How we poison ourselves

We do it slowly, in subtle ways.   And we do it, with knowledge of some of the best scientific institutions in the world.  We do it for the love of money. Retired folks who are tired of the noise and pollution of the cities, may feel they have found paradise in rural America, but the dangers of paradise are real and likely to grow worse.   Sending toddlers off to be with grandma and grandpa down on their little piece of tranquility during the summer months may no longer be so good.

The intent of a pesticide is to destroy the specific agricultural pests, without causing harm to the general animal population, which includes fish and bees.  Of course, the agricultural pesticide must also be safe for the human population, which includes people who live near farms and farm workers.

There was strong evidence that the chemical, Chloropyrifos, was  unsafe for agricultural use.  The Administrator  of the EPA, Scott Pruitt is making America great again, only if America can be considered the conglomeration of agricultural interests and agrichemical and fossil fuel companies.

I will say it again- it is a subtle threat.  People don’t know what  they are ingesting.  If a car manufacturer produces a car with faulty air bags, then consumer can sue them.  But only if they survive the accident!  But, if there is slow buildup of harmful neurotoxins as a result of the air we breath or the fish we eat, it may be decades before the full effects are discovered.    We are losing one of the most vital parts of our ecosystem,  bees, which pollinators of  plants.  Without them,  we can’t grow much- see below:

Scott Pruitt

Bees as Pollinators

Organophosphates contain neurotoxins.   The Obama administration proposed regulations on one particular pesticide,  chlorpyrifos, which is particularly harmful to children living near farms as it can effect their brain development.

Pesticides must be approved for use by the EPA.  Once approved, chemical companies invest millions of dollars to produce and market the chemicals worldwide. If there are health risks discovered after approval,  then the chemical companies have the option of withdrawing the pesticide from the market, fearing they might be sued, or continue to produce the pesticide and live with the legal consequences.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

NYT,  March 20, 2017:  E.P.A. Chief, Rejecting Agency’s Science, Chooses Not to Ban Insecticide

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Trump’s Travel Ban

Legal action by lower courts prevented implementation of Trump’s travel ban.  They like to refer it as a travel ban rather than a Muslim ban.

The US Supreme Court has not completed its review, however has allowed the ban to be implemented for visa applicants  from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen who do not have a “bona fide” relationship to  persons and entity  in the US.   As it stands, visa applicants from these countries will need to show this relationship to be able to travel.

So, it’s likely that immigration lawyers and travel agents  are doing a great business, helping visa applicants  find the necessary contacts within the US, including relatives and  educational programs, to satisfy the  “bona-fide” relationship.  I suspect the first time travelers from these countries applying for tourist visas will have the most difficulties.

Many visitors applying for tourist visas from outside of the US are rejected on the basis that they have not provided sufficient evidence that they will return after their visa expires.   Generally, if they have long employment history and own their home, this improves their chance of acceptance.

Trump’s ban will apply to refugees  from these countries.   There are many refugees from Syria, Yemen and Libya who have no place to go back to.   The Diversity Visa Lottery winners, will have an extremely difficult hurtles.  The following is from a story in the Washington Post:

Since its inception, the lottery has brought more than a million people to the United States. But not all the winners end up with green cards. Some never follow up. Others cannot provide documents, fail in-person interviews at local embassies or consulates, or get cold feet.

Winning is often a mixed blessing. Once awarded a visa, winners have only six months to move to the United States. They must hurriedly wind up their affairs, leave behind careers and relatives, and pick a new place to live.

Tarig Elhakim was in medical school in Sudan when his father persuaded him to apply in the fall of 2014. He was stunned when he won. He began studying American history and geography in preparation for his move. And he spent months battling Sudanese bureaucrats for documents, which then had to be translated into English.

His interview wasn’t until August of last year. At the U.S. Embassy, he saw one dejected applicant after another emerge from the interview room. But when it was his turn, the official stamped his papers and said, “Welcome to America.”

