region:middle east

  • View from Nowhere. Is it the press’s job to create a community that transcends borders?

    A few years ago, on a plane somewhere between Singapore and Dubai, I read Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983). I was traveling to report on the global market for passports—how the ultrawealthy can legally buy citizenship or residence virtually anywhere they like, even as 10 million stateless people languish, unrecognized by any country. In the process, I was trying to wrap my head around why national identity meant so much to so many, yet so little to my passport-peddling sources. Their world was the very image of Steve Bannon’s globalist nightmare: where you can never be too rich, too thin, or have too many passports.

    Anderson didn’t address the sale of citizenship, which only took off in earnest in the past decade; he did argue that nations, nationalism, and nationality are about as organic as Cheez Whiz. The idea of a nation, he writes, is a capitalist chimera. It is a collective sense of identity processed, shelf-stabilized, and packaged before being disseminated, for a considerable profit, to a mass audience in the form of printed books, news, and stories. He calls this “print-capitalism.”

    Per Anderson, after the printing press was invented, nearly 600 years ago, enterprising booksellers began publishing the Bible in local vernacular languages (as opposed to the elitist Latin), “set[ting] the stage for the modern nation” by allowing ordinary citizens to participate in the same conversations as the upper classes. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the proliferation (and popularity) of daily newspapers further collapsed time and space, creating an “extraordinary mass ceremony” of reading the same things at the same moment.

    “An American will never meet, or even know the names of more than a handful of his 240,000,000–odd fellow Americans,” Anderson wrote. “He has no idea of what they are up to at any one time.” But with the knowledge that others are reading the same news, “he has complete confidence in their steady, anonymous, simultaneous activity.”

    Should the press be playing a role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together?

    Of course, national presses enabled more explicit efforts by the state itself to shape identity. After the US entered World War I, for instance, President Woodrow Wilson set out to make Americans more patriotic through his US Committee on Public Information. Its efforts included roping influential mainstream journalists into advocating American-style democracy by presenting US involvement in the war in a positive light, or simply by referring to Germans as “Huns.” The committee also monitored papers produced by minorities to make sure they supported the war effort not as Indians, Italians, or Greeks, but as Americans. Five Irish-American papers were banned, and the German-American press, reacting to negative stereotypes, encouraged readers to buy US bonds to support the war effort.

    The US media played an analogous role in selling the public on the 2003 invasion of Iraq. But ever since then, in the digital economy, its influence on the national consciousness has waned. Imagined Communities was published seven years before the fall of the Berlin Wall, twenty-two years before Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat, and a couple of decades before the internet upended print-capitalism as the world knew it (one of Anderson’s footnotes is telling, if quaint: “We still have no giant multinationals in the world of publishing”).

    Since Trump—a self-described nationalist—became a real contender for the US presidency, many news organizations have taken to looking inward: consider the running obsession with the president’s tweets, for instance, or the nonstop White House palace intrigue (which the president invites readily).

    Meanwhile, the unprofitability of local and regional papers has contributed to the erosion of civics, which, down the line, makes it easier for billionaires to opt out of old “imagined communities” and join new ones based on class and wealth, not citizenship. And given the challenges humanity faces—climate change, mass migration, corporate hegemony, and our relationships to new technologies—even if national papers did make everyone feel like they shared the same narrative, a renewed sense of national pride would prove impotent in fighting world-historic threats that know no borders.

    Should the press, then, be playing an analogous role in shaping not national identities, but transnational ones—a sense that we’re all in it together? If it was so important in shaping national identity, can it do so on a global scale?

    Like my passport-buying subjects, I am what Theresa May, the former British prime minister, might call a “citizen of nowhere.” I was born in one place to parents from another, grew up in a third, and have lived and traveled all over. That informs my perspective: I want deeply for there to be a truly cosmopolitan press corps, untethered from national allegiances, regional biases, class divisions, and the remnants of colonial exploitation. I know that’s utopian; the international working class is hardly a lucrative demographic against which publishers can sell ads. But we seem to be living in a time of considerable upheaval and opportunity. Just as the decline of religiously and imperially organized societies paved the way for national alternatives, then perhaps today there is a chance to transcend countries’ boundaries, too.

    Does the US media help create a sense of national identity? If nationalism means putting the interests of one nation—and what its citizens are interested in—before more universal concerns, then yes. Most journalists working for American papers, websites, and TV write in English with a national audience (or regional time zone) in mind, which affects how we pitch, source, frame, and illustrate a story—which, in turn, influences our readers, their country’s politics, and, down the line, the world. But a news peg isn’t an ideological form of nationalism so much as a practical or methodological one. The US press feeds off of more pernicious nationalisms, too: Donald Trump’s false theory about Barack Obama being “secretly” Kenyan, disseminated by the likes of Fox and The Daily Caller, comes to mind.

    That isn’t to say that global news outlets don’t exist in the US. When coaxing subscribers, the Financial Times, whose front page often includes references to a dozen different countries, openly appeals to their cosmopolitanism. “Be a global citizen. Become an FT Subscriber,” read a recent banner ad, alongside a collage featuring the American, Chinese, Japanese, Australian, and European Union flags (though stories like the recent “beginner’s guide to buying a private island” might tell us something about what kind of global citizen they’re appealing to).

    “I don’t think we try to shape anyone’s identity at all,” Gillian Tett, the paper’s managing editor for the US, says. “We recognize two things: that the world is more interconnected today than it’s ever been, and that these connections are complex and quite opaque. We think it’s critical to try to illuminate them.”

    For Tett, who has a PhD in social anthropology, money serves as a “neutral, technocratic” starting point through which to understand—and tie together—the world. “Most newspapers today tend to start with an interest in politics or events, and that inevitably leads you to succumb to tribalism, however hard you try [not to],” Tett explains. “If you look at the world through money—how is money going around the world, who’s making and losing it and why?—out of that you lead to political, cultural, foreign-policy stories.”

    Tett’s comments again brought to mind Imagined Communities: Anderson notes that, in 18th-century Caracas, newspapers “began essentially as appendages of the market,” providing commercial news about ships coming in, commodity prices, and colonial appointments, as well as a proto–Vows section for the upper crust to hate-read in their carriages. “The newspaper of Caracas quite naturally, and even apolitically, created an imagined community among a specific assemblage of fellow-readers, to whom these ships, brides, bishops, and prices belonged,” he wrote. “In time, of course, it was only to be expected that political elements would enter in.”

    Yesterday’s aristocracy is today’s passport-buying, globe-trotting one percent. The passport brokers I got to know also pitched clients with the very same promise of “global citizenship” (it sounds less louche than “buy a new passport”)—by taking out ads in the Financial Times. Theirs is exactly the kind of neoliberal “globalism” that nationalist politicians like Trump have won elections denouncing (often hypocritically) as wanting “the globe to do well, frankly, not caring about our country so much.” Isn’t upper-crust glibness about borders, boundaries, and the value of national citizenship part of what helped give us this reactionary nativism in the first place?

    “I suspect what’s been going on with Brexit and maybe Trump and other populist movements [is that] people. . . see ‘global’ as a threat to local communities and businesses rather than something to be welcomed,” Tett says. “But if you’re an FT reader, you see it as benign or descriptive.”

    Among the largest news organizations in the world is Reuters, with more than 3,000 journalists and photographers in 120 countries. It is part of Thomson Reuters, a truly global firm. Reuters does not take its mandate lightly: a friend who works there recently sent me a job posting for an editor in Gdynia, which, Google clarified for me, is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland.

    Reuters journalists cover everything from club sports to international tax evasion. They’re outsourcing quick hits about corporate earnings to Bangalore, assembling teams on multiple continents to tackle a big investigation, shedding or shuffling staff under corporate reorganizations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, “more than half our business is serving financial customers,” Stephen Adler, the editor in chief, tells me. “That has little to do with what country you’re from. It’s about information: a central-bank action in Europe or Japan may be just as important as everything else.”

    Institutionally, “it’s really important and useful that we don’t have one national HQ,” Adler adds. “That’s the difference between a global news organization and one with a foreign desk. For us, nothing is foreign.” That approach won Reuters this year’s international Pulitzer Prize for uncovering the mass murder of the Rohingya in Myanmar (two of the reporters were imprisoned as a result, and since freed); it also comes through especially sharply in daily financial stories: comprehensive, if dry, compendiums of who-what-where-when-why that recognize the global impact of national stories, and vice versa. A recent roundup of stock movements included references to the US Fed, China trade talks, Brexit, monetary policy around the world, and the price of gold.

    Adler has led the newsroom since 2011, and a lot has changed in the world. (I worked at Reuters between 2011 and 2013, first as Adler’s researcher and later as a reporter; Adler is the chair of CJR’s board.) Shortly after Trump’s election, Adler wrote a memo affirming the organization’s commitment to being fair, honest, and resourceful. He now feels more strongly than ever about judiciously avoiding biases—including national ones. “Our ideology and discipline around putting personal feelings and nationality aside has been really helpful, because when you think about how powerful local feelings are—revolutions, the Arab Spring—we want you writing objectively and dispassionately.”

    The delivery of stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter.

    Whether global stories can push communities to develop transnationally in a meaningful way is a harder question to answer; it seems to impugn our collective aptitude for reacting to problems of a global nature in a rational way. Reuters’s decision not to fetishize Trump hasn’t led to a drop-off in US coverage—its reporters have been especially strong on immigration and trade policy, not to mention the effects of the new administration on the global economy—but its stories aren’t exactly clickbait, which means ordinary Americans might not encounter them at the top of their feed. In other words, having a global perspective doesn’t necessarily translate to more eyeballs.

    What’s more, Reuters doesn’t solve the audience-class problem: whether readers are getting dispatches in partner newspapers like The New York Times or through the organization’s Eikon terminal, they tend to be the sort of person “who does transnational business, travels a good deal, is connected through work and media, has friends in different places, cares about what’s going on in different places,” Adler says. “That’s a pretty large cohort of people who have reason to care what’s going on in other places.”

    There are ways to unite readers without centering coverage on money or the markets. For a generation of readers around the world, the common ground is technology: the internet. “We didn’t pick our audience,” Ben Smith, the editor in chief of BuzzFeed, tells me over the phone. “Our audience picked us.” He defines his readers as a cohort aged 18–35 “who are on the internet and who broadly care about human rights, global politics, and feminism and gay rights in particular.”

    To serve them, BuzzFeed recently published a damning investigative report into the World Wildlife Fund’s arming of militias in natural reserves; a (not uncontroversial) series on Trump’s business dealings abroad; early exposés of China’s detention of Uighur citizens; and reports on child abuse in Australia. Climate—“the central challenge for every newsroom in the world”—has been harder to pin down. “We don’t feel anyone has cracked it. But the shift from abstract scientific [stories] to coverage of fires in California, it’s a huge change—it makes it more concrete,” Smith says. (My husband is a reporter for BuzzFeed.)

    The delivery of these stories in a casual, illustrated, highly readable form is in some ways more crucial to developing an audience than subject matter. “The global political financial elites have had a common language ever since it was French,” Smith says. “There is now a universal language of internet culture, [and] that. . . is how our stuff translates so well between cultures and audiences.” This isn’t a form of digital Esperanto, Smith insists; the point isn’t to flatten the differences between countries or regions so much as to serve as a “container” in which people from different regions, interest groups, and cultures can consume media through references they all understand.

    BuzzFeed might not be setting out to shape its readers’ identities (I certainly can’t claim to feel a special bond with other people who found out they were Phoebes from the quiz “Your Sushi Order Will Reveal Which ‘Friends’ Character You’re Most Like”). An audience defined by its youth and its media consumption habits can be difficult to keep up with: platforms come and go, and young people don’t stay young forever. But if Anderson’s thesis still carries water, there must be something to speaking this language across cultures, space, and time. Call it “Web vernacular.”

    In 2013, during one of the many recent and lengthy US government shutdowns, Joshua Keating, a journalist at Slate, began a series, “If It Happened There,” that imagined how the American media would view the shutdown if it were occurring in another country. “The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city,” Keating opens. “Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. . . .But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink.”

    It goes on; you get the idea. Keating’s series, which was inspired by his having to read “many, many headlines from around the world” while working at Foreign Policy, is a clever journalistic illustration of what sociologists call “methodological nationalism”: the bias that gets inadvertently baked into work and words. In the Middle East, it’s sectarian or ethnic strife; in the Midwest, it’s a trigger-happy cop and a kid in a hoodie.

    His send-ups hit a nerve. “It was huge—it was by far the most popular thing I’ve done at Slate,” Keating says. “I don’t think that it was a shocking realization to anyone that this kind of language can be a problem, but sometimes pointing it out can be helpful. If the series did anything, it made people stop and be conscious of how. . . our inherent biases and perspectives will inform how we cover the world.”

    Curiously, living under an openly nationalist administration has changed the way America—or at the very least, a significant part of the American press corps—sees itself. The press is a de facto opposition party, not because it tries to be, but because the administration paints it that way. And that gives reporters the experience of working in a place much more hostile than the US without setting foot outside the country.

    Keating has “semi-retired” the series as a result of the broad awareness among American reporters that it is, in fact, happening here. “It didn’t feel too novel to say [Trump was] acting like a foreign dictator,” he says. “That was what the real news coverage was doing.”

