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International Law

State anti-semitism: Doctors’ plot as an abandoned holocaust amid the Stalin’s Russia

Nargiz Hajiyeva

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In today’s world, why does the world community always focus on the merely one Holocaust committed by Hitler’s Germany, which was subjected to fervent interests and ideas on disposing “Enlightenment” policy of Nazi Germany amid the Hitler’ regime?!- But indeed, it is undeniable fact that a civil society in different periods observed far more anti-Semitist campaign against Jewish community with their own eyes along the history.

Hence, nefarious anti-Semitism not only did splash its venomous seeds onto merely Nazi Germany but also the Soviet Union during the Stalin’s regime. Basically, when it comes to interpret the anti-Semitist campaign against Jewish society, the most brutal and unbearable anti-Semitist policy after the Nazi Holocaust was the extreme state anti-Semitism which was imposed by Stalin in the shadow of the Soviet Union and caused the unending prosecution and then annihilation of hundreds of people, mainly some of Soviet Leaders and necessary Jewish physicians between 1948 and 1953.

The main conspiracy of state anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union was Doctors’ Plot (Doctors’ Affairs) had historically been scrutinized as the peak point of the nasty anti-Semitic campaign undertaken by Stalinist Russia that mainly premised on the anti-cosmopolitism and anti-Semitist thoughts and ideas. To a large extent, the severe culmination of the vicious anti-Semitic movement was undertaken by Stalin in the last years of his life. In the late periods of 1948, the animosity and anti-cosmopolitan thoughts and ideas against Jewish dwelled in the Soviet Union drastically increased.

The pivotal trigger for the inception of the diabolical plan so-called Doctors’ Plot was the death of Andrei Zhdanov in 1948. Prior to becoming Chief of Central Committee, he was the head of Leningrad party. In the late of 1952, Stalin accused a group of doctors with Jewish background along with Soviet leaders Viktor Abakumov, Ministry of Security and Nikolai Vlasik, head of Kremlin Guards of being in charge with the assassination of A. Zhdanov. The main evidence regarding that event was the letter written by Dr. Lidiia Timashuk who worked in Kremlin hospital cardio-graphic division ignited the mass hysteria and fear between Soviet Leaders and community. The letter written to Stalin alleged that the death of A. Zhdanov was an intentionally medical wrong treatment. Afterwards, a large number of doctors with a Jewish background, (among them Miron Vovsi, Chief internist) alleged in medical malpractice and wrongdoing treatment were committed to interrogation; some of them were arrested and exterminated. On the other hand, the cousin of Miron Vovsi, Solomon Mikhoels, who was the director of Moscow State Yiddish Theatre, was assassinated in 1948.

Apparently, they turned into the wrecked victims of Stalin’s evil Jewish conspiracy. Stalin had in mind to involve more and more people around the net of denunciations of multidimensional conspiracy. Thus, the severe condemnations came to include the prestigious Jewish physicians such as Yakov G. Etinger, Sophia Karpai were arrested. After that, Dr. Etinger died in the mysterious condition in prison amid the process of questioning and torture in 1951. In general, nearly 40 physicians with their wives were arrested between 1951 and 1953. As the “Plot” vastly extended, it did include other almost 20 Jews in 1953.

In fact, the Soviet Jewish conspiracy subjected to the implementation of anti-Semitic thoughts and anti-cosmopolitism against Jewish community revealed the internal and external fears and weaknesses of Soviet Union on its own and astounded its political and ideological walls.

The execution of Doctors’ Plot in Stalinist Russia stemmed from varied kinds of political and ideological factors. First and foremost, one of the crucial reasons why Soviet Jewish conspiracy was commenced is the inception of the Cold War with the West. Regarding the fact that although Stalin was characterized as a main rescuer of the Jewish community during the World War II   because he defeated the Nazi Germany in the war and released the Concentration Camps in the Eastern Part of Europe from Nazis. Amid those times, Stalin tried to use the “Jewish” affair as a means of propaganda against the West. It is undeniable fact that prior to the commencement of Soviet Jewish conspiracy, Stalin at initial times supported the foundation of Israel State of Jewish. On the other hand, the major power of the Bolshevik Party was the Jewish leaders.

