Category Archives: religion

Classified Nord-Ost Unknown Details [updated]

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Golden Dawn Immigrants-Fake NeoNazi’s

All those links were sent to me on Twitter and I am more than glad to post them,I do beleive I will find more on those people due time.No threats allowed according to the WP policy or the HR declaration. So please stay vigilant of what you are going to post :)I checked all blog categories so that the post can get the most views possible. Regards!

“##Spiros Macrozonaris## IMMIGRANT Golden Dawn Deputy leader in Montreal, Canada” :

Facebook profile :

INTERESTING FACEBOOK POST MR. MACROZONARIS, HE CANNOT EVEN WRITE GREEK! BAD NAZI BAD! :

His NON 100% PURE GREEK son’s Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/macrozonaris?ref=ts&fref=ts

1. Greek Immigrant who married a “foreigner” >>>>>French-Canadian Doris Morrissette, they bore a son, Nicolas Macrozonaris (World-Class Sprinter – CANADIAN Olympian 🙂 ..who unfortunately is not 100% Pure Greek…

2. Conversations with Nicolas on Twitter, lead to nothing, he is ‘pretending’ that he has NO knowledge of what Golden Dawn supports and believes YET he states that he does not condone his fathers “actions”

Twitter @Macrozonaris TWEETER CONVERSATIONS with Nicolas –>

###### MUST WATCH #####
Video from CBC Montreal, from week of Oct 12th – INTERVIEW with Spiros Macrozonaris – next to him sits LOOSER Ilias Hondronicolas : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-3rbLI4K78

#Ilias Hondronicolas ———> on PHOTO second guy from the left :

#MORE HONDRONICOLAS:

(FRIENDS WITH ELENI ZAROULIA SHARING HER PHOTOS!)
( MUST SEE )

#MORE PAPAGEORGIOU:


True Oil Wars

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BAGHDAD2453 2007-07-25 05:57 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad

VZCZCXRO1627
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2453/01 2060557
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 250557Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
INFO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2415

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002453

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/23/2017
TAGS: ECON ENRG IZ PREL
SUBJECT: CODEL BURGESS MEETING WITH MINISTER OF OIL HUSAYN
AL-SHAHRISTANI

Classified By: ECONOMIC MINISTER CHARLES P. RIES FOR REASONS 1.5 (b) an
d (d)

¶1. (C). SUMMARY. On July 22, Congressmen Michael Burgess
(R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), Jim Jordan (R-OH), John Carter
(R-TX), Kevin Brady (R-TX), and David Davis (R-TN) met with
Minister of Oil Husayn al-Shahristani to discuss issues
related to the state of Iraq,s petroleum infrastructure,
plans to improve the infrastructure and revitalize petroleum
exploration and production. Minister Shahristani
acknowledged the important role of the petroleum industry in
Iraq,s economy and the need for passage of the
hydrocarbon-related laws as signaling Iraq,s emergence as a
dominant petroleum producing country. END SUMMARY.

¶2. (C). Minister Shahristani introduced the topic of the
status of Iraq,s petroleum industry by observing that the
industry provides 93% of the country,s budget; that of the
500 known potential petroleum-bearing geophysical structures,
only about 80 have been evaluated and expected to make up the
majority of the 115 billion barrel reserve; and that of these
80 structures, 10 are “super giants,” 10 are “giants,” and 10
are “very large” structures. He also stated that most of
these 80 structures are currently in production although
perhaps not being optimally produced at this time.
Shahristani also predicted that of the 500 known structures,
300 will eventually produce commercial quantities of oil.

¶3. (C). Shahristani observed that even though private oil
companies have not been willing to work in Iraq as a result
of the security situation, the state-owned oil companies have
been able to drill some new wells. He also noted that while
the level of oil production in the country has not risen as
he desired, the rising price oil has allowed Iraq to more or
less maintain a level income from exports.

¶4. (C). Shahristani noted successes in having new meters
installed in the southern export facilities, but also noted
that if problems occur, it is likely the fault of the
American company that required an extra year to complete the
project. He predicted no interruption in oil exports from
the southern facilities, unless problems arise between Iran
and the United States. He encouraged the United States and
Iran to continue their dialogue to solve issues that impact
Iraq.

¶5. (C). A member of the Congressional delegation, having
toured the Bayji oil refinery yesterday asked what
infrastructure improvements were needed to increase the
refinery,s production potential. Shahristani stated that
while foreign companies were not willing to work in Iraq due
to the current security situation, he has asked that they
supply needed equipment, for example for the hydrocracker.
He also stated that he is attempting to replace trained
workers, originally from the south of the country, who have
fled the sectarian violence of the area.

¶6. (C). When asked about the Ministry of Oil,s budget,
Shahristani stated that he had a budget of $2.2 billion. He
complained that the Ministry of Finance had delayed the
allocation of funds for the first quarter of the year and
those funds were not available until the end of March. In
any event, he noted that by the second quarter, he had been
able to spend 25% of his budget and expects to spend 85% of
his budget by the end of the year.

¶7. (C). Shahristani explained that the Council of Ministers
had approved and sent to the Council of Representatives a law
that would encourage investment in Iraq,s oil refineries; he
expected a third reading of this law to occur soon. He
expressed support for the Framework Hydrocarbon Law stating
that “all the right elements were present in the law” and
promised that he would be in the Council of Representatives
(CoR) to explain the law. He also stated that while he could
not predict what the lawmakers would do, he anticipated its
eventual passage. He noted that he had already prepared a
list of those fields to be drilled and produced first.

¶8. (C). A member of the delegation asked about Chinese
exploration and production contracts. Shahristani answered
by explaining that there was one contract in existence with
the Chinese, which was legitimate and was signed by the
previous regime to develop a small field just south of
Baghdad (Adhab) and would produce no more than 100,000
barrels per day of heavy crude. He explained that under the
current draft of the framework Hydrocarbon law, such
contracts must be reviewed and meet the conditions of the new
law. He also stated that this contract would have to be
amended and that the production from this field was not for
export, but rather to supply crude oil to a refinery planned
to be constructed in the area by the Chinese.

BAGHDAD 00002453 002 OF 002

¶9. (C). A member of the delegation asked if the Iraqi
people understood that they could become rich from the
development of their petroleum resources, if only they would
cooperate with each other. Shahristani responded that the
people will not understand the details of the various
hydrocarbon-related laws, but will follow the impressions
created by others and the media. He proceeded to explain
that several local media stations are supported by members of
Saddam,s regime, living mostly in Jordan now, and by the
Saudis and Emirates. He characterized as more damaging, the
influence of Al-Jazeera. He stated that, in his opinion,
Saudi Arabia feels threatened by the prospect of a
significant Iraqi contribution to the international oil
market; Iraq was not a threat to the Saudis as long as
exports remained no greater than 2 to 3 million barrels.

