Sunday, November 24, 2013

Putting the Iran Deal in Context

Gamechanger: Inside the Historic Iran Nuclear Deal

By Christopher Dickey, November 24th 20138:19 AM

Once again the Obama administration pulls the United States away from the path to war, but that's not the same as peace.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Mad Shooter of Paris & the "Natural Born Killers" of '94

The Mad Shooter of Paris
 and the 'Natural Born Killers' of 1994

By Christopher Dickey, November 21st 2013 8:02 AM 
The alleged gunman who terrorized the city over the last few days turns out to be the accomplice of a pair of romanticized would-be revolutionaries back in 1994.

Florence Rey, Abdelhakim Dekhar and Audry Maupin as they looked in 1994. Photos by AFP, montage by Ouest-France

-- Alison Mosshart of The Kills

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Follow-Up: Polio in Syria, where it came from, what's being done to stop it

Update from World Health Organization says the "wild polio virus" found in Syria apparently originated in Pakistan and is related to the examples found in Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories over the last year, although no outbreak of the disease occurred in those places. In Syria, because immunization programs broke down in contested areas, 13 cases of the disease have been reported among young children. Previously there had been no cases in Syria since 1999.

Polio in the Syrian Arab Republic - update

Disease outbreak news

11 NOVEMBER 2013 - Thirteen cases of wild poliovirus type 1 (WPV1) have been confirmed in the Syrian Arab Republic. Genetic sequencing indicates that the isolated viruses are most closely linked to virus detected in environmental samples in Egypt in December 2012 (which in turn had been linked to wild poliovirus circulating in Pakistan). Closely related wild poliovirus strains have also been detected in environmental samples in Israel, West Bank and Gaza Strip since February 2013. Wild poliovirus had not been detected in the Syrian Arab Republic since 1999.

A comprehensive outbreak response continues to be implemented across the region. On 24 October 2013, an already-planned large-scale supplementary immunization activity was launched in the Syrian Arab Republic to vaccinate 1.6 million children against polio, measles, mumps and rubella, in both government-controlled and contested areas. Implementation of a supplementary immunization campaign in Deir Al Zour province commenced promptly when the first ‘hot’ acute flaccid paralysis (AFP) cases were reported. Larger-scale outbreak response across the Syrian Arab Republic and neighbouring countries will continue for at least 6-8 months depending on the area and based on the evolving situation.

Given the current situation in the Syrian Arab Republic, frequent population movements across the region and the immunization level in key areas, the risk of further international spread of wild poliovirus type 1 across the region is considered to be high. A surveillance alert has been issued for the region to actively search for additional potential cases.

WHO’s International Travel and Health recommends that all travellers to and from polio-infected areas be fully vaccinated against polio.

WHO update on polio outbreak in Middle East

WHO statement

13 November 2013

A comprehensive outbreak response continues to roll out across the Middle East following confirmation of the polio outbreak in Syria.

Seven countries and territories are holding mass polio vaccination campaigns with further extensive campaigns planned for December targeting 22 million children. In a joint resolution all countries of the WHO Eastern Mediterranean Region have declared polio eradication to be an emergency and called on Pakistan to urgently access and vaccinate all of its children to stem the international spread of its viruses. The countries also called for support in negotiating and establishing access to those children who are currently unreached with polio vaccination.

WHO and UNICEF are committed to working with all organizations and agencies providing humanitarian assistance to Syrians affected by the conflict. This includes vaccinating all Syrian children no matter where they are, whether in government or contested areas, or indeed outside Syria.

The first priorities are to resupply and reactivate the required health infrastructure, including redeploying health workers to deliver vaccine in worst-affected areas, and moving vaccine across conflict lines where necessary and possible. The government has committed to reach all children; information on which areas are not reached will guide corrective actions and planning for the next rounds. All parties are working to find solutions for conflict-affected areas.

Dr. Jaouad Mahjour, Director of Communicable Diseases Prevention and Control at WHO’s Eastern Mediterranean Regional Office, stressed the necessity of reaching all children inside Syria and in neighbouring countries. "WHO and UNICEF are coordinating the vaccination campaign with all concerned parties to make sure that all children are vaccinated no matter where they are located."

