JFP 2/16: House cuts F-35 engine; Obama silent on Bahrain deaths

Just Foreign Policy News
February 16, 2011

War-ending, Military-cutting amendments
Members of the House have introduced amendments to the "continuing resolution" to cut the military budget. There are many worthy amendments to cut the military budget - links to full list below - but we are focused on two, which are expected to be voted on Wednesday or Thursday:

Rep. Jerry Nadler (Amdt 232) ("Nadler-Lee-Stark amendment") has proposed cutting $90 billion for the war in Afghanistan. This would essentially end the war.

Rep. Jared Polis (Amdt 46) has proposed to limit the number of troops stationed in Europe to 35,000 and to cut force levels by 7,500 troops in the next 6 months. This is an effort to begin to implement the recommendations of the Sustainable Deficit Task Force sponsored by Rep. Frank and Rep. Paul.

Also: Rep. Kucinich (Amdt 233) has proposed to zero out funding for "missile defense."

You can reach your Rep. through the Capitol Switchboard: 202-225-3121. Ask your Rep. to support the Nadler and Polis amendments and all other amendments to cut the military budget and end the war.

Lists of proposed amendments to HR 1:
http://www.rules.house.gov/Media/hdrs/hr1_amendments_stack_ocr.pdf
http://www.rules.house.gov/Media/hdrs/hr1_404-583_feb15_ocr.pdf

Today's votes:
Rooney Amendment (#2) (cut F-35 alternate engine)
Roll call no. 46:
Passed, 233 to 198 (first reported cut to the military budget.)
Jones Amendment (#95) (cut Afghanistan Infrastructure Fund)
failed 135 - 294 (Roll call No. 47)
Holt Amendment (#237) (eliminates Iraq Security Forces Fund)
failed 133 - 299 (Roll call No. 48)
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/index.asp

From last night's roll calls:
On agreeing to the Gutierrez amendment Failed by recorded vote: 105 - 326
(cut V-22 Osprey) (more anti-V-22 amendments ahead)
Roll call no. 43:
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll043.xml
On agreeing to the Flake amendment Failed by recorded vote: 207 - 223
(cut operations and maintenance)
Roll call no. 41:
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll041.xml

Nadler, Polis Push to Cut Deficit by Trimming Empire

Okinawa and Bahrain show why we need to cut foreign military bases.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/nadler-polis-push-today-t_b_823577.html

William Hartung: Where to Find a Trillon Dollars
All of Obama's proposed cuts to domestic spending over 10 years could be replaced by the military cuts of the Sustainable Defense Task Force.
http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/02/14/where_to_find_a_trillon_dollars/

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Summary:
U.S./Top News
1) The House on Tuesday night defeated four amendments that would have trimmed several hundred millions of dollars from Defense Department spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, The Hill reports. The Flake amendment would have cut just $19 million from various Defense Department advisory boards. Flake said during debate Defense Secretary Gates recommended this cut. "If we can't do this, where can we do it?" Flake asked. Despite these arguments, the House narrowly rejected the Flake amendment in a 207-223 vote. More than half of Republicans and nearly half of the Democratic caucus voted against this cut. [But: the goal one of the four defeated amendments was cut the F-35 alternate engine, which was cut today by the Rooney amendment (see above), so the situation is not quite so bleak as this article suggests - JFP.]

2) Pro-democracy protests expanded in Bahrain on their third straight day, the New York Times reports. The demands are economic as well as political, in that most would like to see the nation transformed from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional one. A spokeswoman for the US military in Bahrain said the unrest has not affected its base nor any of its roughly 6,100 military and civilian personnel stationed there.

3) The Obama administration has responded quite differently to protests in Iran and Bahrain, the New York Times reports. With Iran - a country under sanctions pursuing a nuclear program that has put it at odds with the West - the administration has all but encouraged protesters to take to the streets. With Bahrain, a strategically important ally across the Persian Gulf from Iran, it has urged its king to address the grievances of his people. In a press conference Tuesday, Obama talked about Iran and did not mention the violence in Bahrain. Late on Tuesday the State Department issued a statement saying it was "very concerned" about the two deaths in Bahrain.

4) In the southwestern Yemen city of Taiz, thousands of students who have occupied the streets in overnight protests that began on Friday vowed to remain there until President Saleh stepped down, the New York Times reports. Several foreign journalists were singled out and set upon by pro-government groups, Reuters reported. Security forces have made scattered efforts to prevent foreign journalists from covering the spread of demonstrations.

