With Washington Eavesdropping on Brazil, France, Germany … leaders … political and financial … it is strange to talk of united democracies. A Greenwald release that brings to nil the recent Rousseff visit to the White House.
By Glenn Greenwald and David Miranda, The Intercept
04 July 15 – reported by RSN
Top secret data from the National Security Agency, shared with The Intercept by WikiLeaks, reveals that the U.S. spy agency targeted the cellphones and other communications devices of more than a dozen top Brazilian political and financial officials, including the country’s president Dilma Rousseff, whose presidential plane’s telephone was on the list. President Rousseff just yesterday returned to Brazil after a trip to the U.S. that included a meeting with President Obama, a visit she had delayed for almost two years in anger over prior revelations of NSA spying on Brazil.
That Rousseff’s personal cell phone was successfully targeted by NSA spying was previously reported in 2013 by Fantastico, a program on the Brazilian television network Globo Rede. That revelation – along with others exposing NSA mass surveillance on hundreds of millions of Brazilians, and the targeting of the country’s state-owned oil company Petrobras and its Ministry of Mines and Energy – caused a major rupture in relations between the two nations. But Rouseff is now suffering from severe domestic weakness as a result of various scandals and a weak economy, and apparently could no longer resist the perceived benefits of a high-profile state visit to Washington.
But these new revelations extend far beyond the prior ones and are likely to reinvigorate tensions. Beyond Rousseff, the new NSA target list includes some of Brazil’s most important political and financial figures, such as the Finance Ministry’s Executive Secretary Nelson Barbosa; Luiz Awazu Pereira da Silva, a top official with Brazil’s Central Bank; Luiz Eduardo Melin de Carvalho e Silva, former Chief of Staff to the Finance Minister; the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s chief of economics and finance, Luis Antônio Balduíno Carneiro; former Foreign Affairs Minister and Ambassador to the U.S. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado; and Antonio Palocci, who formerly served as both Dilma’s Chief of Staff and Finance Minister under former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Most notable about the list, published simultaneously by WikiLeaks, is the predominance of officials responsible for Brazil’s financial and economic matters (last four digits of the listed telephone numbers are redacted; click to enlarge):
NSA list covering the high priority targets in Brazil. (photo: The Intercept)
Next to each name on the list, there are codes which indicate the purpose of the surveillance and the group of analysts within NSA responsible for it. The codes appear under under the column entitled “TOPI,” which stands for “Target Office of Primary Interest.”
Alongside most of the government officials’ phone numbers is the designator “S2C42,” a reference to an NSA unit that focuses on intelligence collected from Brazil’s political leadership. The same code was seen in the previously reported document revealing NSA’s targeting of Dilma’s cellphone:
But even more revealing on this new list is the designation next to several of the targeted officials responsible for financial and economic issues. Many of these individuals have a different code next to their phone number – S2C51 – which refers to NSA’s “international financial policy branch.” Brazilians are particularly sensitive to economic espionage by the U.S., both for historical reasons (as a hallmark of American imperialism and domination on the continent) and due to current economic concerns (for that reason, the story of NSA’s targeting of Petrobras was arguably the most consequential of all prior surveillance stories).
Several Brazilian officials expressed anger over the latest revelations. Gilberto Carvalho, former Chief of Staff to Lula and a top aide to Dilma, harshly denounced the spying in an interview with the Intercept. He described his reaction as “maximum indignation,” declaring it a “violation of Brazilian sovereignty” which the U.S. “does not have the right to do.” Carvalho added that the fact that Brazil “is trying to repair our relationship with the U.S. does not in any way diminish the gravity of these new revelations.”
For his part, the Central Bank’s Pereira da Silva said his reaction is to fully embrace the stinging denunciation of NSA’s electronic surveillance contained in Dilma’s September, 2013 United Nations speech, delivered while Obama waited in the hallway to speak. That blistering speech was widely regarded in Brazil as a high point of Dilma’s leadership on the world stage.
Speaking from the General Assembly podium, she declared that “tampering in such a manner in the affairs of other countries is a breach of international law and is an affront of the principles that must guide the relations among them, especially among friendly nations.” She condemned U.S. mass surveillance as a “grave violation of human rights and of civil liberties” and, in a rare invocation of her own personal history as a rebel against the country’s oppressive military dictatorship, said: “As many other Latin Americans, I fought against authoritarianism and censorship, and I cannot but defend, in an uncompromising fashion, the right to privacy of individuals and the sovereignty of my country. In the absence of the right to privacy, there can be no true freedom of expression and opinion, and therefore no effective democracy.”
Other Brazilian targets on the newly released NSA list include the long-time diplomat and author André Amado, as well as a current official with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Fernando Meirelles de Azevedo Pimentel. It also includes the “cell” numbers for several of the key targets along with their office numbers. And it lists the Brazilian ambassadors in Paris, Berlin and Geneva, with the official “residence” of the latter targeted.
Questions submitted to NSA were not answered by the time of publication. Prior to the disclosure about its spying on Petrobras, the NSA insisted to the Washington Post that (emphasis in original) “the department does ***not*** engage in economic espionage in any domain, including cyber.” In response to the Petrobras report, however, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said that “it is not a secret that the Intelligence Community collects information about economic and financial matters” but claimed that it does not “use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies.”
The list obtained by The Intercept from WikiLeaks is extracted from an NSA database. Dates that appear on it indicate that the eavesdropping on several of the officials began in early 2011, but others were first targeted in 2010 while Lula, Rousseff’s predecessor, was still President. There is no indication that the surveillance has stopped. Rather than a one-time document created on a single day, the list appears to be an aggregate list of targets continually compiled and updated by the NSA. Last week, WikiLeaks released similar documents showing surveillance of French and German political and financial officials, and that spying took place over many years.
The real purpose of the Dilma Rousseff mission to the US was to help undo the effects of the US spying activities against her that caused her to cancel the official State dinner the US had planned for her October 2013.
By the end of the second day of the Dilma Rousseff mission to the US – it becomes clear that the Brazilian President had the upper hand, and this was about overcoming the repugnant fact that under this US President US agencies spied on the President of Brazil by hacking into her private phones and mail.
For one thing, Brazil wins now the right again to export its beef to the US, and there was also some mention of Brazil-US cooperation on Climate Change — though this was much less at the forefront as we wished to see it.
REUTERS – Politics | Tue Jun 30, 2015 6:30pm EDT
WASHINGTON | By Roberta Rampton and Idrees Ali
President Barack Obama and Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff used a White House visit on Tuesday to turn the page on a spying scandal that had damaged bilateral relations and said they want to work to bolster economic ties.
“The change is particularly due to the fact that President Obama and the U.S. government have stated on several occasions that they would no longer engage in intrusive acts of spying on friendly countries. I believe President Obama,” Rousseff said.
Obama greeted Rousseff with a warm hug when she arrived in Washington on Monday, taking her for an impromptu visit to a memorial for civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. before a working dinner.
The president and visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff sought Tuesday to cast their nations as “natural partners” collaborating closely on critical issues like climate and regional diplomacy, glossing over recent tensions over spying that have strained relations between the U.S. and Brazil.
By JOSH LEDERMAN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Two years after revelations about U.S. spying frayed ties between their countries, President Barack Obama and visiting Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff publicly closed that chapter Tuesday, declaring that the relationship between the U.S. and Brazil is on an upward swing.
Rousseff canceled a 2013 visit to Washington in the wake of National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden’s disclosures that the U.S. had intercepted her emails and phone calls, and U.S. leaders have been working to repair the damage ever since. On Tuesday, the two leaders were all smiles in the East Room of the White House, trading bets about the 2016 Summer Olympics, to be held in Rio de Janeiro.
