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Ghost of Late Ethiopian Emperor Reflect on his 120 Birthday anniversary, as the Autocracies of Ethiopia and Eritrea Fall Apart

The Red Sea and Africa’s north-east move deeper  into an era of great change, with global ramifications as energy acquisition patterns also transform, impacting the relative geopolitical centrality of the region. 

Ethiopians gathered quietly, on July 23, 2012, in larger numbers than in recent years, and in more places around the world, as well as in Ethiopia, and remembered the birthday of the late Emperor, Haile Selassie I, born 120 years earlier.

The manner of their gatherings, and the growing and open remembrance of the “good times” of Ethiopian growth and prosperity in the Imperial period, were strategically significant. They reflected the reality that change has now begun in Ethiopia, and that there is less to fear from what had been the growing xenophobia of the Tigrean-born Prime Minister, Meles Zenawi, against potential rivals and against the Amhara people from whom the late Emperor had risen.

Has the Age of Meles Ended? 

The Emperor’s birthday anniversary — it was clear to those exchanging rumours in the Mercato in Addis Ababa that Meles Zenawi, 57, was either seriously ill, or perhaps even already dead. He had failed to participate in the African Union (AU) summit in Addis, and to meet a delegation from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Ethiopia’s most important investor/trading partner.

Meles’ situation — regardless of how serious his health problems might be at present — mirrors the problems of leadership elsewhere in the region: in neighbouring Somaliland; in Yemen; and particularly in Eritrea, where Pres. Isayas Afewerke is almost certainly in failing health, if not already dead or incapacitated. The pattern of governmental “transitions” and power vacuums and difficulties in these states, as well as in Egypt, Sudan, and Somalia, has profound implications for the stability and security of the Red Sea/Suez sea lanes, and for the region generally. As we discuss in this report, the “unravelling” of the situations in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Egypt, in particular, was picking up pace by mid-2012.

By July 18, 2012, even Agence France Presse (AFP) had picked up reports from “diplomatic sources” that Meles was in a “critical condition” in a Brussels hospital, although one source confirmed that he was, at least, still alive. Earlier in the week, Government spokesmen were saying that reports that Meles was being treated at a Brussels hospital were “false and wrong”. By July 20, 2012, the Government Communications Office said that Meles was in good health and would be back at his post in a few days, but confirmed that he “recently had a health problem that needed professional attention”.

The speculation — and it was only that — was that he was suffering from a brain tumor; no official would confirm the nature of his illness. By July 18, 2012, as well, Deputy Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn confirmed at least that Meles was ill, explaining Meles’ absence from his scheduled chairmanship at a meeting in Addis of the New Partnership for African Development (DEPAD) on July 14, 2012, and his scheduled AU leaders’ summit on July 15, 2912.

The notably anti-Meles Ethiopian Review in early July 2012 commented: “Ethiopia’s khat-addicted dictator Meles Zenawi has been diagnosed with blood cancer and is receiving treatment at a Belgium hospital.”

His wife, Azeb Mesfin a member of Parliament and a key figure in the Tigré People’s Liberation Front: TPLF), visited Brussels for one day to see her husband in hospital. The former Foreign Minister (1991-2010) Seyoum Mesfin (currently Ethiopian Ambassador to the PRC, but still a key figure in the TPLF, which totally dominates the Government coalition, the Ethiopian Peoples Revolutionary Democratic Front: EPRDF) also visited him, before returning to Addis Ababa. Seyoum is a strong contender to replace Meles.

There seems little doubt that Azeb Mesfin has been positioning herself to succeed her husband, although possibly not — initially — with the title of Prime Minister. Talk is that the Deputy Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, would take over, at least for an interim period. But there is little doubt that Azeb Mesfin (although with some Amhara family heritage of her own) shares her husband’s anti- Amhara policies, or at least uses this as a badge of legitimacy in the TPLF, which is also her only power base. Clearly, her only lever in the power stakes would be to attempt to continue the Tigrean (read TPLF) domination of the EPRDF and of Ethiopian life.

Here is where evidence is emerging of broad opposition to that, both within the EPRDF’s non-Tigrean membership, and from within the broader Ethiopian community, which has, until this point, been heavily constrained from voicing any opposition to Meles’ policies.

Meanwhile, Ethiopia’s Muslim community has been engaging in a growing fratricidal conflict, mainly between members of the moderate Ethiopian Islamic community and those converted by the large injections of Saudi funding to neo-salafist beliefs. These clashes grew to the point where riot police intervened in recent (July 2012) clashes in Addis Ababa just before and just after the AU summit in Addis. Foreign media reporting has indicated that these protests have been about the marginalization of the growing Muslim minority from governance. Deeper analysis how’s it is between the imported and domestic strands of Islam, and between neo-salafist and moderate strands, and the Meles Government has been supportive of the imported, moderate brand. Saudi Arabia has, for the past few decades funnelled billions of dollars worth of investment in Ethiopia, and also the source of funding for a massive campaign of mosque-building, to facilitate the proselytization of Saudi neo-salafist Wahhabism.

