Archive for the ‘elections’ Category

An Imagined Alternative Future History of the Ukraine

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

An alternative future history of the Ukraine might include the airlifting of Western troops to the Ukraine to aid in collective self-defense against ongoing and threatened Russian aggression, the provision of logistical support to the Ukrainian military and police to help them regain or maintain public order in the eastern Ukraine, and the immediate imposition of heavy sanctions against Russia for its continuing threats of further aggression, and as measures of collective self-defense.

In this imagined alternative future history of the Ukraine, these measures would enable the interim government of the Ukraine to restore and maintain public order in the East, hold national elections on May 25, and permit a freely-elected national government to decide on the Ukraine’s internal constitutional arrangements, and with which other nations and international organizations it wants to join, such as the EU or the Eurasian Economic Union backed by Moscow, or both.

In this imagined future history, the bubble of Putin’s delusions would have been burst, and a path would have been opened leading to return of the Crimea to the Ukraine, with naval base agreements for Russia granted in exchange for gas price concessions for the Ukraine, thereby upholding the postwar international political, economic and legal order.

In the short term, Europe and other countries may have had to pay a steep price in economic terms and in terms of a loss of gas supplies from Russia.

But the West remembered the Berlin Airlift of 1948-1949, and the other sacrifices its citizens had made over the previous 75 years to build a world free of military and economic aggression, where relations among states are conducted within the framework established by the U.N. Charter and international law, including the prohibition against the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.

The Trenchant Observer

Karzai moves to get U.S. to guarantee his hold on power after 2014 elections

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

Hamid Karzai, the green-caped magician, has for over 12 years successfully entangled the U.S., ISAF countries, and other international actors in a continuing saga of graft and corruption, in a narco-state run by criminal enterprises with the active participation of government officials, and with the outsiders financing the whole enterprise and defending it with the blood of their soldiers. Time and time again these corrupt criminal enterprises, financed by U.S. taxpayers among others, have undermined any chances for democratic forces to take root in Afghanistan.

The major risk points for the warlords who run Afghanistan’s “kleptocracy” are the periodic elections to the national assembly and for the presidency that he Constitution requires to be held.

In 2009 Karzai emerged victorious from the massive electoral fraud of the first round election, with the help of the U.S. who apparently persuaded Abdullah Abdullah, who would have faced Karzai in a second-round run-off, to withdraw from the race.

Now Karzai has hit upon the brilliant scheme of delaying signature of the status-of-forces agreement with the U.S. and other countries until after the upcoming presidential elections to be held on April 5, 2014. By this stroke of genius, if the West allows it to stand, Karzai will have guaranteed the U.S. and other Western countries’ acquiescence in whatever level of fraud may be required to ensure his hand-picked successor is elected.

See

Steve Kerry, “Kerry Opposes Afghan Delay on Security Deal,” New York Times, November 22, 2013.

Azam Ahmed, “Karzai Says He’ll Wait to Sign Security Pact With U.S. Until Next Year,” New York Times, November 21, 2013.

If they complain about fraud, no status-of-forces agreement will enter into effect. Consequently, Karzai will have enormous leverage.

Because it believes a contingent of U.S. and other ISAF forces should remain, through 2024, the U.S. will in effect become the guarantor of Karzai’s next round of fraudulent elections.

Absolutely brilliant.

Among tHe alternative scenarios would be to dump Karzai and push really hard for free and fair elections in April, which could return a leader not beholden to or a puppet of Karzai. Someone like Abdullah Abdullah, who made eminent good sense and spoke like a real democrat during the 2009 campaign. This would require overcoming resistance from the CIA, which has had many high government officials in Afghanistan on its payroll, and which (it would not be surprising to learn some day) may have or have had had a similar relation with Karzai himself at some point in the past.

Another alternative would be for the U.S. Congress to immediately pass a law providing that no U.S. funds can be spent in Afghanistan after January 1, 2015 if the status of forces agreement does not come into force by January 1, 2014.

But, in the end, the American people will ask more fundamental questions, such as why U.S. taxpayers should pay one more cent, or their soldiers expend one more drop of blood, to keep Karzai and his cronies in power in “Corrupt-istan” (in Dexter Filkins’ memorable phrase).

