Daily Archives: September 10, 2008

Nepal Maoists inclined toward totalitarianism

Kantipur Report | Sep 10, 2008

KATHMANDU, Sept 8 – Nepali Congress (NC) has accused the Maoists of continuing their coercive measures even after formation of the new government under their leadership.

At a press conference held at the end of the party’s Central Working Committee meeting Sunday, the second largest party in the Constituent Assembly said CPN (Maoist) seem determined to increase the influence of violence and armed combatants in statecraft instead of promoting peace, friendship and reconciliation.

Unveiling the nine-point decision of the CWC meeting, NC Spokesperson Arjun Narsingh KC said, “Because of the totalitarian attitude of Maoists, the NC decided to play a strong opposition role in the Legislature-Parliament rather than collaborate with  Maoists in the government. As opposition, we will check Maoist attempts to impose their authoritarianism on all state organs.”

He also urged the two major coalition partners in the Maoist-led government– CPN-UML and Madhesi People’s Rights Forum (MPRF)– to play a proactive role inside the government and democratize the Maoists.

The CWC meeting, however, concluded that CPN-UML and MPRF had failed to judge the possible situation and could not show maturity and farsightedness while deciding to join the Maoist-led government.

NC has held the Maoists responsible for breaching past agreements to form a government based on national consensus and politics of unity and collaboration.

Urging Maoists to translate the letter and spirit of past pacts and understandings into practice immediately,  NC has strongly opposed the idea of reintegrating “politically indoctrinated” Maoist combatants in Nepal Army, police and other security agencies. It said this would adversely impact their professionalism and impartiality. NC also urged the Maoist-led government not to politicize the bureaucracy, judiciary and security forces, and said any attempt to interfere in such state organs would not be acceptable to the party.

NC, however, vowed to play a constructive role in facilitating the CA to write a new democratic constitution for the sake of people’s sovereignty, constitutional supremacy, territorial integrity, human rights and freedom of expression, and to bring the peace process to a logical end. The party also decided to collaborate with all democratic and progressive forces in and outside the CA.

The party  has also decided to form two panels comprising experts to draft the party’s views on federalism, restructuring of the state and writing a new constitution.

Acting President Sushil Koirala said, “We will support and oppose the Maoist-led government based on its merits and demerits.”

Replying to a query, spokesperson KC said the NC would not be involved in toppling the government but “it would remain an alternative force”.

It has also decided to launch nationwide campaign to strengthen the party’s organizations.

Ultra-leftist Maoist rebel fighters to be integrated into Nepalese army

AFP | Sep 10, 2008

KATHMANDU (AFP) — Thousands of Maoist fighters confined to camps as part of Nepal’s peace deal are to be integrated into the national army within six months, the country’s new president said Wednesday.

In a speech outlining the policies of the recently formed Maoist government, President Ram Baran Yadav also said the ultra-leftists were in favour of private enterprise and would only implement carefully considered land reforms.

“The integration and rehabilitation of People’s Liberation Army will be completed within next six months to take the peace process to a logical conclusion,” the president said in a speech.

Around 19,000 former Maoist fighters have been staying in United Nations-monitored camps since a 2006 peace deal that ended a decade of civil war and led to the abolition of the monarchy in May this year.

The Maoists went on to win elections and form a government — with ex-rebel leader Prachanda appointed prime minister — but still need to resolve the issue of what to do with their hardened fighters.

President Yadav said that the government will concentrate on “bringing economic and social transformation” to the Himalayan nation and one of the world’s poorest countries.

“The government will encourage public-private partnership for economic and infrastructure development and a high-level, scientific land reforms commission will be established to bring changes in the agriculture sector,” Yadav said.

“Private investment will be encouraged to promote and develop the industrial sector, and employment opportunities will be created within the country to end the trend of people going abroad for jobs in the years ahead,” he said.

The Maoists have promised a radical reform agenda, but in recent months have shown signs they would be a cautious and considered approach to policy.

Israeli Mossad may kidnap Iranian president

Mossad may consider a kidnap attempt against Mahmoud Ahmedinejad

The Times | Sep 10, 2008

By James Hider in Jerusalem

Israel’s secret service could abduct Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran’s virulently anti-Israeli president, and deliver him to the International Criminal Court to face charges of incitement to genocide, one of the Jewish state’s most renowned former agents has suggested.

