Obama Gave Bibi Satisfaction

Israeli PM heads to UN after White House success


President Barack Obama talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as they walk to Netanyahu’s car outside the Oval Office of the White House in Washington

 

WASHINGTON : Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu headed to the United Nations Wednesday to meet UN chief Ban Ki-moon, saying he could perform miracles to hammer out a peace deal if all sides come together.
After his warm White House talks with US President Barack Obama, Netanyahu told ABC television he wanted to reach an agreement acceptable to Israelis with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
"We want President Abbas to grasp my hand, get into a room, shake it, sit down and negotiate a final settlement of peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he told the US news channel.
He added he was confident a Middle East peace deal, which has eluded successive Israeli, Palestinian and US leaders for over six decades, could be struck.
"Don’t be so skeptical," he said. "Raise your hopes. It’s summer time and we can perform miracles if we set our sights to them."
Israel was Wednesday hailing a new chapter of warm ties with the United States after the upbeat summit between Netanyahu and Obama.
"A president now working with the premier, not against him," thrilled the right-wing Jerusalem Post. "This time, publicly at least, there were none of the harsh demands, none of the hectoring, none of the patronizing."
But the Israeli premier may find the UN secretary general less forthcoming during their talks later Wednesday.
Ban said Tuesday that while Israel’s easing of its four-year blockade of the Gaza Strip was welcome, more needed to be done to ease Palestinian hardships.
His spokesman noted that Ban "has long called for a significant shift in strategy towards meeting the great needs of Gaza’s population.
"Further steps must now follow to meet those needs and to allow the United Nations to accelerate and expand its efforts."
The UN chief has demanded Israel lift its blockade of the impoverished Gaza Strip, imposed in the wake of the election victory by Hamas Islamic militants who now control the Palestinian territory.
Israel has so far given the go-ahead for the international community to import construction materials into Gaza. And Netanyahu said Wednesday further steps were under consideration.
"There are more things we are prepared to do… There are things like additional easing of movements, some questions of economic projects," Netanyahu told ABC. "There are quite a few. The point is we are prepared to do them."
The change in policy was triggered by the international condemnation of an Israeli commando raid on an aid flotilla trying to break the blockade that led to the deaths of nine Turkish activists on May 31.
Israel has set up a commission of inquiry into the events with the participation of British and Canadian observers, but some nations are calling at the UN for a fuller international probe.
After Tuesday’s White House meeting, Obama said he hoped for direct peace talks to start before the end of September when an Israeli freeze on settlement building is due to expire.
"I believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu wants peace. I think he’s willing to take risks for peace," Obama told reporters.
He also strongly disputed suggestions that he had distanced the United States from Israel, sharing a prolonged handshake with the visiting Israeli leader for the cameras.
Netanyahu did not say directly whether he would extend the freeze on settlement construction in Arab east Jerusalem, but hinted it was a possibility.
"I think once we get there realities may change, but I think the most important reality is that we don’t stick on all sorts of requirements and grievances," he told ABC.
During his talks with Ban, Netanyahu is expected to repeat his call for global support of US-led efforts to keep up diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran.
Western powers accuse Tehran of seeking to build an atomic bomb, charges vehemently denied by the Islamic republic.
Late Wednesday, Netanyahu will address Jewish leaders in New York and on Thursday he gives a speech to the Council for Foreign Relations and meets with former president Bill Clinton. – AFP/fa

Pakistan’s competing jihadists

Pakistan’s competing jihadists

PRAVEEN SWAMI

The supporters of Jama'at-ud-Da'wah, Lashkar-e-Taiba's parent religious body, during an anti-India rally in Lahore. File Photo
AP The supporters of Jama’at-ud-Da’wah, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s parent religious body, during an anti-India rally in Lahore. File Photo

“My sister, this should explain much,” begins London-raised Dhiren Bharot’s 1999 chronicle of his life as a jihadist: “cross the line,” he urged her.

Bharot’s The Army of Madinah lashed out at the jihad in Jammu and Kashmir. It was a “semi-farcical” and “secondary rate jihad” for which “thousands upon thousands of guest mujahideen are being slaughtered at a phenomenal pace.” Pakistan and its Inter-Services Intelligence, Bharot went on, were using foreign jihadists as “cannon fodder.” He suggested that the jihadists focus on targeting the West, instead of confining jihad “to the mountain-tops of foreign countries.”

More than a decade after they were written, Bharot’s ideas are finding increasing resonance among jihadists in Pakistan — posing a growing problem for Islamabad and a new order of threat to India.

