The Saudis: Which Side Are They On?

The Saudis: Which Side Are They On?

Saudi officials announced Monday that they had arrested 56 members of Al-Qaeda, who were at an “advanced stage” of planning jihad terror attacks within the Kingdom.

This would seem to support President Bush’s statement from last October, when in order to free up aid from the Saudis he declared: “I hereby certify that Saudi Arabia is cooperating with efforts to combat international terrorism and that the proposed assistance will help facilitate that effort.” As jarring as it may be to contemplate the notion that the United States is providing aid to the oil-rich House of Saud, these arrests indicate that at least it seems to be paying off.

Yet nagging questions remain. Last September, Stuart Levey, the Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, noted that the Saudis had not prosecuted even a single individual who has been identified by the U.S. or the U.N. as a bankroller of jihad terror. “If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country,” Levey said, “it would be Saudi Arabia.”

What’s more, an undercover reconnaissance survey of mosques and Islamic schools all over the United States has found that as many as seventy-five percent of mosques and Islamic schools in this country preach jihad warfare and Islamic supremacism. Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, according to a World Net Daily report, “confirmed that ‘the vast majority’ are inciting insurrection and jihad through sermons by Saudi-trained imams and anti-Western literature, videos and textbooks.”

The Saudis fund a significant number of the mosques in this country. Warith Deen Muhammad, a prominent American Muslim leader and the son of Nation of Islam founder Elijah Muhammad, explained what’s wrong with the Saudi influence in American mosques: “In Saudi Arabia it’s the Wahhabi school of thought…and they say, ‘We’re gonna give you our money, then we want you to…prefer our school of thought.” That’s in there whether they say it or not. So there is a problem receiving gifts that seem to have no attachment, no strings attached.”

But why would the Saudis be encouraging jihadist sensibilities among Muslims in the United States while arresting Al-Qaeda operatives inside the Kingdom? Abu Zubaydah, a captured Al-Qaeda operative, claimed that the House of Saud had made a deal with Al-Qaeda: financing for the jihad around the world, in exchange for immunity from jihadi attacks within Saudi Arabia itself.

The Saudis have denied this, and in any case the deal seems to be off. There have been several jihad attacks inside Saudi Arabia in recent years, but Stuart Levey is not out in left field in thinking that the Saudis continue to support terror in an enthusiastic — and effective — manner. Secret files revealed in Britain several weeks ago show Saudi officials threatening British investigators with another jihad attack on the scale of the July 7, 2005 bombings in London if they didn’t drop inquiries into corruption in their arms deals. Who is supposed to have made these threats? Prince Bandar, head of Saudi Arabia’s national security council and son of its crown prince.
 
In light of all this, it is likely that the 56 freshly-arrested members of Al-Qaeda are guilty in the eyes of the House of Saud not of waging jihad warfare as such, but simply of waging jihad warfare in the wrong place: inside the Kingdom. And given the Kingdom’s notoriously spotty human rights record, it is also likely that these suspects will not be offered the amenities of the Guantanamo camp about which Saudi authorities have issued complaints. And their arrests should not prevent American officials from asking tough questions about where the Saudis really stand, and what we can realistically expect from their alliance with the United States. When the Saudis refused to cut America a break on oil prices during President Bush’s trip to Riyadh in January, it should have been a wake-up call for anyone who still considered the Saudis a reliable ally in the war on terror. And this latest arrest of Al-Qaeda operatives shouldn’t lead anyone to go back to sleep, either.

Obama’s Iraqi Oil for Food connection

Obama’s Iraqi Oil for Food connection

By Andrew Walden

Out on bail awaiting trial, dual US-Syrian citizen, Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko, was rousted out of bed by police pounding on the doors of his Chicago mansion the morning of Monday, January 28. According to the Associated Press:

 “U.S. District Judge Amy J. St. Eve jailed Rezko…saying he had disobeyed her order to keep her posted on his financial status.  Among other things, he failed to tell her about a $3.5 million loan from London-based Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi — a loan that was later forgiven in exchange for shares in a prime slice of Chicago real estate.  Rezko gave $700,000 of the money to his wife and used the rest to pay legal bills and funnel cash to various supporters.”
Funds from Auchi’s loan may have helped finance a complex series of transactions between Rezko and Democratic Presidential candidate Illinois Senator Barack Obama involving the 2005 purchase of Obama’s Chicago mansion and Rezko’s purchase of an adjoining landlocked parcel.
The Times of London reports:
“A company related to Mr. Auchi, who has a conviction for corruption in France, registered the loan to Mr. Obama’s bagman Antoin ‘Tony’ Rezko on May, 23 2005. Mr. Auchi says the loan, through the Panamanian company Fintrade Services SA, was for $3.5 million.

