0. Peace

Peace gaming – Social networks, games and virtual worlds are crossing unlikely boundaries. From Jerusalem Post

Posted on May 13, 2010. Filed under: 0. Peace |

May 13, 110 Thursday 8 Sivan 3870 13:20 IST

Photo by: Courtesy
Peace gaming – Social networks, games and virtual worlds are crossing unlikely boundaries.



A 14-year-old living in Haifa, Israel, sits by a laptop working all night with a 22-year-old Lebanese engineering student in an intense quest to kill a boss on the World of Warcraft. Over the course of many hours, together, the two unlikely teammates kill a number of creatures and gather various resources.

Meanwhile on Second Life, a 21-year-old Jewish legal aid in Manhattan spends his boring day at work building a synagogue in the virtual world. Already evening in Riyadh, a 29-year-old Saudi air hostess who believes most Jews have horns and sacrifice babies in their places of worship, enters the legal aid’s synagogue and starts asking questions.

Academics, gaming experts and conflict resolution advocates say such interactions are taking place on a variety of platforms daily, making online gaming an increasingly common avenue for Middle Easterners, Muslims and Jews all over the world, to engage with and learn about one another.

“I believe that the Internet and gaming, especially those with social media components, can bring people together,” Esra’a Al Shafei, Director of the Bahrain-based MidEast Youth, an international student media group that promotes dialogue and understanding, told The Media Line. “I grew up in a relatively closed society, but there are no boundaries on the Internet like there are in real life, making it much easier to cross cultural and political boundaries and to create meaningful connections.”

“For example, once I was in college and played a little game on Facebook and met an Armenian whom I never would have met,” she remembered. “I know many people personally who have gotten to know each other across cultural lines through gaming.”

“Gaming is all about skills, and not identity or nationality,” Shafei said. “Your intention may not be to meet people, but a lot of gaming sites now have teams. So you might end up playing on a team with an Iranian, an Israeli or an American Jew. Almost every game these days allows you to chat and connect with people, so you say ‘hey, where are you from? I’m from Bahrain,’ get to know that person and find out that you actually have lots of similar interests in music and things like that.”

While it was not her intention, Shafei articulated the hope of a growing number of Israeli gaming firms and social media analysts who believe games can bring unlikely people together across borders.

“People can communicate better through games because there are no borders, said Nir Orpaz, the founder and Chief Technical Officer of Skiller, an Israel-based gaming company that provides both gaming and social networking platforms for mobile phones. “We can play with people in Arab countries whereas on a day-to-day basis we wouldn’t do that.

Users of Skiller mobile games are identified by the country they are located in with a small flag next to their username. With around half a million users from 125 nations, including countries without diplomatic relations with one another, Orpaz says mobile gaming has provided a place for people to leave politics at the door.

“In the gaming world, people put the political conflicts aside,” he told The Media Line. “It’s easier to play against a person than to win a political argument against them.

“We’re combining social networks with games,” Orpaz added. “We have many social elements such as [the] buddy list, [the] messaging system and in-game chat, that enable people to communicate easily and form friendships. This [is] what makes our product so unique. This is not just a mobile game; this is a real community.

But Paul Parush, an expert in media culture and a communications professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the effectiveness of online gaming in crossing conflict lines was likely limited by awareness.

“For Arabs playing against Israel, they probably know what the Israeli flag looks like, whereas Israelis probably don’t know what a Saudi flag looks like,” he told The Media Line. “So it’s worth noting different levels of awareness.”

Dr Ronit Kampf, a professor of communications and political science at Tel Aviv University and an expert in the role of online environments in conflict resolution, says the import of online environments in conflict resolution largely revolves around whether or not the interaction is intentional.

“There are many online environments that are not specifically aimed at conflict resolution or learning about the other,” she told The Media Line. “These platforms provide people with the option to cross boundaries easily.”

“But the glass is half full and half empty,” Dr Kampf warned. “The half full is that indeed you can see unintentional interactions between Jews and Muslims and Israelis and Palestinians. The half empty, however, is that if you look at these interaction[s] over the long term, their extent [does] not grow.”

