Commentaries (20)

In today’s speech president Trump announced his decision to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem without giving details about to which part of Jerusalem, but it is expected to be moved to East Jerusalem. His declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel will have a very negative effect on the peace process, and may even freeze it for the time being, opening the gates for extremists and radicals who will start working underground and even openly. They will be having hubs and will be harbored by many people. In the past they were working secretly and now they will be overtly operating against American and Israeli interests throughout the world. This deal between the Americans and Israel could not happen without an Arab approval of what is called the “Big Deal”, which means that the Palestinians would be having their own capital in Abu Dis, which is located near Jerusalem city. This could not have happened without this kind of deal, without some Arabs. The Palestinians will not be having their own independent state, which they were dreaming of in 1995 when they signed Oslo agreement. Back then the White House already believed that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, even though the other presidents of the US did not have the courage to announce it since then. But Donald Trump announced it without even thinking of any consequences and repercussions that would happen. That is why before he announced it, he asked the military, American Marines, to be ready for any outcome that would take place in the Middle East or anywhere in the world.



Photo credit: Renewer/Fotolia


Trump occupies his post for already a year and during this time his Middle-Eastern politics has become an object of heated criticism from active and retired diplomats, Middle-Eastern experts and political scientists. There is even an opinion that Trump, unfortunately, listens more to his relatives, so it is unclear where the White House ends and where Trump’s family begins. He listens more to the opinions of unqualified people on the Middle East, than to the experienced diplomats. Moreover, the situation in the Department of State remains rather volatile. Despite one year has already passed, many offices remain unoccupied and Tillerson prefers a rather authoritarian mode of management, without listening to the Middle-Eastern specialists. At the same time there are several points of disagreement between Tillerson and Trump on the Middle East, which have become public.

Speaking about this very decision, now I can say that there is absolutely no logic in it. Even from the point of view of the US national interests in the region. There is an opinion that many of Trump’s advisers have planted in his mind an idea that now the situation in the Arab world has changed so much that the Arab states do not pay attention to the Palestinian issue and that his decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize this city as Israel’s capital will not provoke backlash in the Arab world. He thinks that maybe Arabs will have some minor protests, but not like in the 50ies and 60ies. Probably, such thoughts made Trump pass such decision. But there is absolutely not logic in it, and the reaction of Arab states, even of Saudi Arabia that now established special relations with Israel, of Iraq, Egypt, of European states like France, is naturally negative and will complicate the resolution of many other regional issues. This will hamper Trumps policy not only in the Palestinian-Israeli dimension, but also in Europe and in the Islamic world as a whole.

Photo credit Mandel Ngan/AFP

Friday, 11 March 2016 16:46

Remembering Harold Saunders

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Harold H. Saunders has passed away. It's a huge loss for all who knew him, who worked with him on numerous issues of international agenda including the Arab-Israeli Peace Process, public dialogue in Central Asia and Caucasus and etc. It's a huge loss for the international relations. Deep condolences to his family. 


Harold H. Saunders, assistant secretary of state in the Carter administration and the recently retired director of international affairs at the Kettering Foundation, who spent more than 20 years in high foreign policy positions in the United States government, died on March 6, 2016, at his home. He was 85. The cause of death was prostate cancer.

“Hal Saunders served with distinction under six U.S. presidents and was a significant figure in America’s international affairs for more than 50 years. We were fortunate to have had his good counsel for much of that time,” David Mathews, Kettering Foundation president, said. “In addition, we will remember his interest in young people. He reached out to college students and built a network devoted to sustained dialogue, one of the primary themes of his work in recent years.”

“He tackled some of the greatest challenges of our times —  protracted conflict, destructive relationships, weak governance, dysfunctional democracy and the need for a new world view,” Dr. Mathews continued.

