’Cyprus is saturated’ - burgeoning migrant crisis grips island
Smugglers increasingly take advantage of island’s partition and proximity to Middle East.
When Rubar and Bestoon Abass embarked on their journey to Europe they had no idea that Cyprus was the continent’s easternmost state. Like most Iraqi Kurds heading west, their destination was Germany, not an EU nation barely 100 miles from war-torn Syria.
“I had never heard of Cyprus,” said Rubar, reaching for his pregnant wife’s hand as they sat gloomily in a migrant centre run by the Catholic charity Caritas in the heart of Nicosia. “The smugglers told us it was much cheaper to get to and was still in Europe. We paid $2,000 [£1,590] for the four of us to come.”
Cyprus is in the midst of a burgeoning migrant crisis as smuggler networks take advantage of the Mediterranean island’s partition and proximity to the Middle East. As in Greece, when Europe’s refugee crisis erupted with Syria’s descent into civil war, support groups have rushed to deal with the social ailments that have arisen with the influx.
“Cyprus is saturated,” its interior minister, Constantinos Petrides, said in an interview with the Guardian. “It’s no longer easy to absorb such flows, or handle the situation, no matter how much money we get.”
The island has exceeded every other EU member state in asylum claims in 2018, recording the highest number per capita with almost 6,000 applications for a population of about 1 million.
By August requests were 55% higher than for the same eight-month period in 2017, a figure itself 56% higher than that for 2016, according to the interior ministry. With the country’s asylum and reception systems vastly overstretched, alarmed officials have appealed to Brussels for help.
“This is a European problem,” said Petrides, adding that closed borders elsewhere in the bloc were placing a disproportionate burden on small frontline states such as Cyprus. “It’s absolutely necessary to find a holistic solution … which means distributing asylum seekers through an automatic relocation mechanism to countries throughout the EU.”
Rubar and Bestoon arrived with their two children in August. Like the ever-growing number of Syrians also heading here from overcrowded camps in Turkey and Lebanon, the couple landed in Northern Cyprus, the self-styled state acknowledged only by Ankara in the 44 years since Turkish troops invaded and seized over a third of the island’s territory.
They then took the increasingly well-trodden route of sneaking across the dividing buffer zone into the internationally recognised Greek-controlled south. Stretching 112 miles across Cyprus, the UN-patrolled ceasefire line offers innumerable blind spots for those determined to evade detection.
Geography’s stark reality hit, Rubar admits, when he was shown Cyprus on the world map adorning the migrant centre’s airy reception room. “If I had known I’d never have come,” said the farmer. “After all, being here we’re much nearer Baghdad than we are Berlin.”
Elizabeth Kassinis, Caritas’ executive manager, said the Abbasses’ experience is not uncommon. “Many are surprised to find out where they actually are. When we tell them, they are shocked, stunned, completely speechless. Nearly all arrive expecting they’ll be within walking distance of a job in Germany.”
Illicit crossings from the north have made Cyprus’ woes much worse. Reports have increased in recent months of irregular migrants flying into Ercan airport in the Turkish-controlled breakaway state.
Hamstrung by politics, not least Turkey’s refusal to recognise the government in the southern part of Cyprus since its 1974 invasion of the island, authorities are unable to send them back.
“Because of the illegal occupation in the north we’ve seen phenomena that wouldn’t happen in conditions of legality,” said Petrides. “It’s an open wound, not just for Cyprus but the entire EU.”
With international agencies focusing almost entirely on sea arrivals, the real number of migrants on the island has been hugely underestimated, charities say. “We are a humanitarian organisation that addresses poverty, hunger and homelessness and we are seeing across-the-board increases in them all,” Kassinis said.
A backlog of 8,000 asylum claims has amassed as authorities struggle to cope with the flows, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. “We’re talking about a process that can take up to five years and an extremely high number of people waiting for final decisions to their claims,” said Katja Saha, the agency’s representative in Nicosia.
“It’s highly likely that the vast majority are not refugees and should not be in the asylum processing system but, that said, the lack of infrastructure and social services makes it very difficult to identify those who are vulnerable, particularly victims of trafficking and torture.”
As numbers grow, pressure on the island’s two state-run camps has become immense and asylum seekers are expected to find private accommodation after 72 hours. For most that is nearly impossible when rent allowances are little more than €100 (£90) per person a month and employment is limited to manual work such as car washing and farm labour, Saha said.
In Nicosia, which houses one of the camps, asylum seekers have resorted to sleeping in parks and buses and the vestibules of buildings. “For the last month I’ve been in a tent in the park with my wife and four children,” said Basin Hussain, who also fled Iraq. “The first three days were spent in the reception centre but then we were told to leave.”
There are fears the drama being played out in the eastern Mediterranean will get a lot worse if the situation in Syria deteriorates further and war extends to Idlib, the country’s last rebel stronghold. A Turkish-Russian ceasefire deal is currently sustaining a fragile peace in the province.
Cyprus had been spared the refugee crisis until this year as most Europe-bound asylum seekers headed for Greece and Italy instead.
“It’s surprising, given its geographic location, that Cyprus has not been more impacted by the seven-year conflict,” said Saha. “Since the spring we’ve seen this increase in Syrians because word has spread that Lebanon and Turkey, as first asylum countries, are saturated.”
As elsewhere in Europe the island is not immune to hostility toward the new arrivals. Far-right groups coalescing around the ultranationalist ELAM party have gained increasing popularity as the issue provides fodder for their approval ratings ahead of European parliamentary elections next year.
“What we don’t want to do is open more and more reception centres,” said Petrides, emphasising that solidarity was now needed on Europe’s eastern edge. “It’s not the solution, either for the country or asylum seekers.”
Tale of Swiss-based Syrian torture survivor highlights Dublin flaws
Jalal last saw his youngest son was when the boy was a baby. Now Hamude is almost five. The asylum seeker from Syria is caught up in a complicated international case based on the Dublin accord, a regulation that Switzerland applies more strictly than any other country in Europe, according to critics.
Jalal has been living in limbo, unable to plan more than a few months in advance, since 2014.
“I spent five years in a Syrian prison and now I have spent [almost] another five years in an open prison,” Jalal told swissinfo.ch in November.
The father leads an isolated life in a tiny studio on the outskirts of Lucerne in central Switzerland.
Hamude, along with his mother and two siblings, live equally isolated in a rundown caravan camp a couple thousand kilometres away in Greece. Their relationship unfolds largely over Whatsapp. Living with no sense of when or where they will all see each other again has both parents on the edge of a nervous breakdown.https://www.swissinfo.ch/image/44615876/3x2/640/426/95cf866e9b08b2dffc1de952e8b49340/lm/j-7i5a6516.jpg
Despite the efforts of lawyers in both countries, the family has been unable to reunite, victims of a Dublin accord that member states including Switzerland prefer to invoke to expel people rather than evaluate their cases. Under the regulation, Switzerland can automatically deport individuals to the first country of arrival in the Schengen area. As a Kurd, who says he suffered torture and prolonged detention in Syria as well as a dangerous war wound, Jalal’s asylum claim warrants evaluation.
But Jalal faced a classic problem — one confronting asylum-seekers in Switzerland and across Europe. The only aspect of his journey the Swiss authorities cared about at the time of his arrival was through which country he entered Europe’s open borders Schengen area, not why he was seeking asylum. On that basis, the decision to expel him to Italy was made in early 2015.
“Switzerland has never lived through a war, so the Swiss are not able to empathize with people who are fleeing a war,” concluded Jalal in a moment of deep uncertainty about his future. “If they had any sense of what we have been through they would not deal with us like this.”
Switzerland prides itself on its strong humanitarian tradition but policies relating to asylum and migration have hardened in recent years as elsewhere in Europe. The Swiss Secretariat for Migration (SEM) declined to comment, saying it does not provide details on individual cases for “data protection” reasons.
A Syrian nightmare
Back in Syria, in 2004, Jalal says he found himself on the wanted list of the Syrian regime for participating in a protest demanding greater rights for the Kurdish minority population. He and his father were targeted in a knife attack by pro-regime thugs three years later, in 2007. Jalal incurred 12 cuts while his father was killed on the spot.
According to his story, Kurdish rights activism landed him behind bars. He was held in a prison in the northern city of Aleppo where one of the many grisly tasks assigned to him was cleaning the basement room used for executions — punishment for dodging military service. He was still behind bars as a popular revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave way to large scale massacres and war.
He says he eventually managed to escape during a rebel attack on the prison, seized the opportunity to flee to Turkey and had to return to Syria to borrow money to pay smugglers to get his family to Europe. On that journey, he sustained a grenade injury. Neither surgeons at the field clinic that treated him that day nor those later in Switzerland were able to extract all of the fragments.
Getting to Europe
Badly wounded, he boarded a naval ship from the Turkish coastal town of Mersin and travelled with hundreds of others to Italy. Time in Italy was brief but long enough for the authorities to take his fingerprints — an act that would underpin the Swiss decision to send him back.
