JFP News 11/6: Deal Collapses in Honduras

Just Foreign Policy News
November 6, 2009


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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) An agreement to end a four-month political crisis in Honduras collapsed early on Friday, Reuters reports. President Zelaya declared the pact dead just a week after it was signed and called on Hondurans to boycott presidential elections this month because, in a surprise move, de facto leader Micheletti moved to form a new government without him.

2) Fort Hood, the base stricken in Thursday's shooting rampage, has a large share of the military's overall instances of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide, the Wall Street Journal reports. Since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, the base has lost hundreds of soldiers in combat. The base has also lost at least 75 of its soldiers to suicide, one of the heaviest such tolls in the U.S. military. Through October, 10 Fort Hood soldiers had taken their lives in 2009, the second-highest tally in the Army behind Kentucky's Fort Campbell, which had 16 suicides.

3) A former British Army officer says the Afghan National Police have been penetrated by the Taliban "at every level," the Daily Telegraph reports. British officers say that among low-ranking Afghan police, and particularly in more rural areas away from central control, there is widespread corruption and disloyalty. The police are poorly paid, earning about $200 a month, so are vulnerable to corruption. [In an earlier report, Western officials admitted that this is not a living wage for a family in Afghanistan - JFP.]

4) A series of internal government reviews have presented the Obama administration with a dire portrait of Afghanistan's military and police force, bringing into serious question a goal at the heart of US strategy - to speed up their training and send many more Afghans to the fight, the New York Times reports. Gen. McChrystal has recommended increasing the Afghan Army to 134,000 in a year from the current force of more than 90,000, instead of taking two years, and perhaps eventually to 240,000. He would also expand the police force to 160,000. "Nothing in our experience over the last seven to eight years suggests that progress at such a rapid pace is realistic," said Representative John Tierney. Only about one in 10 Afghan police units is capable of operating wholly independently, according to the latest report to Congress. The Afghan National Police currently fields 92,000 people, but only 24,000 have actually completed formal training. The attrition rate is 25 percent. The situation is not much better in the army, with 19 percent attrition.

5) Paraguay's new army, navy and air force chiefs were sworn in Thursday, a day after President Lugo fired top commanders amid rumors about a military coup, AP reports. Colorado Party politicians, who still dominate Congress despite losing the presidency to Lugo for first time in 61 years, suggested without offering evidence that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela could be guiding Lugo's hand. Opponents of Honduran President Zelaya made similar allegations before his country's military shot up his house and sent him into exile in June, AP notes.

6) The UN General Assembly voted in favour of resolution endorsing a UN-sponsored report into war crimes committed during Israel's war on Gaza, Al Jazeera reports. The Goldstone report was endorsed by the assembly on Thursday by a margin of 114 to 18. Forty-four member-nations abstained. The report calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate within three months accusations of human-rights violations during the conflict. Israel, the US, Italy, and the Netherlands voted no. Britain and France abstained. Most developing countries voted in favour of endorsing the report.

Honduras
7) If the Obama administration chooses to recognize the election in Honduras without President Zelaya first being reinstated, it will find itself at odds with the rest of Latin America, writes the Los Angeles Times in an editorial.

8) In a statement released by the OAS, Secretary General Insulza deplored the failure to implement the agreement in Honduras to restore President Zelaya. Insulza said the government of national unity should be headed by Zelaya and that it is essential that the Honduran Congress voted to restore Zelaya to the presidency.

Israel/Palestine
9) Mahmoud Abbas said he would not seek re-election as President of the Palestinian Authority, the New York Times reports. A top aide to Abbas said a large part of his "despondency and frustration" was because of President Obama's unrealized promises to the region. Without a stop to Jewish settlements, he said, Islamist rivals in Hamas could triumph, and violence could break out. "There was high expectation when he arrived on the scene," said Nabil Shaath, speaking of Obama's pledge to be a peacemaker. "Now there is a total retreat, which has destroyed trust instead of building trust."

Iran
10) IAEA chief ElBaradei said U.N. inspectors found "nothing to be worried about" in a first look at a previously secret uranium enrichment site in Iran last month, Reuters reports. ElBaradei also told the New York Times that he was examining possible compromises to unblock a draft nuclear cooperation deal between Iran and three major powers that has foundered over Iranian objections.

Colombia
11) The chairman of Colombia's National Reparations and Reconciliation said some of the murderous right-wing militias which ostensibly demobilized in 2006 are re-arming in border regions, EFE reports. Eduardo Pizarro said 10 percent of the 30,000 members of the AUC militia federation who laid down their arms have resumed illegal activities in areas bordering Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama. Rightist gunmen were responsible for at least three-quarters of the more than 27,000 forced disappearances in Colombia over the past two decades, a top government prosecutor said last month.

