BEIJING – A day before the start of the holy fasting month for China’s Muslims, at least 11 people were killed in a series of attacks in the north-western region of Xinjiang.
“There were cries and blood everywhere … Terrified people flooded into our office to hide,” Yang Hongmei, a female resident in Xinjaing, told the official Xinhua news agency.
At least eight people were killed when two attacks rocked the far-west city of Kashgar before two gunmen using knives went on assaulting residents.
“Our security guards tried to save the residents while our manager attempted to subdue an attacker by holding him, but the man had a knife and stabbed him in his abdomen,” said Yang.
Three people, including a policeman, were also killed and 28 injured in an explosion in the same city.
The attacks came less than two weeks after 18 people were killed in an attack in the restive Xinjiang region.
BEIJING – Ever since US President Barack Obama decided to begin withdrawing American troops from Afghanistan, global interest in what role (if any) China will play in determining that war-ravaged country’s future has grown dramatically. After all, China is not merely a neighbor of Afghanistan, but the world’s most important rising power – indeed, a “world power,” as Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff proclaimed in Beijing this past June.
If China proves itself willing to help shore up Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s administration, it will not seek to gain any immediate advantage from the withdrawal of US forces. But, despite the billions of dollars China has invested in developing Afghanistan’s natural resources, it is hard to see it undertaking a policy of broader and proactive engagement there.
One reason why China is wary of assuming a bigger role in Afghanistan, despite the country’s undoubted importance for regional stability, is that America’s war there has been controversial in China from the outset. Chinese nationalists believe that the war was undertaken by the US partly in order to place its military near one of China’s most sensitive borders. Moreover, to supply its Afghan forces, the US deepened its military footprint in Central Asia by renting the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, which also shares a border with China.
In the eyes of Chinese nationalists, these efforts were all the part of an American conspiracy to encircle China. Thus, Chinese nationalists can’t wait to see the back of America’s Afghan military presence.
For Chinese strategic realists, any support for America’s efforts to help end the Afghan insurgency should be part of a broader China-US bargain. China might agree not to undermine America as it withdraws only if the US agrees to rethink its arms sales to Taiwan, or to pull back from its commitment to support Japan’s claims to the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, the ownership of which China disputes. Obviously, such deals will be unwelcome in the US.
Given that neither Chinese foreign-policy camp believes that it will get what it wants out of cooperating with the US, both simply want America’s withdrawal to happen as soon as possible, without concern for what Afghanistan will look like afterwards. For both camps, only great-power politics matters for China’s national security, and if diplomacy cannot influence the balance of power, there is little reason to engage with an issue.
For Chinese liberals, Afghanistan is fraught with ethnic threats. By recklessly denying China’s request to extradite Uighur extremists to China for trial, the US showed scant regard for an issue of paramount importance – the threat posed to China’s hard-won unity by separatists. Muslim Uighurs from Xinjiang province were captured in Taliban training campus and jailed at Guantánamo Bay with other international terrorists from 2002 through 2009. China thought their extradition necessary to undercutting international sympathy for Uighur independence seekers. But the US worried about the potential for human-rights abuses in China and rejected the Uighurs’ extradition.
Indeed, former President George W. Bush welcomed Rebiya Kadeer, a leader of the exiled Uighur independence movement, to the White House, embittering many Chinese. And given that the Uighur bastion of Xinjiang is close to China’s borders with Afghanistan and Pakistan, the US was unwise to raise Chinese hackles in this way.
Of course, a stable, orderly, and secular Afghanistan serves China’s interests as much as it benefits the rest of the world. Yet few Chinese are willing to confess that the US-led Afghanistan war, which removed the Taliban and Al Qaeda from their dominant roles in the country, improved China’s domestic security. That refusal is clearly the result of the “structural” ambivalence that now exists between the US and China.
The extent to which China will engage Afghanistan positively will depend in large part on whether China rids itself of the prevailing zero-sum mindset and facilitates America’s military withdrawal by doing what it can to stabilize the country.
China can help by stiffening the resolve of Pakistan’s military to move more aggressively to contain Taliban extremists on its territory; open border regions to help resupply NATO forces in Afghanistan; and invest in the country’s infrastructure. Indeed, China’s relations with Pakistan have assumed greater importance recently, owing to the tensions that now exist between Pakistan and the US.
The Obama administration’s challenge nowadays is to calibrate its recent suspension of some military aid to Pakistan in order to maximize its leverage without pushing the government even closer to the extremists. By working with the US on Pakistan, China can help secure its own interest in a strong Pakistani campaign against the militants on its territory. Regardless of the Bush-era disputes with the US over the Uighur prisoners at Guantánamo, China is in a better position to tell its “all-weather” friends in Islamabad that stabilizing Afghanistan is not only an American objective, but a significant Chinese goal as well.
China’s cooperation may not be essential to defeating Al Qaeda and other militants in Afghanistan, but it will be if lasting peace and stability is to be realized. Chinese and US interests in Afghanistan are unlikely ever to be perfectly aligned, but the two sides can and must learn to cooperate for their own benefit, and that of the region. The challenge for China is to exert its power and influence in a way that harmonizes with the US, despite widespread displeasure among Chinese at America’s position on a variety of issues, from Taiwan to the East and South China seas.
Zhu Feng is Deputy Director of the Center for International & Strategic Studies, Peking University.
Copyright: Project Syndicate, 2011.
From Rezaul H Laskar
Islamabad, July 31 (PTI) Suspected Taliban fighters today shot dead a pro-government tribal elder involved in efforts to repatriate tribesmen who had fled their homes in northwest Pakistan due to fighting between militants and security forces.
The militants, who were riding a motorcycle, shot tribal elder Malik Arsala Khan in the crowded main market of Tank district in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, police officer Shah Nawaz Khan said.
The attackers fled after the incident.
Malik Arsala Khan was appointed chief of a “peace committee” or pro-government militia four months ago, when the government began repatriating internally displaced persons to the restive South Waziristan Agency.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Officials said nearly 200 tribal elders have been killed by Taliban militants over the past five years in South Waziristan Agency, which is located near Tank district.
The Taliban have warned tribal elders and government- backed ”lashkars” or militias against bringing people back to areas where the army is conducting operations against militants.
The government and security forces have stepped up efforts to repatriate displaced people to areas that have been cleared of the Taliban after military operations.
Thousands of people fled homes when security forces launched a major operation against the Taliban in South Waziristan in October 2009.
The army subsequently declared victory over the militants in South Waziristan, the birthplace of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, early last year.
Recent attacks on security forces have raised fears about the presence of militants in some parts of the tribal district.
The Taliban have said they will continue their attacks on security forces.
Islamabad, July 30: Taking bilateral defence relations to a new high, China will give Pakistan a squadron of the advanced J-10B fighter aircraft, a media report said.
The offer was made by senior Chinese military leaders to visiting Pakistan Army’s Chief of General Staff, Lt. Gen. Waheed Arshad, the Urdu daily Jang reported Saturday, quoting defence sources.
The J-10B fighters are equipped with the latest weapons and Pakistan will be the first country, after China, to have these advanced aircraft, it said.
During his visit, Lt.Gen.Arshad was assured that the defence relationship between the two countries will reach new heights and China’s efforts for the safety and security of Pakistan will be never-ending. IANS
Bloomberg appears to be the first news source to report that a tentative deal on the debt ceiling has finally been reached between the GOP and the White House. As Bloomberg reported just minutes ago,
The White House and congressional Republicans have found the framework of an agreement to increase the nation’s debt ceiling that would raise borrowing authority through the next presidential election, a person familiar with the talks said late last night.
The tentative outlines of the accord include spending cuts of $1 trillion and creation of a special committee to recommend additional savings of up to $1.8 trillion. The new panel would have to act before the Thanksgiving congressional recess in late November or government programs including Defense and Medicare would face automatic, across-the-board cuts, the person said.
With the debt ceiling threat eliminated, the process of choosing federal programs to cut will begin. Those negotiations and the political drama surrounding them will likely consume the public’s attention during the 2012 Presidential race. If the Democrats in the Senate accept the deal cut by their President, they will be handing the GOP the victory it sought – dramatically slashing the federal budget without requiring new taxes or even raising revenues by eliminating costly tax exemptions to the wealthiest Americans.
Although the markets may well favorably react to the news, it does nothing to solve the most serious problems facing the country, including our participation in three wars, nine percent unemployment and a burgeoning class of retirees, many of whom lost jobs, property and retirement funds in the economic crash only banks and other financial institutions the likes of JP Morgan, US Bancorp and American Express are recovering from with aid from the U.S. government.
