Monday, May 2, 2011

Salman Rushdie on Pakistan's paranoia and inefficiency

Sir Salman RushdieImage via Wikipedia//Salman Rushdie
It's much to be said about the latest events following Osama bin Laden's successful elimination. I followed yesterday the reactions in the Arab world and other details about the operation and I'm not surprised that less then 10 hours after the announcement, the conspiracy theories are mushrooming. 

But for a better picture we always need time, so I will focus for the moment upon an interesting article by Salman Rushdie, about the significance of the success of the operation for the US-Pakistan relations. I wonder for how long the US/Allied forces tried to capture the no.1 terrorist and their plans were affected by various operational problems on the ground with the Pakistanis. Anybody wondering about Musharraf's reaction?
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The follow-up

Thanks to the news about the successful operation against Osama bin Laden I'm back in the blogging world (this time for good, and preparing lots of interesting articles - take those introductory remarks as a very promotional teaser)...

After 10 years of searches, researches and millions of volumes of intelligence and military operations, it was about time to have him, but the fact in itself doesn't mean the end of the war or the final breath of terrorism. In my opinion, capturing him and delivering justice would have been a better move. But this, in a fully democratic world. In many respects, such a move would reshape him a "martyr" aura. 

I've read a couple of posts about how killing Osama might be the final signal to close down Guantanamo. Are those people ignoring the fact that many Guantanamo inmates returned in their home countries and reintegrated easily into the criminal rings they used to be part of before or were simply included by various terrorist cells? You need to find a legal system able to cope with such cases and to prevent the widespread of terrorism. An utopian project, by now. 

Obama's remarks are a tribute to all the efforts done during the last years, started by Bush administration, to put prevent similar terrorist attack to 9/11. Most probably he will use this success for electoral purposes as it used the weapon of criticism against the same Bush administration to win the votes of the Americans disillusioned with the war against terror (a communication failure of Bush administration(. I'm reading on some leftist blogs the fierce accusations against Obama, labeled as 'killer'. Probably their mind is still confused after the May Day demonstrations. This might be another example of the failure of the left after the fall of communism. Maybe they thought for a while that Obama might be their idol. 

What happened after Osama's promotion in history is the birth of a world accepting the possibility of such people and their criminal acts: getting used with his figure and his discourses on TV, with daily alers on terrorism, with an impressive number of successful or unsuccessful terrorist acts and attempts. In fact, his appearance in the daily media and in our daily lives - via TV or Internet, tools that Al Qaeda is using successfully - was well prepared by the wave of terrorism from the 1970s. TV and Internet lately widespread and amplified the effect of terrorism. Both disgust and sympathy - the percentages aren't clear - were outlined. If we look back in history, we should realize that people like Gaddafi, for example, who openly supported terrorism, were in the media long time before we were acknowledged about the existence of this Osama. One month ago, NATO started a series of strikes in Libya, after Gaddafi's bloody attempts to shut down the protests of opposition. The future of Gaddafi and Libya's future as such are still unclear. But Lockerbie was also a terrorist attack and many of the people directly involved were given "carte blanche" and we don't know exactly what role they will have in a possible post-Gaddafi scenario. From the point of view of the military operations, for me it's hard to believe that after such a long time, a military coalition as NATO was not able to produce visible and definitive results on the ground. 

A situation similar to Libya is taking place for weeks in Syria. Assad's regime is not strange of the connections with terrorism as well. I don't pledge for a military intervention here too, but looking carefully into the facts I see the same stubborn refusal to accept pluralism and the opportunity of change. The same situation in Iran, another staunch supporter of terrorist organizations. 

Would Osama's death deter the support for terrorism all over the world? Maybe it's too late now as he already produced various copies and supporters. Al Qaeda was structured at the beginning as an operational network of cells, operating independently. With or without a supreme leader, it was planned to act in various environments following the percepts of the religious extremism. This mushrooming would be, in fact, very difficult to control in the post-Osama era. It is unclear for the moment who's next in command or how the terrorist cells will react to the news. Maybe the SEAL interventions will continue, in Pakistan or elsewhere. 

The story will continue to create sensation on social media and in various other media. Nothing unexpectedly that chunks of information went leaked on social media, creating the wave about the success (the operation, step-by-step was twitted, but we didn't know what this guy was tweeting about). And nothing strange that people celebrated on the streets on New York City or Washington DC. They did it to support America, not to ask the death of other nations and peoples as it's going on more often than we think on the Arab streets.   

