Baitullah’s evil tactics

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Baitullah’s evil tactics

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the amir of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) Baitullah Mehsud ordered 18 of his wounded men slaughtered before retreating in the face of the army operation going on against him. The men lost their lives because they were no longer fit to keep up with the rest as they made good their escape. Seeing the operation unfolding effectively against the TTP, the parents of the boys he had shanghaied into his suicide-bomber training camps begged him to release their offspring. He refused.

Baitullah is showing signs of being under pressure by employing savage tactics of retaliation too. Anyone who speaks against him inside the vast tracts occupied by the various warlords is liable to get killed. As he moves from one safe place to another safe place to avoid being hit by the Pakistan jets, he is carefully monitoring his rivals within the Taliban and eliminating them. As he faces what may be the last chapter in his book of unbelievable cruelty, he is carefully sustaining the psychology of intimidation among populations that are forced to live under his authority.

Fear of death will catch up with the most valiant among human beings. The Pashtun nation, known to be the bravest in the world, has suffered the humiliation of being at his beck and call simply because the state of Pakistan was too weak to face him and read him the riot act. There are many not so noble reasons behind why the state of Pakistan became impotent, but the effect of loss of internal sovereignty has been devastating on the psyche of the Pashtun. Used to living honourably, the Pashtun man has had to tolerate being enslaved by the warlords.

Baitullah’s technique is based on the extremely savage ways of inflicting death. He has had people he doesn’t like slaughtered on CDs and then distributed the gruesome scenes all over the tribal areas and the whole wide world. One report about him said that when a commander complained that a local population was reluctant to accept his authority, Baitullah quietly asked him to take a dozen elders of the area out and behead them in front of the local population. Now that people are a little less scared of him they admit that public beheadings were something that the bravest among them could not withstand.

Above all, Baitullah has used “Islam” as a part of his evil enterprise. Nowhere in the world has the risk of being deceived by fake piety been greater than in Pakistan. Warlords in Swat and Khyber have been haranguing local populations on their campaign of “Islamic correction”. They have been inflicting cruel punishment on men and women by saying that these were prescribed by Allah and the Sharia. The authority of the Taliban in Afghanistan was based on inhuman treatment of the common man in the name of Islam; but what the Pakistani Taliban have achieved in Pakistan has eclipsed anything that Mullah Umar did during his dark period of rule.

Baitullah got away with a lot as long as the people of Pakistan thought he was an Islamic soldier and was spreading true Islam in the face of America’s infidel assault on Afghanistan. Tragically they ignored the truly pious men he killed when they disagreed with his modus operandi. Pakistan ignored the innocent local elders he put to death and also turned its face away when he eliminated the clergy who disagreed with him. When he spoke, he was believed; when the state of Pakistan spoke, it was not believed. After killing Ms Benazir Bhutto in 2007, he saw that the public reaction was not good, so he declared that he had convened a shura in South Waziristan and announced that “harming a woman was against the teachings of Islamic Shariah”. The tragedy is that even after eyewitnesses have vowed that they saw him sending the killers after Ms Bhutto, most Pakistanis believe him.

Far from being a pious warrior in the Pashtun tradition, Baitullah uses deceit as a tactic of popular disarmament. The people now know him but are helpless living under his authority. The people’s true verdict will come after the Pakistan army has hunted him down.

‘Forces not ready for South Waziristan offensive’

‘Forces not ready for South Waziristan offensive’

By Anwar Iqbal

Analysts said that Pakistan was unlikely to move more troops from its eastern border with India to combat the militants. -AP File Photo

WASHINGTON: Pakistan is not yet ready to launch a full-fledged military offensive in South Waziristan, experts told a seminar in Washington.

‘The Pakistani military is very overstretched,’ Shuja Nawaz, a strategic analyst associated with the Atlantic Council in Washington, said. ‘The military does not have the capacity to launch a full-fledged operation while it is engaged in other places.’

Nawaz, who also authored a widely acclaimed book on the Pakistan Army, told the seminar at the Atlantic Council that the army would like to clear the militants from the settled areas first, particularly D. I. Khan.

He also said that Pakistan was unlikely to move more troops from its eastern border with India to combat the militants.

Nawaz also warned that because of the delay the situation in Waziristan would get ‘messier’ before it improved and ‘it will take longer to dislodge the militants’.

Syed Fakhar Imam, a PPP leader and a former speaker of the National Assembly, pointed out that the military was focussing on weakening the militants in South Waziristan before making a major move.

He noted that the military was using fighter jets to pound militant positions in the area and had also blocked their supply routes.

Such actions, he said, showed that the military wanted to ‘weaken the militants before moving in to deliver the coup de grace’.

Imam said he believed the military and Pakistan’s intelligence agencies now fully backed the government-led offensive against the militants.

‘There may be individuals here and there who may still have doubts but the institutions backed the offensive,’ he said. ‘Now how long it will take to defeat the militants; depends on how quickly they succeed.’

Imam urged the United States to provide necessary equipment, such as night-vision goggles and helicopters, to improve the military’s capability to combat the militants.

Syeda Abida Hussain, another PPP leader, drew attention to the socio-economic challenges facing Pakistan, emphasising the need for Pakistan to address its burgeoning population growth.

‘The issue,’ she said, ‘could best be approached through a policy that took into account a host of pertinent issues, particularly the resources available to future generations.’

Court Petitioned to File Murder, Genocide Charges Against Obama

Supreme Court moved against drone attacks

By Sohail Khan

ISLAMABAD: A constitutional petition was filed on Wednesday in the Supreme Court, challenging drone attacks in the tribal belt of the country and praying for directing the federal government to submit a report before the court as to who was responsible for causing the “murders” of citizens.

The court was also prayed to direct the federal government to get an FIR registered against US President Barack Obama and those responsible for the murder of “innocent” people in drone attacks. The petition was filed by M Tariq Asad advocate, Chairman of the National Council of Human Rights, under Article 184(3) of the Constitution, making the federal government through its secretary, Ministry of Interior, as respondent.

He prayed to the court to direct the federal government to register murder and genocide cases against US President Barack Obama for ordering drone attacks inside the Pakistani territory. The petitioner also prayed to the court to direct the government to lodge complaint with the United Nations against the US aggression.

It was prayed that the respondents be directed to file complaint against the United States of America before the International Court of Justice or other judicial organs of the United Nations to take action in accordance with international law.

Army Counters US Efforts to Flush Taliban From Helmand

Pakistan moves troops to Afghan border

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army has deployed troops to a stretch of the Afghan border to stop Taliban militants fleeing a major U.S. offensive in southern Afghanistan, a spokesman said Thursday.

Nearly 4,000 U.S. Marines plus 650 Afghan forces moved into Afghanistan’s Helmand province early Thursday to take on the Taliban in one of their strongholds.

Pakistani and US officials have expressed concern the American troop build up in southern Afghanistan could push the militants across the poorly guarded and mountainous border into Pakistan.

“We’ve mustered more troops from the other areas of the border” to deploy opposite the Helmand region, said Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas.

“It is sort of a reorganization.”

He said the threat of militants crossing over had been “visualized.” He gave no more details.

Pakistan shares a 1,600-mile (2,600-kilometer) border with Afghanistan. The section opposite Helmand is around 160 miles (260kilometers) long and lies in Balochistan province, where U.S. officials believe the Taliban’s top leadership are hiding out.

Washington wants Pakistan to crack down on militants based on its side of the border, blamed for launching attacks on US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan has launched offensives in its northwestern border regions in recent months, drawing praise in the West.

Mullah Nazir Sides With Government Against Mehsud Terrorists–(The Game Is Back On!)

Commander Nazeer vows to keep Peace Treaty in SWA

WANA: The extremist commander based in South Waziristan Mullah Nazeer Thursday announced to side with the government by keeping the peace treaty intact.

During a Jirga held in SWA capital Wana, political administration directed the release of six arrested men.

Political administration, 120-strong Peace Committee, trial veterans and ulema attended the Jirga. Prior to Jirga with political administration, Peace committee, veterans and ulema held negotiations with Commander Mullah Nazeer.

Talking to Geo news, Jirga member Malik Ghazi Mhammed said the Jirga got along well for establishing peace and resolving other issues, adding consensus was achieved to act upon the Peace Treaty 2007.

It was decided in the Jirga that the forces would not be attacked in line with the Peace Treaty; in case violation of the treaty was committed, the whole responsibility would rest with area veterans and the Political Officials would be fully entitled to take action.

Malik Noor Ai, Maulvi Mirza Jan, Ameer Gulistan and other veterans addressed the Jirga.

On the occasion Political Agent Shahab Ali Shah directed the release of six men on the demand by the veterans, urging them to play their role for enduring peace in the area.

‘US trains Jundullah members’

‘US trains Jundullah members’

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A senior member of the Jundullah terrorist group says that the group has been trained and financed by “the US and Zionists”.

Abdolhamid Rigi, the brother of Jundullah leader Abdolmalek Rigi made the remarks in a court session held in the southeastern city of Zahedan on Wednesday.

Abdolhamid Rigi was among the thirteen members of the Jundullah who were accused of terrorist activities, Fars news agency reported.

Pakistani security forces arrested Abdolhamid last year and extradited him to Iran.

The defendants told the court that foreign spy agencies support Jundullah.

Citing the defendant’s confessions, the court’s judge said that after the extradition of Abdolhamid, foreign intelligence agencies had incited Jundullah members to step up their terrorist attacks in Iran including hostage takings to put pressure on Iran to release Abdolhamid.

Human bombs: Pakistani chickens have come home to roost

Human bombs: Pakistani chickens have come home to roost

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Human bombs used to be mere puzzling headlines for the people of Pakistan till the 9/11 terror attacks, a part of stories of death and destruction emanating out of troubled West Asia. Then US-led Allied Forces invaded Afghanistan, making Pakistan personally experience the devastation a person strapped with lethal explosives could unleash.

With the avowed aim of physically eliminating all those who are siding with the forces of the infidel, the new breed of well trained and highly motivated suicide bombers strike not only Western targets, but Pakistani security and intelligence agencies also, especially the army, the police and the ISI, which spearhead the US war against terror in the country.

The security situation in Pakistan has been in utter turmoil for the past two years, and it went from bad to worse after the Operation Silence carried out against the fanatic Lal Masjid clerics in July 2007. Since then, it appears the extremist forces had not only gained strength in the tribal areas but also got a foothold in the country’s settled areas. Therefore, as things stand, hotels, police stations, police training centres, headquarters of intelligence agencies, army check posts, military training centres, government buildings, mosques, processions and markets have become vulnerable targets of the suicide bombers.

Investigations by Pakistani agencies show the involvement of several kinds of jehadi groups in the ongoing spate of suicide strikes including the Lal Masjid Brigade, Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), Harkatul Jehadul Islami (HUJI), Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Jamaatul Furqaan (JuF), Jaishul-Islami (JuI), Fidayeen-e-Islam (FeI), Abdullah Azzam Shaheed Brigade (ASB) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT).

The human bombs coming from the Lal Masjid Brigade are those who have either been linked with Lal Masjid or Jamia Fareedia or had sympathies with the fanatic Ghazi brothers due to their ideological affinity. While some of the human bombs had been the students of the Ghazi duo, some were the relatives of those killed during the Operation Silence in July 2007. Authorities probing the ongoing spate of suicide bombings that took place after the Operation Silence believe that most of these attacks were carried out by young men in their 20s coming from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of South Waziristan and North Waziristan.