Saunders joined the National Security Council staff in 1961 and served through the Johnson and Nixon administrations as the council’s Mideast expert, a period that saw the Six-Day War of June 1967, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the Kissinger shuttles.  He was appointed deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs in 1974, director of intelligence and research in 1975, and was appointed by President Carter to be assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs in 1978.

During his tenure as assistant secretary, Saunders was a principal architect of the Camp David Accords and the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty. In the early morning hours of November 4, 1979, a call was patched through to his home from Tehran, and over the next two hours he listened to the overrun of the American Embassy. For the next 444 days, Saunders worked tirelessly to free the American hostages, culminating in their release on January 20, 1981.

For his contributions to American diplomacy, Saunders received the President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Service, the government’s highest award for civilian career officials, and the State Department’s Distinguished Honor Award. After leaving government service in 1981, he was associated with the American Enterprise Institute and the Brookings Institution for 10 years before joining the Kettering Foundation as director of international Affairs.  In 1981, he also became U.S. co-chair of the Task Force on Regional Conflicts for the Dartmouth Conference, the longest continuous dialogue between American and Soviet now Russian citizens.

“Hal Saunders served with distinction under six U.S. presidents and was a significant figure in America’s international affairs for more than 50 years. We were fortunate to have had his good counsel for much of that time,” David Mathews, Kettering Foundation president, said. “In addition, we will remember his interest in young people. He reached out to college students and built a network devoted to sustained dialogue, one of the primary themes of his work in recent years.”

“He tackled some of the greatest challenges of our times —  protracted conflict, destructive relationships, weak governance, dysfunctional democracy and the need for a new world view,” Dr. Mathews continued.

Harold H. Saunders was born in Philadelphia on December 27, 1930, and graduated from Germantown Academy there.  He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Princeton University in 1952 with a bachelor’s degree in English and American Civilization and received a doctorate in American Studies from Yale University in 1956.  He was president of his class at Princeton, later served on the Board of Trustees at Princeton and received the Class of 1952’s “Excellence in Career” award.

Over the past 35 years, Dr. Saunders developed and practiced the process of Sustained Dialogue, which he described as a “five-stage public peace process” to transform racial and ethnic conflicts.  He was the author of four books, co-author of another and co-editor of still another, all dealing with issues of international peace.

In 1999 he wrote A Public Peace Process: Sustained Dialogue to Transform Racial and Ethnic Conflict.  That experience led to his founding the International Institute for Sustained Dialogue (now the Sustained Dialogue Institute), which he served as chairman and president until his retirement on December 31, 2015. He is also the author of The Other Walls: The Arab-Israeli Peace Process in a Global Perspective (1985), Politics Is about Relationship: A Blueprint for the Citizens’ Century (2005), and Sustained Dialogue in Conflicts: Transformation and Change (2011).

Through IISD/SDI he moderated dialogues among citizens outside government, from the civil war in Tajikistan to deep tensions among Arabs, Europeans, and Americans and all factions in Iraq.  More recently, he had been collaborating with established organizations in the U.S., South Africa, Israel and the Americas to embed sustained dialogue in their programs.

Dr. Saunders was the recipient of many awards.  From Germantown Academy, he received its first Distinguished Achievement Award in 2002.  He was given Search for Common Ground’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2004 and the American Academy of Diplomacy’s Annenberg Award for Excellence in Diplomacy in 2010.

He served on the board for the Hollings Center, the executive committee of the Institute for East-West Security Studies and on the boards of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, Internews,  and Partners for Democratic Change and had been a member of the International Negotiation Network at the Carter Presidential Center.  He served on the governing council of the International Society of Political Psychology, which presented him the 1999 Nevitt Sanford Award for “distinguished professional contributions to political psychology.” 

He taught international relationships and conflict resolution at George Mason University and at Johns Hopkins University’s Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.  He was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Academy of Diplomacy and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

He was awarded honorary degrees of doctor of letters by New England College, doctor of international relations by Dickinson College, doctor of humane letters by the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and doctor of arts, letters, and Humanities by Susquehanna University.  He was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and had participated in a Roman Catholic-Reformed Churches dialogue.

