These are all the Blogs posted on Saturday, 20, 2010.
Saturday, 20 November 2010
Suspected Islamists kill three in Nigerian mosque
KANO, Nigeria - Gunmen suspected of being members of an Islamist sect behind a deadly uprising in Nigeria last year shot dead three worshippers at a mosque in a northern city Friday, police and witnesses said.
One of two gunmen riding a motorcycle opened fire on a Wahabi mosque in the city of Maiduguri shortly before Friday prayers, killing three people including a boy, mosque officials and witnesses told AFP.
"The sermon was about to commence when two men on a motorcycle approached and one of them opened fire into the congregation ... killing three people including the 10-year-old boy," mosque official Abdulkadir Yunus said.
The gunmen fled in the confusion that followed, he said.
"From all indications, the attackers are members of Boko Haram, who are believed to have been behind several such killings using motorcycles and guns in the past few months," Yunus said.
The Islamist Boko Haram sect considers Saudi-inclined Wahabi Muslims to be heretics. There's the boot on the other foot for once - it's usually the Wahabis calling other Muslims heretic.
A fiery Wahabi cleric renowned for criticising Boko Haram ideology was gunned down at his home in October, along with a student, by men suspected to be members of the militant Islamist sect.
Tommy Robinson leader of the EDL on Radio 5 Live yesterday. Patronised by the sneering BBC presenter, but he spoke the truth and shamed the devil. HT Brian of London.
So far as Anil Patani, Assistant Chief Constable of the corrupt and treasonable West Midlands Police is concerned, it is true he was not born a Muslim, and he retains a Hindu name, but he is either a closet revert (cf Galloway G.) or is in considerable debt to powerful Islamics. He certainly owes the race relations industry for his many promotions having successfully sued for racial discrimination at least once. Still Ali Dizeai came unstuck, and the bigger they come the harder they fall.
The brown-and-white Momo was one of 32 successful candidates out of 70 dogs, passing a search and rescue test by finding a person in five minutes after merely sniffing their cap
"Any breed of dog can be entered to become a police dog in the search and rescue division," said a police spokesman from the western Japanese prefecture of Nara.
Momo will be used for rescue operations in case of disasters such as earthquakes, in the hope that she may be able to squeeze her tiny frame into places too narrow for more usual rescue dogs, which tend to be German Shepherds.
Latner: Is Israel a Rogue State? You Better Hope So.
by GABRIEL LATNER
An expectation-defying speech delivered at a Cambridge University student debate last month.
This is a war of ideals, and the other speakers here tonight are rightfully, idealists. I'm not. I'm a realist. I'm here to win. I have a single goal this evening - to have at least a plurality of you walk out of the "Aye" door. I face a singular challenge - most, if not all, of you have already made up your minds.
This issue is too polarizing for the vast majority of you not to already have a set opinion. I'd be willing to bet that half of you strongly support the motion, and half of you strongly oppose it. I want to win, and we're destined for a tie. I'm tempted to do what my fellow speakers are going to do - simply rehash every bad thing the Israeli government has ever done in an attempt to satisfy those of you who agree with them. And perhaps they'll even guilt one of you rare undecided into voting for the proposition, or more accurately, against Israel.
It would be so easy to twist the meaning and significance of international "laws" to make Israel look like a criminal state. But that's been done to death. It would be easier still to play to your sympathy, with personalized stories of Palestinian suffering. And they can give very eloquent speeches on those issues. But the truth is that treating people badly, whether they're your citizens or an occupied nation, does not make a state "rogue." If it did, Canada, the US, and Australia would all be rogue states based on how they treat their indigenous populations. Britain's treatment of the Irish would easily qualify them to wear this sobriquet. These arguments, while emotionally satisfying, lack intellectual rigor.
More importantly, I just don't think we can win with those arguments. It won't change the numbers. Half of you will agree with them, half of you won't. So I'm going to try something different, something a little unorthodox. I'm going to try and convince the die-hard Zionists and Israel supporters here tonight to vote for the proposition.
By the end of my speech, I will have presented five pro-Israel arguments that show Israel is if not a "rogue state" then at least "rogue-ish." Let me be clear. I will not be arguing that Israel is "bad." I will not be arguing that it doesn't deserve to exist. I won't be arguing that it behaves worse than every other country. I will only be arguing that Israel is "rogue."
