The Week in Review
Jerusalem a Tinderbox
Reports of Israelis bracing for another outbreak of war appeared justified last week as Arabs suddenly turned violent over construction and excavation projects. Protests began as soon as Israelis set about replacing a damaged ramp that sits 200 feet from the Temple Mount. By Friday, the protests had become violent; among swelling crowds, Arabs began throwing rocks at Israeli police, who responded with stun grenades and tear gas. Within a day, protests and riots had erupted in other parts of Israel, in Egypt and Jordan, and other Middle East nations, as Arabs accused Israel of trying to destroy their holy sites. Jerusalem remains the most explosive place in the world; this latest violence portends the city being split in two very soon.
Pope Attacks Anti-Marriage Laws
On Friday, Pope Benedict xvi again came out strongly against the steady flow of legislation that is weakening the institution of marriage in Western society. His latest attack on anti-family laws resulted from the Italian government’s passing of a bill that gives legal rights to unmarried homosexual and heterosexual couples. This bill follows similar civil union legislation enacted within the last few years in Slovenia and Switzerland. Feeling the rising power and influence of the Vatican, the left wing in Europe is rushing such legislation through for fear of a right wing backlash against secular tendencies within the European Union.
EU Treaty Up for Grabs
In statements that are bound to apply pressure to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s current presidency of the EU, both the Netherlands prime minister and EU Commission president have cast doubts on the present EU constitution being ratified. Merkel has touted agreement on the constitution as being a central plank in her EU presidency. However, nine of the current EU members have yet to sign the constitution, with the French and Dutch referenda rejecting it outright, and the British government refusing thus far to put the matter to a referendum for fear of rejection. EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso stated on Friday that “Those who want the treaty exactly as it is, have to accept that it is not possible [for the constitution to move forward].”
Mbeki Fails to Deliver
anc/Communist president of South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, in his annual state of the nation message was forced to acknowledge the obvious. His government needs to do more to help millions of unemployed, poor or landless living on the fringes of the country’s economy. This is simply tantamount to admitting that in South Africa, similar to other decolonized African nations, the rich are getting richer, at the expense of the poor, who are becoming not only greater in number, but much the poorer. Mbeki’s announced solution was a promise to speed up the land grab from whites, following in the footsteps of Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe, who has successfully trashed the Zimbabwean economy by similar methods, only much faster.
Zimbabwe Heads for Total Collapse
Zimbabwe’s inflation rate tipped more than 1,280 percent last week. A worker’s wage pays barely for transport alone just to get to and from work. The situation is dire. Famine breathes down the nation’s neck. This once rich and plentiful nation’s crisis stems from the Mugabe government seizure of white-owned farms for redistribution to blacks, touted as a way of reversing colonial-era imbalances. The seizures, having devastated the economy’s agricultural foundation, are causing widespread hunger. In a typical denial of reality, President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled since independence in 1980, blames the crisis on Western sanctions.
Russia Set to Mediate U.S. Withdrawal From Iraq
Stratfor reports that it seems as though a serious and complex diplomatic game involving the United States and Iran is under way, and Russia is the middleman. Moscow has recently sold the Tor-M1 anti-aircraft missile system to Iran and is currently negotiating the sale of Russia’s S-300 missile. Using this fact of its helping to arm Iran to defend itself against the U.S. and Israel as a lever, the Russians have offered to mediate between Iran and the U.S. to help the United States get out of Iraq. The price Russia is asking? Washington must cut back its support of anti-Moscow elements in Ukraine. If the deal is agreed, it will hasten Russia’s effort to draw a western border between itself and the eastward expanding EU, at the same time significantly raising Russia’s profile as a lead player in international relations, at the expense of the U.S.