“I had goose bumps all over my body,” said Elhakim, 22. “It was one of the happiest moments of my life.”

But America was changing. In 2015, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims such as Elhakim coming to the United States. Then Trump was elected president in November.

Elhakim decided he had better move to the United States before Trump took office. He flew to Washington on Dec. 28, less than a month before the inauguration. He now lives in Arlington, Va., and is studying for his medical license so he can work as a doctor here.

 It is not the way to make America Great Again.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Bob Corker’s Action on Arms Sale is Spot On

Bob Corker, a Republican from Tennessee, moved to block sales of arms to the GCC countries, until there is resolution on the Qatar crisis.   Already the Senate has approved 500 million dollars of arms shipments to the Saudi Arabia.  The Qatar crisis has the potential to escalate once the 10 days expires on the 13 demand letter on Friday. Numerous commentaries on the crisis have appeared in the New York Times and Washington Post, showing a deep understanding of the problems in the region.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

NYT, OpEd, Joost Hiltermann Qatar Punched above its Weight.  Now it is paying the price.

NYT, Senator puts a hold on any future arms sales to Persian Gulf nations over Qatar Feud 

Perhaps the song should be “What’s terrorism got to do with this?”  music by Tina Turner.

 

The Awful Libyan Mess – Part 1

  • East and west government centers (Tobruk and Tripoli)

In preparation for the posting on the isolation of  Qatar,  I found one news item particularly bizarre- the “eastern government”  of Libya  based in Tobruk,  had gone along with Saudi Arabia, and cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar.    There is no eastern Libya, but the eastern part of Libya is being administered by a government in Tobruk.   Normally, there is  only one internationally recognized head of state and legislative body.    Why would a small break away capital, like Tobruk even want to get involved in the isolation of Qatar led by the Saudis?   I think I have the answer.

 

A general view of the Dar al Salam, a five-star hotel being used by members of the House of Representatives, in Tobruk September 28, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

Nothing is normal in Libya.  At least, in the last 3 years, what happens doesn’t seem normal or  logical to outsiders.  The civil war was fought, presumably, to allow for the Libyans to form a democratically elected government.     Since June 2014, two Libyan capitals exist – the east side  (Tobruk)  and west side (Tripoli) governments.  Many consider there are now three governmental authorities, two in Tripoli, (GNC and GNA) and one in Tobruk.   This is not counting many militant groups, including ISIS which control parts of Libya.

The UN through its special envoy to unite the country.  Some countries recognize Tobruk as the legitimate government of Libya, while others recognize Tripoli.  A link is provided below from Wikipedia providing a very good summary of the breakup of Libya and the recognition of various countries.    There has been no formal division of the country.  As one can see from the map below, Tobruk borders Egypt.  On the  western side, Tunisia is on the border, with Algeria further to the south.

 

 

  • Unrest and infighting leading to civil war (Nov/2011 to 2014)

There was a tremendous celebration of the new freedoms which came at the end of the Libyan Civil War.  The first Civil War lasted 9 months, and ended in October 2011 with the death of Gaddafi.  However, it was far easier to make war against the Gaddafi regime, than to create a new government among the various rivals.   This is a period of failed opportunity to create a unified government, and a return to open civil war in Libya.  It is a pattern often seen when an all controlling tyrannical regime is forced out of office.

Pro-Gaddafi support contributed to the unrest in parts of Libya.  In reaction, Libya government enacted harsh measures against pro-Gaddafi loyalists.  Per Wikipedia:

Gaddafi loyalism after the Libyan Civil War refers to sympathetic sentiment towards the overthrown government of Muammar Gaddafi, who was killed in October 2011. It has been responsible for some of the ongoing postwar violence in Libya, though the degree of its involvement has been disputed in a number of instances. Sympathy for Gaddafi and his fallen government is viewed highly negatively by current Libyan authorities—both the legal government and extralegal militias—and parts of general society in postwar Libya, and even accusations of it can provoke harsh responses. In May 2012, the democratically elected postwar government passed legislation imposing severe penalties for anyone giving favourable publicity to Gaddafi, his family, their regime or ideas, as well as anything denigrating the new government and its institutions or otherwise judged to be damaging to public morale. Derisively called tahloob (“algae”) by anti-Gaddafi Libyans,  suspected loyalists have faced strong persecution following the war. Perhaps 7,000 loyalist soldiers, as well as civilians accused of support for Gaddafi are being held in government prisons. Amnesty International has reported large scale torture and other mistreatment and executions, of those perceived as enemies of the new government.