“The reality is that we are attracted to people who are similar, not people who are different,” she continued. “So there are definitely unintentional interactions taking place, and it’s better than nothing, but you can’t ignore the fact that their extent and their depth is not what we would ideally want.” Dr Kampf argued that gaming, particularly gaming that requires teamwork, has a greater potential to cross conflict lines.

“There is incredible potential for unintentional interaction through gaming,” she said. “In the World of Warcraft, for example, gamers across the Middle East fight together against some environment that is attacking them. What’s important to them is not whether the person is a Muslim or a Jew, but their skill playing the game.

“So you see people joining together to fight on the same team and see each other as individuals,” Dr Kampf concluded. “It indicates that the moment you bring together young people from across the divide to join forces and collaborate on a specific goal be it to win a game together or do a project together they are much more effectively able to put aside tension and stereotypes and develop positive attitudes towards one another.”

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Making strides toward peace – Walkers hope to help elevate consciousness

Posted on July 17, 2009. Filed under: 0. Peace | Tags: , , , , |

Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Making strides toward peace
(Cited from El Defensor Chieftain at: http://www.dchieftain.com/news/90291-07-15-09.html )
Walkers hope to help elevate consciousness

Nat Holland El Defensor Chieftain Reporter

A desire for world peace instead of a world blown to pieces is the motivation for a diverse group of individuals participating in a peace walk that passed through Socorro on Monday, July 13.

The Trinity to Trident Interfaith Peace Walk is a multi-stage peace walk that started at Los Alamos on July 5, and will eventually end near the Bangor Naval Base in Washington State.

“It’s a trip to be out there on the road — one step after another,” said 70-year-old Arizona native Iris Wolfe.

The New Mexico stage of the walk culminates with a 26-hour prayer vigil for peace at the edge of the White Sands Missile Range, near the Trinity Site where the first atomic bomb was detonated.

“Every hour we will pray the rosary before the Blessed Sacrament,” said Telesflora Rios, a local volunteer who provided dinner for the walkers when they stopped in Socorro.

Father Charles McCarthy, of Boston, and Sister Patricia McCarthy, a sister of Notre Dame, will be two of the catholic clergy participating in the vigil.

Stop in Socorro

“One reason to stop here (in Socorro) is New Mexico Tech was one of the schools to experiment with enriched uranium in the 1970s,” said Marcus Page, part of the Catholic Worker Movement. “I don’t know what’s currently going on (at Tech), but this commemorates historical events.”

The group also planned to visit the Jumbo fragment on display in Socorro’s Historic Plaza.

The movement started in 1933, primarily to provide services to the poor and struggling in the Depression Era, Page said. The second World War, with its devastation and loss of life, pushed the organization into a different direction and it became more known for its pacifistic stance.

Prayer for Peace

“We walk and pray for world peace — this particular walk is to abolish nuclear weapons,” said Gilbert Perez, a Buddhist monk who was born in Cuba and raised in New York City. “We pray for the down-winders who were affected in this area and soldiers coming back from Iraq.”

“Life is most important. We can live together peacefully,” said Senji Kanaeda, a Japanese Buddhist Monk, who has lived in Seattle for about six years. “We wish that it (nuclear attacks) would never happen again — that is why we walk.”

Erica Freeman, who moved recently moved to Bainbridge Island, Wash., met Senji two weeks after her move, and was convinced to join him on the peace walk.

“This is my first peace walk, but by no means is this the first time in my life I have felt passionate about it,” said Freeman, who volunteers for two non-profits in the Seattle area.

Impact on Japan

“Before World War II, Japan was a very militaristic country. After the war we knew what could happen and wanted it to never happen again,” said Senji.

“The Japanese people should walk on the front line of any action or movement or prayer for abolition of any nuclear weapons or energy on the earth,” said Senji, attributing the comment to an American friend, who is now a director at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, in Japan.

Japanese people also seem to be more aware of the impact of nuclear weapons than other countries, said Senji, due to direct experience, photographs, TV shows and education programs.

“We are afraid of that happening again and we think about it — not just the atomic bomb,” said Hiro Takahashi, a 20-year-old from Japan.

