Cheney Aide In Georgia Just Before Conflict

The LA Times which reveals this is at pains to promote the official version as to why he was there-

What was a top national security aide to Vice President Dick Cheney doing in Georgia shortly before Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili’s troops engaged in what became a disastrous fight with South Ossetian rebels — and then Russian troops?

But, the vice president’s office says, he was there as part of a team setting up the vice president’s just-announced visit to Georgia. (It is common for the White House to send security, policy, communications and press aides to each site the president and vice president will visit ahead of the trip, to begin making arrangements and planning the agenda.)

But does Wood typically go in advance of Cheney visits? (Which are claimed to have been long planned but there is absolutely no way of verifying that. Unless you want to take Cheney’s Office word for it). Because he often goes in place of the busy Dick, last year-

Mr. Joseph R. Wood, Vice President Dick Cheney’s Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs pays an official visit to Georgia. Four-member delegation of the United States of America led by Joseph R. Wood accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador visited the Ministry of Defence of Georgia today. Delegation members were received by the Minister of Defence of Georgia David Kezerashvili and Chief of Joint Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces Col. Zaza Gogava.

At the meeting the sides discussed Georgia’s contributions to Operation Iraqi Freedom, U.S. support of Georgia’s NATO membership and Georgia’s ongoing democratic reforms.

And earlier this year-

Deputy Assistant to the Vice President for National Security Affairs Joseph R. Wood will visit Lithuania January 17 – 18.  Mr. Wood is traveling to Vilnius to attend the Snow Summit and meet with Lithuanian government leaders to discuss bilateral issues.

So he’s been an emissary from Cheney, not simply an advance man for visits as the VPO claims to the LA Times. We do know the US knew of Saakashvili’s plans in advance as revealed by the US Ambassador to Moscow. Hmmm.

PS. Wood’s official biography- Read the rest of this entry »

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71 Dead

Not of military conflict but casualties of a constant economic war, but we should count them nonetheless-

As many as 71 illegal migrants drowned after their boat sank in the Mediterranean Sea, eight of their companions have told Maltese police. The survivors were rescued by a fishing vessel from a semi-submerged dinghy about 70km (40 miles) off Malta, then handed over to a Maltese military boat.

“Notwithstanding that they know about [previous] tragedies, these desperate people still try and make the journey to Europe,” Neil Falzon, a representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Malta, told the AFP news agency. Mr Falzon said that if the number of fatalities was confirmed, it would serve to highlight “the need for assistance to these people”.

In June, the European Parliament passed a controversial set of EU rules for dealing with illegal migrants, which allow those caught to be detained for up to 18 months and face a five-year re-entry ban. Lawmakers backed the measures by a large majority despite opposition from many Socialist and Green parties, and condemnation from human rights groups.

I’ve crossed out ‘illegal‘ because in part, as I wrote in a note to the BBC, territorial waters extend 12 miles, they were found 40 miles out so had not done anything illegal and they are not alive to make their case to be ‘legal‘ human beings. An action can be illegal but not a person, the term illegal migrant is a twisted pejorative we don’t need. The headline for the story is right Migrants feared drowned off Malta and that’s what they were, not ‘illegal‘ anything, that is term for governments use to dehumanise people, we should not reinforce that by repeating it. Will the survivors be jailed for a year and a half then deported in exile from the EU, that is the law as it now stands. Don’t be shy of telling your elected representatives what you think about that (politely).

theyworkforyou.com writetothem.com

Free Gaza Boats To Carry Students Out Of The Blockade

(GAZA CITY, 27 August 2008) – It was standing-room-only in Gaza City studios today as the Free Gaza Movement held a press conference to announce the departure of the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, and to reaffirm that 12-14 Palestinians who have previously been denied exit visas by Israel will be traveling to Cyprus on the two boats. Some of those leaving are students, with vaild visas or dual citizenship, who have been accepted to universities abroad. Additionally, one Palestinian professor will finally be able to go back to teaching in Europe, and one young, Palestinian woman will finally be reunited with her husband. Since the organizers of the Free Gaza Movement will not be entering Israeli territorial waters, and since they will request inspection from both the Gaza Port Authority before they depart as well as from Cypriot authorities when they arrive in Cyprus, they expect no interference on the part of the Israeli authorities when they leave Gaza. By Israel’s own admission, it has no authority to inspect the boats or the passengers when they leave Gaza. With the collapse of the Israeli blockade, the Free Gaza Movement will quickly return to Gaza with another delegation, and invites the United Nations, Arab League and international community to organize similar human rights and humanitarian efforts.

