#. 49. Sept. 1, 2002
BUSH WON'T BUDGE ON IRAQ INVASION; OSAMA PLEASED!
U.S. SCHMOOZES TURKMENBASHI FOR PIPELINE PLAN!
PALESTINE & AFGHANISTAN: CAVE-DWELLERS FACE EVICTION!
ALSO: ISRAEL-LEBANON WATER WARS; DISAPPEARING DEAD SEA; MONASTIC SLUGFEST ROCKS HOLY SEPULCHRE
SPECIAL REPORT: FASCIST LEGACY BEHIND GUJARAT MASSACRE
CURRENT HOMELAND SECURITY COLOR ADVISORY CODE: YELLOW
By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Subuhi Jiwani and Sarah Ferguson, special correspondents
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. Israeli Raid Wipes Out Bedouin Family
2. Weekly Dose of Hideous Violence
3, Hezbollah Strikes IDF on Lebanon Border
4. Israeli President: IDF "Trigger-Happy"?
5. Another Alleged Collaborator Killed by Al-Aksa
6. Palestinian "Collaborator" Declared a Martyr
7. IDF Open Season on News Photographers?
8. Palestinian Journalists Attempt to Ban the Truth
9. Plans for Forced "Transfer" Revealed
10. "Transfer" Already Underway?
11. IDF Chief: Palestinian Threat "Cancer-Like"
12. Palestinians Face Agricultural Collapse
13. Israeli Arabs May Face Demolition
14. West Bank Cave-Dwellers Face Eviction
15. Peace Now Calls on Settlers to Leave
16. Britain's Chief Rabbi: War Eroding Jewish Values
17. Poll Finds Support for Non-Violent Palestinian Movement
18. Palestinian Interior Minister: "Stop the Suicide Bombings"
19. US-Israel Joint Conference on Suicide Terrorism
20. Muslim Cleric in Charge of Israel's Muslims--At Last
21. Monastic Slugfest Rocks Holy Sepulchre
22. Israel-Lebanon Water Wars
23. Dead Sea to Disappear?
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. Iraq Attack Set for Nov. 30?
2. Bush Nixes Brit Deadline Proposal
3. Salman Rushdie: Osama Wants Iraq Attack
4. Baker, Scowcroft, Schwarzkopf Warn Against Unilateralism
5. Bush Seeks Loophole on Congressional Approval
6. Air-Strikes Continue
7. Ramsey Clark Loves Saddam Hussein
8. US Forces to Protect Post-Saddam Iraq from Iran?
9. Israel Arming Iran?
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. Terror Bombs Rock Kabul
2. Landmines Kill Four; US Troop Wounded
3. Dostum Denies Skimming Customs Cash
4. Dostum Denies Suffocating War Captives
5. Mullah Omar Back in Afghanistan?
6. Osama Alive, in Afghanistan?
7. Kabul Airwaves Under Harsh Censorship
8. Internal Refugee Crisis
9. Bamiyan Cave-Dwellers Face Eviction
10. Saudi Charity Denies Kabul Terror Lab Link
11. CentCom Refutes Stratfor: No Afghan Morass
THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. Gen. Franks Schmoozes Turkmenbashi
2. State Department Schmoozes Turkmenbashi
3. Zaibatsu Schmooze Turkmenbashi
4. Turkmenbashi Shuts Citizens off from Outside World
5. Turkmenbashi: No Nukes!
6. Asian Development Bank Pledges Support for Pipeline
7. Uighur Separatists Make Terror List
8. US to Fund Siberia Exploration
THE CAUCASUS FRONT
1. Struggle for Pipeline Behind Georgia Crisis?
2. Georgia to Withdraw From CIS?
3. Al-Qaeda in Pankisi Gorge?
4. Pipeline Security Behind Green Berets' Georgia Mission?
5. Ecologists Protest Georgia Pipeline Plan
1. Violence Escalates--But Armitage Sees Rosy Scenario
2. Musharraf Blocks Democracy
3. Partial Justice in Gang-Rape Case
4. Maoist Front in India Terror War
5. Activist Charges State Complicity in Gujarat Terror
1. Activists Oppose US Military Aid to Indonesia
2. Indonesian Armed Forces Chief Chooses "War" in Aceh
3. Bush Backs Exxon in Aceh Human Rights Case
4. Murder and Mineral Interests in Irian Jaya
5. Unocal in Borneo
6. Unocal in the Philippines
THE ANDEAN FRONT
1. Shadow Play 1: AUC Dissolves Self Following "Terrorist" Designation
2. Shadow Play 2: Bolivian Paramilitary Dissolved; Militarization Escalates
1. Federal Intelligence Apparatus Re-Organized
2. Zapatistas Protest Repression
3. UN Official Meets Zapatistas
4. Religious Violence in Chiapas
5. Tree-Defenders Arrested in Cuernavaca
6. Anti-McDonalds Action in Oaxaca
THE WAR AT HOME
1. 6th Circuit Blasts Secret Deportation Hearings
2. 60 Pakistani Immigrants Arrested in NYC Sweep
3. Palestinian Deportee Dumped in Lebanon
4. 200 in US Under "Constant" Surveillance
5. McKinney Victim of "Middle East Proxy War"
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
1. Bush Snubs Earth Summit
2. Repression at Earth Summit
3. Capitulation at Earth Summit
4. Enron in Nigeria
5. State Department Hosts "Anti-Americanism" Confab
THE PALESTINE FRONT
1. ISRAELI RAID WIPES OUT BEDOUIN FAMILY
Four members of a Bedouin were killed and eight wounded by Israeli tank fire Aug. 28. The Bedouin were harvesting grapes in their vinyard near the Israeli settlement of Netzarim in the Gaza Strip, with some members asleep in nerby huts. At 11 PM, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) opened fire on the structures, claiming they saw "suspicious figures" crawling, and interpreted it as an infiltration attempt. Tank and machine gun fire struck the family, killing Ruwedia al-Hajin, 55, and her sons Ashraf, 22, and Nahed, 19, and cousin Mohammed Samir, 18. Ambulances arrived but were delayed from reaching the wounded for an hour. Hamas vowed revenge and Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer apologized for the deaths. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 30) The New York Times, in its initial coverage of the incident, ran an AP story under the headline "Israelis Hunt For Smuggled Weapons." (NYT, Aug. 30)
Most of the casualties were caused by "flechettes"--inch-long darts which the IDF packs into 120mm shells that explode in the air, firing the darts in all directions. Flechettes are designed to kill and maim people on the ground below. They are not illegal under international conventions (UK Independent, Aug. 30) (David Bloom)
2. WEEKLY DOSE OF HIDEOUS VIOLENCE
Mohammed el-Amori, 33, was killed Aug. 28 inside his home at the Jenin refugee camp in a shower by fire from an Israeli armored vehicle. The armoed vehicle was allegedly returning fire from Palestinian snipers. Also on Aug. 28, Mohammed Barake, 27, was seriously injured by IDF gunfire while shopping for agricultural goods at Dir el-Birah. The Palestine news agency reports he died before an ambulance was allowed to reach him. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 29)
Four were wounded Aug. 28 when Israeli tanks shelled two houses in a Bedouin camp in Sheikh Ajlin near the Jewish settlement of Netzarim. The raid came amidst an
Israeli air, sea, and land deployment meant to foil Palestinian arms smuggling. (BBC, Aug. 29) Barrels floating in the coast off Gaza that the IDF said contained weapons were determined to be full of smuggled electrical appliances.An IDF helicopter blew up one containing a refrigerator . (Ha'aretz, Aug. 29)
IDF gunfire killed two Palestinian youths and injured seven Aug. 29 in Rafah, on the border with Egypt. Palestinian hospital sources said IDF troops opened fire on children throwing rocks and bottles at tanks . (Ha'aretz, Aug. 29)
On Aug. 30, seven Palestinians and three IDF troops were hurt in clashes in Jenin. The gunfire broke out while the IDF was conducting house-to-house searches. (AFP, Aug. 30) Also Aug. 30, Rubhi Rubin, 32, from Gamala village, near Ramallah, died of a heart attack at an Israeli checkpoint while trying to get to hospital. (AFP, Aug. 30)
A Sept. 1 IDF "targeted killing" missed its intended target, an al-Aksa Martyr's Brigade leader in Tubas, but did kill five others. Three missiles from an Israeli helicopter struck the car that Jihad Suaftah was riding in, and killed another militant, Rafat Daraghmeh, along with two teenagers riding in the car, and two children standing nearby. Six others were injured, including a seven-year-old boy in critical condition. According to the Israeli human rights group B'Tselem, 36 bystanders have been killed in 80 Israeli assassinations of Palestinian militants since the start of the Intifada. (Ha'aretz, Sept. 1; UK Independent, Sept. 2; NYT, Sept. 2) According to Ha'aretz, 30 of 49 Palestinians killed in August by the IDF were unarmed civilians. (Washington Times, Sept. 1)
The IDF killed shot and killed four Palestinian workers Sept. 1 near the Beni Na'im stone-cutting plant. The Palestinian human rights organization El Haq collected testimony from eyewitnesses that the men were arrested by the IDF, then shot at close range. The IDF claims the four were caught infiltrating a nearby Jewish-owned parcel of land. (Ha'aretz, Sept. 2)
On the other side of the coin, two Israelis were injured in an Aug. 30 attack on the settlement of Bracha, near Nablus, when a militant infiltrated the settlement. (Ha'aretz, Sept. 1) According to the Jerusalem Post, an IDF ambulance came under Palestinian gunfire Aug. 31. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 1) Two Palestinians apparently trying to infiltrate the West Bank settlement of Maaleh Adumim were discovered by Israeli police, who shot and wounded one, and arrested him. The second got away . (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 1) A Palestinian woman, recently released from prison, attempted to stab an IDF soldier at a roadblock near Baka al-Gharbiya, according to Israel Radio. (Jerusalem Post, Sept.2) (David Bloom)
3. HEZBOLLAH STRIKES IDF ON LEBANON BORDER
Hezbollah claimed responsibility for its first attack on the contested Shebaa Farms in four months. Three Israeli soldiers were wounded in the attack, and one later died of his injuries. Isreali Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Lebanon and Syria are "playing with fire on the northern border." Lebanese Information Minister Ghazi Aridi in turn said Israel was the one playing with fire, and that the Lebanese people have a right to resist the Israeli occupation of Shabaa Farms. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 30)
Israel seized Shebaa Farms from Lebanon during the 1967 Six-Day War, along with the Golan Heights from Syria. The area is now claimed by Beirut as part of Lebanon, but Israel says it belongs to Syria. Recent research by an Israeli professor indicates that maps dating from the French Mandate period show that Shebaa Farms was in fact part of Lebanon at that time. (see WW3 REPORT #40) (David Bloom)
4. ISRAELI PRESIDENT: IDF "TRIGGER-HAPPY"?
After weekend strikes that killed 11 Palestinians, including 5 children, Israeli President Moshe Katsav said, "The claim as to whether the [army] was trigger-happy must be examined." In comments while visiting an Israeli Arab school, he added, "If the army reaches the conclusion that this was the case, it will decide what to do--but it would be hasty to draw conclusions now." Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said "We want peace. We are committed to peace. But you have to know one thing: to have peace you have to know how to defend peace, to keep the peace, to prevent attacks." Palestinians were unconvinced. "All talks with the Israeli side should be suspended after all these massacres," said Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo. (Reuters, Sept. 1)(David Bloom)
The Israel human rights group B'Tselem already concluded the IDF was trigger-happy in March.
