Ukraine Seeks To Supply Reactors With Its Own Uranium

Ukraine Seeks To Supply Reactors With Its Own Uranium

KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine is seeking to supply its nuclear reactors with uranium mined in the country from 2015, Deputy Fuel and Energy Minister Natalia Shumkova said.

Uranium billet
Ukraine aims to increase uranium production to 5,000 metric tons a year in 2020 and 6,000 tons in 2030, from 830 tons, Shumkova said at a conference in Kiev today. The eastern European country needs to invest 9.9 billion hryvnia ($1.25 billion) in uranium output through 2013, she said.

The ministry this week announced a tender to build a uranium plant and will pick a winner by early October, according to Shumkova. Russia’s OAO Tvel and Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Co. have the experience to build the plant, she said.

Ukraine plans to construct a third nuclear reactor at its Khmelnytskyi power plant by 2016 and a fourth by 2017, Yuriy Nedashkovskyi, the president of DP NAEK Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned operator of nuclear power stations, said at the same event. The construction is worth 30.1 billion hryvnia, he said.

The country’s nuclear capacity will double by 2030 by extending the lifespan of current reactors by 15 years and by building new generators, Nedashkovskyi said.

Energoatom had first quarter net income of 380 million hryvnia, Nedashkovskyi said, without elaborating. Ukrainian nuclear power plants will produce 87 billion kilowatt-hours of energy this year, he said.

Source: Bloomberg

US to build troop training center in Tajikistan

[The US doesn’t have to take control of Central Asian hydrocarbons deposits by military force; it is being done by “soft power,” training new armies, instead of fighting them.  Whose orders will these elite troops actually follow, after they take control of the nations?  Democracy building is so much easier than “nation building;” it is all a matter of  conditioning.] ]

US to build troop training center in Tajikistan

DUSHANBE – Agence France-Presse

The United States plans to build a facility for training local troops in the former Soviet Central Asian state of Tajikistan, the U.S. ambassador said Friday in Dushanbe.

“The plan… is almost $10 million to build this national training centre for the Tajik armed forces,” Ken Gross told journalists at a briefing in the capital.

Gross said the facility would be run by the Tajik national guards’ service and no U.S. troops would be based there, though he said U.S. military personnel could be brought in to assist in training.

“If requested, we might have people come in to help in training missions,” the U.S. envoy said.

The United States has in past years built training facilities, financed military programs and established airbases in a handful of strategic ex-Soviet republics in Central Asia.

These include Georgia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus as well as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia. The U.S. airbase in Uzbekistan was shut down by President Islam Karimov in 2005.

Russia has kept a close eye on such “military-to-military” contacts between the United States and neighboring ex-Soviet republics, wary of any perceived U.S. strategic encroachment into what the Kremlin has long regarded as its “sphere of influence.”

The centre in Tajikistan is scheduled to open in 2011, although no contracts have yet been signed with the Tajik government, Gross said.

Greece may start selling islands

ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
A cruise ship sails past Santorini, Greece, in this undated handout photo. Bloomberg photo
A cruise ship sails past Santorini, Greece, in this undated handout photo. Bloomberg photo

Striving to stay afloat under a heavy debt burden, Greece is preparing to sell, or lease some of its islands, according to the Guardian newspaper.

“Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfill their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6,000 sunkissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts,” the newspaper said in a story on Friday.

According to Guardian sources, an area in Mykonos, one of Greece’s top tourist destinations, is one of the sites for sale. “The area is one-third owned by the government, which is looking for a buyer willing to inject capital and develop a luxury tourism complex, according to a source close to the negotiations,” the newspaper said.

Potential investors looking at property on the island of Rhodes are mostly Russian and Chinese, the paper said. “Investors in both countries are looking for a little bit of the Mediterranean as holiday destinations for their increasingly affluent populations. Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea football club, is among those understood to be interested, although a spokesman denied he was about to invest,” said the Guardian.

Only 227 Greek islands are populated and the decision to press ahead with potential sales has also been driven by the inability of the state to develop basic infrastructure, or police most of its islands. “The hope is that the sale or long-term lease of some islands will attract investment that will generate jobs and taxable income,” according to the story.

Greece has cut spending, raised taxes and trimmed wages to tackle its huge budget deficit, which swelled to 13.6 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP, last year, more than four times the EU limit.

To secure an aid package from the EU and the International Monetary Fund, the government pledged to trim the shortfall to 8.1 percent of GDP this year and bring it back under the 3 percent EU ceiling in 2014. The package amounts to 110 billion euros ($134.5 billion).

Noted MIT Lecturer From Lahore Victim of Profiling At Boston’s Logan Airport

US up against a “Mujahid”


by Mansoor Malik, LAHORE, Pakistan, June 23, 2010


Was it the title of ‘Mujahid’ which led to the Punjab University vice-chancellor getting a ‘special treatment’ at the US Customs at Boston in May?

Punjab University Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Mujahid Kamran was travelling to participate in a four-day conference on distance learning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) from May 23 to 26 and was stopped by the US Customs officials at the Logan International Airport, Boston MA, for questioning – ranging from information about his late parents, baggage contents, any gifts given by somebody before boarding to examination of his credit cards including those expired. Still not satisfied, the authorities even checked him on Wikipedia.

This was his 12th visit to the US where he was marked as ‘special registration’ and questioned for almost two hours to determine “whether or not I posed a danger to the US”. The PU vice-chancellor has recorded his protest at the treatment he received at the Logan International Airport, to the American ambassador to Pakistan, and forwarded a copy of the letter to the foreign minister (Pakistan).

In a letter to the USA ambassador, Prof Kamran has explained that he was nominated to participate in the four-day conference at MIT, while his travelling and other expenses were borne by Babar Ali Foundation. Prof Kamran stated that he was issued a B1/B2 visa by the US Embassy on Feb 22, which showed that his security clearance was received some four days before the issuance of the visa.

He stated that he landed at the Logan airport on May 22 evening, where Customs officers told him that he had been marked for ‘special registration’ and was taken to a room. He stated that he was asked questions about his late parents, their jobs and addresses, his address in Pakistan along with telephone numbers. The officers also got his fingerprints for identification as well as a picture was taken. Later, he was asked to fill a 28-page document titled “Special Registration Procedures for Visitors and Temporary Residents”.