I tried to follow up the information on other media channels. For instance, Al Jazeera's reports were introducing Osama as a kind of romantic hero - he was peaceful, as a student he didn't involve in the 70s riots, a religious person (a mention made more than 3 times) etc..

What's for me very important in terms of understanding the current situation of the fight against terrorism is that he was killed in Pakistan. In the past, other big Al Qaeda and Taliban names have been captured in big Pakistani cities. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, for example, the Kuwaiti-born senior leader, was captured in Rawalpindi. Mullah Barandar, the Afghan Taliban military commander was reportedly captured in Karachi. Pakistan is an old ally of US, benefiting of a permanent support for decades for democratization of the military and the political system. This information about the location where Osama was killed is very important for the follow up of the war on terror in the next days, weeks, maybe years. Still waiting for an official reaction from Pakistan explaining how it was possible to host the no.1 terrorist very close to the capital-city.

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Why Gaddafi is still in power?

TRIPOLI. With leader of the Libyan Revolution ...Image via Wikipedia//Gaddafi and the "friend" Putin
Trying to answer this question while looking at some recent news and reports regarding the support the regime from Tripoli enjoyed at various international and academic levels.

For example, LSE wasn't alone in its support for Gaddafi and his family. Michigan State University too contributed to the training of Libyan officials. Additionally, an impressive lobby was mobilized in the last decade for improving the image of the tribe-man on the international stage. And Tony Blair's "friendship" is well-known, isn't it?
The fights continue in Libya.

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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Latest from Libya

The UN headquarters in New YorkImage via Wikipedia//The UN headquarters in NY
As you probably know, Mr. Mu'ammar Abu Minyar al-Qaddhafi is still in power, continuing to kill its "beloved" people.

The protests and the international reactions, step-by-step, from The Telegraph.

Fights continues over the country and in the oil city of Brega. Tripoli is still in the control of Gaddafi's loyals.

The international world - a couple of month ago, not saying one single word against the terrorist - is asking him to go.

The flow of people continues in another serious humanitarian crisis...

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Daily Media Digest

North Africa and Middle East


EU fears waves of immigration
A Libyan navy, near the Maltese coast. UN condemnds crackdown. The intricate tribal context.
Call for unity in Bahrain
Algeria to lift state of emergency
The passage of the Iranian ship through Suez delayed for 48 hours
Launch of the Magna MENA Fund
The consequences of the political turmoil to the world economy

Africa

Battles errupt in the Ivory Coast
S. Africa is going through a complicated economic situation

Europe

Kosovo: Thaci re-named PM
Greek bail-out to be extended
France's nuclear ambitions
Italy and Turkey's friends
Putin at the EU


US and Canada

Rahm Emanuel, mayor of Chicago

Australia and New Zealand


Christchurch tragedy
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Revolution and the Muslim World | STRATFOR

Revolution and the Muslim World | STRATFOR

Daily Media Digest

North Africa and the Middle East

Violences continue in Libya. Testimonies about the regime. Events in Libya dominate the main pages of the international media. Libya and its oil resources. Libyan embassy in Australia cuts ties with Gaddafi
Two Iranian warships enter Suez Canal
Yemen president insists to stay in power

Europe

Merkel plays down Hamburg defeat.
Zu Guttenberg gives up his doctorate till further clarifications
Serbia hurry up to enter the Algerian arms market
David Cameron in Egypt: The urge for reforms
Greece plans tought tax evasion laws




Africa

Omar al-Bashir will not stand for re-election
Police base in Somalia attacked by insurgents
Discussions about Cote d'Ivoire

Asia

China cracks down on social media
Chances for reconciliation between Thailand and Cambodia in the border dispute

Latin America


Hunger strike in Venezuela. Chavez's failures.
Chilean miners to visit Israel
Argentina and MERCOSUR


US and Canada


Another Chinese official refugiated in Canada?
US Navy leader to China: "be responsible and constructive"


Australia and New Zealand


Earthquake in New Zealand
Australia hit by cyclone
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Monday, February 21, 2011

Book Review: Crude World

As a direct consequence of the previous book I wrote about, the world of those involved with various transactions with raw materials is crude, at least immoral and violent: A crude world. Among all the resources, oil benefited of a triple attention and was introduced as actor in various evaluations of political and geopolitical moves. The war in Iraq? Of course, the cause is the oil, many answered automatically with a self-sufficient air. But what about Afghanistan? Wait and see, something have to be there excepting poppy...

