While over 695 Palestinian Arabs, both Muslims and Christians, have been killed in Gaza (till 24 July afternoon Bangladesh standard time) by racist Israel Defence Forces which launched attack a fortnight ago, the OIC is lukewarm in its reaction as before, the so-called Arab Muslim Ummah has again proved to be a misnomer as it plays an ineffective role, and the depraved great oil sheikhs led by KSA—-the rulers of which are long-established stooges of the US and Western imperialism—-are rather unperturbed. Hence the UN’s worry, US-EU diplomacy and nicely-worded concern offering lip service will keep on in a world of realpolitik disregarding humane and ethical considerations; no matter what happens to the victims of genocide and pogrom against Plestinians. Or else how can a tiny Israel, surrounded by the so-called large Muslim giants, continue brutal atrocities over the past eight decades?
Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, are hinting that the ground operation launched by the IDF may last “months” and that the ultimate goal may be to occupy all of the Gaza strip [which Israel seized in the 1967 Six-Day War, and didn’t remove its settlers and soldiers from the region until 2005.] The main target of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza are secret tunnels linking it to Israel, like the one Israel says Hamas militants used last week in an attempt to infiltrate and attack it. Still, Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister of Strategic Affairs, said that Israel’s “Operation Protective Edge” could result in Israel taking control of the entire Gaza Strip. Such a jingoistic intent could be foolhardy leading to period of protracted turbulence, lingering violence, deaths and destruction that shall not develop necessarily to the advantage of the Zionists if they refuse to heed the global voice of sanity and peace against bullying and hounding the civilian Arab populace. [Vide Rick Moran, americanthinker.com/ 2014/ 07/ official_hints_israel_ may_occupy_all_of_gaza.html dated July 19, 2014]
In his view on U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East in a 1977 interview headlined “Oil Imperialism and the US-Israel Relationship” Noam Chomsky says that there has been a very consistent U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, at least since the Second World War, whose primary concern has been to ensure that the energy reserves of the Middle East remain firmly under American control. The State Department noted in 1945 that these reserves constitute “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”[Vide U.S. Department of State: Foreign Relations of the United States. 1945, cited in Joyce and Gabriel Kolko, The Limits of Power, Harper & Row, 1972]
Given the US control over Western Hemisphere resources, the United States thus effectively controlled the major energy reserves of the non-communist world. A number of years later, the American position in the Middle East was extended. Following the CIA-backed coup in Iran in 1953, American oil companies controlled 40 per cent of Iranian oil. By the mid-50s, American dominance of the region and total dominance of Saudi Arabia was virtually complete. American penetration of the Saudi economy and military has been extensive.
Long ago horrifying information about Israel’s nuclear weapons programme was revealed. Estimates as to the size of the Israeli nuclear arsenal vary between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, and the Israel nuclear deterrent force has the ability to deliver them by intermediate-range ballistic missile, intercontinental ballistic missile, aircraft, and submarine-launched cruise missile.
No civilised person can condone Israeli savagery. A perception prevails that the Israelis are characteristically insensitive, heartless, incorrigible warmonger hawks who are always eager to kill Arabs regardless of their religious adherence—-be they Christians, Muslims or whatever. What can one do to encourage a rapprochement between Palestinian definitions of the legitimacy of Israeli self-determination and Israeli recognition of Palestinian national right? Noted sage of our time, Noam Chomky, says that is possible if the US moves to accept the idea of a political settlement and then to get Israel to accept it.
Though there is no dearth of Christian terrorists, Muslims have been singled out victimesd as Jihadist terrorists, though it is US which was behind the creation of Islami Jihadi militancy. “During the 1980s, the CIA paid hundreds of millions of dollars in covert aid to the Afghan Mujahideen, an Islamist force that opposed the Soviet domination of Afghanistan and was also backed by Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani Inter-services Intelligence (ISI)”. [Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 2001 by Steve Coll, Penguin, reviewed by Ahmed Rashid].
This old planet Earth has helplessly witnessed devastating aggressions and invasions by the powerful, innumerable unjust wars killing millions and millions of humans together with propaganda in Bush’s War on Iraq using “weapons of mass deception” that Saddam’s Iraq had possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). Israel’s brutalities and braggadocio will not stop unless formidable US and its cohorts change their policy.
Barrister Harun ur Rashid
Chinese President Xi Jinping was in Seoul for a two-day visit on 3 July. This is the fifth summit between the two since both took office. Ms Park Guen-Hye visited Beijing last year. Xi’s visit comes a day after North Korea fired short-range rockets into the sea, the latest in a series of recent missile tests.
It is the first time a Chinese leader has visited Seoul before Pyongyang, and comes amid cooler China-North Korea ties. China is North Korea’s biggest trading ally and the nation most able to wield influence over it. But in recent months Beijing has appeared increasingly frustrated with its unreliable neighbour’s young leader.
