Hillary Tells Senate That Their Package Isn’t Big Enough

ap hillary clinton jef 120228 main State Dept Budget Gets Pushback in Senate
Hillary uses hand gestures to show how big it should be.

Carolyn Kaster/AP Photo

State Dept Budget Gets Pushback in Senate

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emerged from two back-to-back Senate committees today without a clear momentum for the fiscal year 2013 State Department budget.The agency has requested $54.7 billion in funding, an increase of 2.6 percent. Clinton says the request represents slightly over 1 percent of the total federal budget and doesn’t cover the rate of inflation.Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called the proposal “budgeting by inertia” and said it disproportionately allocated resources to Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan given rising issues in East Asia and the Americas. Leahy is the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee responsible for the State Department budget.“It’s going to be difficult to get a bill through this year,” Leahy said.

But “painful cuts” had already hit the department, according to Clinton, including an 18 percent decrease in funding for Eurasian programs.

The US presence in Iraq was a target for critics, with Leahy singling out a $4.8 billion request for the US Embassy in Baghdad. Such an expenditure, he said, was a “symbol of grandiose and unrealistic ambitions in that country.”

Clinton told the panel the embassy was still in the process of “right-sizing” its resources. Earlier this month it was announced State had would cut 10 percent of funding from the program.

The State Department budget includes a new $770 million fund that Clinton says would be used exclusively for unexpected issues to arise in the Middle East and North Africa. According to the secretary, during the early days of the Arab Spring the State Department had to “carve out” $360 million from existing programs to support U.S. efforts, a tactic that proved logistically “awkward.” The new fund would be a savings bank specifically for unanticipated regional issues.

Secretary Clinton says it was inspired by a similar program used during the fall of the Soviet Union to counter hunger in Poland and Hungary.

Clinton faced panels from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on State, Foreign Relations, and Related Projects.

Russian opposition figure may be assassinated, Putin warns ahead of election

Russian opposition figure may be assassinated, Putin warns ahead of election

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Russians that his enemies may kill a prominent opposition figure in order to fuel public outrage against the government.Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned Russians that his enemies may kill a prominent opposition figure in order to fuel public outrage against the government.


Vladimir Isachenkov
Associated Press

MOSCOW—Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly warned his opponents against unsanctioned protests after Sunday’s presidential election, in which he is all but certain to regain the presidency.

In a statement reflecting heightening tensions four days before the vote, he also alleged Wednesday that his foes may kill a prominent opposition figure in order to fuel public outrage against the government.

“They are looking among well-known people for a sacrificial victim,” he said, according to Russian news reports. “They could, I’m sorry, knock someone off and then blame the authorities for that.”

Putin criticized the opposition plans for rallies over what it fears will be a fraudulent election, saying Wednesday it is “unacceptable” to prejudge the vote.

“We will respect any viewpoint but are calling on everyone to act within the framework of law and use only legitimate means,” he said at a meeting with his campaign activists.

Evidence of widespread vote-rigging in favour of Putin’s party in December’s parliamentary election fueled a series of massive protests in Moscow demanding an end to Putin’s 12-year rule. Their organizers had received the authorities’ clearance in advance to avoid any violence.

Civil society and opposition activists have turned out en masse to act as observers at the polls to prevent violations. They are also bracing up for demonstrations after the vote.

The opposition is now pushing authorities to allow a postelection protest at a venue even closer to the Kremlin. The Moscow city government has refused the demand, offering other more distant locations instead. The organizers have rejected that offer, raising the threat of violence.

Putin claimed Wednesday that unidentified forces abroad are plotting provocations against authorities after the vote. He has repeatedly claimed that the U.S. is stoking up protests in order to weaken Russia.

Putin, who was Russia’s president from 2000 to 2008 and has been prime minister since then, is running for a third, now six-year presidential term. Polls have showed he is likely to easily defeat four Kremlin-approved challengers, but his statements Wednesday reflected strong concern about the opposition protests.

Previous rallies in Moscow that drew tens of thousands in the largest show of discontent since the Soviet times were sanctioned by authorities and went on peacefully.

Putin seems to command the strong loyalty of police and other law enforcement agencies, which have seen significant wage increases recently. But a violent confrontation after Sunday’s vote could fuel public anger against Putin and destabilize the situation.

Russian Leaders May Be Pissed-Off Enough To Close the Afghan Trap

[If Obama keeps refusing to meet Russian demands to attack the opium problem inside Afghanistan, head-on, the decision may be taken to keep American “trainers” from abandoning the Afghans to the mess that we have created.]

Russia may close the northern route for NATO

Khairullo Mirsaidov

As soon as the situation in Afghanistan can change dramatically, exposing as a fundamental transformation of the entire system of regional security.

According to “AP”, a renowned expert, a senior researcher at the Institute of Oriental Studies, Alexander Knyazev, citing sources in circles close to the governing bodies of the SCO, in fact, the Russian leadership decided to close in the near future, the so-called NDN, transit route for supplying the troops U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“The motives of the Russian leadership caused by the lack of U.S. coherent, adequate response to the position of the Russian Federation on the situation in Syria, the situation around Iran, the U.S. reluctance to listen to Russia’s proposals on European missile defense,” – said Knyazev. He also did not rule out the connection of this solution with the pre-election situation in Russia. “As I said, an important factor in making this decision is the irritation of the Russian leadership’s blatant U.S. intervention in the internal affairs of Russia, Russia’s open support of” off-system “of the opposition and undisguised attempts to prevent the election victory of Vladimir Putin,” – said the prince.

According to his assumptions, “the allies of Russia in the SCO and the CSTO are not unique to take this decision as Uzbekistan, to a lesser extent – Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to make a considerable rate on dividends received from the North network. Russia’s decision will mean that for these countries, NDN will cease to function. ”

It is not clear yet, the expert adds, is whether to go as the provision of air corridors.In this case, the question will be the fate of an American military base at the airport “Manas” in Kyrgyzstan and the French Air Force bases and the German Bundeswehr in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan respectively.

Given that this path is now up to 90% of all deliveries, and outstanding opportunities through Pakistan is very limited and uncertain, it would actually mean the isolation of the US-NATO coalition, and with and without the complicated military situation in Afghanistan could turn it into a new Vietnam to the United States.

Meanwhile, another 9 February, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that Russia and NATO are in talks on expanding supply routes of cargo to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
“Recently, we discussed additional routes, which will include a multimodal transport Rail and air transport “, – said Lavrov.
“Not in anyone’s interests to leave Afghanistan in a situation where Afghan forces themselves, and law enforcement agencies can not provide security in the country – said the foreign minister. – In the interests of all of us to the International Security Assistance Force fully completed the task set before them that the UN Security Council – the eradication of terrorism and drug threats emanating from Afghanistan. ”

Russia and US Clash Over Afghan Drug Trafficking


Russia and US Clash Over Afghan Drug Trafficking

By Alexander SHUSTOV (Russia)

This month Washington whose commitment to fighting drug production in the US occupied Afghanistan is widely called into question rolled out a new plan of coordinating the activities of Central Asian republic’s anti-narcotic agencies. The initiative was, however, promptly blocked as potentially counterproductive by Russia, the country hit hardest by the Afghan drug output.

In essence, the US plan codenamed The Central Asia Counternarcotics Initiative (CACI) amounts to forming, with the funding from Washington and under its oversight, special drug enforcement units with extensive powers including access to the operational materials and databases of the police and security agencies of the host republics. All of the five Central Asian republics were invited to join the program which also had to be endorsed by the US, Russia and Afghanistan. Support for CACI was supposed to be expressed in Vienna on 16 February at the Third Ministerial Conference of the Paris Pact Partners on Combating Illicit Traffic in Opiates Originating in Afghanistan in the form of a collective resolution, but passing it proved impossible due to the resistance mounted by Russia.

Serious suspicions arise in connection with Washington’s bid to tap, in the framework of the program, into the bulk of classified data maintained by the law-enforcement agencies of the host republics, as the information can easily be invoked to exert pressure on Central Asian administrations. Moscow cited the argument to convince its Collective Security Treaty Organization partners – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan – to refrain from signing the statement drafted by the US.

The US agenda behind the initiative is to gain stronger political and military positions in Central Asia, while Washington actually lacks the resolve to take practical steps towards suppressing Afghan drug production and trafficking. The US tendency to cultivate relations with Central Asian republics on a bilateral basis and to route around Russia and the Collective Security Treaty Organization is seen in Moscow as evidence of the above, and the explanations like the one offered by US Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs William R. Brownfield – that the US is neither a member of the group nor even an observer in it – indeed sound unconvincing as it remains unclear why the circumstance should hinder multilateral cooperation in countering the drug threat.

Drug production in Afghanistan has reached ominous proportions and is known to be swelling. According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the country’s narcotics output rose by 61% in 2011 compared to 2010 – from 3,600 to 5,800 tons. Notably, over the time the area used for drug cropping expanded only by 7% and most of the output increase is attributable to bumper harvest across the drug plantations. A circumstance not to be overlooked in the context is that the opium prices are rising continuously and added 133% in 2011, meaning that demand for drugs is currently outpacing supply. In 2010, opium price growth was driven by supply contraction as a fairly mysterious fungal decease wiped out a large part of opium poppy crops. Drug production did start to climb in 2011 in the regions where the epidemic had taken place, even in Kapisa, Baghlan, Faryab provinces formerly reported to have completely dropped out of the game.

Overall, drug production has become the key sector of the Afghan economy over the period of the US occupation, and the fact by all means merits deeper analysis. The UN currently estimates the 2011 revenues of Afghan poppy farmers to top $1.4b, which is equivalent to 9% of Afghanistan’s GDP.

Deploying US special forces in Central Asian republics is a recurrent theme on Washington’s foreign policy agenda. In 2009, for example, the US declared dispatching to all the five of them commando units charged with the mission of keeping secure NATO’s Northern Supply Route To Afghanistan. The White House went public with a plan to construct security infrastructures in Central Asia in August, 2010. Specifically, US Central Command’s counter-narcotics fund intended to pour over $40m into building training compounds in Kyrgyzstan’s Osh and Tajikistan’s Karatog plus a canine training facility and helicopter hangar near Almaty in Kazakhstan, and into an upgrade of a number of border-crossing checkpoints in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. In the majority of cases, the installations are strategically located – for instance, a facelift awaited Turkmenistan’s Sarahs checkpoint sited on the Turkmen-Iranian border and Kyrgyzstan’s checkpoint in the proximity of Batkent, a position key to the Fergana Valley.

The US interest in Kyrgyzstan drew ample media coverage. Talk began years ago that a US military base was about to pop up in the southern part of the republic which is traversed by a major drug-trafficking route. The June, 2010 outbreak of ferocious inter-ethnic fighting in the Osh and Jalalabat provinces of Kyrgyzstan is oftentimes blamed on the drug mafia. Ousted Kyrgyz president K. Bakiyev, by the way, was markedly unenthusiastic about admitting to the republic a Russian military base or one to be ran by the Collective Security Treaty Organization but seemed open to the idea of a training center functioning under the US control.

