(Reuters) – China will soon start receiving oil and gas through two controversial pipelines which run through military-ruled Myanmar.
Here are some facts about the pipelines:
WHAT THE PIPELINES WILL CARRY
One pipeline will carry oil from the Middle East and Africa, which will be offloaded from tankers at a Myanmar port and then piped into China, so avoiding the narrow Malacca Strait.
It will take 12 million metric tons of crude oil a year into China, roughly 6 percent of China’s total imports last year, or about as much as the country imported from Sudan, its fifth largest supplier. There is no exact date for its opening yet.
The other pipeline will have capacity to bring 12 billion cubic meters of Myanmar gas every year into China, and is expected to come online within the next two years.
WHERE THE PIPELINES WILL BE LAID THROUGH
Both pipelines will start from the Myanmar port of Kyauk Phyu in the western state of Rakhine (also known as Arakan), then head in a northeasterly direction toward the city of Mandalay before arriving in the Chinese border town of Ruili in southwestern Yunnan province.
From there the pipelines go to Yunnan provincial capital Kunming and eventually on to the cities of Chongqing and Nanning.
WHICH COMPANIES ARE INVOLVED
CNPC, China’s top oil and gas producer, is the main Chinese firm involved in the project. The firm does much of its business via listed PetroChina (601857.SS)(0857.HK)(PTR.N), while keeping politically-sensitive overseas operations in its own hand.
PetroChina is at an early stage of planning a 200,000 barrels-per-day refinery in Kunming to process oil from the Myanmar pipeline.
THE COST OF THE PROJECTS AND PROJECTED REVENUES
The Shwe Gas Movement, which is campaigning against the pipelines, estimates the total cost of the oil and gas pipes at $3.5 billion. The development of the offshore fields for the gas component will cost more than $3 billion.
But sales of the gas alone will generate more than $29 billion for the Myanmar government over the next three decades, they say, an important source of income for the sanctions-hit government.
WHY THE PIPELINES ARE CONTROVERSIAL
Rights groups say the people of Myanmar will see little of the money from the pipelines, with profits likely filtered away by the military government for their own purposes, like buying arms.
Myanmar, one of the poorest countries in the world, suffers from serious energy shortages of its own.
Rights groups also point to land confiscations to make way for the pipelines, and worry that the Myanmar military will resort to forced labor to construct the pipelines, as it has done in the past for similar projects.
Sources: Chinese state media, Shwe Gas Movement (www.shwe.org), Human Rights Watch.
Scores of demonstrators gather outside Chilcot inquiry as organisers expect numbers to build throughout the day
Hundreds of anti-war campaigners are protesting outside the Chilcot inquiry today as Tony Blair gives evidence on the invasion of Iraq.
Demonstrators shouting slogans including, “Jail Tony”, and “Blair lied – thousands died”, gathered outside the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster from around 8am, with numbers expected to build through the day.
Talks between campaigners from the Stop the War Coalition and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), who are organising the event, and the Metropolitan police, broke down earlier this week because of a dispute over where the demonstration would take place.
Activists had hoped to gather in front of the centre, where previous demonstrations have occurred. They were supported by the police, which said such a protest would be “manageable”.
However, the area is private land and centre officials, who manage the space on behalf of the Communities and Local Government Department, objected to the plan.
The centre’s chief executive, Ernest Vincent, said in a letter to protesters that the demonstration was “not appropriate on this occasion”, in part because other clients were using the facilities.
Superintendent David Hartshorn, from the Met’s public order unit, CO11, told protesters he was “unable to give authority” to their proposed protest site because it was private land.
He said he was reluctantly “imposing conditions”, including that they should gather at Storey’s Gate, a street adjacent to the centre. If the space proves too small, activists may be moved to Broad Sanctuary, a nearby road.
Protest organisers were talking up the prospects of a high turnout, saying groups were travelling from Scotland, Portsmouth, Colchester and Cambridge for what could be one of the last major opportunities to voice opposition to the Iraq war.
“For a weekday, this is quite a serious mobilisation,” said Chris Nineham, the chief steward for today’s protest. He said the proposed protest site remained “unacceptable” to demonstrators.
He and other organisers said they expected the crowd to build towards the end of the afternoon, when the session ended and Blair left the building.
Protesters may seek to ignore the protest conditions and gain access to the centre’s grounds, where they will face conference centre security.
