DILI, East Timor — All is calm in East Timor, but tension bubbles under the surface in this island state a few days before the historic, first post-independence parliamentary election, slated for June 30.Fourteen parties and coalitions arevying for seats in an election whose only certainoutcome is the creation of a meaningful political opposition, and thus potentially a more functional democracy than this former Portuguesecolony has ever known. However, only the next few months will prove whether that will translate into the stability and peace needed for real development, or into more trouble. The real political battle is between former […]

The world has dithered in putting together the necessary political response to the humanitarian catastrophe that has ensued in Darfur since 2003. The latest “breakthrough,” with the Sudanese government consenting to a hybrid U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, comes after years of stalling by Khartoum, and half-hearted efforts by the international community. In any case, the 20,000 troops will not get on the ground before 2008, and the peace agreement that they are meant to be enforcing remains a dead letter. So not much is likely to change for the traumatized people of Darfur anytime soon, despite French President […]

article card

Before the G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, nonproliferation experts in the U.S. government lobbied the other member countries to endorse another so-called “10 + 10 over 10” plan that would have extended G-8-led multinational WMD threat reduction efforts after 2012. As in 2002, the United States would have pledged $10 billion, with the other seven G-8 governments contributing another $10 billion, during the decade after 2012. If adopted, the U.S. proposal would have extended the “Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction,” launched at the June 2002 G-8 summit in Kananaskis, Canada. At the summit, however, […]

A statue of Jesus Malverde at a shrine in Mexico City (David Agren).

MEXICO CITY — Alejandro Ruiz Rodriguez, a Mexico City law student, lost a stack of important legal documents last year. Despite searching everywhere imaginable, they never turned up. As a last resort, he asked Jesus Malverde, an unofficial saint beloved by narcotics traffickers, for intervention. Inexplicably, the documents surfaced shortly thereafter. “I don’t know if it was just by chance or if Jesus Malverde was responsible,” the 26-year-old said at a monthly gathering of Malverde adherents in Mexico City. “Either way, I’m here every month to give thanks . . . it was absolutely miraculous.” Like an increasing number of […]

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan — Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov has won a power struggle with officials of Turkmenistan’s government who played key roles in building and maintaining the oppressive regime of his predecessor, and who helped bring the new president to power. It remains unclear, however, whether Berdymukhammedov intends to use his consolidated power to continue down the dictatorial path of former leader Saparmurat Niyazov, or to institute promised reforms. The influential head of the presidential security service, Akmurad Rejepov, who served the late Niyazov loyally for nearly 20 years, was removed from office in mid-May. While Turkmenistan’s state television said Rejepov […]

GLASGOW, Scotland — Gordon Brown becomes Britain’s new Prime Minister today amid growing speculation over what kind of foreign policy can be expected from a seasoned politician who has rarely spoken out on foreign affairs in the past. Despite recent speeches on Britishness, national security and climate change, Browns views about the wider global policy agenda, and whether they will differ greatly from Tony Blair, are not yet clear. Central to Blair’s foreign policy was his close relationship with George W. Bush and his loyal backing for U.S.-led military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Given the situation he inherits in […]

SINGAPORE — Evidence is growing that threads of homespun Islamicextremism in seven countries of Southeast Asia are weaving links amongeach other. Malay Muslim insurgentsfighting an increasingly violent conflict in southern Thailand, forexample, now appear to be receiving assistance from Islamists elsewherein Southeast Asia.The thread appears to loosely wind through Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Singapore, Cambodia and even tightly controlled Burma. Mention of terrorism in this region and the international community automatically thinks of the Bali bombings, which killed 202 vacationers in October 2002. But the violence is far worse in southern Thailand, where barely a day has gone by […]

The Middle East, the land that gave the world the very concept of the Messiah, is about to receive a new one. So, why don’t we hear any Hossanas in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Rammallah over Tony Blair’s imminent anointing as the new Middle East envoy by the International Quartet for Middle East Peace? By now, after a decades-long parade of envoys, special representatives, shuttle diplomats, mediators, negotiators, intermediaries, and every variety of peace-making performers and reconciliation evangelists, the one creed that is spreading in the region, beyond the three major monotheistic religions, is the gospel of cynicism. That’s the […]

BRUSSELS — Europe’s most successful, charismatic and internationally recognized center-left leader steps down Wednesday, but there will be little mourning for British premier Tony Blair in London and most continental capitals. An opinion poll carried out for the Financial Times newspaper last week reveals just how divisive a figure Blair remains. Asked whether he would make a good first president of the European Union — a post created at a June 21-23 EU summit in Brussels — 64 percent of Germans, 60 percent of Britons and 53 percent of French respondents said nein/no/non. Few Europeans would deny that Blair oozes […]