Ethiopian Muslims have protested against Government support for the Al Ahbash sect of Islam, which is ostensibly apolitical. Al Ahbash is also known as the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects, a Sufi movement, following the teachings of Ethiopian religious scholar Abdulla al-Harari. It is possible that the Government supported Al Ahbash to counterbalance the influence of imported Saudi Wahhabism.

But what is important is that the dissent by Ethiopian Muslims for or against imported strands of Islam, but in any event protesting against the Government, as well as the open support being shown for the memory of the late Emperor (and therefore, by definition, backing off from the hostility toward the Amhara ethnic group, and from the suppression of the Oromo peoples), are symptomatic of the reality that Meles and the TPLF have been unable to sustain the tightness of their grip on Ethiopia in recent months. Meles’ health condition — for some months a matter of speculation — may well have been at the root of the Administration’s declining ability to sustain its control.

There have been other, small, indicators, as well, such as the defection of the driver of Meles’ wife, Azeb Mesfin, who reportedly disappeared on about July 20, 2012, and apparently turned up in Rome. Why now? What spurred him to make the break? Was it the fact that he heard about the impending collapse of the Government, or the death or disability of Meles? And did Azeb prompt him to make the move?

Azeb Mesfin herself received an Italian visa on July 18, 2012, and was in Rome by July 19. It was reported on July 20, 2012, that Azeb had herself left Ethiopia to escape from Sebhat Nega, a key TPLF official whom she forced out of the party’s top leadership in 2009. She also had him removed from his chairmanship of the multi-billion-dollar Endowment Fund for the Rehabilitation of Tigré (EFFORT) around the same time. Sebhat Nega began manoeuvring from about the first week in July 2012 to make a comeback as the TPLF power. It was Sebhat who engineered Meles’ rise to power and he was the second most powerful figure in the ruling party until he was humiliated and removed by Azeb. Nonetheless, even though Sebhat has significant support within the TPLF, he is not seen as a successor to Meles, but he appears to have retained his influence and the loyalty of his supporters. And Sebhat has been known to oppose Meles’ own choice of a successor, Berhane Gebrekiristos.

This was perhaps one of the most significant pointers to the reality that Meles Zenawi was no longer in power, or likely to recover (assuming he was still alive). Indeed, it is also significant that his wife, Azeb, left Addis the day before Meles reportedly returned to the capital (on July 20, 2012).

Meanwhile, Berhane Gebrekiristos and Teodros Adhanom, another close confidante of Meles, were reportedly — by July 10, 2012 — named as acting Prime Ministers of Ethiopia.

Clearly, then, the Age of Meles in Ethiopia has ended, or was ending by early July 2012. More important now, is to calculate what this could mean to Ethiopia and the region.

What has been significant, during this “interregnum”, however, has been the reality that Eritrea quietly occupied the contested border area which includes the city of Badme. Ethiopia and Eritrea had, in fact, agreed to the ceding of this area in the Algiers Accord of 2002, but Meles had — even up to May 2012 — refused to allow the transfer of the town to Eritrea. There were valid reasons for this, but what was significant was that Eritrea — which has its own leadership problems at present — had not challenged Ethiopia on the matter until June-July 2012, when it seemed clear to Asmara that Meles’ grip on power had loosened.

The Strategic Impact 

Many factors on the regional and global stage have begun to coalesce. New and fundamental questions must now be raised about whether the geo-strategic importance of the core Middle East — the Arabian Peninsula and the seas to the north, east, and south of it — has also begun to be transformed.

The changing of the guard in Ethiopia is just one watershed event. Meles’ apparent incapacitation came at a time when Eritrea’s Isayas was also incapacitated (and, equally possibly, close to death), and at a time of political transitions in Egypt and Yemen, and internal preoccupation in Sudan (to the point of war with South Sudan). Indeed, it comes also at a time when the Saudi Arabian leadership itself is contemplating generational change.

At best, the end of the Meles and Isayas autocracies compounds the break of the status quo of the past few decades in the Red Sea/Suez sea lane of communication (SLOC), the broader Horn of Africa, and in Egypt itself. This has profound implications for East-West trade, which depends on the SLOC; transforming Egypt’s traditional hostility toward Ethiopia (which has utilized Eritrea as a staging horse to isolate Ethiopia, so as to minimize Ethiopian interference with the Blue Nile source waters); and opening up the prospects for Israel to once again more safely project naval power down the Red Sea to the Indian Ocean.

At the same time, however, the centrality to the global market of the oil and gas exports from the region (and particularly the Arabian Peninsula and Persian Gulf) has been declining. The question has to be asked as to whether the Red Sea/Suez SLOC is as strategically critical as it was, say, two decades ago? Certainly, in terms of ship movements and revenues to Egypt (Suez Canal), it may have risen in direct, statistical terms. But is it as critical in overall terms of strategic balance?