“I think [police] are going to corral people into the side streets,” said organiser Andrew Burgin. “I think the aim is to get Tony Blair in, in full view of the cameras, without demonstrators being there. I’m sure that Blair’s security will be insisting that nobody is within throwing distance.
“I don’t know how they’ll sweep [Blair] in. I can’t imagine he’ll want to go around the back. He’ll want to go through the front door, like an ordinary person.”
By Lauren Howland
On Saturday morning, around 300 people piled into a conference room at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) to discuss the future of the anti-war movement in the New England area.
New England United, a regional anti-war network that was started in July of 2007, held a convention to address the ongoing war in the Middle East.
The crowd ranged from grey-haired men and women reflecting their fight to end the Vietnam War during their youth to Cambridge high school students wanting to voice their opinions.
Robert Hanson, an older man wearing a peace shirt was the first to speak. He warned the group that his generation had failed in continuing the peace movement, and now people see peace and anti-war activism the same way they see voting—something you only have to take part in once and awhile.
“If I can offer you some advice, if a suggestion comes up that sounds like the 60’s—put it on the backburner,” said Hanson.
The gathering lasted from 10:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m., alternating between panels and workshops, and concluded with an organizational session to discuss ways to incorporate more people into a protest that will be held March 20 in front of the White House to support the return of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Glen Ford, editor of Black Agenda Report, an online journal of African American thought and action, was one of the first to speak.
“How did corporations, blacks, and leftist all end up on the same side?“ Ford comically asked the audience. Calling it a “trick of history” Ford expressed his dismay when in 2008 the capitalistic system started to fall apart and instead of people fighting, back they became completely demobilized.
The speakers covered a broad array of topics including the expansion of U.S. occupation in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine. They argued that this expansion uses resources, especially money, that could be better used in domestic and social issues. Lecturers also discussed the institution of new U.S. bases being set in Columbia and Honduras, and our nation’s decision on how and where to distribute money and aid to the people of Haiti after the earthquake devastated Port-Au-Prince and surrounding areas.
Ashley Smith, of the International Socialist Review, claimed that to end the wars, one needs to get the public to connect the dots between war spending and social progress.
“We should demand they do more then just talk about war opposition and block war spending,” Smith said of our government.
Workshops ensued where people broke off into smaller groups and held discussions about topics that were more closely related to the activist work they do, such as the war in Latin America, resistance within the military, global warming and its relation to current wars.
Seven UNH students attended the Student Organizing workshop in hopes of preparing themselves more thoroughly for the progression of the anti-war movement on and around campus.
“This is just the first step in connecting with the other students for peace and creating a more connected network of people working for peace in our world,” UNH junior philosophy major Vanessa Ruiz said after the conference.
An earthquake measuring 6.5 on the Richter scale occurred in Solomon Islandsat 6:37 a.m. Tuesday Hong Kong time (2237 GMT), according to a bulletin released by the Hong Kong Observatory on Tuesday, Xinhua reported.
The epicenter was initially determined to be at 6.1 degrees south latitude and 154.4 degrees east longitude, about 720 kilometers west-northwest of Hiniara, Solomon Islands, it said.
Mohamed Badei/AP Photo/Amr Nabil
The character of Egypt’s outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is a schizoid one: it has both advocated democratic reform and inspired radical violence.
Maktoob News ran a story yesterday about 25 men who had been arrested in Daqahlia province over the course of the past few weeks. A government official said the men had stockpiled explosives and rockets, and that they had planned to attack the tomb of a Jewish rabbi that has proven a popular destination for Israeli religious pilgrims.
The government official said that the men were heavily influenced by Sayyid Qutb, a radical member of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood who had also “inspired” Al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. The Egyptian government executed Qutb in the 1960s.
Another group of men is presently on trial for plotting terrorist attacks in Red Sea Resorts and the Suez Canal. These 26 men are supposedly members of Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
The arrests point to a prescient convergence of issues: Egypt’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the security threat posed by foreign radicals (especially in the Sinai Peninsula) and the Muslim Brotherhood’s position in relation to both. Both Mohamed Badei (the Brotherhood’s newly-elected General Guide) and his Secretary General, Mahmoud Hussein, are considered followers of Sayyid Qutb’s extremist theology.
