Mauritania’s World Bank Bubble

Don't mention the workers from Mali
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Shameful waste! “Consultancy Project to recruit a Technical Assistant” the grand sum of $250,000 was apparently awarded in 2003 to a contractor, GEOIDD in Tunisia, for this basic recruitment service. But then follow the link from that page, and the project name is listed as Rajasthan, India. Are they just insanely sloppy or cooking the books?

Now it's Mauritania

Now it’s Mauritania

and now it's Rajasthan

and now it’s Rajasthan

Here is another – a “study” worth $246,000 awarded to a company “TANSITEC” in Switzerland, which also links to Rajasthan, not Mauritania.

Almost half a million dollars on two items, and what is there to show for it?

Even a cursory examination of the “consultancy” and “study” and “audit” costs, over the life of this 11 year development programme, will show money being squandered on costly but nonsensical projects like the ones above, with little or no immediately apparent or tangible benefits. This programme began before General Aziz staged his military coup in 2008, continuing after he came to power, and it indicates widespread mismanagement and/or corruption on an international scale.

Just one example of a questionable Mauritanian infrastructure and development project was for urban development in Atar, where Mauritanian company Macoba TP (part of the AZIZI group) and Spanish construction company Franjuan were appointed to work with local contractors. Seven local firms were reportedly involved, and they engaged 100 labourers - including some from Mali – to install 46,600 square meters of paving covering 4km of drainage pipes and gutters. The news item posted 7 October 2011 about this project on cridem.org has “vanished” (still visible via the Internet Archive here). Mention of labour from Mali is a big clue for the story disappearing – this project was supposed to create work for Mauritanians, not Malians.

Don't mention the workers from Mali

Don’t mention the workers from Mali

Also missing is the World Bank website page about the contract which went to Macoba-Franjuan (still visible on a Chinese site that published a copy, here). The decision to remove evidence of this project may indicate that World Bank prefers not to have anyone look too closely at the bid and tender process for standards compliance. We can be sure that China would be more than interested, since they bid on many construction projects in Mauritania.

Some of the images from the October news item are missing but you can see some photos on the Adrar info site here, from January 2012, when the mayor was chuffed with himself about how well the project was going, and here in August the same year, when several snags and unfinished areas were highlighted.

This paving project was part of a larger, long-term, Urban Development Programme with a total budget of almost US$100  million funded by various international organizations via the World Bank . The project closed 30 June 2012, and the details page and reports are available here in English. The stats, such as exist, are baffling. Atar is the regional capital of the state of Adrar and boasts a population of more than 24,000, who celebrated completion of the drainage project on 28 June 2012. This begs the question why there is such a small increase reported (8,305 – from 17,000 in 2011 to 25,305 in 2012) in the number of people, in all urban capitals across the country, provided with improved drainage services.

Woman from the Leimghetty neighbourhood of Dar Naim near Nouakchott shows her legal title to build on the land where the state just destroyed her home and is now ignoring demands for re-housing or compensation

Woman from the Leimghetty neighbourhood of Dar Naim near Nouakchott shows her legal title to build on the land where the state just destroyed her home and is now ignoring demands for re-housing or compensation

My current theory is this: they don’t care about the numbers, or where the money seems to be going, or even whether some of the projects are imaginary, because the purpose of the entire shambolic scam is to line the pockets of corrupt officials whose companies, and those of their cronies, profit from contracts to undertake the various “improvements”. This buys the required mix of compliance and silence so that, once real estate prices have been boosted by roads, drainage, etc, even more financial shenanigans can take place, as the already wealthy endlessly shuffle their ill-gotten gains around.

I further assume this is the reason for evicting tens of thousands of the poorest people in Mauritania from their hovels. In a recent example, dozens of families in Leimghetty [ar] have been left homeless for over a month after the national guard sent in bulldozers to destroy their huts – over their heads in some cases. All this happened even as the government was issuing advice to citizens to “stay indoors” during the hottest parts of the day, as temperatures soared to 50 degrees Celsius. The homeless families have been completely ignored by officials from the interior ministry, who are under orders to clear the land and to hell with the people, even the most vulnerable such as the elderly, infirm, and mothers with babies, who are slowly being grilled into oblivion under the scorching sun. Don’t think for one moment that the World Bank is not aware of this. They are aware and they do not care. In fact, they want these slums demolished, and they note that :

“The amount paid by low-income people to have access to land property rights is very low as compared to the existing land market value. Depending on local conditions, additional arrangements needs to be put in place to ensure that only targeted people are benefitting from such programs, and will keep this benefit.”

