This is the speech delivered by former South African president and chairperson of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan, Thabo Mbeki, at the University of Juba, South Sudan, on 7 January 2011. He delivered a similar speech at the University of Khartoum on 5 January 2011.
Director of Ceremonies,
President Abdusalami Abubakar,
President Pierre Buyoya,
Honourable Ministers of the Government of South Sudan,
Vice Chancellor, students and staff of the University of Juba,
Members of Southern Sudan civil society,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen:
On behalf of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan I would like to thank the University of Juba and the Southern Sudan civil society coalition for giving us the opportunity to address this important gathering today.
With your permission, I would like to begin this Address by repeating what I said two days ago when I spoke at the University of Khartoum.
When the Panel was constituted in October 2009, at the conclusion of our work as the AU Panel on Darfur, the Peace and Security Council said our mandate was to work with the Government and people of Sudan (i) to pursue policies it had adopted focused on the resolution of the conflict in Darfur, (ii) to assist in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and (iii) to support the process of the democratisation of Sudan.
As you can see, this mandate covers virtually all the important challenges currently facing Sudan. For this reason, to honour our present and earlier mandates, we have spent the greater part of the past 21 months here in Sudan, having had virtually to defer all our other engagements in our own countries.
You may ask why I have told you all this.
I thought this might be important in order to communicate what I believe is an important message. That message is that your Continent, Africa, and its premier organisation, the African Union, are deeply concerned to do everything possible to assist the sister people of Sudan to address the challenges I have mentioned.
As a token of its seriousness in this regard, the AU did what it had never done before and appointed three former Heads of State to act as its Task Force to help resolve what the Union views as matters that are of critical importance to the future of our Continent.
We speak to you today on the eve of the historic referendum of Southern Sudan which will determine the future of this part of Sudan and Sudan as a whole. Equally, it is a fulfilment of the momentous Comprehensive Peace Agreement. It is a day for which generations strived and longed for, as well as the commencement of a process of the reconstruction of Sudan, both North and South.
We speak to you as fellow Africans, who have had the privilege of witnessing many African countries exercise their right of self-determination and engage in complex and sustained processes of peace and nation building, democratisation, reconstruction and development.
There is no gainsaying the fact that the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which finally ended a twenty-one year long civil war will reach one of its critical moments in two days’ time.
When the late Dr. John Garang de Mabior, Chairman of the SPLM, and Vice President Ali Osman Taha signed that historic accord, sceptical voices were raised. Some amongst these argued that the agreement was no more than a truce and that the war was certain to resume. Still others claimed that northern Sudan would never allow it to be implemented, or that the southern Sudanese would never be able to establish their own government.
The referendum which is about to commence represents the faithful implementation of the central provisions of the CPA, itself a reflection of the maturity of the leadership and people of Sudan as a whole.
In this context, we would like to congratulate President Omar Hassan al Bashir, First Vice President Salva Kiir Mayardit and Vice President Ali Osman Taha for successfully leading their parties and the people of Sudan to this historic moment. Similarly we cannot but once more pay posthumous tribute to the late Dr John Garang.
Even as we pay tribute to these important leaders, we should not forget to salute those who preceded them. We recall here great African patriots such as Mayen Mathiang, the Prophet Ngundeng, King Akwei of the Anuak, and King Gbudwe Basingbe of the Zande, who bravely resisted the invader. We also recall the liberators of the generation of the 1920s such as Ariendit of the Malwal Dinka, Kon Anok of the Aliab, and Gwek Ngundeng.
As the coloniser pursued control over southern Sudan, the White Flag League, drawing from the rich traditions of the patriots to which we have just referred, was founded to liberate Sudan as a whole.
Thus did Ali Abdel Latif, a southern Sudanese, in 1922, issue a clarion call for the right of self-determination for all the peoples of the Nile Valley. Two years later he served as one of the founders of the first secular nationalist movement in Sudan.
Like his fellow Africans further south in South Africa, the founders of the African National Congress who, at its formation in 1912 had committed themselves to “burying the demon of tribalism”, Ali Abdel Latif correctly recognised that the success of the struggle for liberation lay in the unity of all Africans regardless of their ethnic backgrounds.
We must similarly acknowledge the historic contributions of such leaders as General Joseph Lagu and the Honourable Abel Alier.
Indeed, as a consequence of the colonial policy against which Ali Abdel Latif and his comrades fought, southern Sudan was, fifty years ago, one of the least developed regions of the country and Continent. It had low infrastructure development, the lowest levels of education, and most rudimentary forms of administration.
When, in January 1953, the Sudanese and Egyptian political leaders agreed with the British on the Sudan’s right of self-determination, no single southern Sudanese leader participated. When Sudan made the transition from colonial administration to self-government, just a handful of the 800 administrative positions available were awarded to southerners.
When Sudan achieved its independence on 1 January 1956, the southern Sudanese members of the national assembly were unable to enforce the government’s commitment to a federal system that took southern concerns into account. This continued the colonial legacy of underdevelopment not only in south Sudan but also in the rest of the country, save for Khartoum and other northern areas.
The exercise of the right to self-determination by the Southern Sudanese in two days’ time will therefore be a fitting culmination to a long period of struggle. It must therefore also be a moment when we salute the heroes and heroines of the SPLM/SPLA and their predecessors who laid down their lives and otherwise made many sacrifices to ensure that the people of Southern Sudan have the possibility freely to determine their destiny.
We are certain that the example set by these patriots will continue to inspire present and future generations of Southern Sudanese to respond to the new challenges they must and will confront.
The legacy of underdevelopment we have mentioned is yet to be overcome. The challenge facing southern Sudan in the years ahead is to fight a new war. This is a war against poverty to build a better life for all the people of southern Sudan. As the experience of all our countries on the Continent confirms, this will be a long and protracted war which will have to be anchored on a sound South Sudan Reconstruction and Development Programme pursued and implemented in the context of peaceful co-existence with her neighbours, starting with northern Sudan.
It will of necessity also have to be anchored on a democratic, developmental state capable of articulating and mobilising the necessary capacity from amongst the people to implement its programme with the people as the central pillars of that programme.
Necessarily, this means that the new southern Sudan state will have to articulate and develop relations with the rest of the region, the Continent and the world while paying attention to the creation of its own internal capacity to respond to its own developmental challenges.
This, of course, should be part and parcel of, and contribute to the realisation of an important objective of the exercise of the right to self-determination, the right to respect and human dignity.
In all the African liberation struggles, our movements were also determined to create the conditions for self-fulfilment, including celebration of our languages and cultures and the affirmation of our identities. We are certain that here too the exercise of the right to self-determination will give the people of Southern Sudan the possibility to achieve these objectives.
As all of us know so well, the defeat of colonialism on our Continent created the possibility for the peoples of Africa to take the initiative to rebuild their unity, as was expressed by the formation of the OAU forty eight years ago. Recognising the fact that that unity required the total liberation of Africa, independent Africa acted in unity to ensure the total eradication of colonialism and apartheid.
We make these comments to underline the point that the African struggle for liberation has always also had the objective to achieve African integration and unity, informed by the imperative to give expression to African solidarity. Again we are certain that as the people of Southern Sudan exercise their right to self-determination, so will they continue to address the important issue of how they should contribute to the larger Pan-African project.
Happily the people of Southern Sudan have direct experience of the real meaning and importance of African solidarity.
With respect to Sudan, that African solidarity was expressed through practical politics. Neighbouring countries hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees from Sudan’s wars. Communities and governments provided land, shared basic resources and services, and directed international aid towards refugees. The cost of this assistance to African countries has gone largely unmeasured, but its significance is as great as, or greater than, the aid channelled through international organizations.
Equally notably, it was IGAD that conceived and nurtured the agenda of self-determination as a right for the people of southern Sudan and as the central component in a resolution of the Sudanese crisis. The 1994 IGAD Declaration of Principles served as the foundation document for the Machakos Protocol of 2002 and ultimately the CPA itself.
At the darkest hour of the war in southern Sudan, when the end of the struggle seemed at its most remote, when the people were most divided and demoralised, it was Sudan’s African neighbours, acting in a spirit of collective solidarity, which identified the foundation stone of a future settlement. And for eight long years these countries did not waver in their commitment to the Sudanese people.
However and at the same time, the southern Sudanese people, whatever is their choice in the referendum about to be held, will emerge as true contributors to the emancipation and transformation of our continent. The self-determination of the southern Sudanese people is therefore a cause for celebration across Africa, an opportunity for Africa’s advancement and a spur further to entrench the African solidarity which has stood all the Sudanese people both North and South in good stead.
Southern Sudan is about to exercise its right to self-determination in the 21st century, in the context of a transformed global environment and with the possibility to learn from the accumulated experience of African independence. We would therefore like to believe that should you, the people of southern Sudan, choose independence, you would indeed draw on this experience to ensure the successful construction of what will be Africa’s 54th state.
Part of that experience tells us that the struggle for self-determination is also a struggle for democracy and equality. The exercise of national self-determination, marked by the birth of an independent state is a vital step, but it is not the only step. It is when all citizens in a state, regardless of colour, race, ethnic origin, religious belief or gender exercise equal rights, that it can be said that freedom has truly been achieved.
When the SPLM was fighting its long war, it espoused the twin principles of self-determination for southern Sudan, and building a New Sudan based on the equality of all citizens. The two principles are not incompatible. Indeed they complement each other. Should the vote on self-determination be in favour of secession, this will surely reflect the sentiments of the southern Sudanese that they did not enjoy equal status within a united Sudan.
As the South Sudan Interim Constitution indicates so unequivocally, the solution to any such discrimination is not to establish a new state that upholds a different and reverse hierarchy of discrimination. Rather it is to establish a state in which no such discrimination is allowed to exist.
Within Southern Sudan, the days and months following the historic exercise of the right of self-determination will be a time for healing, for reconciliation and for building a new, inclusive and democratic Southern Sudan.
In this context we would like to commend the Chairperson of the SPLM and President of the Government of Southern Sudan, H.E. Salva Kiir Mayardit, for the initiative he took towards the end of last year to convene a meeting of the South Sudanese political parties during which they agreed to work together to rebuild Southern Sudan inspired by a common patriotism and commitment to serve the people of Southern Sudan.
Similarly, we reiterate our warm welcome of the amnesty which the President announced to end all conflicts within Southern Sudan, precisely to address the critically important challenge of peace, unity and reconciliation.
It is understandable that Sudanese of northern origin who live here in southern Sudan should feel anxious at this time.
We are greatly encouraged by the reassurances given by the leadership of southern Sudan, that the rights of all northern Sudanese would be respected and protected within the context of the country’s nationality and citizenship laws. We are confident that all southern Sudanese will take this exhortation to heart, and make a special effort to allay the fears of any northerners living among them.
Equally, we are confident that, in the case of the secession of the south, northern Sudan will also embrace its diverse identity as an African nation. Those Southern Sudanese resident in northern Sudan should equally be respected and protected, again within the context of the legal framework the North will establish for itself.
Africa’s experience also communicates the message that successful nation building requires an equitable sharing of the country’s national resources to ensure balanced development of all communities and regions. The people of Southern Sudan have direct experience of what this has meant to them.
Starting during the colonial period, and continued during the years of independence, this part of Sudan, like other regions of the country, was negatively affected by the concentration of resources in one part of the country and the marginalisation of the rest. We are certain that this will put an independent South Sudan in good stead as it implements its own development programme, which will surely ensure that the gross mistake of the underdevelopment of the periphery is not repeated.
That long period of marginalisation has imposed on this part of Sudan a very heavy burden of underdevelopment which will take a considerable period of time and resources to eradicate. We trust that the broad leadership of the people of Southern Sudan, and not only those in government, will make the necessary effort to communicate the message to the people as a whole that it will indeed take time to address their development needs and aspirations and thus help to manage their legitimate expectations.
Africa’s experience also informs us that to achieve the development it needs, Southern Sudan will also have to build a strong developmental state which would lead the process of the reconstruction and development of the new country. We are certain that the leadership of Southern Sudan is doing all the necessary work to ensure that this objective is achieved, to ensure that it accelerates the process of bringing about the socio-economic changes which the people will expect as the independence dividend.
In the negotiations on the Post-Referendum Arrangements, the leaders of the SPLM and the NCP have reached the important agreement that in the event of secession, they will work together to build “two viable states.”
This commitment to “two viable states” has political, security, economic and social dimensions. It is deeper than a promise to respect one another’s sovereignty. It requires ongoing cooperation in all those fields, and building a special relationship of good neighbourliness, friendship and solidarity across what will be the longest international border on this continent. This border should be a “soft border”, allowing the people who live adjacent to the border, or whose livelihoods depend upon crossing the border, to continue their lives with minimal disruption.
We are certain that as they develop their relationship as two viable states, Southern and Northern Sudan will also pay particular attention to what Africa is working to achieve, taking into account at least half-a-century of independence.
We refer here to the task which Africa has set itself to move forward as rapidly as possible towards its political and economic integration and unity, both to reverse the colonial legacy of fragmentation and to use the combined capacities of our states to bring more meaningful benefits to the peoples of Africa as a whole, especially within the context of the process of globalisation.
In the 21st century it is as clear as ever that if Africa is to rise and meet the aspirations of its people, it must unite, but that such unity must take the form of a true economic and social integration, upon which base we can build political unity. If Southern Sudan secedes, this might indeed create the possibility for the two states to lead Africa by showing our Continent the way forward about what might be done to achieve the integration which our Continent has set as one of its urgent and principal goals.
Further, we should not forget that one of the distinguishing features of Sudanese national identity has been its openness to immigration, its readiness to welcome people from all corners of the African continent. Sudan has truly been a melting pot of diverse identities. In this context, the commitment to two viable states must be seen as a commitment to two viable Sudanese states, each of them distinguished by this commitment to pluralism and diversity, and to openness to the entire African continent, including of course to each other.
