Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base

Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base

“‘There is no question that the policy of getting arms into Bosnia was of great assistance in allowing the Iranians to dig in and create good relations with the Bosnian government,’ a senior CIA officer told Congress in a classified deposition. ‘And it is a thing we will live to regret because when they blow up some Americans, as they no doubt will before this . . . thing is over, it will be in part because the Iranians were able to have the time and contacts to establish themselves well in Bosnia.'” [“Iran Gave Bosnia Leader $500,000, CIA Alleges: Classified Report Says Izetbegovic Has Been ‘Co-Opted,’ Contradicting U.S. Public Assertion of Rift,” Los Angeles Times, 12/31/96. Ellipses in original. Alija Izetbegovic is the Muslim president of Bosnia.]

“‘If you read President Izetbegovic’s writings, as I have, there is no doubt that he is an Islamic fundamentalist,’ said a senior Western diplomat with long experience in the region. ‘He is a very nice fundamentalist, but he is still a fundamentalist. This has not changed. His goal is to establish a Muslim state in Bosnia, and the Serbs and Croats understand this better than the rest of us.'” [“Bosnian Leader Hails Islam at Election Rallies,” New York Times, 9/2/96]

Introduction and Summary

In late 1995, President Bill Clinton dispatched some 20,000 U.S. troops to Bosnia-Hercegovina as part of a NATO-led “implementation force” (IFOR) to ensure that the warring Muslim, Serbian, and Croatian factions complied with provisions of the Dayton peace plan. [NOTE: This paper assumes the reader is acquainted with the basic facts of the Bosnian war leading to the IFOR deployment. For background, see RPC’s “Clinton Administration Ready to Send U.S. Troops to Bosnia, “9/28/95,” and Legislative Notice No. 60, “Senate to Consider Several Resolutions on Bosnia,” 12/12/95] Through statements by Administration spokesmen, notably Defense Secretary Perry and Joint Chiefs Chairman General Shalikashvili, the president firmly assured Congress and the American people that U.S. personnel would be out of Bosnia at the end of one year. Predictably, as soon as the November 1996 election was safely behind him, President Clinton announced that approximately 8,500 U.S. troops would be remaining for another 18 months as part of a restructured and scaled down contingent, the “stabilization force” (SFOR), officially established on December 20, 1996.

SFOR begins its mission in Bosnia under a serious cloud both as to the nature of its mission and the dangers it will face. While IFOR had successfully accomplished its basic military task — separating the factions’ armed forces — there has been very little progress toward other stated goals of the Dayton agreement, including political and economic reintegration of Bosnia, return of refugees to their homes, and apprehension and prosecution of accused war criminals. It is far from certain that the cease-fire that has held through the past year will continue for much longer, in light of such unresolved issues as the status of the cities of Brcko (claimed by Muslims but held by the Serbs) and Mostar (divided between nominal Muslim and Croat allies, both of which are currently being armed by the Clinton Administration). Moreover, at a strength approximately one-third that of its predecessor, SFOR may not be in as strong a position to deter attacks by one or another of the Bosnian factions or to avoid attempts to involve it in renewed fighting: “IFOR forces, despite having suffered few casualties, have been vulnerable to attacks from all of the contending sides over the year of the Dayton mandate. As a second mandate [i.e., SFOR] evolves, presumably maintaining a smaller force on the ground, the deterrent effect which has existed may well become less compelling and vulnerabilities of the troops will increase.” [“Military Security in Bosnia-Herzegovina: Present and Future,” Bulletin of the Atlantic Council of the United States, 12/18/96]

The Iranian Connection

Perhaps most threatening to the SFOR mission — and more importantly, to the safety of the American personnel serving in Bosnia — is the unwillingness of the Clinton Administration to come clean with the Congress and with the American people about its complicity in the delivery of weapons from Iran to the Muslim government in Sarajevo. That policy, personally approved by Bill Clinton in April 1994 at the urging of CIA Director-designate (and then-NSC chief) Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith, has, according to the Los Angeles Times (citing classified intelligence community sources), “played a central role in the dramatic increase in Iranian influence in Bosnia.” Further, according to the Times, in September 1996 National Security Agency analysts contradicted Clinton Administration claims of declining Iranian influence, insisting instead that “Iranian Revolutionary Guard personnel remain active throughout Bosnia.” Likewise, “CIA analysts noted that the Iranian presence was expanding last fall,” with some ostensible cultural and humanitarian activities “known to be fronts” for the Revolutionary Guard and Iran’s intelligence service, known as VEVAK, the Islamic revolutionary successor to the Shah’s SAVAK. [LAT, 12/31/96] At a time when there is evidence of increased willingness by pro-Iranian Islamic militants to target American assets abroad — as illustrated by the June 1996 car-bombing at the Khobar Towers in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, that killed 19 American airmen, in which the Iranian government or pro-Iranian terrorist organizations are suspected [“U.S. Focuses Bomb Probe on Iran, Saudi Dissident,” Chicago Tribune, 11/4/96] — it is irresponsible in the extreme for the Clinton Administration to gloss over the extent to which its policies have put American personnel in an increasingly vulnerable position while performing an increasingly questionable mission.

Three Key Issues for Examination

This paper will examine the Clinton policy of giving the green light to Iranian arms shipments to the Bosnian Muslims, with serious implications for the safety of U.S. troops deployed there. (In addition, RPC will release a general analysis of the SFOR mission and the Clinton Administration’s request for supplemental appropriations to fund it in the near future.) Specifically, the balance of this paper will examine in detail the three issues summarized below:

1. The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments (page 3): In April 1994, President Clinton gave the government of Croatia what has been described by Congressional committees as a “green light” for shipments of weapons from Iran and other Muslim countries to the Muslim-led government of Bosnia. The policy was approved at the urging of NSC chief Anthony Lake and the U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith. The CIA and the Departments of State and Defense were kept in the dark until after the decision was made.

2. The Militant Islamic Network (page 5): Along with the weapons, Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence operatives entered Bosnia in large numbers, along with thousands of mujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Muslim world. Also engaged in the effort were several other Muslim countries (including Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Turkey) and a number of radical Muslim organizations. For example, the role of one Sudan-based “humanitarian organization,” called the Third World Relief Agency, has been well-documented. The Clinton Administration’s “hands-on” involvement with the Islamic network’s arms pipeline included inspections of missiles from Iran by U.S. government officials.

3. The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime (page 8): Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided green light policy is a complete misreading of its main beneficiary, the Bosnian Muslim government of Alija Izetbegovic. Rather than being the tolerant, multiethnic democratic government it pretends to be, there is clear evidence that the ruling circle of Izetbegovic’s party, the Party of Democratic Action (SDA), has long been guided by the principles of radical Islam. This Islamist orientation is illustrated by profiles of three important officials, including President Izetbegovic himself; the progressive Islamization of the Bosnian army, including creation of native Bosnian mujahedin units; credible claims that major atrocities against civilians in Sarajevo were staged for propaganda purposes by operatives of the Izetbegovic government; and suppression of enemies, both non-Muslim and Muslim.

The Clinton Green Light to Iranian Arms Shipments

Both the Senate Intelligence Committee and the House Select Subcommittee to Investigate the United States Role in Iranian Arms Transfers to Croatia and Bosnia issued reports late last year. (The Senate report, dated November 1996, is unclassified. The House report is classified, with the exception of the final section of conclusions, which was released on October 8, 1996; a declassified version of the full report is expected to be released soon.) The reports, consistent with numerous press accounts, confirm that on April 27, 1994, President Clinton directed Ambassador Galbraith to inform the government of Croatia that he had “no instructions” regarding Croatia’s decision whether or not to permit weapons, primarily from Iran, to be transshipped to Bosnia through Croatia. (The purpose was to facilitate the acquisition of arms by the Muslim-led government in Sarajevo despite the arms embargo imposed on Yugoslavia by the U.N. Security Council.) Clinton Administration officials took that course despite their awareness of the source of the weapons and despite the fact that the Croats (who were themselves divided on whether to permit arms deliveries to the Muslims) would take anything short of a U.S. statement that they should not facilitate the flow of Iranian arms to Bosnia as a “green light.”

The green light policy was decided upon and implemented with unusual secrecy, with the CIA and the Departments of State and Defense only informed after the fact. [“U.S. Had Options to Let Bosnia Get Arms, Avoid Iran,” Los Angeles Times, 7/14/96] Among the key conclusions of the House Subcommittee were the following (taken from the unclassified section released on October 8):

“The President and the American people were poorly served by the Administration officials who rushed the green light decision without due deliberation, full information and an adequate consideration of the consequences.” (page 202)

“The Administration’s efforts to keep even senior US officials from seeing its ‘fingerprints’ on the green light policy led to confusion and disarray within the government.” (page 203)

“The Administration repeatedly deceived the American people about its Iranian green light policy.” (page 204)

Clinton, Lake, and Galbraith Responsible

While the final go-ahead for the green light was given by President Clinton — who is ultimately accountable for the results of his decision — two Clinton Administration officials bear particular responsibility: Ambassador Galbraith and then-NSC Director Anthony Lake, against both of whom the House of Representatives has referred criminal charges to the Justice Department. Mr. Lake, who personally presented the proposal to Bill Clinton for approval, “played a central role in preventing the responsible congressional committees from knowing about the Administration’s fateful decision to acquiesce in radical Islamic Iran’s effort to penetrate the European continent through arms shipments and military cooperation with the Bosnian government.” [“‘In Lake We Trust’? Confirmation Make-Over Exacerbates Senate Concerns About D.C.I.-Designate’s Candor, Reliability,” Center for Security Policy, Washington, D.C., 1/8/97] His responsibility for the operation is certain to be a major hurdle in his effort to be confirmed as CIA Director: “The fact that Lake was one of the authors of the duplicitous policy in Bosnia, which is very controversial and which has probably helped strengthen the hand of the Iranians, doesn’t play well,” stated Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Shelby. [“Lake to be asked about donation,” Washington Times, 1/2/97]

For his part, Ambassador Galbraith was the key person both in conceiving the policy and in serving as the link between the Clinton Administration and the Croatian government; he also met with Imam Sevko Omerbasic, the top Muslim cleric in Croatia, “who the CIA says was an intermediary for Iran.” [“Fingerprints: Arms to Bosnia, the real story,” The New Republic, 10/28/96; see also LAT 12/23/96] As the House Subcommittee concluded (page 206): “There is evidence that Ambassador Galbraith may have engaged in activities that could be characterized as unauthorized covert action.” The Senate Committee (pages 19 and 20 of the report) was unable to agree on the specific legal issue of whether Galbraith’s actions constituted a “covert action” within the definition of section 503(e) of the National Security Act of 1947 (50 U.S.C. Sec. 413(e)), as amended, defined as “an activity or activities . . . to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United States Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly.”

The Militant Islamic Network

The House Subcommittee report also concluded (page 2): “The Administration’s Iranian green light policy gave Iran an unprecedented foothold in Europe and has recklessly endangered American lives and US strategic interests.” Further —

” . . . The Iranian presence and influence [in Bosnia] jumped radically in the months following the green light. Iranian elements infiltrated the Bosnian government and established close ties with the current leadership in Bosnia and the next generation of leaders. Iranian Revolutionary Guards accompanied Iranian weapons into Bosnia and soon were integrated in the Bosnian military structure from top to bottom as well as operating in independent units throughout Bosnia. The Iranian intelligence service [VEVAK] ran wild through the area developing intelligence networks, setting up terrorist support systems, recruiting terrorist ‘sleeper’ agents and agents of influence, and insinuating itself with the Bosnian political leadership to a remarkable degree. The Iranians effectively annexed large portions of the Bosnian security apparatus [known as the Agency for Information and Documentation (AID)] to act as their intelligence and terrorist surrogates. This extended to the point of jointly planning terrorist activities. The Iranian embassy became the largest in Bosnia and its officers were given unparalleled privileges and access at every level of the Bosnian government.” (page 201)

Not Just the Iranians

To understand how the Clinton green light would lead to this degree of Iranian influence, it is necessary to remember that the policy was adopted in the context of extensive and growing radical Islamic activity in Bosnia. That is, the Iranians and other Muslim militants had long been active in Bosnia; the American green light was an important political signal to both Sarajevo and the militants that the United States was unable or unwilling to present an obstacle to those activities — and, to a certain extent, was willing to cooperate with them. In short, the Clinton Administration’s policy of facilitating the delivery of arms to the Bosnian Muslims made it the de facto partner of an ongoing international network of governments and organizations pursuing their own agenda in Bosnia: the promotion of Islamic revolution in Europe. That network involves not only Iran but Brunei, Malaysia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan (a key ally of Iran), and Turkey, together with front groups supposedly pursuing humanitarian and cultural activities.

For example, one such group about which details have come to light is the Third World Relief Agency (TWRA), a Sudan-based, phoney humanitarian organization which has been a major link in the arms pipeline to Bosnia. [“How Bosnia’s Muslims Dodged Arms Embargo: Relief Agency Brokered Aid From Nations, Radical Groups,” Washington Post, 9/22/96; see also “Saudis Funded Weapons For Bosnia, Official Says: $300 Million Program Had U.S. ‘Stealth Cooperation’,” Washington Post, 2/2/96] TWRA is believed to be connected with such fixtures of the Islamic terror network as Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman (the convicted mastermind behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing) and Osama Binladen, a wealthy Saudi emigre believed to bankroll numerous militant groups. [WP, 9/22/96] (Sheik Rahman, a native of Egypt, is currently in prison in the United States; letter bombs addressed to targets in Washington and London, apparently from Alexandria, Egypt, are believed connected with his case. Binladen was a resident in Khartoum, Sudan, until last year; he is now believed to be in Afghanistan, “where he has issued statements calling for attacks on U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf.” [WP, 9/22/96])

The Clinton Administration’s “Hands-On” Help

The extent to which Clinton Administration officials, notably Ambassador Galbraith, knowingly or negligently, cooperated with the efforts of such front organizations is unclear. For example, according to one intelligence account seen by an unnamed U.S. official in the Balkans, “Galbraith ‘talked with representatives of Muslim countries on payment for arms that would be sent to Bosnia,’ . . . [T]he dollar amount mentioned in the report was $500 million-$800 million. The U.S. official said he also saw subsequent ‘operational reports’ in 1995 on almost weekly arms shipments of automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade launchers, anti-armor rockets and TOW missiles.” [TNR, 10/28/96] The United States played a disturbingly “hands-on” role, with, according to the Senate report (page 19), U.S. government personnel twice conducting inspections in Croatia of missiles en route to Bosnia. Further —

“The U.S. decision to send personnel to Croatia to inspect rockets bound for Bosnia is . . . subject to varying interpretations. It may have been simply a straightforward effort to determine whether chemical weapons were being shipped into Bosnia. It was certainly, at least in part, an opportunity to examine a rocket in which the United States had some interest. But it may also have been designed to ensure that Croatia would not shut down the pipeline.” (page 21)

The account in The New Republic points sharply to the latter explanation: “Enraged at Iran’s apparent attempt to slip super weapons past Croat monitors, the Croatian defense minister nonetheless sent the missiles on to Bosnia ‘just as Peter [i.e., Ambassador Galbraith] told us to do,’ sources familiar with the episode said.” [TNR, 10/28/96] In short, the Clinton Administration’s connection with the various players that made up the arms network seems to have been direct and intimate.

The Mujahedin Threat

In addition to (and working closely with) the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and VEVAK intelligence are members of numerous radical groups known for their anti-Western orientation, along with thousands of volunteermujahedin (“holy warriors”) from across the Islamic world. From the beginning of the NATO-led deployment, the Clinton Administration has given insufficient weight to military concerns regarding the mujahedinpresence in Bosnia as well as the danger they pose to American personnel. Many of the fighters are concentrated in the so-called “green triangle” (the color green symbolizes Islam) centered on the town of Zenica in the American IFOR/SFOR zone but are also found throughout the country.

The Clinton Administration has been willing to accept Sarajevo’s transparently false assurances of the departure of the foreign fighters based on the contention that they have married Bosnian women and have acquired Bosnian citizenship — and thus are no longer “foreign”! — or, having left overt military units to join “humanitarian,” “cultural,” or “charitable” organizations, are no longer “fighters.” [See “Foreign Muslims Fighting in Bosnia Considered ‘Threat’ to U.S. Troops,” Washington Post, 11/30/95; “Outsiders Bring Islamic Fervor To the Balkans,” New York Times, 9/23/96; “Islamic Alien Fighters Settle in Bosnia,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 9/23/96; “Mujahideen rule Bosnian villages: Threaten NATO forces, non-Muslims,” Washington Times, 9/23/96; and Yossef Bodansky, Offensive in the Balkans (November 1995) and Some Call It Peace (August 1996), International Media Corporation, Ltd., London. Bodansky, an analyst with the House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, is an internationally recognized authority on Islamic terrorism.] The methods employed to qualify for Bosnian citizenship are themselves problematic: “Islamic militants from Iran and other foreign countries are employing techniques such as forced marriages, kidnappings and the occupation of apartments and houses to remain in Bosnia in violation of the Dayton peace accord and may be a threat to U.S. forces.” [“Mujaheddin Remaining in Bosnia: Islamic Militants Strongarm Civilians, Defy Dayton Plan,” Washington Post, 7/8/96]

The threat presented by the mujahedin to IFOR (and now, to SFOR) — contingent only upon the precise time their commanders in Tehran or Sarajevo should choose to activate them — has been evident from the beginning of the NATO-led deployment. For example, in February 1996 NATO forces raided a terrorist training camp near the town of Fojnica, taking into custody 11 men (8 Bosnian citizens — two of whom may have been naturalized foreign mujahedin — and three Iranian instructors); also seized were explosives “built into small children’s plastic toys, including a car, a helicopter and an ice cream cone,” plus other weapons such as handguns, sniper rifles, grenade launchers, etc. The Sarajevo government denounced the raid, claiming the facility was an “intelligence service school”; the detainees were released promptly after NATO turned them over to local authorities. [“NATO Captures Terrorist Training Camp, Claims Iranian Involvement,” Associated Press, 2/16/96; “Bosnian government denies camp was for terrorists,” Reuters, 2/16/96; Bodansky Some Call It Peace, page 56] In May 1996, a previously unknown group called “Bosnian Islamic Jihad” (jihad means “holy war”) threatened attacks on NATO troops by suicide bombers, similar to those that had recently been launched in Israel. [“Jihad Threat in Bosnia Alarms NATO,” The European, 5/9/96]

Stepping-Stone to Europe

The intended targets of the mujahedin network in Bosnia are not limited to that country but extend to Western Europe. For example, in August 1995, the conservative Paris daily Le Figaro reported that French security services believe that “Islamic fundamentalists from Algeria have set up a security network across Europe with fighters trained in Afghan guerrilla camps and [in] southern France while some have been tested in Bosnia.” [(London) Daily Telegraph, 8/17/95] Also, in April 1996, Belgian security arrested a number of Islamic militants, including two native Bosnians, smuggling weapons to Algerian guerrillas active in France. [Intelligence Newsletter, Paris, 5/9/96 (No. 287)] Finally, also in April 1996, a meeting of radicals aligned with HizbAllah (“Party of God”), a pro-Iran group based in Lebanon, set plans for stepping up attacks on U.S. assets on all continents; among those participating was an Egyptian, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who “runs the Islamist terrorist operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina from a special headquarters in Sofia, Bulgaria. His forces are already deployed throughout Bosnia, ready to attack US and other I-FOR (NATO Implementation Force) targets.” [“State-Sponsored Terrorism and The Rise of the HizbAllah International,” Defense and Foreign Affairs and Strategic Policy, London, 8/31/96] Finally, in December 1996, French and Belgian security arrested several would-be terrorists trained at Iranian-run camps in Bosnia. [“Terrorism: The Bosnian Connection,” (Paris)L’Express, 12/26/96]

The Radical Islamic Character of the Sarajevo Regime

Underlying the Clinton Administration’s misguided policy toward Iranian influence in Bosnia is a fundamental misreading of the true nature of the Muslim regime that benefitted from the Iran/Bosnia arms policy: “The most dubious of all Bosniac [i.e., Bosnian Muslim] claims pertains to the self-serving commercial that the government hopes to eventually establish a multiethnic liberal democratic society. Such ideals may appeal to a few members of Bosnia’s ruling circle as well as to a generally secular populace, but President Izetbegovic and his cabal appear to harbor much different private intentions and goals.” [“Selling the Bosnia Myth to America: Buyer Beware,” Lieutenant Colonel John E. Sray, USA, U.S. Army Foreign Military Studies Office, Fort Leavenworth, KS, October 1995]

The evidence that the leadership of the ruling Party of Democratic Action (SDA), and consequently, the Sarajevo-based government, has long been motivated by the principles of radical Islam is inescapable. The following three profiles are instructive:

Alija Izetbegovic: Alija Izetbegovic, current Bosnian president and head of the SDA, in 1970 authored the radical “Islamic Declaration,” which calls for “the Islamic movement” to start to take power as soon as it can overturn “the existing non-Muslim government . . . [and] build up a new Islamic one,” to destroy non-Islamic institutions (“There can be neither peace nor coexistence between the Islamic religion and non-Islamic social institutions”), and to create an international federation of Islamic states. [The Islamic Declaration: A Programme for the Islamization of Muslims and the Muslim Peoples, Sarajevo, in English, 1990] Izetbegovic’s radical pro-Iran associations go back decades: “At the center of the Iranian system in Europe is Bosnia-Hercegovina’s President, Alija Izetbegovic, . . . who is committed to the establishment of an Islamic Republic in Bosnia-Hercegovina.” [“Iran’s European Springboard?”, House Republican Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, 9/1/92] The Task Force report further describes Izetbegovic’s contacts with Iran and Libya in 1991, before the Bosnian war began; he is also noted as a “fundamentalist Muslim” and a member of the “Fedayeen of Islam” organization, an Iran-based radical group dating to the 1930s and which by the late 1960s had recognized the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini (then in exile from the Shah). Following Khomeini’s accession to power in 1979, Izetbegovic stepped-up his efforts to establish Islamic power in Bosnia and was jailed by the communists in 1983. Today, he is open and unapologetic about his links to Iran: “Perhaps the most telling detail of the [SDA’s September 1, 1996] campaign rally . . . was the presence of the Iranian Ambassador and his Bosnian and Iranian bodyguards, who sat in the shadow of the huge birchwood platform. . . . As the only foreign diplomat [present], indeed the only foreigner traveling in the President’s [i.e., Izetbegovic’s] heavily guarded motorcade of bulky four-wheel drive jeeps, he lent a silent Islamic imprimatur to the event, one that many American and European supporters of the Bosnian Government are trying hard to ignore or dismiss.” [NYT, 9/2/96] During the summer 1996 election campaign, the Iranians delivered to him, in two suitcases, $500,000 in cash; Izetbegovic “is now ‘literally on their [i.e., the Iranians’] payroll,’ according to a classified report based on the CIA’s analysis of the issue.” [LAT, 12/31/96. See also “Iran Contributed $500,000 to Bosnian President’s Election Effort, U.S. Says,” New York Times, 1/1/97, and Washington Times, 1/2/97] Adil Zulfikarpasic, a Muslim co-founder of the SDA, broke with Izetbegovic in late 1990 due to the increasingly overt fundamentalist and pro-Iranian direction of the party. [See Milovan Djilas, Bosnjak: Adil Zulfikarpasic, Zurich, 1994]

Hassan (or Hasan) Cengic: Until recently, deputy defense minister (and now cosmetically reassigned to a potentially even more dangerous job in refugee resettlement at the behest of the Clinton Administration), Cengic, a member of a powerful clan headed by his father, Halid Cengic, is an Islamic cleric who has traveled frequently to Tehran and is deeply involved in the arms pipeline. [“Bosnian Officials Involved in Arms Trade Tied to Radical States,” Washington Post, 9/22/96] Cengic was identified by Austrian police as a member of TWRA’s supervisory board, “a fact confirmed by its Sudanese director, Elfatih Hassanein, in a 1994 interview with Gazi Husrev Beg, an Islamic affairs magazine. Cengic later became the key Bosnian official involved in setting up a weapons pipeline from Iran. . . . Cengic . . . is a longtime associate of Izetbegovic’s. He was one of the co-defendants in Izetbegovic’s 1983 trial for fomenting Muslim nationalism in what was then Yugoslavia. Cengic was given a 10-year prison term, most of which he did not serve. In trial testimony Cengic was said to have been traveling to Iran since 1983. Cengic lived in Tehran and Istanbul during much of the war, arranging for weapons to be smuggled into Bosnia.” [WP, 9/22/96] According to a Bosnian Croat radio profile: “Hasan’s father, Halid Cengic . . . is the main logistic expert in the Muslim army. All petrodollar donations from the Islamic world and the procurement of arms and military technology for Muslim units went through him. He made so much money out of this business that he is one of the richest Muslims today. Halid Cengic and his two sons, of whom Hasan has been more in the public spotlight, also control the Islamic wing of the intelligence agency AID [Agency for Information and Documentation]. Well informed sources in Sarajevo claim that only Hasan addresses Izetbegovic with ‘ti’ [second person singular, used as an informal form of address] while all the others address him as ‘Mr. President,'” a sign of his extraordinary degree of intimacy with the president. [BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, 10/28/96, “Radio elaborates on Iranian connection of Bosnian deputy defense minister,” from Croat Radio Herceg-Bosna, Mostar, in Serbo-Croatian, 10/25/96, bracketed text in original] In late 1996, at the insistence of the Clinton Administration, Hassan Cengic was reassigned to refugee affairs. However, in his new capacity he may present an even greater hazard to NATO forces in Bosnia, in light of past incidents such as the one that took place near the village of Celic in November 1996. At that time, in what NATO officers called part of a pattern of “military operations in disguise,” American and Russian IFOR troops were caught between Muslims and Serbs as the Muslims, some of them armed, attempted to encroach on the cease-fire line established by Dayton; commented a NATO spokesman: “We believe this to be a deliberate, orchestrated and provocative move to circumvent established procedures for the return of refugees.” [“Gunfire Erupts as Muslims Return Home,” Washington Post, 11/13/96]

Dzemal Merdan: “The office of Brig. Gen. Dzemal Merdan is an ornate affair, equipped with an elaborately carved wooden gazebo ringed with red velvet couches and slippers for his guests. A sheepskin prayer mat lies in the corner, pointing toward Mecca. The most striking thing in the chamber is a large flag. It is not the flag of Bosnia, but of Iran. Pinned with a button of the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s late Islamic leader, the flag occupies pride of place in Merdan’s digs — displayed in the middle of the gazebo for every visitor to see. Next to it hangs another pennant, that of the Democratic Action Party, the increasingly nationalist Islamic organization of President Alija Izetbegovic that dominates Bosnia’s Muslim region. . . . Merdan’s position highlights the American dilemma. As head of the office of training and development of the Bosnian army, he is a key liaison figure in the U.S. [arm and train] program. . . . But Merdan, Western sources say, also has another job — as liaison with foreign Islamic fighters here since 1992 and promoter of the Islamic faith among Bosnia’s recruits. Sources identified Merdan as being instrumental in the creation of a brigade of Bosnian soldiers, called the 7th Muslim Brigade, that is heavily influenced by Islam and trained by fighters from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He has also launched a program, these sources say, to build mosques on military training grounds to teach Islam to Bosnian recruits. In addition, he helped establish training camps in Bosnia where Revolutionary Guards carried out their work.” [“Arming the Bosnians: U.S. Program Would Aid Force Increasingly Linked to Iran,” Washington Post, 1/26/96, emphasis added] General Merdan is a close associate of both Izetbegovic and Cengic; the central region around Zenica, which was “completely militarized in the first two years of the war” under the control of Merdan’s mujahedin, is “under total control of the Cengic family.” [“Who Rules Bosnia and Which Way,” (Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 11/17/96, FBIS translation; Slobodna Bosna is one of the few publications in Muslim-held areas that dares to criticize the policies and personal corruption of the ruling SDA clique.] Merdan’s mujahedin were accused by their erstwhile Croat allies of massacring more than 100 Croats near Zenica in late 1993. [“Bosnian Croats vow to probe war crimes by Moslems,” Agence France Presse, 5/12/95]

The Islamization of the Bosnian Army

In cooperation with the foreign Islamic presence, the Izetbegovic regime has revamped its security and military apparatus to reflect its Islamic revolutionary outlook, including the creation of mujahedin units throughout the army; some members of these units have assumed the guise of a shaheed (a “martyr,” the Arabic term commonly used to describe suicide bombers), marked by their white garb, representing a shroud. While these units include foreign fighters naturalized in Bosnia, most of the personnel are now Bosnian Muslims trained and indoctrinated by Iranian and other foreign militants — which also makes it easier for the Clinton Administration to minimize the mujahedin threat, because few of them are “foreigners.”

Prior to 1996, there were three principal mujahedin units in the Bosnian army, the first two of which are headquartered in the American IFOR/SFOR zone: (1) the 7th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 3rd Corps, headquartered in Zenica; (2) the 9th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 2nd Corps, headquartered in Travnik (the 2nd Corps is based in Tuzla); and (3) the 4th Muslim Liberation Brigade of the 4th Corps, headquartered in Konjic (in the French zone). [Bodansky, Some Call It Peace, page 40] Particularly ominous, many members of these units have donned the guise of martyrs, indicating their willingness to sacrifice themselves in the cause of Islam. Commenting on an appearance of soldiers from the 7th Liberation Brigade, in Zenica in December 1995, Bodansky writes: “Many of the fighters . . . were dressed in white coveralls over their uniforms. Officially, these were ‘white winter camouflage,’ but the green headbands [bearing Koranic verses] these warriors were wearing left no doubt that these were actually Shaheeds’ shrouds.” [Some Call It Peace, page 12] The same demonstration was staged before the admiring Iranian ambassador and President Izetbegovic in September 1996, when white winter garb could only be symbolic, not functional. [NYT, 9/2/96] By June 1996, ten more mujahedin brigades had been established, along with numerous smaller “special units” dedicated to covert and terrorist operations; while foreigners are present in all of these units, most of the soldiers are now native Bosnian Muslims. [Some Call It Peace, pages 42-46]

In addition to these units, there exists another group known as the Handzar (“dagger” or “scimitar”) Division, described by Bodansky as a “praetorian guard” for President Izetbegovic. “Up to 6000-strong, the Handzar division glories in a fascist culture. They see themselves as the heirs of the SS Handzar division, formed by Bosnian Muslims in 1943 to fight for the Nazis. Their spiritual model was Mohammed Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who sided with Hitler. According to UN officers, surprisingly few of those in charge of the Handzars . . . seem to speak good Serbo-Croatian. ‘Many of them are Albanian, whether from Kosovo [the Serb province where Albanians are the majority] or from Albania itself.’ They are trained and led by veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan, say UN sources.” [“Albanians and Afghans fight for the heirs to Bosnia’s SS past,” (London) Daily Telegraph, 12/29/93, bracketed text in original]

Self-Inflicted Atrocities

Almost since the beginning of the Bosnian war in the spring of 1992, there have been persistent reports — readily found in the European media but little reported in the United States — that civilian deaths in Muslim-held Sarajevo attributed to the Bosnian Serb Army were in some cases actually inflicted by operatives of the Izetbegovic regime in an (ultimately successful) effort to secure American intervention on Sarajevo’s behalf. These allegations include instances of sniping at civilians as well as three major explosions, attributed to Serbian mortar fire, that claimed the lives of dozens of people and, in each case, resulted in the international community’s taking measures against the Muslims’ Serb enemies. (The three explosions were: (1) the May 27, 1992, “breadline massacre,” which was reported to have killed 16 people and which resulted in economic sanctions on the Bosnian Serbs and rump Yugoslavia; (2) the February 5, 1994, Markale “market massacre,” killing 68 and resulting in selective NATO air strikes and an ultimatum to the Serbs to withdraw their heavy weapons from the area near Sarajevo; and (3) the August 28, 1995 “second market massacre,” killing 37 and resulting in large-scale NATO air strikes, eventually leading to the Dayton agreement and the deployment of IFOR.) When she was asked about such allegations (with respect to the February 1994 explosion) then-U.N. Ambassador and current Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright, in a stunning non sequitur, said: “It’s very hard to believe any country would do this to their own people, and therefore, although we do not exactly know what the facts are, it would seem to us that the Serbs are the ones that probably have a great deal of responsibility.” [“Senior official admits to secret U.N. report on Sarajevo massacre,” Deutsch Presse-Agentur, 6/6/96, emphasis added]

The fact that such a contention is difficult to believe does not mean it is not true. Not only did the incidents lead to the result desired by Sarajevo (Western action against the Bosnian Serbs), their staging by the Muslims would be entirely in keeping with the moral outlook of Islamic radicalism, which has long accepted the deaths of innocent (including Muslim) bystanders killed in terrorist actions. According to a noted analyst: “The dictum that the end justifies the means is adopted by all fundamentalist organizations in their strategies for achieving political power and imposing on society their own view of Islam. What is important in every action is its niy’yah, its motive. No means need be spared in the service of Islam as long as one takes action with a pure niy’yah.” [Amir Taheri, Holy Terror, Bethesda, MD, 1987] With the evidence that the Sarajevo leadership does in fact have a fundamentalist outlook, it is unwarranted to dismiss cavalierly the possibility of Muslim responsibility. Among some of the reports:

Sniping: “French peacekeeping troops in the United Nations unit trying to curtail Bosnian Serb sniping at civilians in Sarajevo have concluded that until mid-June some gunfire also came from Government soldiers deliberately shooting at their own civilians. After what it called a ‘definitive’ investigation, a French marine unit that patrols against snipers said it traced sniper fire to a building normally occupied by Bosnian [i.e., Muslim] soldiers and other security forces. A senior French officer said, ‘We find it almost impossible to believe, but we are sure that it is true.'” [“Investigation Concludes Bosnian Government Snipers Shot at Civilians,” New York Times, 8/1/95]

The 1992 “Breadline Massacre”: “United Nations officials and senior Western military officers believe some of the worst killings in Sarajevo, including the massacre of at least 16 people in a bread queue, were carried out by the city’s mainly Muslim defenders — not Serb besiegers — as a propaganda ploy to win world sympathy and military intervention. . . . Classified reports to the UN force commander, General Satish Nambiar, concluded . . . that Bosnian forces loyal to President Alija Izetbegovic may have detonated a bomb. ‘We believe it was a command-detonated explosion, probably in a can,’ a UN official said then. ‘The large impact which is there now is not necessarily similar or anywhere near as large as we came to expect with a mortar round landing on a paved surface.” [“Muslims ‘slaughter their own people’,” (London) The Independent, 8/22/92] “Our people tell us there were a number of things that didn’t fit. The street had been blocked off just before the incident. Once the crowd was let in and had lined up, the media appeared but kept their distance. The attack took place, and the media were immediately on the scene.” [Major General Lewis MacKenzie, Peacekeeper: The Road to Sarajevo, Vancouver, BC, 1993, pages 193-4; Gen. MacKenzie, a Canadian, had been commander of the U.N. peacekeeping force in Sarajevo.]