Reports and rumours of organised pro-Gaddafi activity have persisted since the war’s end. The Libyan Popular National Movement was organised in exile on 15 February 2012 (the first anniversary of the protests that led to the civil war) by former officials in the Gaddafi government. The party, banned from participating in Libyan elections, may have also cultivated links with armed pro-Gaddafi groups in Libya. Statements from the party sometimes appear on websites affiliated with the so-called “Green Resistance” (after the sole colour of Gaddafi’s flag), a term sometimes used by sympathisers to refer to supposed pro-Gaddafi militant groups.

The anticipated  steps to transition to a democratic government are discussed in Wikipedia:

  On July 7, 2012, the National Transitional Council, in power since the Libyan Civil War, supervised democratic elections for a 200-member General National Congress to replace the Council.[1] The assembly was to choose a prime minister and organize parliamentary elections in 2013.  A process to write a constitution was also to be determined. Unrest driven by armed militias, ethnic minority and radical groups undermined the process and the government for the years following the overthrowing of Muammar Gaddafi. While internal apathy towards democratic reforms slowed the process, external bodies such as the European Union were still pressing for the establishment of a national dialogue to build consensus for the drafting of a new constitution to take place before the end of 2014. Parliamentary elections were scheduled to be held on June 25, 2014 in a move aimed at stabilizing the country and quelling the unrest.

The transition to a unified government based in Tripoli, certainly looked like it was succeeding in 2012-2013.   However,  outside players were quickly gaining a foothold in the new Tripoli government:

The current crisis [as of Oct 2014] was triggered when Islamists lost the elections in June, and militias from Misrata and other towns moved in to besiege the capital. The old parliament says it refuses to recognise the new one because there’s been no formal hand-over ceremony. But with Tripoli and Benghazi controlled by the militias, a hand-over’s hardly possible.Some militias fight largely for the interests of their own town or region. But some are allied to Islamist political groups including the Muslim Brotherhood. “Everybody sang the values of the revolution, but no-one ever sat down and discussed what these values were, and I think this is where we lost a trick,” the new MP Salah Sohbi says. “Some countries backed the Muslim Brotherhood because they thought these guys are OK, they’re Islamists but they are moderate Islamists who have shown a clear distance from the Jihadists. And that is where the mistake happened.”

Per Wikipedia:

The second Libyan Civil War is an ongoing conflict among rival groups seeking control of the territory of Libya. The conflict has been mostly between the government of the House of Representatives (HoR) that was elected democratically in 2014, also known as the “Tobruk government” and internationally recognized as the “Libyan government”; and the rival General National Congress (GNC) endorsed government, also called the “National Salvation Government”, based in the capital Tripoli established after Operation Libya Dawn.

This short blog will not attempt to identify all the rival groups  seeking to control Libya.   It is a case of every group financial backing, and control of the oil shipment ports.    The Petroleum Facility Guard has become a private army, according to the National Oil Company, based in Tripoli:

The PFG has become a “private army” for its head, Ibrahim Jadran, according to Mustafa Sanalla, chairman of NOC, which is based in Tripoli. “They have tried to sell oil themselves and then they failed to protect the places they were meant to,” he told The Independent. “We estimate that the activities of the PFG has adversely affected 70 per cent of oil production,” he said. “We are an autonomous body serving Libya rather than either of the governments. The PFG are also meant to be like that, but their only loyalty is to making money.”

