Fernando Fuster-Fabra's Blog

OBAMA AFTER G-8 / G-20 CANADIAN RENDEZVOUS

July 5, 2010
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Seventeen months after taking oath of office and three G-20 summits held since then, President Obama must review his track record on international achievements thus far.

Whilst Obama’s first year was loaded with international engagements that culminated in a Peace Nobel Award, 2010 has been mainly centred on a domestic agenda laden with Republican rebuffs and unsavoury surprises on the home front. This may have been initially essential to curtail far too rapid popularity erosion and possible Democratic defeats in the forthcoming congressional elections in November but became even more demanding after the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico with incalculable impact on the US coastline.

A week after the latest international G-8 & G-20 summits in Canada and coinciding with the traditional 4th of July celebrations, Gulf Coast beaches were solitary scenes on an otherwise jam-packed day. The fireworks on such a relevant day for the United States were not limited to the evening sky glitters nationwide but to a series of worrying issues both on the home front as well as abroad.

In the local scene, unemployment hit a 10% record figure which if properly considered would stand for as much as 16.5% seeking a job in the 50-star nation. Temporary jobs created by the Administration over the last months to undertake the census were not enough as private entrepreneurs languished with a lack of steady job offers. Consumption isn’t at its best, not even with the 4th of July festivities on the going. America is immersed in a serious economic crisis that may not go away so easily and end, as Krugman predicts, in another Great Depression.

What really is worrying is that Obama has stood alone in the last G-20 meet and one of its staunch allies in the G-8 & G-20, Great Britain, is now in the limelight due to the British Petroleum fiasco in the Gulf of Mexico and Cameron’s insistence in totally withdrawing U.K. troops from Afghanistan by 2015. Tension was added by Britons’ demand for stronger actions by the U.K. cabinet in defence of BP, to avoid its shares plummeting further due to the Gulf of Mexico rig spill. Will Obama finally kick someone’s ass or is he going to take a beating himself?

G-20 silence on Israel’s undaunted policy of striking first as a defence measure, mainly backed by U.S. permissiveness while condemning Iran and North Korea leaves an unsavoury taste for freedom-lovers around the world. No matter what are a nation’s alliances, any world leader must have the stamina to demand its ally to fulfil international agreements towards peaceful coexistence. The United States has thus far consented Israel too many whims to honestly stand out as a firm defender of human rights and democracy. This situation is further aggravated if one considers that Barack Obama accepted the Nobel Peace Award in 2009.

Has the concern for domestic issues blurred Obama’s vision of the international front loaded with unresolved conflicts or is he being forced by American issues and K-Street lobbies to give leeway in such matters as the closure of Guantanamo, the unstable Iraq regime, the war in Afghanistan or the Israeli-Palestinian endless confrontation?

On the other hand, Obama may have decided to make a strategic halt to assess where he stands today after his solitary stand at the G-20 summit. If he decides for a G-2 push, his best bet as a partner would be the European Union with a carefully planned diplomatic action amongst the less conceited and more reliable members instead of the usual partners. It’s Obama’s turn to move a piece on the international chessboard. The world is watching.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Barcelona

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FROM BILDERBERG CLUB AT SITGES TO G-20 IN BUSAN

June 6, 2010
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version in Spanish –  http://wp.me/pRlnf-10

The tranquil Mediterranean sky over Sitges suddenly was a flurry of helicopter traffic last Thursday afternoon whilst security measures were tightened at the entrance of Can Girona.  The arrival of members and guests of the exclusive five-decade Club at Sitges’ Hotel Dolce coincided in time with the start of the Finance Ministers’ conference 10.000 kilometres in Busan, preparatory to the world leaders meet at the end of June in Canada.

A world in crisis with the elite of the wealthy and powerful in their annual get-together since its first session in the Bilderberg Hotel in Arnhem, the Netherlands in 1954 must talk much more than of the nice sunny weather and the pleasure of Sitges’ excellent golf course. In turn, the Finance Ministers of the developed and developing countries of the world must have sat down to decide which path to take at the June 25-26 leaders’ conference in Toronto.

Coinciding with these economic and political events thousands of miles apart were two Israeli blockade actions in international waters.

