Drone Strikes Resume Near Wana

US drone strike kills 11 in SWA

WANA: At least 11 militants were killed, and three injured in a missile strike carried out by a US unmanned plane in South Waziristan Agency Friday.

According to sources, the pilotless spy plane targeted the suspected militant hideouts located in Nezai Narai area along Afghan border, in which 11 militants were killed.

Following the attack, US drone plane continue to hover over the targeted area.

Afghanistan: The West is Caught On The Wrong Foot

Afghanistan: The West is Caught On The Wrong Foot

The Civil War That Trapped The West Is Propped Up by Karzai et al.

By Khalil Nouri

Pashtun Warriors

Afghanistan is evidently on life support, with severe preexisting symptoms (constantly flaring-up) of ailments ranging from corruption, drug trafficking, and so forth (echoed repeatedly in the media) to recent swelling traumas of tribal feuds, instigated by Karzai family et al in Kandahar. This predicament is rattling all of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan and has doomed, or will cripple, the very foundation of tribal structure and nationalism in the country.

If there is no shift away from the paradigm of Muslim radicalism, certainly a re-emergence of the old bitter civil war between the two powerful Pashtun tribal groups—“Durranis” and “Ghelzais”—that was fought over three centuries ago, will explode upon us today.

KANDAHAR’S POWER BROKERS

This is a complex indigenous phenomenon that requires a versatile perception that is beyond the comprehension of

Karzai Brothers

many in the West, and it is fueled and manipulated by the Karzai’s “Popalzai” clan of Durrani confederacy tribe, headed by Hamid Karzai’s half brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who is the head of the Kandahar provincial council and has assumed for himself the role of absolute monarch in this Southern Afghan city.

Also included in the mix are the Karzai family’s closest allies, who are more captivated with their own interests rather than a genuine partnership; but they have excluded all traditional elders in the smaller local communities from governance and planning—an alienation of key provincial constituencies.  In addition, they have imposed lengthy technocratic strategies that are incomprehensible to local tribal leaders, which has alienated tribal communities and fuelled resentment that invites insurgents to infiltrate them and secure their allegiance against the state; the consequence is an imbalance of tribal structure that leads to a dire recipe for civil strife.

Furthermore, at the core level, the Karzai family (pictured) has made an informal division of spheres such that; each Karzai brother has his own arena of influence.  In fact, Hamid is the statesman, Mahmuod built a business empire, Qayum quietly manipulates things behind the scenes as the family’s “eminence grise”, and Ahmad Wali Karzai has proved adept at mastering local political dynamics and leveraging brother Karzai’s control as Head of State to slowly build his own power base in Kandahar.  In a sublevel, however, the cousins, cronies and their limited tribal constituents (pictured: left to right clockwise: Gul Agha Sherzai, Haji Jan Mohammad, Arif Noorzai and Mattiullah), claim their own portions of various government posts, including land ownership that took little to no real purchase power in exchange to obtain.

Karzai Inner Circle

In addition, the family has benefited from using the institutions of the Afghan state to their advantage, and in doing so have formed important synergies linking politics in Kandahar and Kabul.

And as Ahamad Wali affirmed in one of his media interviews, “This is a country ruled by kings. The king’s brothers, cousins, sons are all powerful.” He further states, “This is Afghanistan. It will change but it will not change overnight.” This without a doubt shows how he flaunts himself as the ultimate ruler of the land in southern Afghan.  He also describes himself as the “Nancy Pelosi of Kandahar,” portraying himself as a dealmaker capable of working with allies and rivals to stabilize Afghanistan.

Because of this “arrogance in plain sight”, other tribes in Kandahar are showing their deep displeasure and outright resentment (being deprived of living even a basic everyday life) towards NATO and the U.S., because of the empowerment that “foreigners” are given to the Karzai family and tribe.  As a result, this constitutes the main ingredient for insurgency recruitment; and consequently the impending manifestation for a blowback beyond control.

Furthermore, paradoxically the assertion by U.S. officials, that they see Ahmad Wali Karzai, “as a polarizing figure who could complicate their efforts to win over the population”, makes no sense. This clearly sends a contradictory double message to the population, and many view this as a sign of U.S. weakness.  How can you oppose him and back him up with military might at the same time?

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION OF PASHTUN TRIBAL STRUCTURE:

The multifaceted Pashtun tribes generally consist of multiple subdivisions, including sub-tribes and clans.  In broad

terms, on one side are the “Durranis” – most of the settled population of Kandahar are related to the Karzai “Popalzai” clan; they are the elite, the aristocrats, farmers, traders, and the professional middle class who have gained  certain powers and prestige.  On the other hand of the same body politics are the “Ghilzais”, who are traditionally nomadic, fiercely fundamentalist in religion, and whose tribal and village leaders were dependent on, and subordinate to, the local aristocracy—a class status that was less prominent in other Pashtun areas. Their homelands stretch east into Pakistan as far as Kashmir.

A RELENTLESS PASHTUN TRIBAL BLOWBACK IS ON THE HORIZON

Ever since Afghanistan emerged as a sovereign nation in 1709, when the “Ghilzais” defeated the Persians, its history has been etched in ancient hatreds between “Ghilzai” and “Durrani” groups. During most of that time, the country was ruled by the “Durrani” tribe, who in 1775 moved its capital from the “Ghilzai” stronghold of Kandahar to Kabul in the North.  Nothing more fired up “Ghilzais’” enmity than the many occasions when the “Durranis” attempted to impose their rule from Kabul with the aid of “foreigners”; either “Tajiks” from the north or other outsiders such as the British, who invaded Afghanistan three times between 1838 and 1919 in a bid to secure the North-west Frontier of their Indian empire against the rebellious “Ghilzais.”

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, after years of “Durrani” rule, it was to support a revolutionary “Ghilzai” government.  But this new foreign presence inspired general Afghan resistance, and was why (by the late 1980s) the U.S. was supporting the almost entirely “Ghilzai-run-Taliban”—then called Mujahideen—and their ally Osama Bin laden.  In 1996 the “Taliban-Ghilzai” got their revenge, and imposed their theocratic rule over almost the whole country.  In 2001, the West invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, imposing “Durrani” rule again; now under “Durrani” President Karzai—however, he is from an unpopular “Durrani” side of the “Popalzai” clan.

Now, as so often before, the “Ghilzais” have seen their country hijacked by a “Durrani” regime, supported by a largely Tajik army backed by hated outsiders from the West. One reason why it is so hard for the West to win “hearts and minds” amongst the majority of Afghans is because the West is up against a sullenly resentful population, fired up by a timeless hatred and able to call upon unlimited support, in men and materiel, from their “Ghilzai” brethrens across the border in Pakistan.  As aforementioned, the main reason for the overall resentment and growing insurgency to arrive is because the Karzai family and cronies are seen as an artificially imposed dominant tribal group in Kandahar (from the outset).

AN AFGHAN ARMY OF MINIMAL PASHTUNS

Another factor for a civil war in Afghanistan is the 65% Tajik recruitment in the Afghan National Army (ANA).  There has been consistent reporting by Western media sources with the line that NATO troops operate “in support of” the ANA, and that, this genuine force reflects the whole nation.  This misinformation campaign even released erroneous figures of the ethnic composition of the ANA. These artificial figures reflect the rule set up by the top brass in U.S. and NATO forces.   Under this rule, the Afghan army should be 38 percent Pashtun, 25 percent Tajik, 19 percent Hazara and eight percent Uzbek. This would bring the numbers much closer to reflecting the nation’s ethnic composition.

A reliable source within the ANA—a close affiliate of Afghan Joint Chief of Staff General Bismillah Khan—has revealed, “The truth is that the ANA is now over 65% Tajik, and that figure is increasing.” He went on, “The Pashtun figure is hovering below 18% and may have been overtaken by the Uzbeks.”

In other words, the “Afghan National Army” is just the Northern Alliance with very expensive NATO provided gears and uniforms. Therefore, by sending the Northern Alliance supported by U.S. and NATO troops into core Pashtun tribal areas, all these forces are seen as alien occupiers.  Locals vehemently resent this, and since they cannot identify with any of these forces, they are returning to the Taliban. This is further adding fuel to anger, leading to civil war.

HOW TO DEFUSE TRIBAL TENSION IN KANDAHAR

Since 1707 to December 2009 there were 19 grand assemblies of elders (Loya Jirgas) convened in Afghanistan, and mostly prior to 1880 the exact contents of discussions were never recorded due to the traditional nature of the process.  However the results, discussions and decisions were all expressed orally from generation to generation.

Moreover, as I recall from my youth, my elders were in many political discussions about local tribal politics.  They discussed Kandahar’s ancient tribal feud that required genuine thinking over a century ago, so essentially a Loya Jirga was convened.  In that Tribal Jirga, a unanimous decision was made that “a ruling tribe cannot be in the majority.” Apparently the key idea was not to give prominence to a tribe whose supremacy and empowerment –just as now—could jeopardize the balance of the tribal structure.

Thus, one of the main reasons the “Mohammadzai” clan of “Barakzai” dynasty could rule Afghanistan for over a one-half century was because of its minor tribal constituency. The tribal balancing phenomenon has already been solved long ago, and history may need to repeat itself on this issue once again.

Contrary to the present, the old solution allowed tribal balance to be maintained for decades until 1979; and clearly within the Afghan tribal framework, a Jeffersonian style presidential election is doomed to failure.       

A SUCCESSFUL LESSON FROM THE BRITISH

Another tale from two generations ago; when King Nadir Shah—from the “Durrani” tribe of “Mohammadzai” clan—was backed by the British to be the King in Afghanistan in 1929, he was supported mostly by the “Ghelzais” – largely by the “Waziri” and “Mashud” sub-tribes.

In order to keep the tribal balance between the two groups (the “Durranis” and “Ghelzais”) in check, he agreed to give the “Ghelzais” immunity in exchange of their achievements; conquering Kabul and subduing a rival named Habibullah Kalakani; this inaugurated Nader Shah’s reign.  The immunity for the “Ghelzais” was noncompulsory participation in the Afghan military service, but in contrast, they were given higher ranks in brass appointments.

Conversely, if the King could be installed by his own “Durrani” tribe, the balance could also have been tipped by a “Ghelzais’” revolt.  In hindsight, the old solution was a cautionary and well thought out plan for defusing any uprising.

SOME RECENT TRIBAL REPORTS FROM AFGHANISTAN

The tribal feud thus far is in upward swing; I recently received a telephone call from someone named Mr. Burhanuddin Kushkaki, who lives in Germany.  He told me that 11 members of his family including close cousins in Eastern Afghanistan were among the dead due to a U.S. military night raid on their village of “Kushkak” in “Surkhrod” district of Nangarhar Province on May 14th 2010.  Over the telephone, he played a 20 minutes long recorded tape of his cousin who immediately reported the incident from the scene.  As I was hearing the man in the background explaining this dreadful situation, “This incident happened on the same night that Hamid Karzai was in Washington D.C. complaining about U.S. military raids on Afghan villages that caused loss of innocent lives.” He goes on, “we have done no harm to any one, and the provincial governor had no report of this incident.” Then he said, “This is a wrong intelligence report by someone who wanted to send a message to Karzai and Obama.” He then reiterated, “We are caught in a tribal feud and any able body will revengefully recruit and fight those who are killing us.” I later recalled a similar incident by the “Shinwari” tribe of “Mohmand” clan in early March 2010.

I also recently received another telephone call (on a different subject) from an acquaintance—Mr. Aman Gul Khan who is from the “Ghilzai” tribe of “Zazai” clan in Paktia province.  He said, “I along with some tribal elders including the infamous “Haji Baydar Zazai” are working very hard to elevate the ex-King Zahir Shah’s grandson, Prince Mustapha Zahir.”  He went further, “apparently nothing is working from Kandahar and we will do whatever we can to bring him in the same way we brought his great grandfather King Nader Shah to power.”  This clearly is strong opposition to Kandahar’s current tribal imbalance situation that could rise to anarchy.

