Looking back over the week, a series of high-profile killings dominate the news, but at the same time a surprising number of peace talks began.
To start with the killings, yesterday the rebel military commander in Libya was shot to death. We don’t know why or by whom, but signs point to a split in the ranks of the stalled Libyan rebellion — bad news for those who want to see the war end quickly.
In Kosovo, a police officer was killed in an unwelcome resurgence of violence along the border of Kosovo and Serbia. The incident seems to be de-escalating but is a reminder that after 12 years Kosovo is still unsettled. Part of the world recognizes an independent Kosovo and the other part considers it still a province of Serbia. Kosovo’s recent moves to ban imports from Serbia and assert its sovereignty in the Serbian-populated area near the border (if it is a border) were probably not such a great idea.
In Somalia, where the famine is heartbreaking, aid began arriving in the capital Mogadishu but triggered an outbreak of intense fighting there. At least ten people were killed yesterday.
In Syria, five more people were killed by the government security forces. A reported 1600 people have been killed in the attempted repression of protests in recent months, and the number grows daily. Today after Friday prayers there will undoubtedly be more nonviolent protests and more killings.
In Iran last weekend an academic possibly connected to the nuclear program was shot dead in the streets. This is not the first such assassination in Iran.
And in Afghanistan yesterday a BBC reporter was among more than 20 people killed in a Taliban attack on police and government buildings. I am repeatedly awed by the BBC and its reporting from dangerous places, so it is especially sad to see one of those brave reporters die. Afghanistan has also seen several high-profile assassinations in the last couple of weeks, including President Karzai’s half-brother and the mayor of Kandahar.
But before you crawl back into bed, consider the talks.
Israeli president Shimon Peres has been holding secret peace talks with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat. These are among the most seasoned and reasonable people on each side of the equation so it’s good to see them going over maps and details in case the conflict turns out to be less hopeless than is usually assumed.
India and Pakistan held talks Wednesday at the foreign minister level for the first time in a couple of years. They went well and generated some forward momentum, although only trivial concrete agreements resulted.
In New York, the United States and North Korea are unexpectedly holding talks about the possible resumption of six-party negotiations on North Korea’s nuclear program. This follows direct talks between North and South Korea recently, held under pressure from the United States and China to cool temperatures on the Korean Peninsula.
Even in Boroland, India, where a low-intensity armed conflict that you never heard of has dragged on for 25 years, the rebels have just suspended fighting to engage in peace talks with the government.
So is the upsurge of negotiations this week cause for hope, or is the upsurge of killings cause for despair. Frankly, I’m feeling a bit of each. My hope for future is, of course, Talk More; Kill Less.