The Bilderberg Club, in spite of its discreet holdings and utmost secrecy, seemed to have been fortified its existence with NATO Secretary-Generals from as permanent members. More than a shear economic club, ever since Polish political advisor Jósef Retinger received Netherland’s Prince Bernhard’s backing to his idea, Bilderberg has acted more like a political one. In fact, its first meeting in 1954 was meant to establish closer ties between the leaders of Europe and the United States of America and avoid an anti-American wave in Western Europe. Although never mentioned, one of the issues that has always hovered the European scene since the end of World War II has been the moral and economic reparations of Jewish Nazism victims. At the turn of the tides, with Israel now as an established independent state, what does the club think about Israel’s arrogant stance in the world scene today?

The G-20 Finance Ministers closed their meet yesterday with not even a mention of the deadly effects of Israel’s boarding in international waters of a Gaza-bound six-vessel flotilla, supposedly bearing humanitarian aid for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip; a second vessel, the Irish MV Rachel Corrie was likewise hijacked to prevent its arrival at Gaza. Not only did the ministers not decide a common stand on new banking regulations and control but neither did it evaluate the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the world’s economy.

The Bilderberg Club seems to have agreed that the crisis is due to last at least another year and surely the G-20 ministers must have talked along the same line. What is indeed worrying is to observe that neither political nor economic world leaders seem to be concerned about the risks of another global conflagration in the crossroads between Sitges and Busan, in Gaza just where Israel is challenging all international authority in its arm-twisting strategy on the Palestinian issue.

How long will such inhuman actions go on in the name of a single state’s security? Can we honestly say that as developed and developing countries belonging to international organisations such as the United Nations all agree that Israel can have its ways in an eye-for-an-eye strategy against Hamas? Who then must speak out for all civilian victims of 20th. Century atrocities? Has Israel forgotten what its people suffered in the Nazi concentration camps? Is a similar action against all Palestinians justifiable and permissible?

Today, I for one, feel ashamed of belonging to our present-day inhuman race.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Sitges


NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT, BEYOND START II

April 11, 2010
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Finally, tedious negotiations have brought forth a new disarmament agreement between the two nuclear super powers. The Obama Administration has learned that White House timetables do not necessarily tally with those of other world leaders with their own negotiating strategies.

In a similar manner as the domestic healthcare issue, the historic signing of the new START bilateral agreement in the appropriate scenario of Prague is no guarantee that said goodwill expressed by both U.S. President Obama and Russian President Medvédev will lead to a nuclear non-proliferation as per the NPT  of 1968. Whereas Russia’s Duma will surely ratify the agreement, the U.S. Senate may still present objections to such arms reduction to show the Republican hawkish stance on American military supremacy.

True to say, all American Presidents from the end of the Cold War onwards have signed some sort of arms agreement with the defunct U.S.S.R. and then with Russia. The weakest link may have been during the previous Bush Administrations, where world conflicts elevated tension between these super powers.

However, one must not forget that, neither India nor Pakistan, known to possess nuclear armament, are signees of the NPT. Israel not only has remained adamant to accept said treaty but has so far refused to admit its nuclear potential. In a similar situation but in the process of turning into a nuclear power is Iran. Curiously, these four countries are close to or in the midst of the Middle East hotspot. Besides, one must take into account that both Pakistan and India have borders with another nuclear power, China. Furthermore, China is a firm supporter of yet another potential nuclear developer (North Korea) based in the Far East.

How well will the United States of America and Russia be able to handle the growing nuclear risks in these tension-loaded Middle East & Far East regions?

Under the disguise of uranium enrichment for energetic purposes, any of these states may well be in fact producing nuclear weapons. Such are IAEA suspicions on Iran and North Korea upon their refusal to undergo U.N. supervision.

A meeting called by President Obama in Washington D.C. on April 12-13 where 40 world leaders are expected to discuss the risks of nuclear power in the hands of international terrorism has failed to persuade Israel’s Netanyahu to join in said caucus although it will count with the presence of China’s President Hu Jintao.

The shadow cast by Netanyahu’s absence may not be fully enlightened by the assistance by China’s Hu.

Both Obama and Medvédev are aware that China has yet to fully agree on sanctions to be imposed on Iran by the U.N. Security Council presided by Japan during this current month. China has carefully weighed its decision based on its growing trade relations with Iran, present-day tensed bilateral economic exchange with the United States and the renewed START agreement between Americans and Russians.

On the other hand, Israel and its hawkish Prime Minister are a pain in the neck for the Obama Administration still pending a definite solution plan. Tensed relations have existed ever since Netanyahu took over with a challenging attitude towards White House demands to sit down at a negotiations table with the Palestinian Authority. Far from towing the line, Israel has permanently provoked American emissaries (Biden & Mitchell), refusing to bend down to Obama’s petition for moderation.

