Mar 062014
 

Ukraine: who to blame and who not to

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Mar 062014
 

Ukraine: who to blame and who not to

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Mar 062014
 

For a few days I have been absolutely shocked by what was happening in Ukraine and couldn’t do much apart from looking at my news feed. Now, when I am starting to come back to the world of living, I feel some need to say what I think about the reasons for the present conflict. I don’t know too much as I’ve been in the UK all the time, but I am both Russian and Ukrainian, I’ve grown up in Moscow with one of the very common Ukrainian family names and visited Ukraine many times.

  • Russian Government or shortly Putin is to blame for steering people’s fears and for invading Crimea. What saddens me the most is the dishonesty of it all. Soldiers hiding their nationality (but in obvious Russian uniforms!)  Blatant denial and lies in the media. Also the fact that there was a treaty in the 90s over the Ukrainian borders which is now Russia is trying to break. And blaming America all the way for intervening in others business. The fact is that all powerful counties do this and it is time for people of the word to stand up to this disgusting pretence.
  • Western media. When the riots in Kiev started they were so happy on British channels to shout “Ukrainians are against Russia now!” How do you think this would make Russians feel?  I’ve met an artist who said to me something like “How great, Ukrainians are rebelling against your lot now” – almost instead of hello. It felt horrible. People, especially being in minority and living abroad, often perceive the view of they country as the way the locals look at them. Initially BBC and Channel 4 made me totally believe Russian propaganda: that Ukraine is full of neo-Nazis hating everything Russian (and therefore me too).
  • Idiots who proposed to get rid of the second state language. Western Ukrainian language is from the West of the country, it never been spoken by natives of many other regions, including the Crimea (which was given to Ukraine in 50s without any consent of its inhabitants – mind you, it didn’t matter so much as this was just a part of one country). The threat of abolishing their language caused great anger among Russian speaking Ukrainians and you can’t really blame them.
  • Violence during protests. Protesting is fine and in many cases great but why some protesters expect again and again the police to throw chocolates and flowers in return for bricks and Molotov cocktails? Violence leads to even worse violence, situation escalates. I am appalled by the scenes of rioters beating up the police or pushing each other through angry striking crowd, or making people kneel. This is medieval barbarism.
  • Nationalists on all sides. They are always in the wrong. It is limited, primitive view of the word in which one nation is more important than another. This has no future. The only good thing that this conflict may produce is that any government will stay away from Far Right as much as possible, scared by Russia’s over the top reaction to some nazis who joined the riots. There are plenty of nationalists in Russia too: I know because I lived under constant pressure to join them in the 90s. Rather than getting outraged at the idea that “our lot is being beaten up” (as nationalist do) humans should get outraged when anyone on this planet is beaten up.
  • Ambiguity of the international law on regional independence. Why some allowed referendums and some are not? Personally I think splitting countries only increases bureaucracy and nationalistic feelings. But this really should be for locals to decide, isn’t it?
  • Clergy on all sides blessing the guns, calling people martyrs and promising heavens. This divide people by religion and leads to more violence. Remarkable exchange of words happened between Ukrainian and Moscow branches of Russian Orthodox church. Ukrainian side asked Russian one to influence their government in preventing bloodshed. What Moscow church PR person Chaplin (not funny one) said was almost word to word from Hitler speech on annexing Austria. Nation, separated by borders, under threat have right to unite. Ukrainians, do not resist and you won’t be harmed… What this has to do with religion? Or is the church truly inseparable from the government in Russia now? Dark ages are back.

With all the screaming and emotions it is difficult to know what is really going on. I recommend following several different media channels, but also ordinary people in the midst of it. I put more trust to the opinions of wise and educated people.

It is all so sad because normally there is not much barriers between Russians and Ukrainians. There is often a feeling that we should not even belong to different countries. After all, Kiev was the first capital of Russia! But then all humans are brothers too, who left their motherland in Africa some time ago and we all separated to tribes who often don’t want to listen to each other…

What are the lessons? I think the only way to better future is away from nationalism, violence, mass media brainwashing and state-level dishonesty.

