Tunisian authorities plan to charge some of the 87 rioters arrested for storming the US embassy in September with endangering state security, seeking the death penalty for them, their lawyers say. The assault was caused by US-made anti-Islamic movie.
Lawyers Anouar Ouled Ali and Mondher Charni, representing the 87 activists remaining in custody, have claimed the prosecution seeks to accuse some of the defendants of a threat to national security which, considering the state of emergency in Tunisia introduced in January 2011, could mean a death sentence.
The violent protests in Tunisia on September 14 were officially caused by the kitsch movie Innocence of Muslims, mocking the Prophet Mohammed. The film was privately produced in the US.
Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) are providing non-military assistance in Syria and Iran may get involved militarily if its closest ally comes under attack, commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said on Sunday.
WASHINGTON/KHARTOUM – The United States ordered non-essential staff to leave its embassies in Tunisia and Sudan on Saturday after both diplomatic posts were attacked and Khartoum rejected a U.S. request to send a platoon of Marines to bolster security at its mission there.
“Given the security situation in Tunis and Khartoum, the U.S. State Department has ordered the departure of all family members and non-emergency personnel from both posts, and issued parallel travel warnings to American citizens,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement.
From the Arabian Spring of hope (although technically protesting soaring food prices, something which is about to happen all over again) to the Arabian Fall of anti-American revulsion in under two years: has to be a blowback record. The latest casualty: the German embassy in Sudan:
Protestors now inside German Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan – RTRS
Protesters pull down emblem at German embassy in Sudan, raise Islamic flag, Reuters witness says – RTRS
Protesters set KFC restaurant on fire in Lebanon over pope’s visit, anti-Islam film -RTRS
The White House announced plans on Monday to help “Arab Spring” countries swept by revolutions with more than $800 million in economic aid, while maintaining U.S. military aid to Egypt.
In his annual budget message to Congress, President Barack Obama asked that military aid to Egypt be kept at the level of recent years — $1.3 billion — despite a crisis triggered by an Egyptian probe targeting American democracy activists.
The proposals are part of Obama’s budget request for fiscal year 2013, which begins October 1. His requests need the approval of Congress, where some lawmakers want to cut overseas spending to address U.S. budget shortfalls and are particularly angry at Egypt.
Obama proposed $51.6 billion in funding for the U.S. State Department and foreign aid overall, when $8.2 billion in assistance to war zones is included. The “core budget” for the category would increase by 1.6 percent, officials said.
Most of the economic aid for the Arab Spring countries — $770 million — would go to establish a new “Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund,” the president said in his budget plan.
It would also build on other programs for the area, including up to $2 billion in regional Overseas Private Investment Corporation financing, up to $1 billion in debt swaps for Egypt, and approximately $500 million in existing funds re-allocated to respond to the region last year, the budget document said.
It did not say how the Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund would be divided between countries, or give any other details of the plan.
Egypt has long been among the top recipients of U.S. aid, getting about $1.6 billion annually, mostly in military assistance. In fiscal 2012, $250 million of aid approved for Egypt was economic; $1.3 billion was military and there was a $60 million “enterprise fund” approved by Congress.
No U.S. assistance is moving to Egypt at the moment, U.S. lawmakers and their aides said last week. Some legislators favor cutting off aid to Egypt entirely if it does not drop accusations against American democracy activists and lift a travel ban on them.
Obama continued the practice of putting proposed foreign assistance for war zones in a separate account. This account, known as the “Overseas Contingency Operations,” includes $8.2 billion for the State Department and foreign aid.
It includes $3.3 billion for Afghanistan, $1 billion for Pakistan, and $4 billion for Iraq, where U.S. troops have left the country but the State Department has picked up some of their functions such as police training.
It’s stimulus funding — for the Middle East and North Africa.
President Obama’s budget plan includes $800 million in foreign aid to promote Arab Spring democracy and maintains $1.3 billion in assistance to Egypt — despite its recent arrest of Americans and pro-democracy activists.
Spending for the State Department and foreign aid for fiscal 2013 would increase by 13.8 percent, to $69 billion.
The $800 million Middle East and North Africa Incentive Fund “will provide incentives for long-term economic, political and trade reforms to countries in transition,” the White House spending document claimed.
The president did not spell out how the money would be divided by countries like Libya, Tunisia and Yemen, each of which has ousted or is rebelling against a longtime dictator or autocrat.