Will START II have meant pressing the reset button to minimise all nuclear endeavours in armament or, on the contrary, be the commencement of further underground attempts by potential and/or existing nuclear states bent on having a say on nuclear policies in the international scene?

Fernando Fuster-Fabra Fdz.


JERUSALEM OR JERICHO?

March 24, 2010
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“The gates of Jericho were shut tight and guarded closely because of the people of Israel. No one went out. No one came in …. Then the Lord spoke to Joshua. He said, “I have handed Jericho over to you. I have also handed its king and its fighting men over to you …..” – Joshua 6:1-2

Netanyahu’s rabid defence of Israeli rights over Jerusalem in his lightning visit to Washington D.C., remind me of Jericho and its walls.

His stubborn stance before the most powerful President of the world could be compared to Joshua’s 7-day chants around Jericho following Jehovah’s instructions.

Does he expect the walls of U.S. power to crumble down before his eyes?

Israeli’s hawk prime minister exercises his knowledge of U.S. negotiating habits in his stints as a student in said country but he may err with such tactical moves before a totally different player at the table. Barack Obama is not a standardised American political leader that may well have some surprises in store for the arrogant Jewish visitor. In the first place, no official picture was taken of this interview nor was a White House press release issued.

Netanyahu has overestimated his capability to pressure the Obama Administration, moreover after the diplomatic mess during the U.S. Vice-President’s recent visit to Israel. The provocation of the new constructions in East Jerusalem may well work against the Israelis, and the crumbling walls turn to be those of proud & arrogant Jewish Jerusalem.

No single democratic state considers Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and all embassies & legations are based in Tel-Aviv. Netanyahu’s speech before Jewish Americans just before the White House encounter was a clear provocation that President Obama was surely not willing to ignore. The pulse is on. Even allies quarrel but no small-fry state should risk the anger of its firmest sponsor.

This rather unintelligent posture has already caused a decline of Netanyahu´s popularity not only in Israel but also strengthened the EU’s rejection of the Israeli arguments to stall the recognition of a Palestinian state. If now, the Obama Administration leaves Israel on its own in its border conflicts with other Middle East powers, Israel may find itself in a true dilemma. It may be best for Israel to agree to play with a fresh deck that avoids turning Jerusalem into a 21st. century Jericho.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra, Madrid


THE PITTSBURGH SUMMIT & THE WORLD’S FUTURE

September 26, 2009
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After Obama’s call for “.. a new era of engagement based on mutual interests and mutual respect ..”, and his insistence that “.. work must begin now”, one would expect world leaders to seriously involve themselves in concrete actions at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. Thus far, the foremost outcome of the meet is the concession of exclusive powers from G-8 to G-20 to resolve the international economic issues.

G20 Pittburgh

I have analysed the final declaration of intentions. Aside from a lack of specific rules, I’m afraid that world leaders have failed to establish a strategic order of priorities in the 31-point document. Stating so optimistically that what has so far been done “has worked” is a rather hasty conclusion.

The economic recovery process, thus far, has a long way to go. From dumping huge amounts into the banking & financial entities to save the system, the governments must return to balanced budgets and inflation adjustments, each state applying specific measure in an unevenly distributed crisis.

President Obama spoke at the UN General Assembly of four pillars as fundamental for the world’s future – non-proliferation & disarmament, the promotion of peace & security, the preservation of our planet and a global economy that advances opportunity for all people. Other world leaders agreed while some remained silent. Still others dared question his posture.

In the very same week, the first three of such pillars were exposed to be dynamited by an issue which ended up stealing the headlines at the summit that had worked on the strengthening of the fourth pillar – “global economy that advances opportunity for all people”.

Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad not only delivered a tirade of religious nonsense at the UN assembly but also an offensive speech that questions the average intelligence of Mankind. In his own right as Iran’s President to preach out his restricted views, Ahmadinejad launched a challenge to world leaders as a clear provocation of what was to come after. Naively picking up the glove, Israeli Prime Minister Nethanyahou availed of his turn to accuse the assisting assembly of ‘lack of decency’ for having politely withstood his adversary’s tirade without abandoning the hemicycle.

West trio

Referring to these speeches is necessary in order to comprehend how Iran stole the show at the Pittsburgh summit. The joint press conference – Obama, Brown & Sarkozy – versed on Iran’s new provocation in the nuclear front. It is evident that the Middle East is the centre of all tensions, a permanent time bomb at the base of Obama’s four pillars. I missed seeing the other two leaders – Medvedev & Hu Jintao – with veto rights at the UN Security Council in said press conference. This is a clear sign that Obama’s wink to Russia has only gone halfway through and China’s approval must wait till after the November bilateral meeting during Obama’s state visit.

