Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Is the balance shifting in Zimbabwe?

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Zimbabwe's President Mugabe arrives for the official opening of the Parliament in Harare

This week’s reopening of Zimbabwe’s parliament had been seen by many as a show of defiance by President Robert Mugabe against an opposition that has so far rejected terms of a power-sharing deal that appear more acceptable to the veteran leader and to at least some of his regional counterparts.

But it may not have gone quite to plan.

The election of the parliamentary speaker chosen by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) came in spite of efforts by Mugabe’s ZANU-PF to bring in the candidate of the breakaway MDC faction. Members of that faction appear to have sided with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai rather than their own party leadership.

A policeman stands before a crowd of supporters of the opposition Movement For Democratic Change during the opening of the parliament.

Then Mugabe faced unprecedented boos and jeers as he delivered his speech at the reopening of parliament, where ZANU-PF has lost its majority for the first time since independence from Britain in 1980. Mugabe nonetheless said he was optimistic that a power-sharing deal would be reached.

Is there a shift in the balance of power in Zimbabwe? What might it all mean for talks and for chances of an agreement that could help to revive the stricken country?

What Russia wants: lessons from the 19th century

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Russian tanks in N. Ossetia after crossing from S. Ossetia/Sergei KarpukhinRussia’s bear-paw swipe at Georgia has got many people drawing comparisons with the Cold War, but personally I like to look for parallels in the 19th century.

At the time the faultlines between Russian and British imperial interests ran from the Balkans through the Crimea and the Caucasus to Central Asia and Afghanistan. That is remarkably similar to some of the faultlines creating upheavals today.  

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Sharif vs Zardari: A fight to the finish or revival of democracy?

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Asif Ali Zardari and Nawaz Sharif/Aug 18The resignation of President Pervez Musharraf has, as expected, unleashed a new power struggle within Pakistan's fractious coalition. Asif Ali Zardari, leader of the Pakistan People's Party (PPP) and widower of Benazir Bhutto, has staked a claim to the presidency, setting him on a collision course with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) sees Zardari's candidacy as an attempt to garner more power and delay the restoration of judges sacked by Musharraf last November. PML (N) officials are already saying the row could break up the six-month-old coalition cobbled together after elections in February.

So will there be a fight to the finish between Zardari and Sharif that will drag Pakistan deeper into the mire? Or are the two men simply manoeuvring themselves into the best position they can find in the post-Musharraf era?

Can Tbilisi neighbours remain good friends?

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georgia1.jpg    They are 21st century barbarians, thugs, thieves, fascist hordes bent on killing, sacking Georgian cities, burning treasured forests, humiliating and crushing a proud people. “I see,” said President Mikheil Saakashvili, “evil in their eyes.”

    Such is the picture of Russians painted by Georgia’s leaders over the last two weeks of war and uneasy ceasefire. Russia, of course, has been far from courteous about Georgia. You have to wonder, though, what effect this deluge of vitriol might have on historically good relations between ‘ordinary’ Georgians and Russians living in Tbilisi. In the southern Caucasus, a volatile patchwork of ethnic groups, the Georgian capital has been a relatively harmonious place through two centuries of imperial Russian rule, Soviet mastery and then the turbulent years since independence. Georgians, Russians, Azeris, Jews, Armenians all called Tbilisi home, their common tongue Russian.

Is the American dream over for Georgia and Ukraine?

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Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili (L) welcomes his Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yushchenko as he arrives for the GUAM summit in the Black Sea city of Batumi July 1, 2008When thousands in the streets of the Ukrainian capital Kiev and the Georgian capital Tbilisi overthrew Soviet-style rulers, many felt warm in the embrace of the West.

Western support for the opposition — open and behind the scenes –  helped many people overcome fear of Soviet-style reprisals to stand for days outside Georgia’s parliament in 2003 or to pitch orange tents on Kiev’s main thoroughfare in late 2004, providing a lasting image of “people power” overthrowing a stale leadership.

Vital role in Georgia crisis for…Italy?

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Putin and Berlusconi in Sardinia in AprilDid Italy unwittingly trigger the crisis in South Ossetia and then play a central role in stopping it? It may not be the view in most of the world but you could come to that conclusion from reading some Italian papers.

First, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was quoted in a report by French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy on Wednesday, which was reproduced in full on the front page and pages 2 and 3 of Corriere della Sera, as saying that he was first alerted to the situation in South Ossetia by reports in the Italian press that he saw while on a dieting holiday in Italy.

Poles see U.S. missile shield as insurance. Are they right?

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It is hard not to view Poland’s decision to accept the U.S. missile shield in the context of tensions over Georgia – a point Russia, which loathes the project, was quick to make.

And although Warsaw and Washington dismiss the idea and diplomats say a compromise on the long-negotiated deal was hammered out before Russia’s intervention in the Caucasus, there is no smoke without fire.

Algerian bombers strike again

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Police officer inspects the site of a car bomb attack in BouiraFor years Algerian authorities have said the country’s Islamist armed groups are on their last legs. Attacks are sometimes described as the last kicks of a dying horse.

However, the militants have proved themselves to be resilient. Bombings and ambushes over the past week have caused at least 65 deaths, making it the bloodiest in years, and the toll so far for August stands at more than 80. That is the worst month in a long time.

Bashir’s challenge to the ICC – can the court respond?

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bashir-in-istanbul.jpgInternational prosecutors’ pursuit of Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir for alleged genocide has not curtailed his travel schedule. He is in Turkey this week, defiant and saying the move by the International Criminal Court has backfired — his hold on power is stronger than ever.

Bashir gave an exclusive interview to Reuters, his first since ICC Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he was seeking a warrant for his arrest.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

After Canada, now it’s France’s turn to ask: What’s happening in Afghanistan?

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Girl holds her brother at refugee camp outside Kabul/Adnan AbidiLast week the Canadians were soul-searching about their presence in Afghanistan after three female aid workers, two of them Canadian, were killed in an ambush. "(The) Canadian deaths in Afghanistan underscore the most troubling aspect of the West's strategy there," said the Toronto Star. "Put simply, it isn't working."

Now it is the turn of the French to ask the same questions after the deaths of 10 French soldiers in a battle with Taliban fighters: What is happening in Afghanistan? Or, for some, what are we doing there?

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