Some other tribal elders are suggesting a combined government of Amir Amanullah Khan and ex-King Zahir Shah’s siblings would definitely be supported by the majority in Afghanistan.

IN CONCLUSION — WHAT SHALL WE DO?

Prince Mustafa Zahir

In a recent revealed Pentagon report; out of 121 districts critical to stabilizing Afghanistan, only 29 are sympathetic to the Afghan government.  Forty-four are neutral and another 51 are sympathetic to the insurgency.  Indeed, many people have ties—sometimes blood ties—to Taliban fighters.  Obviously the almost decade old government of Hamid Karzai and the tribal imbalance wrought by Ahamad Wali Karzai are the main causes for the downward spiral into instability.

Evidently an old-fashioned military victory in Afghanistan is impossible. This is exactly the problem for the US; The Pentagon can’t let go. The military brass can’t admit that once again they can’t win a war. Clearly there is desperation in these efforts to secure something out of this mess.

Moreover, even if there were more evidence of United States success in Afghanistan, can anyone believe that the current Afghan leadership would be able to sustain whatever gains were made?

By the way, we are stuck with the notion that Karzai is the best partner available and Mr. Obama should not be looking for anyone else. As Fareed Zakaria says, “As a Pashtun and a major figure willing to ally with the U.S., Karzai is indispensable.”

Pull out the troops, because this war can’t be won, but risk lots of blood in another civil war, and maybe a much worse and more dangerous scenario will emerge? Or shall we stay and take the risk of being trapped in a never-ending conflict, which will cost a huge amount of money, blood and tears?

What can we do?  Let’s do the only thing we can do!  Let’s have a Symposium of Afghans from around the world and do like my father’s generation, and the generations before him.  Let’s seek out immediate, mid-range, and long range solutions for Afghanistan.

1) Let’s call for an immediate truce from all sides of this conflict.

2) Let’s seek mid-range economic solutions such as Biz-Jirgah to Biz-Jirgah, and Biomass to Energy.  We can show how rubber dams can supply water for agricultural purposes and create hydropower energy for villages; but, these rubber dams must not be used to produce narcotics; any narcotics producers will lose their rubber dams to villages that obey international law; the Afghan Government should maintain these rubber dams. We will also offer software solutions for the two-year backlog of tax audits in Afghanistan. The Symposium will conclude with a Resolution Statement and an Action Plan.

3) Let’s seek long- range economic solutions by calling upon Afghans around the world to come together in one voice for peace through prosperity… and to change the current status that says that only 20% of Afghanistan’s national income comes from its people; the other 80% is coming from donor nations. This is unsustainable. We need to flip those numbers around… and to start an economic union of nations in South Asia with Afghanistan and Pakistan at its core. This economic union of nations can evolve into a multi-trillion dollar economy and bring peace and stability to the whole region.

Why fight over funds from other nations when we Afghans can build a bright future for and among ourselves.  Just look around the globe and you will see very successful Afghan’s there.  We know how to fight for what we believe in.  The problem is that we have stopped believing in ourselves as a nation.   Our best and brightest thinkers like Zalmay Khalilzad have not focus on what was best for Afghanistan, but instead, in my view, has favored the few over the many.

I have been very critical of Khalilzad lately as many others have been, and for good cause; but I would be the last person to say that he could never change.  It is men like him that we desperately need, but with a different set of core values and principles.

To Zalmay Khalilzad and every other Afghan in the world; it is time we Afghan’s stop fighting among ourselves and put our ancestral homeland ahead of our differences.  As we have learned from living in a democratic nation; we can have our differences; we can debate each other even in public, but when we are called to serve our ancestral homeland we must put those differences aside and work together for the good of all.  That’s how serious I am about solutions for Afghanistan.  I will exclude no one ahead of time (no one with blood on their hands) who is prepared to work on finding real solutions for Afghanistan.

Nelson Mandela was right in setting up a Truth Commission that allowed those who had wronged the people of South Africa to come forward, tell the painful truth, and be allowed to be reintegrated into society without retribution.  Perhaps Afghanistan should go through this process sometime down the road.  But first we have to stop the violence, bring peace, and put hope back into the minds of Afghans. I believe that once people can see, get a taste of, and believe in images of the future, they will move towards it, as John F. Kennedy knew so well.

Let’s do all this before there is a full blown civil war in Afghanistan!

Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan. www.nwscinc.org

Khalil Nouri is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker

Afghanistan is evidently on life support, with severe preexisting symptoms (constantly flaring-up) of ailments ranging from corruption, drug trafficking, and so forth (echoed repeatedly in the media) to recent swelling traumas of tribal feuds, instigated by Karzai family et al in Kandahar. This predicament is rattling all of Southern and Eastern Afghanistan and has doomed, or will cripple, the very foundation of tribal structure and nationalism in the country.

If there is no shift away from the paradigm of Muslim radicalism, certainly a re-emergence of the old bitter civil war between the two powerful Pashtun tribal groups—“Durranis” and “Ghelzais”—that was fought over three centuries ago, will explode upon us today.

KANDAHAR’S POWER BROKERS

This is a complex indigenous phenomenon that requires a versatile perception that is beyond the comprehension of

Karzai Brothers

many in the West, and it is fueled and manipulated by the Karzai’s “Popalzai” clan of Durrani confederacy tribe, headed by Hamid Karzai’s half brother, Ahmad Wali Karzai, who is the head of the Kandahar provincial council and has assumed for himself the role of absolute monarch in this Southern Afghan city.

Also included in the mix are the Karzai family’s closest allies, who are more captivated with their own interests rather than a genuine partnership; but they have excluded all traditional elders in the smaller local communities from governance and planning—an alienation of key provincial constituencies.  In addition, they have imposed lengthy technocratic strategies that are incomprehensible to local tribal leaders, which has alienated tribal communities and fuelled resentment that invites insurgents to infiltrate them and secure their allegiance against the state; the consequence is an imbalance of tribal structure that leads to a dire recipe for civil strife.

Furthermore, at the core level, the Karzai family (pictured) has made an informal division of spheres such that; each Karzai brother has his own arena of influence.  In fact, Hamid is the statesman, Mahmuod built a business empire, Qayum quietly manipulates things behind the scenes as the family’s “eminence grise”, and Ahmad Wali Karzai has proved adept at mastering local political dynamics and leveraging brother Karzai’s control as Head of State to slowly build his own power base in Kandahar.  In a sublevel, however, the cousins, cronies and their limited tribal constituents (pictured: left to right clockwise: Gul Agha Sherzai, Haji Jan Mohammad, Arif Noorzai and Mattiullah), claim their own portions of various government posts, including land ownership that took little to no real purchase power in exchange to obtain.

Karzai Inner Circle

In addition, the family has benefited from using the institutions of the Afghan state to their advantage, and in doing so have formed important synergies linking politics in Kandahar and Kabul.

And as Ahamad Wali affirmed in one of his media interviews, “This is a country ruled by kings. The king’s brothers, cousins, sons are all powerful.” He further states, “This is Afghanistan. It will change but it will not change overnight.” This without a doubt shows how he flaunts himself as the ultimate ruler of the land in southern Afghan.  He also describes himself as the “Nancy Pelosi of Kandahar,” portraying himself as a dealmaker capable of working with allies and rivals to stabilize Afghanistan.

Because of this “arrogance in plain sight”, other tribes in Kandahar are showing their deep displeasure and outright resentment (being deprived of living even a basic everyday life) towards NATO and the U.S., because of the empowerment that “foreigners” are given to the Karzai family and tribe.  As a result, this constitutes the main ingredient for insurgency recruitment; and consequently the impending manifestation for a blowback beyond control.

Furthermore, paradoxically the assertion by U.S. officials, that they see Ahmad Wali Karzai, “as a polarizing figure who could complicate their efforts to win over the population”, makes no sense. This clearly sends a contradictory double message to the population, and many view this as a sign of U.S. weakness.  How can you oppose him and back him up with military might at the same time?

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION OF PASHTUN TRIBAL STRUCTURE:

The multifaceted Pashtun tribes generally consist of multiple subdivisions, including sub-tribes and clans.  In broad

Pashtun Tribal Structure

terms, on one side are the “Durranis” – most of the settled population of Kandahar are related to the Karzai “Popalzai” clan; they are the elite, the aristocrats, farmers, traders, and the professional middle class who have gained  certain powers and prestige.  On the other hand of the same body politics are the “Ghilzais”, who are traditionally nomadic, fiercely fundamentalist in religion, and whose tribal and village leaders were dependent on, and subordinate to, the local aristocracy—a class status that was less prominent in other Pashtun areas. Their homelands stretch east into Pakistan as far as Kashmir.

A RELENTLESS PASHTUN TRIBAL BLOWBACK IS ON THE HORIZON

Ever since Afghanistan emerged as a sovereign nation in 1709, when the “Ghilzais” defeated the Persians, its history has been etched in ancient hatreds between “Ghilzai” and “Durrani” groups. During most of that time, the country was ruled by the “Durrani” tribe, who in 1775 moved its capital from the “Ghilzai” stronghold of Kandahar to Kabul in the North.  Nothing more fired up “Ghilzais’” enmity than the many occasions when the “Durranis” attempted to impose their rule from Kabul with the aid of “foreigners”; either “Tajiks” from the north or other outsiders such as the British, who invaded Afghanistan three times between 1838 and 1919 in a bid to secure the North-west Frontier of their Indian empire against the rebellious “Ghilzais.”

When the Soviets invaded Afghanistan in 1979, after years of “Durrani” rule, it was to support a revolutionary “Ghilzai” government.  But this new foreign presence inspired general Afghan resistance, and was why (by the late 1980s) the U.S. was supporting the almost entirely “Ghilzai-run-Taliban”—then called Mujahideen—and their ally Osama Bin laden.  In 1996 the “Taliban-Ghilzai” got their revenge, and imposed their theocratic rule over almost the whole country.  In 2001, the West invaded Afghanistan to topple the Taliban, imposing “Durrani” rule again; now under “Durrani” President Karzai—however, he is from an unpopular “Durrani” side of the “Popalzai” clan.

Now, as so often before, the “Ghilzais” have seen their country hijacked by a “Durrani” regime, supported by a largely Tajik army backed by hated outsiders from the West. One reason why it is so hard for the West to win “hearts and minds” amongst the majority of Afghans is because the West is up against a sullenly resentful population, fired up by a timeless hatred and able to call upon unlimited support, in men and materiel, from their “Ghilzai” brethrens across the border in Pakistan.  As aforementioned, the main reason for the overall resentment and growing insurgency to arrive is because the Karzai family and cronies are seen as an artificially imposed dominant tribal group in Kandahar (from the outset).

AN AFGHAN ARMY OF MINIMAL PASHTUNS

Another factor for a civil war in Afghanistan is the 65% Tajik recruitment in the Afghan National Army (ANA).  There has been consistent reporting by Western media sources with the line that NATO troops operate “in support of” the ANA, and that, this genuine force reflects the whole nation.  This misinformation campaign even released erroneous figures of the ethnic composition of the ANA. These artificial figures reflect the rule set up by the top brass in U.S. and NATO forces.   Under this rule, the Afghan army should be 38 percent Pashtun, 25 percent Tajik, 19 percent Hazara and eight percent Uzbek. This would bring the numbers much closer to reflecting the nation’s ethnic composition.

A reliable source within the ANA—a close affiliate of Afghan Joint Chief of Staff General Bismillah Khan—has revealed, “The truth is that the ANA is now over 65% Tajik, and that figure is increasing.” He went on, “The Pashtun figure is hovering below 18% and may have been overtaken by the Uzbeks.”

