UK insurance companies helping Myanmar’s brutal regime

UK underwriters ‘helping Myanmar’s brutal regime’

Teak Door, Burmese weekly

Monday July 28, 2008
By Nick Mathiason

The London insurance connection propping up the murderous Myanmar military dictatorship can be revealed in a development that will acutely embarrass leading City of London figures.

Three Lloyd’s of London operators will be named as helping to insure the junta’s state-owned airline Myanma Airways this year. They are Kiln, Atrium and Catlin. All were contacted by the Observer and asked to explain their involvement but refused to comment.

Other Lloyd’s syndicates have shared the risk of insuring the junta’s shipping interests. Without shipping and aviation insurance, the Myanmar Government would not be able to export gems, timber, clothing, oil and gas, which would lead to economic ruin for the generals running the oppressed southeast Asian nation.

Continue reading

Myanmar cyclone: Drug lord crony will profit

But, like every other drug lord who has lasted long enough to salt his gains into legal trades, the secret of his success is not his guns or cunning, but his connections. Continue reading

Calling for an immediate international intervention in Burma

National Campaign for Food and Freedom

Statement of global Burmese democratic forces and supporters

Calling for an immediate international intervention

by creating a coalition of willing

for food and freedoms in Burma





May 28, 2008


We, Burmese democratic organizations, along with Burma campaign groups  around the world are_

  • calling for an immediate international intervention in Burma,
  • reminding the international community that this is the time to bring a change in the military-ruled country.

  Continue reading

Junta says that foreign aid is not needed; Nargis survivors can live on frogs

Junta says that foreign aid is not needed;

Nargis survivors can live on frogs

From Moe Thee Zun

Myanmar state media resumes its attack on western nations:

they are without humanitarian spirit if they continue to link economic aid to relief workers access to the worst hit areas. (Because SPDC could not get 99% as commission for aid delivery. The Myanmar Tatmadaw had already decided generously to hand ove 1%of donated aids to victims.)

The government censures all information relating to Nargis.

Yangon (AsiaNews) – Myanmar’s survivors of cyclone Nargis “do not need foreign food aid; they can feed themselves on frogs and fish that abound in the worst hit areas”.  

The New Light of Myanmar newspaper, a government mouthpiece, has re-launched its attack on foreign relief workers and condemned donors for “linking aid money to full access to the hardest-hit regions in the Irrawaddy Delta”.

Continue reading

Intervene in Burma Now

Intervene in Burma Now

_ by Yebaw Day  in Burma Digest

1. ChiCom Masters are too busy with their Earthquake victims, and also in suppressing the Tibetans, and preparing for the Olympics, so they will not be able to help SPDC very much.
2. SPDC just lost about 300 men and 25 boats in their navy, and lost the South West Command in Pathein area.  So the entire Irrawaddy Division area is quite vulnerable for a beach landing, just like in the movie, the Longest Day, D-Day 6 June 1944. Continue reading

Burma aid: Conference pledges millions of pounds

Burma aid: Conference pledges millions of pounds

The UN chief, Ban Ki-moon, said today he hoped Burma had reached “a turning point” in getting help to its cyclone survivors after an international aid conference pledged million of pounds in assistance.

The meeting came as supporters of the democratically elected leader of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi, have been speculating that the ruling junta is planning an easing of her house arrest conditions or even a release, as part of its concessions to huge international pressure.

Three weeks after Cyclone Nargis swept through Burma killing an estimated 134,000 people and leaving millions homeless, Ban struck a hopeful note at the start of the one-day meeting in the Burmese capital, Rangoon, attended by representatives from more than 50 nations. Continue reading

Burmese church leader calls for intervention

Burmese church leader calls for intervention

By: Toby Cohen

A BURMESE Christian leader has appealed for a United Nations military force to intervene in Burma (Myanmar).
The Rev Maung Doe, the principal of the Holy Cross Seminary, Insein, on the northern outskirts of Rangoon, said: “We hope the UN will invade with US support and EU support. We cannot do anything.

“The democratic leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, won the election [in 1990], but she could not do anything when the government did not hand over power. We had demonstrations, thousands of people came, and still no change.” Continue reading

Who cries for Burma? Not Malaysia, not Asean

Roshan Jason | May 23, 08                                                                                        Malaysiakini /letters

 I refer to the Malaysiakini report No regrets in supporting Burma to join Asean.

I cannot help but be appalled at_

  • the ignorance and insensitivity of the Malaysian government_
  • when it comes to the humanitarian – and political – crisis surrounding Burma.
  • Malaysia has displayed an extreme lack of awareness to the reality of the situation in a country which has been ruled by various brutal military dictators for the past 46 years.
  • In displaying no regrets when supporting a military regime that_
  • has no qualms about allowing its citizens to needlessly suffer the after-effects of a natural disaster,
  • Malaysia has proven that it does not care for the welfare of the people in Burma – ‘a close neighbour’.

Burma is what it is today – no different, if not worse than 10 years ago when it joined Asean – because of government representatives like our Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri. Continue reading

Photo proof of:Irresponsible United Nations is dragging its feet in applying “responsibility to protect” the Burmese people

Photo proof of:


Irresponsible United Nations’ dragging its feet


in applying “responsibility to protect”


the Burmese people



  Continue reading

NATO should not practice: No Action Talk Only in Burma

NATO should not practice:

No Action Talk Only in Burma


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 50°52′34.16″N, 4°25′19.24″E

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Organization du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord
Flag of NATO
Flag of NATO
NATO countries shown in blue
NATO countries shown in blue
Formation 4 April 1949
Type Military alliance
Headquarters Brussels, Belgium
Membership 26 member states and 14 major allies
Official languages English, French
Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer
Chairman of the Military Committee General Raymond Henault
NATO Portal

NATO 2002 Summit in Prague. NATO 2002 Summit in Prague.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); French: Organization du Traité de l’Atlantique Nord (OTAN); (also called the North Atlantic Alliance, the Atlantic Alliance, or the Western Alliance) is a military alliance established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, the organization constitutes a system of collective defense whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However the Korean War galvanised the member states, and an integrated military structure was build up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. Thoughout the Cold War doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasion. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organisation became drawn into the Balkans while building better links with former potential enemies to the east, which culminated with three former Warsaw Pact states joining the alliance in 1999. Since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks NATO has attempted to refocus itself to new challenges and has deployed troops to Afghanistan and Iraq.


  • 1 History of NATO
    • 1.1 Beginnings
    • 1.2 Détente
    • 1.3 KAL 007 and NATO deployment of missiles in W. Europe
    • 1.4 Post Cold War
    • 1.5 After the September 11 attacks
    • 1.6 Expansion and restructuring
    • 1.7 Involvement in Afghanistan: Taking over ISAF
    • 1.8 NATO missile defence talks controversy
  • 2 Membership
    • 2.1 Future enlargement of NATO
  • 3 Cooperation with non-member states
    • 3.1 Euro-Atlantic Partnership
    • 3.2 Individual Partnership Action Plans
  • 4 Structures
    • 4.1 Political structure
      • 4.1.1 List of officials
    • 4.2 Military structure
    • 4.3 Organisations and Agencies
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links


History of NATO



The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western European Union’s Defence Organisation in September 1948.However, participation of the United States was thought necessary in order to counter the military power of the Soviet Union, and therefore talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately.

