2008 Country Archive
OVERVIEW OCTOBER '08
WORLD STUPIDITY RULES OK
So what is the solution?
At the beginning of the 3d millennium CE we occupy a world with some two hundred
nation state ‘units,’ each with sovereign rights and powers (and even
responsibilities) seeking to confront the complexities of taking their citizens
forward - or having less admirable motives for being power holders. We predict
that future historians will tick off nation states as merely the next
evolutionary step up in social organization, from clans to tribes to nations.
The solution has long been obvious but is unlikely to be adopted. The United
Nations is the creature of its members. It is a forum with few powers and is not
and cannot be anything that the more powerful ones won’t allow. But if anyone
speaks of proper ‘world government’, which is not on any major
party’s agenda in any significant country, they are shown the
Obviously moving towards world government perhaps only in certain spheres, in
the face of massive vested interests, even if it were generally agreed as the
way forward, would probably take a generation or more to implement.
Our point here is that there is no debate at all and yet
‘globalisation’ in numerous other forms is very much on the agenda. Clearly
the current financial crisis calls for future joint international action, in
rendering transparent what presently is opaque, and monitoring the secretive
world of high finance.
Most of the world’s ‘insoluble’ problems, not only the economic ones: war,
arms dealing, drug smuggling, fatal disease epidemics, people trafficking, mass
starvation, mass unemployment, reckless financial adventuring, to name
but a few, are in fact soluble, but only by international solutions - which
selfish nation states, as most are, inevitably cannot, or are most unlikely to
agree upon, other than in a climate of extreme fear.
An outside threat doesn’t have to be the Wellsian one of “War of the
Worlds,” although that would surely do it. The fear of ultimate weapons once
seemed as though they might have that effect, but no. Two nuclear bombs were
dropped and that was 63 years ago, since when all sorts of pledges have been
made about reducing stockpiles, about preventing proliferation, but very
ineffectively. People have just become numbed to the idea of their existence.
However we humans are a highly suggestible species and some movies and novels
have explored the possibilities of their use. Everyone has some feeling, even if
it is a vague sense, of menace. Fear is present right now in individuals,
families, companies and nations. It illustrates that it is as likely to be a
financial meltdown as the threat of WMD’s, that could make people consider
seriously, what most have never even thought about.
Right now the really big political issue is which one of two US Senators, both
apparently decent enough men (but neither with any known aptitude in management
generally, or financial expertise, the problem of this time), will the electors
of some remote county in a swing-state like Ohio as in 2004, or Florida as in
2000 (with a majority of only 537 votes in a manifestly fraudulent election),
appoint to the most powerful job in the world.
What a strange way of filling the world’s most important job in a nation
which is bristling with formidable ability, both intellectual and practical.
Maybe the next generation will prove to be more intelligent than this one, which
it has to be said as we will now illustrate, is politically as well as
economically, not doing too well.
BUSH’S FOREIGN POLICY- AN ACCOUNTING
As the Bush presidency draws to a close, we believe it to be appropriate to
review its international policies record in office, against current developments
in the nations on which we regularly report.
The defining moments perhaps were the awful events of 9/11 whereupon all
previous foreign policy assumptions were put on hold and re-evaluated in the
light of a seemingly unprovoked attack on mainland America.
Later when the culprits were identified, when the world needed to know what
possible provocation brought 19 young men to together to kill themselves in
order to slaughter 3000, Bin Laden made statements and suicide videos started to
appear, then also did the first insights.
‘American boots treading on the sands once trodden by the prophet’s
sandals’ extraordinarily, was one ‘provocation’ we were told (although US
forces had already been moving out, at Saudi government request, to Qatar). A
mix of Arab nationalism with islamic fundamentalism talked generally in terms of
US /Western colonialism, which included the Russians in Chechnya, but more
specifically in terms of unconditional US support for Israel which included the
inherited US policy of pretending the Israeli nuclear arsenal didn’t exist.