As soon as the Operation Silence came to an end, the agencies had warned that the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad could suffer from suicide attacks, as over 500 potential suicide bombers who had been studying at the Lal Masjid-run Jamia Hafsa and Jamia Fareedia had not returned to their homes after the ending of the Operation Silence. They had warned that the potential bombers were hiding in several madrassas and mosques in and around the twin cities, and were determined to blow themselves up any time, anywhere to avenge the killing of kin and friends. Hardly a few weeks after the operation ended, an 18 year old suicide bomber killed 22 highly trained commandos of the Special Services Group of the Army by targeting their Tarbela Ghazi mess, 100 km south of Islamabad on 13 September 2007. The bomber eventually turned out to be the brother of a Jamia Hafsa girl student killed during the operation, carried out by the Karar Company of the SSG.

The second kind of extremists involved in suicide attacks are those linked to the al-Qaeda and Taliban network based in the Waziristan region on the Pakistan-Afghan tribal belt. In the rocky and far-flung region of Waziristan, Islamic rebels allied to the Afghan Taliban and al-Qaeda have literally taken control of virtually all of the entire North Waziristan tribal area on the Pak-Afghan border, thereby gaining a significant base from which to wage their resistance against the US-led forces in Afghanistan as well as the Pakistani security forces, especially through their highly motivated and lethal suicide bombers. Intelligence sources say the Pakistani security forces have mostly been targeted by the bombers trained and dispatched by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Commander Baitullah Mehsud, the chief of the Mehsud tribe in South Waziristan.

According to a senior official of the elite Special Investigation Group (SIG), from the 26 suicide attacks carried out in 2007, from where the heads of the bombers were also recovered, it transpired that the vast majority of the human bombs came from just one tribe – the Mehsuds of central Waziristan, all boys aged 16 to 20. In fact, most of the recent suicide attacks carried out after the launching of the Operation Rah-e-Haq by the Pakistan Army in Swat have already been claimed by Baitullah – be it the Peshawar Pearl Continental blast, twin attacks on the Lahore headquarters of the Inter Services Intelligence and the Rescue 15, the murder of Mufti Sarfraz Naeemi or the fidayeen assault on the Manawan police academy in Lahore.

The man tasked with indoctrinating youngsters and converting them into lethal suicide bombers is Qari Hussain, also known as Ustad-e-Fidayeen or the teacher of suicide bombers. Believed to be the main ideologue of Pushtun Taliban working under Baitullah’s command, Hussain had been running his suicide training camp in Spinkai Ragzai, a small town in South Waziristan. As one such training centre was discovered by the military authorities last year at a Government-run school in the Kotkai area of South Waziristan, General Officer Commanding of the 14 Division Major General Tariq Khan told reporters in Dera Ismail Khan on May 18, 2008 that it was like a factory, recruiting nine to 12-year-old boys, and turning them into suicide bombers.

Qari Hussain is known in the TTP ranks for his strong anti-Shia views and close ties with the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). The Pakistani agencies are trying to hunt him down given his status as the one who may have recruited and indoctrinated the largest number of people from Waziristan to carry out suicide hits in the country. On January 17, 2009, Qari Hussain released an unusual video of statements from purported human bombs and footage of deadly attacks they claimed to have perpetrated in Pakistan.

The tape, released by none other than Hussain himself, showed youth, some in their teens, addressing the camera about their intention to carry out suicide attacks to background music of Urdu militant anthems. The two major suicide attacks claimed on the TTP video were the March 11, 2008 suicide attack on the Federal Investigation Agency building in Lahore and the November 24, 2007 twin suicide attacks in Faizabad area of Rawalpindi right in front of the ISI headquarters when a bomber rammed his explosive-laden car into a bus carrying 35 ISI officers, killing 15 of them on the spot.

Another important sectarian-cum-jehadi group involved in suicide attacks across Pakistan is Lashkar-e-Jhangvi – a Sunni Deobandi organization which was launched in 1996. The Lashkar today is the most violent al-Qaeda terrorist group operating in Pakistan with the help of its lethal suicide squad, supervised by Qari Zafar who has become a trusted member of al-Qaeda’s hardline inner circle due to his acquaintance with Baitullah Mehsud. South Waziristan-based Qari Zafar, who in fact belongs to Karachi, is not only the suspected mastermind of the September 20, 2008 Marriot Hotel suicide attack in Islamabad, but the most sought after al-Qaeda linked terrorist is reportedly trying to target key strategic installations belonging to the ISI and the Army.

Then next in line is the Swat chapter of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi which is accused of carrying out several suicide attacks targeting the Pakistani security forces. The first such attack was carried out on November 8, 2006 when 45 Pakistan army recruits undergoing training at the Punjab Regimental Centre in Dargai, 100 kilometers north of Peshawar. Another major suicide attack was carried out on October 25, 2007 in Mingora, as two suicide bombers rammed their explosive-laden vehicles into a truck carrying the Frontier Constabulary personnel, killing 33 of them. The attack came following a warning by Fazlullah against the deployment of the security forces.

Then there are a few relatively unknown jehadi organisations like Jaishul-Islami, Fidayeen-e-Islam and Abdulllah Azam Shaheed Brigade which had claimed several major suicide hits. The Jaish had claimed the October 9, 2008 car suicide attack on the Anti Terrorist Squad headquarters in Islamabad. The Fidayeen had claimed the September 20, 2008 Marriott Hotel suicide hit in Islamabad while the Azzam Brigade had co-claimed along with the Tehrik-e-Taliban the June 9, 2009 attack on the Marriot Hotel in Peshawar. These three groups are supposed to be based in the Waziristan region. There are three other jehadi groups which have not yet claimed any suicide attack in Pakistan but have been found involved in several such attacks in the past.

The first one is Jaish-e-Mohammad led by India’s Most Wanted Maulana Masood Azhar while the second is Harkatul Jehadul Islami led by Qari Saifullah Akhtar, already named by Benazir Bhutto as her would be assassin in her posthumous book. To recall, the two human bombs who had tried to kill General Musharraf on December 25, 2003 by ramming their explosive-laden cars into his presidential convoy in Rawalpindi, were later identified as Qari Mohammad Jameel Sudhan, an activist of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Khalique alias Hazrat sultan, an activist of the Harkatul Jehadul Islami.

The third such jehadi group, Jamaatul Furqaan, is led by Maulana Abdul Jabbar alias Umar Farooq, once the chief operational commander of Jaish-e-Mohammad and a close associate of Masood Azhar. The Jamaat is accused of masterminding the March 17, 2002 suicide hit inside an Islamabad church during Sunday service in diplomatic enclave, killing five people, including an American diplomat’s wife and his daughter.

And last but not the least, there is another jehadi organization, Lashkar-e-Toiba, which is accused of carrying out fidayeen attacks in Jammu & Kashmir, targeting the Indian security forces. Fidayeen or life daring attacks are its hallmark. The LeT prefer the term fidayeen to the more common ‘suicide attack’ because its Wahabi leadership strictly prohibits suicide. The fidayeen attackers seldom return from their penetrate-and-kill missions as their aim is not to save their own lives but to maximize the frightening psychological impact on the enemy by inflicting death and destruction on their targets.

The Pakistani investigators say all these groups follow their own techniques to achieve their objectives and use different mechanisms to attack their targets. The jehadi group comprising the toughest motivation category is to hit the military installations with the help of its suicide bombers. They include trained, skillful and equally motivated terrorists. The second category of human bombs attack personnel of law-enforcement agencies and government personalities while the third one is deputed to kill the enemy through a car bombing or blast through remote-controlled device.

The Pakistani authorities say the production of suicide belts in Waziristan has become a cottage industry as one household makes the detonator, another sews the belt, a third molds ball bearings, and so on. These are then collected and paid for by the Taliban, who claim in their propaganda that they have hundreds of willing youngsters lined up to carry out suicide bombings. Then there are some definite patterns of the suicide attacks being carried out in Pakistan. They say the suicide bomber generally never comes alone; he is charged up, brainwashed to the last moment, highly indoctrinated and fanatically intoxicated up till the last moment by his handler who makes sure that the tempo and temper of the suicide bomber reaches to the climax and to the extreme just as he approaches his target.

As far as the motivation of a human bomb to sacrifice himself is concerned, a careful study of the life history of 25 human bombs that exploded themselves between 2002 and 2005 across Pakistan showed that American atrocities against Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq had been the foremost motivation for a majority of them. The study, carried out by an elite intelligence agency, showed that none of the 25 human bombs came from the elite class: 16 of them belonged to the lower middle class while the other nine belonged to the middle class families. Another thing they had in common was illiteracy.

For years, the Pakistani intelligence agencies used to indoctrinate, motivate and train the jehadi cadres for export in the neighbourhood – to Jammu Kashmir and Afghanistan. The human bombs had, however, excluded their home ground from the scope of their holy war. But as things stand, there is a sharp decline in deadly suicide attacks in Jammu Kashmir, with Pakistan emerging as a favoured target of these attacks. Therefore, the human bombs originally designed by the Pakistani establishment to rip apart the so-called enemies of Islam and Pakistan, are now exploding themselves inside their own country and killing their fellow Muslims. Pakistan’s chickens have come home to roost.

amir.mir1969@gmail.com

Here’s Your Sign, Obama…There Will Only Be War In N. Waziristan If YOU Start It!

Army pamphlets warn against attacks in North Waziristan

MIRANSHAH: The government reserves the right to make full use of force in North Waziristan if security forces come under attack by the Taliban, read pamphlets distributed by the army on Wednesday. “It has been decided … that wherever and whoever attacks the army, the government … [will] use force,” said pamphlets written in Urdu which were dropped by an army helicopter, according to witnesses. The pamphlets say the Taliban are wrongly claiming that the army has launched an operation. “The government does not intend to launch a military operation in North Waziristan, which has already suffered,” they say. The pamphlets also urge local residents to play their role in maintaining peace in their areas. The Taliban had launched unprovoked attacks on security forces in recent weeks – “which is a blatant violation of the peace accord”, according to the pamphlets.

National Strike in Honduras Demands Reinstatement of President Zelaya

National Strike in Honduras Demands Reinstatement of President Zelaya

[Shades of Iran--People Power-vs.-The Power of the Government Press]

National Strike in Honduras Demands Reinstatement of President Zelaya

HAVANA, Cuba, June 30 (acn) Members of workers and farmers’ organizations with Honduras’ Frente de Resistencia Popular (People’s Resistance Front) are staging a general strike in the country that will only end with the reinstatement of constitutional President Manuel Zelaya.

Front leaders reject any dialog with the military and the de facto government in Tegucigalpa, which they described as fascist and violator of the country’s laws. The organization also demanded the immediate reinstatement of President Manuel Zelaya.

In a press conference held near the Presidential Palace in Tegucigalpa, the secretary general of the Confederacion Unitaria de Trabajadores (Workers Unitary Confederation) Israel Salinas called on union organizations, farmer associations and other forces with the Front to reinforce the people’s demonstration besieging the government headquarters and to keep in peaceful resistance, Granma newspaper reported.

The leader of Via Campesina farmer organization, Rafael Alegria, announced that picket lines of farmers are currently blocking thoroughfares, while a massive protest action takes place in front of the Presidential Palace demanding the return of President Manuel Zelaya.

