Friday, May 30, 2014

DPR: Ukraine’s Armed Forces Using Ammunition Banned By International Conventions
Ukraine's right wing army said to be using banned weapons.
May 30, 2:14 UTC+4

“Explosive bullets are fired and all the banned ammunition are used by the other side,” DNR prime minister said.

DONETSK, May 30/ /ITAR-TASS/. Ukraine’s military is using ammunition banned by international conventions, Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) in eastern Ukraine, told reporters on Thursday.

“Explosive bullets are fired and all the banned ammunition are used by the other side,” Borodai said, adding that “mercenaries are fighting for the Ukrainian armed forces and they employ all possible dirty methods.”

DPR units are planning to recapture Donetsk’s Prokofiev international airport that is currently controlled by Ukraine’s military, Borodai said.

“At a definite moment, there will be a counter-attack if they don’t leave the territory of the Donetsk People’s Republic,” he said.

Leaders of the republic have the information that aircraft carrying new units of the Ukrainian army, the National Guard and militants of the ultranationalist Right Sector movement land at the airport almost every day.

“The enemy is concentrating large forces and although we know how many of them are in the area, I wouldn’t like to disclose the figures at the news conference,” he said.

Commanders of both sides remain on friendly terms. “They used to serve in the army, were at school together, some are still friends and quite naturally they do not want to shoot at each other,” Borodai said. “The talks are under way.”

At least 60 self-defence fighters and also 20 civilians were killed as a result of combat operations.

There are snipers in the airport area, he said.

“Civilians are dying every day and no-one can provide the exact death toll figures as the access to the airport is strictly forbidden at the moment,” Borodai said. “We are unable to carry all the bodies out of there and to say exactly how many people were killed.”

Meanwhile, Borodai refuted the reports that the curfew had been imposed in the newly formed republic.

“We’ve imposed martial law but not curfew,” he said pointing to lack of necessity for imposing curfew.

Earlier, Itar-Tass learnt at the Russian Armed Forces General Staff that about 300 Ukrainian mercenaries fighting for opposition against President Bashar Assad in Syria take part in the punitive operation of the Ukrainian military in Ukraine's southeast. The source said they joined Right Sector battalions.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

14 Soldiers Killed In Chopper Downed In East Ukraine
14 Ukrainian troops were killed in fighting on May 29, 2014.
May 29, 2014 09:39

Fourteen Ukrainian soldiers have been killed in a helicopter crash near the city of Slavyansk in the Donetsk Region, according to the acting president of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov.

Anti-government protesters in Slavyansk have downed a Ukrainian forces helicopter in the south-east of Slavyansk in the Donetsk region.

Fourteen servicemen, including a major-general, Vladimir Kulchitsky, have have been killed in a helicopter crash near Slavyansk, according to the acting president of Ukraine, Aleksandr Turchinov, who spoke at a parliamentary session in Kiev.

Kulchitsky, 51, was the head of the department of Combat and Special training in Ukraine’s National Guard.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s National Guard reported 12 dead: six servicemen, including the helicopter crew and six members of the Berkut forces.

Ukraine’s army has started shelling the eastern Ukraine cities of Slavyansk and Kramatorsk, thereby resuming its massive military operation in the East of the country, local news outlets report.

“A full-scale military operation has begun in Kramatorsk and Slavyansk. BM-21 launch vehicle “Grad” are being used,” Donbas-based Ostrov agency says.

“Intensive shooting has been heard in the region, and thick black smoke seen,” he added.

One more damaged house in Slavyansk. The residents were outside during the attack.

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass has reported that fighter jets have been flying over the city of Kramatorsk in the Donetsk Region. “The hospitals were told to evacuate patients from the upper floors,” said a representative from the self-defense forces.

On Wednesday a school and a kindergarten were shelled in Slavyansk. In the kindergarten at least 9 civilians were injured, including a 4-year old boy.

A teacher from the targeted school said that the shell exploded right above the school hall, where children are usually gathered for festive events, and part of the roof “was simply blown away.” Luckily, no children were in the hall at the time. All the pupils and teachers were quickly evacuated to the basement.
Libya Rebels Apologize For Detaining UN Officer On Suspicion Of Black Magic
Gaddafi brothers are being illegally detained in Occupied Libya.

Ahmed Ghanem was arrested by Tripoli prison guards during the trial of two sons of Muammar Gaddafi earlier this month

Chris Stephen, Thursday 29 May 2014 07.50 EDT

The United Nations says Libya has apologised for the detention of one of its officers on suspicion of "black magic".

Guards at a Tripoli prison arrested Ahmed Ghanem, an official observing the trial of two sons of Muammar Gaddafi, earlier this month, saying they suspected him of having written materials containing spells or enchantments.

The UN stability mission in Libya (Unsmil) said it has had an apology and assurances from the government that it respects an agreement giving UN staff immunity from arrest.

"Unsmil was dismayed by the detention of Mr Ghanem for an hour and a half as well as what followed in terms of defamation and false accusations through some social media pages," said a UN statement. "The mission affirms that it scrupulously respects the Libyan authorities' legal, security and administrative procedures when its representatives attend trials."

The official was arrested at the trial of Saif al-Islam and Saadi Gaddafi, who are accused along with more than 30 former loyalist officials of war crimes. He was later released after guards decided their suspicions were unfounded. The UN said it has had messages of support from diplomats and members of Libya's judiciary.

"The mission described the accusation of sorcery not only as groundless, but also as ridiculous," said a UN spokesman.

On Tuesday, the international criminal court denied occupied Libya's appeal for the right to try Saif, saying Tripoli lacked conditions to ensure a fair trial, and ordered the government to send him to The Hague.
Libya Rebels Continue To Battle For Control Of Puppet Regime
Libya oil production facilities now under threat from imperialism.
Associated PressMay 28, 2014

TRIPOLI, LIBYA — Libya's interim prime minister challenged the appointment of his Islamist-backed potential successor Wednesday, setting the stage for an intense power struggle as airstrikes targeted a militia camp in the country's east.

Libya remains largely in chaos following the 2011 civil war, as the rebels who ousted dictator Moammar Gadhafi later formed the militias now holding the country hostage. Interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni's challenge of the contested vote earlier this month that appointed businessman Ahmed Maiteg only will add to that.

On May 4, the Islamist-dominated parliament appointed Maiteg as al-Thinni's successor in a disputed vote amid a walkout by secular lawmakers.

"If we want to establish the state of law, we have to resort to law," al-Thinni said. "The country is on the brink of a grave phase. We don't want division."

He also said that the people will have "final word" because it's the source of legitimacy.

Meanwhile Wednesday, two airstrikes hit the February 17 militia compound in the eastern city of Benghazi, sending a column of black smoke into the air, witnesses and a security official said. Panicked residents fled as the militia responded with anti-aircraft fire, the official said.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.

Though launched by government aircraft, the attack is part of renegade Gen. Khalifa Hifter's ongoing offensive, aimed at crushing Islamist militias and their alleged backers in parliament. Eastern air bases have pledged their support to Hifter, who launched the offensive May 16 in Benghazi.

Two days later, militias allied with Hifter stormed and ransacked the Libyan parliament in Tripoli, declaring the body suspended. Politicians, tribes and army units have lined up with Hifter since, as thousands also have demonstrated to support him.

February 17, founded by Islamist Fawzi Abu Katef and targeted in Hifter's May 16 attack, is one of the biggest and most powerful militias in Benghazi.

The strikes come a day after an al-Qaida-inspired group called Ansar al-Shariah vowed to battle Hifter's forces and open the "doors of hell" if he continued his offensive. The group also warned the United States and Arab countries like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates against supporting Hifter.

