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ISSUE: #. 90. July, 2003

THE NEW SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA: The World Economic Forum, "Humanitarian Intervention" and the Secret Resource Wars
by Wynde Priddy

CHIAPAS: Who are the Real "Environmental Terrorists"? by Carmelo Ruiz

WHICH WORLD WAR IS THIS? James Woolsey and Subcommander Marcos Say "Four"

by Bill Weinberg

Photo essay by Teun Voeten










By Bill Weinberg
with David Bloom, Wynde Priddy, and Carmelo Ruiz, Special Correspondents

1. Don't Smoke that Ziggurat!
War Still Rocking Cradle of Civilization

2. "Iraqi National Resistance" Emerges
3. U.S. Troops Admit Shooting Iraqi Civilians
4. U.S. Troop in War Crime Inquiry
5. U.S. Spook Firm to Train New Iraqi Army
6. Netanyahu: Mosul-Haifa Pipeline "Not a Pipedream"
7. What Did Wolfowitz Really Say?
8. Marsh Arab Guerillas Threaten Resistance
9. "Kurdicization" Threatens Turkomans
10. Syria Demands Explanation In Border Skirmish
11. Will U.S. Exploit Iran Protests?
12. Did God Order Bush To Attack Iraq?

1. Condi, RAND Diss Apartheid Wall
2. Israeli Tree-Huggers Concerned about Wall's Eco-Impacts
3. Israel Creates another Bantustan
4. Burmese Crypto-Jews Emigrating Straight to Settlements
5. Ethiopian Crypto-Jews in Limbo
6. Israel Investigates Homegrown Neo-Nazi Website
7. Qaddafi Opts for Bi-National State (Huh?)
8. Kahanists Destroy Gay Pride Flags

1. Asia Times: U.S. In Secret Meeting with Taliban
2. German Servicemen's Group Warns of Taliban Restoration

1. New Kashmir Violence Tests Peace Process
2. India Sells Out Tibet
3. Tamil Tigers in Naval Battle off Sri Lanka

1. U.S.-Supplied F-16s Attack Aceh Separatists;
U.S. Reporter Trapped Behind Rebel Lines

1. Morocco-Algeria Anti-Terror Axis
2. Algeria Frees Berber Activists--for Now

1. The New Scramble for Africa: The World Economic Forum,
"Humanitarian Intervention" and the Secret Resource Wars

2. Kofi Annan Calls for Liberia Intervention Force
3. Bush Mulls Liberia Intervention
4. Serbia Conduit for Liberia Sanctions-Busters
5. Liberia Agony Fruit of U.S. Cold War Designs
6. Blair Mulls Zimbabwe Intervention
7. Sudan Attacks Terrorist Cell
8. Uganda's Christian Rebels Attack Churches
9. Congo War: 9-11 Every Day
10. U.S. Seizes al-Qaeda Suspects from Malawi

1. Bush Wanted for War Crimes in Belgium--Almost
2. Greek Anarchists Rock E.U. Summit

1. U.S. Met Secretly with Colombian Terrorist Envoy
2. U.S. Funds Talks with Colombian Terrorists
3. Colombian Army Swears in 10,000 "Peasant Soldiers"
4. Colombian Army Brigade Accused in Massacre
5. Colombian Colonel Gets 40 Years for Massacre
6. Did U.S. Pressure Oust Dirty Colombian General?
7. FARC Calls for Latin American Summit
8. Ex-Guerilla Peace Advocate Assassinated
9. Privatized Colombian Telecom to Lay Off Thousands
10. National Strike Slams Privatization
11. Colombia Leads World in Murdered Unionists
12. Indigenous Mayoral Candidate Assassinated
13. Poet Gubernatorial Candidate Assassinated
14. Report: Panama Violated Refugee Rights
15. Colombian Court Rules Against Fumigation
16. Spook Contractors Blur Washington's War Role
17. Judge Denies Pressure in IRA-FARC Case
18. Peru: Cabinet Resigns Amid Strike Wave
19. Bolivia: Hunger Strikes End--For Now
20. Chile: FTAA Signed

1. Lacandona: Who Are The Real "Environmental Terrorists"?
2. Mexico-Colombia Anti-Terror Axis
3. Tarahumara Activists Released From Prison; One Remains
4. ERPI Guerillas Deny Kidnappings

1. White House Censors EPA Document on Global Warming

1. Arrested al-Qaeda Suspect Was FBI Informant
2. Supreme Court Upholds Ban on Indefinite Detention
3. Supreme Court Upholds Secret Detentions
4. Appeals Court Upholds Secret Detentions



Micah Garen writes for the Baghdad Bulletin, a new English-language independent publication monitoring the reconstruction effort in Iraq, that looting continues at archaeological sites around the country. "The well-documented looting of the Iraqi National Museum has received considerable press attention. Yet the continued looting at archaeological sites, particularly the important Sumerian and Old Babylonian sites south of Diwaniya, seems to have drawn only moderate attention and even less concern from coalition forces... Important sites such as Isin, Umma, Umma Akrab and Larsa were turned into Swiss cheese by teams of looters, reportedly up to 200 to 300 strong at times." US Army Col. John Malay, who commands the Marine forces in Diwaniya, admitted that the problem is not a priority. "People being killed is the number one priority, not guarding archaeological sites," he told Baghdad Bulletin.

Meanwhile, archaeologists are being barred from sites which have been secured by US troops. Austrian archaeologist Helga Trankwalder protested that for first time in thirty years she was prevented from going into Babylon by Marines stationed at the gate. She is harshly critical of US forces for their lack of foresight and planning in protecting Iraq's relics. "The question of responsibility of all this will be raised in Europe. We will not stop," she said.

Specialists insist the Pentagon was provided the necessary information to protect the archaeological sites around Iraq. McGuire Gibson from the Oriental Institute in Chicago met with Pentagon planners prior to the war, providing them with a detailed CD that listed all of Iraq's archaeological sites with grid coordinates. He also explained the importance of protecting these sites from looting both before and after the war, and his concerns were published in National Geographic magazine in March of 2003. "Yet," writes Baghdad Bulletin, "this information does not seem to have made it into the field, and was never made a priority by the coalition."

Coalition forces apparently would like to see the issue disappear. Italian Ambassador Pietro Cordone, the newly appointed Iraqi Cultural Minister, has been avoiding a press eager for answers. In response to a request for an interview, his office told Baghdad Bulletin that Ambassador Cordone did not wish to speak about the looting, but would be happy to talk about the future. In the US, two Congressman have introduced a bi-partisan bill called the Iraqi Cultural Heritage Act, which would allow the president to act to save the cultural heritage of a country not party to the 1970 UNESCO convention prohibiting illicit trade in cultural property. The sanctions against Iraq made it impossible for Iraq to apply for protection under the UNESCO convention.

A UNESCO mission made up of international archaeologists is now scheduled to visit Iraq, the second UNESCO mission to visit Iraq in the past two months. It is not clear if the mission will be able survey the heavily looted sites in the south due to security concerns. "But," concludes Baghdad Bulletin, "as the political wheels turn, the looting continues."

Yigal Schleifer of the Israel bi-weekly Jerusalem Report toured Iraq shortly after the fall of Saddam, visiting ancient Mesopotamian sites as well as the tombs of the Jewish prophets Ezra and Ezekiel. His feature story in the June 16 issue relates both how Saddam exploited Iraq's 5,000-year history and how this history is being plundered in the current war and lawlessness. At the ruins of Babylon, an hour's drive south of Baghdad, ancient structures were partially reconstructed by the Saddam regime, with new bricks added in 1987 reading, "Rebuilt in the age of Saddam Hussein, the leader of Iraq and protector of civilizations, the descendant of Nebuchadnezzar." The director of the site, Muhammed Taber al-Kafiy, told Schleifer: "UNESCO was against this. Iraqi archaeologists were against this, but they couldn't say anything about it, because they would be put in jail." Now the US has set up military bases at both the Babylon and Nimrud sites--which have reduced the looting, but have impacts of their own.

At Kifl, also just south of Baghdad, Schleifer visited the tomb of the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, in a 750-year-old shrine still bearing Hebrew inscriptions and glass-inlaid floral designs. Revered by Jews and Muslims alike, the tomb is guarded by a local Muslim family which was appointed stewardship of the site by the Ottoman sultan generations ago. The caretaker pointed out how a house adjacent to the tomb was partially destroyed by a missile during the recent air campaign--as were several other homes in Kifl. One local man showed Schleifer a deep gash in his leg and told how his two-year-old son was killed when a missile hit their home. The tomb itself was narrowly spared damage.

At Baghdad's Jewish cemetery, the local caretaker, an 83-year-old Muslim named Mohammed Fadel Rhida, pointed out how both Saddam and the US forces had desecrated the site. He showed Schleifer some 100 graves that were demolished by the Iraqi army, which placed artillery in the cemetery. He also indicated a large section of the cemetery's wall that had been knocked down by a US tank searching for Iraqi resistance fighters. A number of tombstones have also been smashed by looters in the post-Saddam chaos. Indicating the smashed graves, Rhida asked Schleifer, "Is this not haram?", the Arabic word for "forbidden."

See also WW3 REPORT #88 [top]

Bomb and grenade ambushes and hostile fire June 26 killed two US soldiers and two Iraqi civilians, signaling increased resistance in Iraq despite Washington's claims to be mopping up opposition. In one attack, a member of a US special operations force was killed and eight injured by hostile fire southwest of Baghdad. That same day, a bomb exploded on the Baghdad airport road, killing a US soldier and injuring another. The road, heavily used by US forces, has been the scene of several attacks using trip wires dangling from overpasses or grenades tossed from bridges.

In another ambush, assailants reportedly hurled grenades at a US-escorted Iraqi civilian convoy in west Baghdad, killing two Iraqi employees of the national electricity authority. One day earlier, a Marine was killed while responding to an ambush in which three other Americans were wounded. US military spokesman Maj. William Thurmond, played down the new violence as a "spike" and not a trend, and is likely a response to recent US raids on Baath Party strongholds. "There have been more attacks recently, but it's probably premature to say this is part of a pattern," Thurmond said. "We've kicked open the nests of some of these bad guys."

While the US blames the attacks on isolated remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, claiming there is no organized resistance, Qatar's al-Jazeera TV, aired statements from two previously unknown groups urging assaults on US-led forces in Iraq. One, by a group calling itself the Mujahedeen of the Victorious Sect, claimed responsibility for recent attacks and promised more. The other, by the Popular Resistance for the Liberation of Iraq, called for "revenge" against the US.

Pentagon officials also report that two US soldiers apparently have been abducted. The men and their Humvee were stationed at an observation post near the town of Balad, north of Baghdad, when they went noticed missing. In another incident June 26, a US Army truck sat smoldering at the side of a highway 20 miles south of Baghdad, apparently struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. A day earlier, attackers threw grenades from a Baghdad overpass onto a passing convoy of Army Humvees, said a Pentagon source. There were no serious injuries reported.

The same day, militants ambushed Marines in Hillah, 45 miles south of Baghdad, wounding three. Later, one Marine was killed and two were wounded when their vehicle, part of a quick-reaction force sent in response to the Hillah ambush, rolled over on the road's shoulder.

On June 24, violence in the southern Iraqi town of Majar al-Kabir killed six British soldiers and wounded eight British paratroopers. The British military said the violence probably was sparked when the paratroopers entered the town, 180 miles southeast of Baghdad, during a "routine joint patrol" with local militias. Townspeople apparently thought the patrol was going to search for weapons, a source of local resentment. Soldiers reportedly used dogs in the searches and entered women's bedrooms in defiance of Muslim sensibilities.

British forces in Iraq have been reduced to 15,500 from 45,000. The US has brought home some 130,000 troops from the region, with 146,000 remaining. The latest killings raised the US death toll to 196 since the start of the war on March 20. At least 20 US troops have died as the result of hostile fire since major combat was declared over in May. When the bodies of the two disappeared GIs were found north of Baghdad June 29, this brought the total of US dead since the start of the Iraq campaign to 200. (AP, June 26, 29)

In a bizarre musical reprise from the film "Apocalypse Now," US helicopters blasted Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" as troops from the First Battalion of the 124th Infantry Regiment rammed vehicles into metal gates and hundreds of soldiers raided houses in the western city of Ramadi June 21 as part of a drive to halt attacks on US forces, code-named Operation Desert Scorpion. A US military spokesman said that 90 Desert Scorpion raids had captured 540 Iraqis. US troops wrote ID numbers on the arms of the detainees in black marker.

As the violence escalated, another previously unknown group, the Iraqi National Front of Fedayeen, vowed to step up resistance until US forces leave Iraq. A spokesman appeared on Lebanon's LBC TV, his face hidden in a red-and-white headscarf, said: "If they want their soldiers to be safe, they must leave our pure land." The militant, flanked by three masked men with weapons, disavowed any link to Saddam Hussein.

Officials in Washington said Saddam's captured former secretary Abid Hamid Mahmud al-Tikriti had told interrogators the deposed dictator and his two sons are alive and in Iraq. Paul Bremer, US administrator of Iraq, said the issue of Saddam's fate needed to be resolved, because uncertainty emboldened supporters of the toppled regime. "It gives them an ability to say Saddam is still alive, he's coming back, and we're coming back, and what that does is it disinclines people who might otherwise want to cooperate with us from cooperating with us," Bremer told reporters on a visit to neighboring Jordan.