Speaking of the cooperation under the umbrella of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, its drug enforcement coordination must be credited with steadily improving efficiency. The Kanal-2001 raid jointly launched by the group’s members last December led to the seizure of 16 tons of drugs including 500 kg of heroin, over 2 tons of hashish, 9 tons of opium, and around 130 kg of cocaine. In concert, the Treaty partners’ law-enforcement agencies opened over 21,000 criminal cases, 3,400 of them being related to illicit drug circulation. It is indicative of the progress being made that the grab in a similar 2010 stint was modest in comparison, totaling just 7 tons of drugs, while the number of agents involved was several times higher. Moscow’s bilateral ties with Central Asian republics in the drug enforcement sphere also help – thanks to the Russian assistance, Kyrgyz border guards managed to boost the amounts of confiscated narcotics by a factor of 23 over just one year.

The US push for the creation and operation under its control of an alternative Central Asian drug enforcement architecture is naturally seen apprehensively against the background, especially considering that Washington rejects on a wholesale basis the initiatives targeting drug production within Afghanistan. Russia floated a series of proposals at the aforementioned Vienna conference such as compiling an interactive real-time map of drug crops in Afghanistan to guide eradication raids, using satellite surveillance to detect drug trafficking, equipping border guard outposts with advanced technologies, etc., but neither of the ideas resonated with the US. As before, Washington opposes eradication on the pretext that it would leave Afghan farmers unable to fare for themselves, and, moreover, shuns Russia’s initiative to subject to strict control the precursors to heroin and other complex opiates. Precursor codification could make it possible to track their origins and, eventually, to radically cap hard drug production, but it seems that this would not be the result to the US Administration’s liking.

The inescapable conclusion stemming from the analysis of the US position vis-a-vis Afghanistan’s drug problem, attempts to perpetuate in some form its military presence in the country, and efforts to make inroads into Central Asia is that the intensifying flow of drugs from Afghanistan to Russia and across it to Europe is regarded as an at least acceptable phenomenon in Washington.

Source: Strategic Culture Foundation




When the Baluchis are being Persecuted for last 65, Years through Operation starting since 1947, When Pashtun were Fighting and Liberating Kashmir on Orders of Quaid I Azam through , Trained Armies of Khans of Dir ,  Ambh Hazara and Wali Swat and many FATA tribesmen who were under command of GHQ Army men like Asghar Khan and His Fauji Brothers who were commanders in NLI, ( Northern Light Infantry of Gilgit) .

The Rest of Pakistan Army was busy surrounding another Khan, the Khan of Kalat in Pashtun Areas of Baluchistan. This was being Done on Orders of Same Quaid I Azam and Liaqat Ali Khan who were Promised by Nawab Akbar Bhugti in 1947 to Join Pakistan Although he had no Mandate in Baluchistan controlled by Khan of Kalat .

In Beginning in 1947, when it was the Pashtun who did not want to join Pakistan and later in 1970,s too when Pushtunistan issue was Stamped Falsely on NAP Government and was raised artificially, through Baluch Nawab Akbar Bhugti who in Partnership with Punjabi Dominated GHQ , Bureaucracy and PPP,s CM Punjab Mustafa Khar , used the Baluchis Especially the Nawab to Crush the Pashtuns .

Their elected representatives of National Awami Party of Wali and Ghaffar Khan Led Government in Baluchistan and NWFP  Including Murree and Mengals Baluchis , Minus Nawab Akbar Bhugti was Dissolved by Force and They were Charged with Treason in Hyderabad Conspiracy case. While Nawab was Given Governor and chief Minister ship of Baluchistan.

Now Powers who were Supreme then and now want to Reverse the Tide of History and now want to use the Pashtun against the Baluchis to solve their Problems with Baluchis and especially when their Only Ally Nawab Bhugti was Killed by Army Action by General Musharaf.

Now a Pashtun General Obaid Ullah Khattak is made as IGFC Baluchistan and it is being used to launch Attacks against the , Feuding Baluchis to make them Abducted and Disappeared while Shifting the Blame on Pashtun General and his Recent Interview has raised many Eye Brows of Pashtuns in Pakistan who term this Negative and Below the belt Type Policy as Hateful.

Since in Corps Commanders there is not a Single Pashtun , who Makes the Policies of GHQ , just a Lone IGFC Baluchistan does not matter , But is follower of Orders , but drums are being beaten especially by Media that  as if it is Policy of Pashtun  General Obaid Khattak.

Is this Policy of Causing further Blood shed of Pashtun’s through Pitting Pashtuns towards Baluchis to save Lives of Punjabis is both Bitter and Inhuman.

Since in Baluchistan the Population of Pashtun and Baluchis are about 50-50%, Would further Bloodshed solve Problems in Baluchistan?

Thanking you in Anticipation  ,


Dr. Khurrum S yousafzai

Email : alijauk@gmail.com

NATO’s Withdrawal Symptoms

[If NATO or Obama pisses-off anyone else then all of those tanks and APCs may not find an open road for the great escape (SEE:  Britain looks for a new route out of Afghanistan).]

Uzbekistan: Tashkent’s Shakedown Practices Hold Up NDN Traffic — Contractors

by Deirdre Tynan

Commercial sources familiar with operations on the Northern Distribution Network, a key supply line for the Afghan war effort, say that Uzbekistan is “continuously uncooperative” when it comes to facilitating the shipment of goods to US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The hassles are such that some Pentagon contractors now try to avoid dealing with Tashkent when possible.

“Only the very big US government flag carriers are able to operate with any ease or success in Uzbekistan because they have clout and can negotiate with the Uzbek government,” a Washington, DC,-based source said.

Uzbekistan has the most developed railway network of any Central Asian state and thus serves as a hub for Northern Distribution Network (NDN) traffic. At the same time, the country is consistently listed by global watchdogs as one of the most corrupt and repressive states in the world. In late 2011, members of the US Senate Appropriations Committee expressed concern that the NDN was a potential gravy train of graft which enabled Uzbek President Islam Karimov to reinforce his authoritarian regime.

“It’s simpler to use the Kazakhstan-Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan trucking route. In winter, it has its own problems with bad roads and weather conditions, but the governments of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are cooperative,” the Washington source said. “The Uzbek government has cornered any business that’s done on their portion of the NDN for themselves, and they are unpredictable, they could shut down the railroad to traffic without much warning.”

Even Pentagon policy planners appear to be growing weary of the Karimov administration’s fickle behavior. Defense Department solicitations relating to work performed at the Manas Transit Center near Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan now contain a clause encouraging vendors not to ship goods through Uzbekistan. Clause H-11, titled “Uzbekistan Shipping Policy,” has appeared in all tenders issued since mid-2011. It cautions; “materials used for the purposes of this contract shall not be shipped through the country of Uzbekistan. The United States Government shall not be liable for any costs or delays resulting from violations of this instruction. Nor shall the Contractor be exempt from any liquidated damages or consideration sought for late deliveries and project completion dates due to the Contractor choosing to ship through Uzbekistan.”

As it gears up for the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan, US Defense officials are taking a hard look at expanding routes that circumvent Uzbekistan. In particular, Pentagon officials want to develop routes in and out of Afghanistan that will “grow to be larger” than the NDN.

Last summer, at a meeting of the Pentagon’s Third Party Payment System (TPPS) Oversight Council, a pan-military body that monitors payments to contracted shippers, participantsdiscussed the feasibility of opening air corridors that would supersede the NDN. According to the minutes of the meeting; “TRANSCOM and [Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC)] are moving towards Multi-Modal moves in and out of Afghanistan. They are currently working with vendors to have an Air-Lay into Afghanistan. This will grow larger than the Northern Distribution Network. It is the alternate means to moving items into and outside the country.”

Transporting goods by air is generally far more expensive than by ground.

Attendees also explored the “much cheaper” option of trucking goods from Europe to Afghanistan via Turkey. “This will be an alternate to many of the routes,” the TPPS meeting minutes record.
SDDC customer advisories urge transporters to consider using a Trans-Siberian route. “Trans-Siberian Route (TSR): [Points of Delivery] Vostochny, Russia; and Vladivostok, Russia. TSR is a viable option to move NDN eligible cargo from [US Pacific Command Area of Responsibility] and US West Coast,” stated an SDDC advisory on December 13.

The DC-based source said avoiding Uzbekistan “makes a lot of sense.”

“If you can avoid using Uzbekistan then it’s good to do that,” the source added.

Despite a growing distaste for Uzbekistan, contractors say that, given Tashkent’s geographical position, there is no way to marginalize the country entirely. For one, the rail connection between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan is irreplaceable. Some 60 percent of fuel deliveries to US forces in Afghanistan are shipped via the NDN, and the bulk passes over the Termez-Hairaton crossing on the Uzbek-Afghan border. The US Army and Air Force’s requirements for fuel are not projected to decrease in the near future.

Uzbek authorities seem intent on profiting as much as they can from the war effort, while they can. Specifically, Tashkent is set to impose a drastic hike of transit fees for items being withdrawn from Afghanistan. According to the latest NDN transit agreements for Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, copies of which were obtained by EurasiaNet.org, Uzbekistan will charge carriers of non-military goods leaving Afghanistan up to 50 percent more than the existing rate for use of the railroad. Carriers also face a level of bureaucracy that is not evident in the agreement signed with Kazakhstan.

Article 13 of the Uzbek agreement, signed on November 17, 2011, states that “the cost for railway services for transportation of transit cargo through the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall be 1.5 times the rate of the International Railway Transit Tariff.”

Earlier transit agreements with Tashkent set rates “in accordance” with the International Railway Transit Tariff.

Carriers must also repeatedly apply for permission to transit goods out of Afghanistan from the Uzbek Ministry of Defense, which will then specify exactly at what time the cargo may be moved.
The Kazakh agreement, signed in December 2011, is significantly shorter and simpler than the Uzbek agreement. It specifies that “the transit of goods through the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the subject of export control and should be authorized by the appropriate agencies as stated in Kazakhstan’s Law on Export Control.”

Despite the general perception that Tashkent’s NDN cooperation is grudging, the United States will need to keep Tashkent on board, the source warned. “The decision’s been made not to move vehicles or anything armored through Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan, this means it will have to go through Uzbekistan, and most likely through western Kazakhstan for delivery on to Poti,” the source said.

German held for funding anti-Kudankulam protest

German held for funding anti-Kudankulam protest

A Selvaraj, TNN

Vodpod videos no longer available.

