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American Resistance To Empire

Obama administration warns public to expect rise in US casualties

Obama administration warns public to expect rise in US casualties

• US forces to step up operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan
• Pakistani president tells US ambassador strikes ‘do not help war on terror’

Ewen MacAskill in Washington and Saeed Shah in Islamabad

The Obama administration warned the US public yesterday to brace itself for an increase in American casualties as it prepares to step up the fight against al-Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan.

Against a background of widespread protests in Pakistan and Afghanistan over US operations since Obama became president, the vice-president, Joe Biden, said yesterday that US forces would be engaged in many more operations as the US takes the fight to its enemies in the region.

The Obama administration is to double the number of US troops in Afghanistan to 60,000 and when asked in a television interview if the US public should expect more American casualties, Biden said: “I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick.”

Greater US involvement in Afghanistan is a political risk for Obama, with the danger that mounting American casualties could make the war as unpopular as Iraq. Obama, in his first military action as president, sanctioned two missile attacks inside Pakistan on Friday, killing 22 people, reportedly women and children among them. The attacks drew criticism from Pakistani officials at the weekend.
The Pakistani president, Asif Zardari, told the US ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, that the strikes “do not help the war on terror”. According to reports, he also warned her that “these attacks can affect Pakistan’s cooperation in the war on terror”.

A foreign ministry spokesman, Mohammad Sadiq, said: “With the advent of the new US administration, it is Pakistan’s sincere hope that the United States will review its policy and adopt a more holistic and integrated approach towards dealing with the issue of terrorism and extremism. We maintain that these [missile] attacks are counter-productive and should be discontinued.”

Biden, in an interview with CBS news, defended the strikes, saying that Obama had repeatedly said on the campaign trail he would not hesitate to strike against any high-level al-Qaida targets. He suggested cooperation between the US and Pakistani counter-terrorist agencies would increase, with more US training for Pakistani counterparts.

Over the last year, there have been at least 30 US missile attacks on Pakistan’s tribal area, which is used as a haven for insurgents fighting international troops in neighbouring Afghanistan.

On Sunday, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, condemned a separate US operation within Afghanistan that he said killed 16 Afghan civilians, prompting hundreds of villagers to demonstrate against the American military.

The US said the raid, on Saturday in Laghman province, killed 15 armed militants, including a woman with an rocket-propelled grenade. But Afghan officials said they killed civilians, including two women and three children. In Laghman’s capital, hundreds of protesters demanded an end to overnight raids.

Karzai warned the killing of innocent Afghans during US military operations was “strengthening the terrorists”. He also announced that his government had sent Washington a draft agreement that seeks to give Afghanistan more oversight over US military operations. The document has also been sent to Nato headquarters.

The death toll on Pakistan’s borders and within Afghanistan has caused widespread public anger, with resentment directed at the US, as well as the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments.

“It undermines the position of the government, its ability to negotiate [a peace deal] with the militants when the Taliban can say: ‘You’re not even master in your own house,'” said Ayaz Amir, a newspaper columnist and an opposition member of Pakistan’s parliament. “It undercuts the credibility of a government, whose credibility is already low.”

Some of the strikes in Pakistan have killed senior al-Qaida militants but they tend to live with local families in the tribal area, making civilian casualties inevitable – which are then used by the Taliban as a recruitment tool.

Rustam Shah Mohmand, an analyst who was formerly Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, said that Pakistan had leverage it could use, by stopping supplies to Nato troops in Afghanistan to pass through its territory or threatening to withdraw the Pakistani forces deployed along the Afghan border.”

“If anything, the policy [of missile strikes] is going to be more focused, more aggressive, under Obama. There is going to be a ‘surge’ in Afghanistan,” said Mohmand. “The Americans can’t wage this war without Pakistan’s assistance.”

Afghans protest against US strike casualties

Afghans protest against US strike casualties

Published: Sunday 25 January 2009 13:14 UTC
Last updated: Monday 26 January 2009 10:29 UTC

Thousands of people in the town of Mehtar Lam in eastern Afghanistan have taken to the streets in protest at Saturday’s US air strikes. The protesters say civilians were killed in the strikes. The US military says the victims were 15 Taliban fighters.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has expressed anger over the US failure to properly coordinate its attacks with his government. Mr Karzai said that the many civilian casualties in US operations undermine support for the Afghan government and only serve to win support for the terrorists.

