“Jasmine Revolution”
Symbol of peace: Flowers placed on the barrel of a tank
in very much calmer protests than in recent days in Tunisia

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011

'The Protester' - Time Person of the Year 2011
Mannoubia Bouazizi, the mother of Tunisian street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi. "Mohammed suffered a lot. He worked hard. but when he set fire to himself, it wasn’t about his scales being confiscated. It was about his dignity." (Peter Hapak for TIME)

1 - TUNISIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

How eyepatches became a symbol of Egypt's revolution - Graffiti depicting a high ranking army officer with an eye patch Photograph: Nasser Nasser/ASSOCIATED PRESS

2 - EGYPT Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

''17 February Revolution"

3 - LIBYA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

5 - SYRIA Democratic Change / Freedom of Speech (In Transition)

"25 January Youth Revolution"
Muslim and Christian shoulder-to-shoulder in Tahrir Square
"A Summary" – Apr 2, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Religion, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Intelligent/Benevolent Design, EU, South America, 5 Currencies, Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Middle East, Internet, Israel, Dictators, Palestine, US, Japan (Quake/Tsunami Disasters , People, Society ...), Nuclear Power Revealed, Hydro Power, Geothermal Power, Moon, Financial Institutes (Recession, Realign integrity values ..) , China, North Korea, Global Unity,..... etc.) -
(Subjects: Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" (without a manager hierarchy) managed Businesses, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)
"The End of History" – Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)
(Subjects:Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, Muhammad, Jesus, God, Jews, Arabs, EU, US, Israel, Iran, Russia, Africa, South America, Global Unity,..... etc.) (Text version)

"If an Arab and a Jew can look at one another and see the Akashic lineage and see the one family, there is hope. If they can see that their differences no longer require that they kill one another, then there is a beginning of a change in history. And that's what is happening now. All of humanity, no matter what the spiritual belief, has been guilty of falling into the historic trap of separating instead of unifying. Now it's starting to change. There's a shift happening."

“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013.

They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."

African Union (AU)

African Union (AU)
African Heads of State pose for a group photo ahead of the start of the 28th African Union summit in Addis Ababa on January 30, 2017 (AFP Photo/ Zacharias ABUBEKER)

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela
Few words can describe Nelson Mandela, so we let him speak for himself. Happy birthday, Madiba.

Monday, February 28, 2011

U.S., British officials benefited from thaw in Libya relations

Some who led effort to end sanctions in 2003 later did business with Gadhafi regime

MSNBC, By Michael Isikoff, National investigative correspondent, NBC News, Feb 28, 2011

The U.S. government’s condemnation of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in recent days followed an eight-year period in which U.S. and British leaders sought to appease the Libyan dictator and play down his human rights abuses in an effort to open up his oil rich country for lucrative business deals.

Those policies — after years of international sanctions — later proved profitable for some of those officials, as they left government and went to work for companies doing business in that country.

The chief U.S. diplomat who negotiated the restoration of U.S.-Libya relations was later hired as a vice president for Bechtel, the giant engineering company, and put in charge of overseeing projects in Libya. The top British spymaster who helped arrange for Gadhafi to give up his nuclear weapons program was then hired by BP to oversee the oil company’s massive exploration deal in Libya.

Now, the efforts to curry favor with Gadhafi — endorsed by both the Bush and Obama administrations — are triggering harsh reactions in some quarters amid the reports of the Libyan dictator's violent suppression of the popular revolt inside his country.

“All those people in the diplomatic world who thought somehow he would be a modern progressive leader should be ashamed of themselves,” Rabbi Stephanie Bernstein, whose husband was among the 259 people killed in the Libya-orchestrated 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, told Al-Jazeera last week. “When we make it possible for a brutal dictator to stay in power and oppress his own people we are complicit.”

After Gadhafi agreed to give up his nuclear and chemical weapons programs in 2003, the administration of former President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government moved to “normalize” relations with Libya. The one-time pariah state was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, economic sanctions were lifted and full diplomatic relations were restored.

(In fact, there are now doubts about whether Gadhafi lived up to his bargain. A video recording has surfaced that allegedly shows chemical and biological weapons that have been seized in the past two days in Misrata, Libya, from a "security brigades' storage unit" by rebels opposed to Gadhafi’s regime.)

