Justice Department Won’t Reopen Probe of 1970 Kent State shootings, Despite New Evidence

Justice Department won’t reopen probe of 1970 Kent State shootings

(click on image for full-size view)

Plain Dealer historical photo collection

John Darnell took this photo at the moment that Ohio National Guardsmen began firing at Kent State University students during an anti-war protest on May 4, 1970.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The U.S. Justice Department has declined to reopen its investigation of the 1970 Kent State shootings by Ohio National Guardsmen, citing legal obstacles to further prosecutions and doubts about new evidence reported by The Plain Dealer in 2010.

“There are insurmountable legal and evidentiary barriers to bringing a second federal case in this matter,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas Perez wrote in a letter made public Monday announcing the agency’s decision. (Read the full text of the letter in the document viewer below)

An audio tape of the shootings that the newspaper reported may contain provocative sounds, pistol shots and an order for the Guard to fire is inconclusive, Perez said, citing an FBI analysis of the tape.

Alan Canfora, one of the wounded Kent State students and who, as director of the Kent May 4 Center has pushed for a full accounting of the tragedy, said he was disappointed but not surprised by the Justice Department’s decision. Canfora and U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland had requested the review after The Plain Dealer’s reports were published.

“It’s absurd for anyone to expect the Justice Department to thoroughly investigate itself, including its FBI division,” Canfora said. “I don’t think they’re fair, I don’t think they’re objective, and the only way they can alleviate this controversy about their own failed investigation is to go to some outside, independent experts.”

Stuart Allen, one of the forensic audio experts who two years ago examined the audio tape of the shooting at The Plain Dealer’s request, said he was baffled by the FBI’s conclusion that the recording is unintelligible. He said the FBI determination that what he interpreted as pistol shots were actually slamming doors was “beyond ludicrous.”

The FBI referred questions to the Justice Department, which had not responded to a request for comment as of Monday night.

This excerpt from a copy of Terry Strubbe’s Kent State recording contains the order for the Guard to prepare to fire. The word “Guard!” can be heard at 9.3 seconds. “All right, prepare to fire” begins at 19.5 seconds. “Get down!” is spoken at 22.3 seconds. The final “Guard!” is at 23.7 seconds, and the gunshots begin at 26 seconds.

The government’s refusal quashes one of the few remaining opportunities to resolve the shootings, which gripped the nation 42 years ago.

The killing of four unarmed Kent State University students and wounding of nine others by Ohio National Guardsmen during a protest of the Vietnam War on May 4, 1970 was a pivotal, divisive event in 20th Century American history. What prompted the Guardsmen to fire has remained a mystery for four decades.

Ohio Gov. James Rhodes had sent the Guard to Kent State to quell disturbances on campus. Shortly after noon on May 4, as a raucous anti-war protest appeared to be winding down, a group of Guardsmen marched up Blanket Hill toward a staging area. At the crest of the hill, several dozen of the soldiers wheeled and fired rifles, shotguns and sidearms 67 times during a 13-second barrage.

Though some Guardsmen reported they had heard an order to fire, officers on the scene denied giving such a command. Speculation also focused on some action or sound that may have triggered the soldiers to defensively shoot, but the presidential commission that investigated the Kent State affair determined the Guard faced no danger that warranted lethal force.

Altercation and pistol fire

Warning: Contains offensive language

4.5 seconds: Sounds of crowd yelling, cheering.
37.2 seconds: “Retreat!”
41.5 seconds: Male voice: “They got somebody.” Victory bell begins ringing.
51 seconds: Crowd roars.
59.1 seconds: Male voice: “Kill him!”
59.8 seconds: Male voice: “Kill him!”
1:08.3 seconds: Sounds of struggle.
1:01.7 seconds: First pistol shot.
1:10.2 seconds: Female voice: “Whack that (expletive)!” or “Hit that (expletive)!”
1:15.2 seconds: Second pistol shot.
1:21.7 seconds: Third pistol shot.
1:25.5 seconds: Fourth pistol shot.

Federal prosecutors charged eight low-ranking Guardsmen in connection with the shootings, but a federal judge dismissed the case in 1974. A subsequent civil lawsuit by the victims and families against the Guardsmen and other parties ended in 1979 with a $675,000 settlement and a “statement of regret” for what happened.

One piece of evidence that the government reviewed during its prosecution of the Guardsmen was a reel-to-reel audio tape recorded by a Kent State student, Terry Strubbe. from his dorm room window near Blanket Hill.

The tape captured the sounds of the protest prior to the shootings, the fusillade of gunfire, and its aftermath. A government-commissioned analysis(pdf) of the tape by an acoustics firm in 1974 focused on the pattern of Guard gunshots. The analysis did not note any unusual sounds or additional firing. The FBI’s Cleveland office apparently destroyed the original Strubbe tape in 1979, according to the Justice Department.

Canfora located a cassette copy of the long-forgotten Strubbe tape in a Yale University archive several years ago and urged reporters to examine its contents.

In 2010, as the 40th anniversary of the shootings approached, Canfora provided a copy of the Yale cassette to The Plain Dealer. The newspaper commissioned its analysis of the Strubbe recording, hoping that advances in audio technology might reveal more about its contents.

The initial examination was done by Allen and Tom Owen, two nationally recognized forensic audio experts.

STUART-OWEN-ALLEN-KENT-STATE-TAPE.JPG
Plain Dealer fileStuart Allen, left, and Tom Owen analyze what they’re hearing on an audiotape of the Kent State shootings at Allen’s lab in Plainfield, N.J. Allen and Owen are forensic audio analysts who have examined the audio tape of the shootings.

Using software to filter noise and enhance sounds on the Strubbe recording, Allen and Owen determinedthere was a male voice readying the soldiers to fire seconds before the shooting began. “Guard! . . . All right, prepare to fire!” the analysts reported hearing, followed by another voice yelling “Get down!” The first voice then says, “Guard, fi–,” with the final word drowned out by gunshots.

In October 2010, after Allen conducted dozens of hours of additional analysis, he reported discovering the sounds of a violent altercation, with shouts of “Kill him!” and four .38-caliber revolver shots about 70 seconds before the Guard gunfire begins.

Some Guardsmen claimed they had fired in reaction to gunshots, possibly from a sniper, but said their response was much quicker than the 70-second interval captured on the recording.

Some details of the altercation Allen identified on the recording seem similar to an incident involvingTerry Norman, a Kent State law enforcement student who was carrying a concealed .38-caliber pistol during the May 4 protest. Norman was photographing demonstrators for the Kent State University police and the FBI. He claimed he was assaulted by angry crowd members and said he drew his gun to warn them away. But he denied shooting and said the attack happened after the Guard gunfire, not before.

Several witnesses said they heard a Kent State policeman who inspected Norman’s gun exclaim that it had been fired four times. The officer later denied making the remark. An FBI lab test determined Norman’s pistol had been fired since its last cleaning, but could not pinpoint when. A federal grand jury questioned Norman in 1973, but he was not charged.

Perez based the Justice Department’s decision not to reinvestigate the case primarily on legal constraints. Because of the eight Guardsmen’s 1974 acquittal, the Constitution’s “double jeopardy” clause prohibits the government from re-trying the surviving soldiers, Perez said, even if new evidence arises.

If further investigation revealed that state or federal officials orchestrated the Kent State shootings, or tried to cover up wrongdoing, the Justice Department still couldn’t do anything, Perez said. That’s because the deadline for filing a civil rights case has passed.

Although the government lacked a legal foundation to re-open the case, Perez said the Justice Department still decided to review the Strubbe recording. The agency asked the FBI’s forensic audio, video and image analysis unit in Quantico, Va., to determine if there was evidence of a firing order or four pistol shots, as The Plain Dealer review had shown.

Alan Canfora by Mark Duncan AP 2007.JPG
Mark Duncan, AP fileAlan Canfora shows a copy of the Strubbe tape during a 2007 news conference.

The FBI obtained and analyzed a digital copy of the Yale version, as The Plain Dealer had done.

The FBI’s analysts didn’t contact Allen or the newspaper to request a copy of his enhanced tape, or to ask about his methods. Owen is out of the country and unavailable to address whether the FBI contacted him.

A team of eight audio examiners and technicians used software to try to enhance voices and sounds in critical sections of the tape.

Overall, the FBI examiners found the tape segment containing the purported firing command to be unintelligible, according to Perez’s letter. Their impression, although admittedly uncertain, was that there were no commands, and that the shouts the newspaper’s analysts interpreted as an order to prepare to shoot probably came from several people located closer to the tape recorder’s microphone than where the soldiers stood.

As for the four suspected pistol shots prior to the Guard gunfire, the FBI examiners suspect – but again say they are not certain – they are door slams, as people entered and left Strubbe’s dorm room. The FBI examiners said they heard seven similar thuds over a period of two and a half minutes after the Guard gunfire ended.

Perez’s letter notes that a search of the Kent State grounds after the shootings “revealed no ammunition casings that were not attributed to the weapons used by the Guardsmen.”

zz5.JPG
Alan Canfora, Special to The Plain DealerThis photo shows two spent .38-caliber casings recovered from the Kent State shooting site and now in Yale University’s archive.

However, a photo in the Yale archives indicates the government was in possession of at least two .38-caliber casings recovered from the shooting site. The government determined that the soldiers fired only rifles, .45-caliber pistols, shotguns and grenade launchers.

Allen said he has worked with the FBI before and would have shared his methodology and findings with them, had they asked. “We did everything by the FBI’s own guidelines,” he said. “If they were serious in their investigation, they should have contacted us.”

Allen said he compared the four banging sounds on the tape to a database of gunshots recorded from various weapons to determine they were from a .38. The sonic signature of a gunshot is distinctly different than that of a slamming door, he said – “not even close.”

On the tape, “we did hear doors opening and closing, but not at time of the pistol shots,” Allen said. The analyst said he stands by his findings and would testify they are accurate to a “very high degree of scientific certainty.”

Canfora said six of the seven surviving shooting victims, along with attorneys, will meet in Kent at next month’s May 4 commemoration to discuss and reveal what actions they will take next. Canfora has repeatedly said the survivors don’t seek prosecution or punishment of the remaining Guardsmen, but want an apology and an admission of responsibility.

“We’re considering all of our options,” he said, including the possibility of civil lawsuits. “We never expected our efforts with the U.S. Justice Department to be our only avenue in the search for justice. I’m convinced that with further independent analysis of the digital forensic evidence, we’ll conclusively soon prove that the Kent State massacre was an intentional slaughter of innocent, unarmed students. I think at some point even the government will have to admit that truth.”

Death Squads and Counter-Death Squads In Syria

[It is no coincidence that one day after Obama signed an Executive Order targeting both the sellers and the users of technological means to target the US-supported activists who are using social media to organize revolution in Syria (SEE:  Obama Targeting Individuals Who Supply Anti-Facebook Busting Technology to Iran and Syria) Syrian intelligence officials are themselves being targeted.  Reports such as the one below confirm for the rest of the world that American covert counter-assassins (CIA- funded death squads) are busy at their bloody work.]

Syrian Rebels Target Security Officials in Capital

 By BEN HUBBARD Associated Press
BEIRUT  (AP)

Rebels seeking to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad killed three regime officers in separate attacks Tuesday around Damascus, activists and state media said, the latest violence targeting the security forces used by the government to quash dissent.

A bomb hidden in an army truck also exploded in the capital, wounding several people.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an intelligence officer was shot dead in the northeastern Barzeh neighborhood of the capital Damascus. Also Tuesday, the state news service said “terrorists” shot to death a retired lieutenant colonel and his brother, a chief warrant officer, in an area southwest of the capital.

Inside the city, explosives planted in an army truck blew up as the vehicle traveled through downtown, leaving a hole in its roof and blood and shattered glass on the road. The truck’s driver and two passengers in a nearby car were injured and taken to a hospital.

The state news service said an “armed terrorist group” planted explosives under the driver’s side.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The 11-person U.N. team is in Syria to observe the cease-fire and prepare for a total of 300 monitors to arrive later.

Tuesday’s attacks underlined the increasing militarization of the conflict, which began in March 2011 as peaceful protests calling for political reforms with inspiration from successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. The government cracked down with massive force, deploying troops, snipers and pro-government thugs against the opposition, while regime opponents armed themselves for protection and joined forces with army defectors.

The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an intelligence officer was shot dead in the northeastern Barzeh neighborhood of the capital Damascus. Also Tuesday, the state news service said “terrorists” shot to death a retired lieutenant colonel and his brother, a chief warrant officer, in an area southwest of the capital.

Inside the city, explosives planted in an army truck blew up as the vehicle traveled through downtown, leaving a hole in its roof and blood and shattered glass on the road. The truck’s driver and two passengers in a nearby car were injured and taken to a hospital.

The state news service said an “armed terrorist group” planted explosives under the driver’s side.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The 11-person U.N. team is in Syria to observe the cease-fire and prepare for a total of 300 monitors to arrive later.

Tuesday’s attacks underlined the increasing militarization of the conflict, which began in March 2011 as peaceful protests calling for political reforms with inspiration from successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. The government cracked down with massive force, deploying troops, snipers and pro-government thugs against the opposition, while regime opponents armed themselves for protection and joined forces with army defectors.

The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began.

Associated Press writer Albert Aji contributed reporting from Damascus, Syria.

Russian/US Airborne Commandos To Hold New World Order Anti-Terror Drills At Ft. Carson, Colorado Springs

[We are finally seeing all those warnings about UN, or Russian forces operating on US soil coming true (SEE:  Moscow Pushes for CSTO-NATO Unity of Mission, Separate Spheres of Influence).  The need to hide their real intentions is evidently passing, judging from such blatant joint military efforts such as these.  They are preparing to defend the NWO from American patriots.  We are so screwed.]

Russia, U.S. to Hold Anti-terror Drills in May

Xinhua

CRIENGLISH.com

Web Editor: Jiang
Airborne troops from Russia and the Untied States would hold joint anti-terror drills in the U.S. state of Colorado between May 24 and 31, spokesman of the Russian Defense Ministry Col. Alexander Kucherenko said on Thursday.

According to the spokesman, it will be the first time that the Russian airborne forces have held exercises with the U.S. airborne forces on the U.S. territory.

“According to the exercise scenario, soldiers of the two countries will hold a tactical airborne operation, including the reconnaissance of imaginary terrorists’ camp and a raid,” Kucherenko said.

“After the operation, a helicopter will evacuate the soldiers,” Kucherenko said, adding that the Russian soldiers will also exercise with the U.S. special service weapons in the drills in Fort Carson, Colorado.

Besides, the spokesman said, the Russian group will arrive a week ahead of the drills and attend a baseball game in the city of Colorado Springs.

 

NGO crackdown: Gagging democracy or national self-defense?

Protesters burn a mock U.S. flag, condemning the decision of the Ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to release American activists who were involved in what is known as the NGO foreign fund case, in front of the U.S embassy in Cairo March 9, 2012.

Protesters burn a mock U.S. flag, condemning the decision of the Ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) to release American activists who were involved in what is known as the NGO foreign fund case, in front of the U.S embassy in Cairo March 9, 2012 (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

NGO crackdown: Gagging democracy or national self-defense?

RT

Egypt has denied licenses to eight US-based non-profit groups, saying they violated the country’s sovereignty. Many states are concerned that foreign government-backed NGOs are really agents for their sponsors, rather than independent action groups.

Among the organizations banned from continuing their work in Egypt are the Carter Center for Human Rights, set up by former US President Jimmy Carter, Christian group The Coptic Orphans, Seeds of Peace and other groups.

