May 30, 2012 by Ramzy Baroud
Yemeni forces continue to push against fighters affiliated with al-Qaeda. Their major victories come on the heels of the inauguration of Abd Rabbuh Mansur al-Hadi, who is now entrusted with the task of leading the country through a peaceful transition. A new constitution and presidential elections are expected by 2014.
Faced with the most strenuous of circumstances – the unyielding ruling family, the US-lead war on al-Qaeda, sectarian tension, unsettled political divides between south and north, and unforgiving poverty – the youth of Yemen have successfully managed to introduce a hopeful chapter to an otherwise gloomy modern history.
May 30, 2012 by Marshall Auerback
It might seem strange to invoke Freddie Mercury and Queen in the context of the eurozone, but it’s the first thought that springs to mind, as Brussels and the increasingly hapless ECB, continue to mismanage their way to financial and economic catastrophe. Yesterday, there were signs that the Spanish plan to recapitalise Bankia (which came with the implied backing of the ECB’s balance sheet) introduced a potential way out of the eurozone’s metastisizing banking crisis.
Sadly, it’s another idea which will never get off the bulletin board, as the ECB bluntly rejected any proposal to use its balance sheet to indirectly fund Bankia, the troubled Spanish lender
May 30, 2012 by Peter Lee
If Assad loses control of his armed forces and the regime loses its legitimacy as the expression of Syrian nationalism, the ingredients don’t seem there for a Lebanon-style civil war with local proxies armed by regional or global actors.
That’s because I don’t think that Russia, China, or even Iran see any upside in arming some Ba’ath regime generals of primarily Alawite backgrounds trying to beat back an insurrection powered largely by Syria’s dominant Sunni majority. Alawites are estimated at 12% of Syria’s largely Sunni population and don’t look to do well if the Syrian uprising transforms into an explicitly sectarian confrontation.
Lebanon, on the other hand, is split between Christians, Sunnis, and Shi’ites with no one group holding a clear demographic advantage (especially since there hasn’t been an official census in Lebanon for decades), providing multiple opportunities for regional and global patrons to make mischief through their durable local proxies.
May 29, 2012 by Esam Al-Amin
The Egyptian people are still in shock ever since the announcement of the results of the presidential elections late last week. They refuse to accept an outcome that sees Gen. Ahmad Shafiq, the last Prime Minister of deposed dictator Hosni Mubarak, having received more than 5.5 million votes, or about 24 percent of the votes cast, less than one percent behind the frontrunner and Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Dr. Muhammad Mursi.
After the dust has settled, some remarkable facts have been revealed that point towards an extremely sophisticated operation, which ensured that Shafiq would receive enough votes to go to the second round runoff (that could only have been pulled off by the Egyptian security apparatus with the support of the military and the remnants of Mubarak’s banned National Democratic Party). This is how it could have happened.
May 29, 2012 by Jo Coghlan
Australia’s Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr has expelled the Syrian Charge d’Affairs Jawdat Ali Syrian in the wake of the Houla massacre that have reportedly seen 32 children massacred in Syria in recent days. He has said that Australians are “appalled at a regime that could connive in or organise the execution, the killing of men women and children.” Jawdat Ali has 72 hours to leave Australia.
May 29, 2012 by David H. Shinn
Minority Rights Group International (MRG) is a non-governmental organization working to secure the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities and indigenous peoples worldwide. It produces annually the Peoples Under Threat survey that identifies peoples or groups that are most under threat of genocide, mass killing or other systematic repression. It just released its survey for 2012 and the countries in the Horn of Africa scored especially low; four of them are among countries worldwide with peoples most under threat.
Somalia ranked #1 in both 2011 and 2012 with the groups most at risk being the Bantu, Benadiri and “caste” groups, and clan members at risk in fighting.
May 27, 2012 by John K. Yi
Having served his four year tenure as President pushing his trademark government initiative of modernizing the Russian economy and government, Prime Minister and newly appointed leader of the dominant United Russia Party, Dmitry Medvedev, now has his sights on modernizing his party.
While United Russia still remains the single dominant political force within Russia, up against often quarreling and fractious opposition groups, United Russia has seen its polls slipping in the past year. After the December 2011 Duma elections, where the party received a shellacking by the electorate, losing its super majority within the Parliament, the Russian public have taken to the streets in protest of fraudulent elections and the return of strongman Vladimir Putin to the Kremlin.
May 26, 2012 by Jabari White
As my parents carefully poured water onto the gauze that stuck to my legs from still largely unhealed burn wounds from an Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) roadside bomb, the pain was excruciating as the blood and puss congealed to the bandage began to loosen and release itself from the one bad night out of the hundreds I spent on dusty Iraqi roads. This attempt to ease the pain of the gauze separating from my open wounds was repeated on all four of my limbs. The water helped to some degree, but the pain was something that felt like slowly pulling limb sized band-aids from my skin.
My parents repeated this routine daily, for their son, whom his entire life had prepared them for this moment, as his lifelong dream of becoming an Army officer in the 101st Airborne Division came true.
It was that fact that I was a 101st Airborne officer that made the pain more bearable, for many others had perished during the division’s 2005-2006 tour in Iraq. The daily excruciating routine was a reminder of how fortunate I was to be alive, but on the day of February 7, 2007, the pain turned into anger as I read a New York Times article titled, “Many U.S. diplomats refuse to work in Iraq” by Helene Cooper.
