Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Viktor Bout and possible Georgian-Blackwater Connection?

Georgia - "Green Light" for the "Merchant of Death" – Victor Bout and his partner Temur Alasania

In previous edition of "Georgia and the World", which is the newspaper version of the "Special Report" prepared by Georgian independent TV Company "Maestro", naturally evokes special interest among a larger viewing public. Even for those who never doubted the anti-government actions of the current regime  in place, and how it is spoiling the reputation of the country as a whole. It is unfortunate that facts support such a reality and this was to be expected.  Consequently the ramifications of which shall be felt very soon by influential persons on the side of the government – those who are involved into weapon trafficking, and/or by those closest to them, their underlings, i.e., those who don't have that much influence. Unfortunately, however, these facts come together to create an unattractive image to the Georgian State, and further reduces its opportunities for development next to zero, and even less. Such a situation is not of much concern to the uncle of the Georgian President- Temur Alasania, for whom the position of President of his sister's son became the source of great deal of income under the protection "coverage" of his nephew. The newspaper version of "Special Report" will clearly show what kind of deals has been pulled off with the "Death seller".

See full story here:


A bit of commentary, as found on one web-posting in about the weapons dealer, Radio Free, provides some interesting insight in reading the various stories about Bout and his worldwide network, and which the Georgian media claims includes well-organized operations in Georgia. 


There are plenty of mainstream media articles; just search on Google News, connecting the larger worldwide network and how the international arms trade actually works.

Ray from Lawerence Kansas writes on
a Bout-related RFE/RL link, August 25th, "Since he already has plenty of experience working with Americans, this suggest that the US government grant him the title of "Special Pro-Consul to the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan." He could be of valuable service to that defender of freedom and justice, H. Karzai. If this is too difficult to swallow, he could become a VP for Blackwater, which has recently moved its headquarters to the UAE. BTW, why doesn't the FBI trust that the Russians will give him a 'fair trial'?

By the way, here are a couple of Bout-related RFE/RL links, which many followers of Georgian related articles have probably already seen - and it is hoped that more media attention will be paid to current trafficking of weapons, not only by air and sea but by land crossings from the Russia Federation into Georgia proper, and this excludes the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.






Pushing the rearm or reset button, which will it be?

'Where is the reset?': sceptical Putin asks in interview

by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Aug 30, 2010
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Monday he wanted to believe in the much-vaunted "reset" in ties between Moscow and Washington but indicated he was somewhat sceptical about the US administration's intentions.

He voiced unease about US plans for a missile defence shield in Europe, saying ongoing talks with several European countries on hosting missile interceptors ran counter to the reset launched by US President Barack Obama.

"We have spoken about our stance on the missile defense in Europe. It looks like we've agreed there won't be counter missiles and the issue on radars has not been yet solved in the Czech Republic. Great!" Putin said in an interview with the Kommersant daily published on Monday.

"And practically immediately they announce that the same is being planned for other countries in Europe. So where is the reset? So we do not see it in this respect," he said.

Obama in September 2009 shelved an initiative by his predecessor George W. Bush to place an anti-missile radar facility in the Czech Republic and interceptors in Poland.

However Bulgaria and Romania  this year began talks with the US on hosting anti-ballistic missile interceptors. Putin indicated he had not yet lost hope.

"I very much want to believe in it (the reset). Secondly I want it very much. Thirdly I see that the current US administration's intentions to improve relations with Russia are clearly defined," he said.

"I feel that Obama is sincere. I do not know what he can do, what he can't do. I want to see whether he manages to do it. But he does want it. I have an instinct that his position is sincere."

The Russian premier also criticised US support for Georgia, with which Russia fought a brief war in August 2008.

"Further rearming of Georgia is taking place. Why?" he asked. "If there had not been rearming two years ago, there would not have been the aggression and the blood that was spilt there."

Moscow has often criticised Washington for selling arms to Georgia, which in August 2008 launched an offensive against the pro-Russian breakaway region of South Ossetia, later recognized as independent by Russia.


Does a lack of transparency equal corruption in USAID funded projects in Georgia?

Sleeping in the same bed with AEI makes for strange bedfellows for a whistle blower against USAID abuses

The underlying motivations are not crystal clear, why a lone scholar as Till Bruckner, University of Bristol and who worked in Georgia as a monitor of IDP assistance in the aftermath of the 2998 Russian-Georgia war, is now accruing a long list of enemies who label him a whistle blower, has a sharp axe to grind against USAID's lack of even a clear and present transparency.  Till Bruckner, whose name cannot pull up much at all on a Google search of anything unrelated to his new polemic emerging circa April 2010, which sprang out of nowhere to bemoan the lack of transparency that may be hiding corruption in USAID and their nongovernmental organization affiliates, including their religious aid network?   

Why would he pick the American Enterprise Institute's magazine, THE AMERICAN, to lead the armada as a flagship into the murky waters of investigating the similarities between World Food Program and USAID shortcoming?  Many people today fear that the USAID may have itself have mutated into a bloated behemoth of intelligence affiliates.  Not only Till.


The AEI is well known and notorious among its detractors for being the birthplace of hard core neo conservatism, which has been a frightful infestation of American democratic ideals and foreign policy for over 20 years now. You may be thinking by now that I am a blind supporter of USAID and the black clouds of legitimate and illegitimate NGOs swarming around USAID and the Republic of Georgia like sweat flies.  On the contrary, I have been a long time investigative reporter dredging up such information for public disclosure for a few decades here in the Caucasus.

The motivations of Mr. Bruckner have been portrayed by some as purely PhD research, but I find this is a mouthful to chew on and not choke. One can simply Google his mentors, allies, and affiliations and see that there is a smorgasbord of envy and jealousy of a vast rival power network such as USAID, to make an overflowing Georgian 'supra' table seem meager.  USAID now far eclipses the former glory of AEI and their tangled web of patronages

Something akin to the legendary rivalry between the Templars and the Hospitallers during the Crusades is going on here, and I don't think I am the only muckraking hillbilly in these here hills that has noticed it so effortlessly, do you?

And I question if the poor and needy of our planet, and their even more unfortunate brothers and sisters living under bloody repression, who truly need humanitarian aid and development assistance, would be impressed by this infighting and feuding squabble between two juggernauts who in the end will lay out very little for the poor themselves, and leave the recipients questioning the sincerity of the benefits coming from "the American People".  Remember Katrina and Ward 9?  Charity starts at home, as well as transparency.

I have to give Mr. Bruckner credit for coining one of the pithiest sentences I have read in a very long time, "Secrecy and charity make for strange bedfellows."


I absolutely agree, and whistle blowing against abuses of U.S. monies exemplified by USAID projects, makes strange bedfellows for AEI.

Jeffrey K. Silverman, Freelance journalist and former Editor of Georgian Times, 18 years resident of Georgia, who has successfully investigated high level corruption in USAID and USDA funded projects in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan, in the last ten years.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Putin: U.S. Rearming Georgia

Although Washington has an intention to improve relations with Moscow, the U.S. continues “rearming Georgia”, which is no[t] in line with the reset policy, Russia’s PM Vladimir Putin said in an interview with Russian daily Kommersant.