Speaking to Telesur TV network a Honduran student leader alerted about the silence maintained by the local media about the developments in Honduras, which he described as an action aimed at spreading the false idea that the country is in calm.

Reports: Two Military Battalions Turn Against Honduras Coup Regime

Posted by Al Giordano – June 29, 2009 at 4:38 pm

By Al Giordano

Community Radio “Es Lo de Menos” was the first to report that the Fourth Infantry Battalion has rebelled from the military coup regime in Honduras. The radio station adds that “it seems” (“al parecer,” in the original Spanish) that the Tenth Infantry Battalion has also broken from the coup.

Rafael Alegria, leader of Via Campesina, the country’s largest social organization, one that has successfully blockaded the nation’s highways before to force government concessions, tells Alba TV:

“The popular resistance is rising up throughout the country. All the highways in the country are blockaded…. The Fourth Infantry Battallion… is no longer following the orders of Roberto Micheletti.”

Angel Alvarado of Honduras’ Popular Union Bloc tells Radio Mundial:

“Two infantry battalions of the Honduran Army have risen up against the illegitimate government of Roberto Micheletti in Honduras. They are the Fourth Infantry Battalion in the city of Tela and the Tenth Infantry Battalion in La Ceiba (the second largest city in Honduras), both located in the state of Atlántida.”

(You can see Tela and La Ceiba on the map, above, along the country’s northern coast.)

Meanwhile, defenders of the violent coup d’Etat now have to eat the fact that their favored regime has extended its wave of terror to the press corps, censoring all independent media in the country, including CNN and Telesur. Reuters reports:

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) – Honduras has shut down television and radio stations since an army coup over the weekend, in a media blackout than has drawn condemnation from an international press freedom group.

Shortly after the Honduran military seized President Manuel Zelaya and flew him to Costa Rica on Sunday, soldiers stormed a popular radio station and cut off local broadcasts of international television networks CNN en Espanol and Venezuelan-based Telesur, which is sponsored by leftist governments in South America.

A pro-Zelaya channel also was shut down.

The few television and radio stations still operating on Monday played tropical music or aired soap operas and cooking shows.

At the White House this afternoon, US President Obama reiterated his government’s non-recognition of the coup regime. According to the White House pool report by David Jackson of USA Today (obtained by Narco News via email):

Obama criticized the Honduras coup as “not legal,” and said it would set a “terrible precedent” for the region. “We do not want to go back to a dark past,” he said. “We always want to stand with democracy.”

If Rafael Alegría – a serious man who gets serious results – says that the highways of the country are successfully blockaded, I tend to believe him. He likewise is not one to spread rumors about the Fourth Infantry Battalion without having solid information.

It seemed inevitable that once the cat is got of the bag regarding the total international rejection of the coup d’etat that military divisions would revolt and point their tanks in the opposite direction: toward the coup plotters above them. We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of a short-lived coup in Honduras.

Keep refreshing the front page of Narco News for more updates, sure to shortly come.

Update: TeleSur TV is reporting that its correspondents in Honduras, as well as those of Associated Press, have been arrested by the coup regime.

Update II: Here is a fuller text of US President Obama’s statement at the aforementioned press conference:

President Zelaya was democratically elected. He had not yet completed his term. We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there. In that, we have joined all the countries in the region, including Colombia and the Organization of American States.

I think it’s — it would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition, rather than democratic elections.

The region has made enormous progress over the last 20 years in establishing democratic traditions in Central America and Latin America.

We don’t want to go back to a dark past. The United States has not always stood as it should with some of these fledgling democracies. But over the last several years, I think both Republicans and Democrats in the United States have recognized that we always want to stand with democracy, even if the results don’t always mean that the leaders of those countries are favorable toward the United States. And that is a tradition that we want to continue.

So we are very clear about the fact that President Zelaya is the democratically elected president. And we will work with the regional organizations, like OAS, and with other international institutions to see if we can resolve this in a peaceful way.

Iran: Clumsy fraud provokes mass demonstrations and forces a recount – Part Two

By Morad Shirin
As news comes in that the regime has declared the elections valid, the deepening economic problems, the crumbling base and the splits in the elite on the one hand, and the growing unity among workers’ organisations (and other joint activities with women, students and national minorities) and the mass disenchantment of the great majority of the population on the other, are preparing the ground for another, and even bigger movement in the near future.

The ‘President’ of the ‘Republic’

But why are so many members of the regime’s elite prepared to go through this process? Why did the ‘reformists’ subject themselves to this stage-managed charade? Is it because the office of ‘President’ is a really powerful one?

Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1997 to 2005. Photo by Remy Steinegger.Mohammad Khatami, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1997 to 2005. Photo by Remy Steinegger.The short answer to this is ‘No’! In March 2001, towards the end of his first term as ‘President’, Mohammad Khatami admitted that he was “powerless” and could not help the ‘reformist’ publications that had been banned by the regime’s courts. He was also “powerless” in intervening to release the jailed members of the Iran Freedom Movement and the Religious-Nationalist Alliance.

This statement represents a damning indictment of the office of ‘President’ – as it was made after the ‘reformists’ became the majority in ‘parliament’! If the ‘President’ of the ‘Republic’ was “powerless” to defend newspapers and pro-reform organisations that supported him then what is he good for? And where does the real power lie?

Under the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran the Leader is more powerful than the ‘president’. The ‘president’ is more like a chief executive officer of a company. He can choose the cabinet ministers (subject to parliamentary approval), ambassadors, provincial governors and so on.

The Leader, however, once he has been elected by the Assembly Experts, has the authority not only to “supervise” and “guide” the republic, but also to “determine the interests of Islam”. He appoints the commanders of the armed forces (inc. pasdaran), the members of national security councils dealing with defence and foreign affairs, the director of the national radio and television network, the heads of the major religious foundations, and the prayer leaders in city mosques.

He also appoints the chief judge, the chief prosecutor, special tribunals and, with the help of the chief judge, the 12 jurists of the Guardian Council. The Guardian Council also sets examinations for candidates to the Assembly of Religious Experts. (Reputable theologians have been known to fail.) This assembly not only elects the Supreme Leader but can also dismiss him on grounds of ill-health or incompetence.

The two tendencies of the bourgeoisie

Right from the beginning this regime has had two broad tendencies relating to their economic policy. One tendency has been aiming to normalise capitalist relations of production in Iran and to restore relations with the imperialist countries. The other tendency has been in favour of state ownership, trade barriers and so on, and has represented the interests of the coalition of bourgeois (and some petty-bourgeois) forces that crushed the 1978-79 mass movement. Over the years the names of these factions, and their representatives, have changed many times. For example, Rafsanjani was once a very ‘radical’ figure, but has for a long time been in favour of privatisation, foreign trade and investment, cutting subsidies and so on.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1989 to 1997. Photo by Mesgary.Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran from 1989 to 1997. Photo by Mesgary.Since these tendencies are rooted in the contradictory formation that replaced the monarchist-military regime of the Shah, the friction between them will continue until there is a modern and centralised capitalist state in Iran. While these two tendencies have been struggling against each other, however, the economic situation has been deteriorating. None of the economic and social problems that led to the 1979 revolution have been resolved. In fact, they have all become exacerbated. For example, every year around 1 million youths enter the job market. According to Mohammad Khazai, a Deputy Minister of Economy and Finance under Khatami, every year from 2006-2010, $20 billion in investment will be needed to provide all the necessary jobs!

Considering mounting problems like, inflation, and all other measures of economic and social depravation, including the widespread problem of unpaid wages, the only thing that has stopped another deep economic crisis has been the vast revenues from the oil and gas industry.

Even here, however, the problems are mounting. The National Iranian Oil Company estimates that over the 2006-2015 period $70 billion is needed to modernise the dilapidated infrastructure and the regime is looking towards foreign oil companies and international capital markets to provide approximately three-quarters of those massive investments. Normalising trade relations and attracting foreign investment are the key initiatives that will help keep the economy from collapsing in the next few years. This is the reason behind the regime’s overtures towards the imperialist countries – including the United States.

Factional differences now

The reason that fraud on this scale took place, and that they tried to announce and approve it quickly, is that Khamenei and the fundamentalist faction (including Ahmadinejad), think that the best way to get more concessions from US imperialism is to use the same tactics as during the past four years. The way they see it is that during Khatami’s ‘presidency’, as part of negotiations with the EU, uranium enrichment was suspended in 2004-05 for over 18 months. The US, under George W. Bush, gave them almost nothing in return.

Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader of Iran. Photo by Foundation of Holy Defence Values, Archives and Publications.Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the current Supreme Leader of Iran. Photo by Foundation of Holy Defence Values, Archives and Publications.Despite all the help the regime had provided the Americans in the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and subsequently in their occupation, they were given minor concessions: e.g., allowing the purchase of spare parts for civilian aircraft and so on.

o the fundamentalist faction took over (through another rigged ‘election’) and instead of Khatami’s “the dialogue of civilisations” and so on the world was subjected to Ahmadinejad’s outrageous remarks on the Holocaust, a resumption of uranium enrichment, more centrifuges installed (reaching 7000) and an insistence on continuing with the programme until they had mastery of the full nuclear cycle (claimed to have been achieved in April 2009). There were also missile tests, big military exercises and the seizure of British sailors. The support for the Palestinians also became much louder and arms shipments and other types of support for groups sympathetic to the regime in the region were stepped up.

This change in tactics, as far as the regime geo-strategic interests are concerned, paid off (although it ruined the economy!). Playing tough is thought to have worked even when the neo-conservatives were in power in Washington. As the ongoing military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan has weakened US imperialism, the IRI wants to maximise its advantage against it. Given imperialism’s weaker position the fundamentalists are hoping for more concessions when they get to the negotiating table.

Having lost out four years ago, the only hope the ‘reformist’ had of overcoming the vote rigging was to have a high turnout. So they welcomed the whole fanfare. They believed that this was their chance to prevail and then advance their way of defending the Islamic system’s long-term interests through less confrontational methods.

But the sheer scale of the fraud took them aback! And when they protested hundreds of them, including many leaders of ‘reformist’ organisations, such as the Islamic Iran Participation Front (IIPF, their main party), were arrested. These included Mohammad-Reza Khatami, one of central leaders of the IIPF and Mohammad Khatami’s brother; Mostafa Tajzadeh, Deputy Culture and Islamic Guidance Minister under Khatami; Behzad Nabavi, a leader of the Mojahedin Organisation of the Islamic Revolution and former Minister of Heavy Industries under Mousavi; and many others. Never had so many former ministers and regime insiders been arrested. In addition their newspapers, websites and blogs were suppressed.

This made some of the ‘reformists’ say that there had been a coup! Yet, even after this claim, Mousavi was still telling people to stay calm and not to harm anyone! Strangely the ‘new rulers’ released Khatami’s brother so that he could be present at the rally on June 15, to stand near Mousavi! It is obvious that this was done because it served the interests of the whole regime to quell the mass discontent and anger. This was the rally that Mousavi had earlier cancelled but was forced to attend by the people.

Then once that immediate crisis was over the elite went back to its power struggle and escalated it. Faezeh Hashemi (Rafsanjani’s daughter) and four other members of Rafsanjani’s family were arrested to put pressure on him. Rafsanjani is said to be involved, with others like Hassan Rowhani (a former member of the Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator), in persuading top clerics in Qom to come out against Khamenei (and his selected man, Ahmadinejad). So far these clerics have not endorsed Ahmadinejad’s ‘victory’.

