Vendors in the vicinity of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) supplement the distribution center in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, displaying the same goods Palestinian refugees receive from the UNRWA distribution centers. Many Palestinians receiving aid from UNRWA and other NGOs sell some or all of the aid in exchange for cash. These people have enough food but need money for daily expenses not covered by the aid provided to them. Recent United Nations report says Gaza could be "uninhabitable" in less than five years if current economic trends continue.
The Political Culture of Today's Russia
Is the Power State Back?
Is the Power State Back?
Can we say that what is under way in Today's Russia is a process of "Re-composition" of a Moscow-dominated political space, twenty-five years after the collapse of the Soviet Union? Reset-DoC publishes the edited transcripts of the conference talks given in Berlin last June by Marlene Laruelle, Giuliano Amato, Toomas Hendrik Ilves and Karel von Schwarzenberg. The aim of Reset-DOC's conference was to analyse the political culture of today's Russia as well as Russia’s ideological trajectory over the last twenty-five years, when Russia seems to have developed a new version of the “power state” that dominated European history until the end of the 20th Century. Other speakers at the roundtable included Jörg Lau and Manuel Sarrazin, the Director of Reset-DOC Giancarlo Bosetti chaired the meeting.
The current crisis is generating the myth of borders as controlled, says Seyla Benhabib. But this is only a myth. It is a fact that states are escaping their obligations under international and European law; while migrants themselves may be helping to keep the social peace between classes.
Love him or hate him but Recep Tayyip Erdogan has yet again demonstrated his supreme talent as a political operator. In the elections of November 1st 2015, his Justice & Development Party (AKP) obtained a majority in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly, winning 49.4% of the vote – an increase from 40.9% (and 4.5 million voters) since the inconclusive elections of June 7. The AKP is now able to form a cabinet alone. Turkey, however, is more or less in the same position as before the vote of June: a powerful, directly elected president driven by limitless ambition in control of the legislature. Reset-DOC has talked about the last elections' results with prominent Turkish intellectual Mustafa Akyol, the author of Islam Without Extremes (2013).
“They have never respected me since the day I became president with 52% of the votes. Someone should ask these people what their idea of democracy is.” The day after the Turkish elections that sealed his victory and the defeat of all his opponents, this was how President Recep Tayyip Erdogan felt entitled to answer the foreign media, which had thrown doubts and allegations at him. The Justice and Development Party (AKP), with 49.4% of the vote, won 316 of the Turkish parliament’s 550 seats, well above an absolute majority (276), spoils that will allow the president’s party to form a government on his own, but also quite close to the qualified majority of 330 needed to change the constitution and implement his greatly yearned for presidentialist plans.
The crisis in Europe today is felt most dramatically and most painfully by tens of thousands of refugees. They are indeed in critical need of help, and many of them will die if their needs are not recognized and met. But this is also a crisis for the people of Europe, for they are the ones, right now, who must recognize and meet those needs, and if they fail to do that, the idea of Europe will die. The dream of a new kind of commonwealth, a commonwealth of mutual responsibility and liberal values, will be over; we will wake up to a grim day.
Whether “European Islam” is possible or not appears to be one of the controversial questions of our recent times. “Institutionalized ignorance” – in the words of Mohammed Arkoun - feeds mistrust, which in turn feeds fear. Fear becomes a prejudice, which in turn becomes a generalization; and generalizations are wrong. Thus, [institutionalized] ignorance is wrong. European arrogance seems to have forgotten the legacy of its earlier Enlightenment. Muslims’ moral order and Golden Age, long time passed, seems hijacked by terrorists. Wise moderates from both sides are needed more than any other times, and there are plenty of them. Bloody events in the name of politicized Allah, especially since the 1970s until the current horrendous massacres committed by the “Intolerant State” of ISIS nurture the stories that demagogues use to uphold their antagonistic views about each other.
I can still remember that Saturday, October 12th 2013. We were preparing to open our workshop on “Civil Society’s Role in the Success of National Dialogue” when, all of a sudden, a group of police officers came into the room and searched it thoroughly. We learned later that they had been warned about the presence of a suspicious object. Having started later than scheduled, the workshop was still in the middle of its opening session when a militia group invaded the conference hall to disrupt our work, incessantly chanting slogans against dialogue. We had invited the representatives of all the most important political parties, but the Nida Tounes (Call for Tunisia) representative had been prevented from entering.
