U.S. embassy requests project proposals for the 2012 democracy commission small grants program

[Is the Tajik govt willing to allow the US State Dept. to build the tools intended for its own elimination?]

U.S. embassy requests project proposals for the 2012 democracy commission small grants program

Asia-Plus

DUSHANBE, January 6, 2012, Asia-Plus — The U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe announces a request for proposals under the 2012 Democracy Commission Small Grants Program.

The purpose of the program is to award small grants for specific projects that support the development of democratic institutions in Tajikistan.  Primarily, grants will be awarded to non-governmental, non-profit organizations (NGOs).  The amount of a grant must not be more than $50,000 (USD), but the Commission will give priority to applications that implement similar projects with lower budgets. To be eligible for consideration, every applicant must be engaged in or carry out a project the purpose of which is to promote the development of democratic institutions in Tajikistan.

The U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe will accept proposals for consideration by the Democracy Commission Small Grants Program on the following themes: summer camps for underprivileged and at-risk youth; promotion of volunteerism/civic duty; and youth entrepreneurship.   The submission deadline is February 10, 2012.

The Democracy Commission Small Grants Program has existed in Tajikistan since 2001.

The U.S. Embassy’s Democracy Commission Grant Program is limited to organizations based in Tajikistan. Projects NOT funded by the U.S. Embassy Democracy Commission Program include those requested by non-Tajikistani organizations, those relating to partisan political activity, charitable activity and humanitarian aid, fund-raising campaigns, commercial projects, those involving individuals not affiliated with an organization that can provide long-term sustainability to the project, and those that duplicate existing projects.

Tajikistan Trying To Be the Next Kyrgyzstan, Home To Both American and Russian Bases?

Tajik FM holds talks with U.S., German, EU, French, British ambassadors

Avaz Yuldoshev

DUSHANBE, January 6, 2012, Asia-Plus  — On Thursday January 5, Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi held talks with German Ambassador Doris Hertrampf, French Ambassador Henry Zipper de Fabiani, U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Gross, British Charge d’Affaires Mark Woodham and acting Head of the Delegation of the European Union Delegation to Tajikistan Istvan Nitrai, the Tajik MFA information department reports.

In the course of the talks, Tajik minister reportedly informed foreign diplomats of the most important events that are scheduled to take place in Tajikistan in 2012.

On the Fifth Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA V) that will take place in Dushanbe in March this year, Zarifi stressed that that important event would promote regional economic integration and pave the way for more involvement of Afghanistan in the regional cooperation, the source said.

Medvedev submits Russian-Tajik agreement on border cooperation to State Duma

Asia-Plus

DUSHANBE, January 6, 2012, Asia-Plus – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has submitted the Russian-Tajik agreement on border cooperation for ratification to the State Duma (Russia’s lower house of parliament), the Kremlin report on January 5.

The agreement reportedly provides for keeping Russia’s presence in Tajikistan through the group of the border-guard cooperation of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in Tajikistan, participation of Russian representatives in improving the border control system and ensuring border security of Tajikistan, training of personnel for Tajik border service as well as cooperation in countering terrorism, religious extremism, illegal migration and transnational organized crime. 

[The following excerpt describes a nearly identical American service already in the works:  "This is the latest U.S.-sponsored project that supports Tajikistan’s counter narcotics and border security efforts.  Other projects include building border crossing point facilities and border guard outposts along the Tajik-Afghan border and providing radios, vehicles, and personal equipment. U.S. Central Command counternarcotics, the United States Export Control and Border Security, and International Narcotics and Law Enforcement programs have provided facilities, equipment, and training for National Guard, Border Guards, Drug Control Agency, police, and customs officials throughout Tajikistan."]


Meanwhile, in a statement released on December 9, Tajik border service notes the agreement on border guard cooperation and a number of interagency protocols determining principles and new format of relations on the border-guard issues were signed between Tajikistan and Russia in Dushanbe last September during Russian president’s visit to Tajikistan.  “Under the new agreement, the body of advisers within the group of the border-guard cooperation of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) in Tajikistan was abolished.  At present, Russian border officers are serving in Tajikistan as consultants and teachers at the Higher Border Guard Service School in Dushanbe without trip to the border lines.”

We will recall that Tajik and Russian border guards discussed a new draft agreement on the border-control cooperation issues last year.

When Russian border guards left Tajikistan in 2005 the two sides signed a five-year cooperation agreement that has expired this year.

Russian border guards controlled the Tajik-Afghan border for more than 100 years before handing over responsibility to their Tajik colleagues in 2005.  But Russian boarder-guard advisers continue to be deployed in Tajikistan.

