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Does no-one care about Zimbabwe?

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Guest David Guyatt

Ron, if you haven't read Edward Haslam's book "Dr. Mary's Monkey" I recommend doing so in regard to the production of bio-weapons, including HIV. At the very least it brings other factors surrounding Jim Garrison's investigation into sharper focus, re Ferrie, LHO etc.

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All I ever see are claims against the US government, claims of secret societies or New World Orders, calls for people to throw off chains of supposed oppression by the US (and on far lesser occasions, the UK).

Does no-one care about Zimbabwe? Why aren't Forum members voicing concerns that the western world is not doing anything (or much) to stop a dictator, whether that action be political, economic, or military?

A lessor situation occurs in Fiji, where a military junta rules. Is this fair to the Indian population? Are they being treated justly?

Why aren't Forum members (specifically those who spend the majority of their time here making posts) making people aware of these situations, instead of concentrating on anti-US comments? Do they not care? Are they biased?

Good point. I have been meaning to post about this for some time. I disagree with Peter about this. I for one would support the use of an African/UN force invasion as long it was used just to arrest those of war crimes and to oversee elections. Mugabe is just a figure-head and therefore it is of no use waiting for him to die. The military leaders have to be removed from the political scene.

The United Nations, specifically Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, has deferred from invading Myanmar under the UN “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine. The ‘Responsibility to Protect’ doctrine is a UN codified framework by which the UN could “legally” wrest control of such infrastructure as needed to save lives or solve severe oppression in a “sovereign” state.

If they wouldn’t invade Myanmar I doubt if the UN security council would vote to invade Zimbabwe. For one thing, the fact that Russia and China sit as permanent member states on the security council likely precludes the UN from taking any action against oppressive regimes since China and Russia engage in what could easily be labeled as oppressive political practices. For another, and the more tangible reason, an invasion would likely result in more harm than good, regardless of intentions.

Stated reasons notwithstanding, the invasion of Iraq, at face value, removed a despot from power and ended a very oppressive regime. Saddam Hussein engaged in the genocidal extermination of over 50,000 Kurds. He idolized Josef Stalin. Saddam oppressed a Shia majority in favor of the Sunni minority, of which he was a member. The police state tactics he engaged in (and his son) are reported to have been cruel in the extreme (’The War Crimes of Saddam Hussein’, ’Life Under Saddam Hussein’, reported by Human Rights Watch, et al).

Note that the reasons for the invasion of Iraq are not at issue here, just that the invasion could have been easily justified under a Responsibility to Protect or other humanitarian argument.

The US mission in Somalia ended in tragedy in Mogadishu. That mission had no dark political objective (IMO) and ended badly.

To invade Zimbabwe, regardless of the motives at this time, and I agree that Mugabe is a despot and the political practices of his regime are abhorrent, would be an extremely dicey proposition for any country or organization such as the UN. It cannot be easily undertaken, nor could any invading country or group be easily extricated. Zimbabwe is not Iraq, but the lesson must be taken.

To invade Zimbabwe there must be an overwhelming argument to support that action. IMO.

With respect to the Anglo American investment there: I understand the contempt this investment has garnered, but;

Regardless of the benefit to Mugabe, creating and enforcing a virtual embargo on Zimbabwe can, and likely would, result in greater suffering for the innocent population than the government would ever suffer. That is the nature of a despotic government. The objective of enforcing an embargo would be to force the populace to wrest control of the government from the despotic regime. This tactic has resulted in no tangible benefit for the populace in Myanmar, as far as I can tell.

I understand the emotional issue with such an investment (as with the AA investment) and the benefit that a despot like Mugabe will likely realize, but the populace of Zimbabwe, who are in bad shape right now due to (among other things) economic collapse, hyperinflation, and mismanagement, would probably suffer if the AA investment is withdrawn, by way of the loss of employment opportunity and trickle down economics (note that this is just my opinion).

When growing up, I lived for a few years in Liberia, Africa. The government of Liberia wasn’t despotic. But was certainly corrupt to some degree, and the general population was wretchedly poor. There was tremendous investment in that country in the 1960’s, much from the US. My father worked for a company named LAMCO (a joint venture, primarily Scandinavian) that invested in an iron ore mining enterprise in the Nimba Mountains. The enterprise included an expanded Seaport, the Port of Buchanan, the installation of a Railroad, to transport the ore, and the mines themselves. Firestone rubber had a huge investment in Liberia at the time also. Of course there was disparity and the people were likely under paid by third world standards, but the people did experience an average 11% per year improvement in their standard of living between 1960 and 1970 (after which President Tolbert was overthrown and civil war erupted).

IMO, if Anglo American’s investment improves life for the people of Zimbabwe, even if President Mugabe, or his hierarchy benefits, it’s likely worth it, weighing the options.

As for invasion, I disagree with it. South Africa foremost, as well as the African Union, has to step up and apply massive pressure for Mugabe to stop the oppressive politics and the violence, and then allow fair and free elections. This worked in Liberia when Charles Taylor stepped down.

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All I ever see are claims against the US government, claims of secret societies or New World Orders, calls for people to throw off chains of supposed oppression by the US (and on far lesser occasions, the UK).

Does no-one care about Zimbabwe? Why aren't Forum members voicing concerns that the western world is not doing anything (or much) to stop a dictator, whether that action be political, economic, or military?

A lessor situation occurs in Fiji, where a military junta rules. Is this fair to the Indian population? Are they being treated justly?

Why aren't Forum members (specifically those who spend the majority of their time here making posts) making people aware of these situations, instead of concentrating on anti-US comments? Do they not care? Are they biased?

I thought this an important subject.

Also, the subject of Myanmar and the criminal behavior of the Myanmar government, and the role of the UN and its "responsibility to protect" doctrine.

While the West worries about its fuel supply, two thirds of the world has a problem finding its next meal and worry about whether their children can survive into adulthood.