5. ANOTHER ALLEGED COLLABORATOR KILLED BY AL-AKSA
Two Palestinians were kidnapped by the al-Aksa Martyr's Brigade on suspicion of collaboration with Israel. 18-year-old Rajah Ibrahim was executed, and the fate of her brother is unknown. The two are niece and nephew of Ikhlas Khouli, a 35-year old mother of seven who was earlier executed by al-Aksa for collaboration. Her sister, the mother of Rajah Ibrahim, was also interrogated by the militant group, but released after admitting her guilt. She says she only confessed after being tortured. Khouli's son Bakir says he was tortured by al-Aksa into implicating her as a collaborator. (See WW3 REPORT # 48) (Ha'aretz, Aug. 30) Tul Karm governer Issadin al-Sharif condemned the latest execution, describing the executioners as "the thieves and the scum of our society." He said he was powerless to stop the incidents because of the Israeli curfew. (UK Independent, Aug. 30) (David Bloom)
6. PALESTINIAN "COLLABORATOR" DECLARED A MARTYR
A Palestinian family has won its fight to clear the name of Ibrahim Abdo, who was kidnapped April 22 and executed in public at Ramallah's al-Manara Square by al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigade militants on charges of IDF collaboration. Abdo's family contacted Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Palestinian groups in the area, and all claimed they had nothing to do with the killing. After an appeal to Palestinian Authroity President Yasser Arafat, PA officials gave the family papers exonerating Abdo. Arafat officially declared him a martyr. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 29)(David Bloom)
7. IDF OPEN SEASON ON NEWS PHOTOGRAPHERS?
On Aug. 26, Palestinian Reuters photographer Ammar Awad was hit by a rubber bullet while covering a clash in Ramallah. He was wearing a bullet-proof jacket marked "press." (Reporters Without Borders, Aug. 27)
IDF troops also fired at Bassam Masaoud, 25, a Palestinian freelancer working for Reuters in the Rafah camp in the southern Gaza Strip, destroying the camera he had set up on a tripod. Masaoud had set up 200 yards away from where the IDF were confronting stone-throwers. (Reuters, Aug. 29)
Seif Shauki Dahlah of Jenin, a Palestinian photographer working for AFP, reported IDF misconduct and harrassment during an Aug. 28 search. "Around 30 soldiers entered my house overnight and gathered my family in a room to carry out a search, during which they stole 2,000 dollars worth of jewelry and three mobile phones," Dahlah said. He accused the IDF of ransacking his house, and taking pictures from his personal archives. "An officer also advised me to change jobs, because I was running the risk of ending up like Imad Abu Zahra," a Jenin photographer who was killed two months ago, Dahlah said. An army spokesman promised AFP Dahlah's accusations would be "very carefully examined." (AFP, Aug. 28)
An investigation of Zahra's death by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) blames the IDF. "The curfew had been lifted that day in Jenin, and the streets were calm. The gunfire that hit Abu Zahra...had not been preceded by any warning. While Abu Zahra was not wearing anything that identified him as a journalist, there was another journalist beside him who was wearing a bulletproof vest marked 'Press.' These two civilians in no way posed any threat to the Israeli tanks." RSF also said the IDF inquiry into the incident "was either non-existent or very slipshod." (RSF, Aug. 28)(see WW3 REPORT# 42)(David Bloom)
8. PALESTINIAN JOURNALISTS ATTEMPT TO BAN THE TRUTH
The Palestinian Journalists Syndicate (PJS) banned new photographers from taking pictures of armed Palestinian children, or children taking part in militant activities. Tawfik Abu Khousa, deputy chairman of the syndicate, said such pictures damaged the Palestinian cause and the credibility of Palestinian journalists. "We have decided to forbid taking any footage of armed children, because we consider that as a clear violation of the rights of children, and for negative effects these pictures have on the Palestinian people," he said. The syndicate said video footage of armed children served "the interests of Israel and its propaganda against the Palestinian people." The statement also said that there was "clear evidence that some photographers ware trying...to mark the Palestinian struggle with terrorism." Pictures of masked men were also prohibited.
The Foreign Press Association (FPA), representing international journalists in Palestine and Israel, condemned the move: "While we share the expressed desire to defend the rights of children, limiting coverage of legitimate news events and stories is not the proper way to achieve this goal." (AP, Aug. 26) The ban was overturned two days later by Naeem Tubasi, head of PJS. He blamed the ban on a senior member of PJS, who he said acted unilaterally. "The PJS council had no idea about the statement, which we condemn. It did not by any way represent the position of PJS which honors the role of media personnel," Tubasi said. (Reuters, Aug. 28) (David Bloom)
9. PLANS FOR FORCED "TRANSFER" REVEALED
An Israeli organization has published detailed plans for the "complete elimination of the Arab demographic threat to Israel" by forcibly expelling the entire Palestinian population from both Israel proper and the occupied territories within a 3-5 year period. Gamla, an organization of former Israeli military officers and settlers, published the program on its website in July. The manifesto, entitled "The Logistics of Transfer," calls forced expulsion of the Palestinians "the only possible solution" to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and is "substantiated by the Torah."
The manifesto concedes that Israel will not win widespread support for expulsion, but argues that it needs "only a modicum of support from its closest ally--the United States" to carry out the plan. The plan, Israel would launch a propaganda campaign and escalate economic strangulation of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to induce them to leave "voluntarily." Arab citizens of Israel would be politically disenfrachized as Israel would "pass a law that will stipulate in some form that non-Jewish citizens of the state, while retaining full and irrevocable civil rights, will have no ability to participate in Israeli political life." (Sic) Failing that, the manifesto continues, "Israeli Arabs can be given one more option--to convert to Judaism if they prefer to stay put." At the same time, Israel will try to convince the international community to establish a Palestinian state far away from Israel and the occupied territories--in Iraq or Saudi Arabia. The author writes: "Israel must make clear to the world community that, if a decision cannot be made within 3 to 5 years to establish a state for the Palestinian Arabs in some viable location, she will be forced to start the forced expulsion of Arabs into Jordan and the Sinai."
The manifesto calls for harsh retaliation against resistance. "Any attempts on the part of the Arabs [Palestinians] to carry out sabotage or terrorist activity must be immediately suppressed in the most brutal way. It is possible, for example, to implement a suggestion by Harvard Professor Alan Derschowitz [sic], an American liberal lawyer. With slight modification, it works as follows: Israel issues a warning that, in a response to any terrorist attack, she will immediately completely level an Arab village or settlement, randomly chosen by a computer from a published list... The Arabs residing there will be evicted without compensation, all houses and buildings completely demolished, and the settlement itself, with the help of bulldozers and any other necessary equipment, will be leveled into a large field. After the appearance of several such fields the Arabs will lose any desire to commit terrorist attacks and the number of Arabs wanting to leave Eretz Yisrael will certainly increase."
One of the group's three founders is Elyakim Haetzni, a prominent West Bank settler leader who lives in Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron. Another was the late Lt. Col. Shlomo Baum, a founder of Israel's notorious Unit 101, which with the young Ariel Sharon as its leader carried out the massacre of dozens of civilians in the Palestinian village of Qibya in 1954. The third, retired Col. Moshe Leshem, has a show on the settler radio network Arutz 7.
Gamla receives tax-deductible contributions in the US through a New York-based charity, PEF Israel Endowment Funds (www.pefisrael.org) which states that its was established in 1922 by Justice Louis Brandeis and Rabbi Stephen Wise, and calls one of its stated purposes "promoting greater tolerance and understanding between religious and secular communities and between Arabs and Jews."
( Ali Abunimah for The Electronic Intifada)
See also: "Dershowitz Calls for Ethnic Cleansing," WW3 REPORT #37
10. "TRANSFER" ALREADY UNDERWAY?
Around 80,000 Palestinians have left the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2002, a rise of 50% compared to last year, a senior Palestinian Authority official said. The official, who asked not to be named, told The Jerusalem Post another 50,000 Palestinians are currently trying to leave through the Jordan River. "We are seriously talking about transfer," the official added. "We are holding urgent deliberations with the brothers in Jordan and Egypt to try to stop the influx." The figures--which do not include Palestinian residents of Jerusalem who have Israeli-issued ID cards--are based on data provided by several PA ministries, which issue travel documents for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Last week Bethlehem Mayor Hanna Nasser said in an interview with the Post that about 1,000 Palestinians from his town had left over the past few months. Thousands of Palestinians have been camping outside Jericho, waiting for their turn to cross the Allenby and Adam bridges into Jordan. Hundreds others are waiting near the Rafah border crossing. Jordanian authorities have imposed limits on the number of Palestinians they will allow in for fear Israel will not allow them back. One PA cabinet minister told the Post: "They fear that [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon wants to expel the Palestinians to Jordan, where they would be able to establish a substitute state. This is understandable." (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 26)
11. IDF CHIEF: PALESTINIAN THREAT "CANCER-LIKE"
The new head of the Israeli army, Lt. Gen. Moshe Ya'alon, said in a speech to a rabbinical assembly that the Palestinian "threat" had "cancer-like attributes" and "must be fought to the bitter end." Gen. Ya'alon called the Palestinian conflict an "existential" threat to Israel, saying the Palestinian leadership does not recognize Israel's right to exist. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defended the comments as a "professional opinion." Noting that Palestinian hardliners make the same argument in reverse, leading Israeli peace activist, Uri Avnery, said the general's remarks "preclude any kind of peace-making and amount to a demand for unconditional capitulation." (UK Independent, Aug. 27)
12. PALESTINIANS FACE AGRICULTURAL COLLAPSE
Palestinian Agriculture Minister Rafeeq al-Natsha said that Palestinian losses in agriculture have reached one billion US dollars in the last two years, and warned that the Israeli policy of re-occupation of Palestinian cities and villages "would lead to an agricultural and economic catastrophe in Palestinian territories." Al-Natsha told Al Ayyam daily, "The Israeli army incursions and reoccupation of cities within the last two years had stopped the implementation of many funded projects in the agriculture field." He cited destruction of agricultural land as well as agricultural development projects being held up by the crisis. In the Gaza Strip alone, the Israeli army has bulldozed about 7,000 donums (657 hectares) of Palestinian agricultural land, cut 113,664 olive, citrus, guava and grape trees and destroyed 100 greenhouses since October 2000, the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement . (Palestine Chronicle, Aug. 28)
13. ISRAELI ARABS MAY FACE DEMOLITION
Public Security Minister Uzi Landau is expected to ask the defense ministry for authorization to demolish the homes of two Israeli Arabs suspected of involvement in planning the Meron Junction suicide bombing, Haaretz reports. Deputy Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra told the newspaper he believed the suspects' homes should be demolished since they had played a key role in the bombing. Landau, due to return from vacation later this week, already initiated procedures to have suspects' homes demolished following exposure of an East Jerusalem Hamas cell. The last time the ministry asked for authorization to demolish the home of an Israeli Arab--Mohammed Shaker Habeishi from the village of Abu Snan in the Galilee, who carried out a suicide bombing in Nahariya--Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer turned down the request. The Defense Ministry is empowered to authorize demolitions under emergency mandatory regulations. A decision is still pending in the East Jerusalem case . (Haaretz, Aug. 27)
14. WEST BANK CAVE-DWELLERS FACE EVICTION
Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions is protesting the expulsion of the cave dwellers south of Hebron, now pending before Israel's High Court of Justice. Reports the Committee: "In the first third of the 19th century (1830s), poverty-stricken Palestinian families left their villages in the South Hebron region and went to eke out their livelihoods in the surrounding hills and fields on lands they could afford to purchase on the outskirts of the existing villages living in the numerous and spacious caves spread throughout the area (today the south West Bank). In the generations that followed these families developed a unique culture and way of life based on their sheep herding, agriculture and cave dwelling." But the Israeli occupation "led to expropriation of the Palestinian farmers' land due to establishment of military bases [and] closed military zones. From the early eighties, the Israeli government confiscated more land as it began building settlements in the area. Today this scattered pastoral Palestinian population numbers a few thousand--but their very existence is now in danger. They are facing imminent expulsion by the Israeli occupation authorities."
750 inhabitants of the caves--mostly children and women--were expelled in November 1999. A High Court injunction halted further evictions in March 2000. But in July 2001, with no warning, Israeli army bulldozers tore through the area, destroying caves and other dwellings, stopping up wells with rocks and dirt, mowing down crops and livestock, and expelling hundreds of inhabitants. the committee writes: "It is clear that the israeli government aspires to expel the population of cave dwellers, to reinforce its own settlements in the area, and to eventually annex this territory to Israel 'cleansed' of its Palestinian inhabitants." The Committee is calling for international pressure to stop the evictions. For more info, see: http://www.southebron.com
See a photo essay on ethnic cleansing in the South Hebron hills.
