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Vol. XVI, No.3 Spring, 2002




WORLD DEVELOPMENTS



As Spring unfolds, the "War On Terrorism" is bringing an increase of militarization by the U.S. that is beginning to impact many parts of the world, while some other nations also use "anti-terrorism" as a basis for tougher policies. As all swords are two edged, this has some positive implications, but brings many dangers and has already produced a number of negative results (see Stephen Sachs article, "Is the 'War on Terrorism' Repeating Major Errors of the 'Cold War'?"). The United States currently has, or is about to post, troops in the Philippines (assisting Philippine forces fighting Islamic rebels allegedly affiliated with al qiada), Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen (training the royal guard), Somalia, Sudan Uzbekistan, Kyrgyztan and Georgia. U.S. and British forces continue to be involved in mop up operations and peacekeeping in Afghanistan. An indication that the U.S. is moving toward war on Iraq is that the US Air Force, to bypass Saudi objections to military action against Iraq, is moving its Gulf headquarters from Saudi Arabia to al-Udeid air base in Qatar, a modern billion-dollar installation with huge hangars and the longest runways in the Gulf. However, the Arab summit was united in opposing a direct U.S. Assault on Iraq, and might forstall any U.S. plans to escalate military action there (U.S. and British bombing of anti aircraft sites in the no fly zone in Iraq are continuing on a fairly regular basis). Iraq has responded to UN (and U.S.) Demands for renewed weapons of mass destruction inspections with a mixture of a vague statement that it would allow some inspection and assertions that it will not allow spies on its territory in the guise of inspectors. Thus, it is doubtful that Iraq will allow any meaningful return to weapons inspection. While it may be logical that terrorists might seek to obtain weaponry from Iraq, so far no credible evidence has been presented that Iraq is aiding terrorists (outside of Goldberg's revelation of payments to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, reported below). The U.S. has stated willingness to aid the Kingdom of Nepal combat Maoist rebels who have been increasingly active.

The United States has begun sending special forces to Georgia to train the Georgian military. The Soviet Union is concerned about the long term presence of U.S. Military personnel in a country on its boarder. In October, Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze told about 1,000 internally displaced Georgians who gathered in the capital for a demonstration that he would support a parliamentary decision to end the mandate of Russian peacekeeping forces in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia. The president's promise came after two controversial military strikes during which one United Nations helicopter was shot down and jets dropped bombs on targets in Abkhazia. Georgia accused the Russian military of involvement in the bombings of Abkhazia. Russia at first denied responsibility for that bombing, but ultimately admitted that one of its planes had become lost while on its way to bomb Chechen terrorist camps, and sent an official letter of regret to Georgia. The bombing incident took place in an area that has not been under the control of the Georgian government since the Abkhaz war of 1992-1993. Both Russia and Georgia have warned against allowing bilateral tensions to increase over the conflict in Abkhazia. Abkhaz officials have called on Russia to guarantee stability their republic. Georgia and Russia plan to repatriate 7,000 to 8,000 Chechen refugees, raising the possibility of a gross violation of the Geneva Convention by forcing civilians back into a zone of military activity. There is intelligence indicating that there are El Quida members opperating in Georgia, taking advantage of the governments lack of control of some areas.

Elsewhere in the Caucuses, the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the breakaway republic of Nagorno-Karabakh has been stalemated since a May 1994 cease-fire agreement stopped a war that had claimed more than 20,000 lives. The Minsk Group - an Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) initiative co-chaired by the United States, France, and Russia - claimed to be making significant progress last year. But there is a division of interests among the members of the peacemaking group that is making it difficult for it to be effective. Promises for economic development to rebuild and revitalize Nagorno-Karabakh have also failed to materialize over the last eight years. In Turkmenistan, the defection of three leading diplomats in three months indicates that the position of autocratic President Nursultan Niyazov is slowly weakening.

In Kazakhstan, the call for greater plurality, first strongly asserted in 1999 by the Forum of Democratic Forces (FDS) has gained a second wind in the emergence of the Democratic Change movement. In Azerbaijan, ologarcic President Heidar Aliev, now nearly 80, faces reelection or retirement next year.

