Just Foreign Policy News
June 7, 2011
I) Actions and Featured Articles
U.S. Boat to Gaza is a Quarter Jewish – "Not Too Shabby!"
The New York Times reports that a quarter of the passengers on the upcoming U.S. Boat to Gaza will be Jewish. Maybe it means that the Israeli authorities will have some compunction about shooting up our boat. Maybe it means an open contest of a construction of Jewish identity based on supporting the obstruction of Palestinian freedom, with a Jewish counter-narrative of universal human liberation.
Democracy Now – Trapped in Gaza: Rafah Crossing Closed to Palestinians Soon After Egyptian Pledge to Reopen It
Egypt’s transition government had unsealed the Rafah border after years of closure under Mubarak. But less than a week later, Egypt imposed a cap of 400 people per day, turning back busloads of people that had been cleared for passage.
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Political Map of Latin America Following the Election in Peru
From Gerardo Esquivel’s blog.
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1) Republican Rep. Walter Jones is becoming less of an outlier among Republicans in his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, the New York Times reports. Last month, an amendment intended to accelerate the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan sponsored by Reps. Jones and McGovern, nearly passed – in part because 26 Republicans broke with their leadership to support it, triple the number who voted for a similar measure last year. Their ranks included at least three freshmen elected with Tea Party support. Polls suggest Republican voters are moving in Rep. Jones’ direction. In a New York Times/CBS News poll last month, 43 percent of Republicans said the US should reduce troop strength in Afghanistan, double the number who said that in November 2009.
2) 73% of voters say the US should withdraw a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer, the Washington Post reports. The number is unchanged since March.
3) Jewish-American actor Leonard Nimoy, noted for his portrayal of Mr. Spock in Star Trek, has urged Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace agreement based on the two-state solution, Haaretz reports. Referring to a peace push by a group of several leading former Israeli security establishment officials, Nimoy describes the plan as including "a Palestinian state alongside Israel with agreed-upon land swaps." "The Palestinian-populated areas of Jerusalem would become the capital of Palestine; the Jewish-populated areas the capital of Israel," Nimoy said.
4) The victory of left-populist candidate Ollanta Humala in Peru’s election is a big deal, writes Mark Weisbrot in the Guardian. It solidifies a trend of greater South American independence from Washington. Peruvian voters went against the vast majority of the country’s rich and elite, including the most influential of that group – the major media. Although Peru has enjoyed strong economic growth, it lacked the government social initiatives of Bolivia, Ecuador, Veneuzela, and Brazil, resulting in a lack of progress in reducing poverty.
5) When Secretary of Defense Gates visited Afghanistan, soldiers and Marines repeatedly asked him if the death of bin Laden meant they could go home, the Los Angeles Times reports.
6) The longer Libya’s military conflict persists, the more it threatens civilians, fuels a large-scale refugee crisis, raises the risk of infiltration by al-Qaeda, and destabilizes Libya’s neighbors, the International Crisis Group says in a new report. But the rebel leadership and their NATO supporters appear to be uninterested in resolving the conflict through negotiation. To insist, as they have done, on Qaddafi’s departure as a precondition for any political initiative is to prolong the military conflict and deepen the crisis. Instead, the priority should be to secure an immediate ceasefire and negotiations on a transition to a post-Qaddafi political order, the ICG says.
A political breakthrough is by far the best way out of the costly situation created by the military impasse, the ICG says. But no breakthrough can happen without the leadership of the revolt and NATO rethinking their current stance.
7) Human Rights Watch says Libya’s rebels have arbitrarily detained dozens of civilians suspected of supporting Gadhafi and at least one has died after apparently being tortured while in custody, AP reports.
9) The US military suffered the deadliest attack against its forces in Iraq in more than two years Monday when rockets slammed into a joint U.S.-Iraqi base in Baghdad, killing five U.S. troops, the Washington Post reports.
In February, after several days of demonstrations that killed nearly two dozen people across Iraq, Maliki asked protesters to give him 100 days to address their concerns about corruption, unemployment and shoddy government services. With his grace period due to expire Tuesday, U.S. and Iraqi officials are increasingly concerned about the potential for more unrest.