What we don't talk too much is the fact that the natural resources, in wrong hands, prove to be lethal weapons turned against the population and democracy. In Iraq, not the American soldiers sold the oil for getting money for building expensive presidential palaces, but Saddam's clique. This is only an example. 

Peter Maass started the documentation  for the book started long before 9/11 and the author visited several countries as Nigeria, Russia, Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan, Venezuela, Iraq or Kuwait. The author is following the idea of the "resources curse": natural resources, specifically oil, creates many troubles and it is not the automatic condition for improving the economic status. South Korea and Japan might be good examples in this direction. Among the cases analized - in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America - all the countries are fighting with institutionalized corruption, democratic deficit and economic unbalances. The notable exception: Norway enjoying lots of resources and equally a vibrand economy and a democratic system. In many situations, as it is the case in Russia or Saudi Arabia (who possesses 21% of the world's conventional reserves, p. 17), information about the volume of resources are classified under the category of "state secret", allowing abuses and various infringements of the international legislation.

But, oil also brought know-how, created the need for highly educated specialists becoming part of the local elites and international investments. In the latter case, the big companies adapted very rapidly to the local customs and are eager to pay as many bribes as possible to get their fields or investments. All you need is to ask "What's your number?"

The situation is not deadlocked, even it will be very difficult to challenge the deep culture of abuse and manipulation, lasting for centuries: the creation of monitoring bodies in terms of business ethics, implementation of transparent legislation, the push for democracy and rule of law all over the world. The interest for alternative energies might switch progressively the interest to other kind of energy resources, with a less appetite for arbitrary. By then, I completely agree with this affirmation (p.118):  “Like a nation or nationality, the industry has its particular belief system, its financial and political interests, its social layers and pecking orders. In some ways, it has the hallmarks of a political party and a religious movement”.

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Book Review: The King of Oil

In the world of the big businesses, the rules are different, the measures are different and the consequences, obviously, of another level.
The book is a careful and balanced account - for me, the first one, so I am not able to draw a detailed comparison with other works - of the adventurous life of Marc Rich. But, thinking about other similar stories of big names of the resources business, his story is having a high degree of plausibility. Love stories, dangerous places, illegal or not in accordance with the generally accepted rules, state controversies and subsequent hunting, political risks. In addition, Rich went involved in philanthropic activities, not only for the sake of fame and success.
I was reading the book with the same curiosity shared for a crime and spy story. Was wondering what the next move will be in order to avoid the long arm of the US Marshals, even I knew very well that he was not harmed and escaped miraculously the various attempts to be brought in the States. 
It is a luck of the hunted rich people? And suddenly I was thinking about the strange fate of Khodorkovsky. I don't believe in conspiration theories, as I am convinced that many attacks against Rich were deeply Anti-Semitic (and in many places in the world, ridiculous dwarfs are using his name as a self-sufficient explanation of their hate against Jews). If it is was possible to pardon him - whatever the risk - I am inclined to believe that, in fact, the whole story was having at least a very slim political substratum. Because after reading this book I am almost perfectly convinced that in this kind of businesses, it's no place for angels, but sometimes, it is worthy a prayer.
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Daily Media Digest

N. Africa and the Middle East


Protests spreading in Libya. Live testimonies about the events: http://audioboo.fm/feb17voices
Tunisia seeks Ben Ali extradition
The unrest in Morocco continues
Egypt: Banks and pyramids are now open. Will be the new government preoccupied by acquiring nuclear weapons?

Israel monitoring Suez-bound Iran ships

Asia


Failure of the Jasmine Protests?
Philippines: Remember People Power
ASEAN meeting trying to solve the border dispute


Europe


France: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, possible competitor for Sarkozy?
EU: More money for the Mediterranean countries?
Hungary: Structural reforms not on table
Russia asks Serbia to do not join NATO


Australia

Gillard, to meet Obama soon

Africa

Somalia: Suicide car-bomb near Mogadishu

Latin America

Cuba: News about the latest release of prisoners
The Chile-Peru dispute on Wikileaks
Peru: crack-down on illegal gold miners in Amazon

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Bahrain: Short overview of the kingdom

Coat of arms of Bahrain.Image via Wikipedia//Bahrain coat of arms
The recent protests in Bahrain put this country on the media spot. And, as usual when we have to deal with countries outside the European space, we have many basic questions, I tried to answer for myself, as the protests are expected to continue over the week-end.