German held for funding anti-Kudankulam protest…, posted with vodpod

CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu police on Monday arrested a 50-year-old German national who allegedly raised funds for protests against theKudankulam nuclear power plant.
Tamil Nadu ‘Q’ branch sleuths, who monitor the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the state, arrested Sonnteg Reiner Hermann in Nagercoil on Monday. They brought him to Chennai in the evening. Immigration officials said they have cancelled Hermann’s visa and that he would be deported early on Tuesday.
Police sources said Hermann had come to India on a tourist visa. The arrest comes close on the heels of the anti-nuke protestors threatening to sue PM Manmohan Singh for telling a journal that Indian NGOs were getting funds from the US and western Europe to stall the construction of the Russia-aided Kudankulam nuclear reactor.
Acting on a tip-off from the Centre, the ‘Q’ branch conducted surprise checks at a lodge in Nagercoil and picked up Hermann for questioning. They searched his room and found evidence that he had been mobilising funds for the anti-nuclear activists, an officer said.
"We had been watching his movements and found that he was sourcing funds for activists in Tamil Nadu. We collected Hermann’s mobile phone call details
and found that he was in touch with Lalmohan, a close aide of Udayakumar who is leading the anti-nuclear agitation in Kudankulam," the officer said.
MoS in the PMO V Narayanasamy said the Centre had cancelled licenses of three NGOs in south Tamil Nadu. "These NGOs have violated the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act and therefore their licenses have been cancelled. They did not maintain proper accounts and did not use funds for the purposes they were meant for," Narayanasamy said.
Central agencies are also probing the activities of some NGOs that receive funds from the US and Scandinavian countries and are spending huge amounts on the anti-Kudankulam agitation.
TN cops arrested Sonnteg Reiner Hermann from Nagercoil for mobilising funds for the anti-nuclear activists. Cops said his phone call records revealed he was in constant touch with a close aide of Udayakumar, who is leading the Kudankulam agitation.

Now A German NGO Gets Deported for Troublemaking In India

[If India and Pakistan would just work together on this, they would discover just how deep the Imperial subversion goes.  Both India and Pakistan are targeted for destabilization and potentially new war, and American allies like Germany, Turkey and Britain are important parts of the Imperial plots.]

German deported for funding nuke protests

India Blooms News Service

Chennai, Feb 28 (IBNS): A German national has been deported back to his home country on charges of raising funds for protests against Kudankulam nuclear plant in Tamil Nadu, media reports said on Tuesday.

Sonnteg Reiner Hermann, 50, was detained from a hotel in Nagercoil on Monday by Tamil Nadu ‘Q’ branch sleuths, who monitor the activities of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the state, reports said.
He was brought to Chennai on Monday evening where immigration officials said they cancelled his tourist visa, adding that he would be deported early on Tuesday.
“We had been watching his movements and found that he was sourcing funds for activists in Tamil Nadu. We collected Hermann’s mobile phone call details and found that he was in touch with Lalmohan, a close aide of Udayakumar who is leading the anti-nuclear agitation in Kudankulam,” a government official said.
The arrest comes after activists protesting against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in the state threatened to sue Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for saying that they were getting funds from the U.S. and western Europe organisations to stall the construction of the Russia-aided project.

Cutting Cables, Lighting Fuses–2-02-2008

  • Cutting Cables, Lighting Fuses

    Published: WakeUpFromYourSlumber

    By: Peter Chamberlin

    third undersea cable has been cut, effectively eliminating the Internet in the Middle East, But according to CNN that cable outage does not extend to Israel, Lebanon and Iraq.

    Is it a coincidence that these three countries, who represent the next phase of the war on terrorism, were spared in the communications blackout that is affecting the rest of the Middle East? With the reemergence of the shadowy Fatah Al Islam organization, which has been linked to Saudi Prince Bandar, Saad Al-Hariri, the Mossad and neocon Elliot Abrams, it becomes clear that the pre-invasion of Lebanon scenario from last summer has nearly been reset. Bush laid claim to Lebanon with his recent executive order criminalizing criticism of US/Israeli actions in Lebanon, just as he did with the previous one on Iraq. These two orders claimed that the entire war of terror hinged on these sideshows, declaring that failure in either represents “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of theUnited States.”

    It is obvious to the casual observer that things are really starting to heat-up in Lebanon, with the recent attack upon a US Embassy vehicle, the car-bombing of the Hariri investigator, even another fake Osama bin Laden video about Lebanon. The assassination of Lebanese investigator Capt. Wissam Eid, who reportedly suspected Israeli involvement in recent assassinations blamed onSyria, such as Rafik Hariri, is very likely another Mossad false flag attack, carried-out to entertain the gullible sheep of theUnited States.

    The news of the multiple acts of cable sabotage are clear proof that a hostile force is doing its best to isolate the greater Middle East region (all the way to India) from the rest of the world. With the Internet down, it will be impossible for anyone to transmit video evidence out of the visually-embargoed zone, except for those who have satellite uplinks, like the major news networks, who are already under Zionist control. The depth of these cables means that they can only be reached by submarine or deep submersibles, meaning that it could not have been done by “al Qaida” the “toilet,” which doesn’t have a navy, or a submarine.  The cable cutting had to have been the work of state terrorists.

    This sabotage Friday followed on the heels of another attack on two other submarine cables, which took place Wednesday, 5 miles off the Mediterranean coast of Alexandria, Egypt. The cable cut at 05:59 GMT Friday, 34.8 miles off the coast of Dubai, belonged to the same British FLAG network (FALCON), whose main line connecting Europe to Asia was severed Wednesday along with SEA-ME-WE 4, a competitor’s cable which served as systems back-up. Both went through the Suez Canal on their way to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, as well as across Egypt (land segment), where it cut across North Africa to Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The FALCON circuit that was taken down Friday, circled around the Persian Gulf, picking-up the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and the other Gulf States. Here is an interactive map from the FLAG home site, detailing the route of the FALCON line.  Below is the map provided by the 16 nation SEA-ME-WE 4 consortium.

    Saudi Arabia claims to have had another separate cut, which it says it has already repaired, using a submarine, accounting for Internet rumors of a fourth cut cable and the otherwise unexplainable restoration of their service and no one else, except for their Gulf State buddies.The Saudi newspaper article is obvious disinformation. Once again the Saudis are trying to distance themselves from the results of their collusion with the Israeli and US designs upon their Muslim brothers. The FLAG site explains that the Saudi service was restored by FLAG, using terrestrial routes.

    FLAG has arranged part of the Restoration capacity via terrestrial route between the landing stations in Al Khobar and Jeddah inSaudi Arabia. This was executed with excellent cooperation by Integrated Telecom Company which is the Landing Party of FALCON system inSaudi Arabia.  Some of the circuits of Qatar Telecom (Q-Tel), Ministry of CommunicationsKuwaitand Du, UAE that were severely affected have been restored.

    SinceIsraelstill has Internet, wouldn’t the editors of the major newspapers there normally do their best to get such a news scoop? Neither the Jerusalem Post nor Haaretz has anything at all to say about the sabotaged cables on their sites. A search for undersea cables on both sites reveals nothing. Something very bad is in the air. Normally the Israeli press is the favored medium for taunting the Arabs’ misfortune. Both papers, which were used to disseminate the disinformation about the recent air attack uponSyria, are eerily silent about what is now going down.

    In addition to the escalating psyops operation that is being directed at Lebanonand Syria, Israeli leaders have stepped-up their unending war of words being directed at Iran. PM Olmert used the celebration of “Holocaust Day” to announce to the world (in an off-hand manner) that Israel was ready to act against Iran on its own (forcing the US to honor Bush’s commitments to defend Israel, no matter what).
    “Israel could not afford to stand by while other nations called for its annihilation… the Jewish state must defend itself against calls premised on zealous, murderous ideology, a tyrannical terror-supporting regime that recklessly aspires for regional hegemony, and a malicious program for developing weapons of mass destruction.”

    According to a Washington Post interview with Defense Minister Barak, Iran has already “gone beyond the Manhattan Project,”
    “We suspect they are probably already working on warheads for ground-to-ground missiles,”

    As if Barak’s charges (that Iranis attempting to fit existing nuclear warheads to its long-range missiles) weren’t sufficient grounds for a pre-emptive strike, if they were proven to be true, Israelhas recently opened another line of attempted justification for its coming aggression, announcing that they have evidence that Iranian rockets have been launched fromGaza intoIsrael.

    The campaign to pump-up war fever on the home front started building to a crescendo in the Jerusalem Post, on Jan 29, when they ran this article, “IDF beefs up forces to thwart terror cells which left Gaza.” The article brought into the cold light of day the ancient Zionist plan to violently colonize all of “Greater Israel”, intending to justify an assault into the Sinai, where, it is claimed:
    “as many as 20 cells may be trying to organize in the Sinai to use it as what one officer in the security services described as a platform to launch significant attacks on targets in Israel…In recent days the IDF has reinforced its troops along the Egyptian border. Last Thursday, Route 10, which runs along the border from Ovda to Kerem Shalom, was closed to civilian traffic and Israelis were warned to return immediately from resorts in theSinai Peninsula. One day later the IDF decided to temporarily close tourist areas near the border.”

    This article was an offhand admission that Israel has an immediate intention is to finish Gaza, under the continuing ruse of “fighting terrorism,” setting the stage for another messianic rabbi to speak-out, showing the world the only acceptable “final solution” to Israel’s “Palestinian problem.”
    “Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has been quoted as calling for Gazans to be transferred to the Sinai Peninsula, to a Palestinian state which he said could be constructed for them in the desert.”

    The final solution – here we go again.


    • peter.chamberlin@hotmail.com


Ship Accidents Sever Data Cables Off East Africa

[Here we go again, just like in 2008 (SEE:  Cutting Cables, Lighting Fuses).]

Ship Accidents Sever Data Cables Off East Africa


NAIROBI—Undersea data cables linking East Africa to the Middle East and Europe were severed in two separate shipping accidents this month, causing telecommunications outages in at least nine countries and affecting millions of Internet and phone users, telecom executives and government officials said.

A ship dragging its anchor off the coast of the Kenyan port city of Mombasa severed a crucial Internet and phone link for the region Saturday, crippling electronic communications from Zimbabwe to Djibouti, according to a public-private consortium that owns the undersea cable.

The Indian Ocean fiber-optic cable, known as The East African Marine Systems, or Teams, is owned by a group of telecom companies and the Kenyan government. It was the fourth cable to be severed in the region since Feb. 17.

The Teams cable had been rerouting data from three other cables severed 10 days ago in the Red Sea between Djibouti and the Middle East. Together, the four fiber-optic cables channel thousands of gigabytes of information per second and form the backbone of East Africa’s telecom infrastructure.

Telecom companies were reeling over the weekend as engineers attempted to reroute data south along the East African coast and around the Cape of Good Hope.

