Remember Operation Koh-i-Sufaid, “the Victorious” Sham Offensive In Kurram?–Has Anything Changed?

Fighting over Pakistani mountaintop kills over 60

Members of lashkar , or local peace force, stand guard at the site of a suicide attack in Peshawar, Pakistan on Monday, Jan 30, 2012. A suicide bomber killed a leader of a militant group that has been fighting a rival outfit in northwest Pakistan close to the Afghan border, said police officer Imtiaz Khan.
Members of lashkar , or local peace force, stand guard at the site of a suicide attack in Peshawar, Pakistan on Monday, Jan 30, 2012. A suicide bomber killed a leader of a militant group that has been fighting a rival outfit in northwest Pakistan close to the Afghan border, said police officer Imtiaz Khan. (AP Photo/Mohammad Sajjad)
By Hussain AfzalAssociated Press / January 31, 2012

PARACHINAR, Pakistan—Fighting between soldiers and Taliban militants over a strategic mountaintop in northwestern Pakistan has killed more than 60 people, a government official said Tuesday.

The battle first started a week ago when government troops seized the top of Jogi mountain in the Kurram tribal area from militants, sparking clashes that killed six soldiers and 20 insurgents, said Wajid Khan, a local government administrator.

The militants retaliated Tuesday by attacking the soldiers who were trying to hold the location, touching off another round of fighting that killed 10 troops and more than 30 insurgents, said Khan. The area is home to militants loyal to Pakistani Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud.

The military launched an offensive in Kurram in July 2011 and declared victory about a month later, but violence has continued.

A similar process has taken place throughout Pakistan’s semiautonomous tribal region along the Afghan border. The military has launched a series of operations against the Pakistani Taliban in the past few years, and has often declared victory only to see fighting flare up again.

The Pakistani Taliban have killed thousands of people throughout the country in suicide bombings and other attacks. The group aims to topple the Pakistani government, partly because of its alliance with the United States.

The militants are allied with the Afghan Taliban, but the latter group has focused its attacks on NATO and Afghan forces inside Afghanistan.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, at least 10 people were gunned down in the past 24 hours in the southern city of Karachi, said Sharfuddin Memon, a security adviser for the government of Sindh province, where Karachi is the capital.

Karachi is Pakistan’s largest city and has a long history of political, ethnic and sectarian violence.

The most recent deaths included two granddaughters of Akbar Bugti, a nationalist leader in southwestern Baluchistan province who was killed during a military operation in 2006 ordered by former President Pervez Musharraf. His death has helped fuel a violent insurgency in Baluchistan against the government.

——

Associated Press writer Ashraf Khan contributed to this report from Karachi.

secret US document discloses support for protesters

Egypt protests: secret US document discloses support for protesters

Here is the secret document sent from the US Embassy in Cairo to Washington disclosing the extent of American support for the protesters behind the Egypt uprising.

10:30PM GMT 28 Jan 2011

S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 02 CAIRO 002572 SIPDIS FOR NEA/ELA, R, S/P AND H NSC FOR PASCUAL AND KUTCHA-HELBLING E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/30/2028 TAGS: PGOV, PHUM, KDEM, EG SUBJECT: APRIL 6 ACTIVIST ON HIS U.S. VISIT AND REGIME CHANGE IN EGYPT REF: A. CAIRO 2462 B. CAIRO 2454 C. CAIRO 2431 Classified By: ECPO A/Mincouns Catherine Hill-Herndon for reason 1.4 (d ).

1. (C) Summary and comment: On December 23, April 6 activist xxxxxxxxxxxx expressed satisfaction with his participation in the December 3-5 \”Alliance of Youth Movements Summit,\” and with his subsequent meetings with USG officials, on Capitol Hill, and with think tanks. He described how State Security (SSIS) detained him at the Cairo airport upon his return and confiscated his notes for his summit presentation calling for democratic change in Egypt, and his schedule for his Congressional meetings. xxxxxxxxxxxx contended that the GOE will never undertake significant reform, and therefore, Egyptians need to replace the current regime with a parliamentary democracy. He alleged that several opposition parties and movements have accepted an unwritten plan for democratic transition by 2011; we are doubtful of this claim.

xxxxxxxxxxxx said that although SSIS recently released two April 6 activists, it also arrested three additional group members. We have pressed the MFA for the release of these April 6 activists. April 6’s stated goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections is highly unrealistic, and is not supported by the mainstream opposition. End summary and comment.

—————————- Satisfaction with the Summit —————————-

2. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx expressed satisfaction with the December 3-5 \”Alliance of Youth Movements Summit\” in New York, noting that he was able to meet activists from other countries and outline his movement’s goals for democratic change in Egypt. He told us that the other activists at the summit were very supportive, and that some even offered to hold public demonstrations in support of Egyptian democracy in their countries, with xxxxxxxxxxxx as an invited guest. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he discussed with the other activists how April 6 members could more effectively evade harassment and surveillance from SSIS with technical upgrades, such as consistently alternating computer \”simcards.\” However, xxxxxxxxxxxx lamented to us that because most April 6 members do not own computers, this tactic would be impossible to implement. xxxxxxxxxxxx was appreciative of the successful efforts by the Department and the summit organizers to protect his identity at the summit, and told us that his name was never mentioned publicly.

——————- A Cold Welcome Home ——————-

3. (S) xxxxxxxxxxxx told us that SSIS detained and searched him at the Cairo Airport on December 18 upon his return from the U.S. According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, SSIS found and confiscated two documents in his luggage: notes for his presentation at the summit that described April 6’s demands for democratic transition in Egypt, and a schedule of his Capitol Hill meetings. xxxxxxxxxxxx described how the SSIS officer told him that State Security is compiling a file on him, and that the officer’s superiors instructed him to file a report on xxxxxxxxxxxx most recent activities.

——————————————— ———-

Washington Meetings and April 6 Ideas for Regime Change

——————————————— ———-

4. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx described his Washington appointments as positive, saying that on the Hill he met with xxxxxxxxxxxx, a variety of House staff members, including from the offices of xxxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxx), and with two Senate staffers. xxxxxxxxxxxx also noted that he met with several think tank members. xxxxxxxxxxxx said that xxxxxxxxxxxx’s office invited him to speak at a late January Congressional hearing on House Resolution 1303 regarding religious and political freedom in Egypt. xxxxxxxxxxxx told us he is interested in attending, but conceded he is unsure whether he will have the funds to make the trip. He indicated to us that he has not been focusing on his work as a \”fixer\” for journalists, due to his preoccupation with his U.S. trip. 5. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx described how he tried to convince his Washington interlocutors that the USG should pressure the GOE to implement significant reforms by threatening to reveal CAIRO 00002572 002 OF 002 information about GOE officials’ alleged \”illegal\” off-shore bank accounts. He hoped that the U.S. and the international community would freeze these bank accounts, like the accounts of Zimbabwean President Mugabe’s confidantes. xxxxxxxxxxxx said he wants to convince the USG that Mubarak is worse than Mugabe and that the GOE will never accept democratic reform. xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that Mubarak derives his legitimacy from U.S. support, and therefore charged the U.S. with \”being responsible\” for Mubarak’s \”crimes.\”

He accused NGOs working on political and economic reform of living in a \”fantasy world,\” and not recognizing that Mubarak — \”the head of the snake\” — must step aside to enable democracy to take root.

6. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx claimed that several opposition forces — including the Wafd, Nasserite, Karama and Tagammu parties, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Kifaya, and Revolutionary Socialist movements — have agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections (ref C). According to xxxxxxxxxxxx, the opposition is interested in receiving support from the army and the police for a transitional government prior to the 2011 elections.

xxxxxxxxxxxx asserted that this plan is so sensitive it cannot be written down. (Comment: We have no information to corroborate that these parties and movements have agreed to the unrealistic plan xxxxxxxxxxxx has outlined. Per ref C, xxxxxxxxxxxx previously told us that this plan was publicly available on the internet. End comment.)

7. (C) xxxxxxxxxxxx said that the GOE has recently been cracking down on the April 6 movement by arresting its members. xxxxxxxxxxxx noted that although SSIS had released xxxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxx \”in the past few days,\” it had arrested three other members. (Note: On December 14, we pressed the MFA for the release of xxxxxxxxxxxx and xxxxxxxxxxxx, and on December 28 we asked the MFA for the GOE to release the additional three activists. End note.) xxxxxxxxxxxx conceded that April 6 has no feasible plans for future activities.

The group would like to call for another strike on April 6, 2009, but realizes this would be \”impossible\” due to SSIS interference, xxxxxxxxxxxx said. He lamented that the GOE has driven the group’s leadership underground, and that one of its leaders, xxxxxxxxxxxx, has been in hiding for the past week.

8. (C) Comment: xxxxxxxxxxxx offered no roadmap of concrete steps toward April 6’s highly unrealistic goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections. Most opposition parties and independent NGOs work toward achieving tangible, incremental reform within the current political context, even if they may be pessimistic about their chances of success. xxxxxxxxxxxx wholesale rejection of such an approach places him outside this mainstream of opposition politicians and activists.

SCOBEY02008-12-307386PGOV,PHUM,KDEM,EGAPRIL 6 ACTIVIST ON HIS U.S. VISIT AND REGIME CHANGE IN EGYPT

U.S. Embassy shelters Americans amid Egypt NGO crackdown

[State subversion is typically comparable to the “Russian nesting dolls,” with one hidden inside the other, inside something else.  You have to follow the chain of repetitive splits and renaming, which obscures the source, in order to see the one parent organization behind all the others is.   NED, the National Endowment for Democracy, is a creation of the CIA.  NED could go places and do things that the real spies could only dream of.  The National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute are the ugly children of the NED.–{SEE:  US Subversion Behind Every Arab Uprising and Colored Revolution–(and the whole world knows it)Egyptian Police Fight Back Against State Dept./Soros Subversive NGOs}.  Egyptian authorities are going about this in the only intelligent way, that pioneered by the Turkmen govt.–Only national NGOs can get licensed.  Those guys in Egypt may be lucky to get out of there alive, if the angry mobs are made aware of what they have been up to.]

U.S. Embassy shelters Americans amid Egypt NGO crackdown

source

By Andrew Quinn

WASHINGTON

(Reuters) – Several American citizens have taken refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Cairo amid a sharpening dispute between Washington and Egypt over U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups in the country, the State Department said on Monday.

The unusual step of offering ordinary U.S. citizens diplomatic refuge follows a crackdown by Egypt’s military-led authorities on non-governmental organizations which has thrown a question mark over the future of U.S. aid to Egypt’s military, now running at about $1.3 billion per year.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said a “handful” of U.S. NGO staff had sought and been granted permission to remain on embassy grounds after they were barred from leaving the country.

“They’re in the embassy because they feel that they are more comfortable there in this circumstance,” Nuland told reporters.

Egyptian police raided the groups in late December as part of an investigation into foreign funding of 17 pro-democracy and human rights groups, part of what civil society groups say has been a broader crackdown on critics of the army’s heavy-handed tactics in dealing with street unrest. Authorities banned six American staffers from leaving the country.

Washington has strongly criticized the move, which has cast a pall over U.S.-Egyptian relations as the most populous Arab nation reaches a critical stage in its uncertain transition away from authoritarian rule.

“We have made clear our concerns about this issue and our disappointment that these several citizens are not being allowed to depart Egypt,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Monday.

Leading U.S. lawmakers have also voiced outrage over the incident, and American officials have repeatedly warned that Washington may have to take a fresh look at U.S. aid to Egypt’s military, which depends on the State Department certifying that the government is making genuine moves toward democracy.

The six U.S. citizens hit with travel bans work with the National Democratic Institute and International Republican Institute. Both receive U.S. public funding and are loosely affiliated with the two major U.S. political parties.

Among those prevented from leaving is the Republican group’s Egypt country director Sam LaHood, who is the son of U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

The State Department did not provide details on the Americans sheltering in the embassy, although officials at the National Democratic Institute said none of their staff had been relocated. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Nuland described the refuge offer as “a unique situation” and dismissed suggestions that the aim was to shield the U.S. citizens from potential arrest.

“There is no expectation that any of these individuals are seeking to avoid any kind of judicial process,” Nuland said.

“We do not feel that they are in physical danger at the moment. That is a different matter than whether they are being persecuted in the Egyptian judicial system,” Nuland added.

MILITARY DELEGATION

An Egyptian military delegation is expected in Washington this week for regular talks that are expected to focus on the impasse over the NGOs, U.S. officials said.

Nuland, while stressing that the visit had been planned before the NGO dispute erupted, said the Egyptians could expect firm words during their U.S. meetings.

“We have concerns about the fact that we have not been able to resolve this situation. That is the message that we are giving the Egyptian government in the strongest terms,” she said.

The delegation, made up of four major generals, was expected in Washington on Tuesday, diplomatic sources said.

President Barack Obama spoke with the head of Egypt’s ruling military council, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, on January 20. He stressed the importance of the NGOs and discussed Egypt’s request for $3.2 billion from the International Monetary Fund.

In a weekend call to Tantawi, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged the Egyptians to lift the travel ban and expressed concern over restrictions placed on NGOs, the Pentagon said.

The Obama administration is finalizing its budget for the 2013 fiscal year, which will be presented on February 13 and is expected to include continued assistance for Egypt’s military, albeit subject to new conditions imposed by U.S. lawmakers.

Those include evidence that Egyptian military authorities are committed to holding free and fair elections and protecting freedom of expression, association, and religion.

(Additional reporting by Missy Ryan and Laura MacInnis; editing by Doina Chiacu and Mohammad Zargham)

It’s A Sad Commentary On the US Military That the Only Conceivable Afghan Solution Is Civil War

Afghan Hazara leader skeptical of Taliban peace

By Rob Taylor and Mirwais Harooni

KABUL

(Reuters) – Skepticism is growing inside Afghanistan’s ethnic communities that a peace deal can be struck with the Taliban, under whose rule they were brutalized and persecuted, with many fearing a return to civil war, a prominent Hazara minority leader says.

Mohammad Mohaqiq said he was deeply worried about NATO plans to pull out combat troops by end-2014, and a French government proposal to leave a year earlier, by 2013.

“It is silly to say al Qaeda and Taliban can come together with Afghans, or (with) our allies who have come to this country,” Mohaqiq told Reuters late on Sunday in an interview at his heavily-guarded Kabul mansion.

“I don’t believe in a miracle occurring, that the Taliban will change their way of thought, accept the Afghan constitution, believe in democracy and the vote of the people.”

Many of the Hazaras suffered enormously under Taliban rule, between 1996 and 2001, and the Shi’ite Muslim minority saw many of their communities leveled by the mainly Sunni Muslim and ethnic Pashtun Taliban, and their people killed or scattered into the mountains.

Afghan officials plan to hold initial talks with Taliban representatives inSaudi Arabia in coming weeks in parallel to secret contacts underway between the United States and the insurgency since 2010.

Afghan officials also hope to press Pakistan’s foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar during a visit to Kabul this week for access to Taliban leaders in Pakistan, including jailed co-founder of the movement Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

Mohaqiq, head of the opposition Shi’ite Hezb-e-Wahdat (Unity Party) and a member of parliament, fought the Soviets in the 1980s and was part of the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, which splintered amid political dealmaking under Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

But alliance members are now coalescing again, bringing ethnic Tajiks, Uzbeks and Hazaras into a common front to oppose the blueprint for Taliban peace negotiations masterminded by the United States, and now being re-cast again by an Afghan government nervous of being sidelined by Washington.

Other ethnic group members such as Tajik leader and Afghan National Front chief Ahmad Zia Masood, whose brother once led opposition commanders fighting the Taliban, said this month that he also did not believe a deal could be reached with the Taliban, calling for more involvement in peace negotiations.

Mohaqiq, whose predecessor Abdul Ali Mazari was stripped naked, mutilated and dropped to his death from a helicopter by the Taliban in 1995, said he believed thousands of insurgents had been trained across the porous mountain border in Pakistan during a decade of war with NATO and Afghan forces.

Pakistan’s government rejects the frequent accusations from Afghan officials that Taliban insurgents are provided with sanctuary in its territory.

“They are waiting for NATO forces to withdraw from Afghanistan to attack. We can anticipate what is going to happen,” Mohaqiq said.

“Now tens of thousands of armed insurgents have already been trained in North Waziristan.”

Mohaqiq said President Karzai and his western backers were moving too hastily to accommodate the Taliban, wearied by a war now dragging into its 11th year, and warned NATO must not repeat the mistake of withdrawing from the country too early.

“When his presidency is over he can go to any place in the world to survive, but the Afghan people will be left behind,” he said. “What we want is for the international community to act wisely.”

French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week said France would pull its combat troops out at the end of 2013, a year before an end-2014 deadline fixed by the United States and its NATO allies for handing over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.

He said he would use a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels from February 2-3 to call for consideration of the Afghan army taking full charge of NATO combat missions in 2013. {ID:nL5E8CS0E0]

Mohaqiq said the Afghan army, made up largely by Pashtuns was incapable of protecting minority Afghans if it proved the Taliban were holding the promise of peace talks to stall and regroup, as some Afghanistan analysts have warned.

“The army is ethnically structured in a way so it cannot fight the Taliban. It’s possible they would just surrender when the Taliban attacked,” he said.

Mohaqiq said ethnic opposition parties, which also included former Northern Alliance General and Uzbek leader Abdul Rashid Dostum, wanted consideration of the country’s future to include a revamp of the political system away from a centralized presidency towards effective multiparty government.

“But we are not very optimistic that the Taliban will join the peace process and other political factions in Afghanistan, support the government and work in a system together,” he said.

(Editing by Ed Lane)

How Will Turkmen Government Fill Chinese Gas Obligations In Case of US/Israel Attack On Iran?

China asked the Iranian issue Turkmenistan

Ashgabat need help from Moscow

According to the “MN” from sources in Ashgabat, the Turkmen leadership was not ready for an adequate response to the concerns of the Chinese visitors.   / /  © RIA Novosti

Beijing is concerned about the possible destabilization of Turkmenistan in the case of U.S. military strike on Iran.After the surrender of the Chinese built a strategic gas pipeline from Turkmenistan and giving her more than $ 8 billion of loans in the Middle Kingdom are considering this as an area of the country’s interests. However, Ashgabat, became known as “Moscow News”, was not able to give Beijing reliability guarantees attached to them, and investments are now preparing to conduct consultations with Moscow on this issue. The other day in Ashgabat met a delegation led by Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly People’s Republic of China Chen Zhili. The reason for the visit was the 20th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Beijing and Ashgabat. The main subject of talks with guests President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov was to discuss the plans of Washington by force anticipate receiving a neighbor of Turkmenistan – Iran – nuclear weapons. The Chinese have good reason to see these plans being built by a threat of a major gas pipeline in Turkmenistan and gas infrastructure, which in future will supply in China each year to 65 billion cubic meters of gas. According to the first branch of the pipeline for the last two years was 28 billion cubic meters supplied, now completed construction of a second branch, and the Chinese begun to third. Total 2020 plan to build four gas pipeline. The main subject of concern is the reliability of Chinese deliveries of Turkmen gas to the Celestial Empire. In addition, we are talking about security from three to five (depending on season), thousands of Chinese workers and professionals involved in Turkmenistan’s gas pipeline and other facilities. As the “MN”, Beijing has been a lot of other issues to Ashgabat. Is there a possibility of the dislocation in Turkmenistan U.S. or other foreign troops under UN auspices? Can the country receive transit or other logistics center? Is the adoption of Turkmenistan to the influx of refugees from Iran, or to prevent an influx of them? Beijing views as Turkmenistan, practically the only country in the region, which is not controlled by the United States that allows the Chinese to implement it through various types of contacts – both economic and military. In particular, we are talking about the possibility of connecting the branch with the Iranian gas pipeline to China from Turkmenistan to Iran, the Chinese supply of military equipment. It is not excluded, according to the “MN”, Turkmen and evacuation route to China, members of the Iranian leadership at the critical developments in Iran. Until recently, the U.S. military presence in Turkmenistan was represented by a group of marines and American transport aircraft maintenance, making landing at Ashgabat airport on way to Afghanistan. After several incidents involving the Americans to use arms, his wearing of it was reduced to a minimum and it reduced the number of U.S. troops themselves. The Turkmen government apparently does not have the delight of the need to cooperate with Washington. According to reports, Americans are constantly requesting more takeoffs and landings than stipulated in their agreement with the authorities. In Turkmenistan, have not forgotten how eight years ago, Americans without notice Ashgabat deported from Oman to evacuate his plane had an accident on the road between Ashgabat and Mary American military transport en route from Afghanistan. The incident was hushed up then, in Washington justified his actions he received “Afghan” a UN mandate. According to the “MN” from sources in Ashgabat, the Turkmen leadership was not ready for an adequate response to the concerns of the Chinese visitors. In “Oguzhane” (so called residence of the President of Turkmenistan) do not engage in analysis of the situation around Iran in the context of the Turkmen-Chinese relations. Accordingly, in Ashgabat to prepare for the adoption of special measures and rescue operations. Turkmen leadership, according to some, considering the possibility of appeals to Moscow for assistance in obtaining information, developing the forecast of the situation and coordinate action in the event of Force Majeure. In the coming days and for consultations on Iran’s theme is expected to arrive in Ashgabat high-level delegation from Turkey.

Libyan Oil Infrastrusture Assets Seized By the US Special Operations Forces?

Libyan Oil Infrastrusture Assets Seized By the US Special Operations Forces?

By Alexander KRYMOV (Russia)

Libyan Oil Infrastrusture Assets Seized By the US Special Operations Forces?The unexpectedly quick EU consent to take immediate sanctions against Iran “coincided” with seizure of Libyan oil terminals. To certain extent the negative affect of expected oil shortage for European economy could be minimized in case the utmost is done to boost the Brega and Ras-Lanuf production capacities till the complete cessation of contacts with Iran is in force.

The article should have been called “Which was to be demonstrated.” The facts and trends described here have been foretold a really long time ago by impartial observers who didn’t just believe the allegations the main reason for Nato’s actions in Libya was establishment of democracy.

Since January 18 information agencies started to broadcast interesting facts supposedly based on the data initially reported by the oldest “international” Arabic Asharq Alawsat newspaper, based in London since 1978. It was reported that a 12000 men strong US ground force supposedly landed in the vicinity of Marsa el-Brega. The formal pretext — “preserving stability in the region and security of peaceful population”. The Israeli web sites added the US infantrymen were transferred from Malta. They said the actual mission of this relocation was to maintain permanent flow of Libyan oil to the European markets to be sold at low prices. Though the US embassy in Malta denies allegations such a transfer of servicemen has ever taken place.

US troops landed in the eastern oil port city of Brega

It’s noteworthy Marsa el-Brega is one of the core elements of Libyan oil industry infrastructure, where oil refineries, loading facilities, and a liquefied gas processing plant are situated. No matter the before the war population was only 15000 dwellers, the place is a “key point” of oil industry. One of two acting export terminals is located in Brega. The second one is in Ras-Lanuf, situated about 70 km from el-Brega. Thus landing troops in this key location of the shore is the most logical action for someone who’s interest is to secure Libyan hydrocarbons uninterrupted flow. If it were population safety it would have been reasonable to land somewhere more near to big cities.

Boosting cheap oil flows to the market doesn’t look like a mission impossible. It a beaten path tried in Iraq when it provided the victors with energy supplies for symbolic prices as one of numerous compensations for “rescue” from Saddam Hussein. It’s noteworthy the unexpectedly quick EU consent to take immediate sanctions against Iran “coincided” with the seizure of Libyan oil terminals. To certain extent the negative affect of expected oil shortage for European economy could be minimized in case the utmost is done to boost the Brega and Ras-Lanuf production capacities till the complete cessation of contacts with Iran is in force.

National Transitional Council leaders left Benghazi in panic

The internal situation in Libya is grave enough to make its oil export consumers aspire to establish control over the supplies. The Libyan revolution confidently entered the stage of naturally determined frustration with the new authorities that came to power in place of “tyranny” giving spark to coming by itself intent to overthrow the newly established government in its turn. All the more the practical skills are already honed and weapons fill the country in great quantities without any control. More over there are already at least two powers in Libya with equally strong aspiration to do it.

People protest against the National Transitional Council and its chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, in the city center of Benghazi, Libya

On January 21 a wide scale manifestationtook place in militants “capital” Benghazi. The participants demanded introduction of Sharia law throughout the whole country and Islam becoming part of the constitution as state religion. They even insisted no referendum was needed to have public say on the issue. It’s not words only. Disgruntled at the activities of new Libyan authorities the protesters literally seized the local Council’s headquarters, inflicted serious damage, smashed up a neighboring gas station and the Council’s transport means parked there. The Council’s officials had to run away. Including the legal head of Libya Mustafa Mohamed Abdul Jalil.

Hot on his heels Arabia TV outlet approached him for an interview. Asked why not submit a resignation after such an incident took place once he himself had said many times it was inadmissible to ignore public protests, Abdul Jalil resorted to a very special way to express himself. He said the Benghazi protesters didn’t belong to the Libyan people they were Gaddafi supporters.

But Jalil was not able to explain how come about five thousand Gaddafi supporters got into Benghazi, being besides …Islamic fundamentalists at the same time. And how come Libyan students who had “fought” Gaddafi the whole year, turned their enthusiasm against the National Transitional Council. But then Jalil declared his readiness to resign if “half of Libyan people” asked him to do it, but without his wise leadership “Libya would face chaos”. As one can see Jalil is inclined to make his own conclusions concerning the issue of who belongs to the Libyan people and who doesn’t and what is the criterion of plunging into chaos. The procedure to make him resign voluntarily is not so clear as well — the Benghazi events showed it clear enough what kind of political discussions the population is inclined to. Armed crowds of protesters never let know they wanted a peaceful referendum to see if Jalil enjoys public trust.

As a result Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, deputy head and vice-president of the National Transitional Council, said he was resigning on his own decision. He had been the target of students attacks in Benghazi before. The reason was multiple protests against the interim government ,- he told Al Jazeera in an interview. He said the recent months “the atmosphere of hatred and depravation has prevailed affecting the Council’s work in a negative way”. The issue of the Council’s immediate role in creating this very “atmosphere of deprivation” aside, it can be said — new scheming of undercover Gaddafi supporters are far from being the major driving force of the protests. More to it, the mayor of Benghazi declared his resignation too.

The Benghazi protest itself was just another step ahead by Islamists, who consider themselves to be victors in the Libyan revolution. In December 2011 the Islamic advocates made public some program’s theses like “the Islam banner must fly over Libya”. The authoritative fundamentalists called upon Libyan militants not to surrender their weapons for the reason “the young Libyan revolution is not over yet, the Gaddafi overthrow is just a start”.

Jamahiriya’s back?

The Council’s militants activities start to stumble upon appropriate, though a bit late, counteractions on the part of other Libyans. The main reason for indignation is abrupt fall of living standards and mass repressions on the part of victors. The Algerian information portal Algeria ISP said on January 22 “batallion May 28″ arrested a Bani Walid townsman Mohamad Gait Schiebt. The reason was his “wrong” nationality. He belonged to Warfalla tribe, that was a staunch Gaddafi supporter and now comes under all kinds of repressions for “discrediting connections”. The young people of the Warfalla demanded their fellow tribesman would set free in a day. The Council’s military unit ignored the ultimatum and the Warfalla got down to business.

In all Bani Walid’s schools the Council’s three colored banners were changed for the Jamahiriya’s green ones, the Warfalla’s militants seized the local Council’s headquarters. The head of local municipal council Mubarak Al Fatami reported no connection with the Council’s troops located in the city. The central leadership acknowledged Bani Walid was captured by the Jamahiriya’s supporters. They emphasized the intent to recapture the control over Bani Walid as soon as the reinforcements from Misrata and Tripoli came. In response the Warfalla warned against it and called upon other Libyans to support the revolt.

As you see the Council’s head Jalil, expelled from Benghazi by its own subordinates, is obviously wrong thinking his monumental personality is a basis of peace in the country. It’s too early to say if successful seizure of Bani Walid is a start of coordinated activities aimed at the National Transitional Council’s overthrow or a beginning of a new phase of civil war.

One thing is clear — a civil war with its unavoidable victims and human rights violations is exclusively an internal Libyan affair. The US troops landing in the vicinity of oil terminals shows clearly what’s really important for the West. Everything else seems to be of no importance.

SourceWorld Intellectual Network

 

Looking For Mullah Omar

“Mullah Mohammad Omar is doing better with government people who surrender to the Taliban than the government here is doing with people who surrender to it.”

Looking For Mullah Omar

The New Yorker–(via  currentmil-technews)
January 23, 2012
Pg. 44Will the United States be able to negotiate with a man it has hunted for a decade?

By Steve Coll

During his reign as the Amir of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan, from 1994 to 2001, Mullah Mohammad Omar made a mark on the architecture of Kandahar, an irrigated desert city of about half a million people in the south of the country. He commissioned a tall mosque for Eid celebrations; the building, which is shaped like an egg, is painted light blue, and is visible from miles around. Omar also built a tiled palace with fountains and a swimming pool. The Amir’s most ambitious project, however, was a mosque and shopping center downtown called the Jamia Omar. He chose the former location of Kandahar’s main cinema, which had been demolished by Taliban cadres who denounced movies as blasphemy. Construction was under way when the United States invaded Afghanistan and forced Omar into hiding. Ever since, the site has been an eyesore–a jumble of unpainted arches and half-built pillars with steel poles sticking out.

Last year, American military commanders allocated funds to help President Hamid Karzai’s government complete the Jamia Omar. The decision reflected recent American counterinsurgency strategy in the war. In 2009, President Obama ordered thirty thousand additional troops to Afghanistan in an effort to break the Taliban’s reviving rebellion. Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, has been a focus of the campaign, and American commanders have sought to visibly convey the authority of the current government. Last October, a senior NATO official, while briefing reporters, explained that “refurbishing Mullah Omar’s mosque” was a sign of American progress, because it demonstrated “the level of control we have.”

