Mahmoud Abbas Makes His Move At UN

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas makes UN statehood bid

Mahmoud Abbas shows UN request - 23 September
Mr Abbas said Palestinians were waiting to hear the world’s answer

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has submitted his bid to the UN for recognition of a Palestinian state.

Addressing the General Assembly shortly afterwards, he called on the Security Council to immediately approve full Palestinian membership of the UN.

He said the Palestinians had entered negotiations with Israel with sincere intentions, but blamed the building of Jewish settlements for their failure.

Israel’s PM will speak shortly. Israel regretted the bid, his spokesman said.

Israel and the US say a Palestinian state can only be achieved through talks with Israel.

President Barack Obama told Mr Abbas on Thursday that the US would use its UN Security Council veto to block the move, but Mr Abbas vowed to press ahead with the bid.

“I call upon Mr Secretary-General to expedite transmittal of our request to the Security Council, and I call upon the distinguished members of the Security Council to vote in favour of our full membership,” he told the General Assembly, as many delegates gave a standing ovation, adding that he hoped for swift backing.

“I also appeal to the states that have not yet recognised the State of Palestine to do so.”

“The time has come for my courageous and proud people, after decades of displacement and colonial occupation and ceaseless suffering, to live like other peoples of the earth, free in a sovereign and independent homeland,” he said.

‘Future and destiny’

Meanwhile in the West Bank, crowds roared their approval as Mr Abbas demanded UN acceptance of a Palestinian state within pre-1967 borders.

“With our souls, with our blood, we will defend Palestine,” they said.

Mr Abbas had called for peaceful marches in support of his initiative, but some clashes were reported:

  • One Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops during clashes in the village of Qusra, south of Nablus, Palestinian sources say
  • At the Qalandiya checkpoint, Israeli troops fired tear gas on stone-throwing Palestinian youths
  • In the village of Nabi Saleh, protesters burned Israeli flags and pictures of President Obama

The process began with Mr Abbas presenting a written request for UN recognition of the Palestinian territories as a state to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Palestinian sources say the request is concise and short, and envisages a state based on pre-1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.

Mr Netanyahu’s spokesman Gidi Shmerling responded almost immediately, saying: “We regret the step. We believe that the only path to true peace is through negotiations and not unilateral steps.”

The BBC’s Kim Ghattas at the UN says that until the last minute Western diplomats tried and failed to stop the Palestinians making the request.

Even now, efforts are under way to restart direct talks between the Israelis and Palestinians in an attempt to defuse tensions, our correspondent says.

If Mr Ban decides the application is in order, the Security Council will examine it and vote on it. In order to pass, it would need the backing of nine out of 15 council members, with no vetoes from the permanent members.

A Security Council vote could take weeks to come about and the US may not even need to exercise its veto – Washington and Israel have been lobbying council members to either vote against the Palestinian plan or abstain.

But the Palestinians’ application has given them some political initiative, putting their case for independence back on the international agenda in a much more urgent way than it was before, says the BBC’s Middle East analyst Jeremy Bowen.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has urged a compromise, suggesting the General Assembly give the Palestinians enhanced status as a non-member state to allow a clear timeline for talks – a month to start negotiations, six months to deal with borders and security and a year to finalise a “definitive agreement”.

A vote on enhanced status – enjoyed by others such as the Vatican – would not require a Security Council recommendation but a simple majority in the General Assembly, where no veto is possible.

Currently the Palestinians have observer status at the UN.

The “Quartet” of US, European, Russian and UN mediators has been working on reaching a framework agreement to restart talks, based on Mr Obama’s vision of borders fashioned from Israel’s pre-1967 boundary, with agreed land swaps.

they martyr everyone who is opposed to their permanent presence

Iranian FM Official Blames NATO for Rabbani’s Assassination

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official here on Wednesday condemned the US-led NATO forces in Afghanistan for the last night assassination of former Afghan President Burhanudin Rabbani.

