Abbas rejects call from US to start direct negotiations

Abbas rejects call from US to start direct negotiations

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbasrejected a call by US special envoy George Mitchell on Saturday to hold direct negotiations with Israel, Fatah memberMohammed Dahlan said.

During the three-hour meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Mitchell “did not give Israeli responses to the Palestinian questions regarding borders and security,” the Fatah Central Committee member said in a statement.

“Going to direct negotiations requires that there should be progress and clear Israeli answers regarding borders and security (…) In the absence of an Israeli response to these two issues, Fatah has not changed its position regarding its refusal to hold direct negotiations,” Dahlan said.

US President Barack Obama had urged Abbas in a telephone call last week to move from the current indirect or proximity talks to direct negotiations with Israel.

The Palestinian Authority said it would start direct negotiations, suspended since December 2008, only after progress in the proximity talks on borders and security.

In an interview with a Jordanian newspaper, Abbas said Saturday that he would be ready to enter direct negotiations if Israel accepted a third party or international force to maintain security of the borders with the Palestinian state.

Mitchell said the aim of his visit was to press on with Obama’s vision for a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, “which must begin with an agreement between Israel and Palestine that will provide for two states living side by side in peace and security.”

That vision also includes peace between Israel and Syria and normalization of relations between Israel and “all the countries in the region,” he said.

Mitchell said he looked forward to continuing his talks with all parties in the near future, adding he was “heartened by the discussion that we had here today and in the past several days.”

The US envoy met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Friday.

Mitchell said he would be visiting “several other countries” in the region in an effort to gain support for the US peace plan.

The envoy also met Saturday with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, who arrived in Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Premier Salam Fayyad.

Ashton started a three-day visit to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza by announcing 40 million euros (52 million dollars) in direct aid to the Palestinian Authority.

During her second visit to the Gaza Strip this year Ashton is to inspect a summer camp and a school run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, which is set to receive an additional 1 million euros in EU funding.

However, meetings with leaders of the Islamist Hamas group, which runs the Gaza Strip, are excluded from Sunday’s schedule.

Israel normally shuts off the Palestinian enclave from international contact to avoid contact with Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by the EU and the United States.

Ashton is also set to meet Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu late Sunday.

Israeli media reported this week that Lieberman would be ready to make a proposal to Ashton to allow the international community to conduct security inspections of goods and people entering Gaza by land and sea.

Regarding supervising the crossings, Ashton said the EU will be willing to do that. She said, “We are ready to engage in work at the crossing only if there is a clear role for the EU.” She said the “flow of people and goods is important to support business and the economy in Gaza.”

Ashton will visit Ramallah again on Monday to meet President Abbas.

The unprecedented crop failure in northern Kazakhstan

The unprecedented crop failure in northern Kazakhstan

A. Karatajev:

Unprecedented crop failure

The current drought old-timers compared to the drought of 1975. Then Aktobe had to procure coarse and succulent fodder far beyond, in the course was even chiliga.
Grain canceled
In Kobdinskom area this year were sown spring crops more than 56 thousand hectares instead of the planned 68.

Some farmers even before the spring sowing campaign refused to take risks. According to Acting Chief of District Department of Agriculture Aysagali Zhangasieva over the past two months, not a single drop of rain fell.Because of what crops were burnt during the shoots, in phase pusheniya, heading and booting.
– Yes, and spring had little vlagozaryadki, she averaged 40 cm. Even winter rye, we have almost gone. She has just been formed grain in the ear, – complains chief agrarian area.
Last year in the area had been written off about 60 percent of farmland. But a number of farms still able to get the harvest of 2-3 tons per hectare. But that was enough grain except for seeds, so farmers, indebted to financial institutions, failed to pay them. For example, such large farms, as Company “30 years of Kazakhstan”, “Bestau”, “Uspenivka” farm “Wak”, taken on lease Machinery.
– Their debt prolonged for 2010, but this year’s poor harvest again, – says Aysagali Zhangasiev. – Now, farmers shrug: although being returned equipment – pay nothing.We’ll have to re-write in credit institutions, to pay debts overdue for another year.
The main task at the farmers today – to return at least some portion of your investment. 90 percent of field area was insured before sowing, and now the city administration received applications from agricultural units to establish a commission to take them off and recoveries. Farmers in the area to insure their investment in three types: seeds, fuel and wages in societies vzaimostrahovaniya Aktobe-policy.
– As far as I know, they also have no money to implement in full, – says Aysagali Zhangasiev. – Company representatives recently traveled to Zharsaysky aul District and with my own eyes saw the deplorable state of cereal fields.

Hope for hay
Meanwhile, in the full swing harvesting fodder for winter. For this purpose the District Governor’s office created a special headquarters and its members twice a week to go forth aul districts. To gather information about the hay they bypass his household and agricultural units also conduct awareness-raising talk among the population.According to the Department of Agriculture, the average yield of hay compared with last year decreased by 2-3 times, and you can collect the order of two tons per hectare.
– Hay in the district fund is – assured Aysagali Zhangasiev. – If the pasture grass is not grown the economy, land committee allocates his other lands. A number of farmers mowing hay on the border with Wilsky area. A two-month plan on harvesting had already fulfilled half and hope that will make the necessary reserve for the winter.
In the district center of the cart of hay (100 bales) sold for 20,000 tenge. Last year it was worth 15-16 thousand. In the hayfield from the regional budget allocated 120 tons of diesel oil for 40 tenge per liter, which is distributed to the peasants.
– This, to people en masse began to cut and sell livestock due to lack of feed, we do not have – assured the chief agrarian area. – Everybody is trying to stock up with hay.Every year, we gradually increased the number of livestock in the 2-5 per cent, but this year the main task – to keep available. The problem with the feed grain, but we connect local entrepreneurs, so they took his carriage from the regional center and sold to the public at an affordable price.

With its forces
Farm “Maksat in Bulak aul District in the spring accounted for more than a thousand hectares of grain. But, alas, all burned. In addition, the farm spreads around 800-900 sheep and breeding cattle. According to one of the owners of farms Amantai Mukhamedyarova, they can procure the necessary supply of hay on his own and do not intend to get rid of the cattle. Now “maksatovtsy” mow the hay in the tract Koksal, 10 kilometers from the village of Alia. Pasture is on lease, there are 1,000 hectares of their land. In addition, Mukhamedyarova must provide their workers with hay – in “Maksat” with more than ten people.
Surplus guide BCH intends to sell the public at 200 tenge per pack. Recently, the Governor’s office held a gathering of rural farmers, the county where it was agreed not exceed the price in his village.
– There is agreement with Akimat – says Amantai Muhamedyarov. – And in the village all fall related to one another, so inflate the price does not work. Each year, the hay sold in the city, but this year seemed to provide. Sometimes we send one car in Aktobe, where we sell about 300-400 tenge per pack. With the money buy spare parts.
– Anyway, our place more or less successful – recognized Amantai. – For the farmer is hard every year, but this I have not seen. Even last year’s harvest was not the same, but the hay was in abundance.
At 10 kilometers from KX “Maksat” hay harvests Samat Erniyazov.
– I do not do separately pastoral or arable farming, – he says. – For more than five years on its technique hay for himself and relatives, selling the surplus. I work with nephews, who are studying in Aktobe universities. While mowing last year, the old grass. The current, probably will rise by fall. Still, it is twice less than in the past year, so you’ll have to mow until late fall. Many say that this year’s hay there, but my 300 hectares of land to provide a few families.
According to him, further away from Bulak, in the direction Karakuduk too good herbage.
– Many people are lazy to go so far – said Samat. – My land, located 20 kilometers from the village, are the most distant. But there were also times when for the sake of hay went to other areas.
As the mayor Bulak aul District Konysbek Shakenov, the District of farmers planted 6,750 acres, the result – zero. But hay should procure 9,720 tons. LLP Reed agro “and” Taldysay “should receive a half thousand tons. The remaining households will have to 3,5 thousand, private owners will need to 3700 tons.
– The district has 6 workers in the rear, they committed themselves to free our economy to bring the car of hay – said Akim District. – More residents approved the price – 200 tenge per pack. The problem is to provide livestock feed grain.

Three years of bad weather
– In fact, the third consecutive year, drought struck the region. But it is particularly tough this year – said Deputy Head of Regional Department of Agriculture Vladimir Litovchenko. – From March to July was normal rainfall. Because of the unprecedented heat for a long time soil warmed to 67 degrees. Worse, the very low moisture-accumulation occurred in the autumn and winter, and winter also had a low snowpack. As a result, bleached sown and natural grass in most areas.
According Litovchenko, almost 70 percent of sown areas of dead. Particularly serious postaradali crops in Alginskom, Wilsky, Temirskom, Mugalzharskom and Kobdinskom areas. Half the crop was lost in Martukskom and Kargalinskiy areas. In the remaining areas, the most optimistic forecasts, the yield was 2.3 tons per hectare.

Measures taken
To help farmers and out of the situation adopted a resolution akim of the region to eliminate the effects of drought, created a commission headed by first deputy akim of the region.
The budget allocated 150 million tenge on cheapening the cost of diesel fuel used for forage.
– Many people say that and we have declared emergencies, as in Russia. But there after declaring emergency fuel cheaper by 10 percent – said the deputy head of the department. – Our leadership has found opportunity to reduce the price of fuel by 50 percent in order to help people. Moreover, the economy, which will be hay and sell it to the public, will receive subsidies of 400 tenge per ton sold hay.
Also to encourage bimonthly for fodder allocated 5 million tenge.
Following four weeks of this bimonthly in the Department of Agriculture mark Kobdinsky, Irgiz, Wilsky and Shalkar areas that exceeded their commitments. Where more complex case in Alginskom, Kargalinskiy areas and in suburban Aktobe, where there is poor herbage. These areas allowed to cut hay on land holdings in the area Aytekebiyskom area. In addition, the options are processed the purchase and supply of hay by rail from southern Kazakhstan.
– We conduct weekly monitoring of the forage. Report immediately placed on the table akim. Particular attention is paid to prevent overcharging.
Also akimat area appealed to the Government, Ministries of Agriculture and Finance to consider providing assistance to offset costs, rollover of debts to the republican budget. This amounts to more than 2,5 billion tenge. This includes deliveries of equipment leasing, investment projects, loans. Especially heavily indebted farmers in Aktobe before AO Nuh “KazAgro – 1 billion 182 million tenge.
– We ask for debt prolong for 3 years, – said Vladimir Litovchenko. – In addition to this, the question of funding for the area under the “Food Contract Corporation” in the form of commercial loans for 87 thousand tons of seeds for sowing next year and the supply of 50 thousand tons of feed grain for the food needs of the population.
– We and its reserves will last, – assured the official. – But we are doing everything to help the people and not cause unnecessary excitement.
As compensation for farmers insurance obligations, the Office notes that 70 percent of the area insured. Two major “player” in this area – Society vzaimostrahovaniya Aktobe-policy “and” Dihan “- were formed recently, and they have authorized capital is low. So they too are in a quandary. Last year, farmers were paid about 260 million “insurance” tenge. This year, the Akim of the region appealed to the Government for allocation of funds for the completion of the authorized capital of insurance companies.
– In total, we ask the Government of 800 million tenge to such payments, – concluded Vladimir Litovchenko.
Abat Tau
July 15, 2010

Source – Aktobe Gazette

Kyrgyzstan Struggle Boils Down To Collision of Two International Political Experiments

Politics of the “great powers” in respect of Kyrgyzstan – the collision of two projects

E. Usubaliev:

The policy of “great powers” in respect of Kyrgyzstan: a clash of two projects.