The 1994 Markale “Market Massacre”: “French television reported last night that the United Nations investigation into the market-place bombing in Sarajevo two weeks ago had established beyond doubt that the mortar shell that killed 68 people was fired from inside Bosnian [Muslim] lines.” [“UN tracks source of fatal shell,” (London) The Times, 2/19/94] “For the first time, a senior U.N. official has admitted the existence of a secret U.N. report that blames the Bosnian Moslems for the February 1994 massacre of Moslems at a Sarajevo market. . . . After studying the crater left by the mortar shell and the distribution of shrapnel, the report concluded that the shell was fired from behind Moslem lines.” The report, however, was kept secret; the context of the wire story implies that U.S. Ambasador Albright may have been involved in its suppression. [DPA, 6/6/96] For a fuller discussion of the conflicting claims, see “Anatomy of a massacre,” Foreign Policy, 12/22/94, by David Binder; Binder, a veteran New York Times reporter in Yugoslavia, had access to the suppressed report. Bodansky categorically states that the bomb “was actually a special charge designed and built with help from HizbAllah [“Party of God,” a Beirut-based pro-Iranian terror group] experts and then most likely dropped from a nearby rooftop onto the crowd of shoppers. Video cameras at the ready recorded this expertly-staged spectacle of gore, while dozens of corpses of Bosnian Muslim troops killed in action (exchanged the day before in a ‘body swap’ with the Serbs) were paraded in front of cameras to raise the casualty counts.” [Offensive in the Balkans, page 62]

The 1995 “Second Market Massacre”: “British ammunition experts serving with the United Nations in Sarajevo have challenged key ‘evidence’ of the Serbian atrocity that triggered the devastating Nato bombing campaign which turned the tide of the Bosnian war.” The Britons’ analysis was confirmed by French analysts but their findings were “dismissed” by “a senior American officer” at U.N. headquarters in Sarajevo. [“Serbs ‘not guilty’ of massacre: Experts warned US that mortar was Bosnian,” (London) The Times, 10/1/95] A “crucial U.N. report [stating Serb responsibility for] the market massacre is a classified secret, but four specialists — a Russian, a Canadian and two Americans — have raised serious doubts about its conclusion, suggesting instead that the mortar was fired not by the Serbs but by Bosnian government forces.” A Canadian officer “added that he and fellow Canadian officers in Bosnia were ‘convinced that the Muslim government dropped both the February 5, 1994, and the August 28, 1995, mortar shells on the Sarajevo markets.'” An unidentified U.S. official “contends that the available evidence suggests either ‘the shell was fired at a very low trajectory, which means a range of a few hundred yards — therefore under [Sarajevo] government control,’ or ‘a mortar shell converted into a bomb was dropped from a nearby roof into the crowd.'” [“Bosnia’s bombers,” The Nation, 10/2/95]. At least some high-ranking French and perhaps other Western officials believed the Muslims responsible; after having received that account from government ministers and two generals, French magazine editor Jean Daniel put the question directly to Prime Minister Edouard Balladur: “‘They [i.e., the Muslims] have committed this carnage on their own people?’ I exclaimed in consternation. ‘Yes,’ confirmed the Prime Minister without hesitation, ‘but at least they have forced NATO to intervene.'” [“No more lies about Bosnia,”Le Nouvel Observateur, 8/31/95, translated in Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, January 1997]

Suppression of Enemies

As might be expected, one manifestation of the radical Islamic orientation of the Izetbegovic government is increasing curtailment of the freedoms of the remaining non-Muslims (Croats and Serbs) in the Muslim-held zone. While there are similar pressures on minorities in the Serb- and Croat-held parts of Bosnia, in the Muslim zone they have a distinct Islamic flavor. For example, during the 1996-1997 Christmas and New Year holiday season, Muslim militants attempted to intimidate not only Muslims but Christians from engaging in what had become common holiday practices, such as gift-giving, putting up Christmas or New Year’s trees, and playing the local Santa Claus figure, Grandfather Frost (Deda Mraz). [“The Holiday, All Wrapped Up; Bosnian Muslims Take Sides Over Santa,” Washington Post, 12/26/96] In general:

“Even in Sarajevo itself, always portrayed as the most prominent multi-national community in Bosnia, pressure, both psychological and real, is impelling non-Bosniaks [i.e., non-Muslims] to leave. Some measures are indirect, such as attempts to ban the sale of pork and the growing predominance of [Bosniak] street names. Other measures are deliberate efforts to apply pressure. Examples include various means to make non-Bosniaks leave the city. Similar pressures, often with more violent expression and occasionally with overt official participation, are being used throughout Bosnia.” [“Bosnia’s Security and U.S. Policy in the Next Phase: A Policy Paper, International Research and Exchanges Board, November 1996]

In addition, President Izetbegovic’s party, the SDA, has launched politically-motivated attacks on moderate Muslims both within the SDA and in rival parties. For example, in the summer of 1996 former Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic, (a Muslim, and son of the former imam at the main Sarajevo mosque) was set upon and beaten by SDA militants. Silajdzic claimed Izetbegovic himself was behind the attacks. [NYT, 9/2/96] Irfan Mustafic, a Muslim who co-founded the SDA, is a member of the Bosnian parliament and was president of the SDA’s executive council in Srebrenica when it fell to Bosnian Serb forces; he was taken prisoner but later released. Because of several policy disagreements with Izetbegovic and his close associates, Mustafic was shot and seriously wounded in Srebrenica by Izetbegovic loyalists. [(Sarajevo) Slobodna Bosna, 7/14/96] Finally, one incident sums up both the ruthlessness of the Sarajevo establishment in dealing with their enemies as well as their international radical links:

“A special Bosnian army unit headed by Bakir Izetbegovic, the Bosnian president’s son, murdered a Bosnian general found shot to death in Belgium last week, a Croatian newspaper reported . . . citing well-informed sources. The Vjesnik newspaper, controlled by the government, said the assassination of Yusuf Prazina was carried out by five members of a commando unit called ‘Delta’ and headed by Ismet Bajramovic also known as Celo. The paper said that three members of the Syrian-backed Palestinian movement Saika had Prazina under surveillance for three weeks before one of them, acting as an arms dealer, lured him into a trap in a car park along the main highway between Liege in eastern Belgium and the German border town of Aachen. Prazina, 30, nicknamed Yuka, went missing early last month. He was found Saturday with two bullet holes to the head. ‘The necessary logistical means to carry out the operation were provided by Bakir Izetbegovic, son of Alija Izetbegovic, who left Sarajevo more than six months ago,’ Vjesnik said. It added that Bakir Izetbegovic ‘often travels between Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Baghdad, Tehran and Ankara, by using Iraqi and Pakistani passports,’ and was in Belgium at the time of the assassination. Hasan Cengic, head of logistics for the army in Bosnia-Hercegovina, was ‘personally involved in the assassination of Yuka Prazina,’ the paper said.” [Agence France Presse, 1/5/94]


The Clinton Administration’s blunder in giving the green light to the Iranian arms pipeline was based, among other errors, on a gross misreading of the true nature and goals of the Izetbegovic regime in Sarajevo. It calls to mind the similar mistake of the Carter Administration, which in 1979 began lavish aid to the new Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the hopes that (if the United States were friendly enough) the nine comandanteswould turn out to be democrats, not communists, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. By the time the Reagan Administration finally cut off the dollar spigot in 1981, the comandantes — or the “nine little Castros,” as they were known locally — had fully entrenched themselves in power.

To state that the Clinton Administration erred in facilitating the penetration of the Iranians and other radical elements into Europe would be a breathtaking understatement. A thorough reexamination of U.S. policy and goals in the region is essential. In particular, addressing the immediate threat to U.S. troops in Bosnia, exacerbated by the extention of the IFOR/SFOR mission, should be a major priority of the 105th Congress.

Israeli West Bank Annexation Bill

Israeli West Bank Annexation Bill

By Stephen Lendman

Palestinians petitioned the UN for sovereign recognition and full UN membership.

Four extremist MKs responded, calling for West Bank settlements annexed. A previous article explained, accessed through the following link:

MK Deputy Speaker Danny Danon wants more.

On September 27, the JTA Global News Service of the Jewish People headlined, “Knesset to vote on annexing the West Bank,” saying:

On September 27, Danon said the Knesset will “take up the bill, which he authored, at the end of October.”

It includes rescinding Israeli/PA financial obligations established by prior agreements. According to Danon:

“If the Palestinian Authority wishes to proceed on this reckless path and bring further instability to the region, Israel cannot continue to pour funds into this sinking ship of failed leadership.”

“The funding agreements with the PA were reached with the hope that their leaders would work to create an environment of lasting peace and security with Israel. Given that it is clear that the Palestinians have no such desire, Israel must no longer be required to stand by these arrangements.”

Palestinians, of course, want and deserve what Israel denied them for 63 years after stealing their homeland violently. Using long ago discredited arguments, Danon and others like him think Israel has a divine right to their land.

Growing millions globally disagree, including Israeli Jews and others everywhere able to distinguished between right and wrong.

Danon said his bill nullifies Oslo, stating:

“All obligations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as established by international agreements….will be considered null and void.”

Oslo, of course, was a Palestinian Versailles, benefitting Israel, not them. Sovereign recognition and full UN membership are first steps to reversing unilateral surrender.

Representative Joe Walsh (R. IL) is as hardline as Danon. On September 8, he introduced HR 394:

“Supporting Israel’s right to annex Judea and Samaria (the West Bank and Jerusalem) in the event that the Palestinian Authority continues to press for unilateral recognition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations.”

He didn’t address if that would make them Israeli citizens, subhuman serfs to be exploited, or illegal infiltrators on Israeli land, subject to arbitrary expulsion.

Nor did consider what right he, others in Washington, or outsiders anywhere have to meddle in internal Palestinian affairs. America, of course, long ago refined it to an art form, attested to by mass global deaths, destruction and human misery.

Walsh also introduced HR 2457: Palestinian Accountability Act:

“To restrict funds for the Palestinian Authority, and for other purposes.”

In other words, obey or we’ll cut off your allowance. Coming with strings, it’s less aid than bondage to do what we say or we’ll spank you with more than harsh words.

On September 27, Turkish Prime Minister proposed a different solution than Walsh and hardline MKs. On September 27, Haaretz headlined, “Erdogan: UN sanctions on Israel could aid Mideast peace process,” saying:

Sanctions “would have resolved the issue of Mideast peace long ago….adding that he felt the Quartet(‘s)” proposal fell far short of resolving the longstanding Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Through today, he said, “the UN Security Council has issued more than 89 resolutions on prospective sanctions related to Israel, but they’ve never been executed….One might” ask why?

“When it’s Iran in question, you impose sanctions. Similarly with Sudan. What happens with Israel then.”

If sanctioned, the “conflict would have been resolved long ago.” As a result, he believes the Quartet has no interest in resolution. “Unfortunately, I do not even see (its) traces within the Quartet. Because if (it) was so willing to resolve this issue, (it) would have imposed certain issues on Israel today.”

Of course, strained Turkey/Israeli relations place both countries on opposite sides of various issues, including Palestinian statehood.

Despite the Quartet’s anti-Palestinian UN membership proposal, Haaretz headlined, “Israel’s cabinet fails to reach consensus on Quartet plan for talks with Palestinians,” saying:

Netanyahu “and the eight senior cabinet members were unable to (agree on) the Quartet’s initiative for renewed talks between Israel and the Palestinians.”

Despite Netanyahu’s support, consensus so far isn’t reached. Meanwhile, Security Council deliberations continue on and off behind closed doors.

Reports disagree on whether Palestinians have nine needed votes to force a US veto. Haaretz said UN sources say Washington has enough support to avoid a it.

EU representatives acted like Joe Walsh to a degree, telling PA officials they risk losing European aid by acting “unilaterally.”

On September 28, Haaretz headlined, “Palestinian statehood bid to be reviewed by UN committee,” saying:

On Wednesday, the Security Council “unanimously agreed to hand the Palestinian application to join the United Nations to a committee” for review.

Normally, it takes “a maximum of 35 days, but Western diplomats say that this limit can be waived and might take much longer….”

In other words, delay, obstruct, and consign Palestinian membership to memory hole oblivion. It’s simple to get around it through the General Assembly, whether or not the Security Council provides support.

It recommends. The General Assembly alone admits new members provided Abbas goes that route properly.

A Final Comment

Palestinians have always been on their own since Britain’s 1917 Balfour Declaration, promising a Jewish homeland in Palestine. It included a hollow one to indigenous Palestinians that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities.”

During its Mandate period, they were systematically denied until losing them in 1948, then entirely in 1967. Israel was born in the original sin of mass slaughter and forced expulsion of 800,000 Palestinians, wanting only to live in peace on their own land.

With full backing from Washington and Western states, Palestinians never got justice. Israel operates outside the law with impunity. Peace process conflict resolution never existed and doesn’t now.

Palestinians understand and want official sovereign recognition and full UN membership. In 1987, Law Professor Francis Boyle drafted its 1988 Declaration of Independence.

Through the 1950 Uniting for Peace Resolution 377, full UN membership is obtainable if Abbas and Prime Minister Fayyad want it. A simple two-thirds General Assembly majority gets it.

On the Progressive Radio News Hour to air October 2, Boyle said the 170 nations support it, according to the Financial Times. If all 193 UN members vote, 129 are needed.

According to Boyle, if Abbas petitions the General Assembly under Resolution 377, full UN membership can be gotten in two weeks, making Palestine the body’s 194th member.

Despite enormous Washington/Israeli pressure to back down, what Palestinians have wanted for 63 years is within easy reach. It’s for Abbas and Fayyad now to follow through for them.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Karzai trapped in no-man’s land

Karzai trapped in no-man’s land

By M K Bhadrakumar

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has made his first political move a week after the assassination of the head of the Afghan High Peace Council and former president, Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Following a meeting in Kabul that included tribal elders, legislative chairmen, cabinet ministers, former mujahideen commanders and his two vice presidents, Karzai’s office issued a statement on Wednesday admitting that a question mark should be on the Taliban’s capacity to take independent decisions, implying they were merely a Pakistani proxy.

The statement suggested that Karzai no more regards the Taliban as his errant “brothers”, which used to be his preferred epithet to describe the insurgents. “During our three-year efforts for peace, the Taliban has martyred our religious ulema, tribal elders, women, children, old and young. By killing Rabbani, they showed they are not able to take decisions. Now, the question is [whether we should seek] peace with whom, which people?”

Karzai’s retraction
It is a belated confession by Karzai, necessitated by the force of circumstances, as he gropes for a way forward. Conceivably, it need not be taken as the final word. Karzai is grandstanding. Rabbani’s departure has left Karzai stranded in a no-man’s land where he stands all by himself – derided by the Taliban, disowned by the United States and despised by the many fuming detractors within the erstwhile Northern Alliance (NA) groups whom he sidelined and kept out of office.

Karzai has been one of the first and consistent advocates of peace talks with the Taliban. His speech at the London conference in January 2010 bears eloquent testimony to Karzai’s deep-rooted conviction that Taliban are a part of the Afghan nation and should be allowed to participate in mainstream Afghan life. Many countries were not convinced that was the case but still went along since it was Karzai’s Afghan initiative (backed robustly, of course by Richard Holbrooke, the late US special representative for AfPak).

By Karzai’s own admission, Rabbani’s assassination puts a question mark on his power of judgment. Which is an unfair self-indictment because he was fundamentally right in his judgment that the war was not getting anywhere and only through a political settlement with the Taliban can it be brought to an end.

His bete noir, Abdullah Abdullah, the former Afghan foreign minister and presidential candidate, has seized the moment and was in an incendiary mood this week. He said Taliban have “not demonstrated even one sign of interest in seriously coming to the table to discuss a political settlement … They think that using this strategy will allow them to gain power in Afghanistan.”

Abdullah is riding the wave of indignation among Rabbani’s followers. He knows it makes good politics to do some more Karzai-bashing when Washington is listening: “Day by day, the government is losing people’s support an trust. Government bodies like the police and military have not been developed, and there is no rule of law. So, this encourages the Taliban to continue terrorist attacks and bring harm to the people of Afghanistan.”

But what is the alternative that Abdullah would suggest? Karzai had sensed all along that there was widespread opposition to his peace plan among the non-Pashtun groups belonging to the erstwhile Northern Alliance, which Abdullah was tapping into for mounting a political challenge to his presidency. Karzai was wary about Abdullah’s channels to influential quarters in Washington.

Karzai’s trump cards were two. One, he had Rabbani with him. Karzai counted on him as a political bridge to the non-Pashtun constituencies as well as to the mujahideen. With Rabbani gone, he has a problem connecting with the anti-Taliban constituency in Afghanistan, leave alone bringing them on board a broad-based settlement.

The president’s other trump cards have been his two vice presidents, who are powerful satraps in the non-Pashtun political domain. One is Mohammed Fahim, the strongman from Panjshir who inherited Ahmed Shah Massoud’s war machine and the other is Karim Khalili, leader of the Hazara Shi’ites. Both have everything to lose in a Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.

Karzai has also been indulging in a delicate exercise in the past few years building bridges with the Pashtun tribes and carving out a base in the southern regions. He depended heavily on the ruthless skills of his half-brother Wali Karzai on this front, but his assassination in July of Kandahar’s mayor has thrown Karzai’s stratagem into shambles.

If the peace process had progressed, a new political dynamic would have emerged that strengthened Karzai, but with Wali and Rabbani removed from the scene, he is forced to gravitate toward the non-Pashtun camp, although it isn’t his natural constituency.

Peering into a bottomless pit 
Ideally, this is a moment when the Americans should raise his comfort level. On the contrary, they are looking away and are consumed by their own problems. The latest United Nations Report on secretary general Ban Ki-Moon’s desk says Afghanistan is witnessing “considerable political volatility and disconcerting levels of insecurity”.

Former commander of US forces in Afghanistan David Petraeus’ claims regarding the encouraging results of the US’s surge seem an obfuscation of the harsh ground reality. The UN report says there has been a 40% increase in the monthly average number of “security incidents” in the first eight months of 2011 as compared to the same period last year.

More important, it says the southeastern region which was the theatre for Petraeus’ surge remains the “focus of military activity” accounting for two-thirds of all violent incidents, and that even where the US handed over responsibility for security to the Afghan forces, a “resilient insurgency” is challenging the efficacy of the transition.

On top of this, the US is barely coping with Pakistan’s blunt refusal to act against the Haqqani network. The standoff can turn into a confrontation any day from now if the US decides to put the Haqqanis on the list of terrorists.

Chairman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee Dianne Feinstein has written to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that on the basis of the testimony given by the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee Mike Mullen, the Haqqani group “meets the standards for designation” as a terrorist organization. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has agreed with Mullen’s testimony.

In such a scenario, logically, the US would have to consider at some stage declaring Pakistan as a state sponsoring terrorism, putting at risk the entire future of the “war on terror”.

Put plainly, the US-Pakistan relationship is peering into a bottomless pit. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani was not far off the mark in his remark that the US’s Afghan policy shows “confusion and policy disarray”.

At such a juncture, where is the time or inclination for the Barack Obama administration to come to Karzai’s rescue? On the other hand, Washington is resorting to blame game accusing Karzai’s government for ineptitude and corruption and as responsible for all that is going wrong.

The biggest danger in Karzai’s gravitation to the NA camp is that it would exacerbate ethnic polarization in Afghanistan. The strengthening of the NA hold on the power structure in Kabul at this juncture virtually forecloses any scope for reconciliation with the Taliban.

As the US drawdown accelerates through the coming months, Karzai will face the dilemma of having to depend more and more on the military muscle of the NA groups. That would be a recipe for another round of civil war.

Regional politics is bound to play a decisive role in what lies ahead. Karzai understands that Pakistan is central to any peace process with the Taliban. He already met Gilani last Thursday when the Pakistani prime minister traveled to Kabul. Gilani is expected in Kabul again in early October.

Pakistan can be expected to do all it can to kickstart another round of peace process. Its interest lies in preventing Karzai becoming a prisoner of the anti-Taliban NA groups, which is to say to prevent a return of the NA’s dominance of the Kabul government. But in the present political climate in Kabul, the task of finding another consensus candidate to replace Rabbani will not be easy.

Meanwhile, Karzai is heading for New Delhi next week, his first visit abroad after Rabbani’s assassination. It is a scheduled visit apparently for delivering a memorial lecture in New Delhi on regional politics, but Karzai would seek India’s support with the expectation that it might give him leverage vis-a-vis Pakistan in the coming period and it has a degree of influence with the NA groups. India, however, would prefer to stand on the sidelines and it remains wary of another civil war in Afghanistan.

India’s warnings of the shape of things to come are indeed coming true but this is hardly the moment for self-gratification. Delhi is exasperated with the inconsistencies and disarray in the US’s policies. The aggravation of the US-Pakistan rift may appear to work to India’s advantage but on the contrary, there is a sense of disquiet in Delhi over the talk of possible military strikes against Pakistan.

The point is, the result of any such US incursions into Pakistan cannot be far different from what happened in Cambodia following the US invasion in April 1970 – namely, a radicalization of the entire region. Just as the Cambodian incursion couldn’t salvage the Vietnam War, in the present case, too, staving off defeat in Afghanistan is going to be very difficult for the US.

All the same, Indian commentators have almost in unison pointed out that Rabbani’s assassination shows there has been hardly any change in the Taliban’s mindset, which militates against the idea of any from of power sharing with other Afghan groups.

Having said that, New Delhi is also keen to build on the current atmosphere of cordiality with Pakistan and encourage Islamabad to draw a line under cross-border terrorist activities. The standoff with the US, ironically, may make Islamabad more receptive to Indian concerns. Karzai will receive renewed assurances of Indian support during his visit next week, but on balance India will not allow itself to be sucked into the Afghan endgame.

Fatal mistake 
The point is, Karzai’s predicament is also the manifestation of a much bigger crisis that is enveloping Afghanistan. The Afghan body polity is virtually crumbling and the US neither has the energy nor the resources and the will to fortify the Afghan state when such support is needed more than ever in the past decade.

The meltdown leading to a civil war can be rapid if the ethnic rift widens in the coming period. The signs are not good in this regard. Rabbani’s assassination has torn asunder the fragile crust that was forming on the ethnic divides in the country. Karzai’s dependence on the “warlords” of the NA will set the clock back in Afghan politics. Parliament is already at a standstill. There is great political uncertainty. Abdullah was echoing a widely held perception among the Afghan politicians when he said that Rabbani’s is not going to be the last political assassination.

But overarching all this is the disintegration of the US’s alliance with Pakistan. The US needs to grasp that it has no alternative but to concede Pakistan’s legitimate interests in Afghanistan. Pakistan is not going to blink since it has high stakes on the Afghan chessboard and Washington is nobody to dictate how to frame its interests.

Any US incursion into Pakistan is sure to bring forth a furious backlash that will dwarf the Beirut Barracks Bombing in October 1983, which killed 241 American servicemen. And that will be the end of the Obama presidency. Make no mistake about it.

The only course available for the US is to rein in the irreconcilable NA elements (many of whom were foolishly propped up by the US as the “anti-thesis” to Karzai and have no standing of their own) and allow Karzai and his Pakistani interlocutors to kickstart another effort within the framework of the Afghan-Pakistan peace process.

It should allow Karzai to select his own nominee to replace Rabbani with whom he can work closely – and whom Pakistan is comfortable with. That should be the first necessary step in the coming days. A vacuum should not be allowed to develop.

Equally, there should be a change of heart on the part of the US and its North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies; they should not interfere with the intra-Afghan peace process. Despite whatever inadequacies he may have, Karzai is still the most credible figure to lead the Kabul set up in the peace process.

Again, he deserves to be given more space to do the sort of Afghan-style networking that he is good at, and create his own coalition and establish his credibility with the Taliban. This is simply not the time to apply Western norms of politics. Simply put, there has been far too much US interference.

The US and NATO’s attempt to establish a parallel track of their own has been at the root of the discord between Washington and Islamabad. If and when the veil lifts on Rabbani’s assassination, it is more than probable that his recent proximity with the US turned out to be the ultimate fatal mistake on the part of this extraordinary politician, which cost him his life.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. His assignments included the Soviet Union, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Germany, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kuwait and Turkey.

The Privatization of Angst-Creating Operations Is An Extroardinaryly Efficient Business Model

Transforming Peace

The Future of European Cultural Stability

By Boris Beauregard

The future of European stability will bring on new ways of omni-directional peace missions defending elite interests through psychological operations based on a security culture of privatization, internalization and economization. To meet these challenges in transforming European peace operations and to face the new strategic options and risk potentials of a globalized world we have to learn from the grand maneuvers of the past.

In March 1961 JF Kennedy stated to US congress “The free world’s security can be endangered not only by nuclear attack, but by being nibbled away at the periphery… by forces of subversion, infiltration intimidation, indirect non-overt aggression, internal revolution, diplomatic blackmail, guerilla warfare or a series of limited wars”. While the game-theoretical drama of nuclear MAD (mutually assured destruction) was at the forefront, it was the hidden wars that truly signified the cold war era: the invisible battle zones on both sides of the iron curtain. By the end of the Second World War secret stay-behind armies are formed on the experiences and strategies of special operations units and the Western Union Clandestine Committee (WUCC) were created to coordinate secret unorthodox warfare. After the founding of NATO it is integrated into the military alliance under the name ‘Clandestine Planning Committee’ (CPC). By 1958 the NATO sets up the Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) to coordinate undisclosed warfare, later hidden within the Belgian military secret service SGR with its headquarters next to NATO under the code name SDRA11. Underground armies and black programs worked under code-names like SDRA8 in Belgium, Absalon in Denmark, TD BDJ in Germany, LOK in Greece, Gladio in Italy, I&O in the Netherlands, ROC in Norway, Aginter in Portugal, P26 in Switzerland, Counter-Guerrilla in Turkey, and OWSGV in Austria, jointly laying the foundations of a tradition of black sites and outsourcing operations beyond national borders.

What was at first sold as a fall back option, when a country is overrun by enemy forces, soon developed into invisible armies of internal subversion against democratic forces and egalitarian politics. Strategies of tension and a top-level campaign of political destabilization to stabilize power structures were financed from highly discrete state agencies, private sources and multinational firms. Based on hidden structures, training camps were set up to instruct mercenaries in covert action techniques including hands-on bomb campaigns, silent assassination, subversion and black propaganda techniques, clandestine communication, infiltration and colonial warfare. With the various elites of big business, landowners, church and geopolitical interests on one side and the have nots on the other, the battle lines were clearly drawn. Despite its undisputed successes over several decades the concept of clandestine stability operations needs to be adapted to a 21 Century setting of globalized information environments. Even with top secrecy, highest order “need to know” compartmentalization and the frequent physical neutralization of investigative journalists, judges or others, a large percentage of missions did not remain covert. Even without direct links to a state authority or military command structure, the beans were bound to spill. Where traditional approaches come in conflict with the principle of plausible deniability, privatization provides added layers of operational security and the private sector emerges as the future of invisible warfare and 21 century stability.

The historical achievements of the traditional secret forces in the European past were nonetheless impressive. Large leftist demonstrations against British interference in the post-war government in Athens are broken up by LOK, a secret stay-behind army in Greece, with many dead or wounded. Similarly secret operatives in Turkey and other European countries used their skills to attack domestic opponents and spark violent disorder. Some operations are intended to bring about right-wing military rule. The clandestine Hellenic Raiding Force successfully take control over the Greek Defence Ministry in 1967 and install a dictatorship, deep undercover armies supported the Turkish military to stage a coup d’état in 1960 and execute the Prime Minister. In 1971, the military takes power again and the stay-behind army Counter-Guerrilla engages in domestic terror eliminating hundreds. They open fire on a demonstration of 500,000 in Istanbul with 38 dead and countless wounded in1977, three years later the Counter-Guerrilla commander General Kenan Evren seizes power in a coup. In the following years the Counter-Guerrilla tortures and neutralizes thousands of Kurds, with the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) claiming more than 3,500 violent transgressions covered up only with partial success.

Italy’s secret army code-named Gladio drives a silent coup d’etat in 1964 and forces a group of Socialist Ministers to leave the government. In a trial thirty years later the Piazza Fontana incident 1969 in Milan with 16 casualties was exposed by General Giandelio Maletti, former head of Italian counterintelligence, as a Gladio operation to discredit the Italian left. A bomb killing three Carabinieri in 1972, again blamed on the left, is traced back to fascist guerilla which leads to exposure of Gladio. Former Prime Minister and DCI leader Aldo Moro, in 1978 about to form a coalition government that includes the Italian Communist Party, is taken hostage in Rome by a secret unit and executed after 55 days. Investigators trace a bomb exploding at the Bologna railway station in 1980 with 85 dead to these paramilitary networks and the P2 lodge. Official figures in a Gladio investigation in the period between January 1969 and December 1987, claim nearly 1500 acts of political violence in Italy’s most recent history with hundreds dead and many more injured. Documents on Gladio discovered by Judge Felice Casson in the military secret service archives in Rome in 1990 force Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to confirm the secret army’s existence. After Andreotti’s testimony, deep undercover armies are discovered all over Europe. On November 5th 1990, NATO categorically denies allegations concerning involvement in Operation Gladio and secret unorthodox warfare in Europe. On the next day NATO had to explain that the denial of the previous day had been false while refusing to answer any further questions in regard to the existence of an underground parallel intelligence and armed operations organization outside the law and without democratic controls. Later in the month the invisible army was also discussed by the European Union parliament. Various judicial inquiries evidenced serious cases of terrorism and crime. Lamenting the fact that such networks have been set up to interfere in the internal political affairs of Member States, Greek parliamentarian Ephremidis addressed the EU: “It has operated clandestinely, and we are entitled to attribute to it all the destabilization, all the provocation and all the terrorism that have occurred in our countries over these four decades.” With independent arsenals and military resources at their disposal the various “GLADIO” organizations have an indefinite strike potential on countries in which they operate and an EU parliament resolution sharply condemns the manipulation of European politics with the covert armies. When the Senate commission researching Gladio and the assassination of former Prime Minister Aldo Moro files a FOIA request with the CIA in 1995 it replies: “The CIA can neither confirm nor deny the existence or non-existence of records responsive to your request.” But the secret army had already been exposed by former agent Philip Agee in his 1987 book “Dirty Work: The CIA in Western Europe”, where he revealed that paramilitary groups linked to internal subversion operate throughout Europe.

As in Italy, the Belgian left was discredited by well-planned false flag operations carried out by Special Forces together with secret armies targeting, classical capitalist symbols with explosives. Fighting a psychological battle to keep motivation burning even at times of cold war peaceful coexistence, operators had to be kept alert with the help of imaginary dangers of a revolution circulating in the field. The alleged Communist terror group CCC (Cellules Communistes Combattantes) responsible for 27 attacks between October 1984 and fall 1985 had been set up by the network to create the impression that laid back Belgium was on the brink of a revolution. The secret army attacks and shoots shoppers randomly in the Brabant County in 1985 with 28 dead and many wounded. Investigations soon link it to the stay-behind SDRA8, the Belgian Gendarmerie SDRA6, the right-wing group WNP and the DIA. When the criminal police in the city of Frankfurt in Hessen unearth a German secret army BDJ-TD in 1952 the arrested Nazis are found not guilty. Massive connected arsenals of 33 underground arms caches discovered 1981 in the Luneburger Heide contained large amounts of state of the art combat equipment. Next to automatic weapons, massive chemical combat equipment, large amounts of munitions and artillery guns, tons of explosives and explosive devices as well as truck loads of hand grenades. An arsenal used in the previous year to carry out an attack on the Munich Oktoberfest with a dozen casualties and wounding hundreds. In Austria a first secret stay-behind by right-wing extremists is exposed in 1947 but pardoned by Chancellor Koerner. Another secret army codenamed Oesterreichischer Wander-Sport-und Geselligkeitsverein (OWSGV) was set up by MI6, CIA with locals like Franz Olah involved. With a couple of thousand people employed, and only a few in the know, he later confirmed that units were trained in weapons and plastic explosives to fight against leftists in the country. Police discover hidden stockpiles of arms in an old mine near Windisch-Bleiberg in 1965 and force British authorities to hand over lists of other locations. After more top secret arms caches had been brought to light in early 1996, the Austrian Interior Ministry investigation under Michael Sika declared in its final report in November 28 of the following year “that there can be no absolute certainty about the arms caches and their intended use”. Commission member Oliver Rathkolb of Vienna University placed a FOIA request to gain access to the relevant documents, but the CIA declined under exemptions Bl and B3.

Fake insurgencies and assaults to trigger counter-insurgency methods or maneuvers to influence public opinion continue to be highly successful until this day. Some of the greatest success stories cannot be told without having to kill the audience. But despite the obvious operational success a majority of covert interventions have also created messy spillover effects and bad publicity. Judicial and investigative researchers are on the trail of these activities and make connections to recent European events. Even if theses covert operations continue to mystify audiences in the European theater this is clearly a drawback and the basic approach of such state sponsored stability operations must be considered compromised. Clearly the privatized business driven peacekeeping operations are at a double advantage both in discretion and limited liability as well as efficiency and profitability. Since contemporary economies do not produce products but foremost desires which can then be set on a course to be fed with products, outsourced angst creation is a extraordinary efficient business model. Desire for security becomes a potentially endless market because there cannot ever be such a thing as complete security. Structural discipline reduces the need of prisons in the transformation of the welfare state to the security economy but in environments of constantly high threat levels service contracts for black operations need to go beyond simple procedures to terrorize populations. Looking back at the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF) or the International Association for Cultural Freedom (IACF) we witness the triumphant deployment of socio-cultural operations in the early cold war theater. Even though modeled on a traditional top down command and control structure they provided a successful blueprint for cultural asteroids of cellular structured information dominance. Their congenial manipulation of the cultural field provides a clear example of the pervasive power of soft weapons of mass protection in the cognitive arena. With violence as a backup only, new models of less-lethal containment and pacification techniques, provide rich business opportunities in sustainable security economies. An investment in truth projection, media consolidation and enduring peacekeeping is not cheap but it grounds its risk management options firmly into economic success. Strategic communications are an investment into reality.

Poland Offers Europe a Bridge to a More Secure Energy and Economic Future

Poland Offers Europe a Bridge to a More Secure Energy and Economic Future



Redrawing Europe’s Energy Map: Poland’s Offer

The Russian state-owned energy giant Gazprom enjoys unwavering control of gas exports to Europe with little current viable competition. The European Union, overall, receives 25 percent of its natural gas supply via pipelines from Russia, with some (mostly Eastern European) consumers almost completely dependent on the large supplier. These consumers have been actively in pursuit of diversification.

Poland’s shale gas discovery has recently given Europe reason to be optimistic in attaining its energy diversification goals and may serve as a means of tackling Europe’s most imminent energy crises. Just the potential for Poland’s offer is enough to make a change.

3 Legs Resources, Exxon Mobil, Chevron, and Talisman Energy are among companies leading the effort to unlock gas trapped in shale rocks from Poland to Bulgaria. This supply may be enough to meet regional demand for almost 80 years, according to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA). Poland has completed seven wells out of a planned 124.

EIA estimates that Eastern Europe may hold as much as 7.1 trillion cubic meters of shale gas. Poland alone may sit atop about 5.2 trillion cubic meters, amounting to more than 300 years of domestic consumption and approximately 55 percent of the estimated shale gas reserves in Europe. This exceeds projected domestic consumer need, indicating Poland may evolve from an energy importer to an energy exporter, a promising sign for Europe’s energy diversification agenda.

To date, Poland has issued 86 exploration licenses. In April, U.S. explorer Marathon Oil Corp. agreed to sell a 40 percent interest in 10 Polish licenses to Nexen. A month later, Total SA signed an agreement with Exxon to take a 49 percent stake in two licenses in eastern Poland. The licensing process is more or less complete.

Poland is a large net importer of natural gas. Of the natural gas consumed in Poland in 2009, 61 percent was imported, almost all of which was supplied by Russia. Realizing the potential for unconventional natural gas to support its declining conventional gas production, the Polish government has shown strong support for shale gas drilling and has put into place very attractive fiscal terms for shale gas development. “Exploration of our own resources is our chance and our obligation,” Polish foreign minister Radosław Sikorski said. “Shale gas is a chance to limit Poland’s and Europe’s dependence on imports.”

The US shale gas industry serves as a positive influence on the Polish drive for shale gas exploration. Shale gas already covers 20 percent of US gas consumption and Gazprom has admitted that it isn’t able to sell as much to the United States as it used to because of the shale gas reserves there. With the United States as a model, production of shale gas may serve to loosen Poland dependence on Russian gas imports and ease Europe’s energy concerns.

However, Gazprom will not loosen its grip on Eastern European markets easily. Russia has already cut crude oil exports to the major refinery base in Gdansk, sending a clear signal to Warsaw that they should expect other retaliatory actions if they renege on long term contracts with Gazprom.

These responses from Russia are not unique to Poland. Eastern Europe as a whole has been preyed upon by Russian energy and economic interests. Russia-Ukraine gas disputes have been endemic since 2005 and are widely believed to have been Moscow’s response to Ukraine Orange Revolution in 2005, when pro-Western presidential candidate, Viktor Yushchenko was elected after a highly contested election against pro-Russia candidate Viktor Yanukovych. In 2008 and 2009, disputes with Ukraine led Russia to cut off supplies, leaving customers in Kiev and Western Europe briefly without fuel in the dead of winter.

