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The U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: Understanding the Great Debacle with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, August 24, 2021 @ 6 pm Mountain States Time

August 21, 2021

Taliban officials sitting in the presidential place in Kabul

The U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: Understanding the Great Debacle with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Hemispheres Middle East Dialogues. Tuesday, August 24, 2021 @ 6 pm Mountain States Time

The 20 year U.S. Occupation of Afghanistan, begun in the aftermath of the 9-11-2011attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, has ended “not with a bang but with a whimper”. Different intelligence sources in the United States argued that the Washington propped government led by (U.S. educated) Ashraf Ghani would survive perhaps six months after the U.S. pull out. His government did not last 6 day. It collapsed. The U.S. trained, armed and financed Afghan army of 300,000 plus 75,000 strong airforce did not put up a fight. It disintegrated within 24 hours opening the way for a complete take over by the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist oriented guerilla movement that had ruled the country briefly in the late 1990s until just after 9-11 of 2001.

What’s the deal?

Kazerooni and Prince give their take on what happened and the prospect for the future.

Colorado Politics INSIGHTS – Conflict in Ethiopia bound to drive politics in Aurora.

August 16, 2021

Colorado Ethiopians and Eritreans celebrating the choice of Abiy Ahmed for prime minister. 7,000-8,000 in attendance. Aurora High School. July 22, 2021 (R. Prince photo)

(Personal note at the end of the article)

Colorado Politics

INSIGHTS – Conflict in Ethiopia bound to drive politics in Aurora

by Joey Bunch joey.bunch@coloradopolitics.com – August 12, 2021

The description sounds all too familiar and at the same time foreboding.

“A power struggle, an election and a push for political reform are among several factors that led to the crisis” is how the BBC described the bloody conflict between Ethiopia’s federal government and the ruling party in the regional state of Tigray.

The violent political transition happening in the country’s north, the cradle of mankind, extends its reach into Colorado politics, and smart purveyors of election matters would be wise to keep an eye on American policy toward the most populated country on the Horn of Africa.

Sadly, the British news service added, “All sides have been accused of atrocities.”

If Colorado politicos, especially Democrats, think fighting there ends there, they should turn in their politico membership card, because they’re neglecting a local constituency I’ve been watching rise in metro Denver for a decade now.

Tens of thousands of Coloradans have an interest in family or the bond of heritage.

Ethiopian immigrants have money, voting blocs, organization, a deep bench of good candidates and untapped potential to engage with either party. The relationship for years seemed to trend left, but that’s not a guarantee, especially in these times of fraught African policy and vague diplomacy.

Politicians have to walk a tightrope in a conflict they might not understand, and the risk is highest in eastern metro Denver, which will be reshaped by legislative and congressional redistricting this year.

Some immediate local political news happened last weekend when the annual Taste of Ethiopia Festival in east Denver was canceled again this year out of an abundance of caution in the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Organizers pledged to be back and bigger than ever the first weekend in August next year. With a midterm election in 2022, local politicians should hope so, too.

When the festival reminded festival fans of the postponement on Facebook last weekend, a video played beneath the post, interspersed with pictures of politicians: Gov. Jared Polis, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (himself a first-generation American of Eritrean parents), U.S. Rep. Jason Crow and his congressional predecessor, current Aurora Mayor Mike Coffman among a cadre of state legislators and municipal leaders.

Politicos come for the goat kikil but stay for the association with likely voters who are up for grabs.

The civil war in Ethiopia would be a somber, if not chilling backdrop this year. Estimates as high as 52,000 people who have been killed, at least 350,000 in famine condition and more than 5.2 million people at risk of running out of food.

Last month United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield tweeted, “If the Ethiopian government does not provide unhindered movement of humanitarian supplies, commodities, and aid workers into Tigray, hundreds of thousands of people could starve to death.

“We need access. We need aid. We need to end the conflict.”

Africa Reports says children are being detained, exploited and murdered. Hospitals, schools and refugee camps are being looted and destroyed.

The onus is on Democrats, because Joe Biden is in the White House, and he’s toothlessly called for a ceasefire and urged combatants to work it out.

In March he sent one of his congressional lieutenants, Sen. Chris Coons from the president’s home state of Delaware, to the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa.

Biden is under pressure for the U.S. to send unfettered humanitarian aid and launch an independent investigation into the human rights abuses in the region.

The rewards of statesmanship are high for his party in need of a foreign relations win ahead of next year’s midterms.

Rob Prince’s blog on the Colorado Progressive Jewish News laid out an insider’s view of the dynamic:

“Increasingly the Dems are persona non grata in Colorado’s Ethiopian churches, mosques and restaurants given the Biden administration’s support for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s separatist offensive. The brief honeymoon between elements of Colorado’s Democratic Party leadership and key Ethiopian personalities is coming to an abrupt end.

“Colorado Ethiopians helped elect Biden nationally and Jason Crow (D-Colorado) to the House in Colorado’s District 6 are now moving in droves into the Republican fold. Not that long ago here in Colorado, the then anti-Trump sentiment among Colorado’s Ethiopian community helped Jason Crow unseat his conservative, Mike Coffman in their contest for the U.S. Congressional seat in Colorado’s District 6. This swing to the Democrats came after then-President Trump urged Egypt to bomb Ethiopia’s Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as the dam nears completion.