Thus, by 1948 there were weird fears in Stalin’s mind that Israel Jewish, Jewish community in the Soviet Union, in particular, Russian Jews, assumed as conspirators and enemies were a potential menace to the Soviet State and they were dealing with secret relations with the American and British intelligence, and other security organs in order to break down the political and ideological basis of Soviet Union. According to Stalin’s mind, they were in secret ties with the West and supporting the interests of Jewish solidarity – “International Jewry” Eventually, the initial inception of the anti-Cosmopolitan campaign against Jewish mainly concerned on those ideological episodes.

Another critical reason was the Stalin’s severe health particularly physical condition. Upon the World War II, some kind of physical collapse emerged in his health and that caused him to make weird assumptions against Jewish. In fact, he was drowning in the bizarre thoughts and fears regarding the Jewish solidarity with the State of Israel and the West in order to destroy the Soviet Union. Finally, Stalin’s prevailing aim was to focus on the flawless administration by his own power. Therefore, the main raison d’être why Soviet Jewish were undergone anti-Semitic campaign is based on the strengthening and recombining of Stalin’s regime in an appropriate way.

Stalin not only did want to remove potential political leaders but also sprinkle the fatal seeds of Great Terror and replicate it again. Throughout those periods, he wanted to execute far more multi-dimensional anti-Semitic campaign against Soviet Jewish and turned them into the victims of his final “ethnic purge” campaign.

The death of Stalin on 5th March 1953 caused the dissolution of Doctors’ Plot trials and his multi-dimensional “Day X” plan. Prior to his death what was Stalin’s severe campaign regarding Day X plan?!- The plan was subjected to mass deportations and ethnic cleansing of Jewish people to newly constructed Concentration camps in Asia. After his death, it was revealed that Stalin in his secret speech had ordered the involving of Politburo members in the list of trial and then elimination of them one by one. In fact, Stalin did not have in mind to see far more powerful leaders above him and strive to maintain his long-lasting authority in Soviet administration. It was apparent that Stalin was preparing for the large-scale trials and massive deportations of Jewish people and striving to complete the final questions to the Jewish issue but, his death caused to bring the trials and persecutions to the end.

Upon Stalin’s death Khrushchev, Malenkov, Beria, and other Politburo members were afraid of Stalin’s severe anti-Western policy and they strived to close the relations with the West. Afterwards, Khrushchev came to the power and condemned the Jewish conspiracy so-called Doctor’s Plot as a Stalin’s bogus policy and began to the de-Stalinization campaign in the Soviet Union and unlike Stalin he undertook the new openness strategy with the West. As a consequence, Doctors’ Plot was rejected by other Soviet authorities and doctors arrested were released from prison and rehabilitated. Eventually, Soviet authorities began to implement the process of rehabilitation and exoneration of the Jewish victims.

Up to date, Stalin’s final plan still remains mysterious and the campaign of animosity against Jews in the Soviet Union as an “abandoned Holocaust” engenders some suspicious cases and questions in terms of the plan of mass deportation of Jews from major Russian cities to other parts of the Soviet State. Thereby, this article mainly identifies that the execution against Jewish people is inadmissible that took many lives during the term of mass hysteria, in order that the Doctors’ Plot as a concrete evidence of the violation of human rights, confessed the persecution of many innocent people alleged in medical malpractice and after the Nazi Holocaust it was the second crystal evidence of Soviet’s Holocaust against mankind along the history.

Ms. Nargiz Hajiyeva is an independent researcher from Azerbaijan. She is an honored graduate student of Vytautas Magnus University and Institute D'etudes de Politique de Grenoble, Sciences PO. She got a Bachelor degree with the distinction diploma at Baku State University from International Relations and Diplomacy programme. Her main research fields concern on international security and foreign policy issues, energy security, cultural and political history, global political economy and international public law. She worked as an independent researcher at Corvinus University of Budapest, Cold War History Research Center. She is a successful participator of International Student Essay Contest, Stimson Institute, titled “how to prevent the proliferation of the world's most dangerous weapons”, held by Harvard University, Harvard Kennedy School and an honored alumnus of European Academy of Diplomacy in Warsaw Poland. Between 2014 and 2015, she worked as a Chief Adviser and First Responsible Chairman in International and Legal Affairs at the Executive Power of Ganja. At that time, she was defined to the position of Chief Economist at the Heydar Aliyev Center. In 2017, Ms. Hajiyeva has worked as an independent diplomatic researcher at International Relations Institute of Prague under the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Czech Republic. Currently, she is pursuing her doctoral studies in Political Sciences and International Relations programme in Istanbul, Turkey.

