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World Security Network reporting from Washington DC in the USA,
May 23, 2011

Dear Cavkic Salih,

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu disagreed sharply when U.S. President Barack Obama said: "The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state."

On May 19, 2011 U.S. President Barack Obama delivered an important speech on the turmoil and tension in the Middle East and North Africa in the U.S. State Department. President Obama discussed the recent uprisings in the Arab world and implications for U.S. policy in the region. He also reiterated his commitment to a solution in the Israel/Palestine conflict which he repeated in a speech to the Pro-Israel Lobby AIPAC on May 22, 2011.

Obama's key messages:

1. Many people in the Middle East and North Africa have realized that violent extremism cannot work, since the killing of innocents does not improve ordinary lives.

2. The revolutions in the the Arab world have shown that state strategies of repression will eventually fail. The people have challenged the lack of self-determination and paved the way for political and economic reform. This process, however, will take many years.

3. U.S. policy needs to be broadened to reach the ordinary citizens in order to refute suspicions that the U.S. is pursuing its interests at the expense of others or trying to impose regime change from outside.

4. It is of paramount importance that new regimes oppose violence and the use of force against civilians, support human rights, and promote political and economic reform to start a democratic transition process. Only those that abide by these rules will be suppported by the USA.

5. The status quo in the Israel/Palestine conflict is unsustainable. The U.S.A supports a two-state solution based on the border lines of 1967 with mutually agreed swaps.

Excerpt form "Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa"

Today, I want to talk about this change -- the forces that are driving it and how we can respond in a way that advances our values and strengthens our security.

Now, already, we’ve done much to shift our foreign policy following a decade defined by two costly conflicts. After years of war in Iraq, we’ve removed 100,000 American troops and ended our combat mission there. In Afghanistan, we’ve broken the Taliban’s momentum, and this July we will begin to bring our troops home and continue a transition to Afghan lead. And after years of war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, we have dealt al Qaeda a huge blow by killing its leader, Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden was no martyr. He was a mass murderer who offered a message of hate –- an insistence that Muslims had to take up arms against the West, and that violence against men, women and children was the only path to change. He rejected democracy and individual rights for Muslims in favor of violent extremism; his agenda focused on what he could destroy -– not what he could build.

Bin Laden and his murderous vision won some adherents. But even before his death, al Qaeda was losing its struggle for relevance, as the overwhelming majority of people saw that the slaughter of innocents did not answer their cries for a better life. By the time we found bin Laden, al Qaeda’s agenda had come to be seen by the vast majority of the region as a dead end, and the people of the Middle East and North Africa had taken their future into their own hands.

That story of self-determination began six months ago in Tunisia. On December 17th, a young vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi was devastated when a police officer confiscated his cart. This was not unique. It’s the same kind of humiliation that takes place every day in many parts of the world -– the relentless tyranny of governments that deny their citizens dignity. Only this time, something different happened. After local officials refused to hear his complaints, this young man, who had never been particularly active in politics, went to the headquarters of the provincial government, doused himself in fuel, and lit himself on fire.

There are times in the course of history when the actions of ordinary citizens spark movements for change because they speak to a longing for freedom that has been building up for years. In America, think of the defiance of those patriots in Boston who refused to pay taxes to a King, or the dignity of Rosa Parks as she sat courageously in her seat. So it was in Tunisia, as that vendor’s act of desperation tapped into the frustration felt throughout the country. Hundreds of protesters took to the streets, then thousands. And in the face of batons and sometimes bullets, they refused to go home –- day after day, week after week -- until a dictator of more than two decades finally left power.

The story of this revolution, and the ones that followed, should not have come as a surprise. The nations of the Middle East and North Africa won their independence long ago, but in too many places their people did not. In too many countries, power has been concentrated in the hands of a few. In too many countries, a citizen like that young vendor had nowhere to turn -– no honest judiciary to hear his case; no independent media to give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views; no free and fair election where he could choose his leader.

And this lack of self-determination –- the chance to make your life what you will –- has applied to the region’s economy as well. Yes, some nations are blessed with wealth in oil and gas, and that has led to pockets of prosperity. But in a global economy based on knowledge, based on innovation, no development strategy can be based solely upon what comes out of the ground. Nor can people reach their potential when you cannot start a business without paying a bribe.

In the face of these challenges, too many leaders in the region tried to direct their people’s grievances elsewhere. The West was blamed as the source of all ills, a half-century after the end of colonialism. Antagonism toward Israel became the only acceptable outlet for political expression. Divisions of tribe, ethnicity and religious sect were manipulated as a means of holding on to power, or taking it away from somebody else.

But the events of the past six months show us that strategies of repression and strategies of diversion will not work anymore. Satellite television and the Internet provide a window into the wider world -– a world of astonishing progress in places like India and Indonesia and Brazil. Cell phones and social networks allow young people to connect and organize like never before. And so a new generation has emerged. And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied.

In Cairo, we heard the voice of the young mother who said, “It’s like I can finally breathe fresh air for the first time.”

In Sanaa, we heard the students who chanted, “The night must come to an end.”

In Benghazi, we heard the engineer who said, “Our words are free now. It’s a feeling you can’t explain.”

In Damascus, we heard the young man who said, “After the first yelling, the first shout, you feel dignity.”

Those shouts of human dignity are being heard across the region. And through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades.

Of course, change of this magnitude does not come easily. In our day and age -– a time of 24-hour news cycles and constant communication –- people expect the transformation of the region to be resolved in a matter of weeks. But it will be years before this story reaches its end. Along the way, there will be good days and there will bad days. In some places, change will be swift; in others, gradual. And as we’ve already seen, calls for change may give way, in some cases, to fierce contests for power.

The question before us is what role America will play as this story unfolds. For decades, the United States has pursued a set of core interests in the region: countering terrorism and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons; securing the free flow of commerce and safe-guarding the security of the region; standing up for Israel’s security and pursuing Arab-Israeli peace.

We will continue to do these things, with the firm belief that America’s interests are not hostile to people’s hopes; they’re essential to them. We believe that no one benefits from a nuclear arms race in the region, or al Qaeda’s brutal attacks. We believe people everywhere would see their economies crippled by a cut-off in energy supplies. As we did in the Gulf War, we will not tolerate aggression across borders, and we will keep our commitments to friends and partners.

