US Sending Sesame St. To Pakistan To Battle Fundamentalist Intolerance

[Perhaps this might reach a few little Pakistani minds, after all.   Just consider how many minds were damaged by our “gift” of the CIA/State Dept.’s Jihadi textbooks.]

U.S. Bankrolls Pakistani Sesame Street Hoping It Will ‘Increase Tolerance’

Associated Press

  • Pakistani Sesame Street Puppets

    October 13, 2011: A Pakistani artist gives final touches to characters of Pakistani Sesame Street in Lahore, Pakistan.

LAHORE, Pakistan –  Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch are nowhere in sight. But there’s Elmo. And new creatures too, like Baily, a kindly donkey who loves to sing, and Haseen O Jameel, a vain crocodile who lives at the bottom of a well.

Sesame Street is coming to Pakistan but not as generations of Americans know it.

The TV show has a new cast of local characters led by a vivacious 6-year-old girl named Rani who loves cricket and traditional Pakistani music. Her sidekick, Munna, is a 5-year-old boy obsessed with numbers and banging away on Pakistani bongo drums, or tabla.

The U.S. is bankrolling the initiative with $20 million, hoping it will improve education in a country where one-third of primary school-age children are not in class. Washington also hopes the program will increase tolerance at a time when the influence of radical views is growing.

“One of the key goals of the show in Pakistan is to increase tolerance toward groups like women and ethnic minorities,” said Larry Dolan, who was the head education officer for the U.S. Agency for International Development in Pakistan until very recently.

The show, which started filming last week and will air at the end of November, was jointly developed by Sesame Workshop, the creator of the American series, and Rafi Peer Theater Workshop, a group in the Pakistani city of Lahore that has been staging puppet shows for more than three decades.

The American version of Sesame Street first aired in 1969, and the U.S. government has worked with the company since then to produce shows in about 20 foreign countries, including Muslim nations like Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Perhaps nowhere else are the stakes as high as in Pakistan. The U.S. is worried that growing radicalization could one day destabilize the nuclear-armed country. Washington has committed to spend $7.5 billion in civilian aid in Pakistan over five years, despite accusations that the country is aiding insurgents in neighboring Afghanistan.

Rani, the new program’s star, sports pigtails and a blue and white school uniform. Her innate curiosity is exemplified by the magnifying glass she often carries and her endless stream of questions. She is captain of the school cricket team and plays the harmonium, an instrument used to perform Qawwali music.

The creators chose Rani as the lead character to emphasize the importance of sending girls to school, something that doesn’t often happen in Pakistan’s conservative, male-dominated society, said Faizaan Peerzada, the chief operating officer of Rafi Peer and one of several family members who run the organization.

“It makes the girl stand equally with the boy, which is very clear,” said Peerzada.

Rani and Munna are joined by Baily the donkey, Haseen O Jameel the crocodile, and Baaji, a spirited woman who serves as a mother figure for the others.

Elmo, the lovable, red, child monster, is the only traditional Sesame Street character on the show, which is called Sim Sim Hamara, or Our Sim Sim.

The action centers around a mock-up of a Pakistani town, complete with houses, a school and Baaji’s dhaba, a small shop and restaurant found in many places in the country. The town also includes a large Banyan tree, known as the wisdom tree in South Asia, in the shade of which the children often play.

Given the intense ethnic and regional divisions within Pakistan, the creators tried to build a set that was recognizable to Pakistani children but did not stand out as being from one part of the country. For similar reasons, the skin colors of the puppets range from very light brown to orange.

A total of 78 episodes will be aired in Pakistan’s national language, Urdu, over the next three years, as well as 13 in each of the four main regional languages, Baluchi, Pashtu, Punjabi and Sindhi. The shows will appear on Pakistan state television, and the producers hope they will reach 3 million children, 1 million of whom are out of school.

They also plan radio programs and 600 live puppet performances they hope will reach millions more kids and parents.

Each episode will be based around a word and a number, like the U.S. version, and will tackle general themes like friendship, respect and valuing diversity. This last theme is particularly important in Pakistan, where Islamist extremists often target minority religious sects and others who disagree with their views.

“There are many situations where we coexist peacefully, and that’s what we want to focus on,” said Imraan Peerzada, the show’s head writer.

The program will feature holidays celebrated by Muslims, Christians and Hindus in an attempt to get children to respect the traditions of different religious groups in Pakistan, said Peerzada.

American officials stressed they were not involved in creating content for the show. The U.S. is extremely unpopular in Pakistan, and suspicions run high about American manipulation in the country.

The creators realize that there is some risk of militant backlash. Events held by Rafi Peer have been attacked several times in the past, including a world arts festival in 2008 that was hit by three small bomb blasts that wounded at least half a dozen people.

“We can’t just stop because of this fear,” said Faizaan Peerzada.

Chief US Ally Kenya Air Force Accused of Refugee Camp Bombing In Somalia

5 killed, dozens hurt in Somalia after airstrike

FILE – In this Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011 file photo, Kenyan military board a truck headed to Somalia, near Liboi at the border with Somalia in Kenya. Kenyan troops will stay in southern Somalia until Kenyans feel safe again, the chief of Kenya’s armed forces said Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 raising questions about whether Kenya risks becoming bogged down in an open-ended occupation of its war-ravaged neighbor. (AP Photo, File)

By KATHARINE HOURELD

The Associated Press

NAIROBI, Kenya — An air strike hit a refugee camp in southern Somalia, killing at least five people and wounding 45, most of them children, an international aid agency said Monday. Kenya’s military acknowledged carrying out an air raid but said it targeted only Islamist militants.

Details emerged, meanwhile, about an American-Somali man who al-Shabab said carried out a suicide attack against an African Union base in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, on Saturday. Abdisalan Hussein Ali was 19 at the time he disappeared from Minnesota, which has a large Somali-American community, in November 2008.

In July 2010, he was among several men indicted in a long-running investigation in Minnesota. Charges against him included conspiracy to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to kill, maim, kidnap and injure. The U.S. hasn’t yet confirmed the identity of the bomber. FBI spokesman Kyle Loven in Minneapolis said the agency is using DNA to try to make a positive identification.

A Somali Islamist militant group used the casualties from the Kenyan air strike as a recruitment tool to try to win even more recruits. Kenyan military spokesman Maj. Emmanuel Chirchir, though, blamed an al-Shabab fighter for the civilian deaths, saying an al-Shabab fighter drove a burning truck of ammunition into the refugee camp in the town of Jilib where it exploded.

Chirchir said the Kenyan air force hit the truck on Sunday as it drove away from an al-Shabab training camp and accused the driver of attempting to use the refugees as a human shield. He said 10 al-Shabab members were killed and 47 wounded in the attack, citing informers on the ground.

But Doctors Without Borders, also known as Medicines Sans Frontieres or MSF, said the aerial bombardment hit the camp for displaced people. MSF said it treated 52 wounded people. As of Monday morning, MSF confirmed five deaths and said it was still treating 45 wounded, 31 of them children. Seven other patients had been discharged after receiving treatment. The head of the MSF mission in Somalia, Gautam Chatterjee, said most of the wounded had shrapnel injuries.

Jilib town elder Ahmed Sheik Don said the planes hit a bus stop and near the camp before finally hitting a base of al-Shabab, an insurgent group linked to al-Qaida.

It was impossible to immediately reconcile the different versions. Either way, civilian casualties would be a public relations issue for Kenya and could turn ordinary Somalis against Kenya’s military intervention in the lawless nation.

Residents said hundreds ran for cover Sunday as bombs exploded. The town’s population has ballooned this year as about 1,500 families fled to the area amid a famine that has wracked the south. Residents reported that al-Shabab fighters were among the casualties.

Sheik Abukar Ali Aden, an al-Shabab official in southern Somalia, said the militants donated food to those affected by the airstrikes. Bearded men and masked fighters used megaphones to ask Somalis to join their militant group.

“I am urging all Muslims in the Jubba regions to raise their heads and defend themselves against the enemy massacring them,” Aden said at a news conference in the southern port town of Kismayo. “Go! go to the front lines and make jihad with the Christian enemy.”

Kenya sent troops across the border into Somalia in mid-October following cross-border kidnappings blamed on gunmen from southern Somalia.

Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali said his government is looking into the airstrike and reports of civilian deaths.

“If it has taken place then it is an unfortunate incident and we are sorry about that,” Ali said during a press conference in Nairobi alongside Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Odinga added: “Our troops have not targeted civilians. It would be most unfortunate.”

The U.N. representative for Somalia, Augustine P. Mahiga, said civilians must be protected during any party’s military operations. He said the U.N. hopes that Kenya’s push into southern Somalia will help gain access to famine victims.

“We think this in the end will contribute to the sum total of gaining more territory, greater security and therefore more access to the victims of famine anddrought, especially in south-central Somalia,” Mahiga said.

The Danish Refugee Council, meanwhile, said it has made its first contact with an American aid worker and her Danish colleague who were kidnapped last week in northern Somalia.

“It has been some very long days as we have been waiting for signs of life. It is truly a relief that we now have received the message that they are as well as possible their circumstances taken into consideration,” said Ann Mary Olsen, the head of the Danish Refugee Council’s International Department.

Olsen said the aid agency is appealing to traditional leaders and clan elders to help release the hostages.

Somalia has not had a functioning government since 1991. African Union troops have been engaged in fierce fighting in Mogadishu to push al-Shabab fro its last base in the city. On Saturday, the Islamists launched an attack with two suicide bombers, killing at least 10 people.

___

Associated Press reporters Jason Straziuso and Tom Odula in Nairobi, Abdi Guled in Mogadishu, Somalia, and Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

___

The “Holbrooke Model” of Talk/Bombing Will Not Work With the Taliban

[“In 1995, diplomat Richard Holbrooke urged NATO to drop “bombs for peace” in Bosnia – and thereby pressure the Bosnian Serbs, and their protector Slobodan Milosevic, to come to the bargaining table.”  Attempting this in Afghanistan is unlikely to have the same effect, since the Pashtun culture which drives the Taliban movement is permeated with a sense of pride in its manly capacity to absorb the enemy’s blows and to persevere, as well as the jihadi’s desire for martyrdom in the “cause of God.”  Punishing the Taliban to drive them to the bargaining table will only harden their resolve and motivate them to seek even greater revenge.  Pushing this tactic upon Pakistan will only drive a wedge between the Army and the militants, the true objective behind the contradictory strategy.  It is merely Obama the devil being devious and spiteful, as usual.]

Pakistan agents part of U.S. push for peace talks

U.S. shifts to rely on agency which has been accused of supporting terror.

By Eric Schmitt and David E. Sanger, New York Times
WASHINGTON — Just a month after accusing Pakistan’s spy agency of secretly supporting the Haqqani terrorist network, which has mounted attacks on Americans, the Obama administration is now relying on the same intelligence service to help organize and kick-start reconciliation talks aimed at ending the war in Afghanistan.

The revamped approach, which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called “Fight, Talk, Build” during a high-level U.S. delegation’s visit to Kabul and Islamabad this month, combines continued U.S. air and ground strikes against the Haqqani network and the Taliban with an insistence that Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency get them to the negotiating table.

But some elements of the ISI see little advantage in forcing those negotiations, because they see the insurgents as perhaps their best bet for maintaining influence in Afghanistan as the United States reduces its presence there.

The strategy is emerging amid an increase in the pace of attacks against Americans in Kabul, including a suicide attack Saturday that killed as many as 10 Americans and in which the Haqqanis are suspected. It is the latest effort at brokering a deal with militants before the last of 33,000 U.S. “surge” troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan by September, and comes as early hopes in the White House about having the outlines of a deal in time for a multinational conference Dec. 5 in Bonn, Germany, have been all but abandoned.

But even inside the Obama administration, the new initiative has been met with deep skepticism, in part because the Pakistani government has developed its own strategy, one at odds with Clinton’s on several key points. One senior U.S. official summarized the Pakistani position as “Cease-fire, Talk, Wait for the Americans to Leave.”

In short, the United States is in the position of having to rely heavily on the ISI to help broker a deal with the same group of militants that leaders in Washington say the spy agency is financing and supporting.

“The Pakistanis see the contradictions in the American approach,” said Shamila N. Chaudhary, a former top Obama White House aide on Pakistan and Afghanistan. “The big question for the administration is, ‘What can the Pakistanis actually deliver?’ Pakistan is holding its cards very closely.”

On Sunday, U.S. intelligence officials deepened an investigation into what role, if any, the Haqqani network played in the bombing in Kabul on Saturday.

Several current and former U.S. officials say the United States has tried this bomb-them-to-the-bargaining-table approach before. In the 1990s, it helped drive Serbian leaders to peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, but it has resulted in little so far with the Afghan Taliban.

“I don’t think anyone expects Secretary Clinton’s visit to produce reconciliation,” said Bruce O. Riedel, a former CIA officer and the author of “Deadly Embrace: Pakistan, America, and the Future of the Global Jihad.” Riedel, who advocates a policy of containment in Pakistan, added, “The deterioration of U.S.-Pakistan relations is likely to continue.”

Senior Pakistani officials say they are confused by a lack of clarity in the administration’s long-term goals in Afghanistan, and are working with U.S. officials to hammer out specific plans after Clinton’s visit. As an incentive, the United States has offered Pakistan a prominent role in reconciliation talks. But U.S. officials have warned that they will take unilateral action if negotiations fail.

Several administration officials said they considered Clinton’s trip to Kabul and Islamabad, from Oct. 19 to 21, a success largely because it had happened at all. In the months after the killing of Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil, talks were frozen, U.S. intelligence officers were denied visas, and the administration accused the ISI of turning a blind eye to attacks on Americans launched from the country’s tribal areas.

Wahhabi Religious Police Brutally Beat and Arrest Canadian Shia Imam

[The monster of Wahhabi false Islam raises its ugly head once again, in yet another demonstration of intolerance.  Will American led double-standards, concerning the Saudi pseudo-“Islamists,” get in the way of this Canadian citizen’s liberation?  Wahhabism is a disease that has infected millions of Muslim minds.  Liberating these minds is the path to eliminating “militant Islam.”]

Edmonton imam beaten, ‘manhandled’ by police in Saudi Arabia, witnesses say

Stuart Davis/Postmedia News

Stuart Davis/Postmedia News

Usama Al-Atar speaks to young muslims at a youth session at the Az-Zahra Islamic Center in Richmond.

 

An Edmonton-based Imam is in a Saudi Arabian jail after being beaten and “manhandled” by religious police, according to witness reports. On Sunday morning, Usama Al-Atar, 33, was leading a group of 10 pilgrims in prayer outside the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina when “[Saudi] religious police began to hassle him, and intimidate him into stopping,” according to a release by the U.K.-based Islamic Human Rights Association (IHRA).

 

Mr. Al-Atar attempted to leave, but he was set upon by guards, labelled a thief, violently restrained and brought into custody.

“It’s very clear that without having committed any crime, [Mr. Al-Atar] has been arrested by the Saudi authorities,” said Mahmood Mavani, president of the Islamic Shia Association of Edmonton, where Mr. Al-Atar is a resident lecturer. On Sunday, Edmonton’s Shia Muslims gathered at the Association’s main congregation hall to pray for Mr. Al-Atar’s release.

Mr. Al-Atar is a Shiite, a sect of Islam that is often subject to persecution in Saudi Arabia. “Mr. Al-Atar is a Canadian citizen and at this juncture we need Foreign Affairs to find out the facts and make sure he is safe,” said Mr. Mavani.

The Department of Foreign Affairs would only say they were “aware of the arrest a Canadian citizen in Medina.” “The Canadian Embassy in Riyadh has been notified and stands ready to provide consular assistance as required,” read a Sunday afternoon email by Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Aliya Mawani.

Mr. Al-Atar left Canada on Monday to travel to Saudi Arabia for the hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca performed annually by more than two million Muslims each year. Mr. Al-Atar was reportedly approached by Saudi religious police while offering prayers at a graveyard — a Shia practice that is frowned upon by Saudi Arabia’s ruling class, who practice a puritanical form of Sunni Islam.

Mr. Al-Atar’s group closed their prayer books and tried to leave the area, but the imam was set upon by guards after the police called out that Mr. Al-Atar was a thief, reported Ahlulbayt TV, a U.K.-based Shia Islamic channel.

The religious police then “manhandled him badly,” eyewitness Mohammed Hayward told IHRA. “They forced him to sit under an air conditioning unit, and squashed him until he was blue in the face.” Mr. Al-Atar’s arrest was witnessed by more than 200 Canadian, American and British pilgrims, the U.K. channel reported.

On Sunday, 60 pilgrims held silent vigil outside the Central Medina jail where Mr. Al-Atar was being held, reported the IHRA. Mr. Al-Atar is scheduled for a court appearance on Monday morning, where he will face accusations that he broke the arm of one of the police — although witnesses say that the Edmonton imam stayed passive throughout the scuffle.

Throughout Sunday, social networks in Canada and the U.K. abounded with appeals to free the imprisoned Canadian. Ahlulbayt TV held an emergency live show on Sunday evening to protest Mr. Al-Atar’s arrest.

The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations on Sunday condemned Mr. Al-Atar’s arrest. “Irrespective of any allegations against Imam Al-Attar it is unconscionable that he should be physically assaulted — whether during the Hajj pilgrimage or at any other time,” wrote council executive director Ihsaan Gardee in a prepared release. “If there is no basis for holding Mr. Al-Atar, then he should be immediately released,” he added.

A cancer and diabetes researcher, Mr. Al-Atar is currently a post-doctoral fellow in the chemistry department at the University of Alberta. He has been a prominent voice for inter-faith relations and for stamping out violent extremism within the Islamic community. “Although [terroristic] acts may be carried out by Muslims, these are not the teachings of Islam,” he told Postmedia in 2005.

As recently as March, Mr. Al-Atar publicly denounced the Saudi Arabian leadership. “The atrocities committed today against innocents in several countries such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia among others, are crimes one cannot stand silent about,” said Mr. Al-Atar in a March speech delivered in Edmonton following violence crackdowns against Arab Spring protesters in the Middle East.

Campaigners for his release fear the severity of the charges against him.

“With Saudis, you never know how extreme they can go,” Montreal-based campaigner Musarrat Pyarali wrote in a letter to the Post.

National Post

thopper@nationalpost.com

Protests of Kyrgyz Electoral Fraud Begin, Bishkek-Osh Road Blocked By Protestors

If the elections’ results will not be canceled, disorders are inevitable in Kyrgyzstan – Kamchibek Tashiyev

31/10-2011 12:39, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency , by Julia KOSTENKO

“If the elections’ results will not be canceled, disorders are inevitable in Kyrgyzstan,” presidential candidate Kamchibek Tashiyev stated at today’s press conference.

According to him, about 1, 200 million people could not take part in voting. “Kyrgyzstan had an opportunity to hold honest elections refusing Akayev’s and Bakiyev’s technology for the first time. However, the present authorities followed exactly the last way having improved it a bit. I do not recognize these elections. The people will not tolerate cheating. So people who came to power would feel distrust of the population. If they begin governance with deception, they can not be worthy power representatives. People will decide by themselves what power they need. First reactions are starting from today,” explained Kamchybek Tashiyev.

He added that people will take their own decision. “My voters expect me to proceed. We can not accept rigged election results. The commissions’ members replaced all electoral lists. They were the people of the current government. This is unacceptable,” said Kamchybek Tashiyev.

Adherents of Kamchibek Tashiev blocks Bishkek-Osh road in Kyrgyzstan

31/10-2011 13:31, Bishkek – 24.kg news agency , by Makhinur NIYAZOVA

In Kyrgyzstan, adherents of Kamchibek Tashiev blocked Bishkek-Osh road as the head of Suzak district public administration Zhanybek Zholborsov reported to 24.kg news agency.

According to him, around 200 people blocked the road near Barpy aiyl okmotu. They are demanding to recognize returns as invalid.

The head of the district, the chief of local department of the State National Security Committee and the head of aiyl okmotu headed to the scene.

Recall, the rally in support of the presidential candidate Kamchibek Tashiev is going in Jalal-Abad. Around 300 people gathered. They are demanding to recognize returns invalid.

Former Kyrgyz Prime Minister Atambayev Receives Overwhelming Majority of Votes Counted

CEC processed 96.42 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s voting protocols: the presidential election still leads Atambaev

31/10/11 7:34, Bishkek –  News Agency “24.kg” , Aizada KUTUEVA      

 

CEC processed 96.42 percent of Kyrgyzstan’s voting protocols: the presidential election still leads Atambaev. This was reported on the CEC website.

At 09.30 received information on two 35 thousand polling stations out of 2 thousand 318.

The distribution of votes (in percentages):

Atambaev – 62.97;

Kamchybek Tashiev – 14.36;

Adahan Madumarov – 14.86;

Temirbek Asanbekov – 0.94;

Tursunbai Bakir uulu – 0.8;

Kubatbek Baibolov – 0.83;

Omurbek Suvanaliev – 0.87;

Anarbek Kalmatov – 0.72;

Arstanbek Abdyldaev – 0.53;

Marat Imankulov – 0.45;

Kubanychbek Isabekov – 0.18;

Torobaev Kolubaev – 0.1;

Kurmanbek Osmonov – 0.13;

Akbaraly Aitikeyev – 0.11;

Sooronbai Dyykanov – 0,007;

Almazbek Karimov – 0,007;

Against all – 0.49.

URL: http://www.24kg.org/election2011/113026-cik-kyrgyzstana-obrabotal-9642-procenta.html

Billion-Dollar Drug Gang Busted

[Ouch!]

“The cartel is believed to handle 65 percent of all drugs illegally transported to the United States, drug experts say.”

70 members of ‘billion-dollar’ drug gang arrested, official says

‘Jaw-dropping’ amount of narcotics seized; alleged drug smugglers thought to have close ties to violent Mexican cartel

Law enforcement officials in Arizona seized thousands of pounds of narcotics and arrested at least 70 suspected drug smugglers with apparent ties to a violent drug cartel in Mexico, an official involved with the investigation in the U.S. Southwest told Reuters.

The operation, which included three raids conducted jointly by local, state, and federal officials over 17 months, led to the arrests of Mexican and American nationals working with a notorious drug cartel based in the Mexican state of Sinaloa, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Further details of the operation will be released at a press conference at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration field office in Phoenix on Monday.

Authorities confiscated drugs, money, weapons, ammunition, and bullet-proof vests, cracking a “sophisticated network” of international drug smuggling in one of the largest such operations conducted in the Southwestern United States, the official said on Sunday.

Drugs were smuggled from Mexico into Arizona by car, plane, on foot, and through tunnels.

“This is one of the more substantial drug-smuggling operations going on right now. This is a billion-dollar drug trade organization linked to the cartel,” the official said.

The cartel is headquartered in the northwestern state of Sinaloa on Mexico’s Pacific coast, an area home to big marijuana and opium poppy plantations and considered the cradle of Mexican narcotics trafficking since the 1960s.

The cartel is believed to handle 65 percent of all drugs illegally transported to the United States, drug experts say.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed in drug-related violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon launched his military campaign against the cartels after he took office in late 2006.

‘Jaw-dropping’
The raids were overseen by the DEA, Arizona state officials, and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

The official said the operation will shed light on elaborate drug smuggling into the United States and said the contraband confiscated in the raids was “jaw-dropping.”

Officials captured some of the key players in the smuggling operation, the source said, adding that the suspects will be prosecuted at the state level.

The official said law enforcement officials are still looking for dozens of people in connection with the operation.

Copyright 2011 Thomson Reuters

The Glaring Contradictions of Gaza and the Orgy of Violence

[A truce is declared and the IDF bombing runs resume.  Some patterns never change.]

Palestinian-Israeli truce agreed

Relatives of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli air strike on Oct 30 cry at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

Relatives of a Palestinian killed in an Israeli air strike on Oct 30 cry at the al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories: Egypt helped broker a fresh ceasefire by militants in Gaza Sunday, after violence left nine Palestinians and one Israeli dead, sources close to the groups said.

The truce with Israel was due to come into effect at 6:00 am (0400 GMT, 12pm Singapore time), said sources close to Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two main Islamist groups in the Gaza Strip.

The agreement between all the Palestinian factions in Gaza came after the intervention of Egypt, the sources said.

“The efforts and intensive contacts led by senior Egyptian intelligence service officials led to a national consensus to restore calm” with Israel, a leader of one Palestinian group, who asked to remain anonymous, told AFP.

Israeli warplanes raided the Gaza Strip Saturday and early Sunday, killing nine Islamic Jihad militants, while retaliatory rocket fire from Gaza killed one Israeli.

The exchanges were the bloodiest since a tacit ceasefire was agreed between Gaza Palestinian militants and Israel in late August.

Israel Aircraft Hit Gaza, 2 Found Dead

By IBRAHIM BARZAK Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip, October 31, 2011

“Israeli defense officials have confirmed that contingency plans have been drawn up for a broad invasion of Gaza to topple Hamas, which would require Israel to reoccupy the territory. But they said this is a worst-case scenario among many options, would take several months and be extremely complicated, and the preference is to restore the calm that has largely prevailed since 2009.

Israel captured Gaza in the 1967 Mideast war, but withdrew all troops and settlers from the area in 2005.

‘I don’t rule out that at some point we might find ourselves required to embark upon a full-fledged operation (in Gaza),” Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Army Radio. “(But) I am not one of those people who miss returning to Gaza.'”

The Wahhabi Threat To Real Islam and To Everyone Else

“India’s Partition was a British plot to divide and rule the subcontinent that succeeded in Pakistan because of the nexus between the military dictators and the jihadists.”

A threat to multilayered secular cultures

MADANJEET SINGH

Thousands of young people attended Salman Ahmad's Sufi Junoon concert in 2008, ignoring the threat of the chairman of the United Jihad Council (UJC), Syed Salahuddin to kill Salman Ahmad if he came to Srinagar and performed during the inauguration of the Institute of Kashmir Studies, established by the South Asia Foundation.
Thousands of young people attended Salman Ahmad’s Sufi Junoon concert in 2008, ignoring the threat of the chairman of the United Jihad Council (UJC), Syed Salahuddin to kill Salman Ahmad if he came to Srinagar and performed during the inauguration of the Institute of Kashmir Studies, established by the South Asia Foundation.

Wahabism, with enormous Saudi petrodollars at its disposal, has wrought havoc worldwide. The writer travels back to Kashmir, Kerala, Lahore, and Indonesia of some decades ago to get a measure of the tragic and vicious effects — and hopes resilient, multilayered secular cultures will be able to fight back.

I am happy that finally someone has had the courage to frankly articulate the suppressed hopes and fears of mainstream Muslims in India. Addressing a public meeting of the Sufi Maha Panchayat at Muradabad, Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kachochavi declared: “Hamey Wahabiyon ki na Immanat kabool hai, na kayadat Kabul (We reject both the belief and politics of the Wahabis”). The gathering attended by thousands of Shia and Sunni Muslims applauded as he said: “lf anyone knocks on your door with the message of extremism, hand him over to the nearest police station.”

Politics is the bane of all religions. But unlike other faiths, the Wahabis have enormous petrodollars at their disposal, funded by the so-called Saudi charities that have wrought havoc worldwide. Personally for me, who have known diverse cultures from the north to the southern tip of India, it is not hearsay but a veritable reality. My ancestors hailed from Kashmir; I lived in the state of Travancore and went to school in Trivandrum; then I joined the Hindu University in Benares; and finally graduated from the Government College in Lahore. Excerpts from the story (to be published by Penguin India titled,Cultures & Vultures) are presented here to give a glimpse of the politics and violence with which the Wahabi vultures are tearing apart Kashmir’s syncretic Sufi-Bhakti-Rishi culture, Kerala’s unique matrilineal society, Pakistan’s Sufi Islam, and Indonesia’s indigenous kebatinan culture.

In Kashmir

Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s comment, “In the darkness engulfing the subcontinent the only ray of light came from Kashmir,” I put up a Peace Campaign exhibition of my photographs in Delhi that was inaugurated on November 10, 1948 by Sheikh Abdullah. It prompted him to invite me to Srinagar to participate in the National Cultural Front (NCF) he had established to ward off the tribal Kabaili invaders from Pakistan.

