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February 2005 Country Archive



 Secretary Colen Powell has gone and how will history judge him? It is hard to pinpoint any strategic successes. Certainly, he must himself be deeply unhappy about the four years of stasis in the Israel - Palestine confrontation and the dire effect that has had upon US relations with the Islamic world, who inevitably see Israel as a US proxy. Or perhaps worse, as George W. Bush being manipulated by the smarter Israeli politicians. It may eventually transpire that Powell was responsible for keeping the neocons at bay in resisting their instinctive desires for withdrawal from the UN. 
That would certainly stand to his credit, but in the whole affair of the Iraqi misadventure and addressing the other nominees from the Axis of Evil: IRAN and NORTH KOREA, policy normally expected from the Secretary of State seemed to emanate from the office of the Vice-President, rather than from the quaintly named Foggy Bottom.

Now Condaleezza Rice takes his place and at this time remains an unknown quantity in her standing and independence, vis a vis Vice-President Dick Cheyney . However in her Congressional hearings, she made her comments about Outposts of Tyranny and named six countries including the above two survivors from the AXIS , both of which we report here.
Despite NORTH KOREAS obduracy there is a lot going on. IRAN is shaping up for a Presidential election critical to what happens next, as the shadow of an Israeli or US airstrike looms large. 

The remainder of the OUTPOSTS are nicely balanced geographically, (it is said that President Bush only added North Korea to his Axis speech after it had been pointed out to him that with both IRAQ and IRAN being Islamic it needed a non-Islamic villain for sectarian balance). But although there are few surprises, except how vindictive Washington remains towards Cuba after all these years, the tyrannical omissions are ‘the story’ for us. 

Reference to this months reports and the archives we offer on UZBEKISTAN, TURKMENISTAN, AZERBAIJAN, will make it clear that any even-handed fingering of tyrannical nations should have included these.. We report how UZBEKISTAN has just held its parliamentary elections without a single opposition candidate being allowed to stand, without exception the opposition parties were disqualified. AZERBAIJAN first beat up, then imprisoned the political leaders who attempted to put up opposition to the ruling clan. TURKMENISTAN is ruled as one man show by a ruler whose cult of personality is legend, even in a world that witnessed Stalin. 

It is clear that US foreign policy in its essentials hasn’t and isn’t about to be changed. Priorities are the war on terror, and energy security and often the two are intertwined. Why these three , our candidates for OUTPOSTS , are not and will not be included is because UZBEKISTAN hosts a US military base; AZERBAIJAN and TURKMENISTAN are big players in the world of energy supply and like LIBYA where we report major developments from BIG OIL, they are to be forgiven their indiscretions and eccentricities.

IRAQ, notwithstanding the media hype (“only 44 murdered”), has witnessed a major event in the war on terror. It was a strange election to be sure which almost anywhere else would have been laughed out of court in terms of democratic modalities. But voting for un-named candidates, numbered lists no less, despite the ink –stained finger tips was after the undiluted violence of the past two years, some kind of a show of a better way of ordering the affairs of a nation. 

Turnout, as a % of the population was satisfactorily high, but since the Shiites wanted this election to justify their taking power, (as did the Kurds reasonably secure in their northern fastnesses), and together they constitute 80% of all Iraqis, a high proportion of that 80% were certainly not going to miss this opportunity. 

Those that voted of the Sunnis 20% were of course the most courageous. Certainly in no country in the world could a high turnout be expected of the section of the electorate most subject to such lethal bully-boys. What happens next about under-representation for the Sunni population will be a matter of what, if any, degree of statesmanship may emerge from the majority parties.

The bankruptcy, both moral and political of the jihadists is underscored by their frantic attempts to disrupt the January 30th election. It must be obvious to their leaders that the Americans would dearly like to withdraw from this hornets nest, yet cannot contemplate this until an elected Iraqi government is in place and demonstrably in charge. But one day this may happen. What then will they tell the deluded young Moslem volunteers who travel to Iraq to immolate themselves, usually in fact to kill their mostly peaceful civilian co-religionists – numerically by far the largest proportion of victims ? For what cause are they dying and slaughtering ordinary people just like their own families?

This election was not the only good news of the New Year. UKRAINE came good; people-power triumphed over the vicious and corrupt machine politics that had previously ground down proponents of democracy there. Unsung heroes of this heartening success were the Supreme Court who unlike any other courts of the (non Baltic) post-Soviet world stood up to the politicians that had put them there, and did the right thing in overturning the fraudulent first election. An independent judiciary is a sine qua non of a democratic state, but one can imagine Russian President Putin’s bafflement at how such a thing could have happened in neighbouring post-Soviet UKRAINE

There can be little doubt that Ukrainians have been heavily influenced by those other former communist nations immediately to their west, POLAND, SLOVAKIA, CZECH REPUBLIC, HUNGARY, LITHUANIA, all of whom as our reports tell, have demonstrably made substantial progress whilst UKRAINE, after 13 non -communist years simply had not.
All is not plain sailing however .The new Prime Ministerial appointment, Yulia Tymoshenko, as we explain, is a high risk nominee for President Yushchenko. 

ROMANIA simultaneously has also opted for a new beginning. The former communist apparatchiks, as in neighbouring UKRAINE, that had continued to run the country for their own benefit, were thrown out. People-power has now overturned the power elites in GEORGIA, ROMANIA and UKRAINE. It is obviously contagious. Where will it go from here? We tell why we see the beginnings of an ‘Orange’ build-up in ARMENIA. Europe’s last dictatorship, BELARUS (a Condi ‘Outpost'), is ripe for it, but it is hard to see the thuggish Alexandr Lukashenka giving way without blood being spilled. 

SYRIA was not an ‘Outpost’ nominee but it must have been a close-run thing. It is being said that they are harbouring terrorist training camps for next door IRAQ; and that maybe the missing WMDs were secreted in SYRIA all the time. The problem now is that this seems to have the hallmark of the "NIA" (Neocon Intelligence Agency), inevitably suffering a credibility bypass after the IRAQ intelligence failures. 

We explain why the US -Israeli frosty response to SYRIA’s attempts to ‘normalise’ relations, or at least to get around a table, has sent them off to Moscow. There Putin is torn between the tempting prospect of reviving this cold–war dependency of the USSR but with the outcome of alienating Washington.

2005 shows every indication of being an eventful year and our UPDATES, some of those for February described here - and many more (we report forty nations in transition), continue to supply the detail. 

Publisher - Clive Lindley

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