Read full article at civil.ge

"There would have been no aggression and blood if not the rearmament of Georgia two years ago; we had been telling this to our partners, including to our European friends; and everyone kept silence; and how did it all ended? It led up to the war. This rearmament continues today," Putin said.


Corruption as Growth Industry in Central Asia, ONLY there?

America's Corruption Racket in Central Asia

By Scott Horton

August 29, 2010 "Harpers" - -In another significant piece datelined Kabul, Dexter Filkins and Mark Mazzetti reveal that the man in the eye of the storm of an Afghan-American corruption scandal, Mohammed Zia Salehi—the chief of administration for Afghanistan's National Security Council—is on the payroll of the Central Intelligence Agency:

[Mr. Salehi] appears to have been on the payroll for many years, according to officials in Kabul and Washington. It is unclear exactly what Mr. Salehi does in exchange for his money, whether providing information to the spy agency, advancing American views inside the presidential palace, or both. Mr. Salehi's relationship with the C.I.A. underscores deep contradictions at the heart of the Obama administration's policy in Afghanistan, with American officials simultaneously demanding that Mr. Karzai root out the corruption that pervades his government while subsidizing the very people suspected of perpetrating it…

These ties underscore doubts about how seriously the Obama administration intends to fight corruption here. The anti-corruption drive, though strongly backed by the United States, is still vigorously debated inside the administration. Some argue it should be a centerpiece of American strategy, and others say that attacking corrupt officials who are crucial to the war effort could destabilize the Karzai government.

This detailed, persuasive story merits a few additional notes. First, when a public official accepts payments from a foreign power in wartime–in exchange for information he has secured in the course of his official duties to the foreign power or to influence his government for the benefit of a foreign power–it may constitute treason or espionage, even though it may not be prosecuted if the foreign power in question is a close ally. In any event, however, the acts constitute an acute form of public corruption. In this case, then, it puts the case quite softly to say that the contradiction is that the United States is "subsidizing" the very people suspected of corruption. It would be more accurate to state that the United States is inducing corrupt acts from the very people it seeks to prosecute for corruption. In legal terms, such a claim could be met with a defense known as in pari delicto (namely, "you're guilty of the same offense yourself") or its more recent and subtle variant, graymail.

Second, this contradiction is made clear in the Counterinsurgency Field Manual (PDF) prepared under the supervision of General David Petraeus. In its introductory pages the manual argues in compelling, notably Lockean, terms that the essence of effective counterinsurgency lies in shoring up the legitimacy of the host government. The purpose of current military operations is not empire building, but strengthening the capabilities of an unhealthy ally that will in time be able to assume the burden of its own defense. But of course when a foreign power makes sub rosa payments to officials of the government it is trying to shore up, and that fact becomes known—as easily can happen in a democratic state where transparency is favored–it takes a wrecking ball to the credibility and legitimacy of that government. So both the allegations of corrupt payments to Salehi and the presence of anti-corruption units under the apparent control of a foreign power operate at distinct cross-purposes with the Petraeus-approved counterinsurgency policy.

This is the third time this summer that the United States has been slammed with credible charges of corrupting foreign governments in Central Asia. The first came from the Central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan, where, following a popular uprising that toppled a corrupt kleptocrat, the new government charged that the United States had made illegal payments possibly totaling hundreds of millions of dollars to the deposed leader under the guise of supplying aviation fuel to the Manas Transit Center—the key logistical point in the Afghanistan war effort's northern supply corridor. U.S. efforts to refute the corruption charges have been pathetic, and as months pass, the evidentiary case that the payments were in fact made to businesses operated by the old dictator and were indeed an extremely sweet deal has become all but irrefutable. Although the U.S. diplomats promised to clean up the situation, on the ground in Kyrgyzstan today there is a broad perception that the United States will simply sculpt new deals to bribe the revolutionary government.

The second came when the Justice Department dropped the largest Foreign Corrupt Practices Act prosecution in history, which was targeted at an American merchant banker from Stockton, California named James Giffen. It had accused Giffen of orchestrating corrupt payments totaling hundreds of millions of dollars for the benefit of the Kazakhstani government, and produced detailed bank documents showing the flow of money into accounts controlled by senior government officials. Giffen availed himself of the graymail variant of in pari delicto. He argued that he was working as an intelligence operative of the United States and that his dealings were known and approved at high-levels by the U.S. government and were essential to his "cover." Prosecutors at first harshly dismissed Giffen's claims. When the dust settled, however, the CIA balked at turning over the evidence of Giffen's obviously quite intimate dealings with American intelligence and the prosecutors were left grasping for a fig-leaf tax evasion count to cover a ten-year effort. The inescapable conclusion is that U.S. intelligence was indeed deeply enmeshed in the biggest corruption scandal in the history of the petroleum industry.

The third case is the story that Filkins and Mazzetti have broken today. It shows that when you scratch just under the surface of the highest profile corruption case in Afghanistan today, you find a man on the CIA's payroll, whose acts of corruption apparently start with accepting bribes from the United States.

American policy towards corruption in Central Asia is thus exposed as schizophrenic. On the one hand the United States purports to be resolutely opposed to corruption and prepared to spend enormous sums to expose and prosecute it in the interest of transparency, good government, and saving the taxpayers the expense of corrupt contracts. FBI agents and prosecutors are being moved into the field and are pursuing an unprecedented number of prosecutions in U.S. courts. But on the other hand, it is increasingly apparent that the United States is itself one of the most staggeringly corrupt actors in the region, willing to slide hundreds of millions of dollars under the carpet to foreign government officials to induce them to do Washington's bidding, on occasion doing this so crudely that it undermines the credibility of the government it has picked as an ally. Indeed, twice now American bribery operations targeting a foreign head of state helped provoke revolutions that toppled a government. Pursuing both of these policies at the same time exposes the United States to well-warranted charges of hypocrisy. Policy-makers in Washington urgently need to settle the question: on which side of the corruption divide do they want to stand?



U.S. Senator warns of instability if Pakistan unaided

Maybe it's just me but I get the feeling that the Pakistan has been deliberately left to rot. The cynic in me says that these floods couldn't have come at a better time... for some.

Have the US just decided that Pakistan has been sufficiently weakened?


Sunday, August 29, 2010

Strange edfellows in preaching transparency in USAID programs

Sleeping in the same bed with AEI makes for strange bedfellows for a whistle blower against USAID abuses

The underlying motivations are not crystal clear, why a lone scholar like Till Bruckner, University of Bristol in the UK, is accruing a long list of enemies who label him a whistle blower with an axe to grind against USAID lack of even basic transparency in how its program are run in the country of Georgia.  Till Bruckner, whose name cannot pull up much at all on Google unrelated to this new polemic emerging circa April 2010, sprang out of nowhere to bemoan the lack of transparency that may be hiding corruption in USAID and their nongovernmental organization affiliates, including their religious aid networks, would pick the American Enterprise Institute's magazine, THE AMERICAN, to lead the armada as a flagship into the murky waters of investigating the similarties between World Food Program and USAID, which may itself today have grown to be a bloated behemoth of intelligence affiliates. 

The AEI is well known and notorious among its detractors for being the birthplace of hard core neo convervatism, which has been a frightful infestation of American democratic ideals and foreign policy for over 20 years now.