Last month, Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram delivered a firm message to Islamabad. Making clear that he was less than satisfied with the action Pakistan had taken so far against the perpetrators of the November 2008 Mumbai attack, he pointed to the “mountain of evidence” indicting the Lahore-based leadership of the Lashkar-e-Taiba. “Not more than two of the seven arrested by Pakistan,” Mr. Chidambaram said, “are frontline people.”

Pakistan has reason not to meet Mr. Chidambaram’s demands: at least two serving ISI officers are now known to have been involved in the Mumbai attack. But the ISI also confronts a second problem that has little to do with India. The Lashkar, the state’s most durable political asset, is losing legitimacy despite its vast resources and infrastructure. In jihadist chat rooms, and through pamphlets handed out at the Lashkar’s headquarters at Muridke, the organisation has been accused of treachery for failing to join the war against the Pakistani state and the West.

Said al-Masri’s message

In coming years, the competitive power struggle could transfigure the structure of the jihadist movement in Pakistan — and with it, the nature and scope of the threat to India. Last month, the al-Qaeda’s media wing, al-Sahab, released a posthumous audio message from Said al-Masri, also known as Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, a top operative killed in a United States airstrike earlier this summer. In his 26-minute message, translated and made available to The Hindu by the Washington DC-based Middle East Media Research Institute, al-Masri urged “the youth of our Muslim nation to inflict damage on the enemies of Allah the Exalted, the Americans, on their own soil, and wherever they are to be found.”

For the first time, though, al-Masri referred to the Pakistan-based jihadist, Muhammad Illyas Kashmiri, as an official part of the al-Qaeda — and made public his role in an attack on India. “I bring you the good tidings,” he said, “that last February’s India operation was against a Jewish locale in the west of the Indian capital [sic., throughout], in the area of the German bakeries — a fact that the enemy tried to hide — and close to 20 Jews were killed in the operation, a majority of them from their so-called statelet, Israel. The person who carried out this operation was a heroic soldier from the ‘Soldiers of the Sacrifice Brigade,’ which is one of the brigades of Qaedat al-Jihad [the al-Qaeda's formal name] in Kashmir, under the command of Commander Illyas Kashmiri, may Allah preserve him.”

From the text, it is clear that al-Masri had little knowledge of the bombing of the German Bakery in Pune. Pune is not to the west of New Delhi; it is not Jewish-owned; and no Israelis were killed there. There would thus be no reason to take al-Masri’s claims seriously — if it weren’t for the testimony of Pakistani-American jihadist David Headley.

Born in Pakistan-administered Kashmir in 1964, Kashmiri fought with Qari Saifullah Akhtar’s Harkat ul-Jihad-e-Islami. Early in 2000, Harkat leader Maulana Masood Azhar — released from jail in a hostages-for-prisoners swap that followed the hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Kandahar — founded the Jaish-e-Mohammad. Kashmiri, who believed that the group was too close to Pakistan’s military establishment, refused to join. From 2007, following the use of force against jihadists who had taken control of the Lal Masjid in Islamabad, Kashmiri began working closely with the jihadists opposed to the Pakistani state.

Investigators in both the U.S. and India say Headley made contact with Kashmiri after the Lashkar proved unwilling to commit resources to an attack on the offices of the Jyllands Posten in Copenhagen — a newspaper that incensed many Muslims across the world by publishing cartoons they felt were blasphemous.

Having joined the Lashkar in 2000, Headley went on to play a key role in its operations, among other things collecting the video footage that helped to guide a 10-man assault team to its targets in Mumbai in November 2008. But Headley became increasingly frustrated with the Lashkar’s unwillingness to support operations against the West — the priority, he believed. He railed against the Lashkar’s leadership, saying it had “rotten guts.” “I am just telling you,” he hectored a Lashkar-linked friend during an intercepted September 17, 2009 phone call, “that the companies in your competition have started handling themselves in a far better way.”

That competing company was the al-Qaeda. Headley visited Kashmiri’s base at Razmak in 2009, and came away impressed. “The bazaar,” he wrote in an Internet post, “is bustling with Chechens, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Bosnians, some from European Union countries and, of course, our Arab brothers. According to my survey, the foreign population is a little less than a third of the total. Any Waziri or Mehsud I spoke to seemed grateful to God for the privilege of being able to host the foreign Mujahideen”.

