Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The glass half full or half empty.

The results are in and the candidate for the Islamic Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Morsi, has won the Presidency of Egypt.  It appears to me to be a most fair and orderly run election and the results are the decision of the majority.

The various factions that made up the opposition feel a great sense of loss, but their personal political agendas never seemed to be anywhere near as focused and unified as was the Muslim Brotherhood.  The various members of the old elite had very little in common with the young disenfranchised who took to the streets to lead the revolution in those early days.

The Muslim Brotherhood, on the other hand, seemed content to watch from the sidelines as the truly brave and dangerous confrontations happened around them.   This does not ignore the many decades of repression suffered by millions of members of the Brotherhood over the life of its existence.  They just did not seem to be there in the early days of the push for jobs and social equality.

I believe this is because it was indeed primarily, in those early days, about jobs and social equality.  These were not agenda's primary to the thinking of the Brotherhood.

It was only, as in Tunisia, when the powers that be pushed back too hard and the focus turned to opposing the ruling elite did the Brotherhood find its way to the streets and to add to the opposition.
Then, as victory for the revolutionary factions, joined by the military intervention, and the old ruling elite finally end did the Muslim Brotherhood begin to push aside the early and courageous pioneers of the revolution.

The beginning themes of jobs and social equality also seemed to be forgotten as well.
Now the question before the Egyptian people is, after this most recent election, does the Muslim Brotherhood have a plan or the goal of job creation and social equality.  This will be the paramount problem for the new government going forward.

It was also, in the days just before the Presidential election, that the Supreme Court of Egypt found the recent legislative body to be unconstitutional.  How this too plays out will be of extreme importance to the future of Egypt.

It is widely known that a substantial portion of the Egyptian economy is controlled by the upper echelons of the military.  Besides what is now assumed to be a firm lock on control of the military itself, the generals are also loathe to relinquish control of their vast economic dominion.

Then there is the economic elite who are still in power after the revolution.  Much of the financial wealth is controlled by but a few.  Between the elite and the military the economic levers seem to have not changed much even after the revolution.

The political, economic, military and social control of Egypt are all in a great state of flux.  The decisions made at this time and the future course for these four goals are of extreme importance to the success of a more open and economically viable Egypt.

And it goes almost without saying that the groups least likely to have a voice in the great decisions to be made are those few who were the first to step forward to demand jobs and social equality.

But just as the Muslim Brotherhood lived in the shadows of minority status in nation after nation across the Arab world, so too are those early groups of youth and religious minorities to be found in virtually every country across the Arab world.  They are in many ways exactly the same and in many ways could not be more different.

What they do have is the desire to live a life of economic and social advancement.  Just as in the early days of the Muslim Brotherhood, these groups must reach out to their fellow minorities and disenfranchised throughout the Arab world to find common solutions, common voices and the resolve to be found in strength in numbers.

It will, I predict, be this group who will lead sometime in the near future for the unification of many nations of the Arab world.  This I predict will happen even more quickly than calls for such unification by members of the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the region.

In any case, which ever group or groups strive for such unification, those still on the outside looking in, or living in fear of their lives because of their minority status, must be prepared to unite with their fellow minorities to advance and protect the rights of all in any country in which their goals are found in jeopardy.

Reach out now and find those with whom you strive for economic advancement and social equality.  Much can be done in unity and numerical strength.  The new forms of communication make it easy to do.