A Major Non-NATO Ally of the US

Bahrain is the smallest Arab state and an important ally of the US in the Persian Gulf, hosting the US Fifth Fleet - about 1500 United States and coalition military personnel. It enjoys the status of Major Non-NATO Ally, conferred in 2003 by George W. Bush, a status also enjoyed by Egypt, since 1989. This status confers several financial and military advantages, among which military purchases, anti-terrorist support or transfer of technology.

The recent protests took place 10 years after the referendum aiming to introduce the principles of constitutional monarchy. Following those changes, the country successfully conducted in 2002 the first democratic parliamentary election in the Arab Gulf. In the same year, in April, it made CNN when a Bahraini youth was killed trying to storm the US embassy in an anti-US riot. On the other hand, six people originary from Bahrain went fo Guantanamo Bay, among which one member of the ruling family. From the religious point of view, it is a country with shi’a majority, struggling a difficult economic condition and a Suni minority in power.

The Cabinet is appointed by the King, with half of the members coming from the royal family. The country's elected parliament is the only one in the Gulf Arab region besides Kuwait's assembly, but its bills still need to pass an upper house (Shura) that is appointed by the king. Al Wefaq bloc, with a strong religious stance, organized last year, in October, massive rallies, asking for the boycott of elections. Now, ahead of the latest protests, members of the bloc announced the intention of refusing to partipate to the works of the legislative.

Last year, the emirate was in the midst of a major crackdown on its opposition. Two dozen dissidents, including intellectuals, clerics and a prominent blogger, had been rounded up, charged under anti-terrorism laws and allegedly tortured. A human rights group that had received U.S. funding was taken over by the government. Human Rights Watch had concluded that "what we are seeing in Bahrain these days is a return to full-blown authoritarianism." But at the end of 2010, while in Bahrain, Hillary Clinton praised implicitly the ruling family: "I am very impressed by the progress that Bahrain is making on all fronts - economically, politically, socially". When asked by a member of Parliament to comment the fact that "many people are arrested, lawyers and human rights activists”, Clinton's condescending offered explicitly her support for the ruling family. "It's easy to be focused internally and see the glass as half empty. I see the glass as half full," she said. "Yes, I mean people are arrested and people should have due process . . . but on the other hand the election was widely validated. . . . So you have to look at the entire picture". Before this week protests, the authorities imposed several restrictions to the web, as in Tunisia, Egypt, Iran...After the last protests, the US Administration asked Bahrain to show restraint.

As many other countries from the region, Bahrain don’t recognize the state of Israel. But, in the same time, it designated the first Jewish ambassador of an Arab country: Ms. Houda Ezra Ebrahim Nonoo the top-diplomat in the US who is in the same time the first female Bahraini ambassador. The members of the Jewish community, 36, are encouraged to express their identity, but they are not allowed to visit Israel, due to the lack of official diplomatic relations.

As in the other recent and very recent cases, it is not clear what will be the final outcome and this will not be able to see from a day to another. More to come, for sure.

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Daily Media Digest

Europe

Belgium: 250 days without government
Portugal under euro-zone pressure
The crackdown on the Belarusian opposition continues. OSCE expresses strong concerns.


Middle East and the Arab World

Bahrain is mourning the victims of the latest protests
Dozens reported killed in Libya
Unrest in Yemen
What's going on with Ben Ali? (Actually, I will be extremely careful with this kind of "news": recently, Mubarak also was assumed being in coma. What's the conclusion: the lost of undemocratic power leads to cerebral commotion?)
The Egyptian assets in Switzerland
Egypt: former ministers arrested
Incredible Syria: lecturing EU on democracy

Africa

Uganda votes
Nigeria adopted its first anti-terrorist act
Clashes in South Sudan: 20,000 persons forced to flee

Asia


China, ready to block UN report on North Korea
The Japan-Russia debate over Kurile: to be continued

Latin America

Brazil: War on drug-trafficking
US: Chavez' influence, in decline

Global Markets

G20 Meeting
Robert Zoellick: A monetary regime for a multipolar world 
Gazprom: ready for deliveries to the US
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood

In their own words or how to use democracy to kill democracy.
Regional dangers of the current situation in Egypt, the consequences for Israel (and not only).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Book Review: Understanding Arabs