On arrival at Srinagar, I met Khawaja Ahmad Abbas, the veteran journalist, at the airport and he drove me to the riverside guesthouse where the NCF group was staying. The group comprised a number of well-known writers. They had joined hands with visual artists including Raza, a Muslim from Bombay, and Anand, a Hindu, and Amar Singh, a Sikh, both from Amritsar. Then there was Sheila Bhatia, an active member of the Indian People’s Theatre Association from Lahore, who inspired Kashmiri women from all the communities with her folk songs and plays.

But no group or individual was as effective in promoting secular culture at the grassroots as the ‘coolie poet,’ Aasi. I was amazed to see him standing in the middle of Srinagar’s Lal Chowk surrounded by crowds listening to the oral poetry of this illiterate labourer. He was a devotee of the Kashmir’s patron Sufi saint, Hazrat Nuruddin Nurani, known as Nund Rishi like the legendary Hindu sages. Aasi was a true interpolator of Kashmir’s Sufi-Bhakti-Rishi culture that Pakistan’s ISI has been destroying since the 1965 Operation Gibraltar by infiltrating Wahabi terrorists to inflict “a thousand cuts” and incite a rebellion in Kashmir.

Among the ferocious vultures was the chairman of the United Jihad Council, Syed Salahuddin, who in 2008 threatened to kill Salman Ahmad if his Sufi concert Junoon came to perform during the inauguration of the Institute of Kashmir Studies, established by the South Asia Foundation. Salman ignored the threat and called on the jihadis to “join Junoon in a musical jihad” instead of fear mongering and threatening to boycott the concert. The Sufi culture triumphed as thousands of young people flocked to hear Junoon, a memorable event widely covered by the Indian as well as international media. But the Pakistani jihadi gangsters have not given up their Wahabi agenda invoking over a 100suras (verses) in the Quran that call on Muslims to kill or maim infidels. Funded by the ISI, they continue to impose the 7th century Shariah law of the Arabian Desert on the 21st century culture of the civilised people living in the beautiful fertile valley of Kashmir.

Kerala

Shortly after my father Dodger Singh, a professor at the Hindu University in Benares, took up a job offered to him by the Maharaja of Travancore, my mother Sumitra Kaur was on the lookout for a maidservant. One day, standing in the porch of our villa, she spotted two Malayali women walking barefoot. They were simply dressed, wearing traditional mundus and blouses. Attracted by my mother’s Punjabi salwar-kamiz and dupatta-covered head, they approached her curiously as my sister interpreted; women in Punjab were discouraged from learning English. They had recently returned from the United States, having graduated from Harvard University. Indeed they were looking for a job but not the kind my mother had in mind. She felt so small and ashamed. Later she told her husband that the Punjabi adage, ‘one can identify a person’s status and level of education by looking at the shoes,’ was totally invalid in Travancore. Even the Maharaja came barefoot to open the ceramic factory that my father built.

The two women, a Hindu and her Muslim friend, told Ranjeeta that even though they were not Christians, the Anglican missionaries had offered them the scholarships. They gave my sister the address of the missionary school in case she wanted to apply for a scholarship to study abroad.

Today a Wahabi outfit euphemistically named Popular Front of India (PFI) is teaching Shariah law in the madrassas where boys and girls are segregated. Muslim girls are obliged to wear ‘Islamic clothes,’ including the hijab. In Kasargod, a PFI stronghold, Rayana Khasi, a journalist was threatened for wearing jeans. Uniformed Muslim youngsters are marching in ‘Freedom Parades,’ like the danda-wielding fascists of the Hindu Right.

The undertow of Wahabi intolerance and violence was highlighted on July 4, 2010, when Muslim fanatics brutally attacked T.J. Joseph, a Newman College lecturer in the town of Thodupuzha. They chopped off the palm of his hand for the ‘crime’ of framing a question for an examination of his students based on a text written by the filmmaker Kunhi Mohammed. The college authorities, threatened by the rioting fanatics, cowered and dismissed Mr. Joseph. They agreed to reconsider their action only if “the Muslim community made an appeal to reinstate him, or the court issued an order to that effect.”

Pakistan

Faiz Ahmed Faiz, my senior at Lahore’s Government College, visited Paris in 1983, a few months before he died. I had invited a number of my Indian and Pakistani Urdu-speaking friends to a reception in his honour. He was sitting next to me and noticed tears rolling down my cheeks as he recited his poignant compositions. As he was leaving, the great poet put his hand on my knee and said: “India’s Partition was a British plot to divide and rule the subcontinent that succeeded in Pakistan because of the nexus between the military dictators and the jihadists.”

Faiz was obviously alluding to General Zia-ul-Haq after he grabbed power in a 1977 coup and then set out to break the Sufi link that united Pakistan with India’s traditional secular and pluralist culture by enforcing Wahabi Islam funded by Saudi Arabia. The Sufi shrines were destroyed or closed and all forms of cultural activity categorised as blasphemous, including figurative painting, singing, dancing, and music.

It was only when I visited Lahore in search of my roots in 1996 that I realised the havoc caused by Wahabi politics. There was no trace of my grandfather’s sprawling joint family house in which I was born. And when I went to see the New Hostel of the Government College, I was stunned to see black graffiti scribbled on the walls in Urdu: “Jews, Hindus, Sikhs, Christians and Ahmadiyas are enemies of Islam.” The warden reluctantly led me to the cubicle in which I had lived for about four years. I found that the door had been smashed open and inside there was only a dirty carpet spread on the floor. Equally shocking was to find later that there were no students in the common dining room on the first floor. Instead a number of militants with Kalashnikov rifles hung on their shoulders were joking and laughing as they swallowed the food cooked for the college alumni. It was a far cry from the glamorous boarding house in which I had once lived in the ‘Paris of the Orient.’

Indonesia

I married Dhyanawati, called Kiki, daughter of the Indonesian ambassador in Sweden in 1963 while I was posted as a first secretary at the Indian Embassy in Stockholm. I was greatly impressed by the unique multi-layered syncretic culture of Indonesia with the largest Muslim population in the world. It was amazing to see during a previous visit to Bali common people performing the Mahabharata and Ramayana by the roadside and the marvellous wayang kulitpuppet shows depicting the Indian epics.

Shortly after our marriage, Kiki and I arrived in New Delhi and I joined the UN division in the Ministry of External Affairs. We attended many diplomatic receptions and I was glad that as an ambassador’s daughter, Kiki enabled me to get acquainted with several senior foreign diplomats. But I was disconcerted to find that the Saudi Ambassador invariably made a beeline to my wife, took her aside, and brainwashed her about Wahabi Islam. He insisted that she must pray five times a day. Later I learned that his attempt to pressurise my wife was not an isolated case. He was working under instructions from his government.

Since then, in a matter of four decades, the Saudis have spent millions of petrodollars to build hundreds of Wahabi mosques and thousands of madrassasand largely succeeded in effacing Indonesia’s syncretic culture.

I also learned to my dismay that, inspired by the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha idols by Taliban vandals in Afghanistan, Wahabi extremists in Java made several attempts to damage the 8th-9th century Buddhist temple of Borobodur, a world heritage site. The terrorists who carried out the 2002 bombings in Bali were also Wahabi fanatics who killed more than 200 tourists in a suicide bomb explosion in a bar.

Hopefully, the resilient multi-layered syncretic culture of Indonesia will be able to prevent the Wahabis from turning this picturesque secular country into another Pakistan where rose petals are being showered on the killer of the liberal Punjab governor Salman Taseer, and the judge who sentenced the assassin to death has since fled the country in fear for his life.

(Madanjeet Singh is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the South Asia Foundation.)

US double standard: Gaddafi bad, Karimov good

US double standard: Gaddafi bad, Karimov good

The US shows its hypocrisy by accusing “tyrants” of human rights abuses while not owning up to supporting dictators.
The US has warned Uzbek President Karimov that human rights violations were ‘immoral and harmful ‘ [EPA]

“After four decades of brutal dictatorship and eight months of deadly conflict, the Libyan people can now celebrate their freedom and the beginning of a new era of promise,” President Obama said last week. The capture and death of Muammar Gaddafi prompted him and other US officials to congratulate the Libyan people on their liberation from a despot accused of terrible violations of human rights, including the 1996 massacre of more than 1200 prison inmates.

The kudos was as much for the US itself as Libya’s victorious Transitional National Council. After all, the United States played a decisive role in Gaddafi’s death. First President Obama put together the NATO coalition that served as the Benghazi-based rebels’ loaned air force. When the bombing campaign was announced in February, Gaddafi’s suppression of the human rights of protesting rebels was front and centre: “The United States also strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people,” Obama said at that time. “That includes the rights of peaceful assembly, free speech, and the ability of the Libyan people to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. They are not negotiable. They must be respected in every country. And they cannot be denied through violence or suppression.” (No word on how police firing rubber bullets at unarmed, peaceful protesters at the Occupy movement in Oakland, California, fits into that.)

And in the end, it was reportedly a Hellfire missile fired by a Predator drone plane controlled by the CIA – in conjunction with an attack by a French fighter jet – that destroyed the convoy of cars Gaddafi and his entourage used to try to escape the siege of Sirte, driving him into the famous drainage pipe and into the hands of his tormentors and executioners.

US officials and media reports were right about Gaddafi’s human rights record: It was atrocious. They cautioned the incoming TNC to make human rights a priority: “The Libyan authorities should also continue living up to their commitments to respect human rights, begin a national reconciliation process, secure weapons and dangerous materials, and bring together armed groups under a unified civilian leadership,” Obama said. (No word on how Gaddafi’s execution fits in to that.)

Hypocrisy reigns

Yet, in the very same week, the United States was cozying up to another long-time dictator – one whose style, brutal treatment of prisoners, and notorious massacre of political dissidents is highly reminiscent of the deposed Libyan tyrant.

Like a business that maintains two sets of records, one for the tax inspector and the other containing the truth, the United States has two different foreign policies. Its constitution, laws and treaty obligations prohibit torture, assassinations, and holding prisoners without trial. In reality there are secret prisons such as Guantánamo. Similarly, there are two sets of ethical standards in America’s dealing with other countries. Enemies are held to the strictest standards. Allies get a pass. This double standard is the number-one cause of anti-Americanism in the world.

In yet another display that exposes US foreign policy on human rights as hypocritical and self-serving, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton traveled to Uzbekistan to establish closer ties with the Central Asian republic’s president-for-life, Islam Karimov. Even as her State Department was ballyhooing the bloody conclusion of Gaddafi’s 42-year reign as a victory for freedom and decency, the former First Lady was engaged in the cynical Cold War-style of one of the worst human rights abusers in the world.

In the human rights brief on Karimov, one major highlight is Central Asia’s Tiananmen Square, the 2005 massacre of between 750 and 1250 peaceful demonstrators at Andijan, a southern town along the restive border with Kyrgyzstan, near the ancient Ferghana Valley. Karimov personally ordered Uzbek militia, Interior Ministry troops and regular army units to surround a square and gun down the protesters, then travelled to the site in order to witness the carnage. A few dozen people managed to escape, scrambling across a border crossing. Shocked Kyrgyz sentries, who had a view of the killing orgy, admitted the refugees. Uzbek troops chased the escapees into Kyrgyzstan, dragged them back and executed them on the Uzbek side of the bridge.

Prior to Andijan, the Clinton and Bush Administrations had a cozy relationship with Karimov, overlooking such untidy matters as the Uzbek leader’s habit of boiling political dissidents to death (more on that later), in light of the perceived high strategic value of his country. Uzbekistan has huge energy reserves and a unique placement. (Uzbekistan is the only state in Central Asia that borders all the others. It also borders Afghanistan. In 1979, the Soviets invaded Afghanistan via the Uzbek town of Termiz.) Tashkent is the region’s biggest city, complete with its own metro system, European-standard international airport and daily nonstop flights to New York-infrastructure that became invaluable after America’s 2001 invasion of Afghanistan. US and NATO paid Karimov for the right to build airbases.

After Andijan, the US gave into pressure by international human rights organisations to pull back. Covert aid continued, however. The airbases, including one known as Karshi-Khanabad (K2) were technically “closed” (though the personnel and activities continued). In late 2005 the US imposed low-grade trade sanctions.

That’s all in the past now. In September 2011 Secretary Clinton lifted the sanctions, saying that the Karimov regime was “showing signs of improving its human rights record and expanding political freedoms”. As a goodwill gesture in advance of Clinton’s trip last week, Uzbek authorities released Norboi Kholjigitov, a human rights advocate jailed since 2005 on charges widely believed to have been politically motivated. Kholjigitov is said to be near death after years of abuse in prison.

One step forward, two steps back. One week before Clinton’s arrival an Uzbek court found BBC journalist Urunboy Usmonov guilty of conspiring with Hizb ut Tahrir, an Islamist group that serves as an all-purpose national bugaboo (along with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a Tajik-based organisation with alleged links to the Afghan Taliban). The specific charge: “Failing to report on Hizb’s activities.” Usmonov received a three-year suspended sentence. He claimed to have been beaten and tortured in prison. The same day, newspaper reporter Makhmadyusuf Ismoilov, in jail since late last year for “insult and defamation” of Karimov, was subjected to a large fine and banned from journalism.

In Tashkent, a US State Department official described Karimov’s most outrageous excesses as “a thing of the past”. In this case, the past isn’t merely prologue – it’s ongoing.

According to a 2010 report by Human Rights Watch:

“New research by Human Rights Watch reveals that the Uzbek government continues to intimidate and harass the families of Andijan survivors who have sought refuge abroad. The police regularly summon them for questioning, subject them to constant surveillance, and threaten to bring criminal charges against them or confiscate their homes. School officials humiliate refugees’ children. Five years after the massacre, on May 13, 2005, people suspected of having participated in or witnessed the massacre are still being detained, beaten, and threatened. The sentencing on April 30 of Diloram Abdukodirova, an Andijan refugee who returned to Uzbekistan in January, to ten years and two months in prison, shows the lengths to which the government will go to persecute anyone it perceives as linked to the Andijan events.”

These Soviet-style persections did not prevent President Obama from personally calling Karimov last month on the occasion of Uzbekistan’s 20th year of independence.

Karimov is one of three Central Asian strongmen (along with Emomali Rahmon of Tajikistan and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan) who have retained absolute power since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. He presides over an autocracy whose level of corruption and dysfunction is staggering – even by dismal regional standards. All media is state-controlled. Opposition parties are banned. With substantial reserves from the Caspian Sea oil bonanza and by some measures the world’s largest reserves of natural gas, Uzbekistan has the means to provide a comfortable living for all of its citizens. However, a tiny coterie of businessmen connected to the regime diverts nearly all of the proceeds of the nation’s patrimony to numbered accounts overseas, leaving most of the population unemployed and in abject poverty.

Local militia (military police) are unpaid. So they pay themselves. They terrorize citizens with random raids, murders and countless checkpoints where motorists are shaken down. While arriving to visit a friend in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent a couple of years ago, I observed a dead body on the curb of the road in front of his apartment building. The man had been struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver several days earlier. His body was in a state of advanced decomposition in the 120-degree heat, but no one had called the cops. No one dared.

New strategy

As noted above, there are many reasons for the US to coddle the Uzbek dictator. But President Obama is especially focused on one. “The object of Obama’s interest is the ‘Northern Distribution Network, the Central Asian roads over which diesel and other US military supplies now increasingly travel [into Afghanistan],” writes Russell Zanca inForeign Policy. “The administration is correct in thinking that NDN, as it is known for short, will run more smoothly through secular Uzbekistan than supplies have moved through Pakistan. But a question for practitioners of realpolitik is why the US  considers it necessary to validate the unpopular Uzbek leadership now that it is politically expedient to do so.”

It also prompts another question. The US is scheduled to withdraw from Afghanistan by 2014. If they’re really leaving, why do they care so much about the NCN? Is a soon-to-be abandoned supply route worth dealing with a man like Karimov?

The dichotomous US approaches to Gaddafi and Karimov – kill one, pay millions to the other – were pointed out in an eerily-prescient Uznews.net piece published on February 22, 2011, at the commencement of the NATO air campaign in Libya.

“The regime of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya is using the whole power of its armed forces, including artillery, air forces and foreign mercenaries, to crush the ongoing protests in the country; Uzbek President Islam Karimov used similar tactics in Andijan in 2005,” reported Uznews. “The developments in Libya are reminiscent of the government crushing of a rally in Andijan on 13 May 2005. Gaddafi, like Islam Karimov, is not allowing foreign journalists into the country, blocking the internet and telecommunications and calling protesters ‘terrorists’. He appeared on national television yesterday and called foreign news channels ‘dogs’. Like Karimov, he is not considering negotiations as an option and is not willing to fulfill even parts of demands of protesters; he is offering a bloodbath instead … Like in Libya now, according to Uzbek opposition leaders, Uzbek authorities also hired foreign mercenaries: one of them was Tajik Colonel Makhmud Khudoyberganov, who was living in Uzbekistan after a failed coup d’état in Tajikistan in 1998.”

Surely Secretary Clinton read her own State Department’s recent report on Uzbekistan, which accuses the Karimov regime of “Instances of torture and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; incommunicado and prolonged detention; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of due process and fair trial; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association; governmental control of civil society activity; restrictions on religious freedom including harassment and imprisonment of religious minority group members; and government-compelled forced labour in cotton harvesting.”

“But we have also learned over the years that after a while, after you’ve made your strong objections, if you have no contact, you have no influence.”

Hilary Clinton on countries with poor human rights records

“Amnesty International and other groups have documented specific cases. In the summer of 2002, Amnesty International reported, Fatima Mukhadirova, a 62-year-old Tashkent shopkeeper, was sentenced to six years of hard labour after denouncing the government for the death of her son, Muzafar Avozov, in a Tashkent prison,” says a May 1, 2005 report inThe New York Times. “An independent examination of photographs of the body, conducted by the University of Glasgow, showed that Mr Avozov died after being immersed in boiling water, human rights groups reported. The examination said his head had been beaten and his fingernails removed.”

According to Uzbeks, live boiling was a common practice.

Roadblocks ahead

“The relationship between the US and Uzbekistan is problematic,” the 2005 Times article quoted a Human Rights Watch official as saying. “It can be useful that the US is powerful enough to push for certain concessions. That being said, the US should not be saying that Karimov is a partner, is an ally, is a friend. The US should send the message that Uzbekistan won’t be considered to be a good ally of the United States unless it respects human rights at home.”

During Clinton’s trip to Tashkent last week, she defended the US policy of engagement. “I can assure you that we have raised all of the human rights issues in Uzbekistan and elsewhere,” she said in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, another country with a poor human rights record. “But we have also learned over the years that after a while, after you’ve made your strong objections, if you have no contact, you have no influence.”

Clinton didn’t say why contact and influence were good for Karimov’s Uzbekistan, but not Gaddafi’s Libya.

Ted Rall is an American political cartoonist, columnist and author. His most recent book is The Anti-American Manifesto. His website is rall.com.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

Source:
Al Jazeera

Pakistan, India and Afghanistan–vs–American Games

Pakistan, India and Afghanistan

The writer is a syndicated columnist and a former member of India’s Rajya Sabha

Cussedness in relations between India and Pakistan is lessening. So I infer from the return by Islamabad of an army helicopter which had strayed across the Line of Control. But I fail to understand why India and Pakistan have deferred even a home secretary-level meeting when they should be talking. After all, it was not a summit demanding all attention, nor a discussion beyond the much-hypedvisa rules for easy travel. Granted both sides have no urge or desire to normalise relations. But they could have at least discussed the fallout of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Afghanistan and Pakistan. She has not toned down her threat or ultimatum.

It is apparent that Washington wants to seal safe havens in Waziristan to which the militants retreat after attacking the US and Nato forces in Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton has even told Pakistan without naming it that it cannot “keep snakes in its backyard and expect that they will not bite the neighbours”. New Delhi, normally a victim of snake bites, has correctly cautioned America to be patient. Maybe this attitude impressed Pakistan to return the helicopter and officers. America, too, needs to introspect about its role because the sufferings of Pakistan are not entirely of its own making. The militancy is more than two decades old. Washington initiated it because it wanted to bleed the Soviet Union to death. It succeeded. America is again in touch with the largest militant outfit, the Haqqanis, against which it has asked Pakistan to act. But then, Pakistan is also talking to the Haqqanis. Pakistan has changed its policy from chastising the Taliban to talking to them because America is doing so.

Both do not trust each other. Pakistan is suspicious that America is not trying to outsmart it. Islamabad’s trust in Washington is zero after it eliminated Osama bin Laden without even a whiff of hint to Pakistan.

The dominant elements at Islamabad wrongly believe that the Haqqani network is at their command to needle Afghanistan or India. The Haqqanis have a different agenda and Pakistan should have known it from the unending blasts and attacks on its soil.

Hillary Clinton’s advice to Islamabad to eliminate them in days or weeks and not in months or years is a tall order. The British could not do so, nor could the Soviet Union. Pakistan is in comparison a small power. Also, Islamabad has to think of the nation’s reaction. The fundamentalists have acquired a solid support over the years and even the military has not remained immune from their influence. As for the public in Pakistan, it is sick of terrorism and what it has done to the society. This makes it all the more necessary for India and Pakistan to discuss America’s long-term policy in the region. There should be no two opinions on Afghanistan’s sovereignty and independence. Unfortunately, Islamabad is suspicious of New Delhi’s intentions and believes that it is trying to surround Pakistan through Afghanistan. The entire hypothesis is preposterous. Kabul is New Delhi’s strategic partner, not its strategic depth which Islamabad expects Afghanistan to be.

America is going to be more aggressive as the days go by and probably will not quit Afghanistan altogether. This is as dangerous for Islamabad and Kabul as for New Delhi. Washington’s presence in the region is ominous. Therefore, India and Pakistan should first meet to clear their apprehensions and then include Afghanistan in the talks to discuss how to oust foreign troops from the region.

As the first step, the three should join hands to defeat terrorism, which has taken roots in the region. Maybe Islamabad, not London, should convene the meeting and invite the countries concerned, including Iran, to discuss how to eliminate terrorism. New Delhi should help Islamabad in this endeavour.

There is no alternative to good relations between India and Pakistan. The earlier the two countries realise this, the better it would be for them and the region. America has made it clear by attacking countries, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, that it will use its might to serve ‘its purpose’, whatever that means. The countries, either in the Middle East or South Asia, have not reacted to Washington’s blandishments. The region does not look like it is waking up.

Published in The Express Tribune

US and Islamists: It takes two to tango

[SEE:  America’s “Islamists” Go Where Oilmen Fear to Tread ]

US and Islamists: It takes two to tango

Brahma Chellaney

When Libya’s interim government announced the official ” liberation” of the country on October 23, it also declared that a system based on the Islamic sharia, including polygamy, will replace the dictatorship that Col Muammar Qaddafi ran for 42 years.

“We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic sharia as the source of legislation, therefore any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified,” declared interim leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil.

Swapping one evil for another may seem a cruel political comedown after seven months of relentless NATO air strikes in the name of promoting democracy in Libya – an air war that enabled the ragtag rebel militias to triumph but left a vast trail of death and destruction.

The Western powers that militarily effected the regime change in Libya, in fact, have not sought to stop its new rulers from establishing a theocratic system founded on Islamic jurisprudence. For these powers, such a political turn is an unavoidable price to pay to have their own men in power. The Islamist embrace indeed helps protect the credibility of men who otherwise may be seen as foreign puppets in their own society.

This is the same reason why the US, Britain and France have condoned the rulers of the oil sheikhdoms for their longstanding alliance with radical clerics. For example, the US-backed House of Saud not only practices the century-old political tradition of Wahhabi Islam but also exports this fringe form of Islam, with the result that the more liberal Islamic traditions elsewhere are being gradually snuffed out. The plain fact is that the US-led strategy is driven by narrowly defined geopolitical interests. The imperative to have pliant regimes in oil-rich countries trumps other considerations.

With the US support they enjoy, the most-tyrannical regimes – the monarchies – have been able to ride out the Arab Spring, emerging virtually unscathed. Libya has the world’s largest reserves of light sweet crude – the top-notch oil that American and European refineries prefer – and the NATO-scripted regime change there was clearly not about ushering in an era of liberal democracy. Having been born in blood, the new Libya faces uncertain times. The only certain element is that its new rulers will remain beholden to those that helped install them.

More fundamentally, America’s troubling ties with Islamist rulers and groups was cemented in the 1980s when the Reagan administration openly employed Islam as an ideological tool to spur the spirit of jihad against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan . It was at a White Houseceremony attended by some “holy warriors” from the Afghanistan-Pakistan belt in the mid-1980 s that Reagan proclaimed the mujahideen as the “moral equivalent of America’s Founding Fathers.” Two such moral equivalents, Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar, later became America’s nemesis.

Make no mistake: international terrorism and the modern-day Frankenstein’s monsters are the haunting byproducts of the war against atheism and communism that the US was supposed to have won. Yet the lessons from that war have already been forgotten, including the need to keep the focus on long-term goals and not be carried away by political expediency. The current attempt to strike a Faustian bargain with the Taliban, for example, ignores the very lesson from the creation of this evil force.

It has been argued by exponents of the US policy approach that because a war runs on expediency, with strange bedfellows involved as partners, unsavory allies are unavoidable. Paradoxically, the US practice of propping up malleable but Islamist rulers in the Middle East creates a street-level situation not only laden with strong anti-US sentiment but also support for more authentically Islamist and independent forces. So, if elections are held, it is such autonomous Islamists that often emerge as winners, as the diverse cases of Gaza and Tunisiaattest.

Let’s be clear: The global fight against terrorism can succeed only by ensuring that states do not harbour militants or contribute in any way to the rise of virulent Islamic fundamentalism extolling violence as a sanctified religious tool. Yet today, history is in danger of repeating itself.

The brutal killing of Gaddafi by his NATO-backed captors and the macabre public display of his body for several days were redolent of the manner former Afghan President Najibullah was dragged out of the UN compound in Kabul by the Taliban in 1996 and hung from a traffic barricade. What followed was unending bloodletting. So, it is fair to ask: Will Libya become another jihadist haven?

Brahma Chellaney is the author of ‘Asian Juggernaut’ and ‘Water: Asia’s New Battleground’

Istanbul–The Division Conference

[SEE:  The Istanbul Conference: Helping the Devil Get His Way In Central and South Asia]

Pakistan opposed to regional solution on Afghanistan

, TNN

New Delhi: Pakistan is blocking the establishment of a regional monitoring group to oversee cooperation on Afghanistan’s economic and security future. As leaders from 12 nations head to Istanbul on November 2 to help Afghanistan become a stable and independent state, Pakistan is building up opposition to the key decisions at the conference.

Foreign minister S M Krishna will represent India at the conference, the first time India will be at the table. Last year, Pakistan had successfully weighed in with its close allies and host, Turkey, to keep India out. Turkish president Abdullah Gulbore the brunt of New Delhi’s unhappiness when he visited India soon after.

While negotiations for the event is yet to yield an “outcome document” (a negotiated, agreed text), there are two stated goals – to commit to non-interference/neutrality on Afghanistan and to set up a mechanism of senior officials to monitor it. Pakistan has cited “national security”, maintaining its old position that it needed to have a “friendly’ government in Kabul as a defence against India. Pakistan’s opposition is to having so many countries – primarily India- enjoying similar status in the contact group on Afghanistan.

The US, Pakistan’s principal backer, has decisively turned away from accepting Islamabad’s arguments. Turkey, Pakistan’s close friend and mentor, too is pushing the regional framework that includes all Afghanistan’s neighbours. Hillary Clinton, who will represent the US at the conference, will push the New Silk Road concept that is aimed to help Afghanistan to its feet, and one that includes all its neighbours. This too has seen opposition from the Pakistani army.

Pakistan, said sources, is trying to marshal support from an unlikely group of countries that may have implications for India. Iran, which is opposed to the idea of US military presence in Afghanistan, has been seen to be supporting the Pakistani position, even though Teheran detests the Taliban and the al Qaeda. A curious fellow opponent is Russia. Moscow is worried about a Talibanised Afghanistan, but it is equally sceptical of a continued US presence there.