Ansar al-Shariah has been linked to the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.

The State Department has recommended that Americans leave Libya immediately and warned U.S. citizens against any travel to the North African country. Meanwhile, USS Bataan has moved into the Mediterranean Sea and could be used, if needed, for any possible evacuation of American personnel from Libya, defense officials say.

Libya's army and police rely heavily on the country's myriad of militias, the heavily armed groups formed around ethnic identity, hometowns and religion. Bringing them under control has been one of the greatest challenges for Libya's successive interim governments after Gadhafi's downfall, one they largely failed at as militias have seized oil terminals and even kidnapped a former prime minister seemingly at will.

Read more here:
CIA-Trained Rebel Battles Militias For Control In Libya
Damage from rebels who shot up a facility in Tripoli.
MAY 28, 2014
New York Times

BENGHAZI, Libya — The road to the general’s base is filled with soldiers who salute, wear matching uniforms and drive glinting new Toyotas, in a display of martial discipline and power rare for this country.

But the soldiers’ security, for the moment, remains in doubt. The base is hidden behind a new metal gate, as wide as two roads and 25 feet tall, a hulking symbol of the threats that have gathered around the general, Khalifa Hifter, since he declared war on the country’s Islamist militia leaders and lawmakers nearly two weeks ago.

General Hifter has cast himself in the role of strongman and national protector, the man who will “correct” Libya’s faltering revolution and purge the country of extremists. But he is a polarizing figure, as notorious for his ambition as for his shifting allegiances, and many people here wonder whether he will amount to more than a warlord, advancing his own narrow interests.

He has gathered a corps of soldiers, air force units and militiamen that he has declared to be the Libyan national army, and has used it to mount assaults on the bases of powerful Islamist militias in the east, including several airstrikes on Wednesday. Libya’s multitude of militias have been a major focus of public anger, not least for repeatedly refusing to disarm.

And General Hifter has won unexpected support for his campaign from a wide variety of political, tribal and militia leaders, forging alliances that have upended Libya’s fragile balance of power.

Thousands of Libyans, weary of the political violence that stalks their cities, have held demonstrations endorsing the goals of General Hifter’s campaign, which he has named Operation Dignity. But there are also fears about what General Hifter may have unleashed, in a country whose neighbors increasingly view it as a font of extremism and regional instability.

The fighting in the last two weeks has been some of the fiercest Libya has seen since Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was overthrown in 2011. At least 70 people were killed in the days after General Hifter’s assault on the militias. This week, gunmen assassinated one of Libya’s most prominent newspaper editors in Benghazi, while in Tripoli, the government said assailants attempted to kill the prime minister.

The country’s foreign allies have rushed to appoint envoys to try to defuse the crisis. The United States has warned American citizens to leave the country immediately, and has sent an amphibious assault ship with 1,000 Marines to the region.

“I wish the blood had stopped after the death of Qaddafi,” said Adel el-Hassi, a former militia leader in Benghazi who now supports General Hifter. “Sadly, the blood will start now,” he said.

The airstrikes General Hifter ordered on Wednesday were aimed at one of Benghazi’s most prominent militias — in retaliation, a spokesman said, for the killing of the newspaper editor, Muftah Buzaid.

“Every militia is responsible for the murders, and we will attack them until they surrender,” said General Hifter’s deputy, Staff Brigadier Sager al-Goroushi.

General Hifter, 71, was one of the Libyan army officers who supported the 1969 coup against the monarchy that brought Colonel Qaddafi to power. He led Libyan forces during the country’s failed war in Chad in the 1980s and was seized as a prisoner of war. After his release, he joined the anti-Qaddafi opposition, and was reportedly trained by American intelligence officials in a failed effort to topple Colonel Qaddafi.

He then settled in Northern Virginia, and returned to Libya to participate in the 2011 revolt against Colonel Qaddafi, his former ally. He fought alongside the rebel forces — including many of the militia leaders he is now attacking — and is remembered for his repeated, unsuccessful attempts to claim leadership of the whole rebel army.

In a telephone interview on Wednesday, General Hifter said that he had no political ambitions beyond his current campaign, which he asserted was a part of a global fight against terrorism. He has denied receiving any backing from foreign countries, as his opponents frequently say he has, but he said he would welcome foreign weapons and financial aid if he could get them.

“We are now fighting not only on behalf of Libya,” he said, “but on behalf of the whole world.”

General Hifter’s military campaign has won him some concessions in Tripoli, the capital, including a pledge to hold new parliamentary elections in June. But other demands, including the formation of an emergency government supervised by Libya’s supreme court, have so far been ignored.

General Hifter’s campaign has stoked new divisions among rival militias in western Libya, but not, so far, the kind of sustained fighting seen in the east.

For the moment, the front lines are in Benghazi. General Hifter’s troops operate from several bases, including one outside the city, while the militias have generally retreated to the farmland on the outskirts of town. Fighting flares nightly around the city’s edge, with heavy weapons deployed in some areas emptied of residents.

“They have declared war on each other,” Anas Toweir, a radiologist from Benghazi, said of General Hifter and the local militias. “No one is quite sure what’s going on. Everyone is hiding in their homes.”

General Hifter’s allies in the east are said to include former Qaddafi army soldiers, fighters from towns east of Benghazi and federalists demanding more autonomy for the region. His opponents, including hard-core jihadist groups and mainstream Islamist brigades, grew out of the 2011 uprising and remain a powerful political bloc, referring to themselves as Libya’s “revolutionaries.”

The militia leaders have reacted with defiance to General Hifter’s campaign, accusing him of fomenting a “coup” and vowing fierce resistance.

“He who has lost his dignity in Chad is not going to regain it in Benghazi,” said Ismail Sallabi, who comes from a family of prominent Islamists. “We see Hifter exactly as we saw Qaddafi.”

Still, after repeated attacks by General Hifter, the Islamist militiamen seem to have lost their swagger lately, wearing balaclavas behind their checkpoints and rifling through the cars of passing motorists, sensing treachery everywhere.

They are reeling, too, from a chorus of public disapproval. Many Libyans say they have put aside their misgivings about General Hifter for the moment to deal with the more dangerous scourge of the militias, which they blame for assassinations, kidnappings and other violence meant to settle old scores.

Hundreds of people attended a demonstration in support of General Hifter last Friday, some of them holding pictures of relatives whom they said were killed by groups like Ansar al-Shariah, a radical militia that took part in the attack that killed the American ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, in Benghazi in 2012.

“We don’t want to hear the word ‘revolutionary’ anymore,” said one man, a doctor who refused to give his name. “We want the police and the army. How hard is it to get that message across?'”

The United States has sent confusing signals about the standoff. The State Department has said it does not condone General Hifter’s offensive, and has warned against the use of violence. At the same time, the United States ambassador in Libya, Deborah Jones, said recently in Washington that she could not “condemn” General Hifter’s actions, partly because he was pursuing extremist groups that Washington considers terrorist organizations.

Mr. Hassi, the former Benghazi militia leader, said he did not think much of General Hifter. “If there was safety and security in the country, we would not have needed him,” Mr. Hassi said. “But he was the only person who could unify the army. That’s why I support him.”

“The battle will take a long time, and will not just be in Benghazi,” he added. “It will be in all of Libya.”

Osama al-Fitori reported from Benghazi, and Kareem Fahim from Cairo. Suliman Ali Zway and Nizar Sarieldin contributed reporting from Tripoli, Libya.
South Sudanese Rebel Leader Meets Kenyan President In Nairobi
South Sudan opposition leader Riek Machar.
May 28, 2014 (NAIROBI) – The top leader of the opposition armed faction of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM-In-Opposition), Riek Machar, on Wednesday met with the Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Nairobi.