Is there a warped perspective in the world today with respect to its real problems?

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A dark moment in UN history...

THE UN security council failed to agree on declaring Zimbabwe's run-off election illegitimate today in the face of South African opposition. Instead, it merely issued an oral statement of regret over the one-candidate presidential vote.


Edited by Evan Burton
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A dark moment in UN history...
THE UN security council failed to agree on declaring Zimbabwe's run-off election illegitimate today in the face of South African opposition. Instead, it merely issued an oral statement of regret over the one-candidate presidential vote.


This basically reveals the impotence of the UN and the UN security council. Zimbabwe is becoming another Mynamar, where a despotic regime can mismanage its country and futrher its own ends at the expense of its populace.

Even more alarming is the influence exerted by South Africa, a Russian puppet, in rendering the UN seucirty council impotent. South Africa would seem like the last nation to allow such behavior. It seems guarenteed that the African Union will also refuse to censure Mugabe.

South Africa is apparently under Russia's sphere of influence and another in a long line of nations who averts their eyes from political oppression, allowing despots to enjoy immunity in preying upon their own populace and in commiting criminal acts of oppression.

This particular act of negligence is largely due to Russia's permenant membership as one of the five permenant members of the UN security council. This seat provides Russia with Veto power over any UN security council act but also allows their tacit endorsement of oppression, the very type of oppression they themselves practice.

The UN was supposed to recognize a greater responsibility shared in raising the awareness of political oppression and particularly in improving conditions in Africa, the poorest continent on earth. Such was the philosophy behind the "responsibility to protect" doctrine.

Inch by inch they gain foothold. In the end those with little will have nothing and the despots will govern by fear and intimidation.

"The world stood up and got the bastard. But the bitch that bore the bastard is in heat again." - Berthold Brecht 1945.

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Saddam Hussein engaged in the genocidal extermination of over 50,000 Kurds. He idolized Josef Stalin. Saddam oppressed a Shia majority in favor of the Sunni minority, of which he was a member. The police state tactics he engaged in (and his son) are reported to have been cruel in the extreme (’The War Crimes of Saddam Hussein’, ’Life Under Saddam Hussein’, reported by Human Rights Watch, et al).

A piece of historical revisionism worthy of inclusion in a Soviet-era encyclopedia: Hussein was a creature of the CIA, and it was the US which both instigated his invasion of Iran and furnished him with the weaponry. Just another Langley mass murderer, in other words.

With respect to the Anglo American investment there: I understand the contempt this investment has garnered, but regardless of the benefit to Mugabe, creating and enforcing a virtual embargo on Zimbabwe can, and likely would, result in greater suffering for the innocent population than the government would ever suffer.

Don't forget the likely suffering of those hard-pressed Conservative MPs, many of them down to their last million or so:


Blood money: the MPs cashing in on Zimbabwe's misery: Tory frontbenchers are among those with shares in companies accused of propping up the violent – and now illegal – regime in Harare. Jane Merrick and Archie Bland report

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve heads a list of Tory MPs with sizeable shareholdings in companies accused of propping up Robert Mugabe's regime, The Independent on Sunday can reveal today.

Three of David Cameron's frontbenchers are among six Conservatives – and one Liberal Democrat – with investments together worth more than £1m in firms trading in Zimbabwe. The revelations will embarrass the Tory leader, who has sought to take the moral high ground over the crisis in Zimbabwe.

Mr Cameron has called on all companies and individuals with "any dealings" in Zimbabwe to examine their consciences and ensure that they are not keeping Mr Mugabe in power.

The companies include Anglo American, the mining giant rebuked last week for pushing ahead with a new £200m platinum mine in Zimbabwe, Rio Tinto, Standard Chartered, Barclays, Shell and BP.

The controversy will also hit Mr Cameron's attempts to consign sleaze to history.

In February, in echoes of Tony Blair's vow in 1997 to be "purer than pure", the Tory leader said: "Any arrangements we enter into are ones we are prepared to protect and defend in a court of public opinion." In June, he said: "Anyone who flies under the Conservative banner carries a wider responsibility to the reputation of the party."

But in recent months Mr Cameron has been hit by scandals involving MPs Derek Conway, Caroline Spelman, the party's chairman, and MEPs.

While the seven MPs at the centre of the Zimbabwe row have not broken any rules, critics have asked if it was morally right to own shares in firms giving a lifeline to Mr Mugabe. The MPs' investments have been described as "blood shares" which they should sell immediately in protest at the violence during the presidential elections.

When he was Prime Minister in the early 1970s, Edward Heath rounded on Lonrho over its investments in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia, and labelled its chief, Tiny Rowland, the "unacceptable face of capitalism".

Mr Mugabe was expected to be sworn in today for a new term after a poll which was denounced as a sham, by, among others, the internal advisory group of Independent News and Media, publishers of The Independent on Sunday. Scores of opposition supporters were killed by forces loyal to Mr Mugabe since challengers put their names forward three months ago.

Mr Grieve insisted the shares had been declared in the "proper way". He added: "The Conservative Party has made it clear that companies operating in Zimbabwe must adhere to the highest ethical standards and I fully endorse that view."

Mr Grieve owns shares in Anglo American, Standard Chartered, Rio Tinto and Shell. Each investment is worth more than £60,000 – meaning his total shareholdings are more than £240,000.

One shadow minister, Robert Goodwill, admitted he was "not proud" to be a shareholder in Barclays, but said it was "not a very good time to sell shares". The suggestion that he was concerned about the stock market was described last night as "despicable".

Last Wednesday Mr Cameron told Gordon Brown at Prime Minister's Questions: "Businesses and individuals that have any dealings with Zimbabwe must examine their responsibilities and ensure they do not make investments that prop up the regime." William Hague, the shadow Foreign Secretary, has urged companies investing in Zimbabwe to "examine their consciences very carefully".

