- G-20 Must Freeze The $1.5
By Webster Tarpley
- WASHINGTON, DC – On the eve of the long-awaited London conference of the G-20 nations, we are rapidly descending into the chaos of a Second World Economic Depression of catastrophic proportions. In the year since the collapse of Bear Stearns, we have moved toward the disintegration of the entire globalized world financial system, based on the residual status of the US dollar as a reserve currency, and expressed through the banking hegemony of London, New York, and the US-UK controlled international lending institutions like the International Monetary fund and the World Bank. This is a breakdown crisis of world civilization, prepared over decades by the folly of deindustrialization and the illusions of a postindustrial society, further complicated by the deregulation and privatization of the leading economies based on the Washington Consensus, itself a distillation of the economic misconceptions of the Austrian and Chicago monetarist schools. If current policies are maintained, we face the acute danger of a terminal dollar disintegration and world hyperinflation.
- The G-20 leaders are must deliberate a new set of policies capable of leading humanity out of the current crisis. We must first identify the immediate cause which has detonated the present unprecedented turbulence. That cause is unquestionably the $1.5 quadrillion derivatives bubble. Derivatives have provoked the downfall of Bear Stearns, Countrywide, Northern Rock, Lehman Brothers, AIG, Merrill Lynch, and Wachovia, and most other institutions which have succumbed. Derivatives have made J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Bank of New York Mellon, Deutsche Bank, Société Générale, Barclays, RBS, and money center banks of the world into Zombie Banks.
- Derivatives are financial instruments based on other financial instruments paper based on paper. Derivatives are one giant step away from the world of production and consumption, plant and equipment, wages and employment in the production of tangible physical wealth or hard commodities. In the present hysteria of the globalized financial oligarchy, the very term of “derivative” has become taboo: commentators prefer to speak of toxic assets, complex securities, exotic instruments, and counterparty arrangements. At the time of the Bear Stearns bankruptcy, Bernanke warned against “chaotic unwinding.” All of these code words are signals that derivatives are being talked about. Derivatives include such exchange traded speculative instruments as options and futures; beyond these are the over-the-counter derivatives, structured notes, and designer derivatives. Derivatives include the credit default swaps so prominent in the fall of AIG, collateralized debt obligations, structured investment vehicles, asset-backed securities, mortgage backed securities, auction rate securities, and a myriad of other toxic variations. These derivatives, in turn, are pyramided one on top of the other, thus creating a house of cards reaching into interplanetary space.
- As long as this huge mass of kited derivatives was experiencing positive cash flow and positive leverage, the profits generated at the apex of the pyramid were astronomical. But disturbances at the base of the pyramid turned the cash flow and exponential leverage negative, and the losses at the top of the pyramid became immense and uncontrollable. By 2005-6, the disturbances were visible in the form of a looming crisis of the automobile sector, plus the slowing of the housing bubble cynically and deliberately created by the Federal Reserve in the wake of the collapse of the dot com bubble, the third world debt bubble. and the other asset bubbles favored by Greenspan. Financiers are trying to blame the current depression on poor people who acquired properties with the help of subprime mortgages, and then defaulted, thus it is alleged — bringing down the entire world banking system!
- This is a fantastic and reactionary myth. The cause of the depression is derivatives, and this means that the perpetrators to be held responsible are not poor mortgage holders, but rather globalized investment bankers and hedge fund operators, the derivatives merchants. We are now in the throes of a world wide derivatives panic. This panic has been gathering momentum for at least a year, since the fall of Bear Stearns. There is no power on earth which can prevent this panic from destroying most of the current mass of toxic derivatives. It is however possible that the ongoing attempts to bail out, shore up, and otherwise preserve the deadly mass of derivatives will destroy human civilization as we have known it. We must choose between the continued existence of derivatives speculation on the one hand, and the survival of human society worldwide on the other. If this be crude populism, make the most of it.
- FREEZE DERIVATIVES FOR THE DURATION OF THE CRISIS
- The G-20 must remove the crushing mass of derivatives which is now dragging down the world economy. Derivatives must be banned going forward, but this by itself will not be sufficient. The ultimate goal must be to wipe out and neutralize the existing mass of $1.5 quadrillion in notional values of toxic derivative instruments. Some governments may be able simply to decree that derivatives be shredded, deleted, and otherwise liquidated, and they should do so at once. Virtually all governments should be able to use their emergency economic powers to freeze derivatives and set them aside for at least five years or for the duration of the crisis, whichever lasts longer. Legal issues can be settled over the coming decades in the courts. Humanity is in agony, and we must act against derivatives now. Going forward, we must ban the paper pyramids of derivatives in the same way that the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 banned the pyramiding of holding companies.
