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14 Nov

Events of Interest and Analyses, A Foreign Perspective

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News

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Suu Kyi softens stand on sanctions

Myanmar pro-democracy leader signals readiness to work with “any democratic forces”
in first speech after being freed.
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2010 10:39 GMT

An icon of democracy

Frost over the World 13 Nov 2010 12:56 GMT
Sir David Frost talks to the lawyer of Myanmar’s opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi
about her release.

  

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 General David Richards underlined Britain’s aim to end its combat role in Afghanistan by 2014-15 [Reuters] 

Britain’s most senior officer has been quoted as saying that al-Qaeda can never be completely defeated. 

David Richards, chief of the defence staff, said on Sunday that outright victory is “unnecessary” as long as governments are able to contain the fighters. 

“First of all, you have to ask: ‘Do we need to defeat it (al-Qaeda) in the sense of a clear cut victory?'” Richards told British newspaper the Sunday Telegraph. 

“I would argue that it is unnecessary and would never be achieved … but can we contain it to the point that our lives and our children’s lives are led securely? I think we can.” 

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Benin battles rising seas

Rising sea levels due to climate change in the Gulf of Guinea are swallowing up large portions of Benin’s coastline. 

The United Nations says the West African country’s coast has retreated by 400 metres in the last 40 years

as the waters destroyed many homes there. 

Environmentalists say studies show the sea levels will keep rising by more than 50 centimetres,

which would threaten to destroy the entire commercial capital Cotonou.
 
Jonah Hull reports from Benin, where many are fighting the giant waves.

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Exclusive: Afghanistan – behind enemy lines

James Fergusson returns to Chak to find the Taliban’s grip is stronger than the West will admit. 

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A child with symptoms of cholera at a clinic in Port au Prince 

Haiti: Where is the UN? Where is the help?

Nina Lakhani: Thousands may be dead as scale of cholera epidemic is underestimated……………….. 

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A release to celebrate – but this is not a ‘Mandela moment’

  • Editorial
  • The Observer, Sunday 14 November 2010
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    Aung San Suu Kyi’s allies in the west must not let their support for her wane 

    It is a profoundly moving moment: a fragile but steely 65-year-old woman, banished from sight for 15 of the last 21 years, emerges smiling into the light, surrounded by cheering supporters. She wears a flower in her hair. Aung San Suu Kyi is free at last. Those who have campaigned for her release, including many western governments, have cause to celebrate. But this is not yet a defining moment in Burmese history, let alone the “Mandela moment” some believe they see. 

    Nelson Mandela was freed because those who ruled South Africa knew the game was up, that apartheid was unsustainable. Burma’s military rulers, by contrast, are determined to prolong their grip on power. They have held a bogus election and the party they created to win it has duly won. A general in a lounge suit is prime minister. Some nations, eyeing new trade opportunities, will be amenable to the idea of easing sanctions. Achieving that end is one of the calculations behind Suu Kyi’s release. 

    She is a symbol of hope, fortitude and strength – one Nobel peace prizewinner whose reputation never falters. But the generals may also reckon that she is a symbol from the past who might struggle to engage with the reality of modern Burma. Her own party, which didn’t contest the election, is split. Her tactical options are narrow and perilous. She has, after all, been locked away twice before. If she causes trouble, she could quickly rejoin the 2,000 unreleased political prisoners 

    The obstacles facing Suu Kyi and the movement she leads are profound. The resolve of those who have supported her against oppression will also be tested. The generals are playing a tactical game, making a symbolic gesture of Suu Kyi’s release as cover for manoeuvres to consolidate their control over Burma. They should not be allowed any credit for such a cynical ploy. 

    Suu Kyi’s challenge began again yesterday, out in the open at last. So begins also a new challenge for her friends abroad, whose solidarity must not wane as the cheers at her release inevitably fade. 

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