Global News Journal

Is Hezbollah’s gun diplomacy working?

July 17, 2008

hezbollah.jpgHezbollah literally rolled out the red carpet to welcome home five prisoners released by Israel in a U.N.-mediated exchange deal. Securing the release of the last five Lebanese held by Israel was a major triumph for the group, which in turn handed over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers captured in a 2006 raid into Israel.

Talking with the Axis of Evil

July 17, 2008

george-w-bush.jpg Is the United States going soft on Iran?

 In the past President George W. Bush accused Tehran of belonging to an “axis of evil”, compared negotiations with its president to appeasing Adolf Hitler, and warned that a nuclear-armed Iran would lead to World War Three.

Why has Poland not managed to deal with its historic shipyards?

July 16, 2008

Lech Walesa      Why has Poland not managed to deal with its loss-making shipyards despite years of European Union warnings over billions of euros in illegal state aid?

What holds Belgium together?

July 16, 2008

Belgian Prime Minister Yves LetermeIs there anything more holding Belgium together than “the king, the football team and certain beers”–  as Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme once said?Dutch-speaking Flanders and French-speaking Wallonia have their own political parties and their own television stations and newspapers which on any normal day could be reporting on totally separate countries.Tuesday was not one of those such days. Following Leterme’s decision to quit on Monday night, Belgium’s media at least agreed on the top story, even if few could answer the question: what next? The days ahead are likely to lead to growing debate over a central Belgian question: is it worth staying together?Belgium has evolved since 1970 from a unitary state to a federation in five phases of devolution giving regional and linguistic parliaments control over education, culture,transport and housing.The Flemish majority want more, from powers to set their own job creation schemes and to vary rates of tax. French-speakers fear that Belgium will be nothing more than an empty shell and the economic divide between rich Flemish north and their depressed south will widen.Leterme’s Flemish Christian Democrats had promised change, but his failure to broker a deal led to his resignation. Opinion polls are notoriously volatile, but a recent poll of Flemings found that more than 49 percent would welcome the country splitting in two.Even many Flemish who want a united Belgium struggle to say why, often citing the enormous headache that division would cause — how would the national debt be split and what would happen to Brussels, the largely French-speaking capital withinFlanders?During the last political crisis, less than a year ago, the capital Brussels saw a burst of colour as patriotic Belgians hung the national flag from their windows and balconies.French-speakers are mindful of the economic impact of losing their richer northern neighbours, but they too are losing patience.The demands of the two communities could simply be incompatible and the question remains — is Belgium ungovernable and incapable of reform?   

Has Syria come in from the cold?

July 14, 2008

assad.jpgThe European-Mediterranean summit in Paris might have produced grand projects ranging from cleaning up the Mediterranean sea to using North Africa’s sunshine to generate power. But that is is not what it will be remembered for.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

What price Saudi oil bill deferrals for Pakistan?

July 14, 2008

Khurais oilfield in Saudi ArabiaA report in the Financial Times that Saudi Arabia has agreed in principle to defer payments for crude oil sales to Pakistan worth $5.9 billion has raised speculation about what it is looking for in return.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Will Kashmir and Kabul kindle the old India-Pakistan flames?

July 11, 2008

Soldier salutes on Siachen/2003 photo by Pawel KopczynskiAre tensions over Kashmir and Afghanistan returning to haunt relations between India and Pakistan?

Update-Is ICC setting its sights too high in Sudan?

July 11, 2008

bashir1.jpgOn Friday I wrote that the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor was readying a genocide charge and arrest warrant for Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.  It came to pass today. A defiant Khartoum has said it will not bend to the court and has warned of an eruption of violence; the opposition too has said the warrant could threaten peace. Is this a case of justice versus peace and do the two have to be irreconcilable?

Russia’s Cold War anger over U.S. shield: misjudged?

July 10, 2008

Signing of missile defence treaty

Russia’s angry response to an accord between Washington and Prague on building part of a U.S. missile defence shield in the Czech Republic is reminiscent of the rhetoric of the Cold War. Although Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says Moscow still wants talks on the missile shield, his Foreign Ministry has threatened a “military-technical” response if the shield is deployed.

from Africa News blog:

How should Nigeria’s windfall oil cash be spent?

July 9, 2008

nigeria_poverty_hawker.jpgNigeria's revenues from oil exports have reached unprecedented levels as global crude prices rally, yet the majority of its 140 million population remain mired in poverty. Africa's top oil producer set up an "excess crude account" five years ago to save windfall oil earnings and try to help promote long-term economic stability.