Section 6. The Middle East
1. The Region in General
1-1. Overview of the Middle East Situation after the Gulf Crisis
The Gulf Crisis provided renewed recognition of the importance of peace and stability in the Middle East for global peace and stability. From this point of view, various attempts have been made in the aftermath of the Gulf Crisis to reconstruct the regional order and to bring stability to the Middle East. First, various measures were taken in accordance with the U.N. Security Council resolutions against Iraq which caused the Gulf Crisis. In addition, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) (Note 1) made various efforts, such as the issuing of the Damascus Declaration (Note 2), to ensure security in the Gulf region and concluded a security arrangement with the Western countries. The Gulf Crisis also renewed international recognition that the settlement of the Middle Eastern conflicts is indispensable for bringing peace and security to the region. With the strong initiative of the United States, the Middle East Peace Conference was held for the first time in history, with all the parties involved attending in Madrid at the end of October 1991.
Despite these efforts, several destabilizing elements remain in the Middle East. For instance, Iraq has not implemented a series of resolutions adopted by the U.N. Security Council in a sufficient manner and still challenges the international community. The relationship between Iran and the Gulf Arab kingdoms requires attention as are seen in the territorial disputes over the Abu Musa Islands. In the meantime, weapons continue to accumulate in the Gulf region.
On the other hand, as a result of the change of the Israeli Government in the middle of 1992, the mood of direct bilateral negotiations and multilateral talks on on-going Middle East peace process has turned positive. Yet, the roots of the longstanding mistrust between Arabs and Israel remain deep, and no specific result has yet been attained.
The Middle East also suffers from the deterioration of its economies and unemployment. Activities of Islamic Fundamentalists, who blame Westernization policies for these adverse economic situations, attracted attention.
1-2. Middle East Peace
(1) Direct Bilateral Negotiations
The United States mentioned the Middle East Peace Problem as the most important challenge facing the region after the end of the Gulf War, and it took strong initiative in launching the Middle East peace process during the latter half of 1991, with the participation by all the parties concerned. The then U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker Jr., visited Middle Eastern countries eight times from March to October 1991. Through these consultations with the countries concerned, a framework for peace negotiations based on U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, which is termed as "Exchange of Territory for Peace," (Note 1) was formulated, leading to the Middle East Peace Conference convened in Madrid at the end of October 1991. This Madrid Conference has the historic significance of bringing about the first direct dialogue in history between Israel and all of the Arab parties involved (Palestinian/Jordanian Joint delegation, Lebanon and Syria) under the co-sponsorship of the United States and the Soviet Union (later inherited by Russia). The presidency country of the European Community and Egypt also participated; the U.N. Secretary-General's representative, GCC Secretary-General and the Director of the Maghreb Union (Note 2) sat in as observers. Immediately after the meeting, Israel and each of the Arab delegations initiated direct negotiations in Madrid. The focus of the direct bilateral negotiations was as follows:
- In the negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian/Jordanian joint delegation, the Palestine-related issues were discussed: the problem of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories; the modality of the interim autonomy of the Palestinians; the final status of the West Bank and Gaza; the jurisdictional issue of East Jerusalem. The negotiations also dealt with the Jordan-related issue: the conclusion of a peace treaty between Jordan and Israel.
- As for the negotiations between Israel and Syria, the return of the Golan Heights and the conclusion of a peace treaty between the two countries were the main focus.
- The negotiations between Lebanon and Israel focused on the issue of withdrawal of the Israeli forces from Southern Lebanon and the conclusion of a peace treaty between the two countries.
Since the Madrid Conference, bilateral negotiations have taken place in Washington D.C. However, from the second round in December 1991 until the fifth at the end of April 1992, interpretations of U.N. Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 and membership questions (such as whether to treat the Palestinian and Jordanian Joint Delegation as separate negotiating groups under the framework of joint delegation) complicated the negotiations and no specific progress was made. In June 1992, the Labor Party which stressed the importance of the Middle East Peace won the general election in Israel. As a result, the Rabin Administration led by the Labor Party was born. As the Rabin Administration made explicit commitments to the partial suspension of settlements in the occupied territories, and to the principle of "exchange territory for peace," it gave momentum to the Middle East peace process.