Highly placed sources in government say there have been recent “exploratory” talks between Pakistan and Russia on Afghanistan. Russia, like Iran and India, used to be the triad that supported the Northern Alliance in the 1990s when Taliban ruled Kabul with Pakistan’s help. But in a changing geopolitical environment, Russia is finding itself much closer to China, which Russians have admitted to as being “need-based”. Russia’s economic ties with China have increased exponentially, and in regional groupings is now closer to China than ever before.

While China has little to object in the Istanbul plan, China is bound to support Pakistan. The Chinese objection has centred on a stated apprehension that the new contact group could replicate or undermine its creation, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Pakistan foreign office spokesperson repeated this line, “The existing regional organizations and arrangements may also be urged to prioritize support in their respective domains for achieving the aforesaid objectives…”

Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the UAE, the US and the UK will attend the Istanbul conference, which precedes the 90-nation Bonn conference in December.

Assad: Western Action Against Syria would Cause ‘Earthquake’

Assad: Western Action Against Syria would Cause ‘Earthquake’

by Naharnet Newsdesk
W460

Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned that any Western action against his country would cause an “earthquake” that would inflame the region, in an interview published in a British newspaper.

The Sunday Telegraph said Assad warned of “another Afghanistan” if foreign forces intervened in Syria as they did with the Libyan uprising that led to the killing of Moammar Gadhafi.

“Syria is the hub now in this region. It is the fault line, and if you play with the ground you will cause an earthquake — do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?,” the paper quoted Assad as telling it.

“Any problem in Syria will burn the whole region. If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region,” he said in his first interview with a Western journalist since Syria’s seven-month uprising began in March.

His comments come after mass protests calling for the imposition of a Libya-style no-fly zone on Syria and renewed violence on Friday and Saturday in which dozens of security forces were reportedly killed.

Assad said “many mistakes” had been made by his forces in the early part of the uprising against his regime but insisted that his forces were now only targeting “terrorists.”

“If you sent in your army to the streets, the same thing would happen. Now, we are only fighting terrorists. That’s why the fighting is becoming much less,” he told the Sunday Telegraph.

He described the uprising as a “struggle between Islamism and pan-Arabism (secularism), adding: “We’ve been fighting the Muslim Brotherhood since the 1950s and we are still fighting with them.”

Assad also said that Syria had responded differently to Arab leaders in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya where regimes have been overthrown this year, insisting that he had begun reforms.

“The pace of reform is not too slow. The vision needs to be mature. It would take only 15 seconds to sign a law, but if it doesn’t fit your society, you’ll have division … It’s a very complicated society,” he said.

Costa Rican Presidents Still Arguing Over Secret Contra Airstrip Near Murcielago

[SEE: Secret Contra Resupply Airstrip In Costa Rica–a.k.a., “Point West”Is White House Behind Google Map Censorship In Secret Contra Airstrip Controversy?]

 By John McPhaul
Rewriting history? Former Costa Rican presidents Oscar Arias and Luis Alberto Monge have their tiff play out in the media.
Monge-Arias

Tico Times

Former Costa Rican presidents Luis Alberto Monge, left, and Oscar Arias traded barbs this week in columns published by the daily La Nación over their administrations’ activities during the 1980s civil war in Nicaragua. Arias accused Monge of allowing the U.S. to support Contra rebels from a clandestine landing strip in northern Guanacaste province.

A public spat between two former Costa Rican presidents and leading elder statesmen of the ruling National Liberation Party, has reawakened ghosts of the 1980s when Costa Rica very nearly found itself dragged into the civil war of northern neighbor Nicaragua.

Two-time Costa Rican President Oscar Arias wrote for the daily La Nación that his predecessor, former Costa Rican President Luis Alberto Monge, had a secret agreement with then-U.S. President Ronald Reagan to assist Nicaraguan Contra rebels in Costa Rica seeking to overthrow the Sandinista government in violation of his own avowed neutrality policy.

In an angry response from Monge, also in La Nación, the 85-year-old former president hotly denied that any such agreement existed and accused Arias of making the story up in an exercise of self-aggrandizement.

Arias, 71, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 after leading negotiations that resulted in an agreement to disarm Nicaraguan Contra rebels as a prelude to free elections, in which the ruling Sandinista party was deposed by newspaper publisher Violeta Chamorro.

In the article published Oct. 11, which purported to provide a public explanation for the notorious political rift between himself and Monge, Arias said that after his election, but before his swearing-in, Monge invited him to a meeting in his Pozos de Santa Ana home, where Arias and his brother Rodrigo were met by Monge and then-U.S. Ambassador Lewis Tambs.

“With surprise and shock, my brother and I were informed of an agreement existing between the governments of don Luis Alberto and that of Ronald Reagan, through which the use of national territory was facilitated to permit the ‘Contra’ to operate from Costa Rica,” said Arias.

Under the agreement, said Arias, Costa Rica allowed the U.S. to operate a clandestine airstrip in Guanacaste province near the Nicaraguan border, to set up radar to peer into Nicaragua and allow the Contras to be resupplied with food, medicine and arms from Costa Rica “behind the back of Costa Ricans and the international community.”

Arias said he told Monge and Tambs that once he took office on May 8, 1986, “The use of not even one square inch of Costa Rica by the ‘Contra’ would be tolerated, and nor would the presence of U.S. military in the country be permitted.”

The political jousting by the two ex-presidents occurs in rough proximity to the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the National Liberation Party, the party that brought both Monge and Arias to power and whose list of candidates for the February 2014 elections includes Arias’ younger brother Rodrigo, 65, and Monge’s nephew, San José Mayor Johnny Araya.

In his Oct. 16 response, Monge, one of the party’s founders, accused Arias of reducing the party to “a project of family ambition” and of having taken the party away from its social-democratic, reformist roots to a “conservative, plutocratic and authoritarian thesis.”

Monge accused the Nobel Peace Prize laureate of rewriting history with the end of inflating his peacemaking record.

“Now [Arias] goes after me, writing a political novel that, before making public, he has been for many years slyly distributing to foreign journalists, universities and in private,” said Monge.

Monge, who was president from 1982 to 1986, said that Reagan never asked him to make such an agreement.

“The Reagan-Monge pact or any species of agreement between the president of the United States and the president of Costa Rica is absolutely false,” said Monge. “You have to have altered state of mind to invent a tall tale of such magnitude.”

Monge said that the U.S. military, in the person of the head of the U.S. Southern Command, did offer “every kind of military assistance” if Costa Rica were to be invaded by the Sandinista army.

Monge said he declined the offer and instead looked to then-Venezuelan President Luis Herrera Campins and then-Colombian President Belisario Betancur, who offered their assistance and warned Nicaragua against invading Costa Rica.

According to Monge, the communist bloc intended to spread warfare throughout Central America, including plans to invade Costa Rica, and for that purpose sent a top-ranking Cuban officer, Oswaldo Ochoa, to Nicaragua.

“The thesis of communism was that the only way to escalate a regional conflict was to provoke a border conflict with Costa Rica to justify the entrance of the Sandinista army into national territory,” Monge said.

He said that on two occasions the Sandinistas had amassed troops along the border with Costa Rica as a prelude to invasion.

On the danger of Costa Rica getting dragged into an armed conflict, the two former presidents seem to be in agreement. But for Arias, the presence of the Contras and other military maneuverings in Costa Rica only exacerbated the danger.

“Costa Ricans will never know how close Costa Rica was to being involved in the war,” Arias said.

Arias said before his inauguration on May 8, 1986, that he met with visiting U.S. Vice President George H.W. Bush and told him of his opposition to the Contra operations in Costa Rica. After the ceremony, Arias said he instructed his minister of public security, Hernán Garrón, to tell the Contras they were no longer welcome in Costa Rica and also to immediately close the airstrip on the Santa Elena Peninsula.

Records that came to light as a result of the investigation into the Reagan administration’s using proceeds of the sale of weapons to Iran to arm the Nicaragua Contra show that Arias personally told then-C.I.A. station chief in Costa Rica Joseph Fernández to close down the airstrip.

But the Iran-Contra record also shows that the U.S. ignored Arias’ decision to close the airstrip, forcing the Costa Rican president to order the airstrip occupied by Tico Civil Guards in late August 1986. The existence of the two-kilometer-long dirt airstrip in a secluded cove known as Potrero Grande was brought to light after a group of journalists, including Tico Times reporters, overflew the strip in September 1986 (TT, Sept. 26, 1986).

At the time, Arias administration officials insisted that the airstrip had never been used, but admitted privately that they had chosen to downplay its existence out of consideration for Monge (TT, Oct. 3, 1986).

In early 1987, Monge admitted to The Tico Times that he had approved the reconditioning of the airstrip after “officials with maps arrived from Washington,” and in a secret meeting with him, warned of the danger of a Sandinista invasion and the need for an additional airstrip in the area (TT, Jan. 16, 1987). The former president later told Iran-Contra investigators that he didn’t recall giving permission for the airstrip – part of a supposed “tourist project” located on property owned by a Panama-based company later linked to the CIA (TT, Oct. 10, 1986).

In his La Nación article, Monge said the airstrip was “strictly private,” and that it was never used while he was president. However, residents of the area at the time reported frequent takeoffs and landings of mysterious aircraft, including a camouflaged Hercules cargo plane (TT, Sept. 26, 1986).

The Iran-Contra record also shows that Monge’s minister of public security, Benjamín Piza, was, in the words of then-U.S. National Security Advisor Adm. John Poindexter, “highly instrumental in helping to organize the southern front of opposition to the Sandinistas.” In a memo to Reagan dated March 17, 1986, Poindexter recommended a brief Oval Office meeting between the U.S. president and Piza, and his wife, to thank Piza for his assistance to the Contra cause, writing, “He has intervened with President Monge on numerous occasions and has personally assisted in the development of the logistics support base for the United Nicaraguan Opposition forces deployed north of Costa Rica.”

Arias said that his refusal to allow any action by the Contras against the Nicaraguan government put an end to “painful” acts such as the death of Civil Guards near the Northern Zone hamlet of Las Crucitas, when the guards apparently got caught in crossfire in a Sandinista-Contra confrontation. Another “painful act” referred to by Arias was the May 30, 1984, bombing of a Nicaraguan rebel press conference at the rebel outpost of La Penca by a Sandinista spy posing as a Danish photojournalist, which killed three reporters and four rebels.

Monge took exception to Arias’ mention of the La Penca bombing, saying that the authorship of the bombing has been proven to be Sandinista. “That is the truth, and to involve my government is an infamy,” Monge said.

Monge also criticized Arias for seeking a second term in office after the country’s Supreme Court threw out the law prohibiting second terms for ex-presidents. “He can’t live without power,” said Monge. “Desperate, to the point that he overcame the spirit of the Constitutional Chamber to achieve a second de facto administration.”

Monge also accused Arias of trying to hog all the glory of the Nobel Peace Prize for himself by dismissing Monge’s Declaration of Perpetual Neutrality and ignoring the efforts of other Costa Ricans, including Arias’ own foreign minister, the late Rodrigo Madrigal.

“Don Oscar, with his well-known egocentrism, adjudicates to himself in an exclusive form this great honor,” Monge said.

FBI Training Tajik Govt./Financial Officers In Social Media and Ambush Interviewing Techniques

Asia-Plus
Views: 125

DUSHANBE, October 29, 2011, Asia-Plus — On October 24, 2011, Ambassador Ken Gross opened the U.S. Embassy sponsored Public and Media Relations Course for Public and Media Relations Specialists from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the State Committee on National Security, the Drug Control Agency, the Prosecutor General’s Office, the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Agency on State Financial Control and Anti-Corruption, the Customs Service, the National Bank of Tajikistan, National Guards and the Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Embassy in Dushanbe reported.

The participants had an opportunity to meet with media representatives on the first day of the interactive training course to discuss the challenges they face while working with one another.  Three highly experienced Supervisory Special Agent FBI instructors assigned to the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs, National Press Office in Washington, D.C., taught the course.

At the opening ceremony, Ambassador Gross remarked, “The U.S. Embassy is committed to assisting you in your important role as government spokespersons, in your efforts to provide fair and balanced access to your media counterparts.”

The U.S. Embassy’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs organized and funded the one-week course.  The course helped public and media affairs experts in the Government of Tajikistan develop skills to better deliver news and information to mass media and the public. The training course involved practical scenarios and role play activities including news conferences, use of social media, on camera critiques, “ambush” interviews, and other “live” scenarios. Ambassador Gross also played the role of U.S. Ambassador in a role play scenario, where he delivered news to government spokespeople.

The United States Government is committed to continuing its support for Tajik law enforcement agencies. Since 1992, the U.S. Government has provided more than $900 million in assistance programs that support the law enforcement and security systems, economic growth, democratic institutions, health care and education of Tajikistan.

Kremlin Does Great PR Work For Pentagon

Kremlin Does Great PR Work For Pentagon

The Moscow Times

At a Moscow news conference on Tuesday, NATO’s deputy assistant secretary-general, James Appathurai, pushed the U.S. proposal to share its missile defense technical specifications with Russia. This is part of a new U.S. “transparency campaign” to try to repudiate the Kremlin’s claims that U.S. missile defense installations in Europe will undermine Russia’s nuclear deterrence.

But to convince Russia that missile defense poses no threat to its security, perhaps the best “technical specifications” the United States could share with Moscow is evidence from leading U.S. nuclear physicists that missile defense simply doesn’t work.

Theodore Postol, an MIT physicist and former Pentagon science adviser, has argued that the Pentagon fudged missile defense test results to convince the U.S. Congress and taxpayers that the system has an 84 percent success rate. In reality, Postol argues, it can hit only 10 percent or 15 percent of its targets.

And this is in the best of circumstances — when the Pentagon knows exactly when an incoming missile will be fired as well as its trajectory, and when the weather conditions are ideal. In real battle circumstances, of course, the U.S. missile defense system would not have these luxuries.

There is another important factor that further skews the Pentagon’s seemingly miraculous test results: It considered a test successful when an interceptor simply hit the body of the oncoming missile. But an interceptor must hit the warhead itself to protect against an attack, a fact that even the Pentagon confirms. The problem, however, is that hitting the actual warhead is like hitting “a bullet with a bullet.”

To make matters worse, it is easy for an enemy to trick interceptors by using decoys, such as cheap inflatable balloons. Yousaf Butt, a leading U.S. nuclear physicist, argues that it is impossible for a missile defense system to distinguish real warheads from decoys. Thus, Russia could easily overwhelm the missile defense shield by inundating it with decoys.

Russia knows these facts better than anyone, but it chooses to ignore them and insist that U.S. missile defense poses a threat to its nuclear deterrence. The Kremlin’s obsession with missile defense is part of a broad political and foreign policy strategy of demonizing NATO and the United States to create a mythical enemy at its gates.

The irony is that the Kremlin’s seemingly hawkish line against Washington has helped create a nice gold mine for large U.S. missile defense contractors, such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The United States spent $8.5 billion on missile defense in 2011 alone and a total of $141 billion since 1985.

Why should these defense giants hire expensive Washington lobbyists and PR agencies to blow hot air about the United States’ amazingly successful and powerful missile defense capabilities when the Kremlin will do it for free?

The Shadow Empire and the Subjugation of the Sub-Continent

Allow Chinese Military bases in Pakistan, not just Gwadar

by Ali.mostaque

The Chinese have been good consistent friends of Pakistan since 1963, and as a counter-weight to both India and the USA.The Chinese have carried out significant strategic projects in Pakistan since 1963, unlike the USA/UK.The Chinese helped Pakistan with its nuclear weapons program, without which Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program would have struggled at huge costs for many more indeterminate years.

The Chinese have helped Pakistan with its strategic missile program, without which Pakistan with its basket weaving economy could never have realized such a strategic goal.

The Chinese have helped Pakistan with its strategic conventional defense programs, without which Pakistan with its basket weaving economy could never have realized such a strategic goal.

Such illustrious and consistent help, provided with polite understanding and a smile for 48 years, deserves to be rewarded affirmatively and FINALLY with Chinese military bases in FATA……..maybe containing 5000 Chinese military personnel, with radar and heavy equipment, AND the repetition of the offer already on the table since many years by the Pakistan government of the naval base/port in Gwadar in Baluchistan.

These offers need to be articulated more clearly and forcefully by the Pakistan military, who control security in Pakistan, more directly to China.

China protects North Korea, without which North Korea, with no peace treaty with the South would be at war, and invasion by the USA.

China wishes to protect Pakistan, and government publications in China have stated as such. However this is not enough. The Pakistani military must overtly express and show to China that it wishes to be protected by China, by doing a set of things, one of which is giving military bases to China in FATA and Gwadar specifically.

China has strong strategic interests in Pakistan, in terms of greater access to the resources of the Middle East. Finally the avoidance of Western mischief too near its borders….re: “al-CIA-duh”.

Simultaneously to avoid confusion and contradiction which recently transpired shamefully with Pakistan China relations…….maybe that was the intention…….Pakistan must also do the following things, since Pakistan cannot serve both China and the USA. Its gymnastically impossible.

Close ALL USA military bases in Pakistan.

Eject ALL USA military personnel from Pakistan.

Cut ALL military training programs with Western countries especially the USA/UK.

Cut all military aid programs with the USA.

Close ALL USA consulates in Pakistan and reduce the USA embassy staff to about 10 people.

Close ALL foreign NGO’s in Pakistan since most are intelligence fronts.

Reduce Western tourism in Pakistan.

Close ALL Western missionary organizations in Pakistan since ALL are intelligence fronts.

These policies need NOT be announced by the Pakistan military, but they definitely need to be carried out step by step and quickly.

But we also understand that the whole region including India and Bangladesh suffers from Gora sahib worship and deference borne out of colonial servitude of many years, and therefore weaning the Harijan Coolie from the ever abusing gora sahib may be a challenging question which otherwise offers very CLEAR SIMPLE ABC ANSWERS just provided above.

A male pimp into drugs trafficking will ALWAYS abuse his prostitutes, there are no alternatives.

The drug peddling abusive pimp from the USA/UK with the rolls Royce, and gaudy gold jewelry.

A evil husband, with drink problems, who also batters and traffic’s his children for emotional recreation, will ALWAYS abuse the wife, there are no alternatives.

It is the duty of the abused prostitute and the battered wife to “escape” from such suffering with determination and resolution, and not perpetuate such an appalling relationship.

Bengal was occupied by the utterly evil British Empire 254 years ago.

It was the richest part of India, and the Mughals called it the “Pearl of India”, providing the bulk of the revenue for the Mughal administration in its last years of the 17th and 18th century.

In 1768 the evil British empire in its lust for business profits decreed that in the whole of Greater Bengal (Bangladesh, Bihar, Paschim Banga) ONLY opium, Indigo and Jute could be grown, a law that was heavily enforced through the use of the British military…….Opium to China, and Indigo and Jute to Europe. 10 million people perished, or 30% of the population as a result of this policy.

The evil British empire destroyed Bengal into utter poverty from 1760—1800. To this day 254 years later Greater Bengal (Bangladesh, Bihar, Paschim Banga) are still the poorest parts of South Asia.

In 1943 the evil British empire fearing Japanese invasion and liberation of India from their evil misrule, especially in Bengal surrounded the state with paramilitary forces, and passed a law saying no food from neighboring states of Bengal could be supplied to Bengal, and government agents bought up food within Bengal in addition. It was a bumper crop year, and yet 6 million people died from the Great Bengal Famine.

Since 1947 East Pakistan/Bangladesh has experienced continued British mischief in the country and region. 254 years is an inordinate time to learn ones lessons and study of historical FACTS.

And yet the British still run and train the security forces of Bangladesh, its police, paramilitary, military and intelligence with their quaint British names….Rapid Reaction Battalion…….a Death Squad Battalion trained by the British Police which has killed over 1000 mostly innocent people, DGFI, NSI, MI,………………..this is utter shame, and yet this is how it is.

Bangladesh along with India and Pakistan still belong to the British Commonwealth, a defacto celebration of the evil British empire!!!!!!!!!!

After 254 years of abuse Bangladesh has not yet run away from its drug peddling pimp master.

And yet Bengal has such enormous and phenomenal human potential.The Bengal State fails its people; Fails to identify the real needs of its people.

The same is true of the Ukraine, filled with enormous and phenomenal human potential, and yet a dejected, rather sad Third World country run by Jews since 1918.

PAKISTAN MUST ESCAPE from its drug peddling pimp master soon.


The abused Ukrainian prostitute working in the suburbs of Tel aviv. 500,000 such women have been shipped from Ukraine and Russia by the Jewish mafia to work as prostitutes since 1991, and yet the Jewish run governments of Ukraine and Russia are unable to do anything to liberate these women.

Putin says smash faces of Russian fraudsters

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin looks on while chairing a meeting with activists of the All-Russian People's Front in Moscow October 26, 2011. REUTERS/Denis Sinyakov

MOSCOW | Sat Oct 29, 2011 9:30am IST

(Reuters) – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir, already in campaign mode for a third term as president, said fraudsters who siphon off state money should have their faces smashed.

Putin plans to run in the March 2012 election and needs to improve his anti-corruption credentials tarnished by international ratings and statistics showing corruption has worsened under his rule.

“The practitioners of kickbacks and graft should not only get a rap on the knuckles, they should have their faces smashed,” Putin told an audience of Russian financial policemen.

Anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International rates Russia as the world’s most corrupt major economy, ranking it 154th out of 178 nations in its corruption perceptions index last year, on a par with Cambodia, Kenya and Laos.

President Dmitry Medvedev made fighting corruption the main theme of his four-year presidency term which nears its end but has often been criticised for showing few tangible results.

Analysts say that, if elected, Putin is unlikely to make much progress in fighting a bureaucracy that has been deeply corrupt since Soviet times.

Putin, who grew up in a working class neighbourhood in St Petersburg, is known for harsh remarks and jokes which raise eyebrows in the West but are popular with ordinary Russians.

(Reporting by Gleb Bryanski; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Washington’s Idiotic Plot To Implicate Iran

Spat over a plot that was not

ATUL ANEJA

The Hindu

 Attorney General Eric Holder (second from left) speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on October 11, 2011.
AP   Attorney General Eric Holder (second from left) speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on October 11, 2011.

Washington is clearly unable to sell a credible story about Tehran’s intent to plot a major terror strike on U.S. soil.

As angry crowds protesting against corporate greed were piling up in New York’s Zuccotti Park and across several European capitals, U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder Jr. decided to hold an extraordinary press conference.

In a hall packed with mediapersons, Mr. Holder on October 11 announced that the U.S. had uncovered a diabolical terror plot, which had Iran’s authorisation. He and several unnamed U.S. officials then unveiled details of the alleged plan to kill Adel Al Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s influential Ambassador to the United States. Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), through its Al Quds subsidiary, they said, had sanctioned the assassination. Implying that Iran had the intent of indulging in state terrorism, the officials asserted that the assassins wanted to kill the Saudi envoy, blowing up a fashionable Washington restaurant, usually crowded and frequented by the city’s political and diplomatic elite.

The story about a vengeful, amoral and, in the end, incompetent Iranian officialdom did not end there. The assassination was apparently part of a much larger scheme, which had in its cross hairs the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Washington as well as the Saudi and Israeli Embassies in Argentina.

Stretching across three continents, the plot had, apart from one villainous official of the Al Quds force, two characters in its star cast. One was Mansour J. Arbabsia, an absent-minded, second-hand car dealer in Corpus Christi, Texas, and a U.S. mole in the Mexican Los Zetas drug cartel. According to the U.S. officials, Mr. Arbabsia had in August travelled to Iran, from where he wired $100,000 from an Al Quds account as down payment for the assassination. The money, to be followed with another payment of $50,000, was deposited into the account of the informant of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who Mr. Arbabsia and his alleged backers in Tehran mistakenly thought was a Los Zetas member.

On September 29, Mr. Arbabsia was nabbed at the New York airport after he was denied entry into Mexico City, apparently following an American request, and was sent back on a commercial flight. The U.S. officials claim that Mr. Arbabsia was visiting Mexico with the intention of presenting himself to Los Zetas as “collateral” until the drug cartel received the remaining $50,000 after the assassination. On being shown, in custody, an array of photographs, he identified Gholam Shakuri, an Al Quds official, as his handler, the officials claimed.

These sensational allegations have flared tensions between Washington and Tehran. After making a bizarre case against Iran of fomenting terrorism so publicly, the U.S. has painted itself into a corner. It now needs to follow up on its assertions by taking visible action, however calibrated, or lose face doing nothing. The chances are that Washington will pursue a course that is likely to escalate tensions. Mr. Holder hinted at this when he said the U.S. “is committed to holding Iran accountable for its actions.” Separately, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton drove home the Attorney-General’s threat by advocating that a “strong message” be sent to Iran that would “further isolate it from the international community.”

President Barack Obama has further upped the ante, dragging the Iranian nuclear programme within the ambit of Washington’s risky standoff with Tehran. Mr. Obama is now pressing the United Nations nuclear inspectors to release recent classified data which could suggest that Iran is experimenting with nuclear weapon technology. If information is indeed available with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that can even remotely be interpreted as Iran’s attempt to work on atomic weapons, it would once again open up an intense debate — eclipsed by the Arab Spring — on measures, including military, which may be required to contain Iran.

To put the issue into the international spotlight, Saudi Arabia has reported the alleged conspiracy to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon so that it can be considered by the Security Council for further action.

In Washington and Riyadh, a heated debate is under way on a new set of stringent sanctions that can be imposed on Iran. The New York Times has quoted Obama administration officials as saying they are studying a ban on financial transactions with Iran’s Central Bank, notwithstanding opposition from China and other Asian countries. Washington is also considering widening the ban on the purchase of petroleum products produced by companies controlled by the powerful IRGC.

Despite the heavy exertions of its overworked spin-doctors, the U.S. may find it difficult to build fresh international pressure on Iran or foist the threat from Tehran on top of its domestic agenda. The problem with Washington’s exhortations lies in its inability to sell a credible story about Tehran’s intent to plot a major terror strike on U.S. soil. The tale spun by Mr. Holder and the U.S. Justice Department has too many loopholes to be taken seriously.

The former CIA analyst, Robert Baer, who has been following Iran for 30 years, points out that the alleged plot simply does not have the hallmark of an Iranian intelligence operation. In an interview on ABC television, Mr. Baer said he did not believe that the Iranian government was involved in the plot. “This doesn’t fit their modus operandi at all. It’s completely out of character, they’re much better than this.” He stressed that the “careful” Iranians “always use a proxy between them and the operation, and in this case they didn’t.”

The American assertion that Mr. Arbabsia, under instructions from the Al Quds, used normal banking channels to transfer $100,000 is hardly believable. Even the most uninitiated in the world of espionage are aware that the U.S. Treasury Department rigorously monitors any transaction above $10,000 as part of its policy to curb drug money laundering. Had Mr. Arbabsia indeed been an intelligence operative, he would have been told by his skilled handlers that he should deal only in cash, which is the only safe option for making clandestine payments abroad. Appearing before a federal judge on Monday in a Manhattan court, Mr. Arbabsia pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges.

West Asia historian Juan Cole suggests in his blog that instead of being state-sponsored as the Americans officially allege, a feud between drug operatives with affiliations in Iran and Saudi Arabia may be behind the conception of this amateurish plot. He points out that an Iranian cartel funnelling narcotics from Afghanistan “might be angered that Saudi-backed Sunni militant gangs in Iraq and Syria have grabbed smuggling routes, cutting out the Iranians.”

The Iranians, on their part, are incensed at Washington’s allegations and have joined the Americans in a dangerous war of words. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has asserted that his country would deliver “an unforgettable response” in case Washington takes “improper actions” against Tehran. He warned American officials not to “entertain delusions” because Iran would take “decisive action” in response to any impropriety on their part.

Referring to the outpouring of protests against economic hardship across the globe, the Ayatollah said the U.S. was using the accusations against Tehran to divert attention from its own financial difficulties. He added, “The people of at least 80 nations have expressed support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, and this is very bitter and difficult for American officials to accept.”