“The Italian authorities put us on buses and took us straight to the train station in Milan, so we could continue to Europe,” says Jalal, who picked Switzerland over Germany because his two brothers were already living in the Alpine nation. “A return to Italy would mean starting from scratch and god knows how many years until I see my wife and children.”
In Switzerland, he now gets by on emergency aid and found accommodation — a spartan but clean studio — through the Caritas charity. Every two weeks he must report to the local migration authorities. The one thing he is deeply grateful for is the medical and psychological treatment he has received here.
Navigating Swiss and international laws
Gabriella Tau and Boris Wijkström are his lawyers at the Centre suisse pour la défense des droits de migrants (CSDM), an organisation focused on defending the rights of migrants. CSDM took up his case and brought it to the attention the Committee Against Torture (CAT) at the United Nations, which suspended his expulsion pending a ruling on the merits of the case.
During an October interview in his small office in Geneva, where dozens wait in the stairway in the hope of getting legal assistance, Wijkström said they are “very careful” of which cases they defend. The lawyers only take up a few per year, selecting the ones where they feel there has been a real miscarriage of justice.
“They are very sensitive to any possible limitations imposed on Dublin expulsions to Italy,” he said about the Swiss position on asylum cases that have reached CAT.
Switzerland has a reputation for being a highly efficient user of the Dublin system, a “blindly” mechanical efficiency that human rights groups including Amnesty Internationalexternal link say ride roughshod over the most vulnerable of individuals. The Swiss Refugee Councilexternal link wants Switzerland to stop sending vulnerable asylum seekers back to Italy because “adequate reception is not guaranteed there”.
In 2017, Switzerland made 2,297 transfers invoking The Dublin III Regulation to neighbouring Italy, Germany and France and received 885 transfers from those countries, accordingexternal link to the Council.
“Switzerland stands out as one of the biggest users of the Dublin system, even though volumes are, for instance, much smaller than those of Germany,” notes Francesco Maiani, an expert on European asylum policy and law. “Switzerland is one of the countries that consistently had more transfers to other countries than transfers from other countries.”
However, two clauses with the Dublin Regulation III actively encourage a softer approach. One is the sovereignty clause. The other is the humanitarian clause.
The SEM told swissinfo.ch it applies the “sovereignty clause” when a transfer “would contravene mandatory provisions of international law or in the presence of humanitarian grounds indicating that a transfer is a particularly rigorous measure.”
It also rejected the notion that it applies the Dublin Regulation “blindly.”
“The whole ethos of the Dublin system is quite problematic,” said Maiani, a member of the faculty of law at Lausanne University in a phone interview. “It tends to underscore that if you send asylum applicants away you win the game. If you admit them, you lose the game. And this of course introduces a lot of distortions in the process.”
In an October letter to UN special rapporteur on torture Nils Melzer, CSDM outlined its concerns over “the systematic expulsion of torture victims and other vulnerable asylum seekers under the Dublin Regulation from Switzerland to European Union countries where dysfunctional asylum systems that expose them to a real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment”.
A SEM spokesperson explained that Switzerland wants to see the Dublin III regulation reformed so that procedures are “faster and more efficient”, secondary migration prevented and responsibility between countries distributed more fairly. “Switzerland regularly takes this position at the European level and in bilateral talks with government representatives of EU member states and EU institutions,” the spokesperson said.
Not one, but two Dublin proceedings
For now, Jalal’s best shot at family reunification would be a Swiss decision to grant him asylum. But that risks being a lengthy process. The family got tangled in two Dublin proceedings — one to expel Jalal from Switzerland to Italy, the other a bid by Greece to see the family reunited in Switzerland.
“Sometimes a Dublin reunification can take up to two or three years although on paper things should move more quickly,” notes Michael Kientzle, who works with the refugee aid group in Greeceexternal link that filed a request for Switzerland to take charge of Jalal’s family. The request was rejected and is now being appealed.
The rest in limbo just like Jalal.
When asked about the case, SEM said it takes into account the arguments put forward in decisions made by CAT [which recently ruled in favour of an Eritrean asylum-seeker and torture survivor presenting similar circumstances.] “[If SEM] concludes that a transfer to a Dublin state would endanger a person, it will conduct the asylum procedure in Switzerland,” it said.
Shortly after being contacted by swissinfo.ch, SEM finally decided to examine his asylum claim. “The facts of his case have not changed,” noted Wijkström. “It’s great news for him but it underscores the arbitrariness of the whole system.”
Adding to the absurdity of it all, he added, the Lucerne prosecutor has kept open a case against Jalal over illegal entry and illegal stay.
Arbitrary or not — the decision by authorities to hear him out has filled Jalal with a new sense of purpose and hope for a fresh start in Switzerland.
On the chilly morning of December 12, he met with a Caritas lawyer who will join him during his asylum hearing. He came prepared with all his documents, including X-rays and family identification booklet.
“Maybe things finally work out and I get to see my family,” he tells swissinfo.chexternal link, consumed by nerves both about the outcome of his interview and the conditions of his mother and brother struggling to get on in a war-torn pocket of Syria.” All I can do is retell my story. They already have all the evidence.”
#torture #Suisse #Dublin #renvois_Dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_syriens #Italie #expulsions #renvois
Widespread Blurring of Satellite Images Reveals Secret Facilities – Federation Of American Scientists
Yandex Maps—Russia’s foremost mapping service—has also agreed to selectively blur out specific sites beyond recognition; however, it has done so for just two countries: Israel and Turkey. The areas of these blurred sites range from large complexes—such as airfields or munitions storage bunkers—to small, nondescript buildings within city blocks.
(...) By complying with requests to selectively obscure military facilities, the mapping service has actually revealed their precise locations, perimeters, and potential function to anyone curious enough to find them all.
Le billet de Matt Korda est fort intéressant.
Although blurring out specific sites is certainly unusual, it is not uncommon for satellite imagery companies to downgrade the resolution of certain sets of imagery before releasing them to viewing platforms like Yandex or Google Earth; in fact, if you trawl around the globe using these platforms, you’ll notice that different locations will be rendered in a variety of resolutions. Downtown Toronto, for example, is always visible at an extremely high resolution; looking closely, you can spot my bike parked outside my old apartment. By contrast, imagery of downtown Jerusalem is always significantly blurrier; you can just barely make out cars parked on the side of the road.
As I explained in my previous piece about geolocating Israeli Patriot batteries, a 1997 US law known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment (KBA) prohibits US companies from publishing satellite imagery of Israel at a Ground Sampling Distance lower than what is commercially available. This generally means that US-based satellite companies like DigitalGlobe and viewing platforms like Google Earth won’t publish any images of Israel that are better than 2m resolution.
Foreign mapping services like Russia’s Yandex are legally not subject to the KBA, but they tend to stick to the 2m resolution rule regardless, likely for two reasons. Firstly, after 20 years the KBA standard has become somewhat institutionalized within the satellite imagery industry. And secondly, Russian companies (and the Russian state) are surely wary of doing anything to sour Russia’s critical relationship with Israel.
My complete list of blurred sites in both Israel and Turkey totals over 300 distinct buildings, airfields, ports, bunkers, storage sites, bases, barracks, nuclear facilities, and random buildings—prompting several intriguing points of consideration:
• Included in the list of Yandex’s blurred sites are at least two NATO facilities: Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) in Izmir, and Incirlik Air Base, which hosts the largest contingent of US B61 nuclear gravity bombs at any single NATO base.
• Strangely, no Russian facilities have been blurred—including its nuclear facilities, submarine bases, air bases, launch sites, or numerous foreign military bases in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, or the Middle East.
• Although none of Russia’s permanent military installations in Syria have been blurred, almost the entirety of Syria is depicted in extremely low resolution, making it nearly impossible to utilize Yandex for analyses of Syrian imagery. By contrast, both Crimea and the entire Donbass region are visible at very high resolutions, so this blurring standard applies only selectively to Russia’s foreign adventures.
• All four Israeli Patriot batteries that I identified using radar interference in my previous post have been blurred out, confirming that these sites do indeed have a military function.
Israel’s Supreme Court, a place of deceit
Court, a Place of Deceit
East Jerusalem residents have learned that while justice may be meant to be seen, it’s not necessarily meant to be heard
Dec 05, 2018 2:39 AM
“Go, and try to understand every word spoken in this chamber, which hover for a moment in its enormous space, before escaping to the sides and above through the many cracks in its walls,” I muttered to myself several weeks ago in Chamber C of Jerusalem’s Supreme Court.
From those words I could decipher, I learned that in the case being heard there are people seeking to remain living in their homes and there are others who claim that the land under these homes belongs to them, and thus the homes as well. And some claim the destiny of the land is not the destiny of the homes. One belongs to so-and-so and his descendants, while the other belongs to another person and his issue. Plus, there are documents attesting one thing and others attesting to another. And there are documents related to this parcel of land but not to its neighbor.