Dr. Saunders’ first wife, the former Barbara McGarrigle, died in 1973. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Carol Jones Cruse Saunders, a son, Mark and daughter-in-law, Robin Stafford, daughter Catherine, a step-daughter, Caryn Hoadley, and her husband, Brad Wetstone, three grandchildren and two step-grandsons.

Friday, 10 July 2015 13:26

Tunisia: caught in the crosshairs

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The terrorist act that took place in Tunisia in Sousse is a second strike against the tourist centers of the country. The first one was made in Bardo in March. But we have to understand that these two attacks are the ones that have been widely covered internationally. In fact, there is a constant terrorist activity in Tunisia. Just on the 15th of July, i.e. 9 days before Sousse, four servicemen of the National Guard were killed in a terrorist attack. It was in the center of the country, in Sidi Bouzid. One person was killed in the North-Western region of Jendouba.  The Jihadists have been active in these two mountainous regions for long. However, they did not leave this area where they had equipped their bases. The government accused local groups of the 15th July terrorist act, but the ISIS has also claimed its responsibility. We witness the integration of the Tunisian Jihadism into the global network of the Islamic State and it already has goals different to those the petty Jihadists of Sidi Bouzid and Jendouba had. They are now set up to destabilize the political system and to make the nationhood collapse. Taking into consideration a great share of tourism in the total volume of the budget income, the tourist sector will definitely become a constant target of the Jihadists. According to some estimation the terrorist attack in Bardo has decreased the tourists influx to Tunisia by ¼ compared to the previous year.

The difficulties of the country’s economic development, the ongoing crisis, the delayed impact of the revolution and some other issues become evident only now. The social and economic problems are not resolved. The country faces endless strikes and walkouts. The phosphate industry that had been contributing much to the treasury, now has almost completely stopped its activity. All this makes the country extremely vulnerable.

The position of all the political forces of Tunisia should be mentioned particularly. Primarily the one of the Islamists who have categorically condemned the attack and took a firm anti-Jihadist stance. That means that the country has enough resources to manage the current situation, moreover the governmental institutions are quite efficient. And the situation is unlikely to be completely destabilized.

Of course the Libyan factor plays its role in increasing instability in the country. There are more than a million of Libyans in Tunisia. The border is controlled but without proper efficiency. Smuggling thrives. The black market is flooded with large amounts of weaponry from Libya. An AK can be bought for 1000 euro. All this plays a negative role. Moreover, it is true that the ISIS network is active in Tunisia. More than 3000 Tunisian militants fight in Syria under the flags of the Islamic State.  And as in all other countries there is a problem of these people’s returning to their native country.

However, the most dangerous issue now is not the chaos of terror, but the serious negative impact of the decrease of tourism on the country’s economy. The economic repercussions may lead to a new wave of social discontent and to a new social explosion. This scenario is extremely dangerous. But let’s hope it will not take place.

Returning to the topic of Sousse attack I cannot say that it was absolutely predictable. But the increased Jihadist activity was expected during Ramadan. The question that is intriguing everybody is whether the terrorist acts in Tunisia, Kuwait and France are interconnected. It is an important question that does not have an answer yet.

Taking into consideration the aims that the Islamic State sets, it is clear that the other countries popular among tourists are also under the threat.  Morocco is at risk. Tunisia is still in danger. But despite all this and the tragedy that happened, it should be noted that the special services try to work very effectively. Many terrorist acts are averted. So, we should hope that the international counter-terrorist cooperation would be fruitful.

The crisis in Yemen could well turn extremely tragic. Making overall predictions is difficult because how the situation develops will depend on how certain players behave, and we aren’t privy to their intentions. I do think, however, that the Saudis and their coalition partners have made a mistake with aerial bombardments. It’s simply inconceivable that such a destructive approach — particularly in an already impoverished country — could provide any resolution.

