Saturday, August 1, 2015

Swaziland:Witchcraft and More. Wikileaks needs to do better.

All Africa reports

Swaziland: US Cable Says Swazi King 'Imbalanced'

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall greet King Mswati III of Swaziland and wife Inkhosikati LaMbikiza of Swaziland

Probably not the way I would have captioned the above photograph. I have a great deal of sympathy for the inhabitants of Swaziland... that sympathy is some what tempered by the realisation that I might soon be in the same boat as them. Trust me when I say " Long Live The Queen " I mean it.   

The US Embassy in Swaziland said King Mswati III was 'not intellectually well developed' and 'is not a reader'. It also called him 'imbalanced'.
The comments about the Swazi King came from Earl Irvine in February 2010, when he was the US Ambassador to Swaziland.
In a confidential cable to Washington released by Wikileaks, Irvine said King Mswati, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, had a 'lack of wisdom'.
My forays into the politics of Swaziland are usually brought about by my love of the absurd. Swaziland is perhaps after North Korea the most absurd place in the world and a hell of a lot less dangerous in an international context. That Mswati is lacking in wisdom should come as no surprise, in many ways I am surprised Wikileaks even bothered to release this.    
Quoting an informant, Irvine wrote the king was 'not a reader, and would not review documents left for him. [The informant] called the king 'not intellectually well-developed,' and contrasted his poor educational background with his father Sobhuza II, who was educated at Lovedale College in South Africa alongside future leaders of South Africa's African National Congress (ANC).
He is a fucking fool. What sort of idiot comes up with a plan to build an international airport 70 km from anywhere. It would be funny except it cost $250 million and Swaziland is a desperately poor nation.
" King Mswati III of Swaziland has so little faith in the new international airport that has his name that he does not use it. Instead, he travels in his private jet from Matsapha, the airport that closed to make way for the King Mswati III International Airport (KM111) that was built in a wilderness about 70 km from any major town."
Irvine wrote, 'Essentially a bastard outsider to the royal family, King Mswati III was plucked from relative obscurity when members of the royal family could not come to an agreement on a successor to King Sobhuza II.
I am not criticising  Irvine, I just wish he had tried to convey less meaning and left it at " Essentially a bastard.."
'After Mswati III was selected to be the next king, a posthumous marriage of Sobhuza II to Ntombi [the Queen Mother] was quickly arranged, according to our interlocutor.'

I hope King Sobhuza II was not subjected to the physical aspects of consummation also without his consent.

Irvine wrote, 'Unlike in his early years, the king now identifies and pushes specific projects, and will look to replace ministers or employees who are unable to provide progress on those projects.'
And the people of Swaziland have an international airport in the middle of nowhere. Seriously you couldn't make this shit up nobody would believe you.  
Irvine quoted his informant calling King Mswati 'imbalanced'. He gave an anecdote to illustrate this. 'The king, [the informant] said, invited about 40 officials and advisors to a basement in one of his palaces, where they all sat on the floor to attend to him. King Mswati III turned up the heater, which warmed the floor first, until the temperature in the room reached about 40 degrees Celsius, and told inconsequential stories to those gathered while they sweated, merely to show them he was in power.'
"...merely to show them he was in power.'  " ? I suspect this is wrong. He was more likely trying to impress them with the fact he had power. This act was probably a generous sharing of electricity. One should always keep an open mind. 
Irvine also reported that the king's mother had a sexual affair with Lutfo Dlamini, Swaziland's former Foreign Minister.
Well good on her. For " fucks " sake they made her marry the corpse of King Sobhuza II. 
And the Queen Mother Ntombi's 'associations with men' had undermined the power she had to influence King Mswati's decision-making.
                                                          Queen Mother Ntombi of Swaziland
Just let her have sex with who she wants to have sex with. It isn't anyones business but hers.
Irvine called the cable he wrote to Washington 'Witchcraft and More: A Portrait of Influences on King Mswati III'.
In the cable Irvine said, 'traditional leaders, superstition, and members of the royal family' were the major influences on the king. His ministers, however, 'remain his servants'.
Well I do think regicide has its place.
Irvine wrote, 'The king's wives' opinions matter to the king, especially his third wife, LaMbikisa, who has an advanced degree and is the only wife to whom the king proposed.'
She is beautiful. She is probably very smart. Irvine should  have come up with a way to put her in charge of Swaziland and then we might actually have seen some improvements.
Irvine goes on, 'King Mswati III believes in muti (traditional medicine used to cast spells or curses), and attempts to use muti to attack the king are taken seriously'.
He wrote, 'In 1989 Prince Mfana Sibili was accused of high treason when he allegedly used muti to try to take away the king's powers. When a foreign judge, brought in to hear the case, dismissed it after hearing the charges, a traditional court was installed to convict the prince.'
He said that 'muti people' hold great sway within the royal family, and that the king must eat and drink whatever they give him during traditional ceremonies, particularly when in seclusion. 'If they are unhappy with the direction the king is taking the country, then the king has cause to worry.'
Insanity ? Kill the bastard now. The rest of this story is more insanity.  Trust me you won't believe it.
Irvine went on 'Although Queen Mother Ntombi is considered by many observers to be a powerful figure within the royal family, [name of informant] indicated that her authority has been undermined by her "associations with men," including the then Foreign Minister Lutfo Dlamini.
Irvine wrote, 'Mswati III uses the investment company African Alliance to move his money around internationally.'
The informant indicated that 'the king has become more decisive during his years in office, especially where his interests are at issue, and he views ministers and officials who tell him he cannot do something as cowards'.
Swazi Prime Minister Barnabas Dlamini is the king's loyal 'hangman,' Irvine wrote, an assertion that suggests that the king placed absolute trust in Barnabas.
'Instead of looking to influence the king, the Prime Minister acts as the king's steadfast servant, a relationship that dates back to a suicide attempt by Barnabas in 1990 or 1991.
'According to [informants] in an unsuccessful attempt kept secret from the public, Barnabas tried to commit suicide after his involvement in a corruption scandal during his tenure as Minister of Finance became known.
'As part of making amends to the king, Barnabas reportedly prostrated himself before the king, giving himself over as the king's servant.'

