Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
from Afghan Journal:
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has supported a proposal to open an office for the Taliban in a third country such as Turkey. Such a move could help facilitate talks with the insurgent group on reconciliation and reintegration of members back into society, and Kabul was happy for Turkey to be a venue for such a process, he said last week, following a trilateral summit involving the presidents of Turkey and Pakistan.
The question is while a legitimate calling card for the Taliban would be a step forward, the insurgent group itself shows no signs yet of stepping out of the shadows, despite the best entreaties of and some of his European backers. The Taliban remain steadfast in their stand that they won't talk to the Afghan government unless foreign troops leave the country. More so at the present time when U.S. commander General David Petraeus has intensified the battle against them and the Taliban have responded in equal measure.
Perhaps some elements of the Taliban may not be averse to the idea of a parallel engagement to the battlefield but then so amorphous and diffused is the nature of the group that it only complicates the picture further, as The Nation wrote in an editorial.
Nevertheless, the idea of a representative office for the Taliban is a major step forward in efforts to seek a negotiated settlement of the Afghan conflict, says Strafor's Kamran Bokhari. First, it gives the Taliban the political legitimacy they have been demanding for years, he says. Second with Turkey jumping into the fray, the idea may not be that far fetched. While Pakistan may not be most credible partner in seeking a settlement given its close ties to the Afghan Taliban and other militant groups, Turkey carries enough weight both in the United States and the Islamic world to be able to nudge the different players along.
(Photo: Presidents Christian Wulff (R) and Abdullah Gül, followed by wives Bettina (R) and Hayrünnisa, during official welcome in Ankara October 19, 2010/Umit Bektas)
When German President Christian Wulff recently declared that Islam "belongs to Germany," Christian Democratic politicians there howled and Muslims living in Germany and Turkey cheered. Now Wulff, on an official visit to Turkey, has told the Turkish parliament that "Christianity too, undoubtedly, belongs to Turkey." This time there was applause in Germany, and silence from the Turkish deputies listening to him in Ankara on Tuesday.
In both cases, Wulff's words could not have come at a better time. (Photo: President Wulff address the Turkish parliament, with Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan (R) and Turkey's EU Minister Egemen Bagis (L) in the background/Umit Bektas)
Germany is in the grip of an emotional debate about Islam and Muslim integration. When Wulff said in his Oct. 3 German Unity Day address that Islam was now part of German society, given the large number (about 4 million) of Muslims living there, it was demographically obvious and politically risky. Several of his fellow Christian Democrats have challenged his view and insisted Germany had a "Judeo-Christian heritage" that Islam did not share. But Wulff, who was considered something of a lightweight for the ceremonial role when he was elected last July, has taken a clear stand on a political and moral issue -- just like Germans want their head of state to do. He is, as the Financial Times Deutschland entitled its editorial on Wednesday, "Finally A President."
from Reuters Investigates:
Just because it was summer, doesn't mean we weren't busy here at Reuters. Here are a few of our recent special reports that you might have missed.
Tracking Iran's nuclear money trail to Turkey. U.N. correspondent Lou Charbonneau -- who used to cover the IAEA for Reuters -- followed the money to Turkey where an Iranian bank under U.S. and EU sanctions is operating freely. Nice to see the New York Times follow up on this today, and the Washington Post also quizzed Turkey's president about it.
from Tales from the Trail:
It almost sounded as if U.S. lawmakers felt jilted by Washington's long-time NATO ally Turkey.
"How do we get Turkey back?" demanded Representative Gary Ackerman at a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing exploring "Turkey's New Foreign Policy Direction."
Negotiating Turkey’s accession to the European Union hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. But it may be about to get tougher still.
Europeans are already divided over the prospect of inviting a largely Muslim nation into their club of 27 states. And while some are attracted by Turkey’s huge economic potential, that’s frequently shadowed by its much-criticised human rights record.
Last weekend, Finland’s foreign minister gathered six of his colleagues and the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, in the frozen far reaches of Lapland for two days of talks on the future of European foreign policy.
As informal ministerial gatherings go, it was a rather jolly (if cold) affair, complete with a ‘family photo’ taken with a pair of nervous reindeer, a chance to see the northern lights and activities such as skiing, sledging and snow-mobiling. Some of the ministers even brought along their families.
One of the first things that catches your attention when you drive out of the airport of Diyarbakir, the largest city in Turkey’s mainly Kurdish southeast, is Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s famous phrase engraved on mountain slopes in big white letters.
Bent on building a secular and modern Turkey after World War One, Ataturk carved a united Turkish nation out of the disparate ethnic and religious groups that inhabited the old Ottoman empire — sometimes by forced “Turkification” as was the case with ethnic Kurds.
I had the chance to pose that question to a charismatic young German political leader who is sometimes likened by his supporters to the American President.
Greens party co-chairman Cem Oezdemir, the son of Turkish immigrants, became the first person from an ethnic minority elected to lead a major German party last year — a slogan at the time was “Yes, we Cem“. What might sound rather unspectacular in many industrial countries was actually an epic change in Germany, which until only a decade ago was loath to even acknowledge it was a country of “immigrants” (preferring to call its 7 million foreigners “guest workers”).
The results of European Parliament election have caused deep concern in European Union candidate Turkey, where gains made by conservatives and some far-right parties have been read as a clear win by the “No to Turkey” camp” and thus a blow to Ankara’s already troubled EU membership quest.
Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the vote as a “futile effort by those who cannot digest Turkey’s enormity and strategic importance”. He said politicians who vilified Turkey to win votes in the short term would be judged by history.
“No more empty promises to Turkey,” a snickering Sarkozy says. The cartoon in daily Milliyet darkly panders to what most Turks feel these days are the European Union’s true intentions towards Turkey’s EU quest — no matter how many obstacles thrown at its wheels Turkey surmounts on the long and winding road to Brussels, it will ultimately be denied entry at the gates of the promised land .