Sarkozy’s Office Claims Libyan “Al-Qaeda” Leader Rehabilitated

French Taunt

France defends Libyan ex-jihadi rebel commander

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office defended on Wednesday a Libyan rebel commander who once reportedly led a jihadi group with ties to Al Qaeda, insisting Libya’s revolution is not led by Islamists.

A senior official in the Elysee told AFP that Sarkozy’s senior own military aide had met Adbelhakim Belhadj, the rebel commander who led the assault on Moamer Kadhafi’s bunker complex, and had no concerns about his affiliations.

Previously, Belhadj was reportedly “emir” of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group — an Islamist guerrilla movement once allied to the Al Qaeda network — and he was arrested in Malaysia in 2004 on suspicion of extremist activity.

After his arrest he was said to have been interrogated by the US Central Intelligence Agency before being sent back to be jailed in Libya.

Belhadj renounced violence while a prisoner of Moamer Kadhafi’s government and was released in March 2010. This year he joined the revolution against the regime and is now commander of the rebel fighters in control of Tripoli.

His return to the frontline has raised concerns in some quarters that the revolution against Kadhafi, which was warmly supported by France and several other Western countries, might include un-democratic forces.

But the Elysee official, speaking on condition on anonymity, insisted France has no concerns about Belhadj nor about the National Transitional Council, the rebel political body now recognised as Libya’s interim government.

“As it happens, the head of the president’s military staff met him very recently, and was able to form the personal opinion of him that does not correspond at all to the accusations against him,” he said.

The official did not say where the meeting took place, but last week Belhadj attended a conference of the Libya contact group in Doha, Qatar, and Sarkozy’s military head of staff General Benoit Puga could have met him there.

“There is a very important distinction between practising Muslims and Islamists who want to lead a jihad,” the Elysee source said, insisting that the CNT was neither infiltrated nor controlled by extremist elements.

“There may be cells but we are certain of one thing: They neither represent a threat nor a large slice of Libyan public. We are not worried,” he said.

“There are a lot of fantasies. There are religious people in the NTC, but that doesn’t make them Islamists.”

When the Libya revolt erupted in March, Kadhafi and his son Saif Al-Islam branded the rebels Al-Qaeda operatives, an allegation firmly denied by the NTC and its supporters, who have promised to form a broad-based government.

A rebel spokesman in Tripoli has denied that Belhadj has a jihadi agenda, insisting that shares the NTC’s “moderate” vision of a democratic Libya.

Like Al-Qaeda, the LIFG was formed by former Muslim volunteers who fought the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Its leadership split from that of Al-Qaeda, but its members have fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

NATO Propaganda Leaflets Found in Tripoli

NATO Propaganda Leaflets Found in Tripoli

The existence of the fliers, urging soldiers to give up, suggest greater Western involvement in the Libyan conflict

nato1aug31p.jpgMarc Herman

TRIPOLI, Libya — These two fliers were provided by a member of the neighborhood militia in Gorji, in central Tripoli. Tripoli residents say they found them on the ground starting at least two months ago.

Though certainly less lethal than bombs, the leaflets, which bear NATO insignias, are only slightly subtler. The above leaflet shows an unmanned drone and an aerial view of a tank. The text takes a position of overwhelming force, declaring, in somewhat stilted Arabic, “Warning: You are neither a match nor an equivalent to the superior weapon systems and air force of NATO. Continuing to do what you are doing will result in your death.” The flip side shows the tank blown up and repeats the promise of death if they do not stop fighting.

The above translation is courtesy of Uri Horesh, former military translator and director of the Arabic Language Program at Franklin & Marshall College. “This was not written by skilled Arabic writers with good knowledge of how to write about military topics in idiomatic Arabic,” Horesh added. “NATO needs some training on this front, it seems.”

nato2aug31p.jpg
The second, white leaflet, pictured here, issues the following warning in legalistic language:

Dear officers and soldiers of the Libyan Army, the International Criminal Court has indicted Gaddafi for committing crimes against humanity in Libya. It is advisable that officers and soldiers of the Libyan Army refrain from carrying out Gaddafi’s orders and committing any military actions against the Libyan people. Any officer or soldier who commits crimes against humanity shall be in violation of International Law. Many officers and soldiers have chosen to stand against Gaddafi’s orders and refrain from fighting against innocent civilians. Do join these men for a prosperous, peaceful future for Libya.

The flip side depicts a collage of images depicting loyalist and anti-Qaddafi forces squaring off, and places Qaddafi opposite the image of Omar Muqtar, a Libyan independence hero. The text between them is a quotation attributed to Qaddafi. “He who kills another Libyan destroys Libya,” is a common translation. Below the quotation a man is sobbing. It looks a bit like a page from a junior high school history book.

Several native and non-native Arabic speakers were able to verify these translations, though giving slightly different versions of some phrases. If a native speaker would like to add their translation in the comments, we’d love to hear from you.

It’s not clear how widespread the propaganda effort was in the months that Qaddafi held Tripoli against protesters. The fliers are not common in Tripoli — you won’t casually encounter them in garbage piles, or blowing around in the street. NATO does not have a public representative in Tripoli and has not commented on the campaign in any overt way of which we are aware.

They do suggest that NATO’s role in the war may have been more complex than the coalition has acknowledged since its operations began in March. In addition to conducting propaganda operations, it is now tacitly acknowledged that NATO spotters and advisers were on the ground in Libya as early as April.

“Two French and an American,” said Khalid Azibah, a fighter from Nalut, in the Nafusa mountains. “They were three months in Nalut, just left a month ago.” It was about a month ago that NATO forces hit three targets near Nalut, precipitating the offensive that ended last week in Tripoli.

“I don’t have boots on the ground,” a NATO spokesman in Naples told me in an interview in early July. Unless the spotters were all wearing sneakers, that comment was, it appears, false.

Pakistan bans online encryption for the good of state security

Pakistan bans online encryption for the good of state security

by Steve Ragan

Pakistan bans online encryption. Image: Rpongsaj/Flickr.Pakistan bans online encryption. Image: Rpongsaj/Flickr.

A new order issued to ISPs from the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) directs them to block all encrypted traffic on their networks. A PTA spokesperson told local media the reasoning was to prevent militants from using VPN traffic to coordinate themselves.

According to a memo sent to ISPs, the PTA has ordered them to immediately block and prohibit the use of “…all such mechanisms including encrypted virtualprivate networks (EVPNs) which conceal communication to the extent that prohibits monitoring.”

The new order is in line with the Monitoring and Reconciliation of Telephony Traffic Regulations, which were established in 2010. In the letter to ISPs outlining the halt on encryption, they were told that the “…aforementioned directive has not been followed in true letter and spirit as EVPNs are heavily being used on the Licensees Network.”

According to the wording of the Monitoring and Reconciliation of Telephony Traffic Regulations, the licensee (ISP) is to ensure that, out of their own pocket, they install and maintain monitoring systems tied to the PTA. These systems are to monitor voice and data traffic in real-time, and the ISP cannot otherwise filter or block traffic, unless the Authority (PTA) orders it.

In addition, the ISP is to ensure that “…signaling information is uncompressed, unencrypted, and not formatted in a manner which the installed monitoring system is unable to decipher using installed capabilities.”

If that is not possible, the ISP will need to let the traffic pass and do whatever is necessary, including purchasing format conversion tools and hardware, so that the traffic is able to be properly monitored.

According to the PTA, the block on encryption is aimed at preventing militants from using secure communications when they coordinate. However, the PTA representative also noted that average citizens will be caught in the middle, unable to use VPNsoftware to surf the Web in private.

In the past, Pakistan has blocked Facebook and YouTube, over disputes with content, but news of the VPN blocks emerged as an insider at an Islamabad ISP admitted that they could not block a single URL on RollingStone.com. Instead, when one article was deemed offensive because of its author, they filtered the entire domain.

With competence like that, one has to wonder how effective the monitoring and VPN restrictions really are.

Car bomb blast kills 11 in Quetta

Car bomb blast kills 11 in Quetta

Local residents gather at the site of a car bomb blast in Quetta.—AFP

 

QUETTA: A suicide car bomb blast killed at least 11 people on Wednesday and wounded 22 others celebrating Eidul Fitr in the southwestern city of Quetta, police said.

The bomb exploded in a car park next to a mosque where prayers marking the festival were taking place, senior police official Mohammad Hashim told AFP.

Quetta police chief Ahsan Mehboob said a bomb disposal team had concluded that it was a suicide car bomb, as he raised the official toll from 10.

“The death toll is 11 now as one of the wounded men died at the hospital,” Mehboob said.

“Remains of a badly mutilated body were found in the car. It appears that he was not wearing the explosives on his body but he had planted those in the car and detonated when he could not go beyond the parking lot,” Mehboob told AFP.

“Our security was alert, so he could not go beyond the parking, otherwise he might have caused a lot more casualties,” he said, adding that all the dead had been identified by relatives except the suicide bomber.

Quetta police official Hamid Shakil said two women and a seven-year-old boy were among the dead.

Several cars parked nearby caught fire from the blast and one house suffered blast damage, witnesses said.

Live television footage showed swirls of thick black smoke rising from the area as people ran into the street, some pushing their cars to safety, while ambulances carried away the wounded.

Hashim said there had been no immediate claim of responsibility and police could not speculate who might be behind the bombing.

Pakistan’s Balochistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, has seen a recent surge in violence linked to a separatist insurgency, sectarian clashes and Taliban militants.

Libyan Rebel Leaders Reject UN Peacekeeping Role

Libya’s interim leaders reject UN military personnel

Libyans paint anti-Gaddafi grafitti in Tripoli
Celebrations have been continuing in the capital Tripoli

Libya’s interim leadership has rejected the idea of deploying any kind of international military force, the UN envoy to the country has said.

Ian Martin said the UN had considered the deployment of military observers.

Earlier, the chairman of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said the country did not need outside help to maintain security.

The news came as fighters loyal to the council approached the pro-Gaddafi stronghold of Sirte from east and west.

The town’s defenders have been given until Saturday to surrender.

However, fugitive ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi’s spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, rejected the ultimatum, the Associated Press reports.

“No dignified honourable nation would accept an ultimatum from armed gangs,” he said in a telephone call to the AP on Monday night.

Mr Ibrahim reiterated Col Gaddafi’s offer to send his son Saadi to negotiate with rebels and form a transitional government, the agency said.

‘Special case’

Libya’s deputy representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, told the BBC that the situation in Libya was unique.

“They [the UN] put the possibility of deploying peacekeepers on the ground but in fact the Libyan crisis is a special case.

“It is not a civil war, it is not a conflict between two parties, it is the people who are defending themselves against the dictatorship.”

However, Mr Martin said the UN did expect to be asked to help establish a police force.

“We don’t now expect military observers to be requested,” he said after a meeting of the UN Security Council.

“It’s very clear that the Libyans want to avoid any kind of military deployment of the UN or others,” he said.

Mr Martin added that one of the greatest challenges for the UN would be helping the country prepare for democratic elections.

“Let’s remember… there’s essentially no living memory of elections, there’s no electoral machinery, there’s no electoral commission, no history of political parties, no independent civil society, independent media are only beginning to emerge in the east in recent times.

“That’s going to be quite a challenge, sort of organisationally, and it’s clear that the NTC wish the UN to play a major role in that process.”

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said that growing humanitarian shortages in Libya demand urgent action and appealed to the security council to be “responsive” to requests from the transitional authority for funding.

Though stockpiles of medical supplies and food stashed away by the government were found over the weekend, water supplies are short.

“An estimated 60% of Tripoli’s population is without water and sanitation,” he said. The EU’s humanitarian office says that pro-Gaddafi forces are responsible for cutting supplies.

Ultimatum

On Tuesday, the UN Security Council let Britain release 1.86bn dinars ($1.55bn; £950m) in frozen assets to buy aid for Libya but an attempt by France and Germany to release an additional $8.6bn remains blocked.

Diplomats said that Russia was holding up Germany’s request to release about 1bn euros ($1.4bn) in seized assets and France’s move to unfreeze about five billion euros ($7.2bn) to buy humanitarian aid, Agence France Presse reports.

As anti-Gaddafi fighters converge on his birthplace of Sirte, interim leaders gave the town’s defenders an ultimatum, telling them that they had until Saturday to surrender or face military force.

It has also emerged that Col Gaddafi’s wife and three of his adult children fled to neighbouring Algeria in the early hours of Monday morning.

Col Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown, with suggestions he may be in Sabha, Sirte or Bani Walid. However, the deputy head of the NTC, Ali Tarhouni, said they had a good idea of where he was and were confident that they would catch him.

Map of Libya

 

What “Combat Zone” In Central Asia?

[IRS.GOV names the following as combat zones in support of Afghanistan:  Pakistan, Tajikistan and Jordan – Sept. 19, 2001, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – Oct. 1, 2001.  The reported Central Asian combat zone will be somewhere much more hostile than Kyrgyzstan.  This lets the cat out of the bag.  More proof that the Pentagon has big war plans for Central Asia (SEE: Smashing Greater Central Asia – Part One ).]

Group from Kingsley to deploy to Central Asia

Twenty-six airmen from Kingsley Field are preparing to deploy to a combat zone in Central Asia.

The Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Security Forces Squadron will ship out in early fall and be stationed overseas for at least six months, said Col. Curtis Waite, mission support group commander at Kingsley Field. The unit will provide security for Air Force personnel in a combat zone, he said.

The security forces squadron was stationed at a support base in Kyrgyzstan about four years ago. But this deployment will be the unit’s first to a combat zone, Waite said.

“They’re going to be in the middle of it,” he said.

Of those set to deploy, many are from the Klamath Basin, said Lt. Col. Martin Balakas, spokesman with the Oregon Air National Guard’s 173rd Fighter Wing, stationed at Kingsley. It’s an exciting an anxious time for those about to ship out.

“You’re excited to go and do what you’re trained for; you’re excited to undertake your mission,” Balakas said. “At the same time, it’s awful hard to leave family and friends behind.”

Complexity Theorists Predict Food Crisis, Riots and Civil Unrest By April 2013

Complexity Theorists Predict Food Crisis, Riots and Civil Unrest By April 2013

Mac Slavo
August 24th, 2011
SHTFplan.com

Forecasting isn’t an exact science, but researches at the New England Complex Systems Institute may have come up with a formulaic approach that can help them to identify risk factors that contribute to political instability which may lead to riots and civil unrest similar to what we saw in the Middle East this year.

Their model is so accurate that they reportedly wrote a letter to the United States warning of imminent danger just days before the mid east and north African riots broke out:

On 13 December last year, the group wrote to the US government pointing out that global food prices were about to cross the threshold they had identified. Four days later, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in Tunisia in protest at government policies, an event that triggered a wave of social unrest that continues to spread throughout the middle east today. (source)

Using advanced complexity theory the researchers have come up with a number of indicators that can predict when a population reaches its breaking point. Specific details and assessments are provided in The Food Crises and Political Instability in North Africa and the Middle East [pdf]:

When the ability of the political system to provide security for the population breaks down, popular support disappears. Conditions of widespread threat to security are particularly present when food is inaccessible to the population at large. In this case, the underlying reason for support of the system is eliminated, and at the same time there is “nothing tolose,” i.e. even the threat of death does not deter actions that are taken in opposition to the political order. Any incident then triggers death-defying protests and other actions that disrupt the existing order.

Widespread and extreme actions that jeopardize the leadership of the political system, or the political system itself, take place. All support for the system and allowance for its failings are lost. The loss of support occurs even if the political system is not directly responsible for the food security failure, as is the case if the primary responsibilitylies in the global food supply system.

The following chart provides a visual guide:

https://i0.wp.com/www.shtfplan.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/food_riots_complexity_theorists1.gif

(Larger Image)

Chart Explained: Time dependence of FAO Food Price Index from January 2004 to May 2011. Red dashed vertical lines correspond to beginning dates of “food riots” and protests associated with the major recent unrest in North Africa and the Middle East. The overall death toll is reported in parentheses. Blue vertical line indicates the date, December 13, 2010, on which we submitted a report tothe U.S. government, warning of the link between food prices, social unrest and political instability. Inset shows FAO Food Price Index from 1990 to 2011.

The group, led by researcher Marco Lagi, is now warning that their thresholds are about to be broken again. And, this time the implications may be much more serious than before:

The underlying trend of increasing prices will reach the threshold of instability in July 2012, if we consider current prices, and April 2013 if we correct prices for reported ination. Either way, the amount of time until the often warned global food crises appears to be very short. Indeed, consistent with our analysis, the current food price bubble is already subjecting large populations to reported distress, as described in a recent UN report warning of the growing crisis.

We identify a speci c food price threshold above which protests become likely. These observations suggest that protests may reect not only long-standing political failings of governments, but also the sudden desperate straits of vulnerable populations. If food prices remain high, there is likely to be persistent and increasing global social disruption. Underlying the food price peaks we also fi nd an ongoing trend of increasing prices. We extrapolate these trends and identify a crossing point to the domain of high impacts, even without price peaks, in 2012-2013. This implies that avoiding global food crises and associated social unrest requires rapid and concerted action.

It’s clear that Lagi and his colleagues have done the work, and their data make sense, especially given what we’ve seen geo-politically over the last year. Given the way government has thus far attempted to mitigate this economic crisis – which is to make it worse – we are pessimistic about their ability to stop the rising food price trend, and the loss of confidence that will be sure to follow.

As such, the analysis provided suggests that instability due, in large part, to rising food prices is imminent and we have, at best, twenty months before riots and civil unrest come to the streets of America.

Now would be a good time to speed up your SHTF Plans.

References: Cornell University Library, What Really Happened

Author: Mac Slavo
Date: August 24th, 2011
Website: www.SHTFplan.com

 

Kremlin’s Fear of China Drives Its Foreign Policy

Kremlin’s Fear of China Drives Its Foreign Policy

Russia is very concerned about China, but this is driven more by fears about China’s capabilities than any real threats.

Russia perceives China as being highly unpredictable and worries about Beijing’s technological dominance, growing military strength and demographic and economic expansion into Siberia, which is sparsely populated but resource-rich.

Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s saber-rattling in the Far East, while purportedly aimed at protecting the Kuril Islands from a weak Japan, is Moscow’s subtle signal to Beijing.

The real threat for Russia is China’s capabilities. Beijing’s ability to expand its nuclear arsenal is worrisome because at parity levels, Russia’s nuclear deterrent loses credibility in relation to China’s greater counterstrike potential. Thus, fear, which is the dominant factor behind the Kremlin’s policy of maintaining nuclear superiority over China, hinders global efforts to decrease Russia’s nuclear arsenal — in particular, its tactical weapons.

Moscow’s appeals to engage other nuclear states in arms control are implicitly driven by fears of China. But Russia does not fully understand how to engage China and needs the United States to pressure Beijing to talk and for political cover should talks fail. But engaging China on arms control is not practical yet, given the disparities in size and type of each country’s arsenals.

Russia’s urgency to set its foot down amid China’s rise is also driven by unsuccessful attempts to assert itself on many European security issues, namely NATO and U.S. missile defense systems. Moscow has learned its lesson and wants to assure that it has a voice on Asian security matters.

Shared concern over China offers Russia and the United States an opportunity to deepen relations with a strategy to engage and help contain China. Assuaging their concerns will require, among other initiatives, pressuring China to be more transparent about its military, eventually engaging China on arms control, and demonstrating that U.S. and Russian missile defense systems do not undermine China’s strategic weapons.

Such a strategy, however, is wishful thinking for the time being. Historic distrust between Moscow and Washington, as well as the Kremlin’s fear of provoking China, have shaped their dialogue for the past decade or so. But Russia’s and the United States’ place in the global arena will depend largely upon their ability to find the right balance between each other and China.

Alejandro Sueldo is a scholar with the Project on Nuclear Issues of the Center for Strategic & International Studies and author of “Engaging and Contextualizing Russian Nuclear Policy.”

NATO faces ‘catastrophic success’ in Libya

By An Huihou (Jiefang Daily)

Edited and Translated by People’s Daily Online

The Libya war situation recently underwent dramatic changes. French and Britishdefense ministers stressed at the end of July that the Libyan opposition could notdefeat the government forces or capture Tripoli, the capital of Libya, on its own.However, certain media outlets revealed in mid-August that the Libyan opposition wasexpected to capture the capital before the end of August, according to a NATOschedule.

As it turned out, the opposition forces entered Tripoli on Aug. 21. There are two mainreasons for the sudden victory of the opposition forces. First, Western countries notonly launched air strikes and provided a large amount of weapons to the oppositionforces but also sent ground troops to Libya. According to recent media reports, France,the United Kingdom and Italy had dispatched Special Forces to Libya to help theopposition troops finally win the ground war. Second, Western countries reportedlybought over almost all senior officials of the Qaddafi regime. In brief, Western countriesplanned and directed the opposition forces’ capture of Tripoli.

However, the NATO’s victory in Libya is just a miserable victory. First, in order toreduce civilian casualties, the United Nations Security Council authorized NATO toestablish a no-fly zone in Libya. However, the military operations of NATO haveenlarged the civil war, led to tens of thousands of casualties of innocent civilians, madecountless people homeless, and caused severe property damages and a hugehumanitarian disaster.

NATO’s arming of the Libyan Rebels and use of land forces in Libya both violated theSecurity Council’s resolution, which prohibited both actions. In order to overthrow theQadafi’s administration, foster a pro-West government and further control Libya,western countries will use any methods. Fair or foul, they do not care. Therefore, theyhave already failed in morality and justice.

Second, several of the strongest Western countries joined forces, spent a lot of moneyand manpower, and bombed Libya for five months, but they ultimately still had to adoptillegal actions and commanded the Libyan Rebels to take the capital. It could fullyreflect the rudeness, brutality and selfishness of the Western countries. In addition,their actions not only failed to demonstrate their powerful strengths but also revealedtheir weakness, fragility and incapacity.

U.K.-based The Times reported that NATO is generally using the term “catastrophicsuccess” to describe the opposition’s victory. The relationship among various factionsof Libya’s opposition is indeed complicated. Although they have made collective actionsto achieve the goal of overthrowing Qaddafi’s regime, it is very difficult for them toremain united in the post-Qaddafi era. Instead, they are very likely to divide and evencause new conflicts to arise. Furthermore, it is very difficult for Qaddafi’s tribes toaccept the cruel facts, including the losses of their dominant position, authority andinterests.

The international community is universally worried that Libya will likely become thesecond Iraq or Somalia, and some even forecasted that Libya would likely be dividedinto three parts. The war and the inevitable future chaos caused by war will make theLibyan People the biggest victim and affect the regional and global peace and stability.The Western countries will unlikely obtain the rewards that they are coveting.

Western countries have launched the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq over the pastdecade and have participated in the Libyan war in 2011. Although they have all met thegoals of regime changes, have they really achieved victories? The Iraq war waged bythe United States is not worth the costs and has become one of the major reasonsbehind the fall of the United States from its hegemonic position, which is already aconsensus in the international community.

The Afghan war has lasted as long as 10 years, putting those who launched the warinto a dilemma. The Libyan war is no exception and can never become a model forWestern powers’ successful interference in the internal affairs of other countries. The”gunboat diplomacy” era has long passed, and resolving political differences throughnegotiations has become the trend of the times.

Going against the trend of the times, maintaining blind faith in the use of force,imposing the threat of force and even interfering militarily have not only becomeincreasingly difficult but also do harm to others and themselves. As Western countrieshave repeatedly failed to take lessons from their blind moves, it is no wonder they hasembarked on the path of decline.

(Editor:韩莎莎)

The CIA’s Islamist Cover Up

The CIA’s Islamist Cover Up

Ian Johnson

AP Photo/Ben Curtis

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood outside a Cairo court, February 2007. Internal CIA documents describe the movement as a potential ally against Islamist terrorism.

The tenth anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington will be accompanied by the usual solemn political pronouncements and predictable media retrospectives. Pundits will point out that the West’s own economic mismanagement of the past decade has done more to weaken Europe and North America than the Islamists’ attacks. Some others will note how radical Islamists are still strong in Afghanistan and point to the recent downing of a military helicopter with dozens of US troops dead. Still others will use the anniversary to pontificate on how our concerns about Islamism have given racists an excuse to tarnish an entire religion. We will also hear about how the democratic uprisings in the Arab world—Libya being the latest—have undermined Islamists (by providing the region’s disgruntled masses with examples of positive, instead of destructive change).

All of these points are well and good and worth hearing again. But they shouldn’t distract us from a very precise and practical problem that hasn’t been addressed: the refusal of the CIA to disclose the details of its involvement with Islamist groups. In recent weeks, the agency has tried to block sections of a new book that deals with its handling of al-Qaeda before and after September 11. But this is only one part of a large-scale cover-up that Western governments have been perpetrating about decades of ties to Islamist organizations. Until we clarify ourmurky history with radical Islam, we won’t be able to understand the background of the September 11 attacks and whether our strategies today to engage the Muslim world are likely to succeed.

Of course some of this history is well known. The blowback story—how the USarmed the mujahedeen, some of whom morphed into al-Qaeda—has been told inbook and film. We are also getting a sense now of how parts of the US-backed Pakistani military-intelligence complex have actively supported radical Islamists. Collusion between Britain and Islamist movements over the past century has also been explored. And of course, Israel’s support for Hamas as a counterweight to the Palestinian Liberation Organization has gone down as one of the great diplomatic miscalculations of recent history.

But compared to the full scope of the issue, these insights are meager. To date, the Central Intelligence Agency continues to block access to its archives relating to radical Islam or cooperation with Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood. In the course of researching my book on the Brotherhood’s expansion into the West, I applied numerous times under the Freedom of Information Act to see documents concerning events in the 1950s, some of which had been confirmed by already declassified State Department cables. Inevitably the CIA responded with the blanket exception of “national security” to justify denying access to any files.

Said Ramadan

Despite the CIA’s information blockade, it is clear from interviews with CIA operatives and other countries’ intelligence archives that the CIA was courting groups like the Brotherhood as allies in theUS’s global battle against communism. In Egypt, the charge was often made by the government of Gamel Abdel Nasser that the Muslim Brotherhood was in theCIA’s pay. This was also a view of some Western intelligence agencies, which flatly declared that Said Ramadan, the Swiss-based son-in-law of the group’s founder, was a US agent. The agency may have—but for this we need access to its archives—colluded with Ramadan in attempting a coup against Nasser.

The CIA certainly did help the Brotherhood establish itself in Europe, helping to create the milieu that led to the September 11 attacks. The mosque in Munich that Ramadan helped found, for example, became a hotbed of anti-US activity. The man convicted as a key perpetrator of the 1993 attack against the World Trade Center had sought spiritual counseling at the mosque before leaving to carry out his attacks. And in 1998, the man believed to be al-Qaeda’s chief financial officer was arrested near the mosque and also sought spiritual counseling from the mosque’s imam. An investigation based on this arrest traced radical Islamists right to a second mosque—the al-Quds mosque in Hamburg—where three of the four 9/11 pilots worshipped, it but failed to make the final link. This isn’t to say that theCIA was behind the September 11 attacks but that US collusion with Islamists in the Cold War bore bitter fruit in later years—making it imperative that we understand exactly what happened in those seemingly distant years of the 50s, 60s and 70s of the last century.

More recently, despite Washington’s sometimes hostile public rhetoric toward to the Brotherhood, it is clear that the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama have tried to court the movement. Internal CIA analyses from 2006 and 2008, which I obtained, show that the Brotherhood was viewed as a positive force and potential ally—this time not against communism but Islamist terrorism: the Brotherhood was considered a moderate Islamist group and thus able to channel grievances away from violence toward the United States (even if Brotherhood theoreticians did not renounce violence against Israel or US soldiers). The State Department also used US Muslims close to the Brotherhood to reach out to Islamists in Europe. Such support has given these groups legitimacy in the United States and Europe.

The CIA is blocking the release of information because the subject remains sensitive—both for the West and the Muslim world. In Washington, the CIA could come under fire if its own archives would confirm and fill out the current sketch view of history. For the Brotherhood, amid its current re-emergence as a major political force in Egypt and other countries, it would be extremely damaging to know that illustrious figures in its history were working for the country that most exemplifies the decadent, imperialist forces it has struggled against for decades.

Revealing this history could be painful but necessary to strip away the doublespeak that both sides have used to describe their dealings with each other. This isn’t to say that releasing information should be used to bash cooperation with Islamists. Clearly the United States and other Western countries need to deal with groups like the Brotherhood, and perhaps in some situations even to support them: for example if the Brotherhood really were to come to power democratically in Egypt, the United States would be obliged to deal with such a government. For the Brotherhood a case could be made that in past decades, when its members were so badly repressed by authorities in the Middle East, that some sort of help from the West was necessary to avoid destruction by the authoritarian governments that persecute it.

These are legitimate arguments. But they can only be made if the full history of these relationships is made known rather than kept hidden. To do this will require action from Congress. The CIA did not release documents concerning USintelligence dealings with Nazi officials, for example, until it was forced to by the passage of the Nazi War Crimes Disclosure Act of 1998. This piece of legislation compelled US government agencies to release all files on their dealings with the Nazis during and after the war. It lead to an incredible flood of information on the topic, helping us understand, for example, US collaboration with ex-Nazis after the war.

We need a similar law today. This is not to draw a parallel between Islamism and Nazism—an argument that is tendentious and counter-productive. The only parallel is that the US government has dealt with these questionable organizations and is so unwilling to admit this that it will take specific instructions from Congress to make these dealings public. Whatever the merits of these policies they are based on a long-standing, but still mostly secret, strategy. As Western governments seek to distinguish between “good” and “bad” Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, or between the Muslim Brotherhood and more radical groups in the Middle East, understanding this strategy—and its efficacy—has never been more urgent.

Who Controls Kyrgyz Drug Running?

The question of questions: Who sits on the Kyrgyz drug trafficking?

Nicholas Levine

Fergana.ru

Kyrgyzstan has announced that seriously begins to fight Afghan drug trafficking. How justified this claim? How long shall continue the struggle? And, as perceived efforts by their colleagues Kyrgyz Russian intelligence services? About this columnist “Fergana” Nikolay Levin spoke in Moscow with a senior representative of one of the Russian security services who wish not to publicize his name.

– This year you have visited in the Kyrgyz Republic on a business trip. How to assess the situation, which they formed?

– Well, if very brief, as was drug trafficking, and goes through Kyrgyzstan. The most serious danger, as you know, is the smuggling of opiates, primarily heroin. According to our estimates, through Kyrgyzstan from Afghanistan, annually receives about 20-25 tons of heroin and opium. In 2010, shipments grew up with traffic as the total lack of power prevented the fight in the country. Now its value is governed not so much the efforts of law enforcement, as the limited need for markets: Russia so much heroin to “digest” simply can not. Schemes, in general, are well known, the key organizers of this “business” too. I can not say that the intelligence agencies of this country just do nothing. In particular, the reconstituted Committee on Drug Control, which was eliminated under Bakiyev. This year, in cooperation with the Committee there have been several arrests, the latest hands-free operation was a joint near Ekaterinburg a few days ago. But the main stream of poison still passes narkobortsev.

– Why?

– I do not think it will reveal a great secret if I say that this “business” of the roof of the big men of force and other government agencies. Therefore, the local drug lords do not then they do not want to arrest, they can not even kick in, say, from the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

– You said that traffic patterns do not represent a singular mystery.

– Of course. Heroin comes first in the Gorno-Badakhshan, Tajikistan. Then it different ways, including by foot and horse-drawn vehicles, brought to Kyrgyzstan, in Chon-Alai. From there, the road already, a white powder (in fact the Afghan heroin, more likely, cream-colored) vehicles delivered in the base in Osh and Jalal-Abad. Next shipment is sent by one of two routes.The first – in neighboring Uzbekistan. It’s only for ordinary people to the border is closed and the traffic – no. The second route – along the motorway and through the mountains in the Chui region. There again, there are two possibilities: either the heroin is sent to Kara-Balta, and from there to Kazakhstan and on to Russia, or warehoused in Bishkek, where a small portion is taken to various Russian cities by passenger flights, but the bulk is again being moved through Kazakh border for onward carriage to Russia.   (read HERE)

North Africa: Libya – the Criminal Face of Imperialism

North Africa: Libya – the Criminal Face of Imperialism

 

NATO’s assault on Libya, a criminal imperialist war from the outset more than five months ago, has descended into an exercise in out-and-out murder as special forces operatives and intelligence agents hunt down Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

From the beginning, the central objectives of this war have been to seize control of Libya’s oil reserves, the largest on the African continent, and carry out an imperialist show of force as a means of suppressing and diverting the mass popular movements that only months earlier had toppled the US and NATO-backed regimes of Mubarak in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia.

“Operation United Protector,” as NATO dubbed its military onslaught, would have been more accurately described as “Operation Imperialist Gang Rape.” The US, Britain, France and Italy, each pursuing its own interests in Libya and the broader region, managed to unite for the common purpose of “regime-change.”

To achieve this aim, NATO warplanes carried out over 20 000 sorties, destroying schools, hospitals and homes and slaughtering untold numbers of Libyan soldiers, many of them young conscripts.

Flouting the terms of the United Nations resolution authorising “all means necessary” to protect civilians, NATO powers, including the US, France and Britain, sent in special forces troops, military contractor mercenaries and intelligence agents to arm, organize and lead the so-called “rebels,” whose primary function was to draw out Libyan government forces so they could be annihilated from the air.

The pretense that this was a war to protect civilians has been exposed as a moral obscenity, with the death toll in Tripoli alone climbing into the thousands and NATO bombs and missiles continuing to fall in heavily populated areas.

One has to go back to the 1930s when, as today, world capitalism was gripped by a desperate economic crisis to find fitting parallels. Then, mankind was stunned by the savage aggression unleashed in the Italian invasion of Ethiopia, Hitler’s backing of the Sudeten Germans to achieve the carve-up of Czechoslovakia, and the dispatch of the German Condor Legion to bomb Spain on behalf of Franco’s fascist insurgency.

