Yearly Archives: 2009
A doubling of nuclear states in just a few years? Even if they’re “virtual nuclear states,” this is something we should be working to control.
The growth of slums worldwide evidently makes the risk of “megadisasters” even higher. The least well-off getting hit by the worst, yet again…
And Paul Krugman, not one for compromise on, say, health care, argues that we gotta take the best bill we can get through Congress when it comes to climate change.
The Sri Lankan government announced that the 25 year civil war there is effectively over and that Velupillai Prabhakaran, the founder and leader of the LTTE is dead. This final victory was the inevitable consequence of a military operation that began in earnest in January and has claimed the lives of approximately 7,000 civilians. Al Jazeera English captures some dramatic footage of the final moments of the fighting.
The immediate concern for the international community has to be with the plight of Tamil civilians now interned at detention facilities run by the Sri Lankan military. From all available accounts, the conditions inside these facilities is deplorable. International humanitarian organizations are barred from entry, and civilians are prevented from leaving. The EU is calling for an inquiry into human rights abuses in Sri Lanka. The United States and the rest of the world should join the cause.
I learned about the apparent end of the Sri Lankan military’s long-running war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in this Reuters report. I also learned that, coinciding with the military victory, the Sri Lankan stock market had lept to a seven-month high. This is interesting information, to be sure, and has been part of an odd trend that I have noticed, in which reports of the Sri Lankan military campaign also consistently detail the ascent of the country’s stock market. But what this particular Reuters article did not tell me was that, despite the “end” of the war, there are still hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankan civilians languishing in camps, displaced by fighting, abused by LTTE civilian-shield tactics, and now at the crux of the problems facing the new, allegedly post-LTTE Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan government likes to portray its offensives as “rescuing” these civilians. No doubt many did not feel safe in an area full of LTTE guerillas willing to sacrifice the very lives they purported to protect. But, in addition to the “normal” privations of displaced persons that these civilians are now facing, a couple disturbing factors make their plight all the more dangerous.
As it happens, I am in Israel this week. And in Israel, all eyes are on Washington, D.C. as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the Obama White House for the first time. The meeting, however, has the potential to be somewhat awkward the Israeli Prime Minister has yet to endorse the “two state” solution.
Scanning the Israeli press today it is stricking to see the degree to which Israelis are depending on Obama to press Netanyahu to once and for all endorse a two-state solution. For a good chunk of the Israeli body politic, all hope lies with Obama. Ha’aretz has a three-fer of editorials today which all reinforce this same point.
The lead editorial in Ha’Aretz advises Bibi to “say ‘yes’ to Obama:”
Now Netanyahu must show he can set aside his ideological opposition to dividing the country and support for expanding settlements and, for the good of the state, strengthen relations with the United States and advance the peace process with the Palestinians and the Arab states.
The Israeli public expects him to adjust his political stances to international reality.
Gideon Levy calls for a “political U-turn by the prime minister,” and see’s the American president as Israel’s “final hope.”
Obama is the final hope: Only if he throws his entire weight into the process will anything in the Middle East start moving. Any American president could have long ago brought about substantial progress, first and foremost ending the intolerable Israeli occupation. But Obama’s predecessors shrank from the task, preferring to yield to the Jewish and Christian lobbies and to engage in masquerades of negotiations leading nowhere.
And Zvi Bar’el says an endorsement of a two state solution
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lands in Washington Sunday, he brings a valuable gift for U.S. President Barack Obama: new U.S. legitimacy in the Middle East. If Netanyahu says the right password at the White House gates – “two states for two peoples” – Obama will have his first Israeli political achievement. Then there will be no escaping attributing this ideological compromise to American pressure on Israel.
Bottom line: A nation turns its lonely eyes to you, President Obama
Well, not for the war crimes he has been indicted for committing during a particularly ravaging attack on an AU-protected camp, but for agreeing to show up at The Hague for trial. This sets a positive precedent for others in Sudan indicted by the ICC, such as, um, that president guy. But even though this may put Bashir in an awkward position — he opposes both the ICC and the Darfuri rebels — don’t expect his plane to veer out his much-traveled regional orbit toward the Netherlands any time soon. He has developed quite a knack for talking out of both sides of his mouth, so I fully expect him to find a way to condemn both the rebels’ war crimes and the court trying them, without so much as a flinch of hypocrisy.
(And as Kevin Jon Heller notes, it is unfortunate that the first trial involves Darfur rebels, and not government forces; but it will be that much more unfortunate if the only trials to go forward are ones that involve rebels, and not those responsible for creating the bleak environment that Darfur has been reduced to.)
The SG: In Ethiopia over the weekend, the SG is now in the United Arab Emirates. Today he met with Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, where the two discussed developments in the region, including Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, and in the Middle East Peace Process.