We are greatly encouraged that the leadership of both Southern and Northern Sudan is determined to maintain a special relationship between the two parts of the country, seeing the possibility of a vote for secession as a chance to re-set this relationship on the basis of equality. The aftermath of the referendum will be an opportunity for the Northern and Southern Sudanese to know one another better, to reconcile, to overcome the difficult legacies of the past, and to forge closer and more durable relationships.
In this context we should also remind ourselves that Sudan has always been a multi-ethnic African state. Should it divide into two countries, it will divide into two diverse, multi-ethnic African states. Some writers on Sudan have spoken of an “African” south and an “Arab” north. However we are firmly of the view that both Southern and Northern Sudan are equally African.
Some of the citizens of Sudan speak Arabic as their native language and can trace their genealogies to Arab countries, but this does not make them any less African than any other Sudanese. They are African Arabs. Indeed, from its earliest days the SPLM acknowledged, with regard to Arab identity and language, that “this aspect of our reality is immutable.”
In the event of a vote for secession, it is as these African countries that the two states will have to build a relationship of friendship and mutually beneficial cooperation not only between themselves, but also with the rest of Africa, starting with their neighbours.
With regard to Southern Sudan we are certain that you do not need anybody to remind you that it is located adjacent to vast areas of the African continent that have suffered and suffer from conflict, including the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes region and Central Africa. We are certain that an independent Southern Africa will act as a positive force in this neighbourhood, contributing to the attainment of the important regional and African objectives of peace, stability and development.
It is also a matter of common cause that because of its location, today’s Sudan has the possibility to make a powerful contribution to the development of a large part of our Continent and therefore Africa as a whole because it shares borders with nine other countries. In the event of secession, the two states will continue to bear a continuing obligation to their neighbourhood and thus position themselves as major players in Africa’s quest for its renewal.
The historic referendum that will start on 9 January, in which you all have a chance to vote, marks the true emancipation of the people of southern Sudan. Whether the people vote for unity or for secession, the act of choosing is itself an act of great importance. What will be decided thereafter will be decided through the free will of the people.
However the work of freedom is just at its beginning. We are confident that the Southern Sudanese people have the strength and spirit to succeed in that endeavour. We are equally confident that the leaders of Southern Sudan have the determination and capacity to take their people forward, as valued partners among the peoples of Africa, in the 21st century.
We are very happy that the University of Juba and the Southern Sudan civil society coalition have given us this opportunity to speak to you, including the young people of Southern Sudan, at this critical point in the history of the Sudanese nation.
Once again, with your permission, we would like to repeat what we said two days ago when we spoke at the University of Khartoum.
As Africans we know that the future of Sudan, both south and north, is our future. As Sudanese, both southerners and northerners, you must know that Africa stands and will stand with you regardless of the political season, and that our solidarity and friendship are unconditional.
As Africans we know that whatever the challenges of the moment, Sudan will achieve peace with itself and friendship among all its people, which peace and friendship will draw the Sudanese people, their neighbours and all Africa, ever closer together.
We, who represent an older generation, which has made its own mistakes and its own contribution to a better Africa, count on you, the youth of Africa, to discover and carry out your own mission, which would surely contain the objective to achieve the renaissance both of Sudan, whether one country or two, and your mother Continent, Africa.
This is the speech delivered by former South African president and chairperson of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan, Thabo Mbeki, at the University of Khartoum on the 5 January 2011. He delivered a similar speech at the University of Juba, South Sudan, on 7 January 2011.
Director of Ceremonies,
President Pierre Buyoya,
Vice Chancellor, Students and staff of the University of Khartoum,
Your Excellencies Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps,
Ladies and gentlemen:
On behalf of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan I would like to thank the University of Khartoum and its Peace Centre for giving us the opportunity to address this important gathering today.
When the Panel was constituted, at the conclusion of our work as the AU Panel on Darfur, the Peace and Security Council said our mandate was to work with the Government and people of Sudan (i) to pursue policies it had adopted focused on the resolution of the conflict in Darfur, (ii) to assist in the implementation of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, and (iii) to support the process of the democratisation of Sudan.
As you can see, this mandate covers virtually all the important challenges currently facing Sudan. For this reason, to honour our present and earlier mandates, we have spent the greater part of the past 21 months here in Sudan, having had virtually to defer all our other engagements in our own countries.
You may ask why I have told you all this.
I thought this might be important in order to communicate what I believe is an important message. That message is that your Continent, Africa, and its premier organisation, the African Union, are deeply concerned to do everything possible to assist the sister people of Sudan to address the challenges I have mentioned.
As a token of its seriousness in this regard, the AU did what it had never done before and appointed three former Heads of State to act as its Task Force to help resolve what the Union views as matters that are of critical importance to the future of our Continent.
As students or casual observers of African politics, especially as you celebrated your 55th anniversary of independence only four days ago, you will be aware of the fact that most commentators and African histories say that Ghana was the first sub-Sahara country to gain independence after the Second World War.
The historical reality however is that this country, Sudan, gained its independence more than a year ahead of Ghana, which became independent in 1957.
The question therefore arises – why is the mistake made so repeatedly, that Ghana became independent ahead of Sudan, with many of even your fellow Africans even being unaware of when Sudan gained its independence!
The truth is that this mistake derives from this country’s unhappy history.
As all of us know, a year ahead of your independence, in 1955, a rebellion broke out in Southern Sudan. The essential reason for the rebellion was that your compatriots in the South saw the impending independence as a threat to them, which they elected to oppose by resorting to the weapons of war.
I would like to suggest that it was the 1955 rebellion, and the subsequent first civil war, which communicated the firm message to the overwhelming majority of your fellow Africans, throughout Africa, that Sudan’s independence was not complete as it still had to complete the process of decolonisation.
It is from this that the view emerged that Ghana was the first sub-Sahara African country post-Second World War to achieve independence.
I am certain that you will have understood from what I have said that I believe that it was inevitable that as long as the rest of Africa entertained the belief that Sudan had not yet addressed the important issue of the peaceful coexistence of its diverse communities, so long would it sustain an ambivalent attitude towards this country’s independence.
That ambivalence was further reinforced by the outbreak of the second civil war in 1983 which encompassed not only southern Sudan but also the Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile, and finally ended 21 years later when the CPA was signed. As you would expect, it was also fed by the rebellions which broke out in Eastern Sudan and Darfur.
Before I proceed any further, I would like to say something else about our Panel.
We have come among you not as foreigners, but as fellow Africans who are convinced that we share a common destiny. Accordingly, it is not possible for us to distance ourselves from the problems this sister country and people face, arguing that these are Sudanese problems. To us the problems of Sudan are our problems, its challenges and successes our challenges and successes.
Accordingly we cannot and will not stand on some high pedestal, as some from elsewhere in the world do, demanding that Sudan must do this or do the other. Rather we will say, let us, together, do this or do the other, while, at the same time, we respect the sovereign right of the people of Sudan to determine their destiny.
This also means that to solve our common problems, to respond together to our common challenges and to determine our shared destiny as one African people, we must speak to you and to one another about those problems, challenges and destiny frankly and openly as fellow combatants for Africa’s renewal who share the same trenches.
It is in this spirit that we speak to you today, to respond to one another as the fellow combatants for Africa’s renewal, who share the same trenches I have mentioned.
The reality we face as we discuss Sudan’s contemporary challenges is that during the British colonial period, this city, Khartoum, and its wider environs came to serve as the focal point of the concentration of political and economic power, leaving the rest of the country as a marginalised, disempowered and underdeveloped periphery.
It was inevitable that sooner or later this periphery would rebel to contest its marginalisation, as was signalled by the South Sudan rebellion which broke out in 1955.
Part of our tragedy is that throughout the years of independence, until the conclusion of the CPA in 2005, the Darfur Peace Agreement in 2006 and the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement again in 2006, ruling groups in this country failed successfully to resolve the problem posed by the polarisation of Sudan into one centre and many peripheral regions.
Rather, to maintain its position of dominance and privilege, the centre chose to rely on the use of force and the silencing of the voice of the periphery by doing its best to stifle democratic opinion and action, seeing such democratic expression as a threat to its continued survival.
The historic peace agreements signed in 2005 and 2006 represented a decisive break with this costly past, a great leap forward away from the heritage which independent Sudan inherited from the inherently unjust and unsustainable colonial construct imposed on Sudan by the British-dominated Anglo-Egyptian Condominium.
All three of us, members of the AU Panel for Sudan, have had direct experience of radical change in our own countries.
Accordingly, all three of us, both singly and collectively, are especially sensitive to the challenges and enormous burdens those charged by historical circumstance to exercise the function of leadership have to face and carry during periods requiring radical political and social change.
We are therefore very mindful of the sacrifices the political leaders of Sudan have to make, even in terms of their personal lives, to play their roles as change agents for the creation of a new reality which portends a future of hope, happiness and a better life for all the people of Sudan.
In this regard, we would like to pay special tribute to their Excellencies, President Omar Hassan al-Bashir and Vice President Ali Osman Taha.
All of us owe the outstanding Sudanese and African success of the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, to the courage of these eminent Sudanese and African patriots to break with a painful past, and their commitment to work for a life of peace, happiness and prosperity for all Sudanese men, women and children.
We would also like to take this opportunity to thank these respected leaders and their colleagues for the manner in which they have opened theirs and all other doors in Sudan to enable us to do what we have had to do to discharge our obligation to work with all Sudanese to help determine our shared destiny.
We will continue confidently to rely on them, as must the Sudanese people as a whole, to continue to work for the implementation of the Peace Agreement we have mentioned, since they are not only signatories to these Agreements, but also their most eminent Guarantors.
We are also confident that the search for peace in Darfur will be pursued to a successful conclusion and that the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement will also be implemented fully, to become another African success.
Yesterday, speaking in Juba, President Bashir displayed once again his commitment to the CPA and his qualities of national leadership. There is no greater test of statesmanship than to accept, in a graceful, generous and humane manner, the decision of those of your people who have the opportunity to choose secession. President Bashir’s Juba speech demonstrated that he, and the Sudanese leadership, are rising to the occasion, meeting the challenge of the exercise of self-determination by the Southern Sudanese.
Similarly we would like to pay equal tribute to the late Dr John Garang de Mabior, so cruelly taken away from all of us by a most unfortunate accident, and His Excellency the First Vice President of the Republic and President of the Government of South Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit.
In particular, together, these two outstanding African patriots and their colleagues, overcame the constraints imposed on them and the people they led and lead by the pain and bitterness which are an unavoidable part of four decades of a deadly civil war.
Thus did they commit themselves to work to make the continued unity of the Sudanese people attractive, inspired by the noble vision to build a Sudan that would be characterised by forgiveness and reconciliation, informed by the imperative to achieve peace and friendship among all Africans, while fully respecting the right to self-determination of the people of Southern Sudan.
Again we would like to use this opportunity to thank H.E. President Salva Kiir Mayardit for everything he has done to facilitate the work of our Panel, being available at all times to receive us and listen to our views.
And again we will continue to rely on him, as must the Sudanese people as a whole, to continue to contribute to the reconstruction of Sudan, regardless of the outcome of the South Sudan Referendum, to help guarantee that all Sudanese live in conditions of peace, democracy, prosperity and mutually beneficial cooperation.
Those with little knowledge of Africa might conclude that the remarks I made earlier concerning our Continent’s ambivalence about the meaning of Sudan’s independence in 1956 represent the only factor that defines the attitude of the rest of Africa towards the sister people of Sudan.
What might therefore come across as a paradox to these is that, to the contrary, Sudan is for us as Africans, a valuable geographic and human segment of our Continent which inspires both pride and hope.
For a millennium Europe accustomed itself to a particularly negative and dehumanising view of all of us as Africans. For instance in his Natural History, the Roman, Pliny the Elder, wrote:
“Then come regions (in Africa) that are purely imaginary: towards the west of the Ethiopian Kingdom of Merowe are…the Agriophagi (wild-beast eaters), who live chiefly on the flesh of panthers and lions; the Pamphagi (eat-alls), who devour everything; the Anthropophagi (man-eaters), whose diet is human flesh.”
In the end this presentation of the African as a wild wild-beast eater, an omnivore and a cannibal, cultivated a demeaning vision of ourselves as Africans, which created the ideology which made it possible for our neighbours north of the Mediterranean to see us as fit objects to serve them as slaves, and whose lands they could later seize and treat as their property, and us as their colonial subjects, whom the colonisers said had every reason to be happy to be colonised and therefore exposed to their civilising influence.
However, and fortunately, contrary to the view of ourselves propagated by those inspired by notions of white supremacy, we now know of Nubian Sudan and its seminal contribution to the evolution of human civilisation and can see this contribution for instance in the pyramids north of this city, which are older than the Egyptian pyramids, and the ancient artefacts and remains, including mummies, which are in the National Museum located in this city.
Five thousand years ago the capital city of Kerma was one of the wonders of the world, its artists creating monumental granite statues of the Nubian Pharoahs of the era. Even today, archaeologists are making new finds, uncovering the true extent of the ancient civilisations of Sudan, which confirm that the first cities in the world were established along the banks of the Nile in Sudan.
I would like to believe that many among us here will be familiar with the comments made by the outstanding Senegalese scholar, Cheik Anta Diop, in his famous book, “Civilisation or Barbarism”.
Among other things Diop writes of “proof (being) now established that Nubian monarchy is the oldest in the history of humanity” and that the “Nubian royalty, which appears to us with the future essential attributes of the Egyptian monarchy, had preceded it by at least three generations.”
I refer to this ancient history because of its critical importance in the struggle we have to continue to wage as Africans, to reclaim our place as equals with other human beings, and not the sub-humans others claimed we were, thus to justify our transportation out of Africa as slaves and our subjugation as colonial subjects.
As I have indicated, much of that ancient history originates from this country, and serves to confirm Africa’s critical contribution to human civilisation. This cannot but position Sudan in our consciousness as Africans as a source of pride, a place from which we should draw inspiration as we work to achieve the renaissance of our Continent.