“The brief honeymoon between Ethiopians-USA and the Biden administration is over.”

Ethiopia is a critical U.S. ally in the Red Sea arena, where good friends are valuable. In May, frustrated with the unceasing conflict, the Biden administration imposed restrictions including cuts in aid to the largest recipient of American aid in sub-Saharan Africa, including nearly $1 billion annually, mostly for humanitarian aid.

Biden’s response was high-minded but unspecific.

“America’s diplomacy will reflect our values: defending freedom, upholding universal rights, respecting the rule of law, and treating every person with dignity,” he said in May.

But what is there to do about accusations of brutality and ethnic cleanings by the ruling government. a friend where one is needed for so long?

How Democrats answer that question, carefully, could go a long way in determining which party sends its members to Washington from Denver’s immigrant-rich eastern horn.

Endnote:

Joey Bunch’s piece in Colorado Politics is one of the first pieces in a (somewhat) mainstream media publication that has tried to challenge the mainstream narrative on the unfolding Ethiopian drama. Bunch understands well, that these faraway events, poorly acknowledge or understood by the Colorado voting public still could affect Colorado electoral results. And he is right about that.  I am quoted in his article (towards the end) – even if he got the title of my blog wrong. It is “View from the Left: Don’t kvetch: Organize. OK Kvetch a little, but then try to get over it and organize. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s just ignorance.”

Colorado Politics, formerly the Colorado Statesmen, is a local Colorado political weekly. If I remember correctly, it is owned by the Anschutz Group, Colorado Billionaire Philip Anschutz’s political play thing. It considers itself, immodestly “the state’s top political and public policy news journal” which might be true because to my knowledge it is the only political and policy news journal in the state. On its webpage Colorado Politics claims that its “award-winning staff keeps tabs on Colorado’s public policy news, and the politicians, lobbyists, interest groups, non-profits and other players behind those policy debates.” Its annual subscription rate of $159 for the digital edition. 

 

U.S. Defeat in Afghanistan: Worse even than Vietnam. Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires…Again

August 15, 2021

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But regardless, either way, in Afghanistan the United States has just suffered a political/military defeat on a grand scale, nothing less. This twenty year war against Afghanistan was a mistake from the get-go and in fact, the war, supposed revenge for the al Qaeda 9-11 attacks on New York City and Washington DC, this war really had nothing to do with Afghanistan or the Taliban. It was instead used as a springboard for Washington to launch a series of wars along the “arch of instability” – from Afghanistan to Morocco – for Washington to play the only card left in its deck – the military card. In an inept face saving comment, Biden insisted that there is no comparison between the U.S. defeat in Vietnam and the disorderly withdrawal from Afghanistan. Up to a certain point, he is correct, only in the sense that the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan is worse!

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1.

During a press conference a month ago, our president, Joe Biden argued the following points concerning the future of Afghanistan:

∙ that a Taliban seizure of power was not inevitable
∙ that the Afghan army, trained and armed by the United States and backed by the presence of tens of thousand troops – with more than 300,000 personnel in their ranks and with a military air force of 75,000 – was as good as any in the world and could defend the Kabul government against a Taliban take over
∙ Biden denied then what is happening before our eyes today – that the Afghan government is collapsing. He based this comment on the analysis of U.S. intelligence, one of the most well informed, if not THE most well informed in the world.
∙ Biden vociferously denied that there is any comparison between the U.S. historic defeat in Vietnam and the current situation in Afghanistan. In fact the Vietnam-Afghanistan comparison upset him greatly. “No, no, no. Zero. Then the opponent made his way through the gate of our embassy. Six teams, if I remember correctly. Taliban is not the North Vietnamese army. They don’t even have such opportunities. You won’t see people being removed from the roof of the US Embassy in Afghanistan. These are incomparable situations

Today’s events reflect the shallowness and mendacity of these comments –  all of them.  Events have revealed just how far off they are off the mark.

There will be no transition government in which the Ghani government shares power with the Taliban. By yesterday (August 14) most Afghanistan’s provincial capitals had fallen to the Taliban. The high trained 300,000 Afghan army with its additional 75,000 Air Force personnel that Biden and the U.S. media so highly tauted when phfff, collaped overnight and this morning it was announced that President Ashraf Ghani efforts to form some kind of coalition government, to rally those forces still faithful to Kabul, had completely failed. That was yesterday. Today, Ghani himself and a small entourage fled the country to the safety of Tajikistan.

Read more…

On Sources – 1: Dear Russia and China haters….

August 13, 2021
Dear China and Russia haters, 
 
First, as you should know, you’ve been duped (again).
 
You keep falling for it, don’t you? Yes, yes, yes, in both countries there are problems, all round fuck-ups – it seems that where humans are involved – this is inevitable – you know, the old greed, lust, ambition, narcissitic stuff. But… you’re going to compare the problems in China with the disaster unfolding in the US of A on all levels? political crisis where the two main parties are slugging it out, the swollen military budget with its 800+ military bases around the world and rampant military intervention the world round? And racism, the rampant, ever expanding … U.S. is Number One in that category, etc, etc.
 