Friday, July 31, 2015

Dr Congo: " He isn't very honest but he's obvious at least.....Let it stay forever now "

Human Rights Watch reports

Joseph Kabila Forever: The dangers of an extended presidency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

                                         Joseph Kabila Kabange, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo – Joseph Kabila, the president of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, faces a historic choice: Does he step down when his constitutionally limited two terms in office come to an end in December 2016, or does he succumb to the delusion of indispensability that is making the rounds in parts of Africa and try to cling to power?
He will try to stay on and he won't succeed. I have no doubt that Kabila is just as deluded as Museveni, Kagame, Mugabe and the latest fool to join that particular club Nkurunziza.
The issue is the subject of intense debate in Congo. When we met with Kabila last week in Kinshasa, he pointed out — correctly — that he has not yet publicly stated his position about what he will do in 2016. “Let’s wait and see what will happen,” he cautioned. But he has done little to stem intense speculation about his possible reluctance to relinquish office.
The reason that he hasn't stated his position is that he intendeds to stand again and publically stating so would effectively end any possibility of that happening. For Kabila to have any hope of a third term a major crisis would need to  unfold that would effectively prevent a general election. The problem is that the DR Congo is an ongoing major crisis and  the Congolese have adapted to that reality.
If Kabila chooses to abide by the constitution, he would become the first Congolese president to step down voluntarily for another elected president — arguably making him the “father of democracy” in Congo. That would be a major step forward for a nation that suffered brutal colonial rule under King Leopold II of Belgium, decades of post-colonial dictatorship under Mobutu Sese Seko, and then years of deadly war in which a constellation of rebel groups and armies from nine African states battled on Congolese soil.
 "... arguably making him the “father of democracy” in Congo."  That is just bloody stupid as Kabila himself points out below the Congolese have a " father of democracy " President Lumumba, he is revered throughout the Congolese community. My daughters are Congolese and consequently I attend the annual Congolese Independence celebrations,  I have never heard Kabila's name mentioned yet every speaker, every year, talks of the father of the DR Congo, Patrice Émery Lumumba .  Lumumba is in many ways Mandela's predecessor, that Kabila might opt for the Museveni, Kagame, Mugabe, Nkurunziza etc. club rather than the Lumumba / Mandela club astonishes me. I guess accepting that your most politically significant act would be to obey the law and stand down is difficult. Lumumba gave his life for the DR Congo.
Kabila came to power in 2001 at the age of 29, following the assassination of his father, Laurent Désiré Kabila. He is not without his accomplishments in office. Under his leadership, Congo has emerged from the dark years of war, and he led a transitional government that in 2006 brought about the country’s first democratic elections in more than 40 years, which he won. With mixed success, he has sought to stabilize the eastern part of the country, which has been plagued by armed groups that continue to kill, rape, and pillage, and he has sought to end the impunity that underwrites these atrocities. His government asked the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes committed in Congo and has surrendered more suspects to that court than any other government in the world.
Are you taking the piss ? Kabila's accomplishments were all accomplished by the international community, which also explains why they are so limited. "...stabilize the eastern part of the country " Actually the UN funded Africa Brigade.  "... International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes committed in Congo and has surrendered more suspects to that court than any other government in the world."  The price of aid money.
His “zero tolerance” policy toward sexual violence by security forces — announced two days after we encouraged him to take this step at a meeting in the eastern Congolese city of Goma in 2009 — has led to a spate of domestic prosecutions and a notable reduction in complaints about rape by government soldiers. And in late 2013, he succeeded in ridding eastern Congo of the last of a succession of abusive Rwandan-sponsored rebel groups that operated in the region for 15 years.
...equating to 1,150 rapes per day.” and you have convicted six military personnel and this is a success ? It is an appalling failure. "
Yet if Kabila chooses to try to hang on to power, his reputation will be tarnished not only by the failure to respect the unamendable constitutional two-term limit but also by the likelihood of a violent and abusive chain reaction. To envision how a downward spiral of protest and violent repression might unfold in Congo over a disputed extended presidential term, one need look no further than neighboring Burundi, where President Pierre Nkurunziza’s insistence on a constitutionally questionable third term has yielded the deadly suppression of mass protests.
I would have thought that Human Rights Watch might have thought about the differences between the DR Congo and Burundi and also have factored in Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe before coming out with idiocies such as this. " one need look no further than neighboring Burundi, ". Epic fail.
In January, when Kabila’s government attempted to change the electoral law to enable extending his time in office, thousands of people took to the streets of Congo’s major cities to protest. Government security forces responded with violence and repression, killing at least 38 protesters in Kinshasa and five in Goma, and jailing — and sometimes beating and torturing — politicians and activists who were seen to challenge the idea of an extended presidency.
