— The Erimtan Angle —

Archive for the ‘Africa’ Category

Libya: Five Years On

counterpunch_logo

Five years ago, Libya’s one-time strongman Muammar Gaddafi was brutally murdered and mutilated by NATO and its Islamist allies on the ground.[1] Now, the writer and commentator John Wight argues that “Gaddafi’s crime in the eyes of the West was not that he was an authoritarian dictator – how could it be when their closest ally in the region is Saudi Arabia? His crime in their eyes, it was revealed in a tranche of classified Clinton emails, released by Wikileaks in January of [2016], was his intention of establishing a gold-backed currency to compete with the euro and the dollar as an international reserve currency in Africa. In this regard the then French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and then US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, were key actors in pushing for NATO intervention. Libyan oil was also a factor”.[2]

sidney-blumenthal-l-hillary-clinton-r

On April Fools’ Day 2011, Sidney Blumenthal, former aide to President Bill Clinton, long-time confidante to Hillary Clinton, (as well as being a sometime journalist) e-mailed the following missive to Hillary Clinton, then-Secretary of State (21 January 2009 – 1 February 2013): “According to sensitive information available to . . . these individuals, Qaddafi’s government holds 143 tons of gold, and a similar amount in silver. During late March, 2011 these stocks were moved to SABHA (south west in the direction of the Libyan border with Niger and Chad); taken from the vaults of the Libyan Central Bank in Tripoli. This gold was accumulated prior to the current rebellion and was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency based on the Libyan golden Dinar. This plan was designed to provide the Francophone African Countries with an alternative to the French.franc (CFA)”. And then adding this important note: “(Source Comment: According to knowledgeable individuals this quantity of gold and silver is valued at more than $7 billion. French intelligence officers discovered this plan shortly after the current rebellion began, and this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya. According to these individuals Sarkozy’s plans are driven by the following issues: a. A desire to gain a greater share of Libya oil production, b.Increase French influence in North Africa, c. Improve his intemai political situation in France, d. Provide the French military with an opportunity to reassert its position in the world, e. Address the concern of his advisors over Qaddafi’s long term plans to supplant France as the dominant power in Francophone Africa)”.[3]

gaddafiepa1012_468x533

Blumenthal’s electronic missive purports that the driving force behind Gaddafi’s fall from grace and his subsequent bloody death was none other than the diminutive French President of Hungarian descent Nicolas Sarkozy, serving in the Élysée Palace between 16 May 2007 until 15 May 2012. As put by Wight, the “classified emails prove beyond any doubt that what took place in Libya was a monstrous crime for which those responsible have yet to be held accountable. On the contrary, Sarkozy is currently in the process of preparing a political return as French president, while Hillary Clinton is favorite to win the race for the White House against Republican nominee Donald Trump”, continuing that “[o]f the two, it is Clinton who was filmed clapping her hands and laughing at the news of Muammar Gaddafi’s murder in 2011. It is Clinton who pressed for the military intervention that ended in Libya’s destruction. And it is Hillary Clinton who has the gall to present herself as a moral giant in comparison to her rival for the US presidency”.[4]

qaddafi_3632276462_

 

 

[1] “Whither Libya??? The Execution of Gadhafi, the NTC, and a New Prime Minister” The Erimtan Angle (02 Nov 2011). https://sitanbul.wordpress.com/2011/11/02/whither-libya-the-execution-of-gadhafi-the-ntc-and-a-new-prime-minister/

[2] John Wight, “Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi” CounterPunch (21 Oct 2016). http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/21/hillary-clinton-and-the-brutal-murder-of-qaddafi/.

[3] “H: FRANCE’S CLIENT & Q’S GOLD. SID” ‘Hillary Clinton Email Archive’ WikiLeaks. https://wikileaks.org/clinton-emails/emailid/6528.

[4] John Wight, “Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi”.

Advertisements

Climate Change and Migration Patterns: Hitting the Fan

climate-change-agreement-cartoon-englehart

 