No doubt they are looking forward to a property price boom.

News from Iran – Week 06 – 2013

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Prisoners News

A- Transfers

 

  • Political prisoner Ahmadreza Ahmadpour suffering from multitude of illnesses hospitalized due to medicine administrated at prison.
  • Adel Naeemi transferred from Evin to Rejaei Shahr.

 

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

 

  • Two weeks after release on furlough Mahsa Amrabadi returned to Evin prison
  • Senior Reformist Feyzollah Arabsorkhi was returned to Evin from hospital before completing treatment.
  • Dr. Latif Hasani, Azari activist, arrested.
  • Graduate student Khaled Mohammadi was arrested last week, whereabouts unknown.
  • Shahram Radmehr, Azari activist, arrested.

 

C-Liberations

 

  • Ali Dehghan, journalist, released on bail.
  • Political prisoner Zahra Mansouri has been released on medical furlough, she suffers from breast cancer
  • Mohammad Tavakoli the detained member of Teachers’ Union in Kermanshah released on 50 million tomans bail.

 

D-Other News

 

  • Dervishes on hunger strike Saleh Moradi and Kasra Nouri forced to sign a letter stating health OK.
  • 3 political prisoners in Rajai Shahr denied family visit because they refused to wear a prison uniform.


News of injustice in Iran

  • Sentence reduced to 1 year + 600 Toman fine for 85 years old prisoner Mohammad Hossein Nakhaei.
  • After 7 years in prison an Afghan citizen was executed in Varamin prison.
  • 3 hangings in Isfahan’s prison on Tuesday


University – Culture

  • Iran lifted the block on Tabnak news website, close to Mohsen Rezaee.
  • Baztab site reports it has been under heavy cyber-attack.


Iran Economics

  • Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad’s Road Department workers have not received their salaries for 6 months.


Politics in Iran

  • Ahmadinejad appointed General Mohammad Hassan Nami as acting Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
  • Reformists will participate in presidential election says former minister.
  • The Parliament impeached Ahmadenejad’s Labor Minister with, 56 against, 24 abstained & 192 yes votes
  • Mortazavi arrested on Monday for corruption and released on Tuesday.
  • On supreme leader’s orders, Justice Minister, Sadegh Larijani, gives up suing Ahmadinejad for defamation.


Iran  abroad

  • Bank melli ex manager Mahmoud Reza Khavari wanted by Interpol for fraud.
  • Salehi, in separate meetings, held talks with UN Special Envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Syrian opposition leader, Mouaz Al-Khatib.
  • Egypt’s Morsi greets Iranian president upon his arrival in Cairo for historic visit.
  • European Union court ruled that EU should lift sanctions it imposed on one of Iran’s largest banks, Bank Saderat
  • In a unilateral decision, Foreign Minister Salehi announced Egyptian citizens visiting Iran will no longer require a visa.


Miscellaneous

  • $40m oil rig being built for Iran by an Australian crew sank and disappeared into the deep.

 

News from Iran – Week 05 – 2013

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Prisoners’ News

A- Transfers

 

  • Student activist Amir Chamani moved to workshop section from the quarantine ward in Central prison, Tabriz.
  • Pan-Iranist member Milad Deghan [43 days of interrogation in solitary ] moved to Ward 8 in Karoon Prison
  • Political prisoner Reza Sharifi Boukani was moved from RajaeiShahr, Karaj to ward 209 in Evin in Tehran.