One morning in December, I drove past the construction site and saw a dozen turbaned men on scaffolds,swinging hammers. In Kandahar’s municipal compound, about half a mile away, after crossing through barriers manned by guards and bomb-detection specialists, I found Mohammad Nasim Ziayi, the city’s deputy mayor, who oversees the redevelopment.

Ziayi wore a pressed gown with pens protruding from a vest pocket. Mounted on a wall behind his desk was a large black-and-white photograph of a clean-shaven man with a mournful gaze. This was GhulamHaider Hamidi, Ziayi explained; he had been the mayor of Kandahar until one morning last July, when a Taliban assassin with a bomb hidden in his turban sneaked into the building and detonated himself. Hamidi died on the way to the hospital.

Ziayi told me that Mullah Omar’s original blueprint for the Jamia Omar has been revised by the Karzai administration. The new plan includes a mosque for women, and although the center will still be called the Jamia Ornar, it will commemorate Omar bin al-Khattab, a companion of the Prophet Muhammad, who is revered in the Sunni Islamic tradition as the second caliph to reign after the Prophet’s death. As a civic initiative, the mosque “is a good thing,” Ziayi said. “The good work that was done by the Taliban–we should accept that.”

As he walked me to my car, jumpy young bodyguards holding assault rifles accompanied us. I asked if Ziayi could imagine sharing power with the Taliban in Kandahar. Since 2010, the Obama Administration has engaged in exploratory peace and reconciliation talks with senior Taliban leaders, in the hope of reducing Afghanistan’s violence while promoting political stability as American troops depart. It is conceivable that Mullah Omar could be coaxed out of hiding to participate in the negotiations.

“If the Taliban were willing to work shoulder to shoulder with other Afghans for the public, that would be welcomed,” Ziayi said. “But from what I know they don’t want that. They want everything for themselves.”

In December, 2001, as Taliban control over Afghanistan collapsed, Mullah Mohammad Omar left Kandahar and reportedly crossed into Pakistan, seventy miles away. There has been no confirmed sighting of him since, and his success in eluding American and Afghan pursuers has deepened the mystery that has long surrounded him. Of the jihadi leaders who entered into international consciousness after 200l–including Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed–Omar’s life remains the least well documented. He has not issued videotaped speeches over the Internet, as Al Qaeda’s leaders have done. Essential elements of his biography, such as the year and the place of his birth, remain uncertain, and there are only two photographs of him in circulation. In recent years, the Taliban have issued biannual, state-of-the-revolution essays under Omar’s name, but it is not clear if he actually writes them.

The Taliban’s Amir maintains a spectral presence amid Afghanistan’s violence and politics. His health, his whereabouts, and his intentions are subjects of continual rumor and argument in Kabul, the Afghan capital. Last July, someone hacked into the Taliban’s Web site and announced Omar’s death “after an illness of the heart.” A Taliban spokesman quickly issued assurances that Omar was “alive and nothing has happened to him.” Even so, at least a few senior Afghan officials harbor doubts about his well-being. Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban minister and now a senior member of the Karzai government’s High Peace Council, which has conducted talks with Taliban interlocutors, told me, “We don’t know if he’s still alive or what his position is.”

Other former Taliban, as well as independent researchers, believe that Omar is living in Pakistan. Alex Strick van Linschoten, a Dutch scholar who has been based in Kandahar since 2007 and has conducted extensive interviews with Taliban leaders and sympathizers, told me that he believes Mullah Ornar is “in a safe house in Karachi,” the Pakistani port city, and that Omar’s movements and activities are closely monitored by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency. The Taliban-connected individuals with whom Strick van Linschoten has spoken recently described Omar “as essentially a prisoner,” he said. “All access to him is controlled by the I.S.I. or some sub-version of that.”

Anand Gopal, a journalist who has worked in Kandahar in recent years, and who has completed, with Bette Dam, an investigation into Mullah Omar’s biography, said that he, too, has concluded from interviews that the Taliban leader is in Karachi and effectively under house arrest. Similar reports have circulated within the American government since at least 2007. At a counterterrorism meeting between India and the United States that year, the senior Indian official in attendance reported, “We now know that Mullah Omar is under Pakistani protection,” according to a State Department cable released last year by WikiLeaks.

More than half a dozen American officials I spoke with concurred that Omar is almost certainly in Pakistan and likely under some form of monitoring by the I.S.I., although they differed in their assessments of the extent of Pakistan’s control and influence. Their views range from a belief that Omar is essentially under house arrest to a judgment that he enjoys considerable freedom of movement and action within Pakistan. Omar has been able to travel occasionally between Karachi and Quetta, a Pakistani city in Baluchistan, near the Afghan border, according to the intelligence reporting available to American officials. The extent of I.S.I. influence over Omar has been a subject of recent discussion within the American intelligence community, the officials I spoke with indicated.

There is no question that the I.S.I. played a major role in funding and arming the Taliban during the movement’s rise to power in Afghanistan, in the nineteen-nineties, and maintained close contacts with Mullah Omar throughout that period. Pakistan’s military leaders saw the Taliban then as ameans of establishing a regime in Kabul that would be supportive of’Pakistan’s interests and hostile to its rival, India. After September 11th, Pakistan helped the United States overthrow Omar’s regime, but Pakistan allowed former Taliban leaders to take refuge on its soil. More recently, Pakistan’s security services have seemed to reinforce their ties to the Afghan Taliban leadership in anticipation of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. This could create a vacuum in the country, or a civil war in which the Taliban would be a party and Pakistan would be seeking influence. The U.S.- Pakistan relationship has so degenerated that it does not seem surprising that the Pakistani Army may be sheltering the commander of a guerrilla force that claimed the lives of more than four hundred American soldiers in Afghanistan in 2011, even as Pakistan accepted hundreds of millions of dollars of American aid.

The Taliban are a diverse movement. There are an estimated twenty-five thousand armed insurgents in Afghanistan, with differing degrees of loyalty to the Taliban. Mullah Omar is not the only influential leader. Last year, a United Nations unit that monitors sanctions on the Taliban, and is led by Richard Barrett, a former British intelligence officer, concluded that “while Mullah Ornar remains the titular head of the movement and has more authority than any other Taliban leader, his orders no longer determine the military campaign.” Jalaluddin Haqqani, a former C.I.A. ally turned anti-American warlord, runs a powerful militia known as the Haqqani network, based in North Waziristan; he is one of several important regional Taliban leaders whose forces operate independently of Omar’s authority. Mullah Abdul Qayyum Zakir, the Afghan Taliban’s over-all military commander, also enjoys substantial influence. After years of quietude and exile, Mullah Omar has less control over younger Taliban fighters. Front-line commanders are “not sure if he’s a free man,” Antonio Giustozzi, an Italian scholar who has written extensively about the Taliban’s evolution, said. “If he plays a role, it’s more like a moral figure overseeing the movement.”

Still, over the last decade Mullah Omar has issued voluminous instructions to his followers, and no other Taliban leader articulates the war’s cause as he does. That is why the Obama Administration regards him as a critical figure in its efforts to organize peace talks between the Taliban and the Karzai regime. “There was no doubt in our mind that, both symbolically and pragmatically, he held all the keys to unlocking the Taliban problem,” said Vali Nasr, who was, until last April, a senior adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department. “There is no legitimacy to a Taliban decision without him…. He is the Ho Chi Minh of the war.”

The late Presidential envoy Richard Holbrooke, for whom Nasr worked, started the Obama Administration’s effort to forge a political settlement with the Taliban. The work has continued under Holbrooke’s successor, Marc Grossman. This winter, the Karzai government and a Taliban spokesman publicly endorsed plans to open a new Taliban political office in Qatar, to aid negotiations. The hope is that, in addition to easing Afghanistan’s violence, talks might draw the Taliban away from Al Qaeda, diminishing the chance that it could ever reestablish itself in Afghanistan. Talks with Taliban middlemen who claim ro represent Mullah Omar have yet to produce a significant achievement, such as a ceasefire on the Afghan battlefield. The talks have, however, led Obama’s advisers to focus again on a man who disappeared from American foreign policy for much of the past decade. “I’ve come to the conclusion that Mullah Omar is still the big boss,” a senior Administration official told me. “All threads still lead back to him.”

The most credible sources on Omar’s biography date his birth to between 1959 and 1962, perhaps in a village outside Kandahar. It is better established that he spent his boyhood in nearby Uruzgan province, in the very poor district of Dehrawut. His Father, Maulvi Ghulam Nabi Akhund, was an itinerant teacher who instructed village boys in the Koran and received alms from their families. He died when Omar was very young, according to a detailed biography published by a jihadi magazine and to recent interviews with family members conducted by Gopal and Dam.

Omar’s widowed mother married Akhund’s brother, a common practice in rural Afghanistan. This uncle raised Omar; he, too, worked as a roving religious instructor in Uruzgan. He was “a domineering figure, by most accounts,” according to Gopal. The family owned no land or property, the jihadi biography reports. Omar grew into a tall, lean, dark-eyed young man with bushy black eyebrows and a thick beard.

He attended religious schools and then, by some accounts, moved to Kandahar as a teen-ager, during the nineteen-seventies. It was a period of relative tranquillity. The city’s youth were divided into “two strains,” Gopal said. Delinquents from aristocratic tribes, known as payluch, smoked hashish and acted with “privileged idleness.” The other strand of kids, the talibs, or religious students, “were from second-rung tribes who couldn’t afford to lollygag around and smoke hashish all day. They would congregate at mosques.” Omar belonged to their world.

After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, the payluch and the talibs mobilized separately as anti-Communist insurgents. Omar and his group fought credibly and persistently, but they did not rise to senior leadership in the rebellion. They were part of a network of fighters and religious judges who operated Islamic courts in rural areas of southern and eastern Afghanistan. The judges mediated disputes among rebel commanders, in an effort to keep everyone focussed on the Soviet enemy.

The Taliban tried to mark themselves off from other fighting groups. In a new book, “An Enemy We Created,” Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn draw on interviews with Omar’s former colleagues, writing, “Religious classes were offered for those not actively participating on the front lines …. They came across to other groups as more serious, more intense, or almost bookish.”

Kinship, friendship, and shared battlefield experiences tightened the bonds among Omar’s group. He was reportedly wounded in battle three times, the last while he served as a commander at Sangesar, a village to the west of’Kandahar. “The Russians pushed forward and soon we could see them from our trenches,” recalled Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, who later served as the Taliban’s ambassador to Pakistan, in a memoir. The area was “littered with bodies …. The battle turned into a hand-to-hand fight, with grenades flying over our heads.” The Russians lobbed in shells. Shrapnel struck Omar in the face and took out his right eye.

The Soviet forces pulled back. That night, the comrades held “a marvelous party,” and Omar, his face bandaged, sang a ghazal, or traditional poem, as Zaeef recalled it:

My illness is untreatable, oh, my flower-like friend

My life is difficult without you, my flower-like friend.

Omar received medical treatment in Pakistan. He also may once have attended a Pakistani training camp for anti-Soviet rebels, but there are no other records of him travelling outside Afghanistan during this time.

After the Soviet withdrawal, Omar retired to Sangesar to serve as the imam of a crumbling one-story mosque. He preached, taught, and raised a fumily. He had no political profile and displayed no ambition to acquire one. Kandahar was sliding into chaos, however. By 1994, former commanders of the anti-Soviet jihad had carved the city and neighboring districts into criminal fiefs. They ruled through brigands who operated highway checkpoints where they shook down civilians, and sometimes kidnapped them.

Taliban veterans formed a search committee to choose a man who could lead a challenge to the offenders. Zaeef argued for someone who had no political baggage. The committee arrived one evening at Omar’s home. One of’Omar’s wives had just given birth to a son; family and neighbors had gathered to recite Koranic verses. Zaeef and his colleagues joined in, stayed for dinner, and then asked for a moment with Omar after the other guests had departed.

“We told him that he had been proposed as a leader who could implement our plan,” Zaeef recalled. “He took a few moments to think after we had spoken and said nothing more for some time. This was one of Mullah Mohammad Omar’s common habits …. Finally he said that he agreed with our plan and that something needed to be done.”

Around this time, a warlord abducted and raped several young women near Sangesar. As the story goes, Omar and some fellow-veterans seized the accused man, executed him, and hung his corpse from a tank barrel. In a radio broadcast attributed to Omar and translated by a sympathetic Arab author, he remembered gathering some of his religious students in a circle and telling them:

The religion of Allah is being stepped on. The people are openly displaying evil. … They steal the people’s money, they attack their honor on the main street; they kill people and put them against the rocks on the side of the road, and the cars pass by and see the dead body… and no one dares to bury him in the earth…. It is not possible to continue studying in these situations, and those problems will not be solved by slogans that are not backed up. We, the students, want to stand up against this corruption.

The Taliban extended their vigilante campaign, and, by the end of 1994, Omar ruled Kandahar. The movement ultimately took power across Afghanistan with the aid of guns and money from Pakistan’s spy service, but from the start the promise of swift justice was Omar’s calling card. His relevance in Afghanistan today still arises in significant measure from the perception that the Taliban can deliver justice where other Afghan leaders have failed.

The Taliban “was the creation of a group” of war veterans, “not of oneman,” said Maulvi Qalamuddin, a former minister for the promotion of virtue and the prevention of vice in what was called the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. “But they admired Omar and chose him. Nobody was thinking at the time that this would grow so large.”

One of the few public spectacles recorded in Mullah Omar’s political life took place in the spring of 1996, several months before his movement took power in Kabul. Omar had organized a conference of about fifteen hundred Afghan religious scholars in Kandahar, to affirm the sanctity of his leadership. The Arnir arrived one day at a small mosque, downtown, surrounded by rosebushes. Inside, sealed within three boxes–one made of gold, one of wood, and one of steel–was Kandahar’s most famous religious relic, a cloak reputedly worn by the Prophet Muhammad. Political leaders displayed the cloak at rare moments of grave danger, to encourage prayers that might ward off drought or disease. Omar asked to borrow the garment. He carried it to a campaign-style rally that his advisers had organized on Kandahar’s outskirts.

“We helped Mullah Omar to take the cloak out, but he did not use it the way we wanted,” recalled Mullah Masood Akhundzada, the cleric who is today charged with the cloak’s safekeeping. At the rally, from a rooftop, Omar waved the relic in the air before a large crowd of men. At one point, he wrapped the cloak across his shoulders. The convention of scholars sealed his coronation by declaring that henceforth he would be known as the Amir ul-Momineen, the Leader of the Faithful, a title assumed periodically by powerful leaders in Islamic history. More than fifteen years later, Omar still signs his published statements as the “Servant of Islam and Leader of the Faithful.”

“Mullah Omar himself is a simple person,” Akhundzada said, when we met one afternoon at a large madrassa he runs not far from the mosque. He served green tea and cans of Red Bull. Akhundzada is a portly man with a quick laugh and the energy of a natural entrepreneur; his family has made a living for centuries from endowments raised to protect the Prophet’s cloak. “He is not a deep religious figure. He is controlled by others. They’ve made him into a big figure, but he’s not really a hard-liner. He’s being used.” It irked him that Omar had used the Prophet’s cloak, a pure symbol of faith, to attract a big crowd to his rally, in order to consolidate political power. “If he had not had the cloak, he would not have had a crowd,” he said.

Omar staged horrific spectacles of public punishment in Afghanistan after the Taliban took national power. The stoning of adulterers, the amputation of thieves’ hands, and the executions before excited crowds in stadiums shocked the country’s traditional political elites. Many of those families and military leaders came from Afghanistan’s Persian- and Turkic-influenced north or were educated internationally. The Taliban are mainly Pashtuns, an ethnic group that makes up about half of Afghanistan’s population, who live primarily in the south and east. The justice that Omar enforced played best in Pashtun agricultural villages such as those dotting the river valleys around Kandahar. In many of these places, illiteracy has been entrenched for decades; the education of boys has often taken place in small religious schools; and girls have long been consigned to segregation and subjugation. Omar “had a rural mind,” a former senior officeholder in the Taliban government told me. The Amir and his key advisers did not attend any of the great international schools of Islamic jurisprudence, such as Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, where global Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood incubated. They were “cut off, religiously and politically,” the former officeholder said. They were “traditionalist people, not revolutionary people.”

Osama bin Laden arrived in Afghanistan from Sudan in May of 1996. He met Omar for the first time that autumn. Bin Laden moved his family to Kandahar, pledged loyalty to the Amir, accepted Taliban hospitality, and began to organize training camps. Over the next several years, the Taliban’s brutal punishments and Al Qaeda’s international terrorist attacks transformed Mullah Omar into a role he hadn’t prepared for: a global pariah.

The Amir was “a very calm man,” recalled Habibullah Fouzi, a former Taliban ambassador to Saudi Arabia, but he “insisted on solving every problem in light of Sharia,” or Islamic law. “He was very determined,” Fouzi said, but “he did not know the outside world.”

Omar was never a self-denying zealot; he listened to music occasionally, even as his regime enforced bans on public music concerts and the sale of tapes and CDs. As allowed by Islamic tradition, he had four wives and fathered many children, some of whom are presumed to still live with him. He held meetings in sparsely furnished rooms at the Governor’s House in Kandahar or at his home, where he might sit on the edge of a cot while his visitors sat cross-legged on the carpeted floor. He refused to meet with almost all non-Muslim emissaries, but he made exceptions; a Spanish-born envoy of the United Nations met Omar once, as did a Chinese ambassador. During his rule, the Taliban destroyed ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan because Omar regarded the stone imagery as idolatry.

Pervez Musharraf, the Pakistani Army chief who seized power in 1999 and tried to coax the Taliban toward moderation, found Omar to be a frustrating ally. “How do you negotiate with such a man?” Musharraf wrote later in a memoir. “He was (and still is) caught in a time warp, detached from reality.”

Omar’s former colleagues describe him as a good listener who rarely interrupted others during meetings, but when Prince Turki al-Faisal, then Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, flew to Kandahar to plead with Omar to turn in bin Laden, the Taliban leader “stalked out in fury,” according to Musharraf” s version of the story; variations of the meeting have been recounted by others. The Amir came back “a few minutes later, his hair dripping with water, his shirt and sleeves drenched.” Omar declared, “I went into the other room and poured cold water on my head to cool off. If you had not been my guest 1would have done something dire to you.” Negotiating with the Amir, Musharraf recalled, was “like banging one’s head against a wall.”

Decimated by two decades of war, isolated by international economic sanctions and indifference, the Afghan state over which the Taliban ruled during the late nineteen-nineties was primeval. Omar rarely left Kandahar, and communicated by letter and courier. While making and explaining his decisions, he sometimes mentioned his dreams. Militias under Omar’s command burned villages and murdered civilians during campaigns in Bamiyan province, the heartland of Afghanistan’s Shia population, and on the Shomali Plains, north of Kabul. Drought led to famine in some parts of the country. Taliban police conscripted boys for war against northern anti-Taliban militias and banned girls from schools. Omar accepted international food and medical aid and allowed United Nations humanitarian-relief operations, but he imposed strictures that limited their effectiveness.

Omar lived for a time in a large home on a busy road in Kandahar. In August of 1999, an unknown group drove a truck bomb to his gate and set off a massive explosion. Omar escaped, but one of his sons died. It was after this attack that bin Laden and other Arab supporters funded Omar’s new residential palace, with its less than ascetic decorative touches.

In Washington, intelligence officers puzzled over Omar’s relationship with bin Laden. “Eventually, we came to believe that Al Qaeda, if anything, had co-opted the Taliban leadership and had taken advantage of their stunning ignorance of world affairs,” Henry Crumpton, who was an operations officer at the C.I.A.’s counterterrorism center at the time, told me. Bin Laden swore formal allegiance to the Amir; the Saudi’s money and his deferential cultivation of Mullah Omar allowed Al Qaeda to use Taliban territory as a base for international violence, but Omar did not necessarily understand how the United States and Europe might react. “We found him to be not very charismatic, not very smart, although he was first among equals,” Crumpton said.

Strick van Linschoten and Kuehn, from their interviews with former Taliban leaders, found it difficult to arrive “at any firm conclusion” about whether Omar was informed in advance about the September 11th attacks. The authors couldn’t rule out the possibility, but they judged it “doubtful.”

They interviewed a senior Taliban leader who said, referring to bin Laden, “The Taliban advised him that he should not misuse Afghan soil and that he should control himself; it would make Mullah Mohammad Omar upset …. But he’d go ahead and do it anyway and then come and promise not to do it again. But then it would happen another time. Keeping bin Laden was, for the Taliban, like tending to a fire.”

After 9/11, the United States announced its intention to destroy the Taliban government if Omar did not turn bin Laden over to America. “I told him America would definitely attack,” Zaeef recalled. But, in the Amir’s assessment, “there was less than a ten percent chance that America would resort to anything beyond threats.”

When it became clear that he was wrong, Omar told his colleagues, according to a former Taliban leader, “You just care about your posts and your money, your ministries, but I don’t care about mine. My position is bigger than yours, but I don’t care about it. … I am ready to lose my leadership, but not to hand over Osama to the Americans or send him to another country.”

American commanders tried to kill Omar several times late in 2001. In one case, the C.I.A.’s operations center reported that it had tracked what “could be” Omar’s “personal vehicle” in a convoy outside Kandahar, according to Tommy Franks, the American general who then led Central Command. Franks wrote in a memoir that at his headquarters, near Tampa, while feeling a “rush of adrenaline,” he took charge of a drone carrying Hellfire missiles and two Navy F/A-18 Hornet jets armed with five-hundred-pound bombs. He tracked the Taliban convoy, hoping that the vehicles would stop moving. If they did, he calculated the chances of a successful strike would rise from about thirty per cent to ninety per cent. The convoy halted once, but the attack planes weren’t ready. Later, the vehicles stopped again, and the men inside, including at least one who appeared to be a leader, entered a large building. Franks prepared to bomb it, but a C.I.A. officer declared, “Don’t shoot. We think this building is a mosque,” which would make it a target to avoid under rules of engagement issued by President George W. Bush.

“I clenched my fists and swore silently,” Franks recalled. By the time he ordered the attack, having concluded that the building he had in his sights was a permissible target, the men he was after–whoever they were–had already departed, and he had lost the trail.

On another occasion, Zaeef believes, American intelligence tracked his satellite phone as he travelled to a meeting with Omar; bombs just missed him. In the final days of Taliban control over Kandahar, a strike against Omar’s residential palace killed another of his sons, but just missed the Amir, according to the recent research by Gopal and Dam. By the end of 2001, when anti-Taliban militias supported by the C.I.A. had taken full control of Kabul and Kandahar, Omar had escaped.

Mullah Omar’s whereabouts remained an official “tasking” for intelligence collection after the fall of the Taliban, but he was no longer a pressing priority. American intelligence agencies and Special Forces teams in Afghanistan focussed mainly on capturing and killing Al Qaeda’s international volunteers. “Yes, we were very interested in him, and, yes, we would have liked to have found him, but I don’t think we were getting a lot of traction” after 2002, recalled John McLaughlin, who was then the C.I.A.’s deputy director. “The attraction of going after Al Qaeda was just so great. The Taliban at that point did not appear to be a lethal threat.”

“Sadly, in terms of our policy, I don’t think we thought much about them at all.” Crumpton, who led the C.I.A.’s campaign in Afghanistan in late 2001, recalled, “We killed a lot of them, many thousands of them, including some of the key leaders. They were whipped. What was left did melt away locally. The senior guys went into Pakistan.”

Omar kept a very low profile. By some accounts, he appeared at a mosque in Quetta, Pakistan, in 2003, stirring local excitement. By then, the Bush Administration was bogged down in Iraq, and its “perspective on Mullah Omar at that time was ‘He’s done. He got beat. He got run out of town,’” recalled Tom Lynch, a retired Army colonel who served as a military adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul in 2004. “Even though he’s not dead and buried, the Pakistanis said they’re taking care of it.”

Gradually, it became clear that they weren’t. Afghanistan’s intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security, placed agents inside Taliban-exile circles in Pakistan; their reports, as well as intelligence collected directly by the United States, showed that, by 2004, Omar had reorganized the Taliban’s military and political command from inside Pakistan. Omar prepared annual strategy documents to map his plans for a revived insurgency and to communicate those plans to followers. By 2006, aggressive Taliban units had infiltrated Kandahar and Helmand. There was increasing evidence that Omar was back in active command, with I.S.I. support.

Afghanistan’s intelligence service reported to the United States that, around 2005 or 2006, Omar had received “up to thirty million dollars from Pakistan” to fund the Taliban’s refurbishment and recruitment of fighters, according to a former official who read the reporting. “Mullah Omar was given money so that people could see him in charge again,” the former official recalled. “Omar is not Khomeini. Mullah Omar is not Che Guevara …. For Mullah Omar to be valid, to be relevant,” he needed to be able to fund the Taliban’s payroll. According to research by Giustozzi, the Taliban may also have reactivated private donor networks of sympathetic businessmen and religious charities in the Persian Gulf.

In 2007, Vice-President Dick Cheney visited Pakistan and pressured Musharraf’s government to crack down on the Taliban. During the trip, security forces arrested Mullah Obaidullah, a close adviser to Omar who had served as the Islamic Emirate’s defense minister. Obaidullah “had a location document” with an address listing his house number and city district in Quetta, another former official said. “He’d obviously been issued that by the I.S.I. or the Army” as a form of identification.

Around this time, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked David Kilcullen, an Australian specialist in counterinsurgency, to assess the Taliban’s resurgence. Kilcullen initially assumed that the Afghan intelligence reports that the I.S.I. was “running the war” were just “a convenient excuse,” he said, to deflect attention from the mounting problems within Karzai’s government, such as widespread corruption and weak administration.

Kilcullen came to conclude that Pakistan was “actually on the other side” of the war in Afghanistan, but he found this was “an extremely unpopular point of view” inside the Bush Administration, which remained committed to counterterrorism and strategic military partnership with Pakistan’s security services. When Kilcullen offered his opinion at one interagency meeting, “people laughed at me,” he recalled.

Pervez Musharraf denied adamantly that Pakistan had anything to do with the Taliban’s revitalization. The I.S.I. is a “disciplined service staffed by seasoned military officers who follow my orders,” Musharraf told Nancy Pelosi, then the Speaker of the House, early in 2007, according to a cable published by WikiLeaks. The accusation that the I.S.I.was sheltering Mullah Omar was inaccurate, Musharraf added. “I do not believe Omar has ever been to Pakistan,” he said.

When President Obama ordered more troops to be deployed in Afghanistan, his advisers analyzed Mullah Omar’s role in the war. On a Saturday in February of 2010, I met Richard Holbrooke for lunch at Washington’s Four Seasons Hotel. I asked him about the Taliban’s leadership.

“I think Mullah Omar is incredibly important,” Holbrooke replied. “The more I look at this thing, the more I think he is a driving, inspirational force whose capture or elimination would have a material effect.”

I asked if he believed he could negotiate a viable peace agreement with Omar.

“I don’t think we can negotiate with Mullah Omar, personally,” he said. “That’s why I think eliminating Mullah Omar is so critical. Right now, if you could choose between Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden, I personally would lean toward Mullah Omar.”

Holbrooke died ten months later. Last spring, the Obama Administration located and killed Osama bin Laden at a compound near Pakistan’s leading military academy, in the town of Abbottabad. The circumstances in which bin Laden was found suggest that he might have enjoyed support from elements of the Pakistani security services, although no proof of this has surfaced.

American officials tend to credit reports that Mullah Omar may be under I.S.I. protection or monitoring, in part because of the history of Pakistan’s support for the Taliban. To Pakistan’s nationalistic generals, Mullah Omar’s religious extremism may be distasteful, but Taliban influence in Pashtun areas of Afghanistan has nonetheless served Pakistan’s cause against India. The generals fear that India will use economic aid and political support for Afghanistan to encircle Pakistan, establish consulates and business outposts, and use these to funnel aid to separatist groups such as those fighting to achieve independence for the Pakistani province of Baluchistan. The Taliban offer a counterforce in this proxy struggle. Since 2007, Pakistani Taliban have been in revolt against the Army and have sought to establish a revolutionary Islamic regime in the country, and the situation has become more complex. Influencing the Taliban, and directing their attention away from Pakistan and toward Afghanistan, has also become, for the generals, a matter of self-preservation.

“With Mullah Omar, the Pakistanis are in a better position to control the Taliban,” Vali Nasr, Holbrooke’s former adviser, said. “He’s such a pivot person. If you have him, if you hold him, you control the whole organization.”

During the past several years, in exploratory peace talks with the Karzai government and the Obama Administration, a number of Taliban figures have claimed to speak for Omar and to have his blessing. During 2011, the most active negotiator with the United States and European governments was Tayyib Agha, who worked as a translator and aide to Omar during the late Islamic Emirate period, and who is now seen as a credible if junior figure in the Taliban’s political councils in Pakistan.

Obama’s advisers hold differing opinions about the prospects for negotiations. Some believe that the Taliban remain committed to taking full power and will use the negotiations only to win prisoner releases and buy time. Others hope that negotiations might produce ceasefires or divide Taliban leaders. The most ambitious vision is of a settlement eventually embraced by Karzai’s government, Pakistan, and NATO in which a large section of the Taliban would convert into a peaceful political party, to stand in elections, take seats in parliament, and perhaps share in regional administration of Taliban strongholds in the south and east.

As for Omar, although the most hopeful advocates of the peace process think he might eventually endorse a settlement, it is very doubtful that the Afghan public would accept Omar’s return to major office. A dignified retirement or exile might entice him, however. “He is one person–he is not a problem,” Arsala Rahmani, the former Taliban official who now works in the High Peace Council, said. “We could send him to Mecca, and he could participate each year in the hajj.” Nor does it seem likely that an outright Taliban military victory will restore Omar’s rule, certainly not until after 2014, when American troops are scheduled to reduce their presence to an advisory role in support of Afghan troops. Even then, Afghan forces may be able to keep the Taliban out of Kabul and other major cities.