Why not rebuild Detroit instead?

Why not, in fact, initiate a rapid withdrawal of all U.S. and ISAF forces from Afghanistan beginning January 1, 2014, regardless of what ruse or ploy the green-caped magician comes up with next?

These are some of the questions the American people will be asking.

The Trenchant Observer

Not indexed by Google: Trenchant Observer article with text of Security Council Resolution 2118; the unregulated power of a totalitarian instrument of thought control (updated November 27, 2013

Saturday, September 28th, 2013

One would think that a post containing the text of the first U.N. Security Council decision on Syria mandating anything—here, the destruction of chemical weapons—would be a timely subject for very quick indexing by Google and other search sites. This is even more true for a foreign policy blog that has followed Syria closely for the last two and a half years).

But this is not the case. It hasn’t happened.

The fact that Google is in effect censoring the blog by not indexing it in a timely fashion reveals the incredible power Google has achieved to affect the public discourse in many countries, including the United States. We now know that Google has cooperated with the NSA in violating Americans’ privacy rights, and that it cooperates with foreign governments in filtering content.

Several important points need to be stressed.

The technology created by Google and its dominant market position in the search industry has resulted in the existance of a totalitarian instrument with incredible power to shape political discussion by not indexing certain pages, or not doing so in real time. It systematically filters out the content of foreign newspapers, and news articles with which your previous searches indicate you would not agree.

It is like a newspaper distributor which has absolute power to unilaterally decide if you will get the New York Times the day it is published, or next week, or maybe a week after a critical debate in Congress–or even after the elections.

It is absolutely clear that “net neutrality” must be maintained to protect the free and timely exchange of ideas and opinions in a democratic state, with one exception: web pages of blogs and other pages containg commentary and comment or analysis of current events must be given priority over all other traffic.

And it is equally clear that the Congress must enact legislation that regulates the use of what is in effect a totalitarian instrument of thought control. The government in the U.S. and the European Union should be monitoring Google’s cooperation with authoritarian regimes to filter the free expression of ideas, and also its filtering in the U.S. and Europe.

The power of Google is far too great to be left to the unchecked discretion of a company which gathers and sells the personal information of its users in a manner which would permit a totalitarian dossier about every user in every country to be created.

Google’s motto of “Do no evil” is in urgent need of goverment regulation and enforcement, in the U.S, Europe, and other democracies in the world.

Following is a list of articles by the Trenchant Observer not indexed, or not indexed in a timely or thorough manner, by Google:

The real problem with U.S. policy toward Afghanistan: Hamid Karzai and the CIA,November 26, 2013 (11;47 p.m.)

Russian economic pressures and actions to force Ukraine not to ratify EU treaty violate international law principle of non-intervention, November 26, 2013 (22:13), (Updated November 27, 2013)

Karzai moves to get U.S. to guarantee his hold on power after 2014 elections, November 22′ 2013.

When societies cannot be bothered by mass murder occurring elsewhere, then a perilous threshold has been crossed, November 20, 2013.

Obama’s foreign policy incompetence, and what to do about it, November 1, 2013 (posted at 23:12 MDT)

Not indexed by Google: Trenchant Observer article with text of Security Council Resolution 2118; the unregulated power of a totalitarian instrument of thought control, September 28,2013 (published at 18:23 MDT).

U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts Resolution 2118 establishing regime for the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria, September 27, 2013 (published at 22:32 MDT).

(List updated regulalrly)

The Trenchant Observer

Decisiveness in Egypt: the Military, El-Baradei, and the al-Nour Party

Sunday, July 7th, 2013

UPDATE: Military in Egypt reportedly plan to appoint jurist as interim prime minister; el-Baradei will be his deputy.

See “Wende im Machtkampf: Sozialdemokrat al-Din soll Ägyptens Regierung führen; Ein Jurist soll Ägypten aus der Staatskrise führen: Präsident Mansur will den Sozialdemokraten Said Bahaa al-Din zum neuen Ministerpräsidenten berufen, Nobelpreisträger ElBaradei soll sein Stellvertreter werden,” Der Spiegel, 7 Juli 2013 (23:03 Uhr)

The greatest threat in Egypt, at this moment, would be evidence of indecisiveness on the part of General al-Sisi and the Egyptian military in designating a prime minister for the transitional government.