Left unclear, however, was whether any money would go to help dissidents overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The budget also includes $2.7 billion to help development in emerging lands like Haiti, Liberia, Myanmar and South Sudan.
The Egyptian set-aside faces a rocky road in Congress, with 16 Americans charged with funneling aid to nonprofits there.
The budget also includes $11.8 billion in aid for Iraq, $4.6 billion for Afghanistan and $2.4 billion for Pakistan, despite rising tensions.
Israel, meanwhile, would get $3.1 billion and fellow ally Jordan $300 million.
As for funding to fight the spread of HIV and AIDS, mostly in Africa, it would remain steady at $5.4 billion.
Even as Ben Ali was fleeing his country, his presidential palace continued to be a hoard of all the items he had “borrowed” over the decades.
As Al Arabiya reports, “Tunisia’s ousted president stashed diamonds, gold and wads of cash in secret spots around his palace in the impoverished country’s capital, according to video shown by state television on Saturday.”
The clip below shows the objects Ali was in too much of a hurry to pick up. Among these: wall safes full of cotton fiat, necklaces and other trinkets. Alas: not a single bar of silver or gold anywhere.
It seems the dictator may have lacked in PR skills, but he sure knew what to pick when fleeing the country.
The clip below (after the jump) shows parts of the spoils.
Tunisia’s ousted president stashed diamonds, gold and wads of cash in secret spots around his palace in the impoverished country’s capital, according to video shown by state television on Saturday.
Popular uprisings in January toppled president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of repressive rule, sending shockwaves through the rest of the Arab world and encouraging a similar revolution in Egypt.
Ben Ali hid treasures behind curtains and in secret compartments behind the palace library, according to the video broadcast by First National TV, which showed millions of dollars and euros, diamond necklaces and gold recovered from the palace in Tunis’ Sidi Bou Said district.
The broadcast said the riches would be redistributed to Tunisians, who have complained of rampant corruption during Ben Ali’s rule of the North African state. Tunisian GDP per capita is roughly $10 per day.
FORMER Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is “ailing and bedridden” and may have slipped into a coma, according to media reports.
The Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported that soon after resigning the presidency and moving to a resort in Sharm el-Sheikh, the 82-year-old – who resigned Friday after ruling Egypt for 30 years – was gravely ill and had slipped into a coma.
“Mubarak coma” was a top-trending term on Google yesterday.
Egypt’s ambassador to the US, Sameh Shoukry, told The Today Show that Mubarak “is possibly in somewhat of bad health”.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon — who has been in a coma for nearly five years — was moved to his ranch home from an Israeli hospital Friday.
The former prime minister has been situated at his ranch in the Negev Desert with elevators and other equipment to foster long-term care at his home, the New York Times reported. He will return to Sheba Medical Center to be monitored after several days off site, and will return home on a trial basis.
Dow Jones reports that wheat futures just hit a 29-month highs on “strong global demand.”
Per the newswire, Algeria bought 800,000 tons of milling wheat, with traders estimating the nation’s purchases for January at about 1.8M. Turkey and Jordan bought wheat last week after rising food prices helped fuel unrest in Tunisia.
“They’re saying, ‘Boy we’ve got to eat. We don’t know where wheat is going to be in a month,’ says PFG Best. CBOT March wheat ends up 18 1/4c at $8.56 1/2 a bushel, while KCBT March climbs 22 1/2c to $9.40 and MGE March jumps 21c to $9.77.
The chart shows the UBS Bloomberg constant maturity Wheat index which confirms the vicious loop of what surging prices and geopolitical instability means to wheat prices.
The higher the prices, the greater the scramble by developing (and soon developed) countries to acquire as much wheat as possible and hoard it, hoping to avoid Tunisia’s fate, which of course will lead to even greater price surges. And all of this ignores the impact of the Goblin in Chief, whose money printing fetish has earned him, in our books, the adjective ‘genocidal’.
Once China figures out what is going on, and rice prices finally explode as we fully expect they will, the world will figure out just why…The only silver lining – soon farming will be the most profitable profession in the world. And as bankers only go where the money is, Bernanke’s strategy may in fact lead to the first net natural outflow of bankers from Wall Street in history.
This is Webster Tarpley’s opinion and I do not agree with all of it.
