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Friday, March 10, 2006
Terror in the Skies
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:48 am

The Onion? No, the AFP: Pakistan arrests 1,000 kite-flyers under terror laws

“Those flying kites with metal wire, nylon string or dangerous cord will be tried under anti-terrorism laws,” said Chaudhry Pervez Elahi, chief minister of Punjab province.

“We cannot allow people to play with the lives of ordinary citizens in the name of sports,” he said.

You have to admit: that’s quite a line.

In all seriousness, the ten deaths mentioned in the story are very sad, but anti-terror laws? The whole “dangerous string” business actually does sound like something that requires regulation-but this is just another example wherein the concept of “terrorism” is proving to be a tad too elastic.

Filed under: Global Politics, War on Terror | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Dubai Ports and “a United States Entity”
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 7:13 am

So, now the question becomes: what does it mean for Dubai Ports to transfer the contracts to a United States Entity?

Via the NewsHour: Dubai Ports Pledges to Transfer Ports to U.S. Entity

MARGARET WARNER So, Simon Romero, let me just — for our viewers, I will re-read the operative sentence, because there has been a lot of debate about what it means.

The — Senator Warner said, D.P. World will transfer fully the U.S. operations to a United States entity.

Now, does that sound like full divestiture of the U.S. portion of this deal?

SIMON ROMERO, The New York Times: Well, Margaret, it’s very hard to tell at this point, because, you know, there were reports earlier today that were saying that some private equity companies in the United States were interested in bidding for those U.S. assets.

But what — like you — exactly like the D.P. World statement says, they’re not saying that they are selling them. They are simply saying that they are transferring them. So, that could very well mean that they could create a legal entity that is based in the United States, that has American managers, and even an American board of directors, but could still be effectively controlled by — by Dubai.

It would seem to me that such a deal would be noticed in the current climate.

I will confess that when I heard the phrase “a United State entity” I figured it did not necessarily mean a US-owned company. The notion that DPW might try to still be indirectly involved did not occur to me.

And to my amusement (but then again, I didn’t get much sleep last night), Haliburton gets mentioned:

SIMON ROMERO

[…]

Halliburton, for example, has done something like this in Iran, where they operated for many years, up until recently. They simply operated those — those — you know, those Iranian operations out of an offshore entity. And that could be very well what — what the Dubai company is planning to do as well.

Filed under: US Politics, Global Politics, War on Terror | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Thursday, March 9, 2006
Retaliation from Dubai?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 4:44 pm

Via The Hill: Dubai threat to hit back

Dubai is threatening retaliation against American strategic and commercial interests if Washington blocks its $6.8 billion takeover of operations at several U.S. ports.

[…]

A source close to the deal said members of Dubai’s royal family are furious at the hostility both Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have shown toward the deal.

“They’re saying, ‘All we’ve done for you guys, all our purchases, we’ll stop it, we’ll just yank it,’” the source said.

Retaliation from the emirate could come against lucrative deals with aircraft maker Boeing and by curtailing the docking of hundreds of American ships, including U.S. Navy ships, each year at its port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the source added.

It is not clear how much of Dubai’s behind-the-scenes anger would be followed up by action, but Boeing has been made aware of the threat and is already reportedly lobbying to save the ports deal.

Some sort of response would not be surprising.

No doubt some of this is simple anger and frustration, not to mention politics. However, I still think that the foreign relations implications of the current over-reaction to Dubai Ports’ role in this situation by numerous members of congress could be quite negative.

h/t: Reader Chris V. via e-mail

Filed under: US Politics, Global Politics, War on Terror | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

All Things Beautiful linked with Dubai Ports, The Deal Is Dead
Ports Issue Becomes Moot
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 1:58 pm

Via WaPo: Dubai Port Company to Divest Itself of American Holdings

The United Arab Emirates company that was attempting to take over management operations at six U.S. ports announced today that it will divest itself of all American interests.

The announcement appears to head off a major confrontation that was brewing between Congress and the Bush administration over the controversial deal.

[…]

It was not immediately clear how the divesture would be handled or what U.S. company would take over the operation.

No doubt all the hysterical pols can now tell us that they saved us all from the Big Bad Dubai Ports Deal.

Filed under: US Politics, Global Politics, War on Terror | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Plea Bargain in Cali Cartel Case
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:06 pm

William Rodríguez Abadía, the son of Miguel Rodríguez Orejuela, one of the two main leaders of the Cali Cartel, has accepted a plea bargain in a Miami court, and will testify against his father, and his uncle, Gilberto Rodríguez Orejuela.

It should make for some intriguing testimony.

Rodríguez Abadía took over the operation of the Cali Cartel in 1995 when the Rodríguez Orejuela brothers were arrested.

Source: El Tiempo: William Rodríguez Abadía declarará contra su padre y su tío, jefes del cartel de Cali

Colombian Elections: Paramilitaries and Politics
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:26 am

Via the Miami Herald: Paramilarities’ control of candidates is feared

Eleonora Pineda, a 39-year old congresswoman seeking a second term in the coastal region of northern Colombia, said the president of the Democratic Colombia party, Mario Uribe, dropped her and a candidate for the Senate, Rocío Arias, after Mario Uribe met with U.S. Ambassador William Wood.