    Keating, who traveled to Somaliland, Kurdistan, and Abkhazia to report his book Invisible Countries (2018), still thinks the fastest and most effective way to form an international perspective is to live abroad. At the same time, not being bound to a strong national identity “can make it hard to understand particular concerns of the people you’re writing about,” he says. It might be obvious, but there is no one perfect way to be internationally minded.

    Alan Rusbridger—the former editor of The Guardian who oversaw the paper’s Edward Snowden coverage and is now the principal at Lady Margaret Hall, a college at Oxford University—recognizes the journalistic and even moral merits of approaching news in a non-national way: “I think of journalism as a public service, and I do think there’s a link between journalism at its best and the betterment of individual lives and societies,” he says. But he doesn’t have an easy formula for how to do that, because truly cosmopolitan journalism requires both top-down editorial philosophies—not using certain phrasings or framings that position foreigners as “others”—and bottom-up efforts by individual writers to read widely and be continuously aware of how their work might be read by people thousands of miles away.

    Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network, but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases.

    Rusbridger sees potential in collaborations across newsrooms, countries, and continents. Yes, the starting point is a nationally defined press, not a decentralized network; but working jointly helps pool scarce resources and challenge national or local biases. It also wields power. “One of the reasons we reported Snowden with the Times in New York was to use global protections of human rights and free speech and be able to appeal to a global audience of readers and lawyers,” Rusbridger recalls. “We thought, ‘We’re pretty sure nation-states will come at us over this, and the only way to do it is harness ourselves to the US First Amendment not available to us anywhere else.’”

    In employing these tactics, the press positions itself in opposition to the nation-state. The same strategy could be seen behind the rollout of the Panama and Paradise Papers (not to mention the aggressive tax dodging detailed therein). “I think journalists and activists and citizens on the progressive wing of politics are thinking creatively about how global forces can work to their advantage,” Rusbridger says.

    But he thinks it all starts locally, with correspondents who have fluency in the language, culture, and politics of the places they cover, people who are members of the communities they write about. That isn’t a traditional foreign-correspondent experience (nor indeed that of UN employees, NGO workers, or other expats). The silver lining of publishing companies’ shrinking budgets might be that cost cutting pushes newsrooms to draw from local talent, rather than send established writers around. What you gain—a cosmopolitanism that works from the bottom up—can help dispel accusations of media elitism. That’s the first step to creating new imagined communities.

    Anderson’s work has inspired many an academic, but media executives? Not so much. Rob Wijnberg is an exception: he founded the (now beleaguered) Correspondent in the Netherlands in 2013 with Anderson’s ideas in mind. In fact, when we speak, he brings the name up unprompted.

    “You have to transcend this notion that you can understand the world through the national point of view,” he says. “The question is, What replacement do we have for it? Simply saying we have to transcend borders or have an international view isn’t enough, because you have to replace the imagined community you’re leaving behind with another one.”

    For Wijnberg, who was a philosophy student before he became a journalist, this meant radically reinventing the very structures of the news business: avoiding covering “current events” just because they happened, and thinking instead of what we might call eventful currents—the political, social, and economic developments that affect us all. It meant decoupling reporting from national news cycles, and getting readers to become paying “members” instead of relying on advertisements.

    This, he hoped, would help create a readership not based on wealth, class, nationality, or location, but on borderless, universal concerns. “We try to see our members. . . as part of a group or knowledge community, where the thing they share is the knowledge they have about a specific structural subject matter,” be it climate, inequality, or migration, Wijnberg says. “I think democracy and politics answers more to media than the other way around, so if you change the way media covers the world you change a lot.”

    That approach worked well in the Netherlands: his team raised 1.7 million euros in 2013, and grew to include 60,000 members. A few years later, Wijnberg and his colleagues decided to expand into the US, and with the help of NYU’s Jay Rosen, an early supporter, they made it onto Trevor Noah’s Daily Show to pitch their idea.

    The Correspondent raised more than $2.5 million from nearly 50,000 members—a great success, by any measure. But in March, things started to get hairy, with the publication abruptly pulling the plug on opening a US newsroom and announcing that staff would edit stories reported from the US from the original Amsterdam office instead. Many of the reasons behind this are mundane: visas, high rent, relocation costs. And reporters would still be reporting from, and on, the States. But supporters felt blindsided, calling the operation a scam.

    Today, Wijnberg reflects that he should have controlled the messaging better, and not promised to hire and operate from New York until he was certain that he could. He also wonders why it matters.

    “It’s not saying people who think it matters are wrong,” he explains. “But if the whole idea of this kind of geography and why it’s there is a construct, and you’re trying to think about transcending it, the very notion of Where are you based? is secondary. The whole point is not to be based anywhere.”

    Still: “The view from everywhere—the natural opposite—is just as real,” Wijnberg concedes. “You can’t be everywhere. You have to be somewhere.”

    And that’s the rub: for all of nationalism’s ills, it does instill in its subjects what Anderson calls a “deep, horizontal comradeship” that, while imagined, blossoms thanks to a confluence of forces. It can’t be replicated supranationally overnight. The challenge for a cosmopolitan journalism, then, is to dream up new forms of belonging that look forward, not backward—without discarding the imagined communities we have.

    That’s hard; so hard that it more frequently provokes a retrenchment, not an expansion, of solidarity. But it’s not impossible. And our collective futures almost certainly depend on it.

    https://www.cjr.org/special_report/view-from-nowhere.php
    #journalisme #nationalisme #Etat-nation #communauté_nationale #communauté_internationale #frontières #presse #médias

  • The Tiananmen Square massacre, 30 years on - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/06/08/tian-j08.html

    By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2019 - Thirty years have passed since heavily-armed Chinese troops, backed by tanks, moved through the suburbs of Beijing on the night of June 3–4, 1989, killing hundreds, probably thousands, of unarmed civilians. The military forces overwhelmed makeshift barricades with brute force as they made their way to Tiananmen Square—the site of weeks of mass protests by students and workers.

    Those barbaric events, which demonstrated the willingness of the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime to do anything to stay in power, have gone down in history as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yet most of deaths during that murderous assault were of workers who courageously tried to halt the progress of troops to central Beijing. Estimates vary, but up to 7,000 were killed and 20,000 wounded.

    Moreover, in the reign of terror that followed throughout China it was the workers who received the harshest penalties, including lengthy jail terms and death sentences. Around 40,000 people were arrested just in June and July, mostly members of Workers Autonomous Federations that had sprung up in the course of the protests.
    Protesters in Tiananmen Square

    What is commonly depicted as the crushing of student protesters was in fact a wave of repression directed overwhelmingly against a mass movement of the working class. What had begun in April as student protests calling for democratic reforms had swelled into the millions as workers joined the demonstrations by mid-May, making their own class demands.

    The Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation was established on April 20 with a handful of workers and rapidly expanded to become a major organising centre by mid-May. On May 17, up to two million people marched through the centre of Beijing, the majority being workers and their families under the banners of their work units or enterprises. Reflecting the impact of events in Beijing, Workers Autonomous Federations were established in a host of major cities, including Changsha, Shaoyang, Xiangtan, Hengyang and Yueyang.

    While moderate student leaders were intent on pressing the CCP bureaucracy for concessions on democratic rights, workers were animated by concerns over deteriorating living standards, soaring inflation and a wave of sackings and closures. The regime’s embrace of the capitalist market since the 1970s had led to widening social inequality and rampant bureaucratic corruption and profiteering. Workers were bitterly hostile to the accumulation of privileges and wealth by the top CCP leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, Zhao Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Chen Yun and their family members, and were contemptuous of their claims to be communist and socialist.

    A statement by workers issued on May 25 expressed the rebellious currents in the working class. “Our nation was created by the struggle and labour of we workers and all other mental and manual labourers. We are the rightful masters of this nation. We must be heard in national affairs. We must not allow this small band of degenerate scum of the nation and the working class to usurp our name and suppress the students, murder democracy and trample human rights.” [1]

    Premier Zhao Ziyang had been sympathetic to the demands of student leaders and had counselled making small concessions to calls for basic democratic rights. However, no compromise was possible with the working class, whose unrest threatened the very existence of the regime. As the protest movement rapidly grew in size and confidence, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping removed his ally Zhao as premier, installed hardline Li Peng in his place and ordered the military to violently suppress the protests in Beijing and nationally.
    The crisis of Stalinism

    The resort to such extreme measures was bound up with the profound crisis of Stalinism, not only in China but internationally. In response to deepening economic and social crises, a turn was underway in China, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union toward the dismantling of centralised bureaucratic planning mechanisms, encouragement of private enterprise and establishment of market mechanisms.

    After assuming the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced his keynote policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness and transparency) that laid the framework for greater autonomy for enterprises outside the central planning mechanisms and, under the guise of democratic reform, sought to establish a base of social support for the regime among the petty bourgeoisie.

    Gorbachev’s pro-market restructuring also encouraged the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in their plans for capitalist restoration, making desperate bids to resolve their mounting economic and political crises. These processes dramatically accelerated as Gorbachev signaled that the Soviet Union would not intervene militarily to prop up its Soviet bloc allies, as it had done in Hungary in 1956 to crush the workers’ uprising and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to end liberal reforms. In December 1987, he announced the withdrawal of 500,000 Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.

    In a very short period of time, during 1989–90, the Stalinist bureaucracies in one Eastern European country after another moved to restore capitalism, dismantling what remained of nationalised property relations and centralised planning.

    In Poland, talks between the government and opposition Solidarity leaders resulted in a deal in April 1989 to hold limited elections. This paved the way for the installation in August of Solidarity leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister. He unleashed sweeping pro-market restructuring.

    Similar negotiations in Hungary, where the processes of pro-market restructuring were already advanced, led to a new constitution in August 1989. Multi-party elections in May 1990 resulted in a government that junked what remained of centralised planning and carried out wholesale privatisation.

    Amid a mounting economic and political crisis, Gorbachev visited Berlin in October 1989 to urge the East German government to accelerate pro-market reforms. Erich Honecker resigned as leader two weeks later. On November 9, the government announced the end of all border restrictions and Berlin citizens tore down the hated Berlin Wall. Before the end of the month, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unveiled a plan to integrate East Germany with capitalist West Germany—a process that was completed by October 1990.

    The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria quickly followed. By the end of 1990, governments throughout Eastern Europe were giving full rein to the plunder of state-owned property, an influx of foreign capital and the dismantling of social services, leading to a precipitous deterioration in living standards.

    Gorbachev’s policies in the Soviet Union gave rise to intense pressures within the Stalinist bureaucracy and the emerging layer of entrepreneurs for a far speedier dismantling of all fetters on private ownership and market relations. This found expression in the installation of Boris Yeltsin in July 1991 and the implementation of pro-market “shock therapy.” In December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved.

    The break-up of the Soviet Union and collapse of the Stalinist states in Eastern Europe led to an orgy of triumphalism in the capitalist media proclaiming the end of socialism. Pundits, politicians and academics, who had foreseen nothing and could explain nothing, exulted over the triumph of the market, even going so far as to pronounce the end of history. In other words, capitalism supposedly represented the highest and final stage of human development. A new period of peace, prosperity and democracy would dawn, they all declared.

    The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), based on the analysis made by Leon Trotsky of Stalinism, had rejected the universal adulation of Gorbachev and warned that his policies were rapidly leading to the dismantling of the gains of the first workers’ state. Its perspectives resolution entitled “The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International,” published in August 1988, made clear that the breakdown of the Soviet Union was not a product of socialism, but rather of Stalinism and its reactionary autarchic conception of “socialism in one country”:

    The very real crisis of the Soviet economy is rooted in its enforced isolation from the resources of the world market and the international division of labour. There are only two ways this crisis can be tackled. The way proposed by Gorbachev involves the dismantling of state industry, the renunciation of the planning principle, and the abandonment of the state monopoly on foreign trade, i.e., the reintegration of the Soviet Union into the structure of world capitalism. The alternative to this reactionary solution requires the smashing of imperialism’s domination over the world economy by linking up the Soviet and international working class in a revolutionary offensive aimed at extending the planned economy into the European, North American and Asian citadels of capitalism. [2]

    In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ICFI identified the root cause of the crisis of Stalinism in the processes of the globalisation of production that had been underway since the late 1970s, which had undermined all programs based on national economic regulation. While the crisis of Stalinism was the most immediate and acute expression, these same processes lay behind the international embrace of pro-market restructuring by Social Democratic and Labour parties, and trade unions, and their abandonment of any defence of the social rights of the working class.
    Capitalist restoration in China

    The events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had a profound impact in China, where processes of capitalist restoration had been underway since the 1970s. The CCP’s decision in June 1989 to use the military to brutally suppress the working class was in no small measure conditioned by its longstanding fear of a repetition in China of the mass strike movement in Poland in 1980–81 that led to the formation of the Solidarity trade union.

    China specialist Maurice Meisner explained that the involvement of masses of workers in the protests in Tiananmen Square on May 17 “did much to rekindle the ‘Polish fear’ among Party leaders, their decade-old obsession about the rise of a Solidarity-type alliance between workers and intellectuals in opposition to the Communist state. And that fear, in turn, contributed to their fateful decision to impose martial law.” [3]

    While Deng Xiaoping recognised the affinity of Gorbachev’s perestroika with the policies that he had already enacted, he did not embrace the political liberalisation of glasnost, fearing it would undermine the foundations of the CCP regime. When Gorbachev visited Beijing in mid-May 1989 to cement closer Sino-Soviet ties, the Chinese leadership kept him closeted from public view, anxious that his presence would give further impetus to the protests in Tiananmen Square. The rapid collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe only heightened the determination of the CCP bureaucracy to suppress any opposition.

