Frida Ghitis

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Smoke billows following Israeli bombardments over east Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 13. Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images

More than four months after Hamas, the Iran-backed Islamist group that rules Gaza, launched a brutal attack on Israel, triggering a ferocious response, diplomats met in Cairo this week aiming to reach a temporary ceasefire.

Despite the participation of CIA Director William Burns, Mossad chief David Barnea, and other heavyweights, the talks did not succeed and there’s some question about whether they will continue.

In the meantime, prominent figures across the globe are urging Israel not to launch an offensive in Rafah, the Gaza city on the border with Egypt which remains a stronghold of Hamas brigades, and where more than a million civilians, most of them displaced by the fighting, have taken shelter amid widespread devastation across the strip.…  Seguir leyendo »

The world once again is trying to parse the stance of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. Is Kim positioning his regime to gain from the possibility that former President Donald Trump will return to the White House a year from now – or preparing to start a war?

North Korea watchers long ago grew accustomed to Kim’s dramatic pronouncements and spectacular military tests aimed at projecting power. But in recent weeks, something has changed. And some experts think this time we should be alarmed.

Kim “has made a strategic decision to go to war”, wrote Robert Carlin and Siegfried Hecker, two scholars with experience in national security who are not known for exaggerating the North Korean threat.…  Seguir leyendo »

Multiple opinion polls forecast that only a fraction of Israelis would want Benjamin Netanyahu to stay on as prime minister after the war. Abir Sultan/AP

The time has come for Israelis to negotiate – with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Now that the war against Hamas has entered a new phase, with Israeli military officials announcing they will start withdrawing from Gaza several brigades in advance of lengthy, but apparently lower intensity, more targeted fighting, Israelis can turn their attention to the urgent matter of the prime minister who failed at his most important job: keeping the country safe.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, Israelis will have to make extraordinarily difficult decisions that will set the course of their country for years to come.

These decisions should be made under the guidance of a leader that enjoys widespread popular support, trust and legitimacy; someone who can bring the people together and inspire confidence.…  Seguir leyendo »

US Marines participate in a military exercise called "Cold Response 2022," gathering tens of thousands of troops from NATO member countries, plus Finland and Sweden, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, near Bjerkvik in the Arctic Circle, Norway, on March 24, 2022. Yves Herman/Reuters

There’s something otherworldly about the Arctic. During the Polar Night, which can last for months, the sun does not rise above the horizon, leaving the region in continuous darkness broken by periods of almost mystical twilight.

On cloudless nights, one can see the Aurora Borealis dance across the vast skies, its swirling greens and blues contrasting with the stark white of the endless expanses of snow.

But then, at the Tromsø harbor in Norway’s northernmost reaches, the natural landscape is broken by the metallic military grey of a Norwegian Navy frigate. It’s a reminder that the Arctic is not immune from the tensions besetting the rest of the globe.…  Seguir leyendo »

Families and friends of hostages held in Gaza call for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to bring them home, during a demonstration in Tel Aviv on November 21. Ahmad Gharabli/AFP/Getty Images

The brief respite from the fighting between Hamas and Israel has ended, as many of us expected, reigniting the wrenching conflict that has produced so much suffering on both sides of the Gaza border. The battles are likely to continue. Unless, that is, key players in the Middle East and the rest of the international community step in to exert the necessary pressure and take risks to resolve this conflict.

Is there a way to stop the carnage? Is there any way to bring an end to this war and open a path to lasting peace?

The answer is yes. There is a perfectly reasonable, though extremely difficult and perhaps unrealistic solution.…  Seguir leyendo »

A man looks on as Palestinians search for casualties a day after Israeli strikes on houses in Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip, November 1. Mohammed Al-Masri/Reuters

The announcement that Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement to free some 50 women and children Hamas captured during its brutal October 7 rampage in southern Israel, in exchange for a 4-day truce in Israel’s ground and air operation, comes as the first positive development in six weeks for some relatives of the more than 200 people abducted by the radical Islamist group that rules Gaza.

And it is certainly welcome news for Gaza civilians, who will be thankful for other elements of the deal: an increase in the amount of humanitarian aid entering the strip and the expected release of 150 Palestinians prisoners from Israeli jails – three for every one of the hostages freed, along with the possible extension of the truce of an extra day for every ten additional hostages.…  Seguir leyendo »

The last time China's President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden met in person was on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Indonesia, November 14, 2022. Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

When President Joe Biden meets Chinese leader Xi Jinping in California on Wednesday, it will mark the first time in exactly one year and one day since the heads of the two nuclear-armed rivals have seen each other in person.

