The Egyptian Mob Begins To Make Demands of New “Government”

Egypt crisis: Protests switch to demands on pay

The BBC’s Lyse Doucet finds hope, tension and a mistrust of the media among Egyptians calling for a new start

Fresh protests and strikes have flared in Egypt as demonstrators demand better pay and conditions from the country’s new military rulers.

Bank, transport and tourism workers all demonstrated in Cairo after 18 days of protests succeeded in removing President Hosni Mubarak.

In a TV statement, the military urged all Egyptians to go back to work.

Earlier, Cairo’s Tahrir Square was cleared of protesters but hundreds soon returned, joined by disgruntled police.

Hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes police marched to Tahrir Square, shouting: “We and the people are one” and vowing to “honour the martyrs of the revolution”.

They said they had been forced to act against their wishes in using force on protesters early in the anti-government demonstrations.

But they are detested by many ordinary Egyptians, says the BBC’s Jon Leyne in Cairo, and repairing relations will take time and hard work.

Most of the thousands of protesters in the square had left on Sunday after welcoming the announcement by the new ruling military council that it would dissolve parliament and suspend the constitution.

‘Honour the martyrs’

As the day unfolded, strikes and protests were held outside a string of government offices and at workplaces, eventually prompting a televised statement from Egypt’s military rulers.

Statement on Egyptian state TVPlease turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play.

The military has urged all Egyptians to go back to work

The best guarantee of a smooth transition to civilian rule would be if all Egyptians went back to work, the military said.

Strikes and disputes would “damage the security of the country”, the army’s ruling high council said.

Separately, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said he had agreed to a request from Egypt to freeze the assets of several former Egyptian officials.

Our correspondent in Cairo says there appears to be a whole series of mini-revolutions going on in the wake of the removal of Mr Mubarak.

The big challenge now facing the military rulers may be staving off a wave of strikes, he says.

The military had to instruct banks to remain closed on Monday following the strike threats.

The Egyptian stock exchange has also postponed its reopening until Sunday at the earliest.

Hundreds of bank employees protested on Monday outside a branch of the Bank of Alexandria in central Cairo, calling for their managers to resign.

Hundreds of public transport workers took part in a demonstration outside the state TV and radio building, calling for better pay.

One protester, Ahmed Ali, told the Reuters news agency: “The big people steal and the little people get nothing.”

Many employees blame bosses for what they consider to be huge earnings gaps in companies.

Ambulance drivers parked 70 of their emergency vehicles along a riverside road in a pay protest. Police also protested, massing outside the interior ministry complaining about their pay and working conditions.

Near the Great Pyramids, some 150 tourism industry workers also demanded higher wages.

The tourism sector, which accounts for 6% of GDP and is in its peak season, has been badly hit by the anti-government demonstrations.

Strikes and protests at other state-owned firms across Egypt have hit the postal, media, textile and steel industries.

There are reports the military is planning to prevent meetings by labour unions or professional organisations, effectively banning strikes.

‘Sincere desire’

On Sunday, a statement from the higher military council was read out on state TV, saying it would suspend the constitution and set up a committee to draft a new one, which would then be put to a popular referendum.

Military statement

  • Constitution suspended
  • Council to hold power for six months or until elections
  • Both houses of parliament dissolved
  • Council to issue laws during interim period
  • Committee set up to reform constitution and set rules for referendum
  • Caretaker PM Ahmed Shafiq’s cabinet to continue work until new cabinet formed
  • Council to hold presidential and parliamentary elections
  • All international treaties to be honoured

During the transition, the cabinet appointed by Mr Mubarak last month will go on governing, submitting legislation to the army chiefs for approval.

The opposition’s Ayman Nour described the military leadership’s steps as a “victory for the revolution”.

Key activist Wael Ghonim added that there had been an encouraging meeting between the military and youth representatives on Sunday and spoke of a “sincere desire to protect the gains of the revolution”.

“[The military] said they will go after corrupt people no matter what their position current or previous,” Mr Ghonim reported.

Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu will meet the visiting chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm Mike Mullen, on Monday to discuss the Egyptian situation.

Adm Mullen arrived in Israel after meeting King Abdullah of Jordan, which has also been hit by protests in recent weeks.

Pakistanis plan a break with the US

Pakistanis plan a break with the US

Asif Ali Zardari.Pakistan prapares for possible break-up with USA

Pakistan has experience with US sanctions. It has faced them for over three decades. In 1998 in the aftermath of the Bharati Nuclear Test (carried out with the full cognizance and encouragement f the Clinton Administration) politicians inIslamabad sat down and figured out the alternatives when faced with possible dilapidating sanctions against Pakistan. A plan was chalked out and the Nawaz Shairf Government looking at all the alternatives, and then forged ahead with a reciprocal response to the Pokran at Chaghai. Pakistan was slapped with dilapidating sanctions which lasted a decade ’till 911 when the US once again needed Pakistan to fight its battle in Afghanistan.

