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ERITREA’s FAILED DREAM

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After the Eritrean independence war ended in 1991, Eritreans threw themselves into reconstructing the country’s shattered infrastructure, with whole villages helping out to build small dams, terrace-eroded hillsides, and plant thousands of trees. Photos by Dan Connell.

Once a revolution is over, how do you judge its success? A victory for Mao’s vision of the People’s Republic of China was not exactly a victory for the people of China. A glorious, clean revolution isn’t easy. Look at Russia, France, Cambodia, Iran. Look at Egypt today. In the coming decades, we will see the result of revolutions played out across the Arab world and, quite possibly, across Europe as well. Will they be deemed successes by anyone other than the victors?

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A crucial, but little reported, example of a hard fought revolution and its troubling aftermath can be found in the Horn of Africa.

Twenty years ago, Eritrea—in the northeast of Africa—became a legally independent nation, having won its de-facto independence from Ethiopia two years earlier, in 1991. This independence was the end result of a 30-year war with Ethiopia. The revolutionaries who won the war were heroes, champions of freedom standing up against an oppressive, murderous Ethiopian regime backed by the Soviet Union and tacitly supported by the West. They had reestablished an independent Eritrean nation and the future looked bright. But revolutionary opposition and day-to-day power are two totally different things. Once you’ve gotten used to glorious victories, the thrills of red tape and responsibility may well be lost on you. As such, creating a free and democratic society is a total pain in the ass.

Eritrea had been an Italian colony since 1890, Ethiopia since 1935. After the Second World War, Eritrea became part of Ethiopia but maintained a measure of independence. In 1962, and in contravention of a UN resolution, Ethiopia annexed Eritrea. The UN and other world powers looked on, unwilling to jeopardize their relationship with the strategically-vital Ethiopia. As John Foster Dulles, who would go on to be the United States’ secretary of state, said in 1950, “From the standpoint of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interest of the United States in the Red Sea basin and considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country has to be linked with our ally, Ethiopia.” Eritrea had been screwed.


An EPLF member outside Asmara, 1979.

When Eritrea gained its independence in the early 1990s, it was the Marxist revolutionary group The Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) that took power in Asmara, the nation’s capital, having fought a long and hard guerrilla war against Ethiopia. With their ruthless discipline, encouragement of abstinence and collective focus, the EPLF were—in the words of one leading Eritrean historian—“the most successful liberation movement in Africa.” They were tough, and while their intolerance of dissent galvanized their fighting potential, it merely made them tyrants once they were in power.

Led by Isaias Afewerki, they continued their flair for strong, Marxist-sounding names by becoming the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ). And, with Isaias front and center, the PFDJ has remained in power ever since independence.

Today, criticism of the government is not tolerated. Only four religions are officially recognized. Worship in any other church and you’ll be persecuted. There is no civil society to speak of and, every month, kids cross the border to escape national service, which has no fixed end and is essentially a form of government-sponsored slavery. The United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR) estimates the number of fleeing Eritreans at 1,000 a month (it’s worth noting that escaping means going through the Sahara into mine-strewn Ethiopia while avoiding being shot by border guards). Reporters Without Borders ranks Eritrea 178th out of 178 in the world for press freedom, which basically means anything approaching journalism is banned.


A UN-supplied refugee camp near the border of Ethiopia, accommodating some of the thousands of Eritreans who flee across the border every year.

By 2012, hundreds of thousands of young Eritreans had fled the country to escape the deepening political repression and to avoid what had become open-ended national service in both the armed forces and state and party-controlled businesses. Three hundred refugees were showing up in Ethiopia each month and being placed in UN-supplied camps near the border.