The journal Climate Change recently published a joint article entitled “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century”.[1] The collective of authors consists of the specialists Jos Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis and G. Zittis. And their conclusions are dire indeed, as summarized by the journalist Matt Atherton: “Up to 500 million people living in the Middle East and North Africa [MENA] could be forced to leave their homes because of extreme heat predicted in the near future, researchers have said. A study has found that these regions will become uninhabitable by the end of the century, when temperatures of up to 50C will become the norm during the summer months”.[2] Or, if you like a more scientific wording: “We conclude that the MENA is a climate change hotspot that could turn into a scorching area in summer. There is general consent that heat extremes impact human health, contribute to the spreading of food- and water borne diseases, and that more intense heat waves increase premature mortality. In the past, climate assessments of social and economic impacts due to changing weather extremes, including consequences for human security and migration, have often focused on storms, floods, droughts and sea level rise. It is increasingly recognized that hot weather extremes cause a loss of work capacity and aggravate societal stresses, especially for disadvantaged people and vulnerable populations (IPCC 2014). We anticipate that climate change and increasing hot weather extremes in the MENA, a region subject to economic recession, political turbulence and upheaval, may exacerbate humanitarian hardship and contribute to migration”.[3]

Jos Lelieveld

Jos Lelieveld, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and co-author of the above-quoted study,  said that “[i]n future, the climate in large parts of the Middle East and North Africa could change in such a manner that the very existence of its inhabitants is in jeopardy . . . Climate change will significantly worsen the living conditions in the Middle East and in North Africa. Prolonged heat waves and desert dust storms can render some regions uninhabitable, which will surely contribute to the pressure to migrate”.[4] Or, if you will, the present migration crisis in Europe is but the beginning of the real crisis that will surely happen as the century moves along into the near future . . . And at this juncture, the World Bank has also just released another report: “Water scarcity, exacerbated by climate change, could cost some regions up to 6% of their GDP by 2050, spur migration, and spark conflict, according to a new World Bank report High and Dry: Climate Change, Water and the Economy. The combined effects of growing populations, rising incomes, and expanding cities will see demand for water rising exponentially, while supply becomes more erratic and uncertain, the report finds, with these effects expected to be most pronounced in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia”.

 

World-Bank-Logo

[1] J. Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis & G. Zittis, “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century” Climate Change (25 March 2016). http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10584-016-1665-6.

[2] Matt Atherton, “Climate change: Middle East and North Africa to become uninhabitable forcing mass migration” IBT (03 MAy 2016). http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/climate-change-middle-east-north-africa-become-uninhabitable-forcing-mass-migration-1558023.

[3] J. Lelieveld, Y. Proestos, P. Hadjinicolaou, M. Tanarhte, E. Tyrlis & G. Zittis, “Strongly increasing heat extremes in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in the 21st century”, p. 13.

[4] Matt Atherton, “Climate change: Middle East and North Africa to become uninhabitable forcing mass migration”.

Sunday Surprise: The Panama Papers

CCTV_Africa_Logo

‘Governments across the world began investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful following a leak of documents from a Panamanian law firm. The documents allegedly show how clients avoided tax or laundered money. The documents detailed schemes involving an array of figures from friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin to relatives of the prime ministers of Britain, Iceland and Pakistan and as well as the president of Ukraine. Australia, Austria, Brazil, France and Sweden were among countries which said they had begun investigating the allegations. The documents were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and more than 100 other news organizations. Published on Apr 4, 2016’.

The funny thing is that the name Putin keep on being bandied about (even by the Chinese CCTV), in spite of the fact that the name does not seem to appear in the leaked papers . . . close associates. Meanwhile, David Cameron’s father is directly implicated as well as a host of other politicians from across the world. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) puts it like this: “Files reveal the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials from around the world” . . . “Current and former world leaders in the data include prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia” . . . “More than 214,000 offshore entities appear in the leak, connected to people in more than 200 countries and territories” . . . “Major banks have driven the creation of hard-to-trace companies in offshore havens”.[1] Still, the ICIJ also talks about “associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin” . . . . and adding that the “cache of 11.5 million records shows how a global industry of law firms and big banks sells financial secrecy to politicians, fraudsters and drug traffickers as well as billionaires, celebrities and sports stars. These are among the findings of a yearlong investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other news organizations. The files expose offshore companies controlled by the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the king of Saudi Arabia and the children of the president of Azerbaijan. They also include at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations like Hezbollah or rogue nations like North Korea and Iran. One of those companies supplied fuel for the aircraft that the Syrian government used to bomb and kill thousands of its own citizens, U.S. authorities have charged”, and adding that the “leaked data covers nearly 40 years, from 1977 through the end of 2015. It allows a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world — providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues. Most of the services the offshore industry provides are legal if used by the law abiding. But the documents show that banks, law firms and other offshore players have often failed to follow legal requirements that they make sure their clients are not involved in criminal enterprises, tax dodging or political corruption. In some instances, the files show, offshore middlemen have protected themselves and their clients by concealing suspect transactions or manipulating official records”.[2]