15. PEACE NOW CALLS ON SETTLERS TO LEAVE
The Peace Now movement has launched a campaign to get settlers to voluntarily abandon the West Bank in return for compensation, sending hundreds of letters to settlers offering to assist them in receiving compensation. Peace Now is calling for a government body that would provide the compensation to those who leave. The Council of Judea Samaria and Gaza said it was not concerned about the campaign, and that it would have no impact the settler movement, which consists of some 200, 000 people. (Jerusalem Post, Aug. 29)
16. BRITAIN'S CHIEF RABBI: WAR ERODING JEWISH VALUES
A Reuters photo of Israeli soldiers posing beside body of a dead Palestinian as a colleague takes their picture has prompted Britain's chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, to warned that two years of Israeli-Palestinian violence have pushed Israel down a path which is incompatible with Judaism's core ideals. "There are things which happen on a daily basis which make me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew," Sacks said, adding thart he was "profoundly shocked" by the photo. At least 1,510 Palestinians and 589 Israelis have been killed since the start of the Palestinian revolt in September 2000. (Reuters, Aug. 27)
The Israeli soldiers posed beside the body of a Palestinian gunman who was killed in an exchange of fire at Baka a-Sharkiya checkpoint in February. The photo is on line
17. POLL FINDS SUPPORT FOR NON-VIOLENT PALESTINIAN MOVEMENT
A survey conducted for Search for Common Ground, a non-governmental organization that pursues conflict resolution around the globe, found that a majority of both Palestinians and Israelis would approve of the Palestinians launching a non-violent protest movement to press for an end to the occupation. Opined Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper: "Human nature has its flaws, but these polls demonstrate the resilience of its qualities. Despite all the bloodshed of the past 23 months, most regular Palestinians and Israelis are still capable of getting past the enmity and dealing with each other as civilized beings. The many Palestinians who understand this must band together in order to overrule the militant minority, a move that just might prompt their Israeli counterparts to do the same." (Daily Star, Aug. 30)
18. PALESTINIAN INTERIOR MINISTER: "STOP THE SUICIDE BOMBINGS"
The Palestinian Interior Minister Abdel Razak Yehiyeh told the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot Aug. 30 that he had called for Palestinian militant groups to "stop the suicide bombings, stop the murders for no reason." Yehiyeh also decried that "Children were exploited for these attacks," which are often carried out by teenagers. (AP, Aug. 30)
On Sept. 2, Yehiyeh went further, calling on Palestinians to end all violent actions against Israelis and switch to civil struggle. "All forms of Palestinian violence have to stop," Yehiyeh told Reuters in an interview. "All resistance acts that are characterized by violence, such as using arms or even stones...are harmful. I call for civil resistance within the framework of the political struggle." He again stressed his opposition to the suicide bombings. "Let's admit...we have lost a lot," he said of the suicide attacks. "I am not saying this side is to blame, or that. I'm saying there is occupation and dealing with occupation in this manner has harmed us. Therefore we have to find other ways to deal with it." (Reuters, Sept. 2)
19. U.S.-ISRAEL JOINT CONFERENCE ON SUICIDE TERRORISM
Israel and the US held a joint conference in Washington DC on suicide terrorism last week. Attended by some 150 security personnel from both countries, the conference was intended to boost security cooperation. The Israeli delegation was headed by National Security Council Chairman Uzi Dayan, and included representatives of IDF, Shin Bet and the Health Ministry. The US delegation included representatives of the new Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, the Pentagon and various branches of the armed services. (Haartez, Aug. 30)
20. MUSLIM CLERIC IN CHARGE OF ISRAEL'S MUSLIMS--AT LAST
For the first time in its history, Israel has appointed a Muslim as the director of the Religious Affairs Ministry's Muslim department. Abdul Rahman Daoud Kabaha, 41, is a graduate of a seminary oriented towards Sufism, but does not regard himself as sectarian. "I define myself as a Muslim true to the Koran and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad," he said. Kabaha says in addition to administering religious services to Muslims, he wishes to promote coexistence and understanding. "I want religion to be outside of the conflict in our region. I want to use religion to draw people together and to promote peace," he said. Religious Affairs Ministry director-general Moshe Shimoni sees Kabaha's appointment as part of a new trend to put members of particular religious communities in charge of their respective affairs. He notes that the ministry has named a Christian Arab, Cesar Marjieh, to run the department for Christian communities. (Jerusalem Post, July 25) The homepage for the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs says it administers to the religious needs of Jews, Muslems, Christians, Druze, Karaites, Samarians and others. The Baha'i faith is administered from the International House of Justice in Haifa. The shrine of Bab, memorializing Baha'i founder Siyyad Ali Muhammed, AKA the Bab, is located in Haifa. ( http://www.upliftingwords.org/ShrineBab_nn4.html) (David Bloom)
21. MONASTIC SLUGFEST ROCKS HOLY SEPULCHRE
Twelve people, including a policewoman, were injured in a brawl between Ethiopian and Coptic monks at the Deir el-Sultan Church in Jerusalem's Old City July 27. The two sects have long been at odds over rights to the church, known as the Holy Sepulchre and believed to be the burial place of Jesus Christ. Police restored order, and an effort to reach a compromise is under way. (Jerusalem Post, July 28)
The fracas began when Rev. Abdel Mallek , a 72-year-old Egyptian priest, moved his wooden chair to a shady part of the church's roof. The New York Times account detailed how the Church of the Holy Sepulchre has been the object of fierce contention among the Greek Orthodox, the Roman Catholics and the churches of Armenia, Egypt (Coptic), Syria and Ethiopia:
"Built by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine in 335 CE, razed in 1009, rebuilt by the Crusaders and endlessly altered and subdivided since, the church has evolved into a warren of shrines... The church ranks as a wonder of the world in the minutiae and complexity of the rights claimed by the various denominations. In 1757, to put an end to the endless squabbling, Turks, then Jerusalem's rulers, proclaimed a status quo for all holy sites in the city, which was confirmed in 1852 and has been enforced by all succeeding conquerors--including, since 1967, Israel. Among other things, the status quo assigned Muslims to serve as guards to the leaders of the churches and as custodians of the key to the Holy Sepulcher. To this day, Muslims in fezes precede the ruling bishops through the church, clearing the path by clanging metal-tipped staves on the stone floor... Every attempted alteration becomes embroiled in disputes, some stretching into decades--as the Israelis learned when they tried, futilely, to negotiate the opening of a second entrance for the throngs expected in the year 2000. With the outbreak of the Israeli-Palestinian violence, the throngs never materialized."
The church's roof is assigned to Ethiopian Christians, who call it the Monastery of the Sultan--a name presumably dating to Ottoman times. The Ethiopians once had their own space in the church below, but it was claimed by others when a plague killed all their monks in 1658--setting the stage for the current conflict: "The Egyptian contention is that they allowed the Ethiopians, whose church was until recently linked with the Egyptian Coptic church, to settle on the roof in 1818 as their guests. In 1972, the Israeli High Court ruled that the Egyptians do in fact have control over the roof, but that it was not the time to make any change. 'The High Court ruled that he can sit there,' said Daoud Manieuas, a spokesman for the Egyptians, referring to Father Mallek. 'But they hit him and throw water at him; they violated the status quo.' The Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs has offered to mediate, but the Ethiopians have yet to designate a delegate." (NYT, Aug. 26)
22. ISRAEL-LEBANON WATER WARS
Lebanese plans to pump water from the Hasbani River have sparked protest from Israeli environmentalists, who claim that nature reserves in northern Galilee would be impacted. The Council of the South, the local Lebanese administrative body, hopes to pump 10,000 cubic meters of water a day from the Wazzani Springs, which feed the Hasbani. Israel's Water Commission told Haaretz it "is aware of the matter, is studying it and learning its implications, and will respond accordingly." Israel's Nature and Parks Authority said the pumping would seriously damage nature reserves along the river. But Qabalan Qabalan, the president of the Council of the South, argues that Lebanon has a right to utilize the Hasbani. "We have the water and we have to feed our villages," he said. The UN is watching the situation closely and is concerned about new tensions along the border. The area is enjoying its longest period of calm since October 2000, when the campaign to drive the Israelis out of the Shebaa Farms began. (Daily Star, Aug. 24)
23. DEAD SEA TO DISAPPEAR?
Another contested project is the Red-Dead Canal, a proposed 180-kilometer long channel linking the Red Sea's Gulf of Akaba to the inland Dead Sea. The canal would allow some two billion cubic meters of water a year to run from into the Dead Sea. Energy harnessed from the moving water will be used to power a desalination plant to
provide drinking and agricultural water for Israel, Jordan and the West Bank. The project would also be an effort to replenish the Dead Sea, which has been receding at a rate of one meter a year for the past 15 years and is now about 30 meters below its historic average level. Experts say if the current rate of decline continues the Dead Sea will disappear entirely in about 50 years.
Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Roni Milo together with Jordanian Planning Minister Bassem Awadallah and Water Minister Hazem Nasser jointly presented the plan to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg. But Gideon Bromberg, director of Friends of the Earth Middle East, said feasibility studies should have been undertaken before making public announcements. "They are jumping the gun," said Bromberg. "They said they are going ahead with planning the project even though they haven't completed the tests. We are saying they should complete the tests first." Bromberg said altered current flows in the Gulf of Akaba could damage coral reefs, that salt water could seep into the groundwater aquifers, and that the environmental balance of the Dead Sea may be upset by the introduction of seawater. The Dead Sea is actually saline lake . (Jerusalem Post, Dept. 2)
THE IRAQ FRONT
1. IRAQ ATTACK SET FOR NOV. 30?
Israeli military sources told the newspaper Maariv that a US military delegation revealed plans for a Nov. 30 attack on Iraq in briefings with Israeli and Jordanian military officers. The assault will begin with a "massive attack from the air and from the sea," according to the report. Two US generals reportedly said the attack will run several weeks--and will not end until Saddam is ousted. One US officer reportedly told the Israelis: "President Bush has decided this time to kill Saddam Hussein, not like in the Gulf War, when his father didn't succeed in doing it." The New York Post gleefully reported the allegations under the headline: "HEY, SADDAM, CIRCLE NOV. 30--WE'RE COMING TO GET YOU " (NYP, Aug. 30)
2. BUSH NIXES BRIT DEADLINE PROPOSAL
The White House has rejected a proposal by UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw that a deadline be set for Saddam Hussein to accept UN weapons inspectors before a military assault against Iraq is launched. A spokesman for President Bush said, "The United States position is that the Iraqi regime needs to abide by its obligations. There is no room for negotiation or discussion. They need to do so, and do so now ." (UK Telegraph, Sept. 1)
3. SALMAN RUSHDIE: OSAMA WANTS IRAQ ATTACK
Renowned Indian author Salman Rushdie says a US attack on Iraq would be a disaster that would play into the hands of Osama bin Laden. Writing in the UK Guardian Aug. 31, Rushdie warned that an attack on Iraq would prompt Saudi Arabia to expel US forces from its soil--thus capitulating to one of bin Laden's main demands. It would also turn the entire region against the US. "Iran--which so recently fought a long, brutal war against Iraq--would surely support its erstwhile enemy, and might even come into the conflict on the Iraqi side. The entire Arab world would be radicalized and destabilized. What a disastrous twist of fate it would be if the feared Islamic jihad were brought into being not by the al-Qaeda gang but by the President of the US and his close advisers," Rushdie wrote.
The controversial author also accused the Bush administration of failing to investigate US-based groups that fund organizations responsible for killing of thousands of Muslims in India because of Pakistan's critical support in the US War on Terrorism. "Just as American-Irish fund-raisers once bankrolled the terrorists of the Provisional IRA, so now, shadowy bodies across America are said to be helping to pay for mass murder in India, while the US government turns a blind eye," he wrote.