No the USA is not, as my in-laws suggest “the best place, next to heaven”, “God’s country,” etc… Trumpty-Dumpty’s reference to African nations as “shithole” countries, is an excellent example of what psychologists call “projection”..
 
Anyway… SOME OF YOU are genuinely interested in foreign policy… Good. in the end it IS one world and we are all connected in a myriad of ways that transcend narrow, nationalist considerations… You folks, the “internationalists” among us need to start diversifying your sources of information. You’re simply NOT going to get a clearer picture of the world by reading the Denver Post, NY Times, Wall Street Journal or watching CNN – or worse, FOX News. And for those of you who think that somehow the BBC is a more objective alternative — it’s the same cool aid, political pablum as we get here, only better written or more articulately presented. Those Brits do have a way with words… but the message is THE SAME, in the end, no more than sugar coated political or journalistic poison, or, as it used to be described – Yellow Journalism.
 
In some of the posts that follow, I am going to suggest other news sources for you to follow. OF COURSE, read them skeptically too. In time you’ll be able to separate what is news from what is propaganda, lies, exaggerations etc… Below are two sources on China worth reading:
 
1. Subscribe to the Qiao Collective publications on China on Facebook.. As it statement tells us – it is the work of diaspera Chinese who define themselves as Marxist. They have already put together impressive bibliographies on modern Chinese history, on Hong Kong, Xinjiang, the U.S. military build up in the S. China Sea
 
2. Here is another source: – https://dongshengnews.org/en/ – Dongsheng news from China. Yes it’s an official source – learn how to discern what is fact from what is something less, but that said, you’ll find it sober and for the most part, objective (whatever that means these days).
 
3. On reporting about Russia – again, there are many decent sources – I won’t overwhelm you with a bio – although overtime I will suggest many others. But for now, you could do a lot worse – and not much better – than following the reports of Fred Weir on Facebook, the Moscow correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor and a regular contributor to Facebook.
 
I am going to add to this post over time… slowly, surely. Hope  you find it helpful.

Tunisia Crisis – The Crux of the Matter; How to Emerge from the Depths? A live interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince.

August 6, 2021
The Gate to the old city – Tunis. (November 2011. R. Prince photo)

Tunisia Crisis – The Crux of the Matter; How to Emerge from the Depths? A live interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Thursday, August 5, 2021. 8:30 pm Mountain States Time.

The current all round crisis in Tunisia has been in the making for as long as 40 years: the country’s failure to address the continually deepening socio-economic crisis which has fueled its other problems: constitutional gridlock, debt repayment, massive and unrestrained corruption, collapse of the country’s social net. Washington, Paris and the institutions they dominate (World Bank, IMF) are not neutral observers in these events but have done much to aggrevate Tunisia’s crisis. How to emerge from the depths?

YouTube Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9bGwDBLSqI

Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/RobPrince1106/videos/839755716899817

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(Ibrahim Kazerooni is an Imam at the Islamic Center of North America in Dearborn, Michigan. He received a joint Phd. in Religion and Social Change from the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies and the Iliff School of Theology. He is originally from Najav, Iraq.)

(Rob Prince is a retired Senior Lecturer of International Studies at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies. He is a former Peace Corps volunteer and staff member in Tunis and Sousse, Tunisia. Living in Colorado for the past 52 years, he is originally from New York City.)

Are Colorado’s Ethiopian’s stampeding from the Democratic Party? What’s the deal?

August 4, 2021
 
Ethiopians and Eritreans of all stripes celebrating the removal of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front from power and the possibilities of a more united, prosperous countries with peace between them. Aurora High School, July, 2018, 7,00-10,000 in attemdance (R. Prince photo)
Washington’s endgame in Ethiopia remains unclear. Is its goal to limit the emergence of a regional Horn of Africa hegemonic power, whose politics will be more independent of Washington? Whose potential for energizing the entire region are a threat to U.S. interests? To partition Ethiopia in a divide-and-conquer manner that has marked the history of both European colonialism and American post war neo-colonialism? Counter Chinese growing influence in the Horn of Africa? Support Egypt (and Israel) in that country’s irrational fears of the consequences of the completion of the Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam?
  1. Colorado Ethiopians Stampede from the Democratic Party?

Large numbers of Ethiopians in Colorado are bolting from supporting Democratic candidates to seek their fortune with Republicans. Anecdotally, it is nothing short of a stampede that would effect politics in the state long term. In a state where swing voters often make the difference the tens of thousands or so Coloradans of Ethiopian descent, who tend to vote as a block can make the difference between who gets elected to higher office.

There is a misconception that the community is split down the middle between the supports of the Abiy government in Addis Ababa and those who stand with the Tigray People’s Liberation Front. This is the stuff of which fantasies are made. 95% of Ethiopia’s diaspora community in Colorado (and elsewhere) stand with Abiy Ahmed, less than 5% have thrown their lot with the TPLF.

I recall a meeting several years ago between members of the mainstream Ethiopian Community of Colorado in an Aurora Ethiopian restaurant with the state’s Democratic Party leadership. There, the Party leadership heard many versions of “you only show up at election time and then we never hear from you till the next election” Increased focus did follow that produced temporary electoral results.

