Cablegate reinforces suspicions of Irish government complicity in US rendition: US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks are gradually adding to a picture wherein the government of Ireland ignored public opposition to suspected US rendition flights through its territory, and looked for ways to co-operate with alleged US abuses while avoiding liability and political fallout.
What is the context?
The Shannon airport has a history of use as a military stopover point for foreign militaries. Post-9/11, the US military had been allowed to use Shannon as a conduit for "War on Terror" flights involving munitions, supplies, and the transport of vehicles and troops to Afghanistan and Iraq. This move was unpopular since the status of the Iraq war under international law was controversial, and the Shannon stopover was perceived by the Irish anti-war community as a violation of the principle of Irish neutrality.
A 25 year old Yemeni youth set himself on fire in the Radaa province to the south of the capital city Sanaa today, alluding to the "stick of security" being used to deal with any demonstrations in the country.
Yemini sources say that he is now in intensive care in a hospital in Sanaa, where his condition remains critical.
Sanaa saw popular demonstrations for the fourth consecutive day in support of the popular Sidibouzid movement in Tunisia. Demonstrations were mostly peaceful escept at Sanaa Unniversity, where the campus was turned into a military barracks after hundreds of students participated in demonstrations there. The Yemini Ministry of Interior has declared any marches or demonstrations illegal, according to a security source in the ministry, declaring that such bans are not inconsistent with Yemen's constitution.
Clashes with the government have continued now for more than a week in the cities of Habilayn, Radfan and Lahj.
Previously on WL Central:Unrest in Arab States
"The lesson from what's happening in Tunisia is that (Arab leaders) won't be able to hide any more behind the Islamist threat argument."
If Tunisians are protesting for freedom, not religion, what role did Wikileaks and online social networks play in mobilizing Arab populations to throw off the shackles of authoritarian, repressive, and corrupt regimes? Are our western institutions responsible for the waves of protest threatening to drown capitals in the Middle East?.
Swiss police on Wednesday arrested former banker Rudolf Elmer on fresh charges of breaching Swiss bank secrecy law for giving data to WikiLeaks, hours after he was found guilty of another secrecy offense.
"The state prosecutor's office is checking to see whether Rudolf Elmer has violated Swiss banking law by handing the CD over to WikiLeaks," the Zurich cantonal (state) police and state prosecutor said in a joint statement.
Earlier on Wednesday, a court found Elmer guilty of breaching banking secrecy for publicising private client data. He was also found guilty of threatening an employee at his former firm Julius Baer.
Submitted by KnowledgeEmpire on Wed, 01/19/2011 - 15:57
Bulgarian citizens concerned about a corruption scandal involving the country’s prime minister sent through the media today an appeal to EU employees to leak the report submitted by the Bulgarian Justice Ministry to the authorities in Brussels, because this report has been kept secret from the media and Bulgarian society.
Le Monde: "La Tunisie fait des progrès sur les droits de l'homme..." ("Tunisia makes progress on human rights")
""La Tunisie n'est pas une dictature..." La phrase figure en sous-titre d'un télégramme diplomatique de l'ambassade des Etats-Unis, daté du 14 août 2007, obtenu par WikiLeaks et révélé par Le Monde. Les mots sont ceux de Serge Degallaix, ambassadeur de France en Tunisie de juillet 2005 à septembre 2009. ("Tunisia is not a dictatorship..." The sentence is found on the title of a diplomatic cable from the American embassy, dated August 14th 2007, obtained by Wikileaks and revealed by Le Monde. The words come from Serge Degallaix, ambassador of France in Tunisia between July 2005 and September 2009.)"
The Guardian: US advised to sabotage Iran nuclear sites by German thinktank
"As Stuxnet cyber attack pinned on US and Israel, US embassy cable reveals advice to use undercover operations.
The United States was advised to adopt a policy of "covert sabotage" of Iran's clandestine nuclear facilities, including computer hacking and "unexplained explosions", by an influential German thinktank, a leaked US embassy cable reveals."
The Guardian: US feared Turkish military backlash in 'coup plot' arrests
"Turkish arrests of senior military officers last year could trigger 'unpredictable reaction', US embassy cable warned.
US diplomats in Turkey feared that a wave of arrests of senior military officers last year over an alleged plot to topple the country's Islamist-rooted government could trigger an "unpredictable military reaction", according to a leaked diplomatic cable."
The President of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom, was the latest world leader to blush and issue damage control half-apologies following an embarrassing WikiLeaks revelation.
