Uzbekistan, “News from the Field”: The cotton working children, teachers, doctors, musicians, policemen (Photo)
“‘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]
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.
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 email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com 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.
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?”
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.
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 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.
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
[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.]
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, firstname.lastname@example.org