Rafi Eitan, a top former Mossad operative who oversaw the abduction of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Argentina in 1960, said the spy organisation could mete out similar treatment to the Iranian leader, who has called for Israel to be “wiped off the map” in the past, and who is currently suspected by Israel of developing a nuclear arsenal.

Now holding a post in the country’s security cabinet, the 81-year-old said that, while the days of hunting down Nazis may be over, the same tactics could be maintained for the Jewish state’s current worst enemies.

“It could very well be that a leader such as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suddenly finds himself before the International Criminal Court in The Hague,” Mr Eitan, who is currently minister for pensioners’ affairs, told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine.

Asked if kidnapping was acceptable, Mr Eitan said, “Yes. Any way to bring him for trial in The Hague is a possibility…Those who spread poison and want to eradicate another people have to expect such consequences.”

Mr Eitan headed the Mossad team that tracked down Eichmann, one of the main engineers of the Nazi regime’s genocide against European Jewry, and arranged for him to be kidnapped from his hideout in Argentina and secretly brought to Israel, where he was tried and hanged.

He revealed last week that his Mossad team had concentrated their hunt on Eichmann even though news of his capture allowed the equally notorious Josef Mengele, a doctor who carried out murderous experiments on live inmates in the Auschwitz death camp, to get away.

Israel has repeatedly warned that it has not ruled any measure out in dealing with a potentially nuclear-armed Iran, and in recent months has carried out practice bombing runs to weigh the possibility of a strike on Tehran’s nuclear facilities, as it did against Saddam Hussein’s fledgling nuclear plant almost 30 years ago.

Almost a year ago, Israeli bombers unexpectedly struck a suspect site in Syria, which is closely allied to Iran, blowing up a site without ever identifying exactly what had been destroyed. Speculation was rife that it had been a chemical or nuclear facility linked either to Iran or North Korea, although no proof was ever offered for either thesis.

Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president who visited Damascus last week, sent a clear message to Iran that he believed Israel’s threats of a pre-emptive strike were far from hollow. “Iran is taking a major risk by continuing the process of seeking nuclear technology for military ends, because one day, no matter which Israeli government is in power, one morning we will awake to find Israel has attacked,” he said.

Mr Eitan’s remarks suggested that a high-risk bombing raid may not be the only option Israel is weighing, although the Hague court has issued no warrant for the Iranian president’s arrest.

China marches past USA to stake claim to Iraqi oil

China has secured Baghdad’s first post-Saddam Hussein oil deal by reviving a 1997 concession to exploit reserves on the al-Ahdab field south of the capital.

Telegraph | Sep 7, 2008

By Damien McElroy in Acre, Iraq

The two countries are expected to formally sign an agreement later this month that will earn the state-controlled China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) a fixed price for every barrel it produces in Iraq.

While China opposed the Iraq war and stood back from post-war rebuilding, Beijing has quietly outflanked its global rivals to grab a large slice of Iraq’s oil industry. The pioneers of its overseas quest for fuel are already exploring vast tracts in the Kurdish north of the war-torn nation.

With an extensive foothold in the only part of the country where new oil wells have been built since 2003, Chinese firms are already believed to have more personnel than their American rivals.

America contested every step of China’s drive to expand its oil industry in central Asia and Africa for more than a decade, viewing the push overseas as a boost for Beijing’s diplomatic standing.

Beijing’s success in the latest battleground represents a double blow for Washington whose troops are still fighting daily for Iraq’s security. With the return of stability, Baghdad hopes that its output can triple to six million barrels per day.

The latest Chinese outpost on the ground is a mountain camp pitched 1,400 metres above sea-level by CNPC, which has signed a contract to conduct the exploration of a 44 x 12 mile tract. The sensitivity of the Chinese presence is betrayed by the camp’s heavy fortifications. It is overlooked by watchtowers and surrounded by a square earth berm.

Scientists in the 100-strong team only leave to conduct surveys in heavily-armed convoys. Fierce-looking members of the Surchi, a notorious local tribe, stand guard at the gate.

The chief CNPC geologist at the site, Chao Shu-he exudes a missionary zeal. “The Chinese have opened the door to co-operation,” said Mr Chao. “China is more and more developed and it’s our patriotic duty to contribute to development, even if we are far from home.”