"It’s a very unusual situation," said Chris Wood, chief executive of West Indian Ocean Cable Co., the largest shareholder of the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System, or Eassy, and a major owner of data-capacity rights on the two other Red Sea cables. "I believe these were accidental incidents, although more will be known when we bring the cables up from the sea bed."

Mr. Wood said the Eassy cable, the Europe India Gateway (EIG) and the South East Asia Middle East Western Europe-3 (SMW-3) cables were all severed at the same time about 650 feet below the Red Sea. The cables were all severed far out to sea, but Mr. Wood said that a passing ship could have caused the damage because the Red Sea is unusually shallow.

He said cable ships would repair the Red Sea cables within about three weeks.

Joel Tanui, general manager of Teams, said plans also were under way to fix the Mombasa cable.

"We wish to notify all our stakeholders of ongoing emergency repair works and apologize unreservedly for any inconvenience this may cause," Mr. Tanui said. "The cable should be fully operational within the next three weeks."

The repair operation will use remote-controlled submarines to survey the damage and lift the cables to the ocean surface. Engineers will then splice the cables and repair them in sanitized rooms aboard cable ships.

Each submarine fiber-optic cable is typically composed of about four strands, each one the diameter of a human hair and sheathed in a thick steel armor. The strands are capable of carrying millions of phone calls and data connections at once.

The first submarine fiber-optic cables were activated in East Africa in 2009 and since then Internet speeds and cellular coverage have increased dramatically alongside an explosion in e-commerce. Telecom firms like Safaricom and Africa Online are now among the most prominent companies in sub-Saharan Africa.

TTP Terrorists Murder Bus Load of Shia Near Swat

Kohistan bus ambush kills 18

The bus was carrying passengers from Rawalpindi. – AFP Photo

PESHAWAR: Sectarian gunmen ambushed a bus on Tuesday, killing 18 Shia Muslims in a usually peaceful region of northern Pakistan that neighbours the former Taliban stronghold of Swat, officials said.

The bus was stopped, before passengers were ordered off and shot in the mountainous district of Kohistan as it travelled from Rawalpindi to the northern city of Gilgit.

“Armed men hiding on both sides of the road attacked the bus,” local police chief Mohammad Ilyas said.

“Eighteen people have died and eight wounded,” he added. The ambush happened near the town of Harban, 130 miles (208 kilometres) north of the capital Islamabad.

Survivors said seven or eight gunmen stopped the bus, forced the passengers to get off and then opened fire, regional administration chief Khalid Omarzai told AFP by telephone, confirming the casualty numbers.

“It appears to be a sectarian attack,” local MP Abdul Sattar Khan said.

“Its a remote area. We are getting reports that the gunmen forced people to get off the bus. They checked their papers and shot them dead,” he told AFP.

The victims were Shia Muslims, he said. “It could be the outcome of the murder of two Sunni Muslims a few days ago in Gilgit. The people of the area had vowed they would take revenge,” Khan added.

Authorities were slow to confirm the motive and insisted militants are not active in the area.

Kohistan borders the Swat valley, where Pakistan in 2009 managed to put down a two-year Taliban insurgency.

Omarzai told AFP that he could not immediately confirm whether it was a sectarian attack, saying that the police were investigating.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani had strongly condemned the Kohistan incident.

The two leaders directed the concerned authorities to ensure best medical treatment for the injured.

Gilani said such incidents  could not deter the government’s resolve to fight the menace.

While the president said the culprits of such heinous crime would not be spared

Special Forces Schools, the Heart of Imperial Penetration

[SEE: Construction Begins On US Special Forces Training Center In Tajikistan; US Special Forces Trained “Zeta” Cartel That Terrorises MexicoPentagon trained troops led by officer accused in Colombian massacre; Pentagon trained troops led by officer accused in Colombian massacre]

27 Feb. 2012

NATO’s Special Forces Network


Vodpod videos no longer available.

Special Forces Network, posted with vodpod

The skills and expertise of Special Forces are valuable assets to NATO operations. But whereas Special Forces are often seen as a national prerogative, the transatlantic Alliance also has a NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ) where Special Forces work together.

Located at SHAPE Headquarters in Mons, Belgium, the NSHQ was set up to coordinate NATO’s Special Operations and to optimise the employment of Special Forces. It has one of the most diverse multinational compositions within NATO. NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) member Austria and the NATO ‘contact country’ of Sweden have also recently assigned personnel to the NSHQ.

“The main advantage of the NSHQ is to bring all SOF – Special Operations Forces – nations from NATO and from partners together to sit around the table and to promote and improve the national SOF capabilities and to assure interoperability. The capability to work together like in Afghanistan currently,” says Colonel Fritz Urbach.

Although the majority of what the NSHQ does is at the strategic and operational level, the NATO Special Operations Headquarters is also the place for training and education. At their training facility at nearby Chièvres Air Base, Special Forces from NATO and partner nations train together.

Niek, a Dutch Marine Corps Major and course member at the NATO SOF School explains, “You work with the same process and you get taught on the same method, so everybody is aligned. It is an advantage when you run up to each other in theatre, you will recognise each other, you know each other and you have the same procedures and the same background.”

Connected Forces

By connecting the different forces, the NATO Special Operations Headquarters creates a network of Special Forces people who train together and who know and trust each other. Once they deploy on a multinational operation they can build on a trusted relationship. Building this Special Forces community is a key element, according to Colonel Fritz Urbach.

“We try to build this human network, not only on the commanders’ level, but also on the operators’ level,” says Colonel Urbach. “ And everybody who has attended one of the courses in Chièvres Air Base is automatically part of the SOF network where he can keep contact with his course mates, exchange information and stay updated,” he adds.

Last year the NATO Special Operations School had almost 1000 graduates. And with a total of 2500 graduates so far, NATO’s Special Operations Network is steadily growing.

Nine-Story Apartment Building Explodes In Astrakhan, Russia, Only Outlet On the Caspian Sea

Blast collapses Russian apartment block

The Associated Press

Feb 27, 2012

Russia Explosion

In this photo distributed by Astrakhan branch of the Ministry for Emergency Situations, Emergency Situations Ministry rescuers inspect debris of an apartment building after an explosion on Monday morning, Feb. 27, 2012, in Astrakhan, Russia. Such gas explosions are frequent in Russia. ASTRAKHAN BRANCH, MINISTRY OF EMERGENCY SITUATIONS PRESS SERVICE — AP Photo

MOSCOW — A section of a nine-story apartment building in a southern Russian city has collapsed in an explosion possibly caused by natural gas, injuring at least 12 people.

Rescue workers are searching through the rubble for more possible victims. Russian news agencies, citing emergency officials, say at least 11 people who lived in the building haven’t been accounted for.

The explosion occurred Monday in Astrakhan, 1300 kilometers (800 miles) southeast of Moscow.

The ITAR-Tass news agency quoted regional Investigative Committee spokeswoman Aanna Konyaeva as saying that the blast first blew out a lower section of the building. As people rushed to help, the upper six stories collapsed.

Suspect In Maj. Gen. Faisal Alvi Murder About To Walk Free, Witnesses Claim Amnesia

Renegade officer: ‘Al Qaeda hit-man’ may walk free as witnesses retract

LAHORE: Alleged al Qaeda member Major Haroon, accused of murder and kidnapping for ransom, may be released soon after most witnesses and complainants withdrew their testimonies.

Major Haroon quit the army in 2002 against what he called pro-American policies of General (retd) Pervez Musharraf. He then allegedly joined al Qaeda.

Fearing his release, the Sindh Home Department sent a letter to the home department of Punjab requesting that Haroon be transferred from Punjab to Sindh. Haroon is also accused of being involved in the kidnapping case of prominent businessman Satish Anand.

Haroon, along with two other co-accused, is presently imprisoned in Kot Lakhpat jail on charges of killing an administrator of Sheikh Zayed Hospital, Dr Abdul-Saboor Malik, in Lahore.

The men are being tried by the additional and sessions judge inside the prison because of the sensitivity of the matter, police and prosecution department’s sources told The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity.

Before being shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail, the three men were in Adiala Jail for their alleged involvement in the murders of Major General (retd) Ameer Faisal Alvi, his driver and a passer-by in 2008.  [SEE:  Tale of militants’ motivation and reach]

Sources familiar with the high-profile murders said armed men wanted to kidnap Dr Saboor for ransom and they killed him when he resisted. Similarly, Alvi was also gunned down by men who intercepted him for kidnapping.

The investigations of Saboor’s murder case reveal that the accused had been tasked to kidnap affluent people as al Qaeda was in dire need of money, sources added.

During a briefing in the Sindh Assembly last week on former prime minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder, Interior Minister Rehman Malik had confirmed Haroon’s contacts with al Qaeda.

In the initial stages of the investigation, Lahore police had registered a case against the accused on charges of kidnapping for ransom and murder of Saboor under Section 7 of Anti-Terrorism Act 1997 and some sections of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). However, the Lahore High Court later ordered that the ATA section be deleted. The court directed the investigation officer to investigate the case under the PPC and to submit a charge sheet before a lower court.

Published in The Express Tribune

Putin Assassination Plot Details Uncovered – State TV

Putin Assassination Plot Details Uncovered – State TV

MOSCOW, February 27 (RIA Novosti)

Ukrainian and Russian security services have gathered information about a plot to assassinate Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who is poised to be elected president on Sunday, the state-run Channel One reported on Monday.

The group of criminals involved were already on the international wanted list and were detained in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa in early January, after they survived an explosion in a rented apartment.

They had reportedly tried to produce a home-made explosive device. The two men were arrested, while a third man, who was also in the apartment, died during the explosion, the TV channel said.

According to the TV channel, after weeks of interrogation, the gang members confessed they were planning to assassinate Putin in Moscow, soon after the March 4 presidential elections.

One of the surviving militants, Ilya Pyanzin, said that the Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov, who is believed to be behind the deadliest terrorist attacks in Russia, hired him and the late Ruslan Madayev to kill Putin.

Pyanzin and Madayev came from the United Arab Emirates via Turkey to Ukraine. In Odessa, they were met by a local fixer, Adam Osmayev, who was supposed to brief the militants about the plan and send them to Moscow.

The TV report, featuring Osmayev ‘s interrogation, says that the militant, who had been on the international wanted list since 2007, is cooperating with investigators, as he hopes not to be extradited to Russia.

“The final task was to go to Moscow and carry out an assassination attempt on the premier Putin,” Osmayev said during questioning, adding that the late Madayev was ready to become a suicide bomber.

According to the assassination plan that was found in the militants’ laptop, they had to learn the structure of Putin’s security team and how his bodyguards worked, the TV report says.

“The deadline was set up for the period after the presidential elections,” Osmayev said.

Osmayev confessed that he scrutinized the routes of government corteges and that the preparation for the attack was in its final stage.