4. BAKER, SCOWCROFT, SCHWARZKOPF WARN AGAINST UNILATERALISM
The rift between George W. Bush and his father's old cabinet members over whether to invade Iraq is becoming increasingly public. On Aug. 25, James Baker--Secretary of State during Operation Desert Storm--dissented in a New York Times op-ed piece from a unilateral US attack on Saddam Hussein. Baker wrote that while a unilateral attack on Iraq could succeed in ousting Saddam, "we should try our best not to go it alone, and the President should reject the advice of those who counsel doing so. The costs in all areas will be much greater, as well as the political risks, both domestic and international, if we end up going it alone or with only one or two countries." Baker's successor as Secretary of State under the first Bush administration, Lawrence Eagleburger, has also denounced pro-invasion hawks as dangerous and "devious." Former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft similarly advised against unilateralism in the Wall Street Journal earlier this month. And last week Norman Schwarzkopf, the retired general who was allied commander in Desert Storm, warned the President against "going it alone." (London Times, Aug. 26)
5. BUSH SEEKS LOOPHOLE ON CONGRESSIONAL APPROVAL
White House counsel Alberto Gonzales has told President Bush that permission for an attack on Iraq remains in force from the 1991 congressional resolution that gave his father authority for Operation Desert Storm. Bush has said he will consult Congress before deciding to proceed, but has stopped short of saying he will seek its approval. But Michael J. Glennon, an international law professor at Tufts University, said the 1991 authority was "narrowly circumscribed" at the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and ended on April 6, 1991 when Iraq's cease-fire was formalized with the UN Security Council. (London Times, Aug. 27)
6. AIR-STRIKES CONTINUE
US warplanes hit a radar site in northern Iraq's "no-fly" zone after the radar targeted US and British jets Aug. 27, the Pentagon said. The strike was the sixth in just over a week, and the 31st this year against air defense targets in the northern and southern no-fly zones, according to Pentagon figures. Iraq also charged US and British planes attacked civilian targets in the south of the country Aug. 26, killing eight people--a claim denied by US and British officials. (Reuters, Aug. 27)
7. RAMSEY CLARK LOVES SADDAM HUSSEIN
"Any adventure or attacks the US administration might undertake against Iraq will be completely doomed to failure," Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said in talks in Baghdad with former US attorney general Ramsey Clark. "The resistance of the Iraqi people is the sort to doom all plans drawn up by imperialism to failure," Aziz said. He warned that President Bush "will find [in Iraq] a warrior people headed by a fighting commander." Clark, a frequent visitor to Iraq, confirmed his "support to the fight of the Iraqi people to put an end to the unjust embargo and their resistance to [US] threats." (AFP, Aug. 26)
Interviewed by CNN's Wolf Blitzer in Baghdad, Clark reiterated his support for Iraq's position of refusing to allow weapons inspectors back in. When Blitzer noted that Saddam used chemical weapons against his own people at the 1988 attack on the Kurdish city of Halabja, Clark responded: "Wolf, that's pretty tired, you know. People have worked that for years and years..." and immediately changed the subject, asserting that Saddam didn't use chemical weapons against US troops in Desert Storm. As for the notion that Clark is being used by Saddam, he said that people
who suggest that are "not very serious about the truth."(CNN Aug. 29)
8. U.S. FORCES TO PROTECT POST-SADDAM IRAQ FROM IRAN?
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee heard testimony from Col. Scott Feil, former chief of the strategy division for the Joints Chiefs of Staff, that the US would have to ensure the security of Iraq against Iranian aggression after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Col. Feil told the committee that Iran could take advantage of a defeated Iraq by trying to settle scores from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, and that US forces would have to defend the disputed Shatt al-Arab waterway and Iraqi oil fields. He said the US military would also have to ensure the disarmament of the Iraqi army and the destruction of non-conventional weapons facilities. (Middle East Newsline, Sept. 1)
9. ISRAEL ARMING IRAN?
German authorities in Hamburg seized Israeli military equipment allegedly headed for Iran Aug. 28. Tehran dismissed as "complete nonsense" allegations it was involved with the Zim-Anvers, the ship carrying the equipment. The ship was carrying rubber parts that could be used in tracks for tanks and armored vehicles. German officials claimed to have received intelligence it was headed to Iran instead of Thailand as claimed. The Israeli Defense Ministry said it had ordered an investigation, but asserted the Israeli shipping company PAD, headed by Avihai Weinstein, had received "a legal export license for these products made in Israel upon its confirmation that Thailand was the final destination of the shipment." Weinstein claimed ignorance of German claims that the real destination was Iran. Raphael Eitan, an adviser on terrorism for several Israeli governments, told Israeli radio it was impossible for Weinstein "not to know what the final destination of the shipment was." His said he believed the Israeli Defense ministry "was aware of the shipment's final destination, but could not refuse the export license and set up a trap" for Weinstein by alerting the German police.
Israel severed diplomatic relations with Iran during the 1979 Islamic revolution, but secretly armed Iran against Iraq in the 1980s Gulf War. The most infamous example of the shadowy links between the two countries was the 1986 "Irangate" scandal, in which Israel served as an intermediary for secret US arms shipments to Iran, with the profits going to the right-wing Contra rebels in Nicaragua. (AFP, Aug. 29)
THE AFGHANISTAN FRONT
1. TERROR BOMBS ROCK KABUL
A bomb planted in a pushcart exploded in Kabul on Sept. 1, killing at least one and injuring two others. (AP, Sept. 1) Days earlier, a teenage girl had a hand ripped off by a bomb explosion in an apartment in the Afghan capital Kabul. Witnesses said the device was shaped like a child's toy. (Reuters, Aug. 27)
2. LANDMINES KILL FOUR; U.S. TROOP WOUNDED
An Afghan working for a Danish-supervised mine clearance team was killed by a landmine near Bagram air base. Three more were killed when an ambulance sent to help the man passed over a mine. (BBC, Sept. 1) A US special operations soldier and a Swiss land mine clearer were also wounded while clearing mines in central Afghanistan's Bamiyan province. The US troop received wounds in the hand, but is expected to fully recover. He is being treated at Bagram air base. The Swiss worker's wounds were less serious. (AP, Aug. 27)
3. DOSTUM DENIES SKIMMING CUSTOMS CASH
Uzbek warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum denies accusations that his forces, which control Afghanistan's northern borders, have pocketed huge sums of customs revenue. But customs officials at Hayratan, near the border with Uzbekistan, said Dostum's forces were undermining their authority. Said one local customs official, Rahim: "I am the director of customs but I don't know who collects the money and where it has gone in these past few weeks. The collection is our responsibility, but for the last month, the cash has been taken by some irresponsible people who make trouble.' Mohammad Atta, general manager of Da Afghanistan Bank--the country's central bank--in Takhar province, charged that leaders of Dostum's Junbish-i-Islami militia are responsible. 'We haven't received the money from Hayratan for around 20 days because they are keeping it there," he said. The central government in Kabul claims it hasn't received any payment from the region since July . (IWPR, Aug. 22)
4. DOSTUM DENIES SUFFOCATING WAR CAPTIVES
Uzbek warlord Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum denies accusations that up to 1,000 Taliban prisoners suffocated while in his custody. In a statement with two other Northern Alliance commanders, Dostum pledged to co-operate with any investigation into the deaths. He admitted that some 200 Taliban prisoners died in containers while they were being shipped to the notorious Shebarghan prison in northern Afghanistan late last year, but said the deaths were mainly as a result of injuries sustained by the prisoners in fighting in the city of Kunduz. Human Rights groups say that the prisoners died while being transported in containers on their way to prison, and suspect they suffocated in sealed containers . (BBC, Aug. 30)
See also WW3 REPORT #33
5. MULLAH OMAR BACK IN AFGHANISTAN?
Fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has secretly returned to Afghanistan and is living in remote hideouts in the south of the country, "well-placed diplomatic sources" in Kabul told the UK Guardian. They claimed Mullah Omar slipped back across the border from Pakistan several months ago and resumed residence near his old base in Kandahar. The source claimed US forces discovered his presence in the area last month only to lose his trail again shortly afterwards. "The Americans got a fix on him six weeks ago. But then they lost him again," the source said. (UK Guardian, Aug. 30)
6. OSAMA ALIVE, IN AFGHANISTAN?
The New York Times reports that "American commanders appear to have concluded that Osama bin Laden is probably still alive and moving between mountain hideouts somewhere on a 250-mile stretch of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan" The story, based primarily on anonymous sources, read:
"The hunt for Mr. bin Laden and his top lieutenant, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has proved to be as murky as the silted rivers flowing through these inhospitable mountains. Nearly a year after Sept. 11, and nearly nine months after Mr. bin Laden's associates delivered their last videotape of him discussing the attacks in New York and Washington, hard facts about the quest are elusive. But some American officers, speaking privately, say the assumption driving the manhunt is that the men are alive. They cite Afghan and Pakistani intelligence reports, mostly sketchy, that have spoken of Mr. bin Laden and an entourage of several dozen moving more than once since the American bombing of the Tora Bora mountains late last year. Some of those reports, the officers say, have suggested that the fugitives may have moved through the mountains on horseback, probably on cloudy nights to elude aerial surveillance. The region being searched covers four provinces--Kunar, Nangahar, Paktika and Paktia--and the adjoining Pakistani tribal areas."
Lt. Col. Roger King told the Times: "I'd say it's a reasonable conclusion that we feel that if bin Laden is alive, we're providing enough pressure to make sure he keeps moving. It's easier to spot a moving target." (NYT, Aug. 28)
Asia Times reported Aug. 28 that Osama has recently returned to Afghanistan's Kunar province from hiding in Pakistan, and has re-organized al-Qaeda as Fath-i-Islam (Victory of Islam). He is now being protected by local Pashtun tribesmen. One Kunar Pashtun leader said, "If the Americans are serious about grabbing Osama, they will have to put up a fight. On the ground. Man to man. There will be a lot of body bags." Asia Times cited an Aug. 10 report in Karachi's Urdu-language Daily Ummat.
An new Afghan government intelligence report says al-Qaeda has regrouped in Pakistan and is attempting to purchase Chinese antiaircraft weapons to use against US forces and the new Afghan regime. The report also accuses Pakistan of serving as an arms conduit between China and al-Qaeda. "China is a strategic friend of Pakistan, and they are capable of bringing such kind of weapons to Pakistan anytime so they can be used against our government," said Engineer Ali, chief of Afghanistan's intelligence agency, KHAD. "China does not want to create problems for us," he adds, "but the Pakistanis can deceive China. They can tell China that the weapons will be used for its own domestic purposes, but then use them for international terrorism." At a press conference in Islamabad, Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf flatly denied that Pakistan was supporting al-Qaeda, and instead charged that al-Qaeda had regrouped within Afghanistan "because of the weakness of the central transitional government in Kabul." (CSM, Aug. 23)
7. KABUL AIRWAVES UNDER HARSH CENSORSHIP
Authorities in Kabul have banned Indian films from state TV and women singing from the radio, Afghan officials announced. Engineer Mohammad Ishaq, the head of Kabul TV and Radio, issued the decision with no prior warning. Ishaq is a senior member of the Northern Alliance, which dominates President Hamid Karzai's government and helped the US oust the Taliban regime last fall. He was not immediately available for comment. Harsh Taliban restrictions on media broadcasts have been loosened under Information Minister Sayed Raheen Makhdoom. Indian films, replete with song and romance, have become hugely popular, with restaurants competing for customers by showing them. Ironically, the films have not been banned in Kandahar, the former Taliban heartland. (Reuters, Aug. 28)
8. INTERNAL REFUGEE CRISIS
Some 1.6 million Afghan refugees have returned to Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban, and the UN is helping the new government resettle them. But now a new stream of Pashtun refugees are fleeing northern Afghanistan for Pashtun-majority regions in the south. Last week, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced he had warned President Hamid Karzai of ethnic violence in the north. Many now live in improvised camps in Spin Boldak, Herat, and Jalalabad. If the government can guarantee the safe return of Pashtuns to areas controlled by Tajik and Uzbek militias in the north, the refugees could become a permanent burden for the authorities. Said UNHCR spokesperson Maki Shinohara, "Pashtuns are being driven out by the majority populations in the North because they are of the same ethnic group as the Taliban."
Technically, aid workers call the refugees "internally displaced persons" because they have not actually fled Afghanistan. But many say they are considering trying to cross the border into Pakistan because conditions at the camps are so bad. (CSM, Aug. 30)
Many of the refugees in the camps are also Kuchi nomads, forced to abandon their way of life by three years of war and drought. (See "Civilian Casualties Escalate," WW3 REPORT #5)
9. BAMIYAN CAVE-DWELERS FACE EVICTION
Afghan authorities wanting to rebuild the renowned Bamiyan Buddhas, destroyed by the Taliban, are evicting refugees who have taken up residence in caves surrounding the the Buddhas. 600 longtime residents, some who have lived up to 20 years in the caves, were evicted in May, but new families moved in. Those evicted are facing tough times. Some were settled in the Soor Ghul valley, where they live in crude tents, with no facilties. Mohammad Tahir Joya, Bamiyan's refugee affairs representative, says aid groups reneged on promises of shelter and sanitation for the refugees. "They are yet to offer any assistance although we have repeatedly asked them for help," he said. The UN has visited the refugees, and is promising assistance.
