Content about International

August 31, 2014

August 31, 2014
Contact: Matthew Gardner
(877) 726-0412
public.relations@iqou-moa.org

NEW YORK, NY -- A delegation of American Muslims representing the International Quranic Open University has visited the United Nations in response to media reports of imminent danger and lawless revolution being instigated by Tahir ul Qadri, a Canadian citizen, in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The group is petitioning that the Secretary General Ban Ki Moon address the precarious situation of thousands of women and children who have been suffering in the elements since August 14, without proper accommodations, before the violent confrontation that Qadri is threatening endangers the lives of these innocents who have been deceived and brainwashed into engaging in a suicidal storming of the Parliament building.

Tahir ul Qadri is using the well-known tactics of the ‘Mullah mafia’, which is very active in Pakistan. Their strategy is to bring innocent women and children in the forefront of
potentially violent situations hoping that when their lives are sacrificed it will garner international sympathies and enable the Mullahs to achieve their objectives. This was
done in Islamabad at the Red Masjid in 2007, when the Mullahs intentionally allowed their students to become gun fodder for the army’s attack. That resulted in the current unending insurgency and violent uprising of Taliban in Pakistan. Similarly, it was unnecessary for the female staff of Tahir ul Qadri’s school to guard the premises and fight with the police, resulting in deaths, which are being used to register a case against the government. The individuals who have joined Qadri’s procession are mainly the staff and students of his private university along with their children. He is endangering their lives hoping that the imminent carnage will bring life to his cause. In reality, it will usher in an unending wave of bloodshed and civil strife throughout Pakistan. The government has become helpless and powerless to save those innocent lives from perishing under the harsh open skies, lack of food and shelter and finally death, when they are ordered to  attack the parliament house. This must be stopped immediately.

The American Muslim scholars of Al Azhar University have passed a fatwa exposing the fact that Mr. Qadri is a fraud. Dr. Jemille Smith, MD, well-known psychiatric practitioner has stated,  “ I have been observing him and watching his speeches and judging from his behavior and talks, it is evident that he suffers from paranoia and delusions of grandeur. He should immediately be committed to a mental institute, and the lives of thousands of innocent people be saved before he uses them as human shields.” The Staff and Students of the International Quranic Open University at Islamberg, New York demand that the UN steps in to save innocent lives before it is too late.”

The United Nations is hereby requested to take immediate action to rescue the thousands of helpless women and children of Pakistan who have been misguided, deceived and brainwashed with incendiary political rhetoric by ordering Tahir ul Qadri to desist from his inflammatory threats of a bloody revolution.

International Quranic Open University
Department of Human Rights

November 16, 2013

Ecuador made an undisclosed settlement with Colombia in a case brought before the International Court of Justice for damages Colombia caused by the spraying of herbicides used to kill coca plants cultivated along the border of the two countries. The coca plants are used to  produce the illegal drug cocaine. The secrecy surrounding the friendly settlement  has angered those affected by the fumigation.

The settlement originally stipulated that Colombia was to pay $15m in compensation, to be invested in areas in Ecuador affected by the aerial spraying of coca crops with the glyphosate herbicide near the country’s border. But how and when the investments will be made has not yet been clarified.

The Colombian government also pledged not to carry out aerial spraying over the next year within 10km of the border with Ecuador, between the southwest Colombian provinces of Putumayo and Nariño and the northern Ecuadorian provinces of Sucumbíos, Carchi and Esmeraldas.

But that 10-km strip could be narrowed to 5 and eventually 2km within two years, according to the conditions explained in Appendix 1 of the settlement agreement.

Exclusion zone

The appendix states that after the first year, once the scientific analyses are studied, the binational technical group will assess whether Ecuadorean territory was affected by the spraying. If it was not, the exclusion zone will be reduced to 5km wide for one year, and after that, to 2km.

That is the main concern of peasant farmers who say their health, crops and livestock have been affected by glyphosate spraying.

 

Reducing the width of the exclusion zone to 2km "is unfair, but the agreement has already been signed, and since it was between governments, we were left high and dry; but we will continue the struggle," Daniel Alarcón, the head of the Federation of Peasant Organizations in the Ecuadorian Border Zone of Sucumbios (FORCCOFES), said.

The settlement does not provide a real solution because "they will continue spraying near us," he said.

"It will affect us - we hope only minimally - but if a single drop of glyphosate falls we will protest because we are prepared to carry this through to the end, to get reparations for the damage caused."

Alarcón was referring to the health problems and deterioration in the quality of life that tens of thousands of people have suffered as a result of Colombia’s spraying near the Ecuadorean border between 2000 and 2007 with the aim of eradicating coca crops.

According to a survey conducted by Forccofes, some 15,000 families live in the border area in question, and the 10,000 families living along the San Miguel river have been affected the most by the spraying.

Cancer On the Rise

"The effects are still being felt; the land has not returned to normal production levels," said Alarcón, who lives in 5 de Agosto, a community in the border district of General Farfán. "Cancer was almost unheard of here before, and now people are continuously dying of cancer because of the glyphosate, which has contaminated the water sources."

The agreement between the two countries refers to the chemical composition of the herbicide that figures in the environmental management plan authorized by Colombia’s environment ministry in Resolution 1054, from 2003.

According to the settlement, the mixture - which according to the government is used throughout the national territory - contains 44 percent glyphosate, one percent Cosmo Flux, and 55 percent water.

But the label for the Monsanto corporation’s Roundup glyphosate herbicide recommends a concentration of 1.6 to 7.7 percent glyphosate, with an absolute upper limit of 29 percent.

There are no long term studies on the impact of Cosmo Flux on the environment or on humans.

An econometric study carried out this year by two professors at the University of the Andes in Bogotá, on the health effects of aerial spraying, found that it had "a very significant" impact in terms of the likelihood of miscarriage. It also found a correlation between aerial spraying and skin problems.

Uruguayan political analyst Laura Gil, who disseminated the terms of the settlement in Colombia on October 1, said that it was "unacceptable for Ecuadorians to receive more [safety] guarantees than Colombians."

Secret negotiations

She added, however, that "...agreements like this strengthen relations. It’s better to try to settle things through negotiations, rather than through a legal sentence, even though the International Court of Justice is a mechanism for the peaceful settlement of conflicts.

"But it is not acceptable for it to be done through secret diplomatic negotiations," she added, pointing out that the content of the binational agreement did not go through the Colombian Congress.

"It’s obvious why not: because the legislators would demand a halt to the spraying."

Amira Armenta, an expert with the Transnational Institute’s Drugs and Democracy program, wrote that the settlement would not really change anything because Colombia would continue spraying in border provinces.

According to the latest study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Nariño and Putumayo are the provinces with the highest density of coca cultivation - 22 percent and 13 percent, respectively, of the country’s total coca cultivation in late 2012.

"In the last decade, Nariño has suffered from the highest levels of spraying in the country, and in spite of that it continues to boast the title of biggest producer," Armenta writes.

The settlement also states that before spraying in a border area, the Colombian government will give the Ecuadorean government 10 days notice, indicating the exact locations and dates of the fumigation.

"This is much more than what could have been achieved in a legal ruling, because it is very difficult for an international court to require a country to assume a commitment of this nature since the country can claim that it affects its sovereignty," Ecuador’s foreign minister, Ricardo Patiño, said about the agreement. "But it is possible to achieve when it is a friendly settlement."

Ecuador and Colombia also agreed to sign a special expedited protocol for addressing complaints from Ecuadorian citizens in border areas. But the protocol has not yet been enacted.

November 16, 2013

Ankara - Symbolizing the emerging trend of rejuvenation of the letter and spirit of Islam in practice, four Turkish Members of Parliament, who happen to be Muslim ladies, broke a decades-old veil ban by wearing their headscarves to work.

The ladies’ entrance into Turkey's parliament chambers in Ankara began their term in office, marking an end to the early 1920s ban on the Muslim symbol of female modesty imposed in the early days of the Turkish Republic, when secularist dictator Kemal Ataturk sought to transform Turkey into a progressive and prosperous nation by removing religious practice and effects from outward public expression.

The symbolic action highlights an emerging trend in Turkey where the issue of headscarves remains highly sensitive, as it is viewed by secularists as a sign of political Islam in stark contrast to the republic's strongly secular traditions, reported Agence France Presse (AFP).

The four Members of Parliament (MP)  - Sevde Beyazit Kacar, Gulay Samanci, Nurcan Dalbudak and Gonul Bekin Sahkulubey are members of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) which has [religious] roots and has gained a strong following in this nation of 74 million.

The main secular opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), which had previously said it would contest any parliamentarians seeking to wear headscarves in the chamber, did not officially respond to the move, reported Reuters, mentioning that a few of its members did jeer as the four women entered the assembly, while another wore a T-shirt depicting the face of the Turkish Republic's secular founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who also founded the CHP.

Other fellow members of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) greeted the four female lawmakers with hugs and kisses when they entered the chamber.

November 16, 2013

Germany authorities are ready to deport several US diplomats if the information that they wiretapped on phone calls is confirmed, German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has claimed. “It’s quite clear that if US embassy or other agencies employees are involved in the case, they will be punished. Speaking of diplomats, they will be deported,” Friedrich said in an interview to the ARD,  Allgemeine Rundfunk Deutschland news network in Berlin, Germany. Voice of Russia also reported that Washington still didn’t have answers to many questions Germany had asked the US in relation to the scandal.

