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Saturday January 8th 2011: Hillary Clinton Leaves for the Gulf and South Sudan Will Soon Head to the Polls *updated*

January 8, 2011

Secretary Clinton heads for Oman, the UAE and Qatar and I’m sure it will be a trip that gets a lot of media attention given the issues she will be addressing while there. In addition, the Sudan referendum vote takes place on January 9th and it balloting will go on for a week. Secretary Clinton will no doubt be keeping a close eye on what takes place there. Initial rumors (in the Sudanese press) that she would travel to Sudan were never confirmed.

Last evening Secretary Clinton was in NY where she met with the recovering Saudi King and Prime Minister Hariri of Lebanon:

Hillary reaffirmed strong US support for Lebanon’s independence and for the work of the UN-backed tribunal that is investigating the 2005 assassination of Hariri’s father, Rafiq, a source who attended the Hillary-Hariri meeting said.

The Saudi ambassador to Washington also met Hariri and it was not excluded that the Prime Minister could also meet with the Saudi monarch, who is in New York recovering from back surgery, diplomats said.

Hillary first met King Abdullah. No details of the talks were given but State Department spokesman PJ Crowley said before the meeting: “Certainly, she will emphasise to the king, as well as to the prime minister, our support of the democratic government in Lebanon, as well as our ongoing support for the special tribunal.”

The US Secretary of State went from the hotel where the king is staying straight to a nearby hotel next to Central Park to meet Hariri.

“Secretary Clinton expressed her strong support for the independence and sovereignty of Lebanon,” a source who attended the Hariri meeting said.

Hillary also “expressed very clearly her support for the Hariri tribunal.” Lebanon’s Prime Minister has said several times he will not give into pressure from the Hezbollah militia to end support for the tribunal.

The secretary of state left the hotel saying her talks had been “excellent” but no other official details were given. The United States has repeatedly underlined its commitment to Hariri’s government and to the tribunal.

Just after she left, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Adel Al-Jubeir, was seen going to the Hariri suite.

Saudi Arabia and Syria have been trying to mediate an end to tensions between Hariri’s government and Hezbollah movement over the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) investigation into the murder of the elder Hariri.

The tribunal is expected to announce indictments for the assassination within weeks and several media reports have said top Hezbollah officials will be among those charged.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria, has called for a boycott of the tribunal and has been pressuring Hariri to disavow the tribunal’s work. It has denied involvement in the assassination and warned that Lebanon could be plunged into a full-blown crisis should any of its members be implicated.

In an interview with the Arab daily Al-Hayat, Hariri said he was travelling to New York to meet with the king for a second time in a bid to boost the Saudi-Syrian efforts to defuse the crisis.

“I am going there to discuss ways of boosting the mediation efforts that are a guarantee to Lebanon’s stability,” Hariri was quoted as saying.

He revealed that Saudi-Syrian mediation had led to an agreement months ago but accused the Shi’ite militant movement Hezbollah of not living up to its end of the deal.

“Any commitment on my part will not be carried out until the other party (Hezbollah) implements what they agreed to,” the Premier told Al-Hayat.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Secy Clinton in NY

Here is an article from Business Week on some of what is at stake (oil) in Sudan:

…On Jan. 9, about 3.9 million voters start a week of balloting to decide whether to remain part of Sudan or form the world’s newest nation, 54 years after Africa’s biggest country by area gained independence from the U.K. A majority and a 60 percent turnout are required for a valid result, which is scheduled to be announced Feb. 1.

A vote for independence will give the south control of about 80 percent of Sudan’s current oil production of 490,000 barrels a day, pumped mainly by China National Petroleum Corp. and Malaysia’s Petroliam Nasional Bhd. Sudan’s output is close to a quarter of the volume produced by Nigeria, Africa’s top producer. Independence would be declared on July 9.

“The balance of resources and power will shift overnight,” Andrew Natsios, George W. Bush’s former special envoy to Sudan and now a professor at Georgetown University, said in a telephone interview from Washington.

The authorities in Khartoum, Sudan’s capital, and in the south have pledged to ensure that oil production isn’t disrupted and to work out how to share oil revenue. About 8 million of Sudan’s 42 million people live in the southern region.

Oil Cooperation

“They’ll put behind them the usual rhetoric of demonizing each other,” Fouad Hikmat, Sudan’s special adviser at the Brussels-based International Crisis Group, said in a Jan. 1 telephone interview from Khartoum. “I’m sure they will try to reach an agreement.”

While most of the oil is in the south, the export pipelines, the port and refineries are in the north.

