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Anti-terror irony

What happens when the Americans and their NATO partners leave Afghanistan? That was the theme at the 'anti-terrorism' conference in Tehran with 'Messers Ahmedinijad, Karzai and Zardari sharing the stage with Talabani of Iraq and Rahomon of Tajikistan' to discuss what would happen 'when the West ends its adventure in the graveyard of empires,' writes Robert Fisk.

The conference was full of ironies. Iran, accused by the Americans of having a hand in killing their troops in Iraq, is 'none too keen on the terrorists of the Taliban' 'at the very moment when the Americans are keen to talk to the very same Taliban so that they can high-tail it out of Afghanistan.'

Karzai, who spoke all of four minutes, was keen on Iran reconstructing his country, which was what the 'Americans, the Brits and everyone else who loved democracy were keen to do' after defeating the Taliban. And Zardari? He was 'anxious to talk to the Iranians and the Afghans about Pakistan's future role' despite supporting the 'black Taliban', which is on Iran's hit list.

A Greek tragedy

'The essence of ancient Greek tragedy is that the audience knows it will end in disaster, but feels compelled to watch the horror unfold,' writes Jeff Randall, describing the current sovereign debt crisis that Greece is facing as a tragedy of 'Sophoclean dimensions'.

Greece is borrowing enormous sums to service existing debts and Randall writes, 'As Sophocles reminds us, when divine and human purposes conflict, the gods will always prevail. In this case, Athena, the deity of endeavour and reason, is deeply offended by Olympian self-indulgence. The upshot will not be a miraculous economic recovery, but a spectacular flame-out.'

Change in Saudi Arabia

The driving protest by Saudi women may have been a far cry from the other demonstrations held in the Arab Spring but it does signal a change in the country, writes Isobel Coleman. The protest was limited with 'only a few dozen women' getting behind the wheel, roughly the same number 'as during the last protest 20 years ago'. The government, Ostrich-like maintains that women's rights are not 'a big deal' for most Saudis.

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