Obama White House NSC Russia Director Michael McFaul Deploying IMF Shock Therapist Boris Nemtsov as Wheelhorse of Feeble “Stop Putin in 2012″ Bid
Awareness is growing around the world that the Wikileaks-Julian Assange theater of the absurd is radically inauthentic – a psyop. Wikileaks and its impaired boss represent a classic form of limited hangout or self-exposure, a kind of lurid striptease in which the front organization releases doctored and pre-selected materials provided by the intelligence agency with the intent of harming, not the CIA, nor the UK, nor the Israelis, but rather such classic CIA enemies’ list figures as Putin, Berlusconi, Karzai, Qaddafi, Rodriguez de Kirchner, etc. In Tunisia, derogatory material about ex-President Ben Ali leaked by Wikileaks has already brought a windfall for Langley in the form of the rare ouster of an entrenched Arab government.
At Foggy Bottom and Langley, a manic fit has been building since the flight of Ben Ali. US imperialist planners now believe they can re-launch their shopworn model of the color revolution, CIA people-power coup, or postmodern putsch against a whole series of countries in the Arab world and far beyond, including Italy. The color revolutions had been looking tarnished lately, as a result of the failure of the Twitter Revolution in Iran back in June 2009. Previously, the Cedars Revolution of 2005 had failed in Lebanon. The Orange Revolution in Ukraine had been rolled back with the ouster of NATO-IMF kleptocrats Yushchenko and Timoshenko. In Georgia, the Roses Revolution was increasingly discredited by the repressive and warmongering regime of fascist madman Saakashvili.
US Seeks to Mobilize a New Generation of Young Nihilists Across the Globe
But now, NSC, State, and CIA believe that the color revolution has a new lease on life, thanks to their estimate that the United States, because of Wikileaks and Assange, has captured the imagination of a new generation of young nihilists across the globe who are described as the post-9/11 generation, estranged from governments and opposition parties, and thus ready to follow Langley’s peroxide Pied Piper.
Assange started his intensive deployment phase this year with video of a Class A US war crime in Iraq, which was very graphic but which dealt with an incident which was already widely known. The second document dump focused on Iraq, but now the targeting had shifted to Prime Minister Maliki, and the Iranian asset whom the US by some strange coincidence was trying to oust as leader of Iraq in favor of the US puppet Allawi. With the third document dump, this time involving State Department cables, we found out much derogatory gossip about such classic CIA targets as Russian prime minister Putin, Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi, the Russian-Italian strategic alliance, President Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina, and President Karzai of Afghanistan, along with jabs at supposed US allies who need to be kept off-balance and dependent, including the Saudi Arabian royal family, French President Sarkozy, and others. Wikileaks thus directs the vast majority of its fire against figures who are part of the CIA’s enemies list.
No Equal Time for CIA Covert Operations
Assange also provides a splendid pretext for draconian censorship and limitations on the freedom of the internet. The totalitarian liberal Senator Feinstein wants to bring back Woodrow Wilson’s infamous Espionage Act of 1917 in honor of Assange. Assange must be seen not as an activist, not as a journalist, and not as an entertainer, but rather as a spook. John Young of Cryptome, according to some reports, has denounced Wikileaks, to which he formerly belonged, as a CIA front. In a December 29 RT interview, Young described the internet as “a very large-scale spying machine.”1 The internet is indeed a vast battlefield, where the intelligence agencies of the US-UK, China, Israel, Russia, and many others clash every hour of the day, with commercial spies, hackers, anarchists, cultists, mercenary trolls, and psychotics all getting into the act as well. Intelligence agencies deliberately feed real and doctored material to various websites, sometimes using their own disgruntled employees as cutouts, conduits, and go-betweens. This means among other things that Bradley Manning cannot be taken at face value, although it is also clear that he like anyone else should not be tortured.
Members of ‘The Family’ exerted total dominance of the Tunisian economy, owning banks, commercial enterprises, factories, tourist resorts and vast land holdings.
By conservative estimates Mr Ben Ali’s immediate family had a £5 billion fortune, while brothers and sisters of his hated wife Leila Trabelsis accumulated even greater wealth.
The official TAP news agency said a judge had accepted a petition by prosecutors to investigate bank accounts, real estate and other assets.
The hasty departure of 30 or more Ben Ali and Trabelsis family members has brought the Tunisian economy to its knees – 43 banks, 66 shops and 11 industrial plants have been destroyed since Mr Ben Ali fled.
Thirty-three members of Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali’s family have been arrested on suspicion of “crimes against Tunisia”, local television reported tonight, showing images of seized gold and jewellery.
“Investigations will be carried out in order for them to face justice,” said a statement read out on state television, citing an “official source”. The statement apologised for not giving more details about the deposed president’s family members, but showed gold and jewellery it said had been found in their possession.
