African and Arab rivalries

February 05, 2009
Will peace be strangled by slippery regional politics?
Will peace be strangled by slippery regional politics?

As President Obama's new envoy to the middle east George Mitchell grapples with the fearsome task of negotiating peace between Israel and the Palestinians, he's also going to have to contend with the rivalries of Arab regional players, writes Paul Raymond. A radical wing of Arab states, newly emboldened by a round of Qatar-sponsored diplomacy, could make his job very difficult. Only through understanding the tangled nuances of Arab regional politics (something the previous US regime failed to do), will Mitchell ever be able to negotiate a lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

Tangled regional politics also loom large in Ben Simon's report from Uganda this week. In the past couple of months Uganda, Rwanda and Congo, formerly bitter rivals, have finally started to work together to oust the rebels that have been causing havoc across their borders for years. There are signs that their efforts are working: on 22nd January eastern Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda was captured in a joint military operation, and rebel forces in the north of Congo are also on the back foot. But will the three countries be able to trust each other long enough to make any real difference?