This is a remarkable development when one considers the close ideological and historic ties between China and North Korea, but it would be premature to assume that Beijing has abandoned Pyongyang for Seoul.
Cooperation with South Korea
The Chinese president is said to enjoy a friendly relationship with Ms Park. In Seoul, the two presidents stood together saying they would seek to complete a bilateral trade pact this year and provide South Korean investors with better access to Chinese financial markets.
In their joint statement, the two countries pledged to complete a free-trade agreement that would bolster their already booming economic ties. Xi said that they hoped the accord would be completed within the year, and that annual two-way trade would increase to $300 billion by the end of this year.
Park and Xi reportedly signed more than 10 joint documents pledging deeper cooperation including the setup of a won-yuan currency market. It is a bit surprising that South Korea is said to have agreed to consider joining the Chinese initiative for an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, rival to ADB and World Bank.
After a three-hour meeting, the two presidents issued a joint statement that smoothed over the differences in approach that have stalled a more aggressive stance toward the unabated development of nuclear weapons by North Korea, and its leader, Kim Jong-un, China’s ally.
Wider strategic concerns were also focused. Both China and South Korea are at odds with Japan over historical issues. But Seoul, like Tokyo, is a major US ally. They pledged to deepen ties as Japan said it would ease some sanctions against North Korea, twin moves that reinforced the shifting dynamics in a region in which both Beijing and Tokyo are seeking to assert more power.
Xi’s state visit to South Korea came the same week as Japan’s decision to expand its military role in the region, a move seen warily by both Seoul and Beijing.
South East Asian nations that are, like Japan, involved in territorial disputes with Beijing are also moving closer to the US. So China will be keen to shore up ties with Seoul. Some analysts said the deals reflected maneuvering over long-term strategic and economic goals rather than any sudden or fundamental changes in position.
Strategic importance of ties
Following their summit talks, Xi and Park showed their fundamentally differing approach to tackling North Korea’s nuclear program. The Chinese leader emphasized the resumption of dialogue on offering Pyongyang incentives to abandon its atomic weapons, while South Korea is first seeking action from North Korea to show it is sincere about ending its nuclear ambitions for good.
South Korea would like Beijing to do more to pressure Pyongyang, but for decades China has made the strategic calculation that stability in North Korea comes fearing that regime collapse could propel a flood of refugees across its border and also lead to a unified Korea allied to the US. Beijing has encouraged all parties to return to talks without pre-conditions. Seoul and Washington say that amounts to “buying the same horse twice”.
South Korean efforts to gain China’s understanding for a South Korean-led reunification of the Korean peninsula and Park’s desire to warm up relations with Beijing may be understandable, but China may not be swayed by Seoul’s logic on Korean reunification as long as South Korea’s alliance with the United States remains central to South Korea.
China obviously wants a reunified Korea to be friendly to Beijing, has explicitly stated its distrust of US alliances and its view that the US-Korea alliance would have no utility in the absence of a North Korean threat, and probably believes that its growing economic importance to South Korea will eventually provide it with the leverage necessary to marginalise the US security role on the peninsula.
At present, Chinese and South Korean political and strategic differences on these issues impose real limits on the improvement of political relations between them despite a bilateral trade relationship of over $220 billion in 2013 and notwithstanding the current honeymoon in Sino-ROK relations under Xi and Park. Beijing probably believes that time and the forces of economic interdependence are on its side.
Not at the North’s expense
A commentary in Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua on 3 July said: “China and South Korea are natural and major stakeholders in the Korean Peninsula issue,” adding, “against such a gloomy background, it is highly advisable and imperative that Seoul work hand in hand with Beijing to enhance coordination in regional affairs.”
The People’s Republic of China has had diplomatic relations with Seoul since 1992, but its business ties to South Korea date back another decade. And South Korean business leaders met with Xi in force on 4 July, investing heavily in Northeast China.
China under Mao Zedong saved Kim Jong-un’s grandfather from certain defeat at the hands of UN forces led by General MacArthur during the 1950-1953 Korean War (still known in China as the “War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea”) by preventing the advance of allied forces to the China-North Korean border at the Yalu River and fighting to a stalemate.
Analysts say that although North Korea saw China’s normalisation of relations with South Korea in 1992 as a betrayal, and Sino-South Korean trade is now almost 40 times larger than its trade with North Korea, China has not allowed its 1961 security commitment to North Korea to lapse. Neither has Beijing withdrawn its extensive economic assistance or political support for North Korea.
Even in the aftermath of North Korea’s 2010 shelling of South Korean islands, Beijing protected North Korea from international condemnation of those actions at the United Nations.