Firms insist that their involvement keeps people in jobs and fights poverty. Yet experts say that a quarter of all hard currency traded in and out of Zimbabwe is creamed off by Mugabe.

Parliamentary rules state that shares worth more than an MP's salary of £61,820 must go on the register of interests. The latest register lists six Tory MPs and one Lib Dem MP with shareholdings in one or more companies that have interests in Zimbabwe.

Shadow Business minister Jonathan Djanogly owns shares in Barclays, BP, Shell, WPP and Tesco. He said: "Shareholders should be encouraged to make representations to the companies in which they invest. I have no comment on my own personal shareholdings."

Shadow Transport minister Mr Goodwill owns shares in Barclays. "I don't have any influence in the bank because the size of my shares," he said. "If I tried ringing the chairman of Barclays, he wouldn't talk to me. But anything we can do to bring pressure to bear on this dreadful regime and evil man needs to be done. I don't feel particularly proud to be a Barclays shareholder, but I think it is better to bring pressure to bear as a shareholder than selling the shares. And probably because it is not a very good time to sell the shares."

Anthony Steen, Tory MP for Totnes, said he had no idea that Unilever and Shell were doing business in Zimbabwe. "I would like to do everything I can to help get rid of this evil regime and I am going to discuss it with David Cameron as to how he sees that I might be able to assist."

Three MPs with shares in the firms could not be contacted for comment: Tim Boswell, MP for Daventry, owns shares in Barclays and Tesco; Sir John Stanley owns shares in Shell; Sir Robert Smith, Lib Dem MP for Aberdeenshire West & Kincardine, has shares in Rio Tinto and Shell.

Barclays has attracted the greatest controversy for its Zimbabwean operations. It owns two- thirds of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, and has to buy £23m in government bonds under the terms of its licence. It also contributes to a government loan scheme that has lent money to at least five ministers for farm improvements. The British parent company took a £12m dividend in 2006, and the Zimbabwean subsidiary's profits rose by 135 per cent in 2007.

Barclays insists it "always seeks to conduct its business in an ethical and responsible manner" and complies with EU sanctions.

Standard Chartered Bank contributes money through the same compulsory bonds as Barclays. Earlier this month, the Foreign Office confirmed that it was investigating if the firm had breached EU sanctions. Unlike Barclays, Standard Chartered operates in Zimbabwe directly, rather than through a subsidiary. The bank said that thousands of people rely on it for wages, and it had an obligation to stay.

Anglo American, the biggest platinum miner in the world, plans to invest an additional £200m in its mine at Unki, the biggest overseas investment in the country to date. Anglo has defended pouring new money into the country as part of its responsibility to the local community. The opposition MDC said that the decision made Anglo "complicit in the regime".

Rio Tinto, a rival mining giant, has a diamond mine at Murowa.

A spokesman defended the company's continued activity there as part of "a duty to our workforce and the community", but said there would be no new investment until the political situation stabilises.

Between them, Shell and BP control 40 per cent of Zimbabwe's petrol market, distributing fuel to more than 200 sites around the country through BP/Shell Marketing Services Ltd. Neither is directly involved in retail, but BP has 70 employees there. A BP spokesman said it was important to maintain supply to its customers in Zimbabwe.

Unilever has run a soap factory in the country since 2001, when it moved there from Zambia. It makes a loss, and says it will examine its options in the region.

Tesco is one of several British supermarkets, including Morrisons and Waitrose, to source food from Zimbabwe, including sugar snap peas and green beans. Dr Vincent Magombe, director of the pressure group African Inform International, has accused the company of taking food "watered by the blood and tears of the Zimbabwean people". But a Tesco spokesperson said: "There s precious little employment of any sort in Zimbabwe and it would be irresponsible to deprive thousands of people of their only means of feeding their families."

The advertising giant WPP pledged to sell its share of a Zimbabwean affiliate, Imago, because the firm's managing director had been working on ads for the Mugabe campaign.

Labour MP John Mann said: "Politicians profiting from the blood of the Zimbabwean people need to consider their position. What this shows is that greed for money supersedes moral responsibility." Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb said: "It is a despicable attitude to put personal interests before the interests of the people of Zimbabwe."

Mr Cameron declined to comment on the IoS revelations.

Tory politicians touched by the 'whiff of sleaze'

Caroline Spelman

The Tory party chairman is under investigation by Parliament's standards commissioner over payments from her parliamentary expenses to her nanny a decade ago. Mrs Spelman, who referred the case herself after it was revealed on 'Newsnight', denies wrongdoing. She claims Tina Haynes was employed from 1997 to 1999 to look after her children and do some secretarial work. Her other secretary, Sally Hammond, said she was "shocked" to discover how much Ms Haynes was paid.

Sir Nicholas and Ann Winterton

The husband and wife Tory MPs bought a Westminster flat as a second home in 2002, which they placed in a trust for their children. They claimed £165,828 in rent on expenses, though it was bought outright. The practice was then within the rules, but was banned in 2006. After investigation, standards commissioner John Lyon this month found the couple had committed an "unequivocal" breach of parliamentary rules, but did not order them to repay the money.

Derek Conway

The MP was suspended from the Commons for 10 days in January for misusing public funds after putting his son Freddie on the payroll for apparently very little work. But when it emerged that the MP had also paid his elder son Henry as a researcher in his parliamentary office, Mr Cameron threw Mr Conway out of the Conservative Party. Mr Conway will stand down as MP for Old Bexley and Sidcup at the next election.

Giles Chichester

The Tory MEP was forced to quit as Conservative group leader earlier this month for ploughing £445,000 through a company where he was a paid director. At first he tried to apologise – "hands up, mea culpa" – but Mr Cameron told him to go, after the breach in European Parliament rules. The row also triggered the departure of Tory MEP, Den Dover, as chief whip in Brussels. Mr Dover denied breaking any rules in paying his wife and daughter a reported £750,000 for work over nine years, but the whiff of sleaze forced him out.