The same is happening now.

The US aid to Pakistan totals $1.5 billion per year which amounts to less than 3% of the Pakistani GDP. Belt tightening would resolve part of the issue. The fallout from the stoppage of the Kerry Lugar Bill would impact the IMF and the World Bank, both institutions run by the USA. Washington would then begin to put the squeeze on other donors to make sure that they did not help Islamabad.

Despite these difficulties, the government in Islamabad, often considered compliant and obsequious is looking at all alternatives. This confirms the reports that the PPP government is incapable of releasing Mr. “Rayond Davis” even if it really did want to. The fiasco as it has unfolded in Lahore has truly placed President Zardari’s government between a rock and a hard place. The case is in the hands of the judiciary.

As anyone who has not been living in the cave knows, the judiciary of Chaudhry Iftikhar Cahudhry will not tolerate any interference in his courts. The resignation of Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, as well as the publication of documentation proving that Mr. “Raymond Davis” was on a Business Visa has complicated matters beyond what diplomats in Washington recognize. The fact that this happened in Mozang Chungi– the heart of Lahore didn’t make it easier for either the US Consulate or the PPP government.

Plan “B” failed because the “Patriotic son of Pakistan” refused to forge the Foreign Ministry Ledger (which would have retroactively placed “Davis’s” name on the listing as a diplomat”). The Court now has the original documents so Mr. Davis cannot be included in a list of diplomats. Furthermore Mr. Qureshi is now a hostile witness and is not showing restraint or silence in his comments. He has clearly informed the people that he refused to forge the documents. Mr. Qureshi is an elected politicians, and one who has a constituency in Multan. He is not a country bumpkin that fell off the turnip truck. He is intelligent, suave, well respected int he PPP and was actually considers for the position of the Prime Minister. Mr.Quresh a PPP stalwart has followed the path taken by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto when he disagreed with Ayub Khan at Tashkent and tendered his resignation.

If the murders had happened in Sindh or Islamabad it would have been easier for the PPP to smooth things over. This incident happened in Lahore, the capital of the Punjab, where the Chief Minister belongs to the PMLN. Mr. Shairf’s government is playing hardball and threatened a motion of no confidence against the PPP if it releases “Raymond Davis”. The PLMN can back it up. All other parties would be hard pressed not to support the constitutional overthrown of the government

There is a deeper concern in Pakistan. After a deluge of Wikileaks and President Obama’s rhetoric in Pakistan, there is a genuine feeling in Islamabad that many of the ‘consultants” are actually saboteurs who go around blowing up things in Pakistan. There is almost universals consensus that these mercenaries have to be stopped from doing their dirty chores in Pakistan and that Washington has to understand that Blackwater/Xe/Hyperion killers cannot run amok in Pakistan. Bharati papers have reported and some US papers have validated the stories that the incident in Lahore was a bit deeper than what was portrayed at first. According to some reports, the Mr. “Raymond Davis” was under surveillance and had crossed a red line. He was in an area which was a “No-Go” area. Already declared a Persona Non Grata (PNG) in Khyber Pakhtukhawa, the co-owner of Hyperion Consulting was not liked in Pakistan. After the PNG status he was supposed to have left Pakistan–and he did. However US Ambassador to Pakistan (aka Pakistani Ambassador to USA) Mr. Hussain Haqqani was instrumental in getting 500 visas approved in one day without the proper background checks. Mr. Davis apparently slipped back into Pakistan. The pictures in his possession reveal that he was photographing sensitive Pakistani targets.

According to press reports, Mr “Davis” was apparently being trailed by ISI agents. Mr. Davis killed his pursuers in cold blood, made a movie about it and then called the Consulate for assistance in making his escape. On previous occasions, other “consultants” have been able to intimidate the local authorities and get away with murder. Several scuffles have taken place, but the matter has been hushed up without escalation. This time luck was not on the side of Mr. “Davis”. The Pakistanis were ready and prepared. Because he was being followed, backups were able to reach the scene of the crime and arrest the murderer.

The US Consulate’s role in this matter was very suspicious. Instead of assisting the local authorities, it engineered a fake story about the motor-cyclists being professional thieves. The fake robbery story did not fly with the government of Pakistan, because it knew the backgrounds of the agents who were following Mr. “Davis”. The intensity with which the US Consulate reacted, and the depth of the threats that emanated from Washington clearly informed the Pakistanis that something big was up–and this could not be ignored.