‘’He said I couldn’t be [a candidate] . . . because he had met with the ambassador and, more or less, he had felt that they were threatening to take away his [U.S.] visa,'’ she told The Miami Herald between campaign stops in the city of Monteria. Arias told The Miami Herald the same story.

[…]

Still, Pineda and Arias have been viewed as ad-hoc representatives of the paramilitaries for years.

The two were the most vocal supporters of a controversial amnesty law that paves the way for paramilitary commanders to spend minimal time in jail for any crimes they committed, and they are adamantly against extraditing paramilitaries suspected of drug trafficking to the United States.

Pineda’s home is in Santa Fe de Ralito, the small town where the government created a safe haven for paramilitary leaders while the peace talks go on.

Leftist guerrillas, she says, killed her grandfather, father and brother.

Part of Arias’ political movement included a former high-level paramilitary commander who had demobilized. The revelation in the media forced that candidate, Jovani Marín, to withdraw from the race.

This all raises a remarkably tricky question (and balancing act): should armed actors be coaxed into the electoral realm, even if they do not fully renounce arms, or should the policy be one of zero tolerance for even links to armed actors?

On one level it may seem a simple question, but is it?

In short: do connections between armed groups and electoral politics ultimately liberalize violent actors, or do violent actors ultimately subvert the broader electoral process? Certainly the preference would be for arms to wholly removed form politics, but if one is dealing with a situation where the reality of political violence is unavoidably entrenched, how does one deal with that violence, especially if direct military defeat is elusive, if not impossible?

Such questions resonate beyond Colombia, to places like Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here

PoliBlog: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on Colombian Elections and Paramilitaries linked with [...] ongressional elections seem to be the story of this election year. I noted a Miami Herald yesterday, here’s more from the CSM: Paramilitaries still sway Colombian votes despite the progress on [...]
The Same Subject Continued
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:06 am

Writes James Joyner at OTB

The irony, though, is that Republicans and Democrats are uniting here to make political hay out of what was probably the right decision on part of the president, all in the name of port security. Yet, shamefully, neither the White House nor the Congress is actually doing anything about real security issues at our ports.

Indeed. Regular readers know that I have been critical of the President of late, and do think that he and the administration have handled the politics of this situation very poorly, but based on what information I have, it would seem that the President is on the right side of this. Further, I think that if this deal dies for the primary reason that Dubai is an Arab country, then there will be negative consequences for our relations with Arab states in general, and therefore could be a detriment to US security policy.

Also: since we should want to encourage increased economic ties with Arab states, so as to hopefully foster liberalization and overall improved relations, it would be a shame for this deal to die because of political posturing.

Filed under: US Politics, Global Politics, War on Terror | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Wednesday, March 8, 2006
Rice to Meet With Morales
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 9:40 pm

Via Reuters: Rice to meet Bolivia’s Morales

“I have asked that the meeting deal fundamentally with economic matters,” Morales told reporters, saying it would take place this weekend in Chile, where both he and Rice are due to attend Michelle Bachelet’s inauguration as Chilean president.

Morales — who has called Rice ‘The Condoleezza’ — added that the agenda included preferential trade tariffs and global poverty-eradication goals. Bolivia is South America’s poorest nation and the United States is its top aid donor.

Along with fellow Andean countries, Bolivia receives preferential trade tariffs from the United States as long as it cooperates in the war on drug-trafficking. But that deal expires at the end of the year and Bolivia has not taken part in free-trade negotiations with Washington.

Filed under: US Politics, Global Politics, Latin America | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Seventy Members of the FARC Lay Down Arms
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 12:04 pm

Via Reuters: Colombia rebels defect, hand in arms to government

Seventy members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia handed in their arms and light aircraft to the government on Tuesday in the biggest rebel defection since President Alvaro Uribe took office in 2002.

[…]

The rebels handed in 63 weapons and an Aerocommander propeller aircraft they used to traffic weapons and narcotics, he said, adding that the FARC had bought the plane during failed peace talks with the previous government of President Andres Pastrana.

An initial response may be that 70 isn’t very many, and I suppose that it isn’t. However, given that only 53 members of the FARC have gone to the government to quit their fight since 2003, this is a rather significant number.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Purple Fingers are All the Rage
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 10:09 am

I can’t read the print, so am not sure if this a government poster or a graphic from the newspaper.

The context is the upcoming (3/12) congressional elections in Colombia.

Via El Tiempo

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, Elections | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Monday, March 6, 2006
Electioneering, FARC Style
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 5:17 pm

Colombian rebels kill three, try to sway voters

Colombian rebels killed three civilians with a bomb intended for soldiers on Monday, the latest in a series of attacks President Alvaro Uribe called a “cowardly” attempt to erode his support ahead of elections.

