Hungary’s far-right Jobbik spreads ideology, tactics

Jobbik_Magyarországért_MozgalomFar-right groups have emerged or grown stronger across Europe in the wake of the financial crisis, and they are increasingly sharing ideas and tactics. A special investigation by Reuters has found ties between at least half a dozen of the groups in Europe’s ex-Communist east. At the network’s heart, officials from those groups say, sits Jobbik:

From its strong base at home, Jobbik has stepped up efforts to export its ideology and methods to the wider region, encouraging far-right parties to run in next month’s European parliamentary elections, and propagating a brand of nationalist ideology which is so hardline and so tinged with anti-Semitism, that some rightist groups in Western Europe have distanced themselves from the Hungarians.

The spread of Jobbik’s ideology has alarmed anti-racism campaigners, gay rights activists, and Jewish groups. They believe it could fuel a rise in racially-motivated, anti-Semitic or homophobic street attacks. Longer-term, they say, it could help the far-right gain more political power.

In a statement sent to Reuters, Jobbik said that it hoped the people of central and eastern Europe would unite in an “alliance that spreads from the Adriatic to the Baltic Sea,” to counter what it called Euro-Atlantic suppression.


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In Ukraine, Moscow’s ‘political technologists’ specialize in spectacle

Choreographed, made-for-television uprisings in Donetsk, Kharkiv and Lugansk; a carefully constructed media message that spins Ukraine’s choice into one between federalism or civil war; behind-the-scenes deals with local oligarchs – recent developments in Ukraine bear the signature of Moscow’s “political technologists”, analyst Peter Pomerantsev writes for The Financial Times: 

Over the past 20 years this uniquely post-Soviet profession has controlled the vast theatre of “managed democracy” inside Russia, directing puppet opposition parties, promoting scarecrow radicals, scripting elections, instructing the media and conjuring up ideologies in Kremlin corridors. It inherits the Soviet tradition of top-down governance and the Tsarist habit of co-opting anti-state actors (anarchists in the 19th century, neo-Nazis now), all fused with the latest thinking in television and advertising. The result is a society of pure spectacle, where nothing is ever quite real….

In 2011, when protesters took to Moscow’s streets to call for a genuine democratic process, the political technologists quickly silenced talk of government corruption and replaced it with a legend in which Holy Russia confronts the foreign devils of Euro-Sodom. This was a unifying theme, but a transient one. The crisis in Ukraine is more durable. Anti-corruption campaigners can now be cast as traitors. Nationalists have rallied to the Kremlin’s cause. 


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US accuses Russia of fomenting eastern Ukraine unrest: Putin’s Czarist folly?

ukrainesolidarnoscU.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russian agents and special forces on Tuesday of stirring separatist unrest in eastern Ukraine, saying Moscow could be trying to prepare for military action as it had in Crimea, Reuters reports:

Armed pro-Moscow protesters were still occupying Ukrainian government buildings in two cities in the largely Russian-speaking east on Tuesday, although police ended a third occupation in a lightning night-time operation……The Ukraine government says the occupations that began on Sunday are part of a Russian-led plan to dismember the country. Kerry said he feared Moscow might repeat its Crimean operation.

“It is clear that Russian special forces and agents have been the catalyst behind the chaos of the last 24 hours,” he said in Washington, and this “could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea”.

The West has two choices and neither one is particularly pleasant, foreign policy expert Walter Russell Mead writes for The American Interest:

Option one: it can turn its back on Ukraine while the country flounders further, turns bitter at western failure and inevitably slips into orbit around Moscow.  Option two: it can embark on an expensive, difficult and quite possibly doomed exercise in nation-building, with Putin able to deploy a formidable array of policy tools against us whenever and however he chooses. Quite possibly, option two will turn out to be a longer, more humiliating, more painful and more expensive way of getting the same ultimate result as option one.

Given the state of leadership on both sides of the Atlantic, we will probably try to split the difference: giving enough aid to Ukraine so our leaders won’t be accused in the press of abandoning it, but not doing enough to make a lasting difference on the ground. Putin could not ask for a better policy mix from his point of view; the West appears determined to fulfill his dreams.