Concern for Consequence

Dennis Duvall, an Arizona native associated with Prescott Peace Action, is just along for the New Mexico segment of the walk.

“I got involved because I was anti-nuclear. I was working against nuclear power back in the ’70s,” said Duvall. “We joined this walk because we are very mindful of the threat to the earth and all life from these vast nuclear arsenals. So we’re walking to abolish nuclear weapons and stop the nuclear fuel cycle from the building of another generation of power plants.”

“I’m a retired social worker and psychotherapist so my interest is more personal with what is for me a heartbreaking reality that we tend to be hell-bent for our own destruction and the destruction of those around us,” said Wolfe, who is also associated with Prescott Peace Action. “We would like to think that we can fix whatever we do and that may not be possible. This is a hard reality to face.”

For more information or to follow the peace walk visit the group’s blog site at http://pacificlifecommunitydesert.wordpress.com.

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John Lennon’s plea for world peace “Imagine” chimes across Liverpool

Posted on May 16, 2009. Filed under: 0. Peace | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

John Lennon’s song “Imagine” the  unofficial anthem for World Peace, will be heard in Liverpool this Saturday May 16th, 2009, as chimes from the Liverpool Cathedral  are played to that tune.

In this post we want to celebrate this event for Peace, in Liverpool where John Lennon and the Beatles first started on their road to world-wide fame.

In a world full  news of events and forces arrayed against Peace, it is refreshing to hear about some of the events and activities that people organize for Peace. This event is an example of  people for Peace extending the call for World Peace using different creative ways.

“John Lennon’s plea for world peace “Imagine” chimes across Liverpool” Liverpool Daily Post – May 14 2009

BELL-RINGERS were put through their paces last night in a secret rehearsal ahead of the unique performance of John Lennon’s Imagine this weekend.

They will chime out the iconic Lennon song, which includes the lines “imagine there’s no heaven”, at lunchtime on Saturday.

Organisers of the event, which is part of the North-west’s Futuresonic festival, have also been sent a message of support from Yoko Ono.

The 76-year-old said: “The sound of your bells will travel around the world and remind people of John Lennon and his belief there is an urgent need for world peace . . . like the church bell in the town which used to ring as the warning to people about impending disasters like flood and fire.

“Thank you for thinking of a very important way of bringing change to the consciousness of the world.
“I will hear your bells, too, in New York where I will be working that day.”

Artist Cleo Evans, who had the original idea, said: “I wanted to have a debate about world peace. It’s a simple song, but very powerful, and the bell ringers have done a brilliant job.

“It shows the cathedral is really forward thinking, but that doesn’t surprise me for Liverpool.”

Imagine will be played three times on Saturday – at noon, 12.30pm and 1pm.

Liverpool Cathedral is also organising a number of activities around the event.  ……

Click here to read full article

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In Riverdale, Palestinians and Jews gather to banish hatred

Posted on March 1, 2009. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1, 1. World Peace, 3. Peace in Middle East |

Despite the overwhelming barrage of negative news, of more conflicts and cycle of hatred and violence in the world, there are ever present efforts to build bridges and close chasms between different groups in conflict, that tend to be under-reported.

The actions and efforts to build peace and re-conciliation, though under-reported in the traditional media,  are found in different places and carried out in creative ways. Such is the story of the Palestinians and Jews in Riverdale, who gather and break bread together to help banish hatred, and build understanding, tolerance and Peace. They are a part of a Peace movement called –  “World Peace, One Falafel at a Time.” that aims to break down walls and build peace in the World.

Peace with a side of Tahini By Kate Pastor

February 19, 2009 Edition

Palestinian-born Abed Isa Ibraham picked up a piece of pita bread in his hands, dipped it in hummus and brought it to his mouth. “We use our own fork. Personal fork. Nobody use it except me,” he quipped. Sitting across from him at the table, an American of Greek-Israeli descent gave him a knowing look. “My uncle does it the same way,” said George Nachum.