It is also important to note how the fundamentalists have treated members of the regime’s own weaker faction, including some former ministers and high officials of the regime. They have been arrested in the middle of the night without any warrant or identification of the detaining officers, had their house searched, their family harassed and then were not heard of for a number of days. Even though the ex-ministers’ treatment in jail will be much more mild, their illegal arrests have highlighted the every day repressive methods that confront workers, women, students, teachers, journalists, writers and artists, national minorities, human rights and civil activists (and anyone else who might want to question any aspect of social life under this regime and want to improve it).

The fundamentalists wanted to avoid a second round as it would have harder to rig. A head-to-head contest would have also generated more passions, a bigger debate about the future direction of the regime, and led to further divisions. The top fundamentalist faction was not in any way interested in giving the other faction a fair chance and wanted to continue with the same policies in just the same confrontational way (and to amass its own fortunes at the expense of the other faction).

No religious zeal

Over the past 30 years the IRI’s hezbollahi base has made many sacrifices. From losing hundreds of thousands of their sons in the war with Iraq; continuous hardship through years of sanctions, disastrous economic policies and endemic corruption at all levels of government; many mobilisations against ‘enemies’; and further marginalisation and poverty because of the neo-liberal policies like privatisation, the cutting of subsidies, higher taxation and so on, the social layers that were the shock troops of the Islamic counter-revolution have become demoralised and disillusioned with the regime. The crumbling of this crucial social base has had an important effect on the evolution of the regime.

The erosion in support within its own social base is the reason for the growing professionalisation of the repressive apparatus compared to the 1980s and early 1990s. The creation of uniformed, permanent and paid forces, such as riot police units and a special force made up of women for beating woman demonstrators (rather than the fundamentalist volunteers of the Zeynab sisters), the increasing use of plain-clothes officers, and so on, are clear signs of the diminishing religious and ‘revolutionary’ zeal of the regime’s base.

The paramount repressive force is that of the pasdaran, which as the regime’s dependence on professional and paid thugs has grown, have become a bigger social and economic force. As Mohsen Sazegara, one of the founders of the pasdaran, has said: “I don’t know of any other organisation in any country like the Revolutionary Guards. It’s something like … a business complex, and the mafia.”

The engineering firm Khatam al-Anbia is a key pasdaran affiliate which has been awarded more than 750 contracts in various construction, infrastructure, oil, and gas projects. The oil ministry has signed a number of no-bid contracts with Khatam al-Anbia worth billions of dollars – including a $1.3 billion one for building a 900-km gas pipeline.

Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and his wife, Empress Farah, in 1967Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi and his wife, Empress Farah, in 1967The influence of the pasdaran, also stretches beyond Iran’s borders. Bonyad-e mostazafan (Foundation of the Dispossessed), the largest of foundations in Iran that was created by seizing a part of the Shah’s assets, is indirectly influenced by the pasdaran. In 2004 one of its subsidiary companies began work on a $30 million contract to build a 37-km road into the Hajar mountains in the United Arab Emirates.

Mehdi Karroubi, while ‘speaker of parliament’, indirectly accused the pasdaran of operating 60 illegal jetties in the country without government supervision. Another MP has stated that black-market activities of the pasdaran may be worth as much as $12 billion a year!

The pasdaran are also said to be involved in the “sugar mafia”. In September 2007 the workers of Haft Tapeh said that a “sugar mafia2 was operating in the country and had influenced the government into adopting a cut in customs duty on imported sugar from 140% to 4%, pushing many sugar producing companies into bankruptcy!

The growth of the economic muscle of the pasdaran is an effect as well as a cause of the disaffection of the hezbollahi base (although these are not mutually exclusive groups). Their rise has also affected the bazaar, the other pillar of the Islamic movement that was involved in defeating the workers’ and mass movements that overthrew the Shah. In 1978-79 the power and money of the bazaar, the traditional merchants, was an important source for financing the mollahs’ activities.

Although there have been concessions to the traditional and smaller bourgeoisie and the bazaar merchants – e.g., excluding workshops with ten (or less) workers from the very limited protection of the Labour Code – the neo-liberal economic policies being followed, and the growing economic might of the pasdaran, will marginalise them further.

They have seen how 30 years after the Shah the sons and relatives of the top mollahs have all become millionaires while their children are struggling to survive. The introduction of VAT in October 2008 was a step too far. The bazaar’s response, a shutdown in several cities, was quick and it made the regime scrap the new tax.

As their own support among the bazaari, hezbollahi and so on has fallen sharply, the theocratic-military regime has had to rely more on pasdaran-basiji elements. They cannot mobilise the faithful to smash the opposition (whether workers, students, women etc) like before. Ahmadinejad, a former commander, has close connections with the pasdaran and has appointed many basij leaders to various government posts. For its survival the regime has to give these elements more political power and more economic opportunities for enriching themselves. Today the old time ‘revolutionaries’ of the Khomeini era are not as useful to the regime as these thugs.

Economic mess

For most of the past four years the regime has benefited from very high oil revenues. This period even included the record $127 a barrel reached in July 2008. Yet, despite $81.764 billion export earning from oil in 2007 and $77.929 billion in 2008 (estimate), the masses, particularly the workers, are feeling the effects of economic hardship more than ever.

For many years Iranian workers have had to work two shifts or take on second and even third jobs to make ends meet. Even those who have jobs are struggling because of unpaid wages – mostly owed by the state!

The official unemployment rate is said to be 15% (with independent economists putting it much higher). Youth unemployment is over 27% in urban areas and 20% in the villages.

The official inflation rate is 26%, but workers find every day that all essentials are constantly rising in price. The official minimum wage is 1,830,000 rials (€130). Yet even Abbas Vatanpoor, the Secretary of the Co-ordination Council of Employers, the Iranian bosses’ organisation (equivalent to the Confederation of British Industry or Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales), had to admit that this is about 219% less than the minimum set during a meeting in January.

In addition, the minimum wage, no matter what its level, only applies to workers covered by the Labour Code of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Labour Code, which the regime keeps revising because it is thought to be too favourable towards workers (!), now specifies that workshops with less than 11 workers are exempt from its provisions. This meant that a majority of workers, including carpet weavers and others in small and rural workshops, many of whom are women, are totally at the mercy of their bosses.

The government, after much delay, set the poverty line for the current Iranian year at 8,500,000 rials (€606), a 10% increase on last year’s figure. Many sources, including some MPs, put more than 90% of population at below the poverty line! The list of economic woes is almost endless.

With oil representing around 84% of the regime’s export earnings, the economic outlook over the next two or three years will be even more bleak. With most of the imperialist and advanced capitalist countries in recession, and the rate of growth in industrialising countries like India, China and Brazil slowing, the demand for energy will keep falling, and with it, the general downward trend of oil and gas prices will squeeze the earnings of the regime.

What is the position of revolutionaries?

It is clear that all those who oppose this particular regime, even bourgeois oppositionists like the monarchists and various other nationalist and Islamic organisations, are not allowed to contest any ‘elections’ in the Islamic Republic. Ever since the crushing of all oppositionists in 1981 everyone has been calling for boycotts of the regime’s totally undemocratic, unfair and shackled ‘elections’.

Iranian Revolutionary Marxists’ Tendency, like all other left-wing and other groups, has consistently called for boycotts of the regime’s ‘elections’. When the constitution bars all those who question the existence of the regime, when even the regime’s own supporters are not freely allowed to publicise their programme, given equal treatment and allowed to choose their own candidates, then there is nothing here that can be called an election.

or a number of years we have called for an active boycott of ‘elections’. Four years ago our 2005 proposed resolution concluded:

“The active boycott policy, beyond the currently possible and specific steps, is the policy of presenting an alternative to the workers and all exploited and oppressed masses instead of the sham and baseless ‘election’ of the capitalist government. This policy is not posed merely on the basis of what is possible today, rather than as a step towards going beyond this regime and the capitalist state in its entirety, through raising the consciousness of a larger section of the masses. On this basis the vanguards [of each movement] should attempt:

  1. In the few places where the atmosphere for having genuine gatherings, discussions and debates among the masses exists, whether among workers in factories, students in universities, national minorities in their areas, this method and programme should be made available to them in practice as the alternative of genuine democracy.

  2. Where for security or technical reasons such steps are not possible, attempts should be made, through personal and circle contacts and distributing clandestine tracts, to prepare the basis for broader action among other circles and wider ranks of workers and exploited and oppressed masses.We hope that this step can help change the balance of class forces so that the path towards more effective activities is easier in the future.”

Most importantly, this time a similar policy was adopted by some of the most active groups of workers in Iran. In May the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Trade Union issued a statement which included the following: “Today, for workers and their families, encouragement about participation in the election is one of the most meaningless of existing debates, because during the past three decades the workers have experienced all the presidents from the time of the [Iran-Iraq] war and the [post-war] reconstruction and reform, and also the affection-cultivating president.” The workers of Iran Khodro, the vehicle manufacturer, who in May won a strike for payment of unpaid wages and permanent contracts, also said that: “We will only take part in elections that defend workers’ interests.”

These are not isolated groups of workers. They are among the most combative sections of the working class and have good connections with other labour organisations. They co-operated with most of the important ones to organise the May Day rally. Their position will therefore be widely known among other workers.

These developments within some of the most militant sections of the working class show that this was the correct policy on this year’s ‘presidential election’ as well. Once the mass movement had developed, however, the correct policy was to support the movement despite its reactionary leadership. Unfortunately a number of ‘left-wing’ sects have condemned the whole movement just because it has not adopted their proposed slogans and demands. This method can only drive the masses away from the left.

The workers’ movement

The most important internal factor over the past four years has been the development of the workers’ movement. This regime brought the glorious movement of 1978-79, which included the setting up of workers’ councils that controlled production (and in some cases even distribution), to its knees. But since the end of the Iran-Iraq war the movement has been advancing slowly.

Although during the past few years there have certainly been many setbacks and defeats, we have also seen important victories and gains. The strikes and struggles of the Vahed bus drivers, Iran Khodro, the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers, are just three examples of the continuous struggle of the working class for trade union rights, better pay and conditions. The May Day ceremony planned eight weeks ago, even though it was broken up and over 150 arrested (with a number of detainees still in Evin prison), for the first time, brought together nine labour organisations (and a women’s group). The best tactic for advancing the workers’ movement is forming a united front – regardless of political differences. The workers need to act as a truly united class against the bosses and their government. They need to counter the sectarians who want to split the movement according to political and ideological positions.

When faced with such ‘elections’ the vanguard of the workers needed to combine a boycott of this process with activities that raised the consciousness of the mass of workers. Specific demands that link the day-to-day struggles to the final aim of overthrowing this regime and the whole of the bourgeois state need to be developed and tested in action. This policy is also valid for the youth and students, women and national minorities.

Through such interventions the vanguards of each movement will not only radicalise each movement and shift the balance of forces against the bourgeoisie but will lay the foundations for linking the most militant, disciplined and conscious elements of the movements of all exploited and oppressed layers in a revolutionary working class party.

The workers’ and the mass movement

Although Iran is ripe for a revolution, meeting many of the criteria for a revolutionary situation, what we have not really seen is the workers intervening in society as a class. As individuals, or even as groups, the workers have taken part in the protests. But they have not intervened as an organised class-based bloc, with their own banners, slogans, demands, programme and so on. More importantly, they have not taken strike action, occupied factories and so on. Such measure can really add to the pressure on the regime.