5) Unrest spread against Libya's dictator Gadhafi Wednesday, AP reports. Human Rights Watch said a total of nine activists have been arrested in Tripoli and Benghazi in an effort to prevent people from joining the rallies called for Thursday.

Egypt
6) Military rulers in Egypt vowed to hand authority to an elected civilian government in six months and ordered legal experts to draft a revised constitution in 10 days, the Washington Post reports. Egypt's Supreme Military Council appointed a Muslim Brotherhood member to a panel of legal experts charged with rewriting the constitution. All eight members of the panel are considered top legal scholars, including Sobhi Saleh, the member affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, said Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights.

7) A group of civil society organizations promoting the implementation of the UN Convention Against Corruption called on world governments to help the government of Egypt recover wealth stolen by the Mubarak regime, as they are required to do under the UN convention. A 2011 report by Global Financial Integrity said Egypt was losing more than $6 billion per year to illicit financial activities and official government corruption.

Pakistan
8) Some Pakistanis hope and others fear that if the Pakistani government grants diplomatic immunity to a US official who killed two Pakistanis, as the US is demanding, it could be the "last straw" that tips Pakistan towards revolution, the Los Angeles Times reports. The case has congealed Pakistani society into a single, cohesive front against what many perceive to be an ideal illustration of US recklessness, the LAT says.

Iraq
9) The Iraqi government says Iraq is delaying the purchase of 18 US fighter jets over budget problems and has decided to funnel the money into food for the poor instead, AP reports. Iraq, like many Middle Eastern countries in the wake of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, is under pressure to demonstrate its commitment to helping its own people, AP says. Ali al-Dabbagh told AP the Iraqi government would postpone the expected purchase of the F-16 fighter jets and would instead use the money to beef up food rations. Al-Dabbagh said an initial partial payment of about $1 billion was to be spent this year on the fighter jets.

Ecuador
10) Armed with a $9 billion ruling against Chevron in Ecuador but little chance of collecting it there, representatives for Ecuadorean villagers said they were looking at waging legal battles against the company in more than a dozen countries where it operates, hoping to force Chevron to pay, the New York Times reports. Advisers to the villagers and forest tribes said they hoped to extract Chevron money from many countries until they reach the final judgment total.

Contents:
U.S./Top News

1) Budget Hawks Lose As House Rejects Cuts To Pentagon Spending
Pete Kasperowicz, The Hill, 02/15/11 07:28 PM ET
http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/144339-budget-hawks-lose-as-house-rejects-four-proposals-to-cut-defense-spending

The House on Tuesday night defeated four amendments that would have trimmed several hundred millions of dollars from Defense Department spending for the remainder of fiscal year 2011.

The failure of the first amendment seemed to set the tone for the rest, as it would have cut just $19 million from various Defense Department advisory boards. Its sponsor, Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), said during the debate that Defense Secretary Robert Gates recommended this cut.

"If we can't do this, where can we do it?" Flake asked. Despite these arguments, the House narrowly rejected the Flake amendment in a 207-223 vote. More than half of Republicans and nearly half of the Democratic caucus voted against this cut.
[...]

2) Bahrain Protests Expand on Third Day
Michael Slackman, New York Times, February 16, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/world/middleeast/17bahrain.html

Manama, Bahrain - Propelled by the funeral of a slain protester, thousands of people poured into this nation's symbolic center, Pearl Square, and flooded the streets on Wednesday, dramatically expanding pro-democracy protests on their third straight day.

Emulating the occupation of Cairo's Tahrir Square that helped toppled Hosni Mubarak as president, news reports said, around 2,000 people camped out at the major road junction in the city center demanding a change in the government of this strategically placed Persian Gulf kingdom that is home to the United States Navy's 5th Fleet. Hundreds more joined a procession to mourn one of the two protesters slain in confrontations with the authorities since Monday.

The police massed near Pearl Square but did not intervene, apparently anxious to avoid further violence.
[...]
A spokeswoman for the United States military in Bahrain said the unrest has not affected its base nor any of its roughly 6,100 military and civilian personnel stationed there. "The U.S. is not being targeted at all in any of these protests; this is strictly a Bahrain issue," said the spokeswoman, Jennifer Stride, in a telephone interview, the sound of Al Jazeera English audible in background.