At that time, these violent acts of aggression were seen as part of world capitalism’s descent into barbarism. Today in Libya, similar acts are proclaimed to be a flowering of “humanitarianism” and “democracy.”

During that period, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt appealed to the democratic sensibilities of the American people-while no doubt positioning the US for the pursuit of its own imperialist aims-by demanding a “quarantine” of fascist aggression.

He declared in 1937, “Without a declaration of war and without warning or justification of any kind, civilians, including vast numbers of women and children, are being ruthlessly murdered with bombs from the air.

Nations are fomenting and taking sides in civil warfare in nations that have never done them any harm. Nations claiming freedom for themselves deny it to others. Innocent peoples, innocent nations, are being cruelly sacrificed to a greed for power and supremacy which is devoid of all sense of justice and humane consideration.”

Those words from three quarters of a century ago read like an indictment of the Obama administration and the governments of Cameron, Sarkozy and Berlusconi.

The Nuremberg trials after the Second World War established aggressive war as the “supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

This conception was incorporated into the United Nations, which barred “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

Yet today within the political establishment there is virtually no criticism of the aggressive war carried out by the NATO allies. The scoundrels of the media have fully integrated themselves into the imperialist war machine, literally stepping over corpses and concealing the camera-shy Western dogs of war to better fashion their propaganda about “revolution” and “liberation” in Libya.

The driving force behind the Libyan war is imperialism, aptly described by Lenin as reaction all down the line. It is a war that has been pursued in the predatory interests of finance capital.

It is designed to produce what is being referred to widely in the financial press as a “bonanza,” not only for the major energy conglomerates, but for the banks and corporations, while underpinning the vast fortunes accumulated by the ruling elite by means of financial speculation, the driving down of labor costs in America and Europe, and the exploitation of low-wage labor the world over.

International gangsterism goes hand-in-hand with economic and political criminality at home. Aggression abroad is inseparable from the merciless assault on the living standards and basic rights of broad masses of working people in Europe, America and virtually every major country.

While workers are everywhere being told that there is no money to pay for jobs, education, health care, pensions or vital social services, billions are expended to bomb and invade Libya with no questions asked.

A striking feature of the Libya war is the way it has mobilized behind it a social-political layer of middle class ex-lefts, liberal academics and former protesters.

Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Allegedly Issues Afghan Victory Manifesto

Mullah Mohammad Omar source

AFGHAN Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar has confirmed talks between the insurgency and the US, and laid out a manifesto for a Taliban government that protects private business, exploits the country’s mineral wealth and maintains good foreign relations.

An internet message purportedly written by the one-eyed militant to mark the Islamic festival of Eid al-Fitr claims the Afghan insurgency is close to victory, citing recent foreign troop casualties, Taliban expansionism and the killing of a string of high-level Afghan officials. “All these give us good news of an imminent victory and a bright future,” it said.

This month was the deadliest for US forces in the nearly decade-long conflict, with 66 troops killed, 30 of them when a helicopter was shot down on August 6.

The message appeared to acknowledge mistakes of the former Taliban regime overthrown in October 2001, and seemed aimed at projecting a more mature face to an international community hoping to negotiate an exit from the war in Afghanistan. “The future transformations and developments would not resemble the developments following the collapse of communism, when everything of the country was plundered and the state apparatus damaged entirely,”it said.

“Contrarily, strict measures will be taken to safeguard all national installations, government departments and the advancements that have occurred in the private sector. Professional cadres and national businessmen will be further encouraged, without any discrimination, to serve their religion and their country.”

It confirmed talks between the US and the Taliban, although negotiations were restricted to prisoner release and did not represent “comprehensive negotiation for the solution of the current imbroglio of the country”.

Afghan and US officials this week confirmed secret direct talks between Taliban and US representatives collapsed after Afghan officials leaked details for fear President Hamid Karzai was being sidelined.

On three occasions US officials met Taliban negotiator Tayyab Aga, primarily to discuss the release of US army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who was captured more than two years ago, in return for Afghan prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and Bagram Air Field near Kabul.

But Omar warned in his message there could be no negotiated end to the conflict without the full withdrawal of all foreign troops. A “limited withdrawal” that left behind US military bases would “in no way solve the issue of Afghanistan”, he said.

In what appeared a softening toward the Karzai administration, he insisted the Taliban did not seek to monopolise power. He called on Taliban fighters to pursue self-improvement through daily exercise, reading and religion, and to avoid extortion, kidnapping or random bans that hurt the common man. Intelligence analysts Stratfor said Omar’s message, and recent willingness to negotiate, suggested the Taliban leader was attempting to build support within and outside of Afghanistan in preparation for the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops and the inevitable civil war.

“By opting for negotiations the Taliban, who remain the single largest political force in the country, hope to dominate a post-NATO political dispensation and avoid international isolation,” Stratfor said. “This tactic does not mean the Taliban are moderating; rather they are adjusting to constraints that limit their ability to achieve their goals of resurging to power.”

US Senator Lindsay Graham Meets with Uzbek President Karimov

Uzbekistan: US Senator Meets with President Karimov

Uzbekistan:  US Senator Meets with President Karimov
Presidential Press Service of Uzbekistan
Sen. Lindsey Graham and Amb. George Krol at President Karimov’s residence, August 27, 2011
Sen. Graham’s last attempt to see President Karimov after Uzbek riots in 2005

US Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina was received by President Islam Karimov at his residence in Tashkent on August 27, Uzbek state media reported. Ambassador George Krol, the new US envoy to Tashkent, also attended the meeting. Uzbek TVquoted Karimov as saying Uzbekistan “highly values relations” with the US and has seen “great positive things in our relations, especially most recently.“ According to the typically filtered government reports, the American senator was said to discuss resolution of the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan and ways to stabilize the region.

Gov.uz quoted Graham as stressing the importance of economic renewal and solving social problems in Afghanistan. While official reports didn’t specifically mention the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) which supplies NATO soldiers in Afghanistan, no doubt the senator discussed Tashkent’s crucial role in helping the NDN. Uzbekistan is known to serve as a key transit air hub through Termez and has supplied food and fuel by train as well. The US has been actively involved in promoting business and economic opportunities around the NDN, seeing it as important to security of the region and an evenutal “Silk Road” to prosperity.

Sen. Graham is not a member of the Central Asian Caucus in Congress. Yet he is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and could have a role in deciding whether and how much US assistance is given to the Uzbek government. Under legislation passed in 2004, US military assistance is banned until progress is certified in Uzbekistan on human rights and economic reforms.

Graham, a military lawyer who actually performed an active-duty stint in Afghanistan last year, appears mainly concerned over South Carolina’s failure last year to obtain federal funds for public school jobs and a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study to deepen the Charleston port,McClatchy reports. Yet his position on a powerful Senate committee means he will also have a say in funding the Pentagon, the war in Afghanistan and other related projects like helping Uzbekistan.

Following the Andijan massacre in May 2005, the conservative Sen. Graham accompanied Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and other US senators to meet with Uzbek opposition members and eyewitnesses, and called for a complete investigation in the atrocities, saying at that time that continuation of the relationship was “very difficult, if not impossible, if a government continues to repress its people,” airforce-magazine.com reported. Uzbek officials refused to meet with the senators, and ultimately served an eviction notice on the US, which left the Karshi-Khanabad (K2) airbase it had been leasing.

The question is whether the US needs Uzbekistan so much that it will start waffling on the aid certification. While the State Department is likely to continue to name Uzbekistan a “country of particular concern” (CPC) for its violation of religious freedom, it failed to downgrade Uzbekistanon its annual assessment of global trafficking in persons, despite Tashkent’s lack of progress.

Uzbekistan has not done anything substantive to improve its human rights record , but it has done the next best thing, shy of actual change: created a commission to monitor allegations of the use of forced child labor — which it continues to deny despite reports — and drafted a national human rights action plan .

The “action plan” is a creature of multilateral institutions as well as bilateral relations, where foreign interlocutors try to devise “benchmarks” or incremental steps towards eventual human rights compliance by urging the drafting of plans, training seminars, and progress reports. Like other massive abusers of human rights, Tashkent has learned that just the gesture of drafting a plan, without at all putting it into practice, is enough to keep its foreign critics happy. The new plan contains easy giveaways like a pledge to honor international legal standards over local law — but not release from prison or registration of the activists who actually ensure such rights are protected. Even so, some human rights lawyers are hoping to take the government at its word to push for reforms, and the State Department can now point to this “progress.”

While a few political prisoners have been released from imprisonment in a token gesture, other human rights activists and religious believers continue to be harassed and imprisoned, making certification hard to envision.

Turkmenistan – Telecoms, Mobile and Internet

 

Turkmenistan – Telecoms, Mobile and Internet 

Paul Budde Communication Pty Ltd

Research and Markets, the largest resource for market research information in world providing essential market research reports, industry research, industry analysis, forecasts, market studies, company profiles and country reports.

Executive summary
Turkmenistan’s telecommunications services are considered to be the least developed of all the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries. Poor growth in telecom services can be attributed to a large extent to the slow development of the private sector and state control over most economic activities.
Overall, the telecom market in this poor and predominantly rural country is relatively small but has been trying boldly to expand in recent years. The state-owned Turkmen Telecom has been the primary provider of public telephone, email and Internet services, and through a subsidiary has also been operating a GSM mobile network in competition with a private mobile operator, BCT (BCT became MTS Turkmenistan in 2005). Combined fixed-line and mobile teledensity was around 40% in early 2010. Not surprisingly it has been the mobile services that have been dominating the expansion activity. In 2008 the country saw annual subscription growth in excess of 140%, although growth slowed significantly to about 33% in 2009. As a consequence, in a two-year period Turkmenistan, one of the smallest markets in the region, saw its mobile penetration jump from 8% to 30%.
It had certainly not been smooth sailing over the 2008/09 period as the mobile operators felt the impact of the global financial crisis on their revenues. The monthly ARPU recorded by BCT in Turkmenistan fell more than 70% to less than €10 by the fourth quarter of 2008. The fall was mainly due to the Central Bank of Turkmenistan changing the exchange rate for the Turkmenistani manat (TMM) from 5,200 to the US dollar in December 2007 to 14,250 in mid-2008. By May 2010 the exchange was still 14,250TMT to one US dollar. In local currency terms, BCT’s ARPU fell 24%, from TMM250 in the fourth quarter of 2007 to TMM189 in the fourth quarter of 2008, because of the further dilution of its customer base with the increased level of subscriptions.
Growth of the Internet sector had been seriously stifled back in 2000 when the four existing independent ISPs were forced out of business due to the government’s decision to grant Turkmen Telecom a monopoly over data services. The abrupt closure of the ISPs was consistent with government policy, which required tight control over all communications in the country. Internet access continued to be severely restricted, and the few Internet cafes that existed in Ashgabat were closed down in 2002.
After two decades of repression, the incoming president, Gurbanguli Berdymukhamedov, announced in early 2007 that the government had re-opened Internet cafes in the capital Ashgabat and was set to follow this move in regional centres. One hour of computer time cost about US$4, however, a high price in a country where two-thirds of the population live below the poverty line and the average monthly income was less than US$100. It was not immediately clear how far these reforms would go. By 2010 it was evident that the new president was keeping his promise about keeping the Internet cafes open. There were still considerable restrictions on the use of Internet, however.
Market highlights:

By early 2010 mobile subscribers in Turkmenistan were still relatively low in number, having just passed the 1.5 million mark, being a penetration of almost 30%;
For a number of previous years, growth had been outstanding; mobile subscriber numbers increased by almost 300% in the two year period 2008/09;
The country’s mobile subscriber base was still expanding but the rate had slowed in the second half of 2009 and into 2010;
Fixed-line penetration in Turkmenistan was struggling to break through the 10% penetration barrier, and 2009 had seen the fixed market virtually stagnating and it was not clear where further growth would come from;
Although no updated official figures were available, progress on converting the country’s fixed network from analogue to digital was slow; by 2010 the conversion program still had a long way to go;
Internet growth in the country had been hindered by severe government controls until 2007 when there was an apparent easing of restrictions; this has not, however, seen the expected lift in Turkmenistan’s Internet usage; again, it was hard to confirm the precise situation with the limited official figures available;
There were early signs of broadband Internet access being made available in the country; but a low broadband penetration of 0.05% in 2009 did not look promising.Turkmenistan – key telecom parameters – 2009 – 2010
Category20092010 (e)
Fixed-line services:
Total number of subscribers478,000488,000
Annual change0%2%
Fixed-line penetration (population)9.4%9.4%
Mobile services:
Total number of subscribers (million)1.52.0
Annual change32%33%
Mobile penetration (population)29%38%
(Source: BuddeComm)
This report provides an overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications markets in Turkmenistan. Subjects covered include:

Key statistics;
Market and industry overviews;
Major operators (mobile and fixed);
Regulatory environment;
Infrastructure;
Mobile market;
Internet market.

Web and Mobile Status Report, Central Asia

Kazakhstan & Central Asia Telecommunications Report Q3 2011 

Business Monitor International

Research and Markets, the largest resource for market research information in world providing essential market research reports, industry research, industry analysis, forecasts, market studies, company profiles and country reports.

Business Monitor International’s Central Asia Telecommunications Report provides industry professionals and strategists, corporate analysts, telecommunication associations, government departments and regulatory bodies with independent forecasts and competitive intelligence on Central Asia’s telecommunications industry.

BMI’s Q311 update on the telecoms markets of Kazakhstan and its four Central Asian neighbours is built on new mobile subscriber data for Q111, ending March 31 2011, regulatory data and local press reports. Using this data, we have revised our five-year growth forecasts for the development of the region’s five mobile markets. In addition, we have reviewed our five-year forecasts for the development of Central Asia’s fixed and mobile broadband subscriber markets this quarter. Therefore, we include customers who use devices such as netbooks and USB sticks to connect to the internet wirelessly through a high-speed (3G/HSPA) network; however, we do not include smartphone users, only dedicated mobile data subscriptions. In the past few months, operators in countries such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan have been have been introducing various promotions, to encourage greater data customer growth and service usage.
In December 2010 Kyrgyzstan became the latest Central Asian republic to introduce third-generation (3G) mobile services, although LTE networks had already been launched in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in 2010 by Kazakh mobile market leader K-Cell, which is owned by the Nordic carrier TeliaSonera, and Uzdunrobita operating as MTS Uzbekistan. BMI forecasts that mobile broadband services based on UMTS/HSPA and LTE technology will make a strong contribution to the growth of internet services in Central Asia because of the limited scope of fixed broadband growth due to a lack of existing infrastructure, income-constrained demand and challenging geography. Our new broadband forecasts for Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan envisage stronger growth as a result of the impact of mobile broadband services. In the long term, BMI believes the spread of mobile broadband services have the potential to stifle the success of competing wireless technologies such as WiMAX and satellite. Meanwhile, in November 2010 3G services were launched in Turkmenistan when MTS Turkmenistan launched a 3G network in the capital Ashgabat. However, the following month it was announced that MTS’ operating licence had been suspended by the Turkmen government. At the time of writing, MTS remained offline and was proceeding with its lawsuit against two state-owned operators Turkmentelecom and mobile subsidiary Altyn Asyr, regarding the termination of interconnection agreements. BMI believes the revocation of MTS’ licence will be to the detriment of the Turkmen market in terms of a loss of competition and international expertise.

The Russian foreign ministry announced on March 7 2011 that it will protect the interests of local telecoms operator Mobile TeleSystems (MTS) in its dispute with Turkmenistan. MTS has itself responded by writing to international firms with the aim of discouraging them from investing in Turkmenistan. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkmenistan has expressed its interest in initiating negotiations with the Russian operator on the buyout of its assets in the country.

The situation became a political issue beyond telecoms after the military were called in to control crowds in early April 2011, after hundreds of customers stormed Altyn Asyr stores when it suspended the distribution of SIM cards due to network congestion problems. The operator began offering vouchers that could be used to acquire a SIM card from May 2011. Only public officials or foreign nationals are currently being issued SIM cards. One positive ramification from the SIM issuance suspension is the political pressure it applies to the Turkmen leadership. Earlier in April, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, was forced to respond to the political implications of the SIM shortage by criticising the operator’s poor service. He argued poor work organisation is the cause of the low efficiency. He demanded measures be taken immediately to guarantee the high quality of mobile services across the country and obliged the government to establish private companies and joint ventures with foreign businesses. Huawei Technologies and Nokia Siemens Networks have since won contracts for an urgent upgrade of the Altyn Asyr network, according to local reports.

Iran’s Role in Curtailing Afghan Opium

Iran’s Role in Curtailing Afghan Opium

By Brad L. Brasseur

The recent resurgence of opium production in Afghanistan, notably in Balkh and Badakhshan provinces (as reported by Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit) represents a frightening development for Afghanistan and its neighbors. The ineffectiveness of opium poppy eradication in Afghanistan can be attributed to the Obama administration stopping a military drive to wipe out opium poppy crops in Afghan fields.

Although opium poppies economically sustain thousands of Afghan families, opium production has had serious consequences on the stability of Afghanistan’s regional countries, notably Iran, and Russia. If opium production is increasing today, while the international community is heavily involved in Afghanistan then the potential threat of opium production post-2014 will be even more alarming for Afghanistan’s neighbors.

Iran, with its serious domestic drug problems, is in a strong position to further build up its image in the region and take charge of a process aimed at curtailing the regional opium trade. With its close relationship to the Karzai government, such an engagement could not only potentially alleviate Iran’s drug problems but could also help increase their credibility in the region, including with Russia. In order for Tehran to successfully combat the opium trade, they need to build on the momentum from recent agreements and take the lead on regional approach with other countries that are facing similar challenges.

In light of the withdrawal of international forces in Afghanistan, President Karzai badly needs to increase cooperation and trust building among his neighbors. Iran is one of the few regional countries that have a fairly stable relationship with the Karzai government based on strong economic and trade relations (also helps Karzai receives cash from Tehran). Tehran can use their influence in Kabul to push for increased measures on curtailing opium production.

While it is widely known that Afghanistan is an opium hub, accounting for around 90 percent of global illicit opium production. According to UNDOC 2010 report, 37% of all Afghan heroine travels through Iran before reaching its final markets. Tehran believes that the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan have ignored the drug trade and have allowed drug traffickers to roam free. Moreover, Tehran believes that they have not received gratitude for their strong efforts in fighting the Afghan drug trade whose destination is usually Europe.

Iran has almost done everything in its power to combat its serious drug problem as it threatens the stability of their country and exhausts its military and financial resources. National efforts have been undertaken to hold back the flow of drugs and Tehran has spent millions of dollars, simply constructing trenches, concrete dams, planting minefields, and deploying thousands of troops to secure its border with Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite some achievements in obstructing smugglers, Tehran’s measures, like other regional countries, have been relatively ineffective, mainly due to the vast organized network of the drug traffickers and their advanced technological equipment.

The bottom-line is that success depends on increasing regional cooperation as there are significant limits to what any state can achieve through fighting the Afghan drug trade alone. Moving forward Iran will need to further increase its cooperation and intelligence sharing with the other regional neighbors under threat, most notably Russia.

The UNDOC points to Russia being the country that has experienced the worst effects from the Afghan drug trade. Recently, the head of Russia’s federal drug control agency Victor Ivanov lashed out at NATO for not doing enough to curtail the production of drugs in Afghanistan. He stated that around 90% of the 30,000 heroine deaths each year come from Afghanistan. In order to combat the drug trade, Iran and Russia have initially teamed up with the three other Caspian Sea states (Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan) and agreed to form ‘a Caspian Anti-Drug Information Center”.

While, this represents an important step as it includes two regional powers Russia and Iran using their common interest in a similar manner to their strategy in Tajikistan, where they stopped Turkey and the United States from expanding their influence in the region. The pressing need for addition cooperation among regional countries is needed before true steps in combating the opium trade can take place as the United States has shown no signs in changing their position on eradicating opium in Afghanistan(despite recent joint drug patrols with Russia troops).

In light of the transfer of security in Afghanistan from international troops to Afghan National Security Forces, increased cooperation through a multi lateral approach will be vital moving forward in the fight against the illicit Afghan drug trade. Such an approach can be successful with Iran is in the lead with close cooperation from Russia and other regional countries, including the Caspian Sea states and the Central Asian states.

Brad L. Brasseur works on Afghanistan-Pakistan at the EastWest Institute in Brussels. The views of the above article are not attributed to the EastWest Institute but rather to the individual himself.

Afghanistan invites bids for Hajigak iron deposit

Afghanistan invites bids for Hajigak iron deposit

Posted by 

 

Jan 19 (Reuters) – Afghanistan on Wednesday invited 22 companies, including 15 from India, to bid for its giant Hajigak iron ore deposit despite concerns over a worsening insurgency.

The country’s Mines Ministry set Aug. 3, 2011 as the deadline for bids for what it says is the largest unmined iron deposit in Asia. It said it expected exploration to begin in 2012, pressing ahead with the project despite security concerns weighing on investors.

The Hajigak deposit straddles Bamiyan, Parwan and Wardak provinces, with only Bamiyan relatively peaceful. The ministry estimates the worth of its reserves at as much as $350 billion.

The United States has trumpeted Afghanistan’s rich mineral deposits as the key to future prosperity, but experts say the bounty is years, even decades away and point to massive security and infrastructure challenges for potential investors.

Violence in Afghanistan is at it worst since U.S-backed forces overthrew the Taliban in late 2001 with record casualties on all sides and a raging insurgency spreading to once-peaceful areas of the country.

The government has a specially trained force to protect mines and other infrastructure, with many of its members drawn from villages surrounding the asset under guard.

The ministry said the interested companies included India’s Jindal Steel and Power Ltd , JSW Steel , Tata Steel , NMDC , Steel Authority of India and Ispat Industries . UK-based Stemcor was also named, as well as Canadian-based Kilo Goldmines Ltd .

“The development of Hajigak will involve major infrastructure improvements and will stimulate the local economy and improve and lives of the citizens of Bamiyan province and beyond,” Mines Minister Wahidullah Shahrani said in a statement.

United Mining and Minerals Co. was the only Chinese company on the list, the ministry said.

China’s top integrated copper producer, Jiangxi Copper Co , and Metallurgical Corp of China are developing the vast Aynak copper mine south of Kabul after they were handed the contract in 2007. The $4 billion project is the biggest non-military investment in the country so far.

Metallurgical Corp pulled out of an earlier tender for Hajigak in 2009 following accusations it had won the Aynak contract by giving bribes. The firm denied the charges.

The Mines Ministry cancelled the tender, blaming the cancellation on the global recession and changes in the world market structure for iron. (Reporting by Matt Robinson, additional reporting by Hamid Shalizi, editing by Miral Fahmy)

Afghan govt derailed US talks with Taliban

Afghan govt derailed US talks with Taliban

By Anwar Iqbal
Pakistan had also been kept in the dark about the talks, said the original Associated Press report which was later confirmed by senior US counter-terrorism officials who spoke to various US media outlets. — File Photo

WASHINGTON: US officials confirmed on Monday a media report that the Afghan government deliberately leaked details of the United States’ secret meetings with a Taliban emissary, scuttling the US-Taliban talks and sending the intermediary into hiding.

Pakistan had also been kept in the dark about the talks, said the original Associated Press report which was later confirmed by senior US counter-terrorism officials who spoke to various US media outlets.

According to the AP report, the Taliban insurgents also wanted to keep Pakistan out of the talks and had asked their American
interlocutors not to share details of the meetings with Islamabad.

The United States, however, held separate meetings with the Pakistanis as well to assess how they would react to a possible deal with the Taliban. The Americans believe that senior Taliban leaders are hiding in Pakistan.

As part of these efforts, US Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Senator John Kerry had met Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani in a Gulf country last month.

In this marathon eight-hour meeting, peace talks with Afghanistan’s insurgents featured prominently, the report said.

A US official familiar with the talks said Gen Kayani made a pitch during his marathon meeting with Senator Kerry that Pakistan should take on a far larger role in Afghanistan peacemaking.

The AP report, however, observed that “the United States considers Pakistan an essential part of an eventual deal, but neither the US nor Pakistan trusts the other’s motives in Afghanistan”.

According to the report, the US met at least three times with Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar’s personal intermediary Tayyab Aga, who has now gone into hiding in Europe fearing for his life. The Afghan government, angry at Washington’s
decision to confer secretly with the Taliban emissary, intentionally leaked details of the talks.

The leak that scuttled the talks stemmed from Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s fear that US-Taliban talks would leave him on the sidelines and undercut his authority. The officials said someone in the presidential palace, where Mr Karzai’s office is
located, intentionally made the information public.

US officials, however, said that Washington would continue to pursue negotiations, although it had not had direct contact with Mr Aga in months.

The talks between Mr Aga and US officials were preliminary but had begun to show promise. The breakdown of the discussions has ended, for now, the possibility of a brokered agreement between the US and the Taliban.

The US had offered small concessions to the Taliban just before the leak to help move talks forward. These included the US promising not to block the Taliban from opening an office in a third country, allowing Mr Aga to safely travel to Germany and
handling the Taliban and Al Qaeda differently under international sanctions. The US and the Taliban also discussed the release of a captured US soldier and Taliban fighters.

A member of the Afghan High Peace Council told the AP that the leak showed just how much distrust existed among the major players in any potential peace deal. He said the US, the Afghan Government, the High Peace Council and the Afghan National
Security Council were all conducting secret, uncoordinated talks.

Fate of Egyptian revolution uncertain

Fate of Egyptian revolution uncertain

David A. Super

Americans like to think of revolutions as simple one-act plays. The colonists rose up against the British, ultimately defeated them at Yorktown and won liberty for us all.

In fact, it was more complicated. The nation’s future was by no means certain in the period following victory. George Washington struggled to keep the Continental Army from revolting after Congress refused to raise taxes to honour its salary commitments. And, of course, it took 80 years before the country began extending the blessings of liberty to the millions held in slavery.

So too today is the fate of the Egyptian revolution uncertain. We wanted to believe that the drama had reached its final, happy conclusion when Hosni Mubarak resigned in the face of widespread demonstrations. But the struggle was not over.

The military replaced Mubarak, an air force general, with a committee of other generals, and this junta has retained many stalwarts of the Mubarak regime. Secret military courts have sentenced civilian bloggers and other activists to long prison terms for criticising the military. Escalating sectarian violence has frightened millions of Egyptian Christians. The security police continue to arrest and torture peaceful demonstrators, even subjecting female protesters to “virginity tests” in front of male soldiers, according to Amnesty International.

Elections have been scheduled, but without a democratic constitution or credible election laws, it is unclear how free they will be. Despite Egypt’s history of corrupt elections, the generals are so far refusing to allow international monitoring. Indeed, in pursuit of an apparent alliance with the Muslim Brotherhood, the generals initially scheduled the elections immediately following the month of Ramadan. This ploy would inhibit secular parties’ campaigning while giving Islamists captive audiences five times a day in the mosques. The military has quickly recognised Islamist parties but stalled registration of secular ones.

After tens of thousands of people turned out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, birthplace of the revolution, to protest, the election date was modified slightly. But the army is increasingly allowing heavily armed thugs to move through its lines to attack and sometimes kill peaceful democracy advocates. Two weeks ago, the army itself swept through Tahrir Square, beating and arresting demonstrators and forcibly ending the protest.

The coming months will be a crucial time in determining Egypt’s future, and it’s worth again considering the lessons of our own revolution as the US considers how to aid the cause of democracy. We tend to forget the crucial role that foreign support played in our revolution. Without Lafayette, Rochambeau and the French fleet blocking British reinforcements, Yorktown might have ended very differently.

The US role in Egypt is not as direct as that, but this country does have the ability to influence the Egyptian junta’s treatment of peaceful demonstrators. The United States gives more than $1 billion in military aid each year to Egypt, and hundreds of millions more has been committed to the nation since Mubarak fell.

We can’t allow Egyptian leaders to hide behind that support. In some countries in the region, regime troops have deliberately used weapons marked “Made in USA” against demonstrators. One democracy activist in the region reported that the secret police played a recording of President Obama’s speech at Cairo University while torturing him, emphasising that American words about freedom and human rights were hollow.

To date, the United States has played into the hands of oppressive regimes trying to cling to power. Vice President Joe Biden insisted that Mubarak was not a dictator, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton characterised Syrian President Bashar Assad as a reformer, undercutting and demoralising brave Egyptians and Syrians as they risked their lives for democracy.

The Arab media have mocked the Obama administration’s self-described policy of “leading from behind.”

MCT

ERGENEKON, SLEDGEHAMMER and FETHULLAH GULEN MOVEMENT

[Readers should be aware of the Zionist MEMRI source of the following explanation of the current Turkish political scene.  Either ignore it, or take it with a grain of salt, but the Israeli mind-twisters are projecting Ergenekon and Sledgehammer as false flag deceptions by the Turkish Islamists’ party, JDP  (Islamist Justice and Development Party), which just might be true.  In my reading of these things, I think that Ergenekon is a smokescreen thrown-up by the CIA-backed Gulen Islamists, to turn the Turkish people against their military leaders before Turkey reaches a point of absolute crisis, when the military just might be needed.  The “Ergenekon” investigation into the old Turkish Gladio network put in place by NATO, was generated by the discovery of a crate of grenades and the investigation into how they got buried in the first place.  The investigation revealed the Gladio-type “Sledgehammer” plot that was on somebody’s books, similar to Operation Northwoods, the American version of the same plot-type.  Northwoods, like Sledgehammer, were plots intended to implicate leftists and liberals in seditious plots against the state.  These “stay-behind networks,” like the Turkish “Deep State” are old plots, concerning old, perhaps outdated weaponry, representing little threat to the state today.

The real threat from these Deep State elements, which are busily at work undermining every country on the planet, is not from these old networks, but from the new conspiracies, which have sprung-up from the military and spy service personnel who were involved in the original plots.  Today’s conspirators operate in an entirely different manner, no longer content with simple false-flag attacks intended to defame and slander liberals and leftists, today they sponsor terrorism outright, for the seditious purpose of staging destabilizing governments.  Even though both the new terror-masters and the old Gladio killers are pushing terrorism as an excuse for military intervention, the excuse of providing covert resistance to an invading power has been cast aside, in favor of instigating outright insurrection.  

The real plot involves CIA-related interests and “private security” arrangements, promoting the “moderate Islamist” power structure.  Turkish interests are used to project CIA activities in the Middle East and Central Asia.  Uncovering the CIA/Gulen connection is the most important investigation that has yet to begin.  Getting past the smokescreen of Ergenekon is just the beginning.]   

ERGENEKON, SLEDGEHAMMER, AND THE POLITICS OF TURKISH JUSTICE: CONSPIRACIES AND COINCIDENCES

Since it was launched in June 2007, the Ergenekon investigation has become the largest and most controversial case in recent Turkish history, resulting in over 300 people being charged with a membership of what is described as a clandestine terrorist organization seeking to destabilize the country’s Islamist government. In the parallel Sledgehammer investigation, 195 members of the fiercely secularist Turkish military stand accused of plotting a coup in 2003. Yet not only is the evidence in both cases deeply flawed, there are also increasing indications that much of it has been fabricated.

 

On June 12, 2007, acting on an anonymous tip-off, the Turkish police discovered a crate of grenades in a shantytown in the Istanbul suburb of Umraniye in the beginning of what later became known as the Ergenekon investigation. By May 2011, a motley collection of over 300 people had been formally charged with membership of what public prosecutors described as the “Ergenekon terrorist organization,” which was allegedly plotting to use violence to try to destabilize the government of the moderate Islamist Justice and Development Party (JDP). In January 2010, prosecutors launched a parallel investigation into claims that members of the Turkish military had plotted to stage a coup against the JDP in early 2003. By May 2011, 195 serving and retired members of the Turkish military had been formally charged with involvement in the alleged plot.

In a country where conspiracy theories are rife and where the Turkish military has a record of intervening in the political arena, initially at least, many were prepared to take the allegations at face value. However, as the investigations progressed, another–more disturbing–picture began to emerge. From the outset, the investigations were characterized by outlandish claims and numerous abuses of due process. The indictments against the accused ran to thousands of pages. Yet not only were they riddled with absurdities and contradictions, but they contained no convincing proof that either the Ergenekon organization or the coup plot existed. On the contrary, some of the evidence adduced to support the prosecutors’ claims had clearly been fabricated.

Equally troubling was the profile of the accused, particularly in the Ergenekon case. Not only was there no proof that they were members of Ergenekon but they held disparate views, covering almost the entire political spectrum except for the Islamist right. Indeed, the only characteristic that the accused all appeared to share was an opposition to the JDP; and particularly to the movement inspired by the exiled Islamist preacher Fethullah Gulen, which has been the JDP’s more important political ally.

 

COUPS, CONSPIRACIES AND THE DEEP STATE

 

For most of the last 50 years, politics in Turkey has been conducted under the watchful eye of the country’s military. Fiercely secular and nationalistic, it seized power in full-blooded coups in 1960 and 1980. In 1971, it forced the elected government from office and replaced it with a government of technocrats. Most recently, in 1997, the military instigated a campaign of pressure and persuasion to topple modern Turkey’s first ever Islamist-led government. Even between interventions, the military effectively set parameters for civilian governments, which varied both over time and between policy areas; with military control being tightest on issues that were regarded as being strategic or security-related and relatively loose in areas such as the economy.

Yet by the beginning of the twenty-first century, the military’s political influence was based mainly on bluff and bluster. Its past record of staging coups and its still considerable public prestige meant that few civilian governments were brave enough to defy a warning from the Turkish General Staff (TGS). Nevertheless, there was a general awareness inside the officer corps that–even if they had wanted to do so–a seizure of power was impossible in all but the most extreme of circumstances. The price had simply become too high.

Unlike in 1980, when the military had last staged a full-blooded coup, Turkey was now integrated into the global economy and vulnerable to shifts in international investor confidence. The end of the Cold War and the disappearance of the perceived threat from the Soviet Union had made the United States less willing to tolerate military regimes among its allies; particularly in a country that, since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Washington had been touting to the Islamic world as an example of a Muslim, pro-Western democracy. In addition, in December 1999, Turkey had been named as an official candidate for EU accession; a process that still enjoyed overwhelming public support when the JDP first came to power in November 2002 and that would have been immediately suspended if the Turkish military had seized power.

