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Police stand guard on the sidelines of an anti-World Cup protest near Maracana stadium on the last day of the World Cup soccer tournament, July 13, 2014 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Anti-World Cup protesters criticize that the government should spend money on improvements for education, health and housing, instead of soccer.

- Getty Images

NEW YORK — We often hear sport is a great equalizer that can level out distinctions like class and stomp out problems like racism. In fact, development agencies have long embraced sports as a means to transcend violent rivalries, especially in conflict-torn communities.

Kingsley Ighobor, information officer in the Africa Section for the United Nations, recalls the powerful ability of sports — soccer for men, kickball for women — to build trust between former combatants and civilians in post-civil war Liberia.

“People that had not had a reason to smile for many, many years, suddenly, they are all rallying around their team, they are happy,” he said. “Sports can enhance social cohesion within communities.”

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A resident of Syria's Yarmuk Palestinian refugee camp, south of Damascus, pushes a trolley loaded with a box of goods distributed by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) on July 17, 2014. Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have been laying siege to Yarmuk since last year.

- AFP/Getty Images

BEIRUIT — The United Nations Security Council finally adopted a resolution authorizing UN agencies and their implementing partners to deliver aid across the Syrian border without requiring the government’s consent. The government had completely ignored a February resolution calling for it to let aid reach all parts of Syria, including areas controlled by armed groups.

That’s a step in the right direction, if aid finally starts flowing. But it shouldn’t distract attention from another crucial demand the Security Council made back in February: for the warring parties to end indiscriminate attacks against civilians.

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Anti-Zionist ultra-Orthodox Jews of the Neturei Karta movement join a pro-Palestinian demonstration in front of the White House in Washington on July 20, 2014. US President Barack Obama called for an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza, on the bloodiest day of fighting between Israelis and Palestinians, and dispatched top US diplomat John Kerry for talks with regional leaders.

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BOSTON — Imagine my surprise when Hamas managed to fire numerous Syrian-made M302 rockets from the Gaza Strip toward northern Israel recently.

Well, actually, it was not such a surprise.

Remember last March when a ship called the "Klos-C" hauled into Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat? It was promptly intercepted but, as we suspected, it was a harbinger of things to come; the hold of that ship contained dozens of M302 rockets provided by Iran.

A recent UN Security Council report confirms that Iran was responsible for the shipment of these weapons. The document said the war materiel found aboard the Klos C is a violation of Iran's obligations under Security Council embargoes from 2007.

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Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan speaks during the parliamentary group meeting of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) on May 13, 2014 in Ankara.

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WASHINGTON — Few countries are as directly threatened by the crisis in Iraq as Turkey, a US ally and NATO member. Not only does it share a border with Iraq, but more than 100 of its citizens, including several diplomats and soldiers, have been kidnapped by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) since it overran Mosul last month.

In contrast to the Obama administration, which wisely jettisoned its misguided passive Iraq policy in favor of actively brokering a political solution in Iraq, Ankara remains publicly disengaged. Turkey must get off the diplomatic sidelines and look beyond its domestic political agenda — as the White House has done — or risk lasting damage to Turkey and the region as a whole.

So far, Turkey’s only response to ISIS, now calling itself the Islamic State, seizing large swathes of territory in Iraq has been to impose a total media blackout within Turkey on vague national security grounds. The Turkish Government seems to regard the kidnapping of its consul general and staff in Mosul as cause for the media blackout. Three journalists who reported on the situation have been jailed under Turkey’s draconian press laws.

While most of the Turkish truck drivers who were rounded-up by ISIS after Mosul’s collapse have been released, all of Turkey’s officials remain hostages.

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Editor’s Note: Jamil Ali is a pseudonym for the writer of this op-ed, who has asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. He is a former activist. 

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US Senators John McCain (C), R-AZ, talks to reporters after a closed meeting on Iraq and Afghanistan on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, July 8, 2014.

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DENVER —The blitzkrieg-like advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham in Iraq and its successive victories in that country’s Anbar, Ninewah, Diyala and Salah al Din provinces have provoked fanciful speculation of cooperation between the US and Iran to stem the extremists’ advance.

One major problem undercuts such talk. While the US and other western and Arab countries may share with Iran a common enemy in ISIS, we share no common interests.

The US and its allies seek a rejuvenation of Iraq’s flagging democracy and a restoration of balance and inclusiveness in its government; the goal is to usher in reduced violence, less corruption and greater stability.

