As I wrote in this blog earlier today, the ambassador– or “Permanent Representative,” to use the correct UN language–of Syria was recently elected to a position in the UN Special Committee on Decolonization. Read more »
Last week the Castro brothers announced the name of the man who, they said, will succeed Raul Castro when–or if–he retires at the end of the new five-year term as president to which he has just appointed himself.
The name is Miguel Diaz-Canel. He’s an apparatchik in the best Soviet style: thirty years in the Communist Party, starting with its youth groups. He’s not particularly well-known on or off the island, which may have recommended him to the Castros: previous heirs apparent sometimes got too big for their britches and had to be dumped. Of course, Canel may be dumped too, at any moment. He has no power base, and no apparent close ties with the Army and security services–who will be critical once the Castros are dead. The day Raul or Fidel is tired of him will be the day his “elevation” is undone. It will be interesting to see whether, in his new post as vice president, Canel is handed any real responsibilities by the Castros. This much is clear: nothing this man has ever done in his life suggests he believes in freedom, democracy, or human rights–or the Castros would never have selected him. Read more »
It is always a mistake to conclude, after some untoward event at the United Nations, that the bottom has been reached. Just in the past few weeks there have been two new events that suggest there is no bottom.
First, the ambassador of Sudan was elected at the end of January as a Vice-President of the UN’s Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). If this was not bad enough, the President of ECOSOC (Amb. Osorio of Colombia) issued the following organizational statement on February 12: Read more »
Today’s Washington Post reports that
The Obama administration is moving toward a major policy shift on Syria that could provide rebels there with equipment such as body armor and armored vehicles, and possibly military training, and could send humanitarian assistance directly to Syria’s opposition political coalition. Read more »
There must be something in the water over at the State Department that leads successive secretaries of state to decide, seemingly on their first day there, that now is the time for a big new push at a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. Read more »
The London newspaper Al Hayat carried a story on February 21 about the intentions of EU states to support Hamas participation in a Palestinian “national unity government.”
It seems that “the European boycott of the Palestinian Government formed by Hamas after winning the 2006 elections will not be repeated,” according to someone described as a “senior European diplomat.” France and Britain want to relaunch the “peace process,” and this time “on a new basis and without preconditions.” The diplomat is quoted as saying “today there exists an international consensus on the need for the establishment of a Palestinian State….we welcome the entry of Hamas into the PLO and the fact that it accepted the PLO charter.” Read more »
It’s a commonplace to say that sanctions against Iran are tighter than ever and are working. Here’s an example from White House spokesman Jay Carney last Fall: ”We have diplomatic isolation and international isolation that’s unprecedented in history and it’s having a profound impact on both the Iranian economy and the Iranian regime’s internal political structure.” Read more »
It would be far easier to understand Egypt if the trend lines pointed up or down, rather than presenting an immensely complex picture. But consider two groups of issues: relations with Hamas, and respect for human rights.
It was reasonable to assume that a Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt would be very much more accommodating to Hamas than the Mubarak regime had been–and Hamas so assumed. But in the last week we have seen two striking decisions by the Morsi government and the Egyptian military. First, they have once again refused to allow Hamas to open an office in Cairo. The Jerusalem Post reported as follows: Read more »
Pressure Points tracks developments in the Middle East and democratization and human rights issues globally.