Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Iraq everyday terrorism and resistance

Baghdad, Iraq today. The capital of Iraq for several centuries, the city of on the Tigris has long been known as the centre of learning. Baghdad has experienced some reconstruction over the past 13 years along with occasional peace in well off neighbourhoods. Iraqi society's unity and tranquillity is still overshadowed by near daily in bombings and violence.


On Saturday, Baghdad experienced a nearly daily occurrence in the city long known for learning and knowledge. A gruesome and unimaginable terrorist attack killed 250 innocent Iraqis as they went about their day at a shopping centre. Yes, a shopping centre. A public place where men, women and children are generally safe and at least allowed to be cocooned from the ongoing conflicts and terrors happening elsewhere. ISIS and its supporters feed off of Iraqi fears and trauma. It has grown big by terrorising ordinary people and taunting governments especially politicians. After this recent, horrific terror attack, the Iraqi interior minister resigned out of both frustration and lost. The fact that ISIS remains in Mosul has equally enraged both Iraqi civilians and the government. The army has vowed to take back Mosul with or without the United States and NATO's help. Iraqi Kurds have been doing their part to liberate themselves from ISIS and keep the determined foot soldiers of the organization from regaining Kurdish towns along the Iraq-Syrian border and inside Syria itself. For this, Turkey has been nervously keeping watch on Syrian Kurds who are independently in control of their local towns and regional governments on the Syrian-Turkish borders. Iraqi Kurds through the YPK, Peshmerga which still exists and other local Kurdish militias have done well to keep themselves ISIS-free and freed Yazidi women and children especially girls from ISIS brutality and slavery.


Cradle of Civilization's reoccurring pain

For years, Iraqis regardless of religion and ethnicity have protested against the Iraqi government's lack of courage and backbone to put a final end to ongoing terrorist attacks that have turned the once secular, multiethnic and stable country into the Western media's poster child of instability and terror: a Somalia 2.0. The 2003 American-UK invasion of Iraq that was condemned by the rest of the world (even Russia and China) had transformed Iraqi society from a mixed religious society that had one of the high education rates of women in the Arab World into a society where violence is now tenfold what it was in 2003. Not since 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war (US supported the Iraqi government against Iran), have Iraqis experienced constant fear and trauma. The invasion (alongside de-baathificaton that led to dismantling the entire Iraqi army) also created enormous sectarian violence that was almost non existence even under Saddam Hussein. Neighbourhoods and schools that were free of banning and marginalizing people based on being Shia, Sunni, non religious, etc now question if their former neighbours are truly Muslim or if they belong to a Shia or Sunni militia that will betray them. There are Iraqis who have been calling for national unity and to permanently end the sectarianism which has hurt the country in multiple ways. People have forgotten that Iraq and Syria have historically been secular throughout their recent histories. Libya too was and in some cases still is secular and religion plays a minimal part in people's public lives. Egypt has famously wrestled with becoming a religious state over keeping itself secular. If Egypt is ever captured by ISIS, the consequences will ripple across Africa and by felt by its immediate neighbours. ISIS has been using the chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya to build up its supporter basis and as justification for terrorism across the world.





Over the past month, the Iraqi national army has been succeeding in pushing ISIS foot soldiers and takfiri cousins out of Fallujah, Iraq and it's surrounding areas. Fallujah is most remembered for being one of the major Iraqi cities that suffered heavy bombing from American and British armies during the Battle of Fallujah and the second battle. Half the city was bombed to the ground and hundreds of civilians killed. After the battle the remaining residents and IDP Iraqis were indirectly blamed for their city's destruction. They were also guilty by association for having supported Iraqi militants resisting the Anglo-American occupation of their city and country as many resistance groups who have been labelled as terrorists by hegemonic superpower in the past. As a double insult, depleted Uranium was also used in the bombing of Fallujah leading to continual birth defect in newborn babies and high number of cancer cases in Iraqi children and parents that are still ongoing. This is not the first time that Iraqi people have had to suffer from Western bombings and Western backed UN sanctions. Fallujah, like Baghdad continues to witness on and off again violence from ISIS, Al Qaeda affiliates and local militia groups who like in Libya refuse to give up their weapons fearing reprisals from the same people they had wronged in he past would seek revenge. Caught in the middle of reoccurring chaos is millions of ordinary Iraqis attempting to bring back some normalcy to their everyday lives.