The TV report also said that the militants were going to use mines hidden along Moscow’s Kutuzovsky Avenue, which Putin passes every day on his way to the government building in downtown city.

An unknown security official told the TV channel that the mines were powerful enough to “tear apart a truck.”

Ukrainian Security Services confirmed the information released about the assassination plot.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, was not available for comment.

Putin, who served as president from 2000 to 2008, is expected to return to the Kremlin for a third, non-consecutive term in office in elections on March 4.

CENTCOM Wants You To Start Believing In “Turkmen” Terrorists

CentralAsiaOnline.com is a website sponsored by USCENTCOM

Turkmen terrorists are at war with the Pakistani security forces









After the death of at least 14 Turkmen militants in North Waziristan on February 16 the presence of the Central Asian militants in Pakistani border regions became obvious.

In North Waziristan killed twenty-one gunman, 14 of them, according to the government, the Turkmens.

In previous operations, the authorities have established individual four foreign militants killed Jan. 23 in an air strike on the village of Degan, Miranshah (North Waziristan) – they, too, were Turkmen, reported centralasiaonline.com.


U.S. Drug War Turns to Transnational Combat

U.S. Drug War Turns to Transnational Combat

TransBorder Project Policy Report

U.S. Drug War Turns to Transnational Combat

·         No Strategic Planning in Obama’s New Security/Crime Strategy

·         Policies Driving Transnational Crime Remain Unquestioned

·         Combating TOC Latest Phase in U.S. Drug War

·         Prioritizing American Power

The Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime, released in late July by the White House, offers the strategic context for the increasing rhetorical focus of the Obama administration on “transnational crime,” “transnational threats,” and “transnational criminal organizations.” Over the past two years, administration and military officials have increasingly referred to the security threat of transnational organized crime – at home, along the border, and in Mexico and Central America.

The transnational rhetoric is a bit of a throwback to the mid-1990s.  In the wake of the Cold War and at the onset of the era of economic globalization, the Clinton administration, the U.S. military, and the nongovernmental policy community joined a new chorus in Washington warning about the rise of nontraditional security threats.

Not since 1995 has the U.S. government undertaken a comprehensive assessment of the threat of transnational organized crime.

Transition from War to Transnational Combat

The Obama administration, in its National Security Strategy (2010), began reframing security to include such nontraditional transnational threats and challenges as climate change, pandemics, and organized crime. Its new Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime expands this policy thinking about transnational threats.

As was the practice of the Clinton administration, the Obama administration repeatedly emphasizes the need “international cooperation” – a marked change from the aggressive unilateralism of the George W. Bush administration. In a letter introducing the strategy, President Obama commits the U.S. government to “building a new framework for international cooperation” to combat transnational organized crime.

Also notable have been the attempts of the two Democratic administrations to define national security challenges outside the context of war – the end of the Cold War in Clinton’s case, and the rejection of Bush’s “global war on terrorism” in the case of Obama.

Liberal critics of conservative nationalism and proponents of liberal internationalism have welcomed these rhetorical transitions from military-based concepts of national security to more a more holistic framing of security challenges.

Questionable Factual and Historical Foundations

A review of the White House’s new strategy to combat transnational organized crime (TOC) raises questions about its factual and conceptual foundations.

Questions also need to be asked about the implications of the strategy for domestic and foreign security operations.

In the course of the last couple of years, when discussing the border and Mexico, officials from the U.S. military, Homeland Security, and Justice Department have been warning about  “transnational criminal organizations,” “ transnational crime,”  and “transnational threats” without defining them.

The new strategy statement helpfully addresses this failure to define terms by introducing the concept of transnational organized crime and defining it as:

Transnational organized crime refers to those self-perpetuating associations of individuals who operate transnationally for the purpose of obtaining power, influence, monetary and/or commercial gains, wholly or in part by illegal means, while protecting their activities through a pattern of corruption and/or violence, or while protecting their illegal activities through a transnational organizational structure and the exploitation of transnational commerce or communication mechanisms. There is no single structure under which transnational organized criminals operate; they vary from hierarchies to clans, networks, and cells, and may evolve to other structures.

In a statement accompanying the release of the new TOC strategy, President Obama links the purported rise of the transnational crime threat since the mid-1990s to the onset of “technological innovation and globalization.”

According to the president:

Transnational criminal organizations have taken advantage of our increasingly interconnected world to expand their illicit enterprises. Criminal networks are not only expanding their operations, but they are also diversifying their activities, resulting in a convergence of transnational threats that has evolved to become more complex, volatile, and destabilizing.

In the strategy statement, the White House asserts that since 1995 transnational organized crime “has expanded dramatically in size, scope, and influence and that it poses a significant threat to national and international security.”

But how do we know this to be true?

The White House doesn’t bother in this strategy statement or anywhere else to back this assertion about the causal link between globalization and transnational crime with statistics or other supporting documentation.

Intuitively, one can easily accept the assertion that transnational crime (and what scholars refer to as “illicit globalization”) leverages the new instruments of the global economy – communications technology, rapid financial exchange, and free trade agreements – to expand its size, scope, and influence.

But any assessment about the rise of transnational organized crime in the age of globalization must also consider the steady decline in the national protections in the form of tariffs and quotas that historically have formed the breeding ground of international smuggling. As trade barriers fade, the province of transnational crime is more proscribed.

The TOC strategy statement regards the alleged rise in transnational crime as a function largely of globalization. Left completely unexamined is the role of government itself in the breeding of transnational crime and illicit globalization.

Today, probably more than ever in history, transnational crime is directly linked to national and international policies that prohibit or severely restrict commerce in certain goods and services — mainly drugs, migrant labor, sexual services, and weapons.

Increased global trade and communications can and does facilitate illicit globalization. But illicit global trade is hardly a new phenomenon; it has long held a central place in international relations.

In the era of mercantilism and colonialism, the trade in goods from competing colonial power suffused the global economy in the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Traffickers in illegal goods were known as “free traders.”

Globalization has certainly limited the scope of national sovereignty. But rarely in history have international borders and commerce been effectively controlled by national governments.

In “Illicit Globalization: Myths, Misconceptions, and Historical Lessons,” a forthcoming essay in the fall issue of Political Science Quarterly, border scholar Peter Andreas reminds us that during the 18th century “Britain eventually built up a sizeable coast guard force in response to rampant smuggling, but the most-important factor curtailing smuggling was the emergence of free trade in the nineteenth century, undermining much of the incentive to smuggle.”

Strategy without Strategic Planning

In its much-heralded new strategy to combat TOC, the White House offers 56 “priority actions.”  Yet all the promised actions are either replicas or echoes of existing policy.

Nowhere in the TOC strategy is there any reflection about the policy environment in which transnational crime breeds. Instead of any evaluation of policy reforms that might staunch transnational crime, the TOC strategy resorts to the traditional hard line — stressing the need for more and better coordinated law enforcement, border security, and intelligence operations.

It’s a strategy that is a synthesis of existing law enforcement imperatives rather than a serious initiative. It’s a strategy formulated, apparently, without strategic planning.


The Obama administration states that drug trafficking and transnational crime are closely intertwined. It notes, for example, that the “demand for illegal drugs within the United States fuels a significant share of the global drug trade, which is a primary funding source for TOC networks and a key source of revenue for some terrorist and insurgent networks.”

Yet there is no evaluation or defense of the drug prohibition policies that drive this illegal trafficking and associated crime.

Immigration and Border Security

Similarly, the White House expresses its determination to crack down on human smuggling but without any assessment of the policies – such as increasingly strict immigration policies and the border-security operations – that have dramatically increased the role of criminal networks in illegal immigration and illegal border crossings.


As part of its new professions of “shared responsibility,” the Obama administration vows to crack down on illegal arms flows to Mexico and other countries. Yet this commitment remains disconnected from other U.S. government policies that encourage U.S. arms production and export and that make weapons readily available.


The White House is rightly concerned with the international trafficking of women who are forced to labor as sex slaves. This traffic is the life blood of many organized crime organizations, both domestic and international. Yet the legalization and regulation of consensual sex services would go a long way to erode criminal networks that profit from the sale of sex, allowing the government to focus its crime fighting on sex slavery and concentrate its regulatory powers on improving associated public health and labor standards.

Strategic Fallacies

Aside from the core failure to address the policy origins of transnational crime, the White House’s new TOC strategy suffers from three fundamental strategic fallacies, particularly as the strategy relates to the border and Latin America.

1. Exercise of Power, Absence of Reason

President Obama vows to “integrate the tools of American power to combat transnational organized crime and related threats to our national security – and to urge our partners to do the same.” In essence, it’s a showdown where American power faces the emerging power of transnational crime.

The White House intends to win this contest, stating that it will deploy “all elements of national power to protect citizens and U.S. national security interests from the convergence of 21st century transnational criminal threats.”

The strategy isn’t exactly a declaration of war, yet President Obama describes the strategy as fundamental to U.S. national security. The White House states that it will “identify those TOC networks that present a sufficiently high national security risk and will ensure the coordination of all elements of national power to combat them.”

Construed as a power contest, the U.S. and its unnamed partners are certain to lose this match-up — just as it continues losing the four-decade long war on drugs despite its massive expenditures and routine exercises of the raw power of the U.S. military and law enforcement apparatus.

Without the profits from the illegal drug trade, the “economic power” of TOC would soon fade.

No matter how power America mobilizes to combat transnational crime, the power of the market and human desire will prevail.

A strategy directed by common sense rather power would likely be more successful in undermining transnational criminal networks and draining their economic power. A more reasonable strategy would not only acknowledge the centrality of drug trafficking in TOC but also take steps to break the cycle of illegality and criminality that besets the illegal drug trade.

Reason also dictates that the Obama administration start exposing the myths propagated by the drug war, including the myth that all illegal drug use leads to addiction; that all illegal drugs damage mind and body; that drugs now categorized as illegal are more dangerous than legal drugs; and that the despite the large variety of illegal drugs, they are more alike than different in their immediate effects and long-term consequences.

By addressing international drug trafficking and related transnational crime primarily with instruments of American power rather than with eminently reasonable policy reforms, the Obama administration is empowering not dismantling TOC.

2. Combating TOC with a Drug Free America

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 led to the creation of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy and created the institutional and legislative foundation for the U.S. to wage a multi-front drug war whose declared goal was a “Drug Free America.” Although the U.S. counternarcotics strategy no longer frames its mission in such ambitious (and delusionary) terms, there remains the conviction that illegal drug consumption can be successively reduced and even eliminated if we muster the needed collective and individual resolve.

When launched, the U.S. drug war during the Nixon administration was framed mostly a moral crusade to purify the country of the deleterious consumption habits of the counterculture and ethnic minorities. Since then a national security imperative has been coupled with the moral imperative against drugs — as first articulated in a national security directive issued by the Reagan administration in 1986.