How American voters will react to deep cuts to federal programs meant to stimulate the economy and decrease unemployment in 2012 is as unpredictable as the brinksmanship the public has just endured over the debt ceiling.
AKROTIRI air base near Limassol was yesterday officially designated the British command centre for any international military operation on Libya, British bases authorities confirmed. March 20, 2011
The Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia are two British-administered areas comprising a British Overseas Territory on the island of Cyprusadministered as Sovereign Base Areas of the United Kingdom.
Turkish Cypriot president said on Monday that the British bases were considered sovereign in Cyprus under the 1960 Zurich and London Agreements.
President Dervis Eroglu of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) said when the Republic of Cyprus was being founded in 1960, Britain made bases on Cyprus be accepted as “sovereign.”
“Therefore, there is nothing to intervene,” Eroglu said when commenting on use of British bases in Cyprus during the military operation on Libya.
Eroglu said TRNC wanted establishment of an administration in Libya with the will of the nation.
“The bombardment should not harm civilians in Libya,” Eroglu said.
The USA, the United Kingdom and France have launched an air strike against Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi’s forces to enforce a UN resolution imposing a ban on all flights in Libyan airspace, excluding aid flights, and authorising member states to “take all necessary measures” to “protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack”. Al-Qadhafi has ruled Libya for more than 40 years. An uprising against him began last month after the long-time leaders of neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt were toppled.
Moreover, Eroglu said Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots were a bit away from an agreement that could be accepted by the two parties.
Eroglu said Turkish Cypriots were doing their best to reach an agreement, however he could not say that a progress had been made in ongoing negotiations.
The Greek Cypriots should know that the Turkish Cypriots had the right to live in Cyprus as much as themselves, Eroglu said.
Eroglu said the Greek Cypriots did not feel any obligation to reach an agreement with the Turkish Cypriots as they were a member of the European Union (EU), adding that there could not be a unilateral settlement.
[This is from the Indian press and for all we know, it may be total bullshit. Does anyone really know anything about this alleged "negotiation with the Taliban" psyop, other than the drivel released through the Western media? As far as I can tell, the West is looking for people connected with the Taliban resistance, who are willing and able to sell their movement out. Whoever can help NATO put the Taliban in a box in the south will wind-up with half a country and a good start on the next Afghan civil war.]
Five mullahs hold the key in Afghan peace talks
By Syed Nazakat
At the centre of US President Barack Obama’s plan to have an honourable exit from Afghanistan are five key figures—former Taliban commanders Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, Mullah Abdul Salam Rocketi, Mullah Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Tayeb Agha. Obama’s war advisers have been talking to them in an effort to shift the focus from the battleground to negotiation.
The peace initiative has also made Rocketi, former Taliban military chief of Jalalabad and once a close aide of Taliban chief Mullah Omar, a central figure. Rocketi’s connections with Taliban commanders in the turbulent southern Afghanistan and his relationship with members of parliament have made him a good interlocutor. Muttawakil, former foreign minister, was one of the Taliban commanders invited by the Saudi king in 2008 to initiate the peace talks.
An Afghan tribal leader told THE WEEK that the Taliban leaders who had spoken to him wanted to end the war. He said they preferred direct talks with the US without Pakistan’s intervention. “They know the trouble in Afghanistan started because of foreign interventions—whether it was Russia, the US or Pakistan. We have to decide our fate on our own,” he said.
To facilitate talks, a UN Security Council resolution has removed 14 Taliban leaders from the sanctions list. More importantly, the US has engaged Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and Mullah Tayeb Agha to persuade the Taliban. Baradar, Omar’s brother-in-law and his second-in-command, was captured in Karachi last year. According to a senior Afghan official, Baradar is now willing to be a part of the peace jirga.
But the pursuit of peace can be risky. The Taliban, despite having suffered massive losses in the past 10 years, controls areas in southern Afghanistan and, in the past two years, has even spread to the comparatively peaceful northern regions. This has alarmed the non-Pashtun, anti-Taliban militias, who are vehemently against the negotiations. A civil war along ethnic lines is a possibility. And then there is Pakistan, which has a history of interfering in Afghanistan by training and arming militias it favours.
The top Taliban leader in Pakistan’s lawless tribal agency of North Waziristan has denied that he ordered other “militants” to vacate areas under his control.
Hafiz Gul Bahadar, the emir of the Taliban in North Waziristan, said recent reports that he ordered Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan leader Hakeemullah Mehsud and others to leave the tribal agency were “fabricated.” Bahadar made the statement through his official spokesman, Ahmadullah Ahmadi, according to The News.
Ahmadi warned Pakistani reporters not to attribute false statements and said the Taliban had launched an investigation into the reports.
“We always respected journalists and will continue our cooperation with them in future as well but request them to show honesty and professionalism while writing about sensitive issues,” Ahmadi told The News. “We will not tolerate those involved in defaming the Taliban by such fabricated stories.”
As recently as July 26, a report emerged at IRNA that Bahadar’s Shura-e-Mujahideen had issued a “last warning to those who had attacked the [Pakistani] security forces” after Pakistani troops were killed in an IED attack in North Waziristan. “They should avoid any such action in future otherwise practical steps would be taken against them,” read the statement attributed to Bahadar.
Ahmadi also claimed that there were no “militants” in North Waziristan, and that Bahadar’s Taliban faction has lived up to its terms of a peace agreement with the Pakistani military. But, as documented here at The Long War Journal numerous times, Bahadar provides support and shelter for top al Qaeda leaders as well as terrorists from numerous Pakistani and Central Asian terror groups, including the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan.
North Waziristan serves as a base for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan and non-aligned Taliban groups, the Haqqani Network, al Qaeda, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Jihad Group, and a host of Pakistani terror groups such as Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Punjabi Taliban.
While the left argues with the right and nationalists argue with pro-Westerners, a new ideology has arisen in society that has the potential to win supremacy over the minds of the masses.
People do not have faith in free-market forces, much less in the government. In place of all the failed ideologies of recent decades, people are believing more in conspiracy theories.
But this is not to say these people believe that conspiracies are behind specific events or phenomena. The conspiracy theories have more to do with a new global vision, a worldview contending that every social event of any significance is being guided by some external and inexorable evil force.
According to this theory, an anonymous elite uses the political process to manipulate and control people’s behaviors: The financial and political elite stage revolutions, organize economic crises and finance social discontent. In short, they control the global chaos.
To Russian adherents of this type of conspiracy theory, the United States is the main conspirator, regardless of which president is in the White House. These adherents exploit the cultural baggage accumulated during the Soviet era for their own purposes.
The difference is that Soviet propaganda critical of the United States was focused on exposing the evils of capitalism, whereas the current criticisms serve as an excuse and a cover for Russia’s own corrupt form of state capitalism.
There is no talk of the universal shortcomings of capitalism that affect Russia and the West equally, but only of the ill will of the Americans who, for some reason, have supposedly sent economic and political crises to Russia.
Believers in modern conspiracy theories assert that even floods, tsunamis and earthquakes are the handiwork of evil plotters.
We are thus confronted by the appearance of a new and pagan religion. The world is not guided by the will of a single, benevolent higher power, but by a vast number of conflicting dark forces.
What’s more, adherents of this belief hold that the only way to counter this threat is not to oppose evil with good but to oppose it with even more powerful evil.
What is the secret behind the stunning success of this religion of evil? It frees the common man of any responsibility for his life and actions. It does not promise him the ability to influence the course of history or even to be the master of his own behavior. Rather than promote the idea that people are nothing but cattle, this belief system is the natural outcome of people who agree with this assessment.
This belief in an all-embracing conspiracy not only reinforces people’s tendency to view themselves as little more than cattle, but also makes them smugly self-satisfied in rejecting enlightenment and reason. Even worse, they consider any grassroots attempt to change society from below, including social protest, as pointless.
The people’s reflexive tendency to pacify themselves and to rationalize their own passivity is what finally transforms people completely into cattle.
As the joke about the psychologist says: “The treatment was a success: The patient continues to wet his bed, but now he is proud of it.”
Boris Kagarlitsky is director of the Institute of Globalization Studies.
