Entries in Dictator (7)


Kurdish President Warns of New Iraqi Dictatorship

SAFIN HAMED/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Is Iraq headed toward another Saddam Hussein-style dictatorship?

Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq's semiautonomous Kurdish region, suggested that possibility on Thursday.

Barzani, who was in Washington to meet with President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, said that unless Baghdad resolves simmering disputes involving its ethnic and political factions, the situation would be ripe for an autocratic government.

That would certainly distress the U.S., which spent nine years trying to help the Iraqis build a stable democracy.

Much of the problem lies with Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has been accused of marginalizing Sunnis and Kurds in an effort to consolidate power.

Barzani told reporters, "I have called on all the Iraqi parties and groups to get together and find a solution for this situation."  Otherwise, he would have to explain to the Kurdish population what their next step might entail.

The Kurdish leader was careful not to mention independence from the central government, which most in his region desire.

Tensions between Baghdad and the Kurds have been exacerbated since the Kurdistan Regional Government cut off oil exports to Iraq, saying Baghdad owed it $15 billion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FBI Counter-Terror Official: Al Qaeda 'Thrives' After Dictators Fall

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- On the same day reports emerged of a new al Qaeda video that praised the revolutions sweeping the Arab world, one the U.S.'s top counter-terror officials warned the terror organization "thrives" in the political unrest that follows.

"The governments of Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen have drastically changed in the last six months," FBI Assistant Director of Counter-Terrorism Mark Giuliano said Thursday. "They are now led by transitional or interim governments, military regimes, or democratic alliances with no established track record on counterterrorism efforts. Al Qaeda thrives in such conditions and countries of weak governance and political instability -- countries in which governments may be sympathetic to their campaign of violence."

Giuliano made the comments at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy just hours before the first reports emerged of the new al Qaeda video, which features separate appearances by al Qaeda's number two commander, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and American-born key commander in al Qaeda in the Arabian Penninsula (AQAP), Anwar al-Awlaki, each praising the recent uprisings. In the hour-plus long video, al-Zawahiri orders Muslims in Egypt to create an Islamic state there and calls for the Arab armies of the Middle East to intervene in Libya to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi before "Western aid... turns into invasions."

If Guiliano is wary of Islamic militant influence in the uprisings, especially in Libya, he's is not alone. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her fears the revolt in Libya would be exploited by terror groups at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting in early March.

When President Obama authorized the U.S. government to provide covert support for the Libyan rebels later that month, the deal did not include arms provisions.

"We don't know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know," Clinton said at the time of the rebels the U.S. was supporting.

Eastern Libyan towns now associated with the rebel cause were just a few years before considered by the U.S. as havens for al Qaeda fighters, according to government documents.

Still, one U.S. official saw the new al Qaeda video as just another attempt in al Qaeda's recent, belated efforts to spin the spreading Arab-world protests in their favor.

"Al Qaeda must be pretty damn frustrated these days," the official told ABC News Thursday in response to the video. "Calls for democracy in the Middle East and North Africa don't exactly square with their extremist views. They've been on the wrong side of history -- and humanity -- for years."

Whether their spin on the Arab revolutions is working or not, Guiliano said al Qaeda's ability to reach millions around the globe through such video propaganda and al-Qaeda's English-language online magazine "Inspire" -- which dedicated its whole last issue to supporting the revolutions -- is a serious threat to U.S. security.

In fact, Guiliano said that al-Awlaki's AQAP, which produces "Inspire" in addition to online videos, has become "the most serious threat to the homeland today" -- even more so than Osama Bin Laden's "core" al Qaeda group. That's in part due to their media savvy, he said.

"AQAP... understands and expertly exploits social media to share their knowledge with others of similar mindsets," he said. "They realize the importance and value of reaching English speaking audiences and are using the group's marketing skills to inspire individuals to attack within the homeland."

One U.S. official told ABC News that by having al-Awlaki's message appear with that of senior al Qaeda leadership in the new video -- which is unprecedented -- the "core" al Qaeda group may be using al-Awlaki to reach a "more Western audience."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amb. Rice: U.S. Not Ruling Out Deal for Moammar Gadhafi Exile

ABC News (WASHINGTON) -- Is there a deal in the works to give Moammar Gadhafi safe haven out of Libya?  There are lots of tantalizing clues out there Tuesday, with the New York Post and the Times of London reporting Italian officials are developing a plan that would grant Gadhafi immunity from war crimes prosecution if he goes into exile.  And when UN Ambassador Susan Rice was asked about the idea on Tuesday's Good Morning America, she opened the door pretty far.

