Posts Tagged ‘Burundi’

Österreich: Let’s ban the bombs!

Donnerstag, Dezember 11th, 2014

“Austria pledges to work for a ban on nuclear weapons

Austria pledges to work for a ban on nuclear weapons
Humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons must initiate treaty process in 2015

December 9, 2014

After 44 states called for a prohibition on nuclear weapons at a conference in Vienna on the humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons, Austria delivered the “Austrian pledge” in which it committed to work to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” and pledged “to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal”.

“All states committed to nuclear disarmament must join the Austrian pledge to work towards a treaty to ban nuclear weapons”, said Beatrice Fihn, Executive Director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN).

“Next year is the 70 year anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and that will be a fitting time for negotiations to start on a treaty banning nuclear weapons”, Fihn added.

States that expressed support for a ban treaty at the Vienna Conference include: Austria, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Chad, Colombia, Congo, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Guinea Bissau, Holy See, Indonesia, Jamaica, Jordan, Kenya, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Philippines, Qatar, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Senegal, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor Leste, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Uruguay, Venezuela, Yemen, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

These announcements were given at a two-day international conference convened in Vienna to examine the consequences of nuclear weapon use, whether intentional or accidental.

Survivors of the nuclear bombings in Japan and of nuclear testing in Australia, Kazakhstan, the Marshall Islands, and the United States, gave powerful testimonies of the horrific effects of nuclear weapons. Their evidence complemented other presentations presenting data and research.

“The consequences of any nuclear weapon use would be devastating, long-lasting, and unacceptable. Governments simply cannot listen to this evidence and hear these human stories without acting”, said Akira Kawasaki, from Japanese NGO Peaceboat. “The only solution is to ban and eliminate nuclear weapons and we need to start now,” Kawasaki added.

For decades, discussions on nuclear weapons have been dominated by the few nuclear-armed states – states that continue to stockpile and maintain over 16,000 warheads. The humanitarian initiative on nuclear weapons has prompted a fundamental change in this conversation, with non-nuclear armed states leading the way in a discussion on the actual effects of the weapons.

Unlike the other weapons of mass destruction – chemical and biological – nuclear weapons are not yet prohibited by an international legal treaty. Discussions in Vienna illustrated that the international community is determined to address this. In a statement to the conference, Pope Francis called for nuclear weapons to be “banned once and for all”.

The host of the previous conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons, Mexico, called for the commencement of a diplomatic process, and South Africa said it was considering its role in future meetings.

“Anyone in Vienna can tell that something new is happening on nuclear weapons. We have had three conferences examining their humanitarian impact, and now with the Austrian pledge we have everything we need for a diplomatic process to start”, said Thomas Nash of UK NGO Article 36.”

 

(Quelle: ICAN.)

Somalia: Vor einer neuen US-Militärinvasion?

Donnerstag, September 1st, 2011

“Obama Widening War in Somalia

Led by the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA) the U.S. is stepping up its war in Somalia, The Nation magazine reports.

by Sherwood Ross

“The CIA presence in (the capital) Mogadishu is part of Washington’s intensifying counter-terrorism focus on Somalia, which includes targeted strikes by US Special Operations forces, drone attacks and expanded surveillance operations,” writes Jeremy Scahill, the magazine’s national security correspondent.

According to well-connected Somali sources, the CIA is reluctant to deal directly with Somali political leaders, who are regarded by U.S. officials as corrupt and untrustworthy. Instead, Scahill says, the U.S. has Somali intelligence agents on its payroll. Even the nation’s president, Sharif Sheihk Ahmed is not fully briefed on war plans.

The CIA operates from a sprawling walled compound in a corner of Mogadishu’s Aden Adde International Airport defended by guard towers manned by Somali government guards. What’s more, the CIA also runs a secret underground prison in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency headquarters, where conditions are reminiscent of the infamous Guantanamo Bay facility President Obama vowed to shut down.

The airport site was completed just four months ago and symbolizes the new face of the expanding war the Obama regime is waging against Al Shabab, and other Islamic militant groups in Somalia having close ties to Al Qaeda.
Typical of U.S. strongarm tactics, suspects from Kenya and elsewhere have been illegally rendered and flown to Mogadishu. Former prisoners, Scahill writes, “described the (filthy, small) cells as (infested with bedbugs), windowless and the air thick, moist and disgusting. Prisoners…are not allowed outside (and) many have developed rashes…” The prison dates back at least to the regime of military dictator Siad Barre, who ruled from 1969 to 1991, and was even then referred to as “The Hole.”

One prisoner snatched in Kenya and rendered to Somalia said, “I have been here for one year, seven months. I have been interrogated so many times…by Somali men and white men. Every day new faces show up (but) they have nothing on me. I have never seen a lawyer…here there is no court or tribunal.” The white men are believed to be U.S. and French intelligence agents.