As a result, although many members of the officer corps wanted General Hilmi Ozkok, who had been appointed chief of the TGS in August 2002, to warn repeatedly the new JDP government to preserve the secular state, they were also aware that their options were limited if the JDP refused to take his advice. In the event, much to the frustration of his subordinates, Ozkok adopted a low profile and rarely attempted to apply pressure on the government.[1]

In addition to direct pressure on the government, one of the means by which members of the Turkish military had traditionally exercised political influence was through the networks known to Turks as the derin devlet, or “deep state.” The Turkish deep state had its origins in the Gladio-style organizations created by NATO during the Cold War in order to form the basis of a resistance movement in the event of a Soviet occupation of an alliance member. Selected members of the Turkish military received specialized training in covert warfare and intelligence gathering in what was called the Special Warfare Unit (SWU). They subsequently returned to their units, where they pursued a normal career path in parallel to their new responsibilities. In theory, this meant remaining in a state of readiness for a possible Soviet invasion. In practice, many put their newly-acquired skills to immediate use; running intelligence-gathering networks, planting black propaganda and even becoming involved on the side of the rightists in the factional fighting that brought Turkey to the brink of civil war during the 1970s–not least because they regarded the Turkish leftist movement as a Soviet fifth column.

However, contrary to the image in the popular imagination, the deep state was never a single, centrally-controlled organization. In fact, officers were specifically trained to create small, self-contained cell networks, in which only one member of each cell had contact with anyone else from the same network. As a result, it would probably be more accurate to speak of the Turkish deep state in the plural, in which there was a multitude of autonomous and semi-autonomous groups, gangs, and networks, which shared merely common goals and–if the need arose–an ability to ensure that they enjoyed immunity from prosecution.

The end of the Cold War robbed the SWU of its original raison d’être. In the early 1990s, it was closed down and replaced by a new unit, which focused on conventional counter-insurgency training. Yet the disappearance of the Soviet threat came at a time when the deep state had shifted its focus to trying to combat the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (KWP), which in 1984 had launched a violent campaign for greater rights for Turkey’s Kurdish minority. There is considerable evidence to suggest that through the late 1980s and early 1990s, SWU-trained officers played a key role in what rapidly became a dirty war against the KWP; recruiting KWP defectors, forming links with ultranationalist elements in the Turkish underworld, and running death squads responsible for the deaths of hundreds–probably thousands–of Kurdish nationalists and KWP sympathizers.

By the late 1990s, the KWP was in retreat. In 1999, following the capture and imprisonment of its leader Abdullah Ocalan, the KWP announced an indefinite suspension of violence. At the time of Ocalan’s capture, the influence of the deep state was already in decline. With the KWP insurgency apparently contained, the groups and networks that had been formed to combat it either disintegrated or turned full-time to organized crime. No new members were being trained in the SWU. Many officers who had received covert training in the past either retired or concentrated on pursuing a conventional career. Those who remained active focused almost exclusively on intelligence gathering, particularly against the growing Islamist movement.[2]

 

FROM PLAUSIBLE PARANOIA TO THE POLITICS OF THE ABSURD

 

On April 27, 2007, General Yasar Buyukanit, a hard-line secularist who had replaced Ozkok as head of the military in August 2006, posted a memorandum on the TGS website implicitly threatening a coup if the JDP pushed ahead with its plans to appoint Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul to the Turkish presidency a move secularists feared would give the JDP a stranglehold over the apparatus of state. The JDP responded by calling an early general election for July 22, 2007, which it won by a landslide, taking 46.6 percent of the popular vote. On August 28, 2007, Gul was sworn in as president. Buyukanit did nothing.

Despite Ozkok’s lack of assertiveness, during its first term in power, the JDP was sincerely convinced that the TGS might stage a coup and tried to avoid doing anything that could provoke the military. The decision to hold an early election was the first time it had effectively called the military’s bluff. Buyukanit’s passive response to Gul’s election as president demonstrated to the JDP what many in the military already knew; namely that the military was now powerless to respond if the civilian government ignored its warnings. The result was a massive surge in confidence among the JDP and its supporters, and a rapid expansion of the Ergenekon investigation.

On October 5, 2007, Zekeriya Oz, the main prosecutor in the Ergenekon case, applied to Police Headquarters in Istanbul for details of a string of assassinations, racist murders, terrorist attacks, and even protest marches going back to 2002. On January 21, 2008, the police arrested 27 people on charges of membership of the organization, which had allegedly hidden the crate of grenades in Umraniye. Two of those detained were retired military officers widely regarded as having been involved in the death squads that had terrorized southeast Turkey in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their arrest triggered excited speculation in the Turkish media that, freed from the threat of a military intervention, the JDP was finally going to bring to justice those responsible for one of the darkest chapters in modern Turkish history. However, it soon became evident that something else was going on, although initially it was unclear whether it was politically motivated or simple paranoia.

From the evidence subsequently presented in court, it is clear that when he applied to the police in October 2007, Oz had not uncovered anything to link those in custody with the files he had requested. The doubts intensified through the first half of 2008, as wave after wave of arrests led to the detention of scores of suspected members of what the pro-JDP media was now confidently referring to as the “Ergenekon” organization,[3] which they claimed was synonymous with the deep state. Yet the profile of those detained suggested something different. Those named in the arrest warrants included university rectors, lawyers, journalists, television presenters, the author of some erotic novels, retired generals, the head of the Ankara Chamber of Commerce, and even Turhan Comez, a dissident former parliamentary deputy from the JDP who had resigned in 2007 in protest at Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s authoritarian management style. Indeed, the only thing that all of the detainees appeared to have in common was opposition to the JDP.

More worrying was the regularity with which, starting in spring 2008, transcripts of wiretaps– some of alleged Ergenekon members, others of government opponents or those who had begun to question the Ergenekon investigation-began to appear in pro-JDP newspapers and on pro-JDP websites. Under Turkish law, both the tapping of telephones by private individuals and the publication of the contents of court-approved wiretaps are crimes. Yet no attempt was made to investigate the sources of the leaks.

The first indictment in the Ergenekon case was published on July 10, 2008. A total of 2,455 pages in length, it formally charged 86 suspects with “membership of an armed terrorist organization” and “inciting the people to armed rebellion against the government of the Turkish Republic.” It maintained that Ergenekon was a single, centrally-coordinated, hierarchical organization, which had been responsible for every act of political violence in Turkey over the previous 20 years. The indictment further argued that the organization was controlling every military group active in the country–from the Marxist Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party/Front (RPLP/F) to the KWP and the Islamist organization known as the Turkish Hizballah (unrelated to the Lebanese organization of the same name). Yet, despite its extraordinary length, the indictment provided no convincing proof to support its claims. More remarkably, neither did it provide any evidence that Ergenekon even existed, much less that the accused were members. Indeed, the indictment was so riddled with absurdities and contradictions that it frequently defied credulity. For example, on page 81, it asserted that Ergenekon planned to “manufacture chemical and biological weapons and then, with the high revenue it earned from selling them, to finance and control every terrorist organization not just in Turkey but in the entire world.”[4]

Nevertheless, the indictment was hailed by the pro-JDP media, particularly Zaman, the daily newspaper of the Fethullah Gulen Movement (FGM), which described it as “analyzing a contra-guerilla organization with cogent reasoning and fluent language.”[5] Indeed, by summer 2008, the FGM’s media outlets had become a major player in the Ergenekon case, repeatedly running stories about “evidence” it claimed investigators had uncovered and conducting smear campaigns against those who questioned the conduct of the case, several of whom were subsequently detained and themselves charged with membership in Ergenekon.

The concerns about the real motives of the Ergenekon investigation increased as hundreds more suspects were taken into custody through late 2008 and into 2009. They included an improbable array of academics, journalists, retired members of the police, serving and retired members of the military, doctors, businessmen, actresses, charity workers, politicians, and even a transsexual concert organizer. Two more prodigiously long indictments followed. The second indictment of March 8, 2009, ran to 1,909 pages and charged 56 people with membership in Ergenekon. The third indictment of July 19, 2009, was 1,454 pages long, and accused a further 52 people of belonging to the organization. As with the first indictment, both documents were strewn with absurdities and contradictions and failed to provide any convincing proof that Ergenekon existed much less that the accused were members.

More disturbing were increasing signs that the case was being used as an instrument of intimidation. For example, pages 188-189 of the third indictment contain a transcript of a tapped telephone conversation from December 2008 between the Ergenekon suspect Professor Mehmet Haberal and the former JDP Minister Abdulatif Sener, in which the latter discussed a recent family holiday in Spain. Nothing else was mentioned, and Sener was not charged. However, the indictment was published at a time when JDP supporters were concerned about the possibility of Sener establishing a rival political party. Similarly, the third indictment also includes a transcript of a tapped telephone conversation between one of the more elderly male suspects and his young mistress. The conversation is so brief and innocuous that it is difficult to explain its inclusion in the indictment except as a means of psychological intimidation.

 

THE NARROWING FOCUS

 

In recent years, the provision of educational scholarships in Turkey has become dominated by Islamist organizations, such as the FGM, which currently provides financial support for tens of thousands of students, many of whom live in dormitories regulated in accordance to the FGM’s values and precepts. There are only two large non-religious organizations that provide educational scholarships: the Association for the Support of Contemporary Living (ASCL) and the Daddy, Send Me to School (DSMTS) campaign, which specializes in providing financial assistance to enable young girls in the east of Turkey to attend school. On the morning of April 13, 2009, police raided ASCL and DSMTS offices across the country, seizing computers and taking staff–most of them women–into custody. The police later announced that they had received intelligence that the two organizations were recruiting students to Ergenekon and then using them to infiltrate and control terrorist organizations. Most of the members of the ASCL and DSMTS staff were later released, albeit after spending up to 60 hours in custody. It was several months, however, before the police returned the computers, thus severely disrupting the ability of the organizations to function. After a lengthy investigation, on March 18, 2011, seven executives from the ASCL appeared in court on charges of belonging to Ergenekon.

In retrospect, the raids of April 13, 2009, can be seen to have marked a turning point in the Ergenekon investigation. Few impartial observers inside or outside the country genuinely believed that the ASCL and DSMTS were grooming children in order to control terrorist organizations. Yet the relentless disinformation and defamation campaigns by the pro-JDP media and the alacrity with which critics of the Ergenekon investigation were themselves imprisoned or intimidated into silence meant that few Turks were prepared to speak out. Emboldened, those driving the investigation gradually abandoned any attempt to disguise its real purpose.

Starting in 2007, Ilhan Cihaner, a public prosecutor in the eastern province of Erzincan, had begun investigating the activities of local elements of the FGM and another Islamist organization known as Ismailaga, including allegations that they were using their connections with leading members of the JDP to fix state contracts. In late 2009, the JDP began to try to pressure Cihaner to drop his investigation. He refused. They then tried to have him suspended for alleged abuse of office. Eventually, they succeeded in physically removing him from his office and transferring his investigations to Osman Sanal, the public prosecutor from the nearby province of Erzurum, who was widely regarded as being sympathetic to the JDP. The investigations were then quietly shelved. On February 17, 2010, Cihaner was arrested and charged with membership in Ergenekon.

In August 2010, Hanefi Avci, the veteran head of the police in the central Anatolian city of Eskisehir published a book of memoirs.[6] During the 1970s and 1980s, Avci had frequently been accused of overseeing the torture, and sometimes disappearance, of leftist activists. Personally pious, Avci had long been regarded as being sympathetic to the FGM and had even sent his children to schools run by the organization. Yet in his book, Avci claimed that his conscience would not allow him to remain silent in the face of what he described as the infiltration of the police force and judiciary by the FGM, who he alleged were protecting corrupt members of the JDP, fixing appointments and promotions, and fabricating evidence against perceived opponents of the movement. On September 28, 2010, two days before he was due to hold a press conference at which he had promised to provide documentary evidence to support his claims, Avci was arrested and charged with membership in a militant leftist organization. On March 14, 2011, while he was still in prison pending trial, Avci was also formally charged with membership in Ergenekon.

Through 2009 and 2010, a series of anonymous tip-offs had resulted in investigators uncovering what they claimed were secret arms caches belonging to Ergenekon. Yet the discoveries had raised more questions than they had answered; not least because they contained material of no obvious military value for a covert organization, such as empty shell casings and ammunition for an anti-aircraft gun but no gun. More bizarrely, many of the small number of weapons that would have been genuinely useful–such as assault rifles–had been buried in damp soil wrapped only in newspaper, something no one with even the most basic knowledge of firearms would ever have done. On February 14, 2011, police raided the premises of an anti-JDP internet television channel called OdaTV as it prepared to post footage on its website apparently showing members of the police planting weapons in the alleged Ergenekon arms dumps. Four OdaTV employees were arrested and charged with membership in Ergenekon.

On March 3, 2011, investigators ordered the detention of nine journalists who were known for their opposition to the FGM. All were subsequently charged with membership in Ergenekon. They included Nedim Sener of the daily Milliyet, who had won international press awards for his work on the alleged involvement of the security forces in political assassinations, and Ahmet Sik, a left-wing reporter for the daily Radikal. Sik had recently completed the first draft of a still unpublished book on the activities of the FGM in the police entitled The Imam’s Army. On March 25, 2011, the police raided the offices of Radikal and Sik’s prospective publisher and deleted every digital copy they could find of Sik’s manuscript. Prosecutors subsequently refused to allow Sik’s lawyers to see a copy of the manuscript they had taken from his home computer on the grounds that it had been produced by a “terrorist organization”. Yet on March 27, 2011, pro-JDP newspapers, such as Zaman, published detailed of a leaked 49-page police report on the book, including copious quotations. However, Sik had already taken precautions. On March 31, 2011, a copy of his manuscript appeared anonymously on the internet and immediately went viral recording over 100,000 downloads in the first 48 hours.

As if to confirm the allegations in Sik’s book, on March 30, 2011, the day before his text appeared on the internet, police raided premises associated with seven Islamic theologians, and confiscated documents and computer files. The only characteristic that the seven shared was that each had questioned Gulen’s credentials as a theologian.

 

SLEDGEHAMMER

 

Since January 2010, the Ergenekon investigation has been running parallel to what has become known as the “Sledgehammer” case, after the alleged codename of a purported coup plot. On January 20, 2010, an article by a journalist called Mehmet Baransu appeared in the daily newspaper Taraf. Though largely staffed by anti-militarist leftists, the publication has long been vigorously supported by the FGM. Baransu claimed that an anonymous member of the military had provided him with a suitcase full of documents containing details of a planned coup, which had been discussed at a seminar at the Turkish First Army Headquarters in Istanbul on March 5-7, 2003. Over the weeks that followed, scores of serving and retired members of the military were arrested on charges of complicity in the alleged coup attempt.

Doubts about the plausibility of a coup plot being debated at a seminar attended by 162 members of the military were reinforced when it emerged that First Army Commander General Cetin Dogan had ordered audio recordings of what he claimed were discussions not of coup plots but war gaming scenarios similar to those that are conducted in all other NATO countries. Suspicions about the plausibility of the alleged coup plots had been further fuelled by stories that appeared in the pro-JDP media–apparently based on sources involved in the investigation–through early 2010. For example, one of the elements of the coup plot the pro-JDP media claimed was discussed at the seminar on March 5-7, 2003, was a plan to try to destabilize the country by bombing a mosque on February 28, 2003.

Any possibility that such inconsistencies were the result of clerical errors was demolished by the “evidence’ contained in the Balyoz indictment, which was finally completed on July 6, 2010. Although Baransu had been given 2,229 pages of documents, 19 data CDs, and 10 audio cassettes, all of the material related to the purported coup plot was contained on just one CD, which was named “No. 11” in the indictment.[7] The other CDs and hard copies were all genuine documents, which had apparently been stolen from the military’s archives, including some dating back 30 years.

According to a forensic report presented to the court, the metadata of CD No. 11 showed that all of its contents had been burned to the disk in a single session on March 5, 2003, and there had been no subsequent additions, deletions, or changes. However, the documents on the CD contained numerous errors and inaccuracies. Most damning were the anachronisms. For example, the CD contained a list of newspapers, including Gurcu Ekspres (which was not established until September 12, 2003) and Ilk Adim (founded August 15, 2005). A list of NGOs regarded as being sympathetic to a coup in 2003 included the Turkiye Genclik Birligi, which was not founded until 2006. A list of pharmaceutical companies that would be taken over during the coup included a reference to Yeni Recordati Ilac. Yet in March 2003, the company was called Yeni Ilac and did not acquire its new name until October 2008, when it was bought by an Italian company. Similarly, another document referred to NATO’s southern command as CC MAR NAPLES. However, in March 2003, it was called Headquarters Allied Naval Forces Southern Europe (HQ NAVSOUTH). It was not called CC MAR NAPLES until July 2004.

CD No. 11 includes hundreds of other similar errors and anachronisms. The unavoidable conclusion is that the documents have been fabricated and the clock on a computer changed–which is a very straightforward procedure–in a clumsy attempt to make it look as if they were part of a coup plot discussed at the seminar in March 2003.

On December 6, 2010, acting on an alleged anonymous tip-off, investigators raided the Turkish naval base in Golcuk on the Sea of Marmara and found another haul of documents and CDs. The pro-JDP media hailed the finds and, ignoring the documents cited in the Sledgehammer indictment, began to trumpet the new evidence as conclusive proof that the coup plans were genuine. However, it soon became clear that the material from Golcuk was as riddled with errors and anachronisms as the documents given to Baransu. For example, one of the documents has a reference to a naval vessel being part of the Turkish fleet in 2003, whereas it did not actually join the fleet until 2005.

As more inconsistencies in the Golcuk documents emerged, on April 27, 2011, acting on yet another anonymous tip-off, police raided the Eskisehir home of a retired air force colonel called Hakan Buyuk, where they claimed to have found more documents related to Sledgehammer. These too, however, were plagued by errors and anachronisms. For example, one of the documents, which according to a police report had last been saved on April 5, 2003, included quotations from what it described as the “current” Armed Forces Personnel Law. Yet the passages quoted included amendments that were not made until June 15, 2005.[8]

Still, the flaws in the Sledgehammer evidence appear to have had little impact on the prosecution of the case. By July 2011, 223 serving and retired members of military had been charged with plotting a coup in 2003, of whom a total of 177 remained in custody pending the completion of the trial. Those imprisoned included more than 10 percent of the Turkey’s serving generals and admirals.

 

A COMMUNAL CONSPIRACY?

 

By July 2011, more than 300 suspects had been formally charged with membership of Ergenekon, many of whom had already spent years in prison, their requests for bail consistently refused. Despite the construction of a purpose-built courthouse in Silvri, approximately 100 miles west of Istanbul, there appeared little prospect of an imminent conclusion to the case. Indeed, with new suspects continuing to be arrested and charged, the Ergenekon trial appeared likely to drag on for years.

Although the JDP has undoubtedly benefited politically from Ergenekon and Sledgehammer–not least because they have made many of its opponents reluctant to criticize the JDP for fear of being arrested–the government appears to be allowing the cases to proceed rather micromanaging or actively driving them. Exactly who is behind the cases remains a topic of often heated debate, but most critics blame the FGM.

To date, no evidence has emerged to tie Fethullah Gulen, who has been living in Pennsylvania in the United States since 1999, personally to the investigations. Nevertheless, there is no question that elements from within the FGM community are heavily involved. Gulen sympathizers now dominate large swathes of the judiciary and the police force, particularly the intelligence branches, which have been providing most of the evidence for the investigations. Since the outset, the FGM’s media outlets have sought to shape domestic and international public opinion about the cases by running vigorous disinformation campaigns, including inaccuracies, distortions and outright untruths. They have also mobilized their resources to launch vicious defamation campaigns against anyone who criticizes or questions the investigations.

Nor is it possible to ignore the regularity with which, particularly since 2009, the Ergenekon investigation has targeted the FGM’s critics and rivals. Through early 2011, there were increasing signs that, even in a country as awash with conspiracy theories as Turkey, the public was finally beginning to question the plausibility of the outlandish claims made for Ergenekon and Sledgehammer. Similarly, the frenzied coverage of the investigations in the FGM media and the consistency with which they targeted the movement’s rivals and opponents for arrest and imprisonment was increasingly looking like a coincidence too far.

 

*Gareth Jenkins is a writer and analyst who has been based in Istanbul since 1989. He is currently a Nonresident Senior Fellow with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program.

 

NOTES


[1] For example, in May 2004, when the General Ozkok issued a statement opposing the JDP’s attempts to make it easier for students at Islamic seminaries to enter university. See http://www.tsk.mil.tr/genelkumay/bashalk/aciklama/2004/a07.htm.

[2] For more details on the deep state see Gareth Jenkins, Between Fact and Fantasy: Turkey’s Ergenekon Investigation (Washington/StockholmCentral Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, 2009), pp 14-24.

[3] Ergenekon is the name of a valley in Turkish nationalist mythology where the Turks of Central Asia are reputed to have taken refuge before emerging to conquer the surrounding region.

[4] Author’s translation. The full Turkish text of the first indictment is available at:http://www.cnnturk.com/2008/turkiye/07/25/ergenekon.iddianamesinin.tamami/485342.0/index.html.

[5] Mumtaz’er Turkone, “Ergenekon Dedikleri Neymis?” [“What Is This Thing That They Call Ergenekon?”], Zaman, July 27, 2008.

[6] Hanefi Avci, Halic’te Yasayan Simonlar: Dun Devlet, Bugun Cemaat [“The Simons Living on the Golden Horn: Yesterday the State, Today the Community”] (Ankara: Angora, 2010).

[7] Page 81, Balyoz Iddianamesi, July 6, 2010. The complete indictment, in Turkish, can be found at http://www.ergenekonteror.com/readfile.php?id=108.

[8] Changes to Law No. 926 of June 15, 2005, published in the Turkish Official Gazette of June 20, 2005.

 

The Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center
Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) Herzliya, P.O. Box 167, Herzliya, 46150, Israel

Obama‘s Race to Top Policy Helps Turkish Gülen Missionary Charters Schools Race to Conquer America

Obama‘s Race to Top Policy Helps Turkish Gülen Missionary Charters Schools Race to Conquer America 

Kurdishaspect.com – By Dr. Aland Mizell
The American education system has become a hot issue. Commenting that “It’s time to make education America’s national mission,” President Obama defended the cornerstone of his administration, his education policy called the “Race to the Top.” A part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, it is a 4.35 billion dollar competitive grant program that gives incentives for states to adopt pay for performance systems and removes the cap on charters schools.[i] After the President’s speech on education reform, some civil right organizations released joint statements criticizing the Race to the Top policy. President Obama’s main theme on education included the notion that education is a civil rights issue, but if it is a right, then why should students race for it? What happens to the youth from impoverished backgrounds? What happens to marginalized groups who cannot succeed? Who is a loser and how does one become a winner? What is the role of charters schools? According to recent whistleblowers, some charters schools have contributed to the problems in education and become the subject of much debate. Therefore, it is important to separate out those charged, the Turkish Muslims’ missionary charter schools called the Gülen movement, from the normal American-run charters schools.
Controversy surrounds the Gulen’s Islamic schools. Some people are extremely opposed to the Turkish charter schools, even though a few of these schools are serving underprivileged and economically poor communities. Officials of these Turkish-led schools deny any kind of formal relation with Fethullah Gülen, a powerful and wealthy Turkish imam seeking residency in the U.S. Yet, he requests a US green card claiming he is an international educator. A few outspoken supporters argue that they are the best schools around the world, but detractors purport that they are getting support from foreign intelligence. Some say they are working for Mossad, Israel’s state-run intelligence operations, while others claim that they are working for the U.S.’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Some will pronounce that they are working for greater Middle Eastern projects, yet others reply that they are serving the Vatican. Some see them as the savior of the world, but others contend that they have a hidden agenda to deconstruct current governments in order to bring on their new one. Some will exclaim, “No, they are advocating global peace and preventing a clash of civilizations.” Others point out that they took over Turkey by infiltrating Gülen’s students into the top rungs of the Turkish government. Some believe that they are just Turkish people, and therefore have a right to be at the highest level in government agencies, the police, the intelligence, and the military. Some posit that God chooses them and that is why they have been successful as well as because Gülen is the Mehdi or messiah. Members of the organization view themselves as the 21st Century Sahabe, meaning followers of Mohammed. Yet, adversaries say they are a cult because the leaders intimidate Gülen’s followers by instilling fear in them to force them to stay in the community. Some hold that they are very democratic and honest; on the other hand, their foes say they are thirsty for power and yet others Asks where is the water of the Mill? Some indicate that charters schools promote integration, yet analysts show that they do not promote integration of disparate elements because members of the community are under social and psychological pressure to conform to strict edicts. Some imply that there is no central leadership and no one person is in charge; the others point out that there are life rules, determined and administered by the supreme leader whom each member must follow absolutely. The imam of the region, a middle man, is the one who decides where the follower works, when he will marry, and whom he should marry. Those decisions come from statutes from Gülen himself. Some will infer that they are very democratic and that there is freedom of thought; the others will reveal life’s complete regulation including the reading of particular books, observating of Islamic rules, voting for a particular party, buying a particular brand, listening to the superiors even if they are wrong (Itaat etmek meaning to obey, submit, or comply); all rules are imposed so that the organization can have control over the members.
The Turkish charter schools engender many questions. How do they get support? What are the structures of the movement? Who is in charge? Is it centralized? If so, is it centralized like a Catholic hierarchy but getting fatwa from Gülen? What makes them different from any other public school in the community? Some will say this system represents the rise of the Neo-Ottoman Empire that wants to conquer the world. But Gülenists will argue that they are advocating global peace, that they do not have any agenda, and that they do not teach any religion. The main question is do they really proclaim global peace or are they trying to bring the back Ottoman Empire system that practiced conquering? Do they want to have global power? Why are they more successful than any other movement in Turkey? How could researchers conclude that teaching a common language of love, peace and harmony is equal to the processes of Turkification, assimilation, and indoctrination of the Gülenist version of Islam?
Neither Gülen nor his followers are really working for the CIA or for any other significant powers; neither is he the Mehdi who can predict the future nor is he chosen by God, but Gülenists are great opportunists and know how to infiltrate important governmental agencies to get information, and based on the information that they get, they make their moves and decisions. Also, some do not believe Gülenists are the best at what they do, but actually they are well indoctrinated and well trained not to tell the truth but to deny the truth. They are also not the most tolerant and democratic organization, but rather one of the most dictatorial, militaristic, highly reiterative and decidedly centralized organizations with the goal to provide an alternative to today’s systems of government; in other words, to bring back the Ottoman Empire. The question is what type of system did the Ottomans have? Was it one of absolute power and did it exemplify the principle that absolute power is corrupt?
Obama’s Race to the Top policy is problematic in that it probably is not going to work the way President Obama thinks it will. Specifically, in my view, the money will not filter down to the American teachers but rather will be allocated to the Gülenists’ missionary teachers who are already taking advantage of the U.S. system, and if the money does not sift down, then how will it be distributed? If it is distributed individually, according to the student’s performance, ethical issues will arise. There are already cases filed against the Gülen missionaries’ charter schools in several states charging them with mismanagement and lack of accountability. Also, this US educational policy’s financing gives more capital to the Gülenists to bring more of Gülen’s missionaries at the expense of the American taxpayer in order to disseminate his ideology. How well educated are these teachers who come to America? How much experience as teachers do they have? Obama’s Race to the Top policy means for Gülenist missionaries a race to conquer the American education system.
What are the main goals of the Race to the Top policy? It encourages states to improve their efforts in the following areas: States and school districts should build robust data systems for measuring students’ growth and success. While this seems a good educational tool, this is expedient for the Muslim missionaries to recruit and have access to the smart students, so they can indoctrinate them, a tactic used in Turkey and Central Asia. Second, the goals are that districts should pay teachers more when they are particularly effective or teach in priority subject areas or in low performing schools. Gülenists already know how to play the game, and they will build the system that fits the funding. Another trick that the Gülenists use to fool people is that they hold mathematic Olympics or physics Olympics to have good public relations and marketing, saying that they are the winner. If someone does the research, the inquirer will find that in almost all countries at least in one college they will have a winner of one subject. The question is how could that happen? In Turkey, some have claimed that the organization stole the answers for the Turkish National Police exam to gain access for its members;[ii] would it be possible for the same to be true in other countries? The success of the Gülenists is dependent on information they receive and the information they give. The main difference is that the American education system encourages students to question masters or teachers, whereas the Gülenists education system discourages asking new questions, but instead it encourages them to follow the leaders without inquiry and to replicate what people in the past did. Critical thinking, an important outcome in US education, is not an option in Gulenists’ charter school curriculum.
This attitude is not limited to education systems but is also prevalent in other social aspects of society. Isn’t questioning oneself and others the first important aspect of intellectual growth? The growth of large entities, even nations, depends on how much they are ready for and engage in self-criticism. This aspect does not exist in Gülen’s community. If a member questions authority, the leaders get upset but always eagerly blame others for their own shortcomings. Total power is corrupt. Thomas Jefferson said, “A government afraid of its citizens is a Democracy. Citizens afraid of government is tyranny.” Isn’t that the case with Turkey? In Turkey, the majority of the right is dominated by the Gülenists in the government and in important positions, so that whoever criticizes Gülen ends up in jail. One of the hallmarks of the West is freedom of speech and freedom of expression, permitting critiques of claims about religious truths, but Islamic law does not allow such debate or criticism. The question many scholars as well as political leaders ask is whether Gülenists’ education system is compatible with American and Western educational systems? Does it hold the same ethical values or does it teach the children that they can learn the truth, but they don’t have to tell the truth anywhere or everywhere, or does it teach the kids that they can lie if it necessary?
The American university is a laboratory for ideas such as dialectic exchange and deliberative democracy, in which students and teachers participate in free exchange of ideas without any fear of being punished or excommunicated from the community. If America is the champion of education around the world, it is because open dialogue is fundamental to the system of education in the United States. What exactly do close-minded Gülenists’ missionary charter schools hope to accomplish by establishing more than 130 charters schools in America in a short period of time?[iii] How did Gülenists missionary schools, now over 300 in number, accomplish their goals inside Turkey? Even though there are the more than 1000 schools worldwide, why are they not in Saudi Arabia and Iran, for example, since these countries symbolize intolerance? Did the charter schools in the US leave room for free exchange of ideas for students or academics to discuss and teach what they think is right, not what Gülen thinks is right? The American culture and education system has been enriched by the values and belief systems of virtually every part of the world. Individual freedom, and whether we call it individualism or individual freedom, is the cornerstone of American society, because the concept of an individual’s having control of his or her own future is guaranteed in the Constitution. Under the Gülenists missionary schools systems individualism is not important, but collective thinking is important, and individual freedom is limited because individuals must follow the organization’s rules implemented by the central decision-maker–Gülen himself. Unfortunately questioning and testing the truth in the Gülenists community is non-existent and never happens; under this tutelage they quote Gülen more often than the Quran. Students will hear, “Hoja Effendi says this about these topics,” or Hoja Effendi says this about that topic.” Even though Newton was a great scientist, Einstein had freedom to question his ideas, but under the Gülenists education system, none has freedom to challenge Gülen’s views because his view is seen as absolute truth, and whoever challenge it gets “burned.” The mentors promote Gülen more than Prophet Muhammad, for example
This ideology wields considerable power in American politics because his followers are actively involved in lobbying Congress to promote his interest in Washington. Gülen was recently honored under Texas Sates Resolution No. 85, which recognized his contributions and promotions, and their goal is to let the other 49 states honor him. The end may justify the means as long as there is something that justified the end. For Gülenists any method is justifiable; it just depends on the organization’s perceived notion of “if the good outweighs the bad, then the action is moral.” Even lies are justifiable under the some circumstances, because for Gülenists everything depends on circumstances. However, when someone really does more thorough research about Gülen’s movement, he or she will see this kind of double standard and unethical methods behind the movement. Otherwise it would not be as successful. For example, the political impact of Gülenists in Turkey before 2001 and Gülenists’ stand with the ruling political party and the army has shifted substantially. Gülenists mostly talk about the non-partisan nature of the movement and insist that his movement keeps equal distance from every Turkish ruling administration, seeks no office, and has no political goals, but now when observers look at the Gülenists’ newspaper Zaman that has a circulation of a million just in Turkey alone; when they look at the TV stations, the radio channels, and the civic organizations; they don’t just have educational matters, but rather they have a political impact. Also perusing the Zaman’s archives from pre-2001 will reveal no negative statements about the army, politicians or parties.
But today the Zaman and other Gülenists’ media seem like the AKP owns them, so when one of its leading journalists, Huseyin Gulerce, campaigns for the AKP and tells people to vote for the AKP, when Gülen himself says that if he could bring the dead people from their grave to vote for the AKP, he would say yes; when Ekrem Dumanli writes articles in the Zaman; when Huseyin Gulerce and others write their perspectives in the Zaman, that journalism impacts the political process. Gülenists argue that the movement is almost completely decentralized and is primarily built on local actions and initiatives; however, Fethullah Gülen does not like hierarchy in terms of power. There is no central office or bureaucracy. But when someone do something with out asking Gulen they automatically been punished for not obey the Gulen. When an organizational chart has levels of leaders but all without their own input, it can start its own dynamic, and it can go counter to the existing political climate because of the force of the unified command coming from the top. This chain of command works because Gülenists believe God is in charge, so that ostensibly they don’t have any leader, but at the same time, with every breath they take, they promote Gülen’s name. Also, Gülenists do not unite people in peace and harmony as some Western self- proclaimed Gülenists movement experts have come to believe. Actually, the opposite is true. An underpinning of the movement is the idea that “You’re with us or you’re not with us, in Turkish (Hizmetten and Hizmet disi or bizden veya bizden degil).”
What is the ultimate goal? Doesn’t all-human activity—in communities, societies, and nations– have a goal in one form or another? So does this one. This movement was born in Turkey, Fethullah Gülen is a Turkish citizen, he cares about Turkey, and he’s trying to improve the Turkish educational system. He’s done a great deal within the country, but Why would Gülen come to the USA to open the schools all over America? Is it because the fate of America depends on Gülen’s movement through educational systems? The primary aim of Gülen is to have total power and to dominant the world. History has shown that when an individual or group is concerned with having more power, it does not serve the community well nor does it create harmony and peace. The world has already seen this in Turkey, how the Gülenists treat others, because total power does corrupt. For example, Gülenists do not leave space for other NGOs to work in the same area. They do not want any competition, especially in the fields of education and relief organizations. Unfortunately, some of his publications have been known to discredit some very good NGO workers, schools, scholars, generals, officials. Instead, the Movement gives exorbitant credit to itself, especially S. Jill Carroll and Akbar Ahmed’s A Dialogue of Civilizations: Gulen’s Islamic Ideals and Humanistic Discourse (2007)   and Muhammad Cetin’s books Gülen-Inspired Schools and SMOs (2008), both quite biased and full of propaganda about the Movement and Gülen.
In addition, anyone wanting to learn more about how Gülen and his followers are inconsistent with their claims should read Mehmet Kalyoncu’s analysis of how certain distinguished scholars, who are well respected in their field, like Huntington, Lewis, and Pipes, are said to have monopolized the task of interpreting Islam and Muslim world for them. Speaking on behalf of Gülen’s website, Mr. Kalyoncu, touted as an independent analyst, claims that recently American and European media have “misrepresented and even if not deliberately created doubts and prejudices about him [Gülen}” [iv] Because Gülenists only accept those who agree with the Gülenists’ ideas and do not tolerate or welcome any second opinions, the average reader can see that any controversial statements will be denounced as “misrepresentations.” Clearly, they want to monopolize the whole world under the one tent, the Gülenist version of Islam and the Ottoman’s version of a government system.
Further, Gülenists deny that Gülen is accepting any funds or financial aids from other countries. Really? Do researchers not count the millions of dollars from the US government that have funded his organization in the past? Gülenists are the best opportunists, and they know how to use events for their interest. From Gülen’s point of view, the best way to defeat the enemy is to use the enemy’s own weapons against that enemy. What is the enemy’s weapon? The enemy’s weapons are democracy, technology, language, and Western values. How can he use these against America or the West? He does so by establishing Islamic centers, non-governmental organizations, such as Interfaith institutions, and cultural centers; by sending graduate students who get scholarships from Americans taxpayers; by providing a good education, albeit his brand, and particularly by disseminating Islam under the principle of freedom of speech. In charter schools his proponents have seen another opportunity to get donations from the American government to attract American young people to one man’s dominate religion and to indoctrinate them about Gülenists’ idea of global Turkish Islam. In other words, they took advantage of an opening to teach revisionist history in that Turks are the best race on earth and God’s favored people, all the while denying the reality of the Kurds’ suffering for decades and denying the genocide of Armenian 1915. How can such a person claim one race or nation is the best and chosen by God, deny history, for example the Holocaust, yet affirm that all atheists who do not share their same values have lost their human nature and have lower themselves to the basest of animals and at the same time advocate peace and tolerance?
In Turkey the Gülenists label those who oppose him as part of Ergenekon; in America they will call the opponents friends of Ergenekon because of Gülenists’ unethical methods in attempting to silence their critics around the world especially in Turkey and in the US. For example, Orhan Kemal Cengiz, a Zaman columnist who spoke at the a panel at Harvard University on May 05 2011, has falsely accused Dani Rodrik, the Rafiq Hariri Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, of dissuading people from attending the event. However, Rodrik wanted both perspectives not only one view. “My fear is that the Harvard community is being exposed to a rather one-sided and ill-informed view of what is really taking place on the ground. In the interest of balance, if you want ideas for names of those who can present a fuller picture, I am happy to pass them on to you.”[v] Cengiz’s false accusation was picked up by a recent Zaman article, which then produces an erroneous story headline “Rodrik dissuades people from attending rights advocate’s address.”[vi] Professor Rodrik denies that he did in any way discourage attendance. Another example of unethical news from the Gülenists’ Zaman newspaper in Turkey claims that Kurdish people in the PKK stirred up trouble before the March 16th, 2011 elections, another lie. The Zaman argues, “The PKK will create chaos as” but the prosecution noted that this allegation proved to be unfounded.[vii]
If this organization is about peace and love, it will not do underhanded things. However, Gülenist missionaries would like their movement to be seen as a civic movement, or peace loving social entrepreneur organization, because it helps them to disseminate their ideology well and to minimize the controversy. Yet, they are inconsistent with their answers. Gülenists outside of Turkey present themselves as loving, caring, honest, chosen, errorless, righteous, multi-faithed, tolerant, and peace -loving people. In reality Gülenists never tell the truth about Gülen or his movement because he encourages his followers to appropriate only the positive things from the West, such as technology and education, and to leave the negative things, such as religion and social norms. According to Islam, an individual can lie for three reasons: to make peace between a father and a mother, to save oneself, and to lie to an enemy when one is at war. Since many Muslims believe that they remain at war with non-Muslims in realms called a house of war and a house peace, devotees can lie to gain power, and then they can declare war or resist non-Muslims as the Qur’an says to lie to the unbelievers, Christians, and Jews. They are told to be nice on the surface until they gain the majority in numbers and power and then to take over and impose Qur’an law or Shari law on the population. Once the community accrues the majority, Americans cannot do anything but accept it like Europe is doing right now. Obama’s Race to the Top should gain the interest of every thinking American, particularly those in leadership, so that the policy-makers ask, “Who are we enabling to race and reach the top and if they get there, do we want their ideology and their legal system?” We might ask those who have been jailed in Turkey for exerting freedom of speech to see if they have an opinion on charter schools in America or on Gulen’s movement of peace and tolerance; ironically, they cannot speak to us.
Dr. Aland Mizell is with the University of Mindanao School of Social Science, President of the MCI and a regular contributor to the Kurdishaspect.com.
You may reach the author via email at: aland_mizell2@hotmail.com