Contents:
U.S./Top News
1) Honduras pact crumbles over unity government
Fiona Ortiz, Reuters, Fri Nov 6, 2009 1:22pm EST
http://www.reuters.com/article/worldNews/idUSTRE5A46K620091106

Tegucigalpa - An agreement to end a four-month political crisis in Honduras collapsed early on Friday after two rival leaders failed to form a unity cabinet to heal the damage from a June coup.

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya declared the pact dead just a week after it was signed and called on Hondurans to boycott presidential elections this month because, in a surprise move, de facto leader Roberto Micheletti moved to form a new government without him.

The rival leaders had agreed to form a so-called unity and reconciliation cabinet by Thursday, but then they clashed over who would lead the cabinet until the Honduran Congress decided whether to reinstate Zelaya.

"It's absurd what they are doing, trying to mock all of us, the people who elected me and the international community that supports me. We've decided not to continue this theater with Mr. Micheletti," Zelaya said.
[...]

2) Base Hit By Stress Disorder, Suicides
Yochi J. Dreazen, Wall Street Journal, November 6, 2009
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125747341095832795.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_MIDDLTopStories

Washington - Fort Hood, the base stricken in Thursday's shooting rampage, is the largest U.S. military facility in the world - and a base that has a large share of the military's overall instances of post-traumatic stress disorder and suicide.

Army officials say that roughly 30,000 troops are stationed at the sprawling facility north of the Texas capital of Austin, while an additional 20,000 troops from the base are deployed to Iraq. Tens of thousands of military spouses and children live on the base and in adjacent suburbs.

The facility, which opened in 1942, houses the 1st Cavalry Division and the First Army Division West, as well as smaller aviation, logistics and military police units. It until recently also housed the Army's Fourth Infantry Division. The 1st Cavalry Division and the Fourth Infantry Division have each done three tours to Iraq.

Since the start of the Afghan war in 2001, the base has lost hundreds of soldiers in combat. More alarmingly to many senior commanders there, the base has also lost at least 75 of its soldiers to suicide, one of the heaviest such tolls in the U.S. military.

The base's former commander, Lt. Gen. Rick Lynch, used his tenure at the helm of the sprawling post to mount a broad campaign to reduce the incidence of PTSD and suicide among the soldiers on the post.
[...]
Despite the efforts, however, Fort Hood continues to be hit hard by suicide, PTSD and other related problems. Through October, 10 Fort Hood soldiers had taken their lives in 2009, the second-highest tally in the Army behind Kentucky's Fort Campbell, which had 16 suicides.

3) Afghan National Police penetrated by Taliban at 'every level'
The Afghan National Police have been penetrated by the Taliban "at every level" with officers poorly trained, corrupt and some addicted to drugs, a former Army officer has said.
Thomas Harding and James Kirkup, Daily Telegraph, 4:01PM GMT 04 Nov 2009
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/6502175/Afghan-National-Police-penetrated-by-Taliban-at-every-level.html

Capt Doug Beattie, who served two tours in Afghanistan working with the ANP, said many police officers are in the paid of insurgents and were more loyal to their tribes than the Afghan government. British officers say that among low-ranking Afghan police, and particularly in more rural areas away from central control, there is widespread corruption and disloyalty.

Parts of the ANP play an active role in helping the Taliban and drug warlords get opium and heroin onto the international market. The police are poorly paid and educated, earning about $200 a month, so are vulnerable to corruption.

More worryingly, a number are regular opium users and their addiction makes their behaviour unpredictable. There has also been reports of police sexual abuse that has antagonised the local population.

Capt Beattie, who has retired from the Army, said: "It is absolutely right to say that the Afghan police are infiltrated by the Taliban at every level, from the very lowest to the very highest."

The police officer who killed five British soldiers on Tuesday is understood to have been in the police for at least two years. That raises the possibility that he was paid to switch sides.

Capt Beattie said that many police officers happily switch sides for money. He said: "Because they're militia they can be bought and paid off at will. If the government's paying them they're reasonably happy. But if they don't get enough money they're quite happy to be paid by the insurgency."

Under current planning it is hoped to increase the ANP force from 80,000 to about 140,000 but there are still worries about the quality of officers and their vulnerability to corruption.
[...]