Gadhafi himself was treated to visits from a parade of senior officials, including Blair in 2004 and 2007 and then-U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in 2008. (Gadhafi had previously heaped praise upon Rice, telling Al-Jazeera, "I support my darling black African woman. ... Leeza, Leeza, Leeza. ... I love her very much.")

Obama continues courtship

The move to cultivate Gadhafi continued under President Barack Obama’s administration. In July 2009, Jeffrey Feltman, the assistant secretary of state for near eastern affairs, traveled to Tripoli and promoted greater military cooperation between the U.S. and Libya to fight terrorism. When asked about Libya’s human rights records (sharply criticized in multiple State Department reports), Feltman said that would not be an obstacle for Obama in securing a closer “partnership” between the two countries.

Obama “is not in the business of standing up and pointing fingers when he sees others do not live up to … these principles,” Feltman said during his trip when asked about past U.S. criticism of Libya’s human rights record.

At about the same time, prominent U.S. lobbying firms got big contracts to represent Gadhafi’s regime in Washington and burnish its international image. And the chief of a business group that lobbied Capitol Hill for closer ties with Libya landed a top post in Hillary Clinton’s State Department.

Among the examples of the “revolving door” relationships involving top U.S. and British officials and big Western corporations doing business in Libya:

  • David Welch. The senior U.S. diplomat who led the negotiations that restored full diplomatic ties between U.S. and Libya, Welch quit the State Department at the end of 2008 and immediately went to work as a vice president for Bechtel, responsible for the company's Middle East and European divisions.. Among his duties: landing Bechtel contracts to build power plants and other projects in Libya. Welch’s efforts appeared to bear fruit last year when Bechtel announced that it had opened up a new office in central Libya “to support expansion of business in the country.” A spokesman for Bechtel did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.

  • Bob Livingston. A former Louisiana congressman and chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Livingston’s Washington lobbying firm — the Livingston Group — signed a $2.4 million contract to represent Libya in Washington in 2008. Livingston told Fox8-TV last week he later “fired” Libya after Gadhafi’s government gave a hero’s welcome to Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, after he was released from a Scottish prison and returned to Libya in August 2009.

  • David Goldwyn. An international energy consultant who now serves as the State Department’s “coordinator for energy affairs,” Goldwyn previously served as executive director of the U.S.-Libya Business Association, a consortium of major oil companies (including BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron and Halliburton) and other multinationals that lobbied for closer ties with Libya in order to facilitate new business opportunities. Goldwyn testified before Congress on the issue and, after leading a delegation of business executives to Tripoli in December 2008, talked about the “fantastically warm reception” they received from senior Libya officials. A State Department spokesman said that in his new job, Goldwyn does not work on Libya affairs.

The U.S. cultivation of Gadhafi was overshadowed by an even bigger effort to curry favor with the Libyan dictator by the British government, as documented in a report to Parliament last month.

That report showed that under the previous Labor governments of Blair and Gordon Brown, the British government went to unusual lengths to please Gadhafi, in part to nail down a $900 million oil exploration deal that BP had signed in 2007.

A key BP consultant on the project: Mark Allen, the former MI6 British spymaster for the Mideast who developed a personal relationship with Gadhafi in U.S. and British negotiations aimed persuading him to give up his nuclear program in 2003.

Documents released in the British government report shows that Allen and another BP executive personally lobbied British officials about the importance of signing a “prisoner transfer agreement” with Libya that might allow for the release of Al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber. Libyan officials had warned that the failure to release al-Megrahi would jeopardize the BP oil deal. (BP has consistently declined to comment on Allen’s role, but has insisted that the company never directly lobbied the British government for al-Megrahi’s release.)

(Libya’s former justice minister, Abdel Jalil, has said in recent days he has “proof” that the bombing was ordered by Gadhafi and that al-Megrahi, a former Libyan intelligence agent, threatened to “spill the beans” if the Libyan leader did not arrange his release from prison.)