It is far too soon to tell where Bahrain's popular political uprising will go. The demands are economic - people want jobs - as well as political, in that most would like to see the nation transformed from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional one. But the events here, inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, have altered the dynamics in a nation where political expression has long been tamed by harsh police tactics and prison terms.
[...]

3) U.S. Follows Two Paths on Unrest in Iran and Bahrain
Mark Landler and David E. Sanger, New York Times, February 15, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/world/middleeast/16diplomacy.html

Washington - The Obama administration has responded quite differently to two embattled governments that have beaten protesters and blocked the Internet in recent days to fend off the kind of popular revolt that brought down Egypt's government.

With Iran - a country under sanctions pursuing a nuclear program that has put it at odds with the West - the administration has all but encouraged protesters to take to the streets. With Bahrain, a strategically important ally across the Persian Gulf from Iran, it has urged its king to address the grievances of his people.

Those two approaches were on vivid display at a news conference on Tuesday.

President Obama accused Iran's leaders of hypocrisy for first encouraging the protests in Egypt, which they described as a continuation of Iran's own revolution, and then cracking down on Iranians who used the pretext to come out on the streets. He then urged protesters to muster "the courage to be able to express their yearning for greater freedoms and a more representative government."

But speaking to other restive countries, including Bahrain, Mr. Obama directed his advice to governments, not protesters, illustrating just how tricky diplomacy in the region has become. He said his administration, in talking to Arab allies, was sending the message that "you have a young, vibrant generation within the Middle East that is looking for greater opportunity; and that if you are governing these countries, you've got to get out ahead of change. You can't be behind the curve."

Mr. Obama's words on Iran, on the other hand, were among the strongest he has ever voiced in encouraging a street revolt, something his administration initially shied away from doing in June 2009, after a disputed presidential election provoked an uprising that was crushed by the government. Later, the administration embraced the protests, but by then the "Green Movement" in Iran had been crushed.

But now, administration officials see an opportunity to expand the fissures in Iranian society and make life more difficult for the mullahs. "This isn't a regime-change strategy," a senior administration official insisted in recent days. "But it's fair to say that it's exploiting fractures that are already there."

Dealing with other countries in the region is more complicated, however, particularly if they are strategic allies - which was true of Egypt and which prompted criticism that the White House was initially reluctant to put more pressure on such a crucial partner. The same complexities apply to Bahrain, an island state that is home to the United States Navy's Fifth Fleet.

Two protesters have been killed in Bahrain. The authorities also blocked a video channel that was carrying images uploaded by demonstrators in Pearl Square, a traffic circle the protesters have dubbed Bahrain's Tahrir Square.

But on Tuesday, Mr. Obama did not mention the violence in Bahrain and chose to draw his distinction between Egypt's successful uprising and the 2009 crackdown in Iran.
[...]
The official said the administration deplored violence anywhere it occurred, and late on Tuesday the State Department issued a statement saying it was "very concerned" about the two deaths in Bahrain. But the official noted that Bahrain's monarch, King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa, had responded to the deaths by calling on Tuesday for an investigation and promising to continue a process of political reforms.

King Hamad has been a stalwart American ally in isolating Iran; in fact, in documents released by WikiLeaks, he was quoted by American diplomats as urging the United States to attack Iran's nuclear facilities.
[...]

4) Police Try to End Clashes in Yemen
Laura Kasinof and J. David Goodman, New York Times, February 16, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/17/world/middleeast/17yemen.html

Sana, Yemen - Large numbers of police officers took up positions around the capital here on Wednesday in an attempt to end six days of running street battles between small groups of pro- and antigovernment protesters. Students again organized protests at the capital's central university calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
[...]
Several hundred students marched against the Yemeni leader through the streets from Sana University, the gathering point for many young protesters who have sought to emulate the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. The police moved to block students from demonstrating near the university, Reuters reported, but the demonstrators broke free. There was no indication of violence against them.

In the southwestern city of Taiz, thousands of students who have occupied the streets in overnight protests that began on Friday vowed to remain there until Mr. Saleh stepped down. The police have arrested more than 100 demonstrators and around 30 have been injured in skirmishes with pro-government groups who have periodically set upon the antigovernment encampment wielding sticks and hurling stones.