For the PRC and Japan, for example, while exports from the Persian Gulf remain critical, these can bypass the Red Sea/Suez SLOC, and, increasingly, the PRC is seeking overland oil and gas transfers from the Northern Tier (Iran and the Caspian Basin), rather than via sea lanes. To some degree, for Europe as well, pipelines are the dominant traffic lanes of the future, rather than sea lanes. On the other hand, oil and gas from the Horn of Africa itself — as well as from Yemen — is of growing importance, although oil from South Sudan is being postured to go via new pipelines through Kenya to the Indian Ocean, rather than allowing South Sudanese exports to continue to be subject to Sudanese control. [The original pipelines went from what is now South Sudan up to the Red Sea, through what is now Sudanese territory. The Kenyan route itself is not without problems, given the potential for instability and even secessionist activities taking place in Kenyan coastal regions.]

Japan itself, now highly conscious of the vulnerability of its oil and gas sea lanes through the Indian Ocean — as US influence declines (despite the US’ “Pacific pivot”), and because of increased PRC activities to control the chokepoints: the South China Sea sea-lanes, which link the Indian Ocean (and therefore the Red Sea) to the Pacific and on to Japan. As a result, Japan is seen as likely to increase its attempts to acquire Canadian oil and gas, largely from the Alberta fields, especially since the US Barack Obama Administration rejected (for the time being) plans for a pipeline from Alberta down through to the US markets. But the Canadians are also now more aware of, and ready to act on, the reality that an export market exists for their oil outside of the US. Significantly, as the global energy pattern changes, however, the US demand even for Canadian energy is seen as likely to decline.

Ultimately, an Alberta-Vancouver pipeline may make sound sense to Canada, to address the Asian markets, including Japan. And Japan might also find that it can find energy supplies from the US fields in Alaska, given the fact that the Alaska pipeline itself is under-utilized and facing real questions as to its viability if demand for Alaskan energy from “the lower 48” states declines further.

Such a move would instantly free Japan from the strategic uncertainty and massive cost of importing oil and gas from the north-western Indian Ocean (Persian Gulf), and give it short, secure sea-lines of communication with North America. This becomes increasingly important as Japan decides whether it can, politically, return to nuclear power generation or not.

Inherent in all this is the reality that US reliance on Middle Eastern energy is declining, and declining rapidly.

In other words, fear and uncertainty over the security of Middle Eastern sea lanes and choke points should be expected to be a driver in future energy procurement decisions and trade, pushing energy companies to invest in the recovery of oil and gas from less politically hostile regions. This could well spur the US — particularly after this term of the Barack Obama Administration — to redouble its efforts at recovering energy from its newly-confirmed oil and gas reserves. Egypt itself could also well turn its back on the Red Sea to some extent (although it will always be important to Cairo because of Suez Canal revenues), if Ethiopia can reassure it on the question of Blue Nile water flow, and if the offshore Mediterranean gas fields can provide a major energy income from European clients.

Even within Europe, the new availability of energy resources from the massive shale deposits, as well as the new Eastern Mediterranean gas fields and the growing network of supplies emerging from Russia and the Caspian Sea Basin, make the Middle East less critical as an energy resource. Clearly, the Red Sea/Suez retains its importance as a trade sea route, but even that, to an extent, is to be supplemented, if not challenged, over the coming decades by internal overland connections within the Eurasian landmass: the new Silk Route.

Has Arabia’s brief period in the geopolitical sun come, then, to its apogee?

All of this, then, could cause the PRC and India to become Ethiopia’s (and South Sudan’s) most interested clients for energy, just as they have become more important clients for energy from Iran, the Persian Gulf states, Sudan, and West Africa.

It is unsurprising that the present Turkish Government has begun to exert its renewed interest in the region, particularly by supporting Sudanese Pres. Umar Hasan Ahmad al-Bashir and attempting to court the Muslim Brothers in Egypt. Turkey has reasserted its claim to have an historical interest in the control of the Red Sea, based primarily on its earlier Ottoman dominance of what is now Saudi Arabia. While this Turkish claim or posturing may appear to be unsustainable to regional states, or outside observers, today, it is nonetheless a factor in Turkish neo-Ottomanism, and is also linked to Turkey’s grand strategic sense of rivalry with Iran (which also seeks to assert an influence on the Red Sea and Horn of Africa).

Where does all of this leave Ethiopia, Eritrea, and the Horn of Africa?

Significantly, one possibility could be — with the personality-driven autocracies of Meles and Isayas drifting astern — that Ethiopia and Eritrea resume their historical relationship, but in such a way that the various elements of the “old empire” are given their due attention. This could see a gradually coalescing confederation which would include Eritrea (historically, the Bar Negus: Kingdom of the North), and Ethiopia, with greater prominence given to the aspirations of its great regions, such as Oromo- land, and the Somali regions, Tigré, the Amhara Plateau, and so on.

Nostalgia for the golden days of Emperor Haile Selassie I means that there are elements of the historical interlinking cultures of the Ge’ez language based peoples which still have a commonality.