- Derivatives were illegal in the United States between 1936 and 1983. In 1933, an attempt was made to corner the wheat futures market using options, and the resulting outcry led to a 1936 federal law banning such options on farm commodity markets. This ban was repealed by the Futures Trading Act of 1982, signed by President Reagan in January 1983. During the G.H.W. Bush administration, Wendy Gramm of the Commodity Future Trading Commission went further, promising a “safe harbor” for derivatives. Despite the key role of derivatives in the Orange County disaster during the Clinton years, a valiant attempt by Brooksley Born of the CFTC to make derivatives reportable and subject to regulation was defeated by a united front of Robert Rubin, Larry Summers (today running US economic policy), and Greenspan. Despite the central role of $1 trillion of derivatives in the Long Term Capital Management debacle of 1998, Phil Gramm’s Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000 guaranteed that derivatives, notably credit default swaps, would remain totally unregulated. These pro-derivatives forces must bear responsibility for the current depression, and those still in power must be ousted
- The Bernanke-Bush-Paulson-Obama-Geithner policy pursued by the United States, which amounts to a $10 trillion (Fed and Treasury) effort to bail out the world derivatives bubble on the backs of taxpayers, can only make the depression worse, will never lead to an economic recovery, and must therefore he rejected. Krugman is right: “zombie ideas” rule Obama’s Washington. The Fed’s TALF amounts to subsidies for securitization, meaning more derivatives. The derivatives bailout was pioneered by Gordon Brown, Alistair Darling, and Mervyn King in the case of Northern Rock. These efforts are doomed to costly futility. The $1.5 quadrillion derivatives bubble is comparable to the black holes of astrophysics, those artifacts of gravity collapse which will irresistably suck in all matter that comes near them. It compares to a world GDP of a mere $55 trillion, itself a figure inflated by financial speculation.
- The derivatives are the black holes of financial engineering, and can easily consume all the physical wealth and all the money in the world, and still be bankrupt. Gordon Brown’s demand of $500 billion for the IMF is enough to bankrupt several nations, but pitifully inadequate to deal with the derivatives. They can only be dealt with by re-regulation — a quick freeze, leading to extinction and permanent illegality. We reject Brown’s IMF world derivatives dictatorship.
- Derivatives pose the question of fictitious capital — financial instruments created outside of the realm of production, and which destroy production. In 1931-2, fictitious capital appeared as tens of billions of dollars of reparations imposed on Germany, plus the war debts owed by Britain and France to the United States. These debts strangled world production and world trade. Bankers and statesmen tried desperately to maintain these debt structures. But US President Herbert Hoover proposed the Hoover Moratorium of 1931-1932, a temporary freeze on all these payments. The Lausanne Conference of June 1932 was the last chance to wipe out the debt permanently. But the Lausanne Conference failed to act decisively, and passed the buck. By the end of 1932, there was near-universal default on reparations and war debts anyway. And by January 1933, Hitler had seized power. We urge the London G-20 to defend world civilization against derivatives. It is time to lift the crushing weight of derivatives from the backs of humanity before the world economy and the major nations collapse into irreversible chaos and war, as seen during the 1930s.
By: Peter Chamberlin
According to this article from Counter Currents website, written by former Indian Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar, “US Spills Afghan War Into Pakistan,” US special representative, Richard Holbrooke, who pilots this “smart” policy, has appointed Barnett Rubin, Afghan policy expert, to coordinate the approach to the Taliban.
Director of the Center for Preventive Action, and Director, Peace and Conflict Studies, at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York…from the University of Chicago
The following is a response to the article he co-authored with Ahmed Rashid in Foreign Affairs magazine, “From Great Game to Grand Bargain: Ending Chaos in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
As an agent of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rubin can be expected to carry-on with the elitists’ deceptions. The two primary deceptions in the case of Pakistan are that American government and the corporate types and think tank gurus who represent it are that they are paragons of reason and virtue (their only concerns are for the good of all those involved with the government programs) and that all others who tell uncomfortable truths are spinning “conspiracy theories” (reports that reveal the truths concealed by cover-ups and “official versions” of destabilizing events).
One of the alleged “conspiracy theories” mentioned by Mr. Rubin and Mr. Rashid concern reports that militant groups within Pakistan, like the TTP (Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan) were created by foreign intelligence agencies like RAW and CIA from murderous elements of the Afghan Northern Alliance to wage war against Pakistan. Another “conspiracy theory” concerns the belief that the CIA secretly supports the Taliban and other militant groups as a means of prolonging the war and establishing permanent American bases to enable control of the region’s resources and to confront China. All available evidence points to exactly these conclusions, making them more probable explanations of the agency’s secret war than mere speculation.
Rubin is the author of the concept of the “reconcilables” –vs- the “unreconcilables,” and the revised exit strategy put forth by the Obama Administration of seeking to strike a grand bargain with the Taliban to “prohibit the use of Afghan (or Pakistani) territory for international terrorism,” as a face-saving way to eventually withdraw from Afghanistan that can be read as a symbolic “strategic defeat” for “al Qaida.”
In short, folks, Barnett Rubin is simply another Establishment scam artist, like Richard Holbrooke, sent to carry-out crisis management and to make the takeover of the vital region seem palatable to the ignorant masses, We the Sheeple. The “Taliban” might be bought-off with enough cash, but they are not the only ones trying to evict the occupation troops from their country. In the end, the mujahedeen live to fight, not the other way around. Hunting invaders is the greatest sport of all.
* Newspaper urges US to expedite launch of RoZs
Daily Times Monitor
LAHORE: The Obama administration is likely to triple non-military aid to Pakistan, US officials have said.