The exchange may sound like little more than breakfast banter. But subtle moments like these are powerful, and exactly why Khalid Isa, coowner with his wife of Sqweez Juice Bar & Grill on West 238th Street between Waldo and Greystone avenues, pushed the small tables in their storefront restaurant together on Sunday morning, to host members of “World Peace, One Falafel at a Time.”

Mr. Isa’s father, Mr. Ibraham, was born in Palestine and forced to leave what is now Israel, in 1948. “People left shoeless,” he said, “they left their homes still thinking they were going back.” When Mr. Isa started serving falafels in Riverdale two years ago, he didn’t even realize he was opening up shop in what he now calls “Little Israel.” But as he got to know his Jewish customers and became close with some of them, he was struck by how much (including falafel) they had in common.

A social movement The observation turned into a social movement in December, as the group’s founding members began holding monthly breakfasts in an effort to bring Jews and Arabs together over food. As they congregated around plates piled high with Middle Eastern breakfast — eggs with tomato, falafel balls, humus with tahini, pita covered with oregano, olive oil and sesame seeds, as well as strained yogurt called “lebneh” — each of the eight founding members got up to explain what had brought them together.

“When Khali approached me about this we kept taking about, we’re Semites,” said Steven Balicer, a Jewish Riverdalian, adding, “the border was only a border of geographical demarcation.” As the son of Holocaust survivors, he said his parents always encouraged him to speak out against injustice, and so he became active in the civil rights movement and other social and political causes throughout his life. For him, the peace-loving group probably wasn’t much of a leap. For others, sitting around the table was a step toward unlearning hatred they had been taught throughout their lives.

Growing up with hate (name taken out at request of person) was born in Pakistan. “I grew up with that typical understanding of this is us, and this is them. Kind of that dual mindset,” she told the group. “I had a lot of anger inside me and it really bothered me.” She said she knew people in Pakistan who hated both Jews and Hindus, but had never met a person from either background. And it was only when she started dating an Israeli man during her senior year at college that her mind began to change. “Getting to know them as people, slowly, slowly and slowly it started to melt away,” she said, making it impossible to “hate collectively.” When she first heard of the group, she said, “I literally started to cry…” She traveled from Queens to Riverdale for the meeting on Sunday.

David Osterczy, one of the founding members, told a similar tale. “I was raised a Jew and like S…,  I was raised that Arabs were a different kind of people,” he said. But focusing on commonalities helped cure Northern Ireland of its sectarian violence, he said, and the same idea could be applied to the Middle East. Though Riverdale is far away from the rockets and bombs that rattle what some participants apolitically called “the holy land,” family ties and spiritual connections seem to dwarf the distance.

Sahar Ferber grew up in Israel and only moved here about two years ago. He recounted a saying he used to hear when he was young. “By the time you get older the army will not be necessary,” he said. Still, he grew up to serve in an elite unit of the Israeli Army and it was only after he moved to the United States to go to college that, “All of a sudden I realized that not all Muslims are the same. I acquired three best friends that are Muslim,” he said.

Tearful discoveries

As participants spoke, some of them newcomers, Mr. Isa and Mr. Balister stood with their arms around each other, each story resonating deeply, and tears after appearing in Mr. Isa’s eyes. The nearly 20 attendees included founding member Leo Alkhatib, who considers himself a Palestinian-American, but was born in Jordan and has lived in this country for 28 years; Tony Schultz, a Riverdalian and a secular Jew who wanted to challenge notions in the media about Jews being a “monolithic entity”; and Joe Cutugno, a founding member and supersenior at Manhattan College, who, believes that his Italian-American ethnicity makes him an objective asset to the group.

Talking over food in Riverdale is at the group’s heart, but is not its ultimate goal. Founders hope to bring local imams and rabbis and eventually, Jews and Arabs in the Middle East, together over little fried balls of chickpeas at other tables.

For now, they have a growing contingent of participants at their monthly meetings, and a Facebook group boasting 116 members at press time, with a discussion question “What do you want for your grandkids?” No matter where people are from, “the answers,” said Mr. Osterczy, “are always the same.”

This is part of the February 19, 2009 online edition of The Riverdale Press.

