Shoot First Diplomacy

Shoot First Diplomacy

Philip Giraldi

It is difficult to imagine what might produce a longing for the good old days of George W. Bush, but the Obama Administration is certainly approaching that tip point.  First there was National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair spelling out a policy of assassination of American citizens overseas based on suspicion and secret evidence and then there was last week’s revelation that the Justice Department guidelines for the FBI now permit relatively free searches of all sorts of personal information that once was regarded as private.  The searches are without judicial oversight and there does not have to be any evidence that the suspect has committed a crime.

Now we have Hillary Clinton and company opening up the latest free fire zone against other American citizens who have done nothing wrong.  The State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who is married to one of the ubiquitous Kagans, announced that “Groups that seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that risk the safety of their passengers.” Please note: per Nuland/Clinton the passengers on the unarmed vessels in international waters, all of whom have signed a pledge of non-violence, are risking their own safety if they get shot by the Israeli military.

Nuland added that Gaza is governed by Hamas, “a designated foreign terrorist organization,” and that aiding such a group “could violate U.S. civil and criminal statutes and could lead to fines and incarceration.”  This means that giving a loaf of bread to a child in Gaza is indictable as support of a terrorist organization, since the government is run by Hamas.

Once upon a time the Secretary of State was supposed to protect Americans overseas, particularly when the Americans are not doing anything illegal.  But that was before Israel and its Lobby decided what American citizens can and cannot do.  A good friend of mine Ray McGovern, who is on the American vessel, is a deeply religious former CIA senior analyst.  He has friends on the National Security Council who informed him last week that the US government would let the Israelis do whatever they want to the flotilla and would, in fact, approve of any action taken.  In the aftermath, the State Department would do nothing to help any US citizen killed, injured, or arrested.  Except possibly have them arrested a second time.

However one feels about the Israel-imposed blockade of Gaza, it is important to remember that the Americans and others involved in the flotilla are doing nothing illegal under international law.  Their ships have been inspected and have only relief supplies on board. No one is armed. Their objection is to the Israeli, and American, assumption that Tel Aviv somehow has the right to punish the Gazans in perpetuity and thereby create a continuous humanitarian crisis for the local people because they elected the “wrong” party back in 2006.  The Americans and other foreigners on the flotilla have a perfect right to express that view peacefully without being excoriated by Hillary before being executed by an IDF goon.

Railway linking Iran to Central Asia On Schedule, Funding Approved Despite the U.S.

News Central Asia

Railway to link Iran to Central Asia

A railroad linking Iran to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan will be launched by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (ending March 20), says Iranian Minister of Roads and Urban Development Ali Nikzad.

“The railroad will be completed by the end of the year and Iran will be connected to Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Russia and China,” IRIB quoted Nikzad as saying on Tuesday.

The minister added that the 86-kilometer railroad, which draws $150 million, is a portion of a 920-kilometer railway that the three countries agreed to build in 2007.

Nikzad went on to say that Iranian engineers are constructing about 265 kilometers of the railroad inside Turkmenistan. He added that the construction of the Turkmen portion of the railroad will be completed by the end of 2011.

The initial agreement on the construction of the railway was signed between presidents of Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan in the city of Turkmenbashi in April 2007 and Iran joined the project in September 2007.

The 920-kilometer railroad will shorten more than 600 kilometers for transporting goods from Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, and will become one of the important international transportation links between China and Europe.

Turkmenistan to borrow $240 mln for water, rail link

* Turkmen president approves loans – govt source

* Islamic Development Bank to lend $121.1 mln

* ADB to lend $125 mln for rail link By Marat Gurt

ASHGABAT, June 27 (Reuters) – Turkmenistan plans to borrow more than $240 million on favourable terms from the Islamic Development Bank and the Asian Development Bank for railway and water-supply projects, a government source said on Monday.

“The loans will be used to develop the Turkmen part of a rail link to Iran and for providing water to Balkan province in the west of Turkmenistan,” the source told Reuters.

Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov had signed a decree on acceptance of the loans, the source said on condition of anonymity.

Turkmenistan, a reclusive desert state of 5 million people bordering Iran and Afghanistan, holds the world’s fourth-largest natural gas reserves.

The Saudi Arabia-based Islamic Development Bank would supply $121.1 million to Turkmenistan’s Vneshekonombank to develop a water-supply project in Balkan province, repayable over 19 years with a four-year grace period, the source said.

He said the Asian Development Bank would lend $125 million to the Ministry of Rail Transport, repayable over 25 years with a five-year grace period, to fund the 311-km (194-mile) Turkmen leg of a rail corridor to link Kazakhstan and the Persian Gulf.