Posted on July 29, 2011
AIBAK (NNI): Eight Afghan citizens were killed by Tajik forces after they crossed the border into the neighbouring country from northern Samangan province, residents said, but local officials expressed unawareness about the incident.According to an Afghan based news agency, a former member of the Wolesi Jirga, Ahmad Khan Samangani said that a 45-member group of Afghans went to Tajikistan for tourism few weeks back.They were arrested by Tajik forces while collecting herb plants in Kolab area, he said, claiming four of the detainees were killed four days after their arrest.Samangani said he had shared the incident with parliament and had called for seriously investigating into the killings.He also said the Wolesi Jirga secretary had promised to take up the issue with Tajikistan embassy in Kabul.A resident of Gul Qishlaq village in Aibak city, Hafizullah, said his brother Abdul Samad along with 44 others people from Samangan had gone to Tajikistan with a trader Haji Faqir 45 days ago.He added that a dozen of Afghans who were able to escape had reached northern Takhar province through Badakhshan.Mohammadullah, one of the escapees, said that the dead bodies of his eight friends had been transferred to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, by Tajik soldiers and relatives of the victims had been informed that the bodies had been released to Afghan embassy in Tajikistan.Samangan Governor Faizullah Anosh said he had no details about the incident.A relative of one of the victims, Asadullah, said the dead Afghans were of ages between 20 and 30 and they were residents of Tota, Gul Qishlaq and Orlamsh and Hazrat Sultan districts of Samangan.Calls seeking comments in this reagard from the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs were not answered.
‘Corrupt people’ working for government among those family blames for slaying
Kandahar Mayor Ghulam Haider Hameedi, 63, was killed this week because he was a fearless crusader against corruption at all levels of Kandahar’s governments, his daughter says.
“It was not the Taliban who killed him,” Rangina, 34, said.
Rangina, who said she was her father’s closest confidante, said “criminals and thieves and corrupt people working for the government” killed her father.
Hameedi was killed Wednesday morning in the courtyard garden of city hall by a suicide bomber who had concealed the explosives in his turban. While the Taliban have claimed responsibility, they have been known to take credit for killings in which they had no real involvement.
Rangina said Afghan “gangsters” often worked with the Taliban, but it was not the Taliban who killed him.
When she was reminded that he was killed by a suicide bomber, she laughed and said: “These corrupt gangsters are capable of doing anything.”
She said her father was a man of powerful convictions. “He believed that if the criminals in government saw that honesty was the best way to help the people they would change their ways.”
Rangina said her father knew he was a marked man, not from the Taliban but “from the corrupt people in the Karzai government.”
Hameedi grew up in the city and was working as an accountant in the Afghan government’s Finance Department when the Soviets invaded in 1978. He fled Afghanistan in 1981 and eventually moved to the United States with his three daughters and two sons.
His daughter Wazma, 42, lives in Toronto and was visiting Kandahar when her father was killed.
Hameedi was considered the only politician who tried to improve the city by building schools, imposing health regulations, installing sidewalks and lighting, and helping to create low-cost housing projects.
The mayor was well known for exposing corrupt officials and power brokers who had seized government land for their own financial benefit.
Eight months ago, he bulldozed a market with 100 shops owned by a powerful clan in Kandahar called the Mazalai. The land was located behind the governor’s palace and belonged to the city. The land had been slated for the construction of a school.
More recently, he planned to take back government land that corrupt businessmen had seized to build housing so they could collect rents. Many had built walls around the parcels of land they seized but had not yet built houses.
Hameedi wanted to tear down the walls and divide the land into 2,000 small lots to be sold at low prices to lowincome people, government workers and teachers.
“He wanted to legalize it all and anybody who had built a house on the land already would be allowed to stay but with a smaller lot,” Rangina said.
She said her father never hesitated to confront and expose people who tried to bribe him and often warned representatives of coalition forces about corrupt officials or businessmen.
Hameedi believed, for instance, that a contractor paid by Canada to install solar lighting in the city was using substandard solar panels.
He also imposed health regulations on food production. For instance, he forced bakeries to use natural gas instead of burning wood or plastics that polluted the air.
Rangina said that unless the West stops Pakistan from arming and giving insurgents a safe haven, there will be no peace in Afghanistan.
She runs the only business in Kandahar that is owned by a woman. It’s called Kandahar Treasures and it markets Afghan scarves and purses and other items made by Afghan women.
She said she plans to leave the country. “There is nothing left for me here,” she said. “It is very difficult to have hope for the immediate future.”
“My soul aches when I think about hungry soldiers, unpaid officers and their families, who have been suffering for years without a home of their own.”–Boris Yeltsin
* Aug. 2 deadline raises anxiety for U.S. troops
* Fallout on U.S. forces from a default unknown
* U.S. troops seen reporting for duty regardless
By Phil Stewart
KANDAHAR, Afghanistan, July 30 (Reuters) – It is unclear if the United States will be able to pay troops on time in the event of a debt default, the top U.S. military officer told troops in Afghanistan on Saturday.
Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Pentagon officials were working hard to plan for a potential default but cautioned that the circumstances were extraordinary.
“So I honestly can’t answer that question,” he told troops at Kandahar air base in southern Afghanistan, as several expressed anxiety over budget wrangling in Washington.
Potentially suspending pay to U.S. forces waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is an extremely sensitive subject in the United States and Mullen acknowledged that many troops lived paycheck to paycheck.
“So if paychecks were to stop, it would have a devastating impact,” Mullen said, answering questions from troops.
“I’d like to give you a better answer than that right now, I just honestly don’t know,” he said.
The United States has warned that it will run out of money to pay all of its bills after Aug. 2 without a deal from Congress to raise a $14.3 trillion debt ceiling. Where U.S. troops fall in priority for payment in a default has not been made clear.
With $172 billion of revenue between Aug. 3 and Aug. 31, the U.S. Treasury could fully fund Social Security payments, Medicare and Medicaid, interest on the debt, defense vendor payments and unemployment insurance, found a study by the Washington-based Bipartisan Policy Center.
But that would leave entire government departments — such as Labor, Commerce, Energy and Justice — unfunded, and many others unpaid, like active-duty troops and the federal workforce.
Mullen said he believed that troops would be paid eventually, and added that there was an expectation U.S. forces, seen as essential to national security, would need to show up for work.
“I have confidence that at some point in time whatever compensation you were owed you will be given,” he said.
“But I don’t know mechanically exactly how that would happen. And it is a huge concern.”
While a group of congressmen pushed forward a bill this week to ensure that the active military servicemen still get paid in the case of default, there’s no firm plan yet.
The White House hasn’t made any assurances and neither has the Treasury Department.
Some financial organizations that service military clients, like USAA and the Andrews Federal Credit Union, have stepped up to say that they will advance pay if there is a default. (Editing byMichelle Nichols)
[Qaddaffi's words seem to be a bigger threat than his weaponry. Just as in the NATO aggression in the former Yugoslavia, Western interventionists try to silence the cameras and voice recorders, while they attempt to enforce an Islamist government on the people there. In Serbia, TV and radio stations were hit repeatedly to create the news blackout needed to provide cover to NATO's monstrous deeds. Libyan infrastructure, like that in Serbia is being reduced to rubble to force primitive conditions upon the civilized people, hoping to break their will to resist.]
Radio Television Serbia- April 22, 1999
Nato says it has disabled three Libyan state TV satellite transmission dishes in the capital, Tripoli, through a “precision air strike”.
It said the operation was intended to stop “inflammatory broadcasts” by Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
Nato said it was in the process of assessing the effect of the strike.
Libyan state TV broadcasts remained on air following the Nato statement about the raid.
Coalition forces began operations in Libya in March, under a UN mandate authorising military action for the protection of civilians.
Libyan rebels began an uprising against Col Gaddafi in February. Despite Nato’s intervention, they have struggled to break a military deadlock.
A Nato statement said the strike was “performed by Nato fighter aircraft using state-of-the-art precision guided munitions”, and that there had been “due consideration and careful planning to minimise the risks of casualties”.
“Our intervention was necessary as TV was being used as an integral component of the regime apparatus designed to systematically oppress and threaten civilians and to incite attacks against them,” it said.
It said the strike would “reduce the regime’s ability to oppress civilians” but also “preserve television broadcast infrastructure that will be needed after the conflict”.
Reports from Tripoli said a series of loud explosions were heard in the city centre late on Friday evening.
Libyan state TV reported that civilian targets had been hit, though this could not be verified.
The Libyan capital has been a regular target for Nato air strikes in recent weeks.
