Wednesday’s release of the much-anticipated Winograd Report on Israel’s conduct of the 2006 Lebanon War is bringing the Israeli political system to the boiling point. The heat is rising quickly under the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who led the country in the war against Hezbollah, the first war in Israel’s short history in which the country did not win a decisive victory. Olmert remains deeply unpopular, but he may yet survive. In the end, it could be another politician — the other Ehud — who ends up the loser. Nobody knows what will remain after the temperature drops […]

The media’s fixation with the protracted death of former President Suharto, who ruled Indonesia for 32 years, from 1967 until he was forced to resign in May 1998, has obscured the fact that Indonesia has progressed well beyond the Suharto era. In some areas, such as the government’s support for political democracy and regional autonomy, this movement has been largely positive. In other dimensions, such as the rise of religious extremism after the collapse of Suharto’s secular regime, the results have proven more problematic. Indonesia dominates Southeast Asia geographically, demographically and potentially economically. In addition, the country has emerged as […]

DENPASAR, Indonesia — One year has made a lot of difference in the sleepy town of Poso, in the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi. Poso gained media attention as Indonesia’s new front in the war on terror in January 2007, when two police operations left 17 Islamic radicals dead. At that time, the town was an operating hub for regional terror group Jemaah Islamiyah. (See “Indonesia’s Latest Front in the War on Terror.”) Twelve months on, Poso is a much safer place, and although sporadic pipe-bombings persisted through mid-year, just two small incidents were reported during the second half of […]

U.N. PROSECUTOR TAKES AIM AT FORMER KOSOVO LEADER — Prosecutors summed up their case against former Kosovo Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj Jan. 21, arguing he was responsible for torture, murder, rape and deportation during the Serbian’s province’s battle against Serbian rule in 1998-1999. Haradinaj, a regional commander for the Kosovo Liberation Army, was legendary in the province for his fierce control over the area under his command. “There was a saying: ‘God in heaven, Haradinaj on earth.’ His degree of control was such . . . that the murders, tortures and rapes could not have occurred without his approval,” prosecutor […]

EU COURT THREATENS U.N. ANTI-TERROR MEASURES — In a move with potentially devastating consequences for the effectiveness of U.N. counterterrorism measures, an advocate general at the European Court of Justice, Miguel Poiares Maduro, recommended to the court last week that it annul EU financial sanctions against suspected al-Qaida financier, Yassin Abdullah Kadi (aka “Qadi”). The sanctions were originally applied by the EU in 2001 in conformity with U.N. Security Council Resolutions. Kadi’s name was placed on the U.N.’s consolidated list of Qaida or Taliban affiliated persons and entities shortly after the 9/11 attacks. A series of U.N. Security Council Resolutions […]

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, a staunch U.S. ally, has confirmed that a Lebanese military investigation is underway following allegations that Palestinians living in the country’s Nahr al-Bared refugee camp were beaten by Lebanese soldiers, and their homes looted and torched, in the aftermath of last summer’s battle between Islamist militants in the camp and the Lebanese army. Lebanese troops burned some homes to rid them of poison left behind by defeated militants at the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp, Siniora wrote in a yet-unreleased letter to Amnesty International in December. It was the first response the rights […]

SEOUL, South Korea — The White House is holding back from removing North Korea from the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, citing the Kim regime’s failure to live up to a denuclearization agreement reached last year. Earlier this week, the State Department announced the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had met the technical requirements necessary to be dropped from the blacklist, which carries with it a wide range of sanctions. Cuba, Iran, Syria, and Sudan are the only countries presently on the list. To qualify for de-listing, a state must be free of involvement with terrorist-related activities […]

On Jan. 15, the government of Kazakhstan ended months of uncertainty in world energy markets by announcing that KazMunaiGaz, the country’s national oil and gas company, would assume a lead role in developing the Kashagan oil field, one of the world’s largest. The decision marks the latest instance of a government strengthening control over its valuable national resources by pressuring foreign firms to revise production sharing agreements (PSAs) negotiated years earlier. A press release issued by KazMunaiGaz concerning the new memorandum of understanding stated that it “seals the consent of all commercial participants in the consortium to transfer a stake […]