The Jurist website stated that  Germany and Brazil have proposed a draft resolution within the UN General Assembly calling for member states to take measures to put an end to "gross invasions of privacy" such as excessive electronic surveillance and data collection. Although the resolution does not specifically indicate any countries, recent events such as allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA)has spied on more than 60 million phone calls made in Spain indicate that the resolution is directed at the US and its various surveillance programs.

According to European media reports, the US NSA eavesdropped on phone calls of 28 EU countries representatives, including Germany, France, Spain, and Italy. American secret services also spied on these countries’ embassies in Washington, the UK Guardian newspaper says. Earlier this month, German Der Spiegel magazine reported that US intelligence had allegedly tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cell phone. The complete outrage of the Germans has manifested in discussions about requesting Edward Snowden to verify the allegations of the German chancellor’s mobile phone surveillance in a Guardian UK news report:

“ The justice minister, Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger, told the Passauer Neue Presse newspaper: "If the allegations build up and lead to an investigation, one could think about calling in Snowden as a witness."

Thomas Oppermann, of the Social Democrats, said: "Snowden's claims appear to be credible, while the US government has blatantly lied to us on this matter. That's why Snowden could be an important witness, also in clearing up the surveillance of the chancellor's mobile."

November 16, 2013

(IP)  Thousands of Paraguayan workers took to the streets in the capital  to protest the approval by legislators, of the bill known as the bill to promote public-private partnerships, originally put forth by President Horacio Cartes. The bill aims to privatize some public services and infrastructure, and angers many in the South American nation.

The demonstrations took place in Asuncion, where protesters blocked roads and highways and carried signs that read “Paraguay is not for sale.”

Critics of the plans include public sector labor unions, farmers and indigenous peoples, who say the bill would lead to mass privatization, layoffs and an invasion of foreign companies.

"We are against the public-private alliance, which is the selling of our dear Paraguay, the little that we are left...after everything that the rich took," said protester Reina Hermosilla.

Former president and senator Fernando Lugo is also a fierce opponent of the bill  and condemns it as an attempt to push through privatization. Under privatization, infrastructure services such as electric, transport and sanitation services as well as roads and tolls would change from state control to private ownership.

The state would use public revenue to finance private business ventures with the proceeds paid to the private investors.“With the law everyone will pay the price and just a select few will get richer,” wrote Lugo on Twitter.

The country’s two legislative chambers have already approved the bill; however, debates are now being held on whether to grant President Cartes the power to make a final decision. The Paraguayan government is facing a financial crisis as the country is suffering from the biggest deficit in its history and is also one of the poorest countries in South America with 39% of the population living in poverty.  

Cartes was sworn in as president on August 15, and had vowed to wage war on poverty, and generate job opportunities.He is described as a multi billion dollar tobacco magnate, who made his fortune in  a myriad of business interests including banking and cigarette imports to the U.S., before taking office. Before his election, he had come under suspicion for drug trafficking and money laundering  from the  U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, according to a 2010 U.S. diplomatic cable released by Wikileaks.

November 16, 2013

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland gave the warning recently, adding that there would be serious repercussions for the UN body, AFP reported. “We’ve made the point that there are very clear red lines in US legislation,” Nuland said.

US legislation requires that funds to any UN body which recognizes Palestine as a full UN member be cut off.

Overwhelming support for Palestine’s membership on the bid to join the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization was a huge boost for their campaign for international recognition of an independent state, and a blow to Israel and the US, who had opposed the move, as reported by  the UK Guardian.  Amid loud cheers from delegates from Paris, members voted 107 to 14 to accept Palestine as a full member state, with 52 countries abstaining - including the UK. The US currently provides 22 percent of the UNESCO budget.

UNESCO’s executive committee on October 5 overwhelmingly voted to approve the Palestinian membership bid at the UN. The decision still needs the approval of the general assembly of the organization.

On September 23, acting Palestinian Authority (PA) Chief Mahmoud Abbas presented UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon with the statehood proposal during the UN General Assembly’s annual session in New York, based on the pre-1967 borders.

The US has repeatedly threatened to veto the bid at the UN Security Council. Washington, however, does not have a veto power at the UNESCO.

More than 100 countries have so far officially recognized Palestine as a state based on the 1967 borders, the boundaries that existed before Israel captured and annexed East al-Quds (Jerusalem), the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

November 12, 2013

With  October 2013 marking 51 years since the Cuban missile crisis, the UN General Assembly again pronounced itself overwhelmingly against the US embargo on Cuba.  In the General Assembly, 188 countries voted to condemn the US-imposed sanctions.

“The US policy against Cuba is suffering from an absolute international isolation and discredit and lacks every ethical or legal ground,” Cuba’s Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said.

Several international envoys  also strongly denounced Washington’s policy.

China’s Deputy UN Ambassador Wang Min told the General Assembly debate, “The call of the international community is getting louder and louder, demanding that the US government change its policy toward Cuba.”

Meanwhile, Bolivia’s UN Ambassador Sacha Llorenty Solis stated that the embargo is “sullying the history of mankind.”

European countries also oppose the embargo against Cuba since US legislation punishes foreign companies, including the European ones, that trade with Cuba.

Havana and Washington have been at odds since the Cuban revolution.  Fidel Castro led the revolution that  toppled the regime of Fulgencio Batista, the brutal American-backed  dictator who ruled Cuba from 1952-1959. He had strong ties to the American mafia underworld and insured that America’s extensive business interests on the island were protected while he was in power. The US imposed sanction measures against Cuba after Batista was overthrown in 1959 and placed an official embargo against Cuba in 1962.

Parrilla further said that Havana has lost over $1.1 trillion dollars because of the embargo, adding that the blockade has prevented his country from gaining access to vital heart and anti-AIDS medication for children.

Speaking at the General Assembly in 2012, the Cuban foreign minister said that after the 2008 US election, President Barack Obama had promised a new beginning with Cuba, but “the reality of the last four years has been characterized by a persistent tightening of the economic, commercial, and financial blockade.”

November 10, 2013

A judge in Mexico City, Mexico, has recently approved a temporary injunction against the approval of any new genetically modified or GM food permits for experimental or commercial corn plantings.The suspension is to remain in effect until pending lawsuits alleging environmental dangers are resolved. This is a victory for food sovereignty and agricultural integrity. The announcement was made at a press conference in Mexico City, where officials notified the public and press that all GM corn plantings including pilot commercial plantings were to be immediately suspended.

Though not necessarily permanent , the injunction came after years of protest against  transgenic crops, particularly those that threaten the continued cultivation of staple crops like corn.

For Mexico, corn, also known as maize, is a primary food crop for which there are hundreds, if not thousands of heirloom varieties currently being grown. If GM corn varieties are allowed to be cultivated along side them, at any considerable scale, Mexico's entire agricultural heritage could become extinct.

“The decision came after years of lobbying by activist who noted that Mexico, the birthplace of modern day maize and its cultivation in Mexico-knows a little bit about how to create various disease resistant strains of corn, given that Mexicans….have been doing it for millennia, ”writes Gustavo Arellano for the OC weekly.

Despite a moratorium on GM corn cultivation in Mexico that dates back to 1998, many native maize varieties have still tested positive for low levels of modified genes, which proves that Genetically Modified Organisms or GMOs cannot be contained and have a tendency to contaminate other crops. Because of this, a coalition of 53 groups and individuals which includes scientist and human rights groups, filed a lawsuit last year to suspend all trials of GM corn and other experiments that could be causing contamination.

Agreeing with their argument, a Mexican judge ruled that all field trials of GM corn in Mexico must  end, citing specific imminent environmental risk.

A press release recently issued by the non-governmental organization, La Copenacha, affirms this decision, noting that Mexican law requires Justices to protect the interest of the people rather than the interest  of big business, which in this case means multinational chemical companies like Monsanto.

                Mexico will still import GMO corn, despite suspension

The  ruling is timely, as many areas of Mexico have been pressured in recent years to accept not only field trials of GM corn, but also commercial plantings, despite their risk to native corn varieties. Unfortunately, the ruling does not go far enough, say experts, as Mexico will continue to import GM corn from other countries like the U.S.- roughly one third of the corn Mexico consumes is imported.

“The ruling has understandably caused joy across Mexico and the entire anti - GMO world, but its also not as far reaching as you think,” added Arellano. “The judge in question didn't ban the import of GMO corn into Mexico and in this globalized society, Mexicans are just as likely to eat corn from Minnesota as they are [to eat the variety] elote from Puebla.”

Even so,the decision has earned considerable attention the world over, as Mexico is now the only country in North America to ban the cultivation of GMO crops. Neither the U.S. nor Canada has taken any action, thus far, against the growing onslaught of GMO pollution within their borders, despite the fact that most other developed countries in the world have either banned GMOs or require them to be at least properly labelled.

November 10, 2013

Poland asks court to hear CIA secret jails case in private  Poland's government has asked the European Court of Human Rights to exclude the media and the public from a court hearing next month on whether Poland hosted a secret CIA prison on its territory. The request for a private hearing was criticized by a Polish human rights group, which accuses the state of trying to conceal its involvement in the CIA's "extraordinary rendition" program behind a veil of secrecy. The Strasbourg-based court scheduled a public hearing for Dec. 3 to hear arguments in the cases of two men who say they were held in a CIA-operated jail in Poland.

