"Britain's diplomatic strategy in Zimbabwe collapsed last night in an historic defeat for the West in the UN Security Council that will have repercussions across Africa and beyond," The Times reported. "Russia and China wielded their veto to kill a resolution imposing UN sanctions on President Mugabe and his inner circle in a defining vote in the 15-nation council. "Sir John Sawers, the British Ambassador to the UN, said: 'The people of Zimbabwe need to be given hope that there is an end in sight to their suffering. The Security Council today has failed to offer them that hope'." The New York Times said: "Zalmay Khalilzad, the American ambassador to the United Nations, was particularly scathing in his remarks about Russia, saying that Moscow had supported a joint statement criticizing the situation in Zimbabwe by the leaders of the Group of 8 industrialized nations meeting in Japan this week. But he also singled out President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa as a target for barbed remarks. "'The U-turn in the Russian position is particularly surprising and disturbing,' Mr Khalilzad said in remarks to the Security Council, saying it raised questions about Russia's reliability as a partner. "The United States proposed an arms embargo, the appointment of a United Nations mediator, and travel and financial restrictions against Mr Mugabe and 13 top military and government officials. The Council has moved away from broad trade sanctions in recent years because they were considered too harmful to the civilian population." In The Daily Telegraph, David Blomfield wrote: "Part of the reason for this reluctance to isolate repressive regimes is that Russia does not want to create a precedent that could one day return to bite it. After all, the West wants to punish Mr Mugabe for intimidating the opposition, stealing an election and browbeating his people. Similar charges could be drawn against Russia, which may not be as brutal as Zimbabwe but is, in many ways, as repressive. "Zimbabwe, at least, has an opposition of sorts. It is not the first time that Russia has stood against the wishes of Britain, France and the United States, the Western members of the Security Council, in recent years. In fact, the Kremlin has started to wield its veto, or the threat of it, almost as often as in Soviet times." The Los Angeles Times reported: "In Zimbabwe, the Movement for Democratic Change said 113 of its activists had been killed in violence since the elections, including one found dead Thursday. Gift Mutsvungunu, an MDC polling agent, disappeared last week. His eyes had been gouged out and his back was badly burned, according to the MDC. "Hundreds of other activists are in hiding, including one who sent a cellphone text message to The Times in Harare at midnight recently: 'Pliz help me, my life is in danger.' "Despite the violence, the opposition's lobbying for a tough Security Council resolution was hampered when its own negotiators, including the party secretary general, Tendai Biti, met officials of the Mugabe regime in Pretoria, South Africa. "Although the MDC insisted that Biti's mission was only to formally set down the opposition's conditions for negotiations to begin, the visit was widely perceived in the international media as signaling a resumption of talks."
"Lebanon announced a 30-member national unity government on Friday after almost five weeks of disputes over the distribution of portfolios. The lineup was announced in a decree signed by President Michel Sleiman and Prime Minister Fouad Siniora following a short meeting between them and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri," The Daily Star reported. "The formation of the Cabinet came in line with the accord sealed in Doha on May 21 which allocated 16 cabinet seats to the parliamentary majority, 11 to the opposition, and three to the president. "The opposition took the coveted posts of foreign minister, telecommunications minister and deputy premier in the new Cabinet, while the ruling bloc kept the Finance Ministry." The New York Times said: "The expanded power of Hizbollah and its allies was visible in last-minute negotiations on Friday, when Mr Siniora was apparently forced to accept an opposition member, whom he had previously refused, in the cabinet. Under the May deal, the opposition won one of its key demands: a 'blocking third' in the cabinet, which allows it to stop any major government decision. "However, the only post Hizbollah took in the cabinet was that of the Labor Minister. The other 10 seats allotted to the opposition went to Hizbollah's allies. The Shiite group has been exercising political power discreetly, preferring to avoid the fears that might be stirred if it appeared to be taking control of the state. The new president, the former army chief Michel Suleiman, appointed 3 of the 30 cabinet members, and the Western-backed government majority chose 16." In World Politics Review, William Wheeler wrote: "When [US] Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Eric S Edelman visited with top officials in Lebanon May 31, he brought more than just words of encouragement. Timed with his visit, a shipment of body armor, helmets and more than 1.3 million rounds of ammunition was delivered to the Lebanese Armed Forces - the latest installment in an ongoing program of military and economic aid that has made Lebanon, on a per capita basis, the second-highest recipient of US assistance. On the heels of sectarian clashes in May, in which Hizbollah-allied forces largely routed pro-government Sunni fighters, the move is an indication that the United States is not ready to abandon the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora ahead of next year's critical parliamentary elections. "Since 2006, the United States has committed over $371 million in security assistance," said a statement from the US embassy, which promised 'the United States will continue to provide equipment and training to the LAF.' "So far, that assistance includes 285 Humvees, 200 cargo trucks, helicopter repair parts, assault rifles, grenade launchers, anti-tank weapons and urban warfare bunker weapons, with another 300 Humvees, mobile communications systems, and coastal patrol craft to come."