Further to this, Sudan gives us pride because it is a crossroads of Africa. Among the Sudanese, we find individuals and whole communities that originate from different corners of Africa. Every border, whether north, south, east or west, is straddled by communities that live both in Sudan and in the neighbouring countries.
Thus do we have Nubians here and in Egypt, the Beja in Sudan, Egypt and Eritrea, the Nuer and Anuak here and in Ethiopia, the Toposa shared with Kenya, the Acholi and Madi here and in Uganda, and the Zande here and the Congo.
The Fertit people are also in the Central African Republic and the Masalit, Zaghawa, Salamat and Rizeigat also in Chad.
The Zaghawa, the Zayadiya and the Meidob are also in Libya, as the Rashaida are on both sides of the Red Sea.
Immigration from West Africa, over many generations, has also enriched Sudan. Literally millions of people of West African origin are to be found in Sudan, fully integrated and accepted as Sudanese citizens.
We also find the very African identity of Sudan in the manner in which Islam and Arabic were introduced to this country. As the eminent Sudanese historian Yusuf Fadl Hasan has shown, Islam came to Sudan peacefully, not through invasion. The rulers of Sennar and later of Darfur embraced Islam, and adopted the use of the Arabic language for jurisprudence and for religious teaching, without compulsion.
Reflecting modern scholarship on the Funj kingdom, Professor Mahmood Mamdani writes:
“This historical narrative clarifies one noteworthy fact: ‘Arab’ signified the cultural self-identity of the new middle class. To be sure, there were immigrant ‘Arabs’, many of whom intermarried and became Sudanese over generations. As a group, however, the Arabs of the Nile Valley in northern Sudan are native Arabs. Using today’s political vocabulary, they are African Arabs.”
The Sudanese nation is a true melting pot of African peoples. Sudan’s Pan-Africanism has been of the most practical kind, welcoming and integrating people from across the continent. It has provided the Sudanese people with an exceptionally rich cultural heritage, and an unparalleled tradition of accepting and absorbing people.
To emphasise our pride in this country as Africans, we can also speak of the historic struggles waged by many Sudanese patriots to resist the colonisation of our Continent. In this context we would speak of resistance leaders whom you know, such as Mohamed Ahmed al Mahdi, the Masalit Sultan Taj el Din Ismail, the Zande King, Gbudwe Basingbe, the Nuer Prophet, Ngundeng and his son, Wek, and Ali Abdel Latif who called for self-determination for the peoples of the Nile Valley in 1922, which was followed by the formation of the White Flag League two years later.
I have said everything I have said about the ancient history of Sudan, its character as an African crossroads and welcoming home for all Africans and its heroic engagement in the struggle against the colonisation of our Continent both to indicate our pride in this country and to emphasise its responsibilities to the rest of Africa.
In this context I said that Sudan also serves as a place of hope for the rest of our Continent, which I will explain shortly.
We have gathered here a mere four days before the people of Southern Sudan vote in the historic referendum which will determine whether this remains one country or separates into two independent states.
In this context we would like to emphasise that should Sudan divide, it will not divide into an “African” south and an “Arab” north, still less into two states divided by adherence to different faiths. In the case of secession, the multi-ethnic, multi-religious African country of Sudan will divide into two countries, north and south, both of which are equally African, and both of which will of necessity embrace diversity.
We hold firmly to the view that northern Sudan is no less “African” than southern Sudan. Islam is a religion of Africa, just as the Arabs of Sudan and the Mahgreb are people of Africa. As pan-Africans we are proud of the achievements of the Arab and Muslim civilisations on this continent, which we regard as an integral part of our heritage.
Contemporary African generations should not use religion and race to divide Africa. Rather, inspired by many examples from Africa’s past, they should work to ensure that our diversity unites our continent.
We proceed from this understanding in our consideration of the challenges which Sudan face today and how the country is responding to these challenges.
Few countries in the world have had a more troubled legacy, dating back to an exceptionally bloody and bitter experience of imperial conquest, and including extreme divergence in methods of imperial rule and levels of social and economic development. In its post-colonial history, Sudan has struggled with unusually acute versions of the same challenges as other African nations, namely how to construct a polity informed by the principle and practice of forging unity in diversity.
It is natural that as we approach the South Sudan referendum, you in this hall, the Sudanese people as a whole and the rest of our Continent are keenly interested to know the answer to the question – whither Sudan?
What we would like to say to you in this regard is that we are convinced that regardless of the outcome of the referendum, you and all of us should value it as a decisive moment which gives Sudan the historic possibility to make a new beginning, a new start towards a future of hope, peace and a better life for all the people of Sudan.
It is also a decisive moment for Sudan in the context of its role and place in Africa. As it makes its new start, Sudan has the possibility to convey important lessons to the rest of our Continent, for the benefit of the peoples of Africa, about how to establish genuine and lasting peace after a period of war and how to construct successful societies and states based on true respect for the rich diversity characteristic of many African countries and so clearly exemplified by this country.
A former leader of this country, the late President Jaafar el-Nimiery, presented this challenge to make a new beginning to his fellow Sudanese in 1975 when he said:
“Unity based on diversity has become the essence and the raison d’etre of the political and national entity of many an emerging African country today. We take pride in that the Sudan of the Revolution has become the exemplary essence of this new hope. The Sudan is the biggest country in Africa. It lies in its heart and at its crossroads. Its extensive territory borders (nine) African countries. Common frontiers mean common ethnical origins, common cultures and shared ways of life and environmental conditions. Trouble in the Sudan would, by necessity, spill over its frontiers, and vice versa. A turbulent and unstable Sudan would not therefore be a catalyst of peace and stability in Africa, and vice versa.”
President Nimeiry was not, of course, able to fulfil this vision during his long rule which degenerated into dictatorship. His immediate successors, General Abdel Rahman Suwar al Dahab and Prime Minister Sadiq el-Mahdi, focused their energies on another proud strand of the Sudanese political tradition, namely nurturing democracy. Today, Sudan needs both the embrace of diversity and the promotion of democracy.
During the years of independence struggle, Sudan possessed one of the strongest progressive movements in Africa and the Middle East. The trade unions, the Communist Party and the University of Khartoum, were all beacons of progressive thought and action. Sudan’s Islamist movement, though inspired by thinkers in Egypt, Pakistan and elsewhere, was and remains an authentically Sudanese, and hence African, movement.
We are arguing that the peace and transformation processes represented by the CPA, the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement and the Peace Agreement for Darfur currently under discussion present Sudan with the opportunity of which Jaafar el-Nimeiry spoke 35 years ago, to position itself as “the exemplary essence of the new hope in Africa” which would be expressed by the success of Sudan, whether as one or two countries, to achieve social and national cohesion through meaningful respect for the diversity of the population.
Relying on our experience in this country during the last 21 months, we would make bold to say that the overwhelming majority of the broad Sudanese leadership and the people as a whole are determined to respond to the challenge of making the new beginning, the new start of which I have spoken.
In this context, let me deal with a few of the tasks which have to be carried out as part of that new beginning.
As you know, some in the rest of the world have persisted in communicating the false and negative messages that the Government of Sudan would do everything possible to ensure that the South Sudan referendum does not take place and that if it does, resulting in the secession of Southern Sudan, this would lead to the resumption of the war between the North and the South.
The truth these naysayers, driven by a superior sense of themselves, do not want to accept is that the Sudanese leaders are perfectly rational human beings, who are deeply committed to peace and well being for all the people of Sudan. The Sudanese leaders committed themselves to the CPA because it was the right thing to do for the Sudanese people, not because they were so dictated or pressured by the international community.
The referendum will take place, to fulfil the commitment made in the CPA. If the people of South Sudan vote for separation there will be no war, since the peace brought about by the CPA will be sustained.
And yet, the more the people of Sudan have communicated these messages in unequivocal terms, those who do not wish Sudan well, have grown ever more strident in their propagation of their scenarios of gloom and doom.
We are very happy that their ill-advised expectations will be disappointed as the leaders and people of Sudan honour their solemn undertakings and do what is right for them and the rest of Africa.
We are equally very happy to inform this important gathering that both the Government of Sudan and the SPLM have made the solemn and vitally important commitment that should the people of South Sudan vote for secession, they will work to ensure the emergence and peaceful coexistence of two viable states, informed by the objectives of renewed friendship and cooperation between the people of North and South Sudan.
Among other things, the concept of the construction of two viable states means that the two governments will work together to ensure that each of the states they lead will achieve such viability in all areas of human activity, including the economy, security and stability, national unity and territorial integrity.
It also means that the two governments will take all necessary measures to ensure that southerners resident in the North and northerners in the South are not adversely affected by the separation in terms of their socio-economic rights. Among other things this means that nobody will be rendered stateless.
Similarly, it means that the two states will maintain a ‘soft border’, to allow the people in both states to continue to interact with one another with no negative impact in terms of their economic and social relations and in terms of respect for the rights of the nomadic pastoralists.
At the same time, other outstanding commitments will be met, including the conduct of the Popular Consultations in Blue Nile and South Kordofan, the resolution of the issue of Abyei and the demarcation of the North-South border.
What all this means is that if Sudan becomes two states six months hence, on July 9th, the necessary decisions will have been taken which will make it possible for Sudan to make the new start I have mentioned, which will be a new beginning informed by a shared determination to ensure that all the citizens of present day Sudan live a better life of equality, a shared peace, a shared friendship and a shared prosperity.
Even if the people of South Sudan vote for unity, this will also mean that Sudan will again be obliged to make a new beginning, basing itself on the objectives contained in the CPA, again to ensure that the people of Sudan enjoy a better life of equality, a shared peace, a shared friendship and a shared prosperity.
It is within this context that the work will continue finally to resolve the conflict in Darfur. In this regard we would like to express our appreciation for the enormous amount of work that has been done by the AU/UN Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur and the Government of the State of Qatar to facilitate the conclusion of a comprehensive peace and political agreement for Darfur through the Doha negotiations.
This agreement will require the support of the people of Darfur as a whole. Accordingly it has been agreed that the outcome of the Doha negotiations will, as soon as possible, be submitted to an inclusive process which will take place in Darfur, to give the people in this region the opportunity to help to determine their future within the Republic of Sudan.
We are happy that the Government of Sudan has agreed to all this, which would give effect to a decision taken by the African Union in October 2009, which was later endorsed by the United Nations.
Consistent with the new beginning we have mentioned, the agreement which will emerge through the inclusive Darfur process will address all the necessary issues, such as power and wealth sharing, compensation and development, justice and reconciliation, and the place of Darfur within the larger Sudanese polity.
Thus should this agreement lay the basis to end what in our October 2009 Report we described as the crisis of Sudan in Darfur.
We are hopeful that this outcome will be achieved well ahead of the end of the CPA interim period on July 9th, and can see no reason why this objective cannot be realised.
We must also mention that we were greatly inspired by the resolve to honour the commitments contained in the Eastern Sudan Peace Agreement as represented by the highly successful pledging conference which was held recently in Kuwait and promises to provide considerable resources to develop Eastern Sudan to end its marginalisation.
We are convinced that regardless of the outcome of the South Sudan referendum, you, the Sudanese people face an exciting period which history has given you to make something new of this ancient African country.
I am very pleased that the University of Khartoum, an eminent African centre of learning, has given us the opportunity to speak to the youth of Sudan at this critical point in the history of this country.
There are a few things we would like you to know by the time you leave this Hall at the end of this interaction.
One of these is that current developments in your country, including the South Sudan referendum, present you with the challenge and opportunity to reconstruct Sudan so that it lives up to its historic obligations contained in its ancient history, its traditional role as a welcoming home for all Africans, and its eminent contribution to the struggle to maintain Africa’s independence.
That challenge of reconstruction will fall particularly on your shoulders, because as the youth you represent the future of Sudan.
Secondly, we would like you to know that the future ahead of you is one of hope rather than despair. This country, in both its northern and southern parts, contains enormous agricultural and natural resources which can and must be exploited to provide the Sudanese people the better life which is their due.
It has the possibility relatively quickly to address some of its essential social and economic infrastructure needs, sufficient to accelerate its process of development.
In the context of the development challenge, we are happy to say that Sudan disposes of considerable human capital, the trained and qualified men and women, including yourselves, both here and outside the country, who must serve as the drivers of Sudan’s socio-economic development. Liberated at last from the curse of war and violent conflicts, there is absolutely no reason why Sudan, whether as one country or two, does not advance to take its place as one of the leading economic powers on our Continent.
Thirdly, Sudan, whether as one or two countries, will continue to serve as an African crossroads. Accordingly, willy-nilly, what happens in this part of Africa will continue to have an important impact on the rest of our Continent. The new beginning of which we have spoken means that this area of Africa has the continuing possibility to act as one of the principal drivers of the process of the renaissance of Africa.
You, the Sudanese people have the accumulated experience, the wealth and depth of intellectual prowess, and the invaluable African patriotism, to empower and enable you to live up to this obligation to yourselves and the rest of your fellow Africans.
As Africans we know that the future of Sudan is our future. As Sudanese, you must know that Africa stands and will stand with you regardless of the political season, and that our solidarity and friendship are unconditional.
As Africans we know that whatever the challenges of the moment, Sudan will achieve peace with itself and friendship among all its people, which peace and friendship will draw the Sudanese people, their neighbours and all Africa, ever closer together.
We, who represent an older generation, which has made its own mistakes and its own contribution to a better Africa, count on you, the youth of Africa, to discover and carry out your own mission, which would surely contain the objective to achieve the renaissance both of Sudan and your mother Continent, Africa.