A panel appointed to review the US’ Afghan policy is expected to recommend massive civilian aid to Pakistan and tools to aid counterinsurgency operations, a Washington based newspaper reported on Sunday. A participant in the 60-day review of US policy said President Obama would likely announce the strategy before he leaves for Europe at the end of the month, a trip that includes a NATO summit.
One element of the new US strategy is a massive increase in non-military aid to Pakistan. The review participant said the Obama administration supports a bill introduced last year by Senator Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat who is now the vice president, and Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The legislation calls for increasing annual US non-military aid to Pakistan to $1.5 billion and guaranteeing it for at least five and potentially 10 years. Frederick Jones, a spokesman for the Foreign Relations Committee, said chairman John Kerry intended to reintroduce the legislation soon.
Expedite launch: Separately, an editorial in the Washington Post on Sunday urged the US to expedite the launch of its preferential trade programme in the Tribal Areas to generate new jobs for locals. According to APP, the editorial stressed that establishment of Reconstruction Opportunity Zones (RoZs) would discourage Taliban recruitment.
By MARK MAZZETTI
WASHINGTON — In the mountains of northwest Pakistan, the psychological impact of America’s drone strikes can be measured by this: Some locals have given up drinking Lipton tea, out of a growing conviction that the Central Intelligence Agency is using the tea bags as homing beacons for its pilotless planes.
But in Pakistan’s cities there is a different impact: a sense that the gizmos, created to instill fear in America’s enemies, only reveal the fears of Americans to take casualties themselves. There, a song of protest taunts the world’s most powerful country for sending robots to do a man’s job:
America’s heartless terrorism
Killing people like insects
But honor doesn’t fear power.
Even as the C.I.A. crosses names off its list of Al Qaeda leaders with each successful strike in Pakistan, Washington is struggling to understand the long-term implications of a push-button conflict. One question is whether the robot wars are only a holding action in a far more complex political and ideological war, against an enemy whose resilience America still doesn’t fully understand.
President Obama and his advisers acknowledge that it will take years, and billions of dollars, before Afghanistan’s own army and police can secure that country’s hinterlands from the now-resurgent militants of both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Meanwhile, the militants are likely to remain part of the fabric of Pashtun culture in the tribal lands on both sides of the mountainous border, where the governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan have proved unable to exert control.
Given this complexity, the drone strikes are a seductive tool. They have delivered body blows to Al Qaeda’s leadership in the tribal areas of northern Pakistan without risking a single American soldier on the ground. And last week, Mr. Obama was reported to be considering widening their use to include killing Taliban leaders who direct insurgents in Afghanistan from other sanctuaries, near Quetta, in southwestern Pakistan.
Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, recently called the spy agency’s campaign in Pakistan the “most effective weapon” available to the Obama administration to take on militants there — a finely tuned bit of praise, given the Pakistani government’s past denunciations of forays by American ground troops onto Pakistani soil.
The drone campaign is, at the same time, the antithesis of the grinding, patient and high-risk counterinsurgency doctrine currently in vogue at the Pentagon. Following the pattern of Iraq, that doctrine’s proponents want to persuade at least some tribal groups to work with the Americans, as well as with the Afghan and Pakistani governments, rather than the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
But in Pakistan, some C.I.A. veterans of the tribal battles worry that instead of separating the citizenry from the militants the drone strikes may be uniting them. These experts say they fear that killing militants from the sky won’t undermine, and may promote, the psychology of anti-American militancy that is metastasizing in the country.
“Unless we come up with a coherent Pakistan policy, then nothing works,” said Milton Bearden, who as C.I.A. station chief in Islamabad once led the agency’s campaign to arm Afghan mujahedeen against the Soviet Union. (It was Mr. Bearden who learned, from an executive at Lipton’s parent company, Unilever, that Lipton tea wasn’t selling well in some parts of Pakistan, and why.)
Over the last six months, C.I.A. operatives wielding joysticks have launched more than three dozen strikes by Predator and more heavily-armed Reaper drones. Missiles fired from them have hit militants gathering in mountain redoubts, and they have hit truck convoys ferrying ammunition across the border into Afghanistan.
Some agency veterans draw comparisons to the Israeli policy of “targeted killings” of Hamas leaders — killings that claimed scores of the group’s top operatives in the Palestinian territories, but didn’t keep new recruits from attacking Israel.
Intelligence officials in Washington and Islamabad said it was nearly impossible to measure the impact of the strikes on the so-called “war of ideas.” Even when precise, the drone strikes often kill women and children in militant compounds. When that happens, local Pashtun customs of “badal” obligate their survivors to seek revenge.
And then there is the matter of bravery. For his new book about the rise of robot warfare, “Wired for War,” P. W. Singer interviewed insurgents in the Muslim world who said that America’s reliance on drone weapons is a sign that the United States is afraid to sacrifice troops in combat.
This ought to be a particular concern now, Mr. Singer said, as the United States struggles to build alliances in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There, he said, trust is built by displays of personal bravery.
A Yemeni court on Monday condemned an Islamist to death for establishing contact with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and offering to collaborate with the Jewish state.