Editor’s Note: To watch a video on the work of Zakia Zaki, click here. We were sitting in her office overlooking the rust-colored foothills of the Hindu Kush, Zakia Zaki speaking Persian slow enough for me to follow. A man brought in mugs of black tea and joined us. Zaki was the manager of the radio station I was visiting in Jabul Saraj, at the mouth to the mythic Panjshir valley, then half a day’s drive north of Kabul. The gentleman was her deputy. It was a first: I had never seen a man serve a woman tea in Afghanistan. […]

Editor’s Note: Corridor’s of Power, written by WPR Editor-at-Large Roland Flamini, appears every Monday in World Politics Review. RHINEMAIDEN’S SWANSONG — The grand finale of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s six months as president of the European Union (Portugal takes over next week) was not exactly a triumph, but it wasn’t Gotterdammerung either. To stick with Wagnerian metaphors, it was more The Flying Dutchman, in which the 27-nation European Union is destined to sail eternally from one compromise to another. Still, at last week’s EU summit Merkel — reportedly with an energetic assist from French President Nicolas Sarkozy — seems to […]

The revelation that the Office of Vice President Richard Cheney has refused to comply with an executive order requiring it to file an annual report on how it handles classified national security information has drawn attention to several complex issues in the area of government secrecy.Executive Order 12958 — first signed by President Bill Clinton in 1995 and reissued by President George W. Bush in 2003 — seeks to establish a uniform, government-wide system for safeguarding classified information. Under the order, classification can only be mandated by officials and individuals who can clearly justify their action. The Information Security Oversight […]

While much of the world watched in astonishment as gunmen from the rival Hamas and Fatah movements ripped through the streets of Gaza, terrifying civilians and tearing to shreds the myth of Palestinian unity, observers in Arab lands also found themselves mesmerized and horrified by what they saw. Among Arabs, the images packed a more visceral punch, leaving a sense of profound disillusionment.<<ad>>After all, the West had always viewed Palestinians, with their armed gangs and suicide bombers, with a mix of fear, skepticism, and — among some age groups and political persuasions — a certain amount of admiration. Among Arabs, […]

article card

Editor’s Note: Rights & Wrongs is a new weekly column on the world’s major human rights-related happenings. It is written by regular WPR contributor Juliette Terzieff. CHINESE LABOR PRACTICES — Revelations concerning widespread abuse of workers in brick kilns continue to shake China, where authorities have arrested dozens amid growing calls for the resignations of Communist Party officials linked to kiln owners and the adoption of new municipal and regional regulations to halt the practices. Shanxi’s provincial government Wednesday enacted new regulations banning the purchase of cheap clay bricks for all cities beginning at the end of next year, while […]

HERAT, Afghanistan — Thirteen-year-old Morvary’s face had melted away as a candle does, with only the faintest of breaths as proof she was still alive after setting herself ablaze. Mummified in white gauze and full of morphine to ease the pain of third-degree burns covering her entire body, she died two days later at Herat regional hospital, yet another victim in this conservative Western province where nearly 100 self-immolation cases were recorded last year. Human rights officials and doctors say the real number is much higher since only those who seek help are registered and even then causes are not […]

COLCHESTER, England — It’s not just Hamas rockets that regularly strike Israeli interests these days. It is just as likely to be the long-range politicized “ordnance” of British elites, given the British Left’s predilection for pursuing and securing boycotts against Israel and its interests. Over the past two years, the unions for British journalists, architects, doctors, and even the Synod of the Church of England, have all sought boycott or censure motions against Israel. And now British academics have added themselves to the list — imposing a boycott of relations between British and Israeli universities at a conference of the […]

KABUL, Afghanistan — Traffic in the bustling capital city converges at a major intersection adjacent to a sprawling market ringed by wedding halls. Here, a dozen Afghan traffic police in white uniforms stop seemingly random cars. Heated conversations ensue, documents are passed back and forth, then money changes hands and the cops wave the drivers through. The drivers’ violation? “They are always making up excuses,” Mohammad Zaman, a commercial minibus driver, says of the traffic police. He says that every day he and his fellow drivers pass through the intersection in order to pick up passengers on a nearby side […]

Showing 1 - 17 of 601 2 3 4 Last