icij_untitled

But, the journalist Clark Mindock and David Sirota now also reveal that “U.S. President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton pushed for a Bush administration-negotiated free trade agreement that watchdogs warned would only make the situation worse”, “[y]ears before more than a hundred media outlets around the world released stories Sunday exposing a massive network of global tax evasion detailed in the so-called Panama Papers”.[3] These statements would indicate that, not Putin but rather, Obama should be wary of the recent leak . . . Mindock and Sirota explain that “[s]oon after taking office in 2009, Obama and his secretary of state — who is currently the Democratic presidential front-runner — began pushing for the passage of stalled free trade agreements (FTAs) with Panama, Colombia and South Korea that opponents said would make it more difficult to crack down on Panama’s very low income tax rate, banking secrecy laws and history of noncooperation with foreign partners. Even while Obama championed his commitment to raise taxes on the wealthy, he pursued and eventually signed the Panama agreement in 2011. Upon Congress ratifying the pact, Clinton [aka the Hillerator] issued a statement lauding the agreement, saying it and other deals with Colombia and South Korea ‘will make it easier for American companies to sell their products.’ She added: ‘The Obama administration is constantly working to deepen our economic engagement throughout the world, and these agreements are an example of that commitment.’ Critics, however, said the pact would make it easier for rich Americans and corporations to set up offshore corporations and bank accounts and avoid paying many taxes altogether”.[4]

FTA_rtr3azoh

And then, some of the names appearing in the leaks are Sergi Roldugin, Arkady Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg, (apparently close friends of Russia’s President), and the soccer star Lionel Messi and the Spanish director Pedro Almodovar (and brother Agustin Almodovar Caballero) and the Argentina President Mauricio Macri as well as Ivan Zamorano, a retired Chilean and Real Madrid soccer player, but also the actor Jackie Chan and the already-disgraced Michel Platini, the former President of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), but also Juan Pedro Damiani, member of the FIFA Ethnics Committee and also an Argentine former soccer player with Manchester United, Gabriel Iván Heinze, in addition to the UK PM’s old man, Ian Cameron, as well as former Spanish King Juan Carlos I’s sister Pilar de Borbon, and a certain Daniel Muñoz, aide to former Argentina presidents Cristina Fernandez de Kichner and Nestor Kichner. And then there are also the names of the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, and Juan Armando Hinojosa, the “favorite contractor” of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as a certain Néstor Grindetti, Mayor of the Lanús, Argentina (a town with a population of 212,152) and João Lyra, Member of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, and Alfredo Ovalle Rodríguez, intelligence agency associate in Chile as well as Pedro Delgado, former Governor of the Central Bank of Ecuador. In addition to the name Riccardo Francolini, the former chairman of the state-owned Savings Bank in Panama, and César Almeyda, the Director of Peru’s National Intelligence Service. And then there is a former Venezuelan commander-in-chief of the army known as Victor Cruz Weffer, as well as Jesús Villanueva, the former Director of Venezuela’s state-owned oil and gas company PDVSA, as well as Idalécio de Oliveira, potential briber of Brazil’s President of the Chamber of Deputies Eduardo Cunha. Another name is that of Javier Molina Bonilla, a former advisor to Ecuador’s Director of the National Intelligence Secretariat Rommy Vallej, and César Rosenthal, son of former Honduran Vice President Jaime Rosenthal. And the names of two Argentinean businessmen also implicated in the 2015 FIFA corruption case, Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, and yet another professional soccer player, Leonardo Ulloa.[5] But for some strange reason there seem to be no names of big-time American Capitalists and/or philanthropists on the lists, no Gates of Buffet, for one thing. Or, as asked on the website Slashdot, “Where are the US politicians and businessm[e]n?”.

[6] us-blog-post

[1] “Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption” ICIJ (03 April 2016). https://panamapapers.icij.org/20160403-panama-papers-global-overview.html.

[2] “Giant Leak of Offshore Financial Records Exposes Global Array of Crime and Corruption”.

[3] Clark Mindock and David Sirota, “Panama Papers: Obama, Clinton Pushed Trade Deal Amid Warnings It Would Make Money Laundering, Tax Evasion Worse” IBT (04 April 2016). http://www.ibtimes.com/panama-papers-obama-clinton-pushed-trade-deal-amid-warnings-it-would-make-money-2348076.

[4] Clark Mindock and David Sirota, “Panama Papers: Obama, Clinton Pushed Trade Deal”.