 

By. Gregory R. Copley

Original Title :-  Global Energy Could Change as the Autocracies of Ethiopia and Eritrea Fall Apart

Red Shirt’s Massada of Thailand. A New Model of Urban Protestation for a regime change in Asia pacific.

Thailand  is on of the few non colonized countries in the world like that of Ethiopia. Today its facing spocial crisies of  a post modern dimension more diffrent than that of   Ethiopia of 1974,   which dethroned the King of Kings Haile Selassie I.  In the contrary to the late Negus of Ethiopia, the King of  Thailand remians the only unifiing fuigure in a country divided radically in a classical sense of the terms haves  and have nots…

Thailand  named Siam by the British  has  conflicting opinions on its origins stretching  over  4,000 years.  Some claim they orginated from from Szechuan in China . Some claim they are the soilders of Genghis  Kahan who remained behinded in the 13th cen.  The modern archology shows evidence of bronze metallurgy, that the Thais might have originated here in Thailand and later scattered to various parts of Asia up unto China Mongolia.

The early kingdoms were  North and became the kingdom of “Lan Na” and the other one is in further south the kingdom of “Sukhothai” under the hegimony of Kemers.

Sukhothai was the first Thai kingdom. It was founded in 1238 by two Thai governors, Khun Bang Klang Thao (Si Inthrathit) and Khun Pha Muang who rebelled against the Khmers; and gave independence to the region. Sukhothai period was the most flourishing period of Thailand.

During this time Thai had strong friendship with neighboring countries. It absorbed elements of various civilizations which they came into contact. Thai maintained and advanced their culture with China. The potters entered Thai artistry and extensive trade was established with Cambodia and India.

After the death of Khun Pha Muang in 1279, Ramkhamhaeng King, the third son of Si Inthrahit, ascended to the throne. Under the Ramkhamhaeng King, Sukhothai had strong friendship with neighboring China. Ramkhamhaeng King organized a writing system which became the basis for writing and eventually developed to be the modern Thai alphabet.

SCENARIOS – Is Thailand headed for more stalemate?

Wed May 26, 2010 11:03am IST

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s government is pushing ahead with a reconciliation plan aimed at healing a social and economic divide and forestalling another uprising after the country’s worst political violence in modern history.

The five-point reconciliation plan announced earlier this month calls for protection of the monarchy; reforms to address social injustice; an independent body to monitor media to ensure unbiased reporting; a committee to investigate recent political violence; and political reforms and constitutional amendments.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has insisted he alone will decide if and when a new election will be held. He initially suggested Nov. 14 but that was rejected by the anti-government demonstrators blamed for the violence and rioting.

Below is what could unfold in the next few months.

RECONCILIATION PLAN REJECTED BY ALL SIDES — STALEMATE

Many areas are open to debate and the process therefore never takes off, leaving Thailand in a protracted stalemate with little indication of whether an election will take place to meet a key demand by the now-dispersed “red shirt” protesters.

New leaders emerge within the red shirts and they question Abhisit’s suitability to lead a peace process, holding his government responsible for scores of deaths and injuries to hundreds of people, most of them protesters. An imminent no-confidence motion against Abhisit and several ministers by the red shirt-alligned opposition party, Puea Thai,is unsuccessful but serves to undermine the reconciliation plan.

Puea Thai and the red shirts reject points in the reconciliation plan related to media, the judicial system and a probe into recent violence as one-sided and insincere.

Abhisit’s elite backers, his supporters and the rival “yellow shirts” movement representing urban middle classes, are outraged he is reaching out to the red shirts, whom they brand terrorists for trashing the capital and damaging the economy.

They rejected peace overtures before, so have no place in any reconciliation process, the government supporters say.

LIKELIHOOD: Strong chance this will happen. Compromise and concessions are unlikely in the current climate, where gamesmanship, insincerity and divisiveness have prevailed on all sides.

MARKET IMPACT: Foreign investors might take advantage of cheap Thai stocks during a protracted stalemate, but long-term investment will likely be curtailed as there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Tourists are still apprehensive and consumer confidence would remain low, although the government would have more time to work on economic stimulus measures.

Thai Army captures main protest site, but rebellion spreads

Looters descend after Bangkok’s day of bloodshed

A day of death and surrender – but city still burns

Red Shirts had good reason to protest

Thailand’s monarchy is above politics

Resistance, then surrender, in a doomed last stand

Redshirts warn of civil war as Thai troops told to shoot on sight

Home made rockets vs army snipers: on the frontline of the Thai protests

Rural Anger Fuels Thailand’s Red Shirts

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A Thai protester throws wood on to a fire on a Bangkok street

In Thailand the Red shirt Protesters  fortified themselves like that of Masada between 37 and 31 BCE against the Romans in the Dead sea area.  The last two months the Red Shirt of Thailand coming out of the rural poor and the urban under class started the first of its kind organized  an urban revolt fortified like that of Masada.  Since history does not repeat its self the same kind of way, the Red Shirts  survived the government crackdown by cutting electricity and water like that of  Massada the Romans cutting food and water . After the destruction of the Second Temple, the Jewish rebels and their families fled Jerusalem and settled on the mountain top, using it as a base for harassing the Romans. In contrary to Massada the Red Shirts are not fighting a  foreign enemy occupying their land . They set new standred for regime chnage in Asia pacific and the rest of the third world.

