nature of Nero – his brutality and sense of extravagance – that this rumour came into being in the first place. It is also telling that many believe that he started the fire himself to clear space to build his vast palatial complex. The result being, two millennia after his time as Emperor he is remembered with disdain and ridicule as the man who put his own whims, his own extravagant ventures, and his own desires before his Empire, before the people of his Empire.
The proposals that emerged today for a semi-autonomous Eastern Libya, based on an historical region known as Cyrenaica, have been greeted with more concern than shock. Cyrenaica, based around the Eastern city of Benghazi and the original stronghold of the National Transitional Council of Libya, has always been distinct from the Western, Tripoli-centred, region of North Libya; one that had become increasingly disadvantaged – socially, politically and economically – during the Gaddafi era, as he favoured the region around Tripoli, which were closer to him in both geographical and geopolitical terms (his power base was derived from the North-Western corner of Libya, surrounding Tripoli and Sirte). And whilst over the past four decades money has been increasingly spent in the areas surrounding Tripoli and Sirte, a large amount of this money has been derived from the sale of oil from fields in the Cyrenaica region.
Gilad Shalit, the most high profile prisoner in the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, will be released at some point over the next week. In exchange, 1,027 Palestinian prisoners, currently residing in Israeli prison cells, are to be released in stages with female prisoners – all 450 in Israeli custody – being given priority on the time scale. The huge number of prisoners given to the Palestinians, not all of which will be given leave to remain in Israel of the Palestinian Occupied Territories, signifies the growing importance to the Israeli government, and more particularly to Netanyahu, that the hostage situation involving Shalit should be resolved. Whilst it may seem absurd to some that so much is being put at stake to secure the life of one Israeli Soldier, the implications of his release, and the manner in which both sides conduct themselves through the remainder of the deal’s delivery, have hugely wide-scale implications.
Legislation passed by the Israeli Knesset last week made it illegal for anyone living in the Israeli territories to actively boycott goods made in the settlements. As part of the law, settlement-based producers are able to sue those who are, or have, boycotted their products without having to actually provide tangible evidence of damages to their business which, given the complexities of domestic trade within Israel, would be almost impossible t0 prove or at least allocate blame to a specific quadrant of society. All that has to be proved, in any cases brought forward, is that there was an intent to do economic damage by organised boycott. This begs the question then, how effective are boycotts in establishing political change?
The position of Israel has gained in strength immensely since its formation in 1948. It has increased its Jewish population with ethnically slanted immigration policies, consolidated its borders through regional wars waged disastrously by various Arab leaders, and it has gained the absolute backing of Western allies, despite its continued actions against the Palestinians. Slowly, but surely, it has also eroded opposition from within the region through the promulgation of international treaties, agreements, and trade pacts with the very dictators which had previously been sat at the other end of the battlefield.With these Arab leaders of old falling like dominoes, though, where does this leave the multitude of agreements between the Israeli government and their neighbouring counterparts? Continue reading