Egyptian authorities warned that if the NGOs try to work without a license, Cairo would “take relevant measures”.

Local media speculate that the rejection may be temporary, and licenses could be granted later, after the presidential election due on May 23 and 24.

Monday’s move revives a crackdown by the Egyptian authorities on foreign-funded NGOs, which recently provoked a serious diplomatic row with long-term ally US. In late December 2011, security forces raided offices of a number of groups suspected of receiving money in violation of Egyptian legislation.

In February, prosecutors charged 43 people with instilling dissent and meddling in domestic policies following last year’s mass protests, which resulted in the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak. Among them were citizens of the US, Germany, Serbia, Norway and Jordan.

In March, an Egyptian court revoked the travel ban for 17 indicted Americans following Washington’s threat to withdraw $1.3 billion annual military aid to Cairo. The decision provoked a wave criticism of the ruling military council in Egypt. Many activists accused them of betraying national interests under American pressure.

But shortly after the suspected Americans left the country, Cairo’s prosecutors decided to target more people allegedly involved in the case, who were not in Egypt when the charges against their colleagues were made. Egypt asked Interpol to issue “red notices” for 15 NGO workers, including 12 Americans, two Lebanese and a Jordanian.

On Monday, Interpol’s French headquarters announced that the Egyptian request had been turned down, because it contradicted rules that strictly forbid the organization “to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”

Not so non-government

There may be a good reason why national governments in troubled countries mistrust US-funded NGOs. For instance, NATO’s intervention in Libya was partially justified by exaggerated reports of human rights organizations alleging that Muammar Gaddafi’s forces committed crimes against humanity and breached international law in other ways, reports RT’s Maria Portnaya. After the war some of them admitted to giving ungrounded reports.

Powerful NGOs like Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International are supposed to be objective monitors and not take sides, but in reality they “enter into an excessively cozy relationship with for example the United States government, but also other powerful Western allies, over Libya and over other issues,” John Laughland from the Institute of Democracy and Cooperation told RT.

This is what happened in Libya and is now happening in Syria, he added.

“The equivalent, if you like, of the Libyan League of Human Rights, which is called the Damascus Centre for Human Rights, has played exactly the same role. They’ve alleged crimes against humanity. They’ve called for safe havens, and armed intervention in that country. And they are quite clear political lobbyists, who are trying to secure a military intervention against Syria along the lines of the one approved last year against Libya,”
 Laughland explained.

Another example is the group behind the Kony 2012 initiative. The California-based NGO Invisible Children is calling to stop the use of child soldiers and is promoting peace in the Ugandan civil war. But the same organization provided Uganda’s authorities with intelligence that led to the arrest of several regime opponents, as a US embassy cable published by WikiLeaks revealed.

“I’m willing to believe that was not the one time that Invisible Children provided information to the Ugandan authorities. What else do we not know, in terms of their relations with the Ugandan Government?” asks Milton Allimadi, Editor-in-chief of the Black Star News.

The viral video calling on a campaign to stop Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army appeared just months after President Obama decided to send 100 US military advisors to the region to help local governments remove Kony “from the battlefield”. Some human rights organizations criticized the move, saying among those receiving American aid is South Sudan’s People’s Liberation Army, which is known to exploit child soldiers just like Kony does.

NGOs are not currently held accountable for the information they publish, no matter how much collateral damage false facts may cause. Critics say some of those organizations actually pave the way for conflict rather than advocating peaceful solutions.

Afghan Stability Undermined by Pakistan, General Says

Afghan Stability Undermined by Pakistan Army, U.S. General Says

AFP via Getty Images

An Afghan policeman stands guard as a pile of narcotics is destroyed by officials in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province.

By Viola Gienger
BLOOMBERG

Hard-won stability in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province is undermined by the Pakistan Army’s failure to help stem the flow of arms coming into the area and drugs going out, a U.S. general said.

“Everything is good, but it’s not irreversible,” Marine Corps Major General John Toolan said in an interview in Washington yesterday after appearing before the Atlantic Council, a policy research group. He ended a one-year tour last month as the commander in charge of the NATO coalition’s southwestern regional command responsible for Helmand.

An Afghan policeman stands guard as a pile of narcotics is destroyed by officials in Lashkar Gah, capital of Helmand province. Source: AFP via Getty Images

Toolan’s prognosis highlights the risks as the U.S.-led coalition turns its attention to eastern Afghanistan and prepares to withdraw more forces this year. President Barack Obamaplans to cut U.S. troops by 23,000 more this year in preparation for handing control to Afghan authorities by the end of 2014.

With reductions planned by other countries in the 50-nation coalition, about 108,000 personnel will be left until a next round of cuts. The number of U.S. Marines in Helmand is due to drop to 7,000 by October from about 20,000 now, Toolan said in the interview.

“We need to maintain the pressure,” Toolan told the Atlantic Council audience. “The insurgency in the south is the greatest threat to the government of Afghanistan.”

Haqqani Network

The guerrillas known as the Haqqani network, who mainly operate in the country’s east from havens across the Pakistani border, have received attention beyond their potential longer- term impact on Afghanistan, Toolan said. The Haqqanis mainly operate to maintain themselves rather than to achieve any grander designs, he said.

“As the insurgency goes, the Haqqani network goes,” Toolan said. “If you can keep a lid on the insurgency, the Haqqani network is not going to be as all-powerful as some people talk it up to be.”

In Helmand, the need to place forces at the border detracts from efforts elsewhere in the province to compensate for a weak central Afghan government and drug-fueled corruption, Toolan said.

“I know for a fact that drugs are moving out through Pakistan and lethal aid is coming in on a regular basis,” Toolan told the Atlantic Council. “I have had no support from 12th Corps,” the Pakistan Army unit in charge of the area across the border, he said.

He said he tried to organize meetings with the corps to discuss the issue. “There always seemed to be something that interfered,” he said.

Pakistan’s Response

A spokesman for Pakistan’s embassy in Washington, Nadeem Hotiana, said coordination on common threats has occurred in regular three-way talks among border officials from his country, Afghanistan and the coalition led by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

“There are certain trilateral meetings where such issues can be discussed,” Hotiana said yesterday in an interview, declining to comment further.

Pakistan sees it in its own interest to cooperate on narcotics trafficking and the cross-border arms trade because they threaten everyone involved, said another Pakistani official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he isn’t authorized to comment publicly. Pakistan’s military makes sincere efforts within its limitations, the official said.

The U.S. and Pakistan have struggled to rebuild relations, dashed every few months by a confrontation. In January 2011, a CIA employee shot dead two Pakistani men in Lahore. U.S. special operations forces killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in May during a raid conducted without notice to Pakistan in its army garrison town of Abbottabad. In November, helicopters of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan inadvertently killed 26 Pakistani troops at the border.

Poppy Cultivation

In Helmand Province, corrupt Afghan officials and security forces and the continuing financial temptations of poppy cultivation also endanger efforts by the coalition and legitimate local authorities to win over the population from the Taliban, Toolan said.

“If the central government of Afghanistan doesn’t stay strong, then there are individuals in the central government who can significantly hurt the progress that’s been made,” the general said.

The answer may be to more aggressively apply provisions of Afghanistan’s constitution that delegate authority to local officials, he said.

The Afghan army and police will continue to need robust backing from international forces through 2014, Toolan said. That includes intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance technology to supplement their human intelligence sources, as well as training in military medicine and even firing accuracy, he said.

The U.S. is deploying surveillance balloons with full- motion video to buttress the Afghan forces as the coalition draws back to an advising role, Toolan said. The police also need more training by experts in the field rather than the “dabbling” that coalition military forces are able to provide, he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Viola Gienger in Washington at vgienger@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

India Defying US Sanctions On Iran

Exclusive: Indian shipping firms to carry Iran crude despite reduced insurance

A general view of an oil dock is seen from a ship at the port of Kalantari in the city of Chabahar, 300km (186 miles) east of the Strait of Hormuz January 17, 2012. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

By Nidhi Verma and Randy Fabi

NEW DELHI/SINGAPORE | Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:56am EDT

(Reuters) – Indian shipping firms will continue to transport Iranian crude even if limited insurance coverage due to tightening Western sanctions leaves them financially exposed to a spill or accident, a top executive and industry sources said.

Tough new European Union sanctions aimed at stopping Iran’s oil exports to Europe also ban EU insurers and reinsurers from covering tankers carrying Iranian crude anywhere in the world from July. Around 90 percent of the world’s tanker insurance is based in the West, so the measures threaten shipments to Iran’s top Asian buyers China, India, Japan and South Korea.

The sanctions seek to stem the flow of petrodollars to Tehran to force the OPEC member to halt a nuclear program the West suspects is intended to produce weapons.

Shipping Corp of India, which is the country’s largest shipping firm, Great Eastern and other Indian tanker firms have asked state insurers to step in and provide up to $50 million in third-party liability coverage per tanker voyage.

The amount is a fraction of the typical $1 billion coverage that a supertanker carrying around 2 million barrels of crude would have from reinsurers against personal injury and pollution claims.

India’s shipping companies would run the risk of shipping the crude even though they would be liable for any claims above $50 million in the case of an incident, industry sources said.

“To the best of our knowledge, over the last 10 years, none of the Indian shipping companies carrying Iranian crude oil into India has had any major incident relating to pollution or anything,” Shipping Corp Chairman S. Hajara told Reuters on the sidelines of an industry conference in Singapore.

“Since there have been no claims in 10 years, we felt if we have cover of $50 million as a commercial organization it would be worthwhile for us to continue in that business.”

India is the world’s fourth-largest oil importer and one of the biggest customers for Iran’s 2.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of oil exports. On average, there are 10 crude shipments a month from Iranto refineries on the west coast of India.

A major oil spill from one of these tankers could leave Indian shipowners liable for billions of dollars in damages.

The most expensive oil spill was the Exxon Valdez disaster in Alaska in 1989, which industry groups estimate has cost as much as $7 billion so far in clean-up, fines, penalties and claims.

“Exxon Valdez happens once in decades. If you think all your risk must be covered, then you should not be in business,” Hajara said, adding that liability limits for an oil spill have extended beyond $1 billion and $3 billion for other incidents.

“We have been very clear that Indian insurance companies will have a tough task, if not impossible, to get reinsurance if the sanctions really set in. We know if we ask for a huge amount of cover we will never get it.”

The biggest reinsurers are located in Europe and according to some industry experts the only way to cope with the loss of European reinsurers would be for governments of importing countries to provide federal guarantees to cover any expenses relating to personal and pollution claims.

Shipowners have asked the government for sovereign guarantees, but have not received a response, Hajara said. Indian firms, along with Japan and South Korea, have also lobbied European officials for exemptions to the EU sanctions.

India’s refiners are already cutting imports to comply with a separate set of U.S. sanctions requiring Iran’s crude clients to significantly cut purchases. Refiners could cut imports by about a quarter in the 2012-2013 year that began on April 1, but are keen to keep the remaining imports coming.

In the fiscal year that ended on March 31, India’s imports from Iran were less than 340,000 bpd, compared with the 362,000 bpd committed under annual term contracts. India is currently importing about 280,000 bpd.

A finance ministry source said the Indian government would consider any action necessary to keep oil flowing from Iran, India’s second-biggest supplier after Saudi Arabia, including offering sovereign guarantees to shipments.

The shipping firms have sent their request to state insurers United India Insurance, General Insurance Company, New India Assurance Co. Ltd., National Insurance Co. Ltd. and the Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd., said a shipping source. The shipping and finance ministries were also looking at the proposal.

A final decision is expected “very soon,” Hajara said.

Japanese insurers have also warned ship owners they will only cover one tanker at a time carrying Iranian crude through the Middle East because their ability to provide cover is limited without the European reinsurance market.

That will reduce the number of tankers carrying Iranian oil to three or four a month as each ship takes about a week to 10 days to travel in and out of the Gulf, sources said, compared with about 10 ships a month last year.

Japan has cut its April crude loadings from Iran by nearly 80 percent compared to the first two months of the year.

(Additional reporting by Clare Baldwin in HONG KONG and Manoj Kumar in NEW DELHI; Editing by Jo Winterbottom, Simon Webb and Clarence Fernandez)

They took away God of butterflies and flowers–The Hijacking of Islam

They took away God of butterflies and flowers

-Photo Courtesy Ayesha Vellani/White Star

This is a story that we often tell each other at the Alif Laila Tavern in Virginia because it concerns all of us. It is about a great loss that few understand and fewer mourn.

Terrorism has hurt Muslims more than it has hurt any other community. It has caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Muslims across the word. But what’s worse is that it hijacked our faith and changed it into something even we cannot recognise now. It also took our God away from us.

===================

We were in our backyard — God and me — when they came. They took him away and changed him. He was a friendly God before. We roamed around together, holding hands. We collected colored feathers, glorious flowers and chased delicate butterflies.

And we could talk, spend hours in friendly chats. When they came we were having an important friend-talk. He was explaining why butterflies stain our hands and fireflies do not burn.

They were all big men. Some bearded, some not. Some had guns, some did not. Some carried swords and spears. Others hefted heavy sticks.

They came and shouted: “We cannot let God waste his time. We are here to save him from children and butterflies. He is too important for childish thoughts. He has more important things to do. Give him to us.”

They lifted God on their shoulders and marched from my garden, chanting slogans.

And they took him away. From me and my house. From my village and my city. From that day on, nobody has seen my God. Nobody knows where he is, where they took him.

He does not talk to children anymore. He does not talk to us at all. They bring all his orders to us and say: This is what God says. Do it. Those who do not are kicked, beaten, flogged and killed. All in the name of my God!

He has changed so much since they took him that I do not recognise him anymore. He is not the God I loved. He is their God. He no longer speaks the language of butterflies and fireflies. His orders are not that of a loving friend. He talks like earthbound rulers.

I still miss Him a lot. I want the God of butterflies and flowers.

I want to say to him, “O God how much I want you to come down from your heavenly abode and play with me. I want to be a little child again. I want to hold your hand and run with you. Deep into the jungle. And when the jungle scares me, I want to hide in your arms. I want you to stay there, wait for me. Don’t abandon me like others. You are more kind than a mother. And more caring than a father.

I want you to leave all your work aside for one day, just one day. Yes, I know it is important. I know it is you who brings clouds from the sea and makes them rain on the thirsty earth. So that we could smell the mist and the raindrops stir in the dry soil.

It is you who brings the monsoon, holding the reins of the sun, the moon, the stars and the planets in your hands. And change the seasons for your children.

It is you who prevents people from killing each other. You yearn for us to live under the loving care of our friends. It is you who feeds insects hiding under the stone. And give warmth to the poor sitting around the fire.

You also fetch a glass of water for the beggar woman. You fill our dreams with color and light and bring sleep to our burning eyes. You protect the travelers. And save us from our own madness.

Yes you have so many important things to do. But you have always done this and more. Only you know how old this universe is. And how unending your daily chores.

But you also know that my stay here is short. My age is not numbered in solar years. I want to hold your hand and walk in the cruel crowd, holding my head high. So that everybody could see you have dodged your bearded guards. And returned to children and butterflies.

I want to watch them and smile at them. And you, my provider, I don’t want much from you. Just buy me a plate of chickpeas, some oranges and some mangoes (they do not grow in the same season but you get them both for me!).

I also want you to fetch a glass of cold sherbet with crushed ice.