Despite the all-out U.S. effort to raise the alarm on Iran, probably as a diversionary tactic, it is unlikely that Washington’s herculean exertions will succeed. The outcry of ordinary working people making the one per cent super-rich in their countries accountable for their misdeeds is striking an emotional chord, and appears simply too powerful to be sidelined by what looks like a fabricated international crisis. Some analysts are of the view that Washington’s seeming attempts to channel its standoff with Iran towards a conflict are likely to revive the anti-war movement in the West, which could be fused with the escalating street protests in North America and Europe. “We are fully aware that the concocted terror plot is similar to the Gulf of Tonkin incident which preceded the Vietnam War,” says Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, who teaches at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, and is an activist with Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII), an anti-war group.

Over the next few weeks and months, grass-roots groups agitating for peace, democracy and economic justice would be faced with the challenge of forcing the U.S. and Iran to open channels of dialogue so that the movement for fundamental change, which started from Cairo’s Tahrir Square and is resonating powerfully throughout the world, is not sidetracked by the rich and powerful before it fulfils its lofty but achievable goals.

Major Spammer–IP Address–173.234.18.195

IP Address: 173.234.18.195
Listed at address
The address is for a parking lot across the street from an immigration center.

Los Angeles, CA 90015

 

WHOIS Source: ARIN
IP Address: 173.234.18.195
Country: USA – California
Network Name: NOBIS-CUSTBLK-173-234-18-0-23
Owner Name: Hambilios LCC
From IP: 173.234.18.0
To IP: 173.234.19.255
Allocated: Yes
Contact Name: Hambilios LCC
Address: 1605 W Olympic Blvd Ste 9021, Los Angeles
Email: webmaster@xninet.com
Abuse Email: webmaster@xninet.com
Phone: +1-213-984-1784

The Istanbul Conference: Helping the Devil Get His Way In Central and South Asia

The Istanbul conference: Washington’s vision for the region

https://i2.wp.com/prvrt.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/05/demonic-obama.jpg

ISLAMABAD: As key world and regional players gear up to meet in Istanbul to push forward a Washington-backed regional integration plan for an ‘economically stable Afghanistan’, Pakistan stands at a crossroads. The question Islamabad is grappling with is whether it’s time to become a partner, or whether it should maintain its historical position – keep India away from resource-rich Central Asia.

As part of a broader economic integration strategy, Washington is selling the “New Silk Roads” concept- a network of roads and rails to connect Far East Asia and South Asia with Central Asia and then the West.

Leaders from 12 nations are to meet in Istanbul on November 2 with the stated objective of persuading regional players to commit to a stable and independent Afghanistan and to discuss regional economic cooperation. Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, UAE, USA and United Kingdom are to attend.

Political pundits have termed the Istanbul Conference a prelude to the Bonn Conference, where delegations from 90 countries are expected to formulate a practical roadmap for 2014 – the year the US has said it will withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Defence, economic and geostrategic experts say the broader objective of the strategy is to consolidate gains made in Afghanistan and strengthen the US grip on Central Asian resources to be used either by Americans or preferred partners like India. One of the objectives is to create hurdles in energy-hungry China’s bid to get unrestricted access to Central Asian resources, they add. Pakistan is now left with the choice of either aligning themselves more closely with China, or preferring to work with the New Silk Roads as the dichotomy grows stronger.

According to the United States Institute of Peace,  a Congress-funded think tank, there are hopes that the New Silk Roads concept of an integrated trade and transportation network through Afghanistan can bring regional players and interlocutors together and attract new sources of investment.

Long time coming

A senior government functionary said that the US has been working on the proposal for a longer time. He said that the reorganisation of the US State Department in 2004 when it merged its Central Asia and South Asia desks was an important step towards this direction.  Robin Raphael, former US ambassador to Pakistan on civilian assistance, has been assigned the New Silk Roads project.

Pakistan’s options

“Americans want to consolidate gains in Afghanistan whether Pakistan readily becomes partner to the new concept or not,” said Tanvir Ahmed Khan, former secretary of foreign affairs. On the other hand, Washington will be displeased if Pakistan refuses to give India access to Afghanistan, fearing the possibility of an alternative India-Iran nexus, envisaged by New Delhi as the “North silk route”.  Khan maintains that it would be in Pakistan’s interest to become partner in any regional arrangement, better sooner than later.

A senior official of the foreign office, however, took a cautious line on whether Islamabad would support the initiative. Without commenting on the New Silk Roads, the official said: “Regional connectivity is a centuries-old concept and Pakistan would appreciate any effort towards that objective”.

Another official said that Pakistan wanted a greater role in economic development of Afghanistan, and did not want caught in the uncomfortable position of being isolated while sandwiched between India and Afghanistan.

But for the US, he added, the New Silk Roads is an integral part of a three-pronged strategy designed to exit and integrate post-US Afghanistan with the rest of the region. Keeping this in mind, Pakistan will have to mend its ways and make up its mind in the next two years, he said.

Former foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi also spoke on the matter hesitantly, saying “Pakistan will have to see both the advantages and disadvantages of becoming a partner in the New Silk Roads concept,” he added.

Pros and cons

The obvious advantage is that regional economic integration would bring economic benefits – but then, there’s the issue of Indian involvement and New Delhi’s subsequent access to Central Asia, he added. Qureshi said that the Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement was signed on the condition of excluding India from the treaty.  However, Tanvir Khan said Pakistan will ultimately have to give India access. He was of the view that eventually, even China will have to be taken on board.

Published in The Express Tribune

Bombings force Pakistani children into work

Bombings force Pakistani children into work

  [Brave little lad.] 

Agence France-Presse

PESHAWAR: At seven years old, it’s a struggle for Zabita Khan to work all afternoon, dodging vehicles, rickshaws and donkey carts to carry drinks for thirsty customers in a hot, crowded Pakistani market.

But two years ago his father was killed in a bomb attack and he has to work to put food on the table for his family.

So after school, he spends sizzling afternoons catering to shopkeepers and their guests for Rs300 ($3.50) a month in Peshawar city, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

“I don’t like working in the market. I like school, where I study and play hide and seek with friends,” said a downcast Zabita, working the same street where his father was killed on Oct.28, 2009.

“I don’t have friends over here. I come here because my mother sends me and tells me I have to work for my family, for my siblings,” said Khan, who has two younger brothers -Sajjad, 5, and Arif, 3.

His father Khairullah was killed in one of Pakistan’s deadliest attacks -125 people slaughtered when a car bomb tore through the packed Meena Bazaar while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was holdings talks in Islamabad.

There was no claim of responsibility but officials blamed the Taliban.

Thousands more have been wounded or incapacitated, living with injuries slow to heal or that make an ordinary working life impossible.

But a hidden tragedy is the children -indirect victims of terror attacks -who are forced to join already swollen ranks of child labour to help keep their families alive after the loss of a parent.

“We closed the shop for two months after the death of Zabita’s father Khairullah. When we reopened, his mother sent him to the shop to work on behalf of his family,” Zabita’s uncle, Mohammed Umer told AFP.

“It is our tradition that the eldest son becomes the head and breadwinner of the family after the father’s death and Khan is playing that role because his mother wants him to work to avoid bad feeling in the family,” said Umer.

Zarina Jillani, research manager at the Pakistani branch of the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child, estimates there are 10 million children working in Pakistan, out of a child population of 80 million.

Huge swathes of Pakistan are beset by desperate poverty. According to the last government survey in 1996, 3.3 million children were working.

Government statistics estimate the literacy rate at 58 per cent and say 22 per cent of the population live in poverty, although independent economists say the figure is closer to 30 per cent.

“No organisation has calculated statistics about children getting involved in work after breadwinners die in bomb attacks but we believe these attacks have enhanced the number of child labourers in the country,” said Jillani.

In Tangi, a town some 125 kilometres from the capital Islamabad, in the heart of the northwestern region troubled by a Taliban insurgency, 11-year-old Wajiha is the only girl driving a motorcycle rickshaw.

Her father Inamuddin used to be a proud member of the paramilitary but in July 2006 he was badly injured in a Taliban attack on his paramilitary check post in the northwestern valley of Swat.

After two years in hospital, he was discharged from service with a withered leg and bought a rickshaw for Rs40,000 ($465) with his pension.

At first he worked alone, and sometimes Wajiha would sit up front with him for fun. But when she realised how painful he found his wounded leg, she took on solo shifts to earn more money.

Now she goes to school in the morning and helps her father in the afternoon, when he gets tired.

“I don’t like my daughter going out to work, but I am helpless,” said Inamuddin. Wajiha said she likes to help.

“I feel good to help my father, I also enjoy the drive, it is easy to drive motorcycle rickshaw and earn some money for the family,” she said.

“I make Rs150 ($1.70) from three trips a day,” she said as she parked the rickshaw and ran into her home.

No talks unless US changes dual-faced policy, says Taliban

No talks unless US changes dual-faced policy, says Taliban

A file photograph showing Afghan Taliban in the central province of Oruzgan as they prepare to patrol the area on 12 April 2004 in the capital Tarin Kowt. PHOTO: EPA

KARACHI
A day after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton officially advocated in front of a congressional committee talks with the Quetta Shura and its leader Mullah Muhammad Omar, a Taliban spokesperson said unequivocally that peace dialogue cannot be held unless the US abandons its “dual-faced policies” on Afghanistan.

“On the one hand, it talks about pursuing peace dialogue but on the other it’s seeking to establish permanent military bases in Afghanistan,” Zabiullah Mujahid told The Express Tribune in a telephone interview from somewhere in Afghanistan on Friday.

“The US is seeking Pakistan’s help to negotiate with us, but, at the same time, it’s pressuring Islamabad to fight (the Haqqani network in North Waziristan),” Mujahid said. “Unless the US shows its commitment to peace talks, dialogue is not possible,” he said.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said, however, that the US does not seek any permanent military bases in Afghanistan or a presence that would be a threat to any of Afghanistan’s neighbours.

On Thursday, Secretary Clinton told the House Committee on Foreign Relations that any Afghan-led peace process would have to include the Quetta Shura and its leader Mullah Omar. During her recent trip to Pakistan, she had also requested Pakistan for help to negotiate with all Taliban factions, including the Haqqani network.

“There is no solution in the region without Pakistan and no stable future without a partnership,” Secretary Clinton told the panel. But the Taliban spokesperson cited contradictions in the US policy about Pakistan. “The irony is that while the United States acknowledges Pakistan’s contributions (in the fight against militancy) it also criticises it (for being hand in glove with the militants).”

Asked if the Taliban can show some flexibility for the greater good of their war-ravaged country, Mujahid said, “Ours is a just struggle. We didn’t invade America. It’s the United States which waged a war in Afghanistan. We demand freedom… We’re not calling for something illegal.”

Earlier this week, the Hizb-e-Islami, led by former warlord Gulbudin Hekmatyar, showed its willingness for peace talks with the United States. “We are willing to have a direct or indirect political dialogue with Washington,” Dr Ghairat Baheer, a Hizb-e-Islami leader, told The Express Tribune in an interview.

Asked about this, Zabiullah Mujahid said he cannot comment on this because Hizb-e-Islami is a separate organisation. The Haqqani network has already turned down an “individual” rapprochement offer from Washington, saying that it should instead engage the Taliban Shura in dialogue because the Haqqanis are a part of the Taliban movement led by Mullah Omar.

Kabul plans to convene a loya jirga (grand assembly) next month before it can approve a strategic partnership agreement between Afghanistan and the United States.

Asked about this, the Taliban referred to a statement on Wednesday. “The Kabul administration wants to abuse a much respected custom of our country … to prolong the 10-year catastrophe (that has) befallen our country, to deceive the nation and to further expose their own crimes,” said the statement emailed to The Express Tribune on Wednesday.

The statement urged its fighters “to target every security guard, person with intention, participant and every caller of this convention in all corners of the country, so as to not let the invaders perpetually occupy our beloved country.”

State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, when asked, referred to Thursday’s testimony by Secretary Clinton and her own Sept. 8 statement where she said that the Strategic Partnership agreement is intended to provide a transparent political framework for long-term cooperation between the US and Afghanistan.  “The United States does not seek any permanent American military bases in Afghanistan,” she said. (With additional reporting by Huma Imtiaz in Washington)

Published in The Express Tribune

Kabul Car Bomb on NATO Convoy–10-29-11

A suicide car bomber detonated his explosives-laden vehicle as foreign troops passed by on Saturday morning in Kabul, killing three civilians and a policeman, local officials said.The incident took place at 11.30 am local time in the Dar-ul-Aman area in the west of the city, officials said.Afghan security forces have cordoned off the area.A witness said that he saw the body of a man with the wreckage of his motorbike. Two vehicles also caught fire, he added.The Nato-led military coalition said it was aware of the incident but refused to comment.Helicopters belonging to foreign forces also landed in the area. No group including the Taliban has as yet claimed responsibility for the attack.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Lashkar e-Jhangvi–Pakistan’s Ku Klux Klan

[Monsters in human form.]

In Pakistan, a militant deal sours

In Pakistan, a militant deal sours

ISLAM NAGAR: The deal saw one of Pakistan’s most feared militants walk from jail apparently in exchange for his commitment to nonviolence, help in reining in other fighters and possibly delivering the votes of his followers.

Supporters showered Malik Ishaq with rose petals when he left the prison in the eastern city of Lahore in July.

Days later, he was preaching murderous hatred toward minority Shias to a cheering crowd, energising a network whose members have joined al-Qaeda for terror strikes.

That was too much for Pakistani authorities, who arrested him again last month.

Pakistan has a well-documented history of trying to co-opt or strike deals with militants of various causes, and a close examination of the Ishaq case shows how that can play out.

It’s a cautionary tale, perhaps, for US officials who are urging Pakistan to bring to the negotiating table Afghan militants who allegedly enjoy safe havens in the country’s lawless border regions.

Fifteen years ago, Ishaq founded Laskhar-i-Jangvi, or LJ, which allies itself with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

The LJ is blamed for scores of attacks on Shias and on Pakistani and US interests.

Ishaq was arrested in 1997 and accused in more than 200 criminal cases including the killings of 70 Shias.

But the state could never make the charges stick — in large part because witnesses, judges and prosecutors were too scared to convict.

Frightened judges treated him honourably in court and gave him tea and cookies, according to Anis Haider Naqvi, a prosecution witness in two cases against Ishaq.

One judge attempted to hide his face with his hands, but Ishaq made clear he knew his identity in a chilling way: He read out the names of his children, and the judge abandoned the trial, he said.

Despite the lack of convictions, Ishaq remained in prison for 14 years as prosecutors slowly moved from one case to the next.

Ishaq proved his usefulness in 2009, when he was flown from jail to negotiate with militants who had stormed part of the military headquarters in Rawalpindi and were holding hostages there, said Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, who used to advise the Punjab provincial government on religious matters.

A behind-the-scenes effort by the government to co-opt the leaders of militant outfits and bring them into mainstream political life, or at least draw them away from attacking the state, helped Ishaq secure his July 15 release, according to Ashrafi.

”I met Ishaq several times in prison,” Ashrafi said, emphasising that Ishaq assured him that he wanted to contribute to peace. ”If someone wants to get back to normal life, yes, why not, we do help him,” said Ashrafi. ”These are our own men.” He said he was disappointed to see him back in jail.

Punjab law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan denied there was any deal behind Ishaq’s release, but said extremist leaders were free to join politics if they eschewed violence.

”We are in touch with those who have become, or want to become, useful citizens,” he said.

The Punjab is the key battleground between the ruling party of President Asif Ali Zardari and the party of opposition leader Nawaz Sharif, currently in power in that province.

Maulana Ahmad Ludhianvi, the head of Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan, or SSP, LJ’s parent sectarian group, told a rally last year that Nawaz’s brother, Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, had promised that Ishaq’s release ”would be settled in meetings” with him.

”After that meeting, the time is not far when the prison door would break open and Malik Ishaq would be released,” he said.

LJ and other militant groups can muster significant support in Punjab and parts of Sindh province through their schools and mosques, making them an important political force.

Mainstream politicians have shown no hesitation in courting them despite their links to violence.

Local SSP leader Mohammad Tayyab said a recent SSP-backed candidate for a regional assembly seat in southern Punjab got 17,000 votes.

”That is what Zardari’s party and Sharif’s know very well,” he said.

Khaled Ahmad, an expert on Pakistani militant groups in Punjab, said there is ”no doubt” that the SSP and Sharif’s party would cut deals as they have done in the past.

”It is dangerous now because the group and its offshoots are in alliance with al-Qaeda.”

Government intelligence reports obtained by The Associated Press show Ishaq made threats in his public appearances after his release from prison.

He urged his supporters not to be afraid of Pakistani laws or prisons.

”We know how to kill and how to die,” he told a gathering near Rahim Yar Khan on September, 4 according to one report.

Ishaq’s aides denied he made such remarks.

The government suspected Ishaq of coordinating meetings in recent months of 50 or so alleged terrorists, said Khan, the law minister.

Some of the men Ishaq visited directly after his release had allegedly been involved in terrorism and were being watched by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, said the government reports.

LJ’s stronghold is south and central Punjab, a neglected, blisteringly hot part of the country that has long been the recruiting ground for militant groups.

Wealthy families, disproportionately Shia, own large swaths of land where tenant farmers grow cotton, sugarcane and wheat and work at mango orchids.

Visitors to Ishaq’s house in Islam Nagar in the southern Punjabi city of Rahim Yar Khan are greeted by an SSP member with an automatic rifle, against a backdrop of flags and banners glorifying the group.

“My father’s mission is a true one,” said his son, Malik Usman. “We will seek our reward from Allah.”

Alleged “Wahhabists” Fire-On U.S. embassy in Sarajevo–One was wearing suicide vest.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Shooting at the U.S. embassy in Sarajevo (Wahha…, posted with vodpod

[At 21 seconds the gunman is shot by a sniper.]

Wahhabis attacked in Sarajevo: One was a dangerous explosives

Dalje.com

Although it appeared the information that the man who was shot at 15:45 of the U.S. Embassy in Sarajevo killed, it has not yet been officially confirmed.

How to transfer Bosnian media, a man dressed in camouflage uniform, the building was fired from Kalashnikov with a tram stop, and then fled, but in the end he shot in his right thigh by a sniper shot. According to some reports, it was only slightly injured and taken to a hospital.

This is a 23-year Mevlida Jašarević from Novi Pazar in Serbia a year ago was detained because of suspicious behavior during the arrival of foreign ambassadors in Sarajevo.

Police sources say the Jašarević a total of three attackers, and the other two are under control.

“Revenge of the Americans for crimes against Muslims in Afghanistan and Palestine”

In the shootout and two policemen were injured, while civil servants and diplomats remained unharmed. Both officers got out of life danger.

On the ground was sent to several police patrols, including special forces.Marindvor village, where the embassy is located, blocked, and the villagers started a panic.

The police investigation lasted for hours, but already from the behavior of the attacker to conclude the reason for the attack. In fact, before he was overwhelmed Jašarević to shout “Allah Akbar” (God is great), shouting that this was revenge Americans for crimes against Muslims in Afghanistan and Palestine.

The whole incident could have had much more serious consequences, because the embassy building in downtown Sarajevo, close to several colleges, schools and malls. At a time when Jašarević started shooting for the U.S. Embassy in the vicinity was at least twenty people.

One of the witnesses, Smail Zilic, at the time of the attack emerged from a nearby shopping center, which is only thirty feet from the attacker.

Kosice: This is an attack on the state of Bosnia and Herzegovina

– It’s like in American movies. Passers-by have fled. I was very close to him, I hid behind the car and begged God to not only turn to me and a girl who found her way here. It is within five minutes at least three shots fired towards the embassy. Then he ran the streets and fired another burst.Struck two officers from the insurance, and then settled down and shouted that does not want to kill fellow Muslims, but Americans. He stopped shooting and calmly šetkao the street, a few passers-by begged him to allow them to extract the wounded policemen, they finally allowed, reiterating that he does not want to shoot at fellow Muslims – visibly excited told us Zilic.

Police quickly cordoned off the wider area around the American Embassy, ​​and the attacker after being injured was taken to the hospital. According to unofficial information, the police in Sarajevo arrested several members of the movement, probably because of suspected ties to Jasarevic. The building of the U.S. Embassy was surrounded by high walls and realistically there was little possibility that the attacker hit anyone in the diplomatic complex.

Unofficial information says that Jašarević member of the radical Islamic movement vehabita, and that from Serbia often visited the place Maoca near Brcko, which is valid for the center of the Wahhabi community in BiH.

Bosnian officials have condemned the incident, and the BiH Presidency Chairman Zeljko Komsic said: “This is an attack on the state of BiH.”

 

Colombian president calls for legalisation of marijuana

Colombian president calls for legalisation of marijuana

Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian president, has called for the global legalisation of marijuana to help combat the trafficking of harder drugs and related violence.

 Colombian president calls for legalisation of marijuana

When asked if making marijuana legal could offer a way forward, President Juan Manuel Santos said it could and that he would support it  Photo: EPA/Felipe Ariza
Robin Yapp

By , Sao Paulo

Mr Santos added his voice to a growing list of influential figures in Latin America demanding a rethink of the policies that have been used for decades to fight the drugs trade.

He said legalising softer drugs such as marijuana worldwide could help improve international efforts to deal with harder drugs such as cocaine and heroin.

“The world needs to discuss new approaches … we are basically still thinking within the same framework as we have done for the last 40 years,” he said.

Asked if making marijuana legal could offer a way forward, Mr Santos said it could and that he would support it “provided everyone does it at the same time”. But he emphasised that other countries needed to take the lead, saying the issue was “a matter of national security” for Colombia, whereas “in other countries this is mainly a health and crime issue”.

“Drug trafficking is what finances the violence and the irregular groups in our country. I would be crucified if I took the first step,” he said in an interview with Metro, the global free daily newspaper chain.

His comments are the latest sign that Latin American nations scarred by violence associated with the trafficking of drugs to the US and Europe want to pressure global leaders to tackle the issue afresh.

Last month Felipe Calderón, the Mexican president, used a speech in New York to warn the US that as the world’s “largest consumer of drugs” it may have to consider legalisation “to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organisations”.

In June a report by politicians and former world leaders said that the global war on drugs has fuelled organised crime and recommended an end to the criminalisation of drug users and the legalisation of some banned substances.

Ernesto Zedillo, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Cesar Gaviria, former presidents of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia respectively, were among the 19-member commission that drew up the report.

Hazardous Hydrofracking In America

Hazardous Hydrofracking In America

By Stephen Lendman

Hydraulic fracking involves using pressurized fluids to fracture rock layers to release oil, gas, coal seam gas, or other substances.
 
Earthworks says the process provides easier access to deposits and lets oil or gas “travel more easily from the rock pores,” where it’s trapped, “to the production well.”
 
Fractures are created by pumping mixtures of water, proppants (sand or ceramic beads) and chemicals into rock or coal formations.
 
“Acidizing involves pumping acid (usually hydrochloric acid) into the formation.” It dissolves rock so pores open for easier flows. Fracking and acidizing are often done together. Studies show from 20 – 40% of fracking fluids remain underground.
 
Fracking fluids contain hazardous toxic chemicals, known to cause cancer and other diseases. They include diesel fuel, containing benzene, ethylbenzene, toluene, xylene, naphthalene and other chemicals.
 
They also include polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, methanol, formaldehyde, ethylene glycol, glycol ethers, hydrochloric acid, and sodium hydroxide.
 
Small amounts of benzene alone can contaminate millions of gallons of groundwater used for human consumption. According to the EPA, 10 of 11 US coalbed methane (CBM) basins are located at least partially in areas of underground sources of drinking water (USDW).
 
EPA also determined that nine or more harmful to human health fracking chemicals are used in normal operations. “These chemicals may be injected (in) concentrations anywhere from 4 to almost 13,000 times” above acceptable amounts.
 
According to hydrodynamics expert John Bredehoeft:
 
“At greatest risk of contamination are the coalbed aquifers currently used as sources of drinking water.”
 
“(C)ontamination associated with hydrofracturing (can) threaten the usefulness of aquifers for future use.”
 
At issue also is obtaining information on specific fracking chemicals used. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), oil and gas companies won’t release what they call “proprietary information.”
 
Current regulations exempt oil and gas drilling from major environmental laws, including the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, and Clean Water Act.
 
On March 3, 2011, New York Times writer Ian Urbina headlined, “Pressure Limits Effort to Police Drilling for Gas,”saying:
 
In 1987, congressional lawmakers weren’t told about hazardous wastes from oil and gas drilling in an EPA report. Author Carla Greathouse discussed them, but they were excluded.
 
“It was like science didn’t matter,” she said. “The industry was going to get what it wanted, and we were not supposed to stand in the way.”
 
Her experience wasn’t isolated. “More than a quarter-century of efforts by some lawmakers and regulators to force the federal government to police the industry better have been thwarted, as EPA studies have been repeatedly narrowed in scope and important findings have been removed.”
 
Pressure is applied to cut red tape to help energy companies reduce dependency on foreign imports. Natural gas drilling companies are exempted from at least parts of seven sweeping environmental laws, regulating clean air and water.
 
In 2004, EPA studied hydrofracking, discovering hazardous contamination of one or more acquifers. However, a sanitized report said the process “poses little or not threat to drinking water.”
 
Afterwards, “EPA whisleblower (Weston Wilson) said the agency had been strongly influenced by industry and political pressure.”
 
“It was shameful,” he said, explaining that “five of the seven members of the study’s peer review panel were current or former employees of the oil and gas industry.”
 
Yet the study became “the basis for this industry getting yet another exemption from federal law when it should have resulted in greater regulation….”
 
In 2010, the EPA began studying hydrofracking’s environmental impact. However, responding to industry pressure, its scope is limited and final results won’t be published until 2014.
 
Initial plans called for considering toxic fume dangers released during drilling, the impact of drilling waste on food and water, and risks of radioactive waste.
 
Yet final study plans removed them. Earlier ones also called for studying landfill runoff contamination risks where drilling waste is dumped. This was also excluded despite EPA officials acknowledging that sewage treatment plants can’t properly treat drilling waste before it’s discharged in waterways near or supplying drinking water.
 
Moreover, regional studies underway or planned will be cancelled, further narrowing the possibility of full and accurate reports of hydrofracking’s harm to human health.
 
EPA scientists said high-level administration pressure thwarted efforts to institute more rigorous enforcement even though some in Congress want it. Recipients of industry campaign contributions (bribes), of course, strongly oppose any regulations.
 
The Times quoted White House energy and climate director Carol Browner as 1997 Clinton administration EPA head telling 60 Minutes:
 
“Whatever comes out of the ground, you don’t have to test it. You don’t have to understand what’s in it. You can dump it anywhere.”
 
Discussing oil and gas industry toxic waste exemptions, she added that “Congress should revisit this loophole.” At the same time, her history shows strong industry support. For example, in 1995, she helped ensure hydrofracking was excluded from parts of the Safe Drinking Water Act.
 
Today, widespread natural gas drilling “is forcing the EPA to wrestle with questions of jurisdiction over individual states and how to police the industry despite extensive exemptions from federal law.”
 
Contamination is a serious problem. “The stakes are particularly high in Pennsylvania, where gas drilling is expanding quickly, and where EPA officials say drilling waste is being discharged with inadequate treatment into rivers” providing drinking water for 16 million people.
 
At issue, of course, is why is this allowed to go on when human health risks are so high. Moreover, federal laws are ignored. For example, ones affecting sewage treatment plants say operators have to know what’s in waste they’re receiving and must assure it’s safe before discharging it in waterways.
 
However, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, EPA lawyers say rules are broken. One unnamed official said:
 
“Treatment plants are not allowed under federal law to process mystery liquids, regardless of what the state tells them. Mystery liquids are exactly what this drilling waste is, since their ingredient toxins aren’t known.”
 
“The bottom line is that under the Clean Water Act, dilution is not the solution to pollution. Sewage treatment plants are legally obligated to treat, not dilute, the waste.”
 
Yet plants “are breaking the law. Everyone is looking the other way,” so people in Pennsylvania and elsewhere are ingesting hazardous toxins authorities aren’t preventing from ending up in drinking water.
 
Moreover, when federal regulations are lax, enforcement is left up to states that fall short by bowing to industry pressure.
 
According to Earthworks, it’s “unconscionable that EPA is allowing (hazardous) substances” to contaminate drinking water across America. It’s as bad that too few people understand the risk and aren’t raising hell to stop it.
 
Against them are powerful industry giants muscling through Congress and regulatory agencies like EPA whatever they wish. They’re doing it for planned Marcellus Shale development. It extends over eastern US states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and others.
 