“I trust her completely,” Obama rejoined.
Both leaders acknowledged that the NSA leaks had strained the relationship between two of the hemisphere’s largest powers. Even still, Rousseff said the conditions today are different than they were in 2013, noting that Obama has since told her that should he ever need confidential information about Brazil, he’ll pick up the phone and call her directly.
“Countries do go through crises and difficulties. It’s just natural,” Rousseff said through a translator.
Aiming to move past those difficulties, Obama and Rousseff put a spotlight on areas of growing cooperation between the U.S. and Brazil as she wrapped up her two-day visit to the White House. The leaders touted a recent defense agreement as well as a U.S. decision Monday to begin allowing fresh beef imports from all 14 of Brazil’s states — a longstanding Brazilian request.
Yet the capstone of the attempt to show common cause was a joint announcement on climate change, an issue Rousseff deemed “one of the central challenges of the 21st century.”
Brazil pledged to curb illegal deforestation and expand renewable energy use as it gears up to unveil its contribution to a global climate treaty that Obama has been championing and world leaders expect to finalize this year. Although the announcement stopped short of a commitment to bring deforestation down to zero, as many environmentalists wanted, the pledge offered some of the first signs of how Brazil intends to curb its greenhouse gas emissions as part of the treaty.
The South American nation also vowed to restore and reforest 12 million hectares — an area roughly the size of England — by 2030. About three-quarters of Brazil’s greenhouse gas emissions come from destruction in the Amazon rainforest, which acts as a giant absorber of carbon dioxide.
Both the U.S. and Brazil announced plans to increase the share of renewable, non-hydropower electricity sources to 20 percent by 2030. That will require tripling the amount of renewable energy on the U.S. electricity grid, while doubling it in Brazil. The White House said it was counting on gains from Obama’s controversial power plant emission rules to meet the new goal.
From its inception on Monday with a visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, Rousseff’s stay in Washington appeared designed to show that the U.S. and Brazil were no longer saddled by the spying flap that drew headlines and outrage from Brazilian lawmakers in 2013 and 2014.
Rousseff had been scheduled to be honored with a state dinner in October 2013, an honor meant to demonstrate the growing importance of Latin America’s largest nation and a particular nod to Rousseff, who adopted a friendlier foreign policy toward the U.S. than her predecessor when she took office in 2001.
28 June 2015: Ministers from the four BASIC (Brazil, South Africa, India and China) countries convened for the group’s 20th Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change to discuss: the outcomes of the previous sessions of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP); the upcoming sessions of the ADP; and the elements of the expected Paris Agreement.
The 20th BASIC Ministerial Meeting on Climate Change was held at the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the UN in New York, US, on 27-28 June 2015. In a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting, BASIC Ministers welcome: the convening of the High Level Event on Climate Change by the President of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) on 29 June 2015; the outcome of Lima Climate Change Conference in 2014; and the work of the Peruvian Presidency.
They further: commit to work constructively to ensure a successful outcome at the Paris Climate Change Conference in December 2015; reaffirm that the ADP process and outcome should be guided by, and be in accordance with, the Convention; and express appreciation for the progress achieved in the recent ADP sessions, but stress the need to accelerate the pace of negotiations.
Ministers underscore the need for the Paris Agreement to: address, in a balanced manner, mitigation, adaptation, finance, capacity building, technology development and transfer, transparency of action and support; not solely focus on mitigation; provide a framework for Parties to enhance actions to limit warming to below 2 degree Celsius and enable adaptation; and include comprehensive contributions that will be nationally determined and reflect each Party’s highest possible effort, in accordance with its common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities (CBDR).
They call for the upcoming ADP negotiations to focus on the core provisions to be included in a protocol, another legal instrument or agreed outcome with legal force under the Convention. They highlight that the streamlined negotiating text being prepared by the ADP Co-Chairs should be concise, including all core elements of the Durban mandate, and that COP decisions should detail the agreement’s provisions, including modalities and technical aspects.
Ministers consider that ambition and effectiveness will be achieved by maintaining differentiation among developed and developing countries in the agreement. They call on developed countries to provide new, additional, predictable, adequate and sustained public support to enhance actions by developing countries, and for the Paris agreement to establish a link between developing countries’ actions and the scale of finance, technology and capacity building support.
On pre-2020 ambition (or workstream 2), they stress that: the pre-2020 ambition gap shall be primarily addressed through the implementation of the 2nd commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol and the outcome of the Bali Action Plan; and that developed countries’ current emission reduction, financial and technological commitments are inadequate. They support the call by the G77 and China for the ADP Co-Chairs to prepare an inclusive paper as a starting point for the discussions under Workstream 2 at the next ADP session in August-September 2015.
They express disappointment over the lack of a clear roadmap for developed countries to provide USD 100 billion per year by 2020, as well as on substantially scaling up financial support after 2020. Ministers also underlined that domestic preparations for their respective intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) are at an advanced stage and will reflect their “utmost efforts towards the objective of the Convention.”
The 21st BASIC Ministerial Meeting will be hosted by China in the second semester of 2015. [Joint Statement of BASIC Ministers]
read more: climate-l.iisd.org/news/basic-min…
29 June 2015: “We must act with courage,” UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Sam Kutesa told UN Member States gathered at the High-Level Event on Climate Change he hosted. He called for “bold, collective action” to “reverse the current trends and preserve our planet.” The High-Level Event was convened at the midpoint between the 20th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 20) to the UNFCCC and COP 21, and aimed to provide political momentum for an ambitious climate agreement.
Held on 29 June 2015, in New York, US, the High-Level Event also featured remarks from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who called climate change and sustainable development “two sides of the same coin” that are being addressed by “two mutually reinforcing agendas.”
Also addressing the links between these agendas, Kutesa stressed that 2015 is a critical year, “when the world’s attention is focused on the future,” adding that “a successful outcome at COP 21 will send a resounding message that the well-being of the planet must go hand-in-hand with development efforts.”
Both Ban and Kutesa focused on the building blocks, such as intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) and finance, needed to achieve an ambitious agreement and commended large emitters for coming forward with commitments. Noting some controversial issues remain to be resolved ahead of COP 21, Kutesa said “a successful outcome can be reached if all Parties engage constructively and with flexibility.” Ban reminded that the agreement must not be an “end point,” but rather a “turning point” in how the world collectively acts to address climate change.
UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres also spoke at the event, asserting that “Never before has it been so evident that we can address both climate change and sustainable development with the same measures,” and urging negotiators to show leadership to “create jobs, ensure energy access, safeguard food and water, improve health and protect economic and social stability for the future.”
After the opening session, two high-level panel discussions were held. The first consisted of two segments, moderated by UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Achim Steiner and Global Commission on the Economy and Climate Chair Felipe Calderón, respectively. It focused on mobilizing political momentum for ambitious actions on mitigation, adaptation and means of implementation (MOI). Panelists discussed: equity; differentiation; renewable energy development; scaling action under current commitments; China’s green development strategy; anti-poverty efforts; transparency; and adequacy of support.
The second panel, on mobilizing stakeholders for ambitious actions on mitigation, adaptation and MOI, addressed the US$100 billion goal, private sector perspectives, land restoration for food security and increased resilience and falling costs of renewables. Green Climate Fund (GCF) Executive Director Héla Cheikhrouhou and Global Environment Facility (GEF) CEO Naoko Ishii spoke on the financing efforts their institutions are undertaking. Cheikhrouhou urged “significant, predictable funding” for the GCF, saying it “can play a key role in driving the transition to climate-resilient and low emission societies.”
