20 March 2019   Leave a comment

Mozambique suffered serious destruction from Cyclone Idai last Thursday, and we are just now beginning to appreciate the extent to which the country has been affected. The coastal city of Beira was almost totally destroyed by the cyclone and hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless. The damage also extended into Malawi and Zimbabwe. The damage to social infrastructure will likely increase:

“Paul Spiegel, director of the Center for Humanitarian Health at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says he expects to see an increase in cases of dysentery and cholera, since clean water, soap, and functioning latrines are scarce. Especially for children under five, diarrhea can quickly turn life-threatening. Rain is still falling; the damp conditions are associated with a higher risk of contracting pneumonia and other respiratory diseases, which can then spread easily in crowded shelters, he says. At the same time, people who suffer from non-communicable diseases like epilepsy and diabetes may lose access to their medication, he says.

There is no way to tell at this time whether the destructiveness of Idai was associated with climate change, but many experts believe that further analysis will suggest a strong link.

Destruction in Beira, Mozambique

Satellite Image of Cyclone Idai

Philip H. Gordon of the Council on Foreign Relations has written an essay criticizing US President Trump’s moves toward the Palestinian Authority. The moves include moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, cut off financial support for the Palestinian Authority, cutting off humanitarian aid to Palestinian hospitals, cutting off aid to the refugee program, UNRWA, and closing the Palestinian office in Washington, DC. Gordon describes current US policy in these terms:

“According to the Trump administration, these moves are designed to make clear to Palestinians that they need to accept new realities and agree to the U.S. peace plan. As the president’s top advisor on the issue, Jared Kushner, explains, ‘All we’re doing is dealing with things as we see them and not being scared out of doing the right thing. I think, as a result, you have a much higher chance of actually achieving a real peace.’ Kushner has also said that he believes the Palestinian leadership is refusing talks with the United States about the peace plan because ‘they are scared we will release our peace plan and that the Palestinian people will actually like it,’ apparently assuming that the Palestinian people are more ready for compromise with Israel than their leadership. Trump has himself been even blunter about using U.S. humanitarian aid as leverage, telling the Palestinians publicly that ‘we’re not paying until you make a deal. If you don’t make a deal we’re not paying.

Gordon then makes the case that this tougher line is likely to be ineffective and even counterproductive.

“Instead of compelling Palestinians to accept a deal, however, the new measures are having the opposite effect. With the end of U.S. assistance and with U.S. alignment with Israeli positions on crucial political issues, Palestinian leaders have cut off political contact with Trump officials. Two-thirds of Palestinians now oppose the resumption of contact with U.S. negotiators and 88 percent view the United States as biased toward Israel. The clearest product of the administration’s approach has not been Palestinians bowing to U.S. demands but seeking—and to a degree gaining—support for greater international recognition of Palestinian statehood and for diplomatic and economic pressure on Israel.”

Gordon then outlines some policies that he believes would be more conducive to a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The essay is worth a close read.

Posted March 20, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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