Under the new Rabin Administration, the sixth round of negotiations took place from the end of August to the end of September 1992. Although no specific result was attained, the atmosphere became positive. In fact, substantive discussions took place, as is seen in the first exchange of written notes between Syria and Israel. In the seventh round, which continued for one month from the end of October 1992, an agreement was reached between Jordan and Israel on the negotiation agenda. However, in December 1992, during the eighth round of negotiations, the Israeli Government deported more than 400 Palestinians in retaliation for the abduction and murder of an Israeli border policeman by the "Hamas," Palestinian Islamic Fundamentalist group, which opposes the peace negotiations. Consequently, the Arabs, particularly the Palestinians, hardened their positions and there was a concern that the deportation would have serious adverse effects on the peace negotiations. Japan immediately regretted the deportation and demanded Israel to cancel the deportation. The U.N. Security Council also condemned this deportation and adopted Resolution 799 to call on Israel to ensure the safe and immediate return of those deported.
(2) Multilateral Talks
At the end of January 1992, the Organizational Meeting for Multilateral Negotiations was held in Moscow to support and supplement the direct bilateral negotiations. This consultation was held to discuss common regional problems, with extra-regional countries' participation in the hope of seeking approaches to regional cooperation thereby fostering mutual confidence among parties. In addition to those participating in the Madrid Conference, more than 30 extra-regional countries, such as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, Maghreb countries (Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco and Libya) as well as the EC, Japan and Canada, participated in this consultation. However, Syria and Lebanon did not join in, arguing that promotion of a multilateral consultation, at a stage where no specific progress was being made through direct bilateral negotiations, would only result in promotion of regional cooperation with the Arab countries, which is Israel's objective. At the Moscow meeting, five working groups (WG) were established on regional security and arms control, regional economic development, water resources, refugees and the environment. A steering committee to supervise these working groups was also formed.
(3) Japan's Responses
At the Moscow conference, Japan directly participated for the first time in the talks to achieve peace in the Middle East. Japan was appointed to be a gavel-holder of the environment WG, and to be a co-organizer of WGs on economic development, water resources and refugees. The first round of multilateral talks started as seminars in various parts of the world in May 1992. The first environment WG took place in Tokyo. As no tangible development was achieved in bilateral negotiations, these WGs could not produce any regional cooperation projects in the first round, except the environment WG which Japan chaired. However, as some signs of development in bilateral negotiations gradually appeared, discussions on specific issues and recommendations for specific cooperation were gradually being made in the second round of multilateral talks.
Japan, which chairs the environment WG, sent a survey mission in March 1992 to Jordan, Israel and the occupied territories (the West Bank and the Gaza Strip) to grasp the environmental problems there before hosting the first WG, and drafted a survey report which was used as the basis of debate in the WG. In the first workshop held in Tokyo in May, discussions were held based on this report, and a consensus was reached that environmental administration/education, marine pollution and the treatment of water pollution and wastes were the three major environmental issues to tackle in the Middle East. Based on this consensus, Japan held the Middle East environmental seminar in September 1992, with the cooperation of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The experts from the region and outside were invited to the seminar, and the seminar report was submitted to the second environment workshop held in the Hague.
Japan is also constructively taking part in other WGs to promote confidence building among the countries in the region, such as proposing promotion of the tourism in the economic cooperation WG and desalination of brackish water in the water resources WG.
As part of its efforts to facilitate the bilateral negotiation, the Government of Japan has invited Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Shara (November 1992) and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres (December 1992) and called for more flexible attitude toward an early conclusion of the negotiations. In addition, in its efforts to build confidence among parties, the Government of Japan appealed to Arab countries to suspend the Arab Boycott.
1-3. The Gulf Situation
Realizing that the common security system in the GCC did not function during the Gulf Crisis, its member countries temporarily sought to build the regional security system through the Damascus Declaration after the Gulf Crisis. Yet, they have instead endeavored to strengthen defense cooperation with the United States and European countries. Specifically, they are attempting to ensure their security through conclusion of joint arrangements and exercises with the United States and European countries.