The British government report included the release of friendly letters that Brown wrote to Gadhafi, taking a personal interest in his family, extending Ramadan greetings, and expressing his interest — as he put in one Sept. 27, 2007, note — in “developing a close and productive relationship with you personally.” That letter included plugs for the BP oil deal and approval of a separate deal by General Dynamics UK and the European consortium MBDA to sell a tactical air defense system to Libya.

Brown’s government was sharply criticized in the report for making a policy decision – never publicly stated — to secure al-Megrahi’s release by the Scottish government. Brown, in a statement after the report was released last month, called the Lockerbie bombing “an unspeakable act of terrorism” and said he never pushed the Scottish government to release the convicted bomber. He also emphasized that in another letter he sent Gadhafi in August 2009 he told the Libyan leader “there should be no public celebration in Libya if he (al-Megrahi) were released” — a plea that was ignored by Gadhafi.

The policy of appeasing Gadhafi now may be causing at least some of those who implemented it some second thoughts. Blair, who twice traveled to Tripoli to meet with Gadhafi in 2004 and 2007, last on Friday personally called the Libyan leader and asked him to stop killing protesters.
In the U.S., Elliot Abrams, a former National Security Council official in the Bush administration who handled Mideast affairs, wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Friday defending the decision to lift sanctions against Libya in exchange for him giving up weapons of mass destruction.

“Seen from this bloody February of 2011,” Abrams wrote, “the agreement with Libya was still the right policy. Gadhafi in his bunker with control over missiles, chemical weapons, and a rudimentary nuclear program is a terrifying thought.”

But Abrams said he hoped that the Libyan people would not remember the U.S. only for the most recent chapter of its relationship with Gadhafi.

“Gadhafi’s “vicious regime has left Libya far worse than he found it on the day of his coup in 1960,” Abrams wrote. “Like Idi Amin and Emperor Bokassa, Gadhafi will soon join the pantheon of grotesque dictators who leave their countries in ruins. Given the last years — when quiet disapproval replaced forcefully denunciation as U.S. policy — we can only hope that Libyans remember the decades when we were Gadhafi’s worst enemy.”

African dictator’s son lives high life in US

RT, 28 February, 2011

The son of Equatorial Guinea's dictator has released plans to construct superyacht costing $380 million, three times what his county spends on healthcare or education.

Teodorin Obiang (Image from bossip.com)
Teodorin Obiang currently resides in a $35 million-dollar mansion in Malibu, California, owns a $33 million jet, and brings in a monthly salary of $6,799 as the nation’s official Minister of Agriculture. Global witness argued the lifestyle is far too extravagant and has called for sanctions against Obiang.

Corruption watchdog group Global Witness said Kusch Yachts in Germany has been asked to build the luxurious yacht – which is to include a restaurant, movie theater, bars and a swimming pool.

AP reported the press office in Equatorial Guinea confirmed the order but insisted it had not currently been purchased, and that if it were to go through it would be paid for with Obiang’s personal funds, not “with funds derived from sources of illegal financing or corruption” Obiang’s father, President Teodoro Obiang, seized power in Equatorial Guinea in 1979 following a bloody coup d'état. President Obiang is estimated to be worth $600 million and the son is expected to succeed the father as the tiny West African nation’s president.

The family has continually defended their wealth and exorbitant lifestyle, arguing their nation’s laws to don forbid it, even thought the people are suffering.

According to the UN about 20 percent of children in Equatorial Guinea die before the age of 5, those who survive childhood are unlikely to live beyond 50. In addition there are concerns of torture and killings by state police for political gain.

President Obiang is also known for his active push to clean up his image. Hiring lobbyists on K Street in Washington, DC, Obiang spent millions to have a UNESCO award named after him. However, backlash erupted over Obiang record.

Turing to Qorvis Communications the embattled dictator sought help at a cost of $55,000 per month to repair his image. The push brought about Clinton family connections and photo-ops with US President Barack Obama. American lobbyists took an accused human rights abuser leading a corrupt government and turned him into fast friends with American political elites.

Meanwhile, following popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the region, some in Equatorial Guinea have begun to hope for change of their own, some staging hunger strikes. However those who protest often end up fleeing the country for their own protection.

According to the US State Department, one-third of the nation’s population lives abroad in either voluntary or forced exile.