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I also understood that the petitioners representing the people seeking to stay in their homes – who are making legal arguments on their behalf, pleading persistently, shouting beneath the enormous domes – are wasting their time. For the destiny of the people who have sent them here has already been determined, and the Supreme Court, sitting on high, believes that it does not have the authority to discuss the evidence they bother to formulate in the Hebrew language that is not their own.
It turns out that all the evidence was already discussed exhaustively in a lower court, which already ruled that the residents are themselves the trespassers. And because they delayed – the proceedings intended to get rid of them were unfortunately for them done without their knowledge – the statute of limitations applies to some of their lawsuits.
This is not the first time that I have wondered whether the acoustic conditions in this chamber do not bear witness that while justice may be meant to be seen, it is not necessarily meant to be heard. Nor is it the first time that I have thought while sitting in it that perhaps it is better that way. For more than one of the details debated here lack content that should really interest human beings who have the brains to understand and the tools to take interest and learn the facts. And indeed, I know the facts well, and so this list will end with a decisive decision.
On that fall day, November13, the Supreme Court discussed the fate of dozens of people who have lived for 64 years in Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. Israeli law had made it possible for three Israeli associations – the Council of the Sephardi Community in Jerusalem, the Committee of Knesset Israel and Nahalat Shimon – to evict them from their homes and to replace them with other people.
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The judges, after masquerading briefly while as people sincerely and innocently seeking to decide without bias between the attorneys wrangling at their feet, then began to play their true role. They obeyed the law, and with it the policy determining what the law is, and ruled against the petitioners, and in favor of the three associations; the appeal was denied.
And what does Israeli law state, and in particular, what are its practical implications, what is the personal tragedy to which it condemns its victims? Because the law here serves to cover for usurpation and ideology, things are best explained simply without leaving this issue to legalists.
A woman my age, sitting with me in her house, from which she is to be evicted, explained the story in simple terms, albeit it with agitation. Here is a summary: Her parents were born in Jaffa and raised there. She was born in the Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria, to which her family was expelled/fled in 1948. As part of a family reunification program, she went from there to Sheikh Jarrah to live with her husband, who also comes from a family of refugees from Jaffa. That family had been lucky enough to find temporary shelter with relatives in Jerusalem, and the Jordanian regime, the sovereign at the time, allocated her and other refugee families land in Sheikh Jarrah in 1954, and the UNRWA funded the construction of their homes.
Some 40 members of her family, including her, her children and her grandchildren, live there. Meanwhile, they became subjects of Israel, which tripled the size of Jerusalem in 1967 and extended civilian law over all of it. According to that system of laws and to the decisions of the courts of the new sovereign, the entire compound in Sheikh Jarrah, where hundreds of families live, now belongs to those who made themselves the inheritors of the small Jewish community that had bought it during the Ottoman period.
Therefore, this family, like its partners in misery who were already evicted and the dozens of others destined to be condemned in future cases – can expect soon to receive notice of an eviction date from the bailiff’s office. If they don’t leave of their own free will, they will be evicted by force in the dead of night. The woman who told me the story kept looking in my eyes, asking: “Perhaps you will tell me where we should go to now? Where to?”
A week later, on November 21, the Supreme Court rejected the appeal of hundreds of other Jerusalem Palestinians – residents of Batan al-Hawa in the Silwan neighborhood. These residents are being harassed by other Israeli groups: Ateret Cohanim and Elad. Regarding this appeal as well, exacting hearings had already been held in Chamber C, and then too I really tried to grasp the legal thinness in their tale before they drift off through the traditional openings in the lofty dome. And this story also deserves being told in the language of man.
It goes like this: At the end of the 19th century, merciful Jews bought a modest site in the village of Silwan, which then was outside Jerusalem, to build under cover of Ottoman law, a poorhouse for Yemenite Jews who couldn’t find a roof to live under in the holy city. Not many years later, the land was full of violent altercations and the poorhouse residents were forced to evacuate their homes. Years passed. They and their successors spread across the country.
The country’s rulers changed three times, and self-proclaimed heir also arose: Atret Cohanim. It was clever in various ways – the time was the beginning of this century and Silwan had become a Jerusalem neighborhood crowded with tens of thousands of Palestinians, and the ruler was now the State of Israel – and demanded and received the inheritance from the Administrator General, who had received it from the state, which authorized him to determine what would be done with properties in Jerusalem that had once belonged to Jews. Based on this procedure, the courts in Israel awarded Ateret Cohanim rights to the compound in the heart of Silwan. And now justice will be done without pity.
You can read in full how everything unfolded, if you want, in the 2015 investigative report published by Nir Hasson in this paper . It’s a tale spiced with bribes paid behind closed doors, people who were tempted to condemn their souls in order to attain a more comfortable life and, above all, the story of M, the resident of a West Bank settlement, whose hand is in everything but whose name it is forbidden to publish, lest it be to his detriment. The story does not end well or fairly, or even with finality, as the rejection of the petition makes clear – it just gets worse.
Thus, you may want to go the trouble of visiting the neighborhood for yourself, in order to see the explosive and forlorn reality that the splendor of Chamber C in the Supreme Court swallowed in its entirety, like it swallowed the more modest site in Sheikh Jarrah. The law that rules here is the law of naked power. The military regime that embitters the lives of thousands to protect a few dozen Jews, who settled among the thousands in homes whose residents were already evicted, and to protect the stylized national park established next to them for the thousands of visitors streaming here. The sovereign here is the Elad organization. Thanks to its iniquities, you can see how the lives of thousands of Palestinians here are imprisoned and destroyed, and feel the cracks that are gaping in their residences because of the tunnel dug under them for the greater glory of Israel’s ideological archaeology.
And if you don’t want to venture into areas unfamiliar to you and to your worldview, remain at home, but turn on your honest brain and the integrity of your heart. It will not take much to persuade you that all the legal hairsplitting that has for decades filled the courts of the Jewish-democratic state with hearings on the fate of the homes and lands of people in the territories conquered in 1967 collapses and is crushed like so much straw, in spite of the opposition by lawyers who continue to insist on defending human rights and serving as extras in an absurd farce. For one and only one law whispers yet thunders here behind the scenes, and only that one triumphs over this theater of deceit – the law of the godly promise written in a book that is thousands of years old: “For I give all the land that you see to you and your offspring forever” (Genesis 13:15).
Thus, this and nothing else is the lesson: Until the statute of limitations is applied to this ancient law, there will be no justice here. For whether the god who made the promise still lives on high and watches his creatures in great sorrow from there, or whether he has been redeemed and died – here, on Earth, in this unholy land, the lives of tens of thousands of people are being destroyed and will be destroyed many times over, because of those who appointed themselves as the arm of power of the sole rulers.
How an Internet Impostor Exposed the Underbelly of the Czech Media – Foreign Policy
When politicians own the press, trolls have the last laugh.
Tatiana Horakova has an impressive résumé: As head of a Czech medical nonprofit that sends doctors to conflict zones, she negotiated the release of five Bulgarian nurses held by Muammar al-Qaddafi in Libya, traveled to Colombia with former French President Nicolas Sarkozy to secure a hostage’s freedom from FARC guerrillas, and turned down three nominations for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Not bad for someone who might not even exist.
Horakova has never been photographed. She does not appear to have a medical license. Her nonprofit, which she has claimed employs 200 doctors, appears to be a sham. Her exploits, so far as anyone can tell, are entirely fabricated.
None of this has stopped the press from taking her claims at face value time and again over the course of more than a decade. When it comes to a good story, incredulity is scant and memories run short.
Earlier this year, she again emerged from the shadows, this time to troll Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis—and expose just how easily disinformation can slip into the mainstream press, especially when politicians control it.
In September, the Czech broadsheet Lidove Noviny published an op-ed by Horakova expressing support for Babis’s refusal to offer asylum to 50 Syrian orphans, as was proposed by an opposition member of parliament. Playing up to his populist pledge not to allow “a single refugee” into the Czech Republic, the prime minister said the country had its own orphans to care for.
That crossed the line and provoked widespread criticism. But Horakova’s op-ed seemed to offer a way out: an expert offering the opinion that the orphans would be better off at home in Syria.
Horakova originally sent the piece to the prime minister’s office, which forwarded it to the paper. A brief Google search would have raised plenty of red flags about the author, but the newspaper leaped without looking.
Lidove Noviny pulled the piece within hours, but not quickly enough to stop several high-profile journalists from quitting. The editors, they complained, could no longer protect the newspaper from its owner—the billionaire prime minister.
Desperate to deflect criticism, Babis’s office appears to have passed the article to the paper without doing due diligence, and the paper took what it was spoon-fed.
The debate over the Syrian orphans had created “a highly charged political moment,” Babis’s spokesperson, Lucie Kubovicova, told Foreign Policy. She said she did not know “who exactly” sent the article to the paper.