In a press statement extended to Sudan Tribune, Machar’s spokesperson, James Gatdet Dak, said the two leaders held a long closed door meeting in which they discussed a wide-range of issues pertaining to the peace process between the SPLM/A (in opposition) and South Sudan’s government.

“Our chairman, Dr Riek Machar, has on Wednesday met with the president of the Republic of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, at the State House. The long meeting was cordial and examined the mechanisms in the ongoing IGAD-mediated peace process between our movement and the Juba regime,” Dak said.

The former vice-president, turned rebel leader, flied to Nairobi on Tuesday from the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, on the invitation of the Kenyan leadership.

Dak added that Machar also met with other senior officials of the Kenyan government.

The rebel leader’s next diplomatic tour is expected to be the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, for a meeting with president Omer Hassan al-Bashir and discuss the peace process in order to end the war in South Sudan.

He is also expected to visit a number of other regional countries which the rebel group has not yet disclosed.

The rebel leader’s spokesperson earlier ruled out a possibility of Machar’s visit to Uganda, saying “Kampala and Juba are partners in war crime against a section of the society in South Sudan.”

The opposition group has been demanding the withdrawal of the Ugandan troops from South Sudan, accusing them of interfering in the internal affairs.

Uganda however said it entered the country in response to invitation by president Salva Kiir in order to help maintain stability and protect vital installations in the new country.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah: Poster Child of a Egypt Revolution on Hold
Egyptian blogger may be imprisoned again.

Amira Howeidy, Saturday 24 May 2014
Ahram Online

Disenchanted with the failures of the revolutionary forces, prominent activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah is readying himself to go back to prison amid a widening clampdown on dissent

There's something disconcerting about reading Alaa Abdel-Fattah's steady flow of daily tweets. They are gasping for life outside the prison walls where he languished for 115 days until March. During the past two months, following his release on bail, Abdel-Fattah, who emerged as one of the most prominent faces of Egypt’s 2011 uprising, has lived each day with the certainty of an inevitable return to prison.

The surprise arrest of Mahinour El-Masri, a prominent activist in the coastal city of Alexandria, last week followed by the sudden summoning of Abdel-Fattah himself a day later to appear in court tomorrow -May 25- only confirmed his fears. He’s not excluding the possibility of his arrest in court.

“Since my release from jail, I’ve been trying hard to be a normal human being, to work and raise my son,” Abdel-Fattah wrote on his Facebook page Tuesday where he has close to 140,000 followers in addition to 600,000 on Twitter. “But every day, by midday I pause and ask myself how am I supposed to be normal in these conditions? How can I work when I don’t know if I’m going back to prison after weeks, months or years?”

Such is the frustrating life and ordeal of the 32-year-old software developer, political activist and outspoken critic of Egypt’s past three consecutive regimes. And, since the removal of president Mohamed Morsi last July, an incessant target of the new military-backed regime.

On 28 November 2013, an armed security contingent broke through the door of Abdel-Fattah’s Cairo flat to arrest him, just a day after he and other activists were summoned by the prosecutor general for questioning for their role in inciting protests — a violation of a new law issued by the interim government that same month.

Because of a legal loophole, Abdel-Fattah languished in Tora Prison on the outskirts of south Cairo for four months without being tried. By the time he was finally referred to trial, it was to a new special chamber created to deal with terrorist offences. He was released on bail and the court adjourned the case to 6 April when Abdel-Fattah’s lawyers presented a recusal request. The Cairo Appeal Court rejected the motion 17 May and a few days later the Cairo Criminal Court decided to resume the on Sunday, 25 May — just one day before the presidential elections that ex-Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is likely to win. Twenty-four defendants will stand trial with him tomorrow.

Although he had seen this coming, the speed by which his case is proceeding and its political context left Abdel-Fattah clearly perturbed. “I better buy the blue jump suit (prison uniform) then because it seems they’re planning to jail all of us before the elections,” he wrote on Twitter the day he received the court’s notification.

A series of desolate tweets and Facebook posts followed. “Since our dream to live life as life proved to be rather ambitious, can we struggle the way struggle should be done?” he asked. “Can we really resist or is it our destiny for everything to be messed up?”

It’s a question that many young revolutionaries are grappling with almost three years since the overthrow of autocrat Hosni Mubarak in a popular youth-driven revolution that promised everything.

“There’s a prevailing sentiment among this age group that we’re in a disaster,” says veteran left-leaning journalist Mona Anis, “and they have the honesty to admit this reality in order to change it when so many people are falsifying it.”

“The future that seemed to be brightening up [during the uprising] has been rendered very dim and very bleak.”

The controversial law regulating protests penalises unauthorised demonstrations with up to seven years in prison. Critics of the regulation say because of its pervasive use that it’s a tool to silence dissent. The speed and frequency by which hundreds of activists and students have been tried and sentenced in accordance with the law has sent a chilling message across revolutionary circles: protesting could cost you years of jail time.

At least three prominent activists from the 2011 uprising are serving three-year prison sentences for organising an unauthorised protest. The authorities have come under fire from human rights groups for “wide scale repression” in the words of Amnesty International, and “extra-judicial killings” of Islamists and mass arrests according to Human Rights Watch. Critics also accuse the government of linking its clampdown on public dissent with its war on terrorism and the insurgency in Sinai.

Abdel-Fattah believes that when he was referred to a court dealing with terrorism offences, without much of an uproar, “[the authorities] decided they have an opportunity for the first time in history to hand us prison sentences and to quash us. Even Mubarak didn’t go that far.”

Abdel-Fattah was detained in 2006 under Mubarak then in 2011 following his ouster, under the then de facto military rule that succeeded him. He was questioned by the public prosecutor during Morsi’s one year in power but wasn’t detained, though he was put on a travel ban that hasn’t been revoked. He can’t remember the total number of times he was arrested or summoned for questioning.

“Each regime thinks I’m a leader, that I’m central and important,” he says, holding his glass of fresh guava juice in a café he “dislikes” in Downtown Cairo’s Mohamed Mahmoud Street — the site of a bloody battle between protestors and security forces in 2011. Although he doesn’t move masses, nor does he claim to have a constituency, Abdel-Fattah is an inspiration for many youth, despite — or because of — his often maverick views. He never joined a political party and maintains his independence. In his yellow English-Arabic "Meedan" t-shirt and long black curls, he fits the image of the secular anti-state anarchist his pro-military critics like to project of him.

In fact his mix of fiery, defiant and humerous tweets are often the subject of lengthy comment and attacks in the top daily TV talk shows and in one occasion the military spokesman issued a statement denying what was practically a joke Abdel-Fattah made on his timeline.

Politically active since his early 20s and one of Egypt's first advocates of open-source software, Abdel-Fattah represented a new and rising breed of young tech-savvy political activists who fueled the dissent movement against Mubarak almost a decade ago. The blog he maintains with his wife, Manal, also served as a news aggregator and was one of the primary sources for information that never found its way into the mainstream media. It was the peak of Egypt’s famed vibrant blogosphere in 2005 and Abdel-Fattah — a savvy computer geek since his early childhood years — who was already one of its stars, ridiculed the attention he was getting as mere “fetishism” with Egyptian bloggers when the more important work was happening on the ground, not in cyberspace.

A year later he was detained for 45 days with dozens of activists for participating in a peaceful protest in solidarity with a group of judges demanding the independence of the judiciary. The judge presiding over his case tomorrow was accused of electoral fraud in a complaint submitted to the minister of justice in 2013 by two lawyers, including National Council For Human Rights member Ragia Omran.