In other words, the “Afghan National Army” is just the Northern Alliance with very expensive NATO provided gears and uniforms. Therefore, by sending the Northern Alliance supported by U.S. and NATO troops into core Pashtun tribal areas, all these forces are seen as alien occupiers.  Locals vehemently resent this, and since they cannot identify with any of these forces, they are returning to the Taliban. This is further adding fuel to anger, leading to civil war.

HOW TO DEFUSE TRIBAL TENSION IN KANDAHAR

Since 1707 to December 2009 there were 19 grand assemblies of elders (Loya Jirgas) convened in Afghanistan, and mostly prior to 1880 the exact contents of discussions were never recorded due to the traditional nature of the process.  However the results, discussions and decisions were all expressed orally from generation to generation.

Moreover, as I recall from my youth, my elders were in many political discussions about local tribal politics.  They discussed Kandahar’s ancient tribal feud that required genuine thinking over a century ago, so essentially a Loya Jirga was convened.  In that Tribal Jirga, a unanimous decision was made that “a ruling tribe cannot be in the majority.” Apparently the key idea was not to give prominence to a tribe whose supremacy and empowerment –just as now—could jeopardize the balance of the tribal structure.

Thus, one of the main reasons the “Mohammadzai” clan of “Barakzai” dynasty could rule Afghanistan for over a one-half century was because of its minor tribal constituency. The tribal balancing phenomenon has already been solved long ago, and history may need to repeat itself on this issue once again.

Contrary to the present, the old solution allowed tribal balance to be maintained for decades until 1979; and clearly within the Afghan tribal framework, a Jeffersonian style presidential election is doomed to failure.       

A SUCCESSFUL LESSON FROM THE BRITISH

Another tale from two generations ago; when King Nadir Shah—from the “Durrani” tribe of “Mohammadzai” clan—was backed by the British to be the King in Afghanistan in 1929, he was supported mostly by the “Ghelzais” – largely by the “Waziri” and “Mashud” sub-tribes.

In order to keep the tribal balance between the two groups (the “Durranis” and “Ghelzais”) in check, he agreed to give the “Ghelzais” immunity in exchange of their achievements; conquering Kabul and subduing a rival named Habibullah Kalakani; this inaugurated Nader Shah’s reign.  The immunity for the “Ghelzais” was noncompulsory participation in the Afghan military service, but in contrast, they were given higher ranks in brass appointments.

Conversely, if the King could be installed by his own “Durrani” tribe, the balance could also have been tipped by a “Ghelzais’” revolt.  In hindsight, the old solution was a cautionary and well thought out plan for defusing any uprising.

SOME RECENT TRIBAL REPORTS FROM AFGHANISTAN

The tribal feud thus far is in upward swing; I recently received a telephone call from someone named Mr. Burhanuddin Kushkaki, who lives in Germany.  He told me that 11 members of his family including close cousins in Eastern Afghanistan were among the dead due to a U.S. military night raid on their village of “Kushkak” in “Surkhrod” district of Nangarhar Province on May 14th 2010.  Over the telephone, he played a 20 minutes long recorded tape of his cousin who immediately reported the incident from the scene.  As I was hearing the man in the background explaining this dreadful situation, “This incident happened on the same night that Hamid Karzai was in Washington D.C. complaining about U.S. military raids on Afghan villages that caused loss of innocent lives.” He goes on, “we have done no harm to any one, and the provincial governor had no report of this incident.” Then he said, “This is a wrong intelligence report by someone who wanted to send a message to Karzai and Obama.” He then reiterated, “We are caught in a tribal feud and any able body will revengefully recruit and fight those who are killing us.” I later recalled a similar incident by the “Shinwari” tribe of “Mohmand” clan in early March 2010.

I also recently received another telephone call (on a different subject) from an acquaintance—Mr. Aman Gul Khan who is from the “Ghilzai” tribe of “Zazai” clan in Paktia province.  He said, “I along with some tribal elders including the infamous “Haji Baydar Zazai” are working very hard to elevate the ex-King Zahir Shah’s grandson, Prince Mustapha Zahir.”  He went further, “apparently nothing is working from Kandahar and we will do whatever we can to bring him in the same way we brought his great grandfather King Nader Shah to power.”  This clearly is strong opposition to Kandahar’s current tribal imbalance situation that could rise to anarchy.

Some other tribal elders are suggesting a combined government of Amir Amanullah Khan and ex-King Zahir Shah’s siblings would definitely be supported by the majority in Afghanistan.

IN CONCLUSION — WHAT SHALL WE DO?

Prince Mustafa Zahir

In a recent revealed Pentagon report; out of 121 districts critical to stabilizing Afghanistan, only 29 are sympathetic to the Afghan government.  Forty-four are neutral and another 51 are sympathetic to the insurgency.  Indeed, many people have ties—sometimes blood ties—to Taliban fighters.  Obviously the almost decade old government of Hamid Karzai and the tribal imbalance wrought by Ahamad Wali Karzai are the main causes for the downward spiral into instability.

Evidently an old-fashioned military victory in Afghanistan is impossible. This is exactly the problem for the US; The Pentagon can’t let go. The military brass can’t admit that once again they can’t win a war. Clearly there is desperation in these efforts to secure something out of this mess.

Moreover, even if there were more evidence of United States success in Afghanistan, can anyone believe that the current Afghan leadership would be able to sustain whatever gains were made?

By the way, we are stuck with the notion that Karzai is the best partner available and Mr. Obama should not be looking for anyone else. As Fareed Zakaria says, “As a Pashtun and a major figure willing to ally with the U.S., Karzai is indispensable.”

Pull out the troops, because this war can’t be won, but risk lots of blood in another civil war, and maybe a much worse and more dangerous scenario will emerge? Or shall we stay and take the risk of being trapped in a never-ending conflict, which will cost a huge amount of money, blood and tears?

What can we do?  Let’s do the only thing we can do!  Let’s have a Symposium of Afghans from around the world and do like my father’s generation, and the generations before him.  Let’s seek out immediate, mid-range, and long range solutions for Afghanistan.

1) Let’s call for an immediate truce from all sides of this conflict.

2) Let’s seek mid-range economic solutions such as Biz-Jirgah to Biz-Jirgah, and Biomass to Energy.  We can show how rubber dams can supply water for agricultural purposes and create hydropower energy for villages; but, these rubber dams must not be used to produce narcotics; any narcotics producers will lose their rubber dams to villages that obey international law; the Afghan Government should maintain these rubber dams. We will also offer software solutions for the two-year backlog of tax audits in Afghanistan. The Symposium will conclude with a Resolution Statementand an Action Plan.

3) Let’s seek long- range economic solutions by calling upon Afghans around the world to come together in one voice for peace through prosperity… and to change the current status that says that only 20% of Afghanistan’s national income comes from its people; the other 80% is coming from donor nations. This is unsustainable. We need to flip those numbers around… and to start an economic union of nations in South Asia with Afghanistan and Pakistan at its core. This economic union of nations can evolve into a multi-trillion dollar economy and bring peace and stability to the whole region.

Why fight over funds from other nations when we Afghans can build a bright future for and among ourselves.  Just look around the globe and you will see very successful Afghan’s there.  We know how to fight for what we believe in.  The problem is that we have stopped believing in ourselves as a nation.   Our best and brightest thinkers like Zalmay Khalilzad have not focus on what was best for Afghanistan, but instead, in my view, has favored the few over the many.

I have been very critical of Khalilzad lately as many others have been, and for good cause; but I would be the last person to say that he could never change.  It is men like him that we desperately need, but with a different set of core values and principles.

To Zalmay Khalilzad and every other Afghan in the world; it is time we Afghan’s stop fighting among ourselves and put our ancestral homeland ahead of our differences.  As we have learned from living in a democratic nation; we can have our differences; we can debate each other even in public, but when we are called to serve our ancestral homeland we must put those differences aside and work together for the good of all.  That’s how serious I am about solutions for Afghanistan.  I will exclude no one ahead of time (no one with blood on their hands) who is prepared to work on finding real solutions for Afghanistan.

Nelson Mandela was right in setting up a Truth Commission that allowed those who had wronged the people of South Africa to come forward, tell the painful truth, and be allowed to be reintegrated into society without retribution.  Perhaps Afghanistan should go through this process sometime down the road.  But first we have to stop the violence, bring peace, and put hope back into the minds of Afghans. I believe that once people can see, get a taste of, and believe in images of the future, they will move towards it, as John F. Kennedy knew so well.

Let’s do all this before there is a full blown civil war in Afghanistan!

Khalil Nouri is the cofounder of New World Strategies Coalition Inc., a native think tank for nonmilitary solution studies for Afghanistan. www.nwscinc.org

Khalil Nouri is a regular contributor to Opinion Maker

A BRIDGE for Democracy in Turkmenistan

A BRIDGE for Democracy in Turkmenistan

Cover

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, 19 May 2010—Turkmenistan’s continued its progress toward transparent elections with a five-day training of regional election officials. The training is a part of a United Nations Development Programme project to help Turkmenistan nurture an ongoing democratic culture.

Workshop participants received interactive training in election administration and training techniques. Topics covered included establishing election commissions, ethics, voter registration, voter education, and the role of international observers. Topics were presented through examples of election administration experiences of Australia, South Africa, Nigeria, Thailand and Poland.

The trainees—election officials from each of Turkmenistan’s five provinces —are now expected to train city and district level electoral officials in their respective provinces. Members of the Central Election Commission and the National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights also took part in the training.

“I look forward to sharing the literature and skills gained during the training with my colleagues at the district level,” Ismail Mamedov, an election official from Balkan Province, said. “I have some 20 colleagues from six city and six district election commissions who will benefit from this.”

The process of deepening economic and social structural reforms has been under way in Turkmenistan since 2008, opening doors for UNDP to engage with the Government of Turkmenistan in the area of electoral reform to stimulate a review of the electoral framework and bring current electoral practices in Turkmenistan closer to international standards. As part of this process, UNDP helped Turkmenistan to enhance its election administration capacity ahead of the parliamentary elections in 2008, elections to local self-governance bodies in 2009, and now the UNDP training comes just ahead of 2010 people’s council elections.

Launched in 2008, the initiative ‘Cooperation on Enhancing Electoral System and Processes in Turkmenistan’ aims to assist the government in deepening its democratic processes. The five-day training, known as BRIDGE (Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections) is seen as a way to make those reform efforts self-sustaining. Also as part of the project, efforts are underway to amend Turkmenistan’s electoral framework to meet international standards and establish a unified electoral code. Turkmenistan election officials also recently took part in a study tour to Hungary.
“Our project and this BRIDGE exercise are in tune with Turkmenistan’s efforts to enhance the capacity of election officials and part of the ongoing legal reform in Turkmenistan,” Narine Sahakyan, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Turkmenistan, said.

UNDP is implementing the project in partnership with the National Institute for Democracy and Human Rights with the financial support of the Government of Norway.

Asst. Sec. St. Confirms “No Competition” Between US and Russia On Pipelines

[SEE: Obama Trying To Make Rape Look Like Seduction]

“We are not trying to build a pipeline bypassing Russia”

George Krol on U.S. policy in Central Asia

Photo:Yuri Martianov / Kommersant
In Moscow, arrived in Bishkek yesterday U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary George Krol, who oversees the State Department relations with Central Asia. Prior to the talks in the Foreign Ministry and the Security Council, he met with a correspondent of Kommersant ALEXANDER GABUEVYM and tried to convince him that Moscow and Washington did not compete in this region.

- What is the agenda of your current visit to Moscow?

- I have just arrived from Bishkek, where he met with the leadership of the interim government: Rosa Otunbayeva, Almazbek Atambayev, Omurbek Tekebayev and others. I’ve also visited the south in Osh, where he met with leaders of the area and the city, Uzbek community leaders, representatives of NGOs. I arrived in Moscow for consultations with colleagues in the Foreign Ministry, the Security Council and State Duma, including Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin and special envoy of President of Russia in Kyrgyzstan, Vladimir Rushailo.

