Praise Tunisia, not the Iraqi nightmare

By Rami G. Khouri

Iraq since 2003 represents everything that we want to avoid in the Arab world – foreign invasions, simplistic American political engineering, sharp internal  polarization, ethnic cleansing and warfare, a new arena for Al-Qaeda-like  terrorists, millions of internally displaced Iraqis and refugees who fled the  country, massive gaps in basic services like electricity, hundreds of thousands  of injured and traumatized people, and trillions of dollars that should have  been spent on serious development rather than the destruction and continuing  tensions that persist.

The contrast of Iraq with the Tunisian revolution that overthrew President Zine  al-Abidine Ben Ali provides a better model – and in fact the Tunisian revolution  was quickly emulated around the region. The Tunisian way represents a more  legitimate, effective and enduring way to move from authoritarianism to  democracy in the Arab world, because it is based on indigenous popular  sentiments, actors and political change. Millions of Arab men and women who were  inspired by Tunisians rose up peacefully against their oppressive rulers.

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Robert Fisk: Why the Middle East will never be the same again

In the new Middle East, amid the Arab Awakening and the revolt of free peoples for dignity and freedom, this UN vote – passed in the General Assembly, vetoed by America if it goes to the Security Council – constitutes a kind of hinge; not just a page turning, but the failure of empire. So locked into Israel has US foreign policy become, so fearful of Israel have almost all its Congressmen and Congresswomen become – to the extent of loving Israel more than America – that America will this week stand out not as the nation that produced Woodrow Wilson and his 14 principles of self-determination, not as the country which fought Nazism and Fascism and Japanese militarism, not as the beacon of freedom which, we are told, its Founding Fathers represented – but as a curmudgeonly, selfish, frightened state whose President, after promising a new affection for the Muslim world, is forced to support an occupying power against a people who only ask for statehood.

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Our man in Cocoa-stan

May 21, 2011

Ivory Coast President Ouattara Formally Inaugurated

Ouattara has moved quickly to take control of a faltering economy by reopening banks, paying overdue civil service salaries, and resuming cocoa exports. France and the European Union are providing more than $820 million in emergency assistance.

President Ouattara personally thanked President Sarkozy for that intervention under the U.N. mandate. He said it allowed many lives to be saved and the Ivorian people will always recognize that French contribution.

August 4, 2011

Barry Callebaut Plans Ivory Coast Cocoa Processor, Patriote Says

Barry Callebaut AG (BARN), the Zurich-based chocolate maker, plans to open a cocoa-processing plant in Ivory Coast, le Patriote reported, citing Chief Executive Officer Juergen Steinemann.

The factory will process as much as 70,000 metric tons of cocoa, the Abidjan-based newspaper cited Steinemann as saying, following a meeting with Ivorian President Alassane Ouattara yesterday.

August 13, 2011

Troops blamed for mass graves in Ivory Coast

Mass graves have been discovered in an opposition neighbourhood of the business capital Abidjan. The UN mission recorded 26 killings, as well as rapes and illegal arrests in the past month. The reported reprisals will add to concerns that the internationally supported new leader, Alassane Ouattara, has broken promises over reconciliation in the deeply divided West African nation where a contested election led to civil war this year.

A number of leading figures from the Gbagbo regime are facing trial for alleged crimes committed while in power, but so far none of Mr Ouattara’s backers has been arrested despite compelling evidence of human-rights abuses.

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US-backed forces launch military offensive in Somalia as aid is used as a weapon of war

By Susan Garth
30 July 2011


A drought which has put 12 million people at risk across East Africa has become the pretext for the US to step up military aggression through its proxy forces. The same humanitarian justification was given for the US military intervention in Somalia begun by President George Bush in 1992 under the codename Operation Restore Hope and continued by President Bill Clinton. US forces claimed to be protecting aid convoys, but terrorised the civilian population as they hunted down supposed terrorists. Since then, Somalia has become a focus for Obama’s war on terror.

It seems that the US-backed forces have taken the opportunity offered by the drought and famine to extend the control of the TFG. Heavy shelling was reported in the capital Mogadishu on Thursday, July 28.

Analysts believe that the drought has weakened al-Shabab. Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdi Samed, a Somali political analyst with Southlink Consultants in Nairobi maintains that a rift has opened up between clan elders in the famine-struck areas and al-Shabab militants. It seems that the the US and its allies in the region are determined to use the drought to strike a blow against al-Shabab.

“The day’s of al-Shabab are numbered,” Samed said, speaking on the US propaganda station Voice of America.

The military offensive is only one part of their strategy. Aid is itself being used as a weapon of war. Samed went on, “My biggest worry is only one thing. If the international community is allowed to provide food and water and basic necessities to the al-Shabab controlled areas, they will receive a logistical support so that they are now prolonging the fighting.”

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Anthony Gregory: Illusions of Security and Danger

…the whole plethora of government anti-terror policies are a bust: surveillance of the citizenry, sweeping up zillions of gigabytes of data, gratuitously invasive airport security measures, detention without due process of material witnesses as well as enemy combatants captured far away from the homeland, renditioning and torture, to say nothing of preventive wars and sustained occupations that kill tens or hundreds of thousands of civilians. None of this can really stop a dedicated nut from destroying the lives of large numbers of people.


If only Bush and Obama had responded to such incidents not with appeals to the necessity of the war on terrorism and their broad executive power, but with declarations that freedom must not be compromised in an attempt to crusade against extremism, terrorism, or evil. The irony of the trillions spent, the millions of lives ruined, and the priceless civil liberties turned upside down in the global war on terror that has dominated U.S. policy for the last decade is not just that the policies undertaken have mostly been counterproductive; it is that nothing at all can stop a determined terrorist with political grievances, whatever they might be, from committing mayhem on a mass scale. The other side of the irony is that the danger still does not rise nearly to a level that might excuse the panic.

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Charles Hugh Smith: You Want To Fix The U.S. Economy? Here’s A Start‏

A simple 8-point plan would restore both the banking and the real estate sectors, and end the political dominance of the parasitic “too big to fail” banks.

At least $3 trillion in impaired residential mortgage debt would be written off, maybe more, and $1 trillion in impaired commercial real estate would also be written down. Derivative losses are unknown, but let’s estimate it’s at least $1 trillion and maybe much more.

If $5.8 trillion of fantasy “value” is wiped off the nation’s books, that’s only a 10% reduction in net household and non-profit assets, which total $58 trillion. Even an $11 trillion hit would only knock off 20%. If that’s reality, if that’s what the assets are really worth in the real world, then let’s get it over with. Once we’ve restored truthful accounting and stopped living a grand series of debilitating lies, then the path will finally be clear for renewed growth.

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Matt Stoller: Elizabeth Warren Versus Barack Obama on Leadership

The books written by Warren and Obama reveal their differing styles.
She talks about the problems of the housing bubble in the context of a failing education system, and the flip side of the Reagan revolution – the economic persecution of women and families. She named names, but more than that, she grounded her book in real data and the pain of millions of people she tried to protect. It is this research that led her to note that the stimulus, absent debt restructuring, would not work.
He wrote about how passionate activists were too simple-minded, that the system basically worked, and that compromise was a virtue in and of itself in a world of uncertainty. His book was a book about a fundamentally conservative political creature obsessed with process, not someone grounded in the problems of ordinary people. He told us what his leadership style is, what his agenda was, and he’s executing it now.

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