While US officials blame the attacks on Saddam loyalists, the Shi'ites who were bitterly persecuted by Saddam continue to protest against the US presence in Iraq. "The Americans are occupiers and aggressors," said Sayyid Ali, one of about 2,000 Shi'ites who protested outside the vast palace compound in Baghdad now used by Iraq's US-led administration. "They were supposed to free us from the oppressor, now they are only occupying us," he said. "We want to form a national government. "We want freedom and justice." (Reuters, June 21)

When Sen. Richard Luagr, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arrived in Iraq for a visit with Paul Bremer June 23, he told reporters that US forces will have to occupy the country for a long time--"as much as five years.'' (AP, June 23)

"I believe we are seeing the beginning of an Iraqi national resistance, which will spread out and escalate throughout Iraq," said Mohammed Aziz Shukri, a professor of international law at Damascus University told Lebanon's Daily Star in response to the attacks. Juan Cole, professor of history at the University of Michigan and Mideast specialist, added that "some form of forceful resistance" will continue by the more radical Sunnis in Iraq. "The Sunni Arabs close to the former regime, as well as Sunni fundamentalists inside and out of Iraq, have everything to lose in an American-dominated, Shiite-majority, democratic Iraq. So, it is entirely natural that they should continue to resist the US." Said Nizar Hamzeh, professor of politics at the American University of Beirut: "The resistance is limited at the moment to Saddam loyalists and Sunni militants who may be sympathetic to Al-Qaeda. But once the resistance becomes more influential and strengthens, I expect it to gather support among Arabs and draw manpower from around the Arab world." [top]

The UK Mirror reported June 19 that US troops admitted they routinely gun down Iraqi civilians--some of whom are entirely innocent. "You can't distinguish between who's trying to kill you and who's not," said Sgt. John Meadows. "Like, the only way to get through shit like that was to concentrate on getting through it by killing as many people as you can, people you know are trying to kill you. Killing them first and getting home." Added Cpl. Michael Richardson: "There was no dilemma when it came to shooting people who were not in uniform, I just pulled the trigger." Richardson also admitted shooting injured fighters and leaving them to die. "Shit, I didn't help any of them. I wouldn't help the fuckers. There were some you let die. And there were some you double-tapped." Richardson said the 9-11 attacks gave him his motivation to fight Iraqis. "There's a picture of the World Trade Center hanging up by my bed and I keep one in my flak jacket. Every time I feel sorry for these people I look at that. I think, 'They hit us at home and, now, it's our turn.' I don't want to say payback but, you know, it's pretty much payback." (UK Mirror, June 19)

The web site Iraq Body Count continues to monitor world press reports to arrive at a daily update of the total Iraqi civilian dead. Each incident is listed separately, noting the location, number dead, weaponry used and media source. At press time, the minimum estimate stands at 6,011 and the maximum at 7,653. [top]

US Marines Gunnery Sgt. Gus Covarrubias is under investigation for possible war crimes committed in Iraq based on statements he made to his hometown newspaper. Covarrubias told the Las Vegas Review-Journal how he had hunted down and shot two Iraqi soldiers after a firefight. "A preliminary inquiry has been initiated by the Naval Criminal Investigative Service to examine the circumstances surrounding the statements made by Gunnery Sergeant Covarrubias," the US military statement said. "The preliminary inquiry will determine if the actions described by Gunnery Sergeant Covarrubias during combat operations met the established rules of engagement and complied with the law of war."

In the interview published on April 25, Sgt. Covarrubias said he was searching for the source of a grenade attack April 8 and found an Iraqi soldier in a nearby house with a grenade launcher. He told the paper he ordered the man to stop and to turn around. "I went behind him and shot him in the back of the head--twice," he was quoted as saying.

He said he saw another Iraqi soldier trying to escape and also shot him--then took their ID cards, a rifle and one of their berets for souvenirs. He said the killings were "justice", but the paper quoted a military expert as saying the first one could have been a war crime. (The Age, Australia, May 2) [top]

The Pentagon has awarded a $48-million contract to train the nucleus of a new Iraqi army to the Vinnell Corporation, a US Fairfax, VA-based firm which also trains the Saudi National Guard. The company, a subsidiary of the US aerospace firm Northrop Grumman, said on its website it was hiring former US army and marine officers to train light infantry battalions and combat service support units for the new Iraqi army. The new army is expected to reach 12,000 troops within a year and swell to 40,000 within two years. Iraq's former standing army of some 400,000 troops was disbanded after US-led forces ousted the ruling Baath Party regime in April. Ten of the company's employees--two Filipinos and eight US citizens--were among those killed in May 12 suicide attacks on compounds for foreign workers in Riyadh. (AFP, Juine 26)

(See also WW3 REPORT #86) [top]

Israeli Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he expects an oil pipeline from Iraq to Israel to be reopened in the near future after being closed when Israel became a state in 1948. "It won't be long when you will see Iraqi oil flowing to Haifa," the Israeli port city, Netanyahu told a group of British investors. "It is just a matter of time until the pipleline is reconstituted and Iraqi oil will flow to the Mediterranean... It's not a pipe-dream." In April, a source at Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry told Reuters Israel and Jordan would hold talks on reopening the pipeline, which Israel believes would lower fuel costs by 25%. The source said that the Israeli section of the pipeline was still in good condition. Jordanian officials denied they would meet Israeli officials on the issue. (Haaretz, June 20)

But Iraq's US-appointed de facto oil minister Thamir Ghadhban said the Mosul-Haifa has fallen into ruin within Iraq, with parts recycled for pumping water. "The pipeline does not exist anymore," Ghadhban told reporters. He also said any decision to sell oil to Israel would be the responsibility of an Iraqi authority or government. "This is a political decision which is not of my affair and has to be taken by politicians." Ghadhban denied giving an interview to the Israeli daily Ma'ariv at a recent economic meeting in Jordan. The paper said Baghdad would not use the old pipeline to sell oil to Israel, attributing the statement to Ghadhban. (Haaretz, June 24)

See also WW3 REPORT #83 [top]

On June 4, the UK Guardian's electronic edition reported that US deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz, asked why nuclear-capable North Korea was being treated differently from Iraq, replied: "Let's look at it simply. The most important difference between North Korea and Iraq is that economically, we just had no choice in Iraq. The country swims on a sea of oil." The following day, the Guardian ran a correction, stating that the remarks had been taken out of context. According to the US Defense Department website, what Wolfowitz really said was: "The ... difference between North Korea and Iraq is that we had virtually no economic options with Iraq because the country floats on a sea of oil. In the case of North Korea, the country is teetering on the edge of economic collapse and that I believe is a major point of leverage whereas the military picture with North Korea is very different from that with Iraq."

Concluded the Guardian: "The sense was clearly that the US had no economic options by means of which to achieve its objectives, not that the economic value of the oil motivated the war."

See also WW3 REPORT #89 [top]

In Iraq's southern marshlands, guerrillas who resisted Saddam Hussein's regime for years say they fear the US-led occupation wants to take away their weapons so that foreign troops can remain Iraq for years to come. Al-Sayyid Kadum al-Hashimi, a leader in the town of Majar al-Kabir, south of Amara, where six British soldiers were killed June 24, said: "It is the belief of people here, and it is believed by all other Iraqis, that the British want to disarm us so they can stay for a long time." Abu Hatem Qarim Mahoud, famed in Iraq as a guerrilla leader and known as the "lord of the marshes," said he hoped an agreement could be reached with the occupation forces about weapons. But he warned that "any program for reconstruction without an interim Iraqi government will fail." Further fighting around Amara, which is controlled by Abu Hatem, will be embarrassing for the US because the guerrillas cannot be portrayed as remnants of Saddam's regime. "Ours is the only city which liberated itself through its own efforts," said Ali al-Atiyah, one of Abu Hatem's aides. Some guerrillas are more frank than their own leader on how they see the future. "We will put an end to this occupation with our weapons," said Maythem al-Mohammed Dawi, who had been fighting in the marshes since 1998. "If we give up our arms how can we fight them?"

Abu Hatem's fighters--said to number 8,000--continued to resist Saddam even after the dictator started draining the marshlands to deprive the guerillas of cover. With the swamps destroyed, they dug a network of tunnels and bunkers in the dry beds. After serving in the Iraqi army as a non-commissioned officer, Aub Hatem was jailed in 1980 for seven years and on his release started his guerrilla organization called Hizbollah (unrelated to the Lebanese group). He captured Amara on April 7, two days before the fall of Baghdad--but then said he received a call on his satellite phone from a CIA agent in Kuwait whom he called Dawud. He said: "When we were speaking, he gave me the order to leave the city within one hour." Abu Hatem then called Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi writer living in Washington, asking him to use his influence to try to get the order reversed. Amara remains under Abu Hatem's control, and life in the city is much more normal than elsewhere in Iraq, with no curfew. When the British soldiers were killed in Majar al-Kabir on Tuesday, Abu Hatem was in Baghdad meeting with Paul Bremer, leader of the US administration in Iraq. Abu Hatem reportedly rushed back to Majar al-Kabir, where local leaders told him they feared the confiscation of weapons meant that the US and UK would occupy Iraq for years. (UK Independent, June 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 83 & 39 [top]

For nearly 30 years, Saddam Hussein implemented a policy of "Arabization" in much of northern Iraq, bringing thousands of Arabs from southern and central Iraq to the oil-rich northern region and expelling non-Arab minorities--Kurds, Turkomans and Assyrians. Now, following the fall of Saddam's regime, there is a campaign to "Kurdicize" towns like Kirkuk and Tuz Khurmatu, where over half the population is Turkoman.

The two main Kurdish parties, the Massoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have brought thousands of Kurdish families from the northern Kurdish autonomous zone to ethnically-mixed towns like Kirkuk that were under Saddam's control until he was ousted. Occupation authorities have insisted that Kirkuk's city council consist of Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans and Assyrians--two members each. But there already have been bloody clashes between Kurds and Arabs and threats exchanged between Kurds and Turkomans. Writes Nermeen al-Mufti for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting: "Even the walls of Kirkuk, covered in Kurdish banners and names now, have begun to speak Kurdish."

Turkomans are Iraq's third largest ethnic group after Arabs and Kurds. Originally from Central Asia, they began settling in Iraq in a long migration that spanned centuries. They have ruled the country six times since establishing their first state in northern Iraq around 600 BC.

The exact number of Turkomans today is contested by Kurdish leaders, who call Kirkuk the major city of a Kurdish region. A 1957 figure of 590,000 Turkomans in an overall population of six million, this would suggest that Iraq today has some two million Turkomans. Some half of them live on the fringe of the Kurdish mountains, in the provinces of Mosul, Erbil and Kirkuk.

The 1970s, the non-Arab peoples of northern Iraq were particular targets of Saddam Hussein and his Ba'ath Party, which stressed the primacy of Arabs. Turkomans and Kurds especially were victims of the campaign to "Arabize" the oil-rich regions where they are a majority. Thousands of villages were destroyed and their inhabitants expelled or forcibly transferred to remote areas of southern Iraq. Many of the limited cultural rights granted Turkomans--Turkish language education in primary schools, daily radio and television broadcasts and a newspaper--were taken away as early as 1972.

Human Rights Watch documented various means Saddam's regime used to pressure on Kurdish, Turkoman and Assyrian families to abandon their homes. These included being compelled to change ethnicity (known as "nationality correction"), forced recruitment into the Ba'ath Party and "volunteer" paramilitary units, pressure on families with relatives in the Kurdish autonomous zone, and attempts to recruit informers.

"Nationality correction," formally introduced in 1997, required members of ethnic groups residing in Kirkuk, Khaniqin, Makhmour, Sinjar, Tuz Khormatu and other districts to relinquish their Kurdish, Turkoman, or Assyrian identities and to register officially as Arabs. Unless they did so, they were not permitted to work--even in agriculture--or buy or build a house. Those who refused were expelled from their homes.

When Kirkuk was liberated from Saddam's rule in April, Kurdish peshmerga militias arrived, calling the city the heart of Kurdistan. The Turkomans have already established a local TV and radio station and a number of trade unions. Muzaffar Arsalan, founder of the Iraqi Turkoman National Front, an umbrella group of Turkoman parties established in exile, says he has ruled out armed struggle to defend the community's rights. "We have insisted on peaceful opposition right from the beginning," he said in an interview. "We will obtain our rights with the support of our people. Nothing can be gained without popular support. Saddam Hussein in the prime example of this. He had everything but popular support. This resulted in his downfall."

Human Rights Watch is urging the occupation forces to take measures to defend minority rights--including preservation of all records establishing the ethnicity and place of origin of displaced Iraqis and establishment of a public register of all Kurds, Turkomans and Assyrians forcibly expelled from their homes Arsalan also demands scrutiny of official documents to determine land rights in contested areas. "The issue can be resolved by referring to the facts," he said. "There is no need for arms, terror or intimidation. All Iraqis should be granted their rights under the constitution."

( Nermeen al-Mufti for the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, June 25)

See also WW3 REPORT #s 87 & 83 [top]

The Syrian government is still demanding an explanation from the US a week after five of its border guards were detained in a US special forces raid on the frontier with Iraq. The foreign ministry has yet to receive any response to a formal protest it lodged with US ambassador Theodore Kattouf on June 19, the official SANA news agency said June 25. The ministry demanded "an explanation from the US government...and the return of the wounded soldiers for treatment in Syria in order to avoid any misunderstanding that might lead to an escalation neither side wants," the SANA statement said. "The ministry is still waiting."

US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has acknowledged that no wanted Iraqi officials were found in the June 19 raid by Task Force 20, a secret unit set up to hunt down senior members of Saddam Hussein's regime. Other US officials said five Syrian border guards were held in a subsequent clash, three of whom were wounded. They admitted that the raid may even have taken place on Syrian territory.

But Rumsfeld defended the intelligence that prompted the attack against what he called a suspicious convoy exiting Iraq, insisting Washington was in contact with Damascus over the incident. (AFP, June 26)

See also WW3 REPORT #84 [top]

Authorities say up to 4,000 people were arrested in protests in Iran between June 10 and 20. The demonstrations, launched in reaction to the government's university privatization plan on June 10, later turned into an a more general campaign for greater democracy. Prosecutor General Ayatollah Abdulnabi Namazi stated that 4,000 people were arrested nationwide, 2,000 of whom have now been released. Namazi stated that of the 800 arrested in the capital, Tehran, only a small number were students, and that most of them were "hooligans." The Union Reinforcement Bureau, the largest reformist student group, indicated that number of student arrests is much more than that declared by the authorities. (Zaman, Turkey, June 20)

The protests come just as Iran is facing international pressure over its nuclear program--and not only from Bush, but also from Mohammad el-Baradei, head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), who urged Iran to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow foreign inspections of its nuclear facilities. In his annual report to the IAEA's board of governors in Vienna, el-Baradei said Iran "failed" to report certain materials and activities. Meanwhile, EU ministers meeting in Luxemburg issued a statement expressing skepticism about the stated peaceful aims of Iran's nuclear program. "The nature of some aspects of this program raises serious concern," the statement said. (New York Sun, June 17)

Dissident leaders in Iran seem cognizant of the threat that their movement could be exploited by the US. A letter signed by over 250 dissidents and published in the pro-reformist newspaper Yas-e-nou accused Iran's ruling mullahs and their doctrine of "wilayat al-faqih" (rule by clerics) of being contrary to the true spirit of Islam: "Considering individuals to be in the position of a divinity and absolute open polytheism [in contradiction to] almighty God, and blatant oppression of human dignity. People [and their elected leaders] have the right to supervise fully their rulers, criticize them, and remove them from power if they are not satisfied." The statement also declared support for an earlier letter issued by parliamentarians in May, calling on President Khatami to accept reform before "the whole establishment and the country's independence and territorial integrity are jeopardized." (New York Sun, June 17)

As if to demonstrate how foreign powers could exploit the Iran unrest, Pentagon advisor Richard Perle told the German Council on Foreign Relations: "There may be regime change in Iran because the regime in Iran is miserably unpopular. Young Iranians will find better uses for their limited resources than building nuclear power in a country so rich in oil. We can already see signs that Iranians...would like to see regime change. They should be encouraged." (New York Sun, June 17)

Militant protests against the Tehran regime have also broken out among Iranian exiles in France, where Maryam Rajavi, a leader of the Mujahedeen Khalq, an armed Iranian opposition group based in Iraq, has been imprisoned. Several followers have launched hunger strikes to demand his release, and eight have set themselves ablaze. Two women--one in London and one in Paris--died of their burns. Rajavi and 150 others were detained in a June 17 raid by French police. Eleven members were imprisoned on terrorism-related charges. Founded in 1965 as a guerrilla group fighting the Iranian monarchy, the Mujahedeen Khalq added a political arm in exile in 1981, then built its army in Saddam's Iraq. Washington and the European Union call it a terrorist organization. France's intelligence agency, the DST, calls the organization a personality cult around Maryam Rajavi--"president-elect" of a future Iran--and her co-leader husband Massoud, still said to be in Iraq. Maryam Rajavi, who left Iraq in April, is under investigation for "membership in a criminal organization linked to a terrorist enterprise" and for financing terrorism. The DST claims the group planned attacks against Iranian diplomatic missions in Europe. Mujahedeen Khalq denies the charges, saying the organization abides by the law in countries outside Iran. "What France is doing is the result of a dirty deal with the mullahs at a time when the Iranian regime is on the ropes," said spokesman Shain Gobadi. (AP, June 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #88 [top]

On June 25, the Israeli daily Haartez quoted Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas as saying that in their recent meeting President George Bush told him: "God told me to strike at al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam, which I did, and now I am determined to solve the problem in the Middle East. If you help me I will act, and if not, the elections will come and I will have to focus on them."


