South Africa, the Dalai Lama and China’s Muscular Diplomacy

October 2, 2011 by

The question of human rights is never disconnected from politics. The latest controversy over the Dalai Lama’s visa application to visit South Africa has brought the subject to the fore again. The exiled Tibetan leader has been invited to attend the former Archbishop of Cape Town and fellow Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu’s 80th birthday celebrations. He is scheduled to deliver a lecture there in the coming week. The title is “Peace and compassion as catalyst for change.” But the South African government’s reluctance to grant him a visa has generated a heated debate in the press in South Africa and abroad, including India, his home in exile since 1959. There are accusations that Pretoria is going to deny the Dalai Lama permission in order to please China.

Erdoganism: A Word of Caution

October 2, 2011 by

There are few analysts today who would disagree that Turkey’s populist Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, is having a good run. On paper, it’s not difficult to discern why. His Justice and Development Party (AKP) has enjoyed three successive election victories, eight years in power, a booming economy and a continued ability to subdue any interference in political life from his country’s feared military. If that wasn’t enough, his dual charm offensives in the west as the new model Muslim leader, and simultaneously in the Muslim world as the big brother ready to protect them, has gone down well enough for almost every world capital to lay down the red carpet welcoming him.