Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan And The Battle For Central Asia

Stop NATO

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was deposed five years after and in the same manner as he came to power, in a bloody uprising.

Elected president two months after the so-called Tulip Revolution of 2005 he helped engineer, he was since then head of state of the main transit nation for the U.S. and NATO war in Afghanistan.

The Pentagon secured the Manas Air Base (as of last year known as the Transit Center at Manas) in Kyrgyzstan shortly after its invasion of Afghanistan in October of 2001 and in the interim, according to a U.S. armed forces publication last June, “More than 170,000 coalition personnel passed through the base on their way in or out of Afghanistan, and Manas was the transit point for 5,000 tons of cargo, including spare parts and equipment, uniforms and various items to support personnel and mission needs.

“Currently, around 1,000 U.S. troops, along with a few hundred from Spain and France, are assigned to the base.” [1]

The White House’s Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard Holbrooke paid his first visit in his current position to Kyrgyzstan – and the three other former Soviet Central Asian republics which border it, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – in February and said “35,000 US troops were transiting each month on their way in and out of Afghanistan.” [2] At the rate he mentioned, 420,000 troops annually.

The U.S. and NATO also established military bases in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for the war in South Asia, but on a smaller scale. (U.S. military forces were ordered out of the second country following what the government claimed was a Tulip Revolution-type armed uprising in its province of Andijan less than two months after the Kyrgyz precedent. Germany maintains a base near the Uzbek city of Termez to transit troops and military equipment to Afghanistan’s Kunduz province where the majority of its 4,300 forces are concentrated.)

In February of 2009 the Bakiyev government announced that it was also evicting U.S. and NATO forces from its country, but relented in June when Washington offered it $60 million to reverse its decision.

Kyrgyzstan borders China.

It not only borders China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, but is only separated from Russia by a single nation, Kazakhstan. To gain an appreciation of Russian and Chinese concerns over hundreds of thousands of U.S. and NATO troops passing through Kyrgyzstan, imagine a comparable amount of Chinese and Russian soldiers regularly passing through Mexico and Guatemala, respectively. For almost nine years and at an accelerating rate.

It is not only a military “hard power” but also a “soft power” threat that the Western role in Kyrgyzstan poses to Russia and China.

The nation is a member of the post-Soviet Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) along with Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – seen by many as the only counterpart to NATO in former Soviet space – and of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) with China, Russia and the three above-mentioned fellow Central Asian countries.

According to U.S. officials, during and after the Tulip Revolution of 2005 not a single U.S. or NATO flight into the Manas Air Base was cancelled or even delayed. But a six-nation CSTO exercise scheduled for days afterward was cancelled.

The uprising and the deposing of standing president Askar Akayev in March of 2005 was the third self-styled “color revolution” in the former Soviet Union in sixteen months, following the Rose Revolution in Georgia in late 2003 and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in late 2004 and early 2005.

As the Kyrgyz version was underway Western news media were asking the question “Who’s next?” Candidates included other former Soviet states like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Moldova and Uzbekistan. And Russia. Along with Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan those nations accounted for ten of the twelve members of the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

As Agence France-Presse detailed in early April of 2005: “The CIS was founded in December 1991 on the very day the Soviet Union disappeared….But over the past year and a half, three faithful Kremlin allies were toppled in…revolutions: Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia, Leonid Kuchma in Ukraine, and, last week, Askar Akayev in Kyrgyzstan….Even though Kyrgyzstan’s new interim leaders have vowed to continue their deposed predecessor’s Moscow-friendly policies, the lightning toppling of the government there has spawned speculation that the CIS would soon collapse.” [3]

The leader of the “color revolution” prototype, Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili, gloated over the Kyrgyz “regime change,” attributing the “brave” actions of the opposition in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan “to the Georgia factor,” and added, “We are not waiting for the development of events, but are doing our best to destroy the empire in the CIS.” [4]

Shortly after the uprising former Indian diplomat and political analyst M.K. Bhadrakumar wrote of the then seemingly inexorable momentum of “color” revolts in the former Soviet Union:

“[A]ll the three countries [Georgia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan] are strategically placed in the post-Soviet space. They comprise Russia’s ‘near abroad.’

“Washington has been expanding its influence in the arc of former Soviet republics — in the Baltics…the Caucasus, and Central Asia – in recent years with a tenacity that worries Moscow.

“Ever since 2003 when Mr. Akayev decided on allowing Russia to establish a full-fledged military base in Kant he knew he was on the American ‘watch list.’ The political temperature within Kyrgyzstan began to rise.

“The Americans made it clear in many ways that they desired a regime change in Bishkek….The ‘revolution’ in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan has already thrown up surprises. A comparison with the two earlier ‘colour revolutions’ in Georgia and Ukraine will be a good starting point.

“First, the striking similarities between the three ‘revolutions’ must be duly noted. All three are meant to signify the unstoppable spread of the fire of liberty lit by the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq in the aftermath of 9/11.

“But behind the rhetoric, the truth is that the U.S. wanted regime change in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan because of difficulties with the incumbent leadership. The leaders of all the three countries — Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia, Leonid Kuchma in Ukraine, and Askar Akayev in Kyrgyzstan — had enjoyed the support of the U.S. during most of their rule.

“Washington had cited them repeatedly as the beacons of hope for democracy and globalisation in the territories of the former Soviet Union.

“Their trouble began when they incrementally began to edge towards a resurgent Russia under Vladimir Putin.” [5]

Seven weeks after Bhadrakumar’s column appeared his analysis would be confirmed by no less an authority on the matter than U.S. President George W. Bush.

Visiting the capital of Georgia a year and a half after its “Rose Revolution,” he was hosted by his counterpart Mikheil Saakashvili, former State Department fellowship recipient and U.S. resident, who seized power in what can only be described as a putsch but nevertheless said:

“Georgia will become the main partner of the United States in spreading democracy and freedom in the post-Soviet space. This is our proposal. We will always be with you in protecting freedom and democracy.”

Bush reflected Saakashvili’s inflated estimate of himself: “You are making many important contributions to freedom’s cause, but your most important contribution is your example. Hopeful changes are taking places from Baghdad to Beirut and Bishkek [Kyrgyzstan]. But before there was a Purple Revolution in Iraq or Orange Revolution in Ukraine or a Cedar Revolution in Lebanon, there was a Rose Revolution in Georgia.” [6]

A few days after the Kyrgyz coup Bush welcomed Ukraine’s “orange” president Viktor Yushchenko – who this January only received 5.45 per cent of the vote in his reelection bid – and applauded his U.S.-assisted ascent to power, saying it “may have looked like it was only a part of the history of Ukraine, but the Orange Revolution represented revolutions elsewhere as well….We share a goal to spread freedom to other nations.” [7]

Beyond the threat of the dissolution of the CIS and of the CSTO, in April of 2005 Der Spiegel featured a report with the title “Revolutions Speed Russia’s Disintegration.”

In part it revealed the prime movers behind the events in Kyrgyzstan:

“As early as February,” Roza Otunbayeva – now the apparent head of the provisional government – “pledged allegiance to a small group of partners and sponsors of the Kyrgyz revolution, to ‘our American friends’ at Freedom House (who donated a printing press in Bishkek to the opposition), and to George Soros, a speculator who previously helped unseat Edward Shevardnadze’s government in Georgia.

“Trying to help the democratic process, the Americans poured some $12 million into Kyrgyzstan in the form of scholarships and donations – and that was last year alone. Washington’s State Department even funded TV station equipment in the rebellious southern province town of Osh.” [8]

In June George Soros was obliging enough to confirm Otunbayeva’s gratitude was not without foundation by stating, “I provided for Georgian public servants to get $1,200 a month….And now I am ready to support the creation of a fund like this in Kyrgyzstan.” [9]

The two Georges – Bush and Soros – were not alone in fathering the “color” geostrategic transformations from the Balkans to the former Soviet Union and the Middle East. They received generous assistance from the likes of Freedom House, the National Endowment for Democracy, the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and other alleged non-governmental organizations.

A week after the “tulip” takeover the project director for Freedom House, Mike Stone, summed up the role of his organization with two words: “Mission accomplished.” [10]

A British newspaper that interviewed him added, “US involvement in the small, mountainous country is higher proportionally than it was for Georgia’s ‘rose’ revolution or Ukraine’s ‘orange’ uprising.” [11]

Assistance also was provided by Western-funded and -trained “youth activists” modeled after and trained by those organized in Yugoslavia to topple the government of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000:

Compare the names:

Yugoslavia: Otpor! (Resistance!)
Ukraine: Pora! (It’s Time!)
Georgia: Kmara (Enough)
Kyrgyzstan: KelKel (Stand Up and Go)

Behind them all, deposed Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev identified the true architects of his ouster. On April 2 he stated “There were international organisations who supported and financed the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.

“A week before these events I saw a letter on the internet signed by the US ambassador to Kyrgyzstan. It contained a detailed plan for the revolution.” [12]

The Kyrgyz Tulip (formerly Lemon, Pink and Daffodil) Revolution was as unconstitutional and as disruptive to the nation as its Georgian and Ukrainian predecessors were, but far more violent. Deaths and injuries occurred in the southern cities of Osh and Jalal Abad (Jalalabad, Jalal-Abad) and in the capital of Bishkek.

It was also the first “color” revolt in a nation bordering China. Not only did Russia and China voice grave concerns over the developments in Kyrgyzstan, Iran did also, seeing where the trajectory of “regime change” campaigns was headed.

….

In the four decades of the Cold War political changes through elections or otherwise in any nation in the world – no matter how small, impoverished, isolated and seemingly insignificant – assumed importance far exceeding their domestic effects. World political analysts and policy makers asked the key question: Which way would the new government align itself, with the U.S. or the Soviet Union?

In the post-Cold War period the question is no longer one of political philosophy or socio-economic orientation, but this: How will the new administration support or oppose U.S. plans for regional and global dominance?

With Roza Otunbayeva as now official head of a new Kyrgyz interim “people’s government,” there is reason to believe that Washington will not be dissatisfied with the overthrow of her former “tulip” partner Bakiyev. She has already confirmed that the American base at Manas will not be closed.

Having earlier served as her nation’s first ambassador to the U.S. and Britain, less than two months after the 2005 coup Otunbayeva, then acting foreign minister, met with her U.S. counterpart Condoleezza Rice in Washington during which the latter assured her that “the U.S. administration will continue to help the Kyrgyz government promote democratic processes in the country.” [13]

Shortly after the March “democratic transformation,” its patron saint, Georgia’s Mikheil Saakashvili, boasted that “Roza Otunbayeva worked in Tbilisi in recent years and was the head of UN office in Abkhazia. During the Rose Revolution she was in Georgia and knew everything that was happening…the Georgian factor was a catalyst of many things going on there [in Kyrgyzstan].”[14]

From the U.S. perspective she appears to have reliable bona fides.

Russia has put its air base in Kyrgyzstan on high alert, though comments from leading Russian government officials – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in particular – indicate an acceptance of the uprising which has already caused 65 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

But Russia attempted to put the best face on the revolt five years ago also.

Which direction the next Kyrgyz government takes will have repercussions far greater than what the nation’s small size and population (slightly over five million) might indicate.

It could affect U.S. and NATO plans for the largest military offensive of the Afghan war scheduled to begin in two months in Kandahar province.

It could determine the future of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the two major potential barriers to Western military penetration of vast tracts of Eurasia.

The stakes could hardly be higher.

1) Stars and Stripes, June 16, 2009
2) Agence France-Presse, March 4, 2010
3) Agence France-Presse, April 3, 2005
4) The Messenger, March 31, 2005
5) The Hindu, March 28, 2005
6) Civil Georgia, May 10, 2005
7) Associated Press, April 4, 2005
8) Der Spiegel, April 4, 2005
9) Russian Information Agency Novosti, June 16, 2005
10) The Telegraph, April 2, 2005
11) Ibid
12) Associated Press, April 2, 2005
13) Interfax, June 15, 2005
14) Civil Georgia, March 30, 2005

BLOWBACK: SOROS AND THE CIA CRASH IN KYRGYZSTAN

BLOWBACK: SOROS AND THE CIA CRASH IN KYRGYZSTAN

This is a black ‘blowback’ day for the criminal cartel’s war machine, which relies heavily on it’s Manas base there. Not only for the transfer of armed ‘errand boys’ aka ‘troops’ for the illegal occupation, but also for Big Pharma’s billion dollar drug industry in Afghanistan.* To make matters worse: apart from their Kant base, Moscow also wants a second base.

Henk Ruyssenaars

April 8th 2010 – Five years after the global criminal cartel* via their front; the U.S. administration and with armed ‘gofers’ from the NSA/CIA and their ‘Tulip Revolution’ – with war criminal and speculator George Soros financing a lot – their ‘president’ Bakiyev was deposed the same way as he came to power: in a bloody uprising.* Bakiyev by the way – who now has fled – symbolically named the building where his totalitarian adminstration was seated on it’s bloody throne the same as in Washington: the ‘White House.’ Usurped by the criminal cartel here as there…

The battle among those gory and Gargantuan giants, has as always absolutely nothing to do with human beings. They are – in the eyes of the profiteers – only ‘colletaral damage.’ This is about power and profit from the wars and the drugs.

The latest US TIME magazine: “In a March 5 interview with TIME, an Obama Administration senior official said it had been a close call for the U.S. “That we have the Manas base in Kyrgyzstan is a great achievement,” he said. “Russia didn’t want to allow us to have that. They put down $2 billion to get us out. But Obama had very frank discussions with [Russian President Dmitri] Medvedev.