Speaking to FNA here in Tehran on Wednesday, Head of the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s Afghanistan Headquarters Mohsen Pak-Ayeen voiced deep regret over the cowardly assassination of the former Afghan president, and described Rabbani as a clergy Mujahed (combatant of God) who fought against the colonialist policies of such countries as England and the former Soviet Union.

He reminded that Rabbani also strongly opposed a security pact between Kabul and Washington on the establishment of permanent US military bases in Afghanistan.

“His assassination was aimed at an omission of a Mujahed who has fought for Afghanistan’s independence for years and came as part of a chain of terror attacks which led to the killing of Davoud Zee and Ahmad Karzai,” the diplomat stated.

He said those behind the terror attack on Rabbani’s life aimed to pressure Karzai’s government to consent to their demands.

“The NATO member states, and the US at the top of them, are responsible for this terror attack as they invaded Afghanistan under the excuse of establishing security and campaign against terrorism 10 years ago, but they have failed to restore security to Afghanistan.

“Foreign countries, headed by the US, are seeking to gain a permanent military deployment in Afghanistan and they martyr everyone who is opposed to their permanent presence, including Martyr Rabbani.” Pak-Ayeen reiterated.

Rabbani was killed in a terror attack Tuesday night by a bomb hidden in a turban.

Rabbani was the head of a high-profile council called Afghanistan’s High Peace Council formed of former and present senior officials. He also was Afghanistan’s president from 1992 to 1996, when the country went through a brutal civil war. His government was ousted by the Taliban in 1996.

Afghans Say Taliban’s Top Leadership Sent Murderer of Peace Envoy Rabbani

Afghans Say Taliban’s Top Leadership Sent Murderer of Peace Envoy Rabbani

By Eltaf Najafizada and James Rupert
The suicide bomber who killed Afghanistan’s top peace envoy this week was sent by someone in the Taliban’s Pakistan-based leadership, said the Afghan official who arranged the bomber’s visit to Kabul.

The killing Sept. 20 of Burhanuddin Rabbani, chairman of the Afghan government’s High Peace Council, came after secret contacts between the council and the Quetta Shura, the main leadership committee of the Taliban, said Rahmatullah Wahidyar, the council member who instigated talks. Afghanistan’s intelligence agency spokesman, Shafiqullah Tahiri, told a news conference with Wahidyar that “the Quetta Shura is involved in this killing,” and that investigations were continuing into who else might have participated.

While other Afghan officials said it’s unclear who sent the assassin, evidence pointing to the Taliban’s inner circle will further complicate a peace process the U.S. needs to ease its planned withdrawal of major combat forces by 2014. “If it is proved that the Quetta Shura is behind this attack, it will mean that they want to kill peace negotiators and there is no chance for talks,” said Arsala Rahmani, a senior peace council member.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker told reporters in Kabul yesterday that “the brutal murder of a national statesman who sought to promote outreach in the interest of bringing peace to his country raises very serious questions as to whether the Taliban and those who support them have any real interest in reconciliation.”

U.S., Pakistan Channels

While the exact makeup of the Quetta Shura, or council, is not known, it operates under the authority of the Taliban supreme leader, Mullah Omar, U.S. and Afghan officials say. When U.S. forces led the overthrow of the Taliban government in 2001, Omar and other top Taliban officials fled their base in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar to Quetta in Pakistan, where they have been based for years, say officials including U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers.

Pakistan denies that the Taliban leadership operates from its soil.

The U.S., Pakistani and Afghan governments are competing to establish channels for talks with the Taliban, each hoping to shape any eventual negotiations in its own interest, said Waliullah Rahmani, director of the Kabul Center for Strategic Studies. The U.S. and Afghan efforts to engage Taliban leaders led officials last year to fly a man they thought was an Omar deputy to Kabul for talks only to discover he was an impostor.

Pakistan arrested a Omar lieutenant, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, in 2010 after he had held discussions with mediators from the United Nations, former U.N. envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide told the BBC. A third conciliation effort, in which U.S. officials met Tayeb Agha, a former assistant to Omar, stalled after news of the contacts was published, the New York Times reported last month.