Negotiations that were conducted between Tajik and Russian border services last year focused on the status and tasks of those Russian border-guard advisers.

Selective Monitoring of Democratic and Human Rights In Obama’s Central Asia

[Using the issue of "human rights and Democracy" as a weapon for extorting concessions from a targeted dictatorship is a bad strategy.  Wielding these things as weapons is hypocritical policy, especially when it is applied with an on-again, off-again double-standard.  Either use it equally against all dictators, or don't use it at all.]

OSCE Will Not Monitor Turkmen Presidential Election

ODIHR has never sent observers to any of Turkmenistan’s elections, either parliamentary or presidential.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) says it will not send observers to Turkmenistan’s presidential election in February, RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service reports.

Representatives from ODIHR visited Turkmenistan in December to meet with Turkmen officials, review the election preparations in the country, and determine the possibilities monitors would have if they were deployed for the election campaign and vote.

But in a statement ODIHR said it “does not consider that the deployment of an election observation mission, even of a limited nature, would add value at this point in time.”

The statement did say the organization, “mindful of the declared interest of the authorities of Turkmenistan to maintain a dialogue,” would send an Election Assessment Mission that would “further review the legal and administrative framework for elections and also visit some regions of the country to gain a more substantive understanding of its electoral processes.”

That mission is expected to release a report some eight weeks after the election with recommendations for ” assisting Turkmenistan in its stated intention of holding elections according to democratic standards, consistent with its OSCE commitments.”

ODIHR has never sent observers to any of Turkmenistan’s elections, either parliamentary or presidential. The February 12 election is only the second time in the country’s 20-year history as an independent state that it is conducting a presidential election with more than one candidate competing.

Incumbent President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov won that election in February 2007 with some 89 percent of the vote.

Berdymukhammedov faced five opponents in the 2007. This time he competes against seven other candidates, none of whom are well-known to the Turkmen public, almost ensuring Berdymukhammedov another five-year term in office.

Calling Soldiers and Mercenaries “Diplomats” Doesn’t Change the Fact That They Are Still Killers for Hire

[The US State Dept. now has "civilian army."]

State Dept. Upgrades Counterterrorism Unit

Group Becomes Full-Fledged Bureau

By Jamie Crawford, CNN National Security Producer

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The State Department on Wednesday elevated its counterterrorism efforts, putting them in the same class as its divisions that oversee regional international diplomacy and intelligence gathering.The change in status to a full-fledged bureau, announced in September, will help raise the department’s profile and its work in counterterrorism efforts both in the United States and abroad, Daniel Benjamin, the State Department coordinator for counterterrorism said at a briefing with reporters Wednesday.”Our ability to oversee and implement (counterterrorism) programs, which cover, by the way, everything from police training to countering the al Qaeda narrative, will be strengthened by the establishment of the bureau,” Benjamin said.The elevation in status for the office has been a central goal for Secretary of State Hillary ClintonThough much progress has been made in combating terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, the Obama administration early in 2009 said improvements were needed in building foreign-partner capacity to combat terrorism.”As the threat from al Qaeda becomes more diffuse, it is in the interest of the United States to forge closer ties with the governments and communities on the front lines and to help them build up their counterterrorism capacity,” Clinton said in the speech in September in which she announced the plan to upgrade the status of the counterterrorism office. “We need to expand our efforts to build an international counterterrorism network that is as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries.”In coordination with department leadership, the new bureau will work with the National Security Council staff at the White House and other government agencies to develop and implement counterterrorism strategies.Specifically, the new bureau will take the lead in U.S. government efforts to reduce radicalization and mobilization abroad. It will also work with the recently established Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications to find ways to counter violent extremist narratives, and develop alternatives for populations that are vulnerable to those messages.The bureau also will “partner with governments and civil society in building capacity to counter violent extremism,” Benjamin said.The upgrade comes at a time of increasing bellicosity and tension from Iran, and questions about how strong a partner Pakistan can be in the wake of a series of incidents that have led to a souring of U.S.-Pakistani relations. While the timing was not lost on Benjamin, he maintained the “glass is 98 percent full” in terms of international cooperation on counterterrorism, and that such cooperation is “one of the great unsung successes of the last decade.”And as the United States continues on a timeline that seeks to end military operations in Afghanistan by 2014, the new bureau will play a bigger role in that nation.”We all know that there is no way to shoot our way out of this problem conclusively and forever,” Benjamin said. “That’s why we are strengthening our engagement with others to support their civilian institutions so that they can actually hold that territory, police that territory,” and put on trial people who seek to carry out attacks there, he said.In a nod to the era of tight budgets and austerity, the State Department said the establishment of the new bureau will be paid for with existing funds and appropriations.