“Al-CIAda” Wasting No Time–Expanding the Imperial War Into Algeria

Al Qaeda claims responsibility for Algeria attack

ALGIERS

(Reuters) – Al Qaeda’s North Africa wing has claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a military academy in Algeria, accusing it of supporting the regime of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

A statement by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) named Abu Anas and Abu Noh as the two suicide bombers who hit the barracks housing a prestigious military school in the coastal town of Cherchell on Friday in one of the deadliest attacks in the country in recent years.

Algeria’s Defense Ministry said 16 soldiers and two civilians were killed in the attack. AQIM’s statement, posted on an Islamist website which regularly carries al Qaeda communiques, said 36 people were killed.

“On the night of the 27th of this holy month, and while the Muslim Libyan people were completing their victory over the dictator Gaddafi … the mujahideen in Algeria pursued their blessed attacks against the Algerian criminal regime, an ally to Gaddafi,” the statement, posted on Sunday, said.

“And this time we targeted a symbol of the Algerian regime, the biggest military barracks in the country in Cherchell.”

Algeria has previously denied accusations by Libyan rebels of backing Gaddafi in the country’s civil war.

Algeria, an energy exporter and a key U.S. ally in its campaign against al Qaeda, is still emerging from nearly two decades of conflict between security forces and Islamist militant groups that killed around 200,000 people.

In the past three years the violence has subsided, with suicide bombings on targets in built-up areas becoming rare.

The location of Cherchell, which lies some 100 km (60 miles) west from Algiers was unusual as attacks have previously focused on territory east of the capital, including the mountainous Kabylie region, where AQIM has a stronghold.

Algeria has said it believes AQIM is exploiting the chaos in Libya, and smuggling weapons out of that battlezone to its base in the Sahara.

On Friday, the attackers drove up to the barracks soon after iftar — when Muslims break their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Residents said the first attacker blew himself up at the entrance before the second ran into the front courtyard where officers were sitting down to eat.

(Reporting by Lamine Chikhi and Martina Fuchs in Dubai; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian)

Russian Foreign Ministry Regarding the Situation in Syria

MFA of Russia

MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION

INFORMATION AND PRESS DEPARTMENT
_______________________________

32/34 Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl., 119200, Moscow G-200;
tel.: (499) 244 4119, fax: (499) 244 4112
e-mail: dip@mid.ru, web-address: http://www.mid.ru

Comment by Press and Information Department of Russian Foreign Ministry on a Question from Interfax News Agency Regarding the Situation in Syria

 

1226-19-08-2011

 

Question:Please comment on the calls of US President Barack Obama and EU High Representative for Foreign Policy Catherine Ashton for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Answer:Our position on the events in the Syrian Arab Republic (SAR) is that the leadership of the country headed by President Bashar al-Assad has to be given more time to carry out the declared major program of political and economic reforms.

Recently, Damascus has taken very substantial steps toward that end. Those steps included lifting the state of emergency; dissolving the Supreme State Security Court; issuing a decree on the right of citizens to demonstrate peacefully; putting multiparty and general election laws into effect. Work to pass media and local government laws is nearing completion. The general elections will be held before the end of the year, and constitutional reform completed before February-March 2012. An amnesty for political prisoners has been announced. Humanitarian access to Syrian territory has been opened. Currently, a mission of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs is in the SAR. Syrian authorities are also ready to receive a delegation of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Of course, the situation in Syria, and the reports of deaths of people there, cannot help but disturb us. After all, this state is one of the pillars of Middle Eastern architecture. Its destabilization would have the most severe consequences for the entire region.

We believe that a clear and unambiguous signal has been sent to the Syrians about the need to end all violence. This signal is also for the opposition, which should enter into dialogue with the authorities and dissociate itself from extremists. Outside encouragement of the radical forces that incite tension in the SAR, we strongly believe, is inadmissible.

Based on these considerations, we would like to point out that we do not share the US and EU point of view concerning President Bashar al-Assad and will continue to pursue our consistent and principled line on Syria.

August 19, 2011

The dangers lurking in the Arab spring

[Once the Libyan disaster is revealed as the grand fiasco that it truly is, then the Syrian disaster should already be a fait accompli, dragging Lebanon along with it, ever closer to a critical mass.  After merging these Sunni-based conflicts with the festering wound of Iraq, the CIA master manipulators should have the real regional conflict on their hands that they have been so diligently seeking.  That will be the point where all military restraint will go out the window.  NATO will be free to use all of their forces–that is, ALL OF THEIR FORCES–first the massive saturation bombing campaigns will get underway.  By then, Iran will clearly be Public Enemy Number One.  This is the perfect planner’s moment for spooks like Mike Vickers, who is the “limited warfare” specialist who formulated the allegedly fictitious “take-over-the-world plan” that the Pentagon/CIA has been following for the past thirty years.  Selective nuke strikes would then become an acceptable solution to a regional war in the Middle East, settling the Middle East down like nothing else that has ever been tried in the past.  At that point everybody would be whipping-out their own nukes (including Saudi Arabia), to deny their own impotence and to deny Iran the right to have its own nuclear defense. 

They have unleashed a real “shit storm” for the next round.]   

The dangers lurking in the Arab spring

By Vali Nasr
 

The Arab Spring is a hopeful chapter in Middle Eastern politics, but the region’s history points to darker outcomes. There are no recent examples of extended power-sharing or peaceful transitions to democracy in the Arab world. When dictatorships crack, budding democracies are more than likely to be greeted by violence and paralysis. Sectarian divisions – the bane of many Middle Eastern societies – will then emerge, as competing groups settle old scores and vie for power.

Syria today stands at the edge of such an upheaval. The brutality of Bashar Assad’s regime is opening a dangerous fissure between the Alawite minority, which rules the country, and the majority Sunni population. After Assad’s butchery in the largely Sunni city of Hama on July 31, on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan, the Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni group, accused the regime of conducting “a war of sectarian cleansing.” It is now clear that Assad’s strategy is to divide the opposition by stoking sectarian conflict.

Sunni extremists have reacted by attacking Alawite families and businesses, especially in towns near the Iraqi border. The potential for a broader clash between Alawites and Sunnis is clear, and it would probably not be confined to Syria. Instead, it would carry a risk of setting off a regional dynamic that could overwhelm the hopeful narrative of the Arab Spring itself, replacing it with a much aggravated power struggle along sectarian lines.

That is because throughout the Middle East there is a strong undercurrent of simmering sectarian tension between Sunnis and Shiites, of whom the Alawites are a subset. Shiites and Sunnis live cheek by jowl in the long arc that stretches from Lebanon to Pakistan, and the region’s two main power brokers, Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia, are already jousting for power.

So far this year, Shiite-Sunni tensions have been evident in countries from Bahrain to Syria. But put together, they could force the United States to rethink its response to the Arab Spring itself.

Sectarianism is an old wound in the Middle East. But the recent popular urge for democracy, national unity and dignity has opened it and made it feel fresh. This is because many of the Arab governments that now face the wrath of protesters are guilty of both suppressing individual rights and concentrating power in the hands of minorities.

The problem goes back to the colonial period, when European administrators manipulated religious and ethnic diversity to their advantage by giving minorities greater representation in colonial security forces and governments.

Arab states that emerged from colonialism promised unity under the banner of Arab nationalism. But as they turned into cynical dictatorships, failing at war and governance, they, too, entrenched sectarian biases. This scarred Arab society so deeply that the impulse for unity was often no match for the deep divisions of tribe, sect and ethnicity.

The struggle that matters most is the one between Sunnis and Shiites. The war in Iraq first unleashed the destructive potential of their competition for power, but the issue was not settled there. The Arab Spring has allowed it to resurface by weakening states that have long kept sectarian divisions in place, and brutally suppressed popular grievances. Today, Shiites clamor for greater rights in Lebanon, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, while Sunnis are restless in Iraq and Syria.

This time, each side will most likely be backed by a nervous regional power, eager to protect its interests. For the past three decades the Saudi monarchy, which sees itself as the guardian of Sunni Islam, has viewed Iran’s Shiite theocracy as its nemesis. Saudis have relied on the United States, Arab nationalism and Sunni identity to slow Iran’s rise, even to the point of supporting radical Sunni forces.

The Saudis suffered a major setback when control of Iraq passed from Sunnis to Shiites, but that made them more determined to reverse Shiite gains and rising Iranian influence. It was no surprise that Saudi Arabia was the first Arab state to withdraw its ambassador from Damascus this month.

The imprint of this rivalry was evident in regional conflicts before the Arab Spring. Saudis saw Iran’s hand behind a rebellion among Yemen’s Houthi tribe – who are Zaydis, an offshoot of Shiism – that started in 2004. Iran blamed Arab financing for its own decade-long revolt by Sunni Baluchis along its southeastern border with Pakistan. And since 2005, when Shiite Hezbollah was implicated in the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a popular Sunni prime minister who was close to the Saudis, a wide rift has divided Lebanon’s Sunni and Shiite communities, and prompted Saudi fury against Hezbollah. The sectarian divide in Lebanon shows no sign of narrowing, and now the turmoil in Syria next door has brought Lebanon to a knife’s edge.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah’s audacious power grab has angered Saudi Arabia. Officials in Riyadh see the turn of events in Lebanon as yet another Iranian victory, and the realization of the dreaded “Shiite crescent” that King Abdullah of Jordan once warned against.

In March, fearing a snowball effect from the Arab Spring, Saudi Arabia drew a clear red line in Bahrain, where a Shiite majority would have been empowered had pro-democracy protests succeeded in ousting the Sunni monarchy. The Saudis rallied the Persian Gulf monarchies to support the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain in brutally suppressing the protests – and put Iran on notice that they were “ready to enter war with Iran and even with Iraq in defense of Bahrain.”

The Saudis are right to be worried about the outcome of sectarian fights in Lebanon and Bahrain, but in Syria it is Iran that stands to lose. Both sides understand that the final outcome will decide the pecking order in the region. Every struggle in this rivalry therefore matters, and every clash is pregnant with risk for regional stability.

The turn of events in Syria is particularly important, because Sunnis elsewhere see the Alawite government as the linchpin in the Shiite alliance of Iran and Hezbollah. The Alawite-Sunni clash there could quickly draw in both of the major players in the region and ignite a broader regional sectarian conflict among their local allies, from Lebanon to Iraq to the Persian Gulf and beyond.

The specter of protracted bloody clashes, assassinations and bombings, sectarian cleansing and refugee crises from Beirut to Manama, causing instability and feeding regional rivalry, could put an end to the hopeful Arab Spring. Radical voices on both sides would gain. In Bahrain, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, it is already happening.

None of this will benefit democracy or American interests. But seeking to defuse sectarian tensions wherever they occur would help ensure regional stability. Even if Washington has little leverage and influence in Syria, we should nevertheless work closely with our allies who do. Turkey, which is a powerful neighbor, could still pressure the Assad government not to inflame sectarian tensions. And both Turkey and Saudi Arabia could use their influence to discourage the opposition from responding to President Assad’s provocations.

Beyond Syria, the two countries most at risk are Bahrain and Lebanon, and here we can have an impact. The United States should urge Bahrain’s monarchy to end its crackdown, start talking seriously with the opposition, and agree to meaningful power sharing. Washington has strong military ties with Bahrain and should use this leverage to argue for a peaceful resolution there.

In Lebanon, we should not encourage a sectarian showdown; instead we should support a solution to that country’s impasse that would include redistribution of power among Shiites, Sunnis and Christians. Lebanon last had a census in 1932, and its power structure has since favored Sunnis and Christians based on that count. Meaningful power-sharing in Beirut is as important to peace and stability in Lebanon as disarming Hezbollah.

The Middle East is in the midst of historic change. Washington can hope for a peaceful and democratic future, but we should guard against sectarian conflicts that, once in the open, would likely run their destructive course at great cost to the region and the world.

(Vali Nasr is a professor at Tufts University, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the author of “The Shia Revival: How Conflicts Within Islam Will Shape the Future.”)

Wash. Post Claiming Syrian Resisters Clamoring for Weapons

Opposition calling for NATO, weapons

BEIRUT – The success of Libya’s rebels in toppling their dictator is prompting calls within the Syrian opposition for armed rebellion and NATO intervention after nearly six months of overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations that have failed to dislodge President Bashar al-Assad.

LIZ SLY; THE WASHINGTON POST

BEIRUT – The success of Libya’s rebels in toppling their dictator is prompting calls within the Syrian opposition for armed rebellion and NATO intervention after nearly six months of overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations that have failed to dislodge President Bashar al-Assad.

The young Internet activists who have helped guide the uprising are arguing against the strategic shift.

So too are the older dissidents who long have dreamed of the nonviolent revolution now unfolding against a regime that has proved every bit as brutal as the one led by Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi.

But some activists have concluded that peaceful protests alone will not be enough to overthrow a government that has used live ammunition, tanks and artillery to try to crush its opponents, killing more than 2,000 and imprisoning tens of thousands.

Protesters in recent days have carried banners calling for a no-fly zone over Syria akin to the one that facilitated the Libyan revolt. “We want any (intervention) that stops the killing, whether Arab or foreign,” said one banner held by protesters in the beleaguered town of Homs.

Yet although President Barack Obama called this month for Assad to step down, world powers, including the United States, have shown little appetite for any form of entanglement in Syria.

An armed rebellion in Syria, which straddles the region’s most volatile ethnic and sectarian fault lines, would have ramifications far more profound than in Libya. A civil war in Syria could spread beyond its borders to Lebanon and Iraq, perhaps embroil Israel and destabilize the countries of the Persian Gulf.

Is “The Right Side of History” Determined By Profit or Morality?

[The argument is made in the following article for India and the other BRIC countries to “get on the right side of history” in reference to the Imperial onslaught against Libyan dictator Qaddafi, arguing for the commercial advantages of being seen supporting the Empire’s position early on.  India and other moral governments must ask themselves: Why is the side promising the greatest profits the “right side”?  History will judge the Imperial aggressors in Libya and soon in Syria as the war criminals that they really are, unless they are unsuccessful in their plans to forge a “New World Order” from the blood of conquered nations.  If they fail to conquer the world, due to either overreach, or ineptitude, then future humanity will  relegate Obama and friends to the same immoral status as Hitler and Stalin.  The Western author of the following piece suggests that governments should switch from opposing Imperial aggressions to supporting them, once the national resistance groups form a “government-in-waiting.”  Considerations for future profits should compel thinking governments to go with the apparent winners, even though the American formula for forced regime change “is likely to be protracted and bloody.”  If American patriots formed their own government-in-waiting, would the UN troops then liberate us from our own bloodthirsty government?

Let us hope and pray that the bloody Imperial plans all come to ruin.  The “right side of history” will be the side that resisted the great evil now washing over the earth.]

Libya poses policy challenge to Asian giants

JAMES M. DORSEY

Mahmoud Jibril, deputy chairman of the Libyan Transition National Council at a press conference in Doha on August 23, 2011, after rebel forces overran Qadhafi's Bab al-Azizya headquarters in Tripoli.
APMahmoud Jibril, deputy chairman of the Libyan Transition National Council at a press conference in Doha on August 23, 2011, after rebel forces overran Qadhafi’s Bab al-Azizya headquarters in Tripoli

Change by any possible means is the name of the game in the Middle East and North Africa.

An offer to assist Libya with its post-Qadhafi reconstruction and rehabilitation coupled with India’s remaining days as president of the United Nations Security Council and an invitation to attend this week’s Friends of Libya conference in Paris enable India to turn the page in its somewhat troubled relations with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)-backed rebels poised to form the North African country’s new government.

The opportunity arises as India alongside China, Russia, Brazil and South Africa – the five Security Council members that did not support the imposition last March of a no-fly zone in Libya and NATO’s bombing campaign — finds itself forced to rethink its approach towards embattled Arab autocratic leaders in the wake of the rebels’ takeover of the Libyan capital of Tripoli.

China and Russia scrambled last week to improve their ties with the rebel Transition National Council (TNC) in a bid to salvage commercial ties and opportunities in post-Qadhafi Libya. Libya may be their most immediate concern as the TNC asserts its authority in the country, but India like China, Russia and the others, is certain to debate the implications of Mr. Qadhafi’s fall in its policy towards other embattled Arab leaders, first and foremost Syrian president Bashar al Assad.

Alarm bells rang out last week in the Chinese and Russian capitals after Abdeljalil Mayouf, a manager of the rebel-controlled Arabian Gulf Oil Company (AGOCO) warned that China, Russia and Brazil, in contrast to Western nations, could face political obstacles in reverting back to business as usual once Mr. Qadhafi has been removed from power. Mr. Mayouf did not mention India, but there is no doubt that in his view, it falls into the same category as China, Russia and Brazil.

To be sure, Mr. Mayouf represents only one strand of thinking among the rebels, who have agreed to French President Nicolas Sarkozy inviting India along with the other four recalcitrant Security Council members to the Paris conference to discuss support for the TNC.

Foreign assistance is crucial as the TNC faces the daunting task of enforcing law and order; preventing further acts of revenge and retribution; providing basic services such as water, electricity, food and fuel; reviving oil exports and kick-starting the economy while at the same time hunting down Mr. Qadhafi and gaining control of Qadhafi strongholds such as his hometown of Sirte.

The exercise is likely to provide India and others in the international community a template for similar situations that are certain to arise as anti-government protests sweep the Middle East and North Africa, particularly as protesters’ resolve in Syria and in Yemen is boosted by events in Libya and opposition groups seek to emulate the Libyan model of forming a united leadership that effectively serves as a government-in-waiting.

Syria is probably next in line with protesters displaying the kind of resilience and perseverance that has rendered Mr. Assad’s five-month old brutal crackdown a failure. As western sanctions particularly of Syria’s oil sector start to kick in, the question no longer is if but when Mr. Assad will be forced out of office. India alongside China and Russia is likely to want to ensure that it maintains some kind of constructive relationship with the forces likely to succeed the Syrian leader.

Commentators have been quick to note that Asia’s commercial interests in Libya are limited and are likely to in good time assert the same with regard to Syria. India’s interests in Libya are virtually non-existent while China relied last year on Libya for only three per cent of its crude imports but had to evacuate from Libya 36,000 workers employed by 75 primarily State-owned Chinese companies earlier this year.

Yet, even if commercial ties with Libya and Syria are relatively miniscule, there is a lot more at stake for India and other Asian nations not only in the three countries whose autocratic leaders were toppled this year, i.e. Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, but across the Middle East and North Africa. Beyond chancing that their companies will be at a disadvantage in competing for lucrative post-revolution contracts, they risk negative perceptions in a region in which millions are closely monitoring events in Libya and Syria and are likely to be reinvigorated by the demise of Mr. Qadhafi.

Mr. Qadhafi’s fall was preceded by peaceful mass protests that forced the Presidents of Tunisia and Egypt to resign earlier this year. The grievances that have propelled the rebellion in Libya and the protests in Syria, Tunisia and Egypt are shared with the population of a swath of land that stretches from the Atlantic coast of Africa to the Gulf. Change by hook or by crook is likely to be the name of the game for the next decade in the Middle East and North Africa, a region that is strategic because of its geography, energy resources and the financial clout of its oil producers.

No doubt, the struggle for greater political freedom and economic opportunity is likely to be protracted and bloody and the transition towards more open societies messy at best. In a region in which the struggle to get rid of the yoke of dictatorship faces the constant threat of sectarian and tribal strife, India with its mosaic of ethnic and religious groups cohabiting in a democracy and its long-standing ties to parts of the Middle East has much to offer.

That is most immediately true in Libya where the TNC has to quickly move from the rebel capital of Benghazi in the east of the country to Tripoli in a demonstrative gesture of its taking control of the country and a city of two million that is without political leadership or direction. With no running water in Tripoli because supply from aquifers in the desert has been disrupted by the fighting [SEE COMMENT below, on aquifers’ bombing–editor] and barely any electricity, the TNC has already promised to immediately start distributing 30,000 tons of gasoline as well as diesel fuel for power stations.

In a country, in which in his 42 years in power Mr. Qadhafi ensured that no institutions developed that could challenge his authority, the TNC and its elected successor will need substantial support in building a more open, transparent society from scratch. Iraq, which was wracked by sectarian violence and fratricide after the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein, has served as an example of how not to do it. Those lessons are reflected in the TNC’s blueprint for the future, which outlines a 20-month timetable for the transition as well as procedures to ensure that the process is transparent.

Like the rebels, Mr. Qadhafi too appears to have drawn inspiration from Iraq’s example. He allowed his capital to fall, ensured his escape and vowed to wage an insurgency. Hussein fled to his hometown of Tikrit where he exploited his successor’s policies to fuel sectarian strife. Mr. Qadhafi’s whereabouts remain a mystery and it is not clear whether he has returned to Sirte. Unlike Hussein, Mr. Qadhafi has no powerful neighbours on whose support he will be able to rely. As a result, Mr. Qadhafi’s final stand could prove to be a less bloody and wrenching battle than that of Hussein and his associates.

For India like for China and Russia, the challenge is to develop middle rather than short-term policies that enable it to capitalise on political and economic opportunities amid initial chaos and instability. Transition in Syria is likely to prove as messy as it is in Libya.

It took five months of bloodshed in Syria for India and the other Security Council holdouts to endorse condemnation of Mr. Assad’s crackdown and then only in the weakest possible form because of their concern that it could lead to foreign military intervention. Syrians, unlike Libyans, oppose foreign military aid and have so far insisted that they do not want to move from peaceful to armed resistance.

This should make it easier for India, if not for Russia and China, to get on the right side of history. Doing so does not require a political U-turn but would mean a more forceful stand against the brutality of an embattled leader that does not give him an effective license to brutally crackdown on protesters by effectively blocking an international consensus. Libya offers an opportunity for countries like India to demonstrate that their heart is in the right place.

(James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies and author of the blog, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer.)

COMMENTS:

James M. Dorsey’s article (Aug.29) is a part of the global exercise for endorsing the wrongs and the crimes committed by the aggressors. He fails to condemn the violation of UNSC Resolution 1973 for no-fly-zone and not to arm the rebels and bomb Libya for over 162 days. His advice for India to quickly support the NTC goes against its principled stand taken in March. It was not fighting, as he says, for causing water-shortage but deliberate NATO bombings on water supply network on July 22 and of the Pre-Stressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe Factory Brega on July 23 which brought water to 70% of Libya’s population. This Great Man-Made River Project started in 1984. 95% of Libya is desert and 70% of Libyans depend on water through this Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System under the southern desert. The UN failed to listen to Libya when it warned on April 3 that NATO-led air strikes could cause a “human and environmental disaster” if air strikes damaged the Great Man-Made River project.

from:  Dr. Arshi Khan

Posted on: Aug 29, 2011 at 09:38 IST

Minister Mirza Slams Rehman Malik as “Congenital Liar” and MQM As American Agents

Diatribe of a lifetime: Hurricane Mirza shakes up political landscape

MQM is a terrorist organisation says Mirza; adds that Rehman Malik is “hand in glove with terrorists”. PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESS

MQM is a terrorist organisation says Mirza; adds that Rehman Malik is "hand in glove with terrorists". PHOTO: NEFER SEHGAL/EXPRESSMQM is a terrorist organisation says Mirza; adds that Rehman Malik is "hand in glove with terrorists". PHOTO: PPIMQM is a terrorist organisation says Mirza; adds that Rehman Malik is "hand in glove with terrorists". PHOTO: PPIZulfiqar Mirza resigned from his post at the centre and provincial assembly.
KARACHI: Three and a half years of pent-up frustration exploded live on national television on Sunday as Sindh Senior Minister Zulfiqar Mirza lashed out against Federal Interior Minister Rehman Malik – calling him a ‘congenital liar’ and ‘the single biggest threat to Pakistan’s future’ – as well as saying that the Muttahida Qaumi Movement was working on an American agenda to break-up the country.

The fiery remarks came during a press conference in Karachi where Mirza started off by announcing his resignation from the Sindh cabinet, the Sindh Assembly as well as his position of senior vice president in the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). He was quick to add, however, that he would remain a PPP worker “till the day I die.”  Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah was reported to have quickly accepted the resignation, no questions asked.

The allegations against Malik and the MQM were explosive and have already caused a stir across the political spectrum. Mirza accused Rehman Malik of being ‘hand in glove’ with target killers in Karachi, who are held responsible for nearly 1,000 deaths since the beginning of the year.

“I want to tell the president, the prime minister, the army chief and the ISI chief,” claimed Mirza. “Today, I am going away, praying that it is never too late to tell the truth.”

Mirza waved several documents  (which he did not share with the media) that he said carried the ‘proof’ of the people responsible for the wave of violence in Karachi. “I have raised my voice against violence in this city and will continue to do so,” he said, adding that he would sell his properties if he had to but will unmask the killers.

Allegations against Rehman Malik

A large part of his rant, however, was reserved for the federal interior minister. “Rehman Malik is such a compulsive liar that if he is having an apple when you call him, he will say he is having a banana.” He also said that he had once requested President Asif Ali Zardari to enrol him at a university where he could learn how to lie, to which he was told by someone that there was one such university where Rehman Malik was vice chancellor.

Mirza also stated that Malik was not loyal to Pakistan, pointing out that the interior minister’s entire family lives in London. “If any harm comes to Pakistan in the future, it will be because of Rehman Malik.” In contrast, he said that his family and his properties and business interests are all in Sindh.

While he shied away from stating that Malik was responsible for former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s death, he said that Malik’s role was not that which would be ‘expected of a PPP supporter.’

(Read: Mirza demands ban on Malik’s entry in Sindh)

Mirza seemed to imply that Rehman Malik’s attempts to reconcile the ruling PPP with the MQM were one of the primary reasons why he (Mirza) – as Sindh home minister – was unable to curb the violence and the bloodshed in Karachi.

Speaking out against MQM

Not for the first time, Zulfiqar Mirza accused the MQM – including the party’s senior leadership – of being responsible for the violence in Karachi and even for trying to divide Pakistan, allegedly at the behest of the United States.

The most specific allegation against the party was Mirza’s contention that six MQM workers were responsible for the killing of Geo News reporter Wali Khan Babar.

“Five men – Mohammad Ali Rizvi, Shakeel, Faisal Mehmood, Shah Rukh and Tahir Naveed – are in custody and one Liaqat is still at large,” claimed Mirza.

He added that he had moved 20 men – ten of whom were facing the death penalty and ten facing life imprisonment – out of prisons in Karachi to prevent them from running criminal networks from behind bars, but that this effort was foiled by Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad Khan (of the MQM), who brought them back to Karachi. He added that 25 ‘known’ target killers were released from jail.

“Saulat Mirza operates his network from death row,” claimed Mirza, referring to a convicted killer allegedly affiliated with the MQM.

He said that he had a list of about 15,000 people who were involved in target killings and affiliated with political parties and went on to claim that the MQM’s electoral strength was dependent on the power of the gun.

“MQM does not have a 100% mandate in Karachi and Hyderabad, but I will admit that their guns successfully get them that mandate,” he said.

Yet even as he once again called for the people of Karachi and Hyderabad to reject the MQM, he apologised once again for his remarks – made at Awami National Party’s Sindh Chief Shahi Syed’s house – that had upset many in the Urdu-speaking community. “The whole nation is not bad. Certain sections are bad,” he said.

(Read: Protesters disperse after full day’s rampage)

The dreaded ‘foreign hand’

Mirza also stated that the MQM appeared to be willing to work with foreign governments in order to strengthen its position within Pakistan and was even willing to go to the extent of breaking up Pakistan.

He claimed to have a letter written by Altaf Hussain in 2001 where the MQM chief told then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair that he would be willing to support the western alliance if the British government helped MQM supporters get jobs in the army and help disband the ISI. Mirza then contrasted himself with the MQM, stating his support for the ISI and the army.

He also claimed to have personally visited the MQM chief at his residence in London, where Altaf Hussain allegedly told him that the MQM was planning on supporting a ‘secret American plot’ to break up Pakistan.

