Israel – Iran War Scenarios

Israel – Iran War Scenarios

Davide Cazzoni, per Equilibri.net

1- The straightest and relatively easy route for Israeli aircraft, through Jordanian and Iraqi airspace. Amman would hardly react militarly and limit its retaliation to a public complaint. Going through Iraq makes Washington’s consensus necessary, but US involvement would mean serious consequences for the region’s stability. Entering Iran by overflying southern Al Faw Peninsula through Persian Gulf would not limit significantly US liabilities, while the route has not advantages in terms of length.

2- Bypassing Jordan through the Gulf of Aqaba and entering Saudi airspace means a much longer route, but Riadh complaining would not be a serious problem. Saudi Arabia-Iran regional rivalry is known.

3- The northern route through Mediterranian Sea (along Lebanese and Syrian coasts) and Turkish-Syrian border needs above all Ankara’s consensus, which is not guaranteed despite of good relations with Jerusalem. In this scenario, with Esfahan as the farthest target, the Israeli aircraft should consider to lose some fighters because a refuelling mission in Turkish territory would be unlikely. Helicopters for Search&Rescue operations could be necessary off the Turkish coast.

4- The longest route, through the Gulf of Aqaba-Saudi Arabia-Kuwait needs a dangerous refuelling mission above Persian Gulf, with the Israeli aircraft vulnerable to an Iranian counter-attack.

Copyright Equilibri.net 2008

Pak to expose ‘foreign powers’ terror

Pak to expose ‘foreign powers’ terror

Islamabad, July 5: Pakistan would now share the evidence of “foreign powers’ involvement” in activities being carried out against it, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit has said.

“Pakistan is a responsible nation, if irrefutable evidence is found, it would be shared with the relevant countries instead of being released to the media,” The Daily Times quoted Basit, as saying.

Basit said that non-state actors based in Afghanistan were trying to destabilize Pakistan, but did not

blamed the Afghan government for it, saying the government in the neighboring country was itself facing the brunt of extremism, as a large part of the country remained out if its control.

Obama’s Public Education Policy: Privatization, Charters, Mass Firings, Neighborhood Destabilization

Obama’s Public Education Policy: Privatization, Charters, Mass Firings, Neighborhood Destabilization

Submitted by Bruce A. Dixon

arne duncanby BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

Last weekend in Chicago, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan delivered the keynote address at Rainbow PUSH’s annual conference and education roundtable.  Duncan is the premiere executor of corporate instpired policies that have closed dozens of neighborhood public schools in Chicago without substantially improving educational outcomes and at vast cost to neighborhood stability and the careers of hundreds of good teachers.  But are African American organizations standing up for their own interests, for public education?  Or are we paralyzed because the corporate policies issue from the administration of a Black President?

Obama’s Public Education Policy: Privatization, Charters, Mass Firings, Neighborhood and Family Destabilization

by BAR managing editor Bruce A. Dixon

The education policies of America’s First Black President Obama’s education policies are not discernibly different from those of his Republican predecessor.”

Six months into the Obama administration, its stand on public education could not be clearer. Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have bought the entire bipartisan set of anti-democratic and corporate friendly line that “failing” public schools are problems best solved by firing tens of thousands of perfectly competent and experienced teachers, and reorganizing them as charter and other institutions in which organized parents and teachers have no say whatsoever. The education policies of America’s First Black President Obama’s education policies are not discernibly different from those of his Republican predecessor.

Despite the unpopularity of school privatizations and the wholesale replacement of public schools with charters wherever this has been tried, the administration of the First Black President seems able to push the corporate line on privatizing education almost without significant public challenge from large sectors of black and progressive America, including what remains of traditional civil rights-style organizations and teachers unions.

It’s no coincidence that African Americans and black organizations have been the biggest beneficiaries and the most prominent defenders of public education. It was the political power of newly freed slaves, for whom literacy had been a criminal offense, that created the first public schools in the South. When Reconstruction was violently suppressed after the Civil War, hundreds of black schoolhouses along with their white and black teachers were among the prime targets of white mob violence. Even so, the shadow of progress remained in the form of a commitment to public education, even if a separate and unequal one, on the part of state and local governments, which had never been the government’s job before emancipation. This idea, that every child is entitled to a quality free education at public expense is a new and revolutionary notion. Like all revolutionary ideas, it has powerful enemies. Enemies in corporate America, in corporate funded think tanks and foundations, and enemies in high office.

But those who should be defending public education are unaccountably silent.

The Rainbow-PUSH Coalition has been under considerable pressure in Chicago to take definite stands against the neighborhood-destroying drive to privatize education. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson deemed the drive to close and privatize a hundred Chicago pubic schools “a dangerous plan” and demanded a moratorium on it back in March.

But last week Rainbow PUSH held its annual conference in Chicago, at which Arne Duncan was the keynote speaker. We don’t know exactly what Arne said in that keynote, but we are unaware that any challenges to his policies were voiced at that event. If so, a priceless public opportunity to demand a real accounting for these corporate-inspired policies of educational privatization was blown. We don’t know why. We do know that Rainbow PUSH issued a ten point “civil rights agenda for the 21st century which fails even to mention public education, let alone the Secretary of Education’s threats to withhold education stimulus money from states and school districts nationwide who do not sign on to the Chicago, New York, and New Orleans style policies of mass school closings and firings, and the adoption of private “partners” to remake their schools.

…black organizations… dependent themselves on funding from some of the same corporate philanthropy that lies behind the privatizations, are falling silent…”

Not to be outdone, Rev. Al Sharpton has taken a half million dollar bribe, laundered through friends of the chancellor of New York City’s public schools to become an active advocate of charter schools. Even teachers unions in places like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York have utterly failed to stand up for teachers, for parents or for students.

The pattern is clear. Leading black organizations in cities and states across the country, dependent themselves on funding from some of the same corporate philanthropy that is behind the privatization, are falling silent on the big lies of school privatization and the constellation of small and medium size lies it rests upon. They are failing to point out the argument that school “failure” is fundamentally misdefined as the inability to score on a par with predominantly white schools on standardized tests which themselves have been notoriously biased and have little to do with the quality of education. As Robert Rothstein pointed out in a 2007 American Prospect article, “Leaving No Child Left Behind Behind

Schools have many goals for students: basic math and reading skills but also critical thinking, citizenship, physical- and emotional-health habits, arts appreciation, self-discipline, responsibility, and conflict resolution. Schools threatened with sanctions for failure in only one goal will inevitably divert attention from others. One NCLB consequence has been less social studies, science, art, music, and physical education — particularly for low-income children, whose math and reading scores are lowest and for whose teachers the consequences of spending time on, say, history, rather than more math drill, are most severe.lowest and for whose teachers the consequences of spending time on, say, history, rather than more math drill, are most severe.

When inner city schools are punished for scoring poorly on tests, they are stripped of their music, sports, arts and other elective programs, as if this will somehow make more kids come to school. It doesn’t, and in reality it isn’t intended to.

Improving education is not the goal. Privatization is the goal. The targets of school privatization are not supposedly underperforming students and teachers. The target is democracy itself. Private interests are just that – private. Turning public schools over to private interests frustrates even the possibility of democracy. Charter school apologists often claim that greater parental involvement is a hallmark of their model. But to the extent that it is true at all, it’s involvement of a select group of parents, and not open to those of the entire community. Charter schools undermine what is left of community.

Gutstein, Lippman and Rico, in a recent Rethinking Schools article, explain that charter schools are often on different grade levels than the schools they replace, and since they no longer draw from the areas immediately around them, do not serve as anchors of the community in the ways that publics schools, in the best of times, do. And they spin out the fundamental conflicts between school privatization, democracy, and community:

In a democratic society, instruments of engagement allow citizen voice in decision-making processes. In Chicago education, that instrument is Local School Councils (LSCs). The most powerful parent, community, and teacher, local-school, decision-making structures in the country, LSCs’ responsibilities include hiring principals, monitoring budgets, and developing school improvement plans. With support, LSCs have demonstrated that they are effective models of local school decision-making. A 2005 Designs for Change study of 144 of the most successful neighborhood schools in Chicago serving primarily low-income students listed effective LSCs as a key reason for success. Despite this and other evidence documenting LSC effectiveness, CPS, under Duncan, has worked tirelessly to weaken LSCs by whittling away at their authority.

The LSCs came out of the grassroots movement to elect Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, in 1983. Parents and community members across the city made alliances and worked with school reformers to fight for local school councils, which the state legislature created when they passed the 1988 Chicago School Reform Act. Chicago’s LSCs are probably the most radical school reform in the country and are the largest body of elected, low-income people of color (especially women) in the United States.

