Archive for September 2009
Darfur seems to be off the Western news radar, but Eric Reeves argues against such complacency:
“September 26, 2009 — The diminishment of large-scale combat in Darfur has led some observers to minimize the ongoing catastrophe for the people of this tortured region. In words that have become notorious, outgoing UNAMID commander Martin Agwai declared in August that “as of today, I would not say there is a war going on in Darfur,” but rather “very low intensity” engagements. These words were anticipated by those of the departing UN/AU special representative to UNAMID, Rodolphe Adada: “There is no more fighting proper on the ground.” “Right now there is no high-intensity conflict in Darfur…. Call it what you will but this is what is happening in Darfur—a lot of banditry, carjacking, attacks on houses.”
These assessments appear strange indeed when we consider that during the tenure of these two men more than 450,000 Darfuris were newly displaced, according to figures from the UN High Commission for Refugees and the UN Department of Peacekeeping operations (317,000 in 2008 alone). The vast majority of these civilians were violently displaced because UNAMID continues to be ineffective in deterring or halting various forms of attacks on civilians. Despite the large number of personnel on the ground, UNAMID continues to operate at less than 50 percent of mandated capacity. Too often troops, civilian police, and other personnel lack equipment, transport, adequate communications and intelligence capacity—or even a clear understanding of their civilian protection mandate, which has UN Chapter 7 auspices.
But the assessments by Agwai and Adada failed completely to anticipate the recent violence initiated by Khartoum’s Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in the Korma region northwest of el-Fasher in North Darfur. Reports of a significant military offensive by the SAF and its Janjaweed militia forces, underway since early September, have still not been investigated, nor have the conditions of several thousand newly displaced civilians been assessed by UNAMID or humanitarian organizations. Twenty civilian casualties were reported in early September and more recently an additional eighteen civilian casualties have been reported; even so UNAMID remains unwilling to demand of Khartoum that access be granted—a deference that breeds only more intransigence on the part of the regime. The rebel forces, who have seen this deference—and with good cause view UNAMID as having taken the regime’s side in the conflict—had previously refused to grant security guarantees to UNAMID but have now accepted that the immediate needs of civilians demand access and have granted it. Khartoum alone blocks UNAMID from investigating.”
“Prague, Sept 8 (CTK) – Three of the Czech ultra-right Workers’ Party’s leading candidates to the Chamber of Deputies are supporters of neo-Nazi groups, the public Czech Television (CT) reported on Tuesday, referring to photos showing the three as neo-Nazi fans.
Interior Minister Martin Pecina who has received the information plans to include it in the ministry’s proposal for the abolition of the party.
However, DS chairman Tomas Vandas has rejected the allegation describing it as a lie.
CT said that it had photographs at its disposals show that DS candidates Jiri Svehlik, Milan Hroch and Patrik Vondrak support neo-Nazism.”
“Behind the scenes stuff, and the ‘policy-making’ forums, had at least some role. His goal, modest in the extreme, was to have a word in the ear of Ed Balls. About an alternative to a planned Academy take-over in Felixstowe. Which just about sums up life as a humble petitioner in the Court of Brown.”
This is a surprisingly good video clip from Honduras:
Update 1: UN mobile? Zelaya spoke to the United Nations General Assembly via a mobile phone, whilst still in the Brazilian Embassy, as the Times reports:
The ousted Honduran president has become the first world leader ever to address the United Nations General Assembly by mobile phone, appealing to the world body to help return hm to power.
Manuel Zelaya made the long-distance speech to the 192-nation body from his refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, where he is surrounded by soldiers and riot police.
Patricia Rodas Baca, his Foreign Minister, surprised delegates by pulling out her mobile phone at the start of her UN address last night.
Flourishing the phone, she gave Mr Zelaya a dramatic introduction. “Our President is under siege by military forces…” she said. “He is being threatened and constanly, every minute, every second, that passes, could be the one that brings the tragic resolution.” “
Update 2: Spanish language sites on the crisis in Honduras, resistencia morazan and honduras resistencia.
