Tag Archives: war

Hugo Chavez….Gadhafi’s only friend

Venezuela’s Chavez says US, NATO preparing for war in Libya, warns it would be madness

By Jorge Rueda, The Associated PressThe Canadian Press

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned Friday that it would be madness for the United States and its NATO allies to go to war in Libya to try to topple Moammar Gadhafi.

Chavez, a friend and ally of Gadhafi, criticized President Barack Obama for expressing support for the Libyan opposition.

“Right now they are preparing a war, the Yankees and their NATO allies,” Chavez said in a televised speech.

He predicted a larger war in Libya could push world oil prices to $200 a barrel, and he echoed Gadhafi’s warnings that a foreign military intervention would unleash much more bloodshed.

“If the Yankees (attempt) the madness of invading Libya — Gadhafi already said it a few days ago — it would be a new Vietnam,” Chavez said.

The Venezuelan president has proposed forming a “humanitarian commission” to travel to Libya to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

His stance has been echoed by Latin American allies including Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia. But other countries have dismissed Chavez’s mediation idea, and rebels in Libya have not expressed willingness to negotiate as long as Gadhafi remains in power.

Obama said Friday in Washington that the U.S. and the world community are “slowly tightening the noose” on Gadhafi. It was not clear what next steps Obama might be willing to take, but he said he was considering all options, including military efforts with NATO partners.

“Today I saw Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, saying that he’s concerned about the price of oil,” Chavez said.

Chavez has accused the U.S. of manoeuvring to seize control of Libya’s oil. He said he believes events in Libya are being distorted to lay the groundwork for a conflict, and likened it to the situation inVenezuela in 2002 when he survived a failed coup.

“In its desperation, the Yankee empire is continuing and will continue to threaten nations that struggle for their dignity … conspiring against governments,” Chavez said.

He said his proposal for a peace effort would respect “the self-determination and freedom of Libya, which is a sister nation.”

As for the conflict raging in Libya, Chavez said: “That’s a matter the Libyans should resolve.”




Barack Obama…US’ knight in shining armor???

Obama gives downbeat assessment of Mideast peace prospects, says 2 sides may give up

By Anne Gearan, The Associated Press

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama gave a surprisingly downbeat assessment Tuesday of the chances for a U.S.-brokered peace settlement in the Middle East, saying that the United States cannot help if Israel and the Palestinians decide they cannot negotiate.

The two sides “may say to themselves, ‘We are not prepared to resolve these issues no matter how much pressure the United States brings to bear,”‘ Obama said.

Obama reiterated that peace is a vital goal, but one that may be beyond reach “even if we are applying all of our political capital.”

Obama was responding to a question about whether the successful negotiation of a new arms control treaty with Russia and the agreements he won at this week’s nuclear summit could help him make gains elsewhere. His words are a recognition that although he pledged to work hard for a deal from his first day in office, Obama has gotten little traction in the decades-old conflict.

The United States is pushing for new Israeli-Palestinian talks in which the the Obama administration would be a go-between. Previous talks broke off more than a year ago, and despite shuttle diplomacy and unusual pressure on ally Israel, the Obama administration has been unable to reach even the modest goal of new talks.

Obama spoke at the close of a conference on securing nuclear materials. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu skipped the meeting because, a spokesman said, Israel thought it would devolve into “Israel-bashing.”

Israel sent a lower-level delegation instead. Israel is presumed to have nuclear weapons, although it does not say one way or the other.

Netanyahu acknowledged last week that his government has yet to resolve its differences with the United States over Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, a dispute that has stymied American efforts to restart peace talks.

Netanyahu said both countries still are working to find a solution but staunchly defended his government’s contentious settlement plans in the disputed holy city, calling them a long-standing Israeli policy.

“There are things we agree on, things we don’t agree on, things we are closing the gap on,” Netanyahu said of his talks with Washington. “We are making an effort.”

The worst crisis in U.S.-Israeli ties in years erupted last month when Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new homes for Jews in East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice-President Joe Biden, drawing sharp condemnation from Washington and calls to cancel the construction. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of Palestine in any two-state solution.

The announcement derailed a plan for third-party talks, in which each side would talk to a U.S. mediator, who would relay messages to the other. Obama had wanted a resumption of full, direct talks between the Israeli leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. U.S. officials settled for a pledge from both sides to engage in the awkward indirect talks, saying it was a step toward something better. That lesser goal is now in doubt, with each side blaming the other for delaying the start of talks.

Meanwhile, the top U.S. commander for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan said he never claimed that inaction toward a peace deal puts American soldiers at risk, and that he does not blame Israel for the lack of a deal so far.

Gen. David Petraeus told a Washington audience that a policy statement he submitted to Congress last month was misconstrued and misquoted by media and online commentators. The statement lists the unresolved status of Palestinians as a complicating factor in the region, and says there is a sense among many who live there that the United States is biased toward Israel.

Petraeus did not back off those assertions, but he said that in hindsight he wishes his statement had made clear that Israel is a valued strategic ally and will remain one.

