Thursday, 27 March 2014

World Peace by JFK

The late President John F. Kennedy delivers one of his most memorable speeches on the role of peace and diplomacy in international affairs and conflicts. He gave the speech "World Peace" at American University in Washington, DC in 1963. What makes the speech unique is its universal perspective on peace and respect for other societies without bursting into the usual  American exceptionalism or preaching Democracy at all cost. As a matter of fact, Democracy is never mentioned in this speech. Enjoy.

World Peace JFK at American University

Updates on Crimea and nobody claps for Obama

Updates on Crimea thus far

Ukraine and United States are concerned that Russia might be attempting to start trouble with the Kiev government by entering Eastern Ukraine. Which would be far fetch since Russia is aware any small mistake it makes military or politically could spell trouble for Russia itself. The United States also knows that it can not confront Russia alone if the army were to suddenly jump into Eastern Ukraine. As much as it is a hegemon, President Obama is being cautious when it comes to Ukraine-Russia as he tours the Netherlands including Amsterdam and The Hague to speak on European security and economics among other issues. This is the second visit by a president to Europe in less than a month. VP Biden met with the Polish Prime Minister following the Crimea referendum.

On a lighter note, as President Obama ended his recent speech in The Hague (without visiting the International Criminal Court) no one at the small  press conference clapped. His speech focused on American values, rule of law and individual right. Someone attempted to clap but it quickly fades. Perhaps the journalists were tired of hearing about American exceptionalism or wanted to protest the EU and United States' attitudes toward Crimea-Ukraine situation. Enjoy the clips below. It includes the full speech at The Hague and Amsterdam speech.

Obama: Well this is embarrassing no applause at Press Conference

President Obama's full speech at The Hague Press Conference

Video from Fox News :)

Obama Visits Amsterdam, Netherlands - Full Statement

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

War anxiety in Ukraine and West

The gray areas between Russia and its neighbors highlighting the faultlines between Black and Caspian Seas. Transnistria is coincidentally on Ukraine's border. Map is from Washington Post.

Now that the G-7 summit is wrapping up, Obama has once again turned his attention from economic future of the G-8 and global economy to Ukraine's security. G-7 is regarded as one of the most exclusive meetings of economic and financial leaders ie the important economies in the world. The US and European Union has threatened more sanctions against Russia for its actions in Crimea.

The Ukrainian government including the Parliament is anxiously sounding alarms bells of Russian army's capture of the last Ukrainian base in Crimea. The Ukrainian soldiers have been given an ultimatum to either join Russia or go back to Ukraine. At least one soldier was reported shot during the Russian tanks' entry into a previous Ukrainian base two days ago. Many officials in Kiev government are panicking that the Russian Army, on a high from being able to capture all the remaining Ukrainian bases and have security control in Crimea will now be heading into Eastern Ukraine. The reference to the Russian invasion of Georgia's autonomous region South Ossetia is not lost anyone watching the events closely. Moldova's autonomous region Transnistria has also been following events in Crimea. Transnistria also has Russian soldiers in its territory while Moldova has spent a decade negotiating Transnistria's final status with Russia without experiencing Ukraine's recent geopolitical headaches. Crimean Tatars are also anxiously eyeing the Russian Army to see what its next move is. Both Ukrainian and Russia officials are trying to woo Crimean Tatars in hopes of developing a lasting alliance. In an upsetting move according to the Pentagon, Afghan President Hamid Kazai recently said he supported Russia's Crimean annexation. Russia's other Central Asian neighbors are still anxiously observing the breakdown in Crimea. Russia's next move involves much patience.

Slip of the tongue?

Yulia Tymoshenko, the former Ukrainian Prime Minister was recently caught up in her own Victoria Nuland moment when she candidly and frantically stated to , "We need to grab guns and kill those damn Russians." Tymoshenko was previously jailed for over a year prior to Maidan protests for .

Politicians world wide have allowed what's on their mind to slip out over leaked phone conversations with their peers. Often times they do not consider their consequences until after the fact. Of course when demonized and condemned politicians Putin or Hassan Rouhani are quickly called out for their blatant, occasionally offensive statements. It doesn't matter if the politicians is referring to their counterparts around the world or specific countries. Senator John McCain's laughter over Russia's sanctioning him as persona non grata is treated as comedy. Yet, the media stereotypes of Russia as a reemerging Soviet Union or the German media's framing Putin as the new Hitler will be dismissed as no harm no foul.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Following Ukraine, French far right also rises

Moving Right - France Journeyman Pictures

While the Pravy Sektor is attempting to transform itself from a paramilitary group into Ukraine's newest political party, France is experiencing a rise of support for Front Nationale at the local level in the country. Local politicians from Front Nationale have won several municipal elections even bumping socialists to third place in Marseilles, one of France's cosmopolitan cities to home to a multiethnic residents formed by immigration. The French media is calling the wins historic on multiple levels. The FN first came to prominence in Franc in 1982 under Jean Marie Le Pen, populist politician who rallied the more right wing and nationalistic French around a political platform of stricter immigration policies, pioneered Euroscepticism in French politics, has promoted nationalism and protectionist economic policy. Le Pen and his party soon influenced mainstream French politics throughout the 1980s as debates about immigration, EU integration and France's future as a international power continued to unfold. The FN were rising around the same time Ronald Reagan and Republican Party alongside Margaret Thatcher, UK's Conservatives and Tories were enjoying popular support in their respective countries. Prior to the Front Nationale, Le Pen worked on French nationalist politician campaigns Jean-Louis Tixier-Vignancour for the 1965 French Presidential election. Charles De Gualle, the popular and decorated World War 2 hero of Free French Army ended up winning the elections. However, it served as a launching point for Le Pen's political ambitions. Le Pen would run for French presidency nearly five times before ending his quest in the 1990s. French right wing has continuously played a prominent rule in French political life from Dreyfus Affair to the French government's quest to retain its position as a power force in the world.