They want no hydrofracking restrictions impeding gas drilling, no matter the cost to human health. Extracting it from shale deposits holds potential to give America the world’s largest supply. It’s believed Marcellus Shale alone has enough gas to sustain US needs for 14 or more years, maybe longer depending on how much is found.
 
Moreover, Utica Shale Appalachian Basin deposits are believed to be larger. Obama’s “energy independence” goal and subservience to industry wishes drive Washington’s cooperation. With significant revenue potential, local officials do the same.
 
As a result, regulatory restraints are abandoned despite known fracking hazards, including reckless use of toxic chemicals and their disposal.
 
In a race to capitalize on industry potential, states are brazenly supporting energy company interests at the expense of their residents. Pennsylvania, in fact, became hydrofracking’s wild west. New wells under development doubled from 2009 to 2010 at the cost of contaminated drinking water increasing at an alarming rate.
 
Hundreds of millions of gallons of toxic waste fluids are dumped into rivers and streams annually. No regulations prohibit it. Wastewater treatment plants can’t flush out toxins let alone dangerous radioactive materials contaminating areas forever.
 
In addition, recycling methods don’t work because with each use, waste fluids become more contaminated, compounding the problem of ultimate disposal.
 
Moreover, the longer unsustainable practices continue, the harder it will be to find workable solutions. Planned Marcellus Shale development alone calls for at least 50,000 new wells in the next two decades, up from 6,400 permitted now.
 
At this pace, contaminated drinking water will cause epidemic illness levels affecting tens of millions of people across vast areas where hydrofracking occurs. Corrupted politicians in bed with oil and gas interests allow it, abandoning public safety.
 
For example, C. Alan Walker heads Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), given regulatory-free authority to expedite job creation. His mandate says by any means, including by hazardous hydrofracking drilling.
 
Similar measures are freeing gas drillers throughout the region and elsewhere. Nationwide, business, not public needs, are served. In potentially rich energy areas, caution and environmental laws are trashed to give drillers free reign.
 
Energy giants only want profits. Bought off politicians cooperate. Public health and environmental concerns are abandoned. Vast parts of America now are contaminated.
 
Imagine how much worse they’ll be as hydrofracking drills thousands more wells.
 
Today’s nightmare may be expanded beyond remediation, at least in our lifetimes unless public rage stops it. Corrupt politicians won’t do it.
 
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.
 
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.
 
http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour/.

Pentagon trained troops led by officer accused in Colombian massacre


[The map above shows location of the “ Barrancón Special Forces School” American training facility, where the lead troops who supervised the Mapiripan massacre acquired their deadly skills.  Colombian Green Berets were trained there by Navy Seals and their American counterparts at the top secret center.  The Colombian Special Forces then trained the paramilitary death squads, who were responsible for the lion’s share of the dead and the disappeared.   Zoom-in on the Google map image and you will see the right side of Barrancon Island disappear, as the left side remains the same.  I have it on good authority, from a former Delta team member who was there, that American trainers often accompanied their death squad trainees on their immoral hunts.  Many of the paramilitaries who benefited from US training fought on the side of the Medellin Cartel and Pablo Escobar against the FARC guerrillas and the Cali Cartel.] 

Pentagon trained troops led by officer accused in Colombian massacre

Pentagon officials, under pressure to investigate alleged links between elite U.S. military trainers and Colombian forces implicated in a 1997 civilian massacre, have confirmed that they trained soldiers commanded by the officer accused of masterminding the attack.

With a $1.6 billion counternarcotics aid package for Colombia making its way through the U.S. Congress, there is increased scrutiny over whether U.S. military assistance has been or could be turned against Colombian civilians in that country’s decades-long civil war.

In November 1997, Congress enacted the “Leahy amendment,” prohibiting assistance to any foreign military unit if there is “credible evidence that such unit has committed gross violations of human rights.”

Four months earlier, 49 residents of Mapiripán, a village in the coca-growing region of southeastern Colombia, were killed over a five-day period by suspected paramilitary forces allegedly operating under the direction of Colombian Army Col. Lino Sánchez and Carlos Castaño, leader of Colombia’s right-wing paramilitary forces. Colombian prosecutors have formally accused Sánchez and Castaño of being the “intellectual authors” of the massacre.

Sánchez and two other Colombian army officers are in prison, awaiting trial on charges in connection with the massacre. Castaño, Colombia’s most notorious rightist paramilitary leader accused of numerous civilian atrocities and drug trafficking, remains at large.

A Pentagon official, speaking on condition that he not be identified, confirmed that Sánchez was commander of the 2nd Mobile Brigade, which received training by U.S. Special Forces at a river base about 80 kilometers from Mapiripán. The Defense Department has said it is investigating further to determine whether Sánchez himself was trained by U.S. Special Forces.

The Bogotá daily El Espectador reported on Feb. 27 that Sánchez’s 2nd Mobile Brigade received U.S. Special Forces training in June 1997 while he was planning the Mapiripán massacre. The newspaper said the goal of the attack was to turn over control of the guerrilla-held Mapiripán, in a region that produces about 30 percent of the worlds coca, to paramilitary forces, which have ties to the Colombian army.

A report by Colombia’s Counternarcotics Police Intelligence Office, cited by the newspaper, said Sánchez first engineered a plan on June 21 to introduce paramilitary forces into the region, using U.S. spraying of coca crops as a cover, in order to “teach the guerrillas a lesson.”

The El Espectador investigation was based on a review of 4,500 pages of Colombian government documents on the Mapiripán massacre by reporter Ignacio Gómez, who is also a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It has prompted inquiries on Capitol Hill, where Congress is debating an aid package that would train and equip Colombian army counternarcotics battalions and provide money for more than 60 helicopters for army and police forces.

Human rights groups are worried that the military aid might be used against Colombian civilians. Robert E. White, former U.S. ambassador to El Salvador and Paraguay and president of the Center for International Policy, warned in a Feb. 8 commentary in The Washington Post that the aid package “puts us in league with a Colombian military that has longstanding ties to the drug-dealing, barbaric paramilitaries that commit more than 75 percent of the human rights violations” in Colombia.

“Obviously our people do not teach torture. They do not teach massacres. They teach human rights in every single class,” Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Brian Sheridan told the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Foreign Operations two days after the El Espectador report. “As to the massacre, or alleged massacre and its proximity to or juxtapositioning to the training activity, that is something that we will have to look at very carefully.”

In a Dec. 22, 1999, letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., a member of the Senates Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee and author of the Leahy amendment, Sheridan listed nine training exercises between U.S. and Colombian soldiers between June and August 1997. Specifically, he said, U.S. soldiers from the 7th Special Forces Group, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., trained Colombian troops at the Barrancón river base from May 14 to June 23, 1997. Barrancón, an island in the Guaviare River, is a U.S. Special Forces training site that is a 10-minute drive from a Colombian army base and airfield at San José del Guaviare, from which U.S. government and contract personnel conduct counternarcotics operations. According to El Espectador , the paramilitaries were allowed to land at that airbase in mid-July en route to Mapiripán.

Sheridan said the “Green Berets” finished their training of Colombian troops at “the Barrancón Special Forces School” on June 23, 1997. Pentagon officials say they do not know whether Sánchez’s 2nd Mobile Brigade participated in that training, and Clyde Howard, an official in Sheridan’s office, said the Pentagon was under no obligation to investigate because the Leahy amendment was not law at the time of the massacre.

Sheridan confirmed that Sánchez’s 2nd Mobile Brigade received “riverine interdiction and land warfare” training one month after the massacre from Aug. 18 to Sept. 18, 1997.

U.S. Special Forces from Fort Bragg were in Colombia from May 22 to July 22, 1997, according to a 1998 Defense Department report. But Sheridan’s office said only the two exercises specified in the Leahy letter involved training at Barrancón.

“There are discrepancies about what our military trainers were doing at Barrancón, and whether they were there at the time of the Mapiripán massacre nearby. These discrepancies need to be clarified,” Leahy said in a statement to Gómez.

Documents reviewed by El Espectador indicate that American military personnel were at Barrancón for a graduation ceremony for U.S.-trained Colombian forces on July 20-22, 1997. A prosecutor from Colombia’s Attorney Generals office, who investigated the Mapiripán massacre two days after it ended, was denied a helicopter to reach the village on July 22 because it was being used to transport military personnel based at the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá, the documents show.

U.S. officials have acknowledged seeing unusual military activity in and around the San José airfield near Barrancón before the massacre. Barbara Larkin, the State Department’s

assistant secretary for legislative affairs, said in a March 30, 1998, letter to Leahy that Colombian army troops from the 2nd Mobile Brigade and the 7th Brigade were present in the area at the time. The State Department told Leahy “that U.S. personnel involved in counternarcotics programs at San Jose [del Guaviare] remember seeing an unusual number of Army personnel at the airport on the day in question.”

The investigation by the Colombian federal prosecutors office showed that on July 12, two civilian airplanes, an Antonov and a DC-3, landed at the San José del Guaviare airfield near Barrancón, where Sánchez had an office, El Espectador reported. The planes carried 15 paramilitary operatives loyal to Castaño, armed with machetes and knives, several tons of supplies, and leaflets addressed “To the People of the Guaviare,” warning them to cease their cooperation with the guerrillas.

The Castaño paramilitaries were joined by others, and the force totaled about 100 men by the time it reached Mapiripán, about a two-hour drive to the northeast. El Espectador , citing the prosecutors report, said two paramilitary soldiers also crossed the Guaviare River in stolen boats past a Colombian marine infantry base checkpoint attached to the Barrancón facility. U.S. Navy Seabees built the marine base in 1994, and the U.S. Navy continues to train Colombian forces there. The boats then met up with the rest of the paramilitary force across the river from Mapiripán. At no time did Colombian civilian or military authorities challenge the paramilitary forces, the newspaper said, even though such groups are illegal in Colombia.

At dawn on July 15, 1997, the paramilitary forces surrounded Mapiripán, and their siege of terror and torture lasted until July 20, when the International Committee of the Red Cross dispatched a plane to the village. Today, Mapiripán is a virtual ghost town.

ICIJ researcher Rupa Patel contributed to this report.

Protesting U.S.-Sponsored Terrorism in Colombia

Protesting U.S.-Sponsored Terrorism in Colombia

By

Thousands of protesters plan to converge on Washington D.C. from April 19-22 to protest the escalating U.S. involvement in Colombia, including the training of Colombian troops at the U.S. army’s notorious School of the Americas (SOA) in Fort Benning, Georgia. According to School of the Americas Watch (SOAW), a non-profit group seeking to shut down the school, the U.S. army has trained more than 10,000 Colombian troops at the SOA and many of its graduates have been linked to right-wing paramilitary death squads responsible for a huge majority of Colombia’s human rights abuses.

  The Bush White House has spent much of the past seven months waging a war against international terrorism that, according to President Bush, “will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.” In his post-September 11 speech to Congress, the president also issued his now infamous ultimatum, “Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”

By February 2002, it had become evident that Washington had no intention of finding, stopping and defeating all terrorist groups it believed to have global reach. Furthermore, the Bush White House has clearly responded to its own ultimatum by deciding that it is “with the terrorists.” At least, this appears to be the case in Colombia where the Bush administration is expanding its war on terrorism by arming and training a military closely allied to a right-wing paramilitary group that is on the U.S. State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

In February 2002, the Bush administration requested $98 million in aid to create, arm and train a Colombian army brigade whose primary purpose would be to protect the risky business investments of a U.S. corporation in Colombia. Specifically, its mission would be to defend the Caño Limón oil pipeline used by Los Angeles-based Occidental Petroleum from leftist guerrilla attacks.

Last month, President Bush requested that Congress lift all conditions restricting current and future U.S. military aid to counternarcotics operations. The White House is using its war on terrorism to justify Washington’s military escalation in Colombia. The State Department’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Francis X. Taylor, recently labeled the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), “the most dangerous international terrorist group based in this hemisphere.”

Secretary of State Colin Powell, U.S. ambassador to Colombia Anne Patterson, Senator Bob Graham of Florida and many others have jumped on the link-the-FARC-to-international-terrorism bandwagon. Washington is using the FARC’s involvement in the drug trade to justify its labeling of the rebel group as an international terrorist organization instead of just a domestic revolutionary movement.

Meanwhile, there has been nary a peep from Washington regarding waging war against Colombia’s largest and most feared paramilitary group, the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC), who are not only more involved than the FARC in the international drug trade, but are also state-sponsored terrorists responsible for more than 70 percent of the country’s human rights abuses. For years, the AUC have been recipients of direct or indirect support from the governments of Colombia and the United States, ranging from logistical assistance and training to arms supplies and the direct participation of U.S.-trained Colombian soldiers in massacres perpetrated by the paramilitaries.

Washington’s FARC bashers rarely mention that many of Colombia’s illegal right-wing paramilitary death squads were formed in the 1980s by either the Colombian military or drug traffickers or both. AUC commander Carlos Castaño was an associate of Medellín Cartel leader Pablo Escobar in 1981 when the Colombian army trained him for paramilitary duty in Puerto Berrío in the department of Antioquia.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly linked U.S.-trained Colombian army officers to paramilitary groups and the massacres they have perpetrated. Many of these troops received training at the U.S. army’s School of the Americas, originally located in the Panama Canal Zone, but moved to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1984. According to Human Rights Watch, Colombian officers “were students at the school at the time its curriculum included training manuals recommending that soldiers use bribery, blackmail, threats, and torture against insurgents.”

The School of the Americas evolved during the Cold War as a means of combating Latin American revolutionaries, especially those influenced by the Cuban Revolution. In order to combat these leftist insurgencies, the U.S. army trained (and continues to train) Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques. In other words, it teaches soldiers how to fight against internal, not external enemies.

Some of Latin America’s most notorious dictators are SOA graduates, including Manuel Noriega of Panama, Leopoldo Galtieri and Roberto Viola of Argentina, and Hugo Banzer Suarez of Bolivia. The SOA was also instrumental in training the brutal Guatemalan military that was condemned by the United Nations for committing genocide against Guatemala’s indigenous population during a forty-year civil war that killed more than 200,000 Mayan Indians. At the same time, during the civil war in neighboring El Salvador, former SOA students were involved in countless human rights abuses including the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Romero and the massacre of some 900 civilians in El Mozote.

School of the Americas Watch was established in response to U.S. taxpayer dollars being used to fund a Salvadoran army that was massacring thousands of innocent civilians during the 1980s. It claims that U.S. aid and training supports Latin American militaries that slaughter anyone they claim to be subversives, a classification that often includes unionists, human rights workers, religious leaders, civic groups, and thousands of impoverished peasants who just happen to live in conflict areas.

  In response to SOAW’s lobbying of Congress for the passage of a bill calling for the closure of the School of the Americas, the Pentagon renamed the school last year. It’s new label, the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, is nothing more than a cynical attempt to improve the school’s dismal public image. Meanwhile, the institution’s mission remains the same: to train Latin American soldiers, not to defend their country against foreign aggressors, but to wage domestic warfare against “suspected” subversives.

Not surprisingly, Colombian officers and soldiers are currently among the School’s leading recipients of training. According to SOAW, two million Colombians have been killed or displaced by SOA graduates who used violence that targeted the civilian population. The number of Colombian SOA graduates who have been linked to human rights abuses by human rights organizations, the Colombian government and the U.S. State Department is staggering.

Below is a list of some of the most notorious army officers among the more than 150 Colombian SOA graduates who have been linked to human rights abuses and paramilitary death squads during the 1980s and 1990s:

  • General Farouk Yanine Diaz, involved in 1988 massacre of 20 banana workers in Uraba and the expansion of paramilitary death squads.
  • Colonel Jesus Maria Clavijo, currently under investigation for collusion with paramilitary forces in 160 social cleansing murders from 1995-1998.
  • General Jaime Ernesto Canal Alban, established and supplied weapons and intelligence to a paramilitary group known as the Calima Front, which is responsible for more than 2,000 forced disappearances and at least 40 executions since 1999.
  • General Carlos Ospina Ovalle, accused of maintaining extensive ties to paramilitary groups and whose troops massacred at least 11 people and burned down 47 homes in El Aro in 1998.
  • Lieutenant Pedro Nei Acosta Gaivis, ordered the 1990 massacre of 11 peasants, then had his men dress the corpses to look like rebels and dismissed the killings as an armed confrontation between the army and guerrillas.
  • Major Carlos Enrique Martínez Orozco, implicated in the 1988 massacre of 18 miners in Antioquia. Martínez Orozco was subsequently promoted.
  • Major Luis Fernando Madrid Barón, implicated in the activities of a paramilitary group that killed 149 people from 1987 to 1990. Also accused of being the intellectual author of many of the assassinations.
  • General Mario Montoya Uribe, has a history of ties to paramilitary violence and is believed to be the military official responsible for Plan Colombia.
  • Lieutenant Carlos Acosta, accused of executing a group of federal prosecutors and dumping their bodies in a river. According to his brother, “He used to say that a soldier in Colombia has to fight not only guerrillas, but also the human rights groups and prosecutors.”

On the morning of April 22, four days of protest will culminate with a march from the Washington Monument to the U.S. Capitol where thousands of protesters will call on Congress to end U.S. military aid to Colombia, stop the aerial spraying of illicit crops, and close the School of the Americas.

The United States has a long history of supporting state-sponsored terrorism in Latin America, which the Bush White House intends to continue. For those of us unwilling to tolerate the use of our taxpayer dollars to support state-sponsored terrorism in Colombia, the time has come to issue our own ultimatum to lawmakers in Washington: Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.

For more information about the protest, visit Colombia Mobilization

For more information about SOAW, visit School of the Americas Watch

This article originally appeared in Colombia Report, an online journal that was published by the Information Network of the Americas (INOTA).

“Plan Afghanistan”–Wolfowitz Wants Us To Do To Afghanistan What We Have Done To Colombia

[The Establishment rag, Foreign Policy, has an op-ed piece from that old snake, Paul Wolfowitz and a writer named O’Hanlon, called Plan Afghanistan.  The piece has no merits that I can see, so I will not post it here, balthough it does serve to highlight our plans for creating civil war in Afghanistan, by turning Afghans into human-hunters of the Taliban, their prey.   The creation of death squad networks within Afghanistan, like the paramilitary mass-murderers who took Colombia to the edge of the abyss, is nothing short of pure evil, but we should expect nothing less from Wolf, the father of the Iraq dismemberment.  The MAS and Los Pepes professional killers (SEE: Pact with the DevilColombian Paramilitaries and the United States), who were trained by US Green Berets and Navy Seals, slaughtered entire villages, all under the watchful eye of their Colombian military and US Special Forces trainers. 

Colombia is suffering from this legacy still, in its ongoing efforts to reconcile its democratic institutions with its bloody past, most notably with its attempts to demobilize the paramilitary death squads we created (SEE:  The Dark Side of Plan ColombiaProtesting U.S.-Sponsored Terrorism in Colombia  ;  Pentagon Trained Troops Led by Officer Accused In Colombian Massacre ).  Wolfowitz and his pal Elliot Abrahms were also key players in the Reagan Administration at the beginning of this nightmare plan for Colombia.  Plan Colombia grew out of our experiences with the Contra death squads in El Salvador–you know the guys who liked to murder nuns?  It is truly amazing that no one has cut the head off these snakes yet.  Listening to the neocons is like listening to the devil himself.  The sad part of this whole non-story is that Wolfowitz is not proposing a change in direction in Afghanistan, just describing the scenario that has been already been set in motion in that unfortunate nation.  Haven’t we done enough to Afghanistan already, over the past thirty-plus years?  After all the curse of the Afghan mujahedeen (otherwise known as “al-Qaeda”) is how Afghanistan’s modern troubles really began, as well as the real beginning of the GWOT (global war on terror).]

Plan Afghanistan

Why the Colombia model — even if it means drug war and armed rebellion — is the best chance for U.S. success in Central Asia.

 

Piero Pomponi/Newsmakers

Piero Pomponi/Newsmakers

President Barack Obama made clear this week that the remaining troops will soon come home from Iraq. Some 10 years after the first troops landed in Afghanistan, we’re now nearly back to a one-front war. But where are we, really? It’s clear that both citizens and Washington alike are collectively weary of war and frustrated by this particular mission, with its interminable timelines and uncertain partners in Kabul and Islamabad, even if it has only been three to four years since the United States intensified its collective focus and resources on this mission.

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the temporary surge of U.S. forces was used for two purposes: First, to increase the size and quality of Iraqi and Afghan security forces so that they could take over most or all of the fight — this might be called “the surge that stays behind” or the “permanent surge”; and second, to create conditions sufficiently stable so that what we hand off to indigenous forces is not a losing hand that is doomed to fail, but one with a reasonable chance of success. The surge in Iraq produced dramatic results in a relatively short period of time; the results in Afghanistan have been more limited. With the president having announced that U.S. forces will withdraw by 2014, the question bears asking: Is victory in Afghanistan now beyond our grasp?

Many analysts have noted that the surge strategy in Afghanistan needs to be fundamentally different from that in Iraq. It is not an accident but rather a product of geography and the demography that Iraq has had strong central governments over the course of thousands of years, whereas Afghanistan has never had one. An Iraqi government can aspire to control all or nearly all of its territory. Indeed, any notion of success in Iraq virtually requires it. An Afghan government, on the other hand, cannot aspire to such an ambitious goal and, critically, success in Afghanistan does not require it.

Strange though it may sound, success in Afghanistan would look a lot more like the success that has been achieved in Colombia over the last 10 years, rather than the success that we are hoping for in Iraq. This is a point that was made two-and-a-half years ago by Scott Wilson, a Washington Post reporter who had spent four years in Colombia as a correspondent and a year in Iraq. Writing in April 2009, Wilson said that Obama “may want to look south rather than east in charting a new course” for Afghanistan. Though they hide in triple-canopy jungles rather than forbidding mountains, the insurgents in Colombia, like those in Afghanistan, will always enjoy the benefit of sanctuaries inside the country. And, until Pakistan withdraws its support for the Taliban, Pakistan will cause the same problems for the Afghan government that Venezuela does for Colombia.

Back then, in 2009, Afghanistan wasn’t ready for such a strategy. But the successes of the surge since then — which have been substantial even though not as dramatic as the ones achieved in just a year in Iraq — make it possible to do so now. In both Iraq and Afghanistan the surge has involved a temporary increase in U.S. troop levels — but the increase in numbers only works because it supports a shift in strategy, from one centered on killing or capturing enemy combatants to one focused on providing security for the local population. Along with that shift in strategy, a much greater emphasis has been placed on increasing both the quality and quantity of local security forces, so that they can eventually maintain that local security — and continue the fight against extremists — without substantial reliance on U.S. forces.

But even assuming a best-case scenario, it is unlikely that any government would be able to exercise control over the entire country, much less one with Afghanistan’s weak institutions, uncertain current leadership, colonial borders, and ancient tribal society. There will always be significant sections of the country, particularly in the more remote mountainous regions, where a guerilla movement like the Taliban can find effective sanctuary. That situation is substantially worsened by the existence of virtually unimpeded sanctuary on the Pakistan side of the border and support for the Taliban from important elements of that country’s national security apparatus.

Given the strength and determination of the Taliban, perhaps it was never realistic to establish what the U.N. Conference on Afghanistan in Bonn in 2001 hoped would be “a broad-based, gender sensitive, multi-ethnic and fully representative government” over all of Afghanistan. But if we set our sights realistically, we can still achieve the minimum standards of success needed to protect American security and give the Afghan people hope for a better future, in a way that is also consistent with the pressures of U.S. politics. Rather than aiming to establish government control over the entire country, the U.S. goal should be to contain the insurgency while giving the Afghans the tools to take over the fight from us in coming years.

In fact, something to this effect has been the U.S. strategy on the ground for some time now. And, for both American and even Afghan purposes, such an outcome could be considered a genuine success. Over the past decade, we have achieved just this result in Colombia — or, more accurately, the Colombians with our assistance have achieved such a result — and it is rightly considered a substantial victory.

***

For almost 50 years, Colombia has been plagued by violence, the result of a bloody war waged against the government by Marxist-Leninist revolutionaries — led primarily by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). Although the violence was interrupted from time-to-time by a variety of peace agreements, these inevitably turned out to be more in the nature of armed truces than true peace settlements. Violent right-wing militias and even more violent narco-traffickers, added to the bloodshed. The narcotics trade itself became a major source of funding for FARC and, as the cocaine and heroin trade grew in the 1990s, the government’s grip on the country became increasingly tenuous. Assassinations became commonplace and violent deaths were, based on the best available statistics, at least five times higher in per capita terms than the level in Afghanistan today. In fact, war-related deaths remain higher in Colombia even now, after a decade of progress. By 1998, a leaked Defense Intelligence Agency report speculated on the possibility of a FARC victory within as little as five years. At the height of the insurgency in 2006, the FARC controlled as much as 30 percent of the territory of Colombia.

In response to that growing danger, in 2000, the Colombian government put forward an ambitious Plan Colombia, which was warmly embraced by the Bill Clinton administration and later the George W. Bush administration. According to a recent Congressional Research Service study, the country has “made significant progress in reestablishing government control over much of its territory, combating drug trafficking and terrorist activities, and reducing poverty,” through a combination of brave actions by the Colombian military, some $7 billion in U.S. assistance, a relatively small number of U.S. military advisors and, particularly, the strong leadership of President Alvaro Uribe from 2002 to 2010. A number of senior FARC leaders have been killed, some through targeted air strikes, and thousands of FARC fighters have demobilized, partly as a result of a government amnesty program. According to Colombian government statistics and other sources, the number of FARC fighters has declined by half since 2001 (though they still number almost 8,000) and they are having difficulty recruiting new members. The International Crisis Group estimates the average age of FARC recruits today at less than 12 years old. The country remains plagued by violence, to be sure, but is no longer in danger of state collapse and no longer has the omnipresent feel of a war zone.

Some might object that the articulation of such an outcome as our goal in Afghanistan would be an acknowledgement of failure. True, it is a less desirable end state than either the Bush or Obama administrations initially envisioned for Afghanistan or than the United Nations envisioned in the heady days back in Bonn. But such an outcome would in fact be substantially better than current conventional expectations after 10 years of a war that many Americans and Afghans think we are actually losing.

From an American point of view it would prevent Afghanistan from being controlled by the Taliban, whose willingness to support terrorism is probably reinforced by a decade of war, and it would provide us with an essential base for conducting effective counterterrorism campaigns in the areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan beyond our control. From an Afghan perspective, it provides those Afghans who do not wish to be ruled by the Taliban — which includes nearly all of the non-Pashtun population and a majority even of the Pashtun — the opportunity to defend themselves against possible insurgent takeover. While one might hope for a better outcome over time as the government’s political and military capacity improves, a “Colombia standard” for Afghanistan is a realistic goal — and one that actually might be sustainable in the coming years, given waning public support for the war.

In a way, it’s actually a return to an earlier strategy. A decade ago, after overthrowing the Taliban in concert with the Afghan Northern Alliance, the United States adopted what was often nicknamed a “light footprint” strategy for helping getting Afghanistan get back on its feet. This approach had a certain logic. Importantly, it was not adopted out of a need to shift attention to Iraq but out of a desire not to repeat the dismal Soviet experience in Afghanistan. It took reality in account: rebuilding an Afghan state that had never been very strong to begin with and was even more decimated after a quarter century of civil war was never going to be easy. The “light footprint” approach did initially deliver a higher standard of living and quality of life for the Afghan people, but it did not reckon on the Taliban mounting a major comeback — sadly, with the support of Pakistan’s intelligence service — starting around late 2005.

The Obama administration, of course, tried a more comprehensive counterinsurgency approach in Afghanistan. This new strategy built on smaller force increases already begun towards the end of Bush’s second term, but Obama gets the lion’s share of both the credit and the associated responsibility, since it was he who tripled U.S. combat forces and brought total international force strength up to levels not far below where they were in Iraq during the surge there. The goals, while somewhat focused geographically on key parts of Afghanistan’s south and east, were to systematically weaken the insurgency while building up the military, economic, and political capacity of the Afghan state at national, provincial, and local levels.