In Kyrgyzstan, human rights and press freedom are now literally a matter of life and death for some, and armed struggles are in progress with Islamic militants and drug gangs, while in Uzbekistan human rights issues are active issues, and fighting continues between the government and the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The government of Tajikistan continues to be militarily engaged with Islamic militants and drug gangs. Over all, the region is in need of political and economic development that will bring long term stability with peace and justice.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is spiraling out of control with each new round of violence bringing a response of increased violence. Continued serious Israeli escalations, supposedly to suppress Palestinian suicide bombings and other attacks, have only encouraged more such acts by Palestinians. Israel has been making larger and larger military incursions further and further into the occupied territories bringing an unprecidented number of casualties and destruction. Many areas are cut off from medical help At the same time, blaming Arafat for ordering and failing to stop attacks on Israel, the Sharon government has been increasingly attacking Palestinian Authority facilities, while preventing Arafat from leaving the vicinity of his headquarters in Ramalah, until, now, Israeli forces have overrun that headquarters, and destroyed his communication system, making it almost impossible for him to do what the Israelis want--act to prevent further suicide bombings. Whether Arafat previously supported, or ordered, Palestinian attacks against Israelis is not clear. It seems that he is doing so now, possibly in response to Israeli incursions, which escalate, at least in part (some analysts claim that Sharon is merely looking for, and intentionally provoking, excuses to increase military action against Palestinians: see the articles in the current and last issue on this), because of Palestinian attacks. Sharon's policy of "isolating" Arafat, has greatly increased Arafat's popularity. The failure of Sharon's policies to increase the security of Israeli citizens (though there has been a cessation of suicide bombings in Israel as the latest Israeli incursion unfolds, that many analysts see as only temporary, without deescalation and political moves toward settlement) has been undermining his popularity, and he is increasingly seen as without a strategy for reducing the violence. The peace movement in Israel is now larger and more active than it has been for some time, though little heeded by the government, and there are a growing number of Israeli soldiers and reservists (now more than 490) refusing to serve in the occupied territories. The Israeli government moved to prevent international observers from going into Ramalah, and some other Palestinian areas, prior to its incursion there.

A possible opening for breaking the increasing cycle of violence has been presented, in late March, with the 22 nation Arab Summit unanimously accepting the Saudi proposal that Arab states establish normal relations with Israel, in return for Israel
turning over all occupied lands to the Palestinians and, in the case of the Golan Heights, to Syria. So far, Sharon has merely dismissed the offer as too vague. Whether Israel will eventually seize upon this unprecedented proposal as an opening point for a higher level of negotiations, remains to be seen. The violence may now become much worse, and the worse it gets, the more difficult it will be to attain even a cease fire, much less a settlement. The continuing to decline living situation of the destroyed, underdeveloped, Palestinian Economy, further demolished by continuing Israeli attacks and incursions, segregated from a relatively well off Isreali economy, is also an infuriating injustice to Palestinians. The extent of Palestinian anger and desperation is to be seen both in the increase in the number of suicide bombings, and the emergence of women as suicide bombers.

There have been many large demonstrations against Israel, and the U.S. For nor stopping the Israelis, around the Middle East and elsewhere. There is a possibility of increasing instability and serious unrest developing in many Middle East nations if
the escalation continues. President Bush has responded with strong language, blaming both Sharon and Arafat (but especially the latter for not doing enough to stop the suicide bombing) and calling on the Palestinians to cease suicide bombing and the Israelis to wind up their incursion and withdraw, and to treat the Palestinians with Dignity, Secretary of State Colin Powell has been dispatched to the area to try to arrange a truce and movement toward peace following the Arab Summit plan, now endorsed by the U.N. (Whose earlier resolutions it calls for being followed).

Goldberg reports in "The Great Terrror," in the March 25 New Yorker, that Iraq's Sadam Hussein now wishes to immortalize himself in history, and thus is seeking ways to destroy or weaken Israel. He has entered the Palestinian Israeli
debacle by paying an added $10,000 to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers as an encouragement of such acts. The UN Security Council has approved a U.S. sponsored resolution, for the first time, endorsing the creation of a Palestinian state.

The United States has greatly increased military spending and aid since Bush took office, especially after September 11. However, at the UN Conference on poverty and development in March, President Bush called on wealthy nations increase their foreign assistance with funds targeted at economic "policies we know will work." Bush said that the U.S. will increase its foreign aid by 50% by 2004 with a new $5 billion aid fund to nations that eliminate corruption and undertake free market economic reforms. While there is overwhelming evidence that corruption and economic repression inhibit economic performance and make economic aid ineffective, there is also strong evidence that the institution of unqualified free trade, general privatization of services, and general deregulation are often very damaging to economies, especially of less developed nations (as opposed to carefully worked out economic reforms and trade agreements, taking into account all aspects of a specific economy). The Bush administration now accepts that poor and repressed economic conditions breed terrorism, and understand that just giving money with no restrictions is often not effective. However, there is a great deal of debate over the qualifications that the administration would set for receiving aid, as they follow the philosophy that has guided the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to policies that have received a great deal of criticism. It does appear that U.S. Citizens would accept increases in foreign aid well beyond what Bush has proposed. For while polls often show many Americans feeling that the U.S. gives too much foreign aid, other polling has shown that that opinion has been based on the false belief that U.S. foreign aid levels are much higher than they actually are. The World Economic Forum in February saw criticism of the U.S. and European nations for tariffs that restrict exports, and hence economic growth, by developing nations.