Al Qaeda’s declared policy is to seek the downfall of leaderships of all Arab
nations, many of which are supported by the US, which they condemn as being
deeply corrupt and tyrannical. But is not the absence of civil rights that fires
up Al Qaeda. These Arab nations are all condemned because they do not submit to
Shariah law, nor operate their nations as theocracies. Nothing less than the
expulsion of US and indeed Europeans and other non-arabs, from all Islamic
lands, is what al Qaeda seeks, together with the theocratisation of all Islamic
states past and present. This includes in Europe not only Bosnia in the Balkans,
but even such as “Andalusia” - modern Spain that once, until half a
millennium ago was under the sway of Arab conquerors who themselves were in due
Such an perverse agenda would have remained an historical curiosity, a footnote
to the world politics of our times, had it not been for those fateful September
hi-jackings converting peaceful domestic airliners into flying bombs. These in
turn presaged an al Qaeda campaign of suicide bombings, killing civilians of
course, in Europe.
The initial US response captured massive support world-wide. The assailant’s
base in Afghanistan was under the protection of the then government of that
nation, the Taleban regime, who refused to evict. The Taleban was already
fighting a civil war against Afghans of the Northern Alliance.
The day before 9/11, the brilliant leader of that Alliance Mohammed Shah Massoud,
was assassinated as a favour to the Taleban, by al Qaeda agents inside his own
HQ. In short order, the US supplied weaponry, air support and trained ground
fire controllers, and together with the British and other friendly nations,
inserted special forces behind Taleban lines, searching for Osama Bin Laden. The
US intervention on behalf of the Northern Alliance, swiftly led to the
Taleban’s and al Qaeda’s defeat and retreat from the cities, into the wild
and lawless mountains of the vast border area with Pakistan. It was an efficient
and effective military response to the outrage, except that once in the
mountains, the leaders managed to slip away into this frontier area, which no
government nor invader has ever been able to control.
Then to the amazement of the watching world the escaped leaderships of both the
Taleban and al Qaeda were not pursued across the Pakistani border – the
doctrine of ‘hot pursuit’ seeming obvious in these circumstances - the
friendly government of Pakistan if they had resisted US and Alliance forces
doing the job, would have had to have been ‘squared’ by whatever means, to
accept for their own forces on the ground something like the decisive support
the Northern Alliance received from the US in Afghanistan.
Instead Special Forces and hi-tech surveillance units were given and seven years
later still have, the task of locating and dealing with the fugitive
leaderships, who themselves had prior experience from the Soviet occupation of
being ‘hi- tech hunted’.
Meanwhile astonishingly, with the job unfinished, a massive redeployment of US
troops took place out of Afghanistan to fight a new, unprovoked war, which all
Arab nations and many others assumed and still believe on common sense grounds,
was an imperial strike to secure Iraq’s oilfields – amongst the richest in
the world. This attack was carried out despite the UN Security Council and many
US allies being unable to support the action, which they correctly deemed to be
The outcome in both IRAQ
are too well known to need repeating here, but the bottom line is that seven
years after 9/11, the architects of the mass murder in New York and Washington
are still alive, at liberty and still to some degree internationally
The new president issued what became called ‘the Bush doctrine’
which stated that the US would, whenever it thought it necessary, make a
pre-emptive military strike on any nation it regarded as being threatening to US
interests. What then of the United Nations, it was asked, the purpose of whose
foundation was to prevent war?
V-President Cheney partly answered that question, saying bluntly that the UN was
useful in so far as it’s decisions were in US interests.
So much for the Rule of Law.
Neither of the 2008 presidential candidates has yet said that they would
repudiate that arrogant doctrine, but it is a major obstacle to the US
presidency once more resuming the world-leadership that it forfeited under
US Foreign policy seemed to have been removed from Foggy Bottom to the
Vice-presidents office at the White House. There was a neo-con influence that
manifested itself in a theory that democracy could somehow be imposed (at the
point of a gun if necessary), on recalcitrant middle-eastern nations starting
with the swiftly conquered IRAQ.