“Three weeks later, Mr. Obama bought a house on the city’s South Side while Mr Rezko’s wife bought the garden plot next door from the same seller on the same day, June 15.  Mr. Obama says he never used Mrs. Rezko’s still-empty lot, which could only be accessed through his property. But he admits he paid his gardener to mow the lawn.”

Rezko’s relationship with Barack Obama goes back to at least 1990, when Obama’s law firm did work relating to a Rezko housing development.  Rezko was a key early-money fund raiser in Obama’s state Senate campaigns and his failed run at the US Congress.  In June 2005, when the mansion was purchased, Rezko was widely known to be under federal investigation.  Rezko also is a key fundraiser for Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich.
The sudden emergence of Auchi into this story indicates Rezko’s deals may include a money trail leading back to dead Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.  Auchi’s Saddam links trace back to a failed 1959 assassination attempt on the life of then-Iraqi-prime-minister Abdul Karim Qasim.
Auchi’s General Mediterranean Holdings company was also the largest private shareholder in Banque Nationale de Paris which later merged with Paribas to become BNP Paribas.  At Saddam’s insistence, billions of dollars of Oil for Food transactions passed through BNP from its 1995 inception until 2001. 
In January 2004, Iraqi newspaper Al-Mada published a list of 270 Oil for Food beneficiaries.  The list was translated and published on line by The Middle East Media Research Institute.  Hundreds of millions of dollars of Oil for Food money was illegally diverted to buy Saddam favor from the United Nations, possibly reaching as high as Secretary general Kofi Annan’s son.  Also receiving million’s from Saddam’s slush fund were heads of state and their associates from Russia, France, China, and numerous Islamic countries.       
The Auchi-Obama links go beyond the mansion deal.  The Times of London February 1 reports uncovering, “state documents in Illinois recording that Fintrade Services, a Panamanian company, lent money to (an) Obama fundraiser in May 2005. Fintrade’s directors include Ibtisam Auchi, the name of Mr. Auchi’s wife.” 
Auchi, a Chaldean Christian, was later pardoned by Qasim.  As Saddam’s Baath party took power, Auchi prospered.  He went to work for the Iraqi Ministry of Oil in 1967.  He rose to be Oil Ministry Director of Planning and Development before leaving Iraq in 1979.  His brother was apparently killed by Saddam’s regime as were family of many high-ranking Baathists.  But there are also claims that Auchi continued secretly working for Saddam’s intelligence services, a kind of dual reality not uncommon in the twisted world of Saddam’s upper echelons. 
What is certain is that Auchi prospered mightily collecting “commissions” on sale of weapons and other goods to Iraq in the 1980s and 1990s.  Living in the UK, he is now listed as Britain’s 18th-richest man.  The Times of London reports, “On the 20th anniversary of his business in 1999, Mr. Auchi received a greeting card signed by 130 politicians, including (Prime Minister) Tony Blair, (Conservative Party leader) William Hague and (Liberal-Democratic Party leader) Charles Kennedy….”
In spite of his British connections and an earlier 2004 US visit, Auchi was denied entry into the US in 2005.  It is believed that he was attempting in 2005 to win a US visa with the help of Rezko several as-yet-unnamed Illinois political figures.  Among Auchi’s many international awards is a 2005 election as an “Honorary Member in the International College of Surgeons in Chicago, Illinois.”  Obama has denied trying to help Auchi.        
Auchi has played a role in BNP since the late 1970s.  When BNP was privatized by the French government in 1993, Auchi acquired stock in the banking giant through his Luxembourg-based company, General Mediterranean Holdings.  Auchi played a key role in BNP’s 2000 merger with Paribas.  According to the New York Times, “As recently as 2001, General Mediterranean Holdings described itself in an annual report as one of largest single shareholders in BNP Paribas.”  Saddam used Oil for Food fraud to channel millions of dollars to heads of state, activists, terrorists, and journalists–many of whom returned the favor by backing Saddam in 2003 when the US finally invaded.
In 2003 Auchi was convicted in France for receiving about $100 million in illegal commissions as part of a scandal involving the French oil giant Elf Aquitane.  The UK Guardian wrote:
“(Elf was) the biggest fraud inquiry in Europe since the Second World War.  Elf became a private bank for its executives who spent £200 million on political favours, mistresses, jewellery, fine art, villas and apartments.” 
Auchi’s General Mediterranean Holdings also has connections to the new Iraq-connections which lead right back to Tony Rezko.  Auchi’s company helped finance a 250 megawatt power plant in the Kurdish town of Chamchamal, Iraq, teaming up with Rezko and Iraq’s former Minister of Electricity, Aiham Alsamarrae.  Alsamarrae, a Chicago resident with dual US-Iraqi citizenship is accused of graft involving Iraq reconstruction projects-an embarrassing connection for the war critic Obama.  
Returning in 2003 to post-Saddam Iraq, Alsamarrae had been made Minister of Electricity under the occupation government of Paul Bremer.  Alsamarrae escaped in what he called “the Chicago way” from the Green Zone in December, 2006 after being held for four months in relation to a $2 billion Iraqi reconstruction corruption case.  He is now living in his Chicago mansion.
Writing in Human Events, March 3, 2008, John Batchelor reports on an Alsammarae-Obama-Rezko connection:
“…in April 2005, one month before Mr. Alsammarae left his post, his Ministry of Electricity signed a contract for $50 million with Companion Security to provide training to Iraqis to guard electrical plants by flying them to Illinois for classes.

