Human Rights, geopolitics and the Union for the Mediterranean
The US Department of Defense’s Unified Command Plan, 2011
The Union for the Mediterranean: an instrument of soft power for the globalization of NATO.
US foreign policy displays a clear will to preserve control over the armies of conquered territories. The geographical division of the world into zones of responsibility – American responsibility – is an obvious proof of this. In this regard, NATO is in fact the result of a conquest – that of the European nations who were occupied at the end of the Second World War. In the pursuit of its interest in globalising its power and rendering nations subservient, NATO has progressively revealed its true goals by pursuing enlargement in spite of the collapse of the USSR which it was supposed to contain.
The EU co-opted by NATO
The occupation of Europe has been consolidated politically with the European Union which acts as a vassal of US interests. The EU strengthens the integration of NATO into Europe and by extension established a military and administrative cooperation with the USA. When in 1995 Europe turned towards its Mediterranean neighbours with the Barcelona process (or EUROMED) a new means was offered to the USA to extend its hegemony. Officially based on a desire to create links with its Mediterranean neighbours, the project underwent a change thanks to the efforts of Nicolas Sarkozy. In 2008 his efforts bore fruit with the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean which groups the twenty-seven member states of the EU with sixteen neighbouring states in North Africa and the Middle East. This new regional organisation gave itself the goal of “promoting the economic and democratic integration” of these sixteen countries.
Among these states there are some which have no Mediterranean coast like Mauritania and Jordan. They are nonetheless members of NATO’s Mediterranean Dialogue. Created in 1994, this initiative initially included Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. The group was enlarged to include Jordan in 1997 and Algeria in 2000. It allows Egyptian, Moroccan and Jordanian troops to take part in NATO peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and Bosnia.
(1) In 2004, a new initiative was launched by NATO, this time in Turkey, the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative, which also served as a link between the Gulf Cooperation Council and NATO.
(2) This Initiative is an extension of the Mediterranean Dialogue to which it is in fact identical apart from its geographic scope which is the Persian Gulf. These two initiatives have been progressively strengthened with the creation of the Union for the Mediterranean.
The USA and its allies therefore have a double strategy – a strategy of military cooperation with NATO and a strategy of soft power imported from the USA and run by the Union for the Mediterranean, one of whose goals is the “democratisation” of its member states. On the African continent, this project is viewed as a direct competitor of, and as a means to weaken, the African Union, a project led by the Libyan Arab Republic. Libya in fact is a mere observer in the Union for the Mediterranean. The project also favours the geographical division of Africa along the lines suggested for AFRICOM as well as along those supported by the neo-conservative believers in the Clash of Civilisations. The Union for the Mediterranean detached North African from the African continent just as these other plans do. The Middle Eastern countries which are members of the Union for the Mediterranean (Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Palestine) are also part of the New Middle East project and are the very centre of the foreign policy of the EU, the USA and Israel.
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network and American soft power.
All the member states of the Union for the Mediterranean have one thing in common: in the last century they were all either colonies or under European mandates. This makes it possible to use the experience of these European nations to remodel these countries, to destabilise and exploit them. In any case, the domestic problems these countries face are often the consequences of colonisation, of intervention and of previous strategic projects like the OCRS(3) or the French Mandate in Syria. (4)
Since 1995, the Barcelona Process has been preparing the ground by calling for the application of certain recommendations in human rights. In parallel, and officially in order to contribute to the application of these recommendations, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network was born. It was at a meeting held at the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Copenhagen in 1997 that a dozen individuals decided to create this network(5) Denmark is no stranger to NATO because, ten years later, its Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was to become its Secretary General. Denmark is also one of the keys to soft power, in the sense that its contribution to international NGOs is far greater than that of the USA. This was to be very useful to the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network.
The Network opted from the outset to work together with the objectives of the Barcelona Process as of the European Commission and the governments and parliaments of the partner countries. The European Parliament sub-committee on Human Rights as well as the committee on political security issues cooperates with the Network. On its web site, the Network nonetheless presents itself as “A network of more than 80 human rights organisations, institutions and individuals based in 30 countries in the Euro-Mediterranean region.” However, as soon as it was created, the Network decided to set up a network of NGOs which goes well beyond the borders of the EU and the Mediterranean and which, in particular, extends to the other side of the Atlantic.