¶10. (C). When asked about exports in the north, Shahristani
noted that the exports brought in about $400,000 per day and
that the Bayji refinery has limited production capacity.
(Note: In the absence of more explanation that was not
provided to the delegation, this statement appears at odds
with the fact that the export pipeline to Turkey operates
only intermittently. Also, the Bayji refinery capacity is
limited primarily by unreliable electricity supply and
limited heavy fuel oil storage capability. End Note.)
Shahristani also noted that northern exports were at the
mercy of the security situation. He stated that the
Strategic Infrastructure Brigades (SIBs) were established by
a “leader of the insurgency” and that he informed the
multi-national forces of this fact. He also stated that
contrary to the opinion of the multi-national force
commanders, the SIBs cannot be retrained to an effective
status. Shahristani stated his expectation that a new effort
to contract with local tribal leaders for security of the
pipelines will be more effective and lead to a resumption of
northern exports in one to two months.

¶11. (C). Addressing Congressional benchmarks, Shahristani
said that he expected the Framework Hydrocarbon and Revenue
Management Laws to proceed in tandem to the CoR and will be
debated together. He assessed that the refinery investment
law, already in the CoR, will be passed soon. He stated that
the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has reservations about
the Revenue Management Law, but that KRG representatives will
be in Baghdad in a week, and that he expected the law will go
to the CoR within the next 2 to 3 weeks. He also stated
that, while no one has objection to the Revenue Management
Law in principle, Sunni factions were attacking it for
political reasons. Shahristani stated that there was also
strong Sunni opposition to the Framework Hydrocarbon Law, but
that he agreed with Ambassador Crocker that some Sunni
support for the law was needed.

¶12. (C). Shahristani was asked what he was doing to secure
the petroleum infrastructure in the event coalition forces
left Iraq. He responded that a withdrawal would not impact
the southern pipelines and other facilities since Coalition
Forces are not now protecting those facilities. As for the
northern facilities, he stated that the Bayji refinery could
be shut down, but that would have consequences equally
adverse for the insurgency.

¶13. (C). Shahristani reiterated that he was working hard to
meet the benchmarks, that half of the benchmarks were met and
that the other half could be met if government,s efforts
were supported by the Sunnis, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf
states. He requested that the USG pressure these other
entities to stop supporting the groups opposing Iraq,s
efforts to meet the remaining benchmarks.

¶14. (C). Minister Shahristani concluded the meeting with an
expression of determination that Iraq will export to the
world oil market “its fair share of resources.” He stated
that he wanted the American public to know that this conflict
was not about oil, but about Islamic fundamentalism. He also
stated that Al-Qaeda was a long-term problem for the world.

¶15. (C). CODEL Burgess did not have an opportunity to clear
this cable.

Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07BAGHDAD3071 2007-09-12 06:02 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Baghdad

VZCZCXRO4961
PP RUEHBC RUEHDA RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #3071/01 2550602
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120602Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3336
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 BAGHDAD 003071

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EPET EINV ENRG IZ
SUBJECT: HUNT OIL SIGNS AGREEMENT WITH KRG UNDER KRG OIL LAW

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. NOT FOR INTERNET DISRIBUTION. PROTECT
SOURCES.

This is a Kurdistan Regional Reconstruction Team (RRT) cable.

SUMMARY
——-

¶1. (SBU) The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) recently signed a
production sharing contract (PSC) with Hunt Oil Company that covers
oil exploration and production in “the Dohuk area.” Comments by
Hunt officials indicate that the block is actually in the Ninewa
Governorate’s northern administrative districts. The PSC marks the
first oil deal signed by the KRG, following enactment of the
Kurdistan Region’s hydrocarbons law on August 6, 2007. Considerable
legal ambiguity surrounds the PSC with Hunt Oil, as the districts in
northern Ninewa to be explored by the company are classified as
“disputed territories” under the Iraqi constitution. A senior Hunt
Oil manager told RRT Erbil’s Team Leader that northern Ninewa
province has significant potential for oil production, and that this
factor trumps the legal ambiguities and risks associated with the
company’s PSC with the KRG. The oil potential of northern Iraq
continues to attract significant investor interest. Several other
international energy companies are expected to announce oil deals
with the KRG during coming weeks. Despite the KRG’s aggressive
pursuit of foreign direct investment to develop the Kurdistan
Region’s hydrocarbons production potential, KRG Prime Minister
Nechirvan reiterated the KRG’s commitment to the federal hydrocarbon
revenue sharing agreement that allocates Iraq’s oil wealth to all
Iraqis on a per capita basis. Meanwhile, senior central government
officials expressed their dismay that the KRG enacted a regional
hydrocarbons law, and that the KRG continues to pursue oil
investment from foreign companies in advance of enactment of
comprehensive national hydrocarbons legislation. [NOTE: The ability
of regional governments to sign contracts has been among the key
issues of contention during negotiation of the national hydrocarbon
law. The KRG has reluctantly agreed, at times. to refrain from
finalizing agreements in advance of a national law, but have
maintained that they would not wait indefinitely for national
legislation to be approved by the Council of Representatives. END
NOTE.]

KRG Contract with Hunt in Disputed Territory
——————————————–

¶2. (SBU) On September 8, 2007, the KRG, Hunt Oil Company, and
Impulse Energy Corporation (IEC) jointly announced they had signed a
PSC covering petroleum exploration activities “in the Dohuk area of
the Kurdistan Region.” Hunt Oil’s General Manager for Europe,
Africa and the Middle East, David McDonald, told RRT Erbil’s Team
Leader on September 5 that the envisioned “Dohuk area” of operations
under the PSC consists of the administrative districts of northern
Ninewa province. McDonald did not disclose the exact areas in
northern Ninewa to be initially targeted for exploration by Hunt Oil
but he mentioned Shekkan and Akra as areas they had visited. While
the land to be explored by Hunt Oil has been behind the Green Line
of KRG control for many years and is occupied by a majority Kurdish
population who considers itself part of Dohuk Governorate, the area
falls within the legal boundaries of Ninewa province. Northern
Ninewa is “disputed territory,” according to the Iraqi federal
constitution, and the legal boundaries of the area are eventually to
be decided by a public referendum pursuant to Article 140 of the
federal constitution.

