Afghan heroin a threat to Russia’s security.

“Afghan heroin a threat to Russia’s security. “

Russia has five mn drug users: Official

Russia has five mn drug users: Official

Moscow: Russia has about five million drug users, said the country’s drug controls chief. 

“We have about five million drug users,” Viktor Ivanov, head of Russia’s federal drug control service, said at a government meeting Tuesday.

“Not all of them have become real addicts,” he, however, added.

There have also been hundreds of thousands of HIV and hepatitis infections as a result of rampant drug abuse in the country.

Ivanov said while about 100,000 people are prosecuted for drug dealing every year, there remained a permanent “social order” for drugs in Russia.

Russia has been one of the countries hardest hit by heroin production in Central Asia, and President Dmitry Medvedev has called Afghan heroin a threat to Russia’s security. 

IANS

CSTO talks tough on NATO

CSTO talks tough on NATO

AFP Photo / RIA-Novosti / Kremlin Pool / Dmitry Astakhov

AFP Photo / RIA-Novosti / Kremlin Pool / Dmitry Astakhov

The member states of the Collective Security Treaty Organization released a strong message warning that European missile defense and unilateral military action may work to destabilize international security and strategic stability around the world.

The harsh statement was released by President Dmitry Medvedev and his counterparts from Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan in Moscow on Tuesday.

The leaders made specific mention of the missile defense system that the United States is currently constructing in Eastern Europe, just miles from the Russian border.

“The unilateral deployment of strategic missile defense systems by one state or a group of states without due account for the lawful interests of other countries and without extending legally-binding guarantees to the latter may damage international security and strategic stability in Europe and the world as a whole,” the statement by the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) read.

Moscow has repeatedly warned the US and NATO that the missile defense system, without Russia’s participation in the expansive project that promises to expand technologically and spatially by 2018, will be viewed as a direct security threat.

CSTO, a security alliance that was signed into force in May 1992, made a thinly veiled comment regarding NATO’s military operation in Libya when it mentioned the “increasing tendency for military intervention” in countries that are experiencing domestic crises.

“Since the [collective security] Agreement was signed, international relations have been increasingly characterized by a rise in tensions. Serious concern is being caused by the…tendency for military intervention in critical situations,” the CSTO said on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Collective Security Agreement and the tenth anniversary of the CSTO.

The leaders agreed that internal problems inside of sovereign states are giving particular countries a green light to break international law and exert military pressure.

“We are alarmed by the attempts to bypass the commonly recognized principles of international law by taking advantage of the temporary difficulties of certain countries and peoples,” the document said.

The security alliance then gave special attention to Afghanistan, where NATO has been engaged in a bruising battle against Taliban forces for the past decade.

Of particular concern is “the deteriorating situation in the Afghanistan, which borders with the Organization’s responsibility zone,” it said. “We believe that achieving peace and stability in Afghanistan is one of the main factors of ensuring regional and international security. We are calling for building Afghanistan as a peaceful, prosperous, independent and neutral state.”

Finally, the leaders of the CSTO agreed that the deployment of foreign bases in their territory is only possible with the consent of all CSTO partners.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said “an accord has been reached to coordinate the deployment, in the territory of the CSTO states, of military infrastructure facilities belonging to non-CSTO states.”

“In order to deploy military bases of a third country in the territory of the CSTO member-states, it is necessary to obtain the official consent of all its members,” said Nazarbayev, who took over the rotating presidency of the Organization from Belarus.

President Medvedev said the decision on the deployment of military bases of third countries in the territory of the CSTO member states only with the consent of CSTO partners was an important measure for consolidating the Organization.

“Reaching these accords is very important for consolidating the position within the CSTO,” the Russian leader said.

I believe it is very important that all the parties have reached consensus, Medvedev added.

Tahrir Square

Tahrir Square, posted with vodpod

Egypt uses ‘startling’ amount of firepower in charge on Tahrir

By Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, CNN
Protesters gather debris near the Institute of Egypt, which was torched during protests, in Cairo on December 20.
Protesters gather debris near the Institute of Egypt, which was torched during protests, in Cairo on December 20.

Cairo (CNN) – Egyptian security forces wielding batons, firearms and tear gas attacked defiant protesters Tuesday on the fifth consecutive day of clashes in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, witnesses told CNN.