In implementing Renaissance 2010, CPS ignored LSCs in the decision-making process. In many instances, the LSC at a school targeted for closure played a major role in the resistance to the school being closed. Why is CPS working to eliminate LSCs? Consider this: Chicago has almost 7,000 LSC members. If they were organized, they would be a major force in the struggle for equity in education. In fact, CPS has worked extremely hard to underserve LSCs. When LSCs started in 1988, CPS provided all the training to LSC members. However, over the years, literally thousands of LSC members have complained about that training. CPS provides no information on the general history of Chicago school reform, nor specifically how LSCs came into being as we explain above. CPS also does not provide any specific training to students on LSCs (each high school has one student member). In response, a number of community organizations have done their own, independent LSC training for years.

Duncan publicly stated in April 2007 that he wanted to break the “monopoly” of the LSCs, and in October 2007, Board of Education president Rufus Williams, in a speech to the City Club of Chicago—a major grouping of business people—likened LSCs running schools to having a chain of hotels being run by “those who sleep in the hotels.”

School privatization is about robbing parents, teachers and communities of the power to dtermine their educational destinies.

The general paralysis of progressive movements that has resulted from the election of our first black president stands squarely in the way of a generalized movement against the Obama administration’s continuation of Bush era policies, as does the reliance of traditional “civil rights” organizations and many black politicians upon corporate handouts. A further obstacle to building local and national movements against educational privatization is the lack of local news and the disappearance of local news gathering organizations in most cities and towns across the nation. As Dr. Robert McChesney has pointed out, the lack of reporters to tell the story, and news outlets to print or broadcast it has opened the way to a golden age of corruption in which corporate thieves can steal with impunity, and the public is none the wiser. It’s a bad place. But it’s where we are.

Later this year the No Child Left Behind legislation will be up for reauthorization.  Will we stand up before then?  Only time will tell.

Protests over expansion of US military base in Italy

Protests over expansion of US military base in Italy

By Ariel David
Newsvine
Sunday, Jul 5, 2009

Demonstrators wearing helmets and carrying plastic shields threw stones and other objects at police guarding a bridge on the route of the protest. Police fired tear gas canisters and clubbed some demonstrators, but no injuries were immediately reported. Luca Bruno

Protesters clashed with police at a demonstration Saturday against the planned expansion of an airport and U.S. military base in the northern city of Vicenza.

Demonstrators wearing helmets and carrying plastic shields threw stones and other objects at officers guarding a bridge on the route of the protest. Police fired tear gas canisters and clubbed some demonstrators, but no injuries were immediately reported.

Several thousand protesters, many from other Italian cities, converged on Vicenza to march against the expansion of the Dal Molin airport. They beat drums and carried rainbow peace flags, caricatures of President Barack Obama and banners that read “No Dal Molin.”

Protesters display posters with the caricature of US President Barack Obama. Luca Bruno

The plan would allow the transfer of four U.S. battalions from Germany, raising the number of active duty personnel in Vicenza to 5,000 from about 2,900 already stationed at the Ederle base on the other side of town.

The move is part of the U.S. Army’s plans to transform itself into a lighter, more mobile force. Under the plans, elements of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade, a rapid reaction unit now spread between Italy and Germany, would be united.

Protesters have clashed with police at a demonstration against the planned expansion of an airport and U.S. military base in the northern city of Vicenza. Luca Bruno

The staunchly pro-American conservative administration of Premier Silvio Berlusconi has pushed ahead with the expansion, which also was approved by his center-left predecessor, Romano Prodi, despite anger from his Communist and Greens allies.

Construction is scheduled to be completed by 2011.

Some residents, far left groups and environmentalists have been protesting the expansion for years, saying it would increase traffic; noise and air pollution; deplete local resources, including water and gas; and raise the risk of terrorist attacks.

Protesters carry a banner with the portraits of US President Barack Obama and Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi and the writing: “Independence Day” as they participate in a demonstration against the expansion of a U.S. military base at the Dal Molin airport. Luca Bruno

Protests have been frequent in the city of 110,000, and Saturday’s demonstration was staged to coincide with July 4, in what organizers said would mark an “Independence Day” from the U.S. base.

The march also was seen as a test of other protests that are planned against next week’s Group of Eight summit in L’Aquila.

The government moved the meeting from the posh Sardinian island of La Maddalena to the central Italian city after it was hit by a devastating earthquake in April.

Berlusconi said the move sought to draw attention to the population’s plight and limit the possibility of violence because protesters would not dare vandalize the stricken city. Last time Italy hosted the G-8 summit, in 2001, violent clashes left one protester dead and devastated the port city of Genoa.

The U.S. Embassy in Italy has issued a warning to Americans to exercise caution while traveling through Italy during the summit, particularly in areas like Rome and L’Aquila where several demonstrations are planned.

A protester waves a peace flag at a demonstration against the expansion of a U.S. military base at the Dal Molin airport, in Vicenza, northern Italy, Saturday, July 4 2009. Luca Bruno

Are the Afghan Taliban Using Tajikistan’s Islamist Militants to Pressure Dushanbe on NATO Supply Routes?

Are the Afghan Taliban Using Tajikistan’s Islamist Militants to Pressure Dushanbe on NATO Supply Routes?


13.06.2009 10:45

Author: Andrew McGregor, Tamestown.Org

As Pakistan’s military continues to consolidate its control over the Malakand region of the North-West Frontier Province and talks of continuing on into South Waziristan, there is some apprehension in neighboring states that foreign fighters based in northwest Pakistan may begin leaving their now-endangered bases for home.

Various reports claim foreign militants are on the move towards the Central Asian states in the aftermath of the Pakistan Army’s offensive against Islamist extremists in the Swat Valley (Jang [Rawalpindi], June 3; Millat [Dushanbe], May 21; Ozodagon [Dushanbe], May 21). A new military operation in eastern Tajikistan suggests the Central Asian nation is responding to the return of such extremists under the command of veteran Tajik jihadi leader Mullo Abdullo Rakhimov, though the Dushanbe-based government says it is only conducting routine anti-narcotics operations.

During Tajikistan’s 1992-1997 civil war, Mullo Abdullo was an important Islamist commander, operating as part of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO), an awkward coalition of liberal democrats and Islamists. If Abdullo has returned, it would mark his first known presence in Tajikistan since September 2000, when a government offensive in the Darband region destroyed most of his group, with over 40 fighters captured. Mullo Abdullo himself was reported captured in this encounter. He is supposed to have been sent on to Dushanbe, but was apparently amnestied and released, taking advantage of his unexpected freedom to leave for Afghanistan whereby according to some accounts, Ahmad Shah Masoud made him a commander in the Northern Alliance. Other reports say he joined the Taliban and was captured by government forces in Kandahar province in 2002, after which little was heard of him (Asia Plus, May 23; RFE/RL, May 21). Tajikistan authorities were unable to confirm reports of Abdullo’s detention in Afghanistan (Interfax, May 22).  [Probably part of the  of marauding force of Uzbek and Northern Alliance fighters brought into FATA by Abdullah Mehsud.]

The Legacy of Tajikistan’s Civil War

Government troops are currently at work in the Rasht Valley, in the western part of the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO). The Garm district of the Rasht Valley has a long history as a center for Islamist militancy, dating back to its days as an important center for the anti-Soviet Bashmachi rebellion of the 1920’s. During the civil war the Garmis sided with the Islamists and suffered severe retribution for their efforts. The Rasht Valley was also the main operational base for Mullah Abdullo’s forces during the war.

The GBAO, located in the Pamir Mountains, occupies 45% of the territory of Tajikistan but has only 3% of the total population. GBAO was created by the Soviets in 1925 and joined the Tajik Soviet Socialist Republic in 1929. During the civil war, the GBAO was a stronghold of Islamists affiliated with the UTO. Eastern Tajikistan is also the home of the Pamiri, an Isma’ili Shi’a people who were targeted for massacres after trying to separate from Tajikistan in 1991. The Pamiris were mostly supporters of the UTO.

Roughly 100,000 people were killed and over a million displaced in the 1992-1997 civil war, which pitted democratic reformers and Islamists against the Soviet elites of the northern Leninabad and central Kulyab regions who sought to continue their dominance of the Tajikistan government in the post-Soviet era. By 1993 the Garmi and Pamiri opposition forces were suffering from serious reverses on the battlefield and a violent campaign by government forces determined to drive Garmi and Pamiri civilians from Tajikistan. Both civilians and Islamist fighters took refuge across the border in Afghanistan, where the Islamist fighters received arms and assistance from ethnic Tajik Ahmad Shah Massoud, leader of the Northern Alliance military forces. The fighters also received religious training in Pakistan and Afghanistan. A Russian intervention in the civil war brought Afghan nationals north to fight the Russians around Dushanbe in 1996. When a negotiated settlement brought an end to the war in 1997, Mullo Abdullo was one of a number of Islamist commanders who refused to lay down arms, using bases in Afghanistan to mount cross-border attacks on Tajikistani security forces in the Rasht Valley. There are claims that Abdullo participated in raids on Kyrgyzstan in the late 1990s as a field commander in the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU). [1]

Operation Kuknor

According to government sources, Operation Kuknor (Operation Poppy) began in the Rasht Valley on May 15 and is expected to continue until November, an unusually long period when compared to previous anti-narcotics operations. Spokesmen say the operation is designed to interdict narcotics trafficking and eliminate poppy cultivation, but this explanation has raised eyebrows in the isolated valley, which has never been part of any known smuggling routes. Its climate is also generally considered unfavorable for the cultivation of poppies. The Tajikistan Interior Ministry expanded on the reasons behind the operation:

“Due to favorable weather conditions large fields of opium poppy plants and other drugs of the opium group were observed in the Afghan (northeastern) province of Badakhshan… A wide-scale operation is being carried out in Tajikistan, including in the Rasht valley, as part of the Poppy 2009 operation in order to prevent drug smuggling cases from the neighboring country and to uncover cases of cultivation of drug plants. The Interior Ministry does not have information about armed people who allegedly entered Tajikistan’s territory (Asia Plus [Dushanbe], May 23).”