¶3. (SBU) During discussions with RRT Erbil’s Team Leader, McDonald
seemed less than fully informed about the potential ramifications of
Article 140 on Hunt Oil’s negotiations with the KRG. He did not
express concern about the potential controversy surrounding
signature of a PSC with the KRG that covers areas of operation
currently outside the KRG’s legal control. He said, “This is a
significant opportunity that outweighs the legal ambiguity.” Hunt
Oil CEO Ray Hunt also discounted the fact that the northern Ninewa
districts targeted under the PSC are not yet within the KRG’s
legally defined borders. He expressed satisfaction on September 8
that his company was “actively participating in the establishment of
the petroleum industry in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”

¶4. (U) Enactment of the KRG’s new oil law may have spurred
completion of the PSC with Hunt Oil. The PSC was announced shortly
after publication of the English translation of the new oil and gas
law on the KRG’s website. Before the law was enacted, only one PSC
had been signed for the Dohuk area – with DNO of Norway. That PSC
covered operations only within the legal boundaries of Dohuk
Governorate. Enactment of the KRG oil law and the subsequent
announcement of the deal with Hunt Oil may accelerate the signing of
PSCs with other international oil companies. Several are
reportedly on the verge of signing PSCs with the KRG during coming
weeks. Article 19 of the KRG law states that “the Federal
Government must not practice any new Petroleum Operations in the
disputed territories without the approval of [the KRG] until such
time as the referendum required by Article 140 of the Federal
Constitution is conducted.” Article 20, however, allows the KRG to

BAGHDAD 00003071 002 OF 003

sign PSCs with foreign oil companies in disputed territories, based
on articles 112, 115 and 121(3) of the Federal Constitution.

Potential Bonanza Trumps Legal Ambiguity
—————————————-

¶5. (SBU) While McDonald said Hunt Oil must conduct further
assessments about the speed and scope of their operational
activities in northern Ninewa, with decisions regarding the focus of
initial seismic tests to begin “by the end of October,” he was
optimistic about the oil potential of the region. McDonald said
portions of the topography in all three districts of northern Ninewa
bode well for oil exploration. He said, “It’s like shooting fish in
a barrel.” A Hunt Oil company spokesman in Dallas said the company
will begin geological survey and seismic work by the end of 2007,
with plans to be in a position to drill an exploration well in
¶2008.

KRG Boldly Enacts Regional Hydrocarbons Law…
———————————————

¶6. (U) The KRG deal with Hunt Oil marks the first PSC signed with a
foreign oil company following KRG enactment of the Oil and Gas Law
of the Kurdistan Region on August 6, 2007. Speaking of the KRG’s
rationale in passing a controversial regional hydrocarbons law while
a draft national oil and gas law remains intensely debated, KRG
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani told reporters on August 7,
“Successive governments in Iraq have deliberately left our oil in
the ground as an effort to keep our people [ethnic Kurds] poor and
to deny our aspirations for a better way of life. Today, with the
passage of this new Kurdistan Law in a federal Iraq, we know that
those days are gone.”
¶7. (U) While espousing the benefits of foreign direct investment in
the Kurdistan Region’s oil producing areas, Nechirvan acknowledged
federal constitution provisions that require any oil revenues
generated under the KRG’s hydrocarbons law to be shared equally with
all Iraqis. He confirmed the KRG intends to limit itself to its
constitutionally mandated share of national oil revenues, regardless
of whether the oil is sourced inside or outside the Kurdistan
Region. He said, “We will receive 17 percent of all revenues from
all oil production in all of Iraq.”
¶8. (U) KRG Minister of Natural Resources Ashti Hawrami echoed those
comments. Hawrami said on September 9, “We believe that the [KRG’s]
production-sharing agreements are the best way to move swiftly
forward and help not just the Kurds but all Iraqis.” He envisions
that the Kurdistan Region will produce one million barrels of oil
per day within five years. To achieve this goal, the KRG intends to
sign PSCs with other large international oil companies. On
September 9, Hawrami told Dow Jones, “I think we’ll be having an
announcement with a blue-chip company soon.”

While Criticizing Central Government Paralysis
——————————————— –

¶9. (SBU) Following passage of the KRG hydrocarbons law, KRG
officials recommitted themselves to the February 2007 national
hydrocarbons framework agreement. Nechirvan told RRT Erbil’s Team
Leader on August 28 that he hoped the new KRG law “would spur
movment in Baghdad” to enact a national hydrocarbons law. During
that meeting, however, Nechirvan expressed disappointment with
political developments in Baghdad and pessimism about “whether the
Sunnis and the Shi’a want to live together.” He said the KRG does
not want Iraq’s central government to “hold up development of
regional resources for another ten years.”

Arab Leaders Critical of KRG Oil Law
————————————
¶10. (U) Senior central government officials in Baghdad condemned the
oil deals signed by the KRG in advance of enactment of national
hydrocarbons legislation. Abdul Hadi al Hasani, Deputy Chairman of
the national parliament’s Energy Committee, said recently that such
contracts may be overturned by the federal government, though he
conceded that such a move could discourage potential foreign
investments in Iraq’s oil sector. Sami al Askari, a parliamentarian
and senior advisor to Prime Minister al Maliki, told reporters on
September 7 that a federal oil and gas council to be formed under
the national hydrocarbons law could decide whether to rescind the
KRG’s handful of oil contracts with foreign investors. In a
concession to the reality that foreign direct investment in Iraq’s
oil infrastructure remains both valuable and scarce, the
parliamentarians said the private firms that signed deals with the
KRG should not be blocked from winning future oil contracts in
Iraq.

COMMENT
¶11. (SBU) USG policy has discouraged companies from signing oil
deals with the KRG until Iraq enacts its national hydrocarbon
framework law, as such regional contracts could act as an impediment
to negotiations toward a comprehensive national settlement that
equitably distributes Iraq’s oil wealth. Such contracts also remain
subject to significant legal ambiguity. This has not deterred Hunt
Oil and the other handful of companies that have signed PSCs with

BAGHDAD 00003071 003 OF 003

the KRG. Their concerns about the nebulous political environment
and possible eventual dissolution of their PSCs have been overridden
by the prospect of huge profits – from getting first access to the
choicest oil exploration fields in northern Iraq, and from
establishing productive relationships with key KRG and central
government officials. The potential pitfalls are especially acute
in cases (e.g. Hunt Oil and its junior partner IEC) where investors
will commence operations in disputed territories. It remains
doubtful that the KRG was legally entitled to enter into a binding
contract with Hunt Oil that covers oil exploration and eventual
hydrocarbons production in an area (i.e. northern Ninewa province)
that the KRG does not legally control. Legal considerations aside,
the KRG’s actions complicates enactment of a national hydrocarbons
law.
BUTENIS

 


US, UK munitions ‘cause birth defects in Iraq’

Iraqi women wait with their sick children at a Baghdad hospital.(AFP Photo / Karim Sahib)

Iraqi women wait with their sick children at a Baghdad hospital.(AFP Photo / Karim Sahib)

US and UK weapons ammunition were linked to heart defects, brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs, according to a recent study. The report revealed a shocking rise in birth defects in Iraqi children conceived after the US invasion.

Titled ‘Metal Contamination and the Epidemic of Congenital Birth Defects in Iraqi Cities,’ the study was published by the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. It revealed a connection between military activity in the country and increased numbers of birth defects and miscarriages.

