July 28, 2007

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U.S.: The Debate over Security Contractors

Source: Stratfor
July 27, 2007 18 27 GMT


The latest Defense Appropriations bill goes to the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives next week. Included among the spending measures is a provision requiring the secretary of defense to set minimum standards for civilian security contractors and to establish a clear set of rules of engagement for those operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. In effect, this is a crackdown on security contractors -- though, like previous attempts, it is unlikely to change the way they operate in war zones.

The legislation is a response to the negative perception of contractors among members of Congress and the public. The prevalent view is that armed security contractors operating in foreign countries are mercenaries, that they get away with murder and that the lack of oversight makes them reckless and indiscriminate as to how they behave and whom they kill.

These issues were first visited in 2000, when Congress passed the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act (MEJA), which put the responsibility for prosecuting contractors working overseas in the hands of the U.S. Justice Department. Then, in 2006, Congress adjusted the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) to include contractors working in war zones. No enforcement regime was included in either law, however, so this new bill aims to implement the rules outlined under MEJA and UCMJ.

Implementing this kind of oversight, however, will be difficult because the U.S. military barely has the time and resources to police itself in war zones, let alone its thousands of contractors. In Iraq alone, Central Command has said there are 10,800 security contractors, providing security for U.S. and Iraqi officials, military convoys, main supply routes and more. (Many other contractors perform such duties as driving trucks, fixing vehicles and preparing meals, but they are not included in this provision).

Despite the sense in Congress that security contractors are mercenaries, they are considered a necessary evil, as they free up soldiers to fight the enemy. The thinking is that it makes little sense to spend time training members of the National Guard to conduct convoy security, especially at the last minute, when they can be put to more productive use by carrying out their military specialty in country. Pre-deployment training, therefore, can focus on adjusting their skills to better match the Iraq setting. Moreover, as it stands now, troop levels are not high enough to get all the jobs done. Security contractors, then, are the military's answer to its need for defensive personnel.

Despite their necessary role, security contractors have few friends in theater. Iraqis also see them as mercenaries and hence have a special loathing for them, even more so than foreign military troops. While they have more enemies, they also have less protection and support. Security contractors do have a line to the military to request help, but they are at the bottom of the priority list, leaving most on their own should they run into trouble. Lacking heavy armor, and not having immediate or reliable back-up in the form of artillery or close air support, contractors need to take dramatic and immediate measures to keep themselves -- and their charges -- from being trapped. Their mission is not to take on the enemy, but to keep their protective charges safe. As a result, contractors can sometimes react more forcibly to any sort of ambush or perceived threat than might later be deemed necessary.

The claims that government supervision of armed contractors is decreasing are misleading. In fact, there has never been any true bureaucracy to watch over them. A few contractors times zero authority equals zero oversight, just as thousands of contractors times zero authority equals zero oversight. In other words, there has been no decrease in the equation.

In practical terms, it is in the contractors' best interest to police themselves -- and most do, despite commonly held beliefs that these companies try to cover up infractions. Too much trouble can cause a contracting company to fall seriously out of favor with the military, which in turn could lead to fewer contracts and possibly even expulsion from the country. This is why most companies deal with infractions swiftly and seriously. A company will go out of its way to comply with any investigation and to provide compensation to indigenous parties involved. It also is a common practice to expel any worker who even hints at misbehavior. Having said that, there undoubtedly are some unethical contractors operating in Iraq and Afghanistan -- and these are the ones fueling the demands for oversight.

Security contractors have become an integral part of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as they provide a defensive support role that allows the U.S. military to use its finite number of troops in the most offensive posture possible. There is no sign that the need for them will end any time soon -- and so the debate about their oversight will rage on.

French Economic Intelligence release booklet for professionals

Working group undertaken of the IHEDN
July 25, 2007

Association of the Listeners in Economic Intelligence of the Institute of the High Studies of National Defense (AAIE-IHEDN), release a boklet for economic intelligence professional under available for download under the title document: “Management of the trades of the economic intelligence in company”.

This booklet, is intended to the professionals of human resources confronted with the recruitment of the experts of the economic intelligence or with any other person interested by this speciality.

Click to download the Booklet

A new world scientific gate available

July 26, 2007

WordWideScience.org offers to the researchers and to the public informed a free access to more than 200 million pages of information on international research.

This new gate Internet was developed jointly by British Library and the ministry for the Energy of the United States. It associates for France the INIST-CNRS (national Institute for scientific and technical information) as well as comparable organizations of Denmark, of Germany, of the Netherlands, of Australia, Brazil, of Canada and Japan.

Source: the economic letter intelligence infos of the INHES

TURKEY : Winning Kurdish hearts and minds

How the AKP overshadowed Kurdish nationalism in Turkey’s southeast

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Since the beginning of the Republic, Ankara’s Kurdish policy has been based on the principle of “Turkification,” an authoritarian policy that has sparked violent reactions. But now, the AKP is accomplishing something that the state has never been very successful in doing: Winning Kurdish hearts and minds

MUSTAFA AKYOL
DİYARBAKIR - Turkish Daily News


Hasan Uğur is a “haci,” a word used to describe pilgrims to the Kaaba, the Muslim holy shrine in Mecca. Like many hacis, he has a nicely trimmed beard and wears a kippa-like cap. After some comments in Kurdish and some prayers in Arabic, he kindly passes loaves of bread and dishes of goat meat to me and a dozen other men, who are all brothers, nephews or grandsons of Uğur, and are all sitting on the same carpet. This is one of the handful of houses in the Dalbudak Mezrası, a mini village tied to Ergani, a province of Diyarbakır.

While enjoying the generous hospitality of this large Kurdish family, in which all fathers have at least seven or eight children, my eyes are caught by a less friendly object hanging on the wall: An AK-47.

Don't think that Uğur and his relatives are members of a separatist group. No, actually they are fighting against a separatist group, a terrorist one, namely the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). Uğur's nephew, Hacı Ulaş is a “village guard,” the name given to Kurdish locals who are armed and paid by the Turkish government since the mid 80s. The duty of the guards is to protect their villages from the attacks by the PKK terrorists, and to help the regular army during their counter-insurgency operations in the mountains. “Once, 50 of them came down from that hill,” says Ulaş, showing the steep mountain that scenically lies behind his village. “We resisted many hours with only eight men, until the army units came to help.” On the wall of his living room, there is an official certificate given by the Turkish military congratulating his brave and heroic effort for the homeland.

Ulaş is only one of the more than 50,000 village guards in Turkey, who are all Kurdish, but do not buy into the separatist agenda of the PKK and, instead, remain loyal to the Turkish state. But why some Kurds fight for Turkey while others fight against it? The old and wise Uğur has a clear cut answer. “They are anarchists,” he says, “they are all infidels.” His nephew agrees. “If someone doesn't recognize his God and his prophet,” Ulaş argues, “then he won't recognize his government.”

Islamic identity seems to be an important reason why Ulaş and his fellow village guards, and millions of other Kurdish citizens of Turkey, dislike the PKK, which claims to fight for the liberation of all Kurds. The PKK started as a Marxist-Leninist organization, and although it toned that initial ideology down a bit after the early ‘90s, it is still left wing and secular. The pro-Kurdish Democratic Society Party (DTP), which some Turks consider as the political wing of the PKK, is again very secular in its rhetoric. Aysel Tuğluk, the co-chair of the DTP who got elected to Parliament in last Sunday's elections, recently argued in her article in the daily Radikal that Kurds don't “need to appeal to God” to solve their problems. For a godly Kurd, that is not the most attractive rhetoric in the world.



Respecting Kurdishness

In last Sunday's general elections, such Kurds flocked to the Justice and Development Party (AKP) led by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The AKP won a major victory in all of Turkey, to be sure, but its triumph in the southeast, where most Kurds live, was particularly astonishing. In Diyarbakır, considered as the base of Kurdish nationalism, the AKP's votes increased from 68,000 (in 2002) to 190,000. In Bingöl, another Kurdish city in which the PKK has been powerful, the AKP won an astounding 71 percent of the votes. In the whole southeast region – which some Kurdish nationalists call as “Turkish Kurdistan” – the AKP's votes exceeded 50 percent, while the DTP candidates could barely get 25.

Of course religious identity cannot fully explain why the AKP is so popular among Turkey's Kurds. Another reason is the AKP's more embracing attitude toward Kurdishness. Unlike “state parties” such as the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the secular-nationalist Republican People's Party (CHP), both of which are totally absent in the southeast, the AKP emphasizes that it respects Kurdish identity. Erdoğan became the first prime minister in Turkish history to acknowledge, “the state made mistakes about the Kurdish issue,” and has repeatedly emphasized the Kurd's right to express their culture and identity. Under the AKP government, and also thanks to the EU process, Kurdish citizens gained the right to open language courses and official Turkish TV, for the first time in its history, broadcast in the Kurdish language.

That's why even the Kurds who vote for the DTP don't dislike the AKP too much. “The CHP and the MHP are fascists,” says a taxi driver in Diyarbakır. “But while I will not vote for AKP, I can't say that they are bad guys.”

An additional factor is the AKP's policy toward northern Iraq. Most Kurds in Turkey sympathize with their relatives south of the border, and that's why they are firmly against any military incursion into northern Iraq. And it is no secret that in recent months, while the Turkish military has been arguing for an “operation Iraq” and opposition parties such as the CHP and MHP were cheering for that, the AKP government resisted the war mongering.



‘The protector of the poor'

Besides all these identity issues, the AKP also won hearts and minds in the region by the effective and successful services it brought to the people. Since 2002, the year the AKP came to power, both the central government and the municipalities run by AKP mayors seem to have done a good job. About 1,100 villages, which had no running water before, now have it. Hundreds of new schools have been built and the students get their textbooks for free. For very poor families, there is additional financial support for their children's education. The government built thousands of new and cheap apartments for families that were living in shantytowns. Abdurrahman Kurt, who is the head of AKP's Diyarbakır branch and just became an MP last Sunday, has visited thousands of families, asked them about their needs, and then organized charity networks to take care of them.