4) Reviews Raise Doubt On Training Of Afghan Forces
Thom Shanker and John H. Cushman Jr., New York Times, November 6, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/world/asia/06training.html

Washington - A series of internal government reviews have presented the Obama administration with a dire portrait of Afghanistan's military and police force, bringing into serious question an ambitious goal at the heart of the evolving American war strategy - to speed up their training and send many more Afghans to the fight.

As President Obama considers his top commander's call to rapidly double Afghanistan's security forces, the internal reviews, written by officials directly involved in the training program or charged with keeping it on track, describe an overstretched enterprise struggling to nurse along the poorly led, largely illiterate and often corrupt Afghan forces.

In September, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the top American and allied commander in Afghanistan, recommended increasing the Afghan Army as quickly as possible - to 134,000 in a year from the current force of more than 90,000, instead of taking two years, and perhaps eventually to 240,000. He would also expand the police force to 160,000. The acceleration is vital to General McChrystal's overall counterinsurgency plan, which also calls for more American troops but seeks more protection against the Taliban for the Afghan population than the Pentagon could ever supply.

While General McChrystal knew of the latest assessments when he wrote his plan, their completion just as President Obama considers the general's proposal has given fresh ammunition to doubters.

"Nothing in our experience over the last seven to eight years suggests that progress at such a rapid pace is realistic," said Representative John F. Tierney, the Massachusetts Democrat who is the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee on national security.

The latest reports offer new details that show just how tough it will be to meet General McChrystal's training goal. Among the previously undisclosed conclusions: one out of every four or five men in the security forces quit each year, meaning that tens of thousands must be recruited just to maintain the status quo. The number of Afghan battalions able to fight independently actually declined in the past six months.
[...]
Today, only about one in 10 Afghan police units is capable of operating wholly independently, according to the latest report to Congress. Despite that, the police force is constantly attacked and is taking casualties at an even greater rate than the Afghan or American military, it said.

The Afghan National Police currently fields 92,000 people, but only 24,000 have actually completed formal training, according to Pentagon records. The attrition rate is 25 percent, the training command in Afghanistan reported. The situation is not much better in the army, with 19 percent attrition.
[...]

5) Paraguay names new military chiefs
Pedro Servin, Associated Press, 2009-11-06 02:05 AM http://www.etaiwannews.com/etn/news_content.php?id=1100940

Paraguay's new army, navy and air force chiefs were sworn in Thursday, a day after President Fernando Lugo fired top commanders amid a swirl of rumors about possibilities of a military coup.

Lugo made no public comments about his military shake-up, but opponents said the timing of the moves - a day after Lugo denied rumors of a military plot to unseat him - was disrespectful to the military and could even be part of a plot to seize more power.

"These fired chiefs will now be seen as coup-plotters in the eyes of the public," complained retired Gen. Mario Soto, who commanded the military for Lugo's predecessor Nicanor Duarte.

Earlier in the week, Lugo responded to a reporter's question by denying he faces any risk of a military coup, though he said there could be small groups in the military that are linked with politicians or that could be used for political purposes.

Colorado Party politicians, who still dominate Congress despite losing the presidency to Lugo for first time in 61 years, suggested without offering evidence that Hugo Chavez of Venezuela could be guiding Lugo's hand. "Lugo is pushing a Chavista plan that consists of creating chaos in the country, ordering a state of emergency and assuming all the powers," suggested Sen. Juan Carlos Galaverna.

Opponents of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya made similar allegations before his country's military shot up his house and sent him into exile in June, prompting a still-unresolved constitutional standoff.
[...]

6) UN endorses Gaza war crimes report
Al Jazeera, November 06, 2009
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/11/2009115224442710473.html

The United Nations General Assembly has voted in favour of resolution endorsing a UN-sponsored report into war crimes committed during Israel's war on Gaza. The Goldstone report, which accuses both Israel and Hamas of war crimes, was endorsed by the assembly on Thursday by a margin of 114 to 18, after two days of debate. Forty-four member-nations abstained from voting.

The report, which was compiled by a panel led by Richard Goldstone, a South African judge, had already been endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council, which sponsored the fact-finding commission. The report calls on both Israel and the Palestinians to investigate within three months accusations of human-rights violations during the 22-day conflict in December and January.
[...]
Apart from Israel and the US, a number of European countries including Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic, voted against the resolution.
[...]
Britain and France were among EU member nations who abstained. Most developing countries voted in favour of endorsing the report.
[...]

Honduras
7) Obama must stand firm on Honduras crisis
Editorial, Los Angeles Times, November 5, 2009
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-ed-honduras5-2009nov05,0,64597.story

A U.S.-brokered deal to return ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to office is unraveling, and the Obama administration seems to be wavering.

