ICG: Quartet “done more harm than good”

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The diplomatic body known as the Middle East “Quartet”–the U.S., UN, EU and Russia–is a fraud that “has done more harm than good,” the International Crisis Group argues in a bracing new report on the stalemated Israeli-Palestinian peace process, entitled “The Emperor has no clothes: Palestinians and the end of the peace process.”

“Palestinian recourse to the UN is a symptom, at base, of international failure to lead and provide effective mediation,” the ICG report says. “The body responsible for doing so, the Quartet, has delivered precious little since its 2002 inception; by creating an international forum [that favors] … a mushy, lowest-common-denominator consensus, it arguably has done more harm than good.”

“The inescapable truth, almost two decades into the peace process, is that all actors are now engaged in a game of make-believe,” it continues.

“The first step in breaking what has become an injurious addiction to a futile process is to recognise that it is so – to acknowledge, at long last, that the emperor has no clothes.”

Full report (.pdf) here.

ICG, of course, isn’t the first to conclude the negotiating body hopelessly broken. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, for one, put it only slightly more obliquely last summer. Continue reading

Kurdistan’s man in Washington prepares for new role back home

Qubad Talabani, the longtime Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) envoy to Washington, will move to Kurdistan this summer after a twelve-year run representing Iraqi Kurdistan here that has seen the US invasion and withdrawal from Iraq.

Talabani, 34, the son of Iraq’s president Jalal Talabani, will head up a new strategic policy coordinating body reporting to the Kurdistan region’s prime minister, Talabani told me in an interview Tuesday. He will be based in the provincial capital of Erbil, and accompanied by his family– his wife Sherri Kraham, a managing director in the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) policy department, and their two year old son, Ari.

“Clearly, professionally, this is a step in the right direction for me,” Talabani said. “After twelve years of being here, I am sad to leave this great city but excited to start a new challenge.”

Given Talabani’s ancestral pedigree, however, it’s hard not to wonder if he’s being groomed to assume a future political leadership role.: Read the full piece here.