I think this is a brilliant step and a very practical extension of the mission. Previously the activists went fishing off the Gaza coast, doing a sort of floating international solidarity mission to provide witness and protection to Gaza’s fishing boats.

Twenty of us arrived at the port about 4:30, sleepy and stumbling about amid the dozens of security men standing there guarding us. We were told we’d have to wait, because the fishermen were afraid to go out to sea with us, uncertain whether they would be shot at or worse. Finally, four hours later, six boats showed up, and we boarded, two or three to a boat. The port is small but perfectly adequate for these boats plus our own two that were on the dock front to back. The media climbed into one of them, escorting us out.

All the Palestinians said they wanted to go our past the six mile limit. They were as eager as we were to test the noose hanging around their necks. At 8 miles, three Israeli patrol boats showed up, buzzing up and down in front of us, a man on a machine gun at the back of each one. The boat I was accompanying was owned by six cousins, the youngest 15, and they were, at first, nervous when the patrol boats showed up. I’m sure the Israelis were having a coronary wondering what to do with us, but they left us alone.

Loads more at FreeGaza.org

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The Best Little Whore House in Santa Cruz

Wherein a US Iraq War veteran armed and drunk is arrested in Santa Cruz’s finest brothel only hours after the US ambassador Philip Goldberg secretly meets with Prefect Ruben Costas -leader of the ‘breakaway’ movement and racist (his macaco moment) who is being used to destabilise Evo Morale’s administration (which only recently got a resounding approval in the polls). Drunky McArmed-Vet is then whisked out of custody under US diplomatic immunity and a (cover) story of the Ambassador meeting Costas to talk about the Special Olympics is released, no really.

News of the Restless:- The prefect of Santa Cruz, Ruben Costas, secretly met on Monday with the US ambassador to Bolivia, Philip Goldberg. The meeting comes nine days after Costas’s radical speech, in which he insulted President Evo Morales and announced a series of measures that skirt the edges of the constitution. Although there was no official mention of what the two discussed, the meeting occurred amid the beginning of the measures with which Costas and his colleagues of the so-called “Media Luna” region sought to put pressure on the Morales government, which was ratified with two-thirds of the popular vote at the polls (67.4%).

According to a report by the Gigavision network, the encounter took place in the Prefectural Palace, a location where the press was barred from entering.

The TV report informed that the Costas-Goldberg meeting went on for at least an hour and 30 minutes, and proved the encounter had taken place with images taken before and after.

Having been caught on camera Goldberg sez-

“I went to Santa Cruz for various reasons; to deliver aid packages, I was at the inauguration of the special Olympics with the Prefect (Ruben Costas), and I also showed via tele-info the aid in this sector and the aid given in computing. I also took advantage of this visit to meet, in public, with the prefect Costas, only because this is part of my diplomatic duties.”

Inca Kola News though-

…that thing about “public meeting” is total bull, as according to all sources they had a one-on-one private, closed door meeting that went on for an hour and a half and nobody but nobody was even let into the corridor that leads to the door they were behind. Are the Special Olympics such an interesting subject of conversation?

Then-

In the wee small hours of that same Monday/Tuesday, at 3:30am to be precise, a drunken man was arrested for causing a disturbance at a Santa Cruz nightclub. He barged his way in to the late night establishment (that’s Otto’s nice way of saying ‘whorehouse’, ok?) known as ‘Curris Internacional’ and started threatening both public and staff. When the police were called in and arrested him they found that;

  • His name is Gregory Gordon Michel
  • He is a US citizen
  • He is a member of the US military
  • He was carrying a loaded .45mm handgun with three spare clips
  • He was also carrying a folding police officer’s nightstick

He was taken to the local police station when just 30 minutes later a posse of his fellow citizens arrived, claimed Gregory Michel was protected by Diplomatic Immunity and spirited him away.

[ABI report here]

So..the US destabilising a Latin American country and using a separatist right wing (proto-facist) leader to do it while also having armed military in country under diplomatic protection…the War on Democracy continues apace. Pictures and more at Inca Kola News, News of the Restless, Abiding in Bolivia & BoRev.