And let me put my head on your shoulders (don’t be upset with me, this is how your children behave). And sleep, a long, long sleep.

And when I do, you quietly close my eyes and take me to the journey that awaits us all. If you are with me, why should I be afraid of any journey?”

The author is a correspondent for Dawn, based in Washington, DC.

Obama Targeting Individuals Who Supply Anti-Facebook Busting Technology to Iran and Syria

Obama seeks to curb Iran, Syria dissident monitoring

Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks after touring the Port of Tampa in Florida, April 13, 2012. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

By Laura MacInnis

WASHINGTON

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama will announce sanctions on Monday on those helping Syria and Iran acquire technology that lets them target dissidents through their cell phone and Internet use.

Social media tools that allowed democracy campaigners to organize rallies across the Middle East and North Africa are being monitored by Tehran and Damascus to “facilitate serious human rights abuses,” an administration official said.

Obama was to unveil the executive order, which he signed on Sunday, in a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

The order freezes U.S. assets linked to people found to have aided satellite, computer and phone network monitoring in Syria, where more than 9,000 people have been killed in more than a year in turmoil, as well as Iran, where Washington believes authorities are clamping down on opposition groups.

The order cites the Syrian General Intelligence Directorate, the Syrian cell phone company Syriatel, Iran’s Ministry of Intelligence and Security, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s Law Enforcement Forces and the Iranian Internet provider Datak Telecom, as well as a number of individuals.

“The United States condemns the continuing campaigns of violence and human rights abuses against the people of Syria and Iran by their governments and provides a tool to hold accountable those who assist in or enable such abuses through the use of information and communications technology,” it read.

The sanctions coincide with reports from Iran on Monday that the country’s main oil export terminal had been hit by a suspected cyber attack affecting the Oil Ministry and national oil company.

The Washington Post reported that Obama would also offer grants to companies to develop alerting tools to make activists aware of dangers of crackdowns or mass killings.

The president’s response to the yearlong violence in Syria as well as Iran’s steps towards nuclear development has been sharply criticized by Republicans during this election year.

Obama, a Democrat, has been emphasizing the potential for a diplomatic resolution to the crises while trying to add pressure on both governments through financial and other sanctions. He was elected in 2008 in large part due to his promise to wind down U.S. military engagement overseas in Iraq and Afghanistan.=

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Empty Promises of Turkmen Gas for Europe and China’s Prescient Policies

Will Turkmenistan’s resources for the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innocent Adyasov

Trans-Caspian pipeline project yet, and apparently still long enough to be worn primarily propaganda. The main goal of “Trans-Caspian” – not to conclude the negotiations for the construction of the Russian “South Stream”.

When the actual freezing of the project NABUCCO again quite active (somewhere from mid 2011) began attempts to revive the already half-forgotten (for the first time the idea of such a pipeline was announced back in 1996) Trans-Caspian pipeline project. In March 2012 visit of President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to the Ukraine. In Kiev, to the unconcealed delight of the Ukrainian authorities Berdimuhamedov announced the idea of building a gas pipeline from Turkmenistan – Azerbaijan – Georgia (with a possible offshoot of the Ukraine) – Turkey – European Union (EU), to supply gas to Europe, bypassing Russia. Power of the planned pipeline must be up to 25 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year.

Visit to Kiev was preceded by a Turkmen president of the preparatory work for a long time: Ashkhabad and Baku together with EU experts has prepared a road-show to potential investors pipeline. In March 2012 representatives of business circles of the USA expressed their willingness to contribute to the potential the Turkmen authorities to diversify its natural gas exports to the world market and the implementation of projects on construction of new transnational pipelines that would bypass the “northern areas”, that is, bypassing Russian territory. This was discussed at the talks in Washington with members of the Turkmen delegation heads of several leading U.S. oil and gas companies, in particular, such as Chevron, Exon Mobil, Conocophillips.

Notably, before the diplomatic and economic activity of diplomacy between Washington and Brussels on the Turkmen direction was aimed at connecting Ashgabat to the project NABUCCO. However, experts immediately raised the question: Does Turkmenistan have enough resources to provide new gas mega-project? Data on real and proven natural gas reserves in Turkmenistan – perhaps the main and most guarded secret of Ashgabat.Turkmen authorities like to refer to the data of the second stage of a formal independent examination of the British company Gaffney, Cline & Associates. Examination showed that the gas reserves in the country is more than 71.21 trillion tons. Previously, they were estimated at 44.25 trillion. tonnes. Almost half of all gas reserves are concentrated in the South Iolotan field, which is the main resource base for the filling put into operation in 2009 Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Kazakhstan – China. Gaffney, Cline & Associates believes South Yolotan second largest gas field in the world, estimating fuel reserves at 26.2 trillion cubic meters. In reliance on this data and taking into account the fact that in 2030 Turkmenistan plans to increase annual oil production to 67 million tons and natural gas – up to 220 billion cubic meters a year, the question of diversification of export routes.However, the findings of the British firms were immediately called into question decided by independent experts.

In addition, it is unclear what investments will be needed for the development of potential gas fields.

Today, Turkmenistan exports its natural gas to Iran, Russia and China. According to data provided by the Government of Turkmenistan for the past 2011 exports of natural gas rose by 75.2 percent. In comparison with the same period in 2010 the growth of production of gas condensate and oil in the country amounted to 107.9 percent, the volume of production of “blue fuel” increased by 42.5 percent. Turkmenistan to Russia in 2011 exported about 10 billion cubic meters of natural gas (in the early to middle of the last decade, exports exceeded 50 billion cubic meters of gas). Such a sharp fall in exports of Turkmen gas to Russia is connected primarily with the increase Ashgabat prices for natural gas to the European average (excluding transit) and a reduction of purchases of natural gas by Ukraine – previously it was mainly supplied with “Gazprom” blue fuel due to re-gas from Turkmenistan . Iran is planning to buy in 2011 in Turkmenistan, about 14 billion cubic meters of gas (there is no exact data on the actual volume of gas exports to Iran in 2011).But the bulk of Turkmen gas exports to China fell.

According to official data, in the Celestial Empire was delivered 17 billion cubic meters of gas exports in 2012 should amount to more than 30 billion cubic meters by 2015 by increasing the capacity of gas pipelines to reach 65 billion cubic meters.

Despite all the assurances of official Ashgabat on putting new deposits, experts believe that exports to China is provided by the volumes of natural gas that was previously on the northern route to Russia. But the question arises about the financial performance of the Turkmen gas exports to China. According to experts, China is paying per thousand cubic meters of gas Ashgabat only 170-180 dollars, a large part of the payments made Chinese goods. As a result, Turkmenistan delivers its gas to China at the lowest compared to other buyers price, and to compensate for financial losses from gas deliveries to Russia, China’s direction can not be. To refuse such a low price for gas supplied in the Celestial Kingdom will not be able Turkmenistan – mining (more accurately maintain production levels in the old), and construction of gas pipelines was carried out on Chinese loans.

Ashgabat, Baku, and the EU when the project starts “Transcaspian” counted on the participation of Kazakhstan in the pipeline. An official invitation from the European Union to participate in the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline Kazakhstan received October 4, 2011 during the VI Eurasian Kazenergy Forum in Astana, voiced by EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger . Almost immediately, the Minister of Oil and Gas of Kazakhstan Mynbayev said that his country does not provide the resources to fill the Trans-Caspian. It is worth noting that earlier thread was supposed to extend a pipeline from Kazakhstan’s Tengiz to the Turkmen Turkmenbashi.

As is the case with Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan’s main exports of natural gas (up to 15 billion cubic meters) will go to China.

Despite the obvious problems with the resource base, the EU continues to support all alternatives to Russian gas pipeline projects from Central Asia and Azerbaijan. Moreover, the project “Transcaspian” is proposed to consider only as part of the NABUCCO project in its broad interpretation. Invented a new, even a new definition – “Southern Corridor” – apparently, as opposed to the “Northern Corridor”, marching through the territory of Russia.”The position of the EU’s Southern Corridor project”” has not changed. We still would like to implement this project as quickly as possible, without delay, “- said the head of the EU Delegation in Azerbaijan Roland Kobia in mid-April.

Referring to negotiations on the legal basis of the implementation of the Trans-Caspian pipeline (as you know, Russia strongly opposed the construction of any pipeline in the Caspian Sea to the determination of his status), Kobia said that negotiations are continuing. “A few weeks ago was the last round, which has been progress. The next round will take place in the next few weeks in Brussels, or perhaps in Vienna. We welcome the participation in the negotiations the two parties – Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan, “- said the diplomat. “We heard about the positive statements of SOCAR, indicate that the construction of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline – a bilateral issue between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, and it will not create any legal or environmental issues. We believe that this project – the case of the two countries, and no one should interfere in this process.Already there are thousands of kilometers of pipeline in the Caspian Sea, and we do not think that this project will greatly affect the ecology of the Caspian Sea, “- said the representative of the EU. According to Kobia, the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline project is part of the NABUCCO and logically included in the definition of “Southern Corridor”.

All of the above facts suggest that the Trans-Caspian pipeline project so far and, apparently, still long enough to be worn primarily propaganda. The main goal of “Trans-Caspian” – not to conclude the negotiations for the construction of the Russian “South Stream”, which should enter the final stage in the summer and autumn of 2012. In the case of the successful launch of the project “South Stream” project on the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline will be possible to put a cross.

Source :: news agency REGNUM

Either Pakistan Moves Against Fake US Terrorism or It Perishes

Rizwan Ghani
The Afghan attacks and prison break in Pakistan is smoke and mirrors. The timing says it all. NATO’s leadership has used it to tell Pakistan to do more. It is being used by the West to justify continuation of Afghan occupation, blame Pakistan for attacks in Afghanistan, set a stage to scapegoat Pakistan for more attacks in Afghanistan, keep NATO troops in the region against the wishes of their pubic, and harness support for the May Chicago Summit. In Pakistan, the government has used it to fast-track resetting of Pak-US relation in the name of the Parliament to maintain dictators pro-west policies. Ironically, Musharraf’s security team hasn’t been changed despite his removal. Afghan attacks have been used to pass EU-US anti-terror data sharing deal allowing transfer of EU personal air passenger data to US. The US Supreme Court also gave legal cover to government contractors for violating constitutional rights of public. The Obama administration supported the case in court. The immunity has no basis in the US Constitution, Bill of Rights (4th Amendment), or the 1871 Civil Rights Act. It will increase victimization of minorities in the US, UK and Europe. The ruling will protect private US contractors operating in Pakistan.

Pakistan should not allow the situation to influence its foreign policy. Keeping in view the history of coordinated attacks in the West, Islamabad should reject international blackmailing based on fake terrorism. On the evening of June 2, 1919, eight bombs exploded in eight different U.S. cities nearly simultaneously. Allegedly it was an inside job to control Communism. Noam Chomsky (BBC interview) said that four US administrations used COINTELPRO (counter intelligence surveillance) program to suppress political dissent (communism), protect capitalism, squash women freedom movements, black movement, and human rights. Its actions went as far as political assassination and it was extremely broad. It is said that when seeking truth look at who benefits. NATO leadership is using the incidents to dictate to Pakistan. The tactics are not local since the incidents have strategic vested stakes. Pakistan therefore needs to resist pressure under Hillary’s call of ‘joint responsibility’ to open NATO supply routes, safe havens and participation in the Chicago summit.

Islamabad should reject the concept of neutral Afghanistan. It is implementation of US ME security doctrine in Asia. The US Afghan policy being dictated to Pakistan will destroy its social, economic and military interests in the region. Pakistan and US can only have equal and long term relations if Islamabad exercises independent foreign policy reflecting the aspirations of the public. The foreign minister of Pakistan should not visit US and Pakistan should put on hold its participation in Chicago Summit. NATO should keep using northern Afghan route to complete its withdrawal. Russia should play its role in ending Afghan occupation. It is only possible if US withdraws its military forces from Afghanistan and respect Pakistan’s rightful role to lead the region in rebuilding Afghanistan. Washington has to end its China centric Asia-pacific policy instead of protecting US interests in the region by sustaining fake terrorism in the region. Islamabad must stand up to the West to build strong Pak-Afghan relations to protect national and regional interests. Beijing and Moscow should also play their role in ending Afghan occupation, using SCO and UN to rebuild Afghanistan. BothWashington and Europe must withdraw all conditions including opening of NATO supplies and allegations of harboring terrorists to build long-term relations with Pakistan.

COINTELPRO is a blueprint of West’s war against Pakistan. There is a need to expose use of fake terror attacks against public, state institutions, media and natural disasters to gain strategic and political advantages. In 1974, a series of bombs exploded in three cities in UK. An inquiry in 1994 showed that it was an inside job (Dublin and Monaghan bombings). The Ripple Effect, a BBC documentary on London bombing, shows that it was an inside job. The UK government has refused to hold public inquiry. Brian Glick, in his book, War at Home, writes that the four main methods used in COINTELPRO were infiltration, psychological warfare, harassment and use of illegal force. Pakistan and its media is being targeted to sell West’s narrative on fake terrorism in the region. The methods also include blocking of judiciaries, selective use of civil law enforcement organizations, use of military courts (US), push for secret courts (UK) and witch hunt of whistleblowers (WikiLeaks) to protect western political, military and intelligence leaders against accountability for crimes against humanity and millions of deaths.

Islamabad should learn from West’s history to end perpetual attacks against Pakistan. Frustrated by Supreme Court’s decisions limiting the Justice Department’s ability to prosecute people for their political opinions, COINTELPRO was used against all those individuals, organizations and institutions that were considered anti-US. The techniques used by the program included creating a negative public image, breaking down of the organization, creating dissent, restricting access to public resources (cut off funding or material support), restricting the ability to organize protests by promoting violence at protests and or restricting the ability of individuals to participate in group activities. The political, economic and state institutions of Pakistan are facing similar challenges.

Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) or ‘Homeland Battle Field Bill’, allowing the indefinite detention of any American without due legal process (charge or trial) anywhere, at any time is a continuation of the COINTELPRO program in US and rest of the world. The lawyer of WikiLeaks founder was stopped from boarding a plane in UK for being on the watch list. A UK based lawyer of Pakistani drone victims was denied US visa to block filing of case against extra judicial killings in US courts. George Galloway, Lord Nazir and jailing of Fai over Kashmir lobbying in US are examples of victimization and harassment to protect British and American leaders from accountability. Reportedly, hundreds of unregistered US NGOs are working in China but Beijing has not put them behind bars. They have been asked to get registered or leave. If US can have Reward for Justice Program, why cannot other countries? The court case against Jack Straw by Libyan rendition and torture victims has exposed the West’s denial of crimes against humanity. The ICJ, the ICC, UN and global human rights organizations should play their role to bring all these criminals to book.

Finally, Afghan attacks and prison break should not be allowed to influence Pakistan’s foreign policy. Islamabad should expose the use of fake terrorism to end West’s blackmailing, protect national interests, end Afghan occupation and restore peace in the region. It is equally important to remove Musharraf era teams and politicians controlling key ministries to allow the transition to democracy. The foreign minister and all other politicians who have been part ot Musharraf team should also go to bring an end to continuation of dictators policies under NRO deal. Egypt has banned Mubarak’s team members from politics.

Teaching Intolerance To A New Generation of Radicalized Saudis

[SEE:  In the Land of Al-Qaeda It Is Dangerous To Ignore 4-Year Olds Making Demands]

Teaching Intolerance

You should see what even first graders have to read in Saudi Arabia.

