RUBAVU COUNTY, Rwanda — Like most of those seeking refuge at the Nkamira Transit Center, Queen Maombi has a harrowing tale of escape from her native Democratic Republic of Congo. Maombi, 34, is one of nearly 9,000 Congolese that have overwhelmed this temporary camp since April, when a fresh wave of violence hit eastern Congo’s long restive North Kivu province. Like Maombi, nearly all of the new arrivals are Congolese by birth but ethnically Rwandan — a distinction that effectively branded them enemies of the state following a mutiny against the Congolese army by soldiers loyal to Gen. Bosco Ntaganda, […]

Envoy Annan ‘Horrified’ by Syria Massacre

UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, arriving in Damascus Monday, said he was “horrified” by a weekend massacre in Houla in which more than 100 were killed. He called on Syrians with weapons to lay down their arms. World News Videos by NewsLook

This week, the news broke that Ryan Crocker, arguably the finest U.S. diplomat of his generation, was resigning from his post as the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan. Crocker, who came out of retirement to serve as ambassador in Kabul, will be stepping down this summer, a year earlier than scheduled. The news is a blow to U.S. efforts to surround the military strategy in Afghanistan with a diplomatic framework to stabilize the country. As such, it is the latest setback in a war that has been a humbling experience for both the United States and its Western allies. The most […]

Editor’s note: This is the second in a two-part series examining the challenges to reaching a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Part I examined the domestic challenges to national reconciliation. Part II examines the regional context of the Afghan peace process. When NATO leaders gathered in Chicago earlier this week for a much-awaited summit, the withdrawal strategy for Afghanistan dominated the proceedings. A twist in the plot had developed in the lead-up to the gathering when NATO extended a last-minute invitation to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari. The logic was straightforward: The occasion would be used not only to reach an […]

The abduction of 11 Lebanese Shiites in Syria on Tuesday is the latest in a series of incidents that have threatened to ignite sectarian tensions in Lebanon, leading many observers to worry that the conflict in neighboring Syria might spill over across the border. The kidnapping, which took place in northern Syria as the men returned from a religious pilgrimage, follows outbreaks of sectarian and factional violence in Tripoli and Beirut. Two experts told Trend Lines that in order to understand the impact the incidents might have in Lebanon, one must understand the complex political and sectarian ties between the […]

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part series examining the challenges to reaching a sustainable peace in Afghanistan. Part I examines the domestic challenges to national reconciliation. Part II will examine the regional context of the Afghan peace process. On May 13, Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official who served on Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, was assassinated in Kabul. While the official Taliban spokesman denied the group’s involvement in the killing, a little-known splinter group aligned with al-Qaida, the Mullah Dadullah Front, claimed responsibility. Rahmani is the second major figure of the council to be killed, following […]

Photo: U.S. President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 1, 2012 (official White House photo by Pete Souza).

The U.S.-Afghan strategic partnership agreement that President Barack Obama recently signed in Kabul with Afghan President Hamid Karzai is especially noteworthy for the lessons it successfully draws from similar agreements with Iraq and other countries, as well as for the pitfalls it avoids repeating. For the past 90 years, negotiations toward such security agreements have repeatedly proved unsuccessful, divisive and downright destabilizing. Britain’s attempt to reach a similar treaty with Iraq in the 1920s contributed to years of tumult and instability in that country. In Iran in the 1960s, the Shah’s security agreement with the U.S. prompted an intense backlash […]

This week’s NATO Summit in Chicago, attended by the heads of state and government of alliance member states as well as senior representatives of various NATO partner countries and organizations, was less ambitious than some recent summits. With regard to the alliance itself, the summit announced no new members, or even a timetable for the four aspirant countries, and raised no funds for collective missions, as in Afghanistan. That said, the summit did perform the important function of reaffirming that despite their economic problems, member countries have been fulfilling all the vague commitments they made at the November 2010 Lisbon […]

As a regional body, the Arab League has more often than not been the focus of ridicule in light of the torpor and ineffectiveness that has characterized its history. Since the league’s founding in 1945 by Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Transjordan, the Arab world has suffered myriad political disputes and armed conflicts, including colonial, interstate and civil wars. In addition to its failure to encourage economic, political and security cooperation, the Arab League has certainly underperformed in its mission to curb the use of force or mediate these disputes. In many ways, this is a reflection of […]

“The [Organization of American States] is an enemy of the U.S. and an enemy to the interests of freedom and security,” said Rep. David Rivera, a Republican congressman from Florida, in July 2011 as he joined the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s GOP majority in voting to cut off U.S. funding for the OAS. Rivera’s low regard for the organization was matched by Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who in urging the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean to form a new regional bloc excluding the United States said, “You can’t expect much from the OAS. It’s like a corpse that […]

Ten years ago in Durban, South Africa, the African Union (AU) was formed to spearhead security, stability and prosperity in Africa. The AU built on the foundations of its predecessor, the Organization of African Unity (OAU), which had provided the framework for African cooperation since the early 1960s. Equally significant, the AU has co-existed with multiple subregional organizations, called Regional Economic Communities (RECs), such as the East African Community (EAC), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the […]

With NATO leaders meeting in Chicago for the alliance’s biannual summit of heads of state and government, attention will be focused on the gathering’s high-profile agenda items. In some ways, it’s a lineup of the usual suspects, with the summit’s declaration likely to resemble a collection of increasingly implausible platitudes worthy of a Mad Libs satire: Whether regarding Afghanistan, the alliance’s European-based missile defense system or the move toward “Smart Defense” to maintain military capabilities in the face of budgetary constraints, few observers will be convinced by the declarations of progress, confidence and resolve, respectively. As is customary for a […]

A series of recent crises in West Africa have put the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in the spotlight, demonstrating the organization’s potential to shape West African politics, but also the limitations on its ability to do so. In Mali, one domino after another has fallen since a Tuareg-led rebellion began in the north of the country on Jan. 17. Junior military officers seized power in the capital, Bamako, on March 22. Tuareg rebels seized control of three major cities in northern Mali and declared independence for the territory they call the “Azawad” on April 6. In nearby […]

Sudan’s Bashir: No Oil Exports Without Security

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir says Sudan will not allow South Sudan to export any oil through its territory unless the two states settle all disputes over border security. World News Videos by NewsLook

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