THE WORD "rogue" has come to have exceptionally damning connotations. But the word itself is value-neutral. The OED defines rogue as "Aberrant, anomalous; misplaced, occurring (esp. in isolation) at an unexpected place or time," while a dictionary from a far greater institution gives this definition: "behaving in ways that are not expected or not normal, often in a destructive way."
These definitions and others center on the idea of anomaly - the unexpected or uncommon. Using this definition, a rogue state is one that acts in an unexpected, uncommon or aberrant manner. A state that behaves exactly like Israel.
The first argument is statistical. The fact that Israel is a Jewish state alone makes it anomalous enough to be dubbed a rogue state: There are 195 countries in the world. Some are Christian, some Muslim, some are secular. Israel is the only country in the world that is Jewish. Or, to speak mathmo for a moment, the chance of any randomly chosen state being Jewish is 0.0051%. In comparison the chance of a UK lottery ticket winning at least £10 is 0.017% - more than twice as likely. Israel's Jewishness is a statistical aberration.
The second argument concerns Israel's humanitarianism - in particular, Israel's response to a refugee crisis. Not the Palestinian refugee crisis - for I am sure that the other speakers will cover that - but the issue of Darfurian refugees. Everyone knows that what happened, and is still happening in Darfur, is genocide, whether or not the UN and the Arab League will call it such. There has been a mass exodus from Darfur as the oppressed seek safety. They have not had much luck. Many have gone north to Egypt - where they are treated despicably. The brave make a run through the desert in a bid to make it to Israel. Not only do they face the natural threats of the Sinai, they are also used for target practice by the Egyptian soldiers patrolling the border.
Why would they take the risk? Because in Israel they are treated with compassion - they are treated as the refugees that they are - and perhaps Israel's cultural memory of genocide is to blame. The Israeli government has even gone so far as to grant several hundred Darfurian refugees citizenship. This alone sets Israel apart from the rest of the world.
But the real point of distinction is this: The IDF sends out soldiers and medics to patrol the Egyptian border. They are sent looking for refugees attempting to cross into Israel. Not to send them back into Egypt, but to save them from dehydration, heat exhaustion, and Egyptian bullets.
Compare that to the US's reaction to illegal immigration across their border with Mexico. The American government has arrested private individuals for giving water to border crossers who were dying of thirst - and here the Israeli government is sending out its soldiers to save illegal immigrants. To call that sort of behavior anomalous is an understatement.
My third argument is that the Israeli government engages in an activity which the rest of the world shuns - it negotiates with terrorists. Forget the late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, a man who died with blood all over his hands. They're in the process of negotiating with terrorists as we speak. Yasser Abed Rabbo is one of the lead PLO negotiators that has been sent to the peace talks with Israel. Abed Rabbo also used to be a leader of the PFLP - an organization of "freedom fighters" that engaged in such freedom-promoting activities as killing 22 Israeli high school students. And the Israeli government is sending delegates to sit at a table with this man and talk about peace. And the world applauds.
You would never see the Spanish government in peace talks with the leaders of the ETA - the British government would never negotiate with Thomas Murphy. And if President Obama were to sit down and talk about peace with Osama Bin Laden, the world would view this as insanity. But Israel can do the exact same thing - and earn international praise in the process. That is the dictionary definition of rogue - behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal.
Another part of dictionary definition is behavior or activity "occurring at an unexpected place or time." When you compare Israel to its regional neighbors, it becomes clear just how roguish Israel is.
And here is the fourth argument: Israel has a better human rights record than any of its neighbors. At no point in history has there ever been a liberal democratic state in the Middle East - except for Israel. Of all the countries in the Middle East, Israel is the only one where the LGBT community enjoys even a small measure of equality. In Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar and Syria, homosexual conduct is punishable by flogging, imprisonment, or both. But homosexuals there get off pretty lightly compared to their counterparts in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen, who are put to death. Israeli homosexuals can adopt, openly serve in the army, enter civil unions and are protected by exceptionally strongly worded anti-discrimination legislation. Beats a death sentence. In fact, it beats America.