Human Rights Watch and Reprieve have documented that Kenyan security forces “facilitated scores of renditions for the U.S. and other governments, including 85 people rendered to Somalia in 2007 alone,” Scahil writes.
Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a leader of Al Qaeda in East Africa and Kenyan citizen, was slain in the first known targeted killing operation in Somalia authorized by President Obama, The Nation article said, several months after a man thought to be one of Nabhan’s aides was rendered to Mogadishu.

In an interview with the magazine in Mogadishu, Abdulkadir Moallin Noor, the minister of state for the presidency, confirmed that US agents “are working without intelligence” and “giving them training.” He called for more U.S. counter-terrorism efforts lest “the terrorists will take over the country.”

During his confirmation hearings to become head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, Vice Admiral William McRaven said the U.S. is “looking very hard” at Somalia and that it would have to “increase its use of drones as well as on-the-ground intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.” U.S. actions appear to circumvent the president, who is not fully kept in the loop, the magazine reported.

A week after a June 23rd drone strike against alleged Shabab members near Kismayo, 300 miles from the capital, John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s top counter-terrorism adviser, said, “From the territory it controls in Somalia, Al Shabab continues to call for strikes against the United States. We cannot and we will not let down our guard. We will continue to pummel Al Qaeda and its ilk.”

Author Scahill reports the Pentagon is increasing its support for, and arming of, the counter-terrorism operations of non-Somali African military forces. A new defense spending bill would authorize more than $75 million in U.S. aid aimed at fighting the Shabab and Al Qaeda in Somalia. The package would “dramatically” increase US arming and financing of AMISOM’s (African Union) forces, particularly from Uganda and Burundi, as well as the armies of Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia.

The AMISOM forces, however, “are not conducting their mission with anything resembling surgical precision,” Scahill writes. Instead, in recent months they “have waged a merciless campaign of indiscriminate shelling of Shabab areas, some of which are heavily populated by civilians.”
According to a senior Somali intelligence official who works directly with U.S. agents, the CIA-led program in Mogadishu has yielded few tangible gains. Neither the U.S. nor Somali forces “have been able to conduct a single successful targeted mission in the Shabab’s areas in the capital,” Scahill reports.

Francis Boyle, distinguished authority on international law at the University of Illinois, Champaign, says the US. is “just using Shabab as an excuse to steal Somalia’s gas. Just before President Bush Senior’s Gulf War I, Somalia was already carved up among four or so U.S. oil companies. Then Bush Sr. invaded under the pretext of feeding poor starving Somalis…(but) the Somalis fought back and expelled us… So now we are just trying to get back in there. Notice they are escalating the propaganda again about poor starving Black People in Somalia, as if we ever cared diddly-squat about them. All we care about is stealing their oil. Shabab and famine are just covers and pretexts.

The expanding war in Somalia, largely unreported in America, marks the sixth country in the Middle East—-after Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and Yemen—in which the regime of Nobel Peace Prize-winner Obama is engaged. One wonders how many additional countries Mr. Obama, (the former secret CIA payroller,) has to invade to win another Peace Prize?


Sherwood Ross directs the Anti-War News Service. To comment or contribute, reach him at sherwoodross10@gmail.com

 

(Quelle: Veterans Today.)

Libyen: Das grosse Schachbrett

Donnerstag, Juli 7th, 2011

“Libya as Proxy

BRICS vs. G7

By VIJAY PRASHAD

If the media in the G7 states bothered to report it, they mocked the two visits of the World Chess Federation president Kirsan Ilyumzhinov to Tripoli. Was Qaddafi playing chess while his country burned? Ilyumzhinov is not a chess maestro. From 1993 to 2010, he was the president of Kalmykia, a small republic in the CIS. Ilyumzhinov became head of the Chess Federation in 1995, using that post to bring the championships to the capital of Kalmykia, Elista, several times, as well as once trying to hold it in Baghdad (1996) and once holding it in Tripoli (2004). His chess might not be at the standard of Viswanath Anand or Boris Gelfand, but he is as eccentric as some of the leading chess players (he believes that aliens gifted chess to our planet).

On June 12, Ilyumzhinov was in Tripoli playing Qaddafi. When it became clear that he would win, Ilyumzhinov declared the game a draw. After the trip, Russia’s Africa envoy, Mikhail Mergelov said that he spoke to Ilyumzhinov before his trip, “I advised him to play white and to give Qaddafi to understand that he was nearing an end game.”

Russia often sends mysterious couriers to carry its messages. Ilyumzhinov went to Baghdad shortly before the Gulf War re-opened in 2003, where he met Saddam Hussein’s son Uday. What message did he carry then, and what message will he carry now?

