Friday, October 20, 2017 COMMENTS

Skip Navigation Links
 
link
 
link
SUPPLEMENT

Visitor Login










Al-Araqeeb: Palestinian village refuses to surrender 116 time

Dr Ramzy Baroud

On August 1, the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb was destroyed for the 116th time. As soon as Israeli bulldozers finished their ugly deed and soldiers began evacuating the premises, the village resident immediately began rebuilding their homes.
22 families, or about 101 residents, are estimated to live here. By now, they are all familiar with the painful routine, considering the first round of destruction took place in July 2010.
It means that the village has been destroyed nearly 17 times per year, since then. And every single time, it was rebuilt, only to be destroyed again.

Israel’s apartheid townships
If the repeated destruction of the village is an indication of Israel’s stubborn insistence to uproot Palestine’s Bedouins, the rebuilding is indicative of the tenacity of the Bedouin community in Palestine.
But Al-Araqeeb is only symbolic of that historic fight.
It would be no exaggeration to state that there is a war waged by Israel against Palestinian Bedouins. The aim is to destroy their culture and to force them into townships similar to those of Apartheid South Africa.
The geographic space of that war extends from the Negev desert to the Southern Hebron Hills to Jerusalem.
The epicenter of the ongoing fight is the village of Al-Araqeeb. Not only has Israel destroyed Al-Araqeeb numerous times in violation of international law, it actually delivers a bill to the homeless residents expecting them to cover the cost of the very ruins wrought by the Israeli state.
According to latest estimates, the families that live in makeshift huts and rely on rudimentary means to survive, are expected to pay up a bill of 2 million shekels, around $600,000.
Israel dubs Al-Araqeeb, along with 35 villages in the Negev, as ‘unrecognized’ by the Israeli government’s master plan, thus they must be erased, and their population driven into townships made for the Bedouins.
However, these villages are older than Israel itself, and any such ‘master plan’ could have easily considered this existing reality.  However, what Israeli truly labors to achieve is to replace the Bedouins with its own Jewish population, as it has tirelessly done for seven decades.
Palestinian Bedouins are known for their tenacity. They fully fathom the history and plight of their ancestors, where generation after generation were ethnically cleansed and exiled to refugee camps outside Palestine, or forcibly removed to other areas. Today’s Bedouin communities refuse to be subjected to that same fate again.

Israel’s ethnic cleansing
The Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse the Bedouins of the Negev is no different from the plan to colonize the West Bank, Judaize the Galilee and Palestinian East Jerusalem. All such efforts always culminate in the same routine – of removing the Arabs and replacing them with Israeli Jews.
 

Israeli bulldozers demolish a house in Jerusalem.

In 1965, Israel passed the Planning and Building Law which recognized some Palestinian Arab villages in the Galilee and southern Negev, but excluded others. Nearly 100,000 Bedouin were forcibly removed to ‘Planned Townships’ to endure economic neglect and poverty. Many refused to be moved and, since then, have fought a protracted war to survive and maintain a semblance of their culture and way of life.
Currently, according to the Institute of Palestine Studies (IPS), roughly 130,000 individuals live in the so-called unrecognized villages “under the constant threat of wholesale demolition.”
The anomaly is that these Bedouin communities prove the fallacy of the Israeli claim that it was Jewish settlers – not Palestinians – that ‘made the desert bloom.’
A simple look at statistics demolishes that deceptive claim entirely.
As of 1935 – that is 13 years prior to the existence of Israel –
Bedouins “cultivated 2,109,234 dunums of land where they grew most of Palestine’s barley and much of the country’s wheat,” stated IPS.
Moreover, Jewish settlers did not arrive in the Negev till 1940 and, by 1946, the total Jewish population there did not amount to more than 475.
“The amount of land cultivated by the Bedouins in the Negev prior to 1948 came to three times that cultivated by the entire Jewish community in all of Palestine even after sixty years of ‘pioneering’ Zionist settlement,” IPS concluded.
To reverse this indisputable historical reality, Israel has led a decided campaign aimed at vanquishing the Bedouins by severing their relationship to their land. Although this has been done with a great degree of success, the struggle is not yet over.