Much has happened since that day in Bali, Indonesia, last year. The two have a long and urgent list of issues to discuss – including two raging wars, a heating planet and a host of other highly flammable issues.

The notion – Biden’s hope – behind the summit is that the two leaders will find a way to manage the competition between their countries in a responsible manner: great powers, coming together as stewards of a dangerous world, working jointly to keep it from spinning out of control.…  Seguir leyendo »

Millions of Israelis were jolted awake on Saturday by the sounds of explosions and blaring emergency sirens. The Palestinian group Hamas had launched an unprecedented assault on the country hours after the 50th anniversary of what Israelis call the Yom Kippur War and Arab countries call the October 6 War.

It promptly became clear that the highly organized attack by land, air and sea would turn into a terrorist rampage. Iran-backed Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza strip since 2006, tightening its grip in 2007 when it expelled its Palestinian rivals Fatah in brief internal war, launched thousands of rockets as its operatives infiltrated Israeli territory using motorcycles, trucks, paragliders, and speedboats.…  Seguir leyendo »

North Korea leader Kim Jong Un waves from his armoured train in Pyongyang as he leaves for Russia on September 10. KCNA/AP

When North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia’s Far East region on Tuesday in his grandfather’s armored green train on his way to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin, he helped underscore two important facts about Putin’s unprovoked war against Ukraine.

First, Putin has turned what was once a mighty and respected army — and country — into one that is reduced to seeking help from an impoverished state that can hardly feed its own people. It’s a humiliating exercise for a diminished Putin, who vaingloriously compares himself to the 18th century Czar Peter the Great, and not a great look for a deeply tarnished Russia.…  Seguir leyendo »

When an airplane owned by Russian warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin plummeted in a fiery crash northwest of Moscow last week, observers in Russia and around the world immediately recalled two indisputable facts. First, that Prigozhin had openly challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin, and second, that countless others who had defied Putin have met untimely, violent deaths.

In the quest to understand what happened, one other fact was clear: The Kremlin was not the place to seek straightforward, credible answers. The Kremlin’s word is, shall we say, not a good source for independent, reliable truth.

In fact, when Putin’s spokesman dismissed claims that the state had Prigozhin killed as an “absolute lie”, it seemed a pro forma statement, one we’ve heard before as Putin’s critics, one after the other, meet macabre endings.…  Seguir leyendo »

Anti-war banners hang on the fence in front of Russian Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia, July 2022. Michal Fludra/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Just below the surface of life’s deceptively normal rhythms in countries bordering Russia, the reality of what their giant neighbor is doing to Ukraine is never far away.

And it’s not only because Russia’s border stands nearby, or because Russia’s president has suggested that, just as Moscow had a right to take over Ukraine, it could be justified in reclaiming the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — which spent decades under Soviet rule.

More than anything, the anxiety flows from the knowledge, from the memory, that Moscow has sent its tanks into its neighbors’ territories so many times over the years.…  Seguir leyendo »

There is no question that history books will dedicate considerable space to the impact that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had on the fate of his embattled nation.

After all, Netanyahu, nicknamed “Bibi”, was already the longest-serving prime minister before he managed to secure another stint in the top job in December, launching his most tumultuous term in office and the one that may well end up defining his legacy.

And right now, that legacy looks like a dark one.

Unless there’s a sudden reversal, it is likely that history will remember Netanyahu as the man who served the interests of Israel’s enemies by tearing the country into bitterly opposed camps.…  Seguir leyendo »

In a famous image from August 1991, Russian President Boris Yeltsin rallies demonstrators against the coup plot against Mikhail Gorbachev. AFP/Getty Images

The events that unfolded in Russia over the weekend transfixed and baffled the world. There’s still much we don’t know, after the Russian mercenary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin sent his Wagner Group forces on the road to Moscow in what looked like the start of an attempted coup or even a civil war. The short-lived rebellion prompted a furious reaction from his patron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the usually cool modern-day czar.

There’s a reason the most common official statements across the globe were along the lines of “We are monitoring events”. And yet, beneath the thick fog of rebellion, a few things were starkly visible.…  Seguir leyendo »

US President Joe Biden talks with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the opening of the G20 Summit in Bali, in November. The world leaders will meet again at the White House on Thursday. Bay Ismoyo/AFP/Getty Images

The images the world will see this week as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits the United States could serve as a turning point in one of the world’s most important relationships. That, at least, is the potential for this eventful week.