Rise of the National Front or Front Nationale

The origins and popularity of the FN are explored

The Front Nationale has shifted its policies and views over the decades from stricter immigration to anti-immigrant and xenophobic policies as French youth and adults struggle with unemployment and deal with the blowback from the global economic recession. Like the United States or the PIGS, the French economy hasn't experience new growth or strengthening of industries that are experiencing lay offs of factory, manufacturing and automotive workers. The financial markets are hiccuping in the same manner as Wall Street. Jean Marie Le Pen's daughter Marine Le Pen has sparked regional to national support and interest for the FN. Marine Le Pen, the current leader and heir to the party has tried to reinvent the party as the party that not only fights for the people but is stronger in terms of carrying out immigration policy and reviving the economy compared to their socialist and liberal counterparts. A zero tolerant immigration policy, racist rants and coded language aimed at blaming Roma people (or gypsies), the European Union and French people of African and Arab descendant for France's economic woes, cracking welfare state system and rising crimes has won Front Nationale supporters among right wing, nationalistic and racist dissatisfied French. Local human rights organizations such as SOS Racisme have rightfully condemned the Front Nationale for its past and recent policies aimed at ostracizing Liberal and socialists and alienating if not scapegoating French people of immigrant background. As in Ukraine, the right wing have won allies with nationalists and frustrated citizens fed up with the government's policies. As its already been mentioned, European countries even in the European Union are seeing their popularity surge at the expense of some citizens.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ex Australian PM: "US thinks intl law for inferior nations"

Is International Law for everyone but the United States?

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser (served 1975-1983) speaks on American exceptionalism, how the US sees International Law and the role of double standards in diplomacy and international conflicts. Enjoy. Compliments of Worlds Apart. 

US Foreign Policy blowback
American Foreign Policy is notorious for hypocrisy. The US has consistently been selective on when and where to apply international law in diplomacy and international conflicts.

What I've learned about US Foreign Policy

Impending peace in Central African Republic

Youssou N'Dour performing at Solidarite Centrafrique

After delaying earlier deployments for a European Union squad alongside the AU and French troops, the EU stated today that a UN peacekeeping forces could be on the ground in Central African Republic in late April. This is somewhat positive news for the UN and people on the ground in Bangui and other towns. However it is a little too late. IDPs and refugees are either across the border or still sheltering at Bangui's airport. The French troops and African Union soldiers are still searching for hidden weapon caches as they try to disarm Anti Balaka rebels. Chadian soldiers recently discovered a massive cache of weapons on their disarment patrols in Bangui. The weapons cache has begged the question where the weapon supplies' origins lie. Why is it more weapons appear even with Operation Sangaris and disarmament in Bangui and other Central African towns? A recent conference hosted by a German political think tank "Ebert Stiftung" has bemoaned Africa's lack of capacity to manage conflicts. Namely the region's main continental arterty meant to provide peace and security in regional conflicts. For the record, the African Union or ECOWAS have had success in providing security and protection for ordinary Liberians and Sierra Leones during the two countries' civil wars a decade ago. The AU has also been keeping the peace in Darfur under its mandated peacekeeping mission . President Catherine Samba-Panza who is visiting Gabonese leader Ali Bongo Ondima has called on the people to disarm for the country and society's sake. Some Central Africans are anxious about the prospects for peace while others are not holding their breaths. Disarmament will finally bring relief to many displaced Central Africans awaiting to return home or reunite with their families after experiencing months of hell on earth. It will take a long time for the nation as a whole to heal. As any country who has experienced a devastating war can attest. 

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Veneto's Independence referendum goes unnoticed

One of Italy's wealthiest regions Veneto where the famed port city of Venice is located, has taken a note from Crimea's successful referendum and declared its attempt to succeed from Rome and Italy. The Venetians have long complained that they should not have to continue providing financial support or monetarily aid to the far way Italian capital Rome and Southern Italian regions experiencing economic recession. The Venetian region has a long history of sustaining itself through seafaring and land trade. After hundreds of years, the region still relies on the sea and tourism as part of its economy. A unique culture, dialect of Italian and its rich regional history also sets Veneto apart from its neighbors. Italy as a nation is a recent creation. Prior to Italian unification in 1871, Veneto and other regions were either republics, monarchies or duchies not ruled by a central government. The Veneto region was its own independent country known as the Republic of Venice or Venetian Republic for over a 1000 years until 1797 when it was incorporated into Austrian and Italian territory following the republic's defeat during the Napoleonic Wars. Many Venice residents and peoples living across Veneto region are excited about the possibly of a formal referendum happening on Friday March 21st. Western media hasn't paid too much attention to the week long referendum poll and vote. The focus is still on future prospects in Crimea. Ironically, Italy just recently celebrated territorial unification last week. Italy's economic recession has pushed other regions such as Padania or Po Valley regions (home to industries, right wing Northern League and another wealthy region), Sicily, Sardinia and autonomous region of South Tyrol (with its own unique culture and German language) towards reviving their decades long separatist stance into reality. All these regions have also been threatening Rome with secession.

