Thousands of protesters plan to converge on Washington D.C. from April 19-22 to protest the escalating U.S. involvement in Colombia, including the training of Colombian troops at the U.S. army’s notorious School of the Americas (SOA) in Fort Benning, Georgia. According to School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), a non-profit group seeking to shut down the school, the U.S. army has trained more than 10,000 Colombian troops at the SOA and many of its graduates have been linked to right-wing paramilitary death squads responsible for a huge majority of Colombia’s human rights abuses.
The Bush White House has spent much of the past seven months waging a war against international terrorism that, according to President Bush, “will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” In his post-September 11 speech to Congress, the president also issued his now infamous ultimatum, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
By February 2002, it had become evident that Washington had no intention of finding, stopping and defeating all terrorist groups it believed to have global reach. Furthermore, the Bush White House has clearly responded to its own ultimatum by deciding that it is “with the terrorists.” At least, this appears to be the case in Colombia where the Bush administration is expanding its war on terrorism by arming and training a military closely allied to a right-wing paramilitary group that is on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
In February 2002, the Bush administration requested $98 million in aid to create, arm and train a Colombian army brigade whose primary purpose would be to protect the risky business investments of a U.S. corporation in Colombia. Specifically, its mission would be to defend the Caño Limón oil pipeline used by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum from leftist guerrilla attacks.
Last month, President Bush requested that Congress lift all conditions restricting current and future U.S. military aid to counternarcotics operations. The White House is using its war on terrorism to justify Washington’s military escalation in Colombia. The State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Francis X. Taylor, recently labeled the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), “the most dangerous international terrorist group based in this hemisphere.”
Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.S. ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson, Senator Bob Graham of Florida and many others have jumped on the link-the-FARC-to-international-terrorism bandwagon. Washington is using the FARC’s involvement in the drug trade to justify its labeling of the rebel group as an international terrorist organization instead of just a domestic revolutionary movement.
Meanwhile, there has been nary a peep from Washington regarding waging war against Colombia’s largest and most feared paramilitary group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), who are not only more involved than the FARC in the international drug trade, but are also state-sponsored terrorists responsible for more than 70 percent of the country’s human rights abuses. For years, the AUC have been recipients of direct or indirect support from the governments of Colombia and the United States, ranging from logistical assistance and training to arms supplies and the direct participation of U.S.-trained Colombian soldiers in massacres perpetrated by the paramilitaries.
Washington’s FARC bashers rarely mention that many of Colombia’s illegal right-wing paramilitary death squads were formed in the 1980s by either the Colombian military or drug traffickers or both. AUC commander Carlos Castaño was an associate of Medellín Cartel leader Pablo Escobar in 1981 when the Colombian army trained him for paramilitary duty in Puerto Berrío in the department of Antioquia.
Human Rights Watch has repeatedly linked U.S.-trained Colombian army officers to paramilitary groups and the massacres they have perpetrated. Many of these troops received training at the U.S. army’s School of the Americas, originally located in the Panama Canal Zone, but moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1984. According to Human Rights Watch, Colombian officers “were students at the school at the time its curriculum included training manuals recommending that soldiers use bribery, blackmail, threats, and torture against insurgents.”
The School of the Americas evolved during the Cold War as a means of combating Latin American revolutionaries, especially those influenced by the Cuban Revolution. In order to combat these leftist insurgencies, the U.S. army trained (and continues to train) Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques. In other words, it teaches soldiers how to fight against internal, not external enemies.
Some of Latin America’s most notorious dictators are SOA graduates, including Manuel Noriega of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. The SOA was also instrumental in training the brutal Guatemalan military that was condemned by the United Nations for committing genocide against Guatemala’s indigenous population during a forty-year civil war that killed more than 200,000 Mayan Indians. At the same time, during the civil war in neighboring El Salvador, former SOA students were involved in countless human rights abuses including the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the massacre of some 900 civilians in El Mozote.
School of the Americas Watch was established in response to U.S. taxpayer dollars being used to fund a Salvadoran army that was massacring thousands of innocent civilians during the 1980s. It claims that U.S. aid and training supports Latin American militaries that slaughter anyone they claim to be subversives, a classification that often includes unionists, human rights workers, religious leaders, civic groups, and thousands of impoverished peasants who just happen to live in conflict areas.
In response to SOAW’s lobbying of Congress for the passage of a bill calling for the closure of the School of the Americas, the Pentagon renamed the school last year. It’s new label, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, is nothing more than a cynical attempt to improve the school’s dismal public image. Meanwhile, the institution’s mission remains the same: to train Latin American soldiers, not to defend their country against foreign aggressors, but to wage domestic warfare against “suspected” subversives.
Not surprisingly, Colombian officers and soldiers are currently among the School’s leading recipients of training. According to SOAW, two million Colombians have been killed or displaced by SOA graduates who used violence that targeted the civilian population. The number of Colombian SOA graduates who have been linked to human rights abuses by human rights organizations, the Colombian government and the U.S. State Department is staggering.
Below is a list of some of the most notorious army officers among the more than 150 Colombian SOA graduates who have been linked to human rights abuses and paramilitary death squads during the 1980s and 1990s:
- General Farouk Yanine Diaz, involved in 1988 massacre of 20 banana workers in Uraba and the expansion of paramilitary death squads.
- Colonel Jesus Maria Clavijo, currently under investigation for collusion with paramilitary forces in 160 social cleansing murders from 1995-1998.
- General Jaime Ernesto Canal Alban, established and supplied weapons and intelligence to a paramilitary group known as the Calima Front, which is responsible for more than 2,000 forced disappearances and at least 40 executions since 1999.
- General Carlos Ospina Ovalle, accused of maintaining extensive ties to paramilitary groups and whose troops massacred at least 11 people and burned down 47 homes in El Aro in 1998.
- Lieutenant Pedro Nei Acosta Gaivis, ordered the 1990 massacre of 11 peasants, then had his men dress the corpses to look like rebels and dismissed the killings as an armed confrontation between the army and guerrillas.
- Major Carlos Enrique Martínez Orozco, implicated in the 1988 massacre of 18 miners in Antioquia. Martínez Orozco was subsequently promoted.
- Major Luis Fernando Madrid Barón, implicated in the activities of a paramilitary group that killed 149 people from 1987 to 1990. Also accused of being the intellectual author of many of the assassinations.
- General Mario Montoya Uribe, has a history of ties to paramilitary violence and is believed to be the military official responsible for Plan Colombia.
- Lieutenant Carlos Acosta, accused of executing a group of federal prosecutors and dumping their bodies in a river. According to his brother, “He used to say that a soldier in Colombia has to fight not only guerrillas, but also the human rights groups and prosecutors.”
On the morning of April 22, four days of protest will culminate with a march from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol where thousands of protesters will call on Congress to end U.S. military aid to Colombia, stop the aerial spraying of illicit crops, and close the School of the Americas.
The United States has a long history of supporting state-sponsored terrorism in Latin America, which the Bush White House intends to continue. For those of us unwilling to tolerate the use of our taxpayer dollars to support state-sponsored terrorism in Colombia, the time has come to issue our own ultimatum to lawmakers in Washington: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.
For more information about the protest, visit Colombia Mobilization
For more information about SOAW, visit School of the Americas Watch
This article originally appeared in Colombia Report, an online journal that was published by the Information Network of the Americas (INOTA).
[The Establishment rag, Foreign Policy, has an op-ed piece from that old snake, Paul Wolfowitz and a writer named O'Hanlon, called Plan Afghanistan. The piece has no merits that I can see, so I will not post it here, balthough it does serve to highlight our plans for creating civil war in Afghanistan, by turning Afghans into human-hunters of the Taliban, their prey. The creation of death squad networks within Afghanistan, like the paramilitary mass-murderers who took Colombia to the edge of the abyss, is nothing short of pure evil, but we should expect nothing less from Wolf, the father of the Iraq dismemberment. The MAS and Los Pepes professional killers (SEE: Pact with the Devil ; Colombian Paramilitaries and the United States), who were trained by US Green Berets and Navy Seals, slaughtered entire villages, all under the watchful eye of their Colombian military and US Special Forces trainers.
Colombia is suffering from this legacy still, in its ongoing efforts to reconcile its democratic institutions with its bloody past, most notably with its attempts to demobilize the paramilitary death squads we created (SEE: The Dark Side of Plan Colombia ; Protesting U.S.-Sponsored Terrorism in Colombia ; Pentagon Trained Troops Led by Officer Accused In Colombian Massacre ). Wolfowitz and his pal Elliot Abrahms were also key players in the Reagan Administration at the beginning of this nightmare plan for Colombia. Plan Colombia grew out of our experiences with the Contra death squads in El Salvador--you know the guys who liked to murder nuns? It is truly amazing that no one has cut the head off these snakes yet. Listening to the neocons is like listening to the devil himself. The sad part of this whole non-story is that Wolfowitz is not proposing a change in direction in Afghanistan, just describing the scenario that has been already been set in motion in that unfortunate nation. Haven't we done enough to Afghanistan already, over the past thirty-plus years? After all the curse of the Afghan mujahedeen (otherwise known as "al-Qaeda") is how Afghanistan's modern troubles really began, as well as the real beginning of the GWOT (global war on terror).]
Why the Colombia model — even if it means drug war and armed rebellion — is the best chance for U.S. success in Central Asia.
BY PAUL WOLFOWITZ , MICHAEL O’HANLON
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan (AP) — The presidential election in Kyrgyzstan this weekend will be unusually free and democratic by Central Asian standards, but fears are mounting it could fuel ethnic tensions and regional divide.
Sunday’s vote in the economically struggling ex-Soviet nation follows the April 2010 violent ouster of former leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev and ethnic violence in which rampaging mobs killed hundreds of minority ethnic Uzbeks in the country’s south.
Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished nation of around 5 million people on China‘s western fringes, is home to both U.S. and Russian military air bases, making its fortunes subject of lively international interest.
Over the two decades since the country gained independence, elections have been purely formal exercises designed to lend a threadbare veil of legitimacy to the ruling elite. Bakiyev and his predecessor, mathematician Askar Akayev, only left office after being literally chased out of it by angry mobs.
President Roza Otunbayeva, a seasoned diplomat who served as ambassador in Washington and London and has been running the country as interim leader since 2010, will step down to make way for the election winner.
None of the three top contenders is likely to garner more than 50 percent of votes in the Oct. 30 election, setting stage for a runoff between the two top vote-getters.
The 55-year-old front-runner Almazbek Atambayev, a wealthy businessman who stepped down as prime minister in September to take part in the election campaign, hopes his efforts to restore economic stability over the past year will aid his chances. Raising pitifully low state salaries and pensions has certainly helped cast him as the welfare candidate.
Atambayev made his fortune in the early 1990s after setting up a printing house churning out Russian translations of Mario Puzo‘s Godfather series, as well as more controversial fare like Anthony Burgesses‘ Clockwork Orange and the works of Marquis de Sade.
Kyrgyzstan’s economic fortunes are inextricably linked with Russia, where around 500,000 Kyrgyz migrant workers reside, and Atambayev has worked hard to deepen those ties.
Recognizing the antipathy engendered by the presence of the U.S. air base, Atambayev has pledged it will be closed by 2014, when the current lease runs out.
For all this, however, Atambayev is to many, first and foremost, distinguished for being from the north — a fact that may prove decisive in an election that threatens to exacerbate regional antagonisms.
“There’s a kind of negative connotation to these elections since they are very decisive. There’s definitely the question of south and north present here,” said Shirin Aitmatova, a parliamentary deputy with the left-leaning Ata-Meken party.
Indeed, the greatest challenge to Atambayev will come from two staunchly southern politicians — 44-year old ex-Emergency Services minister Kamchibek Tashiyev and former parliament speaker and top security official Adakhan Madumarov, 46.
Tashiyev’s nationalist Ata-Zhurt party stunned observers last year by easily winning the largest share of votes in parliamentary elections. That resounding success came on the back of soaring nationalist sentiments that prevailed in the wake of interethnic clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in the south that left at least 470 people dead in June 2010 and drove several hundred thousand people from their homes, mostly Uzbeks.
Once in parliament, trained boxer Tashiyev proved a poor team-player and largely gained prominence for his violent physical assaults on fellow party members. Despite his relative lack of campaign financing, he is expected to make a respectable showing.
Ominously, he has warned that an unfavorable result will lead to a robust challenge. In Kyrgyzstan, this often means unruly crowds hitting the streets.
The southern vote will be split between Tashiyev and Madumarov, who has vowed to overturn recent constitutional reforms giving more power to parliament and restore a strong presidency.
Comments made by Madumarov during a televised presidential debate this month, when he spoke about the need to “cut off the tongues and legs” of journalists smearing his reputation, suggest his presidency would mark a rollback to a more authoritarian model of governance.
Even so, Madumarov may hope, despite his strong links to the ousted Bakiyev regime, that he can project a vision of firmness and legality.
“I will never steal from the government’s coffers and I will never appoint someone to high office just because we come from the same region, they are my brother, or because they paid me money,” he told students at the Kyrgyz Agrarian Institute this week.
Kyrgyzstan, and all its problems, comes into the international spotlight again with presidential elections on Sunday.
Despite elections, little is expected to change given the country’s inability to tackle systemic corruption and critical human rights issues since a coup toppled the government last year.
A September poll showed front-runner, Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev, winning 65 percent of voters’ support compared to his rivals who have less than 30 percent support.
Although Kyrgyzstan remains more democratic than its authoritarian Central Asian neighbors, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the nation faces critical problems including a weak government and ineffective state institutions, says Marek Matusiak, an expert with the Warsaw-based Center for Eastern Studies.The country is perceived as one of the most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perception Index.
Even if Atambayev wins the presidency, he is expected to be an ineffective leader due to his reliance on a fragile governing system in the impoverished country of 5 million people.
Matusiak said the status quo will likely continue after the election. He does not believe Atambayev will be able to strengthen the government.
“If he assumes the president’s office, I don’t think there will be many changes. He has not shown himself so far and I don’t believe that he will be able to do that as president,” said Matusiak.
Reasons for Weakness
The weakness of the central government manifests in having limited control in parts of the country, particularly in the southern region, which had violent ethnic clashes last year between the Uzbeks, a minority concentrated in the south, and the Kyrgyz. Weakness also shows in the country’s inability to carry out fair trials in numerous cases related to those conflicts and widespread torture in detention centers.
Kyrgyzstan’s political power is also undermined by a “battle between personalities,” according to a report by Johan Engvall, an expert with the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy.
Engvall argues that since Kyrgyzstan broke from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has been governed by leaders who represent family or specific community interests with little to no political competitionbased ideological interests. Former overthrown Presidents Askar Akayev and Kurmanbek Bakyev also fit this bill, he contends.
“Given the absence of a common national interest, the Kyrgyz political elite is susceptible to manipulation by outside forces,” he said in the report.
As evidence, he points to the many visits Kyrgyz party leaders paid to Moscow for consultations after winning seats in Parliament in 2010 October elections. Leaders of the opposition to deposed President Bakyev did the same prior to the coup in April 2010.
Atambayev is widely believed to lean toward Russian interests after making many visits to Moscow over the last year. He is also a northerner and does not have as much support in the south. Atambayev told the United States he will close access to the Manas air base in 2014 and he has shown strong support for joining the Kremlin-led Custom Union, which includes Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Despite strong divisions in political power, there are also some concerns that the next president could concentrate power into his own hands and undermine Parliament in practice and perhaps in law, said Svante Cornell, an expert with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program.
“The problems in the country’s south have not been addressed; quite to the contrary, the nationalistic and anti-Uzbek stance of most Kyrgyz political actors also do not bode well for the country’s future, and especially its ability to develop,” Cornell said in an e-mail interview.
Since the coup last year and transition to a parliamentary republic, Kyrgyz interim authorities have mishandled dozens of the trials dealing with the ethnic conflicts and have been heavily criticized by human rights organizations.
Use of torture is widely used to gain confessions in custody in the cases of accused ethnic Uzbek people, groups allege. The case of Azimjan Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek and human rights defender from the southern town of Bazar-Korgon, is one example of the government’s failure.
Askarov was detained on June 15, 2010, in his hometown when a policeman was killed during the ethnic clashes. He was put into the same police station where the killed police officer had served and Askarov was subsequently tortured. He gave detailed public testimonies of his torture and provided evidence andpictures to support his claims.
However, authorities have been unable to prosecute those responsible. “This case raises particular doubts about the will and the ability of the government to address the brutal torture,” said Maria Lisitsyna, an expert with New-York-based Open Society Foundations.
“The ability of the authorities to ensure individual prosecutions in torture cases would be the first indicators that the country is serious about its human rights obligations,” she points out.
[This article published 10/7/2011 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.freitag.de/datenbank/freitag/2011/40/abziehen-aber-nicht-kapitulieren/print.
Jochen Hippler is a political scientist. More articles on Afghanistan can be found at http://www.jochenhippler.de.]
For over 30 years war has raged at Hindukusch – with the participation of the US, Germany and other NATO states in the last decade. In North America and Western Europe, there were widespread expectations that the intervention of October 2001 would lead to the overthrow of the Taliban and to stable, peaceful and democratic conditions. Measured by these expectations, NATO has lost the war. Ten years after the western entrance into war, the land at Hindukusch is neither peaceful nor stable. Claims to democracy are discretely abandoned.
Since the beginning of 2010, the US and NATO have followed a new strategy and the situation has intensified. The report of the UN Secretary General says there were 39 percent more attacks in 2011 than in 2010. There can be no talk of stabilization of the country. Quite the contrary, the rebels have recently shown they can massively attack the government and its foreign allies in the capital Kabul.
That the Hamid Karzai government aggravates the conflict and is not a bearer of hope may be even more important than the deteriorating security situation. The Karzai government is responsible for the election forgeries, torture, corruption and war criminals and warlords at important levers of power. To many Afghans today, the Taliban almost seems the lesser evil. The strategic dilemma of the NATO presence is that it depends on the support of the Afghan executive. Since the Afghan executive is hated and becomes the problem instead of the solution, the western military presence loses its political basis. In other words, NATO supports an illegitimate government and falls into a situation that is hardly stable.
The western alliance cannot defeat the rebels militarily on account of the power relations. NATO has lost the war politically since its political project is discredited. Its superior strategic strength is meaningless. The Taliban only needs to survive to be victorious militarily and to win the war. They demonstrated this ability over against the strongest military power of the world. Under these circumstances, the US and NATO understand they can no longer decide the war. However a withdrawal is not allowed since that would make the defeat obvious. From the perspective of the West, finding a way in which a retreat would not seem like admission of a debacle is vital.
Two options are in the forefront: the “reconciliation” and “reintegration” of the Taliban on one side and a negotiated solution to end the war on the other side. Both ways are hardly promising. In Afghanistan, “reconciliation and reintegration” are terms of public relations that do not mean conciliation with the rebels. With this policy, many of the rebels – particularly simple fighters and middling cadres – are dissuaded from rebellion through material incentives and other ways and won over to the side of the government. This was more a deserter- than a reconciliation program. It may be tactically useful but is not a permanent solution. Some farmers’ sons would gladly be renegade Talibs if this promised material advantages. The Taliban lay8ing down their arms could later rejoin the rebels. Material incentives only have minimal effects as long as the government is discredited and the war in the eyes of the population cannot be won.