By Mohsen Mohammed Saleh
Is real reform of the Palestinian Authority (PA) possible, or is reform simply a matter of 'dancing to the Occupation's tune'? Also, can the types of reform be divided and classified in such a way that some administrative, economic, educational, and social reforms are achieved, with the understanding that political and security reforms are much more difficult – if not impossible? Or will reform solely improve the image of the Occupation and prolong its existence – which in itself is considered a deviation from the prime objective that the Palestinian Authority was established to achieve: ending the Occupation and not merely improving the status quo under its reign?
By Mohsen Mohammad Saleh
The formation of the Salam Fayyad government in the West Bank has been a striking and noteworthy phenomenon in the history of modern Palestine. This is due to the fact that his government was the product of internal division among the Palestinians. The reason that his government has endured is because of the persistent internal Palestinian split. Although the Fayyad government enjoys limited legitimacy within the Palestinian political arena, it has benefited from international Arab support and Israeli acceptance, the combined effect of which has ensured its ongoing existence. While the government could count on the backing of the Fatah leadership, which heads the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian National Authority (PA), Fayyad exploited his position so as to channel funds to his government and thereby consolidate his political base. This occurred even to the detriment of the political influence exercised by Fatah itself within the structures of the PA, particularly within the security forces. At the same time, Fayyad's programme coalesced with the political designs of President Mahmoud Abbas, who had adopted reconciliation with Israel as his project, along with the renunciation of armed resistance. Fayyad's programme dealt with Hamas and the constellation of armed resistance factions on the basis that they represented illegal political forces, while concluding a security agreement with the Israeli occupation, and focusing on economics as the basis on which to build a future Palestinian state. This paper presents a general perspective on the Palestinian government established by Salam Fayyad in Ramallah, spanning the period from mid-June 2007 to mid-2010. It discusses the formation of this government, its legal basis, and its accomplishments in the fields of politics, economics and the guaranteeing of safety and security.
First: The establishment of the government
The Makkah Agreement between Fatah and Hamas, which was concluded on 8 February 2007, resulted in the formation of a Palestinian government of national unity led by Ismail Haniyyah of Hamas. At the time of the Hamas-led government winning a vote of confidence in the Palestinian Legislative Council on 17 March 2007, Salam Fayyad held the position of finance minister. In the aftermath of events in the Gaza Strip which threatened national security, and Hamas taking over political control of the Strip on 14 June 2007, the government collapsed and President Mahmoud Abbas attempted to delegitimise Hamas and to override the Legislative Council where Hamas boasted a majority. To accomplish these objectives, Abbas put pressure on the PLO so that he might confidently control it through his presidential decrees. This occurred despite the fact that the PLO is merely the reference point for the PA as regards major policy issues, and is not an executive or legislative tool within the framework of the Authority.
The Executive Committee of the PLO convened in a special session on 14 June 2007 wherein it endorsed a number of recommendations which effectively subjected the PLO to the political discretion of Abbas. These recommendations included:
Dismissing the government of Ismail Haniyyah;
The proclamation of a state of emergency;
The formation of a government capable of implementing the state of emergency; and
The holding of early elections.1
Abbas adopted these recommendations, and implemented them in terms of three ordinances. In addition, Abbas tasked Salam Fayyad with setting up an emergency government which would enforce the state of emergency. On 17 June 2007, Fayyad's new government was sworn into office in front of Abbas in Ramallah. The government was composed of Fayyad, and eleven ministers, including two independent politicians and a technocrat. It excluded all ministers who belonged to the resistance factions. This was in spite of the fact that in the 25 January 2006 Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) election, Fayyad's independent party, the Third Way party – set up to be an alternative to the two-party Fatah-Hamas contest – had won only two out of the 132 seats in the Legislative Council.
One month before the term of the emergency government ended, on 13 July 2007, the government was enlarged. In terms of a presidential decree from Abbas, four new ministers were added to the government, increasing the number of ministers from twelve to sixteen, including Fayyad himself. Two days thereafter, Fayyad's emergency government tendered its resignation, and the expanded government was then regarded as a caretaker government.2
Then, on 22 January 2009, four days after the end of Israel's war on the Gaza Strip, Fayyad created a new government under Abbas' supervision. On 7 March 2009, after the national reconciliation meetings began in Cairo, Fayyad officially tendered his government's resignation. Abbas accepted the resignation, and said that the purpose behind it was to consolidate and reinforce the national dialogue, and to pave the way for the establishment of a new government. However, he then requested Fayyad to continue administering the political affairs of the PA until a new Palestinian Authority government was formed.
On 8 May 2009, when the stuttering national dialogue halted, and extended sessions were agreed upon, Abbas decided that Fayyad should again be vested with the duty of setting up a government. This new government was established on 19 May 2009 and was comprised of twenty-four ministers, most of them technocrats. Members of the Fatah movement occupied half of the ministerial positions, while the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF), the Palestinian People's Party (PPP) and Fida' were all represented by one minister each. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) refused to participate due to its desire to form a government of national reconciliation.
Second: The legal framework
In terms of the Palestinian Basic Law (the constitution), the dissolution of the government of national unity, i.e., Ismail Haniyyah's government, should have meant that any new government that would be appointed would merely be a caretaker government. This was exceeded by the Palestinian president through his proclamation of a state of emergency. Experts in Palestinian law have asserted that there is no legal text which explicitly endorses the decree setting up an emergency government. All that the constitution does, in fact, is to grant the president the right to declare a state of emergency for a limited period of thirty days. However it does not confer upon him the legal right to set up an emergency government. The constitution further empowers the president to extend the state of emergency by a month, provided that a two-thirds majority of the Legislative Council agrees to such an extension. There is another explicit constitutional provision which obliges any government to approach the Legislative Council to seek a vote of confidence from it. This provision applied to Salam Fayyad's new government, assuming the legality of its creation in the first place.3
President Abbas sought to bypass all these problematic issues by legislating by decree. Accordingly, on 22 June 2007, a few days after the upheaval in Gaza, a presidential decree was issued abrogating a paragraph in the enabling law, the Constitution. The paragraph in question had required the Legislative Council's prior approval of any ministerial appointments. The decree also suspended the operation of Article 79 of the Constitution as amended.
According to the Palestinian democratic system, the legal requirement to allow Fayyad's government to operate was a presidential mandate. It failed, however, to gain legitimacy for its establishment and ongoing operation from the Palestinian Legislative Council with its Hamas majority. A remarkable factor is that this government, which is supposed to represent the will of the people, vigorously opposed the political party which democratically represents the will of the majority of the Palestinian people, and which has legally been entrusted with the mandate to represent them.4
In view of the above scenario, it is clear that the primary factor behind the enduring existence of Fayyad's government is that the Legislative Council has been prevented from discharging its important functions and has, in fact, been paralysed. To that one should add the continuing incarceration of the majority of the Council's members from the West Bank (especially those from the Reform and Change Bloc backed by Hamas) by Israeli authorities. Israel has arrested forty-one legislative members of Hamas out of a total of seventy-four members in the course of the aggressive campaign it launched in the middle of 2006. The number of arrested members later increased to forty-four. In other words, the Israeli-American alliance represents a substantial force behind Palestinian political decisions through the imposition of specific political directions aiming to benefit one political group against another.
President Abbas and the Fayyad government have jointly undertaken the task of reformulating the economic, social and security laws while taking advantage of the absence of the legislative authority which is opposed to these political measures. During the period from June 2007 to June 2008, Abbas and the Ramallah-based government issued 406 decrees covering almost all facets of life, and both the political and the legal systems.5 This opened the way for the accusation levelled against the presidency and the caretaker government that while they point fingers at Hamas for staging a revolt in Gaza and engaging in illegal activities, they themselves have turned against the law, opposed the representatives of the national legislature, and have sought to remove these representatives from the political scene.
Third: Political support
Fayyad's government has received ongoing support from President Mahmoud Abbas, who has thrown his weight behind it in his capacity as president of the Palestinian National Authority, president of the PLO, and president of Fatah. It is because of such continuous support that Fayyad's government has been protected by the PLO, the Fatah movement, and the various factions of Palestinian struggle which belong to the PLO.
At the same time, Fayyad's appointment coincided with the US and western desire to engage with him – both as a result of his political stance and on account of his economic and administrative competence. One can further witness Israel's satisfaction in dealing with him because of his adherence to the obligations of the Quartet's Roadmap and his efforts to disarm the resistance.
By virtue of the fact that Fayyad's party holds only two seats in the Legislative Council and heads no resistance faction, he needed Mahmoud Abbas' backing, as well as external support, to guarantee his political authority. This is even more pronounced given the fact that his government inherited complicated political files, prominent among them being the fight against Hamas, and the disarming of Hamas and other resistance factions.
It appears that the Fatah movement only reluctantly lent its support to Fayyad, and only as a result of pressure from Abbas. Several critical objections have emanated from Fatah concerning the way Fayyad manages the affairs of the government, particularly with regard to the fact that he has excluded many members of Fatah from the security forces and from the civil service, or coerces them into retirement while appointing several officials who are ideologically close to him. Two other major bones of contention, as far as Fatah is concerned, is the way Fayyad monopolises the financial resources allocated to the Authority and distributes them to serve his goals, and his relationship with the US.
During the twenty-fifth session of Fatah's Revolutionary Council – which ended on 26 May 2008 and was attended by Abbas – Fayyad and his government were subjected to a fierce political onslaught. Many participants demanded – with raised voices – that a number of ministers be replaced. In particular, they wanted the replacement of Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Malki, and Minister of the Interior Abdul Razzaq Al-Yahya.
Senior Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad accused Fayyad's government of trying to achieve hegemony over every aspect of every Palestinian institution. Some meeting participants compared Fayyad to Paul Bremer, the first American governor of Iraq after the 2003 occupation of that country. The basis for such a comparison lay, they said, in the manner in which he had disbanded the military organisations of Fatah. Others referred to Fayyad's government as an American government forced upon the Palestinian people.6
When Fayyad formed his government on 19 May 2009, he immediately faced opposition from Fatah's parliamentary bloc which argued that he had failed to consult with them and that he had unilaterally appointed two of its members to ministerial posts without the party's consent. Abbas, however, told the Fatah bloc that the government was his government, and that they should not place any obstacle in its path or impede its work in any way. The presidential intervention compelled the bloc to accede to his wishes.7 A few weeks later, Fatah commander Hatem Abdel Qader, then Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, resigned from his post and accompanied his resignation with criticism of the government for its failings.8
Fourth: Political performance
Fayyad's caretaker government pressed ahead with its programme of administering the PA in the West Bank, taking advantage of the respect and recognition it had received from Arab states and the international community. The government went along with the provisions of the Oslo Accords and adhered to the prescriptions and the security requirements laid down in the Roadmap for Palestinians to move towards statehood.
The Fayyad government regarded such a policy as being a realistic approach necessitated by the nature of the transitional political scenario and the weakness then prevailing in the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic situations, as well as the inability of the resistance trend, under the difficult circumstances it faced, effectively to achieve national goals.
As a result, Fayyad's government strove to meet its obligations in order to force its Israeli counterpart to honour its side of the bargain, and thus realise Palestinian rights – or at least some of them – through negotiations. The main objective of Fayyad's government was to improve the economic and living conditions of the Palestinians, given that economic development, which is relied upon by 'the essence of philosophical thought and a defiant political logic, is founded on the citizen's firm entrenchment in his homeland'.
9 Salam Fayyad stressed that his government would be a transitional one which would remain in power until a government of national unity could be established. He identified the political priorities of his government as: putting a halt to new Israeli settlements, stopping Israeli incursions, and the lifting of the Israeli embargo.10 He also stressed that the political programme of his government would be the same as that of Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO.11
Fayyad stated the aim of his government's political programme as being 'the establishment of the independent institutions of a state' within two years.12 His government spent two months elaborating the details of a political plan, which he formally unveiled on 25 August 2009. The plan included the establishment of numerous projects that would indicate a level of state sovereignty, such as an airport and a railway, the construction of necessary infrastructure, securing the sources of energy, urban improvements, education and agriculture, encouraging investment, and improving the performance of the security forces, as well as the building of hospitals, clinics and so forth.13 Fayyad refuted the criticism that his plan coincided with what is termed 'economic peace' (with Israel) as advocated by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the criticism that he was developing a 'comfortable life under occupation' for the Palestinians. Fayyad maintained that his plan was a comprehensive development plan which aimed at ending the occupation, not entrenching it.14
Through the implementation of his political programme, Fayyad intended to achieve realistic objectives, by benefiting as much as possible from the prevailing circumstances, and by making an effort to produce facts on the ground which would buttress the establishment of a Palestinian state, or at least to support the Palestinian people's brave defiance and steadfastness in their homeland. His aim had to be realised against the backdrop of the facts on the ground imposed by Israel on the land of Palestine.
Fayyad was, however, confronted with the underhanded dealings of a treacherously double-crossing Israeli counterpart which turned the path of negotiations into an endless process. Thus, Fayyad's measures were weak when compared with Israel's swift and vigorous moves to implement large-scale projects of Judaization in Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Meanwhile, Israel benefited from the fact that the PA was dutifully complying with its obligation to curb the resistance movements, without which the Authority had no instruments with which to pressurise its Israeli counterpart.
Fifth: Economic performance
Salam Fayyad exerted himself in his task of improving the dire Palestinian economic situation, especially in the West Bank. In that regard, he benefited from the Israeli government's lifting of the embargo on the West Bank, and from Israel's remission of tax revenues it collected from and on behalf of the Palestinians. Fayyad similarly benefited from international support, especially from the US, for both his person and his government. As a result, after a temporary suspension of donor funds, coinciding with Hamas' control of the PA, foreign aid and relief funds again began to flow from donor countries into the coffers of the PA.
Israel, however, continues to retain a stranglehold over the Palestinian economy. This is maintained through its unjust interference with Palestinian imports and exports, and its imposition of restrictions and impediments on the free movement of people and goods. Furthermore, Israel consumes most of the Palestinian water resources, expropriates land, and expands its colonisation and Judaization programmes, with the inevitable consequence that the opportunities for economic growth are largely pawns of Israel's volatile mood and contingent inclinations. Israel has continuously used economic and security pressure to reap political gains and subordinate the Palestinians to its domination, including those Palestinians who liaise with it in respect of the peace settlement project and who cooperate with it in the implementation of its security measures.
