Political Punch-ups

Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party react as they fall down during scuffles with parliament security guards in Seoul
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If you’re not fighting, you’re not trying

“In a democracy, people usually get the kind of government they deserve, and they deserve what they get.” ~ Hunter Thompson

I am allergic to politics and politicians. I can never understand why some people like to fuss and fawn over them. At times it’s almost like hero worship, yet they are supposed to be servants of the public. All the scandals about politicians lying and cheating their way through life only reinforce my negative feelings. To further prove my point, here – in no particular order because there is no point trying to choose between them – are some examples of politicians behaving badly.

2013 – Venezuela

Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges arrives with a bruised face to his political party’s headquarters

2011 – Italy

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Claudio Barbato, left, a member of the opposition FLI party, fights with Fabio Ranieri, right, from the Northern League in Italy’s parliament in Rome. Photograph: Ansa/Reuters

2005 – Russia

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Members of the Rodina (Motherland) faction fight with deputies of the Russian Liberal-Democratic party during the State Duma session in Moscow in 2005. The Liberal-Democrats protested what they described as violations in the course of elections to the legislature of the Yamal-Nenets autonomous area and staged a walkout. As they made for the doors, some of them clashed with members of the Rodina party. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

2006 – Czech Republic

Political fights: political fisticuffs

The then Czech health minister, David Rath, in a punch-up with his right-wing rival, Miroslav Macek, during a meeting of disgruntled dentists in Prague. Macek, a presidential adviser and former deputy PM who is also a dentist, broke off an address to slap Rath hard on the back of the head. Rath responded by calling him a coward and the two men traded blows

2009 – Bolivia

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Bolivian opposition congressman Fernando Rodriguez, right, battles with an unidentified indigenous deputy of President Evo Morales’s party during a congress session in La Paz in 2009 Photograph: David Mercado/Reuters

2012 - Macedonia

In Macedonia, violent brawling broke out in parliament over the 2013 budget. Police in riot gear had to be called in to break up the fight.

Macedonian deputies and members of opposition Social-Democratic Alliance of Macedonia (SDSM) rescue fellow party member Vesna Bendevska (C) during a clash with Parliament security as they try to protect parliament speaker Trajko Veljanovski in Skopje December 24, 2012. REUTERS/Viktor Popovski

2011 – Kuwait

Kuwaiti Shiite and Sunni MPs fight during a heated parliament debate over inmates in the US Guantanamo detention centre. Yasser al Zayyat / AFP Photo

Kuwaiti Shiite and Sunni MPs fight during a heated parliament debate over inmates in the US Guantanamo detention centre. Yasser al Zayyat / AFP Photo

2010 – Ukraine

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Ukrainian opposition and pro-presidential lawmakers fight against each other during ratification of the Black Sea fleet deal with Russia, in parliament in Kiev, in 2010. Ukraine’s parliament voted to extend Russia’s lease of a Crimean naval port for the Black Sea fleet in a chaotic session during which eggs and smoke bombs were thrown Photograph: Efrem Lukatsky/AP

2010 – Mauritania

MPs Jamil Ould Mansour and Slama Ould Abdellahi manhandling each other after exchanging insults and profanities during a parliamentary session on the civil status law.

MPs Jamil Ould Mansour and Slama Ould Abdellahi manhandling each other after exchanging insults and profanities during a parliamentary session on the civil status law.

2009 – South Korea

Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party react as they fall down during scuffles with parliament security guards in Seoul

Lawmakers of the main opposition Democratic Party react as they fall down during scuffles with parliament security guards in Seoul

See also: Brawling Legislators in South Korea - Photo Essay – TIME

2007 – 2010 – Taiwan

Taipei reform bill

Taipei, Taiwan: Parliament dissolved into chaos over an electoral reform bill.

Taipei reform bill

Taipei, Taiwan 2007: Rival legislators exchanged punches and jostled violently for position around the speaker’s dais.

Political fights: political fisticuffs

Taiwanese ruling and opposition lawmakers brawl as discussions start on the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement planned with China in 2010, in Taipei. Pro-and anti-government lawmakers exchanged punches and threw garbage bins at each other in a raucous session in Taiwan’s legislature, after the speaker rejected an opposition bid to conduct a detailed debate on the contentious trade pact with China Photograph: Wally Santana/AP

Will #Mali’s new government herald arms or armies?

