Archive for August, 2011

31/08/2011

‘The Morning After Qaddafi’

Human Wrongs WatchTRANSCEND 

By Richard Falk*

There is so much spin surrounding the Transitional National Council victory in Libya that it is difficult to interpret the outcome, and perhaps premature to do so at this point considering that the fighting continues and the African Union has withheld diplomatic recognition on principled grounds.

Image: James (Jim) Gordon | Wikimedia Commons

Almost everything about the future of Libya has been left unresolved, beyond the victory of the rebel forces as massively assisted by NATO air strikes as well as a variety of forms of covert assistance given to the anti-regime Libyans on the battlefield.

Of course, in the foreground is the overthrow of a hated and abusive dictator who seemed more the outgrowth of the surrealist imagination than a normal political leader who managed to rule his country for more than 42 years, and raised the material standards of the Libyan people beyond that of other societies in the region.

It does seem that the great majority of the Libyan people shared with others in the region a thirst for political freedom. The initial uprising seems definitely inspired by the Arab Spring.

But unlike the other populist challenges to authoritarian Arab states, in Libya the anti-regime forces abandoned nonviolent tactics at early stage and became an armed uprising.

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30/08/2011

South Sudan: Yet Another Kitchen-Garden?

Human Wrongs Watch

By Baher Kamal

That was expected; nevertheless, the announcement that agricultural development will be among the top cooperation priorities between Israel and South Sudan has raised fresh, deep fears in Cairo and Khartoum that intensive farming techniques and dams construction will end up depriving Sudan and Egypt from a vital portion of their Nile water sharing already scarce quotas.

image: Bertramz | Wikimedia Commons

During the first official visit to Juba after South Sudan’s independence on July 9th, an Israeli delegation chaired by the Knesset deputy speaker Danny Danon met with South Sudan’s minister of Presidential Affairs and Foreign Minister in charge Deng Alor, who confirmed on August 29th the soon exchange of ambassadors between the two countries.

South Sudan’s high official said that cooperation between his country and Israel will comprise agricultural development, as well oil, mining, roads, and bridges. The Israeli delegation, which also met South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir, said that Israel will cooperate with South Sudan in the areas of agriculture, science and technology.

Reacting to South Sudan’s decision to established diplomatic ties with Israel, Rabii Abdul Atti, of Sudanese ruling National Congress Party, warned on August 29th that such a decision constitutes a “threat to the Arabs and the entire region.”

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29/08/2011

Libya: What Will Happen? (After NATO’s Victory Ceremony)

Human Wrongs Watch – TRASCEND

By Johan Galtung*

At the time of writing what BBC and NATO call the Final Chapter is being written in the Libya-Gaddafi tragedy. Like the final chapter for Yugoslavia-Milosevic, for Afghanistan-Omar, for Iraq-Saddam, for War on Terror-bin Laden; get The Bad One.

G8 leaders and some "guests" like Algerian president, at their summit in France | Source: http://www.kremlin.ru

We do not know how this “final chapter” will read, but, will use past experience as a guide to the chapters beyond. This is a trivial but quite useful approach. As somebody said, who does not learn from history will relive it, first time as a tragedy, then as a farce.

After destroying Gaddafi symbols there will be a ceremony celebrating NATO victory–all know who brought down Gaddafi.

So vulgar as to fill an aircraft carrier with heads of government and state–a Sarkozy, a Cameron, a Stoltenberg, a Berlusconi, key bombardiers-in-chief–declaring Mission Accomplished, and lining up for oil contracts promised, like Bankrupt Big Brother, BBB? Hardly.

There will be some European style to the ceremony. They may even drop that part and go straight to the routine conference, like Petersberg I for Afghanistan–drafting a constitution, setting dates for free elections and–if captured alive, the West’s International Criminal Court routine for Gaddafi.

Before that there will be massive burning of Libyan uniforms and “loyalists” dressing up in everyday garb preparing for the long haul.

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28/08/2011

Somalia? Which Somalia? Some Facts About Everybody’s — Nobody’s Land

Human Wrongs Watch 

By Baher Kamal

To begin with, Somalia is situated in the so-called Horn of Africa, bordering with Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and the Indian Ocean. Its territory covers over 637,000 kilometres, hosting around 10 million inhabitants who speak Somali, Arabic, Italian and English, and are mostly Muslim Sunnis.