The Afghanistan surge has achieved some real successes. Under the able leadership of Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, for example, the Afghan National Army in particular has improved in both quality and quantity. It is partnering with NATO forces in the field in a concentrated form of apprenticeship even after basic training is complete, providing about half of all combat forces for operations in the south, bearing primary responsibility for security in Kabul, and showing fairly strong commitment to the Afghan state. This important development remains underappreciated in the U.S. debate and provides a major basis for hope that the hand-off to Afghan security forces can succeed.

That said, it must be acknowledged that more ambitious goals for Afghanistan are not going to come to fruition. Kabul and key parts of the country’s south that were once Taliban strongholds have been largely secured, yet the east of the country remains perilous, and overall levels of violence have not appreciably declined nationwide. This is disappointing. The high level of violence reflects, to some extent, the larger presence of NATO and Afghan forces on the streets and in the hills of the country which brings them into more frequent contact with the enemy, but it was reasonable to hope for better conditions after two years of the surge. Assassinations remain a serious problem. Spectacular recent attacks in places like Kabul have been less effective than commonly portrayed, but still do add further weight to the argument that the insurgency remains robust. On top of all of this, corruption in Kabul and perfidy in parts of Pakistan’s security forces complicate the military task enormously.

But this is a far cry from a Taliban victory. Given Afghanistan’s current trajectory, major Afghan cities seem likely to remain in government hands. Attacks and assassinations will remain a major worry, especially for security forces and political leaders, but represent something closer to a nuisance for most citizens, who would generally have more immediate economic issues on their minds. Transportation arteries will, for the most part, be increasingly usable even if hardly safe. Areas such as the Korengal Valley will continue to provide sanctuary for terrorists and insurgents even inside the country, but a combination of Afghan forces and NATO intelligence, special operations, and drone strikes will keep them in check.

***

The analogy between Colombia and Afghanistan goes only so far, of course. One important difference is that Afghanistan’s ability to support the size of security forces required for stability is far less than that of Colombia’s — whose army numbers 178,000 and its national police another 144,000. Those numbers are very close to the newly revised targets for Afghanistan — with a total of about 350,000 security forces.  Sounds pretty good for a country half the size of Colombia, with roughly 25 percent fewer people. However, Afghanistan’s gross domestic product is only 6 percent that of Colombia’s.

Success in Afghanistan therefore requires a commitment to continue substantial financial support of at least several billion dollars a year, long beyond 2014, the year when NATO is supposed to have completed the handoff for primary security responsibility to Afghan forces nationwide. That is something that President Hamid Karzai has rightly requested, though it will fall to his successor to continue the partnership with the international community thereafter — 2014 also marks the year that Karzai is constitutionally required to step down. The government of Colombia committed $3 for every $1 dollar spent by the United States on Plan Colombia; the government of Afghanistan is obviously unable to do that. However, the United States should solicit a significant sharing of the burden from other countries, particularly from some of the wealthy Gulf countries, which have so much at stake in the region and have so far done so little to help.

Another major difference from the Colombia case is that, although cross-border sanctuary is a problem for both countries, Pakistan’s support for the Taliban is much greater than Venezuela’s for FARC. The level of Pakistan’s support for the Taliban for the past half decade is deeply disturbing. The Taliban was Pakistan’s creation and its principal ally in Afghanistan during the 1990s, so it is not surprising that Islamabad is reluctant to abandon them. It is less clear why support for the Taliban was increased when it was, but one possibility is that Pakistan was preparing for the day when the United States once again abandons Afghanistan, given the pervasive fear in Islamabad that Afghanistan could then fall into chaos or turn primarily in an India-friendly direction. This is why the all-or-nothing model is doomed to fail. Rather, the articulation of a more realistic U.S. goal for Afghanistan, with a limited presence that is sustainable over the long term, could be part of an effective strategy — which we currently lack — to secure greater Pakistani cooperation in reigning in the Taliban

All of this will take time. Afghanistan’s institutions are too weak today to allow us to accelerate our exit strategy beyond what the Obama administration has already done. And even the relatively happy “Colombia outcome” can hardly be guaranteed. Among other things, it requires more decisive and unifying political leadership than Karzai is currently able to muster in Afghanistan — in this regard, elections in 2014 will be crucial for strengthening the nation’s democracy and improving governance, and America needs to focus as much attention on helping Afghans prepare for that big event as we have provided already in military terms on the battlefield. Again, the Colombia example is germane; Uribe was hardly without his flaws but he did bring more legitimate and upright governance to his country.

Strengthening Afghan democracy and preparing for a post-Karzai future after 2014 require, among other things, much more robust support for Afghanistan’s weak political parties and parliament. That means everything from technical support on how to hold rallies, develop platforms, get out the vote, and prepare candidates for Afghanistan’s political parties, to help for parliament to create stronger staffs and research organizations that serve its agendas, to many more exchange programs and visits involving Afghanistan’s new generation of political leaders. Governors need more help too, perhaps in some kind of “sister” relationship with America’s national board of governors. But U.S. officials need to look further down the line: They still focus too much on Karzai and his cabinet when interacting with Afghan leaders; clearly, most of these individuals no longer represent the country’s future.  Plan Colombia succeeded, in no small measure, because it was a Colombian plan that had Colombian buy in. For a similar success to be achieved in Afghanistan, there needs to be some kind of Afghan process that achieves a broader commitment — beyond just Karzai — to the strategy and a joint commitment by Afghanistan and the United States to their agreed responsibilities beyond 2014.

But the Colombia model should give hope to those who wonder what we are still doing in Afghanistan after so many years, and provide an attainable standard that with some patience and just a little luck we can probably still achieve in what has now become America’s longest war.

Kyrgyzstan vote shaped by interregional rivalry

Kyrgyzstan vote shaped by interregional rivalry

LEILA SARALAYEVAPETER LEONARD

BISHKEKKyrgyzstan (AP) — The presidential election in Kyrgyzstan this weekend will be unusually free and democratic by Central Asian standards, but fears are mounting it could fuel ethnic tensions and regional divide.
Sunday’s vote in the economically struggling ex-Soviet nation follows the April 2010 violent ouster of former leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev and ethnic violence in which rampaging mobs killed hundreds of minority ethnic Uzbeks in the country’s south.

Kyrgyzstan, an impoverished nation of around 5 million people on China‘s western fringes, is home to both U.S. and Russian military air bases, making its fortunes subject of lively international interest.

Over the two decades since the country gained independence, elections have been purely formal exercises designed to lend a threadbare veil of legitimacy to the ruling elite. Bakiyev and his predecessor, mathematician Askar Akayev, only left office after being literally chased out of it by angry mobs.

President Roza Otunbayeva, a seasoned diplomat who served as ambassador in Washington and London and has been running the country as interim leader since 2010, will step down to make way for the election winner.

None of the three top contenders is likely to garner more than 50 percent of votes in the Oct. 30 election, setting stage for a runoff between the two top vote-getters.

The 55-year-old front-runner Almazbek Atambayev, a wealthy businessman who stepped down as prime minister in September to take part in the election campaign, hopes his efforts to restore economic stability over the past year will aid his chances. Raising pitifully low state salaries and pensions has certainly helped cast him as the welfare candidate.

Atambayev made his fortune in the early 1990s after setting up a printing house churning out Russian translations of Mario Puzo‘s Godfather series, as well as more controversial fare like Anthony Burgesses‘ Clockwork Orange and the works of Marquis de Sade.

Kyrgyzstan’s economic fortunes are inextricably linked with Russia, where around 500,000 Kyrgyz migrant workers reside, and Atambayev has worked hard to deepen those ties.

Recognizing the antipathy engendered by the presence of the U.S. air base, Atambayev has pledged it will be closed by 2014, when the current lease runs out.

For all this, however, Atambayev is to many, first and foremost, distinguished for being from the north — a fact that may prove decisive in an election that threatens to exacerbate regional antagonisms.

“There’s a kind of negative connotation to these elections since they are very decisive. There’s definitely the question of south and north present here,” said Shirin Aitmatova, a parliamentary deputy with the left-leaning Ata-Meken party.

Indeed, the greatest challenge to Atambayev will come from two staunchly southern politicians — 44-year old ex-Emergency Services minister Kamchibek Tashiyev and former parliament speaker and top security official Adakhan Madumarov, 46.

Tashiyev’s nationalist Ata-Zhurt party stunned observers last year by easily winning the largest share of votes in parliamentary elections. That resounding success came on the back of soaring nationalist sentiments that prevailed in the wake of interethnic clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities in the south that left at least 470 people dead in June 2010 and drove several hundred thousand people from their homes, mostly Uzbeks.

Once in parliament, trained boxer Tashiyev proved a poor team-player and largely gained prominence for his violent physical assaults on fellow party members. Despite his relative lack of campaign financing, he is expected to make a respectable showing.

Ominously, he has warned that an unfavorable result will lead to a robust challenge. In Kyrgyzstan, this often means unruly crowds hitting the streets.

The southern vote will be split between Tashiyev and Madumarov, who has vowed to overturn recent constitutional reforms giving more power to parliament and restore a strong presidency.

Comments made by Madumarov during a televised presidential debate this month, when he spoke about the need to “cut off the tongues and legs” of journalists smearing his reputation, suggest his presidency would mark a rollback to a more authoritarian model of governance.

Even so, Madumarov may hope, despite his strong links to the ousted Bakiyev regime, that he can project a vision of firmness and legality.

“I will never steal from the government’s coffers and I will never appoint someone to high office just because we come from the same region, they are my brother, or because they paid me money,” he told students at the Kyrgyz Agrarian Institute this week.

Kyrgyz Will Elect New President On Sunday

Elections Not Expected to Solve Kyrgyzstan’s Woes

By Andrey Volkov
Epoch Times Staff

Kyrgyzstan’s prime minister and presidential candidate Almazbek Atambayev smiles as he holds kamcha, a traditional riding whip and symbol of power, during his meeting with local residents in Akzhar, a district on the outskirts Bishkek, on Oct. 27. (Vyacheslav Oseledko/AFP/Getty Images )

Kyrgyzstan, and all its problems, comes into the international spotlight again with presidential elections on Sunday.

Despite elections, little is expected to change given the country’s inability to tackle systemic corruption and critical human rights issues since a coup toppled the government last year.

A September poll showed front-runner, Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev, winning 65 percent of voters’ support compared to his rivals who have less than 30 percent support.

Although Kyrgyzstan remains more democratic than its authoritarian Central Asian neighbors, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the nation faces critical problems including a weak government and ineffective state institutions, says Marek Matusiak, an expert with the Warsaw-based Center for Eastern Studies.The country is perceived as one of the most corrupt in the world, according to Transparency International’s 2008 Corruption Perception Index.

Even if Atambayev wins the presidency, he is expected to be an ineffective leader due to his reliance on a fragile governing system in the impoverished country of 5 million people.

Matusiak said the status quo will likely continue after the election. He does not believe Atambayev will be able to strengthen the government.

“If he assumes the president’s office, I don’t think there will be many changes. He has not shown himself so far and I don’t believe that he will be able to do that as president,” said Matusiak.

Reasons for Weakness

The weakness of the central government manifests in having limited control in parts of the country, particularly in the southern region, which had violent ethnic clashes last year between the Uzbeks, a minority concentrated in the south, and the Kyrgyz. Weakness also shows in the country’s inability to carry out fair trials in numerous cases related to those conflicts and widespread torture in detention centers.

Kyrgyzstan’s political power is also undermined by a “battle between personalities,” according to a report by Johan Engvall, an expert with the Stockholm-based Institute for Security and Development Policy.

Engvall argues that since Kyrgyzstan broke from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has been governed by leaders who represent family or specific community interests with little to no political competitionbased ideological interests. Former overthrown Presidents Askar Akayev and Kurmanbek Bakyev also fit this bill, he contends.

“Given the absence of a common national interest, the Kyrgyz political elite is susceptible to manipulation by outside forces,” he said in the report.

As evidence, he points to the many visits Kyrgyz party leaders paid to Moscow for consultations after winning seats in Parliament in 2010 October elections. Leaders of the opposition to deposed President Bakyev did the same prior to the coup in April 2010.

Atambayev is widely believed to lean toward Russian interests after making many visits to Moscow over the last year. He is also a northerner and does not have as much support in the south. Atambayev told the United States he will close access to the Manas air base in 2014 and he has shown strong support for joining the Kremlin-led Custom Union, which includes Kazakhstan and Belarus.

Despite strong divisions in political power, there are also some concerns that the next president could concentrate power into his own hands and undermine Parliament in practice and perhaps in law, said Svante Cornell, an expert with the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program.

“The problems in the country’s south have not been addressed; quite to the contrary, the nationalistic and anti-Uzbek stance of most Kyrgyz political actors also do not bode well for the country’s future, and especially its ability to develop,” Cornell said in an e-mail interview.

Torture Cases

Since the coup last year and transition to a parliamentary republic, Kyrgyz interim authorities have mishandled dozens of the trials dealing with the ethnic conflicts and have been heavily criticized by human rights organizations.

Use of torture is widely used to gain confessions in custody in the cases of accused ethnic Uzbek people, groups allege. The case of Azimjan Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek and human rights defender from the southern town of Bazar-Korgon, is one example of the government’s failure.

Askarov was detained on June 15, 2010, in his hometown when a policeman was killed during the ethnic clashes. He was put into the same police station where the killed police officer had served and Askarov was subsequently tortured. He gave detailed public testimonies of his torture and provided evidence andpictures to support his claims.

However, authorities have been unable to prosecute those responsible. “This case raises particular doubts about the will and the ability of the government to address the brutal torture,” said Maria Lisitsyna, an expert with New-York-based Open Society Foundations.

“The ability of the authorities to ensure individual prosecutions in torture cases would be the first indicators that the country is serious about its human rights obligations,” she points out.

Withdrawing but not Capitulating

Ten years after the overthrow of the Taliban, the US and NATO have fallen into a hardly tenable situation because they support an illegitimate government that is discredited 

[This article published 10/7/2011 is translated from the German on the Internet, http://www.freitag.de/datenbank/freitag/2011/40/abziehen-aber-nicht-kapitulieren/print.
Jochen Hippler is a political scientist. More articles on Afghanistan can be found at http://www.jochenhippler.de.]

For over 30 years war has raged at Hindukusch – with the participation of the US, Germany and other NATO states in the last decade. In North America and Western Europe, there were widespread expectations that the intervention of October 2001 would lead to the overthrow of the Taliban and to stable, peaceful and democratic conditions. Measured by these expectations, NATO has lost the war. Ten years after the western entrance into war, the land at Hindukusch is neither peaceful nor stable. Claims to democracy are discretely abandoned.

Since the beginning of 2010, the US and NATO have followed a new strategy and the situation has intensified. The report of the UN Secretary General says there were 39 percent more attacks in 2011 than in 2010. There can be no talk of stabilization of the country. Quite the contrary, the rebels have recently shown they can massively attack the government and its foreign allies in the capital Kabul.

ONLY SURVIVING

That the Hamid Karzai government aggravates the conflict and is not a bearer of hope may be even more important than the deteriorating security situation. The Karzai government is responsible for the election forgeries, torture, corruption and war criminals and warlords at important levers of power. To many Afghans today, the Taliban almost seems the lesser evil. The strategic dilemma of the NATO presence is that it depends on the support of the Afghan executive. Since the Afghan executive is hated and becomes the problem instead of the solution, the western military presence loses its political basis. In other words, NATO supports an illegitimate government and falls into a situation that is hardly stable.

The western alliance cannot defeat the rebels militarily on account of the power relations. NATO has lost the war politically since its political project is discredited. Its superior strategic strength is meaningless. The Taliban only needs to survive to be victorious militarily and to win the war. They demonstrated this ability over against the strongest military power of the world. Under these circumstances, the US and NATO understand they can no longer decide the war. However a withdrawal is not allowed since that would make the defeat obvious. From the perspective of the West, finding a way in which a retreat would not seem like admission of a debacle is vital.

Two options are in the forefront: the “reconciliation” and “reintegration” of the Taliban on one side and a negotiated solution to end the war on the other side. Both ways are hardly promising. In Afghanistan, “reconciliation and reintegration” are terms of public relations that do not mean conciliation with the rebels. With this policy, many of the rebels – particularly simple fighters and middling cadres – are dissuaded from rebellion through material incentives and other ways and won over to the side of the government. This was more a deserter- than a reconciliation program. It may be tactically useful but is not a permanent solution. Some farmers’ sons would gladly be renegade Talibs if this promised material advantages. The Taliban lay8ing down their arms could later rejoin the rebels. Material incentives only have minimal effects as long as the government is discredited and the war in the eyes of the population cannot be won.

CHRONIC LOSS OF POWER

Belated attempts to make peace through negotiations were not very promising. The Taliban and other insurgents assume they will win the war and only need patience to wait for the retreat of foreign troops. Unlike NATO, they can cope with even greater losses. Time works for them. The Taliban will certainly show readiness for dialogue regionally and nationally. But they do not believe concluding a peace treaty is one of the conditions of the government or of the foreign actors.

Conversations and negotiations could facilitate withdrawal of the foreign troops. However sharing power with Hamid Karzai seems hardly attractive to the warriors of God. This was obvious before the murder of chief negotiator and ex-president Rabbani and was clarified once and for all after the attack. The Afghan government can realize advantages through conversations – demonstrating to its population that it is an independent actor and not a marionette of the West. It could increase its possibilities in relation to the NATO countries. However from the government’s view, sharing power with the Taliban accomplished through negotiations would start the process of chronic loss of power with an uncertain outcome that hardly interests anyone.

All in all, the US and its allies have maneuvered into a cul-de-sac from which they can hardly find their way out. When those governing in Kabul were still credible in 2005 and the insurgents were weak, a negotiated solution was refused. Today the presuppositions for a military victory of NATO and for the political weakening of the Taliban do not exist. The presuppositions for a negotiated peace exist.

http://rethinkafghanistan.com

Proposal for regional set-up irks Pakistan

Proposal for regional set-up irks Pakistan

By Baqir Sajjad Syed
Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will lead Pakistan’s delegation at the Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan that will follow a Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey summit to be held a day earlier. —File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has expressed reservations over the proposed draft of the declaration of the upcoming Istanbul Conference on Afghanistan, which may complicate international efforts for evolving a consensus on the document.

The conference slated for Nov 2 is expected to discuss transition in Afghanistan, reconciliation with Afghan insurgent groups and regional economic cooperation.

Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will lead Pakistan’s delegation at the conference that will follow a Pakistan-Afghanistan-Turkey summit to be held a day earlier. The summit will be attended by President Asif Ali Zardari, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Turkish President Abdullah Gul.

Two preparatory sessions held in Oslo and Kabul for achieving an agreement on the desired outcome of the Istanbul Conference could not bridge the differences.

The issues were reported to have been raised also with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the country last week.

“It is important that unity of purpose and region’s support for Afghanistan must be ensured through consensus decision making,” Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua said about the conference at her weekly media briefing here on Thursday.

The most critical difference revolves around a proposal for setting up a ‘regional structure’ on Afghanistan and the neighbouring region, a Pakistani diplomat said.

The regional group is proposed to include over a dozen countries in Afghanistan’s immediate and broader neighbourhood in addition to the United States

Pakistan believes that existing mechanisms are adequate to hold consultations on Afghanistan and any attempt to impose a ‘super-structure’ or ‘an additional architecture’ can be counter-productive, particularly in view of some complex regional dynamics, more specifically the Indo-Pakistan rivalry.

“The existing regional organisations and arrangements may also be urged to prioritise support in their respective domains for achieving the afore-stated objectives of a stable, peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan in a stable, peaceful and prosperous region,” the spokesperson said.

Pakistan has long opposed the setting up of a contact group on Afghanistan and had pre-empted a similar move last year during the London Conference on Afghanistan.

Officials said the current draft was more about confidence-building measures, whereas Pakistan wanted it to reflect the broader principles for cooperation.

It wants states attending the conference to affirm their commitment to Afghanistan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity, inviolability of borders and non-interference and non-intervention in the country’s internal affairs. Besides, it will like the conference to pledge support for eliminating terrorism as well as production and trafficking of narcotics.

“We believe the Istanbul Conference should manifest in tangible terms its support for Afghanistan on the basis of established principles of inter-state conduct enshrined in the UN Charter and the international law as well as material, financial and technical support for socio-economic development,” Ms Janjua said.

The Foreign Office is hopeful that its concerns will be addressed.

“I have referred at the start of today’s briefing to some commitments, some principles, which we would like to be reflected in the Istanbul document. As yet, we understand that this is not the final document. It is a work in progress,” the spokesperson said.

CLINTON VISIT: “We evaluate Secretary of State Clinton’s visit positively. The visit was useful and constructive. It allowed an opportunity for in-depth discussions. It was clear during the discussions that there is broad convergence of views between the two countries at the strategic level. Both countries agreed to have a work plan in order to translate these convergences into desired results,” Ms Janjua said.

Syed Irfan Raza adds: The spokesperson said President Zardari would visit Turkey from Monday and Pakistan would raise at the trilateral summit the issue of attacks by militants from Afghanistan.

“Pakistan attaches importance to the various trilateral, quadrilateral and other processes relating to Afghanistan and will continue to contribute constructively to all endeavours and initiatives in this regard.”

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Draws Heat from Congress for Attempts to Demilitarize Jammu and Kashmir

Tension between Omar, Congress over Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA)

Nazir Masoodi

Srinagar:  Omar Abdullah’s move to withdraw the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from some areas of Jammu and Kashmir has in the past few days led to a confrontation with the Army. Today, Mr Abdullah’s ally, the Congress, also questioned his announcement.

Mr Abdullah is chairman of the unified command of various security agencies in his home state.

“He (Omar Abdullah) must understand, he is not the only important actor. I wish he had consulted around, then he would be on a stronger footing. Today he is not on a strong footing because he has not done the consultation exercise fully,” said Saifuddin Soz, the head of the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Soz also said that the Chief Minister seems to have deliberately left the Congress out of the loop. “Look, he is the chairman of the unified command, he didn’t discuss it there. He has a cabinet, he didn’t discuss it there… he makes statements on his own, he thinks that he is the Chief Minister, he can do anything. These laws are very important, it needs very calm reflection in a congenial atmosphere.”

“I have no grouse at not being consulted by the Chief Minister. He could have even sought my opinion over phone… However, the main players like Union Home Ministry, Defence Ministry, Congress party and Army should be taken on board on the issue. It does not seem to be the case at the moment,” Mr Soz said. “There is no game in the world where you can score a goal all by yourself… you have to have a team,” he added.

Mr Abdullah’s response was terse. “As Chief Minister, I am well aware of my responsibilities of consultation and carrying my alliance partners with me,” he said. “At every step of the way, I have kept the Home Minister of India briefed…not only about discussions here but also about future intentions,” he added. Mr Abdullah suggested that Mr Soz could have brought up any differences of opinion over AFSPA at the coordination committee that is meant to handle relations between the National Conference and the Congress. The committee is chaired by Mr Soz and includes four other representatives of both parties, including Tara Chand, the state’s Deputy Chief Minister who is from the Congress.

Even as his ally questioned his style and decision, the Chief Minister tried to stress that his initiative to revoke AFSPA in some areas like Srinagar and Jammu is not an attempt to undermine the Army, or to demonize it. “The Army has played a crucial role in controlling militancy in the state and the removal of AFSPA from certain areas is being done in consultation with the Army,” he said.

Today, Army Chief General V K Singh said the matter is now being reviewed by the Home Ministry.

The Act, its critics believe, gives the Army sweeping powers – like the right to arrest someone without a warrant. The Army says working without the Act makes it vulnerable. Sources say intelligence inputs and intercepts report that currently, around 2,500 militants are present in 42 training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Of these, 800 are poised to cross over to India. Around 30-odd militants have been killed along the Line of Control (LoC) in the last two months while attempting to cross over. Sources further say that intercepts indicate that infiltration attempts are likely to continue even during the winter months – usually, the weather ensures against this.

For NDTV

US sows discord in South Asia

[Once again Mr. Bhadrakumar doesn’t disappoint us with the power of his analysis of the situation on the sub-continent and throughout the Central Asian theater of psywar.  The time is rapidly approaching when the fluid Afghanistan situation will reach a “moment of decision,” when American control over events will be decide for us by the participants themselves.  Like the recent surprise revelation that Iraq will refuse to meet American demands to keep a smaller military force in country, Afghans themselves may deny us the authority to peacefully keep American bases and Special Forces kill teams in Afghanistan past the alleged “withdrawal date.”  If the upcoming Loya Jirga fails to endorse semi-permanent US super-bases, then Obama will receive a second embarrassing rebuke to his attempts to seduce or buy his way with the Afghan govt.  If the Afghan govt. refuses to go along with our demands, then how can the US Congress continue to authorize funds to train and equip them?  Either Obama will soon get everything that he wanted or he will be cut-off from the preferred path of “Mr. Nice Guy,” leaving him with only one option to get his way–Ultimate force.  He cannot blow his carefully crafted cover to the world and reveal the Establishment hit man that lies just beneath the surface. 

Other writers are catching-on quickly, as well, that the game is about over, or else it has just begun.  Pay attention from here on out to M K Bhadrakumar from here on out; he knows what is really going down.  The bluffing is about over and we will have to show our hand.  God help us all, when the river of bullshit stops flowing and nothing is left but the brutal truth about American aggression.  Odds are, at that time, exposing the Beast will only increase the violence.] 

US sows discord in South Asia 


By M K Bhadrakumar

Two templates in regional politics are seriously debilitating the United States’s campaign to bring Pakistan down on its knees in the Afghan endgame. One is that Delhi has distanced itself from the US campaign and pursues an independent policy toward Islamabad.

The second factor frustrating US policies to isolate Pakistan is the South Asian nation’s bonhomie with Iran. Pakistan would have been pretty much isolated had there been an acute rivalry with Iran over the Afghan endgame. The current level of cordiality in the relationship enables Islamabad to focus on the rift with the US and even draw encouragement from Tehran.

It’s baloney 
A recent statement by the Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on the US-Pakistan rift underscored that India doesn’t see eye-to-eye with the US approach. (See US puts the squeeze on Pakistan, Asia Times, October 22). It was carefully timed to signal to Washington (and Islamabad) that Delhi strongly disfavored any form of US military action against Pakistan.

There is a string of evidence to suggest that the Pakistani leadership appreciates the Indian stance. The general headquarters in Rawalpindi acted swiftly on Sunday to return to India within hours a helicopter with three senior military officers on board which strayed into Pakistani territory in bad weather in the highly sensitive Siachen sector. The official spokesman in Delhi went on record to convey India’s appreciation of the Pakistani gesture. Such conciliatory gestures are rare (for both sides) in the chronicle of Pakistan-India relationship.

Again, last week, India voted for Pakistan’s candidacy for the Asia-Pacific slot among the non-permanent membership of the United Nations Security Council and the Pakistani ambassador promptly responded that he would work with his Indian counterpart in New York. Ironically, the UN has been a theater for India and Pakistan’s frequent clashes over the Kashmir problem.

Looking ahead, the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are likely to meet on the sidelines of the South Asian Association For Regional Cooperation summit in Male on November 10-11. Washington would have been quick to insist that it acted as “facilitator” in fostering the improving climate in India-Pakistan relations. But the US is instead watching with a degree of discomfort that its complicated South Asian symphony is throwing up jarring notes. Calibrating India-Pakistan tensions traditionally constituted a key element of the US’s regional diplomacy.

Washington has “retaliated” to Krishna’s statement by issuing a travel advisory cautioning American nationals from visiting India because of heightened terrorist threats. Delhi, in turn, ticked off Washington saying it considered the US move “disproportionate” – a cute way of saying that the advisory is a load of baloney.

Jundallah in retreat 
What is happening in Pakistan-Iran relations is even more galling for the US. There has been a spate of high-level visits between Islamabad and Tehran and the two capitals have reached mutual understandings on a range of security interests. Last week, Tehran acknowledged that there had not been a single attack by the terrorist group Jundallah from the Pakistani side of the border in the Balochistan region during the past 10 months.

Tehran has accused the US of masterminding the Jundallah terrorists to stage covert operations to destabilize Iran. However, since the detention of Central Intelligence Agency operative Raymond Davis in Lahore in January, Islamabad has clamped down on hundreds of US intelligence operatives functioning on Pakistani soil, seriously cramping the US’s capacity to dispatch Jundallah terrorists into Iran.