April events in Kyrgyzstan, of course, will have a major impact on the future orientations of the country’s foreign policy. It is obvious that the weakness of the government in the country automatically leads to the vulnerability of the state by outsiders. Analysis of recent events and actions of the Provisional Government, showed that, firstly, the government was not able to act decisively to deter and prevent conflict in the south, during which there have been ethnic clashes. And secondly, despite requests for military assistance, the major powers, Russia and the United States in the early days of the conflict have taken a wait, but on its completion spoke highly skeptical about the future of Kyrgyzstan and the country’s stability.

All this may indicate that both powers have not only their plans for Kyrgyzstan, but also begin to implement their projects in the country, whose main goal – increased dependence of the new government of Russia or the United States.

If we let these “projects” a few words, then the project Russia is directed against the parliamentary system and it is preferable for strong presidential power. For the U.S., on the contrary a very convenient parliamentary form of government, as it is well within the scope of their understanding of democracy to the Third World.

The first signs that Russia may have a negative attitude to the development of parliamentarism in Kyrgyzstan appeared on June 21, when the Russian Internet sources, reports indicate that during the unrest in southern Kyrgyzstan, Russia has put forward some conditions under which she was willing to send troops into the republic, and dealt with the changes in the draft of the Kyrgyz constitution to preserve presidentialism. Later, by Medvedev during his visit to Canada noted that it is not a parliamentary republic in Kyrgyzstan will work.

It is likely that Russia is a parliamentary form of government is too weak to maintain order in the country and, more likely, Russia advantageous to deal with one strong leader, rather than with Parliament which, in theory, decision-making process should be more inclusive.

At the same time, the U.S. openly supported the idea of parliamentarism, allocating funds to conduct a referendum, increasing assistance to a network of NGOs in the development of democracy. Parliamentarism in Kyrgyzstan, the U.S. is beneficial because these conditions increase their ability to influence political decision-making as a leading individual parties (which will be held in the parliament) and through the civil sector (NGOs), which has traditionally been under their influence and control.

In the meantime, if Kyrgyzstan can not offer a vision of parliamentarism in the country and will not provide the necessary conditions for the preservation of a parliamentary republic and protection of the parliamentary system, both projects could threaten the stability of the country in the short and medium term.

Russian project – a strong presidential power is the danger of political instability, as the majority of political forces and the population against a strong presidential power. In this case, if Russia in one form or another support the “strong personality”, it will automatically increase the likelihood of a new revolution. Currently, a number of politicians among the former heads of security agencies trying to get Russia’s support on the eve of parliamentary elections in October 2010.

On the other hand, considering the fact that the U.S. has always played in the national contradictions and “the right of nations to self-determination” is their long-standing foreign policy tool to be feared that the U.S. can promote separatism in the south, and then conduct a scenario-type Kosovo in the former Republic of Yugoslavia. The U.S. has already spoken in favor of the fact that ethnic minorities should be represented in parliament.

Far from denying the rights of national minorities to participate equally in politics and representation in government, parliament, it should be noted that the lack of clear interim government and a clear national policy that would address these and other questions of national minorities, is potentially a major threat to the state in the future.All ethnic groups that form the multinational character of Kyrgyzstan should be linked to its problems, and in particular in the political arena, not from outside forces in the face of other countries, and the internal politics of the state. It is noteworthy that none of the leading political parties of Kyrgyzstan have not yet presented its vision of national policy. All this together, creates conditions for the vulnerability of the state by outsiders.

In the “clash” of two projects – the Russian (the presidency) and American (parliamentary republic) there is an urgent need to develop their own path of development that may come to cut the possible action of the major regional and world powers.

The expert community, in search of a suitable model of parliamentarism, regularly appeals to the experience of Western Europe, believing that this is the lessons learned can be acclimated in a traditional society in Kyrgyzstan. Meanwhile, it is clear that Kyrgyzstan has not yet “ripe” for Western-style parliamentary system – is already visible signs of the impending fierce competition between the main parties of the country, while no one can give no assurances that this competition authorities, would not turn in the confrontation on the streets.

Crude parliamentarism, not only in Kyrgyzstan but also in Central Asia as a whole, is a common feature of post-Soviet independent development. Without going into lengthy discussions about the peculiarities of political power across the region, it is important to emphasize one detail – from a theoretical point of view, the question of parliamentarism in traditional societies, virtually worked out, but countries can not stop the experiments on its implementation in one form or another. From a practical point of view, all the Central Asian regimes have been unable to reach realistic balance of powers between the institutions of government, while existing forms of parliamentarism are only a mechanism for strengthening of authoritarian rule and may not reflect the whole range of political forces in any country in the region.

The weakness of the ideological platforms of the existing parties in Kyrgyzstan, as well as the inner structures of authoritarianism themselves (which are designed for one person, group or tribal groups, business associations) is also a factor that greatly complicates the development of parliamentarism in the country.

Middle Way of the parliamentary republic in Kyrgyzstan – an independent army out of politics, as the guarantor of stability, preserve the constitutional order and the protection of parliamentarism. There can be variations of the Turkish path of development and construction of a parliamentary republic – where the army reserves the right to interfere in politics in order to protect the constitutional order chosen, or stabilization. This way not only allows you to find a balance between the supporters of the “strong hand” and advocates of parliamentarism, but also significantly equalizes the possibility of Russia and the United States to influence the situation in the country.

Usubaliev Esen, PhD, director of the analytical center “Prudent Solutions”.

13.07. 2010

Source – analitika.org

Plan Colombia: Ten Years Later

Plan Colombia: Ten Years Later

Drug War ChronicleIssue #640

The United States has been trying to suppress Colombian coca production and cocaine trafficking since at least the time of Ronald Reagan, but the contemporary phase of US intervention in Colombia in the name of the war on drugs celebrated its 10th anniversary this week. As Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) security analyst Adam Isaacson pointed out Wednesday in a cogent essay, “Colombia: Don’t Call It A Model,” it was on July 13, 2000, that President Bill Clinton signed into law a $1.3 billion package of mainly military assistance known as Plan Colombia.

https://i1.wp.com/stopthedrugwar.org/files/eradication.jpg
Plan Colombia coca eradication scene

Plan Colombia was supposed to cut Colombian cocaine production in half by mid-decade, and while total US expenditures on it have now risen to $7.3 billion, that goal was clearly not met. But, a decade down the road, there has been some “progress.” The leftist peasant guerrillas of the FARC have been seriously weakened and are operating at half the strength they were 10 years ago. Violence has steadily decreased, as has criminality. The Colombian state has been strengthened — especially its military, which has nearly doubled in size.Still, as Isaacson notes, those gains have come at a tremendous cost. Thousands have been killed at the hands of rightist paramilitary groups aligned with powerful landowners and political elites, and while those paramilitaries officially disbanded several years ago, they appear to be reconstituting themselves. The seemingly endless “parapolitics” scandals linking the paramilitaries to high government actors demonstrate that the price of “progress” in Colombia has been corruption, impunity and human rights abuses.

And the war continues, albeit at a lower level. Some 21,000 fighters from all sides and an estimated 14,000 civilians died in the fighting this decade, and all the while, peasants were planting and harvesting coca crops, and traffickers were turning it into cocaine and exporting it to the insatiable North American and, increasingly, European markets.

While Colombian and US policy-makers have hailed Plan Colombia as a “success,” neither Isaacson nor other analysts who spoke to the Chronicle this week were willing to make such unvarnished claims. “‘Success’ has come at a high cost,” wrote Isaacson. “Colombia’s security gains are partial, possibly reversible, and weighed down by ‘collateral damage,'” including mass killings, other human rights abuses, and the weakening of democratic institutions.”

“Success has eluded efforts to achieve Plan Colombia’s main goal: reducing Colombian cocaine supplies,” wrote Isaacson. Despite years of aerial eradication, coca remains stubbornly entrenched in the Colombian countryside, showing a significant decline only last year, after Colombia switched its eradication emphasis from spraying to manual eradication. “This strategic shift appears to be reducing coca cultivation, for now at least. In 2009 — a year in which both aerial and manual eradication dropped sharply — the UNODC found a significant drop in Colombian coca-growing, to 68,000 hectares.”

But, as Isaacson and others note, that decline has been offset by increases in cultivation in Peru and Bolivia. In fact, total coca cultivation in the region has remained remarkably consistent since 2003, at about 150,000 hectares per year.

“If you look at it from point of aiding the Colombian government to fight against the FARC and other insurgents, it has worked,” said Juan Carlos Hidalgo, Latin American analyst for the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute. “A decade ago, Colombia was close to being a failed state, with the FARC controlling large swathes of territory and threatening major cities. Today they are terribly weak and on the run, and much of their leadership has been killed,” he noted.

https://i2.wp.com/stopthedrugwar.org/files/coca-seedlings.jpg
coca seedlings

“Due to the widespread use of helicopters and the fact that guerrillas don’t have that kind of mobility, the Colombians and Americans have been successful in shrinking the area of operation available to the guerrillas, and that has hurt the guerrillas’ ability to recruit,” said Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. “A few years ago, there were maybe 16,000 FARC operating in six or seven major theaters, and now it’s about half that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean the FARC is finished; we haven’t seen any sign of that. Their options are fewer, but they are far from disappeared. Plan Colombia has been successful in empowering the Colombian military, but not so much in solving the problem of the FARC insurrection.””On the military side, the counterinsurgency, there has been definite progress,” agreed Vanda Felbab-Brown, a drugs and counterinsurgency expert at the Brookings Institution. “The situation in the late 1990s was very bad. The FARC was in the hills above Bogotá, and the paramilitaries were highly organized. Today, the FARC is much weaker, land travel is more possible, and other security indicators also show progress. That said, the FARC is still around in substantial numbers and can jeopardize security and economic development in particular areas. And the paramilitaries are back, even if the Colombian government insists they are not the paramilitaries. They are, for all intents and purposes, just like the paramilitaries of the 1980s and 1990s.”

“The idea was that if they suppressed the coca, the capabilities of the FARC, the ELN, and the paramilitaries would be substantially weakened,” said Felbab-Brown. “They said that if you eliminated coca in Colombia, the conflict would end, but I don’t think you can bankrupt the belligerents through eradication. That didn’t pan out. In some places, the government was able to diminish at least temporarily economic flows to particular elements of the FARC, but that was the result of military operations, not eradication,” she argued.

“A lot of people say the FARC have lost their political agenda, that they are just traffickers, but I don’t subscribe to that view,” said Felbab-Brown. “If someone wants to conduct a rebellion, they have to have a way to finance it. I don’t think the FARC is any different. One of the big accomplishments of the US and the Colombian military was taking out a lot of top FARC leaders,” she continued. “Their current leaders have been out in the jungle so long, they suffer from a lack of intellectual imagination. But the FARC are peasant guerrillas, with a few intellectuals and students, and they were never strong ideologically. There is no equivalent of Comrade Gonzalo [of Peru’s Shining Path] or Mullah Omar or Bin Laden for the FARC. And I think they’ve run out of ideas. Times have changed, and the ideological story they want to tell the world and their members is crumbling, but it’s not the case they are just interested in money. They still want power, they still believe in narratives of war and conquest, but they don’t have anything to frame it with anymore.”