CHRONIC LOSS OF POWER
Belated attempts to make peace through negotiations were not very promising. The Taliban and other insurgents assume they will win the war and only need patience to wait for the retreat of foreign troops. Unlike NATO, they can cope with even greater losses. Time works for them. The Taliban will certainly show readiness for dialogue regionally and nationally. But they do not believe concluding a peace treaty is one of the conditions of the government or of the foreign actors.
Conversations and negotiations could facilitate withdrawal of the foreign troops. However sharing power with Hamid Karzai seems hardly attractive to the warriors of God. This was obvious before the murder of chief negotiator and ex-president Rabbani and was clarified once and for all after the attack. The Afghan government can realize advantages through conversations – demonstrating to its population that it is an independent actor and not a marionette of the West. It could increase its possibilities in relation to the NATO countries. However from the government’s view, sharing power with the Taliban accomplished through negotiations would start the process of chronic loss of power with an uncertain outcome that hardly interests anyone.
All in all, the US and its allies have maneuvered into a cul-de-sac from which they can hardly find their way out. When those governing in Kabul were still credible in 2005 and the insurgents were weak, a negotiated solution was refused. Today the presuppositions for a military victory of NATO and for the political weakening of the Taliban do not exist. The presuppositions for a negotiated peace exist.
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed reservations over the proposed draft of the declaration of the upcoming Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan, which may complicate international efforts for evolving a consensus on the document.
The conference slated for Nov 2 is expected to discuss transition in Afghanistan, reconciliation with Afghan insurgent groups and regional economic cooperation.
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will lead Pakistan’s delegation at the conference that will follow a Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey summit to be held a day earlier. The summit will be attended by President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
Two preparatory sessions held in Oslo and Kabul for achieving an agreement on the desired outcome of the Istanbul Conference could not bridge the differences.
The issues were reported to have been raised also with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the country last week.
“It is important that unity of purpose and region’s support for Afghanistan must be ensured through consensus decision making,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said about the conference at her weekly media briefing here on Thursday.
The most critical difference revolves around a proposal for setting up a ‘regional structure’ on Afghanistan and the neighbouring region, a Pakistani diplomat said.
The regional group is proposed to include over a dozen countries in Afghanistan’s immediate and broader neighbourhood in addition to the United States
Pakistan believes that existing mechanisms are adequate to hold consultations on Afghanistan and any attempt to impose a ‘super-structure’ or ‘an additional architecture’ can be counter-productive, particularly in view of some complex regional dynamics, more specifically the Indo-Pakistan rivalry.
“The existing regional organisations and arrangements may also be urged to prioritise support in their respective domains for achieving the afore-stated objectives of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan in a stable, peaceful and prosperous region,” the spokesperson said.
Pakistan has long opposed the setting up of a contact group on Afghanistan and had pre-empted a similar move last year during the London Conference on Afghanistan.
Officials said the current draft was more about confidence-building measures, whereas Pakistan wanted it to reflect the broader principles for cooperation.
It wants states attending the conference to affirm their commitment to Afghanistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, inviolability of borders and non-interference and non-intervention in the country’s internal affairs. Besides, it will like the conference to pledge support for eliminating terrorism as well as production and trafficking of narcotics.
“We believe the Istanbul Conference should manifest in tangible terms its support for Afghanistan on the basis of established principles of inter-state conduct enshrined in the UN Charter and the international law as well as material, financial and technical support for socio-economic development,” Ms Janjua said.
The Foreign Office is hopeful that its concerns will be addressed.
“I have referred at the start of today’s briefing to some commitments, some principles, which we would like to be reflected in the Istanbul document. As yet, we understand that this is not the final document. It is a work in progress,” the spokesperson said.
CLINTON VISIT: “We evaluate Secretary of State Clinton’s visit positively. The visit was useful and constructive. It allowed an opportunity for in-depth discussions. It was clear during the discussions that there is broad convergence of views between the two countries at the strategic level. Both countries agreed to have a work plan in order to translate these convergences into desired results,” Ms Janjua said.
Syed Irfan Raza adds: The spokesperson said President Zardari would visit Turkey from Monday and Pakistan would raise at the trilateral summit the issue of attacks by militants from Afghanistan.
“Pakistan attaches importance to the various trilateral, quadrilateral and other processes relating to Afghanistan and will continue to contribute constructively to all endeavours and initiatives in this regard.”
Mr Abdullah is chairman of the unified command of various security agencies in his home state.
“He (Omar Abdullah) must understand, he is not the only important actor. I wish he had consulted around, then he would be on a stronger footing. Today he is not on a strong footing because he has not done the consultation exercise fully,” said Saifuddin Soz, the head of the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.
Mr Soz also said that the Chief Minister seems to have deliberately left the Congress out of the loop. “Look, he is the chairman of the unified command, he didn’t discuss it there. He has a cabinet, he didn’t discuss it there… he makes statements on his own, he thinks that he is the Chief Minister, he can do anything. These laws are very important, it needs very calm reflection in a congenial atmosphere.”
“I have no grouse at not being consulted by the Chief Minister. He could have even sought my opinion over phone… However, the main players like Union Home Ministry, Defence Ministry, Congress party and Army should be taken on board on the issue. It does not seem to be the case at the moment,” Mr Soz said. “There is no game in the world where you can score a goal all by yourself… you have to have a team,” he added.
Mr Abdullah’s response was terse. “As Chief Minister, I am well aware of my responsibilities of consultation and carrying my alliance partners with me,” he said. “At every step of the way, I have kept the Home Minister of India briefed…not only about discussions here but also about future intentions,” he added. Mr Abdullah suggested that Mr Soz could have brought up any differences of opinion over AFSPA at the coordination committee that is meant to handle relations between the National Conference and the Congress. The committee is chaired by Mr Soz and includes four other representatives of both parties, including Tara Chand, the state’s Deputy Chief Minister who is from the Congress.
Even as his ally questioned his style and decision, the Chief Minister tried to stress that his initiative to revoke AFSPA in some areas like Srinagar and Jammu is not an attempt to undermine the Army, or to demonize it. “The Army has played a crucial role in controlling militancy in the state and the removal of AFSPA from certain areas is being done in consultation with the Army,” he said.
Today, Army Chief General V K Singh said the matter is now being reviewed by the Home Ministry.
The Act, its critics believe, gives the Army sweeping powers – like the right to arrest someone without a warrant. The Army says working without the Act makes it vulnerable. Sources say intelligence inputs and intercepts report that currently, around 2,500 militants are present in 42 training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Of these, 800 are poised to cross over to India. Around 30-odd militants have been killed along the Line of Control (LoC) in the last two months while attempting to cross over. Sources further say that intercepts indicate that infiltration attempts are likely to continue even during the winter months – usually, the weather ensures against this.
[Once again Mr. Bhadrakumar doesn't disappoint us with the power of his analysis of the situation on the sub-continent and throughout the Central Asian theater of psywar. The time is rapidly approaching when the fluid Afghanistan situation will reach a "moment of decision," when American control over events will be decide for us by the participants themselves. Like the recent surprise revelation that Iraq will refuse to meet American demands to keep a smaller military force in country, Afghans themselves may deny us the authority to peacefully keep American bases and Special Forces kill teams in Afghanistan past the alleged "withdrawal date." If the upcoming Loya Jirga fails to endorse semi-permanent US super-bases, then Obama will receive a second embarrassing rebuke to his attempts to seduce or buy his way with the Afghan govt. If the Afghan govt. refuses to go along with our demands, then how can the US Congress continue to authorize funds to train and equip them? Either Obama will soon get everything that he wanted or he will be cut-off from the preferred path of "Mr. Nice Guy," leaving him with only one option to get his way--Ultimate force. He cannot blow his carefully crafted cover to the world and reveal the Establishment hit man that lies just beneath the surface.
Other writers are catching-on quickly, as well, that the game is about over, or else it has just begun. Pay attention from here on out to M K Bhadrakumar from here on out; he knows what is really going down. The bluffing is about over and we will have to show our hand. God help us all, when the river of bullshit stops flowing and nothing is left but the brutal truth about American aggression. Odds are, at that time, exposing the Beast will only increase the violence.]
By M K Bhadrakumar
Two templates in regional politics are seriously debilitating the United States’s campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees in the Afghan endgame. One is that Delhi has distanced itself from the US campaign and pursues an independent policy toward Islamabad.
The second factor frustrating US policies to isolate Pakistan is the South Asian nation’s bonhomie with Iran. Pakistan would have been pretty much isolated had there been an acute rivalry with Iran over the Afghan endgame. The current level of cordiality in the relationship enables Islamabad to focus on the rift with the US and even draw encouragement from Tehran.
A recent statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the US-Pakistan rift underscored that India doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the US approach. (See US puts the squeeze on Pakistan, Asia Times, October 22). It was carefully timed to signal to Washington (and Islamabad) that Delhi strongly disfavored any form of US military action against Pakistan.
There is a string of evidence to suggest that the Pakistani leadership appreciates the Indian stance. The general headquarters in Rawalpindi acted swiftly on Sunday to return to India within hours a helicopter with three senior military officers on board which strayed into Pakistani territory in bad weather in the highly sensitive Siachen sector. The official spokesman in Delhi went on record to convey India’s appreciation of the Pakistani gesture. Such conciliatory gestures are rare (for both sides) in the chronicle of Pakistan-India relationship.
Again, last week, India voted for Pakistan’s candidacy for the Asia-Pacific slot among the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and the Pakistani ambassador promptly responded that he would work with his Indian counterpart in New York. Ironically, the UN has been a theater for India and Pakistan’s frequent clashes over the Kashmir problem.