Europe's active separatist movement
Even with European Union and future prospects of new members joining an enlarged union, many centuries old seperatist movements are bubbling to the surface.

Europe's multiple yet unknown separatist movements with the exception of Scotland, Catalunya, Basque Country and Northern Ireland known around the world

Why Veneto region and Venice is seeking independence

Self Determination: Individual vs. collective in Ukrainian-Russian nationalism

Ukraine: Rightwing members/thugs intimidate news head and ordinary people alike

A Svoboda Member of Parliament, Igor Miroshnichenko was recently featured in a video posted online threatening and assaulting the interim head of Ukrainian  national TV Alexandr Panteleymonov. With the help of a supporter, Miroshnichenko entered Panteleymonov's office accusing him of being a Muscovite (indirectly indicting he has sided with Russia) and threatening bodily harm for "telling lies about  the Ukrainian people" perhaps for Russia's benefit. Panteleymonov is than forced to sign a resignation letter despite his calm response that he is not a Muscovite but a Ukrainian and he is not about to sign his resignation under duress. .

Humiliation: Ukrainian National TV beat interim head

Ukraine: 'I dare you take my gun!' on Pravy Sektor's extremist violence and vandalism


Both Svoboda and Pravy Sektor members have been intimidating and assaulting not only media personalities but ordinary office workers and Ukrainians throughout the Maidan protests and the tense Crimea situation. During the early Maidan protests prior to Yanukovych's overthrow, masked Maidan sympathizers had dragged a Western Ukrainian governor out of his office and tied him to a pole after cursing him in front of a large crowd of his own constituents. While most Maidan protesters were peaceful and weren't driven by violent revenge of any kind, the right wing and Neo Nazis from Svoboda and Pravy Sektor have come out of the woodworks intimidating both pro-Russian Ukrainians and Russians as well as non political countrymen. Even Ukrainian Jews were met with vandalism and graffiti sprayed on family homes stating that "Jews live here" reminisce of Nazi era intimidation and violence brought on by xenophobia and racism. This is the second time, the US and EU have supported anti-government protesters taking violent revenge against their fellow countrymen or opponents in the name of Democracy. Similar to Libyan rebels beating and forcing African migrants and dark skin Libyans to flee their hometowns and safety, Neo Nazis (in the form of MPs or masked men) across Ukrainian are beating up and coercing ordinary Ukrainians including Russian speakers into confessing their support for Russian influences within the country or are accused of trying to divide Ukraine. Most of the time, the people being harassed by Svoboda or Pravy Sektor members do not care about the political events occurring around  them. They are trying to return to normalcy despite the events in Crimea and anger in Kiev's Maidan Square.

Racisme en Ukraine. La police defend les Neo-Nazis face aux etudiants etrangers noirs   

N/S Part 01: Antisemitic Incidents in Ukraine  A documentary made a few years before the Maidan protests dissecting the history and present day neo nazi groups in Ukraine 

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Ukraine and Russia: Military talk

Vladmir Putin's speech on Crimea and Ukraine

Two days after Crimea voted to rejoin Russia, hoping to correct Khrushchev's Crimean fracaso, there is now talk of Ukraine going on the defense. Ukraine is still reiterating the illegality of Crimean vote and "Russia's arrogance" in annexing Crimea to the larger Russian Federation. There is actually a whole process Crimea has to go through to officially become part of Russia. Putin has signed a treaty branding Crimea as part of the federation. Its still up for discussion on whether or not Crimea will still be autonomous or become a republic. The treaty was signed in an official ceremony at the Kremlin following a speech declaring Crimea being part of Russia. The Crimean Treaty will than have to approved by the Constitutional Council and finally ratified by the Russian Duma or parliament. The United States against backed Ukraine's claim to Crimea's supposed "illegal referendum vote" despite election monitors saying that the vote was fair. U.S. Vice president Joe Biden spoke on American and wider European support for Ukraine's territorial integrity at a meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. Biden is on a visit around Eastern Europe to reassure countries bordering Russia that the United States has their backs and will support fellow NATO members both diplomatically and military.

