Peace talks in the Ukraine collapsed today after only a few hours. Here is a brief timeline of the crisis.
Here is Paul Krugman’s take on the Greece-Euro crisis:
“In the five years (!) that have passed since the euro crisis began, clear thinking has been in notably short supply. But that fuzziness must now end. Recent events in Greece pose a fundamental challenge for Europe: Can it get past the myths and the moralizing, and deal with reality in a way that respects the Continent’s core values? If not, the whole European project — the attempt to build peace and democracy through shared prosperity — will suffer a terrible, perhaps mortal blow.”
I am not sure what this post signifies….
“Some say it’s a fad whose time has passed. Others believe its insights will stick around for a long time to come, like a trusty old penny-farthing or a collection of early 80s Italo-disco on vinyl. What do you think?”
In November, the House of Commons voted to send Canadian special forces troops to Iraq to contribute to an international mission to repel the terrorist army known Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. It was to be a short-term mission to “advise and assist” Iraqi forces. In recent weeks, we’ve learned that Canadian soldiers have been laser-targeting air strikes and engaging in firefights with Islamic State fighters on the front lines. Has Canada drifted into an outright combat operation in Iraq? Or is this merely an inevitable shooting component to something that remains, at its core, the advisory mission authorized by Parliament? We have invited two military-operations experts to debate this question: Read their opinions, and vote in the box on the right.
Roland Paris: Founding director of the Centre for International Policy Studies at the University of Ottawa.
Canada’s Iraq operation has turned into a combat mission
Thomas Juneau: Assistant professor at the University of Ottawa’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs.
There is no mission creep in Iraq
Analysis of the Syriza victory in Greece and what it means for the EU courtesy of the BBC:
“There are some things during the eurozone crisis that we were told would never happen.
The European Central Bank would never flood the market with new money, and Greece would never take a gamble with the radical left.
The past few days have overturned those assumptions, making this week a potential turning point in the recent history of the European Union.”
Greek elections: What now for the euro? http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30906153
Yemen slips further into chaos.
“The true extent of Houthi ambition is unclear; but the fact that they did not kick Mr Hadi out of the presidency or claim the premiership indicates they prefer to control from behind the scenes by placing their members in ministries and high-level government positions. This allows them to consolidate power, but without being saddled with ultimate responsibility.”
“The fact that President Hadi can control or claim loyalty from very little of Yemen’s military is indeed worrisome, and AQAP is already capitalizing on the distraction, chaos, and unaddressed grievances in tribal areas to wreak havoc and grow its ranks.
Saudi Arabia has halted its financial support, refusing to bank-roll a country dominating by an Iranian-supported, Shia-affiliated group, and this could lead to an absolute economic collapse with salaries unpaid and currency scarce.”
A new Saudi King, sort of…
Here is a BBC overview of the transition in Saudi Arabia and many of the issues facing the new monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud. He was already making most of the decisions before Abdullah’s death, just as Abdullah had stood in for King Fahd before him. And, its unlikely we will see any radical changes in Saudi policy under the new leader. In fact, everything has been pretty much seamless so far. The Saudi ruling family, the al Saud, is a complex institution with multiple lineages tracing back to the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, ibn Saud. Succession is therefore not always a straightforward affair. But there has been no public quarrels and everything apparently settled before Abdullah passed. The next change may be less orderly with a new generation of al Saud poised to take power. Still, while the transition may have been smooth (so far) nothing is smooth for the Saudis in the region. Trends in Syria, Iraq and Yemen are going against the Saudi interest and its arch rival, Iran, is making gains regionally and with the west. It’s not as bad as taking over the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it is a tough job none the less.
Profile: King Salman of Saudi Arabia http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30945925
Saudi: Turbulent times for new King Salman http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30949483
The debate sort of sounds like Bill Clinton questioning the meaning of the word ‘is’ when he was asked: “Is there anything going on between you and Monica Lewinski?”
“The government’s current line is that a combat mission must come before the House of Commons for a vote: the current mission qualifying as such because of the aerial bombing this country was to participate in. The previous commitment of special forces to Iraq did not receive a vote because that was not considered to be engaging in ground combat. Now we are looking at a debate about what constitutes combat and what precisely is involved in a mission that otherwise doesn’t include combat. That seems like a very useful discussion to have—most usefully before the House commits to a mission.”
Its not like there really is a shortage of excellent women scholars on the Middle East….
“Last year, six leading Washington think tanks presented more than 150 events on the Middle East that included not a single woman speaker. Fewer than one-quarter of all the speakers at the 232 events at those think tanks recorded in our newly compiled data-set were women. How is it possible that in 2014, not a single woman could be found to speak at 65 percent of these influential and high-profile D.C. events?”
The closer we get to an American-Iranian nuclear deal, the nastier the domestic fight has become in the US. House Speaker John Boehner has invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu an outspoken critique of the negotiations and no friend of Barak Obama to address congress. Now Obama’s supporters are sighting Israeli intelligence officials contradicting Netanyahu. Very messy…
“Netanyahu to address the threat posed by radical Islam and Iran. Netanyahu is expected to deliver full-throated support for sanctions. The administration is upset that Netanyahu accepted Boehner’s invitation without notifying them, the latest indication of the poor relationship between the Israeli government and the White House.
Two senior U.S. officials tell us that the Mossad has also shared its view with the administration that if legislation that imposed a trigger leading to future sanctions on Iran was signed into law, it would cause the talks to collapse.
The Israeli view shared with Corker and other senators also mirrors the assessment from the U.S. intelligence community. “We’ve had a standing assessment on this,” one senior administration official told us. “We haven’t run the new Kirk-Menendez bill through the process, but the point is that any bill that triggers sanctions would collapse the talks. That’s what the assessment is.” Another intelligence official said that the Israelis had come to the same conclusion.”