During the period that Fayyad headed the government, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the West Bank and Gaza Strip rose by 5.4 percent in 2007, 5.9 percent in 2008, and 6.8 percent in 2009. This occurred after it had dropped by 5.2 percent in 2006 as a result of the Israeli embargo. Notwithstanding these increases, the GDP is still of modest proportions if compared to the potential of the Palestinian economy. Indeed, it grew from 4.5 billion dollars in 2007 to approximately 5.15 billion dollars in 2009. However, a comparison with Israel in the same period shows that the latter's gross domestic product amounted to approximately 200 billion dollars. The average income of a Palestinian rose from 1 298 dollars in 2007 to 1 390 dollars in 2009, an increase of only ninety-two dollars, whereas the corresponding average income of an Israeli citizen soared from 23 000 to 27 000 dollars.
Foreign aid still accounted for between fifty and fifty-five percent of the PA's budget, reaching 1 763 million dollars in 2008 (including 446 million dollars from Arab countries), compared to a total amount of about 1 415 million dollars in 2009 (462 million of which came from Arab countries). Thus, foreign aid decreased by 19.7 percent in 2009. It has become apparent that foreign financial support is utilised as an instrument of pressurising the PA. The amount of foreign aid lagged behind during the first half of 2009 – following the cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip, the commencement of national reconciliation meetings, and Fayyad's resignation. The actual release of these foreign aid funds materialised only after Fayyad formed a new government in May 2009.
As for the Authority's revenue generated by tax collections carried out by Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, it saw a marked decrease from 1 137 million dollars in 2008 to 1 090 million dollars in 2009. There was, similarly, a reduction in local tax revenues – which comprise the third essential component of the Authority's budget – from 759 million dollars in 2008 to 585 million dollars in 2009.
Salaries and wages make up approximately half of the government's budget. In 2008 these items cost around 1.771 billion dollars out of a total budget of 3.273 billion dollars, i.e., 54.1 percent of the total budgetary expenditure. In 2009 they totalled 1.423 billion dollars out of a cumulative budgetary expenditure of 2.920 billion dollars, representing 48.7 percent of the total. It must be noted that 2009 saw a policy which aimed at reducing public expenditure, limiting new governmental appointments, personnel allowances and promotions, and encouraging early retirement. The security apparatuses consumed more than one-third of the total salaries disbursed to public servants employed by the Authority.
The unemployment rate in the West Bank shot up in late 2009 to approximately twenty-five percent, as compared to thirty-nine percent in the Gaza Strip which is still suffering from the effects of the siege. It is noteworthy that unemployment in the Gaza Strip was as high as forty-five percent in the latter part of 2008. The poverty rate reached twenty-four percent in the West Bank, compared to fifty-six percent in the Gaza Strip.
Israel exercises a persistent hegemony over the Authority's foreign trade in the West Bank. In fact, some sixty-nine percent of the Authority's imports in the West Bank are from Israel, and just over eighty percent of its exports head to Israel.
It is clear that hopes of realising a state of comfort under Israeli occupation is an elusive goal, given that the Israeli occupation itself is the cause of the political, social and economic suffering of the Palestinian people. Due to this, an improvement in the Palestinian standard of living is essentially conditioned on the end of the occupation, rather than on adapting their living conditions while still living under Israel's yoke.
Sixth: Security performance
A few days after Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, news was leaked to the media that the leaders of the Authority's security forces were in the final hours of arriving at a number of important decisions aimed at preventing a repetition of what they termed 'Gaza's experiment in the West Bank.' The first decision was about the disbanding of the military cells of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and the Executive Force behind their operations. Another such cluster of important decisions included drying up the sources of Hamas funds, and the closure of its institutions.15 President Abbas subsequently, on 26 June 2007, issued a decree whereby he banned all armed militias and irregular military structures, regardless of their nature, other than the official military establishment of the Authority. The decree instructed the government to put a stop to the phenomenon of armed groups and to confiscate all weapons in their possession.16 Such steps were embarked upon so as to make space that would allow for the design of a security-related plan at the office of the Ministry of the Interior headed by Lieutenant General Abdul Razzaq Al-Yahya. The plan included measures against the militant wings of Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other militant factions. In truth, this plan represented an attempt to implement the Roadmap article related to the disbanding of resistance cells.
In the same context, a presidential decree had been issued on 22 June 2007. This decree had conferred the necessary competencies on the Minister of the Interior to empower him to dissolve organisations which had previously been authorised to operate in the territory.17 Furthermore, the decree had empowered the minister to shut down all institutions financing Hamas, be they financial, charitable or educational. The effect of the decree was that Fayyad's government was able to venture into the task of breaking up all the zakah (charitable) committees which had been operating in the West Bank on the basis that they served as sources of funding for Hamas.18
As a spin-off of this issuing of presidential decrees, there developed a crisis which eventually engulfed the PA itself. This development was sparked by a new decree issued on 17 August 2007. It prescribed the withdrawal of all presidential decrees issued between 7 March 2007 and 15 April 2007 – the period of the existence of the government of national unity led by Ismail Haniyyah – which related to promotions, salary increases, and transfers of ministerial, administrative and governmental officials. All the competencies and powers conferred on these officials as a result of resolutions taken in this period were withdrawn.
19 Salam Fayyad said that the PA 'was eager to establish political pluralism and will not violate it, but it was, at the same time, opposed to the notion of pluralism in the field of security.'20 He did, however, reveal the policy of his government's active approach to Hamas, saying, 'As long as the status quo remains in Gaza, Hamas will remain an organisation that is an adversary to the Authority, and the government shall deal with it in light of this reality.
'21 Illustrating a further hardening of attitudes, Lieutenant Commander Sameh al-Saifi, the head of the Authority's security forces in the Hebron region, did not differentiate between drug dealers and thieves on the one hand, and the members of the resistance groups on the other. Two days after he deployed his forces in Hebron, the security forces under his command arrested fifty-three people, 'sought after by the justice system' as he alleged, in the localities of Samu' and Yattah. Of those arrested, thirty-five were members of Hamas. Al-Saifi said, 'We are clear; we act against the outlaws, drug dealers, burglars, and armed groups related to any party that has weapons.' He added, 'All weapons other than the weapons entrusted to the security forces, whatever their type, are illegal.
'22 In the context of training and equipping the security forces of the Authority in the West Bank, a special 620 member Palestinian battalion completed training exercises in Jordan which had lasted several months. This training took place as part of a general plan laid out by the US security coordinator attached to the Authority, General Keith Dayton. On 28 May 2008, after its training in Jordan, the battalion returned to the West Bank.23According to a report by Israel's Haaretz newspaper, these trainees had been carefully selected, had received special training, and had comprised the first of five battalions assigned to maintain law and order in the West Bank. The report referred to, 'The first Palestinian National Security (PNS) battalion to undergo training under an American program and Jordanian guidance – the first supposedly elite unit of what used to be viewed as the PA army,' and added that senior PA officials had dubbed the battalion 'Dayton's baby'.24
With Israel's approval, the Authority dispatched its security forces across the regions of Jenin, Nablus, Hebron and Bethlehem. It succeeded in breaking up and disbanding numerous resistance cells and in foiling bomb attacks against Israel. Although its focus was to strike at the civil and military infrastructure of Hamas, the Authority also strove to attack and break up all the military wings of the various resistance factions, including Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, and Al-Quds Brigades affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, among others.25
Various sources have revealed that Hamas in the West Bank had been subjected to 1 007 attacks from 11 June 2007 to 31 August 2007, both from elements of the security forces and from members of Fatah. These attacks included 639 arrests and kidnappings, thirty-six incidents of shootings, and 175 assaults on institutions and organisations, including centres of Qur'anic learning, charitable organisations, media institutes, press offices, schools and nursery schools. There were also 156 raids that targeted private properties belonging to Hamas and its supporters.26
On 12 November 2008, Hamas released statistics showing that the Authority had arrested a total of 616 Hamas members for political reasons, including ninety-four university students, thirty-five people who had been political prisoners in Israeli jails and had been released, fifteen mosque imams, thirteen members of either municipal or village councils, and nine journalists. Hamas added that 2 921 of its members had been arrested for political reasons in the West Bank between 10 June 2007 and 11 November 2008.27 Furthermore, in August 2008, the media office of Hamas released a 369 page book entitled The Black Book, which discussed the hundreds of hostile pursuits and aggressions by the Authority's forces which, Hamas alleges, it and other resistance movements had been subjected to.
Palestinian human rights organisations confirmed the existence of such political arrests and imprisonment in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Sha'wan Jabarin, the general director and main West Bank official of Al-Haq, an institute established for the defence of human rights, said that the number of arrested persons in the West Bank numbered approximately 270. Furthermore, he said that all security forces practised torture in all the regions of the West Bank, and that such phenomena had become widespread. The Palestinian Independent Commission for Citizens' Rights, a body which had been established by Yasser Arafat, reported that it had received twenty-eight complaints of torture and ill-treatment in November 2008 alone.28
There were much talk among Palestinians about the Hamas political prisoners detained by the Authority in Ramallah, including mention of their names and numbers, and requestsfor a conducive climate to be created for the commencement of Palestinian dialogue. Despite this, Riad Malki, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and of Information in Fayyad's government, went on record to declare: 'We do not have any political prisoners.'29 This declaration was then emphatically supported by President Mahmoud Abbas.
30 The security forces in the West Bank dealt harshly with the numerous demonstrations and protests which sought to express their anger at Israeli hostility in the Gaza Strip. Protesters were restricted to narrow forms of expression, and were forbidden from chanting slogans in support of Hamas (which had been leading the war in the Gaza Strip). The PA security forces also prevented protesters from coming into close contact with Israeli occupation forces. Furthermore, they arrested and imprisoned a number of activists who had taken part in the demonstrations of Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and other resistance groups.
31 Hamas has accused the security forces in Ramallah of never ceasing to carry out their extremely violent campaign against the movement. Indeed, according to Hamas, the concerted campaign against it 'persisted and increased' during the war against Gaza.32 Even immediately after the conclusion of that conflict, Hamas said, the security bodies in Ramallah carried out an aggressive programme of extensive political arrests of its supporters.33 Shortly before the commencement of the reconciliation sessions between Hamas and Fatah, the second deputy speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Hassan Kharisha, had observed that the number of political arrests had escalated in the West Bank, that members of Fatah and Hamas engaged in the dialogue had no say in that matter, and that the force heading the campaign of political arrests was 'Fayyad's government and some other parties'.34 The observation fuelled discussions in the course of 2009, as many people believed that Fayyad's government had been implementing security measures, with a cover provided by the US, and noted that the arrests did not target Fatah and its members. They also asserted that many Fatah supporters had been alienated or forced to retire if they did not agree with the security plan. Other persons, however, were of the opinion that Fatah was hiding behind Fayyad and his government in order to implement important steps which it wanted to keep secret. This was done so as to avoid tarnishing its popular image. The allegation was supported by the fact that Fatah exercised considerable pressure on Fayyad's government, and effectively participated in its activities. They added that had Fatah not approved of the Fayyad government (even if only for the sake of what the current phase required), the government would not have survived.
In June 2009, while reconciliation meetings were taking place between Fatah and Hamas, PA security forces conducted a campaign of arrests of Hamas supporters. This was interpreted by political observers as an attempt to reaffirm a commitment to the path of negotiations with Israel as well as a commitment to the Roadmap. From the Hamas standpoint, however, it represented an attempt to eliminate the movement altogether, and to thwart the reconciliation process.35 According to Hamas, the Authority's security forces had arrested and detained 474 of its supporters, had conducted 555 surprise raids and interrogations, and had summoned numerous individuals for interrogation in the month of June 2009 alone.36 In the first half of December 2009 (shortly before Hamas' anniversary celebrations), the PA's security forces arrested 550 Hamas supporters.
37 Hamas lawmakers in the Legislative Council complained of being subjected to harassment, intimidation and being stalked. One of the overt manifestations of this practice, they said, was that Aziz al-Dweik, the PLC speaker, was prevented from performing his official duties or from going to his office, both of which were necessary for the success of the national reconciliation process.
38 Seventh: Security coordination with the Israeli occupation
Israelis look on with pleasure and admiration at the activities of the PA's security apparatuses. A report by the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet or Shabak), published early in 2008, earnestly commended the work undertaken by these forces.39 Brigadier General Yoav Mordechai, the head of the civil administration in the West Bank, while speaking about the nature of Israeli coordination with the Authority said, 'We are fighting a real battle against Hamas, both civil and social, and we are working very hard against all the institutions of Hamas, civil and military alike, in the West Bank.' He also stressed that the collaboration was a direct Israeli-Palestinian one.
40 The head of the Shabak, Yuval Diskin, made it clear during a meeting of the Israeli government that 'security coordination with the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank is going very well, especially in combating terrorism and closing down institutions.' Riad Malki not only did not deny that such cooperation was taking place, he also stressed that 'no reason exists for preventing security cooperation, which is a very important aspect'.
41 At the beginning of September 2008, a report issued by the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and published by The Jerusalem Post revealed the extent of Israeli satisfaction regarding security collaboration with the Authority in Ramallah. The report stated, 'Security coordination is of an unprecedented scope, owing to the sincere effort made by the Palestinian Authority.' It further indicated that such coordination had reached high levels, and that 247 meetings had been held between Israeli and Palestinian officers since the beginning of 2008 until the time of publication.
