When Obama knocked
Sir-- The logic of the Georgia exercises ('Fun and games' Al-Ahram Weekly, 14-20 May) is that Obama came to Europe to ask for combat troops for Afghanistan. He didn't get them, nor did he get any progress on Georgian and Ukrainian membership of NATO, but Europe didn't want to send him away empty-handed, so they threw him a crumb in the form of the NATO exercises in Georgia. As for Saakashvili, the Georgian opposition have very cleverly exploited the situation and made a laughing stock of him. Instead of bolstering him, the exercises have once again discredited him. The idea that he might himself have stirred things up is therefore improbable. He must be aware that anything that causes trouble with Russia will damage him with NATO. Moreover, there is no conflict between membership of NATO and the CSTO. All the countries listed are already members of NATO's Partnership for Peace, as are Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Uzbekistan and, for that matter Switzerland. As for the European Partnership, its purpose is probably to head off the US and prevent it setting up a counter-power to the EU. The Canadian diplomats were expelled in classic tit-for-tat retaliation for the expulsion of two Russian diplomats accredited to NATO. No link whatsoever to Georgia. Clever, though, to expel Canadians. Doesn't annoy the European members of NATO and doesn't annoy the US! Does anybody realise just how useless the Czech air force is? All those ex-Warsaw Pact military forces (Georgia!) are a joke.
Just as bad
Sir-- Re 'Lincoln or Ford?' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 30 April-6 May) as uncomfortable as it may be, if Obama and his attorney-general try to ignore the crimes of the Bush administration they then become complicit in them and further America's moral degeneration, and loss of respect in the world. In ignoring the wishes of the majority, Obama also risks being a one-term president, just as Ford paid a price for pardoning Nixon.
From the Knesset
Sir-- A few things should be noted in 'It's still about Zionism" ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 14-20 May). Though the Arab peace initiative was advanced as early as 2002, no Israeli leader or government has yet officially responded to it, and they probably never will. When Binyamin Netanyahu was not prime minister, in 2007, he rejected the initiative outright. There is every reason to believe that now that he is in charge, Netanyahu will continue to reject it. Another thing: the initiative never took flight. Almost on the very day it was announced, a deadly Hamas suicide bomb attack overshadowed the announcement. Of course, once the bomb blast became history, the initiative could have taken centre stage but Israel was never really interested.
If the initiator of the initiative, Saudi King Abdullah, wants to put Israel in a corner, he should go to Tel Aviv, like Anwar El-Sadat did more than 30 years ago, and reiterate, from the Knesset, that the initiative still stands, but will not be around forever, and will not be modified. If such a dramatic step is taken by such a highly respected Arab leader, it will put Israel on the spot.