Israel's protection of its citizens' civil liberties has earned international recognition. Freedom House is an NGO that releases an annual report on democracy and civil liberties in each of the 195 countries in the world. It ranks each country as "free," "partly free" or "not free." In the Middle East, Israel is the only country that has earned designation as a "free" country. Not surprising given the level of freedom afforded to citizens in say, Lebanon - a country designated "partly free," where there are laws against reporters criticizing not only the Lebanese government, but the Syrian regime as well.
Iran is a country given the rating of "not free," putting it alongside China, Zimbabwe, North Korea, and Myanmar. In Iran, there is a special "press court" which prosecutes journalists for such heinous offenses as criticizing the ayatollah, reporting on stories damaging the "foundations of the Islamic republic," using "suspicious (i.e., Western) sources," or insulting Islam. Iran is the world leader in terms of jailed journalists, with 39 reporters (that we know of) in prison as of 2009. They also kicked out almost every Western journalist during the 2009 election. I guess we can't really expect more from a theocracy.
Which is what most countries in the Middle East are - theocracies and autocracies. But Israel is the sole, the only, the rogue, democracy. Out of all the countries in the Middle East, only in Israel do anti-government protests and reporting go unquashed and uncensored.
I HAVE one final argument - the last nail in the opposition's coffin - and it's sitting right across the aisle. Mr. Ran Gidor's presence here is all the evidence any of us should need to confidently call Israel a rogue state. For those of you who have never heard of him, Mr. Gidor is a political counselor attached to Israel's embassy in London. He's the guy the Israeli government sent to represent them to the UN. He knows what he's doing. And he's here tonight. And it's incredible.
Consider, for a moment, what his presence here means. The Israeli government has signed off to allow one of their senior diplomatic representatives to participate in a debate on their very legitimacy. That's remarkable. Do you think for a minute that any other country would do the same? If the Yale University Debating Society were to have a debate where the motion was "This house believes Britain is a racist, totalitarian state that has done irrevocable harm to the peoples of the world," would Britain allow any of its officials to participate? No. Would China participate in a debate about the status of Taiwan? Never. And there is no chance in hell that an American government official would ever be permitted to argue in a debate concerning its treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. But Israel has sent Mr. Gidor to argue tonight against a 19-year-old law student who is entirely unqualified to speak on the issue at hand.
Every government in the world should be laughing at Israel right now, because it forgot rule number one. You never add credence to crackpots by engaging with them. It's the same reason you won't see Stephen Hawking or Richard Dawkins debate David Icke. But Israel is doing precisely that. Once again, behaving in a way that is unexpected, or not normal. Behaving like a rogue state.
That's five arguments that have been directed at the supporters of Israel. But I have a minute or two left. And here's an argument for all of you - Israel willfully and forcefully disregards international law. In 1981 Israel destroyed Osirak - Saddam Hussein's nuclear bomb lab. Every government in the world knew that Hussein was building a bomb. And they did nothing. Except for Israel.
Yes, in doing so they broke international law and custom. But they also saved us all from a nuclear Iraq. That rogue action should earn Israel a place of respect in the eyes of all freedom-loving peoples. But it hasn't.
But tonight, while you listen to us prattle on, I want you to remember something: While you're here, Khomeini's Iran is working towards the Bomb. And if you're honest with yourself, you know that Israel is the only country that can, and will, do something about it. Israel will, out of necessity, act in a way that is the not the norm, and you'd better hope that they do it in a destructive manner. Any sane person would rather a rogue Israel than a nuclear Iran.
The writer is a Toronto-born second-year law student at Cambridge. He was speaking, along with two other speakers, for the motion: 'Israel is a rogue state' at a student debate late last month. The motion, which was opposed by Israeli diplomat Ran Gidor and two other speakers, was overwhelmingly defeated.
From The Swedish edition of The Local, as interesting for what it doesn't say as what it does.
A doctor at Örebro University Hospital in central Sweden was attacked and kicked recently by the relatives of a critical ill woman who had just given birth, because they objected to him being a male.
"He was attacked by the husband and received a kick to the groin," said René Bangshöj at the hospital to the local Nerikes Allehanda (NA) daily.
The incident occurred on November 6th when the doctor entered the delivery room at the maternity ward at the hospital responding to a call from the woman's attendant midwife. She had recently given birth and was bleeding heavily.
The woman's husband screamed at the doctor that he should leave the room at once, but he refused and approached the patient to examine her. At this point he was attacked by the man. The husband's brother joined in the melee, attacking the doctor from behind, according to the newspaper.