A diplomatic document leaked to WikiLeaks and published by the whistle-blowing site says the Guatemalan President described the revered Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchu as a “fabrication” of French anthropologist Elizabeth Burgos. Burgos helped author the biography “I Rigoberta Menchú,” which introduced the Nobel Prize winner known as a human rights activist to the world.
Via @Asher_Wolf on Twitter
Yesterday, Tunisia's new government was announced. Today, four of the new ministers resigned in accord with protesters who continued to demand the complete resignation of the old regime. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi is one of eight ministers of former president Ben Ali's government who will remain in the new government announced yesterday.
Junior Minister for Transportation and Equipment Anouar Ben Gueddour resigned along with Houssine Dimassi, the labor minister, and minister of prime ministerial affairs Abdeljelil Bedoui. All three are members of labour union UGIT. The labour union's supporters staged a protest Tunis today, calling for a general strike, constitutional changes and the release of all imprisoned union leaders.
The spate of "copycat" self-immolation protests taking place across the Middle East has claimed another victim.
Twenty-five-year-old Ahmed Hashem El-Sayed, the third Egyptian to set himself ablaze this week, died in hospital late Tuesday. El-Sayed is the third Egyptian to copy Tunisia's Mohamed Bouazizi, who set himself on fire on December 17, triggering riots and the ensuing Tunisian revolution. Original source
Previously on WL Central:
Expatica.com reports that Labour MP Frans Timmermans is objecting to Mr Peter De Gooijer becoming the Dutch ambassador to the European Union, after messages from the US embassy in The Hague sourced from Wikileaks were reported in Dutch newspapers.
The challenge to De Gooijer comes days after he was named the top representative of the Netherlands at the EU last Friday, having until then served as director-general for political affairs at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. De Gooijer previously served as the counselor for political-military affairs for the Netherlands embassy in Washington 1994--97.
According to the cables cited by the newspapers, De Gooijer asked the US embassy to put pressure on the then Labour leader and deputy prime minister, Wouter Bos. He hoped Mr Bos would be pushed into agreeing to an extension of the Dutch military mission in Afghanistan.
The BBC reports that Berry Smutny, chief executive of the German partner in the EU's Galileo satellite-navigation project, has been removed by the board of OHB-System because of statements critical of the project that appear in a US diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks:
... Smutny [is] alleged to have told diplomats at a meeting in Berlin in October 2009 that Galileo, a flagship space programme of the EU, was a waste of taxpayers' money.
The cable, which was published by the Norwegian daily Aftenposten last Thursday, quoted the OHB-System chief as saying, "I think Galileo is a stupid idea that primarily serves French interests", and, in particular, French military interests.
Mr Smutny was further reported to say that Galileo was "doomed for failure" or would "have to undergo drastic scalebacks for survival".
Mr Smutny has denied making the statements reported in the cable.
Via Greg Mitchell at The Nation
After one month (to the day) of turmoil, Tunisia has announced a new interim government. Mohamed Ghannouchi, the Tunisian prime minister, has announced that the former defense, foreign affairs, interior and finance ministers will keep their key posts, and a number of opposition members will be assigned to ministerial posts
Najib Chebbi, founder of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP), will be minister of regional development, Ahmed Ibrahim, leader of the Ettajdid party, will be minister of higher education, and Mustafa Ben Jaafar, head of the Union of Freedom and Labour, will be the minister of health. The ministry of information, formerly devoted to suppression of information, is abolished in the new government. There is now a separation of the state from political parties, so the collection of parties will not fall under the control of a ruling party.
The government has committed to releasing all political prisoners and a ban on the activities of human rights groups will be lifted. Anyone with great wealth or suspected of corruption will face investigation. Internet and social media restrictions have been dropped and the government has promised "total freedom" for the media.
Slim Amamou, the blogger and net-neutrality activist jailed by Ben Ali's outgoing government during Tunisia's Sidibouzid revolution, has been named the new secretary of state for Youth and Sports, reports Anne Brigaudeau.
"Thursday he announced on Twitter, 'I am free.' And Monday: 'I am secretary of state for Youth and Sports. :)'"
Amamou's first tweet as secretary was "My boss is Mohamed Aloulou. Who is he?"
The Guardian: TNK-BP boss predicted break-up of Russian joint venture
"Leaked comments suggest that BP sees Rosneft as its long-term partner, not TNK-BP, according to cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
BP's top executive in Russia predicted that its TNK-BP subsidiary would be carved up by the end of this year by Rosneft, the British oil company's new partner, acting with Gazprom, according to leaked US embassy cables."
The Guardian: Turkey let US use airbase for rendition flights
"Turkey allowed use of Incirlik airbase as refuelling stop, US embassy cable reveals, after Turkish denials of involvement.
