Sunday, January 31, 2010

MEND goes back on the attack

So much for the cease fire in the Niger Delta region:
A militant group in Nigeria's oil-rich Niger Delta says it is ending the ceasefire it declared last October.
source - the BBC.

That would be the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which taken as a bloc is the largest and most dangerous armed faction in the Delta insurrection.

There is some quibbling over details as to "which MEND" ended the cease fire, as there certainly were some factions that had never come in from the bush when the amnesty was offered last year, but this is looking to be pretty much an all-call for militancy to resume.

Expect a return to the usual kidnappings, boat hijackings and pipeline raiding across the region, for now.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Husband unaware

It says something about a relationship that this is the defense offered when the wife is accused of criminal conspiracy, but in fairness it is something that should be considered.
Sheryl Cwele, the 50-year-old wife of Siyabonga Cwele, appeared in court charged with conspiring to bring cocaine into the country.

Mrs Cwele was charged with procuring a woman to collect drugs in Turkey and of getting another woman to smuggle cocaine from Brazil.

She remains in custody until her bail application is heard in a week.

Mrs Cwele is facing the charges with Frank Nabolis, a Nigerian national arrested in South Africa in December.
What it isn't, however, is something that adds to one's chance of keeping one's job... when one is the Minister of State Security, the chief of all civilian Intelligence Services in the Republic of South Africa.

IF, and that's a big *if*, this indictment holds up then Dr. Cwele is an utterly compromised leader for no other reason than that his family-member's associates can (and will) be used against him. The very fact that this case has been in limbo since the December arrest of a (co-)conspirator and the arrest in Brazil *in 2008* of a drug mule linked to the accused causes some serious worry about the investigation. After all, criminal accusations of politically powerful individuals have a way of suddenly ending in the Republic...

Watch this case closely for a measure of how reliable an ally the South African Security Service remains in the GWOT and International CounterNarcotics.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Zelaya heads for the door

This is a breaking news item, but for now here's what is out there:
Deposed Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya has left the Brazilian embassy there and is heading into exile in the Dominican Republic, reports say.
Fully clothed. Just like last time.

Sadly, it looks like the deal to let him go has some kind of immunity offer... I hope it is at least contingent upon his shutting up and going away quietly... but I'd still rather see him stand trial.



The AP has it that the deal lets him slide for treason, *but* leaves the door open to pursuing charges for "embezzlement in connection with $1.5 million in government funds".

Sri Lanka election results

We have a winner, with President Mahinda Rajapaksa carrying 57.8% of votes cast.

The other major candidate, retired General Sarath Fonseka, is said to challenge the results, but rumors of his going into revolt or about to be arrested appear to be false. Time will tell, but it looks like things will be as stable as they get in Sri Lankan politics.

The big story of the election was that while there were great hopes that the minority populations in the recently liberated north and east would come out for the polls, only perhaps a tenth of voters in that region came to the polls. That's a pity for more reasons than merely the fact that Fonseka was counting on them to have a shot at winning... it is a pity because the future of Sri Lanka will be far brighter when everyone believes in the democratic system enough to participate.

For shame, Peru.

The weather has been awful... not a big surprise given the season...

...yet ~2,000 tourists (exact count unknown), who were allowed to go up even in these conditions, have been trapped by deadly mudslides in the vicinity of the historic Machu Picchu site, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This is a large, remote area, accessible by trail and a specially-build road and rail line (which can't operate in dangerous weather like this). Many bridges along the line are washed out, anyway. Other than the facilities for the tourist arrivals and departures, there is basically nothing more than a few hostels there in the way of shelter or supplies.

The national government did declare a state of emergency, and did begin a rescue/relief effort. But it is one thing to set in motion a relief plan, and quite another thing to run it with any competence, priority, or basic fairness.
Washington Farfan, a guide at the site, said: "The situation is chaotic. Unfortunately, the rescue effort has not been organised correctly. People are really upset right now."