Saudi patience is running out

Illustration: Dwynn Ronald V. Trazo/Gulf News

Saudi patience is running out

By Turki al-Faisal, Special to Gulf News
Published: January 24, 2009, 00:31

In my decades as a public servant, I have strongly promoted the Arab-Israeli peace process. During recent months, I argued that the peace plan proposed by Saudi Arabia could be implemented under an Obama administration if the Israelis and Palestinians both accepted difficult compromises. I told my audiences this was worth the energies of the incoming administration for, as the late Indian diplomat Vijaya Lakshmi Nehru Pandit said: “The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war.”

But after Israel launched its bloody attack on Gaza, these pleas for optimism and co-operation now seem a distant memory. In the past weeks, not only have the Israeli Defence Forces murdered more than 1,200 Palestinians, but they have come close to killing the prospect of peace itself. Unless the new US administration takes forceful steps to prevent any further suffering and slaughter of Palestinians, the peace process, the US-Saudi relationship and the stability of the region are at risk.

Prince Saud Al Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, told the UN Security Council that if there was no just settlement, “we will turn our backs on you”. King Abdullah spoke for the entire Arab and Muslim world when he said at the Arab summit in Kuwait that although the Arab peace initiative was on the table, it would not remain there for long. Much of the world shares these sentiments and any Arab government that negotiated with the Israelis today would be rightly condemned by its citizens. Two of the four Arab countries that have formal ties to Israel – Qatar and Mauritania – have suspended all relations and Jordan has recalled its ambassador.

America is not innocent in this calamity. Not only has the Bush administration left a sickening legacy in the region – from the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to the humiliation and torture at Abu Ghraib – but it has also, through an arrogant attitude about the butchery in Gaza, contributed to the slaughter of innocents. If the US wants to continue playing a leadership role in the Middle East and keep its strategic alliances intact – especially its “special relationship” with Saudi Arabia – it will have to drastically revise its policies vis a vis Israel and Palestine.

The incoming US administration will be inheriting a “basket full of snakes” in the region, but there are things that can be done to help calm them down. First, President Barack Obama must address the disaster in Gaza and its causes. Inevitably, he will condemn Hamas’s firing of rockets at Israel.

When he does that, he should also condemn Israel’s atrocities against the Palestinians and support a UN resolution to that effect; forcefully condemn the Israeli actions that led to this conflict, from colony building in the West Bank to the blockade of Gaza and the targeted killings and arbitrary arrests of Palestinians; declare America’s intention to work for a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction, with a security umbrella for countries that sign up and sanctions for those that do not; call for an immediate withdrawal of Israeli forces from Sheba’ Farms in Lebanon; encourage Israeli-Syrian negotiations for peace; and support a UN resolution guaranteeing Iraq’s territorial integrity.

Obama should strongly promote the Abdullah peace initiative, which calls on Israel to pursue the course laid out in various international resolutions and laws: to withdraw completely from the lands occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, returning to the lines of June 4 1967; to accept a mutually agreed just solution to the refugee problem according to the General Assembly resolution 194; and to recognise the independent state of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. In return, there would be an end to hostilities between Israel and all the Arab countries, and Israel would get full diplomatic and normal relations.

Recently, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran wrote a letter to King Abdullah, explicitly recognising Saudi Arabia as the leader of the Arab and Muslim worlds and calling on him to take a more confrontational role over “this obvious atrocity and killing of your own children” in Gaza. The communiqué is significant because the de facto recognition of the kingdom’s primacy from one of its most ardent foes reveals the extent that the war has united an entire region, both Shiite and Sunni. Further, Ahmadinejad’s call for Saudi Arabia to lead a jihad against Israel would, if pursued, create unprecedented chaos and bloodshed in the region.

So far, the kingdom has resisted these calls, but every day this restraint becomes more difficult to maintain. When Israel deliberately kills Palestinians, appropriates their lands, destroys their homes, uproots their farms and imposes an inhuman blockade on them; and as the world laments once again the suffering of the Palestinians, people of conscience from every corner of the world are clamouring for action. Eventually, the kingdom will not be able to prevent its citizens from joining the worldwide revolt against Israel.

