The Data Beast

As the corruption spread throughout our society in the 1990’s, I was forced by circumstance to estimate how the operations of systemic physical and financial violence in our society work. How is so much financial fraud engineered? How was it millions of Americans went along with a housing and debt bubble that bankrupted us? What about the distribution of narcotics into every community in America in ways that are invisible to most people? How is $500 billion – $1 trillion of the proceeds of mortgage and financial fraud, drug sales and other illegal businesses laundered through the US financial system with rarely a peep from the network news?

In the drugging and bankrupting of America, I kept coming back to the importance of building proprietary or secret databases and information systems to support your operations. Such operations are quite expensive, which is part of the beauty of having governments pay private companies and banks to collect and maintain such data, which can then be secretly aggregated and applied. What looks like many different government agencies with diverse purposes, is really a few large defense contractors and banks building and maintaining vast databases that are easily aggregated in powerful ways.

—Excerpt from Part III

This article originally appeared as a six-part series on the Catherine Austin Fitts Blog.

Catherine Austin Fitts served as Assistant Secretary of Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner in the first Bush Administration. Her company Hamilton Securities Group served as lead financial advisor to the Federal Housing Administration during the Clinton Administration. She is a former managing director and member of the board of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon, Read & Co. Inc.  (more here)

UN Envoy: Gaza Op Seems to be War Crime of Greatest Magnitude

UN Envoy: Gaza Op Seems to be War Crime of Greatest Magnitude

By News Agencies

March 20, 2009 “Haaretz” — -A United Nations human rights investigator said on Thursday that Israel’s offensive against Hamas in densely populated Gaza appeared to constitute a war crime of the “greatest magnitude.”

Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, said the Geneva Conventions required warring forces to distinguish between military targets and surrounding civilians.

“If it is not possible to do so, then launching the attacks is inherently unlawful and would seem to constitute a war crime of the greatest magnitude under international law,” Falk said.

“On the basis of the preliminary evidence available, there is reason to reach this conclusion,” he wrote in an annual report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Falk called for an independent experts group to be set up to probe possible war crimes committed by both Israeli forces and Hamas.

Violations included Israel’s alleged “targeting of schools, mosques and ambulances” during the December 27-January 18 offensive and its use of weapons including white phosphorus, as well as Hamas firing of rockets at civilian targets in southern Israel.

Falk said that Israel’s blockade of the coastal strip of 1.5 million people violated the Geneva Conventions, which he said suggested further war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity.

The aggression was not legally justified and may represent a “crime against peace” – a principle established at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi criminals, according to the American law professor who serves as the Human Rights Council’s independent investigator.

He further suggested that the Security Council might set up an ad hoc criminal tribunal to establish accountability for war crimes in Gaza, noting Israel has not signed the Rome statutes establishing the International Criminal Court.

Rights group names 1,417 Gaza war dead; Israel disputes toll

A Palestinian human rights group has released the names of 1,417 Gazans it says were killed in Israel’s recent war on the Palestinian territory’s Hamas rulers.

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights said Thursday that of those killed, 926 were civilians, 236 were combatants and 255 were members of the Palestinian security forces.

Most of the policemen were killed in a series of Israeli bombing attacks on Hamas security compounds on December 27, the first day of the war.

The group says it has investigated every civilian death. The list is posted on the center’s Web site.

Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev disputes the findings. He says Israel is working on its own list and contends that most of those killed were combatants or legitimate targets.

Thirteen Israelis were killed during the 22-day Gaza operation.

USA Has Two Options To Save its Economy: Declare Default or Trigger War

USA Has Two Options To Save its Economy:

Declare Default or Trigger War

By Ekaterina Yevstigneyeva

March 20, 2009 “Pravda.Ru” — – The United States is the largest borrower in the world. The US national debt has already exceeded the level of 11 trillion dollars as of the beginning of 2009 and continues to grow like an avalanche. Experts say that the USA has only two ways to solve the problem: to either declare default or trigger off a war.

According to experts’ estimates, the probability of default on US treasury bonds is very high at the moment. The rumors are not new at all. Moreover, experts say that the USA has already started to work on an opportunity to refuse from the dollar in order to avoid debt payments.

Dmitry Abzalov, an expert with the Center for Russia ’s Political Conjuncture, said that governments currently take on the debts of corporations. “The corporate debts crisis thus becomes the crisis of governmental debts. The US debt in the beginning of 2009 amounted to $10.6 trillion. Taking into consideration the current deficit budget of the United States , as well as the prospects for the deficit of the budget during the current year, it becomes clear that the US Treasury bond market is based on no alternative whatsoever. There is no other way for investors to invest their funds with treasury bonds being the only option,” the expert told

When the world economy recovers, investors will realize that there are plenty of other opportunities for investments, the European bonds, for example (if the European economy recovers from the crisis too, of course), or the bonds of developing countries.

