Saturday, October 29, 2011

No Go On EU Bailout Plan

The head of the European bailout fund has dampened hopes that China will come to the rescue of the debt-stricken EU, but has left the door open for a deal with the world's second-biggest economy.
Klaus Regling's

Expectations for a strong commitment from China had been high ahead of Klaus Regling's visit to Beijing, with the Financial Times quoting a source saying a cash injection could top $US100 billion.

But publicly the government has been noncommittal and Chinese state media has said that Europe must take responsibility for the crisis and not rely on 'good Samaritans' to save the continent.

'There is no special deal' with China, Regling said yesterday during a visit to Beijing for talks with China's central bank and finance ministry a day after European leaders reached a last-ditch agreement to tackle the region's worst crisis in decades.

There have been calls from Europe for China and other developing economies to invest in the bailout fund, and there has been intense speculation that Beijing will agree to deploy some of its huge foreign exchange reserves.

But bailing out developed European countries would be a hard sell for the Communist leaders of a country where soaring housing and food costs are hurting millions of poor households and many exporters are struggling to pay bills.
Nicolas Sarkozy

Hours after Thursday's deal was struck, French President Nicolas Sarkozy telephoned China's President Hu Jintao, later giving a television interview in which he defended the idea of asking China to bail out Europe.

 'If the Chinese, who have 60 per cent of global reserves, decide to invest in the euro instead of the dollar, why refuse?' said the French president.
Hu Jintao
Regling, chief executive of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), insisted the timing of his visit was not significant, calling the talks 'regular consultations' on China's investment in European bonds.

But he said the EFSF was looking at new ways to secure new investment, speaking after EU leaders announced measures including quadrupling the firepower of the fund to one trillion euros.

So far the only way we asked for investors to participate (in the bail-out fund) was by buying bonds. There was no other instrument available so far,' Regling told a media briefing.
 'Now, we may have new instruments... and we will see who participates in these instruments.'

Regling said he would discuss with China and other investors how to structure a special purpose investment vehicle and would explore the possibility of linking it to the International Monetary Fund, though 'nothing has been decided'.

China, which has 3.2 trillion dollars in foreign exchange reserves, was 'interested in finding attractive, solid, safe investment opportunities,' Regling said.

His comments came as China's vice finance minister welcomed the EU agreement on measures to address the debt crisis and said the country was still considering whether to invest in the bailout fund.The fund was set up in May 2010 and is designed to provide financial assistance to European economies at risk of default, such as Greece, Ireland and Portugal.

Regling will travel on the weekend to Japan, which on Friday offered vague promises that it will help Europe, but left itself a week to decide what it might do to expand its already hefty contribution to the EU's bailout fund.

China has already invested significant sums in European bonds and has repeatedly called on Europe to address its debt crisis, saying a failure to act risks dragging the world back into recession.

Chinese state media have reported that the country is willing to contribute to the EFSF, but there has been no official confirmation and Beijing has given little indication of how it might be prepared to help.

On Thursday, Beijing cautiously welcomed the European deal and reiterated China's 'faith in the EU and the eurozone economy'.

But a commentary in an influential Chinese newspaper Friday said that although the deal eased market concerns -- setting off a rally on global bourses -- it did not address the root cause of the problem.

'The summit did not reach any decision on institutional reform and therefore did not eliminate concerns over the (causes of) the European debt crisis at the root,' said the column in the People's Daily, seen as the mouthpiece of the Communist Party.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Bringing Home The Drones

Russia welcomed UN Security Council resolution 2016 lifting the no-fly zone over Libya, the Russian Foreign Ministry said today.
Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov
In a statement posted on his website, Russian Prime Minister, Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov said Moscow has repeatedly pointed out that NATO's operations in Libya had gone beyond previous UN Security Council resolutions that authorized the no-fly zone.

This has led to numerous casualties among civilians and inflicted serious damage on Libyan social and economic infrastructure due to massive NATO airstrikes.

The ministry said Moscow had sponsored the new resolution, as Libya had undergone fundamental changes and there was no longer a threat of a Gaddafi loyalist up-rising, thus, the coalition forces and operation has lost all grounds to remain in Libya.

He also said Russia will maintained friendly relations with Libya and is ready to assist in rebuilding the country into a democratic state and restore its economic infrastructure.

