Periscope – World in Focus

January, 2014

  • 12 January

    Thailand on The Brink

    Thailand is no stranger to political turmoil but the current unrest looks set to be a protracted and especially bitter affair, raising the very real possibility of civil war. The stage seems set for a showdown between anti-government forces, backed by powerful vested interests, and a flawed but democratically elected government that enjoys mass support, especially in its rural heartlands. The conflict …

  • 12 January

    How Turkey’s Conservatives Failed

    The political war going on in Turkey these days is full of incredible details and drama. However, it only underlines a simple truth: Turkey’s religious conservatives, whether they are in the ranks of the government or the judiciary, have failed to realize their promise of turning Turkey into an “advanced” democracy. At the end of a decade in power, they, …

  • 11 January

    Frustration But No Collective Action in Qatar

    In late June 2013, as neighboring Arab states continued their struggles against popular pressure for political reform or regime change, the Gulf emirate of Qatar undertook its own, voluntary transfer of power. Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, patriarch of modern Qatar, appeared on state television to name as successor his 33-year old son, Sheikh Tamim. The outgoing leader was …

  • 10 January

    A Battle for the Soul of Islam

    One does not have to be a revolutionary poet like Faiz Ahmad Faiz to look at events in the Muslim world and lament at being deceived by the promise of a false dawn — as he memorably did at the time of Indian independence, “Yeh woh sehar to nahin jiski arzoo le kar, chale the yaar ke mil jayegee kabhi …

  • 8 January

    South Africa’s Continuing Conundrum

    Even as Nelson Mandela’s body lay in state in the Union Buildings in Pretoria in December 2013, the same question that had been, predictably, asked before he stepped down from his presidency in 1999 — he was one of the few African leaders to leave voluntarily at the end of his term — namely, that of what is to follow, …

  • 8 January

    Nationalist But Not Islamic Parties Sell in Indonesia

    The history of modern Indonesian politics — represented by a series of political events in the post-1945 independence era to this day — has basically been characterized by a tug-of-war between nationalist and Islamic camps, the two largest societal elements in the republic.   The battle to gain influence and win the hearts and minds of the Indonesian public has …

  • 5 January

    Graft Weakens West African Livelihoods

    Poor public services in many West African countries, with already dire human development indicators, are under constant pressure from pervasive corruption. Observers say graft is corroding proper governance and causing growing numbers of people to sink into poverty.   “If you want to put a human face to corruption… then see how we have kids who walk miles to school …

  • 4 January

    Bahrain: Seeing Through the Fog

    Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was full of tough talk when he visited the island kingdom of Bahrain in early December. The United States, he vowed, will continue to guard “the free flow of energy and commerce” from the Persian Gulf and keep Iran nuclear-free, through the presence of 35,000 U.S. military personnel or the (as-yet-unproven) regional missile defense system.   Hagel also trumpeted …

  • 4 January

    Chechnya and the Politics of Sochi Olympics

    “They plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many Muslims buried on our land by the Black Sea. As Mujahideen we are required not to permit that, using any methods that Allah allows us,” said Dokku Umarov, the self-styled ‘Emir of the Caucasus’.   That he was playing no games with …

  • 1 January

    EU from Ukraine to Bosnia

    Declining to sign an accession agreement with the European Union toward the end of 2013, Ukraine struck a major blow to the West’s wish of pulling the Eastern European country out of Russia’s sphere of influence and control. It was a great gift that Russian President Vladimir Putin got for the new 2014. To save the image of its Eastern …