“They are about more than just criminality,” agreed Isaacson. “They’re raising drug money to buy guns and those guns are for something. While their ideology may be pretty stunted at this point, they are driven by a desire to take power — unlike, say, the Sinaloa cartel, which is driven by a desire to sell drugs. They hate Colombia’s political class, and they represent that small percentage of peasants on the fringe. Those boomtowns on the frontier, that’s where the FARC’s base is. Wherever there is no government and people are on their own, the FARC claims to protect them. They are not bandits — they are more dangerous than bandits.”

The paramilitaries continue to wreak havoc, too, said Felbab-Brown. “They assassinate community leaders and human rights organizers,” she said. “In some areas, they collude with the FARC; in others, they fight the FARC over cocaine routes and access to coca production. They are still a real menace, and it is very discouraging that they have come back so quickly. That shows the failure of the Colombian government to address the real underlying causes of the problems.”

That has been a serious flaw from the beginning, the Brookings Institution analyst said. “At first Plan Colombia was aimed at root causes of conflict and coca production, but that was dropped, and in the Bush administration it morphed into a counternarcotics and counterinsurgency project. Economic development was a minor component of the plan, and the US never tried to pressure Uribe to take on economic redistribution and the distribution of political power, nor has the US been very vocal about human rights and civil liberties issues.”

“When Plan Colombia was first conceived, it was primarily a domestic program aimed at drawing in the Colombian population, which at that time had become totally disaffected from the state,” recalled Birns. “It was to emphasize economic development, nutrition, and education. It was the Clinton administration that militarized Plan Colombia and made it into a security doctrine rather than an economic development formula.”

That only deepened in the wake of 9/11, said Birns. “Increasingly, Plan Colombia morphed first into a counternarcotics program than again into an anti-terrorist vehicle. The US began to define the FARC, which never had any international aspect, as terrorists. It was a convenience for the US policy of intervention to emphasize the terrorism aspect.”

But at root, Plan Colombia was first and foremost about reducing Colombian coca and cocaine production. “It wasn’t sold here in the US as a counterinsurgency effort, but as an effort to reduce the supply of cocaine to the US market,” Cato’s Hidalgo pointed out. “If you look at the acreage of coca planted in Colombia, it has decreased, but the production of coca remains the same, and coca production is increasingly dramatically in Peru and Bolivia. Once again, we see the balloon effect at work.”

“As the reduction took place in Colombia, it simply moved back to Peru, whence it originally came,” concurred COHA’s Birns. “Peruvian cocaine production is now half the regional total, so total cocaine production remains essentially the same, even though there has been a reduction in the role Colombia plays.”

“One of the best measures to see if the supply of cocaine has decreased is to look at price, but what that tells us is that cocaine was 23% cheaper in 2007 than it was in 1998 when Plan Colombia was launched,” said Hidalgo. “It is clear that Plan Colombia has failed in its main goal, which was to reduce the supply of cocaine to the US market.”

“We’ve tried everything,” said Hidalgo. “Aggressive aerial spraying of fields, manual eradication, as well as softer measures to entice producers to adopt other crops, and it’s all failed. As long as the price of cocaine remains inflated by prohibition, there is big profit and a big incentive for producers and traffickers to grow the plant and export the product to the US and elsewhere. The only way to curtail this is by legalizing cocaine. Other than that, I don’t see this as a battle that can be won.”

Felbab-Brown called the coca and cocaine production estimates “extraordinarily squishy,” but added it was clear that Plan Colombia had failed to achieve its goals there. “The plan was supposed to halve production in six years, and that clearly was not accomplished,” she said. “It would be false to deny there has been some progress, but it has not been sufficient. I think it was bound not to work because it was so heavily focused on eradication in the context of violence and underemphasized the need for economic programs to address why people cultivate coca. And the larger reality is even if you succeeded in Colombia, production would have moved elsewhere.”

Counternarcotics cannot solve Colombia’s problems, said Felbab-Brown, because coca is not at the root of those problems. “There is only so much that counternarcotics programs can do given the basic economic and political situation in Colombia,” said Felbab-Brown. “You have a set-up where labor is heavily taxed and capital and land are lightly taxed, so even when you get economic growth, it doesn’t generate jobs, it only concentrates money in the hands of the rich. The Colombian government has been unwilling to address these issues, and inequality continues to grow. You can only do so much if you can’t generate legal jobs. You have to take on entrenched elites, the bases of political power in Colombia, and Uribe’s people are not interested in doing that.”

But Uribe will be gone next month, replaced by his elected successor, Juan Manuel Santos. That could mean change, said Isaacson. “He’s not as ideologically to the right as Uribe, some of his appointments indicate people who actually have an interest in governance, and he is the principle author of the program they’re carrying out in the countryside to get the state and not just the military out there,” he said. “He could also be more open to the idea of peace negotiations than Uribe was.”

That may or may not be the case, but Plan Colombia under whatever president is not going to solve Colombia’s drug problem — nor America’s, said Isaacson. “At home, we need to reduce demand through treatment and other options,” he said. “In Colombia, as long as you have parts of the country ungoverned and as long as members of the government have nothing to fear if they abuse the population, there will always be drugs. Colombia needs to build the state and do it without impunity. We built up the Colombian military, but there was no money for teachers, doctors, or any public good besides security.”

summary:
Ten years ago this week, President Bill Clinton signed off on the first $1.3 billion installment of Plan Colombia. A decade later, how is that working out? We ask the experts.

Incoming Colombian leader faces diplomatic minefield

[Uribe has just three weeks to embroil the region in war.]

Incoming Colombian leader faces diplomatic minefield

Source: Reuters
* President-elect Santos wants to improve regional ties* Departing Uribe keeps up broadsides against Chavez* Santos asks for dialogue with Venezuela, EcuadorBy Hugh BronsteinBOGOTA, July 16 (Reuters) – Outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe’s latest jab against neighbor Venezuela over leftist rebels is laying a diplomatic minefield for his successor Juan Manuel Santos, who takes office next month.Santos, set to be sworn in as Colombia’s head of state on Aug. 7, shares the same conservative policies as Uribe, but wants to smooth relations with Uribe’s long-time adversary, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez.In its latest anti-Chavez broadside, Uribe’s government on Thursday said it had proof of “continued and permanent tolerance” shown by Venezuela toward Colombian guerrillas who Bogota says were hiding in Venezuelan territory.Venezuela on Friday angrily rejected the charges and recalled its ambassador for consultations, calling the allegations an attempt to sabotage ongoing efforts to mend ties as Santos prepared to come in as president. [ID:nN16100086]”Santos wants to normalize relations with Venezuela and Uribe does not want him to,” said Bogota-based political analyst Ricardo Avila.”There is genuine tension between them over this issue right now. Until he leaves office on Aug. 7 you can expect Uribe to keep firing away at Chavez while Santos tries to tone down the rhetoric and look for conciliation,” Avila said.Relations between conservative Uribe and left-wing populist Chavez have broken down over the last year, with the two charismatic politicians hurling accusations at each other.Santos, a former defense minister, has called however for dialogue with Colombia’s neighbors. He is known as a pragmatist who wants to use diplomacy to pressure Venezuela into cracking down on rebel commanders who Colombian intelligence sources say are camped out in Venezuela’s jungles.He is also keen to speed up Colombia’s economic recovery by getting trade back on track with Venezuela. There was more than $7 billion in cross-border commerce last year when Chavez cut off bilateral trade.Departing President Uribe has based his political career on fighting the leftist rebels who killed his father in a botched kidnapping attempt decades ago.”It is evident that President Uribe is uncomfortable with the decisions that Juan Manuel Santos is making,” said Colombian analyst Claudia Lopez. “What we are seeing is a president who is not at all ready to be an ex-president.”Uribe also recently blasted the foreign policy of another neighbor, Ecuador, as “dumb” after the courts in that country issued arrest orders for Santos and a top Colombian military chief for their roles in the 2008 bombing by Colombian forces of a rebel camp in Ecuadorean territory.SANTOS FAVORS DIPLOMACYSantos appears to prefer a more diplomatic style.”If there’s no dialogue, how can we resolve these problems?” he said at a conference on Thursday.Uribe’s government backed a constitutional amendment that would have allowed him to run for a third four-year term in a last-ditch attempt to crush Colombia’s decades-old insurgency.But the proposed amendment was struck down by the courts, clearing the way for Santos to win the presidency on promises of sticking to Uribe’s basic policy framework.Both are close to the United States and their market-friendly stance is appreciated by investors who have been spooked out of Venezuela and other Latin American countries such as Ecuador that have elected leftist rulers.Last year, Chavez halted trade with Colombia to protest a deal between Washington and Bogota that allowed the United States to use Colombian air bases for anti-drug missions.Chavez says the deal could set the stage for an invasion of his oil-rich country.Uribe, popular for making Colombia’s cities and highways safer, has been a key impediment to Chavez’s goal of advancing a region-wide socialist “revolution” inspired by communist-ruled Cuba, a key ally of the Venezuelan leader.”Uribe has three more weeks in office and he’s not going to go quietly,” said Daniel Coronell, a columnist for Semana magazine who is often critical of the outgoing president.”Remember that Uribe wanted to stay in office another four years,” Coronell said. “He’s not happy about losing power.”For the moment, it appears that Chavez’s government is prepared to blame the latest tensions squarely on the departing Uribe, and give some benefit of the doubt to Santos.”We don’t want a conflict with anyone … we’ll see with the new president in Colombia, by his fruits he shall be known,” Chavez said this week. He said he did not know whether he would attend Santos’ swearing-in next month. (Additional reporting by Nelson Bocanegra: Editing by Pascal Fletcher and Vicki Allen)

“Operation Europe”–Columbian Secret Police Target European Critics, Call It “Legal War”

[Columbians claim leftists providing support to FARC, the same FARC that Columbian govt. claims is operating from Venezuela.  Those charges by the fascist American puppets have 46 American Navy ships backing them up.  How will the American hand support their bratty little proxy acting-up in Europe, as well?  One would think that American allies and so-called friends would tire of the snipey little covert wars waged upon them and turn away from the would-be global dictatorship.]

EU lawmakers urge probe of Colombian intelligence operations

EU parliamentarians have called on the Commission to look into Colombian intelligence operations in Europe designed to ‘neutralize the influence’ of critics of the Colombian government in parliament, the UNHCR and NGOs.

The call is supported by the head of the parliament’s human rights commission, Heidi Hautala, British socialist Richard Howitt and Green deputies Ulrike Lunacek and Barbara Lochbihler as well as the International Federation of Journalists and other NGOs.

The parliamentarians have also called on the Colombian government to give a full accounting of alleged illegal activity in Europe of the Department of Administrative Security (DAS), the Colombian agency charged with internal security.