The Security Council unanimously backed the new resolution Thursday and the no-fly zone and civilian protection measures adopted earlier this year will cease on Monday.
Danish Defense Minister Nick Haekkerup

Denmark will also pull back its forces from Libya within next week, Danish Defense Minister Nick Haekkerup said yesterday.

After Monday, our personnel and aircraft will return home," he said.

In March, Denmark sent six F-16 fighter jets and personnel to support the NATO-led, UN-mandated intervention to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.

There are currently 73 personnel deployed on the Libya mission and Haekkerup estimated that between 90 to 95 percent of them will return to Denmark after NATO's mandate there expires.

When the mission is over, we will pack our things as quickly as possible because we have nothing more to do there, he remarked.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Week Later

Thursday, October 20, 2011, a day that ought to have been one of joy and hope for Libya, has become a dark stain on the people's heroic struggle to rid themselves of tyranny and dictatorship. The manner in which Muammar Gaddafi, a frightened, wounded, pitiful and utterly harmless captive was killed by the victorious mob, threw a fog over memories of his 42 years of violent dictatorship and international crime and mischief.

Great Assholes Of The Past
The doomed man, whom history was destined to be lump together with the likes of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Pol Pot, Macias Nguema Biyogo, Jean Bedel Bokassa and Idi Amin Dada, was given his great wish to die as a martyr. Instead of treating Gaddafi humanely and handing him over to the International Criminal Court, the liberators of Libya did exactly what they accused him of committing  ruthless and wanton murder. Instead of hauling him before the entire world for a televised interrogation and shame, they turned him into a victim-of sorts that earned the pity of those of us who had nothing but contempt for him.
Lining up to view Gaddafi's body

As if the killing of a hapless captive was not enough, the Libyans, including their interim rulers, lined up to gawk at the cold, bullet-riddled corpses of the former dictator and his son. The macabre orgy of click-clicking cameras as Libyans jostled for vantage views of their dead ruler revealed a darkness of heart that was not different from that of the lifeless king of kings who lay half-naked in a meat container in Misrata.

Nobody, not even Gaddafi, deserves to die the way he did. Nobody's corpse, not even Gaddafi's, deserves to be treated the way the supposedly liberated Libyans did to their former leader's remains. I understand the anger of the citizens who have lived in terror for decades. However, a civilized person cannot find joy in the death of another person, not even the death of one whose moral campus was as dangerously faulty as Gaddafi's was. The killers of Gaddafi and the revelers who thronged to the meat container to see his corpse robbed the Libyan people's heroic struggle of the honor that the world had reserved for them.

The obfuscation that has characterized the attempts by Libya's interim Prime Minister to explain the manner of Gaddafi's death suggests that the truth may be in short supply in the new regime. None of this bodes well for the post-Gaddafi period. The understandable celebrations across Libya may soon give way to weeping and gnashing of teeth as Gaddafi's ghost returns to haunt that country. We have examples from other parts of the world where the removal or death of a tyrant has been followed by darker clouds that have left some citizens longing for their old dictator. Post-Obote I and then post- Amin Uganda come to mind. Post-Siad Barre Somalia and post-Samuel Doe Liberia are other examples.

The mistreatment of the captured Gaddafi does not excuse him from just censure and condemnation. Beneath the colorful attire and generosity towards many who now mourn him as a great man, was a cruel dictator whose documented crimes against Libyans and non-Libyans entitle him to a prominent place on the list of humanity's worst rulers. As I watched the initial videos of the captive Gaddafi looking terrified and bewildered, two words came to mind: suicide and coward.

Gaddafi's long suicide began the day he believed his own fantasy of invincibility and entitlement to lifelong rule. His illusion that revolutionaries never give up power left his people no choice but to force him out by any means necessary. He committed suicide when he subjugated the rights of Libyans to his whims and delusions of superiority and indispensability. He committed suicide when he turned his regime into a family affair, handing the lucrative and highly influential positions and opportunities to his offspring and relatives. Libyans were watching. Even those who sang his praises and declared their loyalty harbored anger and envy towards him which could not remain bottled up forever. Like all cowards, Gaddafi used fear to sustain himself in power. His ranting and displays of velour were the camouflage of one who, as we saw on his face in his last moments, was a terrified man afraid of his people.

