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Macron to meet Biden at G20, hopes to move on after AUKUS dispute

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French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he hoped to close a rift with U.S. counterpart Joe Biden when the pair meet in Rome at the end of October, saying he wanted the long-time allies to work together once again “in good faith”.

Reconciliation at the Group of 20 summit on Oct. 30-31 would follow a Biden-Macron phone call last month and potentially end a transatlantic row triggered last month by the United States’ negotiation in secret of a military pact, known as AUKUS, with Australia and Britain to counter China, excluding France.

“We need to look with lucidity at the decisions taken by our allies. There were choices that were made and I can’t say that France and Europe were taken into account, but we have a history that is bigger (than this),” Macron said as he arrived at a summit of EU leaders in Slovenia.

“We will catch up during the G20. I think it is the right occasion to see how we can re-engage,” Macron said of his planned meeting with Biden.

“It is about facts and what to do together,” he told reporters at the Brdo estate outside the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.

Australia’s decision under AUKUS to cancel a lucrative submarine contract with France in September and opt for U.S.-designed, nuclear-propelled vessels incensed Paris. Macron said the episode was a sign that the EU needed to do more on its own, particularly in crises on the 27-nation bloc’s borders.

The EU has also set out its own strategy to increase its presence in the Indo-Pacific and counter China’s rising power.

“We must look at the way Europe should address challenges in its neighbourhood, the crises that exist, its own security and to continue to work in good faith with historic partners and allies,” Macron said, in reference to the United States.

How the EU should deal with China and with the United States was front and centre of the summit dinner.

“We have all observed what happened in Afghanistan, what happened in the Indo-Pacific, what happened with China,” European Council President Charles Michel, who is chairing the summit, said, referring to U.S. strategy that undermined EU priorities. He said the EU needed to show “collective intelligence” to shape Europe’s response.

CALL TO ARMS

Many in Europe now see the abrupt U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, during which allies felt ignored when they pleaded for more time, as a warning that Washington under Biden is putting its own foreign policy interests first.

But the EU also wants to be a useful ally to Washington.

“The United States has recognised the importance of a stronger and more capable European defence,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday before leaving for Slovenia. “Crises in the European neighbourhood are a call for us to react.”

Macron and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met for about 40 minutes in Paris earlier in the day and discussed a French push for more security cooperation among European nations, a U.S. official said.

Blinken told Macron that Washington was “certainly supportive of European defence and security initiatives” that can increase capabilities but do not undermine the NATO alliance, the senior State Department official said.

The EU leaders will be joined on Wednesday by the six Balkan countries hoping one day to join the bloc.

As the world’s largest trading bloc, the EU wields power in setting rules that can shape policy far beyond its borders, but it has repeatedly failed to coordinate a common foreign and military policy, weakening its influence.

It is particularly torn over China, the bloc’s second largest trading partner but which Brussels views as a competitor as Beijing seeks to erode the West’s technological edge.

The EU, along with the United States, Britain and Canada, imposed sanctions on Chinese officials on March 22 over human rights abuses, which Beijing denies. Beijing immediately hit the EU with sanctions on European Parliament lawmakers, freezing approval of a recently agreed EU-China investment deal.

(Additional reporting by Ivana Sekularac, Jan Strupczewski and John Chalmers in Brussels, Michel Rose and Richard Lough in Paris; Editing by Jan Harvey, Giles Elgood and Mark Heinrich)

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The Rojava Revolution Has Lessons for Western Feminism

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There’s no one size fits all feminism.

Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Naomi Klein, and Tarana Burke, who started the #MeToo movement back in 2006, et al. have done a condemnable job analyzing and criticizing the effects the remains of Western patriarchal society have on women not having equal participation and more importantly access to, opportunities men take for granted. Even Simone de Beauvoir, credited with paving the way for modern feminism, book “The Second Sex” (1949) was finger-pointing without offering solutions. Western feminism has never had a solid mandate and therefore continues to be rudderless.

Then there’s Kurdish feminism which I first encountered when I met Halime Aktürk, a former Turkish journalist. I know several self-proclaiming “feminists.” However, I’ve never known, nor do I believe I ever will, a self-identifying feminist who has the conviction Halime has. Halime knows her terms and projects a strong sense of “self,” which earned my utmost respect.