You may be thinking by now that I am a blind supporter of USAID and the black clouds of legitimate and illegitimate NGOs swarming around USAID and the Republic of Georgia like flies.  On the contrary, I have been a long time investigative reporter dredging up such information for public disclosure for a few decades here in the Caucasus.

The author's motivations portrayed by some as purely PhD research is a mouthful to chew on and not choke. One can simply Google his mentors, allies, and affiliations and see that there is enough envy and jealousy of a  vast rival power network to make an overflowing Georgian 'supra' table seem meager.  USAID now eclipses the former glory of AEI and their tangled web of patronages.

Something akin to the legendary rivalry between the Templars and the Hospitallers during the Crusades is going on here, and I don't think i am the only muckracking hillbilly in these here hills that has noticed so effortlessly, do you?

And I question if the poor and needy of our planet, and their even more unfortunate brothers and sisters living under bloody repression, who truly need humanitarian aid and development assistance, would be impressed by this infighting and feuding squabble between two juggernauts who in the end will lay out very little for the poor themselves, and leave the recipients questioning the sincerity of the benefits coming from "the American People".  Remember Katrina and Ward 9?  Charity starts at home, as well as transparency.

I have to give Mr. Bruckner credit for coining one of the pithiest sentences I have read in a very long time, "Secrecy and charity make for strange bedfellows."

I absolutely agree, and whistle blowing against abuses of U.S. monies exemplified by USAID projects, makes strange bedfellows for AEI.

Jeffrey Silverman,
Freelance journalist and former Editor of Georgian Times, 18 years resident of Georgia, who has investigated corruption within USAID in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Afghanistan, in the last ten years.


Mouths Wide Shut

Today, the Georgian NGO Coalition for Justice released a press statement calling for greater consideration for the rights of the displaced by the international community, reminding us that 400,000 IDPs were forced from their homes and communities by Russia since 1993. The press release, however, failed to mention that IDP rights are also threatened in Tbilisi.

Read original article at Tbilisi Blues

Seven Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), have gone on a hunger strike in front of the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees, to protest their eviction from the Isani shelter two weeks ago. Four of them are so committed that they sewed their mouths shut. The eviction was ordered by Ministry of Economic Development, which is headed by the former head of the Coalition for Justice and Abkhazian IDP, Vera Kobalia.

The Coalition for Justice has issued a press release intended for the international community when in fact it is the international community that funds all major IDP programs in Georgia and the Strasbourg court that ends up protecting the legal rights of IDPs like Batalbi Saghinadze from Georgian iniquity. The Coalition for Justice could press the government to ensure the rights of IDPs are protected, like the UN refugee agency (UNHCR), Georgian Public Defender, Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association, Transparency International, and others, but instead the NGO takes the government’s line by stating the international community hasn’t done enough to punish Russia for causing people to sew their mouths shut in Georgia.


Georgia knows best... doesn't it?

Georgia are on a collision course with UNESCO over the rebuilding the Bagrati Cathedral, which is listed as a World Heritage Site.

The edifice belongs to one of three world heritage sites in Georgia, and in theory, is subject to UNESCO’s rules.

But President Mikheil Saakashvili, and Patriarch Ilia II, the 77-year-old head of the Georgian church, have other ideas. The president has promised the patriarch that the cathedral will be rebuilt: walls, dome and all. Reconstruction is visibly in progress. Such a gesture plays well in a country where a towering expression of past and present glory has more appeal than fragile ruins; but it may be the boldest defiance of the world heritage regime that UNESCO has ever faced.

But Mr Saakashvili’s rebuilding of Bagrati is a new, head-on challenge to UNESCO’s ideas. A world heritage site is supposed to be of concern to all humanity; he is implying that its value to the Georgian nation comes first. With bristling ire, UNESCO is seeking a meeting with the Georgians to discuss the halting and reversal of the reconstruction. But in a land where religious and patriotic fervour abounds, Mr Saakashvili will not lose many votes by defying the outside world’s cultural overlords.

Read full article at The Economist

I think the issue here is that Georgia are members of UNESCO and Georgia should abide by their rules - not simply do what it wants because "it knows best".

It is little wonder that investors are leaving Georgia in their droves - NGO's are shutting up shop and FDI has all but collapsed and, incidentally, this collapse started in 2005 - well before the war and the Fed-driven collapse of the economy kicked in.

UNESCO have every right to be upset, and so should the rest of us be. A World Heritage Site is designated as such to protect it for future generations, and it needs to be planned and carried out using all of the knowledge and experience which UNESCO has gathered over the years.

This is a typically selfish act by Georgia which sounds like it is intended to boost the popularity of their President. Next up - a revolving gold statue? It does indeed sound like what Georgia want to do is to rebuild the thing as yet another example of what Saakashvili has done for (to?) his country. But this is a typically blinkered "we know best" approach and who knows what damage they might do during construction? As we know, Georgian building standards leave a lot to be desired and how they undertake this work may not be the best way forward.

So, what can UNESCO do - cry foul and hope that this is an isolated case? De-list this from the register of World Heritage Sites and say: "ok Georgia, you're on your own but don't come looking to us for any more money?".

If everyone was as selfish and as full as their own self-importance as the Georgians there would be no UNESCO, because there would never come a time when a united and peaceful world could come and look at those places.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

WikLeaks now targeted by American PR counterspin

You be the judge?

Anyone who has spent time in Georgia will soon come to realize just how many of the so called reform generation are on the payrolls of UNDP, SOROS and USAID, and whenever possible, is enthralled with Radio Liberty Georgia, the Georgian language version TAVISUPLEBIS, … these same players are linked via Facebook to the official story line by Radio Liberty. One only needs to pull up the Radio Liberty website and they do not already now, will soon realize just how so so nasty it is. 

Long ago, U.S. propaganda agencies were much more humane, tolerant, and careful how to criticize their targets. Today it is a turkey shoot.  see below.





Why Is WikiLeaks So Focused On The United States?

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

August 26, 2010

WikiLeaks has just released its latest leak, this one a CIA memorandum hypothesizing on the potential damage to the U.S. public image if Washington was ever deemed an exporter of terrorism. But is WikiLeaks being mindful enough of its own public image? With yet another U.S.-centered leak, is the organization delivering on its goal of being a global whistle-blower?

WikiLeaks has been derided by conservative U.S. media as "an unabashed foe of US policy,"  whose "goal is to 'expose' only the people they hate -- meaning the US military -- and get famous for it."

WikiLeaks received a milder reception from liberal U.S. media -- for example, the "Los Angeles Times" wrote "the germane question is whether the United States and its allies are best served by secrecy or debate." 

Both sides, though, seem to share the view that WikiLeaks is only meaningful vis-a-vis the United States. Consider the same "Los Angeles Times" editorial, which goes so far as to dub WikiLeaks' motivations as "barely interesting" in light of their potential impact upon American policy.

However, for journalists and human rights activists outside the United States, particularly in Asia and the former Soviet Union, WikiLeaks' motivations are interesting, indeed, they are key. Democracy activists outside the United States see WikiLeaks as a potential ally in their fight to bring reform to some of the world's most repressive governments.

WikiLeaks has previously described its real goal thus: "Our primary interests are oppressive regimes in Asia, the former Soviet bloc, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, but we also expect to be of assistance to those in the West who wish to reveal unethical behavior in their own governments and corporations."

