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JFP 12/17: WikiLeaks cables show why UN troops should leave Haiti
Submitted by Robert Naiman on 17 December 2010 - 7:39pm
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December 17, 2010
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RT video: US wasted billions in Afghanistan
Just Foreign Policy tells RT: "To claim progress is fundamentally misleading. There's no evidence that the quagmire has changed or that it will change anytime in the foreseeable future."
Bogus Afghan "Review" Shows Need for Journalism on Classified Information
U.S. intelligence agencies say Pakistan remains unwilling to stop providing support and sanctuary for members of the Afghan Taliban. Experts inside and outside of the government think there is no reason to expect Pakistan's policy will change, because it is based on Pakistani perception of core national security interests and opposition to what the Pakistanis see as a pro-India U.S. policy in Afghanistan, which the U.S. has no plans to change. The clear implication of the intelligence agencies assessment is that the current U.S. war policy is doomed to costly failure.
The reason that we know this is because news outlets like the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times report on classified information, and because of WikiLeaks. That's why the attacks on WikiLeaks are not only attacks on freedom of the press, but also attacks on the ability of the public to end the Afghanistan war and prevent new wars.
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1) One area of US foreign policy that the WikiLeaks cables help illuminate is the occupation of Haiti, writes Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian. In 2004, the country's democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown through an effort led by the US. A UN Security Council resolution was passed just days after the coup, and UN forces, headed by Brazil, were sent to the country. The mission is still headed by Brazil, and has troops from other Latin American governments that are left of center, including Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay.
The participation of these governments in the occupation of Haiti is a serious political contradiction, and it is getting worse. The WikiLeaks cables show the agenda of the US in Haiti remains basically the same as it was during the coup: prevent the emergence of a government independent of Washington. This is why UN troops are still occupying the country, more than six years after the coup, without any apparent mission other than replacing the hated Haitian army - which President Aristide had abolished - as a repressive force.
This is a mission that costs over $500m a year, when the UN can't even raise a third of that to fight the epidemic that UN troops caused, or to provide clean water for Haitians. And now the UN is asking for an increase to over $850m to pay for UN troops. It is high time that the progressive governments of Latin America quit this occupation, which goes against their own principles and deeply-held beliefs, and is against the will of the Haitian people, Weisbrot argues.
[Our petition calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of UN troops from Haiti is here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/haiti - JFP.]
2) Vice President Joe Biden says there has been no "substantive" damage to US foreign policy from WikiLeaks, AFP reports. "I don't think there is any substantive damage, no," Biden said.
3) The U.S. military command in Afghanistan has revised secret guidelines for nighttime raids, placing additional safeguards on kill-or-capture missions, the Wall Street Journal reports. A U.S. official said the new directive was done "out of necessity" to ease tensions with President Karzai. U.S. officials say their intention is to keep up the pace of operations, if not accelerate them. President Karzai has called for them to end.
Under the revised tactical directive, Special Operations forces are instructed to provide villagers with a list of individuals who have been detained and information about who is holding them. The units will provide receipts to account for any items seized during night operations. Forces will also provide leaders in raided compounds or villages with claim information, enabling civilians caught in the fighting to seek compensation for any damaged property. "We really should have been doing this all along," a senior official said of the changes, designed to show villagers that elite forces are accountable for their actions.
4) Friends say Bradley Manning's health is starting to deteriorate after seven months in solitary confinement, the Guardian reports. They say it is clear that solitary confinement and his lack of a pillow, sheets, the freedom to exercise, or the ability to view televised current events were enacted as a means of punishment, although Manning has been convicted of no crime.
5) President Obama needs to assure a restless public and his political base that a withdrawal from Afghanistan is on track to begin by the deadline he set of next summer and that he can show measurable success before the next election cycle, the New York Times reports. The elephant in the room is that whatever the trajectory of the war, the Afghan government does not envision a defeat of the Taliban, but a negotiated peace. Unmentioned in the Administration's review is what the US may be looking for in such a deal, and what they are willing to do to bring that peace.
6) Germany, which has the third largest military force in Afghanistan, says it will start withdrawing its 4,800 troops as early as next year, the New York Times reports.
7) The 60% of the public who now say the Afghanistan war has not been worth fighting match the 2005-9 average 60% of Americans who said the Iraq war was not fighting, ABC reports. Half of Republicans now say it's not been worth it. Americans overwhelmingly support the promised drawdown of troops next summer: 54% support it, while 27% say it should start sooner. Even among Republicans, just 24% support a slower start to the withdrawal process.
8) The ACLU praised President Obama's announcement that the US will support the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
9) "Breaking the Silence," a new book by the Israeli veterans group of the same name, lays bare the grim reality of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories through soldiers' testimonies, AFP reports. The first part details random shootings, arbitrary house searches, and orders to kill unarmed men suspected of being lookouts. Another section highlights the army's policies for controlling the Palestinian civilian population. The final chapter examines the coddling relationship between the IDF and aggressive Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
10) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the establishment of an international scientific panel Friday to investigate the source of the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti, AP reports. Ban called on the international community to urgently provide additional funds, doctors, nurses and medical supplies to fight the epidemic. He noted that the U.N. appeal seeking $164 million to curb the spread of cholera which was launched last month is only 21 percent funded.
1) Wikileaks Show Why Washington Won't Allow Democracy in Haiti
What the US embassy cables reveal about Washington's malign influence should make Latin American nations quit the UN force
Mark Weisbrot, Guardian, Friday 17 December 2010 14.30 GMT
The polarisation of the debate around WikiLeaks is pretty simple, really. Of all the governments in the world, the United States government is the greatest threat to world peace and security today. This is obvious to anyone who looks at the facts with a modicum of objectivity. The Iraq war has claimed certainly hundreds of thousands, and, most likely, more than a million lives. It was completely unnecessary and unjustifiable, and based on lies. Now, Washington is moving toward a military confrontation with Iran.
As Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, pointed out in an interview recently, in the preparation for a war with Iran, we are at about the level of 1998 in the buildup to the Iraq war.
On this basis, even ignoring the tremendous harm that Washington causes to developing countries in such areas as economic development (through such institutions as the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation), or climate change, it is clear that any information which sheds light on US "diplomacy" is more than useful. It has the potential to help save millions of human lives.
You either get this or you don't. Brazil's president Lula da Silva, who earned Washington's displeasure last May when he tried to help defuse the confrontation with Iran, gets it. That's why he defended and declared his "solidarity" with embattled WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, even though the leaked cables were not pleasant reading for his own government.
One area of US foreign policy that the WikiLeaks cables help illuminate, which the major media has predictably ignored, is the occupation of Haiti. In 2004, the country's democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown for the second time, through an effort led by the United States government. Officials of the constitutional government were jailed and thousands of its supporters were killed.
The Haitian coup, besides being a repeat of Aristide's overthrow in 1991, was also very similar to the attempted coup in Venezuela in 2002 - which also had Washington's fingerprints all over it. Some of the same people in Washington were even involved in both efforts. But the Venezuelan coup failed - partly because Latin American governments immediately and forcefully declared that they would not recognise the coup government.
In the case of Haiti, Washington had learned from its mistakes in the Venezuelan coup and had gathered support for an illegitimate government in advance. A UN resolution was passed just days after the coup, and UN forces, headed by Brazil, were sent to the country. The mission is still headed by Brazil, and has troops from a number of other Latin American governments that are left of centre, including Bolivia, Argentina and Uruguay. They are also joined by Chile, Peru and Guatemala from Latin America.
Would these governments have sent troops to occupy Venezuela if that coup had succeeded? Clearly, they would not have considered such a move, yet the occupation of Haiti is no more justifiable. South America's progressive governments have strongly challenged US foreign policy in the region and the world, with some of them regularly using words like imperialism and empire as synonyms for Washington. They have built new institutions such as UNASUR to prevent these kinds of abuses from the north. Bolivia expelled the US ambassador in September of 2008 for interfering in the country's internal affairs.
Is it because Haitians are poor and black that their most fundamental human and democratic rights can be trampled upon?
The participation of these governments in the occupation of Haiti is a serious political contradiction for them, and it is getting worse. The WikiLeaks cables illustrate how important the control of Haiti is to the United States. A long memo from the US embassy in Port-au-Prince to the US secretary of state answers detailed questions about Haitian president Rene Preval's political, personal and family life, including such vital national security questions as "How many drinks can Preval consume before he shows signs of inebriation?" It also expresses one of Washington's main concerns:
"His reflexive nationalism, and his disinterest in managing bilateral relations in a broad diplomatic sense, will lead to periodic frictions as we move forward our bilateral agenda. Case in point, we believe that in terms of foreign policy, Preval is most interested in gaining increased assistance from any available resource. He is likely to be tempted to frame his relationship with Venezuela and Chávez-allies in the hemisphere in a way that he hopes will create a competitive atmosphere as far as who can provide the most to Haiti."
This logic is why they got rid of Aristide - who was much to the left of Preval - and won't let him back in the country. This is why Washington funded the recent "elections" that excluded Haiti's largest political party, the equivalent of shutting out the Democrats and Republicans in the United States. And this is why Minustah is still occupying the country, more than six years after the coup, without any apparent mission other than replacing the hated Haitian army - which Aristide had abolished - as a repressive force.
People who do not understand US foreign policy think that control over Haiti does not matter to Washington, because it is so poor and has no strategic minerals or resources. But that is not how Washington operates, as the WikiLeaks cables repeatedly illustrate. For the state department and its allies, it is all a ruthless chess game, and every pawn matters. Left governments will be removed or prevented from taking power where it is possible to do so; and the poorest countries - like Honduras last year - present the most opportune targets. A democratically elected government in Haiti, due to its history and the consciousness of the population, will inevitably be a left government - and one that will not line up with Washington's foreign policy priorities for the region. Thus, democracy is not allowed.
Thousands of Haitians have been protesting the sham elections, as well as Minustah's role in causing the cholera epidemic, which has already taken more than 2,300 lives and can be expected to kill thousands more in the coming months and years. Judging from the rapid spread of the disease, there may have been gross criminal negligence on the part of Minustah - that is, large-scale dumping of fecal waste into the Artibonite river. This is another huge reason for the force to leave Haiti.
This is a mission that costs over $500m a year, when the UN can't even raise a third of that to fight the epidemic that the mission caused, or to provide clean water for Haitians. And now the UN is asking for an increase to over $850m.
It is high time that the progressive governments of Latin America quit this occupation, which goes against their own principles and deeply-held beliefs, and is against the will of the Haitian people.
2) Biden: no 'substantive' damage from Wikileaks
AFP, Thu Dec 16, 4:39 pm ET
Washington - US Vice President Joe Biden says there has been no "substantive" damage to US foreign policy from the WikiLeaks drama, despite embarrassment caused by thousands of leaked diplomatic cables. Biden commented on the fallout from the WikiLeaks campaign in an MSNBC interview broadcast on Thursday and recorded a day earlier at the United Nations, where he chaired a Security Council meeting on Iraq.
"I don't think there is any substantive damage, no," Biden said, when asked about the WikiLeaks revelations.
"Some of the cables that are coming out here and around the world are embarrassing," Biden said.
"But nothing that I am aware of that goes to the essence of the relationship that will allow another nation to say 'they lied to me, we don't trust them, they really are not dealing fairly with us'."
3) U.S. Revises Rules for Raids Touted in Review
Guidelines on Afghan Nighttime Operations Add Safeguards for Civilians to Ease Tensions With Karzai, Officials Say
Adam Entous and Julian E. Barnes, Wall Street Journal, December 16, 2010
Washington - The U.S. military command in Afghanistan has revised secret guidelines for nighttime raids, placing additional safeguards on kill-or-capture missions that are cited in a new White House strategic review as an effective tool in countering the Taliban.
A senior U.S. official said the new directive by Gen. David Petraeus, commander of coalition forces, was done "out of necessity" to ease tensions with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The nighttime raids, which can imperil civilians, have been a sore point with Afghan leaders.
U.S. officials credit a sharp increase in the number of raids with putting heavy pressure on insurgents. They say their intention is to keep up the pace of operations, if not accelerate them.
The changes in guidelines for nighttime raids, made in consultation with the White House, are intended to expand protections for civilians and increase coordination with higher-level Afghan government officials-without putting new obstacles in the way of the Special Operations units that carry out the raids, according to officials who have reviewed the new order.
Last month, Mr. Obama rebuffed Mr. Karzai's call for halting the raids.
Under the revised tactical directive, which is classified, Special Operations forces are instructed to provide villagers with a list of individuals who have been detained and information about who is holding them. The units will provide receipts to account for any items seized during night operations. Forces will also provide leaders in raided compounds or villages with claim information, enabling civilians caught in the fighting to seek compensation for any damaged property.
A senior Obama administration official said the changes made by Gen. Petraeus were "a way of responding to Karzai's concerns" about the raids without giving into his demands to end the operations outright, but said the issue was likely to remain a sore point in relations.
The changes are part of an administration effort to persuade senior Afghan government officials and civilians to accept the raids because of their increasing importance to the administration's strategy.
"We really should have been doing this all along," a senior official said of the changes, designed to show villagers that elite forces are accountable for their actions.
4) Bradley Manning's health deteriorating in jail, supporters say
The intelligence analyst suspected of leaking US diplomatic cables is being held in solitary confinement
Heather Brooke, Guardian, Thursday 16 December 2010 20.50 GMT http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/dec/16/bradley-manning-health-deteriorating
As Julian Assange emerged from his nine-day imprisonment, there were renewed concerns about the physical and psychological health of Bradley Manning, the former US intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the diplomatic cables at the centre of the storm.
Manning, who was arrested seven months ago, is being held at a military base in Virginia and faces a court martial and up to 52 years in prison for his alleged role in copying the cables.
His friends and supporters also claim they have been the target of extra-judicial harassment, intimidation and outright bribery by US government agents.
According to David House, a computer researcher from Boston who visits Manning twice a month, he is starting to deteriorate. "Over the last few weeks I have noticed a steady decline in his mental and physical wellbeing," he said. "His prolonged confinement in a solitary holding cell is unquestionably taking its toll on his intellect; his inability to exercise due to [prison] regulations has affected his physical appearance in a manner that suggests physical weakness."
Manning, House added, was no longer the characteristically brilliant man he had been, despite efforts to keep him intellectually engaged. He also disputed the authorities' claims that Manning was being kept in solitary for his own good.
"I initially believed that his time in solitary confinement was a decision made in the interests of his safety," he said. "As time passed and his suicide watch was lifted, to no effect, it became clear that his time in solitary - and his lack of a pillow, sheets, the freedom to exercise, or the ability to view televised current events - were enacted as a means of punishment rather than a means of safety."
5) Afghan Report Exposes A Split Over Pullout Timelines
Alissa J. Rubin, New York Times, December 16, 2010
Kabul, Afghanistan - The White House report on Afghan strategy released Thursday was notable as much for what it did not say as for what it did.
It reports some real military gains, but acknowledges that they remain fragile and that NATO troops will need more time to achieve their goals. However, that progress has come only by adding more troops in key areas, and the fierce debate to come will be over whether any troops can be subtracted without undermining that progress.
Already, parts of the country with fewer troops are showing a deterioration of security, and the gains that have been made were hard won, coming at the cost of a third more casualties among NATO forces this year.
Then there are the starkly different timelines being used in Washington and on the ground. President Obama is on a political timetable, needing to assure a restless public and his political base that a withdrawal is on track to begin by the deadline he set of next summer and that he can show measurable success before the next election cycle.
A fundamental conundrum, unmentioned in the report, is that the United States and its NATO allies constantly speak of Mr. Karzai and his government as an ally and a partner and try to shore up his image as the leader of his people. Yet many Afghans view his government as a cabal of strongmen, who enrich themselves and their families at the expense of the country.
By identifying themselves with Mr. Karzai, the United States risks being seen as endorsing the culture of warlords and approving of the enrichment of a privileged few while much of the rest of the country lives in penury.
As September's parliamentary elections suggested, many Afghans are so disillusioned with the government that they harbor doubt that even the idea of a government - any government - is worth supporting.
Fewer than a third of eligible voters cast ballots in the elections, and there was so much fraud that the proportion is likely to have been even lower. The candidates that Mr. Karzai supported did less well than expected, raising further questions about whether he is losing his base - and by extension, whether the United State is losing its.
The elephant in the room is that whatever the trajectory of the war, the Afghan government does not envision a defeat of the Taliban, but a negotiated peace. Unmentioned in the report is what the Americans may be looking for in such a deal, and what they are willing to do to bring that peace.
