Obama's quiet war machines

By Tim Marshall, January 6, 2011

An American President authorises the bombing of a country with which it is not at war. The operation is undertaken not by the military but the CIA, and is concealed from Congress and the parliament of the country being bombed.

Pilotless drone air strikes are conducted on average once every three days, overseen from a base in California 8,000 miles from the target. Hundreds of innocent men women and children are killed in the assault.

The President is Barack Obama, the country is Pakistan, and the media scrutiny is almost invisible.


New year, old tricks: Palestinians go to UN

By Robin Shepherd, January 6, 2011

The signs were there for all to see. 2011 was always going to be the year that the Palestinians turned to the United Nations to help obscure the reality of their own rejectionism as the root cause of the Israel-Palestine conflict, and to use inbuilt majorities in that less than august institution to make life as difficult as possible for the state of Israel.


Bibi asks US to free Pollard. Why now?

By Nathan Jeffay, December 29, 2010

For the first time since spy Jonathan Pollard started serving a life sentence for his espionage in 1987, Israel is formally calling for his freedom.

A US court found Pollard guilty of passing military secrets to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the US Navy. He is incarcerated at a federal jail in North Carolina.


In the MidEast, only Israel does Christmas

By Robin Shepherd, December 29, 2010

Consider the following two images of this year's Christmas. At the Our Lady of Salvation church in Baghdad, the Associated Press wrote, "bits of dried flesh and blood remained stuck on the ceiling" following the October 31 massacre of 68 worshippers by an Islamist militant group threatening that Iraqi Christians would be "exterminated". A terrified group of 300 huddled together in the church to make the best of a desperate predicament.


Why Jewish refugees are a hot topic again

By Nathan Jeffay, December 22, 2010

Israel's Foreign Ministry has begun a push to force the other Middle East refugees onto the international agenda and factor them into peace talks.

The United Nations estimates that, upon the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, 726,000 Palestinians became refugees. Meanwhile, Arab states displaced a large number of Jews. The advocacy organisation Justice for Jews from Arab Countries estimates the number at 856,000.

Two thirds moved to Israel but, strangely, Israel has done little to demand that they are compensated. So why is the Foreign Ministry taking up the issue now?


Dictators: how to prop up your regime

By Emanuele Ottolenghi, December 22, 2010

Last week, Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, abruptly fired his foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki. Even by his low standards of etiquette, the event was unprecedented, leaving aghast even traditional supporters of the president.

Mottaki was visiting Senegal to mend relations in West Africa after Iranian weapons shipments had been seized in Gambia. The shipments were understood to have been the works of Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC).


Teflon Bibi turns crisis into uplift

By Nathan Jeffay, December 16, 2010

In the run up to last year's general election which made him prime minister, some pundits referred to Binyamin Netanyahu as "Teflon Netanyahu". That was to say, political and PR disasters did not seem to scathe him.


The United Nations route to solving this impasse is fools' gold

By Robin Shepherd, December 16, 2010

It has been a mixed couple of weeks for the Palestinian Authority. With the breakdown of peace talks they have managed to land the blame where most of the world was only too ready to place it anyway: it's Israel's fault because of the settlements, and not theirs for their refusal to negotiate without pre-conditions.


This could be the end of Netanyahu's coalition

By Anshel Pfeffer, December 16, 2010

The press was invited on Wednesday afternoon to cover a meeting between Binyamin Netanyahu and IDF soldiers undergoing a military conversion course. An hour before the reception, the Prime Minister's Office changed its mind: the event would be closed to the media.


Griffin cast aside by the newly violent

By Nick Lowles, December 16, 2010

Last Saturday British National Party leader Nick Griffin addressed his party's annual conference in Leicester. He promised a renewed political energy and increased militancy against radical Islam.

Despite his fighting talk, his words fell on deaf ears. Whereas once Griffin's hardline speech would have caused ripples in some sections of the media, he was now largely ignored.

While it would be wrong to dismiss the threat from the BNP, as the austerity measures should play into their hands, it is, for now, a sideshow.