‘Peace process’: Round two, By Ayman Mohyeldin
George Mitchell, the US special envoy, is returning to the Middle East to once again try and resuscitate the so-called “Peace Process” following a difficult first year for the Obama administration.
In a recent interview, Mitchell tacitly acknowledged the failure of his efforts in securing a complete settlement freeze, saying what the Americans got was “far less than what they had requested”.
Instead, Mitchell now says the 10-month Israeli moratorium – which by the way excludes occupied East Jerusalem and does not include construction already underway on thousands of homes and plans for new public buildings – is “more significant than any other measure taken by previous Israeli governments”. [full article]
Interviewing Karzai, By Hashem Ahelbarra
Afghanistan’s presidential palace is one of the world’s most highly guarded buildings. No surprise, its occupant is the man the world relies on to pacify and defeat the Taliban.
He was targeted many times and miraculously escaped two assassination attempts in Kandahar and Kabul. His security staff is alert all the time.
No pens or watches are allowed, and you have no right to complain, they are thin-skinned when it comes to remarks, they say they are taking no chances. [full article+video]
Los Angles Times blogs:
IRAN: Rafsanjani so silent because he gets no respect, brother says
For months Iran watchers have wondered what was up with Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the head of Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts and the Expediency Council, as well as a pillar of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Once considered the second-most powerful man in the country and the primary backer of Iran’s burgeoning opposition movement, he has grown uncharacteristically quiet in the last couple of months. [full article]
EGYPT: Police stand guard amid tense calm between Muslims and Christians
After two days of deadly violence and recriminations between Muslims and Christian Copts, the town of Nag Hammadi was relatively quiet today as security forces stood guard over burned buildings and alleyways.
The mood in the city, 40 miles north of Luxor, has been one of anger and nervous jitters since six Copts and a Muslim guard were killed and nine others were severely injured in a drive-by shooting outside a church during the Coptic Christmas Eve on Wednesday. [full article]
Financial Times blogs:
Journalist’s Murder: Bulgaria Must Put Its House In Order,By Tony Barber
Tuesday’s murder of Bobi Tsankov, a young Bulgarian journalist who wrote about his country’s over-mighty gangsters, took place in broad daylight in a crowded street in the centre of Sofia. As a statement about the power of organised crime in Bulgaria, it could hardly have been more explicit.
Moreover, it could hardly have come at a worse time for Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s government. Borissov came to power in July facing the arduous task of regaining the trust of Bulgaria’s European Union partners. [full article]
Terrorism and the African Nations Cup, By Gideon Rachman
I felt slightly guilty when I read one of the comments on my last post, accusing me of wasting time on trivialities like football, on a blog that is meant to be about world affairs. Well, the two subjects have just merged in a rather tragic fashion – with the attack on the the Togo team bus at the Africans Nations Cup in Angola, which left three people dead.
With astonishing insensitivity, the Angolan government put pressure on Togo to stay in the tournament, promised to “guarantee” their safety. They even put it about that it was partly the Togo team’s own fault for travelling by coach rather than air. [full article]