Bomb Explodes Outside US Embasy in Tbilisi

Blast in Tbilisi

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 Sep.’10 / 13:05

An explosive device went off at about 1am on Wednesday in suburb of Tbilisi, about 100 meters from the U.S. embassy building, police said.

No one was injured.

Police destroyed with water cannon another explosive device found in the same site, where formerly an open-air auto market was located. Now empty area is next to a cemetery and explosion damaged its wall and a grave.

A wall, dividing the U.S. embassy territory from the area, is located about 60-70 meters from the location where the explosive devices were set off, Shota Utiashvili, head of information and analytical department of the interior minister, told Civil.ge. He said the embassy wall was not damaged.

The U.S. embassy in Tbilisi confirmed that its property was not damaged.

Police said the investigation was ongoing and declined to reveal type of explosive devices or other details.

Trump Signs On to Saakashvili’s Free Enterprise Paradise Experiment

[SEE: Saakashvili Lays Out ‘Act on Economic Freedom' ;  Poti Free Industrial Zone]

Letter of Intent signed between Trump Organization and Silk Road Group on Georgia Development

22 Sep 2010

On September 21st, in New York City, at the Trump Tower on 5th Avenue, Mr.Donald Trump and Mr. Giorgi Ramishvili, Chairman of the Silk Road Group, have signed the document that marks the initial step for the well known Trump brand to enter the Georgian real estate market. The signed letter of intent calls for the first ever Trump-tower in Tbilisi as well as potential projects to be constructed in Adjara Sea resorts. The signing ceremony in New York City was attended by the President of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili along with other important guests and the members of the Georgian and US press.

The possibility for the Trump brand to enter Georgia was first discussed in New York, during the meeting between President Saakashvili and Mr. Trump. The meeting was organized by the Silk Road Trans-Atlantic Alliance, the US extension of the Silk Road Group. The New York meeting was followed by Mr. Michael Cohen’s visit to Georgia in July, in order to take a firsthand look at the potential sites for the first Trump project in the country. Mr. Cohen is an Executive Vice President of the Trump Organization. The signed letter of intent is the result of a number of consultations in recent months and came after a careful analysis of the market potential of Georgia.

“We are delighted to have an opportunity to partner up with Mr. Trump and his entire organization. I am confident that the signature – golden standard- of the Trump brand that is well known to the world, will give the additional boost to the Georgian real estate market and to the growing Georgian economy as a whole. I’ve pledged to Mr. Trump that our company, Silk Road Group and I personally will do our best to make the Trump project a reality, and I also thank him for his trust in our company and in the future of my country” – says Mr. Ramishvili.

Gazprom under Pressure

Gazprom under Pressure

Western energy companies charge by the Russian gas giant discounts as prices fall on the open market. However, the Group has stubbornly

Eduard Steiner

When the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is something in his head, he moves through it like it. How has the present, he told recently in the southern Russian resort of Sochi. There interviewed the 57-year-old during a conversation hour with foreign experts so to speak themselves, “What brings a company more profitable?” he asked. “Flexible and have to make concessions to keep the whole market share – or to be harder, not give in and accept a loss of market share” Putin said the management of semi-state gas giant Gazprom and critically acclaimed that the manager – probably with his blessing – have opted for the hardness, “And so they should be able to continue on this path.”

Hardness regardless of the consequences: experts and Western customers shake their heads. The fact that Gazprom is still on its long-term customer contracts and the binding persists in the gas price to oil products, while on the open market, the gas is far cheaper to have, contrary to market-based logic. Gazprom’s average price is currently at 280 dollars per 1,000 cubic meters, the average spot price as on the relevant U.S. Henry Hub in August at about $ 160. “The changed market situation for us all new,” says one Western Gas Manager in Moscow: “Like other participants and Gazprom will be forced to react.”

The economic crisis has dampened demand in Europe, Gazprom’s main market sensitive. Then there was that the U.S. stopped because of the production slate (“Shale Gas”) the import of LPG. Your previous supplier, the State of Qatar, was forced then to divert its gas to Europe. The Norwegians, as Germany quickly charged a quarter of the gas supplied to cheaper spot prices, gained market share. Although Russia remains Europe’s largest supplier and disclosed in the European OECD countries, only 27 percent of gas imports, two years ago but there were still 31 percent ten years ago, even 39 percent.

“Gazprom is under enormous pressure,” says a representative of a western gas company, who declined to be named. Customers regret having embarked on the long-term purchase contracts with specified quantities and with oil prices and demand an easing of the contracts. But Gazprom is hard. And with Putin’s backing. While Gazprom is not entirely without compromise. In part, the Russians have made concessions. Mainly E.on provided with the outcome, now 15 percent of the gas purchased from Gazprom to pay for cheaper spot prices for attention. The competitors keep up with their negotiated outcomes on the other hand behind the mountain. The German Wintershall will be made no worse than the others, with the Group reported a confidant, Gazprom pay attention to equality. Whether it is the smaller customer RWE been bestowed, will not comment on it. “And Gazprom itself not published the data,” said Dmitri Absalov, gas expert at the Moscow Center for Political economy. The group wants to create a precedent.

Not only German customers speak to at Gazprom or advertise in the foyers of the Russian decision-making points for their concerns. The lobbyists French and Italian gas companies romp there. Gazprom says no to requests, says only that it had already shown “flexibility” – but the principle of long-term contracts will be retained.

The question is of course not, if all consumers achieve a negotiated outcome of E.on. The question has been how to Gazprom wrests further concessions.”Western companies are not to be complacent,” says one Western Gas Manager. In the headquarters of E.on and Wintershall are added diplomatically: You lead them further talks with all major gas producers, with the long-term supply contracts to the current market conditions, adapt, they say about at E.ON.