Pushing for an Israeli victory is the only way to end the conflict with the Palestinians
Il faut lire ce point de vue d’un néoconservateur américain car il reflète une partie de la pensée de la droite pro-israélienne
Lieberman and Bennett failed to impose a new paradigm on how to deal with Hamas, but more and more people in Israel are recognizing that compromises and concessions have only led to more violence
Daniel Pipes SendSend me email alerts
Dec 02, 2018 4:04 PM
From a practical political point of view, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, and their idea to take a tougher stand toward Hamas just went down to defeat, if not humiliation.
That’s because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again showed his political skills; the first is now ex-defense minister, the second failed to become defense minister.
>> ‘Get used to the rockets’: What Netanyahu should tell Israelis living near Gaza | Opinion
From a longer-term point of view, however, the duo raised an issue that for decades had not been part of the Israeli political discourse but, due to their efforts, promises to be an important factor in the future: that would be the concept of victory, of an Israeli victory over Hamas and, by extension, over the Palestinian Authority and Palestinians in general.
Victory – defined as imposing one’s will on the enemy so he gives up his war goals - has been the war goal of philosophers, strategists, and generals through human history. Aristotle wrote that “Victory is the end of generalship.” Karl von Clausewitz, the Prussian theorist, concurred: “The aim of war should be the defeat of the enemy.” Gen. James Mattis, the U.S. secretary of defense, finds that “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over.”
Palestinians routinely speak of achieving victory over Israel, even when this is fantastical: to cite one example, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called his Hamas counterpart, Ismail Haniyeh, after eight days of violence with Israel that left Gaza badly battered in November 2012 to “congratulate him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs.”
Contrarily, in Israel, the notion of victory has been sidelined since at least the Oslo Accords of 1993, after which its leaders instead focused on such concepts as compromise, conciliation, confidence-building, flexibility, goodwill, mediation, and restraint. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert immemorially articulated this attitude in 2007 when he stated that "Peace is achieved through concessions.”
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>> Israel is incomparably stronger than Hamas – but it will never win: Interview with Hamas leader in Gaza
his perverse understanding of how wars end led Israel to make extraordinary blunders in the 15 years after Oslo, for which it was punished by unremitting campaigns of delegitimization and violence, symbolized, respectively, by the Durban conference of 2001 and the Passover Massacre of 2002.
Such nonsense ended during Netanyahu’s near-decade-long term as prime minister, but it has not yet been replaced by a sturdy vision of victory. Rather, Netanyahu has put out brush fires as they arose in Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Syria, and Lebanon. While agreeing with the concept of an Israeli victory when personally briefed, he has not spoken publicly about it.
Meanwhile, other leading figures in Israel have adopted this outlook. Former deputy chief of staff Uzi Dayan called on the army “to return the path of victory.” Former education and interior minister Gideon Sa’ar has stated that “The ‘victory paradigm,’ like Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ concept, assumes that an agreement may be possible in the future, but only after a clear and decisive Israeli victory ... The transition to the ‘victory paradigm’ is contingent upon abandoning the Oslo concept.”
In this context, the statements by Lieberman and Bennett point to a change in thinking. Lieberman quit his position as defense minister out of frustration that a barrage by Hamas of 460 rockets and missiles against Israel was met with a ceasefire; he called instead for “a state of despair” to be imposed on the enemies of Israel. Complaining that “Israel stopped winning,” Bennett demanded that the IDF “start winning again,” and added that “When Israel wants to win, we can win.” On rescinding his demand for the defense portfolio, Bennett emphasized that he stands by Netanyahu “in the monumental task of ensuring that Israel is victorious again.”
>> Netanyahu’s vision for the Middle East has come true | Analysis
Opponents of this paradigm then amusingly testified to the power of this idea of victory. Ma’ariv columnist Revital Amiran wrote that the victory the Israeli public most wants lies in such arenas as larger allocations for the elderly and unbearable traffic jams. Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, replied to Bennett that for her, a victorious Israel means winning Emmy and Oscar nominations, guaranteeing equal health services, and spending more on education.
That victory and defeat have newly become a topic for debate in Israel constitutes a major development. Thus does the push for an Israeli victory move forward.
Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum think tank, which promotes Israel Victory, a project to steer U.S. policy toward backing an Israeli victory to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. Follow him on Twitter @DanielPipes
NEW YORK (Ma’an) — The United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) voted in favor of five resolutions regarding Palestine and a sixth resolution on the Golan Heights, on Friday evening.
One of the most important resolutions adopted called upon member states not to recognize any measures taken by Israel in Jerusalem and to maintain the current status-quo in the holy city.
Palestine’s Permanent Observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said that “by voting in favor of the five resolutions, the international community affirms its support of our national cause, despite the efforts made by the US administration in international forums to resist this.”
UNGA also adopted a sixth resolution on the occupied Syrian Golan, demanding the withdrawal of Israel from all of the territory and affirming Syria’s sovereignty over it, in line with the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council.
On November 17, the UNGA voted in favor of eight resolutions on Palestine and a ninth on the Syrian Golan Heights.
Kurdistan 24 captures completion of first US observation post on Syria-Turkey border
Last week, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said the US-led coalition had decided to set up observation posts in northern Syria along parts of the border with Turkey.
Mattis further explained that recent Turkish attacks on Kurdish areas of Syria had delayed efforts of the US-led coalition to defeat the Islamic State (IS) in the war-torn country.
Funding gaps threaten to leave nearly 1 million children out in the cold in the Middle East and North Africa
With cold and rainy weather sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa, nearly 1 million children affected by crises in the region risk being left out in the cold. UNICEF is facing a US$33 million funding gap – two-thirds of the total appeal - for lifesaving winter assistance for children including warm clothes, blankets and winter health, water, sanitation and hygiene supplies.
“Years of conflict, displacement and unemployment have reduced families’ financial resources to almost nothing. Staying warm has simply become unaffordable,” said Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa. “With little nutritious food and healthcare, children have grown weak, becoming prone to hypothermia and dangerous respiratory diseases. Without help to protect them from the freezing weather, these children are likely to face dire consequences.”
Falling temperatures will bring even further hardship to thousands of families who are living in extremely basic conditions especially in camps or crowded shelters with little protection from the freezing cold. Last winter, two children died from the cold as they were attempting to flee the war in Syria to Lebanon in search of safety.
Overall this winter, UNICEF aims to reach 1.3 million children in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the State of Palestine, Turkey and Egypt with warm clothes; thermal blankets; water, sanitation, health and hygiene support; and cash assistance for families. UNICEF’s winter response complements existing programmes in health, nutrition, water and sanitation, protection and education and aims to keep vulnerable children across the region warm, healthy and in school this winter.
In Syria, we ‘took the oil.’ Now Trump wants to give it to Iran. - The Washington Post
“We have this 30 percent slice of Syria, which is probably where 90 percent of the pre-war oil production took place,” said David Adesnik, director of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “This is leverage.”
Communisme, Stalinisme, Socialisme, Fascisme, Collectivisme, Anarchisme
Une fois n’est pas coûtume, je vais reproduire l’essentiel d’un débat qui s’est déroulé sur l’excellente liste de diffusion de géographie critique (dite liste des « crits »).
From Dr Hillary J. Shaw
Visiting Fellow - Centre for Urban Research on Austerity
Department of Politics and Public Policy
De Montfort University
The problem with books is once you read them you can’t un-read them.
European politics and history in the 20 C starts to look a little different once you read Hayek, F A (1971) The Road To Serfdom, Routledge, London UK From the first few pages of this book, "...Stalinism was described even by a friend of Lenin as ‘superfascist’, ‘more ruthless than fascism’, with similar opinions being expressed by British politician Chamberlain, and by British writer Mr F A Vogt (Hayek, 1971: 20-1). The vicious fighting in 1920s Europe between Fascists and Communists was precisely because ‘they competed for the support of the same type of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic’ (Hayek, 1971: 22). One thing that all Collectivists share is intolerance for any dissenting, therefore threatening, opinions, rather like the strong religious factions of 16 century Europe..."
Un certain Reed (pas d’autres infos) répond :
One thing that all Collectivists share is intolerance for any dissenting, therefore threatening, opinions... Then, One thing that all vulgar individualists share is a perfectly immoral disregard for mutual obligations... I’d say capitalism — marked as it is by market imperatives rather than opportunities — `is “collectivist” in the extreme, which is probably related to its tendency to decay into fascism.
I also find it interesting that the anti-fascism of partisans is, in your formulation, pitched as a Bad Thing. Meanwhile, the inertia (or complicity) of liberals goes unmentioned.
But, sure, the uses of Hayek are endless, as every anti-democratic and reactionary movement in the U.S. has thoroughly demonstrated, especially the anarcho-capitalist types who (surprise!) fly their black and yellow flags at the same rallies where the Klansmen and neo-nazis gather to cheerlead genocide.
Hillary J. Shaw again en réponse :
1) yes, capitalism, especially when globalised, can easily become ’Collectivist’, Totalitarian, even., Renarkably, even Adam Smith, way back in 1755, spoke of this tendency. And look now at the oligopolies we have in e.g. supermarkets, banking.
