These Past Two Week's Top Stories in Foreign Affairs:
A New Strategy for Afghanistan and A Rare Bit of Good News Out of Pakistan
SI Analysis: The US Senior Commander in Afghanistan Stanley McChrystal submitted his assessment report on the US/NATO AfPaq situation and called for a new strategy. Details of the report have yet to really emerge, however a change in tide of political will -- both in the US and abroad -- for the effort in Afghanistan has been palpable in recent weeks. McChrystal's task is greater now that Hamid Karzai has emerged as the likely victor of the Afghan Presidential elections and this news is being met with reports of massive fraud and a UN call for a partial recount. To add insult to injury, a botched NATO air raid on Taliban in Kunduz did nothing to help. Regardless of growing dissent for the war, McChrystal will likely call for an increase in foreign troops. In a rare bit of good news, there were reports of mass surrender of Taliban militants after the arrest of key Taliban leaders in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. This suggests that coordinated police and military action may be finally bearing some fruit following months of fighting.
Analysis in Brief:
SI Analysis: Hopes -- that the new South African President, Jacob Zuma, and his 14 cohorts of Southern African Development Community would put greater pressure on Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe to respect a power-sharing agreement with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai -- were dashed. Clearly Mr. Mugabe remains in clear and unchecked control of his failing country.
SI Analysis: The reactionary Democratic Party of Japan was elected in a landslide victory over the Liberal Democratic Party. Prime Minister-elect Yukio Hatoyama is faced with the daunting task of saving a flailing Japanese economy with diminishing demographics and inspiring a disenfranchised and nostalgic population. Most analysts fear the DPJ is better suited to winning elections than taking on the task at hand.
Under the Radar:
Colombia's Referendum with Undemocratic Tendencies?
SI Analysis: President Alvaro Uribe, who is the latest Latin American leader to come down with Swine Flu, seemed closer to being able to hold a referendum that would allow him to run for a third term. Meanwhile, many analysts note that Colombian agreements with the US to allow anti-narcotic US military operations to be launched fromColombian military bases have fueled the arms race in South America. Potential arms deals sought by Venezuela and Brazil in particular have drawn attention recently.
Honduras Crisis Endures
SI Analysis: After the failed diplomatic effort to broker a peace deal and a return for ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya led by Costa Rica President Oscar Arias and a delegation from the Organization of American States (OAS), the US has cut all aid to Honduras. US Secretary of State Clinton will meet with Zelaya soon to discuss what else the US will do to pressure the coup leaders to retrench. De facto President Roberto Micheletti says he is planning to call new Presidential elections in November.
Yemen's Enduring Crisis
SI Analysis: Poor management and strategy in confronting ethnic Houthis in the northern Saada Province is pushing tribal rivals of the central Sunni government to ally with the rebels. Furthermore, the moderate Shia group may now be receiving support from Iran. And Saudi Arabia is weighing in by supporting the government offensive. This conflict will likely escalate in the coming weeks, and risks conflagration with the fighting against foreign and domestic Sunni militias in the southern part of the country.