Sherif Barakat, a businessman, heard machine gun fire early in the morning and saw the unrest from the balcony of his home above Tahrir Square. He saw security forces charge, firing tear gas and beating people with batons.

“Both sides exchanged rock-pelting until the military withdrew,” he said. “They kept the protesters at bay far from the epicenter of the clashes at Sheikh Rihan Street close to the Ministry of Interior for two hours until they reinforced the cement wall erected two days back with more blocks, then they withdrew.”

Nazly Hussein, an activist, said the forces stormed the square before dawn with a “startling” amount of firepower.

“I noticed protesters are not too scared of the firepower,” Hussein said. But at the same time, “they are terrified from getting caught and tortured.”

Ahmed Hamdi, a field medic, claimed that two people — a doctor and a student — were shot and killed. But Adel Al Dawi, a Health Ministry spokesman, could not confirm the casualties.

“It usually takes several hours before we get the official casualty report from the morgues or the hospitals. I know of five people who suffered gunshot wounds during the attack and were transferred to hospitals,” Al Dawi said.

Demonstrators and security forces have been battling since Friday in Tahrir, the epicenter of the uprising that brought down Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak earlier this year. At least 14 deaths in the latest spate of violence were confirmed as of Monday.

The shocking images of brutality that went viral across the Internet intensified the crisis in Egypt, the world’s most populous Arab nation. One video showed a military police officer stomping on a woman’s exposed stomach over the weekend, a video that sparked outrage.

A “Million Woman” demonstration was planned for Tuesday afternoon in the square to protest the military’s treatment of female demonstrators.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, released a statement Monday condemning what she called “vicious” and “brutal” assaults filmed over the weekend.

“The ruthless violence being used against unarmed women protesters is especially shocking and cannot be left unpunished,” Pillay said.

Another video showed Islam Abdel Hafiz, a boy allegedly shot by the military. Field medics attempted to remove the bullet from his motionless bleeding body before transferring him to the hospital.

Al Dawi said he visited the boy in the operating room and met his parents.

“I hope he survives, as the bullet seems to have caused some serious internal damage,” Al Dawi told CNN.

Protesters are now demanding that the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces swiftly hand authority over to an elected civilian government. Egypt has been conducting parliamentary elections and the military has said it plans to transfer power after elections are completed next year.

There have already been two rounds of voting for the lower house of Parliament, and voting for the upper house will begin at the end of January and go into early March. There are plans for the election of a president in June.

Newly elected Parliament members, intellectuals and academics weighed in on the violence Monday. The 40 demonstrators held a sit-in in front of the Supreme Court. They demanded that officials involved in the killing of protesters be tried, and they called for the military to hand over authority to civilians on January 25, the anniversary of the Egyptian revolution.

Meanwhile, the Egyptian Revolutionary Alliance, an opposition bloc of secular and religious parties, held a news conference to display images and testimonials about the violence, an event that served as a refutation of a Monday news briefing by the military. The alliance has not taken part in the election.

“Our press conference challenges the press conference announced by the military yesterday which was an utter joke, with all the blatant lies and fabrications it contained. That presser displayed their arrogance and continued mismanagement of the interim period that has led us to the crisis of witnessing dead people everyday,” said alliance member Rami Shath.

The military displayed videos of young boys who confessed that they received money from men who asked them to throw Molotov cocktails and rocks at security forces and burn government buildings such as the Cabinet. Many journalists attending the news conference applauded Gen. Adel Amar after his speech.

“The military fabricated these videos and forced the young boys to give these testimonials. They also invited local military correspondents loyal to the establishment that were seen clapping away after the press conference, which was broadcast live on state TV. It is a propaganda move to bury the revolution and portray us as paid thugs with no political horizon,” Shath added.

Activists have filed complaints about senior government officials to the Egyptian prosecutor’s office. Adel Saeed, the official spokesman of the general prosecutor, told CNN that two judges from the appeals court have been appointed to investigate the “intricate details” of the clashes and file a report to the prosecutor and the Justice Ministry.

“There are protesters and activists dying every day,” Noor Noor, the son of presidential candidate Ayman Nour, told CNN Tuesday. The son filed a report under his own name against Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

“Someone has to be accountable. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has failed to govern the interim period on both the military and political level,” Noor said.