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Peace – What does it really mean? by Michele Misiewicz

Posted on February 6, 2009. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1. World Peace |

Today we feature an article that raises the question of what Peace really means written by Michele Misiewicz !! (more…)

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Gandhi Foundation’s 2008 Peace Award given to two contributors to the Success of Peace in Northern Ireland

Posted on January 2, 2009. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1. World Peace | Tags: , , , |

We have previously blogged about the inspiring Success of Peace in Northern Ireland on this  “Break Down the Walls & Build Bridges of Understanding, Love and Peace” blog.

 The Gandhi Foundation’s 2008 Peace Award was awarded to , the Reverend Harold Good and Father Alex Reid, two key participants to the Peace process in Northern Ireland.  We are glad that the Gandhi Foundation chose to give the 2008 Award to people who helped establish this historic reconciliation and Peace.

The Success of Peace in Northern Ireland is one that should inspire people all over the world about the possibilities of overcoming seemingly impossible obstacles to end conflicts, and establish Peace in their region of the world.  Here after some four hundred years of conflict, the two camps in the conflict were able to build bridges to Peace!!

[We have included an excerpt  from the announcement of this award from the Gandhi Foundation’s webpage.]

2008 Peace Award & Annual Lecture – Harold Good & Alec Reid
Posted on Oct 30, 2008 by gandhifriends

Father Alec Reid,  and Rev Harold Good given the Gandhi Peace Award 2008 – Citation
by Dr. Omar Hayat

Something extraordinary has taken place and is taking place in Northern Ireland. Something very powerful indeed. After decades of troubles the wholly unexpected coalition of the two extremes in the province, the Sinn Fein and the DUP has taken place (originally with the Reverend Paisley as First Minister (now replaced by Peter Robinson) and Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister).
However, it would always have been all too easy to despair of any resolution of the tribal politics of the province and Northern Ireland also has of course many similarities to the communal divide of India and the peacemakers of Northern Ireland all along faced in the Protestant/Catholic divide just the same sort of challenge as Mohandas Gandhi did in his prolonged struggle against the force of Hindu/Muslim communalism; which periodically grips India. Northern Ireland was always a Gandhian challenge and sometimes we forget how much of Gandhi’s struggle was one against terrorism. It was a struggle that did cost him his life. Clearly the Gandhi Foundation wanted to celebrate, indeed rejoice, in the triumph of non-violence over violence.


Omar Hayat and Bhikhu Parekh
Of course, key to the recent political truce was the decommissioning process. Here there was a critical barrier to be overcome. No member of the IRA could afford to be photographed handing in their weapons – this according to their military code is a treasonable offence and so another solution had to be found. That was through the witness statements to the handing in of weapons to trusted representatives of the two communities. The men asked to take on this role were the Reverend Harold Good and Father Alex Reid who acted as clerical witnesses during General John de Chastelain’s disarmament process. This act of being representatives of the two communities and overseeing the disarmament requires a great deal of Trust, a very uncommon trust in today’s world which strives towards transparency, which in some circumstances is a very good thing but also implies a lack of trust. So literally these two men have been trusted by the rest of the world and especially the sectarian parties of Northern Ireland, just on their say so, to have told the truth. Otherwise the whole process would not have progressed. A heavy responsibility indeed.

Congratulations to Reverend Harold Good and Father Alex Reid for receiving the Gandhi Foundation’s 2008 Peace Award for their key contributions to the disarmament process, a process that helped to ‘cement’ the Peace process in Northern Ireland.

[You can read the rest of the article on the link above, or Click Here]

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What does Senator Barack Obama’s election mean for Peace in the World?

Posted on December 22, 2008. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1. World Peace | Tags: , , , , , , |

The election of Senator Barack Obama as the President Elect of the United States of America has generated great excitement, and joy. It has raised hopes around the world. People have rejoiced, danced in the streets and spoken openly of a new day of hope.

This hope and joy expressed in the different corners of this planet that we inhabit, is in and of itself a good thing. It draws people in the different parts, who would typically belong in different camps divided by virtual and real walls that keep them apart. It is good because it brings people closer and even if it is fleeting and temporary, to some extent lowers the walls that keep them divided.