- I was in Kyrgyzstan during the revolution. And as the situation there now?

- Now the situation is generally calm in the country, in Bishkek, and even in the south of the voltage is not felt. All city services are functioning normally, the bazaars are full. Politically, of course, there is a lot of events. Members of the interim government is now trying to establish the country’s administration, but at the same time think nothing of the changes that occur in the leadership after the election. Meanwhile, in addition to concern for its own legitimacy have to deal with a mass of things, such as food and energy. After the energy crises in Kyrgyzstan occur every year. The economic situation is difficult. Kyrgyzstan – a poor country, and besides, she suffered from the global crisis. Now the members of the interim government are different political games. In short, the usual policy in the unusual time. The common people waiting for the appearance of leadership that will address issues, especially corruption, which has ruined regimes Bakiyev and Akayev.

- Do you think that this is the only factor? Bakiyev himself talked a lot about external factors.

- Anywhere in the world, as soon as there are some difficulties, all begin to blame the external factor – Russia, USA, China, just about anybody. But in most cases use the internal factors. In Kyrgyzstan, it seemed to me that most people are united by dissatisfaction with the growing influence of the family to Bakiev’s politics, economy. Parliament became increasingly controlled by the president and his family. This also added a price increase. For many people the feeling that they were kicked out of the process of governance. This applies to the opposition and ordinary people, and even law enforcement. All of them feel that they do not shape the future. It is the totality of these factors led to the well-known events, which, in my opinion, no one planned. Then began the demonstration, then overgrown in the action with violence. The regime collapsed, there was a power vacuum that the interim government has yet to be filled.

- What kind of assistance the U.S. is ready to provide interim government in Kyrgyzstan?

- The United States is working jointly with international organizations: UN, OSCE, IMF, World Bank. The U.S. continues all the programs that we implemented in Kyrgyzstan before the revolution, supporting the development of democracy, the housekeeper, free and independent media. We will provide technical support for the referendum and subsequent elections, including through the American non-governmental organizations. We sent a team of experts to Kyrgyzstan, which will assess the short-, medium-and long-term prospects for our assistance.This assistance should be directed to those areas and regions that the Kyrgyz government will take priority.

- Meanwhile, Russia has already announced the allocation of Bishkek immediately $ 20 million to Moscow was the first to recognize the interim government. Are not you afraid that because of the slowness of the United States will lose the struggle for influence in Kyrgyzstan?

- You talk about the struggle for influence. But we do not see any struggle. No new big game, which is so often write, no. We are not fighting for influence in Kyrgyzstan, with Russia, nor with any other country. That is why I am now in Moscow. And we always kept in touch and discuss with each other in the region. And now the U.S. is trying to coordinate assistance so that all we did not do the same. We welcome the steps that Russia is doing in Kyrgyzstan. She’s great interests: economic, commercial and military. We also have interests there. But the interaction in Kyrgyzstan – it is not rivalry, but a good example of cooperation. For example, when our presidents met in Prague, they are particularly talking about Kyrgyzstan and, in my opinion, it was an initiative of your President. Our two countries are interested in stability, not only in Kyrgyzstan, but also throughout Central Asia.

- You argue that there is no rivalry. But what about the air base at Manas? After all, Moscow sought its withdrawal. For example, in the Security Council of Russia said that in Kyrgyzstan should be one air base – Russia’s.

- Well, they’re right. In Kyrgyzstan, only one air base – Russian in Kant. And we have at Manas – International transit center. This is not a military air base, and this is the essence of our agreements with the Kyrgyz government. There are no combat aircraft. This is only the center for the transfer of coalition forces in Afghanistan, and from it. And we have always been very transparent on this issue, including Russia, with China and with all other countries. Of course, we understand that the presence of U.S. troops in Central Asia worries many in Moscow. And this is understandable. But the most important question: whether it will be a constant presence?And my answer – no. It will not be a permanent facility, even as a transit center. We are not going to turn our Manas military base. The Centre is there only to supply the needs of the coalition in Afghanistan. We do not have plans for the creation of any American military bases in Central Asia.

- So as soon as the operation in Afghanistan is completed, all these facilities will be withdrawn?

- This is our plan. We hope that the situation in Afghanistan stabilizes in the near future. So the need for U.S. presence in the region, and any other foreign troops are unnecessary.

- You were discussing the fate of the Manas during his visit to Bishkek?

- No, because we have no disagreement on this issue. Kyrgyzstan holds a signed agreement.And we too. The U.S. has all the payments specified in the agreement last year, which is also a source of revenue for the country. When the interim government came to power, they immediately gave us a clear understanding that they are ready to continue this cooperation.

- Are not you afraid that the new government to be elected in October, wish to terminate the agreement?

- Agreement may be revised at any time either party. It provides a procedure under which terminate the Agreement shall notify the other party for six months. Accordingly, to six months to turn an object. But in the case of the interim government that will not happen.

- Will you discuss this issue in Moscow?

- I am here to answer any questions that may arise from my Russian colleagues. We work together and not against each other. And we must try to, and outwardly it was not like the competition. Because this attempt to bleed us can be played by various forces both within Kyrgyzstan and external players.

- For external players you mean China?

- No, we are nothing like the Chinese did not hear. We discuss all our relationships in Central Asia and with China and answering their questions.

- When George W. Bush in Central Asia, the war was active pipelines. Will the U.S. continue to participate in them?

- We do not see any competition on the routes of energy flows from Central Asia. We do not try to build some kind of pipe to bypass Russia. The issue is that in the region enormous reserves of gas and oil. And in order to effectively deliver them to markets, need a variety of routes.Looking for new routes at the same time it is necessary to increase the volume of supply to existing ones. Of course, the main route of transportation of energy will always go through Russia. It is effective, it already exists, there is an opportunity to build up the amount of flow.But because the hydrocarbons in the region so much, it would be advisable to have several ways to transport them in different directions. Often, all this trying to submit as a contest, but in reality we do not want to harm the interests of Russia in the region. Just need a diversified system of pipelines, which will serve the interests of the U.S. and Russia, as well as companies – Gazprom “, Exxon Mobil, Chevron. The main thing is that all these pipes were effective from a commercial point of view. All companies want to make a profit, so that the pipe-laying – is a commercial decision and not solely political.

- Then what explains that in 2007 a grant to develop a feasibility study for Trans-Caspian pipeline has allocated U.S. State Department? Washington now supports this project?

- In any case, it makes sense to study this project because it provides an opportunity to diversify the direction of gas supplies. In Turkmenistan, the huge gas reserves. Of course, it still has to work with Azerbaijan on the issue of demarcation of the Caspian Sea. At that time it was only a proposal to provide technical assistance to all to understand whether the project has meaning. But this was not an attempt to develop a route that led to the resources of the pipeline crossing the territory of Russia.

- The Russian-American relations now are “reset”. Raised whether it is Central Asia?

- I work in post-Soviet space for over 20 years and watching the transformation of our policies.During this time the U.S. and Russia have found the opportunity to speak, understand each other, rather than exercising political rhetoric. We should respect each other’s interests, all the painful point in our countries and the region. And the dialogue, which now leads the Presidents Medvedev and Obama, a completely new phenomenon. Take the same Kyrgyzstan. We work together, and in a very difficult situation. We and you have a domestic political context, a lot of stereotypes about each other, but I hope that our government will cope with this. That concrete cooperation, which so long ago to us, and the world. The Cold War finally ended. Take the parade on Red Square – it’s magical. For America in general is very important to understand the role played by the peoples of the USSR in the end this terrible conflict. Similarly, for Russia it is important to understand what role the war played the U.S. and other coalition allies.

- In Central Asia, now has a new powerful player – China. As the United States are strengthening the position of Beijing in the region?

- You are absolutely right, China’s influence in the region is growing rapidly, especially in the economy. You go to the market in any Central Asian country, and it will be swamped with Chinese products. And they built the gas pipeline from Turkmenistan to China! They had great interests of the region, so that China must also play an important role. Therefore, we are working with China in Central Asia, as well as with Russia.

- “Restart” in Central Asia is clearly affected not only relations with Russia. Recently, for example, dramatically warmed your relationship with Uzbekistan. The United States has forgotten about the Andijan shootings?

- Andijan – a tragedy that should not happen again. Understanding the causes of this conflict is very important for the people and Government of Uzbekistan to understand how to deal with such incidents, such as attempts to revolt. All this is very sensitive domestic issues in Uzbekistan. The U.S. has always been open in their desire to help find out what really happened. The emotions of that period had already subsided. The U.S. has always sought to mutual understanding and mutually beneficial cooperation with Uzbekistan. Tashkent wants to have strong economic and political contacts with us. He plays a very important and constructive role in Afghanistan, in Kabul, electricity comes from Uzbekistan, they are providing humanitarian assistance. United States respects it. So recently we began annual consultations with Uzbekistan, the first round of which took place in November last year. We are looking for ways of how to work together.

Taliban Symbolic Attacks Tarnish American “Warrior” Image

A Mini-Offensive in Afghanistan

The Taliban’s New Threat to NATO

By Ulrike Demmer and Matthias Gebauer

Four high-ranking NATO soldiers were killed in a bloody attack in Kabul on May 18.

DPA

Four high-ranking NATO soldiers were killed in a bloody attack in Kabul on May 18.

The Taliban recently conducted three spectacular strikes against American forces in Afghanistan within the space of a few days. The attacks are creating negative headlines for NATO forces and making it difficult for them to notch up the important successes they need to build support for the deployment back home.

The sign on the sports field reads: “Clean up after using.” But there is no one to be found playing volleyball here on this Sunday morning, and no one is cleaning up either. The field is closed. Two American soldiers are staring at a pile of boards located behind red-and-white barricade tape. The wooden planks are stained with blood.

The site looked different on Saturday. The planks were part of stairs where people used to take coffee breaks. The sports field is surrounded by businesses — there’s the Mamma Mia pizzeria, the United Afghan Carpet company, Green Beans World Café — and all were connected by a veranda. Just after 8 p.m., one of five rockets that had been fired by insurgents at the Kandahar NATO base struck its intended target. Several NATO soldiers and civilian workers were injured.

The missiles struck the ISAF troops in southern Afghanistan in precisely the place where the soldiers were seeking to forget about the war for a few minutes. The four other rockets only caused damage to property. Still, the headlines created by the third Taliban attack in the space of just a few days make uncomfortable reading for NATO. The Taliban, one general conceded, are showing, at the very least, that they are still around.

The insurgents attacked the airport at Kandahar just after sunset. The Kandahar Airfield is so big that it would take a quarter of an hour for a car to cross it from one end to the other. Around 25,000 soldiers live and work here. The base is the staging ground for the last attempt by the alliance to defeat the Taliban. The fresh soldiers being deployed by US President Barack Obama are sent into battle from here.

The tarmac is divided into zones, from A to Z. In Zone W for Whiskey, four airplanes are currently awaiting clearance for takeoff. Flight 073 to Kabul, a Hercules, is full. US solders sit shoulder to shoulder, squeezed into the cargo area of the dark green transport aircraft. Most have their eyes closed. The oppressive heat is only tolerable in body armour if you remain motionless.

War-Like Conditions on Base

It is around 8:45 p.m. when a soldier who is part of the crew on the Hercules hollers: “Is there anybody with ammunition on board?” Three soldiers who are carrying weapons stand up. Rumors circulate of a rocket attack by insurgents, and confirmation follows shortly. Through the loudspeakers over the tarmac, one can hear: “KAF is under ground attack — take shelter in place — force protection are dealing with the situation.”

As the soldiers leave the Hercules and make their way to the bunker, the skies over the tarmac light up as if with fireworks. Six Apache attack helicopters are firing tracer bullets over Zone W, the thunder of an A-10 fighter jet can be heard and sirens are going off.

“Insurgents have fired on the camp with rockets,” says one general. Later it will be reported that 12 ISAF troops were injured and three insurgents were shot as they tried to penetrate the base from the northern edge of the camp.