Thousands of people demonstrating outside of a Mosque in Tehran, June 28, 2009. Photo by  Hamed Saber.Thousands of people demonstrating outside of a Mosque in Tehran, June 28, 2009. Photo by Hamed Saber.The working class has not even reached the stage of intervening as a class to defend its own rights against the capitalist class. Not even on May Day. So it is some way from intervening in society as the class that leads all the exploited and oppressed classes. Unless something that triggers this happens soon then these protest will unfortunately just fade away.

After several days’ delay, some e developments took place. Two shifts at the Iran Khodro vehicle manufacturing plant went on strike for half an hour and the Vahed bus drivers issued a statement defending the mass movement. But, so far, Iran Khodro’s workers have not managed to co-ordinate their action with workers in other industries, and the Vahed bus drivers have not managed to intervene on the basis of their statements.

regime’s infighting has provided the masses with a brief time to become bolder and more radical. But time is very limited. The key to the current situation in the workers’ movement, and society as a whole, is that the workers have to take some significant action – like a series of strikes – before the regime’s factions settle their differences. Once the regime has resolved its problems then it will clamp down even harder on all protesters. It might be a mter of just a week or so at most.

Revolutionary perspectives

When in 1990 a small group of Iranian revolutionary Marxists began publishing a small journal with the aim of building a Leninist party in Iran they said that the burning embers of the revolution were just under the ashes. All that was needed was to blow away the ashes. The events of the past two weeks have certainly blown away most of the ashes of the past 28 years and have fanned the flames of revolution.

The potential for a pre-revolutionary or revolutionary situation developing in Iran were never in doubt – even at the height of the repression during the Iran-Iraq war. But unless the working class intervenes in a united and organised way now, i.e., within the next few days, then the opportunity for revitalising the mass movement that has been beaten into submission will be lost. The regime may thus be able to limp on for months and possibly a few more years.

he deepening economic problems, the crumbling base and the s in the elite on the one hand, and the growing unity among workers’ organisations (and other joint activities with women, students and national minorities) and the mass disenchantment of the great majority of population on the other, mean that there will be ote- and bigge- movement in thear future. We must therefore re-double our efforts in building a revolutionary alternative to the ‘reformists’ and er urgeois and petty-bourgeois parties and their social programmes.

Our tasks are the same as those of two or three decades ago, but we n face a more favourable situation as workers like the Iran Khodro vehicle car manufacturer, who published Maziar Razi’s open letter torkers on their blog, have become very open towards revolutionary Marxism.ld have no doubts that once the workers have a united leadershimed with a revolutionary socialist programme, then they can lead all the exploited and oppressed layers to victory. June 009)

(See also: Clumsy fraud provokes mass demonstrations and forces a recount – Part One)

PRECISELY WRONG–Mass Murder From Afar

PRECISELY WRONG–Mass Murder From Afar

Gaza Civilians Killed By Israeli Drone-Launched Missiles

Human Right Watch Report

Report Cites Indiscriminate Drone Use by Israel

Report Cites Indiscriminate Drone Use by Israel

Posted By Jerrold Kessel On June 30, 2009 @ 6:00 pm In Uncategorized | 2 Comments

JERUSALEM – The concerted effort of international human rights activists to rein in violations of laws of war was given a major impetus when Human Rights Watch researchers presented a report [.pdf] Tuesday on the unbridled use by the Israeli military of unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCLAV), commonly known as drones, during Israel’s 22-day assault on Hamas in Gaza at the beginning of the year.

Titled “Precisely Wrong,” the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report focuses on six cases of Israeli drone-launched missile attacks in which 29 Palestinian civilians, eight of them children, were killed. Based on cross-referenced eyewitness accounts corroborated by doctors, as well as ballistics and forensic evidence collected on the attack sites, the report asserts that “in none of the cases did HRW find evidence that Palestinian fighters were present in the immediate area of the attack at the time.”

“These attacks violated international humanitarian law,” the report states in unequivocal terms, following a 10-day investigation.

Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst at the emergencies program of HRW, estimates that at least 87 civilians were killed in 42 drone attacks. “Israel’s targeting choices are unacceptable and unlawful,” he declared at a press conference in East Jerusalem, “especially [considering] that UCLAV provide the most precise platform in the military arsenal, and that Israel is the world leader in drone technology.”

The report includes technical information about drones and drone-launched missiles. Israeli drones have advanced sensors, combining radars, electro-optical and infrared cameras, and lasers providing real-time imaging by day and night. “Those sensors enable a drone operator to determine if a person on the ground is armed,” stressed Garlasco.

In addition to these high-resolution cameras, a missile fired from a drone has its own cameras that allow the operator to observe the target from the moment of firing. “If a last-second doubt arises about a target, the operator can divert the fired missile with a joystick,” the report notes.

Everything viewed by the drone operator is recorded. “There is no fog of war with such drones,” Garlasco said. “Yet, the Israeli army failed to distinguish between military objectives and civilians.”

According to Palestinian sources, 900 civilians were killed during the military operations, among a total of more than 1,400 killed. The HRW report says a third of the fatalities were from drone-launched missiles. Israeli sources put the civilian death toll at 300.

“HRW is not against the use of drones in warfare. Its accuracy and concentrated blast radius can indeed reduce civilian casualties,” Garlasco conceded. But “drones, much like sniper rifles, are only as good at sparing civilians as the care taken by the people who operate them.”

The Israeli army questions the credibility of the HRW investigation. “The report is based on anonymous Palestinian sources whose knowledge of military issues is doubtful, who are clearly not impartial observers, and who are part of the propaganda machine in Gaza,” it said in a statement.

“We conducted interviews separate from Hamas activists,” counters Garlasco. “If there were fighters, the interviews were stopped immediately; we just did not use them.”

Garlasco acknowledges that the testimonies collected are limited. “Mistakes can happen, but here there is a clear pattern – many civilians were killed. It seems Israeli rules of engagement were very loose – keeping Israeli casualties to a minimum, valuing the lives of soldiers more than those of Palestinian civilians.”

The report calls on Israel to conduct a “case-by-case investigation” into the use of drone-launched missiles. “Military or civilian personnel found responsible for committing or ordering unlawful drone attacks should be disciplined or prosecuted as appropriate.”

“This report has a look to the future,” says Garlasco. “It’s a cautionary tell to the U.S. continued use of UCLAV in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Human rights activists have increasingly voiced their concern over U.S. reliance on a drone-launched missile attack policy. In a stinging report submitted earlier this month to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council, UN special investigator Philip Alston charged that the U.S. has created “zones of impunity” by rarely investigating private contractors and civilian intelligence agents involved in the killing of civilians from drone attacks. Alston urged that an independent special prosecutor be charged with pursuing criminal allegations against government officials accused of wrongdoing.

“Even when you’re attacking a legitimate military objective, you cannot cause civilian casualties that exceed the value of a legitimate military attack,” says Garlasco. Still, the reliance on drone tactics – and the strategic cutting-edge drones increasingly provide – may surpass the power of human rights in international forums. Last week, Israel’s Channel Two revealed that Israel had conditioned the sale to Russia of a dozen drones, on Moscow not selling Iran advanced anti-aircraft missile technology. Iran has sought to deploy the Russian S300 air-defense missile system against a possible Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities.

Moscow became aware of a need for advanced drones during its war with Georgia last summer. Georgia operated Israeli-made spy drones, which proved highly effective. The Russians used a drone of their own without great success. Russian military officials have made no secret of their intention to use Israeli models to improve their drone development program.

Questioning The Ethical Legitimacy of Drone Attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan

Questioning The Ethical Legitimacy of Drone Attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan

By Brian McAfee

Ongoing civilian casualties must become an important consideration relative to the use and the legitimacy of drones in South Asia. In a belated official statement last month, the U.S. had admitted to twenty-six civilian deaths in a series of drone attacks that took place in May, but the associated report was not released to the media until over a month later. In the May attacks, Afghan officials put the death toll at 140, significantly higher than the U.S. claims. In the same strikes, the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission put the civilian deaths at eighty-six.

The count of civilian losses in both Afghanistan and Pakistan have been routinely lower in U.S. estimates compared to the counts by governmental spokespersons and civilian witnesses within the two countries. The delays in reporting and denials in the numbers of civilian deaths is a continuation of the same pattern in U.S. policy from last year. Last August, a U.S. bombing in western Afghanistan caused the deaths of around ninety people and most of them in that instance were children. Yet typically, the U.S. in that case initially admitted to killing only a small number of civilians while adjusting their count later. As occurred last year, this time around in May’s drone attack, large numbers of women and children were slaughtered.

All considered, the military based nature of the engagement by U.S. and coalition forces in the region should be shifted towards a humanitarian operation with foremost focuses being on infrastructure, education and health care development. As such, improvements of roads, water supplies, agricultural assets, hospitals and schools should be central. Main military operations should ensure the creation and protection of these beneficial types of projects.

This emphasis, in turn, would foster a backdrop out of which the objectives of the military attacks would be more readily obtained. In other words, the populations presently being assaulted would be more amenable to American plans were they not terrorized and murdered by U.S. forces, which often drives them into the arms of the American enemies.
Moreover, the key route out of poverty, underdevelopment and social injustice is the education of women and girls. In addition, the origins of the present day problems with the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are rooted in the U.S. sponsored mujahedeen in the 1980’s in which many of the Islamic extremists undertook the same kinds of vicious actions towards girls schools and civilian populations as the Taliban and Al Qaeda carry out today. It was as wrong then as it is now.
In any case, drone or any other assaults that routinely result in civilian casualties must be stopped or the reasons for the U.S. presence and the purpose for the ongoing war must be, and should be, questioned. The value and consideration of the civilian population in Afghanistan and Pakistan must never be forgotten or disregarded. Similarly, advantageous ventures in construction of schools, particularly ones aimed at the education of girls, would be lauded and welcomed.
Therefore, a shift in focus towards a deeper appreciation of the people in and of South Asia is in order. The recognition of our shared humanity and a sense of mutual respect could go a long way in promoting favorable conditions so that the ultimate goals of the U.S. concerning stabilizing the region and ridding it of terrorist assaults, regardless of the side from which they originate, could be achieved.
As Bainbridge Colby states, “Thus, only in a hopeful and confident temper, in a proud and constructive spirit, will we rescue the present and safeguard the future of our beloved country.” This sort of understanding must form the foundation of any U.S. engagements abroad.
Brian McAfee can be reached at brimac6@hotmail.com.

Pakistan’s Assault on Taliban Chief May Not Satisfy U.S. Goals

Pakistan’s Assault on Taliban Chief May Not Satisfy U.S. Goals

By James Rupert

July 2 (Bloomberg) — Pakistan’s assault on the country’s biggest Taliban stronghold may end in disappointment for the Obama administration, which has pushed the army to escalate the fight and restore a measure of government control in the region.

U.S. officials “worry Pakistan may be biting off too much” by attacking Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud in the mountains of South Waziristan before defeating militants in the less-remote Swat Valley, said Daniel Markey, South Asia specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

Pakistan’s ability to fight on a second front before gains in Swat are consolidated is a cause for concern, said a State Department official dealing with South Asia, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The U.S. wants to see Pakistan restore sufficient control in Waziristan to counter Islamic extremism, the official said.