In the next phase, Prof Kamran stated, he was brought back to the main area where baggage was checked as a Customs ‘requirement’. There he was asked questions whether he had the baggage with him all the time before boarding, did somebody give him a gift and what were the contents of the baggage. “Once my baggage was searched, it was quite clear that the search was not Customs-related,” he stated. “I was apparently a suspect involved in some anti-US activity,” he lamented.

The Punjab University vice chancellor said the Customs officers also searched his wallet in a separate room and possibly checked expired credit cards, US social security number he had acquired while in the US as a Fulbright Fellow in 1988-89, expired State of Georgia driving licence and some other papers. He said he was also checked on Wikipedia, while another officer searched his contacts saved in his cell phone. Finally, he said, the officers told him that “he was a good guy and had done nothing wrong”.

Prof Kamran stated that he did not inform this episode to the conference organisers so that they might not feel embarrassed at this treatment meted out to a guest (vice chancellor). However, he stated that he mentioned this to a fellow participant from Pakistan, who brought it to the notice of his personal friend, Prof Richard Larson of MIT – the man behind the conference. He said Prof Larson came to him and said, “I apologise on behalf of America”.

“Why the US authorities do things for which the decent people of the country have to apologise,” he asked the US ambassador.

How lessons in the dark arts of special ops led McChrystal to the edge

How lessons in the dark arts of special ops led McChrystal to the edge

From watching ‘Kill TV’ to leading undercover night raids, the two-star general was on a brutal, bleak journey

By Kim Sengupta

General Stanley McChrystal with Nato commanders outside Kunduz, Afghanistan, last September, during an investigation into civilian deaths in an allied attack
AP

General Stanley McChrystal with Nato commanders outside Kunduz, Afghanistan, last September, during an investigation into civilian deaths in an allied attack


They called it the “Death Star” because according to one source who worked inside it, “you could just reach out with a finger and eliminate” somebody. On the walls were banks of television screens, known by the special forces boys as “Kill TV”, where footage from image-intensifier cameras of the enemy being blown up by air strikes, or being gunned down by undercover hit teams was shown.

This place was “the Machine”, a state-of-the-art military command centre hidden away in an airbase in Balad, a desolate stretch of land north of Baghdad. It was created by Major General Stanley McChrystal, the chief of US Special Forces, the most secretive force in the American military. Here, in the permanently darkened communications cockpit, dozens of US and British (SAS) personnel would gather around as nightly raids took place against al-Qa’ida and their insurgent allies.

Sometimes McChrystal would lead the raids himself, his squad of elite undercover combat troops, known as Delta Force, being told at the last minute that the commander was coming along for the ride. No one was quite sure what the Pentagon policy was on two star generals going on such dangerous missions, but then very few people in the US Department of Defence, and even fewer outside it in Washington, were even aware of these shadowy operations going on in Iraq.

This was the secret and violent world which shaped Stanley McChrystal, who on Wednesday was sacked from his job as commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan. The irony, as his colleagues were pointing out yesterday, was that his spectacular downfall was not due to some illicit military action, but because of a magazine article his aides had arranged in order to publicise his most recent high-profile public career.

Nevertheless, the seeds of what was to bring him down may have been planted at his time running “black ops” [operations], the head of a close- knit team answerable to very few, where decisions were made about life and death on a daily basis. The autonomy was not just military. McChrystal and his men would go into the badlands – at that time most of Iraq – to make deals with local tribal leaders, pay out money, organise allies and informants. There was no question of practical civilian oversight as no diplomat, American or British, would venture into these areas.

Thus McChrystal and the group around him, many of whom would follow him to Kabul, would have little to do with US or British civilian leaders. Their mistrust of what one of them described to Rolling Stone magazine as, “the wimps in the White House” was almost inevitable because of the shadowy nature of their work. When they did meet the civilians, the men did not have much to say to them, because so much of what they knew was classified, and thus could not be imparted.

One American officer recalled for example how much McChrystal disliked entering the Green Zone, the heavily fortified conurbation in Baghdad where Western administrative officials were based. “Stan always looked uncomfortable, he hated all the red tape. I guess, if anything, he was happier talking to the Iraqis than to most of our own people from State [the State department]; he wasn’t a networker.” The General’s preference for cultivating local leaders rather than Western officials continued in Afghanistan, where the President, Hamid Karzai, and others would speak of their regret at his departure.

But friends of McChrystal’s say his time in Iraq should be put in context. It was the most ferocious period in the conflict following the US-led invasion, with Sunni and Shia militias killing each other and Iraqi and foreign troops. Armed criminal gangs were on the rampage, kidnapping and extorting money from an unprotected population.

McChrystal had been told, goes the lore: “The gates of hell had been opened and you have got to help to shut them”. The US forces, stuck behind their heavily guarded bases, only able to move around in heavy armoured convoys, were not the answer: the war would have to be taken to the insurgents in the streets and fields.

Over cups of coffee at the main US base, Camp Victory, McChrystal described to fellow officers, like the British Lieutenant Colonel Richard Williams, then leading an SAS unit in Baghdad, his plans to carry out relentless rounds of night raids, killing or capturing insurgents, especially their commanders, and break the cycle of the militant groups “organically” reproducing themselves.

There were many figures among the coalition forces who questioned the approach. One senior British officer dismissed the notion that such “industrial counter-insurgency” could work. But the targeted attacks began, and along with prisoners came intelligence vital in the programme of “decapitation” against al-Qa’ida.

General McChrystal was in his element, eating just one meal a day, sleeping no more than four hours a night, constantly demanding more information on the militant networks. Among the few “artefacts” in his spartan accommodation was a prosthetic limb, belonging to a Sunni sheikh his men had gone to hunt but failed to find. The false arm had been abandoned during the man’s hurried getaway.

However, questions were being asked about how information was being obtained. There was an unofficial inquiry into the treatment of detainees at Balad. McChrystal was absolved because he was not there when the alleged abuses had taken place.

But then came information from a captured suspect which vindicated the commander’s approach in the eyes of the US military. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qa’ida in Iraq, had been blamed for hundreds of bombings. It is highly unlikely that all of them were his group’s handiwork, but the publicity helped create a myth of a master terrorist and Washington was demanding he must be stopped.

