Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Climate Change, Whose responsibility?

There have been attempts to curb environment degradation through international treaties like Kyoto treaty, which in most cases has failed to reach its expected targets.
Environmental degradation is now taking place in every part of the world because of rising level of industrialisation and urbanisation which in most cases remain unplanned to meet environmental demands.

As for governments – of poor and rich countries alike- they consider the economic cost or rather benefit from giving priority to the environment over economic needs. Poor governments are ready to destroy natural habitat for projects like dams or to facilitate investments from foreign companies without obliging them to respect the environment where they carry their activities. In many poor countries there aren’t strict measures about such things as traffic pollution or inadequate housing. But despite all this, the bulk of pollution comes from emerging industrialised countries like China and India whose concern is to lay solid economic infrastructure and to meet the current demands of their population, leaving the issue of the environment for another day.

The future of the planet is everybody's responsibility, rich and poor. The earth can sustain larger population if its resources are managed wisely. We can preserve the earth resources making them enough for current and future populations when we can live up to the fact that the earth has enough for everyone's need and not to everyone's greed. Moderation and sustainable growth for the basics and not for extravagance are the key for maintaining a healthy life on earth where the fight should be for mutual care and assistance and not a race for superiority even at the level of appearance and possessions just to make your neighbour envious. Even the current population can turn the earth into a waste land if there is no sustainable preservation at all levels.

The solutions remain with individuals of all sections of any society who should do their best to use their personal things with reasonable limits and to put pressure on their governments to adjust their economic and social needs to their environmental concerns.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

DR Congo Presidential Election: A New Hope for Political stability?

Successful presidential election with no fraud accusations and general acceptance of the results can bring political stability to this country that is torn apart by civil war and corruption. A country of such a magnitude, when stable, can bring huge investment thanks to its natural resources. But DR Congo people will benefit from it if the elected president succeeds in tackling issues like corruption and bringing national reconciliation for durable peace.

Dr Congo will also be a success story if investing companies don't consider its mines a milking cow without consideration for the local people who should taste the fruit of their country. In view of its size, it should also enjoy friendly relations with its multiple country neighbours whose borders should be for mutual co operations and not a door for armed groups to hit and run.

Political stability can become a true reality when, among other things, displaced people running from war finally find a stable homeland where they can enjoy have a normal life, instead of continuing to live under the constant fear of attacks from armed groups loyal to one faction or the other.

The presidential election in DR Congo is just the first step of the miles this country has to run to find its place among stable and prosperous countries. It is just a day event. But what matters is what comes next without disappointing the Congolese people and the international community that stood behind them for a cease-fire and for organising historic presidential elections whose final result is awaited with excitement and for assessment.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Can UN Treaty on Arms Sale Control Succeed?

Arms trade is hard to control as long as there are borders they slip through. It is like the thousands of measures taken to stop drug trafficking and human smuggling, to cite just a few examples. There were countries that faced arms sale ban like Liberia. But this didn't stop the conflict. Fighters find their sources through private arms dealers. If governments refuse to sell heavy weapons to countries involved in wars, there are other traders ready to sell at least light weapons to the parties needing them. There is also secretive arms sale by some governments as there are other governments that arm groups.

A UN treaty on the international trade in weapons will have little success as long as there are conflicts in strategic regions of the world like the Middle East. There are governments that support armed groups like Iran supporting Hezbullah. This will continue to receive arms through the borders with Syria. In past conflicts, there were arms scandals like Irangate involving US military. This means arms will continue to reach their recipients despite the UN treaty either for lucrative or political reasons.

Arms sale is a lucrative and secretive business. It is the big nations like the USA, Russia that set the tone for arms deal through their wide market monopoly in this domain. Arms sale control remains difficult, as there are political and economic considerations that regulate it. It is a common fact that there is an arms race between many states at the level of production, acquisition and sale. It is a part of their economic activities and defence strategy. Many countries try to acquire as many arms as possible to confront a current situation or just to store them in case of needing to defend themselves or to start an attack. The more things get worse, the more there is a need for arms.

When countries become open about their arsenal and its origin, maybe, arms sale will be traced and measures will be taken. But as there is national sovereignty not allowing ,say, ships sailing between two nations to be searched in international waters and as long as there are miles and miles of unguarded borders around the world, arms will always find their destinations falling in the hands of sanctioned governments, armed groups and organised criminals alike.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

African Heads of States, a Prize for Successful Leadership. Is it Enough?

