03 January 2007

The Baddie of the Year Awards

I compiled the list of the worst wrong-doers in the political arena in the past year. By no means is the list exhaustive or complete; it rather constitutes a random collection of my thoughts.

The "Baddie" goes to the Myanmar junta. The clever generals know that no news about Burma (Myanmar) is good news for them. But the international community cannot let the situation in Burma be forgotten. We have got the moral duty to act in a way which will lead to the end of the military regime which does not tolerate any political opposition and uses forced civilian labour, to name just the two from the long list of its sins. The EU has done its bit by imposing an all-round embargo on the country, but is that enough? How long will the opposition leader and the Sakharov Prize holder Aung San Suu Kyi have to rot under house arrest before the decisive change takes place?

The first runner-up is the Shia axis in the Middle East. Iran, in its quest to become a regional superpower, is orchestrating the show, arming the Shia militia in the southern Iraq (though it is not so close to the gunmen of Muqtada al-Sadr in the Baghdad area), Hamas in Palestine, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and propping up the ailing Syrian economy with its petrodollars. The West shows signs of giving in: Tony Blair was the first to break the line and call for a cooperation with Iran on Iraq, the Iraq Study Group in the US Congress recommended the same. But that is exactly what we should not do: the ruling cliques in Damascus and Tehran are growing desperate as their populations are getting ever warier of the consequences of being international pariahs. To give Ahmadinejad a helping hand when his domestic support is crumbling would be unwise.

The second runner-up is the United Nations. UNreformed, it stumbled on last year. Its new Human Rights Council is no less a sham than the Human Rights Committee it replaced: the worst abusers such as China or Tunisia still secured their places in the new body. The violence in Darfur escalated to the heights only seen in 2004. Moreover, the Arab janjaweed militia, supported by the central government in Khartoum, are taking the conflict across the border: their aim is to overthrow the government of Idriss Déby in the neighbouring Chad. What matters to China though is that it gets the preferential access to the rich Sudanese oil resources. The UN has irresponsibly restrained from involvement in Iraq and instead smirked as the Allies were struggling. The head of the UN Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) Soren Jessen-Petersen, a personal friend of Ramush Haradinaj who is now being tried for the war crimes against the Serbs in the Hague, had to be withdrawn for being biased towards the Albanians and for mismanaging the Kosovar economy; yet for example the UNMIK-published school textbooks still have a distinctly anti-Serbian tone.

Those who just did not make it:
Jiří Paroubek, the leader of the Czech Social Democratic Party for his continuous refusal to enable a snap election which is the only satisfactory way to resolve the Czech electoral deadlock: we have been without a proper government since June.

Václav Klaus, the President of Czechia, for clearly being the only person who after reading our Constitution concludes that it creates a presidential system; and for his stubborn Euroscepticism.

The Slovak electorate, for voting out the reformist government of Mikoláš Dzurinda which put the country back on track after the lost years of the Mečiar premiership.

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