My truth: Most of my ‘life guidance’ and ‘life lessons’ have been from women. This is likely why I have a romantic view of the human condition.

Having read western feminists’ writings, and Norman Mailer for the “other side” perspective, I know feminist activists have clarified many questions for women. However, as Halime pointed out to me, simply asking questions isn’t enough for Kurdish women—they’re in a crisis.

 

The Ottoman Empire collapse created a crisis for Kurdish women.

History, like all stories handed down, is a complicated bargain.

The crises Kurdish women are experiencing today began with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1922. The downfall divided the Kurds’ territory among three newly established countries: Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Since then, each country has been attempting to impose its dominant ethnic identity as the respective country’s “national identity” and, therefore, eliminate any Kurdish identity. This has resulted in a Kurdish narrative that challenges Iraq, Syria and Turkey’s respective assimilation policy of imposing one identity over their territories’ ethnically and culturally different inhabitants.

On July 24, 1923, the Treaty of Lausanne was signed. The treaty led to the international recognition of the sovereignty of the new Republic of Turkey as the successor state of the Ottoman Empire and gave Kurdistan back to Turkey while failing to recognize Kurds existed. That same year some 65 laws aimed at destroying Kurdish identity by renaming them “Mountain Turks,” outlawing the use of the Kurdish language, making Kurdish celebrations illegal, changing Kurdish names of streets, villages, businesses, etc. to “proper Turkish names,” confiscating huge tracts of Kurdish communal lands and eliminating all Kurdish or Kurd-sympathetic organizations or political parties.

Holistically the entire epic of the Kurdish people is their struggle to liberate themselves to create their own society. Kurds, especially those who live in Kurdistan (“Land of the Kurds”), a loosely defined area bordering Iran, Syria and Turkey, carry the hope of one day becoming emancipated slaves.

Today, roughly 32 million Kurds are spread across Armenia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Kurds, caught up in bad faith geopolitics that has oppressed them for generations, constitute the world’s largest stateless nation. Using intersectional lens clarifies that Kurdish women are subjected to a “dual oppression” based on ethnicity and gender; thus, being the ideology architect for Kurdish feminism. Halime’s strong feminist convictions (Only the hard and strong can call themselves a Kurdish feminist.) are the by-product of her experiences being Kurdish in Turkey, where along with Kurdish cultural oppression, patriarchal cultural hands are constantly present to keep women in their place.

 

Something extraordinary is happening in Rojava.

There’s a revolution in northern Syria, led by Kurdish feminism (aka. Jineology), that challenges everything the West has bought into about economics, government, society, and above all freedom.

The revolution is a fight to experiment with unconditional democracy—to create a way of life that values feminism, direct democracy, ecological stewardship, ethnic, linguistic, and religious pluralism. The structures of oppression, rooted in the state, nationalism, capitalism, cultural conventions, and patriarchy—disguised as “assimilation policies”—are what the “Rojava Revolution,” which began on July 19, 2012, is seeking to surmount.

Rojava, the Kurdish name for western Kurdistan, is an autonomous region in northeastern Syria that has exercised autonomy since the breakout of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Cradled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, Rojava is considered the breadbasket of Syria. It’s a little-known story that defies the usual depictions that find their way to the west regarding Syria or Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Rojava, home to approximately 2.5 million people, is divided into three districts (Afrin, Jazira, and Kobanî). It’s governed by a coalition of six political parties called the Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM), headed by the Democratic Union Party (PYD). They practice a governance model called Democratic Confederalism (democracy without a state), a kind of libertarian socialism theorized by imprisoned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) leader Abdullah Öcalan. This “governance model” began an extraordinary project of self-government and equality for all races, religions, women, and men. This project has led to the Rojava Revolution, which by default challenges domination by Western colonial powers and Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

In 2011 the civil uprising in Syria, known as the Arab Spring, escalated into the Syrian Civil War. The Syrian state withdrew from northeastern Syria, and the Kurdish liberation movement saw their window of opportunity. Less than three years later, the Kurdish movement had transformed their revolutionary vision into a revolutionary society by liberating Rojava’s three districts: Cizîre, Kobanî, and Afrîn. In January 2014, the regions united to issue a declaration of democratic autonomy manifesting their unique political ideology, grounded in Öcalan’s writings and ideas.