“This is not just about giving out,” Kurt's assistant adds. “It is the first time for many of those families that someone prominent knocks on their door and cares about them. They feel respected and cared about, a feeling which was absent in this region for decades.”

The AKP's success is also more notable when compared to the performance of the DTP mayors. Kurt notes that the DTP mayors are interested more in ideological matters then in taking caring of the city. They also lack the experience of the AKP mayors in governing. “We are the only alternative to Kurdish nationalism,” says Kurt. “We are the party of whole Turkey.”



A different path

It seems that the AKP is accomplishing something that the Turkish state has never been very successful in doing: Winning Kurdish hearts and minds. Since the beginning of the Turkish Republic, Ankara's policy has been based on the principle of “Turkification”: Converting Kurds into ethnic Turks by banning their language and culture, and imposing a whole new identity. This authoritarian policy has sparked violent reactions from Kurds, the latest one being the terrorist PKK.

Perhaps the military garrison in the middle of Diyarbakır is very symbolic. It has a huge wall on which Atatürk's famous motto is written in equally huge letters: “How happy is the one who says ‘I am a Turk'.” Yet, there is a very high and fortified barbed wire fence around this wall, to protect it, apparently, from those who are not that happy about this whole Turkishness rhetoric.

On the other hand the AKP's Diyarbakır headquarters was full of cheerful men, women and children on election night, which were all Kurdish citizens supporting this “party of whole Turkey.” Their spirit seems to be the best chance that Turkey has in order to handle and solve its 80-year old Kurdish question.



A liberal governor

In the recent years another actor in Diyarbakır who helped in winning hearts and minds is the “vali”, i.e. the governor, of the city, Efkan Ala. In Turkey each city elects a mayor for itself, but Ankara appoints a governor who rules most of the official institutions in that city. And since the governors are appointed by the center, they are generally seen as solemn figures who represent the state, but not the people.

Ala (42) is a different vali, though. He is widely respected in Diyarbakır, even among the Kurdish nationalists, as a man of the people. Appointed by the AKP government in 2004, he distinguished himself as a liberal and open-minded governor who established dialogue with all segments of society. During my visit to his office, he outlined a very liberal political philosophy, which included quotes from Karl Popper and emphases on civil liberties and pluralism. “Most people in this region are only looking for a more open and democratic Turkey,” Ala says, “and when they are treated with respect, they respond with acceptance.” There will always be some marginal Kurdish nationalist, according to Ala, but the state will gain the support of most of the Kurdish citizens when it accepts “Anglo-Saxon type of liberalism.”

Hasan Uğur

As a devout Muslim Uğur despises the PKK terrorists whom he calls “infidels.” He has never seen Ankara or Istanbul in his life, and the only international trip he ever took was to Mecca, as a pilgrim to the holy Muslim shrine. He prays for the well being of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and the continuance of the AKP government, which he thinks is the best that Turkey ever had.



Adem Akar

Akar is a “hammal,” i.e. a man who earns his life by carrying loads on his back. He, like many other Kurds in Ergani, has voted for the AKP which the calls “the protector of the poor.” His son had a surgical operation last year, and he benefited from the healthcare system created by Erdoğan's government. He says the AKP's local networks also take care of the poor and the needy.



Hacı İsa Biçer

Biçer is a veteran civil servant from Ergani's Salla village. He has been deeply offended by the Turkish military's “secularism memorandum” that was issued on April 27, in effect, to block the presidency of the AKP's Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül. “Gül is the most worthy person in this country,” he says. “They say his wife wears a headscarf. So what? We are a Muslim nation.”

Al-Qaeda sets eyes on Bangalore

http://www.deccanherald.com/Content/Jul102007/national2007071012016.asp

DECCAN HERALD, JULY 10, 2007
Al-Qaeda sets eyes on City

Bangalore, DH News Service:
According to top police officials, prominent installations in the City such as the ISRO, HAL, Infosys campus and the IISc, are under al Qaedas radar.


Is the IT City under al Qaeda radar? Evidence gathered so far by the City Crime Branch (CCB) sleuths, along with Intelligence Bureau (IB), which is probing the involvement of Kafeel Ahmed and Dr Sabeel Ahmed in London terror plot, are pointing at Bangalore being one of the prime targets of the al Qaeda.
According to top police officials, prominent installations in the City such as the ISRO, HAL, Infosys campus and the IISc, are under al Qaeda’s radar. “An attack on the IISc might be its (al Qaeda) first step into Bangalore,” the sources said.
Over and above, the investigators now have strong suspicion that the al Qaeda may also be involved in the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) attack when a Delhi-based scientist was gunned down. (The Bangalore police were under the impression that only Lashker-e-Taiba (LeT) was behind the attack). In fact, the police are yet to crack the case.
The investigators have taken up the probe in this regard after seizing the high-capacity hard disks from Kafeel’s residence in Banashankari II stage. The disks contained clues on the terrorist group’s plans in Bangalore. The disks have revealed that Kafeel, an aeronautical engineer and the one who drove the flaming jeep into the Glasgow terminal, designed the blueprint of the plot. The designs for making car bombs are also found in the disks. The investigators believe that Kafeel might have drawn the sketch of these designs during his stay in Bangalore between 2005 and 2006.
While the Ahmed brothers being al Qaeda terrorists is almost confirmed by the British police, the local police, who are in possession of these evidences, have taken up the investigation to ascertain as to how deep the al Qaeda might have penetrated Bangalore. Bangalore Police Commissioner N Achutha Rao, who confirmed the seizure of the hard disks from Kafeel’s house, said: “The hard disks are being examined to ascertain the connection of Sabeel and Kafeel with terror attack on the IISc”.
The City police has taken the assistance of various Central agencies to conduct investigation in this regard. Official sources fear that Ahmed brothers might have created terror modules, especially the “sleeper cells”, to help the striking force to carry out the attack and also escape easily. “We are trying to dig out more information about their activities in Bangalore so that terror modules, if any, can be smashed,” officials said.
The police are also probing the financial transactions of Kafeel, Sabeel and their cousin Dr Mohammed Haneef, who is also an accused, during their stay in the City.

Russia Profile Weekly Experts Panel: A Tit-for-Tat with Great Britain

Introduced by Vladimir Frolov
Russia Profile

Contributors: Nicolai N. Petro, Eugene Kolesnikov, Andrei Zagorski, Stephen Blank

Last week, the new British government expelled four Russian diplomats and tightened visa requirements for Russian officials in response to Moscow’s refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, a Russian citizen whom the British Crown Prosecution Service wants to be tried in Britain for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko, who died of polonium poisoning last year.

There was no word of economic sanctions yet, which probably reflects the British business community’s reluctance to lose the handsome profits they are making in Russia.

The United States strongly supported Great Britain, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calling on Russia to extradite Lugovoi. The EU, however, was quite lukewarm to the idea of being dragged into another brawl with Russia on a matter that did not directly concern other EU states.

The British move was met with surprise in Moscow, which up to the last moment thought that the case could and should be dealt with as a criminal, rather than political, matter.

Moscow’s response was restrained and proportionate, expelling four British diplomats, placing a visa ban on British government officials and suspending joint secret service efforts on fighting terrorism. President Vladimir Putin tried to play down the significance of the diplomatic crisis, and the Russian authorities hastened to reassure British investors that they were safe doing business in Russia.

Moscow also sought to emphasize that the British were simply asking too much – to change Russia’s Constitution, which directly prohibits the extradition of Russian nationals. The Brits were also accused of double standards and duplicity, since London has a long track record of not extraditing those even suspected of terrorism to third countries, including Canada and Germany, to say nothing about Russia’s most wanted man – Boris Berezovsky. In 2001, British Home Secretary Jack Straw refused to carry out the extradition of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, despite a request from Spain and a concurring decision of a British court.

Then almost immediately reports emerged that the British police arrested and subsequently deported a Russian national who was plotting to assassinate Berezovsky. The latter immediately claimed to be the target of a Kremlin attempt on his life.

What is the real political significance of this stand off? Did the British overplay their hand by insisting on Lugovoi’s extradition while fully aware that the Russian Constitution does not allow it? Was the Russian response justified? What is the view from Washington and Brussels on the diplomatic war between Russia and Britain? How will it all develop? What will be the consequences for Russia’s relations with the West and Russia’s domestic developments in an election year?

Professor Nicolai N. Petro, Department of Political Science, University of Rhode Island

Leading Western press outlets like the Washington Post and The Times of London have set new standards of journalistic inventiveness by speculating that Britain's refusal to share evidence with Russia about the murder of Alexander Litvinenko must mean that it has evidence that implicates the Russian government!

Why has this evidence not been made public? Because the recently installed Prime Minister Gordon Brown does not want to start his term by damaging relations with Russia. The fact that the British have already done so by expelling four Russian diplomats seems to have escaped their attention.

In contrast, the Russian press has been suggesting for months now that no evidence is forthcoming because there simply is none. But, after all the media frenzy in Britain about Litvinenko, admitting this would abruptly end Brown's honeymoon with the press.

Both interpretations suffer from a lack of hard evidence, but as Mary Dejevsky, lead writer for The Independent cogently notes, there are some rather "perplexing" aspects to the UK’s position.

The first is that British officials have failed to provide their Russian counterparts with any evidence for the charges against Andrei Lugovoi (not even an autopsy report on Litvinenko's death!), even though they know that, under the terms of the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, an extradition request cannot be fulfilled without some evidentiary basis. Britain has not invoked Article 16 ("Provisional arrest") or even asked Russian authorities to institute appropriate proceedings against Lugovoi, presumably because this would require sharing "the files, information and exhibits relating to the offence."

In light of Britain's totally implausible demand that Russia violate its own Constitution (Article 61, para. 1: "The citizen of the Russian Federation may not be deported out of Russia or extradited to another state"), Russian officials have called attention to their right, under Article 6 of the 1957 treaty, to refuse extradition. Still, the British government had the temerity to make its request after having refused 21 separate Russian requests for extradition!