He also said that food was running short. "We haven't been given anything to eat. Each one is left to work out his rations," he said, adding that the vendors at the tourist site had immediately doubled their prices when it became clear the foreigners were stuck.
Bad, but almost expected.
Rudy Chalco, a tour guide with a group of elderly Europeans, said that the rescuers were not complying with the government's orders to prioritise the evacuation of children, the elderly and sick, and that some were paying to skip to the top of the list.

"The situation is about to erupt," he said.

"We don't have any more food, disorder is starting to reign, the soldiers and police that are here don't know what to do or how to organise the help that has arrived, people are getting desperate and no one is taking charge."

There are five people known to be dead already: one tourist, a guide, and three locals.

If the Government of Peru doesn't get a handle on this, there will likely be more.

I *know* that the Government has limited resources. That isn't the matter in question. This is:

After the rescue is completed... UNESCO should demand a criminal inquest into rescuers accepting or even demanding bribe money... as a condition of UNESCO *not* suspending World Heritage financial support over this fiasco.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Egypt Plot Trial

Remember the arrest of a number of Hezbollah-linked individuals operating in Egypt's Sinai region last year? Maybe you recall reading about it here at CompHyp on 13.April, 2009?

The trial of said detainees is underway and the prosecutor isn't going easy on the charges:
"These attacks were planned by representatives of this foreign country that wants to spread its influence on the Arab and Muslim worlds. And Hezbollah is nothing but a tool used to carry out its wicked goals," prosecutor Amr Farouk told the emergency state security court.

"We demand the maximum punishment on the traitors."


The prosecutor called for death sentences for six of the defendants, charged with terrorism and espionage-related offences, a judicial source said.
That makes this as much a trial on Iran's activities (as the hand behind Hezbollah) as a trial of the accused.

Expect diplomatic sparks to fly as this trial resumes in February.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New Venezuelan Defense Minister : UPDATED

On Saturday, now-former- Vice-President and Minister of Defense Ramón Carrizález *and* his wife, Minister of Environment Yubirí Ortega, are said to have resigned for "personal reasons". Now, word of his official replacement at Defense has come out: it is General-in-Chief Carlos Mata Figueroa, formerly chief of the Operational Strategic Command.

This should get some ears to perk up, as R. Carrizález is by repute a stauch partisan of Diosdado Cabello, who is the man who almost certainly has gained the most by being loyal to Hugo Chávez... and his replacement C. Mata Figueroa is said by sources to be solid with the Bolivarian Revolution... so no shakeup there...

Any bets on what the "personal reasons" were?

Here's one... caveat: it's a rumor at this point:
Me dijeron que renunciaron porque van a nombrar a 4 cubanos generales de la FAN, Amanecera y veremos si los nombran y si los milimaricones se dejan.
According to this source, the regime will appoint 4 Cubans as Generals in the Venezuelan Armed Forces. Let's say that isn't going over well in some quarters, and it could explain the resignation. By not well, I mean it is garnering reactions like this:
"Treason to the nation." ~ if that perception is widespread in the military... and it well may be... this could be the last straw.

More on this as confirmation and alternate sources come in.


Update 27.January

from an article at La Nueva Cuba, an independent Cuban internet daily published through Independent Press Infogroup. (background on them, here.) Key point:
La Habana quiere imponer a Caracas una agenda bien estructurada de medidas destinadas a "garantizar y asegurar la estabilidad y permanencia del régimen bolivariano en el poder.
Los raulistas no confían en la lealtad de los altos mandos venezolanos y buscan reemplazarlos paulatinamente con hombres que gocen del visto bueno de los generales-empresarios, el verdadero grupo de poder en la Isla caribeña.
Una de las exigencias cubanas, considerada el "detonante" de la crisis, es la de que a cuatro coroneles cubanos estacionados en Venezuela, se les conceda de inmediato la nacionalidad venezolana y que los mismos sean promovidos al grado de generales de brigada y nombrados como jefes de unidades élites del ejército venezolano.
They read the situation as a larger plot with Cuba having already in country (Venezuela) four Cuban officers of the rank of Colonel, just parked. The officers would be granted Venezuelan nationality and placed in command of critical brigade formations of the Venezuelan Army to guarantee the control of the elite formations.