The brightest moments of the last few days were when Russia Today presenters expressed their honest views among suffocating propaganda. We do watch this channel from time to time, normally it is full of weird conspiracy theorists but presently it feels like the most aggressive brainwashing I’ve ever seen. Somebody from Ukraine recently said that their propaganda channels are full of lies too…

I do hope the situation de-escalate before it is too late.

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Jun 182012
 

Sectarian Violence Undermines Syrian Regime

Posted on Jun 17, 2012

By Juan Cole

The Syrian upheaval has gone through several stages. It began with relatively peaceful protests by crowds in a handful of small and medium-size cities outside the large metropolitan areas of Damascus and Aleppo. Severe repression by the national regime led some revolutionaries to turn to guerrilla tactics. The ruling Baath government subjected the quarters held by the Free Syrian Army to heavy artillery and tank assaults. More recently, as the rebellion continued to spread in small towns, the military has provided cover to death squads that have massacred civilians in an attempt to scare them into submission. The most frightening thing about this spiral of ever greater violence and brutality is that some of the now-hardened lines have been sectarian.

The Syrian army assault on the rebellious Sunni village of al-Haffa in Latakia province, which has left it a ghost town, exemplifies this move toward religious war. Latakia is heavily Alawite, and protecting members of this religious group from Sunni dominance is one of the latent functions of the regime. The upper echelons of the ruling Baath Party and its officer corps are dominated by the Alawite sect of Shiite Islam. Only about 10 percent of Syrians are Alawite. On the order of 70 percent of Syrians belong to the rival Sunni branch of Islam. (Many Syrian Sunnis are secularists.) The car bomb that recently damaged the Shiite shrine of Sayyida Zaynab in Damascus may have primarily targeted nearby Intelligence Ministry buildings, but those who detonated it may have been happy enough to hurt Shiite religious sensibilities.

The death squads, Shabiha, deployed by the regime against the towns of Houla and Mazraat al-Qubair in recent weeks are drawn from the Alawi sect. Many of the Sunnis being targeted have been organized by the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. Houla and Mazraat al-Qubair are largely Sunni hamlets surrounded by powerful Alawi towns.

The black-garbed Shabiha, or “ghost gangs,” began as criminal organizations in the Alawite-dominated port of Latakia in the 1970s after the Alawite Assad family came to power in Syria, and some of its members are drawn from the Assad and related Deeb and Makhlouf clans. Although the groups were curbed in the 1990s after they became too arrogant even for the Assads to countenance, they re-emerged in 2011 as paramilitary adjuncts to the army and security police. In Alawite areas, they have been accused of detaining Syrians with Sunni names at checkpoints and doing away with them.

The Baath Party was founded in the 1940s by two Christian intellectuals who advocated a secular Arab nationalism. In some ways, the “Resurrection,” or Baath, party was to resemble the Communist Party, but instead of championing the working class and being universal it would uplift ethnic Arabs and unite them to throw off the vestiges of Western, colonial domination. This attempt to subvert socialism with an appeal to essentially racist themes made the Baath an odd hybrid of fascism and Third-Worldism. Non-Arab minorities in Baath-ruled countries, such as the Kurds, often faced discrimination or worse.

Baathists came to power through coups in Syria and Iraq in the 1960s. Ironically, the Baath one-party state became a vehicle for well-organized minorities to take over the government. Thus, in Syria the Alawite Shiites dominated the Baath regime from 1970, whereas in Iraq control of the ruling Baath party was held by a Sunni clan from Tikrit (that of Saddam Hussein).

Syria’s Baath Party has lasted so long and attracted the loyalty of so many Syrians over the decades in part because it aided Syria’s transition from a rural, peasant country to an urban one. It carried out a land reform that redistributed land to peasants and liquidated the old big-landlord class. The Baathists built dams and irrigation works for farmers, earning the gratitude and support of many rural Sunni clans. Largely rural depot towns such as Deraa in the south near the Jordanian border were among the biggest beneficiaries of these Baath programs, and so were known as strong party backers, producing several high regime officials and officers.

Rural Syria has had a prolonged and severe drought, and the Baath government has not been good in this decade about managing water resources. Rural Sunni clans have suffered most from this water crisis.