    The roots of the crisis in China lay in the outcome of the 1949 Chinese revolution. The monumental events that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power ended more than a century of imperialist oppression that had mired the country of more than 500 million in squalor and backwardness. It expressed the aspirations of the vast majority of the population for economic security, basic democratic and social rights, and a decent standard of living. Decades of political upheaval and a war against Japanese imperialism from 1937 to 1945 had ravaged the country and left an estimated 14 million Chinese soldiers and civilians dead.

    Like the Soviet bureaucracy, however, the new CCP apparatus was based on the reactionary nationalist program of “socialism in one country,” which was a repudiation of socialist internationalism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution which underpinned the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.

    As a result, the course of the revolution and the subsequent evolution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) proclaimed by Mao Zedong in 1949 was distorted and deformed by Stalinism, which dominated the CCP in the wake of Stalin’s betrayal of the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925–27. Stalin subordinated the very young CCP to the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang, resulting in crushing blows to the Chinese Communists and working class in April 1927, and again in May 1927. CCP leaders and members who supported Trotsky’s analysis of the tragedy were expelled.

    In the wake of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the pragmatic, nationalist ideology of Maoism led China rapidly into a blind alley. Mao’s perspective of a “New Democracy” sought to maintain a bloc with the national bourgeoisie, but the CCP government was driven, under conditions of the Korean War and the internal sabotage by bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, to go further than intended. By 1956, virtually every aspect of the economy was nationalised and subject to bureaucratic planning along the lines of the Soviet Union, but the working class had no say through its own democratic organs.

    The organic hostility of the Maoist regime to the working class was expressed in its repression of Chinese Trotskyists, all of whom were jailed in 1952 amid the rising resistance by workers. As with the Eastern European states, the Fourth International characterised China as a deformed workers’ state, a highly conditional formula that placed the emphasis on the deformed, bureaucratic character of the regime.

    The national autarky of “socialism in one country” generated worsening economic and social turmoil, and crises for which the CCP bureaucracy had no solution, leading to bitter internal factional warfare. Mao’s fanciful scheme for a peasant socialist society, which underpinned his “Great Leap Forward,” ended in economic catastrophe and mass starvation. His factional opponents, led by Liu Shaoqi, followed the Soviet model of bureaucratic planning with its emphasis on heavy industry, but this provided no alternative.

    The economic crisis was greatly worsened by the 1961–63 split with the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Soviet aid and advisers, as the two Stalinist regimes advanced their conflicting national interests. In a last desperate bid to oust his rivals, Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1966, which rapidly span out of his control, leading to confused and convulsive social struggles that threatened the very existence of the regime. Mao turned to the military to suppress workers who had taken literally his edict to “Bombard the Headquarters,” resulting in mass strikes in Shanghai and the formation of an independent Shanghai People’s Commune in 1967.

    Incapable of resolving the immense economic and social problems wracking the country, and facing a military confrontation with the Soviet Union, the CCP bureaucracy forged an anti-Soviet alliance with US imperialism that laid the basis for China’s integration into global capitalism. While Deng Xiaoping is generally credited with initiating market reforms, Mao’s rapprochement with US President Richard Nixon in 1972 was the essential political and diplomatic pre-condition for foreign investment and increased trade with the West.

    The process of “opening and reform” went hand-in-hand with the imposition of strict discipline and emphasis on boosting production in workplaces. Maurice Meissner noted: “Factory managers dismissed during the Cultural Revolution were restored to their former posts, accompanied by calls to strengthen managerial authority, labour discipline, and factory rules and regulations—and to struggle against ‘anarchism’ and ‘ultra-leftism.’ There were dramatic increases in foreign trade and in imports of foreign technology. Veteran party leaders attacked during the Cultural Revolution were ‘rehabilitated’ at an increasingly rapid pace; by 1973, it has been noted, ‘the pre-Cultural Revolution cadres were running the government ministries.” [4]

    From 1969 to 1975, the value of foreign trade increased from $US4 billion to $14 billion per annum. From the end of 1972 until mid-1975, China imported whole industrial plants, valued at $2.8 billion, mainly from Japan and western Europe.

    Deng Xiaoping who had been ostracised during the Cultural Revolution as the “No 2 capitalist roader,” was rehabilitated, appointed a vice premier of the state council under Zhou Enlai. Deng led the Chinese delegation to a special session of the UN in 1974 where he declared that the “socialist bloc” no longer existed and China was part of the Third World. In the factional power struggle that followed Mao’s death in 1976, Deng emerged as the dominant figure in the Stalinist bureaucracy. He embraced US imperialism ever more closely, formalising diplomatic relations in 1979, launching a border war against neighbouring Vietnam, and defending US allies such as the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    From 1978, Deng greatly accelerated the “reform and opening” pro-market reforms. Four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were established in 1979 in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, where foreign entrepreneurs and joint ventures produced goods for export and enjoyed tax breaks and other concessions. A similar system was later implemented in key port cities such as Shanghai. In the countryside, the collectivised communes were dismantled and restrictions removed on the operation of private enterprises. Prices for agricultural produce were lifted. In the cities, moves were made to transform thousands of state-owned enterprises into profit-making corporations. Private enterprises were permitted, the market was increasingly allowed to determine prices for consumer goods, and a “labour market” was initiated, allowing the hiring and firing of workers.

    The pro-market reforms led to the rapid rise of social inequality. Millions of former peasants were left landless and forced to seek employment in the cities. In the SEZs, where the capitalist market was given free rein, corruption and criminal activity was rampant, including smuggling, bribery and the theft of state-owned property. The sons and daughters of the top party leaders took full advantage of their political connections to establish their own business empires. With the lifting of price restrictions, inflation rocketed to 18.5 percent in 1988, to which the regime responded by drastically reducing credit and re-imposing import restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs, as private enterprises reduced their workforces or closed down altogether. Unemployment, the loss of job security, as well as skyrocketing prices, combined with disgust at the corruption and enrichment of CCP bureaucrats, fueled the social unrest that erupted in the mass protests by workers the following year.
    Capitalist restoration following Tiananmen Square

    In the aftermath of the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the police dragnet throughout the country, the factional battle inside the CCP leadership sharpened in the next three years over Deng’s program of capitalist restoration. In ordering the troops against workers and students, Deng had removed his chief ally in pro-market restructuring, Zhao Ziyang, as premier. Former Shanghai party leader Jiang Zemin was installed as a compromise choice to the top post of CCP secretary general. The initiative shifted to the so-called hardliners—Li Peng and Chen Yun, who, in criticising Zhao, were also criticising Deng’s policies.

    However, in advocating restrictions on market relations, Li and Chen based their policies on the status quo ante and the nationalist perspective of “socialism in country,” which had already proven to be a dead-end. They were looking toward the Soviet Union, even as the deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe were collapsing and Gorbachev’s policies were undermining centralised planning and nationalised property relations. Their so-called “Soviet faction” represented sections of the Chinese bureaucracy whose power and privileges resided in their control of key sections of state-owned industry and the central apparatus in Beijing.

    At the Fifth Plenum in November 1989, Li delivered the main report, based on the recommendations of a revived State Planning Commission. The adopted plan called for cutting inflation to 10 percent in 1990 and economic growth to 5 percent by maintaining tight controls on credit and balancing the national budget. Rural industries would not be allowed to compete with state-owned enterprises. While keeping the SEZs and “open door” policy in place, the new restrictions hit rural and provincial industries, particularly in the south of the country.

    While Deng no longer held any official party or state position, he still retained considerable political clout, especially in the southern provinces where the new profit-making industries were concentrated. Deng had sided with the hardliners in opposing any political liberalisation and, above all, supported the 1989 military crackdown, but he was adamant that the restrictions on private enterprises and foreign investment had to be completely dismantled.

    The snowballing crisis in the Soviet Union brought matters to a head. An attempted Stalinist putsch in August 1991 to oust Gorbachev and Yeltsin and wind back their program of pro-market restructuring ended in dismal failure. China scholar Michael Marti explained: “This one event changed the thinking about the political equation within the Chinese leadership, including that of Deng Xiaoping. The failure of the Soviet Red Army to support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in its bid to regain control threw the CCP into a panic. The Chinese leadership feared that a precedent had been established.” [5]

    The factional battle lines were drawn. While the “Soviet faction” began to call into question the entire agenda of pro-market reforms, including the establishment of the SEZs, Deng insisted that the levels of economic growth were too low to maintain employment and social stability. “If the economy cannot be boosted over a long time,” he told a meeting of party elders as far back as late 1989, “it [the government] will lose people’s support at home and will be oppressed and bullied by other nations. The continuation of this situation will lead to the collapse of the Communist Party.” [6]

    Deng was also concerned that the crisis in the Soviet Union, following the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, would greatly change geo-political relations. Not only had Deng’s strategy sought to balance between the US and the Soviet Union, but his economic policies depended on a large influx of foreign investment, which could potentially shift to exploiting new opportunities opening up in the former Soviet republics.

    Along with provincial leaders in the southern provinces, Deng counted on the support of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The generals had been shocked by the way in which US imperialism and its allies had deployed hi-tech weaponry in the 1990–91 Gulf War to rapidly destroy the Iraqi military. Their conclusion was that China had to invest heavily in modernising the PLA and only Deng’s policies could transform the economy and produce the growth needed to supply that investment.

    Deng set out on his “Southern tour” in January–February 1992, just 20 days after the formal liquidation of the Soviet Union in December 1991, accompanied by top generals, the state security chief Qiao Shi and party elder Bo Yibo. As he visited the SEZs and southern cities, he declared that there would be no reversal of economic policies in the face of the Soviet collapse. Dismissing concerns about growing social inequality, he is said to have declared: “Let some people get rich first.”

    In a showdown with Chen Yun in Shanghai, Deng reportedly shouted: “Any leader who cannot boost the economy should leave office.” Openly backing capitalist restoration, he declared: “We should absorb more foreign capital and more foreign-advanced experiences and technologies, and set up more foreign-invested enterprises. Do not fear when others say we are practicing capitalism. Capitalism in nothing fearsome.” [7]

    Deng prevailed, opening the door for wholesale capitalist restoration that transformed the whole country into a giant free trade zone for the exploitation of cheap Chinese labour. The crocodile tears shed by Western politicians over the Tiananmen Square massacre were rapidly cast aside as foreign investors recognised that the police-state regime in Beijing was willing to use any method, no matter how brutal, to discipline the working class. In 1993, the CCP proclaimed that its objective was a “socialist market economy,” giving a threadbare “socialist” disguise to its embrace of capitalism.

    In 1994, the CCP formally established a “labour market,” by legitimising the sale and purchase of labour power. State-owned enterprises were corporatised into companies run for profit. The unprofitable ones were restructured or shut down. The better equipped, in sectors not designated as strategic, were sold off or converted into subsidiaries of foreign transnationals. A small number were preserved as state-owned “national flagships.”

    Between 1996 and 2005, the number of employees in state- and collective-owned enterprises halved, from 144 million to 73 million workers. Along with guaranteed life-time employment, the “iron rice bowl” of cradle-to-grave services was also dismantled. Essential services that had previously been provided by state-owned enterprises—childcare, education, health care and pensions—were now left to individual workers.
    Chinese capitalism today

    The restoration of capitalism in China over the past 30 years has only exacerbated the underlying social tensions within Chinese society and compounded the political and geo-political dilemmas confronting the CCP apparatus.

    The extraordinary economic expansion of China to become the world’s second largest economy has rested, in the first place, on the immense gains of the 1949 Revolution that unified China for the first time in decades, created an educated and skilled workforce, and developed basic industries and essential infrastructure. The flood of foreign investment into the country transformed China into the sweatshop of the world and produced a massive 11-fold increase in the economy between 1992 and 2010. This rapid growth, however, did not reflect an inherent strength of the Chinese economy, but rather its role in the world economy, dependent on foreign investment and technology.

    The imperialist powers, above all the United States, were more than willing to exploit cheap Chinese labour as long as China’s economic expansion did not challenge their own established geo-political interests. However, the vast quantity of raw materials and energy that Chinese industries require from around the world have increasingly brought it into conflict with the US and other major powers, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and internationally. Moreover, as China has sought to create its own hi-tech “national champions” such as Huawei and ZTE, the US, under the Trump administration, has declared economic war on Beijing, not just in matters of trade. It has openly opposed Chinese plans to develop and expand hi-tech industries and to more closely link Eurasia to China through massive infrastructure projects under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    The delusion promoted by CCP leaders that China could, through a “peaceful rise,” become a world power on a parity with the US has been shattered. China’s expansion has brought it into conflict with the global imperialist order dominated by the United States. Under Obama and now Trump, the US has begun using all means at its disposal to ensure its continued global hegemony. Trump’s economic war goes hand-in-hand with a military build-up in the Indo-Pacific, escalating naval provocations in the South China Sea, under the guise of “freedom of navigation operations, and more open preparations for a war between the two nuclear-armed powers.

