Venezuela heads to the polls on 7 October with Hugo Chávez, battling cancer, seeking to extend his rule until 2019. The increased prospects of victory for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, grave concerns over Chávez health and post electoral scenarios and fraud claims, coupled with weak political institutions, raise fears over the country’s stability.
Dr Robert Lambert, an academic at St Andrews University’s prestigious Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, has recently published an article in which he describes Anders Breivik as a “far right terrorist”. Lambert was previously in the globally renowned Metropolitan Police Special Branch. This proclamation by Lambert on the Breivik case raises an interesting question: aside from being a convicted criminal, would he have been labelled an extremist or terrorist if he had been British and committed his crimes in London instead of Oslo?
The topic of Afghanistan dominated the May 2012 NATO Summit in Chicago. The majority of the discussion revolved around the specifics of NATO’s withdrawal of combat troops in 2014 and the need for continuing aid, training and funding for the Afghan National Security Forces. The problem of illegal drugs was largely ignored.
The Chinese hard power juggernaut is moving in all directions and not even tiny neighbours are out of its ambit these days. In the latest instance of China’s hyperactive diplomacy, Beijing is vigorously pursuing one finger of its so-called “five finger policy” – Bhutan. The other four fingers are Arunachal Pradesh, Ladakh (both parts of India), Nepal and Sikkim; while the palm is Tibet. The Chinese objectives in Bhutan, a country with which it has been having a protracted border dispute, pose a major foreign policy and security challenge for India.
Tony Blair has announced his intention to "re-engage" with British politics. It is an event that has attracted much attention. With varying levels of horror and titillation, pundits of right and left have pored over his statements, and sought to divine his ambitions. They have variously predicted that he wants to be Prime Minister, or run the IMF, or the UN, or the EU. None of these seem especially plausible. Nor does the idea that he could be a member of the Shadow Cabinet; how, without overshadowing his own boss? Yet one prominent job has not been suggested: I believe Tony Blair may run for London Mayor.
Professor Saad Jawad is no stranger to the hardships Iraq’s academic community has endured. So when, after having taught for thirty years at the University of Baghdad, he says that Saddam Hussein’s collapse destroyed intellectual free speech in Iraq, it pays to listen. Since the 2003 invasion, Iraq’s intelligentsia have been targeted by sectarian killing squads. Amongst the violence after the invasion, these killings still stand out for their selectivity. Iraq’s intellectuals have been sidelined amidst the fog of war, and their absence is felt throughout Iraq’s political system today. To overcome the incredible challenges facing the current Iraqi government, Baghdad needs to welcome and protect this community.
On the fateful Tuesday evening that Professor Atta Mills passed on, I met with a Ghanaian friend who works in Nairobi to catch up. My friend received a phone call from Ghana, in which the caller announced that Mills was dead and then promptly hung up. We thought at first it was a prank since Mills had died many times before, courtesy of rumour mongers and distractors. However, after considering the finality of the caller’s tone we scampered for the internet, immediately checking Twitter and myjoyonline.com, a popular Ghanaian news site. The websites confirmed that Professor Atta Mills had indeed just passed on at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra.