Wanderlust…

The International Reporting (and Life) Adventures of Vivian Salama

US embarrassment over Mandela terrorist ‘threat’

Posted by vmsalama on July 3, 2008

I am speechless by this news.  I first heard it while driving from Dubai to Abu Dhabi yesterday and found it difficult not to ram my car into the railing.  EMBARRASSMENT is an understatement.  I had an interesting discussion with an Emirati friend of mine about America’s need for taking such harsh precautions as dubbing someone a terrorist – it’s as though it uses such titles as a way to validate many of its actions, not to mention its War on Terror. What’s amazing to me is the gap of time between when the Nobel Peace Prize committee recognized Nelson Mandela’s role as a peace maker and America’s acknowledgement, which came only yesterday.  Even the North Korean Government managed to get itself dropped from the list before Mandela!!!!

Posted Wed Jul 2, 2008 3:02pm AEST

Even the North Korean Government managed to get itself dropped from the list before Mr Mandela. 

Last weekend he was the guest of honour at a huge concert in London to mark his 90th birthday.

More than 64,000 people packed Hyde Park and millions watched the concert on television around the world.

But last weekend when former South African president Nelson Mandela was soaking in the musical tributes, he was still on the US Government’s terrorism watch list.

The internationally revered former South African president was officially regarded as a threat to US national security because of his long association with the African National Congress.

Even the North Korean Government managed to get itself dropped from the list before Mr Mandela.

In April this year US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had expressed her embarrassment at having to wave in people like the foreign minister of South Africa and former leaders like Nelson Mandela.

That was an embarrassment shared by Amir Woods from the Institute of Policy Studies when she spoke to National Public Radio in the US.

“It is absolutely a travesty that Mandela, that really all of the leaders of South Africa have to get a special pass to be able to travel to the US because of these travel restrictions,” Ms Woods said.

“So the Bush administration has quite rightly moved on North Korea to remove North Korea from that list of terrorists.”

“But all these decades, since the end of the Apartheid era we still have South Africa on, especially the African National Congress including Nelson Mandela, on that list of terrorists.”

“I think we need to really applaud the Black Congressional Caucus who, they took up this mantle and they have pushed just as they did in the anti-Apartheid struggle.”

“They have pushed to say look, we need to really recognise an error here in US policy and move swiftly to change it.”

“So it is their leadership that has brought congressional action, it is also the leadership of the South Africans who have said enough is enough.”

Dr Michael McKinley, a senior lecturer in international relations and strategy at the ANU, says the process of being included or dropped from Washington’s terror watch list is complicated.

“The definition of what goes on it is quite elastic,” Dr McKinley said.

“It goes back to his [Mandela’s] days as an active member of the African National Congress, the ANC.

“Because the United States was interested in conducting various arrangements with that Apartheid government it was thought necessary to put the ANC on there.

“And also the ANC were thought to be and were left of centre.”

But how does North Korea qualify to be taken off the infamous list before a Nobel Peace Prize winner in Nelson Mandela?

“This is one of the more curious developments because what prompted Washington to remove North Korea from the list was North Korea began behaving in a way which suggested they were going to meet, if not halfway at least part of the way, US demands with regard to their nuclear program,” Dr McKinley said.

“The nuclear program and their association with international terrorism are not necessarily connected. They can be, but they’re not necessarily connected.

“So the United States seems to have responded in one area because of a favourable development in another, which is not entirely logical in the circumstances.”

Adapted from a report by Paula Kruger for The World Today

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