Yet we must acknowledge that a strategy based solely upon the narrow pursuit of these interests will not fill an empty stomach or allow someone to speak their mind. Moreover, failure to speak to the broader aspirations of ordinary people will only feed the suspicion that has festered for years that the United States pursues our interests at their expense. Given that this mistrust runs both ways –- as Americans have been seared by hostage-taking and violent rhetoric and terrorist attacks that have killed thousands of our citizens -– a failure to change our approach threatens a deepening spiral of division between the United States and the Arab world.

And that’s why, two years ago in Cairo, I began to broaden our engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect. I believed then -– and I believe now -– that we have a stake not just in the stability of nations, but in the self-determination of individuals. The status quo is not sustainable. Societies held together by fear and repression may offer the illusion of stability for a time, but they are built upon fault lines that will eventually tear asunder.

So we face a historic opportunity. We have the chance to show that America values the dignity of the street vendor in Tunisia more than the raw power of the dictator. There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

Of course, as we do, we must proceed with a sense of humility. It’s not America that put people into the streets of Tunis or Cairo -– it was the people themselves who launched these movements, and it’s the people themselves that must ultimately determine their outcome.

Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short-term interests don’t align perfectly with our long-term vision for the region. But we can, and we will, speak out for a set of core principles –- principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months:

The United States opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of the region. (Applause.)

The United States supports a set of universal rights. And these rights include free speech, the freedom of peaceful assembly, the freedom of religion, equality for men and women under the rule of law, and the right to choose your own leaders -– whether you live in Baghdad or Damascus, Sanaa or Tehran.

And we support political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa that can meet the legitimate aspirations of ordinary people throughout the region.

Our support for these principles is not a secondary interest. Today I want to make it clear that it is a top priority that must be translated into concrete actions, and supported by all of the diplomatic, economic and strategic tools at our disposal.

Let me be specific. First, it will be the policy of the United States to promote reform across the region, and to support transitions to democracy. That effort begins in Egypt and Tunisia, where the stakes are high -– as Tunisia was at the vanguard of this democratic wave, and Egypt is both a longstanding partner and the Arab world’s largest nation. Both nations can set a strong example through free and fair elections, a vibrant civil society, accountable and effective democratic institutions, and responsible regional leadership. But our support must also extend to nations where transitions have yet to take place.

Unfortunately, in too many countries, calls for change have thus far been answered by violence. The most extreme example is Libya, where Muammar Qaddafi launched a war against his own people, promising to hunt them down like rats. As I said when the United States joined an international coalition to intervene, we cannot prevent every injustice perpetrated by a regime against its people, and we have learned from our experience in Iraq just how costly and difficult it is to try to impose regime change by force -– no matter how well-intentioned it may be.

But in Libya, we saw the prospect of imminent massacre, we had a mandate for action, and heard the Libyan people’s call for help. Had we not acted along with our NATO allies and regional coalition partners, thousands would have been killed. The message would have been clear: Keep power by killing as many people as it takes. Now, time is working against Qaddafi. He does not have control over his country. The opposition has organized a legitimate and credible Interim Council. And when Qaddafi inevitably leaves or is forced from power, decades of provocation will come to an end, and the transition to a democratic Libya can proceed.

While Libya has faced violence on the greatest scale, it’s not the only place where leaders have turned to repression to remain in power. Most recently, the Syrian regime has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens. The United States has condemned these actions, and working with the international community we have stepped up our sanctions on the Syrian regime –- including sanctions announced yesterday on President Assad and those around him.

The Syrian people have shown their courage in demanding a transition to democracy. President Assad now has a choice: He can lead that transition, or get out of the way. The Syrian government must stop shooting demonstrators and allow peaceful protests. It must release political prisoners and stop unjust arrests. It must allow human rights monitors to have access to cities like Dara’a; and start a serious dialogue to advance a democratic transition. Otherwise, President Assad and his regime will continue to be challenged from within and will continue to be isolated abroad.

So far, Syria has followed its Iranian ally, seeking assistance from Tehran in the tactics of suppression. And this speaks to the hypocrisy of the Iranian regime, which says it stand for the rights of protesters abroad, yet represses its own people at home. Let’s remember that the first peaceful protests in the region were in the streets of Tehran, where the government brutalized women and men, and threw innocent people into jail. We still hear the chants echo from the rooftops of Tehran. The image of a young woman dying in the streets is still seared in our memory. And we will continue to insist that the Iranian people deserve their universal rights, and a government that does not smother their aspirations.

Now, our opposition to Iran’s intolerance and Iran’s repressive measures, as well as its illicit nuclear program and its support of terror, is well known. But if America is to be credible, we must acknowledge that at times our friends in the region have not all reacted to the demands for consistent change -- with change that’s consistent with the principles that I’ve outlined today. That’s true in Yemen, where President Saleh needs to follow through on his commitment to transfer power. And that’s true today in Bahrain.

Bahrain is a longstanding partner, and we are committed to its security. We recognize that Iran has tried to take advantage of the turmoil there, and that the Bahraini government has a legitimate interest in the rule of law.

Nevertheless, we have insisted both publicly and privately that mass arrests and brute force are at odds with the universal rights of Bahrain’s citizens, and we will -- and such steps will not make legitimate calls for reform go away. The only way forward is for the government and opposition to engage in a dialogue, and you can’t have a real dialogue when parts of the peaceful opposition are in jail. (Applause.) The government must create the conditions for dialogue, and the opposition must participate to forge a just future for all Bahrainis.

Indeed, one of the broader lessons to be drawn from this period is that sectarian divides need not lead to conflict. In Iraq, we see the promise of a multiethnic, multisectarian democracy. The Iraqi people have rejected the perils of political violence in favor of a democratic process, even as they’ve taken full responsibility for their own security. Of course, like all new democracies, they will face setbacks. But Iraq is poised to play a key role in the region if it continues its peaceful progress. And as they do, we will be proud to stand with them as a steadfast partner.

So in the months ahead, America must use all our influence to encourage reform in the region. Even as we acknowledge that each country is different, we need to speak honestly about the principles that we believe in, with friend and foe alike. Our message is simple: If you take the risks that reform entails, you will have the full support of the United States.