US National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice on June 29 criticized the Israeli government's ongoing construction of a "separation barrier," or security fence between Israel and the West Bank. After a meeting with Israeli ministers, Rice said Washington saw the wall's construction as "problematic" because "it would create a fait accompli" and might be considered as an intention to define an international border between the two future states. In response, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the fence "had no political significance," and that it was only being built because of "security concerns." He stressed that he wouldn't back down on the matter, even if it caused a disagreement with Washington. (AFP, June 29)

Rice requested of Sharon that the route of the fence be reconsidered with "greater sensitivity." Ha'aretz noted that Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom "also spoke about the continuing incitement in the Palestinian press, and reminded Rice that a Palestinian newspaper had recently called her 'the black widow.' Rice said that she had been told of the epithet and found it shocking ."(Ha'aretz, June 30)

Aluf Benn, writing in Ha'aretz, had the following observation: "Rice may have read assessment of the situation by the experts at Rand, one of the most important strategic research institutes in the US, in the latest issue of the Atlantic Monthly, which put the separation fence at the top of the list of global security problems that are not getting sufficient attention. The author warned that building the fence will lead to an escalation of Palestinian terror, in the territories and abroad." (Ha'aretz, June 30)

If Israel completes the fence according to its current plan, less than 50% of the West Bank will be left for the creation of a Palestinian state. US President George Bush and Tony Blair have also criticized the fence. "We are interested in progress in the peace process that will render the fence's security arrangements unnecessary," Blair said at the recent Aqaba summit. (Ha'aretz, June 17)

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A UN official also criticized the wall. "It potentially separates tens of thousands of Palestinians from their agricultural lands, wells, markets, schools, health clinics and hospitals," said Undersecretary-General for Political Affairs Kieran Prendergast to the Security Council on Friday, June 14. "By the end of July, 12,000 Palestinians in 15 villages could find themselves wedged between the wall and the Green Line," he said. "A further 138,000 Palestinians in 16 localities could be surrounded on three sides by the wall." (AP, June 14)

The fence has also been criticized, at long last, by the official Palestinian leadership. Edward F. Sheehan, in the New York Review of Books, reports having the following exchange with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Abu Mazen:

"I described my visit to Qalqilya and asked whether the Israeli fence could be accepted as the border of a Palestinian state.

"Abu Mazen: Impossible.

"Arafat: The Israelis are controlling our water and diverting it to Israeli wells. They are taking our best farmlands in the West Bank. They are building a Berlin Wall around Jerusalem. Unbelievable! Who can accept this? Who can accept this? Bethlehem and Hebron are separated from the north. Jerusalem is completely separated from the West Bank by more than six kilometers of expropriated land....

"E.S.: For a final peace, what should be done with the fence?

"Arafat and Abu Mazen: It must be removed."( NYRB, July 3)

Lastly, officialdom just seems to be catching up in its criticism of the fence with the US president's wife. Before the fence's construction even began, US First Lady Laura Bush, in a rare comment on foreign policy, said on the American Urban Radio Network June 17, 2002, "I don't know that a fence will be some long-lasting sign of peace."(NYT, June 18 2002) (David Bloom) [top]

The center-left Israeli daily Ha'aretz in a June 21 article worried about the environmental damage the Apartheid wall will cause. "The separation fence severs the continuity of open areas and is harmful to the landscape, the flora and fauna, the ecological corridors and the drainage of the creeks," the article begins. "The protective system will irreversibly affect the land resource and create enclaves of communities that are cut off from their surroundings." Environment Minister Yehudit Naot (Shinui) is considered "environmentally sensitive," says Ha'aretz. "I certainly don't want to stop or delay the building of the fence, because it is essential and will save lives," she claims. "On the other hand, I am disturbed by the environmental damage involved. Therefore, what remains is to do the maximum to save what can possibly be saved." Also very concerned about the environmental damage is Aharon Nachmais, director of Israel's parks. He's worried about what the wall will do to wild animals, which will be cut off from their natural habitats by the fence. "The animals don't know that there is now a border," Nachmias explains. "They are used to a certain living space, and what we are concerned about is that their genetic diversity will be affected because different population groups will not be able to mate and reproduce. Isolating the populations on two sides of a fence definitely creates a genetic problem." To counter this problem, Israel will create 17 centimeter holes in the wall, so small animals, rodents, crocodiles, and foxes will be able to get through. (Ha'aretz, June 21)

The Israeli concern for animals and genetic diversity doesn't seem to extend to human beings. On June 18, a law forbidding Palestinians from the territories from getting Israeli citizenship by marrying Israeli spouses passed its first reading in the Knesset. If the bill becomes law, Palestinian Israelis will no longer be able to marry Palestinians from the territories and have their spouse live with them in Israel. They will have to move to the territories if they want to be together. Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada says that with this proposed law, "Israel takes another leap towards institutionalized apartheid." (Lebanon Daily Star, June 26) (David Bloom) [top]

Baka al-Garbiyeh is a Palestinian Israeli village inside the Green Line--that is, within Israel proper. Just across the Green Line is Baka al-Sharqiyeh, and Nazlat Isa, Palestinian villages that abut the Green Line, in Palestinian "area C" in the northern West Bank. Israel's Separation Fence, or "Apartheid Wall" as the Palestinians call it, is being built several kilometers to the east of the villages, cutting them off from the rest of Palestinian territory. Now Israel has announced it is fencing off the villages on the Palestinian side from Baka al-Garbiyeh on the Israeli side. This time, the fence will indeed be built on the Green Line; in the process, dozens of dunams (1 acre = 4 dunams) will be seized from both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. 7,700 Palestinian residents of Nazlat Isa and Baka al-Sharqiyeh will be completely walled inside a Ghetto-Bantustan--with the only way out being a to-be-announced gate to the east.

"Welcome to prison," said Samir al-Assad, an accountant from Nazlat Isa. "Soon there will be such a high wall here that even a bird won't be able to escape." On Jan. 21, the Israeli army came and destroyed 62 shops housed in 28 buildings in Nazlat Isa. At the time, local merchants surmised to WW3 REPORT that the army's real intention in destroying the town's commercial center was the eventual creation of a settler-only highway to run on the route passing through the middle of the town. "Security," was the reason soldiers gave to protestors for all the destruction. "Israel plans to build a road to Jordan that will restrict the town from the south," Ha'aretz notes.

The 800-meter-long and six-meter-high wall will also destroy the close-knit relationship that each of the communities has across the Green Line. "This ghetto plan will affect our economy and our relations with the Jews. It increases the hatred and tension," said Hassan Mawassi, a local journalist. (Ha'aretz, June 27) (David Bloom)

See also: Demolitions At Nazlet Isa--Despite Non-Violent Resistance [top]

About 5,000 members of the Burmese community known as Bnei Menashe are currently waiting in India for emigration to Israel. At a Knesset Immigration Absorption Committee debate in June, Labor MK Ophir Pines-Paz protested that several dozen Bnei Menashe members had recently been brought to settlements, where they had undergone "hasty" conversion.

"This is an amazing and infuriating story," said Pines-Paz. "How is it possible that hundreds of people are being brought from India to go to settlements? They are arriving clandestinely... It is a disgrace. This is illegal immigration and it must stop immediately." Pines opined that new immigrants should first be brought to places in Israel proper like Afula or Petah Tikva, "to understand the normal life of the country," and then be given the choice to decide where to live. "I think the whole thing is something that is totally unacceptable. You bring people from all over the world--from Mexico, from India, from whatever--straight to the settlements." Pines added.

Committee chair MK Colette Avital (Labor) said it was clear the newcomers were being brought to Israel to bolster the settlements in the occupied territories. "Simple Indians are being brought here to save the settlement movement," she said. "There are many millions of people in India who would prefer to go the suburbs of Gaza than to remain in the reality of Kashmir. Is it possible that the chief rabbis are lending a hand to missionary activities?"

Rabbi Eliahu Avihail, whose work involves bringing far-flung purported members of the lost tribes of Israel "back" to the modern state of Israel, says that only the settlements are prepared to take in the Bnei Menashe, because they exist in a penurious state. There are now some 750 Bnei Menashe living in the settlements of Kiryat Arba, Gush Katif, and Beit El. (Ha'aretz, June 19;, June 18)

The Bnei Menashe, or "children of Menassah," believe they are descended from the Jewish tribe of Menassah who fled the northern Kingdom of Israel under Assyrian attack in 744 BCE. They first were exiled to Assyria (now Iraq) and four hundred years later, still further east to escape the armies of Alexander the Great--first to Afghanistan, and eventually across the Himalayas and into China. They believed they were the only Jews left, and lived quietly under Chinese rule, until late in the 13th century CE, when they encountered western missionaries who threatened to convert them to Christianity. To escape persecution they went to live in caves in southern China, where they acquired the name "Shinlung," which means "cave covering." About 500 to 600 years ago, the Chinese found the Shinlung, seized their holy parchment [which according to Shinlung tradition was their Torah] and drove them into today's Thailand and Burma--although some are thought to have traveled down the Mekong River into Vietnam, the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia. From Thailand and Burma, many Shinlung migrated to the northeast Indian provinces of Mizoram and Manipur [nowhere near Kashmir], where an estimated 1.25 to 4 million Shinlung live today. Although most were Christianized in the last centuries, 10,000 live as actively Jewish Bnei Menashe in 13 towns. Of this number some thousands have formally converted to orthodox Judaism, and many of them want to emigrate to Israel.

According to Rabbi Avihail, Jewish customs that have survived through the Christianization of the Bnei Menashe include circumcision--performed with rocks, in a manner consistent with the Torah but without reference to the Rabinnic and Halachic traditions which they were not exposed to in their exile. Their priest mentions in services the Patriarch Abram and Moriah [a reference to the prevention of the sacrifice of Isaac at Mount Moriah]. The priest also mentions Mount Sinai and Mount Zion, and uses the Hebrew word for God. Under Avihail's direction, several thousand have adopted Rabinnic-Halachic modern Judaism. (Ha'aretz, Aug. 16, 1999; Hadassah Magazine, 1999; See also:

For further reading, see "Across the Sabbath River" by Hillel Halkin (Houghton-Mifflin, 2002) [top]

Like Burma's Bnei Menash, the Falash Mura of Ethiopia--Christians who are the descendants of Ethiopian Jews--are in a controversy surrounding their Israeli immigration status. Forced to convert to Christianity under economic duress or even death threats from Christian neighbors, the Falash Mura secretly remained Jews. 18,000 of the Falash Mura now await emigration to Israel. Loolwa Khazzoom, writing for the Pacific News Service June 18, notes that Israel's chief rabbi said May 23 that the Falash Mura are "one hundred percent Jews, without a doubt" and should "immediately be brought to Israel ... to rescue them from the jaws of death." The Falash Mura, many with relatives in Israel, have gathered in Addis Abbaba and are awaiting emigration under poor living conditions. But Israel has so far hedged on the Falash Mura's emigration, and a six-month-old emigration plan has collapsed.

Some have charged racism: In the Israeli Knesset, one member of the Shas party, representing the country's Sephardic and Oriental religious Jews, challenged the country's new Interior minister, from the anti-religious Shinui party. "If they were Romanian you would find the money," said Shas lawmaker Nissim Ze'ev, referring to Interior Minister Avraham Poraz's country of origin. "Tell the truth. You don't want blacks here." (The Forward, June 27)

Another official argument is economics: "Falash Mura come from another kind of culture, another kind of country and society," said Aric Puder, spokesman for the Ministry of Immigration and Absorption. "We need to give a lot of special programs in order to absorb them into the Israeli society."

Yet Khazzoom points out that Israel "actively scouted out and absorbed one million Jewish immigrants from Russia" in the last decade, and according to the group Jewish Agency for Israel, almost 250,000 were in fact non-Jews. (Pacific News Service) These non-Jews have been described as a "demographic time-bomb."(Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2001) [top]

The problem of a quarter of a million "non-Jews" arriving with the million-strong aliyah (emigration to Israel) from the former Soviet Union has long been controversial in Israel. Now it appears that a group of Russian "non-Jews" have formed an Israeli neo-Nazi group.

The UK Guardian notes that it is an "open secret" that many of the Russians have only distant ties to Judaism, and that some brought "forged birth certificates." The Guardian charges that "the Israeli government, desperate for new immigrants to counter the burgeoning Palestinian population, turned a blind eye." (UK Guardian, June 24)

In a June 22, 2001 Jerusalem Post article, Jonathan Rosenblum describes how the "Law of Return" of Jews to the modern state of Israel gets a little complicated: "Initially adopted in 1950, the Law of Return gave every Jew the right to immigrate to Israel. An amendment in 1970 extended that right to non-Jews who had a Jewish parent or grandparent, their spouses and the spouses of Jews. Of the 250,000 non-Jewish Russian immigrants, about 30,000 fall under the 'grandfather clause.' The rest are spouses or children of Jews. Assuming half of those 250,000 are women of childbearing age, the figures mean that in coming generations, the Jewish State will be producing non-Jews, since halachah [rabbinic Jewish law] does not accept the children of non-Jewish mothers as Jews."