Iraq, which caused the Gulf Crisis, has not fully implemented a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions even after the Crisis, and still challenges the international community, such as refusing the nuclear inspection of the United Nations in July 1992, oppressing the Kurds and Shiites at home, in violation of the Security Council resolutions.
In the meantime, Iran is showing signs of enhancing its armaments.
In addition, many border frictions among the countries in the region are emerging as new destabilizing factors.
In view of the international political and economic importance of the Gulf region as well as its dependence on the Gulf for more than 70 percent of its crude oil imports, Japan made various diplomatic efforts to ensure peace and stability of the region.
Specifically, Japan has continued to call upon Iraq to respect the U.N. Security Council resolutions as a member of the international community. Through political dialogue, Japan has strongly appealed to Iran to improve relations with its neighboring countries and with the major industrialized democracies.
1-4. Trends of Islamic Fundamentalists in the Region
Many Middle Eastern countries face social and economic difficulties. Under these circumstances, extreme Islamic fundamentalists are gaining ground. They blame westernization for these problems, call for anti-foreign moves, and do not hesitate to demand the overthrow of a government by force.
Sudan has been affected for more than a dozen years by changes of government through coups d'etat, economic hardships and civil wars in the South. Against this background, the National Islamic Front (NIF), which is an Islamic fundamentalist group, has increased its strength, and is believed to be significantly affecting the policies of the present administration. Sudan is also moving to strengthen its relations with Iran which advocates Islamic fundamentalism.
In Algeria where the people's frustration was heightened because of political corruption, failures of economic policies and an increasing number of unemployed youth, policies were introduced to promote democracy, among others, by liberalizing the activities of political parties. Attempt was also made toward a free market economy. At the general elections at the end of 1991, however, the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS: Front Islamique du Salut), the first legal Islamic fundamentalist political party in the Arab world, won by a landslide victory in the first round of voting, raising the possibility of a Islamic fundamentalist government. To counter such growing fundamentalist forces, a military-led coup d'etat took place in January 1992. The High State Committee was then established, which nullified the election result and suspended the Constitution. Since then, the now outlawed FIS has sporadically resorted to terrorist actions against the internal security authorities.
In the West Bank and Gaza Strip under the Israeli occupation, people have suffered from long years of poor social and economic conditions. Against this background, Islamic fundamentalist forces such as Hamas (Islamic resistance movement) against the Middle East peace process are gaining strength. In confrontation with peace process advocates, they are intensifying their resistance movement against Israel.
In addition, Islamic fundamentalists are active in other parts of the Middle East. In the southern agrarian areas of Egypt where the influence of Islamic extremists is strong, incidents like attacks by extremists on foreign tourists have increased since the latter half of 1992.
2. Countries in the Region
2-1. Israel and the Occupied Territories
After the end of the Gulf Crisis, the focus in the Middle East has shifted to the peace process. Israel's then Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir promised Israel's participation in the Middle East peace conference in response to U.S. Secretary of State James Baker's vigorous diplomatic efforts, and attended the peace conference in Madrid in October 1991. When direct peace negotiations started between the parties, the extreme rightist Israeli parties, a partner in the coalition government with the ruling Likud party, expressed their opposition to the peace talks and left the coalition, due to its disagreement with the Prime Minister's stance on self-rule negotiations with the Palestinians. Under these circumstances, Prime Minister Shamir advanced the date of the general elections to June 1992 to seek popular support. However, Likud, which had long been in government, suffered from its internal strife and was defeated by the Labor Party headed by Mr. Yitzhak Rabin. Mr. Rabin, who won popular support, formed the new government.
Under the Likud Government, the then Prime Minister Shamir decided to join in the peace process led by the United States, while he escalated the settlement process in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, aiming at firmly securing those occupied territories. However, with the decline of the strategic position of Israel in the Middle East after the Cold War, the dispute about this settlement issue became acute between the United States and Israel. As a result, at the end of the Likud administration, Israel was unable to receive a $10 billion loan guarantee from the United States for the settlement of Russian immigrants. Consequently, unemployment and economic situations deteriorated.