The Houthis’ objectives seem clear enough: They want to get their share of the distribution of power and resources and are not at all, in my opinion, trying to establish full control over the whole country. I think they understand that simply won’t happen. It looks as if they are using military force to secure strong starting positions for the inevitable subsequent negotiations — in order to get their piece of the pie. But do they understand that the assault on the southern part of the country, where they are perceived as outsiders, involves great dangers for them? Here they also seem to have made a mistake, miscalculated. They shouldn’t have meddled in Aden and the southern provinces. They are doing it under the pretext of striking at the Islamist radicals, at Al-Qaeda, based in the south; but the reality is that they will end up pushing the local population toward Al-Qaeda as a powerful force able to resist the onslaught of the Houthis. There was no point in the advance. They should have been satisfied dominating the northern part of the country, having expelled their longtime enemies, the Salafis. Then they could have dictated their own terms during negotiations with a better chance of achieving their political and economic demands.

Yet if we look at the opposing coalition, it’s not remotely clear what it wants. To destroy the huge portion of the population that supports the Houthis? That’s impossible. What, will they just keep on killing people without end? Do they want to completely destroy the infrastructure of the country? It’s incomprehensible what this could do for them. Do they want to force the Houthis to surrender? To lay down their arms? To say: Let Hadi return; let him imprison, hang or shoot us instigators while everyone else can live long and happy lives? What is it they want? Do they want to deploy ground forces to force the Houthis back to where they’ve always lived, to the north, and to secure some strategic spots in which to place people connected to Hadi’s administration? But it doesn’t seem as if anybody is preparing for a ground war — which would be a bloodbath. So the goals of these people simply aren’t wholly evident. Even if foreign boots were committed on the ground, it’s quite likely that Yemeni Shia and Sunni would unite against the outsiders. That’s already happened, in the 1960s, when Egypt supported the revolution of 1962 and sent forces into Yemen. Over the course of a few years, Egypt lost almost 26,000 lives — losses much greater than those of the USSR in Afghanistan — even though Yemen is a small country and the Egyptians did not have a large contingent. Today the very same story can be repeated anywhere. The coalition is quite aware of this, and no one is burning with desire to fight in the mountains of Yemen — especially when it’s not even clear whom to fight. But even if we assume the coalition forces could break the Houthis and push them back North: Who, then, would take their place?

Incidentally, I told my Egyptian friends: “You’ve taken your place under the Saudis’ banner. You want to defeat the Shia. You are afraid they might supposedly gain control of the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and interfere with maritime traffic through the channel. That is unlikely: They’ve never set themselves such a goal and couldn’t if they tried. It’s another impossibility. They are well aware that they would run into big trouble. But still, let’s say you disperse them. Who will come to power? The very people you consider your enemies: the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic bloc Al-Islah[a1]  (the same Brotherhood), or even Al-Qaeda or related groups. In other words, a Salafi alliance will rise up and govern the country; you’ll get a country ruled by your enemies. You’re thinking that Iran is calling the shots in Yemen now, or afraid it will in the future. But what you’ll get instead is those you consider your enemies in power. It’s obvious that the fruit of your labors will be much worse for you.” This military, interventionist approach, recalling the Libya playbook of internal conflict resolution, is another dead-end in a fragmented and heterogeneous country like Yemen, with one possible outcome being the division of the country. I do not rule out the partition of Yemen, with the most likely split between North and South; although even further fragmentation is possible. Perhaps this is what the enemies of Yemen want. A worst-case scenario would involve a bid for Hadhramaut to secede, a region with historical ties to Saudi Arabia and one which is drawn to it: There are tribes continually crisscrossing the border with a vested interest in keeping it open. It’s not impossible that the tribal and trade elite in this region would like to place Hadhramaut under Saudi control. If utter mayhem ensues, Al-Qaeda could proclaim a state there. People are afraid to fight them, so they don’t strike Al-Qaeda but strike the Houthis.