Africa is among the most corrupt and poorest continents. Many regimes live off the poverty and ordeal of the people they subject to their power rather than being at their service. Such regimes consider themselves the sole owners of the country and they should have a high pay for the realisations of any project for the rest of the inhabitants. They indirectly become businessmen negotiating how much they can get from a project and not how beneficial it can be for their countries. The most famous dictator in Africa was the late president Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, known today as DR Congo. During his rule he amassed vast fortune while the country remained in economic hardship despite its mineral and natural riches.

Ironically, many heads of states in Africa have a small salary - compared to that of western heads of states – not exceeding $US20,000. Yet they enjoy high luxury along with their friends and families. To make a comparison, when former French President François Mitterrand died he left no fortune behind him. He simply died in his apartment although he ruled France for 14 years.

Concerning a $5M prize for Africa's most effective head of state that is being launched by one of the continent's top businessmen and UK-based mobile phone entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim sounds laudable but alone it is unlikely to make Africa a better place.

Africa’s problems aren’t just about a particular head of state but about the regime he represents. A president can be assured about his future through such a prize, but those working around him also should have clean hands. As corruption is entrenched in many African countries, it remains hard to see the effect of a prize if some heads of states find out of calculation they could get more than a $5m prize by holding to power and having directly their share from their countries wealth through embezzlement and appropriation.

One condition I suggest for this prize is that candidates heads of states should first reveal their personal wealth inside and outside their countries before assessing their political achievements.

What can make heads of states work harder is when there’s full democracy in their countries and they have a limited term to govern, preferring at the end of their term(s) the popular high esteem they can have to the figures they can receive from their bank account.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Face Transplant

Face transplant has moved from fiction – as it was seen in movies “Face/off” and “Mission Impossible” to a mission possible.

Face transplant should be seen as a new medical revolution although it is still at the pioneering stage. The first partial transplants in France and China have proved to be a success. Without the bold first surgeries which were started in the 20th centuries, medical care wouldn’t have reached its current development.
There have been transplants of arms as well as internal organs like hearts, so why shouldn’t be the same for faces.

The medical care of the human body still needs more research as there are still chronic diseases. But face transplant should be seen as another giant step in medicine. There should be no ethical concerns as long as there are acquiescent donors. The recipients will have a chance to have a normal life showing a normal face instead of masking their damaged one or living in hiding to avoid embarrassing stares and reactions.

After all face transplant isn’t as controversial as cloning as here we are dealing with a totally new person coming to the world with social and ethical implications. All the recipient needs is continuous and close medical check-up as well as psychological adjustment as it is like acquiring a new identity.

May be one day we may hear of head transplant. This sounds as a rare possibility but many aspects of science fiction years ago have become part of our daily life

Israel-Hezbullah War, Admission of War Geneva Conventions Violation

The full account of the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah will take time to unfold. Israel has for the first time admitted it used controversial phosphorus shells during fighting against Hezbollah in Lebanon in July and August. There are accusations that both warring parties used cluster bombs and other weapons in civilian areas contrary to Geneva conventions on war. The surviving victims are left to cope with their ordeal, especially the Lebanese who lost their loved ones and their homes.

This war showed its futility. It achieved little for both sides, except propaganda victory for Hezbollah and deep questioning for Israel army about its inability to have successful tactics to end Hezbollah as a military and political force in Lebanon.

It is for history that we should know the different military means and weapons used in this war by these sides and their origins. But on the ground, there should be a look-ahead how to make the whole region a place for peaceful living.

This war shouldn’t be used just as a commemoration for those who fell victims, but as an insight in how mutual hatred can lead to excessive measures in a world that gives importance to political calculations that make it just vocal without the long arms to change the course of events.

The war ended. It doesn’t make sense to cry over spilt milk when too much blood was spilt for differences that could have been settled diplomatically before and not after the event.

The hope is that the mess left in Lebanon, political and material will be cleared diplomatically while the country is being cleared from the rubbles resulting from the past confrontations and attacks as it should be cleared from the mines and cluster bombs still left as a booby traps.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Budapest, Riot or Commemoration?

If the brutality really took place in Budapest to which the demonstrators were subjected, it seems that history is repeating itself in a country that fought for decades to dismantle despotic communist regimes. Just as the demonstrators were crashed by the communist army 50 years ago, the same happened to demonstrators in free Hungary.