“That’s something we should and could have included,” Petraeus said during an address to the Woodrow Wilson Center, “just to make sure there was no misperception about what we were implying by this.”


Inauguration of President Hamid Karzai

Afghan leader to take oath, reputation in tatters

By Peter Graff

KABUL (Reuters) – Foreign dignitaries were to begin descending on Kabul on Wednesday, the eve of the inauguration of President Hamid Karzai, who is struggling to rehabilitate his tattered reputation in the West after a fraud-marred election.

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry says 300 international dignitaries will attend Thursday’s oath-taking ceremony at the sprawling presidential palace in Kabul, including 30 presidents, vice presidents, prime ministers and foreign ministers.

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner have confirmed they will attend Karzai’s swearing-in.

Other countries, including the United States, have not announced in advance who will attend for security reasons.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s administration is in the final stages of deciding whether to send tens of thousands of extra troops, a decision that could come soon after the inauguration brings the tumultuous three-month election process to a close.

The Taliban insurgency has never been deadlier during Karzai’s 8-year rule, the Western force protecting him has never been larger, and his own reputation has never been weaker, wrecked by election fraud, corruption and weak government.

Security for the ceremony in Kabul will be extreme, with reporters barred from attending the inauguration itself.

The centerpiece of the ceremony will be Karzai’s inauguration speech, with Western officials hoping that the veteran leader can lay out a specific program to combat corruption, improve performance and limit the influence of former warlords.

“We would like some sort of roadmap. We want some clear direction given here,” a European diplomat said.


The election, intended to bolster the legitimacy of the Afghan leader, had the opposite effect, driving a wedge between Karzai and the Western countries whose troops defend him.

A U.N.-backed probe concluded nearly a third of votes for Karzai in the August 20 poll were fake, meaning he failed to win the 50 percent needed to avoid a second round. He was declared the winner anyway when his opponent quit before the run-off.

Public support for the war has plummeted in Western countries as the insurgency spreads and death tolls soar.

Obama has already presided over a massive escalation of the war. There are now nearly 110,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, including 68,000 Americans, more than half arriving this year.

Obama’s commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, has requested tens of thousands of additional troops, warning that without them, the war will probably be lost.

A Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Tuesday found that 52 percent of Americans now believe the war is not worth fighting, although 55 percent still believe Obama will choose a strategy that will work.

Western leaders need to persuade their people that Karzai’s government can be improved and is worth fighting for.

“Now that the election is finally over, we’re looking to see tangible evidence that the government, led by the president but going all the way down to the local level, will be more responsive to the needs of the people,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC television on Sunday.

Karzai’s government announced anti-graft measures this week, including a new major crimes police task force, prosecutors’ unit and tribunal — steps welcomed in the West, although it remains to be seen if they will be more effective than previous efforts.

Karzai was installed by the United States and its Afghan allies after they helped drive the Taliban from power in the wake of the September 11 attacks in 2001. He won a full term in the country’s first democratic presidential election in 2004.

(Editing by Paul Tait)


Venezuela, Colombia and Ecuador

Colombia moves to calm tensions with Venezuela

By Hugh Bronstein

BOGOTA (Reuters) – Colombia captured four members of the Venezuelan National Guard on Colombian soil and said on Saturday it would send them home in a gesture aimed at lowering diplomatic tensions between the neighboring countries.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez last week ordered his army to prepare for war, warning that a new U.S.-Colombia military cooperation agreement could set the stage for an invasion of Venezuela. Bogota and Washington dismiss the claim, saying their pact is limited to fighting drug-runners and rebels in Colombia.

“They should carry back the message that here there is brotherly affection for Venezuela and that affection is unbreakable,” said Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, referring to the Venezuelans captured on Friday.

The four were stopped by the Colombian Navy while traveling by boat on a river in the border province of Vichada.

The long-simmering spat between conservative Uribe and leftist Chavez has reduced bi-lateral trade, which amounted to more than $7 billion last year, and increased tension along a border already beset by the smuggling of drugs and other contraband. But analysts are not predicting war.

The Colombian government issued a statement calling for the release of an officer of its DAS intelligence service being held in Venezuela. Chavez has also accused Colombia of spying.

“By sending the four Venezuelans back, Uribe is trying to mark a contrast between himself and Chavez, who looks belligerent by comparison,” said Mauricio Romero, political science professor at Bogota’s Javeriana University.

“This is meant for consumption in Colombia, in the international community and it could help the Venezuelan opposition as well,” Romero said.

“Uribe is playing to three audiences.”

Washington sees Uribe as a buffer against Chavez and Rafael Correa, the socialist President of Ecuador.

On Friday, Ecuador and Colombia exchanged charges d’affaires in a step toward normalizing diplomatic ties cut by Correa after Colombia bombed a rebel camp set up on Ecuador’s side of the border in 2008.

In another good-will gesture, Uribe said on Saturday Colombia would keep sending electric energy to Ecuador despite shortages in Colombia caused by lighter-than usual rains.

 (Editing by Todd Eastham)