Never underestimate the Congolese. Kabila would like another term but he won't get it.
Why might Kabila want to stay past his mandate? Beyond the perks of power, many assume that he fears for himself and his family. For example, in our meeting, he raised the specter of Congo’s first democratically elected leader, Patrice Lumumba, who was executed after an apparently Western-backed coup. “Have I been successful? I don’t know. Lumumba is the real father of democracy, and he was assassinated.”
Moreover, according to political insiders and investigative journalists, the Kabila family has amassed a considerable fortune, which could make them vulnerable to future investigations . Plus, Kabila in 2016 would be only 45 years old; those close to him say he has no desire to leave Congo, but there is no Congolese precedent of a former president assuming an elder statesman role of the sort played by South Africa’s Nelson Mandela or Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo.
Maybe we should establish an island where we can accommodate corrupt political leaders to prevent them inflicting more corruption on the people they are supposed to serve. New Zealand might offer up the Auckland Islands
Yet Kabila has little room to maneuver. A broad consensus has emerged in the country that a formal third presidential term is constitutionally impossible, so Congolese speak instead of a possible “glissement” — the use of some pretext to allow the prescribed limits for his second term to “slide.” The pretext might be intensifying armed conflict in the east, making the prospect of genuinely national elections difficult. It might be the seemingly deliberate lack of preparations for elections: little of the budget has been funded, and no steps have been taken to register more than 5 million youth who have come of age since the last national election in 2011. Or it might be the government’s insistence on proceeding with complicated plans to subdivide the country’s 11 provinces into 26 and then hold local and provincial elections before national ones — a sequencing that could lead to significant glissement.
In other word a crisis.. and as I say above when crisis is the norm that isn't going to work.
But it’s hard to imagine how any of these scenarios would buy Kabila more than another year or two in office. That would accomplish little for him, while significantly undermining his interests. Prosecutors, for example, would be far less likely to proceed against a former president who is respected for having reinforced the foundation of Congolese democracy by handing power to a newly elected leader in timely fashion, than one who oversaw intensifying rounds of brutality against a public that seemed clearly to want a constitutionally mandated handover of power. A tumultuous period of repression would also make it less likely that Kabila’s endorsement of a friendly successor would succeed — another option that might help Kabila safeguard his interests.
The Lumumba / Mandela club might just prove to be a better option.
We made these arguments to him directly in our meeting last week, but the president was coy in answering them: “Why are you trying to anticipate what will happen?”
You arrogant bastard. Kabila that is a fair question. A few weeks ago my brother in law and I took my just turned 18 year old daughter to a licensed ( Alcohol serving ) premise for her birthday. She surprised me when she said an African would never do what we were doing. Africans who make it don't according to her bother with those who are still on the road to success. It is an arrogance that would not survive a minute in New Zealand. 
He was more responsive when we stressed the importance of allowing people to protest and criticize the government, especially in an electoral period, though he hedged his commitment to democratic principles: “People want to hold demonstrations and protests, good enough. But if the idea is to go beyond free protests and create mayhem and anarchy, that’s completely unacceptable.” We noted that democracy can be messy yet, short of violence, shouldn’t be equated with anarchy. He let the point hang.
"..He let the point hang. "  No surprises there it occur's to me that another President once pointed out if we don't hang together we will hang apart.
Kabila put a special stress on the need to ensure stability. “The issue in Congo is about stability. Stepping down — anyone can step down.” But, again, it’s far from clear how a contested extension of his term in office coupled with likely protest and repression would contribute to Congo’s stability.
" The issue in Congo is about stability. Stepping down — anyone can step down.” You will. One way or the other.
Kabila has proposed a national dialogue to iron out electoral questions. If he were to state clearly his intention to relinquish office at the appointed time and indicate that the dialogue would discuss only the modalities for the next round of elections consistent with the constitution, Congolese would most likely welcome the opportunity. But in his typically cryptic fashion, he has left people speculating that dialogue might be just another ploy forglissement.
That we left our meeting with Kabila cordially suggests that the arguments we made are not beyond the pale. He listened politely and even joked: “You say ‘father of democracy.’ You’re not the first one to say this and you won’t be the last.” But he gave no indication that he accepted or rejected our suggestions. He simply asked: “As for my future, continue to pray for me.” For the sake of democracy’s future in Congo, we can only hope Kabila understands that his personal interest, not to mention his country’s, lies in accepting, rather than abusively fighting, the limits that the Congolese constitution so clearly impose.
“As for my future, continue to pray for me.” I doubt even God would pray for you. I certainly won't. Mind you I won't pray for anyone. Even myself.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

