Europe, Canada and US,

On his inaugural trip as president, Obama basked in adulation, though behind the media circus lie serious problems, observes Eric Walberg
26/2/9 -- Barack Obama's first international trip as United States president was a quickie seven-hour visit to Canada's capital Ottawa, where he thrilled adoring fans by calling Canada "sexy", though he added, "even if it's in an unsexy way,"

The new president is discovering that America's road to Kabul goes through Moscow, says Eric Walberg

12/2/9 -- As United States President Barack Obama prepares to transfer troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, Al-Qaeda and other jihadists are also "transferring" there, according to Afghan Defence Minister General Abdel-Rahim Wardak, giving the country the dubious distinction of remaining the centre of the "war on terror". Throwing down the gauntlet to Obama, the Taliban successfully closed the Khyber Pass yet again last week by blowing up a bridge, torching 10 supply trucks for good measure.

"The WEF is not a government of the world," reassured organiser Andre Schneider wistfully in the frigid Davos air. At least not yet, adds Eric Walberg

5/2/9 -- The world's economic elite gathered in a subdued atmosphere at this year's World Economic Forum to assess the now global economic crisis. New York University professor Niso Abuaf compared it to a funeral, though not for the sake of the dead " ancien regime ", but "for the ones staying behind".

Even before the euphoria evaporates, analysts are preaching gloom and doom for Obama on the home front, says Eric Walberg

29/1/9 -- The easy part is over. A flourish of executive orders closing Guantanamo, dismantling much of president George W Bush's architecture for the "war on terror", allowing family planning promotion abroad. The hard part has begun. United States President Barack Obama is faced with an economy in galloping depression, the worst since the 1930s on all counts.

More tricks and hot air from across the Atlantic leave Europeans in the cold, observes Eric Walberg

12/11/9 -- A hurried resolution to the Ukraine-Russia gas war was reached during a visit to Moscow by Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko to meet with her Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin in mid-January. Ukraine finally agreed to pay higher European prices for Russian gas from 2010, with a 20 per cent discount for 2009.

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Canadian Eric Walberg is known worldwide as a journalist specializing in the Middle East, Central Asia and Russia. A graduate of University of Toronto and Cambridge in economics, he has been writing on East-West relations since the 1980s.

He has lived in both the Soviet Union and Russia, and then Uzbekistan, as a UN adviser, writer, translator and lecturer. Presently a writer for the foremost Cairo newspaper, Al Ahram, he is also a regular contributor to Counterpunch, Dissident Voice, Global Research, Al-Jazeerah and Turkish Weekly, and is a commentator on Voice of the Cape radio.

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Eric's latest book The Canada Israel Nexus is available here