The operation includes units of the Interior Ministry, the Drug Control Agency, the State Committee on National Security and Customs units. The inclusion of members of the Interior Ministry’s Special Forces is considered unusual for an anti-narcotics operation (RFE/RL, May 21). Tajik Border Guards and Drug Control Agency officers were reported to have seized more than 80 kg of drugs in eastern Darvoz District (along the north-west border of the GBAO) in the opening days of the operation, but a Dushanbe daily reported rumors of fighting between government forces and militants in the same district, noting the government could not give “a clear explanation of the situation” in eastern Darvoz (Nigoh [Dushanbe], May 28; Tojikiston [Dushanbe], May 28).

The Return of Mullo Abdullo

Reports from Russia claimed that Abdullo crossed into eastern Tajikistan several weeks ago and has been canvassing elders in the Rasht Valley for support.  The original group of 100 fighters has allegedly grown to 300 (Kommersant, May 25).

A source in the Interior Ministry stated, “It is not known who is spreading such rumors, but we will get to the bottom of this. It is quiet and calm [in the Rasht Valley], no operations are being conducted there except for Kuknor-2009” (Interfax, May 22). At the same time it was denying cross-border incursions by militants, the Interior Ministry reported the discovery of a cache of weapons in a Dushanbe home, including a grenade launcher with 27 rounds, five assault rifles, two grenades and a large quantity of ammunition (Interfax, May 23, 2009).

Whether by design or coincidence, there have recently been a number of arrests of high-profile former associates of Mullo Abdullo on charges that appear to have been ignored for years. On May 17 the Tajik Interior Ministry announced the arrest of Muzzafar Nuriddinov and several other former Islamist UTO leaders. Nuriddinov was a well-known associate of Mullo Abdullo in the period 1994-1999 and the timing of his arrest led to increased speculation in Dushanbe over the real intent of the government’s operations in the GBAO (Asia Plus [Dushanbe], May 21). Among other “past crimes” dating back to the 1990s, Nuriddinov is wanted for murdering two policemen with a Kalashnikov rifle. Prior to his involvement with Mullo Abdullo, Nuriddinov was a member of a militant group under field commander Fathullo Tojiddinov, who later became a leader of the Interior Ministry’s rapid deployment unit before being charged with possession of six kilograms of raw opium in June 2007 (Asia Plus, March 18, 2008). Another former member of Abdullo’s command, Djumaboi Sanginov, was arrested on May 31 in Dushanbe for crimes allegedly committed as a member of the UTO in 1996 (Ferghan.ru, June 1).

Another Target for Operation Kuknor?

Other reports claim the operation in the Rasht Valley is directed at arresting former opposition warlord Mirzokhuja Ahmadov for his involvement in unspecified “past crimes.” An attempt last year to arrest Ahmadov resulted in the shooting death of Colonel Oleg Zakharchenko, chief of Tajikistan’s OMON police unit, by one of Ahmadov’s followers. Ahmadov was serving as head of the anti-organized crime unit in the Rasht Valley at the time, a post he received as part of integration efforts following the civil war. During the war, Ahmadov was a well-known UTO field commander.  Ahmadov claims Zakharchenko’s death was the result of his men thinking their headquarters was under attack by gunmen. He further claims to have received a verbal pardon from Tajikistan president Emomali Rahmon (Eurasianet.org, February 5, 2008; RFE/RL April 14, May 20).

Conclusion

The Taliban recently warned Tajikistan against providing a new supply route for U.S. and NATO military supplies on their way to Afghanistan (Daydzhest Press, May 28). Nevertheless, Tajikistan agreed to a deal to allow non-military supplies to pass through Tajikistan as part of a vast new northern supply route meant to provide an alternative to the turbulent Khyber Pass of northwest Pakistan (BBC, April 21). If Mullo Abdullo has passed from Pakistan through Afghanistan into eastern Tajikistan, it may be part of an effort by the Taliban to convince Dushanbe to rethink its cooperation with the Coalition.

Speaking at a meeting with EU ministers working on greater cooperation with Central Asian states, Tajikistan’s Foreign Minister, Hamrokhon Zarifi, confirmed the nation’s readiness to support international anti-terrorism operations against the Taliban and al-Qaeda. “Threats by Taliban insurgents do not frighten us and Tajikistan signed an agreement on giving a corridor for the land transit of U.S. non-military goods to Afghanistan” (ITAR-TASS, May 29). Nevertheless, with a recent and sudden outbreak of suicide bombings and other violence in neighboring Uzbekistan raising fears of a return of Islamist fighters to that region, Dushanbe may be making efforts to preempt the penetration of Islamist fighters from Pakistan in force. An anti-narcotics operation would provide useful cover for extensive ground sweeps and the systematic collection of intelligence necessary to prevent Islamist militants from establishing new bases inside Tajikistan’s Rasht Valley.

Notes:

1. Muzaffar Olimov and Saodat Olimova, “Region early warning report: Political Islam in Tajikistan,” Forum on Early Warning and Early Response (FEWER), July 31, 2001.

Some 100 drug gangs reportedly active in Tajikistan, says DCA official

[SEE: Chasing Phantoms in the Tajik Mountains]

Some 100 drug gangs reportedly active in Tajikistan, says DCA official


06.07.2009 14:04

Author: Nargis Hamroboyeva

DUSHANBE, July 6, 2009, Asia-Plus — Some 100 drug-trafficking rings have been active in Tajikistan and Tajik Drug Control Agency (DCA) has been taking efforts to track their activities, the first deputy director of DCA, Vaysiddin Azamatov, announced at a press conference in Dushanbe on July 6.

According to him, six drug-trafficking rings were broken up last year and their members were arrested.

“According to our data, 62 drug-trafficking gangs are active in Sughd province, 31 others in Khatlon province and four drug-trafficking rings are active in Gorno Badakhshan, the drug control official said, noting that the counternarcotics agency has warded off 86 drug-smuggling attempts over the first six months of this year,” the drug control official said.

“Over the report period, the drug control officers have seized 504 kilograms of narcotics,” said Azamatov, “The DCA has instituted 81 criminal proceedings on drug charges over the same six-month period and 67 cases have already moved to courts.”

Over the report period Tajik law enforcement authorities have seized some 3,000 kilograms of narcotics, including some 1,500 kilograms of drugs intercepted by the Ministry of Interior, 756 kilograms of drugs seized by border guards, 172 kilograms of narcotics intercepted by security officers, and 77 kilograms of drugs intercepted by customs officers.

In January-June 2009, Tajik drug control officers and law enforcement authorities of Afghanistan have carried out 12 joint operations that led to the seizure of more than 630 kilograms of narcotics, including 37 kilograms of heroin, 502 kilograms of raw opium and 91 kilograms of cannabis narcotics as well as three firearms and 300 grams of TNT, Azamatov said.

Chasing Phantoms in the Tajik Mountains–Following the Trail From FATA

Chasing Phantoms in the Tajik Mountains


25.06.2009 11:29

Author: Irina Melnikova

Analysts consider chances of resurgence in Islamic insurgency as authorities reject claims that guerrilla bands are roaming the hills.

No one in government will confirm media reports that the military units deployed in force in the region are hunting a warlord from the 1992-97 civil war known as Mullo Abdullo, who has allegedly spent the last few years with Taleban allies in Afghanistan and more recently Pakistan.

The official version is that police are conducting a major sweep to stop the trade in opium and its derivative heroin in the Rasht valley, which cuts through inaccessible mountains and was a stronghold of opposition support throughout the civil war.

According to interior ministry spokesman Mahmadullo Asadulloev, “The objective of this operation, which will continue until the end of November, is to tackle opium poppy cultivation and combat drug traffickers in the valley, 150 to 200 kilometers east of Dushanbe.”

CLASHES WITH “MUJAHEDIN”

For weeks, there was circumstantial evidence that the authorities were doing more than that – the sheer scale of the operation, reports that three policemen died in a firefight, and separately, the arrests of several former associates of the guerrilla leader now living in other parts of Tajikistan.