The central question is whether the al-Nour Party will have a veto over the plans and actions of the military in implementing its road-map for putting Egypt on a path that will lead not just to elections, but to true democracy.

See Said Shehata, “Profiles of Egypt’s political parties: Al-Nour Party,” BBC News, November 25, 2011.

The BBC summary of the parties positions, written in November, 2011, includes the following:

Programme and Goals

Applying Islamic Sharia in all aspects of life is the main goal.

They call for people to follow Islam that was practiced during the time of the Prophet Muhamad and his companions, and for Islamic ethics to be the terms of reference of daily life.

“The party aims at reforming people’s lives according to the Koran and Sunnah and a modern state based on Islamic ethics,” a senior party official, Yousry Hamad, told the BBC.

Al-Nour highlights the right to private property and economic competition as long as it does not damage public interests.

It asserts freedoms and rights as possible within the confines of Islamic Sharia.

Electoral Alliances

The party was part of the Democratic Alliance led by the Freedom and Justice Party, but they withdrew to establish a new bloc.

Yousry Hamad says the party wants a modern state based on Islamic ethics Their Islamic views are more conservative than those of the Freedom and Justice Party regarding Islamic Sharia and the relationship with Israel.

They believe in a strict application of Sharia law, such as implementing Islamic punishments known as Huddud. They also found it hard to deal with non-Islamist parties.

They have formed the Islamist Alliance with other parties including al-Gamma’ al-Islamiyya’s Reconstruction and Development Party and the Salafist al-Asala Party.

Women and Copts

The party programme states the right of Copts to have their separate personal status laws and their freedom of religion.

However, Copts are suspicious about Salafist intentions to apply Islamic Sharia.

Al-Nour calls for a Muslim male to be the president of Egypt because it is a Muslim state.

“If 95% of the population are Muslims, no wonder the president should be a Muslim because the president should preserve Islam,” said Yousry Hammad.

The party has no Copt on their list, saying no Christian approached the party. They call for women to focus on the family, which they say is their main duty in society.

In the party’s view women can be teachers and nurses, but not in leadership positions over men. It has 60 women as on the electoral list.

Behind the al-Nour party’s opposition to the naming of Mohamed al-Baradei as prime minister of the transitional government lies an implicit threat—not necessarily from the party, but from the circumstances and beliefs of some of its followers—that if their demands are not met, some of their followers will resort to political violence.

This is the same fear that has immobilized advocates of modernity in the Arab world for decades.

This implicit threat is likely to arise again when the committee is named to advise on amendments to Morsi’s constitution, which was drafted in illegitimacy and hurriedly submitted to a national referendum without even the minimal time necessary to analyze its provisions and organize an effective opposition campaign on a national scale.

For a look at what Islamist political violence looks like, as it occurred yesterday in Cairo, see

Martin Gehlen, “Armee und Polizei verlieren zunehmend die Kontrolle; Scharfschützen auf Dächern und Menschen mit Macheten auf den Straßen: Die Gewalt in Kairo nimmt zu – auch in Wohnvierteln und einem Krankenhaus,” Die Zeit, 7 Juli 2013 (17:25 Uhr)

It is understandable that al-Sisi and the military might hesitate in the face of the opposition of the Salafists represented by the al-Nour Party.

Yet they must reflect on the fact that the ultimate struggle in Egypt is between the forces of modernity including moderate Islamist forces, on the one hand, and the backward-looking Islamist parties which seek to impose a strict form of sharia or Islamic law on the poplulation, on the other. The intention of the latter was clearly manifested when the Muslim Brotherhood and their Freedom and Justice Party shoved through Morsi’s draft constitution after executing a legal coup d’etat on November 22.

While these challenges must be taken fully into account, the military will also have to assess the potential impact of and cost to their effort of appearing hesitant and indecisive, or even worse, appointing an interim prime minister who is incapable of leading the reforms that will be required if their military intervention is to achieve its stated purpose of putting Egypt back on the path to democracy.