Gary Tucker

Monday, November 7, 2011

Comments posted by me in the J Post. Nov 7, 2011

There are no circumstances in which Israel will ever allow a completely sovereign Palestinian state in either the West Bank or Gaza. Ever. Meanwhile the various Arab nations surrounding Israel waver on establishing viable democratic governments.
So to have what could only be described as Israel's best chance for regional peace is to consider a few truly new options.
First stop the charade of wanting a separate Palestinian nation in the West Bank. Annex it and get it over with. You can only run the 3 card monte scam for just a little bit longer. Also work with Jordan to raise the level of the Dead Sea to minus 1000 feet. Again seriously. Move a few small towns, Make Jericho a coastal city and create a natural barrier against land invasion from that quarter forever.
Second. Peace in Gaza. Egypt is not the answer. Neither is an independent Gaza. Instead use every connection, PR outlet, toady who will listen and just plain force of will to suggest and then allow Gaza to become the 82nd province or ili of Turkey. Seriously. NATO member, same political ideology and allowing Turkey a permanent enclave in that region of the Mediterranean. The Turkish ego would fall all over that. In exchange for that Turkey would stop the missiles and tunnels and flood Gaza with development. Virtually overnight is my guess. Is it really that hard for you?
Third. Use those same channels of persuasion to have the Arab world ponder deep and hard the unification of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Syria, Lebanon and Sunni/Kurdish Iraq. The groundswell for something like that would also neutralize Iran for a generation. There are better options than bombing them back to Xerxes I. Try a few. You are NEVER going to get a better chance to wink and smile at the possibility of a genuine sectarian democratic Arab neighbor to be at your border. The chance of those countries unified as one being economically and politically successful so far outweighs the chances for any of them on their own it is not even debatable. Egypt's current path? Not looking good. And did I mention Iran?
Israel's land for peace offer for that is everything south of the 30th parallel to the newly unified nation. For that, what, fifty thousand Israelis max would have to consider relocation? Have you ever seriously considered what the non contiguous geographic division of North Africa and the Middle East by Israel sub consciously does to the average Arab? Hebrew heritage for 3000 years has been temples and building sites. Arab heritage for 3000 years has been unfettered overland travel throughout the Arab world. This has been denied since 1947. Has that ever occurred to you as perhaps the root cause of Arab hatred? Seriously never? It sure has not been their undying love of the average Palestinian in the street.
Get out of the rut of 60 years of go nowhere policies and ideas. Think so far outside the box you even surprise yourselves.
You consider those three scenarios and everyone in the region will be running so fast to keep up with events for the next decade or so that the existence of Israel will be a distant distraction. You like to think of yourself as creative. Here is your chance to really show that you can be creative. Or at least listen creatively to a few new ideas.
Los Angeles.

Monday, October 17, 2011

David Milibank, UK MP. Comments by me about Gaza on his website.