Looking ahead, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are likely to meet on the sidelines of the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation summit in Male on November 10-11. Washington would have been quick to insist that it acted as “facilitator” in fostering the improving climate in India-Pakistan relations. But the US is instead watching with a degree of discomfort that its complicated South Asian symphony is throwing up jarring notes. Calibrating India-Pakistan tensions traditionally constituted a key element of the US’s regional diplomacy.
Washington has “retaliated” to Krishna’s statement by issuing a travel advisory cautioning American nationals from visiting India because of heightened terrorist threats. Delhi, in turn, ticked off Washington saying it considered the US move “disproportionate” – a cute way of saying that the advisory is a load of baloney.
Jundallah in retreat
What is happening in Pakistan-Iran relations is even more galling for the US. There has been a spate of high-level visits between Islamabad and Tehran and the two capitals have reached mutual understandings on a range of security interests. Last week, Tehran acknowledged that there had not been a single attack by the terrorist group Jundallah from the Pakistani side of the border in the Balochistan region during the past 10 months.
Tehran has accused the US of masterminding the Jundallah terrorists to stage covert operations to destabilize Iran. However, since the detention of Central Intelligence Agency operative Raymond Davis in Lahore in January, Islamabad has clamped down on hundreds of US intelligence operatives functioning on Pakistani soil, seriously cramping the US’s capacity to dispatch Jundallah terrorists into Iran.
Tehran is satisfied that the Pakistani security establishment is finally acting purposively to smash the US-backed Jundallah network. It reciprocates Pakistan’s goodwill by trying to harmonize its Afghan policy and scrupulously avoided pointing fingers at Pakistan for the assassination of Afghan Peace Council head Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was closely allied with Tehran.
Essentially, Iran appreciates that Pakistan’s “strategic defiance” of the US will be in the interest of regional stability, the bottom line being that Tehran is keen to force the American troops to leave the region.
Tehran succeeded in the pursuit of a similar objective in Iraq by prevailing on Shi’ite political elites in Baghdad not to accede to the desperate pleas by the US to allow US troops to continue even after the stipulated deadline of withdrawal in December 2011 under the Status of Forces agreement. But Afghanistan is a different kettle of fish and a common strategy with Pakistan will help.
Pakistan keeps an ambivalent stance on the issue of a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan, but it can count on the Taliban to robustly oppose the US plans apropos military bases. Unsurprisingly, Tehran purses a multi-pronged approach toward the Taliban.
In sum, the overall regional scenario is becoming rather unfavorable to the US. The easing of tensions in Pakistan’s relations with India and Iran undermine US strategy to get embedded in the region.
The US’s travel advisory was intended to raise hackles in India about the imminent possibility of Pakistan-supported terrorist activities. Again, US-sponsored disinformation is reappearing with claims that China and Pakistan are conspiring against India by setting Chinese military bases in the northern areas of Pakistan, which form part of Kashmir.
This is coinciding with a distinct improvement in the security situation in the Kashmir Valley, to the point that chief minister Omar Abdullah openly advocated last week in Srinagar that decades-old emergency regulations should be progressively withdrawn and that Delhi should initiate a serious engagement of Pakistan to settle the Kashmir problem.
United States-backed propaganda about the prospect of Chinese military bases in the Pakistani part of Kashmir is intended to serve a dual purpose: namely, creating discord between Pakistan and India and in Sino-Indian relations, too.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a significant statement last week that he was “convinced” that the Chinese leadership wanted a peaceful resolution of all problems between India and China, including the long-running border dispute. Significantly, he expressed his “sincere hope [that] it is possible for us to find ways and means by which the two neighbors can live in peace and amity despite the persistence of the border problem”.
Manmohan’s remarks assumed significance since the two countries are to shortly hold the 15th round of talks on the border issue in New Delhi. In a meaningful move, the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to Manmohan’s political overture. Beijing said China was “ready to work with India to enhance the China-India strategic partnership”. The statement said:
As important neighbors to each other, China and India have maintained sound momentum in the bilateral relationship. As for the border issue left over from history, the two sides have been seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through friendly consultations. Pending a final solution, the two sides are committed to maintaining peace and tranquility in border areas.
A season for propaganda
The speculative, unattributed – and unverifiable – reports regarding Chinese intentions to establish military bases in the upper reaches of the Kashmir region under Pakistani control are surging again at a formative point in regional security. Their labored thesis is that Delhi should be extremely wary about the “devious” intentions of China and Pakistan and should go slow on the normalization of relations with these “treacherous” neighbors.
Curiously, Delhi is also being bombarded at the same time with US propaganda that Washington is striking a “grand bargain” with Pakistan over the Afghan problem whereby there will be a mutual accommodation of each other’s concerns, which may include US intervention to mediate the Kashmir problem and US pressure on Delhi to roll back its presence in Afghanistan.
In a motivated commentary in Foreign Policy magazine last week on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad, two prominent US think-tankers wired to the Washington establishment actually tried to alternatively bait Islamabad and frighten Delhi by putting on the table the ingredients of the “grand bargain”. Truly, this is all turning out to be a season for propaganda.
The heart of the matter is that the US is desperate to clinch a strategic agreement with the government of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul that would allow the establishment of a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan.
On Monday, hundreds of Afghans demonstrated in Kabul against US bases. The same day, the lower house of the Afghan parliament rejected terms guiding the operations of the Afghan government’s existing agreement with the International Security Assistance Force as violating the country’s sovereignty. The mood in the Afghan parliament seems hostile.
Karzai is convening a loya jirga (grand council) to seek endorsement for the US-Afghan pact. Matters will come to a head when it meets on November 16. Karzai promises that the US-Afghan pact will be sent to parliament for approval after being discussed in the jirga. Washington insists that the jirga approves the draft pact before the Bonn II conference convenes in December. Karzai’s political future depends on whether he can deliver on the pact.
All sitting parliamentarians, some former members, one-third of the provincial council members, representatives of civil society and distinguished people, religious scholars and influential tribal leaders have been invited to the jirga. Two hundred and thirty representatives of Afghan refugee communities in Pakistan, Iran and Western countries will also be in attendance in the 2,030-strong jirga.
On September 13, Afghan National Security Advisor Dadfar Spanta told Afghan parliamentarians that the US might set up military bases in Afghanistan after the signing of the pact, but that the pact wouldn’t be inked unless approved by parliament. Spanta added, “Concerns of our neighbors [over the US-Afghan pact] are genuine, but we will not allow our soil to be used against them.”
The Afghan parliament fears, however, that Karzai might choose to bypass it after extracting endorsement from a pliant jirga and interpreting that as the collective opinion of the Afghan nation. Parliament directed the speaker on Monday to address an official communication to Karzai highlighting its constitutional prerogative to approve foreign policy issues.
The Afghan endgame is moving into a crucial phase; much will depend on regional politics. The worst-case scenario for the US is that subsuming the contradictions in the intra-regional relationships between and among Pakistan, Iran, India and China, these countries might have a convergent opinion on the issue of American military bases.
An accentuation of these contradictions, therefore, would serve the US’s geopolitical interests at the present juncture, hence the US’s “divide-and-rule” strategy.
Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.
[Tajik expert predicts a lot of major changes in CIS countries, worst of all is deployment of US/NATO troops to Uzbekistan. Not only is it predicted that Uzbeks will leave CSTO, but that a deal has been made to scuttle Tajikistan's controversial Rogun Dam project, centerpiece of Uzbek/Tajik tensions. At that time, Tajikistan will regret inviting US "border guard experts" into their midst, instead of allowing Russian forces to resume control of the border. Tensions will very likely boil over between the two Central Asian antagonists at that time, since the Rogun project has been raising a hefty sum of cash for the government. Obama must love to play with fire.]
DUSHANBE, October 27, 2011, Asia-Plus — “A statement by Belarusian president about the necessity of withdrawing Uzbekistan from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) means nothing and it is not connected with his visit to Tajikistan,” Tajik political scientist Rustam Haidarov told an Asia-Plus in an interview Thursday afternoon.
“Most likely, this statement is connected with the upcoming deployment of the U.S. troops in Uzbekistan,” said Haidarov. “Nothing will change in relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan if the latter quits the CSTO. All unsolved problems will remain unsolved.”
According to him, official Tashkent will initiate Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the Organization itself as soon as the United States deploys its troops in Uzbekistan.
“Uzbekistan is the only country in the region, upon which the United States may relay in terms of deployment of its troops. I am sure that the issue of deployment of the U.S. troops in Uzbekistan has already been solved by political leaders of the neighboring country positively,” said Haidarov. “This means that expert resolution by the World Bank, which is controlled by the United States, will block the completion of construction of the Roghun hydroelectric power plant (HPP) in Tajikistan.”
We will recall that during a meeting with parliament speakers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member nations in Minsk ahead of his visit to Tajikistan, President Lukashenko offered to review the issue of further participation of Uzbekistan in the Organization.
Some media outlets quoted Lukashenko as saying that Uzbekistan is playing a triple game that does not allow it to be in the CSTO. “I have sent my observations to the President of Russia. We must make a decision on Uzbekistan,” Belarusian leader was cited as saying.
The regional security organization was initially formed in 1992 for a five-year period by the members of the CIS Collective Security Treaty (CST) — Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which were joined by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Belarus the following year. A 1994 treaty “reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force,” and prevented signatories from joining any “other military alliances or other groups of states” directed against members states. The CST was then extended for another five-year term in April 1999, and was signed by the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan. In October 2002, the group was renamed as the CSTO. Uzbekistan became a full participant in the CSTO on June 23, 2006; and its membership was formally ratified by the Uzbek parliament on 28 March 2008. The CSTO is currently an observer organization at the United Nations General Assembly.