With growing skepticism about a continued U.S. presence, some Iraqi political leaders say they hope the discussion in Baghdad will turn toward how Iraq will defend itself in absence of U.S. troops. But more than six months after Iraq’s unity government was formed, Maliki and Parliament remain deadlocked over appointments to head the Defense, Interior and Intelligence ministries.
10) Bolivia is pushing for a tax on international financial transactions to help fund $100 billion of climate change aid that developed countries have pledged to provide by 2020, Bloomberg reports. Under the plan, countries could opt to charge a 0.01 percent tax on any money coming in from abroad for any transaction, Bolivia’s lead climate negotiator said. The money would then be paid into a fund that can disburse aid to any country.
The tax is needed to ensure aid pledges are met with new money, said Pablo Solon, noting an earlier promise by developed countries to pay $30 billion in climate change aid over the three years 2010 through 2012. "The famous $30 billion didn’t come to developing countries, not as new aid," Solon said. A UN panel has made a similar proposal, saying it could generate $27 billion a year.
1) Antiwar Republican Is No Longer Party’s Pariah
James Dao, New York Times, June 6, 2011
Greenville, N.C. – On matters like abortion, military spending and religion, Representative Walter B. Jones seems thoroughly in tune with this conservative, staunchly Republican district in eastern North Carolina, home to the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune and thousands of military retirees.
On the issue of war, however, Mr. Jones has defied typecasting. An early critic of the American invasion of Iraq, he has been ostracized by the Republican leadership in Congress. And now he is emerging as a leading advocate for swiftly withdrawing American forces from Afghanistan, a position that has made him, of all things, a liberal hero. "When you talk about war, political parties don’t matter," he said in an interview.
But Mr. Jones may no longer be the outlier he was six years ago. Late last month, an amendment intended to accelerate the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan sponsored by Mr. Jones and Representative Jim McGovern, Democrat of Massachusetts, nearly passed – in part because 26 Republicans broke with their leadership to support it, triple the number who voted for a similar measure last year. Their ranks included at least three freshmen elected with Tea Party support.
Some foreign policy analysts now see Mr. Jones, 68; Representative Ron Paul, Republican of Texas; and a small coterie of Tea Party stalwarts as the leading edge of a conservative movement to rein in American military power – a break from the muscular foreign policy of President George W. Bush.
"They reflect a growing discontent within the Republican Party about the wars and a growing feeling that they don’t want to spend money on them anymore," said John Isaacs, executive director of the Council for a Livable World, an advocacy group that promotes arms control. "They are military noninterventionists."
Mr. Jones agreed, saying: "We can’t police the world anymore. We’re not the world power. It’s China. Our economy is in chaos."
Conversations with voters in Mr. Jones’s district, which embraces much of North Carolina’s Atlantic coastline, suggest that many who were baffled or infuriated by his opposition to the Iraq war in 2005 are liking his views on Afghanistan in 2011.
At a Memorial Day event in Beaufort on May 28, August Braddy, 68, declared that Mr. Jones – who over eight terms has voted with the American Conservative Union more than 80 percent of the time – was too liberal. But on Afghanistan, Mr. Braddy, who was wearing a red Tea Party shirt, said he thought Mr. Jones was right. "We’re broke; we can’t afford it," he said. "We did what we went there to do: get Bin Laden."
Polls suggest that Republican voters are moving in Mr. Jones’s direction. In a New York Times/CBS News poll last month, 43 percent of Republicans said the United States should reduce troop strength in Afghanistan, double the number who said that in November 2009. Some prominent Republicans, including Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi and Grover Norquist, the antitax champion, have also begun questioning the American mission in Afghanistan.
Still, the vast majority of Republicans in Congress remain supportive of the war. On Mr. Jones’s amendment, 207 Republicans voted no, while 178 Democrats voted in favor. But the amendment failed by just 11 votes, and Mr. Jones believes that by fall, it will pass.
For many of the Republicans who are questioning the war, cost is clearly the driving factor. Mr. Jones makes that case in his district, telling voters that spending $8 billion a month to prop up what he calls a corrupt government is a waste of money.
