Author Archives: Peter Speetjens



Reading Time: 3 minutes Following the suspension of two FIFA executive committeemembers for accepting bribes, the world’s governing football organization onDecember 2 announced that Russia and Qatar will host the World Cup (WC) in 2018and 2022 respectively. While Russia — with England — was a favorite from the start,Qatar came as a total surprise. Especially in the West, commentators

The tale of two Ammans

Reading Time: 3 minutes   Jordan is often said to be divided, both demographically andpolitically, between so-called “real” Jordanians and those of Palestiniandescent. Yet that is hardly the only fault line lurking below the relativepeace that has reigned over the Hashemite Kingdom in recent decades. The capital, Amman, for example, is like an apple split intotwo unequal halves. West

Banking the Holocaust

Reading Time: 3 minutes   Victims turned into villains on November 9 when the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced it had arrested 17 people accused of issuing false claims and documents to obtain pensions and hardship allowances from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany, better known as the Jewish Claims Conference (JCC). There are

A state of denial

Reading Time: 11 minutes   Since the late 1990s, the state of Lebanon’s environment has been stagnant at best,” said president of environmental charity Greenline Ali Darwish, who has been on the frontline of Lebanon’s eco-battle for some 17 years. “In terms of waste, water resources, energy use and green space, we are actually going backward. Perhaps the only

Bibi’s iron wall

Reading Time: 3 minutes   The dream of Eretz Yisrael (Greater Israel) is as alive as ever in the Jewish state. And to make that dream a reality, Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu has been using a time-honored Israeli negotiating strategy: appear reasonable, while making impossible demands to gain time in which to change facts on the ground. Bibi’s

The art of crime

Reading Time: 3 minutes The recent theft of a $50 million Van Gogh painting from the Mahmoud Khalil Museum in Cairo is hardly an isolated case. As art prices continue to skyrocket, the underworld is rapidly developing a taste for culture, turning art theft into a global business worth some $6 billion annually, according to the FBI. Only last

Wanton democracy

Reading Time: 3 minutes Words are like colors. They come and go with the seasons. Not so very long ago, words like “democratization” and “a new Middle East” were all the fashion in Washington and many a journalist, the trendy type, jumped on the bandwagon arguing that the Iraq war was about just that: democracy. But the tune changed

A Nile of denial

Reading Time: 3 minutes Conflict is looming on the Nile’s southern horizon. Following 13 years of fruitless negotiations with Egypt and Sudan over a new Nile Agreement, four of the river’s upstream countries decided to go it alone on May 14. Ethiopia, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda signed a new treaty that calls for equitable water sharing, while Kenya, Congo

A liberty too far?

Reading Time: 3 minutes If I were to be one country of all the countries in the world, I would be Israel, at least in terms of external relations. After all, what other country has the liberty to invade neighboring territories with impunity, bomb civilian targets, assassinate adversaries using forged Western passports, spy on its most fervent financial and

Genocide vs. geopolitics

Reading Time: 3 minutes Partly due to Europe’s reluctance to welcome Turkey as a full EU-member, Ankara has redirected its foreign policy toward the east, which in 2009 culminated in a flurry of protocols and trade agreements with countries such as Syria, Iraq and Iran. Last month’s decisions, in the United States and Sweden, to recognize the Ottoman-era killings