We can not denay the Thai  government has showed the best of its patience to end up the Massada of Thiland. They even proposed 5 point road map for the resolution of the protest which is rejected by the Red Shirt. Later days the government rejected any discussion with the reds.

Today 18 years  after  1992 coup on the same day  the  the Red shirts of Bangkok who chose death rather than  surrnder were dfused and start burning their capital  city. May 19 Thai security forces backed by armored vehicles seized control of a protest site in central Bangkok and detained several of the group’s leaders after a six- week standoff which was easily accessible than that of historical Massada. The Red shirts were diffused but  not dispersed with all the crises of Thailand.

The of the  leader of the ed shirt named ” Nattawut Saikuar, declared to his  supporters in a live broadcast from the camp’s main stage. “We want to stop more injuries and deaths,” he said before rushing off to the sound of sporadic gunfire.

Street battles in the past week between security forces and demonstrators killed more than 40 people. The Red Shirts, who view Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva’s rule as illegitimate, drew thousands of supporters to their two-month protest, underscoring the nation’s widening class divide.

Today’s clashes killed four people including an Italian journalist, Petchpong Kumjornkijjakarn, head of Bangkok’s medical emergency unit, told reporters. Gunfire could still be heard around the site after the government’s announcement.

“If they move closer to the stage, more lives will be lost,” said Jatuporn Prompam, another protest leader.

Kasikornbank Pcl, Thailand’s third-biggest bank by assets, said a fire broke out at a branch on Rama IV Road near the main protest area. Plumes of black smoke rose above the edge of the site. Soldiers advanced along Wireless Road and television footage showed army vehicles smashing through barricades.

The Bank of Thailand ordered all financial institutions in the capital to close at 1 p.m. because of security concerns, it said in a statement. The benchmark SET Index rose 0.7 percent before closing at the morning break. The baht fell 0.1 percent.

Red shirt supporters set fire to a city hall in Udon Thani Province in northeast Thailand. In northeast Khon Kaen, protesters broke into the city hall to demand an end to the military assault in Bangkok through Channel 3 TV which was set infire imidately  after as pro governmental media by the millitant black shirt faction of the RedShirt.

Exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, to whom many of the protesters express loyalty, called for direct talks between the government and rally organizers.

Nine people were submitted to the Police General Hospital at the camp site with injuries this morning, three with gunshot wounds, director Jongjate Aojanepong said by phone today.

“After today the divisions in the country will get even deeper,” said Michael Nelson, a visiting scholar at Bangkok’s Chulalongkorn University. “How can you have a stable political system when two large areas of the country are no-go zones for the two major political parties?”

Many demonstrators are loyal to Thaksin, a billionaire who won over the poor in the northeast of the country by giving them cheap health care and loans. The demonstrators, angered by one of Asia’s widest income gaps, say Abhisit embodies a privileged class of military officers, judges bureaucrats and royal advisers that sits above the law.

Thaksin, who was ousted by the Thai army in 2006, fled the country in 2008 before a court sentenced him to two years in prison for helping his wife buy land from the government while still in power.

Since 1946, when King Bhumibol Adulyadej took the Thai throne as an 18-year-old, Thailand has seen nine coups and more than 20 prime ministers. Only two of 17 constitutions since absolute monarchy ended in 1932 have mandated parliaments that are entirely elected. The king, who is revered across the nation, has been in hospital since Sept. 19 and hasn’t spoken publicly about the current demonstrations.

Abhisit himself has never won a national election: He was picked by legislators in December 2008 after a court dissolved the pro-Thaksin ruling party for election fraud. The decision coincided with the seizure of Bangkok’s airports by protesters wearing yellow shirts who oppose Thaksin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Ten Kate in Bangkok atdtenkate@bloomberg.net

For many observers, Thai politics is defined by a compelling but misleading image: the then prime minister, Suchinda Kraprayoon, andprotest leader, Chamlong Srimuang, sitting on the floor on 20 May 1992, while King Bhumibol Adulvadej admonishes the two former generals to settle their differences amicably. Prior to this royal intervention, scores of people, mainly unarmed demonstrators, had been killed in street protests against a government widely perceived as illegitimate. Four days later, Suchinda, the former army commander and 1991 coup maker, resigned.

As the king declared prophetically, “There will only be losers.” Suchinda’s career was over: I saw him a few years ago getting off a Thai Airways flight in London, a broken man in a crumpled suit. The once feverishly popular Chamlong, an ascetic “half-man half-monk”, found his own route to the premiership permanently blocked.

Given the terrible violence of recent weeks, and a death toll now matching that of May 1992, why does the king not intervene again?

