Yemen Circling The Drain

Okay, Yemen was already pretty much circling the drain. But now the Yemeni government, that was marginally helping us in the war against al Qaeda and radical Islam, is under pressure. Who knows what manner of government might come to power if the current one falls?

Massive protests erupt in Yemen to demand ouster of president

Around 15,000 protesters took to streets in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa on Thursday, calling for the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

“People want to change the regime, want the president to leave, ” protesters uproared with pink belts wrapped around their heads, which symbolized freedom, waving pink flags together in the largest public rallies organized by the opposition parties in four areas in the capital.

The protesters are mainly university students, opposition party members and supporters, as well as some workers and the unemployed, mostly of whom complained about unemployment and poverty.

“We are sending our message today to the president and his government that we demand improving living conditions, combating corruption as well as political reform. We want better future for our children,” a protester from the opposition Islamist Islah party told Xinhua.

See also:
Yemen protesters demand change of government
Now, people’s power sets off tremors in Yemen
Political Unrest Spreads as Yemeni Protesters Rally against Long-time Ruler
Thousands in Yemeni capital protest regime
Thousands of protesters urge Yemeni President Saleh to resign
Thousands march in capital in support of reforms
Thousands of Yemenis demand change in government
Sporadic Protests Continue in Egypt as Protest Movement Spreads to Yemen
Yemen protests: Thousands call on president to leave
Yemen protests: ‘People are fed up with corruption’
Canada urges Yemen to allow ‘freedom of expression’
Yemen president slams Al-Jazeera TV by phone call with Qatar Emir
US backs Yemeni right to protest

Let’s see, the pro-Western governments of Pakistan, Lebanon, Tunisia, Egypt, and now Yemen, have all been toppled or are under extreme pressure from opposition groups looking to overthrow the current regimes. And what’s Obama’s response? He’s throwing them all under the bus by encouraging the opposition protests under the guise of “freedom of expression”. Doesn’t Obama realize that the world could end up with a whole slew of new, anti-Western, Islamic governments? Wouldn’t that be fun?

/Obama is really naive and stupid or he actually approves of the possibility of a bunch of new, anti-Western, Islamic governments, either way, it’s extremely unsettling, remember, Obama didn’t lift a finger to help or utter a peep of support when the mass protests were against the Islamic regime in Iran

What’s Baby Doc Up To?

What was he thinking? Why did he come back to Haiti? He had to know this was going to happen.

Haiti’s Duvalier Charged With Corruption

Haitian police escorted former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier from a luxury hotel in Port-au-Prince Tuesday, two days after Duvalier’s surprise return to the country after nearly 25 years in exile.

Authorities in Haiti have charged former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier with corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds, two days after he made an unexpected return to his homeland after 25 years in exile in France.

Duvalier, who was not wearing handcuffs, waved to a crowd that had assembled outside the Hotel Karibe as police led him to a waiting car Tuesday.

See also:
Baby Doc Charged, but Duvalier Still Has Fans
‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier in limbo as Haiti closes in on frozen funds
Former Haiti Dictator Charged With Corruption
Jean-Claude Duvalier charged with theft over 15-year rule
Haiti – Duvalier : Complaints filed against “Baby Doc” for crimes against humanity
Return of the dictator
A nightmare returns to Haiti
Baby Doc charges come too late: lawyer
‘Baby Doc’ accused of torture and abuse
Four sue ‘Baby Doc’ for torture, detention
U.S. says Duvalier’s fate up to Haitian government
Aristide wants to return home
Lawyer: Haiti mum on Aristide passport request
Jean-Claude Duvalier

It’s almost inconceivable that Baby Doc Duvalier would return to Haiti, knowing he would face serious charges, without an intention on entering politics again and/or seizing power. It’s amazing that Haiti even let him back in the country. And now Jean-Bertrand Aristide wants to return to Haiti too? What, is there a deposed despot convention in Port-au-Prince or something?