Turkey allowed the US to use its airbase at Incirlik in southern Turkey as part of the "extraordinary rendition" programme to take suspected terrorists to Guantánamo Bay, according to a US diplomatic cable."
The Guardian: 'Baby Doc' Duvalier's possible return to Haiti concerned US
"US envoy said in 2006 that return of 'Baby Doc' Duvalier could complicate ability of Haiti's new government to establish itself.
The US expressed its concern about the possible return of Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier to Haiti as far back as 2006, when the country was about to hold elections, according to a confidential US diplomatic cable."
Le Monde: Les prédateurs du clan Ben Ali vus par les diplomates américains (The predators of Beli Ali's clan viewed by the American diplomats)
"Une blague circulait à Tunis avant la chute du régime : un jour, le président Ben Ali roulait au volant de sa voiture, dans les rues de la capitale, seul et sans garde du corps. A un feu rouge, un policier l'arrête. Ben Ali explique qu'il s'appelle Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali et qu'il est le président de la République. "Jamais entendu parler de vous ", lui rétorque l'homme en uniforme, avant de le conduire au poste de police. Le chef du poste est là. Il examine les papiers de Ben Ali et les lui remet aussitôt en disant : "C'est OK pour lui. C'est un parent des Trabelsi." (A joke circulated in Tunisia before the fall of the regime: one day, President Ben Ali was driving at the wheel of his car in the streets of the capital, alone and without a bodyguard. At a red light, a policeman stops him. Ben Ali says he is called Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali and he is the President of the Republic. "Never heard of you", the man in uniform answers back before driving him to the police station. The head of the station is there. He looks at the papers of Ben Ali and tells right back: "It's okay for him. He's a parent of Trabelsi.")"
A man set himself on fire outside Egypt’s parliament in Cairo. Restaurant owner Abdo Abdelmoneim from Qantara stood in front the parliament building in (downtown Cairo) and set fire to himself reportedly because he did not receive the bread coupons for his restaurant. He was immediately taken to hospital to receive treatment.
AllVoices reports that the man appeared at first as though he had come to sit in front of the Council, then he poured gasoline on the lower half of his body and dove to the ground. Security guards and a taxi driver used fire extinguishers to put out the fire.
The guard said, "Security Council found in his identity card is the name .. Abdou Abdel Moneim Hamada Jaafar Khalifa, born on the tenth of February 1962 from the city west of Kantara, Ismailia, and the owner of a restaurant."
A Mauritanian man set himself on fire today in an anti-government protest.
Yacoub Ould Dahoud, 42, stopped his car in front of the Senate, which is several metres (feet) from the presidency in the capital, and set himself alight inside the vehicle, witnesses said.
He had called journalists to tell them he intended to carry out the act because he was 'unhappy with the political situation in the country and angry with the government.'
Police intervened and he was taken to hospital with burns to his face and hands, a hospital source said.
AllVoices writes "a man set himself on fire in front of the West African state's presidential palace. The man, described as a 40-year-old entrepreneur from a wealthy family, was protesting over alleged government mistreatment of his tribe, police sources said."
Aftenposten's cable releases for today focus on Haiti. Rather than editorializing, they have posted in full in English the following cables:
Aftenposten's editorial analysis is reserved for Iran, examining the country's pursuit of materials for their nuclear program (in English). Update to follow.
Jean Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, inherited power from his father in 1971, and ruled with the support of his father's Tontons Macoutes militia until forced to flee the country to France after a popular uprising in 1986.
The cables highlight U.S. concerns that Duvalier would attempt to return to Haiti, with France receiving the most pressure, as that was where Duvalier was residing at the time (even though the French authorities coud not find him in a hotel). Neighboring Dominican Republic Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso is quoted as saying Duvalier's return to Haiti (along with Aristide) would be "unhelpful", because supporters of either side might seek revenge, "even after 20 years". U.S. efforts to get Duvalier's passport revoked fell on deaf ears, with Haitian Foreign Minister Abraham stating:
In an online editorial published today, Germany's Die Welt Online writes:
"Up until now, only a few newspapers and magazines have been allowed to release a small percentage of selected cables under the supervision of WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange. This cartel is now broken. Die Welt Online, thru the Norwegian paper Aftenposten, now has unimpeded access to all cables, without restrictions."
"Aftenposten received access to all of the cables in the middle of december last year. Die Welt Online will now sift through the cables without being bound to the approval of WikiLeaks, and the stories that result will be handled under the same research criteria and ethical guidelines as the rest of our stories."
"The material will be treated as "source material", and the editors of Die Welt Online will decide what is interesting, and what can be released under the standards of security or privacy concerns."