The blade the bullet and the bomb know no morality, they have one purpose only, to kill and injure. Those who wield these weapons of destruction have choices; they are moral beings who have chosen the way of violence. This choice is informed by their beliefs and their beliefs informed by their chosen cause or ideology; or both.

If choosing the way of violence is based upon an extreme ideology then they have adopted an uncompromising  view of the world and how it should be ordered which requires them, and their co-believers, to spare nothing or no one in pursuit of their ultimate aims; barbarity is unleashed, violence spirals and any semblance of humanity abandoned; they appropriate for themselves the appearance of an irresistible force. However, as in the paradoxical proposition “What will happen if an irresistible force meets and immovable object?” nothing in nature is absolutely irresistible and nothing is absolutely immovable. In the gritty realities of power struggles action and reaction happen by degrees and each mirrors the worst aspects of the other and thus violence breeds violence “Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” (From the Christian Gospel)

Am I describing Daesh? I could also be describing Cromwell’s Model Army in the England of 1640s or Fascist regimes in Europe in the 1930s and 40s. All believed themselves invincible all were ultimately vanquished. Their legacy was and is more violence. Violence breeds violence.

(Quote)”The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy, instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. Through violence you may murder the liar, but you cannot murder the lie, nor establish the truth. Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that”. Martin Luther King Junior

Plato said, “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”

Violence breeds violence and its siblings are: vengeance, reprisal and retaliation. Governments, as well as individuals, adopt these siblings and unleash them at will.  To break the spiral of violence we must contend with these forces of vengeance and violence at their root cause.

All wars end. Either through attrition, intervention, diplomacy or capitulation conflicts cease. But the end of conflict is rarely the beginning of a sustainable peace; too often the end of fighting is merely the impression of peace when in reality it is an armed truce vacillating between possible futures.

For years, America the UK and their allies have appropriated to themselves the mantle of a global, interventionist morality. This policy has been seen by many as either little too late or at worst disastrous for all concerned. For the first time in modern history the consequence of this deeply flawed morality has brought the victims of intervention, in seemingly overwhelming numbers, onto their shores and into their streets. Traumatised, at times half dead, physically and psychologically scarred, starving and despairing they are as much the West’s casualties as any of our armed forces killed or injured in recent wars. Violence breeds violence.

From the violence suffered by traumatised refugees coming to our shores, a new violent reaction is being embodied in the resurgence of reactionary, populist political forces in America, Europe and elsewhere. The populist slogans they scream and chant are a repudiation of the so called liberal, democratic values which have dominated international discourse since 1989. These new forces are indifferent or opposed to any assertion of international morality. They will use violence (rhetorically and actual) to secure their nation’s borders, engender a patriotic siege mentality and practice isolationism from global intervention; rather than try and do intervention better they prefer not to do it at all.

In the Levant, Western influence has waned and is seen as fatally flawed, other regional powers have filled the vacuum but they have historical and ideological agendas which are inimical to the West.

The West, meanwhile, is verging on economic bankruptcy; the UN is also deprived of funds and in thrall to the Security Council, the new American regime is inexperienced and lacks credibility and Europe is fragmenting as a political project. Western intervention seems to be reduced to targeted military strikes in the Levant and anxiety about trade deals elsewhere. The West seems gripped by a moral inertia. So from where will arise new energy for global conciliation and rapprochement come? Russia, China, Turkey, India? Are we in a diplomatic winter?

(Quote from Quran)  “There is no good in most of their secret talks save (except) (in) him who orders Sadaqah (charity in Allah’s Cause), or Maa‘roof (Islamic Monotheism and all the good and righteous deeds which Allah has ordained), or conciliation between mankind; and he who does this, seeking the good Pleasure of Allah, We shall give him a great reward” (Quran, Surah An-Nisaa, 114)

If the Great Reward goes to the conciliators of this world (“Blessed are the Peace makers” Quote from Christian scriptures) then we need an uprising of peacemakers and an army of reconcilers. (The Aramea Foundation, NCF, IoC?). We need a coalition of the willing who will work tirelessly and sacrificially for Peace; demanding a renewal of ethically based foreign policies, a renewal of internationalism, reaching out to enemies and bringing light to the darkest places.