Somalia’s main ethnic groups are Somali (some 85%), Bantu and other non-Somali (15%) including slightly over 300,000 Arabs. Nevertheless, Somalia is a member of the League of Arab States.

Its income per capita is around 600 US dollars, and its major natural resources are uranium and quasi-unexploited reserves of iron ore, bauxite, copper, tin, salt, natural gas and non-quantified oil reserves. Foreign fishing floats largely benefit from its fish-rich waters and contiguous international waters.

But this is not enough. This is data, figures, however important.

Oil Blocs in Puntland – Image: Ingoman | Wikimedia Commons

How Many Somalia Are There?

The fact is that Somalia was historically made of different tribes living in different areas that used to include large areas but now remain outside the country.

The big European colonial powers decided to take bits and pieces of it, splitting it in the following five different Somalia:

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28/08/2011

Life Ends in Somalia

Human Wrongs Watch

Somalia is one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, the UN alerted over a year and a half ago. Now the UN calls on the world to save some 390,000 starving children in famine-ravaged regions. However, those who could really help—the rich, industrialised and oil exporting countries, apparently are now too busy with the ‘promising’ Libyan business.

Somali refugees at the world's largest refugee complex at Dadaab, Kenya | Image: UN

The statistics can be mind-numbing, but remember that the data is sons and daughters. The statistics are little boys and little girls, every one of them,” said Anthony Lake, executive director of UN Children’s Fund, adding that the situation in Somalia was a “human disaster becoming a human catastrophe.”

In addition to the tens of thousands of Somalis who have already died as a result of the drought-induced famine, which has been exacerbated by conflict and poverty, an estimated 390,000 children are suffering from malnutrition. Four fifths of them are in the worst affected areas of the country’s south-central zone,” the UN high official stressed.

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27/08/2011

Obama’s ‘Peace’ Legacy — Drones, Death Squads, And Destruction Everywhere

Human Wrongs Watch

By Thomas H. Naylor*/Counterpunch

Could it be that when Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama leaves office that the defining image of his presidency will have been his use of unmanned drone aircraft and military death squads to achieve the will of the Empire?

Hardly a week goes by in which we do not learn of the deaths of innocent civilians in Afghanistan or Pakistan resulting from attacks by U.S. drones. Attack drones have also been deployed in Libya, Somalia, and Yemen.

Predator drone firing Hellfire missile | Wikimedia Commons

This form of pilotless aircraft can be used to inflict death and destruction anywhere in the world. Drones are controlled by well-trained, high-tech, gutless assassins seated in air conditioned comfort in front of sophisticated instrument panels thousands of miles away from their intended targets.

The beauty of desktop, drone warfare is that it is neat, clean, precise, risk-free, sanitized, and bloodless and can be waged by those who have never set foot on a battlefield or smelled the stench of death. It’s almost like playing a video game.

The Pentagon recently ordered 55 Global Hawk drones for a cool $23 billion. There is even talk of converting the Burlington International Airport in Vermont into a drone base.

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26/08/2011

That Big Business Called Libya!

Human Wrongs Watch

It looks like the more telling news on Libya has migrated to the business pages. With jubilant reporting of Gaddafi’s imminent downfall seizing headlines, it’s the financial pages that have the clinical analysis.”

Rachel Shabi, a British journalist specialising in the Middle East, could not express best the general feeling –and conviction– dominating both Western and Arab media and political analysts since NATO-backed Libyan revolutionaries entered Tripoli.

Libyan (oil) bottle is full | Image: Glasbruch2007

In her analysis on Al Jazeera*, she explains “So, for instance, it is in this section that the Independent reports a “dash for profit in the post-war Libya carve up”. 

Similarly, Reuters, under the headline “Investors eye promise, pitfalls in post-Gaddafi Libya” noted that a new government in that country could “herald a bonanza for Western companies and investors”, says Shabi.

Eyeing Their Rewarding Intervention

And continues “Before Tripoli has completely fallen, before Gaddafi and his supporters have stepped down and before the blood dries on the bodies that have yet to be counted, Western powers are already eyeing up what they view us just rewards for the intervention.”

