Tag Archives: Rice

Who Goes First-Israel Or Hamas?

Hamas welcomed the European Union call for Israel to end the Gaza Strip blockade since it is apparent “the policy of isolation of Gaza strip has failed at both the political and humanitarian level.” The EU also asked President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to engage in dialogue with Hamas. Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesperson for Hamas, insisted his organization was prepared to enter into negotiations with Israel for a cease fire if the blockade would be lifted. A spokesperson for the Israel Foreign Ministry, Arye Mekel, responded by claiming, “if they stop the rocket fire at Israel towns, we will stop our steps which are meant to halt this daily rocket fire.”

Secretary Rice is making arrangements to meet with Prime Minister Olmert while both are on a trip to Japan in order to express her concerns about reports of a major Israel invasion of Gaza. In theory, both sides have agreed to meet the demands of their opponents if only the other side makes the first step. Perhaps, the European Union could serve as a neutral ground for both sides to come together and trasform words into actions. The Annapolis Conference in December made a terrible mistake by not including Hamas since it was an opportunity to make that organization match its rhetoric with reality.

Hormuz Incident–A Mistake Or A Provocation?

Reports of Iranian speed boats darting around US vessels, of Americans ready to blast them out of the water, and President Bush taking his normal high road of rhetoric created a moment of anxiety in an area overwhelmed by anxiety. Secretary of State Condi Rice said the incident “was provocative, and that kind of provocation is danerous.” In Iran, Gholam Ali Haddad-Adel, speaker of the pariament responded to the incident by claiming “its psychological and(a) propaganda campaign wich is continuously” conducted against Iran. However, Iran’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement to downplay the entire episode. Mohammad -Ali-Hosseini said: “This happens between two sides every once and a while, and after the two sides identify each other, the issue is resolved.”

There is obvious tension between Iran and the Bush administration. Perhaps, it might be logical to have quiet discussions in private between the two nations in which some ground rules are established when such incidents occur. They might even explore the possibillity of a hotline to avoid escalating minor incidents into major ones.

Calm Before The Storm Atmosphere In Kenya

The situation in Kenya has become somewhat calm after the fury of outraged Kenyans ripped apart the nation in reaction to the attempt by President Kibaki to steal an election. Over 300 people are dead, including dozens of children, many of whom died trying to get out of a burning church. Several mediators are in Kenya led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. After talking with these negotiators, President Kibaki has finally indicated he is open to the possibility of a coalition government. However, the president made clear, violence against his government must cease and his opponents should seek legal redress in the courts if they disagree with the election results. He flatly rejected the idea put forth by opposition leader, Raila Odinga, for a three month interim government. Kibaki, apparently strongly influenced by Tutu, said, “We would accept even another election as long as the Constitution is followed. If the courts decide it, we would accept that.”

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expressed the feelings of most diplomats when he said: “Were the elections rigged? I think so.” Many observers are expressing a desire for Secretary of Rice to fly to Kenya and use her influence over Kibaki who has close ties with the Bush administration.

Benazir Bhutto Charges Musharraf Aided Taliban Regrouping

Benazir Bhutto, leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party(PPP) charged that President Musharraf is partially responsible for the resurgence of the Taliban in areas of her nation as well as in Afghanistan. She claims the Taliban were crushed by American forces in Afghanistan and when they fled to safety in Pakistan, they were able to regroup. “They could not do that unless there is some support from the government or the intelligence.” She is casting her candidacy as the main force capable of halting Pakistan’s movement toward a government in which fundamentalist leaders exert control. Bhutto charges President Musharraf as using the fundamentalist militants in order to gain victory in the January election. She believes only her triumph in the election will result in a government dedicated to moving Pakistan out of medieval thinking and called for major education reforms of the religious madrassas schools. Her political ally, Nawaz Sharif’s petition to stand for public office was rejected by the Musharraf government.

Secretary of State Rice calls for “free and fair elections” in which all parties have equal access to the media, Benazir Bhutto is charging Musharraf with seeking to empower religious fundamentalist, and opposition leaders are denied the right to run for public office. There is a confusing mixture of hope and fear in the midst of an election in which America’s supposed ally is linking his fortunes to cooperating with religious fundamentalist leaders who support the Taliban, an enemy of the United States. A triumph by Musharraf whose fortunes are linked with those of George Bush would only result in aiding forces which are hostile to American interests. Does anyone wonder how the United States wound up in this situation? Is there a coherence in American foreign policy is a question the American people might well pose?

Mission Impossible For Mission Accomplished Man!

Today marks the beginning of the Annapolis conference which supposedly will deal with issues related to resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict. After seven years of doing very little about this issue, President Bush is now claiming a great interest in resolving a complex problem. His failure to push hard on the Israel government in order to obtain an agreement regarding establishing key issues on the agenda or to clarify a timetable to attain goals has placed a damper on the meeting. The Saudi foreign minister has already indicated he won’t even shake the hands of Israel representatives. Part of the problem in accomplishing anything is the president’s lack of knowledge regarding historical developments in the region or understanding the desires and needs of Palestinian leaders. According to Flynt Everett, who was a key advisor to Condi Rice, he was at a 2002 meeting at which Bush stated that once Palestine had a democratic government its leaders would cease making a fuss about borders or its desire for control of east Jerusalem.

The reality of this conference is the inability of President Abbas to make broad decisions since Hamas controls Gaza and the lack of political leverage for Prime Minister Olmert who confronts hostile groups in West Bank settlers and religious leaders. The prospect is a more likely wonderful time for photographs of smiling people, but it is doubtful if Bush will proclaim “Mission Accomplished” after this conference.

Annapolis Fiasco Looming? Or, Annapolis Success?