With the whole discussions from the last two months, in the media and in the public space, about the Middle East - not exclusively focused, as usual, on the Israeli-Palestinian issue - a book explaining simply what are the main traits and cultural habits of the Arabs is extremely useful. 
And the term "Guide", from the intertitle is expressing exactly what this book it is about: an introduction in the culture, society, language, customs, religion, tradition and raily life. The examples took from the daily life are offering authenticity and direct insights. The references are mostly cultural, with basic information that need further bibliography.
But if you want to move or travel to one of the countries from the region and need more than the indications from the usual guides or if you want to start your intellectual journey across the region, this book is a good start.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pharaohs-in-Waiting - The Atlantic

Pharaohs-in-Waiting - The Atlantic

Main Players In Egypt: Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood, ElBaradei, Suleiman, Protestors, Nour | The New Republic

Main Players In Egypt: Mubarak, Muslim Brotherhood, ElBaradei, Suleiman, Protestors, Nour | The New Republic

Egypt, Democracy and Islam

A Pew Research Center analysis from almost one year ago.
My observation is that, usually, during crisis, the opinions are very much exposed to radical and dramatic changes. Everything it is a matter of the leadership and alternatives.
For me, democracy is the only solution, but I am not too much in denial to deny the fact that for many countries, democracy doesn't mean a word. Unfortunately.
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Movie review: The Green Wave

A couple of weeks ago, I was recommended by some of my Iranian friends to take 30 minutes of my time and watch The Green Wave, a documentary about Mousavi's activity during the electoral campaign in Iran. 

I understand now very well that a radical change from a day to another or radical messages of change are, at least, counter-productive in a country whose base is still very traditional, and not necessarily city/urban-based. In this case, the "green" reference - what for us the Westerners might mean "spring", "beginning", in the Middle East it is obviously associated with religion - is understandable and at the end of the (political) game, the adversities can be reduced to who's the best fit guardian of the belief. 

I was waiting from such a movie less political advertising - very good filmed images of masses and popular gatherings, anyway - and more information: as long as it is aired in the West, we have to be convinced about what Moussavi represents in terms of potential of change. As you don't need to hold a Psychology and Psychiatry diploma for reading the face of Ahmadinejad. 

And, by the way, I wish all those whose faced are appearing in the movie are still free and alive...
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The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report | STRATFOR

The Egypt Crisis in a Global Context: A Special Report | STRATFOR

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

News from the Middle East

Pressed by protests all over the area, the Arab leaders to pledge $2B to revamp economies at an economic forum this Wednesday, at Sharm el-Sheikh. 
The protests reached Oman. Reports from the area are talking about 200 people asking a stronger stance against corruption, while some other news widespread on social media are mentioning 2000...Mispellings? 
And this is a piece from the FP, on Anwar Al-Awlaki.
Plus, some thoughts about the waves of self-immolations. It is a form of political protest not brand new in politics, as it showed, in January 19 1969, Jan Palach, in the then Czechoslovak Communist Republic or the Tiananmen protesters in 1989. I don't have enough information for reading it according to an universal pattern, as a pure protest against an oppressive regime, without any cultural and religious specific frames.

I want to share a couple of non-scholarly thoughts on what it is going on in the area.
In the last two weeks, it was an over increasing avalanche of information regarding the protests and evolutions or involutions from the region, mostly, but not exclusively in English, French, Arabic. New blogs are created or old ones discovered. I had a very short virtual tour the last hour of many interesting and creative blogs written by people living in the region. It's a pitty that we found them only now, as many of them are hosting good discussions about other topics than politics and protests. For understanding what it is going on now, you need a lot of information about the cultural and mentalities' background. Unfortunately, we are now facing a burning out of too much data, news - not always accurate - about events, persons and situations leading to fortuite conclusions. 
For the moment, we see only shadows, in an Oriental-wise "ombres Chinoises" theater in the style of "1001+ nights". We, in the West, we optimistically wish the blessings of democracy spreading all over the world. It will be wonderful, but...
- those countries never experienced the basics of what we call democracy: separation of power, free and transparent institutions, respect for human - and women - rights, free media, free elections. You need years and deep beliefs to create such habitus, to educate people to refuse and oppose any kind of dictatorship/non-democratic regimes and politicians.
- fighting corruption in an effective way it is a good line of a manifest for the future, but the idea of "corruption" is projected in the discourses of some religious leaders as the fault of "secular" leaders, aiming to force modernization of their societies. According to those statements, the West is portrayed as "corrupt", in comparison with the societies ruled by the laws of Islam.
- excepting the religious parties and organizations - the Muslim Brotherhood is an example, banned or isolated from the political scene, there are not too many, if any, secular structures able to assume coherently and without relying on the (sometimes extreme) religious leaders. The experience and presence of some exiled leaders is not automatically the key for a separation from the past - see, for example, Iraq.
- this complex situation going on in the Middle East would likely block than empower further discussions between the state of Israel and the representatives of the Palestinian Authority - unable to take dramatic decisions exclusively by themselves. For one month, maybe for more. 
- I can bet that the same disorientation is shared in Tehran.
All we need is to watch and think and ponder and use our critical thinking capacities. 