There are no more illusions over how far NATO forces exceeded the UN security resolution that mandated its campaign,” Shabi adds, “For months, NATO officials insisted it was operating within brief – an air campaign, designed to protect civilians under threat of attack.”

But now it is described as an “open secret” that NATO countries were operating undercover, on the ground”, Shabi, the author of the award-winning book ‘Not the Enemy – Israel’s Jews from Arab Lands’, wrote on August 26th.

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24/08/2011

Who Will Replace The Libyan ‘Mad Dog’?

Human Wrongs Watch / International Socialist*

The reign of Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi seems to be coming to an end after anti-government fighters backed by NATO forces took control of Tripoli.

Image: Himasaram | Wikimedia Commons

Hatred of the dictatorship and a thirst for democracy and freedom drove the uprising against Qaddafi when it first arose in February, clearly inspired by the revolutions against tyrants in Tunisia to Libya’s west, and Egypt to its east.

But the character of Libya’s uprising has been twisted and transformed in the months since. The rebel forces that took over Tripoli operated in collaboration with U.S.-led NATO military forces that have no interest at all in Libyans’ desire for freedom.

Last March, the United Nations sanctioned a U.S.-led air campaign in Libya, with the justification that this was the only way to stop Qaddafi’s military from committing a massacre against the uprising.

The Western Reshape Libyan Opposition

But the air war continued and escalated. Meanwhile, Western governments were reshaping the anti-Qaddafi opposition to fit their needs–like ensuring the flow of oil from Libya for one, and even more importantly, creating a reliably pro-Western barrier against the tide of revolution that has swept through the region.

To do this, the U.S. and its European allies backed the most conservative elements among those who claimed to lead the struggle against Qaddafi. A few were already on the CIA payroll–others were former officials of the Qaddafi regime who decided to switch sides.

The new government that will form in place of the Qaddafi regime will be led by these elements. It will be beholden to the U.S. and Europe for its existence–and pliable to their interests.

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24/08/2011

Libya: ‘Market Lords’ Rush In

Human Wrongs Watch

By Osman Sharif in Casablanca

Propelled by oil, ‘reconstruction’ and weapons private corporations, while besieged by a deep financial crisis, European and U.S. governments have already launched a frantic race to take over Libya even before the definite fall of dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

ENI Oil platform | Image: Cipiota

In fact, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has confirmed on August 24th earlier reports that negotiations had started to unfreeze some 100 billion dollars of Gaddafi’s assets in overseas banks, even before his definite fall.

This decision has no precedents, since Europe and the U.S. continue to hold in their banks and territories huge assets belonging to the already ousted Tunisian and Egyptian ousted dictators, just to mention two examples in the region.

In another step to ensure their active role in shaping the new state to be born after Gaddafi, EU and NATO officials had announced that they were preparing to help organise elections, fund Libyan media, set up a court system, and design sound economic policies for growth, development and jobs.

“This is a rich country,” said EU top foreign policy official Catherine Ashton in a statement in Brussels on August. 23rd. “The question is how to get the economy moving again quickly.” The question is instead: which economy?

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21/08/2011

India’s ‘New Gandhi’ And The Power Of Mass Movements Against Neo-Liberalism

Human Wrongs Watch

By Amaresh Misra*


Credit: anna-hazares.blogspot.com

Till a chubby, fragile, ageing Gandhian Anna Hazare reminded India the power of mass movements, several myths about political action had built up, especially since the beginning of the liberalisation era in the early 1990s. 

The media today would like to see itself as the harbinger of the revival of the Indian street. But this same media, over the past two decades was painting an entirely different picture.

Time and again commentators and columnists used to remind us that since economic liberalisation pumped in capital in the Indian market and society, the era of mass protests and people oriented politics is over.

We were told with repeated emphasis that what politics needs is deft management and gloss, not the dust and heat of streets, alleys and villages.

The organizing skills of an advertiser, the smooth English of party spokespersons, the economist’s approach towards political issues, the administrative approach towards people’s issues, the technocratic juggling of numbers, the bureaucratic interpretation of constitutional issues was considered more important than a direct feedback from people and their socio-economic life.

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