International

SAARC: Not on Track

THE recently concluded Kathmandu SAARC summit has not been a very good advertisement for regional unity or cohesion. The 18th SAARC summit was held in the backdrop of renewed tensions between the two most powerful members of the regional grouping, India and Pakistan. The coming to power of the BJP in India and that too with a massive majority has put India’s role in the region under renewed scrutiny. Only one important agreement, relating to energy connectivity was signed and that too at the eleventh hour.

Hoopla over the Berlin Wall

GERMANY marked the 25th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall on November 9 with a great deal of pomp and pageantry. The streets of Berlin were jam packed as crowds gathered to mark the day that led to German reunification. 8000 lighted balloons were released into the night sky with the music of Beethoven playing in the background. In attendance were stalwarts of movements that led to the collapse of the Socialist Bloc, like the Solidarity leader, Lech Walesa. The fall of the wall has been characterised as a triumph of good over evil, of democracy over dictatorship.

Africa: Another Strongman Falls

THE dramatic events that gripped the landlocked African nation of Burkina Faso in the last week of October, has resulted in the exit of its long serving authoritarian ruler, President Blaise Compaore. The 64 year old Compaore, in a foolhardy move, tried to once again tinker with the constitution to indefinitely extend his rule. On October 22, the ruling party suddenly announced that it was proposing to table a bill in the national assembly that would amend Article 27 of the Constitution that would give the president yet another five year term in office.

Turkey: Playing with Fire

FOR the government of Turkey, regime change in Damascus seems to be still the top priority despite the US and its regional allies giving more importance to the fight against the resurgent Sunni extremist groups in the region. The Turkish parliament voted in the first week of October to rubber stamp the government’s decision to allow the deployment of the country’s troops inside Syria and Iraq, if the need arises. The government in Ankara is also demanding the introduction of a “no fly zone” over parts of Syria.

Afghan Political Impasse Ends

AS many Afghanistan watchers had predicted from the outset, a power sharing deal between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, the contenders for the presidency was announced with much fanfare on September 22. Under the deal, Ghani has duly been sworn in as president of the country. Only a week before, Abdullah was threatening that he and his supporters would not recognise the results or recognise Ghani as the democratically elected president, even after the votes were audited by the Afghan Electoral Commission under international supervision.

 

US Prepares for Gulf War III

THE decision by President Barack Obama to order the American military back into action in West Asia following the military advances of the Islamic State (IS) forces and the beheading of three western nationals in the region, could lead to another full scale war in the region. In the third week of September, the US House of Representatives and the Senate voted to give the American president its approval for the plan to train and arm the so-called “moderate” rebel forces in Syria, without even a semblance of a debate.

Cease Fire in Gaza: Inhuman Blockade Continues

DESPITE the open ended truce that came into force in the last week of August, Gaza continues to lie in ruins. On October 12, the international community pledged more than $5 billion for the rebuilding of Gaza. It is estimated that $4 billion is needed just for reconstructing the devastated infrastructure of the enclave. Even before Israel launched its third and most prolonged military assault on Gaza, it had become unlivable. After the earlier Israeli “Operation Cast Lead” against Gaza in 2009, the international community had pledged over $4 billion.

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