WTF Friday, 3/22/2013, Iraq Warlord Pet Edition

In honor of the 10th anniversary of the war in Iraq, we bring you a very special edition of our long-abandoned Warlord Pets series.

RIP Barney, Dubya’s White House Dog:

Barney the terrier lived at the White House during both of George W. Bush’s terms.  He died of lymphoma six weeks ago.  It is not known whether he was a supporter of the Iraq war, but he was certainly a constant companion to the guy who started it.

(Perhaps Dubya’s dog paintings are really therapy to help him ease his grief at Barney’s passing?)

(Barney photo via Wikimedia Commons)

Chechnya, Land of Kidnappings and Tigers

Update: The bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband Alik Dzhabrailov were found this morning, in the trunk of a car parked outside of Chechen capital Grozny. They had been shot.

Chechen Human Rights Activist Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband were kidnapped by security forces today, causing activists to worry that they may suffer the same fate as slain activist Natalia Estemirova, who was murdered last month after a similar abduction.

The crime has inspired @Transitionland to rename Chechnya “The Land of Kidnappings and Tigers,” in homage to our favorite post tag.

Here at Wronging Rights we are dedicated to accuracy in all things big cat, so I wasn’t about to risk of such a title being applied to tigerless territory. When I saw the tweet in question, I immediately swooshed down the fireman’s pole to the Human Rights Batcave and commenced googling: “Chechnya.” “Tiger.”

And so it was that I happened upon the following amazing information: Ramzan Kadyrov, dictator, torturer, and all-around crazy dude, took some time out of his busy 2006 schedule (“death, death, death, lunch, death, quick shower“) to nurse a sick pet tiger back to health.

The story was covered in the Guardian after Kadyrov was photographed with the tiger for Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, alongside a story in which he instructed the animal to eat the newspaper’s reporter, “because he writes incorrectly about me.”

The Guardian, unable to be anything but Guardian-y, expressed concern that the tiger might not have been acquired legitimately.

“Questions were immediately asked about the tiger’s provenance. Natalia Dronova, coordinator of the trafficking programme at the World Wildlife Fund’s Moscow office, said Mr Kadyrov should account for where he got the tiger.
She added he would need paperwork if he were to transfer it to a zoo, and could break the law if he kept it at home without documentation. There are as few as 450 Ussuriisk tigers living wild in Russia’s Amur region, 50 of which are killed each year, their body parts used in traditional Chinese medicine.”

Because of course the possibility that Kadyrov could be in possession of an illicit tiger, who lacks proper paperwork and licensing, is completely shocking given his usually-scrupulous respect for the rule of law. I’ll bet that as soon as he got the WWF’s message, he went right out and applied for a Tiger Permit.

Forget the ICC, What’s Going to Happen to Nkunda’s Goat?

As Kate explains so well in her post below, Congolese rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has been captured by Rwandan troops and is currently being held in Gisenyi, Rwanda, pending extradition to Congo and/or a conveniently-timed arrest warrant from the ICC.

But the news reports make no mention of a key player in this saga: Nkunda’s pet goat, Betty. Betty has been at the rebel leader’s side throughout this long conflict. Has Betty remained loyal to Nkunda? Given all that she must have witnessed, her testimony could certainly be valuable to any future prosecution. Will she give evidence in exchange for immunity from, say, being turned into shish kebabs? Will she be put on trial for her complicity in Nkunda’s crimes, or be allowed to retire in peace and comfort? (She should go live in the same hotel as Charles Taylor’s Poodle.)

Or perhaps Betty and Nkunda’s loyalty to one another has not wavered, but was used against them! Just last week, commenter texasinafrica suggested on this very blog that “all MONUC really needs to do is capture her; then Nkunda would be ready to seriously negotiate.” And then, a mere ten days later, Nkunda is captured, apparently with ease, and mentions of Betty are suspiciously absent from the new stories.

Coincidence? Or has the Rwandan army been reading Wronging Rights?

*Image of Betty at rebel headquarters two months ago via Getty Images

In Which HuffPo Goes to the Congo and Interviews Nkunda Whereas I Do Not Get to Go Anywhere or Interview Anyone

Hrmph. Huffington Post has an exclusive interview with probably-still-in-control CNDP leader Laurent Nkunda.

It includes such gems as:

  • “And before we came back to Kiwanja the governor of Goma, in the morning, announced that in Kiwanja there were massacres. When I heard on the radio that there were massacres in Kiwanja, I called my guys [soldiers] on the ground and said, “Where are you?” They said, “We are in Rutshuru.” I said, “Who is doing this?” They said they did not know, that they were in Rutshuru.”

And (in response to a question about his views on Human Rights Watch):

  • “I will tell you, they are writing from the UK and from the US and they are not on the ground. I even talked to Anneke van Woudenberg. She came to see me in Masisi but after leaving here and then writing their things I had to call her back and say, “Why? You were here, now what are you doing?” She always says that the information is from “reliable sources.” But all these reliable sources are unidentified.”

They even got this awesome photo of Nkunda with his pet goat, Bettie.

I’m just saying, someone might have asked if I wanted to go along. Then again, I’m famously terrified of goats, so maybe it’s all for the best.

Charles Taylor’s Poodle

HOW did I not know about this?

I mean, the only person who has a more unhealthy obsession with Charles Taylor gossip than I do is Kate. And she also failed to alert me to….


According to Chris Blattman, who has actually met said poodle during his travels, the dog is “happy, cute, and playful.” Apparently he is also a bit of a patriot, and decided to stay behind in Liberia when Taylor went into exile and then to The Hague. He now lives in a hotel in Monrovia that is owned by a Taylor-compatriot.

So many questions.

What does the poodle order from room service? (Dear god, I hope he never ordered the Foday Sankoh special). When he is out for his poodle walks, does he get mocked and bullied by the new generation of Sirleaf-supporting dogs? Was he ever a member of the rebel forces? If so, does he have a rebel name, like “General Kibbles ‘n Bits,” or “Colonel Milk Bone”?

And where did he come from? How did he come to belong to Charles Taylor? I assume that he must have been given as a gift -surely no reputable poodle breeder would hand over an innocent puppy to West Africa’s most fearsome warlord- but that means that someone must have thought to himself, “Gee, I’m going over to see Charles Taylor, and I really should bring him something. What would he like? I know! A fluffy poodle! Of course!”

And if General Kibbles ‘n Bits was not a gift, then my mind is blown. Because that would mean that Charles Taylor took the afternoon off of warlording to go puppy shopping. For a poodle.