We must also build on our efforts to broaden our engagement beyond elites, so that we reach the people who will shape the future -– particularly young people. We will continue to make good on the commitments that I made in Cairo -– to build networks of entrepreneurs and expand exchanges in education, to foster cooperation in science and technology, and combat disease. Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society, including those that may not be officially sanctioned, and who speak uncomfortable truths. And we will use the technology to connect with -– and listen to –- the voices of the people.

For the fact is, real reform does not come at the ballot box alone. Through our efforts we must support those basic rights to speak your mind and access information. We will support open access to the Internet, and the right of journalists to be heard -– whether it’s a big news organization or a lone blogger. In the 21st century, information is power, the truth cannot be hidden, and the legitimacy of governments will ultimately depend on active and informed citizens.

Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our worldview. Let me be clear, America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them. And sometimes we profoundly disagree with them.

We look forward to working with all who embrace genuine and inclusive democracy. What we will oppose is an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others, and to hold power through coercion and not consent. Because democracy depends not only on elections, but also strong and accountable institutions, and the respect for the rights of minorities.

Such tolerance is particularly important when it comes to religion. In Tahrir Square, we heard Egyptians from all walks of life chant, “Muslims, Christians, we are one.” America will work to see that this spirit prevails -– that all faiths are respected, and that bridges are built among them. In a region that was the birthplace of three world religions, intolerance can lead only to suffering and stagnation. And for this season of change to succeed, Coptic Christians must have the right to worship freely in Cairo, just as Shia must never have their mosques destroyed in Bahrain.

What is true for religious minorities is also true when it comes to the rights of women. History shows that countries are more prosperous and more peaceful when women are empowered. And that’s why we will continue to insist that universal rights apply to women as well as men -– by focusing assistance on child and maternal health; by helping women to teach, or start a business; by standing up for the right of women to have their voices heard, and to run for office. The region will never reach its full potential when more than half of its population is prevented from achieving their full potential.

Now, even as we promote political reform, even as we promote human rights in the region, our efforts can’t stop there. So the second way that we must support positive change in the region is through our efforts to advance economic development for nations that are transitioning to democracy.

After all, politics alone has not put protesters into the streets. The tipping point for so many people is the more constant concern of putting food on the table and providing for a family. Too many people in the region wake up with few expectations other than making it through the day, perhaps hoping that their luck will change. Throughout the region, many young people have a solid education, but closed economies leave them unable to find a job. Entrepreneurs are brimming with ideas, but corruption leaves them unable to profit from those ideas.

The greatest untapped resource in the Middle East and North Africa is the talent of its people. In the recent protests, we see that talent on display, as people harness technology to move the world. It’s no coincidence that one of the leaders of Tahrir Square was an executive for Google. That energy now needs to be channeled, in country after country, so that economic growth can solidify the accomplishments of the street. For just as democratic revolutions can be triggered by a lack of individual opportunity, successful democratic transitions depend upon an expansion of growth and broad-based prosperity.

So, drawing from what we’ve learned around the world, we think it’s important to focus on trade, not just aid; on investment, not just assistance. The goal must be a model in which protectionism gives way to openness, the reigns of commerce pass from the few to the many, and the economy generates jobs for the young. America’s support for democracy will therefore be based on ensuring financial stability, promoting reform, and integrating competitive markets with each other and the global economy. And we’re going to start with Tunisia and Egypt.

First, we’ve asked the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to present a plan at next week’s G8 summit for what needs to be done to stabilize and modernize the economies of Tunisia and Egypt. Together, we must help them recover from the disruptions of their democratic upheaval, and support the governments that will be elected later this year. And we are urging other countries to help Egypt and Tunisia meet its near-term financial needs.

Second, we do not want a democratic Egypt to be saddled by the debts of its past. So we will relieve a democratic Egypt of up to $1 billion in debt, and work with our Egyptian partners to invest these resources to foster growth and entrepreneurship. We will help Egypt regain access to markets by guaranteeing $1 billion in borrowing that is needed to finance infrastructure and job creation. And we will help newly democratic governments recover assets that were stolen.

Third, we’re working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt. And these will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall. OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region. And we will work with the allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe.

Fourth, the United States will launch a comprehensive Trade and Investment Partnership Initiative in the Middle East and North Africa. If you take out oil exports, this entire region of over 400 million people exports roughly the same amount as Switzerland. So we will work with the EU to facilitate more trade within the region, build on existing agreements to promote integration with U.S. and European markets, and open the door for those countries who adopt high standards of reform and trade liberalization to construct a regional trade arrangement. And just as EU membership served as an incentive for reform in Europe, so should the vision of a modern and prosperous economy create a powerful force for reform in the Middle East and North Africa.

Prosperity also requires tearing down walls that stand in the way of progress -– the corruption of elites who steal from their people; the red tape that stops an idea from becoming a business; the patronage that distributes wealth based on tribe or sect. We will help governments meet international obligations, and invest efforts at anti-corruption -- by working with parliamentarians who are developing reforms, and activists who use technology to increase transparency and hold government accountable. Politics and human rights; economic reform.

Let me conclude by talking about another cornerstone of our approach to the region, and that relates to the pursuit of peace.

For decades, the conflict between Israelis and Arabs has cast a shadow over the region. For Israelis, it has meant living with the fear that their children could be blown up on a bus or by rockets fired at their homes, as well as the pain of knowing that other children in the region are taught to hate them. For Palestinians, it has meant suffering the humiliation of occupation, and never living in a nation of their own. Moreover, this conflict has come with a larger cost to the Middle East, as it impedes partnerships that could bring greater security and prosperity and empowerment to ordinary people.

For over two years, my administration has worked with the parties and the international community to end this conflict, building on decades of work by previous administrations. Yet expectations have gone unmet. Israeli settlement activity continues. Palestinians have walked away from talks. The world looks at a conflict that has grinded on and on and on, and sees nothing but stalemate. Indeed, there are those who argue that with all the change and uncertainty in the region, it is simply not possible to move forward now.

I disagree. At a time when the people of the Middle East and North Africa are casting off the burdens of the past, the drive for a lasting peace that ends the conflict and resolves all claims is more urgent than ever. That’s certainly true for the two parties involved.

For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.

As for Israel, our friendship is rooted deeply in a shared history and shared values. Our commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. And we will stand against attempts to single it out for criticism in international forums. But precisely because of our friendship, it’s important that we tell the truth: The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.

