Articles in English

‘Norway’s Conservative party prime minister Erna Solberg has cultivated a calculated ambiguity when confronted with the anti-Muslim rhetoric of her Progress party allies.’ Photograph: Marit Hommedal/EPA

“Never again,” Norwegian politicians pledged, after the terrorist attacks perpetrated by rightwing extremist Anders Breivik on July 22 2011, the worst in the nation’s history. Yet just last month, an armed 21-year-old Norwegian, Philip Manshaus, stormed into a mosque in Bærum outside Oslo and opened fire, his actions inspired apparently by Breivik as well as recent terror incidents in New Zealand and El Paso.

Norway is generally portrayed in the international media as a haven of peace, prosperity, happiness and equality. So why has it produced so much violent rightwing extremism in the past decade?

In order to understand the phenomenon, we need to return to the many unacknowledged faultlines in the political and popular response to the terror of July 2011.…  Seguir leyendo »

Missiles and drone aircraft on display at an unidentified location in Yemen in a photo released by the Houthi Media Office on Sept. 17.CreditCreditHouthi Media Office, via Reuter

It seems like the opening of a techno-thriller novel or (spoiler alert!) a scene from the latest Gerard Butler movie: In the dead of night, a swarm of robotic planes sneaks past a billion-dollar defense system and then takes out one of the world’s most valuable targets in a fiery blast.

But it is no fiction. It is now a technological and political reality.

Much remains uncertain about the raid on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia on Saturday that shut down half the country’s oil output. Saudi officials initially credited the attack to “drones,” with Houthi rebels in Yemen then claiming responsibility.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sept. 10, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson formally suspended Parliament until the middle of October — the longest suspension since 1945. The move, denounced by critics as constitutionally illegitimate and undemocratic, sought to sideline lawmakers from blocking Johnson’s attempts to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31, “do or die.”

It seems to have backfired. Several cabinet members, including his brother, resigned. The Conservative Party expelled 21 members of Parliament (MPs) for defying the government over Brexit. Scotland’s highest court ruled that the suspension of Parliament was unlawful; the U.K. Supreme Court will reach its own ruling later this week. MPs united both to block Britain from leaving the European Union next month without a deal and to deny Johnson an election on his terms.…  Seguir leyendo »

Palestinian demonstrators protesting against Jewish settlements, in the West Bank on September 13, 2019.CreditCreditIssam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

Last week, ahead of the parliamentary elections in Israel this Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that if re-elected, he would annex up to one-third of the occupied West Bank.

His announcement prompted widespread international condemnation. But for most Palestinians such declarations mean nothing. We’ve heard many statements of support over the years, and nothing ever changes. Cynicism is widespread; by now, many of us would prefer straight talk. As Gideon Levy, a columnist for Haaretz, wrote recently, referring to Mr. Netanyahu’s plan: “Let him turn the reality in this territory into a political reality, without hiding it any longer. The time has come for truth.”

Israel already is reaping all the benefits of annexation in the West Bank, and without having to bear any responsibility for the welfare of the Palestinians living here.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rohingya refugees gather behind a barbed-wire fence in a temporary settlement set up in a border zone between Myanmar and Bangladesh, in a photo taken from Maungdaw district, Myanmar's Rakhine state, in April 2018. (Ye Aung Thu/AFP/Getty Images)

I am Rohingya. When I was 3, my parents and I fled Myanmar to escape violence against my community — an ethnic minority group that is largely Muslim. Now, from afar, I watch in horror as a genocide against my people is unfolding. In the past two years, more than 700,000 Rohingya have fled murder, rape and torture for refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh.

This week, a United Nations investigative report laid bare the suffering and abuse that my people have endured in Myanmar (which we call Burma). It says that the 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Rakhine state are living in “unbearable conditions.” The report also notes that, well after the 2017 military’s brutal “clearance operations” that drove the more than 700,000 others across the border into Bangladesh, the government continues to target Rohingya with the aims of erasing our identity and removing us from Myanmar.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man exhales while using an e-cigarette in Portland, Maine. (Robert F. Bukaty/AP)

President Trump’s announcement Wednesday that he will seek to ban most flavored e-cigarettes comes from a good place — a rarity in this administration. But that doesn’t make a ban any less stupid.

It’s reasonable to be concerned about the massive surge in teen vapers over the past few years. The administration, led by former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb, was absolutely correct to crack down on e-cigarette companies marketing nicotine-rich products to teenagers. Keeping young people away from the addictive products and regulating them carefully is vital, given that teens who use e-cigarettes are more likely to start smoking.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Tunisia's jailed presidential candidate Nabil Karoui celebrate in front of his headquarters in the Tunisian capital Tunis on September 15, 2019. (FETHI BELAID/AFP/Getty Images)

Across Africa, longstanding dictators are losing their grip on power. This April alone, Sudan’s Omar Al-Bashir and Algeria’s Abdelaziz Bouteflika were both forced to step down. In the last four years, 26 African countries have had transfers of power — a level of political turnover unseen since the 1990s. More than half the time, an opposition candidate defeated an incumbent in an election and took power.

