S. Nihal Singh


The Syrian knots

Of all the countries buffeted by the Arab Spring, Syria is the enigma that remains to be resolved. Even as it seems to be lurching towards a civil war, the resources of fellow Arab nations and the United States and European powers have thus far proved unequal to the task of bringing about a desirable end. And thereby hangs a tale.

An Arab winter

The paradox of the Egyptian revolution that toppled Hosni Mubarak last February is that masses of Egyptians in Tahrir Square and in other cities are back demonstrating for their rights for the simple reason that the Army stole their revolution. The head was decapitated but little else changed, and the armed forces got down to a leisurely schedule of parliamentary and presidential elections while they ruled and planned to enshrine their traditional privileged position in a new Constitution.

Fishing for clout in South China Sea

The Asean summit of Southeast Asian nations with some principal foreign actors was notable on many counts, but the chief outcome was US President Barak Obama’s determination to plant his country’s flag in the resort of Bali as an Asia-Pacific power. Not only did he come fresh from a decision to station over 2,000 US Marines in Australia by 2016, but he left his listeners in no doubt that despite the reverses his country had faced in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States was determined to remain an Asia-Pacific power.

The many claimants to the Libyan pie

Despite the manner in which the Muammar Gaddafi era was brought to a bloody end, Libya has a fighting chance to become something approaching a modern state. But immense difficulties lie ahead and the West’s military assistance on the ground and in the air under the fig leaf of a United Nations resolution ostensibly to protect civilians decisively to tip the scales in favour of the hopelessly outclassed rebel fighters will come to haunt the new Libyan rulers.

Pak’s search for self

Behind the new strains in Pakistan’s relations with the United States and its efforts to find solace in China lies the stark fact that shortly after Partition and the formation of two independent states, Islamabad decided to become a client state as a hedge against India and to carve out greater space for itself. That policy has remained a constant despite the twists and turns in international affairs, during the Cold War and after its end.

Obama’s presidential bid has an Israeli limp

The biggest loser in the Palestinians’ bold move to take their sham peace process with Israel, which was going nowhere, to the United Nations is US President Barack Obama.

Arab Spring at doorstep

Israel thought its best bet in the face of the Arab Spring roiling the Arab world was to hunker down and wait on events, defined by a senior official to the New York Times as a “porcupine” policy. But the storming of the Israeli embassy in Cairo by rioters last Friday and Saturday demonstrated how wrong Israelis were in reading the tea leaves and how isolated they have become.

What’s next for Libya?

After 42 years of Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in Libya has virtually ended, the new interim administration in the form of the National Transitional Council (NTC) has immense tasks ahead of it.

Team Anna’s saffron slip

It is time to disentangle the various strands that go to make up the Anna Hazare phenomenon. The Maharashtrian peasant leader is riding on the crest of a wave of frustrations and aspirations driving the middle class and other sections, and his main theme of busting corruption has struck a chord with vast sections of the population. Second, there are no two views on the maladroit moves of the government and the Congress Party in coping with Mr Hazare’s second fast.

Arab power play

Two events have proved climactic for the Arab world. One was the spark lit by a vegetable seller in Tunisia leading to the unseating of the country’s ruler resulting in the 18-day popular revolt in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the end of 30 years of Hosni Mubarak’s rule. The other was the spectacle of an ailing Mubarak lying on a hospital bed in a defendant’s cage in an improvised court facing Egyptian justice.

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