12
Dec

By Choe Sang-Hun and David E. Sanger

This photo released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean technicians monitoring the launch of an Unha-3 rocket carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, or Shining Star-3, into orbit on Wednesday.

North Korea appeared to have put what it said was a satellite into orbit on Wednesday, a boost for the country’s young leader, Kim Jong-un, in his struggle to be hailed at home as a worthy successor to his father and to be regarded as a serious rival by the United States and its allies in the region.

With the surprise launch on Wednesday morning of a rocket that flew beyond the Philippines and apparently put an object into orbit, North Korea showed that after a series of failures it was clearing key technical hurdles toward mastering the technology needed to build an intercontinental ballistic missile, analysts said.

The launch prompted the United States and its two main Asian allies, Japan and South Korea, to demand further United Nations sanctions on North Korea. But it was far from clear how far China, the North’s main ally, might be prepared to go in joining that push.

China said that it “regrets” the launch, the first time it has used that word in the context of the North’s rocket program. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, also said that North Korea’s right to a peaceful space program was “subject to limitations by relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions,” somewhat tougher language than China has used on that subject in the past.

“North Korea, as a member of the United Nations, has the obligation to abide by relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council,” Mr. Hong said at a regular briefing in Beijing. But he declined to say whether North Korea had lived up to that obligation or whether China had received advance notice that the launch would happen Wednesday.

In North Korea, the apparent success gave Mr. Kim a propaganda boon. After state television announced the “important news” that the Unha-3 rocket had put the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, or Shining Star-3, into orbit, government vehicles with loudspeakers rolled through the streets of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, blaring the news, according to the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency. The Associated Press, which has a bureau in Pyongyang, reported dancing in the streets. Read more…

As published in www.nytimes.com on December 12, 2012.

11
Dec

El líder del partido político de los Hermanos Musulmanes de Egipto ha demostrado que no es el presidente de todos los ciudadanos

Por Haizam Amirah-Fernández, Profesor Asociado de IE School of Arts & Humanities

Tres personas frente a un mural que muestra al presidente egipcio Mohamed Morsi.

Si había dudas, ya se han disipado. Mohamed Morsi, líder del partido político de los Hermanos Musulmanes de Egipto, ha demostrado que no es el presidente de todos los ciudadanos, tal como prometió cuando asumió el cargo hace cinco meses, sino que está al servicio de los sectores islamistas afines. Durante las últimas semanas nada parece haberle impedido recurrir a formas autoritarias de gobernar ni le ha frenado el riesgo de poner al país borde del enfrentamiento civil.

Su reciente decretazo ha tenido como objetivo concentrar todos los poderes en su mano —según él, “de forma temporal”, aunque muchos egipcios no lo creen— y situarse a sí mismo por encima de la ley. Ahora intenta que el país adopte una nueva Constitución redactada al gusto de los Hermanos Musulmanes y criticada por muchos debido a su deficiente defensa de derechos fundamentales y a su nada eficaz separación de poderes.

Morsi y los jerarcas de los Hermanos Musulmanes están tratando de imponer al resto del país su versión antiliberal del islam político, desatendiendo así la diversidad social y política de Egipto e incumpliendo sus repetidas promesas de que no harían semejante cosa. Como resultado, Morsi está batiendo récords en el ritmo de rechazos y de pérdida de legitimidad democrática que han provocado sus decisiones bruscas y su actitud excluyente.

En su intento de establecer un autoritarismo de nuevo cuño, las decisiones del presidente han provocado una amplia movilización social en su contra desde sectores muy diversos, a lo que se ha sumado el rechazo de numerosos medios independientes, jueces, diplomáticos, autoridades de la Universidad de Al Azhar y de la Iglesia copta, así como la dimisión de varios consejeros presidenciales. La pérdida del miedo está haciendo que muchos egipcios se refieran abiertamente a Morsi como un “Mubarak con barbas”. Seguir leyendo…

Haizam Amirah Fernández es además investigador principal de Mediterráneo y Mundo Árabe en el Real Instituto Elcano.

Artículo publicado por El Pais el 6 de diciembre de 2012.

10
Dec
7
Dec

Barack Obama’s foreign-policy goal in his second term: to avoid costly entanglements

By cynical tradition “abroad” is where American presidents go to seek a legacy, after their domestic agendas have stalled. This is especially true of second-term presidents. As they lose momentum at home, the temptation is to head overseas in search of crises that only American clout can resolve.

At the outset of his second term, Barack Obama seems to be planning the opposite approach. Mr Obama and his team believe that his outstanding task is to secure a domestic legacy. Their fear is that foreign entanglements may threaten that goal. It may help that he secured something of a global legacy on the day he was elected four years ago amid worldwide adulation, peaking with a Nobel peace prize awarded after less than a year in office, essentially for not being George W. Bush.

On the 2012 campaign trail, Mr Obama earned some of his warmest applause when he vowed to bring troops back from Afghanistan, ending more than a decade of war-fighting that has cost thousands of American lives and more than a trillion dollars. Time for nation-building “right here at home”, he constantly declared, to cheers. In a newspaper essay on November 23rd Mr Obama’s former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, rammed the point home. Democrats need to make America globally competitive, wrote Mr Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago. Whether it means fixing failing schools, potholed roads, snail-like internet networks or a broken immigration system, the second-term mission must be to “come home and rebuild America”.

Yet the world keeps calling. From Gaza to Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, the disputed waters around China or even the euro zone, foreign crises threaten to sidetrack Mr Obama. Read more…

As published in www.economist.com on December 1, 2012 (from the Print Edition).

5
Dec
By James Jay Carafano

At some point, Hamas and Israel will have had so many armed confrontations that they’ll have to stop naming the operations and just give them numbers. But don’t think these future conflicts will be indistinguishable from what’s happened so far. At some point, these flare-ups could get worse—a lot worse.

Serious Standoff

So far the duels between the Israeli military and Hamas and other armed factions in Gaza have been tactical skirmishes. Neither side has had any notion that they are trying to grab some kind of decisive advantage that would change the standoff that has prevailed—and hardened—since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

After all the back and forth of the last few weeks, Israel can claim that it has decimated Hamas military infrastructure and depleted its war stocks. So what? Hamas can rearm. Hamas can preen that it wrestled some concessions from Tel Aviv, that it garnered pats on the back from Egypt and Turkey and that its stock is on the rise on the Arab Street. Again, so what? The people of Gaza are still caught in the crossfire and saddled with a corrupt regime that can’t deliver peace or jobs. So the two sides are back to the status quo, but with more innocents killed and maimed on each side.

Don’t get complacent. There are plenty of reasons to worry that the stasis will not hold forever.

History Lesson

The Peloponnesian Wars were another nearly endless conflict. That ancient Greek struggle was protracted because neither side could hit at the other’s strength. Sparta could march its armies to the gates of Athens, but it couldn’t breach the walls. At the end of the campaign, all they could do was head home. Athens could sail its fleets to Sparta’s coast, but couldn’t land troops for fear of annihilation at the hands of the Spartan infantry. So Athenian armadas sailed out and sailed back.

While today’s conflict between Israel and Palestine resembles that endless ancient war of nerves and attrition, it may not stay that way forever. And the most likely catalyst to spark change is Iran. Read more…

James Jay Carafano is director of the Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

As published in nationalinterest.org on November 29, 2012.

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