PanARMENIAN.Net - On October 31, Yerevan will hostFacebook Workshop free video seminar on integration of mass media in social networks as well as Facebook-provided media possibilities.
The rapporteurs, Facebook Russia growth manager Yekaterina Skorobogatova and Facebook Russia and Eastern Europe development manager Angela Tse will brief the audience on transformed means of communication, modern use of media content as well as a number of alterations at Facebook platform and the way media partners may benefit from it.
The seminar will be held in Russian and English languages (simultaneous translation provided).
Video seminars with Yerevan, Moscow, St. Petersburg, (Russia) Kiev (Ukraine), Astana (Kazakhstan), Tbilisi (Georgia), Chisinau (Moldova) and Tomsk (Russia) have been scheduled.
The event is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of RIA Novosti news agency.
Obama said that Qaddafi had an opportunity during the Arab Spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy. “We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it,” Obama said.
[The President of the United States, on national network TV, as much as admitted that he had violated the American laws against political assassination, by giving Qaddafi an ultimatum--Surrender to our demands or die, along with your entire family. The Black American Godfather of crime made Qaddafi an "offer he couldn't refuse," but Muammar refused it somehow, thereby justifying the hits on Qaddafi and his family, at least in the sick demented mind of Obama. Obama's logic is similar to that of previous tyrants--Murder of all those who oppose your dictates is justifiable. What does it matter if tens, or hundreds of thousands of innocents die in the airborne terrorist attacks that he orders to kill the Qaddafis of this world? We have long lost our reasons for waging this criminal war of aggression which we still mislabel the "global war on terrorism," even though we have proven ourselves to be the greatest terrorists, by far. We continue to honor our military and its "exploits," which are all glossed-over overt acts of aggression, as defined globally. There is no honor in sending Special Forces troops into people's homes, to kill the sons and often the fathers in their beds, neither do we escape our guilt for hiring others to do the killing in the field for us. We are a sick, demented lot, but we pride ourselves on our blind "patriotism." Real Patriots would never stand still in the face of the great national crimes being committed on a daily basis, all under the communal lie of "they started this war." God knows that the single act of mass-murder which got this bloody ball rolling was not just an act of a bunch of nutcases we like to call "al-Qaeda." Those guys had a lot of professional help, help that is only available within our own government and Establishment. We are in this war without end, because that is just exactly where the corporate government wanted us to be--In a position globally to seize control over all those juicy resources. The American military stands astride this world like an enormous octopus, ready to feed the tentacles of pipeline networks, many of them yet to be built. The pipelines, just like the war, has been on the American corporate drawing board for far longer than we have been waging the war itself.
Obama likes to describe the impending takeover by "Islamists" in the Arab spring countries as a "transition into democracy." That is such an utter lie! Rule by a violent "Islamic" minority is NOT democracy. For those who are jumping to defend Obama, that the Islamic Brotherhood types who are taking control are not "violent," you know that the first act of all of them will be to enforce their personal sick brand of "Shariah Law" over the mostly secular populations. Judging by other countries' previous experiences with these pseudo-Islamists who enforce Wahhabi/Deobandi Shariah, this can only be done through violence. Look at Wana, S. Waziristan, there, inter-tribal warfare erupted as soon as the IMU terrorists and Taliban were driven out of Afghanistan. Islamic Movement of Uzbekistani (IMU) terrorists launched waves of Shariah-enforcing attacks upon the locals. The tribal warfare which erupted to expel them has not ended yet. It has spread throughout the entire tribal region, powered by the same IMU thugs and their TTP counterparts, like good Muslim Hakeemullah Mehsud, or the misunderstood "miscreants" of Lashkar e-Jhangvi, who slaughter Shiites all over.
Qaddafi was right to fight against this impending Western blackmail with every means at his disposal. The people of Libya will rue the day that they ever gave an inch to the "al-Qaeda" terrorists and their "Islamist" political base. If rule by extremist fundamentalist freaks is "democracy," then it is something which every thinking person must fight against.]
By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCES
Amid rising international condemnation of the way former Libyan lead Muammar Qaddafi was killed, the Namibian government and the Russian Prime Minister have spoken out on Wednesday about his gruesome killing.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he was disgusted by television images of Muammar Qaddafi’s last minutes and his corpse after death.
“Almost all of Qaddafi’s family has been killed, his corpse was shown on all global television channels, it was impossible to watch without disgust,” Putin said. “The man was all covered in blood, still alive and he was being finished off.”
Putin however stopped short of making any political statements on the issue.
Meanwhile, Namibia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Peya Mushelenga told parliament that he condemned what he called the “cold-blooded extra-judicial execution” of Qaddafi.
“Namibia condemns this mindless and uncalled-for extra-judicial killing of Colonel Qaddafi,” Deputy Foreign Minister Peya Mushelenga told parliament.
“Last Thursday the world witnessed with horror the brutal and cold-blooded execution of Colonel Qaddafi at the hands of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), supported by NATO. This assassination is contrary to all relevant international humanitarian laws governing war prisoners.”
Despite African Union recognition of the NTC since September 20, Namibia does not recognize the council as Libya’s legitimate government.
It also supports the U.N. Human Rights Council’s call for an international commission of inquiry into Qaddafi’s death.
“The capture of Colonel Qaddafi presented a good opportunity for the allegations leveled against him to have been brought before a court of law,” Mushelenga said.
He also called for the formation of an “inclusive Libyan government” representing all sides of the conflict.
Qaddafi was buried in a secret desert location early Tuesday, five days after he was captured, killed and put on grisly public display. The former leader was seen on video being mocked, beaten and abused before he died.
“That’s not something that I think we should relish,” United States President Barack Obama told Jay Leno on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” when asked his feelings about the footage being televised. “I think that there’s a certain decorum with which you treat the dead even if it’s somebody who has done terrible things.”
He also said that Qaddafi had an opportunity during the Arab Spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy. “We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it,” Obama said.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has urged partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to take into account the problems related to attempts to destabilize a civil society via the Internet.
Minsk – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has urged partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to take into account the problems related to attempts to destabilize a civil society via the Internet.
During the recent informal CSTO summit in Astana, “very serious attention was paid to what is going on in the media space, which today is being used in several directions as an attempt to destabilize the situation in any particular country,” Lukashenko said at a meeting with attendees of a session of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly Council. “Look what is happening in the Arab world,” Lukashenko said.
“Unfortunately, the situation has not changed there,” he said. “The results of the Tunisian elections have been announced. Look who won there. The Islamists, the most radical part of them. And what will happen in Egypt, and what will happen in Libya?” Lukashenko asked.
“One should not think that all this is far from us and has nothing to do with us,” he said. “But nor should one think that we are trembling before these networks [social networking websites],” the president said.
“There have been attempts throughout this year to destabilize the social situation in our country through the social network,” he said. “We have learnt to fight against this evil. And there is no fear here, no bans, we are not shutting down the Internet or social networks. You are welcome to speak and discuss. But if these actions are unlawful, we will take necessary measures,” the Belarusian president said.
With NATO and KFOR troops bulldozing a barricade built by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo on the border with Serbia, says political analyst Aleksandar Pavic, the military alliance has gone from a peacekeeping force to a party to the conflict.“NATO is now definitely acting as an occupying force,” argued the Belgrade-based political analyst. “They are not a peace factor at all, they are a total factor of war and destabilization.”NATO is inciting the government in Pristina to more violence, claimed Pavic. Meanwhile, the alliance, which deployed itself in between Serbia and Kosovo to separate the two conflicting parties, has stepped beyond its mandate granted by the United Nations Charter and Resolution 1244.“Everything was reasonably peaceful until [NATO] gave the green light for Albanian special police forces to forcedly take the administrative border back in July,” Pavic told RT. “Ever since then, they have been giving them full support.” Whatever discussion was brought up in the UN regarding the whole land dispute, the Western powers blocked any practical decision or action from being taken, added the analyst.“We don’t really have a mediator here anymore and that’s even more dangerous,” he concluded.
[America's tyrants have absolutely NO RIGHT to demand that Pakistan continue to suffer energy deprivations, especially when the gas has already been piped up to Pakistan's backdoor. If Pakistanis don't react to this in an "Arab spring" fashion, then they are doomed as a Nation. Accepting Indian power as a substitute, or the TAP pipeline, which will never be built, means accepting eventual forced reunification with the Hindu state. You people have no idea of the depth of depravity of "Mr. 10%" and friends, if you take this lying down. Haven't you suffered enough, providing the obscene "profits" (plunder) that these crooks have reaped so far?
May as well get used to the idea of becoming India's bitch, since you seem so comfortable in the role.]
The Iranian pipeline is ideal to help overcome the agonising shortfall of power in the country, in the shortest possible period of time. It holds crucial significance in the future progress and prosperity of Pakistan since it will enable us to resuscitate our moribund industry and take advantage of our trade deals with China, Turkey and iran. Jettisoning the project is literally suicidal and getting power from India amounts to pawning our future to an inveterate enemy, which can switch off supply when it most needed by us. The precendent is already set, with India raising dams and diverting water allocated to us under the Indus Waters Treaty. In times of floods and heavy rains, when we are finding it difficult to manage the swelling water, releasing more water to worsen our plight. The history of our relations goes against the logic of having such a deal with New Delhi, or granting it Most Favoured Nation status. Unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved with India, in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council, all other ventures cannot be entered into in a positive spirit. Any attempt at normalising relations with it, without a change in the very real contentions between our two countries would be counterproductive to moving forward.
The alternative to the Iranian gas – the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project – being favoured by the Americans has to traverse a difficult terrain of 1,700km, mostly through war-torn, Taliban controlled Afghanistan which puts the project’s practicality in serious doubt. It would also be self-defeating to believe that the departure of foreign troops by 2014 would immediately bring peace and harmony to the country. Besides, TAP gas, because of the extra infrastructure it requires, would be far more expensive than the IP’s and less economically viable. The government has valid arguments to refuse US pressure in discontinuing the Iran gas pipeline project, it must make them heard.