Vice President Biden rebuttals Putin's Crimea annexation and speaks on Russian sanctions

 Some 20, 000 men have been called up by Ukraine's new leaders to serve in the newly created Ukrainian National Guard. Ukrainian military have also been sent towards the Crimean-Ukrainian border.  Two soldiers were reported shot dead at one of Crimea's bases where Ukrainian troops have been locked in since Crimea's referendum protests. Ukrainians are rightly scared of any military maneuvers or show of force Russia makes or vice versea from Ukraine. The Russian military carried out small but noticeable military exercises on Ukrainian border prior to Crimea's referendum. In the eyes of the Neocons, Russia has already unofficially declared war on Kiev. Sanctions are already set in place for the highest Russian officials declaring connected to Putin's office. In turn Putin has sanctioned US senators close to President Obama's administration. So far, Russian and American officials have been caught up in a diplomatic argument while attempting metaphorically sabotaging each other with sanctions. Both countries can not afford a military standoff on even a small scale. Both Russia or US are facing economic slumps. In the US case its the long running recession that continues to increase unemployment and frustrations. Meanwhile, the New York stock exchange flip flops from green to red every two days. Russia relies on petroleum exports (Gazprom) and pipelines crisscrossing Crimea, Ukraine and the BTC Pipeline for its revenue. Any blocking or shut off of the pipelines would hurt not only Ukraine but other European countries including the BTC or Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan nations. Not only the petroleum is a concern. Russia is well aware of NATO's military strength and political clout in its backyard. Most of Ukraine's neighbors are either NATO members or seeking to join with the organization eventually as most countries have leaned towards the EU for political or economic partnerships. Few of the former Soviet countries in the Baltics or Balkans are interested in realigning themselves with Russia or joining the Russian alternative to the EU economic block, the Eurasian Union. Complimenting the Eurasian Union is the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a Russian-Chinese and Central Asian political-economic union. SCO is on par with the EU and NATO in its own right.
The BTC Piplines aka Baku-Tblisi Ceyhan

Ukrainian national guard and Russian military exercise

Centrafrique: Mixed Christian Muslim marriages casualty of war

While Western Central African Republic's Muslim population has fled to safe refuge either in Bangui, at Bangui's International Airport or fled across the borders to neighboring Chad, Cameroon or Gabon, mixed neighbors and families are still holding out against the violence from Anti-Balaka and the remaining Seleka rebels. Mixed Christian and Muslim marriages are small but common in Central African Republic. In other countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia or even Nigeria, having large or small families where having a Muslim aunt married to a Christian uncle or having a brother who is Christian or a fiance who is Muslim is viewed as ordinary not extraordinary. Despite the rise in violent extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria or Anti-Balaka in Central African Republic, mixed Christian-Muslim marriages are not a source of tension for ordinary Central Africans. Before CAR's war religion wasn't treated as a divisive factor in anyone's marriage as the war has now made it. At the day's end, everyone in Bangui and beyond are Central Africans, religion and ethnicity aside. Mixed families have been fighting the rebel forces raiding or sweeping through their neighborhoods in Bangui and other towns. Wives and husbands have been protecting their families from division along religious lines. Children of mixed households are are also feeling the division played between their parents' diverse backgrounds at the expense of their entire family.

Meanwhile the debates and delays for a European peacekeeping forces have been postponed indefinitely. In Boda, which recently witnessed the mass exodus of its Muslim residents, the Boda peace agreement was drawn up to halt Anti-Balaka violence. the Anti-Balaka rebels would agree to cooperate with the French troops belonging to Operation Sangaris. Some internally displaced Central Africans have  gradually returned to Bangui despite the occasional violent attacks and assaults on Bangui suburbs on Muslims and Christians. 

Monday, 17 March 2014

Correcting Krushchev's Fracaso in Crimea

Crimea a gift that became a curse to Russia Sky News

Fracaso in Spanish roughly translates into failure or depending on the context a flop or backfire. The late Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's "gift" was meant as a sign of neighborly relations when he transferred over Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 exactly 60 years ago. Crimea then as now is a strategically important peninsula in terms of naval bases, direct access to markets and trade. One of Russia's main oil/petroleum pipeline runs under Crimea through Ukraine to Europe. Generally countries with strategic territories or waterways do not altruistically cede their territories to their neighbors without realizing the benefits first. Khrushchev did not foresee the current geopolitical wrestling between Russia and Ukraine over Crimea. Nor would he live long enough to see the collapse of Soviet Union. His Crimean fracaso has been a low key war of identity between Ukraine and Russia since 1990. Ukraine is adamant that Crimea is part of its territory although history shows Crimea has only been officially been Ukrainian for sixty years. Crimea's referendum has already inspired other large and small separatist movements across Europe. The Republic of Veneto (which existed for over a 1000 yrs before Italian unification in 1880s) as its known in the history books "Venetian Republic," or just Venice and Veneto region has decided to host a five day referendum on breaking away from Italy. Separatism is also fueled by economic frustrations and financial fears. Venice and Veneto region are one of the wealthiest regions in Italy who have long felt that they do not need to continue financially providing for their less well off neighboring regions or recession hit Rome and Southern Italy. Nevertheless, Crimea's referendum may being a cautious lesson for other economically depressed European countries' separatist movements to take their declaration for secession slow.