Larger-scale outbreak response across the Syrian Arab Republic and neighboring countries will continue, to last for at least 6 to 8 months depending on the area and based on evolving epidemiology.


This is a follow-up to my story: A Dread Disease Spreads by Accident

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Mad Gunman of Paris and the Mad Gun Culture of the United States

The Mad Gunman of Paris
By Christopher Dickey November 19th 20137:10 AM
The French can be thankful the man trying to terrorize their journalists and bankers does not have the mindset—or the arsenal—of your usual American mass murderer.

Monday, November 18, 2013

French Press Review: President Hollande in Israel; Inequality growing in France

Europe's Casual Racism Finally Being Called Out

Outrage at the racist caricatures of French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira; protests against the blackface "Black Pete" holiday celebrations in The Netherlands: Maybe Europe is beginning to come to terms with the casual racism ingrained as part of its culture. Or, maybe not. A phenomenon to watch:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's Messenger and Master Spy

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi Arabia's Gatsby & Master Spy

Christopher Dickey
By Christopher Dickey
November 16th 20135:45 AM
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once famous in Washington for his cigars, parties and charm, is now Saudi Arabia's point man, fighting Iran in Syria and denouncing the Obama administration.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Grim-Reality Show: A Day in the Life of Za'atari Refugee Camp, on YouTube from UNHCR

This is fascinating, and may become very controversial. The UNHCR turns a camera on itself to expose the drama, and the deep tensions, inside a burgeoning refugee city filled with Syrians who've fled across the desert into Jordan.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Undoing of the Iran Nuclear Deal

Why France Is to Blame for Blocking the Iran Nuclear Agreement
by Christopher Dickey Nov 10, 2013 11:54 AM EST
After years of discussions, the world's major powers had finally devised a promising deal to stop Iran's worrisome nuclear program—until France's bureaucrats thwarted the plan.


For France, Arak is a deal killer
By Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-Israeli Middle East analyst. He teaches contemporary Iranian politics at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. On Twitter: @meirja

And, in French, the French spin:

Nucléaire iranien : Fabius a-t-il empêché un accord ?
Publié le 10-11-2013 à 16h41 - Mis à jour le 11-11-2013 à 08h48Par Vincent Jauvert
La France est désignée, par certains, comme la responsable numéro un de l'échec des pourparlers de Genève entre l'Iran et les grandes puissances.

Friday, November 08, 2013

The Arafat Poisoning: The Intrigues, the Background, and What Was in His Bag

Arafat's Polonium Poisoning Mystery Resurfaces
by Christopher Dickey Nov 7, 2013 2:15 PM EST
Was the Palestinian leader poisoned? Maybe. Will we ever know for sure who did it? Nope. A very personal look at the intrigues that surrounded his life and death.

Yasir Arafat's Underwear: What the PLO chairman carried with him on his way to die in France in 2004. These photographs are from the Swiss forensic report, posted by Al Jazeera,  that suggests Arafat was poisoned with radioactive polonium-210. I tell the back story of this alleged murder mystery on The Daily Beast.

Flashback: Arafat's Baby and Rabin's Gift, 1995
Almost a decade after the death of Yasir Arafat, his widow is trying to build a case that he was murdered. A recent forensic report out of Switzerland gives her theory partial support. But there was a moment in the early 1990s when it actually seemed there might be peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and Arafat's baby girl became a part of that process.

Follow my articles on @csdickey and my photos @6ideas

Flashback: Arafat's Baby and Rabin's Gift, 1995

Almost a decade after the death of Yasir Arafat, his widow is trying to build a case that he was murdered. A recent forensic report out of Switzerland gives her theory partial support. But there was a moment in the early 1990s when it actually seemed there might be peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and Arafat's baby girl became a part of that process. 