 

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

 

  • Sasan Aghaie, journalist, arrested.
  • Pouria Alemi, journalist, arrested.
  • Emily Amraee, journalist, arrested.
  • Saba Azarpeik, Journalist, arrested
  • Javad Daliri, journalist, arrested.
  • Soran Daneshvar, Kurdish student, arrested in Marivan.
  • Ali Dehghan, journalist in Bahar newspaper, arrested.
  • Milad Fadaei Asl, head of the political section of ILNA news agency, arrested.
  • Taher Faghih, student of Ayatollah Dastgheib, arrested in Shiraz.
  • Davar Ghasemi, Kurdish student, arrested in Marivan.
  • Narges Joodeki, journalist, arrested.
  • Saman Mahmoudi, Kurdish student, arrested in Marivan.
  • Keyvan Mehregan, journalist arrested.
  • Journalist Soleiman Mohammadi arrested.
  • Zana Moeini, Kurdish student, arrested in Marivan.
  • Ali-Akbar Montajebi, journalist, arrested.
  • Pezhman Mousavi, journalist, arrested.
  • Fatemeh Sagharchi, journalist, arrested.
  • Motahereh Shafiei, journalist, arrested and released the day after.
  • Arash Shaltooki, dervish Gonabadi, arrested in Isfahan and sent to Evin.
  • Reyhaneh Tabatabaie, journalist, arrested.
  • Nasrin Takhiri, journalist, arrested.
  • Hossein Yaghchi, journalist, arrested.

 

C-Liberations

 

  • Popular singer Arya Aramnejad released from Babol prison after serving out his sentence.
  • Imprisoned Freedom Movement of Iran member Jafar Ganji granted a prison furlough to attend mother’s funeral.
  • Editor-in-Chief of Maghreb, Mohammad Mehdi Emami-Naseri, released after 120 days.
  • Participation Front member, journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian has been released on furlough.
  • Didar Raufi freed from Rajaei Shahr at the end of his sentence

 

D-Other News

 

  • Gonabadi Dervish, Hamid Moradi was beaten severely in ward 209 of Evin.
  • Imprisoned Zoroastrian citizen Abolfazl (Pouria) Shahpari denied furlough to visit mother undergoing chemotherapy.


News of injustice in Iran

  • Pastor Saeed Abedini has been sentenced to 8 years in prison.
  • Gonabadi Dervish, Ali Moazami, sentenced to 2 years in prison by the judge Salavati in Tehran.
  • Amputation carried out in Sari prison – Four fingers were amputated.
  • 6 executions in Esfahan prison on Sunday of which 2 women.
  • One man hanged in Myaneh prison on Monday.
  • One man hanged in Tabriz prison on Tuesday.
  • 5 executions in Kerman prison on Wednesday.


University – Culture

  • Hamed Malek Abadi, Azari activist, sentenced to 6 months in prison.
  • Sama and Sirus Sabeti expelled from Babol University because they are Baha’i.
  • Tabnak news website, close to conservative Mohsen Rezaei, blocked by Iranian Authorities.
  • Iran authorities have blocked Baztab Emrooz and Iranian History websites.
  • Offices of Reformist newspapers Etemad, Bahar, Aseman  and Shargh raided by security forces.
  • Iranian cyberattacks target Radio Farda journalists.


Protests

  • A group of sugar cane cutters of the Karun Agro-industrial Complex in Shushtar have held a protest rally outside the President’s office in Tehran for 7 consecutive day.


Iran Economics

  • $1 = from 3800 to 3900 Toman – Euro 1 = from 5200 to 5300 toman on Wednesday.
  • $1 = above Toman – Euro 1 = 5500 toman on Thursday.


Politics in Iran

  • Iranian Guardian Council approves watered-down election law.
  • Accused former prosecutor Saeed Mortazavi removed from position.


Iran  abroad

  • Omar Hakim, President of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, arrived in Iran.
  • Hossein Amir Abdollahian, Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs, traveled to Jordan.
  • Large arms shipment intercepted off Yemen, Iran eyed as source.
  • India to open cultural center in Iran
  • Academic delegation from China visits Iran.
  • Europe’s highest court annuls EU sanctions against Bank Mellat.


Miscellaneous

  • Explosion at Fordow nuclear facility -trapped 240 workers in underground ; Iran authorities deny same.
  • Iran sends a monkey into space.
  • Iran’s one and only Geopark dropped from UNESCO list.

 

 

News from Iran – Week 04 – 2013

Mohammad Seddigh Kaboudvand
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Prisoners’ News

A- Transfers

 

  • Student activist Amir Chamani has been transferred from Tabriz Intel detention to Tabriz prison.
  • Human rights attorney Abdolfatah Soltani was transferred back to Evin 350 from Sina hospital.
  • Mehdi Tahaghoghi transferred to Rejaei Shahr  .