There were also fresh protests by southern secessionists in Aden, the port city east of Taiz, where demonstrations have been notably more violent. One protester, about 20 years old, was said to have been shot to death in battles with the police on Wednesday, according to reports from the city, as hundreds took to the streets in several neighborhoods.

Though Yemen's southern secessionists have also sought inspiration from a regional wave of protests, their demand for independence is longstanding and their goals differ from those of the students protesting against Mr. Saleh in Sana and other areas, including Taiz, which is not part of the area that secessionists have claimed.

Since Sunday, when police officers in Sana attacked more than 1,000 young protesters with batons and stun guns, the police have mostly refrained from attacking them, instead stepping in to break up skirmishes between rival groups.

Despite the increased police presence on Wednesday, the two groups clashed at the university and there were reports of several injuries as government supporters attacked students with batons. Reuters reported that the police had fired shots in the air to separate the groups, and that some of those protesting in favor of the government were picked up by luxury cars and sped away.

Several foreign journalists were singled out and set upon by pro-government groups, Reuters reported. Since the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, security forces have made scattered efforts to prevent foreign journalists from covering the spread of demonstrations, which have taken on a younger and more spontaneous cast in recent days.
[...]

5) Anti-government protests, clashes spread to Libya
Maggie Michael, Associated Press, Wednesday, February 16, 2011; 3:04 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/16/AR2011021600433.html

Cairo - Egypt-inspired unrest spread against Libya's longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi on Wednesday, with riot police clashing with protesters in the second-largest city of Benghazi and marchers setting fire to security headquarters and police stations in two other cities, witnesses said.

Gadhafi's government sought to allay further unrest by proposing the doubling of government employees' salaries and releasing 110 suspected Islamic militants who oppose him - tactics similar to those adopted by other Arab regimes in the recent wave of protests.

Activists using Facebook and Twitter have called for nationwide demonstrations on Thursday to demand the ouster of Gadhafi, the establishment of a constitution and comprehensive political and economic reforms. Gadhafi came to power in 1969 through a military coup and has ruled the country without an elected parliament or constitution.

The Benghazi protest began Tuesday, triggered by the arrest of an activist but quickly took on an anti-government tone, according to witnesses and other activists. The protest was relatively small, but it signaled that anti-government activists have been emboldened by uprisings elsewhere.

It started at the local security headquarters after troops raided the home of rights advocate Fathi Tarbel and took him away, according to Switzerland-based activist Fathi al-Warfali.

Tarbel was released after meeting with Libya's top security official Abdullah al-Sanousi, but the protesters proceeded to march through the coastal city to the main downtown plaza, al-Warfali said.

Protests renewed on Wednesday as the families of four other activists still in custody, including author Idris al-Mesmari, marched on security headquarters to demand their release, al-Warfali said, citing witnesses.

New York-based Human Rights Watch said a total of nine activists have been arrested in Tripoli and Benghazi in an effort to prevent people from joining the rallies called for Thursday.
[...]
In the southern city of Zentan, 75 miles (120 kilometers) south of Tripoli, hundreds of people marched through the streets and set fire to security headquarters and a police station, then set up tents in the heart of the town while chanting, "The people want the ouster of the regime," witnesses told al-Warfali.
[...]
In Beyida, to the east of Benghazi, hundreds of protesters torched police stations while chanting, "people want the ouster of the regime," according to Rabie al-Messrati, a 25-year-old protester. Al-Messrati said he was arrested five days ago after spreading the call for the Feb. 17 protest. He said he was released Tuesday and took part in Wednesday's demonstrations. "All the people of Beyida are out in the streets," he said.

Another protester, Ahmed al-Husseini, said that he saw snipers on the roof of the security headquarters opening fire on protesters, wounding at least eight people. "This is my first time to stand up against injustice and oppression," he said. "For 42 years I have not been able to speak up."
[...]
Al-Warfali, the Switzerland-based activist, said the ultimate goal was to oust the Gadhafi regime. "These are old calls by the Libyan opposition in exile, but Egypt and Tunisia have given us new momentum. They brought down the barrier of fear," he said.

Egypt
6) Military moves quickly to bring elections to Egypt
Craig Whitlock and Kathy Lally, Washington Post, Wednesday, February 16, 2011; 12:00 AM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/15/AR2011021505242.html

Cairo - Egypt geared up Tuesday for a breakneck rush to democracy as its military rulers vowed to hand authority to an elected civilian government in six months and ordered legal experts to draft a revised constitution in 10 days.