Kutesa intends to circulate a President’s summary of the High-Level Event to all Member States and other stakeholders. The event will reconvene for its closing session on 30 June 2015. [High-Level Event on Climate Change Webpage] [UNGA President Opening Statement] [UN Press Release] [UNFCCC Press Release] [UNFCCC Executive Secretary Remarks] [GCF Executive Director Remarks] [UNEP Press Release] [UN Meeting Summary]
read more: climate-l.iisd.org/news/unga-hold…
President of Brazil, Ms. Dilma Rouseff, comes to the US with 11 members of her cabinet in order to promote investment in infrastructure projects in Brazil. By the way she will meet President Obama and they will talk also about Paris 2015 and the Global Futures.
The US and Brazil are about equal in size, in numbers of citizens, in economic potential, and in post colonial history. While the US was dependent on England and became part of an Anglo-American Trans-Atlantic culture, Brazil was dependent on Portugal but did develop its own Southern Hemisphere culture. Today the US is the Global economic leader that is destined to share this space with a rising China – Brazil is the Global sixth largest economy and China is its largest trade partner.
The US and Brazil have clashed on many issues because of US government and industry intrusion in Brazil’s affairs. One result is that Brazil suffers from an oil industry Malaise like the US does – while like the US it could actually make itself independent of the use of oil. Now, Petrobras, has become a source of large problems for the Brazilian President and a damper on the visit of Brazil’s President that came to the US with 11 of her cabinet ministers. Five of them sat on the stage when she summarized yesterday a meeting with potential investors in Brazil’s infrastructure. She then flew to Washington to meet President Obama in a private visit followed today with a joint visit to the Reverend Martin Luther King memorial, and a non-State-Dinner. She then continues to San Francisco for further business meetings.
We expected joint statements in view of the fact that Brazil is a leader on the introduction of Sustainable Development to the lingo of the Environment and Development. This might yet come today after having been hammered out between her Minister of the Environment and the Head of the US EPA. We will deal with this when it comes. As for now – we just bring here published various expectations from different points of view. We would like to see a better alignment of the Obama Administration with this most significant State of the Western Hemisphere.
President Barack Obama talks with President Dilma Rousseff of Brazil as they tour the Martin Luther King Memorial in Washington, D.C., June 29, 2015. (Official White House)
10:15 AM: The President holds a bilateral meeting with President Rousseff; the Vice President will also attend
12:05 PM: The President and President Rousseff hold a joint press conference WATCH LIVE – White House Snapshot <email@example.com> for June 30, 2015. We assume this was followed by lunch.
Politics – PBS – Rundown
BY Darlene Superville and Adriana Gomez Licon, Associated Press June 29, 2015 at 12:05 PM EDT
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff meets with business leaders in New York Monday during a visit to the United States.
“They are putting behind the Edward Snowden affair,” said Michael Shifter, president of the Inter-American Dialogue. “The meeting is to create good atmosphere, a good mood, establish communication and get the relationship back on solid footing.”
Obama and Rousseff will meet for a private dinner Monday evening, and then hold more formal talks and a joint news conference on Tuesday.
Countries are making their positions on climate change clear ahead of the Paris talks. The U.S. already has announced a 2025 deadline to reduce emissions of heat-trapping gases by 26 percent to 28 percent below 2005 levels.
Brazil’s first female president started her second term in January — Vice President Joe Biden attended her inauguration — but she since has been weighed down by low approval ratings, her country’s poor economic performance and a massive corruption scandal involving Petrobras, a state-owned oil company. Tens of thousands of Brazilians filled streets across the country earlier this year to protest her leadership.
Carlos Eduardo de Freitas, an economist and former Central Bank executive director, said the White House meeting may invigorate Brazil as it seeks to cut down government spending to avoid being shunned in credit markets. Rousseff is traveling with 11 cabinet members and met with Brazilian businessmen and U.S. investment fund managers and government officials in New York to discuss infrastructure before arriving in Washington.
“The government needs to unshackle its economy,” Freitas said.
The timing of Rousseff’s trip was settled months ago; Obama announced it when the two met on the sidelines of a summit in Panama in April. But for Rousseff, being seen warmly received by an American president coming off one of the best weeks of his time in office could help her back home.
Since Rousseff is not on a state visit, she will not receive a welcome ceremony on the White House South Lawn or be celebrated with the formal State Dinner.
The Wall Street Journal – World – Latin America
Brazil’s President Seeks Investment During U.S. Visit
NEW YORK—This week’s meeting of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington is expected to be short on splashy announcements, but it could go a long way to healing a breach between the leaders of the hemisphere’s two largest economies.
U.S.-Brazilian relations have been frosty since 2013, when leaked National Security Agency files revealed that the U.S. had spied on Brazil. Ms. Rousseff’s decision…
REUTERS Commodities | Mon Jun 29, 2015 9:13pm BST
By Daniel Bases
(Reuters) – Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff on Monday drew on her own experience as a political prisoner during the country’s dictatorship to denounce informants in a corruption scandal that has pummeled her popularity.
Rousseff also forcefully denied her campaign had received illegal donations originating from the scandal, which involves kickbacks allegedly paid by construction companies to politicians and former executives at state-run oil firm Petrobras.
Speaking to journalists in New York, Rousseff contrasted her experience in jail in the early 1970s opposing Brazil’s dictatorship with that of informants cooperating with prosecutors investigating the Petrobras scandal.
“I do not respect informants because I know, I was jailed in the dictatorship and they tried to turn me into one,” she said following a speech to investors focused on infrastructure projects. As a young Marxist, Rousseff was jailed, hung upside down and tortured with electric shocks.
Many of the key informants in the Petrobras corruption scandal have turned state’s witness after serving lengthy pre-trial jail terms.
Rousseff spoke after Veja magazine reported on Friday that Ricardo Pessoa, an executive linked to the scandal, had said in plea bargain testimony that part of the money resulting from the overpricing of contracts was donated to the campaigns of several politicians, including for Rousseff’s 2014 re-election.
Pessoa, the head of Brazilian construction firm UTC Engenharia, is under house arrest. He was jailed last year and prosecutors say he may have led the cartel. Veja did not say how it obtained the details of his testimony.
Rousseff has denied knowing about corruption at Petroleo Brasileiro SA, or Petrobras, when she chaired its board from 2003 to 2010, when much of the alleged graft occurred.
The nine prosecutors who brought the case are known as “The Untouchables” in a country where the elite has enjoyed impunity. But defense lawyers have criticized their practice of combining preventive detention and plea bargaining, calling it coercion.
Monday was the first time Rousseff addressed Pessoa’s testimony, though her Communications Minister Edinho Silva said on Friday that 7.5 million reais donated by Pessoa to Rousseff’s 2014 campaign were legal and approved by electoral authorities. Silva was Rousseff’s campaign treasurer.
Rousseff’s chief of staff, Aloizio Mercadante, also denied donations made to him in 2010 by companies owned by Pessoa were linked to kickbacks.
Workers’ Party Treasurer Joao Vaccari was arrested in April and will stand trial for corruption. (Writing by Walter Brandimarte and Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Mary Milliken and Christian Plumb)
UPDATE 3-Brazil’s Petrobras slashes spending to cut debt, restore confidence |30 Jun
From: Jeff Huffines
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2015 1:15 – 2:45 pm UN HQ NYC – Room 1
TeleConference 712 432 1500 Access Code 972978#
For those without a UN Pass – TO GET ACCESS TO THE UN – RSVP COMMONACTIONUN at gmail.com
my correspondence with Kaveh following RIO II
It came up when I googled for Ahmad Fawzi in pursuit of content for another article – and decided that this was an exchange in 2012 that has renewed value today.
Afrasiabi gained a PhD in Political Science from Boston University in 1988, under the supervision of Professor Howard Zinn, with a thesis titled “State and Populism in Iran.”