Stripped of his presidential guard brigade, with his famed killer-women long gone from his side, Gaddafi was as vulnerable a wretch as humanity has produced. The one who wanted to kill the "rats and cockroaches" that had rebelled against him sought his final refuge among real rats and cockroaches in a filthy drain pipe under a road in Sirte. It was a graphic reminder that that was where such men and their ruinous ideas belonged.

His demise should be a lesson to all dictators who have banked their survival on their armed elite guards and nationwide militias and other armed organizations. Nothing beats a genuinely free and democratic society as insurance against a violent end to a leader's tenure at the top. True revolutionaries like America's George Washington and South Africa's Nelson Mandela understood this. They quit long before their countrymen got tired of them.

Monday, October 24, 2011

President Saleh; You To Could Be The Next Target

Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh

Keeping a low profile at the death of fallen Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, the embattled Yemeni president, as local experts said, became more cautious in dealing with the domestic crisis that saw fierce clashes in the impoverished country.
Just before the bullet to the head

Gaddafi, the Arab world's longest ruler, was killed on Thursday in his hometown Sirte after months of battles with fighters of Libya's ruling National Transitional Council supported by NATO.

Abdul Ghani al-Maweri, a political analyst and writer, said Gaddafi's death was a victory for the Libyan people which will also boost the hope of protesters in other countries including Yemen where people have been struggling to oust the regime.

Khaled al-Hammadi, another political analyst said that if the international community agrees upon a resolution that forces Saleh to leave, he may resort to form a military council comprising his family members and some other loyalists to keep running the country.

On the other hand, some experts argued that Yemen had been witnessing fierce clashes between pro- and anti-government forces in the capital Sanaa and some other cities since the death of Gaddafi, implying that Saleh may launch a civil war in a bid to regain full control of the country.

"We will escalate peaceful protest movement to force Saleh to step down, and we hope he is the next one who faces similar fate of Gaddafi," opposition spokesman Mohamed Qahtan told Xinhua.

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution on Yemen on Friday, calling for Saleh to transfer power through signing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal without any delay and end violence, and putting more pressure on the embattled president.

Doubtless, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh understood the lesson from Gaddafi's death but no way can one say how Saleh, who has faced nine-month protests calling for his departure, will exactly take the matter.

Observers predict that there might be two ways out for Saleh, giving up power soon or launching a civil war to regain full control of the country.

The resolution contains no sanction on Saleh or his regime, but it means if Saleh fails to implement it, the Security Council may draft further resolution, including sanctions forcing him to step down, which could push the 33-year-ruler to make a concession.

The Yemeni official media ignored the news of Gaddafi's death as Abdul Janadi, deputy information minister and government's spokesman, told Xinhua on Friday that the Yemeni government should not be busy with the death of Gaddafi at a time when it was trying to lift the country out of the current crisis.

"I don't think the president is going to step down, because if he is willing to do so, he should have done it as he had many opportunities to leave power with dignity during the past months, so it is impossible for him to resign without immense pressure by the international community," political analyst Mohamed al Qadhi said.

"If Saleh is forced to leave power, I think he will not hand it over to his opposition as he mentioned in his speech, but form a military council from his family members and his supporters to confront the attack by the opposition and continue running the country," al-Hammadi said, adding that in that case, Yemen could fall into a full-blown civil war and even turn to be an anarchic country like Somali.
Gaddafi's Golden Hand Gun

Moreover, Saleh and Gaddafi are both presidents with army background who ruled their countries for decades. The armed confrontations between the government forces and protesters finally resulted in the deaths of Gaddafi and some of his family members.

The Yemeni opposition expected a similar fate of Saleh, which the embattled president could definitely try to avoid, especially after being seriously injured in a bomb attack on his presidential palace on June 3.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Look Out Assad; You're Next

Donald Rumsfeld

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on Thursday warned Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to watch their backs.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad                          Bashar al-Assad                          
Rumsfeld, responding to reports that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi was killed after months of uprising, tweeted: “al-Assad & Ahmadinejad best heed this morning's news on Gaddafi. Their people may decide they should be next.”
Protests erupted in Syria seven months ago, with many wanting to oust the Syrian leader, Bashar al-Assad. The country has been facing continuous political instability since then.

Iran faces heightened scrutiny after U.S. announced last Tuesday that officials suspect that country of being behind the attempt to murder Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to the U.S. last Tuesday.
The death of Muammar al-Qaddafi yesterday shows what may be in store for the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which will probably be the next group of tyrants to be thrown out of office and potentially killed.