“Companion Security was headed by a former Chicago policeman with a troubled history, Daniel T. Frawley, in partnership with Mr. Rezko and in association with Daniel Mahru, the lawyer for the original contract and Mr. Rezko’s former business partner. In April 2006, Mr. Frawley entered negotiations with Governor Rod Blagojevich’s staff to lease a military facility in Illinois to be a training camp. In August 2006, Mr. Frawley started negotiations with Mr. Obama’s U.S. Senate staff to complete the contract….

“The timeline of Companion discussions in 2006 is important to note: April 2006 Frawley speaks to governor’s office; August 2006 Frawley speaks to senator’s office; October 2006 indictment of Rezko revealed; October 2006 Rezko arrested upon return from Syria; October 2006 Alsammarae convicted in Baghdad and makes his first escape attempt; December 2006 Alsammarae escapes from Baghdad. …

“(In 2004) Mr. Auchi traveled by private aircraft to Midway Airport in Chicago and then to a fete at the Four Season Hotel, where he met with his business partner in Chicago real estate, Mr. Rezko, as well as with Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. Also present that night, according to a fresh report by James Bone and Dominic Kennedy of the London Times, was State Senator Barack Obama, who had recently won the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate seat….”

Most politicians try to keep their financial backers out of trouble until after the election.  But Rezko, is already indicted by a federal grand jury.  And now his trial has begun in a Chicago federal court.
Rezko, along with Ali Ata and Abdelhamid Chaib, face federal grand jury charges presented in October 2006 by U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois Patrick Fitzgerald.  The case revolves around allegations of fraud between 2000 and 2004 in the sale of 17 Papa Johns’ Pizza parlors in Detroit, Chicago and Milwaukee.  The case may begin with pizza but it could easily lead back to Europe, Syria, Iraq, and the UN Oil for Food program. 
Fitzgerald is the prosecutor who won perjury convictions against Vice President Cheney’s Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, in March, 2007.  Chaib is an officer of several of Rezko’s restaurant chains including Chicagoland Panda Express franchises.  Ata was appointed Executive Director of the Illinois Finance Authority by Governor Blagojevich.  Ata was also a former president of the Chicago Chapter of the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, and had a financial interest in Rezko’s restaurants.  Ata reportedly donated as much as $60,000 to Blagojevich and $5,000 to Obama.  Rezko reportedly raised as much as $500,000 for Blagojevich and at least $70,000 for Obama’s various campaigns.  Obama has redirected as much as $150,000 in donations “bundled” by Rezko.    
Rezko has other unsavory financial ties.  Arab American Media Services reports:
“In 1997, Panda Express won the right to open a lucrative concession at O’Hare International Airport under the city’s Minority Set-Aside program which directs large contracts to companies owned by Women, African Americans or Hispanics.  The city awarded a 10-year contract for O’Hare Airport to Crucial Inc. in 1999, which the city believed was owned by an African American, Jabir Herbert Muhammad, the son of the late Elijah Mohammad.”
Elijah Mohammad led the Nation of Islam until his death in 1975.  Jabir Herbert Muhammad was sued in 1999 by boxer Muhammad Ali for unauthorized use of his name in connection with the so-called Muhammad Ali Foundation.  Rezko served as Executive Director of the Foundation.
Jay Stewart of the Better Government Assn. in Chicago told the LA Times:
“Everybody in this town knew that Tony Rezko was headed for trouble.  When he got indicted, there wasn’t a single insider who was surprised.  It was viewed as a long time coming. . . . Why would you be having anything to do with Tony Rezko, particularly if you’re planning to run for president?”