The United States government has issued invitations to next week’s Annapolis meeting to Saudi Arabia and Syria who are asked to join the 40 nations attending. The assembled representatives will meet on November 26 for a dinner, they will spend November 27 working on something, and then conclude on November 28. President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority says his attempts to develop a plan of action for the meeting with Prime Minister Olmert of Israel have failed and his spokesperson, Imer Hammad says it would be a “miracle” if anything worthwhile emerged from the conference. The US State Department insists, “the parties will get to Annapolis in good shape, prepared to accomplish what it is that they set out for themselves.”

One can only wonder on which planet Secretary of State Rice is living. Representatives from 40 nations are arriving at a meeting which has no agenda, no goals, in order to talk about something that no one agrees wishes discussed. The Palestinians are infuriated they are coming to a meeting without a preliminary document which at least outlines general directions of what might be accomplished, and Prime Minister Olmert insists the conference is for a discussion, not for the purposes of reaching any agreements. An observer might well conclude this is simply a typical Bush incompetence in action.

Annapolis Peace Conference: Did You Ever Get The Feeling You Wanted To Go, Stay, Go?

The Bush legacy of posturing defiance at the world, insulting nations, and creating chaos is not readily shaken off when it comes to organizing peace meetings. Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak is urging inclusion of Syria in the upcoming Annapolis conference, but the Syrian government has limited trust or confidence that anything worthwhile will come from a Bush initiative. According to its Ambassador to the United States, Imad Moustapha, “We don’t seriously believe that this is a peace conference that will lead to anywhere. Forgive us if we deduce that this is only about a photo opportunity and about people in Washington D.C. telling their electorate, ‘look don’t accuse us of only starting wars, we’re working for peace in the Middle East.” Syria wants the issue of return of the Golan Heights placed on the agenda but Secretary Rice has stated that only the topic of Palestine-Israel issues will be discussed.

It may be unfortunate, but the prospects for the Bush administration actually achieving fruitful talks about Middle Eastern issues may never occur. There has been too much Bush rhetoric about evil nations and refusal to exert pressure on Israel to make changes for peace. President Abbas of the Palestinians is urging that an outcome of the meeting must be firm goals with timelines, but Prime Minister Olmert refuses to accept such outcomes. Perhaps, the Syrian ambassador is really on target– is the only rationale for meeting to provide another photo op?

Thousands Of Pakistan Lawyers Assaulted By Police

After President Musharraf imposed martial law on Pakistan, over 2,500 lawyers gathered for a protest march in Lahore. As they began to move onto the streets, they were met by hundreds of police who charged at them swinging batons and beating them to the ground before at least 250 were dragged off and sent to police stations. Musharraf claims he is a supporter of democracy, but due to terrorist attacks on northwest Pakistan, the emergence of political parties challenging his rule, and the expected negative decision the Pakistan Supreme Court would hand down on his illegal election, the leader of Pakistan decided to forgo his supposed belief in democracy in order to retain power. At least 67 supporters of Benazir Bhutto already have been arrested along with dozens of other critics of his policies. Musharraf says elections will be held in a year– at least that is his present view. Secretary of State Rice responded to his action by saying, “We believe the best path for Pakistan is to quickly return to a constitutional path and then to hold elections.”

The actions of Musharraf merely illustrate the continued failure of Bush foreign policy ventures. It becomes increasingly impossible to identify a single example in which his foreign policy has done anything but lead to the emergence of terrorism and chaos in the world. Rice hints at suspension of aid to Pakistan, but will she really go through with such action if there are renewed militant attacks in the northwest region of the country? In one way or another, the Bush gamble to give Musharraf unqualified support increasingly appears to be a major foreign policy mistake.

Turkish Soldiers Freed In Kurdistan

In a bid to demonstrate cooperation with nations attending the International Conference in Ankara, the outlawed Kurdish group, the PKK, announced today there were freeing the eight Turkish soldiers who had been captured and held hostage. “At 7:30 a.m., the eight Turkish prisoners were delivered to a delegation from the Kurdish region, which also included members of the Democratic Security Party,” said PKK spokesperson Abdul Chudahi. Th freeing of the prisoners came as Iraq began to crack down on Kurdish groups which have been assisting the PKK in its militancy against Turkey.

It is ironic that American Secretary of State Rice played a role in working with regional nations, including Iran, in this effort to ease tensions as 100,000 Turkish troops were massed on the border of Kurdistan. Instead of the normal Bush rhetoric about evil doers, Rice worked with evil doers in in order to lessen tension and achieve a compromise solution. There were no demands for “preconditions” which is so typical of President Bush before he will even talk with groups he considers to be enemies, but all parties plunged into the task of negotiation and compromise. Is this a formula to use in Afghanistan or Iraq or for Israel in its conflict with Palestinians?

Iraq President-Inviation Not Sent To Mideast Meeting

President Jalai Talabani of Iraq will not be attending the upcoming regional ministers that began yesterday in Istanbul. “He is not invited, and he is not coming,” said Iraq’s Ambassador to Anakara, Sabah Omran. Talabani did tell Turkey’s Foreign Minister, Ali Babacan, that he wanted to attend the meeting and was given a nod indicating he would be invited, but nothing came of the nod. Secretary Rice, permanent members of the Security Council and neighboring countries will be present.

Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey is caught between opposing forces as he attempts dealing with the Kurdish issue. Nationalist forces within his own country are flouting the banner of violence while he knows war might doom his nation’s entry into the European Union. The ineffectiveness of Iraq’s government to handle any form of insurgency adds to problem of conflict resolution. To mtake maters worse, Kurdistan’s leader, Massoud Barzani talks defiantly one day about not surrendering a single Kurd insurgent and the next day he is pontificating how he wants friendship with Turkey.