The Obama administration, while distancing itself from the “drug war” rhetoric, has left unquestioned the basic tenets of the drug war, including the following: that drug flows constitute a threat to U.S. national security; that the proper combination of law enforcement, education, and treatment can significantly reduce demand; and that illegal drugs are equally pernicious and dangerous.

There’s no doubt that U.S. drug demand energizes the global drug market. But the corollary of this thesis — as articulated by the Obama administration in the TOC strategy and elsewhere — that holds that the U.S. has a “shared responsibility” in drug-related violence outside its borders is fundamentally flawed.

U.S. responsibility lies not primarily, as the strategy asserts, in the U.S. demand for illegal drugs. The consumption of marijuana (the most profitable part of the transnational drug trade) and other illegal drugs is not an inherently an illegal or harmful practice. Rather than blaming drug consumers, the Obama administration would do better to attribute the responsibility for drug-related crime and violence to the U.S. government’s senseless drug prohibition policies.

America will never be drug free no matter how many drug wars are waged and no matter how many drug education campaigns are launched.

3. Transnational Security

The power and violence of drug trafficking organizations do have serious implications for governance and national security. Clearly, this is the case in Central America, where Mexican DTOs have increased operations during the past few years, and also in Mexico itself, where various regions are controlled by DTOs and related gangs, making governance impossible.

In the face of TOC, the National Security Strategy commits the U.S. government and military to “devise and execute a collective strategy with other nations facing the same threats.”

Echoing that collective vision of security, the White House’s Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime outlines a series of priority actions aimed to downgrade the security threat from TOC to a public safety threat. The White House says it seeks an “end-state” in which TOC is reduced “from a national security threat to a manageable public safety problem in the United States and in strategic regions around the world.”

The concept of collective security sketched out in the Obama administration’s national security strategy and its TOC strategy represents a transition away from a U.S.-centric view of national security. At first glance, it appears to constitute a clear advance in security thinking in the 21st century. After all, in an increasingly interconnected world, a threat to the security of one country or region can quickly become a more generalized security threat.

But there are dangers lurking behind this embrace of collective transnational security.

The lack of distinction between the perceived threats to U.S. national security and other nations leads to blurred policy and strategy.  The first obligation of a U.S. security strategy is to address real security threats to the United States. Neither in the overall national security strategy nor in the TOC strategy does the Obama administration make a convincing case that drug trafficking organizations constitute a threat to U.S. security. By stipulating TOC – which is overwhelming drug trafficking – as a U.S. security threat, the Obama White House recklessly creates a foundation for an array of military and other national security operations to combat this alleged threat.

Clearly, DTOs are more than just a public safety concern in Mexico and Central America. The countries of the region do have legitimate concerns that their very security is threatened by the economic power and the fire power of the DTOs. But this is not case in the United States, where in no substantial way does the drug trade threaten governance and security.

A more credible, less alarmist strategy to address drug trafficking and other transnational crime take more care in articulating how and under what conditions crime rises to the level of a security threat.

Bureaucratic Shuffle

The Obama administration is blessedly free of the alarmism and fear-mongering that led the country into the two major wars and military occupations during the Bush administration. However, the Obama administration’s newly expressed determination to combat the rise of transnational crime suffers from the same type of exaggerations, moral imperatives, factual deficits, and ahistorical threat assessments that fueled Bush’s misbegotten global war on terrorism.

Dressing up the drug war in the framework of transnational threats and international cooperation represents a failure of vision. The Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime is simply another bureaucratic shuffle and makes a mockery of the administration’s declared commitment to “shared responsibility” for the drug-related crime and violence roiling Mexico and Central America.


Tom Barry directs the TransBorder Project of the Center for International Policy and is the author of Border Wars, forthcoming in October from MIT Press.

CIS Experts Meet In Minsk To Coordinate Emergency Response Measures

CIS experts to discuss a draft agreement on cooperation in emergency response

Victoria Naumova

Expert Group Meeting to finalize and agree to a draft agreement on cooperation of CIS member states in carrying out joint activities on liquidation of emergency situations and their consequences will be held in Minsk on February 28-29.

As the press service of the CIS Executive Committee, the impetus for the emergence of this agreement was the situation with regard to wildfires in the territory of the Russian Federation in the summer of 2010 when a fire ravaged an area exceeding 500 hectares. Fires were completely or partially destroyed 127 settlements, killing more than 50 people. These losses could be much higher if the aid of the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations have not reached their counterparts from other countries, including from the CIS states. For instance, offered its assistance to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine.

“Fires in Russia have shown inadequate legal framework for cooperation in emergency situations, primarily on the organization of movement and employment of forces and means on the territory of the injured party. To fill this gap and developed a draft agreement on cooperation in joint measures on liquidation of emergency situations and their consequences, “- said the press service.

According to the press service of the CIS Executive Committee, the document identifies the main forms of interaction, organization, conduct and completion of such activities, the legal status of their participants. It is planned that after the finalization of the draft agreement will be experts in the prescribed manner introduced by the Council of CIS Heads of State.

The source said that the strengthening of cooperation in the environmental field, the prevention of emergencies and natural disasters, strengthening joint efforts to prevent and combat natural and man-made disasters included the CIS Development Concept and Plan for its implementation.

“It is obvious that the security environment – one of those global problems that can not be solved by one state, as it requires concerted action by several countries on both the local and regional and global levels – said the press office. – According to world statistics, the number of natural hazard emergencies is increasing annually by an average of 4%, and the economic losses caused by them – by 10.4%. However, when a timely warning and taking the necessary measures in the loss of economy can be reduced to 40%, and in some cases prevent loss of life. ”

Pakistan Bans Interviews with Baloch Sardar Troublemakers, Calling Them Sedition

‘Press Advice’: PEMRA warns ‘seditious’ media

PEMRA warns 7 major news networks against airing of ‘disgruntled Baloch sardars’ without editorial control.

LAHORE: On one hand, the government is announcing amnesty offers to Baloch dissident leaders – while, on the other, it is warning the media not to air the sentiments of those very leaders.

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (Pemra) has warned seven major news networks against airing interviews of “disgruntled Baloch sardars” without editorial control, which, according to the authority, amounts to sedition.

A press advice issued by the authority on Saturday stated that the channels’ licenses could be revoked if “programmes detrimental to Pakistan’s existence or may incite hatred and violence against country” continued to air.

The advice was issued in the backdrop of recent TV talk shows in which exiled Baloch leaders, such as Brahmdagh Bugti and Hyrbyiar Marri, expressed their views on the Balochistan issue.

The advice stated: “In the garb of highlighting Balochistan issue, the interviews of disgruntled Baloch sardars are being aired by all major news channels without any profanity delay or editorial control.”

“The discussions not only amount to sedition but are also against explicit provisions of Rule 15 (1) of Pemra Rules 2009,” it added.

Pemra spokesman and general manager Fakhruddin Mughal denied that the advice was reminiscent of the dictatorships of General Ziaul Haq and General Pervez Musharraf. “These programmes look like they were recorded in Washington or Delhi and the anchor persons are some foreign agents,” said the Pemra spokesman.

“The views of people like Brahmdagh Bugti and Hyrbyiar Marri were not opinions rather they were abuses for our state and this behaviour of TV channels could not be tolerated,” he added.

He went on to warn that the license of the channels could be revoked or they could be slapped with a heavy fine.

“The owners of these TV channels just shrugged off our advice. But we are going to issue another notice to a TV channel that is propagating against Pemra on this issue,” said the Pemra spokesman.

‘Pemra not sole custodian of national interest’

However, the TV networks’ operational staff was defiant in the face of the fresh warnings. “This is not the first time Pemra is using arm-twisting tactics and trying to bully the media; but they must realise that people must know all shades of opinion,” a news executive of one of the private TV channels said on condition of anonymity.

“This is not the time of press advices and regulatory bodies having their will imposed on the private media. Pemra is not the sole custodian of national interest. Let the people watch and decide what is in favour of the country and what is not.”

He further added, “In the presence of huge government PR machinery in the form of the ministry of information and the PID, a regulatory body armed with a revoking clause is just too much”.

No harm in ‘request’, says Awan

Meanwhile, despite the warning, Minister for Information and Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan played down the Pemra warning, saying that there was no harm if the media is requested to ensure balance.

According to a statement, Awan said that the government does not “intend to curb media freedom, as democracy and media independence go hand in hand”.

Democracy without media freedom cannot flourish, she added.

The minister further said that the Pakistan Peoples Party strongly believes in freedom of expression and media but the freedom must be coupled with responsibility and in conformity with societal norms.

The credit of lifting curbs on media imposed by the previous dictatorial regime goes to the present government, she said. Awan further said that Pemra has always framed laws to facilitate media, not put curbs on media freedom.  She further said that there is no harm if the request is made to media to preserve the sanctity of religions, any sect, ethical values, morality and decency. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM APP)

Published in The Express Tribune

Balochistan–“The killings will stop when one side or the other is weakened.”

“The killings will stop when one side or the other is weakened. Either the state or the insurgents will have to be weakened.”

Balochistan, the unattributable story

THE more insightful snippets on Balochistan tend to be unattributable.

“If the Baloch got independence, on the first day we’d pick up a bottle of whisky and drink ourselves silly. Then on the second day we’d nurse our hangovers. And on the third day, we’d put the bottle aside, pick up our guns and start killing
one another.”

“There are only two great martial races in this part of the world: the Pakhtuns and the Rajputs. These Baloch think they are great fighters; in my village, a thousand better fighters are born every year. We know how to deal with them.”

“After a return from a stint in exile, he turned to one of his tribesmen and said, ‘So looks like you’ve been enjoying yourself since I’ve been away.’ The man had married twice in his leader’s absence. Ashamed, the man went home and shot both his wives.

That’s the mindset. Can anyone really talk about what ‘the Baloch population’ wants?”

So much has been written and said about Balochistan in recent weeks. Genocide. The break up of Pakistan. A pig-headed establishment. Baloch separatists pursuing self-interest in the name of the Baloch people.

Few, though, have shed light on what the folks who are guiding the state’s policy on Balochistan are thinking. So here goes, a Q&A with the unattributable, who either are doing or know those who are doing.

Is the spate of publicity causing a rethink of the Balochistan policy?

“Over the weekend, they released six or eight people. One of the released was of particular value to them. Maybe this is a nod to the pressure from the media and the political chatter. But probably nothing will change. It could just be a way of showing that they aren’t driving this, that [insurgent] violence will continue and then in a few weeks they can go back to their same tactics.”

So nothing will change?

“Nothing will change. People keep saying that the policy [kill and dump] isn’t working but that opinion isn’t shared by everyone.

There haven’t been any settler killings in 11 months in and around Quetta. Even in the so-called non-tribal belt, the insurgents have been pushed out of the cities and into the hills.”