In short, they need to appoint a transitional prime minister who is not merely acceptable to different political groups, but who can actually lead.

The Trenchant Observer

Egyptian military reverses Morsi’s November 22 coup, restores nation to democratic path (with full text of Army’s July 3, 2013 statement)

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

Statement of General Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi, head of Egyptian Armed Forces, announcing the overthrow of President Morsi

Following is the statement delivered by General Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi, the head of the Egyptian Armed Forces, on July 3, 2013, regarding the military takeover and road-map for the future in Egypt:

The Egyptian Armed Forces first declared, is still declaring and will always declare that it stands distant from political forces. The Armed Forces, based on its insightfulness, has been called by the Egyptian people for help, not to hold the reins of power, yet to discharge its civil responsibility and answer demands of responsibility. This is the message received by the EAF and heard in all of the country.

In turn this call was heeded by the EAF, and it has understood the essence of this message. Before it has come close to the political scene adhering to its responsibility, the EAF over the past month has inserted efforts, direct and indirect to contain the situation within and achieve national reconciliation among all institutions, including the presidency.

Since the past, the army has called for national dialogue, yet it was rejected by the presidency in the last moment. Many calls, initiatives followed until to date. The EAF similarly on more than one occasion presented a strategic assessment domestically and internationally, which contained the most eminent (this part unclear).

The EAF as a patriotic institution to contain division and confront challenges and perils to exit the current crisis. As we closely monitored the current crisis, the command of EAF met with the president on June 2nd where it presented the opinion of the AF on the state of (the country) and (relayed) the cause of masses and Egyptian people. Hopes were all pinned on national conciliation. Yet, the address of the president yesterday and before the expiry of the 48-hour ultimatum did not meet the demands of the people.

As a result, it was necessary for the EAF to act on its patriotic and historic responsibility without sidelining, marginalising any party, where during the meeting a road map was agreed upon which includes the following:

Suspending the constitution provisionally; The chief justice of the constitutional court will declare the early presidential elections; Interim period until president elected. Chief Justice will have presidential powers; A technocrat, capable national government will be formed; The committee will offer all its expertise to review the new constitution; The Supreme Constitutional Law will address the draft law and prepare for parliamentary elections;

Securing and guaranteeing freedom of expression, freedom of media. All necessary measures will be taken to empower youth so they can take part in decision making processes. The EAF appeal to the Egyptian people with all its spectrum to steer away from violence and remain peaceful. The Armed Forced warn it will stand up firmly and strictly to any act deviating from peacefulness based on its patriotic and historic responsibility.

May God save Egypt and the honorable, defiant people of Egypt.

–”Transcript: Egypt’s army statement; Statement of Abdul Fatah Khalil al-Sisi, head of Egyptian Armed Forces, announcing the ovethrow of President Morsi,” Al-Jazeera, July 3, 2013 (last modified 20:59).

See also:

Mary Mourad, “Revolution part 2: The fall of Mohamed Morsi; In response to millions of Egyptians taking to streets, army and number of political and religious leaders propose roadmap aimed at ending year of unrest,” ahramonline, July 3, 2013.

Those who have followed the details of developments in Egypt since Mohamed Morsi’s coup d’etat on November 22, 2012, will readily understand that the Army’s military takeover was an intervention to re-establish the constitutional order in Egypt. This fact was made abundantly clear by the highly symbolic selection of the president of Egypt’s Constitutional Court to act as interim leader of the government.

Foreign news reporters and analysts should fully inform themselves before simply labeling the Egyptian Army’s action as a military “coup d’etat”. A good place to begin would be with a legal analysis of Morsi’s actions, which can be found in previous articles published here.

For links to prvious articles by The Trenchant Observer on developments in Egypt since November, type “Morsi” into the Search box in the upper right-hand corner of the home page.