The fact is, a growing number of Palestinians live west of the Jordan River. Technology will make it harder for Israel to defend itself. A region undergoing profound change will lead to populism in which millions of people -– not just one or two leaders -- must believe peace is possible. The international community is tired of an endless process that never produces an outcome. The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation.

Now, ultimately, it is up to the Israelis and Palestinians to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them -- not by the United States; not by anybody else. But endless delay won’t make the problem go away. What America and the international community can do is to state frankly what everyone knows -- a lasting peace will involve two states for two peoples: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people, each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

So while the core issues of the conflict must be negotiated, the basis of those negotiations is clear: a viable Palestine, a secure Israel. The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Now, let me say this: Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel: How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question. Meanwhile, the United States, our Quartet partners, and the Arab states will need to continue every effort to get beyond the current impasse.

I recognize how hard this will be. Suspicion and hostility has been passed on for generations, and at times it has hardened. But I’m convinced that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians would rather look to the future than be trapped in the past. We see that spirit in the Israeli father whose son was killed by Hamas, who helped start an organization that brought together Israelis and Palestinians who had lost loved ones. That father said, “I gradually realized that the only hope for progress was to recognize the face of the conflict.” We see it in the actions of a Palestinian who lost three daughters to Israeli shells in Gaza. “I have the right to feel angry,” he said. “So many people were expecting me to hate. My answer to them is I shall not hate. Let us hope,” he said, “for tomorrow.”

That is the choice that must be made -– not simply in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but across the entire region -– a choice between hate and hope; between the shackles of the past and the promise of the future. It’s a choice that must be made by leaders and by the people, and it’s a choice that will define the future of a region that served as the cradle of civilization and a crucible of strife.

For all the challenges that lie ahead, we see many reasons to be hopeful. In Egypt, we see it in the efforts of young people who led protests. In Syria, we see it in the courage of those who brave bullets while chanting, “peaceful, peaceful.” In Benghazi, a city threatened with destruction, we see it in the courthouse square where people gather to celebrate the freedoms that they had never known. Across the region, those rights that we take for granted are being claimed with joy by those who are prying loose the grip of an iron fist.

For the American people, the scenes of upheaval in the region may be unsettling, but the forces driving it are not unfamiliar. Our own nation was founded through a rebellion against an empire. Our people fought a painful Civil War that extended freedom and dignity to those who were enslaved. And I would not be standing here today unless past generations turned to the moral force of nonviolence as a way to perfect our union –- organizing, marching, protesting peacefully together to make real those words that declared our nation: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

Those words must guide our response to the change that is transforming the Middle East and North Africa -– words which tell us that repression will fail, and that tyrants will fall, and that every man and woman is endowed with certain inalienable rights.

It will not be easy. There’s no straight line to progress, and hardship always accompanies a season of hope. But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. And now we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.

Excerpt from Obama's Speech to Pro-Israel Lobby AIPAC on May 22, 2011

I said that the United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.

As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself — by itself — against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism; to stop the infiltration of weapons; and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. The duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.

That is what I said. Now, it was my reference to the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps that received the lion's share of the attention. And since my position has been misrepresented several times, let me reaffirm what "1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps" means.

By definition, it means that the parties themselves — Israelis and Palestinians — will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. It is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation. It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last forty-four years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition, and peace.

If there's a controversy, then, it's not based in substance. What I did on Thursday was to say publicly what has long been acknowledged privately. I have done so because we cannot afford to wait another decade, or another two decades, or another three decades, to achieve peace. The world is moving too fast. The extraordinary challenges facing Israel would only grow. Delay will undermine Israel's security and the peace that the Israeli people deserve.


Bosnian Academic Circle

Embassy of the United States of America
Kneza Miloša 50 11000 Belgrade, Serbia

May 17, 2011

Your Excellency Ambassador Burce Warlick,

On the occasion of the successful campaign by the U.S. Special Forces locating Osama bin Laden, we would like to extend our wishes and hopes that this historical event will be used as an example to establish justice and peace throughout the world.

It is reasonable to expect that you feel relieved and at ease that your country has become safer as a result of this campaign. At the same time, that the relatives and friends of the innocent victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks, at least for a moment, felt at peace knowing that the main architect responsible for the heinous crime has faced the consequences of his actions.

We, members of the Bosnian Academic Circle - a national association of highly educated Bosnian professionals headquartered in Munich – would like to appeal to you for such a campaign to be carried out in order to capture the fugitive war criminal General Ratko Mladic. Ratko Mladic is believed to be hiding for years in the Republic of Serbia - the country of your mandate.

The arrest of Ratko Mladic can be carried out through a two-folded approach. One is through the legal system and the second one includes the secret service of the Republic of Serbia. Unfortunately, it is evident that the executive power and related institutions of the Republic of Serbia are not ready for such steps which would enable Serbia to deal with its recent past. You are familiar with the case of Germany and its approach to dealing with fascism and hatred in order to turn a new page in its history. The process is an ongoing process in Germany and we wish for such a process to take its roots in the Republic of Serbia.

At this point we believe that the only remaining power that can arrest Ratko Mladic, and we hope that it is in its own interest to arrest him, is your country – the United States of America. The arrest of Ratko Mladic with the assistance of the United States would contribute to the reconciliation process between the Republic of Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It would establish the foundation of good neighbourly relations and regional stability. However, justice is an imperative for the process of reconciliation and it cannot be achieved until Ratko Mladic is arrested. As a result, we are inviting you to use your mandate and the powers ascribed to it to launch a campaign that will bring Ratko Mladic to justice.

At the same time, we would like to use this opportunity to thank the government of the United States for its vital role in stopping the aggression and genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as its quest to bring to justice the convicted war criminals. We appreciate the stance that the United States has undertaken in Bosnia and Herzegovina and consider it as a true friend of the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina.


Hamdo Camo,
PhD Chairman
Bosnian Academic Circle


World Security Network reporting from Berlin in Germany,
May 17, 2011

Dear Cavkic Salih,

Prof. Dr. Hans - Gert Poettering MEP here with German Chancellor Angela Merkel: "The developments in the Arab world provide a great opportunity for the Arab nations as well as the rest of the world. The most important issue is that the Libyan people have the right to make choices about their own future. The Libyan people have the right to democracy."