Conventional Theatre

Some snapshots of the shindig in Denver. Roberto Lovato@ Of América

Today’s pre-Convention events here in Denver included a heavy dose of what has, since before 9-11, become a staple of coneventioneering: cops, paramilitaries and other displays of state power. I took the picture above while dining at Sam’s Diner downtown because it offers us a view into the cultural side of domestic militarism, how normal it is to sit within feet of several heavily-armed people in uniform.

I was especially taken at how the officer in the center of the picture looks like a little girl jumping out of her seat as the smiling waitress shows her a plate full of deserts. She might’ve jumped higher were it not for the weight of her thick revolver, her batons, her mace and other weapons she and others from among the thousands of police, secret service, FBI and other security agents attending the Convention wore. And though they weren’t wearing any of the ubiquitous red, white and blue plastic badges plastering chests all over this place, those wearing silver badges and paramilitary get-ups got VIP treatment as when those of us standing in line at Sam’s watched them cut in front of us on their way to eating cake.

Immigration: Too Hot for DNC?– Outside of the Pepsi Convention Center are hundreds of immigrant rights groups planning a major mobilization this Thursday – the day of Obama’s acceptance speech. They will protest what they believe is the unwillingness of Democrats and their Washington-based immigrant rights allies to seriously support what the press release of the March 25th Coalition calls “human legalization and a moratorium on raids and deportations.”

And ABC moaning about other corporations, so they must be different, hmmm-

abc news– Not even the emotionally charged speech by Sen. Ted Kennedy kept corporate lobbyists from carrying out their multi-million dollar campaign to wine and dine and influence Democratic lawmakers at a series of lavish parties last night in Denver. Nor did the speech by Sen. Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle. Dozens of private corporate parties continued through the convention hours, ABC News found. At one large party thrown by large financial institutions, including CitiGroup, Merrill Lynch and UBS, television monitors showed the speeches, but the audio was drowned out by a live jazz band.

Glenn Greenwald– Being in Denver has meant that I’ve been in the proximity of the herds of establishment media figures for the first time, to actually hear what they say and how they conduct themselves off camera, and it’s all exactly the same. The only topics they’re capable of thinking about are the same ones they chatter about on the TV — is Obama Making a Mistake by speaking in the stadium because the heartland Americans (who they know and understand so well) will think he’s too big for his britches? What Must Hillary Do? How will Michelle Play in the Bowling Alleys? To say it’s bereft of substance is to understate the case dramatically.

Ethan Persoff Boing Boing– My excuse for not having a photo is because just as I hit the shutter I swallowed in a gulp of pepper spray that misted through the air forcing me to recoil and lose the shot. But I’ll happily go in a court of law to say I saw a guy with no weapons run at a bunch of police, immediately get shot with rubber bullets, and then receive what looked very much like a pistol whipping. The sound of clattering metal billyclubs on the pavement, indicating missed shots, is something I don’t think I’ll ever forget either.

But there is an importance to this-

Nezua– Perhaps it is just the mood of the city’s residents anyway, or maybe it’s the day. But looking around at the people of color on the bus as well as those proudly sporting Obama buttons or hawking Obama t-shirts, I experience a sudden feeling of… hope. And happiness. And it has nothing to do with the Democratic Presidential Candidate’s placards or slogans. They are laughing with each other and the mood here is noticeably charged with joy. It’s probably my imagination, but I imagine It has to do with knowing that finally, people of color in this society can see themselves represented as something other than in positions of serving, savagery, or stupidity. Those of us who are not “white” — be it black, Asian, Latino, Native American and so on — suddenly feel our own positions shift, as the cultural map shifts.

How to Make NeoCons’ Heads Explode

Iran has played a crucial role in the success of the so-called Surge. The Iraqi army fought poorly against the militiamen of the Mehdi Army in March and April. It was Iran that mediated a ceasefire on the Baghdad government’s terms. It was Iran which pressured the Mehdi Army leader Muqtada al-Sadr to call his men off the streets. A prime reason why Iraq is not going to disintegrate is that Iran does not want it to. – Patrick Cockburn

Posted in Miscellaneous. Tags: , . 2 Comments »

Tribes

If they had not been white and were after Bush, would it be played down as ‘knuckleheads‘?

Inside his rental pickup truck, police found two rifles, including one with a scope; a bulletproof vest; boxes of ammunition; walkie-talkies; and suspected narcotics. Authorities then went to a local hotel to arrest an associate of Gartrell named Shawn Robert Adolf. Police arrested him after he jumped out of a sixth floor hotel window trying to avoid capture. Sources said Adolf was wearing a swastika and is thought to have ties to white supremacist organizations.

