Russian Press: Kosovo is the “End of Europe”

Posted in Chechnya, Kosovo, Media Matters, Russia with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 20, 2008 by desperatedispatch

While the United States, France and Britain have recognized Kosovo a day after Kosovo declared independence, many European states are reluctant to formally acknowledge the ethnically Albanian region.

Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovakia and Greece are among the states that have strong reservations about formally recognizing Kosovo.

A daily Russian newspaper, Argumenty i Fakty, claims many of these states have to tackle their own separatist conflicts. “The Kosovo precedent will inspire them,” the paper writes. “Time will show if Kosovo is the beginning of the end of Europe.”

A more liberal Rossijskaya Gazeta is equally fatalistic. “Kosovo marks the emergence of new principles of international law” where the United Nations is a legal “non-entity” and the “rule of force once again features as a key principle of world order.”

It is no surprise the Russian press is so strongly supporting the official position of the Russian government and its “last ally in the Balkans” according to Artyom Ulunyan, a Balkans specialist.

Serbian President Boris Tadic and Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica said Serbia would “never recognize an independent Kosovo” and have called the move “illegal”. Outside Serbia, Russia has been a vehement opponent of Kosovo’s announcement, calling an emergency meeting at the UN Security Council and campaigning to annul the Kosovar independence.

Somalia’s President Returns As Violence Intensifies

Posted in Somalia with tags , , , , , , on February 18, 2008 by desperatedispatch

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Chechnya’s Allegiance to the U.S. Dollar

Posted in Chechnya, Russia on January 31, 2008 by desperatedispatch

Some breakaway, war-ravaged, poverty-stricken republics just would not let go. While other states in Europe are embracing, and even cheering on the dollar’s decline, the Chechens remain loyal to the U.S. currency despite the advantages of the much stronger Euro.

According today’s Radio Free Europe report, Chechnya’s illegal currency market is one the few places in the world the U.S. dollar is still the currency of choice.

After a decade of war and no sources of independent media, it’s no wonder all reports in Chechnya are taken with a grain of salt. “Some people listen to forecasts that the dollar is falling, but most think that this is part of some kind of special politics,” Amina, a 59-year-old Grozny resident told RFERL. “They say past meltdowns, when people really suffered huge losses, were not predicted. People don’t trust analyses and forecasts about the dollar.”

Somalia Tops the Forbes Most Dangerous List

Posted in Somalia on January 29, 2008 by desperatedispatch

The Forbes magazine came up with the list of the world’s most dangerous destinations. Here is the rundown:

1. Somalia
2. Iraq
3. Afghanistan
4. Haiti
5. Pakistan
6. Sudan
7. Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
8. Lebanon
9. Zimbabwe
10. Palestinian Territories

AU Desperate for UN Help in Somalia

Posted in Somalia, Uncategorized on January 27, 2008 by desperatedispatch

In a latest attempt to secure U.N. peacekeeping force, the top African Union officials unveiled the four-point plan for peace in Somalia last week.

Somalia has not had a stable government since 1991. The capital Mogadishu has been a site of escalating violence since the U.S.-backed Ethiopian forces invaded Somalia and ousted the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) forces in December 2006.

The escalating violence over the past year has led to a humanitarian catastrophe Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the top UN official for Somalia, called “the worst on the continent”. The AU Peace and Security Commissioner Said Djinnit said last Wednesday Somalia is becoming Africa’s “biggest security challenge”.

The African Union’s Ugandan troops, which are currently patrolling the aiport,
seaport, and the Presidential Palace in Mogadishu, have been struggling to control pockets of the capital Mogadishu since deployment in January 2007. The AU has been very slow in delivering the 8,000 pledged troops with only 1,600 Ugandans deployed in 2007. Eight hundred and fifty Burundian troops joined this month.

The AU officials have welcomed a fact-finding United Nations mission has arrived in Mogadishu last week. The U.N. delegation of 12 is charged with assessing security and possibly deploying U.N. peacekeeping troops there.

Until now the United Nations has been hesitant to deploy troops. The UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in November that Somalia was “too dangerous” for U.N. peacekeepers or even a detailed assessment.

While the Ugandans have been successful in stabilizing limited areas and returning business in the seaport and Kilometer Four areas back to normal, large pockets of strategic areas, particularly the Bakara market, remain outside the Ugandans’ control. “We would like to take hold of Bakara, but we need more troops,” says Captain Paddy Ankunda, the Ugandans’ spokesman.

Five Ugandans have been killed and six injured last year. The AU Col. Peter Elwelu has been also hopeful the AU experience will encourage the U.N. and more AU countries to send troops.

The four-point plan proposed by the AU will focus on political process reconciliation of clan-based differences, greater international involvement in peacekeeping operations, creating a safe environment for humanitarian aid deliveries, and building the capacity of federal government institutions to face these and other impending challenges.

The Commission’s main concern and challenge is to convince the U.N. security Council to re-deploy the peacekeeping operation which was packed up 13 years ago.

“We believe Somalia has been abandoned for so long, and the Security Council remains the principal body in charge of the maintenance of international peace and security, and Somalia is becoming the biggest challenge for security in Africa,” said Said Djinnit. “So we are therefore calling for flexibility on the part of the United Nations in deciding as early as possible on the deployment of the peacekeeping operation to come and take over from the African Union.”

The plea does not mean the AU is prepared for immediate withdrawal from Somalia. The mandate of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) has been extended for an additional period of six months on January 18. “I don’t see us pulling out of Somalia soon,” Elwelu says.

Africa’s Worst

Posted in Somalia on January 2, 2008 by desperatedispatch

hawaabdicamp_girl-by-the-water-source.jpgAs the United Nations Security Council and secretary general deliberate about whether Somalia is too dangerous for authorizing a larger peacekeeping force, United Nations officials on the ground say the country is facing the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.

In the last two months, the security situation in the capital city of Mogadishu has steadily deteriorated, forcing over 600,000 refugees to flee the city. One million have been displaced in a country of 7 million, according to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Camps along the road connecting the market town of Afgooye with Mogadishu alone have received a surge of 200,000 refugees.

Ali Mohamed Said, a chairman at Mogadishu’s Bakara Market, the largest in the country, fled the city with his family when his workplace turned into a base for the Ethiopian troops who are fighting alongside the U.S.-backed transitional government against Islamist insurgents. “Everyone who could has fled,” he says, “I am living in trees with mosquitoes right now.”

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WPR: Putin is TIME’s ‘Person of the Year’

Posted in Pootie Poot, Russia with tags , , on January 2, 2008 by desperatedispatch

putintimecover.jpgVladimir Putin this week received an additional boost of support from an unlikely source: Time magazine’s editorial board. After the Russian president beat out former Vice President Al Gore and “Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling for the title of the magazine’s “person of the year,” a firestorm erupted in Russia over the meaning and possible ramifications of the title.

“He’s not a good guy, but he’s done extraordinary things,” Time Managing Editor Richard Stengel said on NBC’s “Today” show. “At significant cost to the principles and ideas that free nations prize, [Putin] has performed an extraordinary feat of leadership in imposing stability on a nation that has rarely known it.”

Pro-government newspapers and television channels in Russia have jumped on the story as the latest Western validation and recognition of Putin’s achievements.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov could hardly contain his glee. “We treat it as an acknowledgement of the role that was played by President Putin in helping to pull Russia out of the economic and social troubles of the 1990s, and restoring national pride in this country,” Peskov said.