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In less time than it takes for an apartment pineapple to ripen, a new government of national unity has been formed in Mali in the latest effort to restore stability after the military coup in March. It follows 5 long months of political tug-of-war between the ready-meal interim government and the frozen-dinner coup leadership headed by Captain Sanogo. The Captain was persuaded to release his grip a little, after his palms were oiled with a palatial home and “former head of state” status – including a generous allowance. The cabinet has 31 ministers, including five from Sanogo’s camp. The head of the interim government, Cheick Modibo Diarra, stays on as prime minister. For now.

Early-stage pre-coup pineapple during US training

During this incubation period, interim President Dioncounda Traore was attacked, and spent several weeks recovering in Paris. No doubt he spent more of that time in the briefing room of  Boulevard Mortier  than in recovery. Shortly after Dioncounda returned to Mali, one of the former President’s elite Red Beret guards, Staff Sergeant Amadou Traore, was murdered in his barracks. That signal seems to have been received loud and clear; no further attacks on the interim president have been reported yet.

Last month, the regional bloc ECOWAS threatened to expel Mali unless a unity government was installed, according to the BBC. Yesterday, there were news reports of ECOWAS and Algeria [ar] barring military shipments to Mali. Meanwhile, Major General Suleiman Mahmoud al-Obeidi, Libya’s former Deputy Director of Military Intelligence and Chairman of the Republican Guard in Benghazi, reveals that, when there was a weapons amnesty and surrendering of arms in Libya last year, his unit alone boycotted the deal and instead their weapons passed to mercenaries from Egypt, for onward transfer to AQIM in Algeria and Mali. Doubly painful, as it was the ousted former president Touré, aka “ATT”, who said in February that they needed more military hardware to respond to the MNLA’s attacks, widely reported to be using massive fire-power brought back from Libya.

Weapons in 30 Days or Your Next Government Half Price

We need to wait to see if the formation of a new unity government defrosts the supply of arms, and whether they’ll be delivered by shipment or in person. Just last weekend, Al Jazeera Arabic reported a training exercise in Libya (irony alert) of 2,000 troops including 800 special forces from Great Britain, France, Spain and Italy, in preparation for an incursion into Malian territory. The training programme lasted from February to June. Here’s the video:

There are many competing theories about what is going on in Mali. One school of thought insists that the plan is, and always has been, to get the boots of foreign troops on the ground. However, just as with the reports of armed rebels severing someone’s hand as a punishment for stealing (and the victim later dying), and of their threat-or-promise to repeat the exercise with hundreds more after the Eid holiday, or even of the beheading* that UNHCR’s spokesperson Melissa Fleming claimed to have happened, there’s no way of knowing if the scenario portrayed in this video sheds light on the actual situation.

How can we figure Mali out? To butcher the old standard, “follow the ransom money” and we find food for thought. For example, fresh claims of Swiss support for the rebels appeared last week. This was denied by the MNLA as a rumour created by a Swiss journalist and promoted to a fact by a website in Mauritania, where the media has carved a niche for exclusive revelations about Mali.

I was anticipating more mention of Switzerland, after a Swiss woman was apparently taken hostage in Timbuctu by a private militia who planned to trade her to AQIM. The lady was reportedly “rescued” by Ansar Dine and released for an alleged 1 million Euro, in a deal where they demanded to liaise directly with the Swiss officials, rejecting the offer of a human rights NGO to mediate.  That event was soon followed by a spectacular betrayal of MNLA by Ansar Dine, who hijacked the uprising and forced the secular separatists into a retreat from which they have yet to emerge. Speculation about how the more radical supporters of religion achieved this feat includes the investment of ransom capital to buy supporters. There have been other kidnappings: three Westerners abducted nearly nine months ago by AQIM in Mali, seen today urging their governments to help free them in an Al-Jazeera television exclusive video, and the seven Algerian diplomatic staff taken from the embassy in Gao, three of whom were returned last month, shortly after the release of one Italian and two Spanish hostages. This last exchange was said to be accompanied by a few more million Euro and the release of two more prisoners – one assumed by some to be connected to the POLISARIO – who were being held in Mauritania for their part in the kidnapping of the three Europeans.