Prof. Dr. Hans-Gert Poettering is Germany's most influential politican for European affairs as he has been a member of the European Parliament since its adoption in 1979 and held presidency from 2007 to 2009. He is also a member of the Executive Board of the governing Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and a close advisor to Chancelor Angela Merkel and President Christian Wulff. As the President of the CDU associated Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) he is involved in many countries where the KAS is represented. In 2004 and 2009 he promoted his friend Jose Manuel Barroso to become President of the European Commission.

When he argues about Libya, democracy in the Arab world and what the EU should do, they all listen to his advice.

Hans-Gert Poetterings's vision can be summarized as follow:

The Libyan people must decide their own future and have a right for democracy.

The development in the Arab world is a great chance.

Democracy and Islamic belief are no contradictions.

The EU should support this development and help including institution building, the new legal status and NGOs with financial support.

The Mediterranean Union requires a concrete policy to support economic change and open the markets for North African agricultural products.

All people have the right to live in a society where they can decide about their future and this can only be done in democratic societies.

The EU should be more engaged to support a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. There must be a peace solution soon.

Hans-Gert Poettering - for whom I had the privilege to work as an assistant for several years - promotes a more active European policy with its southern neigbours.

Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann
President and Founder
World Security Network Foundation

World Security Network reporting from Islamabad in Pakistan,
May 04, 2011

Dear Cavkic Salih,

Former Pakistani ISI Director Gen. Lt. (Ret.) Hamid Gul, here with World Security Network President Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann: “Needed are direct talks between high echelons of Taliban leadership and the US State Department. It should take about a month to set the stage. Only the USA should be involved with Pakistan as a facilitator. A peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan automatically provides strength and depth to Pakistan. However, larger than life presence of India in that country would neither be natural nor acceptable both to Pakistan and the future government of Afghanistan.”

No other Pakistani General is so often described as “controversial” as LtGen (Ret.) Hamid Gul, from 1987 to 1989 the Director-General of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the premier Pakistani secret service. During those last years of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan he cooperated closely with the CIA and together they supported the Mujahideen including Osama bin Laden who has now been killed in the heartland of Pakistan where this most-wanted terrorist lived in comfort embedded in a secret infrastructure within Pakistan.

Some say Hamid Gul is dangerous. This included US Secretary of State Rice. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has described former ISI Chief Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul as "more of a political ideologue of terror rather than a physical supporter" in an interview with Newsweek in December 2008. Replying to a question whether US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had asked him to arrest Gen. Gul, he said, "Hamid Gul is an actor who is definitely not in our good books. Hamid Gul is somebody who was never appreciated by our government. She [Rice] did not go into specifics, if I may share that with you." (see "
Zardari calls Hamid Gul political ideologue of terror rather than a physical supporter" The Nation. December 15, 2008).

The Washington Post reported on July 28, 2010 about Wikileaks reports which portray Hamid Gul as the public face of an underground Pakistani network to push the US out of Afghanistan (see
Washington Post: The Audacity of Hamid Gul). Gul explained to The Wall Street Journal. “I am not against America, but I am opposed to what the American forces are doing in Afghanistan.”

My impression is that he endorses a traditional way of thinking from the 1980's when he supported the Taliban movement in the national interest of Pakistan to control the Western neighbor Afghanistan while similarly avoiding his homeland being sandwiched by arch-enemy India. His own perception comes close to that of a true nationalist. I disagree with many things he says, but perceive him as a man worth listening to as he is not alone with his thinking in Pakistan.

After meetings with U.S. generals
David Petraeus and David Rodriguez (see U.S. General David Petraeus Commander ISAF about Progree in Afghanistan and Afghanistan: Why the UN via ISAF will win), several German ISAF generals and generals from the Afghan National Army (see Progress in Afghanistan: Two German Generals analyse and Afghanistan: Germans at the Front), it is most interesting to learn more about the thinking of this school of thought - if we like it or not. It is notably different from the ideas of former ISI Director and Pakistani Chief of Staff Gen. ret Ehsan ul Haq in his latest WSN interview some weeks ago (see Former Pakistani Chief of Staff and ISI Director Gen. Ehsan ul Haq on Afghanistan and Pakistan
). The Taliban just announced a new spring offensive which ISAF has been expecting for several months.

Hubertus Hoffmann: General, how strong are the Taliban now and how much support do they have in Afghanistan in light of the recently announced spring offensive?

Hamid Gul: Taliban have grown from strength to strength over the years from the failure of operation Anaconda in 2003 to the fiasco of operation Mushtarik at Marja in Helmand province. They have become more confident and their ranks have swelled to around 50,000 fighting men. Now that they are sensing victory their morale is extremely high. Increasingly the Afghan population is turning to them as an alternative to Karzai's corrupt and incompetent administration.

Hubertus Hoffmann: ISAF is on the offence with stronger Afghan Security Forces and have conceded territory from the insurgents. Is ISAF winning?

Hamid Gul: This is an incorrect impression. The resistance does not offer pitched battles or positional defense. They prefer hit and run type of engagements.

Hubertus Hoffmann: When should negotiations with the Taliban start? Now or later?

Hamid Gul: Its already late. The matters will get worse if there is dithering by the US and NATO policy makers.

Hubertus Hoffmann: Where? How long?

Hamid Gul: Should be direct between high echelons of Taliban leadership and the US state department. Should take about a month to set the stage.

Hubertus Hoffmann: Who must be involved? UN? Saudi Arabia? USA?

Hamid Gul: Only USA.

Hubertus Hoffmann: Which role do you see for Pakistan?

Hamid Gul: Facilitator and no more.

Hubertus Hoffmann: Does Pakistan still need ‘strategic depth’ to defend against India?

Hamid Gul: This is only a myth. A peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan automatically provides strength and depth to Pakistan. However, larger than life presence of India in that country would neither be natural nor acceptable both to Pakistan and the future government of Afghanistan.

Hubertus Hoffmann: Will the alliance of the Taliban and Pakistan be renewed?

Hamid Gul: The future government of Afghanistan need not necessarily be exclusively Taliban. Pakistan will have to deal with whoever is in command in Kabul.

Hubertus Hoffmann: What do the Taliban want? The same as in 2001 before 9/11 or a modern Afghanistan? Or a Turkish model?

Mohammad Gul: The Afghan nation will evolve their own model and should be allowed to do so. The Taliban have reformed substantially as compared to their earlier conduct in governance.

