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Nation World  


 

What next in Yemen with Saleh’s exit
By Jayatilleke de Silva
It was Wednesday last that Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh agreed to step down after being in power for 33 years. The agreement to this effect was signed in Riyadh in the presence of the Saudi monarch between the Government and Opposition parties.
The deal was brokered by the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Earlier he had agreed to the deal but reneged at the last moment three times. There was a difference this time. The United States Ambassador had personally intervened and made the conditions of his abdication more honourable and safe. An immunity clause has been added under which the President and his family members will not be prosecuted for any misdeeds. The deal requires the President to transfer power to the Vice President Mansur Hadi, hold a Presidential election within three months. It also allows him to remain as honorary President for 90 days.
The deal was hailed in world capitals, especially Washington, Paris and London in addition to Riyadh where it was signed. The reaction in Sanaa, the Yemen capital was, however, mixed. Those protestors in Change Square who had defied repression including mayhem by the military stood defiant and unmoved denouncing the immunity granted to Sahel as treachery. There were also those who hoped the agreement would end the turmoil.

Doubt lingers
Doubt lingers still whether Saleh will stage a comeback. There are reasons for scepticism too. Members of the President’s family continue to hold high positions in the armed forces and the administration. The Vice President had proved to be a weak leader during the time he was acting as President when Saleh was in Saudi Arabia for treatment following a bomb attack in June.
Yemen was one of the first countries to erupt in revolt following the Tunisian uprising which heralded the so-called Arab Spring. While the full fury of the establishment was unleashed on the masses neither the United States nor other members of the NATO expressed serious concern about the human rights violations there. In fact, they kept them away from popular view through a conspiracy of silence as against their reaction to events elsewhere such as Syria and Libya. The difference in treatment could be seen from the difference in treatment given to Gaddafi and Saleh. While the former was killed the latter was handled with velvet gloves arranging for him a safe and honourable exit. There were other reasons for this difference in approach. It should not be forgotten that Yemen houses the headquarters of the Middle East Command of the United States Army.

Turning point
Saleh’s exit is only turning point in the struggle of the Yemeni people. One important factor would be the reaction of Tribal Chief Amar and his followers who fought incessant armed battles with the authorities. Apparently his followers are excluded from the interim arrangement. The Opposition Alliance (JMP) too seems to be weary of him.
Revolutions are not made to order, they say. The series of revolts and uprisings spanning North Africa and West Asia proved it right. Yet, one cannot say the same of counter-revolutions. As developments in the region show that conservative forces have been able to stall most of these uprisings or direct them on paths less radical.
Once again it has been shown that while revolutions could break out spontaneously much organisation is necessary for their success. In Egypt, the conservatives managed to install the military in actual control with the ouster of Mubarak. Progressive forces are still struggling to replace the old regime with a democratic alternative. Hence the renewed agitation at Tahrir square.

New polarisation
The Arab Spring looks more like the beginning of a new period in which the revolution will have to advance and what the former had achieved is just opening broad avenues for such mass action.
As the Occupy Wall Street protests sweeping the United States show the impact of the Arab Spring has reached the Western hemisphere too. The nature of all these new protest movements show that they are basically youth-based and are grounded on socio-economic hardships faced by the masses in this age of neo-liberal globalisation. Though it is too early to predict definitively there seems to a new polarisation of popular forces where the religio-ethnic factors seem to be replaced by more social and class factors.
In the meantime Europe is engulfed in a deep financial and economic crisis. More and more European countries are falling victims of nonredeemable debt burdens. The collective strength of the system has been so far unable to resolve the issue. This is radicalising public opinion in the continent, hitherto considered more conservative. While these developments take place in the political sphere in the economic sphere China and other emerging countries are stealing a march over their American and European counterparts. The centre of gravity of the world of production has changed to the East. The cumulative effect of all these phenomena gives hope that the 21st Century promises a bright future despite conflict.

 

Regime change: Another go at Myanmar

By Karapincha
They are at it again. They demonised Myanmar, called it a pariah state and imposed their ‘sanctions’.
The only problem was that the ‘sanctions’ imposed in 1990, did not work, not for American business. Foreign investment in Myanmar in the fifteen years to 2005 had reached US$7.76 billion. Much of it ($4 billion) had come from South East Asia. The ‘west-bloc’ invested $ 2.7 billion of which the USA was able to bring in only $ 246 million (10%), - roughly what the Netherlands had invested and way below the UK and France. By way of comparison, Singapore and Thailand had invested around $ 1.5 billion each.
The USA handicapped itself in the matter of plundering Myanmar. Initially, the big Democratic entrepreneurs of the USA challenged economic sanctions against Burma - including a ban on imports of Burmese products and a ban on provision of financial services by US persons. The second half of that prescription didn’t work – some US companies were desperate to get a foot in the door and contrived to turn ‘foreign investment’ into some kind of smuggled goods. As Condoleeza Rice of Chevron (banned in Brazil last week) notoriety put it in relation to Latin America, “We may have shot ourselves in the foot”. Indeed. When you set out to screw people, that’s the way it goes.