Within days Mauritania benefited from a capitulation by the EU (Note: the EU Africa team is led by a Spaniard) finally agreeing to their exorbitant new terms for renewing the fishing agreement, and an agreement from Spain to salvage the small aircraft “donated” to Mauritania in June last year to help in the fight against illegal immigrants, and which had remained, unairworthy and stranded on the tarmac, more or less the whole time.

This brings me to another stranded plane – the famous “Air Cocaine” Boeing jet from South America which landed/crashed just north of Gao in a village called Tarkint at the end of October 2009, and was reportedly torched by the smugglers after their cargo of drugs had been retrieved. The local mayor was known as an intermediary with AQIM for the release of kidnap victims.

The char grilled remains of “Air Cocaine” /JON SISTIAGA

“Air Cocaine” was registered in Saudi Arabia,  rented in Venezuela, and had made previous trips from Colombia  under a licence issued by Guinea Bissau, but which had expired at some point. The drug trafficking was said to be linked to AQIM, and this flight’s cargo could have been worth anything between 150 and 300 million Euro. Some of these details only became apparent much later, after WikiLeaks’ cables release, as the original investigation was handled by the intelligence services and shrouded in secrecy.  There were dozens of arrests, but few detentions or convictions in connection with this scandal. Then last week, we learned that the last two suspects, one French, one Spanish, had been released in Mali. The drug smuggling case against the Spaniard was thrown out.  This chap is a real charmer: a former Madrid policeman, until he was busted for trafficking, drugs, explosives, weapons, and counterfeit identity documents. He also had a suspended sentence in Mali connected to the gruesome murder [es] of a Colombian with a forged Ukrainian passport. He apparently plans to stay in Mali. One would hope he is short of alternatives but why leave Mali, when half the world is ready to come to you?

Additionally, a wealthy businessman from Tilemsi in the Gao region - Mohamed Ould Awaynat - who had been sentenced to one year in prison for his part in the trafficking scandal, was reportedly released in January this year, in an alleged deal with the Malian government. In exchange for his freedom, he is said to have paid to recruit and train northern fighters to boost the ranks of the army against the MNLA. They do say money makes the world go around. If you add massive cash flows from drug trafficking it begins to spin put of control. That is certainly what appears the be the case in Mali.

All these rebel groups in Mali seem like just so many finger puppets. But to which “invisible hand” do the fingers belong?

If you enjoy bizarre details – and you’ve got this far, so I should take that as given – then you might be further entertained by the fact that the article in the previous link, by Andy Morgan in Think Africa Press, was posted on FaceBook in a now lifeless MNLA group, requiring 14 comments to post in its entirety. The comment poster uses the name Ghazi Agizul and, although his bio says he’s a proud Amazigh from Tunisia, I found it odd that “Ghazi” used a translation tool to render the English original into French, which should be a natural language for him. That he didn’t post a link to Google Translate or use a Note instead of 14+ comments is not mysterious, only irritating. If it transpired that Andy Morgan and Ghazi Agizul were one and the same person, that would be interesting. It would also raise many general questions about the clandestine online and offline activities of certain people who present themselves publicly as working in the media, but that is a whole other story. Going back to the article itself, it’s too lengthy to analyse in depth but there are some factual errors, which always has the effect of eroding credibility. For example,  Mr Morgan claims to have spent years in northern Mali, yet placed Kati near Timbuktu. I wouldn’t blame him if the article was simply too long for him to cope with when it got to proof-reading.

Also in the WikiLeaked cable, we learn of another incident involving a plane:  US military making a “hard landing” 65 miles from Bamako, and receiving assistance. ATT was happy to help because “he knew the United States was coming to help Mali”. Sadly, nothing could be done to help the three US military and their three civilian companions who died in a vehicle accident in April this year. Will the US be coming to help again; will they feel they no longer need an invite?