These talks resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states, as well as the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Support for the Treaty was not unanimous; Iceland suffered an anti-NATO riot in March 1949 which may have been Communist-inspired. Three years later, on 18 February 1952, Greece and Turkey also joined.

The Parties of NATO agreed that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense will assist the Party or Parties being attacked, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force” does not necessarily mean that other member states will respond with military action against the aggressor(s). Rather they are obliged to respond, but maintain the freedom to choose how they will respond. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels (which founded the Western European Union) which clearly states that the response must include military action. It is however often assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. Further, the article limits the organization’s scope to Europe and North America, which explains why the invasion of the British Falkland Islands did not result in NATO involvement.

The outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat level greatly (all Communist countries were suspected of working together) and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans. The 1952 Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO’s Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to 96 divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly 35 divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organisation’s chief civilian was also created, and Baron Hastings Ismay eventually appointed to the post. Later, in September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Operation Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway. Meanwhile, while this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion (‘Operation Gladio’), initially made by the Western European Union, were being transferred to NATO control. Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO’s armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.

In 1954, the Soviet Union suggested that it should join NATO to preserve peace in Europe. The NATO countries, fearing that the Soviet Union’s motive was to weaken the alliance, ultimately rejected this proposal.

The incorporation of West Germany into the organization on 9 May 1955 was described as “a decisive turning point in the history of our continent” by Halvard Lange, Foreign Minister of Norway at the time. Indeed, one of its immediate results was the creation of the Warsaw Pact, signed on 14 May 1955 by the Soviet Union, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and East Germany, as a formal response to this event, thereby delineating the two opposing sides of the Cold War.

The unity of NATO was breached early on in its history, with a crisis occurring during Charles de Gaulle’s presidency of France from 1958 onward. De Gaulle protested the United States’ strong role in the organization and what he perceived as a special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. In a memorandum sent to President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Prime Minister Harold Macmillan on 17 September 1958, he argued for the creation of a tripartite directorate that would put France on an equal footing with the United States and the United Kingdom, and also for the expansion of NATO’s coverage to include geographical areas of interest to France, most notably Algeria, where France was waging a counter-insurgency and sought NATO assistance.

Considering the response given to be unsatisfactory, and in order to give France, in the event of a East German incursion into West Germany, the option of coming to a separate peace with the Eastern bloc instead of being drawn into a NATO-Warsaw Pact global war, de Gaulle began to build an independent defence for his country. On 11 March 1959, France withdrew its Mediterranean fleet from NATO command; three months later, in June 1959, de Gaulle banned the stationing of foreign nuclear weapons on French soil. This caused the United States to transfer two hundred military aircraft out of France and return control of the ten major air force bases that had operated in France since 1950 to the French by 1967.

In the meantime, France had initiated an independent nuclear deterrence programme, spearheaded by the “Force de frappe” (“Striking force”). France tested its first nuclear weapon, Gerboise Bleue, on 13 February 1960, in (what was then) French Algeria.

Map of Major USAF bases in France before Charles de Gaulle's 1966 withdrawal from NATO military integrated command. Map of Major USAF bases in France before Charles de Gaulle’s 1966 withdrawal from NATO military integrated command.

Though France showed solidarity with the rest of NATO during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, de Gaulle continued his pursuit of an independent defence by removing France’s Atlantic and Channel fleets from NATO command. In 1966, all French armed forces were removed from NATO’s integrated military command, and all non-French NATO troops were asked to leave France. This withdrawal forced the relocation of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) from Paris to Casteau, north of Mons, Belgium, by 16 October 1967. France remained a member of the alliance, and committed to the defence of Europe from possible Communist attack with its own forces stationed in the Federal Republic of Germany throughout this period. France rejoined NATO’s Military Committee in 1995, and has since intensified working relations with the military structure. France has not, however, rejoined the integrated military command and no non-French NATO troops are allowed to be based on its soil. The policies of current French President Nicolas Sarkozy appear to be aimed at eventual re-integration.

The creation of NATO brought about some standardisation of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting U.S. practices. The roughly 1300 Standardization Agreements (STANAGs) codifies the standardisation that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.62×51 NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries. Fabrique Nationale’s FAL became the most popular 7.62 NATO rifle in Europe and served into the early 1990s. Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.


During most of the duration of the Cold War, NATO maintained a holding pattern with no actual military engagement as an organization. On 1 July 1968, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty opened for signature: NATO argued that its nuclear weapons sharing arrangements did not breach the treaty as U.S. forces controlled the weapons until a decision was made to go to war, at which point the treaty would no longer be controlling. Few states knew of the NATO nuclear sharing arrangements at that time, and they were not challenged.

On 30 May 1978, NATO countries officially defined two complementary aims of the Alliance, to maintain security and pursue détente. This was supposed to mean matching defences at the level rendered necessary by the Warsaw Pact’s offensive capabilities without spurring a further arms race.

On 12 December 1979, in light of a build-up of Warsaw Pact nuclear capabilities in Europe, ministers approved the deployment of U.S. GLCM cruise missiles and Pershing II theatre nuclear weapons in Europe. The new warheads were also meant to strengthen the western negotiating position in regard to nuclear disarmament. This policy was called the Dual Track policy. Similarly, in 1983-84, responding to the stationing of Warsaw Pact SS-20 medium-range missiles in Europe, NATO deployed modern Pershing II missiles tasked to hit military targets such as tank formations in the event of war. This action led to peace movement protests throughout Western Europe.

KAL 007 and NATO deployment of missiles in W. Europe

With the background of the build-up of tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, NATO decided, under the impetus of the Reagan presidency, to deploy Pershing II and cruise missiles in Western Europe, primarily West Germany. These missiles were theatre nuclear weapons intended to strike targets on the battlefield if the Soviets invaded West Germany. Yet support for the deployment was wavering and many doubted whether the push for deployment could be sustained. But on Sept. 1, 1983, the Soviet Union shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, a Boeing 747 with 269 people aboard, in international waters just past the west coast of Sakhalin Island – an act which Reagan characterized as a “massacre”. The barbarity of this act, as the U.S. and indeed the world understood it, galvanized support for the deployment – which stood in place until the later accords between Reagan and Mikhael Gorbachev.

The membership of the organization in this time period likewise remained largely static. In 1974, as a consequence of the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greece withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure, but, with Turkish cooperation, were readmitted in 1980. On 30 May 1982, NATO gained a new member when, following a referendum, the newly democratic Spain joined the alliance.

In November 1983, NATO manoeuvres simulating a nuclear launch caused panic in the Kremlin. The Soviet leadership, led by ailing General Secretary Yuri Andropov, became concerned that the manoeuvres, codenamed Able Archer 83, were the beginnings of a genuine first strike. In response, Soviet nuclear forces were readied and air units in East Germany and Poland were placed on alert. Though at the time written off by U.S. intelligence as a propaganda effort, many historians now believe that the Soviet fear of a NATO first strike was genuine.


Post Cold War

The NATO Secretary General, the U.S. President, and the Prime Ministers of Latvia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Estonia after a ceremony welcoming them into NATO on 29 March 2004 at the Istanbul Summit. The NATO Secretary General, the U.S. President, and the Prime Ministers of Latvia, Slovenia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria, and Estonia after a ceremony welcoming them into NATO on 29 March 2004 at the Istanbul Summit.