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Movie review: In this World

The world is not fair and the place you are born in might be a luck or a curse. Following the silk road of despair presented in the movie In this World, I had a couple of pessimistic thoughts about how limited our chances might be sometimes and how easily do we waste the lucky cards, simply because we don't know how it is to have a bad life. 
The movie is the story of two Afghans, Enayat and Jamal, living for years in a refugee camp in Shamshatoo, from the time of the Soviet invasion. In such places, people are living short, in misery, children face the reality of life from early age and, without any clear future, would be recruited by various terrorist gangs. It is not the lack of Western-wise comfort and easy life that is shocking, but the stucked lives: it is not tomorrow, only the present dedicated to survival. The two Afghans are sent by their family - we don't see any women side of the family, but a society dominated by men - in London, smuggled through Iran, Turkey, via Italy and with the final destination: London. No papers, just money and some telephone numbers. A huge invisible because nobody cares about them network is put into movement by money. Money can't buy a new life, as it is the case of Enayat, who didn't survive the trip on container. Jamal is luckier, but not lucky enough to be provided refugee status in the UK and will have to leave the country before 18. 
This is a problem with granting refugee status, but it is a problem for Europe as well, overexposed by the illegal networks using humans as animals. It is a problem for the Afghan kids as well, who don't have the chance to a normal life, school and education. It is a human problem of all of us, far beyond the old Silk Road.
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Sunday, January 16, 2011

Understanding the Muslim Brotherhood

The members of this organization are not so hidden and not so secretive. This is only a problem of being able to understand who's who. And mostly, where are they operating - and yes, Tunisia is on the list too.
A couple of links contributing to a wider picture:
Moderates, not exactly...
Claire Berlinski, on their origins
The Muslim Brotherhood and the last elections in Jordan
The official website, in English - interesting to follow various reactions on the events taking place in the North of Africa and in the Middle East
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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Death of an Iranian Prince

Alireza Pahlavi, the younger son of the late shah of Iran was found dead, after he killed himself in his Boston residence. The role of the shah family in the current political developments in Iran is limited, and rather symbolical in relation with the main world power brokers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

About Facebook states

This is a post I was thinking about a very long time the last year, but because too busy with other conflicts, I delayed the documentation.
I was thinking about the latest Latin American spontaneous moves to declare the recogniziting of a Palestinian state "within the 1967 borders": (alphabetically) Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador and Uruguay. Chile and Paraguay are preparing to do it soon. And I was thinking, again, about the situation of Kosovo, a state who self-declared independence in February 2008, facing various system and structural problems, as well as the lack of elites. There are, of course, different shapes of the cups of tea, and the regions are having a different profile. But I was curious if the pioneers of independence proceeded similarly in the case of Kosovo, where most part of the current political leaders used to be part of the UCK, with a limited record of terrorism and repression in comparison with Hamas.
Let's have a look at the arguments:
Argentina declared that it will not recognise it because "it supports the principle of territorial integrity".
Brazil pledged that a peaceful solution for the issue of Kosovo must continue to be sought through dialogue and negotiation.
Bolivian president Evo Morales, refused, on February 2008 to recognize Kosovo's independence and compared the separatists with the leaders of the Bolivian states who have demanded greater autonomy.
Ecuadorian authorities promised they would carefully examine the developments in the area.
Uruguay expressed its official point of view in March 2008, according to "Ultima Noticias", as follows: "Uruguay has not recognized Kosovo's declaration of independence, because doing so would not be in in accordance with its required three pillars of recognition: the principle of territorial integrity of states, achieving a solution through dialogue and consensu, and recognition by international organisations".
Diplomacy, intelligence and caution are required in both cases and Che Guevara-like games might have unexpected boomerang effects.