The announcements are the latest signal that Egypt's generals are serious in their pledges to quickly transform the country and relinquish the power they seized when President Hosni Mubarak resigned last week after 18 days of street protests.
[...]
In announcing the transition plan, Egypt's Supreme Military Council opened the door to political participation by the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist movement that has long stirred unease in Washington because of its religious ideology.

The generals appointed a Brotherhood member to a panel of legal experts charged with rewriting the constitution. Meanwhile, the once-banned movement said it would form a political party for the first time to compete in legislative elections.

Mubarak regarded the Brotherhood as an enemy of the state and prohibited it from organizing a formal political wing during his nearly 30 years in power.

Although Egypt's military leadership has long treated the Brotherhood warily and considered it a threat to the secular establishment, the generals have indicated that they are coming to terms with the idea of the movement becoming active in politics.

The Brotherhood says it is committed to nonviolence and democratic principles, but many critics contend that the group's real intention is to work gradually to establish a government based on religious law. Officially, the U.S. government has long shunned the Brotherhood for that reason, although American officials have engaged in back-channel talks with Egyptian members of the movement over the years.

Cognizant of doubts about its intentions, the Brotherhood has pledged not to field a candidate in Egypt's next presidential election, saying it does not want to give the impression that it is seeking control of the country.

It is not clear precisely when that election will be held. The Supreme Military Council's statement Tuesday said it intends to hand over power within six months "to a civilian authority and a president elected in a peaceful and free manner that expresses the views of the people." The council, which is governing Egypt under martial law, did not specify a calendar for the elections.

Still, the Tuesday announcement marks the most specific indication yet of the military's intentions. Previously, the generals had said that they wanted to step aside in six months but had held out the possibility of ruling until elections could be staged at an indefinite date in the future.

In Washington, President Obama said he was pleased with the Egyptian military's commitments. "So far, at least, we're seeing the right signals coming out of Egypt," he said at a news conference. "Egypt's going to require help in building democratic institutions, for strengthening an economy that's taken a hit," he said.

Democracy advocates in Egypt, too, welcomed the announcements, as well as the news that the Brotherhood would not be excluded from the political process. "For a long time, we have wanted this movement to be out in public for everyone to see who they are, how they work, in what ways they are structured," said Hafez Abu Seada, secretary general of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights. "How can you know if they are a secret organization?" he asked.

The constitutional review panel is led by Tarek al-Bishry, a retired judge. All eight members of the panel are considered top legal scholars, including Sobhi Saleh, the member affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, said Hossam Bahgat, executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. "And it's very important that the appointments were made not for political representation but as legal experts," he said.
[...]

7) Coalition calls for action on Egyptian illicit wealth
UNCAC Coalition, 10 February 2011
http://www.uncaccoalition.org/en/home/134-coalition-calls-for-action-on-stolen-assets-in-egypt.html

[the UNCAC Coalition is a group of civil society organizations promoting the implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption.]

The UNCAC Coaliton, including the Afro-Egyptian Human Rights Organisation and NADAFA-Egyptians against corruption, have called for urgent action on wealth illicitly transferred from Egypt.


The Coalition is deeply concerned about public wealth illicitly transferred out of Egypt. A report by Global Financial Integrity released in January 2011 finds that Egypt is losing more than US$6 billion per year - US$57.2 billion in total from 2000 to 2008 - to illicit financial activities and official government corruption.

Earlier this week, allegations were published about the wealth of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family. This wealth should be thoroughly investigated, and if illicitly transferred should be immediately frozen and then repatriated
The repatriation of assets illicitly transferred from Egypt could provide much needed funds for development in a country where 40 per cent of the population lives on less than US$2 a day.

The return of stolen assets is a fundamental principle of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, which provides that States Parties shall afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and assistance in this regard.

The UNCAC Coalition urges the Egyptian government to follow the Tunisian example and to take all necessary measures to enforce their right to restitution. The Coalition further encourages States where stolen assets are reported to be hidden to freeze any assets owned or controlled by persons deemed to be responsible for the misappropriation of state funds in Egypt and individuals and entities associated with them.

In full accordance with their obligations under the UNCAC, Governments should also ensure that banks apply "enhanced due diligence" procedures with respect to transactions involving the above-mentioned Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs).