Short of the IAEA declaring that there are nuclear weapons hidden in the barren wastelands of northern Mali, I wonder how many more UN agencies or NGOs can enter the fray, wringing their collective hands over the many unverified domestic dramas that they claim are engulfing this most coveted of would-be war zones, declaring every incident a war crime, and clamouring at the gates to be allowed in to rescue Mali from itself and the horrors of Sharia law’s unjust desserts.

As ATT noted in February, with a prescience we have yet to fully to appreciate: “There are many rumors. If we are not careful, we’ll fall into the hands of those who are attacking Mali and who want to oppose the government.”

*I assume Ms Fleming meant to say “stoning” – but there is no solid evidence of that having happened, either. If she did witness a beheading, I’d have liked her to verify in reply to my question, especially since her bio includes the phrase “Tweets highlight the stories of human suffering and resilience I witness every day.” [my emphasis].

Related Posts

Engineering color revolutions. Price tag: $20-120million (RT video)

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The US is the “foremost power” when it comes to creating and applying “color revolutions”: America invented the know-how and has the best experts in this area, political scientist Mateusz Piskorski told RT

Map of Color Revolutions. Created by User:Aris...

Color RevolutionsMap: Aris Katsaris. Photo credit: Wikipedia

RT: What are the key ingredients to start a color revolution?

Mateusz Piskorsky: There has to be a real political and social crisis, which may be an inspiration for those groups who protest. There is no color revolution without a social basis. Common consciousness of a real economic or social problem is needed to easily manipulate the protesting groups.

RT: So the problem has to be economic or social rather than a regime problem, like a dictatorship?

MP: Yes, about 90 per cent of every society, including the societies of Central and Eastern Europe, are first and foremost interested in their social and economic interests. Which means they don’t care about politics, the political system or the character of a political regime. They’re just worried about their economic prospects and possibilities of keeping their families on a certain social level. This is the most important factor in every revolution.

RT: What is the infrastructure behind a protest?

MP: Really professional coordination centers… secret from ordinary protesters, but functioning very effectively.

RT: What is the share of people power versus the power of the people who actually pull the strings?

MP: Every protester has his own interests to participate in the protest, but it is really very easy for him to lose his rationality and become a subject of “emotional engineering”.

RT: When people realize they have been subject to manipulation – what is their reaction?

MP: Usually they do not realize they are subject to manipulation. It’s a question of the so-called information area or mass-media.One of the very important factors in any color revolution is the control of mass-media. First you take control over alternative mass media which has good reliability in the opinion polls. Then you think about a color revolution.One of the decisive parts of a color revolution project is the media.This is not a war between the regime and the people. It is a conflict between PR specialists of the government on one hand and the protest movement, or some foreign powers engaged on the other.

RT: Talking about foreign powers – where does the funding come from for such [color revolution] projects?

MP: This is the most interesting question, and also the most guarded secret… Certain foundations from some western countries, including the US, funded protests in Ukraine and Belarus.

RT: Is the US always present in such conflicts?

)”]color revolution

color revolution (Photo credit: Ol.v!er [H2vPk

MP: I’m not sure about always, but it is in most of the conflicts. Another factor here – you have geopolitical interests. Every superpower like the US makes its decision: is it worth engaging, starting or igniting a color revolution or not? It is not only the US, but to be honest the US has the best experts in this area. The man who invented the whole technology is Gene Sharp [considered by many the world’s best expert on non-violent revolution, author of From Dictatorship to Democracy]. The US is the leading power when it comes to this technology, I can say.

RT: The US new ambassador in Russia Michael McFaul has admitted that America used to fund opposition movements and color revolutions but under a different administration, that it’s no longer done under the Obama administration. Do you believe that?

MP: I believe that Mr. McFaul is one of the best specialists and scholars working on color revolutions, including in Ukraine. He’s an expert. I don’t believe the US is not using this technology.Sometimes a color revolution may not end on a peaceful note and may proceed to a civil war, the case with Syria and Libya.

RT: How much can a project like installing a new regime in Ukraine in 2003 cost?

MP: Most of them range from $20 million to $120 million.

via US ‘world leader’ in color revolution engineering — RT.