Friday, September 30, 2005

A very consistent policy

A bit too late:

Zimbabwe's central bank chief has called for a halt to farm invasions, calling those who try to seize land "criminals", a newspaper reported on Friday.

"The invasions are totally unacceptable and should be stopped forthwith by whoever is doing it," Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono told the privately-owned weekly Zimbabwe Independent.
"Those invading farms are now criminals," he said.

Not all agree:

State Security and Lands Reform Minister Didymus Mutasa has also said that land reform would continue until all farms had been acquired by the state.

"Naturally we are going to acquire all land in Zimbabwe, make no mistake about that.

One US dollar today is worth 75.000 Zimbabwe dollars.


IAEA membership

Cuba, Syria and Belarus joined the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board Thursday.

Gulf news

It has long been suspected that the Gulf States have been paying “protection” to al Qaeda. How else in fact can one explain that the UAE – among the most modern and developed of the Arab states - have hardly been hit by terrorism?

However, they must have come to the conclusion that this situation cannot continue indefinitely and have decided to take action:

A major policy centre in the UAE has called for a collective Arab effort to destroy the Al Qaida terror network, believed to be the key force behind the continuous bloody attacks in Iraq.
Despite the various differences among regional states with regard to the Iraqi issue, "an agreement should be made to defeat Al Qaida", the Emirates Centre of Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR) urged in its weekly newsletter, issued yesterday.

"If Al Qaida has directed its terror towards the United States and Iraq then other countries in the region are bound to be its next targets," the ECSSR warned.


Thursday, September 29, 2005

Newsweek doing Al Jazeera’s work

For in its conclusion, Newsweek relied on al Qaida’s statement on Abu Azzam! By translating what the organization posted on the group’s Web site, the article echoed that “Abu Azzam al-Iraqi was a soldier” in the Iraqi Al Qaeda organization. It quoted “them” ridiculing allegations by U.S. officials that Abu Azzam was the “second man” in Iraqi Al Qaeda. Citing the SITE Institute’s translation Newsweek quoted the Terrorists stating that the US “should stop saying that because it will not do any good.” A minimal understanding of the propaganda machine of the Jihadists would have realized that “they” don’t want to give any psychological victory to the infidels. From at least a significant leader in the structure, his companions reduced him to a “simple soldier among others.” Just to deny Iraqis and Coalition any political victory.

Understanding the mind of the Jihadis is crucial in the analysis of the War on Terror. As with the “flushing” affair few months ago, it is advisable to keep the big picture around when one is zooming on a point to be scored.

Either they never learn, or they are “the enemy within”.


Algeria’s silent coup

Bouteflika, winner of the WWCC (world worst comb-over competition), is trying to fool people with his “Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation”.

The referendum called by Algeria’s President, instead of smoothing the way for national reconciliation, is the equivalent of an institutional coup. Without the knowledge of the voting public (only the title of the charter will be shown to voters), a yes vote would in fact give Bouteflika dictatorial powers, sidestepping Parliament and Constitutional Court, to rule by decree and curtail all liberties by claiming that this charter is a people's mandate. Once Parliament has been by-passed, he could do as he pleases, including extending his mandate indefinitely.

Furthermore the Charter, under the pretext of the proposed amnesty, aims at sweeping under the carpet the atrocities and excesses committed by state agents during the civil war and preventing other crimes from being investigated.

Links: Daily Star, Il Foglio, Adnki


Khamenei dead?

There are rumors that Khamenei is dead. Apart from the good news, it would be interesting to see the developments in Iran.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Kissing Arafat for nothing

An Algerian Islamist organisation, the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), has issued a call for action against France, which it describes as "enemy No 1", intelligence officials said on Tuesday.
"The only way to teach France to behave is jihad and the Islamic martyr," said the group's leader, Abu Mossab Abdelwadoud, also known as Abdelmalek Dourkdal, in an internet message earlier this month.

According to police reports, the suspects were considering attacks on the Paris metro system and an airport but had not reached the point of selecting a final target.

Remember that stupid journalist that kept asking Blair to admit that the 7/7 London bombings where linked to UK’s involvement in Iraq? If you see him, please tell him not to ask the same question to Sarkozy at the next press briefing in Paris.

For a good analysis of Islamic extremism in France, see Glen Feder’s “The Muslim Brotherhood in France”.

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How to make a buck

THE Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) has set up a fund to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina that ravaged the United States city of New Orleans at the end of August and the beginning of this month.

Speaking at a Press conference last week, ZNLWVA vice-chairman Cde Joseph Chinotimba who is chairing the fund, said they were touched by the plight of poor Americans, mostly African-Americans who were abandoned by US President George Bush's administration during and after the devastating hurricane.

Do you really want me to comment on this?


Anti-war, my foot

Christopher Hitchens at his best:

It is really a disgrace that the liberal press refers to such enemies of liberalism as "antiwar" when in reality they are straight-out pro-war, but on the other side. Was there a single placard saying, "No to Jihad"? Of course not. Or a single placard saying, "Yes to Kurdish self-determination" or "We support Afghan women's struggle"? Don't make me laugh.