The matter was reported to the police who escorted the woman's relatives from the premises.
I cannot imagine any European family behaving in this way and so my immediate reaction is that the family are Muslim, (and Somali rather than Pakistani or Iraqi) and that the woman was in such dire straits because her childhood mutilation resulted in childbirth ripping her apart. The readers of the Local are of similar mind.. The original Swedish language report in Nerikes Allehanda doesn't give any extra information.
Terrorist groups are allegedly recruiting members in line with their plans to launch attacks in the capital, a ranking official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Friday.
Maj. Gen. Arthur Tabaquero, commander of AFP's Eastern Mindanao, told reporters that several terrorist groups, such as Jemaah islamiyah and local counterpart Abu Sayyaf, the Rajah Solaiman Movement (RSM), and the Special Operations Group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, have been identified to be "operating" in Metro Manila.
Tabaquero however stopped short in disclosing how many were recruited but added that the terrorist groups have intensified recruitment among Muslim converts.
Six countries, including Australia, have recently issued travel advisories to their nationals, warning of possible terror attacks in the Philippines.
Arabs, Afghans, Somalis, Syrians, "Palestinians" And Other Muslims Moving Into Europe Through Turkey
Muslims From All Over Smuggled Into Greece And The Balkans, And Then To Elsewhere In Europe
By Chris Deliso in Skopje
Fierce debates on illegal immigration vis-à-vis terrorism fears and unemployment woes have hardened political and social discourse in Western Europe. And, at the same time that a jittery Brussels issues threats to the Balkan states over perceived abuses in the visa liberalization programme, the region's key role in the lucrative trade of human trafficking has been reaffirmed by recent arrests.
The programme's extension on November 8 to include Bosnia and Albania, comes almost a year after Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro were given visa-free travel. Now, Albanian and Bosnian ministries responsible for issuing new, biometric passports have been swamped with applicants. Average citizens here compare life in their home countries to "being imprisoned," reported AFP on November 14, and look forward to a brighter future in the EU- despite repeated statements from Brussels that the programme is intended for short-term travel, not work or study. Among Balkan nations, only Kosovo passport-holders remain left out in the cold.
Recent Arrests Point to Organized Transnational Networks
In Greece, police in the Peloponnese on 11 November discovered a truck carrying 143 Afghan migrants, who had paid 2,500-3,000 euros each to be transported by a Syrian-led gang to Italy by boat, according to another AFP report.
Meanwhile, interesting details about a smaller human trafficking ring have emerged in Macedonia. Six "Palestinians" and four Somali citizens were detained Thursday in the northeastern city of Kumanovo, reported Skopje daily Dnevnik. Citing an interior ministry announcement, the newspaper stated that the migrants were from 16-40 years old, and had entered illegally from Greece. When detained, they had reached the last staging post in the journey before they were to cross the southern border with Serbia.
The immigrants were found in the impoverished Roma neighborhood of Sredorek, near the bus station and the center of the town. Police found the men hidden in the residence of 51-year-old Metodija Kamberovski, reported the newspaper, having been tipped off after a relative of Kamberovski's reported seeing strangers in the house.
It was then discovered that one day earlier the immigrants (presumed to be economic migrants) had illegally crossed the Greek-Macedonian border by train (though the precise scenario here remains unclear). They then went by train from Bitola to Skopje, and thereafter by bus to Kumanovo. There, an individual (identified by police by the initials "A.I.") took them to the safe house.
The Dnevnik piece provides vivid testimony from the relative of the arrested man who was the one to turn him in. "I went into the house and saw that my cousin was drunk, and sitting in the room with some unknown Arabs," recounted Ramadan Mucevski. "I was so scared. I began to wonder why my cousin was here and why they wanted to stay in his house. I told him that they are terrorists and murderers, and that they should not be in his house. Then I communicated [their presence] to the police."
According to police, the arrested Kamberovski had an agreement with "A.I." to shelter the migrants in his home, in return for 1250 euros. The next day, they were to have been smuggled into Serbia. Police are currently investigating further while holding Kamberovski in 30-day detention.
