By Ashwin Pienaar
On Thursday 3 June 2010, South Africa announced it would be recalling its ambassador to Israel, following the latter's raid on a flotilla of ships carrying aid to Gaza. The incident, which took place in international waters early on Monday, 31 May 2010, left nine activists dead and over 30 wounded.
In a media conference held in Pretoria on Thursday 3 June, South Africa's Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ebrahim Ebrahim, announced that, "the recall of Ambassador Ismail Coovadia is to show our strongest condemnation of the attack. This recent Israeli aggression of attacking the aid flotilla severely impacts on finding a lasting solution to the problems of the region. The South African government also joins the international community in its call for the siege of Gaza to be immediately lifted." Ebrahim added that the siege had brought "untold hardships" to the ordinary people of Gaza, making their lives "nightmarish".
By Afro-Middle East Centre
The United Nations (UN) fact-finding mission on the Israeli attacks on Gaza from December 2008 to January 2009 has slammed Israel for committing serious war crimes and breaches of humanitarian law, saying that these may amount to crimes against humanity.
The 575-page report (6.8MB) by the four-person mission, headed by South African Judge Richard Goldstone, was released on 15 September 2009, and a presentation to the UN's Human Rights Council in Geneva is scheduled for 29 September.
The four members of the mission were appointed by the President of the Human Rights Council in April 209, with a mandate to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed before, during and after Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" in Gaza.
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 Afro-Middle East Centre
The severing of Hamas’s relationship with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad’s government, which saw its politburo relocate from Damascus to Doha and Cairo in early 2012, would inevitably impact the Palestinian movement’s relationship with long-time allies, Hizbullah and Iran. In fact, Hamas’s political repositioning on Syria reflects a reconfiguration of regional alliances that have been spurred by the uprisings that have swept across the region since December 2010. The political rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and other countries, facilitated by the uprisings in the region, saw the Palestinian resistance movement gravitate away from the ‘axis of resistance’ (Iran, Hizbullah and Syria) towards a Brotherhood-oriented Egyptian-Qatari-Turkish axis. Aside from an ideological resonance, this new alliance would also potentially ameliorate its isolation brought on by the classification of it as a ‘terrorist’ organisation by Israel, the USA, Canada, the EU and Japan.
By Afro-Middle East Centre
Although the Egyptian uprising might not give rise to a domino effect in the region, it will have substantial regional implications. Na'eem Jeenah, executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre, writes in the Mail & Guardian that profound changes are occurring and will occur in the Middle East as a result of the uprising. He discusses the effect on opposition groups in other countries in the region, arguing that the events in Tunisia and Egypt have served to embolden people and has given them greater confidence to make demands on their governments. Also, significant ramifications of the revolution in Egypt are likely to emerge in terms of the power balance between Israel, the Palestinians and the United States. This is exacerbated by the revelations in the 'Palestine Papers' which had already placed serious doubt on the intentions of the Palestinian Authority. The most far-reaching implications the Egyptian revolution will have is on Israel, both in regards to the Camp David Accords and Egyptian collaboration with Israel. If a new Egyptian government results from the uprising, and is one that is neither friendly to the US and its interests nor to Israel, this will adjust the balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians, and may change the entire status quo. For the full article click here.