Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Millennial Challenge: Leadership Change and New Opportunities

Dear Patriotic Goobal Citizens and Friends of Ethiopia:

Re: Peaceful transition of Power and Good Governace !

Leadership transition is a very serious affair and it could not happen so smoothly as the recent British experience. Tony Blair one of the few world leaders who won three times and left office out of his own goodwill into the hands of his partner and his own party.

This is indeed a unique person and exceptional precendece for world leaders to follow. He has said goodbye to almost all his friends at home and aborad and I atlast he went honorably to the Palace and handed over his responsiblity to the Queen as he was running the show on behalf of the Queen according to the unique arrangement of the British Parliament and monarchy.

He has indeed led Her Majesty's Government with class and distinciton and then gave it back to her after preparing a potential successor. This is what we call good house keeping and an example of excellent Good Governance. His humility and his frank expression of regret in areas of where others though he failed he gave his honorable apology. He also defended his track record and now it is history's turn to judge him in context to this circumstances in the global stage.

His successor has a lot to contend with follwing such a mercurial personality, media savy and passionate about justice around the world. The African continent and Ethiopia in particular will remember him with mixed feelings as he talked the talk but the delivery was rather slow coming. The G8 promise during the British and German presidency is yet to happen, and perhaps we should offer him an African Advocate Job after his Middle East stint.

All the same, Blair has a new challenge, even before he left his post as one of the Great British Premier, he was offered a more challenging job of sorting out Israel and her neighbors in the Middle East, and it looks it is not going to easy.

Who said, Blari wants easy things. Here comes the International Diplomat Tony Blair and his critics and goodwishers.

Please read on the challenges and opportunities of Lord Blair, his assured new title to come!.

from the June 28, 2007 edition

Mixed response to Tony Blair as special envoy for Middle East
Despite differences, everyone agrees the job he faces is a tough one.
By Dan Murphy

The tapping of British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who stepped down from his post on Tuesday, as special envoy for the Middle East has generated mixed emotions from the Middle East and observers.

The Associated Press said that his role in helping to bring about peace in Northern Ireland will give him credibility in the new job. But the AP also says that his job will not be focused on prodding Israel and Palestinians to the negotiating table, at least not at first.

"Blair's new job will deal primarily with helping the Palestinian Authority build political institutions. It won't, at least at first, involve direct mediation or negotiation between Palestinians and Israelis, the senior U.S. official said.

But Blair is one of the rare world leaders who is considered a friend by both the Israeli and Palestinian governments."

The major outside players working on peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the so-called Quartet of the United Nations, United States, Russia, and the European Union, are now behind the appointment. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that the EU and Russia held up the appointment on Tuesday -- Russia because Blair is seen as too close to the US, and the Europeans over concern his role would marginalize EU foreign policy coordinator Javier Solana -- but the paper now says those concerns have been set aside.

The Quartet has concluded the elaboration of a mandate for the new representative," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a news conference Wednesday in the West Bank city of Ramallah, with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "I understand that the decision is about to be announced," Lavrov said.

Blair said his priority in the role would be to effect the current international consensus that a two-state solution is vital to peace in the Middle East.

Mr. Blair will be replacing former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who stepped down from his role as Mideast envoy following the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Israel and the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who recently fired elected Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas and replaced him with an ally, also backed Blair for the job, Al Jazeera reports.

Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister, said on Tuesday that Blair was a "very well appreciated figure in Israel" while Ehud Olmert, her prime minister, called him "a true friend" of Israel and promised full co-operation if he took the job.

Salam Fayyad, the newly appointed Palestinian prime minister, said: ''We hope this appointment will speed efforts to resume the political process to achieve the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital."

But not everyone is welcoming Blair, most significantly Hamas. The group's de facto rule of Gaza, which for the moment has split the Palestinian Authority into two different entities, is complicating any outlook for peace negotiations. Reuters reports that Hamas, who insists that Haniyeh is still the legitimate Palestinian premier, is furious over his appointment -- and that Russia has serious reservations about the US strategy.

Hamas official Ghazi Hamad was hostile: "We do not expect Blair's role to be fair in any issue relating to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict or any other Arab-related cause."

Moscow has also expressed misgivings about the latest U.S. and Israeli strategy of isolating Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which the Islamist group seized by force two weeks ago after routing Abbas's secular Fatah forces…

(Russian Foreign Minister Sergei) Lavrov criticized what he called a "divide and conquer" policy that has resulted in Hamas control of Gaza and Fatah dominance in the West Bank.

Rami Khouri, an influential columnist for Lebanon's English language The Daily Star, said he has grave reservations about Blair's fitness for the new job. His lack of popularity in the region is due to his support for the invasion of Iraq and because of perceived bias toward Israel.