The Obama administration last week brokered what looked like a promising deal to end the political crisis in Honduras. Sadly, this week it already is fraying. The de facto leaders of Honduras are foot-dragging, prompting President Manuel Zelaya, whom they ousted in a civilian-military coup four months ago, to issue an ultimatum from his refuge in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital.

Both sides need to stand down and focus on restoring democracy before the country's Nov. 29 presidential election. The Obama administration, meanwhile, must hold firm to its principles and quit backing away from its stated belief that Zelaya should be allowed to serve out the remaining three months of his term.

Under the accord, the two sides were to form a national unity government by today and let the Honduran Congress decide whether to return Zelaya to office. Although the agreement did not set a date for the vote or specifically guarantee Zelaya's restitution, it called for "an end to the situation facing the country." The deposed president signed, in the apparent belief that the vote would be a formality and that he would be back in office within a week. The de facto leader, Roberto Micheletti, seemed to be compromising in order to secure international backing for the next election and an end to the country's isolation. The European Union, the Organization of American States and the U.S. had said they wouldn't recognize the next president if Zelaya weren't returned to office first.

Now Micheletti and his allies are dithering, waiting to call Congress back from recess until the Supreme Court and the attorney general issue nonbinding opinions on Zelaya's return. Without Congress, no government can be formed. As usual, they're trying to run out the clock. Zelaya, in turn, is threatening to pull out of the deal if he isn't reinstated today. The Micheletti camp responds: Sorry, a deal is a deal. This leaves U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and the rest of the verification commission established under the deal in the awkward position of sitting around with nothing to verify.

Although still saying it supports Zelaya's return to power, the U.S. government seems to be punting. "This is now a Honduran process," State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said. "It's not for us to interpret the agreement." But it is the government's job to continue pressing for what's right, alongside its Latin American allies.

The path back to democracy has been clear from the start: Zelaya should return to power under an agreement not to tamper with the constitution - the issue that incited the Honduran elite in the first place - and serve the remainder of his term as part of a unity government with international oversight. The U.S., which reopened its consulate after the accord was signed, should not lift sanctions unless this happens.

If the Obama administration chooses to recognize the election without Zelaya first being reinstated, it will find itself at odds with the rest of Latin America. That would be a setback for democracy and for the United States.

8) Statement of the OAS Secretary General on the Situation in Honduras
Organization of American States, November 6, 2009
http://www.oas.org/OASpage/press_releases/press_release.asp?sCodigo=E-371/09

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today deplored the disruption to the process of implementation of the Agreement reached in Tegucigalpa on October 30. "The measures approved in the Agreement are clear and were signed by the parties of their own free will. I hope they will be met without further subterfuges to reestablish democracy, institutional legitimacy and peace among Hondurans," Insulza stated.

The Secretary General declared that the OAS will continue in all of its efforts to move forward the process of dialogue and urged President José Manuel Zelaya and Mr. Roberto Micheletti to reach an agreement in the formation of a Government of Unity and National Reconciliation that should, naturally, be presided by he who legitimately holds the office of President of the Honduran nation.

To that end, "it is also essential that the Honduran National Congress issue its sovereign declaration on the pending point of the San José Agreement regarding the restoration of the Executive Power to its state prior to June 28 and until the end of the current term of government, January 27, 2010," Insulza said.

Israel/Palestine
9) Top Palestinian Rules Out Race for Re-election
Ethan Bronner and Mark Landler, New York Times, November 6, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/06/world/middleeast/06mideast.html

Ramallah, West Bank - The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, warned on Thursday that he would not seek re-election, the latest sign that the Obama administration's drive to broker a Middle East peace accord, one of President Obama's key foreign policy goals, has fallen into disarray.

Mr. Abbas, 74, has threatened to step aside before, but coming immediately after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit to the region aimed at reviving a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, his announcement laid bare the deepening tensions over the administration's failure to extract an Israeli settlement freeze or any concessions from Arab leaders.

Mrs. Clinton's visit, which she characterized as a success, sowed anger and confusion among Palestinians and other Arabs after she praised as "unprecedented" the offer by the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to slow down, but not stop, construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

In a televised speech from his office in Ramallah, Mr. Abbas, who replaced Yasir Arafat five years ago as president of the Palestinian Authority, said, "I have told my brethren in the P.L.O. that I have no desire to run in the forthcoming election," referring to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
[...]
What seems clear is that high-level Israeli-Palestinian talks will not resume any time soon, despite Mr. Obama's pledge in September to redouble American efforts to get the process back on track. A top aide to Mr. Abbas said a large part of his "despondency and frustration" was because of Mr. Obama's unrealized promises to the region. Without a stop to Jewish settlements, he said, Islamist rivals in Hamas could triumph, and violence could break out.