A degeneration into complete chaos is not beyond the realm of possibilities — something along the lines of the current situation in Libya, with roving tribes, gangs and fighters killing each other, plundering and destroying. At that point it will be senseless to talk about restoring the country. This is not Libya; it is a comparatively large country with about 26 million people and a large, inaccessible, mountainous territory. It is filled with a whole lot of weapons. It is situated at a strategic trading crossroads. The situation is very alarming. And the only road to a settlement is peace talks, peace talks with the participation of the Houthis. But apparently Saudi Arabia does not want the Houthis to participate, although at some point early on the Saudis themselves proposed such negotiations. To sum up, I fear that for now there is little reason for optimism.

The commentary was taken on the 3rd of April, 2015
by the IMESClub President Maria Dubovikova

Thursday evening in Iran people flooded the streets to celebrate what looks to be, at last, a tangible and positive result of the long and hard negotiations on the Iranian nuclear program with the “P5 +1” (five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany). Columns of cars were honking; many were carrying photos of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani; and in homes and shops, broadcast live, there was Barack Obama speaking about the results of the talks. It didn’t hurt the festive mood that the agreement was announced on the Iranian holiday of “sizdah de dar” the last day of Noruz celebrations (the ancient Persian New Year).

The revelry was a mass release from the fatigue of over 30 years of sanctions and resulting economic malaise with no end in sight. Sanctions, no matter how “smart,” do little to punish governments and regimes but are quite effective at making life hard for the average citizen. It was not only Iranians, however, anxious about the results of the talks: the consequences of failure, of such drawn-out bargaining ending only with both parties packing up and returning to the status quo, would be unpredictable but certainly negative for regional and world politics. And of course, that is still a possibility. Rouhani’s rating would drop; perhaps he would have to resign in favor of a radical conservative candidate, the tact of dialogue discredited (as it was to an extant after ex-president Khatami’s attempts at reconciliation with the West failed – which helped to pave the way for the politics of Ahmadinejad). It’s difficult to imagine how such a turn of events could improve the already badly deteriorated situation in the Middle East. Across the ocean, archconservative elements in the United States would seize on a negotiations failure, especially in election campaigns, as supposed proof that the stick, and never the carrot, is the only really valid means of achieving foreign policy goals.

Critical for Iran will be the cancellation of oil exports sanctions, which should be lifted after the final agreements scheduled for June 2015. In addition to restrictions on the oil, finance and banking sectors, and sanctions against individuals, the fate of a slew of lesser sanctions will be determined gradually under international monitoring of implementation by Iran of agreed upon conditions. In case of violations or nonfulfillment, sanctions are to be maintained or reestablished.

Despite the fact that the outcome of the negotiations has been a sensation for many, most Iranians I interacted with were confident a deal would be reached. At the opposite end, many Eastern Studies peers expressed strong doubts that anything new was on the horizon. After all, there have been attempts at negotiation prior to this, some of them rumored, that failed or never even got off the ground. Opinions vary as to what drove both sides to stay at the negotiating table and hammer out a consensus this time — amid accusations of Iranian non-disclosure, the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, opposition to the talks within the Washington and Tehran political establishments and the usual heated rhetoric between the two, to name but a few factors that might have derailed the project. There is speculation that some in the West are keen to prevent a strong Russia-Iran alliance, which in recent years has often seemed on the verge of materializing but never quite lived up to expectations. Some observers go further, seeing in the agreement the beginning of a sea change in global alliances, perhaps at the expense of Saudi Arabia and Israel. On another level, many Europeans are famously unenthusiastic about the sanctions policy on Iran and may have exerted some pressure. And Washington’s experience in Iraq may have convinced it that Iran was an important regional player that should be cultivated rather than ostracized. Iran, for its part, while determined to hold out, was certainly weary of the partial strangulation. Most probable is that multiple factors coalesced, that the moment had simply come, with enough distance between the present and the Shah’s US-encouraged excesses, the aiding of Saddam Hussein’s army, the storming of the US Embassy and the long litany of complaints on both sides. 