Anyone else seeing a problem with this besides me?

Roy Bennett Trial : gun evidence thrown out

News from Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and the trial of Roy Bennett, treasurer for Mr Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and appointed deputy agriculture minister (uninstalled) in the "Unity Government".
Mr Bennett denies all the charges against him, which include terrorism, insurgency, sabotage, banditry and a plot to kill President Robert Mugabe and overthrow his government.
The judge has thrown out the prosecution evidence regarding firearms being hidden:
The judge said the testimony of arms dealer Peter Hitschmann was invalid, after the witness said he had been tortured into implicating Mr Bennett.

The state said Hitschmann had stashed guns for Mr Bennett - accused of a plot to kill President Robert Mugabe.
Hitschmann has been the most reluctant of witnesses throughout his own trial and his "confessions" were found inadmissible in that case in 2006. The presiding judge this time recognizes that, and has also ruled them inadmissible in this trial.

This has been a political persecution from the beginning.

Ending it, freeing Roy Bennett and declaring him innocent of all charges, will show that to everyone.

Once that is seen for what it is, can seeing the end of the Mugabe regime be far from view?

Nigeria orders troops to barracks

It has been an difficult time in Nigeria, with open political issues and regional claims against the central government, and one can add to that another bloody round of violence in Plateau State as Hausa-speaking "Settlers" tribals and the mostly-Christian "Indigenes" tribals find yet another reason to kill each other...

and all the while, the President of the country is... gone.


out of the country getting medical treatment.

since November.

without transferring executive authority to his Vice President.

The Federal High Court has ruled (last Friday) that within 14 days a judgment must be rendered as to President Umaru Yar'Adua's fitness to rule, and empowered the cabinet to return the judgment.

Some people may not be willing to wait that long.

Fears of a military coup are floating about, and the Army has now restricted troop movements outside of barracks areas.
Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Danbazau told reporters that troops must have passes, and good reasons, to travel outside the place their units are stationed. Fears of a coup in the young democracy are rising as President Umaru Yar'Adua's absence has stretched into more than two months.

Danbazau dismissed the "unnecessary, unwarranted and inflammatory comments" circulating saying a coup might be needed to pull the country out of a constitutional crisis in Yar'Adua's absence. Danbazau warned that a military coup would be akin to "dragging us back to the dark days of our nation's history."

"We are aware of the fact that there is tension in the country. We know it's not a secret," Danbazau said. "Everybody knows that. And we also got intelligence information that whereby some people are trying to infiltrate into our ranks."
Fourteen days can not pass quickly enough.

Consider this a travel advisory for Nigeria until this is settled.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

China, Burma, and on

While hunting up a reference to the potential resolution of the Bangladesh - Myanmar (Burma) sea border dispute originally mentioned here at CompHyp back in Nov. 2008, I came across a very fine work-up by Ben Blanchard for Reuters on the current state of relations between the P.R. Chinese and the Myanmar junta, which really is a marriage of convenience at best.

You can read the entire story at AlertNet. Good job, Reuters.

RCTV Internacional cut off

In one of those lovely moments of utter transparency by the Chavez administration in Venezuela...
During a press conference, Conatel's director (*Minister of Housing and Habitat and director of the National Telecommunications Commission (Conatel), Diosdado Cabello) said that 105 national TV channels submitted the documentation and only 24 met the requirements.

Those 24 TV channels, among them RCTV Internacional, were considered PNA. Other 81 TV channels, which did not submit any documentation, were also considered PNA, because "they are automatically considered (according to the provision) national audiovisual production (*PNA)," Cabello said.
24+81... that's...

Whether they applied for exemption as private channels, or not, they were *all* found to be national assets. These are all cable or satellite providers (open broadcast has long been presumed not just commons, but state property) so this is all about regulating content on *any* media outlet. In fact, criminalizing media activity has become the norm in all the Bolivarian Socialist states... Correa's Ecuador may well be worse off than Venezuela after their new laws late last year.

