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Iran Commentary Questions US, British Aid to NGOs in Egypt, Russia
Hamshahri Online
Friday, December 7, 2012


Commentary by Aziz Shahmohammadi entitled: “American Foreign Policy and NGOs”

Some time ago, the Russian federal government published a report exposing the financial and political affiliation of a number of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) active in Russia. According to this report, certain Russian NGOs have been directly receiving money, and political and intelligence cover from US and British embassies. The Russian federal government`s report was so accurate that the US embassy had no choice but to adopt silence, and the British ambassador to Moscow was forced to obey London`s policy in this respect.

The affiliated Russian NGOs were all active in delegitimizing some of the policies of the government and undermining actions focused on political convergence in Russia. These actions took place within the framework of diversity (ethnic, religious, and ...) (as published here and throughout) and these NGOs were supported in line with the plan to strengthen Russian democracy. The purpose of strengthening democracy was to give prominence and reinforce ethnic/religious groups to such a degree to provide the grounds for the “nation`s transformation.”

It is natural that when the concept of a nation is destabilized within the framework of a geographical boundary (country), the grounds for that country`s division and secessionism are provided. Anti-russian measures by the United States and Britain may be natural because of the history of competition between the West and Russia but according to reports by Egyptian newspapers, the United States is pursuing the same plan in Egypt. According to Al-Ahram, the United States has targeted this country`s Coptic Christians and they are supporting 40 NGOs in Egypt in the fields of health, training, infrastructural work and the civil society. Over the past five years, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which is affiliated with the US Department of State, has spent $200 million in Egypt`s Coptic Christian regions in the fields of water purification, sewage, providing drinking water, etc ... James Cander (?), who is in charge of this project in Egypt said that this payment has been made directly to Coptic Christian NGOs in Egypt (government within government). In addition, $2.2 million has been paid directly to strengthen the internal structure of these NGOs in Egypt. In a hearing session of the US Senate, Cander had said that one of the duties of these NGOs is the monitoring of news related to religious tolerance in Egypt. According to Egypt`s regulations, there is no ban on foreign aid to NGOs but this aid must not be based on ethnic and religious grounds; the exact same thing the US government is engaged in, in Egypt. According to the US budget law of 2008, more than half of the $50 million budget for “democracy and governance” in Egypt will be allocated directly to Coptic groups. Recently, the United States has been openly speaking of increased pressure on Egypt`s Copts; something that has so far been mentioned neither by Copts nor by other ethnic groups.

(Description of Source: Tehran Hamshahri Online in Persian -- Website of daily owned by Tehran municipality; editorial line shifts to reflect views of mayor, currently conservative Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf who at times opposes President Ahmadinezhad; founded in 1991;

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Russia: NGOs Not Complying With `Foreign Agents` Law Get Presidential Grants
Nezavisimaya Gazeta Online
Thursday, December 6, 2012

Article by Ivan Rodin: “Foreign Agents With Presidential Grants”

Lyudmila Alekseyeva does not consider herself a “foreign agent.” Thus far, no one is complying with the new law on NGOs.

The law requiring NGOs receiving grants from abroad to register as foreign agents has been in effect in Russia for 2 weeks. However, the special registry at the Ministry of Justice Internet site remains empty. Potential “agents” are still not even being fined for failure to comply with the law. Moreover, Nezavisimaya Gazeta has ascertained that several of them currently have grants from Russia`s president. Human rights advocates have once again told Nezavisimaya Gazeta that they will not be registering. But if they are closed down, they promise to keep working on donations and even without pay.

The official section Information About Nongovernmental Organizations Performing the Functions of Foreign Agents on the Ministry of Justice`s official Internet page cannot even be clicked on. And the majority of other links in this section are also inactive. Meanwhile, the amendments in the law on NGOs that deal with the appearance of certain “foreign agents” receiving funding from abroad for political activity have been in full force for 2 weeks already -- since 21 November.

