It seems hard to believe it is almost September again, a month filled with unpacking from summer holidays, back to school shopping, orientation to new routines, and, for those of us who lived through a very violent 11 September ten years ago this year, haunting memories that some prefer to avoid. But memory still is a powerful catalyst for growth, so in light of this anniversary (and in general) it feels important to remember the events of what happened, and their impact on our lives. What I most remember of that day can best be described as a sense of total disorientation that I had never felt in my twenty-five years.
On 25 June 1991, the parliament of Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Twenty years later, almost to the day, Croatia successfully completed its accession talks with the EU, closing the four outstanding chapters of their negotiations. July 2013 has been set a as a provisional adhesion date.
On 20 September Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority (PA), will personally deliver a request to the UN Secretary-General Ban-Ki Moon for the “State of Palestine” to be granted full membership status at the UN. The resolution is expected to be passed on to the UN Security Council, whose rotating presidency for September will be held by Lebanon. In the likely event of a US veto, the PA has stated its intention to refer the question of Palestinian independence to the UN General Assembly, where another Palestinian ally, Qatar, will chair the presidency of the Assembly.
Recent events in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey have demonstrated the continued prominence of questions about Kurdish autonomy and statehood. The Kurdish people can be found living in an area that stretches from Turkey, Armenia, Iran, Iraq and into Syria. They have aspired and struggled for centuries to have their own homeland, but so far they have failed to achieve this. This has led to decades of violence between the Kurds and various governments in Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria. As with many other nationalist aspirations to achieve independent statehood, for the Kurdish people time has solidified the sentiment passed from generation to generation that they must struggle to achieve what their grandfathers sang to them about as babes.
Over the last 12 months, Israel and Lebanon have become embroiled in a legal and diplomatic battle over rights to undersea natural gas fields along their common but disputed maritime border. This could potentially provide the spark to ignite the next war between the Jewish State and the Islamic Resistance Movement Hezbollah. A gigantic deposit of natural gas (Leviathan) estimated to contain 453 billion cubic meters of natural gas, at a likely market value in the hundreds of billions of dollars, was discovered in June 2010 approximately 130 kilometres offshore of Haifa. Alongside natural gas, the Leviathan is also believed to yield 4,2 billion barrels of oil.
It is easy, when confronted by the news that groups of mostly young people have been rioting in London and other parts of the country, to dismiss the people involved as feckless opportunists, intent on causing destruction to property and stealing goods from looted shops. It is easy, but simplistic. Likewise, it is too simplistic for those on the left who attribute the serious criminal damage, destruction and threat to life wreaked by the rioters as symptomatic only of government economic policy and welfare cuts, as if the people involved had no agency in the matter.
We are now several weeks removed from the unusual, almost mob-driven mentality that gripped the UK at the height of furore over phone hacking. It progressed like a wrecking ball through the pillars of the British establishment, first claiming the country’s most popular Sunday newspaper, then its most prominent policemen, and finally putting a dent in the Prime Minister’s credibility. There was an unpredictable air about the whole affair, with no-one able to foresee what revelations would come next as – ironically enough – the media itself controlled the drip, drip of information and whipped up the frenzy.