In May, to coincide with Eritrea’s 20th anniversary celebrations, Amnesty International released a damning report entitled Eritrea: 20 Years of Independence, but Still No Freedom. The report claims that there are, at minimum, 10,000 prisoners being held illegally without trial in Eritrea. The human rights organization’s Eritrea researcher, Claire Beston, told me that this figure did not include those people jailed for “avoiding national service or trying to flee the country.” The report is littered with the testimony of people who have been affected by the actions of the government:

“I last saw my father at the beginning of 2007, they took him away from our house. I know nothing about what happened afterward.”

“This generation, everyone has gone through the prison at least once. Everyone I met in prison has been in prison two or three times.”

“Everybody has to confess what he’s done. They hit me so many times… Many people were getting disabled at that military camp. During the night they would take them to a remote area, tie them up, and beat them on their back.”

There are many more like this. It’s not exactly light summer reading.


The 1984 to ’85 African famine put Eritrea’s war for independence on hold as the liberation front trucked aid into the country to prevent both mass starvation and a wholesale exodus from the contested areas. Ethiopia sought to isolate the Eritreans using food as a weapon.

Tesfamichael Gerahtu, Eritrea’s ambassador to the UK and Ireland, told me that while Eritrea have “some challenges in human rights,” there “are no people incarcerated on the basis of their political beliefs.” The Eritrean Ministry of Foreign Affairs released an angrily-worded response that rejected Amnesty’s “wild accusations.” The release concluded that Amnesty would ignore the 20th anniversary celebrations, “smug in its selfrighteous belief that it can, with impunity, attack and denigrate a young nation, which despite many odds, manages to progress and improve the lives of its citizens.”

Amnesty’s Claire Beston told me that Eritrea’s refusal to acknowledge its illegal detention of its own people was “incredibly disappointing for the families of those affected.” Additionally, she pointed out that Eritrea’s imprisonment of innocent people was in direct contravention with a number of international treaties it had signed up to. Drawing parallels with another country known for imprisoning innocent citizens, the human rights activist Khataza Gondwe has referred to Eritrea as “Africa’s North Korea.”

Eritrea, then, has not become the country many hoped for. “I don’t think there is anyone who doesn’t believe that promises were betrayed,” Eritrean exile Gaim Kibreab—a university professor and author of Eritrea: A Dream Deferred—told me. Kibreab left Eritrea in 1976. For him, the actions of the current government “affect us all. I have relatives in Sudanese refugee camps. I have dear friends in prison in Eritrea.” The deferred dream of a free Eritrea was not just Kibreab’s, but one shared by many of his countrymen, though possibly not Isaias Afewerki and his revolutionary army.

Kibreab wishes for a pluralist democracy in which there is a free press and a flourishing civil society. But was this ever going to be a realistic proposition for a group of hardened guerrilla warriors at the end of a 30-year struggle? Decades of uninterrupted power is probably a closer approximation of Isaias’ dreams. He’s said to be full of contempt for humanity, to be a big drinker and a mean drunk. He’s a human rights violator and a petty thug who’s known to break bottles over people’s heads once he’s had a few.

As such, being boss probably suits him just fine. His former foreign minister, Petros Solomon, a key fighter and comrade in the revolution, was imprisoned in 2001 for speaking out against the government as part of the G-15 group of dissidents, who wrote an open letter to Isaias denouncing the lack of freedom in Eritrea. Solomon has not been heard from since his imprisonment.


Petros Solomon in an underground bunker in the frontline town of Nakfa, in 1979.

Some ex-revolutionary fighters and other defenders of the Eritrean government are scornful of exiled, “so-called intellectuals” like Gaim Kibreab. They believe that the people who now talk about human rights in Eritrea are hypocrites, people who didn’t fight and stand up for the violation of Eritrean human rights in the 60s, 70s, and 80s. There is still a significant amount of support for Isaias in the Eritrean diaspora. The Eritrean ambassador told me that “you must respect that we have had our human rights violated,” in relation to Ethiopia’s annexing of—and then war with—Eritrea, as well as the international support of Ethiopia.