Abdel-Fattah’s bitterness at those who were “once” his comrades, intellectuals and opposition figures in general comes second only to his loathing of the “repressive” system. The revolutionary stream “was too sluggish in understanding the magnitude of the threats [facing them] and reluctant in taking the decision to resist it. That’s what hurts the most.”

He says that the past two months since his release were an opportunity to make noise and cow the authorities into suspending this and other cases, “but the comrades didn’t [seize it] and assumed things will clear up on their own.”

Lately Abdel-Fattah has been discussing arrangements regarding the possibility of his arrest tomorrow or later with his family of activists. He says his two-and-a-half-year-old son, Khaled, lost his speech because of post-traumatic stress conveyed to him by the extreme state of depression that befell Abdel-Fattah and his wife last year as they saw the return of military rule coming, three months before Morsi’s overthrow on 3 July 2013.

“Everybody except Morsi and the Brotherhood could see what was coming as early as January 2013, but they were blind, too busy being petty and filing complaints against me,” he says.

There was an overt call by the people to summon the military to take over, which is what he believes 30 June was about. And yet he “reluctantly” participated in the massive protests against Morsi that day, but as part of “what we jokingly called the infantile left’s demonstrations against both the military and the Brotherhood,” which didn’t work and was swallowed by the sea of police and military cheering protestors.

Their attempt, he says, was futile, but not a mistake. “It’s naïve to think that a single act in one day led to where we are now. It was a path and an overall mentality by the Brotherhood that made us walk that road. There’s also a view shared by a sector of secularists that clearly wants the military to be in charge.”

But this wasn’t inevitable, he says. Secular forces could have done something, but “they were unwilling and decided that there’s no difference between the Brotherhood and the military, so why step in?” Abdel-Fattah says that attempts to form two revolutionary blocs to counter the polarisation as early as January 2012 were deliberately sabotaged by some Nasserists.

Today, Abdel-Fattah thinks the only role revolutionaries can play at this volatile juncture is, ironically, to “seek stability” and act as the “breaks” to the “obsession by society’s conservative forces to wipe out the other and aggravate infighting.”

This is hardly the life he imagined for himself and his wife when they moved to South Africa to live with a “victorious” nation six years ago. After three years of living there he came to appreciate the achievements that were made after the initial disappointment at the goals that were never met in the post-apartheid country. “I knew then that revolutions don’t triumph but they make an important difference.”

He returned to Cairo a week into the January uprising with cautious expectations. “I knew that the ceiling of our revolution wasn’t high, that there was going to be compromises, but that didn’t mean I compromised the dreams in my head,” he says.

That was then. Now Abdel-Fattah is dominated by prison thoughts. “Muslim Brotherhood [prisoners] write ‘You are the group even if you are alone’ on the prison cell’s wall. This time around I’ll write: ‘You are alone even if you are part of a group.'”
Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi Is Egypt's New President
Egyptian coup leader to be installed as president.
Ahram Online, Thursday 29 May 2014

Although results will be confirmed next week, it is certain that ex-army chief has defeated rival Hamdeen Sabahi

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is Egypt's new president after securing a landslide victory of over 96 percent of the popular vote, with over 23 million voters casting their ballots for him, according to an unofficial vote count as of early Thursday.

El-Sisi's only contender, leftist Hamdeen Sabahi, garnered a humble 3.5 percent, with less than 800 000 votes.

A surprise in the 2014 presidential race was the number of invalidated votes – exceeding 1 million – which prompted Egyptians to joke on social media that Sabahi and the spoilt ballots were competing for second place in the election.

Although the results are announced by the judges supervising polling centres across the country, they are still considered unofficial as they must be verified and then announced by the Presidential Elections Commission (PEC), the judicial body overseeing the poll.

Judge Tarek Shebl, a member of the PEC's general secretariat, told Al-Ahram's Arabic news website early on Thursday that the official results will be announced either Sunday or Monday, 1 or 2 June.

El-Sisi's victory had long been predicted.

Polling centres began counting votes on Wednesday, the third and final electoral day, at 9pm CLT (6pm GMT). As the results began to come in, Egyptians took to the streets and stayed until the early hours of Thursday morning to celebrate, waving El-Sisi's campaign posters and bringing traffic to a standstill.

A spokesman for El-Sisi’s campaign was alreadyspeaking like a winner after midnight on Thursday, thanking the "Egyptian people for putting their trust in Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi".

Speaking to satellite Channel MBC Masr, spokesman Abdallah El-Moghazy said El-Sisi’s campaign didn't need the additional day of voting, citing the ex-army chief’s sweeping victory.

On Tuesday, the PEC added a third day of voting on Wednesday, which many said was driven by fears of low turnout. The decision brought formal complaints from both candidates – which in turn were rejected by the PEC.

However, El-Moghazy said that the media scared people by saying that voter participation was less than ideal, which he claimed was not true.

El-Moghazy said Egyptians went to polling centres for only one “motive”: the love of Egypt and their beliefs in El-Sisi – unlike the temptations offered in the era of Hosni Mubarak, when bread, oil and grains were offered to get people to vote, he said.

The presidential election was the second since the 25 January 2011 revolution that led to the ouster of autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

In 2012, the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi won in a runoff with 51 percent, just over 13 million votes.

This was the first foreign-monitored election in Egypt's history. The European Union had 150 monitors across Egypt, which the EU said maintained their impartiality, neither legitimising the Egyptian electoral process nor validating the election results.

On Thursday, the EU delegation will hold a press conference to reveal its primary findings.

Also present to monitor the election were the African Union, Arab League and Arab Parliament, as well as a number of NGOs.

The election took place in a generally peaceful atmosphere amidst months of a surge in terrorism since the Morsi's ouster last July.

An improvised explosive device exploded on Monday, the first day of voting, but led to no injuries. Some minor clashes also occurred on Monday between police and Morsi supporters in Cairo, Alexandria and Minya governorates, but were dispersed rapidly by security forces.

On Tuesday, the second day, another improvised explosive device went off in Cairo's Heliopolis, leaving one citizen with minor injuries.

Late on Wednesday, Judge Mohamed Khairy was transported to a hospital after he was shot while on his way to a central polling centre in Qalioubiya's Benha to hand in votes, head of Sky News Arabia Samir Omar reported.
Snowden: 'No Relationship' With Russian Government
A demonstration in Hong Kong in defense of Edward Snowden.
12:22am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told a U.S. television interviewer on Wednesday he was not under the control of Russia's government and had given Moscow no intelligence documents after nearly a year of asylum there.

"I have no relationship with the Russian government at all," Snowden said in an interview with NBC News, his first with a U.S. television network. "I'm not supported by the Russian government. I'm not taking money from the Russian government. I'm not a spy."

The remarks by Snowden, whose leaks about highly classified U.S. surveillance programs shook the NSA and prompted limited reforms by President Barack Obama, were his most extensive to date on his relations with his host government.

Current and former U.S. intelligence officials have said it is unlikely Russian security services have not squeezed Snowden for secrets.

"I think he is now being manipulated by Russian intelligence," former NSA director Keith Alexander said last month.

But Snowden - who said he wants to return to the United States - said he destroyed classified materials before transiting to a Moscow airport, where he was prevented from onward travel.

"I took nothing to Russia, so I could give them nothing," he told NBC's Brian Williams in the hour-long interview.

Later in the interview, Snowden briefly criticized the crackdown on freedom of expression under Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Casting himself as a defender of privacy and civil liberties, he deemed it "frustrating" to "end up stuck in a place where those rights are being challenged in ways that I would consider deeply unfair."