The destructive Prawer II
The same struggle is duplicated elsewhere, especially in so-called ‘Area C’ encompassing 60 percent of the West Bank. Palestinian Bedouin villages there are also enduring a terrible fight, as many of their villages have been singled out for destruction.
Most of West Bank Bedouins live in the central West Bank region, in an area known as the South Hebron Hills. Last month, it was reported that the Israeli Supreme Court is now “deciding the fate” of the Bedouin village of Dkeika. Other villages in the area have either been demolished, received demolition orders or are waiting for their fate to be determined by the Israel court.
It is hardly a question of a single village or two. The UN reported that 46 villages in central West Bank are “at risk of forcible transfer” by the Israeli government.
To preclude any legal wrangling, the Israeli government has been actively pursuing wholesale, irreversible actions to seal the fate of Bedouins once and for all.
In 2013, Israel announced the “Prawer Plan”, the goal of which was the destruction of all unrecognized villages in the Negev. However, massive mobilization involving the Bedouins and Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories defeated the plan, which was officially rescinded in December of the same year.
But, now, it is being revived under the name ‘Prawer II.’ A draft of the plan, which was leaked to local media, was introduced by Israel’s Agricultural Minister, Uri Ariel. It, too, aims to “deny Bedouin citizens land ownership rights and violate their constitutional protections,” reported Patrick Strickland.
The war on the Bedouin is, of course, part of the larger war on all Palestinians, whether in Israel or under military occupation. While the latter are denied the most basic freedoms, the former are governed by at least 50 discriminatory law, according to the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights.

Colonial expansion
Many of these laws are aimed at depriving Palestinians of the right to own land or to claim even the very land upon which their homes and villages existed for tens and hundreds of years.
It should come as no shock, then, to learn that, while Palestinian citizens of Israel are estimated at 20 percent of the population, they live on merely 3 percent of the land, and many of them face the constant danger of being evicted and relocated elsewhere.
The story of Al-Araqeeb is witness to the never-ending Israeli desire for colonial expansion at the expense of the indigenous population of Palestine, but also of the courage and refusal to give in to fear and despair as demonstrated by the 22 families of this brave village.
In some way, Al-Araqeeb represents the story of all of Palestine and its people.
The struggle of Al-Araqeeb should evoke outrage at Israel’s constant violation of human rights and its refusal to recognize the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, but it should also induce hope that 70 years of colonial expansion cannot defeat or even weaken the will of a village, of a nation.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California. Visit his website: www.ramzybaroud.net.

Comment

Dr Ramzy Baroud

On August 1, the Palestinian Bedouin village of Al-Araqeeb was destroyed for the 116th time. As soon as Israeli bulldozers finished their ugly deed and soldiers began evacuating the premises, the village resident immediately began rebuilding their homes.
22 families, or about 101 residents, are estimated to live here. By now, they are all familiar with the painful routine, considering the first round of destruction took place in July 2010.
It means that the village has been destroyed nearly 17 times per year, since then. And every single time, it was rebuilt, only to be destroyed again.

Israel’s apartheid townships
If the repeated destruction of the village is an indication of Israel’s stubborn insistence to uproot Palestine’s Bedouins, the rebuilding is indicative of the tenacity of the Bedouin community in Palestine.
But Al-Araqeeb is only symbolic of that historic fight.
It would be no exaggeration to state that there is a war waged by Israel against Palestinian Bedouins. The aim is to destroy their culture and to force them into townships similar to those of Apartheid South Africa.
The geographic space of that war extends from the Negev desert to the Southern Hebron Hills to Jerusalem.
The epicenter of the ongoing fight is the village of Al-Araqeeb. Not only has Israel destroyed Al-Araqeeb numerous times in violation of international law, it actually delivers a bill to the homeless residents expecting them to cover the cost of the very ruins wrought by the Israeli state.
According to latest estimates, the families that live in makeshift huts and rely on rudimentary means to survive, are expected to pay up a bill of 2 million shekels, around $600,000.
Israel dubs Al-Araqeeb, along with 35 villages in the Negev, as ‘unrecognized’ by the Israeli government’s master plan, thus they must be erased, and their population driven into townships made for the Bedouins.
However, these villages are older than Israel itself, and any such ‘master plan’ could have easily considered this existing reality.  However, what Israeli truly labors to achieve is to replace the Bedouins with its own Jewish population, as it has tirelessly done for seven decades.
Palestinian Bedouins are known for their tenacity. They fully fathom the history and plight of their ancestors, where generation after generation were ethnically cleansed and exiled to refugee camps outside Palestine, or forcibly removed to other areas. Today’s Bedouin communities refuse to be subjected to that same fate again.