IWPR has spoken to a serviceman in an elite interior ministry unit that was among the first to be sent in, around May 21.

Now back in the capital Dushanbe after his unit was rotated out and replaced with fresh troops, he confirmed the government forces were in action against armed men.

Officially, he said, they were indeed part of the Opium-2009 operation, but in fact their task was to patrol mountain tracks paths to intercept militants or as he called them, “mujahedin”.

This man said troops were deployed after the authorities got wind that a group of Islamic militants had infiltrated the area from Afghanistan, with which Tajikistan shares a long and in places porous border.

For about two weeks, his squad was posted on a high-altitude pass still covered by snow even in late May. It was one of several units deployed to encircle a group of about 25 men holed up in the village of Chursoni Bolo not far from the pass.

The stand-off ended without an all-out battle, as the “mujahedin” force broke up into smaller groups and escaped along routes that had been left unsecured.

On June 16, the Asia-Plus news agency reported that one officer and two servicemen with the interior ministry forces had been killed in the Rasht valley. Its source in the defence ministry refused to say anything further about the circumstances.

“They say the militants are still in the district,” said a resident of Tavildara district who visited Dushanbe in early June.

A second IWPR source, this time in the Tajik defence ministry, reported a clash in a different district, further south and much closer to the Afghan frontier.

On May 28, a police patrol ran into a group of eight or nine men near Gundara in the Darvoz district.

They called for back-up, and a helicopter was despatched to circle over the area, but it failed to spot any militants.

“By the time help arrived [on the ground], it was already growing dark and the operational commanders decided not to send in an assault unit,” said the source.

Instead the government troops cordoned off the area. Overnight, they came under fire, after which the militants simply disappeared under cover of darkness.

“In the morning, when police and defence ministry soldiers went to check out the area, the mujahedins’ trail was cold,” said the source.

Government officials continue to deny that the military sweep in the east is anything other than a counter-trafficking operation.

“As far as Abdullo Rahimov is concerned, I can say that if he appears anywhere in the republic, steps will be taken to arrest him as he has been on the wanted list since the early years of this century,” deputy interior minister Farhodbek Shodmonbekov told IWPR on June 18. “We are not in possession of any information suggesting he is in the Rasht valley, nor are we aware of the presence of a group of militants there.”

Shodmonbekov conceded that those involved in the Opium-2009 operation had a wider remit than just drugs. “All across the country, including the districts in Rasht [valley], search operations are going on to pursue criminals, solve crimes committed in past years, and locate and confiscate firearms,” he said.

Many in Tajikistan were surprised at statements from officials like Asadulloev that the poppies that produce opium were growing in the Rasht valley.

“The local climate doesn’t allow opium poppy to be cultivated there,” said Abdughani Mamadazimov, head of the National Association of Political Scientists of Tajikistan.

Mirzokhujo Ahmadov, once a UTO commander and still highly influential in Rasht, said, “People here don’t grow poppies. This campaign has been going on for the past several weeks. I haven’t heard of any poppies being found, but we are aware that a thorough passport [identity paper] check is being carried out among the population at large, but specifically those whose outward appearance is Islamic, those who wear beards.”

Meanwhile, in other parts of Tajikistan, police have rounded up a handful of Mullo Abdullo’s associates from the old days – Muzaffar Nuriddinov was arrested on May 18, Jumaboy Sanginov on May 31 and Turobsho Solehov on June 16. They are accused of crimes dating back a number of years.

GHOSTS OF CIVIL WAR

Mullo Abdullo dates from the conflict of the early Nineties which at one level, pitted Islamists and democrats against the Communists-turned-nationalists who seized control of government.

The conflict also had a regional dimension, as most support for the United Tajik Opposition was based mainly in the mountain valleys east of Dushanbe. On the regime side, Soviet-era rulers who hailed from the economically developed north of the country were shoved aside by a faction from around Kulob (or Kulyab), a poor region in the far south; this grouping is still prevalent in government.

As part of the 1997 deal which brought the war to a close, the UTO’s driving force, the Islamic Rebirth Party, became a legal organisation which continues to hold a couple of seats in parliament.

UTO guerrillas were disarmed and offered jobs, often in the military.

A few dissident UTO commanders refused to play ball, and the majority like the memorably-named Hitler Rahmon were picked off in military operations over the next few years.

Relatively few are believed to have relocated to Afghanistan, although another important element of the UTO forces consisting of men from Uzbekistan’s Fergana valley went on to form the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IMU, which allied itself with the Taleban, mounted major raids into Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan in 1990 and 2000, and then shifted to Waziristan, the Taleban stronghold in northwest Pakistan.

Mullo Abdullo, whose real name is Abdullo Rahimov, left Tajikistan some time later, in the Nineties, and according to some reports, he has most recently been in Pakistan.

The interior ministry soldier who spoke to IWPR said Mullo Abdullo had come back in March or April via Afghanistan, together with a number of men.

Furthermore, he said they were then joined by local men in Tavildara who had been with the UTO in the Nineties and remained hostile to the government in Dushanbe.

“There are a few guys from the same area who – following the [post-peace] reintegration process – served in a battalion of the Ministry for Emergency Situations that was quartered in Tavildara district,” said the policeman.

The emergencies ministry is a disaster relief agency which has military-style units at its disposal, and soaked up some of the demobilised guerrillas.

EARLY SIGNS OF WIDER INSURGENCY?

Analysts in Tajikistan are now trying to figure out whether the armed men who have been sighted really are grouped around Mullo Abdullo, and if so, what they are up to in the Rasht valley.

Political expert Parviz Mullojonov explains how hard it is to establish facts out of the various reports and rumours.

“The only things the majority of sources agree on are first, that a group led by Mullo Abdullo has appeared in the region from neighbouring Afghanistan,” he told IWPR. “Secondly, that the government’s opium operation is in some way connected with the appearance of this group of militants.”

One possibility, Mullojonov believes, is that Central Asian militants allied with the Taleban are finding life increasingly uncomfortable in Pakistan. The Taleban in North and South Waziristan, where the IMU is also present, are under pressure from the Pakistani military and United States drone aircraft attacks.

“It is more than likely that under these circumstances, a number of groups will be forced to return to Central Asia and become more active in the region – even they are not ready for large-scale operations,” said Mullojonov.

He added that most of the militants now in Pakistan were Uzbeks, and “there were relatively few Tajiks among them”.

On June 16, Reuters news agency quoted unconfirmed reports from the Pakistani military that IMU leader Tohir Yoldash, an Uzbek, had been injured in a bombing raid in South Waziristan.

Mullojonov also suggested there might be some connection with recent attacks in and around Andijan in eastern Uzbekistan, which the Uzbek authorities have blamed on Islamic extremists.

Overnight on May 25-26, a police checkpoint on the outskirts of Khanabad, a town near Andijan, came under attack. A policeman and one of the attackers were wounded in an exchange of fire, and all the assailants, said a statement from the Uzbek prosecutor’s office. Later on May 26, a suicide bomber killed himself and a policeman in Andijan itself.

Mullojanov pointed out that it was quite possible to move from the eastern Tajik mountains down to the Fergana valley.

A Tajik police official who asked not to be identified believes further outbreaks of violence might be in the offing.

“The fact that the Tavildara group is not making any demands could indicate that this is a diversionary tactic,” he said. “A bigger operation may be being planned for other locations.”

Reports from Kyrgyzstan suggest the authorities there are taking such fears seriously.

The Fergana.ru news agency reported that troops from two elite units of the Kyrgyz interior ministry were deployed in the Batken district on June 20. Batken is a strip of land in the far southwest of Kyrgyzstan, sandwiched between Tajik and Uzbek territory, and was the scene of IMU incursions in past years.

Jakypbek Azizov, who heads the ministry’s public security department, told a press conference that the forces had been sent in because of a “complex situation in border areas”, which was a consequence of developments in Afghanistan and the possibility that militants had infiltrated neighbouring states. It was unclear whether he was referring to Uzbekistan or Tajikistan.

Irina Melnikova is the pseudonym of a journalist in Dushanbe.

The Ayatollahs and the CIA

The Ayatollahs and the CIA

The Ayatollahs seem to be split between those who work for the CIA and those who don’t.

Hossein Shariatmadari is editor-in-chief of Iran’s Kayhan newspaper.

Shariatmadari is a close pal of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Shariatmadari, in an editorial, writes: “It has to be asked whether the actions of [Mousavi and his supporters] are in response to instructions of American authorities.”

Shariatmadari has now declared that opposition leader Mousavi has committed “terrible crimes”, including “co-operating with foreigners and acting as America’s fifth column”.

The Association of Researchers and Teachers of Qum has called the presidential election and the new government illegitimate.

