Nepal – the country of the Buddha and the Mt. Everest

Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without – Buddha

Posts Tagged ‘talks’

After a U.N. Moment of Truth, Obama Will Struggle to Restore a Broken Mideast Peace Process

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on September 28, 2011

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Perhaps nobody told President Barack Obama that last week’s United Nations showdown over Palestinian statehood was

Palestinians watch their President Mahmoud Abbas on TV as he delivers his speech at the United Nations during the General Assembly on September 23, 2011 in Ramallah, West Bank. (Photo: Uriel Sinai / Getty Images)

the proverbial “Emperor’s New Clothes” moment for his Mideast peace effort. U.S. officials are, this week, once again trying to herd the Palestinians back into the same unconditional talks that President Mahmoud Abbas had declared pointless and unacceptable all of last week. And, as if to amplify Abbas’ objection to talking while the Israelis continue to expand their grip on the occupied territories, Israel on Tuesday announced the construction of 1,100 new homes in the Gilo settlement the same day that its government accepted negotiating terms (coordinated with Israel) that were laid out last Friday by the Quartet — the U.S. and a backing vocal section comprising the EU, Russia and the U.N. Secretary General. Business as usual, in other words, from Washington’s side. But Abbas’ U.N. speech stated unambiguously that the Palestinians are no longer willing to indulge the illusion that open-ended talks while settlements continue to expand is doing anything to resolve the conflict.

“It is neither possible, nor practical, nor acceptable to return to conducting business as usual, as if everything is fine,” Abbas had told the U.N. “It is futile to go into negotiations without clear parameters and in the absence of credibility and a specific timetable. Negotiations will be meaningless as long as the occupation army on the ground continues to entrench its occupation, instead of rolling it back, and continues to change the demography of our country in order to create a new basis on which to alter the borders.”

The pablum served up Tuesday by State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland, however, suggests the U.S. has chosen, once again, to ignore Abbas. Saying the U.S. is “deeply disappointed” by the Israelis decision to build in Gilo, Nuland added, “We consider this counterproductive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties, and we have long urged both parties to avoid actions which could undermine trust… That doesn’t change the fact that we believe that the only way to get to two states living side by side in peace, in security, is through direct negotiations… and we are urging both parties to take advantage of the proposal that the Quartet put forward last Friday to come back to the table.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Libya Clashes Escalate But a Diplomatic Compromise Looms

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 27, 2011

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As NATO’s war in Libya entered its 100th day on Monday, an end to the conflict may be in sight — but not necessarily a decisive one. Military and diplomatic signs point increasingly towards some measure of compromise by both sides in shaping an outcome that neither the regime nor the rebels would have countenanced when their struggle began. Rebel forces who have been consolidating their hold on villages in mountains to the West of Tripoli launched a furious assault Sunday on the approaches to the capital, but were repelled by forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. The regime appears unable for the foreseeable future to restore control over those — slowly growing — parts of the country where rebel forces have broken Gaddafi’s iron grip, yet the rebels and their NATO backers so far appear unable to deal the regime’s forces a knockout blow. And while the rebel forces may be growing in confidence, the commitment of the Western allies that have enabled rebel advances is clearly finite.

The intensification of fighting so close to the capital suggests that both sides may be aware that the clock is ticking down towards what may be an inevitable negotiated solution, and are doing their best to shape it to their advantage. Recent comments by British military commanders and Defense Secretary Robert Gates underscore the sense that the European NATO members responsible for the air war will be hard-pressed to continue the campaign much beyond the current summer, and diplomatic support for the military intervention is ebbing fast: Italy last week called for a suspension of hostilities, although that suggestion was quickly squelched by NATO partners; the African Union, China, Russia and the Arab League have begun to retract their endorsement of a military campaign they authorized to protect Libyan civilians, but which has morphed unmistakably into a regime-change operation. And President Obama is under fire from both sides of the aisle over U.S. involvement in the campaign. Read the rest of this entry »

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Reality Checking Obama on Afghanistan: Five Questions on Ending the War

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 24, 2011

By Tony Karoh

First, credit where it’s due: President Barack Obama has burst the spin bubble by telling Americans that the U.S. military has largely achieved that which can be achieved militarily in Afghanistan, and by admitting that the Taliban will be part of Afghanistan’s political future. He’s also ditched the notion of a “conditions-based withdrawal”, recognizing that it’s a trap that would require effectively making Afghanistan a permanent U.S. military protectorate.

Still, having signaled an intent to cut bait on a war that will continue for the next three years, Obama has left himself with some more complex and challenging questions to answer:

1. What will Obama tell the loved ones of Americans killed in Afghanistan in the next three years?

President Obama wouldn’t call going into Afghanistan to get al-Qaeda a mistake, but he clearly sees the mission’s original nation-building goals as tragically misguided. So, on Wednesday, he narrowed down the U.S. objectives to that which is achievable in the very near term: “No safe-haven from which al-Qaida or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland, or our allies.” He added, “We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government,” starting in 2014.

The goal defined by President Obama has largely been achieved. Bringing peace to Afghanistan, now, will require a political settlement that will include the Taliban, he explained.

But admitting that the war is in its terminal phase and that the Taliban can’t be destroyed poses new questions for the morale and focus of the fight going forward. American troops are risking life and limb in a fight that has largely become a matter of shaping the terms of a political settlement with the enemy.

2. How does the U.S. persuade Afghan civilians or neighboring countries to do its bidding when it acknowledges its presence is temporary?

The military has long warned that when Washington puts a withdrawal date on an expeditionary mission, the enemy’s confidence is boosted — and he becomes a lot more persuasive to the local population, who’re never going to put their faith in a force that has signaled its intent to leave. In the Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan whence the Taliban draws most of its support, it’s hard to persuade civilians to support a war effort against an entity that will, as a result of any political settlement, likely find itself in charge of local government. Read the rest of this entry »

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