Syrian forces fired on protesters Friday, killing up to 14 people, activists said.
Inspired by the scenes of euphoria in Libya, Syrian protesters poured into the streets Friday and shouted that President Bashar Assad's regime will be the next to unravel now that ousted Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is dead. 

Gadhafi is gone, your turn is coming, Bashar, protesters shouted on today in the central city of Hama, long a hotbed of resistance to the regime.
Syrian Up-rising

The Syrian uprising has proved remarkably resilient over the past seven months, but has shown some signs of stalling in recent weeks as the government forges ahead with a bloody crackdown that the U.N. estimates has killed more than 3,000 people.

Although the mass demonstrations in Syria have shaken one of the most authoritarian regimes in the Middle East, the opposition has made no major gains in recent months, it holds no territory and has no clear leadership.

Now the armed uprising in Libya that drove Gadhafi from power - albeit with NATO air support - appears to have breathed new life into the Syrian revolt.

"Our souls, our blood we sacrifice for you, Libya!" Syrian protesters chanted Friday.
Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak
Others held signs linking Assad's fate to those of other deposed Arab leaders. Tunisia's Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has been driven into exile, and Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is in jail and facing charges of complicity in the deaths of more than 800 protesters in his country's uprising.

Ben Ali fled, Mubarak is in jail, Gadhafi is killed, Assad ... ? read one banner.
Still Alive At This Point

Gadhafi's death yesterday, after he was dragged from hiding in a drainage pipe, begging for his life, decisively ended the nearly 42-year regime that had turned the oil-rich country into an international pariah and his own personal fiefdom.

In many ways, the Syrian uprising has taken cues from the Libyans recently.

Syria's opposition formed a national council like the Libyans' National Transitional Council, hoping they could forge a united front against Assad that Syrians and the international community could rally behind.

And with the successes of armed Libyan revolutionaries present in their minds, many Syrian protesters say they are starting to see the limits of a peaceful movement, particularly when compared to the armed uprising in Libya. Some Syrians are now calling on protesters to take up arms and inviting foreign military action, hoisting signs that say "Where is NATO?" and urging the world to come to Syria's aid.

For the most part, Syrian opposition leaders have opposed foreign intervention.
There is no central call to arms by the opposition, in part because there is no clear leadership in the movement.
Syrian opposition

The Syrian opposition is disparate and fragmented, with various parties vying for power as they seek an end to more than 40 years of iron rule by Assad and his late father, Hafez.

There have been some clashes in border regions between Syrian forces and apparent defectors from the military, but they have not been widespread.

Still, the growing signs of armed resistance may accelerate the cycle of violence gripping the country by giving the government a pretext to use even greater firepower against its opponents. Authorities have already used tanks, snipers and gangster-like gunmen known as "shabiha" who operate as hired guns for the regime.

The regime has sealed off the country and prevented independent media coverage, making it difficult to verify events on the ground.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group based in Britain, put Friday's death toll at 14 nationwide. Syria-based activist Mustafa Osso said six people were killed in the central city of Homs, and there were reports of casualties in other areas as well.

In the Syrian town of Qusair near the Lebanese border, Syrian forces closed all mosques to prevent people from gathering. The weekly protests usually begin as Syrians pour out of mosques following Friday afternoon prayers.

Gadhafi's death will boost the morale of Syrians, It will make them continue until they bring down the regime.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

They're Dropping Like Flies; Take A Bow, Moa

Officials in Libya's transitional government said Muammar Gaddafi has been killed in the fall of his hometown Sirte earlier today. But there was no official confirmation from the country's most senior leaders.

Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam said he has confirmed that Gaddafi was dead from fighters who said they saw the body. 
Minister Mahmoud Shammam

He said he expects the prime minister to confirm the death soon, noting that past reports emerged 'before making 100 per cent confirmation.' 'Our people in Sirte saw the body... Mustafa Abdul-Jalil will confirm it soon,' he told The Associated Press. 

'Revolutionaries say Gaddafi was in a convoy and that they attacked the convoy.' Colonel Roland Lavoie, spokesman for Nato's operational headquarters in Naples, Italy, said the alliance's aircraft on Thursday morning struck two vehicles of pro-Gaddafi forces 'which were part of a larger group maneuvering in the vicinity of Sirte.' But Nato officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in accordance to alliance rules, said the alliance also could not independently confirm whether Gaddafi was killed or captured.
The spokesman for Libya's transitional government, Jalal al-Gallal, and its military spokesman Abdul-Rahman Busin said the reports have not been confirmed.
The caution in making a definitive announcement came because past reports of Gaddafi family deaths or captures have later proven incorrect, even after they were announced by officials, because of the confusion among the revolutionary forces' ranks and the multiple bodies involved in commanding their fighters.