People fighting to experiment with their own path to all-inclusive democracy makes the Rojava Revolution an interesting Middle East phenomenon—the political character doesn’t fit familiar pigeonholes. The revolution isn’t a nationalist Kurdish initiative for an independent state, doesn’t evangelize socialism, nor is fueled by religious or ethnic motives. Instead, it attempts to establish an autonomous society based on democratic autonomy, environmentalism, feminism, and gender equality principles. In 2021 attempting, at the feet of oppressors, to create a democratic society, which incorporates all differences and gives women an equal place, is seen by many as naive.

Here in the west, we’ve become cynical to the idea that anything can really change. So, conducting an experiment in unconditional freedom in one of the most dangerous parts of the world against enemies who are absurdly repressive and violent would appear to be a Hollywood invention.

Besides aiming to create a genuinely all-inclusive democracy, the Rojava Revolution is unique because women and feminist teachings have a crucial role in the territorial, political, cultural, and ideological liberation of Rojava. Women often lead the fight on the front lines, sacrificing their lives against the most archaic and anti-woman enemy: ISIS. This display of female martyrdom makes, in my opinion, the Rojava Revolution the most defining feminist activism the world has ever witnessed. Unfortunately, other than occasionally portraying Kurdish women as fierce fighters combating ISIS oppression, the revolution is hardly ever brought to light in the west.

An important aspect of women’s liberation in Rojava has been the Women’s Protection Units (YPJ), founded on April 3, 2013, as an all-women brigade of the People’s Protection Units (YPG). When they shoot at ISIS fighters YPJ fighters often make a high-pitched hollering sound to make them aware they’re being attacked by women. In Islam, it’s believed if you’re killed by a woman, you’ll not get into paradise.

Since the nineteenth century, and before that, in the broader Middle East, the female body has been one of the most crucial symbolic battlegrounds between modernizers and reactionaries.

On a side note, much of the Middle East’s hatred against Israel stems from the freedom it gives women to be equal to men, recognizing the LGBQT community, and allowing gay marriage. (Israel is the only country in the Middle East to do so.)

The Rojava model is based on two main pillars. The first pillar is direct democracy as the basis of a communalist system—citizens actively participate in decision-making and manage their neighbourhood and city, and government. (READ: self-government) The second pillar is the denial of the nation-state structure and viewpoint. In Rojava, many different religious and ethnic groups—Arabs, Armenians, Chechens, Christians, Turkmens, Yezidis—live together with the Kurdish majority. By officially and insistently denying the nation-state and creating administrative structures that incorporate these different citizens, the Rojava model gives minorities a participatory role unprecedented in the Middle East—a role as equals in managing their community.

Could this attempt to effectively integrate the different ethnic groups and religions in one participative democratic system that respects people and the environment ever succeed in reality?

History has shown that many such attempts either faded ingloriously or ended in carnage. The Spanish Civil War would be equivalent to Rojava’s current situation (July 17, 1936 – April 1, 1939), when the Democrats tried to set up something different. While many disagree, there are many parallels between the Kurdish women fighters today and those who were ‘Mujeres Libres.’ (Spanish women fighters)

Unfortunately, the Spanish revolution bathed Spain in blood, and the country entered a dark period that lasted almost forty years. Many other examples throughout history would suggest that sooner or later, all this goodwill and this willingness of the people in Rojava will fail. Reasons range from human nature, leftist dogmatism being unpalatable to the pointlessness of war and the number of fatalities becoming overwhelming.

 

Jineology fuels the Rojava Revolution.

Everything in Rojava seems to be in a grey area, somewhere between the old Syria and something new that has yet to take shape. The dichotomies created are between tradition and modernity, gradual change and revolutionary overthrow, and war and peace. Rojava is comparable to a living laboratory where everything is on a long road towards being violently created.