It is obvious that the establishment is demanding the immediate deportation of all these so called “consultants”. An unplanned and sudden change in travel plans of Mr. Rajiv Shah,  the US Agency’s Administrator Rajiv Shah to Pakistan may have sent alarm bells in Islamabad.. Faced with being thrown out of power by the PLMN and other parties, President Zardari is now chairing a Round Table Conference (RTC) of all political parties to deal with the situation. Raw emotions are at fever pitch. The government will not be able to withstand tsunami in the aftermost of a clean release of Mr. “Raymond Davis”.

The government egged on by the PLMN, the religious parties, and the Army, feels that by tightening belts, and securing alternative sources, Islamabad can whether the storm. As such the following action plan has been prepared to deal with the crisis and possible cut-off of funds from the US.

  • Prime Minister Gilani will be visiting the Sate of Kuwait that is starting today (Monday). This would be followed by the visit of President Asif Ali Zardari.
  • The Presidency and Foreign Office are actively busy finalizing the visit of President Zardari to Japan with special focus on securing more economic assistance.
  • China, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have already been contacted about the situation.
  • Much to American chagrin, Iran is a untapped resource for Pakistan and Tehran would gladly step into the vacuum.

While the US has backed off from some of the crass threats, it is a fact that the Trilateral meeting has been postponed. Washington may have realized that a heavy dose of threats could shut-off the supply-chain at a time that the US is planning a withdrawal from Afghanistan. Surely a cut-off of relations with Islamabad would impact the schedule–which in term could impact the next American Presidential  elections. “At this point of time, there is no such talk in the United States,” Acting Spokesperson of the US Embassy Courteny Beale told The Nation.

Since the major chunk of the US civilian assistance under the KLA programme is disbursed through the USAID, further gives credence to the notions that US was already working on plans to use aid as critical leverage against Pakistan.

Apart from the $1.5 billion from the Kerry Lugar Bill, the government also fears that the IMF funding of 3.2 Billion may be cut-off.

The ruling coalition is thus planning its new budget for the year 2011-12 without US assistance.

Russian reaction restrained and cautious

Russian reaction restrained and cautious

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN

The wreckage of a car destroyed in a suicide car attack is seen in Vladikavkaz, North Caucasus, on Sept. 9, 2010. Russia’s reaction to the unrest in Egypt was prompted by concerns that the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa could lead to the radicalisation of the region.
AP  The wreckage of a car destroyed in a suicide car attack is seen in Vladikavkaz, North Caucasus, on Sept. 9, 2010. Russia’s reaction to the unrest in Egypt was prompted by concerns that the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa could lead to the radicalisation of the region.

In contrast to many other nations, Russia reacted with extreme discretion and caution to the turmoil in Egypt. Following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, President Dmitry Medvedev said Egypt should hold legitimate elections and respect religious rights. In the first official reaction, the Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement asking Egyptians not to resort to violence and to strengthen democratic structures. The Kremlin earlier warned outside powers — presumably the United States — against wading into the crisis with “ultimatums.”

Moscow’s restraint was prompted, among other things, by concerns that the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East and North Africa could lead to the radicalisation of the region — a major source of militants and money for Islamic insurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

It took Russia a decade of bloody war to curb separatism in Chechnya, but militancy in North Caucasus has been on the rise again sending deadly ripples across Russia. Three weeks ago, a suicide bomb attack on Russia’s largest Domodedovo Airport in Moscow killed 36 and wounded 180 people. It was the second attack in the Russian capital in less than a year. In March 2010, two “black widows” blew themselves up in the Moscow metro within minutes of each other killing 40 and wounding 80 people. Notorious Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov claimed responsibility for both attacks. In a video posted on a rebel website, he vowed to make 2011 a “year of blood and tears” for Russia and carry out attacks “monthly and weekly.”

In recent years, the low-intensity insurgency has spread from Chechnya to neighbouring territories in North Caucasus and undergone a transformation from a nationalist and separatist movement to pure jihadist movement that feeds on the radical strains of Islam.

In 2007, Umarov dissolved the self-proclaimed separatist “Chechen Republic of Ichkerya” and announced the establishment of a “Caucasus Emirate” appointing himself the “Emir of Caucasian Mujahidin.” Umarov embraced global jihad, pledging to fight a jihad against not only Russia but also the United States, Britain and Israel. “Our brothers are fighting today in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somali and Palestine,” Umarov said. “Everybody who attacks Muslims wherever they are will be our common enemy.”

It was a dramatic change of strategy. While separatist rebellion in the Caucasus has a long tradition dating back to the 18th century, religious extremism was never its driving force.