Intelligence agents working with McChrystal spent weeks winning the confidence of a suspect captured in the “Sunni Triangle” south of Baghdad. They eventually got a location where Zarqawi was staying, enabling the Americans to carry out an attack mortally wounding the al-Qa’ida leader. The body was brought to Balad. As it was being taken off the flight, McChrystal appeared, to stand and look at his enemy “as if trying some kind of silent communion”, according to one of the crew members.

There were other successful operations, with the British SAS taking part in some of them, like the freeing of the missionary Norman Kember and Shia sheikhs supplying arms to be used against UK forces in Basra. Like their American boss, the SAS reported the bare minimum back to London.

In Afghanistan, McChrystal initiated policies which may have been an attempt to curb the lethal violence of his past. He brought in the doctrine of “courageous restraint” to minimise civilian casualties. He ordered air strikes, which had killed hundreds, to be significantly reduced in scale.

But he demanded control of the special forces operations, which had been run by a separate command under his predecessor, General David McKiernan. Iraq-style night raids dramatically increased, causing outcry from human rights groups, which complained that innocent civilians were often being killed by masked assailants.

It was only in recent days that General McChrystal ordered them to halt, saying the killings of insurgents could not justify the local alienation. It was one of his last actions as commander before he was ordered back to face the wrath of his Commander in Chief.

A new world, a better America

A new world, a better America

By Nick Meyer

The 2010 U.S. Social Forum brought activists together from across the country in Detroit on June 22 for a boisterous, cheerful, and peaceful protest march in support of various humanitarian causes including the fight to end the Israeli occupation and siege of Palestine. The forum was expected to run through Sunday, June 27 and featured various workshops, events, and film  screenings designed to educate activists on ways to construct grassroots movements under the motto “Another World is Possible.”                                                                                                                                                                   PHOTOS: Nick Meyer/TAAN

DETROIT — Uniting under the motto “Another World is Possble,” an estimated 20,000 people from across the country gathered in downtown Detroit this week for the landmark 2010 U.S. Social Forum (USSF).

The event grew from the blueprint of the World Social Forum which is based in Brazil and came on the heels of the first incarnation of the USSF in Atlanta in 2007.

Thousands of people marched Woodward Avenue as part of the event’s opening festivities on Tuesday, June 22 to Cobo Hall, the epicenter of the various workshops and events organized at the USSF.

Grassroots activists representing causes ranging from the fight for clean air and water to workers’ rights to anti-war demonstrators all made their presence felt during the march.

Various issues relating to Arabs and Muslims were also featured both during the march and over the course of the USSF’s weeklong series of events.

Rabab Ibrahim Abdulhadi, a professor of ethnic studies relating to Arab and Muslim issues at the San Francisco State University in California and former University of Michigan-Dearborn director of Arab American Studies, marched while wearing a keffiyeh in support of Palestine along with friends carrying Palestinian flags.

Abdulhadi talked about the importance of solidarity between activists fighting against injustice along several different lines.

“We’re all under the same umbrella of justice and our struggles should not be separate,” she said.

“Being a part of others’ movements is a much better choice than trying to do it all on our own.”

Julio Lopez, a member of the Southwest Workers Union who traveled to the forum from San Antonio, provided an example of activists working together.

Lopez grabbed a bullhorn during the march and began chanting “Viva, Viva, Palestina!” as members of his group and other nearby marchers joined in.

“All of us here are connected to the same struggle, it’s the fight against corporate power that’s been going on for a long time,” he said.

Abdulhadi also emphasized the importance of educating others on a person-to-person basis and highlighting similarities.

“Many people don’t know about the details of things like the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement, Gaza, the occupation and anti-Arab and anti-Muslim sentiment in the media,” she said.

“We need to do what needs to be done and educate each other about our struggles.”

Organizers also constructed a Palestine tent in the USSF’s tent city area and tables were set up to pass out literature and educate fellow activists about the struggle.

A full slate of workshops at the USSF were also planned through Sunday, June 27, and with so many choices, many forum attendees were forced to make difficult decisions.

On Tuesday, June 23, a workshop entitled “Building Arab and Black Solidarity” was held at the TWW & Associates, Inc. education center in Detroit.

Speakers including Council on American-Islamic Relations-Michigan (CAIR-MI) staff attorney Lena Masri, organizer Nada Khader, and Nisrin Elamin, a curriculum development specialist for the Global Kids education center in New York City, talked about the importance of building solidarity between African Americans and Arab Americans  in the face of injustice and oppression. They also discussed strategies for better education on the two cultures.

“What I’ve found is that the best way to engage the youth and to get them to see different perspectives is during afterschool programs, since our schools are always about increasing test scores,” Alamin said.

Shaun Pierce, an activist from the south side of Chicago, said that the goal for the two cultures should be to get past the dialogue stage and move into actions that will enable them to organize with each other for common goals.

Linda Najjar of Ann Arbor said she’s worked with numerous young Detroiters and agreed that education was especially important.

“I work with black youths and educate them about Arab issues such as the Palestine conflict and in most cases they didn’t know, but they truly want to help once they find out.”

The issue of increasing safety for Arab American business owners in inner city communities was also brought up, and Dearborn resident and activst Rhana Natour relayed a strategy that local Arab American and Detroit police leaders have touted in the past.

“We need to encourage more community building efforts for small businesses to get to know each other and their customers, that’s the first step,” she said.

The forum was also a golden opportunity for event organizers to educate fellow activists about the challenges facing the Muslim community in metro Detroit and beyond, and the Thaqalayn Muslim Association (TMA) of UM-Dearborn hosted an event entitled “The Media Hijacked my Religion” at Wayne State University’s Student Center on Wednesday, June 23.

CAIR-MI head Dawud Walid was the featured speaker, highlighting important issues such as what he called media bias regarding the FBI killing of Detroit Imam Luqman Abdullah and the preponderance of fear-mongering and “passive propagation” of Islamophobia.

Walid showed local news coverage from WXYZ-TV about the Abdullah event and took issue with the way it was reported on.

He said that Abdullah was never charged with incitement, terrorism, or treason but that media outlets ran with the story that Abdullah wanted to wage a “jihad” against the U.S. Government.

Walid also took issue with the misuse of the word “jihad,” which means “personal struggle,” and the use of the word “ummah” to designate an alleged radical group despite the fact that the word means the entire global community of Muslims.

“This type of misreporting and misuse of Arab terminology is promoting Islamophobia,” Walid said.