However, as soon as Saddamite repression was lifted there, the hate-wars between
different Moslem sects took over, leaving US and allied troops seeking vainly to
eliminate the terrorists of both the Shia and Sunni sides.
Into that volatile mix came flocking the foreign fighters of Al Qaeda, few of
whom were Iraqi. They widely using the tactic of loading explosives onto
religiously hyped-up youths, and killing and maiming targets, including western
soldiers, but in the process they killed far greater numbers of hapless Iraqi
civilians, who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
It has taken years for a viable Iraqi government to become effective, but as our
shows, some progress is being made in the transfer of powers, although absorbing
armed Sunni irregulars is proving hard for the Shia government to swallow, and
frightful terrorist acts still regularly continue. On the economic front there
is no agreement between the factions, effectively on splitting the proceeds of
an oil law, the results of which are that although the Iraqi government now
claims larger oil reserves even than neighbouring Saudi Arabia, exploitation
cannot yet proceed. Despite the ‘whistling in the dark’ from Washington, the
prospects are not good. General Petraeus whom the White House /Fox News sought
to build up as the ‘Victor of Iraq’ was far too canny to fall for that. He
said that he “will never declare victory there”, that recent security gains
“were not irreversible” and that “the US still faced a long struggle
We still believe our proposed solution ‘PRESCRIPTIONS
IRAQ’ looks better than what is in place.
There was a refusal at the outset by the Bush administration to continue to deal
with NORTH KOREA
via the negotiations that the outgoing Clinton government had engaged upon, yet
the indications then were that Pyongyang was heading for both advanced missile
technology and their own nuclear warhead, both of which pieces of intelligence
proved to be true. Belatedly like “shutting the stable door after the horse
had bolted” after years of inaction, negotiations, were set up via the Group
of Six and despite many difficulties, steady progress was made as we have
reported throughout, leading the North Koreans to agree to dismantle their
nuclear program in return for certain commitments by the US.
As we reported in our September Update on that country, things suddenly turned
sour due to apparent US ‘bad faith’ insisting on new and un-negotiated
conditions after the N.Koreans had largely dismantled the nuclear plant.
Like the child’s game of snakes and ladders it seems that the main achievement
of years of negotiation has come tumbling down, which may be a cause for
celebration within the Cheney camp, who wanted this.
But this had been hailed as his boss, George Bush’s ONE Foreign Policy
Our current NORTH KOREA
report updates that situation now, in the wake of speculation over a change in
leadership, following the reported illness of its leader. It also looks at
Always Israel – Palestine problems dominated the middle-east agenda but
finding any resolution seemed until about their final year or two of office, to
engage this US government not at all. Their Israel policy had been simply to
collaborate closely with Likud in Jerusalem. (Sharon’s office during his time
and that of Cheney, were in daily communication).
It becomes more and more obvious that there is not going to be any peace
solution after what is it, twenty, thirty years of abortive attempts? No
politicians on the Israeli side are single mindedly committed to the idea of a
just peace in their neighbourhood. Since the murder of the Israeli Prime
minister Yitzhak Rabin not by a Palestinian, but by an Israeli terrorist, their
top politicians have steered away from peace. Peace gets you killed, was the
subliminal message. So now they “talk the talk”, but do not “walk the
Clinton seemed to make the attempt. Bush left it for six years, did nothing, and
then sent Condaleezza chasing around the middle-east as though it was a new
Sadly the evidence, after all these years, indicates that Israel’s politicians
although they might like the idea of peace as an abstract concept, feel that
since they are in control of the territory, it is safer to do nothing more
than… nothing. There are many Israelis of good will who want peace. Indeed
Israeli independent journos and TV units, rather than the international media
have often been responsible for much of the footage that has embarrassed the
hawks. The absence of progress has riven the Palestinian side and allowed the
progress made by Hamas who incredibly once were a client of Israel, who used
them as a counter balance to Arafat’s PLO.