It is time to look for alternatives that are in the best long term interest of Gaza, the West Bank and the Palestinian diaspora. It is time to also look for alternatives that are in the best interest of all the other players in the region. Not bandages but real long term solutions.
For Gaza and Gaza alone I suggest that they consider applying to become the 82nd province or IL of Turkey.
Consider the dynamics. Gaza and the West Bank united as a completely sovereign and independent single country and all the diaspora home and enjoying massive prosperity? Not in my lifetime.
The solutions for the people of Gaza and the people of the West Bank are just not the same. Square pegs in a round hole and it is time to stop trying to make it work.
Gaza independent? How has that worked with Israel and Egypt so far? Any change in sight? Time to move on.
Gaza as a part of Egypt? Egypt does not even like to consider the current people of the Sinai as Egyptians.
Perhaps as a part of a unified Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Jordan?. (See http://wadisarabia.blogspot.com ) This would work for the West Bank more than Gaza, if then. Even in this scenario Gaza is a backwater of a backwater and left to its own devices is still a thorn in the side of Israel. A non starter as well.
But as the 82nd province of Turkey? First and foremost from Turkey's point of view any invitation such as that from the people of Gaza would be beyond their wildest hopes. A toe hold in the southwest of the Mediterranean. Priceless.
Into such a prize the country of Turkey would pour all the resources it could bring to bear as quickly as possible.
For Gaza? Immediate end to isolation. Freedom of travel. Influx of development monies and job opportunities that would only grow over time. Development of gas fields off shore could begin almost at once adding yet another source of badly needed jobs and revenues.
As a member in good standing in NATO both the US and EU would be hard pressed to deny Turkey the right to establish a sizable military presence in the province. This both to protect its sovereignty and to ensure the end to attacks from the province against Israel.
Could Israel really say no to this?
The one and only thing that could re direct the entire energies of Gaza away from its obsession with eliminating Israel would be it's obsession with trying to keep up with the ever changing developments in a new and vastly improved Gaza. And Turkey is the only viable alternative to be able to do this to with the blessing of all parties involved.
Language and cultural differences? They Turks are slowly allowing the Kurds and other minorities to enjoy more cultural independence. For a Gaza prize this would seem to be almost a minor annoyance to the Turks.
Politically and on the conservative/liberal scale both Gaza and Turkey seem quite compatible.
As for the rest of the Palestinians in the West Bank and worldwide, the sudden and overwhelming advancement of Palestinians within the Gaza province could actually be their most promising development in decades.
With the Gaza question resolved, many other issues among the various regional factions all of the sudden take on new dynamics. The first and forem
ost two being the resolution of the Hamas/Fatah division. The second is the dramatic drop in the numbers of Palestinians one talks about as still needing to find a solution to their ongoing travails. Whether it be some sort of merger between the West Bank and Jordan with major allowances for land and population shifts or within Israel itself, the much lower numbers make solutions more palatable.
If there is to be, as it should have been all along, some variation on any theme that involves the West Bank merging again with Jordan, the one "land for peace" option never discussed but which would be a boon to all parties is trading "facts on the ground" Israeli sections of the West Bank for a combined West Bank/Jordan receiving Eliat on the Gulf of Aqaba. The numbers of people to be moved from there (or given the choice to stay decide to do so) is unbelievably small. And yet the dynamic of a combined Eliat/Aqaba would become a Crown Jewel not only in Jordan but for the entire Arab world as well. The re opening of a contiguous North Africa/ Middle East land passage would be of a value few can appreciate until it becomes reality.
And again the loss of the Gaza numbers would make all of this possible.
One other quick note, the idea of raising the Dead Sea to a level of -1000 feet instead of its more recently considered elevation would create a natural barrier that would go a long way to allaying Israeli fears not having such a security shield in the Jordan Valley. Again the need to move any amounts of people as opposed to other scenarios is negligible. It would be the movement of a few small towns and the evaporation ponds to higher level that are of most difficulty. Small price to pay again for a lasting peace.
And while I dare say that most of the thrust of thinking in the early stages will be the effects upon Turkey, Palestinian and Israeli dynamics, in the long run I propose that it will actually be the direct presence of a Province of Turkey so close to the current Arab countries involved in the Arab Spring that will be the long term positive factor.
The country of Turkey is held in such high regard throughout the region and on top of providing the miracle that is to become Gaza, Turkey would also become a much closer daily model of what a truly Islamic based democracy can achieve.
No matter what happens in the future in the ever changing world that is the Arab Middle East, the enclave of a Turkic Gaza cannot but help to be a guiding beacon for all of its neighbors.
Perhaps a well planned and executed behind the scenes whisper campaign directed at all the various decision makers of note in the region would be a place to at least start a debate on the subject.
The current powers that be in Gaza perhaps might not like the idea, but presented right I am sure that mothers and fathers and children across the zone would come to view the merits positively and press for its consideration.
I thank you for your time, a forum for which to present the idea and wish you luck in your future endeavors.
Gary L. Tucker

My comments to LA Times article 10/18/2011

The people of Gaza might want to seriously consider an unusual solution to their future. They should think long and hard about becoming the 82nd province of Turkey. Seriously.

Gaza and the West bank as a completely united and totally sovereign advanced nation? Not in my lifetime.

Becoming part of Egypt is also a non starter. Egypts future is in doubt.

Now consider joining Turkey. For Turkey to be invited to establish and then accept such a permanant economic and military presence in the southeast Mediterranean is jut a no brainer. Turkey belongs to NATO so any move on that part would be hard pressed to be countered by the US or the EU. Turkey would be more than capable of establishing a full economic, political and military complex based upon complete sovereinty in Gaza. Cultural differences? Go around them. Israel counter the idea? The solution solves just too many issues.

And nothing diverts attention away from eliminating Israel like Gaza being caught up in creating its own economic miracle. No other non violent solution would give the people of Gaza a sense a resolution with dignity like rapid unparalled dynamic success.