The Network’s funding corresponds perfectly to these objectives because it comes principally from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) which was chosen by the Network itself as its principal collaborator. In second place comes funding from the European Commission (€ 618, 222 in 2002) and then funding from various Foreign Ministries and governmental agencies of European states: France (€ 59,000 in 2009), Spain (€ 125,000 in 2006) and so on. Non-European foundations like the Ford Foundation (€107,689 in 2008) and the Peace Foundation of New Zealand have also given generously to the Network. (6)
The links between the National Endowment for Democracy and the pro-NATO lobby in the Human Rights Council
The National Endowment for Democracy (NED) which is a governmental agency in the USA notorious for its role in promoting regime change by means of intervention in sovereign electoral processes, can also sow division in the civil society of numerous countries. The NED does not finance the Euro-Mediterreanean Human Rights Network directly but it has managed, since at least the wars in Central Africa, to build partnerships with European NGOs. Above all, it works with the International Human Rights Federation which groups together 164 NGOs around the world. The Network has supported NED’s work by improving partnerships with other large European NGOs, which are also members of the Network and which are very active in those countries targeted by Washington since at least the “Arab spring”.
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies is a key NGO within the Network and it is also a member of the International Federation of Human Rights. It was founded in 1993 by Bahey El Din Hassan who was elected member of the Executive Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network at its second meeting in 1997. In December 2011, he participated in a meeting of the Atlantic Council co-organised by the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East dealing with Egypt which is his country or origin. (7) That meeting discussed the arrest of members of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the National Endowment for Democracy who were accused of interference in Egyptian internal affairs.
Bahey El Din Hassan’s Cairo Institute plays an important role because it is in reality an organisation which carries out lobbying for the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network and for the NED within the Human Rights Council of the United Nations in Geneva. The organisation takes part in the largest possible number of sessions concerning the states of the Middle East and North Africa. Its guiding principle is intervention and it regularly accuses governments of human rights violations in order to obtain support from the Council for supposedly humanitarian interventions. This was the case for Syria, on which Radwan Ziadeh, the recipient of a grant from the NED, spoke in the name of the Cairo Institute at the 18th special session of the Human Rights Council. (8)
The organisation therefore facilitates entry into the Human Rights Council for other member organisation of the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network like Ziadeh’s Damascus Center for Human Rights Studies. Ziadeh takes part in round tables which award the Democracy Award for human rights activists selected by the US Department of State. (9)
The Libyan League of Human Rights has also been a member of the Euro Mediterranean Human Rights Network since 1999. It was officially represented by Ali Zeidan who was to become 10 years later the spokesman for the Libyan National Transitional Council as well as a negotiator on Libya’s oil interests with the powers that were waging the military campaign against Gaddafi.
Ali Zeidan was the originator of the claim that 6,000 people were killed by Gaddafi. The Libyan League for Human Rights also made a number of unproven allegations against the then Libyan government at the 15th Special Session of the Human Rights Council in February 2011. These claims were taken at face value by the Human Rights Council itself and then by the General Assembly but without ever being examined. They then became the justification for Security Council resolutions 1970 and 1973. These allegations were based on no evidence whatever and several current ministers of the National Transition Council were either before or at the time also members of the Libyan Leage for Human Rights. (10)
The Secretary-General of the Libyan League for Human Rights, Sliman Bouchuiguir, who was also the organisation’s spokesman at the Human Rights Council, has since become the Libyan ambassador to Switzerland. In 1979 he published a book “The Use of Oil as a Political Weapon: A Case Study of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo”.(11) Bouchuiguir’s thesis supervisor was Bernard Reich of Washington University. Bernard Reich is one of the great theoreticians of the common policy of the US and Israel in the Middle East and he is also interested in Israel’s policy in Africa. He is a champion of the New Middle East project and is a consultant for a large number of institutes, notably the Atlantic Council. (12)
The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights institute has also accredited a list of “Associate Members” into the network. Certain organisations are well known for their links to the US State Department such as Amnesty International. Its new Executive Director, Suzanne Nossel, was appointed fresh from her previous job at the Permanent Mission of the USA to the United Nations.