Meanwhile this tense situation prevails, scarcely any of the well intended resolutions at the G-20 Pittsburgh summit are worth the paper they are printed on.

There will not only be hard times for placement of 50 M new unemployed all over the world but further risks of armed conflicts East and West of Afghanistan. Whilst the best result of this summit is the decision to grant the G-20 first choice to lead the world in its growth and development, the lack of a convinced single voice to support Obama’s four pillars may well be a wrong point of crossing of the Rubicon at the wrong time.

After all the words at the General Assembly and debates at the G-20 meet, the Pittsburgh assistants have gained a little and lost a lot. They may have missed the best opportunity to show the world how united and decided they are to solve crucial world politics.

The world now faces a new Waterloo.

Fernando Fuster-Fabra

Madrid


OBAMA’S EXTENDED HAND TO THE MUSLIM WORLD

June 4, 2009
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Obama Cairo

When I wrote “Middle East: Obama’s Simmering Volcano” on April 20th., I foresaw President Obama’s firm intentions of veering away from the Bush Muslim-hatred speech that targeted on the Muslim world as the centre of the “axis of evil”.

Today’s speech at El Cairo University and remarks during the stopover visit at Saudi Arabia are a clear indication of the President’s extended hand policy that may for the first time go far beyond the historic words he has pronounced. Indeed, Obama’s speech deserves a special consideration and I would say a thorough attention of some of the keynotes that envision future U.S. foreign policy.

There are two differentiated audiences to which Obama’s speech was addressed to, the Muslim world in general with special emphasis in the Middle East and Central Asian regions, and the 9 M Muslim populations living in the USA. However, White House strategists surely have taken into account that any words pleasant to Muslim ears would in turn have been like sour grape to Jewish communities not only in Israel but specially so amongst the powerful Jewish business sectors in the homeland.

 

Oama MubarakPresident Obama’s humble mea culpa on the Iraq invasion and Afghanistan warfront did not make him waver in his plea for Muslim nations to make an effort to likewise extend their hand in sign of their own goodwill. The firm support for the Alliance of Civilizations created at the proposal of Spain’s Prime Minister, Rodríguez Zapatero, and eagerly seconded by Turkey’s Erdogan under the umbrella of the United Nations, is a clear proof that President Obama has had intense contacts during his first official spree to Europe and Turkey last April. Likewise, citing the Al Andalus Route that established Muslim culture in Andalusia with Córdoba as the seat of learning, was a clear wink to the tolerant model of peaceful co-existence established by the Muslims in the Spanish Peninsula with Christians and Jews in a the prosperous cradle of cultures. However, his advisors should check up historical quotes as Al Andalus in no way was in the same century as the Inquisition.

 

Obama Saudi visit

Unfortunately, the challenge launched must now turn from mere words of the best intentions to actions that show proof of said extended hand in goodwill and peace. President Obama has set up a historic precedent. Now his Muslim counterparts must reply to his extended hand.

 

Madrid, June 4, 2009


OBAMA’S WATERLOO – MIDDLE EAST, AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, IRAN OR GUANTANAMO ?

May 23, 2009
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In the first trench of his mandate, not only has President Obama inherited all of the Bush Administration follies from warfronts to the economic crisis but now has started to create his own.

From some of the inherited woes not properly handled once in the seat of power, the Obama Administration may find itself in the limelight precisely of present-day decisions taken in the wake of election promises that may never be fulfilled.

Obama may09In a previous blog (Middle East: Obama’s Simmering Volcano) last month, I pointed out the risks of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Much has occurred since then, unfortunately in an unfavourable direction.

That simmering volcano has spout out lava towards the East, farther into Central Asia, sending its tremors way beyond the radius of the Middle East conflict zone. Another inherited conflict emanating from the 9-11 terrorist attack has now exceeded the Afghanistan borders and clearly infected neighbouring northern Pakistan.

Iran now has launched its trial missiles in an arrogant stance of its potential nuclear military power. Sitting amid the principal conflict zones affecting the U.S. military involvements in Iraq & Afghanistan with the added need to aid Taliban-invaded Pakistan, a U.S.-Iran confrontation is in the offing. Indeed, the Muslim-dominated part of Asia seems to be a firm candidate to be one of President Obama’s principal woes on short term. This may be the main reason for his June 4th. message to be delivered from Cairo, Egypt to the Muslim world.

guantanamo1Nevertheless, the turn of events on the home front may have put another of Obama’s woes unexpectedly in the limelight – GUANTANAMO.