Additionally, an anonymous 9 June 2007 e-mail from WikiLeaks to their volunteers casts important light on its strategy regarding the West: "Apart from the beneficial effect on Western democracies, we believe this will provide a strong, consistent base where we can operate efficiently and freely, permitting us to concentrate our efforts on the most repressive regimes."

Indeed, WikiLeaks debuted with an expose of Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts, and one of its richest treasure troves concerns Thailand, where censorship is common and criticism of the king is a major crime. But until WikiLeaks began butting heads with the United States, this material remained largely obscure.

Now Julian Assange and his crew are getting noticed. Chinese bloggers take WikiLeaks very seriously (and so does their government). They'd love its hacking fingers to pry open the Communist Party's archives -- and bank accounts. Precisely the same sentiments have been voiced in Central Asia.

Yet one of Turkmenistan's most prominent dissident voices, the blogger Annasoltan, worries that it might get too caught up in its publicity battle with the United States: "The West is already awash in information; Turkmenistan is dying of data thirst. Right now it seems WikiLeaks is engaged in some kind of tit-for-tat with the United States. I just hope they don't get distracted from their real mission, because we need their help."

-- Christopher Schwartz


Friday, August 27, 2010

Tony Blair is a war criminal, drugs for weapons swaps

Bookseller Tony Blair belongs in court

-Seven Irish soldiers are now serving with this NATO occupation force in Afghanistan, in clear breach of Ireland's so-called military neutrality.

The proposed visit by former British prime minister Tony Blair to Ireland on September 3-4 to publicise his autobiography should be used by the Irish people to express their opposition to the wars and military occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq, which were carried out in contravention of the UN Charter and have cost the lives of an estimated one-and-a-half million people so far.

With the withdrawal of US operational troops from Iraq, that country is now on the brink of a renewed outbreak of civil war, resulting from the US-led invasion.

The prospects for democracy and peace for the people of Iraq are very remote.

In Afghanistan, Mr Blair falsely claimed that one of the reasons for British participation in the overthrow of the Afghan government in 2001 was to stop the flow of drugs to Europe, yet he must have known when he made that statement that one of the few positive achievements by the Taliban government by 2001 was the virtual elimination of drug production, as confirmed by the UN at the time.

The US and British occupation was achieved by knowingly creating an alliance with the warlords and drug barons, thereby restoring the production of drugs.

The export of drugs from Afghanistan to Europe is now at an all-time high.

Hundreds of thousands of Afghan people have been killed and seriously injured, and the abuse of women and children, especially girls, has worsened rather than improved under the Karzai government, supported by the NATO occupation forces.

Seven Irish soldiers are now serving with this NATO occupation force in Afghanistan, in clear breach of Ireland's so-called military neutrality.

Mr Blair should be at The Hague war crimes tribunal as a defendant, not selling books in Ireland.

Edward Horgan

International Secretary, Irish Peace and Neutrality Alliance,

Castletroy, Limerick


Irish Independent
August 27, 2010


More information on weapons trafficking, VIctor Bout

Viktor Bout, 'Merchant of Death'


August 23, 2010|By Marshall Kilduff

If there's a Hall of Fame for global bad guys, Viktor Bout would have a bust in the lobby. He's a Russian arms privateer, a no-scruples weapons peddler with a network of cargo planes and a menu of weapons.

His run may finally be over. A Thai court ordered Bout extradited to New York from a Bangkok jail cell, a decision that caps a two-year legal tug-of-war between American diplomats - who wanted him put away for good - and their Russian counterparts, who felt a countryman was unjustly accused.

Bout supplied the gasoline for a half dozen of the world's worst military bonfires. He shipped machine guns, grenades and rockets to civil wars in Africa. He's sold weaponry to both the Taliban and their foes in Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. Bout briefly won a contract to haul military hardware to Iraq for the United States before embarrassed officials learned of his connection and canceled the deals.

His career drew attention. The Nicolas Cage movie, "Lord of War," was loosely based on Bout's life. A book entitled "Merchant of Death," by two American journalists, more precisely detailed his amoral dealings.

Bout never apologized or admitted to a thing. He was just an air transport executive who flew unknown cargo to dirt strips across the globe. Blood diamonds, child soldiers, civilians with amputated limbs? He never knew them.

In fact, he preyed on cynical, desperate landscape. Bout was a military translator who noticed after the collapse of the Soviet Union scores of cargo planes stalled on runways and weapons storehouses in Eastern Europe with no customers.

He went to work, lining up customers in Angola, Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Philippines, Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands, if not millions, suffered and died from his work.

None of this escaped official notice. Intelligence agencies and governments facing Bout-supplied guns went after him. But he was never cornered, finding help from authorities he helped - and others who might need guns in the future.

He was finally caught in a sting operation mounted by U.S. and Thai agents posing as customers for anti-aircraft missiles.

He might wriggle free again. The Thai extradition order has a 90-day window, meaning Bout - like one of his weapons-crammed planes - could fly away again. Let's hope not.

Marshall Kilduff is a Chronicle editorial writer. E-mail him at mkilduff@sfchronicle.com.

(C) San Francisco Chronicle 2010

NB - it is becoming clearer that neither sides in the international arms trade want the full story to come out. I would not be surprised if he has a terrible accident while in custody, and there is no doubt that Bout has been a freelancer and scapegoat of convenience for many players in the business. - including weapons for drug swaps that has been funding many USG covert operation.


Tug of war over Victor Bout, Weapons trafficking in Georgia

Spilling the Beans, Victor Bout

Sounds like an aBOUT-turn is imminent - the Russians want him too. Who will be the highest bidder?


It appears that his contacts with US contractors may keep him from ever seeing his day in a US court, or any court for that matter, and he has been riding with the fox and running with the hounds. Moreover the network that he established in Georgia and Armenian is still up and running and much needed for the US war effort in Afghanistan and Iraq, to name just a few.  As one blog describes him, Victor Bout: That Bad Man Who Knows Too Much!  


He can spill the beans - all the beans!!!


Corruption in USAID Georgia


What are the missions of these organizations, and corruption in USAID and various EU funded programs are well known to locals and others alike. As Jeffrey K. Silverman, Georgia based journalist, wrote some years ago, "it is easy to become inured to discussions about corruption in Georgia. "Corruption is a plague" has a commonplace for politicians and journalists alike. Similarly pat are the explanations why corruption never seems to be cut back: the frozen conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the tensions between central government and the regions, the overweening and sometimes threatening presence of Russia. In such circumstances, apparently, the state is weak and cannot be stable and orderly.

  But what largely escapes critical attention is just how vast the international presence in this small country is, how much effort and money has been put in to so little effect. Georgia teems with NGOs and aid organizations (roughly 5,000), so much so that it has become known as an "NGO heaven." But their impact has so far been limited. The persistent but rarely reported rumors of corruption in the sector suggest one reason for their ineffectiveness. Twelve years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the relative failure of NGOs and aid organizations calls for a review of their policies.

Lifting the lid on a can of worms is usually difficult. The non-profit sector is no exception, so it is hard to say quite how worm-ridden the sector actually is. Nor, despite some investigative coups, does the local press have much interest in embarrassing countries whom Georgia owes a debt of gratitude. Still, the sheer volume of rumors suggests there is a major problem--and a few worms do surface. In 2003, the U.S. government recouped money that had been siphoned off from a development program for small businesses into an offshore bank (misleadingly) called Shore Bank.