No.

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Oh Shit

Russia are doing the Kossova shuffle and recognising Ossetia and Abkhazia, and McCain is using Georgia in his campaign, this is not good. Lots of people in the break away regions seem to be pretty pleased but I wouldn’t bet on them staying that way. But culturally I find it appalling that the old guard cold warriors are seeing the chance to do it all over again. Even today there is evidence of the military industrial power that demands it’s pre-eminent entitlement to public wealth-

FT.com– Britain risks losing its influence abroad unless it makes defence a bigger priority, according to Mike Turner, BAE Systems’ chief executive. Mr Turner also warned that his company could be forced to consider leaving the UK if military spending ever declined below a “reasonable level”.

The chief executive, who retires on Friday after 42 years with BAE, told the Financial Times in a final interview that what he would miss least was “the bloody allegations”, a reference to the corruption claims surrounding the multibillion-pound contract to sell arms to Saudi Arabia that have dogged the company for the past four years and which BAE has consistently denied.

“They are annoying and I know it’s wrong; wrong for the company, for my employees and for the country,” Mr Turner said.

The 60-year-old, who has been chief executive of BAE, Britain’s largest defence contractor, for the past 6½ years, said Britain needed to give greater priority to defence or risk losing its “say in the world”.

“I’m very concerned that the politicians, and it’s up to the politicians to decide, are not giving the priority to defence that is needed,” he said.

“It’s right for the country to keep the Armed Forces strong, you get listened to in the world . . . It’s also good for jobs, for skills, for technology and for exports,” he said.

What was lacking, he said, was investment in future programmes, which was needed if the UK wanted to continue to “have say in the world”.

(ht2 Chicken Yoghurt)

There is a market incentive towards war, cold or otherwise, and as ‘free’ market capitalism dominates the planet woohoo, the future is going to be just fucking great. And please- ‘defence’, fuck that newspeak bullshit, it’s fucking arms & war spending you murderous kleptomaniacs. D’you think maybe late at night in this guys house (one of many) the walls run with blood and the moans of the dead and dying echo down the halls. But he doesn’t wake, a smile crosses his lips, his cock gets hard and he turns over and sleeps like a fucking baby.

Honduras Joins ALBA

Honduras is a member of a free trade pact between Central America and the United States. But President Manuel Zelaya, a logging magnate seen as a moderate liberal, has been drifting toward closer ties with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, a U.S. foe. On Monday, Honduras joined the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, which is based on complementary trade and cooperation instead of free-market competition.

Venezuela has used the pact and its oil wealth to expand its influence in the impoverished region. “All the energy that they need … in Honduras is assured for the next 100 years,” Chavez told a cheering crowd of about 50,000 people in the Honduran capital.

I guess the death squads and torture and Negroponte’s importance in the Bush regime didn’t endear the ‘backyard’ to their masters no more. If they hate Chavez’s influence they only have themselves to blame. Zelaya might only be in it for his own aggrandisement but the net result is once again the rightists who installed the torture regimes of the past who now also run in the Bush regime are being rejected. Good.

(ht2 BoRev)

Stupid People Use Lawyers

Phil @ A Very Public Sociologist is dead right about this-

Personally, I have very little time for the politics peddled on HP. Warmed over social democracy plus humanitarian imperialism plus trenchant Zionism do not suit my radical palate. But they have as much right to push their rubbish politics as any other blogger, regardless of how distasteful they can be at times. So down with the complaints, the writs and the threats of court action, and away with those of censorious intent. If you’re stupid enough to make the kind of mistake Jenna Delich did, then you should take the blowback on the chin, not scrabble around for a lawyer’s latter.

As far as I can see Ms. Delich used/passed on a link to David Duke’s site, his name was in the url! I am not a fan of the Israel right or wrong position but if your opposition to the policies of the state of Israel encompass neo-Nazi scumbag retards then you need to ask yourself some very hard questions about personal anti-Semitism. Even as a simple mistake it really doesn’t pass muster, to even bother reading those sites suggests a lack of awareness of the white supremacist movement and that really is dreadful ignorance at best, at worst, well that kind of opposition is worthless as it is based in prejudice. Principled opposition to Israel’s policies involve in part opposition to racism and that anti-racism applies just as equally to racists who hate Jews but clothe it in objections to Israel. Every person who is critical of Israel has to be keenly aware that others might base that criticism in bigotry and so a due diligence is necessary to make sure those racists have absolutely no part in your politics. You can’t fight one kind of racism with another.