Kibreab, in a way, agrees with him. He told me that when you talk about Eritrea, you have to talk about Ethiopia, which—secure in its importance strategically to the United States—has continued to run roughshod over Eritrea and, in doing so, has alienated Eritrea from the rest of the world. A world that now regards it as a small rogue state with a potential for Islamism, while viewing Ethiopia as a large, roguish, but vital state—a key ally in the “War on Terror.”

“The international community,” Kibreab pointed out, “has never been charitable to the Eritrean government. But if they moved towards liberal democracy, they’d help themselves.” However, this lack of support is worth remembering, particularly since it has been true ever since John Foster Dulles admitted that Eritrea was to be the victim in an international power game. Freedom from the machinations of foreign powers was one of the driving forces of the revolution. Now, still isolated, Isaias and his government continue to battle on, proudly proclaiming survival in the face of international contempt.


In 1998, the Eritreans went back to war with Ethiopia. The country’s youth were quickly mobilized to go back into the trenches.

The interminable military service, for example, makes some sense in the context of Ethiopian aggression. In 1998, the two countries went to war over a small portion of disputed territory surrounding the barren, rock-strewn town of Badme. The war, which lasted for over two years and resulted in the death of up to 100,000 soldiers, was described as “two bald men fighting over a comb.”

Since the end of the war, Ethiopia has failed to recognize an international court ruling that stipulates that Badme is part of Eritrea. Eritrean government officials have repeatedly told me that if Ethiopia recognized the boundary, they would be ready to make friends with their neighbors. Ethiopia funds many of the strands of opposition in Eritrea and, along with the United States, plays a crucial role in a paranoid narrative put forward by the Eritrean government: that Eritrea’s very existence is under constant threat from dark powers beyond its borders.

There is an element of truth to this, but of course Isaias and his government spin it out for all its worth. As far as propaganda goes, Ethiopia is Isaias’ greatest ally.


An EPLF member outside Asmara, 1979.

What I’m also talking about here, when I talk about Eritrea at 20 years, is the difference between the idealism of revolutionary opposition and the practical day-to-day reality of running a government. After years in the mountains fighting a guerrilla war, how was a revolutionary movement going to smoothly transition into power? Just like with the Taliban in Afghanistan, we’ve seen that life in grizzled, iconic opposition is perhaps not the best preparation for a calm, moral government. In opposition, those around Isaias let him do what needed to be done. There was a sense that he was “our bastard.” But, since then, the bastard has never stopped.

Ex-revolutionaries in Eritrea are often characterized as great drinkers, good talkers, and terrible diplomats. They grew up fighting in a revolutionary struggle, and the intricacies of international diplomacy were not for them. Paranoid and wary of showing weakness, they have punished innocent people for their own failings.

This is the sadness of all revolutionary dreams turned sour: the reality of freedom is never the same as the promise of freedom. It’s unlikely that when the EPLF were fighting for their country’s independence they looked up at that East African sky and thought: We dream that some day we will imprison people without trial, that our people will do anything they can to escape the country, that our youth will be locked into national service and that there will be no such thing as journalism.

Every generation reacts against the previous one, though. Isaias is getting old, and with the post-independence generation now 20 years old, the next few years could see some upheaval, hopefully for the better, in Eritrea.

Follow Oscar on Twitter: @oscarrickettnow

See more of Dan’s work at danconnell.net.

More stories about troubled African countries:

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US Al-Amriki is on run from Alshabab and the US

Nairobi – An American extremist in Somalia is fighting former comrades in the al-Qaeda linked Shabaab insurgent group, in what he says may be his final stand, he writes.

Alabama-born Omar Hamami – better known as Al-Amriki or “the American” – once fought alongside the hardline Shabaab in Somalia, but last year fell out with the fighters who now want to kill him.

He is also wanted by the US government, who have placed a $5m bounty on his head and is listed on the FBI‘s Most Wanted Terrorists list.

