Shifting the Balance against ISIS, or Why Turkey Changed its Mind

Shifting the Balance against ISIS, or Why Turkey Changed its Mind

By Zenonas Tziarras

Source: Reuters

When the international anti-ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham) coalition was formed back in September 2014, Turkey was thought to be a pivotal participant. However, the international initiative divided Turkey’s political scene which appeared reluctant to follow in the footsteps of its traditional ally, the United States (US). Even after October 2, 2014, when the Turkish parliament voted on a motion that would authorize the government to conduct operations in Syria and Iraq as well as provide Turkish soil and military bases for allied operations, Ankara kept resisting any kind of meaningful military engagement of ISIS. Not only that, but it seemed to be turning a blind eye on foreign fighters crossing into Syria through its borders.

Turkey’s controversial stance became more evident when on October 13, 2014, it denied reports that it had granted the US access to the Incirlik air base for military attacks against ISIS. In the midst of this indecisiveness and reports of Turkish support to ISIS and other extremist groups in Syria, Turkey has over the past months became a cause of concern for the international community and brought back memories from 2003, when Ankara denied the US access to Iraq through its soil. Today, after dramatic developments in the country and the region, Ankara took the long-awaited decision to allow the US to launch military strikes against ISIS from its soil and notably from the Incirlik air base which Americans have thus far been using only for humanitarian and logistical purposes. The question that remains is, why has Turkey resisted engaging ISIS earlier and what prompted it to change its mind?

Resisting Engagement

Perhaps the most important reason why Turkey avoided a direct confrontation with ISIS was the maintenance of its domestic security and stability. Its close proximity to Syria and Iraq as well as its geographically bridging position between continents made it a natural crossing and entry point into Syria and Iraq for ISIS recruits. At the same time, its predominantly Muslim population became an important recruitment tank and propaganda target group for ISIS. Within a short period of time from its appearance in the summer of 2014, ISIS managed to establish an organized and complex recruiting network in Istanbul and other cities.

Apart from recruits that were sent to Syria and Iraq to fight with ISIS, the result was the emergence of extremist clusters within Turkey itself that could conduct terrorist attacks at any time or retaliate had Turkey acquired a more active role in the anti-ISIS coalition. The same threat becomes increasingly salient because of the growing number of refugees – currently around two million people. Refugee camps can easily become save havens for extremists that cross into Turkey as well as effective recruitment places.

Of course security concerns have not been the only causes behind Turkey’s delay. Virtually every domestic pressure group was against a military incursion into Syria, regardless of the political or military goal. Opposition political parties, business groups, and the public opinion, were all against a military escalation of the Syria and ISIS crisis; they did not want to see their country being engaged in a war. This was also one of the reasons why the Turkish incursion into Syria for the relocation of the Suleyman Shah tomb (a piece of Turkish sovereign land in Syria with historical importance) was so surgical and fast. Against this background, the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) could not put their political power at risk by getting more involved in the anti-ISIS coalition, especially with the 2015 national elections around the corner.

An equally important reason that could explain Turkey’s stance was of strategic nature. Ankara’s staunch refusal to engage ISIS coincided with the fierce fighting between ISIS and the Kurds, particularly over Syria’s Kurdish-majority town of Kobani, at the Turkish-Syrian border. Because the US was not willing to grant Ankara’s conditions for participating in the coalition (i.e. a no-fly zone over Syria, a buffer zone inside Syria and the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad), it seems that Turkey supported, via its non-involvement, an all-against-all war of attrition thereby working toward weakening the Assad regime, ISIS and the Kurds.

Change of Course

Since then, Turkey has been taking certain half-measures, such as training (moderate Islamic) opposition groups, in an effort to appease both its Western partners and domestic opposition parties that have been blaming the government for supporting ISIS. It was not until mid to late July 2015 that Turkey made a decisive move against ISIS. Not only did it allow the US to use the Incirlik air base (see map below), but it also conducted anti-ISIS airstrikes in Syria even as it raided locations of suspected ISIS, Kurdish and leftist militants. This change in policy had a number of drivers.

