NEASFram - Near East and Africa Security Framework

Strategic Assessments has launched a Near East and Africa Security Framework Program (NEASFram) to apply a coordinated approach to addressing the human and national security concerns created by conflict in the arc from Asia through Africa and including the Middle East.


Strategic Assessments
Near East & Africa Security Framework
Near East & Africa Security Framework

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


Lessons of the Arar Commission

Dick Marty, a Swiss parliamentarian and rapporteur on secret detention centers for the Council of Europe, has written an interesting piece for the Globe and Mail on the lessons that can be learned from observing the Canadian Arar Commission. The piece is important because these types of Commission will be needed because it is only by understanding fully the flaws of current U.S. foreign policy will we be able to shift the ideology towards a NEASFram type framework.

Marty notes that "only Canada has made a real effort to put right the wrong done to the victim — and in a way that does not endanger its legitimate national-security interests." He has come to recognize that European governments and bodies have been too afraid of being accused of harming security to really challenge the executive on rendition policy. Marty believes, with some justification, that Europeans (and I believe Americans) can learn a lot from the Canadian process.

That process, and its benefits, is described in this way by Marty:

"In simplified terms, Judge O'Connor, an experienced jurist, was given access to all the information required. Certain documents, which the government considered secret in the interest of national security, national defence or international relations, were examined in a procedure in which both parties were heard but the material was not reproduced in the public version of the report (although attention was drawn to its absence).

With such carefully weighed transparency, Judge O'Connor was able unequivocally to clear Mr. Arar's name, ensuring justice and clearing the way for the compensation due to him, yet exclude the publication of anything that might, in his judgment, threaten the security of Canadians. The important thing — and here we get to the heart of the question — is that the government is not the sole arbiter of what should be regarded as a state secret: Its claims must be evaluated by an independent body. In the Arar case, that principle remains in place, regardless of this week's readjustment; it was, after all, again a judge who ordered that the new material be made public."

Here is a link to the full piece.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


Clinton Wrong on Pakistan

Without wading into the fight between Obama and Clinton over Pakistan, I do want to note one aspect of Sen. Clinton's comments at the MSNBC/AFL-CIO debate. Clinton noted:
"Well, I do not believe people running for president should engage in hypotheticals and it may well be that the strategy we have to pursue on the basis of actionable intelligence -- but remember we've had some real difficult experience with actionable intelligence... But I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Mushareff regime, which is fighting for its life against Islamic extremists, who are in bed with al-Qaeda and Taliban.
And remember, Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The last thing we want is to have al-Qaeda like followers in charge of Pakistan and having access to nuclear weapons. So, you can think big, but remember, you shouldn't always say everything you think if you're running for president because it can have consequences across the world, and we don't need that right now."

The piece of this that worries me is the equation of Musharraf v Islamic Fundamentalists. In reality the support of military dictators in Pakistan always seems to lead to a spike in fundamentalism. There is no question that since the US backed Musharraf has been in power, he has blocked out the democratic parties and allowed the fundamentalists to grow in strength. That he is now "fighting back" says more about his instincts for self preservation. He still shows little sign of giving up power, letting democratic elections go forward and allowing the fundamentalists to be beaten at the ballot box.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


PM Brown DIstancing Himself from President Bush?


What is clear however is that the British government is seeking the release of five Guantanamo prisoners who have links to the UK. Interestingly, none of the five are British citizens but all have secured either refugee status or the right to stay in the UK. The new British Foreign Secretary David Miliband recently wrote to US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to request their release.
My suspicion is that we will see the five released in the next few months.

Monday, August 06, 2007


Rice on Pakistan

Secretary of State Rice distanced herself from Sen. Obama by assuring Pakistan that the U.S. would not act unilaterally to capture senior members of Al Qaeda.

Key quote from Rice: "We have a cooperative arrangement with Pakistan; Pakistan is an ally in the war on terror. The idea that somehow we have a greater interest in the capture and kill of high-value targets who are threatening Pakistan itself, as was shown by the extremist who brought about all that trouble at the Red Mosque, who are bringing about trouble in the frontier areas, I think is just not right."

Unfortunately there has been little or no focus on the need for democracy to be restored to Pakistan as a way to limit the growth of radicalism in society.


Obama and Pakistan

It took a full 24 hours before I was able to put my finger on exactly what I had found disconcerting about Senator Obama's comment that:

"If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and [Pakistani] President Musharraf won't act, we will."

I eventually determined that what I did find troubling was the underlying reason Obama made the comments in the first place.

Obama the policymaker clearly recognizes that the U.S. is suffering from a diplomacy deficient, and his past speeches on Pakistan have focused on the need for a shift in the U.S. approach. This most recent speech was, for the most part, consistent with these broad brush strokes. To his credit Obama sought to highlight the importance of diplomatic collaboration with a range of countries in the fight against Al Qaeda.

Unfortunately someone close to Obama the politician likely urged the candidate to include a paragraph showcasing his toughness. That paragraph was designed, in part, to combat the Clinton campaign's efforts to create a narrative that Obama is naive and weak. In rebutting a rival's political frame, Obama strayed away from a really important task. He was not able to use this opportunity to message to the American public that it is time to embrace diplomacy and alliance building if the U.S. is to get itself out of the hole it currently finds itself in.

