Monday, May 09, 2005

Afghan Tribes Back U.S.A. Partnership

On Sunday, more than 1000 elders and officials, along with hundreds of Afghani tribes met with and backed President Karzai's "strategic partnership" with the USA. This could cement a long term USA presence in Central Asia. For the most part, there is a positive feeling towards America.

When President Karzai meets with President Bush this month, they will talk about military aid as well as economic and political ties. The one thing lacking is a treaty between Afghanistan and the USA.

Right now, we have 17,000 forces bordering Pakistan and Iran. Pretty good place for them to be. They have voiced a desire to have the USA, NATO, and the UN stay until they can get their feet on the ground, maybe even longer. That is why a treaty would be necessary.

The Afghni Army is expected to have 70,000 by September 2006. Some in Afghanistan disagree that this is enough troops to defend their country. Ludin said many of the delegates express more concern on economic development than military might. They are truly interested in becoming a part of the world community, but they want a promise from the USA to help them in all sectors to make this possible.

Iraq's Cabinet Filled, Finally

Upon filling the remaining positions in the cabinet, four of the six positions are going to be held by Sunni Iraqis. This is a good step forward, since they were not forbidden to vote in the January elections. This should bring unity to the fledgeling democracy. Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari has promised to reach out to all sects and peoples to bring a unifying calm to Iraq.

President Jalal Talabani and his two vice presidents approved of these choices as per the required parliamentary process.

Prime Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum (Shiite) will be be in charge of oil, and Prime Minister Saadoun al-Duleimi (Sunni Muslim) will be in charge of Defense. This is a good desicion, since the Sunnis were very interested in this position.

Prime Minister of Human Rights will be Hashim Abdul-Rahman al-Shibli (Sunni), Prime Minister of Electricity will be Mihsin Shlash (Shiite), Prime Minister of Industry will be Osama al-Nujaifi (Sunni), and Deputy Prime Minister Abed Mutlak al-Jiburi. Unfortunately, Al Shibli declined his position as he felt it was only given him because he is Sunni.
"Concentrating on sectarian identities leads to divisions in the society and state, and for that reason I respectfully decline the post," al-Shibli told reporters at a news briefing.
One seat, however, did remain unfilled because al-Jaafari wishes to fill it with a woman. This would be the fourth deputy prime minister.

Prime Minister al-Uloum, 51, held this position during the U.S. appointed Governing Council. His qualifications are several: Undergraduate Degree in Oil Engineering from Baghdad University in 1976, Master's Degree abd a Ph.D. in Petroleum Engineering from the University of New Mexico.

Al-Duleimi is a former Sunni Lt. Col. who used to work for the powerful General Security Organization of Saddam Hussein, but he left in 1984 and lived in exile until the fall of the evil reign of Hussein.

Unfortunately, there is also bad news. Terrorists murdered Prime Minister Zoba Yass and his driver in the area of Dora as they were on their way to work this day. Also, there were 120 members of Parliament were absent Sunday when the vote was taken. This was due to the difficulty it has been to come to a consesus. However, it has been a good step forward.

To the family of Zoba Yass and his driver, our deepest sympathies. May they rest peacefully.

Friday, May 06, 2005

A Democratic Egypt?

...the Sarando episode and other land conflicts mushrooming in the fertile Nile Delta show that change at the top will be irrelevant to real freedom if it is not joined by the institutional development that protects rights and provides clear, peaceful means to settle grievances.

In the decades since Egypt's independence, the grievances of the working poor have occasionally flared but rarely coalesced into a broader movement, making it easier for the government to isolate democracy activists in the capital.

But if these groups begin to back the movement for change, President Mubarak's regime could face trouble.

It appears Mawar has stepped in since the 1990's and helped himself to other's land. He then started to charge them rent. What they need are documents, deeds, records, etc. They need a legal system to resolve these issues.

This is the wind that fans the flames of civil unrest. Civil unrest leads to a different form of government, or at least a change in how the government is run. To be honest, I do not know enough about the ME to suggest a plan of action other than seek the truth. If these are mounting problem, there are bound to more that are unresolved.

All Egyptians should understand and receive their basic human rights. These are people, and everyone one of them is precious in God's sight. They all have worth. Just like you and me. Do you deny this? Then you deny your own freedom and are a slave to hypocracy. Read the rest here.

Iraq's Stock Exchange

Baghdad is rising in the world's economic status, and the markets are taking notice. Of coarse they are not the NYSE or Dow Jones, yet, but they are coming along even through the bombings.
"Financial institutions and markets make our economy grow again," says Taha Ahmed Abdul Salam, the exchange's chief operating officer. "You can't do business unless you have good banks and good capital markets."
It is refreshing to see a new Republic use the free market principles to rise from a very long, horrific sleep.

The Baghdad Stock Exchange was heavily regulated, which is probably why it failed. It has been renamed the Iraq Stock Exchange. It reopened in June 2004 under the supervision of CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority).
...It started with 15 listed companies trading about 1 billion Iraqi dinars ($683,000) in shares daily, he says. Today, the exchange lists 89 companies and averages about $2 million in daily trading...
This is very good news. There is more:
But challenges remain. As is the case elsewhere in Iraq, security remains a key concern, he says. The exchange, open twice a week for 2½ hours a day, is purposely located on the ground floor of a small building on a nondescript side street, which can be blocked to deter car bombs.

The floor where the stocks are traded is also less than high-tech. Each listed company writes its stock deals on dry-erase boards: sales on the front, purchases on the back. A circled transaction signals a done deal. Salam says he plans to move into more high-tech digs later this year, complete with electronic trading and a network that allows brokers to trade from their offices.
Let us all hope and pray for the Iraqi people to finally have the peace they deserve. May their country be secure and our friendship be a long one.

To read the whole story, click on the title. Thank you.

Patton Connects Dots on Annan

Mr. Patton is one of the investigators in the Oil for Food program who resigned, because he believes Volker is being too soft in the investigation. Today I have learned from listening to the Tony Snow Radio Program that Mr. Patton has handed over boxes of information on the investigation to the House International Relations Committee (I think.) It may be a different committee or a subcommittee. Congressman Henry Hyde is the chairman of this committee, so I am hopeful we will be hearing something in a couple of weeks or so.

The person speaking to Tony claimed Kofi Annan outright lied to investigators about his knowledge of his son's involvement with the Oil company he was working for while working at the UN. This is a company his son was supposed to have resigned from to work in the UN. He did not. This company also received several lucrative contracts, and Savon received several kickbacks.

The Committee had asked for Mr. Patton to speak before them. Mr. Volker would not allow that, claiming he had diplomatic immunity. Then, the Committee subpoenaed him. Mr. Patton asked Mr. Volker if he would like to defy an American subpoena? There was no reply. That is when the information in those boxes was released to Congress. Now we may FINALLY get somewhere on the corruption in the UN. Give me John Bolton or give me NYC! I want these bad actors gone.