The destruction of Syrian chemical weapons (CW) has started. In a breakthrough moment in Iran-US relations, the two Presidents talked on the phone and the foreign ministers sat down to discuss Iran's nuclear programme. Though the connection has received little comment in the western news media, these two welcome developments are deeply linked and close to inter-dependent.
Miss New York was born in America, in 1989. Being an 'Indian-American' wasn't adequately 'American'. To begin with, she wasn't even a favorite 'dark horse'. In fact, her 'classical Bollywood fusion dance' was being scowled upon. There were reports on some websites discussing how terribly wrong was her decision to dance to a Bollywood song at the talent show.
What dictators in that region can't fathom is how a democracy works. How President Obama could back down on the use of force because the American people and their congressional representatives didn't want another Middle East war. Such populist power is unknown in Arab countries. Yet it would be a big mistake to hold the view the US has chickened -out of the fray.
I used to argue that it would make a welcome change if - just occasionally - politicians answered a question with the words: "I don't know." I didn't expect the President of the United States to take me seriously. Should the US launch a military strike against Syria? Obama: Don't know. Is Russia serious in its chemical weapons initiative? Don't know. There's a part of me that welcomes such refreshing candour. But to be honest, it's only a very small part of me.
If the US attacks Syria on its own, it won't be the first time in a solo operation after a British rejection. UK politicians have short memories when trumpeting the Special Relationship. Some may recall Bill Clinton's first foreign trip as President was to the UK to seek support for operations to end the bloodbath in Bosnia after four years of carnage and NATO/UN fence sitting.
Feeling quite nostalgic? Feel like we have been here before? You should. In the past few days, a divided US Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved an authorization of a military intervention against the Syrian government, creating a mixture of showdowns as exciting as the new series of the X Factor.
Last night's remarkable scenes at Westminster will make precious little difference to the people of Syria. Cruise missiles will still fall on some carefully selected military sites in the coming days - the only difference will be that none of them will be British. The key question remains what it was before David Cameron's dramatic defeat in the House of Commons: what is the best policy to adopt in the light of the ever-increasing horror of the war in Syria?
The feasibility of intervention was greater two years ago. I know that there is little public appetite for it in the west but inaction has empowered the radical jihadists. This has made it harder to achieve either a political settlement or a pluralist Syria which would protect the rights of minorities such as the Kurds, the Christians and the Alawites.
The agenda, ideology, and political orientation of the Egyptian military are often misunderstood - both inside and outside Egypt. The Egyptian military has always been recognized as the foundation of the modern Egyptian state, and though all Egyptians males are required to serve, few understand the leadership and what makes it tick.