The end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact in 1991 removed the de facto main adversary of NATO. This caused a strategic re-evaluation of NATO’s purpose, nature and tasks. In practice this ended up entailing a gradual (and still ongoing) expansion of NATO to Eastern Europe, as well as the extension of its activities to areas that had not formerly been NATO concerns. The first post-Cold War expansion of NATO came with the reunification of Germany on 3 October 1990, when the former East Germany became part of the Federal Republic of Germany and the alliance. This had been agreed in the Two Plus Four Treaty earlier in the year. To secure Soviet approval of a united Germany remaining in NATO, it was agreed that foreign troops and nuclear weapons would not be stationed in the east. The scholar Stephen F. Cohen has argued that a commitment was given that NATO would never expand further east, but this appears to be a misperception; no formal commitment of the sort was made.

As part of post-Cold War restructuring, NATO’s military structure was cut back and reorganized, with new forces such as the Headquarters Allied Command Europe Rapid Reaction Corps established. The Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe agreed between NATO and the Warsaw Pact and signed in Paris in 1990, mandated specific reductions. The changes brought about by the collapse of the Soviet Union on the military balance in Europe were recognized in the Adapted Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty, signed some years later.

The first NATO military operation caused by the conflict in the former Yugoslavia was Operation Sharp Guard, which ran from June 1993-October 1996. It provided maritime enforcement of the arms embargo and economic sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. On 28 February 1994, NATO took its first military action, shooting down four Bosnian Serb aircraft violating a U.N.-mandated no-fly zone over central Bosnia and Herzegovina. Operation Deny Flight, the no-fly-zone enforcement mission, had begun a year before, on 12 April 1993, and was to continue until 20 December 1995. NATO air strikes that year helped bring the war in Bosnia to an end, resulting in the Dayton Agreement, which in turn meant that NATO deployed a peacekeeping force, under Operation Joint Endeavor, first named IFOR and then SFOR, which ran from December 1996 to December 2004. Following the lead of its member nations, NATO began to award a service medal, the NATO Medal, for these operations.

Between 1994 and 1997, wider forums for regional cooperation between NATO and its neighbours were set up, like the Partnership for Peace, the Mediterranean Dialogue initiative and the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council. On 8 July 1997, three former communist countries, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Poland, were invited to join NATO, which finally happened in 1999.

A NATO bombing campaign, Operation Deliberate Force, began in August, 1995, against the Army of Republika Srpska, after the Srebrenica massacre. On 24 March 1999, NATO saw its first broad-scale military engagement in the Kosovo War, where it waged an 11-week bombing campaign, which NATO called Operation Allied Force, against what was then the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in an effort to stop Serbian-led ethnic cleansing. A formal declaration of war never took place (in common with all wars since World War II). The conflict ended on 11 June 1999, when Yugoslavian leader Slobodan Milošević agreed to NATO’s demands by accepting UN resolution 1244. During the crisis, NATO also deployed one of its international reaction forces, the ACE Mobile Force (Land), to Albania as the Albania Force (AFOR), to deliver humanitarian aid to refugees from Kosovo.[11] NATO then helped establish the KFOR, a NATO-led force under a United Nations mandate that operated the military mission in Kosovo. In August-September 2001, the alliance also mounted Operation Essential Harvest, a mission disarming ethnic Albanian militias in the Republic of Macedonia.

The United States, the United Kingdom, and most other NATO countries opposed efforts to require the U.N. Security Council to approve NATO military strikes, such as the ongoing action against Yugoslavia, while France and some others claimed that the alliance needed U.N. approval. The U.S./U.K. side claimed that this would undermine the authority of the alliance, and they noted that Russia and China would have exercised their Security Council vetoes to block the strike on Yugoslavia, and could do the same in future conflicts where NATO intervention was required, thus nullifying the entire potency and purpose of the organization.

After the September 11 attacks

NATO Defence Ministers' Summit in Poiana Braşov, 13-14 October 2004 NATO Defence Ministers’ Summit in Poiana Braşov, 13-14 October 2004

The expansion of the activities and geographical reach of NATO grew even further as an outcome of the September 11 attacks. These caused as a response the provisional invocation (on September 12) of the collective security of NATO’s charter-Article 5 which states that any attack on a member state will be considered an attack against the entire group of members. The invocation was confirmed on 4 October 2001 when NATO determined that the attacks were indeed eligible under the terms of the North Atlantic Treaty. The eight official actions taken by NATO in response to the attacks included the first two examples of military action taken in response to an invocation of Article 5: Operation Eagle Assist and Operation Active Endeavour. Operation Active Endeavour is a naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea and is designed to prevent the movement of terrorists or weapons of mass destruction as well as to enhance the security of shipping in general. It began on October 4, 2001.

Despite this early show of solidarity, NATO faced a crisis little more than a year later, when on 10 February 2003, France and Belgium vetoed the procedure of silent approval concerning the timing of protective measures for Turkey in case of a possible war with Iraq. Germany did not use its right to break the procedure but said it supported the veto.

On the issue of Afghanistan on the other hand, the alliance showed greater unity: On 16 April 2003 NATO agreed to take command of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. The decision came at the request of Germany and the Netherlands, the two nations leading ISAF at the time of the agreement, and all 19 NATO ambassadors approved it unanimously. The handover of control to NATO took place on 11 August, and marked the first time in NATO’s history that it took charge of a mission outside the north Atlantic area. Canada had originally been slated to take over ISAF by itself on that date.

In January 2004, NATO appointed Minister Hikmet Çetin, of Turkey, as the Senior Civilian Representative (SCR) in Afghanistan. Minister Cetin is primarily responsible for advancing the political-military aspects of the Alliance in Afghanistan. In August 2004, following U.S. pressure, NATO formed the NATO Training Mission – Iraq, a training mission to assist the Iraqi security forces in conjunction with the U.S. led MNF-I.

On 31 July 2006, a NATO-led force, made up mostly of troops from Canada, Great Britain, Turkey and the Netherlands, took over military operations in the south of Afghanistan from a U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition.

Expansion and restructuring

Map of NATO countries chronological membership. Map of NATO countries chronological membership.

New NATO structures were also formed while old ones were abolished: The NATO Response Force (NRF) was launched at the 2002 Prague Summit on 21 November. On 19 June 2003, a major restructuring of the NATO military commands began as the Headquarters of the Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic were abolished and a new command, Allied Command Transformation (ACT), was established in Norfolk, Virginia, USA, and the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) became the Headquarters of Allied Command Operations (ACO). ACT is responsible for driving transformation (future capabilities) in NATO, whilst ACO is responsible for current operations.

Membership went on expanding with the accession of seven more Northern European and Eastern European countries to NATO: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and also Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. They were first invited to start talks of membership during the 2002 Prague Summit, and joined NATO on 29 March 2004, shortly before the 2004 Istanbul Summit. The same month, NATO’s Baltic Air Policing began, which supported the sovereignty of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by providing fighters to react to any unwanted aerial intrusions. Four fighters are based in Lithuania, provided in rotation by virtually all the NATO states. Operation Peaceful Summit temporarily enhanced this patrolling during the 2006 Riga Summit.