As a person of faith I know faith’s shortcomings but I also know its power to inspire and transform lives and situations and to give vision and hope to humanity in its days of darkness:  “To turn spears into pruning hooks and where people will study war no more” (Quote from Jewish Scriptures).

Faith must play a significant role in post conflict Syria and Iraq, Syria and Iraq will also need all the goodwill that can be mustered and a Marshall type plan of economic and civic reconstruction unprecedented in modern times. This is the cost of the West’s repentance and the East’s intransigence and the Middle East’s incoherence.

Within any plans for the possible futures in the war torn areas of the Levant, their  must be a plan for  the future of Jerusalem, that city set on a hill which is the rallying point for so much human longing for God.

May we find new hope, new vision and new determination to shape a future where it is not the dead who see an end to war, but the living.

 

Fr Larry Wright

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The Next Century Foundation at the United Nations – Intervention on Discrimination and Intolerance against Women

The Next Century Foundation took part in the 36th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. During the General Debate on Item 9 “Racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related forms of intolerance” the NCF delivered an oral intervention on the issue of gender discrimination in the Arab States urging them to take the necessary steps in order to improve women’s conditions, following the recent example of Bahrain.

International Holocaust Day: #neveragain?

Today we remember the Holocaust, a genocide under the Nazi’s which killed an estimated six million Jewish people, two million Romani people, a quarter of a million mentally and physically disabled people and nine thousand homosexual men. Today we honour the memory of these individuals; their personalities, their stories, their hopes, passions and talents, all of which were robbed from them, and replaced with just a number. These individuals were crushed in the name of an ideology, a vision of a pure race and control of a nation.

When the Nazi’s came to power in Germany in 1933, there were large Jewish populations living in Eastern and Western Europe. In the East, Jewish communities were a minority, and kept to their own language, Yiddish, and culture, although younger Jews were beginning to adopt more modern ways to dress. In the West, Jewish communities made up a much smaller percentage of the population and tended to adopt the culture of their non-Jewish neighbours, in dress, language and culture. Jews were found in all walks of European life; some rich, although many poor. They were farmers, tailors, accountants and doctors. And then they were victims.

The Holocaust has significant contemporary relevance and learning from the mistakes made in history should prevent us from making these same mistakes again.

But we haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. Before the Holocaust, countries had the chance to welcome Jewish refugees into their countries, instead, many tightened immigration restrictions. Today, we continue to shut our borders on those who are seeking freedom from persecution, war and terror. Millions of refugees are currently stuck in transit in Europe. Refugees suffer at the hands of political inaction and a discourse controlled by policy makers which separates ‘us’ from ‘them’. As President Trump begins his time in power, he intends to build a physical wall to prevent migrants crossing the border from Mexico.

We haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. The recent closure of the ‘Jungle’ refugee camp in Calais left unaccompanied minors with a broken promise. A promise made by the UK to protect them from the cold, the people smugglers, and the many other risks that come with living exposed without the protection of family. The UK took 10,000 Jewish refugees from the Kindertransport before the outbreak of World War Two. That is compared to the 187 Syrian refugees who have been granted asylum in the UK since the outbreak of the war Syria.

We haven’t learnt from our mistakes. History is repeating itself. We said ‘never again’ after the Holocaust. We said ‘never again’ after the Bangladesh Genocide in 1971, the Rwandan Genocide of 1972 and 1994. We said ‘never again’ after the Bosnian Genocide of 1992. And we think we can say ‘never again’ after the loss of so many civilian lives in Aleppo, this year?

We must stop history repeating itself and we must take lessons away from these horrific events. International Holocaust Day give us this opportunity. We must remember the value and the memory of every individual that died in the Holocaust. We must learn to stand up and for what is right, we must defend the rights of minority and persecuted groups. We must have more sympathy towards refugees and not turn away from their cries for help.

Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis

The relentless conflict in Yemen continues to devastate the lives of civilians, following the breakdown of the latest ceasefire between the Houthi rebels and the Saudi-led coalition.

The fleeting 48-hour truce ended without extension on the 21st November after both sides accused each other of violating the peace, and failed to reach a diplomatic agreement. This marks the latest in a series of failed UN and US-led attempts to end the violence and destruction that has ravaged the country since early 2015.

