Why A Referendum in Crimea?

Why A Referendum in Crimea?

By Irina Savchenko

NB: This is an updated version of the article posted earlier on March 13th, 2014

referendum is to take place in Crimea on the 16th of March, 2014, about whether or not the Crimean peninsula will join Russia. This was announced a mere ten days before the referendum date. The timing is of the essence obviously; the question is, why now? Why suddenly Ukraine became a physical play-ground between the West and Russia? Is it due to the long tensions building up between the USA and Russia or due to the recent overthrow of Mr. Yanukovich? These and many other questions need to be answered, as Ukrainian future is being shaped.

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Senate Strikes A Blow at the Heart of the US Criminal Justice System

Senate Strikes A Blow at the Heart of the US Criminal Justice System

by Ross Kleinstuber

It is rare that the US Congress can do anything that gets me riled up anymore.  I have come to expect so little from the institution, but today, the US Senate, by denying Debo Adegbile’s appointment to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, struck a blow at the heart of the American criminal justice system.

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Power Struggle over Ukraine: Systemic Observations

Power Struggle over Ukraine: Systemic Observations

By Zenonas Tziarras

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The Syrian civil war and now Ukraine. These are only two examples of crises over which the United States and Russia have bumped heads recently. Some might be tempted to call this a “new Cold War,” but it’s really not. Yes, the geopolitical competition and power struggle might be obvious and similar. And even the race for maximizing the spheres of influence. But the ideological context is different and therefore there is no clash of politico-economic systems, not to mention that calling the current international system “bipolar” is simplistic, to say the least. What we have now is a primarily intra-systemic, capitalist, geo-economic competition fueled and exacerbated by identity politics, history and national security considerations. Continue reading

Omar Abdullah on BBC Hard Talk

Omar Abdullah on BBC Hard Talk

by Haifa Peerzada

The BBC Hard talk with Omar Abdullah was quite intriguing, interesting and definitely elicits some reflection. In the first instance, what caught my attention was that the host, Stephen Sackur attributed the talk to the Prospects for Peace in Kashmir after introducing Mr. Omar Abdullah, the Chief Minister of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. So the impression that it gave me in the first place was that there would be an objective analysis of this long standing dispute with its chief minister. I was in fact hoping for it to be one of the milestone talks by Omar Abdullah that would create ripples in India and the world. Another thing that made it interesting was the location of the talk. This talk was held in front of an audience at Delhi. Though everyone told me not to expect much of objectivity from a politician speaking in New Delhi about “Kashmir”, yet I thought I must still watch it and without holding any pre-conceived notions I watched it. Following are some of my observations about the talk, which I thought I could share with everyone.

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The Hegemony of Money

The Hegemony of Money

By Zenonas Tziarras

A few days ago, Jon Steward hosted Mrs. Nancy Pelosi, a United States Congresswoman from the Democratic Party, to discuss with her American politics under the Obama administration. Her admissions and comments were very interesting as well as revealing about the nature not only of American economy and politics but also of the international political and economic system.

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Framing Environmental Degradation as a Security Issue: A Theoretical Inquiry

Framing Environmental Degradation as a Security Issue: A Theoretical Inquiry

By Ioana Cerasella Chis

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For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.

They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game,

but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.

- Audre Lorde

The sentiment expressed by Lorde[1] (made in the context of fighting different forms of oppression) is a sentiment that is shared by the argument developed in this paper. Whilst it is acknowledged that there is a lot of debate within security studies, as to its conceptualization of events, it is argued here that the whole paradigm of securitization is fundamentally misconceived. This argument is made in relation to securitization debates and practices concerning environmental degradation.

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Corruption, Stigmatization, and Innocence

Corruption, Stigmatization, and Innocence

by Begüm Burak

Turkey has been undergoing a serious transformation process identified with democratization policies under the rule of Justice and Development Party (JDP). However, certain turbulent affairs like that of Gezi protests have also been witnessed to have undermined democratization to an important degree. The hegemony of the JDP rule has been challenged in Gezi protests among different circles in the Turkish society. During the Gezi affair, liberals, environmentalists, hard-core Kemalists, and ultra-nationalists –a hybrid coalition—acted together to oppose the JDP rule.