It sounds queer that in Europe that should be a model for freedom, brutality still take place. The old guard mentality seems to be still hovering over dealing with public unrest using indiscriminate methods to disperse –be it hooligans or demonstrators.

Today Budapest is calm can mean that the Soviet style can easily put uprising to an end, contrary to previous incidents in Liverpool and Paris which took weeks to end.

The question remains if excessive force is justified in a country that has become an EU member, bound by its human rights values.

Earth Future and Future Affluent Population

The worry about the future of the planet is more about the current threatening political differences between antagonist ideologies than the probability of its resources dwindling. A nuclear war at the global level can turn the whole earth into dust making life impossible for millions of years. An ecological disaster can be overcome by human efforts to end it and by letting nature do its repair work in the long or short run. Consumption can be regulated. If more and more people are persuaded to eat moderately and healthily and if they are persuaded to consume products that are environment friendly, the spectre of excessive consumption can be dealt with rationally.

Concerning the WWF's Living Planet Report which depicts an apocalyptic view of the earth in 30 years time, it sounds more alarmist and prognostic than a no u-turn fact. In 2056, it still looks unlikely that all the earth population will reach the living standards in UK. The majority of third world countries are still struggling to provide just the basic needs for their populations, let alone luxury and excessive consumption.

The planet can be more at danger from systematic destruction of the environment to meet the needs of current rich countries whose lucrative businesses use the raw materials of poor countries, which in most cases yield to the fluctuations of the markets. Some poor countries should have their share of responsibility in wasting the earth resources by being tempted by the cash they get from greedy business that excessively exploit their natural and mineral resources for handy cash. Such countries, plagued with corruption and mismanagement, make a mess of the revenues they get.

The future of the planet is everybody's responsibility, rich and poor. The earth can sustain larger population if its resources are managed wisely. We can preserve the earth resources making them enough for current and future populations when we can live up to the fact that the earth has enough for everyone's need and not to everyone's greed. Moderation and sustainable growth for the basics and not for extravagance are the key for maintaining a healthy life on earth where the fight should be for mutual care and assistance and not a race for superiority even at the level of appearance and possessions just to make your neighbour envious. Even the current population can turn the earth into a waste land if there is no sustainable preservation at all levels.

Monday, October 23, 2006

US Mid-term Congressional Elections & Iraq

The situation is in Iraq is worsening partly because of the way it is managed politically and militarily. The Iraqi security forces still need more training & equipment as well as cleansing from insurgence sympathisers. The US should open dialogue with Iran, which is religiously and geographically close to the Iraqi Shiaas. It also should take Syria into account which has borders with Iraq. The US should succeed in persuading Iran & Syria that the situation in Iraq should be dealt with separately despite its worsening diplomatic relations with them. If Iraq's borders aren't secure, they will remain open for insurgents who prefer armed struggle to national reconciliation under US military presence in Iraq.

For the US mid-term elections, the situation in Iraq will be exploited by both the Republicans and the Democrats. The Republicans will play on the chord of national security and interests around the world, which for them remain fragile as long as terrorists are roaming around the world, supported by fanatic groups and regimes. The Democrats will try to pinpoint the negative results of the Bush administration’s campaign in Iraq. For Bush critics, the war has been longer and more costly than expected in term of human losses and material efforts.

But the elections can bring surprises despite the growing pressure for US withdrawal from Iraq. George Bush Sr lost the election in 1996 to Democrat Bill Clinton despite his administration success in evicting Saddam from Kuwait with little damages compared to the current situation. In 2000 George Bush Jr was elected although the Democrats were popular under Clinton’s administration. In 2004, he was re-elected despite the mounting criticism of Iraq invasion.

What can decide the next mid-term elections is the state of the US economy and the way ordinary Americans fair in their daily lives. Sometimes or rather more often, it is the popularity of the candidates that decides the outcome of such elections and not the parties for which they stand. So let's wait and see.

Expulsion of UN envoy in Sudan

The expulsion of Mr Pronk by the Sudanese government has no basis as he was exercising his right of free speech in his blog, which isn't an official document. Mr Pronk's personal opinions in his blog on the situation in Darfur shouldn't be used as a pretext to delay negotiations over a permanent solution in this region where any further delay means the continuation of the suffering of its entire population, part of which is still displaced. Another is living in very difficult conditions, whose survival depends on international help rather on the Sudanese Gt which sends just troops to fight armed organisations opposed to its policies in Darfur region.