This has been going on for so long that by now we should know very well who organizes and pays the idiots willing to be used to promote extremists’ agendas.

How nice to have a "peace" movement that is either openly on the side of the vermin, or neutral as between them and the cleanup crew, and how delightful to have a press that refers to this partisanship, or this neutrality, as "progressive."

Can something be done, please?


Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Syria looking for help

In a previous post I suggested the possibility that the recent attempted murder of May Chidiac, the Lebanese anchorwoman of LBC, was not the work of Assad’s goons but of an internal faction of hard-liners opposed to his tentative reforms or alleged concessions to the West.

With Assad unexpected visit to Cairo last Sunday though, the plot thickens: is he asking for support to avoid political responsibility in the Hariri probe? Is he looking for a mediator, wanting to pull a “qaddafi” through an Arab middle-man to save face? Is he asking for Egyptian collaboration, to rein in Palestinian terrorists operating from Syria? Is he seeking help against his internal enemies?

I guess we’ll know soon enough.

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Treacherous liar

The IAEA resolution has given Iran one last chance to build confidence by stopping all its nuclear activities and allowing even more access to UN inspectors.

Iran is now threatening to do the exact opposite of what it has been asked.

Their threats should be ignored; Iran has more to lose than it likes to admit. Every threat from Teheran should be met by more pressing demands.

In a meeting with the Islamic regime's assembly today, Ahmadinejad, once again stressed the importance of continuing with the regime's nuclear activities.

The Pot Calling The Kettle Black:

He added, commenting on the EU3's stance: "The 3 European countries who are being manipulated from behind the scenes by their allies, are racists and are looking to take the world back to the dark ages. They themselves are nuked up to the teeth and are piling security threats against those whose own security is in danger."

Conveniently forgetting that he represents one of the most horrible, repressive and aggressive regimes in the world.

Ahmadinejad who called his speech at the General Assembly "historic" continued: "Our vision for world order is based on a new concept of God-worshiping, justice and addressing the sinful human nature; our vision was met with enthusiasm at the United Nations."

Oh yeah? It doesn’t look like it; in fact, the arrogant and naïve rant at the UN was the main reason the EU and US managed to refer Iran to the Security Council.

"It is clear to us that Ahmadinejad's speech at the United Nations last weekend backfired," R. Nicholas Burns, the under secretary of state for political affairs, said in a briefing for reporters on Saturday. "It was seen as excessively harsh and uncompromising, and caught the attention of the international community.

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If you have read my previous posts on Melilla (here and here), you know all about it.

Today, hundreds of immigrants have tried to break through before the works to double the height of the fence to 6 mts. are finished; many were injured by the police.

Miguel Moratinos, Zapatero’s Foreign Minister, during his visit to the Middle East, has reiterated his government request to Israel to suspend the construction of the wall/fence that protects the country from terror attacks, saying that such a barrier hinders communication between peoples and it is an unacceptable symbol of separation.

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Mugabe prepares for war

Mugabe must have received a refresher course on socialist rhetoric during his recent trip to Cuba. He is now waving the flag of foreign invasion in the hope of keeping Zimbabweans cowed.

Of course nobody falls for this rubbish anymore and it makes one wonder if Mugabe still has his wits about him or has completely lost it:

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has called for vigilance by the country's armed forces against what he termed a "vicious imperialist onslaught" by Britain and the United States, the state-run Herald newspaper said Monday.

His praise of the Army, certainly uncalled for after the DRC disaster, could hint at preoccupations within Zanu PF that even the pampered Zimbabwean forces are getting tired of corruption and incompetence. Mugabe knows that if the Army becomes sympathetic to the MDC cause, he is finished.

"I want to commend members of our security forces for the tireless, unwavering and dedicated contribution...," Mugabe said.

And finally, another example of Zanu PF professionalism: their new web site.


Schroeder the little Caesar

An outright victory of Angela Merkel would have given a boost to the Polish right before the elections in Poland: a vibrant German economy is in everybody’s interest and Schroeder’s cozy relationship with Putin does not please the Poles.

In fact, it could well be the other way around. Merkel will benefit from the political shift in Poland as the dry “no comment” from Schroeder seem to suggest.

His rigid initial stance prompted growing criticism in the German media -- he even was compared to a modern-day megalomaniac Roman emperor.

Before he damages himself and the party he will have to give way in the fight for the Chancellor seat.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

A million little pieces

In a very good op/ed on Saturday’s NYT (surprise!), Nader Mousavizadeh, who worked with Kofi Annan from 1997 to 2003, proposes a concrete and feasible solution to the inevitable dissolution of the discredited United Nations:

The title seem to refer – appropriately - to James Frey's memoir, that opens with the author "covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit and blood."