The Muslim Brotherhood remains staunchly opposed to Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) – just this week government-affialiated newspaperAl-Ahram quoted Badei as saying that “constitutional amendments passed in 2007 were tailored to allow the NDP to hijack elections and monopolise power. The NDP has appointed itself both judge and plaintiff.” He further demanded that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down from office.
While Muslim Brotherhood candidates are often elected to seats in Parliament, they are forced to run as indpendent candidates. The group is officially banned by the Egyptian government, and its members are frequently arrested. Some are tortured in prison.
The government, meanwhile, is pursuing an aggressive policy aimed at closing Egypt’s border with the Gaza Strip (namely by constructing an above and below-ground barrier). A border clash in early January killed an Egyptian guard, and the Mubarak government has long maintained that terrorists have used underground smuggling tunnels along the border to enter the Sinai Peninsula from Gaza.
Humanitarian activists and Palestinians insist that the barrier will make it impossible for vital food and medicine to move past the Israeli blockade.
To bring matters full circle, Al-Ahram reported that Gazan Muslim Brotherhood leader Ismail Haniyeh was one of the first to congratulate Mohamed Badei on being elected General Guide, implying a comfortable, if not necessarily close relationships.
Badei’s public statements have often seemed temperate, if not moderate, advocating social activism and religious pluralism. In fact, the Brotherhood has rcently gone to great lengths to promote itself as an organization dedicated to democratic reform. Badei has criticized Egypt’s NDP government for launching smear attacks against Mohamed El-Baradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). El-Baradei is considering a run in Egypt’s next presidential election. Badei’s support for Gaza’s Hamas, however, would seem to stand in direct contradiction to his moderate rhetoric. In addition, his election was widely viewed as a victory for the Muslim Brotherhood’s conservative membership, some of which undoubtedly remains attracted to the teachings of men like Sayyid Qutb.
On Sunday, nine Brotherhood members were arrested in Daqahlia province, presumably in the course of the terror sweep.
Sources: Al-Ahram, Maktoob News
By: Peter Chamberlin
Bill Clinton seems to get blamed by this neocon administration for many things, but most of all for “losing bin Laden.” The ugly truth is that, in this case, they are probably right. Clinton’s team probably had good information on Osama’s whereabouts most of the time, since they were playing on the same team for most of Clinton’s two terms. It is becoming clear from the accumulating evidence that Bill Clinton resurrected Ronald Reagan’s Afghan strategy of using Islamist guerillas as his own covert foreign policy in Europe and other intransigent hot spots that seemed to be immune to normal diplomacy. Clinton’s foolish toying with Islamist killers is probably the spark that ignited the international jihad against America.
Those of us who are diehard “Bush haters,” like to blame Bush senior for creating Al Qaida, when he abandoned Afghanistan. The problem is, even though Bush did abandon the Afghans, it fell to the next misled president to breathe life into Al Qaida. According to Gen. Hameed Gul (former head of Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence-ISI- during the war against the Soviets), when Vice President George H. W. Bush became president in 1989, he threatened to “clip ISI’s wings.” (Gul now serves as an adviser to Pakistan’s extremist religious political parties. He may also be the source of the Al Qaida rumors that it was the Israeli Mossad, not bin Laden, that carried-out the 9/11 attacks, as well as the idea of creating an Islamic Caliphate, beginning with Afghanistan and the Central Asian Republics.) After the withdrawal of the Soviets on February 15,1989, Bush began to make good on that threat. According to author George Crile, in Charlie’s War, http://www.amazon.ca/Charlie-Wilsons-War-Extraordinary-Operation/dp/0802141242 on September 30, 1991, the end of the fiscal year, the flow officially stopped (except for $200 million [matched by the Saudis] hidden within the defense authorizations bill for 1992). After the US abandoned Afghanistan, to attack Saddam Hussein, the ISI was left alone to manage the Afghan tribal bloodbath and civil war. Soon after the liberation of Kabul, their man, Hezb-i-Islami leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/entity.jsp?entity=gulbuddin_hekmatyar (long the main recipient of CIA weaponry) started the civil war, by firing rockets at Kabul. (The ISI later created the Taliban regime and installed them in power in 1996.)