The Trenchant Observer

Political Earthquake in Egypt: Military Takeover Imminent

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Egypt army statement in full

Following demonstrations larger than those at the peak of the 2011 revolution against Hosni Mubarak, estimated by the Interior Ministry to involve some 14-17 million people according to Al Jazeera, the Egyptian Army issued the following statement on Monday, July 1, 2013 (text in full):

Egypt and the whole world witnessed yesterday demonstrations by the great people of Egypt expressing their opinion in an unprecedented, peaceful and civilised way.

Everyone saw the movement of the Egyptian people and heard their voices with the greatest respect and concern. It is necessary that the people receive a reply to their movement and the call from every party with any responsibility in the dangerous circumstances surrounding the nation.

As a main party in the considerations of the future and based on their patriotic and historic responsibilities to protect security and stability, the armed forces state the following:

• The armed forces will not be a party in the circles of politics or governance and are not willing to step out of the role defined for them by the basic ideals of democracy based on the will of the people.

• The national security of the state is exposed to extreme danger by the developments the nation is witnessing, and this places a responsibility on us, each according to his position, to act as is proper to avert these dangers. The armed forces sensed early on the dangers of the current situation and the demands the great people have at this time. Therefore, it previously set a deadline of a week for all political forces in the country to come to a consensus and get out of this crisis. However, the week has passed without any sign of an initiative. This is what led to the people coming out with determination and resolve, in their full freedom, in this glorious way, which inspired surprise, respect and attention at the domestic, regional and international levels.

• Wasting more time will only bring more division and conflict, which we have warned about and continue to warn about. The noble people have suffered and have found no one to treat them with kindness or sympathize with them. That puts a moral and psychological burden on the armed forces, which find it obligatory that everyone drop everything and embrace these proud people, which have shown they are ready to do the impossible if only they feels there is loyalty and dedication to them.

• The armed forces repeat their call for the people’s demands to be met and give everyone 48 hours as a last chance to shoulder the burden of the historic moment that is happening in the nation, which will not forgive or tolerate any party that is lax in shouldering its responsibility.

• The armed forces put everyone on notice that if the demands of the people are not realised in the given time period, it will be obliged by its patriotic and historic responsibilities and by its respect for the demands of the great Egyptian people to announce a road map for the future and the steps for overseeing its implementation, with participation of all patriotic and sincere parties and movements – including the youth, who set off the glorious revolution and continue to do so – without excluding anyone.

• A salute of appreciation and pride to the sincere and loyal men of the Armed Forces, who have always borne and will continue to bear their patriotic responsibilities toward the great people of Egypt with determination, decisiveness and pride. God save Egypt and its proud, great people.

–”Egypt army statement in full; Military says it will not stand idle as “the national security of the state is in severe danger; The Egyptian army on Monday gave politicians 48 hours to resolve the country’s political crisis or face intervention by the military,” Al Jazeera, July 1, 2013 (last updated 19:14)

The demonstrations and the Statement by the Egyptian army represent a political earthquake signaling an imminent military takeover of control of the government, whose impact will reverberate throughout many countries in the Middle East for years to come.

The Obama administration has provided shameful support to Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood as Morsi launched a coup against the Constitutional order on November 22, 2012, assuming all power, then using dictatorial powers to block action by the Constitutional Court which would have held the election of the Upper House of the National Assembly unconstitutional.  He did so through the use of Hitler-style “Brownshirt” tactics to block access to the court by its members, who also reported receiving numerous death threats.

Morsi then pushed through a draft constitution which was illegitimate because the body that drafted it was elected unconstitutionally, calling a forced national referendum on what was—hidden in its provisions–an extreme Islamist constitution, on December 15 and 22, under circumstances where opponents had no time or effective opportunity to analyze its provisions or to organize campaigns against its approval in the referendum.

Latest New Reports

For news reports on these late-breaking events, see

Ulrike Putz (Kairo), “Machtkampf in Ägypten: Militärputsch mit Ankündigung;Ägyptens Militär setzt der Politik ein 48-Stunden-Ultimatum – und hat Präsident Mursi damit wohl praktisch des Amtes enthoben. Nun muss die Opposition nur noch zwei Tage lang einen Kompromiss verzögern, schon müssen die Generäle einschreiten. Fraglich ist nur, wie die Islamisten auf einen Putsch reagieren würden,” Der Spiegel, 1 Juli 2013 (20:11 Uhr).