DR Congo: I trust you trust in me to mistrust you.

All Africa reports

Congo-Kinshasa: Mobile Courts Tackle Sexual Violence in DRC

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a woman. According to a 2011 American Journal of Public Health report, more than 400,000 women surveyed in 2007 reported having been raped in the previous 12 months - equating to 1,150 rapes per day.

There is aside from the horror of this statistic the companion horror of HIV not to mention lesser sexually transmitted diseases and of course pregnancies that are not only unplanned but unwanted.

The high incidence of sexual violence against women and children in the region has been attributed to a systematic tactic of war used by members of the Congolese army, rebel groups, militias and others to destroy community and family bonds.

No argument...but what about other African nations that have inflicted their armed forces upon the Eastern DR Congo. Let's remember Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zimbabwe the list goes on.

The DRC is one of Africa's largest countries by population and land area with an estimated 71 million residents. With parts of the country, especially in the east, mired in conflict for decades, its criminal justice system is overburdened and often paralysed by administrative dysfunction and endemic corruption.

Easy to say mired in conflict for decades. The hard question is why?The answer is of course unpalatable. Neo-colonalism the ongoing theft of the DR Congo's mineral wealth. Don't assume it is just the West is involved. Africa is all about exploitation and Africans are just as guilty today as the western multi-nationals.

For those living in regions such as Nord-Kivu, Sud-Kivu and Orientale, where reaching a formal courthouse could take more than a week's journey, finding justice for victims of violent sexual crimes has been next to impossible -- until recently.

Since 2008, judges, magistrates and prosecutors in the DRC have been traveling to remote areas as part of new initiative: to take specialized military and civilian courts, many of them mobile courts, to the people. The courts, funded and organised by a range of local and international agencies, focus on prosecuting cases of rape and gender-based sexual violence.

..finding justice for victims of violent sexual crimes has been next to impossible -- until recently.” and the next paragraph begins “ Since 2008..” Just fuck off. Has “ recently “ been redefined ? This isn't journalism this is bullshit. This is part of the problem. The truth is again unpalatable... nobody has done a bloody thing..they have pretended too. This story is part of that pretense.

Mobile military courts have had significant successes, most notably the conviction of Lieutenant Colonel Matuara Kabibi and five soldiers under his command for crimes against humanity. In retaliation for the killing of one of his men, Kabibi ordered the rape and pillage of the town of Fizi in a horrific night of violence on New Year's Day 2011. Prosecutors presented evidence, along with the testimony of 49 women who recounted to the court the sexual violence they were subjected to.

...equating to 1,150 rapes per day.” and you have convicted six military personnel and this is a success ? It is an appalling failure.

The tribunal resulted in the conviction and sentencing of Kabibi and his men to prison sentences ranging from 10 to 20 years. As they were led away, the president of the Military Court of South Kivu Colonel Freddie Mukendi declared, "Justice is not impossible to achieve in the DRC."

Colonel Freddie Mukendi is clearly a man without much cognitive function.

On June 10 this year another major victory for victims of gender-based sexual violence was claimed. The Grand Tribunal of Bunia, in Eastern DRC, handed down 46 convictions in 65 cases it tried. This court was based in the capital of the Ituri District, and services an area of 25,000 square miles. It has dramatically expedited a sluggish judicial process that previously allowed ample time for perpetrators to flee prosecution.

“…. a major victory “ . Think about it, it is a resounding failure.

The Grand Tribunal of Bunia was co-funded by the DRC government and the United Nations Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, with financial support also from the Japanese government.

You are all useless.

The court in Bunia seeks to improve on advances made by mobile military courts and extend the same access to justice in civilian cases.
Jeanine Mabunda Lioko, presidential adviser on Sexual Violence and Child Recruitment says, "Not all victims of sexual violence in the DRC are able to easily access the court system, so we are bringing the courts to the people. These mobile courts are helping to restore faith in the justice system, and demonstrate that the DRC will not be complicit."

This isn't journalism. It is fucking stupidity masquerading as journalism.

America: Welcome back to the circus.