Headley told Indian investigators that dozens of mid-level Lashkar commanders had joined this influx. Evidence supports his claim. Earlier this month, the International Security Assistance Force announced the detention of a Lashkar leader in eastern Afghanistan’s Khogyani district. The Lashkar cadre had earlier been linked to a string of attacks in eastern Afghanistan and Kabul. They had also fought alongside the al-Qaeda and the Taliban against the U.S. and Afghan forces, notably in a massive July 2008 assault on a combat outpost in Wanat.

For the Lashkar leadership and its allies in the ISI, this poses a real problem. If the organisation conducts large-scale attacks against India or the West, it will expose the Pakistani state to intense international pressure; if it does nothing, it will risk losing its cadre and its constituency.

In purely ideological terms, there is little difference between the anti-Pakistan jihadists and the Lashkar: it is often forgotten that bin-Laden’s ideological mentor, Abdullah Azzam, was among its co-founders. In a March 2007 speech, Saeed lashed out at Pakistan’s rulers saying they and their pro-U.S. policies had led to “reckless measures in utter contempt of the safety, security, and well-being of their people.” He also demanded that the Pakistan Army “stop fighting the war of the enemies of Islam and Muslims in Waziristan and other places.”

Prudence over valour

Pakistan’s intelligence services understand that this polemic as well as the seminaries and charitable institutions the Lashkar operates sustain the ideological firmament in which anti-state jihadists operate. But Pakistan fears that action against the Lashkar will empower jihadists hostile to the state or, worse, provoke a head-on collision with a badly needed ally. Punjab politicians, who know that their fragile party structures will not survive a confrontation with the better-organised and highly armed jihadists, have chosen prudence over valour.

No one is clear just how the pieces will finally fall. It is certain, though, that the al-Qaeda seeks to undermine the Lashkar’s status as the sole agent of jihad against India. In April 2006, bin-Laden himself spoke of a “Crusader-Zionist-Hindu war against the Muslims.” His deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, warned Pakistanis in September 2003 that General Pervez Musharraf was plotting to “hand you over to the Hindus and flee to enjoy his secret accounts.” Now, al-Masri’s speech suggests, the al-Qaeda has found the means it needs to target India. Kashmiri’s networks may well have financed the Pune attack through Indian Mujahideen operatives earlier affiliated to the Lashkar.

The Lashkar cadre are responding. This March, they paraded with posters illustrated with images of the burning Taj Mahal Hotel, bearing slogans promising to “liberate Kashmir, Pakistan’s lifeline, from the enemy,” bring about the “freedom of the Muslims of Gujarat, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and the rest of India,” and to save “Pakistan’s parched waters” from Indian dams. Instead of acting on these objectives, though, the Lashkar has been forced to bide its time.

Put simply, the Lashkar can continue to do nothing and wither away — or act in the hope of regaining space ceded to anti-Pakistan jihadists, even if doing so exposes Islamabad to significant strategic risks.

Since November 2008, India has faced few major jihadist attacks — a consequence, in large part, of international pressure on Pakistan to rein in the Lashkar. But as competition between the jihadist companies Headley spoke of intensifies, both sides will have incentives to act. India’s strategic community must think hard on how to deal with the new lines of threat — against which its traditional diplomatic and coercive tools will be of no use.

The Al Qaedaisation of FATA

The Al Qaedaisation of FATA

NIRUPAMA SUBRAMANIANA new book is packed with much informationabout the rise of extremism and militancy in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Is Beithullah Mehsud dead or alive? Is the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan unraveling? Will the Pakistan Army launch an operation in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan? How will the current turmoil in the ranks of the Pakistani Taliban impact the American-led war in Afghanistan?

A new book, to be launched on Friday in New Delhi, may not provide the answers to all the questions that are being asked these days about the fanatic militants who pretty much have the run of Pakistan’s border tribal regions. But it is packed with much information about the rise of extremism and militancy in the border regions commonly known as FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) an ironic title for an area over which the Pakistani state can claim little control.

The Al Qaeda Connection (Viking/Penguin), by senior Pakistani journalist Imitiaz Gul, takes us through developments in FATA from about the time Pakistan joined the American-led “war on terror”, to the present intricate and bewildering web of alliances between Taliban militant commanders with disparate interests, their internecine rivalries, their links with Al Qaeda, and the great churning it has caused in the entire region for nearly a decade.

For Gul, the turning point for Pakistan — more precisely, the point at which it began to lose control over events in FATA — was in March 2004, starting with an incident in Kaloosha in South Waziristan. Tribesmen of the Zillikhel clan, outraged at the rumoured killing by security forces of an Uzbek militant who had become a local hero, gunned down between 40 and 80 security personnel. In retaliation, the Pakistan Army along with a local force known as South Waziristan Scouts, launched the Kaloosha operation that ended for them in spectacular failure.