With Southern Sudan depending on oil revenue for 98 percent of its budget, it has no interest in undermining crude exports, Southern Sudanese Energy Minister Garang Diing Akuong said in November in Juba, the region’s capital.

“We need cooperation between the north and the south so that the oil flows,” he said.

The vote is the centerpiece of a 2005 peace agreement ending a civil war that lasted almost 50 years, except for a cease-fire from 1972 to 1983, between the Muslim north and the south, where Christianity and traditional religions dominate. About 2 million people died in the second phase of the war.

Southern Sudanese overwhelmingly favor independence, according to an Oct. 20 study by the Washington-based National Democratic Institute, based on 63 focus groups surveyed in 48 locations last year.

Foreign Investors

An independent Southern Sudan would present foreign investors with “enormous opportunities,” Sebastian Spio- Garbrah, managing director of DaMina Advisors LLP, a New York- based research group, said in research note on Dec. 29. In addition to oil and gold, he said, the region is believed to have “abundant” deposits of minerals including marble, gypsum and chromite, which is used to make ferrochrome, an ingredient in stainless steel.

Southern Sudan would be free of the restrictions imposed on Sudan since 1997. The country has been classified by the U.S. as a sponsor of terrorism since 1993.

“Because Sudan has been under Western sanctions for more than a decade, many Eastern mining and energy firms have shied away from investing in the country,” Spio-Garbrah said.

Revisiting Sanctions

If the referendum runs smoothly and the government accepts its results, U.S. President Barack Obama will begin formal steps to evaluate the current designation of Sudan as a state sponsor of terrorism, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry told reporters today in Khartoum.

If Sudan is lifted from the terrorism list, “it takes you to the next step, which is to consider some of the sanctions,” said Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat.

Besides the north-south peace process, resolving the seven- year conflict in Sudan’s western region of Darfur continues to be a key issue that would affect future relations between the two countries, the senator said. Kerry urged rebel groups to join peace talks, and for the government to cease hostilities by its army in the region.

The authorities in Juba are in talks with Toyota East Africa to construct an oil pipeline to Kenya’s Lamu port. The pipeline would take three to four years to complete, Akuong said.

‘Time Bomb’

“We are certain that an independent Southern Sudan will act as a positive force in the region, contributing to important regional and African objectives of peace, stability and development,” former South African President Thabo Mbeki said in a lecture at a cultural center today in Juba.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described north- south tensions as “a ticking time bomb” in a Sept. 8 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. George Clooney has set up the Satellite Sentinel project using Google’s Map.Maker technology to monitor the border region. Aegis Trust, a London-based charity, said a return to war would cost more than $100 billion, about two-thirds of Sudan’s gross domestic product, in lost economic output and humanitarian and peacekeeping aid.

“A month ago we were much deeply concerned, but the recent developments have been very encouraging,” former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, whose Atlanta-based Carter Center is monitoring the vote, told reporters today in Khartoum.

President’s Pledge

Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir, in his last visit to Juba before the vote, pledged to respect the results of the referendum.

“If the south chooses independence, we will come and congratulate and celebrate with you,” he said on Jan. 4.

Al-Bashir’s government in Khartoum and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, which governs the south, would have to negotiate border demarcation, responsibility for the country’s $38 billion foreign debt and the status of Abyei, a disputed border region whose own plebiscite on whether to join the north or the south has been postponed indefinitely.

For more information on the referendum, visit the website of the Enough Project. Also see this article over at Foreign Policy.

In other news …the Washington Post’s resident rightwing neocon hack, Jennifer Rubin, wrote last week about how Hillary Clinton is “utterly irrelevent” to the Mideast peace process and her elementary school analysis is a good lesson in how terrified some on the right (and sadly, many Democrats) are of having the US be an honest broker in the peace process and how afraid they are of actually having any administration successfully negotiate a viable solution to this decades-long conflict. The Rubin mindset is really why nothing ever changes. Jennifer Rubin started her hypocritical propagandizing over at the WaPo only about two months ago but so far she has made Secretary Clinton a frequent target of her ire and I suggest that people check out her blog regularly and correct her misinformation in the comment section. You know, to keep Rubin and the WaPo honest😉

Also, this from Politico on Richard Holbrooke’s upcoming memorial service:

President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will speak at a memorial service Friday for Richard Holbrooke, the former special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, who died Dec. 13.

The service is at 3 p.m. in the Kennedy Center. An administraton official told POLITICO’s Mike Allen: “Invites went out formally this week but the planning started last month. … The media coverage is still being nailed down. A number of diplomatic figures are coming that represent different phases of his life.”

So, Secretary Clinton will be back in time for the memorial service on Friday.

