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Western Sahara: Round 3 into the final solution

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A few days ago, there were the second Geneva talks clarified the discussion of the parties to the dispute of Western Sahara as a solution to the issue of a permanent and rational resolution. due to the debate, the Kingdom of Morocco was involved in clarifying the principle of self-determination during the second round table.

Due to this reaction, as emphasized by the Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, “to make clear the deception that were followed by this demand, and to put an end to the dreams and stories promoted by certain parties,” maintaining that combining the principle of self-determination of the independence of the southern provinces, “was misleading people.” Horst Kohler, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, through the second round, to dedicate the necessary details to resolve this issue in accordance with Security Council resolutions, in accordance with Article II of Resolution 2440, which confirms that the solution must be rational and workable; One to the referendum, which makes the Moroccan position clear; that the Moroccan side fully confirmed that nobody during the two days of discussions provided evidence that self-determination in accordance with UN Security Council resolutions means the referendum, restating that there is no solution to the Western Sahara dispute except within the framework of the Kingdom of Moroccan sovereignty. The second of the discussions is a strive to his realistic suggestion, which is in agreement with the call of the international community to seek an agreed negotiated resolution. This is the call that seeks its purpose in the Kingdom’s proposal to authorize autonomy to the southern provinces, which is compatible with the principle of self-determination, It means A solution within the framework of self-government.

The parties tackled the principle of self-determination towards the second round table, and the Moroccan side highlighted that the discussion was an opportunity to make everybody bear their responsibilities and decisions. This provided to exposing the false rhetoric being sponsored in the camps, insisting that self-determination is to grant the population the right to encourage Economic and developmental level while upholding the specificity of the cultural area, which is guaranteed by the proposal for autonomy. The second round ended in a clear divergence of aspects, which made the Kingdom of Morocco regret his failure to respond to the practical proposals he proposes; but highlighted by the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Rabat “has confidence that the regional circumstances and the aspirations of the peoples of the five countries in the Arab Maghreb Union, and requested by the partners, whether Africans or Europeans, will promote confidence-building and deal constructively with dispute within the framework of the vision towards regional integration.”

Morocco’s participation in the meeting was in accordance with well-known references and principles related to sovereignty over all its soil, to touch a final solution to this regional dispute in the line with the second paragraph of Security Council Resolution 2440 adopted last October, stressing that autonomy is the rational and practical solution based on consensus and guarantor of permanence In keeping with the Moroccan position expressed, Sidi Hamdi Ould Errachid, the head of the Sakia El Hamra eyes, pointed out the presence of the representatives of the southern regions in a meeting UN envoy, highlighting that “their participation was largely and interfered in all the agenda points to confirm that the static representative expressed their representatives legitimate, and stressed that the development model elements launched by Morocco created a great dynamic in the southern provinces of the Kingdom.”

A member of the Moroccan delegation said that the international community represented by the UN Security Council and the United Nations is fully aware that “the representative of the Sahara population is confined to its legitimate representatives elected by the three southern regions and civil society representative Fatima Adly.”

He added: “We had a clear opinion as the key actor in the formulation of the Moroccan position, as representatives of the population that chose us through the free and fair choice, which was included in the ballot boxes in the region, which represents 80 percent, compared to the fifth represented by the inhabitants of Tindouf camps.” ” The kingdom of Morocco has been positively involved in the path of the United Nations, which is based on clear foundations linked to its territorial integrity and sovereignty over all its soil, in a constructive spirit to touch a final solution to the regional conflict.” This qualifies us as elected representatives to sustain a fixed position Southern provinces, Seen from its attachment to the territorial integrity of the Kingdom. “

The spokesman added that “the presence of the heads of the southern regions to impose the legitimate representation of the Saharans in the Sahara Hall in the talks,” he continued: “We fully expressed a comprehensive outlook of the recent development boom in the region and we also devoted the vision of the future to find a final political solution in accordance with a development approach holding from United Nations tendencies and resolutions concerning the Western Sahara conflict “.

 In Addition, The so-called Secretary-General of the Frente POLISARIO, Ibrahim Ghali, supported the African Union, the United Nations and the Kingdom of  Morocco to “hasten the long-awaited referendum on the self-determination of the African nation”. “If this is not done, the continent will not achieve the full freedom of its African population, Pretoria, which observed the presence of 15 African states within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), in back of the Frente POLISARIO, and after the “Geneva 2” round which resulted without any encouraging outcomes to sustain the international dialogue leading to a political resolution consistent between the conflicting parties .