Anatomy of an Operation
Human trafficking in Macedonia from and to EU-member Greece is a well documented and frequently discussed issue, though it is not often that the actual workings of the operation are disclosed. Local intelligence received by Balkanalysis.com over the past three years indicates some examples of how one variety of such operations works. In light of this, it is quite interesting to note that the latest group of migrants traveled to Kumanovo via public transportation- apparently, without arousing the attention of train or bus conductors along the way.
Another method of transport, which involves local participation, could be considered nothing more than glorified taxi work by individuals not otherwise involved in any suspicious activities. Usually, a "friend of a friend of a friend" mentions that the prospective driver, using his own car, will be paid 100 euros per passenger (up to four), plus gas. The driver would then be sent from Kumanovo to Tabanovce, on the Serbian border, having received instructions about exactly when and where to go in this mostly uninhabited, hilly border area. There he would be entrusted with illegal immigrants who had been smuggled across by handlers on the Serbian side. Inevitably most were simple economic migrants looking to work in the EU. [But an economic migrant, if Muslim, becomes an economic burden to the peoples of the West. And merely by swelling Muslim ranks, and therefore perceived Muslim power, and increasing the size of the swamp in which Muslim terrorists can breed or hide, constitute a permanent threat to the civilisational coherence, llegal and political institutions, and physical security of the Western peoples and states among whom they manage to settle. ]
However, the driver would not be performing the operation alone. Two accompanying cars would go in front of him, at staggered distances of up to 10km each, as safeguards against any police activity on the main E-75 highway leading south to the Greek border. If any police presence was noted, they would be immediately informed by mobile phone to get off the highway and take the back roads. Finally, the immigrants would be left somewhere in the middle of nowhere on the frontier with Greece, to be picked up by the next individual who would shepherd them across that border. The same operation alternately worked in the reverse direction. In neither case would the recruited drivers have any idea about whom they were working for, in the bigger picture of trans-national crime syndicates.
Illegal Immigrants and Turkey-Greece Relations
The major point of origin for most illegal immigrants through the Balkans remains Turkey, however, and Greece absorbs the bulk of them. Athens reiterates its self-perceived position as Europe's "eastern front" when complaining to the European Union about its struggle with immigration and Turkey. More pointedly, numerous statements have been made by Greek officials and former officials, suggesting that Turkey's policy is to flood Greece with illegal immigrants as a sort of "asymmetrical weapon" against its western neighbor. In 2009, the Greek ministry for foreign affairs and the interior ministry demanded Brussels to make improved combating of illegal immigration a prerequisite for Turkey to join the EU.
However, Turkish officials have claimed that they are being targeted unfairly and that they end up bearing a disproportionate share of the cost in dealing with illegal immigrants from Asia, Africa and the Middle East. For example, Turkish newspaper Today's Zamanin October 2009 cited a respective costs summary that fueled Ankara's displeasure. While "...70 euros are provided to Turkey per person to offset the cost of re-admission, hosting, processing and deporting to the country of origin," stated the newspaper, "the EU gives 1,000 euros per person to the Greek side."
Egemen Ba???, the state minister for issues related to EU accession, was also quoted as attesting that the EU was relatively unappreciative of Turkey's efforts to stem the tide of illegal immigrants crossing its lengthy borders with Iran, Iraq and Syria. "Without us being involved in the resolution of the problem," noted Ba???, "the EU can't protect its borders from illegal immigration or the narcotics trade."
In 2008, Turkey detained 65,000 illegal immigrants before they could leave the country, "marking a big spike from the previous year," the newspaper added. "Ankara maintains that the problem is a heavy financial burden on the state budget."
However, again larger geopolitics and foreign relations dictate that this remains an issue that can never be resolved. Turkey does not require visas for many fellow Muslim countries, such as Iran, Algeria and Morocco, to name a few. As Balkanalysis.com contributor in Greece Ioannis Michaletos notes, this means that immigrants who would otherwise not be able to enter the EU "can pass through Iran and then easily traverse the whole of Turkey with no visa, and enter the Balkans en masse... no one has seriously pressured Turkey to have a visa or border control with Iran, which is considered by the US to be a state sponsor of terrorism."