In spite of being a long-term inheritance in U.S. foreign policy not only attributable to the Bush Administration, then candidate Obama’s election promises obliges the present U.S. Administration to a definite Guantanamo closure at the earliest. Now in this second 100-day trench at the White House, the Obama team has come up with numerous inconveniences to carry out said election compromise. The legal aspects so lightly considered then are building up a steep climb to fulfilment. Beyond the torture practices during the Bush era, definite closure of the dreaded jail on foreign soil seems unattainable.

Cheney may09The possible mess-up is serving Republicans to fuel up debate and no less than former Vice-President Cheney has picked up the issue to criticize the new Administration’s frivolity at rejecting the Bush hard-line anti-terrorist policy. It must be remembered that Cheney is believed to be the principal strategist behind former President Bush’s most questioned decisions during the two-term White House occupancy.

guantanamo2President Obama’s latest speech to counter the disastrous 90 to 6 Senate vote rejection to fund Guantanamo closure was not at all convincing and obviously even further weakened with the timely Cheney address a few minutes after. Something seems to be moving the wrong way for the new Democrat Administration that occupies the White House scarcely 120 days from the swearing in.

US Seal & FlagThe power machinery of the Texas Clan may have just started its bulldoze tactic on the trouble-ridden Obama Administration. Atop its inherited woes, Obama may finally have commenced to face a self-merited Waterloo – GUANTANAMO.

 

Madrid, May 23, 2009


OBAMA’S WOES FOR NEXT 100 DAYS

May 11, 2009
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Having reached his first 100 days with an excellent rate of approval, President Obama has now to face issues both in at home and in the international scenario. No doubt that his firmness in applying economic measures in the bankrupt-threatened automobile industry and the cash-thirsty banking sector has alerted executives the nation over that he means business. However, the international scene is far from being under control and U.S. blunders in the years of the Bush Administration have mined Washington’s credibility as the world’s foremost leader.

As I already observed in previous blogs, Europe has still to see proof of Obama’s goodwill in the global international scenario and Latin America applauded at the Port-of-Spain summit without really giving the new U.S. Administration al approval of what is to come. From a rather broad and objective perspective, the start-off earned a merited approval but also showed that The White House with its new tenant has a lot of legal obstacles to overcome before he can push through relevant promises of his election campaign. Moreover, in trying to move away from his predecessor’s pathetic decisions, President Obama and his team are encountering numerous insurmountable legal of loopholes which will slow down key changes towards a more humane and accepted U.S. government.

obama-brown    If George Bush had his Waterloo in the invasion of Iraq, President Obama’s may well be the Afghanistan – Pakistan terrorist issue. True to say, the Afghanistan Taliban conflict is an inheritance of wrong U.S. strategic policies in trying to circumvent the Russian occupation in the 80’s of this arid central Asian territory. As in many other occasions, the U.S. Administration has supported rebel groups that afterwards have turned to bite their sponsor’s hand, as was the case of the Taliban entrenched in the mountains fighting off the Russian invasion. For almost a decade, Washington entrusted Pakistan’s rule to a military leader only to find that this trust did not resolve the free flow of Al Qaida terrorists through Pakistan to other countries. Today, both Pakistan and Afghanistan have turned into a tough international with the U.S. Administration scarcely supported by other western allies. The European Union flatly turned down President Obama’s request for more troops in Afghanistan and the fleeing Pakistani civilians will briefly have caused a new refugee issue similar to that of the Middle East. Where does Washington expect to turn to when none of the bordering Asian neighbours – India, Iran, and China – wish to support U.S. military plans in the region.

clinton-peres       Further complications will have to arise in the interconnection between Taliban & Palestinian Muslims, should Israel’s hard-line foreign policy towards the Palestinian Territory prevail. The negotiators’ bloc – U.S.A, European Union, United Nations & Russia – presently attempting to bring postures closer has found the recent appointment of a hawkish right-wing Israeli government a serious drawback in their efforts. Not even the recent visit of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, seems to have softened Israel’s new position. Perhaps, this is the very reason why President Obama has scheduled to address a speech on June 4th. from El Cairo to the entire Muslim world. The brief presidential stay in Turkey scarcely a month ago may have not had the desired effects as per White House strategy. The contents of said message are surely relevant enough for the U.S. President to travel twice in such a short period to practically the same region.