Let us not forget Russia’s contribution to the success of the talks, which many point out, not without reason, could end up weakening Russia’s geopolitical position. The agreement may indeed be followed by increased rapprochement between Iran and the West and a larger role for Iran in the region and as a supplier of natural resources, perhaps as an alternative to Russia. But such zero-sum formulations would be the mark of a short-term game, and Russia rightly continued to aid and support the talks through to the end. Russia and Iran should use this as an opportunity to forge an alliance not out of necessity, from being backed into a corner, but through proactive strengthening of cultural and economic ties that will serve as a firmer, deeper foundation for relations in the long run.  


Mansouria Mokhefi on the terrorist attack in Tunisia for AFP. Commentary is available in French.

L'attaque du musée du Bardo à Tunis, revendiquée par l'Etat islamique, "révèle peut être que les forces de sécurité tunisiennes ne sont pas suffisamment au point" , explique Mansouria Mokhefi, spécialiste du Maghreb à l'institut français des relations internationales (IFRI). 



Friday, 20 March 2015 12:54

Netanyahu's Victory: The masks are down.

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Talking about the Israeli elections, the results and its meaning for the Peace Process, let start first with figures. The result is that Netanyahu got 57 seats all together with the right and religious parties’ bloc, and the left-center bloc parties got 53. In the middle there is a centrist party – Kulanu which is quiet moderate according to their declarations made before the elections, got 10 seats. But since this party descent from Likud, the assumption here is that Netanyahu with his 57 seats in the Parliament can form a coalition together with it – so they’ll form the coalition uniting 67 members of Parliament. In the previous elections the right religious bloc all-together had 61 seats. And actually what happened in the current elections is that the right wing parties and the religious forces have lost 3 seats in the Parliament, as Netanyahu took the seats from the ultra-orthodox parties, from the right-radical parties, and became bigger (30 seats), than the second party in the Parliament, which is the Zionist Camp (the former Labor party with 24). And so he gains the right to be the first to form the coalition. So, from my point of view, he made a big victory, but this victory was due to his expanse on the right wing radical parties. And mostly he has done it in the last three days before the elections, because most of the polls predicted him gaining 20-21 sits in the Parliament and he gained 30. So it was a big failure for the pollsters and for the media in Israel, because all of them had been assuming, that the Labor party and the Zionist Camp would win the elections and it appeared to be a disinformation. The real change was between parties but not between the two blocs of the political arena.   

There were also two very bad declarations of Netanyahu, as he stepped out of the Two-State solution and he incited the Arab population in Israel. And by this kind of announcement he gained the popularity among those who are ultra-right and ultra-orthodox. Many voters from the radical nationalist party ‘The Jewish home’, ruled by Nafrali Bennet moved to Netanyahu’s camp. Bennet had 12 seats in the Parliament previously. Now he has only 8. And all the seats he lost, he lost because of Netanyahu’s announcement that he is not in favor of the two-State solution anymore. That was a game changer in the last three days before the elections. 

We should understand also, that there is a big discord inside Israel, inside the Jewish population. We can even say that there are two states in Israel, as the society is divided to 2 blocs. One part of the Israeli society supports the Zionist Camp and the Labor party,’Yesh Atid’ party and ‘Meretz’.It is characterized by a very high gross national product, liberal values of cooperation with the Arab minority, diplomatic moderation, pragmatic security viewpoint. The other bloc is formed by ‘Likud’ party, The ‘Jewish home’, The Ultra-religious parties and Liberman party ‘Israel Beitenu’ . Most of that part is haunted by archaic fears it is prickly, isolationist and conservative and suspicious of the Arab neighbors .with small-income salaries. And however, they suffered a lot from the last years of Netanyahu’s internal social and economic policy, they’ve voted for him.