Michaletos, who has written about the illegal immigration industry in depth on the World Security Network website, discloses some of the routes that the mainly Muslim immigrants take to arrive in Turkey. "From North Africa, aspiring immigrants just book a flight to Istanbul, with no visa required... or, from Somalia, they travel to Khartoum airport in Sudan, gain a travel visa to Turkey, and from there move on to the Balkans." Michaletos notes that the recent emergence of a notable Somali community in Athens has raised security concerns there. "Basically, Turkey under the Erdogan goverment has opened its borders to the Islamic world," he concludes.
Indeed, with fears of terrorism at a renewed high in Europe, following the German government's successive warnings of a potential "Mumbai-style" attack, it is clear that the Islamic dimension of the greater immigration is driving European fears- even if this is rarely explicitly stated, it is certainly a factor in larger private negotiations between the EU and Turkey.
Ill-Will, Poor Policy, and Predictable Results
European Commission reports over the past decade or so indicate a vexed legacy of patchy cooperation with Turkey on the issue of immigration cooperation. From the law-enforcement point of view, the situation was acknowledged earlier by the unveiling (on November 4) of an EU border policing operation along the Greek-Turkish border on the River Evros- something that many Greeks believe has come far too late, reported the Washington Post. Turkey refuses to take back anyone smuggled out of its borders, unless that individual is a citizen of a state with which it has a land border, thus excluding the majority of African and Southeast Asian migrants shuttled through the country.
The EU mission, known as Frontex, is a multi-national deployment consisting of 175 officers. Led by a Finnish brigadier general, Ilkka Pertti Juhani Laitinen, and seconded by Spanish border security expert Gil Arias Fernandez, the mission has achieved dramatic results so far. Being a temporary mission, it will expire unless extended; however, at time of writing the number of new job openings being advertised on the official Frontex website indicates that it will probably remain operational for some time to come.
While experts from places like Britain and Norway have criticized Greece for alleged poor standards in treatment of asylum-seekers, it is clear that the Greek authorities do not have the capabilities to deal with the massive rise in illegal immigrants coming from mostly Muslim countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Now, Greek officials and the EU are being attacked by human rights groups such as Amnesty International over the mission in and of itself.
Further, as the Washington Post article notes, the issue is felt more strongly further north, in the places that are the final destinations for immigrants- and where high-profile political statements have been made in recent months over immigration and the perceived failure of Islamic integration in Europe, by key leaders such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
"The growing presence of immigrants, particularly Muslims who bring with them their own customs and religious practices, has become one of the main irritants in Western European societies," the article states. "Immigration has become a prominent and sometimes sour part of the political debate even in countries with long liberal traditions, including Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands and France."
Now, the chronic ill-will on all sides has created a sort of domino effect, with successive countries along the route accusing their neighbors of "immigrant dumping"- though the biggest resentment of all is still reserved for the northern European countries, ironically often the first to criticize Balkan countries' own treatment of illegal immigrants.
For some, the EU's perceived hypocrisy on human rights issues has been additionally soured by the message that - all visa liberalization overtures aside - Balkan natives are clearly not wanted in the EU. The Economist avers that "for the stabilisation and integration of the western Balkans, it is hard to imagine anything more important" than visa liberalization for these countries; nevertheless, voices within the EU are calling for a change of course following a rapid (and very predictable) rise in asylum-seeker requests from Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro. Belgian Minister for Migration Melkior Vatle recently spoke out "to warn these countries about the consequences of the misuse of visa liberalisation," reported Balkan Insight. These sort of desperate and dire pronouncements just serve to underscore how unprepared and confused the EU remains about its own policy-making in the region.
Macedonia particularly was criticized last winter when busloads of ethnic Albanian villagers begin turning up to seek asylum in Belgium following the abolition of visas. At the same time, this small country at the very center of the Balkans is also voicing criticism of both the EU and its southern neighbor, Greece. The government has long alleged that Greece, wishing to get rid of its own problem with migrants from Turkey, simply passes these individuals on, or at least allows them to cross the border without problem.
In 2010 alone, 94 foreign nationals have asked for political asylum in Macedonia, reported Skopje daily Utrinski Vesnik on 19 November. Most of them claimed to be Palestinians and Afghans, though natives of Somalia, Eritrea, Algeria, Sudan, Iraq and Iran were also noted.
