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By Mustafa Akyol ISTANBUL: Since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power in Turkey in late 2002, the media have had a hard time finding an apt word to define it. While the AKP insists on calling itself “conservative” and emphatically underlines that it is “not a religious party”, popular definitions adopted by the …

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Burma: India’s bad neighbor policy

By Shashi Tharoor NEW DELHI: As stage-managed elections ratify the consequences of three decades of military rule in Burma, the perspective from its neighbor India may help explain why there is continued international acceptance of the country’s long-ruling junta. Burma was ruled as part of Britain’s Indian Empire until 1935, and the links between the two …

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Justice for Some

By Joseph Stiglitz NEW YORK: The mortgage debacle in the United States has raised deep questions about “the rule of law,” the universally accepted hallmark of an advanced, civilized society. The rule of law is supposed to protect the weak against the strong, and ensure that everyone is treated fairly. In America in the wake of …

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Germany’s will to compromise

By Michael Bolle and Cordelia Friesendorf BERLIN: “Confront, then compromise” could well become Germany’s mantra for successful European Union negotiations. Germany is willing to bail out member states in exchange for tougher fiscal austerity and a suspension of voting rights, but Chancellor Angela Merkel’s demand for permanent crisis-resolution mechanisms, together with changes to the Lisbon Treaty, …

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Hamas and the social Islamization of Gaza

By Mkhaimar Abusada GAZA CITY: The Gaza Strip was known as a very traditional and conservative society long before Hamas seized control of it in June 2007. The densely-populated Strip is primarily inhabited by Palestinian refugees who have long suffered from poverty and negligence. But since Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, it has intensified its …

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How Turkey is changing

By Soner Cagaptay, Hale Arifagaoglu and Cansin Ersoz WASHINGTON, DC: The Justice and Development Party (AKP) rose to power in Turkey in 2002, introducing new social, political and foreign policy currents throughout Turkish society. Reports indicate that under the AKP’s guidance, Turkey is becoming more conservative. While social conservatism is not in itself a problem, a …

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Austerity politics, then and now

By Harold James PRINCETON: Britain’s policy of fiscal consolidation, recently announced by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, sent shock waves around the world. Osborne argued that Britain was on the brink: that there was no alternative to his policy if the country was to avoid a massive crisis of confidence. Other countries, such as Greece, …

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The opportunity in Seoul

By Yoon Young-kwan SEOUL: Hubris usually gives birth to disaster. The root cause of the current global crisis was intellectual hubris in the form of the blind belief that markets would always resolve their own problems and contradictions. Thirty years after the Reagan-Thatcher revolution, the ideological pendulum has begun to swing in the opposite direction. Each …

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Diplomacy’s darkest hours

By Shlomo Ben Ami MADRID: Diplomacy is not having its finest hour nowadays. Quite the contrary: resistance to diplomatic solutions is a common thread in most of today’s major conflicts. Afghanistan will continue to bleed until the allies finally recognize that only by engaging the Taliban do they stand a chance of ending the war. But …

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Why is China lashing out?

By Ian Buruma NEW YORK: It must be galling for the Chinese government to keep seeing Nobel Prizes go to the wrong Chinese. The first wrong Chinese was Gao Xingjian, a critical playwright, artist, and novelist, who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 2000, while living in exile in Paris. The latest is Liu Xiaobo, …

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Indonesia’s democratic Islam

By Alfred Stepan and Jeremy Menchik NEW YORK: The visit by “Barry Obama,” the Indonesian nickname for the former resident and current United States president, to Jakarta is intended, as much as anything, to celebrate the achievements of the largest Muslim-majority country in the world. In the 12 years since its transition to democracy, Indonesia has …

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A global interfaith initiative to change the world

By Rahim Kanani CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts: More than two-thirds of the world’s population — over 4 billion people — identify with one religion or another. Imagine the motivational energy of these 4 billion people used as a positive force for global social change. Whether tackling issues of poverty, disease, health, energy, education, gender inequality or any urgent …

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How to negotiate with the Taliban

By Qamar-ul Huda WASHINGTON, DC: The war against the Taliban is passing the nine-year mark and NATO forces are waning in their commitment to a never-ending counterinsurgency war. Is time ripe for negotiating a deal with the Taliban? If so, what does negotiating with the Taliban mean? With over 150,000 troops in Afghanistan, another 30,000 American …

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Building the India-US partnership

By Ashley Tellis WASHINGTON, DC: President Barack Obama’s first presidential visit to India offers a unique opportunity to cement a global partnership with a rapidly emerging power. Set to become the world’s third or fourth largest economy by 2030, India could become America’s most important strategic partner. In coming decades, a strong bilateral partnership will prove …

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Calling on Robert Wexler

By Alon Ben-Meir It is time for the White House to bring on a new Mideast peace team. At various points in the past several months Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell has responded to reporters’ questions about the stalled peace process by recalling his experience mediating the conflict in Northern Ireland, stating that …