Incirlink Directions

The Incirlik air base will prove to be a major asset in the US air operations against ISIS as it is much closer to the targets than other bases used thus far. This allows fighter jets to spend more time on the actual operation instead on travelling to or from the target as well as quicker operational reaction based on new intelligence.

To begin with the Kurdish issue, Turkey’s unwillingness to help the Kurds of Kobani against ISIS had a backlash against the government domestically as Kurdish protests erupted throughout the country. As such, the Kurdish peace process, and by extension Kurdish electoral support to the AKP, was put in danger as it was clearly reflected in the June 7, 2015 national elections where the pro-Kurdish party HDP got 13% of the votes for the first time in Turkish history. Soon after that, Turkey’s policy took another hit when Kurds won the battle for Kobani thus strengthening their presence along the Turkish-Syrian border – what is called Syrian or Western Kurdistan. The Kurdish victory meant that from now on Turkey should take (Syrian) Kurds seriously into account, for they constitute a significant regional factor that could well threaten Turkey’s territorial integrity as well.

From this perspective, and since ISIS failed to stop the Kurds, a change in strategy was imperative if Turkey wanted to prevent the consolidation of the Syrian Kurdistan. Its greater involvement in Syria may well be followed by the establishment of a buffer zone on the Turkish-Syria border (as was its initial condition for taking action) which would work as a buffer for both ISIS and the Kurds. Though we cannot know for sure, something like that could be a part of a give-and-take between Turkey and the US. On another note, it should be mentioned that the Turkish government is more justified and legitimized to take action at this juncture since its actions were taken right after an ISIS suicide attack in Turkey that killed 32 and wounded 104 people and the first cross-border exchange of fire between the Turkish military and ISIS. In this regard, it is no longer only in theory that ISIS constitutes a domestic national security threat.

Within this framework, the Turkish government’s decision to take action after these events also creates a “rally ‘round the flag” effect by which the government and specifically the President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, gains popular support. To be sure, these developments are directly related with the domestic social, political and economic instability that emerged since early June due to the inability of the political parties to form a coalition government after the national elections. The country seems to be headed to snap elections where the AKP will need all the votes it can get to regain its parliamentary majority,

The next reason is related with the broader Middle East geopolitical environment, its balances of power and Turkey’s role within it. The recent deal between West’s P5+1 and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program is a highly significant development that will have a great impact on the international politics of the Middle East. It essentially seals the return of Iran to international affairs, which also means the strengthening of Iran and the increase of resources that it will be able to dedicate to the pursuit of its geopolitical goals. A side-effect of Iran’s empowerment would be the increase of Assad’s resilience. Moreover, Tehran has already claimed a central, if downplayed, role in the fight against ISIS. At the same time, Iran’s rival but West’s ally, Saudi Arabia, is becoming more assertive while, for the time being, its recent attempt to militarily counter the coup by the Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen seems to be successful.

In this light, Turkey’s change of course is also a response to the shifting balances of power in the region and to fears that it will lose its role and importance as a western ally and a pivotal state in the Middle East.

Epilogue – A New Paradigm?

Most of the drivers behind Turkey’s policy point to a rather defensive stance. Yet, it should be remembered that Turkey has been looking for a way to overthrow Assad since late 2011. The current conjuncture feels like the perfect storm of events that could push Turkey toward that revisionist and thus offensive goal. At the same time, it creates the necessary conditions on the domestic and international level for this policy change to be tolerated, if not accepted. Perhaps most importantly, it allows Turkey to mend fences with the US even as it takes advantage of its role and operations to accomplish its own goals. Because of the nature of this complex dynamic a new Turkey-US and Turkey-Iran friction in the near future is very likely, especially if Turkey’s efforts to overthrow Assad bear fruits.

This article was published in collaboration with The Europe Levant Observatory, Diplomatic Academy – University of Nicosia.

You can follow Zenonas on Twitter @ZenonasTziarras

Is the BRICS Bank an Alternative for Greece?

Is the BRICS Bank an Alternative for Greece?