He said, If you believe we have a common enemy in Afghanistan, then this is going to help us fight that common enemy. Had we lost that, it would have been a major blow. It is a major hub for getting our soldiers in and out of there.” – [end quote]*

It’s all a battle about power and profit for the war criminals in Central Asia, and Al Jazeera* – which years ago turned into a propaganda broadcaster for the cartel’s war machine, justifying more or less the illegal invasions – writes today about the Kyrgyz opposition which ‘seizes power’ – and because al Jazeera is advocating the cartel – it’s written in brackets:

Kyrgyz opposition ‘seizes power’

Opposition leaders in Kyrgyzstan say they have seized power after taking control of security headquarters, state television and other government buildings following a day of deadly unrest. “The security service and the interior ministry, all of them are already under the management of new people,” Rosa Otunbayeva, a former foreign minister, told the Russian-language Mir TV channel on Thursday.

The opposition claim came after Kurmanbek Bakiyev, the president, fled the capital Bishkek amid violent clashes between anti-government protesters and riot police on Wednesday. Reports said that Bakiyev is currently in the southern city of Osh.” – [end quote]*

But Soros’ role in the criminal cartel’s ‘Tulip Revolution’ disaster is evident. Website encyclopedia Wikipedia – which also is managed by Soros’ ‘Brethren in the Faith’ – writes this about him:

“George Soros (pronounced /ˈsɔroʊs/ or /ˈsɔrəs/,[3] Hungarian IPA: [ˈʃoroʃ]; born August 12, 1930, as Schwartz György) is a Hungarian-American currency speculator, stock investor, businessman, philanthropist, and political activist. The [jewish] family changed its name in 1936 from Schwartz to Soros, in response to growing anti-semitism with the rise of Fascism.”*

Soros, who is part and parcel of the criminal actions globally going on, is always up-front, albeit often ‘covered’. Soros, like the rest of those humanoids, makes money out off the blood, sweat and tears of human beings everywhere.

The treacherous ‘Soros Foundation’ – which through those so called ‘colored revolutions’ only ‘helps’ itself, the CIA and the criminal cartel – also had an official office at 55A, Logvinenko St. in Bishkek, 720040, Kyrgyzstan. – Url.: http://www.soros.kg/?lang=en

You can imagine what Soros and his collaborators did to these 5 million people too. No wonder the Soros collaborators are silent now… And run…

The Peace Pipeline

The Peace Pipeline

By:  Peter Chamberlin

Obama is a flexible puppet in the empire-builders hands, readily facilitating the decades-old scheme to seize control of the former Soviet satellite nations and all of their vast energy resources.  But, unlike Bush and Cheney, he seems to have a strong sense of conscience that is occasionally revealed on his face as a furrowed brow or clenched lips, whenever he is taking another immoral step for Empire, which carries a heavy human toll.

If this guilt for the actions he is taking is real moral guilt and not more stage-acting, then it is his weakness, that could potentially be exploited to compel our President to create actual change.  He has a lot of fresh blood on his hands for the decisions he has made so far, but even more because of the ones he has resisted making.

The fresh blood of several hundred Kyrgyz citizens is merely the freshest blood to stain Obama’s hands, wafting upwards into his face, filling his nostrils with the warm stench of mortal wounds.  Maybe the disgust he feels can linger in his brain long enough to interfere with his programming.

The pipeline project and the accompanying psychological warfare program intended to bring it about is directly responsible for both the “colored revolutions” of Central Asia and the terror attacks upon Russia.  These things are all part of the process of exporting democratic-revolution.

The depths of the treachery involved in putting together this plan to take control of former Russian territories is unfathomable to most of us. The twisted machinations used to carry it all out are unbelievably complex, even so, it all threatens to fall apart over the Kyrgyz fiasco.

If things unfold as they seem to be heading, then we are very likely witnessing a replay of the Georgia/South Ossetia conflict, with Obama replacing Bush in the paradigm of the latest confrontation with Putin.  The outcome will seal the fate of the planned Northern Distribution Network, and with it, the outcome of the Afghan “exit strategy.”  In truth, the world will see that the only real need for the northern supply route is to carry the Afghan war deep into former Russian territory.  It will also see that carrying the war into Central Asia is the real reason for prolonging the Afghan war.  Obama has rolled the dice on this scheme and it may have come up “snake eyes.”

If this prediction holds true, then our president of change will either have to settle-up, or double his bet—and the United States has little of the needed economic, military, or psychological capital needed to double our present enormous American commitment to the plans of conquest.  Maybe the obstacles to the plan that have arisen in Kyrgyzstan (coupled with the repellent thought of anticipated new waves of death) will motivate Obama to side with the people over the puppet-masters, who pull his strings.  It is a long shot, but it remains a realistic hope.

If America had a president of the people, then he would turn this into a true moment of change.  The great change that we all so desperately need at this time is an end to the pipeline wars.

This means that the contest to control the gas and oil must end here and now, to be replaced with a more peaceful path of mutual cooperation.  The competition between two blocks to control this resource must be replaced by a consortium of all nations, under an international treaty, to build “Peace Pipelines,” to bring these vital resources to the world and to return the profits from the gas and oil to their rightful owners, the people of the “Stans,” and to those nations that supply the access routes.

The people of the world need what the people of Central Asia have to sell.  It is up to the real leaders and statesmen of the world to ensure that this transaction comes about in a peaceful manner, not it the dog-eat-dog struggle that has engulfed and bankrupted the entire world.

peterchamberlin@naharnet.com

Faux Elections Are the Hallmark of Western “Democracy” At Home and In Our War Zones

["Western Democracy" is revolutionary and subversive.  It undermines the people's rights, wherever it raises its ugly head, from the corrupted American Supreme Court decision to allow the corporate takeover over the electoral process, to the countless puppet regimes put in place by the State Dept. machinery of subversion and the limitless NROs (Non governmental organizations) who spread the unrest, intended to foment the next flowered revolution.  The American people are the world's greatest cowards for allowing such a situation to develop and spread like a vile contagion--all for the sake of greed.  It's past time that we put this sickness to an end.]

As democracy unravels at home, the west thuggishly exports it elsewhere

While the US and Britain slide towards oligarchy, the forced elections in Afghanistan and Iraq have brought no good

The west’s proudest export to the Islamic world this past decade has been democracy. That is, not real democracy, which is too complicated, but elections. They have been exported at the point of a gun and a missile to Iraq and Afghanistan, to “nation-build” these states and hence “defeat terror”. When apologists are challenged to show some good resulting from the shambles, they invariably reply: “It has given Iraqis and Afghans freedom to vote.”

As British electors don democratic finery and troop to the polls next month, elections in both war-torn countries are looking sick. Last month’s poll in Iraq, blessed (or cursed) with a Westminster-style constitution, has failed to yield a coherent government. It appeared to show the incumbent prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, just beaten by his predecessor, Ayad Allawi. If so, it would be a remarkable case of a developing world democracy actually ejecting a sitting leader. In that respect, Iraq would be ahead of Britain, where the opposition must lead by at least 10 percentage points to be certain of power.

For the time being, Baghdad’s government has been in abeyance. The Sunni militias, reportedly backed by al‑Qaida, have returned to the streets, and the death rate is again soaring. Kurdistan is all but a separate country, and the odds are on the Sunnis being forced back into a semi-autonomous region. Tens of thousands of Iraqis have died and millions been driven from their homes – including almost all Iraq’s ancient population of Christians. The import of democracy has so far just inflamed local tension and fuelled fundamentalism. Like precious porcelain, elections were exported without instructions on their care. In the absence of adequate security, they are little more than tribal plebiscites.

At least in Iraq western troops are leaving the country to its fate. The west’s guilt at the mayhem left behind will start to diminish with time. People will blame George Bush and Tony Blair, leaving them, as they wish, to render their account not to the Iraqis but only to God.

In Afghanistan, a similar saga has been running for nine years, and is growing ever more tragic. Last year saw the deaths of more Afghans (2,412) and more western troops (520) than since the 2001 invasion. Nato is locked in a struggle to hold Helmand province for the government of the president, Hamid Karzai, against insurgents who can wait as long as they like to defeat the hated invaders.

Nato is only now seeking control, nine years on, of the country’s second city of Kandahar, in which the Taliban is dominant and the president’s brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, is the power broker. Karzai is said to have told local elders that there will be no assault on Kandahar “without their permission”. If Nato cannot negotiate a deal over the city, rather than reduce it to rubble, its mission is surely doomed.

The fact that Hamid Karzai was elected, by whatever dubious means, seems to infuriate western leaders. Barack Obama, Gordon Brown and their respective foreign ministers rage and telephone and pay visits and expostulate. The repetitive criticism hurled at Karzai for being corrupt and in the pocket of drug lords has become near comical, not least because of his eccentric response. Last week he threatened privately to swear allegiance to the Taliban himself (which might solve many problems).

The west is constantly telling Karzai to “clean up his act” or, as the New York Times harrumphs, “stop doing whatever he and his aides choose”. This is not because there is any likelihood of his obeying, but to help make the domestic case for the war look less shaky. As the joke in Kabul goes, as long as the west pretends to uphold his regime, Karzai must “pretend to be Swedish”. He is America’s exhibit A for world democracy. The idea that he might regard himself as the elected representative of the Afghan people, warts and all, with a future to consider and his neck on the line, is beyond consideration.

Democracy in both America and Britain is coming under scrutiny these days. Quite apart from the antics of MPs and congressmen, it is said to be sliding towards oligarchy, with increasing overtones of autocracy. Money and its power over technology are making elections unfair. The military-industrial complex is as powerful as ever, having adopted “the menace of global terrorism” as its casus belli. Lobbying and corruption are polluting the government process. In a nutshell, democracy is not in good shape.

How strange to choose this moment to export it, least of all to countries that have never experienced it in their history. The west not only exports the stuff, it does so with massive, thuggish violence, the antithesis of how self-government should mature in any polity. The tortured justification in Iraq and Afghanistan is that elections will somehow sanctify a “war against terrorism” waged on someone else’s soil. The resulting death and destruction have been appalling. Never can an end, however noble, have so failed to justify the means of achieving it.

The high-minded attacks on corruption in Muslim states from London and Washington is futile. In most countries corruption is the lubricant of power. Nor is the west that clean. Britain showered corruption on the Saudis to obtain arms contracts. The activities of American firms in “rebuilding” Iraq were wholly corrupt. In 2001 the British in Kabul – in the person of Clare Short no less – were put in charge of suppressing Afghan opium, fuel of most of that country’s corruption. Britain allowed it to continue, when the Taliban had been in the process of stamping it out.

The Tories and Liberal Democrats are dishonest to say that the Afghan war is justified “provided” Karzai ends corruption, stops rigging elections, and trains his army and police. None of this will happen, and is merely cover to avoid saying what these politicians know to be true – that British soldiers are dying for a dud hypothetical.

As Britons go the polls, they should challenge their candidates to justify what is being done in their name. A system of government that they have spent two centuries evolving and still not perfected is being rammed down the throats of poor and insecure people, who are then hectored for not handling it properly. Why should they? The invasions of their countries was not their choice. They did not ask to be a model for Britain’s moral exhibitionism. They did not plead for their villages to be target practice for western special forces.

Karzai is told he will lose Nato protection if he continues to associate with drug dealers and warlords – many of whom appear to be his relatives. He knows – as we know – that this is bluff. There can be no counter-insurgency without a client regime. Obama and Brown need him as much as he needs them.

Amid this bluff the only certainty for Karzai is that, one day, Nato will get fed up and leave him to his fate, as it is now leaving Maliki in Baghdad. If he wants to live, he must make his peace with Afghans, not Americans, and that means on Afghan terms. Free and fair elections and a stop to corruption will have no part to play in that survival game. Democracy has been greatly oversold.

Another organ trafficking ring surfaces in Israel

Another organ trafficking ring surfaces in Israel

Saed Bannoura

8scheperhughes_organ_trafficked.jpg
Brazilian man whose kidney was sold via an Israeli broker (photo Nancy Scheper-Hughes)

IMEMC

Just months after the Israeli government’s chief pathologist was exposed admitting years of involvement in organ trafficking involving both Israeli and Palestinian civilians without their consent, another major organ trafficking ring has been exposed by Israeli police on Wednesday.

According to Israeli police reports, six suspects were arrested in a sting operation of the organ trafficking ring on Wednesday, including two lawyers and a retired Brigadier General from the Israeli military who was the recipient of a Medal of Valour in the 1967 war.

“We ran an undercover investigation and we were shocked by the proportions of this”, said Israeli police superintendent Ahron Galor. The six suspects arrested in the raid have had their remand extended for an additional six days, according to the Magistrate for the District of Nazareth in northern Israel.

The lawyers involved in the scandal allegedly forged documents, including Israeli medical records and travel documents, in order for desperate Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to travel abroad to have a kidney or other organ removed. The trafficking ring would then sell the organ in Israel or abroad for $140,000. This meant quite a profit for those involved, as the person would be paid as little as $20,000 for their organ.

Several victims were named in the case, including a 50-year old woman from Nazareth who was flown to Azerbaijan to have her kidney removed, and was promised $100,000, which she never received. An 18-year old teen was flown to the Philippines, and offered $80,000, which he never received.

This is not the first time an Israeli organ-trafficking ring has been uncovered – despite Israeli claims that such allegations are ‘blood libel’ and ‘anti-Semitism’. When the Swedish paper Aftonbladet published an article in August 2009 quoting Palestinian sources who claimed that loved ones who were killed during Israeli military operations sometimes had their bodies returned with missing organs. The article raised an uproar, including calls for censorship by the Israeli government, petitions for the removal of the article’s author signed by the heads of major Jewish organizations, the recall of the Israeli ambassador to Sweden, and numerous op-eds asserting that the article was indicative of a trend of ‘growing anti-Semitism’ in Sweden and throughout Europe. But months afterward, when a video surfaced documenting Israel’s chief pathologist confirming the claims made in the Aftonbladet article, few media outlets reported it.