On July 3-4, the Russia-NATO Council met in Sochi, the Black Sea resort. The main item on the agenda was for NATO to smooth Russia’s ruffled feathers. The Council was created in 2002 to make sure that the increased tensions between the two did not detract from Russia’s support of the War on Terror. NATO’s gradual march eastward, attracting former Eastern bloc states into its agenda came just after NATO’s air war in Yugoslavia (1999) and its war in Afghanistan (2001 onward). All this looked to Moscow like encirclement. Bush’s insistence upon missile defense, and the U. S. push to bring NATO into its missile defense plans rattled Moscow. The war over South Ossetia in 2008 allowed Moscow to flex its muscles.

Over the past decade, Russia has moved closer to the new formation that comes out of the Non-Aligned Movement, the G-15 and the India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) formation. China joined IBSA to block the new trade rules that would have gone through in Cancun (2003) and to formulate a common agenda at the Copenhagen (2009) meeting on climate. These discussions and the creation of a common platform produced the BRICS formation, which met earlier this year at Hainan, China. Russia, long adrift somewhere between its own Cold War past and Boris Yeltin’s subservience to the U. S., found a new diplomatic purchase with the locomotives of the Global South.

At Hainan, in April, the BRICS powers strongly criticized NATO’s war on Libya, and formulated the principles that would appear in the African Union High Level Ad Hoc Committee on Libya’s June 15 statement to the UN. BRICS held out for a negotiated settlement. Ruhakana Rugunda, of Uganda, represented the AU at the UN meeting, where he pointedly noted, “It is unwise for certain players to be intoxicated with technological superiority and begin to think they alone can alter the course of human history towards freedom for the whole of mankind. Certainly, no constellation of states should think that they can recreate hegemony over Africa” (Rugunda was the Ugandan representative to the UN, and has now been moved to a domestic cabinet post). The AU told the UN that given its experience in Burundi, in particular, it would be able to handle the negotiation and the transition in Libya.

It was in this context that the Russians involved themselves in the Libyan stalemate, with some chess diplomacy at the same time as they tried to push back in the halls of NATO. At Sochi, Russian president Medvedev invited South African president Jacob Zuma, who has been at the head of the AU’s attempts in Libya, to join the deliberations. Zuma told the NATO chiefs that they had overstepped the UN Resolutions (1970 and 1973), and that the only way forward was negotiations. If the NATO chiefs could pressure the Benghazi Transitional Council to back down from its maximalist position (Qaddafi must go immediately), Zuma suggested, the way could open for peace talks. The NATO chiefs listened to Zuma tell them about the AU’s Framework Agreement on a Political Settlement, and watched Medvedev applaud the AU for its work and offer his support to the Framework and the AU’s Roadmap. Russia and the AU offered to lean on Qaddafi to abide by the terms of the Roadmap, and they wanted NATO to lean on the Transitional Council to do the same.

NATO left Sochi indifferent to Russian concerns over missile defense, with anodyne promises over progress at their next meeting in Chicago. On Libya, there was no progress. Libya is the first battleground of a new “cold war,” this one not between the U. S, and the Russia, but between the G7 (and its military arm, NATO) and the BRICS (who have not much of a military arm). The G7 commands the skies and, increasingly shakily, the rhetoric of freedom, but it does not have a sustainable economic base and no sense of a political process that does not come with aerial bombardment.

The BRICS failed to gather around their candidate for the IMF post, and so far have failed to articulate an alternative to the deflationary strategies of the international financial organizations. On the politics of economics, in other words, BRICS have been less successful. On the question of international politics, they have been a bother to the G7. On Syria, the BRICS will not allow any strong UN resolution. The grounds are that NATO misused Resolution 1973 on Libya, and it would do the same in Syria (the G7’s case on Syria was made by the French representative to the UN Gérard Araud on June 13 in O Estado de Sao Paulo, to win over the Brazilians away from what the French see as South African obduracy). The BRICS tried to stop Resolution 1973 in the first instance, but Zuma, at that time, buckled after a personal phone call from Obama. His militancy now is perhaps compensation for South Africa ditching the BRICS bloc then.

Ilyumzhinov, now more openly Russia’s envoy to Libya, arrived in Tripoli over the weekend. He met with Qaddafi’s son Muhammed, who is actually a good chess player and heads the official chess federation. Ilyumzhinov was told that Qaddafi plans to die on Libyan soil, although a senior Russian official told Kommersant that Qaddafi has hinted that he would give up power “in exchange for security guarantees.” He won’t leave prior to negotiations, however, and the Benghazi leadership won’t talk unless he leaves: that is the main stalemate. Benghazi reflects NATO’s view. The BRICS are no longer invested in Qaddafi’s maintenance (you don’t hear “brother leader” in the AU meetings any longer). They simply want to find a rational way to end the conflict. The Libyan war is no longer about Libya alone, nor about the Arab Spring. It is a test case for the transition from the “American Century” to the era of the South’s locomotives. The U. S. and the G7 will not allow for a graceful transition. History will judge them poorly for their stubbornness.