The result is that it is easier for Netanyahu to form a coalition, than for Labor Party and the Zionist Camp headed by Isaac Herzog.

As far as the future of the Peace Process is concerned, it should be reminded that in the end of the month the gathering of the Arab League will take place in Egypt. And I think that the Arab League will stay with the Arab Peace Initiative declaration. And I think, there is a possibility that Netanyahu would be set to say that he is for collaboration with moderate Arab states, as Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Jordan and Egypt. He understand that main topic that interest Arab leaders is the fight against ISIS and stemming the expansion of Iran. The problem is that he wants to bring this ME collaboration without the Palestinians and in this case there will be no kind of diplomatic solution, and this would even paralyze the negotiations on the matter. Personally, as well as my organization, NISPED-AJEEC and the Peace camp in Israel, we strongly support the API and we see it as a right base for negotiation for peace together with the Palestinians. But the future for us, at least the nearest future, looks very gloomy. I must admit we don’t see any advancement in the Peace Process. One good thing is that the masks of Netanyahu and his government supporting the Peace Process and declaring the Two-State Solution do not exist anymore.

One good thing is that the masks of Netanyahu and his government supporting the Peace Process and declaring the Two-State Solution do not exist anymore.

–Mully Dor

The first announcement of the US administration was saying «Ok. So everything is clear now».

That means that the US is not going to stop the Palestinians, with their attempts to settle the conflict through the UN institutions. And this would probably have good consequences for the situation, compared to what we witnessed in the past, when the US had been automatically supporting everything Israel had been doing. And it was not helping Israel at all. I must admit that I didn’t like the way Obama was reacting to the Netanyahu’s speech to the Congress. He publicly hazed the president and got home safe and sound without paying any prize. The people of Israel saw no act of the US administration when Netanyahu behave like this and they understood that he defeated Obama. It was a big mistake of Obama.

I don’t believe that Netanyahu will be in practice more flexible on the two-state solution after the elections. In the past Netanyahu had been speaking more politely but had no intention to build it. He has been opposing this idea from the first minute. He had been declaring that he supports the conflict settlement on the basis of the two state solution on the international arena, while inside the country, for the home audience, he had been saying, that he don’t believe in it.

But of course it was a populist move to gain votes, but the question is what he is going to do after the elections. There is an important question if he is willing to enter the real negotiations on the two state solution or no. The Kerry initiative has failed, as Netanyahu didn’t want to draw the lines of the borders. He just wanted to stay in power. He is not willing to step into real negotiations and find a solution. He is a Mr. Security, declaring that he will secure the Israelis against Iran, against ISIS, against the Palestinians not believing in the two-state solution.

There is a big question whether this strategy and this policy can exist in the Middle East and in the modern world now. I don’t believe in this. But people actually vote for this policy. This policy will be of becoming isolated, conservative, to prefer any religious values over the democratic and liberal ones, to be a state that is suspicious of its neighbors. 

"It is an horror, calculated, planned, a political operation, that beyond the terrorist goals, is intended to bring down the Tunisian government and undermine Tunisia's nascent democracy!". This is what the researcher Mustapha Tlili, founder and director of the NYU Center for Dialogues: Islamic World - the United States - the West, says. "The seriousness is enormous”, he adds. “It requires a response corresponding to the level of events, a strong political response. Fists of all, its about to strengthen and modernize the security mechanisms without shedding to the opposite vice, that is to say, to give up democratic principles. We need to show that terrorism has failed in its political goal." 