Teodoro Obiang Nguema has ruled Equitorial Guinea since 1979

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Iran opposition leaders Mousavi and Karroubi 'arrested'

BBC News, 28 February 2011

Iran Crisis

Iranian opposition leaders Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi and their wives have been taken from their homes by security forces, reports suggest.

Mr Mousavi and Mr Karroubi had previously
been under house arrest
Mr Karroubi's son told the BBC he had heard his father had been moved, but did not know where he had been taken.

A website close to Mr Mousavi claims the men have been taken to Heshmatiyeh jail in Tehran. The men had previously been under house arrest.

The incident comes ahead of planned protests to be held on Tuesday.

Both men had called for demonstrations in support of the uprisings in Tunisia and in Egypt.

Earlier this month the two men, along with their wives, were detained in their respective homes in Tehran as protests were staged on the streets of the capital.

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Belarus breaks Ivory Coast arms embargo - UN chief

BBC News, 28 February 2011

Ivory Coast crisis

Belarus has seriously violated the international arms embargo on Ivory Coast, UN chief Ban Ki-moon says.

Ivory Coast has been subject to an international
arms embargo since 2004
The former Soviet republic was delivering three attack helicopters and related material to forces led by Laurent Gbagbo, his spokesman said.

President Laurent Gbagbo is refusing to hand over to Alassane Ouattara, widely seen as the winner of November's poll.

Clashes between the two sides has prompted the UN to warn the country is at risk of relapsing into civil war.

An armed rebellion in 2002 split the world's largest cocoa producer between the north, held by New Forces rebels, and the government-controlled south.

Belarusian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Savinykh rejected the accusations as "groundless", AP news agency reports.

But Mr Ban's spokesman said the first delivery had reportedly arrived on a flight which landed late on Sunday and additional flights were scheduled for Monday.

"This is a serious violation of the embargo… which has been in place since 2004," the spokesman said.

"The violation has been immediately brought to the attention of the Security Council's committee charged with the responsibility for sanctions," he said.

UN peacekeepers are currently providing protection to Mr Ouattara, who has been holed up in a hotel in the main city of Abidjan since the election results were announced in early December.

Much of the recent fighting has centred on the main city of Abidjan between rival supporters.

However, skirmishes in the west of the country last week between the former rebels and pro-Gbagbo forces has seen the number of civilians fleeing to neighbouring Liberia surge.

It was the first time the ceasefire between the two armed sides had been broken in six years.

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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Saudi intellectuals call for sweeping reforms

USA Today, Feb 27, 2011

CAIRO (AP) — More than 100 leading Saudi academics and activists are calling on the oil-rich country's monarch to enact sweeping reforms, including setting up a constitutional monarchy, as mass protests that have engulfed other Arab nations lapped at Saudi Arabia's shores.

The statement seen on several Saudi websites Sunday reflects the undercurrent of tension that has simmered for years in the world's largest oil producer. While King Abdullah is seen as a reformer, the pace of those reforms has been slow as Saudi officials balance the need to push the country forward with the perennial pressure from hard-line clergy in the conservative nation.

"The current situation ... is full of reasons for concern," said the statement, which is signed by 119 academics, activists and businessmen. "We are seeing ... a receding of Saudi Arabia's prominent regional role for which our nation was known and the .... prevalence of corruption and nepotism, the exacerbation of factionalism and a widening in the gap between state and society."

Detailing a laundry list of economic and social ills in the kingdom, the activists said "the people's consent is the sole guarantee for the unity and stability" and the people must be the source of power.

It said that while Saudi Arabia enjoys tremendous oil wealth, the money needs to be better distributed to the people instead of being channeled to expensive projects with few immediate benefits.

Abdullah has been pushing for reforms, setting up a coed research university in a country where the sexes are normally segregated and pressing ahead with construction of industrial and economic cities to diversify away from — and better capitalize on — the country's oil economy.
On Sunday, he offered a new carrot, ordering that government sector workers employed under temporary contracts be offered permanent contracts that carry major perks like pensions.

That move came after Abdullah on Wednesday ordered a slew of new measures targeting low-income earners. The roughly $36 billion in initiatives includes debt forgiveness and a 15% cost of living increase for public sector employees. It nearly doubles the budget for a development fund that helps Saudis buy homes and it boosts funding for a bank that offers interest free loans to Saudis for a range of needs such as marriage, starting a business or buying furniture.