"If we’re going to cut programs for children who need milk in the morning, if we’re going to cut programs for seniors who need a sandwich at lunch, if we’re going to cut veterans benefits, then, for God’s sake, let’s bring back our troops from Afghanistan," he said in Beaufort, to loud applause.
But Mr. Jones’s wrenching odyssey from disciple of Speaker Newt Gingrich to war opponent was far more about personal guilt than budget deficits.
The son of a Democratic congressman, Mr. Jones was elected in the Republican tide of 1994 with the support of a conservative icon, Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina. He came to be a steadfast supporter of Mr. Gingrich’s small-government agenda.
In 2002, Mr. Jones voted for the resolution authorizing the invasion of Iraq. He also persuaded House cafeterias to rename their French fries "freedom fries," tweaking the French government for opposing the invasion.
But Mr. Jones now says he had misgivings about the vote almost immediately. After he attended his first funeral at Camp Lejeune for a Marine killed just weeks into the invasion, those misgivings grew into pangs of doubt.
He started writing letters to the relatives of every American killed in Iraq or Afghanistan. (He has signed more than 10,370 at last count.) And he began consulting with critics of the invasion, including Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a retired Marine.
"I came to believe we were misled, we were lied to," Mr. Jones said recently. "The people around Bush manipulated the intelligence."
In June 2005, he stunned his party establishment by appearing at a news conference with Mr. Paul and Representative Dennis Kucinich, a liberal Ohio Democrat, to call on Mr. Bush to start reducing troop levels in Iraq.
Mr. Jones’s offices were immediately flooded with calls from angry constituents who branded him a traitor and demanded his resignation. He made the cover of Mother Jones magazine in 2006 and drew a tough primary challenge in 2008 from an opponent who called him "a poster boy for the left." Mr. Jones won handily.
A convert to Roman Catholicism, Mr. Jones says he has not missed a Sunday Mass in nearly 40 years. His faith, he says, caused him to question the war. "I did not vote my conscience and I sent kids to die, and they didn’t have to go," he said. "I thank God that he made me feel guilty about my vote on Iraq."
Afghanistan is different from Iraq, he says, because he believes that the latter invasion was justified. But he has come to believe that the strategy of trying to strengthen the government of President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and build that country’s security forces is doomed.
In Beaufort, about 50 miles from Camp Lejeune, several former Marines at the Memorial Day event agreed. "We’re losing a lot of people there and not seeing anything in return," said Gregory Barnett, who spent 22 years in the Marine Corps. "Now that we’ve gotten Bin Laden, we’ve been there long enough."
2) Washington Post-ABC News Poll
[…] 24. (HALF SAMPLE) Do you think the United States should or should not withdraw a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer?
Should Should not No opinion
6/5/11 73 23 4
3/13/11 73 21 5
25. (HALF SAMPLE) Do you think the United States will or will not withdraw a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer?
Will Will not No opinion
6/5/11 43 50 7
3/13/11 39 53 8
3) It’s only logical: ‘Mr. Spock’ supports two-state solution for Mideast peace
In open letter published by left-wing NGO, Jewish-American actor and Star Trek icon Leonard Nimoy voices his support for a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Haaretz, 04:36 07.06.11
Jewish-American actor Leonard Nimoy, noted for his portrayal of Mr. Spock in the TV classic Star Trek, has urged Israelis and Palestinians to reach a peace agreement based on the two-state solution, warning Americans against the continued and direct effect recent Mideast turmoil could have on their daily lives.
In an open letter published by U.S. left-leaning NGO Americans for Peace Now, Nimoy reaches out to prospective APN donors, assuring them that while some may see "the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians continue apparently without an end in sight," there was, in fact, "an end in sight."
"It’s known as the two-state solution–a secure, democratic Israel as the Jewish State alongside an independent Palestinian state," the noted American actor said, adding that even Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he calls "nationalistic," has come "to see this as the shape of the future."
In his support of the two-state solution, Nimoy also addresses Israel’s refusal to negotiate with a Palestinian unity cabinet that would include Hamas, saying: "We cannot know yet what this unification of Hamas with Fatah means and we have to wait and see what emerges."
"Regardless, the principle of establishing two independent states, one Jewish and the other Palestinian, is still critical in this region for both Israel and the Palestinian people. That is the goal, to support the rational and moderate course," he added.