We will recall that the concept has been formulated so that it includes nearly all human rights organizations. However, the results of yesterday`s survey of potential “agents” revealed that the government is still not filing claims against them -- including for categorically refusing to register under the negative label, which incidentally carries a fine of up to 500,000 rubles.

Leader of the movement For Human Rights Lev Ponomarev, Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alekseyeva, and executive director of the association Golos (vote or voice) Liliya Shibanova have unanimously told this Nezavisimaya Gazeta correspondent that for now, they are operating normally and do not see any worsening of their situation. That said, they unequivocally confirmed their categorical refusal to assume the label of “foreign agents.”

As was ascertained, this illegal (in principle) behavior has not kept the Moscow Helsinki Group and Ponomarev`s organization from obtaining grants for their activity from Russia`s president. Both structures are currently funding projects through grants in the amount of 4 million rubles each. Ponomarev stated that his previous grant from the Russian authorities was small (just 1 million), but he has now succeeded in increasing it significantly. In fact, he noted that the money has been allocated under the program Civilian Ombudsmen, which also receives foreign grants. We will also note that Golos`s classification among “potential agents” has not in any way kept Shibanova from becoming a member of the revamped presidential Council on Human Rights.

Of course, human rights advocates have their own explanation for this strange logic of the authorities. Ponomarev calls it “postmodernism”: One hand is hanging a negative label on NGOs while the other is generously giving them money. He is convinced that this is evidence of the chaos that is beginning in the regime. With regard to this issue, Alekseyeva puts things much more specifically: “Evidently, the regime itself does not consider us foreign agents if it is providing money for our activity.”

In a conversation with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Shibanova was optimistic. According to her, even though the law on foreign agents has been approved, no one knows what to do with it. “Because nothing will come of it except trials and disgrace,” Shibanova says, mentioning the unequivocally negative international reaction that followed its appearance. She predicts that if Golos starts being pressured, the chain of proceedings will end in the Strasbourg court: “This law will certainly be overruled in the European Court of Human Rights. And we will also be awarded se veral million as compensation for moral damage.” Therefore, Shibanova is predicting that Russian authorities will now look for a way to avoid applying the law. Strictly speaking, they have already started because, as Shibanova suggests, awarding grants and allowing her to be on the presidential council must be categorized as such actions.

In a conversation with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Shibanova noted that at a minimum, the Ministry of Justice cannot levy fines against NGOs without conducting a special investigation to determine whether foreign funding exists and whether there are signs of engagement in political activity. We will nevertheless mention that when the scandalous law was approved, the Penal Code was also amended. Among other things, it stipulates imprisonment for a period of up to 2 years for malicious failure to comply with this law. This is the extreme case. Indeed, the law also contains other provisions for dealing with “improper” NGOs. For example, there is the possibility of suspending the activity of those that refuse to comply for half a year, after which their sponsors will most likely disappear. New NGOs could simply be denied registration until they register as “foreign agents.”

As it has turned out, human rights advocates are well aware of such prospects. Liliya Shibanova does not believe that anything of the sort is possible. Lyudmila Alekseyeva admits the possibility but recommends asking the Ministry of Justice or other state agencies for their predictions. Lev Ponomarev is nearly certain that the maverick NGOs will likely ultimately forfeit their status as legal entities, which means that they will also lose the ability to obtain financial resources -- foreign and presidential grants alike.

Yesterday, Nezavisimaya Gazeta asked all its interviewees one and the same question: Do they really consider the term “foreign agent” so serious that they are prepared to suspend their civic activity for the sake of protest? In other words, to do real harm to the people whose rights they are more or less successfully defending?

The human rights advocates are certain that they will not halt their activity under any circumstances. “We will work from kitchens as in the Soviet era,” Ponomarev said. “I am not a state official, and I cannot be fired from my job,” Alekseyeva snapped. For the Nezavisimaya Gazeta interviewees, refusing the label was clearly much more important than the prospects of existence.