Recalling this incident in some detail, Gul describes it as the “catalyst for FATA’s Al Qaedaisation,” sowing as it did the seeds of animosity among the local tribesmen against the Pakistani state and its army, and for their banding together under the leadership of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

The book also talks about the close ties between the Taliban and Punjabi militant groups raised for the jihad in Kashmir, such as Harkatul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammed and Lashkar-e-Toiba, known as the “Punjabi factor” in FATA.

Mohmand tribal agency provides a good case study of the linkages. Two rival groups operated in the area. The one led by Omar Khalid was the stronger group with its affiliation to Beithullah Mehsud. Another led by Shah Khalid Sahib was affiliated to the LeT, and was also considered by Beithullah as any ally.

In mid-2008, the two groups were involved in a bloody battle for supremacy during which Shah Khalid was captured and executed by the Omar Khalid group on the charge that as he was affiliated to the LeT, a group linked to the ISI, he was working at the behest of intelligence agency in Mohamand.

But Beithullah Mehsud lamented the death of Shah Khalid as a “big loss” and a week later, the head of the Harkatul Mujahideen, Fazlurrehman Khalil, landed up in Mohamand to broker a peace agreement between the two groups. Under the peace agreement, the followers of the dead Shah Khalid, following approval from the LeT leader Hafiz Saeed, agreed to abide by the rules of Omar Khalid and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Gul writes that the role played by the HuM chief as peacemaker between a Taliban-affiliated group and another linked to a Kashmir jihadi group in a tribal area of the North West Frontier Province “underlined the fact that activists of the all important organisations that had fought in Kashmir and were banned by the Pakistani government in January 200, had settled down in the tribal areas”.

The book contains a useful chapter of brief profiles of the various militant leaders in the tribal areas, including a more detailed one of Beithullah Mehsud. It also examines the “ISI Factor” in militancy. Gul describes the ISI’s quest for “strategic depth” and its overarching role in the affairs of the state, relating his own experience of being blacklisted by the intelligence agency as a “security risk” in 1997. In interviews with ISI and Army officials, he is told that while the agency supported various Kashmir jihadi groups and Taliban in the past, since the Kaloosha operation, the outlook had changed now.

“Why would we support forces that have become a direct threat to our own existence?” one unnamed official asks him. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Army chief, tells him in a meeting in January 2009 that he could not wish for Afghanistan “what we don’t want for Pakistan”. Gul writes that Kayani’s implication was that regardless of past relationships, the ISI must move on in the national and regional interest. And, that it had.

There were also officials who told the author that the ISI could not be prevented from doing what, according to them, other agencies, such as the CIA, the MI6, Mossad and Indian intelligence were doing in the region. There is a chapter on who funds the militants. Pakistan is awash with all kinds of theories on this, and Gul mentions all of them, but cautiously enough with a question mark on each.

Drawing from his first-hand reporting experiences, including conversations with several key actors, Gul has put together a very up-to-date book — it covers events until April 2009 — about a subject in which there is massive interest, but little expertise. The downside of the book’s current feel is that it seems too much culled from news reports, rarely venturing beyond the reported, with the author underplaying his own vast knowledge of the subject, his Pashto roots and connections in the area that he has written about.

As Kashmir Burns – Who Cares!

As Kashmir Burns – Who Cares!