Tehran is satisfied that the Pakistani security establishment is finally acting purposively to smash the US-backed Jundallah network. It reciprocates Pakistan’s goodwill by trying to harmonize its Afghan policy and scrupulously avoided pointing fingers at Pakistan for the assassination of Afghan Peace Council head Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was closely allied with Tehran.

Essentially, Iran appreciates that Pakistan’s “strategic defiance” of the US will be in the interest of regional stability, the bottom line being that Tehran is keen to force the American troops to leave the region.

Tehran succeeded in the pursuit of a similar objective in Iraq by prevailing on Shi’ite political elites in Baghdad not to accede to the desperate pleas by the US to allow US troops to continue even after the stipulated deadline of withdrawal in December 2011 under the Status of Forces agreement. But Afghanistan is a different kettle of fish and a common strategy with Pakistan will help.

Pakistan keeps an ambivalent stance on the issue of a long-term US military presence in Afghanistan, but it can count on the Taliban to robustly oppose the US plans apropos military bases. Unsurprisingly, Tehran purses a multi-pronged approach toward the Taliban.

Concerted effort 
In sum, the overall regional scenario is becoming rather unfavorable to the US. The easing of tensions in Pakistan’s relations with India and Iran undermine US strategy to get embedded in the region.

The US’s travel advisory was intended to raise hackles in India about the imminent possibility of Pakistan-supported terrorist activities. Again, US-sponsored disinformation is reappearing with claims that China and Pakistan are conspiring against India by setting Chinese military bases in the northern areas of Pakistan, which form part of Kashmir.

This is coinciding with a distinct improvement in the security situation in the Kashmir Valley, to the point that chief minister Omar Abdullah openly advocated last week in Srinagar that decades-old emergency regulations should be progressively withdrawn and that Delhi should initiate a serious engagement of Pakistan to settle the Kashmir problem.

United States-backed propaganda about the prospect of Chinese military bases in the Pakistani part of Kashmir is intended to serve a dual purpose: namely, creating discord between Pakistan and India and in Sino-Indian relations, too.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh made a significant statement last week that he was “convinced” that the Chinese leadership wanted a peaceful resolution of all problems between India and China, including the long-running border dispute. Significantly, he expressed his “sincere hope [that] it is possible for us to find ways and means by which the two neighbors can live in peace and amity despite the persistence of the border problem”.

Manmohan’s remarks assumed significance since the two countries are to shortly hold the 15th round of talks on the border issue in New Delhi. In a meaningful move, the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded to Manmohan’s political overture. Beijing said China was “ready to work with India to enhance the China-India strategic partnership”. The statement said:

As important neighbors to each other, China and India have maintained sound momentum in the bilateral relationship. As for the border issue left over from history, the two sides have been seeking a fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable solution through friendly consultations. Pending a final solution, the two sides are committed to maintaining peace and tranquility in border areas.

A season for propaganda 
The speculative, unattributed – and unverifiable – reports regarding Chinese intentions to establish military bases in the upper reaches of the Kashmir region under Pakistani control are surging again at a formative point in regional security. Their labored thesis is that Delhi should be extremely wary about the “devious” intentions of China and Pakistan and should go slow on the normalization of relations with these “treacherous” neighbors.

Curiously, Delhi is also being bombarded at the same time with US propaganda that Washington is striking a “grand bargain” with Pakistan over the Afghan problem whereby there will be a mutual accommodation of each other’s concerns, which may include US intervention to mediate the Kashmir problem and US pressure on Delhi to roll back its presence in Afghanistan.

In a motivated commentary in Foreign Policy magazine last week on the eve of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad, two prominent US think-tankers wired to the Washington establishment actually tried to alternatively bait Islamabad and frighten Delhi by putting on the table the ingredients of the “grand bargain”. Truly, this is all turning out to be a season for propaganda.

The heart of the matter is that the US is desperate to clinch a strategic agreement with the government of President Hamid Karzai in Kabul that would allow the establishment of a long-term American military presence in Afghanistan.

On Monday, hundreds of Afghans demonstrated in Kabul against US bases. The same day, the lower house of the Afghan parliament rejected terms guiding the operations of the Afghan government’s existing agreement with the International Security Assistance Force as violating the country’s sovereignty. The mood in the Afghan parliament seems hostile.

Karzai is convening a loya jirga (grand council) to seek endorsement for the US-Afghan pact. Matters will come to a head when it meets on November 16. Karzai promises that the US-Afghan pact will be sent to parliament for approval after being discussed in the jirga. Washington insists that the jirga approves the draft pact before the Bonn II conference convenes in December. Karzai’s political future depends on whether he can deliver on the pact.

All sitting parliamentarians, some former members, one-third of the provincial council members, representatives of civil society and distinguished people, religious scholars and influential tribal leaders have been invited to the jirga. Two hundred and thirty representatives of Afghan refugee communities in Pakistan, Iran and Western countries will also be in attendance in the 2,030-strong jirga.

On September 13, Afghan National Security Advisor Dadfar Spanta told Afghan parliamentarians that the US might set up military bases in Afghanistan after the signing of the pact, but that the pact wouldn’t be inked unless approved by parliament. Spanta added, “Concerns of our neighbors [over the US-Afghan pact] are genuine, but we will not allow our soil to be used against them.”

The Afghan parliament fears, however, that Karzai might choose to bypass it after extracting endorsement from a pliant jirga and interpreting that as the collective opinion of the Afghan nation. Parliament directed the speaker on Monday to address an official communication to Karzai highlighting its constitutional prerogative to approve foreign policy issues.

The Afghan endgame is moving into a crucial phase; much will depend on regional politics. The worst-case scenario for the US is that subsuming the contradictions in the intra-regional relationships between and among Pakistan, Iran, India and China, these countries might have a convergent opinion on the issue of American military bases.

An accentuation of these contradictions, therefore, would serve the US’s geopolitical interests at the present juncture, hence the US’s “divide-and-rule” strategy.

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.

Uzbekistan Will Withdraw From CSTO When US Troops Deploy There

[Tajik expert predicts a lot of major changes in CIS countries, worst of all is deployment of US/NATO troops to Uzbekistan.  Not only is it predicted that Uzbeks will leave CSTO, but that a deal has been made to scuttle Tajikistan’s controversial Rogun Dam project, centerpiece of Uzbek/Tajik tensions.  At that time, Tajikistan will regret inviting US “border guard experts” into their midst, instead of allowing Russian forces to resume control of the border.  Tensions will very likely boil over between the two Central Asian antagonists at that time, since the Rogun project has been raising a hefty sum of cash for the government.  Obama must love to play with fire.]

Uzbekistan will initiate its withdrawal from CSTO itself

Nargis Hamroboyeva

DUSHANBE, October 27, 2011, Asia-Plus  — “A statement by Belarusian president about the necessity of withdrawing Uzbekistan from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) means nothing and it is not connected with his visit to Tajikistan,” Tajik political scientist Rustam Haidarov told an Asia-Plus in an interview Thursday afternoon.

“Most likely, this statement is connected with the upcoming deployment of the U.S. troops in Uzbekistan,” said Haidarov.  “Nothing will change in relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan if the latter quits the CSTO.  All unsolved problems will remain unsolved.”

According to him, official Tashkent will initiate Uzbekistan’s withdrawal from the Organization itself as soon as the United States deploys its troops in Uzbekistan.

“Uzbekistan is the only country in the region, upon which the United States may relay in terms of deployment of its troops.  I am sure that the issue of deployment of the U.S. troops in Uzbekistan has already been solved by political leaders of the neighboring country positively,” said Haidarov.  “This means that expert resolution by the World Bank, which is controlled by the United States, will block the completion of construction of the Roghun hydroelectric power plant (HPP) in Tajikistan.”

We will recall that during a meeting with parliament speakers from the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) member nations in Minsk ahead of his visit to Tajikistan, President Lukashenko offered to review the issue of further participation of Uzbekistan in the Organization.

Some media outlets quoted Lukashenko as saying that Uzbekistan is playing a triple game that does not allow it to be in the CSTO.  “I have sent my observations to the President of Russia.  We must make a decision on Uzbekistan,” Belarusian leader was cited as saying.

The regional security organization was initially formed in 1992 for a five-year period by the members of the CIS Collective Security Treaty (CST) — Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, which were joined by Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Belarus the following year.  A 1994 treaty “reaffirmed the desire of all participating states to abstain from the use or threat of force,” and prevented signatories from joining any “other military alliances or other groups of states” directed against members states.  The CST was then extended for another five-year term in April 1999, and was signed by the presidents of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan.  In October 2002, the group was renamed as the CSTO.  Uzbekistan became a full participant in the CSTO on June 23, 2006; and its membership was formally ratified by the Uzbek parliament on 28 March 2008.  The CSTO is currently an observer organization at the United Nations General Assembly.

Facebook Subversion Seminars Come To Armenia

[SEE:  Lukashenko Has A Plan–Belarus Keeps Social Networks, Prosecutes Those Who Promote Sedition  ;  A Glimpse Inside of Hillary’s Subversive “Intern Factory”]

Yerevan to host Facebook Workshop video seminar for media

Yerevan to host Facebook Workshop video seminar for media

October 27, 2011 – 12:09 AMT

PanARMENIAN.Net – On October 31, Yerevan will hostFacebook Workshop free video seminar on integration of mass media in social networks as well as Facebook-provided media possibilities.

The rapporteurs, Facebook Russia growth manager Yekaterina Skorobogatova and Facebook Russia and Eastern Europe development manager Angela Tse will brief the audience on transformed means of communication, modern use of media content as well as a number of alterations at Facebook platform and the way media partners may benefit from it.

The seminar will be held in Russian and English languages (simultaneous translation provided).

Video seminars with Yerevan, Moscow, St. Petersburg, (Russia) Kiev (Ukraine), Astana (Kazakhstan), Tbilisi (Georgia), Chisinau (Moldova) and Tomsk (Russia) have been scheduled.

The event is dedicated to the 70th anniversary of RIA Novosti news agency.

Russia, Namibia condemn ‘cold-blooded execution’ of Qaddafi

Obama said that Qaddafi had an opportunity during the Arab Spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy. “We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it,” Obama said.

[The President of the United States, on national network TV, as much as admitted that he had violated the American laws against political assassination, by giving Qaddafi an ultimatum–Surrender to our demands or die, along with your entire family.  The Black American Godfather of crime made Qaddafi an “offer he couldn’t refuse,” but Muammar refused it somehow, thereby justifying the hits on Qaddafi and his family, at least in the sick demented mind of Obama.  Obama’s logic is similar to that of previous tyrants–Murder of all those who oppose your dictates is justifiable.  What does it matter if tens, or hundreds of thousands of innocents die in the airborne terrorist attacks that he orders to kill the Qaddafis of this world?  We have long lost our reasons for waging this criminal war of aggression which we still mislabel the “global war on terrorism,” even though we have proven ourselves to be the greatest terrorists, by far.  We continue to honor our military and its “exploits,” which are all glossed-over overt acts of aggression, as defined globally.  There is no honor in sending Special Forces troops into people’s homes, to kill the sons and often the fathers in their beds, neither do we escape our guilt for hiring others to do the killing in the field for us.  We are a sick, demented lot, but we pride ourselves on our blind “patriotism.”  Real Patriots would never stand still in the face of the great national crimes being committed on a daily basis, all under the communal lie of “they started this war.”  God knows that the single act of mass-murder which got this bloody ball rolling was not just an act of a bunch of nutcases we like to call “al-Qaeda.”  Those guys had a lot of professional help, help that is only available within our own government and Establishment.  We are in this war without end, because that is just exactly where the corporate government wanted us to be–In a position globally to seize control over all those juicy resources.  The American military stands astride this world like an enormous octopus, ready to feed the tentacles of pipeline networks, many of them yet to be built.  The pipelines, just like the war, has been on the American corporate drawing board for far longer than we have been waging the war itself.

Obama likes to describe the impending takeover by “Islamists” in the Arab spring countries as a “transition into democracy.”  That is such an utter lie!  Rule by a violent “Islamic” minority is NOT democracy.  For those who are jumping to defend Obama, that the Islamic Brotherhood types who are taking control are not “violent,” you know that the first act of all of them will be to enforce their personal sick brand of “Shariah Law” over the mostly secular populations.  Judging by other countries’ previous experiences with these pseudo-Islamists who enforce Wahhabi/Deobandi Shariah, this can only be done through violence.  Look at Wana, S. Waziristan, there, inter-tribal warfare erupted as soon as the IMU terrorists and Taliban were driven out of Afghanistan.  Islamic Movement of Uzbekistani (IMU) terrorists launched waves of Shariah-enforcing attacks upon the locals.  The tribal warfare which erupted to expel them has not ended yet.  It has spread throughout the entire tribal region, powered by the same IMU thugs and their TTP counterparts, like good Muslim Hakeemullah Mehsud, or the misunderstood “miscreants” of Lashkar e-Jhangvi, who slaughter Shiites all over. 

Qaddafi was right to fight against this impending Western blackmail with every means at his disposal.  The people of Libya will rue the day that they ever gave an inch to the “al-Qaeda” terrorists and their “Islamist” political base.  If rule by extremist fundamentalist freaks is “democracy,” then it is something which every thinking person must fight against.]

Russia, Namibia condemn ‘cold-blooded execution’ of Qaddafi

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he was disgusted by the images of Muammar Qaddafi’s corpse. (Reuters)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he was disgusted by the images of Muammar Qaddafi’s corpse. (Reuters)

By AL ARABIYA WITH AGENCES
MOSCOW/ WINDHOEK

Amid rising international condemnation of the way former Libyan lead Muammar Qaddafi was killed, the Namibian government and the Russian Prime Minister have spoken out on Wednesday about his gruesome killing.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he was disgusted by television images of Muammar Qaddafi’s last minutes and his corpse after death.

“Almost all of Qaddafi’s family has been killed, his corpse was shown on all global television channels, it was impossible to watch without disgust,” Putin said. “The man was all covered in blood, still alive and he was being finished off.”

Putin however stopped short of making any political statements on the issue.

Meanwhile, Namibia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Peya Mushelenga told parliament that he condemned what he called the “cold-blooded extra-judicial execution” of Qaddafi.

“Namibia condemns this mindless and uncalled-for extra-judicial killing of Colonel Qaddafi,” Deputy Foreign Minister Peya Mushelenga told parliament.

“Last Thursday the world witnessed with horror the brutal and cold-blooded execution of Colonel Qaddafi at the hands of Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC), supported by NATO. This assassination is contrary to all relevant international humanitarian laws governing war prisoners.”

Despite African Union recognition of the NTC since September 20, Namibia does not recognize the council as Libya’s legitimate government.

It also supports the U.N. Human Rights Council’s call for an international commission of inquiry into Qaddafi’s death.

“The capture of Colonel Qaddafi presented a good opportunity for the allegations leveled against him to have been brought before a court of law,” Mushelenga said.

He also called for the formation of an “inclusive Libyan government” representing all sides of the conflict.

Qaddafi was buried in a secret desert location early Tuesday, five days after he was captured, killed and put on grisly public display. The former leader was seen on video being mocked, beaten and abused before he died.

“That’s not something that I think we should relish,” United States President Barack Obama told Jay Leno on NBC’s “Tonight Show,” when asked his feelings about the footage being televised. “I think that there’s a certain decorum with which you treat the dead even if it’s somebody who has done terrible things.”

He also said that Qaddafi had an opportunity during the Arab Spring to finally let loose of his grip on power and to peacefully transition into democracy. “We gave him ample opportunity, and he wouldn’t do it,” Obama said.

Lukashenko Has A Plan–Belarus Keeps Social Networks, Prosecutes Those Who Promote Sedition

Lukashenko: Belarus now capable of countering destabilization attempts on Internet

Lukashenko: Belarus now capable of countering destabilization attempts on InternetBelarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has urged partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to take into account the problems related to attempts to destabilize a civil society via the Internet.

Interfax-Ukraine

Minsk – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has urged partners in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) to take into account the problems related to attempts to destabilize a civil society via the Internet.

During the recent informal CSTO summit in Astana, “very serious attention was paid to what is going on in the media space, which today is being used in several directions as an attempt to destabilize the situation in any particular country,” Lukashenko said at a meeting with attendees of a session of the CSTO Parliamentary Assembly Council. “Look what is happening in the Arab world,” Lukashenko said.

“Unfortunately, the situation has not changed there,” he said. “The results of the Tunisian elections have been announced. Look who won there. The Islamists, the most radical part of them. And what will happen in Egypt, and what will happen in Libya?” Lukashenko asked.

“One should not think that all this is far from us and has nothing to do with us,” he said. “But nor should one think that we are trembling before these networks [social networking websites],” the president said.

“There have been attempts throughout this year to destabilize the social situation in our country through the social network,” he said. “We have learnt to fight against this evil. And there is no fear here, no bans, we are not shutting down the Internet or social networks. You are welcome to speak and discuss. But if these actions are unlawful, we will take necessary measures,” the Belarusian president said.

‘NATO destabilizing situation on Kosovo border’

‘NATO destabilizing situation on Kosovo border’

Vodpod videos no longer available.

‘NATO destabilizing situation on Kosovo border’…, posted with vodpod

With NATO and KFOR troops bulldozing a barricade built by ethnic Serbs in Kosovo on the border with Serbia, says political analyst Aleksandar Pavic, the military alliance has gone from a peacekeeping force to a party to the conflict.“NATO is now definitely acting as an occupying force,” argued the Belgrade-based political analyst. “They are not a peace factor at all, they are a total factor of war and destabilization.”NATO is inciting the government in Pristina to more violence, claimed Pavic. Meanwhile, the alliance, which deployed itself in between Serbia and Kosovo to separate the two conflicting parties, has stepped beyond its mandate granted by the United Nations Charter and Resolution 1244.“Everything was reasonably peaceful until [NATO] gave the green light for Albanian special police forces to forcedly take the administrative border back in July,” Pavic told RT. “Ever since then, they have been giving them full support.” Whatever discussion was brought up in the UN regarding the whole land dispute, the Western powers blocked any practical decision or action from being taken, added the analyst.“We don’t really have a mediator here anymore and that’s even more dangerous,” he concluded.

 

Spineless Pakistani Leaders Bend-Over Backwards To Facilitate American/Indian Domination

[America’s tyrants have absolutely NO RIGHT to demand that Pakistan continue to suffer energy deprivations, especially when the gas has already been piped up to Pakistan’s backdoor.  If Pakistanis don’t react to this in an “Arab spring” fashion, then they are doomed as a Nation.  Accepting Indian power as a substitute, or the TAP pipeline, which will never be built, means accepting eventual forced reunification with the Hindu state.  You people have no idea of the depth of depravity of “Mr. 10%” and friends, if you take this lying down.  Haven’t you suffered enough, providing the obscene “profits” (plunder) that these crooks have reaped so far?

May as well get used to the idea of becoming India’s bitch, since you seem so comfortable in the role.]  

Disquieting news


If there is any truth in a news agency report that Pakistan has decided to back out of the Iranian gas pipeline deal and, instead, import 500MW of electricity from India, it is clear that our rulers, much to the nation’s dismay, have no shame. It comes as a rude shock to know that the government has the gall to defy both the Parliament’s and the all parties’ conference declarations, which clearly enjoin upon it to chalk out a course of action that rejects the concerns of foreign influences interfering in the pursuit of Pakistan’s national interests.
The Iranian pipeline is ideal to help overcome the agonising shortfall of power in the country, in the shortest possible period of time. It holds crucial significance in the future progress and prosperity of Pakistan since it will enable us to resuscitate our moribund industry and take advantage of our trade deals with China, Turkey and iran. Jettisoning the project is literally suicidal and getting power from India amounts to pawning our future to an inveterate enemy, which can switch off supply when it most needed by us. The precendent is already set, with India raising dams and diverting water allocated to us under the Indus Waters Treaty. In times of floods and heavy rains, when we are finding it difficult to manage the swelling water, releasing more water to worsen our plight. The history of our relations goes against the logic of having such a deal with New Delhi, or granting it Most Favoured Nation status. Unless the Kashmir dispute is resolved with India, in accordance with the resolutions of the UN Security Council, all other ventures cannot be entered into in a positive spirit. Any attempt at normalising relations with it, without a change in the very real contentions between our two countries would be counterproductive to moving forward.
The alternative to the Iranian gas – the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan (TAP) gas pipeline project – being favoured by the Americans has to traverse a difficult terrain of 1,700km, mostly through war-torn, Taliban controlled Afghanistan which puts the project’s practicality in serious doubt. It would also be self-defeating to believe that the departure of foreign troops by 2014 would immediately bring peace and harmony to the country. Besides, TAP gas, because of the extra infrastructure it requires, would be far more expensive than the IP’s and less economically viable. The government has valid arguments to refuse US pressure in discontinuing the Iran gas pipeline project, it must make them heard.

Gaddafi family to file NATO war crimes complaint

Gaddafi family to file NATO war crimes complaint

* Libya’s interim ruler urges NATO to stay till year end

PARIS: Muammar Gaddafi’s family plans to file a war crimes complaint against NATO with the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the alliance’s alleged role in his death, the family’s lawyer said Wednesday.

The 69-year-old ex-strongman was captured and killed Thursday near the city of Sirte in circumstances that are still unclear, but it has been confirmed NATO aircraft fired on pro-Gaddafi vehicles driving in a convoy from the city.

Marcel Ceccaldi, a French lawyer who previously worked for Gaddafi’s regime and now represents his family, told AFP that a complaint would be filed with the Hague-based ICC because NATO’s attack on the convoy led directly to his death.

“The wilful killing (of someone protected by the Geneva Convention) is defined as a war crime by Article 8 of the ICC’s Rome Statute,” he said. He said he could not yet say when the complaint would be filed, but said it would target both NATO executive bodies and the leaders of alliance member states. “Gaddafi’s homicide shows that the goal of (NATO) member states was not to protect civilians but to overthrow the regime,” Ceccaldi said.

“Either the ICC intervenes as an independent and impartial jurisdiction or it doesn’t, in which case force will overrule the law,” he said. Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council has announced an investigation into Gaddafi’s death.

International disquiet has grown over how Gaddafi met his end after NTC fighters hauled him out of a culvert where he was hiding following NATO air strikes on the convoy in which he had been trying to flee his falling hometown.

Libya’s interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Wednesday urged NATO to continue its Libya campaign until year’s end, saying loyalists of slain despot Muammar Gaddafi still pose a threat to the country.

Abdel Jalil’s comments, made at a Doha conference of military allies of his National Transitional Council (NTC), came a day after Gaddafi’s body was buried in secret under cover of darkness after being displayed in public for four days.

“We hope (NATO) will continue its campaign until at least the end of this year to serve us and neighbouring countries,” Abdel Jalil, NTC chairman, told the Conference of Friends Committee. This request is aimed at “ensuring that no arms are infiltrated into those countries and to ensure the security of Libyans from some remnants of Gaddafi’s forces who have fled to nearby countries,” he added.

The NTC is also seeking help from NATO in “developing Libya’s defence and security systems,” Abdel Jalil told the conference.

In Brussels, diplomats said NATO had decided to delay a formal decision to end Libyan air operations until Friday after the NTC’s request for an extension and a Russian demand for UN consultations. agencies

Another Drone Murder of Nazir Forces, But Still, Nazir Not Seen

[More Nazir commanders are killed, but Nazir himself has not been seen since commando assault in August, 2009, after Baitullah’s elimination (SEE:  Did US Special Forces Kill Mullah Nazir?).]

Drone strike “kills five Taliban commanders” in South Waziristan

According to initial details, five missiles were fired on a vehicle carrying several passengers.– File Photo

PESHAWAR: A US drone strike on a vehicle on Thursday killed five commanders of one of Pakistan’s most influential Taliban leaders, Maulvi Nazir, one of the faction’s senior commanders told Reuters.

He identified four of the commanders as Hazrat Omar, Nazir’s younger brother, Khan Mohammad, Miraj Wazir and Ashfaq Wazir.

According to initial details, five missiles were fired on a vehicle carrying several passengers.

The vehicle was traveling from Tora Gola village to the nearby area of Azam Warsak when it was hit.

“Nazir’s younger brother Omar Wazir has been killed, it has been confirmed,” a Pakistani security official told AFP.

Another Pakistani intelligence official also confirmed his death.

Residents and security officials in the region described the 27-year-old as the operational head for the Nazir group, and a close aide of his brother.

He adopted a low profile, going to Afghanistan, assigning duties to the fighters and supervising logistic arrangements for their missions, they said.

“They are a very important group because while they are based in Pakistan they are very active in Afghanistan,” said Mansur Khan Mehsud of the Fata Research Centre think tank.

“If you look at drone strikes, they are one of the most heavily targeted groups.”

China (and India) Reaping the Loot from Our Decimation of Afghanistan, Just Like Iraq

India, China in line for Afghan mine, oil contracts

Afghan men work in a brick factory on the outskirts of Kabul, October 25, 2011. — Photo by AP

LA HULPE, Belgium: Indian and Chinese bidders are front-runners for deals to mine Afghanistan’s vast iron ore and oil deposits, the country’s mining minister said on Wednesday, worrying Western firms who have hesitated to invest in the war-torn region.

Afghanistan is estimated to harbour up to three trillion dollars in mineral wealth from gold, copper, iron ore and precious stones to oil, gas and rare earth minerals.

Such riches have attracted risk-friendly investors despite security concerns as Western governments prepare military pull-outs, in particular from India and China where demand for energy and industrial inputs is booming.

Two Indian bidders have emerged as “the most potential companies” among a short list of six to win a contract for the vast Hajigak iron ore project in early November, Afghan Minister of Mines Wahidullah Shahrani told Reuters on the sidelines of a mining conference in Belgium.

One of the bidders is an independent company and one a consortium that includes India’s powerful Mittal family, he said.

An oil and gas contract in northern Afghanistan’s Amu Darya field will most likely go to a Chinese bidder in early December, Shahrani said.

“Those companies that get into Afghanistan early will have good opportunities,” the minister added.

EU firms cannot compete

Asian investors are threatening to dash long-term hopes of Western firms holding out for greater safety and business transparency before putting funds into a country with vast raw materials reserves. The investments are also provoking criticism that India and Chinese governments give guarantees to their private firms, unfairly aiding their bids.

“At the front these bids are private but behind them is government funding,” Ramon Mushrief, Interim President at the newly opened European Union Chamber of Commerce in Afghanistan, told Reuters.

“These companies can afford to take risks that European companies cannot. And there is nothing we can do,” he added.

No Indian or Chinese investors were present at the conference to comment.

Transparency

Afghanistan has promised legal and fiscal reforms to attract foreign investment that will help develop industry and eventually wean the country off foreign development aid.

The World Bank, investment funds and European and US executives on Wednesday called on Kabul to implement governance and fiscal reforms. They warned that lax laws could foster corruption and stop the benefits of mineral wealth reaching a population in need of steady jobs and income.

International resource activist group Global Witness reserved particular criticism for Afghanistan’s practice of publishing details of mining contracts only once they have been finalised.

“The extractive sector requires the early and full assessment of its impact…contracts made public before they are signed,” said Global Witness Director Patrick Alley.

Afghanistan will publish in mid-2012 details of a copper mining contract that has gone to a Chinese consortium — but only once subsidiary agreements have been completed, Shahrani said.

EU-Afghanistan agreement in sight

In the absence of immediate large investments, the EU wants to sign a treaty with Afghanistan to formalise diplomatic, human rights, trade and investment relations and lower the risk of a security vacuum as international troops withdraw from the country.

EU Special Representative for Afghanistan Vygaudas Usackas, also attending the conference, told Reuters the EU will start talks for such a treaty before an international conference on Afghanistan’s future taking place in Bonn, Germany, on December 5.

Facts About the 1933 Famine-Genocide in Soviet Occupied Ukraine

Facts About the 1933 Famine-Genocide in Soviet Occupied Ukraine


1. Censuses

In late 1932 – precisely when the genocidal famine struck – the Central Statistical Bureau in Moscow ceased to publish demographic data. 