Gazprom itself provides the flexibility exhausted and therefore neither possible nor a need for further negotiations. Gazprom is not a “Konjunkturschik,” Gazprom deputy chairman Alexander Medvedev said some time ago. Meaning, Gazprom is sitting on market fluctuations. The fact that the Russians are playing for time, had to do with the national character, says Mikhail Korchemkin, director of East European Gas Analysis consultancy institute: “According to the mentality of the Russians yielding nothing but demonstration of weakness.” Nevertheless, the large customers in the West prospect of further success, experts say: “buy Price Breaker as Germany, France or Italy, the gas also at Gazprom’s competitors, have better opportunities than small customers,” said Valery Nesterov, gas analyst at the Russian investment bank Troika dialogue. “The Russians are not panicking, but concerned.”

If the gas market will recover and adjust the spot prices reflect the long term, lose their customers leverage. Unlike many Western Group believes Gazprom’s deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev that the demand on the market already in 2012 and is expected to climb to reach the pre-crisis thus the spot price on the same level as the long-run Gazprom’s price. The U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasts that the other hand, the average Henry Hub spot price of only 173 dollars for 1,000 cubic meters in 2010 and $ 180 2011th

But even if the spot price rises faster and can defend against Gazprom, therefore, the siege of western customers with tangible evidence: the company still runs out of time. Not only in Europe, the Group loses market share. Also from other continents are disturbing news. Some of America: There are operators of ports for liquefied just about to put in position to import gas, not just export from the United States as well. A blow to Gazprom: Finally, the Group had calculated that in the previous year, increasing by 2020 its market share in the U.S. from the current measly 0.5 percent to five to ten percent by gas from new deposits in liquid form over the Atlantic shipped. The U.S. needs imported gas less, that China requires more and more. But the People’s Republic is located closer to the Central Asian states. And China is looking to LNG in the spot market to the world. One of the biggest challenges faced by Russia in the coming decade, the preparations were on the structural changes in the energy market, therefore argues Xenija Judajewa, principal analyst of Macroeconomics at the largest Russian bank Sberbank. “The substantial weakening in Europe, Gazprom does not have to degenerate into a national tragedy, but it takes more serious approaches to the management of this group.”

In part, Gazprom has already responded. And through diversification. Took the gas business a year ago, yet 73 percent of Group sales, so it is in the first quarter of 2010, only 64 percent. The oil business is increasingly important, and the current production already accounts for ten percent of sales.

Five years ago, Gazprom has taken the new course in order to transform itself from a “national champion” to a global multi-energy. This also contributed to the fact that Gazprom has tripled in spite of all difficulties on the gas market in the first quarter net profit last year to 8.3 billion euros. The sensational result owes itself but also exchange rate differences – and the domestic Russian gas customers. She, who always had to supply the Group with two thirds of its gas, without having to make some needed, due to higher domestic prices last dig deeper into their pocket. And because domestic prices continue to rise, could be the domestic market estimated to be important in five years, as Gazprom’s previous “Cachcow Europe”.

Iranian journalist Hossein Derakhshan going to be executed for blog

Iranian journalist Hossein Derakhshan going to be executed for blog entry

08:06 25.09.2010

Iranian journalist executed for going to blog entries

Iranian Prosecutor demands to sentence to death a well-known Iranian blogger and journalist Hossein Derakhshan, who criticized the government. He presented a number of charges, including in collaboration with the enemy states, propaganda against the Islamic regime in Iran, insulting religious sanctities and spying for Israel.

Hossein Derakhshan worked for several years and lived in Canada and Britain, has, in addition to the Iranian and Canadian passports. He led a blog in Persian, that is, where he lived abroad, “Vesti FM”. Arrested him immediately on his return to his homeland in 2008.

In his first blog Hossain criticized the Iranian political and religious establishment, sought to advance democratic reforms. In this case, before returning to Iran, he allegedly received from the authorities the assurance that it will not be prosecuted.

All of these charges – very serious, the situation of bloggers are really dangerous. Mother Derakhshan, Ozra Kiarashpur, confirmed this: “The prosecutor demanded the most severe measures to punish Hossain as a warning to others.”

The trial took place behind closed doors. In support of the bloggers have already made some political and public figures. For his fate as closely watched in many foreign countries.

Source – newsru.com

Iowa City protest group drew FBI attention

Iowa City protest group drew FBI attention

BY DI STAFF | SEPTEMBER

According to documents obtained by the Des Moines Register, the FBI followed a group of Iowa City political activists in 2008.

The agency feared the protesters — called the Wild Rose Rebellion — were part of a nationwide web of radicals that would disrupt the Republican Convention in St. Paul and the Democratic Convention in Denver.

The FBI trailed the group during a nine-month investigation by following protesters’ movements around Iowa City, photographing them, going through their garbage, and studying phone and motor-vehicle records.

The probe ended when bureau agents said they had found an “association with other anarchist extremist networks” but the group was not engaged in “specific criminal activity.”

David Goodner, a former member of the University of Iowa’s Antiwar Committee, obtained the documents through the Freedom of Information Act before giving them to the Des Moines newspaper.

— by Nina Earnest

FBI Raiding Antiwar Activists in Terror Investigation

FBI Raiding Antiwar Activists in Terror Investigation

| September 24, 2010

Details from the Minneapolis St. Paul Pioneer Press:

The FBI raided the homes of six political activists in Minneapolis this morning in connection to a terrorism investigation.

The warrants were “seeking evidence related to an ongoing Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation into activities concerning the material support of terrorism,” said FBI Special Agent Steve Warfield, spokesman in the Minneapolis office. “There is no imminent threat to the community and we’re not planning any arrests at this time.”

One of the warrants was executed at the home of Mick Kelly, an anti-war organizer, according to his attorney Ted Dooley.

“I have no idea what all this is about,” Dooley said. “Mr. Kelly is an activist, he’s a socialist or perhaps a communist and has been forever. He never hides his political views. They’re fishing. They’re casting big nets into the sea of political activism.”

Before agents confiscated his cell phone, Kelly told the Associated Press: “The FBI is harassing anti-war organizers and leaders, folks who opposed U.S. intervention in the Middle East and Latin America,” Kelly said before agents confiscated his cell phone.