/these developments don’t bode well for Haiti’s future and Haiti’s present is already an ongoing day to day disaster

Tunisia Circling The Drain

First the government of Pakistan breaks down, then the Lebanese government, and today, Tunisia’s government. See a pattern here? These are all Muslim countries and the toppled governments were all friendly to the United States.

Tunisians drive leader from power in mass uprising

Protesters enraged over soaring unemployment and corruption drove Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali from power Friday after 23 years of iron-fisted rule, an unprecedented popular uprising in a region dominated by strongmen who do not answer to their people.

Tunisians buoyant over Ben Ali’s ouster immediately worried, however, about what’s next: the caretaker leadership of the prime minister who took control, and the role of the army in the transition.

The upheaval took place after weeks of escalating unrest fueled partly by social media and cell phones, as thousands of demonstrators from all walks of life rejected Ben Ali’s promises of change and mobbed the capital of Tunis to demand his ouster in the country’s largest demonstrations in generations.

At least 23 people have been killed in the riots, according to the government, but opposition members put the death toll at more than three times that.

See also:
Tunisia: PM Takes Power Amid Deadly Riots
Exit Ben Ali – but can Tunisia change?
Tension Grips Tunisia’s Capital After Leader Flees
Tunisia in turmoil as President flees from the anger of the dispossessed
Tunisia: President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali forced out
Constitutional debate after Ben Ali
Arab activists hope Tunisia uprising brings change
Tunisia: a ‘wake-up call’ for Arab leaders
Patrick Cockburn: Troubles like these are brewing all over the Middle East
Al-Qaeda supports the events in Tunisia and Algeria
France did not prepare to welcome Tunisia’s Ben Ali: Foreign Ministry
Montreal eyes possible arrival of ex-Tunisian leader
Obama calls for free and fair Tunisia elections

That’s three governments in three Muslim countries in about as many weeks. How far will this trend spread and what government will be next to fall? It looks like we have a fast paced game of geopolitical dominoes going on here and it’s being played for keeps. And it could end up with Islamic interests being the eventual winners.

/it almost goes without saying that, chances are, the successor governments will be more hostile to the United States and Western interests

Let The Games Begin

Like it or not, here come the Republicans, armed with the House majority and subpoena power, ready to investigate the Obama administration and do what they can to roll back the last two years of economically destructive Democrat policies.

Incoming House GOP chairmen have a long list of issues to investigate

House Republican leaders announced plans Monday for congressional investigations into a wide range of issues, from corruption in Afghanistan to Washington’s regulation of private industries, using the power of their new majority to launch probes that could embarrass the Obama administration.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who will become chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee when the 112th Congress is sworn in Wednesday, said he would lead six major investigations in the first three months of the year. This is an ambitious undertaking by conventional standards, as congressional investigations often take months to bear fruit.

Issa, who will have power to subpoena government officials to appear before the committee, said he intended to conduct inquiries into the release of classified diplomatic cables by Wikileaks; recalls at the Food and Drug Administration; the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the foreclosure crisis; the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s failure to identify the origins of the meltdown; as well as business regulations and alleged corruption in Afghanistan.

Other incoming Republican committee chairmen are planning investigations into the Justice Department’s civil rights division, the radicalization of Muslims in the United States, homeland security grant money and air cargo and port and chemical plant security.

See also:
Issa targets ‘broken bureaucracy’
Darrell Issa asks business: Tell me what to change
Issa and Obama: At Odds, but Not at War
Movers and Shakers: Issa Predicts ‘Constant Battle’ With White House Over Economy
Issa to investigate government regulation, fiscal crisis, WikiLeaks
Issa Sets Sights on WikiLeaks, Government Regulation and Afghanistan for Future Hearings
Will GOP chairmen conduct meaningful oversight?
New GOP oversight chairman calls administration ‘corrupt’
GOPer calls Obama administration ‘corrupt’
What Darrell Issa Means When He Calls the White House “Corrupt”
Democrats tap top Obama lawyer to counter Darrell Issa
Upton may tackle global warming issue more quickly than Issa

After two years of Obama czars and recess appointments, incestuous Chicago and union cronyism, and a Democrat Congress running roughshod over the will of the American people, without any meaningful oversight, there’s a lot of corruption and political dirt that’s been swept under the rug. Now it’s time for some good old fashioned nose rubbing and public embarrassment. In other words, it’s payback time.