Vijay will be speaking tonight in Boston on Arab Spring-Libyan Winter. Click here for details.

Vijay Prashad is the George and Martha Kellner Chair of South Asian History and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, CT His most recent book, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World, won the Muzaffar Ahmad Book Prize for 2009. The Swedish and French editions are just out. CounterPunchers in the Boston area can hear Prashad live here on July 7. He can be reached at: vijay.prashad@trincoll.edu

 

(Quelle: CounterPunch.)

Ägpyten: Neuer Anlauf in der Nilwasser-Frage?

Freitag, Mai 13th, 2011

“Hope on the Nile

by Ramzi El Houry

[Image from http://blog.gohoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/River-Nile-Egypt-Gohoto.jpg]

A new, post-Mubarak Egypt has given both Egyptians and other Arabs alike, hope that Egypt can once again reclaim its role as the focal point from which Arab culture and politics emanate. The opening up of the Rafah border crossing into Gaza and the active promotion of a unity government in the Palestinian Territories are both indications that this is slowly happening. However, Egypt’s regional affiliation is not only with the Middle East, but extends towards its riparian partners along the Nile as well. And on that front, events in the immediate months after the fall of Mubarak indicated that an Egypt in transition, unable to take firm political positions, could be taken advantage of by upstream Nile riparian countries that have for years tried to gain the rights to greater use of the Nile’s water flows. On February 28th, 2011, Burundi became the sixth country to sign the Nile Basin Cooperative Framework Agreement (NBCFA; which was initially signed by four countries On May 14, 2010, and a fifth on May 19) giving the signees the majority needed to ratify it and overturn the existing Agreements of 1929 and 1959 that were agreed upon between Egypt and Sudan. The NBCFA, if ratified, would allow for the equitable sharing of the Nile waters, upending the 1959 Agreement that gives Egypt and Sudan the right to access 90% of the Nile’s water and to veto any project that may be undertaken by countries further upstream. Under Mubarak, Egypt strongly opposed the new Agreement, claiming that the articles within the Agreement that allow for the “equitable utilization of Nile Waters” (Article 4) and to “not significantly affect the water security of any Nile Basin State” (Article 14b) did not guarantee the water security of Egypt would not be negatively affected.

The Nile flows through a total of ten countries, Egypt, Sudan, the newly created South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Burundi. Historically, use of the Nile on any meaningful level was dominated by Egypt and, to a lesser extent, Sudan. Decades before the Nile Waters Agreement of 1929, several agreements were signed by Britain on behalf of Egypt and Sudan that barred the construction of any project by the upstream countries that might restrict water flows to both countries. British imperial interests at the time supported the domination by Egypt of Nile politics, due to its colonial links to the country and the vital strategic importance it placed on the Suez Canal. Egypt’s close ties to the British as well as its greater state of development provided the context for which the Nile Waters Agreement of 1929 was signed. Under this Agreement, Egypt was assured a minimum of 48 billion cubic meters per year (bn cu ms/yr), and Sudan 4 billion, leaving around 32bn cu ms unallocated. The Agreement also stipulated that, regarding Sudan, “no works were to be constructed on the Nile or its tributaries or the equatorial lakes, so far as they were under British jurisdiction, which would alter the flows entering Egypt without its’ prior approval.”[1] The remaining riparian states, still mostly under colonial rule at the time, required Egyptian and Sudanese consent before constructing any significant hydroelectric or dam projects.

When Sudan gained its independence from Britain in 1956, it unilaterally declared that it would no longer adhere to the 1929 Agreement, as it required a greater share of the Nile to accommodate the needs of its growing population and infrastructure. The new agreement that was forged between the two countries in 1959 significantly increased Sudan’s share of Nile water usage from 4bn cu ms in 1929 to 18.5bn cu ms. Egypt’s share under the Nile Waters Agreement of 1959 increased to 55.5bn cu ms, which left 10bn cu ms allocated to cover losses from evaporation and seepage. The 1959 Agreement allowed Sudan to finally begin construction of a reservoir at Roseires, to which Egypt had been objecting to. Egypt, in turn, could begin construction of the Aswan High Dam, free of objections from Sudan.

As in 1929, the 1959 Agreement also made no mention of the remaining riparian countries. This time, however, their exclusion provoked criticism from Ethiopia, which claimed it had legitimate rights to exploit the waters originating in its highlands. The territories of East Africa, which were pushing the British for their independence at the time, also protested the fact that they were excluded as well. Having little political, economic, or military capital; these objections could do little to actually change the facts on the ground, and the 1959 Agreement remained in place, maintaining Egyptian and Sudanese control over the utilization of the Nile waters.