Leading Clerics Defy Ayatollah on Disputed Iran Election

Ayatollah’s aide accuses Iran opposition leader of being US agent

According to an item at newhk.blogspot.com:

“In 1964, after Khomeini was arrested by SAVAK, the CIA arranged for Khomeini to stay at a safe house in the Iraqi Shi’a holy city of Najaf.

The CIA’s man in Iraq, Saddam Hussein, permitted the CIA to protect Khomeini with a number of CIA Iranian-born security agents.

“Eventually, Khomeini out stayed his welcome in Iraq and he moved, along with some CIA agents on his personal staff, to a villa outside of Paris.

“Khomeini would be grateful to the CIA later. When the CIA conspired to eject Carter from office, Iran would, along with Israel, be the perfect allies…

“The Reagan-Bush-Casey team charter(ed) the SS Poet to deliver weapons to Iran…”

- The CIA had long maintained an association with Iran’s Shi’a holy leader, Ayatollah Khomeini…

aangirfan: The Shah of Iran was toppled by the CIA and MI6?

Convincing India That It Is A Superpower

India – US Defence Cooperation

The ‘New Framework in the India-US Defence Relationship’ signed between the Defence Minister of India and the US Secretary of Defence on June 28, 2005 charts a course for defence relations in the coming years as an element of the broader strategic partnership between India and the United States.

Under the New Framework, India and USA agreed to:

a) Conduct joint and combined exercises and exchanges;
b) Collaborate in multinational operations if it is in common interest;
c) Strengthen capabilities of militaries to promote security and defeat terrorism;
d) Promote regional and global peace and stability;
e) Enhance capabilities to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction;
f) Increase opportunities for technology transfer, collaboration, co-production, and research and development;
g) Expand collaboration relating to missile defence;
h) Strengthen abilities of the Armed Forces to respond quickly to disasters, including in combined operations;
i) Conduct successful peacekeeping operations;
j) Conduct and increase exchanges of intelligence.

Under the New Framework, the institutionalized framework for cooperation was further strengthened with the establishment of Defence Procurement and Production Group and the Defence Joint Working Group, under the comprehensive bilateral mechanism of the Defence Policy Group.

The India-US Joint Declaration, issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President George W Bush in March 2006, welcomed increased bilateral cooperation in the defence area under the New Framework, evidenced by successful joint exercises, information sharing, and greater opportunities to jointly develop technologies and address security and humanitarian issues. They reaffirmed commitment to protect free flow of commerce and safety of navigation, and agreed to conclude a Maritime Security Cooperation Framework to develop new avenues of maritime cooperation and to pursue cooperation in the prevention of trans-national crimes at sea such as piracy, armed robbery, smuggling and trafficking in arms and drugs, carry out search and rescue operations, combat maritime pollution, respond to natural disasters, address emergent threats and enhance cooperative capabilities, including through logistics support.

Visits

The dialogue between the two countries on defence cooperation-related issues has been ongoing. It received further direction with the visit of US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to India on February 26-27, 2008 and the visit of Raksha Mantri to USA from September 7-10, 2008 at the invitation of Secretary Gates.

Institutional Mechanisms for Dialogue

The Defence Policy Group gives policy level direction to defence cooperation, reviews all matters and resolves broader defence cooperation policy issues. Various institutional mechanisms under the DPG which coordinate and implement defence cooperation in specific areas include:

Defence Joint Working Group (DJWG)
– this undertakes mid-year review of progress made in the fulfillment of decisions taken by the DPG. It also reviews matters, which need to be taken up by the DPG.

Senior Technology Security Group (STSG)
– this is charged with undertaking review of technology security issues and also increase mutual understanding of each other’s policies and systems in respect of technology security for defence-related equipment.

Defence Procurement and Production Group (DPPG)
– this reviews opportunities for cooperation in defence acquisition, transfer of technology/collaboration and defence related industries.

Joint Technical Group (JTG)
– this look at potential for cooperation in defence research and development.

Military Cooperation Group (MCG) – reviews Services-related cooperation matters and inter-service coordination.

Service-to-Service Executive Steering Groups (ESGs)
– these review service-to-service cooperation and report to the Military Cooperation Group.

Concluded Agreements

a) Agreement for Security Measures for Protection of Classified Military Information signed on January 2002 (GSOMIA)
b) Master Information Exchange Agreement (MIEA) to facilitate exchange of defence R&D and information, signed in February 2004
c) Research Development Testing and Evaluation (RDT&E) Agreement signed in January 2006.
Other agreements are under negotiation.

Joint Exercises

Joint Exercises between the three Services have improved in scale and frequency since the signing of the New Framework.

Indian Army has been involved in joint exercises with the US Army on low intensity conflict in jungle terrain, counter terrorism and counter insurgency. Ex- Shatrujeet was recently held at California, USA from March 10-24, 2008. Ex- Yudh Abhyas 08 Brigade Command Post Exercise is scheduled to be held at Hawaii, USA from October 30-Nov 12, 2008. Ex- Vajra Prahar 08-1 was held at CIJW School, Vairengate from August 4-24, 2008 and Ex- Vajra Prahar 08-2 was held at Guam at USA from August 05-25, 2008.
The Indian Navy conducts the Malabar series of exercises with the US Navy involving contraband control operations, sea control operations, air defence exercises, sea replenishment including fuel transfer, cross-deck flying etc., In 2008, Ex- Malabar CY 08 is scheduled off Goa from October 24-28, 2008. The 3rd HABU NAG (EOTTX) was held from September 1-14, 2008 in Visakhapatnam.

The Indian Air Force participated in the multinational air exercise EX RED FLAG at the Nellis AFB, USA in August 2008. IAF participation included eight SU-30s and two IL-78 air-to-air refueller aircraft, one IL-76 transport aircraft and a ten member GARUD team. The contingent comprised a total of 247 personnel.

Industry Linkages

The AEROINDIA and annual DEFEXPO shows have seen very good participation from US companies in recent times, an indicator of their serious interest in the Indian defence market. Several major US defence corporations have established presence in India and are operating directly (Boeing, Lockheed Martin, GE, to name a few). India’s revised Defence Procurement Policy, which came into effect on September 1, 2008 aims to make procurement more transparent, impartial and accountable. Recent changes in India’s Offsets Credit Banking seek to promote indigenous defence industry while enabling foreign vendors to create offset programs in anticipation of future obligations.

THE CIA AND RIOTING UYGHURS IN XINJIANG

THE CIA AND RIOTING UYGHURS IN XINJIANG

Some of the locals http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Khotan-mercado-chicos-d01.jpg
Are the CIA and its friends trying to break up China?

On 6 June 2009, we learn that about 140 people have been killed and more than 800 injured in violence in the city of Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang region. (China’s Xinjiang hit by violence)

Relations between the Han Chinese community and the minority Muslim Uyghurs are tense.

The Uyghurs, a Muslim minority from the autonomous region Xinjiang (Western China), are seeking the secession of their region “East Turkestan” from the People’s Republic of China.

Photo of Urumqi by Michael D. Manning, The Opposite End of China(http://china.notspecial.org/).

In 2007, http://www.german-foreign-policy.com/en/fulltext/56104 had an article about China.

From this we learn:

1. German foreign policy makers have held talks with Chinese separatists.

The Munich based “World Uyghur Congress (WUC)” announced its president, US-based Rebiya Kadeer, was received by the German foreign ministry.

Berlin has been escalating its anti-Beijing secessionist offensive.

Germany – and intelligence circles – have been cultivating relations with Uyghur exiled politicians.

‘Current transatlantic activities promoting anti-Chinese separatism and weakening Beijing, are based on decades of German-US cooperation.’


2. Erkin Alptekin, a Uyghur living in exile, is one of the main players and he has CIA links.

Erkin Alptekin moved to Munich in 1971, where he became “Senior Policy Advisor” to the director of the US station “Radio Liberty”.

It was at that time that the CIA began to establish contacts to Uyghurs seeking secession.

Some, like Erkin Alptekin, who have worked for the CIA’s Radio Liberty, are – in the meantime – on the forefront of the secessionist movement” writes analyst B. Raman, the former Indian government’s cabinet secretary.

3. In Munich, Alptekin founded the “East Turkestan Union in Europe” in 1991; and in April 2004 he founded the “World Uyghur Congress” and became its founding president.

‘From German territory, the congress is steering numerous Uyghur exile organizations around the world, of which some must be classified as being in the terrorist milieu, according to Chinese government information.’

4. The Munich based exile movement seeks to merge the Uyghur secessionist movement with the Tibetan and the Mongolian movements.

It seeks to break up China.

In 1985, former CIA advisor Alptekin participated in the foundation of the “Allied Committee of the Peoples of East Turkestan, Tibet and Inner Mongolia”.

5. Rebiya Kadeer is continuing Alptekin’s activities – and is also receiving German-US American support.

Her husband works for Radio Free Asia, the Asian counterpart to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, also said to have close links to the CIA.