[The would-be masters of the known universe are betting their asses on their behavior modification capabilities. They are setting more fires than they have firemen.]
Three years after the Russia-Georgia armed conflict, war clouds are again gathering in the Caucasus.
Already deadlocked for years, the peace negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan hit a brick wall on June 24 in Kazan, when a much-anticipated peace summit broke up without agreement. PresidentDmitry Medvedevhad put his personal authority behind the talks, having personally convened nine previous meetings between the two leaders over the past two years.
Now, there is increasing talk of war — a war that would be presumably started by Azerbaijan in a bid to regain the province of Karabakh and the surrounding districts that were seized by Armenian forces during the war from 1992 to 1994. Armenia argues that the Armenian residents of Karabakh have a right to independence and that it is unrealistic to expect Armenians to live as a minority under Azerbaijan’s rule given the history of animosity between the two sides. Each side cites atrocities against civilians committed by their adversary during a conflict that erupted in 1988.
It has become common to describe the standoff as a clash between two competing principles — “self-determination” for Karabakh versus “territorial integrity” for Azerbaijan. This makes the dispute sound like a technical difference of opinion, one that a few good lawyers could easily resolve.
In reality, there is no difference over moral or legal principles between the two sides. Rather, as in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, it is a question of “two peoples — one land.” The disagreement is over who owns a specific piece of real estate: Karabakh, a land-locked mountain region having no particular economic or strategic value and with a population of just over 100,000.
Karabakh has come to have deep symbolic significance for both parties. For Azerbaijan, it is a question of erasing the humiliation of military defeat and seeking justice for the 600,000 refugees that fled into the remainder of Azerbaijan as a result of the war. The refugees are roughly equal to the number of Palestinians who fled Israel in 1948, yet they have been virtually ignored by the international community. For Armenia, it is about holding on to territory after a century during which Armenian residents have been progressively driven from their lands. That process culminated in the massacres — or genocide — that occurred during World War I, a tragedy that still overshadows and immeasurably complicates the conflict over Karabakh.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe proposed some basic principles for a peace settlement back in 2007. The core idea is temporary recognition of Karabakh’s self-rule in return for the withdrawal of Armenian forces from the other occupied districts. These Madrid Principles fudge the question of sovereignty by allowing for a referendum on self-determination in Karabakh at some point in the future. Armenia is being asked to give up something concrete —occupied territories — in return for something ephemeral — promises about a future referendum.
The main carrot being offered Armenia in return for leaving the occupied districts around Karabakh is the opening of the border with Turkey, which was closed by Ankara in solidarity with Azerbaijan in 1993. The 2008 Russia-Georgia war threatened Armenia’s land transit route through Georgia, leaving them dependent on access from Iran. A concerted international effort to persuade Turkey to open the border narrowly failed in October 2009, when domestic political opposition caused Turkey to retreat from an agreement to open the border that was signed with great fanfare in Zurich.
Azerbaijan’s president, Ilham Aliyev, has repeatedly stated that independence for Karabakh is non-negotiable, so Armenia’s reticence about moving ahead with the peace process is understandable. Why is Aliyev continuing to negotiate in the face of Armenian intransigence? If Aliyev can convince the international community that Armenia is blocking the Madrid Principles, that could give him some political cover for launching a war. Aliyev claims that time is on Baku’s side, since Armenia’s population is shrinking due to its stagnant economy, while Azerbaijan is booming thanks to its oil wealth. But Aliyev faces re-election in 2013, and keeping the lid on the opposition will be more difficult absent some progress on Karabakh. In addition, starting in 2014, Azerbaijan’s oil production will be past its peak, and revenues will start to fall.
Even some liberals are saying that a short war — a war in which neither side would probably achieve victory — could clear the way for real negotiations. The model is the 1973 Yom Kippur war, which Egyptian President Anwar Sadat claimed as a victory and which opened the door to the Camp David peace talks.
More important, an indecisive war would discredit the hawks on both sides, enabling peacemakers to strike a bargain without facing a coup when they returned home. Azerbaijan’s gross domestic product is five times that of Armenia, and Baku spent $3 billion in 2010 on its military, more than Armenia’s entire budget. But Armenia has taken delivery of sophisticated Russian hardware, including the S-300 air defense system and is home to a Russian military base housing 5,000 troops, whose tenure was extended last year through 2044.
Thus, an attack on Armenia by Azerbaijan could well trigger Russian intervention, just like Russia’s response to the Georgian attack on South Ossetia in 2008. Aliyev has been trying to maintain good relations with Russia in the hope that Moscow will press Armenia to agree to a settlement and will stay on the sidelines in a future conflict.
The main factor preventing a war is that none of the great powers want to see a resumption of hostilities. The West does not want to see a disruption of oil supplies, and for Russia a war would trigger a wave of refugees and possibly increased Western intervention in their Caucasus backyard. But the Russia-Georgia war of 2008 was a reminder that the major powers cannot always control their smaller allies and client states. If war were to break out, Russia would probably back Armenia because it must be seen as standing up for its main ally in the region. The mere threat of Russian intervention serves as a deterrent to Turkey entering the war in support of Azerbaijan. At the same time, however, Azerbaijan is arguably a more valuable ally for Russia than Armenia because of its important strategic location on the Caspian. Winning Azerbaijan away from the United States would be a substantial strategic gain for Moscow.
In any event, given the large and influential Armenian diaspora in the West, Armenia should not be placed indefinitely in the Russia camp. A few years down the road and a color revolution in Yerevan could see a pro-Western government there. Hopefully, cool heads will prevail, and the existing situation of neither war nor peace will stagger on through another hot summer.
Peter Rutland is professor of government at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
The Moscow Times
|Armenian President Sarksyan’s controversial words sparked harsh criticism from Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan.|
|In defense of recent remarks made by Armenian President Serzh Sarksyan that were considered by Turkish officials an encouragement for young students to fulfill the task of their generation and occupy eastern Turkey, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan rejected the interpretation, saying Sarksyan’s words were “interpreted out of context.”|
|“I believe Turks failed to read the full text, interpreting the president’s words out of context. Serzh Sarksyan’s statement is serious and reasonable,” Kocharyan was quoted as saying in a news report by Armenian news web portal Panarmenian.net on Wednesday. Claiming that all the attention to the remarks, which he called “hysteria” in his statement, was created by Turkey, Kocharyan suggested that Turkey refuses to make sense of the remarks on eastern Turkey “because the country [Turkey] does not need to do so.”
The argument was initiated when Sarksyan replied to a question from a student whether “Western Armenia,” including Mount Ağrı (Mount Ararat), would ever be united with the rest of Armenia, saying that the success of this task depended on future Armenian generations. “When it was necessary, in the beginning of the 1990s, to defend a part of our fatherland — Karabakh — from the enemy, we did it,” said the Armenian leader in a justification of the Armenian occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh, an issue still awaiting resolution, and repeated that “each generation has its responsibilities and they have to be carried out with honor.”
Sarksyan’s words sparked harsh criticism from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who responded harshly during a joint press conference with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Azerbaijan’s capital Baku, condemning the remarks. He called them a “historic mistake” that should be corrected. Erdoğan stated that the remarks amount to an invitation to schoolchildren to occupy eastern Turkish lands which Armenia considers their historical homeland. The significance for Armenians of Mount Ağrı stems from a belief that the Armenians first adopted Christianity as an official religion in A.D. 301 in the area surrounding the mountain, which is now located on the eastern Turkish border with Armenia.
On Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry released a written statement strongly condemning Sarksyan’s remarks, which they interpreted as an “indication that Mr. Sarksyan has no intention of working for peace,” adding that “it is the responsibility of statesmen to prepare their societies, particularly their youth, for a peaceful future instead of provoking them into adopting an ideology of hate.”
Meanwhile, Turkey’s EU Affairs Minister Egemen Bağış also stated on Wednesday that Sarksyan’s remarks show that he does not comprehend the peaceful hand Turkey has extended to his country. “What Sarksyan has done was shoot himself in the foot. We hope the best response to Sarksyan’s delusion is given to him by the Armenian youth,” Bağış told the Anatolia news agency.
Two years ago, Turkey and Armenia were on the verge of signing a twin protocol aimed at normalization between the two countries and establishing diplomatic ties, but the parties failed to agree on preconditions, which ended up blocking the path to normalization.
