updated 6:05 AM MDT, May 23, 2017
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Scotland seeks second independence referendum

END LONDON RULE GLASGOW -Brexit Fuels Feeling in Scotland That Time Is Right for Independence — Scotland’s nationalists wasted no time: Just minutes after the country’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon, called on Monday for a new independence referendum, a website went live asking people to show their support on Twitter and donate to the campaign. By Tuesday morning, 204,345 pounds, or about $249,000 — more than a fifth of the £1 million target — had been raised; pro-independence banners in Scotland’s blue-and-white colors had gone up across the country; and celebrities were offering support, including the actor Alan Cumming, who shared a Twitter post by Ms. Sturgeon, with the comment, “It’s showtime!” It was an early glimpse of the Scottish nationalists’ formidable campaign machine, evidently little diminished since the last referendum, in 2014. Support for independence rose from about 27 percent at the beginning of that campaign to 45 percent at the final count. Since then, opinion polls suggest that support for independence has edged up again, leaving Scots split almost evenly. Nationalists seem convinced that they can win this time, thanks to Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, known as “Brexit.” And unlike Prime Minister Theresa May’s government in London, which is already stretched by the monumental task of negotiating a divorce settlement with 27 other European governments, Ms. Sturgeon’s troops are ready: Party membership quadrupled after the last referendum and increased further after the decision to quit the European Union. That, one senior British diplomat said of the looming fight with Scotland, is the last thing London needs. Adding to Westminster’s troubles, on Tuesday the leader of Sinn Fein, the Irish nationalist party, called for a referendum on Northern Ireland leaving the United Kingdom and joining Ireland, “as soon as possible.” Even Welsh nationalists, sniffing an opportunity, began talking about independence. Holding a legally binding referendum in Scotland would require the approval of London. Few expect the authorities in Westminster to reject the request, but they could delay the timing, which some say would reduce the likelihood of a vote for independence. The last referendum was billed as a once-in-a-generation event, but the decision to leave the European Union has changed that. Sixty-two percent of Scots voted to remain in the bloc, making Scotland more pro-European even than London. The result crystallized a long-held feeling among Scots that a right-wing Conservative government in London did not represent them and their more-progressive sensibilities. And with the opposition Labour Party in crisis, the Conservative Party looks set to remain in power in London for years to come — possibly “until 2030 or beyond,” as Ms. Sturgeon put it on Monday. “Scotland hasn’t voted Conservative in decades and yet has been ruled by a Conservative government for most of that time,” said Mhairi Black, a Scottish National Party lawmaker in the British Parliament. “We voted against Brexit and people are feeling the injustice of it.” The call for a new referendum has pitted Ms. Sturgeon, the pugnacious leader of Scotland’s semiautonomous legislature, which is dominated by her Scottish National Party, against the tenacious prime minister, Mrs. May, whose Conservatives have an absolute majority in the British Parliament. It has also set two radically different brands of nationalism and economic policy against each other. As the language of national identity gains traction in the West, Scotland is no exception. But the Scottish brand of nationalism looks very different from the far-right varieties that have sprung up elsewhere in Europe — not least in neighboring England, where the U.K. Independence Party, has been the noisiest supporter of Britain’s withdrawal and part of the reason the once pro-European Conservative Party now takes a hard line on immigration, too. Rather than an exclusive nationalism rooted in ethnicity, Scottish nationalists speak of an inclusive civic nationalism that can accommodate American-style hyphenated identities. Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s transport minister and the son of Kenyan and Pakistani immigrants, summed it up: “It doesn’t matter where you come from, what matters is where we’re going as a nation,” he said. “You can be Pakistani-Scottish, Polish-Scottish, even English-Scottish.” For Ms. Sturgeon and Mrs. May, it is a winner-take-all political challenge. Ms. Sturgeon knows that she would need to win a new referendum; another loss would bury all hopes of secession for the foreseeable future. Nationalists point to the French-speaking Canadian province of Quebec, where two independence bids failed, diminishing a once-vibrant secessionist movement. And Mrs. May certainly does not want to become the prime minister who lost Scotland. Taking office after Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, she sought to strike a conciliatory tone, making Edinburgh her first official visit and promising Ms. Sturgeon a partnership. But in recent months, Scottish efforts to secure a special status in the withdrawal negotiations — such as access to Europe’s single market — have fallen on deaf ears. “Our efforts at compromise have instead been met with a brick wall of intransigence,” Ms. Sturgeon said on Monday. A measure of how icy relations between London and Edinburgh have turned is that Ms. Sturgeon’s call for a new referendum seemed to catch Mrs. May by surprise — and might have been the reason she postponed an expected announcement on starting European exit talks on Tuesday. Mrs. May’s frustration was evident. Accusing her Scottish counterpart of “tunnel vision,” the prime minister dismissed the proposed timetable for a Scottish referendum, in the autumn of 2018 or the spring of 2019, as “the worst possible timing.” Ms. Sturgeon wants to hold the vote toward the end of the two-year withdrawal negotiations that are to start this month. By that time, the outlines of a deal — one that would almost certainly leave Britain, and Scotland, outside the free trade area of the single market — would have become clearer. But Britain would not yet have left the European Union. Officials in London would prefer to postpone a vote until after the exit, when the Scots would face the prospect of being outside both Britain and the European Union. As speculation mounted that Mrs. May might delay a vote until after the next Scottish elections in 2021, Ms. Sturgeon hit back on Twitter, reminding the prime minister that she had yet to win an election. “I was elected as FM on a clear manifesto commitment re #scotref. The PM is not yet elected by anyone,” she wrote, referring to her role as first minister. Further complicating matters, there is no guarantee that an independent Scotland would be allowed to join the European Union. Spain, wary of separatist movements in Catalonia and the Basque region getting a lift from such a precedent, appears likely to try to block that move. Already, Spanish officials quoted in the Scottish news media have said that Scotland would have to join the “back of the queue” for membership talks. Privately, some Scottish nationalists say they worry about this, too, which is why the idea of Norway-style access to Europe’s free trade area, rather than full membership, is being discussed in some circles. However things work out, there is an unmistakable note of destiny building in nationalist circles. Three decades ago, Scotland’s independence movement was little more than a fringe voice of romantic protest. Only one in four Scots voted for the nationalists. They have been galvanized above all by a sense of being ignored and patronized by the British Parliament, from the long and unpopular government of the former Conservative prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, through to the vote to leave the European Union. The Thatcher era, which politicized a generation of Scots and recruited activists like Ms. Sturgeon to the nationalist cause, changed Scotland, said Catriona MacDonald, a historian at Glasgow University. The political nationalism of the Scottish National Party is symptomatic of the Scotland that grew out of that time, she said. “Surviving the Thatcher years emboldened Scottishness but it didn’t essentialize it, it made it more accommodating — the opposite of UKIP,” Ms. MacDonald said, referring to the U.K. Independence Party. In theory, the cards should be stacked against independence. Scottish North Sea oil and gas revenues have plummeted since the last referendum on independence, economic growth has slowed and uncertainty about the European Union has deepened. Scotland receives more in payments from London than it sends back in taxes. The question of what currency Scotland would use if it became independent — a prominent question in the last referendum campaign — remains unsolved. But as the economic case for independence has weakened, for many, the emotional and political case has strengthened. Ms. Black, who has said that she may not run for re-election to the British Parliament because she found it “depressing,” said she was angered by the idea “that you should vote against independence because the U.K. economy will suffer after Brexit.” These are fast-moving times and “with independence comes control,” she said. “Would you not rather know that when something happens you are able to respond instead of being at the mercy of a government you didn’t vote for? Souurce Nyt
  • Written by Abdullahi
  • Category: EUROPE