To have your say on this or any other issue visit www.independent.co.uk/IoSblogs

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Quote "A piece of historical revisionism worthy of inclusion in a Soviet-era encyclopedia: Hussein was a creature of the CIA, and it was the US which both instigated his invasion of Iran and furnished him with the weaponry. Just another Langley mass murderer, in other words.


That Saddam committed atrocities against the Kurds is hardly historical revisionism

Human Rights Watch estimates that Saddam's 1987-1988 campaign of terror against the Kurds killed at least 50,000 and possibly as many as 100,000 Kurds. The Iraqi regime used chemical agents to include mustard gas and nerve agents in attacks against at least 40 Kurdish villages between 1987-1988. The largest was the attack on Halabja which resulted in approximately 5,000 deaths. o 2,000 Kurdish villages were destroyed during the campaign of terror.

Documentation of the atrocities Saddam committed are legion, including the UN, human rights watch, and his trial, to name just a few sources. Saddam even published his intent on using plutonium processed from the Osirak reactor to manufacture a nuclear weapon to be used against Israel. Saddam published this after Iran attempted to destroy the reactor to persuade Iran that a nuclear weapon wouldn't be used against them. These tactics were not the product of the CIA. That he had a cozy relationship with the CIA at one time is not being debated.

Would you kindly point out where exactly in the post an historical revision(ism) was submitted?

I am not debating the motives of those who made the investment, but that an embargo would hurt the Zimbabwean people far more than the government, or Mugabe; in fact, by virtue of a history of the effectiveness of embargoes in general (take Myanmar for a particular example), they are ineffective.

The premise behind an embargo is to cause sufficient suffering among the populace that they are forced to take control of their country by force from the targeted government. Ultimately and typically, emgargoes are not effective and cause great suffering to the people of the targeted countries. The damage is typically done not to the despots, but to the innocent people.

Regardless of the motives of these investors (and I agree they seem quite a bit less than altruistic), some benefit would be felt by the Zimbabwean people. Where a country's populace is in dire need, any investment, even those made by greedy politicians manipulating the situation for their own benefit, is better than none at all.

Are you advocating a boycott of Zimbabwe?

Edited by Peter McKenna
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African Dictatorships and Double-Standards

Stephen Zunes | July 1, 2008

Editor: John Feffer

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Foreign Policy In Focus


The Bush administration has justifiably criticized the Zimbabwean regime of liberator-turned-dictator Robert Mugabe. It has joined a unanimous UN Security Council resolution condemning the campaign of violence unleashed upon pro-democracy activists and calling for increased diplomatic sanctions in the face of yet another sham election. In addition, both the House and the Senate have passed strongly worded resolutions of solidarity with the people of Zimbabwe in support of their struggle for freedom and democracy.

However, neither the Republican administration nor the Democratic-controlled Congress is sincerely concerned about human rights and democratic elections as a matter of principle. Rather, they are more likely acting out of political expediency. Despite claims of support for the advancement of democracy, the United States continues to support other African dictatorships that are as bad as or even worse than that of Zimbabwe.

Indeed, the United States currently provides economic aid and security assistance to such repressive African regimes as Swaziland, Congo, Cameroun, Togo, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Gabon, Egypt, and Tunisia. None of these countries holds free elections, and all have severely suppressed their political opposition.

The Worst Abuser

Among the worst of these African tyrannies has been the regime of Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea. Obiang has been in power even longer than the 28-year reign of Mugabe and, according to a recent article in the British newspaper The Independent, makes the Zimbabwean dictator “seem stable and benign” by comparison. Obiang originally seized power in a 1979 coup by murdering his uncle, who had ruled the country since its independence from Spain in 1968. Under his rule, Equatorial Guinea nominally allowed the existence of opposition parties as a condition of receiving foreign aid in the early 1990s. But the four leading candidates withdrew from the last presidential election in December 2002 in protest of irregularities in the voting process and violence against their supporters. In that election, Obiang officially received more than 97% of the vote (down from 99.5% in the previous election.)

Though the U.S. State Department acknowledged that the election was “marred by extensive fraud and intimidation,” the Congress and the administration devoted none of the vehement condemnation that was so evident after the recent, similarly marred election process in Zimbabwe.

One major reason for the difference in response is oil. The development of vast oil reserves over the past decade has made Equatorial Guinea one of the wealthiest countries in Africa in terms of per capita gross domestic product. Virtually all of the oil revenues, however, goes to Obiang and his cronies. The dictator himself is worth an estimated $1 billion, making him the wealthiest leader in Africa; his real estate holdings include two mansions in Maryland just outside of Washington, DC. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the country’s population lives on only a few dollars a day, and nearly half of all children under five are malnourished. The country’s major towns and cities lack basic sanitation and potable water while conditions in the countryside are even worse.

During his most recent visit to Washington in 2006, Obiang was warmly received by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who praised the dictator as “a good friend” of the United States. Not once during their joint appearance did she mention the words “human rights” or “democracy.” At the same press conference, Obiang praised his regime’s “extremely good relations with the United States” and his expectation that “this relationship will continue to grow in friendship and cooperation.” None of the assembled reporters raised any questions about the regime’s notorious human rights record or its lack of democracy, instead using the opportunity to ask Secretary Rice questions about the alleged threat from Iran.

In 2002, the dictator met with President George W. Bush in New York to discuss military and energy security issues. He followed up in 2004 with meetings with then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and then-Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.

Cozy Relations

Equatorial Guinea receives U.S. government funding and training through the International Military Education and Training Program (IMET). In addition, the private U.S. firm Military Professional Resources Incorporated – founded by former senior Pentagon officials who cite the regime’s friendliness to U.S. strategic and economic interests – plays a key role in the country’s internal security apparatus. Furthermore, as a result of Obiang’s understandable lack of trust in his own people, soldiers from Morocco – one of America’s closest African allies – have served for decades in a number of important security functions, including the role of presidential guards.