When the US Federal Bureau of Investigation busted a major crime ring in New Jersey in July 2009, including Rabbis, Mayors and Congressmembers, one of the most shocking parts of the crime ring was the exposure of an international organ trafficking trade between Israel, the US and other countries around the globe, led by Levy Itzak Rosenbaum of Brooklyn. At that time, the leading expert in organ trafficking in the US, Professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes, said that she was not surprised by Rosenbaum’s arrest, adding that she had told law enforcement agencies about his involvement in organ trafficking way back in 2001. But according to Scheper-Hughes, although most of the trade originated in Israel, “It was a public secret,” she said, “It was normalized in Israel.”

George W. Bush ‘knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent’

[One in seven detainees released from Guantanamo returns to the battlefield, according to a classified Defense Intelligence Agency report that was leaked to the New York Times in May.  But this is nowhere near as important as how many of these former prisoners actually turned to the battlefield against the US military, after the way they were humiliated and abused by American torturers at Guantanamo?]

George W. Bush ‘knew Guantánamo prisoners were innocent’

Tim Reid

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April 8, 2010

George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror, according to a new document obtained by The Times.

The accusations were made by Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Colin Powell, the former Republican Secretary of State, in a signed declaration to support a lawsuit filed by a Guantánamo detainee. It is the first time that such allegations have been made by a senior member of the Bush Administration.

Colonel Wilkerson, who was General Powell’s chief of staff when he ran the State Department, was most critical of Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld. He claimed that the former Vice-President and Defence Secretary knew that the majority of the initial 742 detainees sent to Guantánamo in 2002 were innocent but believed that it was “politically impossible to release them”.

General Powell, who left the Bush Administration in 2005, angry about the misinformation that he unwittingly gave the world when he made the case for the invasion of Iraq at the UN, is understood to have backed Colonel Wilkerson’s declaration.

Colonel Wilkerson, a long-time critic of the Bush Administration’s approach to counter-terrorism and the war in Iraq, claimed that the majority of detainees — children as young as 12 and men as old as 93, he said — never saw a US soldier when they were captured. He said that many were turned over by Afghans and Pakistanis for up to $5,000. Little or no evidence was produced as to why they had been taken.

He also claimed that one reason Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld did not want the innocent detainees released was because “the detention efforts would be revealed as the incredibly confused operation that they were”. This was “not acceptable to the Administration and would have been severely detrimental to the leadership at DoD [Mr Rumsfeld at the Defence Department]“.

Referring to Mr Cheney, Colonel Wilkerson, who served 31 years in the US Army, asserted: “He had absolutely no concern that the vast majority of Guantánamo detainees were innocent … If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.”

He alleged that for Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld “innocent people languishing in Guantánamo for years was justified by the broader War on Terror and the small number of terrorists who were responsible for the September 11 attacks”.

He added: “I discussed the issue of the Guantánamo detainees with Secretary Powell. I learnt that it was his view that it was not just Vice-President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld, but also President Bush who was involved in all of the Guantánamo decision making.”

Mr Cheney and Mr Rumsfeld, Colonel Wilkerson said, deemed the incarceration of innocent men acceptable if some genuine militants were captured, leading to a better intelligence picture of Iraq at a time when the Bush Administration was desperate to find a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11, “thus justifying the Administration’s plans for war with that country”.

He signed the declaration in support of Adel Hassan Hamad, a Sudanese man who was held at Guantánamo Bay from March 2003 until December 2007. Mr Hamad claims that he was tortured by US agents while in custody and yesterday filed a damages action against a list of American officials.

Defenders of Guantánamo said that detainees began to be released as early as September 2002, nine months after the first prisoners were sent to the jail at the US naval base in Cuba. By the time Mr Bush left office more than 530 detainees had been freed.

A spokesman for Mr Bush said of Colonel Wilkerson’s allegations: “We are not going to have any comment on that.” A former associate to Mr Rumsfeld said that Mr Wilkerson’s assertions were completely untrue.

The associate said the former Defence Secretary had worked harder than anyone to get detainees released and worked assiduously to keep the prison population as small as possible. Mr Cheney’s office did not respond.

There are currently about 180 detainees left in the facility.

Dracula’s Army

Dracula’s Army

By Richard Neville

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Picture created by Jim Anderson

That the contents of a previously suppressed Pentagon video has come as a nasty shock to so many, highlights the noxious disinformation fog in which Western citizens are cocooned. The mainstream media may be omnipresent, yet it is by no means neutral. From day one of the Terror Wars, the slaughter of civilians depicted in the video, Collateral Damage, has been a key feature of the conflict. Both sides play dirty, but one side owns the skies.

In Afghanistan and Iraq the invaders have committed atrocities: shooting unarmed locals at check points, on the street, even while they’re tilling fields. We’ve bombed wedding parties, raided homes at midnight and murdered occupants of all ages, lying about it. We’ve stormed hospitals in Fallujah, unleashed chemical weapons (phosphorous), left a trail of depleted uranium … We’ve flattened the offices of Al Jazzera (twice), shoved “suspects” in dungeons, hid inmates from the International Red Cross and tortured prisoners to death …. and its still happening, day after day, with Drones wiping out remote villages, shredding their families, assassinating anyone we feel like.

On April 4, the New York Times revealed how a “badly bungled American Special Operations assault” tried to over-up in the deaths of three Afghan women during a night raid. Soldiers then corrupted the evidence, gouged incriminating bullets from corpses and blamed their murders on the Taliban. Australia’s covert forces have sunk into a similar mire, killing women and children at the “wrong address”. After a year’s investigation, the Australian Defence Force hasn’t managed to interview a single witness. Surely it’s time for the UN to outlaw the use of these covert forces, with a license to murder and no-one to hold them to account.

When you think about it, when you tally up the criminal carnage of the last decade, and when you listen to the brutal exchanges on the Apache gunship “please, another kill … light ‘em all up” – you start to wonder what drives the spiralling of today’s military atrocities. Napoleon said an army marches on its stomach, and that may still be true, but these days you get the sense that the burgers are being washed down with lavish tumblers of blood. Often blood of innocents. It becomes an addiction, perhaps, an insatiable desire that’s part Gothic and part Surrealist, like a videogame played on a helicopter hovering over Transylvania.

When a short segment of the Collateral Damage was played last night on Sydney’s ABC TV news, viewers were told the rest of the clip was “too disturbing to watch”. Too disturbing to whom? The spin doctors? Our grandmothers? After almost a decade of war, a bit of disturbance is long overdue. It’s time see up close what a modern military invasion is capable of destroying.

A few days ago, the former head of the UN’s chief nuclear agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, told the British Guardian, that those who launched the war in Iraq were responsible for killing a million innocent people and could be tried under international law. Mmmm. The culprits are legion. George Bush, Tony Blair, John Howard and a slew of soldiers, advisors, lawyers and security aides.

Despite the claims of valiant WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange, several dark videos have surfaced over the years on the internet (see links below), as our knee jerk pro war media kept is eyes firmly averted. A positive outcome of this aversion has been the rapid rise of the online anti war community, including WikiLeaks. Even as their horror story was breaking worldwide, CNN’s front page was still desperately promoting its vital scoops on Tiger Woods and Apple’s I-Pad, as amusingly captured HERE .

“What’s the big deal?” This was a typical comment after the video release. “It’s all a haunt from the past. Move on and kill them all. Even if they had pointed sticks in a war zone or an apple cart full of grenades. War is war. It is not going for a coffee at Starbucks or walking on egg shells anymore. Laughing at the dead is nothing new”.

Thankfully, a significant number of war veterans return home from their tours of duty with seasoned eyes, and speak out against the injustices and brutality they witnessed. Instead of trying to shield viewers from the impact of Collateral Murder, a hefty chunk of it should have dominated the news. It is not the media’s job to minimise the brutalities of the war and criminality of commanders. Oh, sorry, it is their job.

In this first decade of the 21st Century, it is time to ask what kind of war machine the West has created? From the little we are allowed to know, it appears to be lawless, tech obsessed sadistic and dumb. It is an army of fat Dracula’s sucking the blood from the throats of the dispossessed, the impoverished, the ill educated, fuelled by an annual US investment of $607 billion on weapons of death.

“American and NATO troops firing from passing convoys and military checkpoints have killed 30 Afghans and wounded 80 others since last summer”, notes the New York Times, “but in no instance did the victims prove to be a danger to troops”. General McChrystal agrees: “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat”. At last the mask slips. We get a dash of straight talking about the cruelty and futility of these odious invasions. As I write, bombs continue to explode in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan – a legacy of the mess created by the West. How can we seek to be Godly, as we blast families in mud huts with drones? How can we send war criminals from small nations to the International Court, while our own offenders still live high on the hog, immune from rebuke. Long live WikiLeaks. May it continue to tear down the veils of illusion.

War or peace on the Indus ?

War or peace on the Indus ?

John Briscoe

(Here is an article which outlines the issues involved in the dispute between India and Pakistan over Indus water. The writer hopes and prays for the rise of an Indian Nelson Mandela who would see that fair play is in the interest of both countries. But the disciples of Chanakya who rule India today preclude the rise of such a leader. There is another side of the coin. India is not more powerful than the Soviet Union or the USA and the Kashmiris are not as friendless as the Afghan resistance today. Kashmir may, in the end, be liberated by the Kashmiri resistance. That is the line of Rifah Party of Pakistan . + Usman Khalid + Secy Gen of Rifah Party)


Anyone foolish enough to write on war or peace in the Indus needs to first banish a set of immediate suspicions. I am neither Indian nor Pakistani. I am a South African who has worked on water issues in the subcontinent for 35 years and who has lived in Bangladesh (in the 1970s) and Delhi (in the 2000s). In 2006 I published, with fine Indian colleagues, an Oxford University Press book titled India’s Water Economy: Facing a Turbulent Future and, with fine Pakistani  colleagues, one titled Pakistan’s Water Economy: Running Dry.

I was the Senior Water Advisor for the World Bank who dealt with the appointment of the Neutral Expert on the Baglihar case. My last assignment at the World Bank (relevant, as described later) was as Country Director for Brazil . I am now a mere university professor, and speak in the name of no one but myself.
I have deep affection for the people of both India and Pakistan , and am dismayed by what I see as a looming train wreck on the Indus , with disastrous consequences for both countries. I will outline why there is no objective conflict of interests between the countries over the waters of the Indus Basin , make some observations of the need for a change in public discourse, and suggest how the drivers of the train can put on the brakes before it is too late.
Is there an inherent conflict between India and Pakistan ?

The simple answer is no. The Indus Waters Treaty allocates the water of the three western rivers to Pakistan , but allows India to tap the considerable hydropower potential of the Chenab and Jhelum before the rivers enter Pakistan . The qualification is that this use of hydropower is not to affect either the quantity of water reaching Pakistan or to interfere with the natural timing of those flows. Since hydropower does not consume water, the only issue is timing.  And timing is a very big issue, because agriculture in the Pakistani plains depends not only on how much water comes, but that it comes in critical periods during the planting season. The reality is that India could tap virtually all of the available power without negatively affecting the timing of flows to which Pakistan is entitled.

Is the Indus Treaty a stable basis for cooperation?
If Pakistan and India had normal, trustful relations, there would be a mutually-verified monitoring process which would assure that there is no change in the flows going into Pakistan . (In an even more ideal world, India could increase low-flows during the critical planting season, with significant benefit to Pakistani farmers and with very small impacts on power generation in India .)  Because the relationship was not normal when the treaty was negotiated, Pakistan would agree only if a limitation on India ’s capacity to manipulate the timing of flows was hardwired into the treaty. This was done by limiting the amount of “live storage” (the storage that matters for
changing the timing of flows) in each and every hydropower dam that India would construct on the two rivers.

While this made sense given knowledge in 1960, over time it became clear that this restriction gave rise to a major problem. The physical restrictions meant that gates for flushing silt out of the dams could not be built, thus ensuring that  any dam in India would rapidly fill with the silt pouring off the young   Himalayas .
This was a critical issue at stake in the Baglihar case. Pakistan (reasonably) said that the gates being installed were in violation of the specifications of the treaty. India (equally reasonably) argued that it would be wrong to build a dam knowing it would soon fill with silt. The finding of the Neutral Expert was essentially a reinterpretation of the Treaty, saying that the physical limitations no longer made sense. While the finding was reasonable in the case  of Baglihar, it left Pakistan without the mechanism – limited live storage –  which was its only (albeit weak) protection against upstream manipulation of  flows in India. This vulnerability was driven home when India chose to fill Baglihar exactly at the time when it would impose maximum harm on farmers in downstream Pakistan .
If Baglihar was the only dam being built by India on the Chenab and Jhelum , this would be a limited problem. But following Baglihar is a veritable caravan of Indian projects – Kishanganga, Sawalkot, Pakuldul, Bursar, Dal Huste, Gyspa… The cumulative live storage will be large, giving India an unquestioned capacity to have major impact on the timing of flows into Pakistan .
(Using Baglihar as a reference, simple back-of-the-envelope calculations, suggest that once it has constructed all of the planned hydropower plants on the Chenab, India will have an ability to effect major damage on Pakistan . First, there is the one-time effect of filling the new dams. If done during the wet season this would have little effect on Pakistan . But if done during the critical low-flow period, there would be a large one-time effect (as was the case when India filled Baglihar). Second, there is the permanent threat which would be a consequence of substantial cumulative live storage which could store about one month’s worth of low-season flow on the Chenab . If, God forbid, India so chose, it could use this cumulative live storage to impose major reductions on water availability in Pakistan during the critical planting season.