Middle East Eye reports

Donald Trump: America's Muammar Gaddafi

Trump's outbursts are full of enough half-truths, banalities and nuttiness to make the late Libyan dictator high-five the devil

US presidential primaries are a circus, and this year Donald Trump is its clown. You know this and I know this. This is why I apologise for wasting my column on Donald Trump. But here’s the thing - Trump, according to the latest polls, now has a double-digit lead over his Republican rivals, which means the clown has been promoted to lion tamer.

The question then becomes what lions is Trump taming, is it other Republican nominees for the presidency or the toothless largely geriatric remnants of the Tea Party. If it is the former then Trump hasn't the intellect to go up against any of the serious contenders with a chance of claiming the nomination and if it is the feral remnants of the Tea Party they are already his support base. Collectively they have in the past had the ability to influence the policy positions of the Republican candidates, to their detriment and have ensured President Obama both his first and second terms as President.

We can all go on continuing to pretend Trump 2016 isn’t a thing, but it is a thing. It’s a thing that is happening. It’s a thing that is growing.

Yes but what sort of thing ? The Tea Party was a thing... in the end the Tea Party thing was actually a costly distraction thing for the Republicans. The Tea Party would have us believe it was a grass roots thing without leadership. An idiotic fiction to be sure, Trump is merely attempting to capitalise on that and establish himself as the leader of the Tea Party element of the Republican Party.

A number of media outlets, including the Huffington Post, have made the decision to starve the Trump campaign of the oxygen it needs to continue to grow. When CNN, MSNBC or Fox News gives coverage to Trump, they predictably include at least one overpaid political commentator forecasting: “This is the beginning of the end.”
But to borrow a Winston Churchill-ism: “This isn’t the beginning of the end but the end of the beginning” for Trump.

I am quite prepared to accept that “ Churchill-ism “ mainly because I can see no end. I would love to see Trump win the Grand Old Party's nomination but that isn't going to happen, however stupid I think the Republican's are, they are not that stupid. That begs the question, what is Trump's end game ? In a Westminster Parliamentary democracy one could suppose a desire to become the “ kingmaker “ but the US primaries don't really work that way. Winning your party's nomination is a long way from winning the Presidency and the golden shower box of gold at the end of that rainbow. Or more plainly there is no end of beginning or beginning of end, this is all about Trump and his ego.
In 2012, the Republican primary was replete with clowns that included Michele Bachmann (“HPV vaccine causes retardation”), Herman Cain (“I don’t know the President of Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan”), and Rick Perry (“Oops”), but the more Republican voters got to know the pretenders, the worse they did in the polls. This is not what is happening to Trump in 2016. The more Trump goes on to say outlandish things, the more conservative voters are drawn to him.

You could of course go back to Sarah Palin, the Republicans have backed clowns before to the extent even of including them on the Oval Office ticket. That particular clown didn't work out so well for them.

So it’s about time we consider what a Trump presidency, as unlikely that reality remains, actually means for the Middle East.

A Trump presidency would be America’s Muammar Gaddafi moment. Yes, a President Donald Trump would rule like an American-accented Muammar Gaddafi. The similarities in temperament are too hard (and fun) to ignore.

Except that Gaddafi actually occasionally and I suspect quite unintentionally did some good.

While Trump is yet to parade around in a comic-opera uniform, both have/had comically styled hair; both believe/believed their entire respective nations were drawn to their irresistible charms; both flaunt/flaunted their wealth; both are/were as narcissistic as a bodybuilder who could outstare a mirror; and both are/were attracted to buxom beauties half their age.

Well “ attracted to buxom beauties half their age.” isn't so unusual in the global political culture.

Trump is always telling audiences that everyone loves him. In the past two weeks alone, he has proclaimed: “Mexicans love me,” “America loves me,” “China loves me,” and even “my ex-wife loves me”.

Gaddafi was as equally disconnected from reality. In the midst of the civil war that would eventually kill him, the Libyan dictator told television reporters: “Everyone in Libya loves me, except the ones on drugs.”

If Trump was to win I would hope the Democrats had the brains to ditch Hilary Clinton in favour of Michele Obama and while she is a “ buxom Beauty “ she is not half my age. If the Republicans were serious and I suspect they aren't this time round they might consider Condalizza Rice.

It was Gaddafi’s eccentricity and charisma that initially won him overwhelming Libyan support, which are the same two qualities that are winning over Republican primary voters. Gaddafi’s readiness to take on the West earned him a measurable level of support among ordinary Libyans, even while he ruined the country. Trump’s readiness to take ( on ) illegal immigrants, China, the Islamic State (IS) group and Iran is earning him a measurable level of support among mostly white southern voters, even while he ruined his father’s fortune and Atlantic City.

A problem Trump faces is that “ a measurable level of support among mostly white southern voters,...” is probably not much more than measurable. Confederate flags rags are being hauled down. Yet another problem for Trump is whilst it takes considerable genius to make a fortune it requires monumental stupidity to lose that fortune something Trump is well on the road to achieving.