BY EMAN AL NAFJAN

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — In the years just before the 9/11 attacks, I spent two semesters at a public school in Riyadh for my training as a teacher. I was stationed each day at the campus gates, instructed to inspect the girls’ abayas as they left school. For each student older than 12, I checked: Was she wearing the tent-style cloak over her head and down to her ankles? Was her face fully covered, no slits for her eyes? I felt like a hypocrite, penalizing girls for violating a custom I don’t support — and one that the majority of Islamic scholars say is not a religious obligation.

The mandate was and still is part of the government-issued curriculum taught in Saudi public schools; it was in their textbooks that the girls were told they should cover their faces in order to be good Muslim women.

Much is made about the role of Islam in Arab societies — how different interpretations of the Quran can shape laws and conventions. But less often do we consider how these interpretations reach our children: at school and, ultimately, in the textbooks they read. Since Saudi Arabia’s first national textbooks were issued in 1937, the controversies they have inspired have mirrored the country’s most fundamental debates — about religion, the treatment of women, the influence of the West. Over time, textbooks have become instruments of the country’s religious conservatives, replete with calls to jihad and denunciations of non-Muslims. Yet despite periodic reform efforts, and even though these efforts have escalated amid the global outrage that followed 9/11, in many ways the books remain stubbornly impervious to change. Even in the past two years, they have instructed first graders not to greet infidels and warned 10th graders of the West’s threat to Islam.

The Saudi education system wasn’t always destined for orthodoxy. King Abdulaziz, the kingdom’s founder, established the precursor to today’s Education Ministry in 1925, seven years before officially founding the country in 1932. The first national textbooks were heavily influenced by Egyptian and Lebanese curricula, and their chief author, the researcher Omar Abduljabbar, was considered a progressive, opening one of Saudi Arabia’s first private girls’ schools at a time when only boys could attend public schools.

By the 1950s, however, religious ultraconservatives had begun putting down roots in the Education Ministry. Despite the ministry’s efforts to recruit members of the Muslim Brotherhood from Egypt and Syria, who were seen as proponents of a more liberal form of Islam, the more powerful Saudi religious establishment ensured that textbooks and school policies would become more intolerant and conservative, which the government’s 1968 educational policy document solidified formally. In the following decades, those brave enough to criticize the government-mandated curriculum were scarce if not nonexistent. Saudis who were unhappy with the public education system could send their children abroad; even private Saudi schools were (and still are) required to teach Arabic and the government’s religious curriculum.

Things went on this way with few changes until 15 of the 19 hijackers responsible for the 9/11 attacks were revealed to have been Saudis. Suddenly, outsiders began asking questions and pointing fingers, wondering what exactly was being taught in our schools. A 2002 Boston Globe report, for instance, bearing the headline “Saudi Schools Fuel Anti-U.S. Anger,” quoted inflammatory passages from a government textbook, such as, “The hour will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews, and Muslims will kill all the Jews.” Saudis, too, began to reconsider: What kind of messages were we teaching our children?

The question was blown wide open in 2006 with the publication of a Freedom House report titled “Saudi Arabia’s Curriculum of Intolerance,” which was translated into Arabic and published in the local newspaper Al-Watan. The report analyzed 12 Islamic-studies textbooks, concluding that “the Saudi public school religious curriculum continues to propagate an ideology of hate toward the ‘unbeliever’” — most egregiously in a 12th-grade text that instructed students to wage violent jihad against infidels to “spread the faith.” Many Saudis bristled at a foreign organization meddling in their internal affairs, but the findings managed to rekindle the debate about Saudi education. The pages of Saudi schoolbooks were finally submitted to a new, unfamiliar scrutiny — not just from outsiders but also from Saudis themselves.

The Education Ministry responded to the criticism, appearing to commit itself to reform byrelegating 2,000 teachers it deemed extremists to administrative roles far from the classroom. The ministry also instructed principals to report anyone preaching extremism.

Yet textbooks remained largely untouched, with only the most explicitly intolerant material removed. Now and then a journalist today picks up one of the government-issued schoolbooks only to find that extremism has sneaked back into Saudi schools.

In the 2010-2011 academic year, the new first-grade jurisprudence book (yes, “Islamic jurisprudence” is taught in the first grade, along with a subject called “monotheism”) condemnedsaying hello to non-Muslims. The lesson was presented as a dialogue between a teacher and a student named Ahmed. Ahmed asks, “Should I say hello to people I don’t know?” The teacher replies, “Yes, you say hello to Muslims you know and Muslims you don’t know.” The news caused an uproar in the Saudi media that prompted the Education Ministry to recall the books and remove the offensive portion. But the new copies suspiciously omitted the names of the book’s authors, replacing them with the phrase “Authored and revised by a team of experts.” Among the book’s creators had been Sheikh Yusuf al-Ahmad, known for suggesting that the Grand Mosque in Mecca be rebuilt to ensure complete gender segregation and for calling for a boycott against supermarkets that planned to employ female cashiers. (The sheikh is currently in prison for speaking out against the government’s practice of imprisoning political dissidents indefinitely and without charge.)

Just last year, new interpretations were introduced in the boys’ 10th-grade hadith, the book of the Prophet Mohammed’s sayings and traditions. (Ever since a 1958 royal decree that allowed Saudi girls to attend public schools, boys and girls have been required to use different textbooks.) The move seemed progressive on the surface: The new subjects included human rights, Westernization, globalization, and international scholarships — but under these headings lay more propaganda. Westernization, for instance, was described (in a mouthful) as a policy “exerted by the dominant forces by tools such as the Security Council and the United Nations in order to implement Westernization strategies in poor countries, especially Islamic nations, under the slogans of reform, democracy, pluralism, liberalism, and human rights, particularly with regard to women and religious minorities.” The book also warned that by obtaining an education in the West, Saudi students were at risk of adopting beliefs, values, and behaviors at odds with Islam.

The hadith additions were widely thought to be an underhanded way of criticizing Saudi King Abdullah’s scholarship program, which since 2005 has funded 130,000 Saudi students to study in countries such as Australia, Britain, Canada, and the United States. That such anti-Western language made it into the hadiths proves how embedded Saudi ultraconservatives are in the Education Ministry — they were able to modify textbooks even against official national programs.

The Education Ministry ultimately held its ground, revising the textbooks to exclude the intolerant subject matter. Still, teaching extremism is only one facet of a much larger, more persistent problem. In a 2009 study on education reform in Saudi Arabia, Riyadh-based researcher Ahmed al-Eissa found that the lion’s share of the average male Saudi student’s class time — about 30 percent — is still in religion. It’s no wonder then that Saudi Arabia ranks so poorly in other core academic subjects. In the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, published by the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics, only Ghana and Qatar fared worse than Saudi Arabia in eighth-grade math scores across 48 countries. In science, Saudi students only performed better thanthose in Ghana, Qatar, Botswana, and El Salvador.

A study published last year by religious scholar Abdulaziz al-Qasim found that Saudi religion textbooks “have focused far too much on the lowest educational and skill objectives, such as rote memorization and classification, and neglected entirely the objectives of analysis, problem-solving, and critical thinking,” leading to “passiveness and negativity.” But Eissa’s 2009 study noted that there is widespread refusal within the Education Ministry even to acknowledge the need for an overhaul.

It has been more than a decade since the Education Ministry began working on a plan to address these problems. Known as the Comprehensive Curricula Development Project, it is expected to be implemented across the kingdom in the next year, according to its website. Yet, if one reads the project’s mission statement for religious textbooks, it is difficult to be optimistic. It calls for the books to require that “the learner grasp his membership and loyalty to Islam and derive all his affairs within it and renounce all that goes against it,” as well as to “protect himself in facing deviant sects, creeds, false interpretations of sharia with reason, evidence, and politeness.” Nowhere in the statement’s 28 points is there any mention of tolerance or peace. Somehow “time management,” No. 28, is a bigger priority.

Even if the ministry’s changes materialize, education reform in Saudi Arabia is not simply a matter of revising textbooks. It’s a matter of changing the minds of whole generations. Saudis who were taught to believe a very narrow interpretation of Islam are now foisting it onto millions more students. They will have to determine a way forward — but they won’t find the answer in their textbooks.

In the Land of Al-Qaeda It Is Dangerous To Ignore 4-Year Olds Making Demands

Saudi boy, 4, kills father over PlayStation: report

RIYADH: An angry four-year-old Saudi boy shot and killed his father for refusing to buy him a PlayStation, Saudi media reported on Monday.

The Asharq daily, citing police in the southern Jizan area, said the child, aged four years and seven months, grabbed his father’s pistol and shot him in the head.

According to the newspaper, the child had asked his father to buy him a PlayStation and the shooting took place after the man returned home without the desired object.

As he was undressing, the man put the weapon down, which the child then grabbed and fired at him from close range.

- AFP/cc

New Trump Towers To Be Built In Tbilisi, Georgia

Trump to build luxury apartments on Georgian Black Sea coast


This is how Trump Tower Batumi with adjacent marina is expected to look like according to the project’s master plan by New York-based architecture firm John Fotiadis Architect.–Civil Georgia,

By Khatia Psuturi, AP

U.S. business magnate Donald Trump, accompanied by Tbilisi mayor Gigi Ugulava, left, tours a medieval fortress in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Saturday.

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — U.S. real estate mogul Donald Trump has joined Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in unveiling plans to build a luxury apartment complex along the Black Sea coast.

The 47-story Trump Tower in Batumi is to be built by the Silk Road Group under a licensing agreement signed inNew York last year.

Saakashvili said during Sunday’s presentation in Batumi that the Georgian conglomerate expects to have the necessary funding by the end of this year, with construction slated to start in early 2013.

In welcoming Trump, Economy Minister Vera Kobalia said the project would encourage more foreign investment.

Saakashvili oversaw steady economic growth after becoming president in 2004, but the economy was hit in recent years by the global downturn and repercussions from the 2008 war with Russia.

Imperialism writes a new political geography

Imperialism writes a new political geography

by  Jayatilleke de Silva

nation.lk

Imperialism writes a new political geography

Imperialism, Lenin said, is moribund capitalism. Nevertheless it retains its ruthless character. Outlining the principal characteristics of imperialism he spoke of the political and economic re-division of the World among various imperialist powers.

The aftermath of the Second World War saw the birth of two new phenomena. One was the expansion of the socialist system into all continents. The second was the victory of national liberation revolutions in almost all the colonies.
A new political geography was born. Imperialism never agreed with it and worked day and night without a respite to change it. By the middle of the 1990’s, it had accomplished one objective. That was rolling Communism back. The system of socialist states collapsed with the demise of the Soviet Union and European socialist states. This was not through war but by other means. It is not our intention here to debate whether it was due to imperialist manipulations and subversion or an implosion caused by mistakes of the rulers or both.

The attainment of the second objective was also very important for imperialism. It was the change of regimes in newly independent countries to carry on their earlier exploitation by new means. In other words, imperialism wanted to guarantee unfettered neo-colonial exploitation of the former colonies. If this was not possible due to rulers’ anti-imperialist positions, then regime change was considered as a legitimate exercise disregarding international norms of conduct. No means were spared, including covert and overt war.

Looking back a little over a decade, we see that the Middle East has been the area, which has earned the attention of imperialism to achieve this change. No wonder, since it contains the bulk of the world’s oil resources. Beginning with Iraq, regime change has been accomplished in several countries in the region by war. All these wars have been conducted either through the aegis of the United Nations or through coalitions of the willing comprising the United States and its NATO and other allies.
In this they have ignored the United Nations and International Law and resorted more and more to what is termed as R2P or Right to Protect, a policy, which authorizes external intervention in other countries under the pretext of safeguarding human rights. Thus Iraq was invaded to prevent it using ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ though no such weapons were found despite massive bombings and search operations. In Libya too it was the same pretext. The same methodology is being in operation in Syria and Iran.

War is not the only means used. Actually it is the finale in a series of operations beginning with disinformation, covert operations including the use of special forces deep inside the targeted countries and the use of fifth columns.
While President George W. Bush openly declared his intention of confronting by force some several dozen nations who were considered hostile, President Barack Obama promised a different approach of using American soft power to re-write international relations and earn the goodwill of the World to the United States. However, he has used both soft power and hard power to attain the same objectives.

It is also important to see that under President Obama, the United States have been using its NATO allies and friendly regimes in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members in its programme of regime change in selected countries.
For the same purposes it has also used all available means to contain the Arab Spring or the movement of mass uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere. The United States have carried out a differentiated approach in the countries affected by the Arab Spring. While it went to open war in Iraq and did the same in Libya in a slightly different manner, it used the GCC in Bahrain and Yemen.

It is also important to understand the role played by the media in these operations. Media was an effective weapon in building up support for utilizing the R2P policy. The media monopoly in the service of imperialism was used shamelessly to spread absolute falsehoods. For example it said that Government forces in Libya bombed civilians but could not substantiate the charge despite visuals shown in TV. The same disinformation campaign is carried out now in Syria. Often bombings by Opposition forces are unreported or blamed on the Governments. Once the media spreads the lie, it is easy to legitimize aggression or intervention.

The principle of State sovereignty is undermined, and international law trampled under the heavy boots of imperialism. The result is a new political geography, one written again by imperialism. So far it is only North Africa and the Middle East. Other regions will also be not spared in future.

Western allies of MI6 ‘kept in dark’ over mosque sting plan

[Here, in a nutshell, we have an offhand explanation of the "al-Qaeda" phenomenon, as an idea that is hatched within the twisted minds of intelligence agencies and eventually matured into actual "Islamist" terrorists.  We have previously tried to explain the term "al-Qaeda" at various times, as a "database," a terrorist cell of several thousand "Afghan Arabs," or even as a non-entity, used as cover for covert spy actions.  The following admissions about previously disguised spy agency actions and interactions with known terrorists, reveal that the "Qaeda" has always been a work in progress.  If you speak about Qaeda, you must first be speaking to individuals who have a minimum idea about what Qaeda is, or they will not understand the connections between "good guys" and "bad guys."   There could be no terrorist bad guys without some good guys standing behind them, handing them the explosives and the guns.

Behind every facade you will find that Qaeda is a contract, a meeting of minds between terrorists and their state sponsors and the paying of some sort of commission to ensure the fulfillment of that contract to commit terror against the "other side."  Before the meeting of minds can take place, there must first be some sort of recruitment process, to locate extremists of the proper mindset.  That is exactly the process which is explained in the following article.  In this case, MI6 set-up a mosque to attract N. African extremists, where they connected with Libyan intelligence and N. African extremists who were recruited into "al-Q in Iraq," from which they were later recruited to carry-out part of the "Qaeda" operation against Libya (who knows whether those called Qaeda in Libya were actually radical recruits or intelligence agents).  This information comes from documents recovered from Libyan govt. files, which related the recruitment facts quoted in the London Telegraph report.  The so-called "al-Qaeda" suspects described in the report never worked for bin Laden.   The military training and equipment which they received came from state sponsors.  

The US, Britain and all allied intelligence agencies create Qaeda in order to have someone to wage war against.]  

Western allies of MI6 ‘kept in dark’ over mosque sting plan

MI6 and Col Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan intelligence service set up a radical mosque in a Western European city in order to lure in al-Qaeda terrorists, it can be revealed.

MI6 and Col Muammar Gaddafi’s Libyan intelligence service set up a radical mosque in a Western European city in order to lure in al-Qaeda terrorists, it can be revealed.