Views on “the water problem” from both sides of the border and the role of the press.
Living  in Delhi and working in both India and Pakistan , I was struck by a paradox. One country was a vigorous democracy, the other a military regime. But whereas an important part of the Pakistani press regularly reported India ‘s views on the water issue in an objective way, the Indian press never did the same. I never saw a report which gave Indian readers a factual description of the enormous vulnerability of Pakistan , of the way in which India had socked it to Pakistan when filling Baglihar. How could this be, I asked? Because, a journalist colleague in Delhi told me, “when it comes to Kashmir – and the Indus Treaty is considered an integral part of Kashmir -  the ministry of external affairs  instructs newspapers on what they can and cannot say, and often tells them  explicitly what it is they are to say.”
This apparently remains the case. In the context of the recent talks between India and Pakistan I read, in Boston , the electronic reports on the disagreement about “the water issue” in The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, The Hindu, The Indian Express and The Economic Times. (Respectively, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Water-Pakistans-diversionary-tactic-/ar
ticleshow/5609099.cms, http://beta.thehindu.com/news/national/ article112388.ece http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/india/River-waters-The-next-testing-,ground/Article1-512190.aspx, http://www.indianexpress.com/news/Pak-heats-up-water-sharing/583733http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Pak-takes-water-route-to-attack-India/articleshow/5665516.cms.)
Taken together, these reports make astounding reading. Not only was the message the same in each case (“no real issue, just Pakistani shenanigans”), but the  arguments were the same, the numbers were the same and the phrases were the  same. And in all cases the source was “analysts” and “experts” – in not one  case was the reader informed that this was reporting an official position of the  Government of India.

Equally  depressing is my repeated experience – most recently at a major international  meeting of strategic security institutions in Delhi – that even the most liberal  and enlightened of Indian analysts (many of whom are friends who I greatly  respect) seem constitutionally incapable of seeing the great vulnerability and  legitimate concern of Pakistan (which is obvious and objective to an outsider).

A way forward

This is a very uneven playing field. The regional hegemon is the upper riparian and has all the cards in its hands. This asymmetry means that it is India that is driving the train, and that change must start in India . In my view, four things need to be done.
First, there must be some courageous and open-minded Indians – in government or out – who will stand up and explain to the public why this is not just an issue for Pakistan , but why it is an existential issue for Pakistan .
Second, there must be leadership from the Government of India. Here I am struck by the stark difference between the behaviour of India and that of its fellow BRIC – Brazil , the regional hegemon in Latin America . Brazil and Paraguay have a binding agreement on their rights and responsibilities on the massive Itaipu Binacional Hydropower Project. The proceeds, which are of enormous importance to small Paraguay , played a politicised, polemical anti-Brazilian part in the recent presidential election in Paraguay . Similarly, Brazil ’s and Bolivia ‘s binding agreement on gas also became part of an anti-Brazil presidential campaign theme. The public and press in Brazil bayed for blood and insisted that Bolivia and Paraguay be made to pay. So what did President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva do?  “Look,” he said to his irate countrymen, “these are poor countries, and these are huge issues for them. They are our brothers. Yes, we are in our legal rights to be harsh with them, but we are going to show understanding and generosity, and so I am unilaterally doubling (in the case of Paraguay ) and tripling (in the case of Bolivia ) the payments we make to them. Brazil is a big country and a relatively rich one, so this will do a lot for them and won’t harm us much.”  India could, and should, in my view, similarly make the effort to see it from  its neighbour’s point of view, and should show the generosity of spirit which is  an integral part of being a truly great  power and good neighbour.

Third, this should translate into an invitation to Pakistan to explore ways in which the principles of the Indus Waters Treaty could be respected, while providing a win for Pakistan (assurance on their flows) and a win for India (reducing the chronic legal uncertainty which vexes every Indian project on the Chenab or Jhelum ). With good will there are multiple ways in which the treaty could be maintained but reinterpreted so that both countries could win.
Fourth, discussions on the Indus waters should be de-linked from both historic grievances and from the other Kashmir-related issues. Again, it is a sign of statesmanship, not weakness, to acknowledge the past and then move beyond it. This is personal for me, as someone of Irish origin. Conor Cruise O’Brien once remarked, “Santayana said that those who did not learn their history would be condemned to repeat it; in the case of Ireland we have learned our history so well that we are condemned to repeat it, again and again.”

And  finally, as a South African I am acutely aware that Nelson Mandela, after 27  years in prison, chose not to settle scores but to look forward and construct a  better future, for all the people of his country and mine. Who will be the Indian Mandela who will do this – for the benefit of Pakistanis and Indians – on the Indus ?

The writer is the Gordon McKay Professor of Environmental Engineering at the Harvard University, Massachusetts, USA

President Bakiyev Holes-Up In Ferghana Valley

Ethnic tension mounts in south Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyz woman lays flowers in the centre of Bishkek, on April 9, 2010. (Photo courtesy: AFP)

JALALABAD, April 9 (AFP) – Ethnic tensions rose Friday in south Kyrgyzstan, the multi-ethnic stronghold of the country’s president where support crumbled after his ouster and loyalists were removed from power.

Witnesses said the governor of the southern city of Jalalabad, a supporter of ousted President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, fled the city during the night and around 200 people massed at the main government building to debate next steps.

Addressing the crowd, Kamchibek Tashiyev, a self-declared candidate to be the new governor, warned the residents of a city divided among Kyrgyz, Uzbeks and Tajiks to avoid inter-ethnic strife.

“There are 70 percent Kyrgyz here, 15 percent Uzbeks and others,” Tashiyev said. “We must live in peace together.”

As he spoke, a man in the crowd shouted angrily back at him: “You are doing everything for yourself — you are taking it all for yourself! You should call the candidates and the people into the square and let them choose themselves.”

Squatting across from the square and watching the situation develop, a man with a long grey beard typical many Uzbek elders in the region admitted he was worried about rising ethnic tension.

“I am concerned about this, yes,” he said, declining to give his name.

“I think it could happen that the Kyrgyz and Uzbek people could fight each other. It could happen again as it did in Uzgen in 1990,” said the man, referring to a city where 300 reportedly died in a land dispute between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbeks as the Soviet Union approached collapse.

Local residents from various ethnic groups all said the mood was very tense in Jalalabad, a city of around 300,000 people where Bakiyev was thought to be after fleeing the Kyrgyz capital amidst a bloody popular revolt on Wednesday.

In the nearby city of Osh, also a traditional bastion of support for Bakiyev, a loyalist regional governor has already been replaced by a new leader allied with the self-proclaimed interim government that ousted Bakiyev.

The new Osh governor, Sooronbai Zheenbekov, was sworn in during a ceremony broadcast on local television, underscoring the control that the country’s new government has established over media outlets nationwide.

“Just as the people in Bishkek were unhappy with Bakiyev, we here in the south were unhappy with him too,” said one local resident who would give only his first name, Roziboy.

“He promised not to repeat the mistakes of Akayev, but he made exactly the same mistakes,” Roziboy said, referring to the former Kyrgyz president Askar Akayev who was himself ousted in a revolt in 2005 and replaced by Bakiyev.

Both Osh and Jalalabad are situated in the Ferghana Valley, a lush and fertile region that stretches through several mainly Muslim ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia.

In Jalalabad, a local resident, 39-year-old Zair, said the pro-Bakiyev governor had fled but admitted no one was yet certain how to fill the power vaccuum created by his departure.

“He left yesterday at 10 pm,” Zair told AFP. “The night before that, Bakiyev’s cohorts stayed there until 2 am and did not want to give up power.

“But they figured out that power has now passed to the opposition and they fled.” (By Matt Siegel/ AFP)

High stakes for the trio of tension — US, India, Pakistan

[Possibly the most fair and balanced assessment of the US-engineered situation ever to emerge from India, something that would never occur to a Pakistani writer.  If Pakistan and India are to survive what America's misleaders have created for them, with their help, it will only happen if we all let go of the hatred.]

“Quite apart from their own existential issues the two appear to be pawns of U.S. real politick, elsewhere described as two countries on a U.S. seesaw.

India accuses the U.S. of protecting Headley to save Pakistan. Pakistan accuses India of water theft, of operating illicitly in its western province of Balochistan and for using its too many diplomatic outposts in Afghanistan to destabilize it. Moreover, Pakistan is deeply uncomfortable with the close ties forged between the Karzai administration and New Delhi. India claims that Pakistan is not seriously fighting terror despite the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 in which over 300 people were killed.”

High stakes for the trio of tension — US, India, Pakistan

Another installment of peace talks, but the real deal must be exclusive of the US.

By Sonya Fatah — Special to GlobalPost

NEW DELHI, India — Imagine a high-stakes, billion-dollar poker game that just doesn’t end. The players keep upping the ante and the power balance continually shifts. A scene out of fantasy poker you say, but in real life an appropriate analogy for the new great game being played out between the United States, India and Pakistan.

The results of a high-level, week-long bilateral meeting between U.S. and Pakistan have been debated and discussed endlessly here in India. The initial paranoia that Pakistan would walk away with a U.S.-Pakistani commercial nuclear energy deal, much like the one structured between the U.S. and India, gave way to relief when the summit ended without it.

No matter, though. This is just the end of yet another episode typifying the tense and distrustful relationship among the trio. India, Pakistan and the United States, alternatively talk the language of peaceful co-existence but their individual vested interests in the region reflect a lack of political will toward any such outcome.

Of late the South Asian state department has been encouraging open and constructive dialogue between India and Pakistan. Quite apart from their own existential issues the two appear to be pawns of U.S. real politick, elsewhere described as two countries on a U.S. seesaw.

Much of the consternation in India was the fussing over the Pakistani contingent, in particular the military and intelligence brass. During the Bush administration and the early days of the Obama presidency, India witnessed a positive change in Washington’s stance toward it. But the great game with Afghanistan as proxy is being played out yet again.

It all began at the Afghanistan Conference in London in January. Any exit strategy from Afghanistan, it was decided there, would involve reconciliation with the Taliban. That, the gurus in D.C. decided, would necessarily involve Pakistan. And whom should the U.S. engage to begin this process? The democratically elected widower and Mr. 10 to 50 percent Asif Ali Zardari, the party-controlled prime minister, or the ever-stable masters of dictatorship, the boys in uniform?

As all Pakistanis cynically expected, the U.S. rolled out the red carpet for General Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief and Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, the head of the much-admired Pakistani intelligence agency, the ISI. (The U.S. administration, meanwhile wondered why the Pakistani public was so hostile toward it.) This signal of a looming return to dictatorship aside, the Pakistani establishment has been thrilled to be back on good terms with the big boss. And despite Indian concerns over the possibility of a nuclear deal with the U.S., Pakistanis likely never expected any such deal.

Anne Patterson, the current U.S. ambassador in Pakistan, had sewn the seeds for the potential when she said, earlier on, non-proliferation concerns were quite severe. “I think we are beginning to pass those and this is a scenario that we are going to explore.” That a somewhat twisted and gnarled foot made its way through the door of U.S. diplomacy was good enough for the Pakistanis. This is why, at the end of the tete-a-tete, the foreign minister returned to Islamabad a “happy man.”

“Across the border in India, folks breathed a sigh of relief. The nation’s most respected daily, The Hindu opined, “There is no need to worry, as some have begun to do, that this week’s talks in Washington mark the beginning of a new phase in the re-hyphenation of Delhi and Islamabad.”

But whether the U.S. is capable of a simultaneous, fair and balanced relationship with both India and Pakistan remains to be seen.

At the same time as India questioned the warming (yet again) of U.S.-Pak ties, Indian investigating authorities have been struggling to gain access to David Headley, the American of half-Pakistani extraction, who is the alleged mastermind behind the terror attacks in Mumbai in November 2008 that left over 300 dead. India has long accused the Pakistani intelligence authorities of guiding the Lashkar-e-Taiba, a militant outfit that is focused on extending militancy in Kashmir.

India insists that Pakistan is not serious about its role in dismantling the terror networks that its intelligence bodies created. Headley, India believes, can give exact information about the ties between the Pakistani military and intelligence establishment and the terror network in Pakistan. Yet, U.S. authorities will not give them access to Headley, who was also allegedly a mole for the DEA. The intrigue continues.

India accuses the U.S. of protecting Headley to save Pakistan. Pakistan accuses India of water theft, of operating illicitly in its western province of Balochistan and for using its too many diplomatic outposts in Afghanistan to destabilize it. Moreover, Pakistan is deeply uncomfortable with the close ties forged between the Karzai administration and New Delhi. India claims that Pakistan is not seriously fighting terror despite the Mumbai attacks of November 2008 in which over 300 people were killed. Many of the leaders symbolically arrested in the aftermath of those attacks are now free at home.

In advance of talks with the U.S., Pakistan nabbed a number of high-level Taliban leaders, which critics claim is Pakistan’s strategic strategy to maintain its importance. Without Pakistan’s help in defeating the Taliban, the U.S. feels lost and isolated in a region where the public is decidedly hostile to America, no matter how much taxpayer money is pumped into the country — probably because not a single cent of that money has seen an improvement in the common person’s situation in Pakistan.

Since 9/11, the U.S. has given over $17 billion in aid to Pakistan, almost all of it military aid. A further injection of $7.5 billion in civilian aid over the next five years has been announced. This, to India, is merely evidence of continued U.S. patronage of Pakistan’s military strength.

Given the current situation, it seems more appropriate for an episode of Monty Python to imagine that the U.S. wants India and Pakistan to talk to each other. The perception in both countries is clearly that the U.S. is the puppeteer of a doomed future. All this can of course be reduced to the lens of the Afghanistan problem.

