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 39 – 2012

Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani
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Prisoners’ News

A-Transfers

  • Kurdish political prisoner Shahram Elyasi, servinglife imprisonment, transferred from Evin prison to Rajai Shahr prison

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Nursing mothers Zahra Nik-Aein and Taraneh Torabi sent to prison to serve their sentences along with their infants
  • Mehdi Rafsanjani arrested after being summoned to court on return from spending 2 years in the UK
  • Journalist & former Gorgan city council member, Abdolnaser Mahimani, arrested in Tehran while visiting his son
  • Adeleh Cheraghi arrested September 24. Her husband labor activist Alireza Askari recently released on bail
  • Ahmadinejad’s media advisor Aliakbar Javanfekr arrested & sent to Evin to start serving 6 months sentence
  • Mazandaran Uni student blogger Mani Tavakoli arrested on his way back home from Tehran. Whereabouts unknown
  • Activist Shokrollah Nazeri arrested after a search of his home. Whereabouts unknown
  • Prominent lawyer and member of the Defenders of Human Rights Centre, Mohammad-Ali Dadkhah, began his 9-year prison sentence in Evin
  • Hasan Maadikhah taken to Evin to serve his 2.5 year sentence

C-Liberations

  • Green activist Mohamad Rahbari was released on Sept 11 after completing 6 months
  • Esmaeil Salmanpour, a Sarand earthquake relief worker was re-arrested and re-released
  • Hamid-Reza Moseibian, Behrooz Alavi, Hooman Taheri, and Vahed Kholousi - detained earthquake relief volunteers – released on bail
  • Rajabali Dashab (Babak) released after serving 3 year sentence
  • Activist Ali Samadpour released on bail after 83 days in detention

D-Other News

  • Azari activist Hamidreza Ranjbar sentenced to 3 yrs+74 lashes by court in Tabriz
  • Azari activist Mohamad Ahadi summoned by Court in Khoi for second time in 3 months
  • Labour activist Farhad Ebrahimi summoned to appear in court in Sanandaj
  • Sepehrdad Saheban summoned to Branch 23 of Tehran Revolutionary Court
  • Deteriorating health condition of political prisoner Fayzollah Arabsorkhi. Medical treatment not provided
  • Death row prisoner Zaniar Moradi denied medical treatment
  • Mohammad Rigi convicted of drug trafficking was hanged in Evin
  • 8 inmates executed en-masse in Ghezelhesar prison
  • 5 people sentenced for their Facebook activities
  • Mahvash Sabet Shahriari, one of the Baha’i leaders, suffering from osteoporosis but denied hip replacement surgery
  • Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani

    Foad Khanjani in urgent need to be hospitalised for back problems

  • Detainee Mohamad Eskandarian in need of medical attention for damaged ear after torture during 4 months of detention without charge
  • In all, 11 prisoners in Rajaei Shahr prison are being denied urgent medical treatment
  • At least 7 prominent activist arrested in West Azerbaijan, Iran ; charges, status, and whereabouts unknown
  • At least 15 people executed in the last two days in Tehran and Karaj

News of injustice in Iran

  • Iran among the top six worst performers in Freedom House’s Net Freedom Report
  • 17 Sunni teachers banned from teaching in Kurdistan province
  • Shargh Daily, reformist paper,banned again. Managing Editor and cartoonist Hadi Heidari summoned by judiciary over a cartoon deemed insulting to army

University – Culture

  • Severe floods in Rasht
  • IMF: Iran is experiencing a brain drain at the rate of 180,000 individuals per year
  • Iran cleric declares that temporary marriage is the only option for widowed women
  • New iPhone 5 selling for equivalent of US$1,320 in Tehran bazaar

Protests

  • Iranian activists from US, Canada and Europe went to New York to protest Ahmadinejad’s speech. A group attacked and assaulted the IRI foreign ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast
  • 10,000 more workers signed a petition against living conditions

Iran Economy

  • Toman-US Dollar rates hit 2720; Gold coins reach new record high 1,400,000 Toman
  • Luxury car imports up 30%

Iran abroad

  • Turkish trade deficit falls on gold sales to Iran
  • Ahmadinejad made his final visit as President to the United Nations General Assembly in New York
  • France, Germany, Britain want more sanctions on Iran
  • Argentina and Iran to discuss 1990s bombings – after Argentina threatened to close its embassy in Tehran
  • Iran looking to build relations with Afghanistan and India through Chahbahar port
  • Swiss-based Vitol trades Iranian fuel oil, skirting sanctions
  • Head of the European Union demanded the release of Mousavi, Rahnavard and Karoubi & wants a meeting with them
  • India’s imports from Iran fell 5% between July and August

Politics in Iran

  • Iran made additional claims about what it calls “foreign sabotage”
  • Iranian Minister of Culture threatens to boycott the 2013 Oscars in the wake of the anti-Islam film

Miscellaneous

  • Iran readies domestic Internet, reportedly blocks Google, Gmail, etc
  • (again) and then had to provide regime personnel with circumvention tools so that they can maintain access. The Minister of Communications denied these reports.