[1] see also Language Struggle and Ethnic Europe
[2] Erkin Alptekin;
www.tibet10march.net/web/redner_alptekin.htm
[3] B. Raman: US and Terrorism in Xinjiang; South Asia Analysis Group, Paper No. 499, 24.07.2002
[4] China Seeks Int’l Support In Counter-Terrorism; People’s Daily Online 16.12.2003
[5] B. Raman: US and Terrorism in Xinjiang; South Asia Analysis Group, Paper No. 499, 24.07.2002

Pakistan under foreign pressure over Iran deal

Pakistan under foreign pressure over Iran deal

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A senior Pakistani official reveals that two major western and Islamic states are exerting pressure on Islamabad to scrap its multi-billion-dollar gas deal with Iran.

The initial agreement of the $7.5 billion Iran-Pakistan-India gas pipeline, also known as the Peace Pipeline, was signed in Tehran in May between the Iranian and Pakistani presidents.

Iran says that via the pipeline it will deliver eight billion cubic meters of natural gas to Pakistan annually.

Adviser to the Prime Minister on Petroleum Asim Hussain told The News; “two powerful countries–one a Western power [read: US] and the other an all important brother Islamic country [Saudi Arabia]–were putting pressure on Pakistan to ditch the project”.

["In spring 1996, reports indicated that a partnership between the American oil major Unocal and the Saudi Delta had concluded plans for a multi-billion dollar oil and gas pipeline project traversing from Turkmenistan to Baluchistan in Pakistan via Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan."]

He did not disclose the name of the countries.

The official, however, insisted that the Pakistani government would not yield to the pressures to give up the plans and will go ahead with the project based on “mutual national interests”.

Hussain says “the Islamic brotherly country” asked Pakistan to reduce its “close ties with Iran because of other politico-religious differences”.

The comment came as Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has asked the parliament to approve the vital project as Pakistan is in grave need of gas and electricity.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources is urged to prepare a feasibility report on the viability of bringing the gas pipeline through an underwater sea route.

The News says Galiani was briefed that “the sea route was comparatively more secure and also cost effective as it would not only save $2 billion but also reduce the pipeline stretch by 150 km”.

Pakistan and India have been under pressures from Washington to abandon the deal.

As Israel gears up for war, US divide appears

As Israel gears up for war, US divide appears

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As Israel continues its efforts to portray Iran as a regime hell-bent on a nuclear war, top officials in the White House and the US military express contradictory stances on a potential Israeli attack on Iran.

The top US military commander, Admiral Mike Mullen, warned on Sunday that any military strike against Iran would have “unintended consequences”.

Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Fox News on Sunday that any attack against Iran would be “very destabilizing.”

“I’ve been one who has been concerned about a strike on Iran for some time, because it could be very destabilizing, and it is the unintended consequences of that which aren’t predictable,” he was quoted by AFP as saying.

Meanwhile in the White House, US Vice President Joe Biden said that the US would not stop Israel if it launches an attack against Iran.

The US “cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do,” Biden said, the Associated Press reported.

Israel, the possessor of the sole nuclear arsenal in the Middle East, accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons and drawing up plans to attack the regime.

Iran denies the charges and says under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which the country is a signatory of; it is entitled to conduct a nuclear program for civilian purposes.

The US, Israel’s staunchest ally, has for sometime denied Israel a green light to carry out an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Biden, however, told ABC that Israel is able to determine “what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.”

Zelaya fails to return to Honduras as violence turns deadly

Zelaya fails to return to Honduras as violence turns deadly

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TEGUCIGALPA: Military vehicles blocked the runway to prevent ousted President Manuel Zelaya from landing in Honduras on Sunday, shortly after troops clashed with his supporters, killing two, according to police.

Zelaya attempted his return to the crisis-gripped nation one week after he was kicked out of power, as tensions reached breaking point, with tens of thousands of his supporters massed at the heavily-militarized airport.

Shortly afterwards his plane landed in Nicaragua, officials in El Salvador said, adding that he was later due to arrive in San Salvador.

Troops fired tear gas and shot on angry protesters trying to break into airport, killing two and injuring at least two others, police said, ahead of Zelaya’s much-anticipated arrival.

In a dramatic climax to the day’s tensions, at least half a dozen military vehicles from the same army that sent Zelaya away in his pyjamas one week ago blocked the runway as Zelaya’s plane circled overhead.

Zelaya spoke live from the airplane on Venezuela’s Telesur television, rebroadcast on CNN in Spanish.

“I’m doing everything I can,” Zelaya said. “If I had a parachute I would immediately jump out of this plane.”

Zelaya said he would denounce the situation in Honduras to the international community.

“From tomorrow the responsibility will fall on the powers, particularly the United States,” Zelaya added.

Zelaya was due to join the presidents of Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay, who shortly beforehand landed in El Salvador, according to local press, along with the head of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza.

The pan-American OAS suspended Honduras in an emergency session the previous night, after the interim leaders refused to reinstall Zelaya.

Interim leader Roberto Micheletti ramped up tensions on Sunday by alleging that Nicaraguan troops were moving toward the countries’ joint border, a claim Nicaraguan military immediately denied.

“We have been informed that in the sector of Nicaragua, some troops are moving toward the border,” Micheletti said in a televised news conference.

In Managua, Nicaraguan general Adolfo Zepeda shot back that the information was “totally false”.

Amid growing international isolation, interim leaders also said they had put forward an offer for dialogue in “good faith” with the OAS, after they previously said they were pulling out of the body ahead of the suspension.

But Micheletti also said that no one would pressure him, and still insisted he had taken power in a “constitutional succession”.

The OAS suspended Honduras late Saturday in the first such move since the exclusion of Cuba in 1962.

Members of the pan-American body slammed the leaders of the coup which saw the army remove Zelaya at the height of a dispute with the courts, politicians and the army over his plans to change the constitution, which opponents said included an attempt to stand for a second term.

Night time curfews – which suspend some freedoms guaranteed by the constitution – and media blackouts have since ramped up tension in one of Latin America’s poorest countries.

A freezing of millions of dollars of international aid, regional trade blockades and recalls of foreign ambassadors have also hit the country in the past week.

Chavez, Zelaya’s main backer, has said that Venezuela would suspend key shipments of oil to Honduras, which he said would drive up gasoline prices.

US won’t stand in Israel’s way on Iran, says Biden

US won’t stand in Israel’s way on Iran, says Biden

WASHINGTON: US Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview broadcast that the United States would not stand in the way of Israel in its dealings with Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

“Israel can determine for itself – it’s a sovereign nation – what’s in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else,” Biden told ABC television’s “This Week”.

“Whether we agree or not, they’re entitled to do that… We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination, that they’re existentially threatened.”

But the top US military officer, meanwhile, warned of the dangers posed by any military strike against Iran.

“It could be very destabilising, and it is the unintended consequences of that which aren’t predictable,” Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff told “Fox News Sunday”.

However, he added: “I think it’s very important, as we deal with Iran, that we don’t take any options, including military options, off the table.”

President Barack Obama has said he wants to see progress on his diplomatic outreach to Iran by year’s end, while not excluding a “range of steps”, including tougher sanctions, if Tehran continued its controversial nuclear drive.

Hawkish Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not ruled out a possible military strike against Iran, insisting that Tehran, which the Mossad spy agency could have a ready-to-launch nuclear bomb within five years, must not obtain nuclear weapons.

“If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice,” Biden said. “But there is no pressure from any nation that’s going to alter our behaviour as to how to proceed.”

Israel, the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear-armed state, contends – as does the West – that Iran is seeking to acquire a nuclear arsenal, despite Tehran’s repeated denials.

The Jewish state has also called the Islamic Republic a threat to its existence, citing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call to wipe Israel off the map.

Biden also confirmed that the Obama administration remains open to pursuing negotiations with Tehran, despite the regime’s crackdown on protesters following a disputed election outcome last month that saw Ahmadinejad return to power.

“If the Iranians respond to the offer of engagement, we will engage,” Biden said. “The offer’s on the table.”

Mullen declined to say whether the danger posed by a nuclear-armed Iran would be sufficient to outweigh the negative consequences of a US military strike on Tehran’s weapons programme.

China’s Islamic Uighurs Go On Rampage, 140 Dead (The Next Rose Revolution)

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China says 140 dead in Xinjiang unrest (CIA Has been very busy)

By Tyra Dempster and Mark Chisholm

URUMQI, China (Reuters) – At least 140 people have been killed in rioting in the capital of China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, with the government blaming exiled Muslim separatists for the area’s worst case of ethnic unrest in years.

Hundreds of rioters have been arrested, the official Xinhua news agency reported, after rock-throwing Uighurs took to the streets of the regional capital on Sunday, some burning and smashing vehicles and confronting ranks of anti-riot police.

Urumqi residents were unable to access the Internet on Monday, several said. “The city is basically under martial law,” Yang Jin, a dried fruit merchant, said by telephone.