“The fact of the matter is that the Afghanistan problem cannot be solved without the U.S., India and Pakistan abandoning their neo-conservative approach and adopting realism,” writes Ayesha Siddiqa, a strategic and political analyst in the Pakistani daily DAWN, “which is not about the use of force all the time, but that involves measured movement.”

By now it should be clear to India and especially to Pakistan that the U.S. is no peace broker, and that any real positive change here will mean a change of positions, ideologies and beliefs in both countries. If there is a solution it must be bilateral and exclusive of the U.S. But for the problem country in this bunch — a client state with a reeling economy, terror on the rise, political instability and a military that emerges unhurt by all the challenges lacking the political will for positive engagement, it seems like an awfully utopian dream.

For the moment it’s all quid-pro-quo, a battle of egos, strategies and histories all colliding into each other. Nothing in the language of the debate over Pakistan’s access to nuclear technology or the Afghanistan problem shows that the South Asia equation or the U.S. participation in that equation will change anytime soon. The stakes perceived by each distrusting country are far too high.

Sonya Fatah covers religion and Indo-Pak affairs for GlobalPost from New Delhi.

Together making a greater mess

Mindless hostility born of suspicion and paranoia does not behove India or Pakistan. Their caterwauling has now gone on for six decades. It is not only tiresome but dangerous. It is time, as Jack Kennedy said, “Not to fix the blame for the past but rather to fix the course for the future.”

Together making a greater mess

—Zafar Hilaly

While we have no right to object to greater Indian influence in Afghanistan, what we justifiably find intolerable is the use that India makes of its hold over Karzai to belittle Pakistan, fund Baloch insurgents who enjoy a safe haven in Afghanistan and create for our military the awful prospect of a two-front threat

George W Bush will soon be penning his memoirs. The chapter on Afghanistan should not take long. Five Latin words would suffice, namely, veni (I came), vidi (I saw), vincit (I prevailed) and hesitat (I dithered). And if one added flevit (I fled), it being Obama’s contribution, they would, at a glance, give the reader a sense of the US’s policy on Afghanistan since 2001.

The manner of the US’s departure will depend, to some extent, on the amount of cooperation that the US obtains from Pakistan. Ordinarily, Pakistan would have balked at pulling the US’s chestnuts out of the fire. Turkey declined to play a similar role in Iraq. But so dismally has Pakistan managed its affairs that it is economically broke, internally at war with extremists and externally threatened by India. Pakistan badly needs a breathing space to get its house in order and to ward off India. Hence, in return for lucre, weapons and American diplomatic support, Pakistan has pledged to help the US extricate itself from the Afghan quagmire.

Oddly, rather than complain at being forced by our straitened circumstances to help the US wash its soiled reputation, we appear to welcome, nay relish, the prospect, forgetting that nothing we say or do will count with the Afghan Taliban because it never did, for long anyway. And that the Afghan Taliban are the murderous progenitors of the Pakistani Taliban with whom we are now engaged in a desperate no-holds-barred fight to the finish within Pakistan. And, of course, forgetting the one lesson that history teaches — that in Afghanistan power, like water, must be allowed to find its own level before durable peace can return.

But even if we are successful in getting the Taliban to the table, who will guarantee that when they renege from the agreement, which they will, they can be made accountable? And how does a speedy American exit which, our foreign minister says, is “premature and sends the wrong signals”, benefit Pakistan? Stupidity does not consist in being without ideas. Stupidity consists in having lots of ideas but stupid ones.

Pakistan is cock-a-hoop having got the better of India at the Istanbul and London parleys on Afghanistan. For India, to be actually excluded from the talks, must have been a humiliating experience. Its arrogance and its condescending mien took a huge knock. Foreign Minister SM Krishna tried to ride the blow by dissembling, claiming that India too favoured negotiations with the Taliban. Such a patent lie did nothing for him or India.

Nevertheless, why rub it in. India is a regional power and Pakistan can do nothing to curb its rise. Nor can we counter it by increasing our military capability endlessly because that, as we concede, is impossible. “We do not intend to be sucked into an arms race with India,” says the foreign minister. Besides, abuse of India is self-defeating. Merely by upping the level of its forces on the border, India can severely curtail our efforts against terrorism. And by delaying the solution to important bilateral disputes, India has already deflected our attention from more pressing national problems. Hence, improving relations with India must remain an important goal and constantly carping at India hardly helps to create a propitious atmosphere for negotiations.

While we have no right to object to greater Indian influence in Afghanistan, what we justifiably find intolerable is the use that India makes of its hold over Karzai to belittle Pakistan, fund Baloch insurgents who enjoy a safe haven in Afghanistan and create for our military the awful prospect of a two-front threat. But then, India is a creature of habit. When it sees a belt, it cannot resist the temptation to hit below it.

Just the other day, with no proof on offer, an Indian spokesman in Kabul accused Pakistan of being responsible for the avowedly Taliban-mounted raid against the Indians in Kabul. He added, quite gratuitously, that the US is making efforts to “outsource peace and stability to a country [Pakistan] that is responsible for causing this mess in Afghanistan”. Apart from revealing a startling ignorance of the real reasons for the “mess in Afghanistan”, such sentiments only fortify the belief in Pakistan that while a benign Indian presence in Afghanistan is of no consequence, a malign one is insufferable.

Mindless hostility born of suspicion and paranoia does not behove India or Pakistan. Their caterwauling has now gone on for six decades. It is not only tiresome but dangerous. It is time, as Jack Kennedy said, “Not to fix the blame for the past but rather to fix the course for the future.”

In this endeavour the Americans cannot help. Bleating that they should does nothing. It merely shames Pakistan. Nor are the Americans up to it. Their record is abysmal. Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan are testimony to American idiocy. Besides, American policy is incoherent. While campaigning before the 2008 presidential elections, Obama asserted that Pakistan would have to be stabilised before Afghanistan could be stabilised. How that goal can be better achieved by spending $ 100 billion annually in Afghanistan and only $ 1.5 billion on Pakistan has yet to be explained.

Similarly, if for no other reason than that his roommate was a Pakistani, Obama must have known of the friction that exists between India and Pakistan and how fixated Pakistan is on the threat emanating from India. But what does Obama do? He lets his satrap Karzai inveigle India to Afghanistan and, in return for some road building contracts, allows India to set up an intelligence network meant to destabilise and militarily outflank Pakistan. No wonder 85 percent of Pakistanis view the US as a potential enemy rather than a trusted friend.

That is not to suggest that Pakistan’s leaders are any wiser. The current crop is a strange lot. And those waiting in the wings are no better either. They seek not advice but only corroboration, which is why they are surrounded by yea-sayers. They claim they have an open mind; yes, so open that nothing is retained, ideas simply pass through them.

Actually, the American and Pakistan leaderships are a lethal brew, one lacking sense and the other forced to talk nonsense to be heard. As for India, it is programmed by nature to ferment trouble for Pakistan. Plus la change, plus la meme chose.

The writer is a former ambassador. He can be reached at charles123it@hotmail.com

American Drone Attacks Are No Different Than Israel In Dubai

[Obama seeks to recast his war of terror as something different from Bush, choosing to delete terms like "Islamists" and extremists from the national lexicon.  He seeks to claim legal jurisdiction for Predator assassination programs outside the actual war zone, even though they clearly across the line into the area of war crimes, in a war of aggression against multiple countries, other than those associated with the terror war. The Times also attacked the president’s strategy, comparing it to the apparent assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January in Dubai by the Israeli secret service Mossad.]

“Mr. Obama must explain and publicly justify targeted killings,” the Times said. “Failure to do so will merely compound the impression of an intelligence agency wielding lethal powers in secret, a group of state-backed hitmen prepared to carry out covert assassinations – like Mossad – because they can.”

Europe considers murky legality of Obama’s drone attacks

ethiopianreview.com | April 9th, 2010 at 8:22 am

With the addition of what is thought to be the first US citizen to the list of terrorist suspects the CIA is authorized to kill, many European commentators are beginning to question whether US President Barack Obama has really changed the US approach to the ‘war on terror.’

The German Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper was particularly scathing about the perceived hypocrisy of Obama’s position on human rights: “What does this say about the US president?” it asked in an editorial. “It shows how absurd the American hardliners’ accusation is that he is soft on terror. But unfortunately it also shows that Obama is a long way from fulfilling the hopes that human rights activists have placed in him.”

Under Obama, the US has apparently increased its use of targeted attacks against terrorist suspects, mainly using armed unmanned drones. Last year, there were as many as 50 drone strikes, up from 31 the year before. These attacks, sometimes taking place in sovereign states with which the US is not at war – Pakistan and Yemen are recent examples - occupy a legal gray area that is not covered by clear rules.

British newspaper The Times also attacked the president’s strategy, comparing it to the apparent assassination of Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in January in Dubai by the Israeli secret service Mossad.

“Mr. Obama must explain and publicly justify targeted killings,” the Times said. “Failure to do so will merely compound the impression of an intelligence agency wielding lethal powers in secret, a group of state-backed hitmen prepared to carry out covert assassinations – like Mossad – because they can.”

Consistent and logical

The chorus of condemnation rose after a series of American newspapers reported Wednesday that the US has put a Muslim cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, on the CIA kill list in Yemen. Al-Awlaki, born in the US of Yemeni parents, has been connected to a failed Christmas airline bombing in Detroit as well as killings at a military base in Fort Hood, Texas, after it was revealed that he had been in contact with the perpetrators of both attacks.

Anonymous US government agents told the Washington Post that putting a US citizen on the CIA list required special approval from the White House, which led to the public declaration. But as yet there has been no official statement from any European government on al-Awlaki’s case. In response to a request from Deutsche Welle, the German Foreign Ministry declined to comment on what it considered a purely US matter.

But according to Josef Braml, research fellow with the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), this does not represent a significantly new development in US policy. “This is not surprising at all,” Braml told Deutsche Welle. “Obama said right at the beginning of his administration that he would continue the targeted drone attacks in Pakistan.”

Braml believes that such attacks, carried out by the CIA, a civilian organization, are actually consistent with Obama’s policy of taking a fresh approach from the previous US government, and has its roots in his 2008 presidential election campaign.

“In his campaign, he put Bush under pressure by saying he had started the wrong war in Iraq and had steered the war on terror in the wrong direction – ignoring Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Braml said. “Basically Obama is not doing anything he didn’t say he would do. It’s just logical and consistent with what he said from the beginning.”

A publicity war

The decision to publicize al-Awlaki’s inclusion on the hit-list is obviously meant to answer Obama’s right-wing critics at home, whose silence is worth a few negative editorials in Europe.

But Anthony Dworkin, senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), believes that it is also more than a simple bid for popularity. It is also an attempt to solidify Obama’s hitherto hazy definition of the ‘war on terror.’

Dworkin, who is also executive director of the Crimes of War Project, a non-governmental organization that aims to promote understanding of international humanitarian law in the context of contemporary armed conflict, told Deutsche Welle, “They are trying to elaborate what their approach to counter-terrorism is, and an important part of that is their legal justification for drone attacks and targeted killings.”

That justification, declared last month, essentially said targeted killings could only be part of an armed conflict against al Qaeda, or they could be used in self-defense.

“It was a double-edged justification, and it didn’t exactly spell out what the limits were of these claims,” Dworkin said. “It was a little more nuanced than the simple war-against-terror language of the Bush administration, but it left a lot of questions unanswered.”

Dworkin believes Obama has not been able to clarify his counter-terrorism policy partly because of his difficulties closing down the Guantanamo Bay prison.

“There are some areas in which this administration has been struggling to define its approach to counter-terrorism, and the question of detention is one of these,” he said. “But in the area of targeting, we’ve consistently seen a commitment to drone attacks, primarily in the Afghan and Pakistan area.”

Obama’s precarious European honeymoon

Both Braml and Dworkin consider the Times’ comparison with the Dubai assassination allegedly by Mossad a stretch too far, pointing out that US drone attacks occur in dangerous areas beyond the reach of law enforcement. But killing suspected terrorists in sovereign states does invite uncomfortable comparisons, which could cast a shadow over Obama’s happy relationship with his European allies.

“There has been a lot of good will from Europe toward Obama on the question of counter-terrorism,” says Dworkin. “They recognize that he is dealing with a significant threat. They recognize that this is politically very complex for him in the US. They regard him as someone who came into office with a commitment to change the approach of the previous administration.”

“But having said that, it is becoming increasingly apparent that differences in point-of-view remain,” he warns. “The principal difference is that Obama clearly prescribes to the idea that the conflict against al Qaeda is essentially a worldwide conflict, whereas most Europeans see the conflict as tied to the area of Afghanistan and the border regions of Pakistan.”

If this difference of opinion resulted in the US widening its theater of operations, Obama’s good reputation in Europe could be over abruptly.

(Source: Deutsche Welle)

Now Is the Time To Demand a Nuclear-Free Middle East.

[Israel, your ambiguous nukes are starting to show.]

Netanyahu’s nuclear no-show is victory for Arab pressure

Focus on Iran has boosted demands for a regional approach to disarmament of nuclear weapons in the Middle East

Israel-submarinesIsrael is estimated to have 150-200 atomic bombs, deliverable by aircraft, missile or submarine. Photograph: Havakuk Levison/Reuters

Binyamin Netanyahu‘s decision not to take part in next week’s nuclear security summit in the US will be seen as a victory for mounting Arab and Muslim pressure on Israel over its most controversial and secret weapon.