Slow progress towards building peace continues in Northern Ireland, despite continued violent incidents. For example, there were several days of rioting near Catholic schools in Protestant areas between Protestant protestors and Catholics in
January and April. In April, the IRA decommissioned additional weapons, which was confirmed by international observers, and should help build momentum for peace. The improvement of the Northern Irish economy since the initial peace agreement has been an impetus toward further developing peace, in the face of old hatreds and lack of trust which are yet to be overcome.

Three months after the general elections, Kosovo got its first elected president and government on March 4. After long negotiations, the Kosovo parliament elected Ibrahim Rugova as the first president of the UN-administered province, while Bajram Rexhepi, a member of the second biggest Kosovo Albanian party, the Democratic Party of Kosovo (PDK), became prime minister. The breakthrough came in a deal among the leaders of the three biggest ethnic Albanian parties brokered by the newly appointed head of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), Michael Steiner.

According to the agreement, Rugova's Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK) took the presidency and the post of speaker of the parliament, while the PDK, led by former Kosovo Liberation Army (UCK) leader Hashim Thaci, got the post of prime minister. In addition, the LDK got four and the PDK two out of the total of 10 ministries. The Alliance for the Future of Kosova (AAK), which is headed by another former UCK leader, Ramush Haradinaj, received no top posts but will control two ministries. The Serbian minority and representatives of Kosovo's other minorities received one ministry each. Serbia and Montenegro signed a plan, in March, for a looser federation renaming Yugoslavia to become "Serbia and Montenegro". The two republics will share foreign and defence policy, but will otherwise be largely autonomous. At least temporarily Montenegro will use the Euro for it currency while Serbia retains the Dinar.

In Rumania, the Bucharest-based Regional Center for Combating Transborder Crime has been active for several months in reducing crime in a region that has been plagued with it since the end of communism. The Center has played an important role in developing international anticrime cooperation across Turkey and the Balkans.

With the collapse of peace talks, the civil war in Columbia is expanding and bringing increased violence, even in the larger cities. The Bush Administration is now seeking to increase military aid to Columbia and to have all restrictions on that aid
removed by Congress. Critics agree that the fragile democratic government of Columbia needs to be able to control all of its territory, but see increased military aid as counter productive, and seek alternative forms of aid and internal reforms. In Peru, a bomb blast near the U.S. embassy, in March, appears to indicate the resurgence of the guerilla group shining path, which had been inactive for several years.

Argentina continues to suffer economic woes with half the population now living below the poverty level and the government defaulting on $14 million in debt.

Venezuela is reported to be in near anarchy with army officers rebelling against President Hugo Chavez's left of center government.

Death threats were received in March by the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation and others who work on exhumations in Guatemala. Among them were Fredy Peccerelli (current President of the FAFG) and Fernando Moscoso (founder and past president of the FAFG). In 2000, Fredy and Fernando were named by Time Magazine as Leaders for the Next Millennium. In November 2000, Fredy and Clyde Snow were recognized by the American Anthropological Association for their contribution to human rights and Anthropology. In 2000, Fernando received the Fulbright International Achievement award for his work to develop rural peace museums throughout Guatemala. Both Fredy and Fernando, and nine other anthropologists, are on court dockets to testify as expert forensic witnesses in upcoming cases against current and former army officials for massacres in the early 1 980s that razed more 626 than Mayan villages. For further information, contact dmrothen@umich.edu, or vsanford@nd.edu.

North and South Korea reached agreement at secret talks in March to resume dialogue on reconciliation and unification and to exchange special envoys in April. In March, North Korea, in reaction to hearing that it was on a list of nations for which the U.S. Pentagon was drawing up contingency plans for possible targeting by nuclear missiles, said that it might resume nuclear weapons development. It appears, however, that behind the scenes diplomacy may have eased the situation. North Korea was one of several nations irked by some of President Bush's rhetoric, which appears to have been counterproductive in its bluntness.

In India, an explosion of Hindu-Muslim violence in February and March has left more than 500 people dead. Tension between India and Pakistan has eased, although no breakthrough has been made over the underlying issue of Kashmir. Violence is still a major problem in Pakistan, including recent killings of foreigners, apparently aimed at the governments anti-Taliban and anti-Muslim extremist policies. The government of SriLanka agreed, in February, to a cease fire, already approved by Tamil Tigers Rebels, prepared by Norwegian negotiators. There is now hope for a negotiated settlement to end the two decade old war that has claimed more than 64.000 lives.