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We are woven out of many coloured threads

By Alia Hogben KINGSTON, Canada: I must be a slow learner. It is only recently that I startled myself by realizing that my complex identity also includes being Western, along with being Indian, Burmese and Muslim. Because I have lived in other countries I have absorbed so much of other religions and cultures, and yet I …

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Stabilize Karachi to stabilize Pakistan

By Huma Yusuf WASHINGTON, DC: While Pakistan grapples with the worst recorded flooding of the Indus River Delta, the country’s financial capital, Karachi, is on the brink of what is being described as a civil war. A sprawling metropolis of 18 million people, Karachi has long been plagued by political violence. But the sharp escalation this …

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The cost of America’s free lunch

By Daniel Gros BRUSSELS: For decades, the world has complained that the dollar’s role as global reserve currency has given the United States, in a term usually attributed to Charles de Gaulle but actually coined by his finance minister, Valery Giscard d’Estaing, an “exorbitant privilege.” As long as exchange rates were fixed under the Bretton Woods …

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Russia’s lost opportunity with Japan

By Yuriko Koike TOKYO: President Dmitri A. Medvedev visit to the south Kuril Islands, which the Soviet Red Army seized from Japan in the closing days of World War II, has demonstrated in unmistakable terms that Russia has no intention of returning the mineral-rich islands. This visit is not only a lost opportunity, given Russia’s need …

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Discussing economic (and also political) freedom in Cairo

By  Ronald Meinardus CAIRO: This year, we are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of the unification of Germany. Apart from bringing unity and freedom to the people of that country, this epochal event also symbolizes more than anything else the end of the global confrontation between what was then the East and the West. This conflict came …

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Opportunities for foreign influence

By Safa Hussein BAGHDAD: If government formation in Iraq is to be compared with that of other countries, the two most distinguishing characteristics of the Iraqi case would be the lengthy time involved and the influence of foreign countries. Since the March 7, 2010 national elections, the number of visits by Iraqi political leaders and delegations …

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The weary titan

By Pierre Buhler PARIS: The unfolding “currency war,” which is likely to dominate discussions at the upcoming G-20 summit in Seoul, must be assessed against the backdrop of the new landscape of power — a landscape that has been transformed, in just two years, by the first crisis of the globalized economy. The economic consequences of …

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Righting the Wrongs of Leprosy

By Yohei Sasakawa TOKYO: At its 15th session, which ended at the beginning of October, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution encouraging governments to eliminate discrimination against people affected by leprosy — and their family members. As the World Health Organization’s Goodwill Ambassador for Leprosy Elimination, I have long campaigned for this outcome. …

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Oman: Going head-to-head

By Oxford Business Group Rivalry in Oman’s busy telecommunications sector is heating up as the two main service providers look to increase subscriber numbers in the fixed line, mobile phone and internet markets while also working to strengthen their capital positions to support further expansion. Competition between the state-controlled Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) and the Nawras, …

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The dilemma of democracy in new Iraq

By Faiza Alaraji BAGHDAD: When America invaded Iraq in 2003, the Bush administration claimed that they came to liberate Iraq and bring democracy — to make it a shining example in the Middle East. I believe most Iraqis still remember those rosy promises, and smile with bitterness, wondering to themselves: what kind of democracy have we …

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The peace process should quit smoking

By Karam Dana BOSTON: Nothing makes a person more uncomfortable than visiting their home country and feeling very helpless. As a Palestinian-American, visiting the West Bank, where I was born, forces me to taste the burdens of daily life, as well as feel the despair of an entire population. No matter how long the Palestinians walk, …

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Angela Merkel’s fear of Europe

By Joschka Fischer BERLIN: Ever since the global financial crisis erupted in September 2008, the European Union has been in turmoil. On the one hand, the euro protected the eurozone, particularly Germany’s export economy, from speculative attacks and the chaos of currency volatility. On the other hand, the second phase of the crisis mercilessly exposed the …

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A scramble for Asia?

By Brahma Chellaney NEW DELHI: Asia’s festering Cold War-era territorial and maritime disputes highlight the fact that securing long-term region-wide peace depends on respect for existing borders. Attempts to disturb Asia’s territorial status quo are an invitation to endemic conflict — a concern that led Asian states to welcome the US and Russia to their annual …

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Lebanon: Balancing act on debt

By Oxford Business Group Lebanon’s government has been urged by a multilateral lender to strengthen its public finances, upgrade infrastructure and improve the business environment to sustain recent macroeconomic progress. However, servicing the nation’s vast public debt is a constant drain on the funds needed for many of these initiatives. In its latest assessment of the …

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Can religious leaders play a constructive role?

By Hanna Siniora JERUSALEM – In a message that concluded two weeks of meetings of the Vatican Synod on the Middle East, the bishops declared that Israel should not use the biblical concept of a promised land or a chosen people to justify new settlements in Jerusalem or territorial claims in the West Bank. The statement …

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