Afrasiabi has taught political science at the University of Tehran, Boston University, and Bentley University. Afrasiabi has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University (1989-1990), University of California, Berkeley (2000-2001), Binghamton University (2001-2002) and the Center for Strategic Research, Tehran. During 2004-2005, Afrasiabi was involved in Iran as an advisor to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.
Afrasiabi is a former consultant to the United Nations “Dialogue Among Civilizations”, for which he interviewed the former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami.
Afrasiabi is a member of the advisory board of the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran. Afrasiabi has authored numerous articles in scholarly journals and newspapers, including Harvard Theological Review, Harvard International Review, UN Chronicle, Boston Globe, Global Dialogue, Middle East Journal, Mediterranean Affairs, Brown’s Journal of World Affairs, International Herald Tribune, Der Tageszeit, Der Tagesspiegel, Journal of International Affairs, Telos, Nation Magazine, Asia times, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Monthly Review, as well as dozens of articles and letters in The New York Times. Afrasiabi has made dozens of television appearances as a Middle East expert on CNN, Aljazeera, Voice of America, PBS, BBC, PressTV, Russia Today, and other networks.
Selected works by Afrasiabi:
A Controversy with Harvard that blew out of proportion in Boston:
Afrasiabi v. Mottahedeh
From 1996 to 2003, Afrasiabi was involved in a legal conflict with Roy Mottahedeh, former director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University, who had been his superior during Afrasiabi’s time as a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, and Harvard University itself.
The conflict started with an alleged extortion against Mottahedeh’s subordinates and a “pre-dawn” arrest of Afrasiabi by Harvard police, and terminated in 2003 with a civil rights case against Harvard, Mottahedeh and the Supreme Court of the United States, in which Afrasiabi acted as his own attorney. During associated controversies, Afrasiabi was supported by Mike Wallace of the US television program 60 Minutes, author David Mamet, linguist Noam Chomsky, and political scientist Howard Zinn, and former deputy prime minister of Iran, Farhang Mehr. In a video deposition, Mr. Wallace has defended Afrasiabi and accused professor Mottahedeh of making false statements to him about Afrasiabi. His “David and Goliath” battle with Harvard has been praised by Mike Wallace, who has stated “I admire Dr. Afrasiabi. He has been wronged. The cannons of Harvard are lined up against a pea shooter.”
June 2010 incident
On June 27, 2010, Afrasiabi went to the Zuzu restaurant in Cambridge, Massachusetts. According to Afrasiabi, employees there showed “racist and indecent behavior” and “treated him unprofessionally”, after which he exited the restaurant without finishing his meal nor paying for it. He approached some police standing nearby. A restaurant employee approached the police. The police then arrested Afrasiabi, on the basis of an outstanding warrant. Afrasiabi claims the warrant was issued in error, based on a 1986 unregistered vehicle incident, for which he had already paid the fines. The police claim it originated from an incident in 1999. Afrasiabi described the arrest taking place with “a racist attitude.” While in custody, Afrasiabi claims that he was denied the right to a telephone call to contact his family and/or a lawyer. He said that the police officers were racist and brutal, stating, “If I had blond hair and blue eyes and had an American-sounding last name, no, I wouldn’t have been subjected to this. They did this to me because they’re racist.”
In July 2010, Afrasiabi filed a formal complaint against Cambridge police alleging racism and physical injury in the hands of Cambridge police, who placed him under arrest after he had approached them to complain of being mistreated at a restaurant. The basis for his arrest was an outstanding warrant for a 1986 ticket, which Afrasiabi claimed to have paid at the time. A judge in Newton, Massachusetts agreed with Afrasiabi and dismissed the warrant without imposing any fines. Afrasiabi has alleged that while being transported to a court the next day, he was deliberately injured when the police van slammed the break after driving in full speed, resulting in Afrasiabi’s multiple visits to hospitals. The Cambridge police initially claimed that Afrasiabi had walked out of a restaurant without paying and then changed their story, deleting any reference to the restaurant. In a letter to The Cambridge Chronicle, Afrasiabi has demanded an apology from the police for what he alleges is their racist and brutal mistreatment of him.
Upton, Geoffrey C. (1996-02-08). “Former Post-Doc Will Stand Trial; Afrasiabi Denies Extortion Charge, Cites ‘Mind-Blowing Conspiracy’”. Harvard University. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
Fathi, Nazila (2004-11-28). “Iran Reasserts Its Right to Enrich Uranium as Standoff Persists”. The New York Times.
Khatami, Mohammad; Kaveh L. Afrasiabi (2006-09-11). “Mohammad Khatami on the Dialogue Among Civilizations”. United Nations. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
Afrasiabi, Kaveh L. (2005-02-17). “A letter to America”. Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-03.
“KAVEH L. AFRASIABI, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. HARVARD UNIVERSITY; HARVARD UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; RICHARD W. MEDEROS; FRANCIS RILEY; LAUREEN DONAHUE; CENTER FOR MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES; ROY P. MOTTAHEDEH; REZA ALAVI and SHOBHANA RANA, Defendants, Appellees.”. United States Court of Appeals. 2002-07-01. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-06-04.
“Between Mike Wallace and Me”.
“The David Mamet Society”.
“Reading Kafka at Harvard”.
“Abused scholar: US police conspiring against me”. Press TV. 2010-07-01. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
Guha, Auditi; Jen Thomas (2010-07-08). “Iranian pundit claims ‘police brutality’ in Cambridge”. Cambridge Chronicle. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
“Veteran Iranian-American Professor Talks of US Police Brutality Against Him”. Hamsayeh.Net. 2010-07-02. Archived from the original on 2010-07-11. Retrieved 2010-07-10.
So, of real interest is:
Kaveh L. Afrasiabi | Al Jazeera America
and my answer:
Real fast answer – as you can see from my website – I do not shy away from the two countries you mention – an ALBA button is right there in front of my website. Having made that remark – I would suggest that specifically these two countries would be best advised to keep out of the limelight.
For AlLBA – it is Ecuador with some help from Argentina and Chile – that speaks up and that is perfect.
Then, for the best of the countries in trouble spoke recently Bangladesh, Fiji, Grenada, Costa Rica, even Mexico.
Subjects like the issue of going to the International Court of Justice for transnational pollution and climate change, and the effects on the poorest countries – these are subjects that can make a splash.
Also, backing A SMALL OFFICE of a UN Commissioner for Future Generations and the need to do away with the GDP as yardstick for Growth, and some reference to Well Being and Happiness that are not based on consumption (the Bhutan concept) are good topics where your two named countries could be seconds if someone else leeds.
Bolivia has done very well in the past by pushing the Pacha Mama, but Iran has never understood that it had a great pre-Islamic past and thus failed to establish real leadership of any kind.
While Bolivia’s problem is that it pushed too hard, Iran’ problem is that it did not push at all its culture of the past and militancy is not what the UN is about. In both cases what I really talk about – is a real push of culture for the 21-st century.
and the third round of that day:
From Kaveh Afrasiabi to me:
How about int environmental court championed by morales?
and my answer:
I really think now that I gave you enough, and basically – all that material is indeed on my web because these are the things that made me decide to keep the site going. In my book – Copenhagen was the last place that saw progress – and that was thanks to Obama who brought in the Chinese for the first time, and they brought in the IBSA as well.
Many thanks i will quote you in my piece and send y link
and the following day:
I have a small book on un reform it s’at un bookshop. Fyi
Having found this by accident, I intend now to restart that contact
Brazil steps into the Solar Age by giving out contracts for 31 Solar Parks. This because of ongoing Draught that harmed its hydropower base. These Solar Plants will deliver by 2017 at a $1.67 billion investment..