The caves, hundreds of which are carved into the rock by the elements or hand, were inhabited by Buddhist monks up to the seventh century. Some caves have carved rooms which once contained alters. Starting about 20 years ago, refugees started to put doors across the mouths of the caves to create crude shelter. Up to 10 people live in some many of them. Most of the cave-dwellers are landless and poor, and needed a free place to live while tending farming plots, or working in the nearby Bamiyan bazaar. Although their exact number is unknown, a Red Cross census earlier this year found 56 families dwelling in the caves. Although there is no water or electricity, the caves provide a cool place in the summer--and protection from bombing.
The Taliban militia destroyed the mammoth Buddha statues in front of the caves in early 2001. "We got really sad when we saw what had happened,'' says cave-dweller Ghulan Eshan, a father of 10. He said the Buddhas "were the property of Afghanistan," and that they should have been protected. He added that they attracted visitors, who occasionally would give money to the children. (IWPR, Aug. 9; USA Today, June 28) (David Bloom)
See also: "Did Secret Bamiyan Buddha Survive?", WW3 REPORT #44:
10. SAUDI CHARITY DENIES KABUL TERROR LAB LINK
A Saudi charity, the Al Wafa Humanitarian Organization, denied reports that its Kabul headquarters housed a terrorist laboratory, the Saudi press reported. Afghan police found the store of chemicals in offices once used by the charity, international peacekeepers said Aug. 25. (Reuters, Aug. 26)
11. CENTCOM REFUTES STRATFOR: NO AFGHAN MORASS
The private defense analyst Stratfor issued an Aug. 28 report airing claims in the South Asian press that the Taliban and al Qaeda are regrouping in preparation for a major offensive in Afghanistan. The report also cited numerous claims that US casualties are far higher than what the Pentagon admits. Read the report:
"Sources in the Afghan government said guerrillas, believed to be Pushtun Taliban members, attacked US troops in the Zawar region of Paktia province on the night of Aug. 4, with several US troops and several attackers allegedly killed. The Pentagon report of the same incident confirmed that a patrol came under heavy fire at that time in Paktia province but said that only two attackers were killed. Similarly, Afghan government sources reported that a rocket attack on a US air base at Jalalabad airport Aug. 28 resulted in casualties among US and allied Afghan troops. However, the US military reported there were no casualties. An Afghan government source also reported that more than 110 US troops have gone missing in Afghanistan since October, the majority presumed dead. And a US military source told STRATFOR that US troops are suffering frequent casualties including fatalities that are going largely unreported in the press. STRATFOR's military sources in countries around Afghanistan have repeated similar accounts for some time: that there is more to many of the reported incidents, and still more clashes are not being reported at all. Sources in Russian and Indian intelligence separately estimate the US military has suffered between 300 and 400 killed in Afghanistan, with an unknown number wounded. The Pentagon says substantially fewer than 100 have been killed. Although foreign estimates may be inflated, there is no way to independently confirm US claims either."
Reached for comment by WW3 REPORT, Cmdr. Frank Merriman of CentCom responded via e-mail, categorically denying STRATFOR's claims: "We have recorded 19 US soldiers who have died from combat wounds and 22 who have died from non-hostile causes. (One is classified as Died from Wounds Received in Action and is not listed as a KIA.) Total: 41 US dead. We have about 100 wounded in action and about 90 injured and classified as non-hostile casualties. Total casualties (all categories): about 230. Also, we have no missing soldiers (0)." Cmdr. Merriman accused STRATFOR of unprofessionalism. "Using cryptic, unnamed (and therefore unspecific) sources makes it easy to allege whatever information one wants to project," he said. "Why not name names?"
THE NEW GREAT GAME
1. GEN. FRANKS SCHMOOZES TURKMENBASHI
At a meeting between Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov and US CentCom chief Gen. Tommy Franks, an agreement was reached to step up cooperation on drug trafficking, border patrol and stabilizing the Central Asia region. Gen. Franks, now on a tour of the Central Asian states, said the US is going to expand contacts with the Turkmen Defense Ministry, and is ready to supply equipment and provide personnel training. (Caspian News Agency, Aug. 27)
Saparmurat Niyazov--known to his followers as Turkmenbashi, Leader of the Turkmen--has fostered a
that borders on the megalomaniacal, and was recently proclaimed president-for-life. See WW3 REPORT #48
2. STATE DEPARTMENT SCHMOOZES TURKMENBASHI
At a meeting between Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov and US State Department coordinator for US assistance to Eurasian nations, William Taylor, the diplomat hailed the president-for-life for encouraging corporate investment. Read the account of the meeting from the official Turkmen TV Aug. 26:
"The American diplomat passed the greetings of the leadership of his country to the president and stated that his country supports the political and economic independence of Turkmenistan and its independent course... Noting the close cooperation between the countries in providing aid for Afghanistan, the diplomat expressed his support for the neutral course of Turkmenistan and its regional policies, directed at the development of cooperation. In this context, Taylor expressed his support for the construction project of a gas pipeline to Pakistan through the territories of Afghanistan. The diplomat noted that it is attracting growing interest among major American corporations interested in participating in profitable and commercially-substantiated projects."
The list of US companies investing in Turkmenistan on the regime's official web site (predictably www.turkmenbashi.org) includes oil companies Unocal and Mobil as well as oil services giant Halliburton and helicopter manufacturers Bell and Sikorsky.
See also: "US Envoy Pledges Support for Trans-Afghan Pipeline," WW3 REPORT #42
3. ZAIBATSU SCHMOOZE TURKMENBASHI
At a meeting between Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov and a delegation of Japanese industrialists led by Itochu Corporation chairman Minoru Murofushi, oil and gas development was at the top of the agenda. During the talks at the Turkmen capital, Murofushi stated that the Itochu and Komatsu companies will consider "priorities in which we can support the construction of the trans-Afghan gas pipeline". (Turkmen Foreign Ministry press release, from BBC Monitoring, Aug. 19)
4. TURKMENBASHI SHUTS CITIZENS OFF FROM OUTSIDE WORLD
In a July 27 report entitled "Turkmenistan: The New Hermit Kingdom," Stratfor details how President Saparmurat Niyazov is moving to isolate his citizens from the outside world even as he opens the country to corporate investment. Turkmen citizens were barred from holding foreign bank accounts on June 21, and the last Internet provider was forced to close on June 30. On June 20 Niyazov announced that all potential university students would be screened back three generations to filter out all but "the most worthy" applicants. Students previously approved to study in the US are now barred from departing.
5. TURKMENBASHI: NO NUKES!
At a meeting between Turkmenistan's President Saparmurat Niyazov and UN Under Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala, the president-for-life called for a multilateral treaty establishing a Central Asia nuclear-free zone. Niyazov said that Turkmenistan refused to keep nuclear arms left on the republic's territory after the collapse of the USSR. "The country now has neither weapons of mass destruction nor their components," he said. (Caspian News Agency, Aug. 27)
6. ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK PLEDGES SUPPORT FOR PIPELINE
The Asian Development Bank officially confirmed its participation in plans for construction of a trans-Afghan gas pipeline. The bank has sent letters to the chiefs of the oil and gas ministries in Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying it will start developing a feasibility study for the project. (Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections, Aug. 23, from Interfax News Agency) Turkmen TV said the ADB pledged $1.5 million for the study. (BBC Monitoring, Aug. 16)
Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan formally agreed to cooperation on the pipeline project in Islamabad in May. See "Regional Leaders Sign Pipeline Pact," WW3 REPORT #37
7. UIGHUR SEPARATISTS MAKE TERROR LIST
The US Embassy in Beijing announced Aug. 28 there is evidence that the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), an obscure Islamist organization fighting Chinese rule in the western province of Xinjiang, is planning a terrorist strike against the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan and other US targets in Central Asia. An embassy spokesman accused ETIM of working with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and held the group responsible for over 200 acts of terrorism in China, including bombings, assassinations and arson, resulting in at least 162 deaths and 440 injuries. Human rights groups accuse China of exaggerating the terrorist threat to justify a crackdown on the region's 8 million Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking ethnic group. In a January report, the Chinese government cited the same statistics, but blamed the incidents on a variety of Uighur separatist groups--not just ETIM. The Washington Post wrote that "The State Department declined to comment on the discrepancy or explain how the U.S. government had corroborated the Chinese report." The announcement came two days after Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage announced that ETIM had been added to a State Department list of terrorist groups, freezing its assets in the US. Armitage charged that the group "committed acts of violence against unarmed civilians without any regard for who was hurt."
In a January interview with Radio Free Asia's Uighur service, ETIM leader Hasan Mahsum, China's most-wanted terrorist, said by satellite phone that his organization's goal is to liberate Xinjiang from Chinese rule, but denied it engaged in terrorism or received aid from al-Qaeda. "We don't have any organizational contact or relations with al-Qaeda or the Taliban," he said. "Maybe some individuals fought alongside them on their own, but we don't have any organizational ties with them. We don't get any financial assistance from them." (WP, Aug. 29)
See also "Fear in China Redux," WW3 REPORT #44
8. U.S. TO FUND SIBERIA EXPLORATION
THE CAUCASUS FRONT
The US is to fund exploration of oil and gas fields off the Arctic coast of eastern Siberia, US Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced. "Russia will play a pivotal role in ensuring global energy security," Abraham said after meeting with Russia's largest oil companies. "It is reflected in the growing strength of Russia's energy sector." The analysis is part of the ongoing US Geological Survey Arctic Resource Assessment. Spencer said a quarter of the world's undiscovered oil and gas resources are in the Arctic. In May, Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin signed a joint declaration on energy sector cooperation, which Bush characterized as a "major new energy partnership." (Alexander's Gas & Oil Connections, Aug. 23)
1. STRUGGLE FOR PIPELINE BEHIND GEORGIA CRISIS?
BBC Monitoring reprinted an Aug. 14 analysis from Russia's Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper portraying Moscow's desire to control the planned trans-Caspian pipeline route through Georgia as lying behind the crisis in the former Soviet republic. Russia accuses Georgia of failing to crack down on Chechen rebels who have taken refuge in the Pankisi Gorge, But BBC summarizes: "It would suit Russia if the situation with Chechen rebels escalated, leading to a Georgian leadership crisis in the process of which President Eduard Shevardnadze would step down and a pro-Russia regime would take over in the country."
See WW3 REPORT #48
2. GEORGIA TO WITHDRAW FROM CIS?
In response to accusations of a Russian air raid in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge, the Georgian parliament passed a resolution calling for withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Independent States and expulsion of Russian troops and bases. Angry protests have been held in front of the Russian Embassy and the headquarters of Russia's Caucasus Military Forces. One demonstrator at the Embassy, Zviad Bokuchava, a former Parliamentarian who signed Georgia's 1991 declaration of independence and now leads an organization called "Georgians for NATO," said, "Russia is engaging in state-terror against Georgia." Foreign Minister Irakli Menagharishvili termed the raid "explicit aggression." Russian military leaders deny involvement in the bombing raids, but elected officials in Moscow say the use of force is justifiable against a "terrorist threat." (Eurasia Insight, Aug. 29)
3. AL-QAEDA IN PANKISI GORGE?
Georgia's government says its troops searching the Pankisi Gorge arrested a man suspected of being a "prominent" figure in the al-Qaeda Islamic network--but the only evidence offered was his Arab ethnicity and French passport, which is suspected of being forged. Officials may be playing up the al-Qaeda connection to please the Georgian military's underwriters in Washington. The US has provided Georgia with military instructors to help combat the Islamic militants believed to be using the lawless gorge as a base. News of the arrest came just hours after Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze inaugurated a new phase in the US-funded anti-terrorist training program, under which four 500-man battalions are to be trained by Pentagon Green Berets over two years at a cost of about $64 million. Meanwhile, Georgia has rejected Russia's calls for permission to send its own forces into the Pankisi Gorge to clean out Chechen guerillas who have taken refuge there. (BBC, Aug. 30)
See also "Green Berets to Take Pankisi Gorge?", WW3 REPORT #31
4. PIPELINE SECURITY BEHIND GREEN BERETS' GEORGIA MISSION?
The arrival of the first 18 Green Berets in Georgia at the end of May coincided with a regional summit in the Turkish resort of Trabzon, where the presidents of Turkey, Georgia and Azerbaijan signed an agreement on security for the dual oil/gas pipeline route slated to deliver energy resources from the Caspian Sea to Turkish ports for export to global markets. Under the agreement, the three governments pledged to cooperate on policing the pipeline routes. Both the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline and the Baku-Erzurum gas pipeline run through Georgia. The Bush administration insists that Kazakhstan join the planned Baku-Ceyhan project by building an underwater trans-Caspian pipeline that would link its Caspian Sea port of Aktau to the new pipeline terminus at Baku, Azerbaijani's capital. (Radio Free Europe, May 7)
5. ECOLOGISTS PROTEST GEORGIA PIPELINE PLAN
Oil executives and officials from Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey met Aug, 1 in London for a signing ceremony launching the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan Pipeline Co (BTC Co.). Incorporation of the consortium marks a major step forward for the trans-Caspian pipeline project. But in a report issued the same day as the signing ceremony, several environmental groups raised concerns about the pipeline's impacts.