The Sudanese Gt is using this as a pretext as it doesn't agree with the UN on the way the Darfur situation should be resolved. As it refuses UN peace keeping forces there, it is apparent that in essence it doesn't want any form of UN presence in Darfur or Sudan for this particular problem including that of Mr Pronk, its representative.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Kofi Annan's Legacy

The only thing Kofi Annan will be remembered by is his being the first black African to be the Secretary General of the United Nations. But this organisations has had many shortcomings with other precedent General Secretaries. Many resolutions were passed without finding their way to implementation. The UN should be accountable only through the Security Council whose permanent members bear responsibility for many current situations in the world through their vetoes or conspiracy of silence.

As any UN General Secretary must first be approved by the Security Council permanent members, Kofi Annan should be judged on how effective he was in relation to currents international crises that he inherited like the Middle East crisis or those that came about during his term like the Iraq and Iran crises.

His being outspoken on many issues isn't enough. The UN needs teeth to enforce its policies. Statements are easy to make even by members of the public who are inexperienced in politics.

World Top Ten Polluted Cities

From the top ten polluted cities in the world, it seems that pollution and economic deprivation goes hand in hand. What is striking is the polluted cities in India and China, two countries with a population exceeding one billion each. But sometimes ironically economic affluence causes more pollution through polluting consumptions like vehicles and plastic bags. In rich countries we can have apparently clean cities, but the air remains toxic due to polluting elements coming from economic activities that should be far from densely populated areas

When a city is teeming with a predominantly poor population that can hardly make both ends meet, environment concerns is given the lesser priority. Any piece of land is seen for lucrative buildings and not for creating a green space that can invigorate the lungs of the city.

Environmentally clean cities depends on good planning concerning population distribution, the adequate economic activities and above all civic sense that can make the task of the local and regional authorities easy.

Putin Joking about the virility of Israeli President

It seems that some world leaders don't learn from the mistakes of their counterparts. It was in Moscow G8 Summit that PM Blair and President Bush were overheard speaking about Hezbollah derogatively. In a similar incident, Russia's President Vladimir Putin has been overheard joking about the virility of his Israeli counterpart, who is accused of multiple rape.

Mr Putin as a former member of the KGB must be aware that whatever a prominent personality does is overwatched. This reminds of a statement by former Soviet President Gorbatchev in which he said that when he had to talk in private to his wife they went to the garden because inside their official house was wiretapped.

Concerning the joke it can be read both ways. I see that Putin was joking at the Israeli President himself since he uses his might in sex rather in something else, abusing his authority and the weakness of his victims. Whatever, political leaders are expected to be tact in their moves. As celebrities the world press is ready to catch any mild bluff by them to make of it a scoop and a hot debate.

After all Putin wasn’t speaking officially behind a microphone for the whole world to listen. As a person having a personal chat he is free to have his say. No one has the right to interfere with him even contributors to BBC WHYS like you and me.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Iraq Failing Security Plan

The US looks stuck in Iraq as its different security measures - including the pursuit, rounding and killing of prominent insurgents like Al Zarqawi- failed to curb the daily violence.

For complete stability Iraqis need to reach national consensus on running Iraq at governmental levels, without the exclusion of any section.

Any Iraqi government will need to face the hard task of maintaining good relations with the US on one hand, and US opponent regimes in the region, namely Iran and Syria.

The US should use a new strategy for a smooth transfer of national security matters to the Iraqis who should agree on a system of government for durable internal stability and peaceful relations with neighbouring countries, especially Iran and Syria which are likely to exploit any weakness in the Iraqi leadership for their own advantage. Iran & Syria are unlikely to engage in curbing violence in Iraq under US occupation as any cooperation with the US will be viewed as yielding to its pressure.

When Iraq becomes internally stable with a credible government inside and outside the country, the US and the Iraqis themselves will have little need of Iran and Syria to stabilise the country. These countries can become good partners if they choose not to interfere with each other’s affair to form bilateral alliance to weaken one side to the advantage of the other.

African Union, Unity & Discord

The African Union is a forum with too much rhetoric but little is put in practice. Many countries which are members of this union are at odd with one another with a history of accusing one another of instigating internal trouble like Sudan and Chad.
There are many potentially rich countries like DR Congo and Sudan but they are under abject poverty because of internal struggles.

