Kurdish Oil Flows North

Seemingly lost in the news cycle is the fact that the Kurds just started unilaterally pumping “their” oil through a pipeline headed north to Turkey. The oil comes from a field jointly developed by a Canadian and Turkish consortium. This is one of those outcomes that would have seemed incredulous even last year. But there has been an increasingly visible sea change in Turkey’s relationship to Iraqi Kurdistan. Hannes Artens discussed it in his WPR briefing a few weeks back. But it now seems that Ankara has warmer relations with Iraq’s Kurds than with its own. What exactly that means […]

Sarkozy’s Pre-Obama Iran Outreach

I’ve mentioned before that of the European partners, France might be the most resistant to the Obama administration’s policy of engagement with Iran. The concern, as far as I can tell, is in part ideological, because I really do believe that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is sincerely convinced of the need to keep Iran from even approaching a nuclear weapons capacity. But more than anything, the concern is one of harmonization. The French have been spearheading the European effort to hold the line since the December 2007 NIE, and if the U.S. entrance into the negotiations were somehow parallel to […]

Following years of frustrating carrot-and-stick diplomacy, the debate over how to solve the issue of Iran’s nuclear program is nearing its end. Neither coercive diplomacy, whether direct or indirect, nor deterrent threats of military attack are likely to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. To the contrary, a world in which Iran is a nuclear power is becoming a growing likelihood, one that by pessimistic forecasts may be upon us by 2012-2013. President Barack Obama’s efforts to engage Iran’s leadership suggest optimism about the possibility of altering Tehran’s behavior peacefully before it crosses the nuclear threshhold. As noted in […]

The Israeli-Palestinian Fallacy, Redux

Pondering the question of why the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues even though there “is a near-universal consensus on the nature of the political solution,” Judah suggested yesterday that it’s because “the Israelis don’t realize that they have lost, and the Palestinians don’t realize that they have won.” That reasoning implies that the two-state solution would be regarded by Israel as a defeat and by the Palestinians as a victory. But if thinking in these categories is at all useful here, it is the other way round: It is not the Israelis, but the Palestinians who regard the two-state solution as a […]

The Israeli-Palestinian Fallacy

A few weeks ago, I did a France 24 program discussing the meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And at one point, the discussion turned into an argument between a former Fatah negotiator and a representative of the Likud party over which branch of Jerusalem city hall was responsible for granting construction permits in East Jerusalem. Ever since, I’ve been finding myself thinking of that exchange as an illustration of how detached from the broad lines of the conflict most Israelis and Palestinians are, but also as an illustration of how detached from the […]

Last week’s Economist carried a feature on a recent wave of farmland purchases in poorer parts of the world. The buyers? Cash-rich emerging markets and Arab oil states looking to insure themselves against future food shortages. And if you think that’s just a reaction to last year’s stunning spike in prices, think again. The new trend speaks to the impact global warming will have on where food will be produced in abundance in coming decades. In terms of global grain production, which is what this investment frenzy is all about, the world is decidedly unflat. In fact, four major regions […]

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