Category: World Politics

ICC Continues to Target Sudanese President

The Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court continues to target Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir. He accused him of siphoning off up to $9 billion of his country’s funds. Luis Moreno Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC previously charged Mr Bashir with crimes against humanity in March 2009 based on which the ICC issued an arrest warrant on Bashir, a working president of the independent sovereign country, Sudan.

BBC News reported that Moreno’s allegation of siphoning off funds had originally become knownOmar al-Bashir after Wikileaks revelation. He said the court had "strong reason to believe that Bashir has a lot of money" held in personal accounts outside Sudan – but that he could not be sure of the precise amount, with estimates ranging from hundreds of millions of dollars up to $9bn.

In the leaked diplomatic cable, US diplomats report Mr Ocampo as saying that "Lloyd’s Bank in London might be holding or knowledgeable of the whereabouts of his money". However, Lloyd’s has denied holding any funds in Mr Bashir’s name, and in his BBC interview, Mr Ocampo agreed that the money was not held in a London account.

Continue reading

U.S. gets tough to make Europe yield IMF power

Reuters | Aug 20, 2010 | 2:55pm IST

The United States has taken unprecedented action at the International Monetary Fund to try to force Europe to give some of its power on the IMF board to emerging economies. The United States, frustrated at Europe’s refusal to share more power, this month declined to back a resolution that would have maintained European dominance over the 24-member board, diplomats from several IMF members countries told Reuters. Washington has long pushed, unsuccessfully, to reduce the number of IMF board seats from 24 to 20 as part of broader reforms that would give rising economic powers a bigger say in IMF decisions, reflecting their growing global clout. Europe has balked at the idea of yielding the nine chairs it currently occupies on the board. Emerging economies like Turkey have expressed interest in a seat on the IMF board. European countries and the United States dominate the IMF in a reflection of the post-World War II order which is being challenged by the rise of nations such as China.

The board is one of the global lender’s main decision-making bodies. It has approved billions of dollars in emergency loans for countries hit by the global financial crisis and oversees the way the Fund is run. Domenico Lombardi, a former IMF board director, said the U.S. action, at an Aug. 6 meeting of the IMF board, reflected frustrations with Europe not only over Fund governance but on broader economic matters.Those issues include differences over new liquidity rules for global banks and Europe’s emphasis on fiscal austerity while Washington stresses the need to ensure economic recovery before belt tightening. The United States has not previously flexed its muscles in such an overt way. “Secretary (Timothy) Geithner supports reforming the IMF executive board to make it better reflect the realities of today’s global economy and ensure that the representation of emerging market and developing countries is strengthened,” a Treasury official said. Continue reading

Aid group doubts Afghan Taliban killed medical team

Reuters | Aug 9, 2010 | 7:24pm IST

An international Christian aid group on Monday played down claims by the Taliban they had killed 10 members from one of the group’s medical teams, saying it was still unclear who was responsible. Dirk Frans, executive director of the International Assistance Mission (IAM), also told a news conference that an Afghan driver who was with the team was in custody at the Interior Ministry in Kabul. He did did not say if the driver, identified only as Safiullah, was a suspect. “Safiullah is in Kabul at Ministry of Interior facilities,” Frans said, adding he had been able to speak with him briefly. “He sounded quite okay. He is one of the witnesses, he is not the only witness. I know his relatives have had access to him.” An Interior Ministry spokesman was not immediately available to comment.

Frans’s comments, casting doubt about whether the Taliban were behind the attack, were in contrast to a statement by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton which directly blamed the Islamist group for what she described as a “despicable act of wanton violence”. On Saturday, the Taliban claimed responsibility for Thursday’s killings, saying the medical workers had been carrying bibles in Dari — one of Afghanistan’s two main languages — and were killed because they were promoting Christianity. Another Islamist group also said it had carried out the attack. But Frans said local police had initially raised the possibility of bandits, adding the team’s valuables were stolen. “There are very confusing reports,” he said, adding both Afghan and U.S. authorities are investigating the incident. “If armed opposition claims an attack it is (usually) within hours of it happening. That was not the case this time,” Frans said, playing down the Taliban’s claim.  Continue reading

Mia Farrow contradicts Naomi Campbell at war crimes trial

Deutsche Welle | 09/08/2010

It may sound like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster, but the drama is being played out at a trial in The Hague against former Liberian president Charles Taylor. On Monday actress Mia Farrow gave evidence at the trial. US actress Mia Farrow testified on Monday that model Naomi Campbell said she got a “huge diamond” from men sent by former Liberian president Charles Taylor. Speaking before the court in The Hague, Farrow contradicted parts of evidence given by Campbell last week. “What I remember is Naomi Campbell … said that in the night she had been awakened, some men were knocking at the door,” Farrow said. “They had been sent by Charles Taylor and they were giving a huge diamond.” Naomi Campbell was pressed on this issue by the prosecution in court last week. Campbell said she had received some “dirty stones” after a dinner hosted by Nelson Mandela in South Africa in 1997, but she did not know who had sent them.