Western hypocrisy on who gets to secede and when

Its worth noting that when Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2007 and was gradually recognized by the world, Western countries did not jump up in arms. When South Sudan gained independence it was agreed by Western supporters that the South Sudanese had legitimate rights and grievances that validates its referendum vote. Tibet has been trying to end Chinese repression against Tibetans for nearly seventy years. Free Tibet activists and Western governments have emphasized the need to protect and promote the Tibetan people's cultural rights and indigenous heritage. Iraqi Kurdistan received a no fly zone in the aftermath of the Halabja Massacre and its autonomous government was recognized by United States as a representative of the Kurdish people even before 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Today Iraqi Kurdistan is one of the safer regions in Iraq. Its autonomy has inspired neighboring Kurds in Turkey to fight a thirty year old insurgency just to gain autonomy. Turkish Kurds have not been given similar treatment or recognition by the West. Czechoslovakia broke up peacefully in 1993 and both Czech Republic and Slovakia are recognized as peaceful, legitimate nations today. However when Palestine has legitimate reasons and long denied rights that the whole world has agreed to and supports the Palestinians' rights to their own homeland to address a sixty year old wrong against them by Israel, the United states demands that the Palestinians constantly remember Israel's right to exist, its security and its Jewish characters as prerequisites to any negotiations. When Chechnya airs its grievances and history of violence against the Chechens by Russians from the Russian Empire to Soviet Union and Russia, the US regards Chechnya as Russia's business.

Harvest of Despair: Man made famine in Ukraine 1932-33

Often ignored in the fracaso is the rights of indigenous people, Crimean Tatars to decide the future and status of their homeland. Crimean Tatars were against the referendum and many wanted to remain part of Ukraine. The Crimean Tatars relations with Russia extend back centuries but have been unequal accumulating in Josef Stalin's deportation of the entire Crimean Tatar population from their homeland to Siberia and Far East Russia. After Stalin's death, Crimeans were forbidden or denied the right to return home under a strict Soviet resettlement policy that favored Russian settlers to come into Crimea and Ukraine and new territories acquired by the Soviet Union after World War II. The Russian resettlement policy and promotion of the Russian language at the expanse of local languages in Ukraine and other Eastern European countries is one remaining grievance against Russia. The other is the 1932-1933 Ukrainian famine aka the Holodomar in Ukrainian regarded as Ukraine's Holocaust in which millions of Ukrainians died from starvation. Stalin is considered as the main instigator of the famine. Stalin deported and murdered millions of people across the Soviet oblasts and territories he deemed as a threat to his power. He purposely played ethnic groups and territories against one another to avoid facing fracasos or alternative government or forces to Soviet power. These combined historic and relived grievances has fueled Ukrainian nationalism and given right wing/Neo Nazi groups Pravy Sektor and Svoboda Party ammunition (no pun intended) throughout the crisis in Ukraine. Nationalism has long been rising in Ukraine even before the Soviet Union's collapse. Its just that the  overthrow and strong backing from Western nations has given Ukraine an extra boost.

Crimea Referendum 

With all the negative press about Russia and finger pointing at Putin for somehow coercing some 90% of people in Crimea to vote yes in the referendum, Crimea is now on its way to rejoining Russia. As expected, the government in Kiev is not happy. In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-Russian protesters have suggested the region should also be given some form of autonomy. When the new world maps are created, Russia's border will now extend to Ukraine's southern coast on the Black Sea. The only other Russian territory in continental Europe is in the small exclave of Kalingrad. Kalingrad is mashed between Lithuania and Poland. Again Kalingrad is an important seaport city that allows Russia's exports and imports into the country and access to the European and world markets. The world or to be more accurate the United States and European Union has tried to coerce the United Nations to declaring the Crimea Referendum illegal. Russia canceled the vote with its single veto as member of Security Council. Washington has slapped some Russian officials with sanctions. If Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is slapped with sanctions, he would be in a bind since foreign ministers need to regularly travel to meet with their counterparts to strength economic, political and soft power relations around the world. He is a diplomat by trade. If diplomatic immunity extends to sanctions we shall see.    

Saturday, 15 March 2014

What If: Being Gay was normal and Straight was strange?

A brilliant short film turns the world upside literally to place the viewer in the shoes of perceptions on hetereophobia and homophobia. The main character Ashley lives in a perfect world where being Gay is normal and part of everyday life. However being straight is a minority and regarded as strange. A must see. The film "Love is all You Need" is created by K shields and Wingspan Pictures. 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Thoughts on Crimea

There is not much to say. Except the American media has made Putin into a boogeyman. His face is literally on the major magazine covers from Time to the Economist. Putin is seen as single handily driving Crimea's drive towards its Sunday March 16th referendum. The upcoming referendum has Maidan protesters who remain the square and officials from the NATO countries grinding their teeth in anticipation. The Crimea vote will also set a precedent for other separatism movements in Russia, Chechnya, Daghestan, Tatarstan, if not South Ossetia and Abkhazia who remain de-facto independence. Ukraine still decries Russia's and Putin by extension actions as illegal and illegitimate. Their cries have been backed by the United States and NATO members.

Future Nations: Separatism in the World

The referendum also have implications for other separatist movements within Western Europe. This year in September, Scotland will hold its own referendum to declare independence from England and the wider UK for the first time in over three hundred years. Catalonia in Spain as well as the Basque Country has been boasting about possible referendums on independence. Catalonia's referendum on independence will take place later on this year too. Spain has been fighting for decades to keep itself territoriality united having experience wars and divisions over territory and complexities of regional vs. national identity. Once again Quebec, the French speaking territory of Canada is long overdue for a referendum. There is also Belgium with its double identities and parallel regionalism in Walloonie and Flanders that borders on separatism from time to time. Moldova, one of Ukraine's smaller and often overlooked neighbors is nervously watching Crimea. Moldova has also been trying to keep its small separatist leaning region of Transdniestria that also has Russian troops stationed in it under wraps. China, one of Russia's stronger allies has also been watching Crimea with caution. Chinese have dealt with a decades long Uighur separatist movement that has gone from being calm and in the background to launch deadly attacks in Beijing and Kunming on civilians. China like Spain has not tolerated any disruption to its territory unity ie its crackdown against Tibet even expressing its own indigenous culture fully to the rest of the world.  Crimea is a trendsetter for other separatist movements who will no doubt take it as a reference point for their claims to nationhood. 