Rosenblum adds that "as a consequence of the Jewish Agency's focus on numbers, Israel's churches are now filled, the sight of soldiers wearing large crucifixes no longer surprises, and over 20% of new immigrants inducted in January demanded to take their induction oath on the New Testament." Rosenblum adds that the derogatory Russian term for Jews, "Zhid", is often heard in the Russian-speaking sections of Ashkelon and Asdod, and anti-Semitic graffiti can often be seen in these Israeli cities. (Jerusalem Post, June 22, 2001)

An organization calling itself "The White Israel Union" has put up a neo-Nazi web site in based in Israel, according to May 23 Ha'aretz. The site contains racist comments against both Arabs and Jews. It lists addresses where Holocaust denial literature can be bought, as well as displays of neo-Nazi poetry. The site has a picture of activists of the White Israel Union who can be seen in the uniform of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The activists have their arms raised in a Nazi salute. The managers of the site introduce themselves as "Ilya from Haifa and Andrei from Arad," and describe themselves as "people who have pride in themselves and are sick of living among the dirty bastards." The "Who our enemies are" section describes Jews, Arabs, immigrants from Muslim republics of the former Soviet Union, Moroccans and foreign workers. The White Israel Union calls all these groups "the black-asses." The Israeli Attorney-general has ordered an investigation into the web site. (Ha'aretz, May 23; Ha'aretz, June 24)

Lilly Galli, writing in Ha'aretz May 23 says "the site resembles neo-Nazi sites in Russia, and strong connections exist between the activists here and the activists there. In the forum on the local site, there is an ambivalent attitude toward the fact that these proud white people are living in Israel... The members who live in Israel explain that they want to defend the true Russian person on Israeli soil. They have a mission." (Ha'aretz, May 23)(David Bloom) [top]

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, in the past a strong "rejectionist," has recommended a complete overhaul of the "roadmap." In a speech delivered via satellite link from Tripoli to an academic conference in London, Qaddafi called for one unified state for both the Palestinian and Israeli people. The Libyan dictator noted that the territory comprised by Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories was simply too small to accommodate two states. "The territory is too narrow to accommodate two states, and they would fight," Qaddafi said. The new name for the binational state? Qaddafi suggests "Israteen." (Jerusalem Post, Jun. 28)

The irony here is that Qaddafi is an adherent and proselytizer of "third position" ideology, an offshoot of National Socialism. According to Political Research Associates, which monitors the Far Right's attempted appropriation of the Left, "Qaddafi has sponsored several international conferences promoting his special variation of racial nationalism and cultivating ideas congruent with Third Position ideology." Qaddafi's brand of Third Positionism has won him admirers from a wide variety of racial separatists, including Nick Griffin of the racist British National Party (BNP), ultra-fascist Roberto Fiore of the Interational Third Position (ITP), and US-based black separatist Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of Islam.

Can it be that Qaddafi, who once said: "Were it not for the problem of Palestine, I would be the first to defend the Jews in the world," (International Herald Tribune,4/16/1993) has changed his racialist spots? Or is he perhaps finding a complex way to weasel his way off the greater Axis-of-Evil list, at the risk of alienating his crypto-fascist friends and fellow travelers around the world? (David Bloom)

For more on Fiore, Griffin and the Third Position [top]

Several days before the second annual June 27 Gay Pride march in Jerusalem, members of the outlawed far-right Kach party--followers of the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane--ripped down and burned many of the rainbow-colored pride flags that had been placed along the parade's route. (JTA, June 26) In a statement sent to Ma'ariv on June 18, Kach stated, "It's disgraceful that gay pride flags should fly in Jerusalem, particularly when there is an ultra-orthodox mayor." It added, "We will not permit the Jewish character of the city to be undermined." (, June 18) The recently elected ultra-orthodox mayor of Jerusalem, Uri Lupolianski, ignored calls from the Jerusalem's orthodox community to ban the march, but he did call it "an abomination." (JTA, June 26) Opined far-right activist and self-declared former Kach spokesman Itamar Ben-Gvir, "This is a disgusting parade which has no place in a Jewish state." Ben-Gvir claimed to have removed 30 flags himself.

The director of Jerusalem's Gay and Lesbian Center filed a complaint against the Kahanists for breaking the law. "The rule of law will overcome this racist movement," Hagai El-Ad said, adding that the gay pride flags were "the most prominent symbol for tolerance and openness." (Jerusalem Post, June 26) (David Bloom) [top]


Asia Times reports that, faced with growing unrest and resistance, US and Pakistani intelligence officials have secretly met with Taliban leaders "in an effort to devise a political solution to prevent the country from being further ripped apart." Asia Times said its sources was "a Pakistani jihadi leader who played a role in setting up the communication, the meeting took place recently between representatives of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and Taliban leaders at the Pakistan Air Force base of Samungli, near Quetta."

The source told Asia Times that conditions were put to the Taliban before any reconciliation can take place that could potentially lead to them having a role in the Kabul government, including: Mullah Omar must be removed as supreme leader of the Taliban; all Pakistani, Arab and other foreign fighters currently engaged in operations against international troops in Afghanistan must be expelled from the country; and any US or allied soldiers held captive must be released. The Taliban was said to have refused the first condition point blank, but "showed some flexibility on the other terms." (Syed Saleem Shahzad for Asia Times, June 14) [top]

Following a 7 June terror attack that killed four German soldiers, Germany's main servicemen's group, Armed Forces Association, has declared the peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan a failure this week and called for Germany to either win greater powers for the force or pull out all 2,300 personnel. The AFA's president, Bernhard Gertz, told the press agency DPA that the mandate of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) should be extended beyond Kabul--but with a military rather than a reconstruction mission. "The civilian staff and soldiers would go there cap in hand, with no authority, and be only able to make empty threats," he said. He warned that the potential disaster of the Taliban returning to Afghanistan was already well advanced. (DPA, June 26) [top]


Sixteen were killed and 40 wounded in Indian-held Kashmir June 23, in one of the worst 24 hours of violence since India and Pakistan began a tentative peace process in April. At least two civilians were killed when suspected rebels threw a grenade at a crowded market in Shopian, south of Kashmir's main city, Srinagar, a paramilitary official told Reuters. It was the third grenade attack in four days; 30 were injured in two grenade attacks on June 20. Police said militants shot dead three members of a family in a village near the Pakistan border. No group claimed responsibility for either attack. Six civilians and five militants were also killed in separate incidents June 23 in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim-majority state. The new violence came a day ahead of a meeting between President Bush and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. (Reuters, June 23) [top]

Talks between India and China in Beijing have led to a landmark agreement over the status of Tibet, with India formally recognizing that the area known as Tibetan Autonomous Region is part of the People's Republic of China. In return, China agreed to open border trade through Sikkim--implicitly recognizing India's claim to the area. Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee hailed the moves as a step towards normalized relations, upset by long-running border disputes, which erupted into war in 1962. The issue of Tibet's sovereignty has long been a source of tension, with the Dalai Lama leading a Tibetan government-in-exile in the Indian town of Dharamsala. China, in turn, has refused to accept that Sikkim is part of India. (BBC, June 24)


A Sri Lanka navy patrol intercepted a ship controlled by the Tamil Tiger guerillas carrying 12 people June 14, sparking a confrontation that ended with the rebel ship exploding and sinking off the country's northeast coast. Guerilla leaders said all 12 crew jumped from the ship before it exploded and were captured by the navy, but the navy denied their claims. That same day, suspected Tamil Tiger snipers killed a leading Tamil politician in the northern city of Jaffna. Subathran, a leader of the Jaffna unit of the Eelam People's Revolutionary Liberation Front, opposed the Liberation Tigers of Tamileelam, which controls much of the Jaffna Peninsula. Violence continues in Sri Lanka despite a shaky February 2002 cease-fire. (AP, June 15) [top]



The Indonesian military has used two of its US-made F-16 jets in its campaign against separatist forces in Aceh, although military officials denied reports they had bombed or fired on ground targets. Two other US-made aircraft, OV-10 Broncos, also were involved in the attacks, although air force spokesman Col. Iskandar said he could not confirm reports they had fired 16 air-to-ground rockets in the operation. Indonesian military officials played down their use of F-16, saying they had been employed only to scare rebels with the "sonic boom" that comes from flying through the sound barrier. But a military officer, Captain Mohamed Fajar, was quoted in several Indonesian newspapers as saying bombs had been dropped and three of 11 targets had been hit. Col. Iskandar said these reports were wrong and there was "no way we would use a bomb because it would create huge damage... Besides, F-16s are mainly for shooting targets in the air, it's not effective for targets on the ground."

The use of the F-16s for the first time in the offensive came as the chair of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Richard Lugar, asked President Megawati Sukarnoputri to help ensure the safety of William Nessen, an American freelance journalist who has been living for five weeks with the guerillas of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM). In a letter to Megawati, Lugar said Nessen had told his staff he believed "he will likely be killed or arrested by your military officials" if he tried to leave the guerillas.

The commander of the military operation in Aceh, Brigadier-General Bambang Darmono, reportedly spoke to Nessen by phone, assuring him he would not be shot if he left the GAM. But he said he could not comply with Nessen's request that he not be detained or questioned . (The Age, Australia, June 18)

Speaking via mobile phone to journalist Jo Mazzocchi of the Australian Broadcasting Company, Nessen (has written from Indonesian for the San Francisco Chronicle, the Boston Globe, the UK Independent and the Sydney Morning Herald) described atrocities he had witnessed in the Aceh offensive:

"The Indonesians have been able to cover this up partly because war is such a scary situation you can't go back to count how many people got killed. I can't say, but I've seen people shot next to me... I saw a man raise his arms in the air and was shot. The man that was holding my camera for me, who sometimes filmed for me, was killed a few meters away from me as he raised his arms in the air."

He also said witnesses had told him of defenseless communities being bombed from the air. Nessen believes the civilian population is being targeted in an effort to destroy the GAM's support base, with villages cut off from the outside world and running out of food:

"They're starving them, they're cutting off... I believe that this is a war to destroy the guerrilla movement. They can't destroy all the Acehnese. But the guerrillas are part of that, the ordinary people... In every village there are 10 to 15 people, I mean in the dozens of villages I've been, who consider themselves GAM members. These are unarmed people. So you multiply that by the hundreds of villages in Aceh and you get a figure that's far greater than the several thousand fighters than they have. The civilian GAM structure is in the tens of thousands. (The World Today, ABC, Australia, June 17)

The US-based Indonesia Human Rights Network (IHRN) has called upon the Indonesian government to respect freedom of the press, ensure the safety of journalists and human rights workers working in Aceh, and to end harassment and intimidation of activists and reporters focusing on the war-torn region. The New York based Committee to Protect Journalists also sent a letter to Megawati urging immediate action to ensure Nessen's safety, and the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders sent a similar letter to Indonesian military officials. But Aceh provincial governor Abullah Puteh recently commented, "Foreign journalists are here to stir up problems in Aceh" and cited Nessen as an example.

The press has repeatedly come under fire during the Indonesian military's Aceh offensive. Snipers have ambushed several press vehicles. Police and army officials have interrogated journalists reporting on army atrocities against civilians; some journalists have received death threats. Indonesia is employing an "embedded reporter" program, with Indonesian journalists undergoing "boot camp" style training and wearing military uniforms. Reporters have been warned not to report on military abuses they have witnessed. Mohamad Jamal, a cameraman for the Indonesian government-run television station TVRI, was kidnapped by unknown men on May 20, the day after the new military operations began in Aceh. Jamal's body was found on June 17 in a river near Banda Aceh, bound and gagged with duct tape with a noose around his neck. A reporter for Indonesian television station SCTV, Dhandy Dwi Laksono, was fired after interviewing an Acehnese man was about being tortured by the TNI. According to Laksono, the station received threatening messages from the military after the interview aired.

Human rights workers and attorneys have also been subject to attacks for their work in Aceh. Many have fled the region. Indonesia's National Human Rights Commission says there have been arbitrary arrests of human rights workers. In May, an organized mob of 100 thugs attacked the Jakarta office and staff of the Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KONTRAS) because of the NGO's criticism of government actions in Aceh. All foreigners have been banned from travel to Aceh.

Aceh, on the northern tip of the island of Sumatra in the west of the Indonesian archipelago, is the site of one of Asia's longest running wars. For almost 27 years, the GAM has been demanding independence from Indonesia. On last December, a cease-fire agreement was signed between Indonesia and GAM. Both sides were subsequently criticized for violating the agreement. In February, Indonesian security forces began actively undermining the agreement by targeting peaceful political and human rights activists for arrest. At talks in Tokyo, the Indonesian government demanded that GAM drop its goal of independence and disband in order to continue the talks--conditions that GAM could not fulfill. On May 19, 2003, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri declared martial law in Aceh. A few hours later, hundreds of Indonesian troops poured in and renewed attacks on both GAM and Acehnese civilians. Numerous civilians and five GAM negotiators were arrested. Under martial law they are not allowed legal representation for twenty days; this can be extended to fifty days. Human rights groups estimate some 200 civilians have been killed in Aceh since Indonesia declared martial law on May 19. Over 40,000 people have fled their homes; many are in camps without clean drinking water and adequate sanitation. Indonesia has estimated that over 300,000 people will be displaced in the military operation.

At issue is a struggle for control over the region's rich natural resources. ExxonMobil, which has gas fields in Aceh, provides Indonesian troops with economic and material support, and Acehnese activists and is accused of complicity in the murder, kidnapping and rape of local Acehnese by military forces.

(IHRN press release, June 19)


See also WW3 REPORT #87 [top]


Morocco and Algeria, tense North African neighbors but now both battling Islamic militants, have announced greater anti-terrorism cooperation. Speaking just a month after Casablanca was hit by a wave of suicide bombings blamed on Islamist extremists, Moroccan Communications Minister Nabil Benabdellah told a Paris news conference that new plans for cooperation are under way, but gave no details. "With Morocco and Algeria equally hit hard, we must ... act together to eradicate this scourge," Moroccan state news agency MAP quoted Benabdellah as saying.

Relations between Morocco and Algeria have been tense for over 25 years, largely due to the dispute over Western Sahara, claimed by the Algerian-backed Polisario Front independence movement but controlled by Morocco. Western diplomats say the US administration and European governments, particularly France and Spain, have been encouraging Morocco and Algeria to work together against terrorism. Bilateral contacts have intensified in recent months with their foreign ministers' paying reciprocal visits. Benabdellah did not rule out a meeting between King Muhammad and Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. Such a summit would be the first public meeting between the two since 1999, when Bouteflika attended the funeral of the monarch's father.

Meanwhile, four people were killed in eastern Algeria June 19 by a group of armed extremists, authorities said. The four were killed on a road near the town of El-Ancer in the Jijel region, 360 kilometers east of Algiers. Extremists have carried out several attacks in Algeria's eastern region in recent days, particularly in Kabylia, home to the large Berber minority. Three civilians were killed June 15 near Setif, 300 kilometers east of Algiers, and on the same day, four police were killed in a bomb attack at Tizi N'tletat, near Kabylia's main city, Tizi Ouzou.