At a March 3 news conference in San Antonio, Texas, Chicago-based reporters peppered Obama with some of the questions the national news corps has avoided for over a year.  Obama claims he had already answered the questions in the Chicago media.  He said: “These requests, I think, could just go on forever.  At some point, what we need to try to do is respond to what’s pertinent.”
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote:
“Reporters, however, had a different idea of what was pertinent, and the questions about Rezko, NAFTA and other unpleasant subjects continued to come. An aide called out ‘last question,’ and Obama made his move for the exit — only for reporters to shout after him in protest. ‘C’mon, guys,’ he pleaded. ‘I just answered, like, eight questions.'”
Obama has refused to sit down at length with the Chicago reporters who have worked this story for years.  But as Milbank pointed out, “The questioning…has only just begun.”  With old-time Chicago corruption now going international-and Presidential–finding those answers is more urgent than ever.

Obama’s Real Mideast Problem

Obama’s Real Mideast Problem

By Amir Taheri
New York Post | 3/6/2008

IS pronouncing a man’s middle name tantamount to insulting him? In Sen. Barack Obama‘s case, the answer appears to be yes.

Sen. Hillary Clinton has already apologized because her allies used the unmentionable middle name – ostensibly without her consent. Last week, it was Sen. John McCain‘s turn to apologize, because the host of a meeting he attended was rash enough to pronounce the seven-letter word.

The word in question is “Hussein,” Obama’s middle name and the name of his Kenyan Muslim father. Obama has accepted the apologies as if using his father’s name was, indeed, an insult. Why?

Well, “Hussein” supposedly has a negative resonance with many Americans, reminding them of Saddam Hussein, the late Iraqi dictator. The fact that the name Hussein means “most benign” or “very beautiful” in Arabic isn’t enough to persuade Obama and his pr gurus to treat it more kindly. (Hussein is also one of the most popular names for Muslims, especially Shiites.)

Obama’s problems shouldn’t end there. “Barack” is also Arabic, from “barakah,” meaning “blessing.” “Obama,” meanwhile, is a word in Swahili – a language based on Arabic that serves as the lingua franca of East Africa; it refers to members of his father’s tribe who converted to Islam.

In other words, “Barack Hussein Obama” is a perfectly common identifier for someone with an ethnic East African Muslim background.

Nevertheless, Obama insists that, while his father and paternal grandfather were both Muslims, he himself was never one in any way.

In Islam, of course, anyone born of a Muslim father is automatically regarded as Muslim. But Obama is hardly obliged to abide by what Muslims may or may not think of his religious status. As a citizen of a free and democratic state, he can cross from one faith to anther or have no faith at all without losing any of his rights, including the right to stand for the highest office.

What’s troubling about Obama’s approach to the mini-storm stirred by his political enemies over his name is what may look like an attempt at obfuscation. He has behaved as if he did have a family secret, and as if the name Hussein was something to be ashamed of – or, worse still, as if a Muslim background is somehow a handicap for an American politician in ways that Christian, Jewish, Mormon or any other faith is not.

That, of course, is hurtful to Muslims – a majority of whom reject the anti-American diatribes of the radical and violent minority.

It would’ve been better for Obama to state the situation clearly at the start: I was born in Hawaii and spent part of my childhood in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country. Half of my family background is Islamic. My paternal grandfather and father were both Kenyan Muslims. My father gave me an Islamic forename and middle name. But my mother was from a Christian background, and I chose her faith.