“The pyramid of US bonds will collapse in this case. The debt percentage grows every day, which makes the USA borrow more and more on a daily basis. America will have no chances to pay off the debt,” the expert said.

Inga Foksha, an analyst with Aton Investment Company, agrees that the US default is quite possible, although she is certain that it will not happen unless the world finds an alternative to the US dollar. The dollar will collapse immediately in case of default, which is absolutely unacceptable, because 63 percent of world reserves are saved in dollars. Their collapse will trigger the global economic collapse.

“Technically, the default of the United States may occur during three or five years, although it is too early to say that it could be possible. The USA can print new dollars to pay their debts with them,” she said.

Nevertheless, the US government bonds still enjoy investors’ support and are still considered a risk-free investment.

Dmitry Abzalov believes that the current situation with the US national debt may end with a new war. The war will destroy excessive liquidity and the current debt.

“The war in Iraq began to delay the US crisis, which started brewing in the US economy at the end of 2000,” he said.

The Americans have been trying to raise their economy with the help of military actions for decades, since the Great Depression of the 1930s. A war boosts the nation’s industry, even if a recovery is based on defense orders.

Ekaterina Yevstigneyeva

Remembering the 1999 NATO led War on Yugoslavia: Kosovo “Freedom Fighters” Financed by Organized Crime

Remembering the 1999 NATO led War on Yugoslavia: Kosovo “Freedom Fighters” Financed by Organized Crime

Michel Chossudovsky

March 19, 2009

Ten years ago, March 24th 1999, marks the commencement of NATO aerial bombardment of Yugoslavia. The bombings which lasted for almost three months, were followed by the military invasion (under a bogus UN mandate) and illegal occupation of  the province of Kosovo.

The following article was written and published in April 1999.

Michel Chossudovsky, March 19, 2009

Heralded by the global media as a humanitarian peace-keeping mission, NATO’s ruthless bombing of Belgrade and Pristina goes far beyond the breach of international law. While Slobodan Milosevic is demonised, portrayed as a remorseless dictator, the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is upheld as a self-respecting nationalist movement struggling for the rights of ethnic Albanians. The truth of the matter is that the KLA is sustained by organised crime with the tacit approval of the United States and its allies.

Following a pattern set during the War in Bosnia, public opinion has been carefully misled. The multibillion dollar Balkans narcotics trade has played a crucial role in “financing the conflict” in Kosovo in accordance with Western economic, strategic and military objectives. Amply documented by European police files, acknowledged by numerous studies, the links of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) to criminal syndicates in Albania, Turkey and the European Union have been known to Western governments and intelligence agencies since the mid-1990s.

“…The financing of the Kosovo guerilla war poses critical questions and it sorely test claims of an “ethical” foreign policy. Should the West back a guerilla army that appears to partly financed by organised crime.” 1

While KLA leaders were shaking hands with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Rambouillet, Europol (the European Police Organization based in the Hague) was “preparing a report for European interior and justice ministers on a connection between the KLA and Albanian drug gangs.”2 In the meantime, the rebel army has been skilfully heralded by the global media (in the months preceding the NATO bombings) as broadly representative of the interests of ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.

With KLA leader Hashim Thaci (a 29 year “freedom fighter”) appointed as chief negotiator at Rambouillet, the KLA has become the de facto helmsman of the peace process on behalf of the ethnic Albanian majority and this despite its links to the drug trade. The West was relying on its KLA puppets to rubber-stamp an agreement which would have transformed Kosovo into an occupied territory under Western Administration.

Ironically Robert Gelbard, America’s special envoy to Bosnia, had described the KLA last year as “terrorists”. Christopher Hill, America’s chief negotiator and architect of the Rambouillet agreement “has also been a strong critic of the KLA for its alleged dealings in drugs.”3 Moreover, barely a few two months before Rambouillet, the US State Department had acknowledged (based on reports from the US Observer Mission) the role of the KLA in terrorising and uprooting ethnic Albanians:

“…the KLA harass or kidnap anyone who comes to the police, … KLA representatives had threatened to kill villagers and burn their homes if they did not join the KLA [a process which has continued since the NATO bombings]… [T]he KLA harassment has reached such intensity that residents of six villages in the Stimlje region are “ready to flee.” 4

While backing a “freedom movement” with links to the drug trade, the West seems also intent in bypassing the civilian Kosovo Democratic League and its leader Ibrahim Rugova who has called for an end to the bombings and expressed his desire to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Yugoslav authorities.5 It is worth recalling that a few days before his March 31st Press Conference, Rugova had been reported by the KLA (alongside three other leaders including Fehmi Agani) to have been killed by the Serbs.