THE United Nations summit meeting last week should be the last of its kind. It allowed world leaders, once again, to over-promise and under-deliver on behalf of an organization that few of them genuinely wish to equip for success. With the failure of its member states to agree on meaningful reform - even after Rwanda, Bosnia, Iraq and the oil-for-food scandal - it is time for a new approach.

The central, governing structures of the United Nations - the Security Council, the General Assembly and the Secretariat - have each in their own dismal way been allowed to decay to the point where they arguably do more harm than good to the very causes they were founded to serve.

No doubt about it; we see it every day.

They should be dissolved, and their legislative responsibilities transferred to the governing bodies of the United Nations agencies that have demonstrated a capacity to deliver, decade after decade, on the world body's founding ideals - agencies like the High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Development Program and the World Food Program.

Each of the United Nations funds and programs could be reconstituted on this stand-alone model: financed by voluntary contributions; governed by a board composed of shareholders with an interest in results, and not just process; and staffed by men and women, hired on the basis of merit, who are given the resources to make a difference. Accountability, transparency - and, ultimately, success - would have a far greater chance of flowing from such a model than from the present one (emphasis mine).

This would satisfy those who insist that the UN are indispensable because of their humanitarian role and multilateral approach.

…to restore the merits of multilateral action, the United Nations must do away with its governing structures and let the agencies and programs operate independently. Working in dynamic partnership with the nongovernmental organizations, foundations and "coalitions of the willing" that increasingly are the real agents of progress in areas like global development, health, security and human rights, free-standing United Nations agencies offer the best hope of bringing the organization's founding ideals to life.

Read it all (ht Camillo).

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Syria at the end of the road

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- A bomb planted in the car of a prominent Lebanese journalist blew up Sunday, critically wounding her, the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation and Lebanese security officials said.

If this is the work of Syrian hard-liners –as it seems - then Assad has completely lost control. He would be the last, at this point in time, to wish to draw attention to himself and Syria.

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Huge anti-war protest

Iran delusions

This article by Amir Taheri on the indispensable Regime Change Iran, highlights the problems encountered by Teheran’s new administration because of Ahmadinejad inexperience and arrogance.


A nation’s foreign policy is a continuation of its domestic politics; and the Islamic Republic is no exception. While the Islamic Republic’s foreign enemies wish to force it into isolation, Ahmadinejad’s domestic foes are cheering him on his way into a diplomatic trap. Ahmadinejad seems to believe that he can take on the Western powers, led by the United States, in a limited conflict, and defeat them thus becoming a national hero and a pan-Islamic knight riding the steed of history in triumph. That is a juvenile illusion that could wreck Ahmadinejad’s presidency before it finds its cruising speed.

Excellent stuff. Read it all.

Political “aid”

Britain is to give more than £10m in aid to Zimbabweans affected by hunger and a recent shack demolition blitz, which has left hundreds of thousands homeless.

Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial ruler, has donated a total of £100m since an ongoing food crisis started in the country in 2001.

How is Britain, the WFP, UNDP &c. going to distribute food and aid if Mugabe’s regime insists on controlling it directly (to steal, bribe and punish)?

Robert Mugabe is reported to have informed United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan that he would not allow the UN to use non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to assist with food relief efforts in Zimbabwe because "these tended to politicise humanitarian assistance".

I think this is crueler than isolating the country and pushing for its collapse. Unfortunately, armed with good intentions, we keep propping up monstrous regimes by feeding the oppressed populations while the oppressors buy arms and fund their secret police thugs with the savings.

What has been said regarding the “Oil for Food” scandal, applies very well in these cases where, by extending a helping hand to the people (and not because we care, but because it is politically expedient) we allow the continuation of oppression, torture, repression, neglect, sometimes genocide:

Yet even now we are told that "at least" Oil for Food fed the Iraqi people when they were on the edge of starvation, and this is accounted a U.N. success. That is false. Oil for Food offered a lifeline of cash and influence to a regime that was starving its people.

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Global warming

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Saturday, September 24, 2005

Al Qaeda new weakly news

"The Islamic Army in Iraq announced that it has launched 10 chemical mortar shells and 45 Katyusha missiles on a base of the American forces and the 'Pagan' [National] Guard in Al-Madain. Many soldiers fled the base and anarchy took over, which is an indication of the number of casualties the enemy suffered.

"The entire Islamic world overflowed with joy when Hurricane Katrina struck in America, which seemed to reel from the strength of the hurricane and went asking for aid from all the countries of the world. Broken and completely humiliated, George Bush, a fool who is being obeyed, announced his obvious incapability to deal with the wrath of Allah that visited the city of homosexuals.

"While Louisiana is trying to recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, another hurricane fiercely struck the state of North Carolina, on the Atlantic coast, but so far there have been no casualties or significant damage, as was expected. We hope that Allah will humiliate America with this hurricane to make it a lesson for whoever wants to listen.

There are two possibilities: 1) these guys are completely retarded, or 2) they are not, but they know their audience is.