19 Comments leave one →
  1. Micah permalink
    January 8, 2011 8:21 am

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY Stacy!

    Heh heh.

  2. Steve permalink
    January 8, 2011 8:38 am

    HA! Micah dropped the dime on you Stacy! Happy birthday!

  3. January 8, 2011 9:57 am

    Happy birthday! You and Elvis, the “King”!

  4. Thain permalink
    January 8, 2011 11:21 am

    Happy Happy Birthday Stacy! I hope you have a great day today.

  5. HillaryFan permalink
    January 8, 2011 1:44 pm

    Thanks for the updates and Happy Birthday!

  6. GeorgeS permalink
    January 8, 2011 2:10 pm

    Happy Birthday you run a great blog

  7. AmericanPatriot permalink
    January 8, 2011 2:22 pm

    You get no birthday wish from me you anti-American, anti-Israel liberal loser.

    • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
      January 8, 2011 7:03 pm

      Can’t get enough of her, eh AmPat?

      • AmericanPatriot permalink
        January 9, 2011 9:46 am

        Oh, I can get enough alright.

      • Carolyn-Rodham permalink
        January 9, 2011 12:29 pm

        Let me rephrase that, then:
        Can’t stay away from her, eh AmPat?😉

  8. theprosecutrix permalink
    January 8, 2011 2:35 pm

    Happy birthday! Thanks for keeping up this great blog about our wonderful Secretary of State.

  9. Carolyn-Rodham permalink
    January 8, 2011 7:05 pm

    Great comment on Rubin’s blog, stacy! May there be many more — years and comments!

    • January 9, 2011 9:52 am

      I’ve decided that every single day I am going to go over to Rubin’s blog and comment. She drives me nuts because she dumbs down every debate. I’m really hard-pressed to figure out what her credentials are that make her a credible foreign policy analyst at the Washington Post. Of course, the WaPo has been going down the drain for a while under editorial editor Fred Hiatt. The comedy news site Wonkette says it best about Hiatt:

      http://wonkette.com/412620/why-must-fred-hiatt-continue-to-sully-this-poor-pr-ladys-name

  10. pcfs permalink
    January 8, 2011 9:23 pm

    Happy Birthday Stacy.

  11. Vcal permalink
    January 8, 2011 10:21 pm

    God bless you Stacy for all your hard work on our beloved Hillary.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

  12. January 9, 2011 9:55 am

    Thank you all for the birthday wishes. I was a bit surprised to see Micah call me out given she has never ever commented on this blog before. Hrmph.

    Scooter’s gift to me yesterday was a furball, some lint and a twist-tie. She also wants me to adopt a sibling for her to play with and specifically this one:

    http://www.thebostonchannel.com/news/26400374/detail.html

    • Seamus permalink
      January 9, 2011 11:01 am

      Happy birthday to one of the best webmistresses ever!😉 You have a lot of fans here in Northern Ireland because I’ve passed along your site to my politically active friends. I particularly like your commentary.

      As for that kitten at the link above- that is the saddest story and anyone who uses such inhumane traps should be taken out and shot. I don’t believe in violence but people who hurt animals and children really piss me the f*ck off. Run don’t walk to go adopt that kitten so Scooter can have a sister again!

      Many happy returns and a wonderful birthday!

      A rose for you:

      @)- – ‘—,—>–

  13. January 12, 2011 10:38 am

    Hotel Ipek Palas is a special class hotel which is located in the old city and you can reach the historical places like Hagia Sophia Museum, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace and Hippodrome within a few minutes walking distance. Hotel Ipek Palas was built as a hotel with Ottoman architechture in 1889 and witnessed a political history like Ottoman and Republic times with its capacity boosted in 1948.

    Istanbul Hotel Ipek Palas welcomes you in the lobby with shining entrance and impressive view is in the first place among the indispensables of the hotel. The Ottoman air which surrounds the lobby turns into a relaxing atmosphere in the rooms.

  14. January 12, 2011 11:49 am

    Hotel Ipek Palas is a special class hotel which is located in the old city and you can reach the historical places like Hagia Sophia Museum, Sultan Ahmet Mosque, Basilica Cistern, Topkapi Palace and Hippodrome within a few minutes walking distance. Hotel Ipek Palas was built as a hotel with Ottoman architechture in 1889 and witnessed a political history like Ottoman and Republic times with its capacity boosted in 1948.

    Istanbul Hotel Ipek Palas welcomes you in the lobby with shining entrance and impressive view is in the first place among the indispensables of the hotel. The Ottoman air which surrounds the lobby turns into a relaxing atmosphere in the rooms.

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