“I can’t stand anyone who talks about splitting this country,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune

Pak Army Failure In Bajaur and Swat Created the Problem of TTP Base In Afghanistan

Cross-border attacks: Troops reinforcement likely on Kunar border

Officials say troops may relocate from tribal areas.

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan might relocate a ‘significant number’ of troops from the lawless tribal areas to man its border towns along Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nuristan provinces to stop the increasing cross-border incursions by al Qaeda-affiliated Taliban, officials have said.

The move is expected to add further complications to Islamabad’s troubled relations with Washington which have, of late, been calling for more deployment in the tribal badlands to combat militants it blamed for attacks on international forces in Afghanistan. A top military official told The Express Tribune on Sunday that authorities had already ordered reinforcing border checkpoints in Chitral and Dir districts after a brazen attack by militants allegedly based in Kunar.

Close to 30 security personnel were killed and some other were missing after approximately 300 armed militants mounted an audacious attack inside Pakistan’s Chitral district on Saturday morning. It was one of several incursions by Taliban from Afghanistan into Pakistan in recent months, forcing Pakistani military authorities to take extra measures to protect areas along the porous and mostly unprotected border.

A huge number of Pakistani Taliban took refuge in Nuristan and Kunar provinces in eastern Afghanistan after they were flushed out from Bajaur tribal district and Swat valley through military operations in 2009. Pakistani officials said that it had also been decided to intensify aerial surveillance of the border to put in place an early warning mechanism in case of militants’ movement from Afghanistan towards Pakistan.

The official, who wished not to be named, added that helicopter gunships and troops will be on standby to react if they were given signals.

When asked, he refused to give the exact number of troops being deployed in Dir and Chitral districts and the areas in tribal regions from where they were being relocated, saying it would be tantamount to revealing ‘operational details’ of a new security policy.

Around 100,000 troops are deployed in the tribal areas to combat Taliban. Though the official did not mention if North Waziristan was among the areas from where troops were being relocated, it might cause more bitterness in Pak-US ties.

Published in The Express Tribune

Faulty policy on the Taliban

Faulty policy on the Taliban

The latest cross-border attack of fugitive Taliban terrorists has mounted tensions between Islamabad and Kabul. Pakistan suffered a huge loss on Saturday when over two dozen security men were killed in another pre-dawn onslaught by 300 terrorists on seven Pakistani check posts in Chitral. There are conflicting reports about the actual death toll in the attack as the intense firing between the security forces and the terrorists continued for hours. The ISPR put it at 25 while the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Malakand division claimed killing 80 security personnel and capturing another six. Lodging a strong protest with Afghanistan’s envoy in Islamabad, Pakistan stressed that ISAF and the Afghan National Army need to take effective measures to thwart such cross-border incursions by the terrorists from their sanctuaries in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan bordering Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Pakistan’s military authorities have held the inadequate presence of Nato and Afghan security forces in the northeastern region of Afghanistan responsible for the attacks. It also said that despite intelligence sharing for the last one year about the large concentrations of the Taliban in the area, Nato and Afghan forces did not take any action against them.

Saturday’s attack on Pakistan’s border security personnel was the sixth deadly attempt since April 21 when 14 Frontier Corps soldiers were killed by terrorists in the Kharkari area of Dir. In four other attacks, more than 50 security men, including civilians, lost their lives. Since the US-led Nato forces withdrew from remote outposts in Kunar and Nuristan, a security vacuum had been created there. The situation required prompt and stringent security measures from Pakistan. But we failed in doing so. Before demanding the Afghan government to check the terrorists, we should question ourselves about what are we doing for our own defence. How effective are our own security measures? Instead of pointing a finger at Nato and Afghan forces, it is time that Pakistan should increase its own security and reinforce the borders. No doubt, ensuring security along the 2,430 kilometre long rugged and porous border that Pakistan shares with Afghanistan is a strenuous task; however, extraordinary situations also entail extraordinary efforts.

Our government and the military authorities should also not buy the TTP’s denial regarding the involvement of the Afghan Taliban in their cross-border raids. It is evident that the Taliban, who had fled from Swat, Dir and Bajaur during the military offensives have taken refuge in the bordering provinces of Kunar and Nuristan and organised themselves with the help of the Afghan Taliban. In collusion with each other, they plan, attack and kill not only Pakistani troops deployed at isolated border checkposts but also the innocent villagers living nearby. We should come out of the fallacy that surrounds the ‘good Taliban’ and ‘bad Taliban’ notion. There is no such division. The Taliban in Pakistan and Afghanistan are one and the same, bent upon carrying on their terrorist activities with impunity. The presence of Taliban sympathisers in both our parliament and the military ranks is not a secret. Our military has been nourishing the Taliban, including the Haqqani network, as its strategic assets since decades. Despite suffering massive human and property losses, our military still seems reluctant in taking action against its Afghan proxies. We have been repeating in this space that these jihadi outfits have to be disbanded once and for all. We need to be for our own survival. Protests to the Afghan government for the menace of terrorism, which we ourselves have inflicted upon us, would not serve any purpose until we change our policy and stop supporting these terror outfits.

Pak. Officials Never Heard Of Alleged “Al Qaeda Number 2” Or His Reported Death

[First they fake Bin Laden’s death, then they fake a new Libyan second in command, only to fake his death now.  The new Libyan leadership of “al Qaeda” must have served some purpose, but now that Obama is being charged with providing Al Qaeda with an air force in Libya, the connection had to be symbolically severed.

Al Qaeda’s second in command killed in drone strike: US

US official said that this was a major blow to al Qaeda. “Atiyah was at the top of al Qaeda’s trusted core. He ran daily operations for the group, and has been Zawahiri’s second-in-command since Bin Laden’s death in May.”

Pakistani officials doubt al Qaeda operative dead

PESHAWAR: Pakistani security officials expressed doubt on Sunday over reports from the United States that it had killed the al Qaeda second-in-command near the Afghan border. A senior US official said on Saturday that Atiyah abd al Rahman had been killed in the northwest tribal area of Waziristan on August 22, without divulging the circumstances of his death. However, local officials in the region told AFP last week that a US drone strike in North Waziristan on that date had killed at least four militants. It was not clear if the two incidents were connected. A senior Pakistani security official in Peshawar told AFP: “We have checked this news report with informers and have worked on it. I doubt the authenticity of this news.” Another security official in Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, said he had received no information on the killing. “For me it is just a rumour. Frankly speaking, we are even not aware that a man with this name is working as deputy chief of al Qaeda,” he added. The officials said the remote, mountainous area, just four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the Afghan border, is inaccessible. “In such cases we rely on information sent from informers. We have not received any type of such a report,” the security official in Mir Ali town, North Waziristan, told AFP.

Is Fethullah Gulen Working for the CIA?

Is Fethullah Gulen Working for the CIA? 


Kurdishaspect.com – By Dr. Aland Mizell

Is Fethullah Gulen really a CIA agent? Or does Fethullah Gulen know how to use the CIA for his interest? Why is the Gulen movement more successful than any other Muslim movement in Turkey or even outside of Turkey? Is the Gulen movement  really chosen by God and making his followers “the chosen ones”? Who introduced Gulen to the Washington Circle?  What was the role of the Jewish community, such as the Anti-Defamation League, in promoting him in the USA?  Gulen and his followers are opportunistic. They know how to use people and systems for their purpose; for example, in the eighties he positioned himself against Communism to get the support of the USA. Gulen never takes risks but rather finds the direction of the wind, and then his followers will do anything to succeed.  I would not be surprised if Gulenists have already infiltrated the CIA. In the past Dr. Necip Hablemitoglu, professor of history at Ankara University studied the relation of Fethullah Gulen’s community with the CIA. In his study he claimed that the CIA used Fethullah Gulen or that Gulen worked for the CIA. Dr. Hablemitoglu was assassinated in 2002, and his case has still not been solved. Regarding Gulen’s connection to the CIA, former Turkish Intelligence Chief, Osman Nuri Gundes, in his memoir claimed that Gulen’s movement has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s, and that in the 90s, the movement sheltered 130 CIA agents at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone. The memoir revealed that the CIA operates in Central Asia by using the Gulenists’ movement. Furthermore, the Washington Post, hastening its news sells, printed the partial and prejudiced coverage of this recently published memoir by Chief Gundes. I think that the publication was an important piece although not a fair, objective news analysis, but rather a marketing tool and a kind of propagandistic journalism for the Gulenists. I think that the author failed to demonstrate the intense secrecy of the organization and neglected to conduct further investigation to see if the Gulenists do have a connection with the CIA.

In addition, the author of the Washington Post article could have interviewed more people not Just Graham Fuller, author of The Future of Political Islam, an ex-CIA agent and former CIA station chief in Afghanistan, and a favorable voice for the movement to see if Fuller’s assertions are relevant or not. It seems Mr. Fuller explicitly denies CIA connections with Gulenists’ missionaries. Further, Fuller claims that he has no knowledge about the Gulenist movement, but then later he adds that he did write a letter to the FBI in 2006 saying that Mr. Gulen is not a danger to US security and urging the government not to deport him to his native country of Turkey. If Graham Fuller does not know much about Gulen, then why would he write a letter to the FBI to say that he is not a danger to American security or to argue against his extradition?  Why would he give a free ride to Gulenists and to Gulen? How long did Fuller study the Gulen movement before he made such statements about Gulen’s role in Central Asia or about his not being a danger? How did Fuller and former USA Ambassador Morton Abramowitz and businessman Ishak Alaton know each other? What was the role of the Anti-Defamation League’s president, Abraham Foxman, and the League’s Deputy National Director, Kenneth Jacobson?  The Post piece was far from investigative reporting.What other liaisons call into question Gulen’s relation to the CIA? To what extent did the CIA and Gulenists collaborate with General Rashid Dostum, the leader of Afghanistan’s minority Uzbek community? In 1998, the Taliban forced Dostum to flee to Turkey; he returned from exile in Turkey to Afghanistan in April 2001. Seeing his potential, President Hamid Karzai appointed Dostum as Chief of Staff to the Commander In Chief of the Armed Forces in 2005. What reshaping or alliances occurred during those three years in Turkey?

Besides the CIA, another group Gulen used and became significantly connected with was the US Jewish community and with the worldwide one, chiefly through Ishak Alaton, co- founder and chairman of the executive board of Alarko Holding Company. Alaton is one of the wealthiest business tycoons in the world, owning Alarko with its interests primarily in energy, land development, housing, investment, tourism, and other enterprises. He is a Jew raised in Turkey. Having been a courageous public voice for Gulen and Gulenists in Turkey and abroad, he is very close to Gulen and regularly keeps in touch thanks to his worldwide contacts. In any difficulties Gulen and Gulenists ask for help from Alaton. For example, the Alaton’s had close business alliances in Turkmenistan, so that when Gulen’s schools ran into political trouble, Gulen asked for his help to keep his schools open there. Also, when the Russian authorities closed down his operations and did not let Gulenists open schools in Russia, Gulen sent Ishak Alaton to tell the Russian authority that Gulen’s followers were not fundamentalists and to lend Alaton’s credibility in testifying that they were safe. In 2006, when Gulen had problems with his immigration in the US, one of Gulen’s closest friends, Ahmet Kara, and the editor of the Zaman newspaper, Ekrem Dumanli, again asked help from Alaton because the Gulenist leaders were nervous about how to prevent his deportation from America.  Alaton asked help from the former USA Ambassador to Turkey, Morton Abramowitz.  In part through Abramowitz’s intervention and other CIA letters of recommendation besides Fuller’s, the US Office for Immigration did not deport Gulen to his native country of Turkey.

Like the CIA, Gulenists thrive on secrecy. For Gulenists a strategy without
tactics is the slowest route to accomplish their goals. The core of the
organization is secrecy (Sir Tutmak) and caution (Tedbirli olmak) because
tactics without an overarching strategy for them is the noise before the defeat. Secrecy becomes an addiction for Gulenists. They are trained not to give information away, and, according to Gulen. Keeping a secret is equivalent to guarding one’s chastity. Keeping secrets whether personal, collegial, or national is like keeping themselves chaste, so they must be meticulous about keeping the secret as they would be about their honor. Conversely those who spread secrets damage their honor and reputation by leaving them unguarded. Before a candidate joins the organization the Gulenists will indoctrinate the student about how to keep secrets.  If followers want to tell someone a secret, they must be sure that they can trust him or her with their honor. An unreliable person, one who is ignorant of the value of chastity, should not be entrusted with keeping a secret. Gulen explains this doctrine in his Pearls of Wisdom.  He teaches that hearts are created as safes for keeping secrets. Intelligence is their lock; will power is their key. No one can break into the safe and steal its valuables if the lock or keys are not faulty. He urges his followers to bear in mind that those who carry others’ secrets to you might bear yours to others. Further, he cautions them not to give such tactless people any chance to learn even the smallest details of your private concerns. A secret is a power only as long as it stays with its owner but is a weapon that may be used against its owner if it passes into the hands of others. Developing his point, Gulen explains, “This is the meaning of one of our traditional sayings: ‘The secret is your slave but you become its slave if you disclose it.’” The details of many important affairs can be protected only if they are kept secret. Often enough when the involved parties do not keep certain matters secret no progress is achieved. In addition, serious risks might confront those who are involved particularly if the matter concerns delicate issues of national life and its continuation. This doctrine admonishes them, “Explain what you must but never give away all of your secrets. Those who freely publicize the secrets of their hearts drag themselves and their nation toward an inevitable downfall .If a state cannot protect its secrets from its enemies it cannot develop. If an army reveals its strategy to its antagonists it cannot attain victory. If key workers are won over by the competitors their employers cannot succeed.” Secrecy undergirds Gulen’s life and movement.

If Gulen does not have a secret agenda, then why would his followers be so
secretive? The truth never envelops itself in mystery, yet we see that
Gulenists’ claims about tolerance, interfaith dialogue, justice, peace and
equality slowly reveal the reality behind the movement as it developed in
Turkey. What Gulenists want is total power and one-man rule; they want a status so that none could dare to object to them or to their leader, because they sincerely believe that Allah has chosen them to disseminate their brand of Turkish Islam to the world, and therefore that everything they do is right and without mistakes. That is why the best weapon for a dictator’s regime is secrecy, but the best weapon for a real democracy is openness and transparency, is it not? How democratic, open, and transparent are the Gulenists?

Why did the CIA support Gulenists in Central Asia? It is no secret that the CIA and Washington support Gulenists in Central Asia to counter the Iranian version of the Shia religious influence there.  After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, there was a social, political, and religious vacuum. Central Asian states were weak, so obviously the world would ask who would fill that vacuum. Even at that time when Gulen sent his followers to Central Asia, he asked them to hasten, urging, “If you don’t go now, later this door could be closed, and others will fill your place.” It was not a surprise that Islam filled that vacuum because the majority of the Central Asian countries have a Muslim heritage. Having recently emerged from an atheistic Communism, they more readily embraced their traditional religion. But after the collapse of Soviet Union the balance of power changed as well. Before this downfall, the East was dominated by the Soviet Union and the West by America, but afterwards the United States became the single superpower and thus had its chance to extend its power to Central Asia.

Another player that tried to benefit from this power vacuum, thus bringing about the US alliance with Gulen , was Iran, because it was important for Iran to be involved in the political and social process of Central Asian countries, Furthermore, Iran wanted to influence the newly independent states with the Shia version of Islam, so that they could export the Islamic revolution to these countries and thereby tie them more closely to Iran.  Iran’s neighboring Central Asian country, Tajikistan, does not have Turkic roots but rather is more Persian.  Because of the hostile relations between Iran and the United States, the collapse of the Soviet bloc was not a desirable event for Iran because Iran and the Soviet Union were allies to confront the United States. Therefore, the collapse of the Soviet Union raised the question about which model the Central Asian countries should use as an example. There were two choices: one was Iran whose hostility against the US interests in the region were well known, and the second choice was Turkey.  The US was nervous that Iran would back a radical
Islamic movement in the Central Asian countries to create Islamic regimes that would be loyal to Iran and threatening to American national interests in the region; therefore, Washington urged the Central Asian countries to adopt the Turkish model, which at the time was supposed to be based on secularism, a free market economy, and democracy. Then in 1992, the US Secretary of the State, James Baker, during his trip to Central Asia, urged the Central Asian countries to adopt the seemingly secular and democratic Turkish model for their political and economical development, not the Iranian model. Especially after 9/11, the US invasion of Afghanistan increased the political will that the US should more intensely confront Iran because the US claimed Iran made it more difficult to win the battle against terrorism because it aided Al-Qaida.

Thus, Turkey and Iran began fighting for a new hegemonic power in Central Asia. Because of the new states’ religious and ethnic ties with Turkey, the demise of U.S.S.R. opened a new door of opportunity for Turkey to renew its kinship with them and its interest in their rich resources, and many Muslims, opened a vast number of schools and invested in businesses there for the long run. However, after the Soviet Union fell, a political space allowed for the rapid growth of Fundamentalism as well as for new national identities. Many Central Asian students went outside their countries, especially to Saudi Arabia and to Egypt to relearn their religion. In response the Gulen community established his religious schools to compete with Iranian Shi’ism and Saudi Wahabism in the region. Turkey desired to influence the republics with its Sunni religion, and Iran wanted to promulgate its Shia sect. In the face of these alternatives, the United States’ policy urged Turkey to become the dominant model for social-political and economic development in Central Asia and in the Middle East. The U.S. viewed Turkey as a democratic country with a free market economy that would influence the newly independent Central Asian countries. Consequently, Washington saw the influence of the Turkish brand of Islam in the Central Asia in a short run as in America’s interest but in the long run understood that it could backfire.

The story of the CIA’s involvement in this strategy emerges at this point. In
the short run the Turkish social and economic model would restrain the Iranian model of Fundamental Islam and thus slow the growth of Fundamentalism in Central Asia and would prevent a confrontational approach to the region’s problems. But Washington did not calculate the long-term US interest in the region because in the long run aligning with Turkish Islam could backfire and could damage the U.S.’s economic interests in the Central Asian and Middle Eastern regions. For example, in 1979, the U.S. supported the small evil Taliban regime in order to
contain the seemingly larger evil of the Soviet Union. After defeating the
bigger evil, the small evil became problematic for the U.S. in that region. The U.S.’s interest in Central Asia would be affected long-term by the new growth of the Turkish version of Islam. Today this version of Islam has become almost a dominant power in Central Asia especially in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Azerbaijan. The political space to gain such power may have resulted from Gulen’s courtship with the CIA in those countries.

I do not know why CIA agents still deny that they know about this association. Because of Fethullah Gulen’s vast network of schools and businesses, thousands of students are graduating each year from those schools, speaking Turkish, practicing the Turkish version of Islam, and moving into key governmental positions. With this strategy Gulen seeks to bring back the Ottoman Empire. Yet, Washington sees the movement only as an alternative to radicalism. Politically as well as religiously Turkey has been fighting for a long time for a new hegemonic power in the Middle East. In addition, Turkey and Iran have been competing for Islamic leadership. Who is the best suited to represent Islam? Turkish Muslims, like Fethullah Gulen, argue that the Ottoman Empire represented Islam for almost six hundred years, and thus the Turks are the only Muslims who represent true Islam. That’s why the CIA supports Gulen’s sect, and it is well known.  If the CIA agents do not know anything about the Gulen movement, that means the US foreign interests  are in danger, but, of course, the CIA, like Gulen, deny they do not have any relation because both are trained well and require covert operations for their success.Gulen urged his followers not to act prematurely, because it might cost them heavily. Gulen teaches his followers to know their enemy, explaining that if they know the enemy and know themselves, then they do not need to fear the outcome. Gulen trains his followers like CIA agents, thereby creating good obedient young soldiers ready to give their life for the purpose of this (Hizmet) service. I would claim that Gulenists are not working for the CIA, but rather Gulenists are using the CIA for their interest. They know how to use people for their purpose. For example, if today Gulenists’ schools are not closed in Central Asian countries, it is because Gulenists secretly sent the former President of Turkey, Turgot Özal, to visit the schools in Central Asian countries and to tell the heads of the States that they are not a threat, like CIA agent Fuller told the US government that Gulen is not a threat to the USA. The public did not know that the former President of Turkey had a connection with Gulen and his movement; the public did not know that Gulen secretly sent Özal to Central Asia to prevents his schools from being closed; the public did not know that Gulen sent former president Özal to the Balkans to promote his schools as well until Özal died in 1993, when Opal’s connecting with the movement became public. Also, Gulen himself one time said that he asked then President Özal, to intervene because the Gulenists had been kicked out of the military and police academy.  Özal’ s answered to Gulen that he had been followed by the Turkish intelligence and everything had been wired, so the Gulenists knew that the CIA had been following them even infiltrated within them; that is why they were so careful.

Did the CIA help Gulenists in Uzbekistan or not? What went wrong in the summer of 1994-1995 in Uzbekistan?  Why did so many Gulenists teachers and bellet men (dormitory counselors) go to Turkey for summer vacations and were not able to return to Uzbekistan? The Gulenists are not working for the CIA because in Uzbekistan in the summer of 1994, more than 150 Gulenists belletmen and teachers went to back to Turkey for summer vacation, but also more than 100 belletmen stayed in Uzbekistan, supposedly the first group would take their turn first, go to Turkey, and then come back so the next group could go. But they could not come back to Uzbekistan again because President Kerimov suspected their acvitivities and closed some of the schools. Thus, the half of the teachers and belletmen who were left behind in Uzbekistan could not go back to Turkey, because if they went back, they would not have been re-admitted and that would have been the end of the Gulenist movement in Uzbekistan. Gulen feared the closings could spread to other neighboring countries. He tried everyway to solve the problem, but the Uzbek government did not change its decision. It closed the schools and did not let the followers who had gone to Turkey back into Uzbekistan.

Gulenists used all their power but still failed; the reason they failed to solve
the problem with the Uzbek government was because one of the high positions in Gulen’s organization gave the sensitive information to the Uzbek government. The person who gave information was in charge of the belletmen, all the schools, and the English department; of course, some of the belletmens who stayed in Uzbekistan did nothing for almost one year, wasted their time, were upset, and wanted to kill the person, but Gulenists deported the person to Turkey. No one knows what happened to that person, whether he was excommunicated or whether he stayed in Turkey, but the rest of belletmens were sent to the neighboring countries of Kazakhstan, Kirgizstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkmenistan. It is not a secret that the CIA and the American government supported the Gulenist movement in Central Asia against Iran‘s influence there. Gulen slowly explained the connection with Ozal and the politics, but in reality, Gulen would say in public that they were not close to any party, but behind closed doors, he would support Ozal. To them, the party, ideology, or principles that “the host” is following is irrelevant; what matters for them is how they can use a person, institution, or source for their interest in a kind of symbiotic relationship. Furthermore, the founder and former leader of the Leftist Demokratik Sol Parti, Bulent Ecevit, praised Gulen during the soft coup against Gulen in 1995 and 1997. Ecevit convinced the secular military that Gulen and his community were serving the country with their schools. In particular, he noted that their schools in the Central Asian republics had decreased Iran’s influence there. It is true that the US embassy and consulates in Central Asia made it easy for Gulenists to get visas to come to the States from post-Soviet countries; for example, the president of a university in Georgia is the mother of the President of Georgia.
Students from those schools and particularly Gulenists’ favorite students have an easy way to come to the USA. Some of their schools even have a connection under the academic and student platform to come to the States. Why would the Gulenists deny their relation to the CIA? The truth seems to be optional for Gulenists. According to Gulen’s teachings, his followers have an obligation to know the truth but that truth cannot be revealed anywhere anytime, because if the time is not right, they cannot tell the truth.  For example, the strategy of denial is fabricated to appear that they are not part of any movement or community if any charge against them appears in the news. Sometimes if they need to prevaricate for the sake of the movement, they can deny any accusation, and by being cautious not give way all the information. Rather, they are to work patiently and silently until all the institutions are in order to seize power. Timing about when and how to reveal their true goal is very crucial for the Gulenists. Gulenists are experts on how to buy and use persons for their interest.

Therefore, a lie can be justified. Gulenists are very good at using someone for their interest; it does not matter whether he is a criminal or a dictator as
long as he or she helps his movement to advance. A good example is the President of Turkmenistan, who is a dictator, but they praised him. Gulen trained his followers that when they go to a place, not to denigrate the authority even if he is cruel because if they do, he will harm them or their cause.

Because of their secrecy, deception, unethical tactics for silencing critics
including threats and intimidation, deliberate misinformation campaigns,
brainwashing, and the use of bribery to recruit supporters, the movement is
successful. Gulen has done his calculations many times before his followers go to battle. Sun Tzu said, “He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot, will be victorious.” Gulenists know their enemy well and that is why they do not fear the result of their fight. The problem is that the West does not know that the enemy is within, so they should be worried about the result of the fight. A country can survive its fools and its opportunists; however, it cannot endure the enemy from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly, like Al-Qaida. But the enemy within moves freely amongst those within the gates, but surely he is whispering and rustling through all the alleys. For the enemy within speaks, eats, acts, dresses, and behaves in ways familiar to his victims. I do not believe Gulen’s schools and civic organizations are merely motivated by the selfless desire to promote education, but rather they aim to foster the Ottoman Empire’s ideology and to have global
power. What other organizations promoting civil society are so secretive,
reactive, murky, and opaque? What other organization encourage their
organization to infiltrate all the institutions and establishments? As for his relation to CIA, it is clearly mutual and symbolic one. As in Biology, the two live in association with one another. The specific from of symbiosis is mutualism in that both benefits. The CIA believes that it ameliorates radicalism by associating with Gulenists, and Gulen receives the protection and a foil by the CIA’s involvement

The Turkish model–“Islamism” Lite

The Turkish model

A hard act to follow

In many ways Turkey’s Islamists seem to have got things right. But it took them a long time to emerge from the country’s army-guided secularism

Advice from Erdogan (right) for Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of Libya’s rebel council

PALE, bespectacled and polite, Bekir Berat Ozipek, a young professor at Istanbul’s Commerce University, is no street-fighter. But he was excited by the heady atmosphere he experienced on a recent trip to Egypt. He and two fellow Turkish scholars went to a conference at the University of Cairo where their ideas on civil-military relations were keenly gobbled up.

Then late one night, on the eve of a big protest, they went to Tahrir Square, the heart of Egypt’s uprising. They loved what they found: young people directing traffic, exuberant songs and slogans, a joker imitating ex-President Hosni Mubarak. Then they dived into a restaurant, where their chat about Egypt’s political system was joined by youngsters at the next table, as well as the waiter. Mr Ozipek thought he was living in the era of Voltaire.

A few days earlier another Turkish-Arab encounter took place. Ahmet Davutoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, was winding up a visit to rebel-controlled Libya when he decided, to his minders’ alarm, to go to the central square of Benghazi, which like its Cairene counterpart is called Tahrir, or Liberation. As the crowd chanted “Erdogan, Turkey, Muslim”, he brought greetings from his prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and told them: “We have a common future and a history.”

From North Africa to the Gulf, the region seems to be going through a Turkish moment. In years past Turkey’s spotty democracy was often cited to prove a negative: the Turkish case (along with Indonesia’s and Malaysia’s, also with reservations) showed that Islam did not pose an insuperable barrier to multiparty democracy. But nothing much flowed from that observation—until the Arab spring. Turkey is now being studied by Arabs as a unique phenomenon: a movement of moderate Islamists, the Justice and Development (AK) party, has overseen an economic boom, boosted the country’s standing and shown that the coming to power of pious people need not mean a dramatic rupture in ties with the West.

Whatever the flaws of the Turkish experiment, it is clearly true that Turkey under the AK party presents a more benign picture than many other versions—real and hypothetical—of Islamist rule. The country has gained influence in the Middle East by keeping cordial ties with Iran and standing up for the Palestinians. But there is no suggestion that it will leave NATO or cut diplomatic links, however strained, with Israel. Life has been made easier for pious Muslims in ways that secular Turks dislike; but so far, at least, Turkey is a long way from any Iranian-style enforcement of female dress, let alone a clerical class that has the final say in all big decisions.

For Western observers of the Middle East, an evolution in a Turkish direction—towards relative political and economic freedom—would be a happier outcome than many others. So is there any reason why the Arab countries, having passed through their current upheavals, should not live happily, and Turkishly, ever after?

In fact, there are many reasons to be cautious about expecting Arabs to follow Turks. Turkey’s moderate Islamism did not evolve overnight. Its emergence, and taming, took a long time; it depended on many countervailing forces, including an army which was firm in its defence of a secular constitution, and was strong enough, at least until recently, to deter any imposition of Islamic rule (see article).

Both in Turkey and Egypt veterans of political Islam have seen a mixture of repression and limited participation in politics—but in Egypt the repression was harsher and the opportunities to practise democracy fewer. Albeit with fits and starts, Turkey’s Islamists had already learned some political lessons when they took power in 2002. And compared with many other politically active armies, Turkey’s has played a disinterested role. After taking power in 1980, the army moved fairly soon to restart multiparty politics and launch a free-market experiment. It did give a sop to Islam by introducing religion in schools; but that was a modest concession, made from a position of strength.

Compared with its Arab counterparts, Turkey’s secular order has deep roots, going back to the creation of a republic by Mustafa Kemal in 1923. Modern Turkey’s defining event—the defeat of a Greek expeditionary force dispatched with Western backing—was also the starting-point of a ruthless reform effort whose declared aims included “fighting religion” and ending the theocratic backwardness of the Ottomans. For decades afterwards, memory of this victorious moment was enough to fill secular nationalists with confidence, and put pious forces on the defensive.

As a largely devout Muslim nation, Turkey never ceased to produce charismatic religious leaders, but they had to adapt to the realities of a secular republic or else face prison or exile. To this day Turkey’s political and legal system bears the marks of years of army-guided secularism. Even Turkey’s Islamists remain “children of the republic”, says Berna Turam, a scholar at Boston’s Northeastern University.

Guidance from Fethullah Gulen
These days the religious teacher who wields most influence over the Turks is Fethullah Gulen, who lives in America and forms the apex of a huge conglomerate that includes NGOs, firms, newspapers and college dormitories in Turkey, plus schools across the world. Whatever the ultimate aim of Mr Gulen, his talk is Western-friendly: he mixes the vocabulary of Sufism with language that is broadly pro-business and pro-democracy.

In contrast to many Arab Islamists he tries to please Christians and Jews. Turkish sceptics say the Gulen movement is more fundamentalist, and less liberal, at its hard core than its benign external face would suggest. The fate of several journalists who have tried probing it, and found themselves prosecuted or jailed, lends weight to that belief. People who criticise the movement can face nasty smear campaigns.

But followers of Mr Gulen claim that meetings they held in the 1990s had a huge influence on Mr Erdogan, persuading him to abandon the idea of an Islamic state. Mr Gulen made an unusual break with the government after last year’s killing of nine Turks by Israeli commandos who swooped on a ship taking supplies to Gaza. He said it was partly the Turkish side’s fault: the flotilla should not have defied Israel. Thus, when Mr Erdogan faces pressure from pious mentors, it is not to be more radical but rather the opposite.

Another feature of Turkish Islamism is the number of thriving businesses with ties to the Gulen movement. Among the drivers of Turkey’s expansion—the country’s GDP per head is three times that of Egypt, with a similar population—are provincial entrepreneurs. It is now commonplace to stress the AK party’s roots in the new Anatolian bourgeoisie, and its appeal to the consumers of the country’s new-found wealth: people who mix Muslim piety with a taste for expensive cars. These groups set limits to the AK party’s ambitions; like most rich folk they favour stability. In the Arab world there are middle-class Muslims who look with envy at the confidence of their Turkish counterparts.

Ibrahim Kalin, an adviser to Mr Erdogan, posits another difference between AK and political Islam as it emerged in Egypt and Pakistan in the 20th century. Even when pretending not to, the latter movements always dreamed of a powerful Islamic government, using the tools of modern statehood, like universal education, to impose a Muslim order. AK, by contrast, lives comfortably in a world of “lighter” states, where other agencies, including NGOs, the private sector and academia can play a bigger role.

In AK circles it is common to hear such postmodern talk mixed with nostalgia for the Ottoman era, when each faith ran its own system of education and personal law. Ali Bulac, a columnist, argues that citizens with civil disputes should consider Muslim arbitration: he says that could be combined with retaining the secular penal code, a cornerstone of the republic. Muslim democracy alla turca is already an unusual creature, and is still mutating.

This latest infringment upon your civil rights brought to you by your friends at the NYPDCIA

hare

Cia

This is almost exactly the kind of thing the CIA is out-and-out prohibited from doing:

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the New York Police Department has become one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic intelligence agencies, targeting ethnic communities in ways that would run afoul of civil liberties rules if practiced by the federal government, an Associated Press investigation has found.

The operations have benefited from unprecedented help from the CIA, a partnership that has blurred the line between foreign and domestic spying.

The department has dispatched undercover officers, known as “rakers,” into minority neighborhoods as part of a human mapping program, according to officials directly involved in the program. They’ve monitored daily life in bookstores, bars, cafes and nightclubs. Police have also used informants, known as “mosque crawlers,” to monitor sermons, even when there’s no evidence of wrongdoing.

Neither the city council, which finances the department, nor the federal government, which has given NYPD more than $1.6 billion since 9/11, is told exactly what’s going on.

Many of these operations were built with help from the CIA, which is prohibited from spying on Americans but was instrumental in transforming the NYPD’s intelligence unit.

First it becomes uncontroversial for the CIA to de facto direct domestic spying operations. Soon it’s hardly a hop, skip, or jump from that to saying, “Hey, we might as well just do this ourselves. It’ll be cheaper. Belt-tightening! Austerity!” I’m not always  so fond of slippery-slope arguments, but this one hardly requires one to bust out the tin-foil hat.

What makes this even more disconcerting, however, is the content of the operations the CIA is now second-degree running in NYC, which are patently based upon racial profiling. Take this less-than-wholly-convincing non-sequitur response from an NYPD official, supposedly explaining how that’s just simply not true:

The NYPD assigned undercover officers to monitor neighborhoods, looking for potential trouble. Using census data, police matched undercover officers to ethnic communities and instructed them to blend in, the officials said. They hung out in hookah bars and cafes, quietly observing the community around them.