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International Law

A sea and thousands of concerns

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The name of the “Caspian Sea” has been recently heard more than any other time! In the meantime, there are rumors, ambiguities and, of course, concerns that need to be described in the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea which was signed on August 12 in the port city of Aktau, Kazakhstan.

Accordingly, there are some important points that calls for attention and scrutiny. In general, over the past 21 years, several meetings have been held on the Caspian Sea and how the coastal countries should be benefited from its resources. In these meetings, legal, security, economic, and even cultural cooperation were discussed among the littoral countries.

After more than two decades of fraught diplomatic efforts, the five littoral Caspian nations – Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan – agreed upon a legal framework for sharing the world’s largest inland body of water. However, as long as all disputes, especially legal conflicts between the participating countries aren’t resolved, it is impossible to talk about the establishment and continuity of sustainable relations among these countries. It should be noted that over the past two decades, one of the main tasks of our country’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been to direct this case and determine its legal convention.

1) Prolongation of the finalizing process of a case is not undesirable if it’s the result of scrutiny in the legal and technical parts. This is the case with determining the legal dimensions of the Caspian Sea Convention. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we witnessed a kind of transformation in the Caspian legal regime. The Soviet Union was divided into 15 countries.

Consequently, Russia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan each became a separate and independent variable in this equation. Undoubtedly, the transformation of a two-variable legal equation into a “legal-security” multivariable equation is not considered a simple transformation. Therefore, we should understand the complexities of the Caspian case.

The countries of Iran, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Russia and Kazakhstan each have specific demands regarding their share of the Caspian Sea resources. Making a balance between these demands and subsequently realizing them is very difficult and complicated. What is important in this context is to strengthen the “principle of cooperation” among the Caspian coastal nations, and to define joint maritime projects among all neighboring countries to protect the Caspian Sea.

Another point to be taken into consideration here is about the draft of the Caspian Sea Legal Convention and the role of the Foreign Ministry in this process. As mentioned above, the Caspian Sea Case has been open for more than two decades and has not yet come to a complete conclusion. Negotiations held among the Caspian Sea littoral states should distract our attention from the realities.

It should be noted that the establishment of the Caspian Sea Legal Convention is the basis for solving the existing disagreements over the Caspian Sea and defining concrete and conclusive cooperation among the littoral countries. A remarkable part of such security and economic cooperation will be the result of this convention.
In other words, the Convention on the Legal Status of the Caspian Sea can’t and shouldn’t be taken as in the same level with “defining the security and economic cooperation” between the coastal countries. Undoubtedly, the definition of economic, security and even cultural cooperation between the coastal countries depends on the settlement of legal disputes between these countries and setting of a common legal convention.

2) Speaking of controversial issues such as Iran’s 50 percent share of the Caspian Sea, which couldn’t be fulfilled even before the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the creation of false subjectivities in the country, by those who claim to be the representatives of our people, has no result except for the weakening of national security.

his is while the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, had emphasized that “we should recognize there are more important issues that need to be addressed.”
This is a legal process, and one of the main tasks of our country’s diplomacy and foreign policy system is to manage and direct this complex process. Obviously, under the current circumstances, expressing biased and targeted words will only lead to the loss of focus of our country’s diplomatic apparatus on this critical case.

Finally, it should be noted that good commitments were made during the meeting among the countries involved in this case. Today, the ministers of foreign affairs of the Caspian littoral states, unanimously emphasize on the necessity of the absence of foreign forces in this region, which is a positive trend. Moreover, from the statements made by the foreign ministers of the Caspian littoral states, we understand that their cooperation on resolving existing disputes has become faster than before.