One interlocutor for Omar who has attracted considerable attention from the Karzai government and the Obama Administration is Abdul Ghani Baradar. He knew Omar when they were boys in Uruzgan, and they fought together during the nineteen-eighties. Baradar was deputy chief of the armed forces when the Taliban controlled Afghanistan, and was regarded as one of the movement’s more competent leaders. Baradar has long been inside the circles of personal trust that have characterized the Taliban’s leadership. Baradar is from the royalty-tinged Popalzai tribe, the same tribe as Karzai. (Omar is a member of the less prominent Hotak tribe.) Baradar engaged in sporadic reconciliation talks with Karzai’s government until 2010. Early that year, Pakistan’s security services arrested Baradar outside Karachi. Since then, he has been held in a Pakistani prison, reportedly near the capital of Islamabad.

The Karzai government believes that the I.S.I. detained Baradar in order to stop him from negotiating independently for a possible political settlement, on behalf of Mullah Omar. Some officials in the Obama Administration share this belief, and, at the request of the Karzai regime, they have been trying to help extract Baradar from Pakistani detention. While pursuing this strategy, the Obama Administration has also tried to reassure Pakistan’s Army that its interests would be addressed during any negotiations.

In Pakistan, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Army chief and a former I.S.I. director, is the key decision-maker on matters involving Afghanistan. Last summer, in Islamabad, Kayani met with American officials and posed a number of questions about how they might carry out talks with Taliban leaders living in Pakistan, according to individuals familiar with the exchange. One of Kayani’s questions was: Who, exactly, among the Taliban’s leaders, did the United States believe would be eligible to make a deal with Kabul? Kayani’s other questions concerned the timing, sequencing, and roles for different governments in any full-blown peace process.

Last fall, Tom Donilon, Obama’s national-security adviser, and Marc Grossman flew to Abu Dhabi, to meet with Kayani. Grossman transmitted a white paper that attempted to address some of the general’s questions, according to officials familiar with the document. Grossman and Donilon made two requests: They asked that Pakistan issue a public statement urging the Taliban to join peace negotiations with the Afghan government, and they asked Kayani to release Mullah Baradar from prison, so that Baradar could return to Afghanistan.

Kayani has so far declined the appeals. The sinking relations between the United States and Pakistan reached another low in November, after American aircraft mistakenly killed Pakistani soldiers in an incident along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

The Obama Administration refers to its own policy as “fight and talk.” The American government currently offers a ten-million-dollar reward for information leading to the discovery of Mullah Omar’s location; Omar remains subject to targeting by missile attack or bombing under the laws of war, Administration officials said.

Yet, at the same time, the Administration is urging Pakistan to propose a system of safe passage and security guarantees under which other senior Taliban leaders presumed to be living in Pakistan might travel to the proposed new Taliban political office in Qatar. Under such a system of safe passage, the Afghan government would recommend specific individuals for special treatment; the United States would agree not to target them as enemy commanders. Another concern is how the Taliban leaders’ families would be given guarantees of protection from Pakistani retaliation if the leaders took negotiating positions that Pakistan did not like. The families of Taliban leaders living in Pakistan depend on its government for security, travel documents, access to schools, and licenses to run businesses. Taliban leaders do not want to negotiate with the United States and the Karzai government in circumstances where Pakistan might use these dependencies to coerce their decision-making.

Kayani, for his part, has told his American counterparts that he is confused about whether the Obama Administration wants Mullah Omar alive or dead. One former Administration official said that, among President Obama’s advisers, “there just wasn’t agreement about the answer.”

One morning in Kandahar, I drove to Sarposa Prison, which lies along the Herat highway. It is a vast facility with high, mud-brick walls topped by razor wire. Shabby motorcycle-repair shops and tea stalls face its entrance. When I arrived, Afghan security forces were hoisting a flag above a sandbagged bunker on the roof of one shop. The bunker, it turned out, guarded the entrance to an escape tunnel that the Taliban had dug last year under Sarposa’s walls. The conspirators chiselled for five months and freed about five hundred Taliban commanders and fighters.

Inside, I found the deputy warden, Colonel Nawroz Rahmani, in a whitewashed building situated in a dirt courtyard. Rahmani is a career Army officer; as we talked, he sounded dispirited by his assignment.

After the Taliban prisoners’ escape, he said, the prison had quickly filled up again. It now held more than twelve hundred criminals and Taliban suspects, more than twice the number it was intended to accommodate. To sleep, prisoners pack themselves side by side on concrete floors. The overcrowding reflected Kandahar’s reviving crime problem, Rahmani said, but also the failures of the local court system. “The judges and the prosecutors can’t handle the cases,” he said, and each week more prisoners arrive than are sent to trial or released on parole. “We have sent our requests to the director of prisons in Kandahar, listing the problems we are facing,” he said. They had received no reply.

Cases clog Kandahar’s dockets because often the only way to resolve them is to pay bribes; those who cannot afford the payments languish at Sarposa. The Karzai-appointed judiciary in Kandahar recruits “people who have master’s degrees in corruption,” a veteran practitioner in the system told me. “They don’t want professional prosecutors and justices. They want people who will send back income to Kabul.”

Since 2001, American military commanders and aid officials have often declared that their goal is the establishment of “the rule of law” in Afghanistan. The reality in Kandahar has been that “the justice system either was too weak to protect people from predatory behavior by the powerful, or was predatory itself,” wrote Shafiullah Afghan, a former adviser to the United Nations, in a recently published survey of the region’s courts and prosecutors.

The biannual essays issued under Mullah Omar’s name emphasize corruption and injustice–problems that echo the grievances that brought the Taliban to power. Last year, the Amir instructed Taliban commanders and mediators:

If you receive any report about a given person, first, make a meticulous investigation about him. Never harass people on the basis of fake and biased reports…. When you face a common man, think as if you were a commoner in his place, and as if you had no weapon…. No one affiliated with the Islamic Emirate is allowed to extort money from people by force…. Protection of life and property is one of the main goals of the jihad.

Taliban insurgents and suicide bombers are today responsible for three-quarters of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan’s war, and Taliban assassins often strike their victims with little due process, so Omar’s injunctions ring hollow to many of his Afghan opponents. Yet his calls retain some credibility in Kandahar and surrounding districts. The Taliban still operate mobile courts in many rural areas in the south and east. “Even now, people who take their cases to them are afraid of them,” the veteran of the justice system told me. Yet the Taliban’s proceedings to resolve civil matters, such as land disputes and inheritance claims, are “cheaper, faster and stronger” than anything provided by the Karzai government, Shafiullah Afghan wrote in his recent survey:

In the Taliban system, no bribes are accepted or needed. In the government system, hundreds of sentences are pronounced without ever being executed; in the Taliban system, decisions are always enforced without delay.

Mullah Akhundzada, the guardian of the Prophet’s cloak in Kandahar, told me, “There are very few” who join the Taliban because of religious ideas. Most of the people who join are under pressure. Where the Taliban take influence over areas, the people in those areas really have no choice but to join. Also, people don’t like the government. It’s not a trusted, worthy government. There is corruption. There is no governance here.”

The surge of American troops into Kandahar over the last year has improved local security. The Taliban are still able to mount spectacular attacks, but their day-to-day influence in the city is limited. Many Kandaharis are doubtful, however, that these gains will be sustained once American soldiers pull back. The gains in local security have been periodically undermined. Last week, the Pentagon acknowledged that U.S. marines in southern Afghanistan were shown in a video urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters–another in a series of heavily publicized allegations of abuse by NATO forces.

“People are afraid,” Akhundzada told me. The Taliban “can kill you as you are walking down the street, and no one will punish them. All these explosions–with children killed–and no one is ever arrested, tried, or executed. For the last ten years, the United States, Canada, and other powers have not been able to defeat the Taliban,” he said. “People now believe the Taliban are unbeatable.”

If the Taliban outlast NATO’s presence in Afghanistan, their ambition to rule again could engender a wider civil conflict in the country, which would pit ethnic militias from the north against the Taliban in a revival of the devastating war of the nineteen-nineties. Such a conflict would likely spill into Pakistan, further destabilizing that country. To prevent such an outcome, Obama has been drawn into a seemingly near hopeless project–talking indirectly to a man with a ten-million-dollar bounty on his head, whose intransigence during negotiations a decade ago led to the initial American intervention. The obstacles are daunting: Pakistan seems determined to bide its time, and may undermine the reconciliation process; Karzai’s government has shown no ability to fashion negotiating breakthroughs, despite several years of trying; and the Taliban have yet to offer a single compelling compromise.

The Administration has limited resources and domestic political support to expend on Afghanistan. One danger is that it will substitute the long-shot diplomacy of reconciliation talks with Omar and his closest aides for the step-by- step, messier effort to build more inclusive, less corrupt power sharing among the many Afghans who oppose the Taliban–work that is already hard enough.

Yet the Taliban are an indigenous movement, and the grievances they exploit are widely held among Pashtuns. Even where negotiations to end insurgencies don’t yield a decisive agreement, they nonetheless can reduce violence, spur important defections, or favorably change the contours of a war by altering guerrilla alignments. The case of international talks to reduce the Darfur conflict is an example of such a partial success. Even the most ardent guerrilla leaders sometimes reach a time in middle age when hurtling into battle in a pickup truck while dodging enemy bombers loses its appeal. Although it is difficult to imagine Mullah Omar ever travelling to a five-star hotel in Qatar to negotiate with American diplomats, the lures of legitimacy and political influence may eventually tempt others in the Taliban’s aging leadership. In the Afghan war, in any event, the United States ran out of attractive options a long time ago.

Night after night, raids by American Special Forces target midlevel Taliban commanders for death or arrest. The raids have fragmented the leadership. The loss of veteran commanders and the imprisonment of established leaders such as Mullah Baradar have contributed to disunity in the Taliban’s upper ranks, according to Gopal and other researchers with extensive Taliban contacts. The culling of Taliban field commanders may also reduce the odds that a credible, unified Taliban leadership could ever enter into a political settlement with the Kabul government. With Omar and other historical Taliban leaders in hiding, “today’s Taliban is immature young people,” as Qalamuddin, the former Islamic Emirate minister, put it.

One afternoon, I drove out to a Kandahar compound that has been used to house Taliban field commanders who have defected to the Karzai regime. In a one-story house with dirt floors, where flies swirled in air perfumed by hashish smoke, I found Haji Toorjan, a young Taliban leader from Arghandab, a district on Kandahar’s northwestern outskirts.

Toorjan told me that he had joined the Taliban when he had no beard. He said he was now twenty-six. He defected last year with about two dozen other soldiers. Afghanistan’s intelligence service publicized his decision as an indicator that momentum in the south was swinging Karzai’s way.

Toorjan said that he now regrets his choice. The Karzai administration has not fulfilled promises to provide him and his men with security, jobs, and income. In the meantime, the Taliban have targeted some of his relatives in Arghandab for revenge killings. American forces have detained other relatives, he complained.

Tacked to the mud walls of Toorjan’s hut were a dozen color posters depicting prosperous city streets, pristine Swiss chalets, and large suburban American homes with mowed lawns. From where we sat, the photographs looked like science fiction. “My friends put these up, to raise our morale,” T oorjan told me. “I don’t have any hope in my life. I don’t know how many days 1will be alive…. I don’t know why I came. Maybe my brain was not working.”

As we talked, Toorjan chain-smoked. I asked if he still felt personal loyalty to Mullah Omar. He said that he did. “He is honest and he has unblemished faith. When he makes promises to us, he keeps his word. Mullah Mohammad Omar is doing better with government people who surrender to the Taliban than the government here is doing with people who surrender to it.”

I wondered if he thought Omar might forgive him if he now returned to fight again on the Taliban’s side. Toorjan replied that he did not think the Amir’s magnanimity would extend that far. “If I go there,” he said, “my head will be taken from me.”

Posted by 


A Dagger At Pakistan’s Heart

A dagger at the heart

Virgil, one of the greatest poets of ancient Rome, affirmed the dictum spiritus intus alit (“the spirit nourishes from within”) in his masterpiece, Aeneid. This simple but profound statement stimulated thought through the course of history and became of pivotal importance in man’s great adventure of self-discovery. In time it gained acceptance as a verity and was adopted in the early nineteenth century by England’s prestigious Clifton College as its motto and, more than a hundred years later, by the Inverurie Academy of Scotland. This was because the maxim implied that it is the “universal mind,” or God, that pervades and animates each earthly soul as it strives to acquire knowledge.

No religion is more emphatic about this than Islam. The gradual “step by step” process of revelation of the Quran, spanning 23 years, began with the exhortation: “Read in the name of thy Sustainer …Who has taught (man) the use of the pen, taught man what he did not know.” The emphasis is that it is humankind alone that has been gifted the unique ability to read and write. Knowledge thus acquired is to be transmitted, verbally and through written records, from individual to individual, generation to generation and from one cultural environment to another.

But education is rejected by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and is anathema to their religion. It is not Islam that they follow but a creed that mandates the destruction of seats of learning particularly those for girls. Within weeks of the TTP takeover of Swat 180 girls’ schools were torched, some 900 private schools were closed indefinitely by their administrators and it became uncertain whether an estimated 125,000 females would ever be able to acquire education.

The former TTP spokesman, Muslim Khan, declared that schools for girls would not be allowed because: “they are being run under a system introduced by the British and promote obscenity and vulgarity.” The actual reason was the fear that education would not only expose their false religion but also make the people, as Lord Brougham said two centuries earlier, “impossible to enslave.”

This was proved by the courage of 13-year-old Malala Yusufzai who was nominated for the International Peace Prize for children by a Dutch organisation. She witnessed the death and devastation wrought by the TTP in Swat but refused to be intimidated. Using the pen name “Gul Makai” she wrote fearlessly about the atrocities, about the public hangings and beheadings, about the destruction of educational institutions and about the desperate plight of her people. It was with difficulty that the South African Nobel laureate, Bishop Desmond Tutu, controlled his emotions when he announced that Malala was one of the nominees for the award.

The same savagery was in evidence in the Bajaur Agency which was under the control of the Taliban from 2007 to 2009. The immediate outcome was the destruction of 91 out of Bajaur’s 616 schools and an estimated 24,000 students were unable to pursue their studies. Here again a brave little girl spoke up when others were terrorised into silence. Sheema Bibi, a 5th grader at the Government Girls’ Primary School, Nawa Killey, publicly said: “We are heading toward the Stone Age as the Taliban have snatched schools from us. We condemn the Taliban for targeting schools.”

The statistics compiled by the Society for the Protection of the Rights of the Child reveal that countrywide 432 schools, including 287 for girls, have been blown up and 566 educational institutions have been targeted since 2007. The trend has continued this year. On Jan 10, the Government High School in Nadir Shah Kili of the Khyber Agency was bombed and the same day a girls’ school was razed to the ground in the Matani area of Peshawar. Twenty-four hours later a primary school for girls was destroyed in Swabi.

The assault on the ramparts of learning is integral to the TTP strategy of controlling the minds of people. The reduction of academic institutions to rubble and debris is considered essential for the propagation of their rejectionist worldview based on the distortion of religious tenets and enforced through unbridled violence. In this they are hand-in-glove with Al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban. The three groups constitute a triangle of terror and are mutually supportive. They have been coordinating with each other regularly in order to chalk out a common strategy aimed at imposing their rule in the region.

The TTP was formally announced after 13 militant outfits united under the leadership of Baitullah Mehsud in December 2007. On Aug 25, 2008, Pakistan banned the group and from late December to early January 2009 the first TTP-Al Qaeda-Afghan Taliban coordination meeting was held. The Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, sent Abdullah Zakir, a former Guantanamo Bay inmate, to persuade the TTP factions to set aside their differences in order to combat the American presence in Afghanistan.

This resulted in an agreement between Baitullah Mehsud, Hafiz Gul Bahadur and Maulvi Nazir to establish the Shura Ittehad-ul-Mujahideen and the three TTP leaders circulated a one-page pamphlet in February 2009 announcing their decision to unite in a joint onslaught against the US-led forces in Afghanistan. They also pledged fealty to Mullah Omar and Osama bin Laden. However shortly afterwards the Shura collapsed and hostilities between the TTP factions resumed.

Recently, at a meeting organized by the Afghan Taliban on Dec 11 in the Datta Khel area of North Waziristan, Abu Yahya al-Libi, a senior Al-Qaeda commander, bluntly told the TTP: “For God’s sake, forget all your differences and give us fighters to boost the battle against America in Afghanistan.” This demonstrated yet again the symbiotic relationship between the three groups who had also met earlier on Nov 27 in Wana, South Waziristan.

Prominent among the Pakistani militants who participated in the two meetings were the TTP chief, Hakimullah Mehsud, his deputy, Waliur Rehman, as well as Maulvi Nazir and Hafiz Gul Bahadur. The Afghan side was represented by Sirajuddin Haqqani whose network is one of the most feared groups in Afghanistan, and the main spokesman of the so-called Quetta shura, Zabiullah Mujahid, and Maulvi Sangin.

The outcome of the meetings was that the four Pakistani commanders and Haqqani argeed to form yet another council to resolve their differences. As a follow up a pamphlet was again distributed by the North Waziristan-based militants which stated: “All jihadi forces have jointly, on the recommendation of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, formed a five-member council which will be known as the Shura Muraqba.”

The communiqué also called upon the Pakistani militants to coordinate with each other and “avoid unwarranted kidnappings for ransom. If any holy warrior is found involved in an unjustified murder or crime, he will be answerable to the committee and could face punishment.” Despite this declaration of pious intent, the TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan was quick to announce: “We will continue our jihad against Pakistani security forces.” Shortly afterwards 15 kidnapped Frontier Constabulary personnel were murdered and earlier this week a video of the gruesome event was circulated by the TTP.

On Jan 3 reports emerged that Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman were at each other’s throats again and this was confirmed by a senior TTP commander who said: “You will soon hear that one of them has eliminated the other.” A week later the unsubstantiated claim that Mehsud was killed in a drone strike was doing the rounds.

The correct facts will eventually surface but what cannot be denied is that the TTP, the Afghan Taliban and post-Osama Al-Qaeda have fractured. This needs to be exploited through a concerted effort to widen the differences between and within each group. Terrorism is the foremost threat to Pakistan and is like a dagger at its heart.

Email: iftimurshed@gmail.com

Plan B for Afghanistan, the One for a Second Civil War

Representative Dana Rohrabacher, R-CA–Co-Sponsors:  Rep. Louis Gohmert [R, TX-1] ; Rep. Steve King [R, IA-5]

H.Res.529 – Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the United States should not consider releasing Taliban prisoners, Abdul Haq Wasiq, Mullah Norullah Noori, Mullah Mohammed Fazl, and Mullah Khairullah Khairkhwa, from prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until Mullah Muhammed Omar has been turned over to United States custody.

A Katanga Scenario for Afghanistan? (amended)

by: Thomas Ruttig

Afghanistan Analysts Network (AAN)

When former Northern Alliance leaders met with a group of influential US congressmen and businessmen in Berlin in early January, the meeting made a lot of waves in Kabul, because it created the impression that a broad anti-Karzai alliance was in the making and that it had started to muster support in the US. Furthermore, the meeting’s participants released a press statement demanding the decentralisation of the country. Kabul reacted with accusations of anti-constitutional activities. AAN’s Thomas Ruttig, who was in Berlin (but not at this meeting), looks at the context: anti-Karzai alliance building, the heated Afghan discussion about decentralisation, federalism and even ‘division of the country’. He starts even to wonder to what extent a Somalia or even a Katanga-type scenario* – a mineral resources-induced partition – might emerge, if this alliance were to develop.

 

  Iron red landscape

A necessary addition to the following blog (20 January):

There were two conferences organised by the (German branch) of the Aspen Institute in Berlin recently.

The first one took place on 9 January and it brought together three or four Afghan leaders, four US Congress members and few US businessmen. No one from AAN participated in this or contributed to it (or was even aware of it until after it was over). But because of the controversial issues discussed there – for example suggestions to decentralise Afghanistan – and later published in a press statement (the only official part of this conference was a small press conference to which – it seems – only hand-picked journalists were invited), this is the one I am reporting about below.

The second conference took place on 10 and 11 January, in the same Berlin hotel. It was co-organised by Aspen and the German Konrad Adenauer Foundation. It brought together a number of academia, analysts and politicians from different countries, among them from Afghanistan – but none of the Afghans leaders who had participated or contributed to the first conference (Mssrs. Zia Massud, Dostum, Mohaqqeq and Saleh) were there; one of the US congressmen was. Its results will be published, and written contributions to it are already available online.

This includes a paper which I have been asked to write about possible post-2014 scenarios and which is among those available online. This is a work of analysis, not of preferences. (Although I call the scenario of a partition of Afghanistan a ‘freak scenario’ and dangerous there.)

After having been informed about the character of the first conference, I clearly stated at the second conference that issues that concern the political system in Afghanistan and possible changes to it need to be discussed, but decisions about this are the prerogative of Afghans only. Foreigners should keep out from making even recommendations. The same statement you will find in my blog below.

 

Original text continues:

There are probably few people in Afghanistan and outside who would disagree with the analysis coming out of the Berlin meeting of four Afghan leaders and four US Congress members. The statement signed after it and presented at a press conference on 9 January (find its full text at the bottom and here and see a picture of it here) calls Afghanistan’s present political system ‘dysfunctional because all the power is centralised’, criticised the Karzai government’s ‘incompetence and corruption’ and expressed the fear that the conduct of talks with the Taleban might lead to a ‘back room deal’ and a ‘sell-out’. Parliament needs to have more real power and political parties a bigger role in parliament, it says, and SNTV needs to be replaced by a better electoral system. Finally, the participants spoke in favour of a ‘national dialogue […] to correct the inherent flaws in the present power structure’.

The remedy proposed by the eight is more controversial: ‘decentralizing the political system’ in Afghanistan and ‘election of [provincial] Governors’. ‘[E]lected Governors and provincial councils should also have authority for such things as creating budgets and generating revenue, overseeing police and healthcare, as well as establishing educational authority, if they so desire.’ Rohrabacher even went as far as saying that ‘the overly centralized government power structure in Afghanistan is contrary to that country’s culture’.**Federalism has been a long-standing political demand in parts of the Afghan north. Dostum’s Jombesh has been promoting this more openly over the past year or so and it has also become more popular among some other political groups among Tajiks and Hazaras, not least because of what is seen by them as the increasingly Pashtun-centric course set by the Kabul government. At the same time, many Pashtuns, including those who are critical of Karzai, see decentralisation as a euphemism for federalism, and federalism as the first step to separatism and the division of the country.

But as is often the case, it is not so important what was said (and much of it has been said in the past), but rather who has said it, in who’s company and where. The leaders who signed the statement with their full titles, claiming to represent ‘over 60 per cent of the Afghan population’, were:

‘Mr. Ahmed Zia Massoud, Chairman, National Front [Jebha-ye Melli]

General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Leader, National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan [Jombesh]

Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, Leader, People´s Unity Party of Afghanistan [Hezb-e Wahdat-e Mardom]

Mr. Amrullah Saleh, Former Director, Afghan National Security Directorate’

(Note: It is not clear whether Mr Saleh was in Berlin personally or whether he gave his approval for the statement from somewhere else.)All of these men have been involved in the latest round of alliance forging in Afghanistan itself. They are trying to come up with a united, anti-Karzai front and possibly a single candidate for the 2014 presidential election who can challenge the incumbent’s still-to-be-chosen successor and enable him to have better chances than Qanuni in 2004 or Dr Abdullah in 2009. What makes it even worse for Karzai is that, in 2009, Dostum and Mohaqqeq were still on his side and helped him to secure his majority, with claims that they had provided the Uzbek and large parts of the Hazara votes. Although it is still a long way to go to the 2014 elections and today’s alliances might break, Karzai knows that, without them, his successor will have difficulties winning.

Furthermore, the invitation list for Berlin*** had also included other major ‘Northern’ figures – current Second Vice President Karim Khalili, Dr Abdullah, Yunis Qanuni, Ustad Atta and MP Saleh Seljuqi, labelled a ‘Khan staffer’ (with apparent reference to Ismail Khan). They chose not to attend; after all, Khalili and Ismail Khan are part of the government in Kabul. But it was clearly the intention of Rohrabacher’s group to help to create the broadest possible anti-Karzai alliance.

Although the terrible F word (federalism) was avoided in Berlin, a push for decentralisation was probably never made so prominently – jointly by leaders from the Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities. And it was made from abroad. And from Berlin of all places where the German government had just helped the US open a direct channel to the Taleban, circumventing Karzai. It could be expected, including by the organisers, that this would create suspicion in Kabul where the government tends to blame foreigners for all mistakes and now clearly sees another conspiracy to undermine President Karzai and build up a political alternative. The Afghan foreign ministry condemned the meeting as ‘contrary to the spirit of national unity and the principles enshrined in the Constitution of Afghanistan’ and criticised the ‘plain interference’ of foreign countries.****

Karzai must also have raised concerns that a division of the country was being planned when he intervened with the US ambassador, Ryan Crocker, in Kabul. (Karzai reportedly also personally called the German foreign office by phone but the meeting was already over by then. He apparently had learnt of it too late.) Why else should Crocker have issued the following most remarkable four-sentence statement on 10 January titled ‘The United States Supports Afghan Unity’?

In response to recent press [sic] reports, the U.S. Embassy reaffirms the long-standing support of the United States for a unified Afghanistan based on the Afghan Constitution. Any assertions to the contrary are entirely without foundation. Reconciliation and the political process in Afghanistan are led by the elected government and the Afghan people. Any statement to the contrary is inaccurate.’

For Karzai, the constellation of players may well recall the situation in early 2008. Then, Obama’s pre-election team had started criticising him heavily for the widespread corruption he was presiding over and created the impression that any incoming administration would drop him in favour of a Pashtun team (Ali Jalali, Ashraf Ghani, Hanif Atmar and/or Gul Agha Sherzai) or Dr Abdullah. The group that met in Berlin was supported by influential people in Washington. Among the four Congress members present, the Republican Dana Rohrabacher, is in his twelfth term and heads the influential House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Oversight; he is an Afghan old hand since the anti-Soviet jehad. Given the lack of a discernibly unified US strategy on Afghanistan, there is no way Karzai can be sure that what has been suggested in Berlin won’t become official strategy one day, particularly given the possibility of a Republican success in this year’s US presidential elections. Apart from that, it is well-known how political and business interests are often muddled in the US, particularly among US Republicans.

Rohrabacher himself is supported by a team that has openly been favouring the Northern Alliance for decades. Among them is Charlie Santos, another old Afghan hand***** who was present in Berlin but not mentioned on the participants’ lists (while other staffers were). Rohrabacher himself called Santos a ‘confidant of Afghan Uzbek leader, General Dostum’ ina speech in 2009. In a US Congress hearing in 2003, and a number of interviews and articles, Santos had already advocated ‘the idea of federalism and the powerful role of democratically-elected local and regional governments as a way of creating trust and good will among diverse regions and communities’ in Afghanistan.

The 8 January meeting was also not the first of its kind. Already, on 31 July 2010, Rohrabacher and others met Zia Massud, Mohaqqeq and Dostum’s confidant and former MP, Faizullah Zaki. The meeting went largely unnoticed at the time, but what did not go unnoticed was a highly controversial article by George W. Bush’s former deputy national security adviser, Robert D. Blackwill, that was published at the same time on the Politico blog. Blackwill suggested a ‘de facto partition’ of Afghanistan to ‘focus on defending the northern and western regions […], including Kabul’ with a ‘longtime residual U.S. military force in Afghanistan of about 40,000 to 50,000 troops’ and to ‘offer the Afghan Taliban an agreement in which neither side seeks to enlarge its territory’. ‘Human rights in the Taliban-controlled areas would also probably be abysmal, including for minorities’ but ‘the sky over Pashtun Afghanistan would be dark with manned and unmanned coalition aircraft — targeting not only terrorists but, as necessary, the new Taliban government in all its dimensions’. He added that ‘Karzai and his associates would almost certainly resist partition [my emphasis] — and might not remain in power.’

Afghanistan observers in the US, whose names cannot be disclosed, have told me that Santos claims to work as an advisor for US CENTCOM where the plan for the New Silk Road project was originally created. This includes regional transport corridors for goods and access to the re-discovered, but still unexploited, mineral wealth of Afghanistan for which the government in Kabul is currently trying to trigger an investment bonanza. These sources mainly see interests in northern Afghanistan’s mineral resources as being behind the Berlin meeting.

Even if the four Congress members’ initiative primarily aims to influence US policy on Afghanistan – for example against a power-sharing deal with the Taleban – or tends to inflate the importance of the factional leaders involved, it represent another attempt to shape Afghanistan’s future from outside the country. Over the past ten years, though, it should have become obvious that such attempts tend to deepen conflicts in Afghanistan rather than alleviate them. Changes to the constitutional order and the political system, – based on what has worked over the past ten years and what hasn’t and why – as necessary as they are, should be the subject of a genuinely broad (ie not warlord-only) debate among Afghans.

The Americans involved ignore the fact that most of the Afghan leaders participating in Berlin have an extremely chequered past. Many were senior players in the events of the mid-1990s when, after the Soviet withdrawal and the fall of the PDPA/Watan regime, they failed to govern the country in a constructive way and, in the consequence, the country descended into factional warfare. In fact it was Dostum who, in January 1994 in a strange alliance with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Khalili’s former boss, Abdul Ali Mazari, tried to break the increasingly monopolistic power of Jamiat led by Rabbani and Ahmad Shah Massud over Kabul. The surprise military attack comprised probably the worst rocketing of the war for Kabul. It was a particularly bloody chapter in a period characterised by war crimes and human rights violations by all factions and the complete breakdown of the state. It led many Kabulis to later see the Taleban as a force liberating them from warlordism.