Finally, there is the peremptory rejection of the idea that Lugovoi could be arraigned on murder charges in Russia if, as required by the treaty, evidence to support such prosecution were provided. Sir Ken Macdonald, director of public prosecutions, even went out of his way to question the integrity of the Russian judicial system, though he surely must know that it actually has a very good track record when it comes to trying Russians for crimes committed abroad – of two hundred such cases, nearly a half has ended in convictions.

It would appear that Gordon Brown sees the entire Litvinenko affair as an embarrassment from which to extricate himself, while scoring a few domestic points with the British press for "standing up to Moscow." He could thus extract maximum political benefit from an essentially empty hand, while simultaneously distancing himself from his unpopular predecessor.

In the long run, however, if no new evidence emerges to build a case against Lugovoi, Britain's only recourse may be to follow the terms of the 1957 treaty and to participate in a trial of Litvinenko's murderer in Russia. Before it comes to that, however, we will most likely see a far more sober-minded Gordon Brown seeking to make amends with Moscow.

Eugene Kolesnikov, Private Consultant, the Netherlands

When a politically significant news story breaks out, the state and national elites send signals to the media on how the story is interpreted by the establishment in order to frame further discourse in accordance with state interests. There are hundreds of ways to do that without violating the principles of free media: news conferences, interviews and off-the-record opinions of state officials, statements by opinion leaders and think tanks, leaked documents etc.

Let's take a look at some of the signals sent by the UK establishment during the first week after Litvinenko's death on November 23, 2006. Immediately afterward, Peter Hain, Northern Ireland secretary, said that Putin's rule in Russia was "clouded" by an "extremely murky murder" of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, and that there had been "huge attacks" on liberty and democracy during Putin's presidency.

He was soon joined by the Liberal Democrats' leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, who said the government should have been "much tougher" on Putin, adding that it would have to consider relations carefully if it were established that "state terrorism" was perpetuated on British soil. British legislator Malcolm Bruce joined the chorus by accusing Russia of backsliding on democracy, human rights and media freedoms. "We have treated Mr. Putin with too much respect while we have been watching him pursue these post-Soviet tendencies. I think we have a situation where there is a growing realization that you can't really trust Russia." he said.

During the same first week, press reports suggested that British intelligence sources increasingly suspected that Alexander Litvinenko was the victim of a plot involving "rogue elements" within the Russian state. When Russian authorities confirmed that Russian citizens cannot be extradited to Britain and have to be interrogated and persecuted in Russia, Tony Blair declares that no political or diplomatic barrier would be allowed to stand in the way of the British investigation into Litvinenko's death. At the same time, British officials in Moscow were reportedly trying to explain the nature of the judicial system in Britain and the fact that detectives operate independently of political pressure, making clear that in Russia this would not be the case.

Thus, very quickly and efficiently, before the ink had dried on the investigation order, the UK, as well as the Western establishment in general, launched a public campaign against Russia. It was the second major campaign in a row, the first being the assassination of Anna Politkovskaya, also spun in the same manner. The fact that it should take a real stretch of the imagination to suggest that Russian authorities would want to kill a minor former KGB officer and cover half of Europe in radioactive traces leading back to Russia did not matter as the story took hold with the public.

My reading of this and many other related stories is that the UK is playing a geopolitical game against Russia in full coordination with the United States. The aim of this game is to contain Russia and bring Europe back into the Transatlantic alliance with a consolidated front against Russia. The West still does not want to come to terms with Russia’s independent foreign policy course.

Russian response to the British political and diplomatic escalation has been measured and conciliatory to the extent possible, providing confidence that Russia cannot be so easily shaken by political provocation.

Andrei Zagorski, Professor, MGIMO-University, Moscow

The case of Lugovoi does not have a political solution but can have a legal one. The British authorities should recognize that the Russian Constitution prohibits extraditing Russian nationals. Meanwhile, Moscow needs to realize that London has good reasons to mistrust the Russian courts and prosecution. It would be fair to expect reassurances from Moscow that the case would receive a fair and politically unbiased court hearing. For this, the trial could admit not only international observers, but British investigators should be given the opportunity to conduct required investigative activities in Russia and to represent the side of the prosecution.

Alternatively, Mr. Lugovoi could himself sue the British government either in the UK or in a third country. He has good reasons to do so, since his reputation, business and travel opportunities are affected by the current dispute. He would not have to appear in court himself but could, instead, be represented by lawyers.

Moscow should have a vested interest in bringing the case to a legal resolution as soon as possible unless it fears that the eventual consequences would outweigh the benefits.

Firstly, Moscow seems to suffer more from the unresolved dispute than the UK does. It fits into the chain of cases, such as the assassinations of Politkovskaya and Litvinenko, which fuel the impression that those murders have been politically motivated and that Moscow is covering those who might have been involved. This continues to damage both the image of Russia and that of Putin personally.

Secondly, the attempt to compare the Lugovoi case to London’s refusal to extradite an exiled Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky and the former representative of the separatist Chechen government Akhmed Zakayev does not help but, rather, hurts the Kremlin’s reputation. This argument reinforces the impression that the reason not to extradite Lugovoi is political, with the legal argumentation provided only as a flimsy excuse.

Professor Stephen Blank, The US Army War College, Carlyle Barracks, PA

(Dr. Blank’s views as contributed to Russia Profile do not represent the position of the U.S. Army, Defense Department or the U.S. Government)

While we are only at the beginning of the controversy over Lugovoi's extradition, this episode will surely further damage Russian relations with the West because it reinforces the perception of the values gap separating Russia and Europe. The issue over the Russian Constitution not permitting extradition is overblown because, as the Economist has pointed out, such issues have in the past been handled by other countries in an expeditious way.

As for Britain’s refusal to extradite people wanted by other states, this must be understood in terms of the British tradition of hosting political refugees and giving them shelter. Lugovoi’s murder however, is not a political crime as in Pinochet's case but rather a purely criminal act.

Russia's incomprehension of the British response and of the EU's support for it underscores once again that it believes everyone conducts their affairs with the same cynicism and brutality that Moscow does, and that talk of democracy is nothing more than a sinister power play aimed at undermining Russia. While such talk may play well in Russia, it is utterly misguided and ultimately reflects the self-isolating, even paranoid and ethnocentric elements of Russian policy so prevalent these days.

Although this episode is unlikely to affect U.S.-Russian ties in any serious fashion, it is another blow to Russo-European relations. Litvinenko's murder and the Russian reaction to it have re-invoked the presumption of political murder being a standard Russian response to domestic dissent, raising questions about Russia's G-8 membership and claims for special rank and privilege. In addition, a fugitive tycoon Leonid Nevzlin in Israel also has claimed that Putin's people have tried to kill him, and the revelation of a recent murder plot aimed at Boris Berezovsky only heightens this presumption.

As for the justifications offered for Russia's response, the most one can say is that it was proportionate to Great Britain’s actions. Its restraint suggests that Moscow knows full well that London's stance was justified. Unfortunately such episodes only reinforce the conviction that Russia is regressing to behavior redolent of the Soviet period and that it cannot be completely trusted as a full partner for Europe.

Aitzaz Ahsan: A Lawyer who turned a Judge into a National Cause



A Lawyer Who Turned a Judge Into a National Cause
By SOMINI SENGUPTA; New York; July 28, 2007

PROFILE OF Aitzaz Ahsan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, July 25 — In the hands of a lesser political bloodhound, the matter might have been simply a court case to decide the fate of the chief justice of Pakistan.

In the hands of Aitzaz Ahsan, one of the country’s best known lawyer-politicians, the case of the chief justice was rendered a case of justice under military rule. What could have been no more than a polite exchange of arcane constitutional arguments became over the last four months a political finger in the eye of the Pakistani president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

The chief justice, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, was removed by the president in March on charges of misconduct. Mr. Chaudhry appealed to the Supreme Court, which ruled a week ago that General Musharraf’s action was illegal, and restored him to the post.

As the principal counsel for the chief justice, Mr. Ahsan not only led the legal challenge but also saw to it that it fueled a popular protest movement. Playing chauffeur, Mr. Ahsan drove Mr. Chaudhry on spirited cavalcades through some of Pakistan’s largest cities. Lawyers in black piled on top of Mr. Ahsan’s Mitsubishi Pajero, shouting slogans for judicial independence.

The streets throbbed with supporters, including cadres from Mr. Ahsan’s Pakistan People’s Party. They threw rose petals to greet the chief justice.

The road shows were part of a careful calculation, one intended to bring maximum pressure on General Musharraf.

“It had to be a forensic exercise,” Mr. Ahsan said a few days after his victory, in one of the first interviews in his law office here in the capital. “To win the people we had to go the hustings, but we could lose the judges that way. Judges are conservative. They don’t want the chief justice addressing rallies. They would think he wasn’t one of them.”

Mr. Ahsan made sure the chief justice addressed mainly lawyers’ congregations. In court, he steered clear of political arguments, until the day before the verdict, when he threatened to depose the president and his intelligence chiefs in court if the bench failed to decide for the chief justice.

The Supreme Court did just that. And dancing broke out in the streets.

“It’s certainly a moment for me of great humility,” Mr. Ahsan said.

Gloating, Mr. Ahsan well knows, does not look good in politics.

The morning of the interview, the phone did not stop ringing with calls of congratulations. Mr. Ahsan, in short sleeves and navy blue pants, growled graciously into the handset, smiling, thanking. Raising a finger, he said he did not like to be photographed while on the phone. That is how movie stars in Pakistan are often photographed, he said.

Mr. Chaudhry’s supporters said that he had been suspended because he potentially threatened General Musharraf’s bid to remain army chief and seek re-election as president when his term expires this year. That bid was expected to be challenged in the Supreme Court, where Mr. Chaudhry had acquired a reputation as anything but pliant. The opposition vows to challenge it still. And the lawyers, Mr. Ahsan says, will again rise up.

“The day Pervez Musharraf announces he is standing for re-election, the bars are going to strike, the courts are going to close across Pakistan, and lawyers are going to be on the street,” he said.