The bomb blew up a house, killing a 8-year-old boy and two women nearby and injuring three soldiers in the southern jungle province of Caqueta. The blast came a day after the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, made another electoral gambit by agreeing to a request from an opposition politician to release hostages.

The candidate in question is at .2% in the polls, so hardly likely to gain much by the gesture.

In general, this is senseless:

“These massacres appear timed to spread terror before the elections and undermine the democratic process,” Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, said in a statement on Monday. “The FARC has once again displayed complete disregard for the lives of the people it claims to represent.”

Indeed-and a point I frequently make.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, Elections | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
Amensty Issues Report on Prisons in Iraq
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 6:14 am

Via the BBC: Amnesty says Iraq abuses continue

Amnesty International has said that thousands of detainees held by the multinational forces in Iraq are still being denied their basic rights.

This is a legitimate and important concern:

The report says the multinational forces and Iraqi authorities must take urgent steps to stop human rights abuses if there is to be any hope of halting Iraq’s slide towards increasing violence and sectarianism.

The unnecessary detention of Iraqis by coalition forces has the very real, very dangerous potential effect of radicalization those detained, along with their friends and family. As such, numbers such as the following are troubling and problematic:

More than 200 detainees have been imprisoned for more than two years and nearly 4,000 for over a year, it reports.

“To hold this huge number of people without basic legal safeguards is a gross dereliction of responsibility on the part of both the US and UK forces,” said its UK director, Kate Allen

The response of many will be that this is war, and such processes are difficult to implement in such a context. However, I would respond again that if the goal here is democratization—the teaching of liberal governance-then a special effort should have been made from the beginning to take extra special care in this area.

The treatment of war-related prisoners was a chance to help teach key lessons about how the new government could and would be better than the old, and it is an chance that appears to have been squandered, starting with Abu Ghraib.

While there is nothing in this new account that rise to the level of Abu Ghriab, there still appear to be areas of serious concern in these prisons.

Filed under: Iraq, Global Politics | Comments (0) |Send TrackBack
Sunday, March 5, 2006
Election Watch: Colombia-Uribe Lead Slips
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 3:02 pm

Via El Tiempo we find that the number of voters planning to vote for Uribe for re-election has slipped fom 65.2% to 53.9%-while his nearest rival, likely Liberal candidate Horacio Serpa, is at 20.1%.

Here’s the story: Intención de voto por el Presidente Uribe se redujo en 11 puntos en última encuesta de EL TIEMPO

Uribe bajó de 65,2 a 53,9%, mientras que Horacio Serpa, precandidato del Partido Liberal, subió de 12 a 20,1 por ciento.

Es decir: la distancia entre los dos, que antes era de 53,2 por ciento, ahora es de 33,8 por ciento. La gran encuesta de EL TIEMPO fue contratada con la empresa Datexco.

Filed under: Global Politics, Latin America, Elections | Comments (1) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
A Lack of Positive News?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:29 pm

Said General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on Meet the Press

I don’t think we’re getting the goodness out to the American people the way we should. Somehow we need to find a way to have balance in the amount of reporting that we’re able to get out. If you remember back when the war began, we had 24/7 coverage. Folks could watch television, they could read newspapers, they could read magazines, and they could put together their own opinion of what’s going on. Now the amount of coverage from the war zone is much less than it used to be, and understandably, the coverage, then, that comes out is the bombings and the things like that. People don’t get a chance to see or hear about all the good things that are happening.

There was a time that I was more receptive to the argument that there was an over-focus in the reporting on the negative, and an under-reporting of the positive. However, at this point such pronouncement out of the mouths of administration officials sounds empty and disingenuous.

For one thing, such a statement radically underplays the obvious fact of serious problems on the ground in Iraq. Secondly, if there truly is a surfeit of positive stories that are being ignored, it seems to me that the administration should be working harder to get them out. Yet, we have not seen such a move (indeed, this is a move that the administration has never undertaken), which leads me to believe that there really aren’t all of these obvious positive stories.

Indeed, I still think that we don’t get a full, in-depth picture of what is going on in Iraq. However, the notion that we simply aren’t getting the good news and hence are getting an artificially negative assessments regarding Iraq strikes me as a hollow one. It is clear that the situation is not where the administration thought it would be at this stage, and no amount of good news will change that fact.

Having lived in a place (Colombia) where press coverage paints a grimmer picture than what one lives on a daily basis, I am amenable to the notion that the news coverage paints a picture of greater chaos than is actually the case. However, there is also no doubt that life in Iraq is being disrupted by serious political violence-far more than is healthy for the institution building that need to take place in Iraq at this moment.

Filed under: Iraq, US Politics, Global Politics | Comments (2) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
No Second Term for al-Jaafari?
By Dr. Steven Taylor @ 2:05 pm

Via the AP: Iraq’s Al-Jaafari Pressured to Stand Down

Pressure mounted Sunday on Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to give up his bid for a new term amid anger over a recent surge of sectarian killing that has complicated already snarled negotiations on a new Iraqi government.

This dovetails with a story I noted on Thursday.

Filed under: Iraq, Global Politics | Comments (3) |Send TrackBack | Show Comments here
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