News from Iran – Week 34 – 2012

mou_1
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News of the Prisoners

A- Transfers

  • Mir Hossein Moussavi taken to Hospital in Tehran because of a heart condition; Zahra Rahnavard was with him and their daughters could visit him. He returned from hospital the next day
Mou_1

 

B- Arrests/Incarcerations

  • Zhila Baniyaghoub hase been summoned to prison.
  • Ashura protester Behzad Arab Gol arrested three years ago summoned to Evin to serve 4-year sentence.
  • Journalist Mehdi Mahmoudian is back in prison.
  • Shiva Nazarahari has been summoned to prison.
  • Children’s rights activist Saeed Shirzad was arrested in Varzegan. He was there to help the earthquake victims. He begins a hunger strike to protest against his arrest.
  • Rayhaneh Tabatabaei has been summoned to prison.
  • Political prisoner Shahin Zeinali is back in Rejaei Shahr prison after 10 days out on furlough.
  • 22 men and women were arrested in Chaloos in a raid of a private party.
  • Police detained 35 people who were helping earthquake’s victims and transferred them to Tabriz prison ward controlled by  Intelligence ministry, 35 reported arrested among the following 41 names:
    • Farnaz and Mehrnaz Ahmadzadeh, Behrooz Alavi, Mohammad Arjomandirad, Mehri Baghbanbashi, Maziar and Morteza Esmailpour, Jafar Gholami, Navid Khanjani, Danial Hosseini, Vahed Kholousi, Ali Mahmoudi, Behrouz Oloomi, Milad Panahipour, Farid Rohani, Amir, Hasan and Hossein  Ronaghi-Maleki, Sadegh Rezaei-Gigloo, Amir Ronasi, Sepehrdad Saheban, Mohammad-Amin Salehi, Esmail Salmanpour, Mohsen Samei, Hamid Reza Masieian, Bahram Shojaei, Ali Taghdiri, Houman Taheri, Masoud Vafabakhsh , Shayan Vahdati
    • and Misagh Afshar, Shima Ghosheh, Rayhaneh Hesami, Kiana Karimpour, Narges Kheirollahi, Jafar Nezami, Esmail Rafati, Ahmad Ronaghi-Maleki , Nafiseh Saeedifard, Zahra Sayadi, Artemis Varzandeh, who were reported as released on bail the next day

 

C-Liberations

  • Pan-Iranist member Omid Dehdarzadeh has been released from Ahvaz prison.
  • Jalil Mohammadi, Worker activist has been released.

D-Other News

  • Habib Afshari, political prisoner sentenced to death, ends his hunger strike.
  • Rasoul Herdani on hunger strike in Evin 350.
  • Cyber police summoning private quake aid depositors.
  • Mostafa Sabeti, head of the Council of the Participation Front in Golestan Province received the order banning him from leaving Iran when he was at the airport about to go on a trip abroad

 
News of injustice in Iran

  • University of Texas physics student, Omid Kokabee’s 10-years prison sentence upheld in appeal court.
  • Gilan University student activist Omid Rezaei has been sentenced to 8 months in prison by the Appeals Court.

 
Protests

  • Workers protest management shuffle in copper industry.

 
Economy in Iran

  • Iran imports from Russia, largest item Wheat, non feedstock, total $425 million. Iran exports to Russia, largest line item Pistachios ~1/4 total of ~$90 million.
  • Iran exports to China, mostly petrochemicals and minerals, total ~$1 Billion three months since March 2012. Iran imports from China, mostly machinery, total ~ $860 million.
  • Iran exports to USA, largest item dried grapes ~ 1/4 of total of $360,000 three months since March 2012. Iran imports from USA, largest item wheat non feedstock ~ 1/2 of total of $51 million.

 
Iranabroad

  • Iran looks to Armenia to skirt bank sanctions.
  • 150-member delegation will accompany Indian PM in visit to Tehran.
  • Australia imposes new sanctions on Iran.
  • UN political chief criticizes Iran for sending weapons to Assad’s regime.

Politics in Iran

  • 12 women’s hospitals established in Iran.
  • Ali Saeedi, Khamenei representative at IRGC, said reformists can participate in upcoming presidential elections if they “repent”.
  • PDKI and Komeleh sign a strategic unity agreement.

Miscellaneous

  • Tractor soccer fans booed as Khamenei was shown on the big screen during the mid-week match, screen in disapproval of slow quake disaster response.

 

News from Iran – Week 33 – 2012
News from Iran – Week 32 – 2012
News from Iran – Week 31 – 2012