This little exercise in state-control was pulled off on 23 de enero (January 23rd), which happens to be a rather significant date in Venezuelan history...

Lots on all of this, and the 23dE marches, at Venezuela News and Views.


Today's fun fact on what commenter 'Will' calls Hugo Chavez's desire to " Mugabe's road..." : El Universal reports in their story on 2009 economic activity that the Executive Office has seized 559 ranches and 12 agro-businesses. You can just guess who was entrusted to administer them 'for the state', can't you?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Three Elections

One passed, one at the half-way point, and one to come... all important.

(No, Yanks, I'm not including your special election in Massachusetts earlier this week. That one looks to also have been of great importance, but time will tell. Nice win for Green-to-Gold Guardsman Scott Brown, though. My congratulations.)

Here's the one that is done. Chile:
Former Chilean President Eduardo Frei has conceded losing the country's presidential election to conservative billionaire Sebastian Pinera.

With 99 percent of the polling places counted, official returns showed Mr. Pinera with 52 percent of the vote and Mr. Frei with 48 percent.
This was huge. A major step forward for Chile; by some measures the most important step it could have taken after the OECD recognized that Chile is in the Developed World now. Welcome to the Club, friends.

Next up, and in progress through February, Ukraine:

Current President Viktor Yushchenko is done; he got 5% of the vote in the General Poll. That leaves two of the "big three" standing... Russian-frontman Viktor Yanukovych with a momentary lead at 35% of the vote (about what his regional-ethnic party has in supporting population share, btw) and incumbent Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, who got 25% of the vote, mostly out of a badly split Orange Revolution-based political movement. Those two will stand in the run-off election on February 7th. But the real story there right now is about a candidate that placed... third.
Orange Revolution heroine Yulia Tymoshenko and her rival, pro-Moscow Viktor Yanukovych, may have won the top two spots in Ukraine's presidential election on January 17, but as they face off ahead of the final round next month, someone else is at the center of attention.

Third-place finisher Serhiy Tigipko says he won't endorse either candidate, but there's intense competition to get him to change his mind.
Okay... but...
Tigipko headed Viktor Yanukovych's campaign during the infamous presidential election in 2004, when their victory -- in voting widely believed to have been rigged -- prompted thousands onto the streets.
Yeah. This is not good news. It is somewhat expected that an election in Ukraine will be all about personalities these days, but read the whole story from RFE/RL (linked above) to see a glimpse of how this could go wrong in a lot of ways.

More on this from our friends at Angus Reid Global Monitor, just to expand on the point of how dirty this election has gotten. The worry may well be that whichever of the candidates wins in February, Russia wins... which means the people of Ukraine lose. It really is that zero-sum there right now.

Last up, but likely to be resolved shortly. Sri Lanka:

Oh brother... this could get ugly.
On Nov. 23, 2009, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa called an early presidential election for 2010, saying he wants to seek a stronger mandate before his first term expires in 2011. This practice is allowed under the Sri Lankan constitution, as long as the president has been in office for at least four years. Rajapaksa was first elected in 2005.

The presidential ballot will take place on Jan. 26, 2010.

Sarath Fonseka, an army general, will also run for president. The opposition United National Party (EJP) and the far-left People’s Liberation Front party have endorsed Fonseka’s bid.

Rajapaksa is running with the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA). Another 20 candidates, including a Buddhist monk and five independents, will also join the contest.

The two main contenders—Rajapaksa and Fonseka—are widely considered as the main leaders in the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009.

In November, Fonseka left the Sri Lankan army while denying accusations by the Rajapaksa government that he was planning a coup d’ état.
(source: Angus Reid Global Monitor)

Two leaders ...both bathed in the glory of defeating the LTTE and by any reasonable measure saving the nation... couldn't cooperate once the threat was past. In fairness, it appears that the dispute began from only one side... President M. Rajapaksa aparently can't stand to share the political spotlight... but still...