The Dream of the African Union to make of African States united states is much more utopia than real as there are still despotic leaders like Mugabe of Zimbabwe or Kaddafi who keep sticking to power without giving their people the power to choose.

The African Union will have little chances to make African countries united as they have their particular alliances outside the African continent mainly with the EU and the USA.

The African Union will be a force when internal wars, dictatorship and corruption at the political and economic level become a matter of the past.

The case of the Darfur shows that AU can't solve radical problems. Non African forces like the US and the EU still have their say in the shaping of events in Africa as African countries tacitly don't want to have an African superpower like South Africa or Nigeria dictating to them what to do.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Will Iran & Syria help appease Iraq?

Iran and Syria will take advantage of the situation in Iraq for their own account. they will be reluctant to cooperate with the Iraqi government, which they see as implemented by the US, to help it put an end to violent trouble in Iraq.

As long as the insurgent constitute more threats to Iraqi government and to US interests, they won't risk jeopardizing their image in the Arab and Muslim world to cooperate especially in terms of military and security matters with the US and Iraq. For Iran and Syria the situation in Iraq is the doing of the US, which since its invasion of Iraq has worsened its relations with them. It has brought both to the UN Security Council for any possible forcible sanctions.

The US will need to replace its stick policy with them by offering them the carrot they can find appetizing to switch to the US side in its fight of violence in Iraq whose instigators can easily find refuge in these countries without risk of being handed out to the Iraqi authorities or the US military.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

US Population is 300 Million

USA multiracial population having reached 300 million will be more beneficial for it as an economic superpower. One advantage is that it isn't under the threat of an ageing population contrary to some countries like Japan which are struggling to keep their population under reasonable increase.

This increase can have repercussion on racial balance in the country. The white Anglo-Saxons or Americans of European origins will no longer constitute the majority of the US population as there are more children from new immigrants especially the Hispanic.

The USA is the third largest country in terms of surface as it has the economic infrastructure to sustain its increasing population. The US baby boomers celebrating their sixtieth birthday will leave a new booming generation which needs to keep holding the torch of progress initiated by the first hardworking immigrants who helped the USA to be as dynamic and progressive as it is now.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

UN slaps sanctions on North Korea

N Korea must have been expecting sanctions over its claimed nuclear test as it has been receiving multiple warnings from USA and trading partners like China and Russia. North Korea will have little to lose as its people are accustomed to economic hardship. The NK leaders will feel at ease as they aren't threatened by military actions which are opposed by Russia and China. The sanctions may make NK determined for further nuclear tests exploiting international divisions on how to deal with it.

NK is facing economic hardship and international isolation because of its nuclear tests. Its acquiring nuclear weapons will be dangerous for stability in Asia as it will use it to bully neighbouring countries like South Korea & Japan. As NK is starving for cash to oil its hard economy, it may use its nuclear technology to sell nuclear weapons to regimes ready to ally with it against US power, making world stability fragile. NK should be refrained from its nuclear ambitions by whatever means.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Should the Military Have political Power?

The British army after the Second World War and the emerging of independent states had little involvement in world events. There was the major war with Argentina over the Falklands. This war gave popularity to the British army as well as to the Conservative PM Margaret Thatcher which won the next elections thanks to it.

In 1991, the involvement of the army to liberate Kuwait was hugely popular. It was so because the majority of soldiers quickly returned home. Those who stayed in the Gulf region had monitoring missions, especially checking Saddam’s respect of the air exclusion zones.

But from 2001, the British army has had a new role. It engaged in direct confrontations with the Talibans in Afghanistan. It was among the leading forces that toppled Saddam Hussein from power and took control of southern Iraq. Such involvement was popular. But in recent years, casualties started to rise, coupled with mounting threats of terrorist attacks and the rise of religious extremism in UK itself. The war in Iraq claimed the life of British soldiers, the kidnapped hostages and the civilians on British soil after July 7th deadly attacks. Not to mention public criticism of Tony Blair for being closely allied with George Bush over this war, which made both leaders lose their popularity in the past two years.

Concerning the call by General Sir Richard Dannatt for troops to come home within two years - flatly contradicting the Prime Minister's policy that the military will stay "as long as it takes" should be seen as a precedent in British politics in the modern era. The army doesn’t decide which policy Downing Street should take as there is the defence secretary who is the liaison between the army and the government whose orders should be obeyed. As there is check and balance within the British political system, the continuation or suspension of the British military involvement in Iraq should be decided by a vote in the House of Commons and the unanimity of British government.