Saudi Arabia's finance minister, Ibrahim Al-Assaf, was quoted on state television as saying that the country would likely have to dip into its foreign reserves to pay for the new incentives. Saudi Arabia, which derives much of its foreign revenue from oil, has about $440 billion in foreign currency reserves, according to December figures posted on the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency's website.

But with about two-thirds of the country under 30 years of age, Saudi Arabia faces many challenges. Unemployment in the youth demographic is about three times the national average and many complain of few job opportunities. There is an 18-year waiting list for housing from the state, meaning that many young Saudis are unable to get married since securing an apartment is a prerequisite.

Calls for reform have repeatedly been raised, but action has been slow. Women still grapple with sharply restricted freedoms and intermingling of the sexes in public is banned.
The statement called for the establishment of a constitutional monarchy and the election of members of the advisory assembly known as the Shura Council.

It calls for immediate action to set a timeline for the reforms, release political prisoners, lift the travel ban on activists or intellectuals who have run afoul of the monarchy and allow unfettered freedom of expression.

The call comes about a week after a Facebook page appeared and issued similar demands. The page, which called for protests on March 11, has shot up in popularity in the span of several days — going from about 400 people to more than 12,000.

Abdullah, who returned to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday after a three-month absence for medical treatment in the United States and recuperation in Morocco, has tried to pre-empt the unrest that has come dangerously close to his nation.

The mass demonstrations that led to the toppling of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents have turned bloody in Libya, leaving Moammar Gadhafi struggling to retain control of his country.

In Yemen, the embattled president has shifted alternately between bribing and beating protesters. In Bahrain, the protests continue unabated, creating waves in the island nation off Saudi Arabia's shoreline while Oman, a fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member, is seeing growing unrest.

Addressing their demands to both the government and the Saudi people, the activists said they were "confident in the receptiveness of all to the beneficial lessons learned in the (other) Arab countries."

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Tunisian interim PM Ghannouchi resigns over protests

BBC News, 27 February 2011

Tunisian interim Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has announced on state TV that he is resigning - a key demand of demonstrators.

Mohammed Ghannouchi was seen as too
closely linked to the old regime
He was speaking at a news conference in Tunis, after making a lengthy speech defending his record in government.

Mr Ghannouchi is seen as being too close to former President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who was toppled in an uprising last month.

Mr Ghannouchi had served under Mr Ben Ali since 1999.

On Friday and Saturday, anti-government protesters held huge rallies calling for Mr Ghannouchi's resignation.

At least three people were killed in clashes between hundreds of demonstrators and security forces in Tunis on Saturday.

Tunisia's government had insisted it was introducing reforms as fast as it could, and that they were planning to hold elections by next July.

But thoses promises did not seem to satisfy the protesters, correspondents say.

South Africa launches state-owned mining company

BBC News, 27 February 2011

South African President Jacob Zuma has launched a state-owned mining company, called the African Exploration Mining and Finance Corporation (AEMFC).

There has been a debate within the ruling ANC
party over mine nationalization
However the move is likely to cause concern amongst international investors, who may view it as a step towards the nationalisation of South Africa's mining industry.

Mining is one of South Africa's most important economic sectors.

Mr Zuma said the body would bring all state mining interests into its remit.

"The role of the state cannot merely be confined to that of a regulator. The state must actively participate in the mining industry to ensure that our national interest is protected and advanced," Mr Zuma said.

"Government policy on minerals and mining does not make provision for the nationalization of mining assets, but it does not prevent the state from participating actively in mining, competing with other companies," he said.

Small step?

Recently South African mining minister Susan Shabangu moved to reassure investors when she said the nationalisation of mines was "not the option."

However there has been a debate within the ruling African National Congress party as to whether the country's mining industry should be fully nationalised.

The South African Communist Party also supports the nationalisation of mining.

"What is worrying for mining investors is, where does it go from here?" said Alison Turner, an analyst with Panmure Gordon.

"Is this just a small step to a much broader transfer... to state ownership?" she added.

South Africa is a a leading producer of precious metals such as gold and platinum as well as a major supplier of coal.

