WELL-VERSED DIPLOMATS — What would Talleyrand make of next week’s European Union poetry marathon in Washington? The accommodating 19th century French diplomat, who managed to serve in succession the French revolutionary government, Napoleon, and the restored monarchy without missing a beat, advised “Pas trop de zele” (not too much zeal, or don’t go overboard) in his profession. But on May 5, diplomats from the EU’s 27 member states will spout 136 poems from their respective countries, together with translations, over five hours — and that involves a lot of zeal.For those who miss the marathon, the poems will also be […]

China isn’t comfortable. The country’s spectacular growth over the last two decades has made it ever more thirsty for energy, but policymakers are not sure they can secure their energy supply into the future. Rather than gain confidence as the United States has stumbled in the Middle East, many Chinese take U.S. problems in the region as a sign of Chinese vulnerability as well. Some in the United States feared China would soon stand out as a rival to U.S. influence, but in recent months, the Chinese government has shown an interest in being helpful. That cooperation needs to be […]

In the past couple of months, news about Turkey has been littered with reports about the spasms of violence between Turkish troops and militants of the terrorist Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK) in the rugged, mountainous eastern part of the country. After a decade of cease-fire, old hatreds have resurfaced with a vengeance, costing the lives of more than 250 soldiers in the past year, and 10 soldiers and 29 Kurdish guerillas this month alone. Mothers and wives kneeling and wailing over their sehit (martyr) sons draped in the Turkish flag have become regular images on Turkish television screens and in […]

Sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites continues to dominate headlines, but the latest threat to stability in Iraq — and perhaps the whole region — appears to be mounting tension between the Turkish government and Iraq’s Kurds, both of whom are now reported to be massing troops on the Iraq-Turkey border. While regional experts say the breakout of violence along the border likely is not imminent, recent developments indicate the United States is taking the threat seriously, as the consequences of a conflagration could be dire for the fragile Iraqi occupation. Turkey insists its grievance is with the Kurdistan Workers’ […]

While the war between Israel and Hezbollah raged in Lebanon and Israel last summer, it became clear that media coverage had itself started to play an important role in determining the ultimate outcome of that war. It seemed clear that news coverage would affect the course of the conflict. And it quickly transpired that Hezbollah would become the beneficiary of the media’s manipulation. A close examination of the media’s role during the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon comes now from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, in an analysis of the war published in a paper whose subtitle should give […]

WASHINGTON — The claim of responsibility by a local organization with ties to al-Qaida for the recent blasts that rocked Algeria unleashed a wave of Western analysis about the extent to which Osama bin Laden’s global terrorist network is being bolstered or replaced by regional groups whose activities where not previously global in scale. Michael Scheuer, former chief of the CIA’s “bin Laden unit,” contends that while the years since Sept. 11, 2001, have inspired dozens of regional groups to align with al-Qaida’s global movement, there is simply “no evidence” the bin Laden-run mother ship is “any less capable” than […]

IRBIL, Iraq — A guard armed with a machine gun stands at the gate of the compound, which shares a high concrete wall with a prison at the rear. But inside the University of Kurdistan, the only English-language university in Kurdish-controlled Iraq, free minds are at work.Gates open to a freshly laid lawn area. Off to the right, a four-story steel-and-glass facility comes equipped with lockers, air-conditioned computer labs and prayer rooms. Faculty members and students say their college is a break from the Saddam Hussein era, when the curriculum was controlled from Baghdad. “Freedom of expression is the mark […]

ALGIERS, Algeria — They are forgettable doors, windowless and pale, unfit for a city with as grand a constitution as Algiers, battered though it is. Sometimes a peephole is centered in the middle like a cyclops, maybe harboring a burly man winking behind it, but the doors are otherwise faceless, as intended. They are dotted all over the city, faithfully guarding secrets, and Nadir used to constantly point them out to me when we were out walking. “See that door?” he’d say, and my eyes would scan for a door. “That’s a bar. During the terrorism the extremists liked to […]

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Editor’s Note: Corridor’s of Power is written by veteran foreign correspondent Roland Flamini and appears in World Politics Review every Sunday. Click here to browse past installments of the column. THEY CAN RIOT, BUT THEY CAN’T VOTE — France’s growing population of Islamic immigrants is now reckoned by some to make up almost 10 percent of the population, but the candidates in the coming presidential elections don’t have to worry about the Islamic vote because there really isn’t one — yet. Though there may be as many as six million Muslims in France, almost half are not French citizens, and […]

People must have been starting to wonder about the Alliance of Civilizations and its promises to prescribe a remedy that would allow the Western and Islamic worlds to resolve all their differences through dialogue, mutual tolerance and understanding. Or maybe Spanish Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, who launched the initiative three years ago, was just tired of taking flak for a project so abject and useless that not even the U.N. would go near it. Finally, though, it seems the “high-level group of eminent persons” — that’s the job title — have got their act together. The act in […]

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from a paper that first appeared in Arab Media and Society, an online journal published by the American University in Cairo’s Center for Electronic Journalism. Arab political blogging is changing and becoming more politically relevant. Arab blogs remain a very small, if rapidly growing, phenomenon — there are perhaps a few thousand political blogs across the region. Still, Internet use and blogging are growing fast, and Internet access seems nearly universal among politically mobilized youth in certain Arab countries. Even if expectations that a few courageous blogs could shatter the wall of fear sustaining […]

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Editor’s Note: Corridor’s of Power is written by veteran foreign correspondent RolandFlamini and appears in World Politics Review every Sunday. Click here tobrowse past installments of the column. TONY’S BOY SAVES DAY — The fact that Prime Minister Tony Blair’s foreign policy adviser, Sir Nigel Sheinwald, emerged as the key figure in resolving the standoff with Iran over the 15 captured British sailors and Marines sends the message that it was Downing Street and not the Foreign Office that succeeded in resolving the crisis. The British government has kept mum about how its diplomatic offensive developed but, according to British […]

IRBIL, Iraq — Tens of thousands of Iraqi Arabs have fled central Iraq for the relative peace of the Kurdish north, creating fresh tensions that are liable to be exacerbated by a plan to relocate Arabs from the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. On Monday, a suicide bomber detonated a truck full of explosives in downtown Kirkuk, killing 13 people and wounding at least 90 others, according to Iraqi police. The attack appeared to be in response to the relocation plan, and observers say this may be a sign of worse to come. About 1.9 million people have sought refuge inside […]