Tlili calls for the cohesion of all the political classes "provided that there is no shade of doubt in a total rejection of Islamic or any other forms of terrorism". "We must articulate clearly”, he said, “without the vague declarations, as has been observed during the last four years." With hope, he added: "Yes, we mourn the dead, we mourn the guests of Tunisia, it is a tragedy, but at the end of the tunnel, there is light: the Tunisian democracy! "

What should be done? "Modern and effective intelligence service that works to infiltrate these terrorist groups and go till the end, as modern countries do, should  be created," Mustapha Tlili advocates.

What should the international community do? "Let's start with the friends of Tunisia, and the United States at their head, he said. We should appeal to President Obama who has just affirmed the support of Tunisia by the United States in its national security strategy and we should tell him that it is time, now more than ever, that this support is the most valuable for the country. First of all it concerns the benefits for Tunisia from exchanging information on terrorism and we all know how US capabilities in this area are enormous. "

If Tunisia fails in its fight against terrorism and if it fails its democratic experience, it's the whole West that will fail.

"Secondly,” continues Tlili “we should strengthen our security cooperation. The means Tunisia should be given, not sold the means it does not have, namely, the technology and equipment. If Tunisia fails in its fight against terrorism and if it fails its democratic experience, it's the whole West that will fail. "

"There is no tranquility today", says Mustapha Tlili. "It is the same case as the tragedy in France, when the Charlie Hebdo editorial board was decimated. It should arouse the same solidarity. The same fraternity must be clearly expressed to honour the memory of all victims of Bardo. "


The original of the publication is available here.

Thursday, 19 March 2015 01:15

"Terrorist attack in Tunisia is no accident."

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Terrorist attack in Tunisia on March 18, which took 22 lives of civilians, in my opinion, is no accident. In this day and this hour (13:45) Minister of Justice of Tunisia was presenting a new draft law on combating terrorism and money laundering in the Parliament. The presentation ended with the sounds of gunfire coming from the neighbouring Parliament building. This was not the first act of terrorism in the country since the beginning of this year. yesterday it just has painfully hit the feelings of Europeans and caused a loud reaction in the world media.

There is a constant fight between radical Islam and the rest of society inside Tunisia, which, including supporters of the Islamic party Ennahda, is trying to build a secular democratic state. At the same time, the groups of Okba Ibn Nafaa which are the branch of al-Qaeda are active in some parts of the country. One can only speculate on the subject to which organization belong ones killed by terrorists. The dead do not speak. For example there is a suggestion that they were members of the "Ansar al-Sharia". Whoever they were, they were not aiming at Parliament and not at the visitors to the museum, but at the Tunisian society. The society meets each collision with jihadists, resulting in casualties among Tunisian security forces or civilians with mass demonstrations to show their determination to fight for "free and strong Tunisia," to say there is no place for the Islamic extremists and terrorists in the Tunisian society. So, last night, hundreds and hundreds of Tunisians gathered on the main street of the capital to say "no" to the attempt to intimidate people.

Obviously, many forces in the Middle East and the world do not like the example of Tunisia, a country where different and even antagonistic political forces have been able to come to an agreement and work out on a plan of action aimed to rebuild the country after the shocks of "Jasmine revolution".

" Extremist terrorist groups seek to undermine the experience of democratic transition in Tunisia and in the region and create the climate of fear among the citizens who yearn for freedom, democracy and peaceful participation in the democratic construction." said the organizing committee of the World Social Forum.

Against the background of a statement by the President of Tunisia natural in this situation declaring the continuation of the "ruthless struggle" against terrorism, the reaction of Amnesty International having made a "warning" to the Tunisian Government on the inadmissibility of the "transition to authoritarianism in the application of the law" sounds surprising.

“This deadly attack, which is quite deplorable, should not allow to derail from what many consider the transition from authoritarianism to a system of justice and respect for human rights, the most successful in the region, "said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, Deputy Director of Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International.

Events of March 18, 2015 will certainly unite Tunisians in the face of the main threat of the present days. On the other hand, they show a "careful" attitude of those who direct the actions of the radicals towards the positive social and political processes in the country.

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