For a military of the status of General Sir Richard Dannatt to make such a public statement can cause division in the ranks of the British army opening the gate for dissent among reluctant soldiers to go to the battlefield. It can be used by Al Qaeda and the like as a propaganda to show the failure of the international coalition in Iraq, giving more zeal to their supporters to carry more attacks.

The withdrawal of international forces from Iraq is linked to the geopolitical situation in the region. If UK has to withdraw from Iraq, it will have to review its alliance with the US on their foreign policy in troubled regions in the world, especially in the Middle East. British generals don't normally have a say in their country's foreign policy as their role is to defend the interests of their country inside and outside UK. Generals should refrain from making political statements as there is an elected government which is responsible for state affairs from civilian to military matters.

The situation in Iraq is very problematic. There can be no easy exit for anyone unless full stability is reached and after making sure Iraq won’t remain a backyard for whatever force, especially Iran, to curb the influence of the US and its allies in this turbulent region.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Genocides, Recognition & Denial

Prosecution shouldn’t be linked just to denial of genocides but also to distorting any historical fact. The bill adopted by The French parliament making it a crime to deny that Armenians suffered genocide at the hands of the Turks should be a starting point to criminalise anyone falsifying facts for ideological reasons or giving unsound justifications in defence of any genocide perpetrators.

But France isn’t the only one to have a firm stand on such an issue. Austria jailed British historian David Irving who said that he did not believe Hitler led a campaign to exterminate Jews. If denying the holocaust is considered as crime in many countries, the same should be applied to any form of genocide, especially those that have taken place in the last decades of the 20th century as in Rwanda where more than 200 thousand people were massively killed during the civil war.

We don’t have to look at the distant past to have a glimpse of the extent of atrocities perpetrated by the strong against the weak. In Sudan, there are documented cases of massive killings in Darfur estimated at 200,000. Yet the international community is still struggling to find the logistic and the diplomatic way to put an end to the human suffering in a region potentially rich but made the poorest because of the ongoing tensions between the different rivals.

Past genocides should be set an example to avoid future ones. Concerning the holocaust, there were cases of trial, imprisonment and execution of those who were behind it. There were those in their 80’s who were identified and put on trial for their involvement in the holocaust. But concerning the Armenians genocide, it is up to now dealt with as a historical fact. None of those involved in it has been brought to trial. Denying facts of such magnitude is harmful to the victims and their descendents. It makes light of their suffering. If they can’t have a permanent memorial out of respect for them, they should be referred to from a real point of view. History isn’t poetry. Expressions should be crystal clear to let everyone have a real view of what is inside. What the descendents or relatives of the victims of any sort of genocide need is recognition of painful facts, moral and material support for a full restoration of dignity.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

North Korea Nuke Armament

North Korea regime is trying to emulate powerful countries like USA in armament to defend itself through its oligarchy and personality cult while ignoring the will of the people it is using to “glorify” its ideology, providing them with dreams of prosperity while on the ground the majority still lives under poverty lines. But its strategy is doomed to failure as it doesn’t have the economic structure to sustain a military industry- producing costly nuclear weapons without jeopardizing the welfare of the NK people.

Internally, the NK leaders can subjugate their people through their police state system and making of their leader a sacred personality through personality cult. But they can’t intimidate the international community. They can have their arms. But the world order won’t go their way. There are too many intertwined interests among powerful nations to allow them to offset the current order. The entire world will be watching to curb NK influence, not to foster it.

North Korea is a military power through its presumably possession of sophisticated nuclear missiles of different ranges- short, middle and long. As a US diplomat once put it, "there are missiles for everyone"; that is for neighbouring countries as there are those for distant ones like USA. Ironically, its military “might” is contradicted by its huge economic backwardness. It should take the example of its neighbour South Korea which has become an economic giant in a relatively short time through its openness and being a liberal country. North Korea is isolated because of its isolationist policy. It can also take the example from former Soviet Union, which despite its huge arsenal of military nuclear weapons crumbled.

North Korea will become a real threat if the communist leaders become desperate because of their international isolation and launch a nuclear attack. They have nothing to lose as they took the experience of sacrificing people through their police state system and the complacency to see North Koreans to a large extent suffering from economic hardship due to their policies.