November 8, 2013

 

(Lahore) A young American housewife has experienced the unfortunate corruption, cruel and inhumane treatment that exists within the Pakistani government. Married to a Pakistani businessman, the young housewife, whose name is withheld to prevent further incident, has lived in Pakistan for over six years and recently required a routine renewal of her Visa. During the process, she and her family were met with rudeness, disregard and an unwillingness to help. Unfortunately, her appalling encounter is becoming the routine for Americans when dealing with corrupt elements in Pakistan. Still, for this young housewife, the memory of years of service by American Muslims shines in contrast to the disrespect delivered to innocent housewives, students, and humanitarian workers who have sacrificed, given aid, and shown kindness to the people of Pakistan who overwhelming support and respect American Muslims. The young housewife speaks exclusively to The Islamic Post about those good works with the aim of exposing and ridding the Pakistani government of those who fraudulently represent them.

 

As an expectant mother in her last trimester, the young American housewife sent her husband’s brother with the paperwork to renew her visa at the Ministry of Interior office in Islamabad. Oddly, it was after review of the documentation that he was spoken to harshly, treated rudely, and told he must bring the passport owner to Islamabad. Her brother-in-law insisted on processing the visa immediately explaining the delicate condition of the young housewife who was under doctor’s orders to refrain from travel. Furthermore, there was no security to accompany her in an area highly susceptible to the abduction of foreign nationals. The explanations afforded no leniency. The reply from the Pakistani official was a firm “no” as well as an indication that the young housewife’s visa might be cancelled altogether.

 

Against doctor’s orders, the young housewife travelled five hours to Islamabad. The Pakistani government official remained discourteous to the young housewife, not caring that she was visually suffering from apparent maternal pangs. Thankfully, his boss learned of the entire situation and immediately gave due and proper respect as well as provided a one-year extension to the visa. After leaving, the young housewife learned that the rude official who initially rejected the paperwork brazenly reversed his boss’s permission and changed the visa to expire in three months. Furthermore, he advised that the young housewife cannot come back to the office for renewal, but instead might have to go to America. She knew these were not empty threats because some years ago several American doctors, humanitarian workers and students were sent home from Pakistan after visa extensions were denied.

 

This type of corruption, hatred and ill-treatment of American Muslims has permeated the government of Pakistan for years and should be known by every American organization. It is well understood that when Muslims from America come to know that one of their honorable daughters has been mistreated, it could cause great strife. To create disruption between the American Muslims and Pakistanis living in America would be a great failing after decades of faithful service provided by American Muslims who work hard to look after Pakistanis everywhere.

After catastrophic disasters, floods and earthquakes, it is the American Muslims who sacrificed time, money and family to travel to the country of Pakistan to offer help to the people. Following the devastating 2005 earthquake, American Muslim Medical Relief Team, AMMRT, sent doctors, nurses and medical staff worked in tent camps to offer food, medicine and comfort to those affected and displaced from their homes. On the contrary, it is well known that many corrupt individuals within the Pakistani government took donations of medicines and money and embezzled them to sell on the black market - denying comfort and healing for their own people. Due to this corruption, the American doctors working in Pakistan were faced with medical supply shortages. At one time there were two hundred burned children seeking medical care, but doctors had no surgical knives. It was the American Muslims who provided the much-needed supplies to save the lives of suffering Pakistani children. In return, the Pakistan government provided not even a word of thanks, except one article found in the daily Nation newspaper.

American Muslims have touched even the lives of Kashmir refugees when the rest of the world turned a blind eye. For four years, American Muslim ladies provided money, food, shelter, education and assistance to the refugees from Kashmir. In 2010, flooding in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh, Punjab and Balochistan regions of Pakistan was described by General Secretary of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, as the worst disaster he’d seen in his life. The American Muslims responded with immediate aid. A member of the American Muslim Medical Relief team recalls their flood relief effort, “During the flood relief work, we were not treated well by the government even though we were there to help the people of Pakistan who appreciated us. When our team was preparing to return home to America, we had a lot of unexpected expenses and unfortunate experiences. For one, we incurred the expense of transporting our medical supplies because Pakistan International Airlines withdrew their offer to carry aid for free. We also had trouble with our visas similar to the young housewife. I remember those two issues being a major setback. We were in the middle of a humanitarian crisis, in which travel visas and transportation should not have been an issue.”  

In the case of the young housewife, the Pakistani official who cancelled the one-year visa should never be allowed to again interfere and mistreat citizens. The family calls for the immediate transfer of the Pakistani official and restoration of the one-year visa as promised. The American Muslims have also formed a delegation who will further pursue the matter in the US. Therefore, this resolution has been promptly adopted by The Muslims of America, Inc., and the staff and students of the International Quranic Open University, Inc for immediate attention.

November 5, 2013

Genocide is state sponsored mass murder. It takes two forms, the most known is the annihilation of an entire race or ethnic group. Then there is the more subtle form that takes effect over generations - “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part”, as defined by Barbara Harff and Ted Robert Gurr, “Toward Empirical Theory of Genocides and Politicides: Identification and Measurement of Cases Since 1945.” Center on Law and Globalization.In 1928, a government official predicted Canada would end its “Indian problem” within two generations. Indigenous children of Canada were deliberately starved in the 1940s and ’50s by government researchers in the name of science.

Rochelle Johnston wrote on Rabble, an online news source covering Canada:

“While there may not have been a master plan to execute every Aboriginal person in Canada, throughout much of our history there has been a deeply and widely held belief that First Nations, Metis and Inuit, as groups, should cease to exist. Reducing the number of Aboriginal people and eliminating those who weren’t willing to assimilate into Euro-Canadian society was helpful to this cause. Evidence of genocidal desires can be found in any number of government documents and public statements, and when the conditions were right, Canadians, whether bureaucrats, researchers, doctors, missionaries, social workers or entrepreneurs, felt justified in carrying out a range of genocidal acts.”

The Research

Milk rations were halved for years at residential schools across the country. Essential vitamins were kept from people who needed them. Dental services were withheld because gum health was a measuring tool for scientists and dental care would distort research.

For over a decade, indigenous children and adults were unknowingly subjected to nutritional experiments by Canadian government bureaucrats.

This disturbing look into government policy toward indigenous peoples after World War II comes to light in recently published historical research.

When Canadian researchers went to a number of northern Manitoba reserves in 1942, they found rampant malnourishment. But instead of recommending increased federal support to improve the health of hundreds of the people suffering from a collapsing fur trade and already limited government aid, they decided against it. Nutritionally deprived people would be the perfect test subjects, researchers thought.

The details come from Ian Mosby, a post-doctorate at the University of Guelph, whose research focused on one of the most horrific aspects of government policy toward indigenous peoples during a time when rules for research on humans were just being adopted by the scientific community.

Researching the development of health policy for a different research project, Mosby uncovered “vague references to studies conducted on ‘Indians’ ” and began to investigate. Government documents eventually revealed a long-standing, government-run experiment that came to span the entire country and involved at least 1,300 indigenous, most of them children.

Any time the body is depleted of vital liquids and nutrients, there are several physical side effects that take place. These effects essentially happen because the body is trying to conserve energy for survival. According to the LiveStrong Foundation, even if a child survived long periods of starvation, they might experience abnormal growth and other forms of permanent damage. For example, nearly all bone development happens before adulthood, so children who fail to get sufficient calcium in their diets are likely to experience osteoporosis or other bone composition problems later as adults.

Academics and social activists have said Canada’s historical treatment of indigenous people meets the UN definition of genocide, which is the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group through any of a number of means. They include killing the group’s members, causing them serious mental or physical harm, subjecting them to unsustainable living conditions, preventing births and forcibly transferring their children to another group.

This atrocity is one of many church-run, government-funded assimilation efforts of residential schools for native children, to rid them of their heritage. The aims were devastating for those who were subjected to various physical and emotional abuse; many were forced removed from their families and tribes.

Johnston writes, “If it wasn’t for Canada, and a contingent of colonizing nations who in 1948 gutted a whole section of the UN Genocide Convention, the other “kinder” and “gentler” techniques of genocide we were and are still using against Aboriginal peoples would also be crimes.”

In 2008, the Canadian government made a formal public apology to the surviving children of the residential schools, their families and their nation.

November 3, 2013

Citing ‘undue persecution of African leaders’, an African Union decision may mean a boycott.

A Kenyan senator has called on the majority leader this week to introduce a measure to ratify a decision by the African Union seeking to defer the trial of President Uhuru Kenyatta at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, who formally kicked off the crusade for the country to withdraw from the court, says Kenyans overwhelmingly support the right of the president to refuse to appear before the Hague-based ICC.

“Kenya will like to use its institutions to ratify a regional decision, and considering the fact that in the past, we have had a motion about pulling out of the ICC, it will be in order for the majority leader of the senate to introduce a motion to facilitate a process of ratification of the AU decision,” said Murkomen.

At a two-day summit in Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, the African leaders agreed that Kenyatta should not attend the trial if the U.N. Security Council does not agree to delay the proceedings.

