Ankara denies Baku planning gas price hike

[Bad news for Nabucco Project]

Ankara denies Baku planning gas price hike

Turkish Energy Minister Hilmi Güler yesterday denied media reports that Azerbaijan was set to increase the price of the natural gas it sells to Turkey, saying the existing contracts do not allow it.

“These reports are not true; I have been holding meetings with the Azerbaijanis for two days. No such thing has been said; there is no rise. We have a contract, so they cannot do it,” Güler was quoted as saying by the Anatolia news agency yesterday, in response to a question as he was leaving a meeting at the headquarters of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party).Reports said on Saturday that an Azerbaijani official announced his country’s plans to raise the price of natural gas to Turkey. Accordingly, Rovnag Abdullayev, the head of the Azerbaijani State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR), was quoted as saying that the current deal between Azerbaijan and Turkey was outdated and that talks on a new price deal were under way. The SOCAR president did not reveal any further details but said the new price deal was to be in effect as of April 15. Abdullayev earlier in the day met with officials from the Turkish industry and energy ministries and from the state-owned Turkish Pipeline Corporation (BOTAŞ).

The report came as Azerbaijan protests an ongoing rapprochement between Turkey and Armenia, with which it fought a war over Nagorno-Karabakh in 1991. Commenting on the reported price increase on Saturday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said the move was “thought-provoking” if the reports are true. “I don’t have information on that. However, if it [Azerbaijan] increased prices, then according to which facts did it do this? Such a rise in natural gas prices during a period of time when oil prices in the world are on the decline will of, course, be thought provoking. These [facts] will be assessed and steps will be taken accordingly,” Erdoğan said. Turkey and Armenia announced late on Wednesday that they had agreed on a framework for normalizing their relations, the first such move since Turkey closed its border to Armenia in 1993.

Turkish “Gladio Operation” Loses Its Secret Ammo Dumps

[Turkish branch of “Gladio Operation” being uncovered day-by-day.  Like all secret armies pre-positioned in all NATO countries, these government terrorists created covert weapons stashes all over the countryside, in anticipation when the secret armies would rise-up and “save the country” from they chao they themselves planned to unleash on their own countrymen.]

Parts 1 and 2 HERE

Ergenekon weapons discovery puts Turkish military in tough spot

Various supplies of munitions have been found hidden in shanty houses or buried underground since the start of the investigation into Ergenekon, a clandestine group charged with plotting to overthrow the government, which apparently have been taken out of the arms depots of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), but the military has been quiet on these discoveries for the most part, other than denying that it had anything to do with hiding the weapons.

The TSK’s silence on explaining how the weaponry discovered during the Ergenekon investigation was taken while under its supervision has led to a series of questions. Are any of the weapons found registered in the TSK’s weapons’ inventory? Who and how were these weapons taken out of the TSK depots? Have any of the culprits been found? Are there any suspects?

What legal action has the TSK taken against the suspects? Are there problems in inspections? Were those weapons stolen?

The Ergenekon investigation itself started in June 2007 with the discovery of the military’s weapons in a shanty house in a district of İstanbul. Since the start of the investigation, hand grenades, explosives, light anti-tank weapons, rocket launchers, Kalashnikov rifles, assault rifles, thousands of bullets and various other munitions have been discovered in secret depots or buried underground in various cities including Eskişehir, Ankara and Sapanca.

Most of these weapons were manufactured by the Turkish Mechanical and Chemical Industry Corporation (MKE) and NATO, neither of which supplies any institution in the country other than the military. None of the suspects arrested in relation to the discoveries have admitted any connections to the weaponry found.

The latest discovery came when the caches of arms were uncovered last week in İstanbul during excavations to uncover more ammunitions and weapons as part of the Ergenekon investigation.

Light anti-tank weapons, hand grenades, explosives and rocket launchers were unearthed during the excavations this week on land owned by the İstek Foundation, which was set up by a fugitive suspect in the investigation, former İstanbul Mayor Bedrettin Dalan, the chairman of the foundation. Three military officers currently on active duty were arrested on Wednesday as part of the investigation into Ergenekon after the arms cache was discovered on Tuesday. Those detained included Maj. Levent Bektaş, Lt. Col. Ercan Kireçtepe and Maj. Emre Onat, all of the Turkish Naval Forces. Yesterday, the three were referred to court, which will decide on their release or arrest. The police are seeking to capture yet another naval officer, Lt. Col. Mustafa Turhan Ecevit.

The excavation on İstek Foundation land, launched on Tuesday of last week, was started after an anonymous e-mail was sent to the İstanbul Police Department.