Maintaining close ties with such a notorious ruler has led even conservative Republicans like Frank Ruddy, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s ambassador to Equatorial Guinea in the mid-1980s, to denounce the Bush administration for being “big cheerleaders for the government – and it’s an awful government.”

Though the Chinese have also recently begun investing in the country’s oil sector, U.S. companies ExxonMobil, Amerada Hess, Chevron/Texaco, and Marathon Oil have played the most significant role. A report by the International Monetary Fund notes that U.S. oil companies receive “by far the most generous tax and profit-sharing provisions in the region.” Congressional hearings recently revealed how U.S. oil companies paid hundreds of millions of dollars destined to state treasuries directly into the dictator’s private bank accounts. A Senate report faulted U.S. oil companies for making “substantial payments to, or entering into business ventures with,” government officials and their family members.

The irony of the relative silence of Congress and the Bush administration regarding the human rights abuses and the undemocratic nature of Obiang’s regime is that, due to the critical role of U.S. economic investment and security assistance, the United States has far more leverage on the government of Equatorial Guinea than it does on the government of Zimbabwe. As a result, Americans can feel self-righteous in their condemnation of a regime in Zimbabwe with which the United States has little leverage while continuing to support an even more repressive regime over which the United States could successfully exert pressure if it chose to do so.

This does not mean the United States should have waited until it first ends its support of Obiang and other African dictatorships before joining the rest of the international community in condemning the repression in Zimbabwe. However, as long as the United States maintains such blatant double-standards, U.S. credibility as a defender of human rights and free elections is seriously compromised and thereby plays right into the hands of autocrats and demagogues like Robert Mugabe.

Stephen Zunes is a senior analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus and a professor of politics at the University of San Francisco.

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Very illuminating documentary on UK TV last night. Shepherd Yuda, a former Zimbabwean prison officer, put his life on the line to secretly film the ballot rigging involved in the voting process. Ballots are signed in full view of a Mugabe official. Anyone daring to vote for someone other than Mugabe runs the risk of them or their families being rounded up and beatne or killed. Anyone found not to have voted faces the same risk, so people colour their fingers with felt tip pens to try and prove they've already voted. A disturbing documentary.

More information in today's Guardian. Click the link to see a video clip.


A film that graphically shows how Robert Mugabe's supporters rigged Zimbabwe's election has been smuggled out of the country by a prison officer. It is believed to be the first footage of actual ballot-rigging and comes as Zimbabwe's president faces growing international pressure.

Shepherd Yuda, 36, fled the country this week with his wife and children. He said that he hoped the film, which was made for the Guardian, would help draw further attention to the violence and corruption in Zimbabwe.

Much of the footage was shot inside the country's notorious jail system. Yuda, who has worked in the prison service for 13 years, was motivated by the intensifying violence directed towards the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the murder, two months ago, of his uncle, a MDC activist.

Initially he intended to chronicle secretly what life was like inside Zimbabwe's jails but he found himself present when a war veteran and Mugabe supporter organised the vote-rigging by getting prison officers to fill in their postal ballots in his presence.

Using a hidden camera, Yuda filmed for six days prior to last Friday's run-off election in which Mugabe claimed victory with 90% of the vote. Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader, had earlier said his party would not be participating in the run-off because of intimidation.

"I had never seen that kind of violence before," said Yuda, of the run-up to the election. "How can a government that claimed to be democratically elected kill its people, murder its people, torture its people?"

The film, made for Guardian Films, shows how Yuda and his colleagues at Harare central jail had to fill in their ballots in front of Zanu-PF activists.

Yuda also obtained footage of Zanu-PF rallies where voters were told they should pretend to be illiterate so that an official could fill in their ballot for them on behalf of Mugabe.

He was able to film the MDC's general secretary, Tendai Biti, in leg irons in jail. Biti, now on bail, faces treason charges which carry the death penalty.

Having completed filming, Yuda left Zimbabwe with his family for a new life and is now at a secret destination.

"I don't regret doing this, although it is a painful decision I have taken," he said. "We can live without the memories of seeing dead bodies in the prison, dead bodies in the street, dead bodies in my family.

"I've lost my uncle. My father was also beaten by Zanu-PF. I am praying to God: please God deal with Zanu-PF ruthlessly."

Mugabe has now been sworn in for a sixth term as Zimbabwe's president, a process which Tsvangirai described as "a complete joke". More than 130,000 voters spoiled their ballot papers in the election.

International pressure is mounting against Mugabe. It emerged yesterday that a US draft resolution to the UN will call for sanctions against Mugabe and demand that his government immediately begin talks with the MDC.

If adopted by the Security Council, the resolution would freeze the financial assets of Mugabe and 11 other Zimbabwean officials and ban them from travelling.

Edited by Dave Greer
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Guest David Guyatt
And yet no-one does anything.

As one poster stated, if there were large reserves of oil involved, "regime change" would've been planned and acted upon....

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And yet no-one does anything.

As one poster stated, if there were large reserves of oil involved, "regime change" would've been planned and acted upon....

I can't disagree with that, David.

Perhaps they could find a "valuable resource" to spur on some help?

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A Security Council measure intended to impose sanctions against Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe failed today when two of the 15-member body’s permanent members –- China and the Russian Federation –- voted against a draft resolution that would also have imposed an arms embargo on the country, as well as a travel ban and financial freeze against the President and 13 senior Government and security officials considered most responsible for the violent crisis there.

The result of the Council’s vote was 9 in favour (Belgium, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Croatia, France, Italy, Panama, United Kingdom, United States), to 5 against (China, Libya, Russian Federation, South Africa, Viet Nam), with Indonesia abstaining.

