New York Times reports on the outrages prices of KFC chicken in the Gaza Strip...smuggled from Egypt in underground tunnels! Read also about clashes in Tunisia between militant Islamists and security forces, fresh crackdown on dissenters in Saudi Arabia, and a new peak in violence in Iraq.
- The New York Times: Tunneling KFC to Gazans craving the world outside (Fares Akram, May 15)
"The French fries arrive soggy, the chicken having long since lost its crunch. A 12-piece bucket goes for about $27 here -- more than twice the $11.50 it costs just across the border in Egypt."
President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron are discussing the crisis in Syria during bilateral talks in Washington today, as diplomatic efforts to find a political solution gather pace. Again.
Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry agreed with Russian officials on a new international conference on Syria, with the participation of Syrian government representatives and the opposition. Syrian government has reportedly appointed its negotiator, while the opposition coalition says it will decide on its participation later this month.
Should the conference go through, it will be the first time that the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and the opposition formally sit at a negotiating table. But no date has been set yet and there's plenty of reason for scepticism. Not least because the US-Russian initiative avoids the central issue over which all previous mediation attempts had floundered: can Assad stay in power?
Continue reading: Obstacles to a Peaceful Resolution in Syria
The BBC and the Guardian write about the ceasefire between the Turkish government and Kurdish separatist rebels, and how the deal could affect the wider region. See also why the scientist Stephen Hawking joined the international academic boycott of Israel, and the latest on presidential elections in Iran.
- BBC: PKK Kurdish deal with Turkey may worry Iran and Syria (Guney Yildiz, May 10)
"Rebels of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have begun leaving south-eastern Turkey for their main bases in northern Iraq, but there is no talk of disarmament yet. Instead, several top commanders of the PKK have said they will keep and even consolidate their forces. So what will the thousands of well-trained militants in Qandil, Zap and other PKK-controlled areas of northern Iraq do, as the truce with Turkey holds?"
Marc Lynch at the Foreign Policy magazine writes how the civil war in Syria derailed the Arab Spring in the Middle East. Read also on the latest developments in Iraq, Syria's neighbor which suffers from similar internal divisions, and the inability of the Egyptian opposition to stand up to the Islamists.
- Foreign Policy: How Syria Ruined the Arab Spring (Marc Lynch, May 3)
"The promise of the Arab Spring has given way to Syria's highly visible and protracted violence, divisive identity politics, focus on international intervention, crushing of expectations, fragmentation of the media landscape, state failure, and strategic proxy warfare."