He also slammed reports of 10th Precinct police in Detroit being told to be on high alert “because it was in a Muslim neighborhood” according to the WXYZ clip.

Walid also cited FBI statistics from the website loonwatch.com showing that 6% of terrorist attacks committed in the United States were by Muslims and compared the stat with the media coverage various events have received.

“You’d think that it was 94% of Muslims committing attacks with the way they are covered,” he said.

While the workshops served as an excellent way for various activists to get to know each other, a great deal of strategizing was also done on the side through conversation.

Non-profit worker Robbie Samuels of Boston came to Detroit with a plan to help create focused, topically relevant dialogue between USSF attendees.

Samuels passed out stickers that read “Ask Me About…” or “I’m Looking For…” on them for USSF attendees to publicize their issues and areas of expertise.

Samuels believes that organization and cooperation are the keys to making things happen in the fight for social justice in America.

“My goal is to get people engaged and to create welcoming community spaces across issues and across identities based on shared values,” he said.

“We need to get people engaged so we can take action.”

The CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter

The CIA/Likud Sinking of Jimmy Carter

By Robert Parry (A Special Report)

As the Official Story of the 1980 October Surprise case crumbles – with new revelations that key evidence was hidden from investigators of a congressional task force and that internal doubts were suppressed – history must finally confront the troubling impression that remains: that disgruntled elements of the CIA and Israel’s Likud hardliners teamed up to remove a U.S. president from office.

Indeed, it is this disturbing conclusion – perhaps even more than the idea of a Republican dirty trick – that may explain the longstanding and determined cover-up of this political scandal.

Too many powerful interests do not want the American people to accept even the possibility that U.S. intelligence operatives and a longtime ally could intervene to oust a president who had impinged on what those two groups considered their vital interests.

To accept that scenario would mean that two of the great fears of American democracy had come true – George Washington’s warning against the dangers of “entangling alliances” and Harry Truman’s concern that the clandestine operations of the CIA had the makings of an “American Gestapo.”

It is far easier to assure the American people that no such thing could occur, that Israel’s Likud – whatever its differences with Washington over Middle East peace policies – would never seek to subvert a U.S. president, and that CIA dissidents – no matter how frustrated by political constraints – would never sabotage their own government.

But the evidence points in that direction, and there are some points that are not in dispute. For instance, there is no doubt that CIA Old Boys and Likudniks had strong motives for seeking President Jimmy Carter’s defeat in 1980.

Inside the CIA, Carter and his CIA Director Stansfield Turner were blamed for firing many of the free-wheeling covert operatives from the Vietnam era, for ousting legendary spymaster Ted Shackley, and for failing to protect longtime U.S. allies (and friends of the CIA), such as Iran’s Shah and Nicaragua’s dictator Anastasio Somoza.

As for Israel, Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin was furious over Carter’s high-handed actions at Camp David in 1978 forcing Israel to trade the occupied Sinai to Egypt for a peace deal. Begin feared that Carter would use his second term to bully Israel into accepting a Palestinian state on West Bank lands that Likud considered part of Israel’s divinely granted territory.

Former Mossad and Foreign Ministry official David Kimche described Begin’s attitude in his 1991 book, The Last Option, saying that Israeli officials had gotten wind of “collusion” between Carter and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat “to force Israel to abandon her refusal to withdraw from territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem, and to agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.”

Kimche continued, “This plan – prepared behind Israel’s back and without her knowledge – must rank as a unique attempt in United States’s diplomatic history of short-changing a friend and ally by deceit and manipulation.”

However, Begin recognized that the scheme required Carter winning a second term in 1980 when, Kimche wrote, “he would be free to compel Israel to accept a settlement of the Palestinian problem on his and Egyptian terms, without having to fear the backlash of the American Jewish lobby.”

In his 1992 memoir, Profits of War, Ari Ben-Menashe, an Israeli military intelligence officer who worked with Likud, agreed that Begin and other Likud leaders held Carter in contempt.

“Begin loathed Carter for the peace agreement forced upon him at Camp David,” Ben-Menashe wrote. “As Begin saw it, the agreement took away Sinai from Israel, did not create a comprehensive peace, and left the Palestinian issue hanging on Israel’s back.”

So, in order to buy time for Israel to “change the facts on the ground” by moving Jewish settlers into the West Bank, Begin felt Carter’s reelection had to be prevented. A different president also presumably would give Israel a freer hand to deal with problems on its northern border with Lebanon.

CIA Within the CIA

As for the CIA Old Boys, legendary CIA officer Miles Copeland told me that “the CIA within the CIA” – the inner-most circle of powerful intelligence figures who felt they understood best the strategic needs of the United States – believed Carter and his naïve faith in American democratic ideals represented a grave threat to the nation.

“Carter really believed in all the principles that we talk about in the West,” Copeland said, shaking his mane of white hair. “As smart as Carter is, he did believe in Mom, apple pie and the corner drug store. And those things that are good in America are good everywhere else. …

“Carter, I say, was not a stupid man,” Copeland said, adding that Carter had an even worse flaw: “He was a principled man.”

These attitudes of “the CIA within the CIA” and the Likudniks appear to stem from their genuine beliefs that they needed to protect what they regarded as vital interests of their respective countries. The CIA Old Boys thought they understood the true strategic needs of the United States and Likud believed fervently in a “Greater Israel.”

However, the lingering October Surprise mystery is whether these two groups followed their strongly held feelings into a treacherous bid, in league with Republicans, to prevent Carter from gaining the release of 52 hostages then held in Iran and thus torpedoing his reelection hopes.

Carter’s inability to resolve that hostage crisis did set the stage for Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory in November 1980 as American voters reacted to the long-running hostage humiliation by turning to a candidate they believed would be a tougher player on the international stage.

Reagan’s macho image was reinforced when the Iranians released the hostages immediately after he was inaugurated on Jan. 20, 1981, ending the 444-day standoff.

The coincidence of timing, which Reagan’s supporters cited as proof that foreign enemies feared the new president, gave momentum to Reagan’s larger agenda, including sweeping tax cuts tilted toward the wealthy, reduced government regulation of corporations, and renewed reliance on fossil fuels. (Carter’s solar panels were pointedly dismantled from the White House roof.)