Much of that good will however has evaporated. Increasingly the Dems are persona non grata in Colorado’s Ethiopian churches, mosques and restaurants given the Biden Administration’s support for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front’s separatist offensive. The brief honeymoon between elements of Colorado’s Democratic Party leadership and key Ethiopian personalities is coming to an abrupt end.

Colorado Ethiopians helped elect Biden nationally and Jason Crow (D – Colorado) to the House in Colorado’s District 6 are now moving in droves into the Republican fold. Not that long ago here in Colorado, the then anti-Trump sentiment among Colorado’s Ethiopian community helped Jason Crow unseat his conservative, Mike Coffman in their contest for the U.S. Congressional seat in Colorado’s District 6. This swing to the Democrats came after then-President Trump urged Egypt to bomb Ethiopia’s Great Ethiopian Renaissance Dam as the dam nears completion.

Read more…

Tunisia Crisis – The Crux of the Matter; How to Emerge from the Depths? A live interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Thursday, August 5, 2021. 8:30 pm Mountain States Time.

August 2, 2021
Entrance to the Tunis Medina – November, 2011

Tunisia Crisis – The Crux of the Matter; How to Emerge from the Depths? A live interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Thursday, August 5, 2021. 8:30 pm Mountain States Time.

The current all round crisis in Tunisia has been in the making for as long as 40 years: the country’s failure to address the continually deepening socio-economic crisis which has fueled its other problems: constitutional gridlock, debt repayment, massive and unrestrained corruption, collapse of the country’s social net. Washington, Paris and the institutions they dominate (World Bank, IMF) are not neutral observers in these events but have done much to aggrevate Tunisia’s crisis. How to emerge from the depths?

YouTube Live: https://streamyard.com/view_on_platform/youtube?link=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9bGwDBLSqI

Facebook Live: https://www.facebook.com/live/producer/schedule/839755716899817

Guest Blogger: Ron Forthofer – Israel Melts Down Over Ice Cream.

August 1, 2021
Ben and Jerry’s “radical” high quality ice cream – time for an anti-boycott!

Israel melts down over ice cream

by Ron Forthofer

Ben & Jerry’s recently made an announcement that created a firestorm in Israel. The full statement is worth reading:

We believe it is inconsistent with our values for Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to be sold in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). We also hear and recognize the concerns shared with us by our fans and trusted partners. 

We have a longstanding partnership with our licensee, who manufactures Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in Israel and distributes it in the region. We have been working to change this, and so we have informed our licensee that we will not renew the license agreement when it expires at the end of next year.

Although Ben & Jerry’s will no longer be sold in the OPT, we will stay in Israel through a different arrangement. We will share an update on this as soon as we’re ready.

Israeli government leaders have had a meltdown, calling Ben & Jerry’s move: 1) a shameful surrender to anti-Semitism; and 2) a new kind of terrorism. Israeli Prime Minister Bennett said that Ben and Jerry’s has branded itself as an anti-Israel ice cream. Israeli Foreign Minister Lapid also called on US states to use their problematic/questionable laws against the nonviolent Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement to target Ben and Jerry’s. Ironically, other Zionist supporters in the US have called for a boycott of Ben & Jerry’s as well as for groceries to stop selling Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

It appears that these over-the-top reactions are designed to shift the attention from criminal and brutal Israeli behaviors. In reality, all the Israeli settlements in the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank are illegal according to international law. Ben & Jerry’s courageously decided that it would no longer abet this major Israeli crime, although it still will sell ice cream in Israel.

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It appears that these over-the-top reactions are designed to shift the attention from criminal and brutal Israeli behaviors. In reality, all the Israeli settlements in the Israeli occupied Palestinian West Bank are illegal according to international law. Ben & Jerry’s courageously decided that it would no longer abet this major Israeli crime, although it still will sell ice cream in Israel.

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Even though Ben & Jerry’s is standing up for international law and human rights, this is not the major focus of media coverage. Imagine a brave and independent US media that would stress the illegality of Israeli settlements, including in East Jerusalem, as well as point out the cowardice and greed of companies that continue to abet this criminal Israeli behavior.

Israeli leaders have long known that its theft and settlement of Palestinian lands were illegal. For example, a few months after Israel’s aggressive 1967 war in which it seized the Palestinian West Bank and other territories, it knew that establishing civilian settlements there was illegal. Theodor Meron, then legal advisor to Israel’s ministry of foreign affairs, told the Israeli government that settlements in the newly occupied territory were prohibited by Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on occupied territories. Note that this Convention was established after the horrors of WWII in an effort to prevent future criminal behavior by nations against people living under their occupation. Despite this knowledge, Israeli leaders have continued these crimes for well over 50 years, abetted by the US government and its complicit corporate media.

Israel is afraid that this step by Ben & Jerry’s could encourage other corporations to join them in standing up for international law and human rights. However, if Israel is successful in keeping the media focus on false charges of anti-Semitism, it will be unimpeded in continuing its theft of Palestinian lands and other appalling crimes against Palestinians.

