Middle East

The latest Mumbai bombings were not obviously the work of Pakistani extremists, but reflect the unrest thanks to America’s continued reckless policies of escalation in the region, notes Eric Walberg

India has shown admirable restraint, refusing to accuse its Western neighbour following the triple bombing in India’s financial capital Mumbai last week which killed 19 people and injured 129. The area targetted, with its gem and precious-metal traders, witnessed bombings in 1993, 2004 and 2006, culminating in the November 2008 siege of Mumbai, in which 166 people died.

The drama now playing out on the high seas has captured the world’s hearts‭, ‬says‭ ‬Eric Walberg

The tiny Dignité/Karama‭, ‬sailing under a French flag‭, ‬left Corsica on 25‭ ‬June‭, ‬and has been chugged along for the past weeks mostly in Greek waters‭. ‬Its last stop was the Greek island Kastellorizo on Saturday‭, ‬after which it headed south‭. ‬The 16‭ ‬passengers‭ ‬onboard view themselves as representatives of the entire Freedom Flotilla II‭: ‬Stay Human‭. ‬The rest of the Flotilla’s ships have all been detained in Greek ports‭, ‬some sabotaged‭, ‬others on technicalities‭, ‬and when that failed‭ ‬—‭ ‬the withdrawal of their flags‭.‬

Is Turkey's new regional assertiveness yet another case of "the tail wagging the dog", wonders Eric Walberg

Turkey's foreign policy has changed dramatically since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the unrivalled ascendance of the US, Turkey's principal ally since its founding as a republic in 1923. Formerly, it acted as a proxy for US power in the region. As a member of NATO since 1952, it was a strategic Cold War foe of the Soviet Union. Turkey was the second Muslim nation (after Iran) to recognise Israel soon after it declared itself an independent state in 1948, and maintained close political and economic ties with that key Middle East ally of the US through thick and thin. Turkey was encouraged by the US to move into ex-Soviet Central Asia as it opened up after the collapse of the Soviet Union, with the goal of co-opting the Turkic-speaking "stans", bringing them into the Western fold by appealing to their Turkic heritage.

There is much angst among people of conscience over the fate of Freedom Flotilla II, but by effectively scuttling it, Israel is really just hammering more nails in its own coffin, says Eric Walberg
The efforts by Israel to prevent Freedom Flotilla II from leaving Greece have been largely successful. Of the original 10 ships, only the French ship Al-Karama (dignity) with 10 activists including French politicians, which sailed from the French Corsica two weeks ago, and the sabotaged-and-repaired Juliano (named after Juliano Meir Khamis, the murdered Israeli director of Jenin’s Freedom Theatre), were able to elude the Greek coastguard as of early this week.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s younger half-brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, was killed in Kandahar on 12 July during a gathering in his house, according to Kandahar’s Canadian Governor Tooryali Wesa. He was shot in the head and chest with a AK-47 fired by Sardar Mohammad, a former bodyguard to another Karzai brother Qayyoum.

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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 http://www.claritypress.com/WalbergIV.html