The report, which can be found here, also contains graphic images of Iraqi children born with birth defects. (The images were not published on RT due to their disturbing content.) It documents 56 families in Fallujah, which was invaded by US troops in 2004, and examines births in Basrah in southern Iraq, which was attacked by British forces in 2003.

The study concluded that US and UK ammunition is responsible for high rates of miscarriages, toxic levels of lead and mercury contamination and spiraling numbers of birth defects, which ranged from congenital heart defects to brain dysfunctions and malformed limbs.

Fallujah, around 40 miles west of Baghdad, was at the epicenter of these various health risks. The city was first invaded by US Marines in the spring of 2004, and then again 7 months later. Some of the heaviest artillery in the US arsenal was deployed during the attack, including phosphorus shells.

A round lights up the night-sky before a U.S. bombardment over the Iraqi city of Falluja at the beginning, November 8, 2004.(Reuters / Eliana Aponte)
A round lights up the night-sky before a U.S. bombardment over the Iraqi city of Falluja at the beginning, November 8, 2004.(Reuters / Eliana Aponte)

Shocking findings

Between 2007 and 2010 in Fallujah, more than half of all babies surveyed were born with birth defects. Before the war, this figure was around one in 10. Also, over 45 percent of all pregnancies surveyed ended in miscarriage in 2005 and 2006, compared to only 10 percent before the invasion.

In Basrah’s Maternity Hospital, more than 20 babies out of 1,000 were born with defects in 2003, 17 times higher than the figure recorded in the previous decade.

Overall, the study found that the number of babies in the region born with birth defects increased by more than 60 percent (37 out of every 1,000 are now born with defects) in the past seven years. This rise was linked to an increased exposure to metals released by the bombs and bullets used over the past decade.

Hair samples of the population of Fallujah revealed levels of lead in children with birth defects five times higher than in other children, and mercury levels six times higher. Basrah children with birth defects had three times more lead in their teeth than children living in areas not struck by the artillery.

The intense fighting in Iraq led by the US and UK is not the only thing that harmed children in cities like Fallujah and Basrah – a new study revealed a shocking rise in birth defects in children conceived after the invasion. (AFP Photo / Odd Andersen)
The intense fighting in Iraq led by the US and UK is not the only thing that harmed children in cities like Fallujah and Basrah – a new study revealed a shocking rise in birth defects in children conceived after the invasion. (AFP Photo / Odd Andersen)

The study found a “footprint of metal in the population,” Mozhgan Savabieasfahani, one of the lead authors of the report said. Savabieasfahani is an environmental toxicologist at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

“In utero exposure to pollutants can drastically change the outcome of an otherwise normal pregnancy. The metal levels we see in the Fallujah children with birth defects clearly indicates that metals were involved in manifestation of birth defects in these children,” she said.

The study’s preliminary findings, released in 2010, led to an in-depth inquiry on Fallujah by the World Health Organization (WHO), the results of which will be released next month. The inquiry is expected to show an increase in birth defects following the Iraq War.

According to the WHO, a pregnant woman can be exposed to lead or mercury through the air, water and soil. The woman can then pass the exposure to her unborn child through her bones, and high levels of toxins can damage kidneys and brains, and cause blindness, seizures, muteness, lack of coordination and even death.

US and UK ‘unaware’ of rise in birth defects

US Defense Department responded to the report by claiming that there are no official reports indicating a connection between military action and birth defects in Iraq.

“We are not aware of any official reports indicating an increase in birth defects in Al Basrah or Fallujah that may be related to exposure to the metals contained in munitions used by the US or coalition partners,” a US Defense Department spokesperson told the Independent. “We always take very seriously public health concerns about any population now living in a combat theatre. Unexploded ordnance, including improvised explosive devises, are a recognized hazard.”

An UK government spokesperson also said there was no “reliable scientific or medical evidence to confirm a link between conventional ammunition and birth defects in Basrah. All ammunition used by UK armed forces falls within international humanitarian law and is consistent with the Geneva Convention.”

 


Taliban reiterate vow to kill Pakistani girl if she survives

People hold candles and pictures of Malala Yousufzai, who was shot on Oct 9, 2012 by the Taliban for speaking out against the militants and promoting education for girls, at a school in Lahore October 12, 2012. (Reuters photo)
RAWALPINDI: The police said on Friday that they had made several arrests in connection with the Taliban’s shooting of Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year-old education activist who was critically injured, but militant commanders in northwestern Pakistan reiterated their intention to kill the schoolgirl or her father.

After Friday prayer, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf visited Yousafzai’s family at a heavily guarded military hospital in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where doctors were considering whether to send her abroad for treatment.

“The next 48 hours will be critical,” Ashraf told reporters. Extremists targeted Yousafzai, who was shot in the head while riding in a school bus on Tuesday in Mingora, because, he said, “they were scared of the power of her vision.”

“She is the true face of Pakistan,” he added.

Taliban reiterate vow to kill Pakistani girl if she survivesThe interior minister, Rehman Malik, said the authorities had  identified the two gunmen behind the shooting, but they had not been captured. Police officials in the Swat Valley, where the attack took place, said that they had rounded up about 70 people for questioning, including employees of Yousafzai’s school and the bus driver, and that some of them had been formally arrested.

Afzal Khan Afridi, the Mingora police chief, declined to specify the number of people arrested or what role they were suspected of playing in the shooting, saying he said he did not want to endanger the investigation.

A 15-year-old girl who was wounded alongside Yousafzai described how easily the Taliban had been able to attack the school bus. “A young man in his early 20s approached the bus and asked for Malala,” the girl, Kainat Riaz, said in an interview at her family’s home in Swat. “Then he started firing.”

The fate of Yousafzai, who has become a symbol of defiance of the Taliban’s extremist ideology, has gripped Pakistan. Television stations have provided intensive coverage of her medical treatment, and leaders from across the nation’s political and religious spectrums have united in condemning the attack.

A senior official from Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest religious party, accompanied Ashraf to the hospital. So did the parliamentary leader of the secular Muttahida Qaumi Movement, which dominates Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi.

In an interview with CNN on Thursday, the foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, described the attack as a traumatic “wake-up call” that could prove to be a turning point in Pakistan’s war against extremism.

The army is directing efforts to save Yousafzai, who is on a ventilator. Government officials have estimated her chances of survival at 50 to 70 per cent.

Some analysts have speculated that the army could leverage the unusually strong criticism of the Taliban in this case to begin a new military operation in the tribal belt, but others said the uproar would not ultimately lead to a crackdown.

The shooting embarrassed the army because it had claimed to have largely eliminated the Taliban from the Swat Valley after a major military operation in 2009. Yet Riaz described how the gunmen stopped their bus, which was carrying about 16 students, in the center of Mingora, which is the valley’s main town and is near a military checkpoint.

Riaz, contradicting earlier reports, she said that the attackers were not masked and that the gunmen did not board the bus, but opened fire from outside after identifying Yousafzai.