Bassam al-Haidari, 26, was found guilty of writing directly to the prime minister of Israel by email, offering to work for the Jewish state.
Another defendant Imad al-Rimi, 23, was sentenced to five years in prison and Ali al-Mahfal, 24, to three.
AS the issues facing Pakistan increase in number and multiply in gravity, one of the results is the growing incidence of violence. From militant activities to armed robbery and street crime, or even domestic abuse that is considered commonplace, our society has been brutalised to the extent that it is no longer shocked by such incidents of violence. On the contrary, physical aggression and strong-arm tactics are accepted as part of the modus operandi of institutions and individuals, from the highest level of authority to that of ordinary citizens. Rather than condemn violence in its various forms, we tend to take it as a fait accompli. Lack of education and opportunity are often blamed for having helped create a society where violence is a means of first resort. While true to an extent, this is not the full picture. The fact is that the ideological space for liberal and peaceful elements in Pakistan is diminishing rapidly. As violence becomes the norm, little debate takes place on compromise or other methods of conflict resolution. Yet such debate is essential to the country’s prosperity since at the heart of any conversation on violence are issues of human and individual rights, respect for law and the norms of civilised behaviour, and even common courtesy.
For it to bear any fruit on a societal level, such debate must take place on the cultural front. Ideas of identity, individualism and concern for the rights of others are best explored and understood through creative mediums such as theatre, art, literature and cinematography. These platforms of cultural expression have flexible boundaries and limitless scope. They can help foster an understanding of and inclination towards the rules set out by the state and society. The ideological intent of laws such as those limiting the ownership of firearms, for example, can be bolstered by a general understanding of why a gun culture exists in Pakistan and why it must be countered.
Karachi’s National Academy of the Performing Arts has taken a step in this regard by joining hands with the provincial Ministry for Youth Affairs to initiate art and theatre activities that will promote ideals of peace and tolerance. What looks like a soft option is, in fact, of inestimable value, particularly since the cultural activities undertaken will focus on students and young people. The only hope for Pakistan’s future lies in tolerant and liberal elements reclaiming ideological ground that was lost to those who promote violence and anarchy.
WASHINGTON: The Pakistani state could collapse within six months if immediate steps are not taken to remedy the situation, warned a top adviser to the US Central Command.
David Kilcullen, who advises CENTCOM commander Gen. David H. Petraeus on the war on terror, urged US policy makers to focus their attention on Pakistan as a failure there could have devastating consequences for the entire international community.
In an interview to The Washington Post published on Sunday, Kilcullen, who is credited with the success of the US troop surge strategy in Iraq, warned that if Pakistan went out of control, it would ‘dwarf’ all the crises in the world today.
‘Pakistan…hands down. No doubt,’ he said when asked to name the central front in the war against terror.
Asked to explain why he thought Pakistan was so important, Kilcullen said: ‘Pakistan has 173 million people, 100 nuclear weapons, an army bigger than the US Army, and al-Qaeda headquarters sitting right there in the two-thirds of the country that the government doesn’t control.’
He claimed that the Pakistani military and police and intelligence service did not follow the civilian government; they were essentially a rogue state within a state.
‘Were now reaching the point where within one to six months we could see the collapse of the Pakistani state, also because of the global financial crisis, which just exacerbates all these problems,” he said.
‘The collapse of Pakistan, al-Qaeda acquiring nuclear weapons, an extremist takeover — that would dwarf everything we’ve seen in the war on terror today.’
Kilcullen, an Australian anthropologist who advises governments on Muslim militancy throughout the West, disagreed with the suggestion that it was important to kill or capture Osama bin laden.
He discussed two possible scenarios for catching the al-Qaeda leader. Scenario one is, American commandos shoot their way into some valley in Pakistan and kill bin Laden.
This, Kilcullen said, would not end the war on terror and would make bin Laden a martyr.
The second scenario: a tribal raiding party captures bin Laden, puts him on television and says, ‘You are a traitor to Islam and you have killed more Muslims than you have killed infidels, and we’re now going to deal with you.’ They could either then try and execute the guy in accordance with their own laws or hand him over to the International Criminal Court.
‘If that happened, that would be the end of the al-Qaeda myth,’ said Kilcullen.
He said that three lessons learned in Iraq could also apply to Afghanistan. The first one is to protect the population. ‘Unless people feel safe, they won’t be willing to engage in unarmed politics,’ he argued.
The second lesson is to focus on getting the population on America’s side and making them self-defending. And then a third lesson is to make a long-term commitment.
Kilcullen said that the Obama administration’s policy of reaching out to moderate elements of the Taliban also had several pitfalls.
‘If the Taliban sees that we’re negotiating for a stay of execution or to stave off defeat, that’s going to harden their resolve,’ he warns.
‘I’m all for negotiating, but I think the chances of achieving a mass wave of people turning against the Taliban are somewhat lower in Afghanistan than they were in Iraq.’
By Anwar Iqbal
THE winds of the United States’ Pakistan policy have changed, and our government better hunker down to avoid getting swept over.
The recent announcement of President Barack Obama’s Afghan plan struck a markedly different note than previous policy initiatives — they’re no longer pretending that it’s about us. The main thrust of Obama’s ‘central front’ policy is to ensure that Afghanistan and Pakistan are prevented from becoming launching pads for terrorist attacks against the US and its allies.