The unrest underscores the volatile ethnic tensions that have accompanied China’s growing economic and political stake in its western frontiers.

A senior official swiftly delivered the government claim that the unrest was the work of extremist forces abroad, signaling a security crackdown in the strategic region near Pakistan and central Asia.

Li Zhi, the Communist Party boss of Urumqi told a news conference that the death toll from the rioting had risen to 140, the semi-official China News Agency said. Xinhua said 816 people were injured and hospitalized.

“Police have tightened security in downtown Urumqi streets and at key institutions such as power and natural gas companies and TV stations to prevent large-scale riots,” Xinhua quoted Xinjiang police chief Liu Yaohua as saying.

Police rounded up “several hundred” who participated in the violence, including more than 10 key players who fanned unrest, Xinhua said, and are searching for 90 others.

The riot in Urumqi, a city of 2.3 million residents 3,270 km (2,050 miles) west of Beijing, followed a protest against government handling of a June clash between Han Chinese and Uighur factory workers in southern China, where two Uighurs died in Shaoguan.

EXTREMIST FORCES ABROAD

The China Daily put the number of protesters at 300 to 500 while the exiled Uyghur (also spelt Uighur) American Association had it as high as 3,000.

“After the (Shaoguan) incident, the three forces abroad strived to beat this up and seized it as an opportunity to attack us, inciting street protests,” Xinjiang governor Nuer Baikeli, a Uighur, said in a speech shown on Xinjiang television.

The “three forces” refer to groups the government says engage in separatism, militant action and religious extremism.

An unnamed Chinese official said the “unrest was masterminded by the World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer,” according to Xinhua. “This was a crime of violence that was pre-meditated and organized,” said the report.

Rebiya Kadeer is a Uighur businesswoman now in exile in the United States after years in jail, and accused of separatist activities. She did not answer calls for comment.

But exiled Uighur groups adamantly rejected the Chinese government claim of a plot. They said the riot was an outpouring of pent-up anger over government policies and Han Chinese dominance of economic opportunities.

“They’re blaming us as a way to distract the Uighurs’ attention from the discrimination and oppression that sparked this protest,” said Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress in exile in Sweden.

CONSPIRACY THEORY

The government’s claims of conspiracy by pro-independence exiles echo the handling of rioting across Tibetan areas in March last year, which Beijing also called a plot hatched abroad.

Xinjiang is the doorway to China’s trade and energy ties with central Asia, and is itself rich in gas, minerals and farm produce. But many Uighurs say they see little of that wealth.

Chinese state television showed rioters throwing rocks at police and overturning a police car, and smoke billowing from burning vehicles.

“I personally saw several Han people being stabbed. Many people on buses were scared witless,” Zhang Wanxin, a Urumqi resident, said by telephone.

Alim Seytoff, of the Uyghur American Association in Washington D.C., emailed pictures showing hundreds of locals confronting police in Urumqi, armoured riot-control vehicles patrolling streets, wounded and bloodied civilians lying on streets, and ranks of anti-riot police with shields and clubs.

Almost half of Xinjiang’s 20 million people are Uighurs. The population of Urumqi is mostly Han Chinese, and the city is under tight police security even in normal times.

(Additional reporting by Chris Buckley, Emma Graham-Harrison, Yu Le and Benjamin Kang Lim in Beijing and Ben Blanchard in Shanghai; Editing by David Fox)

Obama sends marines to suppress population of southern Afghanistan

Obama sends marines to suppress population of southern Afghanistan

by James Cogan
.// //
Global Research, July 4, 2009
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The Obama administration has ordered the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade (2 MEB) into a potentially bloody offensive in the southern province of Helmand. The objective is the suppression of the ethnic Pashtun population, which is overwhelmingly hostile to the seven-and-a-half year US and NATO occupation of the country and rejects the legitimacy of the Afghan puppet government headed by President Hamid Karzai.

Early Thursday morning, 2 MEB began what has been described as the biggest airlift of marines since the Vietnam War. Code-named “Khanjar”—Pashtun for “strike of the sword”—the operation is the largest undertaken by the Marine Corp since it led the assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004. In all, some 4,000 marines and a 600-strong battalion of the Afghan Army are involved, supported by an array of jet fighters, unmanned drones and helicopter gunships.

An article in Friday’s New York Times by veteran war correspondent Carlotta Gall, who has worked in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2001, made clear why Helmand has been targeted for the first major operation in Obama’s Afghan “surge”.

She wrote that the “mood of the Afghan people has tipped into a popular revolt in some parts of southern Afghanistan”. People have “taken up arms against the foreign troops to protect their homes or in anger at losing relatives in airstrikes”.

Gall noted: “The southern provinces have suffered the worst civilian casualties since NATO’s deployment into the region in 2006. Thousands of people have been displaced by fighting and taken refuge in the towns. ‘Now there are more people siding with the Taliban than with the government’, said Abdul Qadir Noorzai, head of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission…”

One man interviewed by Gall in June declared: “Who are the Taliban? They are the local people.” Another, whose house was bombed by US jets two months ago, said: “We Muslims don’t like them [the foreign troops]. They are the source of danger.”

Gall’s outline of the real state of affairs refutes the barrage of propaganda depicting the offensive as aimed at saving the people from Taliban tyranny, allowing them to vote in upcoming elections and creating conditions for economic development. Helmand is, in reality, the epicentre of popular resistance to the occupation. Thousands of troops have been poured in to force the population to submit.

In the first days of the operation, marine infantry soldiers have been deployed deep into the lower Helmand River Valley, to the south of the new American base near the city of Lashkar Gah. They have occupied the towns of Nawa and Garmser, as well as Khan Neshin, just 130 kilometres from the Pakistani border, which has not been visited by occupation or Afghan government forces for more than five years.

The marine assault was preceded by a British operation two weeks ago to seize 13 river crossings to the north of Lashkar Gah, in order to prevent Taliban reinforcements entering Helmand from insurgent-held areas of the neighbouring province of Kandahar. Yesterday, British units began a new offensive to secure the road between Lashkar Gah and the town of Gereshk in the north of the province.

US officers told the Washington Post that “Khanjar” was the product of months of planning. It has been conceived for Obama by the same figures who directed the Bush administration’s surge of tens of thousands of additional troops to Iraq in 2007. These include, most notably, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joints Chief of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen, Centcom commander General David Petraeus and the recently appointed US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McCrhystal.

The offensive has been timed to coincide with the initial stages of an assault by the Pakistani military into the tribal agency of South Waziristan. The ethnic Pashtun tribal agencies are largely controlled by Islamist movements with close links to the Taliban, who provide Afghan guerillas with safe haven and contribute their own fighters to the anti-occupation insurgency.

The combined operations were described by a Pakistani officer as a “hammer and anvil” strategy. The intention is to force the Taliban to fight on two fronts, against both the US/NATO and Pakistani forces. Mahmood Shah, a retired Pakistani officer, told the Washington Post last month that his sources indicated that Taliban leaders had already “called back their fighters from Afghanistan and are bringing them to Pakistan” to meet an expected attack by the army. The Pakistani military has also deployed additional troops to the border between Helmand and the Pakistani province of Balochistan, to prevent any Afghan Taliban escaping the marines.

The marines in Helmand will duplicate the methods used by the US military in Iraq and they are well qualified to do so. Most of the 2 MEB units, and many of the officers and enlisted men, served one or multiple tours in Iraq’s western province of Anbar. The surge tactics were first tested in Anbar, a centre of Sunni Arab resistance to the US invasion. Over two years, the marines honed their counter-insurgency methods at the cost of thousands of Iraqi lives and the repression of the entire population.

Everyone in the newly occupied areas of Helmand—men, women and children—will be treated as potential insurgents. Bases will be established in towns and villages, from which US troops will use intimidation to identify resistance fighters. Afghans will face constant road-blocks, identity checks and searches. Men of fighting age will have to endure the most humiliating treatment. Local tribal leaders will be offered cash bribes to order their clans to collaborate with the occupation. If they refuse, they will be marked as Taliban sympathisers.

While rarely mentioned in the media’s sanitised descriptions, US counter-insurgency tactics rely heavily on targeted assassinations and arbitrary detention. General McCryhstal has been placed in command in Afghanistan primarily due to his expertise in directing such operations. From 2003 to 2008, he headed the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), whose death squads killed or seized hundreds of alleged leaders and supporters of the Iraqi resistance. The same methods are already being used across Afghanistan by American, British and Australian special forces, and will now be extended into southern Helmand.

In the first days of the Helmand offensive, resistance has been minimal. One marine company fought what an officer described as a “hell of a fight” with Afghan fighters south of Garsmer on Thursday. After hours of gunfire, a jet fighter was called in to destroy the insurgent position with a 500-pound bomb. Further minor clashes took place yesterday. In the areas around Nawa and Khan Neshin, there have been no reports of clashes.