Meanwhile in the bunker, an interpretation of the attacks is already being discussed. People are saying that, the attack on Kandahar Airfield, the largest base in southern Afghanistan, wasn’t so bad, relatively speaking. In other words, it wasn’t very big, it wasn’t planned very well and it wasn’t as hard to stop as the attack conducted by a handful of suicide bombers against Bagram, the largest US base in Afghanistan, just four days earlier.

It took hours for the US Army to stop attackers at the perimeter of the gigantic Bagram base. Although none of the insurgents breached the perimeter, the skirmishes lasted from midnight to early morning and the Taliban managed to kill an American contractor.

Part 2: The Taliban’s Logistics Appear to Be Working

And on May 18, a suicide attack against a convoy in Kabul resulted in many deaths, including four high-ranking US officers. Two colonels and two lieutenant colonels, more or less the leadership of the US Mountain Warriors from Camp Julien, died in the attack. It had been a long time since the Taliban had succeeded in such a serious strike against the US Army.

The Taliban, which had largely been quiet in recent weeks, have made a formidable comeback. The most one had heard about them previously was that the US Army had detained a mid-range Taliban commander in the south, eliminated a weapons depot or that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had boldly repeated that he wanted to negotiate with the insurgents.

Western intelligence services share the assessment that the attack on Kandahar was largely symbolic. “Naturally this isn’t about a group of fighters trying to capture a base with thousands of soldiers,” says one NATO insider. “The attacks merely served to show their determination.” With their three attacks on Kabul, Baghram and Kandahar, the insurgents certainly succeeded in doing that.

The detailed analysis of the two attacks that preceded the one in Kandahar are sobering. The intelligence services are assuming that a network of one of the most dangerous warlords in Afghanistan, the jihadist legend Jalaluddin Haqqani, dispatched a whole handful of teams of suicide attackers to Kabul to strike American targets. Three Pakistan nationals who had been arrested the day before the attack on the American convoy at the southern edge of the city, and who had hidden explosive vests in the trunk of their vehicle, confessed this after lengthy interrogations.

If the reports of their Afghan colleagues are true, then they provide evidence of the group’s advanced logistical ability. The Haqqani network, which operates relatively freely from the area surrounding the eastern Afghan city of Khost, appears to have dispatched its teams to Kabul from all directions. None of the young Pakistani men knew what had been planned for them. They were first given their deadly instructions in one of the group’s hideouts near the scene of the attack.

Summer 2010 Will Be Decisive

The developments must be especially troubling for the head of the NATO forces. US General Stanley McChrystal knows that summer 2010 will be decisive for his ambitious new strategy as well as his own career. At the very latest, President Obama wants to be able to show at least a small success by the end of the year. Other NATO partners are also under intense domestic political pressure to demonstrate progress in Afghanistan.

Steps toward that goal are expected soon. In the coming weeks, NATO wants to restore the authority of the Kabul government in the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar. But the insurgents have already announced their own offensive, too. If they follow up their threats with action, in the form of hard-to-prevent attacks like those conducted in recent days, then the situation could get very difficult for the alliance. It is hard to counter images of devastated streets with news of minor successes in the south.

For his part, McChrystal is not allowing himself to be influenced by the attacks. But while he may express optimism publicly, McChrystal’s advisers are preparing for the inevitable: If the Taliban is under significant military pressure both in northern and southern Afghanistan, they are likely to switch tactics and carry out more symbolic attacks.

One day after the Kandahar incident, General McChrystal said that the “attacks were not operationally effective.” He and his forces are preparing for possible further attacks in Kabul, a city that is by no means safe.

Attacks like those which took place last week will have to be prevented at all costs during the upcoming peace jirga at the beginning of June and also at the international Kabul Conference to be hosted by Karzai. Such attacks would not bring the Taliban a military victory — but politically they would be a nightmare.

The Shaky State of Indian Supplied Saeed/Mumbai Evidence

India fails to vet Saeed evidence

DC Correspondent

May 27: There appears to be a twist to the Hafiz Saeed tale, which has so far been about India supplying the needed proof to nail his role as a prime mover in the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, but Pakistan treating this as “literature,” rather than “evidence” and refusing to put him away on that basis.

When the Pakistan Supreme Court threw out the case against the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba founder, saying the evidence was not good enough, the foreign secretary, Ms Nirupama Rao, expressed “disappointment” and said all Indians would be disappointed. She urged the Pakistan government to be sensitive to Indian concerns and do more. However, top-level sources, who declined to be identified, appeared to give the benefit of the doubt to the Pakistan judiciary.

“We seem to be in the habit of passing on to Islamabad whatever the (intelligence) agencies are able to put together, without vetting it for its evidentiary value. This is the old Dawood Ibrahim syndrome, when Mr L.K. Advani was the home minister. Then we went to the extent of staking India-Pakistan relations on Pakistan handing Dawood over to us on the basis of the so-called evidence we supplied.”

They noted that the external affairs minister and the Prime Minister had maintained that in the interest of good-neighbourly relations Pakistan should not allow Mr Saeed to roam free as he was in the habit of inciting people to attack India, but these leaders had not staked their reputation on the evidence value of the dossiers on Mr Saeed given to Islamabad.

ISI/JUD Water Alliance–Legitimizing Anti-India Jihad

Saeed-Pak establishment nexus clear from new ‘water-war’ anti-India campaign

Washington, May 28 (ANI): Despite its public stance of wanting a truce with long-time ‘rival’ neighbour, experts have pointed out that the Pakistangovernment has devised a new strategy to continue its traditional ‘proxy war’ through extremists against India.

Pakistani militant groups, particularly the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and the banned Jamaat-ud-Daawa (JuD), under the guidance of country’s security establishments have now adopted the long pending river water sharing issue as a tool to aid their nefarious aims.

The water issue touches millions of Pakistanis, and that is why militant leaders like the JuD chief Hafeez Mohammed Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 terror attacks, have been raising the matter amidst people to incite feelings and gain support against the ‘anti-India’ movement.

Saeed recently led a protest of thousands of farmers in Lahore carrying placards which read :”Water Flows or Blood”, which clearly suggested the motives of the ‘jihadi’ organisations.

Analysts underlined that Saeed’s use of the water issue demonstrates his long-standing links to Pakistan’s powerful security establishment, elements of which do not favour peacemaking, The Washington Post reports.

“Hafiz Saeed is trying to echo the establishment’s line. The government is trying to shift the focus of Kashmir as part of a jihadist thing . . . to an existential issue,” said Rifaat Hussain, a professor of security studies at Qaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad.

The LeT has taken its fight against India beyond Kashmir to stage attacks in Afghanistan and work with militant organizations in Pakistan’s northwest, but Saeed in particular has sought to uphold the group’s Kashmir-focused reputation, making water a bit of a departure, the newspaper said.

Blaming India for the water crisis in the country is meant to ‘inflame public passions’ at a time when it appeared that the Pakistanis were starting to denounce terrorism, the paper said. (ANI)

Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Roza Revolution’–Cui Bono? (Part 2)

Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Roza Revolution’ – Cui Bono? (Part 2)

China and the Kyrgyz geopolitical future
by F. William Engdahl*

Continuing with F. William Engdhal’s analysis of what is playing out in this coveted Central Asian region, part two examines China’s geopolitical interest regarding fellow SCO member Kyrgyzstan. Triggering the 2005 Tulip Revolution were, inter alia, the economic ties between the two countries which had grown too close for Washington’s comfort. Today, China’s economic clout remains its strongest weapon in aiming not only to consolidate its foothold in Kyrgyzstan, but also to offset the destabilising effect of the U.S. military presence in that country and in the region.

Part 1: Kyrgyzstan as a Geopolitical Pivot

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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (R) shakes hands with former Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Igor V. Chudinov during a welcoming ceremony for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit held at the Great Hall of the People on October 14, 2009 in Beijing, China. Wen gave a red-carpet welcome ceremony for Chudinov, who was the first Kyrgyz Prime Minister to visit China in the past 16 years.
(Photo By Pool/Getty Images)

China’s growing economic ties to the cash-strapped regime of former Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev was a major reason Washington decided to dump its erstwhile ally Akayev after almost a decade of support. In June 2001 China, along with Russia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, signed the Declaration creating the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Three days later Beijing announced a large grant to Kyrgyzstan for military equipment [1] .

After 11 September 2001, the Pentagon began what has been called the greatest shake-up in America’s overseas military deployments since the end of the Second World War. The goal was to position US forces along an ’arc of instability’ going through the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia and southern Asia [2].

Akayev at the time offered to lease to the Pentagon its largest military base in the region at Manas. China, which shares a border with Kyrgyzstan was alarmed and, together with Russia, steered the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to oppose it, and to call for ending US military bases in Central Asia.

According to the Wall Street Journal, China was also engaged in secret negotiations for its own base in Kyrgyzstan and for border changes that ignited a political storm against Akayev in March 2002.

The Journal’s Philip Shishkin noted, “Akayev’s moves to align Kyrgyzstan with China through ‘Silk Road diplomacy’ and suppression of the Uighur guerrillas – explained mainly by his desperate need of finances to stem the tail-spinning domestic economy – upset Washington, which saw Beijing as a thorn in its strategic expansion agenda” [3].

Shishkin added, “The American perspective on this dangerous development went as follows: ‘Given the 1,100-kilometer border between Kyrgyzstan and China – and Washington’s already considerable foothold in nearby Uzbekistan and Tajikistan – the fall of the China-friendly government of disgraced president Askar Akayev would be no small victory for the ’containment policy’” [4].

At that point Washington launched massive financing via theNational Endowment for Democracy and used the resources of the Albert Einstein Institute and Freedom House as well as the State Department and IMF to topple the now-unreliable Akayev regime in the 2005 Tulip Revolution [5].

Understandably, one of the major interested parties in the political future of Kyrgyzstan today is China. Kyrgyzstan shares a 530 mile border with China, straddling the politically sensitive Xinjiang Province.

Xinjiang Province is where riots in July 2009 by ethnic Uighurs were supported by the US-financed World Uighur Congress of millionaire “ex-laundress” Rebiya Kadeer, and by Washington’s regime-changing NGO, the National Endowment for Democracy.

Xinjiang, also bordering the sensitive Chinese Tibet Autonomous Region, is a vital crossroads for energy pipelines into China from Kazakhstan and ultimately Russia, and is home to major domestic Chinese oil production [6].

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A China-Kazakhstan pipeline junction. A new pipeline is being built, expanding the existing oil transfer capacity to 400,000 barrels per day. In 1997 China and Kazakhstan signed a pact forming the Sino-Kazakh Oil Pipeline Co. Ltd., a joint venture between the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and KazMunaiGas which had as its stated goal pipeline running from the Caspian Sea to Xinjiang.

The borders between Kyrgyzstan and China’s Xinjiang are porous, and the flow of people between Xinjiang in China and Kyrgyzstan is considerable. There are an estimated 30,000 Chinese nationals, including Uighurs, living in Kyrgyzstan. Almost 100,000 ethnic Kyrgyz live in Xinjiang.

In short, US military outposts in Kyrgyzstan have far more significance to Chinese national security than the mere resupply of the Afghan war theatre. It is an ideal breeding ground for US intelligence agencies and for the Pentagon to run covert destabilizing operations into China’s strategically vital and politically fragile Xinjiang. The flow of people back and forth between the two countries provides excellent cover for US-run espionage and possible sabotage [7] .

According to retired Indian Ambassador, K. Gajendra Singh, now heading the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies in New Delhi, the Bakiyev regime permitted the US military to use its facilities at Manas Airbase, including highly sophisticated electronic devices, among other purposes, to also monitor key Chinese missile and military sites in Xinjiang [8].

Further adding to concerns in Beijing over US actions inside Kyrgyzstan is the Pentagon’s new Northern Distribution Network (NDN), created ostensibly to supply the Afghanistan war.