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The IMF smells something fishy

As discussed in a previous post, the origin of the US$120M repaid recently by Zimbabwe to the IMF is raising many questions at all levels:

The International Monetary Fund said on Friday it plans to verify the source of a $120 million payment by Zimbabwe to the global lender last month in a bid by the country to pay down its IMF arrears.

We could have a poll.

What is, in your opinion, the source of the USD$120M?
1) Mugabe’s Swiss account
2) A present from the ANC
3) Mugabe sold Great Zimbabwe to the Chinese
4) An illegal deal
5) Other


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Taking their own medicine

A truck filled with masked militants and homemade weapons exploded at a Hamas rally Friday, killing at least 15 Palestinians and wounding 80.

Mishandled explosives apparently caused the blast, which came a day before an agreement by militants not to publicly parade weapons is to take effect.
Hamas said six militants were killed, including Jihad Shaleal, head of the group's military wing in Jebaliya.

Hamas swiftly claimed Israeli aircraft had targeted the militants with a missile. "We will avenge the blood of our martyrs," said Nizar Rayan, a Hamas leader.
But Palestinian officials said the explosion was set off by the mishandling of explosives. The Interior Ministry issued a statement calling on Hamas "to shoulder its responsibility for these ... explosions instead of making accusations against others."

The PA reaction hints at the fact that this, and previous deadly mishaps, could be the result of infighting between Palestinian terrorists factions.

Hassan Yousef, the Hamas leader in the West Bank, said Friday's events would make Hamas reconsider its tactics, "such as military parades and things that would harm people."


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Friday, September 23, 2005

Assad doing a “Qaddafi”

In a recent post I discussed the shaky position of Assad and, perhaps optimistically, forecast the coming end of the baathist regime in Damascus. It seems I may have been right after all:

Over the past month, the government of President Bashar Assad has been inquiring about the potential for a deal, roughly equivalent to what Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi did to end tough international sanctions imposed for his country's role in the 1988 midair bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, the officials said.

"Bashar is moving toward the moment of truth, the defining moment of his presidency," said a senior European diplomat familiar with the U.N. probe. "The Mehlis report is due on October 25, and if he reports that this goes all the way to the top of Damascus, there will be a political earthquake."

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Al Sistani backs constitution

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, meeting with aides Thursday in the holy city of Najaf, urged his followers to vote "yes" on the new basic law, according to two top officials in al-Sistani's organization. The officials refused to be identified because they are not authorized to speak for the reclusive cleric.

This is indeed good news, but there’s more:

Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, is planning to issue a fatwa or religious edict ordering Shiites to approve the new draft constitution in a referendum next month…he would issue the fatwa in the next few days.

Al-Sistani's edicts encouraged many Shiites to take part in the January elections by telling them it was their religious duty to vote.
The fatwa could boost the chances of success of the 15 October referendum in which the Iraqi people are called on to approve the draft constitution.

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Bush replies to Clinton

In reply to the recent Clinton’s attack, Bush has finally decided to say what he should have told/reminded the American public and the world long ago:

"The terrorists saw our response to the hostage crisis in Iran, the bombings in the Marine barracks in Lebanon, the first World Trade Center attack, the killing of American soldiers in Somalia, the destruction of two U.S. embassies in Africa and the attack on the USS Cole," Bush noted, after getting an update on the war on terror at the Pentagon.

"The terrorists concluded that we lacked the courage and character to defend ourselves and so they attacked us," the president added, in quotes picked up by United Press International.

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Lula's demise

A great Alvaro Vargas Llosa on Brazil corruption scandal:

Lula’s capacity to reinvent the left always hinged on something more than keeping interest rates high to stem inflation, maintaining a strong currency, riding on the high prices of certain commodities, and giving cash to poor families. He could either opt for simply managing the perpetual crisis or he could try to overhaul a labyrinthine political system that benefited certain pockets of industrial and agricultural production but keeps millions of people out of the realm of opportunity. He chose the former path.

Read it all.

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Tracking Rita

The WSJ has made available (no subscription necessary) an excellent hurricane news tracker to follow Rita’s advance and Katrina’s recovery efforts.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Mugabe is reaping his harvest

The racist and suicidal regime of Robert Mugabe is very happy with the land reform it has carried out and its results for Zimbabwe:

Gono also blasted new commercial farmers who had been alloted land seized by the state from white owners, for not producing enough.
"I want to deplore our level of yields which is very low, pathetically low," Gono said.
"It is an insult to the land reform programme. It is nothing short of criminal," he said, adding that some people were using farms allocated to them as "holiday resorts or assets to show off with."