I’m sure Harry’s Place were gleefully making hay from the link, but it is something to justifiably make note of, having them shut down is wrong. After all a handful of witless buffoons will have to find something to fill their pointless lives with while it is down, innocent members of the public risk being accosted by an HP reader in need of idiot conversation, no one deserves that. Won’t someone think of the children!

Remember It’s ‘Counter Terrorism’ NOT Propaganda!

I love that they call it a ‘brand’-

A Whitehall counter-terrorism unit is targeting the BBC and other media organisations as part of a new global propaganda push designed to “taint the al-Qaida brand”, according to a secret Home Office paper seen by the Guardian.

The document also shows that Whitehall counter-terrorism experts intend to exploit new media websites and outlets with a proposal to “channel messages through volunteers in internet forums” as part of their campaign.

The strategy is being conducted by the research, information and communication unit, [RICU] which was set up last year by the then home secretary, John Reid, to counter al-Qaida propaganda at home and overseas. It is staffed by officials from several government departments.

The report, headed, Challenging violent extremist ideology through communications, says: “We are pushing this material to UK media channels, eg a BBC radio programme exposing tensions between AQ leadership and supporters. And a restricted working group will communicate niche messages through media and non-media.”

The disclosure that a Whitehall counter-terrorism propaganda operation is promoting material to the BBC and other media will raise fresh concerns about official news management in a highly sensitive area.

The government campaign is based upon the premise that al-Qaida is waning worldwide and can appear vulnerable on issues such as declining popularity; its rejection by credible figures, especially religious ones, and details of atrocities.

The Whitehall propaganda unit is collecting material to target these vulnerabilities under three themes. They are that al-Qaida is losing support; “they are not heroes and don’t have answers; and that they harm you, your country and your livelihood”.

The RICU guidance, dated July 21 2008, says that the material is primarily aimed at “overseas communicators” in embassies and consulates around the world, confirming the global scale of the Whitehall counter-terrorist propaganda effort now underway.

But it also says that other partners should be encouraged to integrate this work into their communications at home as well: “It is aimed primarily (but not exclusively) at those working with overseas influencers and opinion formers.”

<…>

The RICU guidance note says the dossier has been drafted with support from Whitehall press officers “on how best to tailor such material for media engagements, presenting information to ministers, or to other stakeholders. It is in a separate, unclassified format to make it the sort of product that a minister or a press officer could use before an interview; or that could be given as a crib sheet for trusted contacts,” says the classified document.

And ‘trusted contacts’, not shills or anything like that, guaranteed first in the queue is Con ‘man’ Coughlin.  I wonder what they will classify as eveel terrorist propaganda they have to counter, with their record I’m sure they can be trusted… he was wearing a bulky jacket, the wars are not a factor in domestic bombings, they were Taliban not a wedding party, BAE must not be prosecuted, he had WMD’s! Also -exploit new media websites and outlets with a proposal to “channel messages through volunteers in internet forums- govt sponsored trolls? So the report from last week where the common factor was ‘low grade‘ jobs, nah sod that, let’s spend more money on spin, holiday villas don’t buy themselves people! Here’s the rub ‘details of atrocities.’ they must use propaganda and marketing because they do not intend on stopping their atrocities, they have nothing to fall back on but shifty persuasion like used car dealers because the example they lead by is far bloodier than the disparate franchise bogeyman AQ have ever managed. And then -In a section headed “AQ has suffered military defeat in …” it adds “use advisedly – avoid suggesting that AQ is no longer a threat. We are not claiming victory over AQ. We are stressing their declining support”.- Yep, the bogeyman that keeps on giving.

329 Extrajudicial Killings by the Colombian Authorities in ’07

This was mentioned at BoRev over the weekend, this is the regime Uribe runs and is enthusiastically backed by the US and UK governments (and Alex James of Blur bass playing fame, he now lives in a house a very big house in the etc.)-

The number of civilians killed by the Colombian armed forces has soared, activist groups allege, with many of the abuses committed by army units that had been vetted by the State Department. There were 329 so-called extrajudicial killings by the Colombian military and police last year, a coalition of Colombian rights groups asserts in a report, a 48% increase from the 223 reported in 2006.