Warrants were also signed to search the homes of Jessica Sundin on Park Avenue and Meredith Aby in South Minneapolis, Dooley said.

Those three organized a demonstration during the 2008 GOP National convention in St. Paul, and had announced plans to do the same if the 2012 Demoocratic National Convention ends up in Minneapolis.

The warrant for Kelly’s home said that the items to be seized were evidence concerning the violation of a federal law that prohibits “providing, attempting, conspiring to provide material support to designated foreign terrorist organizations,” Dooley said.

It allowed for the following to be seized: “documents, files, books, photographs, videos, souvenirs, war relics, notebooks, address books, diaries, journals, maps, or other evidence, including evidence in electronic form relating to Kelly’s travels to and from and presence and activities in Minnesota and other foreign countries, to which Kelly has traveled as part of his work for FRSO (Freedom Road Socialist Organization),” Dooley said.

Also, the warrant was seeking information about Kelly’s “ability to pay for his own travel within the United States or to Palestine or Columbia from the year 2000 until today. And this has to do with any contact with FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) and Hezbollah, all of which are FTOs (Foreign Terrorist Organizations),” Dooley said…the agents were also “looking for everything related to Kelly’s potential co-conspirators, including Kelly’s personal contacts in the United States and abroad, which means absolutely everybody that Kelly’s ever been in contact with, anywhere. I’d say it’s kind of unconstitutional and hideous, myself. It’s very broad. It’s disgusting.”

The warrants were executed about 7 a.m., with six carried out in Minneapolis and two in Chicago, Warfield said.

A SWAT team, accompanied by the FBI, knocked on Kelly’s door about 7 a.m. and Kelly’s partner answered, Dooley said.

“They said they had a search warrant,” he said. “She asked to see it, she couldn’t read it through the peephole, so they busted down the door. The door flew across the room and broke a fish tank. There are now eight FBI agents in the apartment, going through every piece of paper in there, and all the books.”

As an Antiwar.com roundup of links on the raids notes:

Officials said they were related to a Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation. The JTTF in Minneapolis has a long history of heavy-handed investigations against protest groups, including an attempt in 2008 to infiltrate a vegan potluck.

My latest Reason blogging on JTTF shenanigans, out of Chicago. From our May issue, Jacob Sullum on the dubious merits of the sort of “material support” laws behind these raids.

Russian president defends authoritarian rule in the name of “democracy”

Russian president defends authoritarian rule in the name of “democracy”

By Vladimir Volkov and Andrea Peters
23 September 2010

At the World Political Forum in Iaroslavl, Russia on September 10, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev outlined his views on the meaning of democracy. When taken together with his other declarations about “modernizing” the country, his latest statement underscores the right-wing and anti-democratic character of his policies, which are profoundly hostile to the working class. Medvedev’s definition of democracy is entirely in keeping with the overall rightward shift in official European politics.

Insisting that that the political system that presently exists in Russia is democratic and well suited to the country, and that nothing “needs to be radically changed,” the Russian president outlined “five signs of democracy.”

These included “the legal incarnation of humanistic values and ideals,” “the ability of the state to guarantee and support a high rate of technological development, which secures a worthy standard of living for its citizens,” “the ability of the state to defend its citizens from the dangers of criminal associations,” “a high level of culture, education, means of communication and exchange of information,” and, finally, the conviction on the part of citizens “that they are living in a democratic state.”

Declaring “representative democracy” to be unacceptable for Russia, Medvedev excluded freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, the right to vote, freedom of the press, the separation of church and state and the other rights associated with bourgeois democracy from his five principles.

Medvedev counseled Russians to use the Internet as a means of influencing government authorities in a manner reminiscent of the way the Stalinist regime in the USSR insisted that Soviet workers could express their wishes and give “mandates” to the ruling bureaucracy by writing letters.

Tacitly endorsing Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s recent statement that anyone participating in public demonstrations in violation of Russia’s extremely restrictive assembly laws would get a “club to the head,” Medeved insisted that at present “[f]reedom of speech, assembly and meetings is realized in practice within clearly established legal boundaries, and that is how it should be in the future.”

In his remarks, Medvedev cited Karl Popper and Seymour Lipset—ideologues of imperialism who became icons of the neo-conservative movement that has dominated official American politics for decades.

The speech given by Medvedev, who is frequently portrayed in the Russian liberal and Western media as a more democratically inclined alternative to Putin, underscores the reactionary character of Russian capitalism. It once again reveals the hollowness of the claims made in the 1980s and 1990s that the restoration of a market economy in the former Soviet Union would usher in a new period of freedom and democracy.

Presiding over a country with staggering levels of inequality, Medvedev, like Putin, is deeply opposed to all political institutions that could in any way be used by the working people to express their class interests or mount an opposition to the government and the country’s super-rich oligarchy.

Even by Medvedev’s own stated standards—humanism, high living standards, physical security, a well-educated population with access to modern technology, a popular belief that the society is democratic—Russia fails to meet the definition of democracy.

In Russia, any sign of opposition to the official Kremlin line is likely to be met with police batons. Rural villages recently burned to the ground during an outbreak of wildfires for lack of basic firefighting equipment. Dozens of people die every week in the Caucasus in a civil war fueled by the government’s brutal efforts to regain control over the region. Earlier this year, the Duma (parliament) proposed a law that, if passed, would have effectively liquidated free public education. Every Russian knows that all of the country’s television channels are controlled and censored by the government.

Medvedev’s speech was primarily aimed at making clear his support for the authoritarian forms of rule that have developed alongside the restoration of capitalism in the post-Soviet era. In doing so, he was speaking to both domestic and international audiences.

Medvedev’s comments were directed at enlisting the support of influential layers of the Russian ruling elite on the eve of a new election cycle and presidential elections in 2012, assuring them that regardless of his media reputation as civic-minded alter ego to Putin, he can be relied upon to defend the existing political order and defend the ill-gotten wealth of the ruling elite.

The Russian president’s comments were also intended for the ears of international investors, whom he is courting as part of his new economic policy.

