Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported once again that Iran had defied U.N. Security Council demands to stop enriching uranium. And in response, the United States once again demanded that international sanctions against Iran be made more severe. This call for sanctions — which has become routine by now — would be a lot more credible if it were not for a one embarrassing fact: The United States now lags many other countries in enforcing sanctions that the U.N. Security Council has already approved. One of the few real penalties to survive previous rounds of council negotiation over […]

Suspended between an uncertain Muslim world and a democratic Europe, a battle is brewing between Islamists and secularists in Turkey. Under a sea of red-and-white Turkish flags, tens of thousands of Turks took to the streets in the Black Sea coastal town of Samsun in late May in a series of rallies against the pro-Islamic government led by AKP, which they fear is conspiring to force its religious values on society. “No to Sharia,” “Turkey is secular and will remain secular,” the protesters, predominantly women and youth, recited in a growing chorus of demonstrations. This latest display of secular strength […]

Editor’s note: Corridors of Power is written by World Politics Review Editor-at-Large Roland Flamini and appears every Monday. This week’s edition appears Tuesday due to Monday’s Memorial Day holiday in the United States. A GHOST AT THE COMMITTEE — Randall Tobias will not be present when the U.S. Congress takes up foreign aid appropriations after Memorial Day, but he will certainly be there in spirit. Tobias resigned as head of USAID, the U.S. Agency for International Development, following that rather bizarre Washington madam scandal, in which he was the only publicly identified alleged high-profile client. But it is largely the […]

On May 9, Her Majesty Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands officially unveiled a Memorial in The Hague for all those who have perished from chemical weapons. The International Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Weapons falls annually on April 29. This year’s date was also the 10th anniversary of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC). Governments and security experts used the occasion to laud the CWC as well as suggest ways to improve it. The CWC bans the development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, transfer, and use of chemical weapons (CW). Its provisions are of indefinite duration and apply to all […]

PARIS — Last Tuesday night, on the eve of handing over power to his successor Nicolas Sarkozy, Jacques Chirac bid an emotional “farewell” to the French people in a televised address. “I want to tell you how strong the bond is that from the bottom of my heart ties me to each and every one of you,” Chirac said, “This bond is that of affection, that of respect, that of admiration for the French people.” It is clear that by the end of his second term in office these warm feelings were not much reciprocated by Chirac’s compatriots. Over the […]

WASHINGTON — Reparing and strengthening commercial ties between the U.S. and European defense industries requires more U.S. action and less talk, says Thomas Enders, chief executive of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., Europe’s largest defense contractor. “Concrete steps,” rather than mere talk, should be the order of the day, Enders last week told a Washington audience that included many U.S. government officials and European diplomats. High on the action agenda, Enders said, should be reform of International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), a set of U.S. government regulations that controls the import and export of defense-related articles and […]

Editor’s note: Corridors of Power is written by veteran foreign correspondent and WPR editor-at-large Roland Flamini, and appears every Monday. AFTER WOLFOWITZ — A senior World Bank staffer says that while the squalor of Paul Wolfowitz’s arrangements on behalf of his innamorata got all the publicity, it wasn’t the main grievance inside the agency. “The bank is not Sodom and Gomorrah, but it’s not monastic either,” the source said, “and it has its share of romantic relationships.” What riled the staff more was (1) Wolfowitz’s reliance on a team of close political advisers whom he brought in from the Bush […]

BERLIN — During the past few months, leading members of the major political parties comprising the German coalition government have expressed widely divergent views on the key foreign policy issues facing Germany. Senior representatives from the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) have made conflicting statements on the ballistic missile defense (BMD) issue, how to curb Iran’s nuclear program, Germany’s role in the war in Afghanistan, and other topics. At some point, these foreign-policy divergences, combined with differences over other policy areas, could lead to the coalition’s collapse before its scheduled dissolution at […]

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Editor’s Note: Corridors of Power is written by WPR Editor-at-large Roland Flamini and appears every Monday in World Politics Review. MUSHARRAF GOING? — (See last week’s Corridors for a related item.) While some knowledgeable expatriate Afghans believe President Hamid Karzai may be on the way out, there are now indications that the thinking in Kabul and New Delhi is that it should be Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf who goes. Some Washington sources are wondering whether the continued violent demonstrations against the recent dismissal of the Pakistani chief justice should be seen in this context. Karzai’s government has developed close ties […]

Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s newly elected president, takes office on May 16. Not for the French a two-month transition following elections, as in the United States. He will then announce a prime minister and a government that could remain in office for less than a month — if French voters decide to balance a conservative presidency by voting for the Socialist Party in the upcoming parliamentary elections in June. However, the prevailing view in Paris is that Ségolène Royal’s defeat in the presidential run-off has left the socialists bruised and weakened. Sarkozy’s party, the Union for a Popular Movement, therefore, stands […]

PARIS — “If I could get my hands on Sarkozy, I’d kill him.” Thus begins author David Rieff’s article in the New York Times Magazine last month on Nicolas Sarkozy’s relation to the French “banlieues.” Needless to say, it is not David Rieff himself, a fellow of the World Policy Institute in New York, who is proffering the threat. Rather he is quoting one “Mamadou”, a young resident of the Les Bousquets housing project outside Paris. Evidently having succeeded in making an impression on the American visitor, Mamadou continued, “Then I’d go to prison. And when I got out, I’d […]

GLASGOW, Scotland — In what some here are calling a throwback to the electoral bedlam that surrounded U.S. President George W. Bush’s controversial win over Al Gore in 2000, Scotland’s recent election proved chaotic, with a divisive outcome that could threaten the future of the whole United Kingdom. As the dust settles around the May 4 vote for a new Scottish Parliament, the Scottish National Party (SNP), which attracted worldwide attention in the months leading up to the election by running on a call for Scotland to secede from the United Kingdom, has emerged victorious. Public wrangling over the fate […]

KARZAI GOING? — Are Hamid Karzai’s days numbered as Afghanistan’s president? Knowledgeable Afghan expatriates predict Karzai will probably not last out the year. Initially named interim president at Washington’s insistence in 2001, he ran for the office virtually unopposed in Oct 2004 and was elected for a five-year term. But the Bush administration is losing confidence in his ability to take the necessary steps to halt Afghanistan’s slide back into chaos. Even if NATO forces are successful in containing the Taliban threat this summer, it’s still up to Karzai’s government to regain public confidence by cleaning up corruption, reforming the […]

BERLIN — On the eve of the U.N.-recognized World Press Freedom Day, several African journalists visiting here for an industry conference reflected on the state of media freedom in their home countries. They painted a picture of a continent where, despite some positive strides, media oppression has yet to be overcome by government respect — and public demand — for the basic rights to know and inform. The tiny Horn of Africa country of Eritrea is among the world’s top oppressors of the free press, according to the latest press freedom rankings from Reporters Without Borders (RWB). Even South Africa, […]

It was a strange scene. Over 3000 followers of the radical Wahhabi current of Islam had come to the northeast Bosnian town of Tuzla to bury their leader Jusuf Barcic, who had recently died in a traffic accident. The coffin in front of the mosque was draped in a green cloth. Men with long beards chanted “Allahu Akbar”: “God is great.” As press photographers tried to photograph the scene, they were first cursed and then beaten. The police did nothing. “We did not expect there to be so many people,” an officer told the newspaper Oslobodjenje. Religious fundamentalism is on […]