In 1993, the stage had been set for Clinton to take over, after Bush had walked off the field. His common history with the radical Islamists began shortly after he took office, when he acceded to the demands of the Muslim governments, who were wanting to send aid to their brethren in Yugoslavia. Clinton began a covert operation with Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, to send money and arms to Bosnia-Herzegovina. According to a lengthy Congressional report by the Republican Party Committee, http://www.srpska-mreza.com/Bosnia/bodansky2.html published in 1997 (while the Republicans were pre-occupied with learning about the president’s sexual habits), the Clinton administration “helped turn Bosnia into a militant Islamic base,” by recruiting and arming thousands of Mujahideen through the “Militant Islamic Network.” The report then went on to claim administration “…complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo.., involvement with the Islamic network’s arms pipeline… (and using Muslim “charity” groups who were) connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Bin Laden…” [Washington Post, 9/22/96]
The result was an illegal Iran-Contra style operation http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=369 which utilized Iranian militants and elements of Al Qaida in Albania http://www.srpska-mreza.com/Bosnia/bodansky2.html (some of which were under direct command of Al Qaida “number two” Ayman al-Zawahiri), to smuggle weapons and mujahedeen though Croatia into Bosnia. This secret program was later duplicated with the Kosovo Liberation Army, and again in nearby Macedonia, as well as in Chechnya.
According to author and researcher Yossef Bodansky http://www.amazon.com/Bin-Laden-Man-Declared-America/dp/0761535810 (director Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare), Clinton also used these Al Qaida offshoots against Egypt, after President Mubarak opposed Clinton’s use of force against Iraq in February 1998. Some of these Islamists, again led by Zawahiri, had tried to assassinate Mubarak in 1995. (Zawahiri had earlier gained notoriety as one of the conspirators, and spokesman, for the assassins of Anwar Sadat.) In Bosnia, the Islamists staged attacks upon fellow Muslims in order to elicit international sympathy and thus intervention. The outcomes of these actions effectively converted NATO into the Islamists’ air force, the Western press into their propaganda organs, and American troops into their proxy forces.
The Saudis provided most of the money for the covert program in Yugoslavia (just as they had matched all US funds to the original mujahedeen), the Iranians supplied the arms, and the Pakistan Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) brought the “Afghan-Arab” veterans to the fight. The ISI is widely known as a surrogate of the CIA, https://www.vedamsbooks.com/no44627.htm – 5k - which had created them, as well as SAVAK, the Shah of Iran’s secret police. During the Afghan jihad, the CIA used the ISI to create the drug/arms pipeline http://www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline.jsp?timeline=complete_911_timeline&financing_of_al-qaeda:_a_more_detailed_look=drugs that supplied the war effort and promoted the smuggling of heroin into Afghanistan, in order to turn the Soviet troops into heroin addicts. (Echoes of Iran-contra CIA drug-running charges.) After the fall of the Soviet puppet Najibullah in 1992, the veteran Arabs took their skills back to their homelands, where they began to spread the militant disease, sharing the technical skills that we had taught them, creating local cells of “the base.”
The ISI sent thousands of the remaining jihadis to Kashmir, to wage a new covert war against India, after the alarming series of nuclear tests which both countries had just conducted. ISI seeded thousands of their own paramilitary forces www.kashmir-information.com/Bodansky/Bodansky1.html – 32k - in with the mujahedeen, to lead the fight in the disputed territory. How can we possibly tell the Taliban and Al Qaida from the Pakistani undercover ISI agents? For that matter, is there even a difference? Who is to say if “Al Qaida” is not really just another Pakistani covert operation? Bin Laden himself never used the term before 1999. In 1998 he created the “International Islamic Front for Jihad Against the Jews and Crusaders.”
According to former agents of the French secret service, “al Qaida” (“the base” in Arabic) was the name for a database http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=viewArticle&code=BUN20051120&articleId=1291 of an early version of the Internet that had been created by Saudi Arabia, for families of the Afghan mujahedeen to use to communicate with their honored “freedom fighters.” Did Al Qaida originate as a generic name for the entire Islamic mujahedeen support network?
The ISI did not create “the base” (the mujahedeen network) by themselves; it was created by the Saudis under the supervision of the CIA master planners. Were the Pakistanis working with Al Qaida on 9/11? If not, then how were the terrorists able to coordinate their attacks with American war games? http://www.oilempire.us/wargames.html Who helped them to pre-wire and precisely time the secondary explosives http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWgSaBT9hNU in the buildings?