Foreign ministers of the continental body had also agreed that current heads of state should not be tried by the Hague-based court.

“The decision of the AU was critical in the sense that the next 10 to 20 days when the Security Council will consider that decision, will redefine, basically, international law, Africa’s relations with the International Criminal Court, and basically the future working relationship between Africa and other UN institutions,” said Murkomen.

The ICC accuses Kenya’s President Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto of playing a key role in the country’s 2007-2008 post-election violence that left at least 1,300 people dead and tens of thousands displaced from their homes. Broadcaster Arap Sang also faces similar charges at the court.

                    

“If the Security Council is not able to work with us, we [should] mobilize the rest of the nation to ensure that our president does not travel to the ICC,” said Murkomen.

Critics say the court only targets Africans, but remains oblivious to atrocities, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in other parts of the world. The ICC denies the accusation.

Kenya’s parliament plans to introduce a measure enabling the East African nation to pull out of the Rome Statute, which established the court.

Murkomen says there are strong indications the measure will be approved by the legislature.                

“In the last motion to pull out of the ICC, we had overwhelming support [and] there is no reason why we shouldn’t get similar support for this motion,” said Murkomen. “Even if [Kenyatta] doesn’t sign it, there is a procedure in the constitution to return it back to parliament, and if we pass it for the second time, it will automatically become law.”

The president may have his personal view as an individual,” said Murkomen, “but we are here to always remind him that he is a property of the nation.”

November 3, 2013

Tamarod, the youth movement that organized the demonstrations last year that toppled former Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi, has announced its supports of Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s decision not to run for presidency in the next election.

It added in a statement titled “Yes, we support Sisi” that it trusts the defense minister’s ability to lead the army and protect Egyptian grounds. Sisi told The Washington Post that he does not intend to run for presidency and expressed hopes that elections will take place soon without bloodshed.

October 27, 2013

Residents of the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan are still struggling to dig out of the rubble left by two recent major earthquakes in September. The central government, meanwhile, is being accused of dragging its feet in allowing international aid to reach the disaster zone.

Islamabad has been involved in an intense struggle to crush the separatist aims of the province's Baluch population. This has heightened the complications of providing relief following the quakes that hit on September 24 and 28, killing nearly 700 people and leaving some 1,000 injured.

The central government has maintained tight control over the relief effort amid the continuing insurgency and, with their safety in mind, has denied the involvement of outside aid agencies.

Local aid workers acknowledge that there have been some cases of insurgents attacking security forces following the disaster. But aid workers, they say, have not been targeted.

“We will not allow army or FC (paramilitary Frontier Corps) here, only NGOs or local officials are allowed to come here,” Balochistan National Movement’s Dr. Manan Baloch  told Agence France Presse (AFP).

In 2012, the International Committee of the Red Cross scaled down its operations in the country, including ending its activities in Balochistan, following the death of one of its staff members.

Only a small number of local organizations have ongoing operations in the province. One of them is the Pakistan Red Crescent Society, whose local network on the ground enabled it to be among the first responders in the quake’s aftermath.

Provincial officials have stated that international aid workers cannot be allowed in until their security can be ensured. Chief Minister Abdul Malik Baloch, the province's top elected official, has nevertheless written to Islamabad requesting that international aid agencies be allowed to participate in the relief effort. But weeks after the quakes, with government agencies were on leave to celebrate the Eid al-Adha holiday, Minister Baloch is still awaiting a reply.

Help Desperately Needed

Zahid Ali is a local aid worker participating in relief efforts in Awaran district, which is located at the epicenter of the September quakes. He paints a grim picture of utter destruction. He says that more than 90 percent of the traditional mud-brick houses in the region have collapsed and remaining ones have been damaged so badly that they are not usable.

He says that aid in the form of food, medicine, and tents has reached disaster-hit areas, but a lot of work remains to be done. "I request that international agencies, the United Nations in particular, come here quickly because the people need them urgently," Ali says. "We need their aid in the form of food items and non-food items. We need blankets because the winters are approaching. We require lots of daily-use utensils for cooking. Above all, we need a lot of medical assistance."

Ali says that Minister Baloch spent five days in Awaran following the earthquakes. At the time, Ali says, the chief minister pledged to push Islamabad to appeal to the United Nations for help.

Minister Baloch's spokesman, Jan Muhammad Bulaidi, accused the insurgents of hampering the delivery of aid to the very people they claim to be fighting for. "The separatists should curtail their activities in the aftermath of the disaster. They should allow aid workers and state agencies to help people," he said.

"The separatists need to change their attitude. They need to be aware of the problems of their people. They should allow aid organizations to go to the affected regions and help people," Bulaidi said. "Aid workers would go there only if they can be assured of their security by the authorities."

Agencies At The Ready

International aid organizations cite Islamabad's reluctance as the main hurdle to them reaching quake victims. Many aid workers, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed that they are ready to go to Awaran as soon as they get a nod from Islamabad.

In particular, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is only awaiting a green light from Pakistani authorities. MSF was one of the first organizations to publically call on Islamabad to allow humanitarian access to Awaran. "It's crucial that the authorities allow impartial humanitarian assistance into the Awaran area in order to respond to any unmet needs," the international aid agency's operations manager, Chris Lockyear, said in an October press statement.

The magnitude 7.7 and 6.8 earthquakes that struck in late September left more than 100,000 people homeless and affected more than 300,000 people. In addition to Awaran, they jolted the nearby districts of Kech, Khuzdar, Kharan, Gwadar, Panjgur, and Chaghi.

These regions are a stronghold of Baluch separatists who have waged many violent insurgencies against Islamabad over the past six decades. Thousands of civilians and soldiers have died in the latest rebellion, which erupted after the 2006 killing of prominent Baluch politician Nawab Akbar Bugti. Many hard-line Baluch factions now claim to be fighting for a separate homeland.

Resource-rich Balochistan has experienced a few major earthquakes. In April, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake across the border in Iran killed at least 35 people in Balochistan. In 1935, a major quake killed 60,000 people.

October 27, 2013

Protests in the Biryulyov neighborhood, on Moscow’s southern fringes, were apparently triggered by the fatal stabbing of a 25-year-old, Yegor Shcherbakov. Police have described the alleged attacker – captured on grainy CCTV footage – as "not a Russian citizen." Russian media, meanwhile, have described him as a migrant.

Labor migrants [who are predominantly Muslim] in Russia number in the millions, and have become a focus of public discontent and divisive political rhetoric.

RIA Novosti reported that  Russian police detained 1,200 people in Moscow at a vegetable warehouse targeted by anti-migrant rioters during violent clashes in the area the night before. During demonstrations in Biryulyov, protesters called on police to detain the suspect in Shcherbakov’s murder and tighten migration laws, according to local media reports.

By the next day, the crowd turned violent, when a group of young men began smashing windows in a shopping centre and briefly set it on fire. A video posted on Youtube showed them chanting "White Power!" as they forced their way in, attacking police and local businesses, including the vegetable warehouse. Helicopters and over a thousand police officers were dispatched to Biryulyov. Observers cite that the peaceful protest may have been targeted by political instigators who seized an opportunity to ignite an already volatile situation.

Police called the latest round of arrests “preventative,” saying they would check the thousand-plus people taken into custody “for involvement in criminal activity.”

Preliminary reports suggested that the initial detentions targeted people, mostly migrant Muslims,who worked at the vegetable warehouse which had come under attack the previous day, while the earlier detentions focused on those taking part in the weekend’s violence. Russia's top investigative agency said it was looking into the killing. Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, a close ally of President Putin, called for a thorough investigation and said those behind riots must also be held responsible for their actions.

 

The rioting in Biryulyov was the worst outbreak of unrest over a racially-charged incident in Moscow since December 2010, when several thousand youths rioted just outside the Kremlin.

While Russia's overall population is dropping, the number of Muslims in the country is on the rise. The population of indigenous Muslims, mainly hailing from the Russian Caucasus, in Russia has risen since the fall of the Soviet Union, including a 69 percent increase in Dagestanis, a 50 percent increase in Chechens and a 100 percent increase in Ingush. Similarly, the number of Muslim immigrants is also rising. According to official state data, some 240,000 immigrants enter Russia annually -- Russia's Center for Migration Studies puts this number at more than 400,000 after accounting for illegal immigration. Federal Migration Service head Konstantin Romodanovsky has said 3 million immigrants work illegally in Russia every year.

Increased anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment has accompanied these demographic changes. The opinion research center poll in January suggested that 55 percent of Russians reported feelings of enmity toward other ethnicities, and 63 percent believed that Russians should have more rights than other ethnicities.

The Russian government faces several problems with tensions stemming from these demographic trends. Early in his tenure, Russian President Vladimir Putin exploited ethnic Russian xenophobia of the Muslim populations. But now that the Muslim populations have become larger and have moved from the borderlands into Russia's interior, the Kremlin is having more difficulty balancing the interests of all its constituencies. In the lead-up to the 2011 elections, Russia saw protests of more than 100,000 in the streets of Moscow calling for immigration reform and a cessation of government subsidization for the Russian Muslim republics.

