11 June 2017   Leave a comment

The French conducted the first round of their parliamentary elections and Emmanuel Macron’s new party appears headed for a significant victory, suggesting that it might get between 390 and 430 of the 577 seats available.  Given that the party, En Marche!, was only founded last year, this possible outcome is stunning.  Unfortunately, the election also saw a significant number of non-voters, with only 49% of registered voters actually casting a ballot.  But even the abstentions indicate that the established parties of France, which have been around for a very long time, do not seem to command the loyalty of the voters–a troubling sign.

Elena Milashina, a reporter for the Russian magazine, Novaya Gazeta, has written about an intense campaign in Chechnya against gays.  Chechnya has a long history of unrest against central control from Moscow–most of its residents are Muslim.  It has been ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov who, in return for professing total loyalty to President Putin, has been allowed to run the region essentially as a fiefdom.  The campaign against gays includes torture, detention, and murder, but Moscow has done little to protect its citizens human rights.  Without the courage of reporters like Milashina it is unlikely that the world would be aware of this horrific situation.

Paul Pillar is one of the most learned and intelligent analyst of Middle Eastern affairs and he has written a short essay for the National Interest on the dust-up between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  The dispute itself seems larger than the issues involved, and Pillar makes the case that the Trump Administration has unnecessarily aggravated the tensions because of its hard-line against Iran.  Fortunately, it appears as if Kuwait and Oman are trying to mediate the crisis to avoid it spilling over into violence.

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Posted June 11, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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