"There was high expectation when he arrived on the scene," said the aide, Nabil Shaath, who leads the Fatah party's foreign affairs department, speaking of Mr. Obama's pledge to be a peacemaker. "Now there is a total retreat, which has destroyed trust instead of building trust."
[...]

Iran
10) IAEA Found Nothing Serious At Iran Site: ElBaradei
Mark Heinrich, Reuters, November 5, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/2009/11/05/world/international-us-iran-nuclear-elbaradei.html

Vienna - U.N. inspectors found "nothing to be worried about" in a first look at a previously secret uranium enrichment site in Iran last month, the International Atomic Energy chief said in remarks published Thursday.

Mohamed ElBaradei also told the New York Times that he was examining possible compromises to unblock a draft nuclear cooperation deal between Iran and three major powers that has foundered over Iranian objections.
[...]
ElBaradei was quoted in a New York Times interview as saying his inspectors' initial findings at the fortified site beneath a desert mountain near the Shi'ite holy city of Qom were "nothing to be worried about."

"The idea was to use it as a bunker under the mountain to protect things," ElBaradei, alluding to Tehran's references to the site as a fallback for its nuclear program in case its larger Natanz enrichment plant were bombed by a foe like Israel. "It's a hole in a mountain," he said.

The IAEA has declined to comment on whether the inspectors came across anything surprising or were able to obtain all the documentation and on-site access they had wanted at the remote spot about 160 km (100 miles) south of Tehran.

Details are expected to be included in the next IAEA report on Iran's disputed nuclear activity due in mid-November.

The inspectors' goal was to compare engineering designs to be provided by Iran with the actual look of the facility, interview scientists and other employees, and take soil samples to check for any traces of activity oriented to making bombs.
[...]
After talks with Iran and three world powers, ElBaradei drafted a plan for Iran to transfer most of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France to turn it into fuel for a Tehran reactor that makes isotopes for cancer treatment.

Russia, France and the United States, which would help modernize the reactor's safety equipment and instrumentation under the deal, see it as a way to reduce Iran's LEU stockpile below the threshold needed to produce material for a bomb.

But since the October 19-21 talks, Iran has made clear it is loath to ship its own LEU abroad because of its strategic value, and would prefer buying the reactor fuel it needs from foreign suppliers. Iran has called for more talks.

Western diplomats say the three powers do not want more talks and that Iran's demands are a non-starter as they would do nothing to remove the risk of nuclear proliferation in Iran.

ElBaradei was quoted by the New York Times as saying the problem boiled down to "total distrust on the part of Iran ...

"The issue is timing, whether the uranium goes out and then some time later they get the fuel, as we agreed (tentatively) in Geneva, or whether it only goes at the same time as the fuel is delivered," he said.

"There are a lot of ideas. One is to send (Iran's uranium) to a third country, which could be a friendly country to Iran, and it stays there. Park it in another state ... (for) something like a year..., then ... bring in the fuel. The issue is to get it out, and so create the time and space to start building trust."

Colombia
11) Colombian Militias Said Re-Arming in Border Regions
EFE, Nov 5, 2009.
http://www.laht.com/article.asp?ArticleId=346793&CategoryId=12393

Bogota - The chairman of Colombia's National Reparations and Reconciliation said Wednesday that some of the murderous right-wing militias which ostensibly demobilized in 2006 are re-arming in border regions of the Andean nation.

Eduardo Pizarro said 10 percent of the 30,000 members of the AUC militia federation who laid down their arms have resumed illegal activities in areas bordering Ecuador, Venezuela and Panama.

"The violence is departing from the center of the country and is moving to the borders. Right now, the worst affected areas for Colombia are those where there is drug trafficking," he said in Bogota at a forum on the decades-long armed conflict and its victims.

Half of Colombia's 32 provinces are experiencing violence from the 22 "emerging bands" made up of AUC fighters who took part in the 2003-2006 demobilization process, according to Pizarro.
[...]
Rightist gunmen were responsible for at least three-quarters of the more than 27,000 forced disappearances in Colombia over the past two decades, a top government prosecutor said last month, while a preliminary report compiled last summer blamed the AUC for 21,000 deaths since 1987.

-
Robert Naiman
Just Foreign Policy
www.justforeignpolicy.org

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The deal collapse if there is no follow up. Most especially if there are so many competitors.

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