    The CCP leadership has no answer to the mounting danger of war, other than desperately seeking an accommodation with imperialism, while engaging in a frenetic arms race that can only end in catastrophe for the working class in China and internationally. Capitalist restoration, far from strengthening China’s capacity to counter the US, has greatly weakened it. The regime is organically incapable of making any appeal to the international working class, as that would inevitably lead to social struggles by the working class at home.

    Having abandoned even its previous nominal commitment to socialism and internationalism, the CCP has increasing relied on whipping up Chinese nationalism to try to create a social base in layers of the middle class. There is nothing progressive about Chinese chauvinism and patriotism, which divides Chinese workers from their class brothers and sisters internationally, and within China from non-Han Chinese minorities. Its repressive measures against Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic groups have provided an opening that the US is seeking to exploit. Under the bogus banner of “human rights,” Washington is promoting separatist groups as part of its ambition to fracture and subordinate China to its interests.

    Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP leadership is terrified of a renewal of working-class opposition, the first stirrings of which have been seen in the more numerous reports of workers’ strikes and protests, and, significantly over the past year, in a turn by a layer of university students to assist workers in their struggles. Since 1989, the working class in China has vastly expanded to an estimated 400 million and as a proportion of the population. One indicator is the growth of the country’s urban population from just 26.4 percent of the total in 1990, to 58.5 percent in 2017.

    The CCP leadership boasts of having lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, using the UN’s very austere measures of poverty. Such benchmarks ignore the many factors that are fueling discontent among workers, including the common practice of late or unpaid wages, unhealthy and dangerous factory conditions, harsh corporate disciplinary practices, and the lack of basic social rights for tens of millions of internal migrants in the cities. All of these oppressive conditions are monitored and policed by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which functions as an arm of the CCP bureaucracy in workplaces.

    Capitalist restoration has produced a dramatic rise in social inequality: from one of the most equal societies in the world, China has become one of the most unequal countries. It is home to more dollar billionaires than any other country except the United States. While Chinese workers struggle to survive on the minimum wage of $370 a month, the wealthiest individual, Tencent chairman Pony Ma, has a personal fortune of almost $40 billion. These super-rich oligarchs, who in many cases have built their fortunes through naked corruption and the looting of state-owned property, are represented in the Chinese Communist Party and sit on powerful advisory bodies.

    The gulf between the super-rich and the vast majority of the workers and the poor is generating huge social tensions that, sooner rather than later, will explode on a scale that will eclipse the rebellion by workers and students 30 years ago. The lesson drawn by the Stalinist leadership from the 1989 events was that it had to suppress, through all available means, any expression of opposition that could become the focus of a broader movement against the regime. Incapable of meeting the pressing social needs of the majority of the population, the CCP has vastly expanded its police-state apparatus, now spending more each year on its internal security forces than it does on external defence.

    The working class must also draw the necessary political lessons from the defeat of that movement in 1989, which was rapidly assuming revolutionary dimensions. What was lacking was not determination, audacity and courage, nor numbers, which were rapidly swelling across China, but the essential problem facing the international working class in the 20th century—the absence of revolutionary leadership.

    James Cogan summed up the issue in his analysis “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre,” stating:

    Inexperienced politically and lacking a political perspective outside of opposition to the existing regime, the workers’ leaders advanced no alternative to, and deferred to, the student bodies. The workers of China knew in their life experience what they were against—Stalinism and capitalism—but they were not able to articulate any perspective for an alternative social order.

    Decades of domination by Stalinism and the active suppression of genuine Marxism in China meant there was no revolutionary socialist, that is, Trotskyist, tendency in the working class. No organisation within the country could spontaneously advance the program that was implicit in the actions and sentiments of the Chinese working class—a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist regime and introduce major reforms into the economy for the benefit of the working class. [8]

    The essential political task of building a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International remains. None of the oppositional tendencies that emerged out of the 1989 protests offer a viable political perspective for the working class. Advocates of independent trade unions such as Han Dongfang, who was prominent in the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation in 1989, have underscored the political bankruptcy of syndicalism by lurching to the right and into the arms of US trade union apparatus, in other words of US imperialism.

    A layer of youth, intellectuals and workers have turned to Maoism, and its banal “revolutionary” slogans, for answers. Capitalist restoration in China, however, was not a break from Maoism. It flowed organically out of the dead-end of “socialism in one country.” Maoism could aptly be termed Stalinism with Chinese characteristics, with its hostility to the working class, its emphasis on subjective will, and above all its putrid nationalism. It is diametrically opposed to genuine Marxism, that is the perspective of socialist internationalism, which alone was upheld by the Trotskyist movement, including the Chinese Trotskyists.

    The establishment of a genuinely revolutionary party in China, as part of the ICFI, requires the assimilation of the essential strategic experiences of the international working class, of which the Chinese revolutions of the 20th century are a critical component. The CCP leaders are petrified that workers and youth will begin to work over the lessons of history. They attempt to censor and black out any knowledge and discussion of the events of 1989, and continue to perpetrate the lies of Stalinism about the course of the 20th century.

    The crucial political lessons of the protracted struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism are embedded in the program, perspective and documents of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Workers and youth should make a serious study of the political issues involved, beginning with the documents of the ICFI on the Tiananmen Square massacre, republished this week on the World Socialist Web Site. We urge you to contact the International Committee of the Fourth International, which is the first step toward forging a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class.

    Footnotes:

    [1] Cited in “Workers in the Tiananmen protests: The politics of the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation,” by Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia, first published in the Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No 29, January 1993.

    [2] The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International: Perspectives Resolution of the International Committee of the Fourth International, August 1988, Labor Publications, pp.30–31.

    [3] Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press, Third edition, 1999, p.508.

    [4] ibid, p.389.

    [5] Michael Marti, China and the Legacy of Deng Xiaoping: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution, Brassey’s Inc, 2002, pp.47–48.

    [6] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 1”, 26 November 2012.

    [7] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 2”, 27 November 2012.

    [8] James Cogan, “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre: Political lessons for the working class,” 4 June 1999.

    #Chine #4689

  • The New York Times and its Uyghur “activist” - World Socialist Web Site
    https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2019/05/09/uygh-m09.html

    9 May 2019 - The New York Times has furnished a case study of the way in which it functions as the conduit for the utterly hypocritical “human rights” campaigns fashioned by the CIA and the State Department to prosecute the predatory interests of US imperialism.

    While turning a blind eye to the gross abuses of democratic rights by allies such as Saudi Arabia, the US has brazenly used “human rights” for decades as the pretext for wars, diplomatic intrigues and regime-change. The media is completely integrated into these operations.

    Another “human rights” campaign is now underway. The New York Times is part of the mounting chorus of condemnation of China over its treatment of the Turkic-speaking, Muslim Uyghur minority in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.

    In an article on May 4 entitled “In push for trade deal, Trump administration shelves sanctions over China’s crackdown on Uyghurs,” the New York Times joined in criticism of the White House, particularly by the Democrats, for failing to impose punitive measures on Beijing.

    The strident denunciations of China involve unsubstantiated allegations that it is detaining millions of Uyghurs without charge or trial in what Beijing terms vocational training camps.

    The New York Times reported, without qualification, the lurid claims of US officials, such as Assistant Secretary of Defence Randall Schriver, who last Friday condemned “the mass imprisonment of Chinese Muslims in concentration camps” and boosted the commonly cited figure of up to a million to “up to three million” in detention. No evidence has been presented for either claim.

    The repression of the Uyghurs is completely bound up with the far broader oppression of the working class by the Chinese capitalist elites and the Chinese Communist Party regime that defends their interests. The US campaign on the Uyghurs, however, has nothing to do with securing the democratic rights of workers, but is aimed at stirring up reactionary separatist sentiment.

    The US has longstanding ties to right-wing separatist organisations based on Chinese minorities—Tibetans as well as the Uyghurs—that it helped create, fund and in some cases arm. As the US, first under President Obama and now Trump, has escalated its diplomatic, economic and military confrontation with China, the “human rights” of Uyghurs has been increasingly brought to the fore.

    Washington’s aim, at the very least, is to foment separatist opposition in Xinjiang, which is a crucial source of Chinese energy and raw materials as well as being pivotal to its key Belt and Road Initiative to integrate China more closely with Eurasia. Such unrest would not only weaken China but could lead to a bloody war and the fracturing of the country. Uyghur separatists, who trained in the US network of Islamist terrorist groups in Syria, openly told Radio Free Asia last year of their intention to return to China to wage an armed insurgency.

    The New York Times is completely in tune with the aims behind these intrigues—a fact that is confirmed by its promotion of Uyghur “activist” Rushan Abbas.

    Last weekend’s article highlighted Abbas as the organiser of a tiny demonstration in Washington to “pressure Treasury Department officials to take action against Chinese officials involved in the Xinjiang abuses.” She told the newspaper that the Uyghur issue should be included as part of the current US-China trade talks, and declared: “They are facing indoctrination, brainwashing and the elimination of their values as Muslims.”

    An article “Uyghur Americans speak against China’s internment camps” on October 18 last year cited her remarks at the right-wing think tank, the Hudson Institute, where she “spoke out” about the detention of her aunt and sister. As reported in the article: “I hope the Chinese ambassador here reads this,” she said, wiping away tears. “I will not stop. I will be everywhere and speak on this at every event from now on.”

    Presented with a tearful woman speaking about her family members, very few readers would have the slightest inkling of Abbas’s background, about which the New York Times quite deliberately says nothing. Abbas is a highly connected political operator with long standing ties to the Pentagon, the State Department and US intelligence agencies at the highest level as well as top Republican Party politicians. She is a key figure in the Uyghur organisations that the US has supported and funded.

    Currently, Abbas is Director of Business Development in ISI Consultants, which offers to assist “US companies to grow their businesses in Middle East and African markets.” Her credentials, according to the company website, include “over 15 years of experience in global business development, strategic business analysis, business consultancy and government affairs throughout the Middle East, Africa, CIS regions, Europe, Asia, Australia, North America and Latin America.”

    The website also notes: “She also has extensive experience working with US government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, and various US intelligence agencies.” As “an active campaigner for human rights,” she “works closely with members of the US Senate, Congressional Committees, the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the US Department of State and several other US government departments and agencies.”

    This brief summary makes clear that Abbas is well connected in the highest levels of the state apparatus and in political circles. It also underscores the very close ties between the Uyghur organisations, in which she and her family members are prominent, and the US intelligence and security agencies.

    A more extensive article and interview with Abbas appeared in the May 2019 edition of the magazine Bitter Winter, which is published by the Italian-based Center for Studies on New Religions. The magazine focuses on “religious liberty and human rights in China” and is part of a conservative, right-wing network in Europe and the United States. The journalist who interviewed Abbas, Marco Respinti, is a senior fellow at the Russell Kirk Centre for Cultural Renewal, and a board member of the Centre for European Renewal—both conservative think tanks.

    The article explains that Abbas was a student activist at Xinjiang University during the 1989 protests by students and workers against the oppressive Beijing regime, but left China prior to the brutal June 4 military crackdown that killed thousands in the capital and throughout the country. At the university, she collaborated with Dolkun Isa and “has worked closely with him ever since.”

    Dolkun Isa is currently president of the World Uyghur Congress, established in 2004 as an umbrella group for a plethora of Uyghur organisations. It receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy—which is one of the fronts used by the CIA and the US State Department for fomenting opposition to Washington’s rivals, including so-called colour revolutions, around the world.

    Isa was the subject of an Interpol red notice after China accused him of having connections to the armed separatist group, the East Turkestan Liberation Organisation, a claim he denied. East Turkestan is the name given to Xinjiang by Uyghur separatists to denote its historic connections to Turkey. None of the Western countries in which he traveled moved to detain him and the red notice was subsequently removed, no doubt under pressure from Washington.

    Bitter Winter explained that after moving to the US, Abbas cofounded the first Uyghur organisation in the United States in 1993—the California-based Tengritagh Overseas Students and Scholars Association. She also played a key role in the formation of the Uyghur American Association in 1998, which receives funding from the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). Last year its Uyghur Human Rights Project was awarded two NED grants totaling $320,000. Her brother Rishat Abbas was the association’s first vice-chairman and is currently the honorary chairman of the Uyghur Academy based in Turkey.

    When the US Congress funded a Uyghur language service for the Washington-based Radio Free Asia, Abbas became its first reporter and news anchor, broadcasting daily to China. Radio Free Asia, like its counterpart Radio Free Europe, began its existence in the 1950s as a CIA conduit for anti-communist propaganda. It was later transferred to the US Information Agency, then the US State Department and before being incorporated as an “independent,” government-funded body. Its essential purpose as a vehicle for US disinformation and lies has not changed, however.

    In a particularly revealing passage, Bitter Winter explained: “From 2002–2003, Ms. Abbas supported Operation Enduring Freedom as a language specialist at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.” In the course of the interview with the magazine, Abbas attempted to explain away her involvement with the notorious prison camp by saying that she was simply acting on behalf of 22 Uyghurs who were wrongfully detained and ultimately released—after being imprisoned for between four to 11 years!

    Given the denunciations of Chinese detention camps, one might expect that Abbas would have something critical to say about Guantanamo Bay, where inmates are held indefinitely without charge or trial and in many cases tortured. However, she makes no criticism of the prison or its procedures, nor for that matter of Operation Enduring Freedom—the illegal US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq that resulted in the deaths of a million civilians.