The big question however, is what will be the long term impact on World Peace, of Senator Barack Obama being elected to be the next President of the United States?

Share your thoughts, ideas and comments on this issue, and help generate a discussion on this question that relates to peace.

Peace to the World
Let’s Imagine What Will Open Up to All of Us, to Our Children and Grandchildren When We Have PEACE!!

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Poems for Peace – a poetry exchange between youth worldwide

Posted on December 2, 2008. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1. World Peace |

We would like to spotlight one of the efforts for Peace that promotes the importance of Peace in our lives. The website “Poems for Peace”  is at http://www.PoemsForPeace.org. We invite you to visit it, and have included an excerpt from the home page.Please leave suggestions of Peace websites to highlight.
Excerpt from www.PoemsForPeace.org follows  (more…)

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The Jewish-Arab Peace Song (w/ English subtitles)

Posted on November 3, 2008. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1. World Peace, 3. Peace in Middle East | Tags: , , , |

The Jewish-Arab Peace Song (w/ English subtitles)

Great song and video of people from two warring camps reaching out for Peace from a point of Love for all human beings.

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Ending the UN´s peacekeeping mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia is an abrogation of its mission

Posted on September 2, 2008. Filed under: 0. Peace, 1. World Peace, 4. Peace in East Africa |

The Security Council’s decision to end the UN’s peacekeeping mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia is an abrogation of the United Nation’s mission.

 UN’s main reason for existence is to promote peace and abate violent conflicts. In this capacity, for the last eight years, it has nudged the two bellicose governments of Ethiopia and Eritrea to agree to binding arbitration to resolve their border conflict. It deployed 4200 UN force, known as the UN Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE), to monitor the cessation of hostilities between the two countries.

 However, the two governments have dug in their heels and refused to abide by the peaceful resolutions to which they had committed themselves. Their noncompliance has frustrated the international peace effort. Their actions are drawing the whole region into fratricidal wars. The UN council’s decision to disband UNMEE came in response to restrictions imposed by Eritrea on its operation and Ethiopia’s refusal to recognize a binding verdict by an international boundary panel that granted the flashpoint border town of Badme to Eritrea. The UN Security Council, instead of putting more pressure on the two regimes to accept a peaceful resolution to their conflict, has sadly decided to terminate its mission. This decision is not only an abandonment of the UN’s mandate but also a negation of its essence.

At this time, over 200,000 soldiers are amassed on both sides of the border between Ethiopia and Eritrea. In spite of the fact that both regimes have declared that they have no intention to resume war, they are exercising their war maneuvers within shooting range of each other.  Border skirmishes have flared up, raising the specter of another tragic war.  With these soldiers already in trenches and ready for assault, full-scale conflict can be triggered at anytime.

Eight years ago, Ethiopia and Eritrea waged a savage war, which lasted for two years. This war over a barren piece of land cost the lives of over 70,000 people and resulted in hundreds of thousands wounded and millions of dislocated civilians. People who were already ravaged by drought and famine were made to suffer the consequence of a heinous war. Even the architects of the war—President Isaias Afewerki and Prime Minster Meles Zenawi—characterized it as senseless. Yet the pointlessness of the debacle did not stop these two leaders from using innocent people as canon fodder and unleashing their full forces to destroy each other’s rudimentary infrastructure.

            For the last eight years, the two countries have wasted billions of dollars and millions of man-years of labor on their stalemated war effort. This is particularly outrageous when taking into considerations that these states are two of the poorest and most underdeveloped countries on the face of the earth. Every year, millions of their citizens suffer from famine. Year after year they make it through only with the help of international aid. All these resources, which were wasted on a futile war effort, could have made significant impact on alleviating the deplorable lot of their respective citizens.

The situation has spiraled downward, dragging the whole region into an abyss of conflict, disorder and tragedy. Ethiopia and Eritrea are fighting a proxy war in Somalia. Ethiopia invaded Somalia in support of the defunct Transitional Somali Government. To counter Ethiopia’s move, Eritrea, according to many observers, has supported the radical Islamist group known as the Union of Islamic Courts that aims to oust the transitional Somali government.  The end result: a quagmire of war and the “worst humanitarian crisis in Africa,” according to UN reports. 