“The Colombian government needs to clarify in what way the DAS acted against non-governmental or political organizations to influence and disqualify decisions made by the Human Rights Commission for the European Parliament,” Lochbihler and Hautala said in a statement on the eve of the EU’s signing of a free-trade agreement with Colombia.

Some parliamentarians believe that the EU is reluctant to publicly denounce the Colombian intelligence operations because of Colombia’s strategic importance as a Western ally on Venezuela’s border and its domestic fight against powerful drug traffickers. EU officials fear that an investigation could torpedo ratification of the free-trade agreement, which they see as crucial support of Colombia.

Parliamentarians and victims of the DAS operation believe that Belgium, which took over the EU Presidency from Spain on July 1, may be more inclined to investigate the issue because much of the illicit Colombian activity occurred in Brussels and  Belgian citizens and residents – including European Parliament Green faction legal advisor Paul-Emile Dupret, Patricia Verbauwhede of the Belgian Catholic charity Broderlijk Delen and Luis-Guillermo Perez, the Brussels-based Secretary-General of the International Federation for Human Rights – were targets of what DAS dubbed ‘Operation Europe.’

The operation aimed to discredit entities and persons critical of Colombia’s alleged abuse of human rights in its war on insurgents and drug traffickers through smear campaigns in the media and on the Internet and the establishment of fake NGOs in Europe. That’s according to Colombian court documents and critics, including Claudia Julieta Duque, a journalist who was forced to leave Colombia because of her coverage of government cooperation with right-wing paramilitary groups.

‘Operation Europe’

Pesident Alvaro UribeHow much did outgoing President Uribe know about the covert operations?

The documents became public in legal proceedings in Colombia against former DAS chief Jorge Noguera, who headed the 2002 election campaign of outgoing President Alvaro Uribe. Noguera is charged with overseeing the illegal wiretapping and surveillance in Colombia of judges, politicians, journalists, trade unionists and NGO activists as well as DAS’s foreign operations.

The documents refer to Operation Europe as ‘a legal war’ and describe DAS’s tactics as designed to neutralize “the destabilizing actions of NGOs in Colombia and the world.”

These tactics involved sowing controversy about and dissent within NGOs and opposition groups and faking links between critics of the government and illegal armed groups. They describe the fabrication of a guerrilla video featuring a Colombian journalist and requests to cancel his visa for travel abroad as well as false allegations of corruption and adultery, death threats and blackmail of critics of the government.

Alongside the European parliament and UNHCR, DAS also allegedly targeted among others Human Rights Watch, the Washington Office on Latin America, the Latin America Working Group, Peace Brigades International and Belgian NGO Oxfam Solidarity.

Human rights activist Perez reported to Belgian police last October the mysterious theft of three computers and a hard disk from his home in Hoeilaart in Belgium. In a meeting with NGOs in March in Brussels, newly-appointed DAS chief Felipe Munoz declined a request by Perez to see his DAS file.

An unidentified caller from Colombia advised Perez’s mother several weeks later, according to Belgian daily Le Soir, that “the Colombian president may be leaving (office) but we will always be here and we will always know how your children and their families conduct themselves.”

Claims and counter-claims

Dupret, the European parliament legal advisor, said he first encountered problems when in 2004 a website published a falsified note under his name suggesting that he supported the Revolutionary Army of Colombia (FARC), designated by the US and the EU as a terrorist organization. The note contained excerpts of a private mail sent from his parliamentary email. Dupret denies ever having had contact with FARC.

The note appeared shortly after he had been involved in a protest against a visit to Brussels by Uribe. Several months later, in transit at Miami airport en route from Caracas to Europe as part of a parliamentary delegation, Dupret was pulled aside by US officials and questioned for several hours about his ties to Colombia and articles he had written.

FARC rebelsThe DAS says its operations were aimed at investigating FARC’s influence in Europe

He has since been put on a US no-fly list. US authorities in September 2009 forced an Air France flight from Paris to Mexico to evade US air space because Dupret was on board. Dupret and others targeted by Operation Europe have taken their case to court in Brussels and are preparing to also file suit in Bogota.

Ecuadorian authorities are meanwhile investigating allegations of DAS wiretapping and interception of phone calls of senior Ecuadorian officials, including President Rafael Correa. Colombia has denied the charges. Colombia’s foreign ministry has also denied the illegal DAS activity in Europe.

“The information compiled by DAS, which is part of a file called ‘Europa,’ makes reference to data collected in 2004 and 2005 whose sources were published in the media and at public events. The collection of this information did not involve any kind of irregularity in intelligence material, nor any violation of the rights of European citizens,” the ministry said in a statement. Colombian officials said the file was created to determine what influence FARC may wield in Europe.

Government involvement?

Colombian prosecutors, however, charge that DAS’s wiretapping was sanctioned by senior government officials. Prosecutor Misael Rodriguez told a court hearing in April that the wiretapping “was directed from Casa de Narino,” the presidential palace.

In a report to the court, attorney general Guillermo Mendoza Diago detailed discussions in April 2008 between senior officials in Uribe’s office and DAS representatives about the illegal wiretapping operations.  The US Congress, in response to the charges, has prohibited US funding of DAS under the fiscal year 2010 foreign operations appropriations bill.

EU officials say an investigation could be counterproductive given Colombian statements that DAS may be disbanded. They also point to expected Colombian parliament approval of a new law drafted by Uribe that would reorganize DAS and put it under stricter supervision.

The MEPs as well as the DAS’s European targets and Colombian activists charge the draft law does not go far enough. In a statement, the Colombian Commission of Jurists, which according to the court documents was one of the NGO’s under DAS surveillance, said the law does not “establish adequate, effective and independent oversight of intelligence activities.”

Author: James M. Dorsey
Editor:  Rob Mudge

King of Kandahar on friends, enemies, and CIA rumours–CTV News

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King of Kandahar on friends, enemies, and CIA rumours

Ahmed Wali Karzai, brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, is pictured in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Oct. 21, 2009. (Jonathan Montpetit / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Janis Mackey Frayer, South Asia bureau chief, CTV News

Date: Sat. Jul. 17 2010 10:31 PM ET

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — The most powerful man in Kandahar is alone in his reception room with two mobile phones and a string of prayer beads pinched between his finger and thumb.

He rises to greet his visitors, shakes hands, and sits again with a slight sigh. He checks his very gold watch. Then, in keeping with some unspoken routine, Ahmed Wali Karzai begins a ritual discussion of weather and war as they both make Kandahar a harsh place this time of year.

“Mainly the Taliban want to have an address,” he explains from an armchair, “they want to show something this summer. To show they are still around. That is why there is a good need for a military operation.”

I ask him if the best way to beat an insurgency is to kill.

“You have to show muscles,” he says, with a fist pump. “You have to hit them hard, as hard as you can because they have no mercy for anyone.”

Karzai’s detractors might say the same of him. The indisputable don of Afghanistan’s hostile south, he has been called a lot of things: a drug profiteer, a thug, a warlord’s heavy who threatens critics (or worse). Karzai’s well-nurtured notoriety spawns a list of accusations that include paying off the Taliban to grease an empire built around convoys and private security with international contracts from countries like Canada.

There is also that business of the CIA and reports that Karzai, the younger half-brother of the country’s president, has been on the payroll for years in part to mount a U.S.-funded paramilitary force to kill Taliban.

Is any of it true?

“My problem is never a legal problem,” says Karzai. “It’s always a political problem … those international media, they are doing it for some political reason.”

In the assessment of one coalition official: “Nothing in Afghanistan is clean.”

Any attempt to reveal incriminating evidence against Ahmed Wali Karzai has so far failed. No government or intelligence agency has ever produced the smoking gun or least nobody has dared.

“There is always politics,” Karzai says of the accusations leveled against him.

“Everybody wants to be in front. Some people, they spread rumours, they stab you in the back.”

Karzai is a ‘fixer’. In Kandahar, that can mean a lot of things.

What has been proven over years is that real power in Afghanistan is less a function of government or public service than a spoil of private fiefdom. Guns, money, and control of foreign support are the true benchmarks. To that end, Ahmed Wali Karzai is unstoppable and NATO has no choice but to need him.

In diplomatic circles and among the military leadership here, the younger Karzai and his unanswered questions are distilled to the initials ‘AWK’ and words like ‘issue’ or ‘problem’.

“AWK is a concern,” sighed a diplomat, “but he is a fact of life.”

It is an open secret that the international community would like Hamid Karzai to rein him in. AWK is said to be a common worry of the U.S. president and other foreign sponsors whose countries bear the financial and human costs of the war.

Karzai the president dismisses any criticism of his brother as baseless, but at times does so at a cost to his own credibility.

“It is hard to listen to one and look at the other and be convinced of a virtuous leader,” a senior official told me. When most people are asked about AWK, their opinions are shared in hushed voices on the condition they will not be named.

Among Afghans, Ahmed Wali Karzai is regarded with complementary doses of respect and fear.

On the day I visit his home, men with long beards and hard stares sit quietly in the unofficial waiting room. Their shoes — I count 37 pairs — are parked neatly at the steps near the door. They wait with their concerns and needs on the blue-carpeted floor until fate might yield the chance to see him. Karzai is a ‘fixer’. In Kandahar, that can mean a lot of things.

“I’m very close to the people, the tribes,” says Karzai. “I earn it. I work hard… this is the major thing that I am doing is to keep these things… calm.”

The Karzai hold on Afghans is firm. His control of for-hire security businesses has effectively created a private army that has thwarted the growth of a viable Afghan National Police force.

While patrolling the muddy warrens of a Kandahar neighbourhood, Canadian soldiers walked past the funeral of a young man shot dead that day in the market.

Through an interpreter a group of male relatives said he was “killed by one of AWK’s men.” They told the story of armed security guards looking to settle a score, and that their cousin was hit with a stray bullet.

Will they go to police? No, it’s AWK, they said. They seemed shocked both by the suggestion they would utter a word and that police would actually listen.

Collaborating with Ahmed Wali Karzai is among NATO’s bigger gambles in the south. Yet now, more than ever, he is crucial to the mission if it hopes to win anything close to stability in Kandahar.

In a report titled ‘Politics and Power in Kandahar’, the Institute for the Study of War (www.understandingwar.org) concluded that, “Ahmed Wali Karzai’s influence over Kandahar is the central obstacle to any of ISAF’s governance objectives, and a consistent policy for dealing with him must be a central element of any new strategy.”

Its author, Carl Forsberg, went on to predict that Karzai’s behaviour and waning popularity among locals will only stir the sort of unrest and vacuum that allows space for the Taliban to exist.

Sources hint that Karzai and the need to remodel him form part of the reason why military operations slated for the summer are now effectively delayed until September.

There has been an off-the-cuff comparison to the prohibition era of 1930s America, where family cartels thrived on illicit trade and then looked to polish their image to the veneered appearance of legitimacy.

It is a trickier venture in Afghanistan. Yet it appears Ahmed Wali Karzai now sees himself as a dean of tribal dynamics and unofficial envoy to international players.

“We are winning,” Karzai says, with an emphasis on the inclusive. “Taliban is no longer a movement that can threaten the stability of Afghanistan. They can create problems. But I’m not worried sitting in Kandahar with my family that the Taliban will take over.”

(He claims nine assassination attempts against him in the past three years.)

