US academic and former statesman, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has said Western democracies need to create a trans-Atlantic free trade area to remain relevant in world affairs. The 85-year-old, who was a US national security advisor at the height of the Cold War, spoke at the Globsec conference in Bratislava on Thursday (18 April) to an audience of central European VIPs. But he said Europe failed to fulfil its promise, while the US undid itself by invading Iraq. “Europe’s main problem is that today’s European Union is a Europe more of banks than of people, more of commercial convenience than an emotional commitment of the European peoples,” he said.
Will armies battle each other, as the cry for “blue gold” gets furious? Will “water wars” be as prevalent as conflict for the “black gold” of oil? Two documentary films have wetted public interest – Blue Gold: World Water Wars, and Last Call at the Oasis, and a dystopia novel – The Water Wars – warns of its imminence.
In actuality, history’s pages are already splashed with dozens of conflicts. In 2,450 B.C. the Sumerian cities of Lagash and Umma warred over Tigris-Euphrates water. More recently, Senegal and Mauritaniabattled in 1989 over grazing rights in the Senegal River Valley – hundreds were killed, 250,000 fled their homes. The Pacific Institute provides an excellent map and timeline of 225 water skirmishes.
Everybody knew that Israel’s move to build new settlements in the previously off-limits area outside Jerusalem known as E1. But few probably guessed that it would send European ambassadors fleeing the country. According to a new report from Haaretz, that’s exactly what the diplomats from France and Britain are thinking.
France and Britain are obviously incensed by Israel’s behavior, which is inevitably read as vengeful of Palestine’s recent victory in the United Nations. It’s not just the settlement decision but also how it came about.
Last week dramatically worsened the confrontation between Israel and Palestine. 14 November this year, Israel launched a massive air strike operation against the Palestinian HAMAS movement, which is the main force in the Gaza Strip.
The official stated purpose of the operation, which was called “pillar of Cloud,” is to stop the shelling of Israeli territory by Palestinian rockets unmanaged missiles. The main purpose of the operation was the destruction of important objects of military infrastructure of Hamas and its political, military and religious leaders.
The Israeli army command has not ruled out that in order to destroy the missile arsenals of the Palestinian movement Hamas they might need not only the Air Force, but possibly to launch a ground operation into Gaza, therefore they have authorized the Army to call up reservists.
The Israeli Air Force struck dozens of targets on the Gaza Strip as part of a large-scale operation codenamed “Protective Pillar”, which resulted in 12 Palestinians being killed, including the leader of the military wing of Hamas, Ahmed al-Jabari.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HuT) chief for Palestine, Brigadier Amir Riaz, has claimed that the banned group has prepared a new constitution and a shadow government for Pakistan and that the group is ready to take over anytime.
Brigadier (retd) Ali Khan, who is accused of plotting to topple the democratic government and mount attacks on the army headquarters, had met Brigadier Riaz, head of 111 Brigade, while he was conspiring to overthrow the government and create Islamic caliphate, the BBC quoted a senior military officer, as saying.
Crises like the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador in Turkey, the storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and protests outside the one in Amman, Jordan, have compounded a sense of urgency and forced the Obama administration to reassess some of this country’s fundamental assumptions, and to do so on the fly.
“The region has come unglued,” said Robert Malley, a senior analyst in Washington for the International Crisis Group. “And all the tools the United States has marshaled in the past are no longer as effective.”
The United States, as a global power and permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, still has significant ability to shape events in the region.
Under the 1979 treaty, Egypt demilitarized Sinai. But the military-led interim regime in Cairo, like most Egyptians, objects to the treaty.
If it deploys large numbers of troops into Sinai, sovereign Egyptian territory, without Israel’s approval, there will be trouble and that could seriously damage what little is left of the Mideast peace process.
But, analyst Ehud Yaari of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said, “Pre-emptive Israeli operations across the border would certainly trigger a major crisis.”
After the treaty, Israel substantially downsized its military forces because it no longer needed to protect its 170-mile Sinai border with Egypt.