A number of other countries have also expressed a wish to join the alliance, including Albania, Croatia, Republic of Macedonia, Georgia, Montenegro and Ukraine. From the Russian point of view, NATO’s eastward expansion since the end of the Cold War has been inconsistent with understandings between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President George H. W. Bush which allowed for a peaceful unification of Germany. NATO’s expansion policy is seen as a continuation of a Cold War attempt to surround and isolate Russia.[15]

The 2006 NATO summit was held in Riga, Latvia, which had joined the Atlantic Alliance two years earlier. It is the first NATO summit to be held in a country that was part of the Soviet Union, and the second one in a former COMECON country (after the 2002 Prague Summit). Energy Security was one of the main themes of the Riga Summit.

At the April 2008 summit in Bucharest, Romania, NATO agreed to the accession of Croatia and Albania and invited them to join. The membership of Macedonia was vetoed by Greece, while Ukraine and Georgia were told that they will eventually become members.

Involvement in Afghanistan: Taking over ISAF

Current membership of NATO in Europe. Current membership of NATO in Europe.

Main article: International Security Assistance Force

In August 2003, NATO commenced its first mission ever outside Europe when it assumed control over International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. However, some critics feel that national caveats or other restrictions undermine the efficiency of ISAF. For instance, political scientist Joseph Nye stated in a 2006 article that “many NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan have ‘national caveats’ that restrict how their troops may be used. While the Riga summit relaxed some of these caveats to allow assistance to allies in dire circumstances, Britain, Canada, the Netherlands, and the U.S. are doing most of the fighting in southern Afghanistan, while French, German, and Italian troops are deployed in the quieter north. Due to the intensity of the fighting in the south, France has recently allowed a squadron of Mirage 2000 fighter/attack aircraft to be moved into the area, to Khandahar, in order to reinforce the alliance’s efforts.[18] It is difficult to see how NATO can succeed in stabilizing Afghanistan unless it is willing to commit more troops and give commanders more flexibility.” If these caveats were to be eliminated, it is argued that this could help NATO to succeed.


NATO missile defence talks controversy

For some years, the United States negotiated with Poland and the Czech Republic for the deployment of interceptor missiles and a radar tracking system in the two countries. Both countries’ governments indicated that they would allow the deployment. The proposed American missile defence site in Central Europe is believed to be fully operational in 2015 and would be capable of covering most of Europe except part of Romania plus Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey.

In April 2007, NATO’s European allies called for a NATO missile defence system which would complement the American National Missile Defense system to protect Europe from missile attacks and NATO’s decision-making North Atlantic Council held consultations on missile defence in the first meeting on the topic at such a senior level.[20]

In response, Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that such a deployment could lead to a new arms race and could enhance the likelihood of mutual destruction. He also suggested that his country should freeze its compliance with the 1990 Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)-which limits military deployments across the continent-until all NATO countries had ratified the adapted CFE treaty.

Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said the system would not affect strategic balance or threaten Russia, as the plan is to base only 10 interceptor missiles in Poland with an associated radar in the Czech Republic.

On July 14, Russia notified its intention to suspend the CFE treaty, effective 150 days later.

Separately, NATO has decided to establish the Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) at Tallinn, Estonia, to assist its member states,[23] in addition to the already-existing internal computer network defence team.



There are currently 26 members within NATO.

Date Country Expansion Notes
April 4, 1949 Flag of Belgium Belgium Founders  
Flag of Canada Canada  
Flag of Denmark Denmark  
Flag of France France France withdrew from the integrated military command in 1966 to pursue an independent defence system. However, there are now plans for it to rejoin sometime in 2008.[24]
Flag of Iceland Iceland Iceland, the sole member that does not have its own standing army, joined on the condition that it would not be expected to establish one. However, it has a Coast Guard and has recently provided troops trained in Norway for NATO peacekeeping.
Flag of Italy Italy  
Flag of Luxembourg Luxembourg  
Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands  
Flag of Norway Norway  
Flag of Portugal Portugal  
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom  
Flag of the United States United States  
18 February 1952 Flag of Greece Greece First Greece withdrew its forces from NATO’s military command structure from 1974 to 1980 as a result of Greco-Turkish tensions following the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus.
Flag of Turkey Turkey  
9 May 1955 Flag of Germany Germany Second Joined as West Germany; Saarland reunited with it in 1957 and the territories of Berlin and the former German Democratic Republic reunited with it on 3 October 1990.
30 May 1982 Flag of Spain Spain Third  
12 March 1999 Flag of the Czech Republic Czech Republic Fourth  
Flag of Hungary Hungary  
Flag of Poland Poland  
29 March 2004 Flag of Bulgaria Bulgaria Fifth  
Flag of Estonia Estonia  
Flag of Latvia Latvia  
Flag of Lithuania Lithuania  
Flag of Romania Romania  
Flag of Slovakia Slovakia  
Flag of Slovenia Slovenia  
TBD April 2009 [25] Flag of Albania Albania Sixth  
Flag of Croatia Croatia  

At the NATO summit in Bucharest (April 2008) Albania and Croatia were officially invited to start accession talks with the alliance.

Future enlargement of NATO

       Current members     Invited members     Promised invitation      Intensified Dialogue     Membership not goal     Undeclared intent

     Current members     Invited members     Promised invitation      Intensified Dialogue     Membership not goal     Undeclared intent

In addition to the above listed members, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (or FYROM) was under consideration to enter NATO in 2009 but was not agreed upon. FYROM is likely to enter the alliance at some point, with Jane’s Defence Weekly commenting on 16 April 2008 that resolution to the naming issue that is holding up entry is ‘likely by the end of this year [2008] and no later than the 2009 summit.’ At the same 2008 summit in Bucharest, the communique explicitly said that Georgia and Ukraine ‘will become members of NATO.’

Other potential candidate countries include, in South-eastern Europe, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Serbia, and Montengro. Other possible, long neutral countries that might become members are Finland and Sweden.


Cooperation with non-member states

     NATO member states      Partnership for Peace countries      Mediterranean Dialogue countries      NATO member states      Partnership for Peace countries      Mediterranean Dialogue countries


Euro-Atlantic Partnership

A double framework has been established to help further co-operation between the 26 NATO members and 23 “partner countries”.

  • The Partnership for Peace (PfP) programme was established in 1994 and is based on individual bilateral relations between each partner country and NATO: each country may choose the extent of its participation. The PfP programme is considered the operational wing of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership.
  • The Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) on the other hand was first established on 29 May 1997, and is a forum for regular coordination, consultation and dialogue between all 49 participants.