The draft text would have determined, under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter, that the situation in Zimbabwe posed a threat to international peace and security in the region, and would have demanded that the country’s Government immediately cease attacks against and intimidation of opposition members and supporters, while beginning a “substantive and inclusive political dialogue” between the parties with the aim of arriving at a peaceful solution that “reflects the will of the Zimbabwean people and respects the results of the 29 March elections”.

At the outset of the meeting, Zimbabwe’s representative said his country was “at peace with itself and its neighbours”, but the British and their allies had used their media to “viciously portray Zimbabwe as a lawless, disorderly and undemocratic country”. There had been adverse, over-dramatized reports of inter-party violence, but only 10 per cent of the country had witnessed some violence, which did not justify tabling the draft resolution. Zimbabwe had suffered under sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union, which had caused much suffering to the people and put the economy under siege. “The current sanctions are basically an expression of imperialist conquest and no amount of propaganda or denial can ever wish this away.”

He continued: “This resolution is a clear abuse of Chapter VII, as it seeks to impose sanctions under the pretext that the country is now a threat to international peace and security, simply because the elections held did not bring out a result favourable to the UK and her allies.” Moreover, adoption of the text would disregard Africa’s position. “Trying to impose a solution from outside will be unfair to Zimbabweans, to SADC (the Southern African Development Community) and to the African Union. Zimbabwe’s problems can be solved by Africans working together,” he said.

The representative of the Russian Federation said there had lately been some attempts to take the Council beyond its Charter prerogatives of maintaining international peace and security. Such illegitimate and dangerous attempts could “unbalance” the whole United Nations system.

Stressing that the differences in Zimbabwe could not be resolved by artificially elevating them to the level of a threat against peace and security, he called such action excessive. The draft was an attempt to interfere in the country’s internal affairs and ignored the dialogue launched between the parties. Mediation efforts by President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa and Jose Eduardo dos Santos of Angola were under way, and the draft resolution’s co-sponsors had not considered the position of regional States, which were calling for the continued search for a solution.

The representative of the United States expressed disappointment with the fact that the Council had been prevented from adopting a strong resolution condemning and sanctioning the violent regime of Robert Mugabe. “ China and Russia stand with Mugabe against the people of Zimbabwe. A majority of the Council stand with the people of Zimbabwe.”

Recalling that the Russian Federation had only recently supported the Group of Eight (G-8) statement recommending the appointment of a special envoy of the Secretary-General and further steps, including financial measures, he said the Russian U-turn was particularly disturbing. “The Russian performance has raised questions about its reliability as a G-8 partner.” There should be no doubt that the situation in Zimbabwe affected security and stability in the region. No serious substantive negotiations were under way between the Mugabe regime and the opposition. The draft would have supported, not undercut, regional and international mediation efforts.

The representative of South Africa said talks were continuing in his country as the Zimbabwean political parties continued their search for a political solution to the challenges they faced. The African Union had expressed deep concern about the situation in Zimbabwe, but had not called for sanctions. Instead, it had “appealed to States and all parties concerned to refrain from any action that may negatively impact on the climate for dialogue”. The Zimbabwean parties’ commitment to dialogue was encouraging. It would lead to the improvement of the humanitarian and economic situation, thereby contributing to a better life for all Zimbabweans.

Burkina Faso’s representative said Africa’s history had shown instances of a small spark causing great conflagrations, adding that the situation in Zimbabwe should, therefore, be regarded as a potential danger and a threat to peace in Southern Africa. In order to prevent the conflict from spreading to the wider subregion, the African Union had encouraged the leaders of the parties to engage in dialogue in order to achieve peace and democracy. Burkina Faso endorsed that initiative, but as a member of the Council, it must shoulder its responsibility regarding any threat to international peace and security.

Echoing other members who had voted in favour of the text, France’s representative said the situation in Zimbabwe threatened to destabilize Southern Africa. While supporting mediation efforts by SADC and President Mbeki, France noted that the 29 March elections had seen victory go to Morgan Tsvangirai and his opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party. In order for a true dialogue to begin, pressure was necessary to protect the people. France and other European Union member States, therefore, supported a reversible sanctions regime and also called for an arms embargo.

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All I ever see are claims against the US government, claims of secret societies or New World Orders, calls for people to throw off chains of supposed oppression by the US (and on far lesser occasions, the UK).

Does no-one care about Zimbabwe? Why aren't Forum members voicing concerns that the western world is not doing anything (or much) to stop a dictator, whether that action be political, economic, or military?

A lessor situation occurs in Fiji, where a military junta rules. Is this fair to the Indian population? Are they being treated justly?

Why aren't Forum members (specifically those who spend the majority of their time here making posts) making people aware of these situations, instead of concentrating on anti-US comments? Do they not care? Are they biased?

Mugabe’s Biggest Sin: Anglo-American and Chinese interests clash over Zimbabwe’s strategic mineral wealth

by F. William Engdahl

July 30, 2008

Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe, presides over one of the world’s richest minerals treasures, the Great Dyke region, which cuts a geological swath across the entire land from northeast to southwest. The real background to the pious concerns of the Bush Administration for human rights in Zimbabwe in the past several years is not Mugabe’s possible election fraud or his expropriation of white settler farms. It is the fact that Mr. Mugabe has been quietly doing business, a lot of it, with the one country which has virtually unlimited need of strategic raw materials Zimbabwe can provide—China. Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is, along with Sudan, on the central stage of the new war over control of strategic minerals of Africa between Washington and Beijing, with Moscow playing a supporting role in the drama. The stakes are huge.

Zimbabwe’s President, Robert Mugabe is a very very bad man. This we all know from reading the newspapers or hearing the pronouncements of George W. Bush, earlier Britain’s Tony Blair and more recently Gordon Brown. In their eyes he has sinned badly. They charge that he is a dictator; that he has expropriated, often with violence, the farms of whites as part of land reform; they claim he rigged his re-election by vote fraud and violence; that he has ruined the economy of Zimbabwe.