Historically, North Caucasus has been dominated by moderate Sufi Islam. However when the war broke out in Chechnya, Arab preachers and militants financed with Saudi money streamed into the region bringing with them the fundamentalist Wahabbi/Salafi strain of Islam. The seeds of radical Islamism sowed by Arab jihadists and Arab money have now sprouted across North Caucasus, which is the most depressed and corruption-ridden region in Russia. Unemployment among the young is as high as 80 per cent. Corruption is absolute. Millions of dollars poured into the region under federal programmes to uplift the local economy are stolen on a regular basis. “Official” muftis have discredited themselves by endorsing corrupt authorities. All this provides fertile soil for Islamic radicalism.

“Jihadisation” of the rebel movement helped Umarov take his war of terror from Chechnya, which has been largely pacified under the iron rule of former militant Ramzan Kadyrov, to neighbouring Muslim regions under the banner of radical Islam. The strategy paid off. Umarov reinvented the concept of a multiethnic Islamic state in the Caucasus that was popular during Russia’s wars for control of the region in the 19th century. The “Caucasus Emirate” united militant groups, jamaats, operating in the region’s ethnically defined Muslim autonomies — Dagestan, Ingushetia, Karachevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Adygeya.

Terrorist activity in North Caucasus has sharply increased since the establishment of the virtual “Caucasus Emirate.” In 2010, for example, the region saw a fourfold rise in terror attacks, according to Russia’s Prosecutor General Office. Terrorists staged more than 900 attacks in North Caucasus last year, killing and wounding about 800 police and military personnel as well as hundreds of civilians.

“Russia is facing a far higher terrorist threat than Israel,” says Major General (retd.) Vladimir Ovchinsky, former head of the Interpol office in Russia. “In Israel, the warring sides are divided by a wall, whereas in Russia there is no fence between North Caucasus and the rest of the country.”

Foreign militants, predominantly Arab natives trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, have been active in North Caucasus since the early days of the Chechen war. Last year alone, the Russian security services killed two al-Qaeda emissaries in Umarov’s entourage — Mohmad Mohamad Shabaan and Abu Haled, both of Arab origin. More Arab militants were killed in Chechnya in the earlier years, including Khattab, Abu Walid, Abu Dzeit and Abu Omar Safs.

“The Caucasus Emirate is a branch of the al-Qaeda and part of its project of setting up a global caliphate,” says Dr. Alexander Ignatenko, president, Institute of Religion and Politics. There are strong fears in Russia that foreign support for insurgency in North Caucasus may grow if radical Islamic groups, such as the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, gain power in Egypt and other Arab countries. “There are no guarantees the radicals will not come to power in Egypt and Yemen,” warns Konstantin Kosachyov, head of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian Parliament. “This, in turn, could have destabilising consequences for the situation in a much broader region.” The rise of radical Islamists “is a threat to the entire region’s security that can resonate in the Caucasus and even Tatarstan [a Muslim region in central Russia],” echoes Viktor Kremenyuk, deputy head of the U.S.A. and Canada Institute.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, or al-Ikhwan al-Muslimun, has long renounced violence and its leaders deny they ever provided any financial or other assistance to rebels in North Caucasus. However, Russian security services believe that the Muslim Brotherhood has long-standing links with Russian Islamists and has funnelled millions of dollars to Chechen separatists through various charity foundations, such as the now defunct al-Haramain Islamic Foundation based in Saudi Arabia. The charges were recently confirmed by a U.S. court. In September 2010, the Oregon Court convicted the al-Haramain co-founder Sedaghaty for smuggling out $150,000 to Chechen rebels in 2000. (Al-Haramain, registered in Oregon, was investigated for suspected involvement in the 9/11 attacks.)

In 2003, Russia’s Supreme Court banned the Muslim Brotherhood along with its more radical splinters like al-Gama’s al-Islamiyya and Egyptian Islamic Jihad, 12 other Islamist groups for their role in promoting extremism in Russia. The court accused the Muslim Brotherhood of pursuing “armed jihad without any territorial bounds” in the name of “re-creating the Great Islamic Khalifat in predominantly Muslim territories, including Russia and other former Soviet countries.”

“Russian regions with majority Muslim populations, especially North Caucausus, are very much on the radar screens of the Muslim Brotherhood,” attests Elena Suponina, a Russian expert on the Arab world.

The influx of Arab militants to North Caucasus has recently thinned out, partly thanks to the efforts of the Russian security services, but also thanks to Moscow’s success in establishing dialogue and understanding with the Arab world. The Egyptian government led the way in controlling the illegal flow of young militants to Russia and cutting off the links between Russian Muslim students at Egyptian universities and local radicals. The main credit for this turnaround goes to Egypt’s intelligence service chief Omar Suleiman, appointed Vice-President after the start of the unrest.