Haqqani Faction

The Taliban movement’s two regular spokesmen said in phone interviews they are awaiting information from the leadership’s cultural and information committee on whether the group played any role in Rabbani’s killing. Spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed, whom Reuters quoted Sept. 20 as saying the Taliban conducted the attack, called that report incorrect.

Wahidyar’s accusing of the Quetta Shura shifted attention from a distinct faction of the Taliban, the Haqqani group based in Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan. U.S. and Afghan officials say that group, backed by Pakistan’s main military intelligence agency, carried out recent high-profile attacks in Kabul, including the Sept. 13 assault that hit the U.S. Embassy with rocket-propelled grenades.

U.S. Attacks

About 30 of the Taliban’s most prominent leaders have served on the shura in recent years, and many of the group’s members may have dispersed to Karachi or other cities to escape possible U.S. attack, according to the Long War Journal, a U.S.- based monitoring group on the Afghan war.

While the Taliban movement includes distinct factions, analysts say it is unclear how unified or divided the leadership may be on talking peace with the U.S. or President Hamid Karzai’s government.

The Quetta Shura is fragmented enough that it “precludes the possibility of the Taliban making a definitive break with the Pakistani military and its other allies,” to negotiate peace, wrote analystCandace Rondeaux of the International Crisis Group, a policy research organization.

Wahidyar, who was injured in the bombing, had cuts and bruises on his face and spoke in a near whisper to reporters. He said in May he sent a former Taliban commander named Abdul Sattar to the Pakistani border town of Chaman, north of Quetta, to make contact with the Quetta Shura.

Turban Bomb

Sattar “called me from Chaman and told me that a Mullah Hamidullah would call me and then come from the Quetta Shura to Kabul” for meetings, Wahidyar said. Two rounds of talks with Hamidullah led to the arrival last week of a Mullah Esmatullah, who carried conciliatory audio messages on a flash drive for Rabbani and the peace council that he said were from the Quetta Shura, Wahidyar said.

Karzai said yesterday he heard one of the messages, which seemed authentic, greeting Rabbani and his colleagues with respectful titles. “We came to see that this was not a peace message but was deception,” Karzai told a news conference.

On Sept. 20, when Wahidyar escorted Esmatullah to meet Rabbani, guards deferentially avoided a scrupulous body search of the visitor, and as he hugged Rabbani in greeting, he detonated a bomb hidden in his turban, police said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Eltaf Najafizada in Kabul at enajafizada1@bloomberg.net; James Rupert in New Delhi at jrupert3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg in Hong Kong atphirschberg@bloomberg.net

US Special Forces Simulate Pursuit of IMUTerrorists Into Tajik/Kyrgyz Earthquake Zone

In the Military Institute of the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan are the teachings of “Regional Cooperation-2011″

Avaz Yuldashev

Representatives of the defense and security agencies of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and the U.S. are taking part in today launched the active phase of exercises “Regional Cooperation-2011″ at the Military Institute of the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Tatarstan.

According to legend exercises in the city of Isfara Sughd two in the morning there is a strong earthquake of magnitude 9 points. As a result, the city is destroyed by 70%, many dead and wounded, out of order transmission lines, communications, water. By the earthquake also badly damaged a neighboring Isfara Batkentkaya area of ​​Kyrgyzstan. Rescue severely hampered by looting and penetrated into the ruined city of international terrorists.

As reported in an interview with “AP” deputy head of the teachings of data, the U.S. Central Command, Colonel Ted Bale, in the prevailing situation in the region of elements are special forces of the States Parties exercises, which, along with rescue operations, are fighting with looters and terrorists.

The exercises will last until September 27, operative groups involved defense ministers of Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and the U.S..

According to the Defense Minister of Tajikistan, in the run-up to the teachings of their agreement to participate in them have given Pakistan and Uzbekistan, however, they have not sent their representatives in Dushanbe.

Saakashvili Uses UN Floor to Accuse Russia of Terrorism and Tie Abuse

Saakashvili uses UN floor to accuse Russia of terrorism

Saakashvili also said that Russia uses “embargo, blackmail and brutal dictates” against Ukraine, Moldova or Belarus.