Though the US and India had already been on good terms, the planned state visit signals that US leaders are interested in propelling a relationship that could rearrange the global chessboard.

The visit starts on Wednesday, when Modi will lead Yoga Day at the United Nations. But it is Thursday when Washington’s spotlight will bathe him.

First, he will have a quick welcome at the White House and then a speech to a joint session of Congress.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin toasts with then-Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev next to Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russian troops in Syria, after a ceremony to bestow state awards on military personnel who fought in Syria, at the Kremlin, in December 2017. Kirill Kuryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images

The world awoke Wednesday morning to the latest threat from Russia’s former president and prime minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Writing on Twitter, Medvedev, who is currently the deputy chair of Russia’s Security Council, attacked the United Kingdom as Russia’s “eternal enemy” and accused it of leading an “undeclared war” against Russia. He announced menacingly that “any of its public officials…can be considered as a legitimate military target” by Moscow.

Medvedev, who has a lengthy record of outlandish pronouncements, was responding to a comment by UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who said Ukraine has “the right to project force beyond its borders” as part of its self-defense.…  Seguir leyendo »

As Russia prepares for an imminent Ukrainian counteroffensive, and America’s 2024 presidential race takes shape, it is becoming increasingly apparent that Russian President Vladimir Putin believes one possible path to victory in his so far unsuccessful war runs through the US election.

The latest evidence that Putin may just expect Western support for Ukraine to end – if only Russian forces hold on until there’s a new president in the White House – came tucked away in a blistering announcement from Russia’s Foreign Ministry on Friday, declaring entry into the country would be “closed for 500 Americans”.

The blacklist, Moscow explained, targets individuals “involved in the spread of Russophobic attitudes and fakes”, as well as principals in companies supplying weapons to Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and then-US President Donald Trump shake hands during a meeting at the White House in May 2017. Erdogan faces what is expected to be a tight election this week, while Trump sets his sights on the 2024 US presidential election. Evan Vucci/AP

Former President Donald Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, perhaps two of the world’s most prominent and controversial authoritarian leaders, are fighting for their political lives.

Their fates will reverberate across the globe, shaping history. Among other consequences, the impact will go a long way in determining the future – perhaps even the survival – of NATO, the military alliance of democracies that seemed on the verge of unraveling just a few years ago and now looks as strong and purposeful as it has in decades.

This Sunday, Turkish voters will decide if, after 20 years of increasingly autocratic rule, they want to reelect Erdogan, a man whose democratic credentials are as questionable as his commitment to NATO.…  Seguir leyendo »

The announcement was dramatic and the images breathtaking. The Kremlin declared that it had come under attack on Wednesday night, targeted by two drones whose objective it claimed was to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, who was unharmed.

Moscow accused Ukraine of what it called a “terrorist act”. Ukraine said it had nothing to do with whatever it was that took place that night. (The following day, the Kremlin also accused the US of involvement in the alleged attack, which the US denies).

Video clips on social media showed what looked like drones and a fiery explosion over the Kremlin, its walls already festooned with banners ahead of the May 9th celebration of Victory Day, when Russia commemorates its triumph over Nazi Germany in World War II and displays its military might with parades.…  Seguir leyendo »

On the day before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, a top general from Sudan was visiting Moscow. Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo – known as Hemedti – had already made a name for himself leading one of the so-called Janjaweed militias that helped carry out a genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region decades earlier.

Until last week, Dagalo was also one of the two military men leading a Sudanese government that was meant to be working its way to a democratic transition.

By the time he went to Russia last year, Dagalo and his militia, Sudan’s Rapid Support Forces (RSF), were already the primary beneficiaries of involvement in Sudan by the Wagner Group, the Kremlin-linked mercenary army that has been fighting in Ukraine recently, but also has a wide footprint in Africa and other parts of the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Imagine a world in which the world’s most populous country is a democracy. Picture a time when an aging China has lost its place at the top, replaced by a young and dynamic India.

That moment is here. And it marks a shift that is only now beginning and could have major repercussions across the globe.

The United Nations Population Fund announced Wednesday that, according to its calculations, India’s 1.4 billion have already surpassed mainland China’s population, and will exceed all of China’s – including Hong Kong’s population – by the middle of this year.

We’ve all grown up thinking of China as the world’s most populous country.…  Seguir leyendo »