For the last year, Medvedev has been promoting the “modernization” of Russia. Lamenting the country’s “economic backwardness” and excessive reliance on raw materials, the president has campaigned for the diversification of the country’s economy through a combination of state assistance and international investment. This has been coupled with calls for fiscal austerity in other spheres, in particular, social services and pensions.

The class content of Medvedev’s “modernization” campaign is encapsulated in the proposal to create an “innovation city” in Skolkovo, on the outskirts of Moscow. This project envisions the investment of not less than 60 billion rubles (approximately $1.93 billion) in public money in order to create modern research and development facilities, which will then be handed over to leading private corporations free of charge.

These enterprises will operate under the protection of a separate customs, tax and inspections regime, largely free of state oversight or tax obligations. On September 18, the government passed a variety of additional legal provisions aimed at increasing Skolkovo’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

As Arkady Dvorkovich, an aide to President Medvedev, boasted, “In Skolkovo we will build the best golf courses, the best clubs and restaurants.”

In contrast, in a sign of what “modernization” means for Russia’s working class, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin on Monday announced the elimination of 100,000 civil service jobs over the next three years. Prior to this, Kudrin proposed raising Russia’s retirement age to a level that exceeds average male life expectancy.

Both the Kremlin and Russia’s ruling elite know that despite efforts to paint “modernization” as something progressive that will benefit the entire population, the consequences of this new economic policy for working people will provoke opposition. Over the last two years in particular, Russia has been rocked by a number of violent protests over miserable social and economic conditions.

In 2009, impoverished residents of the industrial town Pikalevo blocked a federal highway in a protest against job losses and wage arrears, while in May of this year miners angered at the state’s response to a lethal accident at a coal operation battled the police in anti-government demonstrations.

Medvedev’s speech in Iaroslavl was intended to assuage any concerns within the Russian ruling elite or international capital that his “modernization” campaign might include a loosening of the Kremlin’s grip on political life in the country. The Russian president used the occasion to reaffirm his commitment to the suppression of popular opposition to his policies.

India’s Iran calculus

Posted By Raja Karthikeya

Is India an adversary or ally of the West in opposing Iran’s nuclear ambitions? As one of the countries that has consistently voted against Iran at the IAEA–yet has been loathe to abandon business with the country–India has been viewed with both confusion and consternation in the West. Recent commentary in the international media suggests that India is reluctantly adhering to the sanctions regime against Iran because it needs the attention of the West to fulfill its major power ambitions, and that given a chance, India would trade with Iran without hesitation in a bid to protect its energy interests and to get its support on Afghanistan. These statements are often used synonymously with India’s engagement with other pariah states like Myanmar and Sudan. But such commentary oversimplifies India’s Iran policy, which cannot be defined in the binary “Are you with us or against us?” terms that have characterized debates on Iran in the West.

Traditional relations?

India sees Iran as being part of its “proximate neighborhood“. When talking about Iran, Indian diplomats often talk about “traditional relations” — though this is a confusing notion given that the two countries haven’t had much agreement in recent history: the Shah’s pro-West orientation during the Cold War was anathema to India’s non-aligned views on foreign policy; whereas after the Islamic revolution, Iran’s votes on the Kashmir issue at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) were often cited as a stumbling block for closer engagement.

In certain ways, the notion of ‘traditional relations’ between the two countries is apparent. India has the second largest Shia population in the world after Iran and some Indian Shias have familial relations with Iran (and unlike in places including Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Pakistan, where Iran has played patron to Shia revivalist and militant movements, it has refrained from such meddling in India). Although numerically small compared to India’s population, Indian Shias are an important political constituency; they are highly diverse and pluralistic, have played an active part in Indian political life, and almost all of the leading national political parties have Shia Muslim leaders in their ranks (the Vice President of India, Dr. Hamid Ansari, is himself a Shia who has also served as an ambassador to Iran). Not surprisingly, a few weeks ago, Indian Shias took out a protest march in Delhi against the sanctions on Iran.

Still, such non-official amity has its limitations–which are often overlooked.

Take the example of mutual security interests related to Afghanistan. Pakistan’s recent decision to keep Indian goods out of the ambit of its transit and trade agreement with Afghanistan is likely to strengthen India’s resolve on access via Iran (demonstrated in the Chabahar port being built by India in Iran to increase its export market in Central Asia). Both countries realize that resisting a feared Taliban takeover may not succeed unilaterally. However, while India and Iran share the concern about what they see as the West’s readiness to accommodate Pakistani suzerainty on Afghan affairs, they vehemently disagree on the issue of NATO presence in the region. Hence, any real convergence of interests on Afghanistan is unlikely to happen until a NATO withdrawal starts in earnest.

Nor are energy interests exactly the glue binding India and Iran that they are often suspected to be. While India does get 16 percent of its oil supply from Iran, nearly 45 percent of India’s oil imports come from Gulf states including Saudi Arabia. These numbers indicate that oil imports themselves are not the compelling reason for India to break ranks with Gulf states in doing business with Iran. As for exploration, India has two major proposed projects in Iran — a $5.5 billion offshore block discovered by Indian oil companies and a $10 billion agreement to develop parts of the South Pars gas field in Iran. However, Indian companies have not yet sunk in enough money in either project to be affected by the sanctions. And Iran is certainly the center of several ambitious pipelines (such as the SAGE pipeline) and transport corridors that could link India to Central Asia. However, most of these projects are still on the drawing board. India dropped its part in the Iran-Pakistan-India pipeline after pricing negotiations fell through and increased focus on its supplies from Qatar. In other words, India’s opposition to US Congress sanctions on Iran is not about lost investment.