My mixed feelings and those of many others in the Arab world are the result of years of watching both the Quartet and Blair speak lofty rhetoric, but fail to follow up with practical, evenhanded deeds. If there is an award for the combined negative credibility of an institution and an individual, the Quartet and Blair should be its first recipients.

(Blair's) main problem is not only that he has been hypocritical or partial to Israel and the United States rather than truly even-handed; it is also that his policies have contributed directly and abundantly to the Arab-Israeli conflict and associated tensions in the Middle East… Appointing Tony Blair as special envoy for Arab-Israeli peace is like appointing the Emperor Nero to be the chief fireman of Rome.

The New York Times in a Monday editorial said it would have preferred another choice, but added the job would be an opportunity for Blair to redeem himself for what the paper called past mistakes.

Our main reservation is (Blair's) dismal refusal to speak unwelcome truths to people in power -- including himself -- but especially to George Bush, who will have to be willing to take his own political risks and set aside his prejudices if there is to be any realistic short-term prospect for Mideast peace.

There were bolder possible choices -- think Bill Clinton or James Baker. But if Mr. Blair gets the job … he will get a chance to redeem a legacy badly tarnished by Iraq and to show that he means to be nobody's poodle.

His belief in the urgency of a just peace between Israelis and Palestinians is clear. He knows the region, and many of the leaders with whom he'll need to work. And he is supremely capable of articulating a vision of a better future if those leaders lift themselves above the tit-for-tat cycle of crises.

Whatever Mr. Blair's qualifications for the job, there is almost no one who thinks his job will be easy. Many are guessing that he will come to regard his role in bringing Protestants and Roman Catholics together in Northern Ireland as relatively easy by contrast, as a cartoon in Wednesday's International Herald Tribune points out.

A reminder of the difficulties came on Wednesday with an Israeli attack on Gaza killing 12 people, mostly militants but some civilians, including a 12-year-old boy, reports Reuters.

Files on Illegal Spying Show C.I.A. Skeletons From Cold War (The New York Times)
Republican senators attack Bush over Iraq troop surge (The Guardian)
Illegal immigrants targeted in debate (Associated Press


Blair appointed Middle East envoy

Tony Blair stepped down after a decade as Britain's PM
Tony Blair is to become a Middle East envoy working on behalf of the US, Russia, the UN and the EU.

The announcement came just hours after he stood down as UK prime minister and shortly before it was announced he was to quit as a member of parliament.

Mr Blair said a solution to Mid-East problems was possible but it required "huge intensity and work".

He faces an uphill task to address Palestinian misgivings over his ties to Israel and the US, say observers.

During his final prime minister's questions on Wednesday, Mr Blair was asked about the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

He told MPs: "The absolute priority is to try to give effect to what is now the consensus across the international community - that the only way of bringing stability and peace to the Middle East is a two-state solution."


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has welcomed Mr Blair's appointment - which was delayed because of Russia's reservations.

It doesn't matter whether Blair is put in that role or not, no-one outside of the Arab world can bring peace to that region

Andy, US

Send us your views
Full text: Quartet statement
Blair faces uphill task

But the militant group Hamas said "it was not helpful in solving the conflict in the Middle East", arguing that Mr Blair's position mirrored those of the US and Israel.

Observers point out that Mr Blair's mission, as defined by the "Quartet" of international mediators which appointed him, is narrow.

His brief includes Palestinian governance, economics and security rather than the wider conflict between Israel and Palestinians - at least initially.

Mr Blair replaces the Quartet's previous envoy, former World Bank president James Wolfensohn who last year resigned in frustration at the lack of progress.

BBC Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen says failure in the Middle East is more likely than success.

Israelis like Mr Blair because they believe he is on their side and Palestinians in the main do not trust him for the same reason, our correspondent adds.

'Peace maker'

Furthermore, Mr Blair's appointment comes at a time of heightened tension in the region.

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip nowadays
Earlier this month Hamas overran the Gaza Strip, defeating the Fatah movement led by Mr Abbas, who now effectively controls the West Bank only.

But senior UN officials describe Mr Blair as a star player who will bring energy to the peace process.

Mr Blair, who had been UK prime minister since 1997, was replaced by Gordon Brown on Wednesday.

He has proved a controversial figure in the UK and elsewhere for his decision to lead the UK into the Iraq war.

But he has also been widely praised for his efforts in bringing the peace process to fruition in Northern Ireland.

At prime minister's questions, Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley said: "I hope that what happened in Northern Ireland will be repeated and at the end of the day he will be able to look back and say it was well worthwhile."

No comments:

Post a Comment