By the early 1990s it seemed that significant progress had been made to reach agreements in what were considered to be the world’s three main political hotspots – Northern Ireland, Palestine and South Africa. Several decades of liberation struggles were suddenly catapulted towards real possibilities for attaining the end-goal. This was largely due to a changed international political climate arising from the collapse of the USSR and its satellite states in Eastern Europe, effectively putting an end to the Cold War. Negotiated agreements between enemies was the order of the day resulting in South Africa having its first democratic elections in April 1994 and coinciding with the signing of the Oslo Accords between the PLO and Israel. The Oslo Accords ensured Israel’s recognition of the PLO as the official representative of the Palestinian people accompanied by the establishment of a Palestinian Authority (PA), effectively institutionalising Israel’s colonial occupation over the Palestinian people and land with the PLO’s collaboration and a surrogate state, the PA.
South Africa’s pro-Palestine movement - struggling to repay the anti-Apartheid solidarity debt
- 01 October 2015
- Martin Jansen
The right of return; a forgotten issue
- 01 September 2015
- Dr Ghada Karmi
No issue has been so much at the heart of the Palestine cause, or so resistant to resolution, as the right of return. Palestinians world wide see it as the basis of their case. Enshrined in international law and historical precedent, it has acquired an almost sacred quality for Palestinians, an untouchable right that no one can dispute. Generations of refugees have been reared on the expectation of return to their homeland. Their position derives not only from natural justice, but is also underpinned legally by UN Resolution 194, passed by the General Assembly in December 1948. It called on the newly-formed Israeli state to repatriate the displaced Palestinians “wishing to live in peace with their neighbours... at the earliest practicable date”, and to compensate them for their losses. A Conciliation Commission was set up to oversee the repatriation of the returnees. Though never implemented and frequently ignored since then, Resolution 194 has remained the legal basis for the “right of return”.
Israel shows its true colours as use of the A-word increases
- 01 August 2015
- Chris McGreal
It's difficult to say exactly when the taboo was broken.
Was it when former US President Jimmy Carter put the word "apartheid" in the title of his book to sound a warning to Israel? Was it when South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the situation in the Palestinian territories struck him as worse than the white racist regime he'd lived under? Or was it when the A-word began spilling from the lips of former Israeli prime ministers?
Turkey's growing unease about the consequences of the Syrian crisis
- 01 July 2015
- Professor Özden Zeynep Oktav
Syria was once the jewel in the crown of Turkey's "zero problems with neighbours" policy. However, the Arab Spring and Syrian revolution not only devastated that policy but also led to a big economic burden stemming from an ever-increasing number of Syrian refugees fleeing from the brutal violence and crossing into Turkey. The Syrian crisis also crystallised Turkey's Achilles' heel, Kurdish separatism, and the Sunni-Alawite split as the spillover effect of the Syrian conflict became more and more evident with the appearance of new, and unwelcome, neighbours along the 900 km border: the Jihadist groups Al-Nusra Front, ISIS and the Democratic Union Party ("Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat" or PYD, the Syrian branch of the PKK).
Resentment, anger and violence
- 01 June 2015
- Prof George Joffé
The outcome of the 'Arab Spring' or 'Arab Awakening', as many inside the region prefer to call it, has been very different from the original expectations of those who had been involved in the massive popular demonstrations that started it off. Rather than radical or even revolutionary democratic change, to enshrine the demands for 'bread, freedom and dignity' in constitutional principle, the result has been violence, chaos and, in some cases, a renewal of autocracy or civil war. Only in Tunisia and, perhaps, in Morocco, have the hopes for democratic transition been fulfilled and then only in part. Tunisia's experiment is threatened by violent extremism and, in Morocco, the royal palace has managed to preserve its dominant position inside the political scene despite constitutional change. It is a record that, inevitably, demands an answer to the question, "But what went wrong?"