Saturday, March 27, 2010

Strained US-Israel relations

Joe Biden, the US vice president trip to Israel in early March had been billed as the most significant state visit of the Obama Administration to the country.

But then came an announcement that 1600 new homes were to be built in East Jerusalem. For the Obama and Netanyahu administrations, the expansion of settlements has been cause of serious disagreements and the timing of the announcement – right in the middle of vice president Biden's visit soured the mood between the two allies.

The unexpected rift put the issue of illegal settlements into the headlines. The strong language from the White House was echoed in the US media. The reporting in the Arab world was a little more skeptical – media commentators there are waiting for the American rhetoric to be followed by action.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Iraq: Elections But No Stability

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the start of the Iraq War. In 2003, the architects of the war envisioned that the toppling of Saddam Hussein would lead to the birth of a democratic Iraq. They told us that elections in Iraq would help spread democracy and liberalism across the Middle East, but this could not have been further from the truth.

The Middle East is more chaotic than ever, and the vast majority of its citizens are leaning politically towards Islamic theocracy and not liberal democracy. Iraqis are still searching for stability.

More on the Huffington Post

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Mossad's Little Helpers

The assassination of al-Mabhouh has thrown an unwanted spotlight on the workings of Mossad and its specially trained assassination team, known as a kidon, the Hebrew word for bayonet, something that the Israeli government had not bargained for when the approval to conduct such an operation came directly from the top: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Incidentally, it was also during Mr. Netanyahu’s first term as prime minister in 1997 when a kidon unit of the Mossad bungled the attempted assassination of Khalid Mish’al, the current leader of Hamas, in the streets of Amman in Jordan by injecting a mysterious poison into his ear.

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