In 2007 a Russia-Belarus energy dispute began when Gazprom demanded an increase in gas prices paid by Belarus. Belarus responded by siphoning off oil from the Druzhba pipeline which runs through Belarus and the dispute escalated further when the Russian state-owned pipeline company, Transneft, stopped pumping the oil entirely. Belarus had yet another dispute with Russian energy suppliers in 2010 concerning outstanding debts.

During its ongoing energy price dispute with Georgia, Gazprom threatened to cut off supplies before finally reaching a settlement in December 2006, a doubling of the price of gas to $235 per 1,000 cubic meters.

“The gas issue in Europe and especially in central and Eastern Europe has much more significance than dollars per cubic meters,” Bulgarian Energy and Economy Minister Traicho Traikov said. “It has to do with national independence.”

The September 2011 launch of the Nord Stream pipeline carrying gas from the Russian Federation to Germany via the Baltic Sea was a successful feat for Gazprom and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Now Russian energy exports can bypass Eastern Europe and Russia can rely significantly less on Ukrainian and other Eastern European pipelines and ensure steady gas flow to Germany and the rest of Western Europe. Shale gas production in Eastern Europe can reverse this isolation.

If initial estimates are confirmed, shale gas production in Poland will, in a decade, transform the European energy market by boosting energy security and lowering gas prices. The Russian Federation will no longer have a secure monopoly of gas exports to Europe and increased competition will ultimately force Russian producers to lower prices. Most importantly, once European shale gas starts running it will be difficult for the Kremlin to use its energy exports as a solid political lever.

Shale gas may be the key to solving some of our most imperative short-term crises. It may serve to bridge the gap to a more secure energy and economic future.

Mackensie Knorr is with the Atlantic Council’s Dinu Patriciu Eurasia Center.

Source: New Atlanticist

EU Ups the Ante, Offers To Upgrade Ukrainian Gas Transit System, Dismisses Russian South Stream

[This is a repost, since the original article disappeared, somehow.  I hope it is almost equal to the original.–Peter]

[EU negotiators are continuing to play their cards in a very calculated, shrewd manner, emulating their gambling American benefactors by seeming to “bet the house” on their latest hand.  The EU offer to modernize the leaky Ukrainian pipeline system is intended to give the impression that South Stream is just a Russian bluff.  Just days ago, European energy giant BP proposed a new southern pipeline from the Azeri gas fields to Turkey and onward.  The EU’s diplomatic blitz to push trough plans for the the Turkmenistan-Azeribaijan Pipeline (TAP) as a means to obtain Turkmen gas, despite Iranian and Russian roadblocks to Caspian delimitation, is a major bluff in itself.  The entire pipeline war scheme could be put into question if Polish shale gas explorations (SEE:  Exxon to Proceed with Hydraulic Fracturing in Poland) prove to be as extensive as preliminary tests indicate, or if the massive Israeli Leviathan gas find, or any new finds around Cyprus or Turkey, become destined for Europe.]

EU assures Ukraine of key gas shipping role for years to come

Kiev (Platts)–30Sep2011/519 am EDT/919 GMT

The European Union assured Ukraine on Thursday that it will continue to be the main transit route for Russian natural gas supplies to Europe, and agreed to disburse $308 million to upgrade its gas pipeline system.

EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger late Thursday met Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boyko to discuss the plans, and said the money will be disbursed to make sure modernization of the system begins in 2012.

Ukraine will continue to be the most important country for transit of Russian gas to the European Union, Oettinger said at a joint press conference with Boyko late Thursday.

Oettinger said the money will be discussed in detail next week at a meeting involving officials of the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the European Investment Bank.

The comment comes less than two weeks after Prime Minister Mykola Azarov warned the EU and Russia that Ukraine may start dismantling its gas pipeline system if Russia keeps building bypassing pipelines.

Azarov, who was reacting to the launch of Nord Stream, a pipeline linking Germany and Russia via the Baltic Sea, said the EU and Russia must let Ukraine know if they still need the Ukrainian system.

Nord Stream, which is currently being filled with gas, will be able to ship up to 28 Bcm/year of gas from Yuzhnorusskoye gas field in Yamal region of Russia.


Ukraine operates one of the world’s largest natural gas transportation systems and is responsible for shipments of 110 Bcm of gas annually, or up to 80% of Russia’s Europe-bound gas supplies.

Ukraine earns about $2.7 billion annually from rendering gas transportation services to Gazprom of Russia, but those earnings would come under threat if Russia continues to build bypassing pipelines.

One such planned pipeline is South Stream, a pipeline that would link Russia and Bulgaria via the Black Sea. The pipeline’s construction hasn’t yet been started, but Ukraine fears the project, if completed, would undermine its role as a gas shipper.

Oettinger argued that Ukraine will continue to play the major role as a gas shipper even with the launch of Nord Stream because the EU’s gas demand is expected to increase.

He said the EU’s annual demand for gas is expected to increase to about 600 Bcm/year within years, up from about 500 Bcm/year currently, and that will be enough to keep the Ukrainian gas pipelines busy.

Yuriy Korolchuk, a senior analyst at the Kiev-based independent Energy Research Institute, agreed that Ukraine will continue to play the key role as the gas shipper.

“Ukraine will continue to be the main transit nation for Russian gas to the EU for a long time to come,” Korolchuk said.

Russia is expected to deliver 155 Bcm of gas to Europe in 2011, of which 110 Bcm will be shipped via Ukraine, Korolchuk said.

Korolchuk estimated that Europe’s gas demand is expected to increase to up to 700 Bcm/year by 2020, up from 530 Bcm/year in 2010.

–Alexander Bor,

Impacts of Shale Gas and Shale Oil Extraction on the Environment and on Human Health

1.1. Shale gas 12
1.1.1. What is shale gas? 12
1.1.2. Recent development of unconventional gas extraction 14
1.2. Shale oil 15
1.2.1. What is shale oil and tight oil? 15
1.2.2. Recent development of tight oil extraction 16
2.1. Hydraulic fracturing and its possible impacts on the environment 17
2.2. Impacts on Landscape 20
2.3. Air Pollutant Emissions and Soil Contamination 22
2.3.1. Air pollutants from regular operations 22
2.3.2. Pollutants from well blowouts or accidents at drilling sites 24
2.4. Surface and ground water 25
2.4.1. Water consumption 25
2.4.2. Water contamination 27
2.4.3. Waste water disposal 29
2.5. Earthquakes 30
2.6. Chemicals, Radioactivity and Impacts on Human Health 30
2.6.1. Radioactive Materials 30
2.6.2. Chemicals to be used 31
2.6.3. Impacts on human health 34
2.7. Possible long term ecological benefits 35
2.8. Discussion of risks in public debates 36
2.9. Resources consumption 37
3.1. Shale and tight gas 39
3.1.1. Experiences in North America 39
3.1.2. Transferability to European conditions 43
3.1.3. Open issues 46
3.2. Tight oil 46
3.2.1. Experiences in Europe 46
Policy Department A: Economic and Scientific Policy
4.1. Extractive Industry specific Directives 48
4.2. Non-specific Directives (focus: environment and human health) 51
4.2.1. General Mining Risks covered by EU-Directives 51
4.2.2. Specific shale gas and tight oil risks covered by EU-Directives 54
4.3. Gaps and open issues 61
5.1. Introduction 64
5.2. Size and location of shale gas and oil deposits compared to conventional
deposits 65
5.2.1. Shale gas 65
5.2.2. Shale oil and tight oil 68
5.3. Analysis of producing shale gas plays in the United States of America 70
5.3.1. First month production rate 70
5.3.2. Typical production profiles 71
5.3.3. Estimated ultimate recovery (EUR) per well 71
5.3.4. Some examples in the USA 71
5.3.5. Key parameters of major European gas shales 73
5.3.6. Hypothetical field development 74
5.4. Role of shale gas extraction in the transition to a low-carbon economy
and the long-term reduction of CO2 emissions 74
5.4.1. Conventional gas production in Europe 74
5.4.2. Probable relevance of unconventional gas production on European gas supply 75
5.4.3. Role of shale gas production for long-term reduction of CO2 emissions 76

Israel and Turkey Whip-Out Their American-Made Phallus Symbols At Each Other Over Cyprus

Report: Israeli warplanes harassed Turkish seismic ship off East Med

An Israeli F-15 fighter jet prepares to land at an airforce base South of Tel Aviv. A news report said two F-15 jets that took off from Tel Aviv harrased a Turkish seismic research ship which is exploring gas near Cyprus.
A Turkish seismic research ship which is exploring gas near Cyprus was harassed by two low-flying Israel warplanes and a helicopter on Thursday night, Turkish Vatan daily reported on Friday.
Vatan referred to a story by the Greek Cypriot daily Phileleftheros, which argued that Israel boosted its presence in the Eastern Mediterranean as of Thursday night. The report said the two F-15 jets that took off from Tel Aviv flew through the Greek Cypriot and the Turkish Cypriot airspaces. The jets reportedly ignored warnings from the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (KKTC) officials and got so close to Turkey’s Mediterranean coasts that they could be even seen from Mersin’s beaches, the report said. Turkey then reportedly sent two F-16 jets to the area to track the Israeli jets, which then returned to Israel.

An Israeli military helicopter also flew over the Turkish research ship, Piri Reis, on Thursday night, according to the daily, as it was in the Aphrodite gas field, off Cyprus’ southern coast and adjacent to the larger Leviathan field. The helicopter flew low over the ship for a long time, the report said.

Greek Cyprus has signed agreements to delineate undersea borders in the eastern Mediterranean with Israel, Lebanon and Egypt. A US company licensed by the Greek Cypriot government to drill for gas in the south of Cyprus, Noble Energy, operates with its Israeli partner, Delek.

In December 2010, Noble Energy announced that a gas reserve of 16 trillion cubic feet had been discovered off the coast of Israel, estimated to be worth more than $95 billion. Noble Energy owns nearly 40 percent of the prospective discovery in the Israeli section, alongside Israeli partners Delek Group Ltd. units Avner Oil and Gas LP and Delek Drilling LP, with 22.67 percent each.

In response, Turkey signed an oil and gas exploration deal with the Turkish Cypriots and sent a Turkish research ship to the Mediterranean to start exploration. Turkey opposes exploration of gas in the eastern Mediterranean, saying it has rights in the region as the biggest coastal state and that the Turkish Cypriots, who run a state that is not internationally recognized in the north of the island, should also be involved.

Cyprus is divided into a Greek Cypriot south and a Turkish Cypriot north. The southern administration began exploratory drilling for oil and gas last week, prompting strong protests from Turkey, which does not recognize the Greek Cypriot administration.

Yemen Claims Radical American Cleric Killed in Airstrike

Radical Qaida Cleric Awlaqi Killed in Yemen

by Naharnet Newsdesk

Radical U.S.-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaqi has been killed with several other suspected al-Qaida operatives, the Yemeni defense ministry said on Friday.

The ministry did not elaborate on the circumstances of Awlaqi’s death in a statement released to the media.

But tribal sources told Agence France Presse that Awlaqi, who is wanted by Washington, was killed in an air strike which hit two vehicles in Marib province, an al-Qaida stronghold in eastern Yemen, early on Friday.

Obama Flips-Off China Selling Upgrades for 145 F-16s To Taiwan

China: U.S. arms sale to Taiwan will disrupt military exchanges, joint drills

( Source: Xinhua  )         2011-September-28 17:49

  BEIJING. Sept. 28 (Xinhua) — A defense official on Wednesday said the latest U.S. arms sale to Taiwan will disrupt China-U.S. military exchanges and joint drills.

“In light of the serious damage resulting from the U.S. arms sale to Taiwan, planned China-U.S. military exchanges, including high-level visits and joint exercises, will definitely be impacted,” Defense Ministry spokesman Geng Yansheng said at a monthly press briefing.

Geng’s comments came a week after the U.S. government notified Congress of its decision to sell arms worth 5.85 billion U.S. dollars to Taiwan, including upgrades for 145 of Taiwan’s fighter jets.

Geng issued a statement condemning the sale, saying the move will create severe obstacles for military exchanges between the U.S. and China.

Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army of China, spoke by phone to Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen about the issue last Friday at Mullen’s request, according to Geng.

“Mullen gave explanations for the U.S. arms sale, while Chen expressed China’s solemn stance on the issue,” Geng said.

Geng urged the United States to take immediate and effective measures to dispel any negative impact that the arms sale has had on bilateral military relations.

He called on the United States to honor its commitment regarding the Taiwan issue, stop selling arms and take practical measures to work for the healthy and steady development of China-U.S. military relations.

Editor :  Ouyang Dongmei

Obama, Uzbek leader discuss Afghan supply route

Obama, Uzbek leader discuss Afghan supply route

Uzbek President Islam Karimov speaks at a news briefing after the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent June 11, 2010. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov

By Matt Spetalnick and Susan Cornwell


(Reuters) – President Barack Obama and Uzbekistan’s President Islam Karimov discussed expanding U.S. use of the central Asian country as a route to supply troops in Afghanistan, a U.S. official said on Thursday, amid growing concern about the viability of Pakistan as a transit route.

The White House said Obama called Karimov on Wednesday to congratulate the former Soviet republic on its 20th anniversary of independence and that the leaders talked about shared interests in a “secure and prosperous” Afghanistan.

Obama’s outreach to Karimov, whose has faced U.S. criticism over his human rights record, came as the United States and Pakistan are locked in a diplomatic crisis over U.S. accusations linking Pakistan’s chief intelligence agency to militant attacks on Americans in Afghanistan.

Rising tension between Washington and Islamabad, at times awkward partners in the fight against Islamic militancy, have raised questions about Pakistan’s role as a major U.S. supply route for American forces fighting in Afghanistan.

That has sent U.S. officials scrambling to consider expanding alternatives to lessen reliance on Pakistan.

A senior Obama administration official said the use of Uzbek territory, which already serves as a key supply route for U.S. war supplies, was an “important topic of discussion” between Obama and Karimov.

On Capitol Hill, U.S. senators have also made a clear push for improving ties with Uzbekistan so that more supplies can be moved to and from Afghanistan through the “Northern Distribution Network” that goes through Uzbekistan.


U.S. lawmakers have become increasingly strident in criticism of Pakistan since last week when the top U.S. military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, accused Pakistani officials of supporting the militant Haqqani network’s September 13 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

U.S. aid to Pakistan is now under review.

The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved a bill that would allow the United States to waive restrictions on aid to Uzbekistan if Secretary of State Hillary Clinton certifies this is needed to obtain access to and from Afghanistan.

Those restrictions had been placed on aid to Uzbekistan out of concern over its human rights record. The measure must still be approved by the full House of Representatives and Senate.

“We’re going to probably replace 50 percent of what we ship into Afghanistan from Pakistan, will go through the northern route, Uzbekistan,” Senator Lindsey Graham, who is on the committee, told Reuters this week.

“I expect a major breakthrough between us and the Uzbeks in terms of ground and air access,” Graham said.

Karimov has kept a firm state grip on the economy of Uzbekistan, which has reserves of natural gas and is a major producer of cotton and gold.

A former top Communist Party official, Karimov tolerates no dissent in the mostly Muslim nation of 28 million people, the most populous in Central Asia.

No opposition parties are allowed, the media is tightly controlled and rights groups say thousands of political prisons are in jails rife with torture. Karimov’s unflinching style has also caused tension with Uzbekistan’s neighbors.

(Additional reporting by John O’Callaghan; Editing by Will Dunham)

Kabul to Drop Trilateral Peace Effort


European Pressphoto Agency

Kabul to Drop Trilateral Peace Effort


KABUL—Afghanistan plans to suspend an effort to work with Pakistan and the U.S. to bring the Taliban to the negotiating table, Afghan officials said, taking a tougher line with Pakistan after last week’s assassination of Kabul’s top peace negotiator.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai attends a condolence ceremony in Kabul this week for Burhanuddin Rabbani, the slain former President and head of High Peace Council.

Senior U.S., Pakistani and Afghan officials had been set to meet in Kabul on Oct. 8 to discuss ways of getting insurgents into peace talks and ending the 10-year-old conflict. Afghanistan has decided to cancel this meeting, deputy national security adviser Shaida Mohammad Abdali said Thursday.

“From now on Afghanistan will follow ‘trust but verify’ approach towards Pakistan, in particular with regard to our peace effort,” said Mr. Abdali, who suggested that Kabul would no longer accept Pakistan’s offers of help without questioning its sincerity.

Afghanistan is also shelving plans for Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani to visit Kabul at the end of October for a meeting of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace in Afghanistan, a three-month-old initiative intended to galvanize the peace process.

Officials at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined to comment on Afghanistan’s moves. The U.S. still plans to send Marc Grossman, the State Department’s special representative for the region, to Kabul for talks next week that were meant to include the trilateral meeting, said Gavin Sundwall, a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy.

Afghanistan’s decision to scuttle the meetings is another setback for U.S.-led efforts to cultivate a regional dialog that would make it easier to withdraw most coalition military forces by late 2014.

The cancellations signal a change in strategy for Afghan leaders, who had sought to use the killing in May of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan as a chance to open a new, conciliatory chapter with Pakistan.

But Afghan and U.S. relations with Islamabad have deteriorated in recent weeks following the Sept. 13 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and the subsequent assassination of former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Last week, outgoing U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen accused Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, or ISI, of sponsoring the Haqqani network, the militant group blamed by the U.S. for the embassy attack. Pakistani officials rejected the charge.

Afghan officials have also accused Pakistani intelligence of organizing the elaborate ruse that allowed a purported Taliban emissary to kill Mr. Rabbani, who was leading attempts to broker a peace deal with the Taliban’s top leaders, who are believed to be based in Quetta, Pakistan.

“This was a turning point,” Mr. Abdali said of the assassination. “Definitely it goes back to the same place: Pakistan. The phone calls go all the way from here to Quetta.”

The White House has moved to soften American criticism of Pakistan, seeking to prevent a breakdown in relations.

Afghan officials, however, are ratcheting up the pressure. The alleged four-month project to kill Mr. Rabbani—a plot that convinced Mr. Karzai the Taliban were sending a peace envoy—was too complex to have been the sole work of the Taliban or Haqqanis, said Mr. Abdali.

“There is no question Haqqani is hand-in-glove with the ISI,” echoed Jawed Ludin, Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister. “For Afghanistan, we’re very, very clear that the ultimate responsibility rests with the ISI.”

—Matthew Rosenberg
contributed to this article

Pak/US War Provocation from the Brits

[The following piece of work from the premier London think tank (of course it is “independent” from the crown), Royal United Services Institute, reads like pure provocation.  It is obviously meant to raise temperatures even further on all sides.]

America loses patience with Pakistan

Relations between the US and Pakistan have reached a breaking point.

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari with President  Obama at the White House - America loses patience with Pakistan

Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari with President Obama at the White House Photo: GETTY

By Shashank Joshi

8:34PM BST 29 Sep 2011

Comments33 Comments

Pakistan’s deposed military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, told The Daily Telegraph yesterday that “the United States must accept the compulsions of Pakistan” in using terrorist groups as instruments of foreign policy.

For a decade, the US did just that, even in the face of mounting evidence that Pakistan was responsible for derailing the war in Afghanistan and killing allied forces. But America’s top military officer has now taken the gloves off.

Admiral Mike Mullen, regarded as one of the most pro-Pakistan officials in the US government, has informed the Senate that the Haqqani network – a Taliban-linked insurgent group – is a “veritable arm” of the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence service. “With ISI support,” said Mullen, the Haqqanis had bombed the US embassy in Kabul earlier this month. For the first time in history, an ally – one which has taken $22 billion of American money since 2002 – stands accused of committing an effective act of war against the US.

We are witnessing the death spasms of an alliance that has been in meltdown from the day it began. Pakistan helped ferry al-Qaeda fighters from Afghanistan after 9/11, and spent the following years helping the Taliban to build up their strength. In 2009, the US tried to repair this by promising billions of dollars and a “strategic partnership” of equals. But a series of incidents this year – from the imprisonment of an American spy to the raid that killed Osama bin Laden – underscores the profound disillusionment felt by a generation of US officials.

There is a dawning realisation that no amount of money will compel Pakistan’s out-of-control army to stop aiding insurgents like the Haqqani network and international terrorists like Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Even as jihadi outfits tear apart the Pakistani state, the generals can’t give up their addiction to proxy warriors. But if they keep acting like an enemy, the Americans have no choice but to treat them like one.

FBI faces entrapment questions over Rezwan Ferdaus bomb plot arrest

[Have there been any serious bomb threats since Oklahoma City?  It seems that the FBI have been the brains and suppliers behind most previous terror bombings; it is good that they are at least consistent.  It is highly unlikely that the model F-4 planes seen in the video could have flown with a bomb payload of twelve pounds of C4.  It is extremely unlikely that such an overloaded air platform could have obtained flight, or been controllable if it did.  Maybe the guy was just a model airplane enthusiast and he used the FBI to obtain toys out of his own price range.]

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Mass. Man and Possible FBI Entrapment plot, posted with vodpod

FBI faces entrapment questions over Rezwan Ferdaus bomb plot arrest

Sting operation to arrest physics graduate, 26, raises concerns that US Muslims might be targeted using entrapment techniques

Rezwan Ferdaus

Rezwan Ferdaus is accused of plotting to crash explosive-filled miniature planes into the US Capital and Pentagon. Photograph: AP

The dramatic arrest of a man in Massachusetts accused of plotting to crash explosive-filled miniature airplanes into the US Capitol and the Pentagon has sparked fresh concerns that the FBI might be using entrapment techniques aimed at Muslims in America.

Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old US citizen and physics graduate who lived at home with his parents in Ashland, near Boston, was the target of an FBI sting in which he bought a miniature aircraft that he planned to outfit as a flying bomb.

However, some legal organisations and Muslim groups have questioned whether Ferdaus, whose activities were carried out with two undercover FBI agents posing as terrorists, would have been able to carry out such a sophisticated plot if left to his own devices. In numerous previous cases in the US, the FBI has been accused of over-zealousness in its investigations and of entrapping people into terror plots who might otherwise not have carried out an attack.

“It deeply concerns us. It is another in a pattern of high-profile cases. Would this person have conceived or executed this plot without the influence of the FBI?” said Heidi Boghosian, president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also expressed its concern and wondered if more details would later emerge at trial that showed the full scale of the FBI involvement in setting up the sting. “There is a big, big difference between a plot initiated by the FBI and a plot initiated by a suspect, and it seems this might have been initiated by the FBI,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s director of communications.

The lengthy affidavit filed by prosecutors against Ferdaus details an elaborate plot in which he repeatedly expressed his desire to kill Americans and his support for Islamic jihad. The affidavit showed he came up with a detailed plan of attack and even scouted his targets in Washington in person. He also built mobile phone “detonators” that he supplied to undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaida terrorists and expressed his pleasure when told him they had been used to kill American soldiers in Iraq.

However, it also contains some areas of concern. Few details are given as to how Ferdaus came to the attention of the FBI. Mention is only made of a co-operating witness, known as CW, who met Ferdaus in December 2010 and soon began recording his conversations.

No details are given as to CW’s identity, but it is mentioned that he or she has a criminal record and has served time in prison. That raises the prospect that the CW may have had some ulterior motive to bring an alleged terror suspect to the attention of the FBI or could be an unreliable witness.

Another potential area of concern is a meeting on 19 April 2011, when the undercover agents met with Ferdaus and questioned the “feasibility” of his plan. That raises the prospect that the FBI agents were somehow goading Ferdaus into more action. “Ferdaus responded in a defensive manner that he had made progress,” the affidavit stated.

At the same meeting the undercover agents also gave financial assistance for Ferdaus to travel to Washington on a scouting trip: a fact that raises the question of whether he would have made the trip without that financial help. The undercover agents also supplied thousands of dollars in cash for Ferdaus to buy the F-86 Sabre miniature plane to be used in an attack.

Another portion of the affidavit also details Ferdaus’s enthusiasm for making mobile phone detonation devices that he believed were being sent to Iraq and used by terrorists. Ferdaus suggested sending a box of 50 mobile phones to war zones where terrorists were in need of them. He even wanted to set up a sort of workshop to produce up to 30 of the devices a week.

“Ferdaus indicated that he could write instructions or make a video on how to construct the cell phone detonation devices,” the affidavit said. Such an apparently outlandish idea that hinges on the idea that Islamic terrorists are desperately short of cheap mobile phones might suggest Ferdaus was, to some extent, a fantasist rather than a genuine threat.

However, some legal experts said that the case against Ferdaus appeared compelling, especially as he frequently and repeatedly indicated his desire and willingness to carry out terrorist attacks against Americans. In trying to mount a successful defence of entrapment it is vital to prove that a suspect has no pre-disposition to the crime they are accused of doing. In the Ferdaus case that would seem to be difficult, lawyers said.

“He took the weaponry and agreed to do it. That demonstrates a propensity and willingness to do it,” said Anthony Barkow, a former terrorism prosecutor and executive director of the Center on the Administration of Criminal Law at New York University.

Barkow defended the FBI investigation and said that the US authorities took careful steps to avoid the issue of entrapment. “The Justice Department is very aware of this issue,” he said.

Certainly the affidavit against Ferdaus paints a compelling picture of a man hellbent on waging jihad in America and eager to take the guns and explosives eventually supplied to him by the undercover FBI agents. He repeatedly states in recorded conversations that he is happy for Americans to die and that the idea for the attack was his own. “That’s excellent,” Ferdaus said when told one of his phone detonators had been used overseas and had killed Americans.

The prosecution case also reveals how Ferdaus ordered the plane and rented a storage facility in which to keep it and then took delivery from the FBI agents of 25 pounds of C-4 explosives, three grenades and six AK-47 rifles. It also shows Ferdaus explaining how he had become convinced that he needed to attack America after viewing jihadist websites online. “I just can’t stop; there is no other choice for me,” he said of his decision to launch the attacks.

Prosecutors have staunchly defended the FBI operation. “Our top priority is to protect our nation from terrorism and national security threats,” said US attorney Carmen Ortiz.

FBI officials have also said the investigation was carried out responsibly and to head off a real threat. “We have an obligation to take action to protect the public whenever an individual expresses a desire to commit violence. A committed individual, even one with no direct connections to, or formal training from, an international terrorist organization, can pose a serious danger to the community,” said Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Boston Division





The situation in Afghanistan is a microcosm of a much larger issue facing Western neocolonial powers, for the global elite’s hegemonic shield has begun to fissure and is in jeopardy of being split asunder at a pace that has defied any prognostications based on the unrest that’s erupted amongst native populations across the globe.
And there is no country in a more precarious position than the United States, which has the bulk of its resources and military mired in two Muslim countries overseas during a time of explosive upheaval in the Middle East and North Africa. The U.S. stands flatfooted while witnessing revolts, riots and uprisings against American-backed dictatorships and puppet monarchies in such countries as Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Jordan and Algeria, among others.
The modern American empire was established in the post-WWII era during the dawn of the Cold War, as British mercantilists passed the imperial baton to the U.S., its corporate elites and associated concentrations of domestic private power. Along with it, the U.S. inherited a 19th century European worldview referred to as the Hegelian Dialectic, which is based on the belief that “conflict creates history.”
The dialectic is derived from German philosopher Georg Hegel’s critique of natural law, written in 1825, in which he posited a theory of social and historical evolution which served as the foundation for the communist economic theories of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels. Hegel in essence disputed the theory of universal natural rights espoused by other philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, as Hegel laid the foundation for the justification of totalitarianism.
According to Hegel, human society can only achieve its highest state and mankind its highest spiritual consciousness through endless self-perpetuating ideological struggles and conflicts between bipolar extremes which result in the eventual synthesizing of opposites. The continual merging of juxtaposing social, economic and cultural ideals as established by extreme right or left belief systems will, according to Hegel, inevitably lead mankind to final perfection.
The “formula” of this theory is based on the notion that each stage of human advance – and the course of history itself – is driven by an argument (thesis), a counterargument (anti-thesis)) and a synthesis of the two extremes into a more advanced argument, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum.
Niki Raapana and Nordica Friedrich 10 from the Anti-Communitarian League provide examples of some of the most common extremes that function to advance the “invisible dialectic”:

We can see it in environmentalists instigating conflicts against private property owners, in democrats against republicans, in greens against libertarians, in communists against socialists, in neo-cons against traditional conservatives, in community activists against individuals, in pro-choice versus pro-life, in Christians against Muslims, in isolationists versus interventionists, in peace activists against war hawks. No matter what the issue, the invisible dialectic aims to control both the conflict and the resolution of differences, and leads everyone involved into a new cycle of conflicts.
Dialecticians claim the long-term objective is for man to achieve a more egalitarian condition, yet, in practice, it simply arms those seeking power with the means to manipulate society – a path that has enabled the modern-day control of the many by the few. The ultimate goal is to allow for natural social evolution to run its course to form a utopian “New World Order”, i.e., a world government ruled by the global elite. It is a system of designed social conflict that is used to create a desired social change. Such a desired end state was spelled out by Hegel himself when he said:
"…the State ‘has the supreme right against the individual, whose supreme duty is to be a member of the State… for the right of the world spirit is above all special privileges.”
According to Antony Sutton11, “Above all, the Hegelian doctrine is the divine right of States rather than the divine right of kings.” Sutton claimed that the State for Hegel and Hegelians is God on earth, quoting Hegel again:
"The march of God in history is the cause of the existence of states, their foundation is the power of Reason realizing itself as will. Every state, whatever it be, participates in the Divine essence. The State is not the work of human art, only Reason could produce it."
Looking back over the past 100 years or so it is almost impossible not to see how global elites have established both right and left elements to bring about a global society run by the few. Right-left situations have been deliberately created and placed into conflict to bring about such a synthesis.
The Hegelian dialectic is a powerful tool for influencing the dialogues of cultures and nations, especially if one already controls and/or owns much of the mainstream media – the arena wherein fabricated extremist arguments take place.
As George Orwell ominously put it, "He who controls the past controls the future". Hence, it is altogether possible, and likely, that those who control/own the media can manipulate and revise one’s beliefs and perceptions about historical events in order to influence future behavior.
11 Sutton, Antony, America’s Secret Establishment (Trine Day reprint, 2002)

At a micro-level, this phenomenon has occurred in recent modern history in Afghanistan, where the same Western-backed warlords and fascist leaders have been continually recycled and enthroned with authority by the West, over the past three decades, who then suppress and dominate the population and weaken the tribal balance.
Every decade or so atrocious war crimes are erased from memory by foreign planners at the end of an occupation or civil war, who then, again and again, bestow their favorite strongmen with illegitimate power.
Even more illustrative of the struggle between forever changing dialectic extremes and revisionist history is how during the “jihad” against the Soviets, the Judeo-Christian West teamed up with violent Islamic radicals of the worst sort against the Soviets, because they shared a common hatred for the godless communists.
The same people American leaders once called “freedom fighters” throughout the 80’s are now violent extremist jihadist terrorists who commit immoral acts and heinous human rights violations that all Americans should find deplorable.
Of course, before 9/11 when these “terrorists” were fighting against the Soviets, they were “our terrorists” and such human rights violations and war crimes hardly ever made the press. Today, people aren’t really supposed to remember nor point out this interesting historical irony, especially within the media.
But, based on our limited successes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the tumult in the Greater Middle East, has the Hegelian dialectic run its course? Is the American empire at its turning point?
The only way to defeat the progression of Hegel’s hypothesis is to step outside the dialectic and release ourselves from the limitations of controlled and guided thought, by reaffirming our belief in the natural rights of all humans, a concept purportedly the bedrock of American government.
Sutton compares the Hegelian dialectic to the spirit and letter of the Constitution of the United States, stating how "We the people" grant the state some powers and reserve all others to the people and not self-appointed elite running the State.
If Americans truly believe the rights of the state are always subordinate and subject to the will of the people and consent of the governed, and truly believe that all people are endowed with inalienable rights and are created equal, then the dialectic must be abandoned.
The West should be willing extend this doctrine of natural rights to all humanity, not simply a select few – let alone support governments and special interests that actively undermine them.

Hence, Westerners must rediscover themselves by restoring those principles and traditions they claim to uphold.
It is time for Western leaders to understand the dialectic, which demands perpetual war, is a losing cause that has outlived whatever usefulness it ever had. As difficult as it may be for Westerners to grasp, not only does Afghanistan’s future lie in reconnecting with its ancient tribal past, but the West’s future lies in a similar process of retribalization so they can address their own identity crisis. To quote from McLuhan again:
“… we’re standing on the threshold of a liberating and exhilarating world in which the human tribe can become truly one family and man’s consciousness can be freed from the shackles of mechanical culture and enabled to roam the cosmos. I have a deep and abiding belief in man’s potential to grow and learn, to plumb the depths of his own being and to learn the secret songs that orchestrate the universe. We live in a transitional era of profound pain and tragic identity quest, but the agony of our age is the labor pain of rebirth.”
It is critical to establish a new narrative for the Afghan people that will promote the rights of all natives around the world as a new standard for the West.
This can be accomplished by enforcing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples which was adopted by the UN in 2007. The UN describes it as setting "an important standard for the treatment of indigenous peoples that will undoubtedly be a significant tool towards eliminating human rights violations against the planet’s 370 million indigenous people and assisting them in combating discrimination and marginalization."

Gas prices dispute may drive Turkey to cancel contract with Russia

Gas prices dispute may drive Turkey to cancel contract with Russia

Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız
Energy and Natural Resources Minister Taner Yıldız has said that if Russia does not respond to Turkey’s demands to reduce natural gas prices, Turkey plans to terminate the contract it has with its northeastern neighbor.
Speaking to reporters in Ankara on Thursday, Yıldız, in response to a question regarding natural gas prices, which have increased by 39 percent in the last two-and-a-half years, said: “We are going to take a close look at the contracts on the purchase of all raw essentials that are soon to expire. The agreement for the Russia-Turkey Western Pipeline is one of those contracts that need to be looked over again, and if we do not receive the discount we are expecting, it will be terminated.”

Yıldız previously spoke on the issue in March when he said: “We definitely understand the conditions the producer countries are in. However, it is normal for us to expect a reduction in natural gas prices,” noting that Turkey wanted to discuss the oil-indexed natural gas price to find other solutions to determine the cost. He also said the two countries should move towards coming up with a structure that gives priority to strategic cooperation and trade.

Turkey has been persistent in its demands since Gazprom, Russia’s biggest natural gas company, which meets 67 percent of Turkey’s requirements, reduced the price of the natural gas it was selling to the Italian Edison Company, which filed a lawsuit last November at the Court of Arbitration in Stockholm against Promgas, a company jointly owned by Gazprom and Italy’s Eni. The suit called for a reduction in the price of Russian gas in a long-term contract, and Gazprom agreed to cut its gas prices for Italy’s Edison in July.

Gazprom confirmed that the dispute had been resolved since it would not be a major loss for Gazprom as Edison does not buy more than 2 billion cubic meters from the Russian company.

The agreement between Turkey and Russia on the transfer of natural gas via the Russia-Turkey Western Pipeline will expire at the end of 2011, and Gazprom’s deal with Edison seems to have complicated its negotiations with larger gas consumers like Turkey.

State Dept’s Robert Blake Opens Mouth and Hillary’s Voice Comes Out



[The man spends his time selling Western hallucinations to the Asian audiences, knowing that everything he promises is dependent upon American military pacification of Central and Southeast Asia.  He sells “Silk Road Pipe Dreams,” like TAPI and Afghan/Pakistani trade agreements, including India, at a time when Pakistani and US forces are about to come to blows over American accusations and scapegoating of Pakistan.  Lies are compounded by even greater lies—and he describes his delusional scenario as a great “Vision.”]

Extend Afghanistan- Pakistan trade agreement to India: US

The Obama [ Images ] Administration on Wednesday stressed on the need to extend an Afghanistan- Pakistan transit trade agreement to India [ Images ], asserting this will transform the economic dynamics of the region.

“Opening transit trade to India would be transformative, because India is going to be such an important economic anchor for the region in the 21st century,” Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia Robert Blake [ Images ] said.

“The Indian and Pakistani commerce secretaries have been engaged in very important talks over the last several months to try to increase the volume of direct trade between their two countries that goes across the Wagah border,” Blake said in his remarks at a seminar on ‘Looking Ahead: US-India Strategic Relations and the Trans-Pacific Century’ at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), Johns Hopkins University.