    It is clear why. Abbas is plugged into to the very top levels of the US state apparatus and political establishment in Washington. Her stints with Radio Free Asia and at Guantanamo Bay are undoubtedly not the only times that she has been directly on the payroll.

    As Bitter Winter continued: “She has frequently briefed members of the US Congress and officials at the State Department on the human rights situation of the Uyghur people, and their history and culture, and arranged testimonies before Congressional committees and Human Rights Commissions.

    “She provided her expertise to other federal and military agencies as well, and in 2007 she assisted during a meeting between then-President George W. Bush and Rebiya Kadeer, the world-famous moral leader of the Uyghurs, in Prague. Later that year she also briefed then First Lady Laura Bush in the White House on the Human Rights situation in Xinjiang.”

    It should be noted, Rebiya Kadeer is the “the world-famous moral leader of the Uyghurs,” only in the eyes of the CIA and the US State Department who have assiduously promoted her, and of the US-funded Uyghur organisations. She was one of the wealthiest businesswomen in China who attended the National People’s Congress before her husband left for the US and began broadcasting for Radio Free Asia and Voice of America. She subsequently fled China to the US and has served as president both of the World Uyghur Congress and the American Uyghur Association.

    The fact that Russan Abbas is repeatedly being featured in the New York Times is an indication that she is also being groomed to play a leading role in the mounting US propaganda offensive against China over the persecution of the Uyghurs. It is also a telling indictment of the New York Times which opens its pages to her without informing its readers of her background. Like Abbas, the paper of record is also plugged into the state apparatus and its intelligence agencies.

    #Chine #Xinjiang_Weiwuer_zizhiqu #USA #impérialisme #services_secretes

    新疆維吾爾自治區 / 新疆维吾尔自治区, Xīnjiāng Wéiwú’ěr zìzhìqū, englisch Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region

  • Trump Shrugs Off Khashoggi Killing by Ally Saudi Arabia - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/23/us/politics/trump-khashoggi-killing-saudi-arabia.html

    But in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Mr. Trump said the episode had already been thoroughly investigated. He said the Middle East is “a vicious, hostile place” and noted that Saudi Arabia is an important trading partner with the United States.

    “I only say they spend $400 to $450 billion over a period of time, all money, all jobs, buying equipment,” the president told Chuck Todd, the show’s moderator. “I’m not like a fool that says, ‘We don’t want to do business with them.’ And by the way, if they don’t do business with us, you know what they do? They’ll do business with the Russians or with the Chinese.”

    #usa #trump #cynisme

  • No Palestinians, no Israelis, maybe even no journalists: What’s left of Kushner’s Bahrain summit - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    The White House’s initial sense of euphoria about Arab participation at its economic workshop on June 25 has eroded, much to the (unspoken) relief of Jerusalem
    Amir Tibon and Noa Landau (Washington) Jun 18, 2019

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-no-palestinians-no-israelis-no-journalists-what-s-left-of-kushner-

    WASHINGTON - With just a week to go before the Bahrain conference convenes to discuss the economic chapter of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, things are looking increasingly gloomy for the U.S. team led by Jared Kushner.

    The White House had surprised journalists in Washington and Israel on an otherwise boring Sunday last month when it announced that the workshop would take place in the Gulf state on June 25-26. That announcement created a temporary sense of momentum behind the so-called deal of the century, and the small team working on the plan viewed Bahrain’s sponsorship of the event as a major achievement.

    But there have been a series of setbacks since then. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the conference and has succeeded in convincing Palestinian business leaders not to attend as well. Russia and China — two of the most important economic players in the new Middle East — aren’t expected to attend, while Arab countries such as Iraq and Lebanon have also announced they won’t be participating.

  • Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect - Iran - Haaretz.com

    Oman attack: Iran is the immediate, but unlikely, suspect
    U.S. officials rushed to point to Tehran, but somehow the world’s leading intelligence services failed to discover who is actually behind the strike. And even if they knew, what could be done without risking all-out war?
    Zvi Bar’el | Jun. 14, 2019 | 8:36 AM | 3
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/iran/.premium-oman-attack-iran-is-the-immediate-but-unlikely-suspect-1.7368134


    A unnamed senior U.S. Defense Department official was quick to tell CBS that Iran was “apparently” behind the Thursday attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, followed by State Secretary Mike Pompeo who later told reported that it was his government’s assessment. There’s nothing new about that, but neither is it a decisive proof.

    Who, then, struck the tankers? Whom does this strike serve and what can be done against such attacks?

    In all previous attacks in the Gulf in recent weeks Iran was naturally taken to be the immediate suspect. After all, Iran had threatened that if it could now sell its oil in the Gulf, other countries would not be able to ship oil through it; Tehran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, and in any case it’s in the sights of the United States, Saudi Arabia and Israel. But this explanation is too easy.

    The Iranian regime is in the thrones of a major diplomatic struggle to persuade Europe and its allies, Russia and China, not to take the path of pulling out of the 2015 nuclear agreement. At the same time, Iran is sure that the United States is only looking for an excuse to attack it. Any violent initiative on Tehran’s part could only make things worse and bring it close to a military conflict, which it must avoid.

    Iran has announced it would scale back its commitments under the nuclear deal by expanding its low-level uranium enrichment and not transferring the remainder of its enriched uranium and heavy water to another country, as the agreement requires. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s reports reveal that it has indeed stepped up enrichment, but not in a way that could support a military nuclear program.

    It seems that alongside its diplomatic efforts, Iran prefers to threaten to harm the nuclear deal itself, responding to Washington with the same token, rather than escalate the situation to a military clash.

    Other possible suspects are the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, who continue to pound Saudi targets with medium-range missiles, as was the case last week with strikes on the Abha and Jizan airports, near the Yemeni border, which wounded 26 people. The Houthis have also fired missiles at Riyadh and hit targets in the Gulf. In response, Saudi Arabia launched a massive missile strike on Houthi-controlled areas in northern Yemen.

    The strike on the oil tankers may have been a response to the response, but if this is the case, it goes against Iran’s policy, which seeks to neutralize any pretexts for a military clash in the Gulf. The question, therefore, is whether Iran has full control over all the actions the Houthis take, and whether the aid it gives them commits them fully to its policies, or whether they see assaults on Saudi targets as a separate, local battle, cut off from Iran’s considerations.

    The Houthis have claimed responsibility for some of their actions in Saudi territory in the past, and at times even took the trouble of explaining the reasons behind this assault or the other. But not this time.

    Yemen also hosts large Al-Qaida cells and Islamic State outposts, with both groups having a running account with Saudi Arabia and apparently the capabilities to carry out strikes on vessels moving through the Gulf.

    In the absence of confirmed and reliable information on the source of the fire, we may meanwhile discount the possibility of a Saudi or American provocation at which Iran has hinted, but such things have happened before. However, we may also wonder why some of the most sophisticated intelligence services in the world are having so much trouble discovering who actually carried out these attacks.

    Thwarting such attacks with no precise intelligence is an almost impossible task, but even if the identity of those responsible for it is known, the question of how to respond to the threat would still arise.

    If it turns out that Iran initiated or even carried out these attacks, American and Saudi military forces could attack its Revolutionary Guards’ marine bases along the Gulf coast, block Iranian shipping in the Gulf and persuade European countries to withdraw from the nuclear deal, claiming that continuing relations with Iran would mean supporting terrorism in general, and maritime terrorism in particular.

    The concern is that such a military response would lead Iran to escalate its own and openly strike American and Saudi targets in the name of self-defense and protecting its sovereignty. In that case, a large-scale war would be inevitable. But there’s no certainty that U.S. President Donald Trump, who wants to extricate his forces from military involvement in the Middle East, truly seeks such a conflict, which could suck more and more American forces into this sensitive arena.

    An escape route from this scenario would require intensive mediation efforts between Iran and the United States, but therein lies one major difficulty – finding an authoritative mediator that could pressure both parties. Russia or China are not suitable candidates, and ties between Washington and the European Union are acrimonious.

    It seems that all sides would be satisfied if they could place responsibility for the attacks on the Houthis or other terror groups. That is not to say that the United States or Saudi Arabia have any magic solutions when it comes to the Houthis; far from it. The war in Yemen has been going on for five years now with no military resolution, and increased bombardment of concentrations of Houthi forces could only expand their efforts to show their strength. But the United States would pay none of the diplomatic or military price for assaults on the Houthis it would for a forceful violent response against Iran itself.

    If sporadic, small-scale attacks raise such complex dilemmas, one can perhaps dream of an all-out war with Iran, but it is enough to look at the chaos in Iraq and Afghanistan to grow extremely cautious of the trajectory in which such dreams become a nightmare that lasts for decades.❞
    #Oman #Iran
    https://seenthis.net/messages/786937

    • UPDATE 1-"Flying objects" damaged Japanese tanker during attack in Gulf of Oman
      Junko Fujita – June 14, 2019
      (Adds comments from company president)
      By Junko Fujita
      https://www.reuters.com/article/mideast-tanker-japan-damage/update-1-flying-objects-damaged-japanese-tanker-during-attack-in-gulf-of-om

      TOKYO, June 14 (Reuters) - Two “flying objects” damaged a Japanese tanker owned by Kokuka Sangyo Co in an attack on Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, but there was no damage to the cargo of methanol, the company president said on Friday.

      The Kokuka Courageous is now sailing toward the port of Khor Fakkan in the United Arab Emirates, with the crew having returned to the ship after evacuating because of the incident, Kokuka President Yutaka Katada told a press conference. It was being escorted by the U.S. Navy, he said.

      “The crew told us something came flying at the ship, and they found a hole,” Katada said. “Then some crew witnessed the second shot.”

      Katada said there was no possibility that the ship, carrying 25,000 tons of methanol, was hit by a torpedo.

      The United States has blamed Iran for attacking the Kokuka Courageous and another tanker, the Norwegian-owned Front Altair, on Thursday, but Tehran has denied the allegations.

      The ship’s crew saw an Iranian military ship in the vicinity on Thursday night Japan time, Katada said.

      Katada said he did not believe Kokuka Courageous was targetted because it was owned by a Japanese firm. The tanker is registered in Panama and was flying a Panamanian flag, he said.

      “Unless very carefully examined, it would be hard to tell the tanker was operated or owned by Japanese,” he said. (...)

  • ’Orientalism,’ Then and Now | by Adam Shatz | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books

    https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2019/05/20/orientalism-then-and-now

    Un retour sur l’histoire de l’orientalisme et sa « mutation » à l’époque actuelle.

    Edward Said’s Orientalism is one of the most influential works of intellectual history of the postwar era. It is also one of the most misunderstood. Perhaps the most common misunderstanding is that it is “about” the Middle East; on the contrary, it is a study of Western representations of the Arab-Islamic world—of what Said called “mind-forg’d manacles,” after William Blake. The book’s conservative critics misread it as a nativist denunciation of Western scholarship, ignoring its praise for Louis Massignon, Jacques Berque, and Clifford Geertz, while some Islamists praised the book on the basis of the same misunderstanding, overlooking Said’s commitment to secular politics.

    Since the book’s first publication in 1978, “Orientalism” has become one of those words that shuts down conversation on liberal campuses, where no one wants to be accused of being “Orientalist” any more than they want to be called racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic. That “Orientalist” is now a commonly applied epithet is a tribute to the power of Said’s account, but also to its vulgarization. With Orientalism, Said wanted to open a discussion about the way the Arab-Islamic world had been imagined by the West—not to prevent a clear-eyed reckoning with the region’s problems, of which he was all too painfully aware.

  • The Dark Side of Israel’s Cold Peace With Saudi Arabia
    https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-06-03/israel-s-cold-peace-with-saudi-arabia-has-a-dark-side

    The Saudis’ phone hacking is enabled by a privately owned Israeli company called the NSO Group Ltd. Its cyberweapon suite, Pegasus, has come under deserved scrutiny in the last year because governments have misused the weapon to hack the phones of journalists and human-rights activists. Last year, two groups of victims sued the company in Israel and Cyprus for providing phone surveillance to the Mexican and Emirati governments, which then used it against political targets.

    Pegasus and similar hacking programs are now able to break into a phone without requiring the user to even click a link. In some cases, a bogus WhatsApp call is enough to infect the phone and make it a powerful tracking device. That makes it particularly suited to monitor Arab dissidents like Al-Baghdadi, who rely on the encrypted messaging service to make contact with networks of activists across the Middle East.

  • Hundreds of Europeans ‘criminalised’ for helping migrants – as far right aims to win big in European elections

    Elderly women, priests and firefighters among those arrested, charged or ‘harassed’ by police for supporting migrants, with numbers soaring in the past 18 months.

    These cases – compiled from news reports and other records from researchers, NGOs and activist groups, as well as new interviews across Europe – suggest a sharp increase in the number of people targeted since the start of 2018. At least 100 people were arrested, charged or investigated last year (a doubling of that figure for the preceding year).


    https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/hundreds-of-europeans-criminalised-for-helping-migrants-new-data-show
    #délit_de_solidarité #solidarité #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Europe
    #Allemagne #criminalisation #statistiques #chiffres #Suisse #Danemark #Espagne #France #journalisme #journalistes #presse #Grèce #Calais

    #Norbert_Valley #Christian_Hartung #Miguel_Roldan #Lise_Ramslog #Claire_Marsol #Anouk_Van_Gestel #Lisbeth_Zornig_Andersen #Daphne_Vloumidi #Mikael_Lindholm #Fernand_Bosson #Benoit_Duclois #Mussie_Zerai #Manuel_Blanco #Tom_Ciotkowski #Rob_Lawrie

    ping @isskein @karine4

  • Israel demolishes record number of Palestinian homes in a single day - The National

    https://www.thenational.ae/world/mena/israel-demolishes-record-number-of-palestinian-homes-in-a-single-day-1.8

    The number of Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem that were demolished by Israel’s military in a single day peaked on April 29, when 31 structures were flattened, the UN’s envoy for Middle East peace said on Wednesday.