October 21, 2013

Representatives of the governments of France, Mexico, Brazil and the European Union are demanding detailed explanations from the US regarding covert telecommunications spying operations which have been identified and exposed  by the news media.  Most recently, the French government summoned the US ambassador to provide details related to allegations published in the French newspaper Le Monde that the National Security Agency (NSA) collected tens of thousands of phone records of French citizens, as reported by Reuters. The summons, it was mentioned,  was conveyed on the same day as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Paris enroute to Syria.

Hundreds of ‘top secret’ US National Security Agency  documents containing highly classified Information were leaked when Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor,  transferred access to the files to the British newspaper The Guardian and the US Washington Post.  The revelations  continue to be a cause of grave concern to the affected nations,  most of whom run intelligence operations of their own; however, as ‘allies’, the extent and nature of the breaches committed by the NSA spying has led to a serious rupture of confidence and trust between them.  The Reuters report also elaborated that earlier, France's interior minister, Manuel Valls, said Le Monde's revelations that 70.3 million pieces of French telephone data were recorded by the NSA between Dec 10, 2012 and Jan 8, 2013 were "shocking."

"If an allied country spies on France or spies on other European countries, that's totally unacceptable," Valls told Europe 1 Radio. French prosecutors opened an inquiry into the unethical spy program named ‘Prism’ which was first revealed in the German weekly Der Speigel  and the British Guardian as well.

Agence  France Presse (AFP) coverage of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff at the United Nations reported that she blasted the US during her UN General Assembly address in September , cancelling  an October visit to the US in outrage at the worldwide spying network that she said ‘violates the sovereignty of other countries and the civil liberties of their citizens.’ Ms. Rousseff said the transgressions of the covert program was tantamount to ‘disrespect’ and a breach of international law, describing arguments that the technological surveillance of individuals, businesses and diplomatic missions is necessary in the global fight against terrorism as "untenable" and an affront to the sovereignty of nations.

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stated that  the European Union was ‘not satisfied’ with the responses provided by Washington to the EU’s inquiries about NSA spying on international bank transfers and promised that the EU would be  “seeking exhaustive explanations, comprehensive information.” Reports that US intelligence services tapped into the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) have strained relations between Washington and Europe, and if the reports are confirmed ” will certainly  further weaken the confidence between the EU and the US and would undoubtedly impact our cooperation in the field of counter-terrorism,” Commissioner Malmstrom told AFP.

Information leaked by the Snowden NSA files also documented the fact that the personal email account of former Mexican President Philippe Calderon had been ‘hacked’ by NSA spy technology during his tenure as president. Revealed in Der Spiegel, the intrusion occurred in May of 2010 and provided a ‘lucrative’ source of private information, while an additional hack into a central network server used by Calderon’s administration provided  a ‘trove’ of diplomatic and economic information to the NSA,  and in turn the US government.

"This practice is unacceptable, illegal and against Mexican and international law. In a relationship between neighbors and partners there is no place for the actions that allegedly took place," the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement, adding that the infraction could damage ties between the US and Mexico, one of America’s biggest trading partners, and also cause tensions in other cooperative dealings such as border security and the ongoing war against organized crime.  The Reuters report mentioned that US president Barack Obama promised a vigorous and thorough investigation into the charges of espionage to current Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto who, according to other reports, had already remarked that the covert   transgressions were totally unacceptable. Still, eighty- percent of Mexico’s exported goods are sold to the US, a critical factor for the Mexican economy which could explain its  measured response to the spy allegations.  

According to information published on the Guardian.com, the NSA, founded in 1952, is the USA’s signal intelligence agency, and the biggest of the country’s myriad intelligence organizations. It supposedly has a strict focus on overseas, rather than domestic, surveillance. It is the phone and internet interception specialist of the USA, and is also responsible for code breaking.

October 16, 2013

In Europe’s poorest country, young people are turning to occult religious practices—even exorcisms—to escape everyday life.

Northern Moldova, which shares borders with Romania and Ukraine, is one of the poorest regions in the poorest country in Europe. Two decades after the hardly-remembered War of Transdnistria, the battered region stands on little more than dust and remittances. What it does have—in ample quantity—is religion.

As in other former Soviet republics, spirituality has filled the material void, and the Orthodox Church is thriving. According to the Moldova Foundation, roughly 98 percent of Moldova’s population belongs to a church. But in Moldova one must ask—what kind of church? Is it European? Russian? Something else? You will find a smattering of Catholic churches, a handful of Sunni mosques, a few groups of Mormons, and of course the Moldovan Orthodox Church, which is dominant. On this particular summer night in early August, as the sun darkens the Dniester River, the country’s intense religiosity is the main event. It is Thursday evening, and like every Thursday, the Saharna Monastery, one of the most well-known monasteries in the country, opens its cloister gates to allow the public inside to attend a mass exorcism.

I watch a dozen of the faithful dunk themselves in holy water and kiss the base of a steel cross, preparing to purge themselves of demons.

Past the wooden crucifixes that dot the crumbling townships, inside the monastery, around 200 people have gathered to expel their demons. I watch a dozen of the faithful dunk themselves in holy water and kiss the base of a steel cross, preparing to purge themselves of demons—dyavoli, as they are called here. The mystically devout that are present this evening are surprisingly young: The vast majority are teenagers. They huddle together in little packs, whispering over candles.

American University’s Elizabeth Worden, an expert on Moldovan national identity, says she has witnessed an intense rise in the society’s religiosity in the past 15 years. “In the ’90s, there was a curriculum on spiritual and moral values,” says Worden. “But by 2008 … the school assemblies had these crazy religious overtones.”

As Moldova enters its third decade of independence since the collapse of the Soviet Union, religion may be the only social force that is as rampant as the corruption that has swallowed the public and private sector. University students, almost without fail, must bribe professors to pass courses. Malls and shopping centers, such as the one in the heart of Balti, Moldova’s second-largest city, undergo abrupt, massive expansions—not in the name of commerce, but in the pursuit of money laundering. Even those organizations and offices that were set up to combat the country’s corruption are accused of being part of the racket. Amid this sea of corruption, the Orthodox Church has become one of the few remaining institutions with something approaching respectability. “What you have is [the Orthodox Church] standing up and apart from a lot of institutions that aren't respected, emerging within this illiberal democracy,” says Tanya Domi, a researcher at Columbia University.

deed, the religious yoke of Moscow has a long history. In 1812, the Russian Orthodox Church seized the Moldovan church, and the latter has remained subservient ever since. And so, a few months after currying favor with Brussels, the Moldovan parliament passed a law that was nearly identical to Russia’s much-maligned anti-gay statute. The U.S. State Department noted that the Orthodox Church had “welcomed” the local ordinances the new law was based on.

The country’s young people are the first generation to grow up without the security of the old Soviet safety net—and nothing has replaced it. Job prospects are incredibly bleak. According to the World Bank, unemployment for young men surpassed 20 percent in 2010. Most of the work that is available is low-wage. The International Monetary Fund’s most recent report on the country’s wealth disparity put Moldova’s overall poverty rate at 26.3 percent. As a result, many head abroad in search of work, sending their earnings back home to take care of family and loved ones. (As the UNDP reported, nearly 40 percent of Moldovans working abroad were under the age of 30.)

And so, they come to this exorcism. If the government can’t help, then perhaps the church can fill the vacuum.

October 8, 2013

A shocking report prepared by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) circulating in the Kremlin today says that the mainstream propaganda media organs in the United States are continuing to keep covered up the Obama regimes freeing of what Russian intelligence agencies claim is, perhaps, the most dangerous CIA spy-operative ever to have lived and who nearly caused World War III.

According to this report, former US Army veteran and current CIA operative Eric Harroun [man in forefront] was ordered released recently by US District Judge Claude Hilton after Harroun’s guilty plea to a felony count of conspiring to violate American arms-control laws and who further ruled that this sentence was appropriate and that “certain documents” would remain under seal for three months during this highly secret proceeding, a feat which would not have been possible without Obama’s blessing.

Harroun was first arrested on 28 March after a ten-page criminal complaint was filed against him by the FBI charging him with using a weapon of mass destruction outside of the United States. This charge carries the penalty of either death or life imprisonment if convicted.

He then appeared in court with his public defender in a hearing on 8 April in Alexandria, Virginia and was denied bail. At the hearing, US Federal Prosecutor Carter Burwell said it would be illegal for an American to travel to Syria and take up arms against Assad’s regime with any opposition group. This echoes what he was previously told by the FBI officer at the US consulate – leading Harroun to previously remark that it was ……….. ; that an American couldn’t fight in Syria.

He was indicted by a US Federal grand jury on the additional charge of conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist group (which carries the maximum penalty of 15 years in prison) on 20 June. He appeared in court again on 8 July, and was ordered by the Judge to remain in detention, pending trial.

From Harroun’s arrest, which was widely trumpeted by the Obama regimes mainstream media lapdogs, to his “silent release” this past Thursday, this report continues, clearly shows that America’s military establishment and intelligence agencies are at war with each other with no clear winner, as of yet, being able to be determined.

Not since the 1961 CIA-backed Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba incident that precipitated the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, the MoFA report says, has the world been brought closer to a nuclear apocalypse than it has due to Harroun’s actions in Syria on behalf of his CIA and Saudi Arabian “paymasters.”