Oil executives complain that China is the only big country prepared to work in Iraq. DNO, a Norwegian firm that produces 10,000 barrels a day in Kurdistan, said it solicited “dozens” of well-known firms before signing a drilling contract with another Chinese firm, Great Wall Drilling.
“The Chinese are strong in service contracts but not in exploration rights,” said Asti Hawrami, the Kurdish oil minister. “They are not taking on the risks but they are playing a strong, important role in the industry.”

“China wants security of oil supply but they also want a finger in every pie,” said Paul Stevens, an expert at Chatham House. “The Chinese now sit like death’s head at the feast, waiting for the slightest chance to get into Iraq.”

Clifford Chance, the international law firm, reported last month that up to 30 billion barrels of oil lies beneath the Kurdish territories, where fire worship around the pools of crude at the surface has a long tradition.

Such estimates have drawn a rush of wildcat firms but, because of a political dispute between the regional government and Baghdad, big American and British oil firms are notably absent.

Western majors have been warned off by threats from Hussein al-Shahristani, the Baghdad oil minister, to blackball firms seeking production in the north. However that injunction does not appear to have applied to CNPC.

As the American military presence in Iraq shrinks, the al-Ahdab deal is one of a host of signs that Beijing is well-placed to rival US ties to post-war Iraq.

An affinity with Chairman Mao Zedong, a leader who killed 10 times as many as the vilified Saddam, drew President Jalal Talabani to China last year. But when President Talabani paid $100 million for Chinese-made Kalashnikov rifles, America was so displeased it sent all Iraqi security forces on a training programme to use US M4 rifles.

French president Sarkozy’s showbiz friend says 9/11 was an inside job

Jean-Marie Bigard as 007. Sarkozy took him to meet the Pope last year.

One of France’s most successful stand-up comedians and a close friend of President Nicolas Sarkozy has sparked outrage by becoming the latest French star to question the official account of the September 11 attacks.

Telegraph | Sep 9, 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy friend says 9/11 was a lie

By Henry Samuel in Paris

In an embarrassment to the French President, and with just two days to go before the seventh anniversary of the deadly terrorist strikes, Jean-Marie Bigard – a member of Mr Sarkozy’s inner circle of showbiz friends – said the official version was a “lie”.

“We are now absolutely certain that these two planes – the one that supposedly fell into a forest (flight 93 in Pennsylvania) and onto the Pentagon don’t exist… those planes are still flying.

“It’s an enormous lie,” he told Europe 1 radio.

“It’s an American missile that hit the Pentagon, they provoked it themselves, they killed fellow Americans.

“Usually one learns of these things 30 years afterwards. We know it now,” he went on.

Mr Bigard, who has staged shows to a full house in Paris’ football stadium, le Stade de France, added: “We are beginning to seriously consider that neither Ben Laden nor al Qaeda were responsible for September 11.”

He cited the controversial 2002 bestseller L’Effroyable Imposture (The Big Lie) by Frenchman Thierry Meyssan, which claimed the Pentagon crash was a “fake”, as well as the hit internet conspiracy film Loose Change.

His comments were condemned as “grotesque” by former French foreign minister Hubert Védrine. “There will always be people who believe that things are being hidden from them, that everything is being hidden from them,” he said.

Europe 1 has issued an apology but Mr Bigard said he stood by his words. The crude and scatological comic, whose humour travels poorly, was one of several celebrity friends Mr Sarkozy took with him to meet the Pope late last year, as he is a devout Catholic.

He is the second French star to accuse America of fabricating the 9/11 attacks.

In March, the Oscar-winning French actress Marion Cotillard angered Americans with a similar conspiracy theory on a chat show.

The 32-year-old, who won a BAFTA award for her portrayal of Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose, had said that the US regularly lied about major events, up to and including the terrorist attacks on New York.

“I think we’re lied to about a number of things,” he said, even claiming the Americans had destroyed the Twin Towers themselves because they were an outdated “money sucker”.

Expanding her conspiracy theory, Miss Cotillard said it would be “a lot more expensive” to rebuild the towers “which is why they were destroyed,” with the loss of thousands of American lives.