[5] “Panama Papers: Partial list of celebrities, government officials named in leak” Fox News Latino (04 April 2016). http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/news/2016/04/04/panama-papers-partial-list-celebrities-government-officials-named-in-leak/.

[6] “Panama Papers: Data Leak Exposes Massive Official Corruption” Slashdot (03 April 2016). https://politics.slashdot.org/story/16/04/03/2026258/panama-papers-data-leak-exposes-massive-official-corruption.

WikiLeaks: Operation Sophia

wl

On the WikiLeaks website the following announcement can be read: “Today, [Wednesday, ] 17 February 2016, WikiLeaks is releasing the classified report about the first six month of Operation SOPHIA, the EU military intervention against ‘refugee boats’ in Libya and the Mediterranean”.[i] And next, explaining that “[t]he report, dated 29 January 2016, is written by the Operation Commander, Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino of the Italian Navy, for the European Union Military Committee and the Political and Security Committee of the EU. It gives refugee flow statistics and outlines the performed and planned operation phases (1, 2A, 2B and 3), the corresponding activities of the joint EU forces operating in the Mediterranean and the future strategies for the operation. One of the main elements within the report is the planned, but still pending transition from Phase 2A (operating in High Seas) to Phase 2B (operating in Libyan Territorial Waters) due to the volatile government situation in Libya, where the building of a ‘Government of National Accord’ (GNA) is still under way. The report presses the responsible EU bodies to help speed up the process of forming a ‘reliable’ government in Libya that in return is expected to ‘invite’ EU forces to operate within their Territorial Waters (Phase 2B) and later even give permission to extend the EU military operations onshore (phase 3). In the last month there have been half a dozen high level meetings between EU and US officials (including with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome) as it is claimed by the US military that up to 5,000 Islamic State fighters have taken control over parts of the Libyan coast. Serious pressure has been placed on Libya’s major power groupings to speed up the completion of the GNA and ‘invite’ Western forces. A GNA invitation was expected in January. Libyan press has reported that US, UK and French special forces have already arrived (there is no public admission by the Western countries). Within Europe, Italy and the UK have been the driving forces behind the military intervention”.[2]

poster 1

In the report, Admiral Credendino declares that “[i]rregular migration across the Mediterranean Sea is continuing at a significant rate, with over 929,000 migrants arriving in Europe this year. However, since September [2015] we have seen two significant changes in the flow. Firstly there has been a reduction in the proportion of migrants using the central Mediterranean route as opposed to the eastern route. Prior to the start of the operation there was an even split between the people using the central route and the eastern route, whereas now 16% migrants use the central route, with almost 83% of migrants using the eastern route. Secondly, since September, for the first time in 3 years, we have seen a 9% reduction in the migrant flow using the central route. This is an encouraging decrease in the flow and should continue to be driven down through EUNAVFOR MED’s continued efforts. In October [2015], we successfully transitioned to phase 2A (High Seas), therefore for the first time having an effect on the smuggler and traffickers’ business model. For the autumn surge I had 16 assets (ships and air assets) under my command which were used to successfully provide a higher degree of deterrence against the smuggler and traffickers’ activities in international waters. Since the start of the operation, our actions have contributed to the arrest of 46 suspected smugglers and the disposal of 67 boats. Due to the effectiveness of phase 2A (High Seas), smugglers can no longer operate with impunity in international waters. They have to stay within Libyan Territorial Waters, as they otherwise would be apprehended by EUNAVFOR Med operation SOPHIA assets. My outreach activities have successfully contributed to an improved understanding and acceptance of the operation within the International Community. Since the start of the mission, I have met with very senior representatives from 6 different countries, 9 different EU organisations, 14 different international organisations, including the United Nations, the International Organisation for Migration, the ICRC and both the African Union and Arab League. During this reporting period I have consolidated my relationships with key interlocutors and I have seen a demonstrable improvement in their view of the operation. Moving forward, from a military perspective, I am ready to move to phase 2B in Libyan Territorial Waters, but there are a number of political and legal challenges that must be addressed before I can recommend such a transition. These include the legal finish in terms of our powers to apprehend suspected smugglers in Territorial Waters and who will prosecute any suspected smugglers detained there. We will also need to cooperate with and deconflict our activities with those of any other international missions that might operate within Libya once a Government of National Accord has been established. Critical to our exit strategy is a capable and well-resourced Libyan Coastguard who can protect their own borders and therefore prevent irregular migration taking place from their shores. Indeed, through the capability and capacity building of the Libyan Navy and Coastguard we will be able to give the Libyan authorities something in exchange for their cooperation in tackling the irregular migration issue. This collaboration could represent one of the elements of the EU comprehensive approach to help secure their invitation to operate inside their territory during Phase 2 activities. Moreover, training together during phase 2 could also be a key enabler to build confidence and facilitate the conduct of Phase 3 operations jointly with the Libyan authorities. Also, to avoid coordination problems within the AOO and prevent the risk of incidents, it is highly desirable that one single mission should be assigned the training task of the Libyan Navy and Coast Guard. In my view, EUNAVFOR MED could have an important role to play in this domain. This would of course, should the Member States agree to it, imply an amendment to the OPLAN. In conclusion, while still much needs to be done to disrupt the smugglers’ business model, EUNAVFOR MED has nonetheless achieved significant results in its first 6 months of its life. In this respect the main message to the International Community is that the EU is capable of launching a military operation in record time, displaying a strong resolve and remarkable unity of intent, as demonstrated by the 22 Member States participating in the operation “.[3]