Monday was the fourth day that pro-democracy demonstrators battled Egyptian security forces, their anger stoked by images of a military police officer stomping on a woman’s exposed stomach over the weekend.

The U.N.’s Pillay said she believes the individuals involved in the assaults must be arrested and prosecuted.

“These are life-threatening and inhuman acts that cannot possibly be justified under the guise of restoration of security or crowd control,” Pillay said. She called for an impartial and independent investigation into “all instances of abuse and violent repression against protesters.”

 

 


China reacts cautiously to first India-US-Japan meeting

China reacts cautiously to first India-US-Japan meeting

BEIJING: China reacted cautiously to the first-ever India-US-Japan meeting, hoping that the talks involving the three countries with “great influence” in the Asia-Pacific will be conducive to regional peace and stability.

Beijing has taken note of the relevant report on the trilateral talks that took place in Washington yesterday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told a media briefing here when asked about the meeting.

“US, Japan and India are countries with great influence in the Asia-Pacific region. We hope the trilateral meeting will be conducive to regional peace and stability,” he said.

The meeting raised eyebrows in Beijing as it came against the backdrop of disputes between China and its neighbours like Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines and Brunei over the resource-rich South China Sea.

While China was wary of a major US push into the Pacific where Washington backed the claims of smaller countries over South China Sea, India too made inroads under its “Look East Policy” improving its relations with several countries in the region.

India’s entry has already ruffled feathers in China as it objected to ONGC Videsh undertaking oil exploration in the blocks claimed by Vietnam in South China Sea. New Delhi, on its part, asserted that it is purely a commercial deal.

India has also stated that it wants to ensure free navigation against the backdrop of one of its naval ships getting a radio message that it was passing through Chinese waters when it was in the region after a visit to Vietnam.

Afghan Taliban ask UN to Investigate US Invasion of Iraq

Afghan Taliban ask UN to Investigate US Invasion of Iraq

Kabul – Afghanistan’s rebels Taliban have asked the United Nations and other international organizations to question the US officials who were ‘involved in the invasion of Iraq and killing of Iraqis,’ the movement said Tuesday.

The insurgents waging war for a decade in Afghanistan sent a statement to media urging that those ‘who played a role in the invasion of Iraq (be brought) to justice.’

‘The invaders’ backbone was broken due to the blessing of Allah in the home of Muslims and were finally forced to run away empty-handed,’ Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said.

‘It is important to know how and in what state did Americans leave Iraq.’

The movement accused the US of leaving Iraq ‘after looting and destroying national resources, historic heritage and infrastructure.’

‘Despite all these, 150,000 oppressed Iraqis were murdered by the Americans,’ the statement said.

US soldiers ended their nine-year combat mission in Iraq this month. A significant number of embassy staff and diplomats have remained in what is one of the largest US embassies in the world.

Easyvoyage.co.uk Predicts a Bright Future for Middle East Tourism After Obama Gets Done

 

Easyvoyage.co.uk Predicts a Bright Future for the Middle East’s Tourism Industry

PARIS, December 20, 2011/PRNewswire/ The Middle East is poised to become an incredibly popular destination with tourists from around the globe- Easyvoyage [http://www.easyvoyage.co.uk ], an online travel and hotel reviews company, believes that destinations in the Middle East will increase in popularity over the next couple of years. There are already several resorts in the Middle East that are incredibly popular with tourists and currently there is a steady demand for cheap holidays to Dubai [http://www.easyvoyage.co.uk/dubai-and-the-united-arab-emirates ] and other destinations in the region.

Recently the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) [http://media.unwto.org/en ] proclaimed that participants at the UNWTO/Arabian Travel Market event on the Future of Tourism in the Middle East and North Africa, held at the World Travel Market, were unanimous in agreeing that tourism in the region would return from challenges stronger than ever.Rooksana Hossenally from Easyvoyage comments: “Centres like Dubai and Bahrain are great places to spend a holiday.

an end to Afghanistan’s suffering requires an end to external interference in its internal affairs

[Indian officials like to make sweeping pronouncements about Afghan security, but you will never hear any of them admitting that they too, are interfering in Afghanistan in their quest to gain advantage over Pakistan (SEE:  The Stunning Investigative Story on the Birth of Balochistan Liberation Army–Mar 1, 2005 ), even though previous RAW officials have admitted to sponsoring retaliatory terrorist attacks inside Pakistan in the past (SEE:  RAW: India's External Intelligence Agency).  There will be no progress in Afghanistan until everyone stops their strategic meddling and begins to actually help.]