However, between 1959 and 2010, the countries further upstream that were having their rights to access the Nile neglected slowly began to gain leverage. As they began to experience population booms and economic development, their desire to utilize the Nile’s water on a larger scale for irrigation, hydropower, and other reasons went beyond justified entitlement and became necessity. Over this time period, Egypt was going to great lengths to ensure this did not happen. The Egyptians often employed direct pressure on the upstream countries, even implying the use of force as an option in the 1970s and 1980s. They have also been accused of lobbying international funding organizations behind the scenes to block investment for upstream Nile projects. All of this culminated in four countries: Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Uganda; banding together to put in place an agreement that would recognize their right to utilize the Nile to further their own prosperity.

Following Burundi’s signing of the NBCFA that created the majority needed to ratify the Agreement, another discouraging event for Egypt took place on April 2, 2011, when Ethiopian Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, announced the official launch of the construction of the Millennium Hydroelectric Project, potentially the biggest hydropower plant in Africa that would produce 5,250MW of electricity and hold 63bn cu ms of water upon its completion. The announcement caused alarm in Egypt, as a massive dam of this scale could create severe reductions in the invaluable water flows that reach Egypt. It seemed, therefore, that upstream Nile countries were taking decisions that were capitalizing on Egypt’s state of turmoil.

However, hope for an amicable solution to the crisis has been bolstered of late as a rapprochement of sorts has been taking place between Egyptian officials and various upstream governments in recent weeks. Most significantly, an Egyptian delegation to Ethiopia, comprising 48 people from across the political spectrum (including three presidential candidates) and civil society, succeeded on   May 6th in convincing Prime Minister Zenawi to delay the ratification of the NBCFA until after an Egyptian government is formed. The two also pledged to work closely together to reach a solution based on cooperation, one that would see greater rights given to upstream Nile countries while not adversely effecting Egyptian and Sudanese access to their needed share of water. This came following a similar visit by Mustafa Al Jundi, the Minister of African Affairs for Egypt’s transitional government, to Uganda in early March to meet with the country’s President, Yuweri Museveni, where assurances were given by the Ugandans that no major steps will be taken by upstream countries on the Nile until an elected Egyptian government can clarify a national position on the issue. For his part, Al Jundi assured President Museveni that the new Egypt would strive to build a new relationship based on cooperation with its riparian partners.

Such a break from the past is welcome for all sides. It is now known, through statements made by former Water Resources and Irrigation Minister, Dr. Mohamed NasrEl-din Allam, who served under Mubarak’s regime, that Mubarak handled the issue of the Nile extremely irresponsibly by devoting very little attention or concern to the controversy with the upstream riparian countries, possibly under the belief that any attempt to alter the status quo against Egypt’s favor could be reversed through intimidation or coercion. This probably explains the mixture of surprise and rage that characterized the Mubarak regime’s initial reaction to the drafting of the NBCFA in 2010. Any new and representative government in Egypt will surely want to break from Mubarak’s general stance of apathy towards the demands of the upstream states, a position that ultimately culminated in the NBCFA taking little heed of Egypt’s water security concerns.

However, one must also remain cautious in their optimism, as a democratic Egypt may find it difficult to ask for too many concessions from its people, many of whom consider unlimited access to the Nile a birthright. Egypt has long argued that its reliance on the Nile is unparalleled, as it is the only source upon which the population depends for drinking water and irrigation. Other Nile countries, they argue, have access to substantial rainfall and alternative sources of freshwater. Yet any path of cooperation towards more equitable water rights for all the riparian states could require huge sacrifices be made by the Egyptians, especially when one considers the dramatic increase in population expected to take place in the region (see Table 1).

Table 1: Projected Population Increase for Selected Countries

 

2010

2020

2050

Egypt

84,474,000

98,638,000

129,533,000

Ethiopia

84,976,000

107,964,000

173,811,000

Uganda

33,796,000

46,319,000

91,271,000

Kenya

40,863,000

52,034,000

85,410,000

Rwanda

10,277,000

13,233,000

22,082,000

Total Population

254,386,000

318,188,000

502,107,000

Source: Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat, World Population Prospects: The 2008 Revision

 

And on the Ethiopian side, serious questions need to be asked about the true cost and intentions behind the construction of the Millennium Hydroelectric Project. For one, the construction of the Millennium Project was awarded to the Italian company, Salini Construction, the same company currently constructing the notorious Gibe III Dam along the Omo River in Ethiopia. According to international NGOs, the Gibe III will have disastrous environmental and social costs by displacing some 300,000 rural inhabitants along the river and doing environmental damage to Lake Tarkana into which the river flows. The fact that both the Gibe III and the Millennium Project were both awarded to Salini Construction in no-contest bids and with no initial environmental assessments raises serious questions about the integrity of both projects. The construction of both projects will see Ethiopia’s hydroelectric capacity rise well above its domestic requirements, suggesting there is an economic incentive to export power to neighboring countries, rather than a seemingly benevolent motive of bettering the society.