May 25, 2012 by Esam Al-Amin
Fifteen months after millions of Egyptians – led by the revolutionary youth – were united in their demand to end a corrupt and suffocating dictatorship, they were now divided as they headed to the polls in the last two days in order to elect a new president. During this transitional period the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has ruled the country since Mubarak was deposed in February 2011, failed to uphold its promise of honoring the goals of the revolution by uprooting the corrupt elements of the former regime.
The unofficial results of the presidential elections show that the Muslim Brotherhood candidate Dr. Muhammad Mursi is headed to a runoff with Mubarak’s last Prime Minister and the anti-revolution candidate, Gen. Ahmad Shafiq. They received 24 and 23 percent of the votes, respectively. Meanwhile the two candidates supported by the revolutionary groups, Dr. Abdelmoneim Abol Fotouh and Hamdein Sabahi received 17 and 20 percent respectively, while former foreign minister Amr Moussa was a distant fifth with less than 11 percent. So what happened and how can one understand these results?
May 25, 2012 by Abukar Arman
Two decades have passed since the collapse of Somalia. Twenty one years to be exact. According to Lee Cassanelli, Professor of African history at the University of Pennsylvania, this exact number matters in Somali politics – perhaps in a subconscious way.
In August 2007, during one of his presentations at the Somali Studies International held in Columbus, Ohio, Cassanelli anecdotally argued that every twenty one years, Somalia has a collective experience or an itch of a sort that causes significant changes. These cycles extend from Sayyid Mohammed Abdulle Hassan’s anti-colonial movement which started at the dawn of the 20th Century that came to an end in 1920; to the Somali Youth League (SYL) founded in 1948 and the democratic government born out of that movement that was overthrown by a military coup in 1969; to the military government which lasted from 1969 till the end of 1990; to the fratricide and division era that started in 1991 and continues albeit faintly in 2012.
I don’t know if this falls in the realm of political astronomy or political astrology, or whether or not the cycle at hand would bring about a positive change, lasting peace, and reconciliation. All I know is that the expectation of the upcoming Istanbul Conference is very high, because Somalia cannot afford another year of systematic self-destruction. And, because this marks the first conference in which Somalis from every social and political sector (300 Somalis from the homeland and the Diaspora including this one) would gather to discuss, negotiate, and jointly develop a blueprint to ending the current political stalemate that has been corroding the social fabric and the essence of Soomaalinimo or Somaliness.
May 25, 2012 by Iqbal Ahmed
The war between East and West Pakistan in 1971 lasted only nine months. But the atrocities were cowering – an estimated three million people dead, 400,000 women raped, 600,000 children killed, and scores of targeted intellectuals slaughtered in an attempt to cripple East Pakistan’s social and cultural backbone. Besides politics, atrocities against the people of East Pakistan by the West Pakistani army stemmed from ethnic hatred. In his book, “Death by Government”, R. J. Rummel wrote, “Bengalis were often compared with monkeys and chickens.” It was a statement West Pakistani General Niazi once made about how he viewed the people of East Pakistan.
May 24, 2012 by John Kmiecik
A key element in the debate over the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (North Korea or DPRK) nuclear weapons program that has evaded attention is the complex relationship between Chinese foreign and domestic policy. A historical trend exists in the Communist Chinese Party (CCP) that foreign policy decisions are made in regards to pursuing domestic objectives.
The CCP’s purging of Bo Xilai, Party Chief of Chongqing province and potential Politburo Standing Committee member, happens to coincide with North Korea’s renewed testing of a ballistic missile after United States officials claimed that a breakthrough moment had occurred in negotiations.
May 24, 2012 by Anis Bajrektarevic
Indonesia and Japan will play pivotal roles in the further development of Asia as an economic block to counter China’s growing influence. Beijing, presently, cannot contemplate or afford to allocate any resources in search of alternative forms of energy, which will have greater ramifications in the future.
Importantly, China’s economy is becoming overheated and too well integrated into the petrodollar system. The Sino economy is low-wage and labor intensive and Chinese revenues are heavily dependent on exports and Chinese reserves are predominantly a mix of the USD and US Treasury bonds. To sustain itself as an economic entity, the People’s Republic will require more investments in alternative energy sources and less dependency on oil, who’s availability ebbs and flows.
May 23, 2012 by Conn M. Hallinan
Asia is currently in the middle of an unprecedented arms race that is not only sharpening tensions in the region, but competing with efforts by Asian countries to address poverty and growing economic disparity. The gap between rich and poor—calculated by the Gini coefficient that measures inequality—has increased from 39 percent to 46 percent in China, India, and Indonesia. While affluent households continue to garner larger and larger portions of the economic pie, “Children born to poor families can be 10 times more likely to die in infancy” than those from wealthy families, according to Changyong Rhee, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank.
This inequality trend is particularly acute in India, where life expectancy is low, infant mortality high, education spotty, and illiteracy widespread, in spite of that country’s status as the third largest economy in Asia, behind China and Japan.
May 23, 2012 by Sagar BM
Every relationship has its ups and downs and the Indo-Japan relationship is no exception. The link connecting India and Japan has existed for several decades. The history of Indo-Japan relations has been quite unique and the growth of this alliance has been slow. The physical distance between these two states has also meant a level of mental distance as neither country has figured on each other’s political or economic radars for decades.
Although cultural ties between the two countries go back fourteen centuries when Buddhism spread to Japan in the 7th century AD via China and Korea, the relationship has primarily been indirect. Direct contact between these two countries was established in the mid-19th century.