Covert Financing of “Freedom Fighters”

Remember Oliver North and the Contras? The pattern in Kosovo is similar to other CIA covert operations in Central America, Haiti and Afghanistan where “freedom fighters” were financed through the laundering of drug money. Since the onslaught of the Cold War, Western intelligence agencies have developed a complex relationship to the illegal narcotics trade. In case after case, drug money laundered in the international banking system has financed covert operations.

According to author Alfred McCoy, the pattern of covert financing was established in the Indochina war. In the 1960s, the Meo army in Laos was funded by the narcotics trade as part of Washington’s military strategy against the combined forces of the neutralist government of Prince Souvanna Phouma and the Pathet Lao.6

The pattern of drug politics set in Indochina has since been replicated in Central America and the Caribbean. “The rising curve of cocaine imports to the US”, wrote journalist John Dinges “followed almost exactly the flow of US arms and military advisers to Central America”.7

The military in Guatemala and Haiti, to which the CIA provided covert support, were known to be involved in the trade of narcotics into Southern Florida. And as revealed in the Iran-Contra and Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI) scandals, there was strong evidence that covert operations were funded through the laundering of drug money. “Dirty money” recycled through the banking system–often through an anonymous shell company– became “covert money,” used to finance various rebel groups and guerilla movements including the Nicaraguan Contras and the Afghan Mujahadeen. According to a 1991 Time Magazine report:

“Because the US wanted to supply the mujehadeen rebels in Afghanistan with stinger missiles and other military hardware it needed the full cooperation of Pakistan. By the mid-1980s, the CIA operation in Islamabad was one of the largest US intelligence stations in the World. `If BCCI is such an embarrassment to the US that forthright investigations are not being pursued it has a lot to do with the blind eye the US turned to the heroin trafficking in Pakistan’, said a US intelligence officer.8

America and Germany join Hands

Since the early 1990s, Bonn and Washington have joined hands in establishing their respective spheres of influence in the Balkans. Their intelligence agencies have also collaborated. According to intelligence analyst John Whitley, covert support to the Kosovo rebel army was established as a joint endeavour between the CIA and Germany’s Bundes Nachrichten Dienst (BND) (which previously played a key role in installing a right wing nationalist government under Franjo Tudjman in Croatia).9 The task to create and finance the KLA was initially given to Germany: “They used German uniforms, East German weapons and were financed, in part, with drug money”.10 According to Whitley, the CIA was, subsequently instrumental in training and equipping the KLA in Albania.11

The covert activities of Germany’s BND were consistent with Bonn’s intent to expand its “Lebensraum” into the Balkans. Prior to the onset of the civil war in Bosnia, Germany and its Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher had actively supported secession; it had “forced the pace of international diplomacy” and pressured its Western allies to recognize Slovenia and Croatia. According to the Geopolitical Drug Watch, both Germany and the US favoured (although not officially) the formation of a “Greater Albania” encompassing Albania, Kosovo and parts of Macedonia.12 According to Sean Gervasi, Germany was seeking a free hand among its allies “to pursue economic dominance in the whole of Mitteleuropa.”13

Islamic Fundamentalism in Support of the KLA

Bonn and Washington’s “hidden agenda” consisted in triggering nationalist liberation movements in Bosnia and Kosovo with the ultimate purpose of destabilising Yugoslavia. The latter objective was also carried out “by turning a blind eye” to the influx of mercenaries and financial support from Islamic fundamentalist organisations.14

Mercenaries financed by Saudi Arabia and Koweit had been fighting in Bosnia.15 And the Bosnian pattern was replicated in Kosovo: Mujahadeen mercenaries from various Islamic countries are reported to be fighting alongside the KLA in Kosovo. German, Turkish and Afghan instructors were reported to be training the KLA in guerilla and diversion tactics.16

According to a Deutsche Press-Agentur report, financial support from Islamic countries to the KLA had been channelled through the former Albanian chief of the National Information Service (NIS), Bashkim Gazidede.17 “Gazidede, reportedly a devout Moslem who fled Albania in March of last year [1997], is presently [1998] being investigated for his contacts with Islamic terrorist organizations.”18