In last week’s excavations in İstanbul’s Poyrazköy district, 10 light anti-tank weapons, 20 percussion bombs, three other bombs, 250 grams of C-4 explosive, 19 emergency flares, 10 hand grenades, 800 G3 bullets and a large number of bullets for revolvers were found. The discovery follows the unearthing of similar underground weapons sites earlier in January, which were uncovered based on information from maps found in the homes of two suspects — former Deputy Police Chief İbrahim Şahin and Mustafa Dönmez, a lieutenant colonel who turned himself in a few days after the initial warrant for his arrest was issued. Dalan was in the US during the period of this wave of detentions and discoveries, which started on Jan. 7, 2009.

Ankara excavated for guns

The police, as part of the January investigation, carried out a series of digs at a number of sites around the capital in a search of weapons linked to Ergenekon. An arms cache was unearthed in the Zir Valley in Ankara’s Sincan district, which was found based on a map discovered in the house of Lt. Col. Dönmez. Thirty hand grenades, nine smoke bombs and more than 800 bullets for G3 assault rifles were found there. Around the same time, two hand grenades were found buried in a park in an industrial zone. Nearly 200 bullets were discovered also in Ankara in early January, in a vacant lot across from a housing complex in the Oran neighborhood, formerly reserved for members of Parliament and their families.

27 April 2009, Monday

TODAY’S ZAMAN İSTANBUL

Iran arrests group planning pre-vote bombings: radio

Iran arrests group planning pre-vote bombings: radio

Reuters – April 26, 2009

Iran has arrested a group of people linked to Israel who were planning bombings ahead of the Islamic Republic’s June presidential election, the intelligence minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.

State radio, citing Intelligence Minister Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei, did not say how many people had been arrested or give any other details.

Iran often accuses Israel and the United States, its two arch foes, of seeking to undermine the Islamic state. Last year, an Iranian businessman was hanged after he was convicted of spying on the military for the Jewish state.

“A group of deceived elements … who wanted to carry out explosions, particularly before the June election, was arrested,” Mohseni-Ejei said, according to the radio report.

He said they were “related to the Zionists.” Iran often refers to Israel as the “Zionist regime.”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who last week prompted a walk-out at a U.N. meeting on race in Geneva after he branded Israel a racist state, is expected to run for a second four-year term in the June 12 election.

Former Prime Minister Mirhossein Mousavi, who advocates detente with the West, is expected to be Ahmadinejad’s main moderate challenger in the presidency race.

Earlier in April, Iran executed three people convicted of being involved in the bombing of a mosque which killed 14 Iranians in the southern city of Shiraz in 2007.

Tehran had accused the United States of arming and training those behind the blast and said Britain and Israel were also involved. Washington and London have denied Iran’s accusations.

Lieberman wants US ‘responsible’ for Iran–DIVERSION

[Lieberman labors to turn international focus off Israel, onto the US mission in Pakistan, which will open the backdoor into Iran.   His new mission as Foreign Minister is obviously to distract international opinion from IDF human rights violations, so that the world will ignore what is about to happen in Palestine and Lebanon, “operation cast iron.”]

[SEE: Lieberman: U.S. to accept any Israeli policy decision ]

Lieberman wants US ‘responsible’ for Iran

Sun, 26 Apr 2009 02:55:54 GMT

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Israeli forces

Israel says it will not resort to military invasion to suppress Iran’s nuclear activities even if the international pressure proves to be of no avail.

“We are not talking about a military attack. Israel cannot resolve militarily the entire world’s problem,” Kleine Zeitung quoted Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman as saying on Saturday.

His remarks come in line with a recent shift in Tel Aviv’s policy toward Iran which was adopted after Israeli president Shimon Peres said that “the solution in Iran is not a military one.”

Israel and the West accuse Iran, a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), of pursuing a military nuclear program — an allegation that has been rejected by Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog.

Lieberman, however, went on to say, “I propose that the United States, as the largest power in the world, take responsibility for resolving the Iranian question.”

The apparent softening of tone is believed to be related to the Israeli officials’ fear of a pending clash of stance with the new US administration which intends to engage Iran “diplomatically” on the matter.

Following a period of Israel intense war rhetoric against Iran Washington reportedly started weighing possible sanctions on Tel Aviv, should it go ahead with the attack.

Lieberman insisted that “the best way to stop Iran’s nuclear program is through severe sanctions, very severe sanctions…. The resolutions of the UN Security Council are insufficient. Iran must be presented with harsher and more effective sanctions. It worked against Libya. We must isolate Iran; only this way will results be possible.”

This is while many — including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Secretary-General Mohamed ElBaradei — believe that sanction and isolation is not the key to the issue, saying such an approach could only impede the process.