As mentioned earlier, the Rojava Revolution isn’t defending a political ideology or seeking to create a nation-state. It’s a struggle for gender equality and bringing to fruition a just society. The fuel for this ongoing struggle is jineology, a women’s science created by the Kurdish Women’s Freedom Movement. Jineology, developed in 2008, places women at the center of a battle against patriarchy, cultural legacies, capitalism, and the state.

For those of you hearing about jineology for the first time, jineology, composed of two words: jin, the Kurdish word for “woman,” and logos, Greek for “word” or “reason,” is both an outcome and a beginning. It is the outcome of the dialectical progress of the Kurdish women’s movement and a start to respond to the contradictions and problems of modern society, economics, health, education, ecology, ethics, and aesthetics. Arguably jineology is a form of feminism suited to the region it was developed in and may not easily transition to the west, even as an appendage to Western feminism.

While Western feminism has questioned the issues jineology is trying to address, they remain influenced by the reigning social arching conventions heavily influenced by the many agendas western capitalism requires. As a result, Western feminists have distorted the problems at hand, particularly the relationship between men and women. Jineology proposes a new analysis of these fields, starting with women not being viewed as isolated beings, that socialization begins with women.

In staying true to jineology, the Kurdish movement has set up 40% women quotas in their organizations. In addition, they’ve created women-only organizations parallel to mixed-gender ones and women’s neighbourhood assemblies, academies, and cooperatives and introduced a co-leadership system with one woman and one man at the head of any administrative body including in municipalities under the control of pro-Kurdish parties.

The dilemma with other women’s movements.

When a different paradigm, or to think from a different perspective, is proposed, Western feminists feel their feminism is being replaced. This isn’t the case. Differing perspectives and divisive opinions are seen in Western feminism, like when black feminists criticize white feminists for taking only one—middle-class white—perspective and trying to solve all the problems women face worldwide with the same methodology. One method of advocacy won’t apply to many of the issues women face within their respective region. A queer feminist theory may be listened to or even adopted in Europe but forbidden in Egypt, Iraq, or Nigeria.

The women risking their lives in Rojava are fighting to create a stateless society based on ideals of freedom and equality as they resist fanatic butchers seeking to kill every one of them. For the YPJ/YPG women fighters, the Rojava Revolution is a zero-sum game. Western feminists question the gender inequality of our social norms and is slowly eroding them, which is to be applauded. However, they’re not fighting a diehard enemy and therefore never had to approach their “activism” as a zero-sum game, which makes me wonder if they shouldn’t.

Halime showed me a different way of thinking, and everything in my life began to change. Maybe if Western feminists adopted a different way of thinking (I’m not saying jineology is the answer.), the equality that Western feminists have been seeking for well over 100 years would be our social norms today.

____________________________________________

 

Nick Kossovan, a self-described connoisseur of human psychology, writes about what’s on his mind from Toronto. You can follow Nick on Twitter and Instagram @NKossovan.

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Panama, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic ask for U.S. help on migration

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The presidents of panama, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic on Wednesday asked for U.S. assistance in stemming the flow of thousands of migrants crossing the dangerous jungles that divide Panama and Colombia as they make their way to the United States.

Panama’s President Laurentino Cortizo hosted a meeting with Costa Rica’s Carlos Alvarado Quesada and Dominican Republic’s Luis Abinader in Panama City on Wednesday, where they discussed the burgeoning migrant crisis.

Cortizo said that so far this year a record number of more than 100,000 undocumented migrants have trekked north from Colombia through the Darien Gap, a lawless jungle teeming with everything from deadly snakes to anti-government guerrillas.

The United Nations children’s agency UNICEF said earlier this month that some 19,000  migrant children have crossed the Darien Gap so far in 2021, almost three times higher than the total for the previous five years.

Cortizo said the situation demands concrete solutions and that Washington should play an active role in assisting.

The Latin American leaders agreed “that our foreign ministers urgently articulate with the U.S. authorities and other countries to … look for concrete measures,” he added.

The presidents discussed the possibility of establishing a strategy of investments and job creation in Haiti, home to many of the migrants.

Cortizo said that he is seeking a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden during the United Nations’ COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland.

In early 2021, Panamanian authorities had warned of a possible crisis after opening the borders that had for months been closed because of the pandemic.