Hubertus Hoffmann: What about the women rights? Will they agree to treat all women like the Prophet did with his wives and daughters, very gentle and kind and not suppressive? Will women be able to work as governors, doctors, or officers?

Hamid Gul: The question of women rights can easily be resolved in the light of the Islamic Shariah. It will take a while before they can be in equal positions due to the orthodox nature of that society. Yet, I see no difficulty for them to become doctors, teachers and working women in other vocations.

Hubertus Hoffmann: And education, including girls?

Hamid Gul: No problem at all. The Shariah does not discriminate.

Hubertus Hoffmann: And free media? And one million internet-users?

Hamid Gul: Taliban themselves are using the internet.

Hubertus Hoffmann: Will the Taliban respect the Constitution of Afghanistan?

Hamid Gul: Nobody in Afghanistan barring the vested interest has any love for this constitution. They will rally around Shariah which derives its inspiration from Quran and Sunnah.

Hubertus Hoffmann: Isn’t the Taliban concept outdated like coming from the stone-age if you look what the Facebook children in Egypt or Tunisia are demanding?

Hamid Gul: Mujahideen of Afghanistan are fighting for faith and freedom from foreign aggression which is not the case in Egypt and Tunisia and both these causes are rooted in the principles of Islam. They are as fresh and relevant today as they were 1,400 years ago. Only the new interfaces of contemporary times have to be explored and utilised.

Hubertus Hoffmann: What kind of Sharia is it? Killing innocent citizens is illegal under Sharia law and jihad rules - why bomb attacks who kill civilians? Aren’t people who kill civilians in the name of Allah ‘unbelievers’ in the sense of the Koran, should be excluded from the Ummah and punished according to Sharia as they offend the Koran and the Prophet? Is this not blasphemy?

Hamid Gul:
That is why it is so important to invoke Shariah to get rid of the menace of terror practitioners who misuse the name of Islam. The ills of a Muslim society can be rectified by more and not less Islam.

Hubertus Hoffmann: Will the Taliban agree to treat all enemies like the Prophet did when he conquered Mecca in 630 CE - killing nobody and respect the existing order?

Hamid Gul: That depends on the nature of agreement between the US and Afghan resistance.

Dr. Hubertus Hoffmann
President and Founder
World Security Network Foundation


World Security Network reporting from Brussels in Belgium , April 27, 2011

Dear Cavkic Salih,

Kurdish representatives Zubeyir Aydar (left) and Rahman Haji-Ahmadi (right) with BrigGen(ret) Dieter Farwick in Brussels: "As a dreadful dictator Saddam was extremely harmful for the Iraqi people particularly to the Kurds"

After WW I and the demise of the Osman Empire the European powers France and United Kingdom redesigned the “Middle East” disregarding ethic-religious, historic and cultural factors. On the drawing-board they created new states like Jordan, Iraq and Syria with new artificial boundaries.

They “forgot” to create one state: Kurdistan - as the homeland for then about 30-40 million Kurds.

This new design triggered multifaceted tensions and conflicts between and within the states in the Middle East until today.

Most of the current conflicts in North Africa and the Gulf region have their origin in the aftermath of WW I.

The Kurds have been a renowned high-culture nation in the Middle East.

Without a homeland about 40 million Kurds live mainly as minorities in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey and they have been fighting for human rights and autonomy for about 90 years.

More than one million Kurds fled the conflicts to Scandinavia and Central Europe. It is less known that about 800 000 Kurds live in Germany.

BrigGen(ret) Dieter Farwick, Senior Vice President of WSN, got the chance to interview exclusively two high ranking Kurds in Brussels, Belgium. His interview partners were Rahman Haji-Ahmadi, President of the “Party of Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK)”, and Zubeyir
Aydar, Member of the Executive Council of “The Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK)”. The discussion centered about a broad spectrum of topics ranging from human rights, protection of Kurdish minorities, ethnic-religious issues to questions regarding the future status of “Kurdistan”, the situation in Turkey, Iran and Iraq well as the question of the use or non-use of violence.

Dieter Farwick: What was the situation of the Kurds in Iraq under the regime of Saddam Hussein? How many Kurds lost their lives? Could you safeguard a kind of autonomy for your people? Was the no-fly zone helpful?

Rahmann Haji – Ahmadi: As a dreadful dictator Saddam was extremely harmful for the Iraqi people particularly to the Kurds. During Saddam’s era hundreds of thousands of Kurds were killed and over 2500 Kurdish villages and towns were destroyed. 182,000 people were killed in an operation known as “Anfal”; so far 130 mass graves have been found where the bodies of thousands of people were hidden. After Nagasaki in Japan, the chemical bombardment of Halabja was the second most catastrophic in the history. Without the American/Western support and the establishment of a no-fly zone, it seemed so difficult for the Kurds to achieve what they have now.

Dieter Farwick: How many of the 40 million Kurds live today in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey? In the past, life for Kurds was worst in Turkey. Obviously there have been some modest positive developments. In which country the situation today is the worst for Kurds?

Zubeyir Aydar: Approximately half of the 40 million Kurds live in today’s official Turkey, the other half live respectively in Iran, Iraq and Syria. In a big part of the territory of the former Soviet Union, for example in Russia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, KaZubeyir Aydarkhstan, Turkmenistan, Kirgizistan, there is a Kurdish population. In the last 30 years the Kurdish political emigration has been mainly oriented to Europe. Around 1 million Kurds live in Europe, among them more than 800 000 in Germany.

While the Kurds in Kurdistan Region (Iraq) are ruling themselves, the Kurds in Syria and Iran are in the worst situation. The people face very difficult conditions in these countries. Some hundred thousand Kurds in Syria still dont have ID cards and citizenship. In Iran the repressions and the executions of Kurds are systematic.

The situation in Turkey used to be the most severe. In the last 30 years the Kurds lead a very determined struggle for freedom and they obtained results. Turkey realised that it cannot overcome its problems using its old political methods of pressure, violence, denial and destruction. There is also the influence of the relations between Turkey and the European Union. All these factors have been pushing Turkey to make some changes and undertake some positive steps. However, these steps are too small and far from resolving the problem. At the present moment, the law still doesn’t recognize the most basic human rights of the Kurds, including language and culture, and the Kurdish children can not learn their mother language at school. At the same time, while visiting Germany Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan criticised the German immigration policy towards the Turks, saying that “assimilation is a crime against humanity”, even though the most severe assimilation is taking place in his own country.

