Last week’s Paris Summit for the Mediterranean confirmed the likelihood of EU primacy over any future Mediterranean Union. More importantly however, the Summit was notable for the inclusion of Syrian President, Bashar Al-Assad, which marks a major thaw in Euro-Syrian relations.
This past week, Iran noticeably softened its anti-West rhetoric, and European negotiators hinted that Iran may cooperate and abandon its nuclear program. Meanwhile, Israel conducted a massive military exercise simulating a mock attack on Iran, and the Bush administration has begun funneling $500m towards Iranian insurgency groups.
Contrary to claims of taking a more diplomatic approach with Iran, the Bush administration has significantly expanded US covert operations against the Islamic republic courtesy of a $400 million budget approved by Congress last year, thus foreshadowing preparations for war.
This past week, Turkey’s Constitutional Court began hearing a trial that could see the governing AKP (Justice and Development Party) outlawed, and its members banned from politics for five years. Meanwhile, two days ago, the government detained 21 people on grounds of coup-plotting.
This week’s spectacular attack on a prison in Kandahar demonstrates the Taliban’s reconstitution in southern Afghanistan and presages a violent summer fighting season. NATO and the Afghan army will reduce the Taliban’s capabilities, but the Taliban will remain a robust force until their sanctuary across the border in Pakistan is eliminated – an unlikely event in 2008.