Referring to a peace push by a group of several leading former Israeli security establishment officials, Nimoy describes the plan as including "a Palestinian state alongside Israel with agreed-upon land swaps."
"The Palestinian-populated areas of Jerusalem would become the capital of Palestine; the Jewish-populated areas the capital of Israel," the Jewish-American actor added.
4) Humala’s Win in Peru Consolidates Hemispheric Gains for Democracy, Independence, Progress
Mark Weisbrot, Guardian, Monday 6 June 2011 23.00 BST
The victory of left-populist candidate Ollanta Humala in Peru’s election is a "big fucking deal", as Vice President Joe Biden famously whispered to Obama on national TV in another context. With respect to US influence in [South America], this knocks out one of only two allies that Washington could count on, leaving only the rightwing government of Chile. Left governments that are more independent of the United States than Europe is now run Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Peru. And Colombia under President Manuel Santos is now siding with these governments more than with the United States.
This means that regional political and economic integration will proceed more smoothly, although it is still a long-term project. On 5 July, for example, heads of state from the whole hemisphere will meet in Caracas, Venezuela, to proceed with the formation of Celac (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States). This is a regional organisation that includes all countries except the United States and Canada, and which – no matter what anyone says for diplomatic purposes – is intended to displace the Organisation of American States. The new organisation is a response to the abuse of the OAS by the United States (which controls most of the bureaucracy) for anti-democratic purposes, most recently in the cases of Honduras and Haiti.
These institutional changes, including the vastly expanded role of Unasur (Union of South American Nations) are changing the norms and customs of diplomatic relations in the hemisphere. The Obama administration, which has continued the policies of "containment" and "rollback" of its predecessor, has been slow to accept the new reality. As a result, it does not have ambassadors in Bolivia, Venezuela and Ecuador.
The election is also important for Peru, for a number of reasons. As conservative Peruvian Nobel literature laureate and politician Mario Vargas Llosa said, Humala’s win has "saved democracy". Former president Alejandro Toledo said, "The people have won, democracy has won, the memory of the people won. The people have opted for economic growth with social inclusion." Indeed, it would have sent a terrible message to Peruvians, and the world, if the daughter of someone who is in jail for multiple political murders were elected president. Although Keiko Fujimori made some efforts to distance herself from his crimes, she was still running on his name and legacy, and with the help of his advisers.
The election is interesting for other reasons. First, it is another example of the voters going against the vast majority of the country’s rich and elite, including the most influential of that group – the major media. Leftists may criticise Humala for some of the promises that he made (such as no nationalisations) in order to get the support of some political actors, but it remains clear that he was not the candidate of Peru’s rich and powerful. This is one of the great and almost unprecedented features of democracy in South America, which has recurred repeatedly in recent years – that those who control most of the income, resources and means of communication, in a country can be defeated in an election. We are still a long way from any such result in our own presidential elections in the United States.
It is also interesting that Peru’s traditional elite was defeated – in both the first and second rounds of the election – despite record economic growth over the last decade. GDP growth has averaged 5.7% annually since 2000, about the highest in the region. To give credit where credit is due, these governments (of Alejandro Toledo and Alan Garcia) got their most important macroeconomic policies – fiscal, monetary, and exchange rate – basically right, which has not been the norm in the neoliberal era. They also responded to the world recession with counter-cyclical policies and minimised the economic damage.
As would be expected from the economy’s rate of growth, there were some improvements in peoples’ lives, including for many poor people: the official poverty rate declined from 55% in 2001 to 35% in 2009. Life expectancy rose 70.5 to 73.5 years, and infant mortality fell from 35.1 to 19.4 per thousand (from 2000-2009).
By 2009, however, Peru still had 62% of its population living on less than $3 a day, and the percentage is certainly about the same today – Peru is a majority-poor country. With vast regional, urban-rural, ethnic variation and overall income and wealth disparities (the poverty rate is 60% in rural versus 21% in urban areas), most people understandably felt cheated. Most importantly, the governments of Garcia and Toledo did not deliver on the kinds of big initiatives that the left governments in the region delivered. The record is dramatically contrasting.