The idea that public royal reprimands are a standard Thai operating procedure is not really correct. A royal dressing-down is a last resort, one which relies on those who are summoned to submit meekly and go home quietly. Such interventions are a losing proposition for the political system, and potentially also for the royal institution itself, since the stakes are extremely high.At present, it is an open question how the redshirt leadership would respond to any summons.

In practice, most royal moves take place behind the scenes, and are carried out not by members of the royal family at all, but by “network monarchy” – a loose alliance of courtiers, establishment insiders and freelancers who have no actual hotline to the palace, but are believed to be (or believe themselves to be) acting in the interests of the monarchy.In April 2006, responding to earlier public demands for monarchical intervention, the king made a major speech, in which he declined to act directly, and instead urged the judiciary to resolve the country’s political crisis.

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOdGhz71DMo

Since then, Thailand has experienced a striking judicialisation of politics: the courts have annulled an election, abolished political parties, and given more than a hundred politicians five-year bans from office.

The only alternative to judicial interventions has been the rather disastrous military coup of September 2006, which completely failed in its real aim of reducing former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s remarkable popularity. Instead, the coup left a legacy of bitter colour-coded division between pro-Thaksin and anti-Thaksin forces.In recent years, the task of intervention has been delegated to other elements of the state. Whereas in 1992 the king’s words matched an emerging consensus that Suchinda had to go – and that Chamlong had gone too far – 18 years later there is no such common ground. Between redshirted Thaksinites and yellowshirted royalists run bloody scars that cut right through Thai society; and these are not wounds that any words of wisdom could easily heal.

Looters descend after Bangkok’s day of bloodshed

httpvhd://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BH8hQDvUVH4

2009 Thailand

Thailand: Red Shirt democratic movement faces armed might of the ruling elites

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn, Turn Left Thailand

For the fourth time in forty years, troops have opened fire on pro-democracy demonstrators in Bangkok. Each time, the aim has been the same: to protect the interests of the conservative elites who have run Thailand for the past 70 years.

For those watching the cold-blooded murder by soldiers on the streets of Bangkok, it may be tempting just to assume that the present chaos is merely about different coloured T-shirts and supporters of different political parties, as though they were mirror images of each other. This is not the case.

What we have been seeing in Thailand since late 2005 is a growing class war between the poor majority and the old elites. It is of course not a pure class war. Due to a vacuum on the left in the past, millionaire and populist politicians like Thaksin Shinawatra have managed to provide leadership to the poor. The urban and rural poor, who form the majority of the electorate, are the “Red Shirts”. They want the right to choose their own democratically elected government. They started out as passive supporters of Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai government. But they have now formed a brand new citizens’ movement, for what they call “real democracy”. For them, “real democracy” means an end to the long-accepted “quiet dictatorship” of the army generals and the royal palace. This situation allowed the generals, the king’s advisors in the Privy Council and the conservative elites to act as though they were above the constitution. Les majeste (which outlaw “insulting” — criticism of — the monarchy) laws and intermittent repression have been used to silence opposition. Ever since 2006, these elites have blatantly acted against election results by staging a military coup, using the courts to twice dissolve Taksin’s party and by backing mob violence by the anti-democratic royalist  “Yellow Shirts”. The present misnamed Democrat Party government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva was manoeuvred into place by the army.

Most of those in the Red Shirt movement support Taksin for good reasons. His government put in place many pro-poor policies, including Thailand’s first ever universal health-care system. Yet the Red Shirts are not merely Taksin puppets. There is a dialectical relationship between Taksin and the Red Shirts. His leadership provides encouragement and confidence to fight. Yet the Red Shirts are self-organised in community groups and some are showing frustration with Taksin’s lack of progressive leadership, especially over his insistence that they continue to be “loyal” to the crown.

Over the past few days, the Red Shirts have shown signs of self-leadership to such an extent that the old Red Shirt politicians are running to keep up. A republican movement is growing. Many left-leaning Thais like myself are not Taksin supporters. We opposed his human rights abuses. But we are the left wing of the citizens’ movement for real democracy.

The Yellow Shirts are conservative royalists. Some have fascist tendencies. Their guards carry and use firearms. They supported the 2006 coup, wrecked Government House and blocked the international airport last year. Behind them were the Thai army. That is why troops never shot at the Yellow Shirts. That is why the present, Oxford- and Eton-educated Thai Prime Minister has done nothing to punish the Yellow Shirts. After all, he appointed some to his cabinet.

The aims of the Yellow Shirts are to reduce the voting power of the electorate in order to protect the conservative elites and the “bad old ways” of running Thailand. They see increased citizen empowerment as a threat and propose a “New Order” dictatorship, where people are allowed to vote, but most MPs and public positions are not up for election. They are supported by the mainstream Thai media, most middle-class academics and even NGO leaders. The NGOs have disgraced themselves over the last few years by siding with the Yellows or remaining silent in the face of the general attack on democracy. Despite being well meaning, their lack of politics has let them down and they have been increasingly drawn to the right.