“Since 2002 our output for maize has been below national requirements with output for 2005/2006 estimated at about 750 000 tonnes,” the document read in part.
Gono’s admission is the first by a senior government official that Zimbabwe has failed to feed itself since Mugabe began his land seizures that destabilised the mainstay agricultural sector.
The RBZ chief further noted that private commercial banks were also reluctant to fund the new black farmers chiefly because they do not hold title to the land allocated to them by the government and also because they were largely considered “problematic when it comes to repayment”.
Crippling foreign currency and fuel shortages would only help worsen the plight of farmers, who already have to grapple with rising costs of scarce inputs such as fertilizer and seed, according to Gono.
Before the farm seizures, Zimbabwe was a regional breadbasket exporting food to its neighbours and beyond while its economy was one of Africa’s strongest.

Is he just pretending to be an idiot or is he really retarded? What did he expect? You use land to bribe people and prop up the regime and expect food to come out? You make the land State property according to your failed “scientific socialism” principles and hope for the banks to hand out money to the farmers?

Resorting once again to the blame game, Mugabe, having badly botched the land reform, now tells Britain to compensate the farmers:

Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said a constitutional amendment Mugabe signed August 30 that strips landowners of their right to appeal expropriation "finally settled the land question in Zimbabwe." "All title deeds of the farmers have been canceled, with the British government having sole responsibility to compensate the evicted farmers," Chinamasa told state radio.

Which of course Britain has repeatedly offered to do in exchange for an orderly, well planned and economically viable exercise. Too late now, Bob.

But barbaric racism and insatiable greed continue unabated:

Commercial Farmers Union official Ben Kaschula said Canadian coffee farm owner David Wilding-Davies and his South African manager Allan Warner had Thursday been allowed by doctors to go home after receiving treatment for injuries when they were beaten Wednesday by a mob trying to force them off a farm about 350 kilometers (200 miles) south of the capital.
The attack was the first since Didymus Mutasa, head of Mugabe's feared secret police, the Central Intelligence Organization, described remaining white farmers as "filth" and said an operation would be launched to "rid the country of remaining whites."

Today one US dollar is worth 65.000 zimbabwe dollars and the price of bread has doubled.

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Afghanistan opens to Israel

Last Tuesday Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai expressed appreciation for Israel unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and, answering a question of a Radio Free Europe reporter, said: “although it will be up to Parliament to decide, if the Israeli government recognizes a Palestinian State Afghanistan will have no problems in establishing relations with Israel.

This statement, revolutionary for Afghanistan, follows similar recent openings by other Islamic countries, the latest being Pakistan.

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Spain pulls out of Afghanistan

After Germany’s reluctance to continue cooperating in NATO’s operations in Afghanistan, Spain is withdrawing from the country:

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero announced Wednesday that all the 500 Spanish troops on humanitarian mission in Afghanistan will be brought home by Oct. 12.

Emma Bonino, former European Union Commissioner and Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan, in today’s interview with l’Unita’ was asked if the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan was or could be felt in future as “military occupation”. Her reply:

“No, I have never heard anyone talk like that. On the contrary, the general request is for us to remain at their side and increase our commitments to help them. Financially and militarily.”

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Persian games

Europe and the US are getting tired of being taken for fools but Iran continues to threaten all sorts of reprisals in case it is referred to the Security Council to face possible sanctions:

If they want to speak with Iran with the language of force, Iran will have no choice, in order to preserve its technological achievements, to get out of the framework of the NPT (Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty) and the additional protocol and resume (uranium) enrichment," Larijani told a news conference. The protocol calls for open inspections of atomic facilities.

Despite its bullish attitude, Iran must realize that North Korea for all its bluffing and playing for time, might be close to a complete collapse, avoided until now thanks to China’s support, and that, if and when it happens, Iran would be even more isolated (Syria is not much use these days).

Ahmadinejad international debut has been a very mixed bag; one had the impression that he was addressing the Iranian people more than the UN. Probably this was the case as the situation in the country is extremely tense.

There are two certainties in this impasse between Iran and the EU and US: one, that Iran wants a nuclear weapon, the civilian use is a ruse and the military are heavily involved in the project; two, that Iran will be referred to the Security Council when the time is right, and the time will be when Russia will be convinced that a nuclear Iran is not in its geopolitical interests. This could happen sooner rather than later, perhaps with a little help from the CIA: it might be embarrassing for Putin to explain to the russian people why he likes Iran so much if details of Iran involvement with al Qaeda in Chechnya or its covert cooperation with Pyongyang were to become public.

When the sanctions will kick in, Iran will have to capitulate and accept the conditions imposed by the IAEA. Hopefully, this will encourage and give new energy to the simmering revolt against the regime.

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Podcasts for news junkies

For all of you us news junkies: now we can drive to work and not miss a thing. Reuters has launched a beta service where you can listen to or download the latest stories. The computerized voice is still a bit “mechanical” but not too unpleasant (ht Scobleizer).


Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters

Everybody is posting about this and I won’t be an exception (ht Instapundit). This is the best catch phrase I’ve heard in a long time and I am sure it will be picked up and repeated very often.

Radioblogger has the transcript and original tape (mp3) of Lt. Gen. Russel Honore taking over command of a press conference from New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin who was panicking.

Read it all. Professionalism at its best.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Sorry we liberated you guys

The title of this article was too good not to copy it.