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Religion and voting in Sudan

A year in books: 2010

I had a look this morning over the list of the best books sold and recommended by Amazon. And, not surprisingly, I found a couple of books covering exclusively or partially aspects related to foreign affairs and international politics.
From the category "Biographies and Memoirs", you have, in this order of preference: Laura Hillebrand (1) - Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption; Laura Bush (3) - Spoken from the Heart (useful for understanding the mentality basis of the Bush family); Karl Rove (15) - Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight; George W. Bush (18) - Decision Points (Laura took it all in the family, apparently), Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Terror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue, and Unthinkable Choices (24) (the only one from the list I've read and which, in my opinion, is full of stereotypes and who benefited of an undiserved - from the qualitative point of view - advertising), Andrew Young (26) - The Politician. An Insider's Account of John Edward's Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal that Brought him down.
From the category "Thriller and Fiction", on the 6th place you will find Glenn Beck's The Overton Window (the expression means a "window" in the range of public reactions to ideas in public discourse, from a spectrum of all possible options on a particular issue). I don't like nothing about Glenn Beck, but I would be curious to read his book, as part of my usual documentation about politics and people who want to be part of them.
The politics are represented in the category of "Literature and Fiction" with Karl Marlante's Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War, on the 1st place, Freedom, by Jonathan Franzen (3) and David Grossman (7) To the End of Land. (the last two books are on my shelves, waiting to be open very very soon).
Maybe today will be a day dedicated exclusively to reading and more and more writing to be posted very very soon.

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sparks of revolt in Tunisia, but will it be fire?

Tunisian President Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali at ...Image via Wikipedia//The president of Tunisia

Mohamed Bouazizi is a 26 years old Tunisian, and graduated Mahdia University and unemployed. After the local police from central-west side of the country police confiscated his fruits and vegetables because lacking a proper permit, he set himself on fire, December 17 2010. Now he is in intensive care and visited by officials looking extremely interested about his situation and, in general, about the fate of the youth in the country. UPDATE: Bouazizi died, January 5.
But he was and is not alone and shortly after, protests widespread over the country, but were isolated and repressed by the police and information about were not published in the state media. The most part of the news about the situation were transmitted by bloggers writing inside the country (Here are a couple of examples, in French, Arabic and English: Moor Next Door, A Tunisian Girl, Revolution Tunisieand on Twitter.  Al Jazeera dedicated a 23 minutes report on the situation, in its glamorous CNN-style adapted for the Middle East.
The youth, whose protests are not of recent date, but only the latest won certain intensity for being related in the international media, are asking for less corruption and more professional opportunities based on merit. Demonstrators brandished signs reading “Spread the Wealth” and “Balanced Development of Regions”. With the exception of the tourist zones contributing with a lot of cash to the economy, who made Tunisia famous among Westerners keen to taste some "Orient" without risking the terrorist danger, the unemployment is over 10 percent.
The president Zine al-Abidine ben Ali, ruler of the country for 23 years (who, among others, was involved in the national resistance against the French but studied later at the famous military French Academy Saint Cyr - his Romantic biography can be accessed here), condemned the foreign media for “manipulating images from the protest”.  He also ordered the prime minister to mobilize authorities nationwide for a 6.5 billion dinar ($4.5 billion) plan to create jobs for Tunisians with university diplomas — a substantial sum for a country of only 10 million people. But the opposition, unable to reach too much power, in a country qualified by the US administration according to the Wikileaks as a “police state,” says the government's response has been inadequate and that the protests are fueled not only by unemployment but by the lack of human rights. The president also reshuffled the Cabinet: the communications minister was replaced, while the Interior minister, guilty for the force interventions against protesters was kept. The minister for trade and the minister for religious affairs were also replaced.
Opposition politicians say dozens have been arrested and at least three persons were killed.
Some journalists from the Western media consider the revolt as a sign of change, but I would rather be cautious about declaring that the change – in what direction, and leaded by whom – already took place. Tunisia might be considered a kind of Egypt at a different scale, but it doesn't mean it is less exposed to the risks of instability and extreme temptations and dangers
And, in the middle of the turmoil, the Tunisian regime is ready to greet Abu Mazen, the  president of the Palestinian Authority.
Who will take the bad luck?


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