Tag Archives: Palestine

Kurds, Palestinians and Double Standards

Joseph Puder//The Washington Post headline on June, 2, 2015, read: “Obama Makes an Impassioned Case for a Palestinian State.” While President Obama and his administration are eager for the establishment of another unstable and likely terrorist Arab (there are 21 Arab states, and Palestine is the 22nd) state called Palestine, they have largely ignored if not betrayed the Kurds in Iraq, Syria, Iran and Turkey. The Kurds are one of the largest national groups globally without a state of their own, and they are yearning for one independent Kurdish state. Justice for the Kurds, it seems, is subjected to the whims of Shiite-Muslim Iran, Sunni-Muslim Turkey, and the Iraqi Shiite-Arab government in Baghdad. The Obama administration, it appears, will not act on its own to correct an injustice done to the Kurdish people 92 years ago at the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne. The administration has cast a blind eye on the oppression the Kurdish people have endured under the regimes in Tehran, Ankara, Baghdad, and Damascus.

U.S. policy has handed over veto power on economic and military aid for the Kurds to the Shiite prime ministers of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki and Haider al-Abadi. Baghdad appears to be the clearing house for weapons shipments to the Kurds who have gallantly stopped the Islamic State (IS) onslaught throughout northern Iraq. The Kurds, equipped with defensive arms were able to defeat IS, yet, the well-equipped, predominantly Shiite Iraqi army shamelessly retreated from the advancing IS forces that reached as far as the Baghdad suburbs. In the process, the Iraqi army abandoned its U.S. supplied arms that now make up a large part of the IS arsenal.

Considering that the Islamic Republic of Iran has the overriding influence in Baghdad, not the U.S., it begs the question as to why the U.S. won’t arm the peshmerga Kurdish forces directly with modern and offensive arms, to enable them to defeat IS. Currently, the Kurdish forces lack heavy arms such as tanks and artillery, not to mention air power. Since the Kurds have proved themselves in fighting IS, they deserve U.S. support much more than the hapless Iraqi army.

A significant political issue has loomed large in the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil. It is Article-140 of the Iraqi constitution, and it has to do with rights to Kirkuk, historically a Kurdish city. Saddam Hussein expelled more than 37,726 Kurdish families from Kirkuk and replaced them with Arabs. The Obama administration has sided with Baghdad on this issue. Article-140 lays down a clear road map to define the final boundaries of the territory to be administered by the KRG. The excessive delay in implementing this article is the primary cause of tension and administrative problems in the so-called disputed areas. These are areas that suffered severely from ethnic cleansing and community destruction under the former (Saddam Hussein) regime.

Failure to implement Article-140 is also in violation of the policy the Iraqi government announced in June, 2006. The Iraqi Prime Minister then stated that “the government will be committed to implement Article-140 of the Constitution which is based on Article-58 of the ‘Law of Administration for the State of Iraq’, also known as the Transitional Administrative Law (TAL).”

The Article specifies three phases for implementation that includes normalization, a census, and a referendum on Kirkuk and other disputed areas. “The government was to start by taking appropriate steps for the normalization phase, including rejoining detached districts and sub-districts to Kirkuk governorate, and completing this phase no later than 29 March 2007. The census phase was to be completed by 31 July 2007, and the referendum phase by 15 November 2007. The overall question is, thus, why hasn’t the Iraqi federal government met its commitments? Since 2003, successive Iraqi governments have failed to implement this constitutional article.”

The Obama administration has sent Brett McGurk, (deputy special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL) to “arbitrate” the issue of Kirkuk and the adjunct areas, but the U.S., wary of upsetting the Shiite-led Iraqi government, and more importantly, their Iranian overlords (lest they turn away from negotiations on the nuclear issue) has been decidedly pro-Baghdad. This may be one of the reasons why the Administration has failed to provide arms to the pro-American Kurds.

Last August, IS shifted the brunt of its firepower against Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The reluctant President Obama inexplicably wavered a while before approving airstrikes against IS. Still it was the heroic stand of the Kurdish peshmerga forces that halted the IS advance with the help of U.S. air power.

Ankara, much like Baghdad and Tehran is concerned with Kurdish self-determination. Turkey is worried about the rise of a strong Kurdish entity in Syria under the leadership of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which seeks to do in Syria what the KRG has done in northern Iraq, namely becoming an internationally recognized autonomous region. Ankara fears that its own discriminated and abused Kurdish minority might seek detachment from Turkey and join southeastern Turkey with the other autonomous Kurdish regions. It is for this reason that Turkey’s President Erdogan allowed the Kurds in Kobani to bleed while Turkish tanks stood by. The Kurds of Kobani, helped by U.S. airpower, ultimately triumphed over the IS barbarians.

Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA-S), in a conversation with this reporter, addressed the following message to Washington. “The Kurds are the natural allies of the U.S. and western democracies.  Moreover, they are the boots on the ground. We are fighting in Syria and Iraq on behalf of humanity against the evil force known as IS (or ISIL). The U.S. administration needs to support us by providing the Kurds political recognition and military aid.  U.S. aid, however, should be direct, and not via hostile entities such as Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.  The U.S. should extend the No-Fly Zone to the Kurdish regions of Syria and Iraq; this would allow the Kurds to protect all the minorities and refugees from throughout war-torn Syria. It would also deny ISIL re-supply lines from Turkey.”

Abbas added, “The P5+1, providing Iran with sanctions relief, would enable the Ayatollahs to increase their support for the Assad regime and Hezbollah in Syria.  By supporting the Kurds the U.S. will thus reduce the influence of Iran in Iraq and Syria.  In fact, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp (IRGC) has taken over the Kamishly International airport in northeastern Syria to be used as a base for the Iranian al-Quds forces, and for Hezbollah’s direct flights from Lebanon. At the same time, chemical weapons have been deployed by ISIL against Syrian Kurds. The growing influence of Iran in Syria, and the spread of ISIL terror and brutality run counter to the interests of the Kurds, the U.S. and the west, as well as Israel.”

It has become an Obama administration’s imperative to keep Iraq and Syria as undivided unitary states, despite the fact that these states are artificial creations of the colonial powers. Yet, this policy is inconsistent with its efforts to force Israel to vacate the strategic defenses of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) to create a Palestinian State. If indeed the privileged (the Palestinians have had multiple opportunities to create a state but chose war and terror against Israel) Palestinians should have a state, the Kurds certainly deserve statehood much more.

Islamic State, Palestine, Double Standards

ISIS 2

David Singer// UNESCO, the United Nations and just this week – the Vatican – have recognised that the “State of Palestine” exists – despite the fact that it lacks all four basic requirements laid down in Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention 1933:

“The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:

a ) a permanent population; b ) a defined territory; c ) government; and d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

Reverend Federico Lombardi – the Vatican spokesman – confirmed the Holy See’s stance:

“Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists”

The Vatican is justifiably concerned with protecting Christian communities in the Middle East against further ongoing death, dispersion and destruction of their churches as has been happening to Christian communities in Syria and Iraq during the last twelve months.

Easing the concerns of Christians in areas B and C, the “West Bank” areas under Palestinian Authority control, would have certainly played a part in the Vatican’s decision.

Bethlehem’s Christian population has been reduced from 60% in the 1990’s – prior to coming under Palestinian Authority control in 1995 – to barely 15% Christian by 2013 – whilst 1,000 Christians are reported to be leaving every year.

In contrast, Christian population growth in Israel last year stood at 1.3% and risking a rift in its relations with Israel displays poor judgement by the Vatican, given these realities.

Those 107 member States voting for Palestine’s admission to UNESCO on 31 October 2011 did so in direct contravention of Article II (2) of the UNESCO Constitution which provides:

“… states not members of the United Nations Organization may be admitted to membership of the Organization ….”

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Voting to admit into UNESCO an entity that is not a lawful state is beyond understanding.

The UN General Assembly compounded UNESCO’s amazing decision when 138 UN member States voted to recognize “Palestine” as a “non-member observer state” on 29 November 2012. The rule of law was thrown out the window with these UNESCO and UN decisions.

The international response to Islamic State has been markedly different since its declaration on 29 June 2014.

In just one year Islamic State has pillaged, plundered, beheaded and murdered its way through Syria and Iraq – now governing the population and controlling state assets in an area larger than Great Britain.  Pledges of allegiance have come from many terrorist groups including Boko Haram and Sinai Province.

However, Islamic State meets all four Montevideo Convention criteria.

Yet British Prime Minister David Cameron urges Islamic State’s existence not be recognised by simply not using its self-declared name – reportedly telling BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:

“I wish the BBC would stop calling it ‘Islamic State’ because it is not an Islamic State. What it is, is an appalling barbarous regime … it is a perversion of the religion of Islam and many Muslims listening to this programme will recoil every time they hear the words.”

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has an even stranger view:

“This is a terrorist group and not a state. I do not recommend using the term Islamic State because it blurs the lines between Islam, Muslims and Islamists. The Arabs call it ‘Daesh’ and I will be calling them the ‘Daesh cutthroats’.”

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has reportedly used the term “death cult” 346 times since last September.

The Pope, too, seems reluctant to use the term “Islamic State”.

President Obama uses the acronym “ISIL” to deny it is Islamic or a State.

“Palestine” – not a State – is recognised as a State.

“Islamic State” – a State – is not recognised as a State.

No wonder the world is in such a state of turmoil and confusion.

Palestinian Statehood – Separating Fact from Fantasy

 

The NY Times recently reported that the Vatican has concluded a treaty recognizing Palestinian statehood. During Israel’s recent election, however, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented that if re-elected, he would oppose the creation of a Palestinian state. He has good reason to oppose it.

Security Council Resolution 242 (November 22, 1967) speaks of withdrawal by Israel from lands occupied in the Six-Day War provided that Israel’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, political independence and right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force are recognized.