6) Germany Will Begin Afghan Exit Next Year
Judy Dempsey and Matthew Saltmarsh, New York Times, December 16, 2010
Berlin - Germany, which has the third largest military force in Afghanistan, will start withdrawing its 4,800 troops as early as next year, ending its mission there by 2014, the foreign minister told Parliament on Thursday.
The move comes as a review of the war strategy in the United States has concluded that American forces can begin withdrawing on schedule in July. It also comes just days after Britain, which has the second largest number of troops in the country after the United States, said it was "possible" that its troops could start leaving next year.
7) Poll: Assessment of Afghanistan War Sours
ABC News/Washington Post Poll: Record Six in 10 Say it's 'Not Worth Fighting'
Julie Phelan and Gary Langer, ABC News, Dec. 16, 2010
A record 60 percent of Americans say the war in Afghanistan has not been worth fighting, a grim assessment - and a politically hazardous one - in advance of the Obama administration's one-year review of its revised strategy.
Public dissatisfaction with the war, now the nation's longest, has spiked by 7 points just since July. Given its costs vs. its benefits, only 34 percent in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll say the war's been worth fighting, down by 9 points to a new low, by a sizable margin.
Negative views of the war for the first time are at the level of those recorded for the war in Iraq, whose unpopularity dragged George W. Bush to historic lows in approval across his second term. On average from 2005 through 2009, 60 percent called that war not worth fighting, the same number who say so about Afghanistan now. (It peaked at 66 percent in April 2007.)
As support for the Iraq war went down, approval of Bush's job performance fell in virtual lockstep, a strongly cautionary note for President Obama. Presidents Truman and Johnson also saw their approval ratings drop sharply during the wars in Korea and Vietnam.
The public's increasingly negative assessment comes after a new strategy, including a surge of U.S. and allied forces, led to the Afghanistan war's bloodiest year. According to icasualties.org, nearly 500 U.S. soldiers have been killed and 4,481 wounded in 2010, compared with 317 killed and 2,114 wounded in 2009, and 155 killed, 793 wounded in 2008.
While opposition to the war has grown, Obama himself gets more mixed reviews for handling it. This survey, produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates, finds that 45 percent approve of Obama's work on Afghanistan, matching his low, while 46 percent disapprove, a scant 2 points from the high. Still, that's considerably better than Bush's ratings for handling Iraq in his second term - on average, 63 percent disapproved of how he did.
One apparent reason is Obama's pledge to start withdrawing U.S. forces next summer. Fifty-four percent of Americans support that time frame - up by 15 points since it was announced a year ago. An additional 27 percent say the withdrawal should begin sooner; just 12 percent say it should start later, down 7 points from a year ago.
Republicans have been and remain substantially more supportive of the war, a conundrum for Obama in that the group that most favors the war least likes his handling of it. In any case, views that it's been worth fighting are at new lows across the board.
Half of Republicans now say it's not been worth it, down a dramatic 35 points from the high in 2007. Support drops sharply from there, to 31 percent among independents and a quarter of Democrats, down 27 and 16 points, respectively, from their highs. Views of the war as "worth fighting" are down by 10 or 11 points in all three groups since summer.
Republicans also are more apt than Democrats to think the war has contributed to long-term U.S. security, by a 20-point margin, 70 percent to 50 percent; more likely to support the troop surge, 62 vs. 48 percent; and more apt to say the withdrawal of U.S. forces start later than next summer. But even among Republicans, just 24 percent support a slower start to the withdrawal process.
8) United States Endorses International Declaration On Indigenous Rights
ACLU Says Support For Declaration Is Essential To Upholding U.S. Obligations Under International Law
ACLU, December 17, 2010
New York - In an important step toward upholding and promoting the United States' commitment to international human rights at home, President Obama announced Thursday that the U.S. will lend its support to the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The decision is a reversal of the position taken by the Bush administration in 2007, when the U.S. voted against UNDRIP even as 145 nations supported it.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Human Rights at Home Campaign (HuRAH Campaign) have long called for unqualified endorsement of UNDRIP, which articulates the rights set forth for indigenous peoples in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
9) Book exposes Israeli occupation as seen by troops
Gavin Rabinowitz, AFP, Thu Dec 16, 3:35 pm ET
Jerusalem - Some stories are told with shame; others are just matter-of-fact accounts, but the dozens of soldier testimonies in a book to be released this month lays bare the grim day-to-day reality of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories. "Breaking the Silence" shares the name of its publishers, a group of veteran Israeli combat soldiers who collect testimonies and photographs from troops who have served in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
It is due to be released on December 21 to mark 10 years since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, and seeks to understand the overall policies of the military through the experiences of troops on the ground.
