Two proposals for safe zones on the Syria-Turkey border conflict

October 24, 2019

Meetings of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) are being held at the NATO Headquarters today and on Friday 25 October (further information here).

Germany’s defence minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer presented a proposal for an internationally controlled security zone on the Syria-Turkey border to the NATO Defence Ministers today in Brussels. Read more here.

No reference was made to the 22nd October agreement reached by the Presidents of Turkey and Russia on the size of a Turkish ‘safe zone’ in Syria, to be patrolled by the two sides jointly. Russia and Turkey have also agreed to help refugees to return to the area

Though NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO would continue to support the fight against IS in Iraq and Afghanistan, especially through the training of local forces, he sees the goal right now in Syria is to find a political solution.

He welcomed the German defence minister’s recent calls for an international presence in northeastern Syria as an encouraging proposal for a political solution.

So far so good by current standards, but far better – after slaughter in countries too poor to fight back has been aided and abetted for years by several ‘civilised’ Western powers – for all to take to heart the message from veteran Harry Patch:

“War is organised murder, and nothing else”.






Wise words from Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif

October 11, 2019

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, after an address by President Hassan Rouhani on Sep. 27th to the UN Security Council, highlighted different aspects of the ‘Hormuz Peace Endeavor’.

President Rouhani had invited all the all regional nations directly affected by the developments in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz to join the Coalition for Hope: the “Hormuz Peace Endeavor,” to ensure security in the Persian Gulf countries. A link to an address given by President Hassan Rouhani of Iran in 2013 to the United Nations General Assembly is added for those, like the writer, who have never heard him speak at length.

From the UN website we learn that he acknowledged, “the presence of the United Nations seems necessary” for the creation of an international umbrella in support of the Coalition for Hope.

He described Iran’s security doctrine as being based on “the maintenance of peace and stability in the Persian Gulf”, providing free navigation and safety of movement in the Strait of Hurmuz, which recent incidents have “seriously endangered”.

Stressing that after 18 years, the US has failed to reduce acts of terrorism, he maintained that Iran however, “managed to terminate the scourge of Daesh with the assistance of neighboring nations and governments”. “America is not our neighbor”, he underscored. “The United States is located here, not in the Middle East” and is “not the advocate of any nation” nor “the guardian of any State . . . “stability in the Middle East should be sought inside the region rather than outside of it”.

On the 10th October the Financial Times published an article by Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif which opened:

“This is a significant moment for our neighbourhood. We are witnessing an escalation in tensions and insecurity, threatening to spiral out of control and result in untold tragedies. The four-and-a-half-year war in Yemen has brought the region to the brink of disaster and resulted in measures against Saudi Aramco’s facilities.”

He continued:

“For too long now there has been mistrust, acrimony and conflict in the community around the Strait of Hormuz.

“For too long, states have armed themselves and invaded, bombed or embargoed each other. 

“For too long, foreign forces have come to our region to project their power, not to protect our people. 

“And for too long our peoples have suffered.

“We can, collectively, choose to remain on this path of instability and tension, and await the unknown. Or, we can instead choose peace, security, stability and prosperity for all. The UN was given a mandate in 1987 to furnish the necessary umbrella for such a regional arrangement”.

Iran proposes that meetings of experts, think-tanks, the private sector, senior officials, ministers and heads of state be set up to deliberate on common objectives and design approaches to challenges including:

  • energy security
  • freedom of navigation for all.
  • arms control
  • security building measures,
  • the establishment of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction,
  • the prevention and resolution of regional conflicts.
  • a Hormuz Community Non-Intervention and Non-Aggression Pact.

The experts would be able to address vital issues of cyber security, nuclear safety, protecting the environment —particularly the marine environment. Co-operation over the treatment of migrants, refugees and displaced persons could be promoted by bringing together relevant agencies within a humanitarian task force.

He called on the leaderships of other regional states, and in the academic and diplomatic communities, to join in forging a blueprint for peace, security, stability and prosperity, ending,“We all have grievances about the past. Iran, after eight years of regionally financed aggression and 40 years of foreign-sponsored attacks and separatism, has much to complain about.

“But as the great poet and sage Rumi wrote 800 years ago: ‘Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there’ ”.

Video: Alican Ayanlar and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif discuss relations with Saudi Arabia, tensions with the US and the nuclear deal: 10.10.19.





Handing over New Zealand’s Disarmament and Security Centre

September 11, 2019

Many readers first met Robert Green in the ‘90s as a member of Just Defence and co-author – with Dr Frank Barnaby – of Deterring War Responsibly: a new defence policy for Britain. He recently wrote:

As I approach my 75th birthday, we are handing over our centre to a new team of young workers, who are attracting some fresh energy, commitment and support. The Disarmament and Security Centre (DSC) is a non-profit charitable organisation based in Aotearoa New Zealand. We specialised in disarmament and peace issues and carried out research and disarmament education in these areas.

20 Australian students from Monash University, Melbourne recently visited our centre in our home down here in Christchurch, to hear about the work of my wife Dr Kate Dewes and myself to pass on NZ’s nuclear free legacy, and raise awareness about the irresponsible hoax of nuclear deterrence – see our new website at

My focus now is to try to find ways to encourage the wave of young campaigners inspired by Greta Thunberg to broaden their campaign to include nuclear deterrence – which is a more immediate threat. To this end, I briefed the Monash students on a new report from an Australian thinktank in their own city – an analysis of climate-related security threats – (NB the Foreword by Admiral Chris Barrie RAN (Ret’d), former Chief of Australia’s Defence Forces).