She later was forced into an embarrassing climb-down, with her lawyer saying she “never intended to contest nor question the attacks of September 11, 2001,” and that her remarks were taken out of context.

“It is almost impossible to fight against this phenomenon,” conspiracy theory specialist Pascal Froissart told Le Parisien. “Because the fact of denying it spreads the rumour even further.”

Italy’s senior politicians voice sympathy with fascist era of Benito Mussolini

Fascist dictator Mussolini rallying the masses. Hundreds of Italian soldiers and civilians died in September 1943

Two of Italy’s most senior politicians have sparked a debate about the country’s dark past and uncertain future after voicing sympathy for the fascist era of Benito Mussolini.

Telegraph | Sep 9, 2008

By Nick Squires in Rome

The combative right-wing mayor of Rome refused to condemn fascism as evil, while the country’s defence minister paid homage to fascist troops who fought with the Nazis in resisting the Anglo-American landings of World War II.

The minister, Ignazio La Russa, was speaking at an event marking the 65th anniversary of Rome’s resistance to Nazi occupation in 1943 and the role played by anti-fascist partisans.

But he also recalled the “Nembo” parachute division from Mussolini’s fascist “Salo Republic” who fought alongside the Germans against the Allies.

“I would betray my conscience if I did not recall that other men in uniform, such as the Nembo from the Italian Social Republic army, also, from their point of view, fought in the belief they were defending their country,” the minister said.

Hundreds of Italian soldiers and civilians died in September 1943, shortly after an armistice was signed between the Allies and Italy, attempting to stop the Germans from occupying Rome.

The inflammatory remarks, which were condemned by left-wing politicians, intensified a row over comments by Rome’s mayor, Gianni Alemanno, who said that while racial laws passed by Mussolini in 1938 were wrong, it would be too simplistic to condemn fascism as a whole, as an “absolute evil”.

“I don’t think so and I never thought so: fascism was a more complex phenomenon,” Mr Alemanno, 50, once the youth leader of a neo-fascist party, told the Corriere della Sera newspaper during a trip to Israel that included a stop at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

“Many people joined it in good faith, and I don’t feel like labelling them with that definition.”

Opposition MPs and Jewish community leaders accused the mayor of attempting to rewrite one of the darkest chapters of Italian history.

Walter Veltroni, an opposition leader and Mr Alemanno’s left-wing predecessor as mayor of Rome, said that in protest he would resign as head of a commission in charge of building a museum in Rome dedicated to victims of the Holocaust. He said he could no longer work for the commission because Mr Alemanno was also a member.

“Before the racial laws, fascism had erased the freedom of citizens who didn’t share its views. There was only one party in Parliament and unions had been destroyed,” said Mr Veltroni.

The president of Italy’s Jewish Communities, Renzo Gattegna, said it was hard to separate the evil of Mussolini’s anti-Semitic laws from that of the fascist regime itself.

An Italian survivor of Auschwitz, Piero Terracina, added: “Without fascism there wouldn’t have been any racial laws .(It was) a contagious disease.”

When Mr Alemanno won Rome’s council elections in April he become the capital’s first right-wing mayor since World War II.

His election, and that of media mogul Silvio Berlusconi as prime minister in the same month, sparked a debate over Italy’s lurch to the right, amid a climate of xenophobia, distrust of immigrants and panic over crime.

A prominent Catholic publication suggested last month that the ‘Bel Paese’ could be witnessing a rebirth of fascism.

Since coming to power five months ago, Mr Alemanno has promised to crack down on crime, expel 20,000 illegal immigrants and raze 85 shanty camps inhabited by Romanian gypsies around the capital.

Once the youth leader of the neo-fascist Italian Social Movement, he is now a member of the National Alliance, a key ally in Mr Berlusconi’s government.

He was arrested in his youth for hurling a Molotov cocktail at the Soviet embassy in Rome, though later acquitted. He courts controversy by wearing around his neck a Celtic cross, in Italy a symbol of the far right.
Supporters insist that he has evolved from young fascist firebrand to mature centre-right conservative, and Mr Alemanno said earlier this year that he is tired of the “continuing search for [my] dark side”.

But his election in April was greeted by crowds of supporters, among them skinheads, who chanted “Duce! Duce!” and raised their arms in a fascist salute – images which shocked many in Italy and abroad.