Hereditary dictatorship

RNW, 26 February 201, by Thijs Papôt

(Photos: Wikipedia)

The fact that Muammar Gaddafi’s seven sons all occupy key positions in Libya confirm the assertion that nepotism is an inevitable part of dictatorship.

The despot’s wife and children can easily double as confidant, security minister or head of the national oil company, and in many cases “heir to the throne”. If a dictator is ousted or brought to justice, it’s usually bad news for the family as well. Saddam Hussein’s sons and his cousin Chemical Ali were all dead before the man himself was executed.

But it can turn out differently. The admiration for a controversial potentate among a section of the population can often benefits his offspring, and vast sums of re-routed government money often find their way into the pockets of a leader’s heirs. Let’s see how some of these family businesses operate around the world.

DR Congo: Mobutu Sese Seko

Photo: Wikipedia
Mobutu Sese Seko (1930-1997) ruled DR Congo for 32 years and renamed it Zaire. After he seized power in 1965, it transpired that his main ambition was to become the richest man in Africa. By systematically plundering the country and its natural resources, he amassed billions at the expense of his starving countrymen. According to anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International, Mobutu managed to siphon off around 5 billion dollars to Swiss bank accounts. While undergoing medical treatment abroad, Mobutu was ousted and never returned to his homeland.

Among Mobutu’s 17 surviving children, the political career of his son Francois Joseph Nzanga Mobutu Ngbangawe stands out. After making a bid to become president of DR Congo in 2006, he took a post as junior agriculture minister. While Switzerland has largely frozen Mobutu’s billion dollar assets, much of the money has proved to be untraceable. The personal fortunes of his children are thought to run in the millions. Part of the family currently resides in France.

Chile: Augusto Pinochet

Photo: Wikipedia
Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte (1925-2006) came to power in a military coup on 11 September 1973. His government became known for its repressive regime and its neoliberal economic policy, which led to both stability and socio-economic inequality. Opponents condemn Pinochet for the murders and torture that took place under his regime, while supporters believe he saved Chile from a communist dictatorship and brought the country economic progress.

In 2007 an investigation into the embezzlement of millions of dollars of public money led to his widow and five children being detained for a brief period. Two years previously, his wife Lucía Hiriart de Pinochet had already been prosecuted for tax evasion.

Indonesia: Suharto

Former General Suharto (1921-2008) came to power in 1965 after a tumultuous struggle within the army top brass. He led his country with an iron hand, but developed an economic policy benefited a large proportion of the population and which provided him with considerable popularity among the new middle class. That popularity came to an abrupt end when Indonesia was hit hard by the Asian crisis in 1997. It probably also vapourised a significant part of his accumulated fortune. After a popular uprising Suharto was forced to resign. His six children still enjoy plenty of wealth, which has been estimated at between 15 and 35 billion US dollars, and that makes the Suhartos the most corrupt regime ever. One of his sons, Tommy Suharto, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment in 2009 for corruption and his involvement in the murder of the new chairman of Golkar, his father’s former party.

Albania: Enver Hoxha

Photo: Wikipedia
Of all the communist dictatorships in Eastern Europe, the terror of the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha (1908-1985) is "beyond description". After his regime broke all ties with Moscow in 1965 due to dissatisfaction with the destalinisation process, Hoxha set an isolationist Stalinist process in motion, upon which even the hardliners in the Kremlin frowned. Six years after his death the country's regime imploded simultaneously with the economy, leading again to years of bitter poverty.

His wife Nexhmije Hoxha lived for years in luxury and extravagance. In 1994 she was sentenced to several years in prison for the crimes of the communist regime. Hoxha's widow is reportedly spending her remaining days in a small apartment with a state pension of $30 per month.

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have long thought themselves exempt from Middle East turmoil. No longer.

UN slaps sanctions on Libyan regime

Security Council unanimously orders travel and assets ban on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and his inner circle.

Aljazeera, 27 Feb 2011

The council demanded a Libya take 'steps to address the legitimate
demands of the population' [Reuters]

The UN Security Council has unanimously imposed travel bans and asset freezes on Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, members of his family and inner circle.