The unit, which has been undisclosed until now, became known inside the department as the Demographic Unit, former police officials said.

“It’s not a question of profiling. It’s a question of going where the problem could arise,” said Mordecai Dzikansky, a retired NYPD intelligence officer who said he was aware of the Demographic Unit. “And thank God we have the capability. We have the language capability and the ethnic officers. That’s our hidden weapon.”

Cohen said he wanted the squad to “rake the coals, looking for hot spots,” former officials recalled. The undercover officers soon became known inside the department as rakers.

For years, detectives also used informants known as mosque crawlers to monitor weekly sermons and report what was said, several current and former officials directly involved in the informant program said. If FBI agents were to do that, they would be in violation of the Privacy Act, which prohibits the federal government from collecting intelligence on purely First Amendment activities.

Browne, the NYPD spokesman, flatly denied the accounts of mosque crawlers and rakers. He said the NYPD only uses undercover officers and informants to follow leads, not to target ethnic neighborhoods.

Nearly ten years after September 11, our law enforcement agencies are still operating as if it were 9/12/2001, with all the hysteria and short-sightedness that entails.

Americans Pull Saudi Strings, To Dangle Arab League Puppets Before the Syrian Dictator

[Puppets controlling other puppets–a uniquely American psy-op.]

 Nabil al-Arabi

Nabil al-Arabi, Secretary General of the Arab League. Picture: AP Source: AP

THE Arab League has announced a peace initiative to solve the crisis in Syria as more people were killed by government forces and activists called for prayers for the “martyrs”.

Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi would head to Damascus bearing “an initiative to solve the crisis” in Syria, a statement said yesterday after a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo.

The latest bloodletting claimed two lives in Syria on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

It said a demonstrator was killed and 10 were hurt when security forces attacked a group of people who were leaving the Rifai mosque in the capital.

One person was killed and five were wounded in Kafar Nabel, in the Idlib province of northwest Syria, where “dozens” were arrested in raids yesterday.

On Friday, security forces shot dead at least seven of the protesters rallying in their tens of thousands across Syria.

The unrelenting violence and bloodshed prompted Arab League foreign ministers to meet yesterday. Mr Arabi would take “an initiative” to Damascus, a statement said yesterday.

The ministers also called to end the bloodshed in Syria “before it is too late” and for “respecting the right of the Syrian people to live in security and respecting their legitimate aspirations for political and social reforms.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin was quoted as saying “a very important envoy from Moscow” would visit Damascus today. The Russian text urges Syria to expedite reforms.

Iran has urged Assad’s government to listen to the people’s demands. “The government should answer to the demands of its people, be it Syria, Yemen or other countries,” Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said.

AFP

How Libya was won, by NATO and special forces

Op-Ed: How Libya was won, by NATO and special forces

NATO Bombs Tripoli

Last week NATO shamelessly weighed-in on the side of the rebels with the help of special forces on the ground. Without it, the rebels would never have won. There is now talk that NATO has broken international law. So what role did they really play?

Sirte. Sunday August 28. Time: Zero Hour“Subka and his unit waited at the rebel frontline, known as Kilometre Sixty, aboard a column of battered, black pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns and a few tanks recently captured from Gaddafi’s forces. “We are with the England team,” he told the Guardian “They advise us.”Special forces from Britain and France are on the ground advising on strategy and tactics for the coming assault and pin pointing targets for NATO airstrikes, in order to clear the path for the rebel advance. Resistance from loyalists has been stiff, but Subka is confident. “We don’t worry about those units – they are Nato’s concern.”However, on Friday NATO was quick to deny the crucial role it was playing. Al Arabiya reported a press conference at which its spokesperson Lungescu insisted that NATO was sticking to its United Nations mandate, limited to protecting civilians from any attacks. “There is no military coordination with the rebels,” she said.When asked for his opinion on the statement Shashank Joshi, a Libyan war expert at the Royal United Services Institute in London, pulled no punches. The NATO denials are “absolute rubbish,” he said. “There’s overwhelming evidence that NATO was not only helping the rebels but that it was a decisive and critical partner to the rebels. It was really engaged in a close and intimate level of coordination and support, without which the rebels could not have won this conflict, so I don’t believe a single word NATO is saying,” he added.More and more information is now coming to light on the decisive role played by NATO in the fall of Tripoli. Moreover, while kept secret until now, we are also learning more about how special forces from Britain, France, Qatar and Jordan helped pave the way for the victory. It is now clear that Gaddafi would probably still be in power without them.In an op-ed on Saturday Andrew Rawnsley said “ I asked a member of the National Security Council whether there was any chance that the rebellion could have overthrown Gaddafi without outside assistance. He responded bluntly: “None at all. There’s no chance they could have done it without us.”Just two weeks ago the situation was entirely different. Everything seemed bogged down in a protracted stalemate on all fronts. The assassination of General Younes had cast doubts over the opposition’s ability to remain united enough to overthrow the regime and conversely, Gaddafi appeared to be more durable than anyone had expected. All eyes were fixed on political efforts to find a negotiated settlement, which seemed the only plausible solution to end the conflict.What broke the stalemate in Libya was the West’s decision to make a radical change in its strategy of regime change and the character of its military intervention through NATO. With fears about splits in NATO and even doubts about its very existence if the mission floundered, together with the overhanging fear that the West would again be held responsible for another failed state, envoys bent over backwards in talks with the regime to find a way out of the conflict, even to the point of offering Gaddafi the possibility of staying in Libya, exempt from ICC prosecution.But Gaddafi wouldn’t budge and he evidently had the support of his inner circle, who gave no indication that they were likely to cave in. Caught between a clicking clock and a closed door, the West decided it had no choice but to launch a major military offensive, in the hope that it would force Gaddafi to surrender.NATO swung into action quickly. Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller from the Washington Post reported that NATO and U.S. military and intelligence officials had revealed that, ”an opposition strategy (was) put in place two weeks ago with the advice of British, French and Qatari special forces on the ground”Preparations for a possible attack upon Tripoli had, in fact, been going on much longer. British, French, Qatari and Jordanian special forces had spent months training rebels from the Western Mountains for a future attack on Tripoli. Eventually, they succeeded in organizing the raggedy groups of rebels into a cohesive force, which was prepared to follow an organized battle plan, under a central command.On the key Saturday, August 13, when the rebel forces advanced on coastal and southern towns and rebels in Misrata made a determined push on Zlitan, TIME reported that NATO flew 105 sorties “including 36 strike missions against targets near Tripoli, Brega, Gharyan, Sirte and Zlitan. The targets included military facilities, command and control nodes, and both surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missile sites.”A reporter with the rebels described the scene around Zlitan, “Testimony to the deadly effect of Nato’s bombing was evident along the highway leading out of the city. Concrete buildings used as bunkers by Gaddafi’s forces were flattened, while tanks were ripped apart, their turrets and tracks strewn across the road. Further south, all that remained of an ammunition truck was a blackened carpet of splinters.”When asked if NATO was acting as the rebel’s air force a NATO official acknowledged in a typically oblique way that “the effect of what we were doing was not dissimilar.”Such precision bombing wasn’t possible without the profession expertise of special forces troops on the ground spotting targets and advising on tactics. This was underlined by another report in the Guardian, which explained that “the information from the ground gave British commanders the confidence to order RAF pilots to release laser and GPS-guided bombs and missiles on buildings identified as being used by Gaddafi forces. (even including a Turkish restaurant!)However, the Washington Post revealed that these special forces also involved undercover US intelligence units. “CIA operatives inside the country intercepted communications within the government” providing “a deeper understanding of just how badly Gaddafi’s command structure had crumbled.” The effect was devastating. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that NATO had destroyed Gaddafi’s military communications to such an extent that “he is forced to use the TV to send messages to his troops about where to attack and defend.”Intelligence gathered was, in turn, passed onto the rebels on the ground to facilitate their advance. NATO “provided a lot of imagery on the locations of the Gaddafi forces, so, as the rebels were getting into their positions when they came around the south and up into the west side of Tripoli, (they) had a good sense of where (Gaddafi’s) forces were at.”In this way, NATO obliterated Gaddafi’s defenses often in advance of rebels reaching each town and/or during key moments in the battles. The BBC reported that “Nato’s relentless pounding of armour and artillery east of Zawiya greatly softened up government units, breaking down much of the resistance that would otherwise have slowed the rebel path.”Illustrating how effective the attacks were and how grateful the rebels were, the UK Independent printed an interview with a rebel soldier involved in the attack on Sabratha. “Mr Nato came and fired six missiles at seven o’clock in the morning. Boom, boom, boom and it was all over,” “Oh yes, we are all very grateful to Mr Nato here.” Asked why he thought they would win, another rebel replied “I believe in Allah – and Nato.”However, the preferred policy of the West was still to try to negotiate a political settlement, by surrounding Tripoli and forcing Gaddafi back to the negotiating table on their terms. The Financial Times spelled out Western concerns on August 17, when it warned that “the rebels’ commanders must take care not to jeopardize the stability of the post-Gaddafi state by launching an all-out assault on Tripoli. Even if successful, such an attack would almost certainly result in a bloodbath among rebels, regime supporters and civilians. The seeds of vengeance and anarchy would be sown.”But by now the situation was no longer in NATO’s hands. The rebels had the wind behind their sails and an unstoppable momentum had built up. Intoxicated with their successes, the rebels sights were fixed on one goal only- getting as quickly as possible to the center of Tripoli and hoisting the rebel flag on Martyrs’ Square. Once reports of uprisings in the capital came through, nothing was going to hold them back. neither NATO nor the NTC, nor even their own commanders.Consequently NATO had no choice but to go the whole nine yards and hope for the best. As the rebels approached Tripoli, global intelligence agency STRATFOR described the scene “What is happening now is the movement of the forces into attack positions, logistical support being brought in, preliminary targeted artillery fire and air strikes with special operations teams already in place doing careful targeting, and psychological warfare against the defenders.”Identifying the pivotal role of NATO should not take away from the incredible heroism and tenacity of the rebel fighters. In particular, the final word must go to the courageous people of Tripoli. Had they not risen up, the rebel fighters would probably have been stalled at the gates of the city. As the Guardian stated, “The secret of the uprising’s final days of success lay in a popular revolt in the working-class districts of the capital, which did most of the hard work of throwing off the rule of secret police and military cliques. It succeeded so well that when revolutionary brigades entered the city from the west, many encountered little or no resistance, and they walked right into the center of the capital.”Worrying pockets of resistance from Gaddafi forces remain, which suggest that the West is not quite won. Indeed, the Libyan “Wild West” will take a long time to be tamed. ‘Order first, then law will follow” was a motto of the earlier American frontier settlers. Bringing order to Libya’s “Wild West” is likely to be a difficult and bloody affair and, until such time as the multitude of different militias and tribes agree to lay down their arms, power and law may well continue to rest mainly in the hands of gunslingers.

Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/310878#ixzz1WKlKA3ah

Bantustans and the unilateral declaration of statehood

http://desertpeace.files.wordpress.com/2011/08/boycott-apartheid.jpg

Bantustans and the unilateral declaration of statehood

The PA leadership in Ramallah is leading the Palestinian movement of independence to a dead end with its proposed unilateral call for Palestinian statehood. (Thaer Ganaim/MaanImages)

From a rumor, to a rising murmur, the proposal floated by the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) Ramallah leadership to declare Palestinian statehood unilaterally has suddenly hit center stage. The European Union, the United States and others have rejected it as “premature,” but endorsements are coming from all directions: journalists, academics, nongovernmental organization activists, Israeli right-wing leaders (more on that later). The catalyst appears to be a final expression of disgust and simple exhaustion with the fraudulent “peace process” and the argument goes something like this: if we can’t get a state through negotiations, we will simply declare statehood and let Israel deal with the consequences.

But it’s no exaggeration to propose that this idea, although well-meant by some, raises the clearest danger to the Palestinian national movement in its entire history, threatening to wall Palestinian aspirations into a political cul-de-sac from which it may never emerge. The irony is indeed that, through this maneuver, the PA is seizing — even declaring as a right — precisely the same dead-end formula that the African National Congress (ANC) fought so bitterly for decades because the ANC leadership rightly saw it as disastrous. That formula can be summed up in one word: Bantustan.

It has become increasingly dangerous for the Palestinian national movement that the South African Bantustans remain so dimly understood. If Palestinians know about the Bantustans at all, most imagine them as territorial enclaves in which black South Africans were forced to reside yet lacked political rights and lived miserably. This partial vision is suggested by Mustafa Barghouthi’s recent comments at the Wattan Media Centre in Ramallah, when he cautioned that Israel wanted to confine the Palestinians into “Bantustans” but then argued for a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood within the 1967 boundaries — although nominal “states” without genuine sovereignty are precisely what the Bantustans were designed to be.

Apartheid South Africa’s Bantustans were not simply sealed territorial enclaves for black people. They were the ultimate “grand” formula by which the apartheid regime hoped to survive: that is, independent states for black South Africans who — as white apartheid strategists themselves keenly understood and pointed out — would forever resist the permanent denial of equal rights and political voice in South Africa that white supremacy required. As designed by apartheid architects, the ten Bantustans were designed to correspond roughly to some of the historical territories associated with the various black “peoples” so that they could claim the term “Homelands.” This official term indicated their ideological purpose: to manifest as national territories and ultimately independent states for the various black African “peoples” (defined by the regime) and so secure a happy future for white supremacy in the “white” Homeland (the rest of South Africa). So the goal of forcibly transferring millions of black people into these Homelands was glossed over as progressive: 11 states living peacefully side by side (sound familiar?). The idea was first to grant “self-government” to the Homelands as they gained institutional capacity and then reward that process by declaring/granting independent statehood.

The challenge for the apartheid government was then to persuade “self-governing” black elites to accept independent statehood in these territorial fictions and so permanently absolve the white government of any responsibility for black political rights. Toward this end, the apartheid regime hand-picked and seeded “leaders” into the Homelands, where they immediately sprouted into a nice crop of crony elites (the usual political climbers and carpet-baggers) that embedded into lucrative niches of financial privileges and patronage networks that the white government thoughtfully cultivated (this should sound familiar too).

It didn’t matter that the actual territories of the Homelands were fragmented into myriad pieces and lacked the essential resources to avoid becoming impoverished labor cesspools. Indeed, the Homelands’ territorial fragmentation, although crippling, was irrelevant to Grand Apartheid. Once all these “nations” were living securely in independent states, apartheid ideologists argued to the world, tensions would relax, trade and development would flower, blacks would be enfranchised and happy, and white supremacy would thus become permanent and safe.

The thorn in this plan was to get even thoroughly co-opted black Homeland elites to declare independent statehood within “national” territories that transparently lacked any meaningful sovereignty over borders, natural resources, trade, security, foreign policy, water — again, sound familiar? Only four Homeland elites did so, through combinations of bribery, threats and other “incentives.” Otherwise, black South Africans didn’t buy it and the ANC and the world rejected the plot whole cloth. (The only state to recognize the Homelands was fellow-traveler Israel.) But the Homelands did serve one purpose — they distorted and divided black politics, created terrible internal divisions, and cost thousands of lives as the ANC and other factions fought it out. The last fierce battles of the anti-apartheid struggle were in the Homelands, leaving a legacy of bitterness to this day.

Hence the supreme irony for Palestinians today is that the most urgent mission of apartheid South Africa — getting the indigenous people to declare statehood in non-sovereign enclaves — finally collapsed with mass black revolt and took apartheid down with it, yet the Palestinian leadership now is not only walking right into that same trap but actually making a claim on it.

The reasons that the PA-Ramallah leadership and others want to walk into this trap are fuzzy. Maybe it could help the “peace talks” if they are redefined as negotiations between two states instead of preconditions for a state. Declaring statehood could redefine Israel’s occupation as invasion and legitimize resistance as well as trigger different and more effective United Nations intervention. Maybe it will give Palestinians greater political leverage on the world stage — or at least preserve the PA’s existence for another (miserable) year.

Why these fuzzy visions are not swiftly defeated by short attention to the South African Bantustan experience may stem partly from two key differences that confuse the comparison, for Israel has indeed sidestepped two infamous fatal errors that helped sink South Africa’s Homeland strategy. First, Israel did not make South Africa’s initial mistake of appointing “leaders” to run the Palestinian “interim self-governing” Homeland. In South Africa, this founding error made it too obvious that the Homelands were puppet regimes and exposed the illegitimacy of the black “national” territories themselves as contrived racial enclaves. Having watched the South Africans bungle this, and having learned from its own past failures with the Village Leagues and the like, Israel instead worked with the United States to design the Oslo process not only to restore the exiled leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and its then Chairman Yasser Arafat to the territories but also to provide for “elections” (under occupation) to grant a thrilling gloss of legitimacy to the Palestinian “interim self-governing authority.” It’s one of the saddest tragedies of the present scenario that Israel so deftly turned Palestinians’ noble commitment to democracy against them in this way — granting them the illusion of genuinely democratic self-government in what everyone now realizes was always secretly intended to be a Homeland.

Only now has Israel found a way to avoid South Africa’s second fatal error, which was to declare black Homelands to be “independent states” in non-sovereign territory. In South Africa, this ploy manifested to the world as transparently racist and was universally disparaged. It must be obvious that, if Israel had stood up in the international stage and said “as you are, you are now a state” that Palestinians and everyone else would have rejected the claim out of hand as a cruel farce. Yet getting the Palestinians to declare statehood themselves allows Israel precisely the outcome that eluded the apartheid South African regime: voluntary native acceptance of “independence” in a non-sovereign territory with no political capacity to alter its territorial boundaries or other essential terms of existence — the political death capsule that apartheid South Africa could not get the ANC to swallow.

Responses from Israel have been mixed. The government does seem jumpy and has broadcast its “alarm,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has threatened unilateral retaliation (unspecified) and government representatives have flown to various capitals securing international rejection. But Israeli protests could also be disingenuous. One tactic could be persuading worried Palestinian patriots that a unilateral declaration of statehood might not be in Israel’s interest in order to allay that very suspicion. Another is appeasing protest from that part of Likud’s purblind right-wing electorate that finds the term “Palestinian state” ideologically anathema. A more honest reaction could be the endorsement of Kadima party elder Shaul Mofaz, a hardliner who can’t remotely be imagined to value a stable and prosperous Palestinian future. Right-wing Israeli journalists are also pitching in with disparaging but also comforting essays arguing that unilateral statehood won’t matter because it won’t change anything (close to the truth). For example, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has threatened unilaterally to annex the West Bank settlement blocs if the PA declares statehood, but Israel was going to do that anyway.

In the liberal-Zionist camp, Yossi Sarid has warmly endorsed the plan and Yossi Alpher has cautiously done so. Their writings suggest the same terminal frustration with the “peace process” but also recognition that this may be the only way to save the increasingly fragile dream that a nice liberal democratic Jewish state can survive as such. It also sounds like something that might please Palestinians — at least enough to finally get their guilt-infusing story of expulsion and statelessness off the liberal-Zionist conscience. Well-meaning white liberals in apartheid South Africa — yes, there were some of those, too — held the same earnest candle burning for the black Homelands system.

Some otherwise smart journalists are also pitching in to endorse unilateral statehood, raising odd ill-drawn comparisons — Georgia, Kosovo, Israel itself — as “evidence” that it’s a good idea. But Georgia, Kosovo and Israel had entirely different profiles in international politics and entirely different histories from Palestine and attempts to draw these comparisons are intellectually lazy. The obvious comparison is elsewhere and the lessons run in the opposite direction: for a politically weak and isolated people, who have never had a separate state and lack any powerful international ally, to declare or accept “independence” in non-contiguous and non-sovereign enclaves encircled and controlled by a hostile nuclear power can only seal their fate.

In fact, the briefest consideration should instantly reveal that a unilateral declaration of statehood will confirm the Palestinians’ presently impossible situation as permanent. As Mofaz predicted, a unilateral declaration will allow “final status” talks to continue. What he did not spell out is that those talks will become truly pointless because Palestinian leverage will be reduced to nothing. As Middle East historian Juan Cole recently pointed out, the last card the Palestinians can play — their real claim on the world’s conscience, the only real threat they can raise to Israel’s status quo of occupation and settlement — is their statelessness. The PA-Ramallah leadership has thrown away all the other cards. It has stifled popular dissent, suppressed armed resistance, handed over authority over vital matters like water to “joint committees” where Israel holds veto power, savagely attacked Hamas which insisted on threatening Israel’s prerogatives, and generally done everything it can to sweeten the occupier’s mood, preserve international patronage (money and protection), and solicit promised benefits (talks?) that never come. It’s increasingly obvious to everyone watching from outside this scenario — and many inside it — that this was always a farce. For one thing, the Western powers do not work like the Arab regimes: when you do everything the West requires of you, you will wait in vain for favors, for the Western power then loses any benefit from dealing more with you and simply walks away.

But more importantly, the South African comparison helps illuminate why the ambitious projects of pacification, “institution building” and economic development that the Ramallah PA and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad have whole-heartedly embarked upon are not actually exercises in “state-building.” Rather, they emulate with frightening closeness and consistency South Africa’s policies and stages in building the Bantustan/Homelands. Indeed, Fayyad’s project to achieve political stability through economic development is the same process that was openly formalized in the South African Homeland policy under the slogan “separate development.” That under such vulnerable conditions no government can exercise real power and “separate development” must equate with permanent extreme dependency, vulnerability and dysfunctionality was the South African lesson that has, dangerously, not yet been learned in Palestine — although all the signals are there, as Fayyad himself has occasionally admitted in growing frustration. But declaring independence will not solve the problem of Palestinian weakness; it will only concretize it.

Still, when “separate development” flounders in the West Bank, as it must, Israel will face a Palestinian insurrection. So Israel needs to anchor one last linchpin to secure Jewish statehood before that happens: declare a Palestinian “state” and so reduce the “Palestinian problem” to a bickering border dispute between putative equals. In the back halls of the Knesset, Kadima political architects and Zionist liberals alike must now be waiting with bated breath, when they are not composing the stream of back-channel messages that is doubtless flowing to Ramallah encouraging this step and promising friendship, insider talks and vast benefits. For they all know what’s at stake, what every major media opinion page and academic blog has been saying lately: that the two-state solution is dead and Israel will imminently face an anti-apartheid struggle that will inevitably destroy Jewish statehood. So a unilateral declaration by the PA that creates a two-state solution despite its obvious Bantustan absurdities is now the only way to preserve Jewish statehood, because it’s the only way to derail the anti-apartheid movement that spells Israel’s doom.

This is why it is so dangerous that the South African Bantustan comparison has been neglected until now, treated as a side issue, even an exotic academic fascination, by those battling to relieve starvation in Gaza and soften the cruel system of walls and barricades to get medicine to the dying. The Ramallah PA’s suddenly serious initiative to declare an independent Palestinian state in non-sovereign territory must surely force fresh collective realization that this is a terribly pragmatic question. It’s time to bring closer attention to what “Bantustan” actually means. The Palestinian national movement can only hope someone in its ranks undertakes that project as seriously as Israel has undertaken it before it’s too late.

Virginia Tilley is a former professor of political science and international relations and since 2006 has served as Chief Research Specialist at the Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa. She is author of The One-State Solution (U of Michigan Press, 2005) and numerous articles and essays on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Based in Cape Town, she writes here in her personal capacity and can be reached at vtilley A T mweb D O T co D O T za.

The Whack-a-Mole Endgame Begins in Afghanistan

The Whack-a-Mole Endgame Begins in Afghanistan

TIME

A full moon illuminates the Tangi Valley, where 30 U.S. troops, including 22 SEALs, died earlier this week when enemy fire downed their helicopter / Army photo by Terry Wade

Cap Ferrat, France

President Obama’s surge and de-surge strategy in Afghanistan has landed the United States in a strategic cul-de-sac. As America withdraws troops from remote areas of Afghanistan like the Tangi, Korangar, and Pech Valleys, insurgents are flooding back in to wreak havoc, necessitating US retaliatory raids, redeployments, and stiffening operations to kill insurgents and to protect local Afghan units and villagers, even though some of these Afghan units and villagers may on occasion be in league with insurgents. As the American withdrawal continues, the noose around the cul de sac will tighten, because fewer and fewer forces will be available to cope with the menace posed by spreading hit and run attacks by small decentralized insurgent groups operating in quick time in distant places.

Inevitably, continued troop withdrawals imply the US military will find itself in an increasingly reactive operational posture, where it is responding to events rather than shaping them. Faced with this loss of initiative, military leaders will have to substitute even more reactive air strikes and nighttime airborne raids for boots on the ground as it gradually abandons more and more territory to the insurgents. You can think of this as a clear and hold process, only one that is now going into reverse, with the insurgents doing the clearing and holding. Moreover, the growing dependence on airpower will increase the unintended killings of civilians that are pouring gasoline on the fires of this insurgency.

Obama’s surge and de-surge has, therefore, created a reinforcing dynamic that is playing into the hands of the insurgents by seducing the United States into increasing its reliance on a pointless, reactive, “whack-a-mole” strategy. Like a judo specialist, the insurgents will use the expenditure of American energies to exhaust American forces and paralyze American political willpower by inducing our military to over and under react to an unfolding welter widely dispersed insurgent attacks. Moreover, this dynamic will be unfolding at the very time President Obama is struggling to extricate both our military forces and himself from the quagmire he so quickly plunged into with ill-considered escalation decisions made during his first year in office. Finally, the interplay of a ubiquitous guerrilla menace with the onerous psychology of retreat is a prescription for paralysis by a thousand cuts and eventual political defeat.

The probable result is that the US will not leave Afghanistan on its own terms but on its adversary’s terms, because as the Taliban propagandists quite correctly claim, “The Americans have a clock, but we have the time.”

Obama can truthfully say he inherited this mess from a strategically inept predecessor, but he is not blameless, because his actions of the last eighteen months have made the Afghan predicament much worse. Recent events have placed the dilemma created by Mr. Obama’s surge and de-surge strategy into sharp relief and illustrate how the dangerous reinforcing dynamic introduced above is now locking itself into place.

There were 32,000 troops in Afghanistan when Barack Obama became President in January 2009. However, another 11,000 troops had been approved by the Bush Administration in its final months and were in the pipeline to deploy to Afghanistan. Obama ordered his first escalation of 21,700 more troops in March 2009, and he added another 33,000 with his much ballyhooed surge decision finalized in December 2009.

So, by the end of this first year in office, Obama had more than doubled down on the American commitment to what was clearly a failing war in Afghanistan. While he bought off the hawks with these escalations, he sweetened the deal for the doves by promising he would begin reducing our deployed troop levels within eighteen months, beginning in July 2010, together with a vague albeit quickly forgotten promise to withdraw the rest by 2014.

But his promise to begin a withdrawal in July 2011 was predicated on a fatally flawed assumption: namely, that the US military could quickly build up and then hand over security responsibilities to the notoriously corrupt and ineffective Afghan military and police forces. I described the ramifications of these flawed assumptions in the 22 September 2009issue of CounterPunch and in the 29-31 January 2010 issue, showed how these ramifications were subsequently confirmed in the leaked Eikenberry Cables.

Of course, surging by one side in a conflict does not take place in isolation. As Clausewitz implied, war is a duel between animate beings who react unpredictably to changing conditions, according to the dictates of their own free will. And no one would deny the Afghans are, if nothing else, seasoned duelists.

It is now clear that the Afghan insurgents have made good on their promise to respond to Obama’s escalations with escalations of their own. To this end, in recent months, they have ratcheted up the size, frequency, and effectiveness of what appears to our orientation as a menacing welter of hit and run attacks. To name but a few of the more spectacular examples:

— In April 2010, the Taliban engineered the escape of 480 Taliban prisoners from the Kandahar Prison.

— On 28 May, the Taliban exploded a bomb in a government building in northern Takhar Province, killing the regional police commander in the North, a police chief and two NATO soldiers, as well as wounding the German commander of NATO’s northern command and the Takhar provincial governor.

— On 30 May, the Taliban launched an unusual attack on targets in the western Afghan city of Herat, including a NATO base.

— Less than a week after Obama announced his plan to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, insurgents launched a spectacular attack on the Intercontinental Hotel, supposedly one of the most secure building in Kabul, that resulted in a five-hour firefight requiring the intervention NATO troops and helicopters.

— On July 12, President Karzai’s half-brother was assassinated under mysterious circumstances.

— On July 17, Jan Mohammed Khan, who was a key ally and adviser to the Afghan president Karzai was assassinated. Etc…

These attacks demonstrate the enormous reach of the insurgency and appear to have been orchestrated by a variety of groups of insurgents. The US military believes many of them can be blamed on the notorious Haqqani Network, a belief no doubt inspired in part by the military’s predilection to find the critical nodes and hi-value targets governing its adversary’s behavior. (The American military’s obsession with identifying critical nodes derives from the strategic bombing theories developed by the Army Air Corps in the 1930s and, together with the promises of precision warfare, have fostered a silver-bullet mentality that assumes military strategies can be reduced to mechanical plans for finding and killing such hi-value targets.) On July 31, the New York Times carried a revealing report saying that NATO forces are responding to the rising number of insurgent attacks by “strengthening a layered defense” long the Afghan border with Pakistan to capture militants from the Haqqani Network as they try to make their way to the Kabul area to carry out their attacks. What was most revealing in the Times’ report relates to what it did not say.

One curiosity in this report was that it did not explain what “strengthening a layered defense” means. A conventional interpretation of the term suggests it means building some kind of escheloned defense in depth along the border.

But as Conn Hallinan pointed out in the 5-7 August edition of CounterPunch, the geography of the AFPAK border is too mountainous, too porous, too hostile, and far too long for NATO to maintain even a thin barrier defense of this border — let alone an in depth layered defense, especially given the limited, and decreasing, number of combat troops NATO has at its disposal. Indeed, one of the unchanging strategic features of the Soviet and US wars in Afghanistan has been an inability to seal that border, particularly in the wild region between Afghanistan and Pakistan from the northeast to the southeast of Kabul. So, at the same time we are reducing forces, we are shifting to a layered defense, implying some sort of reinforcement. What gives?

There is more: A second curiosity of the July 31 New York Times report is that it did not say that the layering mission included, inter alia, a return of US forces to dangerous Pech Valley in a remote region of Kunar Province. US forces had been forced to abandon the Pech less than six months earlier. The omission by the Times is made doubly odd by the fact that the Times carried a very informative contemporaneous report of the Pech evacuation on 24 February 2011.

The recent loss of a Chinook helicopter and 30 US troops (including 22 members of Seal Team 6) may have occurred in a “layering mission” — in this case, a night raid — to stiffen Afghan forces in the Tangi Valley of Wardak Province. The US abandoned and transferred its combat outpost in the Tangi to the Afghan forces last April.

Moreover, by omitting to say we were returning to areas we had abandoned and turned over to the Afghan security forces, the Times neatly dodged the need to explain what the expected a strategy of strengthening the so-called layered defense was supposed to accomplish. However, Martin Kuz wrote an excellent 4 August report in the Stars and Stripes describing the return to the Pech Valley. In it, he quoted US Army leaders as justifying their reentry into the Pech with the same reason they used when they went into Pech the first time, in 2003, namely the goal is to set conditions for a transition that will enable the Afghan army and Afghan Police to provide the local population with security. In other words, Army forces are returning to areas they handed over to the Afghan security forces, because the transition did not work. This brings us back to the fatally-flawed assumption underpinning the entire escalation decision mentioned above — namely, the 2009 military analysis justifying the surge strategy did not realistically account for how the limitations of the Afghan security forces would upset its plans for transferring security responsibility to those forces.

If you have read this far, it ought to be becoming clear that, other than reversing the troop withdrawal and escalating with yet another troop surge, the only way out of the trap is to negotiate a political settlement with the insurgents. There is no dishonor in this; in fact, a negotiated settlement is the way most guerrilla wars end.

To be effective, such a settlement must involve and account for the legitimate interests of the regional players, including Iran, Pakistan, and China, as well as the interests of all the Afghan people, but also the United States and Russia, and the probably the Central Asian Republics to boot.

The goal should be one of establishing conditions for the emergence of a neutral and prosperous Afghanistan. In view of the trauma and destruction suffered by Afghanistan, initially, perhaps, those conditions should be enforced and stabilized with some kind of multinational Islamic peacekeeping/economic development task force, lead by an major Islamic country without a dog in the hunt, like, Indonesia or Turkey. In most circumstances, Turkey would be my choice: it is now the world’s leading Islamic country and a major regional power; it has a secular government and a rapidly developing booming economy and an educated population; and its reformist leadership has exhibited an ability to shape an exceptionally gifted foreign policy. Some Afghans might object by saying Turkey has a dog in the hunt — specifically, Turkey is a member of NATO and NATO is fighting in Afghanistan. Moreover, Pashtuns might take exception to Turkey’s connections to the Turkic ethnic groups in the north of Afghanistan and the bordering regions, which used to be known a Turkestan. The key point is that it is absolutely essential that the Afghan people view the leading peacekeeping country as an honest broker.

According to news reports, the Taliban have indicated a willingness to talk about a peace deal, but they have set one unbendable, typically Afghan precondition to any negotiation: all outsiders must promise to leave; specifically the US and NATO must agree to a complete withdrawal of all of their forces before sitting down to the negotiating table.

Like the Soviets and the British before them, the American clock in Afghanistan is running out while the insurgent adversary has the time. It is too late for American leaders to be adhering to the primitive idea that one can only negotiate from a position of military strength abroad and economic strength at home — both those bases of power have been blown, thanks mostly to the madness exhibited by Obama’s predecessor. And like the Soviets and the British, the United States is not going to establish a permanent military presence in Afghanistan; to do so would enrage the Afghan people and fuel the insurrection.