Most Americans judge a candidate based on his politics rather than his parents’ religious background. In a country where everyone has a rich ethnic and religious background, Obama’s family story wouldn’t have sounded that exotic. Some Americans may have even regarded the Islamic part of Obama’s family story as a plus for the candidate, if only because the biggest challenge to US global leadership todayscomes from forces speaking in Islam’s name.

Obama’s efforts to distance himself from Islam contrasts with his innovative approach to US relations with its Islamist challengers.

President Bush has chosen the “iron fist” – invading Afghanistan and Iraq, quarantining the Islamic Republic in Iran, keeping Syria’s Baathist regime in check and helping a dozen Muslim states fight al Qaeda or its variants. McCain and Clinton offer variations on the same theme, albeit with twists and turns to satisfy their constituencies.

By contrast, Obama offers a policy of dialogue and accommodation. He has opposed listing Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and proposed a grand bargain with Syria’s rulers. He is even prepared to ignore two UN Security Council resolutions that require Iran to stop its uranium-enrichment program as a precondition for talks at the highest level. He has campaigned for a formal congressional move to prevent Bush from taking any military action against Tehran.

In an important symbolic move designed to signal an end of the special relationship between Israel and America, Obama has become the first major presidential candidate in 25 years not to commit himself to transferring the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Last but not least, Obama has promised to withdraw from Iraq in his first year in office – meeting a key demand of all radical Islamist forces, Sunni and Shiite.

The message is clear: Obama wants a new relationship with radical forces in the Islamic world while distancing America from its traditional regional allies. In other words, he proposes to reverse policies that have taken shape over more than six decades under 12 successive American presidents.

It’s this revolutionary idea that deserves to be examined and debated, not the origin and meaning of Obama’s middle name.

Chávez, the FARC, and Threats of War

Chávez, the FARC, and Threats of War

By Ray Walser
The Heritage Foundation | 3/6/2008

On March 1, Raúl Reyes, the nom de guerre of Luis Édgar Devia Silva, a senior leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), died as he had lived–violently–on the borderland between Colombia and Venezuela. A commander of the FARC’s Southern Bloc, Reyes stood in line for a top leadership position in the narco-terrorist group. In the eyes of Colombian law, the 59-year-old, avuncular-looking Reyes was a natural-born killer with more than 121 legal cases opened against him, 57 of them for homicide and acts of terrorism, and 14 convictions.

At the time of his death, there was a $5 million reward for information leading to Reyes’ arrest and/or conviction, offered by the U.S. government. The Colombian Minister of Defense called Reyes’ death a major setback for the terrorist guerrilla organization.

The engagement that killed Reyes and 16 other FARC insurgents occurred on the Ecuador side of the border and appears to have involved possible violations of Ecuadorian sovereignty. The reaction of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez to a bilateral incident and his order to militarize the Colombia-Venezuela frontier threaten to escalate the incident into a full-blown regional crisis. This is an opportunity for the Organization of American States (OAS) and regional leaders to play a stronger role in crisis management and addressing threats to hemispheric security.

Sovereignty vs. Safe Havens

Many details about the operation remain sketchy and conflicting. It is unclear whether the Colombian military located Reyes by tracking his satellite phone or by getting information from an informant. The Colombians say they were fired upon and returned fire in self-defense. Ecuadorians say Reyes and his troops were camped for the night on Ecuadorian territory and were not in a fighting posture.

Nonetheless, it is clear that Colombia launched a joint air-land operation against a FARC encampment that crossed into Ecuador. The distance of the incursion remains in dispute. While Colombian President Alvaro Uribe apparently briefed President Rafael Correa of Ecuador on the operation hours after the attack, Correa now claims he was misled and misinformed by his Colombian counterpart and has denounced Reyes’ death as “the worst aggression suffered by Ecuador at the hands of Colombia.” The details of the operation will be disputed and investigated in the weeks ahead.

On March 2, the Colombian military reported that it had recovered “revealing” information from computers captured in Reyes’ effects, including records of contacts with senior security officials in Ecuador who were reportedly interested in “formalizing a relationship with the FARC.” Authorities in Quito denied any links between the FARC and officials in Ecuador.