4 July 2010
Greater Kashmir
Seema Mustafa

Srinagar: Kashmir is on the boil and the situation is perhaps, worse, than what it has been for years now. And if those in power remain with their heads stuck in the sand, there is every possibility of the state erupting in a manner that far eclipses the situation even at the height of the militancy decade. For this time, the anger and the frustration is spilling out on the streets, and the security forces are not tackling terrorists sent in by Pakistan, but their own citizens. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah blamed the Hurriyat, then he blamed the PDP for the current phase of violence. Union Home Minister P.Chidambaram insisted that the Lashkar e Tayaba was responsible. Neither of them is right. It is frustration, unemployment, anger, unhappiness all coming together in young people who have been born and brought up in conflict. They are fed up. Fed up of the political parties, fed up of India, fed up of Pakistan, fed up of their meaningless lives, fed up of the conflict and the violence, fed up with the inability of all concerned to resolve the issue and bring a semblance of peace into their lives. So they have picked up stones and moved into the streets, targeting the police and anyone else who confronts them. They are not the Lashkar, at least not as yet. Chidambaram’s statement is the usual cunning rhetoric that governments use to justify killing the innocent youth. They are not under the leadership of the Kashmiri separatists, who they in fact despise and who are now following this faceless, nameless, angry youth instead of the other way around. Until the governments in Srinagar and New Delhi realise this one very simple fact, they will not be able to deal with the situation that is already spiraling out of control. The next episode of sustained violence in Kashmir will not subside after a week or ten days, it will go on and on with disastrous consequences for the people. The fault does not lie with the people of Kashmir. Not at all. It lies completely with the political parties in and out of power, with the Kashmiri separatists and all those who have developed the problem of Kashmir into a little industry from which they derive their legitimacy and their livelihood. The Kashmiri separatists have slowly lost their hold over the people, they are not spoken off at all with respect in the Valley and are today a group of squabbling men who do not see eye to eye on any one issue concerning the state. The ordinary Kashmiri insists they are getting money from both New Delhi and Islamabad, and even if this is not true, the perception is so widespread that no one really believes otherwise. Except for hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani who is seen as more consistent and more honest than the others, no one from the separatist camp now commands a following in the Valley. The Omar Abdullah government is floundering, and totally out of its depth now. The chief minister is seen as weak, and that is not a good reputation for a politician in the Valley. Even those who have access to him admit that while he is a nice person he has no control over either the state government or the National Conference. The absolutely insensitive handling of not just the alleged rape of the two girls, but also of the recent deaths in police firing have really been inexcusable. There is little point in blaming the CRPF and suddenly waking up to its ruthless reality. Kashmir is a disturbed state and a government sitting in office cannot afford to lose sight of the peoples problems and issues for even a second. But somehow the National Conference has managed to do precisely that, and the party has disappeared from view. Omar, in a candid interview, has admitted that the NC tends to go to sleep when in power, but then certainly the problem cannot be resolved without some hard action. Minister Farooq Abdullah is the party president, but has shown little interest in Srinagar since he was absorbed into the government at the centre. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has just no interest in the state, except for infrequent visits to hand out dole. For him a settlement of the Kashmir problem is just talks with Pakistan, and financial aid from time to time for Jammu and Kashmir. The first is not going anywhere, and the second only creates more anger and resentment in the Valley as the politicians use the money to line their own coffers, while the people smart at having been reduced to the level of beggars. Justice, dignity, respect that have to be at the basis of a people and government relationship is completely missing with the UPA government remaining clueless and indifferent. There is no attempt to talk to the Kashmiris, and except for one half hearted effort, the Prime Minister or his functionaries have refused to initiate any dialogue between New Delhi and Srinagar that is very essential for peace and calm in the state. In the absence of a will and initiative, the stone pelting youth will have no option but to continue hurling the missiles at the security forces. Each stone they hurl is basically a cry for help, for justice, for dignity but the deaf and blind governments use these stones to kill and maim, and prepare the ground for more violence. A young generation that is born in conflict, that has never known peace and a normal life, has decided to follow the Palestinian intifada and use stones against bullets. These are really young boys, with anger and frustration bottled up inside, with a viciousness that frightens not just onlookers but even they themselves. Someone needs to reach out and speak to them, someone needs to handle the fires but unfortunately for Kashmir, the separatists can only fan the flames, and the government has long since lost its ability to douse the fires. “Let the peoples of Jammu and Kashmir breathe” was the plea of a seasoned Professor in the Valley. It was a heartfelt plea but the politicians in Srinagar and New Delhi have long since lost their ability to understand the meaning and the significance of this passionate advise.

Media banned in Kashmir

Media banned in Kashmir

SHUJAAT BUKHARI

Following strict curfew restrictions in Srinagar and other towns, the Jammu and Kashmir government has banned the movement of media-persons.

Authorities have cancelled all the curfew passes issued to media-persons. The police and security forces have been directed not to allow any journalist to move in the city. A senior officer on condition of anonymity told The Hinduthat the decision to ban has been taken at the highest level.

The CRPF and police personnel stopped several media persons including correspondent of a news channel who were on way to the offices to report the events. “I was stopped while on my way to office and CRPF personnel told me that no media-person will be allowed to move”, A. M. Sofi bureau chief of PTI told The Hindu. He said that strict orders have been issued to restrict media from performing the duties. Similarly another news channel crew was stopped at Sonwar.

Director of Information Zaffar Ahmad also confirmed that curfew passes issued by the District Magistrate have been cancelled.

Sources said that two employees of Information department were also thrashed by CRPF while they were on way to pick up their officers.