The supply route for arming KLA “freedom fighters” are the rugged mountainous borders of Albania with Kosovo and Macedonia. Albania is also a key point of transit of the Balkans drug route which supplies Western Europe with grade four heroin. 75% of the heroin entering Western Europe is from Turkey. And a large part of drug shipments originating in Turkey transits through the Balkans. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “it is estimated that 4-6 metric tons of heroin leave each month from Turkey having [through the Balkans] as destination Western Europe.”19 A recent intelligence report by Germany’s Federal Criminal Agency suggests that: “Ethnic Albanians are now the most prominent group in the distribution of heroin in Western consumer countries.”20

The Laundering of Dirty Money

In order to thrive, the criminal syndicates involved in the Balkans narcotics trade need friends in high places. Smuggling rings with alleged links to the Turkish State are said to control the trafficking of heroin through the Balkans “cooperating closely with other groups with which they have political or religious ties” including criminal groups in Albanian and Kosovo.21 In this new global financial environment, powerful undercover political lobbies connected to organized crime cultivate links to prominent political figures and officials of the military and intelligence establishment.

The narcotics trade nonetheless uses respectable banks to launder large amounts of dirty money. While comfortably removed from the smuggling operations per se, powerful banking interests in Turkey but mainly those in financial centres in Western Europe discretely collect fat commissions in a multibillion dollar money laundering operation. These interests have high stakes in ensuring a safe passage of drug shipments into Western European markets.

The Albanian Connection

Arms smuggling from Albania into Kosovo and Macedonia started at the beginning of 1992, when the Democratic Party came to power, headed by President Sali Berisha. An expansive underground economy and cross border trade had unfolded. A triangular trade in oil, arms and narcotics had developed largely as a result of the embargo imposed by the international community on Serbia and Montenegro and the blockade enforced by Greece against Macedonia.

Industry and agriculture in Kosovo were spearheaded into bankruptcy following the IMF’s lethal “economic medicine” imposed on Belgrade in 1990. The embargo was imposed on Yugoslavia. Ethnic Albanians and Serbs were driven into abysmal poverty. Economic collapse created an environment which fostered the progress of illicit trade. In Kosovo, the rate of unemployment increased to a staggering 70 percent (according to Western sources).

Poverty and economic collapse served to exacerbate simmering ethnic tensions. Thousands of unemployed youths “barely out of their Teens” from an impoverished population, were drafted into the ranks of the KLA…22

In neighbouring Albania, the free market reforms adopted since 1992 had created conditions which favoured the criminalisation of State institutions. Drug money was also laundered in the Albanian pyramids (ponzi schemes) which mushroomed during the government of former President Sali Berisha (1992-1997).23 These shady investment funds were an integral part of the economic reforms inflicted by Western creditors on Albania.

Drug barons in Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia (with links to the Italian mafia) had become the new economic elites, often associated with Western business interests. In turn the financial proceeds of the trade in drugs and arms were recycled towards other illicit activities (and vice versa) including a vast prostitution racket between Albania and Italy. Albanian criminal groups operating in Milan, “have become so powerful running prostitution rackets that they have even taken over the Calabrians in strength and influence.”24

The application of “strong economic medicine” under the guidance of the Washington based Bretton Woods institutions had contributed to wrecking Albania’s banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy. The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to carefully position themselves. Several Western oil companies including Occidental, Shell and British Petroleum had their eyes rivetted on Albania’s abundant and unexplored oil-deposits. Western investors were also gawking Albania’s extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel and platinum… The Adenauer Foundation had been lobbying in the background on behalf of German mining interests. 25

Berisha’s Minister of Defence Safet Zoulali (alleged to have been involved in the illegal oil and narcotics trade) was the architect of the agreement with Germany’s Preussag (handing over control over Albania’s chrome mines) against the competing bid of the US led consortium of Macalloy Inc. in association with Rio Tinto Zimbabwe (RTZ).26

Large amounts of narco-dollars had also been recycled into the privatisation programmes leading to the acquisition of State assets by the mafias. In Albania, the privatisation programme had led virtually overnight to the development of a property owning class firmly committed to the “free market”. In Northern Albania, this class was associated with the Guegue “families” linked to the Democratic Party.