The US Israeli lobby is so powerful that elected pols in the US that could
change things, will not stick their heads above the parapet, the only thing that
shifts them is if Arab oil-producing nations put the pressure on, because they
themselves are feeling pressure.
Forget peace, as opposed to defeat for the residents of Palestine! So the Bush
US Israeli policy was about something else.
The US flared up whenever any threat to Israel seemed to emerge from its
relationship with SYRIA
usually immediately because the Lebanese Hezbollah as a Shia group, are widely
regarded as merely Iranian proxies, although they see themselves as Lebanese
patriots resisting the Israeli war machine and their invasions of Lebanon. SYRIA
during the Bush period several times sought to make peace with ISRAEL, which for
them meant the restoration of their territories on the Golan Heights, captured
in war by Israel in the 1960’s. The US taking its cue from Likud was hostile
to negotiating with SYRIA,
who quite recently persuaded neighbouring TURKEY
to act as an honest broker, without benefit of US involvement. That was going
rather well, but Israel’s domestic political scene is fraught, with every
possibility of a change of power and Likud hawk and Cheney pal, Benjamin
Natanyahu becoming the new prime minister who would certainly scuttle such
talks. It hasn’t happened yet, Tzipi Livni, the new leader of the government
party has been leading the Palestinian negotiations since the Annapolis
Conference and is believed to be pro-peace. Our SYRIA
Update continues the story.
A perennially touchy IRAN
was during the Bush years promoted to being the world’s outstanding ‘demon
nation’ after its two former co-nominees in the ‘Axis of Evil’ became
forgiven and redeemed. One, IRAQ,
by the cleansing of a US invasion and occupation, the other because it agreed to
give up, having demonstrated ownership, its nuclear weapons capacity – (see NORTH
KOREA - but it could be going ‘axis’ again).
had a spat going on and no diplomatic relations with the USA, since 1979 –
that’s nearly thirty years - when it’s revolutionary students occupied the
US Embassy in Tehran. IRAN
is a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty which agrees not to
produce nuclear weapons, but entitles signatories to develop civil nuclear
power. Although the president, Ahmadinejad is far from all-powerful in this
theocracy, nevertheless his pugnacity has made him a leading hate-figure outside
Much sabre-rattling came from the White House, but this preparation for war was
pre-empted from a most unlikely source. The US Intelligence community,
consisting of 16 different intelligence agencies in November 2007 issued a
unanimous report, that uncompromisingly said that IRAN
discontinued its nuclear weapons program in 2003, had not resumed it, and would
be several years away from having a viable nuclear weapon if they did start it
The White House, as they earlier did with North Korea, has taken the position
that to talk to IRAN
would be an act of weakness (the logic of this is not obvious). US – IRAN
discussions may be ongoing, but if so they are at a secret level. Our report on IRAN
updates on the effects of sanctions. We can reasonably expect that a US
government without a Cheney in it, may take a different view of direct
negotiations, perhaps that of Winston Churchill that holds “jaw jaw to be
better than war war.”
has become the most recent bad dream for the administration, which in it’s
second term now included Condi Rice’s Foggy Bottom. At the time of the 9/11
attack this Islamic nuclear-armed nation, was under the control of General
Pervez Musharraf, who had brought some stability to the nation and agreed to
support the US ‘war on terrorism’. But on US advice he agreed to return to
full democracy and accept the constitution. He had himself now been elected
president, and set in train a parliamentary vote. The west’s favoured nominee
was a woman, a former prime minister who had earlier had to leave the country
with her husband, who is now the president. He had been in jail in Pakistan for
massive corruption, and during his sojourn with his wife in political exile,
managed to acquire several further extradition requests for his prosecution for
offences in European countries. His wife was assassinated whilst campaigning,
apparently by Islamists, like so many in that country, leaving Zardari as the
PPP leader now recently elected to the presidency .
