Faisal Al Yafai, SYNDICATION BUREAU
The writer is currently writing a book on the Middle East and is a frequent commentator on international TV news networks. He worked for news outlets such as The Guardian and the BBC, and reported on the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa. ©Syndication Bureau.
With the war in Gaza reverberating around the world, it is hard to hear anything above the noise. Yet an interview with Ukraine's commander-in-chief last week came through loud and clear, sparking both an internal crisis in Kyiv and an international debate on the future of the conflict.
To France, it will look like a humiliation, on par with America’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan two years ago. To Niger’s military leaders, it will appear a victory – as they crowed in a statement shortly after the announcement. To the rest of West Africa, it seems like a warning: the Western presence in the region is collapsing.
So much of this year’s G20 summit in New Delhi was focused on people who weren’t there. With the war in Ukraine on-going, Vladimir Putin chose to skip proceedings. When the summit’s closing joint declaration appeared, it was milquetoast, merely denouncing the use of force for territorial gain, but without specifying any particular nation.
Journalists know that authors with a book to sell often provide the best quotes. That, in part, explains the reappearance of France’s former President Nicolas Sarkozy in the news recently, as an interview he gave to promote his memoirs sparked a storm for appearing to support Russia.
Given the warm welcome Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad received at the Arab League just three months ago, one might have expected rather warmer words from Syria’s president about the state of Arab relations in a rare interview last week. But no: “Maybe it's the way we think,” he said, “But we don’t come up with practical solutions … we prefer to give speeches, press releases and meetings.” It was unrealistic, he said, to expect that there would be economic results from the return to the Arab fold in mere months.
So prevalent have coups become in the Sahel region (the belt that separates sub-Saharan from Saharan Africa) over the past few years that there was an inevitability that another would take place this year. Yet the downfall of Mohamed Bazoum, ex-president of Niger and a linchpin of Western influence in a critical region, was still unexpected.
As the dust settles from the audacious — and swiftly aborted — attempted insurrection, the exact whereabouts of its architect is still unknown. Yevgeny Prigozhin, the brutish figure behind the paramilitary group, is meant to be somewhere in Belarus.
Step back for a moment and ponder the delegation of African leaders that travelled to Kyiv and Moscow on a peace mission. Here were four African heads of state and representatives from countries on all corners of the continent making their way to the belligerents of a European war. Nothing could better demonstrate how Russia’s “special military operation,” a year on, has had global consequences.
So he is back. Again. Turkey’s longest serving leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, now has another five years to lead his country. The question is, lead it to where?
For months, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the Turkish presidential candidate who hopes this Sunday to finally unseat Recep Tayyip Erodgan, has vowed to send home millions of Syrians.