Monday, 25 July 2016

Fragmentation of the EU: Separatists see inspiration from Brexit, self rule revival

Remember many European countries are modern creations that only have been in existed since the mid 19th century. Before that many of Europe's large countries were divided along ethnic, political and language lines not to mention constant wars throughout the centuries.

 Independence Now: Separatists call for their own referendums

Now that the Britain has practice (for once) what it preaches and left the EU, some separatist movements across Europe are seeing it as an inspiration and benefit. Brexit will no doubt change the face of Europe and perhaps fragment the Western World. It's not a joke. In the same way that same Western countries have used regime change and militarized democracy to partition the Middle East and Africa as is the case in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen and Sudan. Other countries are looking at Brexit as an opportunity. Far Right Nationalist groups and parties ie Front Nationale, Alternative for Germany and Golden Dawn have already garnered support through an Anti-EU, anti-globalization and anti migration platform that continues to boost their popularity. 



Separatist parties and organization are seeing a strong revival in their push for independence and sovereignty from their respective peoples and territories. There is little Brussels can do to convince the groups to change their minds. Scotland was the obvious go to independence movement whose EU remain vote will set the tone for other overlooked separatist movements. Scotland benefits from it's connection the the EU in terms of finances, economic, trade and travel. Some in the Scottish First party saw the Brexit as a vote mainly supported by England. The Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon announced that a second referendum for Scottish Independence was likely. Also Sturgeon warned she would be able to block a final Brexit vote if Scotland's remain vote is overlooked by Westminster. Growing interest in the independence referendum was given a boast by the Brexit. In Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein leader said that Northern Ireland should reunite with Ireland. If a border poll does occur, it would undo a 95 year old partition and separation for Ireland. Reuniting with Ireland has been one of the main goals with Northern Ireland groups. When Ireland gained independence from Britain in 1921 originally known as the Irish Free State, the then British Empire clanged onto Northern Ireland and partition Ireland along colonial lines. England tried in vain to make Northern Irish people more "English" than Irish as part of Britain's own internal colonialism and even suppressed the teaching and speaking of the Gaelic language. Irish nationalists have been reiterating the need for Irish unity ever since. The Unionist inside the N. Ireland insist that the territory should stay with the UK by suggesting that the union benefits outweighs the future of independence. Northern Ireland wants to remain inside the EU. The 1998 Belfast Agreement aka Good Friday Agreement would allow the majority of population to have a final say on Northern Ireland's status and border. Wales, of all the home countries was more eagered to leave the EU despite receiving a large sum of funding from the EU. Wales has been making its case for independence as well. All three home countries have historically been sovereign countries for centuries until England roped all three into then a newly, bumpy union known as Britain and officially as the United Kingdom in 1707. The tiny island territory of the Isle of Man is concerned about its own small economy that was tied to the EU.

France's ongoing Labour Protests RT News


Continual anti austerity and counter labour reform protests have been ongoing across France and Spain. It has also made more people question the EU's usefulness in fighting for worker and union member rights as well as stopping the highly unpopular trade agreements such as TTIP that would harm local farmers' productions to favour large agricultural corporations. The FN have fed off the protesters' years of anger at the government and EU bureaucracy to win Parliament membership and regional council seats across France.

Identity and heritage matters even in a globalized world


It;s not only the UK's separatist that are finding inspiration from Brexit. Catalonia has seen a public interest in a near future vote for Catalanion independence. Spain may look like a unified country on the surface. However, anyone who has visited Spain or read into the country's history and politics (especially Franco Spain dictatorship), knows that Spanish government has been wrestling with separatists movements in Basque Country, Galicia, Cataluyna, Gilbaltar (a British territory that wanted to remain part of the EU) and has several autonomous regions such as Andalucia who don't feel a strong connection to the Madrid based government. Many of the regions in Spain have their own languages, cultures, traditions and views that are different from Madrilenos and at times trumps a national Spanish identity. As a matter of fact, even the name for the Spanish Language in Spain, "Castellano" is meet with disagreement across the country. Castellano is seen as the overreaching Castilian identity named for the Castille Leone province where Madrid is located that became the basis for the Spanish identity.  Catalunya's case for independence is built not only on identity and language differences but also wealth as it is the wealthiest region in Spain. Some Spanish analysts have suggested that Gibraltar can now be returned to Spain since negations would be done with an independent Britain.