Brazil finally entered the solar power sector on Friday, granting contracts for the construction of 31 solar parks as it tries to diversify its sources of generation amid an energy crisis caused by the worst drought in eight decades.
“This auction is a mark, not only because it signals the entrance of solar power in the Brazilian energy mix, but because it was one of the most competitive to date,” said Mauricio Tolmasquim, head of the government’s energy research company, EPE.
The auction lasted more than eight hours. The final price for solar power came at around 220 reais ($89) per megawatt-hour, against an initial price of 262 reais ($106), an 18 percent discount.
“This is one of the lowest prices for solar energy in the world,” Tolmasquim said.
According to Tolmasquim, costs were reduced because of the strong solar radiation factor in Brazil and because many solar parks would be installed in areas that already have wind farms, reducing the amount developers would spend on land and transmission lines.
In Brazil’s power auctions, the government sets a maximum price for the megawatt-hour and companies bid down the price at which they are willing to sell energy. Companies that offer the lowest prices win the contracts.
Solar power developers have participated in previous auctions, but because they were competing against cheaper sources, such as wind and hydroelectric plants, they never succeeded in winning contracts.
This time, the government allocated a specific amount of energy to be produced by solar parks, trying to spur development of a local industry and in the long term reduce costs for projects, as it did with wind power some years ago.
Brazil’s power system has traditionally been composed by a network of large hydro power plants, but almost three years of well below-average rains have depleted reservoirs and sent the country scrambling to diversify its energy matrix.
An expensive, fossil-fueled emergency network of thermal power plants has shored up supply, but at the cost of tarnishing the country’s reputation as a renewable energy producer and consumer.
The government has been criticized by environmental groups for taking so long to enlist solar power in its energy matrix, because of Brazil’s excellent potential for solar.
Change in Climate, Environment, Industry, Consumption & Production etc., Does Not Just Happen – A Training Course of the Al Gore Corps will be held in Rio de Janeiro November 4-6 2014: You can Apply to The Brazil Climate Reality Leadership Training.
With the World Cup out of the way – Brazil, Argentina and Germany better advised to descend from the clouds to real life normalcy. Germany will not rule the World even though they won against both Soccer Crown States – Brazil and Argentina after eliminating first their Francophone opponents.
As reported by Irith Jawetz from the Vienna Seminar., July 1, 2014.
Seminar: “Brazil’s Nuclear Kaleidoscope: An Evolving Identity.”
On Tuesday, July 1, 2014, The Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP) hosted a seminar by Dr. Todzan Kassenova, that had the above title. It was both – important and informative.
Dr. Kassenova is an Associate in the Nuclear Program at the Carnegie Endowment based in Washington DC.
Prior to joining the Carnegie Endowment, Dr. Kassenova worked as senior research associate at the Center for International Trade and Security in Washington DC, as a postdoctoral fellow at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and as an Adjunct faculty member at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Previously she was a journalist and professor in her native Kazakhstan.
Today’s seminar focused on Dr. Kassenova’s recently published a research paper on this topic – on which she worked for two years – it focuses on focusing on Brazil’s Nuclear program.
In order to do some justice to that very involved topic, we would just highlight a few points from that research study.
An important point Dr. Kassenova stressed at the very beginning of her talk was that negative past experiences explain why Brazil seeks nuclear independence. Brazil tried first to obtain nuclear technology from abroad, i.e. France, Germany, the USA, prompting Brasilia to develop domestic capabilities.
Currently Brazil mines uranium, produces nuclear fuel, operates two nuclear power plants and is building a third.
The Brazilian navy is important in the nuclear field as well, it developed uranium conversion and enrichment technology, and since the 1970s has been working on a nuclear powered submarine.
The nuclear submarine program is essential in order to protect Brazil’s coast and offshore natural resources, and to stave off potential enemies from the sea. Brazil wants to bolster its international standing with that program.
Rivalry with Argentina was initially a drive of Brazil’s nuclear program. Today both countries work together in a bilateral nuclear safeguards regime to verify their nuclear activities are peaceful.
Brazil has not signed an IAEA Additional Protocol on nuclear safeguards because it is reluctant to accept additional non proliferation obligations as long as nuclear weapon states do not achieve meaningful progress towards nuclear disarmament.
Brazil’s nuclear policy, especially its advanced nuclear fuel cycle and its nuclear powered submarine project generate attention internationally, but little is known about the domestic drives behind that program. Dr. Kassenova based her study on numerous conversations over two years with Brazilian policy experts, academics, former and current officials, and representatives of the nuclear industry.
For more information, please log on to Dr. Kassenova’s full report at: carnegieendowment.org/
Canibalism at the World Cup 2014? FIFA is not the UN – The answer ought to be the Discualification of Uruguay from this year’s games for not taking a National stand against their player – and Luis Suarez, a repeat-canibal ought to be discualified from the sport for life. We await a stand by Brazil, the host, as well. UPDATED – so far we say BRAVO COLOMBIA for eliminating Uruguay.
Our week-end update is Bravo Colombia for eliminating Uruguay that advanced thanks to one of their players biting an Italian player before that game was over – then scored one more goal. We did not see any clear excuse on part of Uruguay for the misdeed – that is for the third time a repeating crazy activity on the part of that player.
Brazil failed by not taking clear stand on a crime committed on its territory and on its watch as hosts of these games.
FIFA failed miserably by eliminating only the culprit player and this only for the rest of this com petition. They did not even make the minimum effort of recommending psychiatric treatment for the player who was left rejoining a British or Spanish team that might think they can now bask in his increased fame. Only decent reaction we found from advertisers that used his fame as a player for their TV adds. Some already pulled of those advertisements hitting him in his pockets. But how long will this last? FIFA must be restructured and the fact that there are allegations of bribery against their executive just increases the call for personnel change in that organization. Only clean sport should prevail. The present situation is not sustainable.
Luis Suarez Apologizes For Biting Rival At World Cup
by Krishnadev Calamur
Luis Suarez holds his teeth after biting Giorgio Chiellini’s shoulder during last week’s World Cup match between Italy and Uruguay in Brazil. FIFA has banned Suarez for nine games and four months over the incident.
Ricardo Mazalan/APUpdated at 2:14 p.m. E
Controversial Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez apologized Monday for in last week’s World Cup soccer game between their two countries.
FIFA, soccer’s governing body, for nine games and fined him 100,000 Swiss francs (about $112,000) for the act, and banned him from any soccer activity for four months. Uruguay, playing without their star player on Saturday, in the knockout stage of the World Cup being held in Brazil.
Chiellini himself said he thought the ban was “,” and on Monday, responding to Suarez’s tweet, he tweeted: “I hope FIFA will reduce your suspension.”
Yahoo Sports Videos
Why Luis Suarez should be banned from the remainder of the World Cup
World Soccer Spotlight
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — As the world was judging Uruguay‘s Luis Suarez for biting a player in the World Cup, his teammates, coaches and fans in World Cup organizers scrambled Wednesday to quickly decide on a punishment before Uruguay plays Colombia Saturday in the round of 16.
”We have to resolve it either today or tomorrow,” FIFA disciplinary panel member Martin Hong told reporters Wednesday.
The disciplinary committee meeting was already underway on Wednesday evening, FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer said.
Wilmar Valdez, Uruguay football federation president, told the Associated Press shortly after midnight local time that the disciplinary hearing will continue Thursday morning.
”What we know is they (the disciplinary panel) met for a long time,” he said. ”We don’t know if that’s a good or a bad situation.’
”Luis is fine. He’s been through 1001 battles,” he told the online site Tenfield.com on Wednesday. ”We all know who Luis is and that’s why we have to defend him.”
The bite – just before Uruguay scored the clinching goal to eliminate the four-time champion Italians -will now test FIFA president Sepp Blatter’s often-stated commitment to ”fair play, discipline, respect.”