However, until all legal conflicts between the Caspian littoral countries are not totally resolved and the Convention of the Caspian Sea Law Convention is not perfectly codified, we can’t think of this legal and strategic case as closed and settled. Therefore, in this critical situation, all efforts should be made so that Iran can benefit most.
It is emphasized here that even one singled legal disagreement should not remain among the players involved in the case. Meanwhile, the mechanism for resolving disputes should be carefully decided. Therefore, while welcoming the settlement of the existing disagreements over the Caspian Sea, there shouldn’t be any haste in completing this process.

First published in our partner Tehran Times

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International Law

Iran has to be very careful in future negotiations on Caspian Sea

Payman Yazdani

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Professor of political science says although the text of the Caspian Sea Treaty signed on August 12, 2018 in Kazakhstan does not define the share of each of the littoral states, Iran has to be very careful in future negotiations.

Five Caspian Sea littoral states signed Caspian Sea Treaty on August 12, 2018 in Kazakhstan. The agreement has created many debates about the share of Iran in Iran.

To know more about the issue we reached out to Nader Entessar Professor Emeritus of Political Science in University of South Alabama.

There are many debates on the legal regime of the Caspian Sea. Some argue that according to the treaties of 1921 and 1940 between Iran and the USSR, the share of Iran equals to 50% of this sea. Is Iran’s share stipulated in those treaties?

Nader Entessar

No.  Neither the 1921 nor the 1940 treaties specify that Iran and the USSR each share 50 per cent ownership of the Caspian Sea.  Both of these treaties talk in general terms about the resources of the Caspian Sea being the used by Iran and the USSR without stipulating the exact ownership of the seabed, boundary delimitation, and other related issues.  We have to remember that these two treaties were signed well before the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was drafted and came into force.  Therefore, the 1921 and 1940 treaties could not have foreseen the complex issues of maritime boundaries that were discussed in UNCLOS.

Based on the international law, what is the legal status of the Caspian Sea after the collapse of the USSR and the sharing of the Caspian Sea by the five littoral states? Some bring about the idea of 20% sharing? Is there any base for this idea in the international law? 

The answer to this question depends on if the Caspian is defined as a “sea” or a “lake.”  If one classifies the Caspian as a lake, then according to international law its resources should be divided equally among the five riparian states.  However, if the Caspian is designated as a sea, then the five littoral states should draw lines extending from their shores to the midway point with littoral neighbors.  This explains why for many years Iran had insisted on defining the Caspian as a lake.  However, it appears that the five littoral states agreed in Aktau that the Caspian is a sea.  That is why some observers have argued that in the final delimitation agreement, Iran will end up getting not only about 13 per cent of the Caspian but also the saltiest and deepest part of it.

Is the share of each of the littoral states from the Caspian Sea defined in the convention signed on August 12 in Kazakhstan?

No, the text of the Caspian Sea Treaty signed on August 12, 2018 in Kazakhstan does not define the share of each of the littoral states.  In so far as Iran is concerned, this issue will have to be determined in a future agreement with Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan.  Iran has to be very careful in future negotiations with its two neighbors because the resulting boundary agreement will determine Iran’s final Caspian share.

What is the main achievement of the Aktau Convention, signed on August 12 in Kazakhstan, in regards to the legal regime and status of the Caspian Sea?

Although some reports have referred to the Caspian Sea Convention as a “landmark agreement,” I don’t view this agreement as such.  Its main achievement was that after more than 20 years of contentious diplomatic efforts, the five littoral states of the Caspian Sea finally agreed on a legal framework for sharing the resources of this significant body of water.  There are some clear and specific agreements in the Convention.  For example, all five littoral states agreed to 15 miles of sovereign waters, plus a further 10 nautical miles of fishing area.  But the wording of the Convention remains vague in many parts of the document, thus delaying divisive decisions that have to be made in future negotiations.