2) Collectivism, generally, DOES demand uniformity of opinion - that’s almost a circular tautology. Can you give any major examples where it hasn’t - I’d love to know. And it was Hayek who used the term ’Collectivist’ for both Stalinism and 1940s fascism, by the way, not me.
3) I said nothing about anti-fascism of partisans here, such ’partisans’ are often Communist in ideology, but may be ’anarchist’ leaning (although anarchism has often evolved into a very Collectivist socialism, ironically). As fighters against Naziism in the 1940s, they wree a great thing, as was anything that helped end Hitler’s tyranny and WW2.
4) On this Hayekian analysis, the Klansmen, as neo-nazis, would be portrayed as Collectivist too - so if you percieve me as anti-Collectivist 9and I am no admirer of Stalin), then I must be (and indeed am) anti Klansmen too.
Yes Hayek can be ’used for many things’ - but doesn’t that apply to almost all significant researchers, academics, in the social sciences and indeed beyond? Including for sure Marx, and probably Aadam Smith too. Does that mean we should ditch them, and the rest of these thinkers too?
Noel Cass, de l’université de Lancaster :
“anarchism has often evolved into a very Collectivist socialism, ironically”
– just, no, Hilary.
After socialist revolutions, anarchism has been crushed by authoritarian socialists. Please desist from sweeping political generalisations that just get up people’s noses.
Hillary J. Shaw répond :
Well yes and no. Only Wikipedia but seems to be broadly correct here
While opposition to the state is central, anarchism specifically entails opposing authority or hierarchical organisation in the conduct of all human relations. Anarchism is usually considered a far-left ideology and much of anarchist economics and anarchist legal philosophy reflects anti-authoritarian interpretations of communism, collectivism, syndicalism, mutualism, or participatory economics.
In response to the army rebellion, an anarchist-inspired movement of peasants and workers, supported by armed militias, took control of Barcelona and of large areas of rural Spain where they collectivised the land. However, the anarchists were losing ground even before the fascist victory in 1939 in a bitter struggle with the Stalinists, who controlled much of the distribution of military aid to the Republicans cause from the Soviet Union. According to Noam Chomsky, "the communists were mainly responsible for the destruction of the Spanish anarchists. Not just in Catalonia—the communist armies mainly destroyed the collectives elsewhere. The communists basically acted as the police force of the security system of the Republic and were very much opposed to the anarchists, partially because Stalin still hoped at that time to have some kind of pact with Western countries against Adolf Hitler
My point in the whole of this is that the Left is a very complex concept that can range from being as totalitarian as some fascist regimes (e.g in the case of Stalin) right through to more idealistic schemes that promote individual flourishing (e.g. some anarchists) - however those who create the latter such schemes, however well-meaning, must beware they do not lapse/evolve into/get taken over by the more collectivist / dictatorial ones.
Antony Ince, géographe de l’université de Cardiff :
First of all, Hillary, you are very nearly correct when you point out the Spanish Civil War. There was a faction among the anarchists who believed that it would be strategically useful to participate in the Republican government in order to enhance their influence, especially in the anti-fascist regions where they were less powerful.
However, this did not necessarily involve a change of ideology; it was an effort - a flawed one, admittedly, spurred on by concerns of war - to instrumentally use state institutions to further the anarchist cause. As it happened, it didn’t end well.
Second, I would like to emphasise that “collectivism” is not a singular term and is not owned by totalitarianisms such as Stalinism et al. To begin, fascism’s conception of collectivism is one of national unity, a cross-class alliance in the supposed interest of national ’renewal’ or ’renaissance’ that is only collective in the sense that a powerful central state is in control of the polity, and which often features some very crude forms of nationalisation. Soviet collectivism operates functionally in a similar way (as predicted by the anarchists long before 1917!), although its goal is oriented towards the elimination of class relations.
Of course, in practice, it simply created a new class structure by occupying the same state institutions and relations of production as the old order and failing to eliminate capital when it had the chance.
With regards to anarchism and collectivism, the story is different again. Aside from some streams of exclusively individualist anarchism influenced by the likes of Max Stirner, anarchism is more accurately described as “anarchist-communism”. It is a left-libertarian form of collectivism that seeks to respect individual agency while also promoting the virtues of co-operation (sometimes referred to as ’free association’).
There are many examples of this, such as the regions controlled by the CNT in civil war Spain, the vast regions of Ukraine voluntarily collectivised along anarchist lines by the Makhnovists during the Russian revolution, and more recently the principles on which the Rojava region in Syria is managed. (Of course, there are the Zapatistas too, but interestingly it turns out that their form of agrarian anarchism emerged from libertarian Marxist ideas in the early 1980s). Anyway, for the most part, anarchist experiments have tended to end not by a drift towards authoritarianism but by annihilation at the hands of authoritarians.
In Spain, of course the fascists were largely to blame, but also the USSR-backed Communist Party saw the anarchists as a greater threat to their prospects than Franco; for the Makhnovists, it was Trotsky’s Red Armies who ended their voluntary collectivism in the Ukrainian countryside. In Rojava, if their Bookchin-inspired libertarian municipalism doesn’t survive (which I sincerely hope it does!), it is likely to be at the hands of the proto-fascist Turkish state.
So, let’s be a little more nuanced with the notion of ’collectivism’, what it means, and what values and organisational logics it embodies. There are multiple collectivisms, and they operate along as much an axis of authoritarian-libertarian as left-right.
Noel Cass dans un dernier élan :
I was tempted to shout “Remember Kronstadt!”, lob a grenade, and duck !!
Israel’s Iron Dome defense of Saudi Arabia aims to avert collapse of Trump and Netanyahu’s entire Middle East strategy- Haaretz.Com
The September downing of a Russian spy plane over Syria has inhibited the air force’s freedom of action against Iran and Hezbollah
Some commentators predict that the Saudi crown prince is now so indebted to Trump that his support for the plan will be even more emphatic, but it’s more reasonable to assume that his newly-precarious hold on power will dissuade him from expressing emphatic support for a peace plan that is bound to enrage Palestinians as well as the proverbial “Arab street” in Riyadh, Mecca and other Arab cities.
Netanyahu might actually welcome Saudi reticence that could help convince the Trump administration to hold off once again with its plan. The recent coalition crisis made it crystal clear that Netanyahu could be one of the first victims of his Washington BFF’s blueprint. Any peace plan published by the White House, even one viewed by Palestinians and the world as completely one-sided in Israel’s favor, will necessarily include relinquishment of territory, in East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank. It will be uniformly rejected by most of the Israeli right. Netanyahu is certainly loath to reject the fruit of Trump’s pro-Israel peace team’s labor, but anything less than a resounding “no” on his part could persuade even more voters to opt for parties to his right in the upcoming elections.
The bottom line is that even the friendliest U.S. president in human history, as Netanyahu often describes him, is carrying a ticking time bomb that could soon blow up in the prime minister’s face. And as Netanyahu has recently learned from the botched military incursion in Gaza, the downing of the Russian plane and the horrid Khashoggi killing in Istanbul, unexpected developments can shake up the Middle East and demolish his image as its master manipulator. When lady luck thumbs her nose at the start of an election year, even the conventional wisdom about Netanyahu’s inevitable victory could dissipate in an instant, along with his hitherto-lauded grand strategies.
Europeans Help ’Idlib Rebels’ To Equip Missiles With Chemical Warheads – Report
French militants-experts are helping Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) [former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria] to arm newly delivered missiles with chemical warheads, local sources familiar with the situation told the Russian news agency Sputnik on November 22.
According to the sources, the White Helmets organization transferred five containers with toxic chemicals from one of HTS’ warehouses in the town of Kafr Nabl in the southern Idlib countryside to an underground facility in Idlib city, which has recently been built near the Central Prison.
“The five containers were handed over in the underground facility to French experts, of the black ethnicity .. they arrived recently to modify missiles of an unidentified type, which were supplied along with their launchers through the border,” Sputnik quoted the sources as saying.
South Front, Sputnik : rien que des complotistes contre la révolution en #syrie
Putin’s interests in Syria and Lebanon are limiting Israel’s military options
Playing chess with Hezbollah is one thing. Trying to figure out what Putin wants, in Syria and perhaps also in Lebanon, even as Hezbollah is trying to manufacture weapons there, is a completely different challenge
Amos Harel - Nov 18, 2018 9:39 AM
One reason for Israel’s exceptional caution in dealing with Hamas in the Gaza Strip is its growing concern over the northern front. Though it may sound like a threadbare excuse, this seems to be one of the considerations driving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to decide, time after time, to try to reach a cease-fire in Gaza.
The problem Israel faces in the north, in a nutshell, is the real danger that its operational window of opportunity is closing. In recent years, Israel has exploited the upheaval in the Arab world to expand its offensive activity, most of which is secret.
Via hundreds of airstrikes and special operations, the army and the intelligence agencies have worked to distance the danger of another war and reduce the enemy’s operational capabilities in the event that war does break out.
