A US-Pakistan deal to reopen a key NATO supply route through Pakistan, closed for nearly six months, would raise the cost of the war effort in Afghanistan by about $365 million annually.
By Saeed Shah, McClatchy Newspapers / May 16, 2012
The cost of the US-led war effort in Afghanistan is about to rise by $365 million annually under an agreement that would reopen a key NATO supply route through Pakistan that’s been closed for nearly six months.
The accord, which the Pakistani government announced late Tuesday, would revive the transport of vital supplies of food and equipment from Pakistani ports overland to land-locked Afghanistan.
In return, the US-led coalition will pay Pakistan a still-to-be-fixed fee of $1,500 to $1,800 for each truck carrying supplies, a tab that officials familiar with negotiations estimated would run nearly $1 million a day. The officials requested anonymity because they weren’t authorized to reveal details of the agreement.
Pakistan closed the land route to supplies headed to the coalition after American aircraft mistakenly attacked two Pakistani border outposts Nov. 26, killing 24 Pakistani soldiers. Since then, supplies for coalition forces in Afghanistan have passed through one of two routes that stretch from Afghanistan through central Asia and Siberia to Georgia on the Black Sea. One of the routes is nearly 6,000 miles long. The Pakistan route is less than 500 miles.
Officials in Washington said they didn’t know how much of the new cost the United States would bear. As the United States contributes more than two-thirds of the 130,000-strong international force, which operates under the command of NATO, it’s expected that Washington will pay most of the new fee.
What Pakistan supplies in return
In return, the US is asking Pakistan to provide security for the supplies, which are trucked through the country by private local transport companies, and much speedier clearance of customs and checkpoints. Militants and robbers frequently attack trucks carrying NATO goods. No effective security had been provided in the past.
“Security is the most important thing we require for swift transportation to be sustained,” said Nadeem Khan, the chief executive of Raaziq International, one of the major Pakistani companies involved in carrying NATO supplies. “That is the least that the (Pakistani) government can provide us as taxpayers.”
Before the Pakistan route was suspended, 30 percent of coalition supplies passed through the country, according to the Pentagon.
Reopening the route could be key to plans by NATO forces to end their combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, a goal that would require the US and other countries to move equipment out of Afghanistan to Pakistani ports.
American and Pakistani negotiators are still haggling over details of the new supply agreement. A definitive deal is likely by early next week.
600 trucks a day
The NATO traffic in and out of Afghanistan through Pakistan is anticipated to be as many as 600 trucks a day between now and the end of next year.
Until now, Pakistan, which joined the United States as an ally in invading Afghanistan after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, has charged only nominal fees for shipments to US-led forces. But the new charge is considered a Pakistani effort to assert itself in its relationship with Washington, which suffered a series of serious setbacks last year, beginning with a CIA contractor’s shooting of two Pakistani civilians in January, continuing with the May raid that found and killed Osama bin Ladenin Abbottabad, Pakistan, and ending with the border outpost attack.
Late Tuesday, after a meeting of Pakistan’s top civilian and military officials in Islamabad, the prime minister’s office confirmed that the NATO supply route, known as GLOC or Ground Lines of Communications, would be reopened, subject to final negotiations.
The meeting “authorized officers of relevant ministries/departments to conclude the ongoing negotiation on the new terms and conditions for resumption of GLOCs,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.
No apology necessary?
In a major climb-down, Pakistan dropped its demand that Washington apologize for the deaths due to the November raids. There was also no agreement to end controversial strikes by American drone aircraft against suspected militants in Pakistan’s tribal area, as demanded by a cross-party resolution of Pakistan’s Parliament.
The statement added that “the Ministry of Foreign Affairs would continue to remain engaged with the government of the United States on other parliamentary recommendations, including the question of apology and cessation of drone attacks.”
The other major point of contention, on which no accord was announced, is the money that the United States owes Pakistan under the Coalition Support Funds program that reimburses Islamabad for the cost of guarding its western frontier with Afghanistan. According to Pakistani security officials, Pakistan is owed more than $2 billion and hasn’t received a payment for two years.
Earlier Tuesday, NATO formally invited Pakistan to attend a meeting of the military alliance that begins Saturday in Chicago. The invitation had been held up because of the closure of the supply line.
Shah is a McClatchy special correspondent.
The Bank of England has cut its growth forecast for this year to 0.8% from 1.2%, saying the eurozone “storm” is still the main threat to UK recovery.
The eurozone was “tearing itself apart” and the UK would not be “unscathed”, said its governor Sir Mervyn King.
He also confirmed that the Bank has been making contingency plans for the break-up of the euro.