A third student who was wounded, Shazia Ramzan, is at a hospital in Peshawar. Riaz said that her family had left the valley but returned after the 2009 military operation, and that she had been studying for two years.

“We were feeling good because there was no sign of the Taliban,” she said as two police officers stood guard outside her home.

Sirajuddin Ahmad, the spokesman for the Taliban in the Swat Valley, said that Yousafzai became a target because she had been “brainwashed” into making anti-Taliban statements by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.

“We warned him several times to stop his daughter from using dirty language against us, but he didn’t listen and forced us to take this extreme step,” he said.

Both father and daughter remain on the Taliban’s list of intended victims, he said.

©2011 The New York Times News Service

 


Lawless Land : Libya



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Published on Apr 23, 2012 by journeymanpictures

Divided Libya awaits election results amid ongoing violence

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Gaddafi may be gone but Libya is now a country in chaos. Rebel groups are flush with weapons and taking the law into their own hands, persecuting those thought to have been allied to Gaddafi’s regime.

Libya’s power vacuum has been filled by heavily armed rebels who still control much of the war-torn nation. Images of the sprawling refugee camps reveal the extent of the country’s destroyed infrastructure. Mohammed Swehli, a commander of one of the major Misratan Rebel Brigades, denies the widespread allegations of torture and abuse. “They’re not bandits, they’re not militia groups”, he says of the rebels. But video after video has emerged of the torture of perceived Gaddafi loyalists, most of them far too gruesome to broadcast. In some cases the brutal treatment appears to be based solely on the colour of the victim’s skin. This report gained rare access to the prisons where thousands are being held indefinitely without charge. One former prisoner shows pictures of his injuries. “This is when they beat me with electric cables. They called me slave”, he says. With upcoming elections and new fears over a split between the country’s east and west, what does the future hold for post-revolution Libya?

A Film By SBS
Distributed By Journeyman Pictures
April 2012


Africa: Transcript – Ambassador Johnnie Carson On the Situation in Mali and the Sahel, Somalia and the DRC

The Obama administration is contemplating broad military, political and humanitarian intervention to stop a slide toward chaos and Islamic extremism in Mali, the top State Department diplomat for Africa said Thursday.

The international but largely U.S.-funded effort to expunge al-Qaeda-linked militants and restore political order in Somalia could present a model for Mali, Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Johnnie Carson said.

Since 2007, the United States has spent more than $550 million to help train and supply an African proxy force of about 18,000 soldiers in Somalia, which has brought a measure of stability to the war-torn country for the first time in two decades.

Although the United States has not committed to replicating that approach in Mali, Carson and others are holding up the routing of the al-Shabab militia and conducting of elections in Somalia as a template for actions elsewhere.

“It’s a model that should be reviewed and looked at as an element for what might be effective in that part of the world,” Carson said in an interview, “but it’s not there yet.”

The Somalia comparison offers the clearest view yet of U.S. thinking about the growing terrorism threat from Mali, a landlocked West African country the size of Texas that has imploded politically since a military coup in March.

As in Somalia, the threat to the United States and other countries from Mali is wrapped in a larger problem of lawlessness, poverty, tribal friction and weak governance.

Somalia adopted a provisional constitution in August, and a new federal government was formed after years of chaos that had fueled terrorism, piracy and famine. Security has slowly improved under the proxy force, which is led by the African Union but bankrolled and trained by the United States, European Union and United Nations.

Carson said the internationally backed plan for Somalia’s political reconstruction was working because the country’s neighbors, the United States, E.U. and United Nations had subscribed to a common set of goals.

He cautioned that a regional and international consensus would be required for the approach to work in Mali. “There needs to be that kind of a clear understanding there as well,” he said.

Mali’s military quickly lost control of the country after the March coup, which was led by a U.S.-trained army captain. Since then, Islamist militias affiliated with al-Qaeda have imposed strict Sharia law in northern Mali and, along with Tuareg rebels, declared an independent state. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled their homes.

Last week, the remnants of Mali’s central government, France and west African nations led calls at the United Nations for the creation of an African-led force to help Mali confront the militants.

The Economic Community of West African States has said it is willing to send about 3,300 troops to Mali if it gets the backing of the United Nations and Western countries.

The United States has been leery of a French-backed proposal for quick deployment of an internationally backed African force in Mali, preferring a more comprehensive plan that addresses underlying political problems and tribal divisions.

“We want to make sure that it is an African-led international response, and also be very clear that whatever is done out there should in fact be well planned, well organized and well financed,” Carson said.

The U.S. diplomat has also said that it is important to enlist support from Mali’s northern neighbors, especially Algeria and Mauritania, which share a long border with the troubled country and have also fought their own long-running Islamist insurgencies.

U.S. officials have ruled out sending American combat troops to Mali but have said the Obama administration could help train, equip and transport an intervention force drawn from other African countries.

“There will be a need for some type of security response,” Carson said, adding that the United States could support one if it is drawn up correctly.

Africa: Transcript – Ambassador Johnnie Carson On the Situation in Mali and the Sahel, Somalia and the DRC

document

The top United States diplomat for Africa has acknowledged that military action will be needed to break the control of northern Mali by … ( Resource: U.S. Acknowledges Need for Military Action in Mali

New York,New York — Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson held a briefing at the New York Foreign Press Center during which he discussed the situation in Mali and the Sahel, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and answered questions from journalists.

MODERATOR: Good afternoon to everyone from the Africa Regional Media Hub of the United States Department of State. And good morning to those joining us from the U.S. I would like to welcome all of our participants. Thank you for joining us. Our speaker today is Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Ambassador Carson will brief us on U.S. foreign policy in Africa as it pertains to the current situation in Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mali and the Sahel.

We will begin today’s call with remarks from our speaker and then open it up to your questions. To ask a question, please press *1 on your phone and you will be placed in the question queue. As a reminder, today’s call is on the record and will last approximately 45 minutes. And now, I will turn it over to Ambassador Johnnie Carson.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Yvonne, thank you very much for the warm introduction, and thank you all for participating in this briefing. I would like this morning to talk about the U.S. participation in last week’s UN General Assembly, where there was significant discussion and debate on issues related to the situation in Mali and the Sahel, Somalia, Sudan, and the Eastern Congo. I’d also like to give you a briefing on some of the Secretary’s activities and some of our own engagement.

Last week was an extraordinarily busy week at the UN on African-related issues. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hosted no less than four regional conferences on Africa – on Sahel, Somalia, Sudan, and the Eastern Congo. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in two of those sessions, one dealing with Sahel and Mali and a second one dealing with Somalia. The U.S. Government was represented at senior levels in the Sudan discussions and in the Eastern Congo, DRC, Rwanda discussions.

In addition, the Secretary of State met in a trilateral meeting with President Kabila of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and also participating was President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. On Friday afternoon, the Secretary also met with Sudanese officials, including Foreign Minister Ali Karti from Khartoum. The Secretary also participated in sessions on HIV/AIDS hosted by the head of UNAIDS and also a session on food security, where we are also very much engaged.