 It is the only documented instance of some money being recouped. There are accusations of corruption in CARE and United Methodist Committee for Relief, both offshoots of the U.S. government's aid program USAID, reports of Georgian banks "losing" U.S. government funds, European aid to a micro-finance bank being pocketed

Admissions are rare. The closest to one came in an email from a federal agent who over the past year has investigated several NGOs for USAID's inspector general, the criminal investigative branch of USAID. "The UMCOR thing," he wrote, "was closed before I ever came over there and the CARE issues have been investigated and resolved ... USAID brought it to our attention soon as they got wind of a problem.
Embezzlement. Return of the money. That's it, … I can't give out any details."

However, the number of shakeups and firings in the organizations is an indirect admission of the scale of mismanagement and, possibly, corruption. Even so, there is no review of policy as a whole. While ministers and heads of NGOs claim that they know what needs to be changed, little is achieved. They need to look more clearly at the layers of problems.

Money cascades down through various levels. At each there is a problem of interests that detract from the final result. For donors, there is the feel-good factor. Spending money and listing the beneficiaries is paramount. To justifying a project, minor success stories become major success stories. The result is a large gap between needs and action, between achievement and statements. Below that comes a thriving level of intermediaries. Larger organizations often operate pool funds. A local partner, who passes the money to partners to implement the projects, handles the funds. The more levels, the more chance there is of money being diverted.
   Then there is the composition of the staff. In some cases, donors' try to forge "ties with the local community." Professional skills are not the decisive factor. The result is that senior local bureaucrats, politicians, and businessmen gain positions. This is part of the problem with the credit unions set by ACDI/VOCA in 1993 and part-funded by the U.S. government. Some of the most notorious corruption in Georgia has involved Micro and SME Credit activities in the South Caucasus countries of Georgia and Azerbaijan. It is hardly accidental that programs have been so unsuccessful that there is even doubt if they were even intended to be effective from the very start. The lineup is impressive as are the case studies: Activities and looted over the years in Georgia and Azerbaijan include Shorebank Advisory Services (SAS), ACDI/VOCA, Save the Children, CARE International and the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and its local partners.

One of the largest impediments to rural development in Georgia and the region has been the relative inability of farmers to access credit at reasonable terms and without having to pay extra fees.

The recent article is but the tip of an iceberg:

There has been a developing discussion and debate centering around the transparency of organizations in Georgia who receive USAID grant money. It has been very interesting, but a lot to soak in with so many posts on so many blogs to follow. So, I want to try to post a condensed form of the discussion for anyone who wants to make it a quick read or play catch up. I think that it is an important enough discussion to warrant this and hope that it can flesh out the discussion beyond the present scope.  Of course, I will link to the full posts and encourage everyone to actually read each post as I will just be summarizing and picking out a few quotes.

Please point out anything I may have missed or misstated as there is a lot and I want to reduce it as much as I can without missing the arguments made by each post; I will update as I find more posts and more responses come in.

May 24
PhD candidate Till Bruckner guest posts on the AidWatch blog describing how, while working for Transparency International (TI) in Georgia, he requested 12 NGOs to publicize their budgets. Only Oxfam GB complied. Ten of the remaining 11 got together and wrote a letter saying, "there are a number of legal and contractual implications involved with donors, head office and other stakeholders which will take time to resolve." He tried USAID with the Freedom of Information Act but was met with the response that they need the permission of the NGOs.

Aug 18
PhD candidate Till Bruckner guest posts again on the AidWatch blog after he is mentioned in a recent OpEd by Bill Easterly. In it he picks up from his May post to update that USAID finally released the budgets of 19 UN bodies. Strangely, the white pages had a lot of black that was not type but covered information. Till asked why so much ink and USAID explained that, "the opportunity to address how the disclosure of their information could reasonably be expected to cause substantial competitive harm." Brucker goes on to question the commitment of organizations to transparency. He names UMCOR, Mercy Corps and AIHA as most transparent; Save the Children and CARE in the middle; and CNFA, World Vision and Counterpart International as the least transparent. He finishes by saying that USAID needs to get better at releasing information requested and NGOs need to match their actions with their verbal commitments to transparency

Later That Day
Scott Gilmore of Peace Dividend Trust writes a response post questioning Bruckner's conclusions by making four points.

  • He takes a different approach to the definition of what transparency is by saying it should ask what the money did not where it went.

  • To him budgets do not guarantee a lack of corruption as they do not specify what is actually done with the money. Audits function as this check.

  • Recipients are have problems with impact, not process

  • Sharing budgets could be damaging to nonprofits applying for grants.
  • Aug 19
    The Transparency Extremist jumps into the fray and comments on the posts by Gilmore and Bruckner. He makes the following points in response to Gilmore:

  • As taxpayers and funders of programs, it is our right to know how our money is being spent.

  • If we could see the actual budgets across the board, there would be no need for audits.

  • Bids would be helped by complete transparency across the board, not harmed by it.  All bids should be published and made public to ensure everyone involved is held accountable.
  • Later That Day
    Gilmore responds to the Transparency Extremist and other comments with the following counterpoints:

    • Transparency is not asked of from civil servants and government organizations for privacy and safety. Fair bidding will be impossible to achieve through transparency as it will expose organizations to others that will undercut.

    • Complete budgets will still allow for people to hide corrupt acts such as bribes. Audits are a far better option.

    • Transparency is important in ensuring impact, but impact should be a large emphasis when making the evaluation.

    • "This is not a debate about transparency vs secrecy. It's about meaningful transparency vs useless paper chasing."
    • Aug 20
      Bruckner comes back with a response to Gilmore.  He says, "As a taxpayer, I have the right to ask what my money is being spent on as well as the right to ask what those expenditures actually achieved. Plus, if I cannot even find out what the total cost of a project was, how can I judge whether it was worth my money?" Blacking out budgets will make it hard to understand how the money is being used for things like evaluating what portion of the budget filters back to the donor country. He adds that calling for transparency from the outside prevents NGOs from hiding behind claims of keeping themselves accountable.  He finishes by saying that transparency will help to avoid backroom deals and improve inter-agency learning. If Oxfam and others can do it, why not all of them?

      Later that Day
      Gilmore returns by saying that Bruckner is partially right but so is he.  He agrees in principal to a lot, but is evaluating not from the perspective of economic research but from one of combating corruption and improving impact.  Taxpayers should know total budgets, but line items will have a negative impact on competition. It is unfair to be critical of NGOs competing for grant money as it is a part of their mission to bring in as many resources as possible to accomplish their stated missions.  While transparency as a tool for research is valuable, its main goal should be to focus on results rather than process.

      Even Later that Day
      Aid Watch posts a response email from CFNA to the original post from Bruckner. In it they reaffirm their commitment to transparency saying that it is one of their core values. They state that their results speak loudest and it would be detrimental to their efforts to publish the complete budget. It complies with all reporting requirements imposed by donors and believe that the records they have made available coupled with their results speak to their success as a program.

      Aug 21
      World Vision makes a statement to Aid Watch that is posted on the blog. While reaffirming their commitment to transparency, World Vision stated that they were not aware of the request made by Bruckner or their own request to USAID to redact information. Upon contacting USAID they learned that the redaction was made independently by USAID.