Reagan’s victory also was great news for CIA cold-warriors who were rewarded with the choice of World War II spymaster (and dedicated cold-warrior) William Casey to be CIA director. Casey then purged CIA analysts who were detecting a declining Soviet Union that desired détente and replaced them with people like the young and ambitious Robert Gates, who agreed that the Soviets were on the march and that the United States needed a massive military expansion to counter them.

Further, Casey again embraced old-time CIA swashbuckling in Third World countries and took pleasure in misleading or bullying members of Congress when they insisted on the CIA oversight that had been forced on President Gerald Ford and had been accepted by President Carter. To Casey, CIA oversight became a game of hide and seek.

As for Israel, Begin was pleased to find the Reagan administration far less demanding about peace deals with the Arabs, giving Israel time to expand its West Bank settlements. Reagan and his team also acquiesced to Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, a drive north that expelled the Palestine Liberation Organization but also led to the slaughters at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps.

And, behind the scenes, Reagan gave a green light to Israeli weapons shipments to Iran (which was fighting a war with Israel’s greater enemy, Iraq). The weapons sales helped Israel rebuild its contacts inside Iran and to turn large profits, which were then used to help finance West Bank settlements.

In another important move, Reagan credentialed a new generation of pro-Israeli American ideologues known as the neoconservatives, a move that would pay big dividends for Israel in the future as these bright and articulate operatives fought for Israeli interests both inside the U.S. government and through their opinion-leading roles in the major American news media.

In other words, if the disgruntled CIA Old Boys and the determined Likudniks did participate in an October Surprise scheme to unseat Jimmy Carter, they surely got much of what they were after.

Yet, while motive is an important element in solving a mystery, it does not constitute proof by itself. What must be examined is whether there is evidence that the motive was acted upon, whether Menachem Begin’s government and disgruntled CIA officers covertly assisted the Reagan-Bush campaign in contacting Iranian officials to thwart Carter’s hostage negotiations.

On that point the evidence is strong though perhaps not ironclad. Still, a well-supported narrative does exist describing how the October Surprise scheme may have gone down with the help of CIA personnel, Begin’s government, some right-wing intelligence figures in Europe, and a handful of other powerbrokers in the United States.  (read HERE)

Uzbekistan Intends To Sell China Gas Previously Promised To Russia

[This follows Russia’s loss of Turkmen gas to China, as well.  SEE: Spread from China ]

Uzbekistan intends to sell China 10 billion cubic meters of gas, previously promised Russia

D. Podolsky

Gas to Russia

Uzbekistan intends to sell China 10 billion cubic meters of gas, previously promised Russia. Official Tashkent agreed with President Hu Jintao

The Framework Agreement between the holding company Uzbekneftegaz and Chinese China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) on the supply of “blue fuel” was signed in Tashkent Right on 11 June, when the south of Kyrgyzstan inter-ethnic conflict erupted. And when it became clear that the interim government did not deal with the growing momentum bloody confrontation, there was at first behind the scenes, and then open option with an invitation to the CSTO, and / or Russia, that they would help the peace-keeping force.

It is known that Tashkent, under any circumstances, does not want to see in the Ferghana Valley Russian troops. Analysts immediately speculated that the steep bank toward the Middle Kingdom with the associated gas chord of Uzbekistan has made as a warning. After all, a framework agreement with China to anything not oblige, and, in principle, even it is not clear whether it will be sold at all.

Pipe deal

As explained by the Interfax news agency a source in the Uzbek government, to transport gas from Uzbekistan to China will be the pipeline Central Asia – China (Turkmenistan – China). CNPC initially true, stipulated that no cutout in the pipeline Turkmenistan – China in the transit countries will not. Uzbekistan is a party proposes to organize a Chinese production and transportation of gas by CNPC, and the budget of Uzbekistan to pay the royalties.

Uzbekistan, along with Turkmenistan is the largest earner of natural gas in Central Asia (annual production – 65 billion cubic meters of gas). In 2009, according to the annual report of Gazprom, “Gazprom export” has significantly increased procurement in Uzbekistan – to 15,4 billion cubic meters, making Tashkent, the leader in gas sales in Russia among the countries of Central Asia. In the 2010-m “Gazprom export”, according to the current contract, intends to buy in Uzbekistan, 15.5 billion cubic meters.

Partnerships in Tashkent and Moscow in the plans of gas supplies was good enough for the ruling Uzbek elite, led by Islam Karimov. In January 2009, when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid an official visit in Tashkent, the Uzbek counterpart assured that “Uzbekistan will sell gas to Russia and only her, but who comes next” blue fuel “- is in the competence of Moscow.”

But the ambitious plans of Tashkent prevents insufficient capacity pipeline Central Asia – Center (CAC), which receives gas from Uzbekistan to Russia. The pipeline on the territory of Uzbekistan has lost its capacity from 56 to 45 billion cubic meters.

Meanwhile, experts suggest to upgrade it and raise the volume of the volume to 90 billion cubic meters. Here are the talks to expand the CAC have been frozen following the explosion on the pipeline CAC-4 on the border of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. However, it seems, it was only a pretext: situation on the gas markets of the European Union demanded that Gazprom to lower sales volume and the decrease occurred mainly due to reduction in purchases of Central Asian gas.

“But this is not the only reason for the cooling of relations in sphere of energy policy of Russia and Uzbekistan. Russian companies do not want to invest in gas production in Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, since no long-term contracts and invest in ongoing contracts for the purchase of gas is risky” – said Russian newspaper “Sight” expert IFC Metropol Alexander Nazarov.

At Gazprom and LUKoil not comment on the agreement between Uzbekistan and China. It is reported by “Kommersant”.

“However, Tashkent, Moscow demonstrated that it is not worried about the current situation on the gas market in Europe. If Russia will further delay the increase in purchases of Uzbek gas, as well as necessary for the modernization of the transmission system, Uzbekistan shifting towards China. The more that China tries to dominate Central Asian energy market, “- said” Interfax “a British researcher, head of London-based Institute for War and Peace, John MacLeod.

Davie gas

Meanwhile, analysts’ opinions are divided. One believes that Uzbekistan began the traditional “flirtation” with the Kremlin, and thereby put pressure on Russia to troops in the conflict zone in southern Kyrgyzstan, neither the RF nor the CSTO is not entered. Others believe that the matter is not a third-party Moscow’s position in relation to inter-ethnic clashes in Kyrgyzstan (given that it is Kremlin is so openly supported the new postperevorotnuyu power in the CD), and in the economic expansion of the Celestial Empire in Central Asia. Yes, and would do no harm to China to press the United States. The growing influence of America in the region are very concerned about Beijing.

