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Embassy Row

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South African Ambassador Ebrahim Rasool implied that intolerance among the country's black majority led to his dismissal in 2008 as the premier of the picturesque Western Cape province, when he met U.S. Ambassador Donald Gips in 2009.

Mr. Rasool, who describes himself as a moderate Muslim, told Mr. Gips that he was "redeployed" from the premiership by the African National Congress (ANC), the dominant political party, because the "national majority is a regional minority," according to a U.S. diplomatic cable released by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Mr. Rasool was "suggesting that the ANC's national black majority grew tired of preferences given to the large colored [mixed-race] and Muslim population of the Western Cape," Mr. Grips said in the December 2009 report to the State Department in Washington.

The former premier added that the Western Cape's "lack of a black middle class resulted in perceived inequalities as white and colored business outpaced their black-owned competitors for government contracts," Mr. Gips reported.

He also revealed that "some ANC leaders were suspicious of the growing Muslim investment in the Western Cape," the ambassador said.

Mr. Rasool, who served as premier from 2004 to 2008, said he worked to promote moderate Islam in the Cape Town area and throughout the province.

"He told the ambassador that he also orchestrated the drafting and delivery in every mosque in the Western Cape of a sermon denouncing extremism," Mr. Gips said.

Mr. Rasool was appointed ambassador to the United States last year.


Dozens of Tunisian-Americans and immigrants from the North African nation that just overthrew a dictator shouted for justice outside the Saudi Embassy in Washington on Tuesday. They demanded the Saudis turn over Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the repressive president who fled to Saudi Arabia after massive street protests toppled his government.

However, as our correspondent Ben Birnbaum reported, one sign the protesters held stood out among the normal messages scrawled on posters at other demonstrations in the national capital: "Mark Zuckerberg, Thank you."

The tribute to the founder of Facebook underscored the social networking that helped build the intensity of protests, as bloggers sent messages about the Tunisian turmoil across the globe while the government raced to shut them down.

The Tunisian uprising already is being calling the "Facebook revolution."

A former top diplomat at the Ethiopian Embassy defected to the United States recently in apparent disgust over last year's parliamentary elections, according to reports from the impoverished nation in the Horn of Africa.

Assefa Delil Hassen held the high rank of minister-counselor for political affairs. A source at the Ethiopian Embassy was unaware of the reports of Mr. Hassen's defection but said the diplomat left Washington "two or three months ago" after his assignment here ended. Mr. Hassen arrived in Washington in 2007. He had joined the Ethiopian foreign service in 1983.

Meanwhile, another leading diplomat, Kadafo Mohammed Hanfare, Ethiopia's ambassador to Kuwait, sought political asylum in Canada, reports said.

"The high-level defections come following the country's 2010 sham election that gave the ruling party a whopping 99.9 percent victory and transformed its leader, Meles Zenawi, into a defacto emperor of Ethiopia," said one report on

Mr. Zenawi's Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front won 499 of 536 seats in parliament in the May election, which opposition leaders called fraudulent.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or e-mail jmorrison@washington

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About the Author
James Morrison

James Morrison

James Morrison joined the The Washington Times in 1983 as a local reporter covering Alexandria, Va. A year later, he was assigned to open a Times bureau in Canada. From 1987 to 1989, Mr. Morrison was The Washington Times reporter in London, covering Britain, Western Europe and NATO issues. After returning to Washington, he served as an assistant foreign editor ...

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