 

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

 

  • Reza and Ali Akbari Monfared (father and son) were arrested 2 weeks ago.
  • Mohammad Tavakoli, member of Teachers’ Union of Kurdistan, arrested.
  • Bita Hedayati, Hana Koushkbaghi, Nahid Mahmoudi, Vesagh Sanaei, 4 Baha’i from Gonbad-e-Kavous, arrested.
  • Baha’i Shayda Taeeid was arrested in a raid of her home in Nour.
  • Head of the Kurdistan human rights organization, Mohammad Sedigh Kaboudvand is back in prison, furlough not extended
  • Furlough extension was denied, lawyer and member of banned Human Rights organisation,  Nasrin Sotoudeh returned to prison.

 

C-Liberations

 

  • Sina Aghdasi, Baha’i, released on bail from Tabriz prison.
  • Journalist Bahman Ahmadi Amouee arrested June 09 released on his first furlough since arrest; wife Zhila Baniyagoub is in prison.
  • 2 journalists, Mahsa Amrabadi and husband Masoud Bastani, released on furlough.
  • Behrooz Ghobadi, brother of filmmaker Bahman, released from prison.
  • Iraj Najafabadi, workers’ rights activist, released on bail in Isfahan.
  • Women’s rights activist and blogger Fereshteh Shirazi has been released from prison.
  • Ahmad Zeidabadi, released on furlough on bail.

 

D-Other News

 

  • Hardline cleric A. Khazali met with his estranged son Mehdi Khazali in Evin Prison.


News of injustice in Iran

  • Vahid Asghari’s death sentence was confirmed. Case sent back to the Supreme Court again.
  • Siavosh Ghanbari has been sentenced to 10 months on charges of collaboration with banned Kurdish group
  • Sentence of 1 year in prison upheld by Appeals for Afsaneh Toghi.
  • One public execution in Urmiah on Sunday.
  • 2 public executions in front of House of Artists in Tehran on Sunday.
  • 3 executions in Zahedan on Sunday.
  • Sentence of fingers amputation of a man convicted of burglary was carried out in public in Shiraz using a special machine created for the purpose.
  • 3 executions on Tuesday.
  • One public execution on Wednesday.
  • One execution in Shahroud on Thursday.
  • One execution in Khorramdareh.
  • 3 executions in Chubin prison.


University – Culture

  • Graphic novelist Marjane Satrapi will debut her paintings in Paris this month.


Protests

  • Retired workers protest at Abadan Petrochemical Company.
  • Protest rally against layoffs at construction company Nasr Jihad.
  • Wave of large-scale protests at most major oil refineries.


Iran Economics

  • $1 over 3500 tomans again.
  • 87,000 retired steel workers have not been paid for the last 3 months.
  • 17 million Iranians to receive food coupons.


Politics in Iran

  • Ex-president Khatami strongly criticizes absence of free elections and political activities in Iran.
  • Political parties compelled to declare funding sources.
  • Parliament receives notice to impeach the Labor Minister.


Iran  abroad

  • Turkey lifts ban on Iranian cargo plane carrying 1.5 tons of gold from Ghana to Iran.
  • First visit to Iran by Russian interior minister since 1979 Revolution.
  • Majlis Speaker arrives in Sudan. He meets with Sudanese President.
  • China freezes $25 billions Iranian assets; they can be released against Chinese goods paid in Yuan.


Miscellaneous

  • A 5.5 magnitude earthquake shook Syrch near Kerman, cell communications have been cut, land line disruptions in the area.
 

News from Iran – Week 36 – 2012

Blogger Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki: From Threat of Execution to Reduced Sentence of 15yrs
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Prisoners’ News

A. Transfers

  • Dr. Nader Babaei transferred handcuffed and shackled to hospital with internal bleeding.
  • Massoud Bastani and Keyvan Samimi were transferred to solitary confinement at Rajaei Shahr Prison.
  • Iran’s oldest political prisoner, Abbas Amir-Entezam, discharged from hospital and allowed to go home.
  • On day 17 of hunger strike, political prisoner Rasoul Herdani has been moved to Evin clinic in poor health.