“The expectation, both of the Libyan people and the international community is that there needs to be justice for the crimes that are committed,” she said. “But obviously should there be an opportunity for some sort of arrangement for Gadhafi to step aside that is something the Libyan people will have to judge and we will take it as it comes.”

Rice suggested twice that the U.S. would follow the lead of the Libyan rebels. If they’re ok with the deal, all indications point to the U.S. signing off too. Administration officials also say that the U.S. is still getting feelers about a peaceful endgame from people close to Gadhafi. Amb. Rice didn’t deny that either, but said the U.S. needs to see something more concrete.

“I think we will be more persuaded by actions rather than prospects or feelers and I think that the message for Gadhafi and those closest to him is that history is not on his side, time is not on his side, the pressure is mounting, the sanctions are biting and he needs to take a decision that will be for the benefit of the Libyan people,” she said.

Rice also didn’t rule out having the U.S. arm the Libyan rebels if Gadhafi doesn’t go.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Marcos Victims Compensated

Photo Courtesy - NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images(MANILA, Philippines) -- It took 25 years, but victims who suffered human rights abuses under Former Filipino Dictator Ferdinand Marcos will be finally be compensated. The victims' lawyers says the government payout will go to 7,500 people for the Marcos regime's decades long campaign of  execution, abduction, and harassment.

Marcos rose to power in 1965 and ruled the Philippines for 2 decades. His administration was marred by widespread corruption, human rights abuse, and the assassination of a political opposition leader. He was ousted from power 25 years ago by the People Power Revolution.

This class action lawsuit payout would be the first time anybody has received compensation for Marcos' deeds.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


What's Behind Dictator 'Baby Doc' Duvalier's Return to Haiti?

Photo Courtesy - Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the exiled despot who mysteriously arrived in Haiti this past weekend, is expected to address the country Tuesday to explain why he has returned amid cholera, destruction and political instability.

Duvalier, a former dictator exiled to France 25 years ago amid allegations of corruption and murder, returned unannounced to Haiti Sunday.  His arrival is expected to further complicate an already unstable political climate, with many observers inside and out wondering why he would choose to return now amid so much chaos in the wake of last year's earthquake.

"I'm not here for politics," Duvalier told Radio Caraibes Sunday after arriving at the airport.  "I'm here for the reconstruction of Haiti."

Duvalier cancelled a news conference Monday in which he was expected to explain why he chose now to leave his exile in France and what he plans to do in Haiti.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Amnesty International Wants Haiti's "Baby Doc" Prosecuted

Photo Courtesy - Mario Tama/Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- No one is entirely sure why Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier has returned to Haiti after 25 years, but some civil rights groups know what they'd like to do with him.

Duvalier fled to France in 1986 after a 15-year rule of Haiti that was marked by repression and fraud.  Now, Amnesty International and other organizations say that the former dictator must face the consequences of his actions.

Amnesty International Haiti expert Gerardo Ducos said his group has "documented serious human rights violations such as torture, forced disappearances, rape, extra-judicial executions and murders," which he says occurred on Duvalier's watch.

Duvalier, who took over the country from his late father, "Papa Doc" Duvalier, a similarly reviled figure, hasn't publicly announced why he's ended his long exile.  Both were blamed for using a paramilitary force that killed thousands of people.

Arresting Duvalier may be difficult, given the chaotic situation that exists in Haiti following last year's devastating earthquake, and the political instability that resulted after recent presidential elections could not determine the country's next leader.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Former Dictator 'Baby Doc' Makes Surprise Return to Haiti

Photo Courtesy - Mario Tama/Getty Images(PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti) -- Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier landed in Haiti Sunday, marking the first time in 25 years that the former Haitian dictator has been in the country.

For most Haitians, Duvalier's return comes as a surprise.  The 59-year-old ex-dictator, who has been living in exile in France, came back at probably the most difficult time in Haitian political history.  Elections that just took place have been marred by fraud, causing a lot of political instability as the country's future leader remains up in the air.  There's even talk about an interim government being formed that will be a caretaker government for a year.

Duvalier ran Haiti from the late 1970s through the mid 1980s.  Under his reign, thousands of people disappeared or were killed, and many Haitians remember those days as a time of incredible terror.  But they also remember that time as Haiti's political and economic heyday when trains ran on time, streets were paved, kids went to school and there was a greater sense of order than there is today.

Duvalier has not explained the reasoning behind his return nor his intentions while he remains in the country. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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