Germany extends military deployment in Somalia


By Johannes Stern

On Thursday, the German parliament voted by a large majority to extend its military operations in Somalia. Of the 578 votes cast, 454 delegates voted for the continuation of German involvement in the mission. There were 115 “no” votes and nine abstentions.

The decision provides for a continuation of earlier commitments to the European Union Training Mission in Somalia (EUTM SOM). Up to 20 soldiers are also to be used in the training of the Somali army and as advisers to the Somali defense ministry. The German military has been active in the Somali mission since 2010, in addition to its other deployments in the Horn of Africa, including Mission Nestor and Operation Atalanta.

The extension of military commitments is part of the effort of German imperialism to establish itself in Africa and, increasingly, to ensure its economic and strategic interests militarily. Most of the 15 theaters in which the German military is currently active are in Africa. According to the military’s latest progress report, in addition to Somalia, German soldiers are active in Mali, Senegal, Central Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Western Sahara, Sudan and South Sudan. In January, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) announced Germany would support the fight against Boko Haram.

As early as May of last year, the government adopted its “African policy guidelines,” which noted “Africa’s growing relevance for Germany and Europe.” Among other things, “Africa’s potential” derived from its growing, dynamic economy and “rich natural resources.” The German government therefore wanted to substantially strengthen “engagement with Africa’s politics, security policy and developmental policies,” to act “early, quickly, decisively and substantially” and “coordinate the use of … the entire spectrum of available means.”

That is the purpose of the German military intervention in Somalia. Dagmar Freitag, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on the parliament’s foreign affairs committee, justified the extension as follows: “Somalia, as a so-called failed state, threatens the stability of the entire region in the Horn of Africa.” She added, this “remains a central problem in this region.”