The implications for all countries along the Nile, especially Egypt, are significant. With greater strain on river flows set to be exacerbated both by climate change and population growth, the only way forward lies in multilateral cooperation to promote efficiency of use rather than massive projects with no oversight. Innovation and creativity are to be the way forward if the goal is to be achieved of allowing all the populations of the Nile to benefit from its use. And, for now, it seems as though the will to work in this direction is there. One would hope that a new Egypt will seek to regain the regional credibility that was tragically eroded under 30 years of Mubarak, and finally dispense with the arrogant notion that the Nile belongs first and foremost to the Egyptians alone. The decision by Ethiopian Prime Minister Zenawi not to ratify the NBCFA is a strong measure of confidence-building, but it merely postpones the inevitable need to find a common solution. Any agreement that puts Egyptian public opinion on the defensive by asking for too much may not bode well for reaching a consensus between all the Nile riparian states. The upstream countries should take the emergence of a post-Mubarak Egypt as an opportunity to reach a solution that placates Egyptian and Sudanese fears about their water security. On the other hand, Egypt would do well to recognize that the only peaceful way forward is through compromise and a recognition that upstream countries have as much of a right to access the Nile to secure their own well-being, lest it finds itself in an alienated and isolated position once again.”


[1] Collins, Robert O. The Waters of the Nile. Oxford University Press (Oxford: 1990), p 156 

 

(Quelle: The Jadaliyya Ezine.)

Burundi: Lebenslang für “Landesverrat”?

Dienstag, Mai 10th, 2011

BURUNDI: Imprisoned editor faces life prison sentence for ‘treason’

6 May 2011

Update # 1 to RAN 57/10

The Writers in Prison Committee of PEN International (WiPC) protests a Burundi State Prosecutor’s 13 April 2011 request for a life sentence to be imposed on the editor of the online press agency Net Press Jean-Claude Kavumbagu on a charge of treason. Kavumbagu has been imprisoned since 17 July 2010 over an article in which he suggested that the Burundian security forces would not be able to defend the country in the event of a terrorist attack. The court is due to reach a verdict by mid June. The WiPC believes that Kavumbagu is being held in violation of his right to freedom of expression, guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, to which Burundi is a state party. It calls on the Burundian authorities to drop all charges against Kavumbagu and to release him immediately and unconditionally.

Jean-Claude Kavumbagu published an article on 12 July 2010, one day after suicide bombings in Kampala, Uganda, criticizing the capacity of Burundian security forces to protect the country from a terrorist attack. Somali Islamist armed group al-Shabaab claimed responsibility for the bombings in Uganda. They also threatened to attack Burundi in retaliation for Burundi’s participation in the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM).

Kavumbagu’s article said that "the anxiety has been palpable in Bujumbura and all those who have heard about [the bombings] yesterday in Kampala were convinced that if the al-Shabaab militants wanted to try ‘something’ in our country, they would succeed with disconcerting ease, [as] our defense and security forces shine in their capacity to pillage and kill their compatriots rather than defend our country." The journalist was arrested on 17 July, questioned without a lawyer, charged with treason, and transferred to Mpimba Central Prison, Bujumbura. He was also charged with defamation and violating Burundi’s press law. His application for bail was rejected in September and confirmed on appeal in November.

At a hearing on 13 April 2011, a state prosecutor asked a panel of judges to impose the maximum life sentence for treason on Kavumbagu. His defence lawyers called for his release on the basis that ‘treason’ is only applicable at times of war and that during the bail appeal hearing in November 2010, a state prosecutor had already acknowledged that Burundi was not at war. They also argued that the prosecution’s charges of defamation against the army and police were not applicable because the criminal code restricted the use of such charges to cases in which those allegedly defamed were individuals or groups of individuals, not institutional bodies. The court had two months (until mid-June) to reach a verdict.

Mpimba Central Prison, where Kavumbagu is detained, is overcrowded and insanitary and conditions fall well below international standards.

Kavumbagu was previously imprisoned in September 2008 and charged with defamation for an article in which he stated that the cost of President Nkurunziza’s trip to see the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics caused some civil servants’ salaries to be paid late.

For more information, see PEN International’s previous Rapid Action alert (16 December 2010): http://www.internationalpen.org.uk/index.cfm?objectid=EF54D35D-3048-676E-26A31AFA4F9F9E69

Useful links:

- Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) (14 April 2011): http://www.cpj.org/2011/04/burundi-seeks-life-sentence-for-kavumbagu.php

- Interview with Kavumbagu published on the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Blog (13 December 2010): http://cpj.org/blog/2010/12/mission-journal-behind-bars-in-burundi.php

- Report by CPJ (9 December 2010): http://cpj.org/2010/12/cpj-meets-jailed-burundian-journalist-calls-for-hi.php

Take Action

Please send appeals

 

  • Expressing grave concern that journalist Jean-Claude Kavumbagu has been detained since July 2010 on charges of treason and defamation for criticizing the Burundian security services;
  • Calling on the authorities to drop the charges against Kavumbagu and to release him immediately and unconditionally;
  • Reminding the authorities that, as a state party to the African Charter of Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Burundi is obliged to uphold the right to freedom of expression.