Referring to the ‘New Silk Road’ vision of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [ Images ], Blake said this is a shared commitment to promote private-sector investment, increase regional trade and transit and foster a network of linkages throughout the region to build up the Afghan private sector and create a stable and prosperous Afghanistan within a stable and prosperous region.

“The Afghan government put forward a vision for its economic future based on increased private sector investment and expanded regional trade and integration,” he said.

“This vision builds on many efforts already underway. For example, Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to a transit trade agreement and to implement that and extend it to Central Asia,” Blake said.

“Ultimately, everyone hopes transit trade to India can be opened as well so that products from Afghanistan or from any of the Central Asian countries could transit through Pakistan and into India, Bangladesh and even beyond,” he said.

Blake said another very important priority is to try to expand regional energy infrastructure.

“Already, with the leadership of President Berdimuhamedov of Turkmenistan, the countries of Turkmenistan and Afghanistan and Pakistan and India have made quite important progress on the TAPI pipeline, which would bring natural gas from the fields of Turkmenistan to the energy markets of India, which, again, are growing very rapidly,” he said.

“It would also bring very important transit revenues for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he added. The International Afghanistan Conference in Bonn on December 5, 2011, will be a key opportunity for the government of Afghanistan, its neighbours and the broader international community to address how the international community can strengthen economic cooperation to comprehensively address the opportunities the New Silk Road presents, he noted.

“Just as India will be an anchor of the New Silk Road vision, an India more integrated with the markets of the Asia-Pacific and one more engaged in Asia-Pacific security issues will benefit the region and Asian multilateral fora,” Blake said.

This might entail India seeking an increased role in the East Asia Summit, elevating and further deepening its interaction with ASEAN, and developing further political relations with East Asia that match India’s vibrant trade and investment growth in the region, he added.

Image: Robert Blake |  Photohgraph: Reuters

Karzai says Pakistan fomenting instability



President Hamid Karzai at a news conference on December 20, 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan. File photo

KABUL/PESHAWAR – Afghan President Hamid Karzai, long a staunch advocate of peace talks with Taliban, on Wednesday questioned whether the insurgent group was able to seek a political settlement and blamed Pakistan for fomenting instability, as Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani said Pakistan was a part of the Afghan solution and any effort to address this issue without it would not be productive.
Karzai took a swipe at Pakistan, saying it was clear the Taliban leadership was not independent enough to make its own decisions about how it conducted the war, and suggesting talks with Islamabad instead. “During our three-year efforts for peace, the Taliban has martyred our religious ulema (leaders), tribal elders, women, children, old and young,” Karzai was quoted as saying in a statement issued by his office. “By killing (Burhanuddin) Rabbani, they showed they are not able to take decisions. Now, the question is (should we seek) peace with who, with which people?”
Hundreds of Rabbani’s supporters protested in Kabul on Tuesday against his killing, chanting “death to Pakistan, death to the Taliban” and demanding the government scrap plans to hold dialogue with the insurgents. Preliminary investigations into Rabbani’s killing, presented to Karzai by the country’s intelligence chiefs on Tuesday, said the attack was plotted outside Afghanistan and the Taliban’s powerful Quetta Shura may have been involved.
Karzai said Afghanistan’s efforts to improve ties with Pakistan had not been reciprocated. “Pakistan did nothing to destroy terrorist strongholds, allowing them to train in its territory,” he said. “And now, if the Taliban is being used… by the ISI, then Afghanistan has to talk with Pakistan and not the Taliban,” he added. Speaking at a dinner hosted by Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Masud Kausar in his honour here, Prime Minister Gilani said Pakistan supported the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process.
However, such a process should not destabilise Pakistan, he said. Gilani said that Pakistan had its own interest in the region which it would protect at all costs.

America’s Foreign Policy Fiasco

America’s Foreign Policy Fiasco

By Patrick Seale

Barack Obama’s once promising foreign policy has been undermined by short-sighted support for Israel and muddled objectives in Afghanistan.

US President Barack Obama is piling up the foreign policy disasters. In at least three areas crucial for world peace and US interests – Arab-Israel tensions, Afghanistan-Pakistan and Yemen-Somalia – he’s pursuing a course that can only be described as foolhardy. Indeed, the anger and hate towards the United States that he’s generating could take a generation to dispel.

Obama’s abject surrender to Israel on the Palestine question has shocked much of the world and gravely damaged the United States’ standing among Arabs and Muslims. In what is seen by many as an effort to court the Jewish vote at next year’s presidential election, Obama has thrown into reverse the policy of outreach to the Muslim world that he expressed so eloquently in his 2009 Cairo speech. If he’s now driven to use the US veto at the UN Security Council to block theapplication of a Palestinian state for UN membership, he will have been defeated by the very forces of Islamophobia he once hoped to tame.

Obama’s policy in Afghanistan is equally perverse. On the one hand, he seems to want to draw the Taliban into negotiations. But on the other, some of his army chiefs and senior diplomats apparently want to destroy the Taliban first. This is hardly a policy likely to bring the insurgents to the table. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Ryan Crocker, the new US ambassador to Kabul, actually said that the conflict should continue until more of the Taliban are killed.  Who, one wonders, is in charge of US policy?

In a message on the occasion of the Eid at the end of Ramadan, Mullah Muhammad Omar, leader of the Afghan Taliban, seemed to hint at his readiness for a comprehensive negotiation. ‘Every legitimate option can be considered,’ he said,’ in order to reach the goal of an independent Islamic regime in Afghanistan.’ He urged foreign powers to withdraw their troops ‘immediately’ in order to achieve a lasting solution to the problem. In a gesture to his local opponents, he stressed that the Taliban didn’t wish to monopolize power and that all ethnicities would participate in a ‘real Islamic regime acceptable to all the people of the country.’

Surely the United States and its allies should respond positively to this message? A conference in Bonn next December is due to review NATO’s war in Afghanistan – a war that seems closer to being lost than won. About 25,000 soldiers reportedly deserted the Afghan armed services in the first six months of this year because they had lost faith in the Hamid Karzai government’s ability to protect them and their families. Coalition troops are due to withdraw their troops by the end of 2014. Might there not be an argument for an immediate offer of negotiation together with a pledge of an earlier withdrawal?  It is, after all, far from clear what strategic interests, if any, the West is defending in Afghanistan.

The subject is of considerable urgency since the US counter-insurgency strategy is in real trouble. In July, Ahmad Wali Karzai, Karzai’s powerful brother, was shot dead in Kandahar. In August, the Taliban attacked the British Council in Kabul. On September 10, a truck packed with explosives killed five people and wounded 77 US troops at a NATO military base south-west of Kabul – the highest injury toll of foreign forces in a single incident in the 10-year war. On September 13, insurgents staged a 20 hour-long assault on the US embassy and ISAF headquarters in the heart of Kabul – supposedly the best protected perimeter in the whole country. And on September 20, Burhanuddin Rabbani, head of the High Peace Council, was assassinated.

Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik, was charged by Karzai with the task of seeking peace with the Taliban. He seems to have made little or no progress. He was a mujahidin leader in the war against the Soviets in the 1980s, then president of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996, before being ousted by the Taliban. He then became a leading figure of the Northern Alliance of Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras who fought the Islamists until the Taliban were driven from power by the US invasion of 2001. Although it’s not yet clear who is responsible for Rabbani’s murder, suspicion has fallen on the Pakistan-backed Haqqani network.

Pakistan has a vital strategic interest in Afghanistan. It wants to keep Indian influence out of a country that it considers its strategic depth. It suspects Karzai of being in league with India, and would appear to prefer a Taliban-governed Afghanistan to Karzai’s US-backed regime. In any event, Rabbani’s death robs Karzai of a key ally and strains his relations with Pakistan. It could be a step towards a civil war if no early attempt is made to engage the Taliban.

Now entering its 11th year – at the colossal cost to the US taxpayer of about $120 billion a year – the Afghan war has drained US resources, dangerously undermined the Pakistani state and threatened to destroy the US-Pakistani alliance. Addressing the US Senate in mid-September, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused Pakistan’s army and the ISI, the powerful military intelligence service, of being in league with the Haqqani network.  By using ‘violent extremism as an instrument of policy’, Mullen said, Pakistan was undermining the American military effort and jeopardizing the US-Pakistani strategic partnership.

Pakistan’s response was not long in coming. Speaking on the BBC programme The World Tonight on September 22, Gen. Asad Durani, a former head of the ISI, described US-Pakistan relations as in a state of ‘low-intensity conflict.’ Pakistan should back the United States’ opponents in Afghanistan, he said, if the US continued drone strikes against targets in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, in their hunt for the Taliban and their supporters, US special forces mount frequent night raids in Afghanistan, such as the one on September 2 that killed Sabar Lal , a wealthy Afghan, in his home in Jalalabad. According to press reports, the Americans broke in, handcuffed and blindfolded him and his guests, then took him out on the veranda and killed him. He had fought the Soviets in Afghanistan, spent five years in Guantánamo, then built a new life for himself and his family. Clearly this wasn’t enough to allay US suspicions of his links with Islamic militants, with US officials claiming he was an al-Qaeda affiliate.

In Yemen and the Horn of Africa, the United States’ increasing resort to drones, with their inevitable toll of civilian deaths, has enraged the local populations and driven recruits into the arms of the militants. According to the Washington Post, the Obama administration has used CIA-operated drones to carry out lethal attacks against al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen. The drone programme has killed more than 2,000 militants and civilians since 2001.

Surely, now is as good a time as any to ask whether US policy hasn’t created more terrorists than the CIA has managed to kill? Would it not be better if the United States were simply to declare victory in Afghanistan – and indeed in all the other places where its Special Forces operate – bring its troops home as soon as possible, and turn its attention to tending the wounds in its own broken society?

Patrick Seale is a British writer on the Middle East and author of ‘The Struggle for Syria’ and ‘Asad of Syria: The Struggle for the Middle East’. He has reported for Reuters and The Observer among other publications.

Photo Credit: White House

Asian Development Bank Funds Northern Distribution Network, Allegedly for Humanitarian Reasons

[Once again, the Asian Development Bank is supporting the American war plans for Afghanistan and beyond, into Central Asia (SEE:  Asian Devel. Bank Funding Uzbek Project To Upgrade Ferghana Valley Highway).  In the previous support, the ADB provided the cash to modernize the remaining Uzbek highway system, which leads into the Ferghana Valley, the next target in the Imperial war plans.  The new money for the electrification of Uzbek railway section leading into Mazar i-Sharif, Afghanistan, is intended to supply military equipment and war materiel–NOT “humanitarian relief goods” or “exports of their main commodities” as is claimed in the report below.  Apparently, the ADB, like the UN, is just another arm of the US government.]

Why did US/NATO Go To Such Trouble To Avoid Taking the NDN Through Turkestan?

ADB funded Uzbekistan rail project to accelerate regional trade


ISLAMABAD: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is extending $100 million to upgrade a key railway in Uzbekistan which will stimulate local growth and boost regional trade.

ADB’s Board of Directors has approved the loan for the Railway Electrification Project which will finance the electrification of a 140-kilometer stretch of rail line between Marakand in Samarkand province and Karshi in Kashkadarya province, says a press release received here from Manila,Philippines here on Thursday.

The railway is part of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation Corridor 6 that runs north to south, linking Europe, through Central Asia, to the Middle East andSouth Asia. In Uzbekistan, the route carries about 10 million tons of freight annually, including about 1.6 million tons of humanitarian relief goods for Afghanistan—more than half its imports.

The northern part of the railway is electrified, but the southern part, including the section from Marakand to Karshi, uses diesel locomotives which are slower and carry less freight. In addition, passenger and freight traffic has been growing steadily, putting existing facilities under strain and creating bottlenecks.

“This upgrade will improve regional connectivity along a vital transit route, cut transport costs, lessen greenhouse gas emissions and boost trade,” said Zheng Wu, a Transport Specialist at ADB’s Central and West Asia Department.

The project runs through remote, underdeveloped districts in the two provinces and better transport links will allow them to step up exports of their main commodities including cotton, horticulture products, marble, oil and gas.

The ongoing upgrade of the line, including a separate section being cofinanced by the Government of Japan, will also allow Afghanistan to take advantage of the ADB-funded Hairatan to Mazar-e-Sharif railway, which provides a critical link to Uzbekistan and beyond.

Along with physical improvements, which include an overhead power line, traction substations, modern signaling and telecommunication equipment, the project will provide training and other support to state-run rail operator, Uzbekistan Temir Yullari, to manage the new system. ADB is the lead development partner in Uzbekistan’s rail transport sector and the project builds on two earlier railway modernization and rehabilitation investments.

The Government of Uzbekistan and Uzbekistan Temir Yullari will provide counterpart funds equivalent to $76 million for a total investment cost of $176 million. The state rail operator will execute the project which is due for completion by March 2016.


Copyright PPI (Pakistan Press International), 2011

‘International forces behind Dir, Chitral attacks’

‘International forces behind Dir, Chitral attacks’

A view of the Lowari Tunnel in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa situated between Dir and Chitral district. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: While the foreign office remains firm in its stance that Pakistan has been forced to retaliate against Afghan militant attacks, a senior official of the defence ministry has claimed that foreign forces in Afghanistan are behind recent cross border attacks in Pakistan.

According to the official, international forces raised a Coalition Special Operation Force (CSOF) to ‘directly and indirectly attack security forces and civilians in the bordering towns of Pakistan’.

He further told The Express Tribune that Islamabad had filed formal complaints with the US and Nato against armed attacks on its security forces in Dir and Chitral. “We are waiting for their reply,” he added while requesting anonymity.

American news website the Long War Journal in a report last week confirmed that the CSOF was fighting against the Taliban in Afganistan’s Nuristan province – an area mostly under the control of the Taliban and other allied fighting groups.

Furthermore, noted strategy expert Brig Shaukat Qadir told The Express Tribune that the CSOF, which, he said, was established by the US to sponsor violence in Pakistan, was used by foreign forces to attack Pakistani bordering towns.

Meanwhile, a senior official in the foreign affairs ministry has confirmed that several rockets were recently fired as ‘retaliatory action’ on militants by Pakistani security forces in the Afghan province of Kunar.

The official made it clear that the attacks were part of retaliatory action against the militants who in the last two months have been constantly attacking Pakistani security forces and defence installations in Dir and Chitral from Kunar.

While the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has repeatedly blamed US and Nato forces in Afghanistan for sponsoring militant attacks on civilian and security forces in Dir and Chitral, the foreign affairs ministry refrains from accusing foreign troops.

“We are aware that a third party is directly involved in anti-Pakistan violence in our tribal regions,” the source said while requesting anonymity.

Ruling out Afghanistan

“Islamabad is aware that the Afghan government is not responsible for the border violations,” the foreign office source said, adding that a militarily fragile country would not attack Pakistan on its own.

He also referred to the recent statement by the Afghan foreign ministry’s spokesman regarding the ongoing tug-of-war between Pakistan and the United States. He said Kabul was perturbed by the development. “The Afghan foreign ministry’s deputy spokesman Dr Faramarz Tamanna said that Afghanistan welcomes any regional and international pressure on Pakistan but believes that a deterioration of relationship between America and Pakistan can’t help regional peace”.

Pakistan’s foreign office believed that peace between Islamabad and Kabul was much more in the interest of Afghanistan. He said that after the recapture of the Waigal district in Nuristan by Afghani Taliban in March this year, foreign forces in Afghanistan sponsored attacks on the Pakistani bordering towns.

Published in The Express Tribune

Pakistan will be forced to retaliate, CIA chief told

Pakistan will be forced to retaliate, CIA chief told

” Pakistan has the capability to give a ‘befitting response’ to any attempts by the US to invade the tribal areas,” Senate Standing Committee on Defence chairman Javed Ashraf Qazi.

ISLAMABAD: The effort to ensure that diplomacy and calmer heads prevail at a time of fragile relations between Pakistan and the United States is on. However, the effort notwithstanding, Islamabad has made it clear to Washington that, if it comes down to it, Pakistan will be forced to retaliate if American forces attempt to launch a unilateral strike on the country’s tribal belt.

The message was personally delivered by Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) Chief Lt General Ahmed Shuja Pasha to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief General David Petraeus during his recent trip to Washington, said an official familiar with the development.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Express Tribune that Pasha had informed his counterpart that the Pakistani people will not tolerate any US misadventure and in that case the government will be left with no other option but to retaliate.

Senior ISI members, the official said, had felt ‘betrayed’ by the blunt assessment of the US Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen that the spy agency had links with the Afghan Taliban-allied Haqqani network. In a stinging remark, Mullen accused ISI of supporting one of the most feared Afghan insurgent groups to target US forces stationed in Afghanistan.

(Read: The political economy of confrontation)

But, in a closed-door meeting of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence on Tuesday, a senior ISI official said that the US was simply attempting to make Pakistan the ‘scapegoat’ to cover up its failures in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Sore wounds from the May 2 US raid in Abbottabad that killed Osama bin Laden were also reopened in the meeting when a lawmaker, quoting an ISI official, told the parliamentary panel that Pakistan will not tolerate any unilateral strike on its soil by US forces to target the alleged safe havens of the Haqqani network.

“We cannot be caught off guard this time,” the official told lawmakers, referring to the raid that embarrassed the country’s powerful security establishment about its ignorance of the world’s most wanted man’s whereabouts. “This time, we will give them a surprise if they (Americans) dare,” he said.

Speaking to reporters, committee chair Lt General (retd) Javed Ashraf Qazi confirmed that lawmakers had voiced serious concern over threats emanating from Washington. Qazi, who also served as ISI chief in the 90s, insisted that Pakistan had the capability to give a ‘befitting response’ to any attempts by the US to invade the tribal areas.

Meetings continue

A frenzy of meetings continued, meanwhile, in Islamabad. US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter is reported to have met Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir, for the second time in 24 hours, and later Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari.

The president also met Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani Zardari to discuss the situation.

A statement released by the media office of the President House said that the two leaders also discussed the all parties conference scheduled for September 29.

Reposing confidence in the ability of the democratic leadership to stand united at all times that call for unity, the president expressed hope that the country’s political leadership will be able to reach a consensus, the statement said.

Over in Washington, US Special Envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan Marc Grossman phoned the Pakistan Envoy to the US Hussain Haqqani in a bid to cool down the heated diplomatic state between the two countries.

Grossman said that the US and Pakistan were united on a wide range of issues, even though they differed over the Haqqani network.

We are funding the enemy: US congressman

Back in Washington, American congressmen were presented with an anti-Pakistan bill called the “Pakistan Accountability Act”, introduced by Congressman Ted Poe from Texas who is an outspoken critic of Pakistan.

“This so-called ally [Pakistan] continues to take billions in US aid, while at the same time supports militants who attack us,” US Congressman Ted Poe.

“This legislation will freeze all US aid to Pakistan with the exception of funds that are designated to help secure nuclear weapons,” says a transcript available on the Congressman’s website.

Citing Mullen’s statement on Pakistan supporting the Haqqani network, Poe said that, “Since the discovery of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan has proven to be disloyal, deceptive and a danger to the US. This so-called ally continues to take billions in US aid, while at the same time supports militants who attack us. The US must immediately freeze all aid to Pakistan. Pakistan has made it painfully obvious that they will continue their policy of duplicity and deceit by pretending to be our ally while simultaneously promoting violent extremism. By continuing to provide aid to Pakistan, we are funding the enemy, endangering Americans and undermining our efforts in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, the prime minister, in an interview with Reuters, also struck a defiant tone – clearly warning the US on Tuesday to stop accusing it of playing a double game with militants.

“The negative messaging, naturally that is disturbing my people,” Gilani said. “If there is messaging that is not appropriate to our friendship, then naturally it is extremely difficult to convince my public. Therefore they should be sending positive messages.”

He implied that the US’ recent ratcheting up of pressure on Pakistan reflected frustration with the war in Afghanistan. “Certainly they expected more results from Afghanistan, which they have not been able to achieve as yet,” he said. “They have not achieved what they visualized.”

(With additional reporting by Huma Imtiaz in Washington)

Published in The Express Tribune

Congress will be supportive of any action that the (US military) experts deem necessary

Use of bombers in Pakistan under study: US senator

I would say when it comes to defending American troops, you don’t want to limit yourself: Senator Lindsey Graham.—AFP

WASHINGTON: Support is growing in the US Congress for expanding American military action in Pakistan beyond drone strikes already used to target militants in Pakistani territory, a senior Republican US senator says.

The comments by Senator Lindsey Graham, an influential Republican voice on foreign policy and military affairs, follow remarks by the top US military officer, Admiral Mike Mullen, accusing Pakistan last week of supporting the militant Haqqani network’s Sept 13 attack on the US embassy in Kabul.

Graham said in an interview on Tuesday that US lawmakers might support military options beyond the drone strikes that have been going on for years inside Pakistani territory.

Those options may include using US bomber planes within Pakistan.

The South Carolina Republican said he did not advocate sending US ground troops into Pakistan.“I would say when it comes to defending American troops, you don’t want to limit yourself,” Graham said. “This is not a boots-on-the-ground engagement — I’m not talking about that, but we have a lot of assets beyond drones.”

“A perfect world … would be Afghan, Pakistan and (US and Nato) coalition forces working jointly on both sides of border to deny safe havens, inside of Afghanistan and on the other side,” in Pakistan’s western tribal regions from which the Haqqani network and other militants are believed to operate, Graham said.

Graham said US lawmakers will think about stepping up the military pressure. “If people believe it’s gotten to the point that that is the only way really to protect our interests I think there would be a lot of support,” Graham said.

The Haqqani network is allied with Afghanistan’s Taliban and is believed to have close links to Al Qaeda. It fights US and Nato forces in eastern Afghanistan, operating out of bases in Pakistan’s North Waziristan.

US drone aircraft in recent years have targeted mostly al Qaeda figures rather than Haqqani militants.


Increased US military action on Pakistani soil, including the idea of US soldiers crossing the porous border from Afghanistan, would be deeply unpopular in Pakistan. Pakistan viewed the US military raid in May that killed Al Qaeda chief Osama in Laden in a Pakistani garrison town as a grievous breach of its sovereignty.

“Don’t underestimate how we feel about those who try to kill our troops,” Graham said in the interview.

“My belief is that Congress will be supportive of any action that the (US military) experts deem necessary to protect lives of American soldiers” in Afghanistan.

The tense ties between Pakistan and the United States worsened last week after Mullen, the chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the Haqqani network as a “veritable arm” of Pakistan’s ISI spy agency.

Graham, known as a hawk, said on Sunday that the United States must consider all options “including defending our troops” in confronting Pakistani support for militant networks active in Afghanistan.

Such remarks from the US Congress, where patience has worn thin with Pakistan, have intensified speculation that the United States might resort to another cross-border raid such as the one that killed bin Laden, intensify drone attacks in Pakistan’s lawless tribal regions or send in bomber planes to attack militant hide-outs.

Lawmakers are proposing to restrict US aid to Pakistan by placing more rigorous conditions under which Pakistan, which possesses nuclear arms but is desperately poor, can access American military and economic assistance.

The United States has been frustrated by what it sees as Pakistan’s unwillingness to stamp out militants like the Haqqanis and the Taliban in Afghanistan, where US forces have been engaged in a war for the past decade.—Reuters

CIA Death Squad Responsible For Dumping 35 ‘Dead Zetas’ On Veracruz Highway


Responsible For Dumping 35 ‘Dead Zetas’ On Veracruz Highway


Last July, reported that the CIA death squad known as ‘Los Matazetas’ (Killers of Zetas) was going to start a war against Los Zetas in the state of Veracruz.

By Mario Andrade
September 26, 2011

Last week, motorists in Veracruz, Mexico witnessed a gruesome scene where over a dozen armed men wearing face hoods created a road block and dumped 35 dead bodies at a busy highway. The armed men used two stolen commercial trucks to transport the bodies, then cleverly left the trucks and the bodies beneath an underpass in the town of Boca de Rio. The armed ‘sicarios’ then left a banner stating that the bodies were of members of Los Zetas and drove away with no police or military presence to stop them. Each dead body had the letter ‘Z’ carved.

Mexican authorities have recently announced that the criminal organization responsible for the massacre is the Jalisco Cartel (New Generation). The ‘new generation’ Jalisco Drug Cartel is a subsidiary branch of the CIA-backed Sinaloa Drug Cartel, headed by Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman –a man who has smuggled cocaine into the U.S. onboard CIA rendition aircraft, and a man who according to Vicente Zambada’s federal court testimony, is a DEA operative.

Last July, reported that a CIA death squad known as ‘Los Matazetas’ had announced their intentions to remove Los Zetas from the state of Veracruz. Los Matazetas is a death squad created by the new generation Jalisco Drug Cartel. In recent months, the CIA-backed Sinaloa Drug Cartel removed the original members of the Jalisco Cartel and placed their own operatives in the region in order to prevent a takeover by the Knights Templar, Los Zetas, or the Beltran-Leyva syndicate (Barbie Valdez’s previous criminal organization).

Yesterday, the death squad known as Los Matazetas posted a video on Youtube (also posted at the websiteBlog del Narco) describing how they plan to eliminate Los Zetas from the state of Veracruz and eventually, from Mexico.

In the video, the man speaking at the center of the table uses sophisticated Spanish vocabulary –unlike the typical street drug gang language used in most execution videos. The spokesman probably has a university graduate level degree (master’s degree or higher). His tone of voice and vocabulary is similar to that of a university professor or a high-ranking politician.

It is important to mention that in 1993, in Colombia, the CIA and U.S. special forces (Delta Force) created the death squad known as Los PEPES, which was acronym for people who are persecuted by Pablo Escobar. Los PEPES used guerrilla warfare tactics to eliminate Pablo Escobar and his drug cartel operatives. Much like Los Matazetas, Los PEPES used similar messages and psy-ops, painting themselves as Robin Hoodstrying to protect the average people from certain evil drug lords. Though in reality, they are just eliminating the competing criminal organizations that are not affiliated with the federation of cartels, led by the CIA-Sinaloa alliance. Many of the members of Los Matazetas and the New Generation Jalisco Cartel are former operatives of CIA asset Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Coronel’s organization – the man who was in charge of the CIA rendition flights that transported cocaine into the United States.

Below is the video and a Deadline Live exclusive verbatim translation of it:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Video: Narcocomunicado de Los Mata-Zetas | Blog…, posted with vodpod

Good afternoon.

At 16:00 hours of this Saturday 24 of September of 2011, we issue the following announcement.

To the federal, state and municipal authorities, and society in general.

As you may already know, the public safety problems in our country have now began to transcend all political, economic and military sectors, affecting those who are the most vulnerable due to the circumstances created by their own way of life.

We make mention of this so it can be understood what our role is in this problem. Due to our ethical values, we forbid our organization to engage in extortion, kidnapping, robbery, intimidation, or any other activity that negatively affects the moral fabric, family values or the peace of mind (of the population).

Motivated by personal experiences of those of us who now form part of this force, which constitutes the enforcing arm of the people and for the people, our only interest and objective is the cartel known as Los Zetas. Thus, we respect the armed forces, which we understand that they cannot act outside the limits of the law like we do.

We condemn the bad public servants, whom with their support, they allow this segment of society continue to harm mainly the communities in the port of Veracruz, Boca del Río, Cardel, Jalapa, Poza Rica, Tuxpan, Panuco, Córdoba, Orizaba, Perote, San Andrés Tuxtla, Martínez de la Torre, Minatitlán, Acayucan, Alvarado, Coatzacoalcos and other municipalities in the state of Veracruz.

We do not elude our responsibilities; however, only by leveling the plane field (fighting in their turf) can Los Zetas be eradicated at the root. As a result, we ask of these public servants to stop supporting them; for the armed forces to be certain that our own objective is to annihilate Los Zetas; and for the society in general to be sure and to trust that we, Los Matazetas do not kidnap or extort, and we will never go against our national heritage. We respect federal and local government institutions in their fight against organized crime. We understand their position of not collaborating with us, which obligates us to operate clandestinely but always for the good of the Mexican people.

We are anonymous and faceless warriors, but we are proud to be Mexicans. Let us not fall in the trap of foreign enemies, who are experts at delivering betrayal, deceit, discredit, and malice, shielding themselves in their so-called ‘respect of God and democracy.’

Again, we reiterate to the local and federal authorities that our fight is against Los Zetas, and if with our recent acts (the dumping of the dead Zetas on the street), we offendeded society, the people of Mexico and the federal entities, we would like to offer our apologies on behalf of our entire group.

What we intended to do was to show the people of Veracruz that these individuals are not invincible. Thus, we ask you not to fall victim of them. Do not continue to allow yourselves to be extorted by them.

Everyone has his own fears and struggles. We are all one heart.

Thank you.



Not A Single Afghan Battalion Fights Without U.S. Help

Not A Single Afghan Battalion Fights Without U.S. Help

Updated 2 p.m.

Ten years of war. Two years of an accelerated effort to train Afghans to take over that fight, at an annual cost of $6 billion. And not a single Afghan army battalion can operate without assistance from U.S. or allied units.

That was the assessment made by the officer responsible for training those Afghan soldiers, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell. Out of approximately 180 Afghan National Army battalions, only two operate “independently.” Except that “independently,” in Caldwell’s National Training Mission-Afghanistan command, means something different than “independently” does in the States.

Those two “independent” battalions still require U.S. support for their maintenance, logistics and medical systems,” Caldwell admitted when Pentagon reporters pressed him on Monday morning.

“Today, we haven’t developed their systems to enable them to do that yet,” Caldwell said.


Building up foreign armies isn’t easy. During 2008’s battle for Basra, Iraqi forces relied heavily on U.S. and British support — and still saw more than a thousand desertions. That was four years after then Maj. Gen. David Petraeus took over the training of the Iraqi military.

For the past two years, Caldwell’s overseen a big push to expand, professionalize and train Afghan soldiers and cops. Caldwell has gotten bodies into uniforms: the Afghan army and police total 305,516 today, up from 196,508 last December, and they’re “on track,” Caldwell says, to reach 352,000 by November 2012.

Caldwell praised Afghan police officers during the Taliban’s audacious attack on Kabul earlier this month. Two separate cops “literally did a bear hug” on separate suicide bombers in different places around the city, sacrificing themselves in the process. “Policemen were doing heroic deeds,” Caldwell said.

But most of Afghanistan’s men in uniform can’t read at a kindergarten level, much less understand the instrument panels on a helicopter or the serial numbers on their rifles.

That’s one reason why it’ll be years before the U.S. takes its training wheels off the Afghan soldiers’ bikes. Although the Obama administration plans to turn the war over to forces Caldwell trains by 2014, Caldwell told Danger Room in June that the Afghans will need U.S. training until as late as 2017.

That is, if attrition doesn’t get in the way. Caldwell expressed alarm that 1.4 percent of Afghan cops and 2.3 percent of Afghan soldiers walk off the job every month, saying that if “left unchecked [attrition] could undo much of the progress made to date.” Yet last week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified that attrition rates are “as much as three percent per month.

Asked by Danger Room about the increase, Caldwell simply said that the “goal we’ve set” is a 1.4 monthly attrition level across both forces. In the Afghan National Army, attrition “has been steady over the last year. We have not seen the decline,” Caldwell said.

Then there’s the nagging issue of human rights. “U.S. officials have for years been aware of credible allegations that newly-installed Kandahar police chief [Brigadier General Abdul] Raziq and his menparticipated in a cold-blooded massacre of civilians,” writes Matthieu Aikins, in a gut-wrenching new expose for The Atlantic. Yet Raziq has been showered with cash and official praises from the highest level of the American-led coalition in Afghanistan.

Caldwell has instituted an additional 18 hours of training on respecting Afghans’ rights into the eight-week course that the typical would-be Afghan cop takes. But Caldwell doesn’t train every Afghan cop. Members of a program called the Afghan Local Police — founded in 2010 by Petraeus to recruit auxiliaries against the Taliban — has been implicated in “killings, rape, arbitrary detention, abductions, forcible land grabs, and illegal raids by irregular armed groups,” according to a Human Rights Watch report issued this month.

Special Operations Forces are responsible for turning these groups into respectable units. When Danger Room asked if it was time for Caldwell to take over that training, Caldwell said, “We’ve not been asked to at this point… If there is a request for us to help and become engaged in that, we obviously would. But at this point, I think the special forces element that has the responsibility for that clearly sees and understands what that report says. We all take that very seriously.”

With insurgents assassinating the man in charge of negotiating a peace deal, the Afghan security forces are the backbone of the U.S.’ long-term plan for Afghan security. During his Senate testimony on Thursday, Panetta called their development “one of the most notable successes” of the war.

Yet not only can no Afghan army battalion operate without U.S. aid, the U.S. has been purchasing them a lot of creature comforts. Caldwell said that his command recently stopped buying air conditioning units for Afghan barracks, replacing them with fans instead — part of an effort to pare down the $6 billion that it costs to keep the Afghan security forces going. Caldwell said he expects that number to drop — in part because someday Afghanistan won’t be ravaged by insurgency (maybe, hopefully) — but he doesn’t know how much it’ll drop by, or by when.

“I’m still very realistic about the challenges out there,” Caldwell said.

Update: I misheard Caldwell during today’s Pentagon briefing when he discussed the goal he’s set for monthly attrition rates. Thanks to his public-affairs officer, Lt. Col. Shawn Stroud, for alerting me to my mistake.

Photo: Flickr/DVIDSHUB

Civilians accuse NATO of massacre in Sirte raids

THE civilians pouring out of the besieged city of Sirte accused NATO of genocide yesterday as rebel forces called in reinforcements and prepared for a fresh assault on Muammar Gaddafi’s home town.

Long lines of civilian vehicles were leaving after a night of NATO air attacks on the town. Rebel forces fighting for the National Transitional Council added artillery and mortar fire.

The people leaving the town, many looking scared, said conditions inside Sirte were disastrous. They made claims which, if verified, are a challenge for NATO – which operates under a UN mandate to protect civilians – saying the NATO bombing raids hit homes, schools and hospitals.

“It was worse than awful,” said Riab Safran, 28, as his car was searched by rebel fighters outside Sirte. His family had slept on the beach because the houses were being bombed, he said. “They hit all kinds of buildings – schools, hospitals,” he said.

He could not distinguish between the NATO bombs and the rebels shells, he said, but believed it was a NATO bomb that destroyed his home on Saturday.

NATO said its warplanes bombed a number of military targets, including a rocket launcher, artillery and ammunition stores.

Some of those interviewed said the Gaddafi forces were making people stay in the city. Others said residents were frightened of the rebel fighters, who were reported to be abducting women from cars trying to leave Sirte. NTC fighters denied the charges.

Residents said power and water had run out and petrol was 88 Libyan dinars ($72) a litre. The water shortage has produced an epidemic of diseases, according to medical staff at a clinic in the town of Harawa, 40km east of Sirte.

But the Gaddafi forces had supplies of ammunition, pasta, oil, flour and food, residents said. They used an open radio channel to taunt the rebels, insisting the city would never be taken.

Meanwhile, Libya’s transitional justice minister said he had imposed a measure abolishing the country’s state security, prosecution and courts, which sentenced regime opponents to prison.

At a press conference in Tripoli, Mohammed al-Alagi said he had signed the order to disband the security agencies, but it still needed approval by the NTC.

He said the order included the abolition of a special court where many opposition members were sentenced to life in prisons such as Abu Salim in Tripoli, where inmates were reportedly massacred by the Gaddafi regime.

Rebel leaders are pressing ahead with efforts to do away with some of the hated remnants of the former regime even though fighting continues and Gaddafi’s whereabouts remain unknown.

In a boost to Libya’s economy, Italian and French energy companies have begun oil production in Libya after months of civil war, a potential economic lifeline for the new government.

Officials of the transitional administration are still awaiting international action to unfreeze billions of dollars in Libya’s assets. They say the funds unfrozen so far are not enough to rebuild the country after 42 years of the Gaddafi regime.

The de facto prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, asked the UN Security Council to lift some of the economic sanctions on Libya, but said NATO should stay until civilians were no longer being killed.

Italian energy giant Eni said yesterday it had resumed oil production in Libya. By Monday, 15 major wells had been tapped, producing 31,900 barrels of oil a day.

French energy company Total said it also started oil production in Libya last week.

Additional reporting: AP

Why did US/NATO Go To Such Trouble To Avoid Taking the NDN Through Turkmenistan?