There is a correction in the LA Times article which is-

Colombia abuses: An article in Thursday’s Section A on human rights abuses by Colombia’s armed forces said that a report by rights advocates alleged that as of June 2007, Colombian military courts had won only four convictions in more than 900 cases of alleged murder involving uniformed soldiers and police. The article should have included the following sentence: “A Colombian Defense Ministry official said that since the formation of a special prosecutor’s office in mid-2007 to investigate alleged killings of civilians, 14 soldiers and police officers have been convicted in connection with those killings.”

Woohoo 14! Well that’s virtually solved then!

The Colombian Commission of Jurists, a Bogota-based civil society group that is responsible for verifying many of the deaths, said last week that a significant number of killings of civilians by the armed forces had been reported so far in 2008 in five Colombian states, but provided no precise numbers. A separate analysis of last year’s killings by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, a New York-based peace group, alleges that 47% of the homicides were committed by army units that had been scrutinized in 2006 or 2007 by the State Department, which determined that they had complied with human rights requirements, making them eligible for U.S. military aid and training.

I’m guessing those human rights requirements are-

  1. Don’t get caught.
  2. The End.

BoRev crunches the figures-

the body count is roughly half the size of the Tienanmen Square massacre, which froze relations between China and the U.S. for a decade. It’s about on par with My Lai, and larger than Wounded Knee, Tlatelolco, or the Madrid train bombings. We’re talking 13 Bloody Sundays, 36 Manson families, or 82 Kent States. It’s more than double the death count at Dujail, which is what Saddam Hussein was tried and executed for. In other words…let’s see how did the New York Times put it?…”he will be remembered as the leader who brought Colombia back from the brink and onto a path toward peace.”

Which really takes us back to the previous Dominion post:– An interesting thought experiment I suggest doing is- look at the present day status, look at the countries with no or very low US military presence (like ‘advisers’) then think about how those countries are portrayed in the media…

I’m Great Me

I was a bit unsure what to do with award-y type meme things but as I now have a whopping 2 it’s perhaps ungrateful to remain so stiff upper lippy, so thanks to Naj for a Kick Ass Blogger and to Korova from ages ago for a Thinking Blogger both of which I will make a place down a sidebar for and I think they will fit under the title- Peer Approval. Now as to the rules and chain letter passing on of these things…hmm bit suspicious of that plus I don’t want to leave good people out. It is a conundrum. Thinking…

Dominion

Mother Jones has an interactive clickable map of US military presence from 1950 to the present day. An interesting thought experiment I suggest doing is- look at the present day status, look at the countries with no or very low US military presence (like ‘advisers’) then think about how those countries are portrayed in the media…

[click to embiggen]

(ht2 Boing Boing)

And I can’t resist… Dominion!

PS. And I suppose A Slight Case of Overbombing does apply.

Posted in Imperialism, Media. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Burma To Square One

The UN process being seen to be useless is now no longer being cooperated with by the opposition, compounded with Nargis and the Olympics passing without China being unduly embarrassed and the refusal of large corporations (Total, Chevron/Texaco) to halt regime enriching business while politician’s condemned the junta but not their corporate allies, have meant the Generals have clung on to power.

(IPS) – A United Nations-led effort to push political reform in military-ruled Burma plunged to a humiliating low on the weekend, raising questions about the effectiveness of the world body’s special envoy to the country, Ibrahim Gambari.

This shift was conveyed in the way Aung San Suu Kyi, the detained pro-democracy leader, treated Gambari during his six-day mission, which ended on Aug. 23. She refused to see him on at least two occasions. It was a silence of Gandhian proportions for the Nobel Peace laureate and, for the U.N. envoy, an unprecedented snub.

Deprived, as a result, was the photo opportunity that Gambari had used after his three previous visits to Burma, over the past year, to give the impression that he was making headway with Suu Kyi in paving the road for political reform. The images of the Nigerian diplomat posing with the 63-year-old Suu Kyi, who has spent over 13 of the past 18 years under house arrest, suggested she had confidence in the U.N.

But a scene outside the Rangoon home of Suu Kyi on Friday morning confirmed that Gambari’s luck had run out. The leader of the opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) party refused to open the gates of her rambling colonial mansion to two of Gambari’s representatives who had come to invite her for a meeting, after she had turned down an invitation at a state guest house 48 hours before. Read the rest of this entry »

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