Saturday's resolution adopted by the 15-nation council also called for the immediate referral of the deadly crackdown against anti-government demonstrators in Libya to the International Criminal Court in The Hague for investigation and possible prosecution of anyone responsible for killing civilians.

Susan Rice, US Ambassador to UN: "This is a clear
warning to the Libyan Government" (BBC News)
The council demanded an "immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population" in Libya.

It called for Libyan authorities to act "with restraint, respect human rights and international humanitarian law," and facilitate immediate access for international human rights monitors.

The council called for an immediate lifting of restrictions "on all forms of media" and for the safety of foreign nationals to be assured and their departure facilitated.

Under the arms embargo, UN members will take immediate and necessary measures to "prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to Libya ... of arms and related material of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment".

Libya would be prohibited from importing all arms and related material and all UN members should prevent their nationals from exporting them.

The travel ban and assets will target the 68-year-old Libyan leader, his adult children, other family members and top defence and intelligence officials accused of playing a role in the bloodshed.

'Moral support'

Sixteen names are on the sanctions list.

The council said its actions were aimed at "deploring the gross and systematic violation of human rights, including the repression of peaceful demonstrators".

And members expressed concern about civilian deaths, "rejecting unequivocally the incitement to hostility and violence against the civilian population made from the highest level of the Libyan government".

The day was consumed mainly with haggling behind closed doors over language that would refer Libya's violent crackdown on protesters to the International Criminal Court, or ICC, at the Hague.

All 15 nations on the council ultimately approved referring the case to the permanent war crimes tribunal.

Council members did not consider imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, and no UN-sanctioned military action was planned.

The Libyan deputy UN envoy described the adoption of sanctions as "moral support" to those resisting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, one of the first Libyan diplomats to denounce Gaddafi and defect, said the council's move "will help put an end to this fascist regime which is still in existence in Tripoli".

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By Alex Wong, Getty Images

Oman shuffles cabinet amid protests

Sultan reshuffles cabinet and boosts student allowances as rare protest barricades shoppers in industrial city of Sohar.

Aljazeera, 26 Feb 2011

Sultan Qaboos bin Said has announced a series of social
reforms, as protesters demand democracy [GALLO/GETTY]

A raft of minor reforms have been floated "in the public's interest" by the sultan of Oman, as protesters stopped traffic and broke street lights in the country's largest industrial city.

A crowd of 500 protesters, demanding democracy and jobs, gathered on Saturday outside a shopping mall in the city of Sohar, barricading vehicles and shoppers.

"It has been going on for hours now,' said resident Mohammed Sumri.

"They are at the Globe roundabout blocking traffic."

Though protests are rare in the country on the south-eastern tip of the Arabian peninsula, the police did not intervene, witnesses said.


Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, issued a decree announcing a raise in stipends for university students - which will reportedly be boosted by between US$65 and US$234 a month - in order to "achieve further development and provide a decent living", said the state-run Oman News Agency.

A cabinet reshuffle has also seen the replacement of six ministers - though long-serving ministers were not affected.

In addition, Sultan Qaboos announced the creation of a consumer protection bureau and said he was looking into opening cooperatives in the 2.8 million-strong country - an absolute monarchy where political parties are banned.

"We want democracy," shouted crowds in Sohar. "We want the Shura council to have legislative powers. We want corrupt ministers to go - we want jobs," they chanted.


The 84-member Shura council is elected by voters across 61 districts, but works in a purely advisory capacity and has no legislative powers.

The cabinet reshuffle saw Mohammed bin Nasser al-Khasibi named commerce and industry minister, Hamoud bin Faisal al-Bousaidi as civil service minister and Madiha bint Ahmed bin Nasser as education minister.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah al-Harthy, the outgoing civil service minister, was appointed to head the environment ministry, while Maqboul bin Ali bin Sultan will be the new transport minister and Mohsen bin Mohammed al-Sheikh becomes tourism minister.

Earlier this month, the sultanate increased the minimum salaries of private sector workers by 43 per cent - to US$520 a month, as popular uprisings which toppled autocratic leaders in Tunisia and Egypt spread to Libya, Yemen and Bahrain - one of Oman's partners in the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council.

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Oman has seen demonstrations, but protesters have
emphasised their loyalty to Sultan Qaboos [Reuters]