Bel Trew, “Millions of Egyptians turn out nationwide for anti-Morsi rallies; 7 dead in violence,” Al-Ahram (alahramonline) (Cairo), July 1, 2013.

Egyptian Newspapers

For the latest news from Egyptian newspapers in English, see (in addition to Al-Ahram, above), the following:

Al-Ahram Weekly

Egypt Independent

Egypt Daily News

Aswat Masriya

CoptsUnited: A Newspaper for All Egyptians

Egypt Online (Egyptian State Information Service. The site contains the official text of the army statement of July 1, 2013.

Daily News Egypt

Obama and the Struggle for the Rule of Law in Egypt

As noted above, by supporting the Muslim Brotherhood at the critical moment when Morsi was carrying out a coup d’état on November 22, 2012, Obama and the United States–through excessive caution in revolutionary times–got on the wrong side of history.

It is now time for the president to get out from under the wheel of history, and to get out in front of the struggle for democracy, by voicing his strong support for constitutional government and the rule of law in Egypt, and all those who support these goals. 

This means, at a minimum, abrogation of all of the elections and legal changes, including Morsi’s imposed constitution, that followed his dictatorial decree of November 22, 2012, and erasing their effects. 

What is required as a minimum, in short, is the restoration of the status quo ante before Morsi’s coup on November 22, 2012.

If Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood are unable to lead the nation to this result, as is likely, it appears that the Egyptian people will insist that Morsi himself leave the scene, and that the Muslim Brotherhood withdraw from all government positions they may currently hold.

The Trenchant Observer

Egypt and the struggle for the rule of law: Background to Morsi’s legal coup, imposition of his draft constitution, and by-passing of the Constitutional Court

Saturday, June 29th, 2013

For background to Morsi’s coup in Egypt, bypassing the rule of law to impose a new constitution, see the articles found in the search box under the tags “Egypt” and “Morsi”.

The list of articles includes the following:

“How Islamist is Morsi’s draft constitution?,” The Trenchant Observer, December 15, 2012. This article includes links to earlier articles.

The Trenchant Observer

Chavista seizure of power through fraudulent elections and control of electoral machinery apparently underway in Venezuela

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

(developing story)

The international news media willingly, and almost casually, reported that Nicolás Maduro, the Chavista presidential candidate in Venezuela, had been “elected” president in the elections held on April 14, when if they had only taken the effort to look into the facts they might at most have reported that the National Elections Council (four of whose five members are reputed Chavista ideologues) had declared Maduro the winner by the thinnist of nargins (1,7%, which represents some 230,000 votos out of a total of almost 15 million valid votes case), while his opponent Enrique Capriles had accused Maduro of widesspread fraud, and demanded a recount vote by vote. If they had inwquire even further, they might have also reported that the declaration of Maduro as president occurred well before all of thevotes hadbeen counted.

El Pais,one of the leading papers in the world, reported–almost alone–the details of Capriles’ charges:

Capriles and his command have pointed to evidence of some of the irregularities which have been formally denounced this Monday before the electoral authorities. Among them are photographs that show “assisted voting” by Chavista observers, who watched over the voters and indicated to them in front of the voting machine who they should vote for. He said that the obsrvers from the opposition were expelled by force, in some cases using firearms, from 183 voting centers; that he possessed reports of 535 voting machines which were damaged furing the voting process, which affected the votes of some 700,000 voters; that it is calculated that there are 600,000 voters who have died but who are still registered on the voting lists; and that in some voting centers the (Chavista) candidate Maduro obtained up to 500% more votes than did the deceased Chavez in the presidential elections of October, 2012. when he obtained his fourth re-election. “Who can blieve that Maduro has been able to obtain more votes in a votng center than Chavez?” Capriles asked, showing the offical registy of hundreds of recorded voting tallies where this result was produced.