Western Christians should show "institutional repentance" - should apologise - for the Iraq war, according to a working group of Church of England bishops led by the Rt Rev Richard Harries, the Bishop of Oxford. Just to make it clear what they mean, the bishops suggest a public meeting where Christian leaders would acknowledge, in front of "mainly Muslim" leaders, the wrongs done by the West.

So that’s what Galloway has been after all this time: the Archbishopric of Canterbury!

The impression given to the Islamic world by such an act, or even its proposal, is that the bishops of England had confirmed that the war against Iraq was a Christian crusade against Muslims.

As the actress said to the bishop: stick to liturgy.

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Vote for the next Secretary General

Welcome Roger L. Simon readers! Cast your vote right here! (Thanks, Roger)

Monday, September 19, 2005

Saddam’s friends

One of the most controversial of Saddam’s apologists, Father Benjamin, defender of terrorists, favorite guest of tv talk-shows, friend of Tareq Aziz (he even invited him to the Vatican before the war), with an impressive political backing has been caught red handed.

An investigation by Claudio Gatti, published on Il Sole 24 Ore, a financial Italian daily, has discovered his Swiss bank account, where Saddam deposited US$140.000 in exchange for his “services”.

I hope other brave journalists will follow this example so that the filthy mouths of the various Galloways, Ritter & Co. will be shut once and for all (ht Liberopensiero).


After Annan

Ukraine will back Polish President Alexander Kwasniewski to succeed U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan next year, the Ukrainian foreign minister said Sunday.

Ukraine has led diplomatic resistance by Central and Eastern European nations against strong Asian demands that the next secretary-general come from that region. Kwasniewski has repeatedly been mentioned as a possible candidate.

I still think Aznar would make an excellent Secretary General.

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North Korea breakthrough?

Although hopes should not yet be raised too much, it looks like NK is desperate for a deal without loosing face and afraid of an internal collapse:

The North “committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning at an early date” to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards, according to the agreement by the six countries at the talks.

Negotiators agreed to hold more talks in November, where they were expected to move on to concrete discussions about implementing the broad principles outlined in Monday’s agreement. The main U.S. envoy, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, has warned that could still be a long process.

German paralysis

Any way you look at it the disappointing results of the elections in Germany represent the worst case scenario:

The vote heralded the end of Schroeder's seven-year tenure but left in doubt who will follow. The inconclusive results make it likely that Germany's next government would be weakened because of the narrow vote margin and difficulties in forming a coalition.

"In my perspective, the majority of the German population is still not ready to accept a real hard reform course," said Uwe Andersen , a political scientist at Ruhr University in Bochum. "And therefore the only possibility now is a grand coalition, C.D.U. and S.P.D., but it will be a very difficult situation, because I think they will have great difficulty to get a government project that is stable and that is able to answer the questions that are coming up about the future of the country," he said.

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Clinton’s short memory


Sunday, September 18, 2005

Breaking with tradition under which US presidents mute criticisms of their successors, Clinton said the Bush administration had decided to invade Iraq "virtually alone and before UN inspections were completed, with no real urgency, no evidence that there were weapons of mass destruction."


December 19, 1998

Clinton also emphasized: "So long as Saddam remains in power he will remain a threat to his people, his region and the world." The best way to end that threat, he said, "is for Iraq to have a different government."

Thursday, January 29, 1998

The State of the Union Message provided President Bill Clinton with a solemn occasion to deliver a warning about U.S. determination to destroy Iraq's missiles and biological and chemical arms and to root out the country's capability to rebuild them.

"You have used weapons of mass destruction before," Mr. Clinton asserted, drawing strong applause from the assembled Congress and audience of officials and diplomats on Tuesday night. "We are determined to deny you the capacity to use them again. "I know I speak for everyone in this chamber, Republican and Democrats, when I say to Saddam Hussein: You cannot defy the will of the world."

Oct 10, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons." Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY)

Hundreds more examples of duplicity: just google it.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Landmark elections in Afghanistan and MSM lies

Despite the violence and intimidation, afghans once again are showing the world what they are made of:

``We are making history,'' President Hamid Karzai said as he cast his ballot. ``It's the day of self-determination for the Afghan people. After 30 years of wars, interventions, occupations and misery, today Afghanistan is moving forward, making an economy, making political institutions.''

Some 12.4 million Afghans were registered to vote for the national legislature and provincial assemblies at more than 6,000 polling stations. They were guarded by some 100,000 Afghan police and soldiers and 30,000 foreign troops. ``Today is a magnificent day for Afghanistan,'' said Ali Safar, 62, standing in line to vote in Kabul. ``We want dignity, we want stability and peace. Thirty years of war and poverty is enough.''

In an effort to diminish Afghanistan democracy and promote their agendas, the Financial Times and Washington Post put words in the mouth of Emma Bonino, former European Union Commissioner and now Chief Observer of the EU Election Observation Mission to Afghanistan and misquote her for effect (ht Camillo):

EU observer attacks big flaws in Afghan poll: Afghanistan's elections on Sunday will fail to produce a sustainable democratic political culture.

