Clash of Israeli Political Ambitions Fuels Budget ‘Street Fight’
By Alisa Odenheimer
The competing ambitions of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuand Finance Minister Yair Lapid are turning this year’s budget process into a who-blinks-first battle between the leaders of the country’s two biggest parties.
Lapid is threatening to topple Netanyahu’s government, rather than raise taxes — something he has promised voters he won’t do — deepening the standoff between the two over spending plans for next year.
“What we have here is a political street fight,” Yaniv Pagot, chief strategist for Ayalon Group Ltd. inRamat Gan, a Tel Aviv suburb, said by phone. “It’s not the numbers talking, it’s the political agendas.”
The disputes have already held up submission of a draft budget to cabinet. Lapid says the Defense Ministry is asking for too much more money after the recent war in the Gaza Strip. He has said he’d rather see the budget gap increase than add taxes or abandon his flagship program to lift the 18 percent value-added tax for some first-time homebuyers.
“I will bring down the government and won’t raise taxes,” Lapid said in a videotaped interview posted yesterday on the Ynet website.
Read more » Bloomberg
Failed state or Weimar Republic?
Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state, still committed to American and Gulf Arab alliances
By Omar Ali
A friend recently wrote to me that Pakistan reminded him of the Weimar republic; an anarchic and poorly managed democracy with some real freedoms and an explosion of artistic creativity, but also with a dangerous fascist ideology attracting more and more adherents as people tire of economic hardship and social disorder and yearn for a savior. Others (much more numerous than the single friend who suggested the Weimar comparison) insist that Pakistan is a failed state. So which is it? Is Pakistan the Weimar republic of the day or is it a failed state?
Continue reading Pakistan remains a military-dominated rentier state →
There is nothing really ideological or fraternal about the Chinese investments in Pakistan, as some Pakistani newspapers would like us to believe. Interestingly, while the Pakistani media has a knack for comparing everything to India, it has really remained mum over premier Jiabao’s visit to Delhi
The relationship between the US and Pakistani intelligence agencies appears to be moving from playing uneasy footsie to a fairly sordid affair. The blowing of the CIA’s Islamabad station chief’s cover, allegedly at the behest of the host country’s spooks, has not gone down well with the US. That this happened on the eve of the Chinese premier Wen Jiabao’s much-trumpeted visit to Pakistan raises a question if Pakistan is using grandpa Wen to help fend off the ‘big bully’ US.
The Chinese leader’s visit, in turn, came on the heels of the US strategic review of the Afghan war chiding Pakistan and asking it to do more to fight the Islamist terrorists operating from within its borders. This review has not set any benchmarks — at least publicly — to gauge Pakistan’s success in what is being demanded of it. Additionally, President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defence Secretary Robert Gates have reiterated in separate statements their concern about Pakistan’s role in the Afghan war.
Wen Jiabao obviously did not disappoint his hosts, and speaking to the joint session of the Pakistani parliament said what they really wanted to hear: “Pakistan was at the front of the international fight against terrorism and made big sacrifices and important contributions, which were obvious to all. The international community should affirm that and give great support as well as respect the path of development chosen by Pakistan. The fight against terrorism should not focus on specific religions or ethnic groups, but rather on eradicating the root factors breeding terrorism.”
While appearing to be a shot in the arm for the Pakistani regional policy, Mr Jiabao’s speech reinforces what is already known about Sino-Pak relations and the Chinese ambitions in the second decade of the 21st century. The Pakistani policy planners, especially those directly or indirectly associated with its ruling establishment, take a vicarious pride in the strides China has made and tend to believe that in the coming decade it would surpass the US as a global power. …
Read more : Daily Times
by Omar Ali
Within days of the arrest of some terrorists by the CID in Karachi, a group of terrorists was able to get together and attack CID headquarters with automatic weapons and a huge truck bomb. Obviously, these are not isolated disgruntled individuals taking revenge for the latest drone attack. They are well organized, well trained and well supplied with arms, ammunition, technical capability and intelligence. How did that come about? I had a Facebook exchange after the news which maybe relevant to the question and led to this article. …..
……. For proof of this, you need to look no further than Musharraf’s moronic interviews with Der Spiegel and, more recently, at the Atlantic council. In fact if you put this latest interview together with Admiral Fasih Bokhari’s article you can see that the generals who are America’s great white hope in Pakistan are perhaps more dangerous and deluded than the illiterate and corrupt gangsters that give the civilian political parties a bad name. But, military men being military men, no Pentagon general seems to be able to resist the sight of a man in a finely starched uniform, especially if he also likes whisky (the one sure sign of “enlightened moderation”, if the diplomatic reports of the US embassy from the last 50 years are any guide).
Unless we can wean the army off these twin ambitions (alliance with the mullahs in domestic politics and anti-Indian hatred as an organizing principle), we are in for much worse than this.
– [Omar Ali is a Pakistani-American physician who also moderates the “Asiapeace” discussion group on the internet.]
To read full article : OutLook