When we talk about the “palace” we have to make a distinction between the king and all those who surround him. The king has always been weak and lacking in any democratic principles. The palace has been used to legitimise past and present dictatorships. As a “stabilising force”, the monarchy has only helped to stabilise the interests of the elite. The immensely wealthy king is also opposed to any wealth redistribution. The queen is an extreme reactionary. However the real people with power among the Thai elites are the army and high-ranking state officials.

If one is to understand and judge the violent acts which have been taking place in Thailand, we need a sense of history and perspective. Perspective is needed to distinguish between damaging property and injuring or killing people. With this perspective, it is clear that the Yellow Shirts and the army are the violent ones. A sense of history helps to explain why Red Shirt citizens are now exploding in anger. They have had to endure the military jackboot, the repeated theft of their democratic rights, continued acts of violence against them and general abuse from the mainstream media and academia. If they continue to resist, cracks may appear in the army. During the past four years Thai citizens have become highly politicised. Ordinary soldiers, recruited from poor families, support the Red Shirts.

The stakes are very high. Any compromise has the risk of instability because it will satisfy almost no one. The old elites might want to do a deal with Taksin to stop the Red Shirts from becoming totally republican. But whatever happens, Thai society cannot go back to the old days. The Red Shirts represent millions of Thais who are sick and tired of military and palace intervention in politics. At the very least they will want a non-political constitutional monarchy. It is hoped that the Red Shirts will continue to move to the left during this round of struggle.

Red Shirts shut down the ASEAN summit

April 10, 2009 — In Pattaya, demonstrators — members of the National United Front of Democracy against Dictatorship (UDD), aka Red Shirts — broke the police cordon around the hotel where the ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations) summit was to be held, demanding the resignation of the illegitimate government. The Thai government responded by declaring a state of emergency in Pattaya. The summit was cancelled.

2008 Thailand

Looking at Thailand’s crisis: some basics

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

April 13, 2008 — When watching and commenting on the recent events in Thailand, observers need to hold on to some basic principles. These are:

1. No government anywhere in the world has the right to use troops to gun down protesters in the streets, especially when they are not carrying firearms. The Abhisit government’s use of the army to kill people in cold blood is an outrage. It is not “restraint” nor “the application of the Rule of Law”. It puts the Thai government on the same level as the Burmese junta and its aims are the same too … to hang on to illegitimate power and protect the interests of the privileged.

2. If observers want to pontificate about the “Rule of Law”, then they must first denounce the illegal military coup of 2006, the lack of partiality and accountability among the judiciary in dissolving the elected parties of government, the illegal seizure of Government House and the airports by the misnamed royalist Peoples’ Alliance for Democracy (PAD), the use of firearms and bombs by the PAD, the illegal bribes and threats to manoeuvre the Democrat Party into power, the illegal government-backed Blue Shirt gangs, who carried firearms and the illegal and extra-constitutional role of the palace and the king’s advisors in frustrating the functioning of democracy. None of the above cases have been punished.

3. There is a clear line between democracy and dictatorship. “Thai-style democracy” is an elite myth. The Yellow Shirts have repeatedly failed to respect the democratic wishes of the majority of the population. They want more appointed public positions and less power to the electorate. They want a “New Order”. They want censorship. They back the draconian lese majeste law which stifle the basic right to freedom of speech. The Red Shirts may not be angels, but they want a genuine democratic process without interference from the military, the king’s advisors or the palace. They would prefer to use the more democratic constitution of 1997, rather than the present one drafted by the military.

4. The anger of the Red Shirts over the past few days did not come out of nowhere. Since 2006 the majority of Thais have continually been abused politically by the elite Yellow Shirts, the mainstream media and middle-class academics. When pictures of Red Shirts smashing the PM’s car are shown, it is dishonest and bad journalism not to explain this.

5. The majority of Red Shirts support Taksin, not because they like to “hero worship”, but because his government brought in a universal health-care system and other pro-poor measures. The Democrat Party and the Yellow Shirts opposed these policies all along and knew that they couldn’t win popular elections as a result. This is why they wanted a coup.

6. Most of the Thai elite are corrupt, especially army generals and politicians. Why single out just Taksin? We need to punish them all or none at all.

7. The entire Thai elite support the use of state violence, whether it be in the [mainly Muslim] south of Thailand, in the “war on drugs” or against unarmed protesters. Taksin has to take responsibility for gross human rights abuses while he was prime minister. So does the rest of the elite, including Abhisit and the generals. There is a long history of Thai state crimes and we need to challenge this. We can start with denouncing the cold-blooded murder by troops on the streets of Bangkok this April.

[Giles Ji Ungpakorn worked in the faculty of political science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. He was forced to leave Thailand after being charged under Thailand’s anti-democratic les majeste laws. He is an activist with the socialist Turn Left Thailand group. Visit http://www.pcpthai.org/ and http://wdpress.blog.co.uk/.]