The newspaper quoted police spokesman Ivo Kotevski, who stated that "our government has repeatedly complained to Brussels because of the practice of Greece [and its] deliberate release [of immigrants] into Macedonia, and its refusal to take them back, despite the readmission agreement we have with the [European] Union- which is not unilateral. Such a practice is even more irritating as at the same time [the issue of] Macedonian asylum-seekers stirred up a huge fuss in the Union."
In the final appraisal, it seems that EU policy regarding immigration - whether that be for legal, tourist travel from aspiring EU member states, or classic illegal migrants from further afield - has been conducted in a reactive and illogical manner, as quick-fixes driven by internal and domestic politics, compounded by a demonstrated inability to predict the results of both inaction (in the case of years of neglect in Greece), and action (in the case of predicting what would be the result of visa liberalization without adequate preparations). It increases the mistrust and apprehensions Balkan citizens have about their perception by the EU, at the same time that the bloc is trying to keep them on board towards solving their own internal and bilateral issues in order to join the club.
Assessment: Future Likelihoods
The European Union will continue to face difficulties in its immigration enforcement efforts, owing to its own internal dueling agendas and the widening gap between right- and left-wing parties in member states, despite the best efforts of joint enforcement bodies such as Europol. Any major future terrorist attacks within the EU's borders will exacerbate these latent rifts further, and bring the whole immigration issue - and with it relations with the Balkans and Turkey - under intense scrutiny.
Meanwhile, the EU's desire to integrate the Balkans into the bloc, apparently a train now running on its own inertia, will continue to force European leaders to make unpleasant demands on their Balkan counterparts regarding immigration-related issues. At the same time, the EU's own law-and-order mission in Kosovo, Eulex, has fallen considerably short of the goals envisioned during its planning stages in 2006, adding to concerns over the EU's ability to work in tandem on common security issues. And a recent comprehensive Gallup survey (.PDF) indicates that pessimism in the Balkans is increasing, rather than decreasing; ironically, in the country closest to EU accession, Croatia, popular support for joining the bloc has sunk to 28 percent (on the other end of the spectrum, 93 percent of Albanian citizens believe joining the EU will be beneficial to them).
Further, Turkey's growing influence in the Balkans, Middle East and even Africa has solidified to the point that the EU has very little political leverage anymore on immigration issues in Ankara. It is debatable that, as some Greeks and others believe, Turkey would like to use illegal Muslim immigration as a means of spreading Islam in Europe. More realistically it can be said that, as a transit country with vast borders, Turkey would not be able to eradicate human trafficking to Europe even were it to devote more assets towards doing so.
However, as the EU and Greece have made some progress in Evros, it is likely that the "front" will shift northwards. As the Washington Post noted, the Turkey-Bulgaria border will become the main entry point into the EU should Greece become perceived as "difficult" by would-be migrants. Further, Bulgaria has a significant Turkish minority and weaker state institutions than does Greece, making it likely that the support networks needed for human trafficking will be relatively stronger there. And then the problem just ends up - once again - thrust onto the borders of Macedonia and Serbia, albeit from a different direction. The EU's "progress" in Greece may simply result in moving the problem to other places where it is less capable of countering it.
The other Mary is Mary Wakefield of The Spectator, who dispenses the indispensable on common problems of the day:
Q. I have recently noticed that when walking along the pavement in the sunshine the shadow of my head seems worryingly small. I know there is a condition called 'pinhead syndrome' and I wonder if I should seek medical advice.
- A.B., London W8
A. The phenomenon you have observed is purely a trick of the thin light at this time of year. The solution is to find another pedestrian of similar build and walk abreast with them. Take a look at the shadow of their head and check it against the original. Your worries should be allayed.
But what if angels start dancing on it? The other Mary doesn't say, but I would imagine it depends how many.
Gates, Like Many Others, Has It Exactly Backwards: An Attack On Iran Will Fatally Weaken The Regime
The Washington Post notes in an editorial:
"In an interview with Gerald F. Seib of the Wall Street Journal this week, Mr. Gates elaborated on his point. Saying that the Iranian leadership had been "surprised by the impact of the sanctions" imposed this year, he argued that a military solution "will only . . . bring together a divided nation, it will make them absolutely committed to obtaining nuclear weapons and they will just go deeper and more covert. So I think the political-economic strategy is the one we have to continue to pursue."