The 23 partner countries are the following:

  • Former Soviet republics:
  1. Flag of Armenia Armenia
  2. Flag of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan
  3. Flag of Belarus Belarus
  4. Flag of Georgia (country) Georgia
  5. Flag of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan
  6. Flag of Kyrgyzstan Kyrgyzstan
  7. Flag of Moldova Moldova
  8. Flag of Russia Russia
  9. Flag of Tajikistan Tajikistan
  10. Flag of Turkmenistan Turkmenistan
  11. Flag of Ukraine Ukraine
  12. Flag of Uzbekistan Uzbekistan
  • Countries that (though militarily neutral) possessed capitalist economies during the Cold War:
  1. Flag of Austria Austria
  2. Flag of Finland Finland
  3. Flag of Ireland Ireland
  4. Flag of Sweden Sweden
  5. Flag of Switzerland Switzerland
  • Nations that (though militarily neutral) possessed socialist economies during the Cold War:
  1. Flag of Albania Albania
  2. Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina (as part of Yugoslavia)
  3. Flag of Croatia Croatia (as part of Yugoslavia)
  4. Flag of Montenegro Montenegro (as part of Yugoslavia)
  5. Flag of Serbia Serbia (as part of Yugoslavia)
  6. Flag of the Republic of Macedonia Republic of Macedonia (as part of Yugoslavia)
  • Flag of Malta Malta joined PfP on April 26, 1995, but its new government withdrew on October 27, 1996 Malta’s Membership in PfP was reactivated on April 3, 2008.
  • Flag of Cyprus Cyprus’s admission to PfP is resisted by Turkey, because of the Northern Cyprus issue. Because of this Cyprus is not participating in ESDP activities that use NATO assets and information.

Individual Partnership Action Plans

Launched at the November 2002 Prague Summit, Individual Partnership Action Plans (IPAPs) are open to countries that have the political will and ability to deepen their relationship with NATO.

Currently IPAPs are in implementation with the following countries:

  • Flag of Georgia (country) Georgia (29 October 2004)
  • Flag of Azerbaijan Azerbaijan (27 May 2005)
  • Flag of Armenia Armenia (16 December 2005)
  • Flag of Kazakhstan Kazakhstan (31 January 2006)
  • Flag of Moldova Moldova (19 May 2006)
  • Flag of Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina (10 January 2008)


The NATO website divides the internal NATO organisation into political structures, military structures, and agencies & organisations immediately subordinate to NATO headquarters.


Political structure

Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer meeting George W. Bush on March 20, 2006. Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer meeting George W. Bush on March 20, 2006.

Like any alliance, NATO is ultimately governed by its 26 member states. However, the North Atlantic Treaty, and other agreements, outline how decisions are to be made within NATO. Each of the 26 members sends a delegation or mission to NATO’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank).

Together the Permanent Members form the North Atlantic Council (NAC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective political authority and powers of decision in NATO. From time to time the Council also meets at higher levels involving Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers or Heads of State or Government (HOSG) and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding NATO’s policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. NATO summits also form a further venue for decisions on complex issues, such as enlargement.

The meetings of the North Atlantic Council are chaired by the Secretary General of NATO and, when decisions have to be made, action is agreed upon on the basis of unanimity and common accord. There is no voting or decision by majority. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions.

The second pivotal member of each country’s delegation is the Military Representative, a senior officer from each country’s armed forces. Together the Military Representatives form the Military Committee (MC), a body responsible for recommending to NATO’s political authorities those measures considered necessary for the common defence of the NATO area. Its principal role is to provide direction and advice on military policy and strategy. It provides guidance on military matters to the NATO Strategic Commanders, whose representatives attend its meetings, and is responsible for the overall conduct of the military affairs of the Alliance under the authority of the Council. Like the council, from time to time the Military Committee also meets at a higher level, namely at the level of Chiefs of defence, the most senior military officer in each nation’s armed forces. The Defence Planning Committee excludes France, due to that country’s 1966 decision to remove itself from NATO’s integrated military structure.On a practical level, this means that issues that are acceptable to most NATO members but unacceptable to France may be directed to the Defence Planning Committee for more expedient resolution. Such was the case in the lead up to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The current Chairman of the NATO Military Committee is Ray Henault of Canada (since 2005).

The NATO Parliamentary Assembly, presided by José Lello, is made up of legislators from the member countries of the North Atlantic Alliance as well as 13 associate members. It is however officially a different structure from NATO, and has as aim to join together deputies of NATO countries in order to discuss security policies.

Subordinate to the political structure are the International Staff and International Military Staff, which administer NATO programmes and carry out high-level political, military, and also civil emergency planning.[39]

Over the years, non-governmental citizens’ groups have grown up in support of NATO, broadly under the banner of the Atlantic Council/Atlantic Treaty Association movement.

List of officials

Secretaries General
1 General Lord Ismay Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom 4 April 1952-16 May 1957
2 Paul-Henri Spaak Flag of Belgium Belgium 16 May 1957-21 April 1961
3 Dirk Stikker Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands 21 April 1961-1 August 1964
4 Manlio Brosio Flag of Italy Italy 1 August 1964-1 October 1971
5 Joseph Luns Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands 1 October 1971-25 June 1984
6 Lord Carrington Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom 25 June 1984-1 July 1988
7 Manfred Wörner Flag of West Germany West Germany/Germany 1 July 1988-13 August 1994
8 Sergio Balanzino Flag of Italy Italy 13 August 1994-17 October 1994
9 Willy Claes Flag of Belgium Belgium 17 October 1994-20 October 1995
10 Sergio Balanzino Flag of Italy Italy 20 October 1995-5 December 1995
11 Javier Solana Flag of Spain Spain 5 December 1995-6 October 1999
12 Lord Robertson of Port Ellen Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom 14 October 1999-1 January 2004
13 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands 1 January 2004-present
Deputy Secretary General of NATO
# Name Country Duration
1 Sergio Balanzino Flag of Italy Italy 1994-2001
2 Alessandro Minuto Rizzo Flag of Italy Italy 2001-present

Military structure

NATO E-3A flying with US F-16s in a NATO exercise. NATO E-3A flying with US F-16s in a NATO exercise.

NATO’s military operations are directed by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, and split into two Strategic Commands both commanded by a senior US officer assisted by a staff drawn from across NATO. The Strategic Commanders are responsible to the Military Committee for the overall direction and conduct of all Alliance military matters within their areas of command.

Before 2003 the Strategic Commanders were the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and the Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic (SACLANT) but the current arrangement is to separate command responsibility between Allied Command Transformation (ACT), responsible for transformation and training of NATO forces, and Allied Command Operations, responsible for NATO operations world wide.

The commander of Allied Command Operations retained the title “Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR)”, and is based in the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) located at Casteau, north of the Belgian city of Mons. This is about 80 km (50 miles) south of NATO’s political headquarters in Brussels. ACO is headed by SACEUR, a US four star general with the dual-hatted role of heading US European Command, which is headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. SHAPE was in Paris until 1966, when French president Charles de Gaulle withdrew French forces from the Atlantic Alliance. NATO’s headquarters were then forced to move to Belgium, while many military units had to move.

ACO includes Joint Force Command Brunssum in the Netherlands, Joint Force Command Naples in Italy, and Joint Command Lisbon, all multinational headquarters with many nations represented. JFC Brunssum has its land component, Allied Land Component Command Headquarters Heidelberg at Heidelberg, Germany, its air component at Ramstein in Germany, and its naval component at the Northwood Headquarters in the northwest suburbs of London. JFC Naples has its land component in Madrid, air component at Izmir, Turkey, and naval component in Naples, Italy. It also directs KFOR in Kosovo. JC Lisbon is a smaller HQ with no subordinate commands. Lajes Field, in the Portuguese Azores, is an important transatlantic staging post. Directly responsible to SACEUR is the NATO Airborne Early Warning Force at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen in Germany where a jointly funded fleet of E-3 Sentry AWACS airborne radar aircraft is located. The C-17s of the NATO Strategic Airlift Capability, to be made operational in the next few years, will be based at Pápa airfield in Hungary, and probably come under SACEUR’s control.

Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is based in the former Allied Command Atlantic headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia, USA. Allied Command Atlantic, usually known as SACLANT (Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic), after its commander, became ACT in 2003. It is headed by the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), a US four-star general or admiral with the dual-hatted role as commander US Joint Forces Command (COMUSJFCOM). There is also an ACT command element located at SHAPE in Mons, Belgium.

Subordinate ACT organisations include the Joint Warfare Centre (JWC) located in Stavanger, Norway (in the same site as the Norwegian NJHQ); the Joint Force Training Centre (JFTC) in Bydgoszcz, Poland; the Joint Analysis and Lessons Learned Centre (JALLC) in Monsanto, Portugal; and the NATO Undersea Research Centre (NURC),La Spezia, Italy.

Organisations and Agencies

The NATO website lists forty-three different agencies and organisation and five project committees/offices as of 15 May 2008. They include:

  • nine logistics bodies (including five pipeline and one medical), which include the:
    • NATO Maintenance and Supply Agency
    • Central European Pipeline System
    • NATO Pipeline System
  • five production logistics bodies, including the:
    • NATO Eurofighter and Typhoon Management Agency
  • four standardisation bodies, including the NATO Standardization Agency
  • three civil emergency planning bodies
  • five Air Defence & Air Traffic Control bodies, including the:
    • NATO ACCS Management Agency (NACMA), based in Brussels, manages around a hundred persons in charge of the Air Control and Command System (ACCS) due for 2009.
    • NATO Programming Centre
  • one AEW body, the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Programme Management Organisation
  • eight communications & information systems bodies, including the:
    • NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A),[43] reporting to the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Organisation (NC3O). The SHAPE Technical Centre (STC) in The Hague (Netherlands) merged in 1996 with the NATO Communications and Information Systems Operating and Support Agency (NACOSA) based in Brussels (Belgium), forming the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Agency (NC3A). The agency comprises around 650 staff, of which around 400 are located in The Hague and 250 in Brussels. It reports to the NATO Consultation, Command and Control Board (NC3B).
    • NATO Communications and Information Systems Agency (NCSA),[44] based in Mons (BEL), was established in August 2004 from the former NATO Communications and Information Systems Operating and Support Agency (NACOSA).
  • one electronic warfare agency
  • one meteorological body, the Military Committee Meteorological Group (MCMG)
  • one oceanography body, the Military Oceanography (MILOC) Group
  • the Research and Technology Agency (RTA),[45] reporting to the NATO Research and Technology Organisation (RTO);
  • four education & training bodies, including the NATO School and NATO Defence College
  • five project committees and offices:
    • Alliance Ground Surveillance Capability Provisional Project Office (AGS/PPO)
    • Battlefield Information Collection and Exploitation System (BICES)
    • NATO Continuous Acquisition and Life Cycle Support Office (CALS)
    • NATO FORACS Office
    • Munitions Safety Information Analysis Center (MSIAC)

History repeats itself: the fall of the Myanmar Military Dictators

History repeats itself:

the fall of the Myanmar Military Dictators

30 April 1975 was the day that Saigon fell. And it fell because the government did not have its fingers on the pulse of the nation. 30 May 2008 may be the day that Senior General Than Shwe — and therefore SPDC as well — falls after getting a beating on 8 May 2008.

Modified and edited the article, “Back to the future: the fall of Saigon revisited” by DYMM Raja Petra Kamarudin  in the Malaysia Today’s THE CORRIDORS OF POWER chapter.

 I have edited and adapted to the Myanmar context from the original article. I hope that DYMM Raja Petra Kamarudin  could understand and forgive us for this. He should even be proud that they could contribute a very good article for the fellow Myanmar/Burmese citizens.

Saigon finally fell on 30 April 1975 after a protracted war that saw countless lives lost.

The fall of Saigon was not about superior firepower because that is exactly what the Vietcong did not possess. If anyone had superior firepower it was the vanquished, not the victor. But in a mere three days the superior Americans were sent packing back to Washington with their tails between their legs.

The fall of Saigon and eventually that of the entire Vietnam can be attributed to one fundamental problem.

  • The government was in denial mode.
  • They did not understand what the real problem was
  • and they failed to recognize that the army no longer had any will to win.
  • The war against communism can’t be won with guns alone.
  • The people must also have the desire to reject communism.
  • This was the secret of the British success in its war against the Communist Party of Malaya.

The British realized that the government cannot win the war against communism or communist terrorism.

  • It has to be the people themselves who must want to reject communism.
  • To achieve this, the British embarked on a campaign to win the hearts and minds of the people.
  • It can’t be a war of guns or of superior firepower.
  • It has to be a ‘war’ of winning over the support of the people.

This was what the British saw. But this was not what the Americans saw. So Malaya sustained while Vietnam fell.

The present SPDC Myanmar Military government took the route of the Americans rather than that of the British in the coming referendum and general election.

  • And the May 2008 referendum and the general election later would prove what a disastrous route this can be.
  • Myanmar Military thought it had superior firepower and it threw everything it had at the opposition.
  • But where the opposition lacked in political power, military might, government machinery, money and media control it more than made up for in strategy.
  • And where the SPDC government failed, the opposition succeeded.
  • And where the opposition lacked in ‘firepower’, it compensated for by winning the hearts and minds of the voters.

So all of us vote NO in the coming referendum.

Let’s crush the mask of illegitimate government by voting NO.

Let’s prove the whole world and UN that we, BURMESE CITIZENS reject the sham democracy of SPDC Junta.

Let’s free our Daw Suu with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our Ethnic Minority leaders with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our 88 Generation leaders with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our Saffron Revolution revered monks with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our all the political prisoners with this vote of NO.

Let’s free our country with this vote of NO.

Let’s free BURMA with this vote of NO.



The Euro-Muslims Zone

The Euro-Muslims Zone

Muslim Role Models (Share)

Muslim Role Models (Share)


By  Euro-Muslims Editorial Desk


Muslims in Europe have been remarking positively.

Starting as predominantly post-World War II immigrants who arrived as laborers, Muslims in Europe have been remarking positively on their European societies.

European Muslims continue to redefine themselves in their communities, discussing choices and decisions to help in forming a healthy environment for more understanding of Islam and integration of Muslims into their European countries. In Europe, a lot of Muslims of both European and non-European origins have proved gradually that they can overcome many cultural and socioeconomic obstacles to achieve remarkable success.

Some say that European Muslims are moving forward from a community that barely fulfills its essential requirements
, to a steady one that is going beyond many expectations.

European Muslims Zone is presenting the profiles of some European Muslim role models who have clearly drawn attention to their valuable success and uniquely state, observing their religious identity as Muslims and their European identity as active citizens.

Take a look at the profiles and if you have any suggestion for more European Muslim role models, kindly add their profiles below or e-mail them toEuro-Muslims Email and we will post them online.

Salma Yaqoob

Tariq Ramadan

Muhammad Ali

Yusuf Islam


Salma Yaqoob
Salma Yaqoob is a prominent anti-war activist and the UK’s party Respect’s cofounding member and vice-chair. With a total of 10,498 votes, she came second with 27 percent of the vote in Birmingham’s Sparkbrook and Small Heath constituency in the May 2005 general election. In May 2006, she was elected councilor for the Sparkbrook ward in Birmingham.