If there is any comparison to be made with Iran (which is set to develop its nuclear program) and NK (which pretends that it has far-reaching nuclear missiles) is that Iran at least has oil resources which contribute to world economy. NK doesn’t have any. All that it has are threats especially, to those exceeding it economically and politically. South Korea will remain a thorn in the side of NK leaders as it shows North Koreans the alternative life they can have if they get rid of their communist regime.

Mark Foley or Political Follies.

Many public figures make fools of themselves by engaging in illicit acts they can't deny. Mark Foley drew trouble on him by chatting erotically with a 16 years old boy. Chatting dirtily on the net or appearing as a child predator is signing irrefutable admission which can be easily and justly exploited by political opponents. Some Politicians do a disgrace to themselves, their party and to the political establishment as a whole by behaving in a low way.

It's bad to see many politicians in the USA engaged in illicit sexual activities. Clinton's adventures with Monica Lewinsky are still fresh in mind. In the 1980's Garry Hart had to withdraw from contest for presidential primaries because of his extramarital affairs. A senator was involved with a young woman whose body was found after exhaustive research. And the list is long. But a politician being accused of paedophilia is the worst of them all.

If scandals continue on such a scale, the voters will lose confidence in their politicians. This is evident in the low turn-out in elections, especially presidential ones which rarely exceeds 50% of the registered voters. The USA needs to refurbish its morality within the political class before preaching to the public the American values as initiated by the Founding fathers.

Removing the Veil on Muslim Women

The call by Jack Straw for removal of the veil has triggered heated debates among Muslims and non- Muslims.

In many Muslim countries, the use of the veil is no longer considered as a must. But in the Gulf States, especially in Saudi Arabia, a woman can’t drive or travel by herself, let alone show her face in public. In this country, this can be accepted as it is part of its traditions. In the West, Muslims are free to practise their religion, but this should not be to the point of their becoming a society within a society. They should adapt to the society as religion script is open to interpretations. Some Muslim scholars aren’t only opposed to Western ways, but also to Muslims leaving their countries to live in it. It is this kind of scholars who make things difficult. In the Quran, there is no script obliging a woman to hide herself from head to toe, showing not a single inch of her skin. The proof is that in Muslim countries from Morocco to Bangladesh, Muslim women have different dresses.

Concerning UK, religious dogma should not prevail. Muslim communities should be open to the society where they live instead of withdrawing from it, looking like refugees or gypsies with no settled homeland. The veil itself can’t guarantee chastity. Paradoxically, it can be a mean for a presumably Muslim woman to have free relations while in public she is covering herself. Some Muslim women, even when wearing a veil can still make use of their eyes to be attractive.

Now France has banned the Hijab, or religious headscarf, in schools and in places of work. If the campaign against Muslim women’s Islamic dress escalates, we may see legislations throughout Europe imposing on them “secular” dress. And it is in the interest of all societies to reach moderation. As in the majority of cultures, it is indecent for a woman to go totally naked in public; it also seems bizarre to see a woman in the street totally covered in a frightening black dress.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Escalating Struggle between Fatah & Hamas

Hamas during its campaign that led it to form a government was selling dreams to its supporters. Now the majority of the population has wakened up to the fact they cannot live on slogans and fiery speeches from Hamas leaders. Hamas should be realistic about its approach to the Palestinian cause. Lip services from its supporters like Iran & Syria have led it nowhere. Battles between rival gangs of Fatah and Hamas will just worsen the situation.

Hamas and Fatah are ideologically opposed. The escalating violence is one consequence of this. The current power struggle can get out of control if the belligerent don’t succeed in finding a viable way-out. It's these inherent differences that in part delayed the setup of the Palestinian state. The battle of interests will continue between them as long as Fattah is internationally recognised while Hamas put the Palestinian issue on a hot rock. The survival of the Palestinians is now linked to the fate of Hamas. As long as Hamas is internationally marginalised, the ordinary Palestinians will be more vocal against Hamas itself through direct clashes with it.

As the situation worsens, this will be advantageous to Israel by trying to weaken Hamas not just internationally but internally as well.

The Palestinians with a divided leadership will suffer most. Abbas Abu Mazzeen the leader of the Palestinian authorities can have diplomatic negotiations that aren’t translated into action. Hamas is having most of diplomatic doors shut at its nose. The needy poor Palestinians caught in the crossfire - literally and metaphorically - between Hamas and Fatah, Hamas and Israel can't get the help they deserve pending on the continuation of Hamas in power.

National reconciliation is needed for the good of all to establish a state on firm grounds.