The preliminary report--produced by a six-member coalition of environmental groups including Friends of the Earth and Georgia's Green Alternative of Georgia--charges a lack of clarity in the BTC's "institutional framework." States the report: "The complex nature of arrangements for local, district and national government involvement has exacerbated tensions and mistrust [among the general population], and leaves communities confused as to from whom they should seek social commitments, project monitoring, dispute settlement or possible redress."
The report, based on a June fact-finding mission, says the Georgian public does not have adequate access to the Host Government Agreements, which codify policies on safety and land compensation. "Many affected people are not even sure of the exact pipeline routes, nor have landowners been provided with clear information about compensation," the report reads. "Employment figures [for local hires to work on pipeline construction] are vague, feeding rumors and false expectations."
The report charged oil companies--notably BP, top investor in the South Caucasus Gas Pipeline, a parallel project--with irregularities in working out compensation deals with land owners. "Companies have directly approached individual landowners without informing local administrations," the report says. It noted that BP's Environmental and Social Impact Assessment maintains a public disclosure telephone line for questions and complaints about the pipeline's impact--but uses a cell-phone
number that costs callers money rather than a toll-free one.
The report raises special concerns over pipeline plans in the Borjomi district, home to a large nature reserve and mineral water springs that are the basis for local employment in both tourism and export of the bottled water. The report--the "Georgia Section" of an ongoing Pipelines Project that will also examine Turkey and Azerbaijan--is highly critical of Georgian officials for hyping economic expectations about the pipeline. "The company [BP] is fairly clear that no oil and gas will go for domestic use, but makes reference to work with the [Georgian] government to assist with the provision of energy through other means," said Friends of the Earth spokesperson Carol Welch. "It seems mostly governments are promising the moon but BP doesn't correct them vigorously, it doesn't seem."
( Alec Appelbaum for EurasiaNet, Aug. 15)
See also WW3 REPORT #48
1. VIOLENCE ESCALATES--BUT ARMITAGE SEES ROSY SCENARIO
US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, on a tour of the subcontinent, told reporters in Islamabad, "Clearly the rhetoric and tensions are somewhat down at present." But a Pakistani Foreign Ministry statement called the claim "optimistic." Armitage had just come from New Delhi, where he heard complaints of Islamic militants still infiltrating into India-controlled Kashmir with backing from Pakistan. His visit also came less than 24 hours after claims by Pakistan that Indian troops suffered heavy casualties after they launched a "totally unprovoked attack" on a Pakistani army post on the Kashmir Line of Control. India denied that the incident took place. Armitage had only praise for his Pakistani terror war allies, focusing his comments on the war against Islamic militants in Afghanistan to Pakistan's west--rather than the war in Kashmir to Pakistan's east, where Pakistan is accused of supporting Islamic militants. "We think they are doing a terrific job in these very difficult tribal areas. In the country here, the arrests of al-Qaeda and Taliban have been a matter of record and we are quite delighted with [Pakistan's] efforts," Armitage said. (AFP, Aug. 25)
Armitage's comments also came the same day Islamist rebels shot dead eight Muslim villagers, including three women, in Indian Kashmir, in an apparent effort to disrupt an election campaign for a new assembly in India's Jammu and Kashmir state scheduled for the autumn, which India hopes will boost the legitimacy of its rule. ( UK Observer, Aug. 25)
The attacks continued the next day, leaving up to 17 dead--mostly family members of Muslims who were police or cooperated with Indian security forces. "Militants are constantly being directed from Pakistan to intensify their activities to disrupt upcoming elections," said AK Suri, India's police chief for Kashmir. (WP, Aug. 26)
2. MUSHARRAF POSTPONES DEMOCRACY
Pakistan's ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf unilaterally redrew the nation's constitution Aug. 21, imposing 29 amendments that expand his control--allowing him to dissolve Parliament and to appoint supreme court justices at will. The move also further entrenches the role of military by allotting it seats on the newly-created National Security Council. Musharraf, who took power in a coup d'etat in 1999, still officially maintains he will call elections in October. A US State Department statement said, "We believe it remains critically important for Pakistan to restore democratic civilian rule... We continue to look forward to the holding of free and fair national and provincial elections in October." (NYT, Aug. 22)
Escalating domestic terrorism remains an urgent concern in Pakistan. Three men blew themselves up with grenades when police stopped them Aug. 6, 25 miles from a Christian missionary school where an attack by masked gunmen had left six dead the previous day. (NYT, Aug. 7)
On Sept. 1, Musharraf's election officials barred former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's bid to run for Parliament, prompting street protests by her supporters. The government says Bhutto will face arrest on corruption charges if she sets foot in Pakistan. Bhutto, who lives in exile in Britain, may return to Pakistan to challenge Musharraf in the October elections. (AP, Sept. 2)
3. PARTIAL JUSTICE IN GANG-RAPE CASE
Four rapists and two tribal council members were sentenced to death for the gang-rape of Mukhtaran Mai, a Pakistani villager who was ordered raped by tribal authorities because her brother allegedly had a love affair with a girl from a higher-caste tribe. Eight other members of the council were allowed to go free, and Mai has asked the government for protection, saying she fears for her life. (Reuters, Sept. 1)
4. MAOIST FRONT IN INDIA TERROR WAR
In the remote jungles of India's Bastar region, the Maoist rebels of the People's War Group (PWG), or the Naxalites, are isolated from the outside world and made up of tribal peoples who have waged a sporadic insurgency against the Indian military for over a generation. But several Naxalite commanders told the Monitor that the PWG is ready to harbor and collaborate with other violent movements--such as Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers and al-Qaeda. "The Naxalites as a group have always supported other terrorist organizations," said Prof. Sidhir Rao, a terrorism expert at the Institute for Defense and Security Analysis in New Delhi.
Located in the newly-created state of Chattisgarh, carved out of the southeast corner of prosperous Madhya Pradesh, Bastar is a vast territory--larger than Belgium and the Netherlands combined--which has never been effectively subdued by India, British colonial administrators or earlier dynasties such as the Moguls. The Bastar region still has no schools, police protection, courts, or medical care. The Naxalites encourage this isolation, destroying development projects and power dams, killing state officials and police, and threatening intruders--whether tourists, teachers or missionaries--with death. The PWG has established its own de facto government in the region, and its military wing, the People's Guerrilla Army (PGA)--which arms local youth with everything from World War I-era carbines to Chinese-made AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenade launchers--are the real authority. (CSM, Aug. 13)
5. ACTIVIST CHARGES STATE COMPLICITY IN GUJARAT TERROR
On a visit to the US, Shabnam Hashmi, founder of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT), a New Delhi organization working to oppose communal violence in India, issued a special call to Indian immigrants not to fund the militant activities of India's Hindu right. SAHMAT is named for Shabnam's brother Safdar, an activist street theater director who was killed by a hired mob after he organized to support striking industrial workers in India in 1989. Shabnam Hashmi charges that the recent anti-Muslim violence in the Indian state of Gujarat has been inaccurately portrayed as spontaneous, and compares it to the systematic ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Rwanda. (NYT, Aug. 18)
Hashmi spoke on Aug. 25 at the Brecht Forum in New York City about her three months of research in carnage-stricken Gujarat, recounting interviews with victims of the violence that has rocked the state since Feb. 28. In her presentation, "Genocide in the Land of Gandhi," Hashmi stated that a massacre such as that in Gujarat "does not happen in one day. There is always a history to it." She highlighted the development of Rashtriya Swayamsecak Sabha (RSS), the ideological grandfather organization of India's ruling BJP party. The RSS was openly inspired by European fascism at the time of its founding in the 1930s. Nathuram Godse, a Hindu nationalist and RSS militant, carried out the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi on Jan. 30, 1948.
Hashmi reminded the audience of the words of early RSS leader MS Golwalkar. In his 1939 book "We: Our Nationhood Defined," Golwalkar wrote that "Germany's purging of its Semitic Races was a good lesson for us in Hindusthan [India] to lean and profit by." (p. 35) With respect to India's minorities, he wrote: "From this standpoint, sanctioned by the experience of shrewd old nations, the foreign races in Hindusthan must either adopt the Hindu culture and language, must learn to respect and hold in reverence Hindu religion, must entertain no idea but those of the glorification of the Hindu race and culture, i.e. of the Hindu nation, and must lose their separate existence to merge in the Hindu race; or may stay in the country, wholly subordinated to the Hindu Nation, claiming nothing, deserving no privileges, far less any preferential treatment--not even citizen's rights." (p. 47-48).
Hashmi reiterated statements made by Narendra Modi, the now-resigned Chief Minister of Gujarat, soon after the violence began. Modi called the Hindu mob violence "a spontaneous expression of outrage," sparked by the Feb. 27 Muslim attack at Godhra on a train carrying Hindu militants. (See WW3 REPORT #23) Hashmi stated, "irrespective of who was killed, carnage cannot be justified." While 58 Hindus were killed in the Godhra attack, Hashmi detailed the toll of the subsequent anti-Muslim violence in Gujarat: 10,000 houses raised to the ground, 10,000 shops looted and burned, 200,000 people displaced, 360 mosques destroyed, and perhaps over 1,000 dead. She also claimed that violence against women in the attacks has been drastically under-reported. Hashmi said she had spoken with over 60 women who had been gang-raped, and that many had witnessed the gang rape of between 10 and 15 other women.
Hashmi also pointed to the organized nature of the massacre in Gujarat. Mobs numbering up to 15,000 were reported to have charged through the streets of Gujarat's towns and cities, armed with fire bombs fashioned not only from petrol but also flammable industrial solvents. "How could such sophisticated weapons reach the remotest of villages all over Gujarat in one day if the massacre was truly a 'spontaneous expression of outrage'?" Hashmi asked. "The carnage could not have taken place if they mobs were not trained." RSS today maintains camps for ideological and paramilitary training throughout India, Hashmi said. "On the morning of Feb. 28, they were simply waiting for a call from the Center."
Regarding the upcoming state elections in Gujarat, Hashmi stated that if the BJP were to win again, then "democracy in India would be at stake. Gujarat has shocked Indian civil society. Anyone who went to Gujarat, came back a changed person."
For more information about the Gujarat massacre, see www.gujaratcarnage.com or www.onlinevolunteers.org Human Rights Watch report on Gujarat is online.
1. ACTIVISTS OPPOSE U.S. MILITARY AID TO INDONESIA
The East Timor Action Network is asking Congressmen to sign an Aug. 30 letter to Rep. Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, asking Congress to keep in place restrictions on US military training of the Indonesian armed forces (TNI, by their Indonesian acronym), cut off due to the East Timor violence in 1999. Reads the letter:
"Examining the behavior of the TNI over the last several years, it is clear that instead of enhancing the region's stability, the TNI has aggressively worked to destabilize it. The horrendous human rights abuses of the TNI in East Timor are already well known. But what is less well known is the fact that members of the TNI and the Indonesian government appear to be providing support for a fundamentalist Islamic militia called the Laskar Jihad. Similar to East Timor, the TNI is supporting a fundamentalist militia in order to exacerbate conflict in regions throughout the archipelago - including attacking Christian communities in the Maluku Islands and South Sulawesi. There is no evidence linking the Laskar Jihad in Indonesia to the al Qaeda network. But it seems foolish for the US to be providing military assistance to the TNI when instead of working against terrorists, it assists an Islamic extremist militia with proven human rights violations.