The PFG has been blamed for the establishment of ISIL, or at least the damage done to oil storage facilities in Misrata.    Now ISIL has occupied parts of Libya, and is a threat to both Tobrok and Tripoli governments.

A listing of the various rival groups now occupying Libya is provided in the Links section below.

Links:

Wikipedia:  Libyan Civil War

Wikipedia: Libya

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Libya Awful Mess – Khalfa Haftar and the Tobruk Gov’t, Part 2

Khalfa Haftar, US friend or Re-Unification Talks Spoiler?

On March 2, 2015,  Khalfa Haftar was named as the chief of the army for the Tobruk based government.

A link to a brief biography of Khalfa Haftar  is provided in the links below. Initially, he was a close ally of Gaddafi.  As stated in the link:

As a young army officer, Haftar took part in the coup that brought Muammar Gaddafi to power in 1969, assisting Gaddafi in the overthrow of Libya’s King Idris. Shortly thereafter, Haftar became a top military officer for Gadhafi. He commanded Libyan troops supporting Egyptian troops entering Israeli-occupied Sinai in 1973.

Like other members of the Free Unionist Officers (the junta that toppled the monarchy), Haftar was a secularist and a Nasserist.  He was a member of the Revolutionary Command Council which governed Libya in the immediate aftermath of the coup. Haftar later became Gaddafi’s military chief of staff.  In the late 1980s, Haftar commanded Libyan forces during the Chadian–Libyan conflict, which ended in defeat for Libya.

— War with Chad

By 1986, Haffar had attained the rank of colonel, and was then the chief officer in command of Gaddafi’s military forces in Chad in the Chadian–Libyan conflict. During the war, in which the Libyan forces were either captured or driven back across the border, Haftar and 600-700 of his men were captured as prisoners of war, and incarcerated in 1987 after their defeat in the Ouadi Doum air raid.[17] Shortly after this disastrous battle, Gaddafi disavowed Haftar and the other Libyan prisoners of war who were captured by Chad. One possible contributing factor to Gaddafi’s repudiation of Haftar and of other captured prisoners of war may have been the fact that Gaddafi had earlier signed an agreement to withdraw all Libyan forces from Chad, and Haftar’s operations inside of Chad had been in violation of this agreement.[18][19] Another possible reason given for Gaddafi’s abandonment of Haftar was the potential that Haftar might return to Libya as a hero and thus pose a threat to Gaddafi’s rule itself.[12] In any event, Gaddafi’s repudiation clearly served to embitter Haftar towards Gaddafi.

In 1986 and 1987 the Government of Chad accused Libya of using toxic gas and napalm against central government forces and against rebel forces. Libya may have used mustard gas delivered in bombs by AN-26 aircraft in final phases of the war against Chad in September 1987. The wind blew the agent back onto the Libyan forces.

Gaddafi demanded Haftar’s soldiers be returned to Libya, but the Americans arranged for them to fly to Zaire instead. There, half of his soldiers decided to return to Libya. By 1988, Haftar had aligned himself with the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, a U.S. supported opposition group.  When U.S. financial aid to Zaire was not forthcoming, Zaire expelled the remainder to Kenya.[19] Kenya only provided temporary residence, and the American CIA negotiated a settlement around 1990, enabling Heftar and 300 of his soldiers to move to the United States under the U.S. refugee programme.

In March 1996, Haftar took part in a failed uprising against Gaddafi in the mountains of eastern Libya, before returning to the U.S.Haftar moved to suburban Virginia outside Washington, D.C., living in Falls Church until 2007. He then moved to Vienna, Virginia.

In 2011, Haftar return to Libya to support the rebellion against Gaddafi.

