By Cheryl Pellerin | American Forces Press Service
July 20, 2013
ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, July 20, 2013 – Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter began a weeklong trip today that will take him first to Israel and then to Uganda and Ethiopia in sub-Saharan Africa.
During Carter’s first official trip to Israel as deputy secretary, he will meet with senior Israeli defense officials to discuss issues of mutual strategic importance and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the relationship between the United States and Israel.
While in Israel, Carter will meet with Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, Deputy Defense Minister Amos Gilad and National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, and attend an official dinner hosted by Ehud Shani, director-general of the Ministry of Defense.
After leaving Israel, Carter will stop briefly in Uganda to meet with senior Ugandan government and defense officials. The deputy secretary will thank the Ugandans for their continued commitment in maintaining and improving security in the region.
From Uganda, Carter will travel to Ethiopia to meet with Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegu and senior defense officials to discuss issues of mutual importance. The deputy secretary also will thank the Ethiopians for the positive and important security role they continue to play in the region
More than £160 million of British foreign aid is being channelled through an offshore investment fund used to buy Boeing jets for an African airline and other big business deals.
The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund (EAIF) has received funding from the British taxpayer through a set of offshore companies.
The British aid money is used to put together multi-million pound business deals in Africa.
A recent deal, signed last year, helped finance the purchase of 10 Boeing 787 Dreamliners – the world’s most advanced passenger plane – by Ethiopian Airlines, owned by the Ethiopian government.
The EAIF is managed by the Frontier Markets Fund Managers (FMFM), which receives about £4 million a year for its services from the money it receives from the Department for International Development (DfID) and other governments.
FMFM’s staff are based at Standard Bank in London, which receives 70 per cent of the profits the fund earns.
But the company is registered in Mauritius, where foreign companies receive an 80 per cent discount on corporation tax, meaning any profits earned by companies linked to the fund pay tax at a rate of 3 per cent.
This compares with a UK rate of 23 per cent.
Critics said yesterday that DfID appeared to be using aid money to pay City bankers and fund corporate deals rather than help the world’s poor.
“International aid should be used to help the world’s poorest, not invest in international airlines,” said Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.
John Hilary, executive director of the anti-poverty charity War on Want, said: “DfID is legally obliged to use the aid budget to combat poverty around the world. Instead, it is now channelling hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money to private investment funds run out of tax havens.”
He said using Mauritius as a base allowed companies funded by DfID to escape public scrutiny.
“The British public has a right to know why aid money is being used to prop up wealthy corporate enterprises rather than fighting poverty as it is supposed to do.”
EAIF was set up in 2002 by the then Labour government and received £68.5 million over the next eight years. The Coalition has committed £100 million of further funding until 2015.
FMFM also runs another investment fund called GuarantCo, which has received £64 million from DfID in the past decade.
The EAIF receives its money through the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), also registered in Mauritius. PIDG was set up by DfID with funding from the Swiss, Dutch and Swedish governments.
EAIF provided a £20 million bridging loan for the Ethiopian deal.
Nick Rouse, FMFM’s managing director, said the fund – because of its backing from DfID and other governments – could secure financing for schemes that commercial banks would not lend to.
Mauritius was used to register the varuious funds because it had a developed regulatory system able to handle large sums of money from a number of donor countries, he said.
Mr Rouse said the financing of the Dreamliners allowed Ethiopian Airlines to compete with rivals such as Emirates. “They couldn’t get the money anywhere else,” he added.
A DfID spokesman said: “Providing commercial loans when other finance is simply not available helps African economies to flourish and end their reliance on development assistance. This is an excellent example of how investing in local companies and creating jobs can lay the foundations for future growth.”
World Bank Board approves investigation into allegations of bankrolling human rights abuses in Ethiopia
July 16, 2013
The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors has approved a full investigation into whether the Bank has breached its policies in Ethiopia and contributed to a government program of forced population transfers known as ‘villagization.’ The Bank’s move follows the resolution of a five-month standoff with the Ethiopian government, which had publicly threatened in May not to cooperate with the investigation. A preliminary report issued by the Bank’s internal watchdog, the Inspection Panel, recommended the investigation in February after receiving a complaint submitted by indigenous people from Ethiopia’s Gambella region.
The complaint alleges that the Anuak people have suffered grave harm as a result of the World Bank-financed Promoting Basic Services Project (PBS), which has provided 1.4 billion USD in budget support for the provision of basic services to the Ethiopian Government since 2006. The Bank approved an additional $600 million for the next phase of the project on September 25th – one day after the complaint was filed. A legal submission accompanying the complaint, prepared by Inclusive Development International (IDI), presents evidence that the PBS project is directly and substantially contributing to the Ethiopian Government’s Villagization Program, which has been taking place in Gambella and other regions of Ethiopia since 2010 and involves the relocation of approximately 1.5 million people.
According to the Villagization Action Plan of the Gambella regional government, villagization is a voluntary process, which aims to increase access to basic services, improve food security, and “bring socioeconomic and cultural transformation of the people.” The services and facilities supported through PBS are precisely the services and facilities that are supposed to be provided at new settlement sites under the Villagization Program.
The complainants, on the other hand, describe a process of intimidation, beatings, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture in military custody, rape and killing. Dispossessed of their fertile, ancestral lands and displaced from their livelihoods, Gambellans have been forced into new villages with few of the promised basic services and little access to food or land suitable for farming, which has in some cases led to starvation. They believe that many of the areas where people have been forcibly removed have been awarded to domestic and foreign investors.
