Archive for April 29, 2012
Saudi Arabia closed its embassy in Egypt and recalled its ambassador following protests over a detained Egyptian human rights lawyer in a sharp escalation of tension between two regional powerhouses already on shaky terms because of uprisings in the Arab world. The unexpected Saudi diplomatic break came following protests by Egyptians outside the Saudi Embassy in Cairo to demand the release of Ahmed el-Gezawi. Relatives and human rights groups say he was detained for allegedly insulting the kingdom’s monarch. Saudi authorities said he was arrested for trying to smuggle antianxiety drugs into the conservative kingdom. Egypt’s military ruler, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, has asked King Abdullah to reconsider the decision, the Saudi news agency reported. The news agency said the king would look into the matter.
When Hillary Clinton made her first trip abroad as secretary of state, she baldly said the United States could not let human rights disputes get in the way of working with China on global challenges. Now that the blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng is under U.S. protection in Beijing, according to a U.S.-based rights group, the United States will find out if China has made the same calculation. Chen’s escape after 19 months of house arrest and apparent request for U.S. protection comes at a vexing time for both countries, with diplomats preparing for annual economic and security talks in Beijing this week, and with China’s Communist Party trying to contain a divisive political scandal involving a former senior official, Bo Xilai. Assuming it has Chen, it is inconceivable that the United States would turn him over to the Chinese authorities against his wishes, said current and former U.S. officials. That leaves China with a choice – let the broader relationship suffer in a standoff with the United States, or seek a compromise, a scenario analysts, current and former officials saw as probable though by no means certain. As of Sunday, the United States has not publicly confirmed reports that Chen fled from house arrest in his village home in Shandong province into the U.S. embassy. China has also declined direct comment on the dissident’s reported escape from his carefully watched home. The incident will form an unwelcome backdrop for the visit of the U.S. secretaries of state and treasury to Beijing for their Strategic and Economic Dialogue on Thursday and Friday. The reports of Chen’s escape also come nearly three months after a Chinese official Wang Lijun fled into the U.S. consulate in Chengdu for over 24 hours, unleashing the Bo Xilai scandal that has rattled the ruling Communist Party months before a once-in-a-decade leadership handover.
Georgia’s breakaway region Abkhazia has opened an embassy in Nicaragua. According to Apsnypress, Abkhazia’s ambassador to Venezuela, Zaur Gvajava, will also take on the function as ambassador to Nicaragua. Nicaragua will help Abkhazians in their relations with other countries and will offer support in their attempts at getting recognition for Abkhazia’s independence, Zaur Gvajava said. He notes that a so-called foreign affairs delegation will arrive from 20 to 27 May and sign an agreement about visa-freedom. “The document is already prepared and only signatures are necessary.” Also Georgia’s other breakaway region, South Ossetia, have opened an embassy in Nicaragua, thereby establishing diplomatic relations. Ambassador will be Namir Kozayev, who is also ambassador to Venezuela. Officials in Tbilisi say nothing has changed legally by this. On August 26, after a five-day war in August 2008, Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In total, five countries have recognized the separatist regions. Nicaragua was first to follow Russia on September 5, 2008. The President of Venezuela followed suit in September 2009, and after him, the Pacific island states of Nauru and Vanuatu. The Republic of Vanuatu is located on 83 islands in the Pacific Ocean. Its area is 12 000 square kilometers, and the population was 243 000 in 2009. In the western part of the Pacific is Nauru with a population of 14 000.