This is not the future your troops were fighting for, gentlemen.

May the electorate (which includes the northern population now!) show you the error of your ways.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Haiti Earthquake reporting

There are lots of good reports out there, right now, on the devastation in Haiti.

I don't mean the pressers done by visiting Foreign Ministry types or the could-have-should-have international community types. Shine those. I mean get the news from the people who are doing the rescuing.

Here's the link for USSOUTHCOM in Operation Unified Response. They are doing *all* the heavy lifting, and don't let anyone deny it.

Get the reports from one of the civilian or volunteer rescue teams like Team Rubicon. These folks are amazing.

Oh yeah... our local team is in action as well, but in fairness so are a lot of other countries.

Here's one more:

CompHyp friend and man-in-the-field reporter Adam Housley from FOXNews (LA base) has been doing the job down in Haiti since his dispatch there the day of the earthquake. Here's his latest posting on FOX Liveshots, but he really can't get much out as internet access is very limited down there. If you are of the Twitterati, you can read his Tweets here and they are often linked to photo or data posted ...of course, you'll get *all* his Twittering there, not just Haiti news... but best of all, look for his reports on the air with the rest of the team(s) from FOXNews.

Now then, when all the dust has settled and some modest calm can be found for the people of Haiti, if someone wants to talk about what it would take to establish a *country of Haiti* where none, and I do mean functionally none, exists right now, I'm all for the job. 'Till that discussion comes, keep your prayers and hopes focused on the rescue/recovery operation. Politics and self-important claims of people's "pride" be damned.

Honduras: ALBA out; Zelaya out too?

This is half a catch-up-report for an item that came in while I was not here, but there's a report of a new twist to it all as well.

Back on January 13th, Honduras withdrew from ALBA, the "Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America" which serves as Hugo Chavez & Company's little pocket version of the Warsaw Pact. Good riddance to bad rubbish.

As long as we are talking of taking out the trash, it would be negligent to overlook this breaking (but not yet widely acknowledged... so believe it when you see it happen) item: The Presidential Spokesman of the Dominican Republic says a deal was signed on Wednesday to guarantee a safe-passage to exile for professional nuisance and former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, to be allowed on 28 January. That would be the day after the inauguration of Porfirio Lobo as President. Apparently the terms are that Dominican President Leonel Fernandez will come escort M. Zelaya from his tin-foil-lined room in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa as a "guest of the Dominican Republic".

I can't say this is terribly pleasing, if it is even going to happen, because...

(1) it puts Zelaya out of reach of prosecution *again*, which likely means he'll never be asked all those really unpleasant questions about treason, narco-trafficking, and looting the banks, and

(2) the last time he was exiled, it worked out so well. (( <-- sarcasm ))

Seriously, this man is a menace to Honduras as long as he has any liberty of action. He's kept his foreign team out beating the drums of insurrection against the Honduran state and his agitator-in-chief Patricia Rodas has been doing the Venezuela and satellite-states circuit keeping the Chavez-Zelaya link going...

...this will not end well if Zelaya is available to play the Quisling role for the Chavistas in the future.

Guinea may be on course for civilian rule

We called it, here at CompHyp, when then-Junta-leader Captain Moussa "Dadis" Camara was shot and had to take medical refuge in Morocco: The Junta is done for. What remains is merely playing out the string.

The facts of life were explained to Camara in a visit to him while he was still in Morocco, and again (more convincingly) in a confrontation between him and his long-time supporter General Sekouba Konate in Bukina Faso last week. Camara stays in exile; The Junta moves toward restoring civilian rule; no promises that Camara can dodge the pending charges that include him in the responsibility for the massacres of last September.

Step one is done:
After reports of a power struggle between his supporters and Gen Konate, Capt Camara agreed last week to take a back seat.