Emma Bonino was one of those who condemned the U.S. intervention against the Taliban, which she said would "all but doom" millions of Afghans "to death."

Which is a lot of poppycock. The sad thing, of course, is not that they pursue their political objectives by interpreting facts from their point of view (which is absolutely legitimate), but that they are reduced to distort and manipulate the facts themselves in order to do so.

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Let them eat cake

The latest exploit of Mugabe brings to mind Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal phrase “let them eat cake”.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, said in an interview with The Associated Press that his people are "very, very happy" though aid agencies report 4 million of 11.6 million face famine.

The problem is reliance on corn, he said during Friday's interview, "but it doesn't mean we haven't other things to eat: We have heaps of potatoes but people are not potato eaters.

You might not know it, although I am sure you suspect it, but potatoes are extremely expensive in Zimbabwe.


Saturday, September 17, 2005

Not alone

Tony Blair was shocked by the BBC's coverage of Hurricane Katrina's devastation of New Orleans, describing it as “full of hatred of America”, Rupert Murdoch, chairman and chief executive of News Corporation, revealed on Friday night.


More good news from Iraq

The recent counter-insurgency operation in Talafar was important from a tactical point of view but also because it signals a strategy shift in how Coalition Forces operate and collaborate with the Iraqis’.

This Press Briefing on “Overview of Operation Restoring Rights in Tall Afar, Iraq” illustrate it very well. A number of journos ask questions about the operation to Colonel H. R. McMaster, commander of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, assigned to Multinational Forces Northwest in Iraq; they are from Reuters, CNN, Los Angeles Times, etc..

Strangely, none of this appears on their papers or broadcasts. Excerpts:

I'd like just to briefly characterize the enemy, describe who we're fighting here. This is an enemy, who when they came in, they removed all the imams from the mosques, and they replaced them with Islamic extremist laymen. They removed all the teachers from the schools and replaced them with people who had a fifth-grade education and who preached hatred and intolerance. They murdered people. In each of their cells that they have within the city has a direct action cell of about 100 or so fighters.

The enemy here did just the most horrible things you can imagine, in one case murdering a child, placing a booby trap within the child's body and waiting for the parent to come recover the body of their child and exploding it to kill the parents. Beheadings and so forth.

And we were able to gain access to intelligence here by a very good relationship with the people, who recognized this enemy for who they are and were very forthcoming with human intelligence. In one raid in the beginning of June, for example, we were able to capture 26 targeted individuals, some of the worst people here in Tall Afar, within a 30-minute period. And the enemy began to realize this isn't working either, they can't hide in plain sight anymore.

So, we achieved, I think, an unprecedented level of cooperation between civil officials and our partnership units: the police, the mayor and the people. (Laughs.) I think the people are sick and tired of this violence, of this enemy, and they are very grateful for our efforts, and the Iraqi army's efforts in particular, to rid them of this enemy. The cooperation with the people, again: another important element of our success here, the access to the intelligence that that relationship we've developed with the people has given us.

Read it all, as it will make clear that the latest communiqué from Zarqawi confirms that the terrorists are having a tough time:

A closer look at al-Zarqawi's rhetoric shows that he is up against a wall. While he appears strong enough to wreak havoc on the population -- claiming more than a dozen car bombings and twice that many armed attacks on police and civilians this week -- he also made a point this week to chastise Iraqi tribesmen whose support for his movement has eroded considerably in recent weeks.

Other evidence points to a growing discontent among tribesmen. Last month, four Sunni tribes in Al-Ramadi forced al-Zarqawi loyalists from two neighborhoods after they tried to force long-time Shi'a residents from the city (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 19 August 2005). Sunni tribesmen are thought to have provided al-Zarqawi and his supporters safe haven, transportation, and other assistance that aided their insurgency over the past 2 1/2 years. If that support dries up, al-Zarqawi's ability to operate in the Sunni stronghold areas will be radically affected.

It seems that one of the first priorities now for the Iraqi government would be to act on the warrant for the arrest of Al Sadr to eliminate a possible ally of the Sunni/foreign insurgency:

Al-Sadr has increasingly aligned his view with Sunnis opposed to the transitional government, the U.S. "occupation," and the draft constitution. Like al-Zarqawi, al-Sadr loathes the Shi'ites aligned with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). The cleric views SCIRI as his main rival for power, and SCIRI's armed wing, the Al-Badr Corps, as the main rival to his militia, the Imam Al-Mahdi Army.

From al-Sadr's perspective, an alliance with al-Zarqawi would serve his goal of driving U.S. forces from Iraq, deposing the transitional government, and establishing an Islamic state in Iraq. Al-Zarqawi shares the same political goals -- although the two men differ on doctrinal grounds. In both men's quest for power, an alliance would bolster the insurgency. Most likely, both men assume that they could use the other, and should the insurgency triumph, each could overpower the other to become the supreme authority in Iraq.