“We were forced to fight in self defence and killed three and wounded others,” he wrote in a message on Twitter, posted late on Monday.

“May not find another chance to Tweet but just remember what we said and what we stood for. God kept me alive to deliver the message to the ummah [community].”

Hamami, 28, moved to Somalia in 2006 and began to work for Shabaab recruiting young trainees through his English-language rap songs and videos, but later split from the main wing of the Shabaab.

“They raided our houses and took our stuff, and said they found condoms, alcohol, and documents,” he added, writing from an undisclosed location in Somalia. “Their goal is to kill us regardless of reason.”

Last week he claimed a Shabaab gunmen tried to assassinate him while he was drinking tea in a cafe, posting a photograph of himself dripping with blood from where he said the pistol bullet grazed his throat.

“They are sending forces from multiple directions,” he wrote last week. “We are few but might get back up.”

Born in 1984 to a Syrian Muslim father and a white Protestant mother, Hamami was raised as a Christian but began to feel estranged from his upbringing as teenager before moving to Somalia.

“‘I’m on a mission from God’, minus the blues music”, he wrote last week, an apparent reference to the 1980 Blues Brothers film, an American musical comedy.

– AFP

Al Shabab says they have got newly recruited fighters. Hundreds of the newly recruited fighters, mostly masked young men were seen matching the road between Ambareeso village and Baraawe town.

Mogadishu (RBC) Militant fighters in Somalia, Al Shabab said they have got newly recruited fighters and that they will boost up their rebellion activities against Somali government and the African Union forces [AMISOM], Al Shabab commander said.

Hundreds of the newly recruited fighters, mostly masked young men were seen matching the road between Ambareeso village and Baraawe town, the only Al Shabab’s stronghold in Middle Shabelle region, 350 km south of Somalia capital..

Al Shabab’s Middle Shabelle region commander Mohamed abu Cabdalla who addressed the young fighters vowed they will destroy the bases of AMISOM and Somali government forces.

“You are the braves of the Mujahidin, your duty is to liberate the land of Muslims from the christian invaders.” abu Cabdalla told the young masked men holding AK-47, Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPGs), Mortars, Anti Aircraft guns.

 

Al Shabab says they have got newly recruited fighters. Hundreds of trained fighters were seen marching near Baraawe town.

A pro-Al Shabab cleric Sheikh Jama Abdisalam said the new fighters have shown their willingness to fight for the religion and to return back what he called as “Al Shabab’s lost power” in Somalia.

“We are waiting for you as we look how you are committed to regain the power of the Xarakah [group] in this land.” Sheikh Abdisalam said.

He also warned them to avoid internal conflict referring to the recent foiled kill attempt against Omar Hamammi, American-born Al Shabab member attacked by other Al Shabab rival group in Baay region of southern Somalia.  Hamammi posted pictures of showing his injured wounds and blamed the attack for Al Shabab leaders.

Hundreds of masked men holding AK47, RPGs and mortars marched the road that links between Ambareeso village and Baraawe town, 350 km south of Somalia capital.

Al Shabab’s Sunday maneuver in Baraawe town becomes the biggest military show up in southern Somalia since the group lost large swathes of land in southern Somalia following heavy military assault by the government forces backed by the African Union mission.

Hundreds of the newly recruited fighters, mostly masked young men were seen matching the road between Ambareeso village and Baraawe town, the only Al Shabab’s stronghold in Middle Shabelle region.

The show up came as Somalia government warned three weeks ago that the extremist group was gathering a lured teenagers to fight for them.

 

Al Shabab in Somalia shows military power after receiving newly recruited fighters.

 

Hundreds of the newly recruited fighters, mostly masked young men were seen matching the road between Ambareeso village and Baraawe town, the only Al Shabab’s stronghold in Middle Shabelle region, 350 km south of Somalia capital..