Using force to suppress Afghan tribesmen is bound to fail

Using force to suppress Afghan tribesmen is bound to fail

By David Ignatius

By The Daily Star [Daily Times can only be accessed by proxy server, still, such as this one.]

Recently The New York Times carried vivid war reporting from Afghanistan. C.J. Chivers described the “bloody standoff” in the Korengal Valley between American troops and die-hard tribal warriors. Photographer Tyler Hicks snapped an unforgettable front-page picture of a US soldier in a mad dash to escape a riverside ambush.

But I found myself wondering: Why is the United States fighting insurgents in the remote Korengal Valley in the first place? The story described the enemy as “Taliban,” but it said the locals are angry “in part because they are loggers and the Afghan government banned almost all timber cutting, putting

local men out of work.” There’s apparently no sign of Al-Qaeda in the valley, where people are fiercely independent and speak their own exotic language.

While applauding the bravery of the US soldiers, we should also ask the baseline question: Is this use of American military power necessary or wise? When I was in the area a year ago, I visited an Army forward base near Asadabad that was firing large-caliber artillery shells into the Korengal to keep the local fighters at bay. The percussive roar of the outgoing fire was so loud it was hard to hear the comments of members of the US Provincial Reconstruction Team, who were explaining their efforts to win over the local population by building roads and schools.

The fighting in Korengal illustrates a bigger problem that’s at the heart of President Obama’s strategy for the Afghanistan War. The strategy is leaning in two directions at once. Obama described his war aims in limited terms, as preventing Al-Qaeda from launching attacks on the United States. But to accomplish that goal, he advocated a broader nation-building effort that could last many years. In military jargon, it’s an “enemy-centric” strategy that employs “population-centric” tactics of counterinsurgency warfare.

The problem isn’t so abstract for the young soldiers at Korengal Outpost: Are US foot patrols and artillery barrages needed to stop Al-Qaeda in this Afghan wilderness? Or is there a better, cheaper way, with less loss of Afghan and American lives?

The senior officials who drafted Obama’s strategy agree that it has this inherent tension, but they say it’s inescapable. They believe that a successful counterinsurgency fight has both a soft, road-building side and a kinetic, kill-the-enemy side. The challenge, the officials say, is combining the two approaches to splinter the insurgency. If the strategy works, says one of the people who drafted it, the US will dismember the “syndicate” of insurgent groups by the end of the summer fighting season this year or next.

To get an Afghan view, I spoke last week with Ashraf Ghani, who was finance minister from 2002 to 2004, in the first post-Taliban government, and is now running for president. He’s a supremely articulate man who took a doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University and worked at the World Bank. He’s probably a long shot for the presidential palace in Kabul, but he has a clear analysis of what’s needed – from Americans and Afghans, both – to put this war on a better track.

“Choices have to be made in terms of how the US strategy is implemented – counterinsurgency tactics, or kinetic. Right now, they’re attempting to do both,” says Ghani. He favors the former, and cautions that “months of counterinsurgency work can by undone by one kinetic action.”

Ghani is running on several issues that need to be addressed, no matter who wins. He wants greater Afghan self-reliance, reform of the country’s corrupt and feeble government, and a jobs program. The definition of the average Taliban supporter, he says, is “unemployed youth.”

I was encouraged by Ghani’s comments about reconciliation with some elements of the Taliban alliance. Take Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who’s part of the insurgent syndicate. Ghani has read four books written by Hekmatyar and says the bearded warlord has a “very modernist vision.”

He also cites a new book by Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, a Taliban leader who was held at Guantanamo from 2002 to 2005. Ghani says the mullah mirrors the evolution of the Taliban away from jihadism and toward nationalism and development.

The idea of using military force alone to suppress the fierce tribesmen of Afghanistan is as mistaken now for America as it was for the British in the 19th century, or the Russians in the 1980s. But Ghani and others seem serious about building a modern Afghanistan with US help – a long, slow but entirely worthwhile process.

Clinton’s visit showed that new US thinking has yet to materialize

Clinton’s visit showed that new US thinking has yet to materialize

By The Daily Star

Hillary Clinton’s whirlwind visit to Lebanon on Sunday generated the expected sound bites. There was also a signal that new foreign policy thinking by the Obama administration, when it comes to this part of the Middle East, has yet to materialize. The US secretary of state’s surprise touchdown didn’t contain any surprises in terms of the itinerary. President Michel Sleiman and MP Saad Hariri were the beneficiaries of face time with Clinton, who said she supported Lebanon’s sovereignty and promised that no deals would be made with Damascus at Lebanon’s expense. She also stressed the importance of seeing fair elections on June 7, without intimidation and violence.