Yet the end of one dictator does not necessarily prevent the rise of a new one. In many African nations, democracy rests on shaky foundations. Respect for civil and political liberties in Africa has been declining for years, as has the proportion of Africans living in a democracy.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last week, incoming president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, unveiled her proposed team of commissioners and the jobs she has assigned them. Von der Leyden and the 26 commissioners (one nominated by each E.U. member, other than the United Kingdom) will lead the E.U.’s executive.

The new commission will take office Nov. 1, just a day after the anticipated Brexit date, but the team must first win approval from the European Parliament where a final vote is planned for the week of Oct. 23. Although the Parliament can only vote to approve or reject the commission as a whole, it has leveraged this power in the past to demand the replacement of individual nominees.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Nyhavn canal in Copenhagen, Denmark. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

I wasn’t much of a connoisseur, I admit, in the matter of Nordic cultural differences before I moved to Sweden from Turkey in 2011. Narcissism of minor differences, I’d always thought, complacent in my half-baked knowledge of Viking history and Norse mythology. It took me several years and two seasons of The Bridge (Bron/Broen), the riveting Scandi-noir TV crime series, to realise that the Danes and the Swedes neither resemble nor necessarily like each other.

At first I felt closer to Martin Rohde, the Danish police detective in the series who has to work with his Swedish counterpart, Saga Norén, after a corpse is discovered exactly in the middle of the Øresund Bridge which connects the two countries.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘What the Sea-Watch crew and I did states boldly what kind of future we want: a future of global equality, solidarity and justice’ ... Carola Rackete. Photograph: Till M Egen/Sea-Watch handout/EPA

Being arrested in the Italian port of Lampedusa drew a lot of media attention on me personally this summer as a young woman and a sea captain whose vessel, the Sea-Watch 3, had rescued 40 people from the Mediterranean and taken them to safety. My arrest came after two weeks at sea attempting to secure a political solution so we could legally land these refugees from the civil war in Libya. My ship entered Italian waters despite an order from Matteo Salvini, the far-right interior minister, so in the media I became the woman who defied the right in Italy and Europe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Huawei's Ox Horn campus in Dongguan, China. Photo: Getty Images.

As countries move towards the fifth generation of mobile broadband, 5G, the United States has been loudly calling out Huawei as a security threat. It has employed alarmist rhetoric and threatened to limit trade and intelligence sharing with close allies that use Huawei in their 5G infrastructure.

While some countries such as Australia have adopted a hard line against Huawei, others like the UK have been more circumspect, arguing that the risks of using the firm’s technology can be mitigated without forgoing the benefits.

So, who is right, and why have these close allies taken such different approaches?

The risks

Long-standing concerns relating to Huawei are plausible.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘The AfD’s rise should profoundly concern all Europeans.’ Andreas Kalbitz of the AfD in Brandenburg. Photograph: Michele Tantussi/Getty Images

As migrants from Syria poured into Germany throughout the summer of 2015, Angela Merkel responded with the reassurance: “We can manage this.” The phrase came to define Merkel’s chancellorship, setting her apart from the rest of the European elite for its humanitarian commitment to the refugee crisis.

For the far right, Merkel’s welcoming response symbolised all that was wrong with Europe. They declared her out of touch with ordinary, working people. Across European capitals moderates were also incandescent . Some rejected the approach in principle, advocating “securing” EU borders instead. Others saw it as a well-intentioned but muddled gesture, a gift to the far right.…  Seguir leyendo »

A room where refugees were once housed on Manus Island, Papua New Guinea. Photo: Getty Images.

England and Australia are considered standard-bearers of universal access to health services, with the former’s National Health Service (NHS) recognized as a global brand and the latter’s Medicare seen as a leader in the Asia-Pacific region. However, through the exclusion of migrant and refugee groups, each is failing to deliver true universality in their health services. These exclusions breach both their own national policies and of international commitments they have made.

While the marginalization of mobile populations is not a new phenomenon, in recent years there has been a global increase in anti-migrant rhetoric, and such health care exclusions reflect a global trend in which undocumented migrants, refugees and asylum seekers are denied rights.…  Seguir leyendo »

La Concha beach in San Sebastián, northern Spain. Photograph: Javier Etxezarreta/EPA

Summertime in San Sebastián rekindled the annual debate about the strains created by excessive tourism. This year, though, residents of the Basque provincial capital have also had to put up with our city being turned into the latest Woody Allen film set. The movie, Rifkin’s Festival, is about a couple who fall in love while in town for the San Sebastián film festival, drawing on the annual event (this year’s begins on 20 September) as the backdrop to a romantic comedy.

At a time when Allen is being shunned by many people in film, the veteran director has seemingly found a reliable ally in his Spanish partner Mediapro.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Tunisia's jailed presidential candidate, Nabil Karoui, attend a campaign event in Tunis on Friday. (Fethi Belaid AFP/Getty Images)

On Sunday, Tunisia is holding the second free presidential election in its history. The Tunisian democracy faces high uncertainty, with a populist candidate, Nabil Karoui, leading in the polls. Among other unprecedented circumstances, the presidential election will precede parliamentary elections set to take place next month. This is due to an exceptional case: the death of the first democratically elected Tunisian president this past July. The reversed order of operations and the unique variety of candidates pose a threat to an already fragile process. Here’s what you should know.

The top two candidates identify as populists.

The name Nabil Karoui may be the biggest surprise of the presidential election.…  Seguir leyendo »