Opposing a nuclear-armed Iran

On the issue that seems to most worry Western and especially U.S. commentators–Iran’s nuclear program–India shares the belief that this would prove destabilizing for the Middle East. But it does so from a slightly different perspective–it does not see Iran’s nuclear intentions as a response to its rivalry with Israel (as often believed in the West), but as a product of Arab-Iran, and especially Sunni-Shia, rivalry. As India’s veteran strategic expert, K. Subrahmanyam recently wrote: “The Iranian nuclear ambitions are likely to be more to counter a two-front encirclement of Shias by Sunni Pakistan and Sunni Saudi Arabia”. (From this perspective, India’s approach towards a diplomatic solution is likely to be geared toward Saudi-Iranian reconciliation more than anything else.)

Given these rationales, India has attempted to avert the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran in its own way. The Riyadh declaration signed in January 2010 during the Indian Prime Minister Singh’s visit to Saudi Arabia asked Iran to “remove regional and international doubts about its nuclear weapons programme.” In fact, India has even endorsed the Arab call for a nuclear-weapons free Middle East — a proposal that used to be directed at Israel but which is increasingly focused on Iran. Indeed, India’s stance of allying with Arab states, rather than Israel, in addressing Iran’s program is explained by a combination of what it sees as the need to combat jihadist terrorism (Saudi Arabia being a pivotal state in the effort), broad energy interests, and the geographical fact of 3.5 million Indian citizens that work in the region. Moreover, as leading policy analyst Sanjaya Baru noted with a nod to the Palestine issue, “There is no question that India’s strategic interests lie more with the Arab world, and certainly till Iran’s and Israel’s moderates return to power.”

Of course, India’s opposition to Iran’s nuclear program hasn’t been without attendant Iranian charges of hypocrisy, given the status accorded by the NSG (Nuclear Suppliers Group) waiver to India, an outlier to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and India’s stance about the treaty being discriminatory. After India voted against Iran at the IAEA for the third consecutive time, the Iranians tried to draw a parallel between their nuclear program and that of India’s. Yet India rejects the comparison, seeing its own non-proliferation record as one without blemishes–an allusion to both Iran’s troubles with the IAEA and NPT, as well as the A.Q. Khan network’s role in the Iranian program.

Still, India’s opposition to a nuclear-armed Iran (and its own active civil nuclear program), notwithstanding, why does India still oppose US sanctions? This paradox is based on three contentions. One, India sees broad-based sanctions as inevitably detrimental to the population of Iran, especially since they are in addition to UN-imposed sanctions. Two, sanctions impede the ability of Indian companies doing business in other parts of the globe and thus deemed “extra-territorial” by India. Third, and most importantly, India has traditionally shown scant belief in sanctions-based diplomacy–indeed, it has rarely imposed sanctions on any country outside the UN’s aegis, with the exception of apartheid-era South Africa and Pakistan (after the terrorist attack on the Indian parliament in 2001).

The majority of Indian strategists see unilateral sanctions as a path to war. As such, India has taken a strong stance against any pre-emptive military options on Iran, seeing the repercussions of such an action to be as destabilizing as the prospect of Iran getting a nuclear weapon–and with more immediate consequences. Indian strategists see the Strait of Hormuz as part of India’s “security parameter” and seek to secure it from both non-state actors as well inter-state conflict. The memories of 1991 Gulf war and the oil price inflation it precipitated, which pushed the then-closed Indian economy to the brink of bankruptcy, are also a factor in India’s stance. The fear of a strike was great enough for India to endorse the Brazil-Turkey-Iran deal, thereby risking political capital with the West in the process.

While India does not support the current round of sanctions against Iran, it has no sympathy for an Iranian bomb either. This complexity (rather than the ambivalence it is sometimes seen as) in India’s position on Iran’s nuclear program is a product of India’s strategic and national security calculus–and is likely to persist for some time to come.

Raja Karthikeya is a foreign policy researcher based in Washington DC.

‘Good Taliban, bad Taliban’: the ISI’s perspective

‘Good Taliban, bad Taliban’: the ISI’s perspective

Taliban were created by the ISI which still mentors and supports them and their affiliate organizations including the Sipah-e-Sahaba, Jamaat-ud-Dawa and Jaish-e-Muhammad etc

By Hakim Hazik

There are two kinds of Taliban.

The good ones live in Quetta. They are cuddly and roly-poly. They have generous and reassuring paunches, symbolic of the glory of Islam. They sit on hand woven carpets with intricate designs, using round pillows to support their staid behinds. They have tea with the Corps Commander Sahib. They send their girls to school in Quetta and their fighters to jihad in Helmand to blow up schools. They have endearing habits. They stroke their beards with their fingers and say alhamdu lillah when they burp.

They believe in the unity of command and unity of Ummah. They dislike shirk. For their pastime, they blow up Hazaras. They like business in the best tradition of the Ummah. They specialise in transport and heroine. They live in lovely suburban villas with enclosed inner courtyards, called safe havens. They like to entertain and be invited by foreign dignitaries. They must go there in the staff car. Once or twice they have taken a taxi cab. Corps Commander Sahib was not happy.

They mentor up and coming young man as their interns, who have made their name in under-served areas such as Kashmir and Qunduz.

Unfortunately, there are bad Taliban as well. Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell the difference. However our scholars have come up with a test. If they move to Islamabad, they are definitely bad. A bad Taliban can become good, by moving away from Islamabad and towards Jalalabad. North Waziristan is also quite acceptable. Kurram is fine; with the added advantage of fighting shirk in the Turi area. Tarbela Ghazi is definitely unacceptable. As of last year, Swat and Boner are also off limits.

Pakistan is a forward looking country. We believe in peace and prosperity for our population. The national ideology is based on Islam, IMF, tolerance, spot fixing, nuclear technology and soft strategic depth.

Good Taliban have a role in our vision of the future. They will be provided the best modern education in the Binnori Town Mosque and Darul Ulum Haqqania. For advanced post graduate studies, Muridke is the greatest seat of learning in South Asia. This highly competitive centre will equip them with all the skills they need to rise and prosper in the modern society. These include the expert wielding of a carving knife and of Semtex™. Only a select few can aspire to be trained in the techniques of a martyrdom mission.