In this context, the likely scenario resulting from the kind of decentralisation as proposed in Berlin – with elected governors and far-reaching budgetary and police autonomy – is easy to imagine: Dostum would win provincial governor election in gas-rich Jowzjan, Ismail Khan in Herat, Ustad Atta in Balkh and so forth. The local people may end up in a situation that is not better than now, just different: with officialised ‘ethnic’ fiefdoms, ruled by armed factions, as corrupt as the current centre-run country and financed by mining and ‘service’ companies. This would cement armed warlord rule, not democracy. Instead of one unstable Afghanistan, Afghans would get a handful of small unstable ones.

The comparisons this brings to my mind of where this sort of politicking could lead are of places like Somalia, the two Sudans or post-independence Congo. As in a ‘Somalia scenario’, provinces or regions could drift away from each other and a functionally even weaker Kabul than the current one – which would become as unimportant as Mogadishu in the current Somalia. This could even lead gradually to a full breakup of the country, even if it had not been intended initially. This might trigger another round of a ‘civil’ (or factional) war, ‘low intensity’ enough for the outside world to ignore, but terrible enough for the Afghans, simply because mineral deposits will be disputed between regions or provinces. (Look at the new South Sudan, for example.) A ‘simple’ north-south split, whether official or ‘just’ de facto, could lead to the same results. If any side in such a scenario is supported and possibly financed from outside, based on interests in minerals, it might even resemble the almost forgotten secessionist Katanga episode of 1960 which was only the beginning of a serious of wars still continuing. In any case, the – let’s call it – Rohrabacher/NA alliance is playing with fire.

Therefore, decentralisation should not be discussed at half-secret meetings abroad. This just creates further mistrust and deepens the already growing ethnic rifts in the country. It is as exclusive as hand-picked jirgas are. Instead, any discussion about possible changes to the country’s political system should be organised in Afghanistan, as a public process where Afghan local communities, intellectuals and others have the same say as political leaders. Foreign politicians are entitled to their own opinions but should be extra careful when expressing them and must avoid re-drawing borders on the maps hanging in their offices, after all that already has gone wrong in Afghanistan.

CENTCOM Wants You To Consider Khyber-Pahtunkhawa As “Silk Road” Gateway To Central Asia

KP termed a gateway for Central Asian countries

CentralAsiaOnline.com is a website sponsored by USCENTCOM to highlight movement toward greater regional stability both through bilateral and multilateral cooperative arrangements.

By Zahir Shah

PESHAWAR- Khyber Pahtunkhawa (KP) and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) have a bright future ahead as a gateway to Central Asia and Afghanistan as these countries need this area for access to Indian Ocean for trade and economic activities, experts say.

“KP and FATA are of great interest to the landlocked Central Asian States and Afghanistan for access to the Indian Ocean as the KP provide the shortest access route”, Chief Collector Customs (North) Nisar Ahmad told a seminar on ‘Border Divide and Customs Connects’ in Peshawar January 27 .

He said terrorism has badly shattered the economies of KP and FATA but the future for this region is bright as it would be the hub of an economic boom as an easy access route for Central Asiato Middle East and European Markets.

He said that the government also has a vision for a National Trade Corridor, the Peshawar-Torkham Expressway, the Northern By-pass and agreements with Central Asian countries to facilitate the traffic of goods, people and services in the region.

Emirates Has Security Links with Israeli Private Security Contractors

Emirates ‘has security links with Israel’

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates, Jan. 27 (UPI) — The United Arab Emirates, an economic giant and rising military power in the Persian Gulf, is reported to have discreet ties with private security companies in Israel to protect its oil fields and borders.

The Intelligence Online Web site reports that the country’s Critical National Infrastructure Authority has had business dealings with several Israeli firms since it was established in 2007, even though the emirates has no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.

“Trade between the two countries, principally in the area of security, amounted to nearly $300 million last year,” Intelligence Online reported Jan. 12.

CNIA is based in Abu Dhabi, the main oil-rich emirate in the federation. It’s the capital of the United Arab Emirates and handles the federation’s military and security affairs.

“The Israeli businessman most active in Abu Dhabi is Mati Kochavi, owner of the Swiss-registered company AGT, which sold the emirates surveillance cameras, electronic fences and sensors to monitor strategic infrastructure and oil fields.”

That contract was reportedly worth $800 million.

But these ties may be threatened because of a dispute between Abu Dhabi and Israel’s Aeronautics Defense Systems, founded in 1997 and which has been involved in several international arms scandals in recent years.

An exhibitor demonstrates a United Arab Emirates target-drone for ground artillery practice on the opening day of the Eurosatory international exhibition for Land and Land-air Defene in Villepinte, north of Paris, June 12, 2006. The show is to run until June 16. (UPI Photo/Eco Clement)

This centers on a 2011 deal between CNIA and ADS under which the Israeli outfit would sell the infrastructure authority combat-capable unmanned aerial vehicles like those used against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.

But the deal turned sour when it was found that ADS had failed to secure approval from the Israeli Defense Ministry’s military sales division, known as SIBAT, to export the UAVs to an Arab state. The dispute has “infuriated the emirate, which had paid a $70 million advance on the contract,” Intelligence Online reported.   ( read HERE)

Qari Zain’s Abdullah Mehsud Remnants Firing Rockets from Hills On Military Academy At Abbottabad?

[On at least two occasions, the Pak. news has carried reports on Qari Zainullah Mehsud’s relatives and Abbottabad–one report told of Qari Zain’s relatives being relocated there after his assassination (he is buried there), another report revealed that some of them had been arrested from the mountains nearby (SEE:  The Waziristan Sideshow Gets Underway).]

Kakul attack

The phrase ‘getting a rocket’ is a euphemism for a severe reprimand, and it has found both a literal and metaphorical iteration in Friday’s rocketing of the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) at Kakul, Abbottabad. Three rockets fired from Khola Deri in nearby hills hit the boundary walls of the PMA but caused little damage and no casualties. Police sources said a total of nine rockets were fired from several locations and have referred to the recovery of ‘rocket stands’ and ‘cases’. The firing points were as close as 500 metres from their target. Five rockets seem to have landed in open fields and one damaged the upper portion of a house, causing widespread panic among residents of the area. All of this happened in a place which is supposedly the most secure in the entire country, is home not just to the PMA but the Balochistan Regiment, the Army Medical Corps and the Frontier Force Regiment Centre – none of which makes it impervious to attack.

To call this assault something of an embarrassment is a considerable understatement. Let us not forget that Osama bin Laden spent several years living in quiet obscurity within hailing distance of the PMA, so we should perhaps not be surprised that a group of malcontents and ne’er-do-wells are able to set up and discharge rockets in an area which is said to be the most heavily patrolled in the entire country. Admittedly the terrain surrounding Abbottabad is ideally suited to covert infiltration and the mounting of attacks such as this – the hills are heavily wooded and difficult to move around in without an intimate knowledge of the terrain; but even so mounting an attack on this scale is a considerable logistical achievement pointing to an effective command and control structure and a supply of appropriate materiel. The attack also underscores both how limited is the ability even of our most highly trained forces to inhibit or deter terrorist activity; and just how well organised and effective the terrorists are at conducting asymmetric warfare. The fact that there were no casualties and little damage is almost immaterial. Those that set up this attack have proven beyond a doubt their operational potential – they may need to refine their targeting but there is no reason to suspect that they could not mount a repeat performance. They gave us a rocket, a disfavour that might prove difficult to return.

Peshawar Police Foil Someone’s Hideous “Wet Dream,” Intercept Arms Depot On Wheels

Car packed with arms seized, accused arrested

PESHAWAR: The city police here on Sunday foiled a bid of terrorism by seizing huge quantity of arms and ammunition during a successful raid on Inqilab Road and arrested one accused on the spot.

SHO Chamkani police station said that a suspected car coming from Dara Adam Khel in FR Kohat was intercepted on Inqilab Road and recovered huge quantity of arms and ammunitions. The arms include guns, revolvers and rounds etc.

Police arrested accused Taj, resident of Badabair and started investigation.(APP)

Afghan President Karzai Attempts To Preempt “Taliban Negotiations” Sideshow In Qatar

Afghan President Hamid Karzai ‘plans talks with Taliban’

By Quentin Sommerville and Bilal Sarwary

BBC News, Kabul

President Hamid Karzai (27 January)
President Karzai was angered by the Qatar process

The Afghan government is planning to meet the Taliban in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to jump-start peace talks, the BBC has learned.

The landmark meeting will come in the coming weeks, before the establishment of a Taliban office in Qatar, according to Western and Afghan officials.

The Taliban have refused previously to recognise the government of President Hamid Karzai.

Senior officials in Kabul say the Taliban have agreed to the meeting.

The militant group, contacted by the BBC, refused to comment on the move.

The Taliban have so far insisted they would only talk to the US and other allies of the Kabul government.

A senior Afghan government official told the BBC: “Even if the Taliban office is established in Qatar, we will obviously pursue other efforts in the region, including Saudi Arabia and Turkey.”

He continued: “Saudi Arabia has played an important role in the past. We value that and look forward to continued support and contact with Saudi Arabia in continuing the peace process.”

President Karzai was angered by US and Qatari efforts to kick-start the peace process without consulting his government fully.

In December, he recalled the Afghan ambassador in Doha. A delegation from Qatar is expected to arrive in Kabul shortly in an attempt to mend fences.

Prisoner exchange?

As reported by the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, a number of Taliban officials have already arrived in Qatar.

The delegation includes Sher Mohammad Stanakzai, the Taliban’s former deputy foreign minister and Shabudin Dilawari, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, and Tayeb Agha, a close aide of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

However, details for the establishment of a permanent office have still to be finalised.

Michael Semple, a former EU envoy to Kabul who was expelled in 2007 for talking to the Taliban (SEE:  What exactly were Mervyn Patterson and Michael Semple doing in Helmand?), told BBC radio that the Taliban were “confused by the lack of coherence” between the Afghan government and the international community.

“There’s a risk that the Taliban sit there and think there’s some kind of divide-and-rule going on from the international side… and that actually no negotiated deal is possible and that they are far better off maintaining the coherence of their leadership which at the moment, frankly, looks rather more coherent and united than anything on either the Afghan government or international side,” he said.  (SEE: Dissecting the Anti-Pakistan Psyop)

There are worries that the Taliban are using the political office to raise funds, and as a ploy to buy time before foreign combat troops leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014.

The Shitty Little Zionist Plan To Co-Opt China and Become the Center of the World

“The preferred option was for the work to be done by Chinese state-owned contractors, the ministry’s website says.
“The professional capability of the Chinese companies in the construction of railway systems and transport networks is among the best in the world,” the site quoted transport minister Yisrael Katz as saying.
It said Katz met China’s transport minister in Beijing in September and the two agreed to prepare a joint proposal for the Eilat link.”

Israel plans overland Asia-Europe train route

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP PHOTO/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (AFP PHOTO/SEBASTIAN SCHEINER/POOL)

JERUSALEM: Israel’s government on Sunday began examining a plan for a rail link between its Mediterranean and Red Sea coasts, offering a new route for Europe-Asia trade that could compete with the Suez Canal.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a passenger line through the desert would for the first time put Israel’s southern Red Sea resort of Eilat a two-hour rain ride from Tel Aviv, 350 kilometres (220 miles) away.

“In addition there will be a line for carrying goods from Asia to Europe,” Netanyahu told a meeting of his cabinet. “It has created very great interest in among the emerging powers, China and India, and others.”

He said that new rail and road networks would join the Eilat line to northern Israel and also become “a junction between continents.”

“It is therefore of strategic importance, both nationally and internationally,” he said, adding Sunday’s discussion would be the first of at least two on the subject.

Of the proposals prepared by the transport ministry, the preferred option was for the work to be done by Chinese state-owned contractors, the ministry’s website says.

“The professional capability of the Chinese companies in the construction of railway systems and transport networks is among the best in the world,” the site quoted transport minister Yisrael Katz as saying.

It said Katz met China’s transport minister in Beijing in September and the two agreed to prepare a joint proposal for the Eilat link.

Israeli officials say a so-called “Med-Red” railway could also be used for future exports of gas to India, and possibly China, from Mediterranean fields currently under development.

The two biggest Israeli finds, Tamar and Leviathan, lie respectively about 80 and 130 kilometres (50 and 80 miles) off the northern port city of Haifa.

Tamar is believed to hold at least 8.4 trillion cubic feet of gas (238 billion cubic metres), while Leviathan is believed to have reserves of 16 trillion cubic feet (450 billion cubic metres).

In June, an Israeli company announced the discovery of two new natural gas fields, Sarah and Mira, around 70 kilometres (45 miles) off the city of Hadera further south along the Mediterranean coast.

Someone Kidnapped “Wild Card” Afghan Peace Council Member–“Taliban” Are Blamed

Afghan peace council member kidnapped by Taliban

Mirwais Harooni

Reuters

KABUL (Reuters) – The Taliban have kidnapped a member of Afghanistan’s peace council during a bid to promote talks in the volatile east, underscoring the difficulty negotiators face in winning support for nascent negotiations from the Taliban front line.

Mavlawi Shafihullah Shafih, a low level member of the High Peace Council set up by President Hamid Karzai to liaise with insurgents, disappeared on Friday in the Asmar district of the eastern province of Kunar, authorities said on Sunday.

Shafih, a former education department head in neighboring Nuristan province, had travelled from Kabul to meet insurgents and encourage them to join the peace process after Taliban leaders proposed opening a representative office in Qatar.

“As soon as he left his car Taliban captured him,” said Shahzada Shahid, another member of the 70-member council who had travelled to the Kunar capital of Asadabad in an effort to free Shafih with support from community elders.

Shafih’s abduction comes four months after the head of the High Peace Council, former president Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated by an insurgent carrying a bomb hidden in his turban. The attack wounded four people, including Masoom Stanekzai, head of the council’s secretariat.

It also comes after an offer by the Taliban’s leadership to open an office in Qatar to lay the ground for possible peace talks with the United States and its main allies, including the Afghan government.

Fazlullah Wahidi, the provincial governor for Kunar, said Shafih had been carrying a letter from a senior member of the peace council to give to insurgents in Kunar, which lies along the rugged and porous border with Pakistan.

A Taliban spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Mohammad Ewaz Naziri, the Kunar police chief, said Shafih had not alerted authorities of his visit.

“He went to Asmar without informing us. We don’t know where and how he went missing,” he said.

Two senior council members told Reuters last week that they believed the Taliban were willing to soften hardline ideologies in order to end the war with NATO and Afghan forces ahead of the departure of foreign combat troops in 2014.

But Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, the council’s adviser on foreign relations, said while he saw signs of moderation among the Taliban leadership, a peace deal had the potential to split front-line fighters with more hardline views.

(Editing by Rob Taylor and Robert Birsel)

 

Afghan Northern Alliance Allies Betrayed by Obama

Afghan Northern Alliance Allies Betrayed by Obama 

Meet with U.S. Congressmen in Berlin
January 9, 2012 

Washington – Today, Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) along with Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46), Loretta Sanchez (CA-47) and Steve King (IA-05) held a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on their private meeting with Northern Alliance Leaders on Afghan Strategy. These leaders who fought with embedded Special Forces to initially defeat the Taliban represent over 60-percent of the Afghan people, yet are being entirely disregarded by the Obama and Karzai Administrations in negotiations. Instead, the Obama regime is choosing to now make concessions to the group that helped train for the 9-11 attacks and whose leader proclaimed on Afghan TV recently that the U.S. has been defeated and is now begging them for negotiations.

Rep. Gohmert and the individuals, listed below, released the following joint statement:

“We have supported the mission of the Coalition Forces in Afghanistan. It is our fervent desire that the Coalition Forces be successful. Yet, after the departure of the Coalition Forces, the enormous American, Coalition, and Afghan investment with their lives and treasure is currently in great peril of having been in vain. Our concern is that the present political system is dysfunctional because all the power is centralized in a way that no American would tolerate in the United States.  The current system has fatally concentrated decision-making to whoever is President of the country.  The Afghan President appoints the governors of each province and district, the mayor of every town, every provincial chief of police, one third of the entire Senate, and even every judge in Afghanistan.”

“This centralized power has led to massive corruption, disenfranchisement of a large segment of the Afghan people, obstacles to economic development, massive abuses of power, increasing political instability, poor governance, and a vast undermining of law and order.”

“We call for a national dialogue on a revised Constitution to correct the inherent flaws in the present power structure by decentralizing the political system, making it more compatible with the diverse political, social and cultural nature of Afghanistan. The Afghan people deserve and need a parliamentary form of democracy instead of a personality-centered Presidential system.’

“We firmly believe that any negotiation with the Taliban can only be acceptable, and therefore effective, if all parties to the conflict are involved in the process.  The present form of discussions with the Taliban is flawed, as it excludes anti-Taliban Afghans. It must be recalled that the Taliban extremists and their Al-Qaeda supporters were defeated by Afghans resisting extremism with minimal human embedded support from the United States and International community. The present negotiations with the Taliban fail to take into account the risks, sacrifices and legitimate interests of the Afghans who ended the brutal oppression of all Afghans.”

“In order to speed the withdrawal of international forces, the participants believe it is essential to strengthen regional and national institutions that are inclusive and represent the concerns of all the communities of Afghanistan.”

“The participants favor a change in the Electoral System from a Single Non Transferable Vote System to a nationally accepted variant of the Proportional Representation system with equal opportunities for independent candidates, the political parties, or tribal representatives. We also support the election of Governors and empowerment of provincial councils. Such elected Governors and provincial councils should also have authority for such things as creating budgets and generating revenue, overseeing police and healthcare, as well as establishing educational authority, if they so desire.”

Mr. Ahmed Zia Massoud, Chairman, National Front

General Abdul Rashid Dostum, Leader, National Islamic Movement of Afghanistan

Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, Leader, People´s Unity Party of Afghanistan

Mr. Amrullah Saleh, Former Director, Afghan National Security Directorate

Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-California)

Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-California)

Represenative Louie Gohmert (R-Texas)

Representative Steve King (R-Iowa)

Congressman Louie Gohmert is the Vice Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security. Prior to being elected to serve in Congress, Louie was elected to three terms as District Judge in Smith County, Texas. He also served as Chief Justice of Texas’12th Court.

 

U.S. lawmakers’ meeting sets back Obama’s Afghan agenda

U.S. lawmakers’ meeting sets back Obama’s Afghan agenda

JONATHAN S. LANDAY

McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON — The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan had planned to use his latest foray to the region to build Afghan government support for the nascent U.S. effort to kindle peace talks with the Taliban.

Instead, Ambassador Marc Grossman found himself last week putting out a fire ignited by a meeting between four U.S. Congress members and Afghan opposition leaders in Germany. At that meeting, the American lawmakers discussed constitutional reforms that would devolve power from Afghanistan’s central government to the provinces — triggering suspicions that the United States was secretly plotting to partition Afghanistan along ethnic lines.

The U.S. Embassy said there was no such plan, and immediately denounced the reports. But the damage had been done.

Karzai was “incredibly angry,” said a former Afghan official who maintains close contact with the presidential palace and who, like others interviewed by McClatchy, requested anonymity because of the issue’s sensitivity. Karzai’s ire was on display in a Jan. 21 speech to Parliament in which he denounced “foreigners” for using Afghanistan “to do their political experiments.”

The episode dealt a setback to the U.S. bid to launch peace talks, which began with the opening of a Taliban political office in Qatar earlier this month. It also reinforced just how difficult it will be for the Obama administration to broker a settlement that’s robust enough to allow U.S. and allied combat troops to complete their withdrawal from Afghanistan by 2014 as planned.

The Berlin meeting “played a very damaging role, convincing Karzai for a time that the (United States) had a secret plan to partition Afghanistan,” said a U.S. official. “As a result, Karzai did not want to support a Taliban office in Qatar.”

U.S. officials believe that Grossman mollified Karzai — who already was upset over his government’s exclusion from year-long secret U.S.-Taliban contacts — by persuading the Afghan leader that the Obama administration had nothing to do with the meeting in Berlin.

At a Jan. 21 news conference, Grossman affirmed that a peace deal could only be negotiated by Afghans, and that the Taliban must unequivocally state their opposition to international terrorism and support for the peace process before the Qatar office could open.

Yet Afghan suspicions persisted after Grossman left Kabul, forcing U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker three days later to issue another, more forceful public denial. Crocker called the partition rumors “lies that dishonor the sacrifice of more than 1,800 American service members who have died in the cause of a unified Afghanistan.”

The problem that Grossman encountered is deep differences between Karzai — who, like most of the Taliban, is from Afghanistan’s main Pashtun ethnic group — and leaders of the ethnic minorities who dominated the former Northern Alliance. That guerrilla force defeated the Taliban in 2001 with the aid of U.S. airpower, and now heads Karzai’s political opposition.

Karzai and other Afghans were outraged by a joint statement issued by the participants in the Jan. 8 Berlin meeting that denounced the centralization of power in Kabul as the cause of “massive corruption, disenfranchisement of a large segment of the Afghan people, obstacles to economic development, massive abuses of power, increasing political instability, poor governance and a vast undermining of law and order.”

The participants, who included Karzai’s former intelligence chief and a notorious Uzbek warlord, urged constitutional reforms to create a federal system that would disperse power to the provinces. Many Afghans, however, believe that proposal eventually would lead to the partition of Afghanistan between the minority-dominated north and the mostly Pashtun south.

Karzai, long distrustful of U.S. intentions, came to suspect Obama administration involvement in the Berlin meeting.

Karzai thought there was “an official hand behind it, maybe not Obama, but others and that people are backing different horses,” said the former Afghan official.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., who led the delegation of House members, denied that the group seeks partition. However, he argued in a phone interview that the United States had “foisted … one of the most centralized government structures that exist anywhere in the world” on “one of the most decentralized cultures.”

“We need to see if there is an alternative,” Rohrabacher said. “Instead what we are getting is an attempt to obfuscate the debate and to attack the motives of the people involved, but also to characterize the nature of the disagreement in a totally disingenuous way.”

The U.S. delegation also included Reps. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Steve King, R-Iowa, and Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif.

Karzai and his aides may have had good reason to suspect the meeting, the second of its kind organized in Berlin since July 2010 by Rohrabacher, who has been deeply involved with Afghan policy since working as an aide to President Ronald Reagan.

Rohrabacher and Gohmert want the United States to rearm and re-forge the Northern Alliance into a village militia network to fight the Taliban-led insurgency. Such an organization, however, also could become a rival force to the Afghan National Army in northern areas dominated by the Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara ethnic minorities.

Moreover, many former Northern Alliance leaders and commanders oppose a peace deal with the Taliban that would cede shares of power to the militant Islamic movement. The Northern Alliance fought the Taliban in a 1994-2001 civil war that was interrupted by the U.S. invasion.

“Without consulting the government or most of the people of Afghanistan, they want to bring federalism, decentralism, to bring back warlordism, and to bring back different factions in different parts of the country,” said Mir Ahmad Joyenda, a former Afghan parliamentarian with the Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit, an independent think tank in Kabul.

Joyenda, however, also said that Karzai and the United States should heed the former Northern Alliance leaders’ concerns about a peace deal.

“The Northern Alliance wanted to make a political maneuver” in Berlin, he said, to show that ‘We are strong enough to oppose things without any consultation with us.'”

(McClatchy special correspondents Jon Stephenson and Ali Safi contributed to this article from Kabul, Afghanistan.)

 

NATO’s lost cause in Afghanistan

Opinion: NATO’s lost cause in Afghanistan

Arab news

By OSAMA AL SHARIF

The specter of defeat, another Vietnam-like scenario, is looming large

NATO’s war in Afghanistan will go down in history as a big flop — one that the politicians had failed to end and the generals were unable to win. On the other hand, commentators and historians will ponder the fact that this backward tribal country was able to repulse the Soviets and an international coalition of no less than 50 Western countries led by the United States within a period of 30 years or so.

The US and its allies want to quit Afghanistan in 2014, but the specter of defeat, another Vietnam-like scenario, is looming large. More than 10 years after the US bombed and later occupied this mountainous country in West Asia in retaliation of Al-Qaeda attacks on Washington and New York, the purpose of war and the path to an honorable exit appears to have been lost.

An Afghanistan expert, journalist Michael Hastings, says in his new book, “The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan” that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was in charge of military operations between 2009 and 2010, rarely mentioned Al-Qaeda in his briefings to US congressmen. Even Gen. David Petraeus, who took over from McChrystal, would never talk about Al-Qaeda in his meetings with his top aides. Hastings points to the number that former National Security Adviser Gen. Jones put out which is that there are less than 100 Al-Qaeda members in Afghanistan.

After destroying Osama Ben Laden’s lair in the mountains of Afghanistan and forcing most of the Taleban leadership to flee in the early days of the invasion, the US focused its attention on solidifying the rule of its ally President Hamid Karzai and on counterinsurgency. But both tasks have proved untenable.

The Taleban insurgency remains a big challenge to NATO forces. In military terms modern warfare has failed to crush guerrilla warfare. The people, the terrain and culture were all against the invaders. The regime of Karzai was corrupt and unpopular. The tribal nature of Afghanistan and its culture frustrated efforts to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans. American drones and friendly fire have killed more civilians than combatants. The Taleban used the rugged terrain of the south and southwest intelligently. They infiltrated enemy ranks and were able to carry out stunning attacks inside Kabul.

Last week an Afghan soldier fired his machine gun killing four French troops in their base camp. He was avenging the dead Taleban whose bodies were desecrated by US Marines less than two weeks ago. There are 3,600 French soldiers in Afghanistan, part of a total of 130,000 foreign troops in that country. It was not the first incident of this kind nor will it be the last. France has suspended training of Afghan soldiers and is considering pulling out its troops before the 2014 deadline. In an election year, both in France and the United States, the image of coffins arriving home from the war front in Afghanistan will not please the public. Until the end of last year, the death toll of coalition soldiers stood at 2,765. Having failed to defeat the Taleban, who rely on support from their brethren in Pakistan’s border region, the US is now listening to Karzai’s advice to negotiate with the insurgents. Last week it was revealed that US negotiators have been secretly meeting with a representative of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, head of the outlawed Hizb-i-Islami group, which has been battling US forces mostly in the east and north of the country.

It was a step in the direction of widening talks so that they include the Taleban as well. All previous attempts to bypass the Taleban were met by failure. Officially the US refuses to talk to Mullah Omar, the fugitive Taleban leader believed to be hiding in Pakistan. But talks with his lieutenants and senior Pashtun tribal heads are underway — at least through the Karzai government.

But what could these talks lead to? The Taleban want NATO forces out, while Washington would like to see an arrangement that will involve the Taleban in a future government. The gap is wide. Washington has lost the cooperation of a major ally which is Pakistan. Trust between the US and Pakistan has reached record lows since the Americans carried out a covert operation to kill Osama Ben Laden in Pakistani territory without informing their allies in Islamabad.

Two months ago US drones bombed two Pakistani border points killing more than 20 soldiers. Washington later apologized but not before Pakistan suspended all cooperation with the US.

According to Hastings trust is also lacking between Karzai and President Obama. Gen. McChrystal used to mock the Afghan president calling him the man with the funny hat. And Hastings reported that he had heard US officials say that Karzai was a manic depressive and that he was a drug addict.

At one point Washington wanted to rebuild Afghanistan and guide it toward democracy. But the rebuilding efforts have been marred by setbacks and corruption. At one point the US was forced to deal with opium growing warlords in an attempt to win favors and isolate the Taleban.

The Taleban are waging a war of attrition while sending signals that they are willing to talk peace with Karzai and the Americans. All they have to do is to wait since time is on their side. 2014 is a long way ahead for the Americans and their allies. In the end they will leave the country to its fate, just as they did in Iraq. For the people of Afghanistan the day when NATO soldiers leave will not spell the end of war but only a change in its course.

— Osama Al Sharif is a journalist and political commentator based in Amman.

Who Commissioned Us to Remake the World?…Seriously.

Who Commissioned Us to Remake the World?

U.S. Ambassador Michael McFaul, Obama’s man in Moscow, who just took up his post, has received a rude reception. And understandably so.

In 1992, McFaul was the representative in Russia of the National Democratic Institute, a U.S. government-funded agency whose mission is to promote democracy abroad.

The NDI has been tied to color-coded or Orange revolutions such as those that dethroned regimes in Serbia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Lebanon. The project miscarried in Belarus.

The NDI is one of several agencies, dating to the 1980s, that were set up to subvert communist regimes. With the end of the Cold War, however, these agencies were not decommissioned, but recommissioned to serve as something of an American Comintern.

Where the old Comintern of Lenin sought to instigate communist revolutions across the West and its empires, post-Cold War America decided to promote democratic revolutions to remake the world in the image of late 20th century America.

In 2002, McFaul wrote a book: “Russia’s Unfinished Revolution.”

Vladimir Putin’s men are not unreasonably asking if he was sent to Moscow to finish that revolution. Putin has already accused Hillary Clinton of flashing the signal for street demonstrations to begin — to protest Russia’s December’s elections.

Nor is it surprising the Putin’s people are suspicious of McFaul, who added to his problems by meeting with anti-Putin dissidents the day after he presented his credentials.

McFaul says this is part of his “dual-track engagement” with Russian society. Before leaving for Moscow, he told NPR’s “Morning Edition”: “We’re not going to get into the business of dictating (Russia’s) path (to democracy). … We’re just going to support what we like to call ‘universal values’ — not American values, not Western values, universal values.”

But what, exactly, are these “universal values”?

And who are we to impose them on other nations? Did Divine Providence assign us this mission? Who do we Americans think we are?

After all, we do not even agree ourselves on what is moral and immoral, good and evil. Indeed, our own deep disagreements on what is moral and what is not are at the root of the culture wars tearing this country apart.

In America, women have a constitutional right to an abortion. Scores of millions have availed themselves of that right since Roe v. Wade. Yet traditionalists of many faiths — Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Orthodox and Jewish — reject any such woman’s right and regard it as a moral abomination.