    In his monthly briefing to the Security Council, Nickolay Mladenov reported that the figure was the highest daily total since the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) began monitoring such activities in 2009.

    Mr Mladenov called for “an immediate halt to the Israeli authorities’ destruction of Palestinian-owned property in East Jerusalem”.

    The demolitions are justified by Israel on the grounds that the structures are not approved by Israeli-issued building permits. However, such documents are near impossible for Palestinians to obtain.

    #israel #palestine #démolition #occupation #colonisation

  • Pas d[e nouvelles]’ hypothèses sur l’origine des attaques (dont seule celle de l’attaque du pipeline par drones est revendiquée par les Houthis), mais l’article soulève le point commun qu’il s’agit dans les 2 cas de menaces sur une voie de contournement du détroit d’Hormuz.

    Constat qui donne implicitement une réponse unique à la question cui bono ?… Autrement dit, toujours sans répondre explicitement (!), qui a tout récemment menacé de fermer le détroit et… se porterait bien d’affaiblir les voies alternatives ?…

    Tanker attacks near UAE expose weaknesses in Gulf Arab security - Reuters
    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-saudi-oil-usa-iran-security-analysis-idUSKCN1SL1BD

    More than three days on, little information has been provided on where the ships were when they were attacked, what sort of weapon was used, and who did it.

    Navigational data indicated at least some of the ships may have been within nine nautical miles of the shore, well within UAE territorial sea. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has said at least one of them was further out, in the UAE’s exclusive economic zone where international law largely applies.

    Reuters and other journalists taken on a tour off the Fujairah coast saw a hole at the waterline in the hull of a Norwegian ship, with the metal torn inwards. A Saudi tanker they viewed showed no sign of major damage.

    Maritime security sources told Reuters that images suggest the damage was likely caused by limpet mines attached close to the waterline with less than 4 kg of explosives. One source said the level of coordination and use of mines were likely to rule out militant groups such as al Qaeda.

    It’s not those guys seeking publicity, it’s someone who wants to make a point without necessarily pointing in any given direction,” said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East and Africa editor for Jane’s Defence Weekly. “It’s below the threshold (for war).

    Jean-Marc Rickli, head of global risk and resilience at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, said the attacks could be a message that Iran has means to disrupt traffic.

    Saudi state oil company Aramco said output and exports were not disrupted by the attack on the pumping stations, but it temporarily shut the East-West pipeline to evaluate its condition.

    Both attacks targeted alternative routes for oil to bypass Hormuz. Fujairah port is a terminal of the crude pipeline from Abu Dhabi’s Habshan oilfields. The Saudi East-West line takes crude from eastern fields to Yanbu port, north of Bab al-Mandeb.

  • Attaques de Fujaïrah, le monde de l’assurance maritime réfléchit…

    London Marine Insurers to Meet After Ship Attacks in Middle East – gCaptain
    https://gcaptain.com/london-marine-insurers-to-meet-after-ship-attacks-in-middle-east

    London’s marine insurance market will meet on Thursday to assess whether it needs to change the risk level for vessels in the Gulf after an attack on ships off the United Arab Emirates earlier this week, a senior official said on Wednesday.

    Such a move could lead to an increase in insurance premiums.
    […]
    At the moment there are not many facts or verifiable information (about the attacks on Sunday),” said [Neil Roberts, head of marine underwriting at Lloyd’s Market Association (LMA), which represents the interests of all underwriting businesses in London’s Lloyd’s market]..

    There is no decision yet on whether to change the listed areas of enhanced risk. There are a number of options, which include no change.

    He said any changes would take seven days to come into effect.
    […]
    It has not updated the list of high risk areas since June 2018. Its guidance is watched closely and influences underwriters’ considerations over insurance premiums.

    Some oil and shipping companies said they would have to alter their routes or take precautions near Fujairah since Sunday’s attacks.

    Japanese shipping group Nippon Yusen has already decided to refrain from sending tankers to Fujairah for bunkering, maintenance or crew swaps except for emergencies, a company spokesman said.

    Others such as Denmark’s Maersk Tankers told Reuters they were monitoring developments closely, with no impact on their operations in the area.

  • For Iranians, the War Has Already Begun – LobeLog
    https://lobelog.com/for-iranians-the-war-has-already-begun

    #Iran is only marginally reflected in the U.S. news, which means the American public does not hear voices that express the human suffering caused by the U.S. government far beyond its borders. The murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, Trump’s best ally in the region, is a rare instance of attention given to the nature of America’s allies and Iran’s opponents in the Middle East. Pro-democracy Iranians worldwide are experiencing a political trauma. They feel alienated from both internal and world politics. They are unable to communicate the debilitating pain of, on the one hand, expecting a military attack by the United States and on the other, the worsening of the political landscape in their home country.

    [...]

    Living a double life between the United States and Iran, I struggle daily with moments of despair and alienation: I am simply unable to communicate my concerns with the most caring colleagues at work and at school. U.S. civil society is so devoid of a voice representing my position that I struggle to find a way to verbalize my sense of panic, frustration, and despair. These fused feelings emerge because the wall between me and the rest of the society does not allow them to see the impact of the U.S. government’s decisions in lives lived far from them, but so close to my heart.

    #etats-unis #guerre

  • In the U.S., more Jews than Christians see Trump’s policies as too pro-Israel, poll finds

    42 percent of Jews said that Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel while 26 percent of Christian thought so and 15 percent of Evangelicals held this view
    Amir Tibon
    May 06, 2019 8:09 PM

    https://www.haaretz.com/us-news/.premium-poll-in-the-u-s-more-jews-than-christians-see-trump-s-policies-as-

    American Jews are more likely than American Christians to think that President Donald Trump’s policies are too favorable to Israel, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center. As part of a national poll on American attitudes toward Israel, the respondents were asked whether they thought Trump’s policies in the Middle East were too favorable to Israel, too favorable to the Palestinians, or had the right balance.

    Among Jewish respondents, 42 percent said that Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel. Only 6 percent said that his policies were too favorable to the Palestinians, while a plurality of 47 percent said the policy struck the right balance. Among Christian respondents, meanwhile, only 26 percent said Trump’s policies were too favorable to Israel, while 59 percent said the 45th president has the ‘right balance.’

    Within the different Christian denominations, there are different views on the subject. Among Evangelical Christians, 72 percent think Trump’s policy strikes the “right balance,” and only 15 percent think he is too favorable to Israel. Among Catholics, 34 percent think he is too favorable to Israel, and 51 percent think he has the “right balance.” In addition, 33 percent of the respondents who belong to the “historically black” church said that Trump’s policies are too favorable to Israel, and 40 percent of them said it has the right balance.

  • Tom Stevenson reviews ‘AngloArabia’ by David Wearing · LRB 9 May 2019
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/v41/n09/tom-stevenson/what-are-we-there-for

    It is a cliché that the United States and Britain are obsessed with Middle East oil, but the reason for the obsession is often misdiagnosed. Anglo-American interest in the enormous hydrocarbon reserves of the Persian Gulf does not derive from a need to fuel Western consumption . [...] Anglo-American involvement in the Middle East has always been principally about the strategic advantage gained from controlling Persian Gulf hydrocarbons, not Western oil needs. [...]

    Other parts of the world – the US, Russia, Canada – have large deposits of crude oil, and current estimates suggest Venezuela has more proven reserves than Saudi Arabia. But Gulf oil lies close to the surface, where it is easy to get at by drilling; it is cheap to extract, and is unusually ‘light’ and ‘sweet’ (industry terms for high purity and richness). It is also located near the middle of the Eurasian landmass, yet outside the territory of any global power. Western Middle East policy, as explained by Jimmy Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was to control the Gulf and stop any Soviet influence over ‘that vital energy resource upon which the economic and political stability both of Western Europe and of Japan depend’, or else the ‘geopolitical balance of power would be tipped’. In a piece for the Atlantic a few months after 9/11, Benjamin Schwarz and Christopher Layne explained that Washington ‘assumes responsibility for stabilising the region’ because China, Japan and Europe will be dependent on its resources for the foreseeable future: ‘America wants to discourage those powers from developing the means to protect that resource for themselves.’ Much of US power is built on the back of the most profitable protection #racket in modern history.

    [...]

    It is difficult to overstate the role of the Gulf in the way the world is currently run. In recent years, under both Obama and Trump, there has been talk of plans for a US withdrawal from the Middle East and a ‘#pivot’ to Asia. If there are indeed such plans, it would suggest that recent US administrations are ignorant of the way the system over which they preside works.

    The Arab Gulf states have proved well-suited to their status as US client states, in part because their populations are small and their subjugated working class comes from Egypt and South Asia. [...] There are occasional disagreements between Gulf rulers and their Western counterparts over oil prices, but they never become serious. [...] The extreme conservatism of the Gulf monarchies, in which there is in principle no consultation with the citizenry, means that the use of oil sales to prop up Western economies – rather than to finance, say, domestic development – is met with little objection. Wearing describes the modern relationship between Western governments and the Gulf monarchs as ‘asymmetric interdependence’, which makes clear that both get plenty from the bargain. Since the West installed the monarchs, and its behaviour is essentially extractive, I see no reason to avoid describing the continued Anglo-American domination of the Gulf as #colonial.

    Saudi Arabia and the other five members of the Gulf Co-operation Council are collectively the world’s largest buyer of military equipment by a big margin. [...]. The deals are highly profitable for Western arms companies (Middle East governments account for around half of all British arms sales), but the charge that Western governments are in thrall to the arms companies is based on a misconception. Arms sales are useful principally as a way of bonding the Gulf monarchies to the Anglo-American military. Proprietary systems – from fighter jets to tanks and surveillance equipment – ensure lasting dependence, because training, maintenance and spare parts can be supplied only by the source country. Western governments are at least as keen on these deals as the arms industry, and much keener than the Gulf states themselves. While speaking publicly of the importance of fiscal responsibility, the US, Britain and France have competed with each other to bribe Gulf officials into signing unnecessary arms deals.

    Control of the Gulf also yields less obvious benefits. [...] in 1974, the US Treasury secretary, William Simon, secretly travelled to Saudi Arabia to secure an agreement that remains to this day the foundation of the dollar’s global dominance. As David Spiro has documented in The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony (1999), the US made its guarantees of Saudi and Arab Gulf security conditional on the use of oil sales to shore up the #dollar. Under Simon’s deal, Saudi Arabia agreed to buy massive tranches of US Treasury bonds in secret off-market transactions. In addition, the US compelled Saudi Arabia and the other Opec countries to set oil prices in dollars, and for many years Gulf oil shipments could be paid for only in dollars. A de facto oil standard replaced gold, assuring the dollar’s value and pre-eminence.

    For the people of the region, the effects of a century of AngloArabia have been less satisfactory. Since the start of the war in Yemen in 2015 some 75,000 people have been killed, not counting those who have died of disease or starvation. In that time Britain has supplied arms worth nearly £5 billion to the Saudi coalition fighting the Yemeni Houthis. The British army has supplied and maintained aircraft throughout the campaign; British and American military personnel are stationed in the command rooms in Riyadh; British special forces have trained Saudi soldiers fighting inside Yemen; and Saudi pilots continue to be trained at RAF Valley on Anglesey. The US is even more deeply involved: the US air force has provided mid-air refuelling for Saudi and Emirati aircraft – at no cost, it emerged in November. Britain and the US have also funnelled weapons via the UAE to militias in Yemen. If the Western powers wished, they could stop the conflict overnight by ending their involvement. Instead the British government has committed to the Saudi position. As foreign secretary, Philip Hammond pledged that Britain would continue to ‘support the Saudis in every practical way short of engaging in combat’. This is not only complicity but direct participation in a war that is as much the West’s as it is Saudi Arabia’s.

    The Gulf monarchies are family dictatorships kept in power by external design, and it shows. [...] The main threat to Western interests is internal: a rising reminiscent of Iran’s in 1979. To forestall such an event, Britain equips and trains the Saudi police force, has military advisers permanently attached to the internal Saudi security forces, and operates a strategic communications programme for the Saudi National Guard (called Sangcom). [...]

    As Wearing argues, ‘Britain could choose to swap its support for Washington’s global hegemony for a more neutral and peaceful position.’ It would be more difficult for the US to extricate itself. Contrary to much of the commentary in Washington, the strategic importance of the Middle East is increasing, not decreasing. The US may now be exporting hydrocarbons again, thanks to state-subsidised shale, but this has no effect on the leverage it gains from control of the Gulf. And impending climate catastrophe shows no sign of weaning any nation from fossil fuels , least of all the developing East Asian states. US planners seem confused about their own intentions in the Middle East. In 2017, the National Intelligence Council described the sense of neglect felt by the Gulf monarchies when they heard talk of the phantasmagorical Asia pivot. The report’s authors were profoundly negative about the region’s future, predicting ‘large-scale violence, civil wars, authority vacuums and humanitarian crises persisting for many years’. The causes, in the authors’ view, were ‘entrenched elites’ and ‘low oil prices’. They didn’t mention that maintenance of both these things is US policy.