Bolivia lowered the retirement age from 65 to 58, and greatly expanded the public pension system, nationalised its hyrdocarbons industry and increased social spending. Ecuador expanded social spending, especially on healthcare. Venezuela provided free healthcare to its citizens and tripled real social spending per capita, greatly expanding education, including free university education. Brazil had a 60% real increase in the minimum wage (during President Lula’s eight years) and some modest increases in anti-poverty spending. Peru’s last two governments did not do these kinds of things.
The lesson is clear: those political parties and governments that want to make sure they are re-elected have to promise – and deliver – real economic and social change. South America’s left governments of the recent past have helped to make this promise a part of the democratic process, and that influence is likely to affect the region for many years to come.
5) Restive Troops Quiz Gates On Exit
Touring bases as he prepares to retire, the Pentagon chief is asked repeatedly by troops whether Osama bin Laden’s death means the U.S. can end the war in Afghanistan. Not yet, is his response.
David S. Cloud, Los Angeles Times, June 7, 2011
Forward Operating Base Shank – Over and over again, soldiers and Marines on the punishing front lines across Afghanistan had the same question for Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates: Does Osama bin Laden’s death mean the U.S. can finally wind down a nearly decade-long war?
Not yet, Gates replied.
The persistent question also is being asked increasingly in Washington, as debate intensifies over when and how to start bringing home the 100,000 U.S. troops deployed in a conflict that is increasingly unpopular in America.
Enlisted men and women in grueling war zones typically ask visiting brass about equipment and benefits, not strategy or policy. But Gates fielded inquiries about the future of America’s painful involvement in Afghanistan at four of his five stops in the south and east at far-flung Army fire bases and a dusty Marine camp on Sunday and Monday. The questions were polite, respectful and insistent.
"Sir, since the death of Osama bin Laden, has the military strategy changed at all?" a young female soldier in the 101st Airborne Division’s 4th Brigade asked Gates after he thanked several hundred soldiers at their headquarters in rugged southeast Paktika province, near the border with Pakistan.
Older veterans, especially those serving their second or third combat tours, also wonder how long they must stay now, after U.S. Navy SEALs killed the founder of Al Qaeda on May 2, said Sgt. Theodore Martell, an Army medic, at this remote helicopter base in rural Lowgar province.
6) Popular Protest in North Africa and the Middle East (V): Making Sense of Libya
International Crisis Group, 6 June 2011
The character of the Libyan crisis today arises from the complex but so far evidently indecisive impact of the UN-authorised military intervention, now formally led by NATO, in what had already become a civil war. NATO’s intervention saved the anti-Qaddafi side from immediate defeat but has not yet resolved the conflict in its favour. Although the declared rationale of this intervention was to protect civilians, civilians are figuring in large numbers as victims of the war, both as casualties and refugees, while the leading Western governments supporting NATO’s campaign make no secret of the fact that their goal is regime change. The country is de facto being partitioned, as divisions between the predominantly opposition-held east and the predominantly regime-controlled west harden into distinct political, social and economic spheres. As a result, it is virtually impossible for the pro-democracy current of urban public opinion in most of western Libya (and Tripoli in particular) to express itself and weigh in the political balance.
At the same time, the prolonged military campaign and attendant instability present strategic threats to Libya’s neighbours. Besides fuelling a large-scale refugee crisis, they are raising the risk of infiltration by al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, whose networks of activists are present in Algeria, Mali and Niger. All this, together with mounting bitterness on both sides, will constitute a heavy legacy for any post-Qaddafi government.
Thus the longer Libya’s military conflict persists, the more it risks undermining the anti-Qaddafi camp’s avowed objectives. Yet, to date, the latter’s leadership and their NATO supporters appear to be uninterested in resolving the conflict through negotiation. To insist, as they have done, on Qaddafi’s departure as a precondition for any political initiative is to prolong the military conflict and deepen the crisis. Instead, the priority should be to secure an immediate ceasefire and negotiations on a transition to a post-Qaddafi political order.
