Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Rice eats way through North Africa during Ramadan

Photo

rice.jpgRABAT – How many Iftars can you eat in a day?

For U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, that became a concern during her tour of North Africa in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

On Saturday, Rice joined Algeria’s leaders to break the fast after sundown. Then she flew to neighboring Morocco to indulge in another Iftar, the traditional meal to end a day of fasting. The previous night, she shared Iftar with Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, eating soup and other treats.

The trick to all this heavy eating, says health-conscious Rice, is to eat small portions. In Algeria, she focused on the appetizers while in Morocco, she raved about the beef done in apricots.

How does she stay so slim? Aside from exercising every day before dawn, Rice never eats dessert.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

A decisive moment : India, Pakistan on different paths

The irony is hard to miss. Just as Pakistan is struggling with the fallout of the first known breach of its territorial sovereignty by U.S. ground troops and all the odium associated with it in a proud nation, India has been welcomed into the nuclear high table, almost entirely at America's behest.

Two unrelated events but coming days apart seemed to underline the divergent paths the two nations are embarked upon.  One has a gun pointed to it; the other is being wooed.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Obama says Pakistan used U.S. aid to prepare for war against India

Senator Obama speaks in Milwaukee/Allen FredricksonSenator Barack Obama has accused Pakistan of misusing U.S. military aid meant to help it fight al Qaeda and the Taliban to prepare for war against India. In an interview with Fox News he also says the United States must put more pressure on Pakistan to crack down on Islamist militants, hold it accountable for increased military support, and be prepared to act aggressively against al Qaeda; "if we have bin Laden in our sights, we target him and we knock him out," he says. However he adds that "nobody talked about some full-blown invasion of Pakistan."

The latter part of his comments is not that new, nor indeed that different from the policies of the current U.S. administration. But it is his comment about India that has been seized upon by the media in South Asia. "We are providing them military aid without having enough strings attached. So they're using the military aid that we use, to Pakistan, they're preparing for war against India," he says.

Surviving civil war in Baghdad; from slaughter to soccer

Photo

Posted by Aws Qusay

I left my home in Baghdad early that day, on tenterhooks as I headed to a job interview for which I had been preparing for weeks.

It was July 2006, five months after the bombing of a revered Shi’ite shrine unleashed a wave of sectarian killing in Iraq. Only the day before, my neighbourhood in southwestern Baghdad was rocked by a huge bomb that destroyed a local mosque.

Turkish-Armenian Soccer Diplomacy

Photo

  Following the national soccer team to a foreign country is usually a safe enough bet for any national leader. Photographs of the president or premier smiling and waving, the local colour, the national flags all play well at home; a few platitudes to charm the local press and a  handshake. Simple, harmless political fun.            Turkish soccer fans watching a big match                                                                                                                                                   When Turkish President Abdullah Gul visits Yerevan this weekend for Turkey’s World Cup qualifier against Armenia, however, there will be nothing simple about it.    For the two countries, divided over a wartime slaughter that occurred early in the last century, it will be a historic moment, fraught with perils.      For many Armenians, Gul’s presence will be an act of sheer effrontery by a state they accuse of an act of genocide against the Armenian people; an act of savagery by the old, collapsing Ottoman Empire for which they demand an apology and redress.   For many nationalist Turks, his unprecedented venture, the first visit to Armenia by a Turkish leader, borders on betrayal of their country which they say committed no genocide. Hundreds of thousands, Turks and Armenians alike, they argue, died in the fierce fighting  that consumed the region. Opposition leader Deniz Baykal gave a taste of that mood, remarking sarcastically that Gul should lay a wreath at the Yerevan genocide monument.      Recklesness or statesmanship? Whichever it is,  if it is either,  it is arguably an act of political courage — as was the invitation issued by Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan. Gul might have left well alone as generations of Turkish leaders have done before him. Few in Turkey or Armenia, would have raised an eyebrow.     There may well be anti-Turkish demonstrations in Yerevan and rumblings at home. Gul, a naturally mild-mannered man, must watch his words and his body language. Maybe soccer diplomacy could break the ice between Armenia and Turkey in the same way ping-pong diplomacy launched relations between the United States and Communist China.     Gul’s visit to Armenia is the latest in a string of Turkish foreign policy interventions around his country’s troubled border areas, involving Syria, Iran, Israel, Iraq and more recently Georgia. Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan might be seen as panderTurkey's Gul and Germany's Merkeling to a foreign policy fantasy nurtured by Washington and Brussels of a Turkey building bridges between the West and the Arab world, helping secure the energy routes of the Caucasus and healing the wound of Cyprus; but Ankara is pursuing its own vested interests. While the Turkish economy may prosper in Istanbul or central Anatolia, the country’s east remains steeped in poverty.    Why? Look around.    Eastern Turkey is caught, effectively, in a dead end, surrounded  by closed or virtually closed borders and weak neighbouring economies. Armenia is one such neighbour, but an important one.     A landlocked country still emerging from the ruins of the Soviet Union, Armenia also suffers from a closed border with its huge western neighbour.    The argument about whether or not the events of the last century were an act of systematic killing, a genocide,  will continue with a passion.    The idea that governments write history or interpret it is not one that sits easily with me. I’ve lived in countries where the history books are written by the government or the Party.   The Turks have compromised themselves over decades on this count by prosecuting historians or journalists who dare to entertain the question of whether there was genocide; but things in Turkey are changing. The country is opening, if not quickly enough for some.    Armenians might argue that the killing in what is today eastern Turkey is not history but very much a modern event for families driven into exile and living with the consequences. Some of those exile families, from Paris to Los Angeles, are among the most vocal proponents of diplomatic action against Turkey.     Soccer matches can be emotional occasions. Turkish and Armenian colours will vie for attention. Hopefully, the emotion this time will be confined largely to the action on the pitch, but politics will be foremost in many people’s minds, within and beyond the borders of Turkey and Armenia.    A risky and courageous political act by Gul or a move long overdue for both Turkey and Armenia? Much depends on what comes after the final whistle. Both sides are showing good will. The Armenians, for instance, are removing from the emblems on their kit the image of Mount Ararat,  a mountain now in Turkey but closely linked to Armenian culture and history.    As Turkish national coach Fatih Terim said on Tuesday, the team is going to Yervan ‘to play a game and not to fight a war’.    