Egypt has long campaigned on the issue of Israel’s atomic arsenal. Last month the Arab League called on the UN to declare the Middle East a nuclear-free zone. Saudi Arabia has been active too. Turkey also backs this demand as it offers to mediate between the west and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Israel, constantly highlighting the danger from Iran, is estimated to have 150 to 200 atomic bombs, deliverable by aircraft, missile or submarine. Its programme was developed after France built a nuclear reactor at Dimona in the Negev desert in the 1950s. The so-called Samson option was seen by Israel’s first generation of leaders as designed to prevent another Holocaust – its bombs reportedly bearing the slogan “never again”.

Israel, unlike Iran or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, never signed the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which allows countries to develop civilian nuclear power in exchange for forgoing weapons – supposedly the preserve of the five permanent members of the UN security council.

India, Pakistan and North Korea have swelled the ranks of the weapons states, but unlike them, Israel has never come out of the closet, preferring a policy of so-called nuclear ambiguity – keeping its enemies guessing. Israel’s official line has always been that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East.

Fears about Iran’s nuclear ambitions have reinforced domestic support and perhaps international tolerance for Israel retaining its arsenal. In diplomatic terms, this has long been a no-go area for the US, Britain and other western countries. But the focus on Iran has also boosted Arab demands for a regional approach to disarmament.

Last September, for the first time in 18 years, Israel, the US and other powers failed to prevent passage of a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) calling on Israel to sign the NPT and open up Dimona to international inspectors.

Egypt played a key role in negotiating the NPT in the 1960s and tried but failed to link the renewal of the treaty in 1995 to the creation of a nuclear-free zone. Syria, an ally of Iran, denies harbouring nuclear weapons ambitions, a issue that was dramatically highlighted in 2007 when Israeli warplanes destroyed an alleged reactor on the Euphrates.

“There is widespread resentment in the region towards the NPT and what it seeks to achieve, its double standards and lack of political will,” Egypt’s UN ambassador, Hisham Badr, said recently. “We in the Middle East feel we have, short of better word, been tricked into giving concessions for promises that never materialised.”

THAILAND BOILS OVER

Protesters and supporters of ousted Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, push their way against Thai soldiers

(Apichart Weerawon/AP)

Protesters push against Thai soldiers guarding the Thaicom station

Anti-government "red shirt" protesters gather around weapons they seized from army soldiers on the outskirts of Bangkok

(Damir Sagolj/Reuters)

The protesters gather around weapons they seized from soldiers

Thai anti-government protesters known as 'red shirts' gather outside Thaicom teleport in Pathum Thani, Thailand

(Narong Sangnak/EPA)

Red Shirts want a dissolution of parliament and new elections

Thousands of anti-government demonstrators overrun a Thai army soldiers defense line in Pathum Thani, Thailand

(Udo Weitz/EPA)

They are demanding the restoration of a pro-Red Shirt television station.

Thousands of anti-government protesters in Thailand stormed a satellite TV station today, breaching an army cordon and demanding that officials re-open their channel.

The “People” channel and internet networks were closed down yesterday to prevent the United Front for Democracy against Dictatorship, widely known as Red Shirts, from broadcasting.

The attempt by protesters to regain control is the first major confrontation in a three-day state of emergency in the country.

Police and soldiers fired water cannon and teargas in a failed attempt to disperse thousands who climbed over rolls of barbed wire and forced open the gate of the station’s compound.

Most of the soldiers pulled back from the Thaicom Pcl satellite station, about 60km (37 miles) north of Bangkok, leaving the grounds largely in control of the Red Shirts.

“We want our TV back. You cannot shut our eyes and ears,” Jatuporn Prompan, a Red Shirts leader, said from the back of a truck after leading the protesters into the compound.

But he and other supporters of Thaksin Shinawatra, the former Prime Minister who was ousted in a military coup in 2006, have not yet entered the main building which houses the satellite equipment.

The Government seized equipment at the station yesterday saying that it was inciting violence.

Panitan Wattanayagorn, a government spokesman, said the channel cannot go back on air. “They are still distorting information and we cannot allow that.”

The protesters, who briefly besieged parliament on Wednesday, seized guns, batons, shields, bullets and teargas cannon from police and soldiers and displayed them at the station.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva has said he will not order a crackdown on the mostly rural and working-class protesters who have also ignored orders to leave Bangkok’s main shopping district since Saturday. The country is now in its 27th day of protests demanding new elections.

Mr Abhisit faces pressure to either compromise and call an election that he could easily lose, or start a crackdown that could stir up even more unrest.

Most analysts doubt the authorities will use force to remove thousands of protesters from the shopping area — a politically risky decision for Mr Abhisit as his 16-month-old coalition Government struggles to build support outside Bangkok.

Sansern Kaewkamnerd, an army spokesman, said that security forces would maintain order “in accordance with the law from use of soft to harsh means in seven steps if protesters violate [the decree]”.

Those steps included baton and shield charges, water hoses, teargas and rubber bullets. About 30,000 security forces were deployed across Bangkok, he added.

Much of Bangkok was calm and life went on as normal. Many of the malls in the central shopping and hotel district, where the Red Shirts have camped out since April 3, had reopened.

Security forces were not visibly deployed at the main rally site, although it is right in front of the police headquarters, opting to stay in their bases or on roads at least 2km away in an apparent attempt to avoid provocation.

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Iran’s calls for N-free Mideast should be backed

Iran’s calls for N-free Mideast should be backed

From April 17-18, Iran intends to host a nuclear disarmament summit just four days after Washington concludes a nuclear security summit to which Tehran was not invited. Under the banner “Nuclear energy for everyone, nuclear arms for no one”, Iran calls for a nuclear-free Middle East and an end to nuclear proliferation globally.

Instead of singling out Iran, the world should rally behind this effort and give Iran the benefit of the doubt.

It’s ironic that the only nation that has ever used its nuclear weapons on an enemy, the US, in tandem with Israel, that refuses to disclose its own, is leading the charge against Iran’s fledgling program. As you know, in 1945, America dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki killing up to 80,000 and leaving 230,000 injured or suffering from the effects of radiation.

You may not be aware that Israel was on nuclear alert twice; once in 1967 when two bombs were armed and again in 1973, when Golda Meir’s Cabinet readied 13 atomic bombs destined to destroy targets in Egypt and Syria. If Israel feels threatened with annihilation under what it terms its “Samson” option, it will thrust itself and its foes into oblivion rather than surrender.

It’s ironic, too, that unlike Iran which allows the nuclear watchdog the IAEA to inspect its nuclear sites under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Israel hasn’t signed the NPT and, moreover, it is abetted by Washington in its policy of nuclear ambiguity.

A further irony, is the way the US and its allies are currently portraying Iran as the world’s most dangerous country when, unlike the US and Israel, it hasn’t invaded another country within recent history. In fact, it was sucked into an eight-year war by Saddam Hussein at a time when he was acting as Washington’s proxy and now Tehran is bracing for military strikes on its nuclear sites by both Tel Aviv and Washington, which relentlessly beat the drums of war.

As to whether Tehran does have a covert nuclear weapons program, this is unproven. In July 2009, incoming IAEA head Yukiya Amano told Reuters that he had seen no evidence in IAEA official documents that Iran was developing nuclear arms.

A report by the IAEA board of governors on implementation of IAEA safeguards dated Feb. 18, 2010 summarizes thus: “While the Agency continues to verify the nondiversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.” In other words, the IAEA has no concrete proof that Iran is engaged in manufacturing nuclear weapons. This is exactly the stance taken by the IAEA prior to the invasion of Iraq.

In another twist of fate, then IAEA chief Mohammed El-Baradei, who during 2002/3 refused to give Iraq a clean bill of health in the UN Security Council is blasting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as “failures”; possibly in the hopes of winning over the Egyptian street as part of his potential presidential bid. He has recently admitted that he knew Iraq had long abandoned its nuclear ambitions all along. Iran maintains that it has no ambition to develop nuclear bombs, which the ayatollahs along with the Iranian people according to polls describe as anti-Islamic. The US argues that a country like Iran that is sitting on massive reserves of oil doesn’t require nuclear energy.  But this view isn’t supported by history.

Indeed, it wasn’t the Islamic republic of Iran that initiated the program but the Shah, who during the 1970s planned to construct 23 nuclear power stations by the year 2000, which were blessed by the US and Europe. The administration of President Gerald Ford issued a paper that read “the introduction of nuclear power will both provide for the growing needs of Iran’s economy and free remaining oil reserves for export or conversion of petrochemicals.”

If there were concerns in the 1970s about depleting oil reserves, those concerns are heightened today. So why did the US back the Shah’s bid for nuclear energy while, today, it casts suspicions on the Islamic republic’s? The answer is simple. The Shah was America’s man until Washington feared he was becoming too powerful when he was thrown to the wolves. When the Ayatollah Khomeini came to power the entire program was canceled.

Whatever one thinks of the Iranian regime’s ideology, it does have an absolute right under the NPT to nuclear energy, including the right to enrich uranium. Furthermore, nuclear signatories to the NPT are obliged to assist Iran in this goal, which, apart from Russia, they have refused to do. That really is the bottom line. And in an extraordinary display of bias, the US backed nuclear-armed India, which is not an IAEA signatory, to the extent of signing a nuclear cooperation agreement with New Delhi in 2005.

It goes without saying that the current contretemps between Iran and the West has more to do with perceptions rather than fact. Iran is seen as hostile to US and Israeli interests while its neighbors disapprove of its ideological spread along with its financial/military support of non-state regional actors. Attacking the Iranian nuclear program is an attempt to conflate the issues, although it is true that if Iran were to succeed in arming itself with nukes this would affect the regional and global balance of power.

In truth, no country would welcome a nuclear-armed Iran, which is understandable. But cornering Iran with military threats and sanctions isn’t helpful. The more isolated Tehran feels, the more it will look to its own defense. Even if Iran’s original desire was to produce civilian nuclear energy it may now decide to pursue a nuclear deterrent — if it hasn’t made that decision already.

The international community wants Iran’s leaders to throw up their hands, relinquish their country’s rights and admit that Iran is a rogue state that can’t be trusted. No matter how much pressure is piled upon them, it’s not going to do that.

Finally, as long as the West turns a blind eye to Israel’s nuclear arsenal the chances of regional proliferation will always exist. If the world fears Iranian nukes it must demand a nuclear-free Middle East without exception.

— The author can be contacted at Sierra12th@yahoo.co.uk

Yesterday’s “Evil” Warlord Is Today’s “Good” Warlord

Yesterday’s “Evil” Warlord Is Today’s “Good” Warlord

West Shamefully Silent on Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

Special Contribution
By Matthew J. Nasuti

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar

On March 22, 2010, representatives of Afghanistan’s most notorious warlord were hosted at the Presidential Palace in Kabul with the apparent support of the United States and NATO. Three days later, these same representatives were feted by United Nations special envoy Staffan de Mistura. That warlord is Gulbuddin Hekmatyar whose militia operates out of Pakistan and in several eastern provinces of Afghanistan and who oppose the NATO presence in Afghanistan. Hekmatyar’s Hesb-e Islami militia has been responsible for decades of atrocities, including the bombardment of Kabul in 1994 which leveled most of the city.

As the West desperately seeks an exit strategy from Afghanistan, its leaders are apparently willing to embrace any person, regardless of the amount of blood on his hands. Talk of democracy, justice, women’s rights and human rights seems to have taken a back seat to political expediency. The desire now is for a minimum amount of temporary stability so that foreign forces can declare victory and withdraw.

Consider the status of Afghanistan’s three most infamous warlords:

Abdul Rashid Dostum: He was opposed by the West during the 1980’s when he and his Jowzjani militia worked for the Soviet-backed government in Kabul. However his status changed in 2001, when he was enlisted by the CIA and U.S. Special Forces Command to assist in the capture of Mazar-e Sharif. During that campaign his forces were responsible for the murder and mistreatment of thousands of Taliban prisoners. After the fall of the Taliban, the West was buffeted by a constant stream of criticism for supporting General Dostum. After years of bad press, General Dostum fell out of favor and the West eventually was forced to change his status back to being a bad warlord. He went (in the minds of the West) from being a bad warlord to a good one and now he is once again labeled as bad.

Abdul Rasul Sayyaf: Possibly the most murderous of the warlords. He was the inspiration for Muslim terrorists in the southern Philippines whose movement bears his name. On February 10, 1993, his militia led an assault on the Hazara hill community of Afshar, in the western suburbs of Kabul. It was Afghanistan’s version of the September 16-18, 1982, Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon. Sayyaf’s forces systematically pulled civilians out of their homes and executed them in the street. Sayyaf was also apparently the person who initially invited Usama bin Laden to Afghanistan. Khalid Sheik Muhammad (KSM), now awaiting trial in the United States for the September 11, 2001, was his private secretary. In 2001, Sayyaf was courted and supported by the CIA. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul has always considered him to be a “good” warlord.

Gulbuddin Hekmatyar: He received hundreds of millions of dollars in American military aid during the 1980’s to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. The West considered him to be a “good” warlord in the 1980’s and then he was labeled a bad warlord in 2001, when he opposed the American invasion of Afghanistan and now apparently the West considers him to be a “good” warlord again.

The refusal of the United States and European countries to draw clear distinctions between those who are good and those who are bad has repeatedly undermined their standing in the developing world. It appears that the only difference between good and bad is that good warlords and terrorists temporarily support or at least voice support for Western causes.

The meetings in Kabul on March 22nd and 26th are a new low for the West as its member countries begin preparations to abandon Afghanistan. In support of such a retreat, it is expected that Western governments in the months to come will be emphasizing the terms “security” and “stability” for Afghanistan rather than the terms “justice,” “women’s rights,” “human rights” and “the rule of law.”

