The World Next Week podcast is up. Bob McMahon and I discussed Pakistan’s Republic Day, the BRICS summit in Durban, South Africa, and the Arab League summit in Doha.
- Pakistanis celebrate Republic Day tomorrow, March 23. This year they have something to celebrate—last Saturday Pakistan’s civilian government completed its five-year term, a first for a country in which the military routinely ousts elected governments. An interim government has taken over, and in May, Pakistanis will go to the polls to elect a new government. Former president and army chief of staff Pervez Musharraf plans to return to Pakistan to contest the election. Washington will be following the Pakistani campaign closely because its results will go a long way in shaping the future of U.S.-Pakistani relations.
- The BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) will meet in Durban, South Africa next week for the fifth BRICS summit. The BRICS account for 40 percent of the world’s population and 20 percent of world economic output, but they continue to struggle to find a collective identity. That’s because they share little in common beyond a collective desire to have more say in global politics. Talk at previous summits about creating a joint development bank that would provide an alternative to the World Bank remains just that, talk.
- The Arab League is meeting in Doha, Qatar for its annual summit meeting. Arab League secretary general Nabil al-Araby says that the summit will be limited to a small set of issues, most notably Syria and Palestine. Syria’s membership in the Arab League was suspended in 2011 because Syrian President Bashar al-Assad failed to abide by an Arab peace plan to end fighting in the country. Earlier this month, the Arab League said it would give Syria’s membership to the Syrian opposition, the Syrian National Coalition, provided that it forms a provisional government. The Syrian National Coalition just this week selected a prime minister, Ghassan Hitto. No word yet, though, on whether he will be taking a seat in Doha.
- Bob’s Figure of the Week is $10 billion. My Figure of the Week is Nicos Anastasiades. As always, you’ll have to listen to the podcast to find out why.
For more on the topics we discussed in the podcast check out:
Pakistani elections: Reuters reports on Pakistan’s May 11 elections and current conditions in the country. The New York Times discusses the historic significance of the transfer of power. The Guardian covers frontrunner candidate Nawaz Sharif and his party’s creation of a public transit system in Lahore. Foreign Affairs analyzes the influence of the Pakistani army and the potential for a coup.
BRICS summit in South Africa: South Africa has an official website for the summit with press releases and speech transcripts. CFR has an interview with Martin Wolf on the BRICS’ international relevance. The Financial Times reports on current plans for a BRICS development bank. The New York Times covers the 2012 summit’s failure to found the bank.
Arab League summit in Doha: Al-Jazeera reports on the Arab League’s offer of membership to the Syrian opposition. AFP reports on Israeli president Shimon Peres’s call for the Arab League to directly intervene in Syria. CFR has a Backgrounder on the Arab League and a discussion of last year’s summit in Baghdad.