Lev Ponomarev explained why they cannot consent. According to him, it is because in Moscow, a young person may think that there is nothing frightening in the name “agent”: “But we work with ordinary people for whom it is an unequivocal stigma.” Ponomarev stated that in addition, consenting for pragmatic reasons means betraying the ideals of the human rights movement, which are rooted in the days of totalitarianism.

(Description of Source: Moscow Nezavisimaya Gazeta Online in Russian -- Website of daily Moscow newspaper featuring varied independent political viewpoints and criticism of the government; owned and edited by businessman Remchukov; URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Zimbabwe: Mugabe Criticizes NGOs for Pushing Foreign Agendas
NewsDay Online
Monday, February 27, 2012

Report by Obey Manayiti: “NGOs Plotting My Downfall: Mugabe”

Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOS) have come under attack from President Robert Mugabe who has accused them of financing a sustained campaign to get rid of him through unconstitutional means.

Addressing thousands of people at his 88th birthday celebrations at Sakubva Stadium in Mutare on Saturday, Mugabe said NGOs were burning the midnight oil to ensure he is not elected as the countrys next president in polls he wants held this year.

Over a thousand NGOs are working in the country and they come with stupid ideas and quite often they support one party, he said. They push foreign agendas through certain parties. This has been the situation in many other African countries but here in Zimbabwe we say no to that.

Zimbabweans can manage to run and manage their country. His renewed scathing attack on NGOs operations could increase pressure on the starving population currently surviving on donor hand-outs.

Recently Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke banned 26 NGOs from operating in the province accusing them of being unregistered with his office. Most rural families are relying on donor aid and the politicised government-funded grain loan scheme owing to poor harvests in most parts of the country last season.

Mugabe attacked western-funded NGOs claiming their agenda was imperialistic in order to recolonise Africa. He then went on a tirade, accusing the drafters of the constitution-making process of trying to influence his exit from power. He also said Zimbabweans would refuse clauses that accommodated homosexuality. Several foreign youth movements from Angola, Namibia, Sudan, Tanzania and South Africa attended the celebrations.

(Description of Source: Harare NewsDay Online in English -- Website of Zimbabwe`s first privately owned daily newspaper since 2003, which claims to be non-partisan and provide every day news for every day people; URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Egyptian accuses NGOs of meddling in politics
NOW Lebanon
Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Egyptian judges probing alleged illegal foreign funding of non-governmental organizations on Wednesday accused domestic and foreign groups, including American ones, of illegally meddling in politics.

The NGOs are operating “without license,” and their work “constitutes pure political activity and has nothing to do with civil society work,” Judge Sameh Abu Zeid told a press conference.

The judge said December raids on 17 offices of local and foreign NGOs as part of a probe into illegal funding had been conducted “according to the law.”

“It is a very large and complicated case involving hundreds of people and organizations, Egyptian and foreign,” he said.

He said dozens of people had been referred to trial because there was deemed to be enough evidence.

Among them are 19 Americans, a fact that prompted a trio of leading US senators to warn Egypt that the risk of a “disastrous” rupture in ties had “rarely been greater.”

Abu Zeid said “there is much evidence, including witness accounts, expert accounts and confessions. There are 67 items of evidence,” Abu Zeid said.

(Description of Source: Beirut NOW Lebanon in English -- A privately-funded pro-14 March coalition, anti-Syria news website; URL:

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.

Article Questions Parliament`s Stand on US Presence in Country
Nawa-e Waqt
Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Article by Rafiq Dogar: “Role of NGOs in Collapse of Somalia