The Manila-based ADB approved the loan, its first ever to Turkmenistan, in March. The bank said in a statement at the time that the loan would make up 75 percent of the total project cost of $166.7 million.

The planned rail line is due for completion by September 2012. (Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Ramya Venugopal)

© Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved

Pakistan’s attitude towards terror has altered: Rao

[Peace between India and Pakistan is now within reach, but only if this reasonable approach is maintained.  It is of utmost importance to the people of planet Earth at this critical moment in human history that this particular nuclear conundrum be solved.  This peace is only possible if the two former adversaries stand resolutely together to thwart Imperial plans for the region.]

Pakistan’s attitude towards terror has altered: Rao

Press Trust Of India
New Delhi
Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao (L) shakes hands with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir prior to a meeting at The Pakistan foreign ministry in Islamabad. June 24: Day in pics

Indian foreign secretary Nirupama Rao (L) shakes hands with her Pakistani counterpart Salman……

Pakistan’s attitude towards tackling terrorism has “altered”, a “concrete” development that India should take note of, foreign secretary Nirupama Rao has said. “I think the prism through which they see this issue has definitely been altered,” Rao told Karan Thapar on Devil’s Advocate

programme on CNN-IBN.

She was replying to a question on whether India saw a change in Pakistan’s attitude towards terrorism during the recently concluded foreign secretary-level talks.

Asked whether it was a positive development, Rao said it was an outcome that India must take note of.

“I think when they speak of the fact that non-state elements in this relationship need to be tackled, that we must look at safe havens and sanctuaries, that we must look at fake currency, we must look at all the aspects that are concerned with the business of terror, I think that is a concrete development,” she said.

Rao, however, said she would not expect Pakistani officials to talk about the strategic link between the Pakistani state and militancy and terror.

Asked whether her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir accepted the revelations made by Mumbai attacks case accused David Headley in a Chicago trial court, Rao said the strategic link between the Pakistani state and militancy and terror needed to be broken.

“Well, he is not going to say that in so many words to me. I think it would be unrealistic for me to expect that the foreign secretary of Pakistan is going to say that,” she said when asked whether Bashir admitted to the strategic link between the Pakistani state and terror outfits.

Opec Meeting Reveals Further Degeneration Of The MENA Region

Opec Meeting Reveals Further Degeneration Of The MENA Region

opec

(This guest post by by Derik Andreoli, Senior Analyst Mercator International, LLC appeared at The Oil Drum. It is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 U.S. License.)

Upon exiting the most recent Opec summit, the visibly frustrated Saudi Oil Minister, Mr. Ali Naimi, proclaimed it to be “one of the worst meetings we have ever had.” In the lead up to the meeting, oil traders had come to believe that Opec would increase production quotas to cover the shortfall of light, sweet Libyan crude going into Europe’s peak demand season. This led traders to the conclusion that tight markets would loosen (relatively), and as a consequence, oil traders bid down the price for ‘paper barrels’ (oil futures) by a couple of dollars.

While hindsight may be 20/20, foresight is rarely better than 50/50, and in this case, the market was wrong. Opec failed to revise production quotas, and upon learning of this decision, traders quickly bid the price back up. A couple days later, Saudi Arabia announced that they would break with Opec by lifting production above their allotted quota. Oil traders reacted by bidding the price back down, and in the end, prices had settled back to previous levels as if the summit had never happened. But the story isn’t over until all the holes in the plot have been filled, and all the nagging questions answered.

Why, for instance, would Saudi Arabia announce that they planned to lift production above Opec’s stated quota? Why not just covertly lift production? After all, when it comes to the Middle East, oil markets are deliberately opaque, and in fact, Opec quotas are regularly flouted. Furthermore, from a purely financial perspective, such bold announcements make no sense at all. If we assume that Saudi Arabia exports somewhere around 6.25 million barrels of oil per day, we can easily calculate that at $100 per barrel, Saudi Arabia nets a daily petro-income of $625 million. If they were to covertly lift production by 200,000 barrels per day (as they and other Opec members have done in the past), Saudi income would increase by $20 million.

By announcing their intentions to lift production, however, the price slid $3 per barrel, and the Saudi daily income was reduced by roughly $19 million per day, a 3% decline (assuming exports at 6.25 mbd). To maintain a stable income under this scenario, Saudi exports would need to be lifted by roughly 200,000 barrels per day. Hence, the Saudi announcement makes little sense from a business perspective. Of course the Saudi Arabian Oil Company is more than a business, it is the fulcrum of Saudi Arabia’s geopolitical power, and being the only nation with significant spare production capacity provides the Saudis with a point of leverage which they use to their political advantage.