However, “destabilisation in the Middle East could bring a new wave of jihadists to North Caucasus,” warns Ms Suponina. This would be a nightmarish scenario for Moscow as it struggles to curb terrorism that may pose a grave threat to major international sports events Russia is set to host — the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, next to the violence-hit North Caucasus, and the 2018 World Football Cup, which will be held in a range of cities from Kaliningrad to the Ural Mountains. The suicide bombing in the international arrivals of the Domodedovo airport that killed several foreigners may be an indication that Russian jihadists are also gearing up for the approaching world games.

Juma Namangani, IMU–October 08, 2001

In The Hot Zone

October 08, 2001

He’s never given an interview. Few images of him exist. His most detailed biography fits comfortably on a single page. And he moves like a wraith through one of the world’s most inaccessible regions. His name is Juma Namangani, and he is the leader of what was, until a few days ago, a little-known Islamist guerrilla group in a remote part of Central Asia. Now, in the wake of the devastating attacks on New York and Washington, Namangani and his men have become prominent targets in the war on terrorism. Last week President George W. Bush announced that he was adding Namangani’s group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), to a financial hit list of 27 terrorist organizations and individuals allied with Osama bin Laden. Bush declared that all assets controlled by the groups in question would be frozen or confiscated. “Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations,” Bush said. “Today, we’re asking the world to stop payment.”

Of course, the IMU operates in a part of the world that gets by just fine without bank accounts. Few of its members have ever seen an ATM. In fact, the group gains most of its income from its involvement in the huge regional trade in Afghan heroin. And that’s only one of the ways in which the decidedly low-tech IMU illustrates how difficult it will be for the United States and its allies to try to “drain the swamp” of terrorism in Central Asia.

The IMU presents a target as shadowy and fearsome as its leader. The forces under Namangani’s command are small–no more than 2,000 fighters–their political program is vague, and the measure of their popular support hotly disputed. Yet over the past two years the IMU has managed to set the entire region on edge. Namangani’s professed goal: to carry a Taliban-style Islamic revolution deep into the heart of formerly Soviet Central Asia, to the republics of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The countries are soft targets for insurrection. Their economies are beset by poverty, unemployment and dwindling water resources–all cause for tension in a part of the world where ethnic and religious divides are never far from the surface. And Namangani’s main target–the populous Ferghana Valley, an isolated basin shared by all three republics–has traditionally been a center of religious fervor.

The key to the IMU’s successes, though, can be found to the south, in the equally forbidding landscape of Afghanistan. Namangani fought as a paratrooper with the Soviets during the 1980s Afghan war. He returned to Afghanistan in 1993 a changed man, radicalized by harsh crackdowns on Muslims in his native Uzbekistan. That was when he made the acquaintance of Saudi millionaire Osama bin Laden, who offered financing and contacts in the world of extremist Islam. After Namangani and his partner Takhir Yuldash formed the IMU in 1998, bin Laden offered the group refuge and support behind Taliban lines. “There is a direct link between them,” Kyrgyz national-security adviser Bolot Januzakov told NEWSWEEK last year. “Bin Laden is one of the basic sources of his financing.” Earlier this year bin Laden named Namangani one of his deputies and gave him command over a unit fighting on the Taliban’s side in Afghanistan’s civil war.

Both men are hard-line fundamentalists bitterly opposed to the United States, Russia, Israel–and moderate Muslims. Aleksei Malashenko, a Central Asia expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Moscow, agrees that bin Laden provides the IMU with some direct financial support. But more important, his backing lends Namangani “a higher profile,” which has enabled him to attract support from others. Sources in the region agree. Once approved by bin Laden, groups like the IMU have an easier time obtaining money and other assistance from well-wishers in places like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. The Taliban has allowed the IMU to maintain training camps near the northern town of Kunduz. Kyrgyz authorities believe that Pakistani intelligence officials have worked directly with Namangani’s troops.

Namangani is said to have raised additional money the old-fashioned way–through drug trafficking. Until the Taliban banned poppy production earlier this year, some 70 percent of the world’s heroin originated in Afghanistan, most of it streaming through the Central Asian republics on its way to Russia or Western Europe. In cities like Osh, in the Kyrgyz part of the Ferghana Valley, locals trade stories of fabulous wealth generated by the burgeoning drug trade–much of which, say experts, is now in the hands of warlords like Namangani. “The analytical challenge with the IMU is to figure out which strain–Islamic fundamentalism or the drug trade–will win out in the end,” says Frank Cilluffo, an expert on crime and terrorism at Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

Either way, the flow of funds has bought the IMU high-powered American sniper rifles, lightweight Motorola walkie-talkies, night-vision goggles–and staying power. Namangani, born Jumabai Khojiev (he took his nom de guerre from his hometown of Namangan, in the Uzbek third of the Ferghana Valley), originally conceived of the IMU while fighting in the civil war in neighboring Tajikistan between communists and militant Islamists. His nemesis: Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov, who once vowed to stop the movement by “shooting its leaders in the head.” (Last November an Uzbek court sentenced IMU leaders Namangani and Yuldash to death in absentia.) For years the former communist apparatchik Karimov has brutally suppressed real and presumed dissidents, including countless Islamic activists. “The IMU want to get the man who put thousands of their comrades and family members behind barbed wire,” says a foreign diplomat based in the region, referring to the Uzbek leader.

