MideastWeb Middle East Web Log
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Iraq: A Surge of Optimism?
A year ago, almost no-one believed the war in Iraq could be won. American voters, tired of spending blood and treasure on a conflict that seemed to have no end in sight, handed George W. Bush's Republicans a crushing defeat in mid-term elections. In Washington, Republican lawmakers and commentators fell over themselves in their haste to distance themselves from Bush. In Iraq, Shiites and Sunnis alike grimly concluded that a US withdrawal was imminent, and began positioning themselves for the civil war would inevitably follow. [more]
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Annapolis Summit: History or bluff?
In retrospect, everything that happened at the Annapolis Maryland peace summit, everything that we all said could not happen, looks as though it were inevitable, doesn't it? And yet, what did happen? Did the Arab states make a strong commitment to peace with Israel? Not that anyone mentioned yet. Did Israel agree to give up the occupation or any part of it? Did the Palestinians agree to compromise on any issues so that a working agreement is possible? Did anyone suggest a way to deal with the problem of the Hamas? They are there, in Gaza, but you would hardly know it from the public statements of the sides. In fact, did anyone say anything that was not said before? Perhaps and perhaps not.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
The King and the sword
I found it emotionally and intellectually disturbing to see the King of Saudi Arabia present the Pope with a sword on his visit to the Vatican when there has never been a greater need to distance the name of Islam and the image of Muslims from the violent connotations and symbolism of the sword. The Saudi monarch's unfortunate choice of a gift prompted me to sit down and write the address I thought he should have delivered if his advisors had been familiar with Western culture and mentality. [more]
An Unprecedented Inter-religious Council: Putting Faith in Annapolis?
A two-state solution cannot be successful unless it is compatible with the history and religion of Israelis and Palestinians. The moral authority of the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land could be pivotal in convincing both peoples that the Road Map to Peace is acceptable.
"If this had been an easy conflict to resolve and to end, it would have been done years ago," said Secretary Rice in Ramallah on November 5. "There have been attempts that have not succeeded. And so the question that we have to ask ourselves is how do we prepare the ground for the very best possible chances of success?" [more]
Monday, November 26, 2007
On the brink of Annapolis: O ye of little faith
All bets are off on the Annapolis conference, except that it is clear that it will be neither a disastrous failure nor the inauguration of immediate peace in the Middle East. What it will be depends on what the US wants it to be and what it does to a large extent.
First the pundits insisted that the Annapolis conference would not take place, and then many of them were skeptical that the Arab countries would attend. As Adel Darwish noted, they were taken by surprise by the decision of Saudi Arabia and the Arab League to attend. Even more surprising was the decision of Syria to attend the conference.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Who's afraid of Annapolis?
From the opposition to the Annapolis conference we can learn two things. The first thing we can learn is that it has, despite all the pessimistic punditry, a good chance of succeeding. If the Hamas, the Iranians, the Yesha council and the ZOA did not think it could succeed, they would not be going to such great lengths to oppose it. [more]
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Kurdistan: the beloved country cannot even cry
I was not going to write about Kurdistan and the Kurds. That is because I am an Israeli and a Zionist. One way in which the cause of Kurdish self determination has been discredited in the Middle East is by claiming that it is all a plot by evil Zionists to dismember Arab states (since when are Turkey and Iran Arab states? -see here ), or a plot by America to "punish" Turkish independence. If the Americans do not bomb the PKK into oblivion, they are "meddling" in the affairs of the Middle East and not doing their proper duty it seems. [more]
Israel and Palestinians: The crucial issue
Friday, November 9, 2007
Who will be the turkey at the Annapolis Middle East Thanksgiving?
The Annapolis meeting is apparently going to happen. Despite widespread expectations of failure and despite disappointing stands by the US, Israelis and Palestinians (See Annapolis Middle East Meeting: Lay down the law and previous articles) , some analysts nonetheless hold out some glimmers of hope for success, according to their views of the conference. What does each side want and how do they view the conference? [more]
Sunday, November 4, 2007
Middle East Bullsh*t Bingo
That was my reaction to a recent address by Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni at the Saban Center. Here's the explanation. A not-so-new joke traveling around the Internet runs like this:
Do you know how to play corporate bullsh*t bingo? Next time you are at a business meeting, divide a piece of paper into 25 squares. Write a phrase chosen from among the following in each box:
strategic fit; core competencies; out of the box; bottom line; revisit; take that off-line; 24/7; out of the loop; benchmark; value-added; proactive; win-win; think outside the box; fast track; result-driven; empower (or empowerment); knowledge base; at the end of the day; touch base; mindset; client focus(ed); ballpark; game plan; leverage; lose electronic control; required deliverables; salami science; cutting edge; e-medicine (e-design, etc); face time; you don't have to be a rocket scientist.
Listen to the dialogue. Each time you hear one of the phrases, mark the appropriate box. When you have filled 25 squares, jump up and yell "Bingo!" Then look for a new job. [more]
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