Was the ISI still in the employ of the CIA in 2001? How could the ISI or Al Qaida have managed to “stand down” the protective fighter bubble, http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/mxADsum.html that should have prevented the later attacks, if there was no one on the inside to hobble those defenses?
There are far too many discrepancies in the “official versions” of these events, and in the war on terrorism as well, to allow the cover-ups to continue. President Bush has based the Iraq war and the war on terrorism on a series of cover-ups—a cover-up of the truth about the “Iraq threat” following an even bigger cover-up of the cycle of endless retribution with the Islamists over our shared secret history. Bush has followed the deadly path blazed by Clinton, seeking to revive his lost wars and to force his version of diplomacy upon a targeted Muslim population. Unlike Clinton, Bush is trying to fight multiple wars using the Sunni terrorist network (Al Qaida the base), to create multiple civil wars and to ignite a regional religious civil war. Bush is a lost man, multiplying his failures in hopes of ending up with something that resembles victory in the end product.
Bush has breathed new life into the American/Saudi/Pakistani Islamist network as the foundation for his covert war against Iran. He is using Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan as bases of operation, from which to train and launch trained Sunni terrorists into Iran. What are the ramifications of bringing the ISI into the Iraqi and Afghan conflicts? Could the ISI be to blame for the sudden avalanche of “irrefutable proof” being offered of Iranian weapons in Sunni hands in Iraq and Afghanistan? That “proof” was the basis for yesterday’s Senate vote http://baltimorechronicle.com/2007/071307Floyd.shtml to accuse Iran of waging war against American forces. The events on the ground in Afghanistan and in Pakistan speak volumes about Pakistani veracity as our partner in the war on terror. Thanks to them, the Taliban may be on the verge of victory in both of those countries.
Afghanistan and the tribal provinces of Western Pakistan could be cleansed of most Taliban by repeating the carpet-bombing campaign of 2001, but both countries would choose Islamist governments in democratic elections. A hostile Islamist government in Islamabad would have nuclear missiles with which to carry-out their retribution.
The next president has the awful task of unwinding this tangled mess. If he has any chance at all of accomplishing this task, it will not be by continuing the failed policies of Clinton and Bush. They took Reagan’s violent, though successful policy of working with Islamic extremists and tried to co-opt and use the Islamists for very un-Islamic tasks. Bush has exacerbated the repercussions of these manipulations by turning a struggle to bring a few thousand Al Qaida terrorists (whoever they really were) to justice into a “clash of civilizations” against all of Islam. This has proven to be a powerful Islamic recruiting device.
The next president will have to deal with empowered Islamists without being so quick to resort to bombs. He will have to try to reason with extremist Islamist governments. The next president will have to act reasonably, as well. This means that we cannot elect another extremist president ourselves, unless his extremism is in defense of the Constitution and the people it defends, which includes defending the “inalienable human rights” of all people. He must be a man who will defend America against those who call themselves “Americans,” while doing so many bad things to so many people.
Police in Bosnia have sealed off a northern town in a large-scale operation against Islamic militants.
Around 600 officers are searching homes in the isolated town of Gornja Maoca, known to be a stronghold of Islamic extremism. A large number of weapons were found in the first few hours of the operation, which is being described as the largest since the end of the Bosnian War in 1995.
The town is also thought to be home to foreign jihadists who came to Bosnia to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs and the Croats during the war.
[The following report from Homeland Security is dated Aug. 2005]
Belgrade, 26 August (AKI) – The al-Qaeda terror network is active in Bosnia and the wider Balkans region, but is changing tactics and primarily fighting for the hearts and minds of the local Muslim population, according to a leading Serbian terrorism expert, Darko Trifunovic, a professor at Belgrade University’s civil defence faculty. Training is now being conducted in small groups in elementary schools and sports halls, in the guise of social and sports activities, according to Trifunovic.
“The greatest success of al-Qaeda in Bosnia is that it has managed to radicalise the local Muslim population and has even recruited several Bosnian youths to fight in Iraq, Chechnya and Afghanistan,” Trifunovic told Adnkronos International (AKI) in an interview.
Commenting on recent media reports that al-Qaeda operated secret training camps in Bosnia, Trifunovic, who is also a Serbia and Montenegro researcher for the Washington based Institute for International Strategic Studies (ISS), said that the impact of al-Qaeda’s activities in Bosnia has still to be felt.
