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CATALONIA: Not Iraq nor Yugoslavia, but a uniquely EU problem

Every independence movement has its own characteristics and therefore must be understood based on these unique circumstances rather than through a prism of universality.

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Tomorrow, Catalans will head to the polls in a referendum which is being held in defiance of the Spanish regime in Madrid. The referendum has exposed s clear deficiency in European democracy, although it is rarely discussed in those terms due to the ethnocentrism of the western mainstream media.

Before discussing the nature and implications of tomorrow’s vote, it is important to understand that not all independence/secession movements are the same and therefore they cannot be uniformly analysed, supported or opposed based on a universal standard.

In contemporary geo-politics, there are several varieties of such movements, each with unique characteristics.

1. The Reunification of Peoples 

In many ways, this ought to be the most clear-cut and least violent form of ‘independence’ movement, but history has proved that this is not always the case.

While the German people began a process of peacefully reuniting after November 1989, the single Korean people remain divided due to similar political considerations which once split Germany.

While the Korean War is effectively a frozen conflict, the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir face separation from their brethren in Pakistan due to the militant policies of successive Indian governments. In Jammu and Kashmir, violence and war is a daily fact due to India’s insistence that the Kashmiri people do not unite with their brethren in Pakistan.

In Crimea, Russians peacefully voted to reunite with the Russian Federation in 2014, but in other parts of the former Russian Empire and former Soviet Union, Russian refugees remain either ransom to foreign governments or in the case of many Russians in the Baltic states, they live as stateless people.

The votes in Donetsk and Lugansk for independence from the fascist Kiev regime are examples of an attempt to begin a peaceful reconciliation and re-unification process with other Russians, although the Donbass referenda also correlate to another kind of independence movement.

2. Independence for survival 

Prior to 2014, the Russian populations of Ukraine, were more or less comfortable with the uneasy balance of Ukrainian internal politics which was achieved by the Party of Regions which consistently won votes in Russian areas.

While The Party of Regions was committed to the unity of a Ukrainian state which artificially slammed together regions of historically rival nations, the Party of Regions worked within international institutions. in order to maintain an economic and free movement union with the fraternal Russian Federation.

This all changed drastically when the Kiev coup of 2014 put a regime in power which was and remains actively hostile to the Russians of Ukraine and to Moscow itself. Hence, the Donabss Republics were proclaimed after a democratic vote to separate from the Kiev regime.

Arab unity and Russian unity – the Donbass and Kurdistan case study

3. Independence through terrorism 

The late 20th and 21st century has seen a number of independence movements which do not represent a significant majority of people in a given region, nor are they achieved peacefully or with any form of consent.

The classic example of this was the breakup of Yugoslavia where ultra-nationalists in Croatia, Bosnia and later the Serbian Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija used violence, warfare and terrorism to break-up the unity of Yugoslavia a state whose federal model of third way socialism, was once a model for peaceful coexistence through a unifying state ideology and mutually shared prosperity.

However, foreign actors, particularly Germany, France, Britain and later the United States, aided militants and terrorists in their break-up of Yugoslavia.

Far from being an independence movement, the break-up of Yugoslavia evolved into an encircling attack on the Serbian populations of Yugoslavia. Serbs continue to be ethnically cleansed and disenfranchised in the occupied province of Kosovo and Metohija as well as in Republika Srpska which continents to shelter Serbs from the Bosnia regime in Sarajevo.

The former parts of Yugoslavia are without few if any exceptions, worse off today than they were prior to the wars and terror campaigns of the 1990s.

Likewise, in Pakistan, Baluchistan has been a hotbed of terrorism aimed at Pakistan, much of which is funded and aided by India.  Pakistan has continually warned India not to fund terrorist separatism in Baluchistan, but these warnings have been to little avail.

4. Geo-strategic/puppet independence movements 

The recent vote among Iraqi Kurds to separate from the rest of Iraq is a very clear example of a group of people using ethno-nationalism to weaken the geo-strategic positions and security of multiple nations, all while serving the imperialist agenda of a third power: Israel.

Israel is keen on carving out Kurdish statelets from Iraq and Syria in particular, in order to better realise the Yinon Plan to create a so-called Greater Israel at the expense of other states.

Something similar is happening in the west Balkans where Albanian terrorists are fomenting a campaign of ethno-nationalism. In using minority populations in Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro and Greece, in order to make moves towards a so-called Greater Albania, the Albanian NATO state is exploiting minority populations in the service and for the benefit of the United States, just as sure as Israel is exploiting the Kurds in order to destroy Arab unity and weaken the position of Iran and Turkey in the Middle East.