The U.S. Congress long ago recognized that the positions advocated by American diplomats overseas may be either unsavory or propaganda, so in 1948 it enacted “The U.S. Information Educational Exchange Act.” Codified as Title 22 of the United State Code, section 1461, it is popularly known as the Smith-Mundt Act. Subsection 1461-1A was added in 1985. It is called the Zorinski amendment. It repeats and reemphasizes that there is a specific ban on the State Department releasing or publishing any of its overseas propaganda within the United States. It reads as follows:

“Except as provided in section 1461 of this title and this section, no funds authorized to be appropriated to the United States Information Agency shall be used to influence public opinion in the United States, and no program material prepared by the United States Information Agency shall be distributed within the United States.”

The U.S. Information Agency and its public diplomacy efforts are now part of the U.S. Department of State. The intent of Congress is that the American people needed to be protected from propaganda that American diplomats spread overseas. On June 7, 1985, Senator Edward Zorinski introduced his amendment on the floor of the U.S. Senate and explained the need for the statute:

“By law, the USIA cannot engage in domestic propaganda. This distinguishes us, as a free society, from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity. “
“The American taxpayer certainly does not need or want his tax dollars used to support U.S. Government propaganda directed at him or her. My amendment ensures that this will not occur.”

In 1999, the ban on the U.S, Department of State disseminating its propaganda within the United States was again reemphasized in Section 1333 of HR 105-825. This ban is aimed at Voice of America (VoA) broadcasts, all U.S. embassy press releases and all overseas statements of U.S. ambassadors and other public diplomacy officials. As the United States Congress is wary of State Department propaganda and its shifting definitions of good and bad, citizens of foreign countries should ponder America’s silence regarding the new status of Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. The proclamation of lofty ideals by American diplomats should not be curtailed whenever it is inconvenient. When it is inconvenient, is when those ideals are most needed.

Note: The Kabul Press authorizes any other news outlet and blog to carry this story or
summarize it as long as it includes a link to: www.kabulpress.org

This is the man that Obama has authorized the CIA to kill.

The Battle of Hearts and Minds by Sheikh Anwar Awlaki

What are his crimes? I listened to the first 19 minutes of this hour-long video and found-out this American’s great “crime”–He dares to expose the evil behind American foreign policy, and he urges fellow Muslims to organize to oppose this aggression against Islam itself. The following is from the first part (he digressed into a lot of Arabic, at that point, and I had no idea what I was hearing.

The Battle for hearts and minds is a strategic deception intended to discredit Islam.

He quotes from RAND reports to make his case. The first report recommended a massive psychological warfare operation directed against all Muslims:

“A war in which ultimate victory will be achieved only when extremist ideologies are discredited among their host populations and passive supporters.” “Washington is flowing tens of millions of dollars into a campaign to influence not only Muslim societies, but Islam itself. The US is trying to change Islam itself. Without any shame, they are openly stating that we have a desire to not only change Muslim societies, but Islam itself…They are trying to promote this moderate Islam…Muslims should stand-up and unite against such arrogance.”

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“Churchill’s Choice” for Afghanistan

“Churchill’s Choice” for Afghanistan

AMERICA MUST SWALLOW ITS EGO; LET THE WISDOM PREVAIL

By General Mirza Aslam Beg

Afghanistan Ethnic Population

General McChrystal, having read Winston Churchill’s Memoirs, has opted for the new strategy for Afghanistan, named as ‘Churchill’s Choice’, defined in these words:

“The more an outside army sought to impose order, the more ferocious the Afghan response. Brute force of arms, was not only insufficient and ineffective, but likely to foment greater antagonism. Therefore, there was the option of pulling-out and working through and with the tribal system, and leaving the tribals to their blood letting.”

The new strategy, therefore was formalized during the Strategic Dialogue with Pakistan, with high expectations that the Pakistan Army, having ‘Steam-rolled’ the Taliban from North Waziristan, will be ready to support the surge against the Taliban, but on his return to Pakistan, General Kiyani has poured cold water on their hopes, by saying “Pakistan has no intention to launch ‘steam-roller operations’ in North Waziristan, nor it can provide any military support to the coalition forces surge inside Afghanistan.” So the hope for ‘brick-by-brick demolition of jehadi infrastructure’ is dashed to the ground, as much as the effort to capture Marjeh in the Helmand province, and the hoisting of the American flag on a mud-hut of Marjeh bazaar. The surge will now turn towards Kandahar, inviting a befitting response from the Taliban. This encounter, certainly, will not be a stalemate, as in Marjeh, but a turning point of the surge operations.

There certainly is no possibility of a quick-fix military success, to be presented to the nation before the mid-term elections, nor the option of “pulling-out and leaving the tribals, to their blood-letting”, by implementing the Maldives Plan. In fact the Maldives Plan would be the recipe for disaster. This option was used in 1990, after the Afghan Mujahideen and the government of Pakistan together provided the safe exit to the Soviet troops but for the exit of the occupation forces now, neither Pakistan nor Taliban can provide any such guarantee.

Obama’s dash to Kabul to announce the pre-mature success of the Strategic Dialogue, was a crude attempt to fool the American public, because the ‘surge strategy’ has failed and so has the Maldives Plan before it could be launched. What then is the option? The answer is “find peace with the Taliban of Afghanistan”, which is possible, if the occupation forces try to understand the genesis of Taliban of today and the way forward to negotiate peace with them. The Taliban of today are very much different from the Taliban of 1988-89. The Taliban of today are what the CIA website, ‘The Long War Journal’ describes in detail. Add to it the ‘hard core of young Taliban’, born during the last thirty years, under the shadows of war, who know nothing but to fight, for their freedom. They have seen no pleasures of life – la courtesy foreign invasions, by the Soviets and the Americans. They live in a state of anomie, where life and death have little meaning for them. Two super powers and the pride of Europe, the NATO forces stand humbled by them. They are a phenomenon, least understood, yet one can understand them, if there is the willingness to engage with them.

How to engage with them is the real problem. Because of the obsessions to call them “terrorists”, there is a hesitance to talk to them. One has to get rid of this obsession and treat them as ‘freedom fighters’, who, during the last three decades have sacrificed their two generations in order to“preserve their freedom, their values and traditions, which do not find harmony with the American plans and policies for Afghanistan.” Mulla Umar

There exists a serious trust deficit between the Taliban and USA, who betrayed them in 1989 atGeneva and again in 2001 at Bonn, by denying them power-sharing which they deserved as the winner and also being the majority, i.e. 55% of the population. The Maldives Plans which has now been hatched and is to be implemented, will be another betrayal and a disaster for peace.

Pakistan and the other stake-holders do not want a Talibanised Afghanistan. They have no right under any law to make such a demand. It is, for the people of Afghanistan to choose the form of government best suits them. Amongst our immediate neighbours, China follows the Communist/Socialist ideology and is the most peaceful country in the world. Iran follows the Islamic Ideology and despite such provocations from Israel and pressures from USA, has maintained its cool. Similarly, Afghanistan under the Taliban will follow the Islamic ideology, respecting the rule of law and distributive justice. In fact, the world has to remain engaged with them to ameliorate their sufferings of the last thirty years, caused by foreign aggressions. Pakistan and the USA, in particular therefore have “to recalibrate their positions and harmonize their interests with Afghanistan for a lasting peace in the region.”

It is not Karzai and his government, which will look after the American interests when they are gone from Afghanistan. The Taliban can provide such a guarantee, if we remain engaged with them to create mutual confidence and the promise to invest in rebuilding the country which has suffered untold misery, death, destruction and deprivation, at the hands of the two great powers – Russia and America. They owe to the people of Afghanistan, not in blood, or flesh, any more, but in kind, if they decide to save the day and abandon the Churchill’s Choice of “leaving the tribes, to their blood letting.

______________________________________________________________________

General Mirza Aslam Beg is the former Chief of Army Staff, Pakistan.

The Pakistan Report Card

Submitted by maddy

Imagine a situation where you have to speak before a large crowd. Right there and then, even though you are not a cow, you discover you have foot-and-mouth disease. That is to say, you mistakenly put your foot in your mouth.

Shahbaz Sharif did that just recently, when he argued that the Taliban should not attack Lahore because like the Taliban, his party, the PML-N, was also against Musharraf. He said, “We in the PML-N opposed his policies and rejected dictation from abroad, and if the Taliban are also fighting for the same cause, then they should not carry out acts of terror in Punjab.”

He claims that his remarks were taken out of context. That’s a flimsy excuse when he doesn’t offer an explanation for what kind of context justifies a statement like the one he made. And as far as the issue of foreign dictation goes, they seem to have forgotten their extended sojourn in Saudi Arabia.

At least, the outrage is there over this kind of appeasement. Of course, the theatrics of the PML-Q’s Nighat Orakzai run shallow. It’s odd that she asked Shahbaz to wear a dupatta and stay home bound because that’s what women supposedly do? Talk of betraying one’s own gender. But the real issue is something else. For the longest time people have suspected of the Taliban sympathies of the PML-N, and in this statement they hope they have found a smoking gun.

The Punjab assembly has been passing silly resolutions under the tutelage of Shahbaz Sharif, like the outrage over cheap midnight mobile calls because they lead to “vulgar” talks between the sexes. The Taliban comment is not the only evidence of reactionary thinking.

The PML-N has been coasting for sometime, immune to the rabid accusations against the PPP. In their anger of the corruption of this government, many observers have blindly sided with the PML-N. But other than supporting the judiciary, which is in its interest, what do we know of the party that will set it apart, especially from its previous terms when the party leader wanted to be the Amir-ul-Momineen? The PML-N had a terrible record of both attempted authoritarianism and muzzling the press. If anything, we have learnt from Asif Ali Zardari that rough times do not reform people; they just go back to their old self the moment they are safe and comfortable.

Given that the PML-N is, for all purposes, a government in waiting, its narrowsightedness is worrisome. Thanks to the PPP’s self-destructive incompetence, the PML-N needs to stand up and be ready to be a national party. It cannot do that by asking for special concessions for Punjab from terrorists, or for that matter, having law ministers cavorting with sectarian organisations in public.

Despite the PPP dragging its feet on the Taliban, it finally committed itself to battling them. If we are to treat Shahbaz’s statement as a Freudian slip, then it bodes poorly for the strides made in battling the cancer that is the Taliban. This desire to negotiate is based on a perverted world view that these murderers have something holy about them.

Yes, say no to foreign dictation. But also say no to domestic terrorists

Not a victory day. Brief conclusions of the second revolution day in Kyrgyzstan

Not a victory day. Brief conclusions of the second revolution day in Kyrgyzstan

Ferghana.Ru

The second day of another Kyrgyz revolution is over. Ferghana.Ru gives the summary of the day we would not rush to name as the victory: people are killed and injured, the aggressive and drunk people are walking around the cities, private houses and shops are being looted. The opposition forces seized the power and immediately started portfolio distribution. President Bakiev disappeared. The south of the republic is waiting for continuation. Nothing is over yet.

The controversial results of April 7, 2010 in Kyrgyzstan

1. The latest news says only in Bishkek 68 people were shot dead. There are also victims in other cities. Over 500 people were injured. The Bishkek hospitals are packed by patients, needing blood.

2. The White House is taken over by the opposition forces.

3. Roza Otunbaeva took the charge of popular government. She informed the journalists that Prime-Minister Daniyar Usenov “signed the resignation statement and personally submitted it to me. The opposition forces took over the power”, RIAN quotes Otunbaeva. The resignation of Prime-Minister automatically means the resignation of Cabinet Council.

4. According to Ferghana.Ru, the former opposition leaders and new decision makers are actively involved in distribution of chairs. No one takes measures to restore the order. The revolution leaders have no action plan for the near future. Allegedly, they were not expecting such successful and fast outcome. There is no plan, outlining the next first steps and explaining to the world community what happened in Kyrgyzstan in the last two days. “The escalation of violence is responsibility of criminal power”, says the message of Central Executive Committee of People’s Kurultai.

So far the position of new authorities in relation to American and Russian military bases as well as foreign policy vectors is not clear.

5. The law enforcement officers take the day off today, waiting “for special order”.

6. The looters behave outrageously in Bishkek. The groups of young tipsy men are walking around the city. The house of Bakiev is burned. Interfax informed that in the night of April 7 the Bakiev’s house was looted: people took personal belongings, bed-clothes, dishes, rugs and etc. Not a single fire-engine arrived to the place.

7. The imprisoned opposition leaders Ismail Isakov, Erkin Bulekbaev, Saparbek Argynov, Uran Ryskulov were released although there was no legal reason, i.e court’s decision, warrant or amnesty.

8. It is not clear where Bakiev is located at the moment. Some sources say he took off for Almaty, while other sources indicated he headed to the south. Southern part of Kyrgyzstan, except for few districts, is waiting; so far there are no protest actions or disorder.

9. The location of president’s teammates and relatives is not reported. According to unofficial information, the President’s son Maxim Bakiev is on his way to USA, where he is going to attend the investment forum on April 8 in Washington DC. The event was planned long ago and it turned out to be perfect timing.

10. The opposition leaders and various marginal men (which also refer to themselves as opposition members) give live interviews at state television channel.

11. Askar Akaev, the first President of Kyrgyzstan, could understand nothing and looked back. In his interview to KazTAG just as five years ago he blamed Americans, saying that Bakiev was the protégé of USA. The former President did not specify why Americans would remove the convenient president.

12. Unknown people devastated Kyrgyz national arts museum, named after Gapar Aitiev. The collection included precious paintings of such Russian and Soviet artists as Vrubel, Levitan, Falk and impressionists.

13. The Internet users in Kyrgyzstan regained access to Ferghana.Ru and other websites (blocked since March 10).

Bosnia at crossroads of history

Bosnia at crossroads of history

Apr 7, 2010

By Marcus Papadopoulos | After 14 years of existence, the Bosnian state is potentially on the verge of collapse as Serbs oppose plans for centralization.