No doubt, Xi’s Seoul visit is a powerful expression of his displeasure with North Korea’s direction under Kim Jong-un but despite Beijing’s symbolic chastening of Pyongyang and stories that China has cut its export of oil to North Korea, China still places maintenance of North Korea’s stability as a top priority.
Seoul’s China perception improving
“Non-collapse of North Korea remains paramount for Beijing. It will never dance to Washington’s tune, much less Seoul’s,” said Aidan Foster-Carter, an expert in both Koreas and honorary senior research fellow at Leeds University in the U.K.
South Korea, which relies on the U.S. for its defense from North Korean attack, is also eager to emphasize that its closeness to Beijing doesn’t come at the expense of its defence alliance with the U.S., which stations 28,500 troops in the country.
South Korea’s public perception of China and its products are steadily improving due in large part to the efforts of their leaders to forge better ties. “The favorability of China is currently at its highest point, and the 2014 summit will drive that number higher,” said the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
There was a favourable perception of China also on the issue of security cooperation, an indication of growing expectations for Beijing to take a major role on easing regional tensions surrounding the North’s arms programme, Asan said.
Two-thirds of about 2,100 South Koreans polled recently by Asan said ties with China have improved since Park took office early last year.
The writer is Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva.
Women and human rights activists, community leaders, civil society organizations (CSOs), governments including the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, development partners and international organizations, journalists of different countries including Bangladesh joined the ‘Girl Summit 2014’ in London to have a fruitful discussion on how to end two of the worst human rights violations in the lives of our daughters.
It is estimated that14 million girls are married before the age of 18 every year in the globe. Especially in developing countries one in three girls is married off by 18. 125 million women and girls alive today who have been forced to undergo horror of female genital mutilation. These practices expose women and girls to serious health risks and perpetuate a cycle of poverty for families, communities, as well as all the nations. Though these harmful, inhuman practices are condemned globally, very little has been done to stop them.
The Girl Summit 2014 in London, experts hope that, will be an effective and perfect platform to make commitments from the hearts to make a real change for women and girls. All of the global activists must explore the comprehensive efforts to prevent and mitigate the harmful effects of these practices both child marriage and female genital mutilation. It urgently requires political will and financial commitment to scale up effective programmes.
The Girl Summit 2014 of this year is being hosted by the government of United Kingdom and UNICEF. It aims to secure substantial commitments from heads of state, national and international organizations, key stake holders, development partners as well as both print and electronic media worldwide. The organizers hope that the Summit will bring much-needed financial and technical resources to the effort, as well as pledges from governments and civil society to work together in more strategic ways. It will encourage the girls to work by themselves also to ensure that all the girls of the world are safe as they expect and deserve according the Human Rights Convention of the United Nations and the national Constitution of every state.
Therefore, to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) beyond 2015, let the dreams of girl children come true. Let our girls and women enjoy a healthy, wealthy, empowered and prosperous life like the boys and men enjoy.
Problem of child marriage
Research shows that Bangladesh has the fourth highest rate of child marriage in the world. 64 per cent of girls are married before the age of 18, which is not only a significant violation of the human rights of girls in Bangladesh, but it has also been a key barrier to achieving 6 of the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). By the end of 2013, over half of the 3.7 million Bangladeshi women between 20 and 24 were married before they were 18.
Bangladesh National Girl Child Advocacy Forum organized a round table titled “Child Marriage Restraint Act (Draft) – 2013: Present Situation” recently. The discussants at the roundtable made a call for joining hands of all stakeholders to combat child marriage in Bangladesh and enact the laws ‘Child Marriage Restraint Act (Draft) 2013’ as soon as possible for the improvement of lives of girl children in Bangladesh.
The discussants of the roundtable added that child marriage is an immature marriage where young girls are compelled to the relationship, which has a negative impact on their mental and reproductive health. So, birth registration must be ensured of a girl child within 45 days of her birth to combat child marriage. It is not possible to prevent child marriage without ensuring proper safety and security of the girls.
Girls who are victims of child marriage deliver children while they are still children and that puts them at risk of death or suffering for the rest of their lives. They are more likely to be poor and stay poor. Forced marriage victims can suffer physical, psychological, emotional, financial and sexual abuse. Child marriage and subsequent early pregnancies create health risks for women.
Collective approach is essential to reduce child marriage. Local administration, media, representatives of local government, national parliament, NGOs, civil society organizations, women and human rights activists, and law enforcing agencies should work together through coordinated and integrated way. There are lots of loopholes in the law, so we should identify all the loopholes to combat child marriage. The responsibility and accountability of marriage registrars should be ensured to prevent child marriage. Scouts and Girls guides of all the educational institutions should be engaged to campaign against child marriage nationally as part of a social movement.