Britain was encouraging Col Gaddafi to give up plans for weapons of mass destruction Photo: ALAMY

By , Investigations Editor

The joint operation, which was undertaken as Britain attempted to secure a deal with Col Gaddafi to reopen diplomatic relations, shows how closely Britain’s Secret Intelligence Service was prepared to work with his regime’s spies despite widespread allegations of human rights abuses.

At the time, Britain was encouraging Col Gaddafi to give up plans for weapons of mass destruction. Four months later, the dictator and Tony Blair, then prime minister, struck the 2004 “deal in the desert” which ended Libya’s pariah status.

The cooperation extended to recruiting an agent to infiltrate an al-Qaeda terrorist cell in the Western European city, which cannot be named for security reasons.

The double agent, codenamed Joseph, was closely connected to a senior al-Qaeda commander in Iraq and had been identified as a possible spy by the ESO, Libya’s external intelligence service, on a visit to Tripoli.

MI6 began recruiting the agent without telling its allies in the European country where he lived.

The agency agreed a narrative with the agent and the ESO to fool their allies about when and how the agent had been recruited and the operation launched.

Documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which were sent from MI6 headquarters in London to Moussa Koussa, the Libyan intelligence chief, give a detailed outline of this subterfuge, the agent’s recruitment and plans for the operation. The papers were left behind in Tripoli as Col Gaddafi’s regime crumbled.

The plan raises questions about the SIS, MI6’s close links with the Libyan regime and whether it was acting on government orders.

Last week it was disclosed that Jack Straw, the then foreign secretary, is facing legal action over claims he signed off the rendition to Tripoli in March 2004 of an alleged Libyan terrorist leader accused of links to Osama bin Laden, claims that had been previously denied in Parliament.

But now it can be disclosed that secret anti-terrorist operations in Europe involving MI6 and Libyan intelligence began four months earlier with a series of meetings in the UK.

In December 2003, “Joseph” and a Libyan intelligence officer were flown to meetings at British hotels to discuss setting up a mosque to attract North African Islamic extremists.

They hoped to gain “information on terrorist planning”. MI6 paid for one Libyan intelligence officer, who had previously worked under diplomatic cover in the UK, to stay in a five-star central London hotel and smoothed his passage through immigration at Heathrow to “avoid the problems he experienced on his previous visit”.

A secret memo sent to Libyan intelligence in Tripoli details an early meeting with the apparently reluctant new agent in a city in the north of England.

“Our meeting in the UK on this occasion was to explore further with ‘Joseph’ just what he might be prepared to do,” it said.

Headed “Greetings from MI6 London” it says: “ ’Joseph’ was nervous. He had had a paranoid walk to the hotel across [UK city] with too much eye contact from passers-by that had unduly unnerved him.

“We reassured him by going over the cover story we had discussed when we met in Tripoli. We would not be seen together in public but, in the unlikely event that anyone saw us in the hotel, I would simply be his business contact. Furthermore, there was no link between the hotel booking and MI6.

“ ’Joseph’ agreed to work with SIS but still required reassurance. A second meeting took place a few days later when MI6 and Libyan officers met ‘Joseph’ at one five-star hotel and then travelled in separate taxis to” a second hotel to ensure they were not being watched.

The memo adds: “We told ‘Joseph’ that under no circumstances was he to tell the [European intelligence service of country where he lived and was planning to operate] of his involvement with us and the Libyans. We would do this when we were ready.”

The agent had, the note says, already been approached by this Western intelligence service but he was told to “stall his meeting” with them.

A strategy was agreed to keep the other Western intelligence service in the dark about the full extent of their contact with the agent.

It added that MI6’s allies would later be told the agent had been recruited “as a result of our ongoing counter terrorism relationship with ESO, [and we] sought to capitalise on the relationship struck up with ‘Joseph’.”

The operation was run behind the backs of Western allies in the chosen city. Critics are likely to question whether it could have backfired, with a terrorist cell launching an attack using the mosque as a base.

The disclosures come in the wake of the accusation that Mr Straw gave the green light to the plan to seize Abdelhakim Belhadj, one of the military commanders who helped to overthrow Gaddafi’s regime last year, and his pregnant wife and put them on a CIA flight.

Secret documents outlining the rendition plan, published by The Sunday Telegraph last February, showed how MI6 tipped off Libya that Mr Belhadj was being held by immigration officials in Malaysia and that the secret CIA flight was scheduled to refuel at an airbase on Diego Garcia, a British sovereign territory in the Indian Ocean.

Once Mr Belhadj was in custody in Libya, Sir Mark Allen, MI6’s then counter terrorism chief, sent a letter to Mr Koussa, saying: “This was the least we could do for you and for Libya to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built.”

The evidence contradicted government statements denying British involvements in renditions. Last week Mr Belhadj’s lawyers said they had issued legal proceedings against Colin Roberts, the Foreign Office official responsible for Diego Garcia.

U.S. and Afghanistan Reach Partnership Agreement

U.S. and Afghanistan Reach Partnership Agreement

By   

KABUL, Afghanistan   — After months of negotiations, the United States and Afghanistan on Sunday finalized drafts of the strategic partnership agreement that pledges American support for Afghanistan for 10 years after the withdrawal of troops at the end of 2014.

The United States Ambassador, Ryan C. Crocker, and Afghanistan’s national security adviser, Rangin Spanta, agreed on the wording of the draft, which will now be sent to President Hamid Karzai and to the Afghan Parliament for review and approval before it is signed by the presidents of the both countries, according to American and Afghan officials.

“We believe we have a final text which will be  presented to the president and also presented to Parliament for final consultation and approval before the signature by the two presidents,” said an Afghan official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official did not have permission to speak to the media.

“It covers the broad spectrum of the existing, broad-based, comprehensive partnership between the two countries with the view towards sustaining that for at least another decade beyond the end of transition in 2014,” the official said.

The document outlines the two countries future relationship rather than specifying exact amounts of support or programs, but officials from both countries have said they hope that it will send a signal to insurgents and other destabilizing forces here that the United States is not going to abandon Afghanistan as it did in the 1990s after the Soviets were driven out.  Rather American will continue to support the country in many areas.

Negotiations on the document started more than nine months ago but were delayed repeatedly over the sensitive issues of night raids by American troops and the American operation of detention facilities.

Ultimately negotiators agreed to craft detailed separate agreements on those two issues and signed a memorandum of understanding on the transfer of detention operations to the Afghan government in March and in April signed a companion memorandum handing final authority on night raids to Afghan security forces, who are now carrying out all raids unless American assistance is requested.

With those two issues completed, finalizing the strategic partnership moved quickly.  The document promises American economic development support for Afghanistan, help in fields like agriculture and education as well as security.  It does not include any specific commitment of foreign aid because that amount must be authorized and appropriated by the Congress and can not be committed by the executive branch.

However, the United States is already anticipating that it will make a substantial contribution toward paying for Afghanistan’s security forces beyond 2014 and is searching for contributions from its NATO partners. The amount is not settled but a figure of $2.7 billion a year has been under discussion.  There would be additional foreign aid for civilian fields.

At some point, a security agreement will detail if and under what circumstances American troops will be positioned in the country in the post-2014 period, according to senior American officials.

Anxious to keep lid on Iraq, Obama woos Kurds

Anxious to keep lid on Iraq, Obama woos Kurds

 By Alister Bull

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama, facing a damaging election-year problem if Iraq’s political crisis worsens, has launched an urgent behind-the-scenes push to ease tensions between the Baghdad central government and the Kurds.

Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurds’ semi-autonomous regional government, paid a quiet visit to the White House on April 4 and left with backing for two long-standing requests that could help build the worried Kurds’ confidence in U.S. support.

Barzani’s heated criticism last month of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has fanned concern the country could splinter, potentially setting off a fresh civil war.

Reuters has learned that to demonstrate U.S. support, the White House and Congress agreed to lift a designation that treats Kurdistan’s two main political parties as if they were terrorist groups, complicating members’ travel to the United States. In addition, the U.S. consulate in Arbil will begin issuing U.S. visas before the end of 2012.

Since withdrawing the last U.S. troops in December, Obama has, at least publicly, put little focus on Iraq, and critics view the latest gestures as not much more than damage control.

But Obama still has a lot at stake in Iraq. If violence explodes, it could tarnish Obama’s bragging rights with U.S. voters for concluding the unpopular war.

And worsening relations between the Shi’ite-led central government and semi-autonomous Kurdistan could thwart White House efforts to lower gasoline prices. The Kurds halted oil exports to Baghdad on April 1, citing a payment dispute.

CIVIL WAR

Barzani last month delivered a sharp denunciation of Maliki’s government and suggested he could seek a referendum of some kind on the Kurdish region’s relations with Baghdad – although he stopped far short of breaking a taboo by making explicit reference to independence.

Analysts say the probability of the Kurds declaring independence is low, although not zero.

“If Kurds were to declare independence in the near term there is a very high likelihood that that would provoke a war with Baghdad,” said Kenneth Pollack, a former CIA analyst.

The White House promises to the Kurdish president “constitute useful takeaways for Barzani but they are probably about the absolute minimum that he would have found acceptable,” said Pollack, now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center for Middle East Policy.

The goal of the Washington meetings in early April, both the White House and the Kurds said, was to re-commit to a relationship that both value. Obama dropped in on one of the meetings Vice President Joe Biden hosted for Barzani that day.

Biden assured Barzani of U.S. backing for the Kurds, but he also cautioned that Washington could not pick sides between Kurdistan and Baghdad, a senior administration official said.

“Neither relationship can come at the expense of the other relationship,” the official said. “A red line for us is that all this must be done in a way that is consistent with the (Iraqi) constitution.”

ENERGY SECURITY

Iraq boasts some of the world’s largest oil reserves and could provide essential extra production capacity to help stabilize world oil markets, at a moment when gasoline prices are one of the most pressing issues for U.S. voters.

And while foreign policy hasn’t yet been a major factor in the U.S. presidential campaign, both parties are likely to sharpen their focus on it ahead of the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing by U.S. commandos on May 2.

Qubad Talabani, son of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and the representative for the Kurdistan Regional Government in Washington, said the Kurdish delegation was happy with Biden’s words of support to Barzani.

“The reaffirmation of the commitment to Kurdistan and the Kurdish people went down very well,” he said.

“For us, we’re naturally an insecure people, and given the history that we’ve had, we’re expecting at some point or another to be let down again,” he said.

The Kurds, severely persecuted under late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, have become increasingly nervous since U.S. troops left.

Indeed, the troop departure was followed almost immediately by a political crisis sparked by Maliki’s demand for the arrest of a Sunni Muslim vice president, who fled to Kurdistan, where Barzani defied the prime minister by granting him shelter.

SEE NO EVIL

Critics of Obama’s Iraq policy complain that the White House is primarily concerned on keeping a lid on events until after the November 6 U.S. election.

“I think the administration is of the mind-set of ‘see no evil, hear no evil’ and it wants Iraq to be invisible for the political debate in the United States,” said Ned Parker, a visiting fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

To encourage the Kurds to remain within Iraq’s political process, the administration is bowing to their long-standing plea to amend the status of the main political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, members of the groups are deemed to be engaged in terrorist activity.

This is not as severe as being designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. But it means that members of these organizations must get a government exemption to visit or stay in the United States.

An aide to Senator Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said Lieberman was working on legislation to remove the designation.

In addition, the U.S. decision to begin issuing visas from its consulate in Arbil from the end of 2012 will save Kurds who want to visit the United States the expense and hazard of journeying to Baghdad to get a visa or traveling to a U.S. consulate outside of Iraq.

State Department spokesman Michael Lavallee confirmed this move, which had been long sought by the Kurds, but stressed in a statement that it was part of a broader effort to “work with the government of Iraq to continue to normalize our consular services throughout the country.”

OIL SAFETY VALVE

U.S. officials also offered to help the Kurds in talks with Baghdad to resolve the oil payments dispute and get the exports flowing once again, the Kurds said.

The amounts involved are modest – around 50,000 barrels per day from Kurdistan compared with Iraq’s national output of some 2.6 million barrels, according to published 2011 estimates by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.

But the dispute highlights the country’s ongoing failure to agree to a national oil law, potentially dampening the willingness of big foreign oil firms to make the investments necessary to exploit these resources.

The Kurds currently have no independent export route for their oil outside of the central government.

“They have a lot of potential,” said Ben Lando of the Iraq Oil Report. “There are substantial oil and gas reserves but there has not been a qualified number put on that and in many places exploration is still ongoing.”

(Editing By Warren Strobel and Eric Beech)

© Copyright 2012, Reuters

How Afghanistan Is Bringing Out Our Worst Side

How Afghanistan Is Bringing Out Our Worst Side

You know, I’ve never been to Afghanistan. I’ve never been in a firefight anywhere, although I have had a gun pointed at me, which is as close as I care to come, thank you very much.

But from some of the reporting coming out of there – such as Sebastian Junger’s harrowing book “War” and the accompanying documentary “Restrepo” – Afghanistan is to stress, fear and paranoia what Mount Everest is to rock formations. And it seems like we can’t go a month now without hearing about some of our soldiers (almost all of whom have been through multiple deployments) who have completely lost it under the stress.

From the Marine snipers photographed urinating on enemy corpses to the soldier who walked out of camp one night and started slaughtering civilians to the recently released photos of American troops posing with body parts and corpses, it’s just one image after another that makes you wonder if maybe we’ve finally stressed our military past its breaking point.

Now, desecrating the bodies of fallen enemies is not a new phenomenon by any means. In “The Iliad,” Homer describes how Achilles, maddened with grief by the death of his best friend, Patroclus, killed Hector, the Trojan crown prince responsible, then desecrated Hector’s body by dragging it behind his chariot for nine days during Patroclus’ funeral feast.

In the 15th century, the Wallachian prince known as Vlad the Impaler (later the inspiration for the blood-drinking Count Dracula) became well known for desecrating the bodies of vanquished enemies, mainly by sticking the bodies (and more than a few live prisoners) onto pointed stakes and leaving them for the invading Turks to find.

In the harrowing World War II memoir “With the Old Breed,” Marine John Sledge describes the mutilation of American corpses by the Japanese on the islands of Peleliu and Okinawa – and the corresponding looting (particularly of gold teeth) and taking of other “trophies” from dead Japanese by our own people. And so on.

What does seem to be new is the idea, particularly among the right, that this is either (a) no big deal or (b) actually a good thing.

Homer describes how Achilles repented from his act and returned Hector’s body after being confronted by Hector’s weeping father, King Priam, not to mention getting a stern warning from Zeus himself that he was “tempting the wrath of heaven” by his act of disrespect to a dead enemy.

Sledge describes how he was dissuaded from the act of stealing the gold teeth from a dead Japanese soldier by his friend, corpsman “Doc” Caswell, who admonishes him, “You don’t want to do that. What would your folks think?” And Vlad … well, as noted above, his major claim to fame is as the inspiration for one of literature’s greatest monsters.

In contrast, when those pictures surfaced of Marine snipers urinating on dead Taliban fighters, conservative radio host Dana Loesch turned gushing fangirl: “I’d drop trou and do it too. That’s me, though. I want a million cool points for these guys.” Anti-Muslim blogger Pamela Geller tweeted, “I don’t CAIR that these Marines wee wee’ed on murderous savages” (CAIR being the acronym for one of Geller’s favorite bogeymen, the Council on American Islamic Relations).

Fox commentator Ralph Peters went on the air nearly apoplectic with rage about how the recent photos of soldiers with dead and dismembered enemies were being used by people – including, according to Peters, their own commanders – to “trash our troops.”