President
Président de la République Pierre Nkurunziza
Présidence de la République
Boulevard de l’Uprona
Rohero I
BP 1870
Bujumbura
Burundi
Fax: +257 22 24 89 08
Salutation: Monsieur le Président/Excellence

First Vice-president
Premier Vice-président Yves Sahinguvu
Présidence de la République
BP 1870
Bujumbura
Burundi
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Salutation: Monsieur le Premier Vice-président/Excellence

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Ministre de la Justice et Garde des Sceaux
Ministère de la Justice et Garde des Sceaux
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Burundi
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Afghanistan/Irak: Korruptionstreibstoff Krieg

Dienstag, Mai 10th, 2011

“World Corruption Special Report

By David Smith

World Corruption Special Report

“We Will Pursue Fighting Corruption”
Credit:Thruthout

Iraq and Afghanistan sit near the top of a list of the world’s most corrupt nations despite years of occupation by Anglo-American forces and more than $1 trillion of US taxpayers’ money having been spent on the two nations since 2001.

Not withstanding the killing of Osama, we are entitled to ask the question: was this money well spent?

The 2010 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) from the Berlin-based watchdog rated Somalia, with a score of 1.1 out of 10, as the world’s most corrupt nation, closely followed by Afghanistan and Myanmar with scores of 1.4, and Iraq on 1.5. The least corrupt were New Zealand, Singapore and Denmark, on 9.3 (See table attached). 

“Unstable governments with a history of conflict dominate the bottom rungs of the list,” said Huguette Labelle, Chair of Transparency International.   

Dr Jon Moran, a reader in security in Leicester University’s Department of Politics and International Relations, said we should not be surprised that war-torn states dominate the list. The recent histories of both Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrate the link between war and corruption. 

“In Iraq, sanctions after the first Gulf War, combined with the existing corruption of Saddam Hussein’s regime created a siege economy in which corruption became endemic,” Moran said.

“Smuggling and black markets became important for everyone from the ordinary citizen to the elites. This is a legacy that is still evident today in the way the Iraqi Government is run.”

The corrupt Government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is prepared to use violence in defence of its interests. One story is enough to illustrate this fact: Iraq judge Radhi al-Radhi, who was investigating corruption as head of the Iraqi Commission on Public Integrity, was forced to flee to the US in 2007 after 31 of his investigators were assassinated by al-Maliki’s men. The assassins also tortured 12 members of the investigators’ families by drilling holes into their bodies, before killing them, too.

In becoming more corrupt from top to bottom, Iraq has followed a familiar historical pattern. “There is plenty of evidence to show how war-torn or blockaded states often see increases in corruption as smuggling networks, black markets and extortion become a way of gaining and distributing resources. It was evident in Yugoslavia in the 1990s,” Moran said.

The Second Gulf War, and subsequent occupation of Iraq, made an already bad situation even worse. “To the existing corruption was added the effects of the chaotic and politicized US occupation,” Moran said. “Although US society has a highly developed system of legal and agency regulation of political and economic corruption – stronger than the UK, for example – in the highly charged ideological occupation of Iraq, this was ignored.

“A number of the basic rules of good governance, which the West often urges developing countries to adopt, such as controls on the disbursement of funds and strong auditing regimes, were missing. The journalist Patrick Cockburn has argued Iraq is the site of some of history’s biggest frauds.”

A third reason for corruption in Iraq is the poor security situation, said Moran. “The lack of basic security after 2003 fuelled violent crime. Basic services disappeared and everyone was forced to use contacts, and black markets and other desperate measures to simply get by.”

The origins of corruption in Afghanistan, Moran said, also have their antecedents in former war and occupation.

“Afghanistan already had a serious problem with corruption under the Soviet-backed governments of the 1970s and then after the Soviet invasion in the 1980s the country became a site of opium, arms smuggling and black markets,” he said.

The Taliban eradicated opium crops in 2000-2001, but their attitude to drugs has been inconsistent. “They were also not averse to trading it themselves and now they are using it to fund their insurgency,” said Moran. “Afghanistan has always been a major supplier of opium, but the war has created a surge in opium growth. Lack of security, corrupt local security, and the encouragement by the Taliban of opium-growing have all contributed.”

Ned Conway, a researcher at the Institute for Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies (MECACS) at the University of St Andrews, said the Taliban made money from opium by offering protection to narcotics networks. “The Taliban does not produce opium, but it collects taxes from everyone involved, including farmers, processors, all the way up to the drug barons and kingpins in Pakistan,” he said.

The Anglo-American security forces are too overloaded to fight corruption and prevent opium production.

“The ISAF are relatively thin on the ground and they are expected to do everything from fighting the Taliban, to promoting democracy, to training the police and army and providing local services and eradicating opium,” Moran said.

