April 8, 2014 (AP) US Secretary of State John Kerry says Russia is creating a contrived crisis in Ukraine to destabilize the country. Kerry is expected to meet soon with top diplomats from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union in a new push to ease tensions, AP reported.
“We will not hesitate to use 21st century tools to hold Russia accountable for 19th century behavior,” Kerry posted in his Twitter account.
The U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Brussels, Algiers, and Rabat on April 1-5, the official US Gov website announced.
While in Brussels, Capitol of Belgium (11 Mill) and European Union, John Kerry met with fellow FMs of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) to discuss the ongoing crisis in Ukraine and preparations for the upcoming North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit in September. The Secretary also co-chaired the 5th EU-U.S. Energy Council – European Commission. US Secretary of State held bilateral meetings with foreign counterparts, where they discussed Ukraine, developments in the Middle East and other issues.
Since the end of the 2nd World War, Brussels has been a principal centre for international politics and hosts the EU’s headquarters as well as those of several other major international organisations such as NATO. The official founding of Brussels is usually situated around 979. Now Brussels is home to a large number of immigrants. However, there have been numerous individual or familial migrations towards Brussels since the end of the 18th century, including political refugees (“Das Kapital” Author Karl Marx, Pierre Joseph Proudhon, for example,) and many Belgian families in Brussels can claim at least one foreign grandparent. Although historically (since 16th century), most people in Brussels are non-practising Religion, and about 10% of the population regularly attends church services, according to Wikipedia. Recognized religions and Laïcité enjoy public funding and school courses: every pupil in an official school MUST choose 2 hours per week of compulsory religion—or Laïcité—inspired morals. Historically, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg were known as the Low Countries, which used to cover a somewhat larger area than the current Benelux group of states. The area of Belgium served as the battleground between many European powers, causing it to be dubbed the “Battlefield of Europe,” a reputation strengthened by both World Wars. After World War II, a general strike forced King Leopold III, whomany viewed as collaborating with Germany during the war, to abdicate in 1951. The Belgian Congo and Ruanda-Urundi gained independence in 1960’s. Belgium joined NATO as a founding member in 1948. The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17 March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the UK, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement.However, participation of the United States was thought necessary both to counter the military power of the USSR and to prevent the revival of nationalist militarism, so talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately resulting in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, D.C. on 4 April 1949. No military operations were conducted by NATO during the Cold War. Following the end of the Cold War, the 1st operations, Anchor Guard in 1990 and Ace Guard in 1991, were prompted by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Belgium was the 1st continental European country to undergo the Industrial Revolution, in the early 19th century, and made Belgium among one of the three most industrialized nations in the world from 1830 to 1910. At the beginning of 2012, people of foreign background and their descendants were estimated to have formed around 25% of the total population i.e. 2.8 million new Belgians. The largest group of immigrants and their descendants in Belgium are Moroccans, with more than 450,000.
While in Rabat, Capitol of Morocco (33 Mill) Secretary Kerry co-chaired the U.S.-Morocco Strategic Dialogue with Moroccan Foreign Minister Mezouar and met with senior Moroccan officials to discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues. This dialogue, launched in September 2012, underscored our ongoing close cooperation with Morocco and focused on political affairs, economic and security cooperation, and educational and cultural issues.
Morocco, officially the Kingdom of Morocco, the King of Morocco holds vast executive and legislative powers, especially over the military, foreign policy and religious affairs. Morocco’s predominant religion is Islam (99.9%, by Pew Forum based in Washington, US) and the full Arabic name is al-Mamlakah al-Maghribiyyah (المملكة المغربية) translates to “Kingdom of the West”. Morocco remains the only African state not to be a member of the African Union. The foreign-resident Christian community consists of approximately 5,000 practicing members. The most recent estimates put the size of the Cities of Rabat and Marrakesh Jewish communities at about 100 members each. The remainder of the Jewish population is dispersed throughout the country. According to a French Ministry of the Interior 2006 report, 80% of the cannabis resin (hashish) consumed in Europe comes from the Rif region in Morocco. In addition to that, Morocco is a transit point for cocaine from South America destined for Western Europe.
While in Algiers, Capitol of Algeria (37.9 Mill), Secretary Kerry met with senior Algerian officials, demonstrated close coordination with Algeria on a range of bilateral and regional issues, including political and security developments, boosting economic ties, and strengthening civil society.
Algeria has the 2nd largest military in North Africa with the largest defense budget in Africa ($10.3 Bill). Algeria had a peaceful nuclear program by the 1990s. In March 2006, Russia agreed to erase $4.74 billion of Algeria’s Soviet-era debt during a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the country, the 1st by a Russian leader in half a century. In return, Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika agreed to buy $7.5 billion worth of combat planes, air-defense systems and other arms from Russia, according to the head of Russia’s state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.
The Algerian Civil War was an armed conflict between the government and various Islamist rebel groups which began in 1991. Total casualties have yet to be accurately counted but it is estimated up to 150,000 lives. More than 70 journalists were assassinated, either by security forces or by Islamists. The conflict effectively ended with a government victory, following the surrender of the Islamic Salvation Army and the 2002 defeat of the Armed Islamic Group.
A continuing series of protests throughout the country started on 28 December 2010, inspired by similar protests across the Middle East and North Africa. On 24 February 2011, the government lifted Algeria’s 19-year-old state of emergency. A wave of economic protests in February and March 2011 prompted the Algerian government to offer more than $23 billion in public grants and retroactive salary and benefit increases. Public spending has increased by 27% annually during the past 5 years. The 2010–14 public-investment programme will cost US$286 Billion, 40% of which will go to human development.
The majority of Algerians are Berbers in origins, but a majority identifies with an Arabic-based culture. Islam is the predominant religion with 99% of the population. There are an estimated 10,000 Christians in Algeria as of 2008. Following the Revolution and Algerian independence, all but 6,500 of the country’s 140,000 Jews left the country, of whom about 90% moved to France with the Pied-Noir and 10% moved to Israel.
However, elections in the largest country in Africa, the Arab world, and the Mediterranean Basin are routinely criticized by opposition groups as unfair and international human rights groups say that media censorship and harassment of political opponents continue. Algeria is an authoritarian regime, according to the Democracy Index 2010. The Freedom of the Press 2009 report gives it rating “Not Free”.