The war in Yemen has unleashed a humanitarian crisis of critical proportions, resulting in at least 10,000 deaths and displacing around 3 million people from their homes. Recent conservative estimates suggest at least 21.2 million people, or 82% of Yemen’s total population, are in need of humanitarian aid amid worsening food and water shortages.

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According to UNICEF some 1.5 million Yemeni children are suffering acute malnutrition or starvation, and millions of women and children must walk long distances every day to access the little clean water that is available. On top of this, rapidly spreading outbreaks of cholera and measles have put countless more lives in danger.

The humanitarian situation has been compounded by the imposition of an air and naval blockade by Saudi Arabia. This has restricted Yemen’s regular food and fuel imports, and crucially reduced accessibility for the numerous aid agencies attempting to deliver life-saving food, water and medical supplies.

Meanwhile, Saudi-led airstrikes have repeatedly violated international humanitarian law by targeting civilian infrastructure such as hospitals. A recent World Health Organisation survey found that just 45% of Yemen’s health facilities are fully-functional and accessible, while over half have been severely damaged or destroyed as a result of the conflict. Doctors and medical workers have repeatedly been driven out of hospitals due to safety concerns, and there is a desperate shortage of fuel for ambulances. The conflict has crippled Yemen’s health infrastructure and consequently restricted access to basic healthcare for millions of people in need.

As a consequence of these conditions, despite their best efforts, aid agencies and NGOs operating in Yemen – including the International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, Oxfam and UNICEF – have been significantly hindered in their attempts to alleviate the anguish of Yemeni civilians.

Amidst such terrible suffering, it is vital for both sides of the conflict to respect international humanitarian law and protect civilians from harm. According to the UNHCR almost 181,000 people have fled war-torn Yemen to seek refuge in neighbouring countries; for those who have no means of escaping the violence, the future looks bleak unless a peaceful diplomatic solution can be reached.

Amy Simon 30/11/16

Yemen Attacks – Hypocrisy Personified

Saudi Arabia has spent billions of dollars on arms in its campaign against Yemen – including drones, rockets, bombs and missiles – with a large proportion of it coming from the US and the UK. The supplying of such weapons has totally compromised the two governments’ ability to promote peaceful solutions to the attacks on Yemen, and the crocodile tears they have been shedding for its 21.2 million people have gone on long enough. Quietly fuelling such devastating attacks on innocent civilians needs to be translated into physical actions by the US and UK, which unfortunately thus far can only be reflected in the mere 12% of the United Nation’s estimated funding of $1.8 billion needed to help the people of Yemen. Instead of fulfilling their own self-interest, America and the United Kingdom need to reattach their moral compass and place the starving people of Yemen onto their humanitarian radar. The calling of a ceasefire within hours of a Saudi air raid on the 8th of October, killing 140 innocent civilians with a American-made bomb, by the UK’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and the US Secretary of State John Kerry is simply not good enough. Complete diplomatic neglect from America and the United Kingdom has fuelled the conflict between Saudi Arabia and Yemen to a humanitarian crisis on a similar level to modern-day Aleppo. The absolute hypocrisy of Britain, who has recently publicly condemned Russia’s backing of haphazard Syrian bombing, to only simply take the investigation of Saudi’s involvement in this (and previous) attacks on Yemen as they decide their future policy of allowing arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Additionally, the lack of publicity given to the American missile attack on three radar sites controlled by the Houthi movement in Yemen has allowed this issue to be completely swept under the carpet during the entirety of the presidential debate. The selling of arms by the US to Saudi Arabia has totalled $110 billion since Obama assumed office, and has recently confirmed further deals of $1.15 billion in the near future. The UK’s current Prime Minister, Theresa May, has inexplicably stated that the selling of weapons to Saudi Arabia helps to “keep the people on the streets of Britain safe”. The blatant disregard for the innocent lives lost as a direct consequence of such deals reveals to us the extent of the UK’s and America’s utter indifference for the people of Yemen.

Shying away from directly addressing why the British and American government has not done more the stop the Saudi attacks on Yemen is unforgivable, and a greater sense of international justice and cohesion should be shed upon the hypocrisy of the two biggest supposed supporters of basic human rights.

