30-Jan-12 World View: Germany Openly Backs Plan to Give EU Control of Greece's Budget

This morning’s key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com.

  • Germany openly backs plan to give EU control of Greece’s budget
  • American embassy in Cairo shelters U.S. citizens threatened with arrest
  • Competing Taliban peace talks begin in Qatar and Saudi Arabia
  • Syria launches new military offensive as Arab League mission ends
  • Syrian soldier recalls the 1982 genocide in Hama
  • Hamas quietly abandons Syria

Germany openly backs plan to give EU control of Greece’s budget

Nicolas Sarkozy preparing for his Sunday TV interview (AFP)
Nicolas Sarkozy preparing for his Sunday TV interview (AFP)

Greece reacted strongly over the weekend to a leaked German proposal for a European budget commissioner to oversee the country’s fiscal policy. Greece’s Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos Sunday dismissed the idea, saying:

“Whoever puts before a people the dilemma of choosing between financial assistance and national dignity disregards basic historical lessons.”

I assume that he was referring to historical lessons related to World War II and Nazi Germany. Despite the backlash in Athens, the plan received open backing from German Economy Minister, and vice chancellor, Philipp Roesler:

“We need more leadership and monitoring in implementing the course of reform (in Greece).

If the Greeks fail to do this themselves, the leadership and monitoring must come in a stronger way from outside, for example through the EU.”

Despite the increasingly vitriolic debate, France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy in a Sunday TV interview said that the measures taken to end Europe’s financial crisis were taking effect:

“Europe is no longer on the edge of the abyss. The elements of a stabilization of the financial situation in the world and in Europe are in place.”

In response to this, a member posted in the Generational Dynamics forum the following from a speech given by President Herbert Hoover, at the annual dinner of the Chamber of Commerce of the United States on May 1, 1930:

“While the crash only took place six months ago, I am convinced we have now passed the worst and with continued unity of effort we shall rapidly recover. There is one certainty of the future of a people of the resources, intelligence and character of the people of the United States — that is, prosperity.”

Sarkozy is facing likely defeat in an approaching Presidential election, but he received good news on Sunday: German Chancellor Angela Merkel will join Sarkozy at campaign rallies in coming weeks to boost his reelection chances.

Kathimerini and Agence France-Presse (AFP)

American embassy in Cairo shelters U.S. citizens threatened with arrest

In what appears to be a dramatic worsening in Washington’s relationship with Egypt, the American embassy in Cario on Sunday took the highly unusual step of sheltering “a handful” of U.S. citizens employed by pro-democracy nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) who have been prevented from leaving Egypt, and may be threatened with arrest. This situation has become international news because one of the people prevented from leaving is Sam LaHood, the son of US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. It’s not known whether LaHood is among those staying in the embassy. Washington Post

Competing Taliban peace talks begin in Qatar and Saudi Arabia

Afghanistan’s President Hamid Karzai, in conjunction with the government of Pakistan, is planning to meet with Taliban representatives in Saudi Arabia to discuss a peace process. Karzai has been angered by a peace process with the Taliban initiated by the U.S., with meetings in Qatar, and has launched what is evidently a competing peace process, with different Taliban representatives. It’s not known whether the two sets of Taliban representatives approve of each others peace process. BBC and AFP

Syria launches new military offensive as Arab League mission ends

Free Syrian Army fighters patrol a street in Damascus suburb (Reuters)
Free Syrian Army fighters patrol a street in Damascus suburb (Reuters)

Syria launched a major military offensive to seize back parts of Damascus controlled by the Free Syrian Army, defectors from the regime of president Bashar al-Assad. Government forces killed at least 19 people in some of the bloodiest fighting in the capital since Syria’s 10-month uprising began. Witnesses inside Damascus described scenes of mayhem, with troops shelling residential areas and fierce house-to-house fighting. With the suspension of the Arab League observer mission, which al-Assad was using as a cover for more violence, the regime is re-imposing the media blackout that was lifted slightly with the Arab League mission. “With no Arab observers and not much media presence left things could now get a lot worse,” said a western diplomat. “Any constraining hand has gone. It makes it all the more urgent to achieve something at the UN this week and that can’t be taken for granted.” Guardian

Syrian soldier recalls the 1982 genocide in Hama

February 2 marks the 30th anniversary of the massacre in Hama, Syria, perpetrated by the regime of Hafez al-Assad, the father of the current president, killing some 40,000 people. A young conscript took part in the genocide and now, 52 years old, he told his story to a BBC interviewer (my transcription):

“They told us the people of Hama they all of them are terrorists and criminals, and we have to kill them all. We have to clean the city from them. That’s what we heard them say. They have the weapons, and [we had to] to kill the people everywhere. So we have to defend [ourselves].

Nobody had a weapon. We saw people in the street protest — they had nothing — kids, women, you know. And then we started shooting people everywhere, we started going house by house, and we take people from the houses, and we put them on the wall without even asking him what’s your name, what’s your id, what’s your job, what are you doing here?

That’s what happened. We stayed three years doing that, and we killed people everywhere. You see their bodies everywhere. You see them smell bad. Because the bodies stay there a couple of days, nobody picks them up.

We don’t ask what’s your name, we don’t’ ask what your id. It just doesn’t matter, Sunni, Shia, Alawite, girls, boys, old, young, we kill everyone, everybody.

Sometimes we kill the kids like 6, 7, 3 years old by the tank, because we attack the houses and the buildings, and people living inside, and of course every house has kids and children. We kill them all. We bury too many thousand people live, we bury them with the dead people.

I will never forget anything. Everything that I spoke to you now, I have in front of my eyes. I remember everything. I remember all the blood, in Hama. …

We kill people handicapped, sick in their bed, we go inside their houses. We see people sick, they have medication, they have oxygen, some people they don’t see, they don’t hear, they’re half blind. We kill them. We go street by street, street by street. We go inside the houses, house by house, we take these people, we collect these people, and move to the end of the street, and we kill them.

Sometimes you collect four hundred people, sometimes 200, sometimes 600. I swear on my kids – until now, I sometimes wake up, I talk to myself, I cry. I have dreams, bad dreams, you know. Because I remember everything. What I see, it’s too much. We buried live people, live innocent people. We killed girls, women, pregnant women, they killed the pregnant woman by the knife, they killed them sometimes in the neck like you kill a lamb or a goat. I swear, believe me.

I speak out now because now maybe somebody listen to this what I’m saying. I say you know what. We have to do action. We can’t just keep our mouths shut, when we hear what’s happening in Hama.

We have to bring this evil to justice.”

BBC World Service Newshour (at 47:00)

Hamas quietly abandons Syria

Without any major announcement, Khaled Meshal, the leader of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, has effectively abandoned his longtime base in Damascus, Syria. According to a Hamas leader in Gaza, “The situation there does not allow the leadership to be present. There are no more Hamas leaders in Damascus.” Meshaal has been embarrassed by Bashar al-Assad’s violent crackdown, with more than 5,000 people reported killed. Many victims of the regime forces have been Sunni Muslims allied to the Muslim Brotherhood, whose support Meshaal relies on. The Syrian uprising has also caused a major rift between Hamas and Iran. Day Press News