Copyright CNN 2011

Turkey’s ex-army chief arrested on terror charges

Turkey’s ex-army chief arrested on terror charges

Hurriyet.com.tr

A civilian court has arrested a former chief of staff for the first time in Turkey’s history as suspect Gen İlker Başbuğ rejects accusations that he sought to overthrow the government through propaganda. President Abdullah Gül calls for an even-tempered contemplation of the matter, noting that ‘everyone is equal in front of the law’

Gen İlker Başbuğ leaves a courthouse after an order for his arrest. AA photoGen İlker Başbuğ leaves a courthouse after an order for his arrest. AA photo

Former Chief of General Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ was arrested late last night on charges of heading a terrorist organization and attempting to overthrow the government.

Başbuğ had arrived yesterday at an Istanbul prosecutor’s office to testify in an ongoing case into an alleged propaganda campaign against the current government by the Turkish Armed Forces.

After seven hours of questioning, prosecutor Cihan Kansız directed Başbuğ to a court requesting his arrest on charges of “heading a terrorist organization,” and “attempting to overthrow the government through use of force.”

Former chief of staff arrested on terror charges

The court ordered Başbuğ’s arrest at around half past midnight and sent him to Silivri prison. It is the first time in Turkey’s history that a former chief of staff has been arrested by a civilian court of law.

President Abdullah Gül commented on Başbuğ’s arrest today, saying, “Everyone is equal in front of the law; the matter should be contemplated with an even-temper.”

‘Judgment rests with the Turkish people’

Başbuğ made a statement after the court ordered his arrest, saying, “The 26th chief of the General Staff of the Turkish Republic has been arrested on charges of forming and leading a terrorist organization. The judgment rests with the Turkish people.”

Başbuğ denied all accusations in his defense and said it was “tragicomic” that the chief of one of the world’s most powerful armies had been accused of leading a terrorist organization.

‘Heaviest punishment’

The leveling of such a claim was already the heaviest punishment that he could have received, Başbuğ said, adding that any subsequent penalty would not hurt as much as the initial accusation.

“I was not asked a serious question during my time with the prosecutor. I do not know how they reached this conclusion [that I headed a terrorist organization],” he said.

Başbuğ said he had always carried out his duty as mandated by the laws and the Constitution. He said it was painful for him to be accused of attempting to overthrow the government by forming several websites and making several press statements. “If I had such malicious intentions, I could have found other ways of achieving them given that I commanded a force of 700,000 people.”

Decision political, CHP head says

Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu commented on the arrest, saying the decision was made by political authorities and then confirmed by the court.

Kılıçdaroğlu also said he had “no faith that specially authorized courts” would achieve justice.

Pakistan to back Russia’s move for Libya probe

Pakistan to back Russia’s move for Libya probe

Pakistan’s permanent envoy to UN, Abdullah Hussain Haroon.—File Photo by APP

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan is backing a Russian push for an investigation into civilian casualties in Libya during Nato’s bombing campaign to help the Libyan dissidents overthrow Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime from power, diplomatic sources told APP.

During closed-door Security Council consultations on Libya on Wednesday, Pakistan’s Ambassador to the UN Abdullah Hussain Haroon said his delegation would support such a Council-mandated probe, the sources said.

The US and France are resisting any investigation into Nato’s human rights abuses in Libya.

US Ambassador Susan Rice dismissed Russia’s demand for an investigation as a ‘cheap stunt’ to distract attention away from the Syrian government’s crackdown on protesters.

Earlier, Russia’s Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin said at his last month’s year-end press conference that an investigation was the only way to support Nato claims that it was not responsible for civilian deaths in Libya that occurred during a bombing campaign ostensibly designed under the aegis of the United Nations to protect civilians.

On Wednesday, the coming president of the Security Council also called for such an investigation. Ambassador Baso Sangqu of South Africa, who holds the rotating Security Council presidency for January, said he believed Nato overstepped its mandate in Libya enforcing a no-fly zone, and killing an untold number of civilians.

“We were alive to the fact that the implementation of the resolution itself would have its own problems, but we now hear strong voices that talk about many mistakes that were made. They were supposed to be precision strikes, but it was clear that those were not that precise.”

Uzbekistan: Eyewitness Observation of Rail Blast Site Discounts Terrorism Claim