Snowden, who fled to Hong Kong and then Moscow last year, is believed to have accessed about 1.5 million secret documents, U.S. officials have said, although how many he actually took is unclear. The leaked documents revealed massive programs run by the NSA that gathered information on emails, phone calls and Internet use including, in many cases, by Americans.

He was charged last year in the United States with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified intelligence to an unauthorized person.

"If I could go anywhere in the world, that place would be home," Snowden said.

U.S. officials said he was welcome to return to the United States if he wanted to face justice for leaking details of massive U.S. intelligence-gathering programs.

Secretary of State John Kerry invited Snowden to "man up and come back to the United States."

"The bottom line is this is a man who has betrayed his country, who is sitting in Russia, an authoritarian country where he has taken refuge," Kerry told the CBS "This Morning" program on Wednesday.

Snowden made clear he would not return to the United States and hope for the best. He said he would not simply "walk into a jail cell," and that if his one-year asylum in Russia, which expires on Aug. 1, "looks like it’s going to run out, then of course I would apply for an extension."

The Guardian newspaper quoted Ben Wizner, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union and legal adviser to Snowden, responding to Kerry's comments. Wizner said it would be impossible for Snowden to argue that his disclosures had served the common good if he returned home to face the current Espionage Act charges.

He also said Snowden would run the risk of facing numerous additional charges for each document that has been published.

"The exposure that he faces is virtually unlimited under this," Wizner said.

In one odd moment in the NBC interview, Snowden expressed sympathy for working-level NSA employees who have been castigated as a result of his leaks.

"People have demonized the NSA to a point that's too extreme," he said, adding that the problem is with senior-level officials who expand their surveillance powers without public debate.

(Reporting by Peter Cooney and Warren Strobel; Editing by Ken Wills and Simon Cameron-Moore)

U.S. Dispatches 1,000 Marines to Libya’s Coast As Fighting Escalates
United States military personnel in Libya during 2013.
By Nancy A. Youssef
McClatchy Washington Bureau

The U.S. military has ordered the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan, with 1,000 Marines on board, to move toward the Libyan coast, the Pentagon confirmed Wednesday, a day after American officials urged citizens to leave the restive country immediately.

As fighting escalated Wednesday between Islamic extremists and rogue nationalist former Gen. Khalifa Hifter and his forces, the move suggested that the United States was preparing for a possible evacuation of U.S. personnel at the embassy in Tripoli or citizens living in Libya. On Tuesday, the State Department warned Americans not to travel to Libya and said that those already there should leave.

“Because of the presumption that foreigners, especially U.S. citizens, in Libya may be associated with the U.S. government or U.S. NGOs, travelers should be aware that they may be targeted for kidnapping, violent attacks or death,” the warning said, referring to nongovernmental organizations. “U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately.”

That warning came as the leader of Ansar al Shariah, the militant group suspected in the 2012 attack in Benghazi that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens along with three other Americans, warned that if the United States got involved in the brewing civil war, it would face a fight “much worse” than Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We remind America, if they intervene, of their defeats in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia, because they would face in Libya something much worse,” Mohamed Zahawi, the head of Ansar al Shariah’s Benghazi brigade, said in a statement Tuesday.

The State Department has said there are no planned evacuations of the embassy, which already is operating with a minimal staff. In announcing that 1,000 Marines from the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., would be positioned off the Libyan coast, Pentagon officials stressed that they were there not for a specific mission but “to address unrest in the region.” U.S. officials said the Bataan would reach the north African coast within days but they didn’t offer any specifics.

Earlier this month, the U.S. military moved 200 Marines to Sicily in case of an evacuation, U.S. officials told McClatchy.

For the past two weeks, Hifter, who was a general in the army of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, has been leading a military campaign against Ansar al Shariah and other Islamist militias in eastern Libya. The offensive began without government approval, but Hifter, who lived in northern Virginia for 24 years after defecting from the Libyan army, has been able to count on major Libyan military units, including the air force and the country’s special operations commandos.

Hifter has said he’s carrying out the wishes of a population exhausted from months of violence and assassinations perpetrated by the Islamists.

The United States said last week that it wasn’t assisting Hifter and didn’t condone his actions, but it also hasn’t denounced them. The Libyan government declared a no-fly zone over Benghazi and said it had ordered its forces not to support Hifter’s efforts.

On Wednesday, two warplanes apparently loyal to Hifter attacked bases in Benghazi belonging to Ansar al Shariah and the 17th of February militia, the group that was guarding the U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi the night the Americans died. There were no immediate reports of deaths or injuries in the air attack.

Hifter’s offensive has spurred militiamen, military commanders and rogue fighters alike to pick sides in what could be a nationwide battle every bit as violent as the one that ended in Gadhafi’s death in 2011. On one side are the Islamists, who want to maintain their hold over Libya. On the other are Hifter’s allies, who want a new political order and a return to stability, even if it means an end to the gridlocked elected government.

Libya’s collapse has been particularly embarrassing for the Obama administration, which three years ago held up its support for a NATO-led air campaign and the subsequent fall of Gadhafi as an example of successful limited intervention. These days, the democratically elected government controls little around it, and many Libyans said they welcomed Hifter’s efforts, however unilateral, if they’d restore order and weaken the Islamists’ hold on the country.

Read more here:
Americans Advised to Leave Libya Amid Turmoil
Violence is a daily event in occupied Libya.
Sarah Lynch
Special for USA TODAY
May 27, 2014

CAIRO — On an evening in mid-March, U.S. Navy SEALs plied through Mediterranean waters on an inflatable boat and boarded a hijacked tanker. By the end of the two-hour operation, the commandos had stopped anti-government Libyan rebels from stealing the ship's oil.

In the three years since the uprising that overthrew long-time dictator Moammar Gadhafi, Libya's central government has failed to secure its oil ports, pipelines and fields, disrupting its primary revenue source. The battle for oil wealth in the increasingly lawless land reflects the turmoil that wracks the country in these post-revolutionary times.

In fact, the State Department recommended Tuesday that Americans leave Libya immediately, saying the security situation in Libya "remains unpredictable and unstable" with crime levels high in many parts of the country.

"U.S. citizens currently in Libya should exercise extreme caution and depart immediately," the department said in a statement.

"The problem that Libya is going through right now is a war for power," said Rawad Radwan, a Libyan blogger who lives in the capital, Tripoli. "Everyone wants to gain power, and they all believe that whoever controls oil will rule the country."

Earlier this month, renegade Libyan general Khalifa Hifter launched a bloody military offensive in the east to crush Islamist extremists. On May 18, the general's allied militias attacked parliament in the capital to try to unsuccessfully force the legislature to disband.

Over the weekend, the embattled parliament approved an Islamist-backed government led by Prime Minister Ahmed Maiteeq despite boycotts from non-Islamists and Hifter's complaints that the parliament is illegitimate.

Also, over the weekend, thousands of demonstrators gathered in cities across Libya to show support for Hifter, who later claimed the protests gave him a mandate to fight terrorism.

Broader conflict now looms as militias once united to overthrow Gadhafi are rallying behind opposing political sides. On May 20, Libya's election commission set June 25 for a parliamentary election in hopes of dampening the unrest through a vote that would give lawmakers clear legitimacy.

"Liberal forces in Libya are convinced that the reason for Libya's woes today is this current parliament," said Claudia Gazzini, a senior Libya analyst at the International Crisis Group. "And they're confident that new elected parliament would show that Libya's public is more liberal-leaning than Islamist-leaning."