Let me talk briefly about the four key areas under discussion last week that the Secretary General hosted and talk about where our policy is with respect to each of those four areas. First on Mali and the Sahel, we in the United States are deeply concerned about the ongoing situation in Mali. We think that Mali is an enormously complicated situation, comprising four separate problems that are interrelated. One is an issue of governance and the need for a return to a civilian elected creditable government, which does not exist and has not existed since the coup d’etat that took place in March of 2012.

Second is a political issue related to the Tuareg. That is an issue of political marginalization and a government which has not provided economic and social services to a minority community in northern Mali. The Tuareg feel politically marginalized; this has been a historical problem that dates back prior to Mali’s independence, and it must be resolved politically – not militarily but politically.

Third is a very serious problem, a problem that affects Mali and affects the neighboring states as well, and this is the issue of terrorism – terrorism carried out by AQIM – al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb Ã? as well as another associated group, MUJAO. Both of these groups have been responsible for the desecration of historical writings and buildings and artifacts in Timbuktu. They are responsible for trying to impose Sharia law on various parts of northern Mali. They are responsible for terrorism, for kidnapping, and for robbery. This is an issue that must be dealt with through security and military means.

And the fourth problem in Mali is the issue of the humanitarian situation. Always a food deficit region, it has been further impacted by the failure of rains sufficient this year to meet the needs of the community and by a growing refugee population displaced as a result of the al-Qaida and MUJAO activities in northern Mali. So four very complex problems.

Secretary General Ban Ki-moon proposed that the UN establish a position of special envoy to deal with this issue, to coordinate UN activities, to work with the regional governments, and to work with others in the international community. He also said that there would be a strategy developed by the UN that would take into account strategies being worked on by ECOWAS and others in the region. We support the establishment of a UN Secretary General Special Representative for Mali and the Sahel. We support the coordination efforts that would be under this individual. We support the development of a broad-based and comprehensive strategy. And we support the establishment of some kind of a core group or working group that will integrate the work of ECOWAS, Algeria, Mauritania, and Chad – and those three countries are not a part of ECOWAS but have great interest in the situation – as well as the United States, the European Union, France, Great Britain, and Germany, who also have interests there.

So we’re very much focused on the Sahel. We think that some progress was achieved with this meeting, and we hope that the Secretary General will move swiftly to mount a special envoy for the region.

The second major issues under focus was Somalia. Secretary Clinton also participated in this meeting. Somalia is a good news story for the region, for the international community, but most especially for the people of Somalia itself. Over the past 12 months we have seen the completion of the transitional roadmap ending the TFG and creating a new Somali Government. For the first time in nearly two decades, Somalia has a new provisional constitution. It has a newly selected parliament which is half the size of the former parliament and comprises some 18 percent women and whose membership is comprised of some 60 percent university graduates. There’s been a new speaker selected and a new president elected. Great progress has been achieved in Somalia, and this is in large measure because of the combined efforts of IGAD, the African Union, the UN and the international community, and especially the United States.

At this meeting, we heard from Somalia’s new president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and it was broadly agreed that the international community would support the new emphasis in priorities of the government.

For our part in Washington, we are determined to do three things. One is to help the new government put in place the infrastructure so that it can run effectively. This means helping to create effective government ministries, have those ministries staffed with effective civil servants and advisors so that they can carry out their government functions.

The second is to help to create a new Somali national army, an army that is subservient to civilian and constitutional control, an army that is able to work alongside of AMISOM and take on increasingly new responsibilities that are much broader than anything AMISOM has been equipped and manned to do. But creating a new strong Somali army, to eventually replace AMISOM is a second priority. And third priority is to provide assistance to the government so that it can deliver services to the people so that it can rebuild and refurbish and re-staff schools, hospitals, and medical clinics, provide assistance so that it can begin to deal with some of its smaller infrastructure issues, providing clean water to populations, helping to restore electrical power and also opening up markets. We also want to help in developing small enterprise and microcredit operations to help the government as well.

So we will be working there. As I said, Secretary Clinton was there. We think Somalia has made enormous progress. We also believe there has been significant military progress against al-Shabaab. AMISOM deserves an enormous amount of credit in driving al-Shabab out of Mogadishu and its environs and also moving against the city of Kismayo. Much credit for the operations in Kismayo go to the Kenyan forces who were a part of AMISOM, but we must praise the leadership of the Ugandan commanders who have led the AMISOM mission over the last four years. But Uganda, Burundi, Djibouti, Kenya all deserve credit, and they will soon be joined by forces arriving literally today and tomorrow from Sierra Leone to help strengthen AMISOM. But the international community has been in unison with IGAD and the AU, and the U.S. has been a significant and major contributor to this effort.

On Sudan, the third issue which was brought up and hosted by Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon – we have seen very great progress there in the last three days. On Thursday evening in Addis Ababa, we saw an agreement signed by President Salva Kiir of South Sudan and President Bashir of Sudan to help resolve a number of outstanding issues related to oil, to revenue sharing, to citizenship, to pensions, and to debt. We recognize that there are a number of issues still outstanding related to Abyei, related to political consultations with respect to Blue Nile and South Kordofan, and to the important issue of humanitarian access to South Kordofan and Blue Nile, particularly in the Nuba Mountains. But progress has been made there in reducing tensions, reopening the borders, and getting those countries back to a position where we can see two viable states living in peace internally as well as with one another. So much discussion on Sudan. We were represented a high level at those meetings by Under Secretary for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, and we think progress has been forged there.

On the Eastern Congo, the last issue that was of great focus in New York last week, there was a meeting that brought together all of the regional Great Lakes states, including Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi, but most importantly Eastern Congo with President Kabila and the DRC, with – sorry – and with Rwanda with President Kagame. Our objectives and the objectives of that conference were to do everything possible to reduce the tensions that exist between Rwanda and the DRC, and to restore trust and confidence between the leaders there, and to do as much as possible to help in the recurring violence that persists in the Eastern Congo, largely as a result of the incursion and the rebellion of the M23.

There, we are calling on all states not to support the M23 rebels; to denounce their activities publicly and to contribute as much as possible to the resolution of the problems in the DRC. We believe that it is absolutely critical that the countries in the region respect the sovereignty and the borders of their neighbors, that they not engage in supporting rebel activities across the borders, and that everyone take responsibilities for their action, the protection of their citizens and their resources, the protection of those people who are in their countries, and that they not, in effect, undermine the sovereignty and stability of regional states.

IIIÃ ll stop right there and take your questions.

OPERATOR: Thank you, Ambassador Carson. We are now ready for the question-and-answer portion of our call. To ask a question, please press *1 on your phone. Please state your name and affiliation before you ask your question. And our first question comes from Drew Hinshaw with the Wall Street Journal.

