According to news reports, the Obama Administration has a new proposal to cope with the issue of construction in Israeli settlements. Israel would “halt the construction of new neighborhoods but could continue building in existing settlements….” The idea is that Israel would refrain from any construction outside current settlement boundaries. If there is construction only within existing settlements, there would be no American condemnations. Read more »
After the death of Muammar al Gaddafi, Administration spokesmen and those journalists who pretty much take dictation from them have been triumphant. This was, they have said, final proof of the exquisite brilliance of Obama policy in Libya (despite the “howling” of critics, to quote David Ignatius). Read more »
The viciousness of the Iranian regime toward Iranians of the Baha’i faith was displayed again today in the sentencing of seven Baha’i educators to years in prison.
They are professors and officials involved in Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE). BIHE is an online university created for Baha’i citizens who have been denied the opportunity to study at Iran’s universities. In today’s Iran, creating those educational opportunities is a crime—indeed, the crime of “membership in illegal groups with the intention to commit crimes against Iran’s national security.” Read more »
The United States should begin now to negotiate free trade agreements with Tunisia and Egypt.
The two cases are quite different in complexity and market size. Egypt has a population of eighty million while Tunisia’s is only ten million and very much oriented toward Europe, with which it already has an FTA. A small economy like Tunisia’s makes for a faster negotiating process, just the kind that the United States Trade Representative’s office likes, and is unlikely to arouse much opposition in Congress. Negotiations with Egypt would be long and difficult. Read more »
Israel’s swap of roughly one thousand prisoners in exchange for Gilad Shalit demonstrates the extremely difficult choices any decent country faces when dealing with governments or terrorist groups that hold human life cheap. Whatever one’s view of Israel’s decision to make this swap, it is worth noting that Israel is exchanging prisoners–not changing its policies toward terrorism. Read more »
What does one make of organizations that wish to see George W. Bush behind bars—but have never expressed similar sentiments about Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, or Hassan Nasrallah?
Those organizations would be Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, which just this week asked Canada to try to prosecute former president Bush “for his role in authorizing the torture of detainees.” They issued their statements now because Mr. Bush is soon to visit Canada again. The HRW press release is entitled “Canada: Don’t Let Bush Get Away With Torture.” Read more »
The military dictatorship in Burma has long been one of the world’s most oppressive. Efforts to bring some thaw, even a slight political opening, were repeatedly made during the Bush Administration and with the personal support of the president and Mrs. Bush. But little or nothing was achieved. Read more »
Today’s explosive news of an Iranian plot to commit an act of terror in Washington, DC should put Iran back at the top of our foreign policy agenda. As the Washington Post stated, the indictment is for “an elaborate terrorist plot backed by factions of the Iranian government,” namely the Quds Force—the part of the Revolutionary Guards charged with acts of terrorism. Read more »
Yousef Nadarkhani is a Muslim-born Christian pastor who faces a death sentence in Iran because he converted to Christianity. His case has aroused a wave of international condemnation, and that may be enough to save his life. He was sentenced to death, but higher authorities in Tehran appear to be backing away from that in the face of universal criticism. This may not, even so, be enough to save him from additional imprisonment. He has already been in jail for two years. The delay in execution could, in fact, reflect instead the time the ayatollahs are taking to pressure him to recant his faith and “return” to Islam. Read more »
Pressure Points tracks developments in the Middle East and democratization and human rights issues globally.