Do homosexuals have a right to cohabit, form civil unions and marry?

In a few American states, yes; in others, no. But try to impose those values on nations of the Muslim and Third Worlds, where homosexuality is a moral outrage and even a capital offense, and our ambassadors will find themselves in physical peril.

Does McFaul believe democracy is a universally superior system of government? Yet our own founding fathers detested one-man, one-vote democracy. Democracy does not even get a mention in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights or the Federalist Papers.

The author of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson, believed society should be ruled by a “natural aristocracy” of “virtue and talent.”

If the promotion of democracy is a mission of our diplomats, are we to subvert the monarchies of Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia?

When we see how democracy empowered the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, does it even make sense to insist that it be embraced by nations where the populations are pervasively anti-American?

What is the universally right stand on capital punishment — the Rick Perry position in Texas or the Andrew Cuomo position in New York?

In the United States, all religions — Santeria, Wicca, Islam, Christianity — are to be treated equally and all kept out of the public square and the pubic schools. In a Muslim world that contains a fifth of mankind, Islam is the one true faith. Rival faiths have few or no rights.

Are we going to push the Islamic world to treat all religions equally?

We celebrate religious, racial and ethnic diversity. The Chinese, who persecute Uighurs, Tibetans, Christians and Falun Gong, detest that diversity and fear it will tear their country apart.

We believe in freedom of speech and the press.

Yet, in France, if you deny the Turks committed genocide against the Armenians in 1915, you are guilty of a crime, while in Turkey if you affirm that the Turks committed genocide, you have committed a crime. Should U.S. diplomats battle for repeal of both laws? Or mind our own business?

If America wishes to lead the world, let us do it by example, as we once did, not by hectoring every nation on earth to adopt the American way, which as of now, does not seem to be working all that well for Americans.

McFaul should stick to his diplomatic duties.

Jefferson had it right, “We wish not to meddle with the internal affairs of any country.”

Self-Censorship, or Russian Censorship of the Article Below?

[Below you see a Euro press article that was scrubbed from the website the day it was posted, only to be re-reported after changing the title of the article from ‘Russia won’t tolerate external interference’ to Putin slams Washington over ‘external interference’]

Page not found

The requested page could not be found.

Putin: ‘Russia won’t tolerate external interference’

Article | January 27, 2012 – 9:11am

As the Russian presidential campaign gets under way, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin took a another swing at the US, criticising Washington of seeking vassals rather than allies.

“The US wants to control everything, sometimes I get the impression that the US doesn’t need allies, it needs vassals,” Putin told reporters on 25 January in the Siberian town of Tomsk. “They take decisions unilaterally on key questions.”

Putin, who’s bidding for a new six-year term in the Kremlin in elections to be held on 4 March, said he would not tolerate external interference.

“The leadership in Moscow is much more uncertain about just what’s going to happen politically in terms of the process even if they are sure of the outcome,” James Collins, who was the US ambassador to Russia from 1997 to 2001, told New Europe, referring to the presidential election in March that Putin is heavily favoured to win.

Collins, who is now at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said late on 26 January by phone from Washington DC that the political season in Moscow is making Russian political leaders particularly sensitive, especially after the December parliamentary elections, the demonstrations and public manifestations of opposition to the current government.

“Until they get through that process I expect – just like in the United States – you’ll see political rhetoric and probably some statements that people will wish were not made, if you are on the other side. But frankly I think in the end of ends we’ll see the process through and then we’ll see what the new government and the new Putin administration later in this year decides it’s going to do with the United States,” Collins said.

Meanwhile, the new US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul rejected as “nonsense” accusations by a top lawmaker in Putin’s United Russia party, Andrei Isayev that he’s trying to encourage a revolution. In the early days of the administration of US President Barack Obama, McFaul made his mark as the architect of the so-called “reset” of relations with Russia. Now Obama sent him to Russia to continue this policy of seeking to improve ties.

But when McFaul met with opposition activists earlier in January, within days of taking up his appointment, he annoyed the Kremlin. Those contacts with the Russian opposition are part of official US policy to spread democratic values around the world, Kommersant newspaper quoted McFaul in an interview. “The point of the reset isn’t to prepare a revolution,” McFaul said. “That’s not what we are doing.”

McFaul also rejected Isayev’s contention that he’s an expert in Orange Revolutions, referring to popular upheavals in the former Soviet nations of Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan. “I’m an academic, a political scientist and a sociologist, not a professional revolutionary,” McFaul said.

One of his predecessors, Collins, dismissed complaints inside the Kremlin that the US is trying to stir up trouble, supporting protests that have eroded Putin’s popularity. “I personally think there is absolutely no justification for all this idea that America is interfering in their political process,” Collins told New Europe.

“The response to Mike McFaul’s first days and other things like these statements are frankly political rhetoric. Any ambassador and any American embassy over decades has met with all dimensions of Russian society and they have done it in political times and non-political times. The idea that somehow it’s not an ambassador’s job to be in touch and engaged with all elements of the political spectrum in the Russian Federation is simply saying he shouldn’t do his job,” Collins said.

“They certainly cannot be surprised that the ambassador to the Russian Federation has contacts with people other than government officials. They’ve been doing it for decades and they will continue to do it so I find all that around Mike McFaul’s arrival to be a bit surprising.”

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told reporters that McFaul should understand that he is working in Russia, not in the US. “I hope that he [McFaul] will do a good job but of course he needs to realise that he is working in the Russian Federation, not in the United States of America, and that our country has its specifics, just as any ambassador has his mandate,” he said.

Russia-US relations, let alone Medvedev-Obama relations, have not been affected, the Russian president said. “There’s not been a worsening in our interstate relations or in our personal relations [with Obama],” he said.

Collins said that despite the headline-grabbing political rhetoric the US and Russia want to see the relationship and the “reset” continue. He noted that he doesn’t expect US-Russian relations to backtrack once Putin replaces Medvedev, who spearheaded efforts to improve relations with the US.

“I have presumed all along that you did not have a policy over the last three and a half years from Mr Medvedev without Mr Putin being a part of it,” Collins said, adding that the efforts to improve US-Russian relations over the last three years represent the work of both the Russian and the American governments.

However, Collins would not make any predictions. “We have to wait to see once the Russian leadership is through this electoral process – and I do expect Mr Putin to be president however that is done in one or two rounds – what will the policy of the new government be,” he said.

“It’s rather hard to see how Russian interests would change radically in the coming year. There are certain things that we know are issues between Russia and the United States: missile defence being one. We have not moved that problem too much closer to resolution, but we are co-operating in Afghanistan. I think there is no reason that we won’t see that continue. I don’t think the basic interests have changed,” Collins said.

The two countries have also disagreed over the NATO military campaign that led to the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi and US-led attempts to censure Syria at the United Nations for its crackdown on anti-government unrest, which Russia says is part of another attempt at regime change. Russian has also slammed US plans to impose sanctions against Iran, saying that they would disrupt talks on Tehran nuclear programme.

Collins said there isn’t any indication from the Obama administration that they are changing their approach to Russian policy in any significant way. “After all Mike McFaul is in many ways intimately involved in the development of that policy and has been for the last three and a half years. He’s close to the president [Obama]. The president sent him there because he represents his policy. I don’t really see there is reason to think there is movement away from Russia. There are all sorts of indications for instance in Washington that the administration hopes to see the Jackson-Vanick issue resolved fairly early this year and that’s part of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) accession.

“So I don’t see that they’re moving away from the areas of co-operation they have had. At the same time, I don’t think they have turned a blind eye to the areas where we had differences,” Collins concluded.

 

 

 

 

 

Delegation Claiming To Represent the Afghan Taliban Arrives In Qatar

[Until we hear from either Mullah Omar or from the last known Afghan spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, we must assume that this is “Plan B,” the international joke that has been masquerading as the “Taliban reconciliation” process since the killing of Burhanuddin Rabbani, and before that, the arrest of original Taliban negotiator Mullah Baradar, by Pakistan.]

Delegation of Taliban diplomats reaches Qatar

DOHA: A team of senior Taliban diplomats has arrived in Qatar in preparation for the opening of a political office to host negotiations between America, the insurgents and the Afghan government, British newspaper said in a report.

According to the Telegraph newspaper, the envoys from the former regime have assembled in the past month and the first tentative talks could begin within weeks according to former Taliban officials now part of Hamid Karzai’s peace council.It includes Tayeb Agha, former secretary to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, who has acted as go-between with American and German diplomats for more than a year.
He is joined by Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, a former deputy foreign minister, and Shahabuddin Delawar, a former envoy to Riyadh, according to Mohammed Qalamuddin.

Qalamuddin, once chief of the Taliban’s “vice and virtue” police, told The Daily Telegraph the envoys were all well-educated, fluent in English and considered moderate, but committed to the movement.

He suggested all had travelled with the knowledge of Nato and the United States, though added Taliban figures were also able to flout travel sanctions easily by using counterfeit passports.

Abdul Hakim Mujahid, deputy leader of the peace council and the Taliban’s envoy to the UN at the time of the September 11 attacks, said one of his secretaries from New York, Sohail Shaheen, was also in Qatar.

The delegation was completed by Hafiz Aziz Rahman, the Taliban’s third secretary in Abu Dhabi before 2001, who has lived in Qatar for several years.

“He played a very important role in this process,” said Mujahid. “They have all moved there,” he added.

Former Guatemalan Dictator Ríos Montt to face genocide charges for 1980s abuses

By AFP
Tens of thousands died during the former Guatemala strongman’s rule from 1982-1983.
Efraín Ríos Montt 1

AFP

Human rights organizations have long called for former Guatemalan dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, 85, to be prosecuted for genocide. Several massacres occurred during his rule from 1982-1983.

GUATEMALA CITY – A Guatemalan judge ruled Thursday that there was sufficient evidence to try Efraín Ríos Montt on charges of genocide for abuses committed during the ex-general’s 1982-1983 military dictatorship.

Judge Patricia Flores said that the information presented by the prosecution showed that Ríos Montt, 85, should answer to charges of orchestrating the destruction of native Maya villages during the country’s civil war with leftist guerrillas.

Ríos Montt, known for his “scorched earth” campaign against Guatemala’s leftist rebels, will have to answer charges that his regime was responsible for the massacre of tens of thousands of people.

Flores set bail at $64,000 and ordered Ríos Montt to be placed under house arrest. She said the former general is not a flight risk.

Thursday’s hearing was to determine whether Ríos Montt should be formally charged with alleged atrocities that occurred during his regime, prosecutors said.

The hearing is the first since Ríos Montt lost the congressional immunity that for years had shielded him from prosecution for human rights crimes.

After the judge’s ruling, the atmosphere outside the courthouse took on a celebratory tone. Family members of massacre victims, human rights activists and other Guatemalans cheered and set off fireworks. Social media buzzed with posts about the historic ruling.

“‘Sa sa linch’ool laa’in,’ says a Q’eqchi supporter outside the #RiosMontt court hearing. ‘My heart is very, very happy,’” the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala tweeted.

Guatemala’s truth commission, which has been tasked with investigating the bloodletting, estimates that there have been some 200,000 casualties from the country’s 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Some of the worst atrocities are said to have taken place during Ríos Montt’s rule.

The U.N.-backed group – the Historical Clarification Commission – found that the government was guilty of a deliberate campaign of genocide against the mostly poor, indigenous massacre victims, many of whom were caught in the crossfire as the government battled leftist rebels.

Sarkozy Pushing for 2013 NATO Withdrawal from Afghanistan

Afghanistan: French soldiers have left the country in late 2013

leparisien

The repatriation of French troops deployed in Afghanistan will be completed by the end of 2013, a year earlier than the term of the late 2014 until then held by NATO.

The repatriation of French troops deployed in Afghanistan will be completed by the end of 2013, a year earlier than the term of the late 2014 until then held by NATO. | AFP / Eric Feferberg

The return of French troops deployed in Afghanistan fighting will be completed by the end of 2013,is one year earlier than the end of the end of 2014 so far adopted by NATO, said Friday Nicolas Sarkozy at the end of a talks with President Hamid Karzai.
Paris will transfer the security of Kapisa province in Afghanistan from March 2012, said the head of state. The new timetable for the withdrawal of some 3,600 French soldiers still present on Afghan soil provides that soldiers will return to France 1000 during the year 2012, against 600 in the previous project, said the head of state.  The training missions resumeNicolas Sarkozy said France would “ask NATO to reflect on a total support combat missions of NATO by the Afghan army in the year 2013. “The deadline so far by the coalition by the end of this transfer was the year 2014. The President also said that the missions of training the Afghan army led by the French army, which had been suspended after the death of four soldiers killed by an Afghan soldier a week ago, will resume “tomorrow” on Saturday. The head of state said that the French army would continue beyond 2013, these training missions with an effective “residual” compared to currently deployed. “It will be at least the order of a few hundreds” of men, said Nicolas Sarkozy.

Obfuscation Surrounds German Spies In Peshawar Story

[The following is taken from Germany’s premier news source, Der Spiegel, so we can assume that they have the known facts correct, namely, that the trio of spies consisted of one military man and a married couple.  The original reports from Pakistan’s Dawn gave the names as “Curtain Wild, a colonel in German army who has spent time in Afghanistan and Kosovo, Lauren and Rhodwolf Smith.”  I am going to take a wild guess and say that the names are Col. Curt Wild (or Wald) and Lauren and Rudolf Smith.  It is highly unlikely that there are any Germans named “Smith,” so no one can really know who they are.

Here is today’s anti-German Pakistani news item (SEE:  German arrested in Islamabad).] 

Berlin Demands Explanation for ‘Spy’ Detentions

By Hasnain Kazim in Islamabad

Police escort the three German citizens to Islamabad on Jan. 21. Zoom

DPA

Police escort the three German citizens to Islamabad on Jan. 21.

There is tension between Berlin and Islamabad after Pakistan detained three alleged German intelligence agents near the Afghan border. The men were unable to prove their claims to be aid workers. The mysterious incident has real development organizations worried about their reputation and safety.

The case of three Germans who were arrested and interrogated by Pakistani police over the weekend has strained relations between the two countries. Berlin summoned Pakistan’s acting ambassador to Germany on Monday in protest of the approach taken by local Pakistani authorities, but not all of their questions were answered.

“In our view, the incident still needs further clarification,” a German Foreign Ministry source told SPIEGEL ONLINE. The Pakistani embassy confirmed that Berlin had made its “concern” known.The diplomatic protest note signals a new turn in the case. Before this, Berlin had neither background information nor confirmation that the Germans had been questioned. It’s a delicate issue, because Pakistan claims the three people work for Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND), the country’s foreign intelligence agency. The Foreign Ministry has not confirmed this, however, describing them instead as “diplomatically registered workers for the embassy in Islamabad.”

The trio, which has reportedly since been released, was arrested on Saturday in the western Pakistani city of Peshawar and brought to the capital Islamabad for questioning. According to Pakistani police, the two men and one woman gave conflicting reports about their identities. “First they said they worked for a development agency,” a Peshawar police officer said. “Then they said they worked for the German Embassy and were tasked with overseeing development projects in the region.” They were reportedly unable to prove their claims with documentation.

Pakistani authorities also found business cards in the trio’s possession that indicated they were from the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the organization under which their vehicle was also registered. But Pakistani intelligence sources claim they were actually BND agents. “We have observed them for a long while and determined they were spying,” said a source familiar with the case.

Unanswered Questions

Though the BND has declined to comment, sources within German and regional Pakistani security circles have confirmed that the people in custody were German foreign agents. German sources, however, did not confirm that they had been disguised as development workers. Sources in Berlin suggested that someone in Pakistan wanted to discredit the GIZ.

Pakistani officials reportedly came across the three Germans after reviewing whether all foreigners in the city had registered with the authorities. The group in question had apparently not done so. One of the men was reportedly determined to be a colonel with years of foreign intelligence experience in Bosnia, among other places. The Pakistani police not only released the names of the detainees, but also allowed them to be photographed by the local press.

SPIEGEL ONLINE has learned that the trio has since been handed over to the German Embassy in Islamabad, after which they were flown back to Germany on Sunday night.

For decades, the BND has run a one-man office in Peshawar, with other workers based at the embassy in Islamabad. BND employees are said to travel regularly to the region to support colleagues there. In addition to observing the state of the troubled nation, their efforts concentrate mainly on gaining information on extremists, particularly German jihadists. Officially, the agents operate as political consultants.

A number of questions arise after the arrests. Did the German Development Ministry and the GIZ know that Germany agents were passing themselves off as aid workers? Did the agents have Berlin’s blessing to do so?

The German Embassy in Islamabad declined to comment on the matter, but sources in diplomatic circles said that people at the embassy have been “very busy” since the weekend. Meanwhile the GIZ has said that the three Germans were not their employees. “Furthermore, we didn’t lend a vehicle to anyone,” a spokeswoman said.

A member of Development Minister Dirk Niebel’s staff made a similar statement: “We have no knowledge of the incident. As to the question of to what extent agents use the identities of development workers, you would have to ask the BND.”

‘Under General Suspicion’

A number of German development organizations are active in Pakistan, particularly after the flood catastrophe in the summer of 2010. But after the arrests, some workers worry they will be suspected of being spies instead. “That is definitely a life-threatening issue,” said one development worker who asked not to be named. “Certainly extremists don’t think twice when they believe someone is a Western spy. And we work in a lot of regions where there are extremists.”Just last week, a German development worker and an Italian were kidnapped in the central Pakistani city of Multan. The kidnappers demanded a ransom over the weekend, sources in Pakistan said. According to a police officer, the people behind the abduction are likely “regular criminals,” and not extremists.

But if there is an impression that many development workers might be spies, the result could be more kidnappings and murders, sources in the field say. “If rumors circulate that secret agents are operating under the cover of development aid and using our good reputation to gain the trust of their sources, then we will all fall under general suspicion,” said one worker at a Catholic aid organization in Islamabad. “The BND must immediately make it clear that something like this will never happen again. Otherwise we might as well discontinue our work immediately.”

With reporting by Matthias Gebauer, Yassin Musharbash and Veit Medick

These Men Were Alive When Taken from the Black Hole Called Adiala Jail

SC asks DGs ISI, MI to explain missing persons’ deaths

Thursday, January 26, 2012

ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court Wednesday issued notices to the defence secretary, director generals of the ISI and MI, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general in a missing personsí petition.

The court accepted a plea to inquire about the deaths of four missing prisoners out of 11, who were allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies from outside Adiala Jail following their release in 2010.

The court sought a reply in this regard from the attorney general (AG) by January 30. A three-member bench, comprising Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Khilji Arif Hussain and Justice Tariq Parvez, was hearing a petition filed by Ruhaifa, the mother of three of the prisoners.

The court issued notices to other respondents, including the defence secretary, ISI and MI director generals, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa advocate general. During the hearing, the chief justice expressed concern over the death of four missing prisoners and asked the AG that the matter be probed keeping in view its seriousness.

Tariq Asad, counsel for the applicant, submitted that he had a video of the prisoners who were killed using torture. He said the bodies of three missing prisoners were found in hospitals but the last one was recovered from a forest near Peshawar. The AG requested the court to give some time to gather details from the relevant authorities. The court adjourned the hearing till January 30.

In the petition Ruhaifa had stated that four of the 11 prisoners allegedly picked up by intelligence agencies, despite their release by the Lahore High Court, died in their custody. She said her three sons ñ Syed Abdus Saboor, Syed Abdul Basit and Syed Abdul Majid ñ along with eight other people were still in the “unlawful” custody of the agencies.

Muhammad Aamir died on August 15, Tashinullah on December 17 and Said Arab on December 18 last year. Their bodies were handed over to their families at the Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar.

Ruhaifa’s lawyer requested the court to direct the respondents to submit a report about the deaths of the three prisoners, and the status of the remaining detainees. The petitioner also said the detention of the prisoners was in violation of Articles 4, 10, 10-A and 14 of the Constitution. “The respondents should also be asked to explain if all the prisoners are subject to the Army Act,” Ruhaifa said in the petition.

Agencies admit custody of 11 missing Adiala inmates


Sohail Khan
Friday, December 10, 2010

ISLAMABAD: The top intelligence agencies of the country admitted before the Supreme Court on Thursday that 11 missing inmates of the Adiala Jail were in their custody and were being tried under the Army Act.

Raja Muhammad Irshad, the counsel for the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and Military Intelligence (MI), told a three-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, that the inmates were high profile terrorists, who carried out terrorist attacks on Army personnel and defence installations. The bench heard the case of 11 missing prisoners of the Adiala Jail.Earlier, on November 24, heads of the spy agencies, including the Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau and Military Intelligence, submitted a reply through Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq with the Registrar Office of the apex court, stating that 11 missing prisoners of the Adiala Jail were not in the custody of these agencies.

Raja Muhammad Irshad further stated that some persons disguised as secret agencies personnel took custody of these 11 persons who were detained at the Adiala Jail after their release from the jail, and took them to the operational areas to further carry out terrorist attacks.

Later, the counsel submitted before the court that the law enforcing agencies, including secret agencies, had launched an operation and arrested more than 20 people, along these 11 persons, and they were interrogated as they had deep links with terrorists in different areas of the country and damaged the property of the country, attacking the Army personnel and defence installations.

The counsel further submitted that these 11 persons were in the custody of secret agencies and law enforcing agencies and were being interrogated in accordance with the law under the Army Act. He contended were no more missing persons but were in custody of local and secret agencies. To a court query, the counsel said they were safe and alive and being court-martialed under the Army Act.

“I am making a clear statement before the court on behalf of these secret agencies and dispel the impression that the Pakistan Army or any of its functionaries, like the ISI, are not amenable to this court,” the counsel submitted, adding that Pakistan Army and ISI and other organisations were subject to the Constitution and hold this court in high esteem.

The counsel further contended that there were certain elements who had vested interests and were creating misunderstandings by giving an impression that the Pakistan Army and the ISI were above the law and had no respect for the court.

He explained that this impression may not be considered at all as they had full respect and were bound to follow orders and judgments of this court. The court directed the learned counsel to submit his written statement in this regard on Friday (today) and adjourned the hearing.

Earlier on December 7, officials of secret agencies had met Attorney General Maulvi Anwarul Haq in his office at the Supreme Court and told him that there was a major breakthrough in the case of missing prisoners. Just after the meeting, the attorney general had filed an application in the Supreme Court, seeking early hearing of the missing prisoners’ case, already fixed for hearing on December 13, stating that a major development had occurred in the case, thus it needed to be heard on urgent basis.

On November 25, the court had questioned the law, which regulated functioning of the secret agencies, besides inquiring under what law these agencies were claiming immunity to be not made respondents in the constitutional petitions.

Referring to a reply submitted by the heads of secret agencies in the Supreme Court through the attorney general that missing inmates of Adiala Jail were not in their custody; agencies could not be made respondents in the constitutional petitions and pleas of missing prisoners’ legal heirs making the agencies as respondents were not maintainable; the court had expressed severe anguish, asking the attorney general to tell under which law, the spy agencies were working and claiming immunity not to be impleaded respondents in any case.

The attorney general, however, had withdrawn the reply that secret agencies had immunity and could not be made respondents in any case, after the court had expressed severe dismay over the reply.

The chief justice had noted that no one was above the law, and the court wanted solution to the matter instead of opening Pandora’s box. On November 12, the court had issued notices to the heads of secret agencies—ISI, MI and IB—seeking their comments over disappearance of Adiala Jail’s inmates.

The chief justice had noted that the court should not be forced to go to the maximum extent as evidence was there about the whereabouts of the missing prisoners. The chief justice had noted that it was stated in the Special Branch’s daily situation report (DSR) presented before the court earlier that these prisoners were picked up by the secret agencies from Adiala Jail.

The prisoners, who went missing from the Adiala Jail after the Lahore High Court (LHC) had ordered their release, include Dr Niaz Ahmed, Mazharul Haq, Shafiqur Rehman, Muhammad Aamir, Abdul Majid, Abdul Basit, Abdul Saboor, Shafique Ahmed, Said Arab, Gul Roze and Tehseenullah.

These prisoners were acquitted by the anti-terrorism court in April this year in four different cases, including rocket firing on the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, rocket firing on the plane of former President Pervez Musharraf, suicide attack on the bus of personnel of an intelligence agency in Rawalpindi and the suicide attack on the main entrance of the military headquarters.

Even after acquittal, these prisoners were detained in the jail by the Punjab Home Department. Later, the LHC set aside their detention orders directing their immediate release and after their alleged disappearance/abduction by the secret agencies, the LHC ordered registration of criminal case against Adiala Jail superintendent Saeedullah and Deputy Superintendent Khalid Bashir. The Adiala Jail authorities had maintained before the LHC that they properly had released the men after getting their written signatures and fulfilling all requirements.

APP adds: A counsel for country’s sensitive agency on Thursday apprised the Supreme Court that eleven missing prisoners of Adyala Jail had been arrested along with a number of terrorists from their hideouts in Army operational areas.

Raja Muhammad Irshad, counsel for Federation, Pakistan Army, Inter-Services Intelligence, Intelligence Bureau, Military Intelligence, told a three-member bench consisting of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Justice Ghulam Rabbani and Justice Khalilur Rehman Ramday that after Court’s direction a massive operation was launched and more than 20 terrorists including these eleven people had been arrested in the operational areas.

He said they were in safe and secure hands and would be charged under Army Act. He assured the court that their trial would be held in General Field Court Martial in accordance with law.

Recording his statement on behalf of respondents, he said that the impression should be dispelled that Pakistan Army and its other institutions were above law and the Court. He said negative impression was given by certain elements who had been playing in the hands of those people who were out to secure their vested interests.

He said, “I want to record a statement to dispel the impression that Pakistan Army or any of its organ is above law and defy Court’s orders. They submit themselves before the Constitution and hold the apex court in the highest regard.”

“They appreciate what the Court is doing for the constitutional governance of the country,” he added. He said these institutions were bound to follow order and judgement of this Court.

Giving details of the incident, he said these prisoners soon after their release from the jail voluntarily given themselves in the custody of people who disguised themselves as secret agencies personnel.

From there, they were taken to operational areas as they had close links with a well-knit terrorists organization and were prepared to cause further damage by launching attacks on Army and sensitive installations.

Irshad said that these people were masterminds of terrorists attacks of Hamza Camp, GHQ, Kamra, Juma prayer attack and even involved in an attack on three-star general in Rawalpindi.

Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry told Ilyas Aziz Siddiqui, counsel for petitioners, that they were no more missing ones. To counsel’s objection, the Chief Justice told him that he could contact concerned authorities as the counsel had assured the Court that they would be treated according to law.

To Raja Irshad’s remark, the chief justice observed that they had much respect for Army and its organs as they were defending the country, countrymen and frontiers. Justice Ghulam Rabbani said that they knew it very well that forces had laid down their lives for the protection of country.

The chief justice told Raja Irshad to submit his statement before the Court on Friday in written form after which the order would be passed accordingly. The prisoners who went missing from the Adiala Jail after the Lahore High Court (LHC) had ordered their release included: Dr Niaz Ahmed, Mazhar-ul-Haq, Shafiqur Rehman, Muhammad Aamir, Abdul Majid, Abdul Basit, Abdul Saboor, Shafique Ahmed, Said Arab, Gul Roze and Tehseenullah.

The prisoners were acquitted by an Anti-Terrorism Court in April this year in four different cases, including rocket firing on the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, Kamra, rocket firing on the plane of former president, suicide attack on the bus of personnel of an intelligence agency in Rawalpindi and the suicide attack on the main entrance of the Military Headquarters.

NATO Chief: Basic Components Of European Missile Defense To Be Ready By May

NATO Chief: Basic Components Of European Missile Defense To Be Ready By May

(RTTNews) – NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that the initial components of the European missile defense system is expected to be in place by the time of the Chicago Summit in May.

He said this on Thursday, while launching NATO’s first ever ‘Annual Report,’ which gives a brief overview of the Alliance’s principal achievements and challenges in 2011.

The missile defense system to defend European Allies’ populations, territory and forces against the growing threat of ballistic missile proliferation is “smart defense” at its best and it embodies transatlantic solidarity, the NATO chief said in his foreword to the annual report.

He said the Alliance had already made considerable progress, as along with a prominent and phased U.S. contribution, a number of Allies have made significant announcements, including Turkey, Poland, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands and France. These different national contributions will be gradually brought together under a common NATO command and control system. Key elements of it have already been tested successfully, Rasmussen added.

The Chicago Summit will be “an opportunity to renew our commitment to the vital transatlantic bond between us and to redouble our efforts to share the burden of security more effectively,” according to him. He said important decisions will be taken at the summit “to keep NATO committed, capable and connected.”

The assessment of Alliance activities in the annual report 2011 focuses on NATO operations, emerging security challenges, modernization of NATO – its structures and capabilities – as well as NATO’s growing partnerships. These areas are examined against the backdrop of the financial crisis.

In 2011, NATO operations continued across three continents. In Afghanistan, greater stability and the beginning of transition characterized 2011. Although Afghanistan constitutes the Alliance’s most significant operational commitment to date, 2011 was marked by the Alliance’s Operation Unified Protector in Libya, which mobilized NATO forces for seven months to protect civilians from attack. Progress in Kosovo was marred by peaks of violence in the north, whereas counter-piracy efforts off the Horn of Africa and in the Gulf of Aden helped to reduce the pirate attack success rate in 2011. And NATO’s training mission in Iraq was terminated on December 31 after eight years of operation.

The report highlights the key measures taken by NATO to tackle cyber attacks, to respond to the growing number of countries acquiring ballistic missiles and to counter terrorism. These are among the emerging security challenges that directly threaten the security of NATO’s almost 900 million citizens.