What has made Harroun particularly dangerous, Russian intelligence analysts contributing to this report say, was his trafficking to Syrian rebels of US captured Soviet era chemical weapon missiles from the former weapons depots of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

After Gaddafi’s fall from power, the report says, the CIA began a massive arms smuggling operation in Benghazi, Libya to their al-Qaeda rebel factions in Syria.

So dangerous was this operation to the Obama regime, reports London’s Telegraph News Service, the CIA began subjecting its operatives, like Harroun, to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of their arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when its Ambassador, Christopher Stephens, was killed by a terrorist attack in the city last year.

Important to note is that Russia had delivered, this past July, to the United Nations a 100-page report detailing the rebels use of chemical weapons in Syria, a finding confirmed by UN inspectors this past May who confirmed Syrian rebels used Sarin nerve gas, not Assad’s regime.

Even worse, in May, this year, Turkish police arrested Syrian rebels caught in the act of carrying weaponized Sarin gas into Syria.

October 4, 2013

CAIRO - Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, visited Egypt with the hope of initiating reconciliation between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian interim government. She met with Vice Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa Eddin, Amr Darrag, Mohamed Ali Beshr and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders.

Al Ahram reported, “The two senior Brotherhood figures will demand an end to the arrest campaign launched by Egypt's interim government against Brotherhood sympathizers and the release of those arrested without charges, in exchange for a halt to protests.” Reconciliation would be a major step in a positive direction for the country; however, with the interim government’s latest crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and the fact that the group denies the legitimacy of the interim government, Ashton’s trip might be a futile one.

In the last month, the interim government banned all activities organized by the Muslim Brotherhood and those who participate in its activities, regardless of membership, will be arrested. It also shut down its Freedom and Justice newspaper. The courts ruled that the Muslim Brotherhood be dissolved and ordered the government to seize the group’s funds and freeze its assets.

The Muslim Brotherhood continues to deny committing any criminal or terrorist acts; hence, these rulings have caused outrage for its members. Muslim Brotherhood and Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) leader Mohamed Ali Beshr said “The court ruling issued to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood was illegitimate, but would not hinder national reconciliation or a political solution for the current crisis in Egypt.” Beshr also said, “The ruling confirms that we are not [living] under a state that [applies] the constitution or law as the ruling was political par excellence and lacked legitimacy,” Al Ahram reported. The group plans to appeal the verdict.

 

These rulings affect the group’s non-governmental organization (NGO) status, although it seems rather pointless in light of the fact that it has only been a registered NGO since March 2013. Regardless of whether the group is registered as an NGO or not, it has been in existence for 85 years without legal standing.

As the government continues to crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies, the group’s support base has decreased significantly. Although street protests continue, they pale in comparison to those held during the sit-ins. Many people have grown weary of the group’s feeble attempts to restore the deposed Mohamed Morsi to his legally earned position as president of Egypt. "Their protests will continue for a while, on every possible occasion and in different ways, that's beyond doubt," Gamal Abdel-Gawad, former head of the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, told Ahram Online. Political analyst Amr El-Shobaky said, "The Brotherhood's strong organizational skills are contingent on blind obedience to their leaders. With their leadership behind bars they cannot deploy their supporters effectively. They already have no popular support, and that makes it harder for their coming protests to yield positive results,” as reported by Al Ahram.

Although political pundits have much to say about what they perceive as pointless protests by the Muslim Brotherhood and its lack of support, college campuses paint a different picture. Recently, Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated students protested at universities across the country.

 

In some cases, violence ensued as clashes broke out between supporters and the opposition. “Eleven students were injured as supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi clashed with supporters of Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at Zagazig University,” says Egypt Independent newspaper. As a result, the university may postpone courses for a week. If nothing else, the Muslim Brotherhood’s members are adamant that if the government chooses to ignore them, they will continue to show civil disobedience. This could be seen in the city of Giza, where they intended to disrupt the campus activity by blocking access to the schools.

 

With the start of a new academic year, the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies have a new platform for demonstrations among the college-educated youth. Politics is a common topic for discussion and thus students on both sides of Egyptian politics are making their voices and opinions known. The Students Against the Coup group staged a march near Cairo University, moving from the university's main gate to the main library. Students chanted against military rule and giving judicial powers to security personnel to arrest individuals on campus, Egypt Independent reported.

 

To the interim government, disbanding the Muslim Brotherhood might be viewed as a victory, at least legally; but if college campuses continue to remain an arena for protests, claiming such a victory might be a bit premature especially if reconciliation cannot be achieved.     

October 4, 2013

Israel’s consistently rogue refusal to comply with any international  mandate ( in particular, signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty against producing nuclear weapons) that it has been issued since its inception has once again been broached on the international forum.  

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani requested that Israel be compelled to sign and become a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as he spoke for a second time at the United Nations General Assembly. “As long as nuclear weapons exist, the threat of their use exists,” Rouhani said, citing the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.

Rouhani  called for a “nuclear-free zone” in the Middle East. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that has not and will not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel would use nuclear weapons if it felt it was threatened by any nation in the Middle East.

The nuclear capability of Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) defensive capabilities just reached another plateau this past April. It purchased its 5th nuclear submarine that can be deployed anywhere in the world with first strike capability. The Israel News Agency reported that Israel purchased a fifth Dolphin class submarine called the “INS Rahav” from Germany. In the article headlined “Israel Launches Ninth Submarine, Ready To Strike Iran Nuclear Weapons,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “The submarines are a strong, strategic tool for the IDF. The State of Israel is ready to act anytime, anywhere – on land, sea and air – in order to ensure the security of Israel’s citizens.”

The submarines are equipped with Israeli-designed Popeye missiles that are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and it is no secret that Israel has nuclear weapons. Some estimates suggest that Israel has between 100 and 400 nuclear weapons.

Mordechai Vanunu, a former Israeli technician at the Dimona nuclear research center in the Negev desert, exposed Israel’s nuclear program to the world in the 1986 Sunday Times (UK). The Times report cited that Vanunu was kidnapped in Italy by Mossad agents and brought to Israel to face an Israeli court. He was convicted and imprisoned for more than 18 years at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, Israel. Half of his prison term was in solitary confinement. He was eventually released in 2004. Since then, Vanunu has been arrested and even imprisoned for violating his parole. He was also arrested for trying to leave Israel at one time. Former Israeli Prime Minister and Noble Peace

Prize winner Shimon Peres said “he was a traitor to this country”.

Since Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Dimona Nuclear Research center is not subject to inspections from the international community such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). According to the Federation of American Scientists in a 2007 report, Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear warheads, but some estimates have their  nuclear warheads at less than 200. It is also known that Israel has the ability to deliver them by intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of 5,500 kilometers or 3,400 miles, the Jericho III missile named after the biblical city of Jericho, various aircrafts and of course submarines.

The report stated the following:

“By the late 1990s, the U.S. Intelligence Community estimated that Israel possessed between 75-130 weapons, based on production estimates. The stockpile would certainly include warheads for mobile Jericho-1 and Jericho-2 missiles, as well as bombs for Israeli aircraft, and may include other tactical nuclear weapons of various types. Some published estimates even claimed that Israel might have as many as 400 nuclear weapons by the late 1990s. Stockpiled plutonium could be used to build additional weapons if so decided”

Israel’s nuclear program began after World War II. David Ben-Gurion wanted to establish a Jewish State with a military force that would repel an attack by any of its adversaries, especially in the Arab world.

Ben-Gurion’s speech to the elected assembly of Palestine Jews on October 2nd, 1947 made it clear on the intentions of a new Jewish state:

“Political developments have swept us on to a momentous parting of the ways – from Mandate to independence. Today, beyond our ceaseless work in immigration, settlement and campaign, we are set three blazing tasks, whereof fulfillment will condition our perpetuity: defense, a Jewish State and Arab-Jewish Cupertino, in that order of importance and urgency. Security is our chief problem.

Between the years of 1955 and 2007 more than 130 United Nations Resolutions have been issued against Israel related to injustices perpetrated against the Palestinian people which were all abjectly ignored by Israel.  Among these are Security Council Resolution 242, Nov. 22, 1967 , which declared the occupation of Palestine illegal, Security Council Resolution 446, March 22, 1979, which declared Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal. There has been no action on the part of the UN to bring Israel to book and conform to its mandates, including, as the Iranian president insisted, declaring its Nuclear arsenal. Iran has endured years of sanctions and has no nuclear weapons.

October 4, 2013

The commander of one of El Salvador's notorious death squads, active during the 1979-92 civil war, could soon become the first top-ranking Salvadoran officer to face trial for murder. But if so, he will be tried in Spain, not his own country, where amnesty protects even those guilty of atrocities against civilians.

Inocente Orlando Montano was quietly working in a sweet factory in Massachusetts in May 2011, when he and 19 others were indicted by a Spanish court for their alleged role in the 1989 murder of six Jesuit priests, along with their housekeeper and her teenage daughter.

Five of the priests - outspoken critics of El Salvador's military regime - were Spanish. Spain asked for Montano to be extradited - and soon afterwards he was indicted by the US for having lied about his entry date and military past to obtain papers giving him the right to work in the US.

He pleaded guilty in September last year to six counts of immigration fraud and perjury and will soon be sentenced.