A gendarme--member of the military police--was killed on June 18 and another seriously injured in an ambush on a road near Boumerdes, 50 kilometers east of Algiers. The latest attacks brought the number killed in Algeria in June to over 100. Algeria has been wracked by civil war since 1992, the year elections were cancelled by the army to keep an Islamist party from taking power. (AFP, June 20)

For more on the Casablanca attacks see WW3 REPORT #87

For more on the Western Sahara struggle, see WW3 REPORT #43

Late last year, the Bush administration announced new sales of equipment to Algeria's military-backed government to help combat Islamic militants. Officials declined to say how large the package of military equipment might be, or what would be sold, but that items were likely to include night-vision gear for use by individuals or on military vehicles. Human rights groups accuse Algeria of brutality on its crackdown over the past 10 years. Over 100,000 people have reportedly been killed in violence during the past decade; some put the number at 150,000. William Burns, assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern and Northern African affairs, said in Algiers that the US was drafting a proposal for Congress on increasing military aid to Algeria. "These steps aim at intensifying the security cooperation between the countries," he said. "Washington has much to learn from Algeria on ways to fight terrorism."

The US has had no aid program for Algeria since at least 1992, when the government canceled an election that was apparently won by the militant Islamic Salvation Front. That party was banned when the election was called off, sparking a civil war which in the last two years has dwindled to sporadic terrorist attacks. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has won praise from the Bush administration for his economic reforms, and he was one of the first Muslim leaders to offer help to the US in its campaign against terrorism after the 9-11 attacks.

Until now, the only program of US military cooperation with Algeria is one offering training and education to officers. A US official said $121,000 was spent on the program in 2001, and another $200,000 in 2002. In 2003 the program's cost is to grow to $550,000. (NYT, Dec. 10, 2002)

In 2000, the Halliburton subsidiary Kellog, Brown & Root won a contract from the Algerian state oil company Sonatrach and its partner BP-Amoco to assist in oil and gas projects in Algeria's southern desert. (Halliburton press release, Jan. 5, 2000) [top]

Algerian authorities have released at least 15 imprisoned Berber activists in the Kabylia region under measures aimed at opening dialogue between the government and the Berber movement. Those freed on bail include the activist Belaid Abrika, who figurehead for Algeria's Berber movement, which is seeking autonomy for Kabylia. The activists are due to go on trial later this year, mostly for breaching the peace. The Kabylia region has seen unrest and sporadic violence for the past two years, since the Algerian government put down riots sparked by police brutality. Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia has called on the Berbers to enter a dialogue aimed at bringing security to the region. (BBC World Service, June 11)

See also WW3 REPORT #17 [top]


1. THE NEW SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA: The World Economic Forum,
"Humanitarian Intervention" and the Secret Resource Wars

by Wynde Priddy

June 13 marked the end of the three-day African Economic Summit that took place in Durban, South Africa. The summit, organized by the World Economic Forum, had the stated objective of enhancing the continent's stalled efforts to attract new resources for development and growth.

The 600 delegates to the summit discussed how to bolster the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), the plan drawn up by African leaders to bring in new investment and aid. However, the main organizations of Africa's left opposition are expressing skepticism about NEPAD--and note that its mandates for economic liberalization come at a time of renewed Western military intervention in Africa.

"New Partnership" for Africa's Misery?

Among NEPAD's main strategies are plans for the privatization of infrastructure such as water, electricity, telcoms and transport on a continent where the limited buying power of the vast majority could make this a recipe for harsh deprivation. According to a critical report of NEPAD by Zo Randriamaro, published by the Inter-Church Coalition on Africa, the drafting process of NEPAD's main component, the Millennium Africa Recovery Programme, involved "select elites" mainly from the North, including US President George Bush, heads of transnational corporations, economists from US universities, the World Bank, and leaders from the world's richest countries. NEPAD calls for greater insertion of Africa into the world economy--but given the history of harsh exploitation by foreign interests, this could also spell entrenched marginalization.

NEPAD also insists that multi-party elections be held, but typically these elections are between variants of neo-liberal parties that support programs of privatization and globalization and do not, opponents charge, constitute genuine democracy. The plan also fosters grand visions of advancement in information and communications technology but many feel these goals are hopelessly unrealistic considering the lack of basic, reliable electricity across the continent.

NEPAD's most disconcerting proposal is to secure a lower foreign debt rather than promoting full and immediate debt cancellation, as demanded by the grassroots left-opposition across the continent. NEPAD claims it will "support existing poverty reduction initiatives at the multilateral level, such as the Comprehensive Development Framework of the World Bank and the Poverty Reduction Strategy approach linked to the Highly Indebted Poor Country debt relief initiative."

The first public protest against NEPAD occurred last June, at the World Economic Forum's Southern Africa regional meeting in Durban, where anti-apartheid poet Dennis Brutus--now acting secretary of Jubilee South Africa, demanding debt-cancellation--led over a hundred nonviolent demonstrators against horse-charging policemen. (, June 20, 2002)

This year, the WEF meeting in Durban brought out several hundred protesters. Trevor Ngwane of the Anti-Privatization Forum told the crowd outside the summit: "As we're talking now, the World Economic Forum leaders are discussing how to make the rich richer. We want to make them realize that people come first and profits last. It's a shame that the people who got to the top with our blood and sweat are the same people not wanting to lend us an ear today." (The Mercury, South Africa, June 13)

Zo Randriamaro also notes that NEPAD was finalized just after the 9-11 attacks, as the US was establishing the international coalition against terrorism. African states are now being categorized into "failed" or "failing" states which could accommodate terrorists, as opposed to governments which can demonstrate control. Some analysts warn of a "new colonization" of the continent, as the US, UK and France all prepare intervention forces for Africa's regional wars--either in the name of rooting out terrorist strongholds, or in the name of "humanitarianism," to halt genocide. But, as with NEPAD, access to Africa's resources may be a factor in the new interventionism.

Resource Free-For-All in "Greater Liberia"

France's involvement with Liberia's timber--or "logs of war" as they've been called--is one example of a resource interest in an area of armed conflict now facing Western intervention. The environmental advocacy group Global Witness recently reported that the records of Liberia's own Forestry Development Authority document that timber exploitation in the war-ravaged country is rapidly escalating. "The FDA semi-annual report covering the period from January to June 2000, reported that in those six months, production...was more than that of the previous four years put together." When sanctions were imposed on West African "conflict diamonds" which supported the activities of the brutal guerillas in Sierra Leone, France brought pressure to assure that Liberian timber would not be included in the embargo--even though this timber is a key source of revenue for Liberia's dictatorial leader Charles Taylor, who supported the Sierra Leone rebels. Meanwhile, as Taylor established de-facto control over neighboring Sierra Leone and Ivory Coast through proxy forces, French interests reaped timber profits throughout the region. As Anthony Lewis wrote for the Liberian electronic journal The Perspective: "French companies invaded 'Greater Liberia.' They were well aware of the unstable conditions in Liberia, so the port of San Pedro, in the Southwest of Ivory Coast became the port of exit of Liberian timber towards Europe. From a dying coastal town, San Pedro boomed during the war and was the market place for Liberian diamonds, timber and gold."

Global Witness also cited the Oriental Timber Corporation--the company presently implicated destroying the Liberian rainforest--as having exclusive use of the eastern town of Buchanan, from which it ships huge quantities of timber to Europe, mainly France. France has a long history of "humanitarian interventions" in Africa, most recently Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo--areas containing such valuable resources as rainforest timber, chocolate, coffee, diamonds, and coltan. (See WW3 REPORT #89)

However, according to a Human Rights Watch report, it looks as though Taylor's days may be numbered. The Sierra Leone Special Court on the recently-ended conflict in the country approved an indictment against Taylor on March 7, and a warrant for his arrest has been served on the authorities in the neighboring Ghana, alerting them should he take refuge there. Interpol has also been alerted to have Taylor arrested. Taylor claims, of course, that he is not under the jurisdiction of the Sierra Leone Special Court, but the issuance of the warrant should mean that Taylor would be arrested by the government of any country he travels to. The indictment charges the Liberian president with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of international humanitarian law in Sierra Leone. (See WW3 REPORT #86)

Peter Takirambudde, Executive Director of the Africa division of Human Rights Watch said, "The indictment against Taylor sends a strong message that no one is above the law when it comes to accountability for war crimes." He added, "Charles Taylor should not be immune from prosecution for these crimes simply because he is the president of Liberia. His indictment is a tremendous step forward, but his arrest would be even better."

But it seems unlikely that Taylor's paymasters in Paris will similarly see justice. With the world's eyes elsewhere, Africa is quietly suffering, and NEPAD may only ensure that the suffering will continue--while "security" and "humanitarian aid" become the pretexts for superpower occupation of the continent. [top]

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan called June 28 for a multinational force to be sent to Liberia to halt fighting between government and rebel forces that has killed hundreds. France joined calls for an intervention force for Liberia, and said it was in talks with the US on how to proceed. Annan, visiting Geneva, issued his call in a letter to the Security Council, which he said should meet immediately to agree on intervention. A sudden rebel offensive on the capital Monrovia left hundreds dead before President Charles Taylor's forces battled the guerillas back beyond the city's limits. Two rebel factions now control 60% of Liberia, and President Bush urging Taylor to step down. French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said:. "We need an international intervention in Liberia now. We're in contact with the US to see what we can do to manage this emergency situation. We'll have some results in the coming hours. A dynamic process has started." France has already sent troops to neighboring Ivory Coast to help end a civil war closely linked to that in Liberia. Marchers, many driven from their homes by fighting, have repeatedly converged on the US embassy, chanting "We want peace, no more war." Many Liberians look to the US for help because of its historical links with the country, founded over 150 years ago by freed African American slaves.

The fighting in Monrovia was the worst since the 1990s, when corpses lay unburied as rival factions vied for control. Negotiations in Ghana have been adjourned for a week, and although both sides say they are committed to talks, an official a cease-fire last week never really took hold. Taylor has asked for US assistance, despite Bush's demand that he step down to end bloodshed that has also spread violence to all Liberia's neighbors--Sierra Leone, Ivory Coast and Guinea. The UK has also said it would like to see the USs lead a multinational force into Liberia, but officials in Washington have so far ruled out sending peacekeepers. (Reuters, June 28) [top]


US military intervention in Liberia looked likely June 26 as President George Bush called on President Charles Taylor to stand down, drawing applause from an audience of businessmen, academics and African leaders.. "President Taylor needs to step down so that his country can be spared further bloodshed," he said. With a US Navy amphibious assault ship, the USS Kearsarge, just off the Liberian coast carrying 1,200 Marines, Bush has the option of ordering a significant deployment to one of Africa's most chaotic countries. If the US does send troops to Liberia, it will create a diplomatic symmetry in West Africa, matching Britain's deployment to Sierra Leone dating from 2000 and France's Ivory Coast operation since last year. Reports the UK Telegraph: "Last week almost every civilian spoken to in a straw poll in Monrovia begged for military assistance from America to help break the cycle of violence." (UK Telegraph, June 27) [top]

A UN panel tracing gun-running to West Africa found that thousands of automatic rifles, hand grenades and mines from Serbia reached Liberia last year in violation of Security Council sanctions. The independent Council-appointed panel said it suspected that preparations were underway for another shipment of 50 tons of Serbian military equipment to Liberia via Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The arms were brokered by the Belgrade-based company Temex. The Moldovan company Aerocom and the Belgian affiliate of Ducor World Airlines transported the weapons to Liberia, with freight-forwarding agent Interjug AS providing the paperwork at Belgrade Airport, the panel said. The report called Temex exec Slobodan Tesic the "chief sanctions buster." Tesic has denied ever visiting Liberia but the panel traced his registration at hotels in Monrovia, the Liberian capital. A Lockheed aircraft was chartered from Ducor World Airlines, whose chief executive Duane Egli told the panel his crew was physically threatened at Belgrade Airport and forced to fly to Liberia. The panel said it was concerned that further weapons shipments to Liberia via Democratic Republic of Congo from Belgrade were are planned.

Two years ago, the UN Security Council two years ago imposed an arms embargo, a ban on diamond exports and a travel ban on Liberian President Charles Taylor and his top associates for fueling civil war in neighboring Sierra Leone through a guns-for-diamond trade. In May, the embargo was extended for another year, and expanded to include timber exports. (Reuters, June 5) [top]

A June 15 AP analysis piece noted how in many of Africa's wars, "Cold War contests set the stage for today's. In Liberia, the CIA in the 1980s made the American-founded country its staging ground for anti-Libya activities. Liberia became Africa's largest per capita recipient of US aid. Libya countered by backing the overthrow of Liberia's U.S.-supported government, training and arming the guerrilla leader who launched Liberia into war in 1989: Charles Taylor."

The report also noted how the US backed Mobutu Sese Seko, dictator of Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) for over 30 years--then groomed rebel groups to overthrow him when he had outlived his usefulness in the post-Cold War era. These same tribal rebel groups are today ravaging eastern Congo. [top]

Tony Blair has privately told aides the world's democracies should not hesitate to topple dictators like Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe when they can, the UK's Evening Standard reported June 27. The suggestion that the US, UK and other world powers should be involved in widespread regime-change efforts goes much farther than anything the Prime Minister has said in public. It is likely to alarm his critics, but it also answers the charge that Blair targeted Saddam Hussein in obedience to Bush, while ignoring worse evils. Blair's view is revealed in the book "Thirty Days, the Inside Diary of No 10," by Peter Stothard, to be published next month. [top]

The London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Hayat reported June 12 that Sudanese government forces had attacked a suspected terrorist cell, including some Saudis, after chasing them down for two weeks. The suspects had escaped from a camp in the area of Laqawah, in the western part of the country, where they had been training along with 17 Saudis and one Palestinian. The latter were arrested by security forces and extradited to Riyadh, but several men are still holding out. The governor of West Kurdifan Province, Gen Al-Tayib Abd-al-Rahman Mukhtar, said that authorities have laid siege to no fewer than 15 suspects on a Laqawah mountainside. Last October, Khartoum also extradited to Riyadh a Saudi who attempted to hijack a Saudi plane on a flight from Khartoum to Jedda. (Via BBC Monitoring, June 13)

Later in June, the Greek seizure of an explosive-laden ship bound for Sudan prompted heated exchanges between the two governments. Khartoum insisted that the cargo of 680 tons of high explosives and an estimated 140,000 detonators, loaded in Tunisia, were for civilian use in cement plants. Its foreign minister, Mustafa Ismail, accused Athens of ordering the seizure of the Baltic Sky June 22 before knowing "all the facts." But Greece, keen to shore up its image before the 2004 Olympics and on high security alert during its months as EU president, rejected Ismail's claims. Officials said the vessel's long and winding course--six weeks in the Mediterranean and Black Sea--raised the suspicion of western intelligence agencies and NATO's anti-terrorist taskforce. The arrested crew--five Ukrainians and two Azerbaijanis--could be jailed for up to 20 years for illegally transporting explosives. The vessel, flying the flag of the Comoros Islands, has been impounded in Platiyali, Greece. (UK Guardian, June 25)

