Best columns: International
Suu Kyi turns a blind eye to persecution
Bangkok Post (Thailand)
What will it take for the world to stop the slaughter of Myanmar’s Muslims? asked Charles Santiago. After Islamic extremists killed nine soldiers in attacks along the border with Bangladesh in October, the military ramped up its ethnic cleansing of the region’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Whole villages in Rakhine state have been torched, and tens of thousands of Rohingya have been left homeless. “Yet the world is silent.” There has not been a whimper of protest from Myanmar’s neighbors, and the United Nations has said little. Worse still, all this is occurring under not the old military dictatorship but the new elected government of that “icon of democracy,” the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. She isn’t behind the repression—the offensive was almost certainly ordered by still powerful army generals. But credible reports of murder, rape, and looting by soldiers have been leaking out for weeks, despite the army’s attempt to impose an information blackout, and Suu Kyi could at least have ordered a top-level investigation into the crimes. Instead, she has “turned a blind eye.” Local activists and Western leaders are losing faith in her. A humanitarian disaster is in the making: The international community must act now to halt it.
Kurds sour on dream of independence
Baghdad and Ankara are in a panic, said Tanya Goudsouzian. Now that ISIS is nearing defeat in Mosul, Iraqi and Turkish leaders fear that Iraq’s Kurds will demand full independence as the price of their involvement in the city’s liberation. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has some 700 troops stationed at a base just north of Mosul in part to stop that from happening. But Iraqi Kurds have more pressing problems to deal with before declaring independence. “A festering dispute” with Baghdad over illicit oil sales has meant that the Kurdish Regional Government has not received its 16 percent share of the national budget for months. Public-sector workers have gone without pay, pensions and benefits have been slashed, and schools and universities have been shuttered. “Once a postwar boomtown for foreign investors, the Kurdish region today is a ghost town.” Kurds worry they’re becoming “a nation of shoe shiners and vegetable sellers.” Above all, they’re utterly cynical about their own leaders. Masoud Barzani, president of Iraqi Kurdistan, refuses to step down even though his term ended last year. Now when he appears on TV promising independence, people laugh, knowing he’s trying to distract them from some corruption scandal. Far from dreaming of independence, most Kurds just want to return to the life they knew a few years ago.