Whether Robert Mugabe deserves to be in Washington’s honor roll of villains alongside Fidel Castro, Saddam Hussein, Milosevic, Ahmadinejad, and Adolf Hitler, however, it is not the reason Washington and London have made Zimbabwe regime change priority number one for their Africa policy.

What his sin is seems to have more to do with his attempts to get out from under Anglo-American neo-colonial serfdom dependency and to pursue a national economic development independent of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. His real sin seems to be the fact that he has turned to the one nation that offers his government credits and soft loans for economic development with no strings attached—The Peoples’ Republic of China.

Western media accounts conveniently tend to omit the second major party to what is a huge tug of war between Anglo-American interests and China to get control of Zimbabwe’s vast mineral wealth. We should keep in mind that for Washington there are always "good dictators" and "bad dictators." The difference is whether the given dictator serves US national interests or not. Mugabe clearly is in the latter category.

Cecil Rhodes’ legacy

Zimbabwe is the name of what under the era of British Imperialism a century ago was named Rhodesia. The name Rhodesia came from the British imperial strategist and miner, Cecil Rhodes, founder of the Rhodes scholarships to Oxford, and author of a plan for a vast private African zone, to be chartered from the Queen of England, from Egypt to South Africa. Cecil Rhodes created the British South Africa Company, modeled on the East India Company, along with his partner, L. Starr Jameson of Jameson Raid notoriety, to exploit the mineral riches of Rhodesia. It controlled what was later named Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) and Southern Rhodesia-Nyasaland. The model was that the British Government would assume all risks to militarily defend Rhodes’ looting while Rhodes and his London bankers, above all Lord Rothschild, who was a close associate, would assume all the gains of the business.

Rhodes, a seasoned geologist, knew well that there was a remarkable geological fault running from the mouth of the Nile at the Gulf of Suez south through Sudan, Uganda, Tanzania, down through today’s Zimbabwe on to South Africa. Rhodes had already instigated several wars to gain control of the diamonds of Kimberly and the gold of Witwatersrand in South Africa. This geological phenomenon he, as well as enterprising German explorers, had discovered in the 1880’s. They named it the Great Rift Valley.

Rhodesia, like South Africa after the bloody Boer wars, was settled by white settlers to secure future minerals gains for allied interests of the City of London, mainly those of the powerful Oppenheimer family and their gold and diamond enterprises in the region.

In 1962 when Africa was undergoing the wave of national liberation from colonial rule, a wave calculatedly supported by "non-colonial power" Washington, Rhodesia was one of the last bastions, along with former British colony South Africa, of white Apartheid rule. Whites in Rhodesia constituted only 1-2% of the total population so their methods of holding on to power were rather ruthless.

White supremacist Prime Minister, Ian Smith, declared Rhodesian independence from Britain in 1965 rather than agree to the slightest compromise on race or power sharing with black nationalists. Britain got UN trade sanctions imposed to force Smith to buckle under. Despite sanctions, there was considerable support from conservative business interests in London. Britain’s Tiny Rowland, head of the Lonrho mining conglomerate, secured the bulk of his African profits from Rhodesian copper mining and related ventures under the Smith regime. The City of London knew very well what riches lay in Rhodesia. The question was how to secure enduring control. Smith’s Rhodesian backers had little interest in giving it all to London.

Following a long and bloody struggle, in 1980 the leader of the black African Popular Front coalition, Robert Mugabe, overwhelmingly won election as the first Prime Minister of a new Zimbabwe. Twenty eight years later, the same Robert Mugabe is under escalating attack from the West, especially Zimbabwe’s former colonial master, England, including strong economic sanctions designed to bring the country to the brink of collapse, to force him to open the economy to foreign (read Anglo-American and allied) investment. Ironically, the issue seems not all that different from the Ian Smith era: London and US control of the resources of the rich land, and Zimbabwean efforts to resist that control.

The Great Dyke

Within Zimbabwe, a portion of the rich Great Rift is called the Great Dyke, an intrusive geological treasure zone running over 530 kilometers from the northeast to the southwest of the country, in places up to 12 kilometers wide. A river runs along the fault and the region is volcanically active. Here also lie vast deposits of chromium, of copper, platinum and other metals.

The US State Department, as well as London, is aware of the vast minerals and other riches of Zimbabwe. It states in a recent report on Zimbabwe,

"Zimbabwe is endowed with rich mineral resources. Exports of gold, asbestos, chrome, coal, platinum, nickel, and copper could lead to an economic recovery one day...The country is richly endowed with coal-bed methane gas that has yet to be exploited.

With international attractions such as Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe stone ruins, Lake Kariba, and extensive wildlife, tourism historically has been a significant segment of the economy and contributor of foreign exchange. The sector has contracted sharply since 1999, however, due to the country's declining international image.(sic).

Energy Resources

With considerable hydroelectric power potential and plentiful coal deposits for thermal power station, Zimbabwe is less dependent on oil as an energy source than most other comparably industrialized countries, but it still imports 40% of its electric power needs from surrounding countries--primarily Mozambique. Only about 15% of Zimbabwe's total energy consumption is accounted for by oil, all of which is imported. Zimbabwe imports about 1.2 billion liters of oil per year. Zimbabwe also has substantial coal reserves that are utilized for power generation, and coal-bed methane deposits recently discovered in Matabeleland province are greater than any known natural gas field in Southern or Eastern Africa. In recent years, poor economic management and low foreign currency reserves have led to serious fuel shortages."

In short, chrome, copper, gold, platinum, huge hydroelectric power potential and vast coal reserves are what is at stake for Washington and London in Zimbabwe. The country also has unverified reserves of uranium, something in big demand today for nuclear power generation.