Nothing that could be called stability exists there now. Musharraf was forced to
resign. Islamists seem to be seeking to suicide-bomb the country into submission
to their desired Islamic state. Nawaz Sharif the shrewdest of their politicians
is waiting in the wings for the ‘nation’s call’. But he is as sinister as
they come. In his previous stint as prime minister before Musharraf dethroned
him, as a Wahhabi he tried to bully the parliament to accept Shariah law, in
place of the constitutional law they have had since independence. Our PAKISTAN
Update tells more
re-emerged on the world stage during the Bush / Cheney years, largely due to a
strong and capable president, whose eight year term has co-existed with that of
At the time of Putin’s election in RUSSIA
the country was economically backward, it’s significance largely being in the
well publicized doings of its larger than life billionaire oligarchs who then
exercised a disproportionate amount of power in the FSU. Eight years later, RUSSIA
is an economic giant, perhaps the most important supplier of oil and gas to the
world, certainly that part which is Eurasia. It has played its cards very
shrewdly to exploit its natural reserves, its geographical positioning, and its
ruthless application of its internal laws in flattening any upstart capitalists
that tried to compete with the state itself.
When Bush first met Putin in a meeting set up for that purpose in Slovenia, he
rather patronisingly romanced about the Russian hard man’s spiritual
qualities, which must have caused some amusement amongst the Russian’s former
KGB colleagues. There was never any point during their contemporaneous
eight-year terms, when the US president appeared to the world to be the better
was opposed to the invasion of IRAQ
for the same reasons as France and Germany, but because they had their own
problems in Chechnya, their disagreement tended to be played down in
The ongoing story of the Balkans was still there during this period whilst RUSSIA
put a lot of investment into SERBIA,
and through its richer citizens and corporations more or less took over the tiny
state of Montenegro, when it separated from the rump Yugoslav Federation - by
the simple device of buying up its real estate. Then came the crunch issue of
Kosovo whose UDI caused a major divide between RUSSIA
patron, and the west. This month’s issue of SERBIA
points out how that Russian policy over the GEORGIAN
enclaves of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, has knocked away the foundations of
their previous high moral stance over Kosovo, leaving former admirers in SERBIA
high and dry!
remains the contemporary open sore in Western relations with RUSSIA.
It was at first reported by the likes of Fox News and the US and UK tabloid
press, as a flat-out Russian ‘invasion’ of the former Soviet colony. The
truth finally ‘got its boots on’ but it had to fight its way out even to be
heard. It was that GEORGIA
had launched a military invasion to reclaim its (de jure but long separated)
region of South Ossetia, by a military coup de main. It came badly unstuck when
the Russians whose (de facto) property it has long been, forcibly
counterattacked and laid about them, doing punitive destruction within GEORGIA
itself, far from the borders of disputed South Ossetia.
Was this “My Pet Goat” Part Two?
There is a curious aspect of this, which has been little commented upon by the
western media. It emerged from a conference of journalists and Russia experts on
September 12th in Sochi, attended by Vladimir Putin. On the night of the
Georgian invasion of South Ossetia, for such it was, coincidence placed both
Putin and Bush at the Olympics in Beijing.
Putin told the conference: “The Georgians launched their attacks at 23.30 on
August 7th. I learned about it the next morning. I spoke to Bush. He said,
“Nobody wants war.” We expected something would happen - that the US would
rein in its regional ally in Tibilsi.
I met him again at the stadium. I had the feeling that his administration
wouldn’t do anything about stopping the conflict. Russian tanks were then
ordered to move on to the South Ossetian capital”.
Could it have been that nobody had told George W Bush, or was it that he was
just enjoying the sportsfest and didn’t want have to do business ‘on
vacation?’ But why did he choose not to stop it, before the Russians
counterattacked into Georgia ?
All sorts of ‘finessing’ has been going on but the basic fact is that the
Georgian military invaded its erstwhile province and the Russians forcibly
evicted them and chased them back over their border – and beyond! The rest of
us are left to define “aggression”.