I look at those images of young Americans, truly our best and brightest, behaving this way, and my heart breaks for them. I don’t know if they’ll ever make it back to sanity from that. I don’t know if any person could.

Then I think of the passage from Sledge’s book where he talks about Doc Caswell, the man who dissuaded him from desecrating enemy bodies: “He was a good friend and a fine, genuine person whose sensitivity hadn’t been crushed out by the war. He was merely trying to help me retain some of mine and not become completely callous and harsh.”

I compare that with the “callous and harsh” and downright barbaric statements from some of the Chairborne Rangers of 24-hour news TV and I wonder if we, as a country, will ever make it back from the abyss they’re pushing us toward.

Dusty Rhoades lives, writes and practices law in Carthage. Contact him at dustyr@nc.rr.com

Brinkley: Afghan war success ‘political fiction’

Joel Brinkley

San Francisco Chronicle

A US soldier (L) and an Afghan policeman (R) stand outsid... Sabawoon Amarkhil / AFP/Getty Images

Sabawoon Amarkhil / AFP/Getty Images

A U.S. soldier (left) and an Afghan policeman patrol a building Monday that Taliban fighters, some disguised in burqas, used to launch an attack.

American support for the Afghan war has collapsed. Several new surveys show that even most Republicans, from the party that is home to the nation’s hawks, now oppose the 10-year-old conflict. And it’s no wonder. The U.S. military has been deceiving the nation for years.

Listen to Army Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, who spent the past year working in Afghanistan.

“I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops” across the nation, he wrote in the Armed Forces Journal last month. “What I saw bore no resemblance to the rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.” Instead, he added, “I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.”

Not surprisingly, his is a dissenting voice in the U.S. military. But the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, representing hundreds of nongovernmental organizations working there, offered similar observations in its most recent status report. The number of violent incidents they counted from their stations in almost every province was 14 percent higher last year than in 2010, while the official military count showed a 3 percent decline.

“We find their suggestion that the insurgency is waning to be dangerous political fiction,” the report said.

In fact, attacks on the NGOs themselves increased by 20 percent. Compare that to the saccharine quote a Pentagon spokesman offered just after 40 people died in protests over the accidental burning of those Qurans on a U.S. base in late February.

Senior officers “believe we have achieved significant progress in reversing the Taliban’s momentum and in developing the Afghan security forces,” he said. A few weeks later, a NATO-trained Afghan soldier shot and killed two British troops, and on the same day a police officer killed a NATO soldier. That brought the total number of Western forces that Afghan soldiers have killed – green on blue killings, as they’re now called – to 80.

As a result, the Afghan National Security Directorate is sending intelligence officers to infiltrate its own military and spy on the soldiers to ensure they are not Taliban traitors intent on killing Western allies. The army also ordered all of its several thousand soldiers whose homes and families are in Pakistan to move to Afghanistan or leave the force – understandably afraid they are likely traitors.

But then there’s a question about how competent those efforts will be.

“There is a systematic level of incompetence inside the Ministry of Defense that has gone on for so long that it has become a culture,” Andrew Mackay, a British major general, told the Sunday Telegraph. He, too, just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

For example, the ministry hasn’t been able – or willing – to stop Afghan Air Force pilots, flying aircraft paid for by the United States, from using them for drug-trafficking flights. And no one has explained why nearly a dozen fully armed suicide vests were found inside the ministry building late last month.

All of this and more has led 66 percent of Americans to decide that the war is no longer worth fighting, a new Washington Post-ABC News survey found. Late last month, a New York Times-CBS News poll came to a similar conclusion: 69 percent said they believed the United States should end the war. Other surveys, by Gallup, the Pew Research Center and others, offered consistent findings.

That leaves Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney facing a quandary, particularly because most people in his own party now oppose the war. He has repeatedly said the nation’s goal should be to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield.

No one knows what finally pushed so many Americans to turn decisively against the war. Perhaps some of them heard Lt. Col. Davis on “Democracy Now” radio, saying: “Senior ranking U.S. military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the U.S. Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable.”

One major problem is that measuring success in this war is virtually impossible. What are the metrics? Unfortunately, that has led to a resumption of the much-maligned “body count” strategy – counting insurgent attacks and enemy dead.

Western forces have become “hopelessly mired in body count as a measure of success,” Mackay said. “The history of Vietnam tells us that’s a terrible way of doing it. But we’ve still gotten into: ‘Oh, we’ve killed 300 Taliban on this tour.’ “

As the NGO report put it, “The only coherent strategy the international community ever had in Afghanistan was the one to leave.”

© 2012 Joel Brinkley Joel Brinkley, a professor of journalism at Stanford University, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times. To comment, go to sfgate.com/chronicle/submissions/#1.

Adnan Rashid’s Facebook Rebuttal of Charges Against Him

[This is another case where it is hard to find info on, other than the official lies put-out there by the aggrieved military leadership.  One thing is clear, there were many militants who started-out as PAF airmen and officers.]

by Stop hanging of 12 innocent Prisoners (SOS!) on Monday, April 18, 2011

CIVILIANS can express their sentiments through demonstrations protest congregations and press conferences. But being Armed Forces personnel even delay or relent in complying with an order is an offence. You have no choice; you have to do or die and are not supposed to ask “why”?

The controversial war on terror which was joined by one of history’s most notorious despot and venal General without consensus of the nation spread anger and resentment in armed forces as well as across the nation.

The ironic curtain of Armed Forces never leak any news of its defamation. There were some of the patriots in PAF who never welcomed the NATO and US forces at the PAF Air Bases. Who could not help expressing their sentiments? They denied guarding alien aircrafts. They become the forthright critics of  Parvaiz Musharraf’s anti-Islamic and anti-Pakistan policies. They voted “No” in a referendum of 2002 considering it a way to save Pakistan’s ideology.

Such types of their actions infuriated the loyals of despots in Secret Services, and then what happened?

They were subjected to disappearances from their duty places by Special Investigation Branch (SIB). In habeas corpus, they faced humiliation brutal and barbaric torture and coercive interrogation tactics such as forced nudity, beating, flogging, sleep deprivation etc. by perverted torturers. One corporal Hashmat Kohat of Risalpur Airbase lost his life while suffering torture in PAF custody at AHQ Islamabad.

For obtaining confessional statements of uncommitted crimes they were brutally beaten into submission. They were told that their families were in custody of the Secret Agencies. They were threatened to cooperate and make a confessional statement as per direction, otherwise their wives would be raped.  Finally after 130 days, driven by torture and pressure, they made confessional statements of the heinous crimes they never committed.

They were court-martialed by the biased prejudiced and military chauvinist PAF Officer’s Tribunal after 21 months of their disappearance. The trial was declared secret and proceedings were tampered in the name of confidentiality. No incriminating evidence or pertaining to the case was brought against them. All witnesses were “primed” as to who the detained and disappeared Airmen were, and their reinstatement to the duties were linked to the prosecution’s desired evidence. Some of them turned “hostile.” In reprisal of turning hostile, they were also court-martialed and sentenced.

Six airmen were framed-up with fake charges of the Jhanda Chichi bridge bomb blast of 14 Dec 2004. Their plaintiff was the then president and Army Chief. So these all described elements that resulted in a terrible miscarriage of justice, and they were finally awarded death punishment because “law goes as king pleases.”

From the whole procedure of court-martial in 2005 until now they have been manacled in shackles and bar-fetters. No one can imagine the tribulation of a condemned prisoner because what the eye does not see the heart does not grieve over.

Since their disappearance in 2004, they have been facing perpetual apprehensions, persecutions, torture and human rights abuses. They are deprived even from their basic and inalienable constitutional rights, in the name of security.

The doors of higher civil courts are closed for them because the Supreme Court, who rejected their appeal in a ruling in September 2006, said that the higher civil courts did not have the authority to hear appeals against the Court Martial’s verdicts. But, this ill treatment exists only for them on the behest of hidden elements. Captain Usman Ameer’s death sentence was revoked by Apex Court on the 22nd of May in 2008, which was awarded by FGCM earlier. Lt. Colonel Munir Ahmed Gul was acquitted and restored to duty by LHC on the 12th of January in 2009, who had been sentenced to two years RI by FGCM.  Civilian Imran Munir was released by the Supreme Court in July of 2007, who had been sentenced to 8 years RI by FGCM. Civilian contractor Ghulam Abbas’s sentence was quashed by SC on the 8th of May in 2009. He was given twenty three years RI by PAF FGCM in the jet fuel corruption case. Is it not the paradox of judiciary?

Still, they are deprived of the copies of their trial proceedings. Is it not ironic, that some airmen, to be hanged, cannot even see their conviction proceedings?

Verdicts of civil courts including apex court, can be challenged, criticized, and blamed with biasing and prejudice. Their punishments can be termed as harsh, cruel, political and sometime called “judicial killing” such as in Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s case. But armed forces and their courts are “sacred cows.”

Unaware of Criminal Law, careless of the Constitution, Armed Forces Officers’ verdicts cannot be challenged. One should recall Army roll in Pakistan history. It means that wisdom of an Armed Forces Officer is more worthy than a full bench of Supreme Court Justices in criminal cases.

Was ZAB’s (Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto) crucifixion a “judicial killing?” A matter is going to be settled. ZAB’s trial was less prejudiced by military regime of General Zia-ul-Haq than the Airmen’s trial because courts and judges were civilians at least, and that was an open trial. But in the Airmen’s case the tribunal consisted of PAF Musharraf’s loyal Officers, the trial was “top secret” and the plaintiff was the then head of the state and military chief. ZAB cannot come back by the re-opening of his case, but twelve innocent lives can be saved by the re-opening of their case.

More than 200 PAF and Army personnel were subjected to disappearances in 2004. All were detained for more than 18 months without charges. They were all declared to be “high profile terrorists” and sent to civil high security jails designed and funded by the CIA, similar to Guantanamo Bay’s Camp X-Ray.

How ridiculous! These Airmen joined the Air Force in their teens, long before the “War on Terror.” Assuming the fact that they are “high profile terrorists” means that the Armed Forces are the massive producer of terrorists.

What do these oppressed, ill-fated and unlucky Airmen actually want? They want their case to be remitted for rehearing, in open court, before an impartial Tribunal of Supreme Court Justices. They seek legal redress for maltreatment, unjust and unfair conviction.

ZAB’s hanging case is going to be re-opened.  For what?  To prove his innocence. Will somebody dare to claim the hanging of Sepoy Islam Siddiqui, who was hanged in Multan Jail on the 20th of August 2005, without giving him right of any appeal a “military’s judicial killing?” (For details http://archives.dawn.com/archives/44282) and will someone raise the question why a Corporal Technician Hashmat was tortured to death?

By: Adnan Rashid

Condemned Prisoner

Ex Junior Technician of PAF

Pak No. 862476

A Court Martialed convict of

the first attempt on Musharraf’s life case.

And other convicts are:

Ex-Chief Technician Khalid Mehmood Pak/851866 Condemned Prisoner.

Ex-Senior Technician Karam Din Pak/ 854096 Lifer.

Ex-Corporal Tech Nawazish Pak/489906 Condemned prisoner.

Ex-Junior Tech Niaz Muhammad Pak/860186 Condemned prisoner

Ex-junior Tech Nasrullah Pak/865001 Lifer

Afghan Security Disrupts Plot By Pakistani Taliban To Detonate 10 Metric Tonnes of Explosives In Kabul

Another major Kabul strike foiled, 3 rebels held

by Pajhwok reporter

KABUL (PAN): Afghan security personnel on Saturday foiled a plot to carry out another massive attack in capital Kabul, seizing 10 tonnes of explosives and arresting three Pakistani nationals, alleged deployed by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), said officials.

The militants and an explosives-laden truck were detained during a special operation by the intelligence staff, Shafiqullah Tahiri, a spokesman for the National Directorate of Security (NDS) briefed reporters today.

He said the three — Asghar Khan, Majid Rahman and Qemat Khan — with strong allegiance to Pakistani Taliban and two of their Afghan facilitators Abdul Qayyum and Jan Agha, residents of central Kapisa, were arrested in the capital.

The explosives, stuffed in 400 sacks and hidden under piles of potatoes, were planned to be used in a huge terrorist strike – mainly targeting crowded areas in the capital, he added.

The spokesman said the five suspects had links with ISI, the intelligence agency, which had often been blamed by Afghan and foreign officials for creating security mayhem and supporting Taliban in Afghanistan.

Last Sunday, Taliban-backed militants struck in three diplomatic areas in Kabul and three provinces – Lohar, Nangarah and Paktia, where nearly 50 people were killed.

NDS pointed fingers at Haqqani Network for the violent attacks.

Mrh/vp

How Many Walls will Secure the Zionist Occupation of Palestine?

How Many Walls will Secure the Zionist Occupation of Palestine?

Franklin Lamb
Beirut

               metula settlement
The Zionist settlement of Metula viewed from the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila, 
situated along the “Blue line” which borders Lebanon and occupied Palestine. Both the foreground 
and the background are inside Lebanese territory. According to UNIFIL, Zionist occupation forces will 
attempt to replace this wire fence with a 15 foot high wall. Nearby Hezbollah security forces and local Lebanese 
scoff at this latest provocation
Great wall
Go for more Great Wall Maps

It may be that researchers would want to examine as long ago as the period from the 3rd century BC until the beginning of the 17th century in order to find a regime so frenetically building walls and barriers in a hopeless quest to hold onto stolen lands as we in Lebanon may soon witness in the South of the country.  It was back in 221 BC that in order to protect China from the land claims of the Xiongnu people from Mongolia, the Xiongnu tribe being China’s main enemy at that time who sought the return of lands they claimed the Chinese had stolen, that the emperor Qin Shi Huang ordered the construction of a wall to guard China’s territorial gains.

Hadrian’s Wall in England Lots of walls have been built throughout history to preserve occupied lands such as the Roman built Hadrian’s Wall in England and Khrushchev’s Berlin wall of 1961.The latter was actually built to keep people inside East Berlin after more than2 million of their citizens fled to West Berlin.

But no regime in history has built, in the span of six decades, the number of walls as the paranoid regime in Tel Aviv has erected. And it plans at least five more “anti-terrorist protective walls” including one slated to begin soon along the Lebanese-Palestine border at the Lebanese village of Kfar Kila. And that one may present a problem.
The decision to build a wall “to replace the existing Israeli technical fence” along the Blue Line near the town of Kfar Kila was announced last month by Tel Aviv.  The announcement followed a meeting between the Israel military and UNIFIL and both are keeping fairly mum about what it knows about this latest wall but UNIFIL spokesman Neeraj Singhhinted to this observer that the first section will be about half a mile long and approximately 16 feet high.

Some south Lebanon residents are strongly objecting for among other reasons that the high wall will block the scenic views into Palestine.  Others are ridiculing the reasons for the wall expressed by the US-Israeli lobby that will ask the American taxpayer to pay for it.
Israel firster, David Schenker, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, set up by AIPAC, told a Congressional hearing recently:

“South Lebanon is obviously a very sensitive area [for Israel],being so close to Metula and the possibility of infiltration by Hezbollah and Palestinians is a legitimate concern. The Israeli government believes that at his wall will prevent terrorists from launching direct line-of-sight firing of things like RPGs and mortars. Even the throwing of stone which some tourists visiting the area are in the habit of doing.”
Local observers, UNIFIL officials and experts like Timor Goksel, who worked as UNIFIL’s spokesman for 24 years along the blue line, expressed surprise at why Israel is claiming that Kfar Kila is a particularly dangerous area that needs a wall.
In point off act the area has not been a particularly hazardous or “sensitive” one historically, even when the PLO controlled the area in the 1970’s.  Goksel explained; “In my 24 years’ experience, there were never any attacks there because it’s adjacent to a Lebanese village, so any attack there will make life for the Lebanese difficult. I don’t think anybody has ever thought of doing anything there. Moreover, even if you cross into Israel at Kifa Kula there, you’re not going to come across an Israeli position for a long time, so it doesn’t make sense for anyone to attack from there. What are you going to attack? There’s no target.”

