Disquiet in the Gulf over the interim nuclear deal with Iran has added to the anguish about a break in US–Saudi relations. But it is hard to get too worked up about this. In recent years there’s been a lot of anguish about a break. It is true that, unlike most myths of a golden age, there really was something like one in the history of this relationship, but that’s long gone, says Steven Simon.
The proposal by the U.S. and Russia to hold a diplomatic conference to end the carnage in Syria deserves a less skeptical reaction than it has received. While it will be difficult to get all of the relevant parties to the table in Geneva any time soon, much less to ensure an outcome that will stick, diplomacy is the only game left. As much as one might wish otherwise, every other policy option canvassed so far is wrong in principle, nonviable in practice, unlikely to be effective or bound to increase rather than diminish suffering.
Nobody ever accused John Kerry of lacking in self-belief. Nor are they ever likely to. This week, for the fourth time since taking over from Hillary Clinton in February, Kerry arrives for talks in Israel and Palestine, where he hopes to twitch the corpse of two-state peace talks back to life. His chances are not good. Next month, he will take on even steeper odds as host of a conference in Geneva, aimed at stopping the carnage in Syria. In addition to hopes of a settlement with Iran, he is enthusiastic about a transatlantic trade deal, reviving global warming talks and so on.
Wars in Syria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) pushed the number of people internally displaced by armed conflict, violence and human rights violations to 28.8 million last year, the highest figure recorded by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) in Geneva. More than 6.5 million people were newly displaced within their own countries in 2012, almost twice as many as the year before, IDMC said in its annual report. Since these people have not crossed borders, they are not refugees and do not benefit from international protection.