On a separate note, Armenia has held the upper hand over the thorny Nagorno-Karabakh issue since the country occupied the landlocked region inside Azerbaijani borders in 1994. The dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region is still awaiting the outcome of an international project for a solution, supervised by the Minsk Group, founded in 1992 by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and co-chaired by Russia, France and the United States. The efficiency and legitimacy of the Minsk Group has been disputed as Azerbaijan has, at times, pointed to a biased attitude of the chairing countries, which host populous Armenian diasporas, and to the fact that the Minsk Group has failed, for almost two decades, to come up with an effective solution. Armenia is currently in possession of 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory.
By Fabienne Faur (AFP)
WASHINGTON — Retired CIA analyst Ruth Washington is one of the lucky ones. She says she could survive for six months if Congress fails to reach a debt deal and her Social Security payments are cut off.
But she and other senior citizens are not optimistic about the near future — they say their loved ones could suffer, and they are angry at lawmakers on Capitol Hill for allowing politics to endanger their livelihoods.
“I’m fine. I live well, not beyond my means. It just frightens me to think what all those people on Social Security are going to do without money. What’s going to happen if they don’t receive a check?” Washington, 83, told AFP.
“If the government delays my pension, I have about six months that I could survive on my own.”
Washington spends some of her days at the Hattie Holmes Senior Wellness Center, a gathering place for retirees in a predominantly black neighborhood in the northwest section of the US capital.
She knits, listens to jazz and talks politics with her friends. These days, the battle of attrition between Democrats and Republicans over a plan to avert a calamitous US debt default is the hottest topic on the agenda.
The world’s top economy has said it will no longer be able to borrow funds to pay its bills on August 2 if a deal is not reached — potentially depriving the 54 million Americans on Social Security of their much-needed payments.
Donald Gaines, an 81-year-old retired US Treasury legal expert, said he too could “survive for quite a while” without his pension payments, but worried about his loved ones.
“I own my house, I own my car, I have comfortable savings,” he said.
But Gaines said his son is in trouble. After banks allowed him to borrow 2.5 times the value of his home, he lost his job, and his house went into foreclosure.
“I’m sure I’m going to have to maintain the position of helping my relatives and my close friends — I couldn’t sit back and watch them,” Gaines said.
The AARP, the country’s main advocacy group for seniors, sent an open letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to “address the growing anxiety” among those worried that their benefits will be cut off with little warning.
“Beneficiaries need to know that payments will continue, regardless of the Congressional discussion over an agreement to raise the nation?s debt limit,” the letter said.
“Without Social Security benefits, unprecedented hardship would befall millions of Americans who rely on these earned benefits to pay for life necessities such as food, medications, utilities and shelter.”
Disabled veterans have taken their cause to Facebook, organizing a virtual march on Washington this week to push the government to “honor its moral obligations to those who sacrificed so much in the name of freedom.”
Preston Lee, a 78-year-old former civil servant and accountant, is not alone in voicing frustration at the political deadlock over how to raise the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt limit and curb the ballooning US budget deficit.
“Most of the people I talk with feel that the politicians are really not doing their job,” Lee said. “Do I trust them? I don’t have the choice but to trust them.”
Washington said she was “angry” and accused Republicans of having ulterior motives.
“I don’t think it’s about the debt ceiling — it’s about Obama. They want him to fail and this is a way of getting him to fail. They could have solved this problem a long time ago,” she said.
Gaines agreed, calling the situation “outrageous and completely unnecessary.”
“It’s strictly politics. The Republicans do not want to see Obama succeed in anything. Their whole program is designed to keep him from going a second term,” he said.
“One sentence and a bill could solve the whole problem, but they go so far as to put the whole country in jeopardy just to keep the president from being re-elected.”
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, Blair said the CIA’s unmanned aircraft operation aimed at al-Qaida is backfiring by damaging the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. The former director of national intelligence suggests giving Pakistan more say in what gets hit by drone strikes and when, despite Pakistan’s record of tipping off militants when it gets advance word of U.S. action.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who previously headed the CIA, has lauded the drone campaign as a key tool to take out al-Qaida and other militants in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Strikes, which have more than tripled year-to-year under the Obama administration, are done with tacit Pakistani assent, though publicly, Pakistani officials decry the hits. That tension has grown worse after the U.S. unilateral raid into Pakistan May 2 to kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, and an earlier incident in January, when a CIA contractor was held for killing two Pakistani men in Lahore that he said were trying to rob him.
Blair said the continuing drone strikes are more of a nuisance than a real threat to al-Qaida, and that only a ground campaign by Pakistan would truly threaten it and other militant organizations. The U.S. had been training forces for that purpose until the program was canceled by Pakistan in retaliation for the bin Laden raid.
Al Qaida “can sustain its level of resistance to an air-only campaign,” he said. “I just see us with that strategy walking out on a thinner and thinner ledge and if even we get to the far end of it, we are not going to lower the fundamental threat to the U.S. any lower than we have it now.”
|Killing these infidel Balochies is serving Islam – then one of them stepped forward and started shooting at me, said Nasir Dagarzai Baloch who miraculously escaped death the first time after being shot and dumped by Pakistani army. He wasn’t so lucky the second time; as his killers make sure he won’t survive again.
Following is the story of teenage Nasir Dagarzai Baloch who was first abducted on January 23rd, 2011 along with other colleagues Rasool Baksh, Abid Saleem and Mehrab Baloch. On January 27, four days later, they were shot at and dumped in Panjgoor area. Nasir Baloch miraculously, indeed, survived despite being extremely wounded and dumped.
After initial treatment in a local hospital in Panjgoor, Nasir Baloch was shifted to Quetta for further treatment because his condition was worsening and he needed extensive care. At the, Quetta, Hospital the Pakistan intelligence agencies visited him continuously. It was assumed that as soon as he gets better he’d abducted again. The doctors had put a rod in his broken leg and had asked him to visit back in five months’ time. Fearful of re-abduction Nasir Baloch’s family shifted him to his home town and rest of the treatment was carried out there.
After four months of slow recovery, on 25 May 2011 Nasir Baloch was on his way to see his doctor and ask him to take the Iron rod out from his leg. He was travelling from Kharan to Quetta, Balochistan, by Al-Emirate Coaches; when the passenger bus arrived at Luckpass Police and FC joint check point it was stopped. The intelligence agencies personnel already waiting for the Coach boarded the bus and dragged Nasir and his brother, Gull Mohammad Baloch, out; put them in their car and drove off. This happened before the eyes of other passengers of the bus and the local police and FC (Pakistan’s Paramilitary forces).
Nasir Baloch and his brother’s whereabouts remained unknown until his bullet riddled mutilated body was found from Western Bypass area of Quetta on July 17 of this year along two other Baloch, who were later identified as Maqsood Qalandarani Baloch and Murtaza Sarparah Baloch.
During his recovery from earlier torture Nasir Baloch was visited by several of his friends and well-wishers they insisted that he must tell them what he had gone through? Who abducted him and how he survived? On the continuous insistence of his friends he narrated the following story. The friends did not publish his story earlier because they didn’t want to risk his life. Now that he has been re-abducted and killed under-custody his friends decided to publish his story just to give a picture of the brutalities of Pakistan’s so called Islamic army and let the world know about the suffering of Baloch political activists who are still in custody of this savage military.
Nasir Baloch’s Narration according him: [warning graphic narration] “On January 23, I along with my three friends (Rasool Baksh, Abid Saleem, Mehrab Baloch) were sitting at my place when we heard a knock at the door. Mehrab has asked Rasool Baksh to check – who is at the door. As soon as Rasool Baksh went out nearly a dozen FC and Military personnel jumped the wall of the house and came in; they ordered us to put of hands up – we did as we were told. Some of the army men went to the next room and ordered all women and children to come out. When they came out they were made stand in a row and an old army officer shamelessly started taking off the earrings from the ears of the women and he also ordered them to handover their rings, watches and whatever else they had in their possession. Later they tied the mouth of women with clothes and locked them in the other room. They then blindfolded and started beating us with butts of guns and kicks; they also verbally abused us. They dragged us out of our home and put us in their cars. After a while of driving we felt that we were in a room being beaten by sticks, kicks, gun butts and they were swearing at us again.
When they open the piece of cloth from our eyes, there was this dark room; people were hanging [by the ceiling] upside down above us. Then, there comes this old white bearded man [Military official] the first day and he tells us: “Listen! I am in the stat of ablution from past 25 years. I have not committed any sins since my childhood. If anyone lies to me I can immediately feel, with the help of my afflatus, that this person is lying. So now! You guys tell me how many people have you killed?”