The problems we face in Turkey are continuing, but at the same time we also have a dialogue with the Turkish authorities. It is too early for a concrete solution, but the negotiations are continuing. The Kurdish side is ready to negotiate at all levels, because our aim is to solve the problem by peaceful means. However, the Turkish side is trying to make the process difficult for us by prolonging the negotiation process and avoiding the main problems. Over 2000 Kurdish politicians have been arrested in the last two years and military operations against Kurds have been continuing.

Dieter Farwick: The Kurdish region in Iraq seems to be an island of stability and economic progress based upon oil and gas. Are the Kurds happy with their current situation in Iraq? Do they feel sufficiently represented in Baghdad?

Rahman Haji-Ahmadi: Having agreed on federalism and a multi-party system as well as free elections and decentralisation of power in Iraq was helpful for democratisation of this country; it was also in the interest of the Middle Eastern and the Iraqi people. If Iraq’s neighbours do not interfere in the domestic affairs of this country, Iraq can take the direction toward democracy. Shiite and Sunni Arabs with the Kurds can join a government in Baghdad; Iraq could become a model for the region.

Dieter Farwick: Fundamental and extreme Islamism is a threat to the whole world. The Kurds are Moslems, too. What is your view of the Islamic danger in the Middle East and in Europe? How do you see the role of religion in a state and in society?

Zubeyir Aydar: "My only wish is to go to a free Kurdistan in dignity."

Zubeyir Aydar: This is an important question and we have experienced this problem in our country Kurdistan. The majority of the Kurds are Muslims, but the Kurdish movements and organisations generally are secular. The countries oppressing the Kurds are using the Islamic groups and movements against us. In Kurdistan part of Turkey and in Kurdistan Region in Iraq more than one thousand Kurdish secular politicians and patriots have been killed by Islamic organisations, as Turkish Hezbullah and Ansar-Al-Islam (Al Qaida).

In collaboration with Iran in the 90’s, Turkey founded an organisation under the name of Hezbollah. This organisation was used against the Kurdish struggle for freedom. Working with the Special Warfare Department (Turkish Gladio), they executed around one thousand Kurdish patriots in the streets. The intersection area of the borders of Turkey, Iran and Iraq (central Kurdistan) is a mountain range (Zubeyir Aydargros Mountains). Currently this region is under the control of the Kurdistan Democratic Confederation (KCK) and PJAK guerrillas. Turkey and Iran are almost continuously organising attacks in this region. On November 5, 2007 after the Bush-Erdogan meeting, Turkey, with American support, conducted many operations in this mountain region controlled by the KCK and PJAK guerrillas. Despite all the attacks, Turkey and Iran are unable to control this region. Hence, they tried to infiltrate the area by the use of Islamic groups such as Ansar-Al-Islam and Al Qaida. However, these attempts were not successful. Its very clear that if we did not have control over that very difficult area, Islamic groups, especially Al Qaeda, would have settled there and the region would be more dangerous than the Tora-Bora region in Afghanistan.

We are not in favour of mixing religion with state affairs. Everyone should have the freedom of religion and conscience, but religion must not be an instrument in politics. We do not endorse the development of radical Islamic organisations like Al Qaeda, Hezbollah and Hamas; we see that ideology as a danger to the society.

If the Kurdish problem is resolved in a peaceful manner, it would offer a major contribution to the democratisation of the Middle East and it would put an end to the radical movements in the region. Otherwise, if the Kurdish Freedom Movement is liquidated, radical Islamic groups will develop in Kurdistan. This will lead to a negative outcome for all.

Dieter Farwick: What kind of future do you want for your country? Do you have still the dream of a united Kurdistan on your own territory? Or do you accept the present divide into four countries? Could you live with improved living conditions of your people in the four countries – in a kind of cultural unity? What status do you aim at for the Kurdish region in Iraq?

Rahman Haji-Ahmadi: I wish to see a secular and democratic country where men and women have equal rights in every aspect of their lives, the rights of ethnic and religious groups are upheld and protected. We want the Kurds in their respective countries of residence to have all the political, social, cultural, religious, and economic rights, which are enjoyed by the dominant nations (Fars, Arab, Turks), no less and no more than what the Fars, Arabs and the Turks have. Such a form of co-existence of nations is evident in various places, for example in Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, Belgium, Britain, Spain etc. If the conditions for a decent life for the Kurds are met in those countries, I believe the establishment of an united [independent] Kurdistan is not necessary. Otherwise, the Kurds do have the right of self-determination at its disposal. We believe that the Democratic Confederation System is the best option for those countries in which the Kurds live, for it permits the multiplicity of national and cultural identity.

Dieter Farwick: As a Christ I am very interested in the fate of Christians in the Kurdish region. IMiddle East/Mesopotamia/Kurdistan. Unfortunately, very significant massacres took place in that area at the beginning of the last century. During the First World War the Ottoman Turks conducted Genocide against the Armenians, the Assyrians, the Greeks and the Yezidis. All the non-Muslim population in the Ottoman Empire has been killed or deported according the Turkish plans with the help of different Muslim groups, including some Kurdish clans, which have been also used against the Kurds as well.

For all religious minorities, including Christians, the Middle East is still not a safe place and the pressures continue. A safe and stable Kurdistan will be also a safe haven for Christians and for all religious minorities. More than 60 000 Christians have been fleeing from the terror and the violence in many parts of Iraq into the relative safety of the Federal Region of Kurdistan. It is our obligation as Kurds to protect the Christians in the Middle East so they can live in their own land.

Dieter Farwick: Let’s talk about the image of the Kurds in Central Europe. To be frank to you: Many Europeans regard the Kurds using violence in order to achieve their aims. Many Europeans have still in mind images of violent demonstrations in European cities and on motorways. This perception is counterproductive to a better integration of the Kurds. Is violence for you still a tool to achieve your aims and objectives? Is there a different approach in Europe and the Middle East? What is your relationship with the PKK?


Rahman Haji-Ahmadi: "Iraq could become a model for the region."