RBC Radio

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First African dictator to be condemned by ICC Charles Taller paved the way for the African dictators like Issias Afewerki, Melese Zenawie etc…

Charles Taller the First African dictator to be condemned by ICC paved the way for the  African dictators like  Issias Afewerki, Melese Zenawie  etc…

 

Charles Taylor (1990)

Eritrean president Isaias Afwerki in joint press briefing in Asmara, December, 10, 2002. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Former President of Liberia 1997-2003 is “criminally responsible” to provide weapons, in exchange for diamonds, the rebel Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, killing dozens of mutilated and enslaved thousands of people, according to the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL). In the horn of Africa Isaias Afwerki have prepared and trained the undefeated Alshabab with over 11’000 AMISON solider to this day and is training thousands to this day to destabilize the region and Somalia since 1991.

Taller ex-guerrillas and ex-con in the United States, was born 29th Taylor January 1948 at Arthington, 25 kilometers northeast of the Liberian capital of Monrovia in a family of fifteen brothers.

After studying economics at Boston University (USA), returned to Liberia in April 1980 after the military coup, to join the government of Samuel Doe, who was to manage procurement.

But the charge did not last long because in 1983 he was the embezzlement of over a million dollars to an account in the U.S., after he fled to this country accused, where he was arrested and sent to prison, but in 1985 he escaped from prison along with four other prisoners saw the bars of a disused laundry.

English: Muammar Qaddafi, the Libyan chief of ...

In is exile in Libya , the protection of Muammar al-Qaddafi decided enjoyed, and later in the Ivory Coast, where he founded the National Patriotic Forces of Liberia (NPFL) like that  of Isaias Afwerki  and Melese Zenawie supported and financed by dead Libyan dictator while in struggle. He even declared in his parliaments in 1991” Melese is converted in Libya to get the money.”

24th December 1989, more than four years after escaping from prison in the U.S., Taylor in the Ivorian city of Nimbi on the Liberian border again, at the top of the NPFL and came with his troops to Liberia in an attempt to Doe, who eventually assassinated in September 1990, to overthrow.

 Charles had an impact on the civil war in Liberia (1990-1995), with thousands dead and nearly a million refugees.

He was involved after the intervention of the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the various factions in the conflict, in Abuja (Nigeria) signed a peace agreement on 20 August 1995, was created by the body, transition ruled the country until the elections in July 1997.

Taylor, in his new group, the National Patriotic Party won (PNP) , the election with 75.32 percent of the vote, despite his campaign slogan “He killed my mother, My father was killed, but you will agree. ”

According to experts from the African country, why the Presidency of Liberia, Taylor has been so strong campaign of terror and anguish of the people to start a new civil war, when he defeated was.

During his tenure, Taylor provided arms to the rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in Sierra Leone, one of the stakeholder groups from the civil war in this country that has killed and maimed tens of thousands of enslaved people and to exploit than the diamond mines of the country. In parallel the the horn of  African student of Mohammed Kaddafi Isasias Afwerki with hundreds of training camps to destabilize the region not realy helping them for the liberation of their country but as a proxy by it own ends are working thousands to work in the farm and the new find gold mines.

In return, Taylor received RUF these gems , the so-called “blood diamonds”  while Isaias helps him to get a continues  support by the Mediterranean dead dictator of Libya .

In May 2001 the UN imposed sanctions on Liberia, and two years later, in June 2003 accused the Special Court in Sierra Leone, founded in 1996 and supported by the United Nations, against Taylor for war crimes and crimes humanity. The same was with Eritrea two sanctioned one in 2006 and 2011 nothing changes to this day.

For Taller in 1 August approved in 2003 by the UN to send a multinational peacekeeping force in the country and the day after Taylor resigned, after which they began their exile in Calabar announced (Nigeria).

29th March 2006 Taller  was arrested while trying to flee Nigeria, knowing that the Nigerian government had accepted his deportation and extradition to the Liberian authorities.

