23 January 2016   Leave a comment

Peace negotiations on Syria are scheduled to begin on Monday in Geneva, but the skirmishing among the various parties suggests that no one is taking the negotiations seriously.  The US and Turkey are bogged down over which representatives of the Kurds are acceptable negotiators.  The Saudi-backed Syrian rebels insist that Russian air strikes must first cease before they will participate in the negotiations.  And no one knows what seat at the table the Iranians should have.  It is hard to find any party to the negotiations who is genuinely interested in a cease-fire to save the Syrian people.

Masoud Barzani, a prominent Kurdish leader, has called for a redrawing of the international boundaries in the Middle East that are the unfortunate legacies of European imperialism.  The current boundaries were draw up in a secret agreement between Britain and France–the Sykes-Picot Agreement–in 1916 without the knowledge or consent of any of the peoples directly affected.  Those boundaries exacerbate ethnic and religious tensions in the region

Japan accepted 27 refugees in 2015.  Japan has a stellar humanitarian aid network and is active in many international organizations.  But it is reluctant to allow outsiders into its society.  Japan is profoundly homogeneous, a strange base upon which to base an economy which is almost completely reliant upon open access to all markets.  Japanese demographics, however, may force a change in attitudes: Japan does not have enough young people to support a rapidly ageing population.

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Posted January 24, 2016 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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