To date, just one marine has been killed and some 11 wounded. Dozens of others have needed treatment for heat exhaustion in the blistering temperatures of the Afghan summer. The British and Danish troops operating in the northern districts of Helmand have also taken casualties. On Wednesday, two British soldiers were killed and six others wounded by a roadside bomb outside Lashkar Gah. Among the dead was Lieutenant Colonel Rupert Thorneloe, the highest ranking British officer to be killed in combat since the 1982 Falklands War. The same day, a Danish soldier was seriously wounded by a suspected mine.

Despite the absence of heavy fighting, concerns have been expressed that the operation may fail due to a lack of troops. According to the Washington Post, the 2 MEB commander, Brigadier General Lawrence Nicholson, had apparently expected that thousands of Afghan government troops would be allocated to “Khanjar”. Instead, only 600 or so are taking part.

Nicholson described the paucity of Afghan forces as a “critical vulnerability”. His marines will be stretched trying to hold what is still only a relatively small area of Taliban-controlled territory, under conditions in which the insurgents are unlikely to confront them in open combat. After more than seven years, the Taliban has learnt to avoid one-sided engagements with the far better armed occupation troops. The resistance will either blend into the sympathetic civilian population or move to safe sites in other areas of Afghanistan. The marines, by contrast, will suffer a steady flow of casualties from roadside bombs, mines and other guerilla attacks.

There are already signs that top Pentagon commanders are pressuring the Obama White House to send even more troops to Afghanistan. To date, Obama has insisted he will not deploy more than the additional 21,000 he ordered to the country upon taking office. General David McKiernan, the former US commander in Afghanistan, was summarily sacked in May largely due to his insistence that more were needed.

Disquiet in the military has clearly not been silenced. McClatchy Newspapers reported on Wednesday that National Security Advisor James Jones, who had just returned from Central Asia, had “started to hear rumblings that new commanders and officials being sent to Afghanistan would quickly urge another shift in strategy and more troops”. An unnamed senior officer allegedly told journalist Bob Woodward that at least 100,000 were needed.

When all the reinforcements arrive, there will be 68,000 American troops in the country and some 30,000 from various NATO countries, many of which are operating under caveats that prevent them moving into combat zones.

Late Wednesday, Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen told journalists that his instructions to General McCryhstal were to come back to him and “ask for what you need” in the way of additional troops. There is no reason to doubt that Obama will accept whatever the military demands. From his election campaign on, he has identified his presidency with not only “winning” the war in Afghanistan but extending it into Pakistan. Behind the façade of rooting out Islamic extremism and terrorism, the agenda is, and always has been, the establishment of US strategic dominance throughout Central Asia.

James Cogan is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by James Cogan

Putting out the fire in Waziristan

Putting out the fire in Waziristan

By Rahimullah Yusufzai

The News International (Pakistan) January 19, 2007 OPINION


First it was South Waziristan and then the violence shifted to neighbouring North Waziristan. Military operations during 2004-2006 were invariably followed by jirgas and peace agreements which somehow stabilised the two troubled tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. But the latest round of airstrikes in both North Waziristan and South Waziristan could lead to the collapse of the peace accords and plunge the tribal borderlands into another round of death and destruction.

The airstrikes, which the Pakistan Army is claiming to have unleashed against hideouts of suspected militants, have predictably triggered controversy. The government’s credibility in view of its track record is so low that most people don’t believe its claim that Pakistan Army’s gunship helicopters were responsible for the airstrikes in Gurwek in North Waziristan and then on January 16 in Salamat village in Shak Toi area of South Waziristan. The common belief is that the US military using its pilotless, CIA-operated Predator planes fired the missiles that hit targets inside Pakistani territory. That impression was first created on January 13 when two Hellfire missiles fired by a US drone targeted Damadola village in Bajaur tribal agency and killed 13 civilians, including women and children, in their sleep in three mud-brick houses. This image is now etched in the memory of a large number of Pakistanis after being reinforced by another US missile strike at a madressah in Chingai village in Bajaur on October 30 last year. This attack was the most devastating since the launch of the misguided, imperialism-driven US ‘war on terror’ in our part of the world as it killed 80 young and innocent students and some of their teachers.

As was the case in the past, we are once again hearing conflicting versions of the incident in the remote Shak Toi mountainous area in South Waziristan. There is such a wide discrepancy in the stories being put out by different stakeholders that it is almost impossible to find the truth. The absence of independent sources of information makes the task even more difficult to piece together a believable sequence of events. The difficulties facing the media to gain access to the targeted place due to its remoteness and on account of unannounced official curbs remain a hurdle in getting to know the real situation on the ground. Military spokesman Major General Shaukat Sultan was as usual sure that up to 30 ‘miscreants’ including foreign militants had been killed by taking out three of their five compounds. The next day he came up with the statement that security forces were hunting a handful of ‘Al Qaeda fighters’ who were wounded in the airstrikes and were reportedly shifted by their companions to some secret place. As happened in similar attacks in the past, the government was unable to put troops on the ground to secure the area after the bombings and obtain evidence to establish that it indeed had hit the right target. Rather, one may well ask as to why the military cannot drop troops as it has been doing in past military operations in Waziristan and lay siege to suspected hideouts of militants to nab them instead of carrying out airstrikes that are often inaccurate and kill innocent people.

Reports from Salamat village told a different story. Villagers said only eight people were killed and all were civilians. Among them were three Pakistani tribesmen, including a 10-year-old boy, and five Afghans, all powindahs or nomads who are a familiar sight in the NWFP and in Afghanistan as they walk with their caravans of camels to spend winters in the plains and summers in mountainous areas. The names of the dead men, their fathers and sub-tribe were provided to make the information authentic. It was explained that all the victims, including the 10 who were injured in the attack, were working in the nearby forest logging wood and making charcoal for sale in the markets down country. It was difficult not to believe them because they belong to the area and apparently were not involved in any kind of politics.

Protests invariably followed, starting with Tank which serves as the gateway to South Waziristan. It is home to a large number of Mahsud and Wazir tribal families who have migrated to Tank to do business or spend the winter in relatively warmer weather compared to their snow-bound villages in South Waziristan. Protests have broken out elsewhere also and statements condemning the government’s action have been put forth by leaders of both the clergy-led MMA and others belonging to secular and nationalist parties. Political parties in such instances react along party lines and, therefore, it becomes impossible to get a more objective understanding and analysis of the situation.

Sections of the western media, including Sky News, have reported that the latest airstrikes in South Waziristan were launched by the US military with the help of its Predator plane. One report claimed that the US government allowed Pakistan to take credit for the airstrikes. If true, it is a continuation of last year’s missile strikes in Bajaur that too were fired from US drones. There is no guarantee that such attacks will not be repeated in future even though President General Pervez Musharraf said last year that the US authorities had assured him after the Damadola airstrikes that it won’t happen again. He was justifiably angry that he wasn’t taken into confidence about the Damadola attack despite risking his life by taking on Al Qaeda and the Taliban and doing so much to make the US and its allied countries safer. The US has given itself the right to launch pre-emptive strikes anywhere in the world to protect its interests and it seems objections by Pakistan or other weaker nations to this policy don’t count much in President Bush’s scheme of things. It is another matter that such airstrikes cause so much ‘collateral damage’ that America makes more enemies than it can kill after each such attack.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, it is time the Musharraf government defined the limits and parameters of its cooperation with the US in the so-called ‘war on terror.’ Its policy of open-ended support to the US has polarised our society and alienated large sections of the population, particularly in the NWFP, Balochistan and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas. The strategy of making peace accords with the tribes and the militants was the right thing to do even if it is criticised by western governments, the media and think-tanks as a policy of appeasement. Such accords were signed as a necessity to reduce losses to the military and our people by employing traditional peacemaking methods such as jirgas. Pakistan has to look after its own interest first instead of bombing villages on the basis of incomplete and faulty intelligence supplied by the US and NATO.

However, the peace agreements need to be implemented in letter and spirit and regularly monitored and reviewed. The country cannot afford its territory to be used for launching attacks across the Durand Line border in Afghanistan. The peace accords specifically mentioned this point but there are credible reports that cross-border infiltration hasn’t stopped. In fact, pro-Taliban commanders such as Baitullah Mahsud and Haji Omar, who concluded peace deals with the government in South Waziristan in 2005, have publicly stated that they will continue to wage their ‘jihad’ against the US-led coalition in Afghanistan. This cannot be allowed at any cost because involvement of Pakistani fighters in the fighting between the Afghan government and Taliban is drawing Islamabad into the conflict and jeopardising the country’s security. Any sanctuaries for Taliban on Pakistan’s soil too must be removed. At the same time, the Afghan government and all those countries with soldiers in Afghanistan must also realise that military tactics alone will not end the insurgency. They will have to seek reconciliation with the Taliban and their allies and provide them incentives to stop fighting and join the political mainstream.

The writer is an executive editor of The News International based in Peshawar.