Since early 1999 Namangani has been strong enough to make real trouble for Karimov. That year the IMU was blamed for a series of car bombings that killed 16 people in Tashkent. Last summer the IMU launched a wide-ranging guerrilla campaign inside Uzbekistan. At the same time, operating from mountain hideouts in Tajikistan, IMU forces raided Kyrgyzstan for the second year in a row. On a raid in the summer of 1999, IMU fighters took four Japanese geologists hostage and then pulled in a reported $5 million ransom for their release. A year later, after Namangani’s men kidnapped four American mountain climbers in Kyrgyzstan and held them for six days before the hostages managed to escape, the U.S. State Department added the IMU to its list of terrorist organizations. This year an expected summer offensive never materialized only because, experts say, Namangani’s forces were enlisted in the Taliban’s struggle against their enemies within Afghanistan.

The IMU fighters pose a threat to U.S. forces, too, if they enter the region. The governments of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have offered military bases for the use of American warplanes and troops–one reason Bush may have chosen to single out the IMU for mention in his address to a joint session of Congress. But it remains to be seen just how secure Americans will be there if IMU guerrillas can operate as freely in the area as they have managed to in the past. Last week, in a move little noticed by a wider world preparing for American military action, the Taliban threatened Uzbekistan with a jihad in retaliation for the country’s support of U.S. military plans. If those threats are ever carried out, it’s almost certain that Juma Namangani will be the man to lead the attack.

Raymond Davis Affair: Deeper than you think–and profound repercussions

[The following article, if true, is an excellent analysis of the "Davis" affair (ignoring the author's expected pride in ISI superiority).  It is always true that the ISI knows much more than it has been revealing about the true American relationship to Pakistani terror groups.  Is this case a true turning point in the relationship; has the ISI finally had enough and stands ready to defend itself by exposing the CIA hand, even if that implicates them in the process?

Pakistan's only possible defense has always been to reveal the CIA hand, even if the ISI is holding that hand.

The ISI's "Islamists" (the militants and mercenaries trained to fight in the "name of Islam" for the US missions), are America's excuse for invasion.  The ISI, and therefore Pakistan, have been set-up as an American "patsies," guided all along to take the fall whenever the great war against Islam got underway.  Persuaded to accept the American/Afghan "poison pill," in the person of Abdullah Mehsud and his group of IMU fighters (SEE: The American War on Wana ), the ISI has simply watched the unfolding of an American psyop called the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP).  The Army dared not eliminate this American guerrilla force or expose it to the international press up till now, but even Pakistan has limits to what it is willing to take.

Let us hope that this case represents a real turning point in the sado-masochistic Pakistani/American relationship and not just another missed opportunity for Pakistan to be free.]

Raymond Davis Affair:  Deeper than you think–and profound repercussions

Obama Taliban

‘Davis’ is the missing link to US support for ‘TTP’ terror in Pakistan

Undoubtedly this is the biggest scandal in US Foreign relations since the US was shot down by the Soviets in the sixties. Then, as now, both sides played out the drama in an iterative manner–neither side letting the other know how much they know.

There are clear indications that there is much more to the “Raymond Davis” affair than thePakistanis are letting on. THis isn’t about murder and diplomatic immunity. This is mush bigger. Something is very wrong with this picture, and Islamabad is tight lipped because it now has concrete evidence that Mr “Raymond Davis” is linked with the Tehrik e Taliban e Pakistan (TTP) and some of the terror activities that have been happening in Pakistan. The Pakistanis are not stupid. Americans stick out like sore thumbs in Pakistan. When they go running around in their black SUVs laced with Satellite equipment they are tracked, traced and followed. In a cat and mouse game, the contractors can sometimes shake their “tails”. On other occasions they cannot. In fact the ISI gives them enough rope to hang themselves with. In this case, it seems Mr. Davis fell into a trap and his situation is now fully compromised. In panic Mr. “Davis” used the Nuclear option and killed the two Pakistanis who were trailing him–knowing full well that killing Pakistani spies or those who knew his identity would blow up in this face. He doesn’t have to say much–the equipment he carried tells a long and bloody story. All this is irrefutable evidence in a Pakistani court of law. The Pakistanis have already released the pictures of the equipment and the evidence that they have gathered. Of course they are still holding on to the juiciest details.