Mehrab and I replied simultaneously that we bear GOD our witness that we have never killed anyone. Upon hearing this, the old man takes out his knife and starts slitting the thighs of Mehrab; he literally cut a piece of flesh from Mehrab’s thigh. Then he turns to me a starts slitting my chest with that sharp knife. Meanwhile I saw another soldier pushed Abid Saleem to the wall and started hammering his palms on the wall with a huge sharp nail. I heard Abdi Saleem screaming just once and then he lost his conscious – he just fainted before our eyes – but the brutal military official kept hammering his palms to the wall. Our other two friends were also watching what we were going through as they were sitting in the same room. Soon I lost my conscious too.
When I regain my conscious I saw this old brutal and savage soldier rubbing some white powder on my wounds; as soon has he rubbed this powder my entire body, mind and heard started burning. At one glace I saw Abid Saleem and Mehrab were tied with electric wires and they were being given electric shocks – I could feel their agony – they were moving just like a fish out of water. Then they started beating me with a flat plastic belt which Iron bolts had fixed to it, the torturers kept saying: “You’re enemy of Allah, his prophet and Islam. You kill Punjabis, and we are only here to protect them; any Baloch who say wrong about any Punjabi, We will cut off his tongue” – they uttered all these words in one breath while still giving electric shocks to my friends and beating me with the plastic belt.
After all this torture and inhuman treatment they did not ask us any questions but the torture continued. We would lose our conscious and they would wait until we regain conscious and start beating us again. This continued all night.
The following morning the same old white- bearded man showed up again and asked us not to force him to commit any sin. “Tell me the truth! Who are your other friends in Panjgour”? Now we were half-dead; we could only hear but could not speak a single word. Then he ordered his men to untie our hands; as soon as our hands are untied – suddenly they attacked Mehrab and broke his arm before our eyes. They did the same to Abid Saleem and then broke my arm. We all fainted again and when I regain conscious – I saw Abid Rasool Baksh’s body hanging by ceiling – they executed him in the same room where they kept us; he was dead.
Then they put me in a jeep – I was kind of happy and relieved that they are going to let me go – however, the car stopped after a while and they dragged me out of the car. I saw around twenty military men standing in line – then one of them stepped forward and started addressing the others: “since we the army of God, we are fighting for Allah almighty and these Balochi people are kaafir (infidels). They are fighting against Allah and his prophet on the saying of Israel and India that is why killing them in permissible and serving Islam”. After the speech all the solders said “Allaho Akbar – God is great”. Then one of the solders came forward and started firing live bullets at me. Soon I fainted again this time when I regain my conscious I found myself in the Hospital”.
This was the story of late Nasir Baloch who suffered at the hand of the soldiers of Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He was lucky enough to survive first time but his killers made sure that he won’t survive again to expose them. This story also illustrates the pain and suffering of other Baloch political activist that had been killed under custody and those who are still in the illegal secret prisons of Pakistani army. This painful story is enough evidence for the world to open their eyes, wake up and start taking notice of Pakistan’s atrocities against Baloch people. The criminal silence of International Human Rights Organisations and the International Community as a whole is encouraging the brutal Pakistani military to commit more crimes.
Source: BUC Urdu BLOG
This file photo shows Russian President Dmitry Medvedev giving an interview to the Financial Times newspaper in St. Petersburg, June 18, 2011. AFP photo
Russia plans to place U.S. officials on a visa blacklist in response to the U.S.’ decision to ban entry to Russian officials linked to the prison death of a lawyer, the Kremlin said Thursday.
Washington outraged Moscow by banning visas for an unspecified number of Russian officials linked to the 2009 death in prison of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky which became a symbol of abuses in the Russian judicial system.
The Russian foreign ministry warned on Wednesday that it would take “adequate measures” against the U.S. over the move, which it warned could damage diplomatic relations. “I can confirm that the Russian foreign ministry, on the order of the President (Dmitry Medvedev) is working on measures against U.S. citizens which are the same as those announced by the State Department,” Kremlin spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said.
She told the ITAR-TASS news agency that Russia was “bewildered” that the State Department had decided to prejudge the guilt of the officials before Moscow had completed its own investigation. The State Department did not say what officials were on the blacklist but Magnitsky’s supporters have accused senior investigators of deliberately allowing him to die in a bid to silence the lawyer.
Magnitsky, 37, died in the Matrosskaya Tishina jail in Moscow of untreated pancreatitis after being held in pre-trial detention in a complex fraud case for 11 months. The council that advises Medvedev on rights said Magnitsky was likely beaten in jail and criticized the fact that the very investigators the lawyer had accused of fraud charged him with the same crimes and led the case against him. But so far criminal probes have only been opened against the doctor and deputy head of the Butyrskaya prison in Moscow where Magnitsky had been held for several months. U.S.-Russian relations soured during President George W. Bush’s administration but improved significantly under Obama, who took office in 2009 promising a “reset” in bilateral ties.
Compiled from the reports of AFP and Reuters by the Daily News staff.
This file photo shows protesters holding up a poster of Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias and marching to the presidential palace to protest the munitions blast.
The entire cabinet of Greek Cypriot President Dimitris Christofias, under fire after a munitions blast killed 13 people and wrecked the island’s main power plant, resigned on Thursday, as Christofias himself said he had no intention of stepping down.
The 11 ministers were asked by Christofias to submit their resignations so a reshuffle could take place, government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou told reporters. “The president … briefed ministers of his intention to make a general reshuffle of the cabinet and for this reason requested that ministers put their resignations at his disposal,” he said. The ministers will stay on until a new government is appointed.
Asked by a reporter if he had thought about it, he said: “No, not in any case. The people elected me and I am accountable to the people.” Stefanou said there will be a reshuffle “soon” following consultations with the government’s coalition partners and other parties.
“It is a move for the president to seek to appoint a government of wider acceptance to achieve consensus on economic measures and to restore public trust,” he said. The move comes after junior coalition partner Diko told its ministers on Wednesday to quit the government. And it follows an announcement by ratings agency Moody’s that it had downgraded Greek Cypriot government bond ratings in part over the economic fallout from the blast and the “increasingly fractious domestic political climate.”
Christofias and his team are widely accused of failing to prevent the explosion, which also injured more than 60 people, caused millions of euros in damage to homes and businesses in the vicinity and threatened economic recovery on the island. Diko said its ministers were asked to tender their resignation to Christofias to “assist and expedite decision making and taking initiatives which everybody expects”.
It said decisions needed to be taken to “restore the trust of citizens in the state and its institutions and rescue the economy.” A reshuffle is supported by communist Akel, the president’s own party. Diko had two ministers — health and commerce — in the cabinet following the resignation of Foreign Minister Marcos Kyprianou last week.
Leaked documents in the media indicate that officials knew that the 98 shipping containers of munitions — piled up in the blazing sun at the base near Limassol — could explode. The government has said Christofias was never made aware of the risk. Among those killed was the head of the Greek Cypriot navy, Captain Andreas Ioannides, who was reported to have repeatedly denounced the situation. The blast also claimed six firemen and six other military personnel.
The key Vassiliko facility provided more than half of the country’s electricity. Since the blast, thousands have gathered nightly outside the presidential palace to call on Christofias to resign following the island’s worst peacetime military disaster. The containers had been at the base since their seizure in February 2009 when Greek Cyprus intercepted, under pressure from the U.S. and other Western nations, a Cypriot-flagged freighter bound from Iran for Syria.
|[SEE: 'Turkey's 'sledgehammer plot' ]|
|Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner|
|Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner and the commanders of the air, navy and land forces have all resigned from their positions amid controversy over the appointment of generals.|
|Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan earlier ruled out any prospects of tension between the government and the military at a Supreme Military Council (YAŞ) meeting slated for Monday, saying that the decisions to be made at the meeting will be in accordance with the law.
Last August, Turkey witnessed tensions between the military and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government when the General Staff attempted to promote a number of generals and admirals standing trial in criminal cases. The government resisted the move and the individuals were eventually not promoted.
YAŞ meets each August to discuss promotions and dismissals within the armed forces. The fact that there are some commanders and military officers who are suspects in ongoing coup cases has led some to speculate that there could be disagreement between the military and the government about the promotion of these individuals. The ruling AK Party had earlier signaled that it would not give the green light for the promotions of these individuals at the YAŞ meeting.