Rahman Haji-Ahmadi: Obviously, I would not say that the Kurds had not made mistakes in the past, but I can not say that these mistakes were made in a one-way manner, and that only the Kurds did mistakes. A question raises here: Kurds live in all parts of Europe and in relation to the population of host countries in the equal proportions as in Germany. Why should violence only occur in German cities and motorways? Kurdish people are of the opinion that such an image upheld in certain European countries is an untruth and illegitimate image: 1). It has been carved to serve the economic interests in relation to Turkey and Iran; 2). It has been carved under the diplomatic pressure of Turkey. It is a political, untruthful, and illegitimate perception against the Kurdish nation. To prove such an assertion, in 2008 the European Court decided to remove the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from the European terror list, since the organisation has not engaged in violence for a long period of time. However, the European Commission put it on the terror list again. The Kurdish nation hopes that European countries, particularly Germany will reassess their policies in relation to the Kurds and help to solve the Kurdish issue through the use of dialogue and peace which would certainly be in the interest of Germany, too. Our relation with the PKK: We are two Kurdish parties and we are brothers, for instance, in the European countries, what sort of relations do Social Christian Parties, Social Democrats, Liberals, the Lefts and the Greens? We have a similar relation with the PKK.

Dieter Farwick: I was told that you are aware of plans to kill both of you and a third Kurdish high-ranking politician. What is the motivation behind those plans? What do you know about those plans? Who is the mastermind behind those plans? Where should those plans been executed? Do you get support from the European side?

Zubeyir Aydar: As we know, the Iranian regime has assassinated many opposition politicians abroad, including Iranian Kurdish leaders in Vienna and Berlin. In September 2010 we received news of an assassination plot against the three of us (Mr. Haji Ahmadi, the Chairmen of PJAK, Mr. Remzi Kartal, Chairmen of KONGRA-GEL and myself) with Iranian links and Turkish support from a European source. At first we did not take it very seriously. But within less than a month, we received for second time the same information from a high-level source inside the Iranian system. This made us more worried, because our Iranian source is trusted and has been tested earlier. According to both sets of information an Iranian killing team was holding Turkish passports and ID cards. We reported this information to the Belgian authorities via our lawyers and contacts. The Belgian authorities took it seriously and took precautions; similar measures were also taken in Germany for Mr. Haji Ahmedi (German citizen).

Iran has not updated important information about our movements in Europe. But the Iranian regime is supplied with information by the Turkish authorities, because they have a common enemy – the Kurds, and especially KCK and PJAK. I am sure that in the last years U.S. and EU Intelligence services, cooperating closely with Turkey, have understood how the information they are forwarding to Turkey, has been received by their own enemy, namely the Iranian regime.

Dieter Farwick: The Kurdish region is in the middle of a very fragile environment. Which countries try to influence the future development in your area and in Iraq as a whole? In which way?

Rahman Haji-Ahmadi:
That is true; the Kurdistan region in Iraq is in a fragile situation. All the neighbouring countries try to make it unstable. The antagonism of Turkey and its vice policies toward the Kurdish people have provided Iran with opportunities to successively increase her influences over Iran in general and the Kurdish region in particular; currently we could say that Iran governs Iraq. This is the major threat for the future of the Middle East. Provided the Kurdish issue is solved in Turkey, the Iranian impact and influence would decrease in Iraq, and Iraq would, to some extent, be saved from the threats of the Iranian direct interference and it could also take a significant role in the reconciliation and the stabilisation of the Middle East.

Dieter Farwick: What are the main obstacles to improve the living conditions of the Kurds in the Middle East? How can ordinary people benefit from the revenues of oil and gas exports? Is the partition of Iraq into three parts still an option? Could the Kurdish region sustain a status of independence?

Rahman Haji-Ahmadi: Failure to recognise the rights of the Kurdish people, failure to solve the Kurdish issue, and the war of denial and annihilation of the Kurds directed by Iran, Turkey and Syria are the main obstacles to the growth and development in Kurdistan. If the Kurdish question is solved in Turkey, Kurdistan’s oil and gas would, to a significant extent, meet the energy needs of Western countries. At the same time it would be a considerable source of national income that would enable the Kurds to reconstruct their country, upon which war has been imposed for decades. Thousands of villages have been destroyed and no sign of economic remnants can be seen. We need peace to reconstruct Kurdistan and provide the Kurdish people with a humanistic live. As long as democracy is not solidified in Iraq and the nations of this country are not able to find a mechanism for coexistence. It is evident that the interest of the Western powers in the region is one of the major factors. Independence of the Kurdistan Region without the support of the West would seem very difficult.

Dieter Farwick: What are reasons of hope for a better future of your people in the Middle East? What more should Europe and the United States do to support your movement? What could be done better to improve the integration – not assimilation – of Kurds in Central Europe and Scandinavia?

Zubeyir Aydar: The latest developments in our struggle and the strength of our people give us hope for success and a better future. We paid our price, we believe we will succeed. The United States and Europe approach the Kurdish question with a framework that will favour their national interests. Their approach is pragmatic and they have double standards. They turned a blind eye when Saddam was committing massacres as they have good business relations with the regime. When these relations ended after the degradation, they declared the Iraqi Kurds “good” and the Turkish Kurds “bad”. This is when you encounter double standards. There are Kurds on both sides of the border and in many instances they have close relatives on the other side. The Kurd that was the freedom fighter against Saddam’s regime became the good Kurd, but the Kurd across the border struggling against Turkey became a terrorist and a bad Kurd. These are double standards. Our expectation is that they give up the double standards and support the justified struggle for freedom of the Kurdish people and support a peaceful solution.

Dieter Farwick: If you had three wishes free? What would you ask for?

Zubeyir Aydar: I’ve been living in exile for 17 years. What could an exiled person wish whose country is banned? My only wish is to go to a free Kurdistan with dignity.

Rahman Haji-Ahmadi: My three wishes look more like dreams than wishes: 1). A world with no racial discrimination and religious fundamentalism. 2). A world, in which all the oppressed nations achieve their rights. 3). All the ethnic and religious groups regardless of where they live, be secured with their political, social, cultural and religious rights.

Dieter Farwick
Senior Vice President
World Security Network Foundation
BrigGen (ret.)
Former Force Commander and Chief Operations at NATO HQ


Koninkrijk Belgie - Monarchie Belgique

Maasmechelen Village

Maasmechelen Village

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Frameless Pictures of Globalisation - written by: Dr. Jernej Pikalo, 16-Feb-07