Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

from Africa News blog:

Could revolt spread in Africa?

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LIBYA/So far there hasn’t been much political fallout in the rest of Africa from the revolts in the northernmost states.

Of course there are lots of differences between sub-Saharan African countries themselves let alone when you compare them to those north of the desert.

But there are plenty of similarities too: the rest of Africa can point to those leaders entrenched for decades, to so-called democracies where ballots are no more than a waste of paper and to a lack of opportunities for youths even where official growth figures appear startlingly good.

Could the revolt against Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi change that dynamic in some places?

An eye-witness in Tripoli describes what it’s really like

tobrukThe following is a guest contribution from Lisa Goldman, a Canadian-Israeli journalist in Tel Aviv, based on an interview she had on Monday evening with an eye-witness in Tripoli. This was originally published on +972 magazine. The opinions expressed are her own. Reuters is not responsible for the content.

Yesterday evening (21 February) I was able to speak via Skype for about 20 minutes with a friend who lives in Sarraj, a suburb of Tripoli that is located 10 kilometers west of the city’s center. He agreed to my publishing a summary of the main points of our conversation; and he also answered some follow-up questions via email. Ali, which is not his real name, speaks fluent American English; his background, which I will not specify, makes him qualified to give reliable information about certain military matters.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

On U.S.-Taliban talks, look at 2014 and work back

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arghandab3According to Steve Coll in the New Yorker, the United States has begun its first direct talks with the Taliban to see whether it is possible to reach a political settlement to the Afghan war.  He writes that after the Sept. 11 2001 attacks on New York and Washington the United States rejected direct talks with Taliban leaders, on the grounds that they were as much to blame for terrorism as Al Qaeda. However, last year, he says, a small number of officials in the Obama administration—among them the late Richard Holbrooke, the special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan—argued that it was time to try talking to the Taliban again.

"Holbrooke’s final diplomatic achievement, it turns out, was to see this advice accepted. The Obama Administration has entered into direct, secret talks with senior Afghan Taliban leaders, several people briefed about the talks told me last week. The discussions are continuing; they are of an exploratory nature and do not yet amount to a peace negotiation."

UNsensational? Five more years of Ban Ki-moon

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U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman and John Kerry look on as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon addresses reporters in Washington. REUTERS/Molley Riley

U.S. Senators Joe Lieberman and John Kerry look on as U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon addresses reporters in Washington. REUTERS/Molley Riley

It’s hard to find a delegate to the United Nations who despises U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. But it’s even harder to find someone who thinks he has the gravitas and charisma of his Nobel Peace Prize-winning predecessor Kofi Annan, who invoked the wrath of the previous U.S. administration when he called the 2003 invasion of Iraq “illegal.” As one senior Western official, who declined to be identified, said about Ban: “It’s not as if he’s lightning in a bottle, but we can live with him.”

Indian minister plays musical speeches at UN council

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Those who spend much of their working week listening to speeches at the United Nations — U.N. correspondents, for example — might be forgiven for thinking there’s not much difference between most of them.

UN-ASSEMBLY/But it’s seldom you get as dramatic an illustration of this as happened on Feb. 11 when India’s Foreign Minister began inadvertently reading out to the Security Council a speech written for another country’s delegate without anyone, including himself, initially realizing anything was amiss.

from Reuters Investigates:

ElBaradei: From nuclear diplomat to Cairo politics

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EGYPT/ELBARADEI-SQUAREWho is Mohamed ElBaradei, the professional Egyptian opposition figure who joined the ranks of disaffected Eypgtians to topple President Hosni Mubarak after thirty years in power?  Does the 68-year-old diplomat and lawyer have what it takes to become Egypt's next president if it holds free and fair elections? 

Louis Charbonneau's special report takes a close look at ElBaradei's performance while at the helm of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where he stood toe-to-toe with the Bush administration over Iraq and Iran. It tells how he survived a plot by hawkish U.S. politician John Bolton to oust him and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 jointly with the IAEA, the U.N. nuclear watchdog.  It looks into his questionable record as a manager while showing that he may have what it takes to lead Egypt -- if he wants the job. 

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Afghanistan: Petraeus, personalities and policy

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chinook2Buried in the Washington Post story on Marc Grossman taking over as the new U.S. envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan are some interesting references to the possible departure of U.S. commander General David Petraeus.

"... virtually the entire U.S. civilian and military leadership in Afghanistan is expected to leave in the coming months, including Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and the embassy's other four most senior officials, Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the U.S.-led international coalition, and Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, who runs day-to-day military operations there," it says.

from Environment Forum:

Excess baggage in Bangkok: tortoises, lizards, spiders and snakes

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ploughshare-seized-thailandWhat happens when the airport scanner  shows shapes that look like live spiders, snakes, lizards and tortoises inside three big suitcases? Last week in Bangkok, it meant the detention of an Indonesian man and the seizure of 259 live creatures that were slotted into compartments in the black traveling bags.

The suspected smuggler reportedly went on a wildlife shopping spree in Bangkok's Chatuchak Market, a hub for rare animal trade, according to conservation group TRAFFIC, which monitors illegal trafficking of species.

from Pakistan: Now or Never?:

Egypt and Pakistan; something borrowed, something new

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candelightThe Egyptian uprising contains much that is familiar to Pakistan - the dark warnings of a coup, in Egypt's case delivered by Vice President Omar Suleiman, the role of political Islam, and a relationship with the United States distorted by U.S. aid and American strategic interests which do not match those of the people.

President Hosni Mubarak cited Pakistan as an example of what happened when a ruler like President Pervez Musharraf - like himself from the military - was forced to make way for democracy. "He fears that Pakistan is on the brink of falling into the hands of the Taliban, and he puts some of the blame on U.S. insistence on steps that ultimately weakened Musharraf," a 2009 U.S. embassy cable published by WikiLeaks said.

from Tales from the Trail:

U.S. State Dept. figures out how to say “Twitter” in Arabic

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It took a while, but the U.S. State Department is now tweeting in Arabic.

EGYPT/With unprecedented political turmoil rocking Egypt and protesters turning to social media such as Twitter and Facebook, the mouthpiece of U.S. foreign policy wants in on the game.

Its first message? #Egypt #Jan25 تعترف وزارة الخارجية الأمريكية بالدور التاريخي الذي يلعبه الإعلام الإجتماعي في العالم العربي ونرغب أن نكون جزءاً من محادثاتكم

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