Afghanistan should not be allowed to ‘slip-back’: India

Place: United Nations | Agency: PTI

As international forces prepare to leave Afghanistan by 2014, India has said the global community has to ensure the war-torn country is not allowed to “slip-back” and called for political will to deal with terrorist safe havens outside Afghan borders.

“It is important that we draw the right lessons from our past mistakes and should not let Afghanistan slip back,” Charge D’ Affaires of India to the UN Manjeev Singh Puri said during a UN Security Council debate on Afghanistan.

He said the international community needs to avert the possibility that Afghanistan is let down or made to feel abandoned by a withdrawal of assistance post-2014.

“We must ensure that Afghanistan’s security is ensured through non-interference in its internal affairs,” he said.

“India believes in a strong, independent, sovereign, stable, democratic Afghanistan at peace with itself and its neighbours. Recent history has shown that an end to Afghanistan’s suffering requires an end to external interference in its internal affairs.”

Pointing out that Afghanistan faces deficits on four key fronts – security, governance, development and investment, Puri said the country will require enormous assistance for a long period of time if it is to address these four deficits adequately.

“There is a real danger that as international forces withdraw from a combat role and in numbers, there will be a transition ‘recession’ one in which attention and aid will decline, just as the Afghan government’s security demands increase.”

Puri said India is seriously concerned that the insurgency in Afghanistan remains resilient with no let up in terrorist violence.

Balochistan Killing Field

Balochistan Killing Field

[Interactive Map HERE]

Russia urges NATO to investigate Libyan deaths

Russia urges NATO to investigate Libyan deaths

A British Typhoon jet (L) and Eurofighter approach a Canadian Boeing CC-150 Polaris during a refuelling operation above the Mediterranean sea as part of the NATO operation over Libya (AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli)

A British Typhoon jet (L) and Eurofighter approach a Canadian Boeing CC-150 Polaris during a refuelling operation above the Mediterranean sea as part of the NATO operation over Libya (AFP Photo / Alberto Pizzoli)

NATO officials claim the military bloc was not responsible for a single civilian casualty during its seven-month bombing campaign in Libya. Moscow is skeptical and is calling for an investigation, with the help of the UN if necessary.

Vitaly Churkin, Russia’s UN Ambassador, says he has been asking NATO to provide “a definitive report” to the UN Security Council summing up its activities in Libya but “unfortunately” the alliance has only provided “piecemeal, rather perfunctory reports.”

Churkin told reporters he would raise the issue of civilian casualties when the Security Council discusses Libya on Thursday.

Critics of the military operation – including Russia, China and the African Union – have argued that NATO overstepped the bounds of a UN resolution which imposed a no-fly zone and authorized the protection of civilians, going so far as to take sides with the anti-government rebels.

“Unfortunately, NATO adopted the pure propaganda style, claiming zero civilian casualties in Libya which was completely implausible first of all, and secondly, not true,” Churkin said.

He said it was “cruel and cynical” for people who lost their homes and loved ones “to be told that actually nothing of this kind happened.”

The UN could provide help in investigating civilian casualties from the NATO aerial bombing campaign if the alliance is reluctant to do it on their own, he added.

Russia’s UN Ambassador added weight to his accusations when he praised UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for saying “there must be no misunderstanding about civilian casualties in Libya.”

During NATO’s seven-month campaign, which ended on October 31, its fighter aircraft flew 26,000 sorties, including more than 9,600 strike missions.

Captured by rebel forces on October 20 near his hometown of Sirte, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is believed to have been shot dead by his captors without the benefit of a democratic trial, which adds yet another stain to the NATO operation, not to mention Russia-US relations.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said US special forces were involved in the assassination of the former Libyan leader.

“Who did this?” Putin asked last week during his annual nationwide Q&A session. “Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column. Then using the radio — through the special forces, who should not have been there — they brought in the so-called opposition and fighters, and killed him without court or investigation.”

Robert Bridge, RT