The second spokesperson for the government coalition, CDU foreign policy strategist Roderich Kiesewetter, indicated that the mission in Somalia was only the prelude to a much larger intervention in Africa and worldwide. He cynically declared: “We Europeans are not there because we want direct military intervention, but because we want to help people to help themselves. … Above all, however, the roots of terrorism must be fought. It comes not only from Somalia, but also Boko Haram, Kenya and other countries like Nigeria and Libya. It also threatens, as we have just seen in Yemen, the security of Africa, the Arabic world and Europe.”

The spokespersons for the Greens and the Left Party, who voted against extending the deployment, made clear in their remarks that they only have tactical differences with the government.

Frithjof Schmidt of the Greens proposed to temporarily suspend the deployment, owing to the insufficient dependability of Somali forces. He underscored, however, that his party supported German militarism in Africa: “We Greens stand by the buildup of security structures—especially in crisis-ridden African countries—and are open to the deployment of the military. My fraction supports the European training mission in Mali and has also supported the military mandate in the Central African Republic, in South Sudan and Darfur.”

Alexander Neu, who sits on the defense committee for the Left Party, criticized the “security policy concept of the West regarding the war on terrorism.” It would “only fight the symptoms,” he said. Above all, he complained of the close foreign policy collaboration with the US. “German state policy” would “rather participate in US war crimes—under cover, of course—than respect international law and human rights when it comes to German-American relations and German-American interests.” That is “the opposite of a responsible foreign and security policy.”

Neu’s argument makes two things clear. First, the Left Party articulates sentiments among growing sections of the ruling class, who are of the opinion that Germany must develop a foreign policy independent of the US. Second, it is providing a “human rights” cover for Germany’s return to an aggressive foreign policy.

A meeting that took place a few weeks ago in Bellevue Castle summed up the role of the Left Party. Neu and Christine Buchholz, the party’s defense policy spokesperson, were invited by the defense committee to a March 4 political discussion with President Joachim Gauck.

Buchholz reported on her web site that in the discussion with Gauck, Neu said that “the taking over of responsibility in international relationships is both conceivable and desirable on purely civil terms.” “When considering disaster relief … Germany’s possibilities are far from exhausted. As a positive side effect, its reputation in the world would grow enormously through the use of well-intentioned and civil measures.”

Buchholz imagined “two foreign policy worlds,” but it has hardly ever been clearer that the foreign policy of the Left Party differs from Gauck’s only in nuances. What Neu proposes is exactly what Gauck does—even in Africa!

Only a few weeks before the meeting with the Left Party, President Gauck visited Tanzania and Zanzibar. In Dar es Salam, the capital of the former German East Africa colony, he spoke of “peace and freedom,” “democracy and the rule of law,” and “human dignity and brotherhood.” At the same time, he praised Tanzania as “part of a common market of 145 million people” and applauded the economic and military collaboration of both countries.

Gauck was accompanied by a high-ranking trade delegation led by Christoph Kannengießer, the chair of the German-African Business Association. Just a few months prior, Kannengießer, reacting to the United States-Africa Leaders Summit held last August, demanded that German imperialism be more aggressive in pursuing its interests in Africa—including toward the US.

“For us, this means the Americans would be more relevant us as competitors,” he explained in an interview on Deutschlandfunk. He predicted: “Overall, the competition in these unsaturated markets on the African continent will be stronger and harder. In this respect, I believe that is an impetus for us as Germans and as Europeans to face our challenges and do what is necessary to safeguard our economic interests on the African continent.”

  • Written by Abdullahi
  • Category: EUROPE

Smoke free Ealing khat project wins two awards and recognition from Somali community


By Camilla Horrox

The successful khat project, in Ealing, followed the ban and re-classification of the narcotic leaf khat as a class C controlled drug in June 2014

The stimulant khat has been an illegal class C drug in the UK since July 24 this year

A pioneering Ealing khat project has won a Department of Health award and has a national award voted by the Somali community.

  • Written by Abdullahi
  • Category: EUROPE

Somali asylum seeker Mohamed Sleyum Ali Deported from Ireland, attacked and left to die

No functioning government “He was born in Somalia, like myself, and for us, it’s very difficult to travel,”Suleiman explains. “When you have no functioning government, you don’t have papers and so you have to try and get a Tanzanian passport.”

    Social Affairs
    Mohamed Ali Sleyum
    Garda National Immigration Bureau
    Irish Refugee Council

Mohamed Sleyum Ali must have known his luck was running out when the car in which he was travelling was stopped by gardaí in Dublin.

Although he was not driving, the 27- year-old with Tanzanian papers was still asked for proof of his identity. He tendered his provisional driving licence.

A call was put through to the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB), which confirmed that he was on a deportation order and had been for some time.

  • Written by Abdullahi
  • Category: EUROPE