Blatter, who was in the crowd for the Uruguay-Italy match at Natal, has pledged a zero tolerance for the darker side of the game.
Many are questioning where that leaves a player like Suarez, who has a history of disciplinary problems including separate bans of seven and 10 matches for biting opponents in the Netherlands and England.
Valdez said Uruguay officials were sent a video of the incident by FIFA, and would respond with footage showing Suarez – a striker for Liverpool and last season’s player of the year in England’s Premier League – as a victim of Italian aggression.
”When he falls, several substitutes insult him on the ground and some members of Italy’s staff even came out of the bench to try to hit him,” Valdez said, suggesting FIFA could investigate Italy.
Uruguay federation board member Alejandro Balbi, who is Suarez’s lawyer, blamed European media reporting.
”This happened because there have been campaigns launched by the media in England and Italy,” Balbi told Uruguayan radio Sport 890.
Uruguay’s Luis Suarez holds his teeth after running into Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini’s sho …
Suarez’s teammate Diego Lugano agreed.
”The British media has a vendetta against Suarez, and everyone knows that,” he said. ”It’s obvious the vendetta sells newspapers in England, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. Uruguay and Italy played yesterday. On Saturday Uruguay plays Colombia, I don’t know why there’s a British journalist asking about Suarez.”
Lugano said he had seen ”much more violent plays” than the bite at the World Cup.
”It was a normal taunt in football, and the world press ends up talking about something totally trivial,” he said.
FIFA’s case against Suarez – announced early Wednesday – will be managed by a Swiss lawyer, Claudio Sulser, chairman of the FIFA disciplinary committee. A former international forward himself, Sulser has worked for four years at FIFA, first as head of its ethics court.
10ThingstoSeeSports – Uruguay’s Luis Suarez holds his teeth after running into Italy’s Giorg …
Sulser can choose to judge the offense within the scale of typical red-card incidents: A three-match ban may then be appropriate, banishing Suarez at least until the World Cup final should Uruguay advance that far.
The maximum penalty would be a ban of 24 international matches.
FIFA can also choose to ban Suarez for up to two years. That would cover club and international games and would ruin a widely speculated transfer to Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Suarez and the Uruguay football federation had until 5 p.m. local time Wednesday (4 p.m. EDT/2000 GMT) to present a documented defense.
Completing the case ahead of Saturday’s match could be complicated if Suarez appeals. That challenge could go direct to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland for an urgent and binding ruling.
Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini displays his shoulder showing apparent teeth marks after colliding wit …
However, one option open to FIFA and Sulser to avoid that scenario is that a suspension of ”fewer than three matches or of up to two months” cannot be appealed, according to FIFA rules.
Already, one of Suarez’s sponsors said it was ”reviewing our relationship with him.”
”We will not tolerate unsporting behavior,” 888poker said in a Twitter message.
Last month, the firm announced a global endorsement contract with Suarez, a poker enthusiast.
adidas, which also has Suarez as a client and is FIFA’s longest standing World Cup sponsor, said it was monitoring the case.
Meanwhile, Suarez was criticized by a Uruguay football great Alcides Ghiggia, the last survivor of the team which defeated Brazil to win the 1950 World Cup.
Suarez ”plays well but he has done things that are not normal for a player nor for a soccer game,” Ghiggia told The AP. ”I think FIFA can sanction him.”
AP Sports Writer Rob Harris in Rio de Janeiro and Associated Press writer Leonardo Haberkorn in Montevideo, Uruguay, contributed to this report
PRESS RELEASE: Brazil Kicks Off Carbon Neutral Goal for FIFA World Cup.
(16 April 2014) – The globe’s biggest sporting event – the FIFA World Cup –
The Government of Brazil has announced an initiative encouraging holders of
By some estimates, offsetting these sources of emissions – just during the days of the Soccer Championship games – would require above one million CERs or more, depending on what was covered in the calculation.
“Brazil’s call for carbon credits to offset emissions from the world’s
It has also been reported that FIFA is planning to offset the emissions of officials and fans by perhaps buying carbon offsets.
”I wish Brazil and FIFA every success in their endeavors and look forward
All donated credits must originate from Brazilian CDM projects. Nearly 150
Since being established as part of the Kyoto Protocol, the world’s first
These range from projects that reduce emissions by replacing inefficient
“When emission reductions come with other benefits, such as technology
The Executive Board Chair made the remarks at the close of the Board’s most
“Measuring and reducing emissions is the responsibility of all companies
The value of CERs has in recent years gone down as demand has fallen, due
News release from the Brazilian government:
About the CDM:
About the UNFCCC:
China and Latin America Cooperation could lead to a lower carbon world but some of their interests seem bent to push the other way finds a Brookings paper authored at Brown University in Rhode Island.
Professor Timmons Roberts and I would like to share with you our new policy paper published by Brookings Institution on Chinese-Latin American relations in a carbon constrained world.
The paper can be downloaded here: www.brookings.edu/
Below we include the executive summary:
China’s rapidly increasing investment, trade and loans in Latin America may be entrenching high-carbon development pathways in the region, a trend scarcely mentioned in policy circles. High-carbon activities include the extraction of fossil fuels and other natural resources, expansion of large-scale agriculture and the energy-intensive stages of processing natural resources into intermediate goods.
This paper addresses three examples, including Chinese investments in Venezuela’s oil sector and a Costa Rican oil refinery, and Chinese investment in and purchases of Brazilian soybeans. We pose the question of whether there is a tie between China’s role in opening up vast resources in Latin America and the way those nations make national climate policy and how they behave at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations.
China and Latin America have a critical role to play to ensure progress is made before the 2015 deadline, since they together account for approximately 40 percent of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Several Latin American nations are world leaders in having reached high levels of human development while emitting very low levels of greenhouse gases. Several have publicly committed to ambitious greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Staying on or moving to low-carbon pathways is critical for these countries, but substantial Chinese investments in natural resources and commodities—when combined with those of other nations and firms—run the risk of taking the region in an unsustainable direction.
Chinese investments and imports of Latin American commodities may be strengthening the relative power of political and commercial domestic constituencies and of “dirty” ministries (e.g. ministries of mining, agriculture or energy) vis-à-vis environmental and climate change ministries and departments. These “cleaner” ministries are traditionally weak and marginalized actors in the region. China may thus be inadvertently undermining Latin American countries’ attempts to promote climate change policies by reinforcing and strengthening actors within those countries and governments that do not prioritize climate change and who have often seen environmental efforts as an impediment to economic growth.
China has stated that it is interested in cooperating with Latin America on combating climate change, but official bilateral or multilateral exchanges on the issue outside of the UNFCCC negotiations have been limited. Both China and Latin America could benefit substantially by refocusing on opportunities for low-carbon growth such as renewable energy. China’s growing influence in global renewable energy markets presents excellent opportunities to invest in clean energy in Latin America.
China and Latin American countries could launch a climate change initiative through the newly created China-CELAC (Community of Latin American and Caribbean States) Forum, focused on financing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, forestry, energy and transport, as well as sharing technology and strategies for adapting to climate impacts. Chinese-Latin American relations should also mainstream environmental protection and low-carbon sustainable growth into their partnership, to avoid pushing countries in the region towards high-carbon pathways.
135 Angell Street
Providence, RI 02912
The Dirty Secret About Quinoa – And Its Real Cost.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian or someone who is just trying to eat a little more consciously, you know that shopping can be something of a nightmare. Taking into consideration food miles, sustainability, water footprints, animal-friendly production as well as making sure the food is organic and healthy is a minefield. So when something as tasty and low fat (I remember ‘superfood’ was being bandied about) as quinoa comes along it’s something of a blessing. The fact it is high in protein is also perfect for those cutting out meat. However, new research has shown that affluent westerner’s love for quinoa is pushing up prices and denying Peruvians and Bolivians the crop which was once was a staple of the poor.