enrico_credendino

Rather than offering a lasting solution to the current migrant crisis, the EU’s reaction called Operation Sophia primarily appears to be an exercise in containment, aimed at the ruthless individuals and gangs who have built up a viable “business model” to exploit desperate people fleeing either war and/or economic deprivation and ruin. The EU is now apparently cooperating closely with the U.S. in order to stem the flow yet unwilling to put a stop to the basically imperialist military and economic policies at the very root of the problem.

eunavfor_med_logo-mdpi

In fact, the Presidency of the Council of the European Union constituted by the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg released a press statement last year, which explained the rationale behind the whole operation: “[t]he EU naval operation against human smugglers in the Mediterranean will be able to board, search, seize and divert vessels suspected of being used for human smuggling or trafficking on the high seas, in line with international law. The Political and Security Committee also agreed that EU NAVFOR Med should be renamed “Sophia” after the name given to the baby born on the ship of the operation which rescued her mother on 22 August 2015 off the coast of Libya. The new name of the operation will be formally adopted by the Council at the earliest opportunity. The decision by the Political and Security Committee to launch the first step of phase 2 of the operation follows an assessment by the Council on 14 September that the conditions to move to this stage have been met. The Operation Commander Rear Admiral Credendino has judged the transition possible as member states provided the assets needed for this more active phase in the force generation conference of 16 September 2015 . . . The operation is aimed at disrupting the business model of human smuggling and trafficking networks in the Mediterranean and to prevent the further loss of life at sea. It is part of a wider EU comprehensive approach to migration, tackling both the symptoms and root causes such as conflict, poverty, climate change and persecution”.[4]

sophia_image

 

[1] “EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″ WikiLeaks (17 Feb 2016). https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/.

[2] EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA” – Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015″.

[3] “Executive Summary. EUNAVFOR MED – Operation SOPHIA Six Monthly Report: June, 22nd to December, 31st 2015” WikiLeaks release: (17 Feb 2016), pp. 3-4. https://wikileaks.org/eu-military-refugees/EEAS/EEAS-2016-126.pdf.

[4] “EUNAVFOR Med – EU agrees to start the active phase of the operation against human smugglers and to rename it ‘Operation Sophia'” Presidency of the Council of the European Union (28 September 2015). http://www.eu2015lu.eu/en/actualites/communiques/2015/09/29-eunavfor-med/index.html..

Het grote conflict gaat over mensbeelden

Jan Blommaert: “Een korte reflectie op de rampenzomer van 2015. Het mensbeeld dat ik hier centraal stel vind je vanaf de radicale Verlichting bij zowat elke gelijkheidsdenker, en dus ook (en wellicht in de meest heldere formulering) bij Marx. Het is ook het mensbeeld van de antislavernij beweging, van de vakbonden en van zowat alle echte bevrijdings- en emancipatiebewegingen”. (29 augustus 2015).  

President Barack Obama Interview – BBC News

‘In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC’s North American Editor Jon Sopel, US President Barack Obama said a lack of changes on US gun laws was the “greatest frustration” of his presidency. Mr Obama also told the BBC what he will say about gay rights in Kenya, why his own Congress and the Gulf nations should accept the recent Iran nuclear deal, and what he expects his legacy as president will be. Published on Jul 23, 2015’.

The World Today: Sisi or Dictatorship on the Nile

 ‘It’s nearly two years since General El­Sisi staged a coup in Egypt. Tariq Ali talks to Sameh Naguib, sociologist and leading member of Revolutionary Socialists, about the present situation in Egypt (9 June 2015)’.