A toll booth on the ill-famed Salerno-Reggio Calabria motorway. It is not just any old toll booth, but the one that most keeps alive the memories of the wounds Fascism inflicted on our history. Tarsia, the exit leading to Campi Ferramonti, the largest concentration camp built in Italy following the proclamation of racial laws. It is on this strip of land extending all the way to the River Crati, where on September 8th, 1943, 2,200 people were crowded, that the cemetery for migrants will be built. An international burial ground created to provide a dignified resting place for the thousands who have perished chasing the dream of coming to Europe, the continent in which they placed all hope of redemption from hunger and destitution.
Last week in Turkey will be remembered for a long time in the country’s recent history. Late on Sunday, September 6th, news of clashes came from the border, obliging Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu to leave immediately for Ankara to chair a special national security summit. That same evening, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, appearing on CNN, commented on the news arriving from the south-east, saying, “If one party had obtained 400 MPs and reformed the constitution, we would not be in this situation.” As president of the republic, and thus an impartial figure, Erdogan did not mention which party, but he certainly was not referring to the pro-Kurdish HDP, which he considers the political wing of the PKK, which “with the HDP now represented in parliament, has become stronger and is now attacking.” Turkey would only hear about the 16 soldiers killed in Daglica, on the Iraqi border, following an attack by the PKK, the next afternoon.
Europe will welcome 160,000 refugees in 2015. Each member state will be called upon to receive a quota in proportion to their economic and demographic size. This is the proposal put forward by the EU Commission’s President Jean-Claude Junker in his ‘State of the Union’ speech on Wednesday. Germany has been promoting this plan and has been putting it into action for some time, giving the the states, the Länder, responsibility for sharing the burden of managing asylum seekers. They are allocated on the basis of the so-called “Königsteiner key”, a system created in the ‘50s and originally aimed at spreading over what was then West Germany the funds destined for research.
The centenary of the Armenian genocide will go down in history, if for no other reason that Pope Francis’ words will still echo powerfully over the days and years to come. Many things have been said and written about Jorge Bergoglio’s speech and there is no need to add anything. Here the issue of the genocide’s centenary starts from a different perspective, to be more specific from a location; Gallipoli.
The announcement that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2015 had been awarded to Tunisia and the Tunisians came as a surprise. The prestigious award was attributed to the National Dialogue Quartet for its “decisive contribution to the building of a pluralistic democracy in Tunisia in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.”
“Prime Minister Erdoğan’s statement of condolence to the Armenians was a milestone in Turkey’s history.” This was the first sentence of my column in daily Hürriyet on April 26 last year. The then Prime Minister Erdoğan had made an unprecedented move in Turkish history by issuing an official statement offering condolences to Armenians on April 24, the 99th anniversary of the Armenian massacres. This year, however, April 24 arrives in Turkey in a totally different atmosphere. The declaration of Pope Francis last Sunday that “the Armenian Genocide is the first genocide of the 20th century” and the resolution adopted by the European Parliament last week urging Turkey to recognize the genocide have rekindled the longstanding genocide debate in the country.
The Iranian monthly magazine Zanan-e Emruz (“Today’s Women”) had barely reached its tenth issue when it was forced to stop publication following a ruling by the Tehran courts’ Office of Press Control. The announcement was made in April and the news itself is nothing new; over the past fifteen years dozens of newspapers have had authorisations issued and then revoked on the basis of changing internal political events. In the past two years, following the election of President Hasan Rouhani, the social and political atmosphere has certainly changed drastically. Books once censored are now given an imprimatur, banned films have returned to theatres and new newspapers are published. Censorship, however, has not disappeared although the ‘red lines’, the boundaries of what is permissible, have been moved.
The migratory flow from the south towards Europe was “scientifically” announced at least 25 years ago. Faced with problems concerning immigrants between Great Britain and France, between France and Italy, faced with walls and railway stations under siege in Hungary, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel has reproposed the European Union as an “community based on law” with the laws of individual states subordinated to the common interest and principles of openness and immigration policies.