As vice-minister of public security, Colonel Montano had been one of El Salvador's top three military leaders. He was also commander of the feared Belloso Battalion.

In an expert report prepared for Montano's prosecution, political science professor Terry Karl argues that at least 1,169 human rights abuses - including 65 extra-judicial killings of named individuals, 51 reported disappearances and 520 torture victims - were carried out by units under Montano's command.

"The Jesuit massacre was not an aberration," she writes.

"Throughout Col Montano's 30-year military career, he ordered, abetted and assisted, and/or commanded troops that participated in a strategy of disappearance and arbitrary detention, rural massacres of civilian non-combatants, the forced disappearance of children, and the toleration of military-led death squads operating inside units under his command."

The US federal judge has indicated that Montano's sentence will reflect the gravity of his alleged human rights record - detailed in Karl's report and in testimonies from priests and civilian survivors of torture.

The San Francisco-based Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA), which helped trigger the indictment by filing a criminal complaint in Spain four years ago, expects the extradition process to begin while Montano is in US custody.

Up to now, no top-ranking Salvadoran commander has faced criminal prosecution for any civil war offence.

Two others who "retired" to Florida - Generals Jose Guillermo Garcia and Carlos Vides Casanova - have been fighting deportation proceedings brought under a post-9/11 law intended to stop human rights violators residing in the country.

Both have also been sued in the civil courts. In 2002, a West Palm Beach jury found them guilty of torturing three civilians and awarded $55m, $300,000 of which has so far been paid.

But the immigration proceedings against Montano have already arguably done more to raise hopes among civilian victims that justice may one day be done, by legally dissecting several atrocities for the first time.

One is the El Calabozo massacre, in which 200 to 300 campesinos, or peasant farmers, were killed on 22 August 1982 by the Belloso Battalion under Montano's command, and the equally feared Atlactl Battalion.

El Calabozo was a scorched-earth operation carried out by the US-trained mobile death squads against alleged guerrilla supporters. The soldiers killed unarmed civilians, kidnapped children for illegal adoptions, bombed homes and destroyed crops.

The Salvadoran government has never officially recognized that the massacre took place.

Chunguita Realegeno, 58, who lost her whole family except one son in the massacre, says: "I hid with my baby for three days without food or water because we couldn't keep walking; I never saw my family again, I only found their bones. I suffer every day and night knowing those who killed my people are still free."

Prof Karl testified in court on August 22nd - the 31st anniversary of the massacre - as did General Mauricio Vargas, who Montano has called as an expert to challenge the allegations.

"A case like Montano's immigration prosecution provides a glimmer of hope that some truth and accountability will emerge from decades of lies, denial and impunity.," says Esther Major, Amnesty International's El Salvador researcher. "Evidence is being reviewed, massacres recognized as having happened, victims and survivors' words matter."

At one point, it seemed that El Salvador itself might repeal the amnesty law for former combatants, passed in 1993 in defiance of the terms of the peace agreement signed the previous year.

In 2000, the former rebels FMLN (Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front) won a legislative majority against the military-allied Arena party - the sort of political change which preceded the collapse of amnesties in Chile, Argentina, Guatemala and Honduras.

The successful prosecutions around this time of Gen Augusto Pinochet in Chile and Col Byron Disrael Lima Estada in Guatemala - both of which had once seemed impossible - caused reverberations in El Salvador.

Montano entered the US in 2001, just when it seemed the Jesuits massacre would be reinvestigated. But it was only in 2009 that an FMLN candidate, Mauricio Funes, became president, and he has not made repealing the amnesty law a legislative priority.

Not surprisingly, Montano has volunteered to return to El Salvador after serving his sentence in the US. The country's Supreme Court has already rejected Spain's request for the extradition of 17 of Montano's co-accused in the Jesuit massacre case, including former president Alfredo Cristiani.

Of the remaining two accused, one is dead and the whereabouts of Lt Hector Cuenta Ocampo, who occupied a prominent position in the National Intelligence Service, is unknown. His last known address was in San Francisco.

September 27, 2013

Sixty years ago, the Shin Bet devised one of the strangest operations in its history (and the archives are filled with some very strange ones!).  It planted Jewish agents deep undercover inside Palestinian communities.  For 15 years these men became Palestinian: they married Palestinian wives, raised Palestinian families, and participated in their communities as if they were a natural part of it.  But all the while they were funneling intelligence back to their handlers.

Then, seven years after Ulysses began, the Mossad told most of the agents to come in from the cold.  But what to do with their families?  Neither wives nor children knew their fathers had double identities and were Mossad spies.  Not to mention, imagine the shame and hostility to which you’d be subjected in the Palestinian community for having a father who informed on his “fellow Palestinians.”

Though this story was known in its bare outlines, Ronen Bergman unveils for the first time the identity of one of the Jewish agents.  He was the  ironically-named Uri Yisrael.  He was an operative of the Caesarea unit, which performs some of the Mossad’s most secretive and sensitive undercover operations.  His codename was “Ladya.”  He has the honor of being the Mossad agent who served the longest period of time with a double identity (15 years).  The second agent, whose identity Bergman was forbidden to expose by order of the military censor (presumably this means he’s still alive), had the code name “Yitzhak.”  Bergman interviewed Yisrael’s Palestinian son, who had no idea of his father’s double life.  He also interviewed the Mossad officer who ran the operation, Sami Moriah, now 87.

Among their intelligence achievements were bearing news of the creation of the PLO and participating in attempts to assassinate Yasir Arafat and Abu Jihad.  Operation Ulysses was a creature of then-Shin Bet chief, Iser Harel who, starting in 1952, sought to plant Israeli agents among the Palestinian refugee camps both in Israel and the Arab world.  Israel’s military-intelligence apparatus believed it was only a matter of time before Arab armies made another attempt to attack Israel.  They saw the Palestinians as a “fifth column” which would betray Israel at the first opportunity.  So they wanted spies planted in their midst to report back on any potential threats.

For Ulysses, Harel sought out Jews who’d recently emigrated to Israel from Arab lands.  It was an operation that was emotionally brutal.  Most of those recruited were in their early 20s.  Moriah chose them because they’d participated in the underground Zionist youth groups in their native Arab land.  Their ideological training allowed them to swear unfaltering allegiance to their adopted Zionist motherland.  Upon joining, they were severed from their own families and lived alone in apartments in Jaffa during their 18-month training period.   Moriah tells Bergman that when he brought letters from one of the Ulysses participants to his mother she pleaded:

Let me see him just for two minutes.  Even in the street from afar.  Just so that I know my boy is OK.

Ulysses members prepared intensively for their mission with study of Islam, recitation from the Koran, along with training in spycraft and terrorism.  They also had to undo their native accents and learn the special Palestinian accent and dialect.  Of the scores of candidates Moriah recruited, only nine completed the training.  They were all natives of Iraq, as was Moriah.  These were planted among Israel’s Palestinian population.  Their mission was to warn of planned uprisings or civil unrest.  They were also meant to make their way outside Israel to the Palestinian Diaspora.

The agency decided to end the project in 1959.  Most were returned to Israel (except Uri Yisrael and “Yitzhak” who remained undercover till 1967).  Tellingly, Bergman doesn’t discuss the emotional upheaval this must’ve caused to these families and perhaps the agents themselves.  The details of this story were published in Israel Defense article, which delves much more poignantly into the tragedy.  It describes the great personal suffering of the children who were forced to confront the dark secrets of their fathers and then to somehow pick up the pieces and put them back together again.  The reporter describes the meetings at which Moriah had to inform the Palestinian women that their husbands weren’t who they thought they were.  He offered to convert them and their children to Judaism (!), as if this would somehow miraculously heal the damage.  He also promised the Shin Bet would take care of them “till they were 120.”  Some of the women agreed and their children were raised as Jews and some even became officers in the IDF.

Of the nine original agents, two remained undercover and were transferred to the Mossad.  They continued their double lives for another eight years.  It was these men who first reported that the leadership of the new nationalist organization, the PLO, included two hitherto little-known figures, Arafat and Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad).  Yisrael paid for the apartment in which the first meetings of Fatah occurred and in which there were microphones which picked up every detail of their plans.

September 27, 2013

Cairo - Egypt’s latest crackdown on Morsi supporters and sympathizers now affects the country’s mosques. Fifty-five thousand “unlicensed” imams will be prohibited from giving sermons in mosques and small mosques are being closed. “Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Goma said the ministry would limit prayers to mosques controlled by the ministry, allow only Al-Azhar-qualified imams to preach in mosques, shut down small mosques that are often led by independent imams, and ban donations from inside mosques that "go to those who do not fear God,” Al Ahram reported.

“The ban will mainly target small unlicensed mosques or random praying areas. The idea is to spread a moderate message of Islam and keep Egyptians away from radical ideas,” Egypt Independent Newspaper reported. This decision has caused a stir amongst the Nour Party—Egypt’s largest Salafi party. “Sherif Taha, spokesperson for the Nour Party, criticised the move, claiming mosques were already crowded during Friday prayers and it would become worse if small, neighbourhood mosques were closed,” according to Al Ahram.

