The days of Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad are numbered, though we don’t know the exact number. It may be a long, gory and suppurating goodbye. But goodbye it will be and good riddance.
Since Assad has turned down the Arab League’s offer of a quick and safe exit, the odds are that he will be slain like a dog — a la Qaddafi — when the fighters of the Free Syrian Army finally break through the walls of his last bastion. Whatever happens to him, he will not be the problem.
“Misery,” wrote William Shakespeare, “acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” Most pundits today would say it’s not misery but politics ― especially geopolitics ― that makes strange bedfellows. Almost invariably they would cite the strange case of North Korea and Indonesia.
There is indeed a huge difference between North Korea and Indonesia. One is l’enfant terrible of international affairs. The other is a global activist for democracy, an emerging economic power that would reform the world financial architecture. But there is undeniably a friendship between the two countries.
Asean is caught between the devil and the South China Sea.
It is confronted by two imperatives, the first being the demands of its unity, centrality, credibility and claims to becoming a community with a global outreach. These are bedeviling demands on its performance. They whip the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to be creative, innovative, audacious.
Aung San Suu Kyi is in a fix — because of the Rohingya, the world’s most persecuted people.
Centuries ago, they crossed from Bangladesh to next-door Arakan (now Rakhine) in Myanmar. Labeled pejoratively as “Bengali,” they have never been accepted by the other ethnic groups of that country — because they are Muslims in an overwhelmingly Buddhist land, and because of their dark Indian looks. In 1980 the then-strongman Ne Win stripped them of their citizenship. Military rule, harsh on all Myanmar, is particularly crushing to the Rohingya: they had been shorn not only of their citizenship but also of their worth as human beings.
Hundreds of them have sought refuge in Bangladesh but they’re not wanted there: they’ve also been turned back by the hundreds. As many as 24,000 have found their way to Malaysia. Hundreds more to India, Indonesia and Thailand.
Here come de judge! Here come de judge! The judge in this case isn’t Sammy Davis Jr. but the stern chief justice of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Iftikhar Chaudhry, who became a folk hero when he stood up to then-President Pervez Musharraf in 2007.
In March that year, Musharraf suspended Chaudhry on charges of corruption because he wouldn’t extend Musharraf’s tenure by judicial fiat. In his struggle against the strongman, Chaudhry was supported by other judges, lawyers and Pakistanis in their millions.
After enduring the burlesque that was the impeachment of a Philippine Supreme Court Chief Justice, we are treated to the drama of his American counterpart rising to greatness.
US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts late last week handed down the deciding opinion that upheld the constitutionality of the Affordable Health Care Act, better known by both detractors and supporters as Obamacare. Four justices known to be liberals voted with the Chief Justice. Three conservatives and one who is normally the swing vote dissented.