The newly elected Prime Minister Rabin of the Labor Party administration shifted the policy priority from the building of settlements in the occupied territories to the development of domestic economy. He has made clear his intention to suspend construction of settlements, except for strategically important areas, and has demonstrated a flexible attitude in direct negotiations with the Arabs. It has also attempted to improve relations with the United States and European countries.
Israel has established diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union (and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the countries of the former Soviet Union), China, India and Sub-Saharan African countries with the end of the Cold War, extricating itself from the long international isolation after the Middle East wars of 1967 and 1973. The change in the international arena surrounding Israel was symbolized by the fact that the resolution criticizing Zionism as a form of racism was withdrawn at the U.N. General Assembly of December 1991.
Japan is endeavoring to extend the scope of favorable bilateral relations in the fields of political, economic, intellectual and cultural exchanges, with a view to contributing to the peace and stability of the region by enhancing the relations based on confidence with Israel, the principal party of the Middle East peace process. In December 1992, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres visited Japan at the invitation of the Government of Japan and discussed the Middle East Peace issue as well as the bilateral relations.
(2) The Problem of the Occupied Territories
At the Middle East Peace Conference at Madrid in October 1991, the Palestinians participated in a joint delegation with the Jordanians, while the Palestinians attending the conference were restricted to those in the Occupied Territories. As a result, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Diasporas (Palestinians living outside the Occupied Territories) were excluded. The situation of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories thus has become a greater focus of attention than ever before.
At the Madrid conference consensus was reached among the parties concerned that "an agreement is to be reached to allow interim autonomy in the Occupied Territories within one year's time, and this agreement is to last for the next five years. In the third year of interim autonomy, negotiations on the final position are to be initiated." This raised expectation among the Palestinians about the prospect of the conflict settlement through dialogue.
The PLO and the majority of residents in the Occupied Territories support the participation of the Palestinian delegation in the peace negotiations. However, as the discussion on autonomy gradually approached the core issue, the gap in positions between the Palestinians and the Israelis became obvious. Accordingly, Islamic Fundamentalist Hamas (Islamic resistance movement) and radical elements within the PLO, such as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), have increasingly voiced their opposition, calling strongly for strengthened Intifada (resistance activities) by the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. As such, the differences in attitudes grew between advocates and opponents of the interim autonomy in the Occupied Territories. The prospects of the Occupied Territories depends on the development in the Middle East peace process. Under these circumstances, Israel deported in December 1992, 415 Palestinians arrested in relation to the abduction and assassination of an Israeli border patrolman. This incident has casted a long shadow over the whole Middle East peace process. In the same month, U.N. Resolution 799 was adopted, demanding that Israel ensure the safe and immediate return of the deported people to the Occupied Territories. Japan released a statement regretting Israeli deportation and demanded cancellation of the expulsions.
Japan has increasingly been engaged with the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories by taking part in the Multilateral Middle East Peace Talks. In January 1992, Japan invited Faisal Husseini, Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Palestinian delegation to the Middle East Peace negotiations, and influential Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. In March 1991, Japan sent an environmental survey mission to the Occupied Territories, and through consultations with the residents there, made efforts to grasp the needs and the actual situation of the Occupied Territories. For the Palestinian residents in the socially and economically deprived conditions of the districts under occupation, Japan has been extending assistance through the Japan-Palestine Development Fund in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). In FY 1992, Japan increased its contributions to these organizations.
Japan has provided assistance to the Palestinians through the UNRWA for a long time, including making cash contributions for Palestinian refugees, giving food aid and technical cooperation (accepting trainees, sending experts and providing equipment and materials), and created the Japan-Palestine Development Fund in the UNDP to promote socioeconomic development of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In addition, in FY 1992, Japan created a special UNDP Palestine training program for the residents of these districts.