Ironically for the Palestinians of the West Bank and diaspora worldwide, a greatly enhanced Turkic Gaza would be their one true and only long term champion for long term sovereignty and dignified success as well. Embrace it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gaza as a Turkish Province or il?

Perhaps we should consider the possible scenario by which the people of Gaza vote to become the 82nd province of Turkey.
As it stands now Gaza is a small region with no close ties to any of its neighbors. Even Palestinians of the West Bank and the diaspora find no rush to find common ground with the enclave.
The Egyptians do not want it. The Israelis just want it to stop attacking them and then somehow get on with being self sufficient.
And even in the broad outline I have given on the success of a greatly enhanced Arab country in the region, combining Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinians and other potential nation states, somehow Gaza just seems to be the one example of a region that will never join such a union. Too many years of ever expanding hatred and differing political views and tactics.

Into this I step forward and suggest that Turkey offer, and Gaza vote to accept joining Turkey as their 82nd province.

As a province of Turkey, Gaza would come under the defensive shield of the NATO member country. The Turkish armed forces and regional police could go a long way towards stopping any further attacks on Israel.
In the same token, for Turkey to be able to establish large military installations in Gaza to project a presence in the Southeast of the Mediterranean would be a given. As a full fledged and long standing member of NATO this is something the other NATO members would be hard pressed to deny.

To have such a presence in Gaza would be a major mental boost to the people of Gaza who have been in a sense locked up for all these many years.

The current political climate in Turkey is much in tune with the political aspirations of Hamas and others in Gaza. For those in Gaza who are of different political ideals the multi party system of Turkey would also find favor with them.

With Gaza becoming the 82nd province of Turkey, the ability for massive infrastructure and other economic benefits could begin almost before the ink dried on any annexation documents.

It is also Turkey's regional might that would ensure the fair and equitable distribution of offshore gas and oil blocks to the newly expanded off shore economic zone for Turkey.

There would of course be the one major stumbling block to this in that the people of Gaza speak Arabic for the most part while the Turkic language is at home in Turkey. Just as the people of Gaza have learned Hebrew or English or French in the past for economic and educational advancement, so too would a shift to a bilingual Arab/Turkish province.

The most valuable asset that such an idea would bring to the region is the ability to greatly expand the possibilities of success in any future Israeli/Palestinian negotiations. With a Gaza with a new mission, a new direction, a newly found great leap forward economically and mentally, their concerns of either Israel or other Palestinians might fall quickly by the wayside.

As has been shown in the recent days and months of recent, Gaza has no better long term ally than Turkey. Even much more so than Syria or Iran.

For Turkey to annex Gaza and negate the powers of Syria and Iran on Israels western borders by a member of NATO can only find quick and positive response from the people of Israel.

For Turkey to have such an enclave on the southern Mediterranean shores would have no end to the enhancement of Turkey on the world stage. This both in terms of their ability to bring peace to a portion of the decades old regional conflict as well as being part of what could be a very large oil and gas bonanza off shore.

Someone in authority in Turkey or Gaza needs to have this idea brought to their attention and debate begun at once.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Economist article on Jewish settlers might remain in a Palestinian state.

Israeli settlers on the West Bank

Might some stay?

It is conceivable that some Jewish settlers could remain in a Palestinian state

 This is part of the weather

EVERY Friday and often after school on other days, Israeli soldiers fire tear-gas and sonic bombs at the Palestinian children as they approach a spring. It sits in a valley that separates Nabi Saleh, an Arab village of 500 people half an hour’s drive north of Jerusalem, from Halamish, a religious Jewish settlement. On most nights jeeps roll through the village; over the past 18 months the Israeli army has detained 32 of its children, some as young as eleven. Many have been taken from their beds, kept in pre-trial detention for months, and brought to court in shackles, there to be convicted of stone-throwing.