And there is no more important time to manipulate these geopolitical levers than now. Saudi Arabia is not immune to the wave of populist uprisings sparked by high food prices, high unemployment, and corruption that has crashed onto the shores of Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and so on. In fact, Saudi Arabia shares a common border with Egypt, Yemen, and Bahrain, and is situated just across the Arabian Gulf (Persian Gulf in the West) from Iran. While geographically proximate to Shia-ruled Iran, Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia could hardly be more distant in ideological/theological terms.

The Shia-Sunni rift dates back to the death of the Prophet Muhammad and the disagreement over successorship which followed. The Shia believed that the leadership should stay within the family while the Sunnis believed that a group of elites should decide who the rightful successor should be. Over the years, Sunni and Shia elites have fanned the flames of division for political gain, and the fire has become so hot that there is little hope that the flames will be extinguished any time soon.

Though the majority of the Saudi population is Sunni, Shia predominate in the oil-rich Eastern section of the country. Similarly, Shiites comprise the majority of the populations of Kuwait, the UAE, and Bahrain, yet these border states are, like Saudi Arabia, ruled by Sunnis.

This is of particular concern because the flames of the populist uprisings are being stoked by Shia- dominated, Shia-ruled Iran that hopes that the populist uprisings will create a power vacuum that will be Shia-filled. This is why Saudi Arabia sent troups into Bahrain. This is also why Yemen President Ali Abdullah Saleh was evacuated to Saudi Arabia after being wounded in a rocket attack after months of peaceful protests gave way to violence. The threat of regime change in such a geopolitically charged environment also explains why Riyadh has committed to doling out over $130 billion for housing and social programs aimed at easing rising domestic tensions (and why the Saudis require high oil prices to balance their federal budget).

In order to buttress their regime, Saudi rulers have maintained ties with the U.S., despite the entrenched divisions between the House of Saud and the United States. These divisions are rooted in the U.S. support of Israel, and the U.S. overthrow of Saddam Hussein which resulted in the installation of the first Shia government in Iraq.

On the other side of the coin, access to oil is why the U.S. has supported, and continues to support, the Saudi rulers and similar regimes in the MENA region despite known links to al Qaeda and other extremist groups. Preserving the power relations that secure the flow of oil further explains why in October of last year, the U.S. penned an arms deal worth $60 billion (the largest single deal ever) with Saudi Arabia and have been training an elite Saudi military force tasked with protecting vital oil infrastructure. Perhaps more importantly, the rising threat to the House of Saud has, in fact, granted the Saudis an important bargaining chip in the debate over the establishment of an internationally recognized Palestinian state. Riyadh has threatened ‘disasterous consequences’ should the U.S. veto the UN recognition of a Palestinian state. Such a recognition, however, would significantly weaken U.S.-Israeli relations, and one might go so far as to interpret this as a divide-and-conquer strategy. At any rate, for these and other reasons, the Saudi-U.S. relationship remains tenuous at best.

To bring this back to point, regime preservation explains why Mr. Naimi left the June Opec meeting visibly frustrated, proclaiming it to be the worst meeting ever, and why Saudi Arabia announced that they were going to break with the Opec quota system.

Though the decline in oil prices brought about by the Saudi announcment hit their own bottom line, it also hit Iran’s bottom line. This is a small price to pay, however, given that Mr. Al Naimi’s words and actions buttressed the U.S.-Saudi relationship while at the same time driving the wedge between the U.S. and Iran ever deeper. But don’t take my word for it, consider instead the reaction of Congressman Edward Markey (D) who proclaimed, “Opec, led by Iran and Venezuela, has snubbed its nose at the United States and the rest of the western nations.”

Of course the situation in Syria highlights the fact that Iran faces a similar threat to the one faced by Saudi Arabia. In both countries, domestic discontent and a yearning for democracy threatens to topple the ruling regimes. Consequently the U.S. finds itself confronted with competing objectives and mired in the complexities of Middle East geopolitics. We feel compelled to support the pro-democracy movements, but require the unperturbed flow of oil out of the region. We need look no further than to Libya to see that regime change – be it to a functioning democracy or from one authoritarian regime to another – threatens the flow of oil. Hence reconciling these competing objectives requires finesse and more than a bit of luck.

Bringing this argument full circle, while the most recent Opec meeting had little lasting impact on oil prices, the real story is found in the analysis above. A troubling truth is revealed by considering Mr. Al Naimi’s words and actions in the context of the ongoing MENA crisis. As an x-ray reveals asymptomatic osteoporosis, Mr. Naimi’s words and actions reveal just how fractured and fragile the Middle East has become, and by extension just how perilous our economic recovery remains.