— Spoiler to UN  Unification Efforts (My subtitle,  not Wikipedia)

As of August 2016, Haftar has refused to support the new United Nations Security Council endorsed Government of National Accord, which has led the United States and allies to believe he is jeopardizing the stability of Libya. The United Arab Emirates and Egypt continue to support Haftar.[49] Middle East Eye has reported that British, French, U.S. and United Arab Emirates air forces have assisted Haftar’s forces, after analysing leaked air traffic control recordings.[50][51]

In November 2016, Haftar made a second trip to Russia to meet with the Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu. It was reported that while he was seeking weapons and Russia’s backing, Russia was holding off pending the new Trump Administration. On 26 December, it was reported that Russia had thrown its weight behind Haftar, saying he must have a role in the leadership of Libya.

Haftar was likely seen as Washington’s inside man in Libya in 2011, as he spent 21 years in the US, likely working for the CIA or related organizations  in Virginia.   Yet, he is probably seen today as a leader most likely to impede unification efforts, leading to an increase the presence of ISIS and other radical groups.

It is noted that both the Tobruk and Tripoli governments can claim their governments are representative of the people as they have representatives which were selected by election, or officials which were elected or approved by a legislative branch.

The supporters of the Tobruk  government are the supporters of the Qatar blockade:  Saudi Arabia, Egypt and UAE.   Turkey and  Qatar backs the Tripoli based GNC government.

There are many splinter groups besides the Tobruk and Tripoli “camps” seeking to control parts of Libya. There are two governmental authorities in Tripoli, the General National Congress (GNC) and the General National Accord (GNA) government.  The EU, US and the United Nations all back the GNA government, but this has really never been completely  formed.  Thus, Libya remains a very divided and unstable country.

One can understand how the Tobruk government would naturally align themselves with Saudi Arabia, Egypt,  UAE  and Bahrain and cut off diplomatic relations with Qatar.  Yemen has also joined in the cutting of diplomatic relations with Qatar.  If Yemen wants to greatly escalate the conflict, it could close the Straits of Bab el-Mandeb, essentially closing Qatar’s exports through the Suez canal.  It could do the same to Libya.   It would do this only with the blessing of Saudi Arabia, and its new  Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The division of Libya into east and west administrative areas coincide with the  historical coastal regions of of Cyrenaica (includes Benghazi)  and Tripolitania.    The ancient history of Libya is discussed in the links below.   I hope some day to visit Cyrene and other historical cities such as Sabratha in Libya.

The Wikipedia link on the second civil war beginning in 2014, is given below:

Wikipedia: Libya

Wikipedia-  Second Libyan Civil War

Wikipedia:  Government of National Accord

Wikipedia – Khalfa Haftar

Wikipedia – Cyrene, Libya

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

The Awful Libya Mess, Recent Events – Part 3

Control of Libya requires securing its export ports, as shown below:

 

Production prior to 2011 was 1,650,000  barrels of oil per day.   In 2016, it was 500,000 barrels per day. There is an enormous wealth created by the export of oil.     With 46 billion barrels of oil, these assets will create income for decades to come.

In late 2016, it looked like the beginnings of a re-unified Libya could become a reality, under the UN Peace Accords.  In concept the accords were to create a new government, the GNA government, based on the Tobruk and Tripoli based governments.    However, this could only become a reality if the Tobruk government,  principally Khalfa Haftar, believed he could not conquer the rest of Libya, and was content with sharing power with the GNA  government in Tripoli.   So, peace depends on Haftar diminished capacity to extend his reach to the west, making peace the best option.

Saudi Arabia swung open its doors to Donald Trump knowing exactly what would appeal to him- deals for more goods and services.  His ego and naivete were on full display, as he took credit for the blockade of Qatar as an extension of this anti-terrorist policies  in his tweets.  It is now spilling over to the Libyan conflict.  The Chairman of the Libyan National Oil Company, in an OpEd article in the New York Times, wrote:

The latest incident was triggered by the recent, sudden souring of relations between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain on the other. One of the several groups that purport to be Libya’s rightful government is using that dispute as a pretext to seize control of the country’s oil and gas exports: It has accused the National Oil Corporation, the internationally recognized body responsible for managing these resources, of working in the service of Qatar by diverting oil revenues to it via an N.O.C. customer.  I am the N.O.C.’s chairman, and these allegations are false. But they shine a bright light on Libya’s current tragedy. Since the revolution of 2011, the country’s oil and gas resources have been held hostage to both its fractious politics and power struggles in the Middle East.