Pakistan
8) In Pakistan, rumbles of a revolution over Raymond Davis
If the U.S. Embassy employee accused of murder in the deaths of two Pakistani men is granted diplomatic immunity, Pakistan may explode like Egypt and Tunisia, men on the street say.
Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times, February 16, 2011
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-detainee-20110216,0,5115384.story

Lahore, Pakistan - Inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, Pakistani college student Gulraiz Iqbal is itching for a reason to take his disdain for President Asif Ali Zardari's government to the streets.

If Pakistani authorities grant diplomatic immunity and release Raymond Davis, the U.S. Embassy employee accused of murder in the deaths of two Pakistani men in Lahore, Iqbal will have the cause he craves.

"We would organize students in Lahore and across the country, and create a movement that would turn into a revolution," said Iqbal, 22, a small, wiry man who is a leader of the Lahore student wing of an opposition party, Movement for Justice. "We're inspired by the examples of Tunisia and Egypt because their leaders were agents for the U.S. We have the same situation here."

Iqbal's fist-shaking can't be brushed aside, if only because his outrage over the Davis case is shared by much of the rest of the country. In a nation fractured along ethnic, sectarian and political fault lines, the case has congealed Pakistani society into a single, cohesive front against what many perceive to be an ideal illustration of American recklessness.

On Jan. 27, Davis, 36, fatally shot two men who he said were trying to rob him at gunpoint. Davis was arrested and told officials he acted in self-defense. But few in Pakistan believe his version of events and many want him tried on murder charges, or worse.

Photos of protesters hoisting banners that read "Hang Raymond Davis!" appear every few days in Pakistani newspapers. Islamist parties capable of mobilizing thousands of demonstrators have vowed to rally against the government if Davis is freed.

The tumult sweeping through the Middle East could give demonstrators in Pakistan momentum that Zardari and his government would struggle to withstand, analysts say.

Zardari's government has reeled from one crisis to the next since the ouster of military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2008. The Supreme Court has repeatedly sought Zardari's prosecution on corruption charges leveled in Switzerland. Many Pakistanis harshly criticized his administration for failing to provide relief quickly enough to millions left homeless by last summer's epic floods. The country's economy continues to teeter on the brink of collapse.

If Davis is released without a trial, experts say, it could be the last straw. The U.S. is expected to argue its case for Davis' immunity and release at a hearing Thursday at the Lahore High Court. "The problem is that the government is so weak," says Talat Masood, a security analyst and retired Pakistani general. "The government thinks that because of what's happening in Egypt, the people need only an excuse, and this might be the one."

As a result, the government has been reluctant to make a decision regarding diplomatic immunity for Davis.

Washington wants Islamabad to declare that Davis is shielded from prosecution by immunity granted by the Vienna Convention to all diplomats and embassy "technical and administrative staff." U.S. officials have described Davis, a former U.S. Special Forces soldier, as an official with the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, but they have declined to state what his job is.

Washington remains mindful of Pakistan's important role in an eventual resolution of the war in Afghanistan and in maintaining pressure on Al Qaeda and Taliban strongholds in the country's volatile northwest. Pakistan desperately needs the steady stream of financial aid that the U.S. provides, but it cannot afford to allow the Davis affair to become a trigger for national unrest. "The question is, when both countries have so much to lose, which one will stand down?" said Zafar Hilaly, a former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S.
[...]
Punjab provincial police officials have called the shooting a "clear-cut case of murder." According to the police, Davis says he had stopped his car at a red light when two men pulled up on a motorcycle. When one of the men pulled out a pistol and aimed it at the American, he fired at them through the windshield in self-defense, Davis told police.

Witnesses say Davis then got out of his car and snapped photos of the men before driving away. He was pulled over by police minutes later and arrested.

Police continue to seek the driver of an SUV from the U.S. Consulate in Lahore, who rushed to the scene of the shooting after Davis called him. Police say that driver drove the wrong way down a Lahore street and struck and killed another person on a motorcycle. Pakistani police say the Lahore consulate has refused to turn over the driver to authorities.