Controlled by the Democratic Party under the presidency of Sali Berisha (1992-97), Albania’s largest financial “pyramid” VEFA Holdings had been set up by the Guegue “families” of Northern Albania with the support of Western banking interests. VEFA was under investigation in Italy in 1997 for its ties to the Mafia which allegedly used VEFA to launder large amounts of dirty money.27

According to one press report (based on intelligence sources), senior members of the Albanian government during the Presidency of Sali Berisha including cabinet members and members of the secret police SHIK were alleged to be involved in drugs trafficking and illegal arms trading into Kosovo:

(…) The allegations are very serious. Drugs, arms, contraband cigarettes all are believed to have been handled by a company run openly by Albania’s ruling Democratic Party, Shqiponja (…). In the course of 1996 Defence Minister, Safet Zhulali [was alleged] to had used his office to facilitate the transport of arms, oil and contraband cigarettes. (…) Drugs barons from Kosovo (…) operate in Albania with impunity, and much of the transportation of heroin and other drugs across Albania, from Macedonia and Greece en route to Italy, is believed to be organised by Shik, the state security police (…). Intelligence agents are convinced the chain of command in the rackets goes all the way to the top and have had no hesitation in naming ministers in their reports.28

The trade in narcotics and weapons was allowed to prosper despite the presence since 1993 of a large contingent of American troops at the Albanian-Macedonian border with a mandate to enforce the embargo. The West had turned a blind eye. The revenues from oil and narcotics were used to finance the purchase of arms (often in terms of direct barter): “Deliveries of oil to Macedonia (skirting the Greek embargo [in 1993-4] can be used to cover heroin, as do deliveries of kalachnikov rifles to Albanian `brothers’ in Kosovo”.29

The Northern tribal clans or “fares” had also developed links with Italy’s crime syndicates.30 In turn, the latter played a key role in smuggling arms across the Adriatic into the Albanian ports of Dures and Valona. At the outset in 1992, the weapons channelled into Kosovo were largely small arms including Kalashnikov AK-47 rifles, RPK and PPK machine-guns, 12.7 calibre heavy machine-guns, etc.

The proceeds of the narcotics trade has enabled the KLA to rapidly develop a force of some 30,000 men. More recently, the KLA has acquired more sophisticated weaponry including anti-aircraft and antiarmor rockets. According to Belgrade, some of the funds have come directly from the CIA “funnelled through a so-called “Government of Kosovo” based in Geneva, Switzerland. Its Washington office employs the public-relations firm of Ruder Finn–notorious for its slanders of the Belgrade government”.31

The KLA has also acquired electronic surveillance equipment which enables it to receive NATO satellite information concerning the movement of the Yugoslav Army. The KLA training camp in Albania is said to “concentrate on heavy weapons training – rocket propelled grenades, medium caliber cannons, tanks and transporter use, as well as on communications, and command and control”. (According to Yugoslav government sources.32

These extensive deliveries of weapons to the Kosovo rebel army were consistent with Western geopolitical objectives. Not surprisingly, there has been a “deafening silence” of the international media regarding the Kosovo arms-drugs trade. In the words of a 1994 Report of the Geopolitical Drug Watch: “the trafficking [of drugs and arms] is basically being judged on its geostrategic implications (…) In Kosovo, drugs and weapons trafficking is fuelling geopolitical hopes and fears”…33

The fate of Kosovo had already been carefully laid out prior to the signing of the 1995 Dayton agreement. NATO had entered an unwholesome “marriage of convenience” with the mafia. “Freedom fighters” were put in place, the narcotics trade enabled Washington and Bonn to “finance the Kosovo conflict” with the ultimate objective of destabilising the Belgrade government and fully recolonising the Balkans. The destruction of an entire country is the outcome. Western governments which participated in the NATO operation bear a heavy burden of responsibility in the deaths of civilians, the impoverishment of both the ethnic Albanian and Serbian populations and the plight of those who were brutally uprooted from towns and villages in Kosovo as a result of the bombings.


1. Roger Boyes and Eske Wright, Drugs Money Linked to the Kosovo Rebels The Times, London, Monday, March 24, 1999.

2. Ibid.

3. Philip Smucker and Tim Butcher, “Shifting stance over KLA has betrayed’ Albanians”, Daily Telegraph, London, 6 April 1999

4. KDOM Daily Report, released by the Bureau of European and Canadian Affairs, Office of South Central European Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, December 21, 1998; Compiled by EUR/SCE (202-647-4850) from daily reports of the U.S. element of the Kosovo Diplomatic Observer Mission, December 21, 1998.

5. “Rugova, sous protection serbe appelle a l’arret des raides”, Le Devoir, Montreal, 1 April 1999.

6. See Alfred W. McCoy, The Politics of Heroin in Southeast Asia Harper and Row, New York, 1972.

7. See John Dinges, Our Man in Panama, The Shrewd Rise and Brutal Fall of Manuel Noriega, Times Books, New York, 1991.

8. “The Dirtiest Bank of All,” Time, July 29, 1991, p. 22.

9. Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999; see also Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997.

10. Quoted in Truth in Media, Phoenix, 2 April, 1999).

11. Ibid.

12. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4

13. Sean Gervasi, “Germany, US and the Yugoslav Crisis”, Covert Action Quarterly, No. 43, Winter 1992-93).

14. See Daily Telegraph, 29 December 1993.

15. For further details see Michel Collon, Poker Menteur, editions EPO, Brussels, 1997, p. 288.

16. Truth in Media, Kosovo in Crisis, Phoenix, 2 April 1999.

17. Deutsche Presse-Agentur, March 13, 1998.

18. Ibid.

19. Daily News, Ankara, 5 March 1997.

20. Quoted in Boyes and Wright, op cit.

21. ANA, Athens, 28 January 1997, see also Turkish Daily News, 29 January 1997.

22. Brian Murphy, KLA Volunteers Lack Experience, The Associated Press, 5 April 1999.

23. See Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3, see also Barry James, In Balkans, Arms for Drugs, The International Herald Tribune Paris, June 6, 1994.

24. The Guardian, 25 March 1997.

25. For further details see Michel Chossudovsky, La crisi albanese, Edizioni Gruppo Abele, Torino, 1998.

26. Ibid.

27. Andrew Gumbel, The Gangster Regime We Fund, The Independent, February 14, 1997, p. 15.

28. Ibid.

29. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No. 35, 1994, p. 3.

30. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 66, p. 4.

31. Quoted in Workers’ World, May 7, 1998.

32. See Government of Yugoslavia at

33. Geopolitical Drug Watch, No 32, June 1994, p. 4.

US seeks nod for more drone attacks

US seeks nod for more drone attacks

Iqbal Choudhry

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and US Friday discussed in detail the shift in policy on war against terror as US administration is seeking permission for more drone attacks in Balochistan, highly placed sources informed The Post on Friday.

The issues were discussed in a meeting between COAS Ashfaq Pervez Kayani and CIA Chief Leon E Panetta, who traveled to Pakistan from India as part of the second phase of his tour to South Asia. This was Panetta’s first foreign visit after becoming the CIA chief.

Panetta, 70, had been director of Office of Management and Budget during former US President Bill Clinton’s era.

In Islamabad, he met COAS Ashfaq Pervez Kayani, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Ahmad Shujaa Pasha and Advisor to PM on Interior Rehman Malik.

During the discussions, Panetta said US would like Pakistan to effectively counter the insurgents and control its border areas and Pakistan, he said, needed stable ties with India to accomplish this task. The CIA chief, however, praised the role of Pakistan Army in war on terror.

Gen Kayani informed the visitor that Pakistan needed US financial aid to continue war on terror effectively.

Washington’s sense of frustration with President Hamid Karzai’s leadership in Afghanistan is at an all-time high. The Karzai government remains highly corrupt and inefficient, thereby allowing various insurgent groups to fill the resulting leadership vacuum.

US plans to add more than 30,000 additional US soldiers in Afghanistan this year, bringing the US-NATO force total to nearly 90,000 troops.

US administration is seeking shift-in-policy in the region and wants more cooperation from Pakistani side.