Upheaval in the North African nation dates to the 2011 uprising against Gadhafi, who imposed one-man rule for 42 years. When he was killed following months of civil war, the nation lacked institutions or cohesive opposition groups to oversee a democratic transition.

"What you had in Libya was many different parties that rallied to overthrow Gadhafi, but once he was overthrown, these different factions, different regional power centers turned on each other," said Libya expert Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C. "They're now competing for the spoils of the revolution."

Much of the tension stems from a backlash against Islamists and frustration with the weak legislature, which is comprised of a slim Islamist majority and accused of doing too little to rein in extremist militias, who gun down soldiers and policemen almost daily.

Rebels are blockading oil in the east to pressure central authorities to fulfill rebel demands that include distributing oil revenues across the country's three regions, said Osama Buera, a leader of a rebel movement that seeks autonomy for Libya's eastern region. But after the failed attempt in March, he said, the rebels there are no longer trying to sell the oil.

Effective police and army forces are non-existent, leaving authorities little means of asserting control. The government has instead paid militias to ensure security.

"To be fair, right after the war, there was no other option," Radwan, the blogger, said. "But we just wasted three years for nothing. We heard a lot about engaging them in the army, engaging them in the police. But that did not happen."

Now the militias – some with al-Qaeda-inspired views – are prime sources of violence. And they're proving increasingly powerful with the help of weapons seized from Gadhafi's arsenals during the uprising against him.

"Anyone with a group of militia fighters, with a bunch of guns, can essentially push through any legislation they want," said Sumedha Senanayake, a Middle East and North Africa analyst at iJET International, a private intelligence firm. "At this point, democracy is pretty much a fallacy in the country."

"The instability of it all is what people are so sick and tired of," said Assia Amry, 25, a Libyan American living in Tripoli. "People feel like everyday life is hostage to these gang wars and these militia wars.

"They're just trying to live. They're trying to get their bread. They're trying to go to school. They're trying to go to a café. They just want to be normal," she added.

To solve its worsening problems, Libya needs political reconciliation and better security to safeguard its oil, analyst Wehrey said. "The Libyans own their revolution and they own the aftermath, and we have to give them a chance to sort this out."

Contributing: The Associated Press

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

51st Anniversary: The African Union and the Illusive Promise of Unity
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.
All across the continent and the Diaspora imperialism tightens its grip on the people

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

May 25, 2014 marked the 51st anniversary of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU), which was initiated through the Sirte Declaration of 1999 and formally established in 2002. Last year was the focus of the Jubilee Celebrations for the AU where there was much reflection on the historical developments on the continent since the 1960s.

A projection of 50-years forward was encompassed in the plan for 2063 through a document that was accepted by the 54-member organization which is based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The initial focus of the OAU was to facilitate the independence struggle throughout Africa where in 1963 over 30 countries were already members of the United Nations.

Nonetheless, just in the last twelve months there have been enormous challenges and setbacks for the cause of African unity, sovereignty and economic self-reliance. Within the political context of worsening internal disunity and social turmoil, the actual role of the AU appears almost negligible within the broader international division of power and global decision-making.

At a recently-held Africa-European Union (EU) Summit in Brussels, Belgium, the political will of the AU was totally disregarded. The Peace and Security Council (PSC) established guidelines for participation in the gathering which were disrespected by the EU making a mockery of any semblance of authority and sovereignty for this continental organization.

What was revealing about the entire scenario was that despite the EU actions that sidestepped the PSC, some 36 African heads-of-state still participated in the summit. Although several leading African states declined to send their presidents and prime ministers, in addition to those that were not invited such as the Republic of Sudan and Eritrea,  the event went on and issued a series of declarations including a plan to deploy EU troops to the former French colony of the Central African Republic (CAR).

What was reinforced in the whole situation was that the EU still supplies a considerable amount of aid and investment in Africa. Consequently, most of these governments, including the AU itself, could not afford to boycott a summons issued by Europe.

These events are a manifestation of the ongoing instability in several geo-political regions throughout the continent. The fact that the AU has not been able to effectively address these problems and crises is a key component of why Africa is not respected within the world corridors of power that remain largely in the hands of the imperialist states in Western Europe and North America.

From Nigeria and Malawi to the CAR and South Sudan

The abduction of over 270 high school girls from the village in Chibok, Borno State is a manifestation of the five-year armed campaign by the Boko Haram sect against the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Many Nigerians have stated openly that the Boko Haram conflict stems from the regional divisions imposed on the country a century after its colonial creation in 1914.

At a national event held in Nigeria to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the British colonial project, French President Francois Hollande attended and pledged support to the oil-rich state, Africa’s most populous, in dealing with its internal security crisis. Later in the year during May, Paris hosted an international conference on the ongoing failure of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan to resolve the Boko Haram problem.

Meanwhile, civilians are dying in the hundreds every week in Nigeria. Boko Haram has bombed areas in the heart of the political capital of Abuja killing nearly one hundred people as well as attacking rural areas leading to the massacre of civilians, the destruction of property and the kidnapping of women and children. All of this was and is taking place at a time when western financial publications and institutions have anointed the West African state as having the largest economy on the continent, surpassing the Republic of South Africa.

It is interesting that at this stage in Nigerian and African development that the role of western imperialist military and intelligence penetration has reached unprecedented levels in the post-colonial history of the continent. Obviously there is a connection between saying that Africa is experiencing phenomenal growth during a period that its national and regional security apparatuses are ineffectual and therefore in need of the assistance of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM), the EU military forces (EUFOR), the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the State of Israel.

In the Southern African state of Malawi, where one of three women heads-of-state on the continent is in power, the country is facing a monumental political crisis stemming from what President Joyce Banda says was a flawed national electoral process. Banda, who was thrust into the position after the death of her predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika in 2012, has declared the elections null and void. She is ordering a revote within 90 days but says that she will not seek elective office.

The Malawian situation is still not settled. Whether the president will be able to maintain control of the country for another three months will remain to be seen.

However, she has faced problems similar to Mutharika, whose brother Peter is her main challenger in the presidential elections that appears to have gone wrong. The opposition  
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) was leading in the vote count but numerous problems were in evidence including the lack of equipment, inadequate processing structures and in one case, violence at the polling places.

The regional partners within the Southern African Development Community (SADC), which Malawi is currently serving as chair, are undoubtedly hoping that the crisis inside the country can be resolved politically and without violence. The SADC has been successful over the last three decades in resolving internal issues through negotiations coordinated by both regional and continental structures.

However, events over the last several months in the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of South Sudan have starkly illustrated the need for the strengthening of the AU. With the CAR, a former French colony, the persecution and forced removal of the Islamic community is taking place right in the midst of the occupation of the country by troops from Paris, the EU and a host of African states.

The appointment of interim President Catherine Samba-Panza in the CAR earlier in 2014 has not resolved the problems of instability. The CAR is also well-endowed with mineral resources including gold, diamonds and uranium which are exploited by western imperialist states. When former President Francois Bozize sought to partner with the People’s Republic of China, his government was soon removed opening the way for the Muslim-dominated Seleka Coalition that took charge in March 2013 under the leadership of Michel Djotodia.

When the atrocities committed by the Seleka armed forces in the capital of Bangui and other regions of the country became unbearable, the pressure from below and moreover from the Hollande government in Paris, Djotodia was removed at the aegis of Paris and forced into exile in Benin, another former French colony. What is clear at the present conjuncture is that the increasing presence of France and the EU, backed up by AFRICOM, is set to continue.

Africa’s and the world’s latest recognized state, the Republic of South Sudan, has reached a breaking point since the armed clashes between to the two main political factions within the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army began on Dec. 15 of last year. Tens of thousands have been displaced and thousands have been killed in the fighting between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and ousted Vice-President Riek Machar.