Morsi’s largest supporters, the Muslim Brotherhood, are suffering another setback in it’s mission to restore democracy to Egypt. “Egypt's army-backed government has decided to dissolve the Muslim Brotherhood as a registered non-governmental organization, a state-run newspaper reported, pressing a crackdown on deposed President Mohamed Morsi's movement,” Egypt Independent Newspaper reported. The Egyptian interim government discussed disbanding the Brotherhood in recent months; however, the decision comes after a bomb exploded injuring more than 20 people on a major thoroughfare in Cairo. Authorities say it was an assassination attempt on Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim. The Brotherhood denies involvement and condemned the attack. "We reject any attempt to assassinate any leader or politician, and our ideology stands against violence and murder," Brotherhood leader Mamdouh al-Husseiny told Al-Masry Al-Youm.

“A Suez military court has given 11 alleged Muslim Brotherhood supporters life sentences relating to charges of violence following the dispersal of pro-Mohamed Morsy sit-ins in Cairo and Giza recently,” according to Egypt Independent Newspaper.  The crackdown began with a wave of mass arrests of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members for a variety of charges—the most commonly cited charge is incitement of violence. Egyptian security forces continue carrying out arrests of the group’s leaders and members. “Egyptian police are making "extensive efforts" to overcome “extremist hotbeds," Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim said,” Al Ahram reported.

Prior to his recent arrest for charges including incitement of violence at the Republican Guard Headquarters, organizing a terrorist gang and murder, Mohamed El-Beltagy—who was hiding from authorities at the time—said in a video aired on al-Jazeera station, “Egyptian authorities have no shred of evidence the group engaged in any terrorist acts, as alleged by the Egyptian government,” Al Ahram reported.

 

El-Beltagy exposed contradictions in Army Chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s actions toward the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi promoted el-Sisi to defense minister, yet it begs the question, how could he accept working in a parliament alongside ministers who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood—an alleged terrorist group? "Why hadn't he noticed anything related to the terrorism of the Brotherhood all these years?" El-Beltagy asked in the video. "How was he head of military intelligence and yet allowed a member of a terrorist group to be nominated for president," reported Al Ahram.

The constant barrage of media propaganda against the Muslim Brotherhood has incited people to form lynch mobs or become neighborhood vigilantes; therefore, people are always on guard. “The ouster of Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, has set off something of a witch hunt against those perceived as being his supporters. The campaign has been fed by domestic media, which has broadcast around-the-clock images of bearded gunmen allegedly firing at security forces during demonstrations.” according to Egypt Independent Newspaper.

Clinging to their demands in recent demonstrations and rallies—though in smaller numbers—Morsi supporters continue calling for the return of democracy and protesting against the military. With such continued public defiance, it remains to be seen what further measures will be taken against the government-dissolved Muslim Brotherhood and other pro-Morsi groups and how such actions affect the rest of Egypt.

 

September 27, 2013

BAMAKO - Newly elected president of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, pledged to unite his strife-damaged nation  and end endemic corruption as he steps forward to  lead the deeply-divided west African country’s emergence from months of political crisis and conflict.

Keita, a former prime minister, began his five-year term in the presence of outgoing transitional leader Dioncounda Traore and more than 1,000 Malian politicians, diplomats and military personnel, as he took the presidential oath at the inaugural ceremony in Bamako, the Malian capital.

"I will not forget for a moment that you put me where I am to take care of all aspects of the life of our nation. National reconciliation remains the most urgent priority," he said after taking an oath to preserve the constitution, democracy and the law.

Mali's constitutional court confirmed Keita's landslide victory  in the August 11 presidential run-off against former minister Soumaila Cisse after an election campaign focused on law, order and ending the culture of impunity in public office.

"I want to reconcile hearts and minds, restore true brotherhood between us so that all the different people can play their part harmoniously in the national symphony," Keita said to huge applause.

The 68-year-old veteran of the political scene in Bamako is charged with leading the country out of a 17-month political crisis sparked by a military coup.

Army officers angry at the level of support they had received to combat a separatist Tuareg rebellion in the north overthrew the democratically-elected government of President Amadou Toumani Toure in the spring of 2012.

In the chaos that followed, the Tuareg seized control of an area larger than France before being ousted by Al-Qaeda-linked groups who imposed a brutal interpretation of Islamic law on the local population, carrying out amputations and executions.

Their actions drew worldwide condemnation and prompted France to launch a military offensive at Mali's behest together with thrust from the UN’s official international input to oust the Islamists in January.

The country's return to democracy has allowed France to begin withdrawing some of the 4,500 troops it had sent in.  

"France welcomes the new president of the Republic of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, on the occasion of his swearing-in ceremony," said French foreign ministry spokesman Philippe Lalliot in a statement.

"Granted a strong legitimacy with the outcome of the recent elections, the new authorities can now meet the needs of the people of Mali and the challenges facing Mali. France is ready to give its full support to President Keita."  Observers cite that French logistical assistance will continue, limiting the troop withdrawal initially planned by French President Hollande.

The son of a civil servant, Keita was born in 1945 in the southern industrial city of Koutiala, the declining heartland of cotton production in the country.

His election in the first presidential polls in Mali since 2007 was seen as crucial for unlocking more than $4 billion in aid promised by international donors who halted contributions in the wake of last year's coup.

His daunting workload over the coming months will include tackling an economy battered by political chaos and war, as well as healing ethnic divisions in the north and managing the return of 500,000 people who fled an Islamist insurgency.

Corruption has tainted government institutions and the military in Mali since it gained independence from France in 1960 and the country remains in the bottom third of Transparency International's ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’.  Some observers contend that the Malian government prior to the coup had been complicit with organized crime in the north, which would explain its complacency with the corruption known to exist there.

"I will put an end to impunity, to the special privileges that are at the heart of the perversion of our judicial and state institutions," Keita vowed.

"As president, I will ensure the proper management of public funds. I will put in place appropriate mechanisms to ensure transparency and efficiency of public spending. No one will get rich illegally off the back of the Malian people."

Some material for this report was obtained

from Agence France Presse

 

 

DAKAR, SENEGAL — Mali's president-elect Ibrahim Boubacar Keita says he will reconcile, reunite and rebuild the country after 18 months of crisis and conflict. Keita doesn't take office for another two weeks, but his to-do list is already long and Malians are eager for results.

Ibrahim Boubacar Keita takes office September 4th on a tidal wave of popularity.

The one-time prime minister and former president of the National Assembly won the August 11th run-off election with 77 percent of votes.

In his first public declaration as president-elect, Keita said he would be the "president of all Malians."

"I will be the president of national reconciliation.  This reconciliation is necessary to deal with the demands of our people: to rebuild the state and the rule of law, to fix the army and the education system, to fight corruption and to foster economic and social development.  I will be the president to rebuild the nation," said the president-elect.

Keita said recently that it would be a "new era."  Even so, he is inheriting some hefty problems.

A Tuareg rebellion that began in  2012 is still rumbling in the far north.  Mali is now host to a massive U.N. mission to stabilize the north after a nine-month occupation by armed extremist groups who tried to set up their version of an Islamic state.

The leaders of the recent military coup in Mali are still lurking around the foreground in Bamako.  One of the final acts of the interim government was to promote coup leader Captain Amadou Sanogo to the rank of general.

Keita won the presidency thanks to a large and complex web of support from Muslim religious leaders, the military and most of his first-round rivals.  His campaign always maintained that Keita was not cutting deals in exchange for votes.

But analysts said it could be difficult to manage all those alliances once in office.  Malians are watching closely to see who Keita names to his cabinet.

Keita said recently his government would be a ‘meritocracy’, not one guided by political or family alliances. "Let me be clear.  There is no question of sharing out the cake.  I have not promised that and it will not happen," he said.

But actions speak louder than words, even the tough talk that Keita is known for. When asked what the country needed, voters often used the French verb "assainir," which means to flush out, to decontaminate, to clean up.  They wanted to see Keita tackle the root causes of the crisis.

At the top of that list were the pervasive corruption and patronage that analysts said undermined development, crippled the army and ultimately handed the north over to criminal and terrorist groups.

Keita has pledged "zero tolerance" for corruption, but analysts say he must prove it, and fast, by doing what previous governments in Mali have not - by investigating and punishing those embezzling public resources.  Something analysts say could be a hard pill to swallow for some of his political allies.

Security is the other key challenge.

Keita will have 60 days to open up what promises to be difficult negotiations with the armed Tuareg separatist group, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) and its allies in the far northern region of Kidal that launched an uprising in January of 2012 -  the fourth of its kind since Mali became a country in 1960.  Many say it is up to Keita to make it the last.

Political analyst Issa Ndiaye said, "it will be hard to get Malians to accept a special status for Kidal. The problems are not just in Kidal. We need to find a nationwide solution to implement an enhanced form of decentralization that allows local populations to make decisions about their lives, and in particular about the exploitation of natural resources."

Many Malians blame the MNLA for setting off the chain of events last year that saw the elected government toppled by unruly soldiers in the spring of this year and the north being taken over by Islamist militant groups just weeks later.

The nomadic Tuareg are a minority ethnic group in Mali's sparsely populated north.  Perceived privileges bestowed on ex-rebels under previous peace accords have bred resentment and perceptions of a kind of "positive discrimination" in favor of the Tuareg.

Those negotiations will be just one part of returning security and state authority to the formerly occupied north, where violence has forced hundreds of thousands to flee their homes and decimated the economy.