The rate of inflation will remain above the government’s 2% target “for the next year or so”, the Bank said.
Sir Mervyn was presenting the Bank’s quarterly inflation report.
He told a news conference that the euro area posed the greatest threat to the UK recovery, and there was a “risk of a storm heading our way from the continent”.
“We have been through a big global financial crisis, the biggest downturn in world output since the 1930s, the biggest banking crisis in this country’s history, the biggest fiscal deficit in our peacetime history, and our biggest trading partner, the euro area, is tearing itself apart without any obvious solution.
“The idea that we could reasonably hope to sail serenely through this with growth close to the long-run average and inflation at 2% strikes me as wholly unrealistic,” Sir Mervyn said.
Andrew Balls, the managing director in London of global investment firm Pimco, said it was reasonable for Sir Mervyn and other policymakers to plan for a Greek exit.
“Yes, maybe they should plan for an exit, but the thing is, speculating about it can make the event more likely, so the Europeans really do have a mess there,” he told the BBC.
“If Greece is to slide out of the euro and collapse, how are they going to protect Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy?”
Separately, Prime Minister David Cameron also spoke of the financial storm clouds across Europe, warning that eurozone leaders must act swiftly to solve its debt crisis or face the consequences of a potential break up.
He said during Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons: “The eurozone has to make a choice. If the eurozone wants to continue as it is, then it has got to build a proper firewall, it has got to take steps to secure the weakest members of the eurozone, or it’s going to have to work out it has to go in a different direction,
“It either has to make up or it is looking at a potential break up. That is the choice they have to make, and it is a choice they cannot long put off.”
The Bank’s report said, however, that the eurozone crisis was not the only issue weighing on the UK economy, with volatile energy and commodity costs, and the squeeze on household earnings also having an impact.
It all meant that the UK economy would not return to pre-financial crisis levels before 2014, Sir Mervyn said.
Nevertheless, he remained optimistic about the longer term. “We don’t know when the storm clouds will move away. But there are good reasons to believe that growth will recover and inflation will fall back,” he said.
On quantitative easing, he said that no decisions had been made whether or not to continue pumping money into the economy. The last stimulus programme was still “working its way through the system”.
‘Outlook is probably better’
Sir Mervyn’s comments came on the day that official unemployment figures showed a fall in the jobless rate, underlining recent surveys that the private sector had become more confident about hiring labour.
He said the fall in joblessness was consistent with the expected gradual recovery in the UK economy.
But Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said of the Bank’s report: “Talk about kicking an economy when it’s down.
“On top of the euro crisis and a double-dip recession, the Bank of England is now saying inflation may not fall fast enough to permit more quantitative easing.
“Actually we think the inflation outlook is probably better than the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) thinks, with the impact of the euro crisis, declining real incomes and weak money supply growth suggesting inflationary pressures may recede later this year and into 2013.
“After many years of underestimating inflationary pressure let’s hope the MPC is now making the opposite mistake by overestimating it”.
Ed Balls, Labour’s shadow chancellor, said: “The Bank of England has once again slashed its growth forecast for Britain, but despite this the government says it will just plough on regardless with policies that are hurting but not working.
“The governor is right to warn of a coming storm from Europe. That is why we warned George Osborne not to rip up the foundations of the house and choke off Britain’s recovery with spending cuts and tax rises that go too far and too fast.
“What happens in the eurozone in the coming weeks and months will have an impact on our weakened economy,” Mr Balls added.
Of course YouTube pulls it because of content. Liveleak has it, but my Vodpod account no longer works because of a corporate takeover. Screenshots from the video are below. Notice the one with the sick bastard using a garden rake to move a corpse onto the banner left at the scene–The banner read–
“esto va para todos los golfos, chapos, marinos, huachos y gobiernos nadie nos va poder hacer nada se la van a pelar
Atte: loco, z40 y comandante lazcano,” “this goes for all the gulfs, chapos, marine, and government outcasts no one is going to do anything it will peel
Attn: crazy, Z40 and commander Lazcano>”
“this video was originally posted on YouTube under a title “Zetas tirando cadaveres Cadereyta Nuevo Leon” (Zetas pulling corpses Cadereyta Nuevo Leon) by a person who claimed to be a Zeta himself. Since the video was clearly filmed by a person who was there when bodies were dumped, self proclaiming himself a Zeta would mean it was Los Zetas who killed those people.”
Los Zetas promptly hung banners over several overpasses, denying responsibility.