Russian Fear Of Encirclement
For reasons that have never been quite clear to international observers, the
Bush administration have pushed to extend NATO membership right up to the
borders of RUSSIA
itself, specifically GEORGIA
whilst insisting that it was no longer in business to counter RUSSIA.
Additionally, a US insistence in building an anti-missile base with units
divided between the Czech republic and Poland on the unconvincing grounds that
it was nothing to do with RUSSIA’s
ICBMs, but aimed at interdicting North Korean and Iranian nuclear ICBM’s which
as is well known, don’t exist.
If we in the west don’t believe it, how can he expect the Russians to do so?
Not so long ago, (in historical terms), the USA massively reacted against the
Soviet Union installing missiles in Cuba, seen to be America’s back yard
– a fairly good parallel in reverse, of these installations in Central Europe.
It is surprising that this point is not better appreciated in Washington. It
probably is in fact, but the White House has rolled over any and all objections.
It remains to be seen what the new US President will do about this powerful
As to NATO, although Vice-president Cheney (who else), has reportedly promised
membership to Tibilisi, that is a promise on which he cannot deliver, partly
because he won’t be in office in three months time, but mainly because NATO,
whatever some might think, is not a US subsidiary. Although supreme military
command rests with the appointee of the US Secretary of Defense, because the
main strength of the Alliance is US military power, it is politically controlled
by all of it’s member states.
Cooler heads in Germany in particular and in France, earlier this year,
prevented the swift adoption of Georgia into NATO, wanted by the US. It was a
very sensible objection because there is a provision that any member that is
under attack can call on all the other members to it’s military support.
In the recent GEORGIA
imbroglio, that could have looked remarkably like the 1914 network of
interlocking alliances of WW1, which following the street murder of an Austrian
aristocrat by a Serbian terrorist, led directly and inevitably to one of the
most destructive wars the world has yet known. It seems very unlikely that NATO
members will reward Tibilisi for their recent miscalculation, by extending
Our guess is that the vulnerability of pipelines routed through GEORGIA
which is its main strategic value to both Russia and the West, will require a
Panama canal-type zone solution, leased to the EU perhaps, whose members are far
more involved in this oil/ gas supply than the US. Then the EU can place
protective forces there without the hazard of a Saakashvili ‘adventure’
within Nato, with its dangers of precipitating an alliance-burdened
western world into WWIII.
subject to a tug of war internally as to its potential membership of NATO, as we
describe in this month’s report. It can be easily forgotten that to people
brought up in the USSR, NATO was the ‘evil’ force that threatened them and
their families. Many Ukrainians have deep interlocking family relationships with
Russians and membership of NATO to them somehow menaces their extended families.
Many like the freedoms of independence from Moscow enough, but they don’t
therefore see Moscow as their enemy. Moreover they would geographically be on
any WWIII ‘frontline’ and they had a bellyful of that, in WWI and WWII. So
although their president calls for it, there is probably no majority for
membership. Apart from this, the complexities of Ukrainian domestic politics are
horrendous and becoming more so, as we report in this month’s UKRAINE.
The above are the nations perhaps most affected by the Bush years. As can
be seen eight years have failed to even get close to resolving the problems with
IRAN. What did
seem to be shaping up to a late success in NORTH
KOREA has become unstitched, apparently due to bad faith in the White
House, which could have been a late Cheney ploy to scupper the deal to which he
was opposed. The greatest disgrace of these years is that no progress can be
seen in achieving a solution in the Israel Palestine confrontation. But it is
also a judgement between the promises and the performance that Osama bin Laden
and his top people are still free and active.
The new president and administration, even without the finding of a worldwide
solution for the financial crisis, have a mammoth task in foreign affairs to
make up for these wasted years.
The White House Culture of Lies
Whatever other legacy the new incumbent will receive is that of low esteem into
which the US Presidency has fallen. A major factor in this was revealed in a
study earlier this year by the ‘Centre for Public Integrity’ working with
the ‘Fund for Independence in Journalism’.
