Weekend talks at Camp David between Mubarak and Bush on how to move forward in the Middle East crisis
Al Ahram editor Ibrahim Nafie, a close confidante of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, offers an account of Mubarak's discussions in Washington that suggests strong competition with the Saudis for the mantle of leading Arab peacemaker. But his effort to disown, on Mubarak's behalf, the suggestion of a 'provisional' Palestinian state in only part of the West Bank and Gaza suggests Arab moderates are feeling the heat. (Al Ahram, June 13-19, 2002)
ARAFAT: A PALESTINIAN INDICTMENT
Edward Said writes in Al Ahram that the fact that calls by Israel, the U.S. and the Arab states for Arafat's replacement are driven by an agenda inimical to Palestinian interests, the Palestinians have their own good reasons to get rid of Arafat. He accuses the aging leader of complicity in his people's current misery by "provok(ing) a war whose victims would be mostly innocent people when (he had) neither the military capacity to fight one nor the diplomatic leverage to end it." But Said is no friend of Washington or Sharon: He wants a democratic Palestinian leadership to lead a non-military campaign against the Israeli occupation. (Al Ahram, June 13-19, 2002)
U.S. TO PLAY REF?
The interim Palestinian state that President Bush is expected to announce this week will be based on a long-term, phased interim agreement, reports Haaretz's Aluf Benn. And the U.S. appears to be stepping up to adjudicate its implementation rather than leaving it to bilateral talks. (Haaretz, June 17, 2002)
DENNIS ROSS SKEWERS ARAFAT
In the ongoing debate over why the Middle East peace process has failed (see last week's New York Review of Books reference), former U.S. mediator Dennis Ross interviews himself and makes the case for getting rid of Yasser Arafat—and against any kind of internationally imposed solution. (Foreign Policy, July/August 2002)
Pakistan-India tensions have eased but the Karachi car bomb highlights the growing vulnerability of the Musharraf regime, which could have serious implications for both Indo-Pakistani conflict and for the U.S. war on terror. (The Economist, June 14, 2002)
The king and Karzai at the Loya Jirga
LOYA JIRGA A QUALIFIED SUCCESS
The Loya Jirga assembly had many grumbling about a fix, particularly when U.S. officials appeared to step in to dissuade former king Zahir Shah from challenging Hamid Karzai for the top job. Although the council legitimized the transitional regime of Karzai, it's power still depends on its ability to marshal a plurality of warlords. Still, nobody doubts it's a step towards progress. (The Economist, June 14, 2002)
AFGHANISTAN: A STRATEGIC ERROR?
Le Monde Diplomatique interviews two key U.S. military thinkers and poses the provocative question of whether destroying al-Qaeda's Afghan sanctuary aided or hindered the objective of eliminating the organization – because destroying the Taliban regime has forced al-Qaeda to disperse and make its networks less detectable. Now the key focus must be on denying them access to weapons of mass destruction, although on that score, too, the thinking of John Arquilla and David Ronfeldt tends to be outside the box. (Le Monde Diplomatique, June 2002)
CHECHNYA: MASHKADOV OFFERS TALKS
Fugitive Chechen president Aslan Mashkadov says he's willing to reconsider his longtime demand for independence if Moscow calls off its war in the rebel republic. In a rare interview with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting, he offers unique insights into the workings of the Chechen rebellion in recent years. (IWPR, June 14, 2002)
ZIMBABWE ON THE BRINK?
It's fallen out of the headlines since the election debacle, but Zimbabwe is facing an imminent outbreak of mass violence, warns the International Crisis Group. The ICG urges immediate international action to press the government back into negotiations with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. (International Crisis Group, June 14 2002)
DIRTY BOMBS: IT'S THE PANIC THAT KILLS
Clinton administration strategic arms expert Rose Gottemoeller warns that the most dangerous thing about radiological weapons is not the contamination they spread, but the panic they induce. (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, June 12 2002)