Archive for March 10th, 2011

March 10, 2011

Back to square one for the USA as negotiations for a peace/ exit plan start with the Taliban

According to an article in New Yorker Magazine on February 20, the USA has commenced direct talks with with leaders of the Taliban in Afghanistan to explore a peace plan. This has been more or less confirmed by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  However, as the US has been at war with the Taliban for almost ten years, it is difficult to see what it has established if on its leaving, it seeks to have a dialogue with the Taliban which it has steadfastly accused of being linked to Al Qaeda.

RT.COM interviewed Shahzoda Shahed, an Islamic lawyer and a member of the National Reconciliation Council in Afghanistan. He is an ‘unassociated’ deputy of Parliament and is considered to be the deputy of Hekmatyar,  a leading rebel leader who refuses to acknowledge the authority of the country’s President  Karzai.

According to him, the Taliban will never acknowledge the current government as they had warred with the Mujahideens and were proud of their successes. They are angry that the Americans destroyed all of their government structures and tried to destroy them but failed and feel that they have regained their spirit and strength and want to rule again. He comments that, essentially, they are independently-minded people and will stick to their beliefs to the very end. For them, losing is not an option. So it seems there are tough times ahead at the negotiation table for Mrs. Clinton and the Obama team.

[Middle East Contributor]

March 10, 2011

People power revolts and diplomatic problems for the European Union

BBC News reports that on Friday, the EU will look closely at its diplomatic strategy for ‘people power’ regions which include Libya and most of the Arab world.

A particular problem for the EU is that it will need to decide soon whether to acknowledge the rebel National Libyan Council (NLC) and put in a ‘no-fly zone’ so that Colonel Gaddafi‘s bombing attacks on the rebels will be curtailed.  If it does not act quickly, there will be most certainly increases in civilian deaths and injuries. However, if it does act soon, then it will certainly make other Arab autocracies worried about western interference giving comfort to ‘people power’ revolts a la Libya.  Furthermore, there is the problem that Libya is a major oil supplier to the west. For example, its crude oil supplies amount to a significant proportion of the oil imports of many European countries: Italy – 22%;  the Irish Republic – 23%, Austria-21%, France – 15.7%; Greece – 14.6%. In that regard, there is pressing urgency to bring stability to Libya.

However, the best way to go about stabilizing Libya and keeping its new masters to be and their Arab neighbours friends of the west whilst EU made weapons (supplied to the Gaddafi regime by France, Belgium and Italy a few years before the revolts) continue to fire upon the rebels,  remains a tricky diplomatic problem for the EU.

[Fanswar Sahid – Middle East & Africa Contributor]

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March 10, 2011

EU Commission steamrollers in EU patent despite adverse court ruling

EU Observer reports that despite the recent adverse rulings of the European Court of Justice on the matter, the European Commission is steamrollering in its plans for a single EU patent.

The Commission’s plan to save costs and unify national patent standards by creating a single European patent had been met with a stony response from EU member states right from the start.  Spain and Italy, concerned about their patents being discriminated against from the other member states on a language basis,  had rejected the idea.  All the more, in its judgment the European Court of Justice had supported the widely-held concerns among member states concerning unfair competition from outsiders, particularly because the Commission’s plans included joining in Switzerland, Turkey and a number of other countries outside the EU.

According to the ruling, ‘the agreement would alter the essential character of the powers conferred on the institutions of the European Union and on the member states,’ to which the Commission replied with an equivocal “now that the opinion is available, the commission will analyse it very carefully with a view to identifying appropriate solutions”. In the meantime, Zoltán Cséfalvay on behalf of the EU Presiding State of Hungary, made it clear that notwithstanding the decision the ‘work will continue’.

[European Affairs Contributor]