The full Spanish text is as follows:

Capriles y su comando han enseñado las pruebas de algunas de las irregularidades que han sido denunciadas formalmente este lunes ante la autoridad electoral. Entre ellas, fotografías que muestran el “voto asistido” por testigos chavistas, que vigilaban a los electores y les indicaban frente a la máquina de votación por quién sufragar. Dijo que los testigos de la oposición fueron expulsados por la fuerza, en algunos casos utilizando armas de fuego, de 183 centros electorales. Que posee reportes de 535 máquinas de votación dañadas durante el proceso, que afectaron el voto de unos 700 mil electores. Que se calcula que hay 600 mil electores ya fallecidos y aún registrados en el padrón electoral. Y que en algunos centros, el candidato Maduro obtuvo hasta 500% más escrutinios de los que obtuvo el fallecido presidente Chávez en las presidenciales de octubre de 2012, donde logró su cuarta reelección. “¿Quién puede creer que Maduro haya podido sacar en un centro de votación más votos que Chávez”, preguntó Capriles, mostrando el registro de cientos de actas donde se produjo este resultado.

–See Maye Primera (Miami,”Capriles suspende las protestas tras los siete muertos por enfrentamientos; El líder opositor venezolano insiste en la auditoría de las elecciones presidenciales y llama a sus seguidores a “recogerse” de las calles para evitar estallidos de violencia; También ha pedido diálogo para solventar la crisis política que atraviesa Venezuela,” El Pais, 17 de abril de 2013 (1:26 CET)

Given Maduro’s massive drop in the polls in the last weeks of the election (10-14%), Capriles’ harges, which are extremely serious, appear to be plausible.

In fact, looking at all of the factors in play, it is hard to escape the conclusion that there is a very strong possibility that Maduro and the Chavistas are trying to steal the election by fraud, and to avoid an accurante recount by virture of the fact that they currently control the key state instiutions, including the Electoral Commission and the Supreme Court.

The Trenchant Observer

Venezuelan “Chavista” candidate Nicolas Maduro has encounter with “a little bird” embodying Chavez’ spirit, communicates by whistling with the bird

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Nicolas Maduro, the Chavista candidate in the presidential elections to be held on April 14 in Venezuela, following the death of Hugo Chavez, recounted how “a little bird” embodying the spirit of Chavez blessed the launching of his campaign.

“I felt there as if he was giving us a blessing, saying to us: ‘Today launch the battle. Go to Victory. You have our blessings.’ That is what I felt in my very soul.”

Así lo afirmó durante el lanzamiento de su campaña en la casa del fallecido presidente venezolano.
En medio de la reunión, afirmó que sintió que el fallecido mandatario se le apareció en forma de “pajarito chiquitico” y lo bendijo al arrancar hoy la campaña electoral. (Lea también: Lula da Silva apoya a Maduro)
“Lo sentí ahí como dándonos una bendición, diciéndonos: ‘hoy arranca la batalla. Vayan a la victoria. Tienen nuestra bendiciones’. Así lo sentí yo desde mi alma”, relató Maduro en el patio de la casa natal de Chávez en Sabaneta, en el estado Barinas, en el occidente de Venezuela.
Maduro, que estaba acompañado de los hermanos de Chávez, sostuvo que al orar esta mañana en una pequeña capilla católica y al encontrarse totalmente solo, apareció el ave, con la que se comunicó con silbidos.
“De repente entró un pajarito, chiquitico, y me dio tres vueltas acá arriba”, dijo señalando su cabeza e imitando un aleteo. El pájaro, prosiguió Maduro algo emocionado, “se paró en una viga de madera y empezó a silbar, un silbido bonito”, dijo imitándolo.
“Me lo quedé viendo y también le silbé, pues. ‘Si tú silbas yo silbo’, y silbé. El pajarito me vio raro, ¿no? Silbó un ratico, me dio una vuelta y se fue y yo sentí el espíritu de él”, de Hugo Chávez, remarcó.

–EFE, 2 de abril de 2013, publicado en El Tiemo, 2 de Abril de 2013.

