ORIENTAL REVIEW presents the weekly video updates on international security issues and situation in the hot spots of the world. The films prepared by a group of Russian experts are available on the dedicated Youtube channel and the blog Redivision of the World.
Update 46. September 17-23, 2012
– Protests in Libya
– French publish cartoons of Mohammed but ban nude pics of Kate Middleton: is it a freedom of speech?
– Interview with a Russian blogger El-Murid on what forces loom behind the “Innocence of Muslims” provocation
– Tortured prisoners in Georgia: Russia’s Putin as a scapegoat?
Hot spots of the week
The Syrian government army continues to clear rebel forces from the suburbs of Damascus and other cities. During one such clash in Aleppo over 100 militants were destroyed. It turned out that this opposition consisted of a band of mercenaries from Afghanistan. Thus, because the militant command centers are located outside of Syria it is impossible to finally defeat them. The rebel mass is like a hydra – destruction of one gang of bandits brings forth another, equipped with the latest weapons and trained by Western experts. Meanwhile, Russia has just sent a second aircraft to Syria, carrying humanitarian aid – last week an IL-76 delivered sugar, canned fish and meat, and baby food to Damascus.
A terrible event took place in Afghanistan. The international coalition aircraft bombed militant positions in Laghman province. However, subsequent investigation discovered that there were no militants among the dead. Instead, the shelling claimed lives of seven women who were collecting firewood for sale. Another girl was found dead of a heart attack, and a further nineteen women and children were injured. As we all know, when democracy strikes, it makes no distinction between age and gender.
Protests of the week
The scandal surrounding the film “Innocence of Muslims” took an unexpected and rather illogical turn. Public protests in Islamic countries have just started to settle when France joined the Muslim provocation campaign. Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly, published a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad on Wednesday. The issue’s 75 thousand copies have been swept off the shelves in a matter of hours, and the publisher urgently printed an additional 75 thousand copies. The similarly satirical German magazine Titanic stated that its October issue will also depict a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad on its cover.
Do we need to even mention that such provocation resulted in a new wave of protests? However, this time the U.S., France and Germany have prudently closed their embassies in Islamic countries. Pakistan, where thousands of people took to the streets in anti-Western demonstrations, was hardest hit. A riot of young people went smashing everything in its path, burning six cinemas and two banks. Police were forced to open fire on the crowd, killing 20 people.
The Europeans site struggle for freedom of speech as the reason for their actions. This noble position is surely worthy of respect. Unfortunately, its not very consistent with reality. How else can we explain that while allowing publication of Mohammed cartoons, the French court forbade publishing nude pictures of Kate Middleton? Recall that the paparazzi have recently took pictures of Prince William’s topless wife sunbathing on a private balcony. The incensed Royal family took the French papers to court, which banned publication of the offending pictures. So much for freedom of speech in Europe!
We can’t help but ask, why does the West start a fire in its own house? In search of answers we called on El-Murid, the famous blogger and political analyst:
– Judging by the way things have developed after the film’s release, it was certainly a staged provocation. The biggest beneficiary is the current Democratic administration of the US, because in the most delicate, sensitive stage of the presidential election campaign the provocation allowed it to distract American voters from domestic issues, instead drawing their attention to foreign policy, which as we know is not the strong side of the average American. I believe that the film was created exactly with this purpose in mind, and the Europeans, seeing how well the provocation worked, decided to jump on the band wagon. Specifically, the French did it because Hollande is very bad at keeping his pre-election promises. Another point of view is that it was the Saudis who were behind the scandal, and not the Americans. Their motive is simple: they are going through a very difficult time, their king is dying and they are very worried about their future. Rightly so, because theyhave seen how easily the Americans dump their previous allies. Since Saudi Arabia is the country that controls the Salafis, who are now at the forefront of the protests, this film may be the Saudi way of hinting that they are able to control these Salafis, direct their actions and elicit any emotion they desire.
One step away from war
As we had expected, the murder of the American ambassador in Benghazi was blamed on Al-Qaeda, although as yet unofficially. Or rather, on a related Libyan group that calls itself Ansar al-Sharia. The new Libyan authorities were quick to distance themselves from the incident, and even organized a show rally against the Islamists. A crowd of demonstrators razed one of the Ansar al-Sharia headquarters and then moved on to the next.The Islamists put up a resistance which resulted in a gunfight, but in the end the building was also burned. At least one person was killed and dozens injured. It is worth noting that attacks on the Islamist camps were coordinated by the police and local authorities. This serves to prove that everything that is going on in Libya is nothing but redistribution of property and spoils inherited after the revolution.
Intrigue of the week
Protests erupted in Georgia, triggered by a video of prisoners being tortured in local jails. Protesters have already forced the Minister of Penalties and Minister of the Interior to resign. However, this had no effect on the disgruntled citizens, who are now demanding criminal trials against the two men. The situation is made more interesting because all this is taking place on the eve of Georgian parliamentary elections, in which the government will be facing a coalition of opposing parties.
Naturally, both sides immediately used this situation to gain advantage. The opposition accused President Mikhail Saakashvili of being personally responsible for building a repressive regime in Georgia, and promised to cast him out of politics for good. As expected, in his turn Saakashvili blamed everything on Russia. According to him, Russia paid prison guards to abuse prisoners, film the tortures and pass the videos to the opposition.
However, everything falls into place if we put politics aside and consider results of Saakashvili’s presidency. Despite radical economic reformGeorgia failed to escape the clutches of poverty. Today, the country’s GDP per capita is lower than in neighboring Armenia and Azerbaijan. But while Azerbaijan achieved economic growth largely due to its oil industry, the fact that Georgia is falling behind Armenia economically can only be explained by failure of its economic policy. Thus, according to the recently published report on the Rose Revolution, over 50% of employed Georgian citizens work in other countries. But of course we know that only Russia and Mr.Putin personally should be blamed for this.