In an agreement signed last week, a national election was pencilled in for six months' time.
Step two started Wednesday:
Guinea's military rulers have chosen opposition leader Jean-Marie Dore to be prime minister, overseeing a return to civilian rule, officials say.
J-M Dore represents the educated "class" in the Opposition, and as the linked article comments, he will have to affirm the support of the trade union leaders to have any real ability to govern... and that's not a sure thing...

But it is a course toward civilian rule (not even a "return" to civilian rule, considering how the country was run for years) and it may well allow for an accounting to be had for the crimes of last September.

Godspeed, Guinea.

Here we go again

Right then, here we go again.

Been a whole lot of *not fun* being obliged elsewhere for the better part of three weeks, but that's not really very important. I'm just pleased that folks kept looking in here, and commenting in the open threads.

Heck, I'm more than pleased... I'm honored that you all care.

Thanks, folks.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sunday Proof-of-Life Push

Yep... obliged elsewhere again. Fear not, I'll be back to this soon.

For now, I'll leave you all with this thread left open for comments if you have any topics you'd like discussed, or suggestions as to things to look into in more detail here. The usual rules still apply: Play Nice.

Thanks to All for coming here and checking on me.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Embassies in Yemen closed Sunday

The U.S. and U.K. Embassies in Yemen are closed 'today' (Sunday) in response to threats:
The White House counterterrorism chief John Brennan said the American Embassy, which was attacked twice in 2008, was shut Sunday because of an "active" Al Qaeda threat. A statement on the embassy's Web site announcing the closure cited "ongoing threats" from the terror group and did not say how long it would remain closed.

In London, Britain's Foreign Office said its embassy was closed for security reasons. It said officials would decide later whether to reopen it on Monday.
source - The AP via FOXNews.

Lots of talk about how USCENTCOM is pushing in another ~US$70 million in counterterror cooperation funds to Yemen. That might be a good investment, if one knows where the money is going. Then there is Gordon Brown's latest foray into trying to spend money to solve problems (other than in actual useful MoD budgets), which the always reliable Jane Novak at Armies of Liberation sees as missing the point.

Far more important may well be the ongoing operations in eastern Yemen, but as long as the Government of Yemen can be bought and sold, there is simply no telling whether the cooperation seen over the last few months is anything but a transitory event.

IF that can be kept in mind, however, the adage about "making hay while the sun shines" seems to apply. Given the amount of al Qaeda out there to mow, let's get to it.



Here's more on the U.S. military involvement in Yemen from CBS Evening News (USA). Sadly, it appears some members of the administration see this as a good time to score some political points...
U.S. officials had kept fairly quiet about the extent of American involvement in the recent Yemeni strikes. But with so many Americans asking what their government is doing to keep them safe after the Christmas Day bombing attempt, many more officials seem eager to describe how they're striking back.
...which, while no surprise, is an unwelcome motivation for otherwise commendable actions.

Here also is the item from the Wall Street Journal on General Petraeus's visit to Yemen on Saturday... and the various political posturings going on in London and Washington... but if that is what is needed to get some freedom of action against GWOT targets in Yemen, and to get the UNSC to finally consider the linkage between the Somalia situation and that in Yemen, then by all means get to it, fellows. Time's a-wasting.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mugabe's man in the church

His name is Nolbert Kunonga.

He claims to still be a man of the cloth.

Yet, this is what he does.
Riot police backing Nolbert Kunonga have beaten up congregants in Harare and locked them out of the city's St Mary's and All Saints Cathedral on Christmas Day despite a high court order instructing police not to interfere in church activities.

Mr Kunonga, who has often voiced support for Mr Mugabe and has been given a farm seized from its former white owners, was bishop of Harare when he split from the Anglican province of Central Africa in 2007 and declared himself an "archbishop".
(bold added by me. Typographical mistakes in the quote have been corrected from the original.)

No recognized Anglican Church leader in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) supports the Mugabe regime. This man is simply another ZANU-PF kleptocrat.

When the day comes, he goes 'to the wall' with the rest.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Here we go... may it be a better year.

akemashite omedetou gozaimasu

Happy New Year to All.