It would be a great service to mankind if someone evaluates the services provided to humanity by the United Nations and its proprietor, the United States, given that wherever foreign troops are located under the UN auspices, they do irreparable damage to the political stability of that country. What was the situation in Somalia when the UN troops and NGOs arrived there? The whole world knows about the impact of UN troops and NGOs on Somalia. When I went to Mogadishu, Somalia, I saw foreign troops, under the UN auspices, busy in reconstruction and development of that country. Whatever I saw, heard, and wrote during my stay, is being presented here for the Pakistanis to reflect upon. It is a long story but I will try to cut it short so that you can read it with interest. The task of distributing relief items in Somalia among people affected by war, hunger, misery, and drought was assigned to NGOs. The United Nations and other donor agencies provided relief goods, which was delivered under the security of UN troops. The actual distribution of these relief goods among the affected people was done by NGOs. Troops from different countries reached Somalia under the UN auspices and on the orders of the US President George Bush to help the NGOs in the relief work. Some goods were looted by war gangs. The US President and the United Nations were not upset about the turmoil in Somalia; rather they were concerned that all the relief goods were not reaching the needy. The Western media, particularly television, would find needy persons, take their interviews and photographs, which they would show to the whole world to create a wave of sympathy. They showed the total alienation of the ruling Somali elite toward the misery of their own people, who were dying of hunger, while being engaged in internecine fighting and profiteering. They were even looting relief goods that had been sent by the world community for these dying and destitute people. After this media hype, President Bush decided to send the US and multinational troops on a humanitarian mission for the safe delivery of relief goods arriving from abroad for the needy. These NGOs, which were busy in relief distribution under the shadow of American guns, all belonged to and were controlled by Christians. Only a couple was from Islamic countries and belonged to Muslims. In addition to NGOs, the Church World Service and other missionary institutions were also active. The Church World Service set up small dispensaries and hospitals in Somali villages. It provided education and training to the local population, especially women, and set up schools while arranging for potable water as well. In addition to providing several other facilities to the people affected by war, it provided job opportunities to the people as well.

One day, in Nairobi, I visited an auto workshop with a friend, Nasim Khawaja. In this land of black people, I was surprised to see a white man, wearing dirty clothes, fixing a car engine. He kept changing his posture under the vehicle. Sometimes he would stand up to tighten the nuts and bolts of the vehicle. I was really impressed with his skills and praised him for his efforts. My friend told me that the white man was an American and a missionary. He had come to preach his religion and whatever he earned by repairing vehicles, spent on the propagation of his faith. He taught black boys how to repair vehicles and after they were trained in the trade, he would convert them to Christianity. Then he would help them to set up their own workshops so that they could earn a decent living. Given that most of the blacks were already Christian, I wondered why he was preaching to Christians. Khawaja told me that he was strengthening those who were already Christians and converting local jungle tribes to Christianity who were not converted yet. You can imagine the working style of missionaries and the Church World Service in a Muslim-majority country like Somalia. It is a country that has been suffering in a war created by its own leaders, a country where there are no jobs or means of livelihood.

The most important responsibility of the US and other troops in Somalia was to provide security to NGOs and ensure that no one hindered their work. If we study the10-12 year period before this relief work started, we find that, along with Somali ruling elites, these NGOs also played a role in promoting hunger, turmoil, and drought in the country. The United Nations, its different wings, the world media and governments, politicians, journalists, and analysts, all of them view the activities of these NGOs from one angle only, namely, that they are devoted to serving the needy. God knows why people do not look at the political intrusion of these NGOs. If you look at them objectively, you will discover that wherever foreign troops enter under the UN auspices, NGOs follow along with Christian missionaries and wherever these NGOs reach, there is political instability and unrest in that society. Not surprisingly, the number of Christians increases in that society. If you look at the United Nations from this angle, you will discover that it is an undercover missionary institution dedicated to the propagation of Christianity, working with the support and backing of the western world or to put it correctly, the entire Christian world.

NGOs entered Somalia in the early 1980`s, which means some eight to ten years before the fall of the government of Mohammed Siad Barre. The government was very strong at the time and was crushing its opponents ruthlessly. Barre was fed up with Russian socialism and was trying to develop relations with the United States and the West. Russian power and its status as a super power were still strong. The United States was using all its resources, including diplomacy, politics, conspiracy and aid, to rid Somalia of Russian influence. The United States wanted to use the Somali seaport and airport in Berbera.

