Fear of an Islamic Planet

October 4, 2011 by

It’s easy to make fun of Michele Bachmann: her history gaffes, her Christian extremism, her ludicrous political positions. Journalists, though, would be sad to see her leave the Republican primary race, since she can be reliably counted on to make an outrageous statement to enliven a slow news day.

After Gaddafi, will Libya’s ‘resource curse’ become a blessing?

October 4, 2011 by

With the collapse of Muammar Gaddafi’s autocratic regime, the transitional government in Libya is prompting hopes for a new era of democracy in the country. While a swift transition to democracy is certainly desirable, a question arises: to what extent is democratisation going to help the economic development of Libya? This question has a complicated answer.

U.S. - Pakistan Diplomatic Ties Being Put to the Test

October 4, 2011 by

America’s diplomatic ties with Pakistan have further deteriorated following critical statements made by Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen earlier last week. In his testimony before a Sept. 22 Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, Admiral Mullen called out Pakistan’s shadowy Inter Services Intelligence Agency (ISI) for its long-suspected ties to terrorists networks in the region, purporting that the country’s intelligence wing has directly supported recent insurgent attacks on US targets in Afghanistan.

Turkey and Russia Spar Over Natural Gas Prices

October 4, 2011 by

While few people in the world have warm feelings for energy companies beyond perhaps their stockholders, Russia’s state-owned natural gas monopoly Gazprom has shown an unrivalled and unique capacity to alienate is customers over the past two decades since the collapse of the USSR. Nations unhappy with Gazprom’s bludgeoning tactics include virtually all of the new nations composing the post-Soviet space and beyond. Issues range from aggressive low-balling of purchase prices for natural gas exports (Central Asia post-Soviet states) through transit countries getting screwed on both prices and transit fees (Belarus, Ukraine and China) to end consumers from Eastern and Central Europe to Asia.

The Syrian Uprising: US Follow a Failed path

October 4, 2011 by

United States ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, is quite a feisty diplomat. He shows up unannounced and uninvited at various hot spots in the country, greeted with varying degrees of enthusiasm and, oftentimes, anger. When he made a highly touted appearance in the city of Hama in July, residents reportedly greeted him with flowers. However, his appearance at the home of an opposition figure in Damascus on September 29 earned him a salvo of tomatoes and rocks from angry protesters.

Can Syrian Opposition Unite?

October 4, 2011 by

While its members hail the formation of a new Syrian anti-regime assembly as the biggest effort to date to form a representative body for activists, analysts say it is still unclear whether this will succeed in uniting a long-divided opposition. Leaders of the 140-member Syrian National Counsel, SNC, formed during a September 15 opposition meeting in Istanbul, say it reflects an unprecedented level of coordination. “This attempt is unique,” Yaser Tabbara, a United States-based lawyer and member of the steering committee of the SNC, said. “It is the most systematic, scientific effort to form an opposition that is united and independent at its very core.

Reflections on the Abbas statehood speech

October 4, 2011 by

There is a natural disposition for supporters of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination to suppose that the Palestinian statehood bid must be a positive initiative, because it has generated such a frantic Israeli effort to have it rejected. Despite the high costs to United States diplomacy in the Middle East at this time of regional tumult and uncertainty, the US has committed itself to exercise its veto on Israel’s behalf if that turns out to be necessary.

Bill Clinton Is Baaaaaaaaack!

October 4, 2011 by

The New York Times reported last week that former President Bill Clinton is working on a new book on economic policy to be released in time for next year’s election. This is unfortunate, since Clinton stands alongside Alan Greenspan as one of the last people who should be giving the country and the world advice on economic policy.