Two items did stand out, however. Clinton added that Lebanon has a fundamental role to play in a Middle East peace, and stressed the Obama administration’s support for “moderates.”

The latter statement recalls the policy of the last few years, when we heard constantly about moderates and extremists.

In fact, moderates in Lebanon are in need of gaining some political footing, as their situation has been eroding for quite some time. Within the majority camp, too many of the incompetent elements have taken control, and without going into who exactly is responsible, it’s enough to say that the political process hasn’t produced effective moderates. Perhaps elements of the country’s private sector and general public have been “moderate” enough to generate the stability that’s helped us survive the past few difficult years, with our dysfunctional political class.

On the other hand, the external situation hasn’t exactly helped the moderate politicians.

When Clinton brought up Lebanon’s sovereignty, she didn’t add that Washington had any plans to end Israel’s violations of this sovereignty. Nothing about ending overflights by Israeli aircraft. Nothing about movement on the Shebaa Farms-Ghajar axes.

In order to help Lebanon’s moderates, Clinton should get Israel on her agenda, and fast track it. Both words

and deeds are needed here. Israel’s role in violating our sovereignty might appear from time to time in the statements of American officials, but so did the need to implement UN Security Council Resolution 425. In the end, it took 22 years for that to come to pass, and not thanks to international statecraft, but local armed resistance.

Clinton should identify policies – and not principles – that would enable Lebanon to play it’s supposedly fundamental role in a Middle East peace.

Lebanon could be a good beginning for a real-world policy of this kind, based on ensuring that all sides – and not just the moderates – are satisfied, or else there will be no durable deal.

Army destroys LTTE earth bund and enters Puthumattalan:

sri-lankaTens of thousands of civilians continued to flow into Government controlled area from the No Fire Zone throughout yesterday.
Courtesy Sri Lanka Rupavahini Corporation

Army destroys LTTE earth bund and enters Puthumattalan:

Human Avalanche

Over 35,000 cross over to Government controlled area:

Around 20,000 more await evacuation:

Troops attached to 58 Division engaged in the biggest ever hostage rescue mission in the military history, yesterday ended the months’ long forcible detention of tens of thousands civilians by the LTTE, after entering the No Fire Zone in the early hours of yesterday with the capture of the three km long Tiger earth bund in Puthumattalan and Ampalavanpokkanai, military sources told the Daily News.

With the gates to the No Fire Zone in Puthumattalan and Ampalavanpokkanai were opened by the troops attached to 58 Division along with Commando troops and Special Forces troops, an avalanche of civilians started to flood into the Security Forces’ controlled areas through the Security Forces’ defences in Ampalavanpokkanai and Puthumattalan yesterday morning.

“The Security Forces witnessed civilians exceeding 35,000 flooding into the military controlled areas in Ampalavanpokkanai at day break yesterday soon after LTTE defences were breached by the 58 Division troops,” a senior military official told the Daily News.

“Troops attached to 58 Division under the command of Brigadier Shavendra Silva were able to open the gates of the No Fire Zone without shedding a single drop of blood of the civilians which was totally an unexpected situation for the international community who were fearing a blood bath in the No Fire Zone,” military officials added.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa who arrived at the Air Force Headquarters last morning witnessed the freedom march of the civilians (which was one of the dreams of the Security Forces in their two and half year long march to liberate Vanni) from the Operations Room through the visuals of the Unman Aerial Vehicle of the SLAF flying over the skies of the No Fire Zone.

Even the international media had the opportunity to witness what was happening inside the No Fire Zone through the UAV visuals to get a clear picture of the situation and present it to the international community.

The visuals of the No Fire Zone which were made available to media personnel by the SLAF very clearly indicated the way thousands of civilians lined up to arrive at the cleared areas.

“More than 35,000 civilians trapped inside the No Fire Zone were able to reach the Security Forces’ controlled areas through military check ups by yesterday afternoon whilst another 20,000 to 30,000 people awaiting to enter Security Forces controlled areas through Ampalavanpokkanai and Puthumattalan,” military officials said.

Civilians were checked and welcomed by the troops both at Ampalavanpokkanai and Puthumattalan whilst providing them with drinking water and fresh meals on arrival.

Aerial visuals also displayed civilians gathering at the coast expecting to be rescued by boats whilst another section of civilians crossing the Nanthikadal lagoon and Puthumattalan lagoon to reach military controlled areas.

At some point Security Forces ran out of capacity to check the civilians in thousands and reinforcements and medical teams were airlifted to the area to attend the welfare matters of the civilians.

The Sri Lanka Transport Board too deployed additional buses to meet the demand of transporting the exodus of civilians arriving in the Government controlled areas.