In its official response to the complaint, the Bank’s management denies any connection between PBS and villagization. The Inspection Panel, however, found that this not a “tenable position.” The Panel notes that, “the two programs depend on each other, and may mutually influence the results of the other.” It found that there is a “plausible link” between the two programs but needs to engage in further fact-finding to make definitive findings.
The report also noted that the Bank is required under its policies to ensure that the proceeds of any loan are used for the purposes for which the loan was granted, and that it must assess project risks and report to the Board on actions taken to address those risks. The Panel reports that the case “raises issues of potential serious non-compliance with Bank policy.” It recommends a full investigation in order to determine conclusively whether or not the Bank complied with its policies and procedures, including those intended to protect the rights of indigenous peoples and those subjected to involuntary resettlement.
David Pred, IDI Managing Associate, welcomed the decision of the World Bank Board of Directors. “The next step is to ensure that the Inspection Panel has free and unfettered access to Gambella, without putting local people at risk of reprisals,” he stated. “I’m not sure if that is possible given the level of repression that exists today in Ethiopia, but I am sure the Panel will do its best under the circumstances to confirm the facts and keep people safe.”
The complaint, the Bank’s response and the Inspection Panel’s Eligibility Report are available here.
The US leader’s successors will be able to target anyone
By Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick | Financial Times
July 10, 2013
On the campaign trail, Barack Obama lambasted the policies of George W Bush that had made the US an
international pariah – war and contempt for human rights. For us, part of the senator’s attraction as a candidate was that he promised transparency, opposed the Iraq war and repudiated militarism. So it is hard not to feel disappointed.
Mr Obama now embraces – and has extended – some of the ideas he attacked. This is not just the way that critics on the left, like us, see things. Ari Fleischer, Mr Bush’s former press secretary, said: “It’s like George Bush is having his fourth term … [Mr Obama] is a hypocrite.” In truth, this is a little facile. The president has rejected key elements of the neoconservative programme.
This administration has, more or less, halted torture, removed troops from Iraq, set a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan, paid lip service to nuclear abolition and refused to invade Iran. The president has been more sceptical than most in Washington about intervening in Syria. He also sought to close Guantánamo, though his efforts thus far have been feeble.
So, no, he is not Mr Bush. But there is actually a case to be made that Mr Obama is, in crucial respects, actually worse than his predecessor. We know, from the recent revelations made by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, what panoptic capabilities the more than 1m Americans with security clearances have. This army is deployed to monitor domestic and foreign populations on a scale hitherto unimaginable.
Mr Obama insists there are safeguards in place to ensure the streams of data and warehouses full of stored records will not be abused; the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, for example.
But this body appears to be a rubber stamp. It approved every request made of it last year. It rejected only two of the 8,591 requests submitted between 2008 and 2012.
Let us take the White House’s word that this great power will not be abused, however. Let us assume the best of Mr Obama. Even if his administration does not wantonly trawl through the trillions of emails, photos and phone conversations passing through the National Security Agency, there is someone who will. Once such data are collected, it will be eventually accessed. It is a temptation too far.
J. Edgar Hoover, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from 1935 to 1972, demonstrated this truth over a long and ignominious career. He placed Martin Luther King Jr under surveillance – only one of the civic leaders that he sought to discredit. Future leaders will not need to resort to water cannon and tear gas to stop protesters. Nor will they even need to plant bugs. The NSA now has an interception machine that East Germany’s Stasi could only have dreamt about.
Furthermore, if subtle coercion fails and force is required, Mr Obama and his successors will have the wherewithal to target anyone, anywhere, with the utmost precision and the deadliest means. The US is establishing absolute mastery over land, sea, air, space and cyber space – full-spectrum dominance.
We have seen this starting to take form: Mr Obama pores over weekly “kill lists”. He chooses who to target with drones, new, more sophisticated versions of which are being rapidly developed, and not only by the US. But Mr Obama and his advisers pay little heed to the fact that these programmes create more terrorists than they eliminate. Nowhere is the US more hated than in Pakistan, where drones have killed thousands.
Furthermore, American technological superiority will not protect the US. In the 1940s, President Harry Truman believed the Soviet Union was a long way from producing nuclear weapons and that the US would have a long nuclear monopoly. It lasted only until 1949. The US will make a similar miscalculation if it deploys drones across the world, sends weapons to space or normalises cyber warfare.
Mr Obama has become a more amiable and efficient manager of the American empire. And, in the name of national security, he is laying the foundation for a frighteningly dystopian future by combining full-spectrum surveillance with full-spectrum military dominance.
Mr Obama’s dogged global pursuit of the courageous Mr Snowden is only the latest shameful case in point. It was almost exactly 60 years ago that Jean-Paul Sartre warned Americans: “Your country is sick with fear … do not be astonished if we cry out from one end of Europe to the other: Watch out! America has the rabies! Cut all ties which bind us to her, otherwise we will in turn be bitten and run mad!”
Mr Obama, under whom hunger strikers are force fed and whistleblowers prosecuted with unparalleled ferocity, needs to recalibrate before he drives the final nails into the coffin of a once- proud American republic.
Oliver Stone is an Academy Award-winning writer and director. Peter Kuznick is a professor of history at American University. They have co-authored the documentary series and book ‘The Untold History of the United States’
Mary Schiavo, a former U.S. Transportation Department inspector general, talks about a fire at London’s Heathrow airport today involving a Boeing Co. 787 jet operated by Ethiopian Airlines Enterprise. A second Dreamliner, operated by Thomson Airways Ltd., was forced to abandon a trip with technical issues after takeoff from Manchester, U.K. Schiavo speaks with Cory Johnson on Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg West.”