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Tsunami: Paul Buchanan Responds To Reader's Claim

Tsunami: Paul Buchanan Responds To Reader's Claim

By Paul G. Buchanan

Paul G. Buchanan is the Director of the Working Group on Alternative Security Perspectives at the University of Auckland.

  • Ref. Feedback: Bias Is Showing On Arab Tsunami Story
  • Ref. The Tsunami’s Political Victims (and how it swamped al-Qaeda).
  • -------

    Sorry to see an unhappy reader out there. Less anyone else think that there was intentional bias in the essay, let me clarify the storyline.

    I wrote the piece over the weekend, during which time the mentioned charity events occured in Saudi and UAE. My understanding is that these events were run by private entities and the funds are designated for Muslims only. They came in response to mounting criticism from within these countries--in no small part by expatriot communities from the region working in the Gulf states rather than from the Saudi and other Gulf elites--and involve little official government funding. The total amount raised in these events is approximately the same given by the NZ government alone.

    Laudable as the fund-raising is, the fact that it happened in two Arab countries begs the question as to what others are doing. There apparently is a fair bit of discussion within the Arab press about what should be done, and a fair bit of criticism, but the hard fact is that Arab states, as well as others, have been slow and small off the mark when it comes to the relief effort. They may have reasons of state for doing so, just as Russia and China do.

    As it stands, where there has been some government to government contact between Arab donors and victim countries, it has occurred largely in a bilateral fashion outside of the UN coordinated effort, and is overwhelmingly directed towards Indonesia. This may help to free up funds for use elsewhere, but at this point the amounts involved are not that consequential. There is a Muslim relief presence on the ground in Ache, involving the Red Crescent and other small Islamic solidarity groups, but these have deliberately worked outside of the mainstream relief operations (perhaps by mutual agreement).

    Anyway, there was no bias intended, and it is a pity that people get worked up and claim such just because they disagree with a given statement. The reader is correct in that the Arab state angle was not the central theme of the piece.

    Incidentally, less someone argue that I am wrong about Mynamar as well, let me note that the first meeting of a "consultative group" involving international donors and the regime was held yesterday. It only set out some working parameters for the funneling of aid and provides for no concrete outside help as of yet. In fact, the international representatives at the meeting apparently have some severe reservations about the victim estimates given by the government, so it remains to be seen if there will be an honest and open relief effort in that country.

    On another matter, it seems that tensions between the Indonesian military and Western relief operations have risen, with the military not allowing relief groups or foreign military personnel to travel to various parts of Ache province. There is some discussion as to whether various Western relief groups have a hidden agenda of looking for evidence of human rights violations in miltary controlled areas. The military is suspicious of this or just has reasons of its own for not allowing Westerners into the controlled zones, but in either event this could possibly spell the beginning of a schism in the approach to relief operations, at least in Indonesia. Perhaps then Islamic relief eforts will bear a greater load in the delivery of aid to Ache, if for no other reason than that the Indonesian military may trust them more. But at current levels most of the relief money will still come from non-Arab sources and the question remains as to whether these organisations have the logistical capacity to deliver the volume of assistance required.

    In any event, my focus was actually on the possibilities of a new political realginment coming out of the disaster and the perennial question since 9/11: where's Osama?

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