EDITORIAL: Peace remains elusive
AS WE APPROACH Christmas, the traditional season of peace and goodwill, it is our fervent wish that this spirit could prevail in most areas of the world which have known little else than conflict and bloodshed.
The major areas of immediate concern to the United States and United Nations are the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East and the Ivory Coast. At present, Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, is on a mission of peace from Washington. Happily, tensions have eased somewhat despite the war games from South Korea.
His prime thrust is to ensure that a thaw is in the making that would enable both countries to make strides over issues of regional and bilateral conflict. The fact the State Department has given its support to a non-diplomat to engage on such a delicate mission highlights the importance of peace in the Korean Peninsula.
The United States is in the throes of yet another round of separate meetings with top Palestinian and Israeli officials. Facing strong criticism for the obvious failure in mediation on the settlements issue, Washington now faces a more difficult task of circumventing the monumental roadblocks stalking the path to peace.
The Palestinians have already called for the recognition of Palestine as a state in the face of Israel’s refusing to budge on other issues. With Brazil and Argentina having recently unilaterally recognised Palestine as a separate state, they are hoping against the grain of history for the United States to do the same.
That may be a bit utopian, given the strident disapproval by the State Department, which feels that the South American states have taken an unwarranted step that does not help the peace process in the absence of a peace agreement between the Israel and Palestine.
The pressure on President Barack Obama is now mounting. Having made the achievement of peace in the Middle East a litmus test for his foreign policy on assuming office, it seems that Washington has given up all hope of achieving peace, despite a carrot of US$20 billion in military aid to Israel.
In the case of the Ivory Coast, once the jewel of West Africa, an uneasy calm prevails as time is running out for a peaceful resolution to recent elections.
Run-off elections held on November 28 saw an opposition lose after a peace deal was hammered out in 2007.
On the first ballot on November 1 there was no clear winner, prompting the run-off three weeks later in which the electoral body declared former Prime Minister and Opposition Leader Alassane Ouattara the winner by 54 per cent of the vote to the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo’s 46 per cent.
The Constitutional Council overturned the results, pushing the Ivory Coast further to the brink of chaos. A bloodbath is likely to follow, as all efforts to mediate the crisis in the former French colony have so far failed.