According to the director of research programs in Russia and CIS Germanskogo Society for Foreign Policy Alexander Rahr, presented by the newspaper “Izvestia”, China receives in Central Asia, all he needs energy, uranium mining and export-import flows, and regularly pays for your cooperation. However, Beijing always bumps into the traps which are formed due to difficult relations between the countries of Central Asia.

“Many Chinese contracts were signed on a bilateral basis. But the geography of their actions related to multilateral situation. For example, a gas pipeline between Turkmenistan and China goes through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. The Sino-Uzbek railway line to pass through Kyrgyzstan. Willy-nilly, China will have to take into account the surges unfriendliness between neighbors in the region of Central Asia “, – stressed Alexander Rahr.

The reason is that experts believe that the practical things are often associated with politics, as well as individual settings for each guide, dictated from outside.”Leaders believe their country in some way superior to the others. They are reluctant to let these other encroached on their interests,” – said Alexander Rahr.

At the same time, analysts believe that NATO already is feeling these regional difficulties. Recent railways of Uzbekistan has suspended the supply of Tajikistan, blocking part of cargo for NATO in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, Dushanbe, never had a perfect relationship with Tashkent. But the situation deteriorated even further in connection with the controversial Tajik hydroelectric power station construction projects, which the Uzbek side, can lead to water shortages in Uzbekistan. John MacLeod believes that such incidents could lead to disruption of Chinese projects in Central Asia.

“We have a history of unstable relationships and far from ideal co …, where the usual argument about the distribution of payment of transit between the Uzbeks and Kazakhs could escalate … and a purely financial issue suddenly acquire political overtones,” – said the expert.

At the same time coming to power in Kyrgyzstan, the opposition, transformed into a temporary government, and its intention to build a unique and unrepeatable parliamentary republic from the raid made national characteristics as nervous neighbors, both China and Russia. Excessive democratic Kyrgyzstan, periodically shaken by “color revolutions” could seriously undermine the established framework of cooperation between Central Asian countries and powerful neighbors. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why all the States have adopted a wait and watch what the end a bloody standoff in the south of the country.

“In such a situation none of the foreign players pursuing in Central Asia, his interests, was not profitable to intervene in the events in Kyrgyzstan, so as not to spoil relations with other key partners – a reliable energy supplier Central Asia”, – the expert said IFC Metropol Alexander Nazarov In an interview with “The View.”

Russia – a generous soul

Analysts tend to think that the Chinese are trying to minimize the risk of local conflicts by providing each side some real benefits from the committed transactions. This is seen in the case of agreement on the Turkmen-Chinese gas pipeline, which provides that Uzbeks can also use it to export its gas.

John MacLeod notes that interest in Central Asia to cooperate with China has pragmatic roots.

Only China can invest in projects that are commercially not give immediate returns. They include construction of roads in Tajikistan, a study of oil and gas fields in Uzbekistan.

“It is unlikely that other foreign investors dare to operate in such difficult conditions. In this aspect, – says a British researcher, – the rulers of Central Asia do not think about big politics and treat China as an investment bank.”

This puts Russia party as a traditional Central Asian distribution of wealth in a rather awkward position. Before the global economic crises Kremlin poured funds from the sale of oil and natural gas projects in Central Asia. The crisis struck in Russia, giving financially more secure China’s free economic lever in Central Asia.

According to John MacLeod, though Moscow is trying to maintain equanimity, but by increasing the thermal effect in the relations between China and Central Asian countries “Shakes It”.

“I think Moscow is somewhat resigned to the fact that China’s economic expansion in terms of energy investment and exploration in Central Asia. Perhaps she does not like it, but she said that it was absolutely satisfied with this situation. But it is not entirely untrue, since Russia’s Gazprom has de facto control over the pipeline system of Central Asia. Kazakhstan is an independent oil importer, but despite this, Russia retains a key voice in decision making in the region, especially in the cases of turbulence on the political level “, – said John MacLeod.

24/06 13:14, Bishkek – IA “24.kg”, Daria PODILSKY

Source – 24.kg

Joint Statement By U.S. and Russian Presidents on Situation in Kyrgyz Republic

[This is a precedent setting document, in that it commits the US and Russia to a technical formula for conflict resolution, to be later applied to all areas of conflict within the pipeline conflict zone.]

U.S., Russian Joint Statement on Situation in Kyrgyz Republic

Both nations confirm their interest in supporting the people of Kyrgyzstan

THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
June 24, 2010

Joint Statement of the Presidents of the United States and the Russian Federation in Connection with the Situation in the Kyrgyz Republic

The United States of America and the Russian Federation confirm their common interest in supporting the people of Kyrgyzstan in their efforts to restore democracy and stability after the April 7 events and tragic confrontations in the south of the country. We extend our sincere condolences to the families of those who lost loved ones in the interethnic conflicts. We call for the use of nonviolent political methods of resolving the current problems, for a rapid restoration of public order, civic peace and interethnic understanding. We support a coordinated multilateral response to this crisis and support the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, neighbors and friends of Kyrgyzstan in their efforts to assist in the normalization of the situation in the country, including providing humanitarian aid. We intend to continue our joint efforts with Kyrgyzstan, to combat threats from narcotics trafficking and terrorism and work together to promote economic development of a stable Kyrgyzstan.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)

Read more: http://www.america.gov/st/texttrans-english/2010/June/20100624193636SBlebahC0.3160626.html?CP.rss=true#ixzz0rrhPIfvG

Russian Woman German Men Arrested for Possible Spying On Bhakra Nangal Dam

Russian not registered with police

TNN

JAIPUR: Olga Timoshik (32), a Russian woman arrested by Punjab Police from Vaishali Nagar here on Wednesday, is suspected to be involved in suspicious activities, including spying. She is neither registered with the Vaishali Nagar police nor the Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) here. As she was living in a rented accommodation in Vaishali Nagar for the past one-and-a-half years, the landlord should have had her registered with the Vaishali Nagar police station.

Though, the accused stayed in Jaipur for such a long time, the local police are not registering any case against her.