As a lawyer and a politician, Mr. Ahsan has had a front-row seat on many milestones in Pakistan’s turbulent history of democracy and dictatorship. He recalls being jailed seven or eight times under the former president, Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq. He was law minister in the first democratically elected government to take over after General Zia’s; a black-and-white photograph in his law office in Lahore shows Mr. Ahsan on his feet, addressing the first news conference of the new government and announcing amnesty for thousands who had been jailed and court-martialed by General Zia. The photograph was taken on Dec. 2, 1988. In it, Mr. Ahsan is standing next to his prime minister and party leader, Benazir Bhutto.

He represented Ms. Bhutto, now in self-imposed exile in Dubai and London, when she was accused of corruption. More surprising, he accepted the case of a longtime political foe, the former prime minister Nawaz Sharif, in 1999, when General Musharraf ousted him in a coup and threw him into jail.

Mr. Ahsan is a natural raconteur. He composes his words carefully, deliberately, almost always while staring ahead, rather than at his interlocutor. It is with particular relish he tells of his run-ins with power.

One dates to a night in November 1992, during Mr. Sharif’s government, when hundreds of Pakistan People’s Party workers had camped out on his front lawn in preparation for an opposition rally the next morning. An armored personnel carrier broke through the gate, and the riot police stormed in. Party workers, he recalled, retaliated by thrashing the police. “The police ran,” he said.

Mr. Ahsan has been among Pakistan’s most consistent opponents of military rule and of American backing for Pakistan’s military rulers, from General Zia to General Musharraf.

“This time the military has lost all its legitimacy and authority to rule,” Mr. Ahsan began.

“You know, Pakistan is not Saudi Arabia, it’s not Kuwait,” he said. “It’s not a Middle Eastern Muslim country. It’s a South Asian Muslim country. South Asia as a whole has democratic instincts, democratic guts. What you’ve seen over the last couple of months you wouldn’t see in a Jordan or a Syria.”

This is one of Mr. Ahsan’s favorite talking points, that Pakistan belongs to South Asia, and not to the Middle East, and the theme of his 1997 book, “The Indus Saga and the Making of Pakistan.” His shelves are packed with Pakistani law books, along with books on the Indian Constitution and “The 9/11 Commission Report.”

Over the mantel, where in most Pakistani offices one would find a giant portrait of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the nation’s founder, Mr. Ahsan has hung a friend’s painting of the giant mango tree in the middle of his garden. Ms. Bhutto’s photograph sits on a corner table. The more prominently displayed image is of him in the driver’s seat of his Pajero, with Mr. Chaudhry next to him and at least seven lawyers piled on the roof.

“It is, I feel, the end of the road for the military,” he maintained. “It is the end of the road for Pervez Musharraf. Nobody should bet on him, not even the Americans.”

The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us




The Elephant and the Dragon: The Rise of India and China and What It Means for All of Us (Hardcover)

From Publishers Weekly
Meredith, who covers India and China for Forbes, upends conventional wisdom in this well-reported book, arguing that the U.S. shouldn't fear these two rising economic powers. The U.S. (buyer to the world) and China (factory to the world) have, respectively, the largest and fourth largest economies, but they will reach parity in 2015. Though American politicians tax Chinese goods, Meredith points out that Americans actually gain from the undervalued yuan: our companies profit from the cheap goods the Chinese manufacture. Meanwhile, India (backoffice to the world) has picked up most of the one million white-collar jobs that moved out of the U.S. by 2003. But Meredith notes that for every dollar that goes overseas, $1.94 of wealth is created—all but 33 cents of which returns to the U.S. Protrade and antiprotectionist, she makes a compelling argument that China is doing better than India because it moved toward a market economy in 1978, while India began to liberalize in 1991. She also looks critically at each country's plans for the future, noting that China's citizens save more, while India's infrastructure and education system are falling behind. She concludes that if inward-facing India and communist China can transform themselves, so can the United States of America. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes
Meredith's systematic analysis…is spirited and readable.



The Boom Beyond Our Borders
By MATTHEW REES
July 18, 2007; Page D10
WallStreet Journal
http://online.wsj.com/
Anyone interested in the marvel of modern-day China and India routinely encounters a host of "gee whiz" factoids that illustrate each country's high-octane growth. Shanghai, for example, had 15 skyscrapers in 1978; by last year it had about 3,800, more than Los Angeles and Chicago combined. India, meanwhile, is home to three of the world's 10 biggest information-technology firms, and IBM employs 53,000 people there -- an increase since 1992 of… 53,000.

Yet it's just as easy to uncover bad news. Sixteen of the world's 20 most polluted cities are in China. And even if the country survives an environmental catastrophe, say the pessimists, it will be hit by an economic one: 70% of its publicly traded companies are worthless, according to a high-ranking Chinese government official (speaking earlier this year). It has also been estimated that the banking system is carrying close to $1 trillion in bad loans. China's premier, Wen Jiabo, has even admitted that the economy is "unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unstable."

Cassandras don't lack for alarming material about India, either: Close to 40% of the population is illiterate and 60% remains dependent on agriculture -- much of it at the subsistence level -- while an antiquated infrastructure stifles the country's ability to grow. "Whatever you can rightly say about India," the Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen has written, "the opposite is also true." Ditto for China.

In "The Elephant and the Dragon," Robyn Meredith, a Hong Kong-based correspondent for Forbes magazine, neatly navigates between the boom and the gloom. Her account of India and China today is accessible to the general reader but also brimming with enough data and first-person reporting to get the attention of even those jaded by the recent breathless coverage of Bangalore and Beijing.

As Ms. Meredith shows, comprehensive, market-oriented reforms -- China's began in 1978, India's in 1991 -- have sparked a new dynamism and remarkable economic growth. In the 1990s alone, more than 200 million people escaped poverty in the two countries, lifting the per-capita standard of living beyond the wildest dreams of previous generations. "We got more done for the poor by pursuing the competition agenda for a few years," says one of India's former finance ministers, "than we got done by pursuing a poverty agenda for decades."

In "The Elephant and the Dragon," we see the average citizen enjoying unprecedented opportunities but also the effort of businesses to capitalize on them. "I look at apartments at night," says a general manager from Philips, a Dutch company that manufactures light bulbs (among much else). He measures China's economic progress by its growing illumination. He observes, for instance, that China's rural homes have an average of three light bulbs now but had none before the economy opened up. Helping a nation of 1.3 billion people to "see the light" is, for Philips, big business.DETAILS

The Elephant and the Dragon
By Robyn Meredith
(Norton, 252 pages, $25.95)


Elsewhere, Ms. Meredith shows us the different steps taken by a Hong Kong company to produce linen sweaters -- buying flax from France, having it shipped to Tianjin, on China's eastern seaboard, then trucked to a city 255 miles away where it is cleaned, straightened and ironed, and then trucked again, more than 1,100 miles, for dyeing and knitting. The finished product then travels two hours, by truck, to Hong Kong, where it is transferred to a plane, for distribution in the U.S. Thus the metamorphosis in modern China's business rhetoric: Assembly lines are out; supply chains are in.

Ms. Meredith reminds us of just how far both countries have traveled in the past half-century or so. In China, 30 million to 40 million people starved to death from 1959 to 1962 because of Mao's collectivizing farm policies, and nearly all of the country's universities were shuttered for more than a decade during the Cultural Revolution. In India, the post-independence experience with socialism and central planning subjected the economy to what became known, derisively, as "the Hindu rate of growth." Cumbersome, inefficient, patronage-laden enterprises sustained poverty rather than alleviating it. Over time, the irresistible logic of capitalism coincided with a juggernaut of globalizing technology to overturn the old paradigm and usher in reform.

Ms. Meredith acknowledges that, as a result of such changes, the U.S. has lost jobs to China- and India-based outsourcing and "offshoring," but she notes that American consumers have gained all the more, with a range of products and services at lower prices. She also claims that the much-lamented U.S. trade deficit with China is overstated: Much of it is derived from the practice of Western companies assembling goods in China and then exporting them to the U.S. The money we pay for such products, although counted in the trade deficit, is actually headed to non-Chinese firms and stockholders.

Can China and India maintain their sizzling growth rates? Ms. Meredith does not dwell on the question as much as one might hope. But it's clear that both countries need to liberalize their rules governing banks and financial markets. Burdensome regulations interfere with lending -- India's banks, for example, must channel about one-third of their loans to agriculture and household businesses. The effect is to send capital into unprofitable enterprises.

Both countries also need a more basic deregulation of everyday commerce. According to the World Bank's Doing Business report -- which measures the effect of government regulations -- entrepreneurs in India and China suffer from high taxes and intrusive bureaucrats. They also have trouble enforcing contracts and getting licenses to operate. For all the progress, in short, the elephant and the dragon still have a long way to go.

Mr. Rees is a senior director at The White House Writers Group, a Washington-based consulting firm.

BALOCHISTAN : Militant group claims responsibility for killing Raziq Bugti

Islamabad, July 27: Pakistan's banned militant group Baluch Liberation Army (BLA) Friday claimed responsibility for killing Balochistan provincial government spokesman Raziq Bugti, a private TV channel reported.

Biberg Baloch, self-claimed spokesman of BLA, has called a press club in Quetta to make the claim, according to Dawn News.

Raziq Bugti was shot dead Friday afternoon by gunmen in an ambush in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, local TV channels reported.

Raziq Bugti, 55, was alone and driving his vehicle and no security guard was with him when assailants opened fire at the vehicle, the private Geo TV channel reported.

Attacks on government installations or public assets have been reported frequently in the remote southwest region where anti-government tribal people have been campaigning for more autonomy and bigger royalties share from the local natural resources.

Since early July, Pakistan has seen a series of attacks across the country, most of which targeted security forces and were considered to be religious extremists' backlash from the government operation against Islamabad-based hard-line Lal Masjid, or Red Mosque.

Abdullah Mahsud, a militant leader mostly based in northwestern Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region, blew himself up July 24 to avoid arrest when law enforcement officials raided a house in Balochistan.

--- IANS

Pakistan's Pashtun 'problem'?