Army Chiefs’ bond bolsters US hopes in Pak: WSJ

Army Chiefs’ bond bolsters US hopes in Pak: WSJ

Published: March 21, 2009

Army Chiefs' bond bolsters US hopes in Pak: WSJ

The Obama administration’s hopes of stabilizing Pakistan increasingly rest on the strong bond between military chiefs Adm. Mike Mullen and Gen. Ashfaq Kayani. The two men spoke daily during the recent political crisis, in which growing opposition protests threatened to undermine the government until Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari — also under pressure from Gen. Kayani and senior U.S. officials — made significant concessions. During the crisis. Gen. Kayani assured Adm. Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, that he wasn’t contemplating a military coup, according to U.S. officials. These officials said Adm. Mullen trusted the assurances — but they acknowledged that some senior U.S. military officials harbor doubts about Gen. Kayani’s capabilities and intentions. Gen. Kayani ultimately helped resolve the crisis by mediating between Mr. Zardari and his chief rival, Nawaz Sharif, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. The relationship offers potential dividends for both countries. American officials want Islamabad to take stronger steps against the militants working to destabilize Pakistan and Afghanistan, and need Gen. Kayani’s help as an ally in the fight, which they say he supports. Pakistan wants to continue receiving American financial aid and military assistance, which requires maintaining close ties with Adm. Mullen’s Pentagon. It is a relationship born of necessity. Mr. Zardari is also seen as committed to battling militants, but his government is fragile. Many Pentagon officials believe the government will fall within the next few months, although civilian U.S. officials say the president could hold on. As an ally, Gen. Kayani is “seen as the safer bet, because he’ll probably be the last one standing,” a senior U.S. military official said. But the U.S. reliance on Gen. Kayani carries risks. During the Bush years, U.S. officials had a similarly warm relationship with Gen. Kayani’s predecessor as army chief, Pervez Musharraf, and sent him more than $10 billion in American aid. In the end, Mr. Musharraf, who was also president, disappointed the U.S. by failing to order a broad crackdown on the Islamic extremists in his country. “It’s a complete replay of what took place with Musharraf,” said C. Christine Fair, a senior political scientist with Rand Corp. and former United Nations political officer in Kabul. “We have a love affair with whichever chief of army staff is in office at any one time until they thoroughly disappoint.” In their public and private comments, U.S. and Pakistani officials say such concerns are unfounded. “Gen. Kayani wants the system to work,” Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said in an interview, adding that the officer’s outlook was “pro-democracy.” U.S. military and civilian policy makers say Gen. Kayani shares their belief that Islamic extremism poses a threat to Pakistan’s survival and has taken steps that show he is serious about tackling the problem. In September, he replaced the head of Pakistan’s intelligence service, which reports to him, and which U.S. officials say has long maintained ties to the Taliban. Pakistani officials say they only maintain contacts with some elements of the Taliban and no longer directly support the militants.
“He has done what he said he was going to do,” Adm. Mullen told reporters earlier this year. “Gen. Kayani has not misled me at all.” In an interview, a senior Pentagon official praised Gen. Kayani for keeping tens of thousands of Pakistani troops deployed against Islamic militants in restive Bajaur province, instead of shifting them to the country’s tense border with India. Gen. Kayani is a chain smoker, while Adm. Mullen wakes up before 5 a.m. each day to work out before he arrives at the Pentagon. They also have professional differences: Gen. Kayani once ran Pakistan’s main spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence, while Adm. Mullen has spent his entire career in the regular military. But they have forged strong ties since becoming their nations’ top uniformed military officers in 2007. “There’s increasing confidence,” said Talaat Masood, a Pakistani military analyst and retired general. “They trust each other in a way, even if they know are certain things that the Pakistan army will not do,” he said — specifically that Pakistan won’t drastically reduce its troop strength along the border with India. Since taking office, Gen. Kayani has cheered U.S. officials by putting experienced, nonideological officers in charge of two of Pakistan’s most important security arms: the Inter-Services Intelligence and the 60,000-strong Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force that is taking the lead in battling the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas. More recently, Gen. Kayani played a crucial role in defusing last week’s political crisis, which centered on Mr. Zardari’s refusal to reinstate the former chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court. Pakistani officials said that Gen. Kayani repeatedly met with Mr. Zardari and Prime Minister Gilani. “Initially, he confined himself to polite advice, but his tenor became firmer at the end,” a Pakistani official said. “It was the Kayani model — invisible, but around,” said Jhangir Karamat, a retired chief of army staff.

Why aren’t we acting now?

Why aren’t we acting now?

By Arshad Zaman

on the day after US/Nato forces invade and occupy some of Balochistan and Waziristan, what will we say we should have done, and why aren’t we doing it now? Is this far-fetched?— Reuters/File Photo

on the day after US/Nato forces invade and occupy some of Balochistan and Waziristan, what will we say we should have done, and why aren’t we doing it now? Is this far-fetched?— Reuters/File Photo

THIS article poses two questions: on the day after US/Nato forces invade and occupy some of Balochistan and Waziristan, what will we say we should have done, and why aren’t we doing it now? Is this far-fetched?

The facts suggest otherwise. Like the US invasion of Iraq, plans for covert operations and military strikes against Pakistan have not only circulated for long among influential US groups, they are visibly under implementation. Again, like Bush, the Obama presidency has provided the opportunity to implement these plans.

Obama has been elected on a Democratic Party platform that holds that ‘The greatest threat to the security of the Afghan people — and the American people — lies in the tribal regions of Pakistan, where terrorists train, plot attacks and strike into Afghanistan and move back across the border. We cannot tolerate a sanctuary for Al Qaeda.” It defines Pakistan as ‘a nuclear-armed nation at the nexus of terror, extremism and … instability’ and goes on to promise that ‘we will lead a global effort … to secure all nuclear weapons material at vulnerable sites within four years’.

