When I read headlines like: Deaths as Israel storms aid ship or Israeli Massacres Go International; Commandos Kill 16 Free Gaza Activists I despair. And then to read the vitriolic comments for and against the action, my sense of desperation grows. I feel more strongly for the underdog and I can not fathom why such a rich and intelligent culture as Israel’s can not divine a peaceful settlement. Very sad. A dismal illustration of humanity’s self ignorance and destruction.
A cease fire in Gaza has allowed the full scale of death and devastation to be be seen. Hundreds of people killed and wounded, mostly civilians in a few short weeks. Buildings and utilities destroyed. For what? For pride.
There is no doubt that the conflict in Palestine is complex. There is no easy solution. Outsiders will not be able to make a solution, but they can help and they should stop fuelling the bloodshed. The Economist sketches the problems with their leader The Hundred Years’ War here.
There was a global outcry against the bombardment of Gaza by Israel. While observers could sympathise with Israel for the trouble they feel on their borders, they knew that the belligerent response was primitive, futile and unjust. (Those with a perspective drawn from the conflict in Northern Ireland, know that to live together in peace is better for all.)
The irony of the ceasefire is that both sides may say they have “won”, though many lives have been lost, reconcilliation has not been discussed and protagonists remain convinced that further violence is the solution.
The solution to the conflict between Arab and Israelis will not be based in politics but in an emotional enlightening in which people are able to forgive and move on. Violence must be removed from the equation. Money must be spent on creating communities, jobs and well-being for all, rather than weapons. But this is unlikely to be realised until those outside the region set an example and grow out of their their long standing prejudices and righteousness. Prayers must be for peace, not for vengeance.
A new film shows the reality of life for people in the middle east. A simple story of students breaking curfew to go to a school reunion it brings to life the tension and impossibility of humanity in the middle east. It will not be released till April, but this review gives a sense of the film and its story.
There are reports that Israel is considering returning the Golan Heights to Syria in return for peace. The occupation of teh Golan Heights by Israel is the principal reason that peace talks broke down.
It would be a milestone in Middle East diplomacy if Israel were to follow through on this idea and would raise the possibility of achieving compromises throughout the region in our lifetimes.
How can anyone be deluded about the unwillingness to compromise in the Middle East. The Annapolis meeting of last year has proven to be worthless (as expected). Poisoning water (of soldiers as well as civilians) is tantamount to chemical warfare and unethical. The bombing raids just exacerbate the problem. Israels belligerents need to grow up and learn that peace does not come from weapons, but from education and jobs. Its long overdue time for America to change its tune and demand peace from its ally.
The US National Intelligence Directorate issued a report today stating that Iran has not pursued nuclear weapons development since 2003. This is in stark contrast to the US’s aggressive words in international circles and the snubbing of Iran’s President on a recent visit to the US. The IAEA continuing to analyse the nature of Iran’s nuclear programme, has also given a passing grade.
While it is likely that the National Intelligence Directorate may be poo-pooed by some, it is a good opportunity for the American administration to show a more friendly face and even apologise. This would help lay the ground for a constructive peace effort in the middle east. At least we can hope that for the time being, the US will not invade Iran as part of its strategy to control oil resources.
This report and linked reports by the BBC analyse the problems and opportunity for peace in the Middle East which the Bush administration has sponsored. Unfortunately there remain fundamental differences which will impede progress, including the exclusion of important stakeholders in the process (such as Hamas) and the favourable bias that many feel the US exercises to Israel. On a more positive note, the overall initiative underlies a desire for peace and a willingness to compromise on some issues.
The report by the IAEA on Iran’s nuclear programmes is not the dramatic revelation that some expected. In Iran’s favour, most of the data reveals authentic energy applications of nuclear material. On the other hand, questions remain about what current activities are. And those questions are being asked.
The response by both Iran and the US is as might have been expected before the report’s release: “We told you so!” While it might be OK for Iran to request an apology, it is unhelpful that both (especially America) continues a hard nosed approach to international relations. It certainly adds credibility to the far greater threat that America wants to do an “Iraq” in Iran and either control or destroy its oil resources. Let’s hope the IAEA can be a balancing influence on them both.
It is welcome news that Iraq is working with Chinese and Iranian businesses to expand the country’s power infrastructure. Shanghai Heavy Industry of China will build a $ 940 million, 1,300 MW plant and Sunir of Iran will build a $ 150 million, 160 MW plant. Together they will increase Iraqi electricity generating capacity by over 20%. The Iraqi Electricity Ministry is one of the few in the central government that has successfully invested money allocated to it in the Iraqi budget for reconstruction projects. Because of corruption most funds for reconstruction have either been left unspent or poured into projects that have had a marginal impact on the quality of life for Iraqi citizens. (Although provincial spending, though smaller than national budgets, is more efficient.)
Some might be concerned by Iraq’s engagement with Iran while the US condemns the Iranian nuclear power programme. However, pragmatic observers will realise that Iran and Iraq working together means peace in the region and power for Iraq means that factories can operate and people can rebuild their lives. The development of industrial and social infrastructure has been critical to encouraging people to live instead of fight, to stay instead of leave. The investment by Iran and China also means those nations have a stake in Iraq’s stability – a far more persuasive motivator than war. Peace in the region depends on cooperation between neighbours, not a military surge.