By Konstantinos Myrodias and Panos Chatzinikolaou

Over the past few weeks speculations have been circulating over Greece’s potential accession to the New Development Bank established by the BRICS-Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Russia’s invitation to Greece to become a member of the BRICS bank comes in a delicate point for the latter, since its new leftist SYRIZA-led government is attempting to strike a deal with its European counterparts in order to avoid a potential bankruptcy that would have tremendous impact on the country and the Eurozone as a whole. Is Russia’s invitation to Greece just a mere coincidence? Have the BRICS decided to save Greece from collapsing, enhancing Eurozone’s sustainability? At a time like this, where West- Russia relations bring back Cold War memories, such an explanation seems to be a truly superficial one.

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Turkey and Saudis in Syria: Aligned Interests, Clashing Revisionisms

Turkey and Saudis in Syria: Aligned Interests, Clashing Revisionisms

by Zenonas Tziarras

In early May, 2015 it became known that Saudi Arabia and Turkey are supporting extremist Islamist groups in Syria against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. That Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, among others, have – mostly indirectly – been supporting Islamist groups is not news as similar reports have been emerging from time to time since 2011, if not earlier. But this policy with regard to the Syrian conflict became increasingly overt amidst growing instability and lack of Western commitment to Assad’s overthrow. According to The Independent and other media, Turkish and Saudi support focuses on the overarching jihadist group Jaish al-Fatah which includes al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra – a rival to both Assad and the self-styled “Islamic State,” also known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham).

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Rolling-in ‘Technological Aid’ to Roll-out Remote Control: Post-earthquake Haiti and the West

Rolling-in ‘Technological Aid’ to Roll-out Remote Control: Post-earthquake Haiti and the West

by Ioana Cerasella Chis

Haiti and the Development-industrial complex

In a world organised and shaped by a colonial matrix of power (Mignolo 2007:455), events such as the Haitian Earthquake in 2010 underscore the processes at work within this matrix. One of the tools used to maintain developing countries’ dependency upon the West is through the development-industrial complex; its ‘developmentalist’ ideology has ‘taken several forms – evolutionism, modernisation theory, development thinking – which correlate with different epochs of western hegemony’ (Pieterse, cited by Braidotti et. al. 1994:20). Within the development-industrial complex and development studies’ framework, the reluctance of mainstream scholars, policy-makers and practitioners to admit the socially situated and political dimension of knowledge and ‘development’ blocks the growth of knowledge and undermines its social value (Harding 2004:2). Their unstated positionality and self-proclaimed ‘impartiality’ is charged with violent epistemic bias and domination which are hidden from sight, justifying their enforced universalistic claims and top-down policies (Young 1990:97). Thus, an analysis within the framework of development would only reproduce the knowledge marked by biased, discriminatory epistemologies and systems. Research, aid, technology and representation are always partial and political – they do not exist in a socio-political vacuum and never have ‘neutral’ effects.

For the purpose of this paper, it will be argued that both the human body and the body politic (i.e. the nation-state) are self-constituted, but also externally inscribed and shaped by (hetero)sexist, gendered, racialised, colonial, anthropo-narcissistic and classed signifiers[1]. I regard bell hooks’ notion of ‘imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy’ (2004) most adequate to describe the interconnectedness between the aforementioned markers and their interplay. Attempts to isolate these constructions and forms of domination risk being apologetic for the status quo[2]. The assemblage of discourses, policies, lines of reasoning, attitudes, (re)presentations and economic investments prevailing the development industry have contributed to the furthering of these hierarchies. Within this system of apparent binary oppositions, the ‘developing’ Haiti stands in for the helpless, dependent, agency-less, feminine victim, whereas the ‘developed’ West is the ‘masculine’, colonial force[3].

(Hetero)sexist Gendering of Haiti

Within the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, Haiti is maintained as ‘the poorest country in the Western hemisphere’ (Central Intelligence Agency 2014), although shortly after the 1804 independence, the Haitian peasantry ‘had the highest standard of living in the Americas after the United States’ (Bellegarde-Smith 2010:139). Haitian revolutionaries asserted their autonomy, abolished slavery and formed an independent country in 1804, after 13 years of revolution. Instead of receiving reparations from the colonisers post-independence, between 1825 and 1947 Haiti was forced to pay annual ‘compensations’ of 150 million francs to France for the ‘loss’ of colonisers’ wealth and ‘ownership’ of enslaved individuals, in addition to reducing the import and export taxes by half (Farmer 2004). By 1900, the payments amounted to 80% of the national income (Gillam 2010), and between 1915-34 Haiti was occupied by the US military forces (Farmer 2004). Financial control was maintained throughout decades by corrupt governments backed by the West. Aristide, the first democratically elected president of Haiti, demanded reparations from France of $21 billion for the period of slavery, but was opposed and destabilised by Western forces, and forced to flee the country in 2004 (Farmer 2004; Pina 2010).