As reported previously, the group placed the Zetas several narcobanners in San Luis Potosi, confirming that also appeared in Zacatecas. In narcomensaje point out that the authorities of Nuevo Leon are wrong, and disclaim the slaughter of Cadereyta.
The Zetas asked the authorities in Nuevo Leon get to work and to investigate it, especialmene Javier del Real, Jorge Domene and Adrian de la Garza, officials.
In the narcobanners also ask the Federal Government to investigate either the finding of 49 chests in the town of Cadereyta, Nuevo Leon.
Following is the full text of the narcobanners:
O jo Javier del Real, Jorge Domene, Adrian de la Garza Zetas Group disclaims all 49 quartered in Nuevo Leon and ask them before chequen blame us well INVESTIGATE. Do your job as it should. Not just because they go and pull a truck with a message body Zetas, are not going to continue doing their job. And to make things easy to press conferences are taking place. And so are removed and your responsibility to investigate. Gentlemen are not fools who did that want to take responsibility for that. For example, when we put blankets say “The Sluts” and they get “Gulf”. Gentlemen do not be silly not to analyze things and to do their job easier.And to remove the package that and also please think about us if we’d miss it costs us tirárselos in Reynosa? They threw them in Nuevo Leon because it is ground from us. Srs are silly, or they follow the current. Investigate disclaim those 49 dead. Only the 9 Jalisco and Nuevo Laredo hanged if we accept our responsibility and in the blanket of Nuevo Laredo pay attention and says chequen Sluts and all that we have and say Sluts. We invite you to do their job and do not solve without research work already asshole just to take his responsibility. For that you solved the problem were the Zetas. Or how many detainees have to say they are the Zetas. What say you killed them. They have neither the will nor, for that we were not we ask FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO INVESTIGATE THINGS “.
Led by the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the Geneva meet is a multi-stakeholder discussion platform on Internet governance structures.
Move to form body with 50 governments to oversee internet governance
The raging controversy over possible excessive state regulation of the internet based on the IT Rules 2011 is now likely to be dwarfed by discussions in Geneva later this week over India’s proposal to the United Nations General Assembly, for government control of the Internet.
Led by the Commission on Science and Technology for Development, the Geneva meet is a multi-stakeholder discussion platform on Internet governance structures.
In its proposal submitted to the General Assembly in New York on October 26, 2011, India has argued for a radical shift from the present model of multi-stakeholder led decision-making, to a purely government-run multilateral body that would relegate civil society, private sector, international organisations as well as technical and academic groups to the fringes in an advisory role. The proposal has been floated sans any public consultation, despite the move impacting the country’s 800 million mobile and 100 million Internet users.
India is pushing for the creation of a forum called ‘Committee for Internet Related Policies’ (CIRP) to develop internet policies, oversee all internet standards bodies and policy organizations, negotiate internet-related treaties and sit in judgment when internet-related disputes come up. The catch is that India’s formal proposal is for CIRP to be funded by the U.N., run by staff from the U.N.’s Conference on Trade and Development arm and report directly to the U.N. General Assembly, which means it will be entirely controlled by the U.N.’s member states.
At present, the Internet is governed by a voluntary, multi-stakeholder group called ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, which keeps the Internet free and, for the most part, decentralized. ICANN already has a Government Advisory Council (GAC), which invites participation from governments across the world, including India. ICANN is headquartered in California, essentially because the Internet was born in the US. Control by the US government over its governance was eventually handed over to non-profits during President Clinton’s tenure.
India’s proposal could prove controversial for multi-stakeholder communities within the country and across the world, since it entails moving away from the prevailing democratic ‘equal say’ process for internet governance to one in which governments would be front and centre, receiving advice from stakeholders and deciding the way forward.
Ironically, India’s move to establish government control over the internet came within months of Anna Hazare’s success in gathering large crowds at the Ram Lila grounds in August 2011 – a part of which was fuelled by the internet and social media. By early October, Mr. Hazare powered up his campaign further by blogging, tweeting and launching a Facebook profile to connect with his supporters.
The government of India’s statement is amusingly defensive, going into some detail to clarify that its proposals ‘should not be viewed as an attempt by governments to take over and regulate and circumscribe the Internet’. It also naively declares that the move addresses the need for ‘quick footed and timely global solutions and policies’. How a 50-member inter-governmental process lodged within the UN bureaucracy, which will meet once every year for two working weeks in Geneva, can respond to decisions that need to be made quickly is unclear.