‘Dirty-looking stones’ or ‘a huge diamond’?

Prosecutors are trying to link Charles Taylor to so-called “blood diamonds,” illegal uncut diamonds used by rebel groups to finance wars. Naomi Campbell gave evidence at the trial last week. Taylor is accused of 11 charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s civil war. He denies the charges. Farrow was pressed by the prosecution over whose suggestion it was that Taylor was involved in presenting the supermodel with the diamonds. “Only hers [Campbell’s]. I didn’t know anything about it,” Farrow replied.  Continue reading

EXCLUSIVE – Fight between U.S. and Brazil threatens trade (A must read)

EXCLUSIVE – Fight between U.S. and Brazil threatens trade | Reuters  Aug 5, 2010 | 6:00pm IST

The road to rock bottom for relations between Brazil and the United States, a dispute that now threatens business ties between the two Western Hemisphere economic giants, began in Brasilia in March. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was trying to convince Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to drop or postpone his controversial efforts to negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran, and support a new round of sanctions instead. Lula refused. Then, he dropped a diplomatic bombshell, telling Clinton he was worried Iran would become another Iraq — that is, that the United States was on a path to war, according to sources familiar with the exchange. Clinton bristled, replying that Lula wasn’t taking into account the fact that Barack Obama was now president, rather than George W. Bush, the sources said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the talks. The meeting ended badly. Two months later, Lula was standing in Tehran alongside Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, trumpeting a fuel swap deal for Iran’s nuclear program — an agreement that was immediately ignored by the United States and most other major world powers, who pursued sanctions anyway. Today, the fallout from Iran remains worse than either side will acknowledge publicly.

Brazilian officials complain in private that their good-faith efforts to broker a peace deal were brushed aside, with little regard for Brazil’s status as an emerging power. Meanwhile, officials in Washington are angry that an ostensible regional ally interfered on an issue they feel is one of the biggest long-term threats to global security. The bottom line, and the issue of most concern to investors, is that there is now a real risk of a longer-term drift between Brazil and the United States that could have a negative effect on bilateral trade and business. “I worry about it,” Representative Eliot Engel, the Democratic chairman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs subcommittee that covers Latin America, said in an interview. “I think it’s Lula’s policy to try and push the countries apart. He wants the U.S. to be less influential.” Nerves between the two countries were already raw following other disputes including a narrowly averted trade war this spring over U.S. cotton subsidies; differences over the handling of last year’s coup in Honduras; and the disappointing outcome of the climate summit in Copenhagen in December. The clashes have been especially disappointing since both sides had anticipated improved ties under Obama, who made a point of fawning over Lula last year, calling him “my man” and “the most popular politician on earth.” These days, an upper-level source in Brasilia described the chill in bilateral ties this way: “They’re in the freezer.”   Continue reading

Kuwait ‘deports supporters of Mohamed ElBaradei’

BBC NEWS | 2010/04/11 | 17:32:40 GMT

Kuwait has deported at least 21 followers of Egypt’s high-profile opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, human rights groups say. Another 20 or so are still being held in Kuwait, according to colleagues of Mr ElBaradei in Egypt. Mr ElBaradei, a former chief of the International Atomic Energy Association, is an emerging contender to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mr Mubarak has been in power for almost three decades.

According to Human Rights Watch, Kuwait’s interior minister Sheikh Jaber al-Sabah said the Egyptians had assembled without permission and had criticised the Egyptian president. It is rare for Kuwait to deport expatriates for political activities.

Global air industry sees recovery but not this year

Reuters | Singapore | Wed Feb 3, 2010 | 2:55pm IST

The global economy may be climbing out of recession but the air transport industry does not expect any significant pick up in orders this year, executives said on Wednesday. “Cautious optimism” is the dominant phrase at the Singapore Airshow this week, the first major industry event of the year after a wretched 2009, when aircraft orders at both Boeing and Airbus were the worst in 15 years. Amid a dearth of orders at the air show, both manufacturers said demand was likely to remain more or less flat in 2010. But there were some spots of good news elsewhere. Brazil’s Embraer said it hoped to better the 2009 sales of 30 jets, but would fall short of the 100 sold in 2008. Bell Helicopter, a unit of Textron Inc, said it saw revenue climbing around 16 percent this year, backed by strong demand by the U.S. military for its craft.

“Generally we see 2010 as the year of economic recovery and 2011 a year where airlines recover to profitability and as a result of that (we see) an increase in demand for airplanes in 2012,” said Randy Tinseth, vice president of marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. Boeing had gross orders from airlines for 263 planes in 2009, but net orders of 142 planes after cancellations. Airbus had gross orders of 310      Continue reading