By September, the immigration authorities of the Central American nation reported a record number of 91,305 migrants who entered from neighboring Colombia. Of these, 56,676 were Haitians and 12,870 Cubans.

 

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Anthony Esposito Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)

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Coronavirus: What's happening in Canada and around the world on Wednesday – CBC.ca

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The latest:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Wednesday authorized booster doses of COVID-19 vaccines from Moderna and Johnson & Johnson, and said Americans can choose a shot that is different than their original inoculation.

The decision paves the way for millions more people in the United States to get the additional protection with the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus causing breakthrough infections among some who are fully vaccinated.

The agency previously authorized boosters of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at least six months after the first round of shots to increase protection for people aged 65 and older, those at risk of severe disease and those who are exposed to the virus through their work.

Last week, an advisory panel to the FDA voted to recommend a third round of shots of the Moderna vaccine for the same groups.

WATCH | U.S. will now accept Canadian travellers with mixed doses: 

U.S. will now accept Canadian travellers with mixed COVID-19 vaccine doses

5 days ago

The United States has confirmed that Canadians that had different COVID-19 vaccines for their first and second dose will be recognized as fully vaccinated. The U.S. will be implementing travel restrictions on Nov. 8, only permitting fully vaccinated travellers into the country. 2:09

The panel also recommended a second shot of the J&J vaccine for all recipients of the one-dose inoculation at least two months after receiving their first.

The FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were under some pressure to authorize the additional shots after the White House announced plans in August for a widespread booster campaign.

The advisory panel meeting included a presentation of data on mixing vaccines from a U.S. National Institutes of Health study in which 458 participants received some combination of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and J&J shots.

The data showed that people who initially got J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine had a stronger immune response when boosted with either the Pfizer or Moderna shot, and that “mixing and matching” booster shots of different types was safe in adults.

Many countries including Canada and the U.K. have backed mix-and-match strategies for the widely-used AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine, which is not authorized in the United States but is based on similar viral vector technology as J&J’s vaccine.

WATCH | Booster shots not yet needed for most, says specialist: 

COVID-19 booster shots not needed for most people yet, says specialist

14 days ago

Canadians who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 might see longer immunity if their shots were spaced further apart than recommended by the vaccine makers, says Dr. Matthew Oughton, an infectious diseases specialist in Montreal who said most people don’t need booster shots at this time. (Evan Mitsui/CBC) 4:51

Reuters reported in June that infectious disease experts were weighing the need for booster shots of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine after the J&J shot.

A CDC advisory committee on Thursday will make its recommendations about which groups of people should get the Moderna and J&J boosters, which the agency’s director will use to inform her final decision.

About 11.2 million people have so far received a booster dose, according to data from the CDC.


What’s happening in Canada

WATCH | Vaccines for kids could face hurdles after approval: 

COVID-19 vaccines for kids could face hurdles after approval

23 hours ago

Health Canada is reviewing data for the first COVID-19 vaccine for younger children, but even if it’s approved, the hurdles could include vaccine supply, distribution and getting some parents on board. 3:38

  • Pandemic restriction opponents line up behind Manitoba PC leadership hopeful.
  • Some unvaccinated municipal workers in northeastern Ontario sent home.
  • N.L. sees 9 cases as officials make tweaks to fix vaccine passport issues.

What’s happening around the world

As of Wednesday, more than 241.6 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported around the world, according to the latest figures posted by Johns Hopkins University. The reported global death toll stood at more than 4.9 million, according to the U.S-based university’s coronavirus tracker.

In Europe, Russia will shut workplaces for a week, Latvia went back into lockdown for a month and Romanian funeral homes are running out of coffins, as vaccine-skeptic ex-communist countries face record highs of infections and deaths.

In Africa, Kenya lifted a nationwide curfew on Wednesday that has been in place since March 2020 to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

In the Americas, 41 per cent of people across Latin America and the Caribbean have now been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the Pan American Health Organization said.

In Asia, China reported a fourth day of new, locally transmitted cases in a handful of cities across the country, spurring local governments to double down on efforts to track potential carriers amid the zero-tolerance policy.

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