The earthquake in 2010 is emblematic for making visible the legacy of colonialism and the continued antagonistic relationship between Haiti and the West. It highlights the role played by the development-industrial complex in, on the one hand, ‘helping’ Haitians, but ultimately, it (1) legitimises global power relations (Murithi 2009:4), (2) sexualises and effeminises Haitian people, (3) and penetrates the geopolitical space of Haiti with technology with an underlying ideology of anthropocentrism and phallocentrism. On the 12th of January 2010 an earthquake of 7.0M magnitude struck Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince and killed more than 230,000 individuals, injuring over 300,000 and displacing over 1.3 million. The city’s infrastructure, state buildings and personnel had been severely affected, 80% of the justice sector’s buildings being badly damaged (2010:3); 25% of government staff members perished (Gender Action 2010:1-3). Within hours, international organisations mobilised their material forces and shifted their attention to Haiti – a helpless, weak nation in need of being ‘rescued’ by the West – so the story went.

However, the earthquake had been ahistoricised and rendered ‘apolitical’[4] by international actors, policymakers and the Western media. They obscured the way in which the West had damaged Haiti’s material stability and memory through colonialism and imperialism (McAlister 2012:30). For instance, Calhoun (2010) ignorantly pathologises the country’s poverty and blames Haitians for the loss of lives by only looking at the surface of the problems, and Sassen (2010) discusses Haiti’s debt without acknowledging its origins and the West’s under-developing of Haiti. Within the development framework of analysis, the earthquake pushed Haiti ‘backwards’, whilst at the same time it provided opportunities (Fan 2013) for a ‘fast forward’ neoliberal move, strengthening neo-colonial powers and structures over what they saw as an effeminised, disempowered Haiti.

Policy Analysis[5]

Filtered through white, Western eyes, post-earthquake reports stressed the opportunity for ‘reconstruction’, the main humanitarian slogan being ‘building back better’ (Sontag 2012). However, technology (Landström 2007:9) and disasters are ‘anything but neutral’ as they are unevenly distributed and affect social relationships (Gender Action 2010:1). The mythical image of ‘disaster’ surrounding Haiti can be traced back to the 18th Century, when the colonisers refused to see the Haitian Revolution as a revolution, calling it a ‘horror’ (Fischer 2004:ix); slave insurrections were compared to ‘figurative earthshaking, seismological upheavails as literal earthshaking’ (Jenson 2010:104). Metaphors used by aid organisations such as ‘shifting ground or standing still?’ (Fan 2013:19) sensationalised the event, and created a context within which disaster could be used to further ‘shock doctrines’ and neo-colonial policies (Klein 2010). This dystopian, apolitical, ahistorical representation of ‘disaster’ was undertaken by Western modernisers/donors/corporations to advance remote imperial control through technologisation, claiming that a ‘digitally empowered’ population would create an ‘information revolution’ (Meier 2011:1239). I here present four ways in which Western technologies (of power) were deployed:

  1. ‘crisis mapping’[6] of areas (Meier 2011) and population tracking via texts and internet check-ins (Bengtsson et. al. 2011); 80,000 text messages were translated from Creole to English for assistance and 3,000 were directly used for response to requests for aid (Humanitarian Information Unit 2010:4);
  2. ‘aid’ to maintain Haiti’s dependency, and furthering Western economic growth (Roberts 2014);
  3. telethons and their (re)presentation of the Haitian population and the earthquake (McAlister 2012);
  4. broadcasting distorted information regarding the causes and effects of the earthquake as well as the historical involvement of the West in Haiti (Scott 2014). 