Interestingly, the lives of Gaddafi and Trump crossed paths. During Trump’s 2012 presidential campaign that never happened, the real-estate mogul boasted that among Republican candidates, he had the strongest track record of dealing with foreign leaders. “I sell them real estate for tremendous amounts of money. I mean, I’ve dealt with everybody,” Trump told Fox News in 2011.

Trump said he was particularly proud of the fact he “screwed” Gaddafi on a real estate deal. "I rented him a piece of land. He paid me more for one night than the land was worth for two years, and then I didn't let him use the land," Trump boasted. "That's what we should be doing. I don't want to use the word 'screwed,' but I screwed him."

How ironic. President Obama is trying to make friends as I type in Africa and Trump advocates a continuation of the neo-colonial stupidity that has characterised western policy with regard to the developing world too date. Trump isn't yesterdays man, he isn't even last centuries man, his time has gone I just wish he would bugger off after it.

A US President Trump would also aim to screw the Middle East, much in the same way tin pot despots Saddam and Gaddafi screwed their respective states in the Middle East. In a 2011 interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Trump said he would recoup America’s costs for the war on terror by effectively taking Iraqi oil. “So, we steal an oil field?” Stephanopoulus asked incredulously. Trump replied, “Excuse me. You're not stealing anything. You're taking - we're reimbursing ourselves."

The other problem being that as far as I can recollect the reason for taking out Saddam had nothing to do with the war on terror but rather the last Republican President's fantasy that they were developing nuclear weapons. This is of course a man who would describe taxation as theft yet views theft as reimbursement. Go figure.

In the same interview, Trump said he would strong-arm OPEC and Saudi Arabia into lowering oil prices for the United States. “I’m going to look ’em in the eye and say, 'Fellas, you’ve had your fun. The fun is over,'” Trump promised.

And bugger the free market. Trump might want to think about communism because essentially that is what he is advocating.

More recently, and during his 90-minute-long 2016 campaign launch, Trump gave a rambling speech, which not only included an outline of his Middle East policy, but contained enough non-sequiturs, half-truths, banalities and nuttiness to make the late Libyan dictator high-five the devil.

A cartoon please.

Take a look at the deal he’s [Obama] making with Iran. He makes that deal; Israel maybe won’t exist very long. It’s a disaster and we have to protect Israel,” thundered Trump.

Trump didn’t say how a 10-year freeze on Iran’s nuclear ambitions would ensure Israel wouldn’t exist very long, but none of his Republican colleagues have explained that either. Trump also claims no US President has been a greater enemy of Israel than Obama. In a recent piece, I argued that no US president has been a greater friend to Israel than Obama. You can make up your own mind on Obama and Israel. But while you’re doing that, know Trump hopes to build a golf resort adjacent to the Nitzanim Nature Reserve along the Mediterranean coast in Israel.

I guess Trump would prefer to invade Iran. Clearly a man who learned nothing from Iraq.

All in all, when it comes to Israel and Iran, Trump’s views are very much in line with GOP orthodoxy.

An orthodoxy that will prevent the GOP ( Republicans ) regaining the Oval Office unless the Democrats do something very stupid.

Where Trump diverges from the conservative mainstream is on Saudi Arabia. “They make a billion dollars a day, a billion dollars a day. I love the Saudis, many are in this building. They make a billion dollars a day. Whenever they have problems, we send over the ships. We send, we’re going to protect - what are we doing? They got nothing but money. If the right person asked them, they’d pay a fortune. They wouldn’t be there except for us,” Trump rambled.

In simpler terms, what Trump is saying is that he’d charge Saudi Arabia for hosting US military bases in the kingdom, clearly overlooking the fact that Saudi Arabia guarantees the jobs of thousands of American workers via procuring billions of dollars’ worth of weapons every year.

Somehow the idea of billions of dollars of weapons every year offends me.

In keeping with the Gaddafi-Trump analogy, Gaddafi also once gave an equally incoherent diatribe against Saudi Arabia, by reminding the monarchy that they existed only as a result of US patronage. “You were created by Britain and are protected by America,” teased Gaddafi.

On IS, Trump said he would pursue the terrorist group more aggressively than President Obama. Why? Trump explained that IS had built a hotel in Mosul, Iraq, and he wouldn’t stand for any competitors moving into his hotel-building business. It’s easy to imagine Gaddafi going after IS because he believed al-Baghdadi’s gown to be too drab.

As I argue above this is ego, ego that is so self centered it is comical.

Yes, like Gaddafi, Trump is both a comedy and a tragedy.
Will Trump become the 45th president of the United States? Not likely. Will Trump win the GOP nomination? Not likely. So, thankfully for the Middle East, Trump is a comedy minus the tragedy. Enjoy the laughs.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Burundi: We've played this scene before.