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Next month, the U.S. government will begin negotiations with the government of Iraq concerning the terms under which the United States will operate in Iraq after the expiration of the previous U.N. mandate. As the New York Times reports today, the negotiations with Iraq will center around a number of difficult issues, including immunity from local laws for U.S. contractors and whether the U.S. military will be able to operate unilaterally, or will be required to gain some level of approval from Iraqi officials. However, the substantive debate in Congress, concerns whether or not the “status of forces” agreement will […]

“When Benazir died, I started calling her by the nickname we used all those years ago: Wadi Bua, which in our dialectic in [the] Sindh [province] is a term of endearment for father’s elder sister. I don’t know. It was just natural, spontaneous. All of a sudden, she stopped being the political opponent of recent times and went back to being the Wadi Bua of my childhood games, when I was five and she was thirty-five. They tell me she was killed by a bullet in the neck. Just like my father Murtaza, her brother. I’ve sort of suspended judgment. […]

More than a year ago, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) officially welcomed its newest and 12th member, Angola. Such a move by the cartel is rare. The last time OPEC admitted a country into its ranks was 1975, the year Angola secured its independence from Portugal. What undoubtedly prompted the invitation was the southern African country’s oil reserves, standing at more than nine billion barrels: it is the fourth-largest total in Africa, trailing only Libya, Nigeria and Algeria. In fact, Angola is now the continent’s second-largest producer after Nigeria. It is also a major supplier to China, providing […]

While much of the region is busy analyzing the aftermath of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s high-profile visit to China this month, one fragile nation finds itself squeezed harder in the middle. For nearly two years, leading political parties and former Maoist rebels in Nepal, sandwiched between the Asian giants, have been precariously following a New Delhi-brokered roadmap to peace. Amid the uncertainty, China has stepped up its role in the tiny landlocked Himalayan nation. The future of Nepal, including whether it becomes a republic or retains some form of monarchy, seems inextricably linked to its neighbors. Reconciling them will […]

Life again turned even more difficult for the embattled people of Gaza a few days ago. Everyone has heard about Israel’s tightening of border controls, and about the temporary shutdown of Gaza’s power plant. But looking at the news, shovels and flashlights have been needed to excavate some of the most important information about Gaza’s latest crisis. It is impossible to understand what is happening in Gaza without having the full story. Much of the news coverage has carefully concealed that, as many in the Arab world point out, responsibility for the current crisis lies squarely on the shoulders of […]

Although Western attention has focused on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) as a potential threat to Western influence in Eurasia, another institution, the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), currently represents a more serious near-term challenge. Last October, the leaders of the CSTO convened one of their most important summits in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. The assembled presidents and senior staff reached several important decisions that testify to the CSTO’s expanding regional security ambitions. First, they adopted procedures formally authorizing members to conduct joint peacekeeping operations. Second, by reaffirming Moscow’s willingness to sell arms to its CSTO allies on a […]

France, Germany, and the United Kingdom may have new leaders who bring the promise overall of better trans-Atlantic relations, but when it comes to the politics of global trade, some things never change. This month, the European Union missed yet another deadline for correcting its illegal regulation of gene-spliced, or “genetically modified” (GM), crop varieties, following a World Trade Organization decision in November 2005 that some European countries were breaking international trade rules by prohibiting the import of GM foods and crops. Although the WTO bluntly scolded the EU for imposing a moratorium on gene-spliced crop approvals from 1998 to […]

This past summer, prior to his sudden departure from office, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh announced a partnership agreement that surpassed the previously established levels of economic and security cooperation between the two countries. The timing of this August roadmap could not have been more perfect, given that 2007 is Japan-India Friendship Year. The new momentum in relations between the world’s largest democracy and its second-largest economy deserves attention, in part because these relations have historically lacked both depth and breadth. Nevertheless, while recent efforts reflect a positive trend toward deeper engagement between Japan […]

From Jan. 13-15, Manmohan Singh undertook the first visit by an Indian Prime Minister to China in five years. During his stay in Beijing, Singh met with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao, President Hu Jintao, and other Chinese political and economic leaders. The summit showcased the improving Sino-Indian economic ties, but did not appreciably reduce the two governments’ political-military “trust deficit.” Furthering economic ties was an important objective of Singh’s visit. A delegation of 20 Indian business leaders accompanied Singh and Indian Commerce Minister Kamal Nath on the trip. The prime minister delivered a keynote address at an India-China Economic, Trade […]

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