As mentioned above, all the good Taliban must realise that their sphere of activity has to move to the west of Indus and east of Sutlej. Lahore and Islamabad have a different role to play in the national project. Explosive devices are not of help in public spaces of these regions. They require institutions like Beacon House schools, Civil Services Academies, PMA Kakool and 111 Brigade.

Darul Ulum Haqqania and Aitcheson College, both have a role to play in the nation’s future under the sagacious and watchful guidance of our armed forces.

Brutal extrajudicial killings by the Pakistan army – where is the media?

[Editor's Note--I suggest that you download the video, if you wan't to keep it or share it, since it has been removed from nearly every vid site, because of content.  Here is another download link, just in case this one disappears as well.   http://www.multiupload.com/I3S9EMK2KO

I can't vouch for this download, but I have downloaded other videos from this site without any problem.]

Brutal extrajudicial killings by the Pakistan army – where is the media?


A very brutal video has recently been circulated on the internet. Taken by a cell phone camera it shows soldiers in Pakistan army uniform brutally killing a number of teenaged boys by first shooting them in a firing squad and then shooting the survivors at close range. Please note that this video is very graphic and watch it at your own discretion:

The question is – where is the media? While the media is eager to jump at the slightest hint of a scandal when it concerns politicians there seems to be a complete silence on the part of the media in covering this issue. Both the local and foreign media are silent on this shocking video. It should be noted that HRCP and HRW have been warning, for over a year, of the reports of extra-judicial killings in Swat following the military operation there. According to HRW in a report published in July 2010 the army had carried out 238 extra-judicial killings in Swat. According to Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas at the time:

“We will have to look at the charges before we come out with a specific response,” he told the BBC. “But we maintain that the army has never been involved in any such act.”

Now there seems to be video evidence to document these claims. So far the only response from the military (or its supporters) has been to remove the videos from websites like Youtube as fast as they can be uploaded. They seem to think that by removing instances of the video from the public sphere they can make the issue go away. In this they are ably aided by the media which willingly maintains a wall of silence on all matters concerning military misconduct, either out of fear or complicity.

Here is an earlier account recorded by HRW from a local resident of Swat of an extra judicial killing which bears a great deal of similarity to the events shown in the video above:

Another resident told Human Rights Watch: “On February 16, 2010, the army shot all four dead in the area of the Grid Station in the town. We heard the shots that killed these individuals. The corpses of Mullah Banorey and Mullah Shanko were tied behind military vehicles and dragged publicly in the areas of Char Bagh, Bagh Dheri, and Matta as warning. The people were encouraged to spit at and throw garbage on the bodies of the two dead Taliban commanders, who were feared and hated. But the entire local population knew that Saleem and Murad were innocent. Why did the army kill them?”

Related articles:

Pakistan Army Said to Be Linked to Swat Killings – New York Times
By JANE PERLEZ and PIR ZUBAIR SHAH
Published: September 14, 2009
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/15/world/asia/15swat.html?_r=1

Pakistan army accused of extrajudicial killings in Swat – BBC Urdu
By Syed Shoaib Hasan
16 July 2010
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-south-asia-10667545

Pakistan: Extrajudicial Executions by Army in Swat – Human Rights Watch
Military Abuses Undermine Fight Against Taliban
JULY 16, 2010
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2010/07/16/pakistan-extrajudicial-executions-army-swat

Pakistan’s Army accused of extra-judicial killings – Reuters
By Phil Stewart
WASHINGTON | Mon Apr 5, 2010
http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6340HN20100405

ISI’s Sinister Tactics Driving Outraged Pakistanis to Make a Stand

Surprise, surprise

By Kamran Shafi
To the matter, however: the motorway authorities say that they do not have CCTV cameras mounted at the entry and exit points of the motorway so they have no way of knowing which type of vehicle might have been used in the kidnap. But what about the toll booth records? writes Kamran Shafi. – APP Photo
Surprise, surprise, that the case of journalist Umar Cheema’s late night kidnapping from Islamabad the Beautiful, his violent beating; crudely shaving his head and eyebrows; hanging him upside down, and dropping him off after a several-hour ride, most of it on the motorway, 120 kms away from Islamabad by thugs of an intelligence agency has reached the usual dead-end.

Well, what’s new? Yet another dastardly and cruel act by the Deep State shoved under the humongous filthy carpet, maintained with loving care for more years than I care to remember, by our venal and heartless establishment.

To the matter, however: the motorway authorities say that they do not have CCTV cameras mounted at the entry and exit points of the motorway so they have no way of knowing which type of vehicle might have been used in the kidnap. But what about the toll booth records?

Since in all likelihood the vehicle in which Cheema was transported entered the motorway at Islamabad (or Fatehjang) and exited at the Chakwal/Talagang exit, the records of these three points should suffice to at least get the registration numbers of all the vehicles that used that section during the approximate hours of his kidnapping.

So why in heavens name can’t the motorway authorities be made to hand over the record to the much-vaunted Islamabad traffic police who can then try to find the offending vehicle? Surely even the traffic police should know the registration numbers of the vehicles in the use of the brutes that go by the name of ‘intelligence agents’ in the capital of the Citadel of Islam?

Surely they would, for they must notice these yahoos race about dangerously, following and harassing peaceful and law-abiding citizens who might have chanced to, say, go to a diplomatic mission or to a diplomat’s house.

As a matter of fact, even the lay police should know these vehicles by sight because they do not even slow down at the various check-posts erected all across the city, check-posts where an ordinary mortal can get shot dead if one does not stop, as happened to a poor lad some time ago.

But no, of course not. We will never find out what happened to poor Umar Cheema because the Deep State does not want us to find out. It is a law, a country, a nation, and a state unto itself all rolled up in one, independently sprung as it is due to the billions of rupees it forcibly purloins from the hapless government of Pakistan on pain of imminent death and worse.

No police force in the country dare stand up to it, let alone nominate it on well-investigated and well-founded suspicions of grave wrongdoing.