The Punjab Police suspect the woman might be involved in spying as her boyfriend – a German national, Thomas Kuhan, was nabbed from the high-security Bhakra Nangal dam area in Punjab for not having a passport. On interrogation, he said he had left his passport with his friend Timoshik. Kuhan, who was booked last month under the Foreigners’ Act and Passport Act and is currently in judicial custody, had served a jail term in Germany.

Sanjar Bakiyev Captured In Southern Kyrgyzstan

In the south of Kyrgyzstan captured first Bakiyev – Sanjar, which had a “strong resistance”


The minister of Kyrgyzstan: Today during a special operation arrested Sanjar Bakiyev – one of the main organizers of the unrest in the south of the country

Today during a special operation arrested Sanjar Bakiyev – one of the main organizers of the unrest in the south of the country – said news agency “24.kg” Acting Minister of Internal Affairs of Kyrgyzstan Bolot Cher.

According to him, “special operations, which are carefully prepared by staff of the Office of Internal Affairs Jalal-Abad region, today ended successfully, without loss, despite the fact that Sanjar Bakiyev has strong resistance.

The head of law enforcement agencies declined to give details, citing the fact that “the work to uncover the instigators of disorder with tragic consequences continues.” However, Bolot Sher noted that “the investigation and intelligence is convincing and compelling evidence not only of involvement Sanjar Bakiev to the tragedy of May and June and its key role in their organization.”

Recall that the detention of a close relative of the deposed president had previously told the media, but also of Swamps Sher stressed that his arrest was only today.

See section – Identities
Source – 24.kg

Blackwater XE To Be Given Control Over Afghanistan After US Pullout

[SEE: CIA gives Blackwater firm new $100 million contract ; Blackwater Firm Gets $120M U.S. Gov’t Contract

Blackwater Wants $1 Billion to Train the New Afghan Police Force ]

Afghanistan moved into private hands. The scandalous security company Blackwater is essentially controlled the entire country

A. Reutov

Afghanistan is now in private hands
Scandalous security company will actually control the entire country

The U.S. CIA has given the contract for $ 100 million private security company Xe Services, heiress infamous Blackwater Worldwide. Under the contract, Xe will deal with the protection of objects of the CIA in Afghanistan. A few days earlier, the company has already signed a contract with the State Department on the protection of two U.S. consulates in Afghan cities of Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif. Another larger contract Xe Services has the Pentagon to train police forces in Afghanistan. Thus, a private company becomes the largest player in the security in this country.

The contract between the CIA and Xe Services was prepared in secrecy. However, the details of the deal became known American newspaper Washington Post. , Told the publication, a source close to the negotiations, Xe will “implement the protective and security functions in Afghanistan and the region as a whole.” Primarily we are talking about the protection of objects of the CIA. The total transaction is valued at $ 100 million

The CIA confirmed this information. “Typically, we do not comment contractual obligations to anyone else, but I assure that in any case we are acting in strict compliance with federal laws and regulations,” – said the representative governance Sex Gimigliano.

Meanwhile, results of the previous tender were unhappy with two other of his party, specializing in providing security services, – Triple Canopy and DynCorp International. Especially since just a week ago Xe Services received a contract from the U.S. State Department. Dipvedomstvo instructed the security company of American consulates in Afghan cities of Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif. Last year, these services will cost U.S. employees Xe Budget $ 120 million should also be recalled that in February Xe concluded even bigger deal with the Pentagon. It is about training police forces in Afghanistan. This will bring Xe another $ 437 million

Company Xe Services (until 2009 – Blackwater) was founded in 1996, a veteran Special Forces Erik Prince. The headquarters and main training center located in North Carolina. Star Hour of the company fell in 2003, when, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq has signed an agreement with the State Department for the Protection of American officials in Iraq. On his website Blackwater calls himself “the most professional security company in the world, found the biggest budget. The estimated number of employees is 21 thousand people.

The company became widely known after the September 2007 of its employees who were guarding a diplomatic convoy State Department, arranged in a Baghdad firefight, which resulted in killing 17 people. An investigation revealed that since 2005 the company guards fired at least 195 times, and in 80% of cases – first. After the incident, the Iraqi Government had withdrawn the license at Blackwater, and at the same time accused her of illegal arms trade. But in defense of the company, a major sponsor of the Republican Party, made the then U.S. President. “The guys who provide the security of the State Department, is sometimes necessary to use force”, – said George W. Bush.

However, as it turned out, when democracy makes Xe are also successful. Contestants company suspected of foul play. However, refrain from public accusations.Officials also insist that all tenders Xe gets under fair conditions of competition through better service quality. “Blackwater has undergone major changes – the source said Washington Post .- They have proved to the Government of its responsibility. In addition, people who are doing a good job, sometimes in very dangerous places. No one should forget about it.” In this regard, experts recall that in Iraq, Blackwater “famous” participation in a secret CIA operation to find and destroy the leaders of rebel groups, as well as al-Qaeda. It is possible that in Afghanistan, the company re-apply this practice. Especially under its control will be virtually the entire country.

Alexander Reutov
№ 112 (4412) on 06/25/2010

Source – Newspaper “Kommersant”

G8/G20 summits security map

G8/G20 summits security map

G8 map

Security operations are in force in Canada as leaders of rich and developing nations attend the G8 and G20 summits.

The G8 summit of leaders from France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US, Canada and Russia is being held at the Deerhurst Resort on the outskirts of Huntsville, 215km (133 miles) from Toronto.

The resort is closed to public, with restrictions in force on local roads, the nearby Peninsula Lake, as well as airspace closures.

A ring of steel has gone up around the Metro Toronto Convention Centre area for the G20 summit which will take place after the G8 summit.

The “lockdown” of central Toronto includes a 3m-high (10ft), 3.5km (2.2-mile) concrete and metal fence enclosing the G20 meeting area and a huge security presence. Banks and theatres will be closed, as will one of Canada’s most famous tourist attractions – the CN Tower.

The Integrated Security Unit responsible for security over the summit period of 25-27 June, is made up of Royal Canadian Mounted Police, regional and city police and the Canadian military forces.

Many Canadians have balked at the $1.1bn (US$1.1bn; £730m) cost of hosting the summit.