The response of the Palestinians and the Arab world was simple and unequivocal – The Khartoum Declaration – “No recognition, no negotiation, no peace” – and despite generous offers by Israeli Prime Ministers Barak and Olmert, it is clear that no Palestinian leader then or now is prepared to accept Israel’s right to exist in any borders whatsoever despite all the rhetoric to the contrary.

This became clear on May 10th, 1994, in the wake of Arafat’s signing the Oslo Accords, when he travelled to Johannesburg, South Africa and compared his signing of the Accords with Mohammed’s deceptive signing of a 10-year peace treaty at Hudaybiyyah with the Quraish tribe of Mecca. Two years later, Mohammed broke the Treaty, attacked the Quraish, slaughtered them and conquered Mecca. In other words, the 10-year Treaty was a deception designed to allow Mohammed time to build his forces until they were powerful enough to conquer the Quraish. Arafat stated unequivocally that he viewed the Oslo Accords in the same light as Hudaybiyyah.


In the same month, Israel and the PLO signed the Cairo Agreement under which Israel withdrew from Jericho and more than half of Gaza , all of which was turned over to Palestinian control. The Agreement was based on the formula of “land for peace” whereby Israel relinquished strategic territory and the Palestinians promised to prevent violence and combat terrorist attacks against Israel.

The Cairo Agreement had the exact reverse effect. It unleashed a wave of unprecedented Palestinian terrorism, which included suicide bombings that shook Israel to its core. “Land for peace” quickly devolved into “land for terrorism.” Subsequent deals, such as the Oslo II Accord of September 1995, the January 1997 Hevron protocol, and the October 1998 Wye River Agreement were all based upon the same principle. In each case, Israel handed territory over to the Palestinians in exchange for promises of peace, and, in each instance, without fail, Israel’s gestures were reciprocated with terrorist attacks against its citizens and its country.

And for those who maintain that a more “moderate” Palestinian leadership is now in power, perhaps they should consider the comments of Ahmed Bahar, deputy speaker of the PA parliament, who, on May 14th, confirmed that the Palestinian parliament continues to reject any Jewish right to the land of “Palestine” (meaning the State of Israel) which it defined as “an Islamic endowment to which Jews have no right to even a single inch.” It also confirmed that the Palestinians will never agree to the settlement of the so-called “Palestinian refugees” outside the territory of “Palestine” (meaning the State of Israel), nor will they ever agree to recognize Israel.

The Palestinians have broken every promise they made in the Oslo Accords and continue to seek recognition from world bodies such as the UN and the ICC so as to avoid any negotiations (as required by the Accords) or compromise that would require their recognition of the State of Israel.

Critics of Netanyahu’s position fail to note that, in furtherance of this goal, Palestinian suicide bombers were sent into Israel during the Second Intifada solely for the purpose of killing Jews in marketplaces, restaurants and discoteques because they believed that by doing so, they would secure their “martyrdom”.

The irony is that there never was a “peace process” except in the minds of the Western media and most Western leaders who have bought into all these lies and deceptions. The intention, rather, was to use international diplomatic pressure to force Israel into making strategic concessions that would ultimately lead to its destruction ….. as Arafat openly admitted in Johannesburg over twenty years ago.

Critics should note as well that the Palestinian educational system includes Palestinian poetry, schoolbooks, crossword puzzles and children’s music videos that teach Palestinian children that “Jews are the descendants of pigs and monkeys” and must be killed, and Palestinian leaders have openly declared that any future Palestinian state would be “Jew-free”. They are also using US and European foreign aid dollars to pay Palestinian terrorists in Israeli prisons as well as the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and they continue to name marketplaces, town squares, tournaments, and cinemas after these suicide bombers whom they hail as “heroes” and “martyrs”. Nor is mention ever made of Hamas’s founding Charter that openly calls for the murder of Jews wherever they are, and for the destruction of their State.

The sad truth is that the Palestinians want a state not beside Israel, but in place of it. If critics would take the time to read what the Palestinians are saying to each other in Arabic (as translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute and Palestine Media Watch) as opposed to what they are saying to Western leaders and the Western media in English, they would understand the Islamic concept of taqqiyah (deception) and discover the real truth behind the Arab-Israeli conflict – not Israel’s refusal to accept a State of Palestine, but the Arab refusal to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state on what they consider to be Islamic lands.

Netanyahu’s new government needs to reject any such pressure to recognize a Palestinian state under current circumstances as should all Western leaders. To give up further lands in exchange for a deceitful peace is something that Israel tried in the 1990s with tragic results. It should not be repeated again.

 

Mark Silverberg

The writer is a foreign policy analyst for the Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel). He is a former member of the Canadian Justice Department, a past Director of the Canadian Jewish Congress (Western Office), a member of Hadassah’s National Academic Advisory Board and a Contributing Editor for Family Security Matters and Intellectual Conservative. He served as a Consultant to the Secretary General of the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem during the first Palestinian intifada. His book “The Quartermasters of Terror: Saudi Arabia and the Global Islamic Jihad” and articles are archived at http://www.acpr.org.il andwww.marksilverbeg.com.