S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Page 2 stories about the U.S. and a few of its friends

Your riddle for today - what do Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Latvia and Israel have in common? You will not have to wait until the end of this post to find the answer. It is this: the United States has found itself with "strange bed-fellows" in recent years. A few of today's more obscure stories about what is going on with the above named U.S. friends - from some of my favorite foreign news sources - follow.
The success or failure of current U.S. Middle East policy is closely tied to the success or failure of Pakistan's strongman President Pervez Musharraf. His most recent unfortunate move leaves much to be desired in the way of appropriate behavior of a close U.S ally. Musharraf plans a media clamp down in in his country for its coverage of opposition protests. The BBC News (6/4/07) has the story. To quote,
Gen Musharraf has been highly critical of the media in recent weeks over its coverage of opposition protests. Correspondents say Gen Musharraf is facing the most serious challenge to his rule from a coalition of opposition parties and groups.
Their frequent street demonstrations mark the first big protest movement in Pakistan to take place as the country has entered an era of rapidly expanding, live TV news coverage.
The protests were sparked off by Gen Musharraf's suspension of the chief justice of the Supreme Court on 9 March.
The current U.S. administration might say that it has had no better supporters of its Middle East policy than the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. And, evidently, some in the UK agreed that the Saudi royal family deserved "special friend" status. The Financial Times headlined (6/7/07), "BAE ‘secretly paid’ Saudi prince." Quoting from today's story,
BAE Systems paid more than £100m a year to Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to Washington over more than a decade in connection with Britain’s biggest ever defence contract, according to British media reports.
The reports, from the BBC Panorama programme and The Guardian, said the sums were paid to Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Prince Bandar, now a national security adviser to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, is the son of the Saudi defence minister, Prince Sultan.
. . . The BBC reported that the funds were used to finance flights for Prince Bandar’s personal jet. The payments for “support services” were written into secret annexes of an agreement between the UK and Saudi governments, it reported.
. . . The reports prompted calls for a full parliamentary inquiry. The opposition Liberal Democrats said the allegations were “shocking.”
There was no stranger set of "bed-fellows" than the Iraq war's "coalition of the willing" (see references* below) It will have one less country in Iraq after June 21, according to the Russian news and information website, RIA Novosti (6/6/07). Latvia may be moving its forces to Afghanistan. Quoting the short blurb,
Latvia will withdraw its military contingent from Iraq June 19-21, the republic's defense minister said Wednesday.
. . . The decision to pull Latvian soldiers out of Iraq was made following a NATO summit in Riga last November, which also decided to double the Latvian contingent in Afghanistan.
Presently there are 102 Latvian soldiers in Iraq, all of them professional contract servicemen, who went through a special selection procedure to participate in the international mission.
The triangle of Israel, Palestine and the United States have never been able to be friends amongst themselves. Settlement of the decades-long differences has so far eluded the administrations of a wide political range of leaders in the Middle East and U.S. But both Israel and Palestine have (strangely) looked to American courts for redress of certain grievances. Here is the latest regarding this odd little piece of history. According to the Israeli website, (6/7/07) headline, "Palestinians will sue Israel in U.S. if 'intifada law' repassed." To quote,
Palestinian residents intend to sue the State of Israel for damages in U.S. courts and in other countries if the Knesset repasses a law barring suits in Israeli courts over damages incurred in non-warfare incidents.
Palestinians with grounds for suits against the Israeli army over bodily harm and property damage sustained during the armed conflict since September 2000 have already contacted American law firms through Adalah-Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. U.S. law permits suits against countries responsible for "humanitarian damages" in situations where the victims have no legal recourse in the offending country.
. . . Until now, Israelis were the ones to take advantage of the U.S. law permitting damages suits against state entities where these suits are not allowed. Such proceedings are ongoing against Arab Bank, which operates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and which the plaintiffs claim bankroll terrorists who cause mass carnage among Israelis.
  1. from BBC News - (3/18/03): Full list of coalition countries:
    Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and Uzbekistan. Source: US State Department
  2. "Multinational force in Iraq" - Wikipedia (6/6/07)

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Anonymous said...

Carol - you have been tagged by Make it Stop! Make it Stop! with a Thinking Blogger Award.

We appreciate your efforts and the thoughts you share with us in each and every post.

Carol Gee said...

lapopessa, I so appreciate your recognition. My plan is to follow the tradition and make my own list of awards to "thinking bloggers" very soon. I, too, have long been a regular reader of your blog and like the writings of both of you very much. I subscribe via Bloglines feeds.