[…] The revolt and its subsequent military efforts have been comparatively unorganised affairs. While the Interim Transitional National Council (TNC) – the institution designed to govern opposition-controlled territory – has been making some progress in developing political and military structures in the east, it is most improbable that it has or can soon acquire the capacity to take on the business of governing the country as a whole. The assumption that time is on the opposition’s side and that the regime will soon run out of ammunition or fuel or money (or will be decapitated by a lucky bomb or overthrown by a palace coup) similarly substitutes wishful thinking for serious policymaking. Although such predictions might turn out to be true – and it is difficult to assess in the absence of reliable estimates of Qaddafi’s resources – time almost certainly is not on the Libyan people’s side.
Given its mounting political and human costs, assessments that simply sustaining the present military campaign or increasing pressure will force Qaddafi out soon enough reflect a refusal to reconsider current strategy and envisage alternatives other than a major military escalation. But even if, in the event of such an escalation, the regime should soon suffer total military defeat, it would be reckless to ignore the possibility that the outcome may be not a transition to democracy but rather a potentially prolonged vacuum that could have grave political and security implications for Libya’s neighbours as well as aggravate an already serious humanitarian crisis.
Casualties and destruction mount, the country’s division deepens, and the risk of infiltration by jihadi militants increases as the military confrontation draws out. Economic and humanitarian conditions in those parts of Libya still under regime control will worsen, and the part of the unwelcome and undeserved economic as well as political and security burden borne by Libya’s neighbours will grow. The prospect for Libya, but also North Africa as a whole, is increasingly ominous, unless some way can be found to induce the two sides in the armed conflict to negotiate a compromise allowing for an orderly transition to a post-Qaddafi, post-Jamahiriya state that has legitimacy in the eyes of the Libyan people.
A political breakthrough is by far the best way out of the costly situation created by the military impasse. This will require a ceasefire, the deployment of a peacekeeping force to monitor and guarantee this under a UN mandate and the immediate opening of serious negotiations between regime and opposition representatives to secure agreement on a peaceful transition to a new, more legitimate political order. Such a breakthrough almost certainly necessitates involvement by a third party or third parties accepted by both sides. A joint political initiative by the Arab League and the African Union – the former viewed more favourably by the opposition, the latter preferred by the regime – is one possibility to lead to such an agreement. They could build on ongoing efforts by the African Union and the UN Special Envoy, Abdul Ilah Khatib. But no breakthrough can happen without the leadership of the revolt and NATO rethinking their current stance.
Their repeatedly proclaimed demand that "Qaddafi must go" systematically confuses two quite different objectives. To insist that, ultimately, he can have no role in the post-Jamahiriya political order is one thing, and almost certainly reflects the opinion of a majority of Libyans as well as of the outside world. But to insist that he must go now, as the precondition for any negotiation, including that of a ceasefire, is to render a ceasefire all but impossible and so to maximise the prospect of continued armed conflict. To insist that he both leave the country and face trial in the International Criminal Court is virtually to ensure that he will stay in Libya to the bitter end and go down fighting.
Only an immediate ceasefire is consistent with the purpose originally claimed for NATO’s intervention, that of protecting civilians. The argument that Qaddafi has failed to deliver a ceasefire ignores the fact that Security Council Resolution 1973 did not place responsibility for achieving a ceasefire exclusively on one side and that no ceasefire can be sustained unless it is observed by both sides. The complaint that Qaddafi cannot be trusted is one that can be levelled at any number of leaders on one side or another of a civil war. The way to deal with the issue is to establish the political conditions – by mobilising through concerted diplomacy a strong international consensus in favour of an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and serious negotiations – that will increase the likelihood that he keeps to his undertakings.