Israel’s ethnic cleansing
The Israeli plan to ethnically cleanse the Bedouins of the Negev is no different from the plan to colonize the West Bank, Judaize the Galilee and Palestinian East Jerusalem. All such efforts always culminate in the same routine – of removing the Arabs and replacing them with Israeli Jews.
 

Israeli bulldozers demolish a house in Jerusalem.

In 1965, Israel passed the Planning and Building Law which recognized some Palestinian Arab villages in the Galilee and southern Negev, but excluded others. Nearly 100,000 Bedouin were forcibly removed to ‘Planned Townships’ to endure economic neglect and poverty. Many refused to be moved and, since then, have fought a protracted war to survive and maintain a semblance of their culture and way of life.
Currently, according to the Institute of Palestine Studies (IPS), roughly 130,000 individuals live in the so-called unrecognized villages “under the constant threat of wholesale demolition.”
The anomaly is that these Bedouin communities prove the fallacy of the Israeli claim that it was Jewish settlers – not Palestinians – that ‘made the desert bloom.’
A simple look at statistics demolishes that deceptive claim entirely.
As of 1935 – that is 13 years prior to the existence of Israel –
Bedouins “cultivated 2,109,234 dunums of land where they grew most of Palestine’s barley and much of the country’s wheat,” stated IPS.
Moreover, Jewish settlers did not arrive in the Negev till 1940 and, by 1946, the total Jewish population there did not amount to more than 475.
“The amount of land cultivated by the Bedouins in the Negev prior to 1948 came to three times that cultivated by the entire Jewish community in all of Palestine even after sixty years of ‘pioneering’ Zionist settlement,” IPS concluded.
To reverse this indisputable historical reality, Israel has led a decided campaign aimed at vanquishing the Bedouins by severing their relationship to their land. Although this has been done with a great degree of success, the struggle is not yet over.

The destructive Prawer II
The same struggle is duplicated elsewhere, especially in so-called ‘Area C’ encompassing 60 percent of the West Bank. Palestinian Bedouin villages there are also enduring a terrible fight, as many of their villages have been singled out for destruction.
Most of West Bank Bedouins live in the central West Bank region, in an area known as the South Hebron Hills. Last month, it was reported that the Israeli Supreme Court is now “deciding the fate” of the Bedouin village of Dkeika. Other villages in the area have either been demolished, received demolition orders or are waiting for their fate to be determined by the Israel court.
It is hardly a question of a single village or two. The UN reported that 46 villages in central West Bank are “at risk of forcible transfer” by the Israeli government.
To preclude any legal wrangling, the Israeli government has been actively pursuing wholesale, irreversible actions to seal the fate of Bedouins once and for all.
In 2013, Israel announced the “Prawer Plan”, the goal of which was the destruction of all unrecognized villages in the Negev. However, massive mobilization involving the Bedouins and Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories defeated the plan, which was officially rescinded in December of the same year.
But, now, it is being revived under the name ‘Prawer II.’ A draft of the plan, which was leaked to local media, was introduced by Israel’s Agricultural Minister, Uri Ariel. It, too, aims to “deny Bedouin citizens land ownership rights and violate their constitutional protections,” reported Patrick Strickland.
The war on the Bedouin is, of course, part of the larger war on all Palestinians, whether in Israel or under military occupation. While the latter are denied the most basic freedoms, the former are governed by at least 50 discriminatory law, according to the Haifa-based Adalah Legal Centre for Arab Minority Rights.

Colonial expansion
Many of these laws are aimed at depriving Palestinians of the right to own land or to claim even the very land upon which their homes and villages existed for tens and hundreds of years.
It should come as no shock, then, to learn that, while Palestinian citizens of Israel are estimated at 20 percent of the population, they live on merely 3 percent of the land, and many of them face the constant danger of being evicted and relocated elsewhere.
The story of Al-Araqeeb is witness to the never-ending Israeli desire for colonial expansion at the expense of the indigenous population of Palestine, but also of the courage and refusal to give in to fear and despair as demonstrated by the 22 families of this brave village.
In some way, Al-Araqeeb represents the story of all of Palestine and its people.
The struggle of Al-Araqeeb should evoke outrage at Israel’s constant violation of human rights and its refusal to recognize the national aspirations of the Palestinian people, but it should also induce hope that 70 years of colonial expansion cannot defeat or even weaken the will of a village, of a nation.

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California. Visit his website: www.ramzybaroud.net.