The president of the French branch, Geneviève Garrigos, was one of the first to declare, under obvious pressure from the French Foreign Ministry, that, “We have received information that Gaddafi is using mercenaries” before recognising five months later that, “This was only a rumour spread by the media.” (13)
It was the Swiss branch of Amnesty, in the person of Manon Schick, who said publicly that military operation was necessary to secure a possible “humanitarian mission” in Syria. (14)
Among other members of the network there are organisations which are very active in arguing for humanitarian intervention both in the media and also in the Human Rights Council. Examples of this are Human Rights Watch where Suzanne Nossel also used to be Head of Operations. (15)
AFRICOM: a humanitarian NATO for Africa
These supposed NGOs are in reality para-governmental organisations whose goal is to introduce the concept of interventionism in those regions where NATO and its allies want to intervene to pursue their geo-strategic interests. These NGOs are acting in complete contradiction with the statutes of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, ECOSOC, the office whose role it is to accredit them. They are not allowed to received any government funding if they want certain kinds of accreditation.[i] It is now known that this rule can be easily bypassed by receiving funding from large foundations or networks, but also by being funded by the NED and the numerous partnerships it has managed to create. These organisations do not necessarily have links to the secret services of other countries but they behave like them: they collect information on the situation in a country and they produce propaganda which is then used at the Human Rights Council. Above all, they damaged genuine local civil society, they divide it and they deprive it of legitimacy by recruiting within it individuals and organisations which follow their political agenda.
The United Nations’ Charter and structure were created to permit sovereign states to express themselves in order to promote a dialogue(16) which favours international stability. Unfortunately the UN has been corrupted by countries whose arrogance is matched only by their decline and which are therefore forced to operate more and more behind these supposed NGOs. This simple observation should encourage us to reflect on the intentions of these NGOs whose activities undeniably have a destabilising effect on the international situation.
In this context, the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network can be seen for what it is: a joint venture by the USA and the EU to achieve their ultimate goal of globalising NATO. The first stage consisted in depriving European nations of their sovereignty and in making them integrate their armies into NATO. The second stage was to co-opt the foreign policy of these states into that of NATO. These countries henceforth apply the strategies of intimidation used in soft power whose goal is to create pretexts for humanitarian intervention. The final stage will be to co-opt the neighbours and the former colonies of these European states as is currently happening with AFRICOM, the US military command structure for Africa. AFRICOM is supposed to become the NATO for Africa and it has already provided training since 2002 for a large number of African troops. It was in fact AFRICOM which ran the operations against Libya, NATO intervening only in second place. As for the doctrines of soft power and the “responsibility to protect”, which did so much to protect the lives of Libyan civilians, they are applied by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network whose goals are now clear.
Julien Teil, Senior Associate, Centre for the Study of Interventionism.
1. Security cooperation with the Mediterranean region and the broader Middle East http://www.nato.int/docu/mediterranean/secopmed-e.pdf
2. Istanbul Cooperation Initiative http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_58787.htm?
3. The Organisation commune des regions sahariennes, (OCRS) covered the Sahel and the Sahara. It included Mali, Niger, Chad and Algeria. France’s goal at the time was to group together all the significant resources of the region (gas, oil and uranium) into a single state in order to make it easier to extract them. The project was abandoned with the rise of African liberation movements. France abandoned the project after Algeria became independent in 1962.
4. The French Mandate in Syria (1920 – 1946) was the direct result of the Sykes-Picot agreement. Several projects were drawn up, all based on the division of Syria. Some of the current ethnically-based demands against the regime of Bashar al-Assad by the Syrian opposition were originally proposed by France when she was the Mandate power.
5. Report of the Founding Meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (1997)
6. Core Network Documents:
7. The Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East held a lunch discussion with Bahey El Din Hassan, Director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and one of Egypt’s leading human rights activists, on December 2, 2011.
8. Speech by Radwan Ziadeh at the 18th Special Session of the UN Human Rights Council
9. “Syria: Intervention or Mediation”, Centre for the Study of Interventionism
10. “Humanitarian War in Libya: there is no proof !”
11. The Use of Oil as a Political Weapon: A Case Study of the 1973 Arab Oil Embargo
12. Dr Bernard Reich ; Lectures, Presentations and Seminars
13. “Gaddafi’s Mercenaries and the Division of Africa”:
14. See “Syria: Intervention or Mediation: Centre for the Study of Interventionism”
15. For a complete biography of Suzanne Nossel, see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qTSWe2UJ3c
16. Introduction to ECOSOC Consultative Status