Several principles therefore should guide the immediate search for a negotiated settlement:
– Mediation by third parties trusted by both sides, perhaps a joint African Union/Arab League proposal;
– A two-phase ceasefire – first, a mutual truce declaration between the regime and the Interim Transitional National Council (TNC) to agree on issues such as the location of peace lines, deployment of peacekeeping forces and delivery of humanitarian assistance; second, a mutual declaration of a cessation of fighting and announcement of talks on the shape and modalities of the transition to a new Libyan state;
– Ensuring that the ceasefire not only stops the fighting but also leads directly to political negotiations between the TNC and the Qaddafi regime;
– Making a clear distinction between Qaddafi "going" – ceasing to have any political role or power – as a key element of the desired political end result and his "going" immediately, as the precondition of everything else;
– Making clear from the outset that neither Qaddafi nor any of his sons will hold any positions in either the government of the post-Jamahiriya state or the interim administration put in place for the duration of the transition period;
– Making clear that all Libyans, including those who have up to now served the Qaddafi regime, will enjoy equal civil rights, including the right to political representation, in the post-Jamahiriya state;
– Providing Qaddafi with an alternative to a trial before the ICC; and
– Making clear that any post-Jamahiriya state must have real and properly functioning institutions; be governed by the rule of law; and explicitly guarantee the principle of political representation, which implies genuine political pluralism.
The present conflict clearly represents the death agony of the Jamahiriya. Whether what comes after it fulfils Libyans’ hopes for freedom and legitimate government very much depends on how and when Qaddafi goes. This in turn depends on how – and how soon – the armed conflict gives way to political negotiation allowing Libya’s political actors, including Libyan public opinion as a whole, to address the crucial questions involved in defining the constitutive principles of a post-Jamahiriya state and agreeing on the modalities and interim institutions of the transition phase. The international community’s responsibility for the course events will take is very great. Instead of stubbornly maintaining the present policy and running the risk that its consequence will be dangerous chaos, it should act now to facilitate a negotiated end to the civil war and a new beginning for Libya’s political life.
7) HRW says Libya rebels detain pro-Gadhafi civilians
Diaa Hadid, Associated Press, 06/06/11 2:53 AM
Tripoli – Libya’s rebels have arbitrarily detained dozens of civilians suspected of supporting ruler Moammar Gadhafi and at least one has died after apparently being tortured while in custody, Human Rights Watch said Monday.
Since the uprising started in mid-February, rebels have seized control of much of the country’s east and scrambled to set up an administration in their de facto capital of Benghazi. Rebels also hold the western city of Misrata and smaller towns in the western mountains. Both sides have taken prisoners in the fighting.
On Monday, New York-based Human Rights Watch called on Libya’s rebels to give detainees legal protection and investigate abuses, said researcher Sidney Kwiram. "Detainees are entitled to their full due process rights, including access to a lawyer," Kwiram said. "The concern is that if this is not addressed early, bad habits can become entrenched."
As of May 28, rebel authorities held about 330 people, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Sunday. It remains unclear how many are civilians because rebel authorities often do not distinguish them from fighters, seeing all Gadhafi supporters as enemies of the "revolution."
In Benghazi, at least one-third of 118 detainees were civilians, the report said. Of the 20 civilians Human Rights Watch interviewed, none said they had been abused, but none had been able to meet with a lawyer or challenge their detention in court.
The report, based on interviews with detainees and rebel officials in three rebel-controlled cities, also said bands of volunteers were rounding up people suspected of pro-Gadhafi activities. "They are making arrests with no formal legal authority, and that creates the space for vigilante justice," Kwiram said.
The report said one man held by such a group, Muhammad el-Dabr, died in late April, apparently after being tortured. El-Dabr, a Jordanian citizen, was suspected of spreading propaganda for Gadhafi.
The report also said at least 10 former security officials in the Gadhafi regime have been killed in the past three months.
8) Five U.S. soldiers killed in attack on base in Iraq
Tim Craig and Scott Wilson, Washington Post, June 6
Baghdad – The American military suffered the deadliest attack against its forces in Iraq in more than two years Monday when rockets slammed into a joint U.S.-Iraqi base in Baghdad, killing five U.S. troops and reviving concerns about security and the stability of the country’s unwieldy coalition government.
The attack occurred around dawn at Camp Loyalty, known to Iraqis as Baladiyat base, when about six rockets struck near the U.S. residential quarters, according to Iraqi security officials. The rocket strikes were part of a day of violence across Iraq that left at least 17 Iraqis dead. Insurgents detonated car bombs, booby-trapped a house with explosives and attacked security checkpoints in the capital.
Iraq is a less violent place than it has been for much of the time since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, but recent attacks have caused unease. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is under growing pressure to assert more leadership as Iraqis face newly emboldened terrorist groups, continuing shortages of clean water and electricity, and a new national government that often appears paralyzed by mistrust.