That goal is unlikely to be met, according to analysts. If Mehsud can be captured or killed, he would likely be replaced by Taliban leaders even more eager to fight U.S. forces in neighboring Afghanistan, Markey said in a telephone interview.

President Barack Obama says the Taliban’s influence in a nuclear-armed state, and their hosting of al-Qaeda forces in Pakistan’s northwest, form the greatest security threat to Americans. “Waziristan is at the center of the fight” to reverse that influence, said Talat Masood, a political consultant and retired army lieutenant general in Islamabad.

Sheltering Al-Qaeda

Waziristan’s rugged terrain and the historical resistance to outside rule by its Pashtun tribes keep it the most autonomous stretch of Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. The army moved into Swat in April after the Taliban advanced to within 100 kilometers (62 miles) of Islamabad.

Mehsud and other commanders in Waziristan are sheltering the largest groups of al-Qaeda guerrillas in Pakistan, said Mahmood Shah, a former security chief of Pakistan’s semi- autonomous tribal area, which includes Waziristan.

While offensives in Swat and the border district of Bajaur have pushed back the Taliban, Pakistan has not restored the security and public services that might entice uprooted residents to return.

“The government has not created the conditions to consolidate” its military gains, Masood said. Television pictures show thousands among about 2 million people who have fled Swat camped without adequate shelter or water. Left unresolved, their plight may erode support for the anti-Taliban fight, he said.

Budget Constraints

The military offensives have so deepened Pakistan’s budget deficit that the government may seek a $4 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund, following its $7.6 billion bailout in November.

The army failed to defeat militants in South Waziristan with offensives in 2004 and 2007. “Now, the army has better political conditions” for fighting the Taliban, said Syed Adnan Ali Shah Bukhari, a Pakistani researcher at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

After months of bombings, “both public opinion and the military are much more determined to fight the Taliban” than in past years, Bukhari said. Mehsud claimed responsibility in March for attacks that killed police and bystanders in three cities, and rivals from his Mehsud tribe held a tribal conference or “jirga” this month to oppose him for killing bystanders.

The army is trying to isolate Mehsud from other Taliban commanders in Waziristan, said Shah. “But the Americans’ drone attacks are muddying the waters; they risk inciting Mehsud’s rivals to unite with him.”

Predator Attacks

The U.S. has increased strikes by its missile-firing Predator drones in western Pakistan, conducting 24 attacks in the first half of this year, compared with 36 in 2008, according to Bahukutumbi Raman, an intelligence analyst at India’s Institute for Topical Studies. Pakistan has asked the U.S to stop the attacks and provide its military with drones instead.

One strike on June 23 came close to hitting Mehsud and killed at least one aide, the newspaper Dawn and other Pakistani media said. A Taliban leader in North Waziristan, Gul Bahadur, broke off a truce June 29, complaining of the air strikes, and now may ally with Mehsud, Shah said.

The army aims to defeat Mehsud first and then other Taliban leaders sheltering al-Qaeda, Shah said. “Most of al-Qaeda now are in” Bahadur’s territory, he said.

Bahadur and another top commander, Maulavi Nazir, are from the Wazir tribe, a rival of the Mehsuds, and they have avoided hostilities with Pakistan’s government by targeting U.S. forces in Afghanistan, said Sailab Mehsud, publisher of a newsletter on Pashtun affairs.

Tribal Jirgas

The military wants jirgas to select non-Taliban leaders who will cooperate with the government, said Shah. Marvin Weinbaum, a former State Department official and South Asia specialist at Washington’s Middle East Institute, doubts a non-Taliban leadership can be built soon as scores of pro-government tribal chiefs were killed in almost a decade of Taliban attacks.

Even as the army targets Mehsud, there are no signs that it is ready to take on other guerrilla chiefs — including Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani — whose fighters battle in Afghanistan. The U.S. and Pakistan “seem to be marching together for the moment, but there are signs that our paths may diverge in the future,” Markey said.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rupert in New Delhi at jrupert3@bloomberg.net

An Alphabet Soup Of Terror

An Alphabet Soup Of Terror

Bahukutumbi Raman, 05.29.09, 09:30 AM EDT

Why did the Taliban attack the ISI?

An emailed question from an editor at this publication asked me: “Why has the Taliban just attacked the ISI? Isn’t that like biting the hand that feeds?”

This question was in response to the commando-style attack at Lahore, Pakistan, on May 27, 2009, which targeted the Lahore Police and the local office of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), killing 15 police officers, a colonel of the ISI and 10 other people.

While analyzing the Lahore attack, one has to keep in mind certain ground realities: The first is that there are Talibans and Talibans, and within each Taliban there are mini-Talibans. There are virtually as many Talibans in the Pashtun belt as there are tribal sirdars (leaders).

The second ground reality is the clear distinction in behavior and operations between the “Neo Taliban” of Afghanistan, headed by Mullah Mohammad Omar, based in Quetta, Pakistan, and the various Pakistani Talibans led by tribal sirdars such as Baitullah Mehsud of South Waziristan; Hakeemullah Mehsud, who is responsible for operations in the Khyber, Kurrum and Orakzai areas; Maulana Fazlullah of the Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi (TNSM), who is a native of Swat; and Sufi Mohammad, his father-in-law, who is actually from Dir and not Swat. Of these various Talibans, only the Neo Taliban of Mullah Mohammad Omar, which was created by the ISI in 1994 when Benazir Bhutto was prime minister, still owes its loyalty to the ISI and the Pakistan government.

The Neo Taliban is active against the U.S.-led NATO forces in Afghan territory from sanctuaries in Pakistan, but it has never been involved in an act of terrorism in Pakistani territory against Pakistani targets, whether from the army, the ISI or the police. All the attacks on Pakistani territory and on Pakistani government targets were carried out by different Pakistani Taliban groups or by the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM)–which has transferred its headquarters from Bahawalpur to Swat–and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LEJ), an anti-Shia terrorist organization.

The third ground reality is the distinction between the Pakistani Punjabi Taliban and the Pakistani Pashtun Taliban. Though they advocate the same Wahabized Islamic ideology based on the Sharia, their ethnic compositions differ. The term Punjabi Taliban is used to refer to the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI), the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM) and the LEJ (above). Punjabis constitute the majority of their cadres. All of them except the JEM are of the 1980s and 1990s vintage. The JEM was born in 2000 through a split in the HUM.

Of these organizations, the LET, like the Neo Taliban, is the favored tool of the ISI, which uses the Neo Taliban in Afghanistan and the LET against India. Like the Neo Taliban, the LET, too, has never attacked a Pakistani target in Pakistani territory. In fact, there has never been a confirmed instance of an attack by the LET on foreign targets in Pakistani territory, lest it create problems from the ISI. The JEM and the LEJ, however, never hesitate to attack Pakistani government targets, either on their own or at the instance of al-Qaida. The attitude of the HUM and the HUJI is ambivalent.

The fourth ground reality is that, while the Pakistani Punjabi Taliban and the Neo Taliban have been in existence for over a decade, the Pakistani Pashtun Talibans are products of the commando raid into the Lal Masjid (Red Mosque) in Islamabad in July 2007, in which a large number of Pashtun tribal children, many of them girls, were killed. It was after this that tribal sirdars, including Fazlullah, Baitullah and Hakeemullah, called for a jihad against the Pakistan army and the ISI in retaliation for the raid. While the TNSM has been in existence since the early 1990s, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was born after the Lal Masjid raid.

The various tribal sirdars, who are supporting the TTP, repeatedly make the following points: First, they did not want to fight against the Pakistan army; it was the army which forced them to take up arms against it by raiding the Lal Masjid and killing their children. Second, their real enemy is the U.S.-led NATO force in Afghanistan, not the Pakistan army. They are fighting against the Pakistan army because it prevents them from assisting the Neo Taliban against the U.S.-led NATO forces. Third, they will stop fighting against the Pakistan army if it makes amends for the alleged massacre of tribal children in the Lal Masjid, removes restrictions on entering Afghanistan to fight against NATO troops and stops assisting those troops in their war against the Neo Taliban.

The Pakistan army is facing difficulties in its operations against the various Pakistani Pashtun Taliban groups, because the latter have many Pashtun ex-servicemen from the Pakistani army assisting them–retired officers as well as other ranks. The attack by the Pakistani Taliban against the ISI at Lahore was not its first attack against the ISI. It had attacked the ISI twice before, in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, inflicting even greater casualties than it was able to do in Lahore–which, for sure, will not be the last of these attacks.

Bahukutumbi Raman is a retired officer of the Indian intelligence service. He is director of the Institute For Topical Studies in Chennai, India.

Marines Launch Assault In Taliban Stronghold

“We will ride him (Taliban) until he’s either dead or surrenders.”–Welcome to McChrystal’s world!

Marines clean their weapons.

David Gilkey/NPR

Marines with the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, which is part of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, clean their weapons Monday, while they prepare for operations in Helmand province, in southern Afghanistan.

Marines Launch Assault In Taliban Stronghold

by Tom Bowman

NPR.org, July 1, 2009 · Thousands of helicopter-borne Marines launched a massive assault early Thursday morning in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand River valley, a Taliban stronghold and the main source of its cash crop, the poppies that produce heroin.

http://www.npr.org/news/graphics/2009/jun/afghanmap/index.html

Officers say it’s the biggest Marine combat operation since the battle of Fallujah in Iraq five years ago. Hundreds of British and Afghan troops also are taking part in the operation.

Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson told his Marines several weeks ago that they would “ride” the Taliban forces.

“There is no pullback. We will stay on him and we will ride him until he’s either dead or surrenders,” Nicholson said to the troops in the address at their base, Camp Leatherneck.

Nicholson also told his Marines to be careful not to create civilian casualties, which have grown dramatically in Afghanistan during the past year, partly owing to increased use of American airstrikes. The general told his Marines that rather than “dropping a house” with a bomb, they should surround it and wait out the Taliban.

Similar operations in Helmand and neighboring Kandahar province have been under way during the past few days as part of a concerted effort by coalition forces to combat the ongoing insurgency, including Operation Panchai Palang (Panther Claw) initiated last week by Task Force Helmand, the British-led force that operates adjacent to the Marine brigade.

“The operation … is going to be very effective,” said Helmand Gov. Gulab Mangal. “The security forces will build bases to provide security for the local people so that they can carry out every activity with this favorable background, and take their lives forward in peace.”

The combined U.S. and Afghan mission is to provide security for population centers along the Helmand River valley. Eventually the Marines will set up combat outposts throughout the valley, then move on helping rebuild the country and its security forces.

“What makes Operation Khanjar different from those that have occurred before is the massive size of the force introduced, the speed at which it will insert, and the fact that where we go we will stay, and where we stay, we will hold, build and work toward transition of all security responsibilities to Afghan forces,” Nicholson said in a release.

About 4,000 troops of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade swept in during the pre-dawn hours to capture strategic points along the valley in an offensive dubbed Operation Khanjar (Strike of the Sword).

The mission, designed to counter the growing Taliban insurgency, is the first major test of the Obama administration, which dispatched more U.S. forces to Afghanistan this summer in its effort to turn the tide there.

Eventually the Marines will set up combat outposts and remain to hold the territory. The strategy is a departure from the past, when U.S. forces did not have enough troops to hold ground.