Sunnis, Kurds and other ethnic and religious minorities must be included in the country’s governing structures and their rights must be protected.

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Nepalese people hold candles in memory of the 16 Nepalese Sherpa guides killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest in Katmandu on April 30, 2014. An unprecedented shutdown of Mount Everest after the worst ever accident on the world's highest peak has left grieving Nepalese Sherpa guides and their families fearing for their livelihoods. The avalanche on April 18 that tore through a group of Sherpas — who were hauling gear up the mountain for their foreign clients before dawn — left 16 people dead and three others seriously wounded.

- AFP/Getty Images

NEW YORK – Sitting here, catching up over ice coffees, over the Independence Day holidays in New York, the tales of life and death on mountain slopes and factory floors are a world away.

That’s unfortunate, but understandable as the latest sad headline has long replaced those about the deadliest accident in Mount Everest’s history less than three months ago, killing 16 Nepalese guides, or the news of a factory collapse in Bangladesh just over a year ago, killing more than a 1,000 garment workers.

For many Americans and indeed people of all nationalities caught up in our increasingly consumer-driven society, little thought is given to the people who make our goods or provide the services that will help ensure we get what we want, when we need it.

We have sought to begin to change that, keeping the attention on supply chains and the practices and tragedies that plague many of the products and services – from the latest summer outfits to the vacations of a lifetime – sourced often in Asia for America’s consumers.

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FARC-EP leftist guerrilla commander Andres Paris (L) reads a statement next to commander Jesus Santrich, at the Convention Palace in Havana before peace talks with the Colombian government, on May 12, 2014. The Colombian government has been engaged in peace talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) since November 2012, and President Juan Manuel Santos has made the effort a central feature of his presidency and his bid for re-election May 25. The FARC has been at war with the state since 1964. Considered Latin America's longest-running insurgency, the fighting has left hundreds of thousands dead and displaced 4.5 million.

- AFP/Getty Images

BOGOTA, Colombia — Colombia beat Greece 3-0 in its first World Cup Soccer Match, but the biggest contest for the Colombian people ended as Juan Manuel Santos survived a run-off election against Oscar Iván Zuluaga to remain president for four more years.

Santos won approximately 51 percent of the vote while Zuluaga came in second place with about 45 percent. The “third candidate,” an option to vote for “no one,” drew slightly more than 4 percent.

These elections were framed by economic development, social inclusion, international relations, the military’s role in society and the choice between war and peace.

Santos’s reelection bodes well for the peace process. Peace negotiations have been underway with the FARC in Havana, Cuba since 2012 and active negotiations with the National Liberation Army (ELN) were announced just five days before the election. While nearly every political party and politician uses the internal armed conflict as political fodder, this is the first time a negotiated peace seems possible, finally placing the emphasis on victims’ rights.

However, two additional issues are sticking points: amnesty for crimes such as massacres, kidnapping, drug trafficking and acts of terrorism and the legitimate participation of former guerrillas in the Colombian political system.

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A Myanmar Buddhist monk walks in front of a billboard advertising telecoms firm Ooredoo in Yangon on June 5, 2014. Radical Myanmar Buddhist monks are urging a boycott of telecoms firm Ooredoo because it hails from Muslim-majority Qatar, despite its promise to boost access to affordable mobile phones, a cleric said.

- AFP/Getty Images

RANGOON, Myanmar — Anyone visiting Myanmar’s commercial capital Rangoon cannot help but notice the saturation of billboards advertising the rollout of mobile phone services by Qatar-based telecommunication company Ooredoo.

Ooredoo won one of two licenses in an emerging and lucrative telecom market, yet it is the target of a boycott, spearheaded by Buddhist monks upset that the company is owned by the government of a Muslim country.

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QUITO, ECUADOR: A panoramic view of Pichincha Volcano in the city of Quito, 02 October 1998.

- AFP/Getty Images

QUITO, Ecuador — The Andean Countries are looking to significantly boost their domestic energy production on an unprecedented scale. Currently, there are 151 proposals to build hydroelectric dams in four Andean countries, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia and Ecuador. If built, they would mean a 300 percent increase over the current number of dams in these countries.

Ecuador, in particular, has launched hydroelectric infrastructure projects to enhance the country's electricity production capacity resulting from a recent increase in per capita electricity consumption.

The rise can be attributed to steady macro-economic growth and government policies that have provided segments of the Ecuadorian population with newfound access to services such as electricity, telephone and Internet.

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