The 1937 census was given top priority. The census director I. Kravel was awarded the Order of Lenin for his meticulous work. After the results of the 1937 census were submitted to the Government, the census was declared “subversive”, its materials destroyed and the top census officials were shot for not finding enough people. 

2. Harvest and Climatic Conditions

The “natural disaster” excuse to cover up the 1933 Famine-Genocide does not hold water. It was not caused by some natural calamity or crop failure: 

  1. The 1931 harvest was 18.3 million tons of grain.
  2. The 1932 harvest was 14.6 million tons of grain.
  3. The 1933 harvest was 22.3 million tons of grain.
  4. The 1934 harvest was 12.3 million tons of grain.

In 1934 during the poorest harvest – a mere 12.3 – there was no massive famine because Stalin reduced the grain requisition quotas and even released grain from existing “state stockpiles” to feed the population. 

The highest death rates were in the grain growing provinces of Poltava, Dnipropetrovsk, Kirovohrad and Odessa: usually 20-25%, although higher in many villages. 

3. Laws and Decrees

  • The 7 August 1932 law drafted by Joseph Stalin on the protection of the socialist property stipulated the death penalty for “theft of socialist property”. Ukrainian villagers were executed by firing squads for theft of a sack of wheat and in some cases even for two sheaves of corn or a husk of grain.
  • The 6 December 1932 decree stipulated a complete blockade of villages for allegedly sabotaging the grain procurement campaign – de facto sentencing their Ukrainian inhabitants to execution by starvation.
  • An unpublished decree signed by Molotov encouraged Russian peasants to settle into the empty or half-empty villages of “the free lands of Ukraine” [and North Caucasus also inhabited by Ukrainians and likewise devastated by the famine].

4. Means of Implementing Forced Collectivization and Draconian Grain Requisition Quotas

  • The All-Union Peoples Commissariat of Agriculture in Moscow initially mobilized some of its most reliable ‘25-thousanders’ -Party members, majority of them Russians – and sent them to Ukraine to organize collective farms.
  • Further ‘thousanders,’ the army, the secret police [GPU], the militia and armed brigades were sent into Ukrainian villages to force the farmers into collective farms and to supervise the Draconian grain expropriation and eventually the entire output of butter, corn, sugar beet, etc.
  • Local granaries in Ukraine held large stockpiles of ‘state reserves’ for emergencies, such as war, but the raging famine did not qualify as an emergency.

5. Geography of the Famine

  • The 1933 Famine-Genocide was geographically focused for political ends. It stopped precisely at the Ukrainian-Russian ethnographic border.
  • The borders of Ukraine were strictly patrolled by the military to prevent starving Ukrainians from crossing into Russia in search of bread.
  • For example: The Kharkiv Province on the Ukrainian side was devastated while the contiguous Belgorod Province on the Russian side with similar climatic conditions and demographic profiles showed no evidence of starvation or any unusual mortality.
  • Armed GPU officers were also stationed to prevent starving Ukrainians from entering the zone near the Polish and Romanian borders. Those who tried to cross the Dnister River into Romania were shot.

6. Exports

The Soviet regime dumped 1.7 million tons of grain on the Western markets at the height of the Famine. It exported nearly a quarter of a ton of grain for every Ukrainian who starved to death. 

7. Victims and Losses

  • At the height of the Famine Ukrainian villagers were dying at the rate of 25,000 per day or 1,000 per hour or 17 per minute.
  • By comparison the Allied soldiers died at the rate of 6,000 per day during the Battle of Verdun.
  • Among the children one in three perished as a consequence of collectivization and the famine.
  • According to dissident Soviet demographer M. Maksudov “no fewer than three million children born between 1932-1933 died of hunger.”
  • 80% of Ukrainian intellectuals were liquidated because they refused to collaborate in the extermination of their countrymen.
  • Out of about 240 Ukrainian authors 200 were liquidated or disappeared. Out of about 84 linguists 62 perished.
  • The Ukrainian population may have been reduced by as much as 25%. 

8. Western Press Coverage

  • Foreign correspondents were “advised” by the press department of the Soviet Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to remain in Moscow and were de facto barred from visiting Ukraine.
  • Not a single Western newspaper or press agency protested publicly against the unprecedented confining of its correspondents in Moscow or bothered to investigate the reason for this extraordinary measure.
  • The majority of reporters feared losing their journalistic privileges and toed the line.
  • The only correspondents permitted into Ukraine were the likes of Walter Duranty of the New York Times who reported that there was no famine except for some “partial crop failures.”
  • Star reporter Walter Duranty of the New York Times set the tone for most of the Western press coverage with authoritative denials of starvation and referred to the Famine as the “alleged ‘man-made’ famine of 1933.”
  • However, according to British Diplomatic Reports, Duranty off the record, conceded that “as many as 10 million” may have perished.
  • For his reporting Walter Duranty received the Pulitzer Prize for journalism. To this date the New York Times refuses to revoke the prize and still lists Duranty among its Pulitzer winners.

A number of intrepid reporters, such as William Henry Chamberlin, Harry Lang, Malcolm Muggeridge and Thomas Walker ignored the ban and reported on the Famine, substantiating their reports with photographs.

9. Collusion by Western Governments

Available archival evidence (such as reports sent in diplomatic pouches as well as coverage on the press by a few honest and courageous reporters who managed to penetrate into starving Ukraine) indicates that several Western governments (especially Great Britain, Canada and the United States) were well informed about the Famine-Genocide in Ukraine but chose to adopt a policy on non-interference in the internal affairs of a foreign sovereign state. Ironically, the United States recognized the Soviet Union in November, 1933. 

Offers to aid the starving by numerous charitable organizations such as the International Red Cross, Save the Children Fund, the Vienna-based Interconfessional Relief Council and Ukrainian organizations in the West and Western Ukraine (occupied by Poland) were discouraged or blocked by their Governments. 

10. Findings and Conclusions

The U.S. Congress 1988 Commission on the Ukraine famine in its “Investigation of the Ukraine Famine of 1932-1933” concluded that: JOSEPH STALIN AND THOSE AROUND HIM COMMITTED GENOCIDE AGAINST UKRAINIANS IN 1932-1933. 

Sources consulted:

Conquest Robert The Harvest of Sorrow. Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine. Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 1986. 
Dolot, Miron Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust. New York: W. W. Norton, 1985. 
Famine in Ukraine 1932-1933 Edited by Roman Serbyn and Bohdan Kravchenko. Edmonton: Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies, 1986.

 

FACTS…………………………………………
1
2
3
4
5
Definitions:
6
7
8

OFFICIAL RECOGNITION………………….

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9

MEMOIRS…………………………………….

1
a I Affirm Mykola Meleshko
The Secrets of the Famine Vasyl Zaiika
The Scar Ihor Vytvyts’kyi
2
3
4
5
6
7

TESTIMONIES……………………………….

1
2

EDUCATION………………………………….

1
2
3
4
5
6
Holodomor Lessons and Lesson Plans – V. Kuryliw 

ARTICLES…………………………………….

1
2
3
a Chicago-American:  Part One
b Chicago-American:  Part Two
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
The Ukrainian Holodomor – Was it a Genocide? 
17
A New View of a Famine That Killed Millions 

BIBLIOGRAPHY……………………………..

1
c Annotated Bibliography (Shevchenko Scientific Society, Inc.)
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
LINKS

Whitewashing Stalin’s Genocidal Crimes

[As hard as it may seem for some unread folks to believe, but there are many bloody examples where Stalin almost made Hitler look like a “Boy Scout” (SEE:  Facts About the 1933 Famine-Genocide in Soviet Occupied Ukraine).  The hard truth may be that Hitler learned a few brutal lessons from Stalin’s murderous exploits in Eastern Europe and in Russia itself, just as he copied America’s genocidal policies which were shaped to wipe-out our own native tribal population.  The hardest truth that we all must one day learn is that no society or civilization advances materially, except on the back others.  Someone must die or do without, in order for others to live like kings.   There are no natural surpluses in nature.  For a society to “profit,” someone (the underclasses) will have to pay, or do without.  To create profit is to create an unnatural surplus over “here,” by diverting goods which were originally going over “there.”  The Third Reich advanced on the backs of its minorities and underclass, just like Stalin’s Soviet Union.  Russians and other former Soviets might find themselves looking back on the Soviet Union with rose-colored glasses in today’s tough economic times, but it was only twenty years ago that all of them were breathing deep sighs of relief after unloading the weight of the Soviet Union off their backs.  Putin was dead wrong about the demise of the Soviet Union being a tragedy–It was a great blessing to all mankind, but our leaders turned it into a nightmare, treating it as an opportunity to punish the survivors.

Fuck Stalin… I hope that he is rotting in hell.]

Russian activists decry failure to denounce Stalin

FILE -- In this Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 file photo, Russian Communists hold a portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, as they queue to lay flowers at the grave of Stalin to mark the 131th anniversary of his birth, in Red Square in Moscow. Human rights activists and historians are criticizing Russia's state-controlled media, accusing it of whitewashing Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's image. Boris Yeltsin Center Director Alexander Drozdov said Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, state-run television stations have turned Stalin's name into a brand.
FILE — In this Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010 file photo, Russian Communists hold a portrait of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, as they queue to lay flowers at the grave of Stalin to mark the 131th anniversary of his birth, in Red Square in Moscow. Human rights activists and historians are criticizing Russia’s state-controlled media, accusing it of whitewashing Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s image. Boris Yeltsin Center Director Alexander Drozdov said Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011, state-run television stations have turned Stalin’s name into a brand. (AP Photo/Misha Japaridze, file)
By Nataliya VasilyevaAssociated Press / October 26, 2011

MOSCOW—Russian state-controlled media must stop whitewashing Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s image, and the government should take a stand on his crimes, human rights activists and historians said Wednesday.

Nearly 60 years after his death, Stalin remains a divisive figure in Russian society, with some crediting him with leading the nation to victory in World War II and turning it into a superpower, and others condemning him for purges that killed millions of people.

Russia’s state-run TV stations have recently turned Stalin’s name into a favorable brand, thanks to “very talentedly executed propaganda,” Alexander Drozdov, director of the Boris Yeltsin Center, said at a news conference.

Nationwide, television stations have aired many movies and programs casting Stalin in a positive light.

He was voted as Russia’s third-greatest historical figure in a prime-time show in 2008, garnering more than 519,000 votes. Recent polls have shown that from one-third to one-half of Russians have a decidedly or at least a mildly positive view of Stalin.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who served as president in 2000-2008 and is all but certain to reclaim the top job in March’s election, has avoided open public praise or criticism of Stalin. But his opponents have accused the government of burnishing Stalin’s image as part of its efforts to justify its own retreat from democracy.

Stalin critics have been outraged by a high school textbook that describes the dictator as “an efficient manager” and by a restored Moscow subway station that includes old Soviet national anthem lyrics praising the dictator in its interior decoration.

Stalin led the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death in 1953. During that time, millions of people died in political purges and in prison camps. Countless others were deported or exiled to remote areas.

Vladimir Lukin, Russia’s human rights ombudsman, decried any attempt to give Stalin credit for the economic growth of the 1930s.

“Thanks to heroic efforts and a total disregard for humanity, our country managed to evolve from a backward agrarian country into a backward industrial one during the Stalin era,” Lukin said.

Arseny Roginsky, head of the Memorial rights group, said the least the Russian government can do now is “give a legal appraisal to the crimes of the Soviet regime.” Roginsky’s group has offered a comprehensive package to help raise public awareness of Stalin’s crimes, including suggestions for school curriculums.

Andrei Sorokin, director of the Russian State Archives of Social and Political History, warned that Russia will have no future if it fails to assess its difficult past.

“Russian society has been living in a crisis of public consciousness for the past 25 years,” he said.

“Any forward movement or attempts to modernize Russia will fail if we don’t work out a consensus on our attitudes toward the Soviet past.”

 

Taliban Official Spokesman Marks Next Loya Jirga Participants With Death

Afghan Taliban says will target national assembly

KABUL

(Reuters) – The Afghan Taliban will hunt down and punish anyone who takes part in next month’s national assembly, where the possibility of long-term U.S. military bases in Afghanistan will be discussed, the group warned in a statement on Wednesday.

The unusually specific threat, in an English-language message from spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid, said participants will be pursued “all over the country and will face severe repercussions.”

It called on Taliban supporters “to target every security guard, person with intention, participant and every caller of this convention.”

The four-day gathering, known in Afghanistan as a ‘Loya Jirga’, will be held in the capital Kabul in late November, where it will bring together more than 2,000 politicians, tribal elders, community leaders, businessmen and civil society representatives from across the country.

The assembly will be a consultative process, and its decisions are not legally binding on the government.

Earlier this month, Taliban vowed to fight until all foreign forces have left Afghanistan.

President Hamid Karzai and his Western backers have agreed that all foreign combat troops would return home by the end of 2014, but the West has promised continued support beyond then in the form of funds and training for Afghan security forces.

Despite the presence of tens of thousands of Western soldiers in Afghanistan, the United Nations and other groups say violence is at its worst since U.S.-led Afghan forces toppled the Taliban from power in late 2001.

NATO-led forces say they have seen a decline over recent months in attacks launched by insurgents against their troops.

Safia Sediqi, a spokeswoman for the grand assembly, said she was unaware of the threat.

“I have not read the statement yet and it’s early to comment about it,” she said.

(Reporting by Mirwais Harooni; Editing by Daniel Magnowski and Yoko Nishikawa)

Taliban boasts it is being trained by Pakistan

By Duncan Gardham, The Daily Telegraph
Pakistani security officials inspect the site of a bomb blast in the district of Lower Dir on October 25, 2011. A roadside bomb targeted an anti-Taliban militia member in northwest Pakistan, ripping through his vehicle and killing four people, police said. The blast badly damaged the militiaman's car in a remote village in the district of Lower Dir, where Pakistan launched a major operation designed to dislodge a Taliban insurgency in 2009. AFP PHOTO / IHSAN ULLAH (Photo credit should read IHSAN ULLAH/AFP/Getty Images)

Pakistani security officials inspect the site of a bomb blast in the district of Lower Dir on October 25, 2011. A roadside bomb targeted an anti-Taliban militia member in northwest Pakistan, ripping through his vehicle and killing four people, police said. The blast badly damaged the militiaman’s car in a remote village in the district of Lower Dir, where Pakistan launched a major operation designed to dislodge a Taliban insurgency in 2009. AFP PHOTO / IHSAN ULLAH (Photo credit should read IHSAN ULLAH/AFP/Getty Images)

Photograph by: IHSAN ULLAH, AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan is still running training camps to support and arm the Taliban across the border in Afghanistan despite official denials, insurgents have claimed.

Middle-ranking Taliban commanders have boasted that they have received “practical guidance” and training in bomb-making by officers from Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).

One commander, Mullah Azizullah, told a BBC documentary: “They are all the ISI’s men. They are the ones who run the training. First they train us about bombs, then they give us practical guidance. Their generals are everywhere. They are present during the training.”

In an interview at a safe house in Kabul in June, he added: “The Taliban movement was created with the help of the ISI. It is like when a tree grows – one has to plant it and water it.”

The claims come amid heightened tensions between Pakistan and the US following an attack by insurgents on the American embassy in Kabul last month, by a group that Adml Mike Mullen, the then chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, claimed was directed by the ISI.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, visited Pakistan last week and urged the head of the ISI and the military to take action against militants operating on their soil, including the group behind the embassy attack, the Haqqani network.

Suspicions remain that Pakistan sees Afghanistan as a “strategic buffer” and is continuing to support insurgents so that it is ready for the withdrawal of British and US troops in three years’ time. Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani president, told The Daily Telegraph last month that Pakistan had to “really think what will be the environment and fend for itself against all the exterior pressures, all the exterior manoeuvrings and political manoeuvrings against Pakistan”.

A middle-ranking commander called Mullah Qaseem told the makers of Secret Pakistan, to be shown on BBC Two tonight: “For a fighter there are two important things – supplies and a place to hide. Pakistan plays a significant role. First they support us by providing a place to hide which is really important. Secondly they provide us with weapons.”

Lt Col Tony Shaffer, who served with US Defence Intelligence between 1995 and 2006, said the ISI tipped of Ayman al-Zawahiri, the leader of al-Qaeda, during a bloody battle with Pakistani troops in Wana in 2004, allowing him to escape.

Col Richard Kemp, who worked at the Cabinet Office as head of intelligence on international terrorism between 2001 and 2006, said the ISI bore some responsibility for not preventing the July 7 attacks.

“The ISI of course must take responsibility for the fact that some of these camps were still up and running, including perhaps the camp that was responsible for training the 7/7 attackers,” Col Kemp said.

Pakistan continues to deny the reports with Gen Athar Abbas, director-general of Inter Services Public Relations, the military organisation within the country’s defence forces, telling the BBC: “To say that these militant groups were being supported by the state with the organised camps in these areas.  Oh, I think nothing could be further from the truth.”

© Copyright (c) The Daily Telegraph

The Bi-Partisan Push-Me/Pull-You Strategy In Georgia

[SEE:  EU Pushes Georgia to Let Russia Join WTO]

Boehner Says Russia’s Trade Status Depends on Georgia Border

Bloomberg

By James Rowley

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) — House Speaker John Boehner is threatening to block legislation to normalize U.S. trade with Russia, as part of its World Trade Organization admission, until it respects the “territorial integrity” of neighboring Georgia.

As he urged President Barack Obama to stop “downplaying Russia’s disregard” for democracy and human rights, Boehner said he found “alarming” reports that the U.S. won’t pressure Russia to return to recognizing borders that existed before its 2008 war with Georgia. Russian troops occupy land inside Georgia in violation of an August 2008 cease-fire agreement.

“The administration should resolve this stalemate in a manner that respects the territorial integrity of Georgia,” Boehner said in a speech yesterday to the Heritage Foundation in Washington. “Then — and only then — will movement on the WTO question be worth considering.”

Russia’s admission to the WTO will require Congress to approve “permanent, normal trade relations,” the Ohio Republican said. Besides Georgia, there are “significant, outstanding commercial issues which must be addressed” before Congress acts to normalize trade relations, Boehner said.

The U.S. has helped Russia seek admission to the WTO. Russia has won support from the European Union. It hasn’t reached agreement with Georgia over bilateral issues, including the Black Sea nation’s demands for control of customs checkpoints in two breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

‘Impossible’ Demands

In Moscow, a senior Russian official called “impossible” Georgia’s demands that Russia drop diplomatic recognition of the two breakaway territories as a condition for membership in WTO, according to DPA, which cited an Interfax news agency dispatch. As a member of the 153-nation WTO, Georgia must agree to Russia’s admission.

Arkady Dvorkovich, an assistant to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, was quoted by DPA as saying “we will never accept” Georgia’s demands.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement yesterday that “the Obama administration remains unwavering in its commitment to Georgia’s territorial integrity” and has “made clear, both in private channels and in public statements, that the United States will not support Russia’s WTO accession until Russia and Georgia reach agreement on their outstanding trade-related issues.”

Democratic Response

Representative Howard Berman of California, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, questioned Boehner’s tactic.

If Congress doesn’t act to normalize U.S. trade relations with Russia, “it is our companies that get hurt” because they wouldn’t “have access to Russian markets,” Berman said.

Even without action by Congress, he said, “Russia has all the benefits of WTO” even if Congress doesn’t approve normalizing its trade with the U.S.

He also disputed Boehner’s assertion that the Obama administration was “leaning on Georgia to acquiesce” on border issues. “We’ve said Russia has to settle this dispute with Georgia and it cannot count on us to deliver Georgia,” Berman said.

As the U.S. tries to “reset” its relationship with Russia, the Obama administration shouldn’t shy away from pointing out Russia’s violations of democratic and human rights, Boehner said.

More ‘Teeth’

The House stands ready to give “teeth” to a more forceful U.S. assertion of a human rights agenda with Russia, he said.

“Instead of downplaying Russia’s disregard for democratic values and human rights, we should call them on it — publicly, forcefully, frequently,” Boehner said.

Berman said, “Human rights cannot, and I don’t believe it has, dropped off our agenda.”

Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, returned earlier this month from a trip to Russia to press authorities to improve their record and meet with civic groups that have come under pressure from the government.

Russia’s willingness to impose sanctions against Iran following the alleged plot to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the U.S. will be a test of its respect for international law, Boehner said. Obama said on Oct. 13 that the accused plotters had “direct links” to Iran’s government.

The U.S. “should do more to compel the Kremlin to curtail its relationship with Iran, particularly related to its nuclear program and missile technology,” Boehner said.

More Sanctions

Lawmakers and former officials have called for tighter sanctions against Iran, saying existing strictures haven’t been effective at barring its pursuit of a nuclear program.

The Obama administration began a diplomatic push to have other countries condemn Iran. So far, it hasn’t pursued sanctions or action at the United Nations because of resistance from Russia and China.

“We do believe we’ve had progress together in tightening sanctions on Iran and this continues to be a subject in our ongoing dialogue” with Russia, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said at the agency’s daily press briefing yesterday.

Russia has vowed to block any resolution that could be used to justify or hasten regime change after a UN resolution in March authorized NATO-led military action in Libya. Russia abstained on that vote.

In 2009, Russia blocked U.S. attempts to enforce new sanctions against Iran after evidence suggested it might have enough enriched uranium to make a bomb.

–With assistance from Nicole Gaouette and Viola Gienger in Washington. Editors: Don Frederick, Jim Rubin.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Rowley in Washington at jarowley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mark Silva at msilva34@bloomberg.net

Hillary Pulling Zardari Puppet Strings

[Hillary has no problem getting the answers she wants from Zardari, but Kayani dances to a different tune.  Whatever may come out of this “tri-logue,” it is the Pak Army which will have to enforce any “truce” reached by the talking heads.  We are watching a very elaborate road show being staged to seduce the leaders of AfPak and Central Asia into making it possible for Western corporations to bring the “Silk Road” Pipeline scheme into existence.  The big obstacle is in convincing the other players that the survival of the American Empire is not in question…that the American Empire’s treasury will have something in it for them after 2014.]

Accord with US on Taliban ‘tri-logue’

[Hillary shares her “dead Qaddafi” joke with Zardari]

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, third from left, meets with Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zidari, right, alongside US special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, left, and US Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter, second from left, in Islamabad on Oct. 21, 2011. – AP Photo

WASHINGTON: The United States and Pakistan agree on a framework for holding direct talks with the militants and are now working to operationalise the plan, says the US State Department.

At a briefing for the press corps that accompanied Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Islamabad last week, two State Department officials explained what the secretary meant when she said in her recent interviews that the US and Pakistan had agreement on 90-95 per cent of issues they confronted.

They said the US, Pakistan and Afghanistan had already an understanding on holding a “tri-logue” with the Taliban militants.

They also agree that this has to be Afghan-led and has to be at the pace and scope that the Afghans decide on.

“That Pakistan has to play its part in this; it has to encourage reconciliation. And that as efforts are made at reconciliation, if the US can play a helpful role, that we would be available to do that,” said one official.

After agreeing on this framework, the US and Pakistan were now working on the need to operationalise it. “What does it mean? And particularly in the context of the awful, horrific experience that the Afghans had with the death of President Rabbani … we’re all working off the script that is going to protect against that kind of thing happening again,” the official said.

Operational details like where to hold the dialogue, who to talk to and in what form and formats and for how long were now being worked out, the official added.

“We needed to start with ensuring we were all on the same page in terms of the framework.” The two officials explained that in their meetings with the US delegation, which included the CIA and military chiefs, Pakistani leaders kept referring to the resolution passed by the all-parties conference on the proposed talks with the militants.

“What does the all-parties conference mean to them? It means that every party in Pakistan got together and agreed that reconciliation, if it can be done right and if it is Afghan-led and if it meets the red lines, is in Pakistan’s interests,” said the State Department official.

“And so as they seek to work with Afghanistan and with us on this, what we heard in general, was that they need to keep the Pakistani body politic together on this agenda. And they think that they have a framework for doing that with this agreement of the all-parties council,” the official added.

The two officials disagreed with a suggestion that the Pakistanis were refusing to take military action against the militants because they had failed to produce results.

“The conversation that we had was very much on the lines that we have to squeeze them,” said one State Department official.
“But we also have to have a track for talking for those who are willing to come in off the battlefield within the parameters that the Afghans have set.

“So I don’t think there’s any disagreement between us, that we have to fight and squeeze even as we talk.”

Another senior State Department official said that Pakistan also recognised that there were militant safe havens inside its territory and the two sides needed to work together to deal with them.

In an interview to The Washington Post, Gen. Scaparrotti noted that until last year he enjoyed excellent cooperation with the Pakistani military and toured the battlefield with his counterparts from Pakistan along both sides of the porous border.

After the US raid on the Bin Laden compound in Abbottabad, “this relationship is not what it was, say, a year ago,” he said. “My intent is to start rebuilding this on a mil-to-mil basis, at least.”

A week before Secretary Clinton’s visit to Islamabad, Gen. Scaparrotti met top Pakistani military officials and pressed for re-establishing “routine daily communication” and discussions of how to deal with insurgents.

“If we work together, we can have a joint effect on [the insurgents], and we need to do so,” he said.

Meanwhile, former State Department official Vali Nasr, who was a senior adviser to the late US special representative for Pakistan and Afghanistan, Richard Holbrook, noted that the Obama administration clearly wanted to re-engage Pakistan.

“Every one of our assumptions about our timetable of getting out of Afghanistan, our success on the ground with military operation has been predicated on the kind of at least minimal cooperation we have had with Pakistan over the past two years,” he told the US National Public Radio.

“If that cooperation ceases to exist and our relations get any worse than they are currently, it’s very difficult to see how the United States can meet its deadlines in order to be able to withdraw from Afghanistan.”

Backing down: US no longer urging full-scale Waziristan blitz

Backing down: US no longer urging full-scale Waziristan blitz

Senior diplomat says Islamabad agreed to tackle Haqqanis. PHOTO: APP/FILE

ISLAMABAD: During US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Islamabad, Pakistan made a commitment to Washington that it would tackle the Haqqani network, a senior American diplomat told The Express Tribune.

However, what is significant is that the US is no longer pushing Pakistan to initiate a full-scale military offensive in North Waziristan which is allegedly being used by the Haqqani network as a launching pad to target US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

“We are not asking Pakistan to invade North Waziristan. What we want is for this Haqqani threat to be eliminated, either through the use of force, or by other means,” the diplomat disclosed, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

If Pakistan were able to convince the Haqqanis to come to the negotiating table, that would be a “very positive start”, he said. He did not, however, say exactly what commitment Pakistan had made with the US regarding the Haqqanis. “We leave it to Pakistan,” he added.

Despite Islamabad’s commitment, he cautioned that a lot of work is yet to be done in order to judge whether or not Clinton’s recent trip was successful.

“I won’t say the worst is over, but what I do believe, is that the best is yet to come,” he said.

For years, Pakistan has been resisting US pressure to go after the Haqqanis in North Waziristan. Its reluctance is attributed to the military establishment’s decade-old contacts with the network and the belief that the group has a critical role in the Afghan endgame.

But in recent months, the Haqqani network has become a major thorn in the relationship between Pakistan and the US.

The US stepped up pressure on Islamabad to dismantle “terrorist sanctuaries” from North Waziristan.

But during Clinton’s visit, the two sides covered significant ground to narrow down their differences, not only on the Haqqani network, but also on the Afghan reconciliation process.

Regarding Pakistan’s role in the Afghan reconciliation process, he said Pakistan needs to be honest about its links with the Afghan Taliban.

“We want a commitment from Pakistan to play a constructive role in the Afghan reconciliation process,” said the official when asked what specific role the US wants Pakistan to play. His remarks underline concerns in US ranks that Pakistan is yet to be forthcoming on the Afghan endgame.

“We simply want Pakistan to be honest with us about whether or not they can bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table,” he pointed out.

Pakistan, during the discussion, did agree to facilitate the US to help it reach out to the Afghan Taliban but insisted it would not become a guarantor of the process.

When approached, Foreign Office spokesperson Tehmina Janjua refused to confirm reports about Islamabad’s commitment with Washington in terms of the Haqqani network.

“I can only say that Secretary Clinton’s visit was very constructive. Both sides put across their point of view on key issues in an open and candid fashion,” she added.

Published in The Express Tribune