Jewish settlers burn Palestinian crops

Jewish settlers burn Palestinian crops

Palestinian Information Center

30_fire1_300_0.jpg

June 30, 2009

NABLUS, (PIC)– Jewish settlers attacked Palestinian homes in Assira Qabalia village, south of Nablus city, and set fire to their crops on Monday night, local sources reported.

They said that dozens of settlers from the nearby Yitzhar settlement, established on lands of the village along with other nearby villages, threw firebombs and stones at the houses under the protection of Israeli occupation forces who fired bullets and gas canisters to disperse the citizens who tried to repel the settlers’ attack.

A number of citizens were treated for suffocation and injuries from flying glass, the sources said.

They said that the settlers started fires in the village’s barley and wheat fields and the IOF soldiers blocked firefighters from reaching the cultivated lands to put off the fire.

In the Gaza Strip, the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, on Monday evening confronted an IOF unit that tried to infiltrate into Zaitun suburb east of Gaza city.

The armed wing said in a communiqué that the Qassam fighters fired two mortar shells at the invading soldiers.

Setting Waziristan Ablaze

Setting Waziristan Ablaze

We at PakNationalists.com strongly support the military operation against the terrorists in northwest Pakistan who are disguised as ‘Pakistani Taliban’ and are killing Pakistanis while claiming to fight American occupation of Afghanistan. The author, Mr. Roedad Khan, a former senior bureaucrat in the Pakistani government, makes a valid point here. The high standard of proficiency that the Pakistani military has shown in Swat is not matched by the elected government in Islamabad which failed miserably in handling the influx of refugees. Considering this yardstick, a military action in Waziristan to flush out foreign agent Baitullah Mehsud and his Indian/American/Afghan supported army is necessary but we might end up with a similar or probably even a worse situation. This article raises a central point: The original problem is not the sanctuaries inside Pakistan. It’s the American failure to bring peace among all warring factions inside Afghanistan. [Ahmed Quraishi]

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By Roedad Khan

Saturday, June 27, 2009
The News International.

WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Why doesn’t our military leadership learn from history? They are certainly making history on our western border by waging war against their own countrymen.

The nation is beginning to see the rapidly unfurling consequences of Gen Musharraf’s fateful decision to join the “coalition of the coerced.” Dragged into a proxy war at gunpoint, America’s dreaded war on terror has indisputably arrived on Pakistan’s soil. Pakistan is slipping into a Dantean hell. The belle époque days for us Pakistanis are over. Pakistanis cannot continue deluding themselves by the romantic notion that they could go on living happily and peacefully under the American umbrella. Pakistan stands on the brink of civil war. A perfect storm is looming on the horizon. Fasten your seatbelts. It will be quite a ride.

The irony is that far from being an autonomous power waging its own parallel war, Pakistan has been reduced to no more than a lackey. Jinnah’s Pakistan, I regret to say, has ceased to be a sovereign, independent state. Today it is not just a “rentier state,” not just a client state. It is a slave state with a puppet government set up by Washington.

Euripides said: “Whom the Gods destroy, they first make mad.” At a time when Pakistan is extremely ill-prepared for adventurism on any serious scale, with the war in Malakand still not conclusively won and over three million internally displaced persons–men, women and children–living under inhuman conditions in Mardan and Swabi, this government decided to open a second front against its own people in Waziristan. The match is lit, the blaze will soon spread like wildfire throughout the tribal areas and beyond. That is for sure. The decision to launch a military operation in this highly sensitive border region is ill-conceived, ill-advised, ill-timed, and would almost certainly turn into a prolonged bloody conflict and, in time, prove a massive self-inflicted wound.

Today the killing or capturing alive of Baitullah Mehsud has become a top priority for the Pakistani government. Anybody who knows anything about Waziristan will tell you that looking for Baitullah or Osama bin Laden in the rugged mountains is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Baitullah, the central focus of the current American and Pakistani military operation in Waziristan, is not the first warrior to confront the administration in the mountains of Waziristan. The Faqir of Ipi led a similar revolt against the British in Waziristan in 1936. It set Waziristan on fire, and this lasted until after 1947. The British failed to capture Ipi and the operation had to be called off.

In the early years after Waziristan’s annexation, the British maintained only a skeleton administration in the agencies. All this changed in 1919 when they decided to build regular garrisons in Waziristan. Consequently, troop movements became routine, which caused resentment among the tribes. Then came the fateful decision to send troops into the Khaisora valley in November 1936, which transformed Ipi’s agitation into a full-scale uprising almost overnight.

The judgment displayed by the British and the poor intelligence upon which they based their decisions were chiefly to blame for the disasters that followed. This was the last major rebellion in Waziristan which stemmed from an abrupt change of policy. The tribesmen’s unrivalled fighting record, their ability to intervene in Afghan affairs and to involve Afghans in their own affairs, were factors ignored by the British that made Waziristan different from other Frontier areas. This disastrous attempt to “pacify” Waziristan was the last of several major incursions into tribal territory during the hundred years of Britain’s presence in north-west India.

When the British left, Pakistan had reason to be glad that it had inherited a secure North-West Frontier. In September 1947 Mr. Jinnah took a bold decision to reverse the “pacification” policy, withdrew regular troops from Waziristan and entered into new agreements with the tribes. Cunningham, the new governor of the NWFP appointed by Mr Jinnah was a Frontier expert. His disillusion with the “pacification” policy was complete. “I think that we must now face a complete change of policy. Razmak has been occupied by regular troops for nearly 25 years. Wana for a few years less. The occupation of Waziristan has been a failure. It has not achieved peace or any appreciable economic development. It ties up an unreasonably large number of troops, and for the last 10 years there have been frequent major and minor offences against the troops.” The change in policy produced dramatic results and paid rich dividends.

All this has now changed. Mr Jinnah’s Waziristan policy, which had stood the test of time, has been reversed under American pressure. Our troops are back in Waziristan in aid of American troops looking for Baitullah Mehsud and bin Laden! The result is a totally unnecessary and avoidable state of armed confrontation between the Army and the tribesmen. Those who know the Frontier are deeply concerned. Our civil and military leadership is playing with fire. By reversing Mr. Jinnah’s Waziristan policy, at the behest of the Americans, they have alienated powerful tribes in Waziristan and unsettled our western border which had remained peaceful since the birth of Pakistan. Pakistan would be well advised to profit from the mistakes of its forerunners in Waziristan and to avoid any shift of policy which cares only for immediate advantage and takes no account of the ultimate effects.

It all started when Gen Musharraf succumbed to a telephone “ultimatum” from Washington and promised “unstinted” cooperation to the Americans in the so-called war on terror. The Afghans never stabbed us in the back when we were in trouble and at war with India. No Afghan government was as friendly to Pakistan as the Taliban government. By allowing Americans to use our territory as a platform for bombing Afghanistan, we antagonized the Afghans, especially the majority Pakhtun tribes who live in the Pakhtun belt along our border. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, a military government laid the foundation of permanent enmity with the Pakhtuns across the border. A civilian government has now compounded the problem by taking on our own tribesmen in Waziristan.

Said Voltaire: “I fear that in this world one must be either hammer or anvil, for it is indeed a lucky man who escapes the alternatives.” Waziristan has been on the anvil for centuries. The Mehsud and Wazir tribes living there are no strangers to foreign military interventions in their country. On each occasion the tribes and the mountains won a strategic victory, the troops were forced to withdraw back into the plains of the Indus Valley. The British soon learned that you can annex land but not people.

As they say, “it is a wide road that leads to war and only a narrow path that leads home again.” In the early 1900s, a crusty British general, Andrew Skeen, wrote a guide to military operations in the Pakhtun tribal belt. His first piece of advice: “When planning a military expedition into Pashtun Tribal areas, the first thing you must plan is your retreat. All expeditions into this area sooner or later end in retreat under fire.” Let us hope the current expedition ends differently.

Decision-making in today’s Pakistan is bizarre. Many questions swirl. Were other options available, only to be peremptorily rejected? Who decided to plunge Pakistan into a guerrilla war raising the spectre of a war on two fronts dreaded by military strategists and the general public alike? Who took the final decision to open a second front in Waziristan? The president? The prime minister? The cabinet? The Parliament? The Army? Who decides questions of war and peace in this country? In public perception, everything points to one inescapable conclusion: that the decision to open a second front in Waziristan was not an internal decision. It was taken in response to irresistible pressure from the United States.

Today we are experiencing a failure of leadership that bodes ill for the country. Nobody knows who is in command. The result is the mess that we are in today. How will it turn out to be tomorrow? “The morrow, as always, is with the Fates.” One is reminded of Stalin’s angry expletive which he uttered when the German army was only a few miles from Moscow and the very survival of the Soviet Union hung in the balance. “The great Lenin left us a great country,” Stalin told Mikoyan, “and we, his successors, have … up.” This is precisely what we have done to the great country left behind by Jinnah.

The writer is a former federal secretary. Email: roedad@comsats.net.pk , www.roedadkhan.com

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. AhmedQuraishi.com & PakNationalists

Israel, India Fomenting Trouble In Pakistan’s Tribal Region

Israel, India Fomenting Trouble In Pakistan’s Tribal Region

There are credible reports that Indian and Israeli intelligence involvement in U.S.-controlled Afghanistan has deepened in the past seven years. American military and intelligence officials are impressed with the record of both countries in fighting Islamic groups in Kashmir and the Mideast. Israel invested heavily in establishing schools that study the art of Islamic indoctrination. These schools were used to learn how clerics can brainwash recruits and then exploit them politically. Israeli spymasters have used this knowledge to penetrate Islamic groups and plant agents. They have passed this technique on to the Indians to help them counter pro-Pakistan religious groups in Kashmir. In the Kargil war in 1999, Pakistanis and Kashmiris faced a direct Israeli special operations intervention on the side of the Indian military.

By JANG

Wednesday, 1 July 2009.

WWW.AHMEDQURAISHI.COM

Pakistan’s mass-circulation Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Jang quotes senior Pakistani military officials as saying that Israel and India are fomenting trouble in Pakistan’s Baluchistan and Waziristan region.

According to the report, senior military and national security officials have submitted to the Pakistani government “irrefutable evidence” of the involvement of Indian and Israeli secret agencies in Baluchistan and the tribal region of Waziristan and Malakand.

The Urdu daily did not disclose the names of the Pakistani officials, but added that there is irrefutable evidence that Indian and Israeli agencies are providing financial aid and modern weapons to the militants in the tribal region.

According to Roznama Jang, the military leadership has urged the civilian government to take up the issue at diplomatic levels with the nations whose secret agencies are supporting Taliban commanders Baitullah Mehsud and Maulana Fazlullah.

The agents of India’s external intelligence agency Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) are operating from the Indian consulates in many Afghan cities and militants in Pakistan are being supplied with weapons from there, the report added.

According to a similar report carried by the Urdu-language newspaper Roznama Express, “The majority of the staff in the Indian consulates in Afghan cities including Kandahar and Herat belongs to RAW. They are not only supplying weapons to extremists from there but the RAW agents are also visiting training centers of terrorism.”

Evidences of Taliban commanders Maulana Fazlullah and Baitullah Mehsud’s meetings with RAW agents have also be ascertained, the report said, adding: “It is being stressed that either India should close these consulates or it should be stopped for using them against Pakistan.”

“The security officials have also confirmed that the weapons seized [from militants recently] were Russian, Indian and U.S.-made, while Israel provided them modern technology. Evidences have also been secured regarding the use of such technology in the installation of FM Radio by Maulana Fazlullah,” it concluded.