In our interview that stretched nearly an hour, Karzai commended Canada for its efforts, and for bearing the challenges of serving in “the capital of Taliban and Al Qaeda.” He raves especially about Brig.-Gen. Jon Vance, who has returned as Commander of Canadian Forces for a few months.

“I really hope to see General Vance,” he says, “maybe he will come for lunch.”

I asked Karzai if 2011 was too early for Canadian troops to be leaving Afghanistan. He explained that with 30,000 American troops here now it is no longer the concern of numbers that it was in 2006. Still, he believes it sends the wrong message about commitment, and the Taliban benefits.

“It’s up to them,” Karzai says of Canada’s political decision-makers. “If they know the war is over they can leave. The war is still going on. War is still happening.”

According to some estimates, the war has meant a billion dollar commercial network for the Karzai family through businesses dealing in food, fuel, construction, and security. Canada has one of his firms on contract to guard the Dahla Dam project.

As for being a paid operative of the CIA, Karzai never flatly denies the allegation. He says he meets with everyone — Americans, British, Iranians, Pakistanis, Indians, Dutch.

“We are partners in this war, you know,” he says. “I didn’t sign a paper with a contract that I work for this agency or this person or this organization. I met with your Special Forces, I met with your military, I met with your generals. Can someone accuse me tomorrow that I was working for the Canadians?”

At the end of our discussion, Ahmed Wali Karzai wished us well. His next guests were already waiting on the couch. He checked his very gold watch and shifted his attention. We left Karzai’s villa, walking past the barefoot men still waiting, and returned to the weather and war that make Kandahar a harsh place this time of year.

This Week’s International Afghan Conference the Beginning of the End?

Exclusive: Official – Troops out of Afghanistan by 2014

A communiqué containing a blueprint for British troops to pull out from Afghanistan in four years’ time has been leaked ahead of a major international conference this week

By Jonathan Owen and Brian Brady

A helicopter door gunner looks out over Nimroz Province on the border with the volatile Helmand Province

A helicopter door gunner looks out over Nimroz Province on the border with the volatile Helmand Province

British troops are to pull out of Afghanistan by 2014, under a secret blueprint for drawing down coalition forces that is set to begin in a matter or months, it emerged last night. A leaked communiqué – a copy of which has been seen by The Independent on Sunday – reveals how President Hamid Karzai will announce the timetable for a “conditions-based and phased transition” at the International Conference on Afghanistan to be held in Kabul on Tuesday.

The meeting – which is set to map out the way ahead for the war-torn country – will be attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and foreign ministers from more 70 countries. An agreed version of the document, marked “not for circulation”, was sent to senior diplomats yesterday by Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations Special Representative in Afghanistan.

It states: “The international community expressed its support for the President of Afghanistan’s objective that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) should lead and conduct military operations in all provinces by the end of 2014.” This comes just weeks after Mr Hague hinted that British troops could leave by 2014, and is the first formal confirmation of the timescale that governments have been working towards behind the scenes to agree in recent months.

The communiqué goes on to pledge that the international community will continue to “provide the support necessary to increase security during this time, and the continued support in training, equipping and providing interim financing to the ANSF at every level to take on the task of securing their country”. It adds: “The government of Afghanistan and the international community agreed to jointly assess provinces, with the aim of announcing by the end of 2010 that the process of transition is under way.”

The announcement is one of many issues surrounding development and governance that will be addressed at the conference, as well as an $800m (£523m) five-year Afghan peace and reintegration programme that “aims to reintegrate in five years up to 36,000 ex-combatants and to reach 4,000 communities in 220 districts of 22 provinces”. The document also outlines short-term goals for coalition troops. These include combating the opium trade by maintaining the provinces that are currently free of drug cultivation, and increasing the number of poppy-free provinces in Afghanistan to 24 within 12 months. It also describes transparent elections in future as a matter of paramount importance.

President Karzai will tell delegates that the conference represents “a turning point” in Afghanistan’s “transition to an era of Afghan-led peace, justice and more equitable development”. He will also pledge that “expanding the day-to-day choices and capabilities of the Afghan people and ensuring their fundamental rights” will “remain the cornerstones of my government’s approach to peace-building and comprehensive recovery”.

A senior source in the British military confirmed yesterday that the blueprint was “a significant map laying out the stages on the way to withdrawal”. He said: “The British government has been talking in terms of a 2014 withdrawal, but nobody has been able to produce a timetable identifying how and when things would happen. This document demonstrates that there is a will in the international community to have it done by then.

“I cannot stress too much the importance of them having a strategy to do that. In the past, the international community has come up with dates by which they wanted something to happen, but because they had no plans to back them up, too many deadlines were allowed to slip.”

Colonel Bob Stewart, the former UN commander in Bosnia and now MP for Beckenham, said last night: “Whether we can actually get out before 2014 is a bit like asking how long is a piece of string. The aspiration is actually to be out by 2015 – if they can do it any quicker, the better. I understand why we went in, to neutralise that part of the world and the threat of attack. But I want us out as soon as possible, and so does the rest of the country.”

The new strategy came as it was reported that Britain is to divert hundreds of millions of pounds of aid away from other countries to help Afghanistan. The International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, is to boost aid to Afghanistan by 40 per cent, The Observer reported this weekend.

Four more British servicemen were killed in separate incidents in Afghanistan this weekend, the Ministry of Defence said yesterday. A member of the Royal Dragoon Guards and a soldier from the Royal Logistics Corps died in separate blasts in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand yesterday.

On Friday, an airman from the RAF Regiment died in a road accident near Camp Bastion in Helmand, and a marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines died in an explosion while on foot patrol in Sangin. Next of kin have been informed. The latest deaths, taking the total to 322, have added to a summer of escalating violence as Afghan and coalition forces step up patrols in the Taliban-dominated south in a push to take control of the traditional insurgent stronghold. Last month was the deadliest for coalition soldiers since the war began in 2001, with 103 killed.

The killing of three UK soldiers by a rogue Afghan recruit in Helmand on Tuesday highlighted the scale of the task of building up a local security force capable of maintaining security, and has raised tensions between coalition soldiers and their Afghan allies.

Success is by no means certain, with the strategic plan of creating an Afghan security force capable of taking over from coalition forces fraught with difficulty. Afghan police and soldiers have been infiltrated by the Taliban at senior levels, and the forces are plagued by corruption and drug addiction. Already this month, as the IoS revealed, the system for assessing them is so flawed that it has been scrapped, and a report by the US Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (Sigar) warned that Afghan assessments “have overstated operational capabilities”.

The Foreign Office confirmed that it was aware of the document but refused to comment last night.

Reko Diq–Balochistan’s Untapped Motherlode

‘Exploration at Reko Diq to start by 2014’

By Amar Guriro

KARACHI: The exploration at Reko Diq in Balochistan is expected to start by the year 2014.

Tethyan Copper Company (TCC) Public Relations Manager Samia Ali Shah said this in a detailed presentation on Reko Diq, at the one-day workshop, “Journalism for sustainable development: Tools and techniques for effective environment reporting” arranged by the Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD) Pakistan.

Shah said her company has completed all the basic requirements for exploration including the feasibility of the project.

The Australian copper exploration firm TCC has recently taken over the control of copper exploration site of Balochistan’s Reko Diq area located in the southwestern district of Chaghi, in collaboration with gold exploration company, Barrick Gold Corporation.

Shah disclosed that her company has so far spent $200 million on the project; however, the most important study for such mega projects, the environmental impact assessment (EIA) is yet to be completed. She added that Hagler Bailly Pakistan was carrying out the social and environmental impact assessment, while the public hearing would be held soon.

Talking about the details of the project, she said the Reko Diq field, according to an estimate, has total reserves of 5.9 billion tonnes, out of which 2.2 billion tonnes were of copper and 13 million ounces of gold.

On a question, she replied there were no hints for the presence of uranium in the area or near the site. She informed the company would establish a 700-kilometre long underground pipeline to pump powdered copper from the site to Gwadar port, from where the raw copper would be exported.

She said the company would prefer to provide employment to the locals, whereas after the start of exploration, the company would annually spend $10 million in the area for social uplift and development of community.

TCC EIA Manager Lucas Hekma said the project’s EIA would be completed very soon.

He said a road along the underground pipeline from the copper site to Gwadar would be constructed and it would be ensured that no any archaeological site, farmland or human settlements were affected.

LEAD-Pakistan Programme Development Department Manager Afia Salam and others also spoke on the occasion.

18 Shia Killed While Under Army Escort–No Soldiers Killed

Killing of Shias: FIR should be registered against Saudi embassy and the ISI

By Omar Khattab

On 17 July a convoy of Shias was attacked by the Taliban who used rockets and automatic weapons and cut down killing 18 including women and children.

The most significant part of the attack is not the murder of the Shias, which has become a routine in Pakistan. The point to consider is that the Shia convoy was being escorted by the personnel of the Pakistan army led by a colonel. The fact: 18 Shias killed and scores injured, but not an army person even slightly injured. Isn’t it surprising?

The Shia holocaust of Pakistan started under the martial rule of the Army, which facilitated the entry of the Wahabi ideology in Pakistan by taking billions of petrodollars by way of bribe. Since then the notorious ISI has raised evils like the Sipa-e-Sihaba, the Lal Masjid, and Lashkar-e-Tayyaba. All these organizations have in their manifestos the apostatizing of the Shias. Their leaders regularly visit Saudi Arabia and the Saudi embassy in Islamabad. They, just like the ISI officers, are flush with petrodollars. The ISI and the Saudi embassy in Islamabad have been involved in the Shia holocaust (and the coming genocide of the Brevlis).

The leaders of the Shia community should register an FIR against the Saudi embassy and its executor, the ISI.

Pakistan’s print-electronic media blacks out the killing of 18 Shias

Pakistan’s print-electronic media blacks out the killing of 18 Shias

By Omar Khattab

On 17 July a convoy of Shias left Peshawar for their hometown Parachinar. On the way near Charkhel, they were attacked by the Taliban. The Taliban used rockets and automatic weapons killing 18 including women and children Scores were injured, some seriously.
Pakistan’s newspapers and dozens of channels only referred to “militants’ attack on a convoy”. After a coupe of hours the news disappeared from the channels, and the following day (18 July) the newspapers only briefly mentioned the attack. The honorable exception was Daily Times which gave the following headline: “Militants kill 18 Shias in Kurram convoy attack.”
Parachinar has been facing a blockade by the Taliban for the past decade, but no newspaper or TV channel has carried out an investigation into why the Shias of Parachinar have been reduced to live like scavengers. The Shias of Pakistan are Pakistani nationals, but in order to buy basic provisions or to travel in-land or abroad, they have to go to Afghanistan because they cannot travel from Parachinar as the Taliban have been occupying all the strategic points which connect Parachinar to the rest of Pakistan.

All this why, the Pakistan Army which is supposed to defend not just the borders of Pakistan, but also the internal and ideological frontiers, has not acted to save and safeguard it own citizens. This is because flushed with Saudi petrodollars the Army officers have abdicated their professional, legal, and constitutional duties and are busy enriching themselves and their families. Media too has been flooded by Saudi money. You just look at the lifestyle of a pro-Saudi and Pro-Taliban (one and the same thing), and you will be surprised to how rich they are. The likes of Ansar Abbasi, Javed Chaudhry, Irfan Siddiqqi, and Hamid Mir) live like mafia dons. What good can be expected from them?