Moreover, this conflict is evolving into a perfect storm where clan, ethnic, and national conflicts are being supplanted by an ominous religious conflict between Christians and Moslems that threatens the whole region. This is what the leaders of the Union of Islamic Courts had in mind when they declared Jihad on Ethiopia. The United State’s involvement in this war, which it sees as an extension of its global effort against El-Qaeda, is escalating the conflict into the mother of all Jihads. The strong alliance between Ethiopia and the United States has alienated Eritrea. This has made Eritrea ally itself with the Union of Islamic Courts. The Bush administration has threatened to declare Eritrea a sponsor of terrorism.

            The Eritrean and Ethiopian regimes are also fomenting armed conflicts by supporting and arming opposition groups in each other’s countries. Eritrea is supporting the Ogaden Liberation Movement, Oromo Liberation Forces, and so on, while Ethiopia is arming anti-Isaias groups. These subversive acts, fostered by the two regimes for mere tactical gains, are steering the whole region into strategic chaos. Moreover, the venomous crude propaganda drummed up by the media of both countries is poisoning the relationship between these fraternal peoples who, for centuries, had lived and cooperated with each other in good times and bad.

            What is the root cause of this conflict and why has it been burning unabated for so long? Can so much human agony, destruction of hundreds of thousands lives and squandering of resources be justified by the conquest of a piece of barren land?  No. The truth is, this conflict is a diversion. The two regimes are whipping up this conflict because they have failed to answer the social, political and economic needs of their people. As long as these countries are locked in endless quarrels, the rulers are not held accountable for the shortcomings of their domestic policies. Instead, the ramshackle economy and social misery can be blamed on the state of permanent war. Deprivation of human rights and political freedom can be justified as necessary to national security. Therefore, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the present rulers of the two states have little vested interest in bringing peace to this hapless region.           

            For the masses of Ethiopia and Eritrea, this war is simply an act against humanity. Those who have returned back to their villages after the previous war have barely put their broken lives back together, and now they live their daily lives under the threat of another devastating war.  They lack the rudimentary political rights and venues to express their indignation as their sons and daughters are forcefully conscripted to fight and die, as their villages are turned into theaters of war, and as millions of the old and the young are again forced into refugee camps for shelter.

             Under the Algiers Accords, both countries agreed that the demarcations of Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission would be final and binding and that their forces would stay out of the temporary security zone. But when the Boundary Commission on April 2002 accorded the dusty town of Bademe to Eritrea, Ethiopia reneged on its agreement.  Eritrea showed its unhappiness with the UN’s failure to force Ethiopia to abide by its agreement by putting roadblocks on the UNMEE’s activities. UNMEE force dwindled from 4200 strong to barely a few hundred.  Its mobility was virtually halted when Eritrea refused to supply it with fuel.  This led to the Security Council ‘s decision to end UNMEE when its mandate expires on July 31.

            However, this resolution negates what the UN stands for in this situation and other conflicts around the globe. If the UN backs off every time it is faced with resistance, how can it accomplish its goals? How can it be relevant in the real world? Even the Secretary-General’s assessment of the situation underlines the risk of a resumption of hostilities ”by accident or design, following the withdrawal of UNMEE, remains a reality.”  Is the UN waiting for another horrific war to break out, tens and thousands of people to die and millions of people to suffer needlessly?  In Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s situation, the issue is clear: It is a crisis between two member states with legally binding accords. The UN has economic, political and moral instruments at its disposal to strongly persuade both parties to comply.

            The international community has a tendency to wait passively until disaster strikes.  It is harder to undo harm once it has been done. There is an opportunity to act proactively. If the world community can be more forceful in exposing and condemning the belligerent acts of these regimes, if it can impose military and economic sanctions judiciously, peace can be achieved at minimal cost to the peoples of Ethiopia and Eritrea and to the international community at large. The time is still ripe to take decisive action.


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