Kharotabad Incident: Policemen Tortured Doctor and Journalist After Testimony

Kharotabad Incident: Policemen tortured Doctor and Journalist

 

Ispahani collects facts about Quetta killings

Kharotabad Incident: Policemen tortured me, says Dr. Baqar

QUETTA: A police surgeon who conducted post-mortem of the victims of Kharotabad shooting incident has been tortured, our sources reported.

Talking to our sources, surgeon Dr Baqar Shah claimed that he was tortured by police personnel. 10 police mobiles reached the restaurant on Prince road where he visited to take meal.

Dr Baqar said that Police personnel asked his name, threatened him over his statement on Kharotabad incident and started beating him.

He received injuries on his head, waist, and arms after which he was shifted to Civil Hospital for medical treatment.

Dr Baqar said that he stated the reality about Kharotabad incident before the inquiry tribunal, adding that he still stood firm over his previous statement.

He said that he would take legal action against the accused policemen. He demanded to provide security to all the doctors involved in conducting post-mortem.

IG Balochistan Rao Amin Hashim while taking notice of the incident directed to registered the case.

Meanwhile, Journalist Jamal Tarakai, who testified before the Kharotabad killings judicial tribunal, has been released from police custody after being detained for two hours, our sources reported. Two policemen have been suspended on arresting the journalist who was on his way to the city before being arrested.

According to sources, Tarakai was on his way to Kharotabad city with a companion on motorbike when the policemen, who were on routine patrol, stopped him.

Tarakai introduced himself to the security men and told that he is going for his regular duty but the policemen did not pay heed and tortured him.

Later, they took Tarakai to the Kharotabad Police Station and held him for two hours for pillion riding.

However, after noticing the incident, higher police officials released the journalist and dismissed two security men, Mohammad Aslam and Rajab Ali on mistreating Tarakai.

It is important to note that the journalist was earlier pressured by police and security officials over his statement on Kharotabad incident.

Earlier, the National Assembly Committee on Human Rights conducted an inquiry into the Kharotabad incident, says a press release issued here Monday.

According to the press release, a human rights sub-committee of the House (National Assembly), in its meeting on June 8 had decided to go to Balochistan to investigate the May 17 shooting of foreign citizens because of concerns regarding the probe being conducted there.

MNA Farahnaz Ispahani, Member of the Committee on Human Rights, was directed by the committee Chairman, Riaz Fatyana, in concurrence with the rest of the committee to travel to Quetta to investigate the Kharrotabad incident. She visited Quetta on behalf of the Committee to find out facts about the Kharotabad incident on June 11.

During the two-day visit, the committee held meetings with IG Police, Additional IG Police, IG FC, CCPO, Quetta, chief secretary, home secretary and other related officials of the Balochistan Government. The investigation was focused on the status of the deceased foreigners. Balochistan officials were unable to answer Farahnaz Ispahani in their first briefing on Saturday evening.

The officials were asked to re-appear the next day with full preparation and documentary proofs of some missing facts. Ispahani also directed the officials to produce the taxi driver of the Russians-Tajiks vehicle, police personnel and SHO of the concerned area.

Farahnaz Ispahani asked officials to also produce the medico-legal officer along with autopsy reports in order to complete the investigation fairly and technically. In the investigative meeting on Sunday, the committee member was thoroughly briefed by the officials.

The committee member interviewed in detail, Syed Baqir Hussain Shah, the medico-legal officer and the driver. She also held meetings with the diplomat from Tajikistan Embassy who was representing the dead Tajik citizen and his Russian wife Olga.

While talking to media outside the committee room after completion of inquiry into the probe, Farahnaz Ispahani said it would be immature to conclude about the incident at this juncture. She said after analyzing and examining facts and evidence collected during the visit, final report would be submitted and made public as soon as possible.

Kharotabad killings: Strong pledges, vague recommendations

Kharotabad killings: Strong pledges, vague recommendations

Judicial tribunal says police, FC personnel showed complete incompetence by not catching the foreigners alive. PHOTO: FILE/AFP

QUETTA: Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani pledged to implement recommendations made by a judicial tribunal in its report on the Kharotabad shooting. However, the parts of the report made public on Saturday do not have any specific recommendations – even against those officials held clearly responsible for the shooting deaths of five unarmed foreigners on May 17.