Yet, ” The South African Development Community (SADC) conference in Pretoria is an indication of outstanding decisions, like the International Court of Justice (ICJ) (1975), which declines Moroccan sovereignty over the Sahara,” Ghali said. “The two neighboring states are distinct.” The conference was an accurate message to the Kingdom of Morocco and the European Union ” to end the grabbing and illegal exploitation of the natural resources of the country,” Ghali said, adding that ” the Sahara choices and aspirations are clear and firm in achieving freedom,”

In this regard, analyst and expert on the issues of Western Sahara pointed out that the explanations of Ibrahim Ghali and other leaders of the Polisario Front are for internal propaganda consumption, Because the reality exceeded the Polisario; the United Nations is surely talking about a realistic political resolution, ” emphasizing that ” the solution to such specifications is not represented by the referendum of self-determination, but represented by the solution proposed by the Kingdom of Morocco, the autonomy. “

This is quite superficial with regards to what is expected of Morocco after the “Geneva 2 Round Table”, there are two main aspects; the first reveals to the next Security Council resolution, which will be preceded by the report of the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the development of the political process and the scope of their conformity with Security Council resolutions, Also the entire process will be the key point of a comprehensive determination because it was the theme of discussion, negotiation especially the MINURSO and the financial support given by the United States of America, conditional on the disruption of the rigid situation in the file. The second aspect highlighted that after the Security Council resolution will push Kohler to plan for the tour {The Third Round} of the round table to be held next summer, which will be based on a new resolution, new outcomes of the Security Council, and the progress that may be in the second round, As noted, We are in front of political developments that concern the Western Sahara file, and the upcoming days will spell out the direction of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, At the level of the round table that was bet on them to enter into serious negotiations on the basis of a rational political solution.

To sum up, with a new chapter turned into the second round of talks, Horst Koehler, the Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, showed the results of two days of discussion by the parties concerned, indicating “the enthusiasm of serious commitment of the participating parties” and stressing confidence-building to make successive progress through resolving one of the oldest African dispute” Western Sahara ” the conflict of , ; Which calls for a third round, for which no date has been set. 

Jamal Ait Laadam, Specialist in and North African Studies and Western Sahara Issue, a Ph.D. fellow in Jilin University School of Public Affairs

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Middle East

Erdogan’s Calamitous Authoritarianism

Dr.Alon Ben-Meir

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Turkey’s President Erdogan is becoming ever more dangerous as he continues to ravage his own country and destabilize scores of states in the Middle East, the Balkans, and North Africa, while cozying up to the West’s foremost advisories. Sadly, there seems to be no appetite for most EU member states to challenge Erdogan and put him on notice that he can no longer pursue his authoritarianism at home and his adventurous meddling abroad with impunity.

To understand the severity of Erdogan’s actions and ambitions and their dire implications, it suffices to quote Ahmet Davutoglu, formerly one of Erdogan’s closest associates who served as Minister of Foreign Affairs and subsequently Prime Minister. Following his forced resignation in May 2016 he stated “I will sustain my faithful relationship with our president until my last breath. No one has ever heard — and will ever hear — a single word against our president come from my mouth.”

Yet on October 12, Davutoglu declared “Erdogan left his friends who struggled and fought with him in exchange for the symbols of ancient Turkey, and he is trying to hold us back now…. You yourself [Erdogan] are the calamity. The biggest calamity that befell this people is the regime that turned the country into a disastrous family business.”

The stunning departure of Davutoglu from his earlier statement shows how desperate conditions have become, and echoed how far and how dangerously Erdogan has gone. Erdogan has inflicted a great calamity on his own people, and his blind ambition outside Turkey is destabilizing many countries while dangerously undermining Turkey’s and its Western allies’ national security and strategic interests.

A brief synopsis of Erdogan’s criminal domestic practices and his foreign misadventures tell the whole story.

Domestically, he incarcerated tens of thousands of innocent citizens on bogus charges, including hundreds of journalists. Meanwhile he is pressuring the courts to send people to prison for insulting him, as no one can even express their thoughts about this ruthlessness. Internationally, Erdogan ordered Turkish intelligence operatives to kill or smuggle back to the country Turkish citizens affiliated with the Gülen movement.

