North Korea

North Korea
The always bombastic and unpredictable North Koreans go hysterical again. This time the country is prepared to "go to war" with South Korea because that country is playing loudspeakers directed at North Korean territory. A headline from a UK paper reads, "More than 50 North Korea submarines 'leave their bases' as war talks with South continue "

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Egypt swirls, Syria sinks - and a corruption index?

Unfortunately, if one is attempting to note "the news," the chaotic Middle East is hard to ignore. Once again, Egypt and Syria dominate the more dramatic detail developments - though the general trend of what and why is drearily well-known.

Syria, left to its own devices, continues to disintegrate. Fighting has now spread to the capital Damascus. The capital city's airport has been closed periodically, the country's internet service has likewise been shut down and restarted, etc. Reports are that Western countries - in lieu of anything more direct - are pushing the "opposition" to take stronger form and become more "legitimate" in order for the West to be ready to deal with a new Syrian government should the current one collapse.

Significant fighting in Sunni neighborhoods of Damascus itself is becoming commonplace ...

In parts of Northeast Syria no longer controlled by Assad, Syrian Kurdish women integrate into defensive units.

The Kurds - some 25-30 million strong - are one wild card in the region, bringing in larger governance concerns in Turkey and Iran, as well as Iraq where some degree of autonomy for the ethnic group has been formally recognized.

At the same time, warnings from the West continue to stream along. The latest concern voiced is again over Syria's (ie. President Bashar al Assad's regime) stockpile of chemical weapons. There are unsubstantiated reports that canisters of these chemicals have been loaded into bombs, though the bombs have not been weaponized (activated) or attached to fighter jets or helicopters, etc.

Sporadic clashes continue as spillover into Lebanon, Turkey has been promised defensive missile batteries by NATO, and there is relative silence from Iran and Hezbollah - Assad's unabashed supporters.

Egypt , already attempting to broker negotiations between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel, has its own crisis. Egyptian President Morsi, by declaring dictatorial power for himself - though he insists it is temporary and only to allow the revolution to continue - has roused anger on the Egyptian street.

Over 100,000 protestors at Tahrir Square on December 4, miles from the palace itself where tens of thousands are also camped out. Nearly three months ago, Egyptians were breaching the US Embassy on 9/11, now it is their own government which is the target

Rocks fly, protestors converge, and at one point in the past few days the presidential palace was facing such large numbers of protestors that the President might have been evacuated by his security forces to prevent any awkward encounters. Egyptian judges have organized one-day boycotts of their own legal work as a protest against the Morsi decrees, and in some cases have postponed their work indefinitely.

Egyptian tanks now deployed in defense of the Presidential palace

Arab Spring at least in these two countries has not gone as envisioned by the West.

Corruption Index

As Ynet news summarizes, "The Global Corruption Report, produced by the Transparency International (TI) organization, ranks the world's countries according to perceived levels of public corruption. The ranking is based on interviews with businesspeople and politicians inside and outside the reviewed country, and surveys conducted by research institutes, economic institutions and universities worldwide.

A country or territory’s score indicates the perceived level of public sector corruption on a scale of 0-100, where 0 means that a country is perceived as highly corrupt and 100 means it is perceived as very clean."

The 2012 report was issued December 5, and Denmark, Finland and New Zealand tie for first place with scores of 90. These high scores are derived by confidence among the nations' respective business and political leaders, "helped by strong access to information systems and rules governing the behavior of those in public positions."

Sweden ranks fourth with a score of 88, followed by Singapore (87), Switzerland (86), Australia and Norway (85), and Canada and the Netherlands (84). In the Middle East, Israel has a score of 60, Jordan a score of 48, Egypt with its score of 32 falls to 118th place in the 170 nations ranked, while Lebanon is in 128th place (30), and Syria in 144th place (26).

Afghanistan, North Korea and Somalia once again are found at the bottom of the index with tied scores of 8.

Click on image for full picture
The full index and discussion can be found at The US ranks 19th with a score of 79, Japan has a score of 73, China has a score of 39, Russia ranks 133rd with a score of 28. Pakistan has a score of 27.

The point one might make is this - do corruption and instability correlate, or as one astute Pacific Northwest observer notes on another matter, "Coincidence?? I don't think so"

1 comment:

Teatree said...

Just in case one is looking for some possible scenarios on what will happen in Syria, this article in the Christian Science Monitor seems worth the read.