For some of Halamish’s settlers, irritated by the tear-gas that wafts into their living rooms from across the hill, this is not harsh enough. “The soldiers don’t maim enough Palestinians,” complains Iran Segal. A year-and-a-half ago he put up a sign naming the spring after his father, sparking anger among Palestinians who saw the move as a land-grab. Jewish settlers and Palestinians who used to share a nargila (a water-pipe) at the water’s edge now bicker over ownership of the spring’s goldfish. “When we see Arabs heading towards us we start shouting to get the army to shoo them away,” says a 12-year-old settler.

Israel’s army has long presented itself as holding the ring between two fractious communities in the West Bank, Jewish and Arab, living in what Palestinians see as the heartland of their future state. But as pressure on Israel to pull out mounts, some Palestinians and some Jewish settlers have begun to contemplate what the future might hold, if and when the army leaves. The issue is highly topical, not least because of a new law this month to ban many political boycotts, including those aimed at West Bank settlements.

Some views are, on the face of things, surprisingly flexible. A former head of the Israeli prime minister’s office, who lives in Ofra settlement on the West Bank, backs a single state in which Palestinians and Israelis share full political rights. Other settlers have voiced support for the concept of “parallel states”, in which Jews and Arabs would owe their allegiance to separate parliaments but share a single territory and army. Yet others propose that settlers should stay on the West Bank—under Palestinian rule. “It could be a good solution,” says a local councillor, Ziki Kravitz, who hankers for the time when Jewish settlers and Arab villagers attended each other’s weddings, and wonders how he might keep his assets under Palestinian rule.

It would indeed be easier for the Israeli army to withdraw if there were an alternative to the forced evacuation of Jewish settlers. Under a widely touted compromise, some 200,000-plus of them, not counting those in East Jerusalem, might stay inside an adjusted Israeli border (with Palestinians getting equivalent land-swaps elsewhere). But that would still leave a good 80,000 in the West Bank, most of them well-armed religious Zionists who might resist any eviction with guns.

In 2009 the then chief Palestinian negotiator, Ahmed Qurei, told his Israeli counterpart, Tzipi Livni, that Jews would be free to live under Palestinian rule. The present prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, has signalled his interest in such a proposal. “Some settlements will end up beyond Israel’s borders,” he told both houses of Congress in Washington, DC, in May. Some Western diplomats, frustrated by their failure to persuade Israel to stop settlement-building, might also welcome such ideas to salvage a two-state deal.

Yet raising such fundamental questions jangles many nerves. The Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly sought to block joint projects between Jewish settlements and neighbouring Arab villages for fear that co-operation would make the settlers feel more at home.

Nobody knows how many settlers might want to stay. Opinion pollsters have shied away from taking soundings. Some religious leaders among the settlers preach that both secular Jewish and non-Jewish rule are objectionable. They argue that it is more important to stay on what they deem to be Jewish land, even if it falls under a Palestinian government.

Others, however, vow to fight. “As soon as Palestinian police come through those gates, we’ll open fire,” says a pensioner in Halamish, noting that religious Zionists make up 40% of Israel’s combat units. Some hardline Jewish ideologues in isolated outposts talk of carving out their own theocratic state of Judea. “If the army leaves, we’ll declare a Halachic kingdom [ie, one governed by religious law] in the highlands alongside the secular Jewish one on the coast,” says the rabbi of a settlement called Nachliel.

Other tricky questions remain. Would Jews who stay have to take Palestinian citizenship or could they hold dual nationality? Would settlements remain exclusively Jewish or be open to all Palestinian citizens? How would Palestinian courts deal with claims against settlers who live on land taken from Arabs? Most awkward of all, how would a Palestinian government disarm settlers who insisted on retaining self-defence militias?