* Libya’s interim ruler urges NATO to stay till year end
PARIS: Muammar Gaddafi’s family plans to file a war crimes complaint against NATO with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the alliance’s alleged role in his death, the family’s lawyer said Wednesday.
The 69-year-old ex-strongman was captured and killed Thursday near the city of Sirte in circumstances that are still unclear, but it has been confirmed NATO aircraft fired on pro-Gaddafi vehicles driving in a convoy from the city.
Marcel Ceccaldi, a French lawyer who previously worked for Gaddafi’s regime and now represents his family, told AFP that a complaint would be filed with the Hague-based ICC because NATO’s attack on the convoy led directly to his death.
“The wilful killing (of someone protected by the Geneva Convention) is defined as a war crime by Article 8 of the ICC’s Rome Statute,” he said. He said he could not yet say when the complaint would be filed, but said it would target both NATO executive bodies and the leaders of alliance member states. “Gaddafi’s homicide shows that the goal of (NATO) member states was not to protect civilians but to overthrow the regime,” Ceccaldi said.
“Either the ICC intervenes as an independent and impartial jurisdiction or it doesn’t, in which case force will overrule the law,” he said. Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council has announced an investigation into Gaddafi’s death.
International disquiet has grown over how Gaddafi met his end after NTC fighters hauled him out of a culvert where he was hiding following NATO air strikes on the convoy in which he had been trying to flee his falling hometown.
Libya’s interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Wednesday urged NATO to continue its Libya campaign until year’s end, saying loyalists of slain despot Muammar Gaddafi still pose a threat to the country.
Abdel Jalil’s comments, made at a Doha conference of military allies of his National Transitional Council (NTC), came a day after Gaddafi’s body was buried in secret under cover of darkness after being displayed in public for four days.
“We hope (NATO) will continue its campaign until at least the end of this year to serve us and neighbouring countries,” Abdel Jalil, NTC chairman, told the Conference of Friends Committee. This request is aimed at “ensuring that no arms are infiltrated into those countries and to ensure the security of Libyans from some remnants of Gaddafi’s forces who have fled to nearby countries,” he added.
The NTC is also seeking help from NATO in “developing Libya’s defence and security systems,” Abdel Jalil told the conference.
In Brussels, diplomats said NATO had decided to delay a formal decision to end Libyan air operations until Friday after the NTC’s request for an extension and a Russian demand for UN consultations. agencies
[More Nazir commanders are killed, but Nazir himself has not been seen since commando assault in August, 2009, after Baitullah's elimination (SEE: Did US Special Forces Kill Mullah Nazir?).]
PESHAWAR: A US drone strike on a vehicle on Thursday killed five commanders of one of Pakistan’s most influential Taliban leaders, Maulvi Nazir, one of the faction’s senior commanders told Reuters.
He identified four of the commanders as Hazrat Omar, Nazir’s younger brother, Khan Mohammad, Miraj Wazir and Ashfaq Wazir.
According to initial details, five missiles were fired on a vehicle carrying several passengers.
The vehicle was traveling from Tora Gola village to the nearby area of Azam Warsak when it was hit.
“Nazir’s younger brother Omar Wazir has been killed, it has been confirmed,” a Pakistani security official told AFP.
Another Pakistani intelligence official also confirmed his death.
Residents and security officials in the region described the 27-year-old as the operational head for the Nazir group, and a close aide of his brother.
He adopted a low profile, going to Afghanistan, assigning duties to the fighters and supervising logistic arrangements for their missions, they said.
“They are a very important group because while they are based in Pakistan they are very active in Afghanistan,” said Mansur Khan Mehsud of the Fata Research Centre think tank.
“If you look at drone strikes, they are one of the most heavily targeted groups.”
LA HULPE, Belgium: Indian and Chinese bidders are front-runners for deals to mine Afghanistan’s vast iron ore and oil deposits, the country’s mining minister said on Wednesday, worrying Western firms who have hesitated to invest in the war-torn region.
Afghanistan is estimated to harbour up to three trillion dollars in mineral wealth from gold, copper, iron ore and precious stones to oil, gas and rare earth minerals.
Such riches have attracted risk-friendly investors despite security concerns as Western governments prepare military pull-outs, in particular from India and China where demand for energy and industrial inputs is booming.
Two Indian bidders have emerged as “the most potential companies” among a short list of six to win a contract for the vast Hajigak iron ore project in early November, Afghan Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani told Reuters on the sidelines of a mining conference in Belgium.
One of the bidders is an independent company and one a consortium that includes India’s powerful Mittal family, he said.
An oil and gas contract in northern Afghanistan’s Amu Darya field will most likely go to a Chinese bidder in early December, Shahrani said.
“Those companies that get into Afghanistan early will have good opportunities,” the minister added.
EU firms cannot compete
Asian investors are threatening to dash long-term hopes of Western firms holding out for greater safety and business transparency before putting funds into a country with vast raw materials reserves. The investments are also provoking criticism that India and Chinese governments give guarantees to their private firms, unfairly aiding their bids.
“At the front these bids are private but behind them is government funding,” Ramon Mushrief, Interim President at the newly opened European Union Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan, told Reuters.
“These companies can afford to take risks that European companies cannot. And there is nothing we can do,” he added.
No Indian or Chinese investors were present at the conference to comment.
Afghanistan has promised legal and fiscal reforms to attract foreign investment that will help develop industry and eventually wean the country off foreign development aid.
The World Bank, investment funds and European and US executives on Wednesday called on Kabul to implement governance and fiscal reforms. They warned that lax laws could foster corruption and stop the benefits of mineral wealth reaching a population in need of steady jobs and income.
International resource activist group Global Witness reserved particular criticism for Afghanistan’s practice of publishing details of mining contracts only once they have been finalised.
“The extractive sector requires the early and full assessment of its impact…contracts made public before they are signed,” said Global Witness Director Patrick Alley.
Afghanistan will publish in mid-2012 details of a copper mining contract that has gone to a Chinese consortium — but only once subsidiary agreements have been completed, Shahrani said.
EU-Afghanistan agreement in sight
In the absence of immediate large investments, the EU wants to sign a treaty with Afghanistan to formalise diplomatic, human rights, trade and investment relations and lower the risk of a security vacuum as international troops withdraw from the country.
EU Special Representative for Afghanistan Vygaudas Usackas, also attending the conference, told Reuters the EU will start talks for such a treaty before an international conference on Afghanistan’s future taking place in Bonn, Germany, on December 5.
In late 1932 – precisely when the genocidal famine struck – the Central Statistical Bureau in Moscow ceased to publish demographic data.
The 1937 census was given top priority. The census director I. Kravel was awarded the Order of Lenin for his meticulous work. After the results of the 1937 census were submitted to the Government, the census was declared “subversive”, its materials destroyed and the top census officials were shot for not finding enough people.
The “natural disaster” excuse to cover up the 1933 Famine-Genocide does not hold water. It was not caused by some natural calamity or crop failure:
- The 1931 harvest was 18.3 million tons of grain.
- The 1932 harvest was 14.6 million tons of grain.
- The 1933 harvest was 22.3 million tons of grain.
- The 1934 harvest was 12.3 million tons of grain.
In 1934 during the poorest harvest – a mere 12.3 – there was no massive famine because Stalin reduced the grain requisition quotas and even released grain from existing “state stockpiles” to feed the population.
The highest death rates were in the grain growing provinces of Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad and Odessa: usually 20-25%, although higher in many villages.
- The 7 August 1932 law drafted by Joseph Stalin on the protection of the socialist property stipulated the death penalty for “theft of socialist property”. Ukrainian villagers were executed by firing squads for theft of a sack of wheat and in some cases even for two sheaves of corn or a husk of grain.
- The 6 December 1932 decree stipulated a complete blockade of villages for allegedly sabotaging the grain procurement campaign – de facto sentencing their Ukrainian inhabitants to execution by starvation.
- An unpublished decree signed by Molotov encouraged Russian peasants to settle into the empty or half-empty villages of “the free lands of Ukraine” [and North Caucasus also inhabited by Ukrainians and likewise devastated by the famine].
- The All-Union Peoples Commissariat of Agriculture in Moscow initially mobilized some of its most reliable ‘25-thousanders’ -Party members, majority of them Russians – and sent them to Ukraine to organize collective farms.
- Further ‘thousanders,’ the army, the secret police [GPU], the militia and armed brigades were sent into Ukrainian villages to force the farmers into collective farms and to supervise the Draconian grain expropriation and eventually the entire output of butter, corn, sugar beet, etc.
- Local granaries in Ukraine held large stockpiles of ‘state reserves’ for emergencies, such as war, but the raging famine did not qualify as an emergency.
- The 1933 Famine-Genocide was geographically focused for political ends. It stopped precisely at the Ukrainian-Russian ethnographic border.
- The borders of Ukraine were strictly patrolled by the military to prevent starving Ukrainians from crossing into Russia in search of bread.
- For example: The Kharkiv Province on the Ukrainian side was devastated while the contiguous Belgorod Province on the Russian side with similar climatic conditions and demographic profiles showed no evidence of starvation or any unusual mortality.
- Armed GPU officers were also stationed to prevent starving Ukrainians from entering the zone near the Polish and Romanian borders. Those who tried to cross the Dnister River into Romania were shot.
The Soviet regime dumped 1.7 million tons of grain on the Western markets at the height of the Famine. It exported nearly a quarter of a ton of grain for every Ukrainian who starved to death.