It is not explicitly stated, but this is a reference to the Tobruk based government.     The Chairman goes on to suggest Libya’s National Oil Company be given more authority to protect it from being involved in the political infighting.

The Tobruk government did not have complete control of Benghazi.  The UAE, in violation of the UN Peace Accords, has supplied Haftar with military equipment to defeat Benghazi Defense Brigades (BDB).   One can see why the UAE would want to shut down Al Jazeera, as they seem to be the only ones with correspondents on the ground to observe the fighting in Benghazi.  According to the article (see links below):

The UN’s Libya Sanctions Committee report, released on Friday [23-Jun-17} , reveals the UAE has supplied attack helicopters and other military aircraft to Haftar’s forces. “The United Arab Emirates have been providing both material support and direct support to LNA, which have significantly increased the air support available to LNA,” said the report by a UN panel of experts.  The report provides rare insight into foreign funding of armed groups in Libya, which many say has exacerbated the conflict.

The US and the EU countries have pledged support to eventual re-unification through the UN efforts.  The selection of an impartial and highly experienced UN Special Envoy to Libya, is typically done through discussions among representatives of the Security Council, and then announced by the Secretary General, after everyone is in agreement.   Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, rejected the selection of special envoy based on nationality, as she stated on February 11, 2017:

“For too long the U.N. has been unfairly biased in favor of the Palestinian Authority to the detriment of our allies in Israel,” Haley said.

It was a very strange and antagonistic statement.   But, Trump was scheduled to meet with Israel PM Netanyahu at the White House on the following day.    The Secretary-General quickly responded, stating they were interested in the best negotiator for the conflict, irrespective of their country, and neither the Israels nor the Palestinians had any participation in the talks.  Fortunately, another very qualified  special envoy has been selected.   It seemed like Washington politics had meddled in what should have been a routine appointment.  That’s just my opinion.

If the conflict in Libya is seen, not just as the Tobruk-based east government, verses GNA/GNC west side government, but as a larger conflict of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and others verses Qatar, Iran, Turkey and Russia,  where does this leave the US and our allies?

— Human Suffering

The administrative breakdown in Libya has created enormous human suffering.    During Gaddafi’s era,   immigrants received work visas as applied by their sponsors, with set wages  and approved by the government.  This system has broken down, and employers are now taking advantage of workers, charging them for expenses, equal to their wages.

Also, migrants are being lured across the Libyan sounthern boundary  with the false promise of being able to migrate to Europe, only to be sold as slaves or ransomed.   See  BBC link.

— The Path Forward

The only path forward is re-unification through UN Negotiations.   On the Tobruk side, Chief of the Army, Haftar must not be allowed to purchase arms and escalate the war.    The conflict in Libya will only become worse if the US turns a blind eye towards the arming of the Tobruk government by the Saudi supporters.  Washington and the EU need to work jointly on the  the massive refugee problem.

This is a rapidly developing story.   To follow it, it is best to do a Google search on the news.   The latest story to appear, is the release of Saif al-Islam Gadaffi and   some discussion that he could play a some leadership role.  I have very serious doubts.   The areas under control by the various rival groups seems to change regularly.  The New York Times, The Guardian and Al Jazeera seem to be the best sources of information.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Links:

June 24, 2017: Haftar’s forces make gains in Libya’s Benghazi

New York Times: How to Save Libya From Itself? Protect Its Oil From Its Politics, Mustafa Sanalla, Chairman of the Libyan National Oil Company

BBC- I thought I was going to die

TheHill.com Nikki  Haley Rips UN for Picking a Palestinian as Envoy

 

How to de-escalate the Qatar crisis?

I present this as an open question.  Going forward, there is no doubt that all of the 13 demands will be rejected by Qatar.  Kuwait appears to be the negotiator in this crisis.  I suspect Oman will play a role.