(Ron Forthofer, Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, Global Peace Collective, long time expert on Middle East Affairs, former Green Party Candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives and Governor of Colorado. This article first appeared at “Peace Train” – a regular column of the Colorado Daily on Friday, July 30, 2021. This version is slightly different from the one printed in the Daily )

Tunisia: A Presidential Coup in the Making? – 1.

July 28, 2021
Tunisian filmmaker Ferid Boughedir at home in La Marsa, Tunisia, a friend since 1964

Tunisia faces a multi-layered crisis. Given the depth of Tunisia’s socio-economic crisis, the increasingly unmanageable foreign debt, well known unprecedented levels of corruption the gridlock in the Tunisian Parliament where the Ennahdha Party held a decisive position and now a fast moving version of the Covid-19 Delta Variant – it is no surprise that the overall crisis came to a head. In fact, I am surprised it didn’t happen sooner.

Over the weekend, Tunisian President Kais Saied declared what is essentially a state of emergency. In short order he fired the country’s prime minister, Hichem Mechichi, dismissed his Minister of Defense,Minister Ibrahim Bartaji and Hasna Ben Slimane, the acting Justice Minister accused of disloyalty. He closed down the Tunisian parliament for a month and imposed a one-month curfew from 7 pm to 6 am. The military forcibly closed down the Tunis offices of Qatar-based Al Jazeeri. A number of regional governors have also been given the boot. Employees of the effected ministries – including the prime miniuster – are prohibited to leave the country for a year, many of whom face corruption charges. A day later President Saied announced that the Tunisian military will run the country for a period up to five years and will be charged, among other things, with reworking the Tunisian constituion.

Saudi Arabia has already announced it supports to coup., no surprise as it has a history of opposing Moslem Brotherhood formations like Tunisia’s Ennahda Party. The U.S. has not come out to condemn President Saied’s power grab and seems to support it; the U.S. media which has touted Tunisia as a model for MENA democracy has responded with unusual restrait to the developments as well, at least to date.

What follows here is a ten minute segment of KGNU Hemisphere’s Middle East Dialogues done last night (July 27, 2021). An hour program which dealt mostly with the failures of U.S. Middle East policy in Afghanistan, Iran, we took a little time at the outset to discuss the Tunisian events. A longer, more in depth analysis will follow in the next week or ten days as we (Kazerooni and Prince) have followed and commented upon the Tunisian situation repeatedly since the onset of the Arab Spring in 2011, which started in Tunisia, sparked by the immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi in Sidi Bouzid, a town in the Tunisian interior.

Here is the snippet of that discussion. The full interview will follow in a few days.

The author in front of “Linstitut Bourguiba des Langues Vivantes in Tunis where he taught many, many years ago. Photo from 2011.

Review of Susan Rice’s Memoir “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For”

July 25, 2021

Review of Susan Rice’s Memoir “Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For. Simon Schuster Paperbacks. 2019. ISBN 978-1-6011-8998-2 (pbk).

I read Susan Rice’s memoir “Tough Love: My Story of Things Worth Fighting For” cover to cover to get a measure in her own words and a better sense as to why through most of her political career, she has been joined at the hip with Ethiopia’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) – close to an international mafia than a political party or organization – that was ejected from power in Ethiopia in 2018 and replaced by the current Abiy Ahmed government. Minus a few shallow comments, there was virtually nothing that shed light on Rice’s Ethiopian connection. This is despite the fact, even today, Susan Rice continues her behind the scenes machinations meddling in Ethiopian politics with the goal to bring the discredited TPLF back to power

Like many memoirs of this ilk, the book has “a lot of fluff”; much family melodrama mixed with a bit of politics. Although we learn more than we need about Susan Rice’s family background in a political memoir from a foreign policy expert, it contains few valuable insights into the vision and mechanics of the U.S. foreign policy she helped shape and direct. The book does have a catchy title, although after reading it cover to cover my main sense of what Susan Rice thought was “worth fighting for” was a position in the new Biden Administration. Like other memoirs being published shortly prior to a major presidential election, the 2020 U.S. presidential contest, this one is a largely self-serving account meant to counter Rice’s image as an authoritarian loose cannon. The memoir is essentially little more than a political sales pitch: “Look at all the wonderful things I have done, Joe Biden!” It’s hard to conclude anything other than Rice was putting herself forward either for Secretary of State or National Security Administration administrator, neither of which she was able to land.

Given her rich experience at the heart of U.S. foreign policy teams in the Clinton and Obama Administrations, this could have been an enlightening read. Although she currently holds the title of Director of the United States Domestic Policy Council, most of her political experience has been in the realm of foreign policy. She has served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (2009-2013) in the first Obama Administration and then as U.S. National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017. No doubt Rice, who emerged from the Brookings Institute in the 1990s into the Clinton Administration’s foreign policy team, is a highly qualified, well educated, intellectually sharp person whose background includes degrees at Stanford and Oxford. She is also, as my mother would put it, “a tough cookie”, with the backbone needed to make tough – and often quick – decisions in dealing with international crises.

Too bad, from my perspective, that all that talent is wasted due to the political framework within which her mind works and she operates. I would call her a Cold War liberal “of a new neo-liberal type”: progressive on the social issues of the day. She flashes her opposition to racism in the USA, supports gay rights, women’s rights, and boasts about supporting Black Lives Matter and the U.S. orchestrated NATO invasion of Libya that overthrew Khaddaffi at the same time.