Implicit if this form of separatism is also an ethno-nationalist component wherein the seperatist groups disenfranchises or even ethnically cleanse minorities in their historic homes. This is increasingly the case in respect of Kurds via-a-vis Arabs, Assyrians and Turkomen, just as it was and remains the case in respect of Albanians vis-a-vis Slavs, most prominently, against Serbs.

100 years later, the west has authored a new Balfour Declaration for the Balkans

5. Historic regional/sub-state national identities 

When a state is comprised former states who entered into a voluntary union or regions which did something similar, sometimes one side or both agrees to dissolve the union.

A peaceful example of this was the so-called Velvet Divorce between the Czechs and Slovaks in the former Czechoslovakia in 1993.

Other unsuccessful attempts to do something similar were made, including during the Scottish independence referendum in 2014.

Catalonia 

The former Kingdom of Aragon, which included the region of Catalonia, was one of the constituent kingdoms which formed Spain during the 1492 Reconquista, an event remembered by the Muslim world as an ethnic cleansing, but one remembered by Spanish nationalists as a renaissance period.

In spite of this, a part of Spain (as currently comprised), Catalonia retained a distinct culture, language and geo-political attitude. More recently, in the 20th century Catalans  formed an important part of the opposition to the fascist regime of Francisco Franco.

In the late 20th and early 20th century, the Catalan people of a democratic Spain which emerged after the death of Fanrco, being increasingly lobbying for independence.

This became ever more pronounced during the rule of right-wing Prime Minister José María Aznar (1996-2004).

In 2006, the left wing government of José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, granted Catalonia substantial amounts of autonomy. However, subsequent rulings by the High Court in Madrid which was packed by right-wing judges, removed much of this autonomy.

This helped spur the Catalans into a rejuvenated independence movement. They tried for autonomy, won it and then had it taken away by a court decision which many Catalans viewed as corrupt and biased.

Tomorrow, Catalans will vote in an independence referendum that is not recognised by Spain, but one which the independence supporters will almost certainly win.

The vote is different from Yugoslavia and today’s Albanian regional imperialist campaign, in that it is not a matter of violence or an attempt to spread Catalan nationalism to non-Catalan lands. It is also different from the current Krudish secessionist movement in Iraq in so far as Catalan independence does not threaten the security of any state, nor is the movement being used by a foreign power for their own neo-imperial gain. It is also different from Baluchistan, as the Catalan independence movement has nothing to do with using foreign sponsored terrorism as a means to an end, nor like Donbass is it a matter of life and death.

Spain’s folly 

Spain could have easily managed to create an atmosphere of dialogue and reconciliation, but Madrid under the closet Francoist government of Mariano Rajoy, has treated Catalonia like a colony, rather than a region.

Because of this, Catalans have responded by acting as an oppressed nation and it is not difficult to understand why.

Madrid has used cyber-warfare against Catalan websites, including those of the official regional government. Spain has vowed to use police from outside of Catalonia to physically dispute the peaceful vote. Spain has threatened effective martial law on Catalonia before the vote has even taken place and Spain has arrested prominent Catalan political leaders in the style of a banana republic.

For a country that is in the EU, whose principles of freedom of trade and people ought to make regional independence movements less rather than more confrontational, Spain has taken a position which has debased and degraded Catalan people and it is therefore no wonder that they have responded as they have.

The EU which could have made assurances to both sides, that Brussels would maintain a position wherein EU mechanisms for peace, dialogue, freedom of movement and economic exchange would be open to helping foster an atmosphere of trust and democratic engagement. Instead, the EU turned a blind eye for all intents and purposes. For an organisation that has prided itself on peace and unity, the EU has failed to maintain either for Catalonia’s nationalists and for Spain.

Furthermore, the internal and pan European debates about fascism, communism, liberalism, Christianity, monarchy and liberalism were supposed to be moderated, made less caustic and less violent through the EU’s presence in modern pan-Europe politics. The EU has failed in this respect also, as old ideological wounds came to the surface in both Barcelona and in Madrid.

At the same time, Spain a longtime EU member, has spat on democracy, on civil rights and on any sense of civil order, yet the mainstream media remains stunningly silent about this gross violation of modern political norms.

The failure of the EU is only matched by Spain’s failure to live up to so-called European values, values which as many suspect uphold double-standards rather than fair standards.

Conclusion

There is a danger of feeling that one ought to analyse, support or oppose all global independence movements in the same manner. In reality however, each country has its unique character and its own problems and likewise, each independence movement has its own vices and its own virtues.

For Catalonia, it is less about hating Spain, than it is about Catalans feeling crushed by Spain. Spain has treated Catalonia like a colony, something Yugoslavia never did to its federal constituents and something Iraq is not doing with the Kurds.

Every battle has its own victims and its own oppressors. Thanks to the latent far-right tendencies of the current Spanish leadership, Catalonia has been victimised, this is why it has risen in defiance.

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

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The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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