Wiser heads also would do well to recall that an earlier American president faced a similar mismatch between his clock and his adversary’s time before. President Nixon tried to duck its implications by selling a slow withdrawal from Viet Nam to a war-weary nation by promising of “peace with honor.” If the North Vietnamese had responded to his overtures with an unbendable precondition, like that of the Taliban, namely a complete military withdrawal from Viet Nam, negotiations would have been as unthinkable to State Department and Pentagon planners in 1970 as the Taliban’s demand for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan is today. But in the end, it did not matter. In 1975, we ended our involvement in Viet Nam, with an unconditional withdrawal being imposed on the US for all the world to see.

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney is a former military analyst for the Pentagon. He currently lives on a sailboat in the Mediterranean and can be reached at chuck_spinney@mac.com

Reprinted with permission of the editors of CounterPunch

India Emerging As the Voice of Sanity

[A lot of news about India today, all of it sounding positive.  Not only is the Indian leadership charting a new course in Afghanistan and throughout the region, it has joined with the other “BRIC” nations to challenge US perpetual war initiatives in the UN (SEE:  Russia Introduces Competing U.N. Draft on Syria {The Russian draft is backed by China, Brazil, India and South Africa}), as well as taking on corruption at the national level (SEE:India parliament begins debate to end corruption). 

Let us hope that all of this is sincere and India emerges as a world leader, to challenge all the anti-leaders who have created so much trouble between them.]

Getting the regional act together

M. K. BHADRAKUMAR

AP”In sum, the new thinking in the government on the Afghan situation, as was manifest during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kabul in May (and presently over Hajigak), has come not a day too soon.” In this photo, Manmohan with Karzai during his Afghanistan visit

By deciding to work with Russia, China and the Central Asian countries within a regional framework, India has made a significant policy decision.

An appreciable level of seriousness underscores the government’s thinking on pressing ahead with the bid for iron ore blocks in the fabulous Hajigak mines in Afghanistan as well as to sponsor the Steel Authority of India proposal to set up a steel plant in that country. The Hajigak mines hold an estimated reserve of 1.8 billion tonnes of iron ore. The “hands-on” interest shown by the new Foreign Secretary, Ranjan Mathai, in the progress in the bidding process testifies to the new thinking. From the Indian policy perspective, the Hajigak project has three dimensions.

The project, quite obviously, stands at a junction where foreign policy intersects national policies. National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon said in New Delhi recently: “Our primary task now and for the foreseeable future is to transform and improve the life of the unacceptably large number of our compatriots who live in poverty, with disease, hunger and illiteracy as their companions in life. This is our overriding priority, and must be the goal of our internal and external security policies. Our quest is the transformation of India, nothing less and nothing more.”

Looking back, an esoteric Afghan policy conceived in the ivory tower in the classical mould of the “great game” in the Hindu Kush never really made sense for India. Things, after all, need to add up in life. When Russia supplies helicopters to the Afghan government, it makes the United States buy them at market price from Russian stocks, and servicing and repairs will be met from a trust fund set up by the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to that end.

NATO’s war is related to Russia’s own security as well as its “near abroad.” Yet, when the western alliance (or the U.S.) uses the Northern Distribution Network to transport supplies for the troops in Afghanistan, Russia levies a transit fee, estimated to be in excess of $1 billion. Such realism makes sense. Again, the Pentagon, although neck-deep in the uncertain war, did undertake an exhaustive study of Afghanistan’s multitrillion-dollar mineral wealth. Indeed, has there ever been a “pure war” in history since Alexander? Hopefully, the Hajigak project will be a “leap of faith” also for the Indian strategic pundits. It is senseless to pursue politics without economics. This realism has long been in coming in our regional policies — be it toward Sri Lanka, Nepal or Bangladesh.

Second, New Delhi is beginning to look beyond the din of the war into a future that seems misty. The Hajigak project is located in the central Bamyan province, which is relatively stable, but it can be optimally realised only if peace arrives in Afghanistan. So what lies ahead in Afghanistan? The U.S. is finding itself in a strategic cul-de-sac and the Taliban pushing the NATO commanders into an “increasingly reactive operational posture,” as a former Pentagon analyst, ‘Chuck’ Spinney, blogged recently, where they are reacting to events rather than moulding them. Indeed, the Taliban has switched gear and is focussing on exhausting the NATO forces and paralysing American willpower “by inducing our [U.S.] military to over and underreact to an unfolding welter of widely dispersed insurgent attacks.” In a brilliant analysis, Spinney added: “The probable result is that the U.S. will not leave Afghanistan on its own terms but on its adversary’s terms … other than reversing the troop withdrawal and escalating the conflict with yet another troop surge, the only way out of the trap is to negotiate a political settlement with the insurgents … The goal should be one of establishing conditions for the emergence of a neutral and prosperous Afghanistan … It is too late for American leaders to be adhering to the primitive idea that one can only negotiate from a position of strength abroad and economic strength at home — both those bases of power have been blown.”

Without doubt, the Taliban is demonstrating great skill in adapting itself to the changing conditions. Its recent operations testify to the impressive reach of the insurgency and a loss of initiative for the U.S. From this point, small decentralised insurgent groups can be expected to create havoc when the American troop withdrawal continues. Fewer and fewer forces will be available to counter them. There is also the great danger that somewhere along the line the Taliban might do a “Khobar” on the NATO. It took just a single team of suicide bombers belonging to Hezbollah Al-Hejaz in October 1983 to attack the famous Khobar Towers in Beirut, where the U.S. Marines were based, and kill 241 of them. This, in turn, compelled President Ronald Reagan to order the troops home post-haste.

In sum, the new thinking in the government on the Afghan situation, as was manifest during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Kabul in May (and presently over Hajigak), has come not a day too soon. Delinking the Indian policy from U.S. strategies in Afghanistan was long overdue. As indeed the need to keep communication lines open with all Afghan groups while dealing principally with the Kabul government; scrupulously avoiding taking sides in that country’s fratricidal strife; not even remotely contemplating a military deployment; and, most important, doing all we can to ensure that Afghanistan does not become an arena of conflict with Pakistan. The indications are that much ground has been covered in this direction. Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar’s reference to Islamabad’s “outreach to Afghanistan and India” in the same breath, in her recent speech at the National Assembly, conveyed a positive signal. This brings us to a third point. How do the Indian regional policies adapt to the U.S. retreat from Afghanistan?

In a nutshell, the U.S. retreat should encourage India to be more active in its regional policies. If one thing is absolutely certain about the Hajigak project, it is that India’s involvement in it — or, for that matter, in any Afghan or Central Asian project of large scale — is one hundred per cent predicated on the climate of relations with Pakistan and Iran. Pressing ahead with the Hajigak project would seem to convey a degree of optimism that the improving relationship with Pakistan is sustainable and could possibly be taken to a qualitatively new level of cooperation. Similarly, it also presupposes, perhaps, that new life can be breathed into the insipid ties with Iran. These are hopeful signs.

What has been lacking at the policymaking level is a conceptual framework of regional cooperation. This is evident from the predicament inherited by Mr. Mathai as regards a possible mechanism to evacuate iron ore from Hajigak. The options being considered are through a Pakistani land route and/or through the port of Bandar Abbas in Iran. Evidently, for this to happen, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran ought to form a hub of regional cooperation. Clearly, such a hub has immense potential, be it in terms of energy, market, mineral resources or manpower. But the ground reality is that we have a long way to reach that goal.

Most certainly, Mr. Mathai asked a pertinent question: how do we evacuate iron ore from Afghanistan? A land route via Pakistan is theoretically possible but it will mainly have to be through the Iranian port of Chabahar. That being the case, do we factor in adequately the importance of India’s ties with Iran, which are in great disrepair? The fact remains that India hurt Iran’s core interests and thereafter subjected the relationship to benign neglect. It could afford this misadventure because it had no economic ties worth mentioning with Afghanistan or the Central Asian countries. Alas, India failed to evolve coordinated policies toward Central Asia in the post-Soviet period. And the appalling failure to exploit our enormous soft power to build the sinews of an economic relationship is all-too evident. Presidents, Vice-Presidents and Prime Ministers fly back and forth every now and then, but no one regards India as a serious player in the region.

However, things can change when India gets full membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). The American rhetoric often spoke of a Great Central Asia strategy aimed at rolling back Russian and Chinese influence in that region by bringing it closer to the Indian market. By deciding instead to work with Russia and China and the Central Asian countries within a regional framework, India has made a significant policy decision. The diplomatic challenge now will be to put in place the underpinning to galvanise India’s economic ties with Central Asia once the SCO membership gains traction. This underpinning principally involves robust ties with Iran and pressing ahead imaginatively with the normalisation process with Pakistan. In sum, India’s Hajigak challenge is to get the act together in its regional policies by evolving a strategy of mutually beneficial cooperation with Afghanistan and Central Asia, built on predictable ties with Pakistan and Iran.

(The writer is a former diplomat.)

What is Jan Lokpal bill?

[SEE Original bill: DraftLokpalBill2011.pdf ]

What is Jan Lokpal bill?

jan lokpal,Citizens’ Ombudsman Bill or Jan Lokpal Vidheyak (in Hindi) is a proposed anti-corruption law designed to effectively nail out corruption, redress complaints and protect whistleblowers. According to designed bill made by some members of ‘India Against Corruption (IAC)’, a movement against corruption in the government’s bodies, “Jan Lokpal Bill” would work as an independent powerful institution like Election Commission of India and Supreme Court that would prevent corruption in government machinery, redress corruption grievances within a year and penalise the guilty no matter what he/she/they is/are without the interfering of the government.

According to the proposed Jan Lokpal Bill, the Jan Lokpal (Citizens’ Ombudsman) would be an anti-corruption institution on Central level that would control the corruption in the central government machineries and redress the complaints of central government’s offices, departments and institutions. Similar anti-corruption institutions “Lokayukta” would be set up in the states.

what is lokpal,

The Lokpal and Lokayukta would investigate corruption cases and complete the process within a year while the trial would complete in the next one year, means the whole process would complete in maximum two years in order to deterring the corruption on mass scale.

The first Jan Lokpal bill was introduced in the parliament in 1969, 42 years ago in the 4th Lok Sabha, which was passed but it failed in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Parliament. Since then the bill were introduced in the Parliament nine times – 1971, 1977, 1985, 1989, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2005 and 2008, but every times it was failed to pass out.

The version of proposed Jan Lokpal Bill drafted by IAC is version 2.2 while the government’s drafted Lokpal bill 2010′s version is 2.3, according to government’s website.

about lokpal bill,

The Lokpal Bill version 2.2 was drafted by Justice Santosh Hegde (former Supreme Court Judge and present Lokayukta of Karnataka), Shanti Bhushan, Former Minister of Law and Justice, Prashant Bhushan (Supreme Court Lawyer) and Arvind Kejriwal (RTI activist). Social Activist Anna Hazare and former IPS officer Kiran Bedi are also the members of IAC.

There are several differences in both versions claimed by IAC movement members.

Here are the Salient features of Jan Lokpal bill version 2.2:

1. An institution called LOKPAL at the centre and LOKAYUKTA in each state will be set up.

2. A complete independent powerful institutions like Supreme Court and Election Commission; No minister or bureaucrat will be able to influence their investigations.

3. Members will be appointed by judges, Indian Administrative Service officers with a clean record, private citizens and constitutional authorities through a transparent and participatory process.

4. A selection committee will invite short listed candidates for interviews, video recordings of which will thereafter be made public.

5. Lokpal and Lokayukta will publish a list of cases dealt with, brief details of each, their outcome and any action taken or proposed on their website every months. Moreover, the lists of all cases received, dealt and pending during the previous month will also be published.

6. Investigations of each case must be completed in one year. The trials for that case would be concluded in the following year so that the corrupt politician, officer or judge is sent to jail within two years.

7. Losses caused to the government by a corrupt individual will be recovered at the time of conviction.

8. Lokpal will have the authority to penalise the concerned person responsible for delay in work, carelessness and other reasons that hurt any citizen’s work. The institution (Lokpal and Lokayukta) will slap financial penalties that will be given as compensation to the complainant.

9. Complaints against any officer of Lokpal will be investigated and completed within a month and, if found to be substantive, will result in the officer being dismissed within two months.

10. The existing anti-corruption agencies (CVC, departmental vigilance and the anti-corruption branch of the CBI) will be merged into Lokpal. Lokpal will have complete powers and machinery to independently investigate and prosecute any officer, judge or politician.

11. Whistleblowers who alert the agency to potential corruption cases will also be provided with protection by it.

India parliament begins debate to end corruption

India parliament begins debate to end corruption

Veteran Indian social activist Anna Hazare gestures to his supporters on the 11th day of his fast as it rains at the Ramlila grounds in New Delhi August 26, 2011. REUTERS/Parivartan Sharma

By Arup Roychoudhury and Annie Banerji

NEW DELHI | Sat Aug 27, 2011 3:27am EDT

(Reuters) – India’s parliament began a fractious debate on an anti-corruption bill on Saturday as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s besieged government struggles to appease a social activist who is increasingly frail nearly two weeks into a hunger strike.

The campaign to get the legislation passed by 74-year-old Anna Hazare has struck a chord with millions of Indians tired of endemic corruption, sparking nationwide protests and exposing the ruling Congress party as out-of-touch with voters.

Political parties have pleaded with Hazare to end his fast, but lawmakers have squabbled over the content of a bill that would create a umbrella agency to probe government corruption, as thousands of supporters gathered at Hazare’s fairground protest site and across India’s capital.

Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee began a proposed seven-hour debate on the four-decades old legislation. But a vote on a final bill, which the activist has demanded to end his fast, looks unlikely as worries over his health grow.

“The largest functional democracy of the world is at a very crucial stage,” said Mukherjee in a cautious statement that fell short of fixing a time-frame to reach a resolution.

“(We must) try to find a solution within the constitutional framework without compromising the parliamentary supremacy in the matter of legislation, and at the same time to ensure that we can resolve this impasse.”

Around 6,000 supporters chanted and waved Indian flags at the sprawling dirt field protest site Hazare has taken over in New Delhi that has become the epicenter of a months-long anti-graft movement.

Several scandals linked to the government, including a bribery scam involving the sale of telecom spectrum that may have cost the state up to $39 billion in lost revenues, led to Hazare’s latest protest.

“It’s the twelfth day of my fast but I am alright since I’m getting energy from all of my supporters. I can fast for another three or four days, nothing will happen to me,” Hazare, visibly weak, told his supporters on Saturday morning.

“Until the Janlokpal bill gets passed I won’t die.”

A decision to hospitalise the activist, whose blood pressure has fallen and pulse rate has increased, would be taken this afternoon, his doctor told reporters on Saturday. Hazare hospitalizehas lost over 7 kg (15.4 lbs) and appears increasingly frail.

Hazare’s diminishing health could force authorities to force-feed him, a move that would make them appear even more disconnected from public opinion.

WOES FOR CONGRESS PARTY

Hazare has demanded that the bill includes bringing civil servants under the proposed agency’s authority, ensures similar agencies at a state level and creates a citizen’s charter. The government has asked for a promise from Hazare that he will end his fast should they meet his demands.

Congress, seen by many in an increasingly youthful India as an aged party either incapable of or indifferent to tackling graft, faces a bellwether election in India’s biggest state of Uttar Pradesh this year and a general election in 2014, and is keen to get the issue off the headlines.

Singh and other senior ministers, taken by surprise by the scale of the public unrest, have abandoned a hardline approach to Hazare.

The initial poor handling of the issue led the party to Rahul Gandhi, turn to the youngest elected official in the Gandhi family political dynasty to try and reach out to Hazare in a speech to parliament this week.

“We are all aware that corruption is pervasive. It operates at every level,” Gandhi told parliament on Friday. “In the last few months, Anna has helped the people to articulate this same sentiment (against corruption). I thank him for that.”

But Hazare, who has stressed his intent to die in order to create an umbrella agency to investigate graft throughout politics, has come under growing criticism from some quarters that he is holding an elected parliament hostage.

“I have a fervent hope that he does (cease his fast today). We have scheduled discussions today as a special day,” parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Bansal told CNN-IBN.

“The concerns are being addressed … (but) every law to be made has to be made in the parliament.”

(Writing by Henry Foy; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Ed Lane)

African Union declines to recognise Libyan rebels

[SEE:  South African Government Position On the Unfreezing of Libyan Assets]

African Union declines to recognise Libyan rebels

African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping addresses an emergency summit of the AU Peace and Security Council in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa August 26, 2011. — Photo by Reuters

ADDIS ABABA: The African Union declined Friday to recognise Libya’s rebel authority as Muammar Qadhafi’s regime is collapsing, and instead called for forming an all-inclusive transitional government.

With rebels still battling diehard forces loyal to Qadhafi, South African President Jacob Zuma said at the end of an AU Peace and Security Council meeting in Addis Ababa that the rebels were not yet legitimate.

“There is a process in Libya wherein the NTC (National Transitional Council) forces are in the process of taking over Tripoli…but there is still that fighting going on.

“So we can’t therefore stand and say this is the legitimate one now,” Zuma told reporters.

However, AU Commission spokesman Noureddine Mezni said Libya’s seat at the bloc was vacant.

“If a consensual and inclusive government is set up tomorrow and it sends an ambassador to the AU, he will be welcome,” Mezni told AFP.

The pan-African body called on Libyan parties to set up a transitional government that would be welcome by the 54-member organisation.

The AU “encourages the Libyan stakeholders to accelerate the process leading to the formation of an all-inclusive transitional government that would be welcome to occupy a seat in the African Union”, the bloc’s Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra told reporters.

In addition, the AU also called for an end to the fighting as well as talks to establish democratic government.

The bloc “strongly reaffirms that the AU stands with the people of Libya and encourages all the parties in Libya to come together and negotiate a peaceful process that would lead to democracy,” Lamamra added.

The AU has repeatedly sought a peaceful settlement to the crisis, but its ceasefire proposals and plans for talks between the rebels and Qadhafi were largely ignored, with the rebels rejecting any negotiations.

Since the start of the rebel onslaught against Qadhafi’s 42-year-old regime, several African countries have individually recognised the rebels’ NTC, with Ethiopia and Rwanda this week calling on the AU to the same.

Rwanda’s Foreign Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said the AU “should offer support to the National Transitional Council,” in remarks to state-run Radio Rwanda Friday.

“We support the National Transitional Council…we think that Colonel Kadhafi has run out of time as a leader,” Mushikiwabo added.

The Libyan rebels have also been recognised by their north African neighbours Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.

But Algeria on Friday reiterated its “strict neutrality” on the Libyan crisis and declined to recognise the NTC.

“Since the start of the crisis in Libya, Algeria has declared… that it is an internal matter in Libya, which primarily concerns the Libyan people,” foreign ministry spokesman Amar Belani said.

Qadhafi played a key role in the formation of the AU and was a key financier, in addition to funding many African causes. Analysts said that his economic clout partly explained the AU’s soft stand on the Libyan leader.

Several Western countries have also recognised the NTC and on Thursday the UN Security Council released $1.5 billion of seized Libyan assets to be used for emergency aid.

Ali Awdian, once Qadhafi’s ambassador to Ethiopia before switching support to the NTC, told AFP it was only a matter of time before the AU recognises the rebels.

“We are respecting the rules and procedures of the African Union. It’s only a matter of time. It’s not a frustration,” said Awdian.

“We know African countries are supporting the people of Libya,” he added.

The NTC announced Friday it would move its leadership from the eastern city of Benghazi to Tripoli, where they still face resistance from pockets of hardline regime loyalists.

Qadhafi’s whereabouts however remain unknown despite an intensive search by rebel forces, and on Thursday he broadcast a new audio message calling on the populace to take up arms.

There was speculation Friday that Qadhafi might have found refuge in his hometown of Sirte to the east of Tripoli, near where Nato said it had hit 29 armed vehicles and a “command and control node.”

Russia Introduces Competing U.N. Draft on Syria

Russia Introduces Competing U.N. Draft on Syria

By JOE LAURIA And NOUR MALAS

UNITED NATIONS—Russia surprised Western diplomats at the United Nations on Friday, introducing a draft Security Council resolution on Syria that opposes a text brought by Western nations earlier this week that would impose an arms embargo and financial sanctions on the Syrian leadership.

The dueling draft resolutions could both come to a vote by Saturday; diplomats said both were likely to be vetoed by the opposing camps.

The drawn-out struggle at the U.N. to increase pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who remains defiant despite tightened Western sanctions and calls for him to step down, has tested the patience of Syria’s opposition, with some activists now calling for military intervention to stop the crackdown on protesters.

The Russian text put forward Friday proposes no sanctions, but rather calls on the Syrian government to institute promised reforms and on the Syrian opposition to enter into a dialogue with the government. The opposition has largely rejected calls for talks; a three-day national dialogue conference in July was boycotted by most prominent opposition figures.

The European and U.S. draft, introduced on Wednesday, calls for a total embargo on Syrian imports and exports of all classes of weapons and would freeze the assets of Syrian leaders, including President Assad. It would also impose travel restrictions on a number of top officials.

The Western resolution also condemns Syria for its violent crackdown against pro-democracy demonstrators and says Syrian officials may be committing crimes against humanity. The U.N. says authorities have killed more than 2,200 people since the uprising against Mr. Assad erupted in March.

On Thursday, Russia and China boycotted a discussion of the Western text. On Friday, Russia unexpectedly interrupted a Security Council meeting on peacekeeping to call a closed-door session at which it surprised Western diplomats by presenting its alternative draft.

The Russian draft is backed by China, Brazil, India and South Africa, a Western diplomat said.

Russia is a major weapons supplier to Syria and would be hurt by an arms embargo.

Separately, a U.N. humanitarian assessment team that visited Syria last week reported that witnesses it interviewed were intimidated by government minders who accompanied the team, a U.N. official said.

As wrangling over the Syrian crisis continued at the U.N., Syria’s opposition—disparate groups ranging from secular academics to the exiled Muslim Brotherhood—struggled to unite. A meeting in Istanbul earlier this week to announce a transitional council extended its work for a few weeks, while activists deliberated on a structure that would be inclusive enough so as not to alienate any of Syria’s myriad religious and ethnic groups.

Syrian activists also watched Libyan rebels close in on Tripoli with frustration, saying the international response to Syria’s crisis has been much slower and less effective in quelling the regime’s violence against protesters.

Four people were killed during demonstrations on Friday in Syria, according to activist network the Local Coordination Committees, as security forces appeared to cool their violence. At least 22 people died in protests across Syria a week earlier on Friday, a day of large protests across the Middle East, but even then, activists said security forces appeared to be turning more to targeted arrests and detentions than to shootings.

With the death toll slowing, Middle Eastern countries and Syria’s neighbors, such as Turkey, could continue to coax Mr. Assad to adopt reforms, despite hopes by the U.S. and its European allies that they would follow in asking him to step down.

If the Russian-backed resolution were to succeed, it could give those countries more leverage to extend Syria’s regime more time to stop the violence and push through long-promised political reforms.

Write to Joe Lauria at newseditor@wsj.com

UN bid ‘endangers Palestinian rights’


Australians for Palestine logoAustralians for Palestine

Editor’s note:  As the push for the Palestinian UN Statehood bid rolls forward with more and more people putting their weight behind it, a legal opinion has surfaced that should have every Palestinian and pro-Palestinian activist shouting “NO” from the rooftops. It is not that there haven’t been eminent people saying the same thing – Saree Makdisi,  Salman Abu Sitta, Ilan Pappe,  Mazin Qumsiyeh, Ramzy Baroud, Ghada Karmi, Oren Ben-Dor, Nur Masalha, George Bisharat, Naseer Aruri, Haidar Eid, Ali Abunimah, Eitan Bronstein, Sami Jadallah and many others – but either people have not wanted to listen or are convinced that this push has to be for the best – best for the Palestinian people, best for Israel’s ‘soul’, best for peace.  And there are millions of good and honourable people who genuinely believe this.  It has also put activists in an impossible position.  If anyone said in this current climate what the legal opinion has revealed, one would be seen either as obstructionist or extremist, and there are some who would even say, a traitor to the cause.  How do you convince people that a “yes” vote is very likely to disenfranchise millions of Palestinian refugees and all those in the Diaspora from their right to return home,  when there is so much good will and enthusiasm being whipped up by petitions, envoys, heads of organisations, and people who have never before come out publicly to support the Palestinians?


The legal opinion lays out all the dangers for the Palestinians – not theoretical  dangers but real ones.  Statehood will terminate the legal status of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) in the United Nations which since 1975 has been the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.  The current Palestinian Authority (PA) which is making the statehood bid “is a subsidiary body, competent only to exercise those powers conferred on it by the Palestinian National Council. By definition, it does not have the capacity to assume greater powers.”  If the PLO loses its status with this statehood bid, the Palestinian refugees and those in the Diaspora will no longer be entitled to equal representation, have a say in matters of national governance, or be able to ever exercise their inalienable right of return.  And that would suit Israel down to the ground.  With the Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza still under Israeli military occupation and no state likely to be created in September, the replacement of the PLO with the State of Palestine, even as one that only has “observer” status in the United Nations, will effectively rid Israel of any responsibility for the millions of Palestinians who have a legitimate claim to their land and properties stripped from them when Israel was created.  That means no right of return and no compensation for their catastrophic losses that Israel has managed to ignore for 63 years.

Dr Salman Abu Sitta warns us that “what’s more dangerous, and probable, is for this to open the way  for ‘peace negotiations’, backed by Europe and America to accept a  Palestinian mini-state. We can see it now: after “hard negotiations” and  “painful concessions” an agreement will be reached and celebrations  will be held on the White House lawn with handshakes and smiles all  round. This mini-state will be a nonentity, with no ability to defend  itself; no control over its borders, airspace or land; no control over  its water resources; and its final borders will be “agreed” through  “land swap” and possibly the forced “transfer” of people. This is  precisely the mini-state which Shimon Peres and Ehud Olmert longed for  and believed it is absolutely necessary, because, otherwise, “Israel  will be finished”.”

One cannot help thinking that the whole statehood bid has been a clever, but devious game played by Israel to lure people into thinking that they are against the Statehood bid, so more people will vote for it because it seems to be just and seems to be the best solution for peace.  The Palestinian struggle is not just about ending the occupation, but about ensuring that the inalienable rights of the Palestinian refugees can be realised as demanded by international law and a number of UN resolutions.  It is to liberate not to legalise partition.

Where does that leave people wondering how to vote or who have already voted “yes” as many people have?    This should be seen as a warning to everyone so that the matter can be debated openly, and as the legal opinion advised,  to ensure that a proper legal framework safeguarding the PLO is established, so that the Palestinian representatives taking the statehood bid to the UN will protect and advance the legal rights of ALL Palestinians.


Sonja Karkar
Editor
http://australiansforpalestine.com

UN bid ‘endangers Palestinian rights’

Ma’an News Agency
24 August 2011

The Palestinian team responsible for preparing the United Nations initiative
in September has been given an independent legal opinion that reveals a high
risk involved with its plan to join the UN.

An initiative to transfer the Palestinians’ representation from the PLO to a
state will terminate the legal status held by the PLO in the UN since 1975
that it is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,
according to the document.

Crucially, there will no longer be an institution that can represent the
inalienable rights of the entire Palestinian people in the UN and related
international institutions, according to the brief.

Representation for the right to self-determination will be gravely affected,
as it is a right of all Palestinians, both inside and outside the homeland,
the legal opinion says. This change in status will severely disenfranchise
the right of refugees to return to their homes and properties from which
they were displaced.

The seven-page legal opinion, obtained by Ma’an, was submitted to the
Palestinian side by Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of public international
law at Oxford University and a member of the team that won the 2004
non-binding judgement by the International Court of Justice that the route
of Israel’s wall was illegal.

The Palestinian team, headed by Saeb Erekat, has been preparing an
initiative that involves the replacement of the PLO at the UN, substituting
it with the State of Palestine as the representative of the Palestinian
people.

As an actual state will not be created in September, as Israel’s occupation
continues, the debate is focused on whether membership should be requested
from the Security Council or if the General Assembly should be asked to
grant recognition of the state as “observer,” a status that conveys less
than full UN membership.

Yet, no consideration of the dramatic legal implications for Palestinian
rights have been discussed, which this legal brief says will occur if the
PLO loses its status.

The brief is to “flag the matters requiring attention” so that a substantial
amount of people who have interests in the right of return, for example, are
not “accidentally disenfranchised.”

The prospect of substituting the PLO with the State of Palestine raises
“constitutional” problems in that they engage the Palestinian National
Charter and the organization and entities which make up the PLO, he writes.
Secondly, “the question of the ‘capacity’ of the State of Palestine
effectively to take on the role and responsibilities of the PLO in the UN;
and thirdly, the question of popular representation,” the opinion says.

Due to the constitutional structure of the PLO and the history of the
Palestinian Authority, which was established by the PLO as a short-term,
administrative entity, the PA “has limited legislative and executive
competence, limited territorial jurisdiction, and limited personal
jurisdiction over Palestinians not present in the areas for which it has
been accorded responsibility,” it says.

The brief says the PA “is a subsidiary body, competent only to exercise
those powers conferred on it by the Palestinian National Council. By
definition, it does not have the capacity to assume greater powers.”

It cannot “‘dissolve’ its parent body, or otherwise to establish itself
independently of the Palestinian National Council and the PLO. Moreover, it
is the PLO and the Palestinian National Council which derive their
legitimacy from the fact that they represent all sectors of the displaced
Palestinian people, no matter where they presently live or have refuge.”

Particularly crucial are the potential implications for Palestinians in the
Diaspora. The majority of Palestinians are refugees, and all of them are
represented by the PLO through the PNC.

“They constitute more than half of the people of Palestine, and if they are
‘disenfranchised’ and lose their representation in the UN, it will not only
prejudice their entitlement to equal representation … but also their
ability to vocalise their views, to participate in matters of national
governance, including the formation and political identity of the State, and
to exercise the right of return,” the legal briefing says.

Karma Nabulsi, a former PLO representative and now a professor at Oxford
University, says she is familiar with the document. Palestinian officials
have also seen the legal opinion, she says.

“Without question, no Palestinian will accept losing such core rights for
such a limited diplomatic initiative in September,” she says. “First, we
will not have liberated territory upon which to establish a State. But in
losing the PLO as the sole legitimate representative at the UN, our people
immediately lose our claims as refugees to be part of our official
representation, recognized by the world.

“This is an urgent and critical issue for our whole people. We must ensure
our representatives advance our rights in international forum, not weaken or
endanger them. Of course now that the legal dangers have been raised so
fully, I am confident the initiative will protect the status of the PLO as
sole legitimate representative in the UN in order to advance the rights” of
the Palestinian people.

She says Goodwin-Gill has defined and clarified the “red lines” in legal
terms.

“The PLO is the representative of the people, not just a part of the people;
the PLO is the architect and creator of the Palestinian Authority; that any
change in who represents the people or a part of the people requires an
expression of the popular will and international recognition,” she
explained.

“Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO can alter the role and
structure of the PLO without the agreement of the entire Palestinian people.
In any case, the PLO and the Palestinian people were not aware that by
losing the PLO as representative at the UN, it would create such legal
dangers. Now they are.”

She concluded: “Obviously, we need clarity from the PLO on this critical
issue, and it is important that the Palestinian public everywhere,
especially the refugees in the shatat, are given concrete reassurances that
representation of their core rights — on both representation and right of
return — will remain untouched in September.”

The Secret Jewish government that runs Russia.

The Secret Jewish government that runs Russia.

Posted by Ali.mostaque

JEWISH CONTROL OF RUSSIA? by aangirfan

Putin

On 6 September 2010, Russia and Israel signed an agreement on military cooperation.

When we were in Greek Cyprus we noted the presence of a number of Russian millionaires with the most expensive cars you can imagine.

When we were in Italy we also sighted millionaire Russians.

Is Russia a Mafia state and is it close friends with Israel?

It is not just the UK security services which have strong links to Israel (THE CLASSIC SEX SCANDAL), it is also the Russian security services.

The KGB and Mossad used to share their secrets.Marc Rich is Jewish.

According to Newsmax (Marc Rich Helped KGB Create Hidden Government,), 31 March 2001:

“Marc Rich, the most-wanted fugitive pardoned by former President Clinton, was a key figure in the Communist Party and the KGB’s creation of an underground government that survived the break-up of the Soviet Union and still rules Russia today behind the scenes.”

Medvedev has Jewish origins?

What are we to make of Russian prime minister Putin and Russian president Medvedev?

Medvedev’s “maternal grandfather’s first name was Veniamin – similar to the Hebrew Binyamin (Benjamin) – while his family name, Shaposhnikov, is sometimes a Jewish name.” (Rumors that Putin’s successor is Jewish.)

“Medvedev will be wonderful for the Jews,” just as Putin was, declared Israeli-Russian businessman Lev Leviev, who heads the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia. (Rumors that Putin’s successor is Jewish.)

Reportedly, Stalin was Jewish and had Jewish mistresses. Reportedly, his top spy was Victor Rothschild.

In November 2009, Russian President Dimitry Medvedev told a visiting delegation from the European Jewish Congress that the Iranian threat is very real, as are the threats posed by North Korea and Pakistan, and should be treated seriously. (Medvedev to European Jewish Congress: Iran threat very real …)

According to a western diplomat: “Russia’s main problem … is that an unholy nexus of politics, big business and organised crime still dominates the ruling class.” (Putin legacy – Telegraph )

Mogilevich is Jewish

Reportedly, Putin Dared To Call The Bluff Of The Global Jewish Mafia.

In 2008, “according to Russian media reports, Mogilevich, a Ukrainian business tycoon and Mafia godfather, was arrested in a Moscow shopping center. (Die Welt, 26 Jan 2008, p. 11.)…

Semion Mogilevich, mass murderer and global swindler, has officially been on the ‘wanted’ list for decades, but he enjoyed the protection of the most powerful government ministries in the world.

“This was especially true where the BND: Federal German Intelligence Agency was concerned…

“According to the ZDF German Television magazine ‘Kennzeichnen D’ (1 Sep 1999), Semion Mogilevich, the presumed godfather of the largest Russian crime syndicate, who has been named who in connection with billions swindled by the Yeltsin Clan, enjoys protection at the highest levels in all Europe..”