He regularly cracks down on Turkey’s Kurdish minority, preventing them from living a normal life in accordance with their culture, language, and traditions, even though they have been and continue to be loyal Turkish citizens. There is no solution to the conflict except political, as former Foreign Minister Ali Babacan adamantly stated on October 20: “… a solution [to the Kurdish issue] will be political and we will defend democracy persistently.”

Erdogan refuses to accept the law of the sea convention that gives countries, including Cyprus, the right to an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for energy exploration, while threatening the use of force against Greece, another NATO member no less. He openly sent a research ship to the region for oil and gas deposits, which EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called “extremely worrying.”

He invaded Syria with Trump’s blessing to prevent the Syrian Kurds from establishing autonomous rule, under the pretext of fighting the PKK and the YPG (the Syrian Kurdish militia that fought side-by-side the US, and whom Erdogan falsely accuses of being a terrorist group).

He is sending weapons to the Sunni in northern Lebanon while setting up a branch of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) in the country—a practice Erdogan has used often to gain a broader foothold in countries where it has an interest.

While the Turkish economy is in tatters, he is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the Balkans, flooding countries with Turkish imams to spread his Islamic gospel and to ensure their place in his neo-Ottoman orbit. Criticizing Erdogan’s economic leadership, Babacan put it succinctly when he said this month that “It is not possible in Turkey for the economic or financial system to continue, or political legitimacy hold up.”

Erdogan is corrupt to the bone. He conveniently appointed his son-in-law as Finance Minister, which allows him to hoard tens of millions of dollars, as Davutoglu slyly pointed out: “The only accusation against me…is the transfer of land to an educational institution over which I have no personal rights and which I cannot leave to my daughter, my son, my son-in-law or my daughter-in-law.”

Erdogan is backing Azerbaijan in its dispute with Armenia (backed by Iran) over the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, which is inhabited by ethnic Armenians and has been the subject of dispute for over 30 years.

He is exploiting Libya’s civil strife by providing the Government of National Accord (GNA) with drones and military equipment to help Tripoli gain the upper hand in its battle against Khalifa Haftar’s forces. Former Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said in February 2020 that “The unclear Turkish foreign policy by Erdogan may put Turkey in grave danger due to this expansion towards Libya.”

He is meddling in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an effort to prevent them from settling their dispute unless Israel meets Palestinian demands. He granted several Hamas officials Turkish citizenship to spite Israel, even though Hamas openly calls for Israel’s destruction.

He betrayed NATO by buying the Russian-made S-400 air defense system, which seriously compromises the alliance’s technology and intelligence.

He is destabilizing many countries, including Somalia, Qatar, Libya, and Syria, by dispatching military forces and hardware while violating the air space of other countries like Iraq, Cyprus, and Greece. Yakis said Turkey is engaging in a “highly daring bet where the risks of failure are enormous.”

Erdogan supports extremist Islamist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas, and an assortment of jihadists, including ISIS, knowing full well that these groups are sworn enemies of the West—yet he uses them as a tool to promote his wicked Islamic agenda.

He regularly blackmails EU members, threatening to flood Europe with Syria refugees unless they support his foreign escapades such as his invasion of Syria, and provide him with billions in financial aid to cope with the Syrian refugees.

The question is how much more evidence does the EU need to act? A close look at Erdogan’s conduct clearly illuminates his ultimate ambition to restore much of the Ottoman Empire’s influence over the countries that were once under its control.

Erdogan is dangerous. He has cited Hitler as an example of an effective executive presidential system, and may seek to acquire nuclear weapons. It’s time for the EU to wake up and take Erdogan’s long-term agenda seriously, and take severe punitive measures to arrest his potentially calamitous behavior. Sadly, the EU has convinced itself that from a geostrategic perspective Turkey is critically important, which Erdogan is masterfully exploiting.

The EU must be prepared take a stand against Erdogan, with or without the US. Let’s hope, though, that Joe Biden will be the next president and together with the EU warn Erdogan that his days of authoritarianism and foreign adventurism are over.

The views expressed are those of the author.

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Middle East

Syrian Refugees Have Become A Tool Of Duplicitous Politics

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Syrian refugees in Rukban camp

Since the beginning of the conflict in Syria the issue of Syrian refugees and internally displace has been the subject of countless articles and reports with international humanitarian organizations and countries involved in the Syrian conflict shifting responsibility for the plight of migrants.

The most notorious example of human suffering put against political games is the Rukban refugee camp located in eastern Syria inside the 55-km zone around Al-Tanf base controlled by the U.S. and its proxies.