Dozens of FC personnel have been killed in the last couple of months and insurgent attacks are up. Kill-and-dump isn’t working, is it?

“They’ve gone through about 300 names. They think there are 1,300 more. It may take another couple of years, but they’ll probably get them all.”

“It’s not because the strategy isn’t working but because it isn’t being implemented. The areas in which the violence is up are under the control of the FC. But when they [the insurgents] run into the hills, the FC doesn’t pursue them. The FC thinks that if they go into the hills, search for the hideouts, it will be called a military operation and they want to avoid that label.”

The killing of Pakhtuns by the Baloch insurgents is a new trend that is emerging. What’s behind that?

“They kill the poor labourers working on road and development projects because they say they don’t want any development in their areas, that they will develop the areas themselves after they’ve gained independence.”

“The FC in Balochistan is predominantly drawn from the Pakhtuns, so they’ve started to kill them as a way of lashing out against the FC. It’s a dangerous move, though. The ethnic map of Balochistan has changed dramatically in the last 30 years. The Pakhtuns already talk of joining Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.”

The Baloch moderates’ boycott of the last election created a leadership vacuum in the province, analysts suggest. At the next general election, will the moderates be able to come to power?

“If the sarkar allows it, there should be a sizeable presence in the Balochistan Assembly.”

Why would the sarkar, aka the establishment, want to keep moderates out of power when the establishment itself bemoans the absence of a credible Baloch political leadership?“They prefer people who are amenable to their demands. They bring them
from the most obscure imaginable backgrounds and install them in power because then they can control them.”

What does the security establishment think of the publicity that the insurgents are getting?

“Nowhere in the world does anyone advocating for the forcible secession of a part of a country get the kind of airtime these sardars are getting. It’s ridiculous and the media really ought to think about what they’re doing. A case for sedition could be
made out.”

“Actually, it’s helped expose these guys [the insurgents]. They’re openly talking about wanting to break away from Pakistan and unintentionally the media has exposed them for what they are: people who are against Pakistan. Maybe some of the sympathy
for them will drain away when people hear what they really stand for.”

Is there anything that can be done to try and convince, non-violently, the Baloch separatists to end their insurgency?

“There is one thing: apologise for the killing of Akbar Bugti and say that it wasn’t the action of the Pakistan Army at large but of an individual. But they won’t do that.”

Hasn’t the state itself created many of the problems it is fighting today?

“The sardars have been lured in and out of power for decades. Everyone knows those games.”

“Allah Nazar [the most well-known of the ‘non-tribal’ insurgents] probably turned during his last spell in prison. The things they probably did to him … it hardened him.”

One last time, is there an end to the violence in sight?

“The killings will stop when one side or the other is weakened. Either the state or the insurgents will have to be weakened.”

No points for guessing which side the state thinks will be weakened first.

If all of this sounds rather grim, that’s Balochistan, the land where the intellectually barren fight in the name of ideas on the backs of a wretched people.

Nato pulls out of Afghan ministries after Kabul attack

Nato pulls out of Afghan ministries after Kabul attack

Scene close to Afghan interior ministry, 25 Feb 2012
Any attacker would have had the highest clearance

Nato has withdrawn all its personnel from Afghan ministries after two senior US officers were shot dead in the interior ministry building in Kabul.

Nato said an “individual” had turned his gun on the officers, believed to be a colonel and major, and had not yet been identified or caught.

Nato commander Gen John Allen condemned the attack as “cowardly”.

The shootings come amid five days of deadly protests over the burning of copies of the Koran by US soldiers.

Taliban statement

The interior ministry was put in lock-down after the shootings, officials said.

The BBC’s Orla Guerin in Kabul says eight shots were reported inside the building, which should be one of the safest in the capital, and that any Afghan who carried out the attack would have had the highest clearance.

Local media reports said the gunman was an Afghan policeman but this has not been confirmed.

The reports suggest the incident followed a “verbal clash”.

Gen Allen said he condemned the attack, adding: “We will pursue all leads to find the person responsible. The perpetrator of this attack is a coward whose actions will not go unanswered.”

He said: “For obvious force protection reasons, I have also taken immediate measures to recall all other Isaf personnel working in ministries in and around Kabul.”

But Gen Allen added: “We are committed to our partnership with the government of Afghanistan to reach our common goal of a peaceful, stable and secure Afghanistan in the near future.”

The UK Foreign Office confirmed it had “withdrawn civilian mentors and advisers from institutions in the city as a temporary measure”.

Isaf spokesman Brig Gen Carsten Jacobson said that Nato could not yet reveal the identity of those killed.

He also said: “We cannot confirm where the killer came from, what his nationality was, whether he was in uniform or not, all these questions are not known.”

Early reports suggest the two officers were shot in the ministry’s command and control centre.

The BBC’s Bilal Sarwary in Kabul says this is where representatives of 34 provinces meet to plan security.

He quotes sources as saying that Interior Minister Bismullah Khan was having a meeting with senior Western officials elsewhere in the building when the shooting took place.

The Taliban said in a website statement that it carried out the attack in response to the Koran burnings.

But Gen Jacobson would not be drawn on any link to the protests.

He said: “We have seen an emotional week, we have seen a busy week – but it would be too early to say this incident was linked.”

He added: “It is very regretful to see the loss of life again on this day, and that includes the loss of life that we have seen around demonstrations.”

Obama apology

Angry protests over the burning of the Korans continued on Saturday, with a UN compound in the city of Kunduz set alight.

BBC’s Orla Guerin: “People demand tough action against US troops”

Four people were killed and dozens injured in clashes in the city, according to local doctors. Three more people were killed in the southern province of Logar.

The governor’s house in Laghman province also came under attack on Saturday and there were demonstrations in Paktia, Nangarhar and Sari Pul provinces.

Nearly 30 people have died since the protests began on Tuesday.

US personnel apparently inadvertently put the books into a rubbish incinerator at Bagram air base, near Kabul.

US President Barack Obama has apologised for the Koran-burning incident.

In a letter to his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai, Mr Obama said the books had been “unintentionally mishandled”.

Muslims consider the Koran the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence.

Russian Foreign Minister Warns Against US Using Manas Air Base To Bomb Iran

Russia Wants Stability in Central Asia – Medvedev

Dmitry Medvedev and Almazbek Atambayev

Dmitry Medvedev and Almazbek Atambayev

© RIA Novosti. Mikhail Klimentyev

GORKI (Moscow region), February 24 (RIA Novosti)

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who is holding talks with his Kyrgyz counterpart Almazbek Atambayev on Friday, said that stability in Central Asian countries was of utmost importance for Russia amid growing pressure onSyria and Iran near the region.

“The number of processes that are being developed in the Middle East, around Syria and Iran, have a direct influence on the situation in our region [Central Asia],” Medvedev said, adding that Russia must cooperate closely with its partners in the region to ensure stability.

Medvedev also said that he had discussed economic cooperation with his Kyrgyz counterpart.

Atambayev, who is on his first official visit to Russia since he was inaugurated in December, earlier told the Kyrgyz Kabar news agency that he would ask Russia to pay off its debts for leasing Kyrgyz military facilities, including four military bases, torpedo testing facility, military communication center and a radio seismic laboratory.

According to the Kyrgyz Defense Ministry, Russia holds a $15-million debt before Kyrgyzstan for leasing its military facilities.

It is not clear yet whether the presidents have discussed Russia’s debt to Kyrgyzstan.

The United States, which also has a military base, Manas, near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, pays around $150 million every year without any delays, Kabar reported on Friday.

Prior to Atambayev’s visit to Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Wednesday that Moscow feared that the Manas base may be used in a military conflict against Iran because of its proximity to the Islamic Republic (the distance between Bishkek and Tehran is about 1,300 miles). U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul dismissed the statement.

Kyrgyzstan is the only country that hosts both Russian and the U.S. military bases.

Fictitious Militant Group Again Takes Credit for Attack Upon Another Peshawar Police Station

[This shady newcomer group is credited with destroying the Pearl Continental Hotel In Peshawar in 2009, destroying a known CIA meeting place.  They are tied to the Baitullah Mehsud terrorists and take claim for many of the murders also claimed by TTP.  They are more than likely a generic label, used to cover acts of irregular warfare by legitimate outside Special Forces, as well as actions by the Pak ISI.]

Suicide attack on Peshawar police station leaves four dead

Policemen take position during a militant attack on a police station in Peshawar on February 24, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR: In yet another brazen militant attack on a police station, three suicide bombers killed four policemen and injured another six during early hours of Friday.

Three suicide bombers barged into the C-Division police station (Kotwali Police Station), which is located in the heart of Peshawar city in a congested locality, with the intention of taking over.

The Abdullah Azzam Brigade has claimed responsibility for the attack. Spokesman Abu Zarar Said, speaking from an unknown location, said that the attack was a reaction to the killing of a top militant leader, Badar Mansoor, in a drone strike in Waziristan.

Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Imtiaz Altaf told reporters that the militants hurled hand grenades at the security men on the gates which triggered a crossfire.

He added that the policemen promptly responded to the attack and the bombers had “no other option left but to explode themselves.”

CCPO Altaf term the incident as a “backlash against the operations carried out by the security forces on the militant havens.”

The Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) spokesperson told The Express Tribune that eight injured were brought to the hospital, out of which two expired at the hospital.

The deceased were identified as Sub-Inspector Munawar, ASI Dawai and Constable Falak Naz.

MS LRH Rahim Jan Afridi told The Express Tribune that the condition of two of the injured admitted at the hospital is crticial.

Residents of the area told The Express Tribune that they had heard three minor blasts followed by a huge explosion. Immediately after the incident, intense firing engulfed the area and after sometime two major explosions took place.

The C-Division police station is one of the largest in the city. Home to hundreds of new recruits, it not only serves as barracks for the police personnel but also has an office of the Special Branch and other police officers including the residential quarters of the police attached to it.

The attack on the police station comes only a day after a car bomb attack left 13 dead and 37 injured at a bus stand on Kohat Road in Peshawar.

One injured in blast near Ring Road

In a separate incident, one person was injured when a bomb went off in the Afridi Garh area near Ring Road.

Initial reports stated that the bomb had been planted on the roadside near a police picket and had been detonated using a remote control.

Rescue officials and the Bomb Disposal Squad were dispatched to the site immediately after the incident.

The injured was shifted to Lady Reading Hospital.

Manmohan Charges Western NGOs Unduly Influence Unthinking Classes To Fear Nuke Power and GM Food

Manmohan criticises NGOs for protests in Kudankulam


“The thinking segment of our population certainly is supportive of nuclear energy,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said expressing displeasure over protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. File photo
The Hindu“The thinking segment of our population certainly is supportive of nuclear energy,” Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said expressing displeasure over protests against the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project. File photo

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has criticised non-governmental organisations that receive support from abroad for stalling the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and leading protests against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.