Is this true? Is it true that severe damage inflicted on the nuclear project "will only bring together a divided nation"? On the face of it, this is the kind of thing that many will find plausible. And no doubt, even among Iranian opponents of the Islamic Republic who, nonetheless, remain Iranian nationalists and believe that Iran -- their Iran, the Iran that they assume will sooner or later come into being when the Islamic Republic is overthrown or collapses -- has a perfect right to its nuclear project.
Those who think otherwise, those who believe that no Muslim country, however "moderate" its regime, can be allowed to acquire or continue to possess weapons of mass destruction, must part company with those who, while perhaps being opponents of the current Iranian regime, do not understand why neither Iran, nor any other Muslim country, can be denied that possibility. Not all Iranians in exile think that way, but some certainly do, and their minimizing of the danger to the non-Muslim world --because they themselves are "moderates" -- may be comprehensible, but should not be shared. For if the Shah could be followed by Khomeini, and the epigones of Khomeini followed by, hypothetically, the son of the Shah, who is to say who would then follow the son of the Shah? As the example of Turkey shows, reliance on those who would constrain Islam, as Ataturk systematically did, is unwise. In Iran, as in Turkey, the constraints -- those of Ataturk, or those of the more vainglorious and less clever Shah -- prove temporary, while Islam, alas, is forever, and like Rasputin, keeps coming back.
What Robert Gates should be made to ponder is what would happen if the Islamic Republic of iran were to be successful, that is in the face of such opposition, to manage to acquire nuclear weapons? Would this make the regime, the Islamic Republic, less or more secure? Would it make it less or more likely to fall? The answer is that such an event -- Iran becoming a nuclear power -- woudl swell with pride the hearts of the primitive masses in Iran, who far outnumber the morally advanced people who are disgusted with the regime. And those people will forever be loyal to those who made the attainment of nuclear weapons possible.
But if the nuclear project were to be so damaged that it would be set back for years, with the implied promise of future attacks if the situation warranted, then what? There would be a rallying-around the flag initially, no doubt, but then what? What would happen once it became clear that the Islamic regime had spent many tens of billons of dollars, had forced its people to endure sanctions, had done all this, for an effort that finally led not to mullahs and basiji-leaders ridingi in triumph through Persepolis, but rather to smoking ruins in Natanz and Bushehr. A month or even a few months of defiance, impotent fury, and rallying-around would lead, in the end, to a further weakening -- perhaps a fatal weakening -- of the Iranian regime.
If the Islamic republic of Iran acquires nuclear weapons, it will never be dislodged.If it is prevented from acquiring them, then there is a much greater likelihood that it will crumble in the face of popular humiliation and fury at the wasted effort.
This is something Robert Gates has not thought about. No one around him has suggested it. Everyone is too busy thinking the short-term -- an attack leads to a rallying-round -- and not to what would, after that short-term, occur.
When Israel attacked the Osirak reactor, Saddam Hussein did not dare to renew his nuclear project. He gave it up, though he pretended, by his energetic denials meant to be discounted, that he was continuing -- not to frighten Israel (which knew better), nor the United States (which did not, and assumed his "denials" were meant to conceal a reality intended to be hidden from the Americans) , but rather, to frighten Iran, the only country that really worried Saddam Hussein in the last five years of his regime's existence.
When Israel rescued the passengers of the Air France plane at Entebbe on July 4, 1776, and humiliated the Last King of Scotland, Idi Amin Dada, his regime did not become more, but less aggressive, and having at long last havinb been shown up, Idi Amin Dada was from then on less able to terrorize everyone in Uganda, and his decline and fall can be measured from that Entebbe attack.
If you are unwilliing to assume the responsibilities of a great power, out of timidity, stupidity, rigidity (google "The Esdrujula Explanation" for more), then it is comforting to rely on complacent platitutes such as "a regime, if attacked by foreigners, will necessarily become stronger" without examining 1) if that is always and everywhere true and 2) what happens to the regime's popularity if it is not attacked, and attains its goals and 3) if a regime so attacked becomes "stronger" then for how long does it "become stronger" -- forever? a year? six months? one month?
The level of thought that Robert Gates, and others with him, displays on this matter should neither surprise nor disappoint.
The Pentagon is not Pinehurst or St. Andrew's. Its course over the last decade has been dismal one, and Gates' failure to grasp of what would happen in Iran, if there is no setback to the nuclear project, is par for that dismal course.