      Aug 24
      Bruckner responds to the statements made by World Vision.  He shows excerpts of correspondences he had with USAID where he was lead to believe that all NGOs were contacted after his initial FOIA request and that the resulting documents were based on such contacts.  When following up with CNFA's response email, they were asked if USAID had contacted them in regards to Bruckner's request and have yet to reply. In contacting USAID, Aid Watch learned that it is standard practice to notify all NGOs involved when a FOIA is filed. If there is no response, "USAID redacts trade, commercial, financial, and personally identifying information in order to protect USAID's and external organizations' business and personal data." Bruckner questions why it would be in the interest of organizations to reply to such requests as they are not compelled to and doing so forces USAID not to disclose.

      Later That Day
      Mercy Corps responds to the request for a comment. Glad to be considered transparent, MC is troubled by the fact that the willingness to release project budgets is being used as an measure of the accountability of NGOs to beneficiaries and stakeholders. They continue to tell how TI and Bruckner had poorly engaged them in requests for budget information.  They then ask and address three questions:

      1) Does budget-sharing constitute accountability?

      "Posting the raw budgets of a handful of agencies reveals little about whether those agencies are effective, whether they are accountable to their beneficiaries, or whether their cost structures are reasonable."

      2) How does accountability make aid more effective?

      "This is best achieved when the beneficiary population is involved in the design, implementation, and monitoring of that activity.  This integration of stakeholders into core parts of the project management process ensures that divergence between community needs and NGO deliverables is kept to a minimum."

      3) What constitutes accountability to our constituents?

      "At a program level, NGO accountability means providing community stakeholders with means of evaluating a project's goals, the appropriateness of its implementation strategy, and ultimately its effectiveness in meeting those goals.  Publicizing budget data may be a part of the approach depending on the context -- but it is not a substitute for a project methodology that puts a core focus on community priorities and community participation."

      August 25
      I post the summary of the arguments and it leads to this comment from Aaron Ausland who writes at Staying for Tea:

      Mr. Bruckner has been gunning for CARE, Save the Children, World Vision and IOCC in Georgia for many months now. He tried publishing an expose through his former employer Transparency International that refused to run the article after meeting with the agencies and becoming concerned over the veracity of Mr. Bruckner's charges. He then filed a second complaint with the Humanitarian Accountability Project (HAP), which also found no substance to the complaint. He then filed a third charge through InterAction, which also went nowhere. Mr Bruckner did not interview the agencies he targeted as part of his research, nor did he attend a meeting at TI where WFP and its partners disputed his claims. Did he let it rest? No. He went ahead and found somebody to publish his claims anyway -- The American. Why so dogged? Well, maybe its because his PhD. thesis is based on these allegations in Georgia.

      August 26
      Master of Public Policy student at the Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs and Public Policy at Princeton University and Madagascar native, Lova Rakotomalala, adds some thoughts at the end of his recent post by comparing transparency to fans of the L.A. Lakers.

      This debate can be tied to the other debate about overhead for non-profit organisation.

      In sports, fans care about how the budget is allocated: players salaries, luxury tax etc.. but at the end of the day, LA Lakers fans would not have cared one bit that O' Neal made 30 millions more than Karl Malone in 2004 had they had won the whole thing. They want to know why they did not win and only then wold they wonder about the discrepancies in salaries. Was the fact that salaries were so unbalanced a factor? Probably but it is an issue only because 1) they did not come through 2) The chemistry may have been disrupted.

      The chemistry factor needs to be assessed first before we worry about whether K. Malone was underpaid.

      La Lakers fans care only about championships. Similarly aid recipients will only care about how, in the short and long run, this aid project will affect their lives.


    Wednesday, August 25, 2010

    Georgia : Revised 2009 FDI Figures ($100 million worse than they thought)

    Source: Civil Georgia   

    Foreign direct investment in Georgia fell to USD 658.4 million in 2009, 57.8% down from 2008's USD 1.563 billion, according to final data released by Georgian statistics office, Geostat, on August 24.

    According to preliminary figures released by Geostat in March, 2010, last year's FDI was USD 759.1 million. Geostat attributes revision of figure to factors like, among others, transfer or sale of shares from non-resident to residents, as well as to cases of reclassification of non-residents into residents.

    Read full article


    Sunday, August 22, 2010

    Desperate Americans Begin To Turn Houses in To Restaurants


    Abkhaz PM Says Concept on Russian Citizens Property Rights Rejected

    Source: Civil.ge

    PM of breakaway Abkhazia, Sergey Shamba, said that Sokhumi had rejected a proposal which was received from Moscow on restoration of property rights of Russian citizens in Abkhazia, news agency Apsnipress reported on August 20.

    Shamba made the remarks when commenting on an article published in the Abkhaz newspaper Nuzhnaya, which accused the Abkhaz leadership of "anti-state and anti-Abkhaz" actions for considering a proposal on "the concept of a joint Russian-Abkhaz commission on restoration of property rights of the Russia citizens in Abkhazia." The article says that the concept would pave the way for the return of thousands of those Georgians, who fled Abkhazia after the armed conflict in early 90s and who now reside in Russia, holding Russian passports.

    "I knew nothing about this concept before reading this article. I got interested and when asked about it in the President's administration, I found out that this draft was received from the Russian MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] without bearing registration number; it was attached with a letter. It is unclear whose proposal it is. As I was told in the President's administration and as the President himself confirmed, the draft was immediately rejected as not worthy to be discussed and there is a relevant presidential resolution," Shamba said.

    He said that this "biased and malicious" newspaper article was "a direct slander of the government", which should be studied by the prosecutor's office.


    Nuzhnaya Gazeta is one of only a few independent newspapers in Abkhazia and is a partner of Conciliation Resources (CR), a UK-based NGO which is funded through grants from governments, independent trusts and foundations. Having collaborated on journalism training and enabled the work of a small pool of regional correspondents, they now support a distribution network to deliver Nuzhnaya Gazeta and other newspapers to rural areas.

    For more information on Conciliation Resources' broad range of acivities in the region contact Jonathan Cohen, Director of Programmes.


    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    US Involvment in Drug for Weapons Swaps in Georgia

    New Details on Weapons Trafficking, Latest Georgian News

    In early June, reports first started appearing on Georgian TV about arms trafficking. There have been active discussions on this subject in recent years but little was noted because of the alleged connections with the Georgian Minister of Internal Affairs, MIA, and high ranking members of the GoG and the Ministry of Defense.  It would be risky for anyone to drive deeper into this subject, and run the risk of threatening state security. There now is little doubt as to the list of countries involved in this business, as based on TV reports and investigative articles published by human rights organisations and the UN. Also, the aftermath of the 2008 Russian-Georgian war turned the media mindset as to start questioning what was actually going on with military procurements and were these weapons being purchased for defensive purposes or with the real possibility of being reexported to hot spots around the world and supplied to terrorist organizations.

    Names of specific people have also been noted, Davit Kerershvili, former Georgian Minister of Defensd, and who just so happens to have Israeli citizenship and is reported in the Western media to be working with Bet Shin Intelligence Services, Temur Alasania, an uncle of the Georgian president, Mikhail Saakashvli, amongst others.