UNITED NATIONS, September 23 (RIA Novosti)
Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili used the UN floor on Thursday to accuse Moscow of terrorism and reiterate the claims that Russia occupies Georgian territories.

Russia fought a five-day war with Georgia in 2008 after Tbilisi attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Moscow then recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway republic, Abkhazia, as independent states. The move was condemned by the West.

Saakashvili said Georgia had pledged earlier that it will “never use force to liberate its regions currently occupied by the Russian Federation,” and that it expects Moscow to respond in kind.

“Unfortunately, instead of dialogue, the response… has come in the form of a dozen terrorist acts targeting Georgia – attacks directly organized and supervised, as it is well confirmed by different international actors – by officers of the Russian secret services,” Saakashvili told the UN General Assembly.

He also said that Russia uses “embargo, blackmail and brutal dictates” against Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus

Ukrainian Afghan Veterans and Chernobyl Rescue Workers Storm Parliament Over Benefit Cuts

Protesters try to storm Verkhovna Rada building

Yuriy OnyshkivProtesters try to storm Verkhovna Rada buildingEmergency workers who fought the blaze at the Chornobyl nuclear reactor and veterans of the 1979-89 Soviet-Afghan war break a police cordon near parliament in a Sept. 20 rally against Ukrainian authorities’ attempts to cut social benefits. Hundreds of Ukrainians, mostly veterans of the 1979-89 Soviet Afghan war, tried to storm into the Verkhovna Rada’s headquarters in Kyiv and scuffled with police. Lawmakers delayed action on the cuts in government benefits.REUTERS/Gleb Garanich

 

In the latest sign of rising social discontent, thousands of demonstrators stormed parliament this week and came surprisingly close to actually breaking in.

The tension came n Sept. 20 during a protest outside of Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada organized by Afghan war veterans and rescue wor—kers from the Chornobyl nuclear disaster.

Venting their frustration over plans by lawmakers to cancel subsidies for these struggling groups, the protesters broke past police squads and nearly made their way into parliament. They clashed with law enforcement and managed to reach parliament’s doors, before ultimately being pushed back.

The incident clearly rattled pro-presidential lawmakers, who immediately put off legislation that would have cut into longstanding subsidies for millions of veterans, teachers, doctors, pensioners and police.


Some of the 1,000 or so Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979-1989) and Chornobyl catastrophe liquidators shout in front of the Ukrainian parliament in Kyiv on Sept. 20 during a protest against the adoption in parliament of a bill abolishing their social benefits. (AFP)
.

It was the most recent in a flurry of incidents in which Ukraine’s poorer citizens have fumed with disapproval with hard economic realities and the policies of President Viktor Yanukovych’s administration.

The tense standoff took many in Ukraine by surprise, and could yet inject fresh energy into a divided opposition movement that accuses Yanukovych of setting Ukraine on a path towards authoritarianism and kleptocracy.

“Protests are possible whey they (the government) hit people’s pockets,” said sociologist Iryna Bekeshkina, commenting on the social protest.
Ukraine’s government is struggling to cut a budget deficit in order to secure a much-needed fresh disbursement of billion-dollar loans from the International Monetary Fund.

But some, such as lawmaker Serhiy Sobolev from the bloc of jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko, criticized plans to put the burden of cuts on millions of cash-strapped citizens that are on the verge of poverty.

Rather, he said, government should combat corruption, such as murky privatization dealings that rob budget coffers for the personal gain of billionaire oligarchs that back the nation’s leadership.

“It does not suit for parliament to be seeking to save kopecks” from the poorest echelons of society “while billions are passing by to oligarchs,” Sobolev said.

Oleksandr Yefremov, head of the pro-presidential Regions Party faction which dominates parliament could not clarify how much in subsidy cuts were planned and the number of citizens that would be affected.

“Millions would be affected, if not more,” Yefremov said, responding to Kyiv Post questions. “In total, all existing subsidies – are about half the nation’s Hr 400 billion budget.”

