World View: Russia Signals End of 'Reset' Policy

This morning's key headlines from
  • Spain's Catalonia region demands economic independence from Spain
  • Libya's account of killing of U.S. ambassador contradicts American account
  • Anti-American protests spread across cities in Pakistan
  • Anti-American protests quieting as Muslims debate Islam versus tolerance
  • Germany joins France in embassy closings, as new Mohammed cartoons are planned
  • Expulsion of USAID signals a more corrupt Putin and more corrupt Russia

Spain's Catalonia region demands economic independence from Spain

Memories of 1936, when Generalissimo Francisco Franco seized power in Spain and vowed to crush Catalan nationalists as "vultures," are being revived in Catalonia today, with a new nationalist movement demanding economic independence from Spain. Things are moving very quickly now, with a parliamentary debate scheduled for next week on the future of Catalonia. 

Catalonia's President Artur Mas met with Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Madrid on Thursday, but the talks apparently went badly. According to Mas:

The prime minister told me there is no room to negotiate a fiscal pact with Catalonia and that his answer will be "no" in the coming weeks and months.

If the negative answer to the fiscal pact is so obvious, then we will have to take decisions in the next days. All options are open.

This political chaos comes at a time when Spain's economy is going down the drain, and Rajoy will be forced to ask the EU for a bailout. Telegraph (London) and Reuters

Libya's account of killing of U.S. ambassador contradicts American account

Witnesses of last week's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi Libya have told CBS News that the alleged anti-American protest that U.S. officials say morphed into the assault never actually took place. These statements differ sharply with statements by American officials to the effect that the attack that it originally started as a spontaneous anti-American protest against the film "Innocence of Muslims" that many Muslims consider to be blasphemous. White House press secretary Jay Carney said: 

This is a fairly volatile situation, and it is in response not to U.S. policy, not to, obviously, the administration, not to the American people. It is in response to a video – a film – that we have judged to be reprehensive and disgusting. That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it. But this is not a case of protests directed at the United States, writ large, or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive and – to Muslims.

However, witnesses' statement indicate that the actual assault was perpetrated by militias and possible al-Qaeda elements with assault weapons, rather than as a spontaneous outgrowth of a protest. However, even though the assault took place on 9/11, it's not known to what extent the assault was pre-planned. The FBI is supposed to investigate, but FBI investigators have not yet gone to the destroyed consulate. CBS News and Mediaite

Anti-American protests spread across cities in Pakistan

Some 5,000 protesters protested in front of the U.S. embassy in Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, and clashed with people. At least 50 people were injured as police fired tear gas and live rounds into the crowds. According to one student who was protesting: 

Our policemen are not any better than the Americans because they are trying to stop us. They are in the same league as them, they are heretics like them.

They should allow us to demolish the American embassy because they have blasphemed against our holy Prophet. The police are also becoming an accomplice of blasphemers.

Large protests also occurred in other cities, including Lahore and Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistani-administered Kashmir, where more than 200 protesters set fire to an effigy of Barack Obama.

The US is spending $70,000 to buy time on Pakistan television stations for public relations ads in a bid to stem further protests. Al-Jazeera

Anti-American protests quieting as Muslims debate Islam versus tolerance

While few Muslims would go so far as to say that blasphemy against the prophet Mohammed is accepted, the widespread fury at the movie "Innocence of Muslims" is giving way to a debate over free speech in the Muslim world. In fact, most of the Arab world has not seen major protests for much of this week. The streets around the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, where clashes raged for days, were relatively quiet Thursday. Widespread fury was expressed in countries from Indonesia to Morocco, but nowhere did Muslims take to the streets en masse to protest the film. However, Friday is the weekly Islamic day of prayer, and the largest protests typically follow midday prayers, as worshippers pour out of mosques into the street. AP

Germany joins France in embassy closings, as new Mohammed cartoons are planned

Both France and Germany have announced that they will close many of their embassies on Friday in anticipation of large protests, following the publication of cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed in a French satire magazine. On Thursday, German satire magazine Titanic announced that it would also publish its own Muhammad issue later this month, which could provoke further unrest. Spiegel

Expulsion of USAID signals a more corrupt Putin and more corrupt Russia

America's "reset" with Russia has apparently ended, in view of the announced immediate expulsion US Agency for International Development (USAID). Russia’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement supported by president Vladimir Putin, accused USAID of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs and "attempting to influence the outcome of elections by distributing aid grants." The U.S. is saying that the decision came as a surprise, but Russian officials say that Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov informed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of the decision on June 29. USAID has been active in Russia since 1992, and has distributed some $2.7 billion, helping human-rights groups in documenting election fraud and human rights abuses, supporting AIDS education, treatment of tuberculosis and improvement of infrastructure programs. But the charge of "meddling" is apparently linked to the aid money given to the election monitoring group Golos. Golos helped expose massive vote rigging by the Putin's organization during parliamentary elections last December. Putin's party actually lost the election, but the electoral fraud gave him a majority in the Duma. The exposed fraud triggered massive anti-Putin pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow that Putin sees as an international conspiracy, led by the US State Department. Moscow Times and Jamestown

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