1   2   Next Page

A Bullying Blowhard Called “Newt”

Bullying blowhard Newt lacks restraint to be real conservative

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has his ears rubbed by his wife Callista at the Art Trails Gallery in Florence
Newt Gingrich’s third wife, Callista, tugs the Republican presidential candidate’s ears before a speaking engagement in Florence, S.C., last week. The former U.S. House speaker doesn’t take kindly to questions about his morality. (JASON REED, Reuters Photo / January 17, 2012)
John Kass
The giddy Republican faithful in South Carolina barked “Newt! Newt! Newt!” as if they were at “The Jerry Springer Show” rather than a presidential debate, and he performed for them, huffing and puffing himself up like some gigantic, angry amphibian.And when the bullfrog was finally full of his own gas, he turned and joyously thumped that squeamish TV reporter who had dared ask the obvious question:

Is Newt Gingrich — Republican presidential candidate and decider of who has the proper moral authority to lead America — in favor of open marriage, as was alleged in an interview by former Mrs. Newt No. 2?

Gingrich said that was a disgusting question, and the crowd cheered, giving voice to conservative desperation. The reporter asked the right question, but blinked and gulped anyway, clear signals that he didn’t want any more. This inflamed the bully in Newt, and he bore down on his victim as a frog to a fly, the tongue a deadly bludgeon on national television.

The stage is where Newt lives, whether on the floor of Congress or some cable news set or the stump, and theGOP debate in South Carolina last week was the perfect habitat for the man, a platform for rhetoric and performance and anger, a place where he could show us how quick and dangerous he can be.

It was Newt’s moment to show a desperate Republican conservative faithful that he could whomp a reporter, and by extension whomp the “liberal media,” and by extension whomp its man President Barack Obama, who’d been swept into office largely on the babbling insistence of Beltway journalists that the corrupt Chicago Democratic machine could produce a reformer.

So Newt whomped and the crowd cheered, and there were ovations and whooping cries of “Newt! Newt! Newt!” and he showed some teeth in what was supposed to be a smile.

That’s when I saw something oily moving around back there in his eyes and I began worrying that if this bullfrog becomes president, America may be doomed.

A few days before, he’d played a variation on the Angry Newt theme, when a voter asked whether he would bloody Obama’s nose in a debate and Newt paused, and filled himself up again, and said, “I don’t want to bloody his nose, I want to knock him out.”

Knock him out?

Who’s the tough guy?

That’s when I realized that his mission isn’t to lead the country as much as to satisfy his own rage. Newt doesn’t want to merely win, he wants to destroy and remake the world. So he’s not a conservative. He’s a revolutionary. And the sound of his own voice is both sun and moon to him.

The common wisdom is that Newt did well for himself by thumping on the reporter, and indeed it may help him politically in the short run. He certainly knows how to take advantage of vulnerability, and while his theatrical and pious outrage may have helped his prospects, the proper question is whether it helps America as much as it helps Newt.

Those who don’t know me will certainly condemn me as a liberal for saying this, but the crowd’s reaction, the “Newt! Newt! Newt!” and the fist pumping are clear indications of the desperation conservatives feel these days.

I understand. They see what’s coming, they fear the left-listing direction of government and the dreariness of an Eastern European-style socialist state, with the people bowing like frightened peasants when those with political power approach. Those of us in Illinois have lived in such a place for years now. It is a place where public office is handed down from parent to child as if it’s the natural order of things.

Being a conservative is about restraint, but Newt is not about restraint. Newt is about Newt and what Newt wants when he wants it. The man who professes loathing of big government is pleased when big government brings juicy benefits. He might brush off questions about that $1.8 million from lobbying or whatever he says he did with Freddie Mac, but he took the money.

Newt wants reporters to ask tough questions of Democrats. That’s fair. But he becomes almost violently angry if anyone dares ask him about what his appetites tell us about his own character, since Mrs. Newt No. 1 led to Mrs. Newt No. 2, who led to Mrs. Newt No. 3. Somewhere in between, he puffed himself up to hypocritically rip on the eternally despicable President Bill Clinton, declaring Clinton did not have the “moral authority” to lead.

“Grandiosity has never been a problem with Newt Gingrich. He — he handles it very, very well,” said candidate and former Sen. Rick Santorum. “… Four years into his speakership, he was thrown out by the conservatives. … I served with him. I was there. I knew what the problems were going on in the House of Representatives when Newt Gingrich was leading this — leading there. It was an idea a minute, no discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together.”

But what Newt offers isn’t discipline and restraint.

Instead, he offers emotion. He offers anger. He offers Newt.

jskass@tribune.com

For the US To Get On the Right Side of Human History

For a US revolution

“I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.”— Dr Martin Luther King, Jr 1967

One. Human rights must be taken absolutely seriously. Every single person is entitled to dignity and human rights. No application needed. No exclusions at all. This is our highest priority.

Two. We must radically reinvent contemporary democracy. Current systems are deeply corrupt and not responsive to the needs of the people. Representatives chosen by money and influence govern by money and influence. This is unacceptable. Direct democracy by the people is now technologically possible and should be the rule. Communities must be protected whenever they advocate for self-determination, self-development and human rights. Dissent is essential to democracy; we pledge to help it flourish.

Three. Corporations are not people and are not entitled to human rights. Amend the US Constitution so it is clear corporations do not have constitutional or human rights. We the people must cut them down to size and so democracy can regulate their size, scope and actions.

Four. Leave the rest of the world alone. Cut the US military spending by 75 percent and bring all troops outside the US home now. Defense of the US is a human right. Global offense and global police force by the US military are not. Eliminate all nuclear and chemical and biological weapons. Stop allowing scare tactics to build up the national security forces at home. Stop the myth that the US is somehow special or exceptional and is entitled to act differently than all other nations. The US must re-join the global family of nations as a respectful partner. The USA is one of many nations in the world. We must start acting like it.

Five. Property rights, privilege, and money-making are not as important as human rights. When current property and privilege arrangements are not just they must yield to the demands of human rights. Money-making can only be allowed when human rights are respected. Exploitation is unacceptable. There are national and global poverty lines. We must establish national and global excess lines so that people and businesses with extra houses, cars, luxuries, and incomes share much more to help everyone else be able to exercise their basic human rights to shelter, food, education and healthcare. If that disrupts current property, privilege and money-making, so be it.

Six. Defend our earth. Stop pollution, stop pipelines, stop new interstates, and stop destroying the land, sea, and air by extracting resources from them. Rebuild what we have destroyed. If corporations will not stop voluntarily, people must stop them. The very existence of life is at stake.

Seven. Dramatically expand public spaces and reverse the privatisation of public services. Quality public education, health and safety for all must be provided by transparent accountable public systems. Starving the state is a recipe for destroying social and economic human rights for everyone but the rich.

Eight. Pull the criminal legal prison system up and out by its roots and start over. Cease the criminalisation of drugs, immigrants, poor people and people of colour. We are all entitled to be safe but the current system makes us less so and ruins millions of lives. Start over.

Nine. The US was created based on two original crimes that must be confessed and made right. Reparations are owed to Native Americans because their land was stolen and they were uprooted and slaughtered. Reparations are owed to African Americans because they were kidnapped, enslaved and abused. The US has profited widely from these injustices and must make amends.

Ten. Everyone who wants to work should have the right to work and earn a living wage. Any workers who want to organise and advocate for change in solidarity with others must be absolutely protected from recriminations from their employer and from their government.

Finally, if those in government and those in power do not help the people do what is right, people seeking change must together exercise our human rights and bring about these changes directly. Dr King and millions of others lived and worked for a radical revolution of values. We will as well. We respect the human rights and human dignity of others and work for a world where love and wisdom and solidarity and respect prevail. We expect those for whom the current unjust system works just fine will object and oppose and accuse people seeking dramatic change of being divisive and worse. That is to be expected because that is what happens to all groups which work for serious social change. Despite that, people will continue to go forward with determination and purpose to bring about a radical revolution of values in the USA.

Courtesy: http://www.counterpunch.org

“The brazen, in-your-face hypocrisy of it all makes you sick”

War by other means

Here’s a brief history lesson. At the height of World War II, when Hitler’s Germany was swallowing one mighty European nation after another without so much as a hiccup, Britain got so desperate for the US help that it resorted to all sorts of tricks to get the Atlantic cousins involved.That old warhorse Churchill is said to have actually dispatched William Stephenson, Britain’s master spy and the man who inspired Ian Fleming’s James Bond, to the US to try everything from bribing and blackmailing the US senators to creating false flag situations to force the US into the war against Germany. An unwilling America under a reluctant Roosevelt eventually joined the Great War after Germany invaded the Soviet Union.As this psychological, diplomatic and economic war on Iran heats up, history appears to repeat itself all over again. Israel and its friends in the US establishment appear more desperate than the British had ever been to get Uncle Sam into the breathlessly awaited war with Iran. Desperate nations are as dangerous as desperate, suicidal men.

From the Mossad men posing as CIA agents to recruit saboteurs to assassinating top Iranian nuclear scientists that could be blamed on the ‘Great Satan’, Israel has already taken this campaign against the Islamic republic to dangerous levels. Right now tensions between Iran and the West are so thick that even a minor skirmish or misunderstanding could spark a full blown conflagration. The assassination of Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, Deputy Director of Natanz nuclear plant, this month is the fourth such killing of top Iranian nuclear scientists over the past year and half.

This is not just an act of terror, as Tehran chose to describe it, but a declaration of war. It would have provoked a third world war if the US and the now deceased Soviet Union had attempted something similar against each other’s scientists. No other country for that matter would tolerate such attacks on its citizens and national interests.

Fortunately or unfortunately, a much sanctioned and politically and economically besieged Iran is perhaps in no position to respond to these flagrant provocations. Israel and the West may not have declared it formally but the war on Iran has already begun – on several fronts. Its economy, already vulnerable thanks to the decades of crippling curbs, has further been brutalised by the latest UN-US sanctions targeting its Central Bank and the crucial oil trade.

The European Union, one of Tehran’s biggest trading partners and oil importers, has followed suit by banning Iran’s oil exports and freezing its financial assets. Goes without saying these actions are going to really hurt Iran considering some 80 percent of its foreign revenue comes from oil exports. With its economy on the brink and sanctions turning the riyal into worthless paper, inflation has hit the roof biting ordinary people.

On the political and diplomatic front too, Iran finds itself at the receiving end as it helplessly awaits the approaching D-day. Just as a much sanctioned Iraq did in the run up to the 2003 Invasion. Not a single day passes without the Israeli, American and European politicians and security experts pitching for urgent ‘action’ against Iran. Meanwhile, Washington and Tel Aviv are playing out the good cop-bad cop routine. The Americans raise the spectre of a unilateral Israeli attack even as the Zionists raise the bang-Iran rhetoric to a feverish pitch keeping the whole world dancing on the razor’s edge.

What is most disturbing though is not the perfidy of Israel or the hypocrisy of its protectors but the deafening silence of the international community. The less said of the United Nations the better. It increasingly reminds me of what Matthew Arnold said about Shelley – “an ineffectual angel, beating in the void his luminous wings in vain.”

The world body created to protect peace and resolve conflicts hasn’t just failed in its raison d’être – its purpose of existence – it has become a willing tool in the hands of the world powers. The UN has increasingly been acting as handmaiden of the empire, with its institutions like the IAEA offering the fig leaf of legitimacy and at times even aiding in its quest for global hegemony. But then what’s new? It’s a familiar and much repeated history.

What is most disturbing though is the shameful capitulation of the rest of the world in the face of this continuing tyranny and obfuscation. Abdicating its collective responsibility, the world community stands and stares once again as the coalition of the ever willing cooks up yet another unjust war against another oil-rich Muslim nation.

The brazen, in-your-face hypocrisy of it all makes you sick. A regime that sits on a neat pile of nukes and has a long history of aggression and countries that all boast of mountains of the deadliest of weapons ever invented are all ganging up on a nation that has played by the book and claims to seek nuclear power for peaceful purposes. There has been nothing so far to suggest otherwise. After all, the IAEA has been digging for more than a decade.

More important, according to the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, it’s not illegal for a member state to undertake nuclear enrichment, or even to maintain the so-called nuclear option, just as Japan, Brazil and Argentina have done all these years. You cross redline only when you take the enrichment to weapons grade level or divert it to a weapons programme. Which is yet to be established in Iran’s case. (Given this perpetual witch-hunt by the West and Israel and considering what happened to Iraq, would you be really surprised if the ayatollahs indeed began flirting with the nuke power?)

That said, Iran’s leaders aren’t exactly doing their people any service by forever obsessing over nuclear power at the expense of everything else. There is more to Iran, a civilisation with a 3000-year old history, than this endless brinkmanship.

The majority of Iran’s population today is young and was born after the 1979 Revolution. They have spent all their lives in isolation from the rest of the world thanks to decades of sanctions. They deserve better considering Iran is the second largest producer of oil after Saudi Arabia. The aspirations and hopes of young Iranians are little different from those of the young Arabs demanding their place in the sun.

Much of this is a result of years of vilification and vindictive policies by the West. But what is Iran itself doing to end its pariah status? How about building bridges with its Arab neighbours and addressing their apprehensions that are as much a result of Western propaganda as they are of its own rhetoric? Right now, Tehran needs all the friends and allies it could get.

Meanwhile the world community, including the Arab and Muslim states, must do everything to prevent this coming war. The Middle East cannot afford another Armageddon. The consequences of this misadventure in the volatile region could be unimaginably catastrophic for the Middle East and the world.

The writer is a commentator on Middle East and South Asian affairs.

Email: aijaz.syed@hotmail.com

Obama Tried To Bite-Off the Wrong Head

[

GOP Governor Jan Brewer In Public Meltdown With Obama

national confidential

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer thrust her finger in President Obama’s face during a public tantrum by the anti-immigration lawmaker.

tarmac as Air Force One arrived in Phoenix, Brewer exchanged words with the President about the inaccuracy of her portrayal of a previous meeting with the commander-in-chief in her book Scorpions for Breakfast.

The White House took the high road in describing the President’s encounter with Brewer. An administration official explained: “The President said he’d be glad to meet with her again, but did note that after their last meeting, a cordial discussion in the Oval Office, the governor inaccurately described the meeting in her book. The President looks forward to continuing taking steps to help Arizona’s economy grow.”

Arizona has been criticized by the U.S. Justice Department and others for its “papers please” immigration law that some describe as discriminatory towards latinos.

President Obama is in Arizona as part of his post-State Of The Union trip to an Intel plant.

Meeting Obama on the

Major Cuts In US Forces–Major Hiring of Drone Operators and Cyber-Technicians

[Since this is one report which keeps getting disappeared from this site (all of the disappeared articles concern the US Special Forces, primarily) it will remain fixed to the front page.  You can read all about the growing network and its call for technicians in the series “Smashing Greater Central Asia” included below.]

Manufacturing Justification for the NATO Takeover of Central Asia–Smashing Greater Central Asia – (Part One)

Smashing Greater Central Asia—Part II

Smashing Greater Central Asia—Part III   

Smashing Greater Central Asia – Part IV

Report: Military realignment to emphasize drones and special forces


[Try reporting anything that casts doubt on the official story about Obama’s Russian Reset and see what happens to your website and your computer.]

Top official: U.S. wants to cooperate with Russia in Central Asia

26 January 2012, 11:09 (GMT+04:00)

The U.S. does not seek long-term military presence in Central Asia, and not try to push out Russia from there, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Robert O. Blake said on Wednesday, ITAR-TASS reported.

“We seek to be very open towards our goals in Central Asia,” he said, speaking at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at the Johns Hopkins University. “We do not seek long-term military presence, and not try to push out Russia from there. On the contrary. We are looking for boosting cooperation with the Russians in the region,” he added.

Interaction on Afghanistan is of particular importance for the U.S. Supplies are delivered to the U.S. contingent in Afghanistan through Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and other Central Asian republics via the so-called Northern Distribution Network. Transit Center operates at the Manas Airport in Bishkek to assist the international anti-terrorist coalition.

Blake made it clear that without assistance of Russia, which enjoys great influence in the region, these efforts would be difficult. “The Russians are in such a position that they could block what we do if they want,” he said, adding that both countries “have many common interests” in Central Asia.

Blake confirmed that the U.S. intends to provide military assistance to Uzbekistan, with whom relations have significantly improved after Obama administration came to power.

“So far, no military assistance we have provided,” he said. The U.S. wants to avoid the current restrictions on military assistance to Uzbekistan, introduced by the U.S. in due time in the wake of dissatisfaction with the situation of human rights in the country. Blake said in any case the question is about “limited non-lethal military assistance” to support anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan.

Major Cyber-Attack Again, Folks

I am writing this from my daughter’s computer, since my computer cannot seem to access the Internet.  All of this happened since I dared to post the Hindu press article about US Special Forces killing Gaddafi.  As you can see from NoSunglasses front page that scrambling continues there.  I lucked-out just now, in logging-on here.  I must be doing something right, to receive so much unwanted attention.  According to StatCounter, I have been having quite a few unfriendly visitors.

What Is Really Going On In Syria: Insider Update

What Is Really Going On In Syria: Insider Update

By Boris DOLGOV (Russia)

What Is Really Going On In Syria: Insider Update

The current situation in Syria remains one of the most important components of the Middle Eastern and international policies. Using Syria’s domestic crisis and pursuing their own goals NATO, Israel, Turkey and the monarchies of the Persian Gulf are trying to undermine the Syrian regime.

Since the beginning of the crisis in Syria I have made two trips to that country as a member of international delegations in August 2011 and in January 2012. If we watch the dynamics of situation’s development over that period on the one hand we can state intensification of terrorist groups in Syria and on the other hand we see a broader people’s support of President Bashar Assad and a clear demarcation of political forces’ positions.

Two car bombers blew themselves up outside the heavily guarded compounds of Syria’s intelligence agencies, killing at least 44 people and wounding dozens more in a brazen attack in December 23, 2011.

In the last two months Syria has seen a number of terrorist attacks. The terrorist attacked Syrian servicemen and military facilities, law enforcement agencies institutions, blasts on oil pipelines, railroads, murders and taking of hostage among peaceful citizens (In the city of Homs insurgents killed five well known scientists), arson of schools and killing of teachers (since March 2011, 900 schools have been set on fire and 30 teachers have been killed).

Terrorist attacks in Damascus became one of the bloodiest. Two of them were carried out on December 23, 2011 when cars loaded with explosives went off in front of the buildings of state security service killing 44 and injured about 150 people. On January 6, 2012 on a busy street a suicide bomber attack killed 26 and wounded 60. There were officers of the law enforcement agencies among the victims but most of the victims were occasional by-passers.

In January 2012, Damascus has a more severe look in comparison with summer of 2011. Security officers check passports on the way to the airport, asking people what country they are from. Entrances of many state institutions are protected with concrete blocks. There are check points with sand bags near the police stations which are protected by soldiers in bullet proof vests. Lifting gates which close entrances to some of the streets are also by guarded by soldiers and young people with machine guns – these are volunteers from pro-governmental youth movements. But everyday life has not drastically changed. There are no servicemen, armed vehicles or document checks in the city. Damascus is still a busy city, with no vacant seats in internet cafes and on weekends streets are crowded with family couples and young people.

After terrorist attacks in Damascus demonstrations with slogans supporting Bashar Assad and condemning terrorists were held everyday. Similar demonstrations were organized in other large cities such as Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Daraa, Deir az Zor. These demonstrations were covered by the Syrian TV. During our stay in Syria we could move around the city freely and speak with people as we liked but we did not see any single anti-governmental rally. Most of the rallies’ participants were young people.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad waves at supporters during a public appearance in Damascus on January 11, 2012 in which he vowed to defeat a “conspiracy” against Syria.

The most massive rally which gathered tens thousands of people was held on January 1 in the center of Damascus. At that rally Bashar Assad addressed to the nation starting his speech with the words: “Brothers and sisters!” He was speaking about a thousands year long history, the need to fight terrorism and the support terrorists receive from abroad. Assad’s speech was received with real enthusiasm and there were no signs that this reaction had been staged.

The whole square (tens thousands of people) shouted a popular slogan “Allah, Syria, Bashar!” (“Allah, Syria va Bashar bas!”). On January 8, in the memory of victims of terrorist attacks in Damascus a commemoration ceremony was held in St. Cross Cathedral in Damascus. The Mufti of Syria Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun, the metropolitan of the Syrian Orthodox Church and the prior of the Catholic monastery spoke at the ceremony. In their speeches they condemned “the killers and those who put weapons in their hands and sent them to Syria”. The tragedy of the mufti of Syria, whose son was killed by the members of the Islamist terrorist group after the mufti had refused to act on the side of the foreign opposition, which goal was to overthrow Bashar Assad, is a telling example in itself.

After the adoption of a new law on political parties an active process of their creation has been underway in Syria. Although formally the constitution envisaged a multiparty system and seven parties were represented in the parliament, in compliance with clause 8 the leading role belonged to the ruling Baath party. Currently there is a wide discussion in Syria about this clause. An official with the Syrian Foreign Ministry told us that in the new constitution (on which the national referendum would be held in February), this clause would be abolished if most of the public and political forces spoke for it.

In his address to the nation Bashar Assad said that the new constitution would be approved in March 2012. The parliamentary elections are to be held in May-June 2012. Along with the law on political parties new laws on general elections, local administration and mass media were adopted. In compliance with the new law in December 2011 elections to the local governments were held. But because of the threat of terrorist attacks the turnout was only 42%, which was confirmed by the Baath officials. Nevertheless, the local administrations were elected and began to work. Under the recently adopted law new mass media are being formed in addition to the current 20 TV channels, 15 radio stations and 30 newspapers.

At present there are three main trends in the Syrian patriotic opposition – democratic, liberal and left, which is mainly a communist one. The Syrian Social Nationalist Party is the most influential party among the democratic forces. It is also the oldest party which was established in 1932. As Iliah Saman, a member of the political bureau of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party said, the party’s program is more conservative in comparison with the Baath’s program. Nevertheless there are no differences of principle between the two parties. According to him, the policy of the US, France and England is the main destabilizing factor in Syria. He said that those countries were acting in the interests of Israel and had the goal to divide Syria into five state formations on the basis of religious and ethnical differences.

The liberal trend of the opposition is represented by the recently registered secular democratic social movement led by Nabil Feysal, one of the Syrian intellectuals, a writer and a translator. He is an outright opponent of the Islamic fundamentalism, supporter of the liberal democracy. His goal is to turn Syria into “Middle Eastern Denmark”.

The National Committee for the Unity of Syrian Communists is the most influential component of the left (communist) trend of the opposition within the country. Recently it has changed its name for the Popular Will Party which is headed by Qadri Jamil, a prominent Syrian economist and the professor at the Damascus University. He is the only representative of the opposition who entered the committee on the design of the new constitution. Jamil believes that the national dialogue and creation of the government of the national unity (which would include representatives of the patriotic opposition) is the only way out of the crisis. At the same time he thinks that it is necessary to remove all the politicians who are not interested in conduction of reforms from the government, to clean up the opposition from destructive factors and to suppress its radical members who tend to use violence.

The coordination committees are also significant political force which has contacts with the Popular Will Party. These committees on the one hand organize demonstrations demanding concrete reforms and better living conditions on the other hand act as self-defense units which armed people protect their districts from attacks of terrorist groups in particular from a so called Liberal Syrian Army. It should be noted that although in the beginning of protests in Syria, part of the population, including intellectuals shared the opposition discontent with the regime and supported demands on democratization now, after intensification of terrorist groups, they tend to support the regime and the reforms proposed by the government.

French TV reporter Gilles Jacquier

A telling example of terrorist crimes was the shelling of a quarter in Homs on January 11 which killed eight local residents. Giles Jacquier, a reporter with France-2 TV, became one more victim of the attack. We spoke with Jacquier shortly before his tragic death and he was convinced that people’s protests were suppressed by the authoritarian regime in Syria. He was looking for the opposition everywhere trying to make a report. On failing to find it in Damascus he moved with a group of Dutch and Swiss colleagues to Homs. But in Homs he also met people who were supporting Bashar Assad and demanding to protect them from terrorists. A group of local residents and Giles Jacquier who happened to be near came under a grenade thrower fire, which was a common thing in that district. Commenting the tragic death of the French reporter Mother Agnes Mariam, who is the prior of the St James Catholic Cathedral in Damascus, said that there is no protesting opposition in Syria but only bandits who are killing people.

Many people we contacted in Syria including independent foreign reporters told us about the information war against Syria. According to them, Qatari channel Al Jazeera, for example, in order to broadcast a report on mass anti-governmental rallies in Syria made a fake footage with the help of computer editing using dozens of atmosphere players and decoration of Syrian streets, a kind of “Hollywood village”.

As for the Syrian opposition abroad, its political part is represented by the Syrian National council with the headquarters in Istanbul. It is headed by Burhan Ghalioun, a Syrian-French political scientist at the Sorbonne University in Paris. It is quite a heterogeneous formation which comprises groups with different goals. They represent the Muslim Brotherhood and other Sunnite organizations, Kurdish separatists, Liberal-Democratic dissidents who usually reside in Europe and in the US.

The armed opposition which conducted terrorist attacks in Syria is represented by a number of groups from a military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood to the Libyan radical Islamists and Al Qaeda. According to the information we receive from our Syrian colleagues there are training camps for insurgents in Lebanon and Turkey. The officers of security services of NATO, Turkey and some Arab states are in charge for the training and armament of the insurgents, while the monarchies of the Persian Gulf provide the financing.

The future development of the situation in Syria depends in many ways on the ability of the ruling regime to consolidate public forces and conduct the announced reforms. Other priorities are the liquidation of terrorist groups and stabilization of the domestic situation. In its turn this issue is directly linked to the development of the global policies and will depend on the activities of the leading countries of NATO, Turkey, the Arab League (which sent its monitors to Syria) Russia and China.

As for Russia, it firmly declares that repetition of the “Libyan scenario” in Syria is inadmissible.

Amb. Crocker Wants Journalists To Ignore the Potential Division of Afghanistan

 

[I guess Amb. Crock thinks that former Ambassador  Robert D. Blackwill is also a liar?  His spilling the beans in his article Plan B in Afghanistan must have been an unwelcome surprise to the secret planners.  Our govt. has yet to tell us or anyone else the truth about what they have planned in their ideas of “persistent”/perpetual war.  The Pentagon has often admitted that we will be in Afghanistan for decades, if not forever.  Any attempt to get us out of there by 2014 can only end in Afghanistan’s permanent division and vicious civil war.  By arming the Northern Alliance forces from the beginning as US proxies against the Taliban, the Bush-beleaguers created conditions for never-ending war, permanent division and civil war.  Pointing-out these obvious facts in no way dishonors America’s dead.  They are dead because they were sent to wage war for Empire under impossible conditions.  The dishonor comes with their participation in this entire dishonest affair.  That cannot be erased.]

Envoy: Rumors of plan to divide Afghanistan ‘dishonor’ sacrifice of 1,800 US troops

 

By msnbc.com staff

The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan on Tuesday condemned rumors that the United States is planning to divide the war-torn country, saying the suggestions were “lies that dishonor the sacrifice of more than 1,800 American service members who have died in the cause of a unified Afghanistan.”

Ambassador Ryan Crocker said in a statement that a “free and independent media plays a vital role in any democracy” and that Afghanistan’s media and the Afghan government spokespersons were “important elements in our close bilateral relationship.”

But he then went on to say that, “rumors that the United States has a plan to divide Afghanistan or change its form of government are, frankly speaking, lies that dishonor the sacrifice of more than 1,800 American service members who have died in the cause of a unified Afghanistan, governed by its Constitution.”

advertisement

And he added that the idea “that the United States is seeking a secret deal with the Taliban at the expense of the Afghan government and people” was “another false and absurd rumor.”

‘Democratic and unified’
Crocker stressed that the United States was “committed to supporting the efforts of the central government, to build a strong, secure, democratic, and unified Afghanistan.”

“We have no other aim or goal,” he added, pointing out that American taxpayers had provided billions of dollars over the past decade to support “the government and people of Afghanistan.”

Crocker appeared to be addressing reports in the Afghan media, although The New York Times also reported Thursday last week that Afghan officials were worried about the possibility the Taliban might make a “secret deal” with the United States.

“Afghanistan and the United States both support a peace process for Afghanistan. But only Afghans can decide the future of Afghanistan,” he added, according to the statement. “For a peace process to succeed, Afghans must talk to Afghans.”

He noted that Afghan President Hamid Karzai had spoken in support of the idea of the Taliban opening an office in Qatar, seen as key for peace talks to go ahead.

Kyrgyz prisoners sow lips in hunger strike

Kyrgyz prisoners sow lips in hunger strike

Kyrgyz prisoners sow lips in hunger strike

PanARMENIAN.Net – More than 400 prisoners in former Soviet Kyrgyzstan have sown their lips together in protest at conditions in the Central Asian state’s jails.

As The Telegraph reported quoting RFE/RL, the prisoners resorted to sewing up each others’ mouths after staff tried to break a week-long hunger strike by force feeding them.

Prisoners across Kyrgyzstan’s jails had been on a hunger strike since Jan 17 after the security forces fought inmates at a detention centre in Bishkek, the capital. Reports said that one prisoner was killed and dozens injured in the fighting.

Hunger strikes are relatively common in Kyrgyzstan’s prisons but Sheishenbek Baizakov, the Kyrgyz State Corrections Chief Service, told a press conference in Bishkek that the prisoners’ demands would not be met.

“This will never happen,” the AFP news agency quoted him as saying. “Let them sew their mouths shut.”

Kyrgyzstan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Like the other former Soviet states in Central Asia, conditions in its prisons are notoriously poor.

Uzbekistan accuses Russian citizen of terrorism

Uzbekistan accuses Russian citizen of terrorism

The trial has begun in Andijan of a Russian citizen, Sanjarbek Satvaldiev, a native of Andijan, who is accused of belonging to a number of Islamist terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda.

The case began in the Andijan regional criminal court on 13th January.

According to the prosecution, Satvaldiev has been indicted for violating six articles Uzbekistan’s criminal code which relate to terrorism and membership of extremist organizations.