QUESTION: Hi, good afternoon. I wanted to ask – I was hoping you could elaborate a little bit on the outcome of the UN summit. You mentioned that the UN is drafting a strategy that will take into account the strategy being drafted by ECOWAS. I was wondering if you could elaborate. Is it fair to say that the UN is now the primary author of the strategy going forward? Are they working with what ECOWAS has already written? Has ECOWAS presented the broad outlines of a strategy yet? But —

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Thank you for the question. I think that the UN will try to coordinate effectively with all of the players in the region. ECOWAS clearly has a very important role to play. Many of its member states are neighbors of Mali. But we also have to recognize that there are other states in the region that have borders with Mali, whose views also need to be taken into account. And we also must recognize that there is an international dimension to this issue, and so there are reasons to make sure that the wider views of the international community are there.

ECOWAS has played a very valuable and important leadership role, but it is important to make sure that the views of Algeria are included. Algeria has a long border and history and relationship with Mali. The views of Mauritania are also critical, valuable, and important. They too share long borders with Mali. And in fact, Libya also is a critical player because they too have shared borders and shared interests there. All three of those countries – Algeria, Mauritania, and Libya – are not a part of ECOWAS. And in addition, countries like Chad have an interest and they are not a part of ECOWAS. The United States, France, the European community also are concerned about the situation there, and their views should be taken into account.

I stress that in the case of Somalia, where we have seen enormous progress over the last 12 months, and in fact, continuously over the last three, three and a half years, there has been a clear commitment by all who were engaged there to follow a common strategy and adopt a set of common views. EGAD and the East African community, who are the most important players around Somalia, the AU, the U.S., the UN and others have all had a common position. And I think that’s why Somalia has achieved so much success over the last 12 months in terms of moving to a more permanent government and making the strides in success against al-Shabaab. We look to try to have the same kind of both regional and international cooperation on Mali.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from the U.S. Mission in Kampala. Please state your name and your affiliation.

QUESTION: I am Julius Odeke from Kampala. I work with The Independent magazine. My question to Assistant Secretary is that initially, America was looking for a base to be stationed in Africa, but they recently they said they will not do that. Is that a sign that America is withdrawing from its military engagement in Africa?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Julius, thank you very much for your question. I think you are referring to AMISOM, and I can say that there is at this moment no – and I repeat, no – intention to have an AMISOM headquarters located in Africa. AMISOM is located in Germany, and at this point its headquarters is likely to remain – sorry – I’m sorry – AFRICOM. I’m saying AMISOM; I should have said AFRICOM. AFRICOM is located in Stuttgart, Germany, and there’s no intention to move the AFRICOM headquarters outside of Germany at this point. I said AMISOM; I meant to say AFRICOM.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Tanzania. Please state your name and your affiliation.

QUESTION: My name is (inaudible). I work for the Tanzania (inaudible) newspaper. My question first of all is about the shift of America’s – or U.S. foreign policy. We have seen a lot of attention paid to Africa. We want to know whether there is any serious concern that what is going to be achieved is going to have an impact on the development of the region. Thank you.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Yes. Thank you very much for the question from Tanzania. The United States has just recently published a new strategy for Africa. It was published in June of this year and is available on both the White House and the State Department website. That strategy for Africa is very clear. It says that we want to develop our friendship with Africa based on mutual respect, mutual interest, mutual responsibility. We want to base it on a partnership and not patronage. We want to elevate Africa’s importance in the international arena and we want to achieve – work with Africa to achieve four strategic objectives.

One is to strengthen democratic institutions and good governance. The second is to spur economic growth, investment, and trade between the United States and Africa. But we also want to help spur economic growth and trade amongst African states as well. Third, we want to help to bring about greater peace and security across the African continent. And in this area we continue to work with the international community – the UN, and others – to bring about greater peace and stability in places like Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan, and the Eastern Congo. And we will continue to work towards promoting peace, security, and stability in Africa. And fourthly, we want to work to help promote development and greater opportunity for all of AfricaaaÃ?s citizens, and there we will continue to focus on a number of priorities under the Obama Administration, including but not inclusive or exclusively working on things like Feed the Future, which is a program to help promote a green agricultural revolution across Africa, to end food insecurity, to grow agro industry.

And we will also work on public health issues through our Global Health Initiative, working to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, cholera, and to help build Africa’s public health institutions so that they are better able to provide services to their people. But we will do this through our USAID missions, we will do this through our centers for disease control, we will do this through the Millennium Challenge Corporation which provides multimillion dollar grants that are used to deal with major economic development and infrastructure challenges. But those are the four things that we will continue to work on.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Kigali, Rwanda. Please state your name and affiliation.

QUESTION: Thank you very much, Ambassador Carson. My name is Edmund (inaudible). I work for the East African Nation Media Group. My question is about the Congo. I saw in the news in the morning that the U.S. Government has asked Rwanda to denounce M23 rebels. It appears there’s no one asking the DRC Government to address its internal issues, particularly the ones M23 are fighting for. I believe some of the issues they are asking the DRC Government to address are legitimate. So the way forward now, what is the position of the U.S. Government towards the issues inside the DRC? Are we going to see the U.S. Government asking DRC to address the issues now that we see in the papers that (inaudible) speaking Congolese feel that a genocide will happen soon? Thank you.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Thank you very Ã? Edmund. Thank you very much for that question from Kigali. First of all, our desire is to see peace and security and development in the Eastern Congo just as we see peace and security and development occurring in Rwanda, in Uganda, in Tanzania, and other neighboring states in the Great Lakes. We seek for the people of the Eastern Congo what you enjoy in Kigali, what people enjoy in Tanzania, in Lusaka, in Kampala.

Each of these states in the region have responsibilities, and their leaders have responsibilities. In the DRC, President Kabila clearly has the responsibilities. His challenges are great, but his responsibilities are equally important. President Kabila, amongst other things, must in fact protect all of the Congolese citizens irrespective of their ethnicity and their language, and this includes the large Banyamulenge and Rwandaphone populations that exist there in both South Kivu and in North Kivu. He has that responsibility as the president of his country.

He also has the responsibility to protect women and girls. We know that the Eastern Congo is probably the most violent place in the world for girls and women to live. There must be better protection of the rights of women. He has a responsibility to go after and to eradicate all armed rebel groups operating in his country Ã? the exFARfar, the Interahamwe, the FDLR, and also the M23 as well. They are rebels. They are a dissident group. He has a responsibility to ensure that the minerals of his country are exported and handled in a transparent way and that they are not the source of corruption or misuse. He has the responsibility to improve dramatically his security services so that they protect people and not prey on them. All of these are responsibilities that President Kabila has in his country.