Mogilevich was arrested in Moscow on January 24, 2008, for suspected tax evasion.[25] [26]

He was released on July 24, 2009.

The Russian interior ministry stated that the charges against him “are not of a particularly grave nature.”[27][28]

Beria was Jewish. “Beria was noted for having his bodyguards kidnap young schoolgirls so that he could rape them in his Lubyanka office, which doubled as a torture chamber.”

General Leonid Ivashov is a former joint chief of staff of the Russian army.

On 28 September 2010, at voltairenet.org/en, Ivashov suggests that Medvedev has opted for the US-Israeli camp.

(“In the Interests of Israel”: Why Russia will not sell the S-300 Air Defense System to Iran)

According to Ivashov:

1. On September 22 2010, it was announced that Russia will not sell the S-300 air defense system to Iran.

2. This defence system is a purely defensive system.

3. The refusal to supply the S-300 complexes to Iran clearly hurts Russia’s political and economic interests.

4. Tehran proposed a number of times to turn the Middle East into a nuclear-free zone.

5. Igor Yurgens, chief of a well-connected Russian thinktank, spoke on 28 July 2010 about the possibility of integrating Russia into NATO.

He reported that in the nearest future Russia would ­be importing at least 30% of the weapons and equipment for its army from Israel and NATO countries.

6. General V. Dvorkin paid a visit to Israel a short time ago. He urged US senators to OK launching an attack against Iran.

Russian girl, from http://www.russian-victories.ru/

7. On 6 September 2010, the defense ministers of Russia and Israel A. Serdyukov and Ehud Barak signed a first-ever agreement on military cooperation between the two countries.

This includes sharing intelligence and could mean that Russia spies on Turkey and passes information onto Israel.

8. Russia seems to be turning a blind eye to Israel’s role in the attack on its troops in South Ossetia.

Israel assisted in organizing and launching the August 2008 unprovoked Georgian aggression against South Ossetia and the deadly raid against the Russian peacekeepers deployed in the republic.

9. Russia has a problem with its Moslem population in the Caucasus. (This may be being stirred up by the CIA and Mossad – Aangirfan)

10. There is a fear that Russia will join the “military escapades of the Anglo-Saxons and of the Israeli Zionist leadership in the name of the shadowy financial oligarchy’s global dominance.”

Putin, from http://www.russian-victories.ru/

Anonymous added this comment:

“Medvedev might be leaning towards the Zionazis but dont count out the formidable chess player Vladimir Putin and remember that he won a stunning popularity because he threw the Jewish oligarch-mafia crooks behind bars.

“He also vapourized the Israeli base and their local infrastructure intended for an imminent attack on Iran, in Georgia. (IDF participated directly in the Georgian suprise attack on Russian peace keepers)

“The fact that Iranian critisism of the move is close to zero speaks something too and besides, Syria (host to the Russian mediterrian base at Tartus), which is a close ally of Iran, will get a similar defence system…”

Yuri Andropov, former leader of the USSR, was Jewish.

Winston Churchill wrote that: “in the Soviet institutions the predominance of Jews is astonishing.“And the prominent, if not indeed, the principal, part in the system of terrorism applied by the Extraordinary Commissions for Combating Counter-Revolution has been taken by Jews, and in some notable cases by Jewesses…

“The fact that in many cases Jewish interests and Jewish places of worship are excepted by the Bolsheviks from their universal hostility has tended more and more to associate the Jewish race in Russia with villainies which are now being perpetrated…”

Researcher Wayne McGuire of Harvard University writes: “50% of the communist terrorist vanguard in the south and west of Russia was comprised of Jews.” (http://www.russians.org/communist.html)

The Siberian novelist Valentin Rasputin wrote in 1990: “I think today the Jews here in Russia should feel responsible for the sin of having carried out the revolution and for the shape it took.

“They should feel responsible for the terror – for the terror that existed during the revolution and especially after the revolution … their guilt is great.

“They perpetrated the relentless campaign against the peasant class whose land was brutally expropriated by the state and who themselves were ruthlessly murdered.”

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s biographer wrote: “By the age of ten he had the cross ripped from his neck by jeering Pioneers and for over a year was held up to ridicule…

“Solzhenitsyn was, as a boy, exposed to students whose parents had an officially superior status.

“Most of the members of the Young Pioneers and Komsomol movements, at least in Rostov, were Jewish children…” (Michael Scammell, Solzhenitsyn: A Biography, p. 64).

According to the RNS wire service (reprinted in “The Christian News,” Jan. 8, 1996, p. 2), “Some 200,000 (Christian) clergy, many crucified, scalped and otherwise tortured, were killed during the approximately 60 years of communist rule in the former Soviet Union, a Russian commission reported Monday (Nov. 27, 1995)…

“40,000 churches (were) destroyed in the period from 1922 to 1980…”

Russia’s concentration camps and slave labor system were “staffed in its upper echelons by Jewish Communists.”

Sixteen million ethnic Germans were forcibly expelled from Silesia, Moravia and the Volga at the end of the Second World War. Two million perished. 800,000 mostly Muslim Chechens were deported to Kazakhstan; a quarter of a million died enroute. 12% of the Baltic population was either deported to Siberia or executed.http://www.russians.org/communist.html

In the Bolshevik era, 52 percent of the membership of the Soviet communist party was Jewish, though Jews comprised only 1.8 percent of the total population (Stuart Kahan, The Wolf of the Kremlin, p. 81)

Source: http://www.russians.org/communist.html

Reportedly, Tito was the only non-Jewish dictator behind the Iron Curtain in the late 1940s. However, the Yugoslavian communist party sent massive arms shipments to Jewish fighters in Palestine in the 1940s.

Obama threatens U.S. intervention in Syria

Obama threatens U.S. intervention in Syria

By Sara Flounders

President Barack Obama on Aug. 18 demanded that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad step down, saying that his days are numbered. The governments of Britain, France and Germany joined in this demand.

This threat is blatant imperialist interference in Syria’s internal affairs. More than that, it is an open threat to again intervene militarily in the region, just as the U.S. and its European allies have done already in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia.

Two weeks earlier, Russian NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin told the media that NATO was planning a military campaign to overthrow the Assad government. In an interview with the Russian daily Izvestia, Rogozin added that the Western imperialist military alliance also may have plans to attack Iran. (Xinhua, Aug. 5)

When imperialism states its intention to bring down a government or movement, as the U.S. is doing now to Syria, it is cowardly to stand on the same side as the imperialists who seek to dominate the world, or even to be neutral. This has been an ABC in class-conscious workers’ movements for 150 years, since Karl Marx. Whatever one’s assessment of the government under attack, imperialist intervention, whether through sanctions or armed attack, must be opposed.

Obama’s double standard

The Obama administration has called on the governments of Libya and Syria to resign, as though they were the only ones using force against a portion of their population.

Look across the Atlantic to Washington’s closest ally. The British government just sent 16,000 police against the rebellious people of London and other cities. After hasty trials, some people were sentenced to four years in prison for sending messages with their Blackberries. Even before the recent rebellions there, the police had killed 333 civilians in England and Wales over the last 13 years. (Report of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, reported in The Guardian, Dec. 3, 2010)

In May police of the Spanish state fired rubber bullets at people camped out in Plaza de Catalunya in Barcelona protesting an austerity budget. The Greek government has repressed many strikes and demonstrations in the past year. Washington cheers on the state power in all three allied capitals for punishing legitimate rebellions.

Even more blatant is the repression in Bahrain, a country of half a million people that hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet. There was not a word of criticism from Washington when the monarchy killed dozens of protesters and arrested and tortured hundreds more, or when Saudi troops invaded the island to help put down the uprising.

The threat to Syria is connected to the social explosion shaking the Arab world. U.S. imperialism and all the old regimes tied to it in the region are trying desperately to manage and contain this still unfolding mass upheaval into channels that do not threaten imperialist domination.

The U.S. and its collaborators are also trying to divide and undermine the two main wings of the forces resisting imperialist domination — the Islamic forces and the secular nationalist forces — which together overthrew U.S.-backed dictators in Egypt and Tunisia. There is now a concerted effort to turn these same political forces against the two regimes in the region that have opposed U.S. domination in the past Libya and Syria.

U.S. diplomatic cables revealed by Wikileaks showed that the U.S. campaign to overthrow Assad began years ago under President George W. Bush. (“U.S. secretly backed Syrian opposition groups,” Washington Post, April 18)

Now Obama’s open declaration against Assad makes it no longer necessary to see secret cables to know where U.S. imperialism stands.

Flounders is co-director of the International Action Center. For more on Syria see: http://www.iacenter.org/nafricamideast/syria050611.


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Iranian Security Sources Finger Qaddafi for 1978 Killing of Shia Imam

[The fact that they would release this story now demonstrates a unity of purpose between NATO, Saudi Arabia and Iran.]

Report: Al-Sadr’s Body Thrown into Sea

by Naharnet Newsdesk


W460

The regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi killed Shiite cleric Moussa al-Sadr 33 years ago and threw his body into the sea, Iranian security sources said.

The sources, who had collaborated with the Shah’s regime, told an Iranian website that al-Sadr and his two companions Sheikh Mohammed Yacoub and journalist Abbas Badreddine were killed upon their abduction by the Gadhafi regime and their bodies were thrown into the sea after being attached to cement blocks.

Former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat has reportedly confirmed that the Egyptian intelligence had information that Sadr was murdered.

Western sources also said the Gadhafi regime assassinated the group that killed the Imam and his companions by blowing up the helicopter that had thrown the bodies into the sea.

In 1978, al-Sadr and his companions flew to Tripoli for a week of talks with Libyan officials. They were never seen or heard from again. The day he was last seen, on Aug. 31, 1978, is still marked annually in Lebanon.

At the time, the Libyan regime insisted al-Sadr and his aides left on a flight to Rome at the end of their visit and suggested the imam fell victim to an inter-Shiite power struggle.

Mexico’s Calderon berates U.S. after casino attack

Vodpod videos no longer available.

By Miguel Angel Gutierrez

Mexico’s Calderon berates U.S. after casino attack

MEXICO CITY | Fri Aug 26, 2011 1:04pm EDT

(Reuters) – President Felipe Calderon declared three days of mourning on Friday and demanded a crackdown on drugs in the United States after armed men torched a casino in northern Mexico, killing at least 52 people.

Under intense pressure as violence soars, Calderon said he would send more federal security forces to the city of Monterrey, where gunmen set fire to an upmarket casino on Thursday in one of the worst attacks of Mexico’s drugs war.

Lashing out at corrupt officials in Mexico and “insatiable” U.S. demand for drugs for fomenting the violence, Calderon urged Congress to stamp out drug consumption and stop illegal trafficking of weapons across the border into Mexico.

“We’re neighbors, we’re allies, we’re friends, but you are also responsible,” a somber and angry Calderon said to the United States in a speech after meeting his security advisers.

Pledging to step up the fight on organized crime, Calderon said Mexico was under attack from “true terrorists”, and told all Mexicans to come forward and denounce those responsible.

“They aren’t and cannot be the ones in charge of our streets, our cities and our future,” he said, shortly before departing to Monterrey to take stock of the situation.

President Barack Obama called the attack “barbaric” and said his government stood shoulder to shoulder with Mexico in the battle against the gangs.

“We share with Mexico responsibility for meeting this challenge and we are committed to continuing our unprecedented cooperation in confronting these criminal organizations,” Obama said in a statement issued by the White House.

Washington provides money and resources to Mexico in the drugs war, but joint cooperation has been damaged by mistrust, a botched U.S. plan to track down weapons smugglers and the killing by suspected hitmen of a U.S. customs agent in Mexico this year.

Calderon first ordered a crackdown against the cartels when he took office in late 2006 and several senior traffickers have been arrested. However, turf wars between rival cartels have killed about 42,000 people, battering Mexico’s reputation.

The president insists his campaign has weakened the cartels but critics say it simply brought a surge in violence and has done little or nothing to slow the flow of cocaine, marijuana and other drugs into the United States.

The carnage has hurt support for Calderon’s conservative National Action Party (PAN), which already faces an uphill battle to retain the presidency in elections next July.

BITTER BLOW

The casino attack is particularly bitter for Calderon because the victims were mainly well-to-do civilians with no link to the conflict, in an area that has traditionally been a electoral stronghold for the business-friendly PAN.

Monterrey, which lies about 230 km (140 miles) from the Texas border, is a relatively wealthy city of about 4 million people and is home to some of Mexico’s biggest companies. It was for many years seen as a model of economic development but it has been ravaged by the drugs war over the past two years.

The president was unrepentant on Friday and sought to pin blame for the violence on corrupt judges and politicians in “certain parts” of the country. It appeared to be an attack on the main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which controls the majority of Mexico’s states.

With a big lead in opinion polls, the PRI is on track to oust the PAN from power next year and analysts expect the ruling party to intensify efforts to discredit its bitter rival as the presidential vote nears.

Survivors from Thursday afternoon’s attack said armed men burst into the Casino Royale and threatened gamblers before dousing gasoline on the carpets and setting it on fire.

“My wife came here for a celebration,” a weeping man told Milenio TV. “She was having dinner with her friends.”

Media reports said the majority of the dead were women.

Security camera footage showed four vehicles pulling up outside the front of the casino and waiting while the assailants went into the gambling hall.

Within three minutes, black smoke was billowing from the front doors and people could be seen fleeing in panic.

(Additional reporting by Dave Graham, Victor Hugo Valdivia and Michael O’Boyle in Mexico andLaura MacInnis in the United States; Editing by Kieran Murray)

NATO destroys yet another country

Geopolitical notes from India
M D Nalapat
Some years ago, in the Indian site http://www.bharat-rakshak.com, this columnist had written of the NATO militaries as resembling an army of simians. Such a force – if let loose within a confined space – can create immense damage, but are unable to clean up the resultant mess. This is precisely what the world has witnessed in Iraq. Despite more than a decade of sanctions that directly resulted in nearly a million extra deaths during that period ( because of shortages created by the UN-approved measures), the regime of Saddam Hussein was able to provide food, energy and housing to the people of Iraq, whereas eight years after “liberation” by key NATO members, the country and its population are worse off than before the 2003 invasion that led to the execution of Saddam Hussein. As for Afghanistan, after a decade of the world’s most modern military force fighting against a ragtag band of insurgents, more than a third of the country is back in the hands of the Taliban, while a fifth of the rest is on the brink of a similar fate. As a consequence of its failure to subdue this force, NATO is desperately clutching at plans for engaging the “moderate Taliban”, an oxymoron if ever one was created.

Serbia has yet to recover from its brief burst of battle with NATO, and now Libya has joined the lengthening list of countries devastated by the attentions of NATO. Clearly, the top brass in a military alliance designed to do battle in Europe against the USSR were reluctant to close shop. They have therefore redesigned NATO as a military instrument with multiple uses, especially against “asymmetric threats”, a term which refers to countries that have ramshackle militaries. Both Saddam Hussein and Moammar Gaddafy followed the dictates of the NATO powers in surrendering whatever WMD was in their possession, unlike Syria and North Korea, two countries that have been left undisturbed by NATO as a consequence. Clearly, military planners within the alliance are ready for action only against those rivals that have had their conventional capabilities degraded to the point at which they do not represent any significant risk against the alliance. Had George W Bush and Tony Blair truly believed their own rhetoric about Saddam Hussein having WMD, they would never have sent their armies into Iraq the way they did.

As mentioned in these columns, Gaddafy’s fate got sealed when he accepted the advice of his Europe-dazzled sons to disarm and place the survival of his regime in the hands of NATO. Since 2003, Muammar Gaddafy dismantled his WMD program, synchronised his intelligence services with that of NATO and generally accepted each of the prescriptions handed over to him. Had NATO been an alliance that respects reciprocity, all this ought to have made NATO turn as blind an eye to his battle with sections of the population as we have seen in the case of Bahrain, where the ruling family has been given a free hand to sort out the situation. Instead, the situation changed when Nicholas Sarkozy was informed by French banks that Colonel Gaddafy may withdraw the immense bank deposits of Libya from them to institutions in China, and when he learnt that several contracts that French enterprises were expecting to come to them would vanish because Gaddafy wanted to spend less on French military and other toys and more on social services. Libya had to be made an example of, lest other Arab governments think of shifting their money elsewhere than within the NATO bloc as a consequence of the loss of $1.3 trillion by the GCC and its people alone because of the financial fraud perpetrated in 2008 by banks and other financial entities headquartered within the NATO bloc.

These days, companies based within NATO are finding it difficult to retain the monopoly position they have enjoyed, sometimes for generations. In particular, Chinese companies are challenging them in numerous markets, as are companies based elsewhere in Asia, including within South Korea and India. As a consequence, they now rely on military force to retain their privileges. This has been illustrated with commendable transparency in the case of Iraq and Libya. In the latter case, even though the fumes of battle have not ceased (and are unlikely to), oil companies such as ENI and Total are hard at work figuring out the assets they can seize because of the local victories of the Sarkozy-appointed “National Transitional Council”. Interestingly, even though the NTC is a creation of Paris, the UN has accepted it as the legitimate government of [Libya]. Indeed,in the 21st century the UN seems to have regressed into the period between 1919 and 1939,when the League of Nations awarded “mandates” to dominant countries that permitted them to rule weaker ones. In the past decade, similar mandates have been proferred in the case of Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. In the case of Libya, President Sarkozy’s takeover of the Libyan state via the creation of the NTC has been similarly legitimized by the UN in an astonishing abdication of principle.

However, just as in other locations, facts on the ground may not follow the script favoured by NATO. In the case of Libya, this columnist has warned for five months that the NATO intervention would only result in civil war and in the steady destruction of the infrastructure that made Libya one of the more prosperous countries in the region. All this is at risk today, as chaos descends in the form of armed gangs set loose by NATO across the country. Not that there is ever any chance of those responsible for such a catastrophe being held accountable by so-called “international” bodies, most of which are now firmly in the control of the NATO powers in a way that their own economies are not. Over the past decade, tens of thousands of civilian deaths have resulted from NATO operations, without even a mild protest from the International Court or the Human Rights Council. Such inaction is leading to the same loss of respect for the UN system as took place in the past with the League of Nations, which became seen as being controlled by a small group for their own purposes.

Whether it is Libya or any other country, each has the right to develop its societal dynamic in its own way. Unless a country poses a threat to others, the way Talban-controlled Afghanistan did, it is not legitimate target for international action. In the case of Libya, since 2003 Colonel Gaddafy disarmed his military of WMD and fully cooperated with the US-led War on Terror. His fate has become a lesson to others who may have been tempted to follow in his path of conciliation with NATO. Small wonder that the other regimes in the sights of NATO – Syria and Iran in particular – are in no hurry to follow the Libyan example. Rather than seek to finish off a leader who buried the hatchet publicly and fully the way Gaddafy did, NATO would have been better advised to show its magnanimity and its willingness to keep agreements in good faith. That would have acted as an incentive for Syria, Iran and even North Korea to follow suit, thereby making the globe a safer place. Today, all three states – understandably – have zero faith in the bona fides of the NATO powers, and as a consequence are each going their own way. Combine this with the economic desolation seen within NATO ( much of which has been caused by the huge spike in military spending caused by foreign adventures), and overall even the medium-term prognosis for NATO is dim, despite the smiles of congratulation at the advance of NATO proxies into Tripoli.

Unlike during the Vietnam war, when the Pentagon extensively sourced its procurement from Asia, the Bush-Cheney team sought to give US entities a monopoly over the supply of the items needed, even items as militarily inconsequential as toothpaste. The result of such an autarchic policy has been a big increase in spending, with the US alone spending more than a trillion dollars in its wars with Iraq and Afghanistan. Indeed, we have seen this use of the state machinery to block competition across several sectors. The EU, for example, has banned Indian pharmaceuticals from its market, despite the low cost and high quality of medicines produced in India. Just now, the EU has banned Samsung hi-tech products. A time will come when Asia bans German cars and French defense equipment in retaliation for the frequent bans on Asian products on specious grounds. The US and the EU cannot protect their way out of economic trouble. They need to give their citizens access to the benefits of a global market, rather than break every canon that they have been preaching for decades. As for NATO, it will soon become clear that while it may be possible to defeat a ramshackle force with the massive use of airpower, that may not translate into monopoly privileges over Libyan oil reserves. Should China or India come up with better terms than Italian or French companies, the people of Libya will ensure that their government act in a way that protects their interests, rather than only those of NATO. The use of military power for commercial advantage ought to have vanished when the 19th century did. Its reappearance in Iraq and Libya is a worrisome sign that NATO has not learnt the lessons of history.

—The writer is Vice-Chair, Manipal Advanced Research Group, UNESCO Peace Chair & Professor of Geopolitics, Manipal University, Haryana State, India.

THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE EMPIRE–Disinfo Site Debkafile Pushes Meme of “Imperial Split”

The following report is likely to be true.  The disinfo element in it is the report’s contention that there is a separation developing between the Saudis and the US.  There is no distance between Saudi Imperial plans and US Imperial plans–THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE EMPIRE.  The seemingly independent Saudi policing actions on display in the Middle East are merely the next act in the ongoing psyop, or “soap opera,” which the CIA organizers are setting-up for our amusement.  The Saudis, just like the Pakistanis, or the Israelis, act when they are told or allowed to act.  That is the way Empire works, no one is allowed to pursue an independent path, unless the appearance of “independence” serves the Empire’s interests.  There is no move towards a Saudi Empire, but there is a move towards a Saudi-created Sunni superstate, largely reassuming the old Hashemite Kingdom, which the British Imperialists carved-up.  Such a Sunni superstate will serve CIA plans for the region, but it will also set-up another adversary to be eventually knocked-down in the span of the perpetual war.  

Believe it or not, but the extremist Wahhabi kingdom is acting as the voice of Imperial moderation on our behalf,  in other words, they are playing the role of “good cop” to Iran’s “bad cop” image.  They are making moves on behalf of Empire which the US could never make on its own.  The plan is to eventually create an international Sunni “caliphate,” to cover all areas within the zone of US interests, from Africa to Asia.  Just as the Empire helped to create its former “enemies” in the past (Soviet Union, Nazi Germany), it has been constructing this “Islamist” bogeyman, using the Saudis, the Turks, and the Egyptians (Muslim Brotherhood and Fetullah Gulen), to set-up the new Caliphate, in order to scare the little American children, motivating their parents into taking-up arms in defense of Empire.

Until we are able to demonstrate conclusively to our fellow countrymen the monstrous plan that our government has been slowly unfolding, the Evil Empire will continue to swallow-up nations.  Until we show the people that the American military and the troops that we love to “support” have been tasked with reshaping the world in the American image, the psyops and the soap operas will continue. 

We like to blame our government for all the evil that it does, never bothering to admit or realize that all that evil is done in our names and WITH OUR PERMISSION.  Deny them the power to commit such evil.

peter.chamberlin@hotmail.com]

US, Saudi Arabia Smuggle Satellite Phones to Syrian Rebels

This is the first time the Obama administration has stepped in with direct assistance for the Syrian opposition in its drive to unseat Syrian President Bashar Assad.
DEBKAfile

Iranian intelligence experts in Damascus have been disrupting the Syrian opposition movement’s telephone and Internet links with the outside world and among fellow-protesters in the country. To bridge the communications gap, the US and Saudi Arabia have in the last two weeks smuggled thousands of satellite phones into Syria and put them in the hands of opposition leaders, debkafile reports.

The new phones will also overcome the latest Syrian steps, also on the advice of their Iranian advisers, to slow down the speed of the Internet to impede the transmission of images – most of all live video – of brutal attacks by Syrian security and military forces on protesters.

US and Saudi intelligence services are picking up the tab for the satellite phones and have given the providers a free hand to place no limits on their use.

This is the first time the Obama administration has stepped in with direct assistance for the Syrian opposition in its drive to unseat Syrian President Bashar Assad – in way, moreover, that challenges Iran’s contribution to the regime’s survival.

Monday, July 25, Washington also ramped up its criticism of the Assad regime: “The behavior of security forces, including such other barbaric shootings, wide scale arrests of young men and boys, brutal torture and other abuses of basic human rights, is reprehensible,” said a State Department spokesman.

The Saudis have gone still further: On July 19, a new television station “Shabab Syria” (Syrian Youth), financed by Riyadh, went on the air and began broadcasting anti-Assad opposition’s messages to all parts of the country.

In a statement to Iranian news media, the Syrian ambassador to Tehran Hamed Hassan denied that Saudi Arabia was supplying the Syrian opposition with arms. He insisted that relations between the two countries were good, but then added: “Certain people and groups in Saudi Arabia are providing the Syrian opposition financial and media assistance, or issuing fatwas which fan the flames of sedition in the country.”

Saudi Arabia Forging a New Sunni State?

[Excellent analysis of Saudi power play in Middle East.]

Saudi Arabia Forging a New Sunni State?

The kingdom may be aiding Syrian protesters in an effort to break up their nation and create a Sunni state.

Is Saudi Arabia conniving with the United States to unseat the Assad regime in Syria? The possible smuggling of satellite phones into the country suggests so but the kingdom’s ultimate aim may not necessarily align with American policy in the region—the creation of a new Sunni state between Syria and Iraq.  [ed.–SEE:  US, Saudi Arabia Smuggle Satellite Phones to Syrian Rebels]

Iranian intelligence experts in Damascus attempted to disrupt the Syrian opposition’s telephone and Internet connections in recent weeks, making it all the more difficult for news of the uprising to reach the outside world. To help the rebels, Saudi Arabia and the United States reportedly smuggled thousands of satellite phones into Syria. Other than that, there’s little the Americans can do short of military intervention. President Bashar al-Assad may have lost the “legitimacy to lead” but he doesn’t need Washington for anything, rendering sanctions virtually useless.

Protests erupted in Syria in March after the “Arab spring” deposed veteran dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. In Bahrain, Shī’ah Muslims also took to the streets to pressure their largely Sunni government into enacting reforms but Saudi troops quelled the uprising before it could pose a serious threat to the small Arab Gulf state’s monarchy.

The oil kingdom is now rooting for the protesters in Syria, or at least some of them. Besides supposedly supplying the anti-government forces with satellite phones in conjunctions with the Americans, Saudi Arabia privately and clandestinely poured money and arms into the country in the hopes of stiffening the resistance and buying the loyalty of desert tribes.

The ultimate aim could be the erection of a new state encompassing not only the Euphrates’ river valley in Syria roughly corresponding with the southeastern Deir ez-Zor Governorate but Iraq’s central Al Anbar province as well. Both are overwhelmingly Sunni and home to more than a couple of million people. Such a country would put a natural geostrategic ally of Saudi Arabia’s in the heart of the Arab world—a “forward operating base” for Riyadh from where to watch Syria, Turkey and Iraq, three Middle Eastern states that are increasingly assertive, and from where to counter Iranian influence.

Riyadh blamed Tehran for stirring the uprising in Bahrain even if there was little evidence of Iranian involvement. The accusation and Saudi led military action nevertheless demonstrated just how worried the Saudis were about Iran extending its influence in the region.

They have ample reason to be concerned. The Saudi backed government in Lebanon was undermined by Iranian ally Hezbollah earlier this year while two of the kingdom’s allies in containing the Islamic Republic, Egypt and Iraq, have been rocked by internal unrest. With Iraq now a democracy—ruled by a Shiite prime minister—and Hosni Mubarak out of office and facing trial, Saudi Arabia and Iran are the only two powers still standing in the Middle East.

A political disintegration of Iraq and Syria, prompted by the creation of another Saudi client state, would weaken both a friend of Iran’s and one of its traditional foes. The United States, after spending considerable blood and treasure stabilizing Iraq, might rather not see its experiment in multiethnic Arab democracy fall apart. It’s anyone’s guess what will happen to Syria after Assad moreover. But the development could bolster the club of pro-Western regimes in the region.

Neighboring Jordan conveniently joined the Gulf Cooperation Council two months ago which formally sanctioned March’s intervention in Bahrain. Whether Morocco also joins the organization or not, it is a moderate Islamist bulwark against Iranian encroachment in West Asia, providing Saudi foreign policy with extra legitimacy and sometimes an alternative to dollar diplomacy. Whatever the emirates contribute in funding, the Saudis are obviously in the lead. And they’re disappointed about their American ally’s reluctance to support them.

The Saudis didn’t particularly care for President Barack Obama’s championing of human rights and reform in the face of the Arab spring and blamed him for forcing Mubarak out of power.

From Washington’s perspective, the alliance with the Wahhabi kingdom is one of convenience. It regards its religious intolerance and backwardness as an embarrassment even if the two countries share interests in the region. Both want to keep the oil flowing, the Gulf free of Iranian influence and neither wants the ayatollahs to go nuclear and embolden their terrorist proxies in the Levant. The clear strategic rationale of the relationship tends to be overshadowed by moral objections on America’s part however. Saudi nation building abroad is likely to raise more than a few eyebrows in the State Department therefore.

Actually, sponsoring the foundation of a brand new republic (presumably) in the Middle East wouldn’t be such a stretch for the United States ideologically. It’s not as though today’s national boundaries in the Middle East necessarily reflect cultural and religious divides—let alone encompass specific peoples or nations. Rather, a Sunni polity separate of multicultural Syria and Shī’ah majority Iraq conforms much better to notions of sovereignty and self determination than the status quo.

It’s not often that American interests and ideology coincide in the Middle East. The risks of too overtly endorsing the Saudi effort—if it is a serious effort to begin with—are clear. America could be perceived as once again meddling in the internal affairs of Arab states. Success, on the other hand, could leave Iraq, then virtually a Shiite homeland, much stabler and Saudi Arabia, a pivotal Western ally, in an enhanced position to balance against Iranian intrigue. Now Washington has only to recognize the opportunity.

Nick Ottens is an historian from the Netherlands who researched Muslim revivalist movements and terrorism in nineteenth century Arabia, British India and the Sudan for his Master’s thesis. He also studied the history of transatlantic relations and is currently a contributing analyst with Wikistrat. Nick blogs about politics and economics at Free Market Fundamentalist.

A guerrilla war in the making?

 A guerrilla war in the making?

PV Vivekanand
Muammar Qadhafi and his inner circle have mysteriously disappeared from their stronghold, Tripoli. Thousands of soldiers and mercenary forces that Qadhafi was supposed to have mobilised to defend his capital have melted away overnight. And no seems to know what happened to Qadhafi’s weapons of mass destruction, mainly a large stockpile of chemical weapons, raw nuclear materials and some 30,000 shoulder-fired rockets that can threaten aircraft, US intelligence officials say.

The problem is that no one knows where they — or at least part of them — are stored.

Western officials are also worried that militant groups like Al Qaeda could lay their hands on part of the arsenal. British Foreign Secretary William Hague has warned that it is possible that someone in the regime who might have access to mustard gas and might try to use them for whatever reason.

Libya joined the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in 2004, but, according to US sources, the country’s plans to end production of chemical weapons and destroy those already in its possession were stalled because of disputes between Libya and the US over funding and logistics.

The best bet is that Qadhafi had anticipated that the rebels would be able to get into Tripoli and pose a serious challenge that would eventually find them in control of the capital, given the committed support that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) and others were (and are) giving them. So he had prepared an alternative: Moving somewhere from where he could launch a guerrilla war against the regime that replaces him and take revenge on those who helped the rebels topple him.

That could also explain why Qadhafi explained through media that he controls that he had staged a “tactical” withdrawal from his Bab Aziziya compound and his war against his foes would continue.

Qadhafi and his people are believed to have used tunnels under the six-square kilometre Bab Al Azizia compound to get out of Tripoli.

Regional observers believe that Qadhafi and his forces could regroup in Sebha in southern Libya where he enjoys the support of the local tribes. Sebha was where he was building nuclear facilities that he agreed in 2003 to dismantle under an agreement with the US. He also built underground military facilities and bunkers there to make Sebha an ideal place for shelter when the need arose.

Today, Sebha could be turned into a place from where he could launch a guerrilla war to keep Libya unstable for a long time.

Some reports indicate that thousands of fighters from his own Qaddafa tribe and other tribes loyal to Qadhafi have been moving to Sebha in recent weeks. Notwithstanding the freeze of Libyan funds and assets outside the country, Qadhafi should have enough resources to sustain a guerrilla war and pay his sleeping agents in Europe and elsewhere to Nato countries and allies to punish them for having supported the rebels.

For all we know, Qadhafi could have moved himself to Sebha (or any other place) days or weeks earlier. He was not seen in Tripoli since and his audio rhetoric came through telephone calls, some of them caught in bad connections, indicating that they could have been long-distance communications. Qadhafi’s last public appearance was on June 12 with the visiting president of the World Chess Federation, Kirsan N. Ilyumzhinov.

If he had been planning a guerrilla war, then Qadhafi would most definitely would have equipped himself well.

It is very alarming that despite the close surveillance and intelligence gathering that the US and Nato allies maintained on Libya using satellite, drones and other aircraft, they have not been able to locate the poison gas and rockets or intercept their transfer to wherever Qadhafi chose to move them.

US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice has said that the US was taking steps to prevent the weapons from falling into the wrong hands. Two teams of US weapon experts are reportedly working to secure the sites of weapons of mass destruction in rebel-held areas.

Qadhafi located his chemical weapons facility in Rabta, south of Tripoli, where he is believed to have produced some 10 tonnes of various chemical agents which can inflict grave damage. Libya was also believed to have Scud-B missiles and mass quantities of conventional weapons.

Against that backdrop, it is frightening to even to imagine how these could come in handy for Qadhafi in a guerrilla war if he has made sure he could have them when and where he wants them, particularly if he decides to make a last-ditch stand. He could even slip in a tonne or two of mustard gas to Al Qaeda and other extremist groups with no end-use conditions attached except that it should not be used against him and his loyalists.

If that is indeed the case, then the fall of Tripoli and Qadhafi’s disappearance are definitely not the last we have heard of the Libyan conflict.