However, though unarmed, the tribunal, on account of evidence, stated that it appeared that all five foreigners had received terrorist training and had “active linkages” with some banned terrorist organisations operating in Pakistan. It said that they could have been caught alive which would have been highly beneficial to the security forces in terms of unfolding the entire network. “Due to the callous stupidity of the police and FC officials, the possibility of unearthing an entire terrorist network will remain shrouded in mystery,” the report said.

The tribunal held four officials of the police and FC accountable, saying that former Capital City police officer Quetta Dawood Junejo and FC Lt Colonel Faisal Shehzad, being the highest ranking officer and commander of police present at the spot, displayed an absolute lack of professional competence, initiative and foresight that would be expected from them.

Junejo showed a lack of courage in the planning and ability to organise and act in a befitting manner, despite ample time at his disposal, and thus, by not taking the right action at the right time, had made himself liable to being brought to book.

The tribunal said that Lt Colonel Shehzad had in fact gone one step ahead by “willfully resorting to the massacre, instead of capturing the foreigners alive, thereby showing a culpable lack of courage, planning ability and determination to properly organise and handle the situation.”

SHO Kharotabad Fazalur Rehman and ASI Raza Khan of the airport police station were declared the two main officials responsible for the incident.

“They committed a culpable act of the worst order by not conveying the right message to the police control, which later resulted in the catastrophic death of the five foreigners and one live foetus. They could have easily been captured,” said the report, adding: “In addition to that, ASI Raza showed willful silence by not informing the police or the FC officers about searching the foreigners”.

‘Recommendations’

The tribunal only made a few general and overarching recommendations to thwart such incidents in the future, such as revamping of the police force in order to make them self-sufficient in handling major law and order situations.

The report also suggested that explosive-detectors should be made available at every police station keeping in view the prevailing law and order situation.

The tribunal’s report said that, despite the worsening law and order situation, no heed has been paid to ensuring strict checking by law enforcing agencies of the border areas to stem foreigners who enter Pakistan illegally.

The tribunal recommended installing CCTV cameras at
all entry points of Quetta as well as entry points of the country.

‘Confusing the truth’

The tribunal observed that some police officials had not only resorted to the tactics of “confusing the truth” by planting fake witnesses, but had also maltreated two of the witnesses, Jamal Tarakey and Dr Syed Baqir Shah, under the guise of “fake allegations”.

The tribunal said that it was revealed that except for Mukumov/ Numan, all others were Russians nationals, residents of Dagestan Republic.

Mogomedove alias Abdul Aziz and Sherkolovenauh visited Iran [Mashhad City] for seven days [November 28 to December 5, 2010] as evident from the Iranian visa in their passports, whereas Mukumov/Numan, a resident of Doshambay city, Tajikistan and Olga Shreder, a resident of Saakha Republic (Yakootia) Russi, visited Mashhad City as was evident from the visa of the Iranian government on their passports issued by the Tajkistan and Russian governments respectively. They stayed in Iran for three days [November 30 to December 2, 2010].

The tribunal further said that the evidence led to the conclusion that the foreigners had entered Pakistan through infrequent routes, while in possession of explosive devices and material.

“The evidence leads to the conclusion that such material was brought by them from abroad, so as to provide help and assistance to the terrorist organisation operating in Pakistan,” the tribunal said in the report.

Meanwhile, Inspector General Balochistan police Rao Amin Hashim said that the police would implement the recommendations of judicial tribunal once they receive the report.

 

Published in The Express Tribune, July 3rd, 2011.

TTP Intelligence Chief Arrested In Islamabad

Key Pakistan Taliban leader arrested in Islamabad

English.news.cn

ISLAMABAD, July 3 (Xinhua) — Pakistani authorities have arrested a key Taliban leader, Zia-ur-Rahman, in capital Islamabad, local TV channels reported on Sunday.

Express TV reported that Zia-ur-Rahman was the in-charge of intelligence network of Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The leader was arrested Saturday night and he is being questioned for his activities, the report said. There were no further details about identity of the arrested Taliban leader.

Another local TV channel reported that Zia-ur-Rahman was arrested in an overnight raid from G-11 sector of Islamabad.

There is no official word on the arrest and identity of the report.

The name of the arrested Taliban leader has created confusion as there is another senior Taliban leader with the name of Qari Zia-ur-Rahman.

Qari Zia-ur-Rahman, who had been living for years in Bajaur tribal region in northwest Pakistan is now leading his fighters in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province. He had moved to Afghanistan in the wake of major military operation in Bajaur in 2008-2009.

Qari Zia-ur-Rahman was wanted both by the U.S. and Pakistani sides for attacks in Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal region and attacks on U.S. security forces in Afghanistan.

Editor: Deng Shasha