    Maestro Television, an independent no state controlled TV channel, has been active in this on-going investigation. However, it appears that some pressure is being applied to get them to back down from the side of US intelligence, which is most likely related to the following:

    Washington Post Article: 8.21/2010

    As received from a person assisting with the investigation, and went a great risk checked out the transport company in Armenia operating and based out of California, and on of Victor Bout's front companies. As of today Georgian TV is reporting some of the history of arms for weapons swaps and the alleged murder of Irakli Kodua who was going to spill the beans on what was happening to with drug transit via Georgia and the possible nexus to Afghanistan. Georgia is well known as  a venue were arms for drug swaps is commonplace.  

    Also, the Western media is beginning to pick up a long too hidden article - as it has both political and geopolitical implications, and not only for the Russian Federation. It has to be remember that many of the illegal weapons imported into Georgia were used against Russian peacekeepers and that raises many doubts as to what is the full story.

    Finally media, such as the Washington Post is starting to dive deeper, and as one go-between wrote.

    'Yes, I remember. It was very pleasing to see such an article in the mainstream media. Congratulations and good luck with the remaining cans of beans and worms to be spilt and opened. :-)"

    --- On Sat, 8/21/10:

    Subject: I was after the right person

    Date: Saturday, August 21, 2010, 3:06 AM

    This is what I have been going after for years that the air service you visited was part of the network. I spilled the beans back in June and was on National TV. I sent you those clips; it was me who supplied the end user certificate to the Georgian TV station that got the investigation started.

    I thought you might find this interesting, if you didn't know about it already -


    Here is an update of what I sent you before. It will not be too hard to confirm the various links here, and I suggest you ask for an interview with the US Embassy and some of the defence contractors. However, try to get the interview in an open forum. Also, I would suggest you put your work into a one production rather than chopping it up, as it loses its impact. It is difficult to follow the story; the weapons trafficking story is much 'bigger: than Georgia alone.

    Also, you may want to talk to the Embassy of the Federal Republic of German, Christian Farkhondeh, Military Attache, and Wolfgang Richter, Senior Military Advisor, Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany to the OSCE in Vienna. I have all their contacts:

    1)      Wolfgang Richter
    Colonel, Senior Military Advisor, Permanent Mission of OSCE
    2)      Christian Farkhondeh,
    Lieutenant Colonel (GS) German Embassy, Tbilisi

    It is very interesting that German companies are part of the paperwork for some of the arms flowing via Georgia, and it is debatable if this is legal or not.

    Talk to the human rights centre, www.humanrights.ge about this, and what was the reaction when they first started investigating this possibility.


    Are you seeing anything more in the papers, as this show that Georgia is basically a failed mafia state getting rich off illegal trafficking of weapons and can be considered as a state sponsor of terrorism.




    Subject: Re: Nodar Kakabadze, Air West Ltd., Weapons Trafficking
    To: "XXXXXXXX" <XXXXXXXX@yahoo.com>, "XXXXXXXX Hridc" <hridc@hridc.org>
    Cc: sipri@sipri.org
    Date: Thursday, June 3, 2010, 3:13 PM
    Dear XXXXXXXX,

    Here is an organisation that we need to contact, and get their views, as to foreign political involvement in this industry.

    Contact SIPRI by email: sipri@sipri.org; telephone: +46 8/655
    97 00; fax: +46 8/655 97 33; or post: SIPRI, Signalistgatan 9, SE-169 70

     My email is being watched, and I am using this one for now. At least to make them go back and forth. Find information being sent to friend in USG, if that is possible. I am digging hard on weapons lately and making some very nasty connections:

    "It alarmed me today when ... talking about me ....

    .... reminded me by phone that John Bass was with Baghdad USAID reconstruction agency as the head guy between State Dept and USAID and KBR and Halliburton and Black Water.
    KBR, Halliburton has been most active here, and who did John Bass work for during the Bush Whitehouse, Dick Chaney, and that plane flying to North K was registered in Batumi Georgia, and that really opens up a big can of worms.


    End User is NOT Georgian Territorial Integrity, Arms Trafficking

    Weapons Trafficking, End User is NOT Georgian Territorial Integrity

    By Jeffrey K. Silverman, Human Rights Centre

    The fallout of the war of August 2008 brings us up to speed with a much larger game that is being planned and played-out within the framework of today's security reality. I've always suspected Georgia of having been, perhaps even before the final breakup of the USSR, a hub and transit point for most every illicit item one could imagine. It is about location and its topography - mountainous forests, the Black Sea – all make it perfect for such. Conflicted areas such as Georgia and other breakaways provide generous conditions for all kinds of illegal and shady activities.

     It is well documented in international press, much to the dismay of the Russian Federation that arms shipments from Serbia and other former East Block countries have been made to Georgia. However, the question is who in the actual end user? This question takes on special meaning.

    Jordan has emerged as a new player in the international trafficking of weapons. Using intermediary companies, Jordan has found a niche market in the supply of offensive weapons that may be used against longtime US allies, such as Turkey.
    Aside from the possibility that Russian Federation is actually concerned with this matter, especially for the sake of its so-called peacekeepers on Georgia territory, it has repeatedly officially appealed to the leadership of Serbia to cut off the supply arms and ammunition to Georgia. The Serbian leadership has repeatedly assured the Russian Federation that it will under "no circumstance" continue supplying weapons to the Georgian government that could be used inappropriately used.

    In short, Belgrade categorically refuses to supply Serbian weapons to Tbilisi reads

    a statement in the Russian press. it has even transmitted a message to a correspondent of the Russian peacekeepers," the Foreign Ministry of Serbia - in a special message it claimed that it understood the situation in the Georgian conflict zones, and how it would categorically guarantee that no weapons are being supplied that could be potentially used against Russian Peacekeepers. The weapons in question are allegedly produced in the arms manufacturing plants of Serbia and other former State Enterprises that Serbia has under its authority.

    Serbia banned the export of weapons into the South Caucasus but that does not cover what has already been exported to Jordan and other stable countries, including various US allies; it is now known that these weapons are being shipped back into Georgia as a cover for the actual end user.

    It is still "debatable" – however, if these deliveries are for Georgian defense purposes or was this mechanism is just a component part of a larger shell game in the shady world of international weapons trafficking.

    Regardless of the ledger of guilt or innocence, it does appear that Russian and its defense ministry may have been correct in their finger pointing and repeated recriminations - and about a potential NATO member country was involved. Not only may the Georgian government actually be in the dark, but the government of Jordan as well.

    It would be interesting to know the official government position as to why an exporter in Amman Jordan is sending otherwise illegal shipments of Serb produced weapons to Georgia and why the Melvale Corporation, a well-known intermediary for arms dealers is being used as the agent. It is conceivable that this was done under the corruption of Irakli Okruashvili, the former Georgian Minister of Defense, or he was just totally unaware that his Ministry and key staff were likely involved in the wholesale trafficking of weapons.

    It is even more contradictory that a potentially NEW NATO member could in anyway be tied up in the supply of weapons, directly or indirectly to Georgia.  These weapons may even end up being used against old NATO countries. This discussion goes beyond the Old and New Europe that we learned about so well in the run up to the US invasion and long-term occupation of Iraq.