With regard to the Islamic Fundamentalist movements, one of the factors which might induce its destabilization, the Egyptian Government has adopted less harsh measures to the moderate groups, and dealt with the radical groups by force. Between April and May 1992, clashes broke out between the Islamic extremists and the security authorities in southern Egypt. In August, the Government enacted the counter-terrorism law two months after the assassination of the anti-fundamentalist journalist in Cairo. The radical Islamic groups, under these circumstances, began to target tourists, and in October and November, five attacks on tourists took place. It is noted that the sympathy on the part of the lower-income, and socially, economically deprived Egyptians toward the principles and activities of the Islamic fundamentalist groups makes it difficult for the Government to contain the extremist movement completely. The Egyptian Government is heading toward a market economy to overcome economic difficulties and revitalize its economy. To what extent the Government could control the Islamic extremist activities depends on how much the Government can meet the economic need of the Egyptian people.
After concluding the Peace Treaty with Israel in 1979, Egypt became isolated in the Arab world. However, the Middle East Peace Conference (held in Autumn 1991), proved Egypt's foresight. In addition, the Egyptian diplomacy was highly appreciated by the appointment of Mr. Boutros Boutros-Ghali, then Deputy Prime Minister of Foreign Affairs as the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the appointment of former Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid as the Secretary-General of the Arab League. While Egypt is not directly involved in the bilateral negotiations of the Middle East peace process, Egypt is urging the Arab countries for continued peace talks and confidence building, based on its long experience of peace negotiations with Israel, and its unique position of having relations with both Israel and the Arabs. Egypt's role is highly appreciated in this context.
On the occasion of the preparatory meeting for the Organizational Meeting for Multilateral Negotiations held in Moscow in January 1992, Japanese Foreign Minister Michio Watanabe met with Egyptian Foreign Minister Amre Moussa and agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in the framework of the Middle East peace process.
2-3. Syria and Lebanon
When the Gulf Crisis broke out, Syria immediately decided to participate in the multinational forces. As this example indicated, Syria has strengthened its efforts to improve its relations with the industrialized democracies after the collapse of the Soviet Union. As regards the Middle East peace process, although Syria had urged the need for the United Nations to hold an international conference and had refused direct negotiations with Israel, it participated in the Madrid Middle East Peace Conference and agreed to conduct bilateral negotiations with Israel. Between August 1991 and June 1992, Syria also made efforts to liberate American and European hostages, which led to the freeing of all the hostages held by Islamic radicals in Lebanon.
In addition, Syria is strengthening its influence on Lebanon. In September 1991, it concluded a defense and security agreement with Lebanon, providing legal grounds with Syria for the Syrian troops stationed in Lebanon. Between August and September 1992, a parliamentary election was held for the first time in 20 years in Lebanon, and the Hezbollah (Party of God) of the Shiites, which is said to have close ties with Iran, gained influence.
In view of this change in Syrian policies, Japan has conducted its relations with Syria by strengthened economic cooperation such as the provision of grant aid and dispatch of an economic mission. At the same time, it has called on Syria to participate in the Multilateral Middle East Peace Talks which Syria still regards as premature. Japan is also supporting the "Taif Agreement" (reached in October 1989 for the normalization of Lebanon), which stipulates the withdrawal of Syrian forces from Lebanon. Syrian Foreign Minister Farouq Al-Shara visited Japan in November 1992 at the invitation of the Government of Japan and met with high-ranking Japanese government officials to discuss the Middle East peace process and bilateral relations between Japan and Syria.
As the Jordanian position during the Gulf Crisis was regarded internationally as pro-Iraq, Jordan 's relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries as well as the United States deteriorated. However, since Jordan has positively cooperated in the Middle East peace process led by the United States, relations with the United States have improved, as is seen in the visit of King Hussein bin Talal to the United States in March 1992. Japan has consistently maintained good relations with Jordan, considering that the stability of Jordan is significant for peace in the Middle Eastern region. As a matter of fact, Japan is of the view that Jordan has geographical and strategic importance and plays a vital role in the Middle East peace process.