The NDN runs through Tajikstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Many in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization region suspect that the NDN will be used by the Pentagon to encourage spread attacks by groups like the ‘Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan’ or the ‘Islamic Jihad Union’ and the murky Hizb ut-Tahrir movement – all of which are clustered within the Ferghana Valley between Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan [9].

Beijing is no passive observer in the Kyrgyzstan events. It will clearly play its strongest card, the economic one, to secure closer and far more friendly relations with any new Kyrgyz government.

At the June 2009 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Ekaterinburg Russia, China’s President Hu Jintao pledged a fund of $10 billion in future aid to the Central Asian member nations of Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Nothing Washington has promised to Kyrgyzstan comes even close to those sums.

In one of its first statements, the provisional Kyrgyz Deputy Head, Omurbek Tekebayev, told Russian media that they regarded China among the country’s strategic partners: “The foreign policy will change…Russia, Kazakhstan and other neighbors including China will remain our strategic partners” [10].

One project that the Chinese strategic partner is likely to accelerate in order to weld a closer strategic partnership with its Kyrgyz neighbor is Beijing’s announced plan to build a vast high-speed Eurasian rail grid.

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The Eurasia Land Bridge that will go through Kazakhstan is now under construction. It is one of the highway construction projects that will link Western Europe with West China. The use of this bridge will make it easier to transport goods from China to Europe and also easier for equipment that will be used for the China-Kazakhstan projects to be brought from Europe to China.

China’s Ministry of Railways has unveiled one of the world’s most ambitious infrastructure projects. The rail link will connect Xinjiang via Kyrgyzstan, ultimately to Germany and even on to London by 2025.

China’s plans include linking the China-Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan railway into the Eurasian high-speed rail corridor.

China is also building twelve new highways to economically tie Kyrgyzstan and its neighbors by modern roadways with Xinjiang. At some point US militarization of Kyrgyzstan becomes a Chinese national security threat. An economic counter move by China to increase its presence in the country is now clearly on the table [11] .

As further indication of Beijing’s concern to have stability in its neighborhood, China has recently stepped up its economic activities in Afghanistan.

President Hu Jintao talks with visiting Afghanistan counterpart Hamid Karzai after a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People on 24 March 2010. China has announced more investment in Afghanistan and pledged to continue aiding reconstruction efforts in the war-torn neighboring country.
[Wu Zhiyi/ China Daily]

As friction increases between Afghan President Karzai and the Obama Administration, relations are clearly warming with Karzai and Beijing. On March 24, Hamid Karzai and Chinese President Hu Jintao signed new economic agreements in Beijing on trade and investment, while agreeing to strengthen triangular cooperation with Pakistan, which traditionally has had close ties to China.

The March 24 agreements reportedly cover China’s investments in Afghanistan’s hydroelectric, mining, railway, construction, and energy projects.

China is already the largest investor in the Afghan economy. Its Metallurgical Group Corporation won a bid in 2007 to invest $3.5 billion in Afghanistan’s Aynak copper mine –one of the largest in the world [12].

And another prize plum is the possibility for Chinese companies to develop Afghanistan’s estimated 1.6 billion barrels of oil and 440 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas, as well as large deposits of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, iron ore and gold [13].

For China, both Afghanistan and Pakistan are part of its key transportation and trade links to Iran. Beijing has completed a port at Gwadar in Pakistan, allowing it to import 60 percent of its oil coming from the Middle East. China now plans to connect the Gwadar Port with Xinjiang through Afghanistan to secure a more efficient delivery of energy resources to fuel its booming economy. Stability in Kyrgyzstan is essential to China in this broader context [14].

In our next part we examine the essential geopolitical importance of Kyrgyzstan for Russia, the second geopolitical player in the new three-dimensional chess game for control of Eurasia’s land space and its economic and political future.

 F. William Engdahl
Author of Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation.. He also authored A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press). His latest book is Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press).

ORGANIZED ATTACK UPON TWO AHMADI MOSQUES IN LAHORE

[IN AN ISLAMIC NATION, WHICH HAS A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT THAT BRANDS AN ENTIRE MUSLIM SECT "NOT MUSLIMS," IT WAS JUST A MATTER OF TIME BEFORE QADIANIS (AHMADIYA) WERE ATTACKED AS IF THEY WERE SHIITES.

CONSTITUTION (SECOND AMENDMENT) ACT, 1974

3- Amendment of Article 260 of the Constitution.
In the Constitution, in Article 260, after clause (2) the following new clause shall be added, namely--

(3) A person who does not believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of The Prophethood of MUHAMMAD (Peace be upon him), the last of the Prophets or claims to be a Prophet, in any sense of the word or of any description whatsoever, after MUHAMMAD (Peace be upon him), or recognizes such a claimant as a Prophet or religious reformer, is not a Muslim for the purposes of the Constitution or law." ]

2 minority sect mosques attacked in Pakistan

LAHORE, Pakistan — Gunmen armed with grenades attacked two mosques of a minority Islamic sect during Friday prayers in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore, police said. Casualties were expected.

The attacks were against the Ahmadi group, which radical Sunni groups have targeted in the past, though never on such a large scale or coordinated fashion.

Dunya TV showed one of the attackers atop the minaret of one of the mosques, firing an assault rifle and throwing hand grenades.

The mosques were several miles (kilometers) apart from each other, police officer Haider Ashraf said.

Officers outside one of the mosques in the Garhi Shahu district of Lahore were engaged in a fierce gunfight with the attackers, an Associated Press reporter at the scene said.

Pakistan has seen scores of attacks by groups of Islamist militants against government, Western and security force targets over the past three years. Lahore, the second largest city in the country and a vital a military and political center, has been the scene of several.

Many Islamist militants believe it is permissible or honorable to kill non-Muslims, or even those Muslims who do not share their extreme views.

The Ahmadis call themselves Muslims but believe their founder declared himself a prophet centuries after Muhammad, who other Muslims believe was the final prophet. They have long been subject to informal and state-sanctioned discrimination in Pakistan.

The government has declared them a non-Muslim minority and they are prohibited from calling themselves Muslims or engaging in Muslim practices such as reciting Islamic prayers.

Maoists suspected of sabotaging India train, 65 dead

Main Image

(Reuters) – Maoist rebels are suspected of sabotaging a high-speed train in eastern India on Friday, killing at least 65 people after it smashed into the path of a goods train, officials said.

Maoists suspected of sabotaging India train, 65 dead

NEW DELHI

spected of sabotaging a high-speed train in eastern India on Friday, killing at least 65 people after it smashed into the path of a goods train, officials said.

Local television showed the mangled wreckage of capsized carriages across the tracks and the death toll could rise as many passengers were still trapped. At least 200 people were injured.

“As of now we have got information that 65 dead bodies have been recovered. There may be many more,” Samar Ghosh, Home Secretary of West Bengal state where the incident occurred told NDTV news channel.

Railway Minister Mamata Banerjee said a bomb had hit the train, but police said they were also looking at other sabotage methods such as the removal of the tracks’ “fish plates.”

“From whatever I have been told the apprehension is the Maoists were involved,” Banerjee said.

The crash occurred in an area known to be a stronghold of Maoist rebels. Maoists, who say they are fighting for the rights of the poor and landless, have attacked trains in the past and have stepped up attacks in recent months.

“The driver heard a loud noise which indicates there could be a blast. A detail investigation will reveal more, but definitely there was lot of tinkering done to the tracks,” Vivek Sahay, a senior railway official, told reporters.

“It was definitely sabotage.”

West Bengal official Ghosh said a portion of the tracks was found missing.

The Maoists number thousands of fighters across swathes of eastern and central India. In April, 76 police were killed in an ambush in one of the heaviest tolls in years.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described the insurgency as India’s biggest internal security challenge and his Congress-led government has been under increasing political pressure to deal with the insurgents.

TRAPPED PASSENGERS

The Gyaneshwari Express, which was going to Mumbai from the eastern metropolis of Kolkata in West Bengal state, was derailed in the state’s Jhargram area at around 1:30 a.m. (2000 GMT).

“The cries of women and children from inside the compartments have died down. They (railway staff) are still struggling to cut through metal and bring out those trapped inside,” Amitava Rath, a local journalist at the scene of the crash, told Reuters.

A reporter of the Telegraph newspaper described a scene of chaos and panic at the site. “Rescuers are struggling to save the survivors and get the bodies out,” Naresh Jana told Reuters.

“I can see body parts hanging out of the compartments and under the wheels. I can hear people, women, crying for help from inside the affected coaches.”

The incident comes days after a passenger airliner crashed in southern India, killing 158 people, underscoring safety issues and concern that India’s aging infrastructure was failing to keep pace with an economic boom.

The Maoists had called a “black week” to condemn what they call police atrocities against innocent villagers and for an immediate halt to an armed campaign against them in India.

In March, police suspected their hand in the derailment of India’s most prestigious high-speed Rajdhani Express. Maoists have also taken over trains in past years in a show of strength, holding them for hours.

The rebels, who often attack police, government buildings and infrastructure such as railway stations, have in recent months stepped up attacks in response to a government security offensive to clear them out of their jungle bases.

The decades-old movement is now present in a third of the country. They are mostly spread in rural pockets of 20 of India’s 28 states and hurt potential business worth billions of dollars.

(Writing by Krittivas Mukherjee; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Michael Perry)

Egypt Leads Charge For Nuclear Free Middle East

Nuclear treaty talks on brink of failure: diplomats

UNITED NATIONS
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures in Kerman, 1,064 km (661 miles) south of Tehran, May 26, 2010. REUTERS/Fars News/Hamed Malekpour
Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gestures in Kerman, 1,064 km (661 miles) south of Tehran, May 26, 2010. REUTERS/Fars News/Hamed Malekpour

(Reuters) – Talks on shoring up the global anti-nuclear arms treaty were on the edge of failure on Friday as the United States and its allies clashed with Egypt over a push to pressure Israel to scrap any atom bombs it has.

For a month the 189 signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty have been meeting in New York in hopes of agreeing on a plan to shore up the troubled pact, which analysts say has been hit by Iran‘s and North Korea’s atomic programs and failure by the nuclear powers to disarm.

The latest draft of a final declaration for the NPT review conference calls for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to organize a meeting of all Middle Eastern states in 2012 on how to make the region free of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) as demanded by a 1995 NPT resolution.

The creation of a WMD-free zone would eventually force Israel to abandon any atomic bombs it has. The Jewish state, which like nuclear-armed India and Pakistan never signed the NPT, is presumed to have a sizable nuclear arsenal but neither confirms nor denies it. Israel is not participating in the NPT meeting.

In a radical departure from the previous U.S. administration, President Barack Obama’s negotiators had agreed to join the NPT’s other four official nuclear powers — Britain, France,Russia and China — in backing such a conference while encouraging reluctant Israel to participate.

The five permanent U.N. Security Council members and a group of Arab states led by Egypt are close to a deal that would make the 2012 conference happen, delegates say. But the two sides have reached an impasse on the question of whether Israel should be named in the declaration as a problem state.

The Egyptians insist the declaration must state explicitly that Israel should join the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state, but the Americans are refusing, diplomats said.

LAST-MINUTE COMPROMISE?

One Western diplomat familiar with the talks described the situation as “not looking too hopeful.”

He said there was a “stark choice for the Arabs — name and shame Israel or have a conference in 2012 to move forward the 1995 promise … toward a WMD-free zone in the Mideast.”

“My bet is their (the Arabs’) short-term political needs will trump their long-term strategic interest,” he said.

Other delegates confirmed the possibility that the NPT review conference would fail to agree on a final declaration because of disagreements on the Middle East question, repeating what happened at the last NPT review conference in 2005.

But diplomats said they hoped the United States and Egypt — the key players in the Middle East negotiations — would strike a last-minute compromise that salvaged the conference.