Siad Barre attacked his opponent tribes, which led many peasant tribes to flee from their lands. The lands vacated by these peasants were not cultivated, which led to a severe food shortage in Somalia. But this food shortage was not so severe that the government could not make up for it with its own resources. At that time the United States was facing a problem of dumping its excess wheat. It trapped Barre under the threat of drought in Somalia and compelled him to accept the food aid. Both parties were playing games. Barre wanted to tackle the food crisis faced by his country and stabilize his government, while the United States wanted to obtain rights to the sea port of Berbera and Kismayo. Plus, it was getting a buyer for its excess wheat. The formula decided for the distribution of the wheat allowed many NGOs into Somalia. Most of the food given by the United Nations and other donor agencies was given to prominent personalities of Siad Barre`s own tribe. These people sold the food and made a lot of money. But, no one objected to this corruption, not even Siad Barre, or the NGOs or the donors, who were giving that aid. Barre thought that this money would strengthen the financial position of his tribe and, ultimately, stabilize his government. He also thought that this would compel the prominent people of his tribe to support him. Corruption and nepotism were two main principles Barre followed in his style of ruling the country. NGOs and their patrons were beginning to observe that many elements involved in corruption were joining hands. As a result, different groups in the country were becoming powerful and a number of warlords were beginning to surface. But donors and NGOs continued to work as usual. Therefore, the government did not feel a need to bring the displaced peasants back to their lands in order to cultivate it. Rather, it used this food shortage as a weapon against its opponents. With the help of this food supply and other aid, rich people formed gangs to protect their interests. Those who did not receive any, began looting supplies with the help of these gangs. This led to the emergence of antigovernment groups. Some were not allied to Barre, his opponents or any other group. Incidents of looting increased when a rebellion was launched against Barre. But the United Nations and NGOs did not raise a voice against this occurrence. Rather, they created warlords indifferent parts of the country, who had once been sea pirates. They had gained wealth and weapons and had organized their own armed gangs. They had become very influential and Barre`s government became dependent upon them. These warlords continued to loot during the turmoil and increased their influence and power by supporting or opposing different gangs involved in the conflict. Western aid, services of the NGOs, corruption and nepotism by Barre, poverty among the peasants, and the fight among different gangs created a miserable situation, which was exploited by the United States for its military intervention in Somalia. But, first, the United States showed pictures and videos of starving men, women, elderly people, and children. Second, western aid was publicized. And third, the world community was told that the Somali leadership was ignoring the hunger and death of its people. All three things were true, but not to the extent being propagated by the Western media. But these sympathizers of humanity never told the world about who was responsible for taking the situation to such a level because the human conscience does only two things, either it is dead or it is alive. Troops sent to Somalia by the United Nations were responsible only for protecting NGOs involved in aid distribution. They did not have a mandate to question the NGOs about the nature of their work or what they had been doing for the last so many years. The UN Peace Keeping Forces were only protecting NGOs and missionary institutions and removing any hurdles in the delivery of their services.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani has demanded that compensation by the United States for Pakistan`s losses in the war on terror should be given to his government instead of to NGOs. My mind immediately went back to Somalia and to a book, titled “Operation Somalia”, which I had written some 18 years ago. I will write about what happened in Somalia after that at some time. But why did the United States and the United Nations leave Somalia without bringing peace or establishing a stable government? Did they achieve the objectives for which they had hung Somalia in the name of humanitarian aid? There is no need to go into these details. Because of its geopolitical location and sea ports, Somalia is as important in that region as Pakistan is in this region. Are the Americans going to stage the same drama here as well? Do we have anyone to analyze this drama and its characters? Will our parliament ever wake up or will it continue to sleep?

(Description of Source: Rawalpindi Nawa-e Waqt in Urdu -- Privately owned, widely read, conservative Islamic daily, with circulation around 125,000. Harshly critical of the US and India.)

© Compiled and distributed by NTIS, US Dept. of Commerce. All rights reserved.




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