Ellie Davies

اليمن الحزين

اليمن أو كما تعرف بالجمهوريه اليمنيه، دوله اسلاميه عربيه تقع في جنوبي شبه الجزيرة العربية في الجنوب الغربي من قارة آسيا و يبلغ عدد سكانها 26,687,000 نسمة. اليمن تشتهر بوجود الكثير من الموارد الطبيعية اللتي لم تستغل حتى يومنا هذا و من أهم هذه الموارد النحاس، الذهب، الرصاص، النيكل، الفحم ،الملح و الأسماك. أيضا تشتهر بزراعة الخضروات، الذرة و القطن. كما تعمل على تصدير البعض من مواردها و ما يزرع في أراضيها كالخضار و القطن و أيضا الأسماك المجففة و الجلود. كما تشتهر اليمن بجمال الصناعات الحرفيه اللتي تنتجها و ذلك لتعدد المواد الخام المتوفره هناك و الفطره الفنيه اللتي يمتلكها شعب اليمن اللتي تسمح لهم بالاحتراف في هذا المجال

في السنوات الأخيره بدأت اليمن بمعاناة الحرب على كرسي السلطة و عاش شعبها جميع أنواع الترهيب و من أهم ماتعرضو له القتل و تدمير ممتلكاتها و بعض الاماكن الاثريه، أيضا تم قطع الطرق و قطع البترول و الغاز و قطع الكهرباء عن أغلب المدن اليمنيه و تحديدا اللتي تتميز بكثرة سكانها. الشعب اليمني يعاني من تنظيم القاعده،داعش (تنظيم الدولة الاسلامية) و أيضا من الحوثيين ومن الحروب الأهليه و القبليه. لكن رغم جميع مايحدث بقي الشعب اليمني صامدا و كما عرف عنه شعب عظيم يستطيع مواجهة أيا كان مايتعرض له و لكن الوضع اليمني مع مرور الزمن يصبح أسوأ مما قبل حتى مع التدخلات و التحالفات العربيه اللتي تساهم في تحرير اليمن من الجماعات الإرهابيه اللتي تحتل اليمن ، و لكن هذه التحالفات أيضا تسهم في دمار و قتل بعض المدنيين الأبرياء اللذين لا دخل لهم في الجماعات الإرهابيه ولا يحملون الأسلحه و اللذين يتواجدون في مناطق الصراع، و هذا مايسمى بخسائر الحروب

الأطفال يعانون الخوف من الذهاب للمدارس و اتمام تعليمهم مما سيؤدي إلى ارتفاع نسبة الأميين في اليمن، بعض الدراسات توضح أن نسبة الأميين في اليمن قبل الانقلاب 59.4% و مع الاوضاع اليمنيه الحاليه ستصبح النسبه أعلى بكثير عن السابق ، سيكون تأثير ارتفاع نسبة الأميين في اليمن سلبي بشكل واضح و ذلك لعدم تمكن الجيل القادم من بناء حضاره و مستقبل يسهم في استعادة الأمن و السلام و التطور في اليمن مما سيؤدي إلى استمرار الأعمال الإرهابيه و تكوين الجماعات الإرهابيه في اليمن لتصبح مركزا و مقرا للإرهاب لعدم وجود العلم المطلوب مستقبلا. الأعمال اللتي تتطلب العلم لن تتطور كالطب و الهندسه و القانون مما سيسبب فوضى تضاف إلى ما يحدث من حروب أهليه و أعمال ارهابيه. أصبح البعض من شعبها يلجأ الى الالتحاق للجماعات الإرهابيه لتوفير المصروف المعيشي و ذلك لصعوبة الحصول على عمل في اليمن و بسبب عدم حصول الأغلبيه من الشعب على الشهادات المطلوبه المؤهله للعمل في بعض الأماكن، بشكل خاص الاطفال اللذين يشاركون تلك الجماعات مايقومون به و يجبرون على القتل و رؤية المناظر المؤثره اللتي قد تميت معنى الطفوله و تميت طيبة قلوبهم و برائتهم فتجعلهم يعتادون على القسوه و القتل و في بعض الاحيان تصل في هذه الجماعات تعليم الصغار في السن قتل والديهم