[What demands did Turkmenistan make upon the US for permission to take the Northern Distribution Network through a narrow strip of its territory that Uzbekistan did not make in deals for right-of-way through the entire nation, from end to end?]

  Global map–elevations, interactive

[The NDN railway system follows approximately the same course as the yellow road (M-39) in the screen-shot above.  Considering that most of both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are approx. 250 meters above sea level, it is extremely strange that the US would agree to test their capabilities to the max, with every shipment going over the NDN rail lines into Uzbekistan.  Why build a rail line with very steep grades, through territory that was 1500 meters (5,000 feet) above sea level?]


REF: 09 TOKYO 2590
CLASSIFIED BY: Robert McCutcheon, Econ Officer, State, Pol/Econ
Office; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
that Uzbekistan Railroads is having difficulty operating freight
trains on its new Karshi-Termez line. Obsolete locomotives with
inadequate brakes result in multiple delays and wheels that glow
red hot by the time a train has completed the mountain crossing.

2. (C) On November 9 we met with XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX
is heavily involved XXXXXXXXXXXX in the construction and
operation of Uzbek Railroad’s new line through the mountains from
Karshi to Termez. The natural, geographically dictated routing
from Karshi to Termez is via Turkmenistan, but after independence
in 1991, the GOU made the strategic decision to reduce its
dependence on routes through now foreign territory. This new
line, partially funded by XXXXXXXXXXXX, avoids Turkmen territory but has to
contend with steep mountain grades. The first trains rolled down
the new track in early 2009.
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that there have been difficulties operating
trains over the Karshi-Termez line. Most locomotives used by Uzbek
Railroads are built to the same design as U.S. lend-lease
locomotives given to the Soviet Union in World War II. Soviet
engineers copied this design and used it to produce locomotives
that came to form a significant portion of Soviet rolling stock.
The problem with Uzbekistan’s legacy Soviet locomotives is that
they were never intended for use in mountainous terrain. They have
inadequate brakes and must be operated at slow speed. On the
descents, the brakes in all wagons are applied continuously, thus
necessitating frequent stops so that the wheels can cool. XXXXXXXXXXXX
told us that by the time trains have descended from the mountains,
the wheels are glowing red hot.

the next phase for the Karshi-Termez
rail line will be electrification. This will be accomplished in
four stages over a five-year period, with the steepest grades being electrified first. The cost is expected to be $550 million USD;
this includes provision for purchase of Chinese manufactured
electric locomotives.
6. (C) Only when the electrification program is complete will the
Karshi-Termez line be able to transport freight at full capacity.
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us he is worried, however, that the electrification
program is competing for priority within XXXXXXXXXXXX with a program to
rebuild power generation stations in Uzbekistan.

7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us he was appalled at how long it takes to
transport anything by rail in Uzbekistan. About 70 percent of rail
traffic is freight, but a typical train carries only half the
freight per wagon as a U.S. wagon — 50 tons instead of 100 tons.
From conversations with Uzbek engineers, XXXXXXXXXXXX said the limitation
appears to be not the trains but the quality of the steel used in
the tracks. He described the tracks as brittle and thus subject to
fracture if higher loads are transported.

Ukraine Seeking 7-Year Sentence for Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko

Ukraine wants jail term for former leader

Police blocked supporters of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine yesterday.
Police blocked supporters of former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko in Ukraine yesterday. (Sergey Polezhaka/AFP/Getty Images)
Associated Press / September 28, 2011

KIEV – Ukrainian prosecutors asked a judge yesterday to sentence former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko to seven years in prison on charges she abused her office in signing a gas import contract with Russia in 2009, Tymoshenko’s office said.

Prosecutor Liliya Frolova also asked Judge Rodion Kireyev to bar Tymoshenko from occupying government posts for three years and fine her $190,000 for the alleged damages she caused the state energy company Naftogaz, said Natasha Lysova, a spokeswoman for Tymoshenko. Prosecutors were not available for comment.

Tymoshenko stands accused of violating legal procedures when concluding the gas agreement with Moscow at a price prosecutors believe was inflated. She maintains her innocence and says the trial is an attempt by her longtime enemy, President Viktor Yanukovych, to bar her from upcoming elections as a convicted felon.

Tymoshenko was jailed during her trial on Aug. 5 on charges of contempt of court.

© Copyright 2011 Globe Newspaper Company.

Uzbekistan: In Namangan, all students went to the “cotton front”

[Despite denials given by the Uzbek press like the first article given below, the school children of Uzbekistan are still being drafted into government service, picking cotton, instead of pouring over their school books (not that studying will help them that much considering other reports of rewritten Uzbek school books, to remove Russian language and Soviet teachings).]

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Uzbekistan: In Namangan, all students went to t…, posted with vodpod

The ‘white gold’ of Uzbekistan; photo:

Residents of Tashkent drafted in to harvest cotton

For the first time since Uzbekistan gained its independence, public and private organisations and companies in the capital, Tashkent, received notification ‘from above’ on 22 September that they were to send personnel out into the fields to harvest cotton.

“My wife works as a nanny in a nursery, and last week the manager told her she had to go and harvest cotton, but I wouldn’t let her. I’d rather she resigned,” said Erkin, who lives in Tashkent. He is worried about his wife’s health, he says, and wonders why she should be sent out, without knowing where, leaving their two young children confused as to why their mother is not at home.

Workers at one Tashkent machinery plant told that they heard last Thursday that they would be sent to harvest cotton. “Our director told us the district authority had issued the demand and then a list went up with 50 names on it of people to be sent out on the Sunday.”

Responsibility for calling up labour from different organisations is the responsibility of various government ministries.

“On Friday, 30 people went, and another 20 were due to go into the fields on Monday, says Nargis, a doctor at the Institute of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. She has heard that the Public Health Ministry decreed that each district had to send out 1,000 people for a period of 10 days, and thinks that the ministry has “finally lost all sense of reality.” “Who is going to attend births if we’re not here?” she asks.

Niyaz-aka, the president of one Tashkent self-government committee, said “Our local committee got the order to send people out to harvest cotton – I have never heard such nonsense in all my 70 years,” he says. The committee only has two members of staff itself, Niyaz-aka says, and if he told local people to go out to pick cotton he knows what they’d do to him.

“On Sunday the secretary of Chilanzar district accident repair service called me and told me that I was definitely being sent to the cotton fields,” says Ravshan, the leader of an association of private landlords in Chilanzar. He categorically refused, because his association serves the residents of two blocks of flats and exists for those residents alone, he says – they have no interest in sending people out to pick cotton.

Higher education students in the capital, who in Soviet times would certainly have been drafted in to make up any shortfall in the agricultural workforce, have curiously been exempted from this latest call for cotton labourers.

“They sent a group of the administrative staff and teachers out to the fields, so now it’s older people who have to hold down a job together with this extra work,” said one teacher from the University of Economics. He assumes the reason that students are not affected is that the majority of them are now studying on a contractual basis – the parents of these students would be more likely to protest if they found out that their children were being sent out to damage their health in the cotton plantations.

“I don’t give the college a huge sum of money ever year so that, instead of studying, my son can be forced into an unhealthy cotton field, says Nodira Muminova, the mother of a student at Technical University.

Wealthier residents of Tashkent who find themselves on ‘the list’ of labourers at least have the opportunity of using the cotton harvest to take an additional holiday.

“I don’t want to harvest cotton and I’ll pay whomever I have to and go on holiday for a month,” says Shukhrat, a worker at a private company in Chilanzar whose company received an order from the local administration committee to send people out for cotton.

The only thing Shukhrat is concerned about is that the managers of his firm will decide to nominate the cotton labourers directly and he will have to give up his dream of a holiday.

For Tashkent residents, who have almost never been forced to go and harvest cotton since Uzbekistan has been independent, having to toil in such a way is a new development, but in the more rural regions of Uzbekistan this practice is entirely normal.

“At the beginning of September it was suggested that I might want to pay 300,000 sums instead of going out to harvest cotton, but I didn’t have the money,” says 53-year-old Dilfuza, a tacher in Narbek village outside Tasheknt.

Dilfuza says that working conditions are diabolical when she was sent to pick cotton near the town of Akkurgan in Urtachirchick district of Tashkent region. She lasted one week before going home to borrow 300,000 sums from her neighbours who had been spared from the cotton harvest.

The money raised by forcing people to buy their way out of this compulsory labour is not used to bribe officials but to pay unemployment benefits. According to Dilfuza there are hundreds of unemployed people now labouring in the cotton fields around Akkurgan.

In the village of Dustabad in Urtachirchick district, there is no work, and people exist on occasional work and are prepared to pick cotton to earn a living.

On the plantations where we harvest cotton, the pay isn’t bad in comparison with other farms. If there are lots of volunteers, then you get 150 sums per kilogram, but if there aren’t many volunteers you get 200 sums, says 35-year-old Marina Dustabada. She says that in order to harvest 50 kilograms of cotton she has to get up at 6am and stay out until 7pm. Marina says that if someone from Tashkent gave her 300,000 sums then she would still go out and pick cotton every day.

For the vast majority of Tashkent residents sent out en masse by the authorities cotton harvest is a very unpleasant shock.

“I never thought that 20 years after Uzbekistan became a capitalist country, they would lead me out like a sheep to pick cotton, as if Soviet times had never ended,’ says 56-year-old Mumin-aka, an engineer from a company in Tashkent.

Uzbekistan: In Namangan, all students went to the “cotton front”


Students in Uzbekistan collect cotton from September to December. “Fergana” monitoring this issue for several years. In the picture: the cotton harvest in 2006. Read more – in a special section “Cotton” .

*September 12-13, students second, third and fourth years of almost all universities the Uzbek city of Namangan went to pick cotton, according to correspondents “Fergana” in the Ferghana Valley.

As we already reported , the mass harvesting of cotton in Uzbekistan has begun this year in late August. According to unconfirmed until the data has been sent to the fields of university students and college Surkhandarya, Kashkadarya and Bukhara regions.

As it became known that only in Namangan on the plantation (though, as usual) a few days are going to send even the freshmen. “Today, students have taken the Namangan State University, Polytechnic and Textile Institute has sent its students yesterday,” – said the correspondent, “Fergana”.

Note, in the city of Namangan half a million – three higher educational institutions.

Cotton harvest touched and special secondary schools. Namangan College of Law was among the first brought their students to clap. Traditionally, the school has helped to pick cotton in the distant “State Farm” (the locals still call the habit farming collective and state farms) Navbahor.

“Medical College until the cotton is not sent, but it seems that the school has its students take out the next few days” – According to sources, “Fergana”.

Students are sent to the cotton in Andijan columns. September 9, 2011.

It should be noted that the fate of being “called upon” to “cotton front,” touches not all college students and college. Do not go for cotton students who pay off the “labor service.” Although today indulgence of cotton is not cheap. The price for exemption from agricultural work this year is about 200 U.S. dollars. It is noteworthy that the money will be entered in the books almost legally deans: money will be spent on the formation of a special fund directed at improving the life of students, as well as to bribe Vyesovshchikov hlopkozagotovitelnyh points.Unfortunately, human rights activists, international organizations and journalists often do not have the physical capacity to come to the cotton fields, to conduct monitoring of the use of forced labor or make a report. The Uzbek government in every way hinders transparency in this matter, leveraging the police, local informants from the Mahalla (quarter) committees to stop all attempts to capture the work of the students and adult residents in the harvest of “white gold”.

Nevertheless, the information is received. Revision “Fergana” grateful to readers who responded to the call to tell us news from the field. In mail “Fergana” as well ascomments received constant information to send to the field of juveniles.

“In Bukhara on Wednesday and Thursday, was taken to the plantation children college – wrote a guest of our site,” Rasul “. – They promised that just before the end of October. Conditions – as always spartan. Shed with a dirt floor. With a clamshell taken, warm clothes, and grub in the form of dry rations. Phones did not take the place of communication, there is not. ”

“Please light the situation with teachers on cotton! – Wrote “The Teacher.” – It’s a nightmare! What would otmazatsya of cotton, a teacher needs from 100 to 200 dollars! You still need to go to work and work for those who could not pay and went to the cotton. However, one teacher conducts classes at once in 2-3 grades, respectively, there is absolutely no training! It turns out that children do not learn until December! Please write an article about it, I am sure that the material about teachers and doctors in the cotton you’ll find plenty. ”

The international news agency “Fergana”

Pakistani tribesmen threaten US with holy war

Pakistani tribesmen threaten US with holy war

Leader of the Pakistan’s Islamic hard line Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Qazi Hussain Ahmed (L) addresses to tribesmen during a protest in Landikotal, a town on Pakistan’s northwestern border with Afghanistan. -AFP Photo

LANDIKOTAL: Hundreds of Pakistani tribesmen on Tuesday threatened the United States with holy war, lashing out at demands for action against Al-Qaeda-linked Haqqani extremists based in Pakistan.

There is growing unease in Pakistan about US pressure to take on the Haqqani network or face the consequences, with the military saying it is too over-stretched fighting local Taliban to open a new front against a US enemy.

Having accused the network of orchestrating recent attacks on its embassy in Kabul and a Nato base in Afghanistan, with Pakistani intelligence involvement, Washington now says it is considering branding the network a terror group.

Any such move could complicate future efforts to negotiate a settlement in Afghanistan and, given US claims about government ties to the network, risk Pakistan being branded a state sponsor of terror, local analysts warned.

On Tuesday, hundreds of tribesmen gathered in Landikotal, a town on Pakistan’s northwestern border with Afghanistan, mobilised by religious party Jamaat-e-Islami to protest against the United States.

Waving party flags and wearing ribbons inscribed with Koranic verses, dozens of tribesmen joined the throng armed with Kalashnikovs, an AFP reporter said.

“We announce the holy war against America if they attack Pakistan,” Siraj-Ul-Haq, the party’s deputy head, told the gathering.

“The whole nation will wage a jihad against America and will fight against them shoulder to shoulder with Pakistani armed forces,” Haq added.

JI has no seats in the national assembly, but anti-Americanism is rampant in the country of 167 million, fuelled by beliefs that Islamist militancy is a direct result of the US war in Afghanistan.

Before setting off for Landikotal, the crowd chanted slogans such as “Death to America”, Allah Akhbar (God is great) and al-Jihad (holy war).

Although nothing suggests the United States is considering a cross-border incursion, Pakistanis fear action from American ground troops.

The alliance between Pakistan and the United States in the 10-year war in Afghanistan and against Al-Qaeda hit rock bottom this year in the wake of the unilateral American raid that killed Osama bin Laden near Islamabad on May 2.

The Haqqani group was founded by former CIA asset turned Al-Qaeda ally Jalaluddin Haqqani, who was close to Pakistan and the US spy agency during the 1980s anti-Soviet resistance, and its leaders are based in North Waziristan.

Today the United States depends on Pakistan, largely for shipping the bulk of its supplies to the 140,000 US-led foreign troops in landlocked Afghanistan, but also to counter the threat from militants in the border areas.

BP Offers Desperation Solution to Nubucco, Trans-Adriatic, South Stream

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
BP proposes construction of 1,300 kilometers gas pipeline to Azerbaijan government. AFP photo
BP proposes construction of 1,300 kilometers gas pipeline to Azerbaijan government. AFP photo

Frustrated by the lack of progress regarding three projects to carry Caspian gas to Europe through Turkey, energy giant British Petroleum has put a fourth idea on the table, according to the Financial Times.

The idea, which may be offered to Baku soon, involves the construction of a 1,300-kilometer pipeline as

an alternative route, the FT said. “The scheme is a new entrant in the highly charged competition to build a supply route to the Caspian basin,” it said.

The proposal comes as an alternative to the Nabucco, the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline and the Interconnector-Turkey- Greece-Italy, or ITGI, schemes.

Speaking to the Hürriyet Daily News on Tuesday, Murat LeCompte, press spokesman for BP Turkey, recalled that companies within these three projects will present their tariff offers to the Shah Deniz consortium on Saturday, regarding the extraction and transfer of Shah Deniz gas. The consortium consists of nine companies, with BP and Statoil as the biggest shareholders. Turkey’s state oil company TPAO has a 10 percent stake in the consortium.

The consortium has to decide on which route to take by the end of the year.

BP’s offer “is a fourth, stand-alone project, an idea,” LeCompte said. “The idea is that the gas pipeline [starting from the Caspian] and going through Turkey will be constructed, and every country will take the gas by using its own network.”

The idea is suggested by BP, but it is open to “other participants,” LeCompte told the Daily News.

BP’s South-East Europe Pipeline has emerged before a crucial deadline, FT said.

On Saturday, Nabucco and its two competitors will present their tariff offers to the Shah Deniz consortium, which includes both BP and Azerbaijan’s state run energy company Socar.

Two-faced US exposed again

By Jalees Hazir

Last week’s events should make our leadership wiser regarding the US and the hypocritical games of death and destruction it plays on the world stage, all in the name of peace and freedom. To begin with, on top of a well-baked cake of accusations directed at its battered ally Pakistan, the superpower bully put a dangerous icing. The ISI was named by top US military and government officials for orchestrating the attack on the US Embassy in Kabul, and several other terrorist attacks in Afghanistan, through the Haqqani network that has been declared a veritable arm of the ISI. If this was not a declaration of war, the US is certainly warming up to it. Meanwhile, by putting its full weight against the Palestinian bid for statehood, the US was exposed at the UN as a veto-wielding proxy for the menace called the State of Israel. What kind of world does the US want? And how does the stumbling superpower want to rule it?
Take the case of Palestine. Nowhere is the US doublespeak more obvious than in the case of Palestine that has been consistently and increasingly colonised by Israel, since the State was created. The Palestinian people have been marginalised and repressed in their homeland, their settlements barricaded and bombed, killing innocent civilians and their land forcibly occupied. After 20 years of peace negotiations led by the US, the cruel colonisation and murder of Palestinians at the hands of a belligerent Israel continues. For any non-partisan observer, it is clear as daylight that the failure of the peace process rests squarely on Israel’s shoulder, and for the peace negotiations to bear any fruit, Israel will have to abide by agreements reached in the process. But instead of using its superpower weight to persuade Israel to change its racist and colonialist policies and fulfil its commitments, the US has decided to threaten the Palestinians.
When tired of the meaningless peace process and a biased mediator, the Palestinians decided to knock at the UN door and the conscience of the contemporary human civilisation, the US showed its true colours by doing all it could to block the Palestinian efforts. It is putting diplomatic pressure on members of the Security Council to vote against the Palestinian request for full UN membership and has threatened to veto it if it comes to that. This is not the first time that the US would use its veto power to shield Israel. The unprincipled superpower has used it on 40 previous occasions to protect the illegal and criminal acts of its ally from international censure and action. The message to the Palestinians is that instead of approaching the UN that was created to sort out such situations, they should continue talking to Israel. It doesn’t seem to matter that Israel is obviously deaf and 20 years of negotiations have got them nowhere.
Of course, Palestine is just one example of how the US policies have nothing to do with principles or fairplay. Take any principle that it espouses to put sanctions on, attack and occupy other countries, and you’d find it flouting the same principle and looking the other way where it suits its hegemonic agenda. Recently in Libya, it went in to save the civilians from a draconian dictator and ended up killing more civilians than the worst dictator could have imagined. It wants the world to punish Iran because it fears the country is making nuclear weapons, and at the same time it would like to reward India with all kinds of nuclear goodies for actually making them and announcing it to the world. It doesn’t seem to matter that its claims about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction that it used to declare war on Iraq were not only false, but also patently manufactured to justify the war. The list goes on and on and on.
So how credible is the US when it says something? Is the world not justified to think that whatever the badmash superpower says is actually intended to serve its hegemonic designs on the world? Even when it speaks the truth, it speaks only part of it, selecting parts that could further its imperialistic and violent agenda. Take the case of ISI, the recent target of US wrath. The much-maligned intelligence agency has many skeletons in its cupboard and has been routinely criticised by the Pakistan media, and for good reason. On the domestic front, the most serious charge against the agency has been its involvement in politics and engineering elections to get pre-determined results. There is sufficient reason to believe that the agency does not perform this unconstitutional role anymore. The other burden that the ISI carries is its patronage of militant groups since the days of the CIA-sponsored Afghan jihad that the US says is still continuing.
While who in ISI supports which faction in what way is a long debate, and definitely one that must take place after the US leaves Afghanistan, for now it is important to view the US onslaught against the agency in the context of the decade-long US involvement in the region and what it wants to achieve through it. The ISI, and the Pakistan military, has been the thorn in the side of the US imperialistic AfPak agenda. While the elected leadership has been too weak and dependent on the US to say “no” to anything the superpower bully wants, the military and ISI have resisted its desire to be given a freehand in the country to do what it wishes. It is no longer a secret what our superpower ally was wishing to do here. Perhaps, the biggest eye-opener was when, in the aftermath of the Raymond Davis affair and the Abbottabad operation, it was decided to scale down the CIA presence in the country, the US openly declared that it had created a local intelligence network in the country and did not need its own spies to do what was required.
Now, frustrated at its failure to push the Pakistan army into North Waziristan in line with its destabilising strategy, it has obviously decided to target the only serious impediment in its game plan. The seriousness of this latest charge is not lost on anyone but, unfortunately, the response from the Pakistan government gives the impression that there is still room for cooperation between the two countries. It took a long time for Pakistan’s security and intelligence apparatus to see through the devious and unreliable ways of the US. Hopefully, our elected leaders would also gather the courage to break the useless bond of slavery to a two-faced master.
The writer is an independent columnist.

Are We At War With Pakistan?

September 26, 2011

In the days before the Empire, generals – particularly Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs – kept their mouths shut. The Founders justified fears of military intrusion into the political realm were still present in the American consciousness, and the idea that an American general might try to influence policy directly, by making public statements on controversial political topics, was considered outside the norm. Today, however, no one is shocked by Admiral Mullen’s testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee that we are, for all intents and purposes, already at war with Pakistan:

“Extremist organizations serving as proxies of the government of Pakistan are attacking Afghan troops and civilians as well as U.S. soldiers. For example, we believe the Haqqani Network – which has long enjoyed the support and protection of the Pakistani government and is, in many ways, a strategic arm of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Agency – is responsible for the September 13th attacks against the U.S. Embassy in Kabul.

“There is ample evidence confirming that the Haqqanis were behind the June 28th attack against the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul and the September 10th truck bomb attack that killed five Afghans and injured another 96 individuals, 77 of whom were U.S. soldiers. History teaches us that it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today. The Quetta Shura and the Haqqani Network are hampering efforts to improve security in Afghanistan, spoiling possibilities for broader reconciliation, and frustrating U.S.-Pakistan relations. The actions by the Pakistani government to support them – actively and passively – represent a growing problem that is undermining U.S. interests and may violate international norms, potentially warranting sanction. In supporting these groups, the government of Pakistan, particularly the Pakistani Army, continues to jeopardize Pakistan’s opportunity to be a respected and prosperous nation with genuine regional and international influence.”

If the evidence is so “ample,” why didn’t Mullen reveal any of it during the course of his testimony? It’s “classified,” which means we ordinary mortals aren’t entitled to see it: we just have to take their word for it. In this context, however, their word isn’t worth a hill of beans.

The earlier part of Mullen’s testimony was a paean to the “success” of US/NATO efforts in Afghanistan: except for a few minor glitches, he strongly implied, everything’s coming up roses. How, then, to explain the brazen attacks on the Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, and the Taliban strike at the US embassy, which penetrated to the very core of the American presence in the country – the Afghan equivalent of Iraq’s “Green Zone“? It must be the ISI, Pakistan’s intelligence agency – yeah, that’s the ticket!

Facing questions about his (Mullen’s) competence, and that of his generalsMullen struck back with a conspiracy theory that explains away – or, at least, explains – the severity of these attacks, which fatally undermine his Pollyanna-ish narrative. The Obama administration has been laying the groundwork for this particular conspiracy theory for quite some time, peppering the Pakistanis with accusations of complicity in Taliban attacks on US forces – albeit without producing any public evidence. You’ll recall that the President (Obama) himself, during the 2008 campaignexplicitly threatened to strike at Pakistan – and even John McCain was horrified.

The Justice Department is playing a key role in the anti-Pakistan offensiveutilizing the infamous David Headley – a DEA snitch and “former” terrorist operative – to fill in the details of Pakistan’s alleged perfidy. Headley claims he was trained by the ISI at one of several terrorist training camps run by a Kashmiri separatist group, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), and that Pakistan was the real source of the terror in Mumbai. Go here for the suspiciously murky details of his convoluted story, but suffice to say that I’d sooner trust the word of a used car dealer who’s down to his last dimeWhile in the pay of the DEA, Headley traveled around the world committing and planning terrorist acts – but you’re a “conspiracy theorist” if you think this throws a shadow of suspicion on his character, his motives, or his “testimony.”

With military ties tightening between the US and India – Pakistan’s ancient enemy – one thing is clear: Washington is tilting toward New Delhi. This shift began in 2006, when India and the US agreed to cooperate on the development of “civil” nuclear power. However, as the Council on Foreign Relations reports, under the terms of the agreement “India would be eligible to buy U.S. dual-use nuclear technology, including materials and equipment that could be used to enrich uranium or reprocess plutonium, potentially creating the material for nuclear bombs.”

Pakistan and India have come close to a nuclear exchange on several occasions over the years. With the Hindu ultra-nationalists who wield increasing political cloutfrothing at the mouth for war, the introduction of such technology poses a deadly danger to the entire region. A nuclear sword of Damocles, forged by the US government, is hanging over the heads of Pakistanis – and we (Americans) wonder why they (Pakistanis) hate us.

The Americans are playing a very dangerous game with Pakistan, doing everything in their power to undermine the elected government, while at the same time decrying the threat of “extremism” in that nation. But they can’t have it both ways: if they fear destabilization, then why are they doing their utmost to provoke it? You’d almost have to be a “conspiracy theorist” to make sense out of it.

We are fighting an unwinnable war in the region, one that doesn’t serve our interests, either geopolitical or economic, and we’ve tasked our military with solving an insoluble problemhow to win over a people whose land we’ve occupied. Our military leaders, in response, are forced to invent plausible reasons explaining why they’ve been unable to accomplish the impossible. The blame Pakistan narrative serves that purpose admirably.

The ass-covering isn’t limited to the Afghan war, however, as Mullen’s remarks made all too clear. In warning against letting the alleged problem with Pakistan fester, unacknowledged, Mullen told the Senators:

History teaches us that it is difficult to defeat an insurgency when fighters enjoy a sanctuary outside national boundaries, and we are seeing this again today.”

A revealing comment if ever there was one: the US military is still burning with resentment over their defeat in the Vietnam war, and they blame the politicians for not letting them “win” by bombing the entire region into submission. Mullen is signaling to Congress and the civilian leadership that the military isn’t going to stand by, this time, and let itself be railroaded into taking the blame for another humiliating defeat. Mullen’s message to Congress, and the White House, is clear: let us go after the Pakistanis – or else….

The Obama administration, already intimidated by all things military, is going along with the program. What the anti-Pakistan campaign we’ve been subjected to in recent months amounts to is that the Obama administration is angling for the equivalent of Richard Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia – an act that ended in disaster for all concerned, including the US.

Remember, Pol Pot arose from that slaughterhouse. Who knows what monsters will rise in the wake of our invasion of Pakistan? 

It’s just what the politicians need – a fresh overseas war to take our minds off the economic and social crisis here at home. Think of it as another “stimulus package” – war being the only stimulant both parties can agree on.

We Are Seeing a Deliberate Provocation of the Conflict In the Caspian Sea


Brussels opened the door for Berdimuhamedov

Victoria Panfilova

EU starts talks on Trans-Caspian pipeline

At a meeting in New York late last week the chairman of the European Commission (EC) President Jose Manuel Barroso has invited the President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov to visit Brussels in “anytime.”

The reason for such a warm relationship – in the EU’s intention to begin negotiations in October on the construction of the Trans-Caspian pipeline that would connect Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. However, experts believe that Europe has little chance to promote your project.

Issues of cooperation in the energy sector has become a priority during a meeting in New York Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and President Jose Manuel Barroso. Turkmen president invited the European companies “to a wide mutually advantageous cooperation in energy sector.” According to the press service of the Turkmen State Berdimuhamedov assured his interlocutor that “imposing the country’s capacity allows for the implementation of large-scale international projects that benefit all parties involved.”

Support for Berdimuhamedov Barroso today than ever. In early September, the EC gave a mandate to start negotiations on the preparation of an agreement between the European Union, Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan on the implementation of the Trans-Caspian project.Negotiations between the parties will begin in October, and Brussels hopes the agreement signed before the end of the year, and get gas – in 2017. The project implementation would weaken the EU energy dependence on Russia, providing today, according to the German agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), about a quarter of the European market.In Brussels convinced that the Trans-Caspian pipeline project is important both from the standpoint of diversification of EU energy imports and to diversify exports to the position of Baku and Ashgabat.

Recall that the project involves laying a 300-kilometer gas pipeline under the Caspian Sea from Turkmenistan to Azerbaijan’s coast, where it will be connected to the “Southern Gas Corridor.” This project was developed in 1996 as an alternative to the Russian-Turkish project “Blue Stream”. The appearance of the Trans-Caspian gas pipeline coincided with the announcement by the U.S. Black Sea-Caspian region a zone of its strategic interests.

Laying pipes under the Caspian prevents its unsettled status and the positions of Moscow and Tehran, which strongly opposed the project. “Therefore, the question of whether to help solve the problem of the new mandate of the EU remains open,” – said during the conference “paradigms of international cooperation in the Caspian Sea”, held recently in Aktau, a leading expert of the Institute of Oriental Studies, Alexander Knyazev. In his view, to Moscow and Tehran may well join Astana – Kazakhstan has a low profile and its relation to the project had not yet formulated. In particular, as stated by Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Kairat Sarybai, “we have not yet worked out a position on this issue in order to promulgate it.” “I can only say that we, the littoral countries have agreed to: the legal status of the Caspian Sea to solve only a five-party format,” – said Sarybai.

Kazakh diplomat statement does not fit into the context of the EU’s claim that “for the construction of the Trans-Caspian pipeline is enough of bilateral agreements between Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan.” According to the director of the center “PolitKontakt” Andrei Medvedev, the “utopian to imagine that the pipeline will be built in the absence of consent of all five Caspian littoral states.” “For Ashgabat neighborly relations with Tehran is more important than risk a quarrel with him because of Trans-Caspian” – thinks Medvedev.According to him, if ever in Iran’s pro-Western regime will be replaced by, then it is preferable to lay the pipe from the Turkmen fields through Iran’s Caspian lowland, than under the Caspian Sea – “this and taking into account the cost, and environmental and technical solutions.”

For all this, experts believe that the activation of the Caspian region of non-regional players enhances the tension. “We are seeing not just a desire of the EU to diversify energy supplies, but also a deliberate provocation of the conflict in the Caspian Sea, which can subsequently be used to convert it into an armed plane. It is easy to assume that Russia and Iran can veto the construction of any pipeline under the Caspian Sea and to enforce the veto. It is difficult to assume that in such a situation, someone from the Caspian states will not submit – already patrolling the waters of the Caspian Iranian and Russian fleets, each of which is superior in strength and power of the aggregate of all other navies of the Caspian “, – said Alexander Knyazev.

Source: Nezavisimaya Gazeta

Turkmenistan and China will jointly combat the “three evil forces”

Turkmenistan and China will jointly combat the “three evil forces”

September 26 Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov held talks with a member of the State Council, China’s Minister of Public Safety Maine Jianzhu and Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of China Cheng Guoping .
As the Chinese agency “Xinhua”, at a meeting with Turkmen President Meng Jianzhu said that the security situation in Central Asia, is tense and invited both parties to strengthen the fight against “three evil forces” (terrorism, separatism and extremism) and deepen bilateral and multilateral security cooperation.

In turn, Berdymukhammedov assured the Chinese side that Ashgabat is ready to strengthen cooperation with China in fighting “three evil forces” and work together to protect the security of both countries, as well as peace and stability in the region.

Participated in the meeting the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador of China in Turkmenistan Xiao Qinghua .

During his visit to Turkmenistan Minister of Public Security of China has also held meetings with Minister of Internal Affairs Iskander Mulikovym and Minister of National Security Yaylymom Berdiyev .

Helping Islamists Take Syria

The U.S. is calling on Syrian dictator Bashar Assad to step down and is increasingly persuaded that the uprising against his rule will be victorious. As the world wonders who will replace the regime, an Islamist-dominated group called the Syrian National Council is being embraced by Turkey and the Obama administration State Department. Genuine secular forces, meanwhile, are being left to the wayside as they struggle to save their country from both Assad and theMuslim Brotherhood.

The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood has stated, “We have a desire to coordinate the position of the opposition.” With support from the Turkish government and a naïve U.S. State Department, it can achieve this objective. On September 15, opposition activists formed the Syrian National Council in Istanbul, the latest in a long list of umbrella groups to be formed since the uprising began.

Ammar Abdulhamid, a secular democratic activist based in the U.S., published a list of some of the members. Of the 71 named, 34 are Islamists. The Muslim Brotherhood has not officially joined the alliance, but many members of it have.  The composition of the Syrian National Council is frightening other opposition groups who do not want Syria to become the next Gaza Strip. A leader of the leftist Kurdish Party said, “Turkey supports the Islamists in Syria and puts them out front. These Syrian opposition meetings in Turkey prevent the creation of a democratic, pluralistic Syria in which the rights of the Kurds are constitutionally protected and they are recognized as the second largest ethnicity in the country.”

Shockingly, the U.S. State Department and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Hamas-tied front for the Muslim Brotherhood, are together supporting the Syrian National Council. On September 24, the Los Angeles chapter of CAIR held a townhall event featuring a member of the SNC and Frederic C. Hof from the State Department’s Office of the Special Envoy for the Middle East. This isn’t the first time the U.S. has supported the Islamist opposition in Syria. Files released by WikiLeaks show that the State Department funded the Movement for Justice and Development. The group split from the Muslim Brotherhood and was described in the files as “liberal, moderate Islamists” who sought to “marginalize” the Brotherhood.

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Dragging-Up the Past to Prosecute Pakistan Today

[The day before, legendary Taliban leader Mullah Dadullah was killed in a British SAS operation in Helmand (SEE:  Mullah Dadullah, Taliban top commander, killed in Helmand) , leading to the next day’s series of running battles between Paktia Province in Afghanistan and Kurram Agency in Pakistan. It was a fight launched by the Taliban, intended to bring the two sides to blows (SEE:  Heaviest clash between Pakistan, Afghan forces erupts on border).  The events of that day are heavily disputed by both sides–definitely not a clear-cut story of Pakistani forces attacking Americans, but being revived today to add to the case being made about attacks in Kabul and implicating the Haqqani network, and by extension, the Pak. Army.]

Pakistanis Tied to 2007 Border Ambush on Americans


KABUL, Afghanistan — A group of American military officers and Afghan officials had just finished a five-hour meeting with their Pakistani hosts in a village schoolhouse settling a border dispute when they were ambushed — by the Pakistanis.

An American major was killed and three American officers were wounded, along with their Afghan interpreter, in what fresh accounts from the Afghan and American officers who were there reveal was a complex, calculated assault by a nominal ally. The Pakistanis opened fire on the Americans, who returned fire before escaping in a blood-soaked Black Hawk helicopter.

The attack, in Teri Mangal on May 14, 2007, was kept quiet by Washington, which for much of a decade has seemed to play down or ignore signals that Pakistan would pursue its own interests, or even sometimes behave as an enemy.

The reconstruction of the attack, which several officials suggested was revenge for Afghan or Pakistani deaths at American hands, takes on new relevance given the worsening rupture in relations between Washington and Islamabad, which has often been restrained by Pakistan’s strategic importance.

The details of the ambush indicate that Americans were keenly aware of Pakistan’s sometimes duplicitous role long before Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Senate last week that Pakistan’s intelligence service was undermining efforts in Afghanistan and had supported insurgents who attacked the American Embassy in Kabul this month.

Though both sides kept any deeper investigations of the ambush under wraps, even at the time it was seen as a turning point by officials managing day-to-day relations with Pakistan.

Pakistani officials first attributed the attack to militants, then, when pressed to investigate, to a single rogue soldier from the Frontier Corps, the poorly controlled tribal militia that guards the border region. To this day, none of the governments have publicly clarified what happened, hoping to limit damage to relations. Both the American and Pakistani military investigations remain classified.