Instead of garnering attention for his core position, Obama created a situation where rival candidate Gov. Bill Richardson could make clear that negotiation and diplomacy were clear priorities and that force was an absolute last resort:

"My international experience tells me that we should address this problem with tough diplomacy with General Musharraf first, leaving the military as a last resort. It is important to reach out to moderate Muslim states and allies to ensure we do not unnecessarily inflame the
Muslim world." ( pressreleases?id=0202)

Obama recognizes that radical change is needed; he should not seek to avoid barbs from other candidates by looking to be hawkish on these issues. He, and the country, will be better served by sticking to the substance and outlining a vision for addressing challenges facing our interconnected world.

Thursday, August 02, 2007


ICC, Darfur and a Fatally Flawed Foreign Policy Approach

If we needed another example of the flawed approach to foreign policy taken by the current Administration Mark Goldberg, writer in residence at UNF, just provided us with it. Mark put in a FOIA request for cable traffic and other items that spoke to the development of Darfur policy at the State Department. He recently received 800 or so documents and kindly gave us permission to share some of the most important info. Please find his full note below; the intensity with which the Administration sought to undermine the ICC, regardless of the costs to the people of Darfur, is certainly worth noting.

Dear Friends:

In May 2005, I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for cable traffic and other items that spoke to the development of Darfur policy at the State Department. Finally, last month, I received a package of some 800 documents. Not all of the documents are that useful, but there are some fascinating tidbits hidden therein — including documents pertaining to the winter/spring 2005 debate at the Security Council over whether or not the International Criminal Court should be given jurisdiction to prosecute alleged war crimes in Darfur.

(Some background: Since taking office, the Bush administration has been openly hostile to the ICC out of a fear that the court would launch politically motivated prosecutions of Americans. At times, the administration’s opposition to the court has bordered on monomaniacal obsession. The administration, for instance, imposed military and economic sanctions on allies that support the court, even as those allies had troops deployed in Iraq. Then, in late January 2005, an Italian judge named Antonio Cassese suddenly put the administration in a bind. Cassese had led a UN investigation into suspected war crimes in Darfur, and in a report to the Security Council he recommended that the council authorize the ICC to investigate.)

The documents I’ve obtained detail the administration’s headstrong reaction to a potential Security Council vote on an ICC referral for Darfur.

In early January 2005, upon learning that Cassese was to recommend ICC referral, UN Ambassador Jack Danforth sent a cable to Washington asking for instructions. The cable, addressed to Secretary of State Rice, recounts a meeting Danforth held with French Perm Rep Jean-Marc de la Sabliere (and an individual whose name is redacted.) Danforth was informed by de la Sabliere that France would, in fact, take up Cassese’s recommendation. Danforth, therefore, asked Rice for some direction: should the US seek to A) block the ICC referral all together, or B) simply carve out US exemption (that is, insert language into the resolution that would grant immunity to any Americans that might be somehow be caught up in the investigation.)

Danforth recommended the later course, saying that doing so would make life easier for everyone. His advice was not heeded. Rather, for the next three months, the US sought to block a resolution giving jurisdiction to the ICC, because in the words of a cable from Foggy Bottom ”we do not want to be confronted with a decision on whether to veto a court resolution in the Security Council.” In place of the ICC, the United States proposed creating an alternate ”accountability venue” that would be an African Union-United Nations hybrid court that would prosecute Darfur’s war criminals using the facilities of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

I followed this story closely at the time, but until I read these cables I had no idea the lengths to which the administration was willing to go in pursuit of this alternate option. Rice directed the US mission to the UN to “position ourselves to table our text before any other member formally proposes language seeking accountability through the ICC.” But the Europeans did not confuse first with best. EU members of the Security Council held firm against the AU-UN hybrid option, so the administration sought to circumvent them.

“The proposal might gain momentum…if the Africans supported it,” reads one cable. Pierre-Richard Prosper, the US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, traveled to Africa to press AU member states to agree to the American proposal for a hybrid, AU-UN court. Prosper delivered talking points and a so-called “concept paper” about the hybrid option to the president of Senegal, who was to travel to Chad to discuss it with regional powers like Nigeria and South Africa during an AU summit on Sudan.

The talking points Prosper delivered show real desperation. One point says the hybrid court would be less costly than the ICC — which was a point the Europeans strenuously denied. (Further, the Europeans countered that they would not agree to fund the hybrid court when they are already paying dues to the ICC). Also, the talking points argue that the ICC is a lesser option because it cannot prosecute crimes prior to 2002. (Never mind that the fighting in Darfur did not break out until 2003-2004.) Finally, as if the ICC were some European plot against Africans, one point cynically says “so far the only referrals have related to activities in Africa.”

The administration had hoped that Senegal would convince other AU member states of the wisdom and utility of the hybrid option. Alas, this effort to failed. On March 31, 2005, the United States abstained from resolution 1593, which gave the ICC jurisdiction to investigate crimes in Darfur. The US sought—and won—exception from the ICC as was originally counseled by Danforth. In the meantime, three months of diplomacy were needlessly wasted as the US pursued the hair-brained hybrid option.

When people say that the international response to Darfur has been slow, you can point them to this anecdote.



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