Angola votes

Photo

UNITA leader votes in Angola******Angola’s last election led to the resumption of civil war that took another decade to end and cost countless lives.******This time the atmosphere  around the election is very different, despite some initial problems at voting stations – scores failed to open on time in Luanda, which could lead to an extension of voting.******The ruling MPLA won the war in 2002 when UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi was killed. His former rebel group has now been transformed into a political party, but it is given little chance of electoral success and is unable to do much but complain the campaign has been unfair.******mesavoto2.jpg******Angola is one of the world’s fastest growing economies thanks to booming oil production – not that much of the wealth has trickled down to the two-thirds of Angolans who live on less than $2 a day.******The election is being touted by Angola’s government as a demonstration of how far the country has come from the civil war and an example in Africa after flawed elections elsewhere.******Angolan ruling MPLA party stand******But the MPLA’s electoral dominance meant the contest was very one-sided and there appears little chance of a dispute on the scale of those that led to the troubles in Kenya and Zimbabwe, where election results were close.******The election is undoubtedly a big step for Angola. How significant will it prove for Africa as a whole?

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Returning to Kabul after five years

The rows of bombed-out and upturned Soviet era-planes that littered the ground at Kabul airport are gone. Gone also is the confusion that used to reign in the small immigration control office or over at the baggage belt in a dark corner of the damp building. You are quickly waved through, the bags have arrived and you are whisked off in Kabul's crisp early morning air.

k2.jpg

Returning to the Afghan capital after five years is both reassuring and a little bit disconcerting. Traffic clogs the dusty streets, people crane their necks out of cars hollering at each other to give way, smiling school girls in twos or threes wait by the roadside for a ride home in the crowded cabs. Mobile phone shops have sprung up everywhere, and everyone uses the phones. You even have shalwar-clad men standing at street corners selling Afghanis for dollars in one hand and pre-paid calling cards for your phone on the other.

from Africa News blog:

How ill is Nigeria’s president?

yaradua_portrait.jpgNigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua left for Saudi Arabia more than two weeks ago for the Islamic obligation of the lesser Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca. Yar'Adua, who is known to have a chronic kidney problem, has sought medical attention in Jeddah and has still not returned, raising fears about the state of his health. A medical source in Saudi Arabia told Reuters he had undergone an operation.

Government and presidency officials have been tight-lipped about the president's condition and have not said exactly when he will be back. The opposition has demanded clarity on the president's health, adding that his absence is having an adverse effect on the workings of government and that the official silence is fuelling speculation and uncertainty.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Are the Taliban under pressure in Pakistan?

File photo of South WaziristanAre the Taliban and al Qaeda finally under serious pressure in their hideouts along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border?

Pakistani officials say U.S.-led helicopter-borne troops launched a ground assault on a Pakistani village near the Afghan border on Wednesday, killing 20 people.  The raid, in the South Waziristan tribal area, was the first known incursion into Pakistan by U.S.-led troops since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

Always a marriage of convenience in Ukraine?

Photo

Ukraine’s President Yushchenko and Prime Minister Tymoshenko smile during their meeting with local businessmen in KievHe was a suave central banker and she a “gas princess”, a young politician desperate to make her mark. In 1998 Yulia  Tymoshenko, now Ukraine’s prime minister, said she knew her destiny lay with Viktor Yushchenko, who went on to become president.

“We understood that we are a team,” she said at that time.

It’s an assertion Yushchenko disputes — a clash of views that has defined this partnership since they overturned a Soviet-style leadership in the 2004 “Orange Revolution” and vowed a modern, Western future for Ukraine’s 47 million people.

  •