Satvaldiev is accused of membership of banned religious organisations Hizb ut-Tahrir, Islamic Jihad and Nursi and the terrorist organisation Al Qaeda, and of maintaining links with the head of the Erk opposition party Muhammad Salikh.

Russian security officers detained Satvaldiev on 15th September 2010 in Moscow. Two Uzbek men, Mamirzhan Yusupov and Akhmajon Bekpulatov, were arrested in Moscow on the same day. All three were transferred to Uzbekistan on 16th September.

The Initiative

All the indictments are contrived and somewhat theoretical – there are no facts, no evidential proof and no witnesses to testify to the charges that have been brought”
Surat Ikramov, human rights activist

Group of Independent Human Rights Activists of Uzbekistan (IGNPU) says that Satvaldiev was granted Russian citizenship in 2007 and lived in Moscow with his family before being deported to Uzbekistan.

After he had spent two months in a pre-trial detention centre, the security services in Tashkent moved Satvaldiev to a similar facility in Andijan, where he was tortured into giving evidence, says Abdurakhman Satvaldiev, the father of the accused.

IGNPU’s leader, Surat Ikramov, says that Satvaldiev’s relatives have claimed that the criminal case against Satvaldiev has been fabricated.

“All the indictments are contrived and somewhat theoretical – there are no facts, no evidential proof and no witnesses to testify to the charges that have been brought,” says Ikramov.

Ironically the lawyer nominated to defend Satvaldiev, Nigora Zakirova, could use this excuse to justify why she has done very little to mount a defence for her client. During the investigation she made no applications in support of Satvaldiev, nor did she manage to find a single witness for the defence.

Satvaldiev has declined to be represented by Zakirova as a result and instead will be defended in court by the well-known Tashkent lawyer Lobarkhon Zununov.

Particular attention should be paid to Satvaldiev’s detention and his transfer to Tashkent, says Ikramov. He is convinced that Uzbekistan’s special forces intervened directly in the process.

“He was brought into Uzbekistan on a false passport issued by the consular department of the Uzbek Embassy in Moscow. I have a copy of his genuine, Russian passport,” says the IGNPU leader.

Ikramov is certain that Uzbekistan’s special security services, in collusion with counterparts in several CIS counties, are actively working beyond Uzbekistan’s borders, detaining those suspected of terrorism and participation in extremist religious organisations.

“These officers feel very much at home in countries such as Russia, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan,” Ikramov complains.

The trial of Satvaldiev resumes on 25th January. He faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment for the crimes of which he is charged.

Uznews.net

Hekmatyar Is Not Haqqani

[Dealing only with the Guantanamo/Bagram reconditioned Taliban (or, in this case Hizb-i-Islami) is NOT the way to peace in Afghanistan, but it may seal a deal for Northern Afghanistan, if that is all that is important to the West.  Winning a peace treaty with Northern Alliance, Hizb-i-Islami, and Hazara and a token faction of real Taliban is a formula for civil war, which will be far more devastating for the country and perhaps the region than actually ending the war.] 

US talks to Afghan insurgent group

Afghan Taliban fighters. — Photo by AFP

ISLAMABAD: Anxious to accelerate peace moves, top-level US officials have held talks with a representative of an insurgent movement led by a former Afghan prime minister who has been branded a terrorist by Washington, a relative of the leader says.

Dr Ghairat Baheer, a representative and son-in-law of longtime Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, told The Associated Press this week that he had met separately with David Petraeus, former commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan who is now CIA director, and had face-to-face discussions earlier this month with US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and US Marine Gen. John Allen, currently the top commander in the country.

Baheer, who was released in 2008 after six years in US detention at Bagram Air Field in Afghanistan, described his talks with US officials as nascent and exploratory. Yet, Baheer said the discussions show that the US knows that in addition to getting the blessing of Taliban chief Mullah Mohammad Omar — a bitter rival of Hekmatyar even though both are fighting international troops — any peace deal would have to be supported by Hekmatyar, who has thousands of fighters and followers primarily in the north and east.

Hizb-i-Islami, which means Islamic party, has had ties to Al-Qaeda but in 2010 floated a 15-point peace plan during informal meetings with the Afghan government in Kabul. At the time, however, US officials refused to see the party’s delegation.

“Hizb-i-Islami is a reality that no one can ignore,” Baheer said during an interview last week at his spacious home in a posh suburb of Islamabad. “For a while, the United States and the Kabul government tried not to give so much importance to Hizb-i-Islami, but now they have come to the conclusion that they cannot make it without Hizb-i-Islami.”

In Washington, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden would not confirm that such meetings took place but said the US was maintaining “a range of contacts in support of an Afghan-led reconciliation process”.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the high-level meetings, said Petraeus last met with Baheer in July 2011 when he was still commanding Nato forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus took over as CIA director in September.

On Saturday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he also had met recently with Hizb-i-Islami representatives. Baheer said he attended those meetings but added that the party considers the Afghan government corrupt and lacking legitimacy.

Karzai’s announcement appeared intended to bolster his position as the key player in the search for peace. The US repeatedly has said that formal negotiations must be Afghan-led, but Karzai has complained that his government has not been directly involved in recent preliminary talks with Taliban representatives and plans for setting up a Taliban political office in the Gulf state of Qatar.

Baheer said his meeting with Petraeus, whom he described as a “very humble, polite person,” was marked by a few rounds of verbal sparring with each boasting a battlefield strength that the other dismissed as exaggerated.

“There was a psychological war in these first meetings,” he said.

Baheer said Crocker and Allen tried to persuade Hizb-i-Islami to become part of Afghanistan’s political network, accept the Afghan security forces and embrace the nation’s current constitution. He said Hizb-i-Islami was ready to accept the security forces and the constitution, but wants a multiparty commission established to review and revise the charter.

“We are willing to make compromises,” said Baheer. “We already have said we will accept the Afghan army and the police.”

He said Hizb-i-Islami envisioned a multiparty government in post-war Afghanistan. At the same time, the group wants all US and Nato forces, including military trainers, to leave Afghanistan, he said.

“The presence of any foreign forces will be not acceptable to us under any cover,” he said. “Daily, there is another American killing of civilians. The longer they stay, the more they are hated by the Afghan people.”

Overtures to Hekmatyar’s group show not only the degree of US interest in pursuing a settlement but also the complexity of putting together an agreement acceptable to all sides in factious Afghanistan. The US formally declared
Hekmatyar a “global terrorist” in 2003 because of alleged links to Al-Qaeda and froze all assets which he may have in the United States.

Hekmatyar, who is in his mid-60s, was among the major recipients of US aid during the Afghan war against the Soviets in the 1980s. He and other anti-Soviet commanders swept into Kabul in 1992 and ousted the pro-Soviet government, only to turn against one another in a bitter and bloody power struggle that destroyed vast sections of the Afghan capital and killed an estimated 50,000 civilians before the Taliban seized the city.

A bitter rival of Mullah Omar, Hekmatyar fled to Iran and remained there until the Taliban were ousted in the 2001 US-led invasion. He declared war on foreign troops in his country and rebuilt his military forces, which by 2008 had become a major threat to the US-led coalition.

Contacts with Hekmatyar’s group as well as parallel efforts to negotiate with the Taliban have taken on new urgency following the Nato decision to withdraw foreign combat forces, transfer security responsibility to the Afghans by the end of 2014 and bring an end to the unpopular war, which is increasingly seen as a drain on the financially strapped Western countries that provide most of the troops.

On Sunday, the US special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, completed two days of meetings about the peace process with Karzai and other Afghan officials. Grossman, who was to travel to Qatar on Monday, urged the Taliban to issue a “clear statement” against international terrorism and affirm their commitment to the peace process “to end the armed conflict in Afghanistan”.

US officials also have reached out to the Pakistan-based Haqqani militant network to test its interest in peace talks. Haqqani fighters, the second largest insurgent group after the Taliban, have been blamed for most of the high-profile attacks in the heart of the Afghan capital.

The US/Russia Reset Is Breaking and Evidently, I’m Not Allowed To Report It

[Note the scrambling of the website after posting an incomplete article.  Big Brother is pissed again.  How long before they shut this site down?]

U.S. behind deliberate murder of Qadhafi: Russia

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN

Russia has accused the United States and NATO of large-scale violations of human rights during the military operation in Libya, including the deliberate murder of its leader Muammar Gaddafi and the killing of hundreds of civilians.

The NATO forces “made the overthrow and murder of the Colonel their main goal,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in its first report on the state of human rights in the world.  [SEE:  Report of the Russian Foreign Ministry On Human Rights–[English Google trans.]]

Citing unnamed sources, the report said the order to liquidate Qadhafi was given to U.S., French and British commandos. The Russian Foreign Ministry details numerous instances of mass killings of hundreds of civilians and destruction of infrastructure in NATO bombing raids in Libya.

The U.S. is the main target of the Russian report, which also criticises the human rights record in Britain, Canada, Finland, the Baltic states and Georgia.

Russia took President Barack Obama to task for his failure to shut the “odious” prison at Guantanamo Bay and accused the White House of sheltering officials guilty of torture.

“The situation in the United States is a far cry from the ideals proclaimed by Washington,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a 90-page report posted on its website.

“Old systemic problems of American society are growing more serious, including racial discrimination, xenophobia, overcrowded prisons, unjustified capital punishment, including the execution of innocent people, imperfect electoral system and corruption, ” said the report.

RHETORIC

The report was released as Moscow hardened its rhetoric against the U.S. on such issues as missile defence and interference in Russian internal affairs. The new head of the Russian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, said the “reset” in Russian-U.S. relations had come to an end.

“The U.S. had desisted from discussing the domestic situation in Russia as part of the ‘reset’. Clinton violated this tacit agreement,” said Mr. Pushkov. “I think we have entered a phase when the U.S. will no longer show restraint towards Russia.”

U.S. behind deliberate murder of Qadhafi: Russia–[Another report you are not supposed to read, evidently]

[Note the scrambling of the website after posting an incomplete article.  Big Brother is pissed again.  How long before they shut this site down?]

U.S. behind deliberate murder of Qadhafi: Russia

VLADIMIR RADYUHIN

Russia has accused the United States and NATO of large-scale violations of human rights during the military operation in Libya, including the deliberate murder of its leader Muammar Gaddafi and the killing of hundreds of civilians.

The NATO forces “made the overthrow and murder of the Colonel their main goal,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in its first report on the state of human rights in the world.  (SEE: Report of the Russian Foreign Ministry On Human Rights–[English Google trans.])

Citing unnamed sources, the report said the order to liquidate Qadhafi was given to U.S., French and British commandos. The Russian Foreign Ministry details numerous instances of mass killings of hundreds of civilians and destruction of infrastructure in NATO bombing raids in Libya.

The U.S. is the main target of the Russian report, which also criticises the human rights record in Britain, Canada, Finland, the Baltic states and Georgia.

Russia took President Barack Obama to task for his failure to shut the “odious” prison at Guantanamo Bay and accused the White House of sheltering officials guilty of torture.

“The situation in the United States is a far cry from the ideals proclaimed by Washington,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry in a 90-page report posted on its website.

“Old systemic problems of American society are growing more serious, including racial discrimination, xenophobia, overcrowded prisons, unjustified capital punishment, including the execution of innocent people, imperfect electoral system and corruption,” said the report.

RHETORIC

The report was released as Moscow hardened its rhetoric against the U.S. on such issues as missile defence and interference in Russian internal affairs. The new head of the Russian Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Alexei Pushkov, said the “reset” in Russian-U.S. relations had come to an end.

“The U.S. had desisted from discussing the domestic situation in Russia as part of the ‘reset’. Clinton violated this tacit agreement,” said Mr. Pushkov. “I think we have entered a phase when the U.S. will no longer show restraint towards Russia.”

Qadhafi loyalists seize Libyan town

Qadhafi loyalists seize Libyan town

AP

In this Sept. 16, 2011 photo former rebel fighters step over a carpet bearing a depiction of Muammar Qadhafi, on a road near Bani Walid. Qadhafi loyalists have seized control of Bani Walid, officials said on Tuesday.
APIn this Sept. 16, 2011 photo former rebel fighters step over a carpet bearing a depiction of Muammar Qadhafi, on a road near Bani Walid.
Qadhafi loyalists have seized control of Bani Walid, officials said on Tuesday.

An official and a commander say Muammar Qadhafi loyalists have seized control of a Libyan town and raised the ousted regime’s green flag.

The retaking of Bani Walid comes as Libya’s new leaders have struggled to stamp out lingering resistance from pro-Qadhafi forces and unify the country three months after Qadhafi was captured and killed.

Mubarak al-Fatamni, the head of Bani Walid local council, said on Tuesday that hundreds of well-equipped and highly trained remnants of Qadhafi’s forces seized the western city late Monday.

Rebel commander Ali al-Fatamni, who is following the situation in Benghazi, says he has lost contact with revolutionary fighters in the town.

India warns against Afghan ‘terrorism’ victory

[From this previous report we see India pursuing a better path than surrendering to terrorism.  Disarm, renounce violence, then reconciliation (SEE:  Hundreds of ex-militants lay down weapons in India).]

India warns against Afghan ‘terrorism’ victory

India’s ambassador to the US Nirupama Rao. — Reuters Photo

WASHINGTON: India on Monday voiced caution about US-backed efforts to reach a political solution with Afghanistan’s Taliban, warning against a victory for the “dark forces of terrorism”.

Nirupama Rao, the Indian ambassador to the United States, voiced strong support for US-led military efforts in Afghanistan but said that New Delhi was “keenly watching” tentative attempts for talks with the Taliban.

“While we agree that ultimately there would have to be a political solution, we also believe that this should not become an overriding objective that needs to be achieved at all costs,” Rao said.

“That would risk the prospect of a victory of those dark forces of terrorism and religious extremism that have plagued the region for so long,” she said in a speech at George Washington University.

US envoy Marc Grossman held talks this weekend in Afghanistan with President Hamid Karzai and said he found strong support for peace efforts, as the Taliban look to open an office in Qatar to facilitate talks.

But the United States said that the Taliban needed to renounce violence and cut relations with Al-Qaeda before negotiations.

Hundreds of ex-militants lay down weapons in India

Hundreds of ex-militants lay down weapons in India

More than 10,000 people have been killed since 1979 when the insurgents began fighting for greater autonomy for their ethnic communities in Assam. — Photo by AFP

GAUHATI: Hundreds of militants in jungle fatigues lined up to surrender weapons Tuesday as several insurgent groups formally joined a cease-fire with the government in a step toward ending a three-decade insurgency in northeast India.

The 676 fighters who handed over weapons to authorities at a sports stadium in the Assam state capital of Gauhati are members of nine of the more than 20 groups fighting the government in the remote northeastern state.

More than 10,000 people have been killed since 1979 when the insurgents began fighting for greater autonomy for their ethnic communities in Assam. However, over the past two years, the groups have begun to reach cease-fire accords and enter peace talks with the government.

Tuesday’s event in Gauhati brought the number of groups in talks to 15 — leaving about a half-dozen still fighting.

Senior army and police officers stood by as Home Minister P. Chidambaram assured the ex-fighters they would be embraced back into society.

”We shall make sure each one of you are able to enjoy equal rights now that you have shunned violence,” Chidambaram said.

He also said that the government was close to signing comprehensive peace deals with some of the groups, but did not elaborate.

Previously, the government has said it was open to discussing demands for more autonomy in areas including civic administration, finances and cultural rights.

The militants have argued over the years that Assam’s indigenous people — most of whom are ethnically closer to groups in Myanmar and China than to the rest of India — are ignored by the federal government that sits 1,000 miles away in New Delhi.

They also accuse the Indian government of exploiting the northeast’s rich natural resources.

Israeli Mossad training Iranian exiles in Kurdistan: French newspaper

Israeli Mossad training Iranian exiles in Kurdistan: French newspaper

Predomiantly Kurdish Middle East regions

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
A leading French newspaper has claimed that Israeli intelligence agents are recruiting and training Iranian dissidents in clandestine bases located in Iraq’s Kurdish region. Paris-based daily Le Figaro, France’s second-largest national newspaper, cited a “security source in Baghdad”, who alleged that members of Israeli intelligence are currently operating in Iraq’s autonomous northern Kurdish region. According to the anonymous source, the Israelis, who are members of the Mossad, Israel’s foremost external intelligence agency, are actively recruiting Iranian exiles in Kurdistan. Many of these Iranian assets, who are members of Iran’s Kurdish minority and opposed to the Iranian regime, are allegedly being trained by the Mossad in spy-craft and sabotage. The article in Le Figaro claims that the Iranian assets are being prepared for conducting operations inside the energy-rich country, as part of Israel’s undercover intelligence war against Iran’s nuclear energy program. The Baghdad source told the French daily that part of Israel’s sabotage program against sensitive Iranian nuclear facilities, which includes targeted assassinations of Iranian nuclear experts, is directed out of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, “where [Mossad] agents have stepped up their penetration”. For this, “the Israelis are using Kurdish oppositionists to the regime in Iran, who are living are refugees in the Kurdish regions of Iraq”, the source told Le Figaro. Although the article makes no mention of official or unofficial sanction of the Israeli operations by the Iraqi Kurdish authorities, it implies that the alleged Mossad activities are an open secret in Iraqi Kurdistan. This is not the first time that allegations have surfaced in the international press about Israeli intelligence activities in Kurdistan. In 2006, the BBC flagship investigative television program Newsnight obtained strong evidence of Israeli operatives providing military training to Kurdish militia members. Read more of this post

Turkish officials see link between Israel and Kurdish rebels

Turkish officials see link between Israel and Kurdish rebels

Israeli Heron UAV

By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org
Turkish intelligence agencies have authored a report detailing alleged Israeli assistance to Kurdish rebels, whose goal is to secede from Turkey and create an independent Kurdish homeland, according to a leading Turkish newspaper. The Ankara-based Zaman said the intelligence report was commissioned after Turkish forces detected Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) conducting reconnaissance missions over Turkey. The paper, which is tacitly affiliated with Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, said the UAVs were spotted flying over Turkey’s Adana and Hatay provinces, both of which are adjacent to Turkey’s border with Syria. As intelNews reported last August, Turkey’s main intelligence directorate, the MİT, is convinced that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad has increased its clandestine support for the largest Kurdish secessionist group, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), in an attempt to court Syria’s 500,000-strong Kurdish minority. According to the Zaman news report, airborne intelligence collected by Israeli Heron UAVs is shared with PKK guerrillas, who then use it to construct training bases in Syrian border regions. This explains, claims the paper, why most PKK training bases in Syria are located “in areas that are known to be weak spots for the Turkish military”. The report also claims that Turkish intelligence has verified that senior PKK military commander Kenan Yıldızbakan has visited Israel “several times” in recent months. Yildizbakan is believed to have commanded a brazen PKK assault on a Turkish naval base in İskenderun in 2010, which killed seven and wounded four members of the Turkish armed forces. Earlier this month, we reported that an Israeli drone flying over Turkey was nearly shot down by the Turkish Air Force. IntelNews also reported earlier this month on a news story from leading French newspaper Le Figaro, which claimed that officers of Israeli intelligence agency Mossad were recruiting and training Iranian dissidents in clandestine bases located in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region. The Paris-based daily cited a “security source in Baghdad”, who alleged that the Mossad was actively recruiting Iranian exiles in Kurdistan, for use in Israel’s clandestine war against the Iranian nuclear program.

The Grand Psyop Is Taking-On A German Flavor

[This is an update on yesterday’s story of a German Intelligence Cell Busted In Peshawar.  As usual, the Pakistani news sources have all garbled the Western names (just like Americans garble most foreign-sounding names), only The News came close to getting the names right.   They named one as Colonel Christine Wild, the rest of the media reported it as “Curtain Wild.”   The News reported the other two “Germans” as  Lawrence and Ralph Smith, while the others called them “Lauren and Rhodwolf Smith,” making Mr. Lawrence Smith sound like a woman.  It is doubtful that the man’s name was Christine and it is also unlikely that the “Smith” boys were really named Smith. 

As far as I can tell, no one has as yet tied this disruption of a German intelligence cell in KP to an alleged “Taliban abduction” two days before in Multan, of a German and Italian pair, who worked for a German NGO–Welthungerhilfe.  From trying to track-down the truth about this one, it seems as though the abduction may have taken place in an office building run by a French NGO called ACTED  in Dera Ghazi Khan, on the outskirts of Multan.  (View ACTED Base map in a larger map )

It is no coincidence that the Pak authorities then busted German spies working under cover of perhaps the same NGO, two days later in Peshawar (ACTED has an office in Peshawar).  If a connection on information sharing can be made between the two incidents–one involving alleged “Taliban,” the other involving Pak. authorities, then it will go far in finally proving the solid link between govt. forces and so-called “Taliban,” who run abduction rings.  The last time this military/militant nexus came close to being revealed, it was in the Gen. Alavi murder plot.  The Pakistani psyop is taking on a new face, as it has multiple times in the past (SEE:  Putting-Off the Moment of Truth in Pakistan).  Whatever the CIA and the ISI have cooked-up for us next, we are beginning to see the elements being lined-out for us now. 

Whatever it is, it will have a German flavor.  

The News report links the sudden appearance of Germans in the equation to Pakistan’s stance since the Salala attack, which led them to boycott the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan.  Pakistan spoiled Hillary’s party in Bonn, where the Empire was going to get all its little ducks in a row and institute new marching orders to the co-conspirators.   Since Americans were rapidly becoming a taboo in Pakistan, it was only logical that an Imperial ally like Germany would begin to fill in the gaps, that were left after Pakistan’s attempted eviction of the CIA. 

If this Pakistani crackdown on Imperial NGOs spreads, it will eventually insulate Pakistan from the subversive Western NGOs, the primary weapon of Imperial subversion, as other countries have begun to do.  Some nations, like Turkmenistan have remained friends with the West as they accomplished that goal in a more subtle manner, by limiting NGO licensing to only those based in-country.  It remains to be seen what new conditions Pakistan will set down to further insulate Pakistan from the West, before returning the  transit privileges which have been suspended. 

What a stinking mess!]

3 Germans held, freed after interrogation

PESHAWAR: Three Germans including a serving colonel of the army were arrested for illegally staying in the provincial capital and indulging in suspicious activities during a raid in the University Town here on Saturday, officials said.

The three foreigners were later handed over to the German embassy in Islamabad after brief interrogation.

A police party headed by superintendent of police (SP-cantonment) along with officials of the intelligence agencies raided a building in the University Town and arrested the three Germans.

They claimed to be part of the diplomatic staff of the German embassy running a liaison office of the diplomatic mission in Peshawar.

The foreigners, however, failed to produce the no objection certificate (NOC), which all foreigners need for staying in Peshawar due to the uncertain law and order situation in the city and province.

“The office was also being run without any authorisation by the Pakistani authorities,” a source said.

A police official, on the condition of anonymity, told this scribe that there were confirmed reports that the office was involved in suspicious activities and had also played a key role in damaging Pakistan’s image before and after the Bonn Conference on Afghanistan.

Pakistan had boycotted the conference in protest against a Nato attack on its security post in Salala in Mohmand Agency on November 26 last year in which 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed.

One of the detained men was stated to be a serving colonel of the German Army. He was identified as Colonel Christine Wild. The two other German nationals held from the building were Lawrence and Ralph Smith.

A number of diplomatic missions and international organisations have their offices in the University Town. Some offices of the foreign organizations are also located in Hayatabad and Cantonment areas.

There are reports that some of these offices are involved in suspicious activities.

It may be recalled that many foreign nationals, mostly Americans, were detained in recent months and sent back to Islamabad.

Authorities have directed the foreigners coming to Peshawar to obtain an NOC from the concerned authorities so that they could be provided security.

The Home and Tribal Affairs Department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa recently asked the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad to shift all the diplomatic missions and offices of international organisations to a single place in Peshawar for security reasons. Four locals were also detained from the building that was raided who are being questioned.

A fractured policy

A fractured policy

Hindustan Times
In the video Taliban chanting can be heard: 'We will cross all limits to avenge your blood,' it said, referring to fighters killed by Pakistani security forces
A Taliban militant speaks after the killing of Pakistani soldiers in this still image taken from video obtained by Reuters.

With the stage set for secret US-Taliban talks in Qatar, the White House strategy for a phased exit from war-ravaged Afghanistan is now couched in nice-sounding terms like ‘reconciliation’ and ‘transition to 2014’. These terms hide more than they reveal. In seeking a Faustian bargain with  the medieval Taliban, President Barack Obama risks repeating the very mistakes of US policy that have come to haunt regional and international security.

Since coming to office, Obama has pursued an Afghan War strategy summed up in just four words: surge, bribe and run. The military mission has now entered the ‘run’ part, or what euphemistically is being called the ‘transition to 2014’.

The central objective at present is to cut a deal with the Taliban so that the US and its Nato partners exit the “Graveyard of Empires” without losing face. This deal-making is being dressed up as ‘reconciliation’, with Qatar, Germany and Britain getting lead roles to help facilitate a settlement with the Taliban.

Yet what stands out is how little the US has learned from past mistakes. In some critical respects, it is actually beginning to repeat the past mistakes, whether by creating or funding new local militias in Afghanistan or striving to cut a deal with the Taliban. As in the covert war it waged against the nearly nine-year Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, so too in the current overt war, US policy has been driven by short-term interests.

To be sure, any president must work to extricate his country from a protracted war. Obama thus is right to seek an end to the war. He, however, blundered by laying out his cards in public and emboldening the enemy.

Within weeks of assuming office, Obama publicly declared his intent to exit Afghanistan, before he even asked his team to work out a strategy. A troop surge that lasted up to 2010 was designed not to militarily rout the Taliban but to strike a political deal with the enemy from a position of strength. Yet even before the surge began, its purpose was undercut by the exit plan. This was followed by a publicly unveiled troop drawdown, stretching from 2011 to 2014.

A withdrawing power that first announces a phased exit and then pursues deal-making with the enemy undermines its regional leverage. It speaks for itself that the sharp deterioration in US ties with the Pakistani military has occurred after the drawdown timetable was unveiled. The phased exit has encouraged the Pakistani generals to step up support to the Taliban. Worse, there is still no clear US strategy on how to ensure that the endgame does not undermine the interests of the free world or further destabilise the region.

US envoy Marc Grossman, who visited New Delhi last Friday for consultations, has already held a series of secret meetings with the Taliban over more than a year. Qatar has been chosen as the seat of fresh US-Taliban negotiations so as to keep the still-sceptical Afghan government at arm’s length (despite the pretence of ‘Afghan-led’ talks) and to insulate the Taliban negotiators from Pakistani and Saudi pressures. Meanwhile, even as a civil-military showdown in Pakistan compounds Washington’s regional challenges, the new US containment push and energy sanctions against Iran threaten to inject greater turbulence into Afghanistan.

In truth, US policy is coming full circle again on the ISI-fathered Taliban, in whose birth the CIA had played midwife. The US acquiesced in the Taliban’s ascension to power in 1996 and turned a blind eye as that thuggish militia, in league with the ISI, fostered narco-terrorism and swelled the ranks of the Afghan war alumni waging transnational terrorism. With 9/11, however, the chickens came home to roost. In declaring war on the Taliban, US policy came full circle.

Now, US policy, with its frantic search for a deal with the Taliban, is coming another full circle. The Qatar-based negotiations indeed highlight why the US political leadership has deliberately refrained from decapitating the Taliban. The US military has had ample opportunities (and still has) to eliminate the Taliban’s Rahbari Shura, or leadership council, often called the Quetta Shura because it escaped to the Pakistani city.

Yet, tellingly, the US has not carried out a single drone, air or ground strike in or around Quetta. All the US strikes have occurred farther north in Pakistan’s tribal Waziristan region, although the leadership of the Afghan Taliban or its allied groups like the Haqqani network and the Hekmatyar band is not holed up there.

When history is written, the legacy of the Nato war in Afghanistan will mirror the legacy of the US occupation of Iraq – to leave an ethnically fractured nation. Just as Iraq today stands ethnically partitioned in a de facto sense, it will be difficult to establish a government in Kabul post-2014 whose writ runs across Afghanistan. And just as the 1973 US-North Vietnam agreements were negotiated by shutting out the Saigon regime – in consequence of which South Vietnam unintentionally disappeared – the US today is keeping the Afghan government out of the talks’ loop even as it compels President Hamid Karzai to lend support and seems ready to meet a Taliban demand to transfer five incarcerated Taliban leaders out of Guantanamo Bay.

Afghanistan, however, is not Vietnam. An end to Nato combat operations will not mean the end of the war, because the enemy will target Western interests wherever they may be. The fond US hope to regionally contain terrorism promises to keep the Af-Pak belt as a festering threat to regional and global security. This is a chilling message for the country that has borne the brunt of the rise of international terrorism – India.

Brahma Chellaney is Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research.

NATO cares about russian weapons in Kaliningrad

NATO cares about russian weapons in Kaliningrad

Kudashkina Ekaterina

Konstantin Kosachyov.   Photo: RIA Novosti

Interview with Konstantin Kosachyov first Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee
commenting for us on the issue.

Of course today we have seen the news that Mr. Rasmussen, the NATO Secretary General has reiterated NATO’s concern about Russia potentially deploying additional weapons in Kaliningrad.

I have of course read this statement by Mr. Rasmussen again and again and I’m very much surprised by the position taken by the NATO’s leadership. The major problem is that as soon as we try to reach any agreements with NATO they always would refer to the unilateral program of the United States of America in terms of deploying anti-missile system in Europe while NATO would in that case be just a junior partner, to put it that way.

When we speak on that issue with our American partners, they would always tell us that they are under the process of coordinating of their efforts with NATO and they need to have conference with the NATO and so on and so forth. And all that traits and impression that we are a kind of inside of a certain game being played with us when both the United States unilaterally and NATO multilaterally take certain measures without taking into account Russian concerns. And they just want to put Russia in a position where the situation would continue to develop the way the United States and NATO want this situation to be developed while Russia will have just to accept the ongoing developments without having any opportunity to influence these developments.