The situation surrounding Reyes’ death demands further objective investigation. Furthermore, governments and citizens must recognize that terrorists and insurgents, be they narco-terrorists in the FARC, al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan, or Kurdish terrorists in Iraq, show no respect for frontiers and national sovereignty.

“A Good Revolutionary”

In his Sunday address to the nation on March 2, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez eulogized Reyes as “a good revolutionary” and called the Colombian operation “a cowardly assassination.”

By once more defending the FARC, Chávez showed his troublesome and increasingly strident interventionist streak in Colombia. The most recent crisis can be traced back to Chávez’s August 2007 involvement as a “mediator” in a humanitarian effort to obtain the release of kidnap victims held by the FARC. The number of hostages held by the FARC is estimated to run into the hundreds and includes former presidential candidate and French-Colombian citizen Ingrid Betancourt and three American contractors.

In November 2007, following unauthorized direct contact between Chávez and the Colombian military, President Uribe told Chávez to stand down in his efforts, provoking a vehement reaction by Chávez. In early 2008, Chávez, with assistance from the Red Cross and others, succeeded in obtaining the release of two female political hostages. Another four political hostages were released on February 28.

On January 11, 2008, still riding high after the first release, Chávez applauded the FARC’s release of hostages and urged Europeans and others to remove the FARC from the ranks of international terrorist organizations. The FARC, Chávez announced, was a genuine army, occupying territory and fighting for the Bolivarian cause. Although the FARC has been spurned by responsible leaders and the Colombian people, Chávez has attempted to grant new legitimacy to the discredited narco-terrorists.

Chávez’s support for the FARC provoked an outpouring of public opposition to the FARC and its violent ways, culminating in massive street rallies in Colombia on February 4 that were echoed by smaller events around the world.

In early February, Wilber Varela, aka “Soap,” a leader of Colombia’s violent North Valley cartel, was murdered on Venezuelan soil. The episode raised troubling questions about links between drug lords and Venezuelan authorities. Investigative journalists in Colombia have also raised questions regarding the secretive activities of General Hugo Armando Carvajal, Chávez’s chief of military intelligence, citing anonymous witnesses who were present at repeated meetings between the general and FARC leaders.

On the Alert

In response to the Ecuador incident, Chávez issued maneuver orders on March 2: “Move 10 battalions to the Colombian frontier immediately, tank battalions, military aviation!” Chávez announced he was closing Venezuela’s embassy in Bogota and said that he would strike Colombia if its military forces made a similar incursion into Venezuela.

This response illustrates Chávez’s increasing bellicosity. Two weeks ago, following the filing of a massive suit against Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PdVSA, Chávez threatened to cut off oil shipments to the U.S. if the suit harmed Venezuela, a statement he later modified to mean if attacked by the U.S.

At home, Chávez faces mounting inflation, food shortages caused by his anti-market economics, and soaring crime rates. The current crisis also gives Chávez a chance to call attention to the package of military hardware that includes Russian-made helicopters and 24 new Su-30MK2 multi-role fighters.

Conclusion

Venezuela’s escalation of the border incident between Colombia and Ecuador is an unwelcome step toward the abyss. While war may not be imminent, Chávez’s truculent and trigger-happy approach to the diplomatic crisis has set alarm bells ringing throughout the hemisphere.

The heightened risk of conflict between Venezuela and Colombia requires immediate action by the Hemisphere’s regional body. The Organization of American States (OAS), now on the verge of celebrating its 60th anniversary, has an excellent opportunity to act. OAS Secretary General Miguel Insulza has a number of tools available to facilitate a calming of emotions and a more impartial approach to crisis management. Yet he will face opposition from Chávez and his supporters, who will attempt to scapegoat the U.S. for the death of a convicted murderer and terrorists. Regrettably, the U.S. Congress has yet to confirm the U.S. ambassador to the OAS.

The crisis is also an opportunity for a regional leader like Brazil to adopt a more proactive stance on hemispheric security threats and to insert itself into a spiraling contest that pits Chávez and his bloc of allies against the elected and legitimate government of Colombia. While the threat of a war between states may diminish in the days ahead, the triangular struggle between President Uribe of Colombia, the FARC, and its increasingly vocal supporters in Presidents Chávez and Correa will require ongoing efforts at crisis management in an increasingly dangerous part of the world.


Ray Walser is Senior Policy Analyst for Latin America in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.