Following the Iraq war build-up the study counted 935 false statements over a
two year period.
In speeches briefings interviews and venues, Bush and administration officials
stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that IRAQ
had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to manufacture or obtain them, or
had links to al Qaeda or both.
“In short, the Bush administration led the country to war on the basis of
erroneous information methodically propagated and that culminated in military
action against Iraq on March 19th 2003.”
Other nations on which we report in this issue are: -
our report indicates is close to qualifying for entry into the European Union,
for which it has long striven. It is, as Balkan states go, untroubled by serious
ethnic problems. Unlike BULGARIA
still mired down with wrongdoing yet already admitted to membership, it is not a
disgrace in terms of corruption. Since the collapse of Yugoslavia and the
end of the Balkan wars it has become remarkably stable in a part of the world
where that condition is a rarity. It also seeks NATO membership and again unlike
would be a low risk to the Treaty members.
The main problem we can see in terms of the EU, is not a Croatian question at
all but the bigger one of resuming the expansion of the Union, which after the
experience of BULGARIA
has been on hold, also because of the problems of reorganizing the
organisational machinery of running the enlarged Union. This was what the
European Constitution was intended to resolve, but which fell in the Irish
Republic, as much as anything through the fears of their strong religious lobby
that this in some way could be bad for their prime political cause of opposing
‘women’s choice,’ in the matter of medical abortions, an issue completely
irrelevant to the EU.
Thus are 21st century geopolitical decisions still made.
Also admitting CROATIA
would send all the right signals to SERBIA,
and those other Balkans countries that seek eventual membership, even though
many right now are far from qualified and need to be encouraged to so improve
their civil societies as to qualify. It was Clinton who was significant in terms
of the Balkans not Bush and the Kosovo confrontation and subsequent Serbian
furore was more centred on the EU. Our SERBIA
seeks representation on the UN Security Council as we report and which seems
this month gives a very good description of the world financial crisis, as it
affects that nation and those like it.
after 20 months of military rule has set a date for its return to democracy,
with elections planned for December 18th this year.
welcomed its newly approved US civil nuclear deal. Also it looks at the spate of
terror bombings from apparently a home grown terror group.
examines an explosion in Damascus. We examine potential culprits.
has lurched in an almost ludicrous way from the course on which it was set. The
Court that heard the resumed corruption charges against Jacob Zuma, dismissed
the hearing on technical grounds making clear that this dismissal was not a
judgement on whether or not Zuma received a large bribe to enable an arms deal
to take place. This outcome for democrats was a disappointment, if not
altogether a surprise. Zuma is an African ‘Big Man’ and a technical
dismissal of the hearing, even though the charges still stand, was widely if
cynically expected. ‘Big Men’ like him are above the law, is the clear
message, now even in South Africa, which had hitherto appeared to be achieving
democracy and showing the way, in that continent. But the judge commenced at the
outset to comment that, as Zuma’s supporters had claimed, there appeared to
have been a political plot to indict him i.e. to show that even African Big Men
have to face the consequences of their actions.
That caused massive repercussions in the dominating ANC with the result that
President M’Beki was asked and agreed to resign, even though he was on the few
remaining months of his final term as president.
In an emotional farewell broadcast, M’beki denied absolutely any political
interference in the arraignment of his former vice-president and said that he
has taken the case to the Constitutional Court, to review that evidence. The
trial judge Chris Nicholson, in whose hands stood the reputation and
independence of South African justice, presumably will now have to explain how
he reached that conclusion. The judge said the charges could be resubmitted, but
obviously prosecutors will be under huge pressure to drop the case altogether.
That would leave Jacob Zuma free and clear as is now widely expected, to become
the next president. However, if the 'temporary' incumbent, Kgalema Motlanthe is
regarded as a success, the ANC may decide that he is their best bet. More
detail in SOUTH AFRICA.
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