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.”