Since 2006, the price of quinoa has tripled and in Lima, Peru, the once unheard of grain now costs more than chicken. Overseas demand for the grain continues to grow which is all putting pressure on land in Peru and Bolivia that once produced a diverse range of crops to simply harvest quinoa. Writing in the Guardian, investigative journalist Joanna Blythman states: “the quinoa trade is yet another troubling example of a damaging north-south exchange, with well-intentioned health and ethics-led consumers here unwittingly driving poverty there. It’s beginning to look like a cautionary tale of how a focus on exporting premium foods can damage the producer country’s food security. ”
Another example that Blythman highlights is that Peruvian asparagus which is grown in the arid Ica region has depleted water resources on which the locals depend. She also adds that soya production is now one of the two main causes of deforestation in South America along with cattle ranching. It is worth pointing out however that according to a UN report in 2006, 97% of soya production was used for animal feed and not to fill vegetarian’s fridges. Even so, the food insecurity caused by the rising popularity of Quinoa is troubling and highlights the need for a more localised approach to food production and consumption. Especially when we are importing from countries with high poverty rates.
- See more at: www.greenprophet.com/
Bolivia VP Slams IMF, Talks Up G77.
By Matthew Russell Lee, Inner City Press.
UNITED NATIONS, February 25 — When Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera spoke to the media on February 25, he was setting the stage for the Group of 77 and China summit set for Santa Cruz in June.
Inner City Press asked him if at the Summit G77 will adopt a position on what should be in the Sustainable Development Goals, and for his response to comments about Bolivia by the International Monetary Fund which Inner City Press reported back on February 10.
He replied that Bolivia doesn’t much care what the IMF says, that if they criticize the country for being too pro-poor, that’s a matter of pride, they are going to do more of it. [Tweeted photo here; higher resolution photos by Free UN Coalition for Access member Luiz Rampelotto, to follow.]
Back on February 10, the IMF had just released its Article IV review of Bolivia, in which it criticized the country’s new Financial Services Law, specifically that
“the law’s general thrust is to subordinate financial sector activities to social objectives with instruments that could create risks to financial stability. Main features of the law include: (i) provisions to regulate lending rates and set minimum lending quotas for the productive sector and social housing; (ii) discretion to set floors on deposit rates; and (iii) mechanisms to enhance consumer protection and financial access in rural areas.”
On February 10, Inner City Press asked the IMF’s Mission Chief for Bolivia Ana Corbacho to explain this criticism, and more generally to reconcile Bolivia’s and President Evo Morales’ public critique of the IMF with this visit.
In response to a question from Inner City Press at UN headquarters in January, Morales recounted how the IMF dominated Bolivia in the past, but now decision making had passed from the “Chicago to the Bolivia boys.“
The IMF Article IV staff report says they met with “Minister of Economy and Public Finances Arce, Central Bank President Zabalaga, Minister of Planning Caro, other senior public officials, and representatives of the private sector. Mr. Tamez and Ms. Kroytor (LEG) provided inputs on the new Financial Services Law at headquarters.”
The IMF staff report also says that “the instruments chosen (interest rate caps and minimum credit quotas) could reduce the profitability and lending funds of financial institutions, over-leverage target beneficiaries, and complicate the conduct of monetary policy.”
Ms. Corbacho of the IMF, on the February 10 embargoed press conference call, largely in Spanish, on which only three media asked questions, replied that Bolivia for example capping interest rates might impact financial institution’s profitability and thus “financial stability.”
She said the government responded that financial inclusion has not progressed fast enough and so they are taking these steps. She the Article IV discussion, which are held with each IMF member, were “very open and frank” with Bolivia, and thus positive.
To Inner City Press, the IMF’s willingness to criticize consumer protection in Bolivia stands in contrast to the IMF’s deference to the US on the how to manage and communicate the Federal Reserve’s tapering, the debt ceiling — anything, essentially.
On February 25, Bolivia’s Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, with his UN Permanent Representative Sacha Llorenti translating, described this is a key time for sustainable development, and that the G77 and China will play a key role, since it has 133 members (2/3 of the UN membership) and represents 70% of the world’s population.
Given that, it was noteworthy that the pro-Western “United Nations Correspondents Association” did not send a single one of their 15 Executive Committee members to the briefing by Bolivia’s vice president about the Group of 77 and China. Tellingly, UNCA last July used the big third floor room the UN gives them to host Saudi-supported Syria rebel leader Ahmad al Jarba for a faux “UN briefing.”
In the same room, also tellingly, the outgoing UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky will hold his farewell on March 7. His deputy Eduardo del Buey held his farewell, more appropriately, in the UN Spokesperson’s office. But this UN is going more and more Gulf and Western, with its spokesperson’s job now passing to France.
We’ll have more on this — for now, we will link to Bolivia’s Vice President’s comments on G77, and on the IMF.
SustainabiliTank actually expected the Bolivian VP to touch also upon the meetings of the SIDS, but seemingly there wee no questions to him on this topic.
A Hindu Sees The Light in Between the Muslims Fighting Each Other in Syria – and he is obviously right – it is not nice! Neither is the US above blame – in effect it is with US acts that the spread of Islamicism in its various forms took place. Could one now hope for India and China Diplomacy? We add – Could the Saudis come out of the Israeli Closet?
Syrian rebels or international terrorists?
Vijay Prashad* – The Hindu
*Vijay Prashad is the Edward Said Chair at the American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon.
With Bashar Assad arguing that this is a war against terrorism, and the rebels arguing that this is a war against authoritarianism, no agreement can come of the peace talks on Syria.
Geneva 2’s mood mirrored the sound of mortar and despair on the ground in Syria. Not much of substance came of the former, as the U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi tiredly indicated that diplomacy continued despite the lack of a breakthrough. He hoped that the United States and the Russians would pressure their clients to remain at the table, from where, for three weeks, little of value has emerged. No agreement can come of these peace talks for at least two reasons. First, the government of Bashar Assad and the rebel coalition do not agree on the interpretation of the conflict. Mr. Assad argues that this is a war against terrorism (Al-Qaeda), while the rebels argue that this is a war against authoritarianism (the Assad government). Second, the rebels themselves are deeply fractured, with the Islamists in Syria who are doing the brunt of the fighting indisposed to any peace talks.
Mr. Brahimi hoped that humanitarian relief would be the glue to hold the two sides together. Residents in the old city of Homs and in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Yarmouk in Damascus have been under siege for two years. It was hoped that safe passage could be provided for food and medicine, but this was not accomplished. U.N. and Islamic Red Cross workers bravely avoided snipers and shells to transport food and medicines to the Syrians; children among them stared at fresh fruit, unsure of what to do with it. Absent momentum from Geneva, the options for a regional solution are back on the table.
Role for India, China?
In 2012, Egypt convened the Syria Contact Group that comprised Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — unlikely partners. Pressure from the U.S. and Russia at that time closed down the Group. Today, the regional partners seek an exit from their exaggerated postures over Syria, but there is no diplomatic space for them to act. It falls to powers that are untainted by the war, perhaps China and India, to call for a meeting — a Beijing or New Delhi summit — to craft a serious agenda to pressure all sides to a ceasefire and a credible political process.
