World View: Crimean Tatars and Ukraine Seek Help from Sunni Muslim Countries

World View: Crimean Tatars and Ukraine Seek Help from Sunni Muslim Countries

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Ukraine joins Crimea’s Tatars in appealing to Turkey and Saudi Arabia
  • Putin seeks to ‘rehabilitate’ the Crimean Tatars
  • Israel cancels peace talks after Palestinian reconciliation

Ukraine joins Crimea’s Tatars in appealing to Turkey and Saudi Arabia

Ukraine is applying to join the Organization for Islamic Cooperation(OIC) as an associate member as a move to protect the 300,000 Tatarsliving in 300 Muslim communities on the Crimean peninsula, which wasannexed by Russia. The OIC was established in 1969 “to safeguard andprotect the interests of the Muslim world.” It has a membership of 57states. Russia, with a population of 27 million Muslims, is anassociate member.

While the world’s attention has been focused on eastern Ukraine andthe question of whether Russian troops will invade, Russia still hasmany problems to deal with in the newly annexed Crimea. Ukraine’s OICapplication is part of the growing ethnic tensions between the CrimeanTatars and the ethnic Russians. A recent statement by a Russianofficial that if Tatars don’t like it in Crimea, “then they shouldleave!” is provoking fears that Russia plans to drive all Tatarsoff Crimea. 

Crimea is the historic homeland of the Tatars. In 1944, Russian dictator Josef Stalin deported 200,000 Tatars from Crimea to centralAsia, accusing them of collaborating with the Nazis. It was only inthe 1980s and 1990s that the Tatars returned in large numbers toCrimea, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union andUkraine’s independence. The Tatars see today’s worsening situation asa sign that Russian president Vladimir Putin plans to repeat Stalin’smass deportation of Tatars. Islam in Ukraine (Trans) and Jamestown

Putin seeks to ‘rehabilitate’ the Crimean Tatars

On April 10, a delegation of Crimean Tatars reached SaudiArabia to apply for associate membership in the OIC. Althoughit may take a few months for the application to be reviewed, it’sexpected to be granted. In addition, Turkey’s Foreign Ministryhas issued a strong statement demanding that the rights ofthe Crimean Tatars be protected. 

Putin responded on April 21 by signing a decree to “rehabilitate”all the ethnic groups in Crimea that suffered repression under Stalin. According to Putin: 

Taking advantage of an opportunity, I would like toinform colleagues that I have signed a decree on rehabilitation ofthe Crimean Tatars, the Armenian population, Germans, Greeks – allthose who suffered from Stalin’s repressions.

It’s doubtful that Putin’s rehabilitation decree will do much toremediate the tension, which may lead to violence. That scenario isparticularly possible on May 25, when Ukraine’s presidential electionsoccur. Russian activists in Ukraine have already said that they planto do everything possible to disrupt the elections. Particularlyvulnerable will be tens of thousands of Crimean Tatars, who are stillUkrainian citizens who, having refused to accept Russian passports, willtry to cross the border into Ukraine’s mainland to vote and return.Itar-Tass (Moscow)and Zaman (Ankara)

Israel cancels peace talks after Palestinian reconciliation

Following Wednesday’s announcement of a reconciliation betweenthe two Palestinian factions — Hamas, which governs Gaza, andthe Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, which governsthe West Bank — Israel’s cabinet voted unanimously to suspendall peace talks and to take unspecified steps in retaliationagainst the move. 

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he will nevernegotiate with a Palestinian government backed by Hamas. According toNetanyahu: 

Instead of choosing peace, Abu Mazen [PalestinianAuthority President Mahmoud Abbas] formed an alliance with amurderous terrorist organization [Hamas] that calls for Israel’sdestruction. Abu Mazen formed an alliance with an organizationwhose covenant calls for Muslims to wage Jihad againstJews.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed “deepdisappointment” at the decision. “Benjamin Netanyahu and his government used the splitbetween the Palestinian factions as an excuse to reject a peaceagreement in the past. Today, they are using Palestinianreconciliation as an excuse for the same thing,” he said. “The only logical explanation is that the Netanyahu government doesnot want peace.”

Jerusalem Post and Jerusalem Post

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Organization for Islamic Cooperation, OIC,Ukraine, Crimea, Tatars, Russia, Vladimir Putin,Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Josef Stalin,Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas, Saeb Erekat 

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