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Critic and blogger Ahmad Nourmohammadi Abadchi was arrested in Ahvaz and transferred to Isfahan Intel detention
  • Five days after release, political prisoner Hadi Amini re-arrested.
  • Journalist Zhila Baniyaghoub arrived at Evin Prison to begin serving her one-year sentence.
  • Ebrahim Fakhri arrested in Maku for attending a session of poetry in Turkish language.
  • Hashem Hosseinpanahi, Kurdish activist, arrested.
  • Babak Mohsennezhad, photographer, arrested when taking pictures in Maku.
  • Professor at online Baha’i University, Keyvan Rahimian, summoned to serve his 5-year sentence.
  • Mohammad-Hasan Yousef-Pourseifi, human rights activist, reported to Evin to start serving his 5.5 year sentence.

C-Liberations

Akbar Amini

  • Vahdat Dana, Baha’i from Shiraz, freed after serving his sentence.
  • Akbar Amini released on bail.
  • Iman Rashidi, Fariba Ashtari, Farhanaz Misaghian, Shabnam Motahed, and Nategh Naeemi, Baha’i from Yazd, freed on 50 million Toman bail each.
  • Fariborz Baghi, Baha’i from Yazd, freed on 80 million Toman bail.
  • Sina Aghdaszadeh and Shayan Tafazoli,Baha’i from Mashhad, freed on 100 million Toman bail each.
  • Hossein Yazdi, reformist politician arrested last week released.

D-Other News

  • Muzaffar Dadi, ‎‎24, who had been incarcerated in Bandar Abbas Prison, died after being violently beaten by guards.
  • Wife of political activist and former prisoner Mohammad Esmail-Zadeh beaten by security forces commander, her teeth and jaw broken.
  • Hossein Ronaghi-Maleki suffering from internal bleeding in his kidneys after beatings and hunger strike

News of injustice in Iran

Behzad Nabavi

 

  • Human Rights activist and Zanjan Payame Noor University student Davoud Khodakarami has been sentenced to 4 months suspended for 4 years.
  • Journalist and political activist Mohammadsafar Lafoti has been sentenced to 5 years suspended sentence and a 5 year ban from political or journalism activities
  • New charges have been pressed against senior reformist Behzad Nabavi, imprisoned in IRGC’s ward 2A.
  • 3 executions in Rajaei Shahr prison.


University – Culture

  • First phase of the national internet has been installed in 28 of Iran’s 31 provinces.
  • Tehran Times Managing Director, Reza Moghaddasi, and Isaac Chipampe, Managing Director of Zambia’s Daily Mail, signed a cooperation agreement with the goal of improving socio-cultural relations between Iran and Zambia.


Iran Economics

  • Isfahan Petrochemical Complex shut down due to oil shortages.
  • Iran suspends $2.6B gas project with Chinese consortium.
  • 5 million day laborers deprived of benefits of the labor law.
  • Workers protesting the bankruptcy verdict of Avangaan manufacturer of transmission towers: 100 workers laid off.
  • $ 1 = 2,200 Toman on Wednesday, 2,250 on Thursday
  • Russia has taken over the market for Iranian oil in Turkey.


Iran  abroad

  • Iran and North Korea sign technological cooperation agreement, deepening ties.
  • Bahrain demands apologies from Iran further to translation of Morsi speech during NAM.
  • Alleged spy ring for Iran revealed by visual records in Turkey.
  • Iran Supplying Syrian Military via Iraqi Airspace.
  • Canada lists Iran as “state sponsor of terrorism” for support of Assad regime in Syria. Canada has closed its embassy in Iran, effective immediately, and declared personae non gratae all remaining Iranian diplomats in Canada.
  • Ahmadinejad appoints Reza Nazar-Ahari, former ambassador to Finland, as Iran’‎s new ambassador to Japan.


Politics in Iran

  • Revolutionary Guards killed a member of the PDKI, Esmail Kargar, in Shno.
  • Khamenei’s rep in IRGC: Regime’s legitimacy does NOT lie in people’s vote – while admitting that thousands of protesters and dissidents had been arrested after the 2009 election.
  • 7 Ayatollahs in Qom call execution of political opponents legally indefensible.
  • IRGC wants to establish seminary schools.
  • Security forcibly closes 15 businesses in Qazvin for not strictly observing the rules and values of Islam.
  • Iran’s next presidential election set for June 14 2013.


Miscellaneous

  • 21 medals, of which 9 gold for Iran during the London 2012 Paralympics.