“We’ve worked so hard for the past month,” one diplomat said. “We’ve got a strong draft that would strengthen all three pillars of the NPT — disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful use of nuclear energy. It shouldn’t be thrown away.”

Western diplomats said Israel had reluctantly agreed to attend the 2012 conference but only on condition that it not be “named and shamed” in the final declaration.

Iran‘s envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Tehran’s chief delegate, accused the United States of causing the impasse at the NPT talks. Apart from the Middle East WMD-free zone, he said Washington and the other nuclear powers had rejected key demands of Iran and the other non-aligned developing nations.

Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said those demands were for a precise deadline for nuclear powers to disarm, a call for negotiations on a treaty banning the use of atomic arms, and a pledge from the five nuclear powers not to use atomic bombs on states without them, known as a “negative security assurance.”

“The nuclear weapon states, particularly the United States, have not cooperated to find a solution for these four main issues,” Soltanieh told reporters, adding that the NPT talks had reached a deadlock.

If the nuclear powers refuse to compromise, “they should be blamed for consequences,” Soltanieh said, adding that Tehran was prepared to block a declaration that it viewed as too weak. Since NPT meetings make decisions by consensus, Iran has a virtual veto.

(Editing by Bill Trott)

US Domination Over Non-Proliferation Treaty Threatens To Scuttle UN Nuclear Conference

UN nuclear conference gets last-minute draft statement

Photos


United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon (2R) at a Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference (Photo: AP)

UNITED NATIONS : A month-long UN nuclear conference took up a new draft final document in its final 24 hours in a last-ditch bid to resolve a stalemate that has blocked moves on the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for a decade.

Conference president Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines presented the draft to a plenary session on Thursday, reviewing the 189-nation NPT at United Nations headquarters.

“The document before you is the best that can be offered” amid conflicting national demands, he said.

At stake is a reaffirmation of the validity of the NPT treaty, which since 1970 has set the global agenda for fighting the spread of nuclear weapons.

The NPT is in crisis over how to monitor suspect nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, and how to get nuclear weapons states to honor their treaty promise on disarmament.

The NPT bargain is that weapon states move to disarm while others forgo seeking the bomb in return for getting help to develop peaceful nuclear programs.

Nuclear powers and non-nuclear-weapon states, represented by the non-aligned movement, clashed here Wednesday over how to get rid of atomic arms.

Non-aligned states suggested some 200 amendments to an earlier draft statement, particularly to get nuclear weapon states to accept the principle of putting a time limit on achieving disarmament, diplomats told AFP.

Nuclear powers Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States reject this.

Approval of a final text, which must be by consensus, would not be a cure-all for the world’s nuclear proliferation problems, but it would mark a new tone of cooperation.

It also would be a success for US President Barack Obama’s ambitious non-proliferation agenda which favors multilateral diplomacy and is a marked departure from the confrontational tactics of his predecessor George W. Bush.

A solution of the diplomatic battles that have set the world’s nuclear haves against the have-nots may come in the carefully crafted new draft that lays out action plans for disarmament, for verifying nuclear programs to keep them peaceful, for promoting the civilian use of atomic energy and for creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East.

The action plans take up 11 pages of the 28-page new draft. The remaining review, which is full of controversial items, is expected not to be adopted since there is not enough time for debate. It will be expressed in a presidential summary, diplomats told AFP.

The plenary must approve the action plans within 24 hours since the conference is due to end at 6pm (2200 GMT) Friday.

The conference has been deadlocked, raising fears of a repeat of the disaster of the previous NPT gathering in 2005 when there was no agreement and no final text. Reviews are held every five years.

“Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,” a Western official cautioned, but he and others expressed confidence the conference was on track to a positive conclusion.

Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, however, told reporters that Iran could not accept the text unless the date of 2025 was set “to eliminate all nuclear weapons,” something which is not in the disarmament action plan.

Perhaps the most contentious issue is the creation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East, first proposed at the 1995 conference.

The United States and Egypt have spearheaded talks between nuclear powers and non-aligneds to find a way forward on this matter.

Israel — widely understood to be the region’s lone if undeclared nuclear power — opposes a zone until there is peace in the Middle East but might agree to a non-binding conference, diplomats said.

The draft calls for a conference in 2012 “to be attended by all states of the Middle East, leading to the establishment¨ of a zone.

Iran was not named in this part of the draft despite being in defiance of UN resolutions for it to prove its civil nuclear work does not hide bomb development.

Western states had wanted Iran singled out but do not want to sabotage the chance of a consensus. – AFP/jy

Nation Set To Correct Obama Mistake

Poll: Americans say GOP can better handle threats to U.S.

By Susan Page, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Americans are increasingly optimistic about the economy, but that brightening outlook hasn’t softened their outrage over the country’s direction and its political leadership, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.

Two-thirds of those surveyed this week describe themselves as “angry” about the way things are going in the USA, the highest percentage in the decade the question has been asked. By nearly 2-1, they would rather vote for a candidate who has never served in Congress over one with experience.

“We’re just going to have to clean house and get people in who really care about the country,” says Stephen Besz, 63, of Hokendauqua, Penn., who was among those called in the poll. He worries about the future for his son, an electrical engineer who has been looking for a job for 18 months.

On Memorial Day weekend, incumbents in general and Democrats in particular face a hot summer.

The nation’s mood hasn’t eased even though attitudes on the economy have begun to turn around. About half of Americans rated the economy as “poor” in April and May, not a glowing appraisal but the lowest percentage since the economic meltdown in September 2008. Half say it’s getting better, the highest level of optimism in six years.

“I wouldn’t say bad, but you can’t say good,” says John Harbachuck, 51, of Millville, Mass. “It’s reached a level point. You hope it’s going up.”

Still, three of four remain dissatisfied with the nation’s course.

White House adviser David Axelrod says that’s not surprising. “There’s been a lot of frustrations and grievance building up for years,” he says. “For many Americans, it (the recovery) still hasn’t touched their lives.”

The findings are sobering for incumbents who hope an improving economy will ameliorate the throw-the-bums-out sentiment before November. Maryland Rep. Chris Van Hollen, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says “confidence is picking up” among voters, but he acknowledges, “Democrats have an uphill battle.”

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, head of the GOP Senate campaign committee, says the party has “the wind at our back” and might regain control of Congress.

The poll finds a huge intensity gap between the parties: 50% of Republicans are “extremely motivated” to vote this year; 30% of Democrats are.

“Normally I vote Democrat, but right now I’m not real sure,” says Sherry Havard, 60, of Newton, Texas. “I just don’t like what they’re doing right now.”

Among registered voters, 42% say their view of Obama is “very important” in their vote for Congress. That’s likely to cut both ways: The group includes 43% of Democrats and 49% of Republicans.

Contributing: Naomi Jagoda

Framing Pakistan

Framing Pakistan

How the Pro-Israel Media Enables India’s Surrogate Warfare

by Maidhc Ó Cathail / May 26th, 2010

In its bitter rivalry with India, Pakistan is at a fatal disadvantage. Unlike its South Asian neighbour, Islamabad lacks an ally with considerable influenceover American mainstream media.

The latest example of US media complicity with the Indo-Israeli alliancecame in the aftermath of the much-hyped Times Square “car-bomb” incident. Typical of the media orgy of Pakistan-bashing that followed the discovery of an SUV packed with 250 pounds of non-explosive fertilizer was a piece written by Newsweek’s Indian-born editor, Fareed Zakaria, in which he brands Pakistan as “a terrorist hothouse.”

“For a wannabe terrorist shopping for help, Pakistan is a supermarket,” writes Zakaria. “There are dozens of jihadi organizations: Jaish-e-Muhammad, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Al Qaeda, Jalaluddin and Siraj Haqqani’s network, Tehrik-e-Taliban, and the list goes on. Some of the major ones, like the Kashmiri separatist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, operate openly via front groups throughout the country. But none seem to have any difficulty getting money and weapons.”

Zakaria is in no doubt about who’s to blame.

“From its founding, the Pakistani government has supported and encouraged jihadi groups, creating an atmosphere that has allowed them to flourish,” claims the CNN pundit.

To back up his assertions, Zakaria cites no less an authority that Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States. In Pakistan: Between Mosque and Military, which Zakaria considers a “brilliant history,” Husain Haqqani claims that support for jihad has been “a consistent policy of the state.”

Case closed for the prosecution? Perhaps not.

The Pakistani diplomat’s credibility as an objective critic of jihadism is undermined somewhat by his intimate ties to the Israel-centricneoconservative network. A former fellow at the Likudnik Hudson Institute, Haqqani co-chaired Hudson’s Project on Islam and Democracy. Its director,Hillel Fradkin, was a Project for a New American Century signatory to a 2002letter to George W. Bush equating Yasser Arafat with Osama Bin Laden in an effort to convince the White House that “Israel’s fight against terrorism is our fight.”

Haqqani also collaborated with another neocon, Stephen Schwartz, on the Institute for Islamic Progress and Peace. A project of the notoriousIslamophobe Daniel Pipes, it is widely suspected to be an attempt to “divide and conquer” the American Muslim community. In short, if Tel Aviv had handpicked Pakistan’s ambassador to Washington, they could hardly have found a more suitable candidate than Haqqani.

Also advancing “the Pakistan Connection” to the Times Square plot is Haqqani’s onetime collaborator Stephen Schwartz. Writing in Rupert Murdoch’s staunchly pro-Israel Weekly Standard, Schwartz pushes “the Pakistani Taliban did it” storyline. Faisal Shahzad’s arrest, he writes, “lends credibility to the claim by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the branch of the Afghan terrorist movement operating there, that they planted the unsuccessful car-bomb.”

Like Zakaria, Schwartz holds Pakistani authorities responsible.

“Pakistani reality cannot be evaded,” he writes. “The jihadist domination seen in the Pakistani army and intelligence services (ISI) is visible everywhere South Asian Muslims congregate. It explains the reluctance of the Pakistani government to fulfill its commitment to fighting the Taliban. And it equally accounts for conspiracies like that foiled in Times Square.”

The one evading “Pakistani reality,” however, is Schwartz. If any government is to be held responsible for terrorism carried out by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), it is not in Islamabad but in Tel Aviv or New Delhi.

As Gordon Duff, senior editor of Veterans Today, revealed in a recentinterview: “We have very little doubt that the Indians and the Israelis, that are all over Afghanistan with German passports pretending to be military contractors, are operating 17 camps along the Taliban regions training and arming terrorists.”

According to Duff, “The Pakistani Taliban is in close cooperation with, supplied, financed, armed and trained by Israel and India to attack Pakistan.”

Duff’s claims are based on a February 2010 fact-finding tour of Pakistan, where he was briefed by the highest levels of the country’s military and intelligence establishment, including Lieutenant General Hamid Gul, former director general of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Admiral Iftikhar Ahmed Sirohey, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and General Mirza Aslam Beg, former Chief of Army Staff.

Fearful of offending their Israel-conscious paymasters in Washington, the Pakistani military and intelligence services have been forced into the humiliating position of leaking their side of the story through the Veterans Today website.

According to the ISI leak, the Times Square terror plot was a “false flag operation to implicate the Pakistani Taliban and then threaten and force Pakistan to ‘do more’ in North Waziristan.” This was followed by “a massive media disinformation war” to induce the belief that “all global terrorism is emerging from the Pakistani tribal pocket of North Waziristan, and that the ISI/army is either hands and gloves with the Taliban or not willing to do more.”

Clearly, Israel and India share a common geostrategic interest in thedestabilization of the nuclear-armed Muslim nation. As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, “Our ties with India don’t have any limitation….”

Israel, however, has proven itself a rather dubious ally—as a growing number of Americans are beginning to realize. Perhaps one day policymakers in New Delhi will have a similar awakening. But for the time being, the media component of its alliance with Tel Aviv affords India a powerful weapon to wage surrogate warfare against Pakistan.