Italy is another Western country that has its own historical separatists threatening to proclaim independence over Rome government's corruption, high unemployment, government inconsistencies austerity measures as in the rest of Southern Europe and irreconcilable differences. Modern day Italy didn't exist 200 years ago. For the majority of Italian history, Italy was made of many independent kingdoms, fiefdoms and city states the most famous being Venetian and Genoese Republics. While Genoa hasn't caused much headache in demanding self determination, the people of Venice have threatened on several occasions to declare an independent Venetian Republic. The Venetians complains extend to the ongoing economic crisis and ignored environmental problems have pushed the city residents away from the national government's lack of empathy for the Italian periphery. Lega Nord with the help of Umberto Bossi has often hinted at Northern Italy (mostly the prosperous Po Valley) separating from the rest of Italy forming its own country called Padania. Lega Nord first gained popular in the 1990s after the fall of the Soviet Union. Without the once powerful, popular Left wing groups and parties to compete or rally support from ordinary Italians during the economic crisis, many far right nationalist organizations and parties are experience popular power. The arrival of new migrants to Italy and other parts of Mediterranean have only strengthened the Italian Far Right. Southern Italy has often been treated as a whole different planet by Northern Italians. South Italy and Sicily is still seen as closer to Africa and Moors (like Malta) than even to Rome because of geography, languages and dialect differences, migration and history. Even now, Africans and Arabs are still landing in Sicily today. It was an ordeal for Italy to be unified into a single country with Italian irredentism and the Risorgimento. Yet, Italian unification occurred. But the separatists have revived the question of historical autonomy and independence.

 

Kosovo who gained its own independence in February 2008, would still like to join the EU in spite of the Brexit. Kosovan leaders have considered beginning the long process in applying to EU ascensation. The Kosovar flag suspiciously bears a slight resemblance to the EU flag. Lega Nord in Italy has already begin it's own signatures drive in hopes of having its own referendum. Lega Nord originally sought to create an independent Padonia Republic in Northern Italy. In Belgium's semi autonomous Flanders Region, Flemish leaders have been holding their breath over the Brexit and worriedly attempting to halt a possible economic hiccup. Flemish nationalists have been threatening to break away from Brussels and Wallonie to its immediate south for years. As the heart of the EU, Belgium has been struggling with its own political cracks, fragmentation and internal separatists. All the way in Asia, Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian majority autonomous region of Azerbaijan has been looking to Europe for inspiration to one day be its own independent nation. Like South Ossetia in Russia, Nagorno-Karabakh is not recognized as a sovereignty territory despite being de-facto independent.  Self proclaimed but Russian occupied South Ossetia in the Republic of Georgia will be having it's own referendum next year to vote on joining Russia. The Ossetians will be reminded of the Brexit as they head towards their vote. Ukraine is worried that the Brexit will hamper visa free travel. Turkish President Erdogan has hinted that the EU could see more exits. Turkey has been trying to join the EU for the last thirty years. Russia has shrugged aside the Brexit for the most part. However, Putin did make a side comment about karma


The UK will not be falling into a black hole because it's no longer part of the European Union. There are many more questions and configurations that will need to be considered. Non EU and EU migrants inside and outside of Britain, the cost of travelling between the UK and Europea, trade agreements, diplomatic relations, freedom of movement, laws of the sea, international aid and help from the EU to Britain and vice versea. Not only that but foreign companies from China, Japan, India, U.S., Nigeria, UAE and beyond operating in the UK will not feel the immediate affects. But long term, the companies and businesses will have to readjust their operations with relation to Britain's non EU membership.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Countries issue travel warnings for U.S. to their citizens

The United States' place in the world. Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. is not the center of the Universe. It is bordered to the North by its neighbor Canada, to the imediate South by Mexico, Cuba, Dominician Republic, Haiti and the Northern part of South America, To its East is Bahams, Bermuda, Greenland and Iceland, far East is Western Europe and parts of West Africa. To it's West is the island state of Hawaii and the often ignored state of Alaska. Keep going West you'll run across Russia, Japan, China, Philippines and Korean Peninsula. From the U.S., It's relatively easy to fly to anywhere in the Caribbean and Central and South America. It is also possible to drive to Mexico and into Guatemala and Belize.