Update 3: I forget if I published this link before, but el libertador is a good newspaper in Honduras covering events.
“KANDAHAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – A roadside bomb struck a passenger bus outside Afghanistan’s southern city of Kandahar on Tuesday, killing 12 civilians including women and children, a provincial official said.
Homemade bombs have become by far the deadliest weapon used by insurgents fighting Western and Afghan government forces, and civilians are frequently killed in the blasts.
“Twelve people, among them women and children, have been killed and 15 more civilians were wounded,” provincial government spokesman Zalmai Ayoubi said of the blast.
It happened on a highway where a similar blast killed three civilians a day earlier, he added.
Ayoubi blamed the insurgent Taliban for planting the devices.
Reuters could not immediately reach the Taliban for comment, but the militants usually distance themselves from blasts when civilians are the victims.
Ousted from power in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the resurgent Taliban largely rely on roadside bombs and suicide attacks in their campaign against the foreign and Afghan forces.
More than 1,500 civilians have been killed by violence in Afghanistan so far this year, the United Nations said last week.
It said 68 percent of the civilian killings were a result of militant attacks, while 23 percent were caused by Afghan and foreign troops led by NATO and the U.S. military.”
Hidden nuclear installation – check.
Testing long range missiles – check.
Defence minister let’s cat out of bag – check.
As the Guardian reports:
“Iran has warned Israel not to dare attack it after Tehran defiantly test-fired long-range missiles capable of hitting targets across the Middle East and beyond.
“If this happens ‑ which, of course, we do not foresee ‑ its ultimate result would be that it expedites the last breath of the Zionist regime,” the Iranian defence minister, Ahmad Vahidi, said on state television today.”
I just wonder how anti-Israeli groupies will spin that?
“… that it expedites the last breath of the Zionist regime…”?
Can they join the dots?
Reporters Without Borders has released a statement on the dire situation developing in Honduras:
“Reporters Without Borders said today that the last vestiges of independent news were under threat after the de facto government signed a decree yesterday banning “unauthorised” public meetings and giving itself the power to close media “damaging public order”
“Three months to the day after the 28 June 2009 coup, basic rights and public freedoms are just empty words in Honduras”, the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
The coup government was trying to justify these steps in response to “calls to insurrection” from ousted leader Manuel Zelaya, who has called on his supporters to “march on the capital”.
“There is nothing now missing from the dictatorial arsenal of a government that took power by force and is deaf to the appeals of the international community”, the organisation said. “What little news there was outside of the control of the Micheletti administration is in danger of disappearing from one moment to the next, after three months of suspensions and constant intimidation of all media critical of the coup.”
The emergency decree, which should theoretically be approved by the Congress, is supposed to last for 45 days, but the organisation fears that the situation will degenerate into further repression and even greater threats to the safety of journalists. The director of Radio Progreso, the priest Ismael Moreno, said yesterday he had received death threats through texts sent to the mobile phones of radio staff, suggesting that a price had been put on his head.”
Update 1: AP has more:
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduras’ coup-installed government silenced two key dissident broadcasters on Monday just hours after it suspended civil liberties to prevent an uprising by backers of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
Dozens of soldiers raided the offices of Radio Globo. Officials also shut down Channel 36 television station, leaving it broadcasting only a test pattern.”
Update 2: The Field details the restrictions on basic civil liberties in Honduras and the audacity of the coup leaders as they obstruct the OAS:
“…the Honduran coup regime detained six foreign diplomats from the Organization of American States (OAS) – two US officials, two Canadian, one Colombian and Chilean OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza – for six hours in the Toncontin International Airport, barring their entrance into Honduras, it has made public the following decree, which bans freedom of assembly, transit, the press and orders National Police and the Armed Forces to arrest and detain any person suspected of exercising those rights.”