For Barack Obama and his national security team, the simultaneous fall of Sirte and the death of Muammar al-Qaddafi provide an important punctuation mark in their successful initiative to support Libyan rebels and bring an end to an odious dictatorship.
The political benefits that accrue to the president at home will be modest. Domestic issues command the attention of American voters. What's more, the president's Republican opponents don't want to talk about the war on terroris very much. And with good reason. The president's record is for the most part too good to take issue with.
The president came into office promising to get the United States out of a disliked war in Iraq and has kept the promise. He came in promising to shift the focus to Afghanistan and finishing the business of decapitating al Qaeda. He did both. Bin Laden is dead. And we are committed to coming home from Afghanistan, too. While the administration's response to the first stirrings of rebellion in the United States, Occupy Wall Street, Restoring relations with our European allies, engineering the "pivot" in priorities to Asia cited by Secretary of State Clinton, and the recognition of the growing importance of dealing with emerging powers are all developments that are going to determine his chances of re-election.

But more important than any political benefits that accrue to the president as a result of this successful outcome to the Libya effort is that it brings into focus an important shift in U.S. national security strategy, a doctrine that stands alongside Clinton's "pivot" as one of the signature contributions of Obama and his security policymakers. Indeed, although I am reluctant to throw around the term "doctrine" because it has become devalued through overuse, I believe it puts into focus what can and should be identified as the Obama Doctrine, which we've all seen to mean, "Kill all terrorist threats".

General Colin Powell
This doctrine stands in contrast to the famous doctrine named for General Colin Powell. Powell's approach turns on the idea that prior to military action being taken by the United States; we must first exhaust all other means of advancing our national interest and then when we engage that we use every available means to achieve clearly defined goals and thus be able to execute a reasonable exit strategy.
This approach was, more than anything else, a reaction to the problems the U.S. encountered in Vietnam and the "every available means" or "overwhelming force" element was clearly a manifestation of a deep pockets view of U.S. resources that now seems like the quaint echo of a bygone time.

The New Obama Doctrine
The Obama Doctrine, while also grounded in the idea that we must exhaust every other means of advancing our national interest, is responding to the lessons of a different unpopular war, in this case, Iraq. It is a reaction against the use of "overwhelming force" to achieve rather narrow (not to mention dubious) goals. It is an antidote to "shock and awe," "three trillion dollar wars" and unilateral conventional invasions if they can possibly be avoided.
Whereas the Bush administration engaged in an open checkbook approach to a global "war on terror" (a perversion of the Powell doctrine that was especially uncomfortable for Powell himself to watch unfold), Obama's approach -- in fighting terror, getting Bin Laden, assisting with the ouster of Qaddafi, and elsewhere -- has been not only to cast aside the term "war on terror" but also the strategies and tactics of massive ground war.
Obama & Co. embrace the orthoscopic alternative to the open heart surgery favored by the Bush team. The Obama Doctrine prioritizes the use of intelligence, unmanned aircraft, special forces, and the leverage of teaming with others to achieve very narrowly defined but critical goals. That word leverage is the key. It is about using technological superiority, effective intelligence, surprise, and smart collaboration to make the most of limited resources and do so in a way that minimizes risks to both personnel and to America's international standing and our bank account.

"Leading from behind" is an important element of this doctrine. It is no insult to lead but let others feel they too are architects of a plan, to lead without making others feel you are bullying, to lead but do so in a way in which risks and other burdens are shared. Libya is a test case for this approach. It too started ugly and there are many lessons to be learned by NATO and the United States about how to do this better. Our communications around the time of undertaking the involvement were also handled in a ham-fisted manner. No matter. Most of that will be forgotten now. Outcomes matter most and the outcome here has been low-cost and high-reward.

More importantly, perhaps, it solidifies an Obama approach to meeting international threats that seems better suited to America's current capabilities, comparative advantages, political mood and the preferences of our allies everywhere than prior approaches which were created in and tailored to far different times.

Let's See; Who's Next