In order to ensure peace and security in the Gulf, the United Nations Security Council, as the collective will of the international community, adopted a series of resolutions calling on Iraq to stop developing weapons of mass destruction and oppressing its civilians. Although this reflected the consensus of the international community, Iraq has not completely fulfilled the resolutions and insists that these resolutions infringe on its national sovereignty. On the other hand, Iraq has been calling on various countries to lift economic sanctions in order to extricate itself from international isolation. Nevertheless, these economic sanctions have not been lifted since Iraq has failed to fully fulfill the resolutions.
Under these circumstances, the Iraqi Government is making efforts to alleviate the dissatisfaction stemming from harsh living conditions of the people by introducing the multi-party system and a salary increase of military officers and civil servants. At the same time, it continues to oppress the northern Kurds and southern Shiites by deploying its army in an effort to tighten security. In response to the oppression, the coalition forces, mainly composed of the United States, the United Kingdom and France, are striving to ensure the implementation of the relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions by making surveillance flights to deter attacks by the Iraqi military forces on the Kurds north of the 36th parallel, and establishing a no-fly zone for Iraqi aircraft to deter attacks by the Iraqi military forces on the residents in the southern region south of the 32nd parallel.
Although it is said that the anti-government movement is not fully organized yet, the Iraqi National Congress was established by anti-government organizations in June 1992. Their activities are drawing international attention.
2-6. Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Countries
Since the Gulf Crisis, the GCC countries including Saudi Arabia have conducted active diplomacy: for instance, they have strengthened their defense cooperation with the United States and European countries with the objectives of rebuilding the security system of the Gulf, strengthened relations with Egypt and Syria, and participated in the Middle East peace process. There are signs of rapprochement, albeit gradual, between the GCC countries which took joint action against Iraq during the Gulf Crisis and those which supported Iraq, such as Yemen, Jordan and the PLO.
Some territorial issues are emerging among the GCC countries, but adjustments are being made by each country to prevent these problems from intensifying.
Domestically, the Gulf Crisis had triggered moves toward democracy and political participation in the traditional monarchical or emirate systems. Against this background, domestic political changes were seen, such as the enactment of the National Basic Law in Saudi Arabia. A parliamentary election was held for the first time in seven years in Kuwait.
At the parliamentary election in April and May 1992, the Rafsanjani Government succeeded in removing the extremist radical groups from parliament. Instead, the Rafsanjani government now faces the rise of Islamic revival movement led by the conservatives, instead of radicals, since the election.
Although the five-year economic reconstruction plan entered its fourth year, the plan cannot be said to have shown steady progress. Iran continues to face a variety of economic difficulties. In foreign affairs, Iran is developing its economic relations with the EC countries. Iran is also active in building relations with the countries of the former Soviet Union in Central Asia, and played a mediating role on the ethnic problem of the Azerbaijan Republic.
On the other hand, Iran has not resumed its diplomatic relations with Egypt. In relations with the Gulf countries, the territorial problem concerning the Abu Musa Islands reemerged in April 1992, which further raised the apprehension of the Gulf countries toward Iran.
Iran continues to strongly oppose the Middle East peace process, and has made little progress in its relations with the United States. In addition, considerable apprehensions have been expressed by various countries on Iran's build-up of its armament and on its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction including nuclear weapons.
As regards Iran's relations with Japan, the visa exemption which had been implemented since 1974 was suspended in April 1992 because of the problem of illegal employment of Iranians in Japan.