The above we already knew, those of us who have dared to even murmur opposition to its stupidities in the mistaken belief that Pakistan does not only belong to the Deep State, it belongs to all us Pakistanis. And that all of us must put our shoulder to the wheel to move our country forward. No! roars the Deep State … do what I say otherwise I shall teach you a lesson you will never forget. (Witness Umar Cheema’s tribulations, dear reader).

But by far the more frightening part of the Deep State’s recent exertions is that it is now targeting innocent citizens who have nothing whatsoever to do with the press, or writing, or admonishing it in any way.

Recent letters to the editor of this newspaper of record state that at least two readers have in the most recent past experienced harassment at the hands of unnamed people speaking from ‘Private Number Calling’.

In one case, a letter writer complained that his SIM was being used by someone else, probably someone from the Deep State, who else?

A reader of mine has been complaining by emails to me for some time now of calls from ‘Private Number Calling’ during which the person on the other side asked this gentleman if his SIM was being used by someone else. When this gentleman said it wasn’t and could he know who was calling, the caller traced his ancestry and told him he had better watch out lest he get hurt.

What in the world is going on? Is this an attempt to ripen and prepare unsuspecting people for a shakedown after threatening them of dire consequences?

Are these rogue elements who are out to make money through blackmail to finance their dark doings? What in the world is going on?

This is a situation that simply cannot be allowed to go on, Deep State or no Deep State. There should be no ‘private numbers’ whatsoever. All users of the mobile/landline networks should be treated equally when it comes to the identification of the number calling a certain telephone. We know we live in the dark shadow of the establishment, growing darker all the time, but it is time we the people stood up and said, “Enough!”

The shadows are growing ever darker because the two main political players, the PPP and the PML-N, are slowly but surely being hijacked by hard-hearted hawks on both sides, who little realise that united they stand, divided they (both) fall.

After Pakistani Journalist Speaks Out About an Attack, Eyes Turn to the Military

Jason Tanner for The New York Times

After Pakistani Journalist Speaks Out About an Attack, Eyes Turn to the Military

By JANE PERLEZ

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — An investigative reporter for a major Pakistani newspaper was on his way home from dinner here on a recent night when men in black commando garb stopped his car, blindfolded him and drove him to a house on the outskirts of town.

There, he says, he was beaten and stripped naked. His head and eyebrows were shaved, and he was videotaped in humiliating positions by assailants who he and other journalists believe were affiliated with the country’s powerful spy agency.

At one point, while he lay face down on the floor with his hands cuffed behind him, his captors made clear why he had been singled out for punishment: for writing against the government. “If you can’t avoid rape,” one taunted him, “enjoy it.”

The reporter, Umar Cheema, 34, had written several articles for The News that were critical of the Pakistani Army in the months preceding the attack.

His ordeal was not uncommon for a journalist or politician who crossed the interests of the military and intelligence agencies, the centers of power even in the current era of civilian government, reporters and politicians said.

What makes his case different is that Mr. Cheema has spoken out about it, describing in graphic detail what happened in the early hours of Sept. 4, something rare in a country where victims who suspect that their brutal treatment was at the hands of government agents often choose, out of fear, to keep quiet.

“I have suspicions and every journalist has suspicions that all fingers point to the ISI,” Mr. Cheema said, using the acronym for the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the institution that the C.I.A. works with closely in Pakistan to hunt militants. The ISI is an integral part of the Pakistani Army; its head, Gen. Shuja Ahmed Pasha, reports to the army chief of staff, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

Officials at the American Embassy said they interviewed Mr. Cheema this week, and sent a report of his account to the State Department. In response to an e-mail for comment, a spokesman for the ISI said, “They are nothing but allegations with no substance or truth.”

Mr. Cheema had won a Daniel Pearl Journalism Fellowship to train foreign journalists in 2007 and worked in The New York Times newsroom for six months at that time. He has worked at The News since 2007.

In interviews, he said his car was stopped near his home in the capital by men with the words “no fear” inscribed on their clothes. Once he was blindfolded and driven to the safe house, he was handed over to another group of men who carried out the abuse, he said. After six hours, he was dumped on a road 100 miles from the capital, Islamabad.

Mr. Cheema says he wrote more than 50 articles this year that questioned various aspects of the conduct of the military and the government, including corruption accusations against the president, Asif Ali Zardari.

But it was three articles in particular, in June, July and August, on delicate internal army problems that appear to have angered the military.

One article reported on the sensitive issue of the courts-martial of two army commandos who refused to obey orders and join the assault on a radical mosque and school in Islamabad in 2007.

The attack was believed at the time to be unpopular in the army ranks because many soldiers were reluctant to fire on fellow Muslims. Moreover, courts-martial are rarely mentioned in the Pakistani news media, and reporters have been warned not to write about them.

In his article, Mr. Cheema reported that two members of the Special Services Group, an elite commando squad, were being denied fair justice during the court-martial proceedings.

In another article, Mr. Cheema wrote that the suspects in a major terrorist attack against a bus carrying ISI employees were acquitted because of the “mishandling” of the court case by the intelligence agency.

In an article in early August, the reporter described how Army House, the residence of the chief of army staff, was protected by 400 city police officers and not by soldiers, as required by law.

In its political coverage, The News is vociferously against the civilian government of Mr. Zardari, but the opinion pages publish a cross section of views, including pro-military columnists.

While Mr. Cheema has chosen to publicize his case, he is not the only journalist or politician to come under the apparent harassment of the security services.

The law minister in Punjab Province, Rana Sanullah Khan, said that in 2003, when he was an opposition politician and had criticized the army during the presidency of Gen.Pervez Musharraf, he was kidnapped and brutalized in a similar manner.

In January, in Islamabad, the home of Azaz Syed, a reporter for Dawn, the main English-language daily, was attacked by unknown assailants days after he was threatened by supposed ISI agents over an investigative article he was researching related to the military.

Kamran Shafi, a leading columnist and himself a former army officer who writes critically of the military, was harassed and his house was attacked last December by “elements linked to the security establishment,” according to his own account.