Login to post comments


(0)



US-Turkish visa spat: A fight for basic freedoms

James M. Dorsey in Singapore

Moves by the United States and Turkey that largely ban travel of their nationals between the two countries is about more than two long-standing NATO allies having a spat amid shifting alliances in a volatile part of the world. It is a fight between two leaders, US President Donald J. Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, confronted with the limitations and fallout of their shared desire to redefine or restrict basic freedoms.
The spat erupted when the US embassy in Ankara announced this weekend that it was suspending the issuance of non-immigrant visas as part of a reassessment of the “commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission facilities and personnel.” The embassy stopped short of banning travel by all visa holders.

Tensions boiling over
Hours later, the Turkish Embassy in Washington went a step further by declaring that it had suspended all visa operations for US citizens, effectively banning all US passport holders from travelling to the country. “This measure will apply to sticker visas as well as e-Visas and border visas,” the embassy said. Turkey’s currency plunged in the wake of the announcement in early morning trading on Asian markets.
The spat is the latest escalation of tensions in a relationship that has been fraying for several years  as a result of increasingly authoritarian policies adopted by Mr. Erdogan, differences over the conflict in Syria, US cooperation with Syrian Kurds, the separate indictments in the United States of an Turkish-Iranian businessman on charges of busting sanctions on Iran and 15 Turkish security guards for involvement in a street brawl, and Turkish allegations of US interference in its domestic affairs.
The latest spat highlights the risks of Mr. Trump’s empathy for authoritarian and autocratic leaders that contrasts starkly with a stress on basic freedoms and the rule of law adopted by his predecessors. Mr. Trump last month described relations with Turkey as “the closest we’ve ever been.”
The spat amounts to the White House getting a taste of its own medicine of ignoring abuse of human rights by some of its closest allies. As a result, US nationals and government employees have become the victims of seemingly arbitrary crackdowns for political rather than national security reasons that violate basic freedoms and make a mockery of the rule of law.
The spat erupted after Turkey indicted in the last year two Turkish nationals working at US diplomatic missions in the country and detained at least a dozen other US nationals, including a Christian missionary, on charges of having ties to Fethullah Gulen, an aging Turkish preacher who has lived in exile in Pennsylvania for the past two decades.

Gulen factor looming large
Mr. Erdogan blames Mr. Gulen, the leader of one of the world’s richest Islamic movements and most far-flung education systems, for having last year engineered a failed military attempt to remove him from office. Some 250 people died in the attempt in which dissident Turkish tank commanders fired at the Turkish parliament building in Ankara.
The indictment of the Turkish nationals and arrests of Americans were part of a massive crackdown on government critics that involved the firing up to 150,000 public servants, arrest of tens of thousands, curbing of press freedoms and granting the president wide-ranging powers. Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly justified the crackdown as a legitimate response to the failed coup.
The targeting of Turkish nationals employed by the US government appeared to be a crude attempt to persuade the Trump administration to extradite Mr. Gulen, who has denied having any association with the attempted coup.
The administrations of both Mr Trump and President Barack Obama have rejected Turkish extradition requests because Turkey had provided insufficient evidence to substantiate it’s claim that the preacher was responsible for the failed coup.
Mr. Erdogan also wants the release of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman with ties to Turkey’s ruling elite, who was arrested in Miami last year for helping Iran evade sanctions.
Mr. Erdogan last month suggested that he would be willing to swap Andrew Brunson, the detained missionary who ran a small Protestant church in the coastal city of zmir, for Mr. Gulen. “‘Give us the pastor back,’ they say. You have one pastor (Gulen) as well. Give him to us. Then we will try (Mr. Brunson) and give him to you,” Mr.  Erdogan said.

Becoming a messy game
The spat constitutes a serious deterioration of US Turkish relations at a time that Turkish-backed rebels are battling Islamic militants in Syria’s Idlib province. The fighting aims to drive back Al-Qaeda-linked forces and prevent the emergence of a Syrian Kurdish entity on Turkey’s border in the wake of a recent Iraqi Kurdish vote for independence. It also comes as Turkey has forged closer ties with Iran to confront Kurdish moves and has stepped up co-operation with Russia in Syria.
Turkey is not the only country to detain US nationals or green card holders. Ola Al-Qaradawi, a 55-year-old research assistant and daughter of controversial Qatar-based religious scholar Yousef al-Qaradawi who has a green card, and her husband, Hossam Khalaf, have been held in solitary confinement since last year. Their only crime appears to be that she is related to a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The United States has no consular obligations but Congressman Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the powerful House Armed Services Committee, has taken up their case.
Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup in 2013 that toppled the country’s first and only democratically elected president, has gone much further than Mr.  Erdogan in brutally cracking down on opponents and freedoms.
In a rare break with apparent US neglect of abuse of human rights among its allies, Mr. Trump has cut military aid to Egypt, citing legal restrictions imposed on non-governmental organizations. The real reason was more likely Egypt’s relations with North Korea.
The Trump administration has suggested that it would review its aid decision if Egypt breaks off diplomatic relations with North Korea.  Acting on US intelligence, Egyptian authorities seized in August a boatload of $23 million worth of rocket-propelled grenades shipped from North Korea and destined for Egypt. Egypt has denied that it was the intended end-user.