"Although the Pentagon and State Department will argue that the assistance to the Indonesian military is needed to ensure stability in Indonesia, the record of the TNI is the exact opposite. Abuses by Indonesia's security forces have fueled separatist sentiment in Aceh and Papua. Attacks on civilian leaders, such as the November assassination of the leading Papuan leader Theys Eluay, have undermined efforts at the peaceful resolution of conflicts. In addition, the TNI is recruiting, training and arming the 'Merah Puti' (red and white) militia in Papua. This militia, plus the Muslim fundamentalist paramilitaries, are terrorizing civilians under TNI direction."
2. INDONESIAN ARMED FORCES CHIEF CHOOSES "WAR" IN ACEH
Indonesia's new armed forces commander, Gen. Endriartono Sutarto, called the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM) were "traitors" who were "betraying Indonesia" and should be crushed. General Endriartono warned: "I am trained for war so I would choose war--not negotiation--to end the problems in Aceh, but it's not me that makes the decision." He alsoaccused the Indonesian media of portraying the GAM as "heroes". "While Robin Hood robbed from the rich to give to the poor, it was important to realize that what Robin Hood did was wrong because stealing was wrong," he said. While not admitting that his troops are committing human rights abuses in Aceh, he said there have been some instances of "indiscipline", and that it is impossible for "100% of all soldiers to respect human rights."
The Indonesian government has issued GAM a deadline of Dec. 7 to accept an offer of autonomy for Aceh. GAM pledges to continue its fight to become an independent state like East Timor. Gen. Endriartono opposes moves for a referendum on independence to be held in Aceh, calling the East Timor referendum a mistake. (Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 30)
3. BUSH BACKS EXXON IN ACEH HUMAN RIGHTS CASE
The US State Department has asked a US federal court to dismiss a human rights lawsuit by Indonesian villagers against Exxon-Mobil, claiming the trial could harm US economic and political interests in Asia--including the War on Terrorism. Local villagers claim that Indonesian troops protecting Exxon-Mobil installations in the conflicted province of Aceh have tortured and murdered civilians. Exxon denies involvement, even though it pays the Indonesian military for protection. Rights advocates immediately blasted the administration's move. "It's a blatant misuse of the war on terrorism to suppress efforts to promote human rights," said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. (LAT, Aug. 8)
See also "Exxon in Aceh," WW3 REPORT #44
4. MURDER AND MINERAL INTERESTS IN IRIAN JAYA
An Aug. 31 ambush in Indonesia's Irain Jaya province, on New Guinea, left two US citizens dead and several others wounded. The FBI is interviewing survivors, but has not yet concluded there was a terrorist motive. Nobody has claimed responsibility, but Indonesian officials blame guerillas of the separatist Free Papau Movement. The region, also known as West Papau, is the scene of much unrest over the Freeport-McMoran company, which operates one of the world's largest gold and copper mines in the mountainous rainforest. Indigenous Papuans accuse the company of degrading sacred lands, ravaging the environment and not sharing mineral profits with local communities. Indonesian troops which protect Freeport-McMoran's operations have been accused of human rights abuses. Last November, when Papuan independence leader Theys Eluay was assassinated, the government blamed the guerillas. But following pressure from the US and international human rights groups--who said it was clear the murder was carried out by the military--several soldiers have been named as suspects . (NYT, Sept. 2)
5. UNOCAL IN BORNEO
Unocal announced it will spend up to $3 billion developing oil fields in Indonesia over the next seven years, focusing on reserves off the coast of East Kalimantan in Borneo. Andrew Buglass, Unocal's vice president for project finance in Asia, said "There's a lot of potential and we've had a lot of success in our drilling campaigns" in Indonesia. (Pravda.ru, July 26)
6. UNOCAL IN THE PHILIPPINES
THE ANDEAN FRONT
Unocal announced it will consider joining a gas exploration venture off the Philippine coast following surveys indicating that reserves off Mindoro island may equal the nation's biggest find to date, at Malampaya. The state company Philippine National owns 10% of Malampaya, which is being developed with the Royal Dutch Shell Group and Chevron-Texaco. The Philippine government is now seeking partners for the Mindoro find. (Pravda.ru, May 29)
1. SHADOW PLAY 1:
AUC DISSOLVES SELF FOLLOWING "TERRORIST" DESIGNATION
Colombian Army Cpt. Jose Espejo announced Aug. 10 that hundreds of army troops had engaged in combat with a contingent of right-wing paramilitaries from the Metro Bloc of the Campesino Self-Defense Forces of Cordoba and Uraba (ACCU) in Segovia municipality, Antioquia department, killing 20 paramilitary troops and capturing 17 others. Four of the captives later died of their wounds. ACCU's Commander Rodrigo charged that the army had executed the troops in what he called a "war crime," opening fire on them at a roadblock after letting them pass through an earlier roadblock for what was to be a coordinated attack on guerillas of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). The appearance of a crackdown on the paramilitaries is important to Colombia's new hardline President Alvaro Uribe. But the army-para conflict may just reflect internal divisions within the paramilitary movement. Medellin's El Colombiano newspaper reported Aug. 13 that ACCU's Metro Bloc is engaged in an internal struggle with the organization's Cacique Nutibara Bloc for control of Medellin and the surrounding Aburra valley.
( Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 18)
Conveniently, just as President Bush signed a new law allowing US military aid to be used against Colombia's officially-designated "terrorist" groups as well as for drug enforcement, the one right-wing paramilitary organization on the State Department "terrorist" list officially dissolved itself. Colombian United Self-Defense (AUC) had served as a leader and umbrella organization for the entire paramilitary movement, and was added to the State Department list last year, joining Colombia's two leftist guerilla groups, the FARC and National Liberation Army (ELN). An AFP account in New York's Spanish-language daily Hoy quoted an AUC statement that the breakup "will allow us to remake a national organization of self-defense groups which is truly fulfilling a function where honest Colombians feel represented and defended." The statement distanced itself from such time-honored AUC tactics as kidnapping.
( Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 28)
In an Aug. 12 statement on the ACCU website (colombialibre.org), AUC leader Carlos Castano--who remains head of the ACCU--announced that "above all internally we dedicate ourselves to restructuring the national organization under strict norms with respect to discipline and inviolable principles: those who are involved in drug trafficking under any pretext must either give up the practice or resign" from the paramilitary movement. (WNU, Aug. 18)
See also "US Expands Pentagon Mission in Colombia," WW3 REPORT #46
2. SHADOW PLAY 2:
BOLIVIAN PARAMILITARY DISSOLVED; MILITARIZATION ESCALATES
Bolivia's controversial US-funded Expeditionary Task Force (FTE) was officially disbanded following accusations of human rights abuses against peasants in the Chapare coca-growing region. Bolivian Vice Minister of Social Defense Oswaldo Antezana announced July 24 that the group's mission would come to an end July 31. The Cochabamba-based Andean Information Network (AIN), a local human rights watchdog, confirmed that the FTE's three bases were empty and abandoned by Aug. 3. Critics--including Bolivia's official human rights ombudsman Ana Maria Romero de Campero--charged the FTE was virtually a private paramilitary group maintained by the US embassy.
( Weekly News Update on the Americas, Aug. 11)
But on July 27, Gen. Edgar Pardo, director of Bolivia's Special Struggle Force Against Drug Trafficking (FELCN), announced that his agency will build 14 new bases across the country with funding and oversight from the US. A national communications network with computerized database for tracking drug traffickers will also be supplied by the US, the La Paz daily El Diario reported July 28. The Cochabamba daily Los Tiempos reported May 23 that US military instructors provided a 20-day advanced training course to Bolivian soldiers from the Special Troops Instruction Center (CITE). Everth Baeza, commander of the Bolivian military's RI-18 Victoria unit, said the US instructors from North Carolina (presumably Ft. Bragg) are slated to return to Bolivia for further training.
( Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 28)
See also "US-Created Bolivian Force Accused of Abuses," WW3 REPORT #44
1. FEDERAL INTELLIGENCE APPARATUS RE-ORGANIZED
Mexico's intelligence service is to be assigned new powers to deal with threats to national security, Reforma daily reported. After 13 years under the Interior Secretariat, the National Center for Security and Investigations (CISEN) will be supervised by several other secretariats as well, including Defense, Naval, Public Safety and Finance. The Attorney General's Office will also form a part of the council as a "permanent invitee." CISEN will also be authorized to "acquire, develop and administer special technology" to help protect sensitive government information. The CISEN director will be charged with presenting a strategic plan outlining major risks facing the country and an annual report. (The News, Mexico City, Aug. 1)
2. ZAPATISTAS PROTEST REPRESSION
More than 3,000 masked Zapatista rebels mobilized Aug. 19 to protest the death of Zapatista militant Jose Lopez Santiz, who was murdered by local ranchers on August 7th near the town of Altamirano in Mexico's conflicted southern state of Chiapas. The Zapatistas demanded the government detain the murderers and end the increasing paramilitary activity throughout Zapatista regions. The protests were the biggest Zapatista mobilization since the last year's caravan to Mexico City to speak to Congress. (Free Speech Radio News, Aug. 26)
Earlier that day, authorities said nine people were injured in clash near Ocosingo between Zapatistas and supporters of the former ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), fighting with sticks, guns and machetes. Seven PRI supporters were hospitalized in the nearby city of Comitan, while two injured Zapatistas were treated within their own rebel "autonomous villages." Officials also said the Zapatistas kidnapped one man they claimed was a government agent in Altamirano. (AP, Aug. 20) Zapatista authorities in the autonomous village of Flores Magon dismissed this charge as a government lie intended to discredit the movement, and said the conflict was provoked by a PRI paramilitary group. (The News, Mexico City, Aug. 21)
A group of gunmen shot and killed two Zapatista leaders near Ocosingo Aug. 26. Zapatista authorities said several gunmen burst into a meeting of rebel officials in a local school and opened fire, killing Lorenso Martinez and Jacinto Hernandez. They said the gunmen, believed to be PRI paras, took Martinez's body before fleeing the scene. Ocosingo's government released a statement saying the attack was a crime of passion that had nothing to do with politics. (AP, Aug. 28)
3. U.N. OFFICIAL MEETS ZAPATISTAS
Francis Deng, UN representative for displaced persons, met Aug. 23 with supporters of the Zapatista rebels who fled their homes in the southern state of Chiapas. The UN says up to 12,000 people have fled their homes over eight years of conflict in Chiapas. Deng also met with Chiapas Gov. Pablo Salazar, rights and church groups--and visited Pohlo, a mountain hamlet that swelled to house thousands of Indian villagers who fled their homes after the 1997 paramilitary massacre of 45 rebel sympathizers at nearby Acteal. Thousands still live in wood-sided shacks with tarpaper roofs along Polho's muddy hillsides. Most of the internal refugees in Chiapas are supporters of the Zapatista rebels who were expelled from their communities by pro-government paramilitaries following the Zapatistas' 1994 uprising for Indian rights. (AP, Aug. 24)
4. RELIGIOUS VIOLENCE IN CHIAPAS
Gunmen believed to be militant Catholics ambushed a group of Protestants in a in the conflicted Chiapas village of San Juan Chamula, killing one and wounding five. Decades of religious violence in Chamula, an ancient Maya Indian habitation on the outskirts of the colonial city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, have forced thousands of Protestant converts from their homes. Chiapas state government officials say a group of about 50 Catholics armed with hunting rifles opened fire on Protestant families as they took their children to school on the opening day of classes. (AP, Aug. 20)
5. TREE-DEFENDERS ARRESTED IN CUERNAVACA
A group of some 300 people blocked the road to Cuernavaca's historic downtown Casino de la Selva building on Aug. 21 to keep out chainsaw crews sent to cut down the trees and make way for the construction of a Costco discount superstore. Police arrested 32. Within 24 hours, 3,000 people were in the street marching for the prisoners' freedom, labeling the detentions "repression." The unrest followed the announcement that the city had granted Costco a $50,000 license to convert the historic site into a shopping center and chop down hundreds of 50-year-old trees. (Talli Nauman for The News, Mexico City, Aug. 24)
6. ANTI-McDONALDS ACTION IN OAXACA
THE WAR AT HOME
About 500 local residents protested the opening of a McDonald's restaurant on the main plaza of Oaxaca City Aug. 18. But instead of the usual marches and slogans, the demonstrators placed large tables in the city square and sat down to eat vast quantities of tamales. The protest was organized by the Cultural Heritage Defense Council (PROAX), led by Oaxacan painter Francisco Toledo. In 1989, Oaxaca City was declared a Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO, and many locals consider the super-chain's presence an insult. "We do not need a symbol of U.S. transnationals in this area where our cultural identity and political institutions are represented," PROAX said. The protestors also complained about the "terrible quality" of the burger chain's food. Local musicians played indigenous folksongs at the event, while favorite slogans were "No to junk food!" and "Yes to Oaxaca's great cooking!" (EFE, Aug. 20)
1. 6th CIRCUIT BLASTS SECRET DEPORTION HEARINGS
On Aug. 26, a three-judge panel of the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati ruled unanimously that the Justice Department acted unlawfully by keeping hundreds of deportation hearings secret following the 9-11 attacks. The ruling blasted a Sept. 21 memo from Chief Immigration Judge Michael J. Creppy, which ordered the closing of deportation hearings in "special interest" cases--those purportedly linked to terrorism investigations. "The task of designating a case special interest is performed in secret, without any established standards or procedures, and the process is, thus, not subject to any sort of review," wrote Judge Damon J. Keith. "A government operating in the shadow of secrecy stands in complete opposition to the society envisioned by the framers of our Constitution."
