Daniel Korski

Goading in the Gulf

The year has begun with Iran and the United States circling each other in the Straits of Hormuz; like two boxers before a bout, seeing who will strike first and working out where a blow could land. The immediate cause has been Iranian manoeuvres in the Arabian Gulf, and a visit to the area by

Will Israel bomb a near-nuclear Iran in 2012?

An Israeli strike on Iran has to be the most over-predicted event of recent years. It was meant to happen last year. And the year before that. But now there are reasons why 2012 could, indeed, be the year when Israel will find it propitious to take overt military action against Iran’s nuclear programme. (Everyone

Person of the year: The Islamist?

Last week, Time Magazine named ‘The Protestor’ as its Person of the Year. Myself, I’d be tempted to bestow the honorific upon ‘The Islamist’. For, in the spirit of the Time award, it is the Islamists, rather than the revolutionaries, who are now in the ascendancy in the Middle East. Governments in Morocco, Tunisia, Libya

Turkish anger, French parochialism, British benefit

The relationship between Turkey and France — which started with the alliance between Francis I and Suleiman the Magnificent — is in precarious territory following the French Parliament’s decision to ban denial of the Armenian Genocide. Turkey’s moderate Islamist government has taken as hard a line on the issue as previous Kemalist governments did, and

What didn’t happen in 2011

In the run-up to every New Year, newspapers and the blogosphere are full of articles about what happened in the year just gone. 2011 was a particularly eventful year so there will be much to pick from. But what about the things that did not happen, though they were widely expected? Here are five things

Stopping Maliki’s coup

The year is ending not with a successful US withdrawal from Iraq — as President Barack Obama claims — but with what amounts to a coup d’etat by the country’s Shiite prime minister (and former ally of the US) Nouri al-Maliki. Less than 24 hours after the last US soldier left Iraq, the country’s Sunni

Fog around the Falklands

For the populist president of Argentina, Cristina Kirchner, the ban on Falklands-flagged ships agreed by the Mercosur summit in Montevideo is a diplomatic triumph. It comes after a string of similar moves throughout the region aimed at tightening the noose around the Falklands. For example, HMS Gloucester was denied access to Montevideo in 2010 and,

Who is the British foreign secretary?

Officially, of course, the answer to that question is William Hague – who has put in some decent work since assuming office, particularly during the Arab Spring. But, still, I ask it because, following the European Council, Nick Clegg seems to have usurped the Foreign Secretary’s role in a number of key areas. It was

Whither North Korea after Kim Jong-il’s death?

The photographs and video footage show North Koreans weeping in their hundreds at the news of Kim Jong-il’s death. But the departed leader, immortalised by Team America as a song-prone loner, remained a mystery to both his people and outsiders alike.   He came to power after his father, North Korea’s founder Kim il Sung,

Was the PM reasonable?

As the effects of last week’s European Council become clear, debate about the rights and wrongs of David Cameron’s diplomacy hinge on one question: were his demands ‘reasonable and modestly expressed’, as a source in No 10 put it to me? Everyone knows that there were chronic failures in the run-up to the meeting itself.

The government’s Sarkozy problem (and other euro dilemmas)

This week’s European Council meeting has been analysed by diplomats and commentators alike, but a number of issues have not been brought out as clearly as they need to be. The first is that Britain will now achieve political advantage, at the cost of economic setback, if the euro collapses. Although the government insists both

What Cameron can do next

What now? That’s the question. This morning it looks not like 17 versus 10, but like 1 versus 26, which is a cold and lonely place for Britain to be. But it is also the right place to be. David Cameron asked for a little and got less. He had to act as he did

What could Cameron have done differently?

It is hard not to see the results of last night’s European meeting as the first step towards a fundamentally different — and much looser — relationship between Britain and the EU. The UK, which for centuries has fought to keep any one power from dominating the continent, and for decades has sought to prevent

Cameron’s Europlan comes together

The Tory party may not like it, but David Cameron is now finally following a sensible EU policy. As today’s summit in Brussels starts, the Prime Minister appears to have decided what really matters to the UK, and realised that he needs to play nice with the Germans and French. At the top of the

Russia’s Tahrir?

Just a couple of days after Vladimir Putin’s electoral setback, Russian police have arrested a number of protesters, including veteran liberal politician Boris Nemtsov and the popular blogger Alexei Navalny. This is the umpteenth time that Nemtsov, the former deputy prime minister of Russia, has been manhandled by the Russian state. He also spent some

Learning to live with Islamists

Islamists have won a landslide in Egypt, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-Conservative Al Nour party winning some 60 per cent of the votes cast. Future rounds of elections may benefit them further, as they take pace in more rural and conservative areas. Their success should be a surprise to nobody. Egypt is a

Behold post-Putin Russia

Sunday’s parliamentary elections in Russia marked the beginning of the end of the Putin era. It won’t feel like it for another few years, as the Russian strongman ascends to the nation’s Presidency again and bestrides the international stage. But when future historians come to examine post-Putin Russia, the end of 2011 will be seen

Sarko’s renaissance

When David Cameron sits down for lunch with Nicolas Sarkozy today, he is bound to ask his host how the presidential election is going. In response, President Sarkozy is likely to break into one his wide-faced smiles, and begin moving about energetically, as he tends to do when he is excited. Forget the polls that

Iran lashes out

The pressure is piling up on Iran – from below, as people demand greater freedoms; from the region, where Iran is about to lose its one ally, Syria, to a popular revolt; and from the international community, which is tightening the economic sanctions in response to Tehran’s illegal nuclear programme. So Iran is hitting out

Meanwhile, in Europe…

There probably hasn’t been a meeting of European finance ministers as important as the one tonight. The euro is still at risk; with new governments in Spain, Italy, and Greece incapable of calming the markets, and Angela Merkel unwilling to let the ECB act. In a speech in Berlin, Polish foreign minister Radek Sikorski put