Periscope – World in Focus

January, 2014

  • 26 January

    European Jihadists in Syria

    (Photo by FreedomHouse, Creative Commons License) Several Balkan mothers burst into tears at the beginning of 2014 after being told their sons were killed fighting in Syria on the side of various Islamist militias. Mirza Ganic (19) from the Serbian province of Sandzak, who used the pseudonym “Abu Shehid,” was among the last that became a real “shehid” (martyr). The …

  • 25 January

    Debate on Large Dam Divides Georgia

    The village of Khaishi sits in the picturesque mountains of the historical Georgian province of Svaneti, some 2,000 meters above sea level. But soon it and a few other nearby villages will be under water, forcing more than 2,000 people to leave their homes, if the long-planned Khudoni dam is finally built over the Enguri river.   Locals have sworn …

  • 24 January

    Egypt’s Opposition Persists

    In what has become routine, every week Egyptian police forces kill and detain protesters opposed to the current military regime, led by Defense Minister General Abdel-Fattah El-Sissi. Seventeen people were killed by the police after the weekly Friday marches against military rule on January 3 — a toll that no longer elicits surprised responses from many Egyptians. Among the ever-growing …

  • 24 January

    Central Asia’s Power Struggles

    By local standards, 2013 proved quite successful for the people and leaders of the five Central Asian republics. There were no major wars, natural disasters, or coups d’etat. The governments continued to muddle through the usual raft of problems, and ordinary citizens remained largely quiescent; there was a distinct lack of an Arab Spring-like atmosphere.   Tajikistan provided a typical …

  • 22 January

    Scientists Oppose Canada’s ‘War on Science’

    Seven of Canada’s most prized scientific libraries are being shut down and some of their contents have already been burned, thrown away or carted off by fossil fuel consultancy firms. This development is part of a Harper administration plan to slash more than $160 million in the coming years from the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, or DFO — an agency charged …

  • 20 January

    Future of Iraq and Syria

    Syria naturally dominates the news because of its violent war. But the real story in the Middle East with a greater impact on the future of the region is the unraveling and disintegration of Iraq.   Iraq, and not Syria, is the epicenter of the Sunni-Shiite war in the Arab world. The battle for Damascus may just be the prelude …

  • 19 January

    French Complicity in the CAR Crisis

    By the end of 2013, ‘the White man’s burden’ was proving too heavy to bear for France. Feeling militarily and materially outstretched, Paris cried for help from other European powers to help it shoulder ‘its responsibility’ to quell violence, restore peace, order and political legitimacy in its backyards of Mali and Central African Republic, both in turmoil: the Islamists terrorists …

  • 18 January

    Indonesian Polls: Anti-reform Actors Shine

    Indonesia’s democracy is being increasingly tested by the triple challenges of anti-reform actors, a high-level political malaise and popular disenchantment with the electoral process.   One indicator of this has been an increasing tendency by the Indonesian military (TNI) to reassert itself into the political debate. Indonesia is heading into legislative elections in April and presidential elections in July on the …

  • 17 January

    Troubled Legacy of Ariel Sharon

      Ariel Sharon (1928-2014) had slipped into a coma in 2006, as if too embarrassed by his misdeeds to face the world for his remaining eight years. A veteran of the Haganah, one of the Jewish paramilitary battalions that helped seize Palestine for Israel, Sharon became one of Israel’s best known generals and then, later, one of its most powerful …

  • 13 January

    Managing Southeast Asia’s Fractured Societies

    Political unrest, economic divisions, social turmoil, outright insurgency and civil war are common problems in the modern age. In Southeast Asia such problems are pertinent currently in Thailand and perennially in the Philippines. Elsewhere, they seem to be characteristic of the troubles in Ukraine and in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria and other Arab countries. What do these countries have in common? Some have to do …