It may be premature to even think how the crisis can be de-escalated.  Perhaps, what should be addressed is how any further measures by Saudi Arabia and allies to economically harm Qatar be avoided.

The US, UK and the Economic Union can all condemn the blockade on the basis of free trade.  They can also condemn the list of demands as an affront to national sovereignty.  The other Arab countries have state owned news media, why should Qatar be denied this right?   The answer is simple- because Al Jazeera has become the largest and most successful.   It has nothing to do with terrorism.

But, would international condemnation  have any effect?   Would action by the UN help?

The US policy began with tweets from Donald Trump,  foolishly taking credit for the Saudi’s action.   Then it seemed to more to neutral, offering assistance in resolving the crisis.  Now,  the policy seems to lean more towards Qatar.

The most immediate crisis is the deportation of thousands of Qataris from the other Arab countries.  The most obvious step would be to delay these deportations.  However, given the inevitable refusal of Qatar to accept any of the demands,  the deportations are likely.

So, what is the path forward?

Stay tuned,

Dave

I note that there are many excellent articles on the Qatar crisis.  I will provide more links in the future.

Qatar – Criticism of the “Demand List” Grows

The demand list is short.   Clearly missing from this list, is any basis for the demands.

But, it is clear underlying these demands is  a general accusation  that Qatar supports terrorism.  It is accused of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood through commentary from the Al Jazeera news network.    The Muslim Brotherhood is recognized only by certain countries as a terrorist organization.

Further, it is accused of harboring terrorists within its country.   In this respect, we can welcome Qatar to the club as we too harbor “terrorists.”  Surprised!  They are only labeled terrorists by leaders outside of our country.

One US harbored terrorist is Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish national, who according to Wikipedia:

He is currently on Turkey’s most-wanted-terrorist list and is accused of leading what the current Turkish officials call the Gülenist Terror Organisation (Fethullahçı Terör Örgütü, FETÖ). A Turkish criminal court issued an arrest warrant for Gülen.  Turkey is demanding the extradition of Gülen from the United States.

Mr. Gulen is 76 years old, and came to the US in 1999 for medical reasons.  He was an ally of President Erdogan until the anti-corruption protests in 2013.  The US has refused to turn over Mr. Gulen, until it receives evidence of terrorist activities.   Why make a fuss over just one elderly man which has been convicted of crimes against Turkey?   Because of our values and national sovereignty.  Gulen has a US permanent visa.  Also, he has never advocated violence.   In fact he is very much against Islamic violence as follows:

Gülen has condemned terrorism. He warns against the phenomenon of arbitrary violence and aggression against civilians and said that it “has no place in Islam”. He wrote a condemnation article in the Washington Post on September 12, 2001, one day after the September 11 attacks, and stated that “A Muslim can not be a terrorist, nor can a terrorist be a true Muslim.” Gülen lamented the “hijacking of Islam” by terrorists.

President Erdogan’s definition of a terrorist is likely the same as Syrian President Assad, as anyone whose ideas might threaten the continuation of his regime.

President Obama did not hand over our “terrorists” without sufficient evidence of terrorist activities.  President Trump will do the same.  Qatar will do the same.

The demand to shut down Al Jazeera will fail.  Saudi Arabia can not tell a news network in another country what it can and cannot broadcast.

It is hoped that this list of demands will highlight the fact that the blockade led by Saudi Arabia  is political power grab  and has no role in the fight against Islamic jihadists.  It also shows how the Saudi’s “played” President Trump’s visit to their maximum advantage.

Stay tuned,

Dave

Saudi Arabia Issues List of Demands on Qatar

Saudi Arabia has given Qatar 10 days to comply with 13 demands as given below:

Demands from Saudi Arabia

“This list of demands confirms what Qatar has said from the beginning – the illegal blockade has nothing to do with combating terrorism, it is about limiting Qatar’s sovereignty, and outsourcing our foreign policy,” said Sheikh Saif bin Ahmed Al Thani, director of the Qatari government’s communications office, in a statement on Friday.