    With easy money comes dirty deals: those that have been involved in this trade for years is not going to let NATO membership aspirations get in the way of business as usual. "Easy Money" means continued arms exports to Georgia and points beyond, and if this cannot be by direct routes, there are other means – and the old adage still hold true, wherever  there is a will there is a ALWAYS a way.

    Melvale Corporation

    The Melvale Corporation under the umbrella of a contract previously concluded with the Georgian Ministry of Defense has publicly claimed that the Georgian side had been sold weapons for the sole purpose of training exercises.

    These materials were never intended for offensive purposes. The sale falls within the standards of accepted international practice. It is clear, however, that there has been much talk about the possibility that these weapons were going be used to resolve the problem of territorial integrity for Georgia and were going to be used against Russian peacekeepers, sooner or later. 

    The Serbian media reports that the Melvale Corporation is officially registered in the Seychelles, but the actually owners are Serbs, Messures Nenad Sharenach and Slobodan Tesic.  Melvale Corporation has purchase weapons for resale to Georgia. These appear to have been originally purchased from Jugoimport and later sold to Jordan.  Regardless of the recriminations that have resulted from much of the Serbian-Georgian weapons link and the Georgian-Russian war of August 2008, more information is now beginning to surface.

    First of all, the larger contract with Georgia stipulated that by the end of 2007 that the Georgian Ministry of Defense would be delivered over 110,000 artillery shells. At this stage conveyed list includes: 125-mm artillery shell cumulative shots, shots of 125-mm armor-piercing shells "podkalibernym" basic charges for the 60-mm and 82-mm, 122-mm artillery shells-fragmentation projectiles and decreased charges. That sounds like cluster bombs but it is hard to understand what is in the reported press compared to what is actually written in the end user certificate.

    Naturally the leadership of Serbia and Ukraine, both major suppliers of weapons on an international level, must fully understands the concerns of the Russian Federation that their arms factories are churning out war materials that would end up killing Russian citizens. However, arms dealer have a better organized lobby in Belgrade and Kiev than do ministry officials and human rights defenders.

    End User Certificate

    According to Georgian Laws, User of Cargo:

    Ministry of Defense of Georgia, 0112

    Tbilisi, 20 General G. Kvinitadze Street

    Exporter of cargo, address: KADDB. PO Box 927932, AMMAN Jordan

    Intermediary address: Melvale Corporation, Suites 25 and 27 2nd Floor, Oliaja Trade Center, Francis Rachel Str., Box 1312, Victoria, Mahe, Seychells
    Place for use of the cargo: Georgian Ministry of Defense.

     It is interesting that the Russian GRU appears to have been connected with this company for years (based on local sources); it has had dealing with Batumi and local stakeholders, especially as it relates to scrap metal and metal rods. The materials they officially trade at public level is confirmed by the website of the intermediary company,  Melvale Corporation, which has been involved in the arms trade for a long time based on various media reports.

    The documents state the intended use of the cargo "to be used for the sole needs of the Georgian Ministry of Georgia." These documents were shared with me in both Russian and an English translation. The end user certificate is on an official letterhead of the Georgian Ministry of Defense and it is signed by Mamuka Mujiri, Deputy Minister of Defense, Logistic Support Department.

     It lists the full amount of a shipment of arms.  "The end user of the cargo, herewith guarantees that the cargo, described in point 5, will not be given, re-exported, lent, rented, or [gifted] to other persons, subject or countries without the written consent of the authorized organs of Georgia and Jordan."

     Moreover, the Georgian Ministry of Defense further guarantees to accept the materials in its warehouses and keep them under its security after the delivery to Georgia. After accepting the cargo, the Ministry of Defense will confirm this in writing through a Certificate to the Supplier, confirming realization of the delivery. 

     Does the metal business include weapons (Iron and non-alloy steel)? 

     From Internet Search 

     Melvale Corporation, Country SC   Seychelles 

     Biz Type
     Trading Company
     Biz Category
       (as a seller) Mineral & Metals,  Iron & Non-alloy Steel
    Address: Suites 25 and 27 Second Floor, Oliaji Trade Victoria Mahe . Seychelles 

     Export Items

    Steel Billets, Debars, Wire Rod
    The question is now why have "metal objects" been exported directly from Jordan. Few ever thought these weapons are going to be used in Georgia for territorial integrity or training purposes. Naturally there are three other possibilities: Iran, Northern Iraq (Kurdistan), and points beyond; this is only the beginning of the list of end users.

    While using this information, mention the portal www.humanrights.ge


    Wonderful Georgia and Magnificent Misha.

     Brand new article in Economist about wonderful Georgia and magnificent Misha:

    Seven years after the Rose revolution, Georgia has come a long way

    After reading the first half of this, Batumi is looking so good,  it seems so majestic now , ...... the last third of this article does indeed go over some of the faults of the Rose Revolution program, but mildly in its criticism.  The first 3rd is a glowing tribute that is completely over the top!  Pentagon married to the Old East India Tea Company royalty.


    Suspected Russian arms dealer Bout to be extradited to U.S

    Suspected Russian arms dealer Bout to be extradited to U.S., Thai court rules

    A Thai appeals court rules that Russian suspected arms smuggler Viktor Bout can be extradited to the United States to face terrorism charges.

    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, August 21, 2010

    The forthcoming extradition of a major reputed arms dealer to the United States could yield the Obama administration a treasure trove of intelligence about the networks that move weapons and drugs around the world and about the governments that secretly facilitate the traffic.

    That is, if he cooperates.

    An appeals court in Thailand on Friday overturned a lower court's ruling and ordered that Viktor Bout, a 43-year-old former Russian military translator, be sent to the United States, where he faces federal charges of conspiring to sell weapons to a terrorist organization, money laundering and sanctions busting. The Thai court decision, announced after months of diplomatic pressure from the United States, surprised many in the U.S. government who followed the case.

    Many officials had predicted privately that the court would rule the other way.

    On Friday, the acting deputy attorney general, Gary G. Grindler, said the Justice Department was "extremely pleased" with the ruling. His sentiments were echoed by the State Department.

    For decades Bout, who inspired the 2005 political thriller "Lord of War," is believed to have operated as a major arms smuggler, fueling conflicts in Afghanistan, Angola, Congo, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

    Lee S. Wolosky, a National Security Council official during the Clinton administration, said Bout came to the government's attention because of his close ties to the Taliban in the 1990s. Bout moved weapons and cash to Afghanistan at that time, Wolosky said.

    If Bout cooperates with U.S. law enforcement, Wolosky said, "he could be very helpful with respect to ongoing efforts in Afghanistan because he clearly has had a network there for a number of years." Bout's organization knew the country better than anyone, possessed the best maps and had an unrivaled network of sources, U.S. officials said.

    So far, at least, Bout has given no indication that he will cooperate. He has denied the allegations against him and, on Friday, told a reporter from Russia's RIA Novosti news agency, "We will go to court in America and we will win."

    The Russian government fought against Bout's extradition. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called Friday's ruling an "unlawful, political decision" made "under very strong external pressure," the Reuters news agency reported, adding that Moscow would continue to seek Bout's return to Russia.

    see full article, the rest of the story is going to prove the most interesting, if this arms dealer lives long enough to tell his story, especially about links with KBR and the US government.

    I thought you might find this interesting, if you didn't know about it already - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/20/AR2010082000452.html