Meanwhile, war continues in Sudan's southern Darfur region, where government forces battle the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army (SLM/A), a new rebel group which emerged earlier this year. The rebel movement accuses Khartoum of excluding Darfur, one of the most arid regions in Africa's largest country, from development and state power. It has also recently called for the overthrow of the "Islamic regime in Khartoum and its replacement with a democratic government." The Darfur rebels have no apparent links with the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), a southern rebel group which has been fighting for greater autonomy for the south from successive Islamist governments since 1983. But analysts say the SLM/A appears to be emulating the SPLM/A, which has brought the government to the negotiating table after two decades of war in which some two million people died. (Reuters, April 26)

See also WW3 REPORT #'s 11 & 2 [top]

Ugandan Christian fundamentalist rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) reportedly killed 18 people in the northern district of Apac--including a six-year-old boy. Missionaries said that rebel leader Joseph Kony had ordered the killing of clergy and the destruction of missions. The LRA, feared for its practice of maiming villagers and abducting children for use as soldiers and sex slaves, is engaged in a 17-year insurgency against the government. "Last week in a radio communication with his commanders he was heard ordering the killing of Catholic priests and nuns," Father Carlos Rodriguez told Reuters by telephone from the northern district of Gulu. Rodriguez said the message had been intercepted because Kony, a self-styled prophet who wants to found a state based on Biblical law, was using radio equipment stolen from missions. "We have no reason to doubt the message was authentic," Rodriguez said. "In the last five weeks LRA has burned, bombed and desecrated churches on nine occasions." (Reuters, June 16)

Ironically, both Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and Sudanese guerillas charge that the Christian extremist LRA is supported by the Islamist regime in neighboring Sudan, as a means of weakening the rival Museveni regime. (New Vision, Kampala, June 24) [top]

Wrote AP June 25: "Which war has claimed the most lives since World War II? Korea? Vietnam? Not even close. The answer is the continuing conflict in Congo. There are no firm figures on the death toll, but the range is believed to lie between 2 million and 4.7 million. Assuming the low end estimate, that's equivalent to a 9-11 every day for 666 days. The International Rescue Committee estimates that 3.3 million people have died throughout Congo, most of them from war-induced famine and disease. And there is nothing resembling a weapon of mass destruction in the conflict. The weapons of choice for the most part are bows and arrows, machetes, assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades. Child soldiers abound. Orphans, some of them under 10, often have little choice other than to join one of the militias doing the fighting. Despite three peace agreements aimed at ending the 5-year-old Congolese war, fighting intensified in late 2002 and early 2003."

The report actually quoted Secretary of State Colin Powell in a comparison of the death toll from the 20th century's major wars and that from AIDS in contemporary Africa: "You could take all of the lives lost through weapons of mass destruction over the past century...go through World War I, go through Hiroshima, go through Nagasaki, go through all of them. Put all of those numbers together, multiply by 10 and you don't reach the number of people who will die from HIV/AIDS in the next 12 months."

The report noted that the Bush administration is seeking $15 billion from Congress to fight global AIDS--but failed to note how miniscule this sum is compared to that spent on the Iraq war and occupation, or how the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria has been chronically under-funded since its creation in 2001. (See WW3 REPORT #88) [top]

US officials flew five men suspected of helping funnel money to al-Qaeda out of Malawi, despite a court order preventing their deportation, Malawian officials charged June 25. The men were arrested June 21 night with aid from the CIA and handed over to US authorities, Malawi intelligence officials told AP on condition of anonymity. The men were flown to nearby Botswana on an Air Malawi flight, the officials said. Director of Public Prosecutions Fahad Assani said the men were handed over to US authorities, and that he had not been informed of their whereabouts. "These people are out of reach for us. It's the Americans who know where they are," Assani told the AP. Officials in Malawi said the five suspects had been on the CIA's "watch list" since the 1998 truck bombings of US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Their transfer to US custody came the day after a judge issued an injunction against their deportation. Apparently without knowing the men were already gone, the High Court ruled that the government's attempts to deport the men without charging them violated Malawi law, ordering prosecutors to either charge them or release them. (AP, June 25) [top]


US President George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair are accused of war crimes in Iraq under a fiercely contested Belgian law, the Brussels government announced. But the justice ministry said the Belgian cabinet had referred the cases against Bush, Blair and six other high-ranking officials to the US and British governments, making any trials unlikely. The lawsuits, brought under Belgium's "universal competence law," could still deepen tensions between Washington and Brussels, which opposed the war in Iraq. The 10-year-old law gives Belgium's courts the right to judge anyone accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, regardless of where the crime took place.

Also named in the suits were US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld's deputy Paul Wolfowitz, Attorney General John Ashcroft, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and outgoing Central Command chief Gen. Tommy Franks. Bush, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rice and Wolfowitz were additionally accused over the US-led campaign in Afghanistan.

But a recent revision to the law by the Belgian parliament allows authorities to pass the complaint on to another government when the accused is not Belgian and his or her country has adequate war crimes legislation in place. The amendment was designed to prevent "frivolous" cases. "The fact that a decision was taken by the cabinet within 24 hours shows that this filter works," foreign ministry spokesman Patrick Herman told AFP. But Rumsfeld said that Belgium would face consequences unless it ditched the law, which he branded "absurd." Rumsfeld was backed by British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon, who called the Belgian law a matter of "great concern."

Outgoing Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said he wanted to circumvent the dispute by extending diplomatic immunity to all official visitors to international bodies on Belgian territory. "We want everyone who wants to visit the headquarters of international organisations in Brussels to be able to do so without any problems," said Verhofstadt, who is trying to put together a new coalition government after winning elections in May.

So far the only convictions under the Belgian law have been those of four Rwandans found guilty in 2001 of taking part in the 1994 genocide in their homeland. (AFP, June 20)

See also WW3 REPORT #84 [top]

Greek riot police fired teargas to disperse anarchists who threw stones and tried to pass police barricades around a European Union summit June 20. The violence erupted as about 4,000 protesters staged an anti-EU march in the village of Marmaras, just outside the summit site at the Porto Carras beach resort, southeast of Thessaloniki. Helmeted police wearing gas masks drove a breakaway group of about 300 into brush and pine woods around Marmaras. (Reuters, June 20) [top]


US State Department officials met secretly with an emissary of the United Colombian Self-Defense (AUC), the nation's main paramilitary federation, according to a four-page memo disclosed June 12 in the Colombian press. The US officials reportedly assured him that AUC's talks with the Colombian government should take priority over efforts to have paramilitary leaders captured and brought to the US for trial

In a three-hour meeting May 3, US Embassy political officer Alexander Lee told the emissary that the US would continue pushing for the arrest and extradition of AUC leaders Salvatore Mancuso and Carlos Castano, but that the two might receive leniency--including "detention in specially conditioned units"--if they cooperate. They are charged with smuggling 17 tons of cocaine into the US and Europe.

The emissary, identified only as "Pablo," wrote the document to summarize the meeting for Mancuso. "Pablo" also sent the memo to President Alvaro Uribe's peace commissioner, Luis Carlos Restrepo, and a copy was obtained by the Medellin daily El Colombiano.

The memo said the AUC leaders would agree to pay reparations to victims of paramilitary attacks, but that they are negotiating under the expectations that their members won't serve prison time. Lee, according to the memo, said the State Department desired "some type of reparation for what has happened, given that there can't be a feeling of total impunity."

Human rights groups say AUC massacres of civilians account for most of the war's 3,500 annual killings and that the group receives support from Colombia's US-backed security forces. The US State Department has officially classified the AUC as a "terrorist organization" since 2001. US Attorney General John Ashcroft announced indictments against Mancuso, Casta–o and their associate Juan Carlos Sierra-Ram’rez last September, calling them violent drug traffickers who "threaten our national security."

The memo's disclosure followed a June 8 report in the Bogota weekly El Espectador about negotiations between the AUC leaders and the CIA this spring. Citing Colombian intelligence sources, the report said the talks involved Mancuso, Castano and CIA agents in the cities of Bogota, Medell’n and Monteria, between March and May.

On June 13, a US Embassy statement admitted the May 3 meeting occurred. "But contrary to certain reports in the Colombian media, there was no negotiation, just a reiteration of US policy," the statement said in Spanish. "US policy is that Colombians for whom a judicial process has opened in the United States should be extradited and that those who violate human rights should be judged for their crimes."

The Uribe administration started negotiating with the AUC shortly after taking office last August. Next month the administration plans to introduce legislation for parole of some imprisoned paramilitary fighters. The government has indicated no plans to resume negotiations with the nation's major guerrilla groups: the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). Former President Andres Pastrana's administration broke off those talks last year.

(AP, June 12; El Tiempto, El Colombiano, June 13; El Espectador, June 8)

( From Colombia Week, June 15)

See also WW3 REPORT #62 [top]

US Ambassador Anne Patterson said June 19 that Washington "is financing some activities associated with" negotiations between the Colombian government and the AUC paramilitary federation. President Alvaro Uribe's administration initiated talks with the AUC shortly after he took office last August. Patterson, who is leaving her post at the end of the month, referred to the US funding during a forum on US-Colombia relations after the Iraq war. (El Espectador, El Tiempo, June 19)

(From Colombia Week, June 22) [top]

More than 10,000 part-time "peasant soldiers" have been sworn in by the Colombian army in the second phase of a anti-guerilla program harshly criticized by human rights groups. Inducted in ceremonies around the country June 16, the new recruits joined 5,000 "peasant soldiers" trained earlier this year. "The idea that this war is going to last forever is fiction," President Alvaro Uribe said at a ceremony in Guasca, a Spanish colonial town 25 miles northeast of Bogota. "The time has come to defeat terrorism."

The program recruits rural men aged 18 to 24, trains them, and returns them to their hometowns, where they serve as soldiers for two years. With their roots in the population, the troops will improve the tracking of leftist guerrillas, officials say. But rights monitors fear the peasant soldiers could become tools of rightist paramilitary groups--and that their families will become guerrilla targets. "They have been converted into cannon fodder for a cheap army," government ombudsperson Eduardo Cifuentes Munoz told the Los Angeles Times. "It generates a dangerous situation for the young soldiers and for the communities they are in."

The new deployment expands the peasant-soldier presence to 457 of Colombia's 1,098 municipalities. The troops live in barracks and are not allowed to stay overnight in their families' homes. They receive food, weapons and uniforms, and the same pay, $17 a month, as regular soldiers. But their training is only three months--two fewer than what regular soldiers get. They are officially instructed in handling explosives, rescuing hostages, respecting human rights and regaining control of towns attacked by guerrillas. The army is also creating a secret network of peasant informers to supply intelligence. And the government is increasing the number of full-time soldiers, while phasing out army conscription, and deploying National Police officers to scores of municipalities lacking any police presence.

When Uribe was Antioquia Province governor from 1995 to 1997, he promoted a civilian watch program, Convivir, whose participants are accused of carrying out massacres, often in coordination with paramilitaries and official armed forces. The nation's Constitutional Court described Convivir groups as "death squads" in 1997 and ordered them to disarm.

Amnesty International foresees dire consequences from recruiting peasants as informants and part-time soldiers: "The government's policies will legitimize attacks against and silence those sectors of the civilian population labeled as guerrilla collaborators by the security forces and their allies. These include groups campaigning for socioeconomic alternatives, peasant farmers living in conflict zones and witnesses of human rights violations in which the security forces are implicated." (AP, Reuters, June 16; BBC, June 17; El Espectador, June 17; El Pais, June 13; El Tiempo, June 2, 12, 16; Los Angeles Times, May 2)

(From Colombia Week, June 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #65 [top]

Witnesses report that members of the army's Second Brigade helped a paramilitary group known as the Calima Bloc kill six unarmed civilians and wound eight others late June 14 in Zabaletas, a community in the Pacific Coast municipality of Buenaventura, Valle de Cauca department. The killers apparently accused the victims of being sympathizers of the FARC guerrillas. President Alvaro Uribe's government says it's working to cut links between official security forces and illegal paramilitary groups. But Amnesty International and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States have cited an increase in joint military-paramilitary operations. Last month AI also reported the "direct involvement by the security forces in serious human rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, torture, 'disappearances' and killings." (El Tiempo, June 16, 19)

(From Colombia Week, June 22) [top]

On June 19, a judge sentenced a retired army colonel to 40 years in prison for conspiring with paramilitaries to massacre 30 peasants in 1997 in the jungle village of Mapiripan, Meta department. In one of the heaviest sentences ever against a Colombian officer convicted of rights abuses, Judge Lester Gonzalez ruled that Col. Lino Sanchez and paramilitary chief Carlos Castano "co-authored" the killings, according to court documents obtained by Reuters. Castano received the same sentence, but he has been sentenced for other killings and faces no immediate threat of jail as his AUC paramilitary network negotiates with the government. In 2001, a military tribunal sentenced former Gen. Jaime Humberto Uscategui to over three years in prison for failing to prevent the massacre. Human rights groups said the sentence was far too light, and Colombia's attorney general is retrying him. (El Tiempo, June 20; Reuters, June 19)

(From Colombia Week, June 22) [top]

Days of charges and countercharges followed a June 7 report that the resignation of an army brigade commander resulted from months of US pressure. Cambio newsweekly claimed Gen. Gabriel Ramon Diaz Ortiz "maintained operating relations" with paramilitary drug traffickers during his three years as head of the army's Second Brigade, based in the Atlantic port of Barranquilla, and that he permitted a shipment of two tons of cocaine and 24 rifles to be returned to a paramilitary leader. Washington also reportedly accused Diaz Ortiz of human rights violations when he commanded the army's 24th Brigade in the southern department of Putumayo in the late 1990s. Diaz Ortiz denied the accusations, insisting that he is being persecuted by non-governmental organizations for his efforts against the nation's leftist guerrillas. He blamed National Police chief Gen. Teodoro Campo for the disappearance of the contraband. Campo denied the charge. Army commander Gen. Carlos Alberto Ospina and Defense Minister Marta Luc’a Ramirez denied the ouster resulted from US pressure, and said it wasn't a punishment. They defended Diaz Ortiz and noted the absence of any government investigation into his conduct. Sen. Edgar Artunduaga responded that officials who defend the disgraced general are damaging the armed forces' credibility.