But by snatching 4.5 percent of Ukrainian territory, Mr. Putin has performed the unlikely feat of wrecking his own dream of forming a “Eurasian Union” under Russia’s leadership, historian Robert Service writes for The New York Times:

This is a disaster for Mr. Putin’s foreign policy. Although he is concealing this from the public through his control of TV channels, he will not be able to fool all the people all of the time. His biggest miscalculation is about Russia itself. The emergency over Ukraine has jolted the Russian superrich to ship even more of their wealth to the West. Up to $70 billion has left the country this year alone.

If he is to advance his policies in Ukraine, Putin must use force because the majority of Ukrainians in every region do not support him, do not believe what he says, and do not want what he wants, according to Russian economist Andrey Illarionov (HT: Paul Goble).

In a post on Ekho Moskvy, Illarionov analyzes the results of a recent poll by the International Republican Institute which shows that Russian propaganda notwithstanding, there is little support for Putin’s approach or policies, including the eastern and southern parts.

“Considering the shabby state of Russian democracy, and the country’s continued move away from Western ideas and ideals, one might argue that the chances of seeing neo-Eurasianism conquer new ground are increasing,” Anton Barbashin and Hannah Thoburn write for Foreign Affairs.

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Rising Political Islam in Pakistan: Causes and Consequences

PakistanReligion, politics, and policy are inextricably linked in Pakistan, and together tied to Pakistan’s relationship with the United States. Pakistan embarked on its first democratic transition of power last year. The success of this experiment will hinge on how well Islamic parties—who are showing their strength within the political landscape—can contribute to civilian rule, shun violence, and mobilize support for political reform. However, these parties are diverse in their policy goals and political intentions and cannot be painted with a broad brush, as often occurs in the United States.

The speakers at this forthcoming event will provide a look at the rise of political Islam in Pakistan and how understanding these internal dynamics can help shape a better bilateral relationship.

April 14, 2014 – 2:30 pm, 1030 15th Street, NW, 12th Floor (West Tower), Washington, DC

A discussion with

Husain Haqqani

Author of Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding; and Senior Fellow and Director, South and Central Asia, Hudson Institute

Haroon K. Ullah

Author of Vying for Allah’s Vote: Understanding Islamic Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan; and Member, Policy Planning Staff

US Department of State

Moderated by

Shuja Nawaz

Director, South Asia Center

Atlantic Council


The Atlantic Council’s US-Pakistan Program is a comprehensive approach to US-Pakistan relations, focusing on the key areas of security, economic development, and public policy. The program explores these issues and their relevance in order to develop a long-term, continuous dialogue between the United States and Pakistan. This project is generously supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

On Twitter? Follow @ACSouthAsia and use #WagingPeace


Husain Haqqani is the former ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka (1992–93) and the United States (2008–11). He is currently senior fellow and director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute and co-edits the journal Current Trends in Islamist Ideology published by Hudson Institute’s Center for Islam, Democracy, and Future of the Muslim World. Ambassador Haqqani is also director of the Center of International Relations and professor of the practice of international relations at Boston University. Ambassador Haqqani is the author of Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding.

Haroon Ullah joined the secretary’s Policy Planning Staff in November 2013. His portfolio includes public diplomacy and countering violent extremism. Previously, he served as director of the Community Engagement Office at the US Embassy in Islamabad. Prior to joining the State Department, Dr. Ullah served as a Belfer fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and focused on democratization, counter-terrorism, and religious political parties in the Middle East and South Asia. Dr. Ullah holds a BA from Whitman College, an MPA from Harvard, and a PhD from the University of Michigan. He also recently authored Vying for Allah’s Vote: Understanding Islamic Parties, Political Violence, and Extremism in Pakistan and Bargain from the Bazaar.

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Human Rights in North Korea: An Address by Michael Kirby

nkgulag-300x202-150x150In March 2013, the 47 member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council unanimously adopted a resolution to establish a commission of inquiry on human rights in North Korea. With a mandate to investigate “the systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights” in North Korea, the commission conducted public hearings and private interviews, and collected information from U.N. member states and entities. The commission submitted its report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in March 2014, finding that “in many instances, the violations found entailed crimes against humanity based on state policies.”

On April 14, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings and the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) will host an address by Michael Kirby, chair of the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea (COI), to present its findings and recommendations. Following the keynote address, Marcus Noland of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and an HRNK board member, will comment on the COI report and discuss policy implications for the United Nations and its member states, and possible impact on North Korea and its people.

Closing Remarks: Roberta Cohen, Co-Chair, Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement View Bio


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