VIDEO: Haiti’s Fuel Problem

WPR contributor Carmen Gentile reports from Port Salut, Haiti: To watch this and other WPR videos using our custom player, click here. Related article: “Facing Environmental Catastrophe, Haiti Seeks Alternative Fuels“ Related video: “The U.N. in Haiti“

Would Zahir Shah Have Been Better for Afghanistan?

In this week’s Corridors of Power, Roland Flamini reports that the former Afghan ambassador to the United States thinks the U.S. made a mistake in insisting on Hamid Karzai rather than the recently deceseased Zahir Shah as Afghanistan president: WASHINGTON BLOCKED AFGHAN KING — Did the Americans foist Hamid Karzai on the Afghan people even though Zahir Shah, the former king of Afghanistan who died this week at 92, would have been the far more popular choice? Yes, says Ishak Shariar, Afghanistan’s first ambassador to the United States following the 2001 defeat of the Taliban. At the December 2001 U.N.-sponsored […]

An Iranian Solidarity?

In this week’s Rights & Wrongs, WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff reports on another detention in Iran. This time it’s not an Iranian-American, but an Iranian labor leader: WORLD’S UNIONS RALLY FOR IRANIAN LABOR LEADER— Labor unions from around the world have joined forces with humanrights groups to protest the detention of Mansour Osanloo, head of theUnion of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, who was reportedly abducted as he stepped off a bus on July 10. Osanloohad previously been held in Tehran’s Evin for most of 2006 fororganizing a bus driver walkout in December 2005. The union had planneda […]

The German Hostage in Afghanistan

Unlike in the case of Iraq (see “Germany Pays for Terror“), in that of Afghanistan it is clearly plausible that Germans might become the object of politically motivated hostage-taking operations. Germany has over 3,000 troops in the north of Afghanistan. Nonetheless, according to the information thus far coming out of Afghanistan and Germany, it appears that the two German construction engineers who were seized in an ambush earlier this month in Wardak province were likely not the object of the operation. One of the two Germans, identified in German press reports as Rüdiger D., is known to have died. The […]

VIDEO: Afghanistan’s Police Force

Afghan police are dying at a record rate this year. As the Taliban target the force, the Afghan government is struggling to provide recruits with proper pay and equipment. WPR contributor Jason Motlagh reports from Afghanistan: To watch this and other WPR original video using our custom player, click here. Jason Motlagh’s articles from Afghanistan can be read here.

Alleged Terrorist Cell Broken Up in Italy

PERUGIA, Italy — A jihadist cell allegedly related to al-Qaida was broken up Saturday morning in the mosque of Ponte Felcino, a small town eight kilometers outside of Perugia, central Italy. Three Moroccans, including the local Imam, were arrested, accused of using the mosque as an international terrorism training camp. On Monday, the Imam of another mosque, in the nearby town of Pierantonio, was put under investigation. In the house of the first Imam, police found 60 “highly toxic” chemical substances that could be used for bomb-making, some of which appeared to have been stolen from the laboratories of Perugia’s […]

Editor’s Note: In March, Kurt Pelda, Africa Bureau Chief of the Swiss daily the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, traveled to eastern Chad on the border with the Sudanese crisis region of Darfur. Over 200,000 Sudanese refugees live in eastern Chad, having fled the violence in Darfur. The region likewise serves as staging grounds for the Darfur rebels fighting against the Sudanese government. During his three weeks traveling in the region, Pelda kept a diary, which provides a portrait of the Darfur conflict that is perhaps unrivaled in its detail and nuance. In daily installments through the beginning of August, World Politics […]

Mideast Peace: The Art of Statecraft

Former U.S. Middle East Envoy Dennis Ross’ new book is called “Statecraft: And How to Restore America’s Standing in the World.” I haven’t read the book, but in part at least it seems to be meant as a critique of the Bush administration’s practice of the rarefied art of statecraft — a critique that in general I can get behind. When Ross talks about the book, he seems mostly to talk about statecraft as diplomacy (I can’t say whether the book’s focus is as narrow). But the tools of statecraft include not only diplomacy, but all the instruments of state […]

Waiting for Blé Goudé

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast — With the spirit of peace seemingly breaking out in this country, I thought it would be instructive to speak with Charles Blé Goudé, leader of the pro-government Young Patriots militia. Best known for rousing his charges against the United Nations, France, journalists and the political opposition, whom they have attacked, he is redefining his image after the signing of the Ouagadougou peace agreement. After deriding the rebel New Forces as French puppets, Blé Goudé recently visited Bouake, their stronghold, in what he probably believed was a goodwill gesture. He should not have been too difficult for […]