From Quebec to Catalonia: Nationhood is in the DNA

Crimea no different from Scotland

Asia insulated from Crimea effect
The territorial disputes are many in Asia involve China, India, Japan, the US and probably half of the Asean nations for islands along strategic waterways or with crucial natural resources. There is also geopolitical power shift going on.

The World Map of Seperatism

All this is happening close to the 100th Anniversary of World War I.

Culture and Peace in Central African Repulic

Central African culture is thriving despite the war and divisions. A Central African play "Sango Meeting" in the Sango language, one of the main languages in CAR, is on stage in Paris. The play presents the mythical story surrounding the Central African capital Bangui. It also presents the complexities of Central African theater that is little known in France and the wider Western countries. Outside art and theater, local artists in France have used metaphors to describe the war in Central African Republic. John Togba compares CAR to an old boat to analysis French interests in CAR's minerals and contradictions with the lack of wealth distribution or rising poverty. French photojournalist, Samuel Fosso also captures the horrors of violence through aerial photos from Bangui's diverse neighbors where Muslims were forcibly removed. Returning to Sango Meeting, Bangui's prominent Lingua Tere Cultural Center based in Bangui was looted a year ago at the height of violence. The March 10th Solidarity with Central African Republic Concert hosted by Youssou N'Dour and Idylle Mamba aids in Lingua Tere's reconstruction.

On the peace front, the UN forces have been delayed again. UN experts sent to investigate violence and ethnic cleansing in Central African Republic have been given two weeks to finish their investigation before publishing their reports. The Organization for Islamic Conference or OIS has appointed special envoy to CAR, Cheik Tidiane Gadio. The former Senegalese Foreign Minister is tasked with resolving the crisis through meditation and cooperating with the AU and UN. Gadio has promised to do all that's humanely possible to end the conflict. UNICEF has recently restored water for some 130,000 people in the country in time for the rainy season starting in a couple of months. In another neighborly gesture, President Samba-Panza has paid a visit to neighboring DR Congo for a "working visit" with Congolese President Joseph Kabila.

Fortunately for the African Union's mission, additional reinforcements from various African countries are slowly arriving in CAR. The new troops will join the already 8,000 strong AU peacekeepers. Neighboring Gabon on CAR's southern border has sent a sixty soldiers to join the troops. French troops continue to search out Seleka and Balaka rebels to disarm as part of Operation Sanagris. The troops were greeted joyously in the town of Kaga Bandaoro. Beyond the applause from the Kaga residents, the troops are finding it difficult to win the hearts and minds of the people. Central african Muslims still do not feel safe even with French-AU presence in the town of Boda, where some 11,000 Muslim residents left fearing reprisal attacks from Anti-Balaka rebels. A local imam survived a brutal attack by Anti Balaka affiliated militiamen who were aiming to kill him.  Chadian migrants and other Muslim migrants from neighboring countries and some as even far west as Mauritania has also evacuated its own citizens from Central African Republic. The French newspaper Le Monde has described the large Muslim exodus and violence against them as "a victory for ethnic cleansing" painting the Anti-Balaka as the victors who are even aiming to fight against the Central African government and foreign forces the AU and French forces. The DGSE (Directorate-General for External Security), the French intelligence agency has been accused of training Anti-Balaka forces in their brutal violence against Muslims. The DGSE like the CIA, MI-5 or Mossad has often been involved in supporting coups and death squads abroad. Ironically, the DGSE instigated a coup against the then Emperor Bokassa in the late 1970s replacing him with a pro-French government in Central African Republic. During the Rwandan Genocide, the DGSE promoted disinformation and propaganda in the press. Former agent Thierry Jouan published his memoirs during his time in Rwanda and the DSGE's overall role in Africa. University students occasionally protest in Bangui over lack of materials and funding, protested for their scholarships distribution.

Hearts of Darkness Francafricaines

Centrafrique: ni genocide, conflit religieux 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Refugees in Chad

CAR Refugees

Chad has been hosting refugees from Central African Republic for several months as the conflict appears to simmer than flare up. The violence between Seleka and Anti-Balaka rebels has calmed but violence forcing Central African Muslims to flee across the border to Cameroon and Chad, created a massive exodus. Chad has struggled to cope with 70,000 refugees that have settled in the country. There are little therapuetic or psychological help for Central African refugees who endure hell and pain to arrive into relative safe refuge on Chadian territory. The thousands of people are a diverse group of students, professionals, families and skilled workers. Former Central African Parliamentarian Kotro Solomon remarked that, "Nobody saw it coming." Solomon is currently in exile in Paris having been forced to flee the country for his own safety after the former President Francois Bozize was overthrown. The "it" Solomon is referring to is the excessive use of coercion and violence by rebel forces against Central African civilians no matter if they are refugees, self imposed exiles or IDPs.