A report in the Italian Corriere della Sera daily on Thursday seems to lend support to Trifunovic’s claim that Islamic extremists are operating in the Balkans. The paper disclosed a recent intelligence operation conducted in the Balkans by Italian secret services in collaboration with Bosnian and Croatian police that uncovered a Wahabi Islamist terror cell based in the eastern Bosnian village of Gornja Maoca, which was apparently plotting terror attacks in Italy. The Wahabi school of thought, the strictest of Sunni Islam, is espoused by al-Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden.
On 3 July, police arrested a convicted criminal with joint Bosnian and Croatian citzenship, known simply as ‘RP’ in an apartment in the Croatian capital, Zagreb, where 11 missile launchers were found, as well as quantities of the explosive C4 and several detonators which it is alleged were to be used by the Gornja Maoca terror cell. As well as ‘RP’, four other individuals were arrested in the police swoop.
Police believe the weapons were destined for a Balkans people trafficker,’ Mladen R’, discovered to have links to the terror cell – which planned to transfer the weapons and explosives to Europe via a human smuggling route through Slovenia and the northeastern Italian port city of Trieste. ‘Mladen R’ was stopped several times at the Slovenian-Italian border, as he attempted to enter Italy.
Authorities have also established links between the cell and a foiled plot to launch a terror attack on Italy in April, at the time of Pope John Paul II’s funeral, when investigations of the Gornja Maoca cell began. An Islamic extremist living in the village was found to have links with Redzematovic Seid, an alleged terrorist belonging to the ‘Active Islamic Youth’ group, who was arrested on 8 April – the day of Pope John Paul II’s funeral. Seid was accused of trying to carry out a suicide attack.
THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY IS NOT AWARE OF THE CHANGING TACTICS…THE TRAINING IS BEING CONDUCTED IN SMALL GROUPS IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AND SPORTS HALLS, DISGUISED AS SOCIAL AND SPORTS ACTIVITIES.”
“The main purpose is to radicalise local youths – especially those who had lost their parents in the Bosnian civil war – first for logistic support, and ultimately for terrorist actions in Europe,” said Trifunovic. As the international struggle against terrorism is being intensified, al-Qaeda’ leaders are realising that they will have to rely on local, European youths, “who because of their non-Arabic look can pass unnoticed”, he explained.
“What we have in Bosnia today is the creation of an embryonic ‘white al-Qaeda’, which might become its main striking force in the future,” Trifunovic said.
Several al-Qaeda messages posted to Islamist websites in the past year have called for the recruitment of ‘white’ mujahadeen who will be more easily able to wage Jihad in Europe.
“The international community is not aware of the changing tactics, and they imagine some camps surrounded with barbed wire which would shelter several hundred people,” said Trifunovic. “No, the training is being conducted in small groups in elementary schools and sports halls, disguised as social and sports activities”, he stated.
ISS director Gregory Copley claimed this week that Bosnian camps were training “Bosnian Muslim war orphans who are now entering puberty”. Copley told the Bosnian daily Nezavisne novine he had the names of several foreign instructors who operated ‘mobile camps” in Bosnia.
“At the moment, I don’t have many details about the camps, but I do know that in the last few years, the movement of several hundred people from Bosnia towards crisis regions has been noted,” Copley said.
The commander of the international forces in Bosnia (Eufor), David Leaky, said he had “no knowledge” of the existence of any al-Qaeda camps in the country and that his forces would destroy them if they existed. But Trifunovic said Leaky’s phrase “no knowledge” didn’t make a convincing denial.
Trifunovic, who is preparing a report for a world conference on terrorism in Israel on 11 September, said the international community was still not fully aware of the real danger. In his words, the big powers, and especially the US government at the time of the Balkan War (the Clinton adminstration) had ignored and denied the fact that thousands of mujahadeen from Islamic countries were fighting in Bosnia on the side of local Muslims.
“Too many careers in Washington and in European capitals were based on this lie, or omission, whichever you prefer,” Trifunovic said. He pointed out that at least several hundred mujahadeen have remained in Bosnia and carry out clandestine activities. “The sooner the world comes to grip with this reality, the better. Otherwise, the price to pay may be too great,”, Trifunovic warned. (Continued)
The Bosnian Serb entity (Republika Srpska) police chief Dragan Andan claimed in May there were “dormant” al-Qaeda cells in Bosnia. But Andan came under pressure to resign after his allegations were rejected as baseless propaganda by the Bosnian Muslim authorities. According to Andan, 1,740 mujahadeen from Arab countries had fought on the side of Bosnian Muslims in the 1992-1995 civil war, and 400 of these obtained Bosinian passports and had remained in the country.
