It was a simple three-hour trip from Beirut to Damascus. The border crossing caused no problems, and thereafter the journey was interrupted by only a handful of checkpoints. My first impression of the Syrian capital, too, was that it is surprisingly safe. I saw no armed men on the streets during the journey to my hotel, and in the city centre life appeared to be continuing as normal. Residents even claimed that President Assad often drives himself to his office from the relatively modest flat where he lives, and can sometimes be seen stuck in the rush-hour traffic. When I had lunch at a restaurant with a government minister, there was no visible security at all.… Seguir leyendo »
Nota: Este archivo abarca los artículos publicados por el autor desde el 1 de mayo de 2009. Para fechas anteriores realice una búsqueda entrecomillando su nombre.
Every so often one comes across a book, a poem or a work of art that is so original, perfectly crafted, accurate and true that you can’t get it out of your head. You have to read or look at it many times to place it in context and understand what it means.
In the course of two decades as a political reporter my most powerful experience of this kind came when a friend drew my attention to a 20-page article in an obscure academic journal.
Written by the political scientists Richard Katz and Peter Mair, and called “The Emergence of a Cartel Party”, it immediately explained almost everything that had perplexed me as a lobby correspondent: the unhealthy similarity between supposedly rival parties; the corruption and graft that has become endemic in modern politics; the emergence of a political elite filled with scorn and hostility towards ordinary voters.… Seguir leyendo »
The campaign to elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s successor as Iranian president is well under way. The eight candidates took part in a TV debate on cultural policies yesterday, with a further debate scheduled before the vote takes place on 14 June.
Internationally there is despair. Absent from the debate was the former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, excluded from the list of approved candidates by the Guardian Council. That move was taken as a sign that Iran is about to turn its back on nuclear negotiations.
This is too gloomy. It is certainly true that Rafsanjani, who was president from 1989 to 1997, has ripened in old age into a member of the reform camp.… Seguir leyendo »