Turkey is still in the process of finalizing an agreement with the EU to deploy Turkish troops as part of an EU peacekeeping force to CAR. While the troop deployment remains in the air, Turkey has been sending humanitarian aid to CAR. Special Representative to Turkish President Erdogan, Hulusi Kilic, expressed his concern about the massacres while on a visit to Central African Republic during Feb 25th. During a recent meeting hosted by Organization of Islamic States, Senegalese former foreign minister Cheik Tidiane Gadio was appointed special envoy to Central African Republic. Envoy Gadio paid a special visit to Turkey following his appointment as CAR envoy. The OIS sent a fact finding mission which included Turkish delegates to CAR to investigate the reports of massacres and violence against civilians. As an envoy, Cheik Gadio will also be working alongside the AU and UN peacekeeping team to monitor the implementation of stability and civilian situation.

A peace concert featuring legendary Senegalese singer Youssou N Dour and CAR singer Idylle Mamba was held in France in solidarity with Central African Republic. Concerts are brilliant ways raise the wider public's awareness about events abroad or a specific cause without confusing political complexities. N Dour's mission in recent years has focused on building peace through artistic collaborations while educating the public on political problems facing CAR and other countries.

Violence in Eastern Ukraine

Pro Russian Protests in Donetsk

Vitaly Klitschko "Our goal is to take Crimea back"

Eastern Ukraine protesters are taking turns chanting and protesting for both Russia and Ukraine. Donetsk, who along with Kiev and Poland hosted the 2012 UEFA Euro Championships, has witnessed counter protests against the Kiev government and now Russia. Russia has complained about chaos and violence by far right protesters in Donetsk and other Eastern Ukrainian cities against pro Russian protesters. Neo Nazi and far right protesters have been intimidated the less politically inclined Ukrainians and Russians alike. The East-West division continue to be highlighted in the aftermath of Maidan protests and new government in Kiev.

NATO expands towards Russia
Ukraine's Longtime divisions and NATO's Eastern expansion to Russian border lays foundation for for Crimea vote

Crimea vs. Quebec: Legal right to a referendum on Self Determination

Ukraine and past Soviet uprisings

Crimea's future will be tested and voted on come March 16 this coming Sunday. While media attention has shifted from Ukraine's geopolitical troubles against Russia and Crimea to the curious case of the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, it is worth recalling past Eastern European uprisings against the Soviet Union. Ukraine is not the first nor the last former Soviet state to make a political and cultural stake against Russia. Hungary and Czech Republic have a long history of fighting against Russification and the brutal Soviet Occupations within both countries during the 1950s-1960s. The Prague Spring 1968 and Hungarian Revolution 1956 are two Cold War symbols that are constantly championed as the ultimate fight for freedom. Ukraine's recent violent protest and coup has been hailed as continuation of the Prague Spring and Hungarian Revolution. Just as than as now, the United States and other Western nations applaud whole heartedly the Hungarian and Czech people's self determination fight against Soviet Union aka Russia.

The 1950s American media was not as dramatic portraying the revolution but the same terminologies and accolades for a rising People's Democracy was harped by reporters then. The same language can still be heard echoed into today's media. The Prague Spring is where the current Arab spring and all the different color revolutions get their namesakes.

The Hungarian Revolution 1956 

As presented by Universal Newsreel and commemorated by Hungarian American Federation

Interview and memories with a veteran from the Hungarian Revolution

Prague Spring or Czechoslovakian Revolt

Prague Spring 1968 

Monday, 10 March 2014

Updates on Libya

First fighting a war against Gaddhafi and his supporters now fighting for keeping power

Once Upon of time in Libya

After three years of Libya's new found Democracy via an uncertain political future, Libya still remains unstable. The creation of a national government prior to Gaddhafi's death sought to bring Libyan style (heavily influenced by the US Democratic system) Democratic institutions, elections and freedoms unknown to Libya prior to Gaddhafi's departure. Libya was until 2011, a highly developed African country in terms of critical infrastructure, high literacy rates, transportation systems, public access to education and housing that Gadhaffi for all his faults and vices, went to great lengths to secure. Libya did not need to rely on foreign aid for development nor was it bound by IMF and World Bank financial structural adjustments. Libya almost had no foreign debt. It was mentioned that Libya had high amount of reserves in its own banks. All the praise that Libya had received from other African countries who did not always support Gaddhafi, was often scoffed by Western countries who regarded Gaddhafi as a mad dog and a megalomaniac. His quest to provide for Libyan people with equal access to social services that would be applauded in the United States or Europe if carried out by the president or prime minister was casted as overly ambitious or unworkable. Gaddhafi's current project was the creation of a great man made lake to bring water to the desert including to hundreds of Libyans facing sca. The man made lake's half constructed infrastructure was equally bombed by NATO planes during the 2011 bombings of Libya's military infrastructure that extended to civilian infrastructure.