Technological Governmentality: Aid Bureaucracy and Digital Mapping

Technology has been incorporated in strategies of creating and reproducing subject identity and power relations, shaping social life (Wacjman 2000:451-4) and providing new ways for governing knowledge and generating economic surplus. Thus, the rolling-in of aid and technological innovations (online ‘crisis mapping’ of areas affected by the earthquake with the use of mobile phones), constructed a racialised and heterosexist identity (Peterson 1999) of a passive, dependent, not-yet-modernised Haiti. Using mobile devices, users can track themselves and self-govern, furthering the West’s appropriation of information. The data generated through these technologies can be capitalised, monitored, mapped, controlled remotely and used to engage the Western consumer/’stakeholder’ in consumption and to create work opportunities in the industry. Digital humanitarian work was outsourced to the West, big data giving ‘the sort of 24/7 workforce’ (Jasmine, cited by Burns 2014a). Only 1% of the USAID[7] development contracts and grants of $1.5 billion was directed to Haitian organisations (Fauset 2015), and the largest contracts were signed by unaccountable for-profit firms (Johnston 2012; Roberts 2014:3). The consequence of ‘selling access to telecommunications-as-empowerment’ (Spivak 2002:77) is the ‘capitalist penetration by global computing and telecommunications industries’ (Kapoor 2004:634).

Aid organisations form what McAlister calls ‘humanitarian adhocracy’[8] (2013:17), presenting themselves as ‘experts’ and technocrats who engage in ‘aid colonisation’[9] (Murithi 2009:3) and treat Haitians as objects, not subjects of policy. Mobile phones are used as technical solutionism to much wider structural problems to ‘compensate for inadequate infrastructures’ (The Economist 2009); internet platforms and ‘open source’ software applications are presented as the new commons of knowledge. Indeed, ‘there is no commons without a community’ (Mies 2014:i106) – the internet and digital humanitarianism in effect perpetuate enclosures and new divisions (Burns 2014b:51), hiding the exploitation of data and manipulation of algorithms by private owners. For the production of technological devices, minerals are extracted and E-garbage is produced, affecting the environment and the labourers (Mies 2014:i114). An aid worker rightly asks: ‘but who’s this for? who’s consuming it?’ (cited by Burns 2014a).

Cosmeticised Historical Amnesia and the Reaffirmation of Western Hegemony through Pity

Sensationalism defines the Western reporting of the earthquake. In short, ‘the suffering body is figured not as a site of self-determination’ (McAlister 2012:30) but as a sign of passivity, dependence, victimhood, hopelessness, agency-less static being. Through Western media (re)presentation, Haitians were fetishised, pitied, gazed at, commodified, and used as reminders to the West of Haiti’s ‘backwardness’ on the one hand, and the West’s power to ‘look after’ the victimised country (McAlister 2012:29) in a patronising, racist and patriarchal manner[10]. This practice was framed within an economy of empathy[11], nurtured and coupled with consumerism (Pedwell 2014:x). For instance, the economist Rifkin stated that ‘the entire human race was in an empathic embrace coming to the aid of Haiti’ (2010), although in essence, the earthquake re-affirmed a racialised pity towards black sufferers (Balaji 2011), deliberately distorting the responsibility of the West to pay reparations for colonialism and neo-colonialism[12].

The ‘Hope for Haiti Now’ telethon on 22nd January ‘was the most widely broadcast telethon in history’ (McAlister 2012:23). The industry rested on a simulation and consumption of images, and on performances of victimhood as conditions for aid (Horton 2012:303); these images are what Haraway would call ‘copies without originals’ (1991). The spectacle was orchestrated as follows: impoverished, injured and hyper-aestheticised bodies were asking for help, alongside celebrities who were performing and romanticising the situation, muting the sufferers and turning them into objects of compassion (McAlister 2012:34). Donations became the currency in which the individualised self was involved in practices of commodification and bad faith, boosting their self-esteem through consumption and erasing the urgency of responsibility for the suffering of the ‘othered’ Haitians. The telethon, prioritising the maximisation of financial gains, encouraged rationalisation and the calculus of viewing injury and pain alongside visual beauty and auditory pleasure’ (McAlister 2012:31).