SPEAKING FREELY
Pakistan's Pashtun 'problem'
By Haroun Mir Jul 26, 2007; Asia Times

At least since September 11, 2001, most of the perpetrators of terrorist actions in the West have been Arabs or Pakistanis, yet the victims of the West's military reactions have been Afghans and the Pashtun tribes living in Pakistan.

The majority of Pashtuns have fallen prey to Arab and Pakistani propaganda against the West. The continued insurgency in Afghanistan and the sudden deterioration of the situation in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province make the Pashtun tribes the prime target in the "war against terror".


They have lived in poverty and become the proxy soldiers in the confrontation between the West and the Islamic extremists. The radicalization of young Pashtuns in madrassas (seminaries), generously financed by Saudi Arabia, menaces the cohesion of Pashtun tribal structure.

About 30 million to 35 million Pashtuns live in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, but they are divided and engaged in internal feuds. Only once - and for a short period - have they stood united. This was under the rule of Ahmad Shah Durani (1747-73), who created modern Afghanistan and conquered significant territories in India and Iran. Ever since British rule in India, Pashtun tribes have been in conflict either against foreign intruders or among themselves.

They have deliberately been kept away from modern education and economic development. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the 1980s, they were tools in the hands of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. And today they are the direct victims of the "war on terror".

In the years of conflict in Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and other major Persian Gulf countries have financed thousands of madrassas for Afghan refugees in Pakistan, which resulted in a massive radicalization of young Pashtuns. In addition, the influx of Wahhabi Arab fighters and madrassa teachers transformed the dominant moderate Hanafi school of jurisprudence into a new breed of religious extremism, which resulted in the creation of the Taliban-type movement.

For instance, during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, not a single act of suicide bombing was committed against the Soviet military or their family members in Kabul. The first suicide bombing in Afghanistan was committed by two Arabs against the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, Afghanistan's former defense minister, on September 9, 2001. At least since 2003, young Pashtuns have become involved in suicide bombings, which go against their tribal and religious values.

A new breed of extremist Islamic sect is taking shape in the Pashtun heartland. Only a limited number of the 15 million to 20 million Pashtuns who live in Pakistan enjoy modern education. Sadly, secular and modern schools are being burned down by the Taliban in Afghanistan's Pashtun-dominated provinces. Each year, thousands of young Pashtuns are trained in the madrassas, and only a limited number of them have access to secular education.

Pakistan's military rulers have an interest in keeping the masses of Pashtun people ignorant. They need the support of Pashtuns to dominate other minority groups. Until now the Pakistani authorities have used the old British system of divide-and-rule to play off local Pashtun leaders and in exchange require their loyalty.

This colonial system has kept the masses of Pashtuns illiterate and uneducated, and only selected families have received quality education to fill senior positions in the military. The presence of Pashtuns in the Pakistani military is used to dominate Balochs, who have been struggling to gain their autonomy since the creation of Pakistan in 1947. Without the support of the Pashtun tribes, the Pakistan Army would be unable to control a widespread Baloch insurgency.

President General Pervez Musharraf is keen to keep the truce with Pashtun tribes and save his tacit alliance with extremist religious parties. He knows well that the expansion of conflict with Pashtun tribes in Pakistan not only forces them to unite against Pakistani authorities, but also could incite Balochs to side with the Pashtuns.

Pakistani military authorities want to keep the status quo in the tribal regions. They are more interested in the integrity of their territory than in the global fight on terror. Musharraf has always sought the cooperation of radical religious leaders instead of the main secular leaders because only the religious leaders are capable of reaching out to the radicalized Pashtuns tribes.

Pakistan's military interests are in the interests neither of the West nor of Pashtuns. Keeping Pashtun tribes divided and backward might serve the short-term militaristic interests of Pakistan. But it is already backfiring against the long-term interests of the West.

The Pashtun-dominated territories have become a de facto sanctuary for international terrorism. North Atlantic Treaty Organization and US forces are fighting and bombing those who have nothing to do with terrorist acts in the West. Al-Qaeda and other international terrorists are taking advantage of the religiously devoted and fiercely independent Pashtun tribes.

Indeed, extremist religious groups and local Taliban have become an alibi for Musharraf to continue his military rule in Pakistan, despite the contempt shown by the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis. Pakistan's military authorities have been able to persuade the West to accept their ill-conceived tribal policies of promoting radical extremist leaders to the detriment of more traditional moderate Pashtun leaders.

The West, instead of alienating and pushing Pashtun tribes further into the camp of extremists, could reach out and assist moderate Pashtun leaders. But young Pashtuns have undergone almost three decades of radicalization, and it will require much time to reverse the trend.

Haroun Mir was an aide to the late Ahmad Shah Massoud, Afghanistan's former defense minister. He works as a consultant and policy analyst in Kabul.

Russia says U.S. can't have both Gabala, Europe missile shields -1

21:33 | 27/ 07/ 2007

MOSCOW, July 27 (RIA Novosti) - The United States cannot deploy a missile shield in Central Europe and at the same time accept Russia's offer for the use of the Gabala radar in Azerbaijan, Russia's Foreign Ministry said Friday.

"Russia's proposals are an alternative, rather than a complement, to U.S. plans to deploy elements of its missile defense system in Europe," ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said.

In Kamynin's comments, posted on the ministry's Web site, the spokesman discussed the results of a meeting of the NATO-Russia Joint Permanent Council held Wednesday, at which Russia sought to clarify proposals for alternative missile defense sites made to the U.S. by President Vladimir Putin.

Kamynin said Russia's delegation to the Brussels meeting had said that "missile defense systems affecting the interests of many states should be developed, built, and deployed on the basis of collective assessments of real missile threats."

"Importantly, such actions must not undermine regional or global stability, and must not result in new global dividing lines," he said.

The United States has sought to deploy the "third site" of its global missile defense - the first two being in Alaska and California - ostensibly to fend off a hypothetical missile attack from Iran, in Poland and Czech Republic.

Moscow has complained that the X-band radar slated to be part of the missile shield could be used to undermine its military capability, and has proposed that the U.S. use its Gabala radar in Azerbaijan and a future radar in South Russia's Krasnodar Territory instead.

Democrat-controlled Congress has several times slashed funds allocated for the "third site," and some European NATO members have questioned whether it makes sense to have missile defenses on the continent that are controlled by the U.S., rather than NATO.

Kamynin said The NATO-Russia Joint Permanent Council meeting "demonstrated that many NATO representatives share our view - that it is necessary to continue consultations to arrive at a mutually-acceptable result in which the concerns of all countries concerned are taken into account."

Meanwhile, "all efforts to set up the "third site" must be frozen," he said.

Pakistan: Musharraf Forced to Compromise

Source: Stratfor
July 27, 2007 14 25 GMT


Summary


A suicide bombing occurred at a market in the Pakistani capital July 27, while former Red Mosque students reoccupied the nearby Red Mosque. The domestic security situation continues to deteriorate and is exacerbating political instability in the country, which would explain reports that say President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who is on a trip to the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, will meet with top Pakistani opposition leaders in those countries. Musharraf has been weakened to the point that he is forced to seek a compromise with his opponents in an effort to salvage his regime.

Analysis

Another suicide bombing occurred July 27 in the Pakistani capital, this one targeting security forces at a restaurant in a marketplace. About a dozen people were killed and nearly 50 injured. Meanwhile, Islamabad's Red Mosque was the scene of unrest again as radical seminary students briefly occupied the mosque on the occasion of its reopening. Elsewhere, a spokesman for the provincial government in Balochistan was gunned down. All this escalating violence and unrest would explain why President Gen. Pervez Musharraf planned to meet July 27 with Pakistan People's Party leader Benazir Bhutto in Abu Dhabi and is expected to meet in Saudi Arabia with Shahbaz Sharif, brother of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader and former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who Musharraf ousted from power in October 1999.

Stratfor has been saying for several months now that the Musharrfian state is in the process of unraveling. As per our prediction, Musharraf now must seek the help of mainstream political forces to deal with the growing crisis of governance and an Islamist insurgency. Moreover, the recent tensions with Washington over the U.S. threats to engage in unilateral military action against jihadists in the country's northwest -- which quickly followed the restoration of the Supreme Court's chief justice -- seem to have been the last straw.

There also were reports July 27 that Musharraf's corps commanders and agency heads have asked him to step down, another development we had anticipated. Stepping down does not necessarily mean that Musharraf would leave the political scene altogether. Rather he likely will be forced to relinquish the post of army chief and try to stay on as a civilian president while sharing powers with a coalition government led by Bhutto following parliamentary elections.

At this stage it is unclear whether Musharraf will be successful in his efforts to reach a compromise -- as these efforts could be too little and too late.

Indian Officials Satisfied With Nuclear Pact With US

By Steve Herman
New Delhi
28 July 2007

Herma report - Download 646k
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Indian Nat. Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan, center, Indian Foreign Secretary Shiv Shankar Menon, left, and Dept. of Atomic Energy Chairman Anil Kakodkar, right, address a press conference, 27 July 2007

Indian officials are expressing deep satisfaction with a peacetime nuclear deal with the United States that took two years to finalize. The agreement permits the U.S., for the first time in three decades, to provide assistance and fuel for energy-deficient India's civilian nuclear power program. VOA's Steve Herman reports from New Delhi that Indian government officials are optimistic the deal will also find favor with a skeptical U.S. Congress.

After five rounds of intensely technical negotiations over two years, India appears to have extracted nearly all the concessions it had sought from the United States.

Both countries are calling the landmark civil nuclear cooperation agreement announced Friday "a historic milestone."

While the text of the agreement has not been made public, India says it retains the right to conduct nuclear weapons tests, and the United States will allow India to reprocess U.S.-provided nuclear material.

One of the deal's fiercest critics within the Indian government during the negotiations was Anil Kakodkar, chief of the Atomic Energy Department, but the final agreement gives Kakodkar reason for satisfaction.

India's Atomic Energy Commission chairman, Anil Kakodkar, says India has won the right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, 28 July 2007

"This is what exactly we were looking for, as far as the full civil nuclear cooperation. So it's there," he said.

