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Saturday, May 31, 2008

Hezbollah and Lebanon: Whistling in the Dark

The revolting victory of the Hezbollah in Lebanon is being delivered in installments. The first was the takeover of Beirut by armed force. This was followed by the army "compromise" that gave Hezbollah what it wanted so it could withdraw its soldiers and allow them, and all other wishful-thinking Lebanese, to pretend that they were not using force to get their way. This was followed by the Qatar agreement that put the stamp of approval on the "compromise," and additionally gave the Hezbollah veto power over any government action, as well as setting up the next elections so that Hezbollah supporters would have a certain majority. The latest humiliation to date was the glowing approval of the shameful agreement was given by the UN Security council. [more]

by Moderator @ 04:05 PM CST [Link]


Israel - Syria Negotiations and their Possible Impact on Israel - Palestinian Peace

The recent announcement from Israel and Syria that they are engaged in negotiations for a comprehensive peace treaty through Ankara took some by surprise. However, in retrospect perhaps there was no reason for the surprise. Syria seeks to regain the Golan Heights captured by Israel in the 1967 war and it also wants to re--establish a relationship with Washington. In its view, the best hope of reestablishing full ties with the US would be through talks with Israel. Economic reasons also motivate Damascus; this relates to the fact that the Syrian economy, unlike its GCC counterparts, is sluggish and needs significant amounts of foreign currency to kickstart the local economy. However Syria understands that no international investor would make a large investment into a country not at peace with its neighbours. In addition, there are other domestic constraints compelling Damascus towards a peace settlement with Israel. Political repression combined with poor economic prospects results in the minority Alawite regime facing the brunt of popular anger. One form of this popular anger is the emergence of radical Islam. According to Syrian Vice President Farouk Shara, radical Islam constitutes a threat to Syria and a peace deal with Israel is the only way to halt it. Presumably this would necessitate greater security cooperation between Israel and Syria on this issue.
[more]

by Moderator @ 03:18 PM CST [Link]


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Israel-Syria peace: a possible dream?

The dramatic announcement of indirect, Turkish-mediated peace talks between Israel and Syria has been greeted by a wave of skepticism. A majority of Israelis are convinced it is just "spin" to distract attention from Israel PM Ehud Olmert's legal problems, a view reinforced by the Israeli right. On the left, Akiva Eldar hints that it may be a device to sabotage Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Amos Harel points out that the deal cannot work without US support and foreign aid for Syria, and the US appears cool to the initiative. The same opinion is given here as well, and an AP story notes that the US has been more or less exuberant about the disastrous Lebanon compromise (see Springtime for Nasrallah), but lukewarm about the announcement of talks between Syria and Israel. [more]

by Moderator @ 04:37 PM CST [Link]


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Springtime for Nasrallah and Iran, winter for Lebanon and France

The news from Doha is that the long Lebanese impasse is finally over. Aided by the good offices of the ostensibly pro-Western Qatar government, the Hezbollah has seemingly scored a knockout blow over its Lebanese opponents. Qatar mediated a "compromise" that apparently gives Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran everything they wanted, and puts an end to Lebanese independence in all but name. The crucial issue, which pro-government forces had supported during the many months of the Hezbollah siege, was the question of granting Hezbollah and its allies over 1/3 of the 30 cabinet members in the government. This provides them with veto power, and will probably make it possible to stop the international tribunal that was to try the murderers of Rafiq Hariri. [more]

by Moderator @ 04:06 PM CST [Link]


Saturday, May 10, 2008

Lebanon: frozen in the headlamps of history

Watching the events in Lebanon from a safe distance provides a frustrating sense of deja vu. It happened in 1938 in Czechoslovakia, but that was before my time. It happened in Hungary again in 1956, and in Czechoslovakia again in 1968, and in Iran in 1979, and now it is happening in Lebanon. A people is being crushed, and the world looks on helpless. Never mind that nobody cares about the Lebanese people. Foreign relations and foreign policy are never really based on humanitarian sentiments and affection. That is just bumf to be written in speeches and schoolbooks. But it is shocking that nobody seems to care that Lebanon has taken one more step on the road it began to travel with the foundation of Hezbollah: the road to becoming an Islamic Republic. The Lebanese government itself, and those who should care about Lebanon, did not seem to have the sense to stop playing with the fire of Hezbollah when it was still possible to do so.
[more]

by Moderator @ 12:23 PM CST [Link]


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Rights for Palestinian refugees

We all agree - every person should have the right to a decent job, good housing, health care and education. Every person should also be the responsibility of some nation state, whether or not that state represents the national feelings they hold in their heart of hearts. There are ethnic Greeks and Jews and Sudanese with American or French or British citizenship, and they are permitted to feel any way they wish about about it. These are fundamental rights, aren't they? [more]

by Moderator @ 06:10 PM CST [Link]


Israel-Palestinian negotiations muddle

A great mystery surrounds the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. These negotiations are supposed to give hope to supporters of peace, and particularly to Palestinian moderates, who need to show some accomplishments in the face of extremism represented by Hamas supporters. [more]

by Moderator @ 01:35 PM CST [Link]


Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Durban Conference: Pushing the World's Battle against Racism

Pushing the World's Battle against Racism
By Benjamin Pogrund

Planning is underway for next year's Durban Review Conference -- the follow-up to the United Nations World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) held in Durban in August/September 2001. The Preparatory Committee ended a two-week meeting in Geneva last week after much negotiating behind the scenes, but with little to show in public. It failed to agree on the venue, length and date for the Durban Review Conference.
[more]

by Moderator @ 10:41 AM CST [Link]


Friday, May 2, 2008

Perverting the language of dialogue and peace making

Yours truly has received of late some very different communications that are united by their common cynical abuse of the highest aspirations of the human race. They are all waging war, and attempting to perpetuate hatred and racism. They are all the more odious because they use and abuse the language of "peace," "solutions," "justice" and "reconciliation." [more]

by Moderator @ 12:27 AM CST [Link]


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