Militias intimidate everyone

The Libyan government has been unable to convince armed militias still independently operating to lay down their weapons. Militias formerly known as rebels operate as self entitled liberators in ghost town of Tarwegha and harassing as well as attacking people often Gadhaffi supporters in Bani Walid and African migrants in Benghazi. Protesters in Benghazi and other Libyan cities continue to storm local parliaments angered by the lack of security for protesters and wider society. As for the Tarweghans, a French advocate has offered to defend the massacre victims who still live in IDP camps in Tripoli's former military camps. In recent days, militias from Ras Lanouf have extended their operations from fighting competiing militia forces and anti government protesters, to threatening to attack a North Korean tanker. Their justification for threatening the tanker is the amount of illegal oil the tanker is accused of shipping. Fortunately, the Libyan government has stepped in to halt the confrontation between the international tanker and local militias. 

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Frustration in Central African Republic

African Union troops speaking to young and older men while attempting to keep the calm in their neighborhood
Blue Helmets are soon to be deployed in Central African Republic. The deployment is in its final stage at the United Nations Security Council. The African Union is also seeking an additional troop deployments. Ethiopia has guaranteed its commitment to AU force already in place in CAR. Ethiopian troops currently serve as a peacekeeping force for the AU's peacekeeping mission in Somalia despite the threat from piracy and low intensity guerrilla involving suicide bombings among other forms in Southern Somalia and Mogadishu. Meanwhile Central Africans' frustrations have reached a boiling point at the slow response from the UN and countries. Angered by limited international protection and feeling abandoned by the government's promise of security, Central African Muslims hurled stones at French military choppers protesting the French soldiers' failure to fully disarm Christian militia belonging to the Anti-Balaka forces. Some Muslims see French soldiers as complicit in prolonging their plight and ignoring persecuting Ant-Balaka perpetrators of massacres. Even children have not been free from being attacked by rebel forces at checkpoints. In one such checkpoint stop, a Muslim mother Fatimatu Yamsa was seperated from her daughter after handed the baby over to a Christian women who tried to help Yamsa by pretending the baby was hers. Fatimatu and other Muslims were pulled off a truck transporting both Christian and Muslims to what was supposed to be safety. Anti-Balaka has constantly been harassing men, women and children at the checkpoints. The Seleka rebels are still fighting against the Anti-Balaka but have receded back into the shadows since last November after the intense fighting ebbed. Some Christian supporters of Seleka rebels fearing reprisals from the Anti-Balaka and being accused of desertation after being abandoned by their Seleka commanders are currently holded up at the Seleka's headquarters in the former palace of Central African Republic's "Emperor" Bokassa I. Outside the palace walls in other areas of Bangui, French soldiers killed four Seleka rebels during a mission to disarm them. Both rebel forces and local gangs have been accused of exacerbating the conflict and making humanitarian aid for stranded refugees and internally displaced persons almost impossible to deliver. In the middle of both rebel forces, French soldiers and a potential peacekeeping force is the people tired of running but unable to still in their homes. 

Friday, 7 March 2014

United States vs Russia on Ukraine still onging

Russia-US faceoff Ukraine by Latuff

The Crimean Parliament has upped the tension between Russia and United States over Russia's actions in the Crimea by announcing an early referendum to join Russia for March 16. It might be the Crimean Parliment's bluff but the threat of officially breaking away from Ukraine to rejoin Russia after sixty years not taken lightly by the new Ukrainian government in Kiev. The United States has threatened Russia with sanctions if the Russian military does anything to harm Ukraine's interest in Crimea or if Russia takes anymore steps to strengthen Crimean separatism. The separatism was already brewing in Crimea long before Russian soldiers entered Simeforpol or Sevastopol. Neo Nazi groups and members belonging to Svoboda continue to be a thorn inside of the peaceful Maidan protesters' still in Maidan Square with violence against Ukrainian Jews, intimidating their critics,  posting white supremacist and nazi symbols and their anti Russian sentiments. The Neo Nazi protesters have been accused of being snipers by Russian ministers and media sources during the Feb 28th shootings of protesters and police. The Chinese media has slammed Western countries for the "Kiev Coup and Cold war mentality" reiterating China's position on its alliance with Russia both politica, economic and military ties that go back several decades. The mainstream media (a la CNN and MSNBC) too has been anticipating Russia's next move seemingly flashing breaking news alerts on Crimea every few hours. Anderson Cooper who usually manages to be everywhere there is a breaking story has been leading the on ground coverage from Kiev Ukraine interviewing Maidan protesters, strong critics of Putin and Russia, speaking with former Georgian President Mikhail Saakshavili who recently visited Kiev, and analysis and pundits prescribing economic and favored IMF financial solutions to Kiev's stalemate with Russia in Crimea.

NATO countries are eagerly watching Crimea's flinching before the referendum storm. To show Russians that it will protect Ukraine's territoty intergrit at any cost, American warship sailed into the Black Sea which is a replay of American warships being sent to Sochi's coast at the height of terror scare for Sochi Olympics. The United States still insists on flexing its military muscles even after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel suggested the military budget being lowered to pre-World War II levels. The US still wants to be the world's hegemon and dictated to the BRICS when and how their defense and foreign policies concerns should operate in the world. The US is still trying to fit the shoes of Ancient Rome despite its military being stretched thin and Dow hinting that the financial markets can't take any last minute military operations or bombings.

The Crisis in Ukraine and Historical consequences of Dissolution of Soviet Union