The arrests came as Tunisia’s interim president, Foued Mebazaa, promised “a complete break with the past” in an attempt to calm fears that the revolution was being hijacked by the presence in his caretaker government of members of Ben Ali’s party.
Prime Minister Mohammed Ghannouchi has promised “total press freedom” and has abolished the Ministry of Information. Mr Zahar insisted there could be no retreat as “people simply will not accept the old ways returning, they want the right to be informed.” The first thing which will go from the magazine will be messages from President and Mrs Ben Ali in every issue. “We shall do something dramatic, we shall have news instead,” he said.
But freedom of expression brings problems for journalists in Tunisia. Hamene Zhoiss, 30, a reporter on Réalités, said: “Most of us had not been taught in our journalism courses how to ask critical questions. In my course we were openly told that we could not write the facts in many cases. So, this is a challenge for us, our readers do not trust us, we have to now produce work to get that trust.”
La Presse writer, Mouldi Mbarek, was regarded as a propagandist for the regime. “Yes we’ve made mistakes but it was not easy,” he said. “This was not a free country and we were victims as well as being complicit. All I ask now is that we should stay united.”
Switzerland’s federal council today agreed to freeze any assets of Tunisia’s ousted president and the incumbent leader of Ivory Coast.
The Swiss president, Micheline Calmy-Rey, told reporters the measures would take effect immediately and target Tunisia’s former president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and the Ivorian incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo.
Anger is growing on the streets as astonishing greed of former ruling dynasty is exposed, reports Kim Sengupta in Tunis
Leila Trabelsi is said to have collected a tonne and a half of gold in person from Tunisia’s central bank
The final act of the kleptocracy by the Ben Ali family was to steal one and a half tonnes of gold, with the president’s wife personally collecting the bullion from an initially reluctant but eventually browbeaten president of the country’s central bank.
Within hours the allegations – denied by the central bank – had been turned into slogans on the streets of Tunis in another demonstration, as protesters vented their fury at the former first family. “Hang them all, but let’s get our gold back first,” shouted a group marching along Avenue Bourguiba.
This may not be easy. Whereas Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali is now a guest of Saudi Arabia, supposedly in the same neighbourhood of Jeddah which once hosted another fallen African strongman, Idi Amin, the whereabouts of his spouse, Leila Trabelsi, is unclear. Some Tunisians say that Dubai, where she would go on shopping expeditions, is the destination, others say it is one of the central Asian republics.
The account of 53-year-old Ms Trabelsi’s great bank robbery, which netted an estimated £37.5m ($60m), came from the French secret service after the Finance Minister, Christine Lagarde, announced in Paris that movement of money from the former colony was under surveillance.
Ms Trabelsi, according to French security officials, went to the Bank of Tunisia on Friday with a small group of her staff and demanded that the gold be handed over to her office for safekeeping. When the bank president refused, a telephone call was said to have come from the president ordering that the handover should take place.
A few hours later the couple flew out of the country, with Mr Ben Ali deciding against delivering a valedictory speech. The jet initially headed for France, but, it is claimed, was diverted to Saudi Arabia after President Nicolas Sarkozy refused permission to land.
The cost of flour and salad oil has doubled in recent months, reaching record highs. A kilogram of sugar, which a few months ago cost 70 dinars, is now 150 dinars (£1.28). Unemployment stands at about 10% percent, the government says; independent organisations put it closer to 25%.
Latest Inflation Riot Tally: Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Yemen And Jordan
The Fed chairman is 100% confident inflation can be contained. Rapidly spreading rioting (5 countries so far) would take the under on that.
Twelve people were killed in overnight clashes in the Tunisian capital Tunis and the northeastern town of Ras Jebel, according to accounts from two medical sources and a witness on Friday.
Ten of the victims were killed after clashes in the capital, two sources from Charles Nicolle hospital told Reuters.
A witness from Ras Jebel, who identified herself as Narjes, said: “I saw two dead people with my own eyes after police fired at youth”.
Tunisian officials could not immediately be reached for a comment. It was not immediately clear whether the shootings took place before or after the country’s president ordered police to stop using lethal force against demonstrators.
Food price protests sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East reached Jordan on Friday, when hundreds of protesters chanted slogans against Prime Minister Samir al-Rifai in the southern city of Karak.
