In regards to my article on ICG and others: The In thing: Election Meddling and Outcome Management. 

 

Ben D

09/13/09

 

As I sometimes do, I send some of what I write to some quarters beyond certain Websites. I do this to solicit feedbacks. I did just that with my latest article http://aigaforum.com/articles/The_in_Thing.htm. I e-mail the article to a former ICG employee. The response I got tells me that I was right on the money. One that tickled me was the one that says “You Lie” in the exact fashion as in the recent Joint Session of Congress, where a congressman heckled “You Lie” When President Obama exposed a lie that came from his opponents.  Since I have the facts, I am more than happy to defend all. Below are the questions and claims from the e-mails I received from the former ICG employee and my response to them. I would also want to remind readers that ICG is listed as one of the lost American Humanitarian Organization in a Documentary by the prominent Front Line Documentary program on PBS frontline: the lost American: Humanitarian Organizations

 

Question# 1. USAID does not fund ICG.

 

Fact: 40% percent of the 12 million dollars of ICG funding comes from other governments. Not only their so called field reports are funded, but also their work shops discussing their fake analysis and preemptive incitements are funded by USAID in the name of ethnic dialogue. Without sending you to the cumbersome USAID or other government agency site, I will invite you to read a publication by a Swedish group entitled “Who pays the Piper” Jan Oberg, the International Crisis Group: Who Pays the Piper?  Also here is a quote from a congressional record. “The Committee believes that the International Crisis Group (ICG) provides the high-quality analysis and policy recommendations… and strongly recommends that the Department of State and USAID provide funding for the ICG to continue its research in areas of U.S. foreign policy interest”.  What a waste of tax payer money!

 

Question # 2. You (me) tied the ICG report to a talking point coordinated with USAID efforts to democratize the free press pretending the report was written for use by the Ethiopian media. That is a lie says the e-mailer.

 

Fact: ICG pretends that it has no history in such matters. Here is one example out of many such cases I would like readers to know to show otherwise. Below you will find a detail version of it. Prior to Macedonian election, ICG reported an outrageous report accusing the government for failing to mitigate ethnic difference between the Greeks, Turks, and Albanians in Macedonia. It also accused the government of corruption and predicted chaos if there is no change in government. The case is detailed on a four part article entitled How to take a government Down ICG styleHow to Take Down a Government, Part Four . The document spells out how ICG talking points and accusations were distributed, and how NGOs started to do their capacity building just before the election. Here is an interesting excerpt from the document and media reports:

 

Mysterious NGO's Spring Up In Macedonia

Lately, mysterious NGO's have been springing up in Macedonia. One, which is funded by American governmental institutions, has been purchasing 24,000 copies a day of newspapers – exclusively anti-government ones – to disseminate for free in Macedonian villages. When Finance Minister Nikola Gruevski protested this, he was told that rural inhabitants who depend on state-owned television need to hear an alternative point of view.

However, such inhabitants live in very remote areas of the country – and make up around 2 percent of the population. Strangely enough, the project only aims to give these peasants an "alternative view" during the period of 15 August – 15 September: in other words, exclusively in the month before the election. The cost of such an endeavor is estimated to be around $3,000 a day. This effort also flies in the face of everything free-market competition stands for. For example, says Gruevski, "one of the papers involved is Makedonija Denes, which has a circulation of around 2,000. Overnight, their circulation is increased by five times!"

Well there you go! That is how ICG talking points are intended to be disseminated and build the capacity of our reporters. It appears, at least for me, it has already started, and I have detected a sign of this in Addis. The Reporter in its Wednesday post on its site, declared unnamed sources (official Embassy diplomat) was very very disappointed with the negative reports in the press in regards to activities by the US. The Reporter also indicated that the Americans were also disappointed by recent Ethiopian government public rebuttal of State department’s report done in coordination with HRW. Anyway, I am glad to know the EPRDF has stopped being a sitting duck. The Reporter on its Sunday Edition in its Politics Section, was very critical of the Journalist who reported on the USAID debacle, and went on to defend USAID and trashed the Journalist. I am confused on who to believe, but I sense MIDROCK is going to be free for a while to do what it does.

 

Question# 3 ICG does not promote secessionist groups or terrorists. This is in regards to ONLF and OLF who I accused were being promoted by ICG and Asmara.

Fact: Well, let us read what ICG reported on Somalia and its beloved Al Shebab and how they wanted to save it! In fact ICG, always gets in trouble with its reports as it employees incompetent staff with personal baggage and agenda. For example, it employed a Shabia (Eritrean government) Ambassador to write a report on Ethio-Eritra conflict. While that was not a problem for it, when it rubbed powerful groups in the US such as the powerful Jewish lobby, it was in a hot water. And some of its funders such as The Rockefeller Foundation, which also funds the ICG, protested and actually amended its language to more generally prohibit grants to any charities or individuals that “directly or indirectly engage in, promote, or support other organizations or individuals who engage in or promote terrorist activity.” You can read it here FPM Article . As its report on Ethiopia reflects ICG is a bastion of incompetence and stupidity.

 As for its promotions of secessionist groups such as ONLF and OLF, as I said above ICG has a traceable record. A quote from FrontPage Magazine FPM Article  “In January 2005, the group recommended that the occupied Serbian province be granted international recognition. The ICG released its paper at about the same time as Congressman Tom Lantos and Henry Hyde submitted Resolution 24 to the 109th Congress, calling for U.S. recognition of an independent state. Fortunately, while the Resolution was submitted to the House Subcommittee on International Terrorism and Nonproliferation, in the end it went nowhere.

The fact remains, ICG as an NGO, that is supposed to predict conflicts, has never correctly predicted one conflict, but meddled in elections, incited conflicts and peddled its reports as facts. So much could be said about ICG but for now, as I told the E-mailers, I do not intend to spend a minute more of my time on them.

 

Finally, I was surprised by the politeness and hospitality of the Ethiopian government who let ICG staff in the country. I say that because, In others countries it  has become customary for ICG staff to be detained at Airport bath rooms for hours until they are sent back on the next available plane.