In the last several years, journalists in the tribal areas, where the army is fighting theTaliban, have faced special risks and found it increasingly difficult to work for fear of offending either side. In September two journalists were killed in or near the tribal areas, under circumstances that remain unclear.

Pakistan has developed a rambunctious news media spearheaded by round the clock television news channels in the last decade. The military and the ISI are treated with respect by the powerful television anchors, and by newspaper reporters who extol the deeds of the army in battling the Taliban. The ISI is rarely mentioned by name but referred to as “intelligence agencies.”

One reason for the deference, according to a Pakistani intelligence official who has worked with the media cell of the ISI, is that the agency keeps many journalists on its payroll.

Unspoken rules about covering the military and its intelligence branches are eagerly enforced, Babar Sattar, a Harvard-trained lawyer, said. A journalist who trespasses over the line is told to behave, Mr. Sattar said.

Earlier this year, Mr. Cheema said he was called to a coffee shop in Islamabad by an ISI officer and warned to fall into line.

At a journalists’ seminar in Lahore, the editor of a weekly newspaper, Najam Sethi, said it was up to the ISI to declare who had attacked Mr. Cheema.

“If the ISI hasn’t done it, they should tell us who did it because they’re supposed to know,” Mr. Sethi said. “If they don’t tell, the presumption remains they did it.”

But in a column titled “Surprise Surprise” in Dawn, Mr. Shafi said, “We will never find out what happened to poor Umar Cheema because the Deep State does not want us to find out.”

Special Forces Trial in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan’s “My Lai”?

[Victims' relatives want justice for government's murderous reactions to protests in April, but the guilty happen to be holed-up in Minsk.  Prosecutors have settled for making the Special Forces government defenders responsible for the many murders of that day, even though defense claims that they were just following orders.  Sound familiar?  When the same thing came up in the US, during the Vietnam war, the grave injustice moved many young people, such as myself, to learn about social activism.  It will have the same effect in Kyrgyzstan, as the young angry protesters see government scape-goating these men, instead of putting the blame on the men in high offices, where it belongs.]

Special Forces under sight

Bishkek – 24.kg news agency , by Bolotbek KOLBAEV

It is not news that after the April events of 2010 the Kyrgyz law enforcers have been demoralized. The psychological state of not only policemen, but also of the army, causes alarm. Not without the help of the new authorities, the post-revolutionary ail has reached the officers of the intelligence agencies as well.

More than ten officers of the Alfa Special Forces and the State Protection Service (SPS) have been behind the bars for already several months. Relatives and supporters of the accused have been importuning the instances. However their appeals for justice go to pieces at the doors of the officials. Addresses and open letters remain without answer of President Roza Otunbayeva, protest actions also pass unnoticed by the authorities.

The rally of the relatives and just compassionates, held on September 21, have vividly demonstrated the Interim Government’s treatment of citizens of the country. People requested a representative of the administration to come out, but nobody reacted… since it was lunch time. Only after long blandishment, the protesters could win consent that the letter would be handed over to Roza Otunbayeva after consideration by several officials. We do not know whether the letter will reach the head of the country, for the help requests on paper are always lost in the cabinets of officials.

The confused faces of the special force officers, who participated in the rally, reflected their true moral state. Since military man observe the rule, which has not been cancelled by anybody yet. Military men are usually condemned exactly for violation of the rule. Punishments are not specified for execution of orders. In our case, the Alfa and SPS officers are accused of execution of a criminal order – to defend a strategic facility. Though, whether they shot at people or not –has to be yet proved by prosecutors in court, since the ballistics tests showed the opposite.

The relatives of the arrested officers are mainly surprised by the fact that they have been arrested, accused, but the court has not yet been appointed. Azimbek Beknazarov promised that the process on the April events would start on October 1, 2010. However it is still unclear whether the Alfa and SPS officers’ criminal cases will also be considered at that process.

Special surprise is caused by the authorities’ attitude in regard to the commanders of the Special Forces. The SPS Deputy Chairman Nurlan Temirbaev is almost the main accused target in the investigation. We remind that he came to the prosecutor’s office voluntarily, and he was arrested, but later released on his own recognizance. Put it mildly, another surprising thing is the problemless departure abroad of then Chairman of the State National Security Service Murat Sutalinov. By the way, the curator of force structures accused current SNSS Chief Keneshbek Dushebaev of that namely he released his predecessor.

The relatives of the victims and the people, affected during the April events, demand investigation of the mass murders at the Ala-Too Square. The main instigators – Kurmanbek Bakiyev, his brother Zhanybek and Murat Sutalinov – are located outside the republic. What to do? The Ex-President is under safe protection of the Belarusian leader, and location of the others is unknown for the prosecution. The prosecution found the simplest way out – to arrest the subordinates, who executed the orders of the chiefs.

Some arrested officers of the SPS came to service only several months before the April events. One of them was named a sniper, though he was a jumpmaster. There are enough similar examples.

The degree of guilt of the special force officers will be determined by court. And whether the prosecution and the judicial trial will be objective – is a quite different question…

The War In Balochistan–Sept. 25

Another Bullet-riddled Dead Body of A Baloch Lawyer Found in Khuzdar

Another Bullet-riddled Dead Body of A Baloch Lawyer Found in Khuzdar »

The Baloch Hal News QUETTA: Another bullet-riddled dead body of a kidnapped Baloch lawyer, Ali Sher Kurd, was found from a desolate place in Khuzdar district, some 300-kilometer in southeast of Quetta, on late Thursday…

Two Brothers Killed in Khuzdar

Two Brothers Killed in Khuzdar »

The Baloch Hal News KHUZDAR: Two brothers were killed by unidentified men in Tahesil Zehri district of Khuzdar on Friday, police said. According to official sources, victims were standing outside of their residence in Mashk…

Woman Murdered in IDP Camp

Woman Murdered in IDP Camp »

The Baloch Hal News DERA MURAD JAMALI: A women staying in a flood relief camp in Dera Murad Jamali was shot dead on Friday. According to official sources, unidentified armed men riding a motorbike opened…