Currently there are 195 suspects, all retired and active duty members of the armed forces, in the ongoing case of Sledgehammer, a suspected coup plan devised at a military gathering in 2003 that allegedly sought to undermine the government in order to lay the groundwork for a military takeover. More senior military personnel have recently been arrested and jailed on charges of links to the subversive coup plan. The government plans to prevent the promotion of 41 Sledgehammer suspects who are active TSK members.
Before this year’s YAŞ meeting, Erdoğan, Koşaner and President Abdullah Gül had a summit to prevent a similar crisis from happening. The government and the military agreed that none of the generals that are currently in jail will be promoted.
Gül made a statement on Friday, saying his meeting last week with Erdoğan and Koşaner should not be seen as a glitch in communication. “These are normal things. As the president, I need to know what I am signing when such important decisions are made. I can’t blindly sign any document,” he said. The president also said he felt the need to make this statement, speaking to journalists outside a mosque after Friday prayer, because there have been many questions from journalists inquiring if the pre-YAŞ meeting indicated a problem.
Erdoğan on Friday said he wanted no surprises, adding that everything should be done according to the law. “I don’t think there will be any tension. The convention will proceed very smoothly. The laws regarding dismissals and promotions are obvious. The laws in this country are functioning normally. What the laws call for will be done.”
All the commanders except Koşaner were already set to retire on Monday.
The government made it clear that the appointments and promotions at the upcoming YAŞ meeting will be in line with laws regulating dismissal and promotion, while commanders insisted on upholding long-held traditions the military has adhered to for decades in the appointment and promotion of senior-level commanders.
Gen. Işık Koşaner
Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Işık Koşaner requested his retirement Friday afternoon.
His request was followed by the similar requests by Turkey’s Land, Sea and Air Force commanders.
The Supreme Military Council, or YAŞ, is to meet on Monday.
Other soldiers are expected to be promoted so that that the council can convene.
Gendermarie Commander Gen. Necdet Özel, the only commander who did not ask for retirement, later arrived at Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s office for a meeting.
Erdoğan and Özel are expected to release an official declaration.
[There are some very strange things about this case, which might indicate collusion between the Pak. authorities and the Pakistani Taliban. Who notified the TTP that these Swiss travelers were being let go? Why were these two Swiss policemen in Balochistan, without following local laws requiring notification of authorities first? What had they been doing in India, first? Why were they taken into police custody? Why, if they were really traveling to Iran, as indicated by the authorities, were they turned loose heading north, away from Iran? Why do the police still have their IDs? What does this say of TTP connections with Baloch terrorists? As usual--nothing but questions about Pakistan.]
An unconfirmed report says the Taliban in Pakistan will release two Swiss tourists they kidnapped at the beginning of July if the United States frees a Pakistani scientist convicted of terrorism.
The Swiss pair were abducted in the southwestern Baluchistan province while travelling across Pakistan in their camper van.
The Associated Press said it spoke to Taliban commander Waliur Rehman on Thursday in South Waziristan, a northwestern tribal region.
Rehman told AP that the Taliban had ordered the kidnapping in order to gain freedom for Aafia Siddiqui, a US-educated woman who is serving 86 years in an American jail for trying to kill US officials in Afghanistan.
Rehman said the Swiss had not been tortured but if Siddiqui was not freed, their fate would be in the hands of a Taliban court.
The Swiss foreign ministry refused comment on the latest development, saying only that it had “taken note” of the information published in the press.
A spokesman referred to a government statement on July 2 which said the authorities had set up a task force which would do everything in its power to free the hostages and ensure no harm came to them.
swissinfo.ch and agencies
The Swiss identity card of Oliver David Och (L) and the Swiss driving licence of Daniela Wildmer are set on a table at a police station in Quetta. -AFP Photo
Och is a policeman in canton Bern, while Widmer is a former policewoman from the same force, but a Bern police spokeswoman stressed: “They were travelling in Pakistan in a private capacity.”
The couple’s blue Volkswagen van was found abandoned in Killi Nigah after they were snatched in Loralai district, around 170 kilometres (100 miles) east of the Baluchistan capital Quetta.
According to visas stamped in their passports, they entered Pakistan from India on June 28.
Officials say that so far, the kidnappers have conveyed no demands.
The pair entered Baluchistan from Punjab province and might have been heading for Quetta, perhaps en route to Iran, officials said.
Official: 2 Swiss kidnapped in SW Pakistan
By ABDUL SATTAR | ASSOCIATED PRESS
Gunmen kidnapped a Swiss man and woman as they were eating at a hotel in Pakistan’s southwest Baluchistan province on Friday, an official said.
The kidnapping underscores the deep insecurity in Pakistan, where abductions have been on the rise. Many are carried out by criminals, and some are believed to lead to ransoms that help fund militants.
Authorities were trying to figure out exactly who the Swiss pair were and what they were doing in the Lorali area, local official Sohailur Rehman said.
The Swiss Foreign Ministry said it was aware of a possible kidnapping case in Baluchistan. Spokeswoman Jenny Piaget said the ministry was in contact with Pakistan authorities but would give no further details.
The Swiss pair were driving from Punjab province, and when they reached Lorali, about 90 miles (150 kilometers) north of Quetta, the capital of the province, they were given a police escort. However, once they reached its outskirts, beyond the area under the police jurisdiction, they were left without the security guides, Rehman said.
Baluchistan is a particularly dangerous region in Pakistan. It is the scene of a low-level separatist insurgency, and criminal gangs involved in the kidnapping for ransom trade are common.
Most kidnapping victims in the country are Pakistani, but foreign aid workers, diplomats and other foreigners have also been targeted.
|Khalid al-Faqih – Occupied Palestine
Left the Palestinian leader, Mohammad Dahlan, the Palestinian territories by Jordan after the Palestinian Authority raided his home and arrested his bodyguards and confiscated their weapons, and Palestinian sources revealed that the interventions of Mannar Arab secured to Dahlan this director after the decision referred to the Public Prosecution on charges of corruption.
A Fatah official has reported that the former member of the movement, Mohammed Dahlan, has left the Palestinian territories and returned to Jordan.
A source from the Palestinian security forces added that a large illegal weapons cache was confiscated from Dahlan’s home in Ramallah, as well as thousands of unregistered bullets found on his guards. (Elior Levy)
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and President George W. Bush, whose secret Palestinian intervention backfired in a big way. Photo illustration by Chris Mueller; left, by Debbie Hill/Sipa Press; right, by Issam Rimawi/ApaImages/Polaris; background by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters/Corbis.
[SEE: The Gaza Bombshell]
Vanity Fair has obtained confidential documents, since corroborated by sources in the U.S. and Palestine, which lay bare a covert initiative, approved by Bush and implemented by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Adviser Elliott Abrams, to provoke a Palestinian civil war.
The Americans are ratcheting up the rhetoric against the Mullahs of Iran.
Last week a senior military officer warned Iran against developing nuclear weapons and supporting Iraqi insurgents. No evidence was offered for these accusations but in this day and age of what passes for “American Diplomacy”, mere faith based rhetoric and semantics is sufficient.
Lets be clear……the mullahs of Iran are happy for the USA to do their job for them in IRAQ.
Saddam’s Iraq against whom Iran fought a long hard 8 year war, and lost………… with 1,000,000 deaths unofficially and $500 billion worth of physical damage to the country. Iran is VERY VERY VERY happy that the Americans got rid of Saddam and have expressed openly the satisfaction of this fact to the USA several times directly.
The Mullahs of Iran are happy with the Americans in Iraq for a second reason.
The minority SUNNIS of Iraq (20% of the population) who ran the country for 1300 years for the first time are no longer in power, but the majority SHIA who are politically, socially and psychologically aligned to Iran.
Everything is just peachy for Iran/Iraq relations thanks to the USA and its expenditure and sacrifices in the country. Why unsettle this apple cart godsend feast for Iran NOW by backing a few inconsequential insurgency activities in the country which could be linked to Iran if discovered, and reverse the near exit of ALL noble American warriors from the sand nigger country?
The mullahs are stupid to be sure, but not that stupid.
The insurgency in Iraq is SUNNI against the USA, backed by Saudi Arabia…..possibly Syria, though no evidence, Jordan and Libya all of which are Sunni run countries.
There is malicious devious speculation that the recent attacks in Iraq are the work of the USA itself since some of its power elements don’t want to leave Iraq after all the love and care poured into the country…and the attacks thus become a timely justification for the USA to stay.