The US has postponed the Afghan-Pakistan-US Trilateral meeting, dropped hints about postponing the date of Mr. Zardari’s visit to the US, and floated all sorts of other threats. Normally Islamabad would have been cognizant of the the problems of spoiling its relationship with the sole Superpower. However the smirking Pakistanis are so confident in the validity of their cause, that they are letting the US escalate the issue.

Pakistan has ignored some of the US pressure and has not buckled under intense US pressure. Both General Kayani and Former Foreign Minister Mahmood Qureshi were not very impressed by US posturing. In fact right after their threatening phone calls and messages Islamabad formally charged Davis with pre-meditated murder in the Lahore High Court. The Court promptly remanded Mr. “Davis” to prison for another 14 days of interrogation. There were stories that if Mr. “Davis” does not cooperate, the interrogation would have been upgraded to level 3 (a euphemism for torture). There are reports that despite admonitions from the US Embassy, Mr. Davis is singing like a bird, and has already given enough information to the Pakistanis to get him convicted in any court of law.

The Former Foreign Minister Qureshi publicly confirmed that Secretary of State Hillary Clintonpressured him to “publicly confirm diplomatic immunity of Davis. However, I refused to do so because it was against the factual position in the case.” FM Qureshi’s confirmation that Mr “Davis” is not a diplomat was repeatedly discussed on all 80 TV channels with copies of his passports and visas prominently displayed for the audience. Mr. Quresh said that
“The kind of blanket immunity Washington is pressing for Davis is not endorsed by the official record of the Foreign Ministry,” adding that Washington even “threatened that Hillary Clinton would not meet me at the Munich conference on February 6 if the request was not granted.”

The situation is so polarized that even traditional US allies in Pakistan have condemned the intrusive murders. Mr. Pervez Hoodbhoy who almost never criticizes the US has condemned the “Davis” affair. The PMLN is of course threatened the PPP with a vote of no-confidence.

It is clear that Mr. “Davis” shot the Pakistani operatives knowing full well who they were. The Pakistani authorities have informed the the media that they are very well aware that Mr. Davis was in touch with the “Pakistani Taliban” (TTP). There is conjecture that Mr. “Davis” walked into a trap laid out by the ISI. In fact his contacts were actually ISI agents. All that he said and did is in the hands of the Pakistanis. Mr. “Davis” thought that by shooting the two operatives, he would eliminate the evidence against him. In fact, it made matters worse. Other operatives who were in the vicinity had already taken the necessary precautions. The ISI has leaked information to the media that Mr. “Davis” had crossed a “red line”.

Clearly, the Americans have panicked because the know that the Pakistani side knows much more than it is prepared to admit in public. This is typical behavior when spies are caught with their thumbs up their noses. There are clear indications that Mr. “Davis” has broken down after sustained interrogation in police custody, and has spilled his guts–making the Pakistanis aware of explosive stuff. Its not that this stuff has surprised the Pakistanis. When you have 3000 of these guys running around the country–something gives. The ISI is one of the world’s most powerful spy organizations in the world. It has deep roots in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nothing that crawls or walks in Pakistan is hidden from the ISI and other agencies. On top of this there is a million man Pakistani army. 180 million Pakistanis are also watching the Americans and reporting on them. The panicked Americans have continually given highly contradictory versions about Mr. “Davis’s” identity and the nature of his assignment in Pakistan.

It is very clear that Mr. “Davis’s” discovery and detention has sent alarm bells ringing all the way to President Obama’s White House. In a way the Pakistanis are amused. They know they have the Americans where they want them–right up against the wall. The Americans are fully aware that the “Davis” case is shaking the very foundations of the transactional relationship with Pakistan. While the CIA, the State Department and the White House think that this is a new discovery–the Pakistanis point to a long trail of evidence that directly points to the US consultants and their hirelings in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The ISI and the Army believe that at the right time, the details of what the Pakistanis know will be revealed to President Obama and the world.

Pakistan and Pakistanis have known for a long time who is behind the TTP (Tehrik e Taliban e Pakistani). Its not that hard to guess. What surprised the Pakistanis was their ability to inflict bloody attacks on the Pakistani military in order to destabilize Pakistani. Mr. Davis is not an isolated incident–there is a history behind much of what is happening in Pakistan–most of which can be correlated to the rise of the US “consultants” and “contractors” in Pakistan. It is pedagogical to note that last year when the ISI put in requests for deep security checks on those coming into Pakistan–the US put up a hissy fit and forced about 500 of these “Davis types” through without any background checks. Is is noted that the ISI became very suspicious of the insistence of the US in getting these guys into Pakistan at short notice. These guys got very special attention–and that has paid off in the arrest and detention of Mr. Davis. This points to the fact that this incident was not just an accident–it was an incident waiting to happen. The ISI was ready to pounce on the situation once it happened.