Convoluted diplomacy
To be fair, the repressive policies of Messrs. Erdogan and Al-Sisi as well as Mr. Trump’s attitudes towards authoritarianism and autocracy and his efforts to redefine basic freedoms in the United States enjoy the support of segments of their populations.
As a result, the plight of US nationals and government employees in Turkey is unlikely to persuade Mr. Trump to return to the more assertive advocacy of basic rights and the rule of law of his predecessors. It does, however, demonstrate that tacit endorsement of authoritarian or autocratic rule is not without risk for US citizens as well as foreign nationals employed by the US government.
Moreover, it suggests that lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law constitutes a slippery slope that ultimately could put US national security interests at risk on a far larger scale. That has been evident since the 2011 popular Arab revolts that has heralded an era of often volatile and violent transition in the Middle East for which no end is in sight. It is a convoluted and bloody process of change that poses multiple, often unpredictable challenges, many of which are exacerbated rather than alleviated by autocratic and authoritarian rule.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and co-host of the New Books in Middle Eastern Studies podcast. James is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title as well as Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and  Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.

Comment

James M. Dorsey in Singapore

Moves by the United States and Turkey that largely ban travel of their nationals between the two countries is about more than two long-standing NATO allies having a spat amid shifting alliances in a volatile part of the world. It is a fight between two leaders, US President Donald J. Trump and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, confronted with the limitations and fallout of their shared desire to redefine or restrict basic freedoms.
The spat erupted when the US embassy in Ankara announced this weekend that it was suspending the issuance of non-immigrant visas as part of a reassessment of the “commitment of the government of Turkey to the security of U.S. mission facilities and personnel.” The embassy stopped short of banning travel by all visa holders.

Tensions boiling over
Hours later, the Turkish Embassy in Washington went a step further by declaring that it had suspended all visa operations for US citizens, effectively banning all US passport holders from travelling to the country. “This measure will apply to sticker visas as well as e-Visas and border visas,” the embassy said. Turkey’s currency plunged in the wake of the announcement in early morning trading on Asian markets.
The spat is the latest escalation of tensions in a relationship that has been fraying for several years  as a result of increasingly authoritarian policies adopted by Mr. Erdogan, differences over the conflict in Syria, US cooperation with Syrian Kurds, the separate indictments in the United States of an Turkish-Iranian businessman on charges of busting sanctions on Iran and 15 Turkish security guards for involvement in a street brawl, and Turkish allegations of US interference in its domestic affairs.
The latest spat highlights the risks of Mr. Trump’s empathy for authoritarian and autocratic leaders that contrasts starkly with a stress on basic freedoms and the rule of law adopted by his predecessors. Mr. Trump last month described relations with Turkey as “the closest we’ve ever been.”
The spat amounts to the White House getting a taste of its own medicine of ignoring abuse of human rights by some of its closest allies. As a result, US nationals and government employees have become the victims of seemingly arbitrary crackdowns for political rather than national security reasons that violate basic freedoms and make a mockery of the rule of law.
The spat erupted after Turkey indicted in the last year two Turkish nationals working at US diplomatic missions in the country and detained at least a dozen other US nationals, including a Christian missionary, on charges of having ties to Fethullah Gulen, an aging Turkish preacher who has lived in exile in Pennsylvania for the past two decades.