Born in Bradford but raised in Birmingham, Salma Yaqoob has proven to be a remarkable icon not only for Muslim women, but also for Muslims in general and activists throughout the UK. Being a mother of three boys never stood in the way of Ms. Yaqoob campaigning tirelessly for what she believed in and for positive change in her local community and way beyond.

Salma Yaqoob has addressed numerous demonstrations and meetings all protesting against the Iraq War and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. She has continued to fight for civil liberties in the UK and against all policies that target those freedoms and liberties, including the anti-terrorist law recently proposed. She is a strong advocate for the right of Muslim women to wear the hijab. Her campaigning for the rights of the elderly and those most in need, has already won her widespread support.

She has continued to fight for civil liberties in the UK and against all policies that target those freedoms and liberties, including the anti-terrorist law recently proposed. She is a strong advocate for the right of Muslim women to wear the hijab. Her campaigning for the rights of the elderly and those most in need has already won her widespread support.


Salma Yaqoob is the author of several books. Among her books are:

  • Global and Local Echoes of the Anti-war Movement: A British Muslim Perspective.” International Socialism Journal. Autumn 2003.
  • The “War on Terror” and Racism, Asylum and Immigration. Pluto Press, 2005.
  • British Muslim Radicalism Post 9/11 in Islamic Political Radicalism: A European Comparative. Edinburgh University Press, 2006.

Tariq Ramadan  


Tariq Ramadan was born in Switzerland in 1962. He is the grandchild of Imam Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

Ramadan holds a master’s degree in philosophy and French literature and a doctorate in philosophy in Arabic and Islamic studies from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. In Cairo, Egypt, he received one-on-one intensive training in classic Islamic scholarship from Al-Azhar University scholars.

He is a professor of Islamic studies. He is currently a senior research fellow at Saint Antony’s College (Oxford, UK), Doshisha University (Kyoto, Japan), and at the Lokahi Foundation (London, UK.)


He is a visiting professor (in charge of the chair: Identity and Citizenship) at Erasmus University, the Netherlands.

Through his writings and lectures, he has contributed substantially to the debate on the issues of Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world. He is active both at the academic and grassroots levels lecturing extensively throughout the world on social justice and dialogue between civilizations.


Ramadan is currently president of the European Muslim Network (EMN) think tank in Brussels, Belgium.


To visit Ramadan’s website, click here.




Dr. Tariq Ramadan is the author of several books. Among his books are:

  • Muslims in Secular Societies, Responsibilities and Rights of Muslim People in Western Societies, Tawhid, Lyon, 1994 (3rd ed. 2000)
  • Islam, the Encounter of Civilizations, What Project for Which Modernity?, Les Deux Rives, Lyon, 1995 (4th ed. 2001), translated into English: Islam, The West and The Challenges of Modernity, Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK, 1999.
  • To be a European Muslim, by C. Dabbak, Tawhid, Lyon, September 1999.
  • Muslims in France, Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK, April 1999.
  • Muslims of the West, to Build and to Contribute, Tawhid pocket books, Lyon, 2002.
  • The Western World, Space of Testimony, Dar ash-shahada, Tawhid pocket books, Lyon 2002.
  • Muslims in the West and the Future of Islam, Actes Sud, Paris, January 2003.


Muhammad Ali  


Originally from Tunisia, Muhammad Ali was born into a conservative Muslim family born and bred on Islamic beliefs together with the freedom of following his own dream and visions.


Muhammad Ali, through creating ingenious and practical television that complements the definition of good programming and transmission as well as delivering against viewers needs has marked a milestone for a Muslim voice in the media. He heads Islam Channel (a television channel presenting the Islamic perspective)


His academic background includes studying in both the East and West. Initially having studied engineering, his curious mind and inquisitive nature led him on to study philosophy and theology in Iran, politics and geography in the UK, followed by a master’s in both linguistics and diplomacy.


Aside from this, he has memorized a good portion of the holy Qu’ran and has attended circles of prominent Islamic scholars, going on to further studies in comparative Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) in addition to comparative fundamentals of belief (`aqeedah) at traditional schools of knowledge in Tehran.


Currently he is studying for a doctorate in Islamic political thought. Muhammad Ali has vast experiences in many cultures and customs around the world, his travels have taken him to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bosnia where he worked for da`wah (Arabic for: raising awareness for Islam) and charity projects.


As CEO of Islam Channel, Muhammad Ali has been able to put his experience and visions on screen by creating a platform for Muslims generally. Through this channel he has numerous achievements to date including bringing together many world-renown scholars and Islamic programs, as well as screening political debates, news, and current affairs into the homes of both Muslims and non-Muslims. Having conquered the UK, Muhammad Ali has taken Islam Channel to viewers across Europe, Africa, and Asia.


Muhammad Ali, through Islam Channel, has proven himself to be a highly ambitious and successful entrepreneur. This relatively new enterprise offers an invaluable

source of da`wah, making Islam Channel the leading light for millions of Muslims, guiding the Ummah (Arabic for: Islamic nation) toward the path of Allah.


What began as representation for Muslims within the UK has expanded out to both Muslims and non-Muslims around the globe. With the support of his wife and five young children, he has been able to achieve this through his hard work and perseverance, aiming at representing Muslims and Islam in its genuine sense of freedom, justice, and coexistence.




Yusuf Islam  


The son of a Greek Cypriot father and Swedish mother, Yusuf Islam (then Steven Demetre Georgiou) was born in 1947,  and (he) grew up above the family shop in London’s Theatre district, situated at the northernmost junction of Shaftesbury Avenue and New Oxford Street, near the heart of London’s West End.


Cat Stevens (is the former stage name of musician Yusuf Islam, born Steven Demetre Georgiou)  went on to become one of the biggest solo artists of the 1960s and 1970s, penning such songs as “Matthew and Son,” “Moonshadow,” “Wild World,” and “Father and Son” and selling over 50 million LPs ( Long-Player record).


Following a bout of TB early in his career, he undertook an ongoing search for peace and ultimate spiritual truth. After almost drowning in the Pacific Ocean at Malibu, he received a translation of the Qur’an as a gift from his elder brother, David. His spiritual quest for answers was fulfilled and he embraced Islam in December 1977. Six months later, he changed his name to Yusuf Islam, walked away from the music business to start a new life and raise a family. He auctioned his musical instruments and gold records and divided the proceeds between Help The Aged and Help a London Child, two UK charities. 


His Sarajevo concert in 1997, to celebrate Bosnian culture, was his first public appearance for 20 years. His most recent mainstream contribution was to War Child UK’s Hope album to raise money for children victimized by war in Iraq for

which he re-worked his 1971 classic, “Peace Train.”


His pioneering work in the field of education resulted in securing a landmark decision by the British government to certify and support Islamic education throughout the UK. The three schools he founded in London — Islamia Primary, Islamia Girls Secondary, and the Brondesbury College for Boys — constantly top the government’s examination league tables.


His founding and continued chairmanship of the International Board of Educational Research and Resources has resulted in the production of key textbooks and resources for Muslim schools around the world, including the development and encouragement of teachings practices rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah.


Have Your Say (Note by Dr SOA: Please forgive me for changing the Europe Muslim role model to Muslim role model to widen the scope)


What do you think of these role models?