This relatively achievable goal has been stripped of all frilly rhetoric about strengthening democracy, liberating women and championing freedom. From the US perspective, the issue has been reoriented from solving a problem to managing it. In other words, the US has placed the ball firmly in the Pakistan government’s court to devise localised strategies to tackle spreading militancy and extremism.
Over the past few weeks, high-ranking US and European officials have emphasised that Obama’s Afghan plan aims to protect the West, rather than ‘fix’ this region. In February, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates explicitly stated, ‘our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the US and allies.’ To that end, the US is considering negotiating with the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, asking them to control the presence of Al Qaeda in South and Central Asia in exchange for the withdrawal of US and Nato forces.
No doubt, this plan suits the US just fine: in the tussle for regional prominence, the Taliban will happily foil the plans of Al Qaeda, which it has largely refrained from partnering in the previous years. But the plan also turns the Taliban into a viable negotiating partner, thereby emboldening them and setting the precedent for what future interactions with the Pakistan government will look like. Think now of Swat, where democracy was shelved in favour of the peace-for-Sharia deal.
Innumerable articles published in the local and international press have belaboured the point that residents of Swat are living by the TNSM’s dictates, too terrified to contradict the reigning wisdom that Sufi Mohammad has fulfilled their desires for Islamic law and peace in the valley. Will such circumstances become commonplace if the Taliban are led to think that tit-for-tat deals will define governance for large swathes of Pakistani territory in the coming years? Our civilian population surely deserves better.
Moreover, such deals will likely result in increased Saudi involvement. In January, a Saudi intelligence chief reportedly visited Islamabad to talk to both government and Taliban officials and Saudi Arabia has offered financial support if the Taliban distances itself from Al Qaeda. Ideological affinities will prompt the Taliban to take up these offers, resulting in stronger ties with Riyadh and the further ‘Saudi-isation’ of Pakistan, which has already occurred to the detriment of our heritage.
On another note, Obama’s Afghan plan also draws a distinction between ‘incorrigible’ and ‘reconcilable’ elements within the Taliban and Al Qaeda. US Vice President Joseph Biden said some days ago that between 100 and 1,000 militants — about five per cent of the total — in Pakistan are ‘hard core’, deserving of military action to take them out.
He argued that up to 70 per cent of insurgent foot soldiers can be persuaded away from their militant objectives because they’re in it for the money, rather than to serve an ideology. Another 25 per cent are supposedly on the fence. In order to better reflect this ground reality, US policy now aims to provide ‘incentives’ to win over those militants who pick up arms in lieu of a day job.
Assuming these figures are true, the plan to buy off cash-strapped militants helps the US tidy matters up enough to justify an exit strategy, but leaves Pakistan in an even bigger mess. If it comes to out-spending the US, the Taliban will do what is necessary to raise funds to keep recruits on board. Drug trafficking, which is already rampant in Afghanistan, would escalate and spread into many parts of Pakistan. Kidnappings with exorbitant ransoms will become increasingly frequent.
In Karachi, bank robberies over the past two years have also been traced to the Taliban. Meanwhile, in Peshawar, senior police officers have reported incidents in which wealthy businessmen have received letters from militant organisations, suggesting that ‘donations’ for jihad be made available — or else. If the militants begin to feel the pinch, they will resort to blackmailing and other measures. Sadly, Pakistan’s over-extended law-enforcement agencies are not ready to counter criminality that may result from a US-militant bidding war.
And what of the 25 per cent that remains on the fence? US army officials have made it clear that the military effort against the handful of ‘incorrigible’ militants will continue, meaning that targeted drone attacks will increase, and perhaps even extend to places such as Quetta, where recent reports suggest Taliban commanders have relocated.
The sustained use of force will result in more civilian casualties and collateral damage that may urge borderline militants to go over to the hard-line. What will the US do if the ranks of ‘incorrigibles’ swell? A wider military campaign against certain Taliban forces will make it harder for the ‘reconcilable’ Taliban to maintain their accords with the US and Pakistan government. If they change their mind and again join hands with hard-core elements, they will do so flush with cash and with free reign in the absence of US and Nato troops.
There is also the possibility that Pakistan becomes a battlefield where ‘incorrigibles’ fight it out with ‘reconcilables’ perceived to be turncoats, now on US payrolls. Indeed, the US distinction between different kinds of militants could escalate turf wars between extremist organisations. The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan is not the same as Lashkar-i-Islam, Harkatul Mujahideen, Lashkar-i-Taiba et al. The belief that one group is benefiting from an unholy alliance with the West could spark infighting that resembles the persistent clashes between Sunni and Shia factions in Iraq.
Ultimately, Obama’s Afghan plan may be a case of too little, too late. Since Barnett Rubin and Ahmed Rashid proposed the idea of negotiating in December 2008, militants have been emboldened by small victories such as Swat. The fragility of Karzai and Zardari’s governments has also been amply demonstrated in the meantime. Now, extremists believe they are winning the war against foreign forces and stooge governments and are extending their fight into places such as Dir. Bargaining with them now that they’ve had a taste of power could be the least strategic strategy.