In his analysis of the corruption in Iraq and Afghanistan, Ned Conway, at the University of St Andrews, focuses on the direct role of Anglo-American money.

“There are two reasons why pouring billions of dollars into Iraq and Afghanistan has made them more corrupt,” he said. “Firstly, if the host government doesn’t have the institutions to make sure the money is accounted for, then people take advantage of the situation. We have members of government who receive bribes in return for contracts and contracting companies which never follow through on projects they were paid to complete.

“The second reason is these countries are incredibly dangerous. If inspectors do not have freedom of movement, so that they aren’t able to check up on a project’s progress in a high conflict area, implementing appropriate anti-corruption safeguards is very difficult.”  

It has become impossible to police the situation so that corruption has become a way of life. “The problem is mainly with the sub-contracting or sub-sub-contracting,” said Conway. “You may think you’re giving your money to company X to complete a project, but often there is a chain of sub-contracts before a shovel hits the earth, and all along the way, each sub-contractor takes a cut.”

Conway, however, has some sympathy with the innocent people caught up in the culture of corruption. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, it is to some degree expected. Take the Afghan Border Police officer who makes $130 a month. That is not enough to live on, so the individual is forced to find more ‘creative’ ways to support his family. Is it wrong? If you asked him, he would probably say that President Hamid Karzai is taking a much bigger piece of the pie, so why can’t he? On top of that, he probably won’t be caught. In fact, his boss might even encourage the behaviour.” 

Conway believes the Anglo-American occupation will leave different legacies in Iraq to Afghanistan.

“Iraq is in a much better situation than Afghanistan. Large groups of people have a voice now that was stunted under Saddam Hussein, and that voice for the most part manifests itself in the political arena, not in armed conflict. Iraq has its share of problems, and could fall back into true chaos, but more or less the country is much better off,” he said. 

“Afghanistan is more difficult. Its system of governance is doomed to fail. There is too much power in central government, not enough power in the provinces. There are also no industries that might ‘save’ the country, whereas in Iraq oil will guarantee money coming into the budget. Afghanistan wants to be a transit state for pipelines and for trade, but that is impossible as long as there is violence.”

THE MOST CORRUPT NATIONS:

  1. Somalia – 1.1 
  2. Myanmar – 1.4  
  3. Afghanistan – 1.4  
  4. Iraq – 1.5
  5. Uzbekistan – 1.6
  6. Turkmenistan — 1.6
  7. Sudan – 1.6
  8. Chad – 1.7
  9. Burundi – 1.8
  10. Equatorial Guinea – 1.9
  11. Angola –1.9
  12. Venezuela — 2.0
  13. Kyrgystan — 2.0
  14. Guinea — 2.0
  15. Democratic Republic of Congo — 2.0

 

Find more world corruption index figures and data on our new Corruption Perception Index database.

 

Jan Toporowski, chair of the department of economics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, analysed some common characteristics of corrupt countries;

Weak banking systems:                                

“It is difficult to generalise as the countries have different patterns of corruption. But countries at the bottom tend to have weak banking systems involving a lot of informal payments. A combination of weak laws, suspect payments and weak asset markets makes it difficult to do business. In countries like Uzbekistan, and many African countries, the rich elites want to increase their wealth, but the traditional sources of wealth – such as land – are not appreciating much. So these elites – in these resource-rich lands – turn to ‘informal’ ways of holding onto wealth,” he said.

Traditional societies:

“Iraq and Afghanistan may be democracies, but democracy is not the only factor. To avoid corruption, it’s important to have a modern ‘impersonal attitude’ to finance. This is what characterises modernity in terms of finance. It means people don’t get too attached to share certificates, or land. They sell on for a better price, or buy and sell against their assets. In the traditional societies of the Middle East, many people still store their wealth in gold and not many people borrow against their wife’s jewels.”

Developing countries:

“Most developed countries have been through a period of high corruption, before legal frameworks of accountability are put in place. Developing countries have huge inequalities of income, which leads to more corruption because people are envious of other people’s money. With more equal distribution of income, the incentive to make that extra bit of money through corruption is not there.”

Professor Toporowski says the long-term solution is modernisation of financial sectors. The emergence of a commercial middle-class, which uses modern bank accounts and modern systems of payment, would stop ‘informal’ approaches to business. 

“Education changes attitudes. They become educated by studying abroad to the US, or Britain, and taking back ideas which help their countries to modernize. We call them ‘modernising elites’. The education systems in the developing nations are important, too, in bringing about change. In this respect, Somalia is at a disadvantage as literacy is a recent thing there, whereas Myanmar is a relatively urbanised and relatively educated society, so we might expect change to occur more quickly there.”

And check out the Corruption Perception Index, new on the EconomyWatch.com Economic Statistics Database. 

 

(Quelle: EconomyWatch.com)