Read more…

Center for Freedom and Justice – Colorado July 18, 2021 Interview with Raghad al Afifi, Palestinian educator who lived through the May, 2021 Israeli air bombing of Gaza

July 22, 2021
Gaza resident Yahia Sinwar sitting among the bombed out ruins of his home in Gaza, the result of the Israeli May, 2021 bombardment of Gaza

Here is the YouTube link to the interview. It is worth listening to and has already gotten more than 500 hits in a few days

Shortly afterwards, Ms. al Afifi posted this commentary on social media, Below are some of her remarks having been able to leave Gaza for the first time in fourteen years:

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“What must be talked about here too is that this is my first time traveling outside of Palestine in 14 straight years and that is of course because the blockade forced on Gaza. My family and I initially signed up our names to travel when the border finally opened during the past 11 days war back in May as an escape. Our names came out to be allowed passage through the border 2 weeks after the war ended and we decided to go anyway as a means to vent out the stress and heal the psychological damage that was caused by the war. Traveling out of Gaza and back was never the fun journey. Frankly, the trip back to Gaza was one of the worst experiences I had to live in my life. All Palestinians heading to the border were set to take a different road than usual -a longer, more torturous way-. Everyone had to wait 3 days in their vehicles in the hot summer mornings and cold nights till their turn to be fully checked by the Egyptian army. Much of the time was waisted in vain as random personnels in the army decided to just keep us waiting. Normally the trip takes 5 hours to get from Cairo to Gaza, but we had to wait for Godot, and not at any point we were sure that we’re actually going to make it back. When I’m talking about travelers here, I’m talking about people from different ages and life conditions who many of them were traveling for medical assistance and God knows how they made the trip and many others were international students going back to see their families whom they hadn’t seen in long.My hope for all Palestinians to find near salvation and safety. Free, free Palestine”

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Guest Blogger: Messay Kebede: The Enigma of the Western Crusade against Ethiopia and the Insidious Face of Racism

July 18, 2021

by Messay Kebede

(Publisher’s Note: One of the better articles to my mind on the growing antagonism of the United States towards Ethopia. Besides explaining well how human rights accusations against the Abiy government have been weaponized, it gives – what to my mind – is the best explanation for U.S. hositily. Of course, geo-political considerations exist, but the more one studies the geo-political themes, the less satisfying they seem to explain the current situation. Messay Kebede suggests another reason: failure of a regional “subordinate” to agree to Washington’s diktats, and to “obey” the orders from the likes of Susan Rise and Andrew Blinken relayed by Chris Coons and Jeffrey Feltman to the Abiy government. Ethiopia’s current “crime” is to pursue an independent political vison not approved by Washington. Washington’s anger is based on an old colonial, racist mentality dressed in modern clothing. Excellent piece – RJP)

Ethiopians and Eritreans of all stripes celebrating the choice of Abiy Ahmed as Ethoipian’s Prime Minister and the end of 27 years of oppressive Tigray Poplular Liberation Front (TPLF) rule. Aurara High School football field. July 22, 2018. Aurora Colorado

One thing that has been most incomprehensible for many Ethiopian observers, activists, and politicians is the barrage of one-sided criticisms coming from Western capitals since the eruption in November of an armed conflict between the federal government and the TPLF’s controlled northern region of Tigray. Directed exclusively against the federal government, the criticisms were soon followed by the implementations of various sanctions that elevated the surprise to the level of utter consternation. The deep differences over the direction of the country under the reformist leadership of Prime Minister Abiy constitute the underlying causes of the conflict. The immediate cause of the war, however, was the surprise attack of TPLF militia forces on the national defense forces stationed in Tigray. The Ethiopian government launched an all-out counter-offensive that it baptized “law enforcement operation,” which resulted in the quick and complete disbanding of TPLF forces. Unsurprisingly, severe humanitarian crises ranging from food shortages and killings of civilians to massive displacements into a neighboring country soon followed the military confrontation.

From Disbelief to Consternation

In light of the sudden and unprovoked attack on the Ethiopian national forces, the expectation of the Ethiopian government and most Ethiopians was that Western governments and opinions would see the Ethiopian counter-offensive as a legitimate move of self-defense and law enforcement. The expectation never came to fruition. Instead, the Ethiopian troops were accused of a host of violations that included the killings of innocent civilians, the rapes of women, the deliberate destruction of properties and, last but not least, the engagement in genocidal acts. To make matters worse, the involvement in the counter-offensive of Eritrean troops and Amhara militia forces, both reputed to be quite hostile to Tigrean leaders and elites, made the accusations of massive human rights violations even more credible. The end result of all this is that everything was turned upside down: the attacker was seen as the victim.

