Can BRICS Summit pacify China-India standoff?

Updated 26 August 2017
0

Can BRICS Summit pacify China-India standoff?

All eyes are on the three-day BRICS Summit in China, starting Sept. 3, when a meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and China’s President Xi Jinping is expected to take place.
The handshake between the two leaders might ease ongoing tension between the world’s two most populous countries over the Doklam plateau.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs refused to comment on the meeting when contacted by Arab News.
The plateau falls at the tri-junction of India, China and Bhutan. It has long been a point of dispute between New Delhi and Beijing. Recent tensions began on June 18, when India stopped Chinese workers from extending a road on the plateau southward near the Doka La pass on the Sino-Bhutanese territory.
India opposes the extension as it is close to its border. Bhutan says it is also against China building roads in the disputed area.
“Doklam is a disputed territory, and Bhutan has a written agreement with China that pending a final resolution of the boundary issue, peace and tranquility should be maintained in the area,” said Vetsop Namgyel, the Bhutanese ambassador to India.
New Delhi says the road construction is close to the Siliguri corridor, which connects mainland India with its northeastern side, which shares 90 percent of its borders with neighboring countries.
“Such construction would represent a significant change of the status quo, with serious security implications for India,” said the India’s Ministry of External Affairs.
To counter the Indian move, Beijing sent reinforcements to the area in the third week of June, and described New Delhi’s apprehensions as “ridiculous.”
Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China’s Foreign Ministry, warned that if the intrusion were not stopped, it would lead to “utter chaos.”
“A prerequisite basis for the settlement of the trespass is the unconditional withdrawal of personnel and equipment from the Indian side,” he said after Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh urged China to take a “positive step from its side.”
Sudheendra Kulkarni, head of the Mumbai chapter of the Observer Research Foundation, told Arab News: “This problem would’ve been nipped in the bud had there been strategic trust between Modi and Xi.”
Kulkarni said: “It’s because of lack of trust that the issue has erupted in such a serious manner. Even at this stage, the issue should be resolved peacefully.”
Indian Express columnist C. Raja Mohan wrote: “One of the unintended consequences for China from the Doklam crisis would be an India that is forced to think far more strategically about coping with China’s power.”
But Kulkarni thinks “the strategic shift in Indian foreign policy from a non-aligned nation to a strategic ally of the US is also an issue in this conflict.”
He added: “China is our neighbor, and good neighborliness should be at the heart of any foreign policy.”
Mohan warned that after the Doklam issue, “political goodwill in India toward China that was constructed over the last three decades will be increasingly difficult to sustain in the coming years.”


Arab refugees in sights of Berlin’s crime ‘clans’

Updated 18 December 2018
0

Arab refugees in sights of Berlin’s crime ‘clans’

  • Berlin crime gangs of Arab origin have long earned infamy with violence and brazen robberies
  • Police warn they have targeted a new generation of refugees for recruitment

BERLIN: Berlin crime gangs of Arab origin have long earned infamy with violence and brazen robberies but now, police warn, they have targeted a new generation of refugees for recruitment.
Known in the media as Berlin’s “clans,” whose founders themselves fled war in Lebanon in the 1980s, they have long controlled much of the city’s illegal drugs trade, street prostitution and protection rackets.
While East European and Asian organized crime and homegrown biker gangs are also active, the clans have been especially visible, given many members’ love of gangster bling and muscle cars.
The dozen or so Arabic and Kurdish-origin extended families, with their patriarchal structures and codes of honor, have also been mythologized by rap artists and portrayed in the TV series “4 Blocks.”
Now police warn that the clans have sought out new members from among the over one million asylum-seekers who have arrived in Germany since mid-2015, half of them from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
The clans “are trying to get others to do the dirty work” such as selling drugs or committing small burglaries, said Benjamin Jendro of the GDP police union.
Many refugees, he said, are “men who have arrived alone in Germany” and who “have not yet had to do with the justice system,” making it less likely they will go to prison if caught.
An undercover police investigator also told Die Welt newspaper that “above all, it is the young, physically strong men who are in the sights of the clans, who make them do the dirty work.”


The migrant wave that peaked three years ago sparked a xenophobic backlash in Germany, and stoked heated debate about integration efforts and crimes committed by foreigners.
This has thrown a new focus on the clans and raised questions about how Berlin’s police could let them openly flout the law for so long in a generally fairly low-crime country.
Germany’s best-known rapper, Bushido, long boasted about his close ties to one Berlin clan — until they had a falling out this year and he sought the protection of a rival group.
Bushido’s wife, Anna-Maria Ferchichi, told news weekly Stern that the couple now feared for their lives from gangsters who had formed “parallel societies right here in Germany.”
The clans’ latest show of force was the September 13 funeral of an infamous underworld figure, when 2,000 mourners congregated in the Islamic section of a Berlin cemetery, watched over by some 150 police.
In scenes Stern described as “worthy of a mafia movie,” they paid their last respects to Nidal Rabih, a 36-year-old violent repeat offender who had been shot dead in front of his family days earlier.
Rabih, a Palestinian born in Lebanon, had achieved cult status in the Berlin criminal underworld.
Boasting more than 100 offenses from robbery to attempted manslaughter, he had spent more than a decade behind bars but avoided a 2004 deportation attempt when Lebanon refused to issue him a passport.
Days after his death, Berlin municipal workers guarded by police whitewashed over a wall mural at the murder scene that depicted Rabih in the style of a martyred Islamic fighter.


Sociologists say the story of Berlin’s clans is a cautionary tale about failed integration.
Their patriarchs mostly arrived in the 1980s as refugees from then war-torn Lebanon, among them Palestinians and members of Turkey’s Arabic and Kurdish minorities.
Many had only temporary protection status and “did not have access here to education or work,” said Islamologist Mathias Rohe, arguing that this sped up the descent into delinquency.
The extended families, aside from now running large chunks of Berlin’s illegal economy, have also committed some of the city’s most headline-grabbing criminal stunts.
In 2010, masked men wielding machetes and guns robbed a poker tournament in the Berlin Grand Hyatt, making off with about 240,000 euros ($270,000).
In 2014, robbers rampaged through Berlin’s KaDeWe luxury department store, smashed glass displays and stole watches and jewelry worth 800,000 euros.
And last year, clan-linked bandits stole a 100-kilogramme (220-pound) Canadian commemorative gold coin worth over 3.75 million euros from Berlin’s Bode museum, around the corner from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s apartment.


Berlin’s police is now under fire for having long neglected the problem — something researcher Ralph Ghadban blames partially on a “fear of stigmatising and discriminating against certain minorities.”
In recent months, authorities have started to hit back by stepping up raids of shisha bars and betting shops, many in Berlin’s Neukoelln district, and confiscating expensive cars for speeding.
In August, police and prosecutors seized 77 properties worth 10 million euros, alleged to have mostly been bought with proceeds from a major 2014 bank robbery.
Some of the properties were officially owned by one convicted bank robber’s 19-year-old brother whose only declared income was state welfare.
The confiscations still have to stand up in court against challenges from the clan’s expensive lawyers, but authorities believe they have struck a first blow.
“We’re stepping on their toes,” said Berlin interior minister Andreas Geisel. “We’re spoiling their fun in Berlin.”