/pass the popcorn

Iran Plays Cash For Karzai

Could Hamid Karzai be any more corrupt? Iran arms the Taliban against Coalition forces and the Afghan army.

Karzai: We receive cash from Iran

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, has said that his office receives cash in bags from Iran.

The Afghan leader said on Monday that this method of aid distribution is transparent and helps cover government expenses. He also said that the US makes similar cash payments.

The comments came after a report on Sunday that Karzai’s chief of staff, Omar Dawoodzai, receives covert bagfuls of money – possibly as much as $6 million in a single payment – sent by neighbouring Iran in a bid to secure influence.

Karzai said the money was used for palace expenses, salaries and for “people outside,” but gave no further details.

The New York Times, citing an unnamed Afghan official, said that millions of dollars in cash channelled from Iran are used to pay Afghan parliamentarians, tribal elders and Taliban commanders.

US concern

Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, said world leaders should have “every reason to be concerned about Iran trying to have a negative influence on Afghanistan.”

He added Iran had a responsibility to exert “a positive influence on the formation of a government there, and to ensure that Afghanistan is not a country where terrorists can find safe harbour, or where attacks can be planned on their soil.”

Karzai said he gets money from several “friendly countries” but named only the US and Iran, the latter contributing almost $1 million twice per year. Karzai said he will continue to ask for Iranian money.

“The government of Iran assists (my) office with five or six or seven hundred thousand euros once or twice a year, which is official aid,” Karzai told reporters at a joint news conference in Kabul with visiting Tajik President Imomali Rakhmon.

See also:
Afghan president confirms large cash payments by Iranian officials
Karzai Says Iran, US Give Afghanistan ‘Bags Of Money’
Iran Is Said to Give Top Karzai Aide Cash by the Bagful
Karzai Admits Getting Cash From Iran
Hamid Karzai confirms Iranian cash
Karzai Says Iran Provides `Transparent’ Financial Aid in Euros or Dollars
White House says concerned about Iran’s “negative influence” on Afghanistan
US ‘concerned’ about Iran influence in Afghanistan
US ‘Skeptical’ of Iranian Motives in Cash Payments to Karzai Aides
Karzai’s bags of cash a conundrum for the U.S.
Karzai calls Iran payments to Afghanistan ‘normal’
Afghan President Karzai downplays cash from Iran; calls it ‘normal’
‘Let’s not make this an issue,’ says Karzai
Three Questions About Karzai Accepting Iranian Cash

The situation in Afghanistan gets more farcical by the day. Who the hell is the enemy, everybody?

/I’m getting to the point where I’m starting to think [expletive deleted] it, what’s the point of us even being there anymore?

The Mask Falls Off

It’s official. Obama hates the military and he’s not even trying to hide it anymore.

Obama’s War With the Pentagon

James Jones is out as national security adviser; Tom Donilon is in. What does it mean? Among other things, that we may be headed for one of the greatest civilian-military showdowns in decades.

If you haven’t read Bob Woodward or Jonathan Alter’s accounts of Obama administration Afghan policy, here are the CliffsNotes: Since the moment Obama took office, the military, led by David Petraeus, has been pushing for a full-on counterinsurgency effort. In other words, a lot of troops for a very long time. Obama, from the start, has resisted, raising awkward questions about why we’re expending massive amounts of blood and treasure in Afghanistan when Pakistan is the country that really matters. Vice President Biden has gone further, warning that given the mind-boggling corruption of Hamid Karzai’s regime, committing to an Afghan counterinsurgency war would be lunacy.