The Ethiopian surprise is all the harder to contain as Western governments did not show the same eagerness to express their condemnations during the 27 years of the TPLF’s horrific rule of Ethiopia. Even when repression became so intensified that it compelled the legislative branch of the US government to break the silence, not one single punitive measure was taken. To crown it all, President Obama described the TPLF’s government as a “democratically elected government” during his August 2015 visit to Ethiopia, even as all the 547 seats in the parliament were taken by its members and supporters and numerous activists and political leaders were languishing in jail where they were routinely tortured. Worse still, not one Western government expressed any outrage over the well documented recent massacre in Mai-Kadra of scores of Amhara residents by the TPLF forces in the wake of their retreat from advancing governmental troops and Amhara militia forces. The silence extended to major Western media outlets, which otherwise gave extensive coverage to alleged atrocities committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean forces. After the pause of dismay, the only conclusion left for Ethiopians was to say that the TPLF remains the favorite ally of Western governments and that their open hostility toward the present government is an attempt to come to its rescue.

Read more…

Raghad Alafifi, Palestinian woman from Gaza Will Speak on her experience living through the recent Israeli bombing. Sunday, July 18, 2021 @ 8 am MST

July 17, 2021

Center for Freedom and Justice – Colorado:

Raghad Alafifi will speak with CFJ-Colorado about her experience living in Gaza during the recent war. Raghad is a young Palesintian social entrepreneur who’s originally from Western Batani village in Palestine and is currently living in Gaza. She’s a 4-war survivor and an active contributor to positive change in her community. Her life is dedicated toward seeking and creating meaning, and she translates it through her nonprofit Fill The Gap work. Using a futuristic model of education, mentorship, and career counseling, Fill The Gap redesigns university experiences for ambitious Palestinian students who strive to lead meaningful, impactful lives.

Live on Facebook (go to Center for Freedom and Justice – Colorado Facebook Page) and

YouTube @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Pa-PTqq0VQ

Dearborn, Michigan. Protest Demonstration in support of the people of Palestine. May 17, 2021

Guest Blogger, Graham Peebles: “Stop Interfering – Ethiopia’s Opportunity After the Election”

July 13, 2021
Ethiopians and Eritreans Celebrating the appointment of Abiy Ahmed to the post of Ethiopia’s prime minister. They are also celebrating the end of 28 years of repressive and corrupt rule by the country’s Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF)

(Note: One of the better pieces on the situation in Ethiopia. Takes a different (better, more accurate) take on the situation than the mainstream media both in USA and UK. RJP)

Counterpunch

Stop Interfering – Ethiopia’s Opportunity After the Election

Graham Peebles – July 9, 2021

Despite ongoing violence in the northern region of Tigray, persistent attempts to de-rail the process and cries of catastrophe by western powers (most notably the US) and mainstream media, on the 21 June Ethiopia conducted its first ever democratic elections.

The mechanics of the election were not perfect, but crucially there were no reports of violence and the (independent) National Election Board of Ethiopia (NEBE) claims that turnout was good. Although some opposition parties complained about the voting process (which the NEBE is investigating), African Union observers found that, the elections were “conducted in an orderly, peaceful and credible manner”.

Due to conflict or logistical issues around 20% of the country (100 of 547 constituencies) did not take part, with the exception of Tigray these areas will vote in September. The election is a major milestone in the recent history of the country and the movement towards a more democratic form of governance.

To the surprise of nobody the government (The Prosperity Party), under the leadership of PM Abiy Ahmed, won an overwhelming victory. The full results are yet to be released, but signs suggest the incumbent may have taken all 547 parliamentary seats; however, in a positive move, PM Abiy has said he will invite members of opposition parties to participate in forming a new government. While total dominance is regrettable and unhealthy, it does place responsibility and opportunity firmly with the government, as well as unavoidable accountability.

Meddling Allies

The country is beset with a range of serious problems, the task before the government is daunting, the priorities clear. Firstly and essentially, establishing peace – nothing can be achieved unless the ongoing conflict in Tigray between TPLF forces and the military, and ethnic violence in other areas is brought to an end. The humanitarian fall-out of the Tigray war must be urgently addressed: over 131,000 (according to IOM UN Migration) have been displaced in the region, taking the total number of internally displaced persons to over two million, and millions require food aid.

Overall numbers and intensity of need are disputed; the UN estimates that up to five million people in Tigray are facing starvation, but the Ethiopian government has dismissed such numbers as “alarmist”. Contrary to reports in western media, that federal forces have sabotaged aid convoys, deliveries of food aid made by the World Food Programme (WFO) have been disrupted by TPLF forces inside the region. The deputy prime minister and minister for foreign affairs, Demeke Mekonen, has said that in the first round of humanitarian response “effort was made to reach out to 4.5 million people in the Tigray region through the delivery of food and non-food items. In the second and third rounds, the relief efforts were able to reach out to 5.2 million people.”

Establishing verifiable, reliable information in a war zone, where access is restricted, is difficult, nigh impossible; it is a mystery how western media and assertive commentators routinely make statements (that circulate and are repeated from one outlet to another until taken as fact) about the situation inside Tigray and other parts of the country without having been there, or in many cases, spoken to people inside the country. A point that is not lost on many Ethiopians.

The African Union (AU) has launched a commission of inquiry into the conflict, and a joint investigation by Ethiopia’s Human Rights Commission and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR) is also underway. Currently an agreed ceasefire is in place in Tigray and TPLF forces are in control of the regional capital Mekelle. If the people of Tigray want to be governed by the TPLF, as it appears they do, then as PM Abiy has suggested, they will soon see if that is a wise decision.