Today, every Saudi is a Gazan, and we remember well the words of our late King Faisal: “I hope you will forgive my outpouring of emotions, but when I think that our Holy Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem is being invaded and desecrated, I ask God that if I am unable to undertake Holy Jihad, then I should not live a moment more.”

Let us all pray that Obama possesses the foresight, fairness, and resolve to rein in the murderous Israeli regime and open a new chapter in this most intractable of conflicts.

India signs pact with Kazakhstan for uranium supply

India signs pact with Kazakhstan for uranium supply

NEW DELHI: India on Saturday signed a civil nuclear pact with Kazakhstan under which the uranium-rich Central Asian country will supply much-needed fuel to atomic plants in the country.

India also signed four other pacts, including an Extradition Treaty, in the presence of President Pratibha Patil and her Kazakh counterpart Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Patil oversaw the proceedings of inking of the four pacts as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was indisposed.

Kazakhstan will provide uranium and related products under the Memorandum of Understanding between Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and KazAtomProm. The MoU was signed by NPCIL CMD S K Jain and KazAtomProm President Moukhtar Dzhakishev.

The MoU also opens up possibilities of joint exploration of uranium in Kazakhstan, which has the world’s second largest uranium reserves, and India building atomic power plants in the Central Asian country.

“These agreements are very important for the stature of our bilateral relations,” Nazarbayev told reporters in the capital.

External affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, who led the delegation level talks in absence of Singh, inked the Extradition Treaty with his Kazakh counterpart Marat Tazhin.

Minister of state of commerce Jairam Ramesh and Kazakh minister of trade and industry Vladimir Shkolnik signed the protocol on the accession of Kazakhstan to the World Trade Organisation.

An MoU was signed between ISRO and Kazakh Space Agency for space cooperation. ONGC Mittal Energy Limited also signed and agreement with state-run KazMunaiGas.

Hindu Moral Police/”Taliban”

India shamed and shocked by monsters of Mangalore

India has been shamed again. Goons of a right wing Hindu outfit Sri Ram Sena in Mangalore barged into a pub and beat up women over the weekend – in its latest round of moral policing.

Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has reacted to the incident in Mangalore saying those responsible will be taken to task. He said that the police has been given full authority to take appropriate measures.

The women’s only fault was that they were found in the pub. Members of the Sri Ram Sena, who carried out the attack, justified their shameful actions.

More than 15 people have been arrested for the vicious attack as outrage over the incident spreads across the country.

The miscreants have been sent to judicial custody till January 27 and have not been allowed bail. The miscreants have been charged with criminal assault, intimidation, outrage of modesty and criminal trespass.

About 40 men were involved in the attack. Among the arrested are the district secretary and the joint convenor of the Sri Ram Sena.

A special team has been set up to arrest those responsible for the attack. The incident took place over the weekend after the men, completely unrepentant, say they received complaints suggesting the women were dancing ‘obscenely’ in the pub and they decided to act.

The hooligans chased the girls out, attacked men who tried to protect them, there are also reports that the girls were molested.

“So far we have arrested some people and we are further investigating the situation, we will take strong action,” said A M Prasad, Inspector General, West Mangalore.

Talking to NDTV, Karnataka Home Minister VC Acharya said action was being taken against the perpetrators.

This is sadly not an isolated incident of groups taking the law into their own hands – churches and prayer halls around Mangalore were attacked just a few months ago over alleged conversions.

In Bangalore, rave parties on the outskirts of the city were raided – not by police – but by members of the Kannada Rakshana Vedike.

A state that once had a strong image of peace and tolerance seems to be heading in a very different direction now.

European Pipe Dream

Today and tomorrow the European pipeline consortium will meet in Budapest to find financing for their pipeline project that has little to no gas to be carried. The project is from of the neocon play book of dirty tricks to throw at Russia and China.  The American/NATO warlords have bet the farm on this project, using it as a form of economic warfare, intended to deny the Russians a large portion of their gas income.  The funny thing is that Russia is the only nation with the proven supplies necessary to charge these large pipelines.

Balkan pipeline may be in the making

The gas dispute between Russia and Ukraine has given fresh impetus to plans to build a pipeline through Turkey and the Balkans, bringing Central Asian gas to Western Europe. At the instigation of Hungary, European Union and Central Asian officials meet in Budapest on Tuesday to try to breathe new life into the 10-billion-euro ($12.96 billion) Nabucco scheme and reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas.