"A CIA analyst warned the Bush administration in 2002 that up to a third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have been imprisoned by mistake, but White House officials ignored the finding and insisted that all were 'enemy combatants' subject to indefinite incarceration, according to a new book critical of the administration's terrorism policies," The Washington Post reported. "The CIA assessment directly challenged the administration's claim that the detainees were all hardened terrorists - the 'worst of the worst,' as then-Defense Secretary Donald H Rumsfeld said at the time. But a top aide to Vice President Cheney shrugged off the report and squashed proposals for a quick review of the detainees' cases, author Jane Mayer writes in 'The Dark Side,' scheduled for release next week. "'There will be no review,' the book quotes Cheney staff director David Addington as saying. 'The president has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it.'" The New York Times said: "Red Cross investigators concluded last year in a secret report that the Central Intelligence Agency's interrogation methods for high-level Qa'eda prisoners constituted torture and could make the Bush administration officials who approved them guilty of war crimes, according to a new book on counterterrorism efforts since 2001. "The book says that the International Committee of the Red Cross declared in the report, given to the CIA last year, that the methods used on Abu Zubaydah, the first major Qa'eda figure the United States captured, were 'categorically' torture, which is illegal under both American and international law. "The book says Abu Zubaydah was confined in a box 'so small he said he had to double up his limbs in the fetal position' and was one of several prisoners to be 'slammed against the walls,' according to the Red Cross report. The report added that the book: "also describes a frightening false alarm at the White House on Oct 18, 2001, when, it says, an alarm went off on a machine designed to detect biological, chemical or radiological attacks. According to the book, among those who believed they might have been exposed to a pathogen was Vice President Dick Cheney. "Ms Mayer quotes an unnamed 'former administration official' as saying, 'They thought that Cheney was already lethally infected.' "A spokeswoman for Mr Cheney, Lea Anne McBride, said his office had not seen the book and could not comment. An administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to comment on the issue said aides had investigated the book's account at Ms Mayer's request and that 'no one recalls such an incident.'
"Sudanese officials on Friday largely shrugged off reports that the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor is seeking the arrest of the country's president on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, reiterating their rejection of the court's authority," The Los Angeles Times reported. "Officials also discounted fears that Sudan would retaliate against United Nations peacekeepers and aid workers if warrants are issued, but warned that such an action would disrupt peace efforts and unite Sudanese citizens against outside interference. "The ICC's chief prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, plans to submit evidence Monday of crimes committed against civilians in Sudan's Darfur region since 2003 and, officials said, will ask judges to issue arrest warrants for President Omar Hassan Ahmed Bashir on allegations of genocide and crimes against humanity. The Times said: "UN officials fear that the charges, which must be approved by ICC judges, could precipitate the collapse of the fragile peacekeeping force in Darfur, where about 300,000 people have died since government-backed Janjawid Arab militias began driving villagers from their homes in 2003. "The UN has ordered thousands of peacekeepers in Sudan to regroup and sent in extra provisions. Peacekeeping commanders and other key personnel have been told to cut short leave and return to their posts." In The Guardian, Jonathan Steele wrote: "The indictment, if it comes as expected on Monday, still has to be upheld by an ICC tribunal. The next stage would be for the Security Council to decide what action to take to implement an arrest warrant. Even if vetoed, as it probably would be by either Russia or China or both, the existence of an ICC arrest warrant in itself would make it hard for Bashir to travel abroad. Perhaps more importantly, it would put huge pressure on officials of foreign governments to stop their contacts with Sudan's president, and by extension, with the Sudanese government. Even though everyone is innocent until proved guilty, it would be odd for governments to deal with a man and a regime that have been put under such a conspicuous cloud of suspicion. "Who would benefit from this? Almost no one. The conflict in Darfur is too complex and the attempts to resolve it are too delicate for so one-sided and blunt an approach. The two previous cases where incumbent presidents were indicted by international courts (though not the ICC) were very different from Sudan. The Yugoslav president, Slobodan Milosevic, was under military attack from Nato. Negotiations had been cut off. Ultimately, they were renewed but only with the good offices of the Russians who had shown no enthusiasm for the Hague tribunal's indictment. Charles Taylor, the Liberian president, was indicted by a special hybrid court for his activities across the border in Sierra Leone and at a time when the two countries were virtually at war. "The conflict in Darfur is essentially an internal issue with multiple facets, involving the government and various rebel groups, as well as criss-crossing tribal disputes. Atrocities have been committed on all sides. The degree of blame, the extent of the killing and the number of victims are hotly disputed."