Update 3: “…before a settlement had been reached.” Apparently some naive US diplomats believed that you could actually negotiate with the coup regime in Honduras, and by doing so reinstate the President, as anything else would be unacceptable.
Yet surely the coup plotter’s actions in attacking the Brazilian Embassy, suspending civil liberties and closing down much of the media gives lie to that notion?
Any negotiations by them were merely a delaying tactic and not genuine. Zelaya was perfectly within his rights to return to his own country and draw out the devious plotters.
US diplomats would be better spending their time criticising those who overthrew Zelaya, not the other way around.
Update 4: Understandably the Brazilian government will not be complying with an ultimatum, according to Reuters:
“PORLAMAR, Venezuela (Reuters) – Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on Sunday his nation would not comply with a demand from Honduras’ de facto government to decide the status of ousted President Manuel Zelaya in 10 days.
Lula, speaking to reporters during a summit in Venezuela, said international law protects Brazil’s embassy, where Zelaya has been staying since returning to Honduras earlier this month. He demanded an apology from Honduras’ de facto leader, Roberto Micheletti.”
The BBC with all of its high paid management, journalistic expertise and bags of integrity has capitulated to neo-fascism, in the form of the BNP.
The BNP leader, Nick Griffin has been invited onto the Question Time panel for Thursday, 22nd October 2009.
There will be some antifascist demonstrations on that day outside of various BBC offices, and in particular London, the final details are not clear at the moment. I will post when I receive more information.
I suspect in years to come we will look back on the decision by the BBC to treat these neo-fascists with such courtesy as a turning point, which the BNP will exploit to the maximum and use it to grow.
I can barely express myself on the nature of this profoundly idiotic decision, and how otherwise intelligent people can’t grasp why providing the BNP with free publicity will help the growth of racism and neo-fascism in Britain.
No monument stands over Babi Yar.
A steep cliff only, like the rudest headstone.
I am afraid.
Today, I am as old
As the entire Jewish race itself.
I see myself an ancient Israelite.
I wander o’er the roads of ancient Egypt
And here, upon the cross, I perish, tortured
And even now, I bear the marks of nails.
It seems to me that Dreyfus is myself.
The Philistines betrayed me – and now judge.
I’m in a cage. Surrounded and trapped,
I’m persecuted, spat on, slandered, and
The dainty dollies in their Brussels frills
Squeal, as they stab umbrellas at my face.
I see myself a boy in Belostok
Blood spills, and runs upon the floors,
The chiefs of bar and pub rage unimpeded
And reek of vodka and of onion, half and half.
I’m thrown back by a boot, I have no strength left,
In vain I beg the rabble of pogrom,
To jeers of “Kill the Jews, and save our Russia!”
My mother’s being beaten by a clerk.
O, Russia of my heart, I know that you
Are international, by inner nature.
But often those whose hands are steeped in filth
Abused your purest name, in name of hatred.
I know the kindness of my native land.
How vile, that without the slightest quiver
The antisemites have proclaimed themselves
The “Union of the Russian People!”
It seems to me that I am Anna Frank,
Transparent, as the thinnest branch in April,
And I’m in love, and have no need of phrases,
But only that we gaze into each other’s eyes.
How little one can see, or even sense!
Leaves are forbidden, so is sky,
But much is still allowed – very gently
In darkened rooms each other to embrace.
-”No, fear not – those are sounds
Of spring itself. She’s coming soon.
Quickly, your lips!”
-”They break the door!”
-”No, river ice is breaking…”
Wild grasses rustle over Babi Yar,
The trees look sternly, as if passing judgement.
Here, silently, all screams, and, hat in hand,
I feel my hair changing shade to gray.
And I myself, like one long soundless scream
Above the thousands of thousands interred,
I’m every old man executed here,
As I am every child murdered here.
No fiber of my body will forget this.
May “Internationale” thunder and ring
When, for all time, is buried and forgotten
The last of antisemites on this earth.
There is no Jewish blood that’s blood of mine,
But, hated with a passion that’s corrosive
Am I by antisemites like a Jew.