- At the height of the Famine Ukrainian villagers were dying at the rate of 25,000 per day or 1,000 per hour or 17 per minute.
- By comparison the Allied soldiers died at the rate of 6,000 per day during the Battle of Verdun.
- Among the children one in three perished as a consequence of collectivization and the famine.
- According to dissident Soviet demographer M. Maksudov “no fewer than three million children born between 1932-1933 died of hunger.”
- 80% of Ukrainian intellectuals were liquidated because they refused to collaborate in the extermination of their countrymen.
- Out of about 240 Ukrainian authors 200 were liquidated or disappeared. Out of about 84 linguists 62 perished.
- The Ukrainian population may have been reduced by as much as 25%.
- Foreign correspondents were “advised” by the press department of the Soviet Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to remain in Moscow and were de facto barred from visiting Ukraine.
- Not a single Western newspaper or press agency protested publicly against the unprecedented confining of its correspondents in Moscow or bothered to investigate the reason for this extraordinary measure.
- The majority of reporters feared losing their journalistic privileges and toed the line.
- The only correspondents permitted into Ukraine were the likes of Walter Duranty of the New York Times who reported that there was no famine except for some “partial crop failures.”
- Star reporter Walter Duranty of the New York Times set the tone for most of the Western press coverage with authoritative denials of starvation and referred to the Famine as the “alleged ‘man-made’ famine of 1933.”
- However, according to British Diplomatic Reports, Duranty off the record, conceded that “as many as 10 million” may have perished.
- For his reporting Walter Duranty received the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. To this date the New York Times refuses to revoke the prize and still lists Duranty among its Pulitzer winners.
A number of intrepid reporters, such as William Henry Chamberlin, Harry Lang, Malcolm Muggeridge and Thomas Walker ignored the ban and reported on the Famine, substantiating their reports with photographs.
Available archival evidence (such as reports sent in diplomatic pouches as well as coverage on the press by a few honest and courageous reporters who managed to penetrate into starving Ukraine) indicates that several Western governments (especially Great Britain, Canada and the United States) were well informed about the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine but chose to adopt a policy on non-interference in the internal affairs of a foreign sovereign state. Ironically, the United States recognized the Soviet Union in November, 1933.
Offers to aid the starving by numerous charitable organizations such as the International Red Cross, Save the Children Fund, the Vienna-based Interconfessional Relief Council and Ukrainian organizations in the West and Western Ukraine (occupied by Poland) were discouraged or blocked by their Governments.
The U.S. Congress 1988 Commission on the Ukraine famine in its “Investigation of the Ukraine Famine of 1932-1933″ concluded that: JOSEPH STALIN AND THOSE AROUND HIM COMMITTED GENOCIDE AGAINST UKRAINIANS IN 1932-1933.
|Conquest Robert||The Harvest of Sorrow. Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1986.|
|Dolot, Miron||Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust. New York: W. W. Norton, 1985.|
|Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933||Edited by Roman Serbyn and Bohdan Kravchenko. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1986.|
a I Affirm Mykola Meleshko
b The Famine: A Pogrom of the Ukrainian Peasantry F.P. Burtians’kyi
c In Memory of the Victims of the Famine T. Khokhitva
d The Secrets of the Famine Vasyl Zaiika
e The Scar Ihor Vytvyts’kyi
|Holodomor Lessons and Lesson Plans - V. Kuryliw|
a Chicago-American: Part One
b Chicago-American: Part Two
|The Ukrainian Holodomor – Was it a Genocide?|
|A New View of a Famine That Killed Millions|
c Annotated Bibliography (Shevchenko Scientific Society, Inc.)
[As hard as it may seem for some unread folks to believe, but there are many bloody examples where Stalin almost made Hitler look like a "Boy Scout" (SEE: Facts About the 1933 Famine-Genocide in Soviet Occupied Ukraine). The hard truth may be that Hitler learned a few brutal lessons from Stalin's murderous exploits in Eastern Europe and in Russia itself, just as he copied America's genocidal policies which were shaped to wipe-out our own native tribal population. The hardest truth that we all must one day learn is that no society or civilization advances materially, except on the back others. Someone must die or do without, in order for others to live like kings. There are no natural surpluses in nature. For a society to "profit," someone (the underclasses) will have to pay, or do without. To create profit is to create an unnatural surplus over "here," by diverting goods which were originally going over "there." The Third Reich advanced on the backs of its minorities and underclass, just like Stalin's Soviet Union. Russians and other former Soviets might find themselves looking back on the Soviet Union with rose-colored glasses in today's tough economic times, but it was only twenty years ago that all of them were breathing deep sighs of relief after unloading the weight of the Soviet Union off their backs. Putin was dead wrong about the demise of the Soviet Union being a tragedy--It was a great blessing to all mankind, but our leaders turned it into a nightmare, treating it as an opportunity to punish the survivors.
Fuck Stalin... I hope that he is rotting in hell.]
MOSCOW—Russian state-controlled media must stop whitewashing Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s image, and the government should take a stand on his crimes, human rights activists and historians said Wednesday.
Nearly 60 years after his death, Stalin remains a divisive figure in Russian society, with some crediting him with leading the nation to victory in World War II and turning it into a superpower, and others condemning him for purges that killed millions of people.
Russia’s state-run TV stations have recently turned Stalin’s name into a favorable brand, thanks to “very talentedly executed propaganda,” Alexander Drozdov, director of the Boris Yeltsin Center, said at a news conference.
Nationwide, television stations have aired many movies and programs casting Stalin in a positive light.
He was voted as Russia’s third-greatest historical figure in a prime-time show in 2008, garnering more than 519,000 votes. Recent polls have shown that from one-third to one-half of Russians have a decidedly or at least a mildly positive view of Stalin.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who served as president in 2000-2008 and is all but certain to reclaim the top job in March’s election, has avoided open public praise or criticism of Stalin. But his opponents have accused the government of burnishing Stalin’s image as part of its efforts to justify its own retreat from democracy.
Stalin critics have been outraged by a high school textbook that describes the dictator as “an efficient manager” and by a restored Moscow subway station that includes old Soviet national anthem lyrics praising the dictator in its interior decoration.
Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. During that time, millions of people died in political purges and in prison camps. Countless others were deported or exiled to remote areas.
Vladimir Lukin, Russia’s human rights ombudsman, decried any attempt to give Stalin credit for the economic growth of the 1930s.
“Thanks to heroic efforts and a total disregard for humanity, our country managed to evolve from a backward agrarian country into a backward industrial one during the Stalin era,” Lukin said.
Arseny Roginsky, head of the Memorial rights group, said the least the Russian government can do now is “give a legal appraisal to the crimes of the Soviet regime.” Roginsky’s group has offered a comprehensive package to help raise public awareness of Stalin’s crimes, including suggestions for school curriculums.
Andrei Sorokin, director of the Russian State Archives of Social and Political History, warned that Russia will have no future if it fails to assess its difficult past.
“Russian society has been living in a crisis of public consciousness for the past 25 years,” he said.
“Any forward movement or attempts to modernize Russia will fail if we don’t work out a consensus on our attitudes toward the Soviet past.”
(Reuters) – The Afghan Taliban will hunt down and punish anyone who takes part in next month’s national assembly, where the possibility of long-term U.S. military bases in Afghanistan will be discussed, the group warned in a statement on Wednesday.
The unusually specific threat, in an English-language message from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, said participants will be pursued “all over the country and will face severe repercussions.”
It called on Taliban supporters “to target every security guard, person with intention, participant and every caller of this convention.”
The four-day gathering, known in Afghanistan as a ‘Loya Jirga’, will be held in the capital Kabul in late November, where it will bring together more than 2,000 politicians, tribal elders, community leaders, businessmen and civil society representatives from across the country.
The assembly will be a consultative process, and its decisions are not legally binding on the government.
Earlier this month, Taliban vowed to fight until all foreign forces have left Afghanistan.
President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers have agreed that all foreign combat troops would return home by the end of 2014, but the West has promised continued support beyond then in the form of funds and training for Afghan security forces.
Despite the presence of tens of thousands of Western soldiers in Afghanistan, the United Nations and other groups say violence is at its worst since U.S.-led Afghan forces toppled the Taliban from power in late 2001.
NATO-led forces say they have seen a decline over recent months in attacks launched by insurgents against their troops.
Safia Sediqi, a spokeswoman for the grand assembly, said she was unaware of the threat.
“I have not read the statement yet and it’s early to comment about it,” she said.
Pakistani security officials inspect the site of a bomb blast in the district of Lower Dir on October 25, 2011. A roadside bomb targeted an anti-Taliban militia member in northwest Pakistan, ripping through his vehicle and killing four people, police said. The blast badly damaged the militiaman’s car in a remote village in the district of Lower Dir, where Pakistan launched a major operation designed to dislodge a Taliban insurgency in 2009. AFP PHOTO / IHSAN ULLAH (Photo credit should read IHSAN ULLAH/AFP/Getty Images)
Photograph by: IHSAN ULLAH, AFP/Getty Images
Pakistan is still running training camps to support and arm the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan despite official denials, insurgents have claimed.
Middle-ranking Taliban commanders have boasted that they have received “practical guidance” and training in bomb-making by officers from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).
One commander, Mullah Azizullah, told a BBC documentary: “They are all the ISI’s men. They are the ones who run the training. First they train us about bombs, then they give us practical guidance. Their generals are everywhere. They are present during the training.”
In an interview at a safe house in Kabul in June, he added: “The Taliban movement was created with the help of the ISI. It is like when a tree grows – one has to plant it and water it.”
The claims come amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and the US following an attack by insurgents on the American embassy in Kabul last month, by a group that Adml Mike Mullen, the then chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, claimed was directed by the ISI.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, visited Pakistan last week and urged the head of the ISI and the military to take action against militants operating on their soil, including the group behind the embassy attack, the Haqqani network.