Andan refused to step down, and the story died away. He was unavailable for comment on new reports this week about al-Qaeda training camps in Bosnia from the Amercian News Service (CNS), quoting US terrorism expert Ivan Colman.
Colman claims young people were being taken into the hills and trained for Jihad in new camps operated by veteran jihadists from Islamic countries. Apparently the aim was not to organise permanent camps for terrorist actions, but to create a network of mobile cells that are not easy to track down.
Recent events and the fact that attacks on him had ceased, “in a way vindicated Andan”, said Trifunovic.
Consequently, several Latin American and Asian countries will be importing more rice to offset the resulting shortage. The South American countries such as Brazil, Venezuela, Columbia and Panama and the Asian countries like India and the Philippines are understood to have increased their import quotas as El Nino effect is likely to last till June.
The US Rice Producers Association President Dwight Roberts told Bloomberg that Brazil may start buying this month, a total of 1mn metric tons throughout the year, direct fallout of El Nino. In another statement, the Agriculture Undersecretary of the Philippines Bernardo Fondevilla said his country, the world’s biggest rice buyer could lose more than 0.8mn tons of paddy rice, from a severe dry spell caused by El Nino triggering renewed rice imports.
Brazil would be importing from Vietnam, the largest rice exporter behind Thailand after the latter fulfills its November and December tenders from the Philippines. As per the Philippines National Food Authority figures, the delivery of four tender amounting to 2.25mn tons mostly from Vietnam would start from January to June.
The Filipino government has set aside about $37mn to mitigate the impact of El Nino on crop and fishery production this year. The phenomenon is expected to devastate 453,204 hectares of rice, 227,843 hectares of corn fields and 14,160 hectares of the fishery industry in the Philippines alone.
Robert on a rice update to Bloomberg informed that Iraq, the fifth largest rice importer, might buy at least 120,000 tons by next week. El Nino effect is likely to peak this month causing speculative buying in the global rice market.
Robert told that the apparent decline in Mercosur production and increased demand in the South American and other Central American countries, supplies will be tight and some markets could pay considerably higher prices for imported rice. The data on rice stockpiles and production trickling in from almost all regions across the globe indicate world rice market is in for severe price rice which in a worst case scenario could even reach the all time high of 2008.
Print advertisements will appear in publications aimed at polticos – like Congressional Quarterly as well as a web-based campaign that will take place primarily in the Washington D.C market.
“As our federal and state leaders develop energy and environmental policies, it is more important than ever that they recognize the full range of benefits that nuclear energy provides to consumers,” said Scott Peterson, NEI’s vice president of communications.
WASHINGTON: Taking note of India’s “growing influence” in global affairs, the US has said the country will be a net provider of security in the
Indian Ocean and beyond with the growth of its military capabilities.
“The distribution of global political, economic and military power is shifting and becoming more diffuse. The rise of China, the world’s most populous country, and India, the world’s largest democracy, will continue to reshape the international system,” said the Quadrennial Defence Review (QDR) report released by US defence secretary Robert Gates.
The once-in-a-four year report, which shapes the policy of the Pentagon for the next four years, noted that while the US will remain the most powerful actor, it must increasingly cooperate with key allies and partners to build and sustain peace and security.
“Whether and how rising powers fully integrate into the global system will be among this century’s defining questions, and are thus central to America’s interests,” it said. As the economic power, cultural reach and political influence of India increase, it is assuming a more influential role in global affairs, the 128-page QDR report said.
“This growing influence, combined with democratic values it shares with the United States, an open political system, and a commitment to global stability, will present many opportunities for cooperation,” it said.
“India’s military capabilities are rapidly improving through increased defence acquisitions and they now include long-range maritime surveillance, maritime interdiction and patrolling, air interdiction and strategic airlift,” the report noted.
“India has already established its worldwide military influence through counter piracy, peacekeeping, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief efforts. As its military capabilities grow, India will contribute to Asia as a net provider of security in the Indian Ocean and beyond,” report said.