Pakistan has been very suspicious of these “contractors” especially when Pakistani state institutions were attacked. The attacks on the the Army HQ, and the ISI sent alarm bells among the rank and file of the Pakistani government. The vibrant Pakistani press has also been on the trail and has repeatedly pointed out the facts about the former Afghan intelligence chief Amrullah Saleh (who was eventually fired by Mr. Karzai). However the US security establishment was in cahoots with him.

The Pakistani military and its highly efficient intelligence set-up had concluded a very long time ago that the TTP was being aided by the very sort of free-wheeling “contractors” that Mr. Davis represents. It was just a matter of time when things came to a boil. It is amazing that the Americans are surprised they have finally be caught red-handed. This has happened in the past, but during the reign of President Musharraf, the Americans got away with it and escaped. This time Mr. “Davis” was caught with his hands in the cookie jar.

Over 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan facing the new Taliban “Spring Offensive” are totally dependent on supplies running through Pakistan. The last time Pakistan shut off the spigot, the Americans ran out of toilet paper and had to cut down on food rations. It must have been hard eating food with dirty hands! If the tiff between the US and Pakistan is not resolved the US may face the consequences in Afghanistan. Failure in the Hindu Kush will certainly impact the presidential elections in 2012.

Remembering the State Terrorism At Dresden

[The moment when American and British high command decided to begin their war against German cities, was the point in time when state terrorism became acceptable to the American people, as long as the terrorism was for our side.  ]

Human chain marks Dresden firestorm

Updated 11 hours 33 minutes ago

Thousands of people create a human chain along the Elbe River in Dresden

Those taking part in the human chain also paid tribute to victims of German bombing raids. (AFP: Robert Michael)

About 17,000 people have formed a human chain in the German city of Dresden to mark the 66th anniversary of the 1945 Allied bombing campaign that killed more than 20,000 people.

The massive two-day raid by the British Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Force began on February 13, 1945, and sparked a firestorm which destroyed much of the historical centre of the city.

Among those who perished in the flames were hundreds of refugees who had fled the horrors of the Eastern Front.

Critics say the raid was strategically unjustified as Hitler’s Germany was already effectively defeated and the bombs appeared to target civilians rather than military targets.

The anniversary commemorations began with a wreath-laying ceremony at a cemetery where thousands of victims are buried.

Those taking part in the human chain said they wanted to remember the victims of the bombing.

They also paid tribute to those who perished in German bombing raids.

Those attending anniversary ceremonies vastly outnumbered a march being held by neo-Nazi demonstrators, who claim the Dresden bombing was a war crime.

ABC/BBC/AFP

Ukrainian Angle on New York Stabbing Spree

The carnage in New York – comes from the Ukraine had killed his stepfather, an ex-girlfriend, her mother and a pedestrian

Полиция Нью-Йорка задержала 23-летнего выходца с Украины Максима Гельмана, подозреваемого в убийстве отчима, своей бывшей подруги, ее матери и случайного пешехода
По данным агентства, приехав в дом Булченко, Гельман зарезал ее мать 56-летнюю Анну Булченко, а затем, дождавшись возвращения 20-летней Елены, убил и ее
Гельман ранил ножом еще трех человек: двух водителей, у одного из которых он угнал автомобиль, и пассажира в метро
Пассажир метро, которого ранил Гельман

New York police arrested 23-year old native of Ukraine Maxim Gelman, a suspect in the murder of his stepfather, his ex-girlfriend, her mother and the occasional pedestrian, said on Sunday agency AP.

Gelman graffiti artist, who lived in Brooklyn, was arrested in a subway station in Times Square, New York, after stabbing a man in the subway.

According to the NYPD, the bloody drama began on Friday when the Gelman had a fight with her mother, who refused to lend him his car Lexus. When his stepfather Gelman, 54-year-old Alexander Kuznetsov, intervened in the quarrel, foster son gave him a mortal wound with a kitchen knife.

Then Gelman hijacked owned Lexus and the mother went into the house of his ex-girlfriend Helen Bulchenko on the way the attacker knocked the 62-year old pedestrian who later died in hospital.According to the agency, came to the house Bulchenko, Gelman stabbed her mother 56-year-old Anna Bulchenko, and then waiting for the return of 20-year old Elena, and killed her.

After that, Gelman wounded with a knife still three people: two drivers, one of whom he stole a car and a passenger in the subway.

According to a police spokesman Raymond Kelly, Gelman was a drug addict and has already found himself in police custody for at least ten times – mostly he was detained for graffiti and drugs. According to Kelly, the young man gave the police evidence, but they are extremely confusing. Motives of crimes being investigated, said police
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