Suspicions remain that Pakistan sees Afghanistan as a “strategic buffer” and is continuing to support insurgents so that it is ready for the withdrawal of British and US troops in three years’ time. Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani president, told The Daily Telegraph last month that Pakistan had to “really think what will be the environment and fend for itself against all the exterior pressures, all the exterior manoeuvrings and political manoeuvrings against Pakistan”.
A middle-ranking commander called Mullah Qaseem told the makers of Secret Pakistan, to be shown on BBC Two tonight: “For a fighter there are two important things – supplies and a place to hide. Pakistan plays a significant role. First they support us by providing a place to hide which is really important. Secondly they provide us with weapons.”
Lt Col Tony Shaffer, who served with US Defence Intelligence between 1995 and 2006, said the ISI tipped of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, during a bloody battle with Pakistani troops in Wana in 2004, allowing him to escape.
Col Richard Kemp, who worked at the Cabinet Office as head of intelligence on international terrorism between 2001 and 2006, said the ISI bore some responsibility for not preventing the July 7 attacks.
“The ISI of course must take responsibility for the fact that some of these camps were still up and running, including perhaps the camp that was responsible for training the 7/7 attackers,” Col Kemp said.
Pakistan continues to deny the reports with Gen Athar Abbas, director-general of Inter Services Public Relations, the military organisation within the country’s defence forces, telling the BBC: “To say that these militant groups were being supported by the state with the organised camps in these areas. Oh, I think nothing could be further from the truth.”
By James Rowley
Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) — House Speaker John Boehner is threatening to block legislation to normalize U.S. trade with Russia, as part of its World Trade Organization admission, until it respects the “territorial integrity” of neighboring Georgia.
As he urged President Barack Obama to stop “downplaying Russia’s disregard” for democracy and human rights, Boehner said he found “alarming” reports that the U.S. won’t pressure Russia to return to recognizing borders that existed before its 2008 war with Georgia. Russian troops occupy land inside Georgia in violation of an August 2008 cease-fire agreement.
“The administration should resolve this stalemate in a manner that respects the territorial integrity of Georgia,” Boehner said in a speech yesterday to the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “Then — and only then — will movement on the WTO question be worth considering.”
Russia’s admission to the WTO will require Congress to approve “permanent, normal trade relations,” the Ohio Republican said. Besides Georgia, there are “significant, outstanding commercial issues which must be addressed” before Congress acts to normalize trade relations, Boehner said.
The U.S. has helped Russia seek admission to the WTO. Russia has won support from the European Union. It hasn’t reached agreement with Georgia over bilateral issues, including the Black Sea nation’s demands for control of customs checkpoints in two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
In Moscow, a senior Russian official called “impossible” Georgia’s demands that Russia drop diplomatic recognition of the two breakaway territories as a condition for membership in WTO, according to DPA, which cited an Interfax news agency dispatch. As a member of the 153-nation WTO, Georgia must agree to Russia’s admission.
Arkady Dvorkovich, an assistant to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, was quoted by DPA as saying “we will never accept” Georgia’s demands.
White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement yesterday that “the Obama administration remains unwavering in its commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity” and has “made clear, both in private channels and in public statements, that the United States will not support Russia’s WTO accession until Russia and Georgia reach agreement on their outstanding trade-related issues.”
Representative Howard Berman of California, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, questioned Boehner’s tactic.
If Congress doesn’t act to normalize U.S. trade relations with Russia, “it is our companies that get hurt” because they wouldn’t “have access to Russian markets,” Berman said.
Even without action by Congress, he said, “Russia has all the benefits of WTO” even if Congress doesn’t approve normalizing its trade with the U.S.
He also disputed Boehner’s assertion that the Obama administration was “leaning on Georgia to acquiesce” on border issues. “We’ve said Russia has to settle this dispute with Georgia and it cannot count on us to deliver Georgia,” Berman said.
As the U.S. tries to “reset” its relationship with Russia, the Obama administration shouldn’t shy away from pointing out Russia’s violations of democratic and human rights, Boehner said.
The House stands ready to give “teeth” to a more forceful U.S. assertion of a human rights agenda with Russia, he said.
“Instead of downplaying Russia’s disregard for democratic values and human rights, we should call them on it — publicly, forcefully, frequently,” Boehner said.
Berman said, “Human rights cannot, and I don’t believe it has, dropped off our agenda.”
Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, returned earlier this month from a trip to Russia to press authorities to improve their record and meet with civic groups that have come under pressure from the government.
Russia’s willingness to impose sanctions against Iran following the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. will be a test of its respect for international law, Boehner said. Obama said on Oct. 13 that the accused plotters had “direct links” to Iran’s government.
The U.S. “should do more to compel the Kremlin to curtail its relationship with Iran, particularly related to its nuclear program and missile technology,” Boehner said.
Lawmakers and former officials have called for tighter sanctions against Iran, saying existing strictures haven’t been effective at barring its pursuit of a nuclear program.
The Obama administration began a diplomatic push to have other countries condemn Iran. So far, it hasn’t pursued sanctions or action at the United Nations because of resistance from Russia and China.
“We do believe we’ve had progress together in tightening sanctions on Iran and this continues to be a subject in our ongoing dialogue” with Russia, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at the agency’s daily press briefing yesterday.
Russia has vowed to block any resolution that could be used to justify or hasten regime change after a UN resolution in March authorized NATO-led military action in Libya. Russia abstained on that vote.
In 2009, Russia blocked U.S. attempts to enforce new sanctions against Iran after evidence suggested it might have enough enriched uranium to make a bomb.
–With assistance from Nicole Gaouette and Viola Gienger in Washington. Editors: Don Frederick, Jim Rubin.
To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at email@example.com
[Hillary has no problem getting the answers she wants from Zardari, but Kayani dances to a different tune. Whatever may come out of this "tri-logue," it is the Pak Army which will have to enforce any "truce" reached by the talking heads. We are watching a very elaborate road show being staged to seduce the leaders of AfPak and Central Asia into making it possible for Western corporations to bring the "Silk Road" Pipeline scheme into existence. The big obstacle is in convincing the other players that the survival of the American Empire is not in question...that the American Empire's treasury will have something in it for them after 2014.]
[Hillary shares her "dead Qaddafi" joke with Zardari]
- US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, third from left, meets with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zidari, right, alongside US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, left, and US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, second from left, in Islamabad on Oct. 21, 2011. – AP Photo
WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan agree on a framework for holding direct talks with the militants and are now working to operationalise the plan, says the US State Department.
At a briefing for the press corps that accompanied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Islamabad last week, two State Department officials explained what the secretary meant when she said in her recent interviews that the US and Pakistan had agreement on 90-95 per cent of issues they confronted.
They said the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan had already an understanding on holding a “tri-logue” with the Taliban militants.
They also agree that this has to be Afghan-led and has to be at the pace and scope that the Afghans decide on.
“That Pakistan has to play its part in this; it has to encourage reconciliation. And that as efforts are made at reconciliation, if the US can play a helpful role, that we would be available to do that,” said one official.
After agreeing on this framework, the US and Pakistan were now working on the need to operationalise it. “What does it mean? And particularly in the context of the awful, horrific experience that the Afghans had with the death of President Rabbani … we’re all working off the script that is going to protect against that kind of thing happening again,” the official said.
Operational details like where to hold the dialogue, who to talk to and in what form and formats and for how long were now being worked out, the official added.
“We needed to start with ensuring we were all on the same page in terms of the framework.” The two officials explained that in their meetings with the US delegation, which included the CIA and military chiefs, Pakistani leaders kept referring to the resolution passed by the all-parties conference on the proposed talks with the militants.
“What does the all-parties conference mean to them? It means that every party in Pakistan got together and agreed that reconciliation, if it can be done right and if it is Afghan-led and if it meets the red lines, is in Pakistan’s interests,” said the State Department official.
“And so as they seek to work with Afghanistan and with us on this, what we heard in general, was that they need to keep the Pakistani body politic together on this agenda. And they think that they have a framework for doing that with this agreement of the all-parties council,” the official added.
The two officials disagreed with a suggestion that the Pakistanis were refusing to take military action against the militants because they had failed to produce results.
“The conversation that we had was very much on the lines that we have to squeeze them,” said one State Department official.
“But we also have to have a track for talking for those who are willing to come in off the battlefield within the parameters that the Afghans have set.
“So I don’t think there’s any disagreement between us, that we have to fight and squeeze even as we talk.”
Another senior State Department official said that Pakistan also recognised that there were militant safe havens inside its territory and the two sides needed to work together to deal with them.
In an interview to The Washington Post, Gen. Scaparrotti noted that until last year he enjoyed excellent cooperation with the Pakistani military and toured the battlefield with his counterparts from Pakistan along both sides of the porous border.
After the US raid on the Bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, “this relationship is not what it was, say, a year ago,” he said. “My intent is to start rebuilding this on a mil-to-mil basis, at least.”
A week before Secretary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad, Gen. Scaparrotti met top Pakistani military officials and pressed for re-establishing “routine daily communication” and discussions of how to deal with insurgents.
“If we work together, we can have a joint effect on [the insurgents], and we need to do so,” he said.
Meanwhile, former State Department official Vali Nasr, who was a senior adviser to the late US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrook, noted that the Obama administration clearly wanted to re-engage Pakistan.
“Every one of our assumptions about our timetable of getting out of Afghanistan, our success on the ground with military operation has been predicated on the kind of at least minimal cooperation we have had with Pakistan over the past two years,” he told the US National Public Radio.
“If that cooperation ceases to exist and our relations get any worse than they are currently, it’s very difficult to see how the United States can meet its deadlines in order to be able to withdraw from Afghanistan.”