A statement from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

UN experts call for determined Security Council action to prevent mass violence in the Great Lakes region

GENEVA (16 July 2015) – A group of United Nations human rights experts* today urged the Security Council to take immediate action to prevent Burundi from sliding back into violent conflict ahead of presidential elections, a crisis which will not leave the other countries in the region, including Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, unaffected. Thus far, 145,000 persons have fled to neighbouring countries in fear for their lives.

This is something that should scare the shit out of the whole world. Once again we are seeing the Great Lakes Region of Africa descend into chaos and once again the world is looking away. Six million lives have been lost in the DR Congo since 1998 and lets not forget the genocide in Rwanda and a further 800,000 lives. 

“The world is witnessing an escalating pattern of politically motivated violence in Burundi, enabled by the country’s decades-long tradition of impunity,” the experts warned. “The international community must not simply stand by and wait for mass atrocities to unfold, thereby risking a major conflict of regional proportions before it finally decides to act,” the Special Rapporteurs added, pointing to repeated cycles of mass violations that Burundi and the Great Lakes region have witnessed in recent history.

New Zealand is the currently president of the Security Council as we were when the Rwandan Genocide occurred and once again the Security Council is dithering. The difference being the last time we held the presidency we acted with honour.

" As the death count grew, our Ambassador, Colin Keating, pressed hard for the UN peacekeeping mission in Rwanda to be strengthened, and for the Council to declare this atrocity as genocide.

As the Council’s President in April 1994, we even had to threaten to hold a public debate to shame certain countries for their refusal to acknowledge what was happening.

In the end, mainly because of the unwillingness of some of the Council’s permanent members, those efforts were unsuccessful and 800,000 innocent people were butchered – many with jungle knives."

For fucks sake our ( NZ ) official position is that we oppose the great power Security Council veto. Yes we failed Rwanda but we tried. We may fail again...we will certainly fail if we don't try. The world voted us onto the Security Council not the vested interests of the west.

The situation in Burundi has already involved serious human rights violations. “It is accumulating the well-known and visible marks of a society which previously suffered divisions leading to grave violence. This can escalate into major conflict through the use of outright repression against, and intimidation of, the population at large, the instrumentalization of the police, the closure of independent media, as well as the detention of the opposition and other civic leaders. We also witness efforts to coerce the judiciary, some of whose highest members have fled the country claiming their lives were at risk. In the meantime, armed militias, with the collaboration of authorities, exercise violence against civilians. In these circumstances, it is not surprising that the results of the 29 June elections have generally not been endorsed,” the experts raised alarm. 

In short we have all the ingredients for another ethnic conflict that like the rest will engulf the the Great Lakes Region with potential consequences that don't bare thinking about except that we will have to do a lot more than think about them if   when they come to pass.

“The absence of independent media and a climate of repression and fear to exercise civil rights and express opinions, notably by peacefully taking to the streets, have marred the recent elections and will also be defining the forthcoming presidential elections, now scheduled for 21 July. The postponement by six days of the presidential elections does not remedy this blatant deficiency,” the mandate-holders stated.

It might be time for the world as represented by the Security Council to remind certain African dictators of a supposedly African proverb popularised by American President Roosevelt.

" Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far,"  

“If the government persists in holding presidential elections under the current circumstances – something even the former first Vice-President objected to after also having fled the country – they will in no way confer any legitimacy on the to-be-elected authorities. On the contrary, the elections are highly likely to result in major instability and confrontations in Burundi, with the potential to spread to the region,” the experts warned.

The big and forever unanswered question being who will benefit from the instability ? Oh of course the West, instability is opportunity.... just look at the illegal exploitation of resources multi-nationals have achieved in the DR Congo....and the cost... six million Congolese lives.  

On 9 July, the situation on Burundi was most recently discussed by the Security Council. The seven independent experts strongly echoed the call made by the High Commissioner for Human Rights to immediately disarm the youth militia Imbonerakure which is spreading major violence and intimidation among the population. The experts join the High Commissioner in recalling that the people of Burundi “have a right to go about their lives peacefully, in freedom, equality and dignity; without fear, and with equitable access to their country's many resources and opportunities.”

The Imbonerakure are targeting Tutsi communities and it would seem are predominantly a Hutu organisation.To quote Marrilion's Fish " You've played this scene before ".  

“The Security Council has a unique role for peace and security and for preventing conflicts worldwide. This is a crisis that is eminently preventable – everyone can see the risks. What is lacking is action,” underscored the independent experts. “Given the painful history of Burundi and the region, the long engagement of the United Nations in the country to re-build peace, the Security Council must be all the more alerted to the increasing potential of an escalation of massive violence,” the experts added.

And New Zealand as the current the president of the Security Council have failed enormously. We have failed our own legacy... even worse we have failed the trust the world mandated us with. 

“Burundians, who live in the world’s third poorest country must be spared another cycle of violence, with the misery and destruction that violence always leave on its wake. They look to the Security Council to live up to its unique role in the prevention of mass atrocities,” the experts urged.