War cannot solve any problem. . . If you solve one by waging war, four more spring up

September 2, 2019

Dawn News, one of Pakistan’s 24 hour news channels, reports that Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed the first International Sikh convention, which began on Saturday at the Governor’s House in Lahore and was attended by Sikh delegates from the United States, United Kingdom and Europe.

Prime Minister Imran said that he realised that Kartarpur and Nankana Sahib were as holy for Sikhs as Makkah and Madina were for Muslims, and promised to make access for Sikh pilgrims as easy as possible.

“This is not a favour, this is our duty,” he said.

He also addressed the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan and expressed particular concern for the residents of Indian-occupied Kashmir, who have been under a restrictive lockdown for the past 27 days.

The premier told the attendees of the convention that his overtures for peace had been dismissed by the Indian government, and the latter had continued to put forward conditions before it would engage, commenting: “[They acted] like a superpower does when telling a poor country to ‘do this, do that’. I was very surprised”.He denounced the idea of war, saying:

“I do not believe that war can solve any problem. Whoever thinks that, is not sensible, has not read world history. If you solve one problem by waging war, four more spring up because of it. Everyone who has tried to solve problems by waging war has lost, even in victory. It takes years for a country to recover from the losses.”








Global Campaign on Military Spending: Colin Archer IPB Secretary-General (retired)

August 27, 2019

The Global Campaign on Military Spending (GCOMS) is an international campaign founded in December 2014 and promoted by the International Peace Bureau (IPB) following the first Global Days of Action (GDAMS), which have been an annual occurrence since 2011. The main aim is to reduce the global military spending thanks to the cooperative work of the organisations of civil society. So far, more than 100 organizations from 35 nations have joined the campaign. The GCOMS is run by a steering group of activists from all over world, and is coordinated by the Center of Peace Studies J.M.Delàs in Barcelona, a decentralized office of IPB. It works through its members to change government policy and practice on military spending.

The overall goal is to achieve major reallocations of military expenditures (especially in high-spending countries) to five broad alternative areas, which include:

1. Peace: disarmament, conflict prevention and resolution, human security;

2. Sustainable development and anti-poverty programmes;

3. Climate change and biodiversity loss –for mitigation and adaptation;

4. Public services/social justice, human rights, gender equality and green job-creation;

5. Humanitarian programmes to support the most vulnerable groups.

All the above are part of a wider global transformation towards a culture of peace.


Continues here:






Global Days of Action on Military Spending (GDAMS)

August 22, 2019

Gill Hurle of MAW draws attention to GDAMS 2019 Final Report which presents a summary of 2019 Global Days of Action on Military Spending, including an overview, highlights, materials and a compilation of all actions carried out, accompanied by a selection of pictures.

During 26 days, from April 13 to May 9, over 110 GDAMS events took place in 27 countries all around the world:

USA, Canada, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay, Argentina, Norway, Finland, Germany, UK, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Cameroon, Azerbaijan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, India, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

See more on GDAM’s Facebook page

As in previous years, these events varied in shape and size depending on countries and partners, generating a whole range of actions that included street protests/demonstrations, seminars, press conferences, joint statements, interviews, workshops, stalls, leafleting, petitions, letters, peace vigils, penny polls, school rallies, videos and photos.

These diverse actions highlighted the unacceptable global military expenditure of $1.82 trillion in 2018 while linking it to different national and local realities.

GDAMS 2019 Final Report

Download the full report here









The Strait of Hormuz: is Germany a self-righteous pacifist – or wise and clearsighted?

August 13, 2019


Constanze Stelzenmüller, the Robert Bosch Senior Fellow at America’s the Brookings Institution (see funding details) condemns Germany’s refusal to lead a naval mission to protect the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world’s most important oil trading routes because of Iran’s ‘nefarious role in destabilising the Middle East and supporting Islamist terrorism’ (FT 7.8.19).

Iranian patrol boat circling the detained the Swedish owned Stena Impero, which sails under a British registered flag

Ms Stelzenmüller finds Germany’s ‘posturing as a self-righteous pacifist’ unconvincing, citing its involvement in an EU anti-piracy forces operating off the Horn of Africa and in a May article asked whether Germany, is in denial or is ‘hedging’ against a bullying and erratic America with the help of authoritarian powers like Russia and China. (9.5.19)

Germany has offered an EU observer mission that would collect information about attacks, but not escort ships or give them military protection.

Having read her article, Robert Hunter, US ambassador to Nato (1993-98),’ widely recognized as one of the Nation’s leading authorities on Europe and the Middle East, in all dimensions’, responded (12.8.19).

Though he designed the 1980 Carter Doctrine, guaranteeing the security of oil transiting Hormuz which has aimed to prevent any state from completely dominating the Gulf since then, he challenged Ms Stelzenmüller’s description of Iran’s role in the Middle East, writing.

“Beyond any doubt, the title for promoting Islamist terrorism — Taliban, al-Qaeda, Isis, Boko Haram — belongs to Saudi Arabia, with help from the UAE”.

He recommends Germany and other European countries, including the UK, not to send warships to the Gulf, but to demand that President Donald Trump rejoins the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), adding:

“With Iran’s leaders, he shares responsibility for the current crisis. The Europeans need to have the guts to stand up to the US president when he is contributing so much to endangering everyone’s security. Otherwise, what is the point of being allies?”