According to official information, more than 50,000 people, mostly women and children, currently live in the camp. This is a huge number comparable to the population of a small town. The Syrian government, aware of the plight of people in Rukban, has repeatedly urged Washington to open a humanitarian corridor so that everyone can safely return home. However, all such proposals were ignored by the American side. U.S. also refuse to provide the camp with first aid items. Neighbouring Jordan is inactive, too, despite Rukban being the largest of dozens other temporary detention centres in Syria, where people eke out a meager existence.

At the same time, the problem is not only refugee camps. Syria has been at war for a decade. The country’s economy has suffered greatly over this period, and many cities have been practically grazed to the ground. Moreover, the global coronavirus epidemic didn’t spare Syria and drained the already weakened economy even more. However, Damascus’ attempts of post-war reconstruction and economic recovery were undermined by multiple packages of severe sanctions imposed by the U.S. At the same time, U.S.-based human rights monitors and humanitarian organizations continue to weep over the Syrian citizens’ misery.

The situation is the same for those refugees who stay in camps abroad, especially in countries bordering on Syria, particularly Jordan and Turkey. Ankara has been using Syrian citizens as a leverage against the European states in pursuit of political benefits for a long time. No one pays attention to the lives of people who are used as a change coin in big politics. This is equally true for Rukban where refugees are held in inhuman conditions and not allowed to return to their homeland. In those rare exceptions that they are able to leave, refugees have to pay large sums of money that most of those living in camp are not able to come by.

It’s hard to predict how long the Syrian conflict will go on and when – or if – the American military will leave the Al-Tanf base. One thing can be said for sure: the kind of criminal inaction and disregard for humanitarian catastrophe witnessed in refugee camps is a humiliating failure of modern diplomacy and an unforgivable mistake for the international community. People shouldn’t be a tool in the games of politicians.

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Middle East

Is Syria Ready For Second Wave Of COVID-19?

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©UNICEF/Delil Souleiman

Despite a relative calm that has been holding on the front lines of the Syrian conflict since the beginning of the year, Syria had to face other equally – if not more – serious challenges. The spread of COVID-19 virus in the wake of a general economic collapse and a health care system battered by nine years of war threatened Syria with a death toll as a high as that of resumed military confrontation. However, the actual scale of the infection rate turned out to be less than it was expected considering the circumstances.

Although Syria did not have much in resources to mobilize, unlike some other countries that were slow to enforce restrictions or ignored them altogether, the Syrian authorities did not waste time to introduce basic measures that, as it became obvious in hindsight, proved to be the most effective. A quarantine was instituted in the areas controlled by the government, all transportation between the provinces was suspended, schools and universities were temporarily closed and face masks were made obligatory in public spaces.

As a result, official data puts the number of people infected with COVID-19 in the government areas at modest 4,457 while 192 people died of the infection. In turn, the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria announced that 1,998 people contracted the virus. The data on the infection rate in the opposition-controlled areas in Idlib and Aleppo is incomplete, but the latest number is 1,072. Compared to the neighboring Turkey with  9,000 of deaths of COVID-19, Syria seems to be doing relatively well.

Tackling the virus put the already embattled health care system under enormous strain. Syrian doctors are dealing with an acute shortage of medicines and equipment, and even hospital beds are in short supply. Over 60 medical workers who treated COVID-19 patients died.

The situation is worsened even further by the economic hardships, not least due to the sanctions imposed on Syria by the U.S. and the European states. Syrian hospitals are unable to procure modern equipment necessary for adequate treatment of COVID-19, most importantly test kits and ventilators.

The economic collapse exposed and aggravated many vulnerabilities that could have been easily treated under more favorable circumstances. A grim, yet fitting example: long queues in front of bakeries selling bread at subsidised prices, that put people under the risk of catching the virus. Many Syrians are simply unable to avoid risking their health in these queues, as an average income is no longer enough to provide for a family.

Moreover, despite a nation-wide information campaign conducted with the goal of spreading awareness about means of protections against COVID-19 like social distancing and mask-wearing, for many Syrians the disease is still stigmatized, and those who contracted it are often too ashamed to go to a hospital or even confess to their friends. As consequence, a substantial number of cases goes unreported.

With the second wave of COVID-19 in sight, it is of utmost importance that the work of health care professionals is supported, not subverted by the citizens. Otherwise Syria – and the world – may pay too high a price.

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