There cannot be a clearer statement of US intentions. Nor are the outlines of likely US actions entirely unknown. The logic of the US action will be provided by Kampuchea; the tactics by Kosovo on our western borders and Palestine on our eastern borders. Naturally, historical analogies are far from exact, but they do merit study.

Even though the contextual background of the US bombing of Kampuchea departs from the situation in Pakistan on many points, what is common to the two is that US troops are bogged down in adjacent Afghanistan, the Americans believe that their ‘enemy’ is able to find ‘sanctuaries’ and ‘safe havens’ in Pakistan, and they have been conducting covert bombing operations in Pakistan for some time, which have progressively intensified.

We should not be misled by diplomatic pleasantries. In April 1969, Richard Nixon assured Prince Sihanouk that the US respected ‘the sovereignty, neutrality and territorial integrity of the Kingdom of Cambodia …’ Over the next 14 months the US dropped 2,750,000 tons of bombs on Kampuchea, more than the total dropped by the Allies in the Second World War. In 1970, Prince Sihanouk was deposed by his pro-American prime minister, Lon Nol. The country’s borders were closed, and the US and the Republic of Vietnam Army (ARVN) launched incursions into Kampuchea to attack the People’s Army of Vietnam and the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (VPA/NLF) bases.

The coup against Sihanouk and the US bombing destabilised Kampuchea and increased support for the Khmer Rouge. The parallels to recent developments in Pakistan are obvious.

Unlike Vietnam and Kampuchea around 1960, however, the Americans do not intend to withdraw from Afghanistan. Instead, in pursuit of a ‘surge’ strategy, some 17,000 US troops are expected to arrive in Afghanistan in the coming months; and the US appears to be digging in for a long stay. This creates enormous supply problems to which solutions, significantly, are being put together without dependence on Pakistan.

On March 17, 2009, Gen Duncan McNab testified before the armed services committee that the US military is reconsidering the long-term viability of the Khyber Pass supply route, through which 140 containers pass every day. Earlier this month therefore the US inaugurated the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) a rail-truck transit corridor passing through Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, with a capacity of 100 containers of non-lethal supplies per day.

To consolidate the NDN, officials from US, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey met in Baku on March 9-10, 2009 to establish a supply spur in the Caucasus. Even so, the closure of the Manas airbase outside Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan in February has been a severe blow to US supply capabilities from the north.

A solution to these problems can be found by creating an independent corridor to the Arabian Sea in Balochistan. This corridor, together with the occupation of Afghanistan, would also ensure US access to Central Asian crude oil, the raison d’etre of the so-called war on terror.

The groundwork for this scenario has already been laid by influential US groups in the military and intelligence community: comparing Pakistan to Yugoslavia, predicting civil war and advocating break-up supported by a map in the 2006 US Armed Forces Journal. These proposals would be endorsed by US Vice President Joe Biden, who supports the division of Iraq along ethnic lines. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), trained and financed by US and British intelligence services (among others), is said to be Washington’s chosen model to be replicated in Balochistan.

On the eastern front the Indians have been pressing the Americans to accept their right to unilateral military strikes inside Pakistan in self-defence, as they accept Israel’s rights in Palestinian territories; and as the Americans have claimed for themselves throughout the world. For well over a decade now, Israel has been teaching the Indians what they have learned in their repression of the Palestinians. In the wake of the Mumbai incident, Indian planes crossed over into Pakistani air space.

According to press reports, US Admiral Mullen sought formal approval for Indians to execute ‘surgical strikes’ inside Pakistan, like the US does, but Pakistan refused. Clearly, this is not the last we have heard of this and India will continue to pursue its policy of keeping Pakistan under the maximal sustainable military, diplomatic and economic pressure.

To conclude, then, there are good reasons to believe that a US-Israel-India axis is in pursuit of a coordinated plan to balkanise militarily consequential Muslim states (next Pakistan, then Iran — the order reversed by Musharraf’s weak military policies); ‘secure’ Pakistan’s nuclear weapons; support Baloch irredentism not only to open a corridor both for logistic support of its troops in Afghanistan and for export of Central Asian crude oil, but also to weaken Iran and Pakistan in the long-term; coerce the Pakistan Army into a civil war (advocating suppression of the Taliban by force in Pakistan, while admitting the failure of exactly this policy in Afghanistan); and further consolidate its hold over civilian leadership by creating the kind of financial dependency that would allow it to control ‘democratic’ elections, and to annul their results if they were unfavourable (as Israel did with Hamas).

Reportedly, Obama is expected to consider and approve options soon, and increased US military activity should take place once the snow melts. One hopes that a small group of patriotic officers in Pakistan are also asking themselves what can be done, and why aren’t we doing it now.