This is not acceptable and the measures we are potentially going to take are not aimed against anybody. That word “against” was used frequently by Mr. Rasmussen but the measures which are to be taken potentially by Russia are aimed at securing our defense and guaranteeing our safety, they are not aimed specifically at NATO, at the United States or anybody else. They are just taken or will be taken in order to maintain the strategic balance and of course we will be forced to take these measures in case we are not a part, not of a game, but of a joined project either with NATO or with the United States of America.

The minimum possible solution is that we have a legally binding agreement of not using force against each other in terms of anti-missile defense. The maximum solution is that we cooperate on that anti-missile defense without any restrictions. And nothing else would be acceptable for Russia.

Mr. Kosachyov, thank you very much. And just to remind you this was a comment from  Konstantin Kosachyov first Deputy Chairman of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee.

Iraq Tells Neighbors To Just Butt-Out

Iraq tells neighbours not to intervene

File picture shows an Iraqi woman walking past a national flag in Baghdad. (AFP/File - Ahmad al-Rubaye)

BAGHDAD: Iraq on Sunday criticised neighbouring Turkey, Iran and unnamed Arab countries for trying to “intervene” in Baghdad’s month-long political crisis and not respecting its sovereignty.

The statement, posted on the foreign ministry’s website, comes amid tensions between Baghdad and Ankara in particular over Iraq’s claims that Turkey was interfering in internal Iraqi affairs.

It said that since the start of the year, statements from “senior officials in neighbouring countries reflect their attempts to intervene in the internal affairs of Iraq and the lack of respect for Iraqi sovereignty and the government elected by the people of Iraq.”

The statement, posted in English and Arabic, continued: “Iraq did not and will not be a follower. It will never be a pawn in the others’ game nor will it be an arena of clearance between the other parties.”

“Therefore, we call upon the friendly neighbour, especially Turkey, Iran and some Arab countries to respect the sovereignty and independence of Iraq.”

The statement was an apparent response to remarks from the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force Qassem Suleimani, since clarified by Tehran’s foreign ministry, that Iraq and southern Lebanon were controlled by Iran.

“Iran is now also present in southern Lebanon and Iraq,” he said, in quotes published by Iranian news agency ISNA. “In fact, those areas are in a way influenced by the Islamic republic of Iran’s performance and thinking.”

Al-Arabiya TV’s website had earlier reported that Suleimani claimed south Lebanon and Iraq were “subject to the control” of Iran, but Tehran has issued a denial.

Iraq and Turkey have also been at loggerheads over Baghdad’s claim that Ankara was intervening in Iraqi affairs when Turkish premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan telephoned Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on January 10.

Maliki has since criticised Turkey for its remarks, and the two countries have called in each others’ respective ambassadors to express their displeasure.

Iraq has been mired in a political crisis since US forces withdrew from the country on December 18, pitting the Shiite-led government against the main Sunni-backed political bloc.

German Intelligence Cell Busted In Peshawar?

[A German intelligence official and a married couple gathering intelligence around Peshawar may become the next spy issue (SEE:  Pakistan: German seized with Italian in Pakistan  ;  Safety circuits: Pakistan moves against BND office).]

  One of the arrested Germans preparing to drive to Islamabad

 One of the Germans changing his battery

Photos from Bulgarian source

Colonel among three Germans held

Police came to know about their illegal stay when security agencies started enlisting foreigners and NGO workers living in Peshawar.—File Photo

PESHAWAR: A house located in University Town was raided on Saturday and three German citizens were taken into custody for their alleged involvement in ‘suspicious activities’, police said.

The suspects, who were interviewed after reports they were living in the house on the Park Lane Street illegally, failed to produce documents validating their stay in Pakistan.

They were identified as Curtain Wild, a colonel in German army who has spent time in Afghanistan and Kosovo, Lauren and Rhodwolf Smith.

An official said statements of the three men did not match with each other. First they claimed to be associated with a
non-governmental organisation but later they said they were staff of the German embassy living in Peshawar.

The official said four Pakistanis, who were working for the Germans, had also been held. They included two security guards whose services had been acquired without informing the police.

“They said they were deputed by their embassy to keep an eye on the German-funded development projects but they had no documentary proof to this effect,” the official said.

The Germans came to Peshawar during the Soviet war in Afghanistan more than 30 years ago, he said, adding the house was raided after police came to know about their suspicious activities.

The official would not give details about the foreigners’ activities but said they used to carry out their work on a rotation basis in the garb of NGOs. He said the foreigners previously lived in a house on Jamaluddin Afghani Road and moved to Park Lane about a year ago.

Talking to reporters, Cantonment Circle SP Dr Mian Saeed Ahmed said police maintained record of all foreigners and the NGOs but the three Germans had not informed them about their stay nor did they seek any security.

He said they had opened a ‘German Liaison Office’ in the building which was being used as the office-cum-residence. He said the office had been sealed and the suspects had been taken to Islamabad for interrogation.

The official said police came to know about their illegal stay when security agencies started enlisting foreigners and NGO workers living in the city. “We have taken copies of their passports and investigation is under way,” the SP said.

Assad’s Secular Socialist Syria

Assad’s Secular Socialist Syria

 
And so “al-CIA-duh” rebels posing as ardent righteous patriots commit terrorism in Syria from the safe haven of Doenme Turkey. They are backed by NATO forces who direct them, as they did in Libya recently.

The JEWSA directed objective is to install a militant Wahabi Sunni based “al-CIA-duh” type of government in Damascus, as they are doing in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt. This is a long PROCESS where by many Middle-East countries will have “al-CIA-duh’ affiliated governments, leaving Israel as the only pure Democracy………remember this is a LONG PROCESS….planned many years ago. Thereafter these “al-CIA-duh” run states will have to be attacked directly by USA/NATO forces to “protect” Israel……..Twisted logic? Not really, if you are dreaming of Avahat Erezt Israel.

In Syria ethnicity cannot be used to divide and rule the country, as in Libya (dark skinned Libyans against light skinned Libyans….Eastern Libyan tribal groups verses Western Libyans), and so religion will be used.

In Syria there are Sunni Muslims, Alawite Muslims (branch of Shia Islam…..hence why Syria has close relations with Shia Iran, and Shia Hezbollah), Christians and Druze.

Baathist Socialism under the Assad’s have suppressed any religious extremism……indeed in Homs and Hama in 1982, when Western funded Muslim Brotherhood members attempted an uprising they were brutally suppressed, resulting in the death of 20–30,000 people in those two cities. Assad in that sense has a long way to go, before he surpasses his fathers record.

The elite around Assad are Alawite and are a minority propagated by the colonial French originally.

Should Bashar al-Assad lose to “al-CIA-duh” backed by NATO/USA power, then it will be a catastrophe for the country in the manner of Iraq after the USA occupied the country, viciously, maliciously and criminally. Targeted groups for massacre would be:

(i) Ba-athist members of the ruling party, tens of thousands of men and women, educated, middle class and skilled. This is what happened in Iraq, under American control.

(ii) Syrian Christians, among the oldest Christian groups……in the manner of Iraq where the country’s once proud one million Christian community has been decimated into forced exile all over the world…..whilst the country was under USA control. “al-CIA-duh” will ensure their cleansing from Syria, where they have lived for 2000 years.

The Assyrians/Syriacs are significant ethnic Christian minorities that mainly live in the north and northeast (al-Qamishli, al-Hasakah) and number around 877,000–1,200,000 in Syria.

Armenians number approximately 190,000. Syria holds the 7th largest Armenian population in the world.


(iii) The next targeted group will obviously be the Alawites, ALL 3.5 million of them. They will not be tolerated in the new “al-CIA-duh” Salafist Wahabi Sunni Muslim Brotherhood Syria. No compromise for them.

(iv) The next targeted group will be the secular middle class intellectuals, and technocratic class…..many of them still believe in Socialism, many do not. But the main thing is they do not believe in theocratic states. As with Mullah Iran, with its 5 million Iranian emigres, and the destroyed technocratic class of Iraq, the same will be repeated in Syria…..GUARANTEED.

(v) Then finally the Druze will be targeted, since they are not considered Muslims.

Druze number around 700,000, and concentrate mainly in the southern area of Jabal al-Druze.

This millenia’s old cosmopolitan society will be uprooted and destroyed to satisfy the lust for empire of the Jew, through the fifth column front of “al-CIA-duh” and criminal NATO/USA forces.

A lot more good people will die in Syria if the “al-CIA-duh” come to power through the backing of NATO/USA.

Remember only 10,000 mostly Iraqi soldiers died when the USA invaded Iraq in 2003, BUT under 8 years of occupation by the USA with the arrival of “al-CIA-duh” in the scene, allegedly 1.5 million people have died, and 5 million have become internal and external exiles in Iraq.

Despite the hysteria of the BBC, very few people died in the Iranian uprising of 1978-79 backed by the USA/UK…..a few hundred at most. Since 1979, maybe 1 million Iranians have died through unnecessary wars, internal political wars, and the application of very harsh theocratic laws in the country. 5 million good educated skilled Iranians have elected to leave their country.

I suppose its all too obvious a point, but Bashar al-Assad must fight fight fight for his country, and for his people. ……….because what will come under “al-CIA-duh” will be catastrophic for the country. Better to lose 5,000—50,000 people battling “al-CIA-duh” and NATO-USA forces NOW, then losing 500,000–5,000,000 LATER under the control of “al-CIA-duh” with Israeli, American and NATO forces crawling ALL over the country in support of the “al-CIA-duh” regime (Libya).

“al-CIA-duh” in power in Damascus will be a perfect foil for repeated Israeli raids into the country in the manner of Hezbollah Lebanon, and Hamas Gaza.

Syria must find clear credible allies such as Russia, Iran and China.

Syria needs to enter into secret agreements where by its embargoed oil is sold via Russia and Iran……400,000 barrels is but a drop in the international petroleum market but its revenue will be a Godsend to the Assad regime.

If USA/NATO forces can be stationed near Syria in Doenme Turkey, why can’t Russia and Iran station thousands of troops supporting the Syrian army, fighting ‘al-CIA-duh”?

Can Syrian intelligence infiltrate, and follow rebel forces into Turkey, Lebanon? How difficult can it be? Can Kurdish groups be trained to attack Turkey?

In all events Bashar al-Assad should not think of exiling himself to the Gulf. He must serve his country’s people against the International criminals and terrorists.

Soros Site Blends Kyrgyz News Item, CENTCOM Misinformation and Asia Times Misdirection In Obvious Psyop

[The following disinformation piece follows a 1, 2, 3 formula–first the facts, followed by the outright lies, finished with speculation about the original facts obscured by the lies.  CentralAsiaOnline is a CENTCOM disinformation site.  Any news derived from it is tainted and misleading.  Turkey is an Imperial proxy.   By crediting the Turkish military with building the NATO Special Forces Training Center at Batken, instead of correctly labeling it a NATO facility, it gives substance to the lie that Kyrgyzstan has the choice of a third direction, between Russia and the US.]

Turkey Promises To Boost Military Aid To Kyrgyzstan

NATO, Russia To Continue On Same Path To New World Order

NATO, Russia approve military cooperation plan for 2012

Nikolai Makarov (RIA Novosti / Michail Klimentyev)

Nikolai Makarov (RIA Novosti / Michail Klimentyev)

 

Although disagreements remain between Russia and NATO over the US missile defense project which Russia has called a threat to its national security, the two sides will continue working together in 2012.

Russian Chief of General Staff Nikolai Makarov praised Russia-NATO achievements in 2011, which he said provided the basis for further cooperation in 2012.

“On the whole, we have a positive impression from Russia-NATO military cooperation in 2011,” Makarov told reporters following a meeting with NATO colleagues at the Russia-NATO Council in Brussels on Thursday. “Thus, a plan of military cooperation (between Russia and NATO) for 2012 has been approved.”

Russia’s top military official picked out some of last year’s high points in Russia’s partnership with NATO.

“Vigilant Skies and Bold Monarch were the most significant joint exercises in 2011,” Makarov noted. “We also had useful contacts in military medicine, logistics, disarming of handmade bombs and personnel  training.” 

Russia’s highest-ranking military official also mentioned the “joint combating of pirates off the Horn of Africa,” which he said is now entering “a new phase.”

Finally, Makarov discussed the situation in Afghanistan, where Russia and NATO are “intensifying their interaction” in the fight against dire local threats including, but not limited to, terrorism and drug trafficking.

The Chief of General Staff stressed that what happens in Afghanistan, where Allied forces have been fighting a 10-year uphill war against Taliban forces, has a “direct influence on security along the Russian border and worries our allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO).”

Given the urgency of the situation, Russia will continue to “render assistance to the peacekeepers in Afghanistan, primarily with the transit of cargo,” he said.

Robert Bridge, RT

Libyan Islamists Demand Sharia-Based Laws, But Whose “Sharia”?

Islamists Demand Sharia-Based Laws in Libya

CAIRO, January 21 (RIA Novosti)

Over 3,000 Libyans in Benghazi rallied on Saturday to demand that Sharia law be the main source of the country’s legislation, Al Arabiya reported.

“The protesters are calling for the Sharia law as the source to be clearly stated in the constitution, Ghaith al-Fakhri, a Libyan Islamist told the AFP.

The Islamists gathered on the central square in Benghazi, a stronghold city of Libya’s revolution, waved copies of the Koran and chanted Islamic slogans.

Apart from Benghazi, hundreds of people staged a rally on the Tripoli’s main Algeria Square in a protest against secular laws, Al Arabiya said.

They burned copies of the “Green Book,” a handbook on politics, economics and everyday life, written by the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi who was killed in October near his hometown of Sirte after being captured by then opposition forces.

“We want to run our life according to Islamic principles, be it the economy, politics or our relations with other countries,” Abdul Basit Ghuwaila, a preacher at a Tripoli mosque told Al Arabiya. “Most people think Islam is just about harsh penalties.”

The Islamists were opposed by a group of protesters who participate in a month-long sit-in for a secular state.

“We all want Sharia, but not the one they’re talking about, the one that rejects women,” said Nour al-Zintani, a female participant of the sit-in. “We want a moderate Islam that gives women their rights.”

Libya saw almost ten months of fierce fighting before the National Transitional Council (NTC) established control over the country’s territory.

In late October the NTC head, Mustafa Abdel Jalil said that the Islamic Sharia law will be the basis for the laws in the newly liberated Libya and any existing laws that contradict it will be abolished.

SOCOM’s War To Militarize Thought Itself

Special Forces Get Social in New Psychological Operation Plan

Illustration: Sony

The elite forces of the U.S. military think they’ve found a new way to sway opinion in the Pentagon’s preferred directions: a voice-based social networking app that’s a cross between talk radio and Twitter.

The American intelligence and defense communities have become enthralled by the possibilities of social media. They’re looking to use the networks to forecast political unrestspread friendly messagesspot emerging terror groups — and even predict the next natural disaster. But these efforts have generally tried to leverage existing, and already popular, civilian social networks.

A new project from U.S. Special Operations Command, on the other hand, looks to create something brand new: a “user-generated social media radio application powered by the human voice, available on the PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, and Nokia smart phones, that lets users share their thoughts and experiences.” And this voice-activated SOCOM network is being billed explicitly as a tool for “military information support operations” — shaping public attitudes. That’s what the Pentagon used to call “psychological operations.”

Earlier this month, SOCOM released its wishlist for technologies it would like in the new year. Items included chemical dyes to track the unsuspecting; hackers’ tools for “data infiltration and exfiltration”; and heap of gadgets to move hearts and minds — including this social media app.

“The command is investigating ideas and technologies that can replace traditional methods of information dissemination like face-to-face or handing out leaflets,” SOCOM spokesperson Col. Edward “Tim” Nye tells Danger Room. “We are looking at ways to get instantaneous feedback from television and radio broadcasts in a virtual world. We are looking for ways to allow audiences to comment or interact with the U.S. government in an environment that ranges from limited individual engagement to a much larger audience. We are soliciting ideas that capitalize on the innovative technologies that incorporate the newest dissemination methods through computers and smart phones.”

When asked if people should trust this app, given that’s its a tool for psychological operators, Nye answered, “That question of trust is no different for this potential dissemination method than any other dissemination method.”

On the network — which SOCOM sees as almost as a friends-enabled, military-grade Shoutcast — “users should be able to make their own long-form radio shows, by dialing in with a free phone number. This should allow a person’s interest in sports, music, news, culture to be aired. Users are to be kept entertained while sharing the things that matter to them the most.”

“A cellular device should serve as a broadcast tower, a DJ/moderator booth, and a radio receiver,” the SOCOM call request for proposals adds. “Individuals can host their own call-in show using industry best practices or just listen in to others expressing their opinions freely without the fear of traceability. Participants must feel the available content is powerful, addictive, informative, and capturing social experience through their collective insight, passion, and involvement.”

SOCOM was unable to respond for calls to comment on this story. But, in some ways, the command appears to be following the lead of the U.S. State Department, which years ago declared that ”the very existence of social networks is a net good” — and distributed tools to promote the existence of those networks. The idea was that open communication would inevitably lead to more democratic sentiment, which would inevitably redound to America’s benefit. (Theorists like Evgeny Morozov, in contrast, have argued digital communication is easier to track and trace — which makes the networks ideal tools for social control.)

And since America’s special operations forces tend to work in parts of the world where the technological infrastructure is the most threadbare, SOCOM is looking to buy up a heap of “air-droppable scatterable electronic media” that it can litter over a remote battlefield. Those gadgets include “AM/FM broadcast transmitters; miniaturized loudspeakers; entertainment devices; game device technologies; [and] greeting cards.”

That’s right, greeting cards. American military’s psychological operators may be looking at new ways to persuade. But that doesn’t mean they’re giving up the tried and true.

Internet opponents of SOPA and PIPA scored a major victory Friday.

SOPA, PIPA Controversy: Both Bills Pulled from Calendar in U.S. Congress

Internet opponents of SOPA and PIPA scored a major victory Friday.

By DAVID ZIELENZIGER

Opponents of two controversial Internet control laws, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) scored a partial gain Friday when a vote on PIPA was suddenly scrubbed.

Then the sponsor of the SOPA bill withdrew it, citing the need for “wider agreement.” The moves struck a major blow against both bills, which now appear beyond salvation.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced he would scratch a preliminary vote on PIPA next Tuesday, without comment. Shortly afterwards, House JudiciaryCommittee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.) announced he was withdrawing his SOPA law “until there is wider agreement on a solution.”

Both moves clearly alluded to Wednesday’s global protest of the laws staged by the technology community, headed by Wikipedia, Google, Reddit and more than 240 websites coordinated in part by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Reid’s postponement announced alluded to “recent events,” which included loss of several key Republican backers including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

Separately, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who introduced his rival Online Protection and Enforcement of Digital Trade Act (OPEN), which is backed by the Internet groups as well as the Consumer Electronics Association, claimed partial victory Friday.

“Postponing the Senate vote removes the imminent threat to the Internet but it’s not over yet,” Issa said. He praised the “intense popular effort to stop SOPA and PIPA” that motivated activists.

OPEN’s Senate sponsor is Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who blocked a vote on PIPA throughout 2011 despite its having been written by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

Also claiming a win was the Progessive Change Campaign Committee, which issued a warning: “Any Democrat or Republican who tries to resurrect this bill will be setting themselevs up to face massive accountability at the hands of voters.”

The original bills to deter piracy of copyrighted materials are backed by publishers and Hollywood studios such as Viacom, News Corp. and Walt Disney, concerned about downloading and sales of their materials. SOPA and PIPA contain provisions that could see federal judges closing websites and ordering arrests without trials.

The technology community, concerned about censorship as well as jobs created by web-based sites and the surge in e-commerce, mounted its anti-SOPA and PIPA campaign to forestall what looked like near-certain acceptance.

Last weekend, President Obama issued a statement cautioning against the bills as going too far.

On both sides, the allies make for political strange bedfellows. SOPA originated with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), a strong conservative, while Leahy is quite liberal.

Similarly, OPEN sponsor Issa is major conservative leader in the House, whereas Wyden is a liberal leader in the Senate. Last week, the two OPEN sponsors said they were confident their argument would prevail.

On Friday, Issa said he anticipated “a needed consensus about the way forward.”

To report problems or to leave feedback about this article, e-mail: d.zielenziger@ibtimes.com
To contact the editor, e-mail: editor@ibtimes.com

Two Steps Forward One Step Back–The US/Iran Navy Choreography Continues–Oil Prices Soar

Iran MP: Military Drill to Close Straits of Hormuz–12/12/2011

Oil Surges on Speculation of Supply Disruption in Middle East–Dec 13, 2011

S&P 500 Index March 2012 (IOM)

Date Open High Low Last Change Percent
01/20/12 1309.90 1311.50 1304.70 1310.80s +0.40 +0.03%

Commodity Prices

PRICE CHG CHG%
ChartChartChartChartChartChart
Crude Oil 98.33s -2.21 -2.20%
Brent Crude 109.86s -1.69 -1.52%
Natural Gas 2.343s +0.021 +0.90%
Gasoline 2.7844s -0.0314 -1.12%
Heating Oil 2.9884s -0.0476 -1.57%
Gold 1664.0s +9.5 +0.57%
Quotes are delayed at least 10-minutes.

After threats, Iran plays down U.S. naval moves

By Robin Pomeroy and Hashem Kalantari

TEHRAN | Sat Jan 21, 2012 7:37am EST

(Reuters) – Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Saturday it considered the likely return of U.S. warships to the Gulf part of routine activity, backing away from previous warnings to Washington not to re-enter the area.

The statement may be seen as an effort to reduce tensions after Washington said it would respond if Iran made good on a threat to block the Strait of Hormuz – the vital shipping lane for oil exports from the Gulf.

“U.S. warships and military forces have been in the Persian Gulf and the Middle East region for many years and their decision in relation to the dispatch of a new warship is not a new issue and it should be interpreted as part of their permanent presence,” Revolutionary Guard Deputy Commander Hossein Salami told the official IRNA news agency.

The apparently conciliatory comments may be a response to the European Union and Washington’s rejection of Iran’s declaration it was close to resuming negotiations with world powers and with the Pentagon saying it did not expect any challenge to its warships.

Crude prices have spiked several times this year on fears diplomatic tensions could escalate to military clashes as well as uncertainty about the effect of sanctions on the oil market.

Along with the EU, which is set to agree an embargo on Iranian oil next week, Washington hopes the sanctions will force Iran to suspend the nuclear activities it believes are aimed at making an atom bomb, a charge Tehran denies.

There has been no U.S. aircraft carrier in the Gulf since the USS John C. Stennis left at the end of December at a time when the Revolutionary Guard was conducting naval maneuvers.

On January 3, after U.S. President Barack Obama signed new sanctions aimed at stopping Iran’s oil exports, Tehran told the Stennis not to return – an order interpreted by some observers in Iran and Washington as a blanket threat to any U.S. carriers.

“I recommend and emphasize to the American carrier not to return to the Persian Gulf,” Iran’s army chief, Major General Ataollah Salehi, said at the time. “We are not in the habit of warning more than once.”

NEW MANOEUVRES

Washington says it will return to the Gulf and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said any move to block Hormuz – through which around a third of the world’s sea-borne traded oil passes – would be seen as a “red line,” requiring a response.

Citing operational security, the Pentagon will not say when the next carrier will return to the Gulf but officials say it is only a matter of time and they do not expect any problems.

In the coming days or weeks, the Revolutionary Guard will begin new naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf. Salami told IRNA these would go ahead as planned in the Iranian month of Bahman which runs from January 21 to February 19.

Iran has said it is ready to return to talks with world powers that stalled one year ago, but the West, concerned about Tehran’s move of the most sensitive atomic work to a bomb-proof bunker, says it must first see a willingness from Tehran to address the nuclear issue.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Friday “time is running out” for a diplomatic solution and urged Russia and China to drop their opposition to sanctions on Iranian oil.

Iran is OPEC’s second biggest exporter and blocking its crude exports – through the EU embargo or U.S. moves to punish banks that trade with Iran – could have a devastating impact on its economy but there are no signs so far such pressure would force it to stop what it calls its peaceful nuclear rights.

(Writing by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Sophie Hares)

Choking off free speech on the web

Choking off free speech on the web

G. ANANTHAKRISHNAN

A blackout landing page is displayed on a laptop screen inside the
APA blackout landing page is displayed on a laptop screen inside the “Anti-Sopa War Room” at the offices of the Wikipedia Foundation in San Francisco, on January 18, 2012.

What makes SOPA and PIPA especially toxic is the threat they pose to all dimensions of a website’s existence – physical presence, findability and revenue stream.

With 4.5 million signatures on a Google petition and one million messages sent to the United States Congress via the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in a single day, January 18, advocates of a free Internet have mounted a determined bid to stall new legislation that can chill free speech. The global chorus against two Bills that are winding their way through the American legal system is growing.

The two draft laws in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, now known around the world by the acronyms SOPA and PIPA (for Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act), have raised a storm on the Internet. They are seen as updated versions of the “Combating Online Infringements and Counterfeits Act” (COICA) which could not make progress in the Senate earlier. In a small victory for opponents, key movers of the Bills have backtracked a little, as Google, Yahoo!, Facebook, Twitter, Mozilla, Ebay, Zynga, Linkedin and AOL, among others, provide heft to the protests. Wikipedia went dark for 24 hours to make the point and when it was back, it said “millions of people have spoken in defence of a free and open Internet.”

Vague definitions

What makes the two laws obviously detrimental for free speech worldwide is their focus on poorly defined “rogue” websites that are not based in the United States. The definitions in the draft legislation are vague in the assessment of not just free speech advocates, but most major technology companies. The legal tools to punish “infringing” websites as originally drafted in SOPA included a provision for Domain Name System blocking, and denying them the ability to exist as an address on the Internet. The firestorm of protest from U.S. voters that virtually “melted the servers” of Congress has forced the sponsors of the two laws to announce that the DNS blocking provision is now off the table.

Yet, the two Bills are far from dead and there is still plenty to worry about. The attempt to introduce strong-arm measures must be viewed against the backdrop of a persistent effort in the U.S. to use judicial processes to access personal data about individuals abroad using services such as Twitter, in the wake of the WikiLeaks expose. It makes matters more difficult that the U.S. court order prohibits the disclosure of its contents. Are there more technology companies that were covered, that have not come to light, for instance?

Moreover, the new Bills aim to create a procedure to blacklist inconvenient websites and censor them. They have many other weapons to kill websites. These include ordering search engines to remove them from results, prohibiting distribution of advertising, and, quite akin to the WikiLeaks experience, stopping companies such as PayPal or Visa from processing their financial transactions.

It is natural that the prevailing sentiment among international users of the Internet, who have either themselves experienced or have closely observed its power to bring communities together in the Middle East, North Africa and the Occupy movement cities, is “We are all Americans now.” They have no Congressman or Senator to call and petition, but they have made known their opposition to the two Bills widely online. There is a legitimate fear that if the new legal provisions go into force, technology companies coming under U.S. legal jurisdiction could be compelled, or perhaps even be willing, to disclose information on them. Some may simply react to domestic political imperatives and purge foreign websites with an inconvenient point of view. It is important to remember that unlike the existing scheme of filtering — where individual pages and search links are removed — the omnibus penal provisions in SOPA can erase the presence of entire websites.

Ironically, strong fears haunt U.S. companies as well. Some of them dread a new, high-cost technology landscape emerging in America, driving innovation, online traffic, and thus jobs and commerce to other countries that guarantee freedom. In this balkanised future, a social networking website may prefer, say, Iceland, where activists hosted early initiatives of WikiLeaks.

The “group of nine” technology companies including Google and Yahoo! that wrote the joint petition to Congress pointed to a McKinsey study that shows 3.4 per cent of GDP in 13 countries is accounted for by the Internet. In the U.S., the contribution is even larger. The Internet has increased the productivity of small and medium-sized businesses by as much as ten per cent. Trying to put in new conditions at the behest of traditional media companies including those trying to save old models of distribution and profits (for which they massively funded a lobbying campaign during 2011), can crimp growth and the new ventures.

That message is not lost on the White House, and a statement released by the Obama administration says it “will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cybersecurity risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.” Whether through a veto or through legislative defeat, halting the progress of SOPA and PIPA will be crucial to online communities that fear direct, creeping censorship of the Internet.

Not new

Censoring of Internet content is not new. All search engines remove content and filter search results based on directions and orders issued in different countries to meet the requirements of domestic laws. The toxic potential of SOPA and PIPA lies in their capacity to comprehensively throttle free speech, at least until a new competitive set of alternatives emerges on the Internet. All dimensions of a website’s existence — physical presence, findability and revenue stream are under threat.

In the democratic scheme of things, governments that guarantee free speech through statute should baulk at making domestic copies of the controversial American model to suppress their own citizens. Yet, in the Indian context, there will obviously be keen interest in the two U.S. Bills for their possible replication.

Even now, the Indian Information Technology Act, 2000 contains provisions that would not meet the accepted definition of judicial due process. Orders are issued to technology companies hosting content on websites to remove allegedly offensive or infringing material by officials of the government, circumventing a legal process that involves the courts, as is necessary in the case of traditional media.

There is also a marked preference among some leading politicians, such as Communications and Information Technology Minister Kapil Sibal, for a purge of websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, of content that is deemed “offensive”, instead of ignoring criticism from the fringe. Google has been asked to remove several items on the ground that they criticise the government or individual politicians. That there are ample provisions in existing law to handle the more egregious cases is conveniently ignored. Protections earlier available to Internet Service Providers against liability for third party content are sought to be weakened systematically. There may be a specific case to remove material that is obviously inflammatory and capable of doing harm, but the policy compass clearly points to a lurking desire for censorship. If SOPA and PIPA were to succeed in America, the move towards copycat laws in India can only be a step away.

(anant@thehindu.co.in)