Nation & World briefly
Gadhafi’s death ends the era of rule by charismatic Arab strongmen
CAIRO (AP) – He often looked like a comical buffoon, standing before audiences, bedecked in colorful robes, spouting words that most of the world considered nonsense.
Yet the death of Moammar Gadhafi was a milestone in modern Arab history, in some ways more significant than the overthrow of lesser autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.
Gadhafi was the last of the old-style Arab strongmen – the charismatic, nationalist revolutionaries who rose to power in the 1950s and 1960s, promising to liberate the masses from the shackles of European colonialism and the stultifying rule of the Arab elite that the foreigners left behind after World War II.
He was swept aside by a new brand of revolutionary – the leaderless crowds organized by social media, fed up with the oppressive past, keenly aware that the rest of the world has left them behind and convinced that they can build a better society even if at the moment, they aren’t sure how.
Gadhafi was the last of a generation of Arab leaders such as Gamal Abdel-Nasser of Egypt, Hafez Assad of Syria and Saddam Hussein of Iraq who emerged from poverty, rising to the pinnacle of power either through the ranks of the military or the disciplined, conspiratorial world of underground political organizations.
Surprising stats show war, violence worldwide is down over centuries
WASHINGTON (AP) – It seems as if violence is everywhere, but it’s really on the run.
Yes, thousands of people have died in bloody unrest from Africa to Pakistan, while terrorists plot bombings and kidnappings. Wars drag on in Iraq and Afghanistan. In peaceful Norway, a man massacred 69 youths in July. In Mexico, headless bodies turn up, victims of drug cartels. This month eight people died in a shooting in a California hair salon.
Yet, historically, we’ve never had it this peaceful.
That’s the thesis of three new books, including one by prominent Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker. Statistics reveal dramatic reductions in war deaths, family violence, racism, rape, murder and all sorts of mayhem.
In his book, Pinker writes: “The decline of violence may be the most significant and least appreciated development in the history of our species.”
Libya’s new leaders to declare liberation Sunday amid questions over Gadhafi’s killing
TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) – Libya’s new leaders will declare liberation on Sunday, officials said, a move that will start the clock for elections after months of bloodshed that culminated in the death of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
But the victory has been clouded by questions over how Gadhafi was killed after images emerged showing he was found alive and taunted and beaten by his captors.
The long-awaited declaration of liberation will come more than two months after revolutionary forces swept into Tripoli and seized control of most of the oil-rich North African nation. It was stalled by fierce resistance by Gadhafi loyalists in his hometown of Sirte, Bani Walid and pockets in the south.
Sirte was the last to fall, but Gadhafi’s son and one-time heir apparent and many of his fighters have apparently escaped, raising fears they could continue to stir up trouble.
With Gadhafi gone, however, the governing National Transitional Council was moving forward with efforts to transform the country that was ruled by one man for more than four decades into a democracy.
Death of Saudi crown prince puts succession spotlight on critic of reforms
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Saudi Arabia’s ruling monarchy moved into a critical period of realignment Saturday after the death of the heir to the throne opened the way for a new crown prince: most likely a tough-talking interior minister who has led crackdowns on Islamic militants but also has shown favor to ultraconservative traditions such as keeping the ban on women voting.
A state funeral is planned for Tuesday in Riyadh for crown prince Sultan bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, who died in New York at the age of 80 after an unspecified illness, the official Saudi Press Agency said.
Now, Saudi rulers are expected to move quickly to name the new king-in-waiting – which royal protocol suggests will be Sultan’s half brother, Prince Nayef.
Moving Nayef to the top of the succession ladder would not likely pose any risks to Saudi Arabia’s pro-Western policies and, in particular, its close alliance with Washington. But Nayef cuts a much more mercurial figure than Saudi’s current leader, the ailing King Abdullah, who has nudged ahead with reforms such as promising women voting rights in 2015 despite rumblings from the country’s powerful religious establishment.
Nayef, 78, has earned U.S. praise for unleashing the internal security forces against suspected Islamic extremist cells in Saudi Arabia, which was home to 15 of 19 of the Sept. 11 hijackers. Yet he brought blistering rebukes in the West for a 2002 interview that quoted him as saying that “Zionists” – a reference to Jews – benefited from the 9-11 attacks because it turned world opinion against Islam and Arabs.
Bank lobbying head says banks, eurozone nowhere near deal to cut Greek debt
BRUSSELS (AP) – A top bank lobbyist insisted Saturday that banks and the eurozone are far from reaching a deal to cut Greece’s debt, despite claims by eurozone finance ministers that they will ask banks to take steeper losses on their Greek bonds.
Although the ministers did not say how much of a cut they are aiming for, a report from Greece’s international debt inspectors suggested that the value of Greece’s bonds may have to be slashed as much as 60 percent to get the country solvent enough to repay its debt.
The ministers on Saturday sent their chief negotiator, Vittorio Grilli, to re-start discussions with banks and other private investors on a new deal for Greece.
However, Charles Dallara, the managing director of the Institute of International Finance, who has been leading the negotiations for the banks, said in an interview with The Associated Press that an agreement remained elusive.
“We’re nowhere near a deal,” he said.