There are no words to describe the feeling of adrenaline spiking through my system right now. There are no words to describe the feeling of being pushed by a police officer, someone who is paid with your tax dollars to serve and protect you.
Yesterday, in San Francisco, on the 6th anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, what started out as a peaceful demonstration against war and oppression rapidly escalated into a violent clash between aggressive riot police and the substantially outnumbered and unarmed civilian demonstrators. The demonstration, sponsored by ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), was peaceful and calm. It was not unlike many other anti-war demonstrations that have taken place there on many occasions. Sadly, yesterday was different.
The chaos broke out after a boy who was probably between 8 and 10 years old was detained under suspicion of carrying rocks in his backpack. I never saw a rock in anyone’s hand, for that matter. We are in San Francisco after all, not Palestine.
I didn’t actually see what happened that caused the police to single the boy out, but I watched as he stood crying between two police officers and several ANSWER organizers who were arguing about whether or not he was going to be arrested. Then, suddenly and without cause, the police began charging the crowd with their batons.
The police were yelling “Get back! Get on the sidewalk! NOW!”- All while pushing people with their batons. Because there was an old subway entrance on the edge of the sidewalk, there was no place for people to go, even if they could have stepped back. The police proceeded to knock people over and violently shove them with their batons up against the metal fence of the old subway entrance.
There were several demonstrators and ANSWER organizers on the ground, the police were pushing against the demonstrators, and the demonstrators were desperately trying to retreat but had nowhere to retreat to. People were screaming, cops were swinging their batons, and all the while a line of baton toting officers was forming around this small area, thus sealing us off from the rest of the rally. It was then that I noticed that the majority of people quarantined in this police pit were Arab American youth.
Anyone watching the chaos unfold at yesterday’s march could see that the group of Arab American youth who were being corralled were no match for the throngs of well trained, baton-wielding cops. Furthermore, I believe the tactic of trapping us with a flanking line was a method of provocation and thus the cause of further altercations.
Anyone with any common sense would know that physically barricading a group of frightened and angered young people will only serve to escalate a situation. I myself was inside this police barricade and when I politely attempted to exit, I was yelled at and told to find a different exit. This was impossible given the fact that this small area was completely surrounded.
Coincidentally, this place was directly across the street from the Zionist counter-protest. Given the outrageously large number of police officers stationed in front of the counter-protest, I cannot help but wonder if this violent attack by the police was instigated by a local Zionist lobby.
What’s more is that earlier during the event, when several Arab American youths made their way over to the counter protest, the police pushed and shoved them back to the other side of the street. But when a counter-protester made his way into the ANSWER rally and began taunting people, the police stood by and did nothing. The blatantly hypocritical stance of the police was despicable. This, coupled with the outright police brutality against Arab American youths, is evidence of systematic bigotry within the San Francisco Police Department.
I have been attending protests for my entire life. Until yesterday, I had never been pushed, shoved, charged, or otherwise aggressively touched by a police officer. It saddens me that on the 6th anniversary of the Iraq war, instead of successfully raising awareness about ending the war and freeing the Middle East, we must struggle to survive something as simple as our right to freedom of assembly.
How are we supposed to feel safe when the people who are responsible for our safety are intimidating and hurting us? How are we supposed to exercise our constitutional rights to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly when there is a government police force standing by to punish us for it? Who are these people who make up the San Francisco Police Department, and every police department for that matter, who see demonstrators as a menace that need to be physically squashed for the good of society? Where is the justice?
Two weeks ago, the world woke to the grim reminder that fringe terrorists in Northern Ireland still put fanaticism before innocent lives. These brutal acts, so devastating in their impact on the families of those murdered, have led the people and politicians of Northern Ireland to stand as one against any return of the terrorist threat. We should be under no illusion, however, that the biggest security threat to our country and other countries is the murderous agents of hate that work under the banner of al-Qaida.
We know that there is an al-Qaida core in northern Pakistan trying to organise attacks in Britain. We know also that there are a number of networks here and as the head of MI5 reported recently: “There is no cause for complacency; there is plenty of activity and the threat level remains at severe.”
It is a measure of the challenge we face – but also our success in dealing with it – that in the last two years more than 80 terrorists who planned to kill British citizens have been convicted and are now behind bars, some under the measures we have brought in since 2001.
Al-Qaida terrorists remain intent on inflicting mass casualties without warning, including through suicide bombings. They are motivated by a violent extremist ideology based on a false reading of religion and exploit modern travel and communications to spread through loose and dangerous global networks.
We must remain vigilant at all times. On Tuesday, we will publish our updated counterterrorism strategy, showing why this vigilance remains so vital and showing also the success we have had, thanks to the hard work of the thousands of brave, skilled and dedicated people working to keep us safe, investigating terrorist activities, stopping them and bringing those responsible to justice. Of the 80 terrorists now behind bars, half of them pleaded guilty. We know this is hitting terrorists’ morale as well as disrupting more than a dozen plots that could have caused hundreds of deaths.