In response to a detailed questionnaire sent by The Hindu, the Ministry of External Affairs, directing the queries to the Department of Information Technology (DIT) said, “The Indian position on global Internet governance is determined and guided by the DIT. The Department’s instructions for India’s position at the upcoming meeting in Geneva are still awaited”. This lack of clarity is despite the fact that the global discussion is scheduled for May 18, just three days away. The DIT did not respond to The Hindu’s queries despite repeated reminders.
India’s move could be guided by apprehensions over Western governments’ proximity to ICANN. While experts say this must be addressed, it certainly must not be at the cost of making the Internet a hostage to 50-odd governments.
Russia and China, along with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan have already declared extreme positions for government control over the Internet. Last year, Vladimir Putin, who was Russian Prime Minister at the time, stated his goal, to impose ‘international control over the Internet’ through the International Telecom Union, a treaty-based organisation under the auspices of the U.N.. Echoing this view, Houlin Zhao, Director of the ITU’s Telecommunications Standardization Bureau and a former Chinese government official said, “The whole world is looking to a better solution to internet governance, unwilling to maintain the current situation.” Before this, China, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan had introduced a UN General Assembly resolution proposing a ‘code of conduct’ for the global information society.
Though less extreme, India’s proposal appears to be a definite shift towards state control rather than a participative model.
India’s proposal may also garner support in Geneva from South Africa and Brazil as part of ‘enhanced cooperation’. With governments around the world spooked by the power of social media and the Internet, which led to the Arab Spring, a wave of demonstrations and protests in the Arab world that toppled decades of dictatorship in countries like Egypt and Libya, it is even possible that India may find passive backing of many governments under the garb of ‘fighting cyber crime and unrest’.
Graphics by Alex
It might require a semanticist with Noam Chomsky’s erudition to explain to some of us more obtuse the meanings, context and policy nuances of two similar and repeated phases heard in Lebanon earlier this month by two well listened to guests . During over-lapping visits of top US and Iranian officials to Lebanon; one warned and threatened Lebanon, while the second praised Lebanon’s “achievements”. Admittedly, divining these Lebanese ‘achievements” is no mean task.
Making the front page lead paragraph in a number of Beirut and Middle East dailies last Friday were nearly simultaneous summations by the two visitors as they articulated their country’s policy toward Lebanon.
One visitor was Jeffrey Feltman, the long serving US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, who for all intents and purposes in still US Ambassador to Lebanon and elsewhere in the Levant. Mr. Feltman is well known in Lebanon and many here actually view him as a too frequent visitor, who rather like the Li’l Abner comic strip character Joe Btfsplk, personifies the World’s worst jinx who always travels with a dark cloud over his head. Assistant Secretary Feltman repeated his seven year mantra during a meeting with Prime Minister Najib Mikati, of warnings for the Lebanese government and citizens to break with Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran.
On the arguably more positive side, as he had so many times in the past, Assistant Secretary Feltman renewed the United States’ commitment to “a stable, sovereign and independent Lebanon”. And he repeated these words to the President of the Chamber of Deputies Speaker Nabih Berri, Progressive Socialist Party Leader MP Walid Jumblatt, Lebanese Forces Party President Samir Geagea, Maronite Bishop of Beirut Boulous Matar, and March 14 politicians. All of whom presumably hear the words in their sleep by now as all visiting US officials repeat Feltman’s buzz words.
A few hours earlier, another visitor, the Iranian First Vice President, Mohammad Rida Rahimi, having arrived in Lebanon in a bid to implement agreements signed between both countries, some since 1996, pledged Iran’s commitment to Lebanon’s “freedom, independence and sovereignty”.
The two gentlemen used 67% of the same key words but their meanings appear vastly different and that’s why some of us, certainly this observer, could use some help from a serious student of the subject.
Feltman told his interlocutors that he came to Lebanon to express his country’s “grave concern” on a number of issues including Hezbollah and its links with Iran and Syria. He also gave instructions on next year’s parliamentary elections which his team, the March 14 opposition, has threatened to boycott. If they do, according to some analysts here, their decision will have resulted from Feltman’s instructions.
The Beirut Daily, As-Safir, reported that Feltman’s sole purpose was to lash out at Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah.
And he did.
Feltman repeatedly warned that “if some sides in Lebanon seek to circumvent the sanctions on Iran then the Lebanese government will face “very serious complicated problems with the international community. The IC is increasing defined as US allies.
During his meeting at the obsequious and literally genuflecting pro-Saudi MP Boutros Harb’s house, whose front page photograph showed the MP bowing deeply to Feltman,threatened that “the United States is keen not to allow any exploitation of the bank secrecy in Lebanon, in order to bypass the sanctions on Iran, Hezbollah, and Syria. This enters deep into US strategy.”
