Archive for April 29th, 2013

29/04/2013

Imperial Hungover? UK ‘Shadow Military’ May Return to Gulf Over Instability Fears

Human Wrongs Watch

By Russia Today*, 29 April 2013 — The UK army is planning to build up a strong “shadow presence” in the Gulf, marking a return to the seat of its old imperial power, a UK think tank said. The Arab Spring and security fears over a nuclear Iran are among the reasons for the move.

**RFA Cardigan Bay leads the minehunters HMS Ramsey, HMS Shoreham and HMS Quorn and Type 45 Destroyer HMS Diamond during exercises in the Middle East, August 2012. |  LA(Phot) Gary Weatherston | http://www.defenceimagery.mod.uk/fotoweb/Grid.fwx?archiveId=5042&search=(IPTC005%20contains(FK120102005)) filename 45154692.jpg object name FK120102005 | © Crown Copyright 2012

**RFA Cardigan Bay leads the minehunters HMS Ramsey, HMS Shoreham and HMS Quorn and Type 45 Destroyer HMS Diamond during exercises in the Middle East, August 2012. | LA(Phot) Gary Weatherston | © Crown Copyright 2012

The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) published a report titled ‘A Return to East of Suez? UK Military Deployment to the Gulf’ on Monday morning, analyzing a shift in UK policy that is driven by a “fear of what is happening in the Middle East.”

The return of the British military would reverse a decades-old decision that allowed the Gulf States to become independent: “The military intends to build up a strong shadow presence around the Gulf; not an evident imperial-style footprint, but a smart presence with facilities, defense agreements, rotation of training, transit and jumping-off points,” the report said.

The British withdrew troops from the Gulf region following the East of Suez decision in 1971; the drawdown of Britain’s imperial military influence allowed many Gulf nations to declare their independence.

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29/04/2013

The Free Market Fundamentalists Are Now in Europe

Human Wrongs Watch

By Roberto Savio*

Rome, April 2013 (IPS) – For a long time it was a given that while Europe was based on defending a more just society, with social values and solidarity, the United States was based on the glory of individualism and competition, and anything public was considered “socialist”.

**The European Central Bank in Frankfurt governs the monetary policy | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/maveric2003/ - Eric Chan | Wikimedia Commons

**The European Central Bank in Frankfurt governs the monetary policy | Eric Chan

One of the main accusations of the last electoral campaign in the U.S. was that Barack Obama had an unspoken design to transform the U.S. into another Europe, beginning with healthcare reform.

Well, it’s time for an update – the defenders of market fundamentalism are now in Europe.

At the last meeting of Ministers of Finance on Apr. 9, the freshly-appointed U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew tried to convince Europeans to lessen their commitment to austerity as the best medicine for economic problems.

The U.S. Treasury, together with the U.S. Federal Reserve, has launched a policy of economic stimulus, with concrete success. Every month, the Federal Reserve alone is putting 80 billion dollars into the bond market. Incidentally, Japan is doing the same, on an even greater scale.

Lew was met with a firm rejection: the best way to achieve growth in the long term (contrary to any evidence) is to cut deficits and reassure the markets, even at the cost of higher unemployment and social misery in the short term.

Europe’s most powerful minister, Germany’s Wolfgang Schauble, said: “Nobody in Europe sees this contradiction between fiscal consolidation and growth. We must stop this debate, which says that you have to choose between austerity and growth.”

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29/04/2013

Richest Countries' Aid to Poorest Nations Slips Further – OECD

Human Wrongs Watch

Development aid fell by 4% in real terms in 2012, following a 2% fall in 2011, according to a recent OECD report*, adding that the continuing financial crisis and euro zone turmoil has led several governments to tighten their budgets, which has had a direct impact on development aid.

Fall in development aid continues | OECD

Fall in development aid continues | OECD

There is also a noticeable shift in aid allocations away from the poorest countries and towards middle-income countries.  However, on the basis of the DAC Survey on Donors’ Forward Spending Plans, a moderate recovery in aid levels is expected in 2013,” says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which groups the 34 most industrialised countries.

OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría expressed concern over this trend.

“It is worrying that budgetary duress in our member countries has led to a second successive fall in total aid, but I take heart from the fact that, in spite of the crisis, nine countries still managed to increase their aid.  As we approach the 2015 deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goals, I hope that the trend in aid away from the poorest countries will be reversed.  This is essential if aid is to play its part in helping achieve the Goals.”

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29/04/2013

Egypt: Walking The IMF Tight Rope

Human Wrongs Watch

 By James Maxwell, Think Africa Press* — The IMF’s proposed $4.8 billion loan could be crucial for restoring Egypt’s faltering economy. But implementing the IMF’s conditions would be socially and politically costly.

**President Morsi is facing a tricky situation in Egypt. Will he bow to IMF pressure and liberalise? Photograph by Gigi Ibrahim. | Source: Think Africa Press.

**President Morsi is facing a tricky situation in Egypt. Will he bow to IMF pressure and liberalise? Photograph by Gigi Ibrahim. | Source: Think Africa Press.

In January 1977, a series of riots broke out across Egypt in response to the decision of then president Anwar Sadat to abolish government subsidies for bread and other basic foodstuffs.

The riots lasted just two days, but during that time nearly 80 people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes with police and security forces.

In this instance, Sadat, already a committed economic liberaliser, was acting under pressure from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF), from whom Egypt had recently received substantial loans to help deal with its deepening debt crisis.

Today, 36 years later, the conditions for a similar confrontation seem to be brewing in Egypt again.

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