(Cambio, Junbe 7; El Colombiano, El Espectador, June 9; El Tiempo, June 6, 8, 9)

(From Colombia Week, June 15) [top]

Colombia's FARC guerillas have called for a summit meeting with of 19 Latin American and Caribbean nationse. In June 15 statement, FARC proposed that the meeting resemble the May 23-24 Rio Group summit in Cusco, Peru, where leaders called for UN pressure on the guerrillas to declare a ceasefire. The FARC statement charged Colombian President Alvaro Uribe with misleading the summit participants. Colombian foreign relations chief Carolina Barco dismissed the idea of a summit with the FARC, saying peace talks should occur "through the UN secretary general" and that a guerrilla cease-fire would be a precondition. (El Colombiano, El Espectador, El Tiempo, Reuters, June 17)

(From Colombia Week, June 22) [top]

Jenny Rocio Mendivelso Mejia, a prominent former guerrilla involved in efforts to demobilize armed rebels, was murdered June 8 in Bogota, casting doubt on government efforts to protect insurgents who lay down their arms. Mendivelso, who left the FARC in late 2000, was shot twice in the face in the middle of a busy cafe. Since last year, she had managed a shelter that was part of a five-year-old government program for "the reinserted"--former members of the leftist guerillas and rightist paramilitary groups. Arrested for the murder were ex-FARC members Esteban Romero Topa and Hernan Dar’o Canticus Mairongo, both residents of Mendivelso's shelter. Police said Romero had confessed to the murder and had accused Mendivelso of pressuring him to return to the FARC. A friend of Mendivelso's in Bogota who helps former FARC members reintegrate into society called Romero's alleged statement preposterous. "His justification for murdering her is simply not true," said the friend, asked to remain anonymous. "She was committed to the lives of those with whom she was working and that meant, very clearly, not taking up arms again and not being an informant."

The "reinsertion" program's $14 million annual budget contributes to housing, food and job training for the former combatants, as well as radio announcements and leaflet drops over guerrilla-controlled territory. So far this year, the program has enrolled 693 participants, almost three times more than in all of 2002. This is the first year paramilitaries have been allowed to enroll.

But the murder shows that the 18,000-strong FARC has infiltrated the program and that deserters can't count on the government for security, Mendivelso's friend said. "What chance do they have, knowing they can be hunted down wherever they go?" He added: "This was an act of war. Jenny hoped for a different future. With her death dies the hope of so many others."

( Julia Olmstead for Colombia Week, June 15) [top]

Colombia's government announced June 11 that it had dissolved state-owned National Telecommunications Company (Telecom), allowing the company to lay off employees. Telecom president Alfonso Gomez said the company was being reconstituted under the same name and would probably lay off half of its 10,000 workers. Telecom controls 40 percent of Colombia's fixed phone lines and provides national and international long-distance service and Internet options. It has been losing money since 1996, and lost $166 million last year, President Alvaro Uribe's office said in a statement. Interior and Justice Minister Fernando Londo–o Hoyos said other state enterprises may face the same treatment. But labor leaders pledged protests and walkouts against further privatization efforts. Jorge Lerma, president of the Union of Communications Workers, said the government is "handing over the country's economy to multinational corporations." Telecom headquarters in downtown Bogota was shuttered and ringed with dozens of riot police and army troops the day after the announcement, as some 100 workers gathered outside to denounce the layoffs. (AP, El Espectador, June 13; El Tiempo, June 12, 13)

(From Colombia Week, June 15) [top]

About 600,000 Colombians marched in cities nationwide June 19 to defend their jobs as President Alvaro Uribe pushes privatization plans. The marches were part of a one-day strike prompted by the dissolution of Telecom a week earlier and by government plans to sell off parts of the oil company Ecopetrol and other state-owned enterprises. Riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons on hundreds of workers protesting outside Telecom's Bogota headquarters. Some protesters threw stones at police, although no injuries or arrests were reported. The strike paralyzed judicial, health and social security services, union officials said. It was the third national strike since Uribe came to power last August on promises that his policies would help the nation's economy. (AP, El Espectador, El Tiempo, June 19, 20)

(From Colombia Week, June 22) [top]

More union officials were assassinated in Colombia last year than in all other nations combined, according to the new annual report of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU). The report finds that 184 of 2002's 213 unionists murdered worldwide were Colombian. Eighty Colombian union officials were forced to flee abroad, and there were 27 failed assassination attempts, 189 death threats, 9 "disappearances," 139 arbitrary arrests and 27 abductions. Colombia has long topped the ICFTU list of shame, but the Brussels-based organization said the situation has deteriorated markedly, with fewer unionized workers and little effort to bring the killers--mostly paramilitaries--to justice. Many of the victims are public-sector unionists who have taken strong stands against economic liberalization and privatization. (BBC, June 10; El Tiempo, June 9, 10; Financial Times, June 10; UK Guardian, June 11; Reuters, June 9).

(From Colombia Week, June 15)

See also WW3 REPORT #89 [top]

On June 8, unknown assailants killed a mayoral candidate and three members of his entourage in an ambush that also left four others wounded on the road between the towns of Supia and Riosucio in the central department of Caldas. All of the victims were members of the indigenous Embera-Chami group. In the days before the attack, Gabriel Angel Cartagena, who had been campaigning for Riosucio mayor, had been labeled a guerrilla sympathizer by Riosucio officials and threatened by paramilitaries. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights office in Bogota said both the paramilitary United Colombian Self-Defense (AUC) and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) have stepped up attacks on the Embera-Chami since 2001. The National Indigenous Organization of Colombia (ONIC) denounced "the silence of the government" in the face of the attacks. ONIC says that this year armed groups have murdered 300 Indians nationwide. (El Espectador, June 10; El Tiempo, June 10, 11).

(From Colombia Week, June 15)

See also WW3 REPORT #89 [top]

On June 4 in Cucuta, Norte de Santander department, four gunmen assassinated human rights activist, leftist political leader and poet Tirso Velez, a former mayor of Tibu. His wife, Isabel Obregon Toscano, was wounded in the attack. Velez was a member of the Patriotic Union and candidate with the Polo Democratico for next October's elections for governor of Norte de Santander. A recent poll showed his ahead of all other candidates. (La Opinion, El Colombiano, El Tiempo, June 5)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 8) [top]

The Colombian government's official ombudsperson Eduardo Cifuentes issued a report June 9 finding Panama violated the human rights of 109 Colombian refugees in the Panamanian village of Punusa by forcibly repatriating them April 21. The Panamanian police forced many of the refugees--including 65 children and many who can't read--to sign "voluntary" repatriation forms. The removal separated families and left the refugees without most of their possessions. The US Committee for Refugees had said the removal violated an agreement between Panama and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees because President Mireya Moscoso's government did not inform the commissioner of the repatriation. Panamanian National Police chief Carlos Bares called Cifuentes' finding "irresponsible." (AFP, EFE, June 9; El Tiempo, June 8)

(From Colombia Week, June 15)

See also WW3 REPORT #79 [top]

A recent decision by the Superior Administrative Court of Cundinamarca, Colombia, released to the public June 25, declared that the aerial spraying of herbicides to eradicate coca and poppy crops violates Colombians' constitutionally-protected rights to a healthy environment, security and public health. The court ordered that the aerial spraying of potent glyphosate herbicides be suspended until the government complies with the Environmental Management Plan for the eradication program, and conducts a series of required studies to protect human health and the environment.

This verdict supplements earlier declarations by the Colombian Constitutional Court and the State Council, which respectively ordered the suspension of spraying in indigenous territories and full compliance with the Environmental Management Plan approved by the Ministry of Environment.

According to Yamile Salinas of the Colombian Ombudsman's Office, "This ruling recognizes the potential risks that the herbicide and the manner in which it is being applied pose to human health and the environment in Colombia." Added Anna Cederstav, staff scientist with the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense: "The US Congress has required the State Department to evaluate environmental and health impacts of Plan Colombia. This decision by a court in Colombia must be taken into account by the US State Department."

(Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense, AIDA, press release, Oakland, CA, June 27)

See also WW3 REPORT #89

The case was brought by the attorneys Hector Alberto Suarez Mej’a and Claudia Sampedro Torres, who said "The Ministry of Health has not authorized the spraying as it is being carried out, and the Ministry of the Environment has called for an end to the spraying, as the required technical studies do not exist."(El Espectador, Bogota, June 27) [top]

The US State Department paid 17 private companies at least $150 million for military and police operations in Colombia last year, according to a department report analyzed by the Bogota daily El Tiempo. The largest contract fetched $79.2 million for DynCorp Aerospace Technologies, based in Reston, VA. The company provided pilots and technical personnel for drug eradication programs of Colombia's army and National Police. Some of the pilots flew US-supplied Black Hawk and Huey helicopters that protect crop dusters from guerrilla attacks. The contracts helped boost the company's revenues by more than 15% in 2002, leading to its acquisition this March by Computer Sciences Corp., based in El Segundo, CA.

The corporation winning the most State Department contracts in Colombia last year was Lockheed Martin, based in Bethesda, MD. Lockheed, the world's largest military company, scored eight contracts, including a $4.2 million job to help Colombia's army operate transport planes.

Public relations services for Colombia's defense ministry generated $2.4 million for the DC-based Rendon Group, which has also overseen propaganda campaigns in Iraq, Kuwait, Haiti, Kosovo and Zimbabwe for customers ranging from the CIA to foreign governments.

Congress has capped the number of US troops and contract workers in Colombia at 400 each. But lawmakers know little about the dcontracts. The State Department report does not cover Defense Department contracts or payments kept secret to protect "national security."

Critics point out that the work often seems slapdash. Military Professional Resources Inc., based in Alexandria, Virginia, was hired to analyze Colombia's war, but the documents it produced reportedly included few new ideas and frequently spelled "Colombia" incorrectly. But this apparently hasn't hurt the company's fortunes. MPRI spokesperson Ed Soyster, former head of the Pentagon's Defense Intelligence Agency, says the firm has grown from eight employees in 1988 to more than 900 today.

US pilots flying military missions under contract in Colombia have had at least three crashes this year, resulting in the kidnappings of three US contractors by guerrillas. Five other contractors have been killed this year. Brookings Institution fellow Peter W. Singer, author of "Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry" (Cornell 2003), says some of the crashes might be due to unqualified contractors working on airplane maintenance. (American Prospect, May 1; Christian Science Monitor, May 9; El Tiempo, June 18; Miami Herald, April 8)

(From Colombia Week, June 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #81 [top]

A Colombian judge has denied defense accusations that he is under pressure from the police and military to convict three accused Irish Republican militants charged with teaching Colombian guerillas to make bombs. "There is no pressure here. A judge's job is not to submit to pressure," Jairo Acosta told Reuters after he adjourned the eight-month-old trial until July 28, when he will hear final defense and prosecution arguments. Acosta will decide the verdicts and sentences for Jim Monaghan, Niall Connolly and Martin McCauley. British and Colombian police say they are members of the Irish Republican Army. Prosecutors are demanding sentences of up to 20 years in prison for the three, arrested in August 2001 as they tried to leave Colombia using false passports. The Irishmen admitted spending time in a FARC enclave but denied they were IRA members, saying they were in Colombia to study now-defunct peace talks between the FARC and the government. The enclave was part of a demilitarized zone ceded to the FARC by former President Andres Pastrana to spur the talks.

An imprisoned former FARC member testified he saw Monaghan, Connolly and McCauley instructing guerillas how to make bombs and mortars between February 5 and 27, 2001. But defense witness Mike Ritchie submitted a video to the court that shows Monaghan hosting a Dublin conference on peace and reconciliation February 7, 2001. Laurence McKeown, who spent 16 years in Northern Ireland's Maze prison, testified he saw Monaghan giving a speech in Belfast on February 22, 2001. McKeown also submitted sworn affidavits from people who had worked with Monaghan in Ireland on the dates the prosecution says he was in Colombia. For reasons that remain unclear, Acosta rejected the affidavits. He also refused to accept work records for McCauley indicating he was in Ireland on the dates in question. The Irishmen have refused to appear in court, saying the case is politically motivated. They are currently being held in their sixth Colombian prison, El Modelo, a facility near Bogota known for violence and inmate mistreatment.

Natalie Kabasakalian, a human rights attorney who served as Amnesty International country specialist for Ireland and Britain from 1999 to 2002, said the defendants should be freed immediately: "The credible testimony presented by defense witnesses establishes conclusively that prosecution witnesses lied, and that the prosecutor suborned the perjurious testimony and knowingly submitted unreliable documents into evidence." (Irish Times, Reuters, June 16, 17)

(From Colombia Week, June 22)

See also WW3 REPORT #47 [top]

The entire cabinet of Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo resigned June 25, amid a wave of strikes and unrest which threatens to bring down Toledo himself. This follows the refusal of his party, the Peru Possible movement, to approve a tax increase to finance a pay rise agreement with the country's school teachers--unanimously endorsed by cabinet. Peru's 280,000 teachers ended a month-long strike on June 12, after their union, SUTEP, finally accepted a deal negotiated with the government. Under the terms of the agreement, teachers would get a $30 increase in their monthly salaries, with further rises and improved working conditions to follow. (Green Left Weekly, Australia, July 2)

Some 30,000 took part in a peaceful march June 3 in Lima, organized by the General Confederation of Peruvian Workers (CGTP) to demand an end to the 30-day state of emergency President Alejandro Toledo decreed May 27. The march was illegal under the state of emergency, but police did not attempt to stop it. Similar marches took place in at least 20 other cities. In Arequipa, the march coincided with a regional strike that shut down public transport and universities. (La Republica, Lima, June 4, 5, and wire services, via Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 8)

See also WW3 REPORT #89 [top]

A group of 26 Bolivian opposition legislators ended a hunger strike on June 4 following an agreement reached with legislators from the ruling coalition. The hunger5 strike was initially called to demand an extraordinary session of Congress to address pressing national issues. After President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada agreed May 31 to call the session for June 3, some indigenous legislators continued the strike to demand that more issues be added to the sessions' agenda. (AP, June 4)

Also on June 4, some 50 survivors of political crimes committed by the Bolivian dictatorship in the 1970s suspended a hunger strike they were holding at a union office. The protesters pledged to petition the spwecial session to take up a proposed law that would grant them compensation. (AP, June 4)

On June 3, police intervened in a hunger strike by laid-off workers from the Bolivian Mail Company, removing 20 children who were participating in the action with their parents. (AP, June 3)

After two weeks on hunger strike, on June 2 a group of 21 unemployed miners used brick and cement to seal themselves and 11 family members into the La Paz offices of the Union Federation of Bolivian Mine Workers. The workers are demanding they be rehired at their previous jobs in the Huanuni mine. The family members participating in the action included four children ranging in age from four to 12. The following day, the children were released to a regional representative of the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights of Bolivia. (El Diario, La Paz, June 3)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 8) [top]

On June 6, Chilean foreign minister Soledad Alvear and US trade representative Robert Zoellick met in Miami to sign a trade pact which the US has pushed as the next step towards the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), a hemispheric bloc the US hopes to have in place by 2005. The US-Chile accord will lift tariffs on 85 products exported between the two countries. (Reuters, June 6; Miami Herald, June 7)

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 8) [top]


1. LACANDONA: Who are the Real "Environmental Terrorists"?

by Carmelo Ruiz Marrero

Since the end of the Cold War, we have seen the United States government resort to widely varied arguments and alibis to justify its wars and foreign military operations, now that it can no longer invoke the famous communist threat.