Former Ukraine Leaders Warn IMF $15 Billion Loan May Be Used To Pay Old Gas Bill

Former Ukraine Leaders Warn IMF Not To Issue $15 Billion Loan

KIEV, Ukraine — Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, has requested the International Monetary Fund (IMF) not provide Ukraine with a $15 billion loan, over concerns that the government will use one-third of it to pay the country’s outstanding gas bill.

Former Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
Tymoshenko said the loan should only be provided if the money is used for economic reforms, not to repay the debt to gas company RosUkrEnergo.

RosUkrEnergo transports gas from Russia and Asia to Ukraine and other Eastern and Central European nations.

Company owner, Dmitry Firtash, is an ally of Russian-leaning Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.

RosUkrEnergo has claimed that its counterpart, Ukraine’s national gas company Naftogaz, illegally took 11 billion cubic meters of gas from the company last year.

The case was taken to the Stockholm Arbitration Court, which ruled last month that Naftogaz should return the quantity of gas to RosUkrEnergo before September.

The court ruling has still not been enforced by Ukrainian authorities, as the government has been wondering where to get the funds or additional natural gas to repay the debt.

The Ukrainian Parliament has supported the forming of a provisional commission to investigate the matter. Tymoshenko’s parliamentary faction has written a draft regulation to forbid the use of the IMF loan to repay the gas debt.

“We have proposed that the IMF not give the loan until the Ukrainian government … refuses to carry out Stockholm’s decision,” said Tymoshenko on Ukrainian television.

Former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko, has also stressed that the IMF should be careful in providing Ukraine with the loan as there would be the possibility of a non-purpose use of the loan.

Tymoshenko and Yushchenko, were once close allies and national heroes during the 2004 Orange Revolution that resulted in pro-Western Yushchenko becoming president.

Their alliance was broken due to a disagreement over power. The once close allies then started endless arguments resulting in stagnating political and economic reform in the country.

The current president, Russian-leaning Yanukovych, won the presidency last February thereby ousting the former Orange Revolution heros.

Last week, the IMF had agreed to give Ukraine a $15 billion loan to support the implementation of economic reforms.

The decision came right after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Ukraine on July 2.

Ukraine had previously received a $16.4 billion loan from the IMF but it was suspended because of violations of IMF austerity rules. Ukraine’s ailing economy slowed by 15 percent last year during the global economic crisis.

Source: Epoch Times

Turkmen President: Relations with U.S. remains strategic vector of country’s foreign policy

Turkmen President: Relations with U.S. remains strategic vector of country's foreign policy

Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, July 7 / TrendH.Hasanov /

Turkmenistan’s cooperation with the U.S. “has been and remains one of the strategic vectors of its foreign policy, President Gurbangulu Berdimuhammedovsaid.

Berdimuhammedov stated on this while receiving U.S. Charge d’Affaires toTurkmenistan, Sylvia Reed Curran, who completes his diplomatic mission, the governmental press service reported.

He said “our trust relations growing from year to year allowed to raise the bilateral dialogue to a qualitatively new level of mutual interest.

The two countries are implementing a number of joint projects in areas such as fuel and energy sector, health, education, agriculture and others.

Curran emphasized that “the national investment climate and favorable environment for foreign businesses contributes to … the largest U.S. companies’ interest in expanding their presence in the promising Turkmen market”.

The sides exchanged views on the current state and prospects of further development of Turkmen-American cooperation.

Pallone Renews Calls for Armenian Genocide Recognition After Clinton Visit to Yerevan

Pallone Renews Calls for Armenian Genocide Recognition After Clinton Visit to Yerevan

WASHINGTON–U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Armenian Issues, commended Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday for visiting the Dzidzernagapert Armenian Genocide memorial complex in Armenia over the weekend and renewed calls for the United States government to officially recognize the systematic killing of 1.5 million Armenians between 1915 and 1923 as genocide.

“Secretary Clinton’s trip to the South Caucasus region demonstrates the importance of our relationship with the region,” said Pallone in a written statement. “The Secretary’s visit to the genocide memorial was a respectful act and a display of progress in U.S. diplomacy at the highest levels towards recognition of the Armenian Genocide.”

Pallone went on to urge the House of Representatives to “move forward with legislation on Genocide Recognition” and called on Barack Obama’s” administration to support this effort.”

“It’s my hope the Secretary will show a continued commitment to improving relations in the region,” he said. “Her recognition of Armenia’s commitment to improved relations with its neighbors and her support for a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in light of recent Azeri attacks is strongly encouraging and appreciated.”

In March, the House Committee on Foreign Affairs voted to pass House Resolution 252, Affirmation of the United States Record on the Armenian Genocide Resolution, by a vote of 23-22.  The nonbinding resolution would officially recognize the actions taken against Armenians from 1915-1923 as genocide. The next move would be a vote by the House of Representatives.