On the same day  rasladado in Freetown (Sierra Leone) was where he caught , and soon afterwards the Dutch government agreed that the trial was held in The Hague while the United Kingdom agreed that Taylor to serve his sentence in one of its prisons.

20th June 2006, Taylor came to The Hague court on eleven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including murder and mutilation of civilians, with women and girls as sex slaves and forced recruitment of children and adults in exchange for smuggling. The Eritrean deadly dictator also forces children to become his proxy fighters form Tigerian region of Ethiopia.

The process began in June 2007 and he said more than 110 witnesses, including the model Naomi Campbell, whose dictator was “blood diamonds” have to.

In March 2011, was negotiating for the test seen and after more than a year of deliberations, the Special Court for Sierra Leone on 26 April convicted and announced the sentence today.

 

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Geo-strategy on growth and defense between G8 and NATO with Russia

According to CNN rescent report  President Barack Obama and fellow leaders at the Group of Eight meeting he hosted Saturday put job creation and economic growth at the top of their to-do list.
Merkel, second from right, talks with Medvedev, right, during a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G8 Summit.
“(They) must be our top priority. A stable growing European economy is in everybody’s best interest, including the United States’,” Obama told reporters after the two-day Camp David retreat in Maryland concluded.
At the same time, leaders stated “that the right measures are not the same for each of us.”
The G8 meeting was one of two high-stakes, back-to-back weekend summits scheduled over the weekend. On Sunday, NATO kicks off its two-day summit in Chicago, with a focus on the Afghanistan ,Syria and Iran.
Authorities announced Saturday that three people were charged with planning violent attacks during the Chicago summit.
The men, termed “self-proclaimed anarchists” by authorities, allegedly conspired to attack Obama’s Chicago campaign headquarters, the Chicago mayor’s home and police stations, authorities said. An Illinois judge set bail at $1.5 million for each of the three suspects arrested Wednesday.
The 10 members of the G8 Summit pose for a group portait at Camp David, Maryland. Left to right: European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Japanese PM Yoshihiko Noda, Canadian PM Stephen Harper, French President Francois Hollande, U.S. President Barack Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British PM David Cameron, Italian PM Mario Monti and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