In Panama, it was to combat drug trafficking; in Iraq (1991) to liberate a small invaded country; in Haiti to overthrow a dictatorship and restore democracy; in Somalia to bring food to the hungry; in Kosovo to put an end to genocide; in Afghanistan to combat terrorism; and in Iraq again (2003) to eradicate weapons of mass destruction. The Pentagon and intelligence agencies continue searching for new missions (new excuses) to justify their budgets and their interventions in the internal affairs of other countries.

What if a country were invaded a country under the pretext of protecting the environment? Will the United States armed forces be able to pose as environmentalist titans?

The Southern Command and the Biological Corridor

In 2001, the Pentagon's Southern Command carried out maneuvers in El Peten, the Guatemalan jungle region adjacent to the Mexican border. The maneuvers, dubbed New Horizons, were of a strictly humanitarian nature, according to the Southern Command's PR people. The troops were there to repair roads, to give medical assistance, build schools and dig wells, assured the US embassy.

But not all Guatemalans were impressed with Washington's supposed generosity. Cesar Montes, secretary of the United Democratic Left, called the maneuvers "the historical shame of the new millennium," and said that the presence of 12,000 US troops in his country was "technically an invasion."

New Horizons took place precisely as the Puebla-Panama Plan (PPP) and the Mesoamerican Biological Corridor were being formalized. The PPP is a massive infrastructure plan for Mexico and Central America to maximize exploitation of the natural resources and cheap labor of the region, while the Corridor seeks to consolidate the region's protected natural areas in a coordinated conservation program. The three initiatives may appear unconnected, but some in the Mesoamerican isthmus suspect that they represent new strategies and mechanisms of control.

Commenting on the handiwork of the Southern Command, the PPP and the Biological Corridor in the Mexican daily La Jornada (Feb. 18, 2002), Juan Antonio Zuniga wrote that "the interests of the United States armed forces and the World Bank appear to coincide with the proposition of the administration of [Mexican] President Vicente Fox to carry globalization to the southeast region of Mexico with arguments including those which contain ecological elements."

The Biological Corridor "refers to the investment of capital for 'conservation and sustainable use' of the natural resources," says economist Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos of the Interdisciplinary Research Center of the Mexican National Autonomous University (UNAM). "It is a scheme in which 'sustainable use' is understood as the exploitation of strategic resources (biodiversity, forests, water, etc.) by a select corporate group, foreign in its majority."

Ecology and National Security

El Peten is adjacent to the Lacandon Selva, the rainforest region of the Mexican state of Chiapas, stronghold of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN). Since last year, various sectors aligned with the neoliberal strategy of Fox and Bush have been asking the Mexican government to intervene in the Lacandon Selva to put an end to deforestation.

There is no doubt that deforestation is an urgent problem in the Lacandon. Two centuries ago, the selva had two million hectares, and has since been reduced to 500,000 due to the surge in such activities as logging and the establishment of cattle ranches.

In this besieged jungle is the Montes Azules nature reserve (331,200 hectares), established by the government in 1978 and recognized by the United Nation Environment Program. Within the reserve, 20,000 hectares have already been destroyed, and another 20,000 are in the process of destruction, according to the IPS news agency.

In December 2001 Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, ex-national security chief and Mexico's representative on the UN Security Council, declared that military force should be used agaist "environmental terrorism." Later, in March 2002, La Jornada reported that the environmental group Conservation International (CI) had asked the Mexican government to expel the EZLN from the Lacandon Selva.

In an interview last month with the Puerto Rican weekly Claridad, Ignacio March, director of CI's Mexico projects, denied the accusations of La Jornada, but affirmed that actions must be taken to put an end to invasions of Montes Azules.

Since Fox assumed the presidency in December 2000, ten communities of "invaders" have been established in Montes Azules, bringing the total of ["illegal"] communities to 45, with a population of 35,000.

These communities are made up of Indians and landless peasants from other parts of Chiapas, fleeing hunger and the violence of the paramilitaries. The majority are sympathizers of the EZLN, while others are affiliated with ARIC-Independiente, a grassroots organization which, in contrast to the Zapatistas, are not armed.

Who are the Real Invaders?

Progressive sectors in Mexico see the government's intention to evict "invaders" from the Lacandon as a charade of neoliberalism and counterinsurgency, with the real intention to depopulate the area to exploit its natural resources in concordance with the PPP and Biological Corridor.

Delgado Ramos claims that the government's real agenda in the Lacandona is neither humanitarian nor environmental, but "to facilitate the intensive plunder, privatization and exploitation of the natural, material and human assets of the region by multinationals involved in bio-genetics, agribusiness, [trade] in water and electricity/petroleum, and in minerals, as well as eco-tourism projects by the multinational hotel industry, which has been strongly promoted since the Biological Corridor."

The US-based reporter Bill Weinberg, who recently visited "invader" communities, was amazed at the ecological and political sophistication of these supposed environmental delinquents.

In his visit to the community Nuevo San Gregorio, founded twenty years ago, he found that they have a program of sustainable agriculture, that they have agreed not to cut the forest, and only use their own traditional corn seeds, not those sold by agribusiness. Far from being ignorant provincials, the villagers spoke with erudition and eloquence about their constitutional rights, of the relevant conventions of the International Labor Organization, and the San Andres Accords, the peace agreement signed by the EZLN and the government.

This past April, the 32 communities threatened with eviction presented a formal complaint before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.

Neither the "invader" communities nor the EZLN are willing to leave the selva. Subcomandante Marcos announced last December 29 that the Zapatistas will resist any attempt at eviction, and that they will not be expelled peacefully.

Three months after these words, just on the other side of the border, a small detachment of Yankee military troops participated in new maneuvers with their Mexican counterparts along the Guatemalan border with the supposed end of fortifying security and vigilance... just when the war against Iraq was launched.


America Latina en Movimiento. "The Mesoamerican Isthmus: Globalization, Ecology and Security". Feb, 23, 2001.


Diego Cevallos. "Violence Brewing in Montes Azules Reserve". IPS, June 5, 2003.

Gian Carlo Delgado Ramos. "Geopolítica Imperial y Recursos Naturales". Memoria (Mexico), May 2003.

Bill Weinberg. "Lacandon Selva conflict grows". NACLA Report on the Americas, May 2003.

Originally published in Claridad, San Juan, Puerto Rico, June 10, 2003

(Trans. Bill Weinberg) [top]

Mexican Exterior Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista met in Bogota May 11 with his Colombian counterpart Carolina Barco to sign a pact on bilateral cooperation to combat terrorism, pledging to crack down on the illegal arms trade between their two countries. The move was seen as a step towards the two nations ratifying the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism. (EFE, May 11) [top]

Progress is reported in the case of imprisoned Tarahumara Indian activist Isidro Baldenegro in Mexico's conflicted Chihuahua state. On May 3, 2003, Isidro's brother, Trinidad Baldenegro Lopez, and half-brother, Gabriel Palma Lopez, were released from jail after being declared innocent of all charges. They had been arrested in December 2002, in the remote mountain hamlet of Coloradas de la Virgen, and charged with weapons possession. The local environmental group Sierra Madre Alliance believes their arrests were intended to silence community protests against illegal logging on Tarahumara lands. Their release may indicate a willingness on the part of the state to re-examine the charges against Isidro, who remains in prison.

But the Sierra Madre Alliance reports that activists from Coloradas are still being threatened with reprisals for speaking out against the logging and in defense of Isidro. Josefa Chaparro, a community leader who recently spoke against logging and repression at a conference in Austin, TX, and who participated in a blockade of logging trucks earlier this year, was interrogated in her home by police officials in an attempt to force her to reveal the names of other participants in the blockade. She refused to come to the police station to make a formal declaration, despite intimidation.

This is only the most recent of a long series of threats and attacks against the Tarahumara of Coloradas de la Virgen. On May 5, Rodolfo Stavenhagen, UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, met privately with a delegation from Coloradas in the town of Creel. This meeting was part of a two-week visit to indigenous communities throughout Mexico. With Stavenhagen were Diego Ituralde, of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and Pablo Espiniella, of the UN Human Rights Commission. Representatives of local environmental groups Fuerza Ambiental and Sierra Madre Alliance were also present at the meeting, along with Isidro's attorney, Fausto Salgado. The delegation from Coloradas included Trinidad and Gabriel and traditional village elders, who traveled two days to reach Creel. The Tarahumara leaders asked Stavenhagen to investigate, and he promised to include their information in his report. He said that the Sierra Tarahumara was considered one of fourteen "red light" zones for agrarian and indigenous rights problems in the country. (Sierra Madre Alliance press release, May 4)

For more information, or to send tax deductible contributions to the Isidro Baldenegro defense fund, write:

Sierra Madre Alliance
Post Office Box 41416
Tucson, AZ 85717

See also WW3 REPORT # 84 [top]

On May 27, after six accused members of the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI) were arrested in Ayutla village in Guerrero state and charged with kidnapping, the ERPI Guerreo State Committee issued a communique denying that the suspects were members of the group, and charging that their confessions "were obviously forced out of them through the ever-present practice of torture." Describing the suspects as including "elderly people 70 or 80 years old," ERPI cast doubt on the kidnapping charges. The rebels called the arrests part of an effort to intimidate local activists, and noted that local organizations not connected to guerilla groups had reported "a new outbreak of police and military violence in the region."

(From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 8)

See also WW3 REPORT #88 [top]


The New York Times reported June 16 that the White House harshly edited a draft report by the Environmental Protection Agency on the state of the environment, with a long passage on global warming whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs. The report, commissioned in 2001 by EPA chief Christie Whitman, was intended to provide the first comprehensive review of global environmental problems. The report was scheduled to be issued just as Whitman is stepping down.

Drafts of the climate section, with changes sought by the White House, were given to the Times by a former EPA. official, along with earlier drafts and an internal memorandum in which some officials protested the changes. Two agency officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the documents were authentic.

The editing eliminated references to many studies finding that warming is at least partly caused by fossil fuel emissions. Among the deletions were conclusions about the likely human causes of warming from a 2001 White House-commissioned report by the National Research Council. White House officials also deleted a reference to a 1999 study showing that global temperatures had risen sharply in the previous decade compared with the last 1,000 years. In its place, administration officials added a reference to a new study, partly financed by the American Petroleum Institute, questioning that conclusion. After discussions with White House officials, EPA staff said they opted to delete the entire discussion to avoid criticism that they were selectively filtering science to suit policy. An April 29 memo circulated among EPA staff said that after the changes, the section on climate "no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change." Another memo warned of "severe criticism from the science and environmental communities for poorly representing the science." Whitman said she was "perfectly comfortable" with the edited version.

The changes were mainly made by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, although the Office of Management and Budget was also involved, EPA officials told the Times. It is the second time in a year that the White House has sought to play down global warming in official documents. Last September, an annual EPA report on air pollution that for six years had contained a section on climate was released without one--a decision made by Bush administration EPA appointees with White House approval. Like the September report, the new report says the issues will be dealt with later by a forthcoming Bush administration climate research plan.

In the "Global Issues" section of the draft returned by the White House to EPA in April, an introductory sentence reading, "Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment" was cut and replaced with a paragraph that starts: "The complexity of the Earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change, diagnose its causes, and develop useful projections of how natural variability and human actions may affect the global environment in the future."

See also WW3 REPORT #s 71 62 & 49 [top]


An accused al-Qaeda operative arrested in an alleged plot to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge was first detained in March--and had been used by the FBI for months as a double agent. US authorities waited until mid-June to announce a plea bargain struck with Iyman Faris, a Pakistani-born truck driver allegedly ordered to scout out terror targets, including the New York landmark. They did not initially say that Faris had been under FBI control for months. But Justice Department officials told Time magazine that Faris was secretly detained about two weeks after the capture on March 1 in Pakistan of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, al-Qaeda's supposed chief of operations. Installed in a safe house in Virginia, Faris reportedly sent messages to his al-Qaeda handlers by mobile phone and email. "He was sitting in the safe house making calls for us. It was a huge triumph," a senior Bush administration official told Time. After pleading guilty to offering material support to al-Qa'eda, Faris will be sentenced in August. He faces up to 20 years in prison. (UK Telegraph, June 23) [top]

On June 23, without comment, the Supreme Court declined to review a ruling barring the government from indefinitely detaining immigrants who are caught entering the US and whose home countries refuse to take them back. In Snyder v. Rosales-Garcia, the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati had ruled March 5 that there must be a reasonable time limit on detention. The high court refused to challenge the 6th Circuit's view that "excludable aliens--like all aliens--are clearly protected by the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments." The case involves Cuban nationals Mario Rosales-Garcia and Reynero Carballo, who were deemed excludable when they reached the US in 1980 with 125,000 other Cubans in the Mariel boatlift. Rosales-Garcia and Carballo were released on bond and served sentences after committing crimes in the US; one has spent four and another 15 years in immigration custody. They were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

In another case, Ashcroft v. Singh, the Court also rejected a Bush administration appeal, upholding a decision by the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. That ruling allowed Indian national Ranjit Singh to challenge a deportation order which was issued because he was confused about the time of his deportation hearing and arrived two hours late. (AP, June 23; Legal Times, June 16)

(From Immigration News Briefs, June 27) [top]

On May 27, the Supreme Court declined, without comment, to review an appeal of a lawsuit challenging closed hearings for immigration cases deemed to be of "special interest" to terrorism investigations. The New Jersey Law Journal and the North Jersey Media Group brought the suit in March 2002. US Justice Department Solicitor General Theodore Olson told the Supreme Court that most of the secret deportation hearings are already complete: of 766 detainees designated as special interest, 505 have been deported, according to Olson. The case is North Jersey Media Group v. Ashcroft, 02-1289.

The Supreme Court's decision lets stand an Oct. 8 ruling by the 3rd US Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, upholding the government's secrecy policy. The Supreme Court has not reviewed an opposite ruling in a similar case by the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, which found secret immigration hearings unconstitutional. (AP, May 27; St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 28)

(From Immigration News Briefs, May 30)

See also WW3 REPORT #63) [top]

On June 17, a panel of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled 2-1 that the Justice Department does not have to reveal the identity of foreign nationals detained during investigations into the 9-11 attacks. Over 20 civil liberties and other groups had invoked the First Amendment and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in a lawsuit seeking the names of detainees, their lawyers, dates they were arrested and reasons for their detention. Last Aug. 2, US District Judge Gladys Kessler ordered the government to release the names, but delayed enforcing her order to give the government time to appeal.

In his dissent, Judge David Tatel blasted his colleagues' "uncritical deference to the government's vague, poorly explained arguments for withholding broad categories of information about the detainees...." The plaintiffs, led by the Center for National Security Studies, plan to appeal the case. (AP, Reuters, BBC, Human Rights Watch, June 17)

(From Immigration News Briefs, June 20)

See also WW3 REPORT #48) [top]


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