According to what do you call someone a Muslim role model?

Can you suggest any other Muslim role models?

Muslims in Europe Charter

What Is the Point of the Muslims
in Europe Charter?


Taken from the original posting at Islam

By Wahida Shaffi**

Consultant and Researcher

The past few decades have seen a marked interest in Islam and Muslims both in Europe and the rest of the world. The whole question of “identity” and “integration” has been scrutinized time and time again, with academics attempting to draw their own conclusions regarding what it means to be a Muslim in Europe and whether or not “Islamic” values can be integrated with European values. That the supposed cultural differences have the potential to express themselves in conflict with Europe — a notion most prominently expressed through Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations thesis — has taken a strong hold in European political discourse and popular consciousness.

The Charter of European Identity states that

Click here to read the Muslims in Europe Charter.

Europe is above all a community of values. The aim of unification is to realize, test, develop and safeguard these values. They are rooted in common legal principles acknowledging the freedom of the individual and social responsibility. Fundamental European values are based on tolerance, humanity and fraternity. Building on its historical roots in classical antiquity and Christianity, Europe further developed these values during the course of the renaissance, the Humanist movement, and the Enlightenment, which led in turn to the development of democracy, the recognition of fundamental and human rights, and the rule of law.

Charters: Dealing With the Changes

Against this backdrop, Islam has been reconstructed in the European discourse as something of an “anti-Europe”: a civilizational concept opposed and potentially in conflict with that of Europe. The Iranian revolution, the Rushdie affair, riots and suicide bombings in Britain, issues centered around the headscarf in France, and conflicts in other parts of the world, including Afghanistan, all have been held up as examples of a fundamentally different cultural dynamic and trajectory that is having a negative impact upon Europe.

The changing landscape of Europe has clearly posed challenges, and, sadly, many government and media outlets have been quick to point out the negative consequences while ignoring the immense benefits and positive qualities such changes have led to. This change has prompted some European countries to devise “charters” to try to deal with some of these new and emerging issues — a reaction to global fears one may say.

For example, Zurich’s Muslim organizations have decided to fight prejudice by adopting a groundbreaking charter that underlines their commitment to Swiss values. The document, the first of its kind in Switzerland, aims to improve the integration and the image of Muslims. Ismail Amin, president of the umbrella association of Zurich’s Islamic organizations, said that a study carried out by the local university showed Muslims are portrayed negatively in three-quarters of Swiss media reports about their community.

“We decided to publish this charter to fight against prejudice and misrepresentations,” he added.

Amin also pointed out that politics is harming Switzerland’s Muslims. He said some political parties are using fear of Islam as an electoral tool, as recently as the vote on the Schengen and Dublin agreements with the European Union on security and asylum.

The document contains ten chapters, each one emphasizing the importance of peace, human rights, equality between men and women, integration, dialogue between religions, and rejection of violence. More specifically, the charter says that the association is not attempting to create an Islamic state in Switzerland, nor place Islamic law above Swiss law: “The democratic state guarantees a peaceful and harmonious life for all including the Muslim minority.”

The chapter on integration specifically calls on Muslims to be a part of Swiss society. The Zurich organizations say they want to favor the integration of the Muslim community in Switzerland. But they also want respect and tolerance from the Swiss population: “We want to keep our religious identity,” says the charter.

According to Amin, the charter is based on similar documents produced in Germany. “Because of growing anti-Muslim prejudice and terrorist acts, Germany’s Islamic organizations decided to react,” he added. “I hope that other Muslim associations in Switzerland will now follow our example.”

Zurich’s mayor, Elmar Ledergerber, hailed the charter as an “unmistakable sign” that Muslim associations were committed to Swiss values. He added that the document made it clear there was no other path to follow other than integration. Though why Muslims nowadays have to declare their commitment to a country through a charter is something that raises many questions in connection with citizenship and faith identities in Europe. But the question that this raises for me is why do Muslims have to declare their allegiance so publically and why not others?

Codifying the Positions of Muslims

The Germans have an Islamic Charter — a document consisting of 21 articles developed by the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland e.V., ZMD) and adopted in its general meeting of February 3, 2002. With this document the ZMD aims to promote dialogue among Muslims and not to exclude divergent opinions, says ZMD chair Nadeem Elyas.

The Islamic Charter may be regarded as a further example in a series of documents drawn up by governmental or representational bodies in various European countries that seek to describe or to codify the position of Muslims in Western societies. But some would question why there is such a pressing need to “codify” the positions of Muslims in Europe and would argue that this is simply one of many knee-jerk reactions.

Representativeness and Authority

Another example, though different in status and origin, is the report L’Islam dans la République drawn up in 2000 by the High Council on Integration, an advisory body to the French prime minister. The report treats the history of the separation of church and state in France, describes Muslims and Islam in France, and ends with recommendations. Such documents or charters are vulnerable to criticisms concerning their representativeness and authority. This became clear in the discussions on the Islamic Charter at the Brühl conference.

Mohibur Rahman of the Muslim Council of Britain, for example, mentioned three concerns. According to him, emotional attachment to a country cannot be encouraged through a written document. The feeling of belonging to a place is nurtured through a feeling of being appreciated and accepted, and feeling free to exercise your rights just as much as any other citizen. A charter is, in his view, a defensive exercise and therefore undesirable. Lastly, he suggests that the Charter’s aims could be better achieved by investing the time and effort in more practical ways.

Similarly, Nico Landman of Utrecht University regards increasing participation of Muslims in political processes and public debates as more important than the development of an Islamic Charter, which claims to speak on behalf of “the” Muslims. He thereby alludes to the plurality of opinions among Muslims in the Netherlands — in other words, Muslims are not a homogenous group and never will be. They, like any other group in society, are divergent in their opinions of what is happening in their neighborhood and their community and, indeed, the world in which they live.

Soheib Bencheikh, mufti of Marseille, was not sure if France needed an Islamic Charter. Taking an individualistic view of Islam, he believes that no one has the right to determine the theology of the future. He emphasized the importance of transparency, of avoiding provocation, of Muslim role models to display the beauty of Islam, and of imam training institutions independent of the countries of origin and of the French government. He also argued that the idea behind the headscarf is the protection of the woman. Nowadays, this protection may also take the form of education and other skills. On this basis he advises women to dress tastefully and to be modest in their attire if they must choose between the headscarf and a job.

Others felt that the ethnic minority discourse in France and Germany concentrates on first-generation issues such as the headscarf while the United Kingdom has long passed this phase. Muslims in Britain, says Abdul Aziz, speak about respect and diversity and not about minorities as a problem. Barbara John of Humboldt University argued that the fear of difference and wish for homogeneity is deep-rooted in German society, whereas Britain tolerates diversity to a greater extent.

Ultimately, such debates will continue, but one thing is clear: Charters will continue to arouse both suspicion and disdain, and also appreciation and relief. But what do charters actually achieve? In essence they achieve very little though they do offer a basic framework that focuses upon the need for tolerance and cooperation. However, while possibly being a useful intellectual exercise, a charter does not guarantee the reduction of prejudice or the perpetuation of intolerance.

** Wahida Shaffi is a consultant and researcher in West Yorkshire and a tutor for confidence building in women. Your comments to her will be forwarded if you write to page e-mail.