Citizens that took part in the Sept. 20 protest said that the issue is a matter of survival for them.

Serhiy Khraptovych, head of the Chornobyl Union of Ukraine organization and a rescue worker at the Chornobyl nuclear plant in 1987, was among the protesters who tried to storm the parliament.

“People stormed the parliament because patience is running out,” Khraptovych said. “If the law is adopted, those affected will lose more than 50 percent of their pensions and compensations on utility bills and public transportation.”


Three broken windows remain after the Sept. 20 protest of Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and Chornobyl nuclear power plant workers. (Yaroslav Debelyi)
.

For many citizens living on several hundred dollars a month or less, such subsidies are the difference between living on the edge and poverty.
Much is also at stake for Yanukovych, who has seen his popularity plunge during his first year and a half in office.

An April Kyiv-based Razumkov Center poll showed that Yanukovych’s rating reached an all-time low of 11 percent, down from 41 percent a year ago. According to another recent poll conducted by GfK market research firm, his approval rating dropped to 13.4 percent in June from 16.1 percent in May.

Dissatisfaction with all politicians appears to be running high. The same poll showed that ex-Prime Minister Tymoshenko support fell by 2 percent reaching to 9.6 percent in June.

In a July poll conducted by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and released in September, more than half of the respondents said the country is moving in the wrong direction.

More than half named inflation, poverty and unemployment among the country’s most serious problems and 87 percent of people expressed dissatisfaction with the economic situation.

Yet, unlike public protests under opposition party banners which took place after Tymoshenko’s arrest on Aug. 5 and on Independence Day on Aug. 24, the recent non-political protests seem to have shaken up government officials more.

Sergiy Tigipko, vice prime minister for social affairs, promised protestors that the controversial draft legislation would be put on hold until a compromise is reached on the issue.

Sociologists said that the protest was successful because those that showed up in mass, namely war veterans, were organized, strong willed and eager to flex their muscle. Such might and determination is rarely demonstrated by others that are to be affected by a cut in subsidies, namely teachers, doctors and pensioners.


Protesters in the Sept. 20 demonstration of Ukrainian veterans of the Soviet war in Afghanistan and Chornobyl nuclear power plant broke through iron fences meant to protect lawmakers. (Yaroslav Debelyi).

Just as with the tax protests from the autumn of 2010, the Sept. 20 standoff appears to have taken government by surprise.
Bekeshkina said government technocrats rarely “look at how their policies will affect the people.”

More tough decisions are ahead for Ukraine’s leadership. In return for billions of dollars in fresh bailout loans, the IMF is also demanding authorities further increase utility prices for households towards market levels.

If subsidies are cut and utility prices hiked, sociologists say the prospect of bigger protests breaking out is very likely.

“I think that this protest will inspire others to protest,” Bekeshkina added.

Khraptovych promised bigger protests if government and parliament failed to meet their demands.

Will crowd sizes get as big as during the Orange Revolution, enough to challenge Yanukovych’s grip on power?

Not likely, according to Bekeshkina, unless a major economic crash takes place such as a slide in the currency or sharper inflation spike.

Kyiv Post staff writer Yuriy Onyshkiv can be reached at onyshkiv@kyivpost.com.

Afghan Leaders Blast Negotiations with Taliban

Upshot of Rabbani’s murder: Pressure on Karzai to end Taliban talks

Abdullah Abdullah said Karzai should respond to all questions about Rabbani’s assassination. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Taking advantage of the widespread anger at the assassination of former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani by a ‘Taliban peace messenger’, opposition leaders have mounted pressure on President Hamid Karzai to stop all efforts for talks with the Taliban.

The main leader of the opposition ‘Coalition for Change and Hope’, Dr Abdullah Abdullah, blamed the Taliban for the murder of Rabbani and said terrorists had proved that the peace process was not acceptable.

Rabbani, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council, was killed at his residence in Kabul on Tuesday by a bomber concealing explosives in his turban.

“The government should immediately stop all contacts and talks with the Taliban and chalk out a new strategy for the reconciliation process,” Abdullah Abdullah told a news conference in Kabul.