Bosnia, an ancient land situated in south-eastern Europe and historically considered as a crossroad between east and west, is not for the first time in its history at a political crossroad regarding its future.

What is known today as the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina was a creation of the Dayton Peace Accord of 1995. This agreement put an end to Bosnia’s threeand-a-half year long civil-war and created two entities within the country: the Republika Srpska, or the Serb Republic, and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, more commonly known as the Muslim-Croat Federation. Both entities have their own government and parliament.

After 14 years of existence, the Bosnian state is potentially on the verge of collapse as the three main ethnic groups — the Bosniaks (or Bosnian Muslims), the Bosnian Serbs and the Bosnian Croats — disagree on whether the two entities should be eventually abolished in favour of a federal state. While other countries in the Balkans are making steady progress towards joining the European Union, Bosnia is stagnating and, as a result, is categorised by Brussels as merely “a potential candidate country for EU accession”.

Nani Beccalli-Falco, president and chief executive of General Electric International (L), shakes hands with Milorad Dodik, prime minister of Bosnia's Serb Republic, after signing a deal for future investments in infrastructure, transport, health and energy. Bosnian Serb Republic is economically vibrant growing economy while the Islamic Bosnian Federation is stagnating. Nani Beccalli-Falco, president and chief executive of General Electric International (L), shakes hands with Milorad Dodik, prime minister of Bosnia’s Serb Republic, after signing a deal for future investments in infrastructure, transport, health and energy. Bosnian Serb Republic is economically vibrant growing economy while the Islamic Bosnian Federation is stagnating.

In order to try and add momentum to Bosnia’s quest of joining the EU, the bloc’s new High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Baroness Catherine Ashton, who has little previous experience of foreign policy, has pledged that Bosnia will be one of Brussels’ priorities this year.

By highlighting the economic benefits accruing from EU membership, Baroness Ashton may make the case to the Bosnian population that accession would become a reality providing federal institutions in the country are reinforced. However, strengthening federalism in Bosnia is exactly the reason why the country is now facing the prospect of disintegration.

The roots of the current crisis plaguing Bosnia are found in the Dayton Accord itself. What was created was an artificial country with a peculiar form of government. The architects of Dayton, such as Richard Holbrooke, must have hoped that in time the former warring ethnic groups in Bosnia would start to co-exist in peace and harmony.

This hopelessly Utopian view not only failed to fully appreciate the hatred which had been generated among the groups as a result of the war but also failed to recognise the extent to which the Bosnian Serbs, whose ancestors first settled in Bosnia in the seventh century, feared (and continue to today) living in a Muslim-dominated state. Bitter experiences of foreign occupation, especially Ottoman and Nazi, helped shape the national psyche of the Bosnian Serbs.

The Serb population of Bosnia incurred significant demographic losses during the Second World War as a result of the mass murder and expulsion of its people by German and Bosniak forces. The latter was spearheaded by the 13th Volunteer Mountain Division of the Waffen-SS (Handschar) and the Young Muslims, an Islamist organisation that the late Bosniak President Alija Izetbegovic had been a member of. Memories of the Second World War were ingrained in the minds of the Bosnian Serb community’s leaders and people, leading up to the outbreak of the war in Bosnia in 1992.

Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS soldiers educating themselves about "Islam and Jews"Bosnian Muslim Nazi SS soldiers educating themselves about “Islam and Jews”

Representatives of the EU and the United States are currently pressing the leaders of Bosnia’s three main ethnic groups to adopt a package of reforms which would see the country become more federalised and put it on course for EU accession. While the Bosniaks and Bosnian Croats support measures which would strengthen the country’s central government, the Bosnian Serbs are vehemently opposed to losing their entity’s autonomy.

The Prime Minister of the Republika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, is even calling for a referendum to be held in his entity on secession from Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has argued that: “It [Bosnia] is a virtual state that only continues to exist because of the international community that created it in the first place.”

In support of his argument for a referendum, Mr Dodik cites the case of Kosovo, which unilaterally declared independence from Serbia in February 2008 following a “Yes” vote in a referendum on secession. Mr Dodik’s rationale in essence is: if Kosovo can, why can’t the Republika Srpska?

Policy-makers in Washington and Brussels, who engineered Kosovo’s illegal act of independence, are slowly being confronted with the consequences of their reckless foreign policy actions. The floodgates on secession are now widely open, with Russia having recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in August 2008.

Mr Dodik’s call for a referendum on independence has raised the spectre of an eruption of violence in the region after Croatia threatened to use force to stop any attempt by the Bosnian Serbs to secede. Furthermore, it is unlikely that the Muslim-Croat entity would stand idly by in the event of the Republika Srpska declaring independence.

“The Balkans produce more history than they can consume,” Winston Churchill once commented.

The patchwork of ethnicities and religions across Bosnia requires a balanced and sensible approach from international statesmen seeking to bring stability to this troubled region.

Unfortunately, the problems that the international community is facing today in Bosnia are largely a result of the West having involved itself in a region whose history it has a limited knowledge of. In light of Afghanistan, it appears that some governments just do not learn from past mistakes.

Marcus Papadopoulos is the sub-editor/staff writer of Government Gazette, a magazine for the British Government.

This text originally appeared in the February 2010 Issue of the Government Gazzette on page 43. Government Gazette, published by the Centre for Parliamentary Studies, Westminster, is a magazine for the British Government and is read by all members of the British Parliament, all British government departments, the top 1,000 senior civil servants, the top 150 judges, chief executives of local government, the Welsh Assembly, the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly, ambassadors and high commissioners, chief constables, charity chief executives and representatives of all 27 European Union member-states.

Reuters families demand US troops be tried over shooting

Reuters families demand US troops be tried over shooting


Source ::: AFP
BAGHDAD: The families of two Reuters employees killed in a US helicopter attack in the Iraqi capital Baghdad in 2007 yesterday demanded justice, telling AFP the Americans responsible should stand trial.

more about “air attack on civilians and children“, posted with vodpod

“The truth came out and the whole world saw. The American pilot should be judged by international justice and we want compensation because the act left orphans,” said Safa Chmagh, whose brother Saeed Chmagh, a Reuters driver, died.

“He (the pilot) killed unarmed innocent people, among them a photographer whose camera was very visible. On top of that when they evacuated the wounded they opened fire again,” said Safa, whose brother was 44 when killed.

Nameer Nooraddin Hussein, a 22-year-old photographer with Reuters, was also shot to death.

Graphic footage of the attack, which killed several other people on the ground and wounded two children, was published on the Internet by Wikileaks, a website that publishes information obtained from whistleblowers.

The video included audio conversations between Apache helicopter pilots and controllers where the US military identified the men in a Baghdad street in broad daylight as armed insurgents and asked for permission to open fire.

The footage showed the Reuters men and other Iraqis gunned down in the Ameen district of Baghdad in a hail of cannon fire from an Apache helicopter gunner.

Saeed Chmagh’s grieving son Salwan, 20, was deeply disturbed by the footage which was aired on Arab television channels and seen by more than four million people on the Internet.

“I want the American pilot who killed my father to be judged,” he exclaimed, while close to tears in the Chmagh family’s Baghdad home. “Why did he do that? Were the victims not innocent? Were they not human beings? We want our father,” he said.

Samer Chmagh, the murdered Reuters driver’s second son, said he did not understand why the US helicopter had opened fire.

“They were not members of a militia. Everybody saw from the pictures that they were journalists,” he said. The father of Reuters photographer Hussein, speaking to AFP from the northern city of Mosul, also demanded justice and called for a tribunal in The Hague.

“The innocents were killed in cold blood,” said Nooraddin Hussein, 63.

“I was very sad when I saw the images but today at least the American people will know the troops of their army were pleased to kill people.”

“Yesterday Was Our Answer to the Repression and Tyranny Against the People”

New Kyrgyz rulers hail Russia, aim to shut U.S. base

Main Image

Roza Otunbayeva (L), the interim government leader, speaks as she sits next to Vice Premier Omurbek Tekebayev during a news conference in Bishkek

Credit: REUTERS/Vladimir Pirogov

(Reuters) – Kyrgyzstan’s self-proclaimed new leadership said on Thursday that Russia had helped to oust President Kurmanbek Bakiyev, and that they aimed to close a U.S. airbase that has irritated Moscow.

Their comments set Wednesday’s overthrow of Bakiyev, who fled the capital Bishkek as crowds stormed government buildings, firmly in the context of superpower rivalry in central Asia.

No sooner had presidents Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev signed an arms reduction pact in Prague as part of an effort to “reset” strained relations than a senior official in Medvedev’s delegation urged Kyrgyzstan’s new rulers to shut the base.

The official, who declined to be named, noted that Bakiyev had not fulfilled a promise to shut the Manas airbase, which the United States uses to supply NATO troops in Afghanistan. He said there should be only one base in Kyrgyzstan — a Russian one.

Omurbek Tekebayev, a former Kyrgyz opposition leader who took charge of constitutional matters in the new government, said that “Russia played its role in ousting Bakiyev.”

“You’ve seen the level of Russia’s joy when they saw Bakiyev gone,” he told Reuters. “So now there is a high probability that the duration of the U.S. air base’s presence in Kyrgyzstan will be shortened.”

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin denied that Moscow had played a part in the turmoil in the former Soviet republic, which Russia openly regards as part of its own back yard.

Roza Otunbayeva

But he was the first foreign leader to recognize opposition figure Roza Otunbayeva as leader of Kyrgyzstan, and rang her soon after she said she was in charge.

The United States said it had not yet decided whether to recognize Otunbayeva’s government, and did not say who it believed was in control.

Russia’s top general said 150 paratroopers had been sent to Russia’s own Kant base in Kyrgyzstan, and Medvedev’s office said they would protect Russian citizens at its embassy and other diplomatic facilities.

Otunbayeva, who once served as Bakiyev’s foreign minister, said the interim government controlled the whole country except for Bakiyev’s power base of Osh and Jalalabad in the south, and had the backing of the armed forces and border guards.

She said the situation in Kyrgyzstan’s economy was “fairly alarming” and it would need foreign aid. She said Putin had asked how Russia could help.

FLYING TO MOSCOW

“We agreed that my first deputy and the republic’s former prime minister, Almaz Atambayev, would fly to Moscow and formulate our needs,” she told Russian Ekho Moskvy radio.

Putin did not promise a specific sum, she said. “But the fact that he called, spoke nicely, went into detail, asked about details — generally, I was moved by that. It is a signal.”

Otunbayeva said Bakiyev was holed up in Jalalabad. “What we did yesterday was our answer to the repression and tyranny against the people by the Bakiyev regime,” she told reporters.

Kyrgyzstan, a country of 5.3 million people, has few natural resources but has made the most of its position at the intersection of Russian, U.S. and Chinese spheres of influence.

Washington has used Manas to supply U.S.-led NATO forces fighting Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan since losing similar facilities in Uzbekistan, apparently after pressure from Moscow.

Bakiyev announced the Manas base would close during a visit to Moscow last year at which he secured $2 billion in crisis aid, only to agree later to keep it open at a higher rent.

The U.S. charge d’affaires in Bishkek met Otunbayeva, while in Washington a top U.S. diplomat received Bakiyev’s foreign minister, Kadyrbek Sarbayev.

“Our message to both is the same,” State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told a news briefing. “We will continue to urge them to resolve this in a peaceful way.”

Michael McFaul, a senior White House adviser on Russia told reporters in Prague: “This is not some anti-American coup. That we know for sure, and this is not a sponsored-by-the-Russians coup.”

He said Medvedev and Obama had not discussed the base. A U.S. official said they had considered making a joint statement on Kyrgyzstan, but none was issued.

AIRBASE STILL OPERATING

The Pentagon said limited operations were continuing at Manas, and support to Afghanistan had not been seriously harmed.

Pentagon officials say Manas has been central to the war effort, allowing around-the-clock combat airlifts and airdrops, medical evacuation and aerial refueling, and that alternative solutions would be less efficient and more expensive.

Bakiyev, himself brought to power by a “people power” revolution in 2005, told Reuters by telephone that he had no plans to step down, but offered to talk to the opposition leaders who have claimed control of Kyrgyzstan.

“I can’t say that Russia is behind this,” he said. “I don’t want to say that — I just don’t want to believe it.”

Speaking to Russia’s Ekho Moskvy radio, he acknowledged that he had little control over events in the capital.

With rioters roaming the streets and widespread looting after a day in which dozens were killed in clashes between protesters and police, the self-proclaimed new interior minister ordered security forces to fire on looters.

Bishkek awoke to blazing cars and burned-out shops on Thursday after a day in which at least 75 people were killed.

Smoke billowed from the seven-storey White House, the main seat of government, as crowds rampaged through it. Looting was widespread and shots could still be heard on Thursday night.

The uprising was sparked by discontent over corruption, nepotism and rising utility prices. A third of the population live below the poverty line. Remittances from the 800,000 Kyrgyz working in Russia make up about 40 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s GDP.

Another 10 percent or so comes from the giant Kumtor gold mine, operated by Canada’s Centerra Gold.

Centerra said operations were unaffected by the turmoil, but its shares were down around 5 percent on the day, following an 11 percent fall on Wednesday. [nN08121726]

(Additional reporting by Olga Dzyubenko in Bishkek, Khulkar Isamova in Osh, Robin Paxton, Steve Gutterman and Guy Faulconbridge in Moscow; Lucy Hornby in Beijing, Peter Graff in Kabul; Denis Dyomkin in Prague; Phil Stewart, Andrew Quinn and Adam Entous in Washington; Writing by Kevin Liffey; editing by David Stamp)