The Trenchant Observer

Hamid Karzai’s Scurrilous Attacks on the U.S. in Afghanistan

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

Recent News and Opinion

Alyssa J. Rubin, News Analysis: Karzai Bets on Vilifying U.S. to Shed His Image as a Lackey,” New York Times, March 12, 2013

Alyssa J. Rubin and Rod Norland, “U.S. General Puts Troops on Security Alert After Karzai Remarks,” New York Times, March 13, 2013

Leslie H. Gelb, “To Hell With Karzai,” The Daily Beast, March 12, 2013 (4:45 AM ET)

Ewen MacAskill (in Washington), “White House: claims of US collusion with Taliban ‘categorically false’; Obama spokesman rejects Karzai’s criticism of US as Afghan in police uniform kills seven including two American troops,” The Guardian, March 11, 2013 (15.51 ET)

Analysis

The United States has tolerated Hamid Karzai’s scurrilous attacks on the U.S. over the years, reacting with “understanding” that, e.g., Karzai is speaking to a domestic audience, or is acting crazy again.

But the U.S. has never reacted to these outrageous attacks with any understanding of their impact in a culture based on honor, and as a result has suffered the double humiliation of being attacked falsely and of being viewed as not having the courage to defend one’s honor.

Such attacks have worked for Karzai in the past, due to the American insistence that its envoys and military commanders get along with the green-caped magician. Karzai has proven far more adept than his allies at manipulating the other party or parties in an alliance which has kept him and the country’s corrupt political elite in power at the cost of U.S. and allied soldiers’ and civilians’ lives, and billions of dollars funneled into the coffers of government officials in what Dexter Filkins has quite aptly termed “Corruptistan”.

In 2009, the U.S. and NATO had a chance to bring Karzai to heel when decisions were being made on whether to insist that a second round in the presidential elections in Afghanistan actually be held, following the first-round elections held on August 20. Karzai’s fraud was so immense, that even the International Elections Commission, which found electoral corruption sufficient to require a second-round run-off,  barely touched the surface of the real fraud, due to the highly selective criteria it used to sample precincts for voting abuses.

The United States blinked, and backed Karzai instead of the democratic project the elections had been intended to further.

In view of the American backing of Karzai and the latter’s failure to guarantee that the second-round election would be fairly conducted, Abdullah Abdullah, the candidate who came in second with backing from the Northern Alliance and others, withdrew.

In any event, it had been obvious for some time that Karzai was the favored candidate of the U.S., for reasons which may have included his brother’s involvement in Kandahar with the CIA as well as that of many other high government officials who were on the CIA payroll.  While there is no public evidence of direct involvement of Hamid Karzai with the CIA, such a relationship now or in the past seems quite plausible given the CIA’s penetration of the highest ranks of the Afghan government, and therefore cannot be ruled out.

For whatever reasons, America could not break with Karzai.

As a result, without improvement of governance in the country to keep pace with military gains, Afghanistan now faces a period of growing instability in which it is fairly likely that the Taliban will achieve increasing control of the countryside as U.S. and ISAF forces draw down and essentially withdraw from the country.

Obama’s decisions in 2009 relating to the presidential elections constituted one of his worst foreign policy failures since assuming office.

The fact that the elections and decisions regarding the holding of the second-round election were not addressed within Obama’s much-touted Afghanistan policy review group revealed either the president’s incompetence in the foreign policy arena, or the fact that he and the CIA had decided issues relating to Karzai outside of the Afghan policy review process, or both of the above. The fact that then CIA Director Leon Panetta did not attend the last sessions of the policy review group lend support to the second hypothesis.

As for Karzai, Thomas Friedman predicted with unerring accuracy the following in an op-ed piece in March, 2010:

We have thousands of U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan and more heading there. Love it or hate it, we’re now deep in it, so you have to want our engagement there to build something that is both decent and self-sustaining — so we can get out. But I still fear that Karzai is ready to fight to the last U.S. soldier. And once we clear, hold and build Afghanistan for him, he is going to break our hearts.
–Thomas L. Friedman, “This Time We Really Mean It,” New York Times, March 30, 2010

As long as Karzai is calling the shots, the chances for the kinds of improvements in governance that are required for the government to remain in power and hold off the Taliban after the draw-down and departure of U.S. and ISAF troops do not appear great.

The Trenchant Observer

For (numerous) previous articles on Afghanistan by the Trenchant Observer, use the Search box in the upper right-hand corner of the home page.