Yet the readiness to coexist on both sides may be stronger than is often realised. Noam Arnon, who speaks for the Jews in Hebron, the biggest city in the southern part of the West Bank, once cheered total separation, with settlers fiercely defending their homes in urban areas. Today he marches to protest against the erection of separation barriers around Palestinian villages and insists on visiting shops there. “There’s no reason why Jews can’t conduct themselves normally vis-à-vis Palestinians,” he says, “just as we did in the past.”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Revised comments posted to Facebook VOA web page June 22, 2011

Egyptians revolted for better government, the end of cronyism, and equal opportunity for economic advancement. True success requires everyone to realize that the old established mentalities must change. Above all, the time and mental adjustment needed to provide solutions that the various old and new power bases can agree upon is very short. The method needed to kick start such dramatic change is to take the goals of the revolution and add one more key requirement. Egypt, Tunisia, the Libyan rebels, Jordan and the Palestinians need to realize that the most effective solution to all their current problems, reset the mindset of all involved and to move forward is to start now to create one unified country. The decision should be to hold off elections until the possibility of a constitutional framework can be created to accommodate just an expanded sovereign state. The fundamental problems of Egypt today are basically the same as the other four. Egyptians and Tunisians joining the Libyan rebels would provide a local self directed solution to that current conflict. Having Palestinians join with the other 4 nationalities in the creation of one new single sovereign people would perhaps go a long way towards finding a lasting solution to that decades old debacle. Key early decisions such as being a constitutional monarchy, perhaps the first Prime Minister being a Palestinian, the national capital at Al Bayda Libya and a Tunisian as the head of the armed forces are what are going to be needed to make it all truly work. Solutions to current problems then begin to appear almost at once. Send Egyptian police to Libya, Jordan etc to be replace by their counterparts from those areas. The same is true of military personnel from western Libya. A quick effective solution for dealing with all local retribution desires while returning the rule of law to much of the region. For all of the various factions from all the countries to come together to form a constitution agreeable to all would, in my mind, create the sort of document and ideals needed to indeed move forward. I think the idea of the Egyptian, Jordanian, Tunisian et al military elite would jump at the chance to create a single much larger, more effective land, sea and air power. This could shift their primary focus but still allow them to monitor and support civilian rule to take hold. The business elite? The possible end to military and political strife throughout the united country would provide investment and business opportunities only dreamed of in the past. One single common market, currency and freedom of movement would provide job opportunities for millions. And importantly at a rapid pace. Even the promise of such a united country might also provide the Syrians with a viable alternative to the Assad family and the uncertainty of what would replace such a regime. Again the ability to move government and military workers to other parts of the expanded country could again defuse what would otherwise be a long and protracted cycle of retribution. Finally it would provide a completely new dynamic to the goals of a Palestinian/Israeli peace initiative. Tinkering with land swaps on both sides of the 1967 line could include instead the provision to swap for everything below the 30th parallel to a newly united country. A single metroplex comprised of Taba, Eilat and Aqaba as a transportation and tourist hub is but one glimpse of the possibilities provided by a newly unified country. The amount of Israelis below the 30th and the fact it is not predominately a part of old Israeli history is a plus. Peer pressure to join with not one but 4 distinct societies to form 1 new one would be hard for the Palestinians to ignore. The integration of the Palestinians into the newly defined single greater nationality and the adapting to the long term goals of the greater good could dramatically alter many of the sticking points so long debated on both sides. Such a united country would also, by sheer numbers, need to establish religious freedom for all and mean it. The opportunity for the Muslim Brotherhood to unite as one across the entire area and to have meaningful participation would most likely bring them on board such an idea and for better or worse indeed facilitate the speed of implimenting the idea. The promise such an enlarged and newly peaceful country and the economic expansion it could provide would also divert millions from focusing on opportunities long denied to the new possibilities in dozens of cities and towns throughout the new country. The most important reason to push for such a solution is again the one first mentioned. It would be a quick and decisive signal that the old regimes, power bases and unequal opportunities were a thing of the past and that everyone was going to need everyone else to indeed rethink, redefine and embrace who they really are and what their true goals are to deliver on the promises of the Arab Spring. It is not looking back through the eyes of someone in January 2012 and seeing if it was a success. It is looking back through the eyes of someone in 2062 and saying this is what changed it all for millions upon millions throughout not only the Arab world but other parts of the entire world as well. Each country in the region owes much of what has happened individually, not to just themselves, but to that common good throughout the region. Don't miss the opportunity to understand and embrace the power of the entire common good.