Jogging Sarkozy Scandalizes French Intelligentsia

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been no stranger to controversy since his campaign and subsequent election to office this past May. But Americans especially may be perplexed at the latest fodder for presidential controversy in the French media: Sarkozy’s exercise regime. Libération, the left-leaning newspaper founded by Jean-Paul Sartre, wonders (in French) if Sarkozy’s frequent workouts are part of a “right-wing conspiracy,” and many message board posters on the paper’s Web site agree. The Washington Post reported that Alain Finkielkraut, a French intellectual, recently claimed on the primary state TV channel, France 2, that “strolling” is the proper activity of […]

VIDEO: The U.N. in Haiti

The U.N. peacekeeping mission to Haiti, which began in June 2004, is up for renewal in October of this year. Haitians are nervous about what will happen if the troops leave, reports WPR contributor Carmen Gentile. Watch the video below (flash must be enabled): To browse all WPR videos using our custom player, click here. Related article: “Haiti: Port-au-Prince Slums Experiencing Relative Calm, for Now“

Commentary Week In Review

The Commentary Week in Review is posted on the blog every Friday. Drawing from more than two dozen English-language news outlets worldwide, the column highlights a handful of the week’s notable op-eds. Dawn of the Migration Age U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon argued in the July 10 Guardian that “we should welcome” a new era of mobility, which has the potential to bring millions out of poverty worldwide. Noting that, at the opening of the 21st Century, it has become “commonplace to say that we live in a globalised world,” the secretary general wrote: Less well understood is that globalisation […]

The Energy Situation in the Western Hemisphere

Sidney Weintraub, an economist and Latin America specialist with the Center for Strategic and International Studies concludes in a new article in Foreign Affairs en Espanol that lack of cooperation on energy comes at a very high cost for Western Hemisphere countries. This cost is felt most acutely in South America, were the integration of energy markets and other cooperation between countries to make the most efficient use of the region’s resources is even greater than in North America. Weintraub writes: Several U.S. presidents have proclaimed the goal of energy independence, but refuse to mandate high fuel efficiency standards. President […]

Ghanaian Currency Redenomination Engenders Relief, Confusion

ACCRA, Ghana — The planned obsolescence of sub-Saharan Africa’s worst currency, the Ghanaian cedi, has fortunately begun. It received a much-need facelift this month — all bills were redenominated — that is hard to dislike. Receding into memory, albeit slowly, are limited-value bills that peaked at 10,000 ($1.11 approximately) and 20,000 ($2.22), transforming basic transactions into careful counting exercises.A month’s rent valued at $550 became 4,950,000 cedi; now consider the size of that pile when the landlord, as they are wont to do here, demands six months (29,700,000) to a year (59,400,000) upfront. A reliable used car such as an […]

Police Corruption in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE, Tajikistan — The main avenue through Dushanbe is lined every 50-100 meters with pairs of cops in huge goofy hats. All day long, every day of the week, they use their batons to stop random drivers for no apparent traffic infraction and, after some fawned inspection of papers, solicit bribes. The process is constant, accepted, and appears to keep hundreds of useless policemen in their jobs. The police appear to take turns, with the partner either turning his back on the indiscretion or scoping his next target. The other day I was witness to just how choreographed the bribing […]

Violent Outbursts In Argentina

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — Six years since the economy came slamming down here, common-man anger seems ready as ever to erupt into violence, be it a storm of fisticuffs that consumes an entire stadium of soccer fans or street brawl among teenage boys. I’d read a good deal in the Argentine media recently about problems facing this city’s young people, especially in relation to the expanded presence of hard drugs in economically depressed areas away from downtown. But on arrival to the elegant grid of European-style buildings that defines the city’s massive downtown, the thought of roving gangs of fight-thirsty […]

Photo Feature: On Patrol in Afghanistan

Today, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force boasts 32,000 men and women from more than two dozen contributing nations, spread out over Afghanistan’s 34 provinces. Some partners (Germany, France) restrict their troops to relatively calm areas in the north where they focus on reconstruction projects. Others (the United States, Britain, Canada, Holland) operate in the southern and eastern provinces, which remain hotbeds of the Taliban insurgency. Below are snapshots of two separate coalition forces at work on the ground in their respective theaters of the conflict. Each national force has a style all their own. For example, the British use […]

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