The call for aiding the sufferers in Haiti was based on a problematic view of distributive social justice which individualistically and atomistically moralises the transfer of material goods and investments as an end in itself, without recognising the normative necessity of eliminating domination and oppression (Young 1990:15). The remoteness granted by technology creates a new way in which the individual ‘philantropist’ can ‘give back’ to the world[13].

Within such an architecture of power, Haiti stands in for the signifiers ‘femininity’, ‘nature’, ‘victim’, ‘irrationality’ and ‘passivity’, a place and population to be explored, domesticated and governed: ‘Haiti is seen to have failed at self-governance and so requires significant international influence and leadership’ (O’Connor, Brisson-Boivin and Ilcan 2014:326). The ‘masculine’ West acts with an androcentric, white, violent force, whilst also being the ‘saviour’ and ‘moderniser’ of Haiti. Power-relations within the system of imperialist white supremacist patriarchy involve the mobilisation of modernising technologies[14] and techno-utopian[15] policies marketed as the solution for unilinear development and progress (Morozov 2013; Scott 2014). Technology is used by ‘donors’ for reconstruction in a context in which neoliberalism prevails through (1) the imposition of structural adjustment policies, (2) the reproduction of the legacy of imperialism through epistemic violence, (3) the international division of labour, (4) and the exploitation of the environment for profit and information gathering (Spivak 1990:14). All these processes underscore the link between technology, aid, development and their Western, patriarchal, anthropo-narcissistic and heterosexist dimensions and ideologies.

Tackling the imbalance of power imperatively requires struggling for material and epistemic de-colonisation: ‘de-linking from the most fundamental belief of modernity’ and its abstract universals (Mignolo 2007:500), and for dismantling patriarchy. As Harding argues, development is translated into ‘dedevelopment’, whereas ‘progress for humanity’ is translated into regress for women (1998:149) and, I add, for the feminised objects of focus. Coupled with governmentality and the neoliberal system of capital accumulation, Haiti has successfully been (re)positioned within the colonial nexus of power whose development-industrial complex represents the continuation of the European expansion that began in 1492 (Harding 1998:154; Dussel 2000:474).

It is partly the case that for development to ‘work’, it is not only the coloniser who needs to see the ‘positive’ aspect of development, but also the colonised (Mies 1993:151). However, resistance and calls for reparations instead of aid have not ceased in Haiti. Self-sufficiency, anti-foreign-aid, anti-dependency resistance and critique have continued after the earthquake (McAlister 2013:11), as well as actions of challenging negative representations in the media. As a grassroots Haitian woman leader stated,

We are working and we have prestige and capacity. It’s not a question of [receiving] money; it’s a question of conviction and the need to be active (cited by Horton 2012:305). 

Notes

[1] The ‘natural body’ vs ‘body politic’ distinction can be seen also in medieval political theology: the king was supposed to have two bodies: (1) the biological body and (2) the political authority to represent ‘his’ people (Kantorowicz 1957:8-11).

[2] The white supremacist feminist framework sees gendered oppression reflected solely through sexism and domination performed by the masculine body over the feminine body, without acknowledging imperialism, racism and classism as gendered oppression.

[3] (Hetero)gender binaries create false and hierarchical dichotomies which freeze ‘femininity’ as the ‘sex object’ without taking the ‘subject function except in terms of those definitions or as “imitators” of men’ (Spivak 1981:181).

[4] However, ‘neutral’ objectivism is always biased and cannot escape politics.

[5] ‘Policy’ is here used loosely, as an element of the complexity and assemblage of discourses, representations and practices mobilised around the earthquake’s impact on Haiti in 2010.

[6] Real-time geo-referenced data (Meier 2011:1241)

[7] The United States Agency for International Development

[8] ‘humanitarian aid based on guesswork, failed coordination, and “satisficing”’ (McAlister 2013:17).

[9] Aid colonisation is ‘the premeditated utilisation of aid to manipulate, control and coerce the recipient into fulfilling the donor agenda’ (Murithi 2009:3).

[10] George Clooney, appealing to his audience: ‘it’s a big world out there and we all have a lot of responsibility to look out for people who can’t look after themselves’ (cited by McAlister 2012:29).