    #etats-unis #arabie_saoudite #pétrole #moyen_orient #contrôle

  • Runaway Saudi sisters call on #Google and #Apple to pull ’inhuman’ woman-monitoring app

    Two runaway Saudi sisters on Wednesday urged Apple and Google to pull an “inhuman” app allowing men to monitor and control female relatives’ travel as it helped trap girls in abusive families.

    Maha and Wafa al-Subaie, who are seeking asylum in Georgia after fleeing their family, said Absher – a government e-services app – was bad for women as it supported Saudi Arabia’s strict male guardian system.

    “It gives men control over women,” said Wafa, 25. “They have to remove it,” she added, referring to Google and Apple.

    #Absher, which is available in the Saudi version of Google and Apple online stores, allows men to update or withdraw permissions for female relatives to travel abroad and to get SMS updates if their passports are used, according to researchers.

    Neither company was immediately available to comment. Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook said in February that he had not heard of Absher but pledged to “take a look at it”.

    A free tool created by the interior ministry, Absher allows Saudis to access a wide range of government services, such as renewing passports, making appointments and viewing traffic violations.

    Saudi women must have permission from a male relative to work, marry and travel under the ultra-conservative Islamic kingdom’s guardianship system, which has faced scrutiny following recent cases of Saudi women seeking refuge overseas.

    The al-Subaie sisters, who stole their father’s phone to get themselves passports and authorisation to fly to Istanbul, said they knew of dozens of other young women who were looking to escape abusive families.

    Tech giants could help bring about change in Saudi Arabia if they pulled Absher or insisted that it allows women to organise travel independently – which would significantly hamper the guardianship system - they said.

    “If [they] remove this application, maybe the government will do something,” Wafa said.

    The sisters’ plea added to growing calls from rights groups, diplomats and US and European politicians for the app to be removed from online stores.

    United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday that she had asked tech companies in Silicon Valley “tough questions” this month about the “threats” posed by apps like Absher.

    “Technology can, and should, be all about progress. But the hugely invasive powers that are being unleashed may do incalculable damage if there are not sufficient checks in place to respect human rights,” she said in a statement.

    A Saudi teen received global attention and ultimately an offer of asylum in Canada when she refused to leave a Thai airport hotel in January to escape her family. Two other Saudi sisters who hid in Hong Kong for six months were granted visas in March to travel to a third country.

    “Increasing cases of women fleeing the country are indicative of the situation of women in Saudi Arabia,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East research director for rights group Amnesty International.

    “Despite some limited reforms, [they] are inadequately protected against domestic violence and abuse and, more generally, are discriminated against.”

    Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has introduced reforms, such as lifting the driving ban for women, and indicated last year that he favoured ending the guardianship system. But he has stopped short of backing its annulment.

    Western criticism of the kingdom has sharpened with the trial of 11 women activists who said last month that they had been tortured while in detention on charges related to human rights work and contacts with foreign journalists and diplomats.

    The public prosecutor has denied the torture allegations and said the women had been arrested on suspicion of harming Saudi interests and offering support to hostile elements abroad.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/apr/25/runaway-saudi-sisters-call-for-inhuman-woman-monitoring-app-absher-to-b
    #contrôle #hommes #surveillance #femmes
    #liberté #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Arabie_Saoudite #femmes #technologie #domination_masculine #fuite #contrôles_frontaliers #frontières #passeport

    ping @reka

  • Israel already an apartheid state says outgoing French ambassador, discussing Trump’s peace plan - Israel News - Haaretz.com

    Gérard Araud recalls that ’once Trump told Macron [the French president], ‘I have given everything to the Israelis; the Israelis will have to give me something’’

    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-is-already-an-apartheid-state-says-outgoing-french-ambassador-1.7151

    Outgoing French Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, gave a bombastic interview to the Atlantic, published Friday, as he ends his five year tenure in Washington, D.C. Araud told Yara Bayoumy that Israel is already an apartheid state and that U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan is 99% doomed to fail.

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    Araud, who Bayoumy notes is known for “his willingness to say (and tweet) things that other ambassadors might not even think,” also offered his opinion on Trump’s foreign policy team. He said that John Bolton is a “real professional,” even though “he hates international organizations” and that Jared Kushner is “extremely smart, but he has no guts.”

    Araud recalled that “once Trump told Macron [the French president], ‘I have given everything to the Israelis; the Israelis will have to give me something.’ He is totally transactional. He is more popular than [Benjamin] Netanyahu in Israel, so the Israelis trust him.” Araud cited that exchange with Macron as evidence that Trump will ask for something tough from the Israelis in his peace proposal.

    Read the full interview in the Atlantic

    He concluded, however, that “disproportion of power is such between the two sides that the strongest may conclude that they have no interest to make concessions.” He continued by discussing Israel’s dilemna in the West Bank, noting that Israel is hesitating to make “the painful decision about the Palestinians” - to leave them “totally stateless or make them citizens of Israel.”

    He concludes, “They [Israel] won’t make them citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is we know the situation, which is an apartheid. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already.”

    Trump’s Middle East peace plan will not involve giving land from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula to the Palestinians, an American envoy said on Friday.
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    Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy, apparently sought to deny reports on social media that the long-awaited plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would involve extending Gaza into the northern Sinai along Egypt’s Mediterranean coast.

    “Hearing reports our plan includes the concept that we will give a portion of Sinai (which is Egypt’s) to Gaza. False!”, Greenblatt, one of the architects of the proposal, tweeted on Friday.

    The American plan is expected to be unveiled once Israel’s newly re-elected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forms a government coalition and after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in June.

    Trump’s senior advisor Jared Kushner said on Wednesday the plan would require compromise by all parties, a source familiar with his remarks said.

    It is unclear whether the plan will propose outright the creation of a Palestinian state, the Palestinians’ core demand.

    Reuters contributed to this report

  • USA : L’ambassadeur français sortant compare Trump à Louis XIV. « Israël va devenir un Etat d’apartheid » – Site de la chaîne AlManar-Liban
    http://french.almanar.com.lb/1332157

    Les propos du désormais ex-ambassadeur de France comparant Trump à Louis XIV ont été très repris. Ses commentaires sur le deal du siècle pour "résoudre" la question palestinienne beaucoup moins. Et c’est dommage !

    L’ambassadeur français sortant a également déclaré qu’il croyait que le deal du siècle (plan de paix américain bafouant les droits des Palestiniens) était voué à l’échec.

    « Je suis proche de Jared Kushner… Partout dans l’histoire de l’humanité, lorsqu’il y a une négociation entre deux parties, le [parti] le plus puissant impose des conditions à la partie la plus faible », a-t-il expliqué.

    « C’est la base du plan de paix de Jared Kushner – c’est une proposition très proche de ce que veulent les Israéliens. Est-il voué à l’échec ? Je devrais dire oui à 99%, mais (il reste) 1%, il ne faut jamais oublier le 1%. Trump est particulièrement capable de pousser les Israéliens, car il est très populaire en Israël », a encore dit l’ambassadeur.

    #palestine #deal_du_siècle

    • A Conversation With Outgoing French Ambassador Gérard Araud
      Yara Bayoumy - Apr 19, 2019 - The Atlantic
      https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2019/04/conversation-outgoing-french-ambassador-gerard-araud/587458

      (...) Yara Bayoumy: Your career started out in the Middle East. Where do you see the situation there now, especially with the peace process?

      Gérard Araud: I’m close to Jared Kushner … Everywhere in the history of mankind, when there is a negotiation between two sides, the more powerful [party] is imposing terms on the weaker party. That’s the basis of Jared Kushner’s [peace plan]—it will be a proposal very close to what the Israelis want. Is it doomed to fail? I should say 99 percent yes, but 1 percent, you never forget the 1 percent. Trump is uniquely able to push the Israelis, because he is so popular in Israel.

      Bayoumy: But Trump hasn’t pushed the Israelis so far.

      Araud: Exactly, but if need be, he may do it. Once Trump told Macron, “I have given everything to the Israelis; the Israelis will have to give me something.” He is totally transactional. He is more popular than [Benjamin] Netanyahu in Israel, so the Israelis trust him. That’s the first bet, Kushner told me. The second is that the Palestinians may consider, it’s their last chance to get limited sovereignty. And the third element is Kushner is going to pour money on the Palestinians. Don’t forget, the Arabs are behind the Americans. The plan is 50 pages, we were told, very precise; we don’t know what is in the plan. But we’ll see.

      The problem is that the disproportion of power is such between the two sides that the strongest may conclude that they have no interest to make concessions. And also the fact that the status quo is extremely comfortable for Israel. Because they [can] have the cake and eat it. They have the West Bank, but at the same time they don’t have to make the painful decision about the Palestinians, really making them really, totally stateless or making them citizens of Israel. They won’t make them citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is we know the situation, which is an apartheid. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already.

      Bayoumy: How do you feel Kushner approached the peace plan?

      Araud: He is totally in real-estate mode. He is totally dry. He’s extremely smart, but he has no guts. He doesn’t know the history. And in a sense, it’s good—we are not here to say who is right, who is wrong; we are trying to find a way. So in a sense, I like it, but at the same time he is so rational, and he is so pro-Israeli also, that he may neglect the point that if you offer the Palestinians the choice between surrendering and committing suicide, they may decide the latter. Somebody like Kushner doesn’t understand that. (...)

  • A new generation is ready to stand with Palestinians
    Noura Erakat, The Washington Post, le 16 avril 2019
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/04/16/new-generation-is-ready-stand-with-palestinians

    Young Palestinians, born and raised in the era of the Oslo Accords and Israel’s repeated wars in Gaza, are increasingly disillusioned with the two-state solution. They are cynical about all Palestinian national leadership from Fatah to Hamas and are seeking alternative futures. It was young people who launched the Great March of Return, the largest popular convergence in Gaza to demand freedom and the right to return of Palestinian refugees.

    Young Palestinians have been the driving force of new political efforts such as the Palestinian Youth Movement, which connects Palestinians ages 18 to 35 across a global diaspora with the aim of reconstituting a national politics of resistance. Young Palestinians are also the primary advocates of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that sidesteps political negotiations and makes rights-based claims for equality, the return of refugees and the end of occupation of Arab lands. Far from destitution, the grim status quo is fueling a politics of hope among Palestinian youths in particular.

    This hope echoes a similar trend in the United States, where young people are driving an unprecedented shift in U.S. politics on the Middle East, and Palestinian freedom has been steadily incorporated into a progressive agenda. Trump’s embrace of Netanyahu is making ever clearer to a U.S. public that the reactionary right embodied by Trump is the normalized state of affairs in Israel. The Trump-Netanyahu alliance is on full display in the concerted and hypocritical attacks against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who, in her advocacy on behalf of all marginalized communities, has illuminated the negative impact that U.S. unconditional support for Israel has on Palestinians.

    Social movements such as Black Lives Matter and events like the Women’s March, driven by a similar base, have affirmed Palestinian freedom as part of their platforms. Polls indicate that since Trump took office two years ago, more Americans are less inclined to sympathize with Israel over Palestinians, while a majority of Democrats say they would support sanctions or stronger action against Israel due to settlement construction.

    A mettre avec l’évolution de la situation aux États-Unis vis à vis de la Palestine :
    https://seenthis.net/messages/752002

    #Palestine #USA #BDS #Noura_Erakat #Washington_Post #Jeunesse

  • Turkey’s Policy in the Balkans: More than Neo-Ottomanism

    There is a fundamental misperception with regard to Turkey’s relationship with the Balkans. Turkey is not external to the region, the way Russia is for instance. Its history and geographic location make it a part of southeast Europe. Millions of Turks have their family roots in what was once known as ‘Turkey-in-Europe.’ This includes the founder of the republic, the Salonika-born Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Ties run deep at the political, economic, and societal levels.

    All those connections have drawn Turkey to the Balkans, especially after the end of the Cold War. The notion that Turks are now coming back does not hold. Closer engagement in the region started under President Turgut Özal in the early 1990s. But back then, Turkey balanced between bilateralism and multilateralism. It invested in economic and security ties with friendly countries such as Albania, Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria while adhering to NATO as its response to the wars in ex-Yugoslavia. What changed under the Justice and Development (AK) Party, notably over the past decade, is the switch to bilateralism. That is understandable given the cracks in relations between Ankara and the West. All the same, it is concerning since it is coinciding with the push against the EU and NATO by Russia, which leverages history, religious identity and anti-Western rhetoric to legitimize its actions.

    Pundits and politicians often use ‘Neo-Ottomanism’ to describe Turkey’s forays. The label can be often misleading. Yes, Turkish President Recep Erdogan praises the Ottoman Empire and its legacy, domestically and beyond Turkey’s borders. But so did his predecessors in office. Within the country, liberals and Islamist conservatives alike all rediscovered the Ottomans from the 1980s onwards in questioning the Kemalist political order. The government has been reaching out to Balkan Muslims through TIKA, the Turkish developmental agency, and the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) for decades.