Some local observers are speculating that the real reason Israel wants the barrier in Kfar Kila might be to stop its troops from bargaining for drugs in exchange for weapons and classified military information, as the IDF’s drug problem among its “northern command” soldiers has escalated since the battering it took in the July 2006 war.

fence in Egypt
The new border fence under construction along border with Egypt near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat

Israel’s newest frontier wall will follow the one being erected along the 150-mile boundary between the Sinai and Negev deserts.  That wall building project is due to be completed by the end of this year of 2012. Once the Kfar Kila wall is finished, Israel will be almost completely enclosed by steel, barbed wire and concrete, leaving only the southern border with Jordan between the Dead and Red Seas without a physical barrier. But that too, may be walled in the future according to Shenker. He testified that the reason was due to the uncertainty in Jordan and its increasingly wobbly government.

Gilad ShalitYet another wall, approximately seven miles from the Mediterranean along the southern border will meet the fence Israel has already been built around Gaza.  This wall runs for 32miles, with a buffer zone, which Palestinians are forbidden from entering, and extends close to 1,000 metres inside the narrow Gaza Strip, walling off more prime Palestinian agricultural land. This “security war” has caged Palestinians inside Gaza but did not prevent the cross-border capture of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.

Along the Palestine-Lebanon border, a barrier built by Israel in the 1970s along the boundary was reconstructed, after Israel was forced out of Lebanon in 2000 following a 22-year occupation. This barrier did not prevent Hezbollah in a cross-border ambush in 2006, capturing two Israeli soldiers in order to negotiable a prisoner exchange. Nor did it prevent Hezbollah from firing of thousands of rockets during the ensuing 33-day war in retaliation for Israeli bombing much of south Lebanon.

And the “protective walls” rise like mushroom after a summer rain.

Further east from Lebanon, an Israeli barrier has been constructed on the ceasefire line drawn at the end of the 1973 Yom Kippur war, running between the Golan Heights, which Israel has illegally occupied for nearly 45 years, and Syria.  It was here that hundreds of pro-Palestinian demonstrators entered occupied Palestine last May, in the Golan and along the Lebanese border. More than a dozen people were killed and scores injured when Zionist forces opened fire on the unarmed civilians.
Quneitra
A crossing at Quneitra, now operated by the UN, does allow some movement of UN personnel, truckloads of apples, a few Druze students and the occasional Syrian bride in white.

A few miles north of Quneitra is Shouting Hill, where Druze families in the Golan yell greetings across the barrier to relatives in Syria.

Moving south through heavily mined fields and hills, the 1973 ceasefire line is bordered by Israeli military bases and closed military zones, and shells of tanks from past battles, until it connects with the border with Jordan. It then joins with one of Israel’s first walls, constructed in the late1960s, which now stretches almost from the Sea of Galilee down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea. Most of this line is not Israel’s border, but rather a barrier separating Jordan from the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Around a third of the way down this stretch, the barrier joins the infamous huge steel-and-concrete West Bank wall. This runs along or inside the 1949armistice line, swallowing up tracts of Palestinian agricultural land, slicing through communities and separating farmers from their fields and olive trees. As with its other 18 walls and barriers, the Zionist regime claims it is simply a security measure, but many believe it marks the boundaries of a future Palestinian state, consuming an additional 12% of the West Bank. Approximately two-thirds of its 465-mile length is complete, mostly as a steel fence with wide exclusion zones on either side. According to the current route, 8.5 percent of the West Bank territory and 27,520Palestinians are on the “Israeli” side of the barrier. Another 3.4percent of the area (with 247,800 inhabitants) is completely or partially surrounded by the barrier.

fence
The Jewish state is a matter for Historians, 
its future is doomed.” Gilad Atzmon

Two similar barriers, the Israeli Gaza Strip barrier and the Israeli-built  7-9 meter (23 –30 ft) wall separating Gaza from Egypt (temporarily breached on January 23,2008), which is currently under Egyptian control, are also widely condemned by the international community.
Returning to the subject of latest wall project, increasingly the Zionist regime opposes discussions, hearings, visits, expressions of solidarity with Palestinians, and even the viewing its garrison state from south Lebanon. Cutting off a view that people throughout history have marveled at represents a continuation of its isolation and xenophobia.

Following the joint meeting at Kkar Kila noted above, UNIFIL Major-General Serra said: “The meeting was called to assist Israel in putting in place additional security measures along the “Blue Line in the Kafr Kila area in order to minimize the scope for sporadic tensions or any misunderstandings that could lead to escalation of the situation.”

In fact, the opposite with likely happen.  In a recent visit to Ahmad Jibril’s Palestinian camp in the Bekaa Valley, and in discussion with salafist groups in Saida, its plain the wall will likely become an object of target practice and strain further UNIFIL and Hezbollah efforts to   keep the
border calm.

In a scathing commentary in Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel’s biggest-selling newspaper, defense analyst Alex Fishman recently wrote: “We have become a nation that imprisons itself behind fences, which huddles terrified behind defensive shields.” It has become, he said, a “national mental illness”.

Franklin Lamb Franklin Lamb volunteers with the Sabra-Shatila Foundation and the Palestine Civil Rights Campaign. He is reachable c/o fplamb@gmail.com

He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon.

Peak Oil Off: Great Game On

Peak Oil Off: Great Game On

This photo taken 11 October, 2006 shows gas bu... 

Matthew Hulbert

Peak oilers have had a pretty hard time lately. Not only have global unconventional finds flattened Hubbard’s ‘peak’, more and more conventional plays are cropping up. ‘Running out’? We have more than enough of the black stuff to incinerate ourselves several times over. Such supply side bounty has been well documented in the Americas – not just in the US and Canada, but across Latin America, offering a second pass at resource riches. Head all the way over to Australia, and you’ll see a dazzling display of unconventional technologies rapidly increasing kangaroo LNG production. The North Sea can squeeze out a few more drops; Europe can finally get it’s ‘energy sovereignty’ back from shale plays, all while the Arctic offers Russia untold oil riches. Anywhere you look, the narrative is the same. But just when we thought the global hydrocarbon map was complete, another serious player has cropped up, and it comes in the form of East Africa. This is the new African oil rush, and the race to secure regional riches between East and West is on. Nobody wants to lose: Peak oil is dead, the Great Game is back.

What’s particularly interesting about East Africa finds in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Madagascar, Ethiopia and more established fields in Uganda and Sudan, isn’t just the size of the finds, but the fact that European players have been leading the charge to secure concessions. Looking at the map, you’d think this would become a pure play ‘Chindian’ affair between China and India; sign upstream deals, load tankers, ship hydrocarbons directly across the Indian Ocean to home markets. Both Beijing and Delhi have been busy bidding for assets, but European players aren’t taking this lying down. Having lost the Middle East, seen North Africa take a turn for the worse, Latin America slip, and Russia on edge, East Africa is fast becoming a key priority for European boardrooms. Forget wildcat minnows, if East Africa is going to feed Asian markets, it’s European ‘super-majors’ that want to control the terms, taps and prices entailed.

Madagascar was stitched up by Exxon and Norway’s Statoil back in the early 2000s, every time BG Group now drills in Tanzania, gas is found. The British based company has unearthed 7 trillion cubic feet of gas on the trot, with Statoil sitting on even bigger finds, toping a billion barrels of oil equivalent. The same fields stretch down into Mozambique where Italy’s ENI have found 1.3boe matching similar finds made by US outfit, Anadarko. The key question being asked is not whether this is commercially attractive, but where to locate LNG export plants to monetise new found gains. Little wonder that a bidding war for CoveEnergy working in Mozambique has opened up. Royal Dutch Shell is showing considerable interest, not just in Cove’s Rovuma Offshore plays, but its world-scale LNG proposals to ship a minimum of 16tcf onto global markets. BP has expressed similar interest in Tanzanian LNG plants.

Higher risk markets such as Somalia and Ethiopia hold undoubted hydrocarbon promise, particularly in the Omo River Delta (Southern Ethiopia) but it’s further inland where things have really taken off: Uganda, and more controversially, Sudan. UK Independent, Tullow, has done most of the heavy lifting in Lake Albert (Uganda) alongside Total of France with belated contributions from CNOOC. Initial trickles of oil will start to flow next year, but the Albert basin has already unearthed a billion barrels of proven reserves, figures that could go significantly higher when surveys are conducted on the Congo border. That’s while the main plays China had secured in the region have turned horribly sour in Sudan. Separation between North and South has wiped out the vast bulk of Sudan’s 350,000b/d production: Word on the Juba Street is that a European hydrocarbon presence might be a good way of getting the diplomatic ball rolling.

That’s not gone down well in Beijing, but the real geopolitical clincher for the region is Kenya: it’s the swing state that will settle where regional control between East and West ultimately rests. In part, that’s because Nairobi has struck its own oil. Tullow is plugging away in the Rift Valley; serious offshore plays are being looked at in the Lamu Basin by US independent Apache, while trickier deep-water blocs have been taken by Total (France), BG Group and Ophir Energy. Thirty onshore and offshore areas are already under license, with a further eight deep-water tracts coming up for auction. But Kenya’s core strategic resonance isn’t just as a resource holder, but more as a transit state. Landlocked Uganda has little option but to ship its resources to Kenyan ports, and the same dynamic now applies to South Sudan – not unless a miraculous deal can be struck between Khartoum in the North and Juba in the South. Kenya will be the default energy hub linking East African production to international markets.

This is where China might be able to claw back some lost technological and geopolitical ground from Europe – notably by paying for the infrastructure involved. Sudan will need Chinese money to weld new pipes to the Uganda border towards Kenya, while Nairobi has already touted the so-called Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project to act as a crude maritime and refining hub. Although unashamedly pitched as a project ‘in search of Chinese money’, if Beijing considers itself to be on the back foot securing equity deals, rather than paying top dollar to secure new concessions from smaller European players, sinking cash into Kenyan infrastructure could be a strategically astute move. What China has missed on upstream positions, it could regain in terms of ‘vertical integration’ – directly tying Kenyan exports into Chinese maritime presence across the Indian Ocean.

This underlying competition certainly isn’t lost on host governments. With Europe, the US, India and China all trying to cement their stakes in the East Africa, Uganda had been ramping up capital gains taxes from Lake Albert spin-offs, prompting protracted tax disputes between the parties involved. Mozambique has made clear 12.8% capital gains will be paid on the forthcoming Cove sale; similar taxes are likely to crop up in Tanzania and Kenya. Broader political instability, particularly in Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia will remain problematic, as will the omnipotent threat of piracy in the region. But irrespective of these minor foibles, there is no way big European oil is going to turn its back on elephant fields littering East Africa. What’s more, future potential remains huge. Fewer than 500 wells have been drilled in the region, compared with over 35,000 in the rest of Africa to the North and West. Oil remains the biggest prize, but with Asian LNG demand on the up, gas plays have become a highly attractive option.

Like it or not, East Africa has just added another serious swathe of hydrocarbon prospects to the global economy. Irrespective of whatever pace the donkeys nod and gas flows, it underlines the fact we are re-entering a period of hydrocarbon plenty. Hydrocarbon assets aren’t ‘stranded’; we aren’t living in a carbon constrained world. The question for East Africa isn’t whether oil will be pumped and gas condensed, but who will be the main market players doing it between East and West. The really bad news for the ‘peak oil faithful’ is that commodity prices might not become more expensive in future. High benchmark prices today, continue to drive investment into technological innovation for cheaper extraction tomorrow. Little surprise that future oil prices are dipping under spot market dynamics: East Africa has merely added an attractive prospect for bullish supply side expectations. Peak is dead. The Great Game lives on…

Little Putin On the Way–Soon.

Lyudmila Putin is pregnant

FogNews.ru

Lyudmila Putin, located on the seventh month of pregnancy, undergoing tests at the University Hospital of the Ludwig Maximilian (Munich, Germany).

Rumors that the wife of Vladimir Putin’s “Knocked Up” have been confirmed.Chairman of the Council of Federation, Valentina Matvienko, in an interview with radio station “Silver Rain”, said that the 54-year-old Lyudmila Putin is in Germany, where she was assigned to receive obstetrical procedures performed prenatal wellness and prevention.

- Lyudmila feels good, – said Valentina Matvienko, – when we had seen in the last election on March 4, she joked that if you give birth to another daughter, the husband submits to a divorce and actually get married, as they say in “yellow” press, Alina Kabaeva.

However, Valentina Ivanovna kept intrigue, declined to answer the question, whether she knows about the sex of the child (sex determination by ultrasound is possible in 12 weeks), saying that he had known her, but she asked not to report it to the press before the official announcement.

We remind our readers that the earlier Lyudmila Putin to vote in presidential elections by absentee ballot, spent two weeks in the Holy Elizarovsk Monastery in Pskov region where, according to the Mother Superior Elizabeth (Belyaeva), fasting and communion. At the same time the prioress of the monastery of the Orthodox, or does not know anything about the pregnancy, the future first ladies of the Russian state, or it was strictly forbidden to answer questions about the true reasons for Putin’s visit female monastery walls.

We were able to contact the Director of the University Clinic of Obstetrics and Gynecology “Grosshadern”, Professor, Doctor of Medical Science Klaus Fries. Upon learning that we are from Russia, he asked us not to worry about the health of «frau Putin», assured that the expectant mother is under close surveillance around the clock professional and reasons to worry about the health of mother and unborn baby, despite the age of Lyudmila Putina, no.

But the press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, Putin has not commented about pregnancy, wife of the future president, only confirming the fact of her residence at the University Hospital of Munich. No one needs conspiracy continues, for some reason, religiously observed in the Kremlin administration, and after it left the “gray cardinal” Vladislav Surkov.

Help FogNews: currently in Family Putins have two children: daughter, Maria Putin (Leningrad, April 28, 1985) and Yekaterina Putin (Dresden, August 31, 1986). Both girls were named after grandparents: Maria Ivanovna Putin and Catherine Tikhonovna Shkrebneva. Judging by the way the speaker of the Federation Council clumsily tries to blow the fog, Lyudmila Putin is going to please the President of the heir. And, in a couple Putins established tradition, the boy should be called Spyridon – in honor of his grandfather, Vladimir Putin.

Meanwhile, as reported, “Arguments and Facts” radio station “Silver rain” demanded by RIA FogNews remove material under the name “Lyudmila Putin pregnant” in connection with false information about the source. The representative of the radio station said that “Silver Rain” does not spread in the air the information relied upon by the author.

Agni-V Test, US Support and the Whipping Boy!

Agni-V Test, US Support and the Whipping Boy!

Yasmeen Ali

India successfully tested ballistic missile with a range of more than 5,000km-going

uncriticised by USA which has shown an obsession over the years about a ‘supposed’

nuclear programme by Iran, and a huge concern for the failed rocket launch by North

Korea a few days earlier. India has increased its military spending by 13% this fiscal

year, to roughly US $38 billion(The Independent UK, dated 20th April, 2012 ,article

titled, ”India’s nuclear ambition must not be ignored”). Yet it has not raised US ire-or

eyebrows!