After a few months, another issue has come to the fore. This time the JDP government has begun to lose hegemony among some other segments of society. The plan to shut down prep schools without fixing the problems of state schooling caused a large number of people’s worries and the attempt to shut down prep schools was treated as a blow to free enterprise and a blow to equality of opportunities in terms of education. Because in Turkey, centralized exams are taken in order to get university education, and despite the fact that state schools present quite different education levels, all students have to take the same exam to study in universities.

Education has been one of the critical areas through which the Gülen movement (Hizmet-Service movement) has been engaged in its dialogue-based activities. In Turkey, prep schools are important sites wherein the followers of the Hizmet Movement work as teachers. Thus, the government’s plan to shut down prep schools was naturally disliked by the Hizmet movement. That is why the newspapers close to the Hizmet Movement have continued to report and make news regarding education problems and prep school issue in Turkey. Also, on twitter, this issue has been made TT for several days.

Indeed, the Hizmet Movement is a non-state and non-governmental movement which has tried to keep away from daily political debates. However, the recent developments and corruption crisis occurred in Turkey has shadowed its apolitical character. Additionally, the political elites after the outbreak of the corruption scandal has stigmatized it as a “parallel state” structure hand in hand with the external forces to undermine the stability of the country. It should be stated that, the accusations made against Hizmet have also been produced during the February 28 Process (1997) when a post-modern military intervention took place in Turkey. However, this time the same scenario is drawn by different actors again labeling Hizmet as a crime unit.

Today, many think that the government is trying to cover up the corruption scandal by putting the blame on imagined enemies like interest lobby or crime units. Apparently, the executive branch is putting pressure upon the judiciary in addition to exercising a power over police force by removing hundreds of them. Unfortunately, the Hizmet Movement as one of the leading civilian movements contributing to intercultural dialogue and peace in the world has been labeled as one of the players to destabilize Turkey by the pro-government press too. This thesis was totally rejected by the Association of Journalists and Writers, an NGO affiliated with the Hizmet Movement. Here is what they declared the day before.

In short, Turkey has been going through hard days. I hope the New Year will bring justice for all and a strong democracy.

Turkey’s Imbalances and Identity Crisis

Turkey’s Imbalances and Identity Crisis

By Zenonas Tziarras

It was June, 2013. I arrived in Ankara, Turkey, right on time to witness the development of the protests that began at Istanbul’s Gezi Park and spread throughout the country’s urban centers, as well as to experience and participate in the social and political discussion that was taking place at that time. The purpose of my visit included the participation in a conference on Turkish foreign policy and some field research. That gave me the opportunity to speak and exchange views with students of International Relations, academics, experts, and diplomats. Continue reading

LOC Ceasefire Violations: A Conundrum of Perception and Reality

LOC Ceasefire Violations: A Conundrum of Perception and Reality

by Haifa Peerzada

Reality now is that Line of Control (LOC) ceasefire violations have continued unabated since the beginning of 2013 and the negativity that resonates from it is that both India and Pakistan blame each other for ceasefire violations underscored by distrust, lack of empathy for each other, and threat and fear of the conflict escalating to an all-out conventional war or even nuclear war. All this finds expression in the negative attitudes and behaviors of India and Pakistan towards each other, which has over a period of time culminated into a negative perception which does not allow de-escalation of the conflict between the two. Media plays its role in forming these perceptions. Perceptions may be right or wrong, but if negatively perceived may prove counter-productive in a conflict situation which culminates into the structural and institutional fallacies of the system as well.  

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Reorganization of the State of Jammu and Kashmir

Reorganization of the State of Jammu and Kashmir

by Haifa Peerzada

The history of Reorganization of the Indian states clearly shows that the Reorganization of the state of Jammu and Kashmir is difficult due to the internal and external exigencies in J&K, which makes it a special case, prevents its reorganization, and history – both recent and past bear testimony to that. Nevertheless its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution of India for its integration into the Indian Union has made things even more complicated. While there is difference in perceptions as far as special status of J&K is concerned, there is national consensus for its fullest integration into the Indian Union.

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