“The official line covered over the details in the interests of keeping the relationship with Pakistan intact,” said a former United Nations official who served in eastern Afghanistan and was briefed on the events immediately after they occurred.

“At that time in May 2007, you had a lot of analysis pointing to the role of Pakistan in destabilizing that part of Afghanistan, and here you had a case in point, and for whatever reason it was glossed over,” he said. The official did not want to be named for fear of alienating the Pakistanis, with whom he must still work.

Exactly why the Pakistanis might have chosen Teri Mangal to make a stand, and at what level the decision was made, remain unclear. Requests to the Pakistani military for information and interviews for this article were not answered. One Pakistani official who was present at the meeting indicated that the issue was too sensitive to be discussed with a journalist. Brig. Gen. Martin Schweitzer, the American commander in eastern Afghanistan at the time, whose troops were involved, also declined to be interviewed.

At first, the meeting to resolve the border dispute seemed a success. Despite some tense moments, the delegations ate lunch together, exchanged phone numbers and made plans to meet again. Then, as the Americans and Afghans prepared to leave, the Pakistanis opened fire without warning. The assault involved multiple gunmen, Pakistani intelligence agents and military officers, and an attempt to kidnap or draw away the senior American and Afghan officials.

American officials familiar with Pakistan say that the attack fit a pattern. The Pakistanis often seemed to retaliate for losses they had suffered in an accidental attack by United States forces with a deliberate assault on American troops, most probably to maintain morale among their own troops or to make a point to the Americans that they could not be pushed around, said a former American military officer who served in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Looking back, there were always these attacks that could possibly be attributed to deliberate retaliation,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because his job does not permit him to talk to journalists. Pakistani forces had suffered losses before the May 14 attack, he added.

As with so many problems with Pakistan, the case was left to fester. It has since become an enduring emblem of the distrust that has poisoned relations but that is bared only at critical junctures, like Teri Mangal, or the foray by American commandos into Pakistan in May to kill Osama bin Laden, an operation deliberately kept secret from Pakistani officials.

Ruhullah Khapalwak contributed reporting.


Heaviest clash between Pakistan, Afghan forces erupts on border

Kabul/Islamabad – The heaviest clash so far between Afghan and Pakistani forces erupted on Sunday when Pakistani forces attempted to install an outpost in eastern Afghanistan.

There were conflicting reports on the death toll of both countries. The Afghan interior ministry said in a statement that eight Pakistani soldiers were killed and their bodies left on the battlefield while, Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Waheed Arshad said three Pakistani soldiers were injured in the “unprovoked” attack, while the Afghans took six or seven casualties.

Fighting between the two forces erupted early Sunday when the Pakistani army attempted to position their forces in mountains in Goyee area of Jaji district of the south-eastern Paktia province, General Zahir Azimi, Afghan defence ministry spokesman told a press conference.

Azimi said the advancing troops were forced to retreat and began using heavy artillery against the Afghan troops. Two children were killed while another three were injured along with two policemen, when a rocket hit a school.

He said that two Afghan police were also wounded, however, provincial police chief for Paktia Abdul Rahman Sarjang said that one policeman was killed and three others were wounded.

Azimi said that thousands of local people joined the Afghan forces from the Jaji district while tens of thousands of armed people dressed in white, beating drums and chanting “Allahu Akbar”,(God is great) were making their way to the Goyee area.

The local people fired at Pakistani helicopters which were manoeuvering in the area over Afghan soil, Azimi said, adding, “unconfirmed reports suggest that one of the helicopters which was shot and caught fire, crashed in Pakistani soil.”

However, General Arshad rejected reports that a Pakistani helicopter was shot down and said neither side crossed the border.

Arshad, confirmed that an exchange of fire took place at around 9.00 am Sunday in Pakistan’s Kurram Agency, which borders Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia Province.

“Afghan forces started uncontrolled firing on our forces,” he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The situation calmed following the arrival of US-led Coalition officials in the afternoon to investigate the incident, according to the official.

Afghanistan and Pakistan, both strong allies of US war on terror have been at loggerheads, each accusing the other of not doing enough to check cross-border infiltration.

The leaders of both countries met in Turkey late last month to ease the tension between their governments, but the latest clash indicates that the trouble is far from over.

In another separate clash between Afghan backed international forces and Taliban insurgents, 55 Taliban militants were killed in the neighbouring Paktika province on Saturday, the interior ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

In a clash in Gayan district of Paktika province Afghan police killed 40 militants, the statement said, adding that 10 bodies had been recovered.

Some 15 other militants were killed in clash with police after they attacked a police post in Barmal district of the same province around the time of the clash in Gayan, the statement added.

Turkish War Ships Escort Pire Reis Research Vessel Near Greek Cypriot Zone

Turkey\'s Piri Reis continues on its route to Mediterranean

Piri Reis

Turkish Ship Close to Cypriot Gas Search Zone

by Naharnet Newsdesk

A Turkish exploration ship is searching for gas and oil “close to” a Cypriot drilling zone off the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus, a senior energy ministry official said Tuesday.

“Our ship is exploring gas close to the Greek Cypriot zone, and under the escort of Turkish naval vessels,” the official told Agence France Presse, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Turkish ship Piri Reis, which embarked on its controversial mission last week, started its research on Monday under military protection in the eastern Mediterranean.

The official declined to say how long the ship would be staying in that zone.

Regional tensions have been rising after the Cyprus government, recognized internationally, but not by Turkey, made a deal with U.S. energy firm Noble, which has already started exploratory drilling for gas off the southern coast of the divided island.

In retaliation, Turkey dispatched its own exploration ship to the region after signing an accord with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a statelet only recognized by Ankara, for gas search in the designated areas off the island.

Northern Distribution Network Railway and Portage Links

“The Pentagon is increasingly relying on the NDN to keep the Afghan war effort going. By the end of this year, US military planners aim to ship 75 percent all Afghan-bound, non-military cargo along the NDN, thus reducing US reliance on a Pakistani supply route.

With Turkmenistan refusing to get involved with any land transit aspect of NDN — despite a concerted effort to incentivize officials in Ashgabat — Uzbekistan stands to be able to make considerable capital from its strategic position and infrastructure.”–[SEE:  Uzbekistan: US Senate Wants Pentagon to be More Transparent on NDN Contracts]

Click to access 30457-UZB-PCR.pdf


Uzbek rail: Red hot wheels to Afghanistan

A senior U.S. defense official said the military wants to keep using Pakistan, which offers the most direct and cheapest routes to Afghanistan. But the Pentagon is also developing the means to bypass the country if necessary. Below is a State Department cable related to the supply line discussion.

id: 234236
date: 2009-11-12 04:48:00
refid: 09TASHKENT1577
origin: Embassy Tashkent
classification: CONFIDENTIAL
destination: 09TOKYO2590
DE RUEHNT #1577/01 3160515
R 120448Z NOV 09
——————- header ends ——————-
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/11/12
REF: 09 TOKYO 2590
CLASSIFIED BY: Robert McCutcheon, Econ Officer, State, Pol/Econ
Office; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
that Uzbekistan Railroads is having difficulty operating freight
trains on its new Karshi-Termez line. Obsolete locomotives with
inadequate brakes result in multiple delays and wheels that glow
red hot by the time a train has completed the mountain crossing.
XXXXXXXXXXXX Given the importance of the Karshi-Termez line to the Northern Distribution
Network, Post suggests the Department consider approaching Tokyo to
ensure that electrification of the Karshi-Termez line receives top
priority. END SUMMARY
2. (C) On November 9 we met with XXXXXXXXXXXX. XXXXXXXXXXXX
is heavily involved XXXXXXXXXXXX in the construction and
operation of Uzbek Railroad’s new line through the mountains from
Karshi to Termez. The natural, geographically dictated routing
from Karshi to Termez is via Turkmenistan, but after independence
in 1991, the GOU made the strategic decision to reduce its
dependence on routes through now foreign territory. This new
line, partially funded by XXXXXXXXXXXX, avoids Turkmen territory but has to
contend with steep mountain grades. The first trains rolled down
the new track in early 2009.
3. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that there have been difficulties operating
trains over the Karshi-Termez line. Most locomotives used by Uzbek
Railroads are built to the same design as U.S. lend-lease
locomotives given to the Soviet Union in World War II. Soviet
engineers copied this design and used it to produce locomotives
that came to form a significant portion of Soviet rolling stock.
The problem with Uzbekistan’s legacy Soviet locomotives is that
they were never intended for use in mountainous terrain. They have
inadequate brakes and must be operated at slow speed. On the
descents, the brakes in all wagons are applied continuously, thus
necessitating frequent stops so that the wheels can cool. XXXXXXXXXXXX
told us that by the time trains have descended from the mountains,
the wheels are glowing red hot.
4. (C) The Karshi-Termez line carries Northern Distribution Network
(NDN) rail traffic to supply U.S. forces in Afghanistan. XXXXXXXXXXXX.
5. (SBU) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us that the next phase for the Karshi-Termez
rail line will be electrification. This will be accomplished in
four stages over a five-year period, with the steepest grades being electrified first. The cost is expected to be $550 million USD;
this includes provision for purchase of Chinese manufactured
electric locomotives.
6. (C) Only when the electrification program is complete will the
Karshi-Termez line be able to transport freight at full capacity.
XXXXXXXXXXXX told us he is worried, however, that the electrification
program is competing for priority within XXXXXXXXXXXX with a program to
rebuild power generation stations in Uzbekistan. (NOTE: We
believe XXXXXXXXXXXX is referring to the project to upgrade and reequip
TASHKENT 00001577 002 OF 002
the Tashkent Power Plant, for which XXXXXXXXXXXX is to provide
approximately $410 million USD. End Note.) One program will be
funded to begin in 2010, and the other will be funded to start in
2011. XXXXXXXXXXXX told us his XXXXXXXXXXXX contacts in Tashkent had intimated to
him that a well placed word from the USG could influence the
decision on which program gets the higher priority.
7. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX told us he was appalled at how long it takes to
transport anything by rail in Uzbekistan. About 70 percent of rail
traffic is freight, but a typical train carries only half the
freight per wagon as a U.S. wagon — 50 tons instead of 100 tons.
From conversations with Uzbek engineers, XXXXXXXXXXXX said the limitation
appears to be not the trains but the quality of the steel used in
the tracks. He described the tracks as brittle and thus subject to
fracture if higher loads are transported.
8. (C) On the ADB-funded 70-80 km rail link from Hayraton to
Mazar-i-Sharif in Afghanistan, XXXXXXXXXXXX claimed that Uzbek Railways
had padded the construction cost by more than a factor of two.
Whereas the rule of thumb for railroad construction in the U.S. is $1 million USD per mile, the budget for the new rail line in
Afghanistan is $160 million USD. For a line that will not span any
major rivers or face other geological impediments, the main
challenge will be security, not engineering.
9. (C) XXXXXXXXXXXX’s description of current operations on the
Karshi-Termez rail line is cause for concern. XXXXXXXXXXXX underlined
this by saying he himself refused to travel on the line under
current conditions. His description of wheels that are red hot by
the end of the mountain crossing implies that a train wreck is
possible in the literal sense. Given this and the importance of
the line to NDN, Post believes the Department should consider
approaching authorities in Tokyo so that the Karshi-Termez
electrification project gets top priority. We believe that Japan’s
support for the rail electrification project would contribute to
Afghan reconstruction in a way that is compatible with the new
Japanese Government’s approach (reftel).

Uzbekistan: US Senate Wants Pentagon to be More Transparent on NDN Contracts

Uzbekistan: US Senate Wants Pentagon to be More Transparent on NDN Contracts

Uzbekistan: US Senate Wants Pentagon to be More Transparent on NDN Contracts
Uzbekistan: US Senate Wants Pentagon to be More Transparent on NDN Contracts

by Deirdre Tynan

US legislators are willing to lift restrictions on the Defense Department’s ability to provide military assistance to Uzbekistan, a country with one of theworld’s worst human rights records. But before the floodgates of security assistance are opened for Tashkent, Capitol Hill wants the Pentagon to be more transparent in the way it manages the Northern Distribution Network.

The US Senate in particular has voiced alarm that a lack of oversight over the Northern Distribution Network (NDN) has turned it into a gravy train of graft for Uzbekistan’s ruling elite. Uzbekistan serves as a hub for the NDN, which has emerged as a key supply line for US and NATO forces fighting in Afghanistan.

The US Senate Committee on Appropriations approved a waiver September 22 that will for the first time in seven years remove restrictions prohibiting military aid to Tashkent. However, the waiver is conditioned on the Defense Department’s compliance with a requirement to provide reports on how Pentagon cash is spent on NDN contracts in Uzbekistan.

“The committee is concerned with reports of pervasive corruption in Uzbekistan and therefore expects to be informed of public and private entities that receive support, directly or indirectly, from United States Government funds used to pay the costs of Northern Distribution Network supply routes through that country,” a Senate report on foreign aid bill S. 1601 states.

“The Committee requires a report that itemizes those costs to the extent practicable to ensure that no US funds are being diverted in support of corrupt practices,” it adds. The first report will be filed six months after the bill becomes law, and annually thereafter.

The reports are expected to be classified and, therefore, unavailable for public review. The foreign aid bill for Uzbekistan is expected to come up for a vote in congress later this year.

The Pentagon is increasingly relying on the NDN to keep the Afghan war effort going. By the end of this year, US military planners aim to ship 75 percent all Afghan-bound, non-military cargo along the NDN, thus reducing US reliance on a Pakistani supply route.

With Turkmenistan refusing to get involved with any land transit aspect of NDN — despite a concerted effort to incentivize officials in Ashgabat — Uzbekistan stands to be able to make considerable capital from its strategic position and infrastructure.

Uzbekistan’s role in the NDN is pivotal with the majority of goods transiting into Afghanistan at the Termez-Hairaton rail node. Pentagon agencies have struck numerous deals with local trucking and storage subcontractors, as well as the state-owned Uzbekistan Railways. Uzbek authorities, while providing use the Navoi air hub to DoD contracted flights, will not allow onward flights from Navoi to Afghanistan, and insist that freight must be trucked to the border.

A well-placed source in Washington, DC, indicated to that the use of subcontracted local firms on DoD contracts is an area of intense interest within some branches of the US government. Some officials worry that Uzbek political and security elites may be profiting from below-the-radar partnerships with international firms.

Another source familiar with Pentagon contracting practices in Central Asia alleges that Defense Department planners are aware that some US military contractors have cultivated relationships with companies that have been linked to friends and relatives of Uzbek President Islam Karimov.
“Pentagon logistics certainly knew some contractors were using companies controlled by the Karimov family to perform aspects of their contracts in Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. But it’s very clear they didn’t view this as a negative, just the opposite,” the source said.

A previous investigation by showed that the DoD is not unaware that doing business in Uzbekistan is fraught with complications. Potential contractors have warned the Pentagon that “informal fees,” an unambiguous euphemism for bribery, along with frequent rule changes can be managed partially by “established good relations” with Uzbek authorities.

According to the US Congressional Research Service, contracts listed in the US Federal Procurement Data System as having Uzbekistan as their place of performance rose in value from $11.7 million in 2007 to $20.2 million in 2010.

Human rights activists contend that policymakers in Washington are allowing Tashkent to dictate the terms and parameters of US-Uzbek relations. A recent Wikileaks dump of diplomatic cables suggests that US diplomats in Tashkent are unwilling to challenge the Uzbek government on egregious rights violations, including the widespread and persistent use of forced child labor in the cotton sector.

“[The Committee on Appropriations] mark-up in Senate may have so far gained little attention, but the terrible message it sends to the democracy activists and the ordinary people of Uzbekistan can hardly be overstated,” said Steve Swerdlow , Uzbekistan researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“Just days after the State Department labeled Uzbekistan a serial violator of religious freedom in its annual Religious Freedom report, and while President [Islam] Karimov continues his severe crackdown on civil society, the use of widespread torture, and forced child labor, the Congress has provided an enormous windfall to the military of one of the world’s most repressive governments,” Swedlow continued. “Given that Tashkent was already heavily benefiting from the US military presence in Afghanistan, the Obama administration should have played its cards better: insist on human rights improvements first, before lifting aid restrictions, not the other way around.”

Editor’s note:

Deirdre Tynan is a Bishkek-based journalist specializing in central Asian affairs.

Obama Sold Bunker-Busting Bombs To Israel: Report

US Sold Bunker-Busting Bombs To Israel: Report

President Barack Obama released bunker-busting
bombs to Israel in 2009, Newsweek reports
© AFP/NAVY VISUAL NEWS/File Felix Garza Jr.


WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Barack Obama secretly authorized the sale of 55 powerful bunker-busting bombs to Israel, Newsweek magazine reported Friday.

Israel first asked to buy deep-penetrating GBU-28 bombs in 2005, but were rebuffed by then-president George W. Bush. At the time the Pentagon had frozen joint US-Israeli defense projects, fearful that Israel was transferring advanced military technology to China, Newsweek said.

However in 2007 Bush informed then-Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert that the bombs would be ready for delivery in 2009 or 2010, even though the Israelis wanted them immediately.

Obama released the bombs in 2009, the magazine reports, citing unnamed officials familiar with the still-secret decision.

Newsweek, citing unnamed US and Israeli officials, said in its online edition that Israel has developed its own bunker-buster technology, but that it was cheaper to buy the US weapons.

The 2,000-pound bombs are designed to destroy hardened targets, which could be used to strike Iranian nuclear sites.

The Pentagon declined to confirm or deny the report but press secretary George Little said “the United States remains committed to helping Israel provide for its own security and we remain committed to helping Israel maintain its qualitative military edge.”

Fukushima Getting Worse – Tokyo Becoming Uninhabitable?

Fukushima Getting Worse – Tokyo Becoming Uninhabitable?

By Tom Burnett
The radiation coming out of that hell-hole is still INCREASING.  As I have said for months, there is no way to stop it.  The only solution is to hide it and pretend it doesn’t exist.

As of today, the people who were evacuated from the dead zone can apply for compensation to get a home somewhere else.  The instructions are 160 pages long and the application itself is 60 pages and requires various proofs and documents.  Merely having to leave a zone of deadly radiation is not proof of anything to the Japanese government, even though they ordered the evacuation.

In addition, the instructions are incomprehensible, even to a Japanese lawyer.  A typical farmer or lay person could never complete the application.

Moving right along…the Japanese are gearing up to restart all of the nuclear plants that are now offline.  They have no other sources of energy and winter is approaching – so all the plants that were shut down because they were – and still are – unsafe are going to be put back on line before winter.  I absolutely guarantee you that there will be another Fukushima-type accident in the near future because of these unsafe plants.  Japan will not only kill off it’s own citizens, but everyone else as well.

That’s not rhetoric.  Tokyo is rapidly becoming uninhabitable. As my VERY FIRST POST said back in March, when the cores hit groundwater, it will get very serious.  Now it is happening.  The entire northern half of Japan is effectively uninhabitable, although the Japanese government is simply ignoring the problem.

I am continuing to monitor radiation levels in East Hawaii and I have been invited back on the Rense program (9 PM Pacific, 9-26-11) because every one of my predictions and observations have been proven correct. It now appears that we are going to have an earth-shattering event.  Not just Japan.  The entire world is in danger, right now.

Turkey to Start Gas Exploration in Mediterranean Monday

Turkey to Start Gas Exploration in Mediterranean Monday

by Naharnet Newsdesk

Turkey will start Monday to explore gas and oil in the eastern Mediterranean following a move by Greek Cypriots to press ahead with offshore gas drilling, the Anatolia news agency reported.

“We expect the ship to arrive at noon to the region where exploration will start. The team will start seismological research in the afternoon, after it reaches the region whose (geographical) position was specified,” said Huseyin Avni Benli, the head of the institute that owns the ship, Anatolia reported.

Benli did not elaborate on the ship’s exact destination.

The ship Piri Reis, which embarked on its controversial mission last week, has so far encountered no problems on the Mediterranean, said Benli of Dokuz Eylul University, in the Aegean province of Izmir.

Benli said there was twice-daily communication with the ship through satellite telephone, Anatolia reported. The ship left Urla port near Izmir on Friday.

Regional tensions have been rising after the Cyprus government, recognized internationally but not by Turkey, made a deal with U.S. energy firm Noble, which has already started exploratory drilling for gas off the southern coast of the divided island.

Turkey’s decision to send the seismic ship comes after it signed an accord with the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC), a statelet only recognized by Ankara, to explore energy supplies in designated waters off the island.

TAPI gas pipeline: Turkmenistan says no to a raw deal

TAPI gas pipeline: Turkmenistan says no to a raw deal

The deadline had earlier been set to July 31 but was extended when the four countries could not agree. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: Turkmenistan has rejected the gas pricing formula proposed by its prospective buyers in the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline project, a blow to the US-backed project that Washington had been pushing Islamabad to accept as an alternative to the gas pipeline from Iran.

In a meeting held on May 17 and 18 earlier this year, Kabul and New Delhi had accepted Islamabad’s suggestion that the three buyers collectively propose a gas-pricing formula based on Turkmenistan’s cost of production, rather than being linked to the price of oil, which is the standard global practise.

Pakistan’s formula would restrict Turkmenistan to a fixed profit margin, rather than the variable rate that is usually offered to countries exporting gas. Pakistan has signed an agreement with Iran that would link the gas import price to the international price of oil.

Sources told The Express Tribune that technical teams from the four countries, in a recent meeting of the Technical Working Group held in the Turkmen capital of Ashgabat, had set October 15 as the deadline to finalise pricing details and sign the gas sales purchase agreement.

The deadline had earlier been set to July 31 but was extended when the four countries could not agree. Sources said that the buyer countries may make some concessions to Turkmenistan, including perhaps linking it to the global price of crude oil. The price of Iran’s gas exports to Pakistan are 78% based on the global price of oil.

“The four countries are expected to link the gas price with some percentage of the world crude oil,” sources said.

While no agreement appears to have yet been reached, sources familiar with the negotiations remain hopeful that the deadline for an accord will be met.

“The technical teams of all stakeholder countries have to conclude price of gas to import from Turkmenistan under TAPI gas pipeline project within ten days,” sources said adding that “We are hopeful that GSPA will be signed by October 15 to move forward on gas import project.”

In a bid to economically isolate Tehran, Washington has been pushing Islamabad to accept the TAPI project as an alternative to the Iran pipeline, going so far as to threaten sanctions if Pakistan does not comply.

Published in The Express Tribune

Ronald Reagan, Afghan Mujahideen, Talibans & Royal Mess.

[Excellent piece of work, laying-0ut the crooked ugliness that has brought us to this point in a pretty straight line.  This Pakistani author,  like so many of the best Indian strategic analysts, is retired from the intelligence services.  Despite my own compulsions to discount every word from former intelligence agents as a lie (especially “former” CIA), I often post exposes written by retired Indian and Pakistani spies, knowing that nobody else could possibly describe these insider events for us. 

It all began with Brzezinski, before becoming the centerpiece of Reagan’s foreign policy, where it successfully released its plague upon all mankind, in the form of capitalist sponsored “Islamic” terrorism.]

Ronald Reagan, Afghan Mujahideen, Talibans & Royal Mess.

Chagatai Khan

Toasts of President Reagan and President Mobammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan at the State Dinner December 7, 1982 – In the last few years, in particular, your country has come to the forefront of the struggle to construct a framework for peace in your region, an undertaking which includes your strenuous efforts to bring peaceful resolution to the crisis in Afghanistan—a resolution which will enable the millions of refugees currently seeking shelter in Pakistan to go home in peace and honor. Further, you’ve worked to ensure that progress continues toward improving the relationship between Pakistan and India. And in all these efforts the United States has supported your objectives and will applaud your success. And, Mr. President, unfortunately, a new and menacing turbulence has arisen in our region. More than a fifth of the entire population of Afghanistan has been compelled to seek shelter in Pakistan as a result of the armed intervention in that country by a foreign power. We are bending our effort to resolve this tragic situation through a peaceful political settlement, in accordance with the principles enunciated by the international community. The latest manifestation of this was the Resolution of Afghanistan adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, once again with the overwhelming support of the member states. Spread this America, Mr. President, to areas other than the United States of America. Let America be the torchbearer of peace, peace not only on the American continent but peace in Afghanistan, peace in Vietnam, peace in Somalia, and above all, peace in Palestine. We wish you, sir, all the best in your endeavors. And you will never find Pakistanis faltering. We’ll be there right behind you to give you the helping hand, if we can, at the moment that you wish us to do so. REFERENCE: Toasts of President Reagan and President Mobammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan at the State Dinner December 7, 1982

Steve Coll ends his important book on Afghanistan — Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to 10 September 2001–by quoting Afghan President Hamid Karzai: “What an unlucky country.” Americans might find this a convenient way to ignore what their government did in Afghanistan between 1979 and the present, but luck had nothing to do with it. Brutal, incompetent, secret operations of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, frequently manipulated by the military intelligence agencies of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, caused the catastrophic devastation of this poor country. On the evidence contained in Coll’s book Ghost Wars, neither the Americans nor their victims in numerous Muslim and Third World countries will ever know peace until the Central Intelligence Agency has been abolished. It should by now be generally accepted that the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on Christmas Eve 1979 was deliberately provoked by the United States. In his memoir published in 1996, the former CIA director Robert Gates made it clear that the American intelligence services began to aid the mujahidin guerrillas not after the Soviet invasion, but six months before it. In an interview two years later with Le Nouvel Observateur, President Carter’s national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski proudly confirmed Gates’s assertion. “According to the official version of history,” Brzezinski said, “CIA aid to the mujahidin began during 1980, that’s to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan. But the reality, kept secret until now, is completely different: on 3 July 1979 President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And on the same day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained that in my opinion this aid would lead to a Soviet military intervention.”

Asked whether he in any way regretted these actions,

Brzezinski replied: Regret what? The secret operation was an excellent idea. It drew the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? On the day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter, saying, in essence: ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.’

Nouvel Observateur: “And neither do you regret having supported Islamic fundamentalism, which has given arms and advice to future terrorists?”

Brzezinski: “What is more important in world history? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some agitated Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”

Zbigniew Brzezinski to Jihadists: Your cause is right!
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Funding the Fundamentalists

The motives of the White House and the CIA were shaped by the Cold War: a determination to kill as many Soviet soldiers as possible and the desire to restore some aura of rugged machismo as well as credibility that U.S. leaders feared they had lost when the Shah of Iran was overthrown. The CIA had no intricate strategy for the war it was unleashing in Afghanistan. Howard Hart, the agency’s representative in the Pakistani capital, told Coll that he understood his orders as: “You’re a young man; here’s your bag of money, go raise hell. Don’t fuck it up, just go out there and kill Soviets.” These orders came from a most peculiar American. William Casey, the CIA’s director from January 1981 to January 1987, was a Catholic Knight of Malta educated by Jesuits. Statues of the Virgin Mary filled his mansion, called “Maryknoll,” on Long Island. He attended mass daily and urged Christianity on anyone who asked his advice. Once settled as CIA director under Reagan, he began to funnel covert action funds through the Catholic Church to anti-Communists in Poland and Central America, sometimes in violation of American law. He believed fervently that by increasing the Catholic Church’s reach and power he could contain Communism’s advance, or reverse it. From Casey’s convictions grew the most important U.S. foreign policies of the 1980s — support for an international anti-Soviet crusade in Afghanistan and sponsorship of state terrorism in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. Casey knew next to nothing about Islamic fundamentalism or the grievances of Middle Eastern nations against Western imperialism. He saw political Islam and the Catholic Church as natural allies in the counter-strategy of covert action to thwart Soviet imperialism. He believed that the USSR was trying to strike at the U.S. in Central America and in the oil-producing states of the Middle East. He supported Islam as a counter to the Soviet Union’s atheism, and Coll suggests that he sometimes conflated lay Catholic organizations such as Opus Dei with the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian extremist organization, of which Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief lieutenant, was a passionate member. The Muslim Brotherhood’s branch in Pakistan, the Jamaat-e-Islami, was strongly backed by the Pakistani army, and Coll writes that Casey, more than any other American, was responsible for welding the alliance of the CIA, Saudi intelligence, and the army of General Mohammed Zia-ul-Haq, Pakistan’s military dictator from 1977 to 1988.

On the suggestion of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) organization, Casey went so far as to print thousands of copies of the Koran, which he shipped to the Afghan frontier for distribution in Afghanistan and Soviet Uzbekistan. He also fomented, without presidential authority, Muslim attacks inside the USSR and always held that the CIA’s clandestine officers were too timid. He preferred the type represented by his friend Oliver North. Over time, Casey’s position hardened into CIA dogma, which its agents, protected by secrecy from ever having their ignorance exposed, enforced in every way they could. The agency resolutely refused to help choose winners and losers among the Afghan jihad’s guerrilla leaders. The result, according to Coll, was that “Zia-ul-Haq’s political and religious agenda in Afghanistan gradually became the CIA’s own.” In the era after Casey, some scholars, journalists, and members of Congress questioned the agency’s lavish support of the Pakistan-backed Islamist general Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, especially after he refused to shake hands with Ronald Reagan because he was an infidel. But Milton Bearden, the Islamabad station chief from 1986 to 1989, and Frank Anderson, chief of the Afghan task force at Langley, vehemently defended Hekmatyar on the grounds that “he fielded the most effective anti-Soviet fighters.” Even after the Soviet Union withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988, the CIA continued to follow Pakistani initiatives, such as aiding Hekmatyar’s successor, Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban. When Edmund McWilliams, the State Department’s special envoy to the Afghan resistance in 1988-89, wrote that “American authority and billions of dollars in taxpayer funding had been hijacked at the war’s end by a ruthless anti-American cabal of Islamists and Pakistani intelligence officers determined to impose their will on Afghanistan,” CIA officials denounced him and planted stories in the embassy that he might be homosexual or an alcoholic. Meanwhile, Afghanistan descended into one of the most horrific civil wars of the 20th century. The CIA never fully corrected its naive and ill-informed reading of Afghan politics until after bin Laden bombed the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam on August 7, 1998. REFERENCE: Are We to Blame for Afghanistan? By Chalmers Johnson 11-22-04

When neighbors came to Mullah Mohammed Omar in the spring of 1994, they had a story that was shocking even by the grim standards of Afghanistan’ s 18-year-old civil war. Two teen-age girls from the mullah’s village of Singesar had been abducted by one of the gangs of mujahedeen, or ”holy warriors,” who controlled much of the Afghan countryside. The girls’ heads had been shaved, they had been taken to a checkpoint outside the village and they had been repeatedly raped. At the time, Mullah Omar was an obscure figure, a former guerrilla commander against occupying Soviet forces who had returned home in disgust at the terror mujahedeen groups were inflicting on Afghanistan. He was living as a student, or talib, in a mud-walled religious school that centered on rote learning of the Koran. But the girls’ plight moved him to act. Gathering 30 former guerrilla fighters, who mustered between them 16 Kalashnikov rifles, he led an attack on the checkpoint, freed the girls and tied the checkpoint commander by a noose to the barrel of an old Soviet tank. As those around him shouted ”God is Great!” Mullah Omar ordered the tank barrel raised and left the dead man hanging as a grisly warning. The Singesar episode is now part of Afghan folklore. Barely 30 months after taking up his rifle, Mullah Omar is the supreme ruler of most of Afghanistan. The mullah, a heavyset 38-year old who lost his right eye in the war against the Russians, is known to his followers as Prince of All Believers. He leads an Islamic religious movement, the Taliban, that has conquered 20 of Afghanistan’ s 32 provinces.

Mullah Omar’s call to arms in Singesar is only part of the story of the rise of the Taliban that emerged from weeks of traveling across Afghanistan and from scores of interviews with Afghans, diplomats and others who followed the movement from its earliest days in 1994. It is a story that is still unfolding, with the Taliban struggling to consolidate their hold on Kabul, the capital. The city fell three months ago to a Taliban force of a few thousand fighters, who entered the city with barely a shot fired. But the Taliban, despite their protestations of independence, did not score their successes alone. Pakistani leaders saw domestic political gains in supporting the movement, which draws most of support from the ethnic Pashtun who predominate along the Pakistan-Afghanista n border. Perhaps more important, Pakistan’s leaders, in funneling supplies of ammunition, fuel and food to the Taliban, hoped to advance an old Pakistani dream of linking their country, through Afghanistan, to an economic and political alliance with the Muslim states of Central Asia. At crucial moments during the two years of the Taliban’s rise to power, the United States stood aside. It did little to discourage support for the Afghan mullahs both from Pakistan and from another American ally, Saudi Arabia, which found its own reasons for supporting the Taliban in their conservative brand of Islam. American officials emphatically deny the assertion, widely believed among the Taliban’s opponents in Afghanistan, that the United States offered the movement covert support. American diplomats’ frequent visits to Kandahar, headquarters of the Taliban’s governing body, the officials insist, were mainly exploratory. In fact, American policy on the Taliban has seesawed back and forth. The Taliban have found favor with some American officials, who see in their implacable hostility toward Iran an important counterweight in the region. But other officials remain uncomfortable about the Taliban’s policies on women, which they say have created the most backward-looking and intolerant society anywhere in Islam. And they say that the Taliban, despite promises to the contrary, have done nothing to root out the narcotics traffickers and terrorists who have found a haven in Afghanistan under the mujahedeen.
Documentary 2006 – Declassified: The Taliban (Part 1/5)
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In its most recent policy statement on Afghanistan, the State Department called on other nations to ”engage” with the Taliban in hopes of moderating their policies. But the statement came as the Taliban were tightening still further their Islamic social code, particularly the taboos that have banned women from working, closed girls’ schools, and required all women beyond puberty to cloak themselves head to toe in garments called burqas that are the traditional garb of Afghan village women. The result, so far, is that not a single one of the member countries of the United Nations has recognized the Taliban government and none have come forward with offers of the reconstruction aid the Taliban say will be needed to rebuild this shattered country. In the words of Mullah Mohammed Hassan, one of Mullah Omar’s partners in the Taliban’s ruling council, ”We are the pariahs of the world.”

On the Rise

Catching the Tide Of Discontent

How the Taliban succeeded in pacifying much of a country that had spent years spiraling into chaos is not, as their progress from Singesar to Kabul attests, primarily a question of military prowess. Much more, it was a matter of a group of Islamic nationalists catching a high tide of discontent that built up when the mujahedeen turned from fighting Russians to plundering, and just as often killing, their own people. By 1994, after five years of mujahedeen terror, the Taliban was a movement whose time had come. One man who has seen more of the Taliban than any other outsider, Rahimullah Yusufzai, a reporter for The News in Pakistan, put it simply: ”The story of the Taliban is not one of outsiders imposing a solution, but of the Afghans themselves seeking deliverance from mujahedeen groups that had become cruel and inhuman.