India, the bully of the region has happily announced its entry in an exclusive club within

the comity of nations having the capability to hit 5,000 kilometers. Chinese newspaper,

Global Times(Beijing), hit out at Western countries for double standards for not

condemning the test firing of the Agni-V.

“The West chooses to overlook India’s disregard of nuclear and missile control treaties,

the editorial said. “The West remains silent on the fact that India’s military spending

increased by 17 percent.”

Double standards it is!

There is a club within a club, of countries of the world who can get away with

murder(literally) while others must behave or face the stick of the Master. Pakistan

being the favorite whipping boy!

The question here is the geo-political interest of US in the region. The question here is

the need to hold back China emerging as a super power in near future, if at all.  The need

here is to support a country within the region to act, or seem to act as a deterrent to

China.  Obvious choice: India.

What USA had completely overlooked in this game of regional hegemony is when you

let the genie out of the bottle, it will refuse to go back in the bottle. It can one day, turn

upon the master, once his heart’s desire of being let out is fulfilled.

USA has learnt no lessons from history. In it’s short term policy of countering Russian

influence in Afghanistan , it had created Mujahedeen(now re christened Taliban).

Today, the specter of the ghost hounds them. But not really a ghost is it?

Now, blubbering in Afghanistan, caught in a trap of it’s own making, USA does not know

how to extricate itself from her folly!

This strategy has led to the need by US to involve India more in Afghanistan to the

complete denial of genuine interest of Pakistan, her ‘ally’ in WOT. USA is overlooking

the fact that the security environment in South Asia has always been guided by

traditional rivalry, Pakistan and India being the  two players. USA cannot wish away the

reason for three wars between India and Pakistan. The reasons, no international forum

has shown interest in resolving. According to a paper by Syed Shahid Hussain Bokhari

for the Berkley Journal of Social Sciences, published Jan 2011, the strategic balance in

the region is maintained by Nuclear Deterrence and role of major powers(USA).He

correctly states that  US tilt towards India will put Pakistan interests at stake.

USA desire to support India is an expression to maintain hegemonic superiority over her

perceived rival in the region. India has not accepted any legal binding against nuclear

testing ,” nuclear testing by India might enable it to wield nuclear weapons with much

larger explosive power than those currently in the Indian arsenal; that in turn would

allow important changes in Indian nuclear strategy- for example, it might let India

target Chinese or Pakistani nuclear sites that were previously safe; driving Beijing or

Islamabad to develop new weapons themselves or to change their currently restrained

strategies for using nuclear arms”.( Michael A. Levi and Charles D Ferguson, U.S.-India

Nuclear Cooperation A Strategy of Moving Forward. Council Special Report, Council

on Foreign Relations, 2006: 11). With the new Indo_US partnership in offing , India

will use her status with the US to be used against Pakistan, it’s traditional rival. The

equanimity with which USA has accepted the new ballistic missile fired by India is an

example. This new nexus will, at some point compel Pakistan, for the sake of her

survival and the need to counter India, into seeking options where USA may not figure.

For USA then, it could turn into a self defeating exercise and leading her in a trap of her

own making .

In this dangerous game , the double standards being indulged in by USA are being well

read, “India missile test has few critics, unlike NKorea,” read the headline to a widely-

distributed AP story, which said the test caused barely a ripple — even in China — just

days after North Korea was globally vilified for a failed rocket launch. ( The Times of

India , published 20th April 2012, titled, ”US refrains from criticizing Agni V test,

praises India’s non- proliferation record” by Chidanand Rajghatta). 

USA is a weakened nation today. After it’s long drawn out war in Afghanistan with

nothing to show for it(unless you count destruction of the country and killing of

civilians, urinating on dead bodies as a victory), and the war on Iraq, it needs strategic

partners to help her, in spite of a weak economy due to long drawn out wars, in

maintaining her hegemony over China, the upcoming challenger to USA’s status. This

will lead to USA’s adventurism into forming new alliances at the expense of old ones,

whatever it takes!

Leaving Pakistan, the favorite whipping boy, tossed aside like used tissue, to fend for

herself. Pakistan will do well to understand the need of USA to do so. Pakistan should

look for options here as her very equation in the region is at stake!

The interesting paradox of US policy is the inbuilt self defeating mechanism. By leaning

completely towards India( why am I reminded here of a parallel: USA’s role in Israel vs

Iran?)it control on Pakistan has to weaken. This will ensure, entrance in the corridor of

the arena of others interested in having a foot in .

Unfortunately, USA has over the years shown a fixation for short term policies.

The writer is a university professor based in Lahore & may be reached at

yasmeen.a.9@gmail.com

NATO runs for Afghan exit

Opinion: NATO runs for Afghan exit

Christoph HasselbachChristoph Hasselbach is DW’s Brussels correspondent

Deutsche Welle

While NATO once wanted to instill democracy before leaving Afghanistan, the alliance now seems satisfied a civil war isn’t tearing the country apart as it withdraws troops, says DW’s Christoph Hasselbach.

It was not very long ago that NATO was assuring the world that it would remain in Afghanistan for as long as necessary and that combat troops would not be withdrawn until Afghan security forces could replace them. And that’s still the line, officially anyway.

But NATO is sugar-coating the figures in order to get out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible. Last Sunday, Taliban fighters were able to push into the center of Kabul’s most highly security districts and fire on government buildings, Western embassies and even the international security forces’ warehouse. While the military use of their attack is questionable, it was of more symbolic importance.

If an attack like this could take place while some 130,000 foreign soldiers were still present, what would happen when they leave the country?

More pressure on politicians

Still, NATO officials and defense ministers from the alliance’s member countries are falling over themselves to praise the Afghan security forces’ “professional behavior.” The truth is that the military situation doesn’t matter and that the “running for the exit” that NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has continually warned of has already begun. Countries participating in the mission are weary of it.

The general public – whether in the United States, Germany or anywhere else – is asking itself if the mission’s human and material sacrifice has been worth it and is increasingly coming to the conclusion that it hasn’t been. In addition, the security troops in Afghanistan are seen more and more as an occupying force and the most recent set of pictures American soldiers posing with dead Afghans has only strengthened that view. That’s one reason Afghan President Hamid Karzai has pushed for an accelerated withdrawal of foreign troops. No government can ignore the pressure coming from home as well as Afghanistan.

Costly undertaking

The greatest danger is that Western countries run blindly from Afghanistan and lose everything their large sacrifices have achieved in the country. Way back at the beginning the goal was to institute democratic structures and rights for women. Now with even the most basic stability in danger, it seems to be enough for NATO that the country is not torn apart by civil war.

The 2014 withdrawal date will not change for military reasons but could for political ones. Even if it is difficult to accept, there are two things that need to happen. First, the withdrawal needs to a coordinated one. At the moment it appears that every country is deciding on its own. Second, it needs to be clear to NATO alliance members that withdrawal does not mean they can forget about Afghanistan. Funding and training for Afghan security forces will be crucial for years.

Although no guarantees can be made about Afghanistan’s future, it is clear that the country will once again fall into the hands of the Taliban if the West abandons Afghanistan. That’s a situation that would once again raise the question: What was the point of all the sacrifice?

Author: Christoph Hasselbach / sms
Editor: Rob Mudge

Moscow May Skip NATO Summit

Moscow May Skip NATO Summit

Lavrov briefing reporters after Thursday’s NATO-Russia talks in Brussels.

Sebastien Pirlet / Reuters

Lavrov briefing reporters after Thursday’s NATO-Russia talks in Brussels.

BRUSSELS — NATO and Russia are facing new dissonances because the Western alliance’s upcoming Chicago summit is likely to be held without Moscow’s participation.

Speaking at separate news conferences after a NATO-Russia council meeting in Brussels on Thursday, Foreign MinisterSergei Lavrovand NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said both sides were committed to continuing cooperation on various fields.

But an ongoing spat over missile defense, uncertainty over an offer from Moscow to open an airport in Ulyanovsk for NATO transports from Afghanistan and Vladimir Putin’s looming return to the Kremlin have cast a shadow over the relationship, which was formalized with the creation of the NATO-Russia Council a decade ago.

At the May 20-21 Chicago summit, NATO is set to launch the first phase of its missile shield without having won Moscow’s participation as hoped after the Lisbon NATO-Russia summit in 2010.

Lavrov warned that he might not accept an invitation to send a representative to Chicago because the alliance won’t let Moscow attend all meetings of nations contributing to ISAF, NATO’s Afghanistan mission.

He argued that some countries contribute just two officers to ISAF, while Russia provides vital transport corridors to Afghanistan. “We believe that our views are important. It is not fair that we get no invitation,” he told reporters.

Rasmussen said Russia was invited to attend an ISAF-contributor meeting at the sidelines of the Chicago summit.

He explained that Putin had agreed not to come because the event would be too soon after he was sworn in as president. “We agreed that due to a very busy domestic political calendar in Russia … it’s not possible and not practical also to have a NATO-Russia summit meeting in Chicago,” Rasmussen said.

“Our relationship with Russia is not dependent on one single meeting. It’s a long-term partnership,” he said.

Putin’s inauguration is scheduled for May 7. Putin will, however, attend a Group of Eight summit in Camp David on May 18 and 19.

Earlier reports said U.S. President Barack Obama moved the G8 summit to Camp David in a goodwill gesture to avoid potentially putting Putin in an awkward position. However, a NATO source told The Moscow Times that the alliance was more than happy not to see Putin in Chicago. “They do not want him to steal the show,” the source said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Putin appeared before reporters without prior announcement at NATO’s Bucharest summit in 2008 and reportedly tried to gatecrash the alliance’s Riga summit in 2006, only to be rebuffed by the Latvian government.

The Chicago summit will also finalize a massive troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, which hinges upon Russian support because rail transportation through Pakistan and Uzbekistan has become increasingly difficult.

Moscow has offered use of an airport in Ulyanovsk for airlifting so-called nonlethal equipment from Afghanistan, but the proposal has been met with bitter resistance by the Communists, who even staged a hunger strike. Lavrov did not say Thursday when the airlifts could begin.

Meanwhile, Lavrov made it clear that missile defense remains the biggest challenge for the country’s NATO ties by reiterating Moscow’s demand for firm guarantees that the planned shield won’t be directed against Russia.

Hesaida written political declaration, as offered by NATO, was insufficient and that the guarantees should be based on “objective criteria.”

Asked to explain, he said they should include “military, technical and other” criteria that ensure the system is not directed against any European country, including Russia.

Lavrov did not mention the Kremlin’s long-standing demand for “legally binding guarantees,” something that NATO has refused to grant in the past. But a NATO spokesman said Thursday that “technical criteria” referred to Moscow’s call for technical limitations that would render the system incapable of intercepting missiles from Russia.

“This is completely out of the question,” the spokesman said on condition of anonymity.

Lavrov said Moscow would stage a public evaluation of the missile shield’s technical capability during a major conference planned by the Defense Ministry for May 3 and 4 in Moscow.

NATO officials said the alliance had been invited but a decision had yet to be made on who would attend.

Evoking Ronald Reagan, Lavrov said that while words were important, one should “trust, but verify, as one U.S. president said.” Reagan frequently used the Russian proverb when discussing relations with the Soviet Union.

Moscow has opposed NATO’s missile defense plans, which include stationing SM-3 interceptors in Poland and Romania and on ships based in Spain. PresidentDmitry Medvedevhas announced plans to station new missiles in the western exclave of Kaliningrad.

NATO officials say the defense shield is technically incapable of intercepting Russian missiles and that Moscow has declined or not responded to offers to inspect their latest technology at a U.S. military base in Colorado Springs.

A senior NATO official made it clear that the plans would go ahead without Moscow. “NATO’s system is going to be deployed no matter what,” he said.

Rasmussen, however, stressed that talks would continue. “While dialogue is not always easy, we continue exploring the options,” he said, noting that NATO and Russian experts held a computerized missile defense exercise in Germany last month.

The Moscow Times

Chinese media mock India’s Building ‘Dwarf’ Missiles Instead of Toilets

‘Gao Zugui of the Institute of International Strategic Studies, who said: “Despite giving a little support, it was right in saying that if it really wants to become a great nation, each of its families should have a toilet first.”‘

[How can India's foolish talk about becoming a military "Superpower" be taken seriously anywhere, when so many children in the country go to bed hungry, sleep in the streets, use the alleys and railroad tracks for toilets and are otherwise "untouchable"?  Indian leaders imagine that they can play "world statesmen" without first ensuring that they have something like "no child left behind."]

Chinese media mock India’s ‘dwarf’ missile

India’s Agni-V missile being launched from Wheeler Island off India's east coast

The missile has a range of more than 5,000km – far enough to reach most of China

While the Indian media are being swept along by the euphoria of the successful test launch of Delhi’s first long-range ballistic missile – which can reach deep within China – Chinese papers have dismissed outright its impact on India’s military might vis-a-vis China.

The press termed the test a “missile delusion” and a mere “show of strength”.

While the Indian media dubbed it a “China-killer”, state-run Chinese newspapers mocked the latest Indian missile, the Agni-V, calling it a “dwarf” compared to China’s own missiles.

Both Chinese- and English-language newspapers rejected the view that this missile would tilt the strategic balance in the region towards India, something that the Indian media have been celebrating for the past two days.

Chinese official reaction has been more restrained, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lui Weimin calling India a “partner and not a rival”.

In its editorial on Thursday – the day of the launch – the state-run English-language newspaper Global Times dismissed India “standing a chance” in a confrontation with China.

“India should not overestimate its strength… For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China,” the editorial said.

‘No breakthrough’

On 20 April, an editorial in the state-run newspaper Huanqiu Shibaosaid India’s strategic strike force was in “early childhood”.

It further mocked the missile programme by saying that the Agni-V showed “the backwardness of Indian missiles” and was “merely one of the concrete displays of its social and economic development as a whole lagging behind China”.

In a similar vein, commentator Wu Xuelan wrote in the Communist Party newspaper Renmin Wang that India has always “cherished the dream of becoming a major power” but its social problems “are still very serious”.

Instead of wasting money on developing missiles, India “should do a better job in terms of [improving] the lives of ordinary people”, the newspaper said.

In an interview with the English-language China Daily, a senior researcher from the Academy of Military Science, Yao Yunzhu, said that the new missile is not a “significant breakthrough for India”.

Mr Yao said it was just “an improvement on the range” that in no way will change the “current military strength contrast between the two countries”.

Even commentators and analysts on CCTV‘s Global Watch programme on 19 April dismissed the strategic impact of the new missile launch.

Song Xiaojun, the editor of the Chinese Military Magazine, played down India’s military strength.

“Without an adequate tank corps and a heavy-duty land force with adequate heavy weapons, it can hardly become a so-called ‘China killer’ by relying solely on nuclear weapons,” he said.

Similar views were echoed by Gao Zugui of the Institute of International Strategic Studies, who said: “Despite giving a little support, it was right in saying that if it really wants to become a great nation, each of its families should have a toilet first.”

Hong Kong’s English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, on 20 April quipped that “India insists the missile – dubbed the ‘China killer’ in some of the country’s more colourful media – is only for deterrent purposes”.

But: “Amid a powder keg of security concerns and competition for energy resources as China’s rise transforms the political landscape, it poses a potential threat to regional stability and harmony.”