Turkey gives muted reaction after Clinton visits Yerevan memorial

ANKARA – Hürriyet Daily News
Ankara has conveyed its annoyance to Washington over Hillary Clinton’s visit to the genocide memorial in Yerevan, but has chosen to steer clear of exhibiting a bigger reaction since the secretary of state’s visit was personal and did not produce any official remarks
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton meets with Armenian President Serge Sarkisian in Yerevan on Sunday. AP photo

Turkey conveyed its annoyance to Washington after the U.S. Secretary of State visited Yerevan’s memorial to the victims of 1915, but refrained from making any public remarks on Armenia’s genocide claims.

“The visit to the monument was a private program and [Secretary of State Hillary] Clinton did not make any official remarks. Anyway, we conveyed our annoyance,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in an interview Tuesday.

Clinton made an unofficial visit to the Armenian genocide monument in Yerevan on Monday during her tour of the southern Caucasus.

According to official protocol in Armenia, foreign guests first visit the genocide memorial when on official business. After her arrival from Azerbaijan, however, Clinton did not proceed immediately to the memorial, instead meeting with Armenian President Serge Sarkisian and touring Yerevan.

Clinton paid her surprise visit to the memorial before she departed for Georgia on Monday. International news agencies did not carry photos of her visit, which were leaked by Armenian sources to the Internet.

Clinton has preferred to take a balanced stance on genocide allegations, although her party gave signals in favor of Armenian allegations during the last election campaign. The House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee voted 23-22 in favor of a resolution in March that labeled the 1915 massacre of up to 1.5 million Armenians as “genocide.”

Clinton, however, said both she and U.S. President Barack Obama opposed the committee vote and wanted to see the process stopped.

She said any action by Congress was inappropriate. “I do not think it is for any other country to determine how two countries resolve matters between them, to the extent that actions that the United States might take could disrupt this process,” Clinton said after the House vote.

Known for his hard-line nationalist views, Haykazun Alvrstyan from Dashnakszutyun’s (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) Yerevan bureau told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review that Clinton’s visit to the genocide memorial was an important step, especially the fact that Clinton’s title was written on the wreath that she laid during the ceremony.

“The title ‘U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’ on the wreath was a very important political message to Turkey,” he said, adding that Clinton’s visit proved that the United States has never denied the Armenian genocide as a fact. “The U.S. will officially recognize the genocide soon,” he said.

Clinton Visit “Full of Messages” For Russia

enlarge photo




Damon Wilson sums up Clinton`s visit and Putin`s statements

Putin`s words should be explained – Damon Wilson said in an exclusive interview with Rustavi 2. Damon Wilson is Vice President and Director of the International Security Program at the Atlantic Council, focusing on NATO transformation, European defence, emerging global security challenges and transatlantic defence and intelligence cooperation.

Mr. Wilson assessed the visit of the US Secretary of State to Tbilisi and the statements by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made promptly after this visit. Damon Wilson said the visit of Mrs Clinton would be followed by very clear outcome for Georgia. He said this visit was full of messages not only for Georgia, but for Russian as well, which tries to obstruct to the effective work of the Geneva negotiations.

While commenting the advice of the Russian PM to Georgia, who said Georgian government, should arrange things with the puppet regimes independently, Wilson said Russia would better push these regimes to the table of negotiations instead of obstructing to the effective negotiations around the South Caucasus problems.

Georgian opposition leader meets with Putin

Saakashvili’s destruction of the Kutaisi War Monument in December 2009.

TBILISI – Rustavi 2
Russian PM Vladimir Putin (R) looks at one of the projects for the memorial honoring the Red Army’s fight in World War II, to be built in the Russian capital to replace the war monument blown up in the Georgian city of Kutaisi last December, on Monday. AP photo

The leader of the opposition movement For Fair Georgia, former Prime Minister Zurab Noghaideli, met with Russia’s Prime Minster Vladimir Putin during a visit to Moscow,Georgian broadcaster Rustavi 2 reported Tuesday.

While U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was declaring support to Georgia accusing Russia of conquering Georgia`s two breakaway regions, Noghaideli was listening to Putin, who said, for others the word “occupation” had the meaning of liberation.

“For someone the events of 2008 mean occupation, for others it means liberation,” Putin announced.

Putin hosted the Gerogian opposition leader and took him on a tour of a World War II museum, together wwith another Georgian-born businessman, Mikheil Khubutia.