[…] The recent violence comes as Maliki faces a critical milestone in efforts to head off mass demonstrations similar to those in other Arab capitals this spring.
In February, after several days of demonstrations that killed nearly two dozen people across Iraq, Maliki asked protesters to give him 100 days to address their concerns about corruption, unemployment and shoddy government services.
With his grace period due to expire Tuesday, U.S. and Iraqi officials are increasingly concerned about the potential for more unrest as they try to decide whether U.S. forces should stay in the country past the end of the year.
About 46,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, but under a three-year-old security agreement, the last American soldier is scheduled to leave the country by Dec. 31.
Jay Carney, President Obama’s press secretary, said Monday that the administration intends to comply with the agreement but added that it would "entertain" requests from Iraqi officials to change the agreement if they thought that U.S. troops would be needed to ensure stability.
Obama is under pressure to continue what has been a steady drawdown in Iraq, but administration officials stress that they do not want to see the security or political situation in Iraq deteriorate after the last U.S. troops leave.
U.S. military officials had hoped Iraq’s political leaders could form a consensus by midsummer on whether they will ask for an extension of the security agreement. But Haidar Abadi, a Parliament member closely aligned with Maliki, said in an interview Monday that U.S. officials should not expect a decision before fall.
"Iraq’s political system works under pressure," Abadi said. "I think most Iraqi politicians feel there is enough time … and our back is not tied to the wall and we have a few months to decide."
Even so, Abadi added, "There is no political atmosphere to allow for any extension."
Maliki’s coalition includes the strenuously anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who two weeks ago paraded his Mahdi Army through Baghdad’s Sadr City demanding a complete withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of the year.
U.S. officials fear that the cleric’s followers could take to the streets, posing potentially severe challenges for Maliki’s government, if American troops stayed past this year.
Although Sunni tribal and political leaders have said they would like some U.S. troops to remain in the country – in part to keep Sadr’s influence in check – the predominantly Sunni Iraqiya block in Parliament has shown little willingness to speak up in support of such a move.
With growing skepticism about a continued U.S. presence, Abadi and other Iraqi political leaders say they hope the discussion in Baghdad will turn toward how Iraq will defend itself in absence of U.S. troops. But more than six months after Iraq’s unity government was formed, Maliki and Parliament remain deadlocked over appointments to head the Defense, Interior and Intelligence ministries.
"None of the political blocs have any idea about the ability of the Iraqi military and security forces, if they are capable enough," said Haider al-Mulla, a spokesman for the Iraqiya bloc. "Maliki is controlling everything."
9) Bolivia’s Envoy Touts Financial Tax to Fund $100 Billion in Climate Aid
Alex Morales, Bloomberg, Jun 7, 2011
Bolivia is pushing for a tax on international financial transactions to help fund $100 billion of climate change aid that developed countries have pledged to provide by 2020.
Under the plan, countries could opt to charge a 0.01 percent tax on any money coming in from abroad for any transaction, Bolivia’s lead climate negotiator, Pablo Solon, said today in Bonn, where two weeks of United Nations climate talks started yesterday. The money would then be paid into a fund that can disburse aid to any country, Solon said.
The tax is needed to ensure aid pledges are met with new money, said Solon, noting an earlier promise by developed countries to pay $30 billion in climate change aid over the three years 2010 through 2012. "The famous $30 billion didn’t come to developing countries, not as new aid," Solon said. A new tax would mean "we will begin to see new fresh money," he said.
Financial transaction taxes are sometimes termed a Tobin tax after James Tobin, the Nobel Prize-winning U.S. economist who first suggested the idea in 1971.
Solon’s proposal picks up on one by a UN-appointed panel in November. The group, which included billionaire investor George Soros and Larry Summers, then-director of President Barack Obama’s National Economic Council, said an international financial transactions tax could generate $27 billion a year.
Solon said countries would be able to opt into the system, and that they couldn’t be forced to take part. At the same time, any money flowing from a non-participating country to one that has set up the tax would be subject to the charge. "In this way we would have a mechanism that has real funds to immediately act in situations like, for example, forest fires, natural disasters," he said.
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