World

Palestinian Groups Unite to Israel’s Dismay

By on 6.2.14 | 5:54PM

The reunion was highly unexpected, but governments can form quickly in the Middle East. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip are back together for now, at least politically speaking. According to the AP:

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas swore in a national unity government Monday, formally ending a crippling seven-year split with his Islamic militant Hamas rivals but drawing Israeli threats of retaliation.

The formation of the unity government and Israel's tough response are part of a wider competition between Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for international support since the collapse of U.S.-led peace talks between them in April. 

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Egypt: Now Truly Under Military Rule

By on 5.29.14 | 4:26PM

Egypt has elected a new president, giving the Egyptian army official control of the government to add to its hold on internal security, media, and the economy.

Former general Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi received 92 percent of the vote. That was out of a total of 23 million votes, well up from winner Mohammed Morsi's 12 million in 2012. Voter turnout, however, was 46 percent, compared to 52 percent in the 2012 election, and el-Sissi had been hoping to prove his legimitacy to the world with a well-attended election. To make matters worse, most of these votes came on days two and three of the election, after the state began shaming, bribing, and otherwise coercing people into voting. According to the AP:

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India’s Upset Election Could Spell Promise or Persecution For Religious Liberty

By on 5.29.14 | 12:19PM

India elected a new party into power last week, and only time will tell whether the hopeful predictions of economic growth or the gloomy portents of religious persecution are more correct.

The election surprised analysts because the BJP party—which was so small it has not even had minority governing power since 2004—took 282 seats and the right to elect a prime minister, Narendra Modi. Modi was elected on his record as a decisive leader who turned around the economy of the Gujarat state as its governor.

The BJP's victory was remarkable as an example of a violence- and corruption-free political upset in the world's largest democracy. But Dr. Timothy Shah, whose father hails from Gujarat, finds it worrying.

Modi’s campaign focused primarily on economic issues, but it is ultimately a right-wing Hindu nationalist party. Shah worries that the people’s natural desire for better economic leadership as their country grows could lead to “grave and unintended consequences for democracy and religious liberty.”

"Modi was probably personally complicit in a pogrom that killed 1,000 to 2,000 Muslims in 2002," Shah said during a Heritage Foundation panel yesterday.

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Letter From London

UKIP If You Want To

By 5.23.14

This coming Thursday will likely see one of the most significant electoral results in Britain’s modern political history: the triumph of the United Kingdom Independence Party in the European Parliament elections.

Nigel Farage’s fiercely anti-European Union party consistently tops polls of likely voters, and, what is more, it looks increasingly likely to make a splash at next year’s general election.

Despite this, I believe that any American enthusiasm for the rise of this new political force in Britain is deeply misguided.

While I am sure many readers will empathize with UKIP’s ostensible aim of giving “the Establishment” a bloody nose, it seems apparent that their message is a flawed one. UKIP is not the libertarian party it pretends to be, and its leaders and members are not worthy personalities for elected office.

Before UKIP rose to the level of national prominence it now enjoys, the party’s activist base was allowed to be a little more eclectic. As such, many libertarians, who were deeply disappointed by the combination of statist economics and social conservatism espoused by Labour and the Conservatives, saw UKIP as a potential political home. 

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The Plight of Arab Israeli Christians

By on 5.22.14 | 3:53PM

Arab Israeli Christians of military age will now receive a non-binding invitation to volunteer for the Israeli army, partly because of efforts by an Arab Israeli priest.

The Greek Orthodox priest, Father Gabriel Naddaf of Nazareth, has faced tremendous opposition from the Christian and Muslim communities alike, some of whom see this as Israel's latest attempt to "divide and conquer" along religious lines, according to the Washington Free Beacon. Christians represent 2 percent of the Israeli population and 10 percent of Arab Israelis, but the number of Christians in the Israeli army has tripled to 150 since Father Naddaf's campaign began.

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Deposed Egyptian President Mubarak Faces Prison After Graft Conviction

By on 5.21.14 | 3:48PM

The deposed president of Egypt Hosni Mubarak was convicted of graft and sentenced to three years in prison today. 

You read right—graft. It’s a little like getting Al Capone for tax evasion, although Mubarak doesn’t have anything near the popular support of the late gangster.

This was his second trial, as Mubarak’s earlier sentencing for his role in the deaths of 900 protesters during the 2011 protests had been overturned. Then-president Mohammed Morsi’s attempt to reopen the case was interrupted by his own ouster at the hands of the Egyptian military, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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Take the World Cup Away From Qatar

By on 5.20.14 | 11:45AM

It's not often that I see eye to eye with the New Republic and Slate, but they have both picked up on the scandal of Qatar hosting the 2022 World Cup. ESPN was the first to give real attention to this story through their E:60 documentary on the plight of migrant workers in Qatar. Due to working conditions and the outrageous heat, it is estimated that 1,200 of those workers have died while helping build one of the needed twelve soccer stadiums. At that rate, 4,800 will die in order to finish all of the facilities. Worse, through Qatar's kafala system, employers confiscate their workers' visas and passports, making them de facto forced laborers. 

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The Putin Problem

By on 5.7.14 | 3:53PM

Today Vladimir Putin announced he will pull back Russian troops from the Ukrainian border. However, The White House stated that it has yet to see these words produce any meaningful action:

A White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, told reporters traveling with President Obama aboard Air Force One that while the United States would welcome a Russian military pullback from the Ukraine border region, “there has been no evidence that such a withdrawal has taken place.”

Regardless, this message from Putin has to be a relief for the Obama administration, as the options to respond to Russia's aggressive maneuvers were limited at best. Narrow sanctions against high-profile individuals close to Putin had already been levied, and any wider sanctions would have risked economic damage not only to Russia, but all nations dependent on Gazprom exports. Any military options are fraught with peril at best.

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Flashback

A Lonely Visionary

By From the December 1987 issue

“Sorry to bother you, but haven’t we met before? Aren’t you…what’s his name?”

“I doubt you’d know my name,” he said. “Nobody does these days.”

There was a trace of bitterness in his voice, just enough to prod my curiosity. On the whole, he was quite an ordinary looking old man, around seventy-five I would guess, with a flabby face and a bald head. But there, right on the top of his forehead, was the painfully familiar huge purple mark resembling the outlines of some exotic land on the globe. Perhaps South America, or even India…. I could swear I’d seen him before.

We were sitting in a bar on Fisherman’s Wharf, the most crowded spot in San Francisco, where you can run across anybody from this or the next world. California, as you know, has the reputation of a weird planet: if there are ghosts, this is their homeland. There is no way of knowing who you might see across the table. Was this fellow one of Hollywood’s old faces, a character from a great but unjustly forgotten movie? He looked a bit like Edward G. Robinson, or someone from The Untouchables.

“Have I seen you on television?”

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Letter From Paris

Mugging the Family

By From the April 2014 issue

France’s pseudo-bolshevikian government has discovered a new problem in urgent need of a socialist solution: what to do about women. In the land where influential dames, if not dames,have for centuries dominated their menfolk beyond the wildest dreams of American feminists, where medieval knights were on their knees before their lady-loves while kings doted on their maîtress en titre, where today’s president, François Hollande, compromises his country’s reputation and his own authority by succumbing to an irresistible yen for a new mistress, this may seem paradoxical to say the least. Surely in France, of all places, woman’s role has been defined to the satisfaction of all, and especially the femmes themselves. 

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