I am ashamed to be a New Zealander today. John Key a new flag will not disassociate us from a genocide we did nothing to prevent. If our old brand has more honour than our new brand it would be better to abandon the exercise.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

DR Congo: Examining the shadows on the other side of mourning.

A UN Press release:  

Meeting Mission Mandate for Democratic Republic of Congo Hinges on ‘Persistent Engagement’ with Government, Top Official Tells Security Council

The fulfillment of the mandate of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) rested on “persistent engagement” with the Government on the security situation in the East, the electoral process and the ongoing strategic dialogue, the Security Council heard today during its periodic briefing on the subject.

Astounding. MONUSCO has been on the ground in the DR Congo from 1999 and today they have reached the conclusion that they need to talk with the Government of the DR Congo with regard to the security situation in the East.  
On the security situation, there was “a ray of hope on one of the front lines”, Martin Kobler, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and head of the Mission said, describing ongoing military cordon and search operations conducted by the Forces Armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) supported by MONUSCO forces against the Force de résistance patriotique en Ituri (FPRI).  While the priority was to ensure that the group disarmed voluntarily, the use of force proved inevitable after the lapse of three consecutive deadlines.

Kill the bastards. They kill civilians, you are a military force mandated by the world to stop civilians being killed. Do your fucking job or piss off. And that is it in a nut shell. MONUSCO are about as effective as the most ineffective thing you can imagine. 
However, Mr. Kobler said, joint operations against the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) in North Kivu, South Kivu and Katanda had been at a standstill for five months.  While the Congolese Government had made great strides in the past decade in restoring security, the population in East lived at the mercy of a number of armed groups.  The suspension of joint cooperation by the FARDC went beyond the original question over human rights, as the Mission revised its Due Diligence Policy in that regard and was looking for ways to resume cooperation within the framework of the commitments from both sides.
Kill the FDLR pricks. They are genocidal wankers who killed  about a million Tutsi in Rwanda. Just fucking kill them. They have had two fucking years to surrender and they have not. They keep promising to surrender but don't. Kill them.... they don't hesitate to kill innocent civilians....fuck them and fuck the horse they rode into the DR Congo from Rwanda. We have tried to reason with them it is now time to stop them. 

Despite the progress in dislodging the FDLR from some of its strongholds, the FARDC was finding it difficult to consolidate its hold in liberated areas, he said, adding that paralysis had cascaded into other fields of operation.  “Waiting is not an option,” he said.
Sack FARDC commanders who can't  or won't ( Corruption ) do their jobs. Actually I would say it is not FARDC inability but FARDC corruption. Solve it. Shoot the corrupt bastards. 6 million people have died in the Congo in my life time, judicially killing a few hundred corrupt Congolese officers is not  a big problem.

The country would hold presidential and legislative elections in November 2016, which under the imperatives of resolution 2211 (2015) must be transparent, credible and respectful of the Constitution and the electoral calendar.  The responsibility for such elections, however, ultimately rested with the Government and a number of actions were required.  Urgent needs included a budget and a realistic electoral calendar.  The voters’ registry needed to be updated and political space must be given to the opposition and civil society.  Welcoming President Joseph Kabila’s initiative to reach out to a wide range of stakeholders to ensure consensus, he said such consultations should not delay the elections.
Hold Kabila to that.

The strategic dialogue between MONUSCO and the Government began in March, with a view to setting in motion a gradual, mutually agreeable exit strategy and reinvigorating sincere collaboration on security, elections, human rights and communications.  In May, joint missions were conducted in 29 territories across 4 conflict-affected territories to obtain first-hand understanding of the security situation prevailing in the east.  The findings were now being discussed with the Government and were serving as a basis to jointly draw conclusions on how and when MONUSCO would eventually leave.  The timeline for departure should depend on the progress on the ground.
You are fucking joking ? The UN  ( the world ) has invested billions in the DR Congo and the job isn't half done. Exit stratagem ? When we have done the job, we owe the Congolese people that.

While there had been progress in the fight against sexual violence in the country, violence against women and girls remained endemic.  “We must ensure that the women’s bodies are not used as battlegrounds in never-ending wars,” he said, stressing the need to ensure victims had access to justice.  The fight against armed groups in the country could not be successful unless the questions of economic development and employment were addressed.
Stop raping women. It is often, actually usually soldiers who are the rapists. Apply the Geneva conventions. They fucking are gaoled or shot I don't care which.

Briefing the Council on her recent visit to the region, Dina Kawar, representative of Jordan and Chair of the 1533 Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanctions Committee, highlighted the paradox between the country’s extensive natural resources and its difficult path towards governance.  On a number of occasions, she was reminded of the Government’s assertions of neighbouring States’ complicity in smuggling networks.  The Minister for the Interior had voiced the readiness of his Government to work with the Group of Experts to provide suggested names for designations.  When the Group had held a follow-up meeting, however, no such names were provided.
Yes well that would be Rwanda and Uganda.