Documentary 2006 – Declassified: The Taliban (Part 2/5)

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The Afghan people had been waiting a long time for relief from their miseries, and they would have accepted anybody who would have freed them from the tyranny.” In any case, Mullah Omar contends that the decision to act at Singesar was not, at the time, envisaged as a step toward power. Although he is universally known in Afghanistan as mullah, or giver of knowledge, he is a shy man who still calls himself a talib, or seeker after knowledge. He has met only once with a foreign reporter, Mr. Yusufzai. Mullah Omar said at their meeting in Kandahar that the men at Singesar intended originally only to help local villagers. ”We were fighting against Muslims who had gone wrong,” he said. ”How could we remain quiet when we could see crimes being committed against women, and the poor?” But appeals were soon coming in from villages all around Kandahar. At about the time the two girls were being abducted in Singesar, which is in the Maiwand district 35 miles to the west, two other mujahedeen commanders had confronted each other with tanks in a bazaar in Kandahar, arguing over possession of a young boy both men wanted as a homosexual partner. In the ensuing battle, dozens of civilians shopping and trading in the bazaar were killed. After the Taliban took control of Kandahar, those commanders, too, ended up hanging from Taliban nooses. With each new action against the mujahedeen, the Taliban’s manpower, and arsenal, grew. Mujahedeen fighters, and sometimes whole units, switched sides, so that the Taliban quickly came to resemble a coalition of many of the country’s fighting groups. The new recruits included many men who had served in crucial military positions as pilots, tank commanders and front-line infantry officers in the Afghan Communist forces that fought under Soviet control in the 1980’s. After a skirmish in September 1994 at Spinbaldak, on the border with Pakistan netted the new movement 800 truckloads of arms and ammunition that had been stored in caves since the Soviet occupation, there was no force to match the Taliban. Moving rapidly east and west of Kandahar in the winter of 1994 and the spring of 1995, they rolled up territory. Sometimes, using money said to have come from Saudi Arabia, Taliban commanders paid mujahedeen commanders to give up. But mostly, it was enough for Taliban units to appear on the horizon with the fluttering white flags symbolizing their Islamic puritanism.
Documentary 2006 – Declassified: The Taliban (Part 3/5)
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”In most places, the people welcomed the Taliban as a deliverance, so there was no need to fight,” recalled Mr. Yusufzai, the Pakistani reporter, who has spent more time with the Taliban than any other outsider. Another event in September 1994 gave the Taliban their most important external backer. Naseerullah Babar, Pakistan’s Interior Minister, had a vision for extricating his wedge-shaped country from the precarious position in which it was placed when it was created in 1947 by the partition of India from territories running along British India’s frontiers with Afghanistan. Mr. Babar saw a Pakistan linked to the newly independent Muslim republics of what had been Soviet Central Asia, along roads and railways running across Afghanistan. He believed that stability in Afghanistan would mean a potential economic bonanza for Pakistan and a strategic breakthrough for the West. ”It was in the West’s overall interest,” he said in an interview in Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital. ”Unless the Central Asian states have an opening to the sea, they will never be free from Russia.” With the rise of Taliban power around Kandahar, Mr. Babar spied a chance to prove the vision’s practicability. Using Pakistan Government funds, he arranged a ”peace convoy” of heavily loaded trucks to run rice, clothing and other gifts north from Quetta in Pakistan, through Kandahar, and onward to Ashkhabad, the capital of Turkmenistan. But outside the American-built airport at Kandahar, a mujahedeen commander guarding one of the thousands of checkpoints that had made an obstacle course of any Afghan journey seized the convoy, demanding ransom. Once again, the Taliban intervened, freeing the convoy and hanging, again from a tank barrel, the commander who hijacked it. Mr. Babar’s subsequent enthusiasm for the Taliban gave rise to a widespread belief among the the group’s opponents that they were a Pakistani creation, or at least that their growing military power was sustained by cash, arms and ammunition from Pakistan. Because of Pakistan’s close ties with the United States, it was a short step for these Taliban opponents to conclude that Washington was also backing the Taliban.
Documentary 2006 – Declassified: The Taliban (Part 4/5)
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After Kabul fell in September, Americans venturing into non-Taliban areas north of Kabul faced a common taunt from soldiers of the ousted Government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani. ”The Taliban are American puppets!” they said. But while that was not accurate, there were ties between American officials and the growing movement that were considerably broader than those to any other Western country. From early on, American diplomats in Islamabad had made regular visits to Kandahar to see Taliban leaders. In briefings for reporters, the diplomats cited what they saw as positive aspects of the Taliban, which they listed as a capacity to end the war in Afghanistan and its promises to put an end to the use of Afghanistan as a base for narcotics trafficking and international terrorism. Unmentioned, but probably most important to Washington, was that the Taliban, who are Sunni Muslims, have a deep hostility for Iran, America’s nemesis, where the ruling majority belong to the rival Shiite sect of Islam. Along the way, Washington developed yet another interest in the Taliban as potential backers for a 1,200-mile gas pipeline that an American energy company, Union Oil Company of California, has proposed building from Quetta, in Pakistan, to Turkmenistan, a former Soviet republic that sits atop some of the world’s largest gas reserves, but has limited means to export them. The project, which Unocal executives have estimated could cost $5 billion, would be built in conjunction with the Delta Oil Company, a Saudi Arabian concern that also has close links to the Taliban. Among the advisers Unocal has employed to deal with the Taliban is Robert B. Oakley, a former American Ambassador to Pakistan. American officials, however, denied providing any direct assistance, covert or otherwise, to the Taliban. Similar assurances were given to Russia and India, as well as indirectly to Iran, countries that were involved in heavy arms shipments of their own to the Taliban’s main opponents, the armies of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum and President Rabbani that control the 12 northern provinces that continue to resist the Taliban. ”We do not have any relationship with the Taliban, and we never have had,” David Cohen, the Central Intelligence Agency official who directs the agency’s clandestine operations, told Indian officials in New Delhi in November.
Documentary 2006 – Declassified: The Taliban (Part 5/5)
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Mr. Babar offered similar denials, asserting that ”there has been no financial or material aid to the Taliban from Pakistan.” But Western intelligence officials in Pakistan said the denials were a smokescreen for a policy of covert support that Mr. Babar, a retired Pakistani general, had extended to the Taliban after the convoy episode at Kandahar airport. That support, the intelligence officials said, apart from ammunition and fuel, included the deployment at crucial junctures of Pakistani military advisers. The advisers were easy to hide, since they were almost all ethnic Pashtuns, from the same tribe that make up an overwhelming majority of the Taliban. Gaining Support To U.S. Diplomats A Rosy Picture American officials like Robin Raphel, the top State Department official dealing directly with matters involving Afghanistan, have placed heavy emphasis on the hope that contacts with the new rulers in Kabul will encourage them to soften their policies, especially toward women. They also say that the United States sees the Taliban, with its Islamic conservatism, as the best, and perhaps the only, chance that Afghanistan will halt the poppy growing and opium production that have made Afghanistan, with an estimated 2,500 tons of raw opium a year, the world’s biggest single-country source of the narcotic. A similar argument is made on the issue of the network of international terrorists, many of them Arabs, who have set up bases inside Afghanistan. But as the Taliban consolidate their power in Kabul, the signs of cooperation are not strong. In the week before Christmas, as bitterly cold winds from the 20,000-foot Hindu Kush mountains swept down on Kabul, senior Taliban officials seemed to be in a more pugnacious mood than in October, when a counteroffensive by the Rabbani and Dostum forces came within 10 miles of Kabul.

The attacking forces have since been driven back beyond artillery range, allowing the Taliban to concentrate on tightening their grip on Kabul’s restive population of 1.5-million. The sense that those Taliban leaders now give is that they see little reason to accommodate the West. Reports from United Nations officials monitoring drug flows suggest the Taliban have done nothing to impede the trafficking and that in the key provinces of Helmand and Nangarhar — accounting for more than 90 per cent of the opium production — they are in league with the drug producers, taxing them, and storing some of the opium in Taliban-guarded warehouses. Turning Away Elusive Positions On West’s Concerns Confronted with these reports, Taliban leaders have a stock response. ”We intend to stop the drug trafficking, because it is against Islamic laws,” they have said. ”But until we can rebuild our economy, there are no other jobs, so now is not the time.” The Taliban position on those who support international terrorists is still more elusive. According to Western intelligence estimates, as many as 400 trained terrorists are living in areas under Taliban control, some of them with links to the groups that mounted the bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993 and other major attacks, including the attempted assassination of President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in Ethiopia in 1995 and attacks in France by Algerian militants. One of the most-wanted men of all, Osama Bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian businessman who has been called one of the most significant financial sponsors of Islamic extremists in the world by the State Department, has been spotted within the past month at a heavily guarded home in the Afghan city of Jalalabad, held by the Taliban since early September. But it is on their treatment of women that Western governments’ attitudes seem most likely to hinge, and on that matter the Taliban show no sign of relenting. After a Taliban radio bulletin earlier this month celebrated the fact that 250 Kabul women had been beaten by Taliban in a single day for not observing the dress code, an Australian working as a coordinator for private Western aid agencies in Kabul, Ross Everson, visited one of the city’s top Taliban officials, Mullah Mohammed Mutaqi, to appeal for a turn toward what Mr. Everson called ”the doctrine of moderation that the Islamic faith is famous for.” Mullah Mutaqi stood up and waved his fist in Mr. Everson’s face. ”You are insulting us,” he said, Then, snuggling back into the blanket that Taliban officials wear around their shoulders for warmth in the unheated offices of Kabul, he made his clinching argument. ”I must ask you, are you the Muslim here, or am I?” he said. ”If you Westerners want to help us, you are welcome. Otherwise you are free to leave Afghanistan. You may think we cannot survive without you, but I can tell you, God will provide the Taliban with everything we need.” REFERENCE: “How Afghanistan’ s Stern Rulers Took Power,” New York Times, December 31, 1996 by JOHN F. BURNS and STEVE Levine FOR INDEPTH DETAILS: Major General (Retd) Naseerullah Khan Babar, Scandals & Shenanigans

US placed the Taliban in Afghanistan in 1996 – CNN’s Crossfire – 09.11.02
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The Taliban invented

But first stability had to be restored to Afghanistan. During the civil war fighting in 1995 the first substantial numbers of Taliban appeared, “invented” by the Pakistani ISI and perhaps funded by the CIA and Saudi Arabia. Unocal and its Saudi partner Delta Oil may have even played a major role in buying off local commanders. Security in Afghanistan was apparently their sole purpose. On 26 September 1996 the Taliban took Kabul. Michael Bearden, a CIA representative in Afghanistan during the war against the USSR and currently the CIA’s unofficial spokesman, recalls how US viewed the situation at the time: the Taliban were not considered the worst: they were young and hot-headed, but that was better than civil war. They controlled all the territory between Pakistan and Turkmenistan’s gas fields, which might be good as it would be possible to build a pipeline across Afghanistan and supply gas and energy to the new market. Everyone was happy (5). Unocal’s vice-president, Chris Taggart, barely bothered to pretend Unocal was not backing the Taliban; he described their advance as a positive development. Claiming that Taliban seizure of power was likely to help the gas pipeline project, he even envisaged US recognition of the Taliban (6). He was wrong, but no matter: this was the honeymoon between the US and the “theology students”. Anything goes where oil and gas are involved. In fact, in November 1997 Unocal invited a Taliban delegation to the US and, in early December, the company opened a training centre at the University of Omaha, Nebraska, to instruct 137 Afghans in pipeline construction technology. The political and military situation showed no improvement, leading some in Washington to consider support for the Taliban and the oil pipeline a political mistake. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott warned in 1997 that the region could become a centre for terrorists, a source of political and religious extremism and a theatre of war (7).

An important new factor was influencing Afghanistan’s internal affairs and external relations: Osama bin Laden had sought refuge in Afghanistan after leaving Saudi Arabia. On 22 February 1998, with the support of the Taliban, he launched al-Qaida, a radical international Islamist movement, from Afghanistan. He also issued a fatwa authorising attacks on US interests and nationals. During a visit to Kabul on 16 April 1998, Bill Richardson, the US representative to the UN, raised the question of Bin Laden with the Taliban. They played down the problem. Tom Simons, ambassador to Pakistan, said that the Taliban assured him that Bin Laden did not have the religious authority to issue a fatwa. But on 8 August 1998 bombs destroyed the US embassies in Dar-es-Salaam and Nairobi, killing 224 people, including 12 Americans. The US responded by launching 70 cruise missiles against Afghanistan and strikes on Sudan. Bin Laden became US public enemy number one, although it was more than six months before an international arrest warrant was issued. Having failed to capture Bin Laden, the US hoped to negotiate with the Taliban to have him expelled from Afghanistan. But the attacks did collateral damage: Unocal announced that it was abandoning the Afghan gas pipeline. In 1997 the Six plus Two Group was set up, made up of Afghanistan’s six neighbours (Iran, Pakistan, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) with Russia and the US. The group acts under the auspices of the UN and its special envoy to Afghanistan, Lakhdar Brahimi , a very experienced Algerian diplomat who took the post in July 1998. After the military and political failure of its earlier missions, the UN has again become crucial in the region. There were several diplomatic initiatives in the region in 1998, then on 12 March 1999, following Iran, the US moved closer to Russia on Afghanistan. Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl Inderfurth went to Moscow. Very little divided the Russians and the Americans, including the role they envisaged for Teheran. According to Inderfurth, Iran as Afghanistan’s neighbour could help end conflict. Iran could play a positive role and the Six plus Two Group could provide a structure.

Inderfurth saw the irony: Afghanistan was an area where Russians and Americans could work together to end a war in which the Russians were involved, openly supporting the Northern Alliance. A new diplomatic game The first signs of current concerns also appeared in 1998. They included initiatives by factions close to supporters of former King Zahir Shah, who was ousted in 1973 and lives in exile in Rome. In a report to the Security Council, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed “the Loya Jirgah (grand assembly) as an informal, time-honoured method of settling disputes, advocated by leaders of non-warring Afghan factions.” He suggested encouraging “the UN Special Mission to Afghanistan to maintain useful contacts with them” (8). Other initiatives were taken around the UN, including a meeting of 21 countries influential in Afghanistan (9). The new diplomatic game began with the full meeting of the Six plus Two Group on 19 July 1999 in Tashkent (Uzbekistan), the first time representatives of the Taliban and members of the Northern Alliance were to sit at the same table. The Taliban, in control of 90% of Afghan territory, refused to allow the Northern Alliance to be represented. As expected, the meeting was a failure, but from then the Group provided the channel for most diplomatic initiatives. Washington refused to abandon hope that the Taliban would surrender Bin Laden, and continued to maintain contacts and encourage processes directed to a political solution. With US blessing, a meeting to promote the Loya Jirgah was arranged by Zahir Shah and held in Rome, 22-25November 1999. The UN Security Council had adopted a resolution calling upon the Taliban to extradite Bin Laden, and imposing limited sanctions. On 18 January 2000 Spanish diplomat Francesc Vendrell replaced Lakdhar Brahimi, who, dispirited by the lack of progress, had resigned. Two days later, Karl Inderfurth went to Islamabad to meet Pakistan’s new leader, General Pervez Musharraf. He also met two senior Taliban representatives and demanded: “Give us Bin Laden”. In return, he offered to regularise relations between Kabul and the world. Although Washington denied it, the Taliban, internationally condemned for policies towards women, attitudes to human rights and protection of Bin Laden, were still in talks with the US. On 27 November the Taliban deputy minister of foreign affairs, Abdur Rahman Zahid, gave a lecture at the Washington Middle East Institute, calling for political recognition of the Taliban regime and intimating that the Bin Laden affair could then be settled (10). On 30 September 2000, on an Iranian initiative, there were fresh negotiations in Cyprus. Among those present were supporters of the former “butcher of Kabul”, Islamic extremist Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who had enjoyed the backing of the US and Saudi Arabia against the USSR, but was now in exile in Iran. The Northern Alliance established contacts with the pro-Zahir Shah Rome delegates.

On 6 April 2001 those contacts resulted in an initial joint meeting between the Rome process, in favour of a Loya Jirgah under the auspices of the former King, and the Cyprus process sponsored by the Iranians. Though disagreeing with the pro-Iranian element, the other factions agreed to further meetings. The discussions continued. On 3 November 2000 Vendrell had announced that the Taliban and the Northern Alliance had jointly considered a draft peace plan under the auspices of the Six plus Two Group (11). That coincided with a hardening of attitude within the Taliban as a result of international sanctions. In the spring, tension erupted in the destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas. Meanwhile the Six plus Two Group had begun a new, and final, stage — so the Americans thought. A sub-group was secretly set up, supposed to be more effective, of diplomats or specialists with the most up-to-date experience of the region. The delegates’ foreign ministries secretly managed its work. Meetings were held in Berlin, with only the US, Russia, Iran and Pakistan present. The delegates included Robert Oakley, former US ambassador and Unocal lobbyist; Naiz Naik, former foreign minister of Pakistan; Tom Simons, former US ambassador and the most recent official negotiator with the Taliiban; a former Russian special envoy to Afghanistan, Nikolai Kozyrev, and Saeed Rajai Khorassani, formerly the Iranian representative to the UN. Winning the jackpot At the first meetings in November 2000 and March 2001, to prepare for direct negotiations between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, the participants discussed a political undertaking to give the Taliban a way out. According to Naiz Naik, the group wanted to respond to what the Taliban would say about their international approach, a broad-based government and human rights. Naik said the idea was that “we would then try to covey to them that if they did certain things, then, gradually, they could win the jackpot — get something in return from the international community”.

According to the Pakistanis present at the meeting, if the Taliban agreed to review human rights issues within two or three years and accept a transitional government with the Northern Alliance, they would gain massive (financial and technical) international aid to rebuild the country. According to Naik, the objective was to restore peace and stability, and secure the pipeline. It might, he said, be possible to persuade the Taliban that once a broader-based government was in place and the oil pipeline under way, there would be billions of dollars in commission, and the Taliban would have their own resources — the “jackpot” indeed. The US was still determined to get hold of Bin Laden. According to Tom Simons, if the Taliban surrendered him or entered into serious negotiations, the US would be ready to embark on a major reconstruction project. In Washington, the State Department was resolute. The administration had changed and the oil industry was over-represented within government, starting with President George Bush. The task of negotiating with the Taliban was given to Christina Rocca, the new assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs, who knew about Afghanistan, a country she had dealt with between 1982 and 1987, when she worked for the CIA. On 12 February the US ambassador to the UN gave an assurance that, at the request of Vendrell, the US would develop a continuing dialogue on humanitarian bases with the Taliban (12). The US believed so firmly in the future of the negotiations that the State Department blocked the FBI investigation into the possible involvement of Bin Laden and his Taliban accomplices in the attack on the USS Cole, in Aden (Yemen) in October 2000. They had John O’Neill, the FBI’s “Mr Bin Laden”, expelled from Yemen to prevent him investigating further (13).

The third meeting was to take place, again in Berlin, between 17 and 21 July, in the presence of the Taliban representative, foreign minister Mullah Mutawkil, and the representative of the Northern Alliance, foreign minister Abdullah Abdullah. In early July, a secret meeting had been held between 21 countries influential in Afghanistan, at Weston Park in the UK. A compromise solution based on the former king was approved, particularly by the Northern Alliance. Naiz Naik explained that it was necessary to tell the Taliban that if they refused to cooperate, the Zahir Shah option would be available. From that point, diplomacy saw Zahir Shah as a possible replacement for the Taliban. Unfortunately, the plan collapsed. The Taliban first rejected it because of the involvement of Vendrell: he represented the UN, responsible for the international sanctions. And an attempt was being made to get them to talk to parties to whom they objected. According to Naik, at this point Tom Simons referred to an open-ended military option against Afghanistan from bases in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. The locations seemed plausible, as these were countries known to have military cooperation agreements with the US. But was a specific threat made? Ambassador Simons dismisses this. He was not there in an official capacity and had no authority to issue threats (but would the Taliban have turned up to meet unofficial delegates with no contact with the State Department?) I He merely stated that the US was looking at evidence relating to the USS Cole, pointing out that if the US established that Bin Laden was behind it, there would be military action. It is worth noting that on 5 July, in the belief that the Taliban were taking part in the negotiations, the US was specifically not looking for evidence in relation to the attack on the USS Cole. The Pakistani delegation reported what had been said to the ministry and the secret services. They, no doubt, informed the Taliban. In late July, Islamabad and Pakistani military circles were buzzing with rumours of war. According to an unofficial source at the French foreign ministry, it is possible that, by exaggerating what Simons had said, the Pakistani secret services were trying to pressure the Taliban to expel Bin Laden.

On one last occasion, on 29 July, Christina Rocca held unsuccessful discussions with the Taliban ambassador in Pakistan. The negotiations were at an end. The FBI began to look for evidence against Bin Laden. A possibility haunts people. What if, convinced the US was going to war, Bin Laden fired the first shot? On 11 September the towers of the World Trade Centre were destroyed by men activated no earlier than mid-August. Three days later, Unocal announced that the suspended proposal for a gas pipeline would remain on ice and it would refuse to negotiate with the Taliban, in the expectation that the Kabul regime would fall. A month later, US bombing began. The Tajiks and Uzbeks “agreed” to provide military facilities to US forces. To combat terrorism, Russia “spontaneously” promised all the assistance necessary to the US, and the anti-Taliban factions finally reached an agreement. All this happened in two months. On 27 November 2001 US energy secretary, Spencer Abraham, and a team from the Energy Department, went to Novosibirsk, in Russia, to facilitate the completion and opening of the oil pipeline of the Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) — a link costing eight companies, including Chevron, Texaco and Exxonmobil, $2.5bn. It was, according to Abraham, a fresh start for relations between Russia and the US (14) — and a further foothold for the US in exploiting the vast oil resources of the former Soviet Union. Hamid Karzai was appointed head of the Afghan interim government agreed at the Bonn meetings. It then emerged that during the negotiations over the Afghan oil pipeline, Karzai had been a consultant for Unocal. Brzezinski must be very amused. REFERENCE: The US and the Taliban: a done deal By Pierre Abramovici

THE MASSACRE IN MAZAR-I SHARIF On August 8, 1998, Taliban militia forces captured the city of Mazar-i Sharif in northwest Afghanistan, the only major city controlled by the United Front, the coalition of forces opposed to the Taliban. The fall of Mazar was part of a successful offensive that gave the Taliban control of almost every major city and important significant territory in northern and central Afghanistan. Within the first few hours of seizing control of the city, Taliban troops killed scores of civilians in indiscriminate attacks, shooting noncombatants and suspected combatants alike in residential areas, city street sand markets. Witnesses described it as a “killing frenzy” as the advancing forces shot at “anything that moved.” Retreating opposition forces may also have engaged in indiscriminate shooting as they fled the city. Human Rights Watch believes that at least hundreds of civilians were among those killed as the panicked population of Mazar-i Sharif tried to evade the gunfire or escape the city. REFERENCE: AFGHANISTAN:

MASSACRES OF HAZARAS IN AFGHANISTAN This report documents two massacres committed by Taliban forces in the central highlands of Afghanistan, in January 2001 and May 2000. In both cases the victims were primarily Hazaras, a Shia Muslim ethnic group that has been the target of previous massacres and other serious human rights violations by Taliban forces. These massacres took place in the context of the six-year war between the Taliban and parties now grouped in the United National Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan (the “United Front”), in which international human rights and humanitarian law have been repeatedly violated by the warring factions. Ethnic and religious minorities, and the Hazaras in particular, have been especially vulnerable in areas of conflict, and Taliban forces have committed large-scale abuses against Hazara civilians with impunity. In this report Human Rights Watch calls upon the United Nations to investigate both massacres and to systematically monitor human rights and humanitarian law violations by all parties to Afghanistan’s civil war. The massacre in Yakaolang district began on January 8, 2001 and continued for four days. In the course of conducting search operations following the recapture of the district from two Hazara-based parties in the United Front, the Taliban detained about 300 civilian adult males, including staff members of local humanitarian organizations. The men were herded to assembly points in the center of the district and several outlying areas, and then shot by firing squad in public view. About 170 men are confirmed to have been killed.

The killings were apparently intended as a collective punishment for local residents whom the Taliban suspected of cooperating with United Front forces, and to deter the local population from doing so in the future. The findings concerning events in Yakaolang are based on the record of interviews with eyewitnesses that were made available to Human Rights Watch and other corroborating evidence. The May 2000 massacre took place near the Robatak pass on the border between Baghlan and Samangan provinces. Thirty-one bodies were found at one site to the northwest of the pass. Twenty-six of the dead were positively identified as civilians from Baghlan province. Of the latter, all were unlawfully detained for four months and some were tortured before they were killed. Human Rights Watch’s findings in this case are based in large part on interviews with a worker who participated in the burials and with a relative of a detainee who was executed at Robatak. These accounts have been further corroborated by other independent sources. With respect to both massacres, all names of sources, witnesses, and survivors have been withheld. Mullah Mohammad Omar, the head of the Taliban movement, has stated that there is no evidence of a civilian massacre in Yakaolang and blocked journalists from visiting the district, until recently accessible only by crossing Taliban-held territory. On the night of February 13-14, 2001, however, United Front forces recaptured Bamiyan city, the provincial capital. The offensive secured an airport and a road link to Yakaolang. On January 19, 2001, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement expressing concern about “numerous credible reports” that civilians were deliberately targeted and killed in Yakaolang. The secretary-general called on the Taliban to take “immediate steps to control their forces,” adding that the reports required “prompt investigation” and that those responsible should “be brought to justice.”1

On February 16, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson called for the establishment of an independent commission of inquiry into human rights violations in Afghanistan. Human Rights Watch is concerned that such a commission would take too long to establish; the need is for a small team of experts that could be deployed immediately. The Taliban’s denial of responsibility for the Yakaolang massacre, and its failure to hold its commanders accountable for these and other abuses against civilians by its forces, make it critical that the U.N. itself investigate both cases. There have been preliminary discussions within the U.N. on the feasibility of investigating the Yakaolang massacre; a similar discussion also took place after the Robatak massacre, although no further action was taken. These discussions should be resumed. In doing so, however, the U.N. should not repeat the missteps that resulted in an inconclusive 1999 field investigation by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, into the 1997 killing of Taliban prisoners by United Front forces in Mazar-i Sharif and the reprisal massacre of Hazara civilians by Taliban forces the following year. To allow an effective investigation into the cases documented in this report, the U.N. should adopt the measures outlined below. REFERENCE: 1 Secretary-General, United Nations, “Secretary-General very concerned about reports of civilians deliberately targeted and killed in Afghanistan,” January 19, 2001, as posted on Relief Web,

(accessed February 16, 2001). Afghanistan: The Massacre in Mazar-I Sharif NOVEMBER 1, 1998 November 1998 Vol. 10, No. 7 (C) AFGHANISTAN February 2001 Vol. 13, No 1(C)

Dec. 15, 1997 A Taliban delegation has visited Washington and was received by some State Department officials. The Talib delegation’s meeting with U.S. Undersecretary of State for South Asia Karl Inderforth was arranged by the Unocal, which is eager to build a pipeline to pump gas from Turkmenistan to Pakistan via Afghan territory. “We made our position clear, namely that the pipeline could be useful for Afghanistan’s rehabilitation, but only if the situation was settled there by political means”, a State Department official said on condition of anonymity. He stated that the Taliban representatives were told that they should form “a broadly-based government together with their rivals before the ambitious project to build an oil and gas pipeline is launched”. According to Taliban assessments, only one pipeline could yield almost $ 300 mm for rehabilitating the war-ravaged Afghanistan. The Taliban delegation included Acting Minister for Mines and Industry Ahmed Jan, Acting Minister for Culture and Information Amir Muttaqi, Acting Minister for Planning Din Muhammad, and recently appointed Taliban Permanent Delegate on the United Nations Mujahid. A State Department official described the talks as “open and useful”. He said that they also touched on the production of opium and open poppy on the Taliban-controlled territory, human rights, treatment of women, and on America’s attitude to the projected pipeline. Asked whether there could be problems for the U.S. government if it backed the commercial investments into a country, which is ruled by Islamic fundamentalists, who, according to western standards, are oppressing women, the State Department official said that any real “political settlement” would resolve this problem. In the meantime, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright described the Talib government only a month ago as something quite disgusting due to its policy of oppressing women. FOR FURTHER READING: Taliban visit Washington Volume 3, issue #6 – 25-02-1998

Read this US Government Declassified Documents. UN lifts sanctions on five former Taliban officials Wednesday, 27 Jan, 2010 Taliban leaders may join Afghan govt: US By Anwar Iqbal Tuesday, 26 Jan, 2010 Mullah Omar open to talks: Colonel Imam Tuesday, 26 Jan, 2010

And while the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan and the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi stand officially disbanded, their most militant son and leader, Maulana Azam Tariq, an accused in several cases of sectarian killing, contested elections from jail – albeit as an independent candidate – won his seat, and was released on bail shortly thereafter. Musharraf rewrote election rules to disqualify former Prime Ministers Mohammed Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, and threatened to toss them in jail if they returned from abroad, which badly undermined both Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League and Bhutto’s Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). Musharraf has plainly given the religious groups more free rein in the campaign than he has allowed the two big parties that were his main rivals. In Jhang city, in Punjab province, Maulana Azam Tariq, leader of an outlawed extremist group called Sipah-e-Sahaba, which has been linked to numerous sectarian killings, is being allowed to run as an independent despite election laws that disqualify any candidate who has criminal charges pending, or even those who did not earn a college degree. “It makes no sense that Benazir can’t run in the election,” says one Islamabad-based diplomat, “and this nasty guy can.” References: And this takes me back to Pervez Musharraf’s first visit to the US after his coup. At a meeting with a group of journalists among whom I was present, my dear and much lamented friend Tahir Mirza, then the Dawn correspondent, asked Musharraf why he was not acting against Lashkar-e Tayba and Jaish-e Muhammad. Musharraf went red in the face and shot back, “They are not doing anything in Pakistan. They are doing jihad outside.” Pakistani neocons and UN sanctions Khalid Hasan This entry was posted on Sunday, December 28th, 2008 at 6:00 pm. For The ‘General’ Good By Sairah Irshad Khan Monthly Newsline January 2003 – General’s Election By TIM MCGIRK / KHANA-KHEL Monday, Oct. 07, 2002,9171,361788,00.html


In interviews, however, American intelligence officials and high-ranking military officers said that Pakistanis were indeed flown to safety, in a series of nighttime airlifts that were approved by the Bush Administration. The Americans also said that what was supposed to be a limited evacuation apparently slipped out of control, and, as an unintended consequence, an unknown number of Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters managed to join in the exodus. “Dirt got through the screen,” a senior intelligence official told me. Last week, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld did not respond to a request for comment. Musharraf won American support for the airlift by warning that the humiliation of losing hundreds—and perhaps thousands—of Pakistani Army men and intelligence operatives would jeopardize his political survival. “Clearly, there is a great willingness to help Musharraf,” an American intelligence official told me. A C.I.A. analyst said that it was his understanding that the decision to permit the airlift was made by the White House and was indeed driven by a desire to protect the Pakistani leader. The airlift “made sense at the time,” the C.I.A. analyst said. “Many of the people they spirited away were the Taliban leadership”—who Pakistan hoped could play a role in a postwar Afghan government. According to this person, “Musharraf wanted to have these people to put another card on the table” in future political negotiations. “We were supposed to have access to them,” he said, but “it didn’t happen,” and the rescued Taliban remain unavailable to American intelligence. According to a former high-level American defense official, the airlift was approved because of representations by the Pakistanis that “there were guys— intelligence agents and underground guys—who needed to get out.” REFERENCE: The Getaway Questions surround a secret Pakistani airlift. by Seymour M. Hersh January 28, 2002

Turkey Offers Reasonable Solution To Cyprus Gas Crisis

Turkish Cyprus offers proposal to UN chief over Greek gas row

Turkish Cyprus offers proposal to UN chief over Greek gas row

Eroglu said that the proposal was presented to the UN as a way of solution to the problem regarding Greek Cypriot efforts to explore oil and natural gas in the Mediterranean.

President Dervis Eroglu of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) met the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on Saturday.

Following the meeting, Eroglu told reporters that they discussed Cyprus talks as well as recent developments regarding oil and natural gas exploration in the Mediterranean which was directly related with the Cyprus talks.

Noting that they presented a new proposal including four topics to Ban within that scope, Eroglu said that the proposal was presented to the UN as a way of solution to the problem regarding Greek Cypriot efforts to explore oil and natural gas in the Mediterranean.

Listing the topics, Eroglu said, “1-Let’s suspend the oil and natural gas exploration simultaneously until a comprehensive solution is found to Cyprus problem, 2-If this is not going to happen, then we shall set up an ad-hoc committee shaped by representatives of both peoples. We shall give some authorities to the committee such as; explorations, agreements and licences depend on written approval of both sides, and we will negotiate the ratio of sharing the richness which will be found, 3-We shall use the income to finance the comprehensive talks, 4-Adoption of the plan shall not harm the positions of both sides.”

Eroglu said that Ban was pleased with the proposal.

Earlier this week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Eroglu signed in New York an agreement on the delineation of the continental shelf between two countries in the East Mediterranean following a Greek Cypriot move to start offshore drilling for natural gas and oil in the southeast of the Eastern Mediterranean island.

In 2010, Greek Cypriot administration and Israel signed an accord demarcating their maritime borders to facilitate a search for mineral deposits in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Greek Cypriot administration has recently begun oil and natural gas exploration and drilling.

The Greek Cypriot side had signed a deal with U.S.-based Noble Energy to start drilling in an 324,000-hectare economic zone.

When asked whether TRNC could give authorization to explore oil and natural gas only for north of the island after signing the agreement on the delineation of continental shelf with Turkey, Eroglu said that Turkish Cypriots had rights on all underwater richness around Cyprus island so that TRNC had the right to give authorization both north and the south of the island.

When asked how this process would affect the intensified Cyprus talks, Eroglu said that TRNC wanted to pursue talks, adding that the talks would continue on Tuesday.

Eroglu then held a bilateral meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

CIA created Haqqani network: Rehman Malik

CIA created Haqqani network: Rehman Malik

Our security forces are capable of handling terrorists and countering any challenge: Rehman Malik.—File photo

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Sunday said that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of the United States not Pakistan created the Haqqani network and trained its members.

Talking to media representatives at a ceremony here, Malik said that the Haqqani network was present in Afghanistan and those claiming otherwise should provide evidence of its presence in Pakistan.

“We will fight the terrorists as our forces are capable of handling them and countering any challenge,” the minister said.

US-Pakistan ties ‘heading for meltdown’

US-Pakistan ties ‘heading for meltdown’

Ravi Velloor

Ten years after the Pervez Musharraf government abruptly reversed Pakistan’s policy of helping the United States topple the Taleban government in Afghanistan, Islamabad’s ties with Washington are hitting new lows with each passing day.

The chief reason has to do with the Pakistan establishment’s unflinching support for the groups of tribal militants loosely banded as the Quetta Shura.

Angered and frustrated at the repeated attacks on American and Nato forces by Pakistan-backed militants, the US is threatening to ignore Pakistani sensitivities and mount hot pursuits in the barely governed tribal badlands of Pakistan.

There are even murmurs of the unthinkable — Pakistan being branded a state sponsor of terrorism — if ties deteriorate further.

Meanwhile, the US is actively looking to expand alternate supply routes into Afghanistan to cut its dependence on the Pakistani port of Karachi.

Taken together, dark clouds are looming over US ties with Pakistan, once so tight that US pilot Gary Powers, whose U-2 spy plane was brought down over Russia in 1960, had taken off from a Pakistani airfield for his mission. When the Soviets occupied Afghanistan two decades later, Pakistan was the staging point for the US-backed Afghan resistance.

Now, their interests are completely misaligned and as American frustration grows, hot words are flying.

Last week, US envoy Cameron Munter went on Pakistan radio to decry Islamabad’s support for the Haqqani militant network, directly accusing it of targeting US and Nato offices in Kabul in a bid to control Afghanistan’s post-2014 future.

On Wednesday, his boss, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, gave her young Pakistani counterpart, the designer-clothed Hina Rabbani Khar, a dressing down.

And just the day before, Admiral Mike Mullen, the soon-to-retire chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pakistani state was using the Haqqanis as “proxies.”

The US Senate Appropriations Committee also voted to make aid to Pakistan conditional on its cooperation to fight militants. Islamabad yesterday promised to take action against the Haqqanis if Washington provides sufficient intelligence, but denied that they were in Pakistan.

Admiral Mullen said he raised the need for Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), to sever ties with the Haqqani network during talks with Pakistan army chief Ashfaq Kayani last Friday.

“The ISI has been… supporting proxies for an extended period of time. I think that strategic approach has to shift in the future,” he said.

The blunt remarks raised eyebrows because Admiral Mullen claims a personal friendship with General Kayani. But for those following the steady decline in US-Pakistani ties, it came as no surprise.

“The US-Pakistani partnership has been steadily marching to a meltdown ever since it was resuscitated, thanks to divergent objectives, poor alternatives and endless illusions,” said respected analyst Ashley Tellis of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“Although the US was aware of Pakistan’s active support for the Taleban resurgence as early as 2003, and for anti-Indian jihadi groups even earlier, they did not receive serious attention as long as Afghanistan remained stable. The real strains emerged when the Pakistani backing of the Quetta Shura began to dangerously undermine US operations in Afghanistan.”

The Quetta Shura — shura means council — is a coalition of anti-US groups comprising the Haqqani brothers, Mullah Omar’s Taleban and others. The Haqqanis were blamed for staging the 17-hour stand-off in Kabul last week when militants attacked the US Embassy and Nato headquarters. The US thinks the ISI directly ordered the assault.

Interestingly, the US has not yet classified the Haqqanis as a foreign terrorist organisation.