At the cost of their professional integrity, the Pakistani media has sold out to Wahabism. Let the Islamic Republic of Pakistan be cleansed of the Shias, Ahmedis, Christians, and Brevlis.

Yet Another Sipah Attack Upon a Convoy Of Shia Travelling To Parichinaar

Taliban attack convoy in Kurram agency, killing 18

In an ambush attack on a private convoy of vehicles in Kurram agency, 18 people have been killed. The convoy was under military escort, headed to Peshawar from Parachinar on the route that had previously been declared cleared of militants by the military.

From BBC:

A suspected sectarian attack on a civilian convoy in a troubled tribal area of Pakistan has left 16 dead.

Several other people were wounded in the ambush in the north west, where the army has carried out operations against Islamist militants.

The convoy, which was being escorted by security forces, was attacked in Char Khel village in the Kurram region.

All those killed were Shia Muslims, according to local officials, who said the death toll may rise.

The convoy was heading from Parachinar, in Kurram, to the main regional city of Peshawar when it was ambushed on Saturday in the predominantly Sunni region.

Earlier on July 11 there was another attack on a bus carrying travelers from Kurram who were on their way to Peshawar via Kabul. Some readers of Pakistani news would probably not even know why these poor travelers had to travel to Peshawar via Kabul. The reason is that the Taliban of Kurram Agency have for the last 3 years blockaded the main road from Parachinar to Peshawar and the rest of the world. Isn’t it amazing that such a Gaza-like situation exists in Pakistan and yet Pakistan’s media does not care to discuss this issue in any detail.

Recently on July 6 the local commander of the security forces Colonel Tausif Akhtar made the claim to local and international reporters that 80% of Kurram agency has been cleared of militants. See also this article which states that normalcy is returning to Kurram Agency. In fact Colonel Tausif Akhtar even went so far as to say that there were only about 2 dozen militants left in Kurram. The locals interviewed by a journalist from Reuters were slightly more skeptical in their assessment:

Kurram civilians also complain.

“We cannot travel on the road without an escort from the Kurram Militia, because there are many dangers on the road,” said Haji Kamal Hussain, president of the Parachinar Traders’ Welfare Union.

The Kurram Militia is part of paramilitary Frontier Corps force and largely made up of local people.

All this makes the military watchful and even a bit jumpy.

Soldiers conspicuously eavesdropped on the comments of a local columnist as he chose each of his words carefully, an overt display of control usually more subtle in other parts of Pakistan.

“They will not let me say anything,” said Azmat Ali Khan, a local journalist, referring to the nearby soldiers.

In summary, while it is certainly good news that the Thal Parachinar road has been reopened as the military says, there is a long way to go before Kurram agency is safe as evidenced by these two latest attacks. In the meantime, we should not forget that the citizens of Kurram agency are facing a humanitarian crisis a fact largely ignored by the Pakistani media. Here is a local reporter’s account:

Zulfiqar Ali, a resident of the area who works as a reporter in Peshawar, says the deadly incident makes it even less likely that Kurram residents will travel the alternative Afghan route.

Ali was among a delegation of journalists who visited Kurram on a trip sponsored by Pakistan’s military. He says that he witnessed local residents suffering from lack of food and medicine. “People in [the Kurram town of] Sadda looked like they [were] prisoners,” Ali says.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders said in a recent report that it has become extremely difficult to provide relief to the sick in Kurram. It noted that medical supplies are becoming increasingly scarce and even hospitals have been attacked.

Pakistan’s military sends food and medicines twice a month. However, locals say that is not sufficient for the area’s more than half a million inhabitants.

Sipah-e-Sahaba Is KKK Of Pakistan

[The fact that these meetings can take place and places like Muridke HQ can operate freely helps to prove to the world that Pakistan really IS the epicenter of terrorism.  Pakistanis who want to be free must unite against this state-supported terrorism.]

300 Sipa-e-Sihaba scoundrels call Punjab government’s bluff


17 July 2010
By Omar Khattab in Lahore

Everyone know that the Punjab’s government’s “action” against the terrorists in the backdrop of the Data Sahib bombing is as bogus as the Pak Fauj’s action against the Taliban in the Northern Areas including Swat. The following is just one small example:

Narang Mandi is not very far from Muridke where the headquarters of the internationally known terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Tayyaba is located. There used to be a Shia mosque there along with a number of Brelvi, Deobandi, and Wahabi mosques. In the 1990s during Nawaz Shairf’s first stint as prime minister, the Shias were forced to close down their mosque because the Deobandi-Wahabi terrorists, all affiliated to PML-N. Since then Narang Mandi has been an anti-Shia hate centre. Sipa-e-Sihaba and Lakhar-e-Jhangvi leaders along with PML-N leaders have been frequent visitors to Narang Mandi terrorizing the tiny Shia population there. The Shia persecution there has been a business-as-usual just like in other parts of the country.

After the Data Sahib suicide bombing the PML-N decided to “arrest” some common Deobandi/Wahabi operators (but never high profile leaders). On Friday, 16 July (yesterday) the Deobandi/Wahabi imams poured venom against the Shias of Pakistan and called the government for declaring them kaffirs. They also congratulated Jundullah for carrying out “successful jihad” against the Irani “Kaffirs”. They were referring to the Jundullah attack on a Shia mosque in Iran in which over 30 worshipers were killed. In the late night the police raided homes of four imams and locked them up. In the morning the news of their arrest spread in Narang Mandi and soon supply of supporters arrived from Muridke and Gujranwala. Around 300 slogan-shouting Sipa-e-Sihaba scoundrels blocked the road and threatened to burn down the police station. Interestingly, they were led by PML-N local leaders. Within two hours the imams were released. People brought them to the town square on their shoulders shouting “Shia Kaffir!” and “Nawaz Shairf Zindabad”. Mullah Bashir declared that he would redouble his efforts to have the Shias apostatized.

Baloch and Pashtun Nationalists Stand Together In Peshawar Over Balochistan’s Sorrow

Baloch Nationalists Leaders mourned in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

A condolence reference was held in Peshawar Press Club for the Baloch leaders Habib Jalib Baloch Secretary General BNP and Maula Bakhsh Dashti of Natinal Party who were mercilessly assassinated in Balochistan few days ago.  The reference was arranged by the National Party Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province which is led by Said Mukhtar Bacha Advocate. Rahat Malik a well known political figure from Balochistan and a central leader of National party was the chief guest on this occasion. The reference was also participated by the leaders and workers of different political parties and representatives of the civil society organizations.

Rahat Malik was thankful to all the participants for organizing such a reference and showed their solidarity and sympathies with Baloch nation. The assassination of Baloch leaders Habib Jalib, Secretary General of Balochsitan National party, former Senator, and Supreme Court lawyer, and Maula Bakhsh Dashi National Party central leader and former Nazim reflect the genocidal mindset of State authorities in Pakistan. This brutal act is clearly pushing Baloch moderates and progressives voices to the wall, and endorsed the claims of Baloch militant organizations that Islamabad doesn’t recognize the Baloch rights on their soil. If Pakistani Sate or other has not spared the Leader like Habib Jalib how they would be treating rest of the population. This act is highly cowardice and condemnable but it can’t stop Baloch people from seeking their rights. Violence always begets violence. If it is done by the forces within Baloch it is also condemnable. It is also condemnable that Baloch Sepratest are killing innocet Pakhtuns and Settlers in Baloch area.

Dr. Said Alam Mehsud, a Pashtun nationalist and a central leader of Amn Tehrik said that killing of political leaders and activists is the worst of crimes and such negative step and we all political people should come together to foil such conspiracies. The Pakistani establishment is very cruel and its negative and anti human tactics can never be successful. Such killings will create a new spirit among the workers who will start the national work with greater enthusiasm. The movements can not be eliminated with either killing or frightening.

Said Mukhtar Bacha Advocate eulogized the services of the Habib Jalib and Dashti. He said that they laid down their lives for protecting the national cause of Baloch nation. He also demanded for the arrest of the killers and an exemplary punishment as per law of the land. He also said that Pakistani establishment is very strong and its force is used against its people. This establishment has also teased the entire world. We do not understand the philosophy behind it if there is any. All political forces should get united to protect them and their people interests. He also said that people like Habib Jalib and Dashti are born once in centuries.

Arbab Muhammad Tahir of ANP said: we strongly condemn the assassination of the political leaders of Baloch National Movement. Killing and assassination can not be used to solve a problem. Pashtun are also facing menace of terrorism and our leaders Arbab Sikandar Khan Khalil and Dr. Khan Sahib were also killed.

Shamim Shahid President Peshawar Press Club said that those who had killed Dr. Najibullah Khan, Abdul Ahad Karzai. Khan Abdul samad Khan Achakzai, Sardar Nauroz Khan, Nawab Akbar Bugti and other Pashtun leaders they also killed the Baloch leadrs.Only in Waziristan several hundreds Pashtun Mashran were ruthlessly killed. Faridullah Khan, Mirza Alam Khan, Malik Khandad etc were the prominent among them who were killed by the terrorists in target killing. FATA is being burnt and terrorists have taken its control. The ongoing war is for capturing the resources and it has no relation with the religion.

Arbab Mujeeb of PMAP on this occasion said that they strongly condemn the killing of Baloch by the cruel hands of Pakistani cruel and ruthless establishment. We are with Baloch nation in their hour of the trial and tribulation.

Ameer Khan General Secretary Pakhtun Democratic Council condemned the killing of Baloch political leadership saying that killing of political leadership is a custom in Pakistan but establishment should not do it as without political people whom they would talk to. This is inhuman and a negative act which Pakistani establishment has been doing. He also urged upon the people to force the establishment to stop meddling in affairs of the others countries like Afghanistan and India. Afghanistan is home of the Pakhtun and Pakhtun are not ready to see it unstable and weak. We love to see a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan. The establishment of Pakistan will have to change its foreign policy against Afghanistan.

Idrees Kamal of National Party said that we strongly condemns this brutal act of barbarism and demand arrest of the killers. He said that all Political parties and forces should get united to wage a war against the wrong doings of this country. We need to get together and create an atmosphere of love, tolerance and patience. He also lauded the services of the assassinated Baloch leaders.

Ijaz  Durrani a representative of the civil society organizations and a close friend of the slain Baloch leaders said that those who work for the promotion of peace in region and support the national cause then they are killed which is astonishing for us all.

Engineer Haider Zaman a progressive political worker said all democratic, progressive and nationalist people and parties should get united on one plate form and to save the rights of our people.

On this occasion Asad Afridi Advocate said that assassination of political people is condemnable and Baloch and Pashtun can foil the conspiracy of anti people and anti democratic forces. We condemn the killing of  baloch leadership.

CourtesyAmn Tehreek (Peace Movement)

Is Anybody Listening? Both Iran and Pakistan Blame Foreign Hand In Baloch Attacks

[There is only one country rich enough and powerful enough to attempt the  military takeover of Balochistan, especially a Balochistan embroiled in a manufactured civil war.  The Empire wants Balochs to wage war against Pashtuns and Punjabis.  You are all being played for fools.  The smart thing to do would be to open your eyes and remove the blinders of hatred which limit your ability to see to the side.  They hide their evil handiwork in your peripheral vision.]

