Scotland’s opportunistic nationalist party leader Alex Salmond is currently pitching for the support of young, disaffected Scots whose anger is diffused between issues like the banking crisis and the Middle East, and is trying to steal some of George Galloway’s thunder. The results are worth pondering. In an extraordinary analysis published at Harry’s Place, Tom Gallagher dissects the wide-ranging peculiarities of Salmond’s new attempt to dismember the United Kingdom by means of an all-out assault essentially based in nihilism. Excerpt :
Salmond hopes to acquire leverage on Capitol Hill that will prove useful in any power-struggle with London over the terms of independence if the SNP’s vision blossoms despite the current polar economic climate. At the same time, he is reaching out to regimes in the Muslim world and looking for an injection of cash for infrastructure projects that will enable him to bypass Whitehall. First Qatar was approached in the hope that an investment fund controlled by its rulers could be persuaded to build bridges and schools in Scotland on a supposedly not-for-profit basis. In the last year, visits by Salmond to Qatar have been described as imminent but they have fallen through perhaps owing to the economic problems now faced by the United Arab emirates. Malaysia is now in the Nationalists’ sights. The Scotsman newspaper on 16 March reported that Osama Saeed, the First Minister’s chief adviser on Islamic issues had made contacts with sovereign wealth funds in Malaysia in the hope that they could be lured to Scotland. He is only recently back from the World Economic Islamic Forum in Jakarta which he attended with other luminaries of his pressure group, the Scottish Islamic Foundation. Osama Saeed does not bother to hide his contacts with Muslim Brotherhood organizations and personalities based in Britain. He has convinced not a few movers and shakers in the tight Scottish political establishment that as someone who disavows violence, he is the acceptable face of radical Islam.
Update: the results of all this are beginning to make the headlines.
At LGF, a further report on a prolonged dispute between U.S. web sites throws light on the Internet activity of pro-Putin and pro-Serb nationalist lobbyists who seek to exploit the Western public’s fears of terrorism in order to gain credibility for their views.
As an LGF commenters points out, perhaps one of the most succinct analyses of this phenomenon was given by a former lieutenant colonel in the Soviet KGB, who in 2007 wrote, among other things:
Americans generally believe that Russia is afraid of Islamic terrorism as much as the U.S.A. They are reminded of the war in Chechnya, the hostage crisis at the Beslan School in 2004 and at the Moscow Theater in 2002, and of the apartment house blasts in Moscow in 1999, where over 200 people were killed. It is clear that Russians are also targets of terrorism today.
But in all these events, the participation of the FSB, Federal Security Service, inheritor to the KGB, is also clear. Their involvement in the Moscow blasts has been proven by lawyer Mikhail Trepashkin, a former FSB Colonel. For this he was illegally imprisoned, and is now suffering torture and deprivation of medical assistance, from which he is not likely to survive.
A key distinction between Russian and American attitudes towards Islamic terrorism is that while for America terrorism is largely seen as an exterior menace, Russia uses terrorism as an object as a tool of the state for manipulation in and outside the home country. Islamic terrorism is only part of the world of terrorism. Long before Islamic terrorism became a global threat, the KGB had used terrorism to facilitate the victory of world Communism.
With reports continuing to be published confirming the presence of ethnic cleansing in South Ossetia and adjacent districts of Georgia, there are disturbing accounts of Russian and South Ossetian forces having set up concentration or “detention” camps for civilians in the region. These camps appear to be similar in design and purpose to those created by Serb forces in Serb-controlled areas of Bosnia/Herzegovina during the Balkan wars pf the 1990s.
There are also reports, now being published by Human Rights Watch, which point to other atrocities. Tom Porteous, HRW’s London director, writes in an op-ed article published in the Guardian newspaper and on the HRW web site: “At the outset of this war, the Georgian military used indiscriminate and disproportionate force resulting in civilian deaths in South Ossetia. The Russian military has since used indiscriminate force in attacks in South Ossetia and in the Gori district, and has apparently targeted convoys of civilians, killing and wounding them as they have attempted to flee the conflict zones.”
Porteous suggests that it may be time for the European Union to launch a civilian protection missionto complement and follow up the French-brokered ceasefire that has already been declared:
In the past half decade the EU has deployed almost 20 missions under its European security and defence policy (ESDP). These have included full-blown military operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Bosnia, border-monitoring operations in Moldova and on the Gaza/Egypt border, ceasefire monitoring in Aceh in Indonesia, “security sector reform” missions in the Balkans, West Bank, Iraq and Afghanistan, and a civilian protection mission in Chad. In 2004, Brussels even despatched a civilian ESDP mission to Georgia to help the Georgian government to strengthen the rule of law.
An ESDP mission has three obvious advantages in the current crisis in Georgia. First, it is easier and faster to deploy than a UN mission: time is of the essence in the current crisis. Second, it is not threatening and therefore stands a chance of being accepted by the Russians. In this context it should be made clear that any European deployment would have limited aims: it would most definitely not aim to take over from the existing peacekeeping arrangements in South Ossetia and Abkhazia but would assist Russia to withdraw in an orderly manner from those areas it agreed to withdraw from under the latest ceasefire agreement. Third, the EU is now reasonably experienced in the areas of “soft security” – border monitoring, policing and police training, civilian protection, strengthening rule of law – that an ESDP mission is likely to have to deal with in Georgia
The concluding paragraph of a commentary published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty puts the matter succinctly enough:
In Kosovo, the international community was left with no option but to intervene to stop the ethnic cleansing of Kosovar Albanians by the Serbian regime. Kosovo was recognized as an independent state given its status within the Yugoslav Federation and fulfillment of international criteria for recognition. By contrast, Russian involvement in South Ossetia over the course of the last decade, and in particular its intervention during this past week, has resulted in mass ethnic cleansing and a blatant violation of Georgia’s territorial integrity.
In the aftermath of the assassination in London of the British citizen Alexander Litvinenko, the claims that the British television presenter Jill Dando was in fact killed by a Serbian hitman begin to make more sense – particularly in view of yesterday’s acquittal of Barry George, and the upcoming war crimes trial of Radovan Karadzic at the Hague. In 2001 the Independent newspaper published an article about the Serbian connection to the case. Excerpt:
Michael Mansfield, QC, who is defending the man accused of her murder, Barry George, told the Old Bailey that there was evidence to suggest that Miss Dando, who was shot dead on the doorstep of her home in south-west London on 26 April 1999, had been a victim of state terrorism. He argued that Ms Dando may have become a target after she presented a television appeal for aid for Kosovan refugees and then days later Nato fired a cruise missile at a television station owned by a relative of Slobodan Milosevic, killing 17 people. Mr Mansfield read out an intelligence report received at the National Criminal Intelligence Service and passed to officers investigating Ms Dando’s shooting.
It stated: “Jill Dando was the subject of an execution by a Yugoslavian hitman. Intelligence sources suggest that as a result of the bombing of a TV station run by the daughters of Milosevic, a contract was put out on the head of the BBC, John Birt.
“As a result of him receiving threatening letters his security was stepped up – after this the target was changed to Jill Dando.”