By Geoffrey Paul, Middle East Specialist Based in London

Coincidence or historical irony? Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas goes to the UN General Assembly on Thursday to seek an upgrade in the international status of Palestine from “permanent observer” at the UN  to  “non-member observer state,” the same status as enjoyed by the  Vatican. His bid comes  65 years to the day since, on November 29, 1947, the  UN passed a resolution calling for the establishment of separate Arab and Jewish states in the British mandated territory of Palestine.

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The EU has made more headlines in the American media this year than perhaps at any time in its history.   With markets and governments jittery about the future of the EU single currency, the euro, there has been a flurry of EU summits peppered with seemingly endless talks on bailout terms and treaty changes. And the future of the EU has been in play.

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Europe is moving toward a big expansion in its economic assistance to North Africa in the form of geoffpauldevelopment investments by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Starting with Egypt, the countries of “the Arab spring” stand to receive aid potentially amounting to tens of billions of euros from this London-based source.

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Presidents, prime ministers and sundry other officials from the Middle East are frantically working on geoffpaulEuropean (and U.S.) officials this summer advocating for and against the proposed UN General Assembly vote this fall to accept Palestine as a member state in the world body.

 

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If and when Gaddafi departs, the violent disorder that gripped Baghdadjohnherbstleomichel
after Saddam Hussein’s fall in 2003 risks being replayed in Tripoli and elsewhere. Hence, the international community should be prepared to assist Libya’s Transitional National Council to maintain basic security. But who, precisely, will lead the international community in this effort?

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