As to Iran and “al-Qaeda”………….oh pleeez! Iran is a SHIA run country, and “al-Qaeda” is a phantom non-existent front of Western Intelligence which according to many many many credible Western sources is almost finished as an organization. So why would Iran want to tie-up with a has been organisation? Further given the acrimony of these two entities, and the ever diminishing returns of “al-Qaeda” as a organized threat….why would Iran make a pact with such an organization? Have we been watching too many Hollywood movies?
Why is the treasury Department making pronouncements on security issues?
No Evidence, But Treasury Dept ‘Convinced’ Deal Exists
Fresh off of weeks of accusing the Iranian government of secretly backing Iraqi Shi’ite militias against the US occupation force there (without any evidence) the Obama Administration is now accusing the Iranian government of having entered into a “secret deal” with al-Qaeda.
The latest allegations came by way of the US Treasury Department, which claimed that al-Qaeda is using Iran as a “pipeline” to funnel cash and extremists to various countries. They named al-Qaeda ‘facilitators’ involved but named no Iranian government officials.
And indeed, they conceded that there was no actual evidence to back up this claim either, but simply maintained that they are “convinced” that such a deal simply must exist. Though al-Qaeda has long sought a presence in Iran’s Sunni southeast (forging ties with Sunni Baloch separatist movements), this has usually been to the detriment of the Shi’ite government, and Iran has been fighting al-Qaeda openly for decades.
Which makes the claims of a “deal” puzzling, as the two sides have a strong ideological and historical animosity. The entire basis of the claim seems to be that since al-Qaeda has a presence in Iran and since the US is hostile toward both, it is only natural that they must be in cahoots. The fact that it makes absolutely no sense is only a minor inconvenience for an otherwise useful narrative.
(“al-Qaeda” doesn’t have a presence in Iran….when the USA invaded Afghanistan in 2001, some of the 5000 Arab Jihadis who fought for the Taliban in Afghanistan tried to escape via Iran back to the Gulf…..they were captured..some returned to Gulf state custody, others pending the decision of Gulf state governments have been under house arrest in Iran. Many Arab states don’t want these Arab Jihadis back in their countries but neither can they imprison them automatically as most have done nothing against their natural country……..hence the limbo of the Arab Jihadis in Iran under house arrest)
[Ukrainian coal miners might have the worst jobs on the planet, considering the dangerous near-primitive conditions in some of the mines, the constant cave-ins and explosions, coupled with the constant agitation of having to work everyday, without knowing when, or if, they will ever get paid. In addition to these miserable conditions, there are the political divisions in Ukraine between the Russians and the Ukrainians, the miners and the owners, the statists and the democrats. Many of the recent fires and explosions to plague this region have been blamed on pissed-off miners...that remains to be proved. The following Google map included below, is rerun from the previous reports.]
An explosion at the Ukrainian mine killed 16 people on Friday. Picture: Alexander Khudoteply. AFP
An explosion at a Ukrainian coal mine killed 16 miners Friday, with nine others missing, while one person was killed in a second accident.
Ukraine’s emergency services ministry said that nine workers were unaccounted for at the mine in the Lugansk region in eastern Ukraine, after previously saying 10 people were missing.
Two more miners were hospitalized from the blast, which occurred at a depth of 3,002 feet (915 meters). The cause of the explosion was under investigation.
In a separate incident, one miner was killed and eight injured in a collapse in the Donetsk region, also in the east of the country, the ministry said.
A 230-foot (70-meter) head frame, which is used to lower workers down mines, collapsed at the site in the city of Makiyivka, AFP reported.
Ukraine’s coal mines are considered among the most dangerous in the world, employing the use of outdated, Soviet-era equipment.
[The social scientists and computer geeks have proven that we only need to convince 10% of the people, in order to advance our beliefs. Much like the theory of the "hundredth monkey," when "X" number of people learn something, it then spreads throughout the community. We only need to convince one-tenth of the people that "911 was an inside job," the "war on terror is a fraud," or that "the CIA killed Kennedy," in order to infect the remainder with our beliefs.]
Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have found that when just 10 percent of the population holds an unshakable belief, their belief will always be adopted by the majority of the society. The scientists, who are members of the Social Cognitive Networks Academic Research Center (SCNARC) at Rensselaer, used computational and analytical methods to discover the tipping point where a minority belief becomes the majority opinion. The finding has implications for the study and influence of societal interactions ranging from the spread of innovations to the movement of political ideals.
“When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”
As an example, the ongoing events in Tunisia and Egypt appear to exhibit a similar process, according to Szymanski. “In those countries, dictators who were in power for decades were suddenly overthrown in just a few weeks.”
The findings were published in the July 22, 2011, early online edition of the journal Physical Review E in an article titled “Social consensus through the influence of committed minorities.”
Read more at RPI News.
Keywords: tipping point
By Eli Lake
The Washington Times
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton questioned her Russian counterpart twice in recent months about reports of the Moscow government’s involvement in the bombing attempt on the U.S. Embassy in Georgia in September.
Mrs. Clinton raised the Sept. 22 incident in February on the sidelines of an international security conference in Munich during talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, according to four U.S. officials.
At the meeting Feb. 5, Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Lavrov signed the New START arms pact, which President Obama has said is the centerpiece of his administration’s new “reset” policy of seeking closer ties with Russia.
However, the officials said that despite the issue having been raised in Munich, Russian GRU Maj. Yevgeny Borisov, who the Georgian Interior Ministry and a CIA-authored report have said is behind a spate of bombings in Georgia, continues to operate from a base in the breakaway Georgian province of Abkhazia.
The National Intelligence Council, the analytical arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, provided Congress on Thursday with a new analysis of the blast. One administration official told The Washington Times there was “no consensus” on responsibility for the Tbilisi blast.
The new analysis followed disclosure by The Times on July 22 of aRussian government link to the attempted bombing that was based on aGeorgian government probe and a CIA study.
Mrs. Clinton brought up the bombing a second time on July 13, the same day she and Mr. Lavrov signed a new U.S. agreement on child adoptions.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined to comment on the discussions. “We can’t get into the substance of our diplomatic exchanges with any other country,” he said. “We do discuss with all parties in the region issues affecting regional security and stability. I am not going to get into specifics.”
In an interview Thursday, Shota Utiashvili, director of information and analysis for the Georgian Interior Ministry, revealed that Maj. Borisovremains in Abkhazia.
Some U.S. intelligence officials complained that the U.S. reaction to the possible state-sponsored terrorism has been too weak. “The fact that this GRU major is still at large in Abkhazia should tell you all you need to know about how effective our response has been,” one U.S. intelligenceofficial said.
Normally, intelligence officers who are exposed by another government are recalled home and their careers are cut short.
Russian officials have denied the charges and accused Georgia of trying to foment a propaganda campaign by pinning the embassy blast on their military intelligence service.
“It looks like the aim of the publication in The Washington Times is to trigger a second propaganda wave around issues that have already been discussed with American and Georgian representatives at the beginning of this year,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin told Russia’s Interfax news agency.
David Smith, chief negotiator during defense and space talks with the Soviet Union during the George H.W. Bush administration said Russia’s motivation for such activities is “fairly clear.”
“Part of the reason they do these things is precisely because it is not clear to Westerners why they would do them,” he said. “They are out to destabilize Georgia. They are out to make it look like it is a chaotic and lawless place.”
DUSHANBE, July 28 (Reuters) – Border guards in Tajikistan have shot dead eight gunmen trying to smuggle drugs into the ex-Soviet republic from neighbouring Afghanistan, a senior Tajik security official told Reuters on Thursday.
The border guards seized 50 kg (110 lb) of various drugs after the shootout with a group of 12 gunmen, which took place on Wednesday some 200 km (125 miles) southeast of the Tajik capital Dushanbe, the official said, requesting anonymity.
“Eight of the armed drug couriers were killed, another four managed to return to the neighbouring country,” he said, adding that there had been no losses among the border guards.
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasul, on a visit to Tajikistan, said he had been informed of the border incident and wanted more details of the shootout before his return to Kabul.
Tajikistan, a mountainous country of 7.5 million people bordering Afghanistan and China, was ravaged by a civil war in 1992-97 and remains the poorest of the 15 former Soviet nations.
It relies heavily on remittances from migrant workers.
Afghan opiate drugs — mainly heroin — make their way across Tajikistan further into vast and sparsely populated Central Asia to reach their main final destination, Russia.