42 US support to the Palestinian security forces in Ramallah continued unhindered through funding, training and the provision of equipment. America decided to increase its support to these security forces in 2009 by more than seventy percent, thus raising it to a total of 130 million dollars, as compared to a figure of seventy-five million dollars in 2008. Furthermore, four Palestinian battalions (comprising some 1,600 men) were fully trained at a military base in Jordan under the supervision of American, Jordanian and Palestinian officers, and formed an integral part of the general supervisory framework entrusted to General Keith Dayton. Many of these men were then deployed in the cities of Jenin, Nablus and Hebron.43 The preparation of another six battalions was completed in 2009, and it is expected that they will fully be deployed within a period of two years, and will, together with the others, form an overall force of ten battalions. It should be noted that the details and nature of the training exercises are undertaken in coordination with the Israeli and Jordanian armies.
44 Eighth: Relationship with the Gaza government
After the assumption of political control over Gaza by Hamas and the consequent estrangement from the government in Ramallah, western countries and Israel lifted their embargo on the Ramallah government while maintaining it on the Gaza Strip. The Palestinian presidency and the Fayyad government expected that an experiment of development and growth would be created in the West Bank, and would be counterposed to the failed and inadequate experiment in the Gaza Strip which would be incapable of solving the problems of daily life. They expected that this 'successful' experiment in the West Bank would lead to the downfall of Hamas in Gaza.
The dominant view was that Salam Fayyad's government was obliged to continue shouldering its financial responsibilities vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip, and would withhold funds only from the Hamas movement. The dual rationale behind this position was: a) averting any accusation of active participation in the siege and collective punishment of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip from being levelled at Fayyad's government, and b) to refute the accusation that it receives financial support and that it did not allow any part of it to filter to the residents of Gaza, while proclaiming itself to be the government of the entire Palestinian people. <p " align="JUSTIFY" lang="en-GB">Fayyad's government simultaneously set out to implement a series of measures to realise the rhetoric calling for Hamas' funding sources to be cut, in addition to other administrative measures that raised obstacles against Hamas' possible hegemony over the political scenario in the Gaza Strip. The following illustrate these measures:
The decision taken by Salam Fayyad's government to refrain from paying the salaries of staff who retained their positions in Gaza, and the discrimination between a public servant following the Ramallah government and his colleagues who supported the government of Gaza
45 The issuing of a political directive to exempt all residents of the Gaza Strip from governmental taxes and dues, in order to prevent the dismissed government from accessing what is core funding source for any government.46
The enactment of a specific law to prevent money laundering, in order to 'reduce the financial channels of Hamas'.47
This administrative and financial war waged by Fayyad's government proceeded unabated, as did the siege imposed by Israel; together these resulted in extremely difficult economic circumstances in the Gaza Strip.
Fayyad's government supported President Abbas' view on how to deal with the Gaza Strip and the government of Ismail Haniyyah in that territory. Fayyad said that the recovery of political control over the Gaza Strip by the Ramallah-based Authority represented 'a key political objective which we are vigorously pursuing'. He therefore called for Arab security forces to be deployed on a temporary basis in the Gaza Strip, with the goal of bringing about its reunification with the West Bank.48 This call intended directly to implicate Arab states in the internal affairs of the Palestinians in a way that would benefit one Palestinian party against another. It was a proposal that could not guarantee the end results, especially since Hamas had rejected such a proposition. Hamas took the view that, if there was a need for Arab intervention, it should be directed towards the West Bank. This was because the West Bank was still experiencing direct Israeli occupation, and Palestinians there wanted to be protected from Israeli aggression, as opposed to their being 'protected' from the resistance.
The Fayyad government also called for the intensification of efforts to make a success of the process of national reconciliation, and for setting up a transitional government which would be capable of paving the way to presidential and legislative elections.49 It prepared itself for the task of administering the crossings into the Gaza Strip for the limited purpose of overseeing the lifting of the siege. However, it rejected the suggestion of a joint administration with the government of Ismail Haniyyah, which had been proposed by the latter.
50 Sums of money continued to be transferred to Gaza by the Fayyad government in order to cover salaries in certain sectors such as education and health, and to pay for essential services such as electricity and water. It reported that it had remitted approximately 120 million dollars per month to the Gaza Strip, which was equal to half of the Authority's budget.
51 However, the instructions issued by the Palestinian presidency and Fayyad's government with regard to public servants in the Gaza strip gave rise to an anomalous situation: the PA had instructed government staff not to report for work, except for those in certain specified ministries and institutions that directly and critically affected the lives of the citizens of the Gaza Strip, such as the ministries of health and education, administrative districts, and the Central Bureau of Statistics. The result was that the Authority in Ramallah paid salaries to people who stayed at home, and stopped payment to those attending work, except for the above exceptions.
According to statistics released by the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR), which is subordinate to the Authority in Ramallah, the number of civil servants in the Gaza Strip had reached 78 000, 31 350 of whom were military personnel and 45 650 of whom were civil personnel. PECDAR further showed that the number of public servants actually present at the workplace numbered 17 750, that is, 22.7 percent, mostly in the Ministry of Education (12 300 employees) and the Ministry of Health (5 000 civil servants).
Wages and salaries paid to public servants engaged in actual work account for 14.2 percent of the total amount of wages and salaries that are disbursed to the Authority's employees in the Gaza Strip. That leaves some eighty-six percent of the total salary amount, which is being paid by the Ramallah-based Authority to civil servants comfortably sitting at home, since such officials have been forced to abide by the PA's decision or have voluntarily decided to bind themselves by its terms. The monetary value of these remunerations is 386 million dollars, which is disbursed in return for no productive services rendered.52
News reports and human rights organisations have pointed out that money had been deducted from the salaries of many employees in the civil service because of their political backgrounds. This had included many public servants employed in the ministries of health and education.53 According to an April 2008 report by Al-Mezan Center for Human Rights, the salaries of 3 615 civil servants, of whom 1 549 worked in the Ministry of Health and 693 in the Ministry of Education, had been affected by salary deductions.54
The policy pursued by the presidency and the Ramallah government towards public sector employment was intended to weaken the government in the Gaza Strip, to involve the employment of public servants in the confrontation between Fatah and Hamas, and to engender a disguised unemployment of a new type. This policy also exposed the contradiction and confusion that was prevailing within Palestinian national behaviour. This was reflected in the fact that the phenomenon of Palestinians working in Israeli institutions has become a normal occurrence, whereas working in Palestinian institutions serving the interests of Palestinian citizens was deserving of punishment, and sitting at home and not working resulted in rewards.
Salam Fayyad's government took upon itself the coordination and direct supervision of the reconstruction work in the Gaza Strip on the basis that it represented the legitimate political authority in that territory. It thus dismissed the idea of cooperation or coordination with Haniyyah's government. Fayyad's government prepared a reconstruction plan which it submitted to a conference of donor countries held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 2 March 2009, where it received pledges of 4.5 billion dollars.55 The persistent Palestinian internal division, however, and the lack of coordination between the two governments, along with the continuation of the siege, has deprived the people of Gaza of most of the aid that had been set aside for reconstruction.
It is clear that the future sustainability of Fayyad's government depends to a large extent on a prolonged state of internal division among Palestinians, just as it is evident that its acceptance by Israel and the US is dependent on its full compliance with the Oslo Accords and with the Roadmap's obligations to enforce security.
In the past three years Fayyad has successfully entrenched his political position in the West Bank by virtue of his heading the government and his monopolisation of donor funds. Just as Hamas suffered from the pursuit of its members by the security forces, the closing down of its institutional bases, and the strikes against its organised structures and resistance, the Fatah movement, too, has been affected by the termination of services and early retirement involving thousands of its members within the security forces and the Authority's ministries, apart from the disbandment and forceful targeting of members of Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. The same fate befell other Palestinian organisations. Fayyad filled vacancies with people more loyal and closer to him, and more willing to interact within the negotiations paradigm he was operating within.
Fayyad's policies have given rise to a far-reaching state of security, though the quieter environment has been as a result of numerous attacks on the resistance project, i.e., the alternative project to the negotiations project, and striking at one of the core elements underpinning Palestinian society in its confrontation with Israeli occupation. The consequence is that the general state of calm has tempted the Israeli occupation to perpetuate and entrench itself.
Another key result of Fayyad's policies is that they have resulted in relative economic improvement. Essentially, however, this improvement is linked to aid and support from donor countries, and is not indicative of actual economic growth. At the same time, the Israeli occupation never ceased to suffocate production, import and export activities, and the transfer of money, and to make use of these as tools that would help produce political and economic gains for Israel.
The solution to the problem faced by the Palestinian people lies in their ridding themselves of Israeli occupation, rather than in improving their living conditions under the occupation. The real key to this solution is the realisation of national unity and the prioritisation of the main national exigencies over secondary needs. This needs to be done alongside the breathing of new life into the Palestinian legislative and executive institutions, as well as the utilisation of the full potential of the Palestinian people.
* Dr Mohsen Mohammad Saleh is the Director of the Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations based in Beirut, Lebanon, and is a prolific writer on issues related to Palestine and Israel.
** This article is published in terms of a partnership agreement between the Afro-Middle East Centre and Aljazeera Centre for Studies.
1Al-Hayat, London, 15 June 2007.
2Asharq Al-Awsat, London, 14 July 2007.
3See Reuters, 8 July 2007.
4Notwithstanding Fatah's emphasis on national unity and its opposition to internal division, it is worth noting that forty-seven members of the Legislative Council from the West Bank are from Hamas, while twenty-nine belong to Fatah. As for Prime Minister Fayyad himself, he represents a political coalition which holds no more than two seats in the Legislative Council, i.e., one and half percent.
5As-Safir Newspaper, Beirut, 30 August 2008.
6See Asharq Al-Awsat, 27 May 2008; Al-Quds Al-Arabi, London, 28 May 2008; and Al-Watan, Abha, Saudi Arabia, 28 May 2008.
7See Al-Hayat, 20 May 2009, and Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 21 May 2009.
8Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 09 July 2009.
9This is part of a statement by Salam Fayyad, published by the Palestinian Authority's newspaper, Al-Hayat Al-Jadid, Ramallah, 11 November 2008.
10Al-Hayat, 21 May 2009.
11Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 21 May 2009.
12Al-Hayat, 23 June 2009.
13See Reuters, 24 August 2009, and Al-Hayat, 26 August 2009.
14See Asharq Al-Awsat, 27 August 2009 and 1 September 2009.
15Al-Hayat, 20 June 2007.
16Wafa News Agency, 26 June 2007, and Maan News Agency, 26 June 2007.
17Reuters, 22 June 2007, and Al-Hayat, 23 June 2007.
18Palestinian Information Center, 17 October 2007, Ittihad, 19 October 2007, and Asharq Al-Awsat, 19 October 2007. See also Asharq Al-Awsat, 4 December 2007, and Al-Khalij, 4 December 2007.
19Al-Ayyam, Ramallah, citing Wafa News Agency, 18 August 2007, and Al-Khalij, 18 August 2007.
20Al-Khalij, 23 April 2008.
21Al-Dustour, 8 August 2008.
22Asharq Al-Awsat, 28 October 2008.
23Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 28 May 2008, and Al-Bayan, 28 May 2008.
24Haaretz, 6 April 2008.
25See Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 1 August 2008, Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 28 October 2008, Al-Dustour, 8 October 2008, Al-Dustour, 24 October 2008, and Asharq Al-Awsat 28 October 2008.
26See with regard to the anti-Hamas measures taken by the Authority in the West Bank: The Media Office of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), 'Aggressions by Fatah and Palestinian security bodies concerning the "Hamas" movement in occupied West Bank', Palestinian Media Center, 4 September 2007, at www.palestine-info/ar/default.aspx?xyz; as well as the report issued by Hamas: 'Attacks by Fatah and Palestinian security bodies against the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) in occupied West Bank in the course of the blessed month of Ramadan', 17 October 2007.
27See the website of Al Bayan Media Centre, 13 October 2008, at www.albian.ps/ar/portal/01942ed0-9740-47f1-beef-0577d59f78d3.aspx.
28Reuters, 4 December 2008, and Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 5 December 2008.
29Al-Khalij, 16 October 2008. See also the statement by Namir Hammad, as reported in AlJazeera.net, 8 November 2008, and the statement by Sa'di al-Karnaz, the secretary-general of the Council of Ministers, in Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 8 November 2008.
30Asharq Al-Awsat, 8 November 2008.
31See, for instance: Al-Hayat, 3 January 2009, Asharq Al-Awsat, 8 January 2009, and Asharq Al-Awsat, 10 January 2009.
32See statement by Rafat Nasif, Palestine, 22 January 2009.
33See the statement by Rafat Nasif in Asharq Al-Awsat, 25 January 2009.
34Palestine, 20 February 2009.
35See Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 13 June 2009, and Al-Hayat, 13 June 2009.
36Palestine, 3 July 2009.
37See Palestine, 16 December 2009, and Palestine, 17 December 2009.
38Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 25 July 2009.
39Al-Hayat, 8 January 2008, and Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 8 January 2008.
40Al-Dustour, 13 September 2008.
41Ahmad Budeiri, 'The increase in arrests by Palestinian security bodies in the West Bank', British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 19 October 2008, <<http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/arabic/middle_east_news/newsid_76780007678733.stm/>>.
42Ma'an News Agency, 2 December 2008.
43See Al-Khalij, 6 March 2009, and Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 7 July 2009.
44Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 9 June 2009, and Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 7 July 2009.
45Al-Quds Al-Arabi, 3 July 2007.
46Asharq Al-Awsat, 28 June 2007.
47As-Safir, 27 October 2007.
48Reuters News Agency, 7 July 2008. See http://ara.reuters.com, and Al-Hayat, London, 2 August 2008.
49Al-Hayat, 2 August 2008, Al-Khalij, 8 August 2008, and Al Nahar, Beirut, 10 August 2008.
50Al-Khalij, 14 March 2008, Al-Ghad Newspaper, Amman, 31 August 2008.
51Al-Hayat, 21 May 2009.
52See the study undertaken by the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction (PECDAR) on the subject of the financial situation in Gaza, <www.pecdar.ps/pdfs/emp.%20report.pdf>>.