A majority of Syrians now live in towns and cities, and their needs are different from those of their farming parents. The Baath Party’s reduction of fuel and other subsidies and encouragement of unaccountable big business have angered the urban population. (These policies, pushed by international banks and elites, are generally referred to as “Neoliberalism.”) Largely Sunni towns have seen high unemployment, especially in slums on outskirts full of former farmworkers forced to seek jobs in the cities, often unsuccessfully.

At its heart, the Syrian crisis is a conflict that pits the urban metropolises (Damascus, Aleppo and Latakia) that benefit from government largesse against the medium-size cities and rural towns that have suffered from drought and Neoliberal policies. It so happens that this divide also aligns, if unevenly, with sectarian cleavages, with the provincial cities and towns being mostly religiously conservative and Sunni, and the big-cities bastions of minority power and secular Sunni business classes dependent on the regime.

The Syrian government’s resort to Alawite death squads in recent weeks, however, has threatened the big-city alliance that has allowed the Baath to survive. The sight of Sunni women and children massacred by the Shabiha in Houla and Mazraat al-Qubair drove Sunni shopkeepers in the capital to instigate a general strike. Protests and small insurgencies are now taking place even in Damascus.

The regime of Bashar Assad squandered whatever good will it had in rural and small-town Syria by its heavy-handed repression of the protests. Among its few remaining assets was the support of Christian, Alawi and secular Sunni middle classes in the large cities, groups that fear the rise of Sunni fundamentalism, are disturbed by the decline of security for property, and benefit from Baath government licenses and contracts. The deployment of Shabiha death squads, however, has clearly pushed many of these former supporters into the opposition. It is now the regime that is threatening public security and fanning the flames of sectarian hatred. If the Syrian revolution finally succeeds, it will be because the Baath regime betrayed its commitments to secularism, socialism and public order, becoming in the eyes of the public just another sectarian mafia.

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Mar 232012
 

The Lord’s Resistance Army, or Lord’s Resistance Movement, is a militant group operating in northern Uganda, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic[6] accused of widespread human rights violations, including murder, abduction, mutilation, and forcing children to participate in hostilities.[7][8]

Initially it was an outgrowth and continuation of the larger armed resistance movement waged by some of the Acholi people against a central Ugandan government which they felt marginalized them at the expense of southern Ugandan ethnic groups. Ideologically, the group is a syncretic mix of of African mysticism, Acholi nationalism, and Christian fundamentalism.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18] and claims to be establishing a theocratic state based on the Ten Commandments and local Acholi tradition.[19][20][21]

The group is led by Joseph Kony, who proclaims himself the spokesperson of God and a spirit medium, primarily of the Holy Spirit, which the group believes can represent itself in many manifestations.

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Nov 152011
 

Germany: Neo-Nazi terrorist gang linked to 10 murders

Police believe a neo-Nazi terrorist gang is linked to at least 10 murders in Germany, prosecutors said.
BERLIN, Germany — German police believe a gang of neo-Nazi terrorists may have been responsible for the murders of at least 10 people, mostly immigrants.

Two suspected gang members killed themselves after a botched robbery attempt last week. Another two were arrested Sunday, prosecutors said.

In videos found by police, the alleged terrorists claim to have killed eight Turkish men, one Greek man and a policewoman.

The killings, which became known in Germany as the “doner kebab murders” because two took place in kebab restaurants, were committed in a number of German cities between 2000 and 2007, reported The Local. Most of the victims were shot in the face in broad daylight while they worked.

Police also suspect that the gang was involved in several other crimes, said the Guardian, including a nail bombing in a Turkish neighborhood in Cologne.

The gang members called themselves the “National Socialist Underground” after Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) party, and threatened to carry out more attacks.

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Aug 302011
 

If you came out of you native country and the news programs or newspapers in another country offend you just because they don’t always share the same views as official in your country or offend you because they criticize your native country – that’s high on the nationalism – meter…

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 August 30, 2011  Posted by at 13:57 Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  No Responses »
Aug 302011
 

If you came out of you native country and the news programs or newspapers in another country offend you just because they don’t always share the same views as official in your country or offend you because they criticize your native country – that’s high on the nationalism – meter…

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 August 30, 2011  Posted by at 13:57 Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , ,  No Responses »