The approach we are taking tackles the immediate threat through the relentless pursuit of terrorists and disruption of their plots, builds up our defences against attacks and our resilience to deal with them, and addresses the longer term causes – understanding what leads people to become radicalised, so we can stop the process.
Across all these strands, our response must be international, national and local. At the national level, we have built the strongest-ever counterterrorist framework, with investment rising from £1bn in 2001 to £3.5bn in 2011. At our borders, we have brought in improved electronic checks, excluded more than 150 people from Britain on national security grounds since 2005 and toughened our approach to refusing entry to extremists. We have better protection of crowded places, major buildings and our transport system and we are setting out a new approach to the risk that terrorists will abuse modern technology to mount chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear attacks.
Over recent years, we have set up a national security committee involving the heads of agencies and the armed forces, and a national security forum bringing in the best outside experts. We have built up not only our national policing capability but also counterterrorist police in the regions.
But today, not only the police and security and intelligence officers, and our armed forces, but also the emergency services, local councils, businesses, and community groups are involved in state-of-the-art civil contingency planning.
Tens of thousands of men and women throughout Britain – from security guards to store managers – have now been trained and equipped to deal with an incident and know what to watch for as people go about their daily business in crowded places such as stations, airports, shopping centres and sports grounds.
This is not just about training and equipping professionals, however. I believe that the better we inform the public, the more vigilant the public will be. And there is a duty on all of us – government, parliament, and civic society – to stand up to people who advocate violence and preach hate, to challenge their narrow and intolerant ideology – in public meetings, in universities, in schools and online.
This is also a global challenge and Britain is at the forefront of international co-operation – from helping Pakistan investigate the murder of Benazir Bhutto to the work of our armed forces in Afghanistan and, in the longer term, our aid programme and our support for conflict-prevention and stabilisation.
In 2001, al-Qaida were based in Afghanistan. While they are still active there, core al-Qaida has shifted across the border into Pakistan. More than two-thirds of the plots threatening the UK are linked to Pakistan. Together with the new US administration, we are developing a strategy to tackle the terrorist threat across the region, the underlying causes, the extremist madrasas and the lawless spaces in which terrorists recruit or train. A vital part of this is building up the security forces of Afghanistan and Pakistan, with the support of our own armed forces, so they can take on more of this responsibility for themselves, an approach I discuss frequently with Presidents Karzai and Zardari, urging closer co-operation between their countries.
As the threats we face are changing rapidly, we can never assume that the established way of doing things will be enough. We will always make the necessary changes, whether through greater investment, changes to our laws or reforms to the way we do things, to ensure that Britain is protected.
And at all times, the responsibility remains the same – protecting the security of all and safeguarding the rights and freedoms of the individual. I outlined to Parliament last week the steps we are taking to make absolutely clear that we meet the highest standards, continuing to condemn unequivocally the use of torture, never torturing nor ever asking others to torture for us.
Terrorism threatens the rights that all in this country should hold dear, including the most fundamental human right of all – the right to life. We know that terrorists will keep on trying to strike and that protecting Britain against this threat remains our most important job.
I believe that this updated strategy, recognised by our allies to be world-leading in its wide-ranging nature, leaves us better prepared and strengthened in our ability to ensure all peace-loving people of this country can live normally, with confidence and free from fear.
LONDON: Stating that the core of al-Qaida has shifted from Afghanistan to Pakistan, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown Sunday said he that Britain was about to take the war against terror “to a new level”.
Britain will release on Tuesday a new counter- terrorism strategy called Contest Two, billed as the most comprehensive approach to tackling the threat of terrorism by any government in the world.
Writing in The Observer, Brown said: “We know that there is an al-Qaida core in northern Pakistan trying to organize attacks in Britain. We know also that there are a number of networks here, he said.
“Al-Qaida terrorists remain intent on inflicting mass casualties without warning, including through suicide bombings. They are motivated by a violent extremist ideology based on a false reading of religion and exploit modern travel and communications to spread through loose and dangerous global networks”.
Al-Qaida is still active in Afghanistan, but the threat has crossed the border, he adds: “Over two thirds of the plots threatening the UK are linked to Pakistan.” “Together with the US administration we are developing a new strategy for how we tackle the terrorist threat across the region, the underlying causes, the extremist madrasas and the lawless spaces in which terrorists can recruit or train.”
The recent weeks have seen some astounding revelations, first with the
report from the US General Accountability Office (GAO) to the Congress
on the case of the unaccounted weapons in Afghanistan and,
second; with the highly controversial disclosure of the American drones
being flown and operated from within Pakistan! Trivialities aside, these
are no joking matters and have far reaching implications. Moreover, they
reveal the deep fissures that run across the political and military
administrative landscape in both the countries.
The GAO report of the unaccounted weapons run into an astounding amount,
from the supplies procured by the US and coalition forces for the Afghan
National Security Forces (the ANSF, include the Police and the Army).
The unaccounted weapons constitute 87,000 or nearly a third from a total
of 242,000 weapons, costing $120 million that were supplied by the US,
besides the 135,000 obtained at a cost of $103 million from 21 countries
in the â€¨coalition forces.