He called the peace and reconciliation process ‘illegitimate’ and claimed that these efforts are aimed at cheating people, adding that the senior Taliban leadership has not yet shown any inclination to hold peace talks with the government.

(Read: Taliban silence on Rabbani spotlights splits)

He lashed out at Karzai for trying to make contacts with the Taliban and said he (Karzai) should respond to all questions about the assassination.

“Karzai should go to the Taliban, whom he has repeatedly called the sons of Afghan soil and disaffected brothers. Karzai should leave Afghans to decide their fate on their own,” the opposition leader said.

“Afghans have now lost patience and will no more allow this weak government to play with the sentiments of the people,” Dr Abdullah said.

Former minister and a leader of Northern Alliance Mohammad Yunas Qanuni said that by killing Prof Rabbani, armed opponents had proved that the peace process was not acceptable to them.

Qanuni said Rabbani’s assassination was the most high-profile killing since Ahmad Shah Masud, who was killed in a suicide attack in 2001. He stressed that the recent killings of important national figures, including Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali Karzai, reveal the strategy of al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Ahmad Wali Masud, the head of the Ahmad Shah Masud Foundation, has held the government responsible for Rabbani’s murder.

Another member of the opposition Coalition for Change and Hope Mawlana Farid said in Kabul that the peace process run by the government of Afghanistan will not work and must be stopped. He said the High Peace Council did not produce substantial results and instead people were losing their national figures.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who used to appeal to the Taliban to join the peace process, did not adopt the same stand when he addressed a crowded press conference in Kabul on Thursday to talk about the assassination.

(Read: Taliban CD plot before Rabbani killing: Karzai)

President Karzai spoke about one of his visits to Pakistan along with Prof Rabbani and said they had told Pakistan military and political leaders that they not only want peace for Afghanistan but also for Pakistan. “Prof Rabbani had told the Pakistani leaders that if they would cooperate with Afghanistan on the peace process, they should cooperate mostly for the sake of Pakistan and not so much for Afghanistan,” Karzai said at his press conference, beamed live by Afghan national TV.

Published in The Express Tribune

Former Brit. Ambassador Claims Obama Readying Uzbek Escape Route

Losing Afghanistan, Losing Central Asia

Craig Murray – craigmurray.org 

Obama is now asking Congress for a waiver on Uzbekitsan’s human rights record – arguably the worst in the world – in order to restart military supplies to President Karimov of Uzbekistan. Even Bush stopped these, after the 2005 Andijan massacre of at least 800 civilian demonstrators.

This blog has repeatedly pointed to the ever-increasing role of the “Northern Distribution Network” for getting supplies to the NATO troops in Afghanistan, with Uzbekistan as the point of entry. The Wikileaks cables from Tashkent outline a consistent US policy of sacrificing the human rights of Uzbeks in order to promote this military agenda.

Unfortunately, by promoting evil dictatorship in Central Asia, the United States and NATO are not advancing their own long term interests. Like Mubarak, Karimov is passing his sell-by date. But all rational thinking is thrown out of the window as NATO concentrates on the war it is losing in Afghanistan.

I am advised by the British Embassy that to visit the scenes of the November 1841 uprising in central Kabul as research for my book on Burnes is too dangerous. After ten full years of occupation, with 180,000 troops and billions of dollars in military hardware, they do not even control a few square miles in the centre of the capital, let alone the country. The recent attacks on the US Embassy and British Council have proved that. This war is lost.

America’s increasing fawning to Karimov is yet more evidence of that. The reason America is now so desperate for his favour is that, as they leave defeated, taking Karzai with them, they have to get out millions of tonnes of vehicles and military equipment, which has to pass overland. They have lost this war so absolutely that they no longer have possession of the ground they started with. They cannot get out the way they went in, through Pakistan, as they would be attacked in the Bolan and Khyber passes, and along the entire route. So they have to leave through Uzbekistan. The Americans will do anything for Karimov, just as long as they get permission to slink out through his country. I hope as they go they look into the faces of the people whose continued enslavement buys their permission.

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