In Syria and Lebanon, the campaign initially focused on preventing Iran from smuggling advanced weaponry to Hezbollah. But over the last year or so, a new mission has been added – preventing Iran’s military entrenchment in Syria. This peaked with a flurry of incidents between the Israel Defense Forces and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards last winter and spring.
A problem may also be developing in Lebanon. In his address to the United Nations General Assembly in September, Netanyahu warned of efforts by Iran and Hezbollah to set up missile production facilities in the Beirut area. Given the problems its smuggling operations had encountered, the Revolutionary Guards’ Quds force apparently decided it had to shorten the distance between the manufacturer and the customer by moving its efforts to improve the accuracy of Hezbollah’s rockets to Lebanon.
Netanyahu’s speech did its job. In the three days between that speech and the tour of Beirut the Lebanese government conducted for diplomats to rebut it, someone worked hard to get rid of the evidence. But over the long run, Iran seems unlikely to abandon this effort.
What’s even more worrying is that Putin has recently displayed increased interest in events in Lebanon. In the worst-case scenario, the defensive umbrella — both real and symbolic — that Russia has spread over northwest Syria would be expanded to Lebanon, further complicating Israel’s calculus.
Even now, at least according to Arab media reports, Israel hasn’t conducted an airstrike in Lebanon since February 2014, when the IAF, apparently pursuing an arms convoy that had crossed the border from Syria, bombed a target in Janta, a few hundred meters to the Lebanese side of the Lebanon-Syria border.
Hezbollah, which was willing to pretend the spit was rain as long as its convoys were being bombed on the Syrian side, immediately responded with a series of attacks by Druze residents of the Syrian Golan Heights.
The cell’s commander, Lebanese terrorist Samir Kuntar, and his successor, Hezbollah’s Jihad Mughniyeh, were both subsequently killed in attacks attributed to Israel. Since then, Israel has confined its attacks to Syria.
But playing chess with Hezbollah is one thing. Trying to figure out what Putin wants, in Syria and perhaps also in Lebanon, even as Hezbollah is trying to manufacture weapons there, is a challenge of a completely different order of magnitude.
Netanyahu was presumably hinting at this problem, among others, when he spoke about security considerations that he can’t share with the public, at the memorial for Paula Ben-Gurion earlier this week.
Media Lens - The Filter Bubble - Owen Jones And Con Coughlin
It stands to reason that anyone seeking employment within this bubble will have to accept an unwritten agreement not to challenge the integrity of the bubble by which they are granted wealth and fame. Any ingrate deciding to renege is attacked, reviled and cast out; treated almost as sub-human, not entirely real. Politicians like George Galloway challenging the bubble can be beaten up in broad daylight and it is of no concern. Idealistic hippies like Russell Brand preaching love can be torn to shreds and silenced by the press pack – it doesn’t matter. Whistleblowing activists like Julian Assange can be trapped, threatened with life imprisonment and death, and it is a laughing matter. Whole countries can be destroyed – it doesn’t matter. The climate can be destroyed – it doesn’t matter. The filter bubble has its own dream logic, follows its own cosmic laws as if the real world was none of its concern.
Quant aux noms invoqués dans le titre, ils font référence à la différence abyssale existant entre un fil twitter (franc et incisif) du journaliste du « Guardian » Owen Jones concernant la flagornerie sans vergogne dont fait preuve le journaliste du « Telegraph » Con Coughlin vis-à-vis de l’Arabie saoudite, et un article (aussi peu critique du flagorneur que possible) du même Jones dans le Guardian :
Why are defence editors, defence correspondents, diplomatic editors and the like so often biased in favour of the Western defence and diplomatic establishment they are covering? And why are they allowed to demonstrate this bias without anyone so much as commenting?
The filter bubble ensures that these questions can never be asked, much less answered.
Iraq was destroyed in a nakedly illegal oil grab, more than one million human beings were killed, and the ’mainstream’ continued to treat the criminals responsible as respectable statespeople, and to take seriously their subsequent calls for ’humanitarian intervention’ in oil-rich Libya. With Libya reduced to ruins, the same journalists dreamed on, treating the same criminals with the same respect as they sought yet one more regime change in Syria.
Is Germany facing a mental health crisis among refugees and migrants?
Whenever a migrant or refugee is the perpetrator of a violent crime, questions asked seem to revolve around their background and whether being a migrant has somehow predisposed them to commit the crime.
What can mental health professionals add to the debate?
In the German city of Freiburg, a student was gang-raped by several men, many of them of Syrian origin, spurring once again a debate in German society over a possible predisposition of migrants to committing violent acts.
For health professionals, such acts require a different approach - one that is focused on the psychological risks of migrant journeys.
Professor Dr. Thomas Elbert, a research professor in neuropsychology at the University of Konstanz, says that a mental health crisis among migrants is looming. As one of the authors of a new study for the Leopoldina (The German National Academy of Science), he calls for immediate action. “This [kind of violent incident] is something we have predicted.“
Elbert warns that violent acts will occur more frequently if nothing is done to create conditions where, “young men in particular, but in general people who are seeking protection here in Germany, have the opportunity to acquire social status.”
For Elbert, social status is key. Social status is the thing which stops many more people from committing crimes like rape or murder, he says. The loss of social status, which happens when you are sent to prison and excluded from society, is more of a barrier to crime than the actual punishment. But if you have nothing to lose then it is much easier to graduate to crime.
That is not to say that refugees or migrants are naturally predisposed to commit such crimes because of their background or ethnicity, he adds.
Risk factors, stress
However, a greater proportion of migrants are exposed to risk factors which increase the likelihood of committing crimes, Elbert explains. This is due to the reasons which led them to flee or what they experienced on the road to Europe. People who have made it to Europe are often laboring under huge amounts of stress. “They feel under permanent threat,” he says.
“We have asked refugees who have crossed the Sahara desert, how did you get here? And they told us: ’We had to commit crimes; we were attacked, people robbed us, so we also had to start attacking.’” From his research, Elbert found that out of 10 boys who leave West Africa, only two make it to the Mediterranean coast and only one actually crosses to Europe. He thinks that these people, in spite of their traumas, can be integrated successfully. They have, after all, already learnt to survive, but their traumas need to be treated, a key point of his study “Traumatized refugees –immediate response required.”
Research conducted for the study has found that as many as half of migrants and refugees could have psychiatric problems or post-traumatic stress. The effects of these traumas can be worse for society in men than in women. And the majority of the migrants who arrived in 2015 were young men.
Migrants abandoned in the Sahara desert Photo Sylla Ibrahima Sory
Elbert found that one-third of men who experience a violent upbringing will turn to crime, whereas only one in 20 or 50 women will do so. However, women who have undergone trauma might be more prone to suicide or self-harm. All these things will cost society huge amounts of money – hence the call for therapy and more intensive screening.
Virginia Edwards-Menz is a registered nurse with 30 years experience working in mental health and more than 13 years counseling refugees and migrants on a volunteer basis near Freiburg.
She agrees with a recent study by the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg which found that at least one in three people coming from Syria are laboring under some kind of mental health issue. However, the German system is not equipped to invest the amount of time needed to really assess each individual’s psychiatric needs, she says.
She points out that most new arrivals are on welfare which means that only the most acute cases are even dealt with. Most social workers have more than 100 people to attend to. There is no way they can even begin to tackle the effects that violence may have had on the refugees. In addition, many refugees are not even aware that they might need that kind of help, says Edwards-Menz.
Can trauma lead to gang-rape?
Elbert does not see a correlation between trauma and rape. Rape he thinks is usually caused by problems of socialization and can also be the result of a continual witnessing of violence. “Once you have lost your moral barriers, what is allowed, what is not allowed, then rape is one of your options. We see that in war-like regions where there is no state or monopoly of power. Young men begin to rape. They do so in gangs, to show and test who is the most terrible cruel and dominant guy in the group.”
Gender, attitude towards women
Can crimes like the gang-rape in Freiburg be attested to having grown up in a different culture where the role of women is defined much differently than in Western cultures?
Elbert and Edwards-Menz agree that there is no simple explanation. “It’s not a justification to say we have not learnt that the situation in Germany is maybe different [to the country of origin.]," Elbert says. But he also says that limits of what is OK and not OK “are learnt within a cultural context.” If the moral barriers you grew up with (for instance certain dress codes and behavior) are no longer present, then it can be easy to think that you do not have to respect the person who appears to be flouting the codes you learnt.
As a volunteer, Edwards-Menz has often come across men from countries like Afghanistan who do adhere to Islamic codes of behavior and believe that European society should change to their way of thinking. She advocates talking to gradually shift mentalities and continually repeating the message of what is acceptable, and what is not in Germany. She notes that quite a lot of them arrive illiterate. This creates a barrier to integration and can also go some way to explaining sometimes entrenched attitudes. With no access to other ways of thinking or being, their opinions can take a long time to shift.