This action by Saudi Arabia means the blockade will not be resolved easily as it is becoming a test of wills and might.

Al Jazeera Report

Perhaps, the worse Trump tweet, yet in 2017, has been the June 6, tweet.  Fortunately this does not represent the State Department’s viewpoint.

trumps tweet on qatar

Now Saudi Arabia is ordering Qatar to shut down the independent news network, Al Jazeera.

Hopefully, the US will side with Qatar in the inevitable rejection of these demands.  If not, then we believe in the freedom of the press for only ourselves and not others.

Stay tuned,

Dave

 

 

Republican Posturing on the Mueller Investigation

You are witnessing the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history – led by some very bad and conflicted people! #MAGA,” Trump tweeted last Thursday.

I don’t subscribe to Twitter.   I hope this is the last time I have to refer to anyone’s tweets.

Republican’s are posturing on questions about  Robert Mueller’s investigation.  Is it going to be impartial?  Is Trump going to be vindicated?

I believe the responses from Republicans follow  these approaches:  (1) Duck the question entirely,  (2) Call it a witch hunt or rigged investigation,  as if Democrats had wormed their way into Jeff Session’s Justice Department  or (3) State that the process must continue, it will be thorough and fair, and will vindicate  Trump.

First, how to duck the question. It is easy to  state,   “I’m not going there”, or “It’s far too early.”  Then add how special counsel in the past, such as Ken Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton, seemed to never end.

A variation on the first approach is to bring in a boat load of accusations made against Hillary Clinton,  and state that if an investigation is needed, it is of all the wrong doing by her.    Of course, Jeff Sessions can investigate Hillary Clinton or anyone he wants to.

The second way, the full frontal assault (Newt Gingrich approach) and  slam Mueller for hiring biased staff.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich believes special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation is a “rigged game” because most of Mueller’s lawyers have donated to Democrats. On Tuesday, Gingrich criticized Mueller for not having pro-Trump attorneys on his team and addressed reports that three members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats. One lawyer even defended the Clinton Foundation. “He apparently couldn’t find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire, and I just think that’s a rigged game, and I think that it’s a mistake to pretend this is going to be some neutral investigation,” Gingrich said on CBS This Morning. “I don’t give the benefit of the doubt to somebody who could only hire Democrats but claims we ought to trust him.”

This claim of bias is obviously weak as observers say that Mueller is staffing up with an all star group of lawyers.     He knows Washington, and this is a super high stakes investigation.

The final approach is championed by Marco Rubio,  who I believe still has presidential aspirations.   Marco stated the following,  just after the Trump Cuban-American love fest for Fidel haters:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Sunday defended special counsel Robert Mueller’s “stellar” reputation and ability to “conduct a full and fair and thorough investigation” on possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

“I believe he is going to conduct a full and fair and thorough investigation that we should have confidence in,” Rubio told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I’ll continue to believe that based on his reputation and years of service to our country unless there’s any evidence to the contrary,” Rubio said.

Rubio’s comments contradict recent efforts by President Trump’s legal team to attack Mueller’s integrity as special counsel. The team is raising concerns that Mueller’s prior relationship with former FBI Director James Comey is a conflict in his ability to lead the investigation.

Trump’s legal team has left open the possibility Trump will fire Mueller as well.

Rubio also stated that he felt in the end, Trump would be cleared of any wrong doing.

Republicans can decide whether to go with Newt’s attack on Robert Mueller’s staff, or Rubio’s faith in the system.

During all this, the Democrats are probably best to say as little as possible.  They wanted an independent investigation, and they got one.  Beyond this, they should just keep their mouth shut about the ultimate outcome.  They should not respond to Trump’s persistent tweets.   If you are winning, don’t gloat.

It is exactly in line with Rubio, to just let the facts speak for themselves.

Stay tuned,

Dave