First published in our partner MNA

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International Law

Fifty Years of NPT: Weaknesses over the course

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NPT is a landmark treaty that lies at the heart of non-proliferation regime (NPR). In July 2018, Fiftieth anniversary of the NPT has been celebrated. Theoretically, NPT is committed to the goal of arms control and aims to accomplish the nuclear disarmament. For this purpose, the NPT member states are devoted to pursue three key objectives of the treaty: prevent horizontal proliferation, state’s right to use nuclear energy for peaceful objectives, and nuclear disarmament. However practically due to shifting US’ alliances, major power politics, and growing arms race, the fifty years of NPT has only delivered “Distress, Conflict and discrimination”.

Loopholes and weaknesses exist in NPT which are being misused by Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) and Non-Nuclear Weapons States (NNWS) of the treaty. Despite the NPT’s presence for 50 years and an expansion in its membership, atomic weapons have not been wiped out from the world. All the NWS aim to maintain their nuclear weapon state status due to their security or strategic concerns. Despite the dialogues of arms control, all major and smaller nuclear weapon states are committed to maintaining credible deterrence and strategic balance. Such aspirations of NWS demonstrate that major powers party to the arms control and disarmament treaty are merely the silent spectators to the existing weakened structure of the so called universal treaty of 191 member states due to their own vested interests.

The fifty years of NPT have reaffirmed that the universal mechanism to fight with nuclear proliferation and achieving the objective of disarmament is not adequate for two reasons: first, the international mechanism of non-proliferation has failed to deal with the few potential proliferators; secondly, strategic and security concerns of NWS and NNWS has undermined the Articles I, II, IV, VI and X of the treaty. In spite of the fact that until the 1980s worldwide measures to counteract atomic multiplication were generally more effective, yet in the subsequent years the NPT was not much successful to counter the aspirants of nuclear capability such as North Korea, Iran, Libya and Syria. Due to inadequate mechanism and weaknesses of the treaty, now nine states possess nuclear weapon capability and approximately 30 states have the technical ability to acquire it that is viewed as serious threat to the NPT.

Despite the potentials of non-proliferation, since 1968 with participation of 191 states and various agreements and talks, an efficient and effective regime stresses on pin pointing the weaknesses and restructuring, re-evaluation and reformation of the treaty structure.  The key setback to the NPT is that the articles of the treaty are not fairly adopted by the member states due to which the regime has failed to address the significant objectives of horizontal proliferation, arms control and disarmament. For instance under Article I of the treaty, transfer of nuclear material and technology by NWS to NNWS is prohibited. But treaty has failed to address the transfer of fissile material and nuclear technology from one NWS to another NWS. Such dynamic have increased the insecurities of NNWS and resultantly forces them to take extreme measures to ensure their security .e.g. North Korea. Simultaneously, despite being the member of the treaty, the US has been providing nuclear related technology to India since 1990s under the umbrella of various bilateral treaties or agreements. India-US nuclear agreement and granting of NSG waiver to India is viewed as an intentional measure to help India increase its military buildup to carry forward strategic ambitions of the US in the Asian region.

Furthermore, the US agreement with India for joint production and development of  military related technology such as mini UAVs , distinctive kits for C130 and designing/ development of jet engine technology has played central role in speedy development of India’s nuclear program. Such development is not only the violation of NPT by the US but also compels the NNWS to acquire nuclear capability to address their security concerns.  Right of all states to use nuclear energy for peaceful objectives played key role as bargaining chip and is viewed as major loophole in the treaty due to technical similarities in peaceful use of nuclear technology and technology for military purposes. North Korea Withdrew from the NPT in 2003.Article X of the treaty provides the right to member states to withdraw from the treaty if their sovereignty is on stake. However not accepting the states’ right to withdraw from the treaty is denial of their right of self defence and violation of treaty. Therefore, discriminatory attitude, special treatment and country specific treatment pose serious question mark on the implementation and standards of NPR.It demonstrates that the regime is just an instrument of major powers to fulfill their strategic and foreign policy objectives.

The current doctrines of NWS comprise of elements warfare, which shows hegemonic mindsets of major powers and explains their reluctance to give up on their “nuclear assets”. These factors have posed negative impact on the process of non-proliferation and disarmament. Therefore it can be inferred that the above mentioned scenarios have played central role in keeping Pakistan away from joining the NPR. If NPT states want to attract non-NPT states for the membership of regime then the current member states will have to pursue non-discriminatory approach towards non-proliferation themselves.

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