The government and agencies who work with refugees and migrants are already doing this, she says. The main problem is time and resources, as in enough translators to work with people and enough time to devote to each individual and understand each separate biography. Only then, can these traumas really be overcome and people integrated successfully.
Full assessment necessary
Both experts agree that German society as a whole is facing a problem and that the solution cannot be to deport people and thereby push the problem onto another society.
What both experts want is a proper assessment of the extent of the problem so that the trauma that many people are carrying can be digested. The problem is that this involves a long process and no simple answers, but it is only that which will aid better integration in the future.
#Allemagne #santé_mentale #réfugiés #asile #migrations #crime #criminalité #stress #traumatisme #viol #statut_social
US Wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Killed 500,000 People - News From Antiwar.com
Brown University has released a new study on the cost in lives of America’s Post-9/11 Wars, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The study estimates between 480,000 and 507,000 people were killed in the course of the three conflicts.
This includes combatant deaths and civilian deaths in fighting and war violence. Civilians make up over half of the roughly 500,000 killed, with both opposition fighters and US-backed foreign military forces each sustaining in excess of 100,000 deaths as well.
This is admittedly a dramatic under-report of people killed in the wars, as it only attempts to calculate those killed directly in war violence, and not the massive number of others civilians who died from infrastructure damage or other indirect results of the wars. The list also excludes the US war in Syria, which itself stakes claims to another 500,000 killed since 2011.
Europe is using smartphone data as a weapon to deport refugees
European leaders need to bring immigration numbers down, and #metadata on smartphones could be just what they need to start sending migrants back.
Smartphones have helped tens of thousands of migrants travel to Europe. A phone means you can stay in touch with your family – or with people smugglers. On the road, you can check Facebook groups that warn of border closures, policy changes or scams to watch out for. Advice on how to avoid border police spreads via WhatsApp.
Now, governments are using migrants’ smartphones to deport them.
Across the continent, migrants are being confronted by a booming mobile forensics industry that specialises in extracting a smartphone’s messages, location history, and even #WhatsApp data. That information can potentially be turned against the phone owners themselves.
In 2017 both Germany and Denmark expanded laws that enabled immigration officials to extract data from asylum seekers’ phones. Similar legislation has been proposed in Belgium and Austria, while the UK and Norway have been searching asylum seekers’ devices for years.
Following right-wing gains across the EU, beleaguered governments are scrambling to bring immigration numbers down. Tackling fraudulent asylum applications seems like an easy way to do that. As European leaders met in Brussels last week to thrash out a new, tougher framework to manage migration —which nevertheless seems insufficient to placate Angela Merkel’s critics in Germany— immigration agencies across Europe are showing new enthusiasm for laws and software that enable phone data to be used in deportation cases.
Admittedly, some refugees do lie on their asylum applications. Omar – not his real name – certainly did. He travelled to Germany via Greece. Even for Syrians like him there were few legal alternatives into the EU. But his route meant he could face deportation under the EU’s Dublin regulation, which dictates that asylum seekers must claim refugee status in the first EU country they arrive in. For Omar, that would mean settling in Greece – hardly an attractive destination considering its high unemployment and stretched social services.
Last year, more than 7,000 people were deported from Germany according to the Dublin regulation. If Omar’s phone were searched, he could have become one of them, as his location history would have revealed his route through Europe, including his arrival in Greece.
But before his asylum interview, he met Lena – also not her real name. A refugee advocate and businesswoman, Lena had read about Germany’s new surveillance laws. She encouraged Omar to throw his phone away and tell immigration officials it had been stolen in the refugee camp where he was staying. “This camp was well-known for crime,” says Lena, “so the story seemed believable.” His application is still pending.
Omar is not the only asylum seeker to hide phone data from state officials. When sociology professor Marie Gillespie researched phone use among migrants travelling to Europe in 2016, she encountered widespread fear of mobile phone surveillance. “Mobile phones were facilitators and enablers of their journeys, but they also posed a threat,” she says. In response, she saw migrants who kept up to 13 different #SIM cards, hiding them in different parts of their bodies as they travelled.
This could become a problem for immigration officials, who are increasingly using mobile phones to verify migrants’ identities, and ascertain whether they qualify for asylum. (That is: whether they are fleeing countries where they risk facing violence or persecution.) In Germany, only 40 per cent of asylum applicants in 2016 could provide official identification documents. In their absence, the nationalities of the other 60 per cent were verified through a mixture of language analysis — using human translators and computers to confirm whether their accent is authentic — and mobile phone data.
Over the six months after Germany’s phone search law came into force, immigration officials searched 8,000 phones. If they doubted an asylum seeker’s story, they would extract their phone’s metadata – digital information that can reveal the user’s language settings and the locations where they made calls or took pictures.
To do this, German authorities are using a computer programme, called Atos, that combines technology made by two mobile forensic companies – T3K and MSAB. It takes just a few minutes to download metadata. “The analysis of mobile phone data is never the sole basis on which a decision about the application for asylum is made,” says a spokesperson for BAMF, Germany’s immigration agency. But they do use the data to look for inconsistencies in an applicant’s story. If a person says they were in Turkey in September, for example, but phone data shows they were actually in Syria, they can see more investigation is needed.
Denmark is taking this a step further, by asking migrants for their Facebook passwords. Refugee groups note how the platform is being used more and more to verify an asylum seeker’s identity.
It recently happened to Assem, a 36-year-old refugee from Syria. Five minutes on his public Facebook profile will tell you two things about him: first, he supports a revolution against Syria’s Assad regime and, second, he is a devoted fan of Barcelona football club. When Danish immigration officials asked him for his password, he gave it to them willingly. “At that time, I didn’t care what they were doing. I just wanted to leave the asylum center,” he says. While Assem was not happy about the request, he now has refugee status.
The Danish immigration agency confirmed they do ask asylum applicants to see their Facebook profiles. While it is not standard procedure, it can be used if a caseworker feels they need more information. If the applicant refused their consent, they would tell them they are obliged under Danish law. Right now, they only use Facebook – not Instagram or other social platforms.
Across the EU, rights groups and opposition parties have questioned whether these searches are constitutional, raising concerns over their infringement of privacy and the effect of searching migrants like criminals.
“In my view, it’s a violation of ethics on privacy to ask for a password to Facebook or open somebody’s mobile phone,” says Michala Clante Bendixen of Denmark’s Refugees Welcome movement. “For an asylum seeker, this is often the only piece of personal and private space he or she has left.”
Information sourced from phones and social media offers an alternative reality that can compete with an asylum seeker’s own testimony. “They’re holding the phone to be a stronger testament to their history than what the person is ready to disclose,” says Gus Hosein, executive director of Privacy International. “That’s unprecedented.”
Everything we know about the UK’s plan to block online porn
Everything we know about the UK’s plan to block online porn
Privacy campaigners note how digital information might not reflect a person’s character accurately. “Because there is so much data on a person’s phone, you can make quite sweeping judgements that might not necessarily be true,” says Christopher Weatherhead, technologist at Privacy International.
Bendixen cites the case of one man whose asylum application was rejected after Danish authorities examined his phone and saw his Facebook account had left comments during a time he said he was in prison. He explained that his brother also had access to his account, but the authorities did not believe him; he is currently waiting for appeal.
A spokesperson for the UK’s Home Office told me they don’t check the social media of asylum seekers unless they are suspected of a crime. Nonetheless, British lawyers and social workers have reported that social media searches do take place, although it is unclear whether they reflect official policy. The Home Office did not respond to requests for clarification on that matter.
Privacy International has investigated the UK police’s ability to search phones, indicating that immigration officials could possess similar powers. “What surprised us was the level of detail of these phone searches. Police could access information even you don’t have access to, such as deleted messages,” Weatherhead says.
His team found that British police are aided by Israeli mobile forensic company Cellebrite. Using their software, officials can access search history, including deleted browsing history. It can also extract WhatsApp messages from some Android phones.
There is a crippling irony that the smartphone, for so long a tool of liberation, has become a digital Judas. If you had stood in Athens’ Victoria Square in 2015, at the height of the refugee crisis, you would have noticed the “smartphone stoop”: hundreds of Syrians, Iraqis, and Afghans standing or sitting about this sun-baked patch of grass and concrete, were bending their heads, looking into their phones.
The smartphone has become the essential accessory for modern migration. Travelling to Europe as an asylum seeker is expensive. People who can’t afford phones typically can’t afford the journey either. Phones became a constant feature along the route to Northern Europe: young men would line the pavements outside reception centres in Berlin, hunched over their screens. In Calais, groups would crowd around charging points. In 2016, the UN refugee agency reported that phones were so important to migrants moving across Europe, that they were spending up to one third of their income on phone credit.
Now, migrants are being forced to confront a more dangerous reality, as governments worldwide expand their abilities to search asylum seekers’ phones. While European countries were relaxing their laws on metadata search, last year US immigration spent $2.2 million on phone hacking software. But asylum seekers too are changing their behaviour as they become more aware that the smartphone, the very device that has bought them so much freedom, could be the very thing used to unravel their hope of a new life.