On the other hand, the report expressed concerns over the lack of Chinese transparency over its military development. “The US welcomes a strong, prosperous, and successful China that plays a greater global role. However, lack of transparency and the nature of China’s military development and decision-making processes raise legitimate questions about its future conduct and intentions within Asia and beyond,” the report said.
Local television pictures from the scene of the explosion
Three US Marines are among at least 10 people killed in an attack on a convoy heading to a girls’ school in north-west Pakistan, police have said.
At least 70 people, including 63 school girls, were injured as the convoy was hit as it passed another girls’ school in Lower Dir, near the Afghan border.
The attack comes amid a major government offensive against Taliban militants in the area.
The Taliban has frequently targeted markets, schools and security agencies.
Pakistan military sources told the BBC that three US Marines were killed and one other injured. The US embassy has declined to comment.
They were thought to be travelling with a convoy that was heading to the inauguration ceremony of a newly-built girls’ school.
The blast occurred near a different school in Koto, a heavily populated village along the route, the BBC’s Mark Dummett in Islamabad says.
At least three of the dead were school girls, police said, adding that security guards and three local journalists were also among the wounded.
RECENT ATTACKS ON FOREIGNERS
October 2009: Suicide bomber attacks UN offices in Islamabad, killing five people including a foreigner
September 2009: Truck bomber kills at least 54 people including foreigners at the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad
June 2009: Foreigners among at least 18 people killed in suicide attack blamed on the Taliban on Pearl Continental hotel
March 2009: Bus carrying Sri Lankan cricket team is attacked in Lahore, injuring seven players and killing five Pakistani policemen
March 2008: A Turkish woman is killed and several foreigners are injured in a bomb attack on an Italian restaurant in Islamabad
The convoy was on its way to Maidan, an area of Lower Dir district in North-West Frontier Province, which is the base of a pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Sufi Mohammad, and a stronghold of Taliban militants.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has condemned the attack and ordered an investigation, the AFP news agency reports.
The Taliban has frequently targeted girls’ schools in recent years, burning several to the ground.
The school that was due to re-open had only recently been re-built with foreign aid after being blown up by militants in January 2009, AFP said citing a local police official.
Last year, the Pakistani army carried out a major offensive to drive Taliban insurgents out of Lower Dir and the neighbouring districts of Swat and Buner, but they are still present in remote areas, our correspondent says.
The latest attack shows that the Taliban remains a powerful force in the region, despite the government’s efforts to push them back, he adds.
Hundreds of people have died and several thousand displaced by the fighting.
Many of the girls’ school in the region that were destroyed by militants are now being rebuilt.
[Was this another round in the war between the Taliban and the CIA? USAID has allegedly been used as a CIA front group in the past.]
The American Embassy could not confirm the identities of the dead or whether they worked for Usaid, the American agency that has been involved in reconstruction programs in Swat after months of fighting between the Taliban and the military.
“We are aware of the reports. We don’t have any information,” the embassy spokeswoman, Ariel Howard, said.
More than 50 people were injured in the blast, many of them girls attending a high school that was near the road where the bomb was planted, officials said. The aid workers were on their way to attend the inauguration ceremony of a primary school in another village.
“It was a huge blast,” said Haroon Rashid, a local journalist who was accompanying the convoy and was wounded.
The bomb went off on the roadside near Koto village in Hajibad, he said. “I am here with wounds on my leg and arms and am waiting to be evacuated,” Mr. Rashid said by telephone from the scene. He said the Pakistani Army had sealed the area, and forbidden any entry or exit except for the wounded.
The aid workers were traveling in vehicles of the Frontier Corps, the paramilitary force inPakistan. The Frontier Corps was assigned to provide protection to the workers, according to the military spokesman.
The hospital in at Lower Dir was overwhelmed with the injured. “We are still receiving the wounded,” said Dr. Wakil Muhammad, the medical superintendent, more than two hours after the blast.
The area where the convoy was hit is known as Maidan and is the ancestral home of Sufi Mohammed, the charismatic leader of the Taliban in Swat. It is a mountainous region still used by Taliban fighters, and one of their most strategic strongholds.
Sufi Mohammed is in the custody of Pakistani security forces, and the road the convoy was traveling on was believed to have been cleared of militants, police officials said.
The attack demonstrated, however, that militants were still able to strike, particularly at groups trying to help rebuild local schools that have been the militants’ targets.