It is clear of late that so long as the tenacious Mugabe is running things, not the Anglo-Americans, but rather the Chinese, are Zimbabwe’s preferred business partners. This seems to be Mugabe’s greatest sin. He’s not reading from the right program as George W. Bush’s friends see it. His real sin seems to be turning East not West for economic and investment help.

The Chinese connection

During the Cold War China recognized and supported Robert Mugabe. In recent years as China’s search for secure raw materials escalated its foreign diplomacy, relations have become stronger. According to the Chinese media, China has invested more in Zimbabwe than any other nation.

Already back in July 2005 as Tony Blair turned the sanctions screws tighter on Zimbabwe, Mugabe flew to Beijing to meet with the top Chinese leadership, where he reportedly sought an emergency loan of US$1 billion and asked increased Chinese involvement in the economy.

It began to bear fruit. In June 2006 state--owned Zimbabwean businesses signed a number of energy, mining and farming deals worth billions of dollars with Chinese companies. The largest was with China Machine-Building International Corporation, for a $1,3bn contract to mine coal and build thermal-power generators in Zimbabwe, to reduce Zimbabwe’s electricity shortage. The Chinese company had already built thermal-power stations in Nigeria and Sudan, and had been involved in mining projects in Gabon.

In 2007 the Chinese government donated farm machinery worth $25 million to Zimbabwe, including 424 tractors and 50 trucks, as part of a $58 million loan to the Zimbabwean government. The Mugabe administration had previously seized white-owned farms and gave them to blacks, damaging machinery in the process. In return for the equipment and the loan the Zimbabwean government will ship 30 million kilograms of tobacco to the People's Republic of China.

Other Zimbabwe-China agreements included a deal between the Zimbabwe Mining Development and China’s Star Communications, forming a joint venture to mine chrome, with funding from the China Development Bank. Zimbabwe also agreed to import road-building, irrigation and farming equipment from the China National Construction and Agricultural Machinery Import and Export Corporation and China Poly Group. Zimbabwe also relies on China for imports of telecommunications equipment, military hardware and many other critical items it can no longer import from the west because of the British-led sanctions.

Relations have become so important that Zimbabwe’s police have a dedicated "China desk" to protect Chinese interests in the country.

In April 2007 the chairman of China’s top political advisory body, Jia Qinglin, head of the National Committee of the Chinese Peoples’ Political Consultative Conference, flew to Harare to meet with Mugabe. It was a follow-up to the 2006 Beijing China-Africa Cooperation Summit where the Chinese government invited the heads of more than 40 African states to discuss relations. Africa has become a diplomatic and economic priority for China and its economy.

At that time, Beijing got an open invitation to help develop dormant mines in the country. The deputy speaker of Zimbabwe's parliament called for more Chinese investment in the country's mining sector, according to China's Xinhua news agency. Zimbabwe's mining laws were changed to allow the government to reallocate mining claims that were not being exploited.

Mining generates half of Zimbabwe's export revenue. It is the only sector in the country that still has foreign investors after the collapse of the main agricultural sector. Western companies with mining claims in Zimbabwe were not exploiting them. "We would appeal to the Chinese government to come in full force to exploit these minerals," Zimbabwean Deputy Parliamentary Speaker, Kumbirai Kangai said to the official Xinhua.

Kangai assured potential Chinese investors that they would not expose themselves to legal action if they took over claims held by Western companies.

A few months after, in December 2007, Chinese company, Sinosteel Corporation, acquired 67 percent stake in Zimbabwe's leading ferrochrome producer and exporter Zimasco Holdings. Zimasco Holdings is the fifth largest high carbonated ferrochrome producer in the world. It used to produce 210,000 tons of high-carbon ferrochrome per year, nearly all of it along the mineral-rich Great Dyke, accounting for 4 percent of global ferrochrome production.

Zimasco has also the world's second largest reserves of chrome, after South Africa. It was formerly owned by Union Carbide Corporation, now part of Dow Chemicals Corp.

Oh, oh! Alarm bells went ringing in London and in Washington at that news.

China clearly views Africa as a central part of its strategic plan, most notably for its oil reserves and vital raw materials such as copper, chrome, nickel. The continent is also at the same time becoming an important region for Chinese manufactured exports. But the raw materials battle is at the heart, and the real reason by all accounts, why Washington recently decided to form a separate Africa Command in the Pentagon.

Controlling China’s economic emergence is an un-stated strategic priority of United States foreign and military policy and has been since before September 11, 2001. The only delicate point in the business is the fact that China, with well over $1.7 trillions of foreign exchange reserves, most believed in form of US Treasury securities, could trigger a complete dollar panic and further collapse of the US economy should she decide for political reasons it were too risky to continue holding its hundreds of billions of US dollar debt. In effect, by buying US Government debt with its trade surpluses, China has been indirectly financing US policies counter to Chinese national interest such as the Iraq war, or even the $100 million or so annually that Condi Rice’s State Department spends on Tibet.

China is refusing to play by the rules of the Anglo-American neo-colonial game. It does not seek IMF or World Bank approval before dealing with African countries. It makes soft loans, regardless who might be running the country. In this it does nothing different from Washington or London. The Chinese see American influence in Africa less entrenched than in the rest of the world, thus offering unique opportunities for China to pursue its economic interests.

It may or may not be cynical. It may be Realpolitik. If it results in the ability of certain African countries to use China as a political counterweight to the one-sided Anglo-American domination of the Continent, that itself could be a major benefit to Africans depending on how they use it.

Clearly, it has been extremely positive for Chinese access to vital economic minerals for its economy as well as oil from places such as Darfur and southern Sudan, or Nigeria.

Mineral wealth has once more put Africa on center stage of a battle for mineral riches between East and West. This time, unlike during the Cold War era, however, Beijing is playing with far more assets, and Washington with far less.

F. William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press), and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation (www.globalresearch.ca). He may be contacted through his website, www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net .

:: Article nr. 46093 sent on 31-jul-2008 08:05 ECT


Link: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=9707

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