East Timor is scheduled to achieve full independence on May 20. The return of refugees from West Timor remains a slow process, and revisions of the Indonesian government's ad hoc human rights court for East Timor have reduced the likelihood of prosecution for human rights violations of high ranking Indonesian military officers. The new nation will need economic assistance for a considerable period. The large international presence in the country, consisting mostly of highly paid expatriates, has created a duel economy, marginalizing East Timoreze in their own territory. Poverty, inadequate health care and an under resourced education system are challenges to be overcome. Their are critiques that international institutions attempts to model East Timorese development after to their own "free market" approach
are causing the same problems complained of in other developing areas. For more information contact East Timor Action Network, P.O. Box 15774, Washington, DC 20003 (202)544-8911, etan@etan.org, www.ewtan.org.

Angola and the UNITA rebels signed a cease fire in April and peace talks have resumed. In Zimbabwe, President Robert Mugabe was reelected in an election marked by significant election fraud perpetrated by the government. Illegal violent seizures of farms owned by whites are continuing. The nation's poverty rate has climbed from 40% to 75% in the last decade. Although elections in Africa are generally freer than ten years ago, rigged elections are still common, as in Zambia, Madagascar and in Uganda (where the President likely would have been reelected, anyway, in a fully free election) in the past year. Mozambique has offered white farmers, thrown off their land in Zimbabwe, up to 2400 acres of fertile land on which to make a new start.


Mozambique has a relatively sturdy democracy, and President Chissano announced in December that he will voluntarily yield power at the end of his second term in 2004. In March, Ugandan troops entered Sudan and killed 80 rebels in an attempt to end a 15 year insurgency in Uganda by the Lords Army. Nigeria continues to suffer from ethnic violence, with 55 people being killed in Legos in three days in February. A January report from the United States Institute of Peace finds that there are
numerous causes of the regional war that has swept West Africa in the last dozen years. Among these, internally, are poverty, lack of economic opportunity, ethnic animosities and a history of political abuse and corruption, while external factors include interventions of Burkina Faso, Lybia and a number of non-state actors. The United Nations Armed Mission to Sierra Leone has provided a temporary calm, raising hope of developing a long term solution to the causes of violence. However, the economies, political organs and state institutions of Sierra Leone and Liberia are shattered and human capital is depleted. Moreover, a number of governments in the region lack legitimacy and several are still troubled by ethnic tensions. Long term progress will require Western assistance in social, economic and political development (especially in Nigeria), while cutting off the financial resources of war lords and continuing appropriate military assistance and professionalization of national militaries. For more information contact the USIP, 1200 17 Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20036 (202)457-1700. www.usip.org.

Global military spending is rising, after years of decline. Most of the increase is in poor countries, with the greatest economic need. In 2000, arms sales to Africa and South asia rose to $36 billion. The number of major conflicts (1000 or more
civilian and military casualties) in the world decreased by one from 39 to 38 from the start of 2001 to the start of 2002 according to the Center for Defense Information register. In addition to those already mentioned, the following armed conflicts
are in progress: In Asia: Indonesia has granted increased autonomy to Aceh, but at least 2000 fighters remain adamant about independence; while increased autonomy and economic return on extracted natural resources has been granted to Irian Jaya, the Free Paupua Movement seeks independence from Jakarta; but in Slawesi there is now a truce in Muslim-Christian violence. Africa is full of armed struggles not already mentioned: Algeria struggles with armed Islamic groups; Burundi suffers from
Hutu Tutsi conflict; The Democratic Republic of Congo and its allies are engaged with Rwanda, Uganda and indigenous rebels; and Sudan struggles with the Sudanese People's Libneration Army. In Europe: the Russian-Chechyn struggle continues.

From 1995-1999, the population of people suffering hunger in the U.S. increased by 67% while the homeless population went up by 30%.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported in February that faster than expected melting of glaciers is likely to double their predicted impact on the rise of sea levels from global warming by 11"-12" by the end of the century. Combined
with other factors, this is now predicted to bring a 1'-2' rise by 2100. In low lying areas, a foot of ocean rise could push the shoreline inland by 1000.' In Antarctica, regional warming brought the shattering and collapse of a 12,000 year old ice sheet,
650' thick, of 1260 square miles (the size of Rhode Island) in 35 days in February and March. The immediate cause was local warming, as ice is not melting or breaking up at some other areas in Antarctica. However, many scientists believe that the ice
sheet break up is ultimately the result of global warming. Drought, possibly coming with climate change, is expected to bring water shortages in 30% of the U.S. this summer. This is the greatest drought the U.S. has experienced since the still larger "dust bowl" of the 1930's. Global warming is also threatening to bring climate change that may cause the state birds of seven U.S. States no longer to migrate through the states that officially claim them.

 

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©2002, 2003, 2004,2005. All rights reserve. The Nonviolent Change Journal is published by the Research/ActionTeam on Nonviolent Large Systems Change - an interorganizational and international project of The Organization Development Institute.

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