The Iranian revolutionary guards started an indiscriminate anti Baluch crackdown

on 2010/7/18 2:10:00 (24 reads)
ccupied BalochistanZadedan: In the aftermath of two suicide bomb attacks in the capital city of West Balochistan, Zahedan, the Iranian revolutionary guards have started an indiscriminate anti Baluch crackdown. Reports pouring from Zahedan indicate that the Iranian security forces have started to arrest Baluch people on random basis; many Baluch houses and business centers have been set ablaze. Three members of Baluchistan parliament resigned saying that due to Iranian federal government’s wrong and suppressive polices the situation in Baluchistan is getting out of their control.

According to open sources after the suicide bomb attack on two Shite Mosque situated in the city of Zahedan unknown arsonists set ablaze several shops owned by Baloch dwellers. At least one Baluch mini market reportedly has been completely burnt to ashes. It has been reported that the Iranian security forces have arrested several Baluch in and around Zahedan and Sarawan.

Independent sources also reported that a Baluch funeral ceremony was first attacked by the Zabolis but soon the Iranian security person reached, pretending to calm the situation, but they arrested most the Baluch participants of the funeral and not a single Zaboli was arrested.

The three member of parliament who quit their seats belonged to Zahidan and Zabil and have been named, Mr Hussain Ali Sheryari, Mr Paiman Firzosh & Abbas Ali Noora has resigned, Mr Hussain Ali Sheryari has criticizing the policies of the central government and stated that ethnic and religious tension in Baluchistan (Iranian occupied) was on the rise due government’s wrong polices. He said that the central government instead the religious and ethnic issues of the Baluch have chosen to use brutal force against them and now the situation in Baluchistan are getting out of hand.

It is worth noting that Iran like Pakistan keeps on blaming that foreign hands are behind Baluchistan unrest. Whereas regional experts on Baluchistan believe that such allegations are just to cover the failure of Iranian and Pakistani central governments who failed to address and resolve Baluchistan issue peacefully.

Life Returns to Normal in Balochistan

The Baloch Hal News

QUETTA: Trading activities have resumed in Balochistan Saturday after 3 days of shutter down and wheel jam strike but the educational institutions still remained closed for the fourth consecutive day.

Balochistan National Party Mengal had given the strike call of three days and 40 days of mourning following the assassination of its General Secretary and former Senator Habib Jalib who was gunned down by unknown armed assailants on Wednesday.

After the three days of successful and organized shutter down strike which was backed by all political parties, lawyers’ organizations and trade unions, business activities in Balochistan have resumed as main markets, trade centers and shops at Liaqat Bazaar, Jinnah road, Prince road, Abul Satar road and other areas were remained opened with sufficient number of consumers.

According to the reports pouring from other parts of the province, the business activities have returned to routine in interior Balochistan as well.

However, classes in schools, colleges and universities did not take place as education department in the backdrop of Habib Jalib assassination had announced three days of their closure. The educational institutions are expected to resume on Monday.

Stringent security measures were in place with Police backed by Frontier Corps continued patrolling on the roads, besides an additional contingent of LEAs personnel was also deployed at sensitive points to avoid unpleasant incident.

Words Of Calm From the Next Man On Baloch Target List

The Baloch Hal News

QUETTA: The central president of Balochistan National Party Sardar Akhtar Mengal has taken serious exception of the poisonous statements of what he billed as  some Anjumans and teenagers on the martyrdom of Habib Jalib, the party’s secretary general, saying that his party would not change its policy on the wish of “immature people”.

Talking to newsmen on phone, he asked the youth —who are asking his party to demand independence of Balochistan by joining the ongoing armed struggle—to keep their views with themselves and refrain from interfering into the politics and policies of the others. “We will not seek dictations from any one: It should be loud and clear. Thus, they should mind their own business,” Sardar Akhtar Mengal said in plain words. He said that the BNP was an established political party and its popularity had been proved which should be an eye-opener to all concerned.

The BNP President said that the immature young men were not aware of democratic norms and had never remained under the discipline of the poor and ordinary people in an organized party and thus they had no right to dictate the populist and democratic party of BNP.

Sardar Mengal was of the opinion that the Pakistani Establishment had always retained power and others had no power and influence on decision-making. Late Habib Jalib and his political colleagues always tried to prevail upon the rulers and the establishment to mend their ways improving governance in the country. Instead of listening and implementing his advice, he was targeted and killed, he added.

“Bengalis understood the message after the first military operation and Balochs failed to understand it even after the sixth operations,” Sardar Akhtar Mengal admitted. He said that the establishment had made the common people target in Balochistan and now the leadership was being made the target for killing because the leadership had taken up the issue of Balochistan in the international forums.

Sardar Akhtar Mengal referred to the famous statement of General ® Pervez Musharraf threatening that we will hit them (Baloch leaders) and they could not know from where they had been hit and the same policy is continuing.

The BNP leader said he did not know where the secret agencies were taking the country and which direction. He said our relations with the establishment had never been good. “We are mourning the death of our colleague then and now,” Sardar Mengal opined. He said he had no expectations from the secret agencies. However, he said he had never refused to hold talks at any stage of political development. He clarified that his party boycotted the proceedings of the past committees of the previous government when he came to know the real intention of the government at the top as the establishment was trying to pollute the political atmosphere.

He reiterated his party’s stand on right of self determination. He said his stand was the same in 2007. No one had objected at that time, he added. He said others have no right to dictate us to change our party policy.

“We are a sovereign political party and not the paid employees of any individuals,” Sardar Mengal told his party critics in plain words.

Eleven escape as Taliban attacks aid Afghan jailbreak

KABUL, Afghanistan – The Associated Press

A smuggled bomb exploded at a western Afghan prison just as Taliban fighters staged coordinated attacks on four police checkpoints early Sunday, allowing 11 inmates – including suspected insurgents – to escape, officials said.

A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the brazen jailbreak in Farah province, saying it had freed insurgent comrades being held there. A guard died in the prison blast and one inmate was shot and killed while fleeing. One police officer was wounded.

The blast appeared coordinated with armed insurgent attacks on four police checkpoints on the outskirts of Farah city, provincial police chief Gen. Mohammad Faqir Askir. “Of course this is the work of the Taliban,” Askir said. “We think that the militants were trying to keep authorities busy with the attacks on the checkpoints while the explosion happened.”

He said there was no armed attack on the prison, only the explosion.

The prison blast came shortly after 2 a.m., destroying a gate and allowing 23 prisoners to run out of the building, Farah province’s deputy governor Yonus Rasouli said. One prisoner died and three were wounded when guards opened fire on the fleeing prisoners. Eight other inmates were recaptured, but 11 escaped.

Clinton heads to Asia for Afghan talks as U.S. fears grow

[Hillary has the thankless job of convincing the world that the sky is not falling.  Idiotic American leaders have built their House of War on a foundation of shifting sands and the inevitable crumbling of that corrupt Empire has begun.]

Clinton heads to Asia for Afghan talks as U.S. fears grow

By Haraz N. Ghanbari, AP
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to South Asia in an effort to refine the goals of the war in Afghanistan amid increasing skepticism among U.S. lawmakers.
WASHINGTON (AP) — As concerns grow about the war in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is heading to South Asia on a mission aimed at refining the goals of the nearly 9-year-old conflict.

U.S. lawmakers are increasingly questioning the course of the war. The number of soldiers from the U.S. and other countries in the international coalition in Afghanistan is on the rise. Corruption is a deep problem in Afghanistan, and members of Congress wonder about the utility of massive aid to both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Clinton will attend an international conference in Kabul on Tuesday where the Afghan government is expected to outline plans to improve security, reintegrate militants into society and crack down on corruption. She also plans to stop in Pakistan to push greater cooperation between Islamabadand Kabul.

Erasing the Alleged “Success” Of the Marjah Surge In Afghanistan.

[This is a Taliban demonstration of what will take place in Afghanistan after the Western forces withdraw.  It is delusional  to claim otherwise, a calculated lie, meant to twist the American minds further, so that We the People might continue allowing this criminal war to go on.  There can be no American victory in Afghanistan, without eliminating all the fighting age men, who will most definitely continue the armed struggle against the occupation.  American leaders cannot choose the total genocide option in Afghanistan, without destroying the carefully cultivated image of America–“benefactor of mankind.”]

Taliban hit Afghan police posts; free 23 prisoners

A U.S. marine patrols in a village in Golestan district, Farah province May 10, 2009. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

A U.S. marine patrols in a village in Golestan district, Farah province May 10, 2009. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

HERAT | Sun Jul 18, 2010 1:50am EDT

Afghanistan (Reuters) – Taliban guerrillas staged a series of raids in western Afghanistan Sunday, blowing up the gate of a jail and freeing 23 insurgent prisoners, officials said.

Ousted in a U.S.-led invasion in 2001, the Taliban have made a comeback in recent years, dealing heavy losses to Afghan and foreign forces and carrying out brazen attacks on key locations, including in the capital.

Insurgents attacked four police posts leading to the center of Farah town early Sunday, said Mohammad Younus Rasooli, the governor of western Farah province, bordering Iran.

“They kept the police preoccupied and the same time blew up the gate of Farah’s jail, which resulted in the escape of 23 prisoners,” Rasooli told Reuters by phone.

Four of the inmates were immediately arrested because they had suffered wounds in the escape, he said, adding seven more were captured.

A policeman was killed during the incident, which lasted several hours, he said.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Qari Mohammad Yousuf, confirmed that members of the movement were behind the attacks.

(Reporting by Sharafuddin Sharafyar; writing by Sayed Salahuddin; Editing by David Fox)

Iran blames West, Israel for bombings despite condemnation

Iran blames West, Israel for bombings despite condemnation

Iranian women comfort a mourner during the mass funeral of those killed in twin suicide bombings in Zahedan.

TEHRAN: Iran blamed the West and Israel on Saturday for twin suicide bombings which killed at least 27 people, despite condemnation of the attack by the European Union, United Nations and United States.

Police meanwhile said security forces killed six “criminals” on Friday in Sistan-Baluchestan province where the bombings occurred and arrested 40 people for “creating disturbances” in the provincial capital of Zahedan.

“This blind terrorist act was carried out by the mercenaries of the world arrogance (the Western powers),” state television’s website quoted Deputy Interior Minister Ali Abdollahi as saying about Thursday night’s bombings.

“The agents of this crime were trained and equipped beyond our borders and then came into Iran,” Abdollahi said.

Influential lawmaker Alaeddin Borujerdi went a step further and pointed the finger at Pakistan’s intelligence services which he said “have ties with the terrorists,” Fars news agency quoted him as saying.

“The terrorists enter Iran from neighbouring countries and Pakistan, and so the Pakistani government and its army intelligence must revise their ties with them and do something to confront these criminals.”

Sunni militant group Jundallah claimed responsibility for the bombings which targeted members of the elite Revolutionary Guards at a Shiite mosque in Zahedan.

It said the attacks were to avenge the execution of their leader Abdolmalek Rigi on June 20.