53See the report of Amad Media, 18 June 2008, .
54See the Amad report. See also the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, 7 April 2008, .
55Al-Hayat, 2 March 2009.
By AlJazeera Centre for Studies
On Sunday, 5 December 2010, the second and final round of Egypt's parliamentary election was held. This round decided the fate of the seats which had yet to be filled after the first round, which was held on Sunday a week earlier. According to the official results, the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) won more than eighty-three percent of parliamentary seats in a landslide victory; the percentage is expected to increase further when the official NDP members are joined by seventy others who contested the election as independents, in contravention of the party's policies. Meanwhile, opposition parties which had participated in both the first and the second electoral rounds did not win more than fifteen seats. The Muslim Brotherhood did not win a single seat, despite the fact that it had boasted eighty-eight members of parliament in the previous legislature. This paper will examine this second round of Egypt's parliamentary elections, and will consider the implications of its results for the future of the Egyptian government and its relationship with the opposition forces. This paper will also refer to the challenges that inevitably lie ahead for Egyptian political life.
By Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies
The recent trend of Israeli calls for Israeli citizens to take an oath of allegiance to the state suggests the rise of extremist right-wing and religious currents within Israel. It also suggests a growing spirit of racism against Arabs living in Israel, and an attempt to increase pressure on them. Moreover, this trend can be seen as a prelude for a law which will ultimately link the solution of the Palestinian issue to the future of the Israeli citizens who are originally Palestinians of Palestine 1948. Since the Palestinians of 1948 regard their presence in the country as pre-dating the establishment of the Israeli state, and because the notion of a declaration of allegiance clashes with their religious and national affiliations, they will persistently refuse to pledge loyalty to the state of Israel as a Jewish state. This conflict between the positions and considerations of the Israeli state and those of the indigenous people opens the way for various consequences. These would allow Israel further to tighten the noose on its Palestinian citizens, and create the conditions necessary to start a policy of displacement. However, this would expose Israel to more international isolation.
By Mohammad Abdullah Gul
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By Afro-Middle East Centre
After the passage of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1929 in June 2010, with its fourth round of sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran, many analysts have increased their scepticism regarding the efficacy and effectiveness of the entire sanctions regime against Iran. The scepticism is partly based on the fact that, despite three previous rounds of sanctions since 2006, the country's nuclear programme has continued unabated. Such costs as are being forced on Iran through the various levels of sanctions, not only through the UNSC but also through American-led sanctions under the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA) and the recent Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA), are of little more than nuisance value to the aspiring regional hegemon, and have been costs that it has been able to bear. For this reason many American think tanks and policy gurus linked to and to the left of the United States Democratic Party have put forward the idea of what has been termed a 'US-Iran Grand Bargain'. Within such a bargain, the US would engage with Iran through comprehensive talks without preconditions, with the ultimate goal of resolving bilateral differences, normalising bilateral relations and legitimising an Iranian role in the region. However, despite a strong body of opinion in the US that supports such a move, there are numerous factors militatingagainst what somehave termed a 'utopian' and 'unrealistic' proposal. The alternative that has been proposed instead of such dialogue, however, has been military action. This proposal has come mainly from role-players in the US and in Israel.
By AlJazeera Centre for Studies
On 3 November 2002, only one year after it was founded, Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP) recorded a surprising electoral victory by winning thirty-five percent of the seats in the Turkish parliament. Because of the form of that country's electoral system, this electoral victory enabled the AKP to govern on its own, without having to forge alliances with other parties to be able to govern. As recently as four years ago, most experts in Turkish affairs were still anticipating the imminent downfall of the head of the AKP, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and, thus, of the Turkish government. They expected his impending fall to be occasioned either by direct interference from the army, or by the combined pressure brought to bear by traditional secular circles, which had exercised significant influence on the state, and by the political opposition. However, as is indicated by the current situation, the incumbent head of the Turkish government – supported by his party – represents the strongest ruler the Republic of Turkey has known since the days of Mustafa Kemal. While the world is concerned about the active and dynamic role played by Turkey in the arena of foreign affairs, Prime Minister Erdogan is busy consolidating his domestic power and reproducing his influence across Turkish political life. In so doing, he is rebuilding the institutions of the republic according to a new political paradigm.
By Al-Zaytouna Centre
Summary: Palestinian resistance in the West Bank is currently experiencing great difficulties, and there can be no expectation of an increase in armed resistance against Israeli occupation in the territory. The Palestinian Authority and the government in Ramallah have repeatedly rejected armed resistance, committed themselves to pursuing members of the resistance, and have activated security co-ordination with Israel as an obligation of the Quartet Roadmap. While Fatah provides support and political cover for the Authority, the latter has begun dismantling or neutralising Fatah resistance cells. The members of other PLO factions suffer persecution by the Authority, and their limited resources and political conditions diminish their military capacity. Although Hamas and Islamic Jihad retain free political and military decision-making, the security measures applied by the Authority's security apparatuses through security coordination with the occupation have made it difficult for these two movements to carry out effective resistance activity from within the West Bank. Given the status quo in the West Bank, and the stalemate in negotiations, the Palestinian scene could witness a new commencement of resistance efforts if President Mahmoud Abbas resigns, frustration increases in the West Bank, the Authority collapses, or a Palestinian reconciliation programme which adopts resistance as an alternative to political settlement is realised. An analysis of the quest for a political resolution to the Israel-Palestinian issue is a prerequisite for discussing the prospects for resistance in the West Bank. Such an analysis should consider a number of levels.
By Lamis Andoni
The resounding defeat of the Democratic Party in the United States midterm congressional elections has clearly weakened President Barack Obama's hand on both the domestic and foreign policy fronts. With a new Congress, US foreign policy – at least as regards the Middle East – will remain pro-Israeli, and will maintain the goal of boosting Israel and weakening Iran. But the tone and manifestation of this policy will undergo changes that will result in hard-line tactics that will serve to increase the pressure on the the Palestinians, Syria and Iran.
With the changes in the two houses of Congress, right-wing Republicans will gain more power, thus limiting Obama's room for manoeuvre on foreign policy issues – ranging from China and North Korea to Russia, Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Democratic Party's loss of more than sixty seats in the House of Representatives, and the weakening of the party's grip on the Senate, indicate a serious shift to the right as the two houses have become more pro-Israeli, more supportive of the Netanyahu government, and in favour of a confrontation with Iran.
By Kenneth Katzman
Members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have been loyal and crucial allies of US policy in the Gulf region for over three decades. Some Gulf states, such as Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, have been pillars of US Gulf policy since the end of World War II. Furthermore, the Gulf states have fully supported all US interventions in the region in which their interests matched those of the United States. The 1991 Persian Gulf War against Saddam Hussein is one such example.
Perhaps more significant is that the Gulf states have even supported the United States in cases where the outcome of US intervention might threaten GCC interests. They supported Operation Iraqi Freedom (in March 2003) which aimed to remove Saddam Hussein from power, making bases and facilities available but not supplying any actual forces. The GCC states provided this logistical and material support (although publicly opposing the action as an unjustified war on an Arab state) even though they knew that ousting Saddam would inevitably lead to an Iraq dominated by the majority Shiite Arab Muslims.
By AlJazeera Centre for Studies
On Sunday, 12 September 2010, a constitutional referendum was held in Turkey on a broad package of amendments. The amendments had previously been proposed to parliament by the government, headed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP), but had failed to achieve the two-thirds majority needed to implement the changes. Subsequently, after the proposed referendum had received the approval of the majority, the Republican People's Party (CHP) appealed to the Constitutional Court, objecting to the referendum. However, the court approved the referendum after making minor changes to both its wording and the wording of a small number of the reform package's clauses.
Unlike the Lebanese crisis, or that of Kosovo, the Somali crisis is characterised by ongoing self-igniting and self-sustaining violence. The opposing forces renew, multiply, and feed the conflict in a way that makes it difficult to reach any solution. Usually, exhausted antagonistic forces tend to enter into truces and seek solutions, and, when that happens, external allies find it possible to pressurise these forces. In the Somali conflict, however, this trend will soon be hampered by the emergence of new opposition forces working to remove the previous ones and control the latter's positions. Often, these new and rising forces are not willing to find solutions, and do not seek negotiated settlements. By the time they become exhausted and seek a solution, another force dominates and removes them, as they did to their predecessors. Thus, the cycle of violence and counter-violence continues; some forces fade away and others emerge. This equation of the strengths and weaknesses of Somalia is called 'Somaliazation'.
By Al Musalami Al Kabashi
The referendum date on self-determination for southern Sudan approaches; the people of the south will vote in a referendum on 9 July 2011 to determine their future. According to the Nifasha Treaty of 2005, the result of the referendum will either be secession of the south or a continuation of its union with the north. Secessionist moves are evident in the south, where a group calling itself 'youth for secession', clearly supported by the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), organised two large marches through all the cities of the south, inciting people to support independence and the formation of a new southern state. On the other hand, civil associations, political parties and research institutes in the north have warned of the security hazards of secession for both the north and south. These institutions continue talking up the benefits of unity.
By Henry Siegman
Failed bilateral talks over these past 16 years have shown that a Middle East peace accord can never be reached by the parties themselves. Israeli governments believe they can defy international condemnation of their illegal colonial project in the West Bank because they can count on the US to oppose international sanctions
Bilateral talks that are not framed by US-formulated parameters (based on Security Council resolutions, the Oslo accords, the Arab Peace Initiative, the "road map" and other previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements) cannot succeed.
Israel's government believes that the US Congress will not permit an American president to issue such parameters and demand their acceptance. What hope there is for the bilateral talks that resume in Washington DC on September 2 depends entirely on President Obama proving that belief to be wrong, and on whether the "bridging proposals" he has promised, should the talks reach an impasse, are a euphemism for the submission of American parameters. Such a US initiative must offer Israel iron-clad assurances for its security within its pre-1967 borders, but at the same time must make it clear these assurances are not available if Israel insists on denying Palestinians a viable and sovereign state in the West Bank and Gaza.
By Muneer Shafiq
Russian-Arab relations, although having strategic significance for both parties, do not hold the same level of strategic value for either. Furthermore, such relations are only the third or fourth priority for each of them. Clearly, Russia gives priority to its relations with America and Europe. At the Arab level, most regimes, except for Syria, prioritise their relations with the US, with some interested in relations with Europe. Russia is thus located at a tertiary level, together with China. With the strengthening of its relations with Iran, Turkey and a number of Third World countries, Syria's recent foreign policy priority is the Middle East region. At the international level, it is most anxious to develop relations with Russia. The extent of success regarding this endeavour, however, depends on Russia's position, and Syria's relations with Russia have not succeeded in reaching a strategic level. Oscillating according to circumstances, Syria-Russia relations are limited to the tactical level, to balance Russia-US and Russia-Israel relations.
Pakistan's recent floods have left eight million people dependent on aid for their survival, and washed away huge swathes of the rich farmland on which the country's struggling economy depends. The Pakistani government has confirmed 1,600 people dead and 2,366 injured, but its officials warn that millions are at risk from disease and food shortages. The country's disaster agency fears that there will be a "significant rise" in the death toll as waters recede and the number of missing persons is tallied.
By Mohammed Abdullah Gul
On 25 July 2010, the New York Timescarried an explosive story by Mark Mazzetti, Jane Perlez, Eric Schmitt and Andrew W. Lehren about some 92,000 classified Pentagon documents which had passed into the hands of Wikileaks, a Sweden-based whistle-blower website headed by Julian Assange. Ostensibly, the leak sent shock waves through the US Administration - not just for the sheer volume of the leaked material but also because the revelations could significantly affect the course of the war in Afghanistan. The documents comprised a host of field intelligence reports initiated by covert sources, combat units and the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS). Much of theplethora of documents is a compilation of assorted reports known as "collation" in the intelligence craft. Such stuff is not deemed to be intelligence until it is sifted, corroborated and analysed for its value, the authenticity of the source and the plausibility of the information. The documents cover the period from 2004 to 2009. The fact that that such a large array of reports remained unprocessed for this long is a poor reflection on the Pentagon's efficiency.
Wikileaks has, thus far, released 77,000 of the documents, of which 180 reports - mostly originating from Afghan intelligence - pertain to the dubious role of Pakistan, its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and, especially, of retired General Hamid Gul who headed the ISI in the crucial years of the Afghan jihad during the Soviet Union's occupation of Afghanistan. Gul earned a reputation as the architect of the Soviet defeat and the ignominious withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan.
Once a darling of US strategists and intelligence big-wigs, Gul later became a bitter critic of the post-Reagan policies of the US. He routinely charges America of betraying the Afghan nation and causing an airplane crash in which then-president of Pakistan, General Zia ul-Haq, and dozens of Pakistan's top military brass died. Gul also claimed that the 9/11 events were an inside job and openly supported the Afghan resistance against what he described as the US-led occupation of Afghanistan which was not dissimilar to that of the Soviet Union.
He has repeatedly refuted the charges against him on various international media channels such as Al Jazeera, CNN, and BBC (for example, on the 25, 26, 27 and 28 July 2010), and labelled the reports as "preposterous", "fictional" and deliberate "disinformation" to demonise him and the ISI in an attempt to find a scapegoat for the US military's failures in Afghanistan. In these interviews, Gul also offered to travel to the US to face charges in court or be heard by the US Senate or Congress. In 2008, the US proposed a motion at the United Nations 1267 Committee to have him placed on the UN's international terrorist list. He was saved by China, which blocked the move by applying a technical hold for lack of evidence.
The Pakistani government also strongly rebutted the Wikileaks reports regarding the alleged double role of the ISI in the Afghan war. Interestingly, a Pakistani official revealed that days before the New York Times story, US defence officials had advised their Pakistani counterparts to disregard the Wikileaks documents release.