U.S. officials contend the deal is still consistent with a law called the Hyde Act, under which India would lose access to American nuclear fuel if it carried out further atomic weapons tests.

The agreement apparently makes no reference to what would happen if India indeed conducts such a test. That lack of clarity has satisfied Indian skeptics like Kakodkar, but has some influential U.S. congressmen expressing opposition to the agreement.

India's national security adviser, M.K. Narayanan, is optimistic, however, that the deal's provisions do not violate U.S. law.

India's national security advisor M.K. Narayanan at New Delhi news conference on US-India civil nuclear pact, 28 July 2007

"We've got a deal, a very good deal which we believe will - should - meet the legal requirements of both countries," he said. "Now, I cannot speak on the behalf of individual senators or congressmen in this matter. We dealt with the U.S. administration, and I think they know the limits of where they can go."

India was ostracized by the world nuclear community for conducting weapons tests in 1974 and 1998. Implementation of the deal will require a waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the multi-national body controlling the legitimate trade in materials that can be used to make nuclear bombs. The U.S., a member of the NSG, has said it supports such a waiver.

India also still needs to work out safeguard agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for a special new facility that will be built to reprocess fuel from the U.S.

A key element of the agreement is that no U.S. fuel will be used in Indian's military nuclear weapons programs.

The agreement also has to be passed by the legislatures in both countries.

Despite those hurdles, there is jubilation here about the agreement. Even opposition politicians are praising it. The Hindustan Times newspaper calls it "audacious."

The U.S.-India Business Council predicts the deal will generate $150 billion in new trade between the two countries, as India expands its nuclear energy infrastructure over the next several decades


CNN
Non-proliferation experts have said the United States' willingness to allow India to reprocess nuclear fuel it provides to New Delhi is inconsistent with its drive in the international community to stop Iran from doing so. Unlike New Delhi, Tehran is a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Until now the United States has allowed only key allies like the European Union and Japan to reprocess U.S.-originated fuel on their own soil.

But Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nick Burns told reporters Friday that the agreement "sends an important message to nuclear outlaw regimes, such as Iran."

"It sends a message that if you behave responsibly in regards to nonproliferation, and you play by the rules, you will not penalized, but will be invited to participate more fully in international nuclear trade," he said.

Burns said the United States sees India's civil nuclear program as a special case and doesn't envision entering into an agreement with any other states.

"I can assure you that the United State is not going to suggest a similar deal with any other country in the world. We have always felt of India as an exception," Burns said. "We've made the argument that India has not proliferated its nuclear technology. That India, in effect, outside the system, has played by the rules and the system would be strengthened by bringing it in.

"But we are not anticipating in any way, shape or form a similar deal for any other country."

Works of art from the Aga Khan's collection on show in London

Islamic art
For your edification and delight

Jul 26th 2007
The Economist



“THE supposed ‘clash of cultures' is in reality nothing more than a manifestation of mutual ignorance,” writes the Aga Khan, spiritual leader of the world's 15m Ismaili Muslims, in his introduction to “Spirit & Life: Masterpieces of Islamic Art from the Aga Khan Museum Collection”. Be reassured: the exhibition, at the Ismaili Centre in London until August 31st, is no judgment-paralysing blockbuster. It is small but with big ambitions, both to educate and to delight. With some 160 objects and works of art, from a still growing collection already six times that size, the show sets out to illustrate 1,000 years of Islamic artistic and scientific accomplishments in countries from China to Spain. Inevitably, it is just a taster show. But it's a honey of a primer, by turns beautiful, eye-opening, mysterious and puzzling.


The material is organised into two broad areas: “The Word of God” and “The Power of the Sovereign”. Among the items in the first category are more than a dozen Koran folios, all with exceptional calligraphy. Even so, a page from the North African “Blue Koran” (early 10th century) stands out from the rest: few Korans were written on coloured vellum and this is the only known example dyed indigo blue. The Aga Khan writes that “masterpieces are like the ecstasy of the mystic...a stirring of the soul.” The Blue Koran, its gold Kufic script—simultaneously compacted and stretched horizontally—performing a tightly sprung, lyrical dance across a sea of inky blue, is such a masterpiece.

There are many more modest objects in the exhibition. A charming 20th-century, white felt Turkish dervish's cap is decorated with artful geometrical black embroidery spelling out a call to prayer. Produced in large numbers, it illustrates that religious texts are not confined to the page. Similarly, several wood beams are carved with phrases from the Koran. There are tankards, daggers, earrings, coins, writing implements and graceful wooden musical instruments, some with intricate bone inlay (one of the Aga Khan's many international projects seeks to preserve and promote Central Asian music).

An Iranian 16th-century brass boat-shaped vessel (historically used for wine) with dragon-head spouts at either end is, in fact, a dervish's begging bowl. But why, or how, could a wandering holy man, dressed in not much more than a loin cloth, travel with such an elaborate receptacle for hand-outs? The catalogue has fine introductory essays but falls down when it comes to the detailed entries.

An incense burner some 1,000 years old

Miniature painting is probably the Islamic art best known to Westerners. Several in the exhibition illustrate fables; others are portraits of rulers, hunting scenes being popular. The finest and most famous is a page, densely populated with elephants, horses, hunters and princesses, from the 16th-century illuminated Persian manuscript known as the Houghton Shahnama, or Book of Kings. In 1959 Arthur A. Houghton, an American collector, bought the entire manuscript with its 258 illuminations but then broke it up, selling some leaves, giving away others. In 1994 his heirs and the Iranian government agreed to a swap: in exchange for 118 miniatures, the heirs got a nude by Willem de Kooning. Probably each side felt it had got the better deal.

In 2010 the Aga Khan's museum in Toronto will be finished. Until then “Spirit & Life” will travel to Paris, Lisbon, Bonn and, in 2009, the United States. Toronto, like London, already has an Ismaili social, cultural and religious centre built by the Aga Khan. Yet it was not his first choice for the museum. Twice the Aga Khan tried to acquire sites near the Thames in central London. In 2002 and again the following year, he was defeated, his bids eventually turned down. There was little publicity about his project and no political leader backed it. The Aga Khan chose Toronto instead. London's loss, however much deserved, is a tragically missed opportunity.

The Gandhis' girl

Jul 26th 2007 | DELHI
The Economist
The election of India's president is a modest boost to the government

AP

Victor, not consensus-builder

NOT even women's-rights activists celebrated loudly on July 25th when Pratibha Patil was sworn in as India's first female president. Her election—by a two-thirds majority of a college of national and state assembly members—was unusually fractious. India's head of state, a largely ceremonial post, tends to be the consensus choice of the main political parties. But Mrs Patil was nominated by the government, a coalition dominated by the Congress party, and opposed by the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP considered Mrs Patil, 72, a stooge of the Gandhi family, Congress's hereditary chiefs. Worse, in the run-up to the election, the former Congress politician was implicated in rather a lot of scandals. It is alleged, for example, that she used her influence to help a brother evade investigation over a political murder. On the campaign trail—when not being photographed girlishly hand-in-hand with Sonia Gandhi, the leader of Congress—Mrs Patil did herself no favours. She told a gathering of Muslim women that their habit of wearing the veil was an Indian custom, adopted in the 16th century as a defence against Muslim invaders. She later retracted the comment.

At least at first, Mrs Patil is likely to suffer by comparison with her predecessor, Abdul Kalam. Mr Kalam, a former government scientist with a foppish fringe, was unusually popular, mainly because he was not a politician. Mrs Patil could never claim that, though her probable loyalty to her Congress sponsors is unlikely to matter much until after the next election, due by May 2009. If, as is likely, the vote produces a hung parliament, Mrs Patil would have to decide which party should have first dibs at forming a government. In an even contest with the BJP, it would be remarkable if Congress did not receive a call.

That Mrs Gandhi felt obliged to propose such a partisan candidate suggested a certain lack of confidence in her party's prospects. After all, she had already seen three other possible candidates vetoed by Congress's coalition and parliamentary allies. Mrs Patil's thumping victory was therefore a welcome boost for the government. Indeed, all things considered, she won support from a surprising number of the opposition. Shiv Sena, a Hindu extremist outfit and staunch BJP ally, backed Mrs Patil because both hail from Maharashtra. A so-called “third front” of regional and caste-based parties may splinter after some of its members backed Mrs Patil.


There may be more suffering ahead for Congress's opponents. This week five members of Gujarat's BJP government were expelled from the party for having voted for Mrs Patil. With an election due later this year in Gujarat—an important state for the BJP—the party urgently needs to quell such dissent. Yet it is in poor shape, riven by two feuding leaders, Rajnath Singh and L.K. Advani, and a crisis over the party's bigoted ideology.

The government feels emboldened. Some pundits have dared to suggest it may even try launching a few reforms. It almost certainly will not. The few liberal measures the ruling coalition has attempted have mostly been compromised or scuppered by populist opposition, especially from the Communist parties who support it in Parliament. A row over the government's attempts to acquire land forcibly for industrial use, for example, typifies the ambivalence many Indians feel towards economic development. As the general election looms, and while economic growth, predicted at over 8% this year, remains strong, the government will not risk provoking needless opposition.

On July 20th, meanwhile, Indian and American diplomats concluded the details of another putative scheme the Communists oppose: a nuclear co-operation agreement between the two countries, which would provide India with nuclear fuel in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear-weapons programme. The draft agreement is expected to be debated in India's Parliament next month. It is likely to be a much tougher sell than Mrs Patil.

July 27, 2007

New Study Says Venezuelan Economy to Continue to Boom

Thursday, Jul 26, 2007
By: Venezuelanalysis.com



Washington, DC: A new paper from the Center for Economic and Policy Research looks at the Venezuelan economy during the last eight years and finds that it does not fit the mold of an "oil boom headed for a bust," as is commonly believed.

"There's no obvious end in sight for Venezuela's current economic expansion," said economist Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research and co-author of the paper “The Venezuelan Economy in the Chávez Years.”