Afrisynergy News: The recent Sterling and Castille murders, Vengeance against the police and international response

The United States often times presents itself around the world as an overly exceptional country in government, culture, multicultural diversity and uniqueness. American society is touted as the eptimote of a modern day country and Democratic system that works. While any other alternative to Democratic system is that works and fits the needs of countries' own societies than American style Democracy (think secular politics of Syria, Iraq, Libya and most of North Africa pre-Arab Spring and wars, socialist people's movements in Venezuela ie Chavismo, Cuba, Bolivia, Brazil or China's capitalist communist politics) maligned by the United States and its allies as an ultimate failure. For all the boosting, the United States is not free from international travel warnings, criticisms or responses to  the recent ongoing police terrorism and violence that plagues American society. People and governments around the world do pay close attention the violence occurring within the United States. There are many writers and analysts outside the U.S. who are not awe struck by American exceptionalism. Many international observers are aware of the U.S.' double standards in it's human rights violations of its own citizens, Child poverty (one of the highest in the Global North), foreign policy, racism and police brutality. The United Nations Human Rights Commission, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Defence for Children International and Rights of the Child have constantly condemned the use of excessive force by American police against unarmed American civilians especially African American men, children and women as well as other Americans.

Bahamian Ministry of Foreign Affairs issues U.S. travel warning to Bahamians



In response to the back to back killings of Philandro Castille in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 6th and Alton Sterling in Baton Rogue, Louisiana on July 5th , three countries Bahamas, UAE, Bahrain and New Zealand have issued travel warnings for the United States for their citizens going on vacation to the USA. Ironically they are all U.S. allies and have generally good relations with the United States. The Caribbean nation of the Bahamas was the first country to issue a travel warning for its citizens and expats travelling to the U.S. or already in the country. The U.S. is a popular destination for many Caribbean Latin American travellers especially Florida's Miami and Orlando areas where many cruises to the Caribbean are based. The warning is the standard advisory given to all international travelers aross the world. The Bahaman ministry warned Bahamians to avoid demonstrations and protests, be cautious around the police and not get caught up in the politics. In a country where 90% of the population is Black or African descendant, the travel warning is understandable and justifiable.

Emirati man in Ohio for medical treatment mistaken as member of ISIS Avon, Ohio (Police Body camera footage) provided by ABC 5 New Avon



 Medical tourism and mistaken identity encounter

 The United Arab Emirates travel warning included a unique advisory for it's citizens going to the U.S. that traditional Emirati clothing (kandura and arghel or the abaya/jaballa) recognized the world over shouldn't be worn or less visible if Emirati travellers are out and about in the U.S. The clothing advice is meant to avoid causing fear from the police or an unnecessary escalation. An Emirati businessman Ahmed al Menhali who had travelled to Avon, Ohio for medical treatment for his heart problem was manhandled by the local police after a panicking clerk called the Avon police at a local Fairfield Inn (lodging) foolishly assuming that Menhali had pledged alliance to ISIS after he spoke in Arabic on his phone and wore white Khaleeji flowing grown and kaffiyeh. The clerk didn't know Arabic to understand what he was saying. Thanks to the mainstream media, odinary Americans have associated tourists such as Menhali, (UAE is one of the safest countries in the region) from the wider Middle East with ISIS and terrorism. Menhali was hospitalized after fainting following his brief arrest. When it comes to international incidents such as the police arrest of Menhali in Avon, no matter how small, the U.S. government (in this it is the city gov) tends to being more diplomatic to international tourists: ensuring their safety compared to citizens to avoid even the smallest media attention/outrage from abroad. Three days later, Mr. Menhali received an apology from the City Mayor of Avon in a small meeting following the Emirati government's critique of U.S. racism towards it's citizen and wider Arab and Muslim travellers. Bahrain has issued travel warnings also concerning Bahraini citizens' interactions with American police officers and demonstrations. Both countries remind their citizens to be aware of islamophobia rising again as a result of the recent Orlando Shootings.

The New Islamophobia in the U.S. by author Reza Aslan



PS: Often when American citizens, Japanese or Britons are in the same situation abroad, the governments will mention not to make themselves noticeable while out or to keep a low profile.