Human rights and military discipline
Apart from documents relating to Pakistan, the rest of the 77,000 documents cover a vast spectrum of excesses and human rights abuses committed by US and NATO forces, and narrate a harrowing tale of atrocities against innocent civilians. No less than 20,000 fatalities have been documented, painting a heart-rending picture of a callous disregard of Geneva Conventions and US laws. Task Force 373, a secret force, stands out as the most trigger-happy, ruthless bunch of soldiers who seem to have exceeded every limit. It is not clear whether this force was ever authorised by the US Congress. If not, it would cast a negative light on the Pentagon, raising questions as to whether the Pentagon (or a certain element within it) had turned into a "rogue" institution.
Wikileaks is still holding back some 15,000 documents. There are tremendous efforts by the US administration to block the release of these documents or, at least, to expunge the identities of sources and other named figures lest their security be jeopardised.
The whole sordid affair begs many a thorny question, and points to yawning cavities in the US systems of defence and intelligence. The more glaring of these questions, each of which warrants a separate query, are:
a. Is the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) overly dependent on security contractors and largely amateurish Afghan intelligence operatives?
b. Is there an attitudinal conflict among American policy makers on Afghanistan? That is, is there a conflict between those advocating winning the hearts and minds of Afghan people and those operators on the ground who are bent on the systematic and wilful alienation of the Afghan people?
c. Does a dichotomy really exist between the stated US position of Pakistan as a front-line ally without whose support victory cannot be perceived, and the real perception of its role as a double crosser playing both sides? Or is this dichotomy inspired by extraneous influences which wish to drive a wedge into US-Pakistan relations?
d. How will the leaks impact on US-Pakistan and Pakistan-Karzai government relations?
e. How will they affect the war in Afghanistan and determine its outcome?
f. Were the leaks deliberate and purposeful a la My Lai in Vietnam, which set in motion the public demand for withdrawal?
US intelligence methodology
Over the years, the mammoth US intelligence establishment has shown deficiencies, fissures and failures. If glaring ones such as 9/11, Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, and the failure to capture the world's most wanted terrorists are not enough evidence of its inherent flaws, Wikileaks has exposed it to the core. The human intelligence (humint) aspect of the US is well-known to have suffered from protracted neglect, poor funding, and the absence of a cogent cause to inspire enthusiasm.
As a consequence, the US substituted security contractors for regular and disciplined operatives. Most of these security contractors were former employees of the CIA, FBI and other agencies which thrived on old-buddy cronyism. Their only motivation was money. They are a tired and lacklustre group of people who rely mostly on "paper milling" - intelligence parlance for the production of make-believe reports. The bulk of the reports on Pakistan is the handiwork of Afghan intelligence agencies which are infested by communist die-hards looking to avenge their humiliation at the hands of Pakistan and the ISI. To top it off, the Indian external intelligence agency - the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) - has established a strong field intelligence network in Afghanistan. Its insidious influence on Afghan intelligence agencies in an effort to malign Pakistan is an open secret.
Task Force 373 uses tactics and methods which run counter to the explicit purpose of the military high command. About 100,000 US security contractors have proven to be loose cannons. They disregard operational instructions, and are only in pursuit of quick results to earn more dollars. It was a disaster ab initio to mix mercenaries and burnt-out intelligence veterans with regular troops. The architects of this harebrained idea will realise the consequences of their folly.
Between policy and posture
The US and NATO official position on Pakistan as a front-line state in the war against terrorism is a euphemism. In reality, Pakistan has always been suspected either of doing less than it could, or, worse, of complicity with some Taliban factions fighting US and NATO troops. No wonder, then, that each category and tier of the US leadership - from the Bush to the Obama administrations - continued to press Pakistan to do more.
While analysing the nature and extent of Pakistan's cooperation, one must bear in mind the circumstances under which Pakistan was recruited into this war. It was literally forced on board the American warship. The Pakistan leadership wrongly assumed that the war would be a short, swift retribution which would end in a few months. They failed to fathom the latent and long-term intentions of the Bush administration's war hawks. It was only after the Karzai government was foisted on Afghanistan, as a result of the Bonn dispensation and the induction of India, Pakistan's arch-rival, into the Afghan game that Pakistani authorities realised their mistake in unconditionally giving in to US demands. They felt cheated but could do little to redress the situation. Then-President Pervez Musharraf's quick surrender to US diktat had left the Pakistani nation and its institutions dazed and bewildered. They were torn between the demands of the US agenda and their national interests. The military and the ISI were hard put to maintain equilibrium. Drone attacks by the CIA in Pakistan's tribal regions, and clandestine deployment of US Special Forces and security contractors inside Pakistan further exacerbated frayed sentiments. To the Pakistani masses, from where most of the soldiers are drawn, it was somebody else's dirty war which Pakistan had to fight under duress. It reflects positively on the army and the ISI that there was no serious breach of discipline. But to expect an enthusiastic and wholesome participation under these conditions would be asking for too much.
Impact on US-Pakistan relations
That the invaders would fail in Afghanistan was axiomatic for even elementary students of Afghan affairs; and no one is better educated on this subject than the ISI. Should the ISI not have maintained liaison with the real soul of the Afghan people, which is manifested in the national resistance symbolised by the Taliban? Let no one be duped into believing otherwise! But material support to the resistance is quite another matter. With US spies all over Pakistan, having logged deep into its systems, such an audacity cannot even be imagined, save by Pentagon stalwarts.
The US policy towards Pakistan was described aptly - though insultingly - by Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton as a "carrot and stick" doctrine that would keep Pakistan on the leash and aligned to US objectives. This policy seems to have worked reasonably well for America. Pakistan has been held to the course by the US promoting a dictator, and then imposing a truncated democracy through an externally-brokered deal called the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO). America's whip hand, however, began to test the limits of national tolerance after the Mumbai attacks, when the US started openly to promote India's brow-beating tactics against Pakistan on unsubstantiated charges. Following Obama's 1 December 2009 policy speech, the US attitude began to change. It is now less belligerent, and often placatory, towards Pakistan. There is also a perceptible shift in the policy from dealing with government to addressing the people of Pakistan. This is a healthy change indicative of a possible focus on an exit strategy.
The recent floods in Pakistan have enhanced the need for a fresh approach. Currently, there seem to be two overriding American concerns. Firstly, to create an environment for the graceful exit of the US from Afghanistan, while safeguarding its core interests and making room for India in a post-withdrawal Afghanistan. Secondly, to thwart a populist - inevitably anti-American ground-swell - in the wake of the catastrophic deluge in Pakistan. How these can objectives be achieved with the help of a tottering and largely dysfunctional democracy in Pakistan will be a daunting challenge for American policy makers.
Pakistan and the US need each other for their own good reasons, but India is the obstacle, and it will remain so until the Kashmir issue is dealt with.
Afghanistan's President Hamid Karzai began to lean towards Pakistan after Obama's 1 December 2009 speech. To show his altered preferences, he fired his Pakistan-hating intelligence czar, Amrullah Saleh. After the Wikileaks affair, however, Karzai revealed his true intentions when he demanded that the US bomb Pakistan. But that simmered down rather quickly. Perhaps the Americans whispered the same gospel in his ears as they did for Pakistan: "Don't take it too seriously."
Outcomes and purposes
It is too early to pass judgement, but there are unerring similarities between My Lai and the Wikileaks affair. Lieutenant William Calley and Captain Ernest L. Medina's misconduct then, and the TF-373's misdemeanour now reflect the same propensity for frustration spawned by failures. How close are the parallels of General Westmoreland's demand for more troops and General Stanley McChrystal's urge for the surge, intelligence failures, and search for scapegoats - Cambodia then and Pakistan now? It's an uncanny match of the scenarios, a rebirth of the tragedy that was Vietnam. Afghanistan is a wrong war at a wrong place against a wrong enemy. Not a single Afghan has been found involved in terrorism outside the war zone. "Reversing Taliban's momentum" was not the original aim of the NATO war. At this stage, it would be like defeating the Afghan nation; it would be mission impossible. The initial goal was to disperse Al-Qaeda and capture or kill Osama Bin Laden. All western intelligence sources believe Osama Bin Laden is not in Afghanistan, or, at least, not in the southern part of Afghanistan where much of the US and NATO forces are committed. Leon E. Panetta said there were no more than 60 to 100 Al-Qaeda operatives in that part of the world. That many may be present in any European country. The reality is that Al-Qaeda has long since migrated to the Red Sea area to be in closer proximity to its strategic "centre of gravity" - the Middle East.
The hard truth is that the war in Afghanistan is a lost cause for America. The problem is how to convince the Pentagon and the self-indulgent, bigoted neo-cons who would not let reason get the better of their unrealistic ambitions. Obama's heart is in the right place. He knows he came into the Oval Office on the promise of change, and he was aware of the stumbling blocks on his way to change. As a master chess player, he let the Pentagon have its say (two surges since his inauguration) but asked for results. The Pentagon merely reinforced failure and could not deliver.
Operation Moshtarak, in February 2010, was an unmitigated disaster, and the Kandahar operation is a non-starter. One obstacle in Obama's march towards his objective has been removed. If allowed to operate with freedom, Wikileaks will remove the other. Its publication of the remaining 15,000 documents is bound to whip up a public debate reminiscent of the Nixon years. Already, the antiwar opinion has climbed to 62 percent. A "moratorium" - as in the case of Vietnam - may well be in the offing, thanks to Wikileaks. Is Obama playing Nixon? If yes, Wikileaks is a gift to him. Or, did he manage the gift? Whatever the case, the draw-down from Afghanistan is likely to begin as per schedule, if not earlier. Conventional wisdom commands that losses be cut.
* Mohammad Abdullah Gul is a researcher whose work focuses on the Indo-Pak subcontinent
** This article is published in terms of a partnership agreement between the Afro-Middle East Centre and the AlJazeera Centre for Studies.
By Lamis Andoni
The 2005 assassination of Lebanon's Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was followed by the launching of an international investigation into the assassination, and the subsequent setting up of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) in 2007. Both were problematic from the outset. First, it was unprecedented for a special foreign tribunal - albeit nominally under United Nations sponsorship - to be established to investigate the assassination of a state official. This unprecedented step raised suspicions as to the real political motivations of the west. Second, the process instantly became a further catalyst for the polarisation that had been instigated by the assassination itself.
By Chas Freeman
Below is a presentation by Chas Freeman to staff of the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and, separately, to the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs. The presentation was made on the 1 September 2010, the day before US-sponsored talks between Israelis and the Palestinian Authority began in Washington.
Al-Sabeel Newspaper and AMEC (Trans)
Since 1996, Khaled Mesh'al has been the Chairman of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) Political Bureau. After the assassination of Hamas leader Abdul 'Aziz Rantisi in 2004 by Israeli forces, Mesh'al became the movement's overall leader. He lives in exile in Damascus, from where he oversees the movement's activities both within Palestine and outside.
The most recent interview with Mesh'al was conducted by the Jordanian Arabic-language Al-Sabeel newspaper in July 2010. In it, Mesh'al laid out the policy direction of Hamas on a number of critical issues: negotiations with Israel, recognition of Israel, resistance, Jews, Christians, women, among other issues.
In the Arab world, the lengthy interview is being viewed as highly significant, and is regarded as a clear indication of positions that Hamas wants to pursue, especially with regard to its future attitude towards Israel. The Afro-Middle East Centre (AMEC) translated the interview into English and publishes it here to make it accessible to a wider audience, and to allow for greater understanding of the political and other perspectives of a movement which has become one of the most important role-players in the Middle East today. It is an important piece articulating, in its own words, the perspectives of Hamas' leadership, and is critical reading for observers of the Middle East, and policy-makers for whom the Middle East is important.
By Afro-Middle East Centre
On the 22 July 2010, an African Union Summit in Kampala, Uganda, resolved to increase the number of troops that make up the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), in an effort militarily to defeat the Islamist Al-Shabab movement. The AU decision followed a twin bombing in Uganda's capital city on the 11 July 2010, during the final match of the Football World Cup, resulting in the deaths of scores of people. A day after the bombings, Al-Shabab had claimed responsibility. Just a few days earlier, the movement's leaders had threatened attacks in Uganda and Burundi, the two countries whose troops make up the AMISOM force.
The AU decision and the bomb blasts which precipitated it once again cast the Somali crisis forcefully into the global spotlight. It is clear that both events combine to create a Somali conjuncture that poses serious policy challenges to South Africa, the African Union and the African continent as a whole.
This paper will outline some of these challenges, propose a plan that effectively can deal with the Somali situation and begin the process towards building a new Somali state and Somali democracy.
By Sourav Roy
"Our production lines are running very smoothly and we are capable of producing an endless number of ballistic missiles," announced Brigadier General Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), in a recent interview with the Iranian national news agency Fars. "We have made phenomenal progress in air defence capabilities and the current slew of sanctions means nothing more than a soft encouragement for us to acquire 'self-sufficiency'," he added.
Salami's comments clearly resonate with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad's claims in February that Iran's enemies remained unsuccessful in their attempts to devise an interception system capable of breaching Iran's "impenetrable" missile shield. Iranian political and military top brass have repeatedly claimed flamboyant military accomplishments and technological advancements, only to maintain silence later on.
By Olivier Da Lage
We have to admit that there was a pre-AlJazeera era and a post-AlJazeera era. There is no doubt that the start of broadcasting in November 1996 by the Qatar-based Arab satellite channel has profoundly changed the media and political equation in the entire Middle East. Countless articles, many books, and research papers in many languages have been devoted to "the AlJazeera phenomenon".i
State broadcasting authorities and newspaper managers in the Middle East, international broadcasters elsewhere, and governments in the region and beyond had to rethink their policies, change the way they addressed their people and the people of their neighbouring countries. Competitors were forced to set themselves up with the aim of luring away AlJazeera viewers. Where this succeeded (e.g. with Al Arabiya), it was because these other broadcasters emulated AlJazeera's formula of field reporting, and tough questioning of political figures on live interviews. Those viewers who were attracted to other channels usually continued watching AlJazeera for the sake of comparison.