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The af pak paradox

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The Af-Pak Paradox


There is a new acronym in the lexicon of Obama administration national security moguls. "AfPak" stands for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The term denotes the administration’s desire to make a unified approach to policy and strategy for these two countries. President Barack Obama correctly views them as the central front of the war on terrorism and — also accurately — sees so many aspects of the strategic problem of the Afghan war playing out in both countries that it is far more useful to consider them intertwined.

Obama entered the White House determined to pursue this conflict, having stated repeatedly that he would reinforce U.S. troops in Afghanistan. He also hinted at a more muscular CIA covert operation in the unacknowledged parallel war across the Pakistani border. Yet last week on the television show Sixty Minutes, Obama stepped back, declaring that there "has to be" an exit strategy for this war.

What’s going on here? Obama just made final decisions based upon the policy review he ordered at the beginning of his administration. He’ll carry this decision to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Strasbourg, France, on April 3. The new president will try to resolve this paradox with European allies, but the contradictions of the new AfPak policy may well doom the enterprise.

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Rebuilding somalia is the real answer

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Gulf News
Published: November 20, 2008, 23:35
Piracy off the coast of Somalia is finally attracting the interest of the international community. The Arab states bordering the Red Sea met yesterday in Cairo to define a plan of action they can adopt. Nato secretary-general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who described piracy yesterday as a "very serious challenge", called for more international action, although he ruled out a land offensive against the pirate bases. American, French, British and Indian naval forces are already active in the region.

Clearly, the short-term solution is for a coordinated international naval force to protect shipping off the Horn of Africa. It should include forces from the major international powers whose ships are being hijacked, as well as from countries from the region who have to bear some responsibility for taking control of their regional problems.

This force would make piracy a lot more difficult and less attractive than it is at present. It could organise convoys, which are more easily protected than individual ships scattered all over the sea. It could put commandos onboard ships so that when small boats appear over the horizon, soldiers are ready to blow them out of the water.

However, the main problem is that the world has ignored the disaster that Somalia has become. The years of terrible civil war have split the state into many small factions, run by warlords and terrorised by their militias. There is no central state, there are no national institutions and commerce has collapsed. The real answer to piracy is to rebuild Somalia, offer the people stability and security, and let them restart their normal lives. That will not be done by the Nato convoys off their coast. It will be done by a determined regional commitment, backed by the United Nations.


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History did not begin with the qassams

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History did not begin with the Qassams

By Amira Hass 
History did not begin with the Qassam rockets. But for us, the Israelis, history always begins when the Palestinians hurt us, and then the pain is completely decontextualized. We think that if we cause the Palestinians much greater pain, they will finally learn their lesson. Some term this "achievement."

Nevertheless, the "lesson" remains abstract for most Israelis. The Israeli media prescribes a strict low-information, low-truth diet for its consumers, one rich in generals and their ilk. It is modest, and does not boast of our achievements: the slain children and the bodies rotting under the ruins, the wounded who bleed to death because our soldiers shoot at the ambulance crews, the little girls whose legs were amputated due to horrible wounds caused by various types of weaponry, the devastated fathers shedding bitter tears, the residential neighborhoods that have been obliterated, the terrible burns caused by white phosphorus, and the mini-transfer – the tens of thousands of people who have been expelled from their homes, and are still being expelled at this very minute, ordered to cram into a built-up area that is constantly growing smaller and is also under sentence of incessant bombing and shelling.


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Resident of jerusalem demolishes his own home

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Resident of Jerusalem demolishes his own home after he was unable to pay fine

by Saed Bannoura – 

On Saturday, a Palestinian resident of Beit Hanina neighborhood in East Jerusalem had to demolish his own home built ten years ago after he was unable to pay a high fine imposed on him by the Jerusalem Municipality.

The Jerusalem municipality said that the home was built without a construction permit and imposed a 130.000 NIS fine.

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