September 18, 1995 , UNITED STATES EDITION

The Tiniest Diplomat



LENGTH: 570 words

HIGHLIGHT: Arafat: Having a baby warms relations with Rabin

BABIES DO HAVE WINNING WAYS. THEY melt hearts and help break the ice socially. But can a baby contribute to peace in the Middle East? If the little girl in question is Zahwa Arafat, daughter of the PLO chairman, then the answer may be yes -- in a very Middle Eastern sort of way. And she's not even teething yet. Actually, her work started before she was born.
The problem she's helping solve is how to smooth relations between her father. Yasir Arafat of the PLO, and Israel's Yitzhak Rabin. Rabin hates Arafat, and always has. Even when they shook hands for peace on the White House lawn two years ago, Rabin held back for a second. But their political futures depend on their ability to help each other. They've been forced to move from a handshake to a wary embrace.
Formal "confidence-building measures" aren't the only way to establish trust. Blood ties and family milestones count for a lot in the Mideast -- and have slowly made the contacts between Rabin and Arafat more personal. Aides exploring back channels have played an important role, too. But baby Zahwa helped when she needed to. She set the tone.
A moment of bonding between the Palestinian and Israeli leaders came in Oslo last December, when they met to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Suha Arafat had just announced that she was pregnant. There was "a strange, very familiar atmosphere in Oslo," says a source close to the Arafats. Rabin's wife, Leah, "said in front of everybody, "If you don't mind, we'd like you to have the baby in Israel." As if that were normal for Palestine's First Lady. And before the Rabins left Norway, according to this friend of the family, the two of them made a point of stopping by the Arafats' room to say goodbye.
For medical reasons Suha decided she would have the baby in the American Hospital near Paris. By midsummer most of her own family had gathered there. Then, suddenly, Suha's father died. Arafat sent word that he wanted his father-in-law buried in the West Bank. That part of the occupied territorities was under negotiation, and the talks were at a very problematic moment. "Arafat told Suha that everything was cleared [for the funeral] with Rabin and to go there," says the family friend. In the end, the family decided not to go, because Suha couldn't travel in her last month of pregnancy -- but Rabin's accommodation was any important gesture.

Zahwa was born on July 24. Rabin called Arafat the next day to congratulate him. Leah Rabin phoned Suha Arafat to ask how she and the baby were doing. And a gift arrived in Gaza: a basket in which to carry the baby. The gift was sent by Yossi Ginossar, an aide to Rabin, a key back-channel contact between him and Arafat -- and a former internal-security officer implicated in abuses against Palestinians. An odd man to choose as a go-between with Arafat, it would seem. But Ginossar's own son was killed while serving with the Israeli Army in Gaza in 1991. "The fact that he 'paid the price' puts him on an even basis," says a former gabin adviser on security. Ginossar, whose brief is to discover the fate of Israeli MIAs. now strongly supports coexistence with the Palestinians. And Arafat's help with MIA issues has been a key to improving his relations with Rabin. It's not likely Rabin and Arafat will ever be friends. But over the long run, lost sons and newborn daughters may do a lot to help the old warriors make peace.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

The Man Who Hoarded Art for the Nazis; Pedophiles Caught in the "Sweetie" Sting; The Paris of Your Dreams; and more

The Man Who Hoarded Art for the Nazis
by Christopher Dickey and Nadette De Visser Nov 5, 2013 8:50 AM EST
The dealer who sold off modern art that Adolf Hitler considered garbage saved masterpieces from destruction – and for himself. His billion-dollar stash has now been uncovered.

Dutch NGO Stages Sting Of Pedophiles With Virtual Girl
by Christopher Dickey Nov 5, 2013 11:48 AM EST
A "virtual" 10-year-old girl from the Philippines snares 1,000 alleged pedophiles around the world—but Interpol is not pleased.

The Paris of Your Dreams, 3 November 2013
A brief review of Peter Turnley's new collection of photographs, and a selection of 20 unforgettable images.

France24 Video: The World This Week - October 25th, 2013
National dialogue finally gets under way in Tunisia to head off popular discontent, Obama has some explaining to do after it's revealed the NSA has spied on more than 30 world leaders and French football goes on strike against higher taxes. Cyril Vanier and his panel of journalists discuss all this and more in The World This Week. Christopher Dickey, Paris Bureau Chief, The Daily Beast; Jean Marc Illouz, Former Senior Correspondent, France 2; Emre Demir, Editor at Zaman France.


Shadowland Flashbacks -- The columns we were writing a decade ago before, during and after the American-led invasion of Iraq. Updated daily.

Echoes of the Civil War -- The lessons unlearned from 150 years ago.

Follow my articles on @csdickey and my photos @6ideas