#smartphone #smartphones #données #big_data #expulsions #Allemagne #Danemark #renvois #carte_SIM #Belgique #Autriche
Opinion | Iran & Saudi Arabia, Thelma & Louise - The New York Times
Les cons, ça ose tout, c’est même à ça qu’on les reconnaît... Après avoir chanté les louanges de MBS (Mohamed Bone Saw), Friedman vous analyse la politique extérieure iranienne !
And how did that work out?
Iran denuclearized, but the Revolutionary Guards used the release of pressure and fresh cash and investments from the West to further project their power into the Sunni Arab world, consolidating the grip of Iran’s proxies over four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Sana and Beirut.
Worse, Iran and its Lebanese Shiite mercenary army, Hezbollah, joined with Syria’s pro-Shiite regime in suppressing any chance of power-sharing with Syrian rebels and helped that regime ethnically cleanse Sunnis from key districts in Syria. Iran and its mercenaries also winked at Syria’s genocidal use of poison gas and barrel bombs, which contributed mightily to the death toll from the Syrian civil war of some 500,000 people, with 11 million people displaced.
Iran’s imperial overstretch was halted only by the Israeli Air Force dealing a heavy blow to Iranian units in Syria when Iran sent missiles there to attack Israel.
I thought the Iran deal was a bet worth making. No regrets. It did curb Iran’s nuclear program — a big deal — but it did nothing to moderate Iran’s regional behavior, which was never part of the pact. Indeed, it may have been the price of it, as Iran’s supreme leader seemed to compensate for making the deal with the “American devil” by allowing the Revolutionary Guards a freer hand to project their power.
UAE To Reopen Its Embassy In Damascus Within Few Weeks - Report
The UAE is going to reopen its embassy in the Syrian capital of Damascus within the upcoming two weeks, diplomatic sources told the Lebanon news outlet Debate on November 5.
The Lebanese news outlet didn’t provide further information on the matter. However, several Syrian pro-government sources confirmed on November 7 that the Abu Dhabi embassy in Damascus is undergoing maintenance.
From refugees to entrepreneurs: How one family started over
With just 30 days notice, the Rawas family was plucked from their temporary home in Jordan, where they’d fled the Syrian civil war, and resettled in Oakland. As refugees, they knew no one, had no job prospects and didn’t speak a word of English.
Three years later, Mohammed Aref Rawas, Rawaa Kasedah and their four children are running a budding catering business that serves authentic Syrian food such as smoked basmati rice, falafel and fattoush salad. They’ve hired their first employee. Their clients include big tech companies. And the days when starting over seemed impossible are far behind them.
They are among a large population of refugees who, after fleeing a homeland overrun by violence and political turmoil, started a business in the U.S., integrating quickly into the economy and life of a country that gave them a second chance. The family’s entrepreneurial approach is common among immigrants, studies show.
An estimated 11 percent of all Syrian immigrants in the labor force are business owners — nearly four times the rate of U.S.-born business owners, according to a study by the New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute and the Center for American Progress. A significant part of that success has been the ability to master the English language, the report said.
Meanwhile, a 2016 study by the Institute that followed Bosnian, Burmese, Hmong and Somali refugees nationwide found that they too moved up the occupational ladder and started businesses after settling in the U.S. Thirty one out of every 1,000 Bosnian refugees in the labor force are business owners, compared with 26 out of every 1,000 Burmese, 22 out of 1,000 Hmong and 15 out of every 1,000 Somalis, the study found.
“There’s a hunger for dignified work,” said Dr. Thane Kreiner, executive director of the Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship at Santa Clara University. Kreiner launched an accelerator program known as Social Entrepreneurship at the Margins, which helps businesses and organizations around the world run by refugees, migrants or victims of human trafficking. “There’s this element of launching businesses, but also of integrating with the new host community so the refugees become part of the community rather than the ‘other.’”
The Rawas family started Old Damascus Fare casually, by happenstance last year though the family has entrepreneurship in their blood. Rawas owned a successful clothing factory in Syria, where he oversaw about 50 employees. The family lived comfortably in a suburb in their native Damascus. But increasing gunfire, kidnappings and the presence of military groups forced them to leave, and their temporary escape to Jordan in 2012 soon became permanent.
More than 500,000 Syrians have died and nearly 6 million have fled during a civil war that began seven years ago with an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Since the Trump administration’s ban on travel from seven Muslim nations, including Syria, only a handful of Syrian refugees have been resettled in California in the past fiscal year.
As the Rawas family settled into the Bay Area, new friends and acquaintances in the Arab community asked Kasedah to cater birthday parties and other events. By then, the family had noticed the absence of authentic Syrian food, even in Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods. Soon they were catering events for local tech companies such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
“We got to the point where we realized it’s not only about food,” said Batool Rawoas, one of the couple’s daughters. “We are making new friends, we are hearing about new opportunities. It’s a way to share our culture with the people here.”
They’re a powerful example of the American dream, said David Miliband, a former British foreign secretary and CEO of the International Rescue Committee, which resettled the Rawas family in 2015. “They show that these are people who want to work and not be reliant on welfare,” he said.
Miliband visited the family recently at their catering kiosk on the UC Berkeley campus before he gave a speech, ordering the falafel sandwich and munching on appetizers that the family excitedly prepared for him. Because refugees like the Rawas’ often have to reinvent their lives, he said, that makes them resilient entrepreneurs.
“In a way, being a refugee, having to flee for your life, having to figure out who to trust, having to figure out new ways of survival … there could hardly be a more effective job training program,” he said. “Those qualities of cooperation, determination, courage, trust are important for any entrepreneur. I don’t want to trivialize it, but it makes the point.”
The family admits they’re still struggling. Their expenses regularly exceed their income, and they’re overwhelmed by the painstaking details of operating a business.
“The main challenge for any refugee family is navigating how to survive in the Bay Area because it’s so expensive,” said Rawoas, who is attending community college and hopes to transfer to a four-year university to study psychology and public health. “We lived in Syria, we were from the middle class and we had a very comfortable life. We owned our own house, our own land.”
“But we’re hoping, in the future, this will be a good thing to support us financially,” she added.
Their next goal: to own a restaurant.
Russia’s only aircraft carrier damaged after crane falls on it | Reuters
Russia’s only aircraft carrier was damaged while undergoing repairs in the north of the country after the floating dock holding it sank in the early hours of Tuesday and a crane crashed onto its deck, tearing a gash up to 5 meters wide.
The Admiral Kuznetsov has seen action in Russia’s military campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad with its planes carrying out air strikes against rebel forces.
It was being overhauled on one of the world’s biggest floating docks in the icy waters of the Kola Bay near Murmansk close to where Russia’s Northern Fleet is based and was due to go back into service in 2021.
Maria Kovtun, Murmansk’s governor, said in a statement that a rescue operation had been launched and 71 people evacuated after the floating dock holding the ship had begun to sink.
The warship had been successfully extracted from the dock before it completely sank, she said.
Russian officials: Nope, we can’t finish fixing the carrier Kuznetsov | Ars Technica
Russian officials have now acknowledged that the October 29 accident involving Russia’s only aircraft carrier and largest floating dry dock has made continuing the refit of the ship impossible. The dry dock, the PD-50, was the only one available capable of accommodating the 55,000 ton Admiral Kuznetsov. As a result, the completion of the refit of the ship is now delayed indefinitely.
The PD-50, built by a Swedish shipyard in 1980 for the Soviet Union, sank in an uncontrolled “launch” of the Kuznetsov and came to rest on the sloping bottom of the harbor at Murmansk. Two cranes collapsed during the sinking, with one crashing onto the Kuznetsov and leaving a large gash in its hull. And recovering and repairing the PD-50 could take as long as a year.
“We have alternatives actually for all the ships except for Admiral Kuznetsov,” United Ship-Building Corporation Chief Executive Alexei Rakhmanov told TASS. But the loss of the PD-50 dock “creates certain inconveniences” for future repairs on large capital ships, he acknowledged. “We hope that the issue of the docking of first-rank ships will be resolved in the near future. We are also preparing several alternatives, about which we will report to the Industry and Trade Ministry,” Rakhmanov said.
Israel has struck in Syria since Russia plane downed: Israeli official
But since the Russian plane was shot down shortly after Israeli jets attacked a nearby target, there have been no reports of Israeli air strikes in Syria.
The apparent pause raised speculation in the Israeli media that Israel was either holding back at Russia’s request or had paused the attacks over concern that they would fuel further tensions with Moscow.
U.S.-led coalition kills over 3,000 civilians since 2014: war monitor - Xinhua | English.news.cn
DAMASCUS, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) — The U.S.-led coalition has killed as many as 3,222 civilians since its operations started in Syria in 2014, a war monitor reported Tuesday.
A total of 768 children and 562 women were among those killed by the strikes of the U.S.-led coalition in the northern provinces of Hasakah, Raqqa, Aleppo, Idlib and the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.