Ever since I first saw the Besiktas football ground in Istanbul, I have wanted to watch a match there. It is the most spectacularly situated stadium I have ever seen – right in the centre of the city, just above the Bosphorous on the European side.
Tonight I had a chance to mix pleasure with business, since Besiktas were playing Maccabi Tel Aviv. Given the state of relations between Turkey and Israel, this felt more like a political event than a mere football match.
Here come the Brics, ready to bail out the eurozone. Really? We heard this before with China and Greece. It was implausible then – unless we are talking about China snapping up a few real assets going cheap rather than buying sovereign debt – and it is implausible now.
It is safe to say that the US government is dreading the prospect of a UN Security Council vote on Palestine’s bid for statehood later this month. At present the Americans reckon they could well lose such a vote 14-1, which would be a humiliation. It is possible that Britain, France and Germany (in particular) might abstain – but the Americans aren’t counting on it.
By David Oakley
A decision by ratings agency Moody’s over whether to downgrade Italy’s triple A sovereign rating is imminent. As the debacle this summer over S&P’s decision to downgrade the US illustrated, such a move could have major repercussions in the markets. So, just what is going on? How worried should we be? And might there be more downgrades to come in the eurozone?
What is Italy’s current investment rating?
Moody’s announced that it had put Italy on watch for downgrade in the middle of June. The agency gives itself a deadline of three months to make a decision, which should be in the next few days.
I usually turn to the sports pages for some light relief from the cares of the world. But the euro-crisis is not so easy to get away from. Reading an account of Arsenal’s preparations for their away game in Germany tonight, I saw that their revered manager, Arsene Wenger, is thinking about more than the state of Jack Wilshere’s ankle. At yesterday’s press conference, he mused – “I believe that Europe overall, as a unit, is going towards a massive crisis, which nobody really expects now. I am convinced that Europe will go into a huge financial crisis within the next three weeks or three months and maybe that will put everything into perspective again.”
Since the eruption of Syria’s uprising six months ago, one thing has been clear, for the protestors and the world alike: there would be no international military intervention to get rid of Bashar al-Assad.
Syrians are far too nationalistic to accept anything resembling outside military involvement, the argument went, and the Libya mission was too messy, too fraught with risk, to be attempted again.
China’s definition of what constitutes its “core interest” appears to be spreading. Such interests used to be confined to a few areas, about which the Communist party would brook absolutely no dissenting view. These included its national security, national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Tibet, where there is a strong separatist element, quite obviously forms part of China’s definition of territorial integrity. So does the island of Taiwan, ceded to Japan in 1895, and now a self-governed democracy. Beijing has made clear that, if Taiwan were ever to declare formal independence, it would invade. More recently, the term has been applied to Xinjiang, the huge area of western China that has been the scene of clashes between local Muslims and Han Chinese.
By Gideon Rachman
This week marks not just the tenth anniversary of 9/11 – it is also the third anniversary of 9/15, the day when Lehman Brothers collapsed. But while world politics is no longer dominated by the “war on terror”, a different form of terror is stalking the world’s financial markets.
The crisis in Israel’s relations with Turkey and Egypt - combined with the anniversary of 9/11 - casts an interesting light on the question of Israel’s relations with the neocons in America. If you remember, at the time of the invasion of Iraq, one of the most popular conspiracy theories was that US policy was being driven by a cabal of neoconservative thinkers – many of them Jewish – who were accused of acting at the behest of Israel.
There is no doubt that many of the neocons were and are strong supporters of Israel. But there were actually always philosophical differences between important neocon thinkers like Robert Kagan and Bill Kristol, and the Netanyahu government. Above all, they differed on the desireability of democracy in the Arab world.
American business and political leaders reflect on the 9/11 terror attacks and how they changed the US and the world.