    Neo-Ottomanism is therefore the packaging, not the substance. Turkey’s objective is not to recreate the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. That is far beyond the country’s resources and capacity. The region is gravitating in economic, social, institutional and political terms to the West. What we have instead is Erdogan using the Balkans to make a case that he is the leader of the wider (Sunni) Muslim community in Europe and the Middle East. The main audience is his electorate in Turkey and only secondly Muslims abroad. The pre-election rally he held in Sarajevo in the run-up to last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections is a case in point.

    But Turkish policy in the Balkans cannot be reduced to the promotion of Islamic solidarity. Erdogan’s main achievement is the fact that he has built relations with leaders from countries that are majority non-Muslim. In October 2017, for instance, he was welcomed in Serbia by President Aleksandar Vucic. The visit gave some credence to complaints by Bosniaks (Slavic Muslims) that Turkey loves to talk brotherhood in Bosnia but when it comes to investing money it goes for Serbia. Similarly, Erdogan has strong links to Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who hosted the EU-Turkey summit a year ago. Bulgaria and Serbia are interested in hosting an extension of the TurkStream gas pipeline, a joint Russo-Turkish venture. Greece’s Alexis Tsipras also received the red carpet treatment during his latest visit to Turkey where he discussed ideas on decreasing tensions in the Aegean.

    Despite its quest for strategic autonomy, Turkey is still partnering with Western institutions. In addition, Ankara has been supportive of the Prespa Agreement and newly renamed North Macedonia’s accession to NATO, its quarrels with the U.S. and other key members of the Alliance notwithstanding. Collectively, EU members Romania, Bulgaria and Greece account for the bulk of Turkish trade with southeast Europe, with the Western Balkans trailing far behind. Greece and Bulgaria see Turkey as key to stemming the flow of asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and further afield. They are highly supportive of the EU-Turkey deal on migration from March 2016, renewed last year.

    Does the authoritarian system built by Erdogan pose an ideological challenge in the Balkans? Perhaps yes. For instance, pressure on governments to close educational institutions and surrender, without due process, members of the Fethullah Gülen community, which is implicated in the coup attempt in July 2016, undermine the rule of law. At the same time, the authoritarian drift observed in the Balkans is an indigenous product. It is not imported from Vladimir Putin’s Russia nor from Turkey under its new ‘sultan’.

    https://www.ispionline.it/it/pubblicazione/turkeys-policy-balkans-more-neo-ottomanism-22835

    #néo-ottomanisme #Turquie #Balkans

  • Libya Is on the Brink of Civil War and a U.S. Citizen Is Responsible. Here’s What to Know
    https://news.yahoo.com/libya-brink-civil-war-u-145012004.html

    Who are Haftar’s international backers?

    Officially, they are few and far between. Every major state condoned the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), and Prime Minister Fayez al-Serraj. But in reality, some “were also having parallel conversations with different actors and that enabled those actors to disregard the legal process and go with the military process,” says Elham Saudi, co-founder of London-based NGO Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL).

    Those states include Egypt and the United Arab Emirates, which want to curb the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Libya; Russia, which has treated wounded soldiers and reportedly printed money on behalf of Haftar; and France, which views him as key to stabilizing Libya and slowing the flow of migrants into Europe. Italy, which also wants to prevent migration through Libya, has fallen out with France over its tacit support of Haftar. “Nominally, of course, they’re on the same side, that of the U.N.-backed government,” says Joost Hiltermann, director of the Middle East and North Africa program at the International Crisis Group. “But in reality Italy and France are on opposite sides of this.”

    [...]

    ... no state has threatened sanctions or acted to affirm the legitimacy of the internationally-backed government in Tripoli. As such, Haftar has interpreted their warnings as an amber, rather than a red light, according to International Crisis Group. For LFJL’s Saudi, the current crisis is the “natural culmination” of the international community’s inconsistency and failure to affirm the rule of law in Libya. “The international agenda has been pure carrot and no stick,” she says. “What is the incentive now to play by the rules?”

    #Libye#communauté_internationale#droit_international

  • Record High #Remittances Sent Globally in #2018

    Remittances to low- and middle-income countries reached a record high in 2018, according to the World Bank’s latest Migration and Development Brief.

    The Bank estimates that officially recorded annual remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries reached $529 billion in 2018, an increase of 9.6 percent over the previous record high of $483 billion in 2017. Global remittances, which include flows to high-income countries, reached $689 billion in 2018, up from $633 billion in 2017.

    Regionally, growth in remittance inflows ranged from almost 7 percent in East Asia and the Pacific to 12 percent in South Asia. The overall increase was driven by a stronger economy and employment situation in the United States and a rebound in outward flows from some Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and the Russian Federation. Excluding China, remittances to low- and middle-income countries ($462 billion) were significantly larger than foreign direct investment flows in 2018 ($344 billion).

    Among countries, the top remittance recipients were India with $79 billion, followed by China ($67 billion), Mexico ($36 billion), the Philippines ($34 billion), and Egypt ($29 billion).

    In 2019, remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries are expected to reach $550 billion, to become their largest source of external financing.

    The global average cost of sending $200 remained high, at around 7 percent in the first quarter of 2019, according to the World Bank’s Remittance Prices Worldwide database. Reducing remittance costs to 3 percent by 2030 is a global target under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 10.7. Remittance costs across many African corridors and small islands in the Pacific remain above 10 percent.

    Banks were the most expensive remittance channels, charging an average fee of 11 percent in the first quarter of 2019. Post offices were the next most expensive, at over 7 percent. Remittance fees tend to include a premium where national post offices have an exclusive partnership with a money transfer operator. This premium was on average 1.5 percent worldwide and as high as 4 percent in some countries in the last quarter of 2018.

    On ways to lower remittance costs, Dilip Ratha, lead author of the Brief and head of KNOMAD, said, “Remittances are on track to become the largest source of external financing in developing countries. The high costs of money transfers reduce the benefits of migration. Renegotiating exclusive partnerships and letting new players operate through national post offices, banks, and telecommunications companies will increase competition and lower remittance prices.”

    The Brief notes that banks’ ongoing de-risking practices, which have involved the closure of the bank accounts of some remittance service providers, are driving up remittance costs.

    The Brief also reports progress toward the SDG target of reducing the recruitment costs paid by migrant workers, which tend to be high, especially for lower-skilled migrants.

    “Millions of low-skilled migrant workers are vulnerable to recruitment malpractices, including exorbitant recruitment costs. We need to boost efforts to create jobs in developing countries and to monitor and reduce recruitment costs paid by these workers,” said Michal Rutkowski, Senior Director of the Social Protection and Jobs Global Practice at the World Bank. The World Bank and the International Labour Organization are collaborating to develop indicators for worker-paid recruitment costs, to support the SDG of promoting safe, orderly, and regular migration.

    Regional Remittance Trends

    Remittances to the East Asia and Pacific region grew almost 7 percent to $143 billion in 2018, faster than the 5 percent growth in 2017. Remittances to the Philippines rose to $34 billion, but growth in remittances was slower due to a drop in private transfers from the GCC countries. Flows to Indonesia increased by 25 percent in 2018, after a muted performance in 2017.

    After posting 22 percent growth in 2017, remittances to Europe and Central Asia grew an estimated 11 percent to $59 billion in 2018. Continued growth in economic activity increased outbound remittances from Poland, Russia, Spain, and the United States, major sources of remittances to the region. Smaller remittance-dependent countries in the region, such as the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, benefited from the sustained rebound of economic activity in Russia. Ukraine, the region’s largest remittance recipient, received a new record of more than $14 billion in 2018, up about 19 percent over 2017. This surge in Ukraine also reflects a revised methodology for estimating incoming remittances, as well as growth in neighboring countries’ demand for migrant workers.

    Remittances flows into Latin America and the Caribbean grew 10 percent to $88 billion in 2018, supported by the strong U.S. economy. Mexico continued to receive the most remittances in the region, posting about $36 billion in 2018, up 11 percent over the previous year. Colombia and Ecuador, which have migrants in Spain, posted 16 percent and 8 percent growth, respectively. Three other countries in the region posted double-digit growth: Guatemala (13 percent) as well as Dominican Republic and Honduras (both 10 percent), reflecting robust outbound remittances from the United States.

    Remittances to the Middle East and North Africa grew 9 percent to $62 billion in 2018. The growth was driven by Egypt’s rapid remittance growth of around 17 percent. Beyond 2018, the growth of remittances to the region is expected to continue, albeit at a slower pace of around 3 percent in 2019 due to moderating growth in the Euro Area.

    Remittances to South Asia grew 12 percent to $131 billion in 2018, outpacing the 6 percent growth in 2017. The upsurge was driven by stronger economic conditions in the United States and a pick-up in oil prices, which had a positive impact on outward remittances from some GCC countries. Remittances grew by more than 14 percent in India, where a flooding disaster in Kerala likely boosted the financial help that migrants sent to families. In Pakistan, remittance growth was moderate (7 percent), due to significant declines in inflows from Saudi Arabia, its largest remittance source. In Bangladesh, remittances showed a brisk uptick in 2018 (15 percent).

    Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa grew almost 10 percent to $46 billion in 2018, supported by strong economic conditions in high-income economies. Looking at remittances as a share of GDP, Comoros has the largest share, followed by the Gambia , Lesotho, Cabo Verde, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria.

    The Migration and Development Brief and the latest migration and remittances data are available at www.knomad.org. Interact with migration experts at http://blogs.worldbank.org/peoplemove

    http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2019/04/08/record-high-remittances-sent-globally-in-2018?cid=ECR_TT_worldbank_EN_EXT
    #remittances #statistiques #chiffres #migrations #diaspora

    #Rapport ici :


    https://www.knomad.org/sites/default/files/2019-04/MigrationandDevelopmentBrief_31_0.pdf

    ping @reka

    • Immigrati, boom di rimesse: più di 6 miliardi all’estero. Lo strano caso dei cinesi «spariti»

      Bangladesh, Romania, Filippine: ecco il podio delle rimesse degli immigrati che vivono e lavorano in Italia. Il trend è in forte aumento: nel 2018 sono stati inviati all’estero 6,2 miliardi di euro, con una crescita annua del 20, 7 per cento.
      A registrarlo è uno studio della Fondazione Leone Moressa su dati Banca d’Italia, dopo il crollo del 2013 e alcuni anni di sostanziale stabilizzazione, oggi il volume di rimesse rappresenta lo 0,35% del Pil.

      Il primato del Bangladesh
      Per la prima volta, nel 2018 il Bangladesh è il primo Paese di destinazione delle rimesse, con oltre 730 milioni di euro complessivi (11,8% delle rimesse totali).
      Il Bangladesh nell’ultimo anno ha registrato un +35,7%, mentre negli ultimi sei anni ha più che triplicato il volume.

      Il secondo Paese di destinazione è la Romania, con un andamento stabile: +0,3% nell’ultimo anno e -14,3% negli ultimi sei.
      Da notare come tra i primi sei Paesi ben quattro siano asiatici: oltre al Bangladesh, anche Filippine, Pakistan e India. Proprio i Paesi dell’Asia meridionale sono quelli che negli ultimi anni hanno registrato il maggiore incremento di rimesse inviate. Il Pakistan ha registrato un aumento del +73,9% nell’ultimo anno. Anche India e Sri Lanka sono in forte espansione.

      Praticamente scomparsa la Cina, che fino a pochi anni fa rappresentava il primo Paese di destinazione e oggi non è nemmeno tra i primi 15 Paesi per destinazione delle rimesse.
      Mediamente, ciascun immigrato in Italia ha inviato in patria poco più di 1.200 euro nel corso del 2018 (circa 100 euro al mese). Valore che scende sotto la media per le due nazionalità più numerose: Romania (50,29 euro mensili) e Marocco (66,14 euro). Tra le comunità più numerose il valore più alto è quello del Bangladesh: ciascun cittadino ha inviato oltre 460 euro al mese. Anche i senegalesi hanno inviato mediamente oltre 300 euro mensili.

      https://www.ilsole24ore.com/art/notizie/2019-04-17/immigrati-boom-rimesse-piu-6-miliardi-all-estero-strano-caso-cinesi-spa
      #Italie #Chine #Bangladesh #Roumanie #Philippines

  • #Columbia_University cancels panel on Turkey due to pressure from Turkish government”

    Colombia University effectively canceled a panel discussion on Turkey two days before the event, citing “academic standards.”

    Steven A. Cook, one of the panelists and a senior fellow for Middle East & Africa studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, has tweeted that the decision was made after “the university came under pressure form Turkish government.

    “Disappointed to learn that @Columbia ‘s Provost effectively canceled this panel two days before the event, citing “academic standards.” One can only assume that the university came under pressure form the govt of #Turkey and its supporters. Terrible precedent,” Cook tweeted.

    The panel discussion was about the Turkish governments increasing authoritarian tendencies and human rights violations in the country since a coup attmept on July 15, 2016.

    Daniel Balson invited the university administratrion to explain “what (specifically) about this panel does not meet its “academic standards.”

    “This is stunning – @Columbia should be pressed to explain what (specifically) about this panel does not meet its “academic standards”. If they think the facts are wrong they should publicly correct. Too serious a precedent to ignore. @KachaniS, @ColumbiaVPTL @ColumbiaSpec,” Balson tweeted.

    https://turkeypurge.com/columbia-university-cancels-panel-on-turkey-due-to-pressure-from-turkis
    #université #Turquie #censure #liberté_académique #liberté_d'expression #USA #Etats-Unis #standards_académiques