And that is why I call myself a Russian!
David Cesarani explains more.
Over at the Field there is plenty of evidence that the regime in Honduras is still attacking/has attacked the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
No one in the West, and particularly Guardian readers with access to the Internet, should have any illusions about Ahmadinejad, it seems that barely a month goes by when he is either fiddling elections or denying the Holocaust, as he did recently on the annual Al Quds Day as RTE reports:
“Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the Holocaust was a ‘myth’, reiterating comments that sparked outrage around the world.
‘The very existence of this regime is an insult to the dignity of the people,’ the hardliner said as he addressed the annual Quds Day rally in Tehran referring to Israel.
‘They (Western powers) launched the myth of the Holocaust. They lied, they put on a show and then they support the Jews.’
‘If as you claim the Holocaust is true, why can a study not be allowed?’ the Iranian president said to chants of ‘Death to Israel’ from the crowd gathered for the annual display of solidarity with the Palestinians.
‘The pretext for establishing the Zionist regime is a lie… a lie which relies on an unreliable claim, a mythical claim, and the occupation of Palestine has nothing to do with the Holocaust,’ he added.
Similar comments made by Mr Ahmadinejad shortly after his first election as president in 2005 also sparked an international outcry. “
So no one should be in any doubt concerning Ahmadinejad’s blatant Holocaust denial, except those at the Guardian, as Mark Gardner points out:
“Now of course the Guardian would never mean it like that – well, not like Ahmadinejad means it anyway. And of course the Guardian would neither threaten another Holocaust, nor deny the last one.
Nevertheless, the Guardian as an institution – and as a consequence much of its constituency – has clearly allowed its hostility against Israel to erode both its understanding of antisemitism; and its vigilance against imagery that evokes deeply rooted antisemitic stereotypes.
This is not so much a conscious decision, or some covert antisemitic conspiracy: it is simply what happens when, over time, basically decent people lose sight of the dividing line between criticism and hatred, and between scathing political comment and racist abuse. There are, of course, exceptions to the rule at both the Guardian and throughout the wider Left, but they are swimming against the tide.”
Update 1: Not forgetting that even Juan Cole finally admits Ahmadinejad is articulating antisemitism, a welcome acknowledgment, but about 4 years too late as Adam Holland ably dissects.
There is an appalling piece of Hamas PR in this week’s New Statesman.
Ken Livingstone interviews Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal.
He’s not really asked any difficult questions and Livingstone seems to grovel at Meshal’s knees, not troubling to pick him up on the difficult issues.
I posted a slightly critical comment, I doubt it will see the light of day. [Update: It did get posted, but there's no discussion what so ever on these issues, which is a bit scary considering the NS was once meant to be a premier political magazine.]
Next time, the New Statesman should refer to Meshal’s previous interview on Sky, where he advanced his own version of Holocaust revisionism.
“On the 31st of March 2008, Khaled Meshaal tells a Sky interviewer:
“KM: We don’t want to harm any religion in the world. We don’t deny the holocaust.
But, we believe the Zionists have exaggerated the numbers to get sympathy from other nations. But, there is Palestinian suffering caused by Israel.”
Would Ken Livingstone be so gentle with David Irving? I doubt it.
Update 1: I have covered Hamas on a number of occasions.
A piece on Bloomberg suggests that the cost of keeping up a curfew in Honduras is high:
” Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) — Honduras’s nationwide curfew is costing the Central American nation’s economy $50 million a day, said Jesus Canahuati, vice president of the nation’s chapter of the Business Council of Latin America.
The country’s $14.1 billion economy has lost up to $200 million in investment since the military ousted Manuel Zelaya from office on June 28, Canahuati said in a telephone interview today.
“Those are numbers that aren’t sustainable in Honduras,” Canahuati said from San Pedro Sula. “We’re a poor country, and many people won’t eat if there’s no work.” ”
Another article on Reuters looks at Brazil’s role.