Tears for oppressed people
It was also announced last week that Hillary Clinton plans to travel to Myanmar on Dec. 1-2, to meet with government and opposition leaders. It is the culmination of a two-year effort “to engage with a repressive government the US long had shunned”. The Mainstream Media, tears streaming down for the oppressed people of Myanmar, phrased the matter in these self-righteous a.k.a ‘wishful’ terms:
“Myanmar will have to do more to get what it really wants from Washington, which is the lifting of sanctions”, and, “The Obama administration can reward progress with significant gestures”, -quite as though that decrepit, desperate and duplicitous lot are in a position to ‘reward’ the leaders of self-sufficient economies such as those of Myanmar (or Libya, Venezuela, China or Iran and several others). It was followed though by the give-away: “That would require the approval of Congress, where some influential lawmakers have strong personal interest in restoring democracy to Myanmar.” Ooh-la-la!
Myanmar has a high rate of literacy (85 percent), net negative migration, low population growth. A few further figures follow:
GDP - per capita: ‘purchasing power parity’ - $1,700 (2004 est.)
GDP - agriculture: 56.6%; industry: 8.8% ; services: 34.5%
Labour force by occupation: agriculture 70%, industry 7%, services 23%.
Those figures tell a story. The people are mostly farmers, and the bulk of the national product is generated by agriculture. There have been no invitations to MNCs to invest in agriculture. That’s in people’s hands. Myanmar is also a party to international protocols on biodiversity, Climate Change - Kyoto, Desertification, Endangered Species, Law of the Sea, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber – many of which the USA has refused to ratify for herself.
Such are the markers of ‘a pariah state’
Plus of course the vital ones (much of what follows comes from US State Department, / FBI reports.

Rich with natural resources
“Strategically located near major Indian Ocean shipping lanes, she has enormous natural resources: - petroleum, timber, tin, antimony, zinc, copper, tungsten, lead, coal, marble, limestone, precious stones, natural gas, hydropower.” The run-down goes, - (most figures are for 2003):

Oil - proved reserves:
3.2 billion bbl;

Natural gas - proved reserves, 2.46 trillion cu m; production, 9.98 billion cu m p.a. of which domestic consumption is 1.569 billion cu m, while 8.424 billion cu m are exported. The gas is being exported to China, god forbid! It’s as though those damned generals hadn’t heard of Exxon, Chevron and BP. Quite ‘backward’ of them, huh? At current rates of production those reserves are good for about 25,000 years. Myanmar has, besides the other minerals etc that are of strategic value mentioned above, $$ several billion in reserves of foreign exchange.”
So, what are we to do? A lead option is to start ‘a civil war’ or pretend there is one. In its reports on Myanmar, the FBI notes, with glee, naturally, government offensives against ethnic insurgent groups near borders and goes on, “Most IDPs are ethnic Karen, Karenni, Shan, and Mon”. How do their numbers, - numbers are of people - break? Shan 9%, Karen 7%, Mon 2%. The Karenni figure among “other” who make up a total of 5%. They have all been living for centuries in cross-border settlements, - as ‘borders’ came to be drawn by the colonizers. Minority groups, whether ‘ethnic’ or religious have been the favourite tool employed for destabilising sovereign states: as, witness, current operations in Iraq and those being planned in Iran. Sri Lanka is a copy-book case.

Aung Suu Kyi
That did not work. The other markers of Democracy are a readiness to use force against the ordinary people of their country, and corruptibility. So, let’s go for Human Rights (which we deny our own citizens back home, but then, didn’t you know that ‘America’ is an ‘Exception’?
Don’t be too hard on us. We did have our pawn right up there on the 7th rank. Aung Suu Kyi. Who is she? Her father was a General in the army, has been credited with negotiating the withdrawal of the Brits from that bit of ‘Empire’. She had been educated in India, Oxford for her B.A. (in PPE – of the same order as International Relations is now), spent a couple of years in New York, returned to London for a Ph. D, married, had children and, come home after some 20+ years because her mother was ill. She had ‘gone into politics’ and led her party to victory shortly before a military government took power. When her husband, who had remained in London, diagnosed with a cancer, she had been urged to join him but had refused to leave Myanmar. Even after his death she had stayed on. In the meantime she had been ‘rewarded’ by Uncle Sam with a Nobel Prize for Peace. One notes that among other recipients of that award / reward, have been Lech Walesa (point-man for ‘Glasnost’), Henry Kissinger war-monger extraordinaire, Kofi Annan (for keeping his mouth shut during the invasion of Iraq), and Barack Obama (for doing the same on the Zionist genocide in Gaza).

Aung Suu Kyi, though educated in missionary schools in England, her skills polished in America, is reputedly a firm Theravada Buddhist and a Gandhian pacifist. She now advocates bringing in hordes of Tourists to a country that has no need of VFE (Valuable Foreign Exchange). Invitations to the ‘robber barons’ have no doubt been placed in abeyance.
But, watch out! She’s also said that: “It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” That is clearly meant to be applied to the domestic scene, not to predators from ‘the abroad-eka’. So, should we take that line at face value?

 

Occupy Jacksonville

(a word from the streets)

By Tony Courseault

a cyclist ventures toward
the centre,
a draft, measured and
all too raw, draws
him like a magnet,
a bellowing of a voice,
souls occupying a space,
this space, St James
City Hall,
this place,
named after Andrew
Jackson, takes the
rider closer to what
sings to his heart’s desire;

articulate Grunge
sit resolutely as passersby
and curious questioners
want specifics;
a comfort easily revealing that
the world is rudderless
allows for love un-experienced;
leaderless is the new language
of love, says she;
speckles of protesters
hear demands for demands,
they, who only know love;

a museum hunkers comfortably
across the centre, peering
at this unfolding, as it pleas
for more Culture;
they smile and understand
the cherished longing for Humanism;

swirls of adoring purpose
changes the elements,
shifting the patterns
of ‘specifics,’
moving...being moved
by spirit and circumstance
of infinite stratospheres;

he shouts, “we are understanding
and speaking a new language not
of the old system!”leering city hall
sees cracks on its sidewalk;
they know, they know...
Sam is not their Uncle anymore.