Obama: G8 unified in approach to Iran

Summit protesters, including those affiliated with Occupy Chicago, held rallies Saturday.
G8 leaders — from the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Russia — issued a declaration detailing their commitment to ensuring adequate energy and dealing with climate change; providing food security and nutrition in Africa; promoting democratic transitions in the Middle East; and supporting political transition in Syria. They reiterated “grave concern” over Iran’s nuclear program and the need to ensure an adequate oil supply.
But it was the global economy dominated that dominated the Camp David sessions.
The group dealt with an economically weakened, debt-laden Europe and faced the questions of whether massive deficit cuts trumpeted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel or economic stimulus will help the continent grow its way out of the current crisis. The language in their declaration Saturday appeared to focus as much on growth as austerity.
While discussing economic challenges and progress in the United States, Obama said the eurozone is more complicated.
“There are 17 countries in the eurozone that need to come to an agreement,” the president said, citing the crisis affecting Greece and other nations. “Europe has taken significant steps to manage the crisis.”
Hanging over the deliberations was the fate of Greece, which has been unable to form an elected government. Many analysts believe that Athens will be forced to exit the eurozone shortly, dropping the euro currency and possibly further rattling economic confidence.
“We welcome the ongoing discussion in Europe on how to generate growth, while maintaining a firm commitment to implement fiscal consolidation to be assessed on a structural basis,” the leaders said in a statement.
“We agree on the importance of a strong and cohesive eurozone for global stability and recovery, and we affirm our interest in Greece remaining in the eurozone while respecting its commitments. We all have an interest in the success of specific measures to strengthen the resilience of the eurozone and growth in Europe.”
 Obama and other members of the G* Summit review documents at Camp David.
The group also addressed the effects of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear ambitions. Iran says it wants nuclear power for peaceful purposes, but world powers fear that it is working to develop nuclear weaponry.
Tough sanctions on Iran are slated to take effect June 28, and a full embargo of Iranian oil by the European Union is set for July 1. There is concern about whether a sufficient supply of oil and oil products from other countries will make up for a lack of Iranian oil.
“There have been increasing disruptions in the supply of oil to the global market over the past several months, which pose a substantial risk to global economic growth. In response, major producers have increased their output while drawing prudently on excess capacity,” the G8 leaders said in a statement. They said they stood ready to call upon the International Energy Agency to take appropriate action to ensure that the market is fully and timely supplied.
Mike Froman, a White House national security adviser for international economic affairs, said the atmosphere at the summit was congenial and there was “very good interaction” among European leaders.
No one was defensive as the leaders shared their perspectives on the need to deal with debt and deficits and the importance of promoting economic growth. That included Merkel, a proponent of tough austerity measures, and newly elected French President Francois Hollande, who has different views on austerity and growth.
There was agreement among the leaders that North Korea faces further isolation if it continues its pursuit of a nuclear program.
Obama said the group believes that a “peaceful resolution and a political transition is preferable” in Syria and the group said it is “deeply concerned about violence and loss of life.”
The world leaders support U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point peace plan to end the 14-month crisis in Syria, an initiative that calls for a cease-fire. While all of the nations back the Annan plan at the U.N. Security Council, there have been differences between Russia and China and other nations on how to tackle the crisis in Syria.
The United States and other countries have urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step aside and have initiated tough sanctions against the government. Russia and China’s stated position is to call for an end to violence, but through diplomacy and negotiation, not official sanctions.
Earlier Saturday, Obama said leaders are hopeful about the dramatic political transition in Myanmar, also known as Burma.
“On a brighter note, we had the opportunity to discuss Burma, and all of us are hopeful that the political process and transition and transformation that is beginning to take place there takes root.”
A few hundred activists with ties to Ethiopia protested the invitation of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to the G8 summit. They rallied in Thurmont, the town nearest Camp David. They decried Zenawi’s rule as authoritarian. An Ethiopian journalist Ababa Gelaw affronted and  intercepted  the speech of the African dictator.
On Sunday, the war in Afghanistan is expected to dominate discussions at the NATO summit. Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Zardari are both expected to attend the meeting.
NATO leaders are currently on a timetable to withdraw all of the alliance’s combat troops from Afghanistan in 2014.
Senior administration officials tell CNN that NATO members have tentatively agreed on a security transition plan from NATO’s International Security Assistance Force to the Afghan National Security Forces before 2014. The plan, which also lays out a NATO training and advisory role after 2014, is expected to be formally adopted at the summit.
One of the key issues to be discussed in Chicago is who will pay to build up Afghan security forces during and after the NATO drawdown. Afghan national security forces should total around 350,000 by 2015, according to CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. Karzai’s government can afford to cover only a fraction of the cost, which is expected to total roughly $4 billion annually after 2014, Bergen notes.
Non-U.S. ISAF countries are being asked to come up with $1.3 billion, the officials said.
Another issue is Islamabad’s continued blockade of much-needed NATO supplies over Pakistani roads to Afghanistan. Pakistan has kept its airspace open but closed its ground routes after the death of about two dozen Pakistani soldiers in November at the hands of NATO forces at a post on the Afghan-Pakistan border. NATO insists that the incident was an accident. Negotiations on the issue continue, the senior administration officials said.
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Five minutes to dooms day the “end of the world as we know”