The peaceful protest was held despite hastily announced government measures to curb commodity and fuel prices. Similar demonstrations were held in three other towns and cities across the country, witnesses said.
“We are protesting the policies of the government — high prices and repeated taxation that made the Jordanian people revolt,” Tawfiq al-Batoush, a former head of Karak municipality, told Reuters at the protest outside Karak’s Al Omari mosque.
Three days ago, after riots in Algeria and Tunisia over high prices, unemployment and falling living standards, Jordan announced a $225 million package of cuts in the prices of some types of fuel and of staple products including sugar and rice.
Other Arab countries have taken similar steps. Libya abolished taxes and customs duties on food products and Morocco offered compensation to importers of soft milling wheat to keep supplies stable after a surge in grain prices.
Protests against price rises and unemployment moved from Tunisia to Morocco, where the streets of Rabat, yesterday, saw clashes between young protesters and police forces, which tried to prevent them from organizing a demonstration outside the Moroccan parliament, in protest against unemployment and high prices and the cost of living in Morocco
In Yemen, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh fired Minister of Oil and Chief Executive, the Yemen Petroleum Company Omar Arhabi, yesterday, due to a lack in the supply of petroleum products, not available in the market, which led to bottlenecks in front of gas stations and the creation of indignation among the citizens.
Not like there is much to add here, but we would like to add thatif a rising stock market was indiciative of “wealth” then the citizens of Zimbabwe have to be the richest people in the universe.
A supermarket is on fire after it was sacked and looted in Bizerte, Tunisia
Rioters burned the Tunisian capital’s main train station to the ground and sacked and looted shops in a wave of unrest after the North African nation’s president was forced from power by protesters.
The departure of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after 23 years of iron-fisted rule — demanded by protesters — appeared not to be enough to quell the unrest over soaring unemployment and corruption that has swept Tunisia for nearly a month.
An Associated Press photographer saw soldiers intervening this morning to try to stop looters from sacking a huge supermarket in the Ariana area, 20 miles north of the capital.
A helicopter circled low over the capital, apparently acting as a spotter for fires or pillaging. Gunfire was heard crackling anew in the mid-morning.
Overnight, public television station TV7 broadcast phone calls from residents of working-class neighborhoods on the capital’s outskirts, recounting attacks against their homes by knife-wielding assailants.
Fouad Mebazaa was sworn in as Tunisia’s acting leader today after the country’s longtime authoritarian president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and his family took refuge in Saudi Arabia, the result of angry street protests against the government. It marks the second time power in Tunisia has changed hands over the past twenty-four hours: The prime minister had announced just a day before that he was taking power from Ali, but he abruptly gave it up this morning. Complying with the rules of succession, the prime minister turned over authority to Mebazza, speaker of the Tunisian Parliament, who is expected to hold elections to form a new government within 60 days. Acting president Mebazaa said:
“Citizens, sons and daughters of our country of Tunis, in this important and urgent moment in the history of our beloved country, I appeal to all of you of various political parties, and nationalist organizations, and all civil society organizations to fight for the national interest and to respect the army’s command and the national security in security matters, and to preserve private and public property and to bring the return of peace and security in the hearts of the citizens.”
Meanwhile, gunshots are still being heard in the Tunisian capital. Nearly fifty people have been reported dead as a result of rioting at two Tunisian prisons. Soldiers, police officers and young men with guns are trying to keep the streets of downtown Tunis under lockdown. According to the Times, “Clouds of smoke from the burning and looting of a major supermarket hung over the bleached city skyline. Residents huddled in their homes for fear of the police.” The protests began following the self-immolation last month of a college-educated street vendor in the remote town of Sidi Bouzid who was frustrated by the lack of job prospects, and grew from grass roots through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
TUNIS (AFP) — Authorities struggled to contain escalating unrest in Tunisia on Tuesday as labour and human-rights activists said as many as 50 people had been killed in protests against unemployment.
The government said only 21 people had died in the three days of violence however and challenged critics to prove the higher toll.
As the United States said it was “deeply concerned” by reports that authorities had used excessive force against protesters, police broke up fresh demonstrations by Tunisian intellectuals aimed at condemning the crackdown.
“Our numbers say there are 21 dead,” Communications Minister Samir Laabidi told a news conference, denying the reports of a higher death toll.
“Those who have spoken of 40 or 50 dead should produce a list of names,” he said.
BRUSSELS: President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany will end months of wrangling Thursday by presenting a joint plan to strengthen Europe’s ties with countries on its southern borders.
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