Translated by MEMRI, first published on June 24, 2009 in Urdu language by Jang, Pakistan’s largest circulating newspaper.

© 2007-2009. All rights reserved. AhmedQuraishi.com & PakNationalists

Waging War Upon Our Friends

Waging War Upon Our Friends

By:  Peter Chamberlin

The trusted watch-keepers of the world have turned their hearts to midnight plunder, while they carried-out their duty standing guard over mankind, who blissfully, unaware, continued to sleep.  Morning rapidly approaches and the householders are sure to demand an accounting.

The exploding world economy and the expanding war are but symptoms of the great mental sickness that afflicts society, waves of warning of the tsunamis that lie directly ahead.  The dominant ideas and ideology that drive our world are all collapsing around us, falling from the weight of their own corruption and immoral baggage.

In the ongoing warfare of ideas, the selfish immorality of the old order is proving to be its downfall, as it meets the impenetrable resistance of the higher ideals of selflessness and human compassion.  When the heart of the people is exposed to the emotionally crippling images of the children of war, then and thereafter, their only concern becomes the ending of the scourge of war.

FarahAfghanistanbala_baluk_wounded2

Human nature is naturally compassionate, no matter how much the person has changed from the innocence of their youth.  Even evil men must feel the heart’s emotional tugging at their consciences, no matter how deeply they have buried it, at the sight of such a suffering little one.  Knowing that you and your government did this to these children and thousands more just like them, just like your own children that you so dearly love.  We are the authors of what you see.

For God so loved the world that he sent us all sons and daughters, to melt our cold hearts and to expose our buried consciences.  Human suffering is probably the most powerful motivation for good on this earth.  It moves men to take-up arms to avenge it.  It motivates others to offer their own lives that others might suffer less.

Humankind has the means to save itself from itself, just as surely as it has the means to cause its own extinction, all that separates the two is the gulf of choice and human freewill.  Those of us who believe in a higher power, The One who created all things both great and small, know for certain that mankind will one day rise to the challenge before him.  We know that the promise of eventual world peace is a solid truth, just waiting for enough people to understand and choose to reach out with us.  Peace is truly just a handshake away, all that is lacking is the will to effect change and the desire to leave this world a better place.

The only question is how long before we as a people begin to care about our fellow man?  This is the one factor that determines how much the suffering will intensify before we arrive at our predetermined solution.  Efforts spent shoring-up the old collapsing political/economic structure only add to the suffering by adding to the length of the suffering and wasting limited resources in futile attempts to repair the rotten, immoral order that compelled mankind’s sprint to self-destruction.

Military adventures, intended to deflect the coming collapse merely increase our national guilt for having failed in our voluntary task of standing watch at the ramparts of freedom, guarding the rights of God’s creation with one arm, while we killed and indiscriminately erased both people and human rights with the other strong arm.  Our military became our means of plundering our brothers’ resources and rights, because we were trusted it to defend our friends against foreign aggressors.

We reach-out our hand to both friend and foe, expecting commerce, while preparing to wage covert war upon them.  We buy our friends in the world, the rest we simply intimidate or secretly undermine.  From behind the shield of nearly omnipotent military power we have bribed and browbeat the world into submission to our ideas, our ideology, our economic schemes.  Our cutthroat system of buying, selling and extorting our friends based solely on profit instead of need, therefore it is designed to weed-out everyone (regardless of their needs) who don’t have the cash to meet they need.  The “haves and have-nots” exclusionary economic system is about to be crushed under the impending weight of the hungry misery it spreads far and wide.

The immorality of the current system will bring forth a new moral economic system from the violence of the old one dying.  Each war or epidemic of violence that wracks the nations is a cry for help, as a segment of society explodes as a result of the local contradictions.

The war on Pakistan is a case in point.  Here we have compelled our most faithful ally to engage in full-scale civil war as the means to salvage our failing economic order, by way of seizing the Caspian oil and gas reserves.  We have forced Pakistan onto a path towards its own destruction as a feeble-minded calculated gamble to avert our own deserved dissolution. It seems only logical that a nation which feeds its own insatiable appetite for more of everything by depriving the poorest of the poor nations of the little that they have to call their own, would seek to avert its own profit loss by spreading death and suffering amongst the very people who have time and again proven to be among its best friends.

History has proven that some of America’s most trusted friends and allies have been the recipients of her most insidious and deadly intrigues.  Pakistani leaders are delusional if they think that their friendship with the United States is stronger than that of Italy, or Germany.

The CIA turned Pakistan into the “epicenter of terrorism” for a reason.   That reason went way beyond the mission against the Soviets, or else the training camps would have been shut-down and some attempt would have been made to clean-up the mess they had made when the Russians left Afghanistan.  The CIA kept the camps and the madrassas running, turning-out thousands of good jihadis.  By  relying on the factor of “deniability,” they put the training camps in Pakistani hands.   This should have been understood by Pakistan’s leaders for what it was, a euphemistic way to express the reality that the Army and the ISI were always intended to be America’s scapegoat.  That time has come.

America has turned the tables on Pakistan.  Just as Pakistan has used their proxy army, the local Taliban to stage running battles (some were for real), in order to fool the United States about Pakistani intentions in the war on terror, the new administration is using their own creation, the “Pakistani Taliban” (TTP), to call the Army’s bluff about its latest war in its tribal region.  The generals can no longer get away with merely chasing the local Taliban from one agency into another, or anything less than waging total war in all of FATA and the NWFP.  Pakistan’s “double-game” is over, while America’s double-games have barely begun.

Gen. Kayani has been trying to follow in Musharref’s footsteps, running a limited pretend all-out war production, even following the same order of the previous war on Waziristan, tribal jirgas, lashkars, economic siege, etc.  The General’s neatly dressed, never dirty, determined-looking soldiers faithfully posed for countless publicity shots, putting on a great show for the international circus media.  Army spokesmen claim to have killed 1,500 terrorists in Malakand and elsewhere, always taking place beyond the range of the camera’s lens.  There are no “embedded reporters” in Pakistan.  The only news coming out of the region is approved after passing through several layers of filtering by the controlling governments there, especially by the one all-controlling super government.  If Pakistan is really out to get Mehsud, as Kayani boasted, then it is because that is what Obama wants Pakistan to do.

The Predator strikes are the Pakistani strategy, intended to ease their citizenry into a renewed fight in S. Waziristan.  (SEE: Paramilitary Pretense, Who Controls the Predators?)  The last two attempts to carry the operation into the militant home base were met by fierce resistance on the ground, as well as in Pakistan’s streets.  The people became so enraged that this path of slowly boiling Pakistan’s “frogs” became the only feasible alternative.  This theory means that Mehsud is either an asset of the ISI or their CIA bosses. and the regular terror attacks upon Shiites and their shrines, even attacks on outposts of the Frontier Corp are likely the work of the ISI, just as the militants have been claiming in various interviews.  As unlikely as this all seems, no other theory explains the curious behavior of Pakistan’s government and military and mountains of circumstantial evidence linking the ISI to the militanct.

So while Pakistan’s dysfunction is entirely Pakistan’s fault, American naivete cannot get a pass because Pakistan is a basket case. In the Age of Obama, America has to do better. Anyone that was really interested in debilitating the Punjabi-dominated, Hindu-hating, right-leaning, military-dominated Pakistani establishment would have to be recklessly foolish if it went and helped rebrand the Pakistan army in the wake of eight years of Musharraf and a devastating and humiliating defeat at the hands of the country’s lawyers. Yet that’s exactly what President Zardari has done since the May 8 offensive was launched into Swat. The Swat offensive has helped rehabilitate the image of the military.”

If Pakistan was really pursuing a policy of “divide and rule” in its negotiations with Mullah Nazir, seeking to separate the powerful warlord from Baitullah Mehsud before launching a new war in S. Waziristan against him, then the Army would not have allowed the continuing Predator attacks on Nazir to take place, or go unanswered.  None of this happened.  If they were serious about overtures made to the Wana warlord then they most certainly would not have shelled his offices.

Obama is driving the former enemies together.  This is Langley’s intention.  Mullah Nazir has not been the sole target of drone attacks for the past year to thwart Pakistan’s peace initiatives with the militants (since Washington controls everything Islamabad does), the reason is much more sinister than that.

If the United States government was truly at odds with the Army over American attacks upon Pakistani citizens, carried-out in order to sabotage Pakistan’s war plans, then there would be swift reprisals, because such an affront to Pakistan’s sovereignty would be far worse than  merely “counter-productive.”  Everything is going according to the Imperial game plan–American drones attack all pro-Pakistani militant leaders, ignoring everyone who is killing Pakistanis.  The targeted leaders coalesce into a powerful, motivated union.

The generous benefactors of Maulana Fazlullah and his TNSM forces were sponsors of state terrorism, directed mostly at girls’ schools and CD shops in the North West Region.  Their murderous rampage and deceptive Shariah pacts forced Army intervention.  Predator attacks upon Mullah Nazir intensify, until he begins to fight back, forcing the Army to scrap plans to divide the Taliban as a means to avoid a massive tribal war, focusing only on Mehsud.  Meanwhile, some unknown outfit bombs Shia mosques and shopping areas (Nazir blames the attacks upon the Army), stoking the war in Kurram.  Bahadur honors his pact with Nazir and Mehsud;  he fights back, forcing the Army to broaden their planned offensive to include N. Waziristan against their better judgement.

Never once, do the generals complain, or offer resistance to American violations of sovereignty. Instead, they follow the orders of their American masters, while the President of Pakistan continues to represent the President of the United States, instead of his own people, who are being killed by the dozens and the hundreds by the good old USA!

Hard as they may try to set their own course, Pakistan’s generals have surrendered their souls to the devil when they plotted with American generals to deceive their countrymen into passively, even enthusiastically accepting the new war.  The war in Waziristan (both North and South) will be fought on Obama’s terms.

According to Army spokesman, Maj-Gen Athar Abbas:

“It was thus obvious that the confrontation between the militants and the military in North Waziristan would escalate because the US is unlikely to give up its policy of using drones to target militants positions.”

In other words, for the first time, one of the silent generals dared to explain the Army’s position. ISI concerns about “shaping the battlefield” and confining the war in Wana to Mehsud didn’t amount to a hill of beans to Petraeus and Mullen, Obama insists that Pakistan go against the generals’ better judgment and incite a “tribal uprising.”

The attacks in N. Waziristan by Gul Bahadur and the artillery strikes upon Nazir’s headquarters, both a bi-product of the Predator prevarications, as well as the recent assassination of Pakistan’s other “ace in the hole, Qari Zainuddin, have destroyed Pakistan’s last chance to restore the writ of the state without resorting to all-out civil war.  Either Gen. Kayani submits entirely to Obama’s will, including the planned submission to Indian domination afterwards, or he stands-up to the United States, meaning he stops the drone attacks and reveals the entire ugly scenario that the CIA cannot allow anyone to reveal.  “Al Qaida” is fake.  The war on terror is a fraud.  The fraud is a plan for world war.  And we all know that neither Gen. Kayani, nor any other Pakistani official will ever reveal the “great game” or the plot to destroy the Islamic Republic.

The United States corporacracy is a monstrous devouring beast and “Islamist terror” is her illegitimate offspring.

peterchamberlin@naharnet.com