Justice Department spokesperson Barbara Comstock said the government had not decided whether to appeal the decision, which upholds an April 3 ruling by US District Judge Nancy G. Edmunds in Detroit. Four Michigan newspapers and Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-MI) brought the suit to challenge the government's closing of deportation hearings for Ann Arbor resident Rabih Haddad, a Lebanese native who was arrested in a Dec. 14 raid of a Muslim charity he founded, Global Relief Foundation. The ruling applies only to Haddad's case, but its reasoning is binding on courts throughout the 6th Circuit--Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee--and may be cited as precedent elsewhere. (NYT, Aug. 27)
Haddad's supporters marched on Aug. 26 outside Michigan's Monroe County to protest his continued detention. Jail authorities moved Haddad from his cell so he could not view the protest. Monroe County Sheriff Tilman Crutchfield admitted there
were "no problems with the crowd," but called such demonstrations "disruptive" and warned that if they continue, "we would request that he be removed from the facility... [and] he might end up in a location not as convenient for the family to visit." Haddad's deportation hearing is scheduled for Oct. 7. He is accused of overstaying a tourist visa that expired in 1999. (Monroe Evening News, Aug. 27)
(from Immigration News Briefs, Aug. 30)
2. 60 PAKISTANI IMMIGRANTS ARRESTED IN NYC SWEEP
60 Pakistanis with minor visa violations were arrested last week in INS/FBI raids in Queens and Brooklyn. Officers of the NYPD Intelligence Unit also visited Pakistani businesses on Brooklyn's Coney Island Avenue, asking for information about employees. None of the Turkish, Mexican or Russian businesses in the neighborhood were questioned. Local travel agents such as Abid Rafay report the purchase of many one-way tickets to Pakistan by Pakistanis who fear being raided. ( Pakistan Post, Aug. 28, trans. from Urdu by Rehan Ansari for Voices that Must Be Heard: The Best of New York's Ethnic and Immigrant Press, Independent Press Association) (Subuhi Jiwani)
3. PALESTINIAN DEPORTEE DUMPED IN LEBANON
Following stopovers in Ireland and Italy, a US government-chartered jet landed in Beirut Aug. 24, staying just long enough to drop off Palestinian activist Mazen al-Najjar. After nearly nine months of solitary confinement in a Florida jail, al-Najjar was deported Aug. 22. Lebanon has granted al-Najjar a six-month visa. He plans to relocate to South Africa, where a Muslim school has offered to sponsor him for a job. ( Immigration News Briefs ,Aug. 30, from combined sources)
Al-Najjar, a professor at the University of South Florida, was detained on
secret evidence from 1997 to 2000, but not charged with a crime. He was
picked up again for overstaying his visa last November. He was turned down
for deportation to Bahrain before Lebanon accepted him.
Times, Aug. 23)
4. 200 IN U.S. UNDER "CONSTANT" SURVEILLANCE
Federal investigators have some 200 people in the US under "constant" surveillance, officials told CNN Aug. 30.They said most of the individuals were named by Abu Zubaydah, head of operations for al-Qaeda, who was arrested in March in Pakistan, and is the highest-ranking al-Qarda operative now in US custody.
5. McKINNEY VICTIM OF "MIDDLE EAST PROXY WAR"
WATCHING THE SHADOWS
Following a successful campaign to oust Rep. Cynthia McKinney in last week's Democratic primary, a small group of Atlanta-area conservatives are hoping for Jewish support in their effort to remove her father from his seat in the Georgia State
House. Georgia State Rep. Billy McKinney, 75, came under criticism last week when he said in an election-day TV interview, "Jews have bought everybody." When asked to explain his daughter's political difficulties, he responded: "J-E-W-S." The senior McKinney, a well-known civil-rights leader, has held his seat in the state house for 30 years. But he was forced into a Sept. 10 runoff after failing to gain the required majority. The race follows two controversial campaigns in which Israel supporters helped bankroll the defeats of Cynthia McKinney and Alabama Rep. Earl Hilliard, who both received donations from pro-Palestinian backers. New York's Jewish weekly The Forward said the races had become "Middle East proxy wars." (The Forward, Aug. 30)
1. BUSH SNUBS EARTH SUMMIT
President Bush caved to pressure from conservatives and agreed not to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa. The summit, running from Aug. 26 to Sept. 4, brings together over 100 heads of state--including the top leaders of Europe, Asia, Latin America and Africa. It takes place on the 10th anniversary of the first Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, which was attended by Bush's father. Environmentalists say this year's summit is crucial to reigning in the mounting ecological and economic crises that now threaten the stability of the planet. In an August 2 letter leaked to the environmental group, Friends of the Earth, a group of 30 conservative leaders warned Bush that his presence would "only help to publicize and make more credible╔various anti-freedom, anti-people, anti-globalization and anti-Western agendas." The letter, penned Fred Smith of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, states: "Even more than the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992, the Johannesburg Summit will provide a global media stage for many of the most irresponsible and destructive elements involved in international economic and environmental issues."
Other signers include Paul Weyrich of Coalition for America, Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform, and David Keene of the American Conservative Union. These conservatives believe it was a mistake for Bush's father to attend the Rio summit, where the Kyoto climate control treaty was hatched. "Why would you go to a party when they want to throw pies at you?" Smith said in an interview with CNN. "The fortunate thing is when 40,000 goofies get together, not much happens."
The letter also states: "The least important global environmental issue is potential global warming, and we hope that your negotiators can keep it off the table and out of the spotlight." Exxon/Mobil were the most prominent members of the fossil fuel industry's campaign to oppose the Kyoto climate treaty--which Bush rejected last year. According to Greenpeace, Bush and the Republican Party received more than $25 million from the oil and gas industry during the last presidential election.
According to the Times of London and the Environmental News Service, among the groups signing the letter were seven conservative thinktanks which receive substantial funding from Exxon /Mobil. They include Fred Smith's Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the American Enterprise Institute, the Capital Research Center, the Heartland Institiute, Atlas Economic Research, and the National Center for Policy Analysis. Comments Tony Jupiter of Friends of the Earth in Britain: "This letter casts a grim light on the iron triangle of the Bush White House, corporate polluters such as Exxon Mobil, and conservative lobbyists."(Sarah Ferguson)
2. REPRESSION AT EARTH SUMMIT
Anti-globalization activists charge that South Africa's government is following the example of the old apartheid regime in its handling of protests around the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD). Numerous activist leaders were arrested to head off protests, and activists charge they have been tracked and harassed by the National Intelligence Agency. The National Land Committee (NLC) and Landless People's Movement (LPM), local groups coordinating with the anti-globalization protests, condemned police actions as "tantamount to the kind of brutalities inflicted on the dispossessed masses during the dark days of apartheid." 72 LPM activists were arrested at a peaceful march against the eviction of squatters from informal settlements. Another 30 activists were arrested outside Johannesburg central police station as they protested against the earlier arrests. (Johannesburg Mail & Guardian, Aug. 23)
The South Africa Independent Media Center reports that security forces have turned Sandton, the Johannesburg suburb where the summit is being held "into a fortress boasting surveillance planes, 27,000 police from across the nation, and concrete barricades. A 'struggle pen,' stretching a ridiculous 1.8 km has been created for 'legal protests.'" (http://southafrica.indymedia.org)
On Aug. 28, police used violence to break up the protests. Reports Philippine activist Nicano Perlas: "Without provocation, South African police troopers threw concussion bombs and teargas at activists who were peacefully marching to protest what they perceive to be the corporate control of the WSSD. Three protestors were injured and dozens of others were hauled off to jail." (via e-mail)
3. CAPITULATION AT EARTH SUMMIT
Breaking a two-day deadlock which pitted the US, Japan and oil-exporting countries against the EU, European negotiators broke down at midnight Sept. 2, and agreed to drop demands for a binding timetable on renewable energy development. The concluding document of the Earth Summit will not include explicit deadlines for conversion to wind, solar and other renewables--only a non-specific call for countries to act "with a sense of urgency." A Brazilian proposal which would have committed governments to achieving a 10%-renewable target by 2010 was defeated. (UK Guardian, Sept. 3)
4. ENRON IN NIGERIA
Jim Vallette writes for the CorpWatch website Aug. 1 that the ongoing Senate investigation of the Enron scandal "could soon spill from the private to the public sector, where US taxpayer-financed institutions engage in a dangerous tango with Enron's overseas ambitions. These public financial institutions have doled out over $7 billion towards Enron-related projects since 1992. And some who have examined the scope and structure of Enron's overseas operations say that federal agencies, and even the World Bank, could soon face the congressional inquisitors." At a July 30 hearing of the Senate Governmental Affairs Subcommittee for Investigations, Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) concluded a long session with a Merrill Lynch official with a warning to those financial institutions that "helped to raise the money that helped Enron to cook the books," and called upon them "to acknowledge the problems, step up, and make the changes that are needed internally."
But the hearings have not yet touched on Enron's considerable financial ties with government agencies, such as the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and US Export-Import Bank, and the World Bank. In June, White House officials delivered thousands of documents to Lieberman's office, responding to a subpoena for
Enron-related records. A March 2002 study by the Institute for Policy Studies revealed that OPIC and the Ex-Im Bank, along with the US Maritime Administration and Trade & Development Agency, provided $3.4 billion in support of Enron-related projects abroad.
Senators are currently probing a barge-mounted power project near Lagos, Nigeria. The senators examined Merrill Lynch's role in transferring the Nigeria project's ownership from Enron to its infamous parallel, the LJM2 partnership. Enron recorded the transfer to its own parallel entity via Merrill Lynch as revenue.
International financial institutions were also involved--if unwittingly. In July 2001, the World Bank approved a $100 million loan for privatization of Nigeria's power sector, noting with approval the development of the AES/Enron power project. A month earlier, OPIC president Peter S. Watson announced approval of a $200 million political risk insurance package for the AES/Enron power plant. "This project will help Nigeria meet a critical demand for electrical power generation, and at the same time enable the Nigerian government to demonstrate to US investors its commitment to provide investment opportunities," he said. "OPIC is pleased to make this important contribution to Nigeria's first independent private power project and to Nigeria's ongoing economic development." OPIC's press release emphasized the involvement of AES, not Enron.
That same month, June 2001, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo railed against Enron on CNN. "Enron has played a dirty game on us. Dirty game in two ways: the price at which they have tried to sell power to us has been very exorbitant. Two, what they told us they would do, they have not done," he asserted. But ultimately, fearing Nigeria's standing among foreign investors if his government balked on a privatization deal, Obasanjo supported the barge project.
5. STATE DEPARTMENT HOSTS "ANTI-AMERICANISM" CONFAB
US officials will spend two days this week grappling with the question of global "anti-Americanism", as 20 outside experts--including novelist Salman Rushdie-- share their views with some 50 participants at a State Department conference. "The purpose of this conference is to explore various manifestations and roots of anti-Americanism around the world, what it means for the United States and how the United States may address it," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, adding that the conference will be a "closed, off the record" event. The event, slated for Sept. 4-5 at Maryland's Wye Plantation (where the Israelis and Palestinians hashed out their last peace agreement in 1999) is to be hosted by the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the CIA's National Intelligence Council. (Dawn, Pakistan, Aug. 29)
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