chavez-lula           But woes always come in a bunch and Obama’s aren’t any exception. His apparent success in winning over some Latin American leaders at the V Summit of the Americas three weeks ago has now been clouded by Chavez’s latest seizures which may in some way have been provoked by a recent OAS report about Venezuela’s democratic rating. The divided Latin American leaders have shown their lack of united criteria in recent meetings between Brazil’s Lula and his Argentinean & Paraguayan counterparts, as well as harsh disqualifications made by Bolivia’s Morales o Venezuela’s Chavez against Peru’s García. Obama may have hoped to find in Lula a spokesman for all South America, a situation that is far from reality.

Relations with Russia are newly turning icy-cold after two Canadian NATO diplomats faced spying accusations and were expelled from the Russian territory. Russian influence in the Central Asian & Middle East scenarios is quite well-known, with its pronounced pro-Iranian defence of this state’s nuclear programme. More is coming Obama’s way, not only due to tense situations to arise in Asia and Africa in the forthcoming weeks in U.S. relations with China and the Two Koreas in the offing and complications menacing in focal points of Africa.

Finally, the Obama Administration seems to be playing hide-n-seek in its future stand at the Doha Round. Protectionist statements at times and liberal free-markets speeches make U.S. partners wonder exactly if Obama speaks up from the heart or off the cuff, as he joked during the recent newspapermen’s dinner in Washington D.C.. The White House will sooner or later have to let the cat out of the bag and face up to global market reactions either way it may go on world trade and the future of WTO-sponsored talks.  

US-Gibraltar  It is interesting to observe that the new U.S.  Administration may be undergoing lack of coordination between Treasury boss, Tim Geithner and Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, just to cite one example. Recently, Geithner singlehandedly signed a protocol agreement with Gibraltar’s Colonial Chief Minister, Peter Caruana, in an inappropriate state status scenario which is insulting to Spain’s decades-long claim over The Rock, a U.K. Colony retained on the basis of the 18th. century Treaty of Utrecht.

 obama-zp           Precisely, Spain is certainly a key partner in any   attempt by the  Obama Administration to open talks both in the Middle East and the Latin American scenarios. The White House team should check out its coordinates and communicate better to avoid further woes in the international scene. The U.S. Government will need all help possible from its solvent partners in Europe if it wants to resolve ticklish issues in several conflictive regions.

 

Madrid, May 11, 2009


MIDDLE EAST: OBAMA’S SIMMERING VOLCANO

April 20, 2009
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In a Jan. 13th. blog in Spanish ( http://2009-retos-crisis-1.blogspot.com/ ) about the  challenges the world crisis has brought about, my analysis foresaw changes the Obama victory would undertake and some of the difficulties the new Administrations would be faced with. My closing remarks on the Middle East are now slowly becoming a reality.

 

Benjamin Netanyahu’s election as Israel’s new Prime Minister and his forced alliance with the ultra-right leader Avignor Lieberman have been cause of concern in all diplomatic chancelleries all over the world. The first actions of the 30-member cabinet have proved to be more belligerent than Olmert’s outgoing team, inciting Iran to counteract with its own anti-Israeli tirade.

 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has undergone through a tensing process that not even President Obama’s extended hand towards Iran’s President Ahmadineyad seems to have calmed. The ticklish issue is one of the outstanding priorities of the White House in its crusade towards a new U.S. foreign affairs image. April has been a relevant month with previous summits that have taken the President to several European cities, Turkey and finally a surprise visit to Iraq. However, Obama has clearly avoided further contact with the candent Middle East scenario. Hillary Clinton’s official visit to the hotspot, bolstered by the follow-up by U.S. envoy George Mitchell proved sufficient exposure at this stage.

 un-flag1

 

What has worried the U.S. Administration is precisely the transfer of the Middle East confrontation to another front, a U.N.-sponsored summit on racism where Ahmadineyad was to meet Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. Several governments headed by the United States decided to decline the invitation to avoid possible exposure to a diplomatic incident. Said concern was not at all unfounded, with Iran’s President provoking not only the ire of the Israeli delegation but the consternation of several diplomats from the European delegation who abandoned the conference in protest. White House fears have indeed materialised far beyond a territorial dispute to end in a serious diplomatic fiasco with the United Nations sitting atop the simmering Middle East volcano.

 

 

Madrid, April 20, 2009


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