This policy struggle has not been waged according to the Marquis of Queensbury rules. The White House believes the military brass is blind to America’s crushing financial constraints and the public’s eroding support for the war. The military believes the White House cares more about domestic politics than national security. The White House believes the military keeps screwing the president by telling reporters and Republicans that we need more troops for a longer time, thus forcing Obama’s hand.

General Jones was chosen, in part, because Obama knew this fight was coming. He wanted someone who could communicate with the generals and keep them from knifing him in the back. Jones didn’t entirely succeed in that effort, which is one reason people in the White House never embraced him as one of their own. But if Jones was unable or unwilling to extinguish the flames of civil-military conflict, Donilon is the political equivalent of dousing them with gasoline.

See also:
Commander-in-Chief Obama Fights Pentagon
Tom Donilon’s Revolving Door
Departing National Security Adviser Leaves Mixed Reviews
A Political Hack and Fannie Mae Democrat
Hope is not a strategy: James Jones
10 reasons to be worried as Tom Donilon, Afghan war sceptic & desk-bound foe of US military, gets top foreign policy job
The declinists win
Gates in 2010: Donilon Would Be a “disaster” as National Security Adviser; Jones: Donilon Has “No Credibility With the Military”
Woodward: Gates Thinks Donilon A “Disaster”
Gates downplays quoted objection to Obama adviser

This move proves that if Obama could snap his fingers and eliminate the U.S. military, he would do so without hesitation.

/this does not bode well for our brave troops in harm’s way, fighting the Taliban is hard enough, they shouldn’t also have to fight their commander in chief

All In The Karzai Family

What are we fighting for again?

Corruption fighting, Afghanistan style

Just how corrupt is the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan? It should be clear by now that President Hamid Karzai doesn’t want us to know. He’d prefer that we just keep sending our troops and our dollars, and not ask too many questions.

Karzai’s government announced this week that American and allied advisers, dispatched to Kabul to help investigate massive and endemic graft, will no longer be allowed to do any actual investigating. Karzai’s chief of staff told The Post that the government is still determined to eliminate corruption, but intends to do so “within an Afghan framework.”

And what a framework it is. Karzai is evidently upset that foreign advisers helped build a case against one of his high-ranking aides, Mohammad Zia Salehi, who is charged with soliciting a bribe — $10,000 plus a new car — from a money-exchange firm. In return, according to the charges, Salehi was supposed to derail an investigation into allegations that the company, called New Ansari, had illegally shipped $3 billion in cash out of the country. Most of the funds ended up in Dubai, where many of the wealthy Afghan elite have settled.

Salehi was arrested, but Karzai intervened to have him released from jail just seven hours later. Karzai has said that the use of wiretaps to build the case against Salehi was a violation of “human rights principles.” I wonder what other standard investigative techniques don’t fit within the “Afghan framework.”

A serious, sustained probe of high-level Afghan corruption might hit even closer to home for Karzai and his family. His brother, Mahmoud Karzai, is one of the major shareholders in Kabul Bank, the nation’s largest financial institution, which almost collapsed this week amid allegations that it was essentially being looted by politically connected insiders. Mahmoud Karzai lives in what the Financial Times describes as a “beachside villa” in Dubai.

President Karzai’s half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is the most powerful political figure in the Kandahar region — and also, according to persistent allegations, a major player in Afghanistan’s illegal drug trade. He denies any involvement in the opium business, and Hamid Karzai vouches for him, so that’s that. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along.

See also:
U.S. effort to help Afghanistan fight corruption has complicated ties
Kabul Bank’s Dubai connection
The Karzai empire, villas in Dubai and fears over Afghan aid
Corruption Allegations Test Afghan Banking System
Karzai Family Ties Shielded Afghan Bank
Karzai’s brother made $1m from Dubai deal financed by Kabul Bank

Gee, we’re doing Karzai’s fighting for him while his whole family is picking our pockets.

/of course, a Taliban government would be worse but, apparently, not by much