الحصول على عمل في اليمن أصبح أمر في غاية الصعوبه حيث تم إغلاق أغلب المتاجر و المنشآت الصناعيه و تم تسريح عدد كبير من العاملين و من تبقى منهم يحصل على ما يقارب 45% من الراتب الاعتيادي و ذلك قد تسبب في خسائر كبيره في الاقتصاد اليمني و ارتفاع نسبة البطاله في البلد وأيضا سيسهم بانخفاض نسبة الانتاج المحلي بشكل كبير

بعدما كانت اليمن الدوله اللتي يلجئ إليها اللاجئون و اللذين يبحثون عن وطن أصبح شعبها يبحث عن أرض مسالمه و وطن آمن مستقر يلجأون له. أصبح ذلك الشعب يعاني من الفقر و الجفاف و من جميع أنواع الترهيب كالقتل و الدمار. ذلك أسهم إلى انتشار ظاهرة النزوح الداخلي في البلد حيث اصبحت العوائل و الشباب يبحثون عن مدن آمنه و مدن تتوفر فيها الأعمال اللتي يستطيع من خلالها النازحين توفير المصاريف الأساسيه لشراء الغذاء و توفير الاحتياجات الأساسيه فالنازحين بحاجه لأساسيات أخرى غير الغذاء كالأدويه و الماء. أوضحت بعض التقارير بأن مايقارب 80% من الشعب اليمني أصبح بحاجه ماسه إلى المعونات الانسانيه للتمكن من الاستمرار بالعيش و تزداد الاحتياجات بكثره للغذاء و الماء و الأدويه و الصرف الصحي

الشعب اليمني أصبح يعاني من الفقر الحاد، اللذين كانو في السابق في حالة سيئه و وضع اجتماعي سيء أصبح وضعهم ضعف السوء و أصبحو يحصلون على معوناتهم بصعوبه تامه و أصبح ذوي الطبقه المتوسطه أيضا في حاله مزريه خاصة من يملكون الأراضي و المدخرات اللي تم تدميرها و خسارتها من دون أي تعويضات. أما رجال الأعمال و أصحاب المناصب العاليه فقد تسببو بخسائرماليه طائله بعد مغادرتهم اليمن و سحب أموالهم و ممتلكاتهم من اليمن و ذلك أيضا تسبب بتوقف الأعمال في اليمن

نعم اليمن الحزين، نعم الشعب الذي عانى الكثير و عاش الكثير و خسر الكثير. الشعب اليمني واجه الكثير من الحروب الأهليه و القبليه و ثم بدأ معاناة الجماعات الإرهابيه و حرب الحصول على كرسي السلطه. الشعب اليمني يجب أن يكون له صوت يجب أن يتوحد من أجل الغد و من أجل محاربة أعداء السلام و الحصول على الأمن و الأمان اللذي غاب عن هذا الشعب في السنوات الأخيره. أيضا الدول المجاوره يجب أن تساهم بإرسال المعونات الإنسانيه اللتي يحتاجها الشعب اليمني. اليمن تستحق السلام و تستحق المستقبل الأفضل،اليمن بحاجه لمن يدعم طفلها و يحفظ امرأتها و يكون مأوى لكبيرها. الشعب اليمني يجب أن تكون له حقوق كحقي و حق أي شخص يعيش في أمن و أمان و راحه، يجب أن يحصل هذا الشعب على السعاده اللتي خسرها منذ وقت طويل و أيضا أطفال هذا الشعب يستحقون مستقبل أفضل و يستحقون أن يتعلمو و يفرحو كما يتعلم و يفرح اطفالنا. اليمن و شعب اليمن يستحقون أن تمد لهم يد المساعده بأي شكل من الأشكال و ذلك لأن تلك البلاد قد أوت العديد من النازحين اللذين كان لا مأوى لهم لذلك يجب أن يرد لها الجميل بالمساهمه بإعادة البسمه لشعبها و أراضيها و تلك مسؤولية الجميع

وستبقى قناة "العالم" تنتصر للشعب اليمني بالكلمة والصورة