– Chinese President Hu Jintao kicked off a state visit to Malaysia, pledging to deepen strategic cooperation between the two countries. Hu is the first Chinese head of state to visit the country in 15 years. – China’s Health Ministry will step up regulation and licensing of medical practitioners, after a high-profile case of medical malpractice involving unlicensed medical students. – As part of its independent “space program,” Iran has announced plans to launch a second research satellite in 2011. – Macau, the Las Vegas of Asia, is running out of potable water. The city has 10 days of drinking […]
Middle East & North Africa Archive
WSJ’s Jerry Seib takes a deeper look into what Iran’s indecisivenessregarding a nuclear deal says about the cohesiveness, or lack thereof,of the Iranian government. Seib believes the waffling to be indicativeof conflicting thoughts in Tehran, specifically reformers, youth andintellectuals pitted against traditionalists and older clerics. He saysAhmadinejad would like to do a deal with the West to gain the supportof intellectuals and Iran’s influential youth, but is facing resistancefrom those who want nothing to do with the West.
“This government is a relfection of the current Lebanon,” said Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri after almost five months of negotiations with his opposition in order to create a national unified government. Some Lebanese citizens hope that the unity government will promote security and stability in the region while others are concerned about the concessions made in order to create the union. Al-Jazeera’s Rula Amin reports from Beirut.
Migrant workers in Bahrain continue to suffer widespread abuse at the hands of employment sponsors, despite laws against such practices. Rights advocates are calling on the government to do more to prevent the abuses, and to help migrant workers access services when they do occur. “Withholding wages and confiscating passports appears to be rampant, but the authorities do nothing to stop it. There is no system to make sure these vulnerable migrant workers can actually recover both their passports and wages, let alone to punish the abusive employers,” Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director for Human Rights […]
The big winner from yesterday’s frosty meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu? Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. With the Palestinian peace track once again derailed, that leaves Syria as the only credible peace player in town. That’s the guiding logic behind a diplomatic fact-finding report just delivered to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, anyway. The advantage of an Israel-Syria deal preceding the Palestinian track being that Hamas would almost certainly be forced to adapt to the changed landscape in ways that would favor intra-Palestinian reconciliation and facilitate a subsequent Israeli-Palestinian deal. It’s in that context that […]
Le Figaro reports that China is now the number one foreign operator in the Iraqi oil sector. I’m struck by the way in which markets we open, whether by war (Iraqi oil, Afghan copper) or diplomacy (Indian and UAE nuclear energy), are exploited by our friendly competitors (China and France, respectively). That explains why no real American empire is possible so long as we remain committed to the liberal market. It also shows how even an ideologically driven interventionism can be compromised by the adherence to the liberal global trade order. If democracy promotion in Iraq results in a net […]
– Thought Chechnya was “pacified”? Think again. Violence has spiked since Russia officially ended its 10-year counterterror mission there in April. (The implications for Iraq seem ominous.) – It’s been a violent week for Chechnya’s North Caucasus neighbors, too, with attacks reported in Ingushetia, Dagestan and North Ossetia. – Japan continues its checkbook diplomacy, pledging $5.55 billion to the Mekong states: Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and, yes, Burma. Among the reasons for the aid given by Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama are China’s growing influence and America’s greater interest in the region. Interesting . . . Chinese influence, American interest. […]
Many Iraqi cities have been enclosed in blast walls, making citizensfeel like prisoners and reminding the international community thatviolence in Iraq is still a reality. Though many Iraqis find the wallsconfining and inconvenient, recent violence has shown that it may betoo early to tear them down. Al-Jazeera’s Omar Al-Saleh reports fromSamara.
Saudi Arabia’s possible purchase of at least $2 billion of Russian military equipment has the potential to be the most significant Russian arms deal in the Middle East since the Soviet Union transferred SA-2s to Nasser’s Egypt. By all indications, it seems that the two countries have reached an agreement for the arms transfer, after a two-year negotiation period. The deal may be part of a larger process that leads to a significant realignment in the external relations of both parties. The arms transfer agreement, which covers a broad spectrum of weapons, is guided by the agreement on cooperation in […]
An Italian judge has convicted 23 Central Intelligence Agency officers of participating in the kidnapping and rendition of an Egyptian cleric in Milan in 2003. The trial marked the first time the controversial anti-terrorism tool, known as extraordinary rendition, was challenged anywhere in the world. “The message of this important ruling — to nations, governments, institutions, secret services, etc. — is that we cannot use illegal instruments in our effort against terrorism. Our democracies, otherwise, would betray their principles,” the lead prosecutor, Armando Spataro, told the Los Angeles Times. All of the Americans were tried in absentia, and it is […]
This is a new feature we’re going to experiment with here on the blog, with the help of our intrepid editorial assistant, Kari Lipschutz. The idea is to catch significant news in the foreign English-language media, before it shows up in Western outlets. So, yes, it amounts to yet another news roundup. But we’re going to try to justify it by delivering not so much breaking news as developing news. In the context of Chaos Theory and the Butterfly Effect, we’re trying to catch the butterfly before it becomes a monsoon. So with that in mind, here goes: – Is […]
As we near the final year of the decade that brought us 9/11, it’s worth recalling one lesson our experience on that date has etched with painful clarity: Failed states can become breeding grounds for violent extremists — with devastating consequences far beyond their borders. Before 9/11, no one could have predicted that attacks concocted in remote, impoverished Afghanistan might have such a cataclysmic impact on history. Now we know that we ignore such states at our own risk. That’s why remote and impoverished Yemen, a country undergoing what by all appearances is a slow-motion collapse, is likely to draw […]
Another lawfare development to keep your eye on, this one in South Africa. Apparently the investigations that went into the Goldstone Report also turned up evidence of South African nationals fighting in Gaza on behalf of the IDF. It’s not clear from the article in what capacity they were fighting, that is, whether they were contractors, mercenaries or Jewish South Africans who enlisted in the IDF out of solidarity. In any event, a group of South African lawyers is trying to build the case for a war crimes investigation. We’ve already seen some of the legal difficulties that have arisen […]
Over at Kings of War, Paula Broadwell has a review and discussion of Mark Moyar’s book on leadership in counterinsurgency, “A Question of Command.” According to Broadwell’s reading (I haven’t read the book itself), Moyar presents an alternative to the dominant population-centric approach to COIN, whereby the civilian population represents the center of gravity to be won over through improved security and better governance. Instead, Moyar argues, the determinant factor in counterinsurgency is the leadership elites on both sides, leading him to examine what qualities should then be selected for in COIN leadership. The qualities he arrives at seem pretty […]
There are probably still a few more twists and turns ahead, but for now it seems as if Iran has backed out of the draft agreement to ship its enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment and processing into fuel rods. I mentioned last week that the Iranian political consensus that saw no real satisfactory options in the negotiations mirrored the view from Western capitals, and presented the makings of a mutually sub-optimal deal. But this, from the NY Times, seems to suggest that the Iranian government’s domestic room for maneuver might be even more limited than that of the Western […]