It is not only the Mayan Calendar which announces  the end of the world as we know but also the Atomic Scientists’ “Doomsday Clock” is set at 5 minutes to midnight but may tick forward or backward at any moment in 2012.  The Doomsday Clock came into being in 1947 as a way for atomic scientists to warn the world of the dangers of nuclear weapons. That year, the Bulletin set the time at seven minutes to midnight, with midnight symbolizing humanity’s destruction. By 1949, it was at three minutes to midnight as the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union deteriorated. In 1953, after the first test of the hydrogen bomb, the doomsday clock ticked to two minutes until midnight. According to Robert Socolow, a Princeton professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and a member of the Bulletin’s Science and Security board. “Talks on climate change have resulted in little progress, the panel found. In fact, politics seemed to trump science in discussions over the last two years. We need the political leadership to affirm the primacy of science as a way of knowing, or problems will be far worse than they are already.”     ——- Scientists today set the hands of the infamous “Doomsday Clock” forward one minute from two years ago. The clock is a symbol of the threat of humanity’s imminent destruction from nuclear or biological weapons, climate change and other human-caused disasters.   “It is now five minutes to midnight,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) director Kennette Benedict announced at a press conference in Washington, D.C. This announces  symbolic step closer to doomsday, a change from the clock’s previous mark of six minutes to midnight, set in January 2010. In order for  deliberations  how to update the clock’s time, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists focused on the current state of nuclear arsenals around the globe, disastrous events such as the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, and biosecurity issues such as the creation of an airborne H5N1 flu strain. The Bulletin — and the clock ­— were at their most optimistic in 1991, when the Cold War thawed and the United States and Russia began cutting their arsenals. That year, the Bulletin set the clock at 17 minutes to midnight. From then until 2010, however, it was a gradual creep back toward destruction, as hopes of total nuclear disarmament vanished and threats of nuclear terrorism and climate change reared their heads. In 2010, the Bulletin found some hope in arms reduction treaties and international climate talks and nudged the minute hand of the Doomsday Clock back to six minutes from midnight from its previous post at five to midnight. With today’s decision, the Bulletin repudiated that optimism. The panel considers a mix of long-term trends and immediate events in the decision-making process, said Benedict. Trends might include factors like improved solar energy technology to combat climate change, she said, while political events such as the recent United Nations climate meeting in Durban play a role as well. This year, the Fukushima nuclear disaster made a big impression. “We’re trying to weight whether that was a wake-up call, whether it will make people take a closer look at this new and very powerful technology, or whether people will go on with business as usual,” Benedict told LiveScience on Monday in an interview before the announcement of the “doomsday time” decision. [Top 10 Alternative Energy Bets] Other factors that played into the decision included the growing interest in nuclear power from countries such as Turkey, Indonesia and the United Arab Emirates, Benedict said. The Bulletin panel found that despite hopes of global agreements about nuclear weapons, nuclear power and climate change in 2010, little progress has been made. Lawrence Krauss, an Arizona State University professor and the co-chair of the BAS Board of Sponsors declared the  the coming doom :- “The world still has approximately over 20,000 deployed nuclear weapons with enough power to destroy the world’s inhabitants many times over,” said “We also have the prospect of nuclear weapons being used by terrorist non-state actors.”

CountryWarheads active/total[nb 1]Year of first testCTBT status
The five nuclear-weapon states under the NPT
United States United States1,950 / 8,500[3]1945 (“Trinity“)Signatory
Russia Russia (former  Soviet Union)2,430 / 11,000[3]1949 (“RDS-1“)Ratifier
United Kingdom United Kingdom160 / 225[3]1952 (“Hurricane“)Ratifier
France France290 / 300[3]1960 (“Gerboise Bleue“)Ratifier
China China180 / 240[3]1964 (“596“)Signatory
Non-NPT nuclear powers
India Indian.a. / 80–100[3]1974 (“Smiling Buddha“)Non-signatory
Pakistan Pakistann.a. / 90–110[3]1998 (“Chagai-I“)Non-signatory
North Korea North Korean.a. / <10[3]2006 (2006 test)Non-signatory
Undeclared nuclear powers
Israel Israeln.a. / 80–200[3][4]possibly 1979 (See Vela Incident)Signatory


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