But let me also say that there are responsibilities for the neighboring states as well, and those responsibilities are clear. They are not to support rebel groups operating against the country or a neighboring country. It’s not to train or to politically influence or to ship arms to rebel groups that undermine the security of a neighboring state. And it is not and should not be too much to ask the Government of Rwanda to denounce a rebel group that is preying on the lives of people or undermining the stability of a neighbor. So the call for the Government to reject the territorial and political and rebellious ambitions of the M23 are not and should not be too much. The M23 is led by individuals who are ICC and IT. They’re led by people whoooÃ?ve carried out serious human rights violations. So it should not be too much to ask the Government of Rwanda to do this, to ask that. And that’s a responsibility on that side of the border as well.

There are responsibilities held by all, and it is when everyone exercises those responsibilities appropriately and correctly and transparently that we have peace and stability. It is important that tensions be defused between the regional states, including Rwanda and the DRC, that trust be restored between these two countries, and that confidence be rebuilt. And so each country has responsibilities, and when those responsibilities are lived up to, we have a greater chance for peace, stability, and the harmony that can and should exist throughout that region.

OPERATOR: Thank you. Our next question comes from Jo Biddle. Please state your affiliation.

QUESTION: Good morning. Jo Biddle from Agence France-Presse, phoning in from the State Department. Thank you very much for organizing this call. Last week I was at Ã? I watched the Sahel meeting that was happening in the United Nations, and there were many calls from African countries, supported by France, for a military force to go into Mali and try to flush out the rebels, the Islamic rebels that are spreading terror in that region. You mentioned that you thought the issue of the Tuareg was Ã? should be resolved politically and not militarily, but on the Islamic side of things, is the United States going to support a military ECOWAS-led mission for the Sahel region, and – yeah, could you talk to that, please?

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Let me – thank you very much for the question from Agence France-Presse. The – all four issues that I mentioned earlier are critical, and they must be done simultaneously. It is absolutely critically important for there to be democratic progress in Mali, that there be a restoration of the civilian democratic constitutional government, and that needs to be done as soon as possible. It needs to occur alongside of progress in these other areas.

But let me tell you why I start there, because if you donnnÃ?t have a strong, creditable government in Bamako, the ability to negotiate a political solution with the Tuareg, one that has credibility, one that will be carried out, will be weakened. If you don’t have a strong, creditable government in Bamako, it will be difficult to have a military which is capable of leading as it should the liberation in the northern part of the country. Any ECOWAS military activities in Northern Mali should, in fact, have the Malian military as the lead and ECOWAS fighting alongside of it. But it is not just ECOWAS. It is important that what goes on up there have the support of all of the states in the region. The ECOWAS states, as well as Mauritania and Algeria and others in the area, must also be a part of this policy. After all, the states in the north have long borders with Mali.

But yes, I say that there will have to be, at some point, military action to push the AQIM and the MUJAO out of the north and out of the control that they are exercising over towns like Timbuktu and Kidal and Gao. But any military action up there must indeed be well planned, well organized, well resourced, and well thought through. And it must, in fact, be agreed upon by those who are going to be most affected by it.

So it is not something that should be taken lightly. There were strong calls, including from France, for action to be taken. We, too, in Washington have been appalled by the destruction of many of Mali’s valuable historical texts, by the destruction of mosque and historically important buildings, and by the attempt to impose extremist ideology on the communities. Clearly, some action must be taken. But as I said, it should be well planned, well organized, well executed, and well resourced. I think this is important.

All of these things must be done. They must be done simultaneously. But it is imperative that things move forward democratically in Bamako and that we see a restoration of democracy there. If we don’t have that, it will not – the other activities will not be nearly as effective and strong. All things must be moved simultaneously.

OPERATOR: We now have time for one more question, and that comes from Kevin Kelly with the Nation Media Group.

QUESTION: Yeah, hi. Thanks very much to Ambassador Carson for agreeing to do this, but I actually have two questions. One pertains to his mention before about the United States helping to build a Somali national army. I’m wondering if you could give me details on that, what the timetable and the funding might be for that.

And related to it, do you have concerns, Ambassador Carson, about what will happen next in Kismayo? Do you see that the Kenyan presence there might be interpreted eventually as an army of occupation? As you well know, there’s a lot of nationalist feeling in Somalia that outsiders are not generally welcome in these circumstances. Thanks a lot.

AMBASSADOR CARSON: Thank you very much for those two questions on Somalia. First of all, we applaud the work of AMISOM and what they have done in helping to degrade and defeat and push al-Shabaab out of Somalia’s main cities and towns. We believe that this will help to bring about a return to stability in Somalia and will reduce, over time, the terrorist threat to Somalis and to neighboring states. We believe that the Kenyan role in liberating the south as a part of AMISOM is important and deserves the support of both IGAD, the African Union, and the international community.

We recognize that Kismayo is comprised of a number of clans and sub-clans in Somalia, and that there will be clan competition. We hope that the Kenyan presence there will not be seen as an occupying force, and that the government in Mogadishu, working alongside of AMISOM and the UN, will go in very quickly and establish political stability and a political system that takes into account the various clan and sub-clan interests. The Kenyan presence is not intended to be a military occupation. It is intended to be a part of a temporary – a very temporary liberation strategy that quickly allows Somali leadership to take control. And this leadership should come from Mogadishu, should come from the new government led by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

I think that the Kenyans have no interest in trying to establish political authority there. They simply want to help drive out al-Shabaab, help liberate the country, help create the stability that has been long absent. But we hope that the Somali Government will move in quickly, working with IGAD to restore the political leadership that’s important for running Kismayo. But this has been a major step forward. We should applaud what has been done. And we want to work to encourage the political forces to move in to help stabilize the situation.

On this – on the first question that you asked, we have in Washington been strong supporters of AMISOM, major contributors to the AMISOM effort, largely by training and equipping AMISOM battalions that have gone into Somalia to help fight the al-Shabaab. Going forward, we would anticipate that most of our new and additional resources, as they come to us, will be directed at helping to train and provision a new Somali military, not to continue to expand AMISOM. The focus should be on creating a national Somali army that will take over from AMISOM and will assume the responsibilities of providing national security and defense for the nation.

I do not at this time have any dollar figures that I can share with you on what we would be providing to the Somali Government to train Somali military forces. We have done some of this in the past. We have trained small units of Somali TFG troops in Bihanga, Uganda at a military camp. We would expect that we will, over time, continue to do this and expand it and to make more of the training local in Somalia for both cost effectiveness and for political reasons. But we look at the focus going forward being directed at strengthening the Somali national military and not expanding the AMISOM effort, which has been extraordinarily valuable and important.

MODERATOR: That concludes today’s call. I would like to thank Ambassador Johnnie Carson for joining us, and thank all of our callers for participating in today’s call. I know many of you did not get the opportunity to ask your questions, so if you have any questions about today’s call, you can contact the African – the Africa Regional Media Hub at AFMediahub@state.gov. Thank you.

Source: Africa Regional Media Hub

 


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