Despite the signing of a secession of hostilities accord in Ethiopia in mid-May both sides have accused the other of violating the letter and spirit of the agreement. The U.S., which was the major proponent of the partition of the country, formerly Africa’s largest geographic nation-state, is responsible for this ongoing crisis.

Ugandan troops are present in large numbers in South Sudan to prop-up the increasingly fragile regime of President Salva Kiir. Uganda has served as a military conduit for Washington’s foreign policy imperatives in Africa. There are Ugandan troops in Somalia, where a 22,000-member purported AU Mission is trained, bankrolled and coordinated by Washington and Brussels.

Whither the AU and the Need for Genuine Unity and Development

These unresolved internal and regional security issues are providing the imperialist states with a rationale for their escalating military and political intervention in Africa. What is even worse is the silence of the AU and the PSC in this entire process of fortifying neo-colonialism.

However, these western industrial states themselves are suffering from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Mass unemployment and increasing poverty within the imperialist states are prompting bank-imposed austerity programs that further disempower the working class and nationally oppressed within these countries.

In Western Europe right-wing parties are gaining currency within the electoral arena and governance structures. Hostility towards African migrants in Europe has reached unprecedented levels.

In the State of Israel, tens of thousands of economic refugees from Central and East Africa are treated as criminals and labeled “infiltrators.” These migrants are subjected to racist mob violence and the construction of a special prison to remove them from the occupied Palestinian lands.

The U.S., although headed by a self-identified African American president, Barack Obama, is making a major push toward the total domination of the continent militarily. Obama is a militarist and has engaged in massive Pentagon and CIA interference in Africa.

If Afghanistan is any indication, the president announced on May 27 that the 13-year U.S.-engineered war of occupation is coming to an “end”, yet some 10,000 Pentagon troops will remain in the country until at least 2016. While at the same time, the White House threatens war with Russia by overthrowing the government in Ukraine and placing a fascist regime in power on the doorsteps of Moscow.

The Obama administration has endorsed the economic strangulation and illegally-forced bankruptcy of the largest African American populated municipality in the country, the City of Detroit. It is no surprise that this same administration is working feverishly to cripple Africa by sewing divisions and sending in Special Forces, intelligence operatives and conducting massive bombing operations utilizing drones and fighter jets.

The real solution to Africa’s current plight is a total break with the world imperialist system. The capitalists of the West have nothing to offer Africa accept more economic exploitation, oppression and militarism.

This holds true as well for the African American population within the U.S. The benign neglect of the Obama administration is obvious to all who seek to look and listen.

African Americans are even more unemployed, impoverished and politically marginalized after five years of the Obama White House. The only solution offered by this administration is to half-heartedly encourage African American men to engage in self-help efforts while their communities are being destroyed by bank foreclosures, low-wage employment, escalating law-enforcement repression and social containment through the prison-industrial complex.

A political alternative based upon Revolutionary Pan-Africanism, anti-imperialism and socialism provides the only hope for African redemption. The consolidation of Africa under genuine independence, unity and sovereignty will make a tremendous contribution to the abolition of all forms of injustice and inequality throughout the world.   
General Gordon Baker, Jr. (1941-2014): Pioneer in African American Working Class Resistance
General Baker in a march supporting desegregation of Detroit schools in 1975.

Co-founder of DRUM fought against exploitation and national oppression in the auto industry
Abayomi Azikiwe.

By Abayomi Azikiwe
Editor, Pan-African News Wire

  A standing-room-only audience at UAW Local 600 on the Detroit-Dearborn border attended a three-hour memorial program in honor of the life and contributions of General Gordon Baker, Jr., a co-founder of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM) and the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW) during the late 1960s. Baker passed away on May 18 in Detroit surrounded by family, comrades and friends.

Although Baker had been suffering from numerous ailments over the last few years, his enthusiasm and commitment to the working class struggle never subsided. For the last two decades he has served as an important leader in the League of Revolutionaries for a New America (LRNA), which was formed during the 1990s by activists across the United States, many of whom were previous members of the Communist Labor Party (CLP), headed by veteran organizer and writer Nelson Peery.

The memorial was attended by hundreds of Baker’s comrades and co-workers from the organizations he had founded and helped build since the 1960s. Baker had worked in the automotive industry for decades and was a card-carrying member of UAW Local 600 Retiree Chapter.

He was eulogized by Rev. Ed Rowe, previous pastor of Central United Methodist Church in downtown Detroit where Baker maintained an office in which he coordinated educational and social service programs for workers, youth and the poor. Other speakers included his children and grandchildren, Bob King who is the outgoing International UAW President, Jimmy Settles, UAW Vice-President, Peaches Anderson, UAW Retirees Representative, Harvey Wilson, a retired co-worker, Maureen Taylor who is the state chair of the Michigan Welfare Rights Organization (MWRO), among many others.

Baker at the Center of the Black Movement of the 1960s

During the 1950s and 1960s, the city of Detroit was a base for activist radicals who pushed the limits of the Civil Rights, Black Power, Pan-African and Left movements. Baker graduated from Southwestern High School at the age of 16 in 1958 and attended both Highland Park Junior College and later Wayne State University.

Broadcast journalist Norman Otis Richmond of Toronto said in an interview over the Pan-African Journal radio program that “General had been affiliated with the African Nationalist Pioneer Movement (ANPM) headed by Carlos Cooks of New York as a youth.” Richmond, who moved to Detroit from Los Angeles as a young person during the late 1960s, also said that “General had a profound impact on my development politically when I lived in his home as member of the League and writer for the Inner City Voice newspaper.” (May 25)

At Wayne State Baker was a co-founder in 1963 of a student organization called UHURU (freedom in Kiswahili) which was a forerunner to the militant African American youth organizations that became so prevalent later on in the decade. UHURU supported Malcolm X, advocated in favor of the national liberation movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America and identified with the Cuban Revolution headed by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara.

One of the last speeches delivered by Malcolm X as the national spokesperson of the Nation of Islam (NOI) was delivered in Detroit on November 10, 1963 at King Solomon Baptist Church. This address was recorded and released by the Afro-American Broadcasting Corporation directed by Atty. Milton Henry, who would later be a co-founder of the Republic of New Africa (RNA) in Detroit in March 1968.

The speech was called “Message to the Grassroots” where Malcolm X challenged the Civil Rights Movement to examine the revolutions in Africa, Asia and Latin America. When Malcolm X said that African Americans were not willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their liberation, a youthful voice shouted out that “I am ready to bleed.” This was the voice of General Baker on the album.

Baker along with his comrades in Uhuru went to Cuba in 1964 and spent time with revolutionaries from throughout the world. He often reported how he played baseball with Fidel Castro.

Later in 1965, Baker militantly rejected the draft during the Vietnam War. He wrote an open letter to the draft board saying “when the call is made to free the black delta areas of Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina; when the call is made to FREE 12Th STREET HERE IN DETROIT, when these calls are made, send for me, for these shall be Historical Struggles in which it shall be an honor to serve!”  

In 1966, Baker along with other Detroit radicals would form the first Black Panther organization in the city. The so-called “Kercheval Incident” in August 1966 on the city’s eastside prefigured the “Great Rebellion” which hit Detroit with a vengeance a year later, the largest of such outbreaks of unrest in the history of the U.S. up until that time.

On the first day of the rebellion, July 23, 1967, Baker was arrested by the Detroit police. Apparently they had been tracking the vehicle in which he was riding. He was placed in preventive detention until the violence subsided.