The welcome lull in fighting may create potential for discussions between the two sides, however distasteful this may be to both government and populace. To the fury of Ethiopians, home and abroad, in addition to sanctions and withholding aid (the US and EU), ‘talks’ are something western powers, most notably the US, have been calling for over past months: In March 2021 Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Relations Committee that “we need to get an independent investigation into what took place there, and we need some kind of…. reconciliation process.” “Reconciliation” with the TPLF, who terrorized the country for 27 years and are rightly despised throughout Ethiopia?

In response to US sanctions and lectures the Ethiopian government said, “if such a resolve to meddle in our internal affairs and undermining the century-old bilateral ties continues unabated, the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia will be forced to reassess its relations with the U.S., which might have implications beyond our bilateral relationship.” The level of condescension and interference displayed by the US and others has angered many Ethiopians.

The TPLF, regarded by the Ethiopian government and much of the populace as terrorists, were, and apparently remain the favored force of western powers. They ruled Ethiopia from 1992 to 2018 under the guise of a coalition , before collapsing under the weight of sustained protests in 2018. A totalitarian, unforgiving regime the TPLF ruled through fear and ethnic division. Corrupt to the core they syphoned off federal funds, divided communities along ethnic lines, committed state terrorism and Crimes against Humanity in a number of regions to a variety of ethnic groups.

Western powers supported the TPLF throughout their violent reign, notably the USA and the UK (with money and political legitimacy), and seem intent on levering them back into office and curtailing Ethiopia’s rise as a regional independent power. ‘Stop interfering in a sovereign state’ is the message loud and clear from Ethiopians of all regions, except Tigrayans; a message delivered at protests in Washington DC and at the recent G7 gathering in Britain that went unreported by mainstream media, who focused their coverage solely on the ‘humanitarian situation’ in Tigray (of which they appear to know little), ignoring the passionate cries against interference.

Mainstream media (including the BBC, CNN, The Guardian – which recently published a widely inaccurate piece about Tigray – Al Jazeera, VOA etc) is rightly regarded as a propaganda tool of western governments. The coverage of the election was broadly negative, slanted to echo the western/US agenda of delay. A key voice in this subversive effort is well known to Ethiopians; Susan Rice was US ambassador to the UN (2009-2013) and Obama’s national security adviser from 2013-2017. She has been ‘advising’, i.e., lobbying the Biden administration on behalf of the TPLF mafia, who she, and Obama, supported. The US (the worlds biggest arms dealer) appears to now be arming the ‘rebels’, via the military dictatorship of Egypt – the primary western voice-piece in the region.

Ethiopia’s potential

Ethiopia is going through a difficult, but potentially exciting time of transition, from serial dictatorship to some form of democracy. A system that observes human rights and allows universal freedoms including freedom of speech, unlike under the TPLF. However, there are a range of disruptive, subversive elements intent on derailing any democratic development, some of which sit firmly within the government and need to be purged. There are also malicious external forces that would see Ethiopia split, and ethnic division run wild: Egypt and Sudan are anxious and, one suspects, shocked by and envious of the construction of the Grand Renaissance Dam (the largest in Africa), and of Ethiopia’s potential strength and influence within the region and continent. And, angered by the country’s historic independence – it was never colonized, ejecting the Italians twice, 1896 and 1941 – jealous of its rich, ancient culture (dating to at least 3000BC), and nervous about China’s involvement in the country (and continent), the old European colonial powers and the decaying force of the US, apparently do not want Ethiopia to flourish, and would be happy to keep the country enslaved to western aid, as it was under the TPLF.

As the country attempts to move forward it needs friends, not nominal allies whose actions are corrupted by self-interest, arrogance and resentment; nations (USA, UK and EU chiefly) that stood by for decades watching the TPLF murder, torture and steal, and declared corrupt elections legitimate. Such voices have little credibility in Ethiopia.

The Ethiopian people are desperate for change, for peace and stability; they have given The Prosperity Party under the leadership of Abiy Ahmed a huge mandate to govern: as their term in office begins they will be closely watched, by Ethiopians at home and abroad. To unite a country that has been systematically divided over decades will take time, skill and patience. Mistakes will inevitably be made, but if the intent is sound and honesty is demonstrated, trust can be built and divisions will gradually begin to collapse.

Graham Peebles is a British freelance writer and charity worker. He set up The Create Trust in 2005 and has run education projects in Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and India. E: grahampeebles@icloud.com W: http://www.grahampeebles.org

Two U.S. Middle East Debacles: Afghanistan and Yemen, A Live Exchange with Ibrahimm Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Wednes, July 14, 8:30 pm MST (on Facebook and YouTube)

July 12, 2021
Entrance to Bagram Air Base, Kabul, Afghanistan just after it was deserted by U.S. forces

The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, perhaps the most ignominous moment in U.S. foreign policy history since the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. Analysis and prospects by Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Along with yet another failure – that of Yemen, key to the rising tensions of two key U.S. Gulf allies – Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

On YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8B_YOutBwI

On Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RobPrince1106/