These weapons that included rifles, pistols, shotguns, mortars and
launchers for grenades, rockets and missiles, have simply disappeared
hoodwinking the integrated link of audit measures that are typically
employed in the process. The weapons were part of the supplies meant to
equip and train the ANSF under the $16.5 billion programme run by the
United States, from June 2002-2008. Besides the listed arms, 15 night
vision goggles, a highly sought after â€¨insurgency equipment, have
also seemed to disappear.
The GAO report states that accountability lapses occurred throughout the
supply chain but the major compromises occurred during transportation
and storage. The report listed “corruption, illiteracy and unclear
guidance” as the main reasons that brought this about. Though the
need to implement stringent accountability measures is being called for,
this is bound to have some impact on request for the additional fund of
$5.7 billion that is earmarked for training and equipping the
â€¨Afghans in 2009.
Moreover, the programme for formation of armed village militias to
support the Afghan police may also backfire on the lines of the
Auxiliary Police programme that was launched some times back. The
implication of this momentous carelessness on the side of the US-led
coalition and deliberate bungling by the Afghans is not easy to digest.
It is bound to be more acutely felt by the ISAF who are combating an
increasingly, challenging insurgency. The greater number of the missing
weapons in all likelihood may have been sold to the insurgents, while
others may have found their way to the private militias of some
warlords. In a country where organised crime groups, some of who are
involved in narcotics, while others run the illegal weapons trade, are
having a field day in making millions of dollars in catering to the
demand of different groups.
It is also rumoured that certain regional countries, in order to
perpetuate their vested interests are guilty of financing and arming
various insurgent groups in Afghanistan. Irrespective of the origin and
supply of the illegal weapons that are easily procurable, the covert
illegal weapon markets in the area seem to be thriving.
It is expected that the recommendations made for establishing clear
accountability procedures, by the GAO, to the US Department of Defense
would be mulled over and integrated into the future military procedures.
At the same time, what is more important is for the implementation of
stricter monitoring overseeing sensitive security matters on the Afghan
side, that seriously needs to tackle the endemic corruption that
permeates almost all levels in the government administration.
Now on the issue of the drones, that have, actually become a droning
nuisance for the Pakistan government that has been raging against them,
from the times of President Musharraf to the democratically elected PPP
government! Predator drone strikes that to date have exceeded 60,
started sometimes in 2004 and were operating mainly in North and
Waziristan Agency near the Afghan border.
The latest attack, till the time of writing this article was in the
Kurram Agency. Thus the drone-christening of Kurram took place with 30
people killed in a refugee camp that is believed to have been run by
Gulbuddin Kekmatyar’s Hizb-i-Islami party, and was reportedly
housing some poor Afghan families besides some high value Taleban
figures, that were the intended targets of the attack.
Violations of Pakistan’s sovereignty are expected to continue with
no signs of abatement as top US military commanders from General
Petraeus downwards, have all reiterated that the strikes are necessary
and have been productive in taking out high value Al Qaeda operatives in
Pakistan’s tribal areas. This hardcore military logic does not take
into account the deaths of civilians nor the public outrage that is
building up within the country.
The acknowledgement of a covert agreement by the government with the US
on the drone issue would be akin to political suicide. Uptil now
diplomatic protests about the drone strikes to every visiting US
government official have managed to keep opposition at bay. Well, as the
age-old saying goes about truth being unable to be covered for long,
confirmation about Pakistan’s involvement in the drone strikes even
superseded the protested-but- accepted belief that they were being
directed from Afghanistan. The disclosure came from the very surprised
Chairwoman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee, Dianne Feinstein,
about the fuss made by Pakistan on the drone strikes since they were
being launched from inside the country.
This was as expected, followed by vehement denials that came thick and
fast by the Pakistan government, including the Defense Minister Ahmad
Mukhtar who went on to question the basis of Senator Feinstein’s
Furthermore, the news of the CIA using the Shamsi airbase in Balochistan
to launch drone attacks inside Pakistan has triggered further outrage. A
British newspaper, The Times has claimed that 730,000 gallons of F34
aviation fuel worth $3.2 million, was delivered to the airbase from
Pakistan Refineries in Karachi in 2008 — that is believed to be used by
the Predator drone aircraft. Similarly, the CBS News has also run a
story regarding confirmation of Pakistan airbases for drone strikes by
an anonymous NATO official. Satellite pictures from Google earth,
printed in a Pakistani newspaper, show unmanned aircrafts at an
undisclosed airbase in Balochistan.
The reaction of the Pakistan Army was only to confirm the use of the
Shamsi airbase by US forces for logistical purposes, while omitting any
comments on the drone issue.
The question is, if the joint consensus among the security officials on
both the Pakistan and the US side is in favour of the strikes, why are
they not being conducted by the Pakistan air force, who should be given
the required number of Predator aircrafts to conduct the operations.
A logical way of resolving the sovereignty violation debate would be to
shift the onus of the necessary attacks onto Pakistan. Assuming
responsibility and owning up to its role with honesty in the ongoing
operations against terrorists and dissident militant groups, who
challenge the state, is something Pakistan establishment must take on.
This would ease the extreme pressure and mistrust among the public who
are not ready to be fooled any longer.
Faryal Leghari can be reachedâ€¨at faryal@khaleejtimes