“The reason is that doing so would mean it will have to also categorise Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism,” said a Western diplomatic source. “There would be many consequences and Washington has to think through all of them carefully. But this is something not to be ruled out for the future. Pakistan must decide whether it wants to be on the side of the problem or the solution.”

Although some of the Shura’s key leaders have been picked up by Pakistani forces in recent months, the US is convinced that it continues to be backed by the ISI.

A string of Indian consulates set up in Afghanistan — all allowed by the India-friendly Hamid Karzai regime — has exacerbated Pakistani insecurities. And it has not helped that India has excellent ties with Tajikistan, on Afghanistan’s northern border, whose Ayni airbase is India’s only foreign military asset.

Meanwhile, the US is desperately building up alternate supply routes.

This month, it was revealed that President Barack Obama was planning to push Congress to lift a seven-year-old arms embargo on Uzbekistan. The idea is to woo Tashkent into closer cooperation with the overland supply route from Europe to Afghanistan, called the Northern Distribution Network (NDN).

Currently, the dominant supply route is through Karachi, from where the supplies pass overland and through the Khyber Pass into Afghanistan.

But the US move suggests that Washington expects that route to get more and more dangerous. Hence the need to get the Uzbeks’ cooperation, never mind that the NDN is a far more expensive route.

©The Straits Times. Reprinted by arrangement with Asia News network.

“The Karachi Affair”

“The Karachi Affair”

THE French President is fighting to prevent a scandal involving allegations of high-level corruption – and even murder – defining his bid for re-election.

Nicolas Sarkozy is suspected by investigators of involvement in alleged kickbacks to help finance Edouard Balladur’s 1995 presidential campaign from illicit commissions said to have been paid on the sale of three submarines to Pakistan.

At the time, Mr Sarkozy was a junior minister backing Mr Balladur, the prime minister, against Jacques Chirac, their party leader.

The so-called “Karachi affair” began in 1994 when France sold three submarines to Pakistan. It is alleged Pakistani and French officials took a cut from the contract and that some of that money found its way, a year later, into Mr Balladur’s election war chest.

Mr Sarkozy, who dismissed the affair in June as a “grotesque fable”, is alleged to have been involved in the transfer of the illicit funds. The President cannot be prosecuted while in office, but the shadow of sleaze could dog his re-election campaign.

Yesterday, the left-wing opposition and families of 11 French workers killed by a car bomb in Karachi in 2002 called on Mr Sarkozy to answer questions over the E820 million submarine deal.

Socialist leader Martine Aubry called for absolute transparency. The Communist Party said: “We are facing a corruption scandal at the highest level of the state.”

The controversy is seen as a symptom of the long feud between Mr Chirac and the Balladur-Sarkozy pair, who betrayed him in 1995 by trying to block his path to the presidency.

Mr Chirac was, at the time, the boss of both as leader of the Rassemblement pour la Republique, the Gaullist movement.

The scandal erupted in March last year when a French judge expressed his strong suspicion that the 2002 Karachi bombing, which killed 11 French submarine engineers and local dock staff, had been ordered by Pakistani military officers and not by al-Qa’ida, as Pakistan had claimed.

The judge told the families of victims he believed the attack was retaliation for Mr Chirac’s decision in 1995 to halt payments of E83m in commissions to Pakistan. He suspected the newly elected president had stopped payment to prevent further funds from reaching Mr Balladur’s political campaign.

Suspicions that some of the bribes were kicked back to France intensified in January when the Luxembourg police reported that Mr Sarkozy had set up a company there in 1994, when he was Mr Balladur’s budget minister.

“We are led to believe in the existence of a form of retro-commission to pay for political campaigns in France,” the Luxembourg police told the French judge investigating the matter.

Mr Sarkozy denies the claims. But suspicion increased when it became known Mr Balladur’s 1995 campaign accounts contained E1m in unexplained cash.

In 2002 a suicide bomber killed 14 workers of French marine engineering company DCN in Karachi, 11 of whom were French citizens. These killings are linked to submarine sales by France to Pakistan that go back to the early 1990s.

The Time Line


Edouard Balladur is French prime minister under then President Francois Mitterrand.

The French Naval Construction Executive (DCN) is looking to sell French submarines to Pakistan.

As France is competing with Germany for the contracts, SOFMA, the company responsible for the export of French military hardware, is offered a 6.25 percent commission on any future sales. This commission was perfectly legal at the time.


In September 1994 a contract is signed between Pakistan and France for the purchase of submarines for a total of 5.41 billion francs (826 billion euros).


SOFMA looks to pocket 338 million francs, while two Lebanese businessmen, through off-shore company Mercor Finance, look set to receive a four percent commission (216 million francs) to be shared with Pakistani intermediaries for securing the deal.

The French presidential election campaign pitches Prime Minister Edouard Balladur against Jacques Chirac for the Gaullist RPR party’s nomination. Budget Minister and future French president Nicolas Sarkozy is in charge of Balladur’s campaign.

According to left-leaning French daily Liberation in an April 2010 report, the Lebanese businessmen sold their commission contract to a Spanish bank in June 1995 for an immediate down-payment of 54 million francs, with the rest to be paid once the DCN contract with Pakistan was concluded.

Almost simultaneously, 10 million francs in cash (mostly in 500-franc notes) is paid into Balladur’s campaign fund account (one fifth of the total funds), according to the Liberation report.


Jacques Chirac wins the party nomination and is elected president. On discovering the scale of the sales and commissions to be paid, he orders an immediate inquiry led by Defence Minister Charles Millon.

In November 2010, Millon confirmed that he had concluded in his 1996 investigation that there had been kickbacks from the commission payments.

Jacques Chirac orders that all commission payments to Mercor Finance be halted immediately, although according to Liberation, payments continued well into 2001.


A suicide bomber in Karachi, Pakistan kills 14 people, of whom 11 are French naval engineers working for DCN.

France immediately accuses al Qaeda of instigating the attack – although no one has ever claimed responsibility for it.


Anti-terrorism judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, assigned to lead the investigation into the bombing, is replaced by two investigating magistrates, Marc Trevidic and Renaud Van Ruymbeke.

Marc Trevidic opens a new direction in the investigation, namely that the attack was linked to the halting of commission payments.


Weekly French news magazine Le Point reveals that a 2002 report by a former agent of the DST (French homeland defence and intelligence agency) concluded that the attacks were “financially motivated”.

2010 – June

French investigative news website Mediapart claims that, according to the Luxembourg authorities, Sarkozy (as budget minister in 1994) set up off-shore company Heine to handle transactions to Mercor Finance in the submarines deal.

The website says that Luxembourg police believed “some of the funds that passed through the Luxembourg account were channelled back to France to finance the campaigns of French political parties.”

Such allegations had been described as a “grotesque fairytale” by Sarkozy in 2009.

Investigating magistrate Trevidic confirms that there were indeed kickbacks associated with the submarine sales.

2010 – August

The families of the 2002 bombing victims start civil proceedings against Jean-Marie Boivin, former administrator of the Heine offshore fund set up in Luxembourg in 1994, for perjury.

The case is handled by Ruymbeke. But Paris prosecutor Jean-Claude Marin says that allegations of corruption by politicians in the 1990s are too old to be investigated.

2010 – October

Ruymbeke announces that he will, after all, investigate the corruption allegations – in particular, the allegations that kickbacks from the submarine sales were used to fund Balladur’s 1995 election campaign.

Balladur says that his campaign funds were given the all-clear by the French Constitutional Court in 1995 and that there is no case to answer.

On November 10, Bernard Accoyer, speaker for France’s National Assembly, refuses to hand Tredivic the testimony of some 60 people – including Balladur – who gave evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the affair, citing France’s constitutional separation of power between parliament and the judiciary.

News website Mediapart says that two of its journalists working on the Karachi file are under constant surveillance by the French security services.

The satirical newspaper Canard Enchaine claims, in the same week and in a separate case, that Sarkozy is supervising the surveillance of journalists personally. The Elysee Palace denounces these claims as “utterly ridiculous”.

On November 17, in an interview with Mediapart, Gerard-Philippe Menayas, former financial director of the DCN, says that the payment of commissions from the submarine sales passed through a Luxembourg company called Cedel, later known as Clearstream.

Clearstream is the subject of another scandal alleging illegal kickbacks from the sale of warships in the early 1990s which was linked to senior politicians including former Prime Minister Dominique De Villepin, Sarkozy’s arch enemy.

On November 18, the families of the French engineers killed in the 2002 bomb attack in Karachi call for Sarkozy to testify in the case.

A lawyer for the families said they had lodged a demand with Ruymbeke that he question Sarkozy, Jacques Chirac and also Dominique de Villepin in the case.

When the Pakistani president Asif Ali Zardari met his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy at the Elysée Palace in August, there was one subject that was most officially not on the agenda. This was the so-called ‘Karachi affair’, a complex story involving murder and allegations of corruption on high and illegal party funding.

The affaire is sparked by a two-year investigation led by Paris-based investigating magistrate Marc Trévidic into a bomb attack in Karachi on May 8th, 2002 which left 15 people dead, including 11 French employees of the defence contractor DCN (Direction des constructions navales). They were working in Karachi on the construction of three Agosta class submarines sold to Pakistan by France in a deal concluded in September, 1994 by the government of France’s then prime minister Edouard Balladur.

The magistrate has definitively ruled out the involvement of Al Qaeda, contrary to what was suggested by officials in both countries at the time. Trévidic is now working on the theory that the Karachi victims were targeted as part of a settling of accounts for the non-payment by France of kickbacks to Pakistani intermediaries involved in establishing the Agosta contract.

Storm brewing? Presidents Sarkozy and Zardari at the Elysee Palace

Like Sarkozy and Balladur in France, President Zardari, who was implicated at the time in several financial affairs, earning him the name ‘Mr 10%’, denies any involvement. “When these events took place [in 2002] I was in prison,” Zardari told French daily Le Monde in an interview published on August 4th this year. “I don’t see how I could have a link to this affair. For us this attack has nothing to do with the submarine contract […] it was a pure act of terrorism.”

While, at present, there is no material proof of a link between the attack and the submarine contract, investigating judge Trévidic has already gathered an important mass of documents and witnesses that reveal the shady financial and political actions surrounding the conclusion of the Agosta deal. Two key names have emerged from the inquiry.

In France it is Nicolas Sarkozy, who was budget minister between 1993 and 1995 and as such the person who approved the financial arrangements for arms contracts, including the payment of hidden commissions. In Pakistan it is Asif Ali Zardari, a government minister at the time and, importantly, husband of the prime minister of the day, Benazir Bhutto, whom he married in 1987.

‘Bribery went from the street-cleaner to the prime minister’

In 1994, at the time of the Agosta contract negotiations, it was perfectly legal for a company or state to ‘corrupt’ foreign decision makers politicians, officials, military officers to help win an international contract. This practice was outlawed under an agreement among OECD member countries in 1997, which France finally ratified in September, 2000.

So when in 1992 France was lining up a Pakistan submarine deal, the state – the majority shareholder in DCN could thus ‘corrupt’ in all legality. And, in the face of stiff Swedish and German competition at the time, it didn’t hold back.

The bribes were readied, even though Pakistan, which would choose France in 1994, was one of the most unstable countries in the world thanks to the corruption of its ruling classes, extreme nationalism and a slide towards fundamentalism.

Out of the 826 million-euro total of the sale of the Agosta submarines, the DCN reserved an initial amount for commissions that totalled 51.6 million euros (6.25% of the contract value). These were destined for intermediaries who would later distribute the cash to dignitaries of the purchasing country. Their purpose was persuasion. A state body was set up to provide the link between the DCN and the intermediaries, namely the Société française de matériels d’armement (Sofma), whose mission was corruption.

Questioned about this issue on November 23rd, 2009 by judge Trevidic, DCN’s former international director Emmanuel Aris told the magistrate: “To my mind, the 6.25% paid by Sofma covered all the political or military decision-makers. [They] were in my view to be for all those involved, from the street-cleaner, so to speak, to the Pakistani prime minister, passing at every level concerned.” During his evidence, Emmanuel Aris never used the word ‘corrupted’ when talking about the ultimate beneficiaries of the commissions but, more cautiously, said that they were ‘covered’.

But in front a French parliamentary fact-finding inquiry into the Karachi affaire, Emmanuel Aris was a little more specific. He told members of parliament that the bribes allocated by Sofma “were to allow the creation of a favourable environment for the clinching of the contract. [It] allowed everyone to be taken care of, the street-cleaners, low-ranking officers, the head of the naval general staff, the minister of finance as well as Madame Bhutto’s entourage.”

The most active Pakistani agent working on behalf of the DCN and Sofma in relation to the Agosta contract negotiations was Amir Lodhi. Brother of a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Amir Lodhi is a high-flying businessman and financier with a murky past. Threatened by the enormous scandal of the BCCI bank, which was linked during its collapse in 1991 to money laundering relating to terrorism and criminal networks, Lodhi came out of it legally unscathed after agreeing to cooperate with investigators. However, for a country like France seeking to sell submarines in 1994, he was an essential figure. For Amir Lodhi had a major card up his sleeve; he was close to Asif Ali Zardari, the husband [of Bhutto] with control over state contracts.

‘Four percent was for Zardari and Bhutto’

On April 6th, 2010, Henri Guittet, who was director general of Sofma at the time of the Agosta deal, told Judge Trévidic that of the 6.25% of the planned commissions “there was 4% for Zardari-Bhutto through the intermediary of Lodhi, who perhaps was keeping a little for himself.” He also told the magistrate: “I believe that in the case of Zardari they had created a company to receive this money. I don’t remember the name of the company. It was perhaps Swiss or in Panama […] Out of the remaining amount there was to be 1.5% for Lodhi himself, a little for Ansari [another intermediary] of about 0.25%, and around 1% for Zafar Iqbal [also another intermediary].”

Guittet, who is probably among those best placed to know the goings on of the Agosta deal, gave further details to the magistrate: “As for the 4% destined for Zardari-Bhutto I believe that 1% was due upon the signing of the sales contract, which means at the time when everything could start and especially when the deposit and first instalment were paid, and 1% a year later. The remaining 2% was to be paid pro rata with the customers’ payments.”

But there was more. In the summer of 1994, when France had been chosen by Pakistan and the contract was just waiting to be signed in Islamabad which occurred on September 21st – something quite extraordinary happened. At the last minute, a new round of commissions was to be made available, on the express orders of the Balladur government. Two Lebanese businessmen came on the scene and were to receive 4% in extra commissions, which amounted to around 33 million euros.

Ziad Takieddine
The Agosta submarines under review in Pakistan.

One of these agents was Ziad Takieddine: ‘friends’ in high places, who was close to Balladur’s entourage, including Nicolas Sarkozy whom he liked to introduce as “a friend”. The suspicions today about possible hidden political funding in France through the Agosta contract centre on his role. Takieddine was said have to picked up, via an obscure financial trail that involved Luxembourg and the Isle of Man, a portion of the 33 million euros released at the last minute in the Agosta deal, to be ultimately redistributed to French political decision-makers. The aim, it is alleged, was to finance the 1995 presidential campaign of Edouard Balladur, for whom Nicolas Sarkozy was spokesman then campaign director. This is what is known as a ‘retro-commission’, an accounting procedure which has always been illegal in France.

The second agent “imposed” by the Balladur government the word employed by a former DCN senior official – was called Abdulrahman El-Assir. Also close to the Balladur camp, El-Assir had another advantage. “He was a friend of Azif Ali Zardari, the husband of prime minister Benazir Bhutto, who was the key to government contracts in Pakistan,” noted Claude Thévenet, a former French counter-espionage officer hired by the DCN to investigate the Karachi attack, in a report dated September 11th, 2002.

The judge travels to Switzerland

The links between Zardari and El-Assir are far from fanciful. British officials, who had harboured suspicions of corruption by Benazir Bhutto and her husband, disclosed in April 2001 that several Swiss bank accounts of the former ruling couple in Islamabad had been credited on August 22nd, 1995 then on September 1st, 1995 one year after the signing of the Agosta deal with three million dollars transferred from a New York Citybank account. The account belonged to Abdulrahman El-Assir.

At present, it is impossible to affirm that those three million dollars corresponded to the bribes surrounding the Agosta deal but according to British investigators the sums involved do have a connection with the payment of hidden commissions.

As a result of an investigation first launched by the Pakistan government that succeeded Benazir Bhutto in 1997, the Swiss authorities also uncovered movements of money that are allegedly compromising for the Bhutto-Zardari couple. In that affair, Bhutto (who was assassinated in 2007) and her husband were pursued by several judges in Geneva for an alleged major money laundering scam, before a timely legal amnesty in Pakistan forced the Swiss authorities to halt their investigation in 2008 – just before Zardari became president of Pakistan.

It was a short-lived respite. A judgement in December 2009 by the Supreme Court in Islamabad, which considered the amnesty unconstitutional, in theory allows the re-opening of investigations. According to information gathered by Mediapart in Geneva, the name of Abdulrahman El-Assir also appeared in the Zardari dossier on the fringes of a major arms contract signed between France and Pakistan in the middle of the 1990s. According to a local source, this concerned the Agosta submarine deal.

At the end of May this year, Judge Trévidic travelled to Geneva to study the Swiss investigating file. “He wasn’t disappointed by his visit and has asked for the transmission of a number of very specific documents,” said Alix Francotte Conus, the investigating judge in Geneva overseeing French-Swiss judicial cooperation, in an interview with Swiss daily Le Temps.

Meanwhile, suspicions that the French authorities are deliberately blocking Trévidic’s enquiries were reinforced by a witness statement given last month by retired general Philippe Rondot, a former special services officer who worked for many years in French foreign intelligence. Rondot’s illustrious career included a major role in the capture of the notorious Venezuelan terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, AKA Carlos the Jackal.

Questioned by Trévidic on September 27th, he revealed that he travelled to Karachi to lead a joint mission to involving the French domestic and foreign intelligence services, the DST1 and DGSE, in June 2002, just weeks after the bomb attack against the French engineers. Trévidic had never been informed of the operation, despite his repeated requests to the French defence ministry for access to all classified reports relating to the attack.

Also last month, informed sources have told Mediapart that the president of the French parliament’s defence commission, UMP2 member of parliament Guy Tessier, this summer refused a request from Trévidic for the transcripts of interviews conducted by the commission’s enquiry into the Karachi attack.

1. The DST is now renamed the DCRI. 2. The UMP is President Sarkozy’s ruling conservative Right party.

Media articles on the blast in 2002
Pakistan Bomb Kills 11, Mostly

French Nationals

By Imran Maqbool


KARACHI (Reuters) – A suspected suicide bomber in a car killed nine French and two Pakistani nationals on Wednesday outside a top hotel in Pakistan’s volatile southern city of Karachi, police and hospital officials said.

The bomb exploded at around 8 a.m. (10 p.m. EDT), ripping through a navy bus as it was picking up the French nationals from the Sheraton Hotel, where they were staying while maintaining submarines for the Pakistani government.

Police said more than 20 people were wounded by the blast, which reduced the bus to a blackened skeleton and scattered body parts across the street. Rescue teams carried bloodied survivors away on stretchers.

Officials said members of the touring New Zealand cricket team, who were staying at the Pearl Continental Hotel across the street, were safe. New Zealand cricket authorities in Wellington immediately called off the tour.

“It was apparently a suicide bombing,” city police chief Asad Jehangir told Reuters.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the city where slain U.S. reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped earlier this year while investigating a story linked to the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

A doctor at the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre put the death toll at 11. “We have received 11 dead bodies so far and 17 injured people,” he said. “Those who are injured are in critical condition.”

The French Foreign Ministry in Paris described the blast as a car bomb and said the French nationals worked for the department of naval construction, which is attached to France’s defense ministry.


A foreign diplomat in Pakistan said the bomb exploded in a car driven alongside the bus. Witnesses said some of those killed were waiting to board the bus. Others were already on board.

Police described the car as a 1974 Toyota Corolla. Where it exploded, there was a shallow crater in the road.

Pakistan’s military president, Pervez Musharraf, threw his weight behind the U.S.-led war on terrorism and the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, a decision that angered some Muslim groups in the country.

A grenade attack in March killed five people, including the wife and daughter of an American diplomat, in a church mainly used by foreign nationals in the capital Islamabad.

Karachi, a port city of 14 million people and Pakistan’s business capital, also has a history of religious and ethnic rivalry between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.

The Pakistan stock market, which is based in Karachi, fell three percent after the blast.

Witnesses said Wednesday’s explosion smashed windows of a restaurant in the Sheraton Hotel, overturning tables and littering starched white tablecloths with debris.
(05-09) 04:00 PST Dubai, United Arab Emirates — 2002-05-09 04:00:00 PST Dubai, United Arab Emirates — A suicide bombing that officials suspect may have been mounted by al Qaeda elements took the lives of 14 people, 11 of them French naval engineers, in the Pakistani port city of Karachi on Wednesday morning.

The bomber, driving a 1974 Toyota Corolla laden with high-powered explosives, pulled alongside a shuttle bus parked outside the Sheraton Hotel and detonated his load. The thunderous explosion also killed the bus’ Pakistani driver and a passer-by, shocking an already skittish nation on the front line in the war on terror.
On May 8, 2002, a man driving a car bomb stopped next to a bus in Karachi outside the Sheraton Hotel. He detonated the car, ripping the bus apart, and killing himself, 11 Frenchmen, and 2 Pakistanis. The 11 Frenchmen were engineers working with Pakistan to design an Agosta 90B class submarine for the Pakistani Navy. About 40 others were wounded.

Contrary to official announcements by both the Pakistani and French governments at the time, it is now thought unlikely that those responsible for the attack had links to [[al-Qaeda]. It is more likely that the attack was orchestrated by Pakistani intelligence and military officials in retaliation for the failure of the French to pay them $33 million that had been previously agreed upon.[1] On September 18, 2002, a man named Sharib Zubair was arrested and believed to have masterminded the attack. In 2003, two men were sentenced to death for the bombing by a Karachi court. The suspected bombmaker, Mufti Mohammad Sabir, was arrested on September 8, 2005. The two men’s conviction’s have since been overturned. An investigation is currently (November 2010) underway in France in order to establish the extent to which former President Edouard Balladur and current President Nicolas Sarkozy were implicated in the the bribing of Pakistani officials. There is also growing suspicion that some of the cash used to bribe Pakistani officials found its way back into Edouard Balladur’s presidential campaign fund. Should this prove to be the case, the consequences would be extremely serious for President Sarkozy, who was, in 2002, both budget minister and treasurer of President Balladur’s election campaign.
Karachi bus blast kills 15

The attack took place in the heart of Karachi
Fifteen people have been killed in a suicide attack on a bus in Pakistan’s port city of Karachi.
Ten of the victims were French workers for a construction company and the other two were Pakistani – one is thought to have been the suicide attacker.
I was just standing on the street and the noise was so loud it was frightening

Police officer Munir Sheikh
Pakistan’s President, General Pervez Musharraf, has called an emergency meeting of his top military commanders and senior officials after the attack.

Police say the bus – which belonged to the Pakistani navy – exploded after being hit by a car driven by the attacker outside the Sheraton Hotel in the centre of Karachi.

The bus, which was on its way to the city’s dockyard, was ripped apart by the violent explosion and the windows of the nearby Pearl Continental hotel were shattered.

Loud explosion

More than 20 people, including 12 French nationals, were injured when the powerful bomb shattered the bus, creating a large crater, witnesses said.

“The sound was so loud I think you could have heard it from 10 kilometres (six miles) away,” a police officer at the scene, Munir Sheikh, said.

“I was just standing on the street and the noise was so loud it was frightening.”

Most of those on board were French workers employed by a company constructing submarines for the Pakistani navy.

The French President, Jacques Chirac, has strongly condemned the attack and is sending his defence minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, to Pakistan.

We cannot rule out the involvement of al-Qaeda

Sindh police chief Kamal Shah

In a statement, President Chirac said he “unreservedly condemns this despicable act, which nothing can justify”.

It is not yet clear who is behind this attack.

But police said they would investigate possible links between the bombers and the al-Qaeda network as well as Pakistan’s regional rival, India.

“We cannot rule out the involvement of al-Qaeda, but our suspicions are across the border. I am pointing towards India,” the Reuters news agency quoted Sindh province police chief, Kamal Shah, as saying.

Cricket tour called off

The New Zealand national cricket team, who were staying at the Pearl Continental hotel across the street, were due to begin a five-day test match in Karachi on Wednesday.

Police are looking for possible links to al-Qaeda

But the team’s manager, Jeff Crowe, said they would call off their Pakistan tour and head back home.

Members of the Pakistan national side, which was staying at the same hotel, said they narrowly escaped getting hurt.

“I am lucky that I was not in my room and was having breakfast… my room is totally destroyed,” cricket star Shahid Afridi said.

Karachi has been the scene of many sectarian killings recently but there have only been a few incidents of foreigners being targeted.

The American journalist Daniel Pearl disappeared in Karachi in January while researching a story on Islamic militants and a video of his killing was later handed to the United States consulate.

In March, two Americans were among five killed when attackers threw grenades at a church in the diplomatic enclave of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

President Musharraf has been tackling extremist religious groups and banned five of them in January.

A BBC correspondent in Islamabad says the high-level meeting called by the president is expected to announce new security measures and may even lead to a crackdown against suspected militant groups.

Posted by Wingate

‘Zardari took huge bribe for French submarine deal’

‘Zardari took huge bribe for French submarine deal’


PARIS: Official Pakistani documents, detailing how President Asif Ali Zardari benefited from massive, secret payments connected to the sale of French submarines to Pakistan, have been seized as evidence by a Paris magistrate investigating a suspected widespread scam surrounding the deal.

The documents, published by Mediapart, show that the payments to Zardari and others took place on the fringes of the sale of three Agosta-class submarines by the French defence contractor, the DCN, to Pakistan in the 1990s. The French sale, which succeeded against rival offers by Swedish and German contractors, and the payment of bribes associated with it are at the core of what has become known as the ‘Karachi affair’ currently the subject of two French judicial investigations’ The Nation reports.

A key allegation in the developing affair is that the cancellation of commissions paid out in the submarine deal triggered a suicide bomb attack in Karachi on May 8, 2002, killing eleven French engineers, who were in Pakistan to help build one of the submarines. Increasing evidence suggests that the cancellation of the commissions, ordered by former French president Jacques Chirac, was decided after it was discovered they were in part re-routed back to France to fund political activities of Chirac”s principal political rival, Edouard Balladur.

The documents, which were found during a French police search in June 2010 of the home of Amir Lodhi — one of the intermediaries involved in securing the Agosta contract and a friend of Zardari — provide the first clear details about the scale of the payments made to Zardari, amounting to several million euros, as well as the channels used, including offshore companies, bank accounts and the tax haven of the British Virgin Islands.

Zardari was one of the main benefactors of the paid bribes, according to a former SOFMA managing director, Henri Guittet, who evaluated the sum paid to Zardari as being 4% of the total value of the sales contract, which amounts to a value of 33 million euros.

The main document seized by French investigators is a photocopy of an original dated November 9, 1997, concerning a request by Pakistan to Switzerland for cooperation in a judicial investigation.

Kayani calls emergency Corps Commanders meeting

[In the continuing battle to bring American and Pakistani thinking on the terror war into alignment, we must bring to light the hidden things which are tearing us apart.  The ongoing arguments over differences between our CIA and Pakistan’s ISI, magnified by military differences, cannot be calmed by accusations and denials, but only through admissions.   Our two “Premier” spy agencies have worked together for many years, in many criminal activities.  Many of these activities have become common knowledge.  Acknowledging the obvious is an important first step, which both sides must be willing to take.  The disagreement now comes from Americans trying to blame Pakistan for all of it.

Both sides must acknowledging their shared responsibility for this criminal activity, instead of blaming it all on the other side.  Our worst mutual crime streak has been centered around our creation of militant/terrorist networks and their continued support.  Today’s split comes about because of the necessary shifting of the overall mission from creating terrorists to fighting against them.  Many elements of both spy agencies have refused to support the new mission and they  continue to support their terrorists even after our nations have declared war upon them.  These “rogue elements” are the cause of the ongoing argument between us.  This big problem of trouble-making by rogue elements must be solved.  Failure to approach the problem as a problem with out of control rogues will probably end in some level of war between the two nations.  This has to be avoided at all costs, meaning that the rogues on both sides must be exposed so that they alone will take the blame.

The flurry of high-level meetings, ending with CENTCOM Chief Mattis confronting Kayani and now this emergency meeting of Corps Commanders (to be followed by Gen. Kayani’s trip to speak before the British International Institute for Strategic Studies), is stark testimony as to how far the situation has deteriorated today.  It will be interesting to see how the narrative either improves or worsens, after the Royal trouble-making institute puts their spin on the situation.  There is far too much at stake here to allow the Illuminate masterminds to continue to muck it all up.

Everybody has to cut-off all support for their own proxy terrorists and in AfPak, everybody has proxies.] 

Kayani calls emergency Corps Commanders meeting

The meeting — chaired by the Army chief and attended by all Corps Commanders and Pricipal Staff officers — was called to discuss key issues of importance and urgency, including matters related to national security and the regional peace. — File PhotoThe meeting — chaired by the Army chief and attended by all Corps Commanders and Pricipal Staff officers — was called to discuss key issues of importance and urgency, including matters related to national security and the regional peace. — File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s army chief General Ashfaq Kayani on Sunday called a ‘special’ meeting of his top commanders to discuss the security situation, the military said, as the war of words with the United States escalated.

The extraordinary meeting of the corps commanders came against the backdrop of sharp US allegations that Pakistan army’s spy agency supported the Haqqani militant group Washington blames for the recent attack on its embassy and other targets in Kabul.

In a terse two-line statement, the military said the commanders would “review (the) prevailing security situation.”

Kayani, who is departing for London later tonight to address the International Institute for Strategic Studies and the Royal College of Defence Studies, is chairing the meeting.

[This note on the International Institute for Strategic Studies

The IISS is the vehicle for MI6-Tavistock black propaganda, and wet jobs (an intelligence over name denoting an operation where bloodshed is required), adverse nuclear incidents and terrorism, which goes to the world’s press for dissemination, as well as to governments and military establishments. 

Membership in the IISS includes representatives of 87 major wire services and press associations, as well as 138 senior editors and columnists…. 

The IISS is nothing more than a higher echelon opinion maker, as defined by Lippmann and Bernays. In the writing of books, and in newspapers, IISS was formed to be a coordinating centre for not only creating opinions, but to get those opinions and scenarios out much faster and to a far greater audience than could be reached by a book for example…. “

Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in a democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power in our country…… We are governed, our minds are moulded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of….”–end of quote, editor]

“The meeting reflects the gravity of crisis,” retired general, turned security analyst, Talat Masood said.

“They will issue a statement to express solidarity (within the military) and to show that they all are on one page.”

The corps commanders meeting comes a day after Kayani met with US CENTCOM commander General James N. Mattis in Pakistan, but military spokesman Major-General Athar Abbas said the two meetings were “unrelated.”

Contacts with Haqqanis

In an interview with CNN, Abbas acknowledged that army’s Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) maintained contacts with the Haqqani network, but said that didn’t mean it supported it.

“Any intelligence agency would like to maintain contact with whatever opposition group, whatever terrorist organisation … for some positive outcome,” he told CNN in a telephone interview.

However, he said there was a huge difference between maintaining those contacts to facilitate peace and supporting it against an ally.

In the most blunt remarks by a US official since Pakistan joined the US-led war on militancy in 2001, the outgoing chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, on Thursday testified before the US Senate that the Haqqani militant network is a “veritable arm” of the ISI.

He also for the first time held Islamabad responsible for the Kabul attack, saying Pakistan provided support for that assault.

On Saturday night, Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani rejected US allegations as a sign of American “confusion and policy disarray”.

“We strongly reject assertions of complicity with the Haqqanis or of proxy war,” Gilani said, breaking off from a speech to aid agencies and foreign diplomats on the country’s flood disaster.

Although Pakistan officially abandoned support for the Taliban after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States in 2001 and allied itself with Washington’s “war on terror”, analysts say elements of the ISI refused to make the doctrinal shift.

Gilani’s Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told Washington on Friday that it risked losing an ally if it kept accusing Islamabad of playing a double game in the war against militancy, and escalating a crisis in ties triggered by US forces’ killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in an unannounced raid in May.

Security analyst Masood said the sharpened rhetoric between Pakistan and the United States could lead to a “collision”.

One of the options for Pakistan, he said, could be to put pressure on Haqqani fighters to leave Pakistan to avert a confrontation.

“I think both Pakistan and the United States will step back to avoid making things worse.”

India told to stop work on Kishanganga dam

India told to stop work on Kishanganga dam

By Syed Irfan Raza
The International Court of Arbitration passed a unanimous order on Pakistan’s application for ‘interim measures’ against the construction of the Kishanganga dam on Saturday. – File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The International Court of Arbitration (ICA) has barred India from any permanent works on the controversial Kishanganga hydro-electricity project (KHEP) on River Neelum at Gurez in occupied Kashmir in response to Pakistan’s appeal for ‘interim measures’ against the dam which may inhibit the restoration of the river flow to its natural channel, the government announced on Saturday.

The arbitration court took the decision on an appeal filed by Pakistan that India was diverting the flow of the river and violating Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between the two countries, said Farhatullah Babar, spokesman for President Asif Ali Zardari, on Saturday.

The court of arbitration passed a unanimous order on Pakistan’s application for ‘interim measures’ against the construction of the Kishanganga dam.

The court order said: “India shall not proceed with the construction of any permanent works on or above the Kishanganga/Neelum River bed at the Gurez site that may inhibit the restoration of the flow of the river to its natural channel.

Pakistan and India shall arrange for periodic joint inspections of the dam site at Gurez in order to monitor the implementation of the court’s order.”

Islamabad had submitted its version in the World Bank’s arbitration court in July. The major contention was that under the law India cannot divert the route of River Neelum. Pakistan fears that the Kishanganga dam would rob it of 15 per cent water share – a violation of the Indus Water Treaty.

Islamabad accused Delhi of trying to divert the water of Neelum river in order to harm Pakistan’s Neelum-Jhelum hydro-electricity project.

In its application Pakistan had sought: “A stop work order; An order that any steps India has taken or may take in respect of the KHEP are taken at its own risk without prejudice to the possibility that the court may order that the works may not be continued, be modified or dismantled, that India be ordered to inform the court and Pakistan of any imminent and actual developments on the Kishanganga Dam that may adversely affect the restoring of the status quo ante or that may jeopardise Pakistan’s rights and interests under the treaty; Any further relief the court considered necessary.”

The president’s spokesman said the office of the special assistant to the prime minister on water resources and agriculture, the team of legal experts from Pakistan and abroad who prepared a tremendous case, NESPAK and PCIW of the ministry of water and power attended the hearing at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague.

US To Spend $700 Billion On New Nukes and Modernization In Next Ten Years

What We Spend on Nuclear Weapons


The United States is projected to spend over $700 billion on nuclear weapons and related programs during the next ten years. As federal budgets tighten and officials address the most pressing national security needs of the 21st century, the substantial cost of nuclear weapons must be fully examined. By understanding these costs and setting effective national security priorities, policymakers can reduce nuclear budget excesses incurred by the active stockpile of approximately 5,000 nuclear weapons.

Ploughshares Fund has written a working paper ( to address the magnitude of this complex issue. As a result of this analysis, we are convinced that the current projected expenditures on nuclear weapons are mismatched for both the fiscal and physical threats we face as a country, and must therefore come down. This working paper should be viewed as a living document that, as the budget picture for nuclear weapons spending becomes clearer, will be adjusted to match the changing policy environment.

We hope that this working paper will contribute to the overall national debate about defense spending, both for the sake of our national security and our country’s fiscal health. It is our view that these projected investments are oriented towards fighting last century’s wars, thereby creating significant financial waste while undercutting our country’s ability to address the threats we all face. In an era of tight federal budgets, limited defense dollars must be spent wisely to address the security needs of today and the anticipated security needs of tomorrow. Our projected nuclear weapons spending, as outlined in this paper, does not meet this standard.

Ultimately, the United States must find a bipartisan path forward for reducing the nuclear budget burden that we all face. We should not saddle our children and grandchildren with hundreds of billions of dollars of unnecessary future expenditures for weapons systems that we neither need nor can afford.