The paper notes that Venezuela's economy was wracked by political instability for the first four years of President Hugo Chávez's tenure, but has grown steadily and rapidly over the last four years, after political stability returned to the country following the oil strike of December 2002 to February 2003.

Since the bottom of that downturn in the first quarter of 2003, Venezuela's real GDP has grown by 76 percent.

Moreover, the private sector is still a larger share of the economy than it was before President Chávez took office.

In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, social spending per person has increased by 170 percent during the period 1998-2006. But this does not include the state oil company PDVSA’s social spending, which was 7.3 percent of GDP in 2006. With this included, social spending was at least 314 percent more in 2006 than in 1998 (in terms of real social spending per person). This has brought about significant gains for the poor in health care, subsidized food, and access to education, some of which are detailed in the paper.

The official poverty rate, which measures only cash income and does not include such advances as increased access to health care and education, has dropped by 31 percent from 1998 to the end of 2006 – from 43.9 percent of households to 30.6 percent. Measured unemployment has dropped from 15 percent in June 1999 to 8.3 percent in June 2007.

The authors also look at fiscal, monetary, exchange rate and other government policies, as well as investment and the sustainability of the expansion. They note that the government faces significant challenges over the intermediate run in controlling inflation and bring Venezuela's currency to a more competitive level. However, the country's declining public debt (as a percentage of GDP), large current account surplus, and the accumulation of reserves have given the government considerable insurance against a decline in oil prices. This favorable macroeconomic situation has also left the government with much flexibility in dealing with inflation and the related imbalance in the exchange rate. The authors therefore conclude that – contrary to popular belief -- there is no imminent threat to the country's current economic expansion.

Indo-US Nuclear Agreement : Indian Govt reasoning and Way out as per Arun Shourie

This excerpt is from an article by Dr.Arun Shourie last year

Arun Shourie


http://www.indianexpress.com/story/19185._.html

The sequence of the government’s reasoning has been:

• We need huge quantities of energy.

• Nuclear energy has to supply 35,000 megawatts of what we need — against the 3,500 megawatts it supplies today.

• While we have the requisite reserves of natural uranium, we are not able to get enough of it out of the ground for the reactors.

• Hence, the operating/plant-load factors of all the reactors have been falling since 2000. Therefore, we need imported uranium.

• Therefore, we need this agreement.

• Therefore, we have to accept the conditions that go with this agreement.

Now, it is true that with the quantities of uranium that we are currently mining and milling, we cannot pursue both — that order of power generation as well as our weapons programme — simultaneously. If for electricity one uses X amount of uranium, I was instructed, for weapons, one needs 7X. That is why we have had to come to two decisions:

• Limit the weapons programme.

• Go in for imported uranium fuel — whatever the conditions attached to securing it.

The way out is six-fold

First, as far as nuclear reactors are concerned, look to them principally for our weapons programme, not for electricity — for we do have other ways of securing electricity, but we do not have other routes to nuclear weapons.

Second, for energy look to other clean sources. For instance, clean coal; methane through coal; most important, hydroelectric power. I remember studies that have been done about the enormous potential for the latter in just the Northeast. The 5-6 stage Dihang-Subhansiri project itself has the capacity to generate 22,000 megawatts. NHPC is now executing one part of it, and this alone will generate close to 2,000 megawatts. I remember how for a decade the Dibang project had been languishing with the Brahmaputra Board; that board was almost comatose, in any event it did not have in its charter the authority to raise money for projects; we strove to get it transferred to NHPC; NHPC is now executing the project; even this project has the capacity to generate 3,800 megawatts... This is the route to energy self-sufficiency, to energy security. We have the technology. We can fabricate the turbines and ancillary equipment right here. The projects will generate jobs in the numbers that we need.

Third, intensify uranium mining and milling. A myth has been spread by interested parties as well as by those who have not been able to get the irritants out of the way, that we do not have adequate natural uranium. A good corrective to such propaganda is an excellent study done by none other than Ashley Tellis, one of the architects of this very nuclear deal, and one of its most persuasive advocates.

Entitled Atoms for War? it shows that we have much more than enough of uranium. (The study can be downloaded from www.carnegieendowment.org/publications). Tellis notes that India is widely acknowledged to have reserves of 78,000 metric tons of uranium — some estimates put the figure higher. Using the most optimistic plant-load factors, he calculates that all the reactors currently in operation as well as those that are under construction and the weapons programme over the entire lifetime of these plants will require 14,640 to 14,790 metric tons of uranium. He shows, next, that if the eight reactors that India has declared it will use for military purposes were to allocate a quarter of their cores for the production of weapons-grade material, the total amount of natural uranium that would be needed to run these facilities for the remaining duration of their lives would be between 19,965 to 29,124 tons. Finally, the fuel required to run over their entire life cycle the two research reactors that are used for producing weapons-grade plutonium will be 938 to 1,088 tons. The two last steps would yield India 12,135 to 13,370 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium. This would be sufficient to increase our arsenal by 2,023 to 2,228 nuclear weapons. The total uranium required to run over their entire lifetime all these facilities, would thus use up just a third to one-half of the uranium deposits that are already known to exist.

Tellis writes that the present shortage of uranium is “a temporary aberration”, caused by impediments, removing which is within our capacity. Getting the courts, tribal leaders, activists to see reason. Firming up our land acquisition procedures. These are the sort of steps that are required. Is it not idiotic that we should close all options for the future; that we should mortgage our country’s security just because we cannot get around these self-created problems? Instead of going down on our knees for imported uranium, we should:

• Invest the amounts that are required for increased uranium mining and milling

• Solve land acquisition problems.

Fourth, we should spur DAE and AEA to be more focused. We should make them more accountable: if peer reviews are the way to spur them, government should institute such reviews.

Fifth, we must redouble research on the breeder programme. The key here is to have the reactors breed in a reasonable time — if the fuel is doubled in, say, five years, we can set up the second reactor in five years and we will have the fuel it needs; but if this doubling is going to take 30 years, we will have the fuel we need for it only 30 years from now. Kalpakkam notwithstanding, much work remains to be done. Once it is done, however, our reactors will be generating more fuel than they will be using, and we will be free of dependence altogether. That will be the time for looking to nuclear plants as a substantial source of electricity.

Finally, we are always being told that we have the largest reserves of thorium in the world. But it isn’t at all clear how far we are from the technologies that are needed for exploiting them. We need a new kind of robotics. We need automation that can withstand the enormously high temperatures that materials will attain.

In a word, instead of going on running after the Americans for reactors and fuel, these are the routes the government should set the country on.

(Concluded)

Steal Public Funds, Go to Jail - Yar'Adua Tells Ministers

Daily Trust (Abuja)
NEWS
27 July 2007
Posted to the web 27 July 2007

By Abdulfattah Olajide


Thirty nine new ministers were sworn-in in Abuja yesterday with a warning from President Umaru Yar'Adua that anyone caught stealing public funds would be sent to jail. "As an Administration, we have absolute zero-tolerance for corruption in all its ramifications. We must never abuse public trust either through misappropriation, misapplication, or outright stealing of public funds. Anyone who does so will have the full weight of the law to reckon with", Yar'Adua said to the thirty-two men and seven women who became the first ministers of the Yar'Adua administration.

In the new cabinet line up, Yar'Adua himself retained the Energy portfolio, following in the footsteps of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, who held the Petroleum portfolio during most of his eight years in office. Three Ministers of State for Energy were however appointed. Hajiya Fatima Balaraba Ibrahim is minister of state in charge of Power, Mr. Henry Odein Ajumogobia, SAN handles Petroleum, while Mr. Odusina Olatunde Emmanuel is for Gas.

There were few surprises in the key portfolios, as outgoing Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) deputy governor Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman became the Finance minister, while the former Head of Service of the Federation, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Usman bagged the Defence portfolio. The president's trusted aide Dr. Aliyu Modibbo Umar became the Federal Capital Territory Minister, while former Educa-tion Minister Alhaji Abba Sayyadi Ruma was posted to the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources. PDP National Secretary Chief Ojo Maduekwe became the Forei-gn Affairs Minister, as was widely speculated, while the party's National Publicity Secretary, John Ogar Odeh got the Information and Communication Ministry, again confirming earlier reports.

Other ministers include Senator Muhammed Sanusi Daggash, National Planning Commission, Alhaji AbduRahman Hassan Gimba, National Sports Commission, Hajiya Halima Tayo Alao, Environment and Housing, Hajiya Saudatu Usman Bungudu, Women Affairs, and Michael Kaase Aondoakaa, SAN, Attorney General and Justice Minister. (See full list in the accompanying table).

Emphasising his administration's anti-corruption stance, President Yar'Adua challenged the ministers to provide leadership with exemplary conduct and uphold their oaths of office. "It is therefore imperative that we all conduct ourselves with the highest degree of integrity and in total and absolute compliance with the rule of law. This Administration will not tolerate any deviation from, or disrespect for law and order, established rules, regulations and procedures", he said.

He reminded the ministers that they were given the opportunity to serve not because they are better than other Nigerians but because Providence has thrusted the responsibility of guiding the nation's ship of state on them. He therefore enjoined them to use the "once-in-a-lifetime chance" to do their utmost for the good of Nigeria. "We must pray for God's guidance to enable us function as Servant-Leaders and not Ruling-elites", he said.

The president said he would encourage the exercise of initiative, effective decision making, and maximal self-application, assuring the ministers of his full confidence and support as long as they work honestly and diligently.

"You have been chosen based on your track records of professional excellence, loyalty, dedication, courage, and faith in Nigeria. Mine is to provide the enabling environment for you to perform at your utmost. Your nomination and subsequent confirmation by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is clear testimony to our collective confidence in your capacities and capabilities to function effectively at the highest level of governance in our country" he stated.

He added : "Our nation is today in the process of transition and transformation as we endeavour to consolidate our democratic culture and strive for enduring peace, security, and unqualified respect for the rule of law. We remain committed to engendering the sustained growth of our national economy in view of our avowed objective of making our nation one of the world's twenty largest economies by year 2020."