Gas dispute
Picture: DPA

The contract row between Moscow and Kiev led to a cut-off of supplies of Russian gas affecting millions of people in central Europe in early January.

“There isn’t a PR campaign in the world that could have given the Nabucco as much attention as the Russian-Ukrainian dispute did,“ Hungarian government spokeswoman Bernadett Budai, said. “This is the best opportunity in years to make progress.“

The Nabucco plan envisages piping gas 3,300 km (2,000 mile) from the Caspian region through Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary to a distribution hub in Austria. Nabucco aims to meet 5 percent of Europe’s gas needs.

Progress has been slow and insiders say any one of a series of obstacles could sink the project. Expectations are not high for Tuesday’s talks, which will be attended by consortium members Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Hungary, Romania and Turkey.

Also present will be Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, representing the EU presidency, as well as EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, government representatives from Azerbaijan and Iraq and corporate officials from Turkmenistan.

High on the list of difficulties are securing enough gas supplies and a dispute with Turkey over a demand by Ankara to keep a net 15 percent of the gas that would flow through the pipeline.

Turkey’s five partners want it to serve as a transit country that would not use any of the annual 30 billion cubic metres of gas the pipeline will eventually carry.

A Turkish energy official said last week Ankara expected to settle this, and other outstanding issues, in Budapest this week.

Turkey has also linked its support for Nabucco to its accession talks with the European Union.

During a visit to Brussels last week, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan threatened to reconsider support for Nabucco in response to a Cypriot veto over energy-related aspects of the accession talks. A few hours later, however, he said he would never use Nabucco as a weapon.

These disagreements with Turkey have hampered progress on a deal that would set out the long-term rules for the pipeline.

SOURCES OF GAS

However, Nabucco’s inability to secure enough sources of gas has been the biggest threat and critics say only Russia, which is planning its own rival scheme known as South Stream, has the gas and infrastructure to supply the pipeline.

Russian officials have expressed scepticism about its eventual success.

“Nabucco could be a monument to great ambitions and actions not thought through properly,“ Viktor Zubkov, Russia’s first deputy prime minister and Gazprom’s chairman said when asked in Budapest at the weekend if Nabucco could survive without Russian gas.

Without gas supplies and no deal between member governments, the pipeline’s financing is still in doubt.

Banks are unwilling to come up with cash until an inter-governmental agreement is signed, long-term conditions are established and supplies are secured.

However, potential suppliers, such as Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan are reluctant to sign up until financing is in place and the pipeline has been built.

Iran, which has indicated its willingness to provide gas, is diplomatically not acceptable while Iraq’s infrastructure is far from adequate, experts say.

Nabucco’s shareholders — who include Austria’s OMV, MOL of Hungary, Romania’s Transgaz, Bulgargaz, Turkey’s Botas and RWE of Germany — have said the EU should provide guarantees or prefinancing to persuade suppliers and banks that Nabucco is viable.

Two terrorists killed in police encounter at Noida (of course they are Pakistani!)

IS THIS THE ATTACK THAT WILL TRIGGER THE “COLD START” OPTION?

Two terrorists killed in police encounter at Noida

Ashok Kumar

NOIDA: Two suspected Pakistani terrorists allegedly planning to target the Republic Day celebrations in Delhi were killed in a gun battle with the Uttar Pradesh police in Sector 97 here on Sunday.

Two AK-47 assault rifles, four magazines, 120 rounds of ammunition, five hand-grenades, nine suspected RDX rods, detonators and Rs.18,000 in cash have been seized.

The 30-minute encounter, a joint operation of the U.P. Anti-Terrorist Squad and the Noida police, took place in an open plot around 2-30 a.m. The terrorists, travelling in a white Maruti car, opened fire at the ATS team when asked to stop, leading to an exchange of fire. Both the terrorists sustained bullet injuries and were declared brought dead at a hospital.

ATS constable Vinod Kumar also sustained a bullet injury in his leg and is recuperating. “While being taken to hospital, one of the terrorists identified himself as Farooq, a resident of Okara in Pakistan, and his companion as Abu Ismail from Rawalkot in PoK,” said a senior police officer.