The world is facing a chaos of competing diplomacies

The world is facing a chaos of competing diplomacies

By Jaswant Singh

Mao Zedong once famously called for the Chinese to “let a hundred flowers bloom.” Soon, however, he was recoiling from what he saw as a chaos of competing ideas. Today, the world seems to be entering a period when, if not a hundred, at least a dozen varieties of Weltpolitik are being pursued by great and emerging powers alike. Reconciling these competing strategic visions of the world, in particular of global crisis, will make international diplomacy more complicated than ever.

The intervention by Turkey and Brazil into the globally divisive issue of Iran’s nuclear program is but the latest, and also the clearest, sign of this new element in global affairs. In May, the Iranian, Turkish, and Brazilian leaders met in Tehran to conclude an agreement that would supposedly have Iran deposit 1,200 kilograms of lightly enriched uranium (LEU) in Turkey, which, in exchange, would send 120 kilograms of enriched fuel to be used in Iran’s research reactor.

Russia proposed this kind of swap earlier, but Iran declined the offer, and the version agreed with Brazil and Turkey was likewise intended to forestall Iran’s ability to produce highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can be used for nuclear warheads. But its other intention was probably to stymie American efforts to adopt new United Nations sanctions on Iran.

It is too soon to tell if Iran’s desire to obtain nuclear weapons has been delayed. The International Atomic Energy Agency has not ruled against the agreement, and I am informed that the Brazilian-Turkish brokered deal does not violate the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which Iran, as a signatory, is obliged to adhere. Nevertheless, the effort to preempt American strategy clearly failed, as new United Nations sanctions were implemented earlier this month.

As the deal was intended to avoid a nuclear standoff with Iran, why was there so much outrage in the US and the West? I fear it is because the US found itself denied its primacy in setting global policy on Iran. Instead of trying to explore the possibilities presented by the Brazilian-Turkish opening, the US quickly pushed the UN Security Council for more sanctions (the fourth round so far) on Iran. This forced Brazil and Turkey, both currently non-permanent members of the Security Council, to vote against the sanctions resolution.

The result? This vital vote was robbed of unanimity, with Brazil and Turkey voting against, and Lebanon abstaining. The UN sanction vote was also heavily influenced by another small country with a Weltpolitik: Israel. In February, a high-level Israeli delegation visited Beijing to present the Chinese leadership with “evidence” of Iran’s atomic ambitions. The Israelis then explained to their hosts – in considerable detail – the potential economic consequences for China if an Israeli strike on Iran should become necessary in order to stop Iran from fulfilling its “nuclear ambitions.”

China appears to have taken the Israeli message to heart, as it voted in favor of sanctions on Iran for the first time. Iran responded by calling China’s vote “two faced.”

Read more:http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=1&categ_id=5&article_id=116314#ixzz0rqtEqyTg
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

The emerging stew of Weltpolitik thickened even more with Israel’s preemptive move in international waters to stop a flotilla supposedly bringing relief aid to blockaded Gaza. For it was on a Turkish flagged ship that Israeli forces killed nine people, causing a near-rupture in Israeli-Turkish relations.

To be sure, this complex web of interconnected events reflects the declining global role of the US. But it also demonstrates the robust assertion of national interest by new players on the global scene.

Brazil, Turkey, and, yes, Iran are all clearly keen to demonstrate their political and foreign-policy independence. Brazil wants to prove that it deserves a permanent seat on the Security Council. Turkey seeks to re-establish its Islamic identity and “Ottoman” influence over the Middle East, thereby flexing its diplomatic muscles for a European Union that has all but rejected Turkish membership. And Iran simply wants to show once again that it will not kowtow to the “Great Satan.”

All of these motivations critically challenge US global diplomatic primacy. But America had better get used to these types of diplomatic cat’s cradles. For there are other powers, both emerging and established, with global foreign policies of their own – India, Indonesia, Japan. And regional players like South Africa, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Indonesia, and South Korea among others, will also have to be reckoned with in future regional disputes.

This increasingly complex web of intersecting national interests is the face of international diplomacy in the 21st century. Ancient rivalries and atavistic feuds may or may not be part of this; only future crisis will tell. But this amalgam of competing strategic visions probably marks the end of America’s post-Cold War power.

With the entire world affected by turmoil in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East, perhaps that is all to the good. Surely, the national interests of the US and the West are not the only ones that matter. Why, then, should the rest of the world leave the resolution of these disputes to America alone?

The era of US diplomatic hegemony has drawn to a close. And it would be a grave mistake to think that a condominium between the US and China will impose global order in the way that the Cold War-era US-USSR superpower rivalry did. Too many powerful countries now feel able to flex their diplomatic muscles in defense of their interests. Mao’s hundred flowers may have bloomed only briefly, but today’s myriad species of Weltpolitik are certain to bloom perennially.

Jaswant Singh, a former Indian foreign minister, finance minister, and defense minister, is the author of “Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence”.THE DAILY STARpublishes this commentary in collaboration with Project Syndicate © (www.project-syndicate.org).

Lebanon Parliament-Government at Loggerheads over Oil

Parliament-Government at Loggerheads over Oil, Berri Adamant to Keep Draft Law Alive

A parliamentary-governmental dispute over oil and natural gas reserves became public on Thursday after Energy and Water Minister Jebran Bassil said the cabinet’s proposed draft law was better than that of parliament.
Bassil said during a press conference that work began on the government’s draft law in 2006. He unveiled that he has been working on it with a specialized team that has received training in Norway as part of the oil for development program.

Bassil expressed belief that the ministry’s proposal was better than the draft law proposed by MP Ali Hassan Khalil.

Earlier in the week, a dispute emerged during the meeting of joint parliamentary committees over the draft law.

Speaker Nabih Berri seems adamant to continue discussions on it without hinting that there are differences between him and Premier Saad Hariri over the dispute which led to a lack of quorum during the committees’ meeting, An Nahar said Friday.

The draft law “will remain alive because it deals with a vital and sovereign cause,” Berri told the daily. “Lebanon has the full right to benefit from this wealth in oil and gas fields.”

While he denied there were differences between him and Hariri, the speaker said: “I am afraid of and warn from the ongoing procrastination.”

Asked about threats by Israel that it would not hesitate to use force to protect the fields, Berri said: “The best response is to speed up adoption of the oil exploration draft law.”

He wondered why the proposal would meet opposition given that he was attempting to guarantee the best way to pay off Lebanon’s debts.