Feltman’s threats continued as he sought to pressure businessmen in Syria and Lebanon: “Not abiding by the US and International sanctions will have dangerous repercussions on the Lebanese banking sector.” More than once Feltman warned the Lebanese, with reference to the recent unilateral sanctions imposed on the Central Bank of Iran, not to underestimate the American capacity to monitor and trace deposits and transfers. Most Lebanese are generally aware that US Treasury officials have been swarming Lebanon the past two years in order to intimidate Lebanon’s banking sector and shore up the failing US sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
While Feltman was busy so was Iranian First Vice-President Rahimi who signed three memorandums of understanding agreed upon in previous meetings.
During his meetings, the Iranian first Vice President stressed his country’s “total support for Lebanon on the political, economic, and development levels.”
According to sources attending the Joint Lebanese-Iranian Higher Committee meeting, Rahimi discussed Iranian support to Lebanon on the oil, electricity, economic, trade, and agricultural levels, in addition to Iran’s interest in constructing water dams.
To give credence to his words, Rahimi presented a $40 million grant Iranian $40 million grant to finance dam in the Batroun region. He further announced that as the agreement’s executive program has been signed in both Tehran and Beirut, Iranian engineers will soon arrive in Lebanon to begin a project that the American government has discussed since the late 1970’s but has always conditioned US help to Lebanon on “better relations” with Israel.
On the subject of Israel, which is said to deeply concern Feltman, one American stringer for a major US daily who was covering the two envoys visit noted that Embassy sources advised that Feltman was in a bad mood during part of his visit for a few reasons. One was because he was not advised of the Iranian Vice-Presidents simultaneous visit.
“The Most Beautiful Promise” Is Fulfilled,
People Return Home with Dignity
Another was because he not told about the May 12th celebrations organized by Hezbollah and Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah speech that were sure to dominate a news cycle. The Hezbollah mass event was to acknowledge the success of its building and construction unit, WAAD (‘promise), in completing after nearly four years of nearly 24/7 rebuilding, 275 high rise apartment buildings housing more than ten thousand citizens in South Beirut.
The destruction was caused by American weapons in the hands of Zionist forces and destroyed with carpet bombing of Dahiyeh/Haret Hreik neighborhoods during the 33 days of the July 2006 aggression against Lebanon. Feltman complained that there were American citizens who were tenets in some of the recently completed buildings that cost more than $ 450 million to rebuild, despite both Hezbollah and its construction company, Jihad al Binna being put on US terrorism lists at his initiative. He reportedly demanded an investigation.
According to the same sources, Assistant Secretary Feltman was grousing over discouraging reports that another one of his projects, this one to salvage Camp David, was experiencing turbulence.
Specifically, he was briefed that the current front runner in the May 23-24 Egyptian Presidential election, Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, has branded Israel a “racist state” and repeated to cheering crowds that the 1979 peace treaty with Israel was “a national security threat” that had to be scrapped and added that Israel and its supporters were “enemies of the Egyptian people.”
To make matters and his mood worse, the American Assistant Secretary was informed that another strong Egyptian presidential candidate, Ahmed Shafiq is exciting crowds with his campaign claim that the former air force chief had shot down two Israeli planes during the War of Attrition which Egypt declared between 1969 and 1970. “General Ahmed Shafiq has a great military record and career,” his campaign statement said.
Priding himself on being an adherent of realpolitik, Feltman is observing Israel being rejected by Arabs, Muslims and increasingly by the grounding swelling movement by people of good will including his own countrymen. He reportedly told one interviewer recently that he sees his role as “trying to staunch thecoming tsunami of global rejection and delegitimization of Israel, and it’s not going to be easy.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s Vice-President Rahimi’s program included a meeting with Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah, and a visit to the hugely popular with many Lebanese families, “Iran” Gardens in the southern village of Maroun al-Ras located on Lebanon’s borders with occupied Palestine. From this hillside vantage point, on a clear day one can see Akka and other ethnically cleansed areas.
Similar words from Washington and Tehran to Beirut via experienced envoys. But fundamentally different approaches and deeds as has so often has been the case over the past decade.
Washington has, in important strategic respects, handed Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and soon more of the Persian Gulf countries to Iran’s rising presence and influence.
Next is likely Lebanon.
Can Palestine be far behind?
Source: Al-Manar Website
14-05-2012 – 10:11 Last updated 14-05-2012 – 10:11
Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon. He is reachable c\o email@example.com
He is the author of The Price We Pay: A Quarter-Century of Israel’s Use of American Weapons Against Civilians in Lebanon.
He contribute to Uprooted Palestinians Blog
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