Gulen factor looming large
Mr. Erdogan blames Mr. Gulen, the leader of one of the world’s richest Islamic movements and most far-flung education systems, for having last year engineered a failed military attempt to remove him from office. Some 250 people died in the attempt in which dissident Turkish tank commanders fired at the Turkish parliament building in Ankara.
The indictment of the Turkish nationals and arrests of Americans were part of a massive crackdown on government critics that involved the firing up to 150,000 public servants, arrest of tens of thousands, curbing of press freedoms and granting the president wide-ranging powers. Mr. Erdogan has repeatedly justified the crackdown as a legitimate response to the failed coup.
The targeting of Turkish nationals employed by the US government appeared to be a crude attempt to persuade the Trump administration to extradite Mr. Gulen, who has denied having any association with the attempted coup.
The administrations of both Mr Trump and President Barack Obama have rejected Turkish extradition requests because Turkey had provided insufficient evidence to substantiate it’s claim that the preacher was responsible for the failed coup.
Mr. Erdogan also wants the release of Reza Zarrab, a Turkish-Iranian businessman with ties to Turkey’s ruling elite, who was arrested in Miami last year for helping Iran evade sanctions.
Mr. Erdogan last month suggested that he would be willing to swap Andrew Brunson, the detained missionary who ran a small Protestant church in the coastal city of zmir, for Mr. Gulen. “‘Give us the pastor back,’ they say. You have one pastor (Gulen) as well. Give him to us. Then we will try (Mr. Brunson) and give him to you,” Mr.  Erdogan said.

Becoming a messy game
The spat constitutes a serious deterioration of US Turkish relations at a time that Turkish-backed rebels are battling Islamic militants in Syria’s Idlib province. The fighting aims to drive back Al-Qaeda-linked forces and prevent the emergence of a Syrian Kurdish entity on Turkey’s border in the wake of a recent Iraqi Kurdish vote for independence. It also comes as Turkey has forged closer ties with Iran to confront Kurdish moves and has stepped up co-operation with Russia in Syria.
Turkey is not the only country to detain US nationals or green card holders. Ola Al-Qaradawi, a 55-year-old research assistant and daughter of controversial Qatar-based religious scholar Yousef al-Qaradawi who has a green card, and her husband, Hossam Khalaf, have been held in solitary confinement since last year. Their only crime appears to be that she is related to a spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The United States has no consular obligations but Congressman Adam Smith, the top Democrat on the powerful House Armed Services Committee, has taken up their case.
Egyptian general-turned-president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, who came to power in a military coup in 2013 that toppled the country’s first and only democratically elected president, has gone much further than Mr.  Erdogan in brutally cracking down on opponents and freedoms.
In a rare break with apparent US neglect of abuse of human rights among its allies, Mr. Trump has cut military aid to Egypt, citing legal restrictions imposed on non-governmental organizations. The real reason was more likely Egypt’s relations with North Korea.
The Trump administration has suggested that it would review its aid decision if Egypt breaks off diplomatic relations with North Korea.  Acting on US intelligence, Egyptian authorities seized in August a boatload of $23 million worth of rocket-propelled grenades shipped from North Korea and destined for Egypt. Egypt has denied that it was the intended end-user.

Convoluted diplomacy
To be fair, the repressive policies of Messrs. Erdogan and Al-Sisi as well as Mr. Trump’s attitudes towards authoritarianism and autocracy and his efforts to redefine basic freedoms in the United States enjoy the support of segments of their populations.
As a result, the plight of US nationals and government employees in Turkey is unlikely to persuade Mr. Trump to return to the more assertive advocacy of basic rights and the rule of law of his predecessors. It does, however, demonstrate that tacit endorsement of authoritarian or autocratic rule is not without risk for US citizens as well as foreign nationals employed by the US government.
Moreover, it suggests that lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law constitutes a slippery slope that ultimately could put US national security interests at risk on a far larger scale. That has been evident since the 2011 popular Arab revolts that has heralded an era of often volatile and violent transition in the Middle East for which no end is in sight. It is a convoluted and bloody process of change that poses multiple, often unpredictable challenges, many of which are exacerbated rather than alleviated by autocratic and authoritarian rule.

Dr. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and co-host of the New Books in Middle Eastern Studies podcast. James is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title as well as Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, co-authored with Dr. Teresita Cruz-Del Rosario and  Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa.


Login to post comments


(0)



METROPOLITAN
EDITORIAL
COMMENTS
INTERNATIONAL
BUSINESS
INFOTECH
CULTURE
MISCELLANY
AVIATOUR
LETTERS
LAST WORD
FOUNDING EDITOR: ENAYETULLAH KHAN; EDITOR: SAYED KAMALUDDIN
Contents Copyrighted © by Holiday Publication Limited
Mailing address 30, Tejgaon Industrial Area, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh.
Phone 880-2-8170462, 8170463, 8170464 Fax 880-2-9127927 Email holiday@bangla.net
Site Managed By: Southtech Limited
Southtech Limited does not take any responsibility for any news content of this site