Jundallah claims it is fighting for the rights of Baluchis who make up a significant proportion of the population of Sistan-Baluchestan province and who, unlike Iran’s Shiite majority, mainly follow the Sunni branch of Islam.

The province borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and analysts says Jundallah has exploited the unrest in the region to find safe haven on the frontier.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani directly accused the United States for the bombings.

“Today, the country is mourning the tragic explosion in Zahedan which was done with the backing of Americans. Americans can’t come up with any excuse since they are connected with the Rigi group,” he said, quoted on the website.

Crowds of mourners gathered outside Zahedan’s Jamia mosque, where the bombers struck, to take part in a mass funeral for the victims of the attacks.

“Those who committed these terrorist acts are neither Shiite nor Sunni,” read one banner carried by the mourners, while crowds chanted: “Death to terrorists,” the official IRNA news agency reported.

Six “criminals” were killed on Friday in three different incidents which occurred in the border areas of Sistan-Baluchestan, Iran’s deputy police chief Ahmad Reza Radan told ISNA news agency.

He said clashes broke out as security forces blocked various roads in the province but he did not specify if the six were connected to Thursday’s bombings.

The deputy police chief also said that police had arrested 40 people in Zahedan for “creating disturbances” in the city after the bombings.

Tehran has long charged that Washington has provided support to the Rigi group as part of efforts to destabilise the Islamic regime by fomenting unrest among ethnic minorities in sensitive border areas.

US President Barack Obama condemned the “outrageous terrorist attacks,” while UN chief Ban Ki-moon blasted a “senseless act of terrorism” and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said they were “cowardly” attacks.

Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar pointed the finger at Israel, Iran’s arch-foe.

“The terrorist act by the Zionists had a number of objectives, including creating division between Shiites and Sunnis,” the ISNA news agency quoted Najjar as saying.

He said Iran’s security and intelligence services now had “a grip on the situation.”

But MP Abbas Ali Noora from Sistan-Baluchestan resigned in protest at the handling of security in the province, saying such an attack was expected after the execution of Rigi.

“The culture of this region is of revenge. After Rigi’s execution, we had warned that this group would retaliate,” he told ILNA news agency.

– AFP/de

Stop The War – Pakistan’s Coalition Of Conscience

Stop The War – Pakistan’s Coalition Of Conscience

THE COALITION OF CONSCIENCE

‘STOP THE WAR’

CHARTER OF DEMANDS

Adopted In Islamabad

Sunday, 18 July 2010

At The National Press

Timed For Release With The Arrival Of

US Secretary of State In Pakistan

WE, THE PEOPLE OF PAKISTAN, progeny of the Great Nara (Sarasvati), Indus, Gandhara and Muslim Civilizations that predate all civilizations of the world; and a bastion of knowledge since antiquity; and those who have withstood all imperial adventures,

Having evolved a civilization founded on acceptance of higher values of civilized life, respect for others’ rights, culture of giving not taking, and imbibing an ideology of submission to God’s will, with the firmest of beliefs and faith in our abilities to discern the correct civilization path to a better tomorrow,

Disturbed and aghast at the policies being pursued by the oldest and nascent democracies; overtaken by the imperialist, expansionist and exploitative mindset; concerned that democracy is fast becoming the domain of the highest bidders; political-military and industrial complexes, financial cartels and believers of the doomsday scenarios,

Saddened at the gross violations of human rights defined in the Magna Carta, Bill of Rights of the American Founding Fathers and UN Resolutions, an infringement on the values of cultures, Faith in God that reflects separate standards and values; liberal for self and barbaric for others inherently leading to conflict,

Cognizant that silence is acceptance and complicity in the murder of the innocent; considering such militarized preemptions a violation by the governments on the largest suffering class of the poor in Pakistan, Afghanistan and all coalition countries fighting in Afghanistan.

Spiritually disturbed, because all faiths propagate peace, forgiveness and a quest for truth; rightfully asserting that all those who resort to violence and murder of innocent blatantly violate the universal common values of humanity,

Desiring that political and religious leaders in all our nations lead the way to peace for humanity, to stand united as equals, to save mankind and our planet from extinction.

Appealing to the international and national conscience to stand up and declare that ‘enough is enough’ because, civilizations, cultures and ideologies cannot be bombed out of the minds,

We, the Coalition of Conscience demand, that this, illegal, unjust, and inhuman war be stopped through the collective power of human resilience and conscience the world over.

CHARTER OF DEMANDS

1. The foreign presence in Afghanistan and Pakistan is part of the problem rather than the solution;

The coalition Governments must immediately order a cessation of all military operations and sting operations in the region and allow peace to be negotiated.

2. Al-Qaeda is a convenient tool to blanket all opposition to US policies in the region and impose unilateral policies;

All efforts to use this pretext to prolong the presence in the region and to pursue an international agenda other than peace must cease.

3.     Ongoing coalition operations have a fragmenting effect on both Pakistan and Afghanistan;

All coalition operations with divisive effects must be stopped.

4. The entire spectrum of violence and instability in Pakistan is a backwash from Afghanistan created by the presence of foreign forces. Support to insurgent and terrorist groups in FATA and Balochistan originate from Afghanistan. If this is not stopped, the instability will spread to other regions as well;

We demand the Government of Pakistan to make its own independent policies to ensure peace and development in the region; the mother of all civilizations.

5. Afghan movement is led by leaders who are indigenous to Afghanistan and legitimate representatives of resistance to foreign occupation;

These leaders must be treated as party to peace and brought into a comprehensive dialogue process as reflected in Pak-Afghan Jirga of 2007.

6. Failing a clear timetable from the coalition for the cessation of war;

The Government of Pakistan will be urged to exercise this nation’s legitimate right to secure its interests against all hostile bases inside Afghanistan, supporting and funding terrorism and insurgency in Pakistan.

7. In order to ensure long term stability and prosperity in the region;

The Government of Pakistan must carry forward the inconclusive negotiations of 1996 and assist all Afghans (Resistance and Northern Alliance) to mediate peace. We welcome support from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and China with no covert agendas.

8. It is not Pakistan’s responsibility to ensure logistics for coalition forces in Afghanistan knowing well that much of it is used to destabilize and terrorize Pakistanis;

This support must stop unless approved by UN and conducted under transparent international safeguards and inspections.

9. Gross violations and exercise of human rights on selective bases are widely documented;

All Pakistani prisoners kept by coalition countries, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in illegal detention centers must be brought back immediately and subjected to Pakistani courts.

10. Rendition centers, trials under duress and extra judicial killings including drones and blanket air strikes violate basic human rights;

War reparations and criminal trials of coalition leaders who have knowingly falsified evidence in support of war before their own people; their Parliaments; and before the UN Security Council must be brought before Law. All Pakistani leaders guilty of same must be tried under Pakistan laws.

These are the ten screams of conscience. Let them travel far and wide through the resonance of people’s will and be understood and acted upon with speed, honesty, and conviction. We wish a better and secure future for all nations of the world.

The founder members of THE COALITION OF CONSCIENCE are:

Pakistan Ex Servicemen Association

Christian Study Center, Rawalpindi, Pakistan

Society for Advancement of Health and Education (SAHEE)

KBS Welfare

Good Governance Forum

Pakistan Overseas League

Defense of Human Rights

And signatory Citizens

All Civil Society Organizations and Individuals world over are invited to join and raise their voice for the future of mankind.

Oil pipeline explodes, burns for 15 hours in China

[Sabotage, warning, or simply an accident at critical oil off-loading facility?]

Oil pipeline explodes, burns for 15 hours in China

 

By Cai Yongjun, AP

Firefighters arrive at the oil pipeline blast site in Dalian, a port city in northeast China’s Liaoning province. Blasts hit two oil pipelines Friday.

 

BEIJING (AP) — An oil pipeline at a busy Chinese port exploded, causing a massive fire that burned for 15 hours before being put out Saturday. Officials said no one was killed.

State-run media said the pipeline blew up Friday evening, and more than 2,000 firefighters worked overnight to control flames and further blasts on a second pipeline.

China Central Television showed the fire raging among tanks at the port in the northern city of Dalian, and state media described flames of about 100 feet (30 meters) high.

The cause of the initial blast was not clear. The Xinhua News Agency said it happened while a Liberian tanker was unloading oil at the port. It said the tanker left safely.

A vast stretch of polluted sea remains the next challenge. About 20 boats were trying to clean up a dark brown slick of oil and pollution at least 50 square kilometers (19 square miles) in size off Dalian’s Xingang Harbor, Xinhua said Saturday night.

The pipelines are owned by China National Petroleum Corp., which is Asia’s biggest oil and gas producer by volume.

The state-owned company did not immediately comment. Phones at its Beijing headquarters rang unanswered, and while the company website showed updates Saturday, there was no mention of the fire.

Dalian’s secretary general Xu Guochen told a news conference Saturday morning that firefighters had turned off valves on all oil tanks at the site.

Xu said the flames gave off gas containing sulfur and aromatic hydrocarbon that were not fatally toxic, Xinhua reported. Xu did not take questions.

Environmental protection officials told China National Radio that the scene remained unsafe because of chemicals in the air. Dalian’s downtown was thick with smog.

China National Radio said officials were considering the evacuation of about 600 homes nearby.

Telephones at the offices of the Dalian city government, the city’s Communist Party propaganda department and the city firefighting team rang unanswered.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

China port city cleans up pollution belt after fire

China port city cleans up pollution belt after fire

English.news.cn 

A dark brown belt of crude oil and other pollution is seen in seawaters off Dalian’s Xingang Harbor, July 17, 2010. (Xinhua/Ren Yong)

DALIAN, July 17 (Xinhua) — Maritime workers in Dalian, a coastal city in northeast China’s Liaoning Province, are still cleaning up a pollution belt at sea after fire was put out at an oil pipeline.

A dark brown belt of crude oil and other pollution stretches at least 50 square kilometers in seawaters off Dalian’s Xingang Harbor.

About 20 vessels were cleaning the pollution Saturday, including four patrol boats from the provincial maritime bureau.

Large quantity of oil spill dispersant and absorption felt have been shipped in from Tianjin and the eastern Shandong Province, maritime officials said.

Fire engulfed the harbor Friday evening, after a blast hit an oil pipeline and triggered an adjacent pipeline to explode. Flames raged for 15 hours before they were extinguished Saturday morning. No casualties were caused.

"I heard a bang and felt as if someone had pushed me hard," said Chen Zhigang, an officer with Dalian border police who witnessed the accident. "For a moment I thought there was an earthquake."

The accident aroused the attention of China’s top leadership, prompting instructions from President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang rushed to the fire site Friday night to direct the rescue work.

A dark brown belt of crude oil and other pollution is seen in seawaters off Dalian’s Xingang Harbor, July 17, 2010. (Xinhua/Ren Yong)

The cause of the accident is still under investigation.

China’s Central Television said the explosion happened when a 300,000-tonne Liberian tanker was unloading oil at the harbor. It said the tanker, carrying 27 sailors, left safely.

The pipelines were links between oil ships and oil tanks on land.

Dalian’s downtown areas were overshadowed by smog Saturday. The environment authorities said hydrocarbon density was high within a radius of 1.2 km from the fire site.

There is no inhabitant within 3 kilometers from the site, but about 600 families live within 4 km.