The war is now fought less on the ground and more over its interpretation. Expectations of a hasty collapse of the government withdraw as the Syrian Army takes Jarajir, along the Lebanon border. Islamists groups continue to fight against each other in the north, weakening their firepower as the Syrian army watches from the sidelines. The emboldened Syrian government has now stepped up its rhetoric about this war being essentially one against terrorists with affiliation to al-Qaeda. Ears that once rejected this narrative in the West and Turkey are now increasingly sympathetic to it. As the Islamists suffocate the rebellion, it becomes hard to champion them against the government. Focus has moved away from the prisons and barrel bombs of the government to the executions and social policies of the Islamists.
A year ago, the West and Turkey would have scoffed at talk of terrorism as the fantasy of the Assad government. The West and the Gulf Arabs had opened their coffers to the rebels, knowing full well that they were incubating the growth of the Islamist factions at the expense of the secular opposition. Turkey’s government of Recep Tayyip Erdog?an micromanaged the opposition, provided bases in Turkey and allowed well-armed fighters to slip across the border into Syria. By early 2012, it had become a common sight to see well-armed Islamist fighters in the streets of Antakya and in the refugee camps in Hatay Province. The seeds of what was to come — the entry of al-Qaeda into Syria — was set by an opportunistic and poorly conceived policy by Erdog?an’s government. It did not help that his otherwise well-spoken and highly-regarded Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutog?lu began to refer to Syria’s Alawites (Mr. Assad’s community) as Nusayri, a derogatory sectarian term. Turkey joined U.S., Europe and Gulf Arab calls for Mr. Assad’s departure well before the numbers of those dead climbed above the thousands. Nervousness about the spread of al-Qaeda to Syria has made the rebels’ patrons edge closer to the Damascus narrative. The U.S. government wishes to arm the Iraqi government with Hellfire missiles and drones to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in Iraq’s Anbar Province. Britain has said that any fighter who comes back from Syria will be arrested (last week, a Sussex man — Abu Suleiman al-Britani — conducted a suicide operation in Aleppo). The Saudi Royal Court decreed that any Saudi found to have waged jihad abroad could spend up to 20 years in prison.
General Mansour al-Turki of the Saudi Interior Ministry said: “We are trying to stop everyone who wants to go to Syria, but we can’t stop leaks.” The Turkish Armed Forces fired on an ISIS convoy on January 28 inside Syria, and told the government in a report prepared jointly with the Turkish National Intelligence agency that al-Qaeda had made credible threats on Turkey.
Mr. Erdog?an hastened to Tehran to meet the new Iranian leadership — their public comments were on trade, but their private meetings were all on Syria and the need to combat the rise of terrorism. What Mr. Assad had warned about in 2012 came to pass — for whatever reason — and led to a loss of confidence among the rebels’ patrons for their future. Even al-Qaeda’s putative leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has sought to distance himself from ISIS. These signs indicate that on Syria, the “terrorism narrative” has come to dominate over the “authoritarian regime narrative.”
The fractious Syrian opposition that came to Geneva does not represent the main columns of rebel fighters on the ground. These are mainly Islamists — with the al-Qaeda wing represented by ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the rest represented by the Islamic Front. They have no appetite for negotiation. Mr. Abu Omar of the Islamic Front said that Syria’s future would be created “here on the ground of heroism, and signed with blood on the frontlines, not in hollow conferences attended by those who don’t even represent themselves.” A U.S. intelligence official told me that when the U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001, “We smashed the mercury and watched it spread out slowly in the area.” Al-Qaeda was not demolished in Kandahar and Tora Bora. Its hardened cadre slipped across to Pakistan and then onwards to their homelands. There they regrouped, reviving the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, al-Qaeda in Yemen, Ansar al-Sharia, Ansar Dine, and ISIS. The latter slipped into Syria from an Iraq broken by the U.S. occupation and the sectarian governance of the current government. There they worked with Jabhat al-Nusra and fought alongside other Islamist currents such as Ahrar ash-Sham. It was inevitable that these battle-tested Islamists would overrun the peaceful protesters and the defectors from the Syrian Army — the Free Syrian Army (FSA) — who scattered to the wind in 2012.
The FSA troops either joined up with the Islamists, continued to fight in small detachments, or linger precariously as twice defectors who are now homeless. The barbarism of the ISIS pushed other Islamists — with Gulf Arab support — to form the Islamic Front. The hope was that this group would run ISIS back to Iraq and remove the stigma of “al-Qaeda” from the Syrian rebellion. The problem is that one of the constituents of the Islamic Front — Jabhat al-Nusra, arguably the most effective of its fighting forces — sees itself as the Syrian franchise of al-Qaeda and has largely abjured the fight against ISIS. Another problem is that the in-fighting on the ground seems to have tapered off — one of the Islamist groups, Suqour al-Sham signed a truce with ISIS and pledged to work together.
By early 2014, these groups found their supply lines cut off. Iraq’s attack on ISIS began to seal the porous border that runs through the Great Syrian Desert. Jordan had already tried to close its border since early 2013, having arrested over a hundred fighters who have tried to cross into Syria. Lebanon’s border has become almost inaccessible for the rebels as the Syrian Army takes the roadway that runs along the boundary line. Last year, Turkey closed the Azaz crossing once it was taken over by the radical Islamists.
On January 20, the rebels attacked the Turkish post at Cilvegözü-Bab al-Hawa, killing 16. This is what spurred the Turkish Army to attack the ISIS convoy a week later.
As the Islamists saw their supply lines closed off, the U.S. announced that it would restart its aid to the rebel fighters. On February 5, the Syrian Coalition chief Ahmad Jabra told Future TV that his rebels would get “advanced weapons” — likely from the U.S. The FSA announced the formation of the Southern Front – with assistance from the West — to revive the dormant fight in Syria’s south-west. All this took place during Geneva 2, signalling confusion in U.S. policy. Does Washington still want to overthrow the Syrian government? Would it live with an Islamist government on Israel’s borders? Or, perhaps, the U.S. is eager for a stalemate, as pointed out by former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, “The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad. The regime lacks the loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion. Both sides’ external allies are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future.” This is a cruel strategy.
It offers no hope of peace for the Syrian people.
Road ahead for Syria group:
A senior military official in West Asia told me that one of the most overlooked aspects of West Asia and North Africa is that the military leaderships of each country maintain close contacts with each other. During Turkey’s war against the Kurdish rebellion in its eastern provinces, the military coordinated their operations with the Syrian armed forces. These links have been maintained. When it became clear that Mr. Erdog?an’s exaggerated hopes for Syria failed, and with the growth of the Islamists on Turkey’s borders and the Kurds in Syria having declared their independence, the Turkish military exerted its views. The Iraqi armed forces had already begun their operations against ISIS. Additionally, Egypt’s new Field Marshal Sisi overthrew the government of Mohamed Morsi when the latter encouraged jihadis to go to Syria. This was anathema to the Egyptian military who acted for this and other reasons to depose Mr. Morsi. The military view of the political situation leans naturally toward the terrorism narrative.
It appears now that the regional states are no longer agreed that their primary mission is the removal of Mr. Assad.This view — shared by the militaries — is evident in the political leadership in Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.With Egypt, these three states would be the core of a rejuvenated Syria Contact Group.
The 2012 group also had Saudi Arabia, which might be enjoined to come back to the table if they see that their outside allies — notably the U.S. — are averse to a policy that would mean Jabhat al-Nusra in power in Damascus.
Without Saudi Arabia, and perhaps even Qatar, the Syria Contact Group would be less effective.
If the Syria Contact Group is to re-emerge, it would need to be incubated by pressure from China and India, two countries that are sympathetic to multipolar regionalism.
Thus far, neither China nor India has taken an active role in the Syrian conflict, content to work within the United Nations and to make statements as part of the BRICS group.
But the failure of the U.S. and Russia and the paralysis of the U.N. alongside the continued brutality in Syria require an alternative path to be opened up.
Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have indicated willingness for a dialogue — China and India need to offer them the table.