At the museum, they reviewed eight models intended to replace a 45-meter monument blown up in the Georgian city of Kutaisi last December.

At the museum, Putin gave an interview to Georgian journalists, saying Georgia’s government should launch dialogue with the Ossetian people without the interference of a third party.

Pakistan arrests former Gitmo detainee

PESHAWAR, Pakistan – Agence France-Presse
In this Tuesday, June 27, 2006 file photo, US military guards walk within Camp Delta military-run prison, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. AP photo

Pakistan on Tuesday arrested a former Guantanamo Bay inmate, alleging that he had rejoined Taliban insurgents in the country’s northwest, security officials said.

They said Issa Khan, a homeopathic doctor who previously spent around four years in the notorious U.S. military jail in Cuba, was arrested in Bannu town, about 180 kilometers south of Peshawar.

“We have arrested doctor Issa Khan. He was wanted on different terrorism charges,” Bannu city police chief Sajjad Khan told Agence France-Presse by telephone.

Pakistani security officials said Issa had been practicing homeopathic medicine in northern Afghanistan in 2002 when he was arrested by American forces following the 2001 U.S.-led invasion to bring down the Taliban regime.

They said they believed he rejoined the Taliban after his release from Guantanamo.

A local intelligence official said Issa was considered to be a commander in Tehreek-e-Taliban, the group responsible for some of the worst bombings in Pakistan in recent years

Torture claims: David Cameron announces inquiry

Torture claims: David Cameron announces inquiry

Binyam Mohamed UK resident Binyam Mohamed claims MI5 knew about his torture

David Cameron has said a "judge-led" inquiry will look at claims that UK security services were complicit in the torture of terror suspects.

The prime minister promised compensation for victims if it was found foreign agents had committed abuses with UK counterparts colluding.

Mr Cameron told MPs that to ignore the claims would risk operatives’ reputation "being tarnished".

On-going criminal and civil cases must end before the inquiry starts, he said.

The findings of the "fully independent" investigation, chaired by former Appeal Court judge Sir Peter Gibson, would be published by the end of the year, the prime minister added.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats have long called for an investigation into the claims by Ethiopian-born UK resident Binyam Mohamed that UK security services were aware of his torture by foreign interrogators, who were allegedly fed questions via the CIA.

Mr Cameron told MPs: "For the past few years the reputation of our security services has been overshadowed by allegations about their involvement in the treatment of detainees held by other countries.

"Some of those detainees allege they were mistreated by those countries. Other allegations have also been made about the UK’s involvement in the rendition of detainees in the aftermath of 9/11.

"These allegations are not proven but today we do face a totally unacceptable situation. Our services are paralysed by paperwork as they try to defend themselves in lengthy court cases with uncertain rules.

 

Tom PorteousHuman Rights Watch

"Our reputation as a country that believes in human rights, fairness and the rule of law – indeed for much of what the services exist to protect – risks being tarnished."

The panel conducting the inquiry would have access to all relevant papers, the prime minister promised, with some proceedings held in public.

He indicated the government was ready to provide mediation to people pursuing civil cases in relation to their detention in the US-run Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

The prime minister’s spokesman acknowledged the inquiry would have access only to UK papers and personnel – not those of other countries such as the US.

Labour leader Harriet Harman supported the inquiry, saying that any incidents of torture were "morally abhorrent" and a "grave crime against humanity".

She added: "There must be no hiding place for those who practise it and no excuse for those who turn a blind eye.

"The United Kingdom should always be at the forefront of international efforts to detect and expose torture, and to bring those responsible for it to justice."

‘Stitch-ups’

Mr Mohamed says he was tortured after being held in Pakistan in 2002, and subsequently moved to Morocco and Afghanistan.

He maintains the only evidence against him was obtained through such methods. Mr Mohamed also says agents from the UK’s MI5 knew about this and fed questions to his interrogators through the CIA.

But UK security services say they do not use or condone torture and the government is publishing the guidance to the UK security services, including a directive not to take any action which they know or believe could lead to torture by operatives from abroad.

Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "An inquiry into British complicity in torture is welcome and overdue but this announcement leaves room for fears that government is bending towards the security establishment.

"They wouldn’t be in this mess but for all the excuses for secret stitch-ups instead of open justice."

Tom Porteous, UK director of Human Rights Watch, said: "This inquiry must be demonstrably independent, comprehensive and to the greatest extent possible public.

"An inquiry done well can help ensure that British abuses are not repeated and restore Britain’s reputation as an anti-torture champion. The publication of the guidance is a welcome step. We will examine the details closely."