"The book exposes the operational methods of the Israeli military in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and the impact of these methods on the people who live in the territories - Palestinians, settlers and the soldiers themselves," reads the introduction in an advance copy obtained by AFP.
The book targets ordinary Israelis and tries to show that, contrary to the army's claims that its actions are purely defensive, the policy on the ground is "an offensive one which includes expropriation of territory, tightening control over the civilian population and instilling fear."
The first part of the book details random shootings, tales of keeping entire villages awake at night, arbitrary house searches initiated by bored commanders and even orders to kill unarmed men suspected of being lookouts.
Another section highlights the army's policies for controlling the Palestinian civilian population, including a separate road system, curfews, beatings, detentions and endless waits at roadblocks and checkpoints. "We would detain whoever we felt like," said a soldier, describing his experience manning a roadblock. "It could go up to eight or nine hours. Until we'd get tired of it."
The final chapter examines the complex relationship between the IDF and Jewish settlers in the West Bank. "While the Palestinians are controlled by the use of threats and military force, soldiers' testimonies describe how the IDF serves, trains and advances the political ambitions of settlers in the territories at the expense of the Palestinian population," the book says.
Testimonies describe protecting settlers while they attack Palestinians, soldiers taking orders from settlers and a military that refrains from enforcing laws against the settlers. Settlers "just went into the Casbah and started spraying bullets in the air. On automatic. Our treatment of them was too forgiving. We didn't stop them," said a paratrooper who served in Hebron in 2002.
10) UN panel to investigate Haiti cholera outbreak
Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press, Friday, December 17, 2010; 2:57 PM
United Nations - Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced the establishment of an international scientific panel Friday to investigate the source of the deadly cholera epidemic in Haiti that has killed more than 2,400 people.
The U.N. chief told a news conference that he was creating the independent panel to make a determination since there are several different theories about the origin of the outbreak.
Ban said the panel will include epidemiologists and microbiologists and he hopes to announce its members "as soon as possible."
"The panel will be completely independent and have full access to all U.N. premises and personnel," he said.
The cholera outbreak, which experts estimate could affect more than 600,000 people in the impoverished Caribbean nation, involves the first confirmed cases of the disease in Haiti since WHO began keeping records in the mid-20th century.
Ban called on the international community to urgently provide additional funds, doctors, nurses and medical supplies to fight the epidemic. He noted that the U.N. appeal seeking $164 million to curb the spread of cholera which was launched last month is only 21 percent funded.
Soon after the cholera outbreak became evident in October, Haitians began questioning whether it started at a U.N. base in Meille, outside the central plateau town of Mirebalais and upriver from where hundreds were getting sick. Speculation pointed to recently arrived peacekeepers from Nepal, a South Asia nation where cholera is endemic.
WHO and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said at the time that it was unlikely the origin would ever be known, and that pinning it down was not a priority.
Then the Associated Press found not only sanitation problems at the base, but that the U.N. mission was quietly taking samples from behind the post to test for cholera.
When the CDC determined the strain in Haiti matched one in South Asia, cholera and global health experts said there was enough circumstantial evidence implicating the likely unwitting Nepalese soldiers to warrant an aggressive investigation.
Many think the U.N. mission's reticence to seriously address the allegations in public helped fuel anti-peacekeeper riots that broke out across Haiti last month.
French epidemiologist Renaud Piarroux argues that "no other hypothesis" from the Nepalese being the origin could explain his findings that cases of the diarrheal disease first appeared near the U.N. base in Haiti's rural center, far from shipping ports and the area affected by the Jan. 12 earthquake.
Cholera is spread by contaminated fecal matter. Health experts say it can be easily treated with rehydration or prevented outright by ensuring good sanitation and getting people to drink only purified water. But after years of instability, and despite decades of development projects, many Haitians have little access to clean water, toilets or health care.
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