A general election was held on October 20, 1991, and the Motherland Party, which was founded by President Turgut Ozal and had been the ruling party since 1983, was defeated. As a result, a coalition government of conservative True Path Party and leftist Social Democratic Populist Party, which had long been in opposition, was established. The challenges facing the new administration are as follows. Firstly, there is a need for economic reforms to tackle such economic issues as high inflation, which reached 66 percent in terms of consumer prices in 1992. Secondly, it must deal with the problems of the Kurds, such as terrorism by the Kurdistan Labor Party (PKK), an illegal anti-government organization mainly in the southeast of Turkey. Thirdly, it must improve security by countering urban terrorism by extremists, of both left and right. With respect to the problems of the Kurds, following the formation of the Cabinet in November 1992, Prime Minister Suleyman Demirel and Deputy Prime Minister Erdal Inonu visited southeastern Turkey in early December to promise a democratic settlement of the Kurdish problem. Nevertheless, there has not been much progress. The Government, in addition to dealing with the PKK in the Southeast through the security forces, is repeating cross-border attacks, mainly air raids, on the northern part of Iraq which is the main stronghold of the PKK. West European criticisms of the Turkish Government's military-oriented policy against the Kurdish problem once developed into a diplomatic issue, as is seen in Germany's ban on weapons exports to Turkey.
In foreign affairs, the Demirel administration has continued the traditional foreign policy. At the same time, the country has attached importance to the improvement of its relations with the neighboring countries of the former Soviet Union since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, conducting a particularly active diplomacy with those Turkic republics of common ethnicity.
In relations to Turkey's relations with the countries of the former Soviet Union of Turkish and Islamic origin, activities of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), an organization which consists of Islamic countries, attracted international attention. ECO historically consisted of Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, and aimed to promote economic cooperation. In November 1992, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kirgistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan were admitted as ECO members at the ECO Foreign Ministerial Conference in Islamabad, and Tajikistan is expected to join ECO soon.
Turkey advocates the Black Sea economic cooperation organization whose main objective is to promote private level economic exchanges among the countries around the Black Sea. In June 1992, in a meeting in Istanbul, a declaration on Black Sea economic cooperation was adopted. This declaration calls for an action plan for this organization, and was signed by Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and Albania.
Turkey appealed to the international community to help solve the intensified conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, Turkey's neighboring area.
In relations with Japan, the two governments recognize the need for mutual cooperation and are attempting to strengthen relations through political dialogues, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges. In 1992, the investment protection agreement was signed in February, a vice-ministerial level political consultation took place in October, and Prime Minister Demirel officially visited Japan as a guest of the Government in December.
Since December 1991, Algeria has been facing the greatest political crisis since December 1991 after its independence. In fact, a parliamentary election based on a multi-party system was held in December 1991 for the first time in history. In place of the National Liberation Front (FLN), which had dominated Algeria since its independence in 1962, the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) won with a landslide victory, and Islamic fundamentalists were expected to come into power legally for the first time in the Arab world. However, in January 1992, as a result of a military-led political change, President Chadli Benjedid resigned, and the parliamentary election was canceled. The Supreme National Committee established by the military-led power outlawed the FIS and suspended the constitution. As a result, from the end of January 1992, frequent clashes broke out between FIS supporters and the security forces in various parts of Algeria, and the Government declared a state-of-emergency throughout the country on February 9.
The High State Committee chose as president Mohamed Boudiaf, a leader during the Algerian independence war against the French, who had been exiled in Morocco for a long time. President Boudiaf rectified the failures of the FLN and ardently pushed the reconstruction of the nation toward democracy and economic liberalization. Consequently, the situation seemed to stabilize. Then, in June 1992, President Boudiaf was assassinated. President Ali Kafi, his successor, promised to adhere to his predecessor's policy of political reforms and economic liberalization. Nevertheless, terrorism has intensified, including the bombing of Algiers Airport at the end of August. Its political situation has been further destabilized. The Algerian Government, in December 1992, declared an unlimited curfew to strengthen its fight against terrorism and is making efforts to improve law and order.
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Note 1: It is an intra-regional cooperative body established in 1981 with membership consisting of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait.
Note 2: A declaration announced in March 1991 by foreign ministers of the GCC member states plus Egypt and Syria, setting out the principles of coordination and cooperation among the Arab states concerning security and economic cooperation in the post-Gulf Crisis era. It refers to the Arab Peace-keeping Forces Initiative which approves the stationing of Egyptian and Syrian forces in the GCC countries.
Note 1: Upon the withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories, peace treaties including the security of Israel are to be simultaneously concluded.
Note 2: The Maghreb Union is a union aiming at political and economic integration, with Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco and Libya as its members.