Schroeder’s last dirty trick

SPD Campaign Poster:
"She (Merkel) Would Have Sent Soldiers"

And Germany could have been proud instead of ashamed for having sold its soul to France. Hopefully, a good portion of the 25% of undecided voters will get the message. Moreover, and apart from the extremely bad taste of the campaign, it is doubtful that someone responsible for 12% unemployment could win the elections blathering on foreign policy issues.

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Zapatero’s hypocrisy

Following my post on Melilla, the Spanish enclave in Morocco surrounded by a border fence with barbed wire to stop immigrants, and Zapatero’s drivel at the UN on poverty and solidarity, three men have been killed in the last 18 days, probably by the Guardia Civil, while trying to enter Spanish territory.

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Trade not aid (revisited)

For those still convinced that the best way to help Third World countries and Africa in particular is to send truckloads of dollars, this article by Mamadou Koulibaly, president of the National Assembly of the Ivory Coast (and leftist intellectual, I might add) could prove illuminating. Excerpts:

We would do well to question some of the irrelevant assumptions of those calling for an increase in the volume of aid. Numerous World Bank and IMF analysts, among others working at major research centers on international development, question the effectiveness of the policies adopted so far. Research increasingly shows that economic prosperity is primarily generated by private investment when states can stimulate economic freedom.

The main challenge we face is to develop the capacity to open up our countries to international actors who can foster prosperity for the poorest amongst us. We also cannot shy away from our responsibilities as Africans.

Farmers, often the largest social and professional class, are still amongst the poorest in Africa countries when they live off of lands that are not governed by precise ownership rights.

There is now a good opportunity to begin advocating for freedom, democracy, and the enshrinement of clearer and more precise property rights regarding common goods that are all too often considered in Africa as state property.

Don’t tell Mugabe.

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Chavez the mountebank

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Friday he has documentary evidence that the United States plans to invade his country. Chavez, interviewed on ABC's "Nightline," said the plan is called "Balboa" and involves aircraft carriers and planes. A transcript of the interview was made available by "Nightline."

No doubt other countries applauded this ridiculous rant, but that is exactly why they are third world countries. Unless they understand that this kind of rubbish is meaningless, not constructive and certainly won’t accelerate their development, they don’t stand a chance.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Bush leak and Stalinist propaganda

Since every major newspaper is making a big thing of it (three articles only on The Times; has it been bought by The Mirror?), I might as well give my two cents on Reuters photoshopped pic of Bush telling Condi that he needs to pee.

First of all, and contrary to Reuters intentions, the photo backfired: everybody likes a human angle and to discover that even the earth’s great are like them is reassuring. Second, it is clear that the President should not be distracted by protocol, and in fact – probably so advised by Condi’s team - he had to wait for Blair to finish his speech before going to the bathroom. Third, what Reuters did is illegal, they refused to acknowledge the manipulation and probably violated UN rules on privacy. Not as bad as AP's complicity in a murder to get a scoop, but certainly not very ethical.

At least it was done with a minimum of expertise, which cannot be said for this pathetic attempt by CAIR (Council of Islamic Relations) to show the devotion of its members and followers by covering their heads (indiscriminately):



They even put a hijab on a man (bottom left). Click on the photos for the whole story.

This is very disturbing news: if al Qaeda gets hold of an MSPaint manual, western civilization is doomed.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

EU confusion

After the expected but sad debacle of the UN reform, now as good as dead, the EU also is going through a difficult period. Barroso however, seems to be on the right track:

Europe's trade unions attacked José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, yesterday over his plans to scrap more than 60 draft European Unions laws, including a measure to protect workers from exposure to sunshine.

They will feel lost without their regulations on bananas and cucumbers, but perhaps will gain some credibility:

Commission President Barroso and Competitiveness Commissioner Verheugen have asked their colleagues to examine over 200 proposals that are currently in the pipeline but have got stuck in the legislative process. On 27 September 2005, a list will be presented to the Competitiveness group, who will decide which of the proposals should be scrapped. Legally, the Commission can withdraw a proposal at any time in the legislative process without consulting the member states or Parliament.

On the other hand, the European Commission [is] flexing its muscles (ht Ingrid):

An unprecedented ruling yesterday by the supreme court in Europe gives Brussels the power to introduce harmonised criminal law across the EU, creating for the first time a body of European criminal law that all member states must adopt. The judgment by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg was bitterly fought by 11 EU governments, including Britain, and marks a dramatic transfer of power from national capitals to Brussels.

One diplomat said: “This stuff is political dynamite in the UK, Holland, Italy, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe, where they are as keen on their sovereignty as anyone.

The ruling means that the Commission can propose an EU crime that, if passed by the European Parliament and a qualified majority of member states, must be adopted by all member states.

This ruling could be used and abused in many ways; I doubt many countries will accept this transfer of power to Brussels.

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