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a freelance writer. His work has been published by Al Jazeera Magazine, Antiwar.comDissident VoiceKhaleej TimesPalestine Chronicle and many other publications. Read other articles by Maidhc.

Obama Says We Are At War With a Network–Doesn’t Mention That It’s Ours

New Obama security strategy dumps Bush anti-terror doctrine

Photos


New York Counter Terrorism officers patrol in Times Square.

WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama unveiled a new national security strategy on Thursday, replacing George W. Bush’s “war on terror” doctrine with a sweeping blueprint for a world bristling with multiple threats.

Obama also put new constraints on the former president’s concept of pre-emptive war and cited national security implications of economic meltdowns, global warming, cyber warfare, nuclear proliferation and ethnic conflict.

“To succeed, we must face the world as it is,” the document states, turning the page on Bush-era dreams of remaking the global order with American might and recognising the increasing global engagement of Russia and the emergence of rising powers like China and India.

The document also contains warnings for Iran and North Korea, focuses on home-grown extremists who turn to Islamic radicalism in America and says the most serious threats to Americans are posed by nuclear proliferation.

The new doctrine illustrates an evolution of Obama’s pro-engagement policies after 16 months in power, a period that brought the idealism of his election campaign into conflict with the harsh realities of geopolitics.

It describes a world thick with evolving threats and seeks to reframe US foreign policy after two bloody wars and a crippling global financial crisis.

It projects a tough, hard-nosed assessment of American interests and the use of US power, and lays out a dizzying array of threats from cyber warfare to health epidemics to ethnic wars to inequality.

Obama commits to using the sweeping range of foreign policy tools, including diplomacy, economic renewal, development aid, military might and education.

It calls for tough engagement “without illusion” with US foes like Iran and North Korea, but warns they face deepening isolation if they continue to spurn US advances and do not bow to pressure to throw open their nuclear programs.

The document also preserves the US right to launch unilateral military action, but does so in more restrictive terms than those used by the former Bush administration.

It also seeks to widen the scope of US foreign policy
, which became dominated by a doctrinaire “war on terror” following the September 11 attacks in 2001, and led to the war in Iraq, after the invasion of Afghanistan.

“We will always seek to de-legitimise the use of terrorism and to isolate those who carry it out,” said the document, the product of intense internal deliberations during the 16 months of the Obama administration.

“Yet this is not a global war against a tactic – terrorism or a religion – Islam.

“We are at war with a specific network, Al-Qaeda, and its terrorist affiliates who support efforts to attack the United States, our allies, and partners.”   [SEE: WHO IS “AL QAIDA”?]

In his final national security strategy in 2006, Bush targeted terrorism as a concept more specifically, declaring boldly “the war on terror is not over.”

Obama’s document appears to water down the concept of pre-emptive war favoured by the Bush administration, but preserves the option for a US president to deploy military might unilaterally.

It says Washington will “adhere to standards that govern the use of force.”

“We will also outline a clear mandate and specific objectives and thoroughly consider the consequences – intended and unintended – of our actions.”

For the first time, the new strategy makes combating home-grown extremists, “radicalised” on US soil, a key plank of security policy.

“Our best defences against this threat are well informed and equipped families, local communities, and institutions,” the document said.

“The Federal Government will invest in intelligence to understand this threat and expand community engagement and development programs to empower local communities.”

The 52-page strategy however encompasses a much wider reach than the campaign against extremism which has defined US foreign policy since the September 11 attacks.

It sets out a platform for robust engagement, the maintenance of the US military edge and wide social diplomacy and development assistance.

“Our long-term security will not come from our ability to instil fear in other peoples but through our capacity to speak to their hopes,” Obama said in a message introducing the new strategy.

The strategy lists a set of comprehensive threats facing the United States, beginning with the most grave – the threat of weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons. – AFP/de

Our Latest Jewish President Celebrates the Judaization of the United States

White House party to celebrate Jewish culture

In politics, as elsewhere, it’s a sport that’s almost as popular as people-watching: Guest-list watching.

And this week, Associated Press national writer Jocelyn Noveck reports, it’s the Jewish community in Washington and beyond that’s buzzing over who’ll be on the list when Barack and Michelle Obama host the first-ever White House reception marking Jewish Heritage Month.

The White House won’t divulge the guest list for Thursday afternoon’s event in the East Room. But those with knowledge of the list say it’s an eclectic and interesting one — and markedly different from past Jewish-themed events like the president’s annual Hanukkah party.

Where that event brings established Jewish community leaders to the White House, Thursday’s reception is meant to honor American Jews who have made contributions in the arts, music, sports, the space program and other fields.

The most prominent guest on the list, according to several people familiar with it: former baseball great Sandy Koufax, the left-handed Hall of Fame pitcher for the Dodgers who famously refused to pitch in a World Series game on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in Judaism. (Koufax, now 74, could not be reached to confirm his plans.)

Names also mentioned by members of the Jewish community: Olympic swimmer Dara Torres, author Judy Blume, and a young woman who was wounded in a 1999 shooting at a Los Angeles Jewish center, Mindy Finkelstein.

But the list also includes a number of younger Jewish activists involved in interesting initiatives. One of them, Shawn Landres, heads Jumpstart, which he calls a “thinkubator for sustainable Jewish innovation.” He’s traveling to Washington from Los Angeles.

“There’s been excitement about this, people posting on Facebook and talking about who’s coming,” says Landres.

“In the past,” he adds, “when there were Jewish events at the White House, they tended to go to the same well of people — big Jewish organizations, the usual suspects. What I’ve noticed here is a commitment to go beyond that. The administration is trying to engage the Jewish community in different ways.”

Of course, it’s no secret that tensions have surfaced between the administration and some elements of the Jewish community over its policy toward Israel, particularly regarding construction of Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem.

So it’s tempting to see this week’s reception as another step in what many have called Obama’s current “charm offensive” toward American Jewish leaders, including: a meeting last week between the president and Jewish congressional leaders; gatherings of top White House officials and rabbis; addresses by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and National Security Adviser James L. Jones to major Jewish groups; and a private lunch early this month between the president and Noble laureate Eli Wiesel.

But though Thursday’s event certainly can’t hurt, officials point out that plans have been under way for several months. And the pressure actually began years ago.

“Listen, I’ve been trying to get the White House to put on this event for five years,” says Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, the congresswoman who spearheaded the campaign to establish Jewish Heritage Month in the first place. “I really don’t think it has anything to do with the current outreach efforts.”

“I’m really excited about the event,” adds Schultz, who will attend along with many other Jewish members of Congress. “This is a way to demonstrate that President Obama is committed to the Jewish community. But also it’s a way to educate Americans about the contributions of American Jews, to breed tolerance and understanding.”

To illustrate her point, Schultz says that when she was in college in 1984, a fellow student came up to her and asked if she was Jewish. “I’ve never seen a real one,” she says the student told her.

Washington Jewish leader William Daroff adds that it wasn’t so long ago that Jews in the United States were restricted in many ways: where they could live, what colleges they could attend, and what professions they could aspire to.

“We’ve come a long way, and Jewish Heritage Month is there to celebrate that progress,” says Daroff, director of the Washington Office of the Jewish Federations of North America.

But while May was declared Jewish Heritage Month in 2006, set into law by President George W. Bush, this is the first time the White House has agreed to hold a reception to mark it.

“I don’t ascribe a motive,” Schultz says. “Presidents are very busy.”

Asked why Obama had decided to hold the reception, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told The Associated Press that the Obamas wanted to celebrate Jewish Americans’ contributions to the nation’s history and culture. “The reception also offers a chance to foster partnership, collaboration, and education in the spirit of Jewish American Heritage Month,” Lehrich said.

Daroff himself isn’t on the guest list, and he says that’s logical. “This event is less about those of us in the Beltway,” he says, “and more about the folks out there living the Jewish experience, and breaking down barriers.”

So who else is invited? “This could be interesting, seeing what the mix looks like,” says Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who said he’s not on the list.

Or, put another way: “Adam Sandler could write a whole new Hanukkah song after this party,” quips Steve Rabinowitz, a Washington public relations executive, referring to the popular song pointing out famous Jewish Americans.

Someone who probably wouldn’t make the song is Rabbi Marc Schneier of New York. He leads two Orthodox congregations and spoke at the 2008 Democratic convention.

But he believes he was invited because of his outreach work to the Muslim community, as president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. He’s also has been active in furthering ties with the black community.

“Our work is very much in concert with President Obama’s agenda,” says Schneier.

A past guest at the White House Hanukkah party, Schneier says this event has a whole different feel to it.

“This is quite unique,” he says. “It’s more exotic than the usual White House event.”

Daroff agrees.

“Listen, anytime there’s a first in Washington, it’s a big deal,” he says.

Yemen tribe in new pipeline blast over airstrike

Yemen tribe in new pipeline blast over airstrike

Mohammed Ghobari
SANAA

(Reuters) – Kinsmen of a Yemeni mediator killed in an errant airstrike targeting al Qaeda blew up an oil pipeline Thursday in the second such attack this week, a government official said.

The airstrike has provoked clashes between tribesmen and the army, stoking instability in Yemen, which is a focus of Western security concerns over a resurgent regional al Qaeda wing based in the impoverished Arabian Peninsula country.

“Tribesmen blew up the same pipeline again. Teams have been sent for repairs,” a government official said, declining to be named. Tribesmen had also damaged four electricity pylons since Wednesday, triggering severe power cuts in the capital, he said. “They are not allowing repair teams to reach the pylons.”

An oil ministry official told Reuters oil exports had not been affected by the blast, the second since Tuesday on the pipeline which carries crude oil to a Red Sea terminal.

The tribesmen earlier threatened to call off a truce with the government and resume hostilities unless an investigation into the strike that killed Jaber al-Shabwani and four others produces results by Friday.

A Yemeni website aligned with the opposition said the strike was carried out by a drone, a weapon Yemen is not believed to have. U.S, forces have used drones in Yemen in fighting al Qaeda in the past, but a U.S. diplomat declined to say if Washington was involved.

Members of Shabwani’s tribe agreed to the truce on condition that it investigate how he was killed and punish those responsible.

“We rejected tribal arbitration in favor of the formation of an inquiry committee to investigate the incident and expose those involved,” Shabwani’s father Ali told Reuters.

In a statement, the tribe set a Friday deadline for the completion of the investigation. It warned that “if (the state) does not present those responsible, it can expect a harsh response.”

Shabwani, deputy governor of Maarib province where the airstrike occurred, had been en route to meet al Qaeda members to seek their surrender, local officials said.

INCREASED INTELLIGENCE GATEHRING

U.S. officials said Tuesday that the U.S. military and spy agencies have stepped up intelligence gathering using surveillance aircraft, satellites, and signal intercepts to track al Qaeda targets in and around their base in Yemen.

Yemen, a neighbor of top oil exporter Saudi Arabia, jumped to the forefront of Western security concerns after the Yemen-based regional arm of al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the botched bombing of a U.S. plane on December 25.

A statement from a top Yemeni security body expressed sorrow over al-Shabwani’s death, calling him a martyr, but did not say who might have carried out the strike or what type of aircraft was used.

U.S. officials asked about the strike said that Washington plays a supporting role by helping Yemeni forces track and pinpoint targets. One official said there was an increasingly “fine line” between support and taking the lead.

The Pentagon announced a $155.3 million security package earlier this year, with $34.5 million earmarked to expand the capabilities of Yemen’s Special Operations Forces to conduct counterterrorism operations.

Analysts say the strike could heighten anti-U.S. sentiment and broaden al Qaeda’s appeal among powerful Yemeni tribes that threaten efforts to stabilize the country, also situated next to busy international shipping lanes.

Separately, a soldier was killed and three were injured in clashes with armed men in southern Lahej province, the site of increasing separatist unrest, a local official told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Mohammed Mukhashaf in Aden; Writing by Erika Solomon and Firouz Sedarat, editing by Elizabeth Fullerton)