World Bank Keeper of Woyane on power in Ethiopia

Woyane the source  the New Biblical  Famine  now he makes money with it…

All the Money which goes in the pocket of Woyane  used against the Ethiopians their survival…

World Bank Provides $480 Million to Combat Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

The World Bank is helping to fight poverty and improve the living standards for the people of Ethiopia. This country is one of the largest beneficiaries of the World Bank’s concessional lending program, the International Development Association (IDA),with a portfolio of 33 active projects worth around US$ 3.6 billion of which around US$ 2.1 billion is provided as credit and the remaining US$ 1.5 billion is provided as grant.
Active projects support initiatives across a number of areas including:

Pastoral Community Development Project II: a US$ 80 million with the objective of enabling pastoralists to better withstand external shocks and to improve the livelihoods of targeted communities. The project will empower local communities by increasing their engagement in woreda processes and local development decision making. It will also provide them increased access to social services; and better access to support for savings and credit activities. In addition, the project seeks to improve and expand the pastoral early warning system and the responsiveness of the disaster mitigation and contingency funds.
The project will be implemented in pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in 57 woredas of the Afar, Somali, SNNPs and Oromya Regions. About 600,000 rural households or approximately 45% of pastoral and agro-pastoral woredas in Ethiopia will benefit from the PCDPII project. Read more…
Urban Local Govt Development Project: US$ 150 million. The project is the next step in the World Bank’s program of support to Ethiopian cities. The objective of the project is to support improved performance in the planning, delivery and sustained provision of priority municipal services and infrastructure. Through the provision of Performance Grants, the project will provide incentives to cities to improve their performance in key areas related to planning, citizens’ participation in the planning process, financial management and service delivery, while at the same time enabling cities to invest in critical municipal infrastructure such as roads, drainage, sewerage, market places, etc. Read more…
Tana & Beles Integrated Water Resources Development: US$ 45 million project which aims to lay the foundation needed to accelerate sustainable growth in the sub basins by developing enabling institutions and facilitating investments for integrated planning, management, and development. The project will not only benefit Ethiopia but will also improve regional cooperation among Nile riparian countries. It also seeks to develop a new paradigm of institutional modernization and convergence in managing precious water resources, while also stimulating sustainable development. Read more…

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World Bank  350+130 million for Wyane

WASHINGTON, October 22, 2009 – The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank today approved a $350 million grant and a $130 million credit from the International Development Association to the Government of Ethiopia to support an innovative program that is keeping millions of families out of extreme poverty and helping them to achieve food security.

This financing is for the third phase of the Government of Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP) which provides transfers to 7.6 million rural citizens in 292 woredas in Afar, Amhara, Dire Dawa, Harare, Oromiya, Somali, Southern Nations and Nationalities (SNNP) and Tigray Regions.

Families participating in the Safety Net Program are the poorest and most food insecure in their communities. They earn a monthly transfer by working on public works projects for six months each year. For those participants who are physically unable to work, the Program provides direct grants. Transfers are predictable and timely, thereby enabling families to plan ahead to meet their food needs and preventing the sale of productive assets.

The PSNP goes beyond providing safety nets; it aims to address the underlying causes of food insecurity. Planned within an integrated watershed management framework, the public works under PSNP are designed to reverse a long history of environmental degradation and increased vulnerability to adverse weather. Since 2008, the Program became more flexible, able to scale-up the coverage, level, and duration of support to households in response to shocks in PSNP areas.

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Recent reviews demonstrate that the Safety Net Program has registered some impressive results since its launch in 2005. Household food security has improved, especially when transfers are predictable and delivered on time. PSNP households reported a smaller food gap and consumed more calories (19.2%) in 2008 as compared with 2006.

Households participating in the PSNP have also invested in assets and have increased their use of education and health services. Growth in livestock holdings was 28.1% faster among PSNP households than non-participants. An estimated 73% of PSNP participants reported increased use of health facilities compared to the previous year, and the majority attributed this to the Safety Net Program.

There is strong evidence that the combination of the PSNP and investments in productive assets can improve agricultural productivity. Maize yields increased by 38% among households receiving both PSNP transfers and investments through the Government’s Food Security Program (FSP). Households that received FSP investments alone enjoyed only marginal increases in productivity.
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But more needs to be done. The third phase of the PSNP will strengthen implementation to maximize the impact of the Program and will institutionalize the risk financing component of the PSNP, which allows the Program to scale up in response to shocks.

The World Bank will also provide financing to support the Government’s Household Asset Building Program (HABP), which is designed to assist food insecure households in PSNP woredas to transform their productive systems by diversifying income sources, improving productivity and increasing productive assets. The support to the HABP aims to make the program more efficient and effective, thereby maximizing the combined impact of the HABP and PSNP so that together they can support sustained graduation from food insecurity for the poorest households.
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“Food aid to Ethiopia in the past was often too little, too late, which meant families were often forced to sell livestock, tools or other productive assets to meet their daily needs,” said William Wiseman, the projects’ task team leader. “These programs are different because they provide support that families can count on – and the infrastructure, credit, and training that they need for long-term food security.”

The Safety Net Program is supported by a consortium of donors, namely, the Governments of the United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United States, as well as by the European Union and the World Food Program.