[11] In a World Economic Forum Report it was claimed that even companies are able to be driven by compassion, voluntary self-regulation and a desire for ‘data philanthropy’ (2012:7).

[12] Fanon put it perfectly: ‘So when we hear the head of a European state declare with his hand on his heart that he must come to the help of the poor under-developed peoples, we do not tremble with gratitude. Quite the contrary; we say to ourselves: “It’s a just reparation which will be paid to us”’ (Fanon 1965:81).

[13] Mogul Bill Gates declared that ‘technology means that everyone can be a philanthropist’ (2014).

[14] Here technology is to be understood as aid, socio-economic policies and the media.

[15] Morozov adequately stated that ‘techno-humanitarianism is much more techno than humanitarian’ (2012).

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Elections in Northern Cyprus: The Akinci-Eroglu Showdown

Elections in Northern Cyprus: The Akinci-Eroglu Showdown

Source: financialmirror.com

By Yiannis Charalambous*

For those who follow developments in northern Cyprus, the results of the first round of the unrecognized ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ elections confirmed what had more or less been predicted. Notably, that these elections are unpredictable and will definitely be decided in a two-round election.

19th of April saw incumbent Dervis Eroglu supported by the UBP and DP-UG coalition garnering 28.18%. He was followed by Mustafa Akinci, who was supported by the TDP and BKP and managed to receive 26.92%. CTP-BG candidate, Sibel Siber received 22.54% while former negotiator in the Cyprus peace process and independent candidate, Kudret Ozersay, garnered an astonishing 21.23%. Continue reading

Can Syriza be a Beacon for Left Parties in Europe?

Can Syriza be a Beacon for Left Parties in Europe?

By Jason Iliou

Greece turned a major page in its political history electing the first radical left party in parliament after years of center and right-wing governments. Continue reading

The Effects of War-Related Mental Health Issues on Post-Conflict Reconciliation and Transitional Justice

The Effects of War-Related Mental Health Issues on Post-Conflict Reconciliation and Transitional Justice

by Alexander Miller Tate

Introduction 

A common theme in contemporary post-conflict security and development literature is the instability of states that have recently experienced a cessation of armed conflict. As of 2008, slightly less than half of all civil wars were a result of the breakdown of post-conflict peace [1]. This has provoked a burgeoning literature investigating how a recently post-conflict state can avoid relapse. Common solutions involve processes of reconciliation between oppositional groups, as well as the securing of transitional justice for those wronged, yet this literature and that surrounding the prevalence of mental health issues in post-conflict environments have rarely crossed over.

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The ICC Factor in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The ICC Factor in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

By Marianna Karakoulaki

Remaining true to his statements, the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied and gained membership at the International Criminal Court (ICC) making Palestine the 123rd signatory of the Rome Treaty. The ICC bid came after a predefined bid for statehood at the UN Security Council in early December which was vetoed by the US. This move is seen as a more direct attempt to re-ignite the Palestinian issue which reached stalemate since the US-led peace talks collapsed in 2014. In return to the ICC bid, Israel withheld the transfer of Palestinian tax money to the Palestinian Authority as a punitive measure.

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Contesting Human Rights: The Legal, The Political, and the Structural

Contesting Human Rights: The Legal, The Political, and the Structural

by Ioana Cerasella Chis

The Effectiveness of Human Rights Norms in Changing State Behaviour

With the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, every person has, as stipulated in the document, a set of universal, inalienable rights. Since then, the human rights discourse (and, since 1994, ‘human security’), together with the concept of ‘democracy’ have been invoked much more widely by various actors, becoming what Laclau calls ‘empty signifiers’ (1995:43). For instance, the median use of the term ‘human rights’ by six of the world’s leading media outlets ‘rose 95% from 1986 to 2000’ (Hafner-Burton and Ron 2007:379). Does it mean that human rights have been increasingly respected, or on the contrary, violated more?

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The Cyprus Problem: Evaluating the Momentum of 2014

The Cyprus Problem: Evaluating the Momentum of 2014

by Yiannis Charalambous

In 2014, a combination of external as well as domestic developments gave rise to cautious optimism regarding the solution of the Cyprus Problem.

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