"Let no one be in doubt: the comprehensive reform process is on course and we shall stay the course until we reach the ultimate goal of a strong, secure, peaceful, progressive and prosperous nation. Our seven-point agenda, which you will all be expected to drive faithfully, is a logical practical extension of the reform process. I am confident that success is assured if we all commit to work for our nation's growth and development honestly, sincerely, diligently, and with the absolute fear of God."

He also said, "We have a profound responsibility to meet the legitimate aspirations of the people of this country. This is why you must see your appointments as both an opportunity to serve at the highest possible level, and a challenge to be in the vanguard of our dear nation's restoration. It is not an opportunity for self-aggrandizement or the pursuit of narrow interests. Our Fatherland offers us the opportunity to provide selfless service today - an opportunity which we must maximize and cherish. We may not have the same opportunity tomorrow to leave a legacy for posterity to remember us by."

NIGERIA : EFCC Has No Power to Prosecute Corrupt ex-Governors - SANs

Vanguard (Lagos)
NEWS
27 July 2007
Posted to the web 27 July 2007

By Ise-Oluwa Ige


Before President Olusegun Obasanjo completed his tenure of office on May 29, this year, the most vociferous anti-graft agency established by his regime--the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), vowed to hunt down, a total 33 state outgoing governors in the law courts. The Chairman of the Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu who disclosed that prima facie case of corruption had been established against the governors said that none of them would escape justice.

He had said that the only obstacle militating against their prosecution was the constitutional immunity enjoyed by them then. Although many a Nigerians did not like the modus operandi of the anti-graft agency, demystifying corrupt governors by way of arrest, detention and prosecution by the agency, was a welcome development. On the eve of the hand over date, many had thought that not less than 20 governors would be arrested by men of the commission, preparatory to their arraignment between May 29 and 30, 2007.

But contrary to the commission's ranting, the governors who were allegedly indicted by it handed over powers to their successors in atmosphere bereft of any rancour and nothing happened to them. Although few of the governors like Dr Orji Uzor Kalu jetted out of the country before the May 29 hand over date, most of the governors remained in the country but unfortunately, EFCC refused to kick. Because Ribadu was not forthcoming on why his commission was not acting based on its promise, a lot of Nigerians came up with different insinuations. It was the belief in some quarters that the newly installed President Musa Yar'Adua called Ribadu into his office and asked him to stay action on the prosecution of the alleged ex-governors pending when his government would overcome legitimacy problem it was battling with. It was even rumoured that the Presidency had called the leaderships of both the ICPC and EFCC on how to go about prosecution of alleged corrupt governors.

The conclusion purportedly reached after the meeting was that the case files of the affected corrupt outgone governors be transferred to ICPC for a radical review and possible prosecution while EFCC was purportedly charged to limit itself to prosecution of economic and financial crimes. Some Nigerians even insinuated that because of the proposed Government of National Unity, none of the alleged corrupt ex-governors would be prosecuted. Although the rumours making the rounds wondered why EFCC was not kicking for different reasons, one fact was however common to all the insinuations which was that there would be no prosecution of any ex-governor allegedly found guilty of corruption by EFCC for now.

Which was why it came as a surprise when information filtered into various newsrooms of media houses, a couple of weeks back, that EFCC had sent a letter of invitation to about 15 governors for a chat. Of course, some governors honoured the invitation while others did not. Then, came the arrest of two ex-governors, Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia state who was deeply involved in the proposed Government of National Unity and Alhaji Saminu Turaki of Jigawa state. Also arrested were former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Chibi Dariye, his Taraba counterpart, Reverend Jolly Tevoru Nyame and former Governor of Enugu state, Dr Chimaroke Nnamani. Within 48 hours after arrest, the legal department of EFCC had drawn up a multiple count charge of official corruption, stealing, money laundering, criminal diversion of monies and misappropriation of public funds against each of the detained ex-governors based on the facts available.

The commission also hired a Lagos based private legal practitioner, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, to handle the cases in court alongside some of its lawyers. The offences against some of the governors were split into two on the account of court's jurisdiction to handle them. For instance, offences relating to money laundering were taken before the Abuja and Lagos divisions of the Federal high court while those relating to brazen stealing were filed before the Abuja high court. On this account, Dariye was arraigned before both the Abuja Federal high court and the high court of the Federal Capital Territory sitting in Gudu while others were facing trial before only one court each. With the exception of Nnamani, all others, at Wednesday, this week, had been arraigned.

Orji Kalu is facing a 107 count charge; Dariye is to battle with a 14 count charge, Nyame is faced with a 41 count charge while Turaki has 32 counts to answer. Although all the accused ex-governors are presently battling for their bail, full blown trial is yet to commence in their cases. Preparatory to the trial proper however, lawyers including members of the inner bar, have started accusing EFCC of being selective and restrictive in its war against corruption even as some of them challenged its jurisdiction to prosecute corruption related offences. Leading this position are former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief Oluwole Olanipekun (SAN) and a respected member of both the inner and Abuja bar, Chief Chris Uche (SAN). According to them, only the ICPC has the statutory mandate to prosecute most of the offences preferred against the ex-governors.

They wondered why ICPC had even gone into slumber while EFCC is arrogating to itself the mandate that it did not have. Besides, the two respected lawyers though commended EFCC for changing its modus operandi since President Obasanjo's exit from direct governance, they however expressed fear that most of the charges pending against the ex-governors might collapse on the account that they were filed in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when there was no sitting attorney general authorizing such charges. It is worse, said Olanipekun (SAN), with the hiring of a private counsel, Mr Rotimi Jacobs, who has no fiat from the Attorney-General of the Federation to prosecute such cases.

"Let me start by saying that we are mixing a lot of things up in this country. Investigation of allegations of corruption is basically the duty, the function and jurisdiction of ICPC. "EFCC is in charge of financial crimes like money laundering not corruption simplicita. "The legislation cannot invest jurisdiction on two bodies, two institutions simultaneously, otherwise the law becomes a mockery. "And we have to remind ourselves that ICPC came before EFCC and the Supreme Court has said in the case of Attorney General of Ondo State and Attorney-General of the Federation that the jurisdiction vested in ICPC under the ICPC Act is proper. So I believe that most of these cases are within the jurisdiction of the ICPC," he said, adding: "Both EFCC and ICPC are however two federal institutions. I believe that the new attorney-general will look into it. I believe that the mandate to inquire into allegations of corruption is vested in the ICPC.

But again, Olanipekun said there is a problem in the charges filed. He said that while it is proper to file a charge in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he said there must be a sitting attorney-general to authourise it "which both of us know that we do not have one for now". "Filing a charge in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) implies that there is a sitting attorney-general. This is because it is only the attorney-general of the federation that can authourise it. "If it is filed by the Ministry of Justice, then it is proper but if it is filed in the name of the Federal Republic of Nigeria , it is only the Attorney-General that can authourise it. Conceding however to the fact that the defects could be corrected, he however concluded that he has a firm belief that only the ICPC has the statutory mandate to prosecute offences touching on official corruption and not EFCC.

Chief Chris Uche (SAN) was on all fours with Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) on this view. He said that EFCC, by its present action, was only embarking on a voyage of futility. But in what looked like a slant to the position above, an Abuja based lawyer, Mr Orji Orizu-Nwafor is arguing that EFCC's battle against corruption is selective to the extent that only ex-governors from the South East and the North were being prosecuted. Although a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Chief O C J Okocha (SAN) and the former Head of State, Maj.-Gen Muhammadu Buhari are of the view that it is very early to say that EFCC's prosecution is selective, Orji Orizu-Nwafor would not agree with them. According to him, "why is it that all those governors from the South South who funded the election of Yar'Adua are not being touched when EFCC had earlier pronounced that prima facie case has been established against them."

He said that he was particularly bothered that no South-West governor from the geo-political zone of President Olusegun Obasanjo is in the net of EFCC or ICPC up till now, asking rhetorically, "or does it mean that they are all saints?" He said that while he admitted that some Northern governors were among those being prosecuted, he said he was concerned that there was no Fulanis among those on trial. But Chief Olanipekun (SAN) who incidentally is the leading counsel to President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja said that though he must commend EFCC from changing its barbaric modus operandi since Yar'Adua came in, he said he not only shared Orizu's view that the anti-graft agency's war against corruption was selective but that it was too restrictive.

To him, many governors, some of who are being hounded and prosecuted, did not manage as much resources as some ex-ministers and Presidency officials. He said he wondered why nothing is being said of all the past ministers who also exited office with President Obasanjo. His exact words: "Let's leave the issue of jurisdiction alone. Another area of concern is: why is the EFCC focusing on governors alone? "There were many ministers who are richer than the ex-governors, who controlled fatter budgets than governors. It is a bit ridiculous. That is why somebody like me would say that this move against the ex-governors is not only selective but also restrictive.

"If you want to probe a governor of a state like Ekiti, I would say that the Ekiti state governor does not control a fraction of the budget controlled by some ministers. So, why declaring the Governor of Ekiti state wanted when all the ministers are there and no one is asking them any question. "No governor in the whole of the country controls a fraction of what NNPC Group Managing Director controls. So what are we talking? Are we not deceiving ourselves? What about the former Senate President? "As a lawyer, I do not say that he is corrupt but there were some allegations against him? Why can't the allegations be investigated? If there is no case against him, let the public know. "But to say that the allegation should not be investigated, I will say that they are not only being selective in their investigation but also restrictive. "And that is not the essence of the law, the ICPC Act and the EFCC Act. Nobody is above the law. So let us hope that they will extend their tentacle to all groups of people we have mentioned here. They should spread the dragnet.

"But having said that, I want to say that EFCC has changed since the inception of this Yar'Adua's government. It has changed its style of operation; its modus operandi in the sense that those arrested are now treated more decently unlike before and that means that they are innocent until their guilt is proved. "We should however stop prosecution and persecution of people on the pages of newspapers and on electronic media. It is threat to the rule of law as well. It is not good. Because some of these charges at the end of the day may be discovered to be frivolous.

"But all said and done, there is a clear change from what has been operating now since 29th of May. I, as a lawyer, commend the change and I will still say that we still have some room for improvement.