The men on the motorcycle, Faizan Haider and Faheem Shamshad, were carrying stolen cellphones and handguns, police said. But Lahore Police Chief Aslam Tareen says Davis' claim of self-defense doesn't hold up because Haider was shot in the back as he tried to flee.
[...]
Along the businesses lining the intersection where the shooting occurred, Pakistanis are bracing for Davis' release and for the eruption of anger expected to spill out into the streets afterward. "I believe Davis will be released, because it's impossible for Pakistan to withstand pressure from the U.S.," said Irfan Hayat, whose rental car office is just yards from the site of the shooting. "But when that happens, the reaction will be huge. Every Pakistani will come into the streets."

In the working class Lahore neighborhood where Faizan Haider lived, banners draped over dangling power lines proclaim, "Hang the American murderer!" and "Is Pakistani blood so cheap?" In Haider's house, relatives say they are preparing to mount a protest that Islamabad cannot ignore. "The nation is with us in this cause," said Mukhtar Ahmed, 50, Haider's cousin. "People are saying it will be like Egypt, but it will be beyond that. Even if the government isn't with us, the people are."

Iraq
9) Citing Its Food Needs, Iraq Delays Buying Fighter Jets
Rebecca Santana, Associated Press, Monday, February 14, 2011; 12:21 PM
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/14/AR2011021401566.html

Baghdad - Iraq is delaying the purchase of 18 American fighter jets over budget problems and has decided to funnel the money into food for the poor instead, said the Iraqi government spokesman Monday.

Iraq, like many Middle Eastern countries in the wake of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, is under pressure to demonstrate its commitment to helping its own people. But delaying the purchase also leaves Iraq, which relies on departing American forces to protect its skies, vulnerable.

Ali al-Dabbagh told The Associated Press that the Iraqi government would postpone the expected purchase of the F-16 fighter jets and would instead use the money to beef up food rations. The Iraqi government gives food rations to many of its neediest citizens, who complain the rations have gotten smaller.

Al-Dabbagh said an initial partial payment of about $1 billion was to be spent this year on the fighter jets, but did not have an exact figure on the total cost of the deal. "We need the money badly this year ... to finance other important items," he said. "We thought that we cannot afford to buy the F-16s."
[...]

Ecuador
10) Ecuadoreans Plan to Pursue Chevron in Other Countries
Simon Romero and Clifford Krauss, New York Times, February 15, 2011
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/16/world/americas/16ecuador.html

Caracas, Venezuela - Armed with a $9 billion ruling against Chevron in Ecuador but little chance of collecting it there, representatives for Ecuadorean villagers said Tuesday that they were looking at waging legal battles against the company in more than a dozen countries where it operates, hoping to force Chevron to pay.
[...]
Chevron has much larger operations elsewhere in Latin America, and the plaintiffs' strategy of pursuing the company across the region could open a contentious new phase in the case - one that would test Ecuador's political ties with its neighbors and involve some of Washington's most prominent lobbyists and lawyers.

Advisers to the plaintiffs said Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela would be obvious candidates to pursue Chevron assets, but they acknowledged it would not be easy. Venezuela, for instance, is a close Ecuadorean ally and its president, Hugo Chávez, is a frequent critic of the United States. But Chevron has extensive operations in Venezuela and enjoys warmer ties with Mr. Chávez's government than just about any other American company.

The plaintiffs also face an uphill struggle collecting damages in the United States, at least immediately, given that a judge in New York this month temporarily prevented enforcement of the Ecuador awards. Still, legal advisers said they were prepared to try to collect damages in the United States as well.

A confidential memo prepared by the Washington law firm Patton Boggs recently released under court order laid out the plaintiffs' strategy, which foresees using a European industrial espionage firm to investigate Chevron's assets around the world.
[...]
In the memo, lawyers also identified the Philippines, Singapore, Australia, Angola, Canada and several other countries where Chevron has significant assets as potential targets.
[...]
Advisers to the villagers and forest tribes said they hoped to extract Chevron money from many countries until they reach the final judgment total.

The ruling's impact is already being felt in Ecuador and beyond as a cautionary tale of the environmental and legal aftermath of oil exploration. Alberto Acosta, a former oil minister in Ecuador, called the ruling "a historical precedent." It is "a reminder that we have to defend ourselves from the irresponsible activity of extraction companies, both oil and mining," Mr. Acosta said.

-

Just Foreign Policy is a membership organization devoted to reforming US foreign policy so it reflects the values and interests of the majority of Americans. The archive of the Just Foreign Policy News is here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/blog/dailynews


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