Later that fall, the Inner City Voice newspaper was launched which carried reports on the rebellion, the Black Power Conference that was held earlier in Newark—which was also hit by a rebellion prior to Detroit’s—and coverage of the visit of H. Rap Brown, the-then Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), to Detroit in the immediate aftermath of the rebellion where he spoke to a large crowd on Dexter Blvd. from atop of a movie theater.

By early 1968 the attitudes of the African American workers in the auto plants had become highly intolerant of the racism of management as well as the refusal of the white-dominated leadership of the UAW to speak directly to the national oppression of the Black employees, who were placed in the most dangerous and unsanitary jobs. An independent work-stoppage was held in May at Chrysler’s Hamtramck Assembly Plant while the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM), that circulated hard-hitting leaflets and newsletters, was formed which organized another strike in July 1968.

Later the same pattern followed in other plants and workplaces. A number of African American workers’ organizations blossomed and in the spring of 1969 they came together with students and community activists to form the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW).

The LRBW held that the African American working class was the vanguard of the Black Revolution due to its strategic place at the point of production in the automotive industry. During the 1960s and 1970s at many auto plants in the Detroit area, African Americans maintained majorities and near-majorities in the key production facilities such as Dodge Main and the Eldon Ave.

It was during this period that production “speed ups” within the auto industry became the order of the day. African American workers rejected these company policies and sought to challenge them through wildcat strikes and efforts to win key elective positions within the UAW.

The Legacy of the League and Its Implication for Today’s Struggle

Nonetheless, by 1971, the League would split into three different identifiable factions. Baker would later join with a section of former Communist Party members who left after the 1956 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). They would form the Communist Labor Party by the mid-1970s, which lasted until the early 1990s.

The upsurge of the African American people during the 1960s and 1970s combined with the re-structuring of industrial production led to the closing of auto and steel plants throughout the Detroit area and across the U.S. By the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of industrial jobs were eliminated shifting production to other regions of the U.S. and the world, and at the same time through technological advancements, the industrial bosses were able to not only shed jobs but drive down wages for the working class as a whole.

However, even today, the failure of the U.S. capitalist system to adequately address the national oppression of African Americans and other people of color is clearly connected with the incapacity of the ruling class to resolve its own contradictions related to over-production which has fostered wider gaps in income between the rich and the working class as well as the ever deeper economic downturns that have intensified since the beginning of the 21st century.

Detroit remains at the center of the struggle against modern-day capitalism. The forced bankruptcy of the city under dictatorial emergency management rule in the service of the banks has mobilized thousands throughout the city and the region.

The lessons of the struggles waged by General Baker and his comrades must be taken into consideration in the present battle over jobs, income, pensions and public assets.  
Abayomi Azikiwe, PANW Editor, Delivers Statement to Press TV: 'US Aims to Exploit Natural Resources of Africa'
Press TV graphic featuring Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the
Pan-African News Wire.
Tue May 27, 2014 9:20PM GMT

To listen to this statement delivered to Press TV by Abayomi Azikiwe just click on the website below:

The United States aims to exploit the natural resources of Africa through sending counter-terrorism units to the continent, says Abayomi Azikiwe of Pan-African News Wire.

The US Special Operations troops are forming some counter-terrorism units in four countries in North and West Africa under pretext of fighting al-Qaeda militants there.

But Azikiwe said, “I think this is the continuation of the interference of the Pentagon and the US intelligence apparatus in the internal affairs of Africa.”

He told Press TV in a phone interview on Tuesday that the US has no humanitarian purposes in sending troops to Africa but it just wants to benefit from the resources in the continent.

“We know very clearly that the motivations of the United States towards the post-independent African states are not altruistic or humanitarian; they’re based upon the interests of the ruling class inside the US, which is very much interested in dominating the exploration, exploitation and, of course, further domination of the economic resources of the African continent,” Azikiwe said.

“So this provides opportunities for the multinational mining firms, for the international financial institutions to fact obtain hegemony over these resources,” he noted.

The entire program has been done “in essence to dominate the economic future of Africa to block the People's Republic of China and other states in the Middle East and in Asia and in Latin America from developing closer partnerships with the African Union member-states,” Azikiwe stated.

The US program, financed in part with millions of dollars in confidential Pentagon spending, begun last year to instruct and equip hundreds of commandos in Libya, Niger, Mauritania and Mali.
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Mon. May 26, 2014--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, outside
federal bankruptcy court in Detroit on Dec. 3, 2013.
To listen to this broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:

Listen to this special worldwide radio broadcast of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire. The program has been broadcasting over blogtalkradio since Oct. 2010.

This program is brought to the international community over the Pan-African Radio Network at . Please visit this site to access this program and well over 300 other archives broadcasts of the Pan-African Journal.

We continue our commemoration of Africa Liberation Day, the 51st anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the forerunner to the African Union (AU). The AU grew out of the Sirte Declaration issued from a conference in Libya under the Jamahiriya during 1999.

The AU was formally established in 2002 and has continued to meet at least twice a year. The continental organization issued a 50-year projection last year for its Jubilee commemoration.

Also our ongoing acknowledgement of the 50th anniversary of the intervention of Malcolm X in Africa and the Middle East will also be a focus of the program during the second hour.

We will listen to part II of an address delivered by Malcolm X during Jan. 1965 just one month prior to his untimely assassination at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
Pan-African Journal: Special Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sun. May 25, 2014--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.
To listen to this special broadcast featuring host Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African Journal, just click on the website below:

Listen to this special broadcast of the Pan-African Journal hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire. May 25 represented the 51st anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU).

This program also continues the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the intervention of Malcolm X in Africa and the Middle East. Malcolm X broke with the Nation of Islam (NOI) beginning in December 1963 which was solidified in March of 1964.

Malcolm X went on hajj in April after forming the Muslim Mosque, Inc. He would later spend over four additional months in Africa and the Middle East between July and November of 1964.

As part of this tribute we will listen to a classic speech by Malcolm X in New York City just one month prior to his brutal and public assassination on Feb. 21, 1965.

Also we will pay tribute to the late General Gordon Baker, Jr. (1941-2014), a founder of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers (LRBW), who passed away in Detroit on May 18. Baker was eulogized on May 24 at UAW Local 600.

Our special guest for this segment is Norman (Otis) Richmond of Toronto, a broadcast journalist and former member of the League.
Pan-African Journal: Worldwide Radio Broadcast for Sat. May 24, 2014--Hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe
Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of the Pan-African News Wire.
To listen to this broadcast hosted by Abayomi Azikiwe, editor of the Pan-African News Wire, just click on the website below:

An hard-hitting and penetrating radio broadcast called the Pan-African Journal is an audio news magazine brought to an international audience on a weekly basis. Since there is an inherent bias related to coverage of the affairs of African people inside the continent and abroad, we are very enthusiastic about bringing this program to our listeners every week.

This week the focus was primarily on the 51st anniversary of the formation of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the current African Union (AU) which has 54-member states.

Since the 1960s, the African Revolution has made tremendous gains by defeating white settler-colonialism and classic colonialism in Africa. Nonetheless, there is the phenomena of neo-colonialism, which Dr. Kwame Nkrumah defined eloquently in his 1965 book "Neo-Colonialism: The Last Stage of Imperialism."

The book was such an indictment of United States imperialism that it drew the ire of the Johnson administration. A letter of protest was sent to the Ghana embassy in Washington and just four months after the book was published, Nkrumah was overthrown in a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) coordinated military and police coup on Feb. 24, 1966.

This program features our regular Pan-African News Wire segment bringing you some of the most updated and advanced information on the affairs of the Continent, the Diaspora and indeed the world.

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