In an interview published in the latest issue of journal Science, Dr. Singh pointed to the potential of biotechnology, saying “in due course of time we must make use of genetic engineering technologies to increase the productivity of our agriculture.”

But controversies had arisen. “There are NGOs, often funded from the United States and the Scandinavian countries, which are not fully appreciative of the development challenges that our country faces.”

Then, referring to the protests at Kudankulam, he said: “the atomic energy programme has got into difficulties because these NGOs, mostly I think based in the United States, don’t appreciate need for our country to increase the energy supply.”

Asked whether nuclear power had a role in India despite the Fukushima disaster in Japan, he said, “Yes, where India is concerned, yes. The thinking segment of our population certainly is supportive of nuclear energy.”

On investment in R&D, he reiterated the view that such spending should be raised from about 1per cent of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) to about 2 per cent. Public sector spending on research as a proportion of the GDP was “roughly the same” as that of other developing countries. “It is the private sector in our country which has to do a lot more.”

Over the next five years, the effort would be to gradually increase the proportion of money spent on R&D and at the same time “create a system of incentives which will induce the private sector to increase their spending on science and technology.”

To a question whether India was competing with China, he said the two countries were at a stage of development where both had to compete and cooperate.

Toll mounts to 17 as Quran protests turn violent

Toll mounts to 17 as Quran protests turn violent

by Pajhwok Report

KABUL (PAN): At least 17 people, including two US soldiers, have been killed in clashes between security forces and demonstrators during violent nationwide protests against the alleged desecration of the Quran by US troops, officials and witnesses said on Thursday.

Two US soldiers and as many Afghan civilians were killed when a protest turned violent in eastern Nangarhar province on Thursday, officials said. Elsewhere, a civilian was shot dead and three others were wounded during a similar protest in neighbouring Laghman.

A day earlier, at least eight people were killed in a string of demonstrations across the country. The widespread protests continued for a third consecutive day against the torching of four copies of the holy book.

In the latest protests, furious residents clashed with US troops in the Khogyani district of Nangarhar and as a result two protestors and as many soldiers were killed, local official Ghulam-ud-Din Munib told Pajhwok Afghan News. The clash broke out after protestors were stopped from entering a US military base in the area.

But district chief Haji Muhammad Hassan said only one protester was killed and nine others, including two US soldiers, were injured in the incident.

Elsewhere in the province, two people, including a 12-year-old boy, were injured when Afghan forces fire into the air to disperse them in Batikot district.  Haji Zalmay, the district chief, said Afghan forces opened fire in retaliation for rock throwing by the protestors.  The Torkham-Jalalabad highway was reopened at 12pm after being closed for two hours.

The protestors in Laghman wanted to storm a base of Afghan soldiers, who fired into the air after the angry mob started pelting stones at them, said Ahmad Zia, a participant.

Public Health Director Dr Abdul Latif Qayumi confirmed two injured people had been brought to the Jalalabad Civil Hospital. However, he would not comment on their health condition.

In Dehrawud district of central Uruzgan province, officials said militants who penetrated the protest opened fired at police. Three protestors were killed and another 12 people, including five ANA soldiers and two policemen, were injured in the crossfire, said police spokesman Farid Ayal.

Meanwhile, one policeman was killed and four protestors were wounded during an anti-US protest in the Baghlan-i-Markazi district of northern Baghlan province. A dead body and four injured people, including two policemen, were brought to the district clinic, Director Dr. Qahir Qanit told Pajhwok Afghan News.

“People were marching from the old city to the new when police opened fire on them,” witness Ahmad alleged. In response, the demonstrators hurled stones at police and hit them with sticks, killing one policeman and injuring two others. The Kunduz-Baghlan highway remained blocked for quite some time.


Enlightening Fergana.ru Interview With Tajik Patriot Dodojon Atovulloyev

“His family owned today by all major enterprises of the republic, therefore, as explained Dodojon Atovulloyev, “in the country, no thieves, no racket – their function is completely monopolized the family. Tajikistan is nearly divided between the offspring of Rahmon .”

Emomali Rahmon warned explosions

Last weekend in Dushanbe explosions. One of them came late in the evening of July 25 near the Capital Airport, the second – after five hours at the presidential palace next to the hotel “Tajikistan”.There were no injuries – a tree fell and was damaged standing beside the car. Dushanbe explosions rang out loud after the events in eastern Tajikistan, in Tavildara. There, during a special operation by Tajik authorities against anti-government forces had killed a Tajik former minister and several gunmen, who were Russian citizens. That is happening in Tajikistan, the browser “News Time” said Arkady Dubnov famous Tajik politician and journalist, leader of the socio-political movement “Vatandor” Dodojon Atovulloyev. 

– In Dushanbe, explosions are heard again, who is behind them?

– This beginning of the disaster Emomali Rakhmonov regime. This is a warning that if he does not resign voluntarily, it will be forced to do so by force. The opposition lost the hope to change it by democratic means, in response to the violence of the regime rahmonovskogo their own people to him, too, can be applied violence.Unfortunately, the peace talks with Rahmon no one believes – every time they finish a trap for his opponents. Another evidence that the recent murder by government forces in Tavildara ex-Minister of Emergency Situations, the former commander of the armed forces of the opposition Mirzo Ziyoyev, acts as an intermediary between the authorities and the opposition. – According to one of the official versions, the explosions – the handiwork of militants’ Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan “( IMU) … – This is an absolute lie. The main enemy of the IMU are the Uzbek authorities. And even if we assume that IMU fighters still remain in Tajikistan, all of them have long been working on the Tajik security services. These militants, as well as many other issues of relations between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, in charge of the First Deputy Minister of National Security Abdullo Nazarov, former field commander of the Tajik opposition. – Then who gave those explosions? – I am more than confident that they were themselves Tajiks – – those who are dissatisfied with the current situation in the country. And they give to know that they are willing to take decisive action. – You think it was the rebels stationed in Tavildara? – if not they themselves, those who sympathized with them. They tend to confusion in the power structures, to distract the government forces of Tavildara. I think that in the near future, such “warning” will be made in other parts of the country. – It is said that the explosions were timed to a forthcoming visit to Dushanbe, the presidents of Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan – to show them the weakness of the current Tajik regime. .. – This is not true. The Tajiks have long come to believe that their problems do not care about anyone, and only they can change the power in the country and change their lives. In Tajikistan, a new resistance. And I will not hide the fact that we maintain relationships with many of those who are now in Tavildara. I know exactly what they are not against Russia or America, or Uzbekistan or any other country. They only have one enemy – it’s Rahmon and his regime. – It’s a coincidence that as a result of Sunday’s blasts were no injuries? – Maybe it blasphemous to say so, but it talks about humanity explosives. Can you imagine what would happen if the explosions were heard in public places during the day … – Who can guarantee that this “humanism” will remain in force? – None. However, I can say that we created a couple of years ago, the movement “Vatandor” (“The Patriot”) is today as a dam holding back an avalanche of more military pressure on the regime rahmonovsky. – At one time it was considered a pillar of Kulyab clan, because he was born Emomali Rahmon Kulyab region of … – This is not so long ago. Rather, it was possible to talk about Dangara clan (Dangara Kulyab region – home town of Rahmon. – Ed. ), but it is not. Support mode – Rahmon’s family, literally. The Tajik economy is today – the president is a family business, so there is no no thieves, no racket, their function is completely monopolized by his family. Tajikistan is nearly divided between the offspring of Rahmon. They had nine – two sons and seven daughters. As soon as one of the daughters is getting married (for four of these), the father of her husband, if you do not receive the ministerial, the other major public office or a good business. And the husbands themselves – responsible government officials and diplomats, one representing the country at the UN, the other – the IMF, the third – the deputy minister … Previously best-known businessman in the country was the brother of the president’s wife Sadulloev Hassan, which controls more than two hundred enterprises of the republic, including Central Asia’s largest aluminum smelter. Influential businesswoman is the eldest daughter Tahmina, which owns the bank, distillery, beauty. Not long ago, she married another daughter, she also gets the business. Now, he married the eldest son, 24-year-old Rustam, he studied at many universities, not finishing any of them – Germany, Tajikistan, Russia at Moscow State University. But his father called him recently from Moscow, Rustam too often leave a lot of money in a casino, “Corston.” At home, he immediately got a high position in the Foreign Ministry, and now many believe that Rahmon always takes it with him to travel abroad. – Prepares his successor? – There is a version. But while Rustam became interested in the other – in an instant, he became a famous Tajik football player, captain and top scorer of the Premier League team “Istiqlol.” When he goes on the field, his opponents are afraid to take the ball. A couple of weeks ago, Rustam married. Ministers and businessmen gave him a car, he loves to collect them.Everyone was wondering how the wedding will take place, because Rahmon has recently issued a decree banning lavish celebrations. On television, even announced that his son, “his majesty” marries … – President of the so-jokingly referred to as? – No, no, “dzhanobi oli”, so in Tajik is almost officially as it sounds, and on television too … And he is sometimes at a government meeting about himself in third person says, ministers scolded: “You told me that all will do, Your Majesty, and that …” For it is in a different turn: “Yes, my king “-” Shoham “in Tajik. – Presidential Decree complied with at the wedding? – Of course, even on television showed a report as to the relatives of “KamAZ” bringing up the gifts with products – butter, rice for the residents. It was emphasized that all of the personal funds of the president’s family. In this case the current poverty of Tajiks – a direct result of a consistent policy of the authorities. Rahmon said that Tajikistan should not be rich, otherwise then they start to grow, and political ambitions. He is afraid of free and independent people. In Emomali Sharipovich two mania, one – the persecution, the other – of greatness. – Is it true that once you have held a long conversation in private? – Yes, in 1999, he invited me to come back to Dushanbe, and we talked to his office at the presidential palace about four hours. I remember the awkward details of the conversation. I can only say that it was very uncomfortable to listen to the president, who was trying to portray himself as a well-read man. Rahmon, is constantly recalled Tajik poetry classics and philosophers, but is constantly confused their names. He reproached me that I wrote, though he lives in the palace, saying that the house had no heating and he wrapped himself in a coat out there … – But what if the president so you have a newspaper, where you can find criticism address of the authority? – This is not the merit of Rahmon, is the merit of journalists. I know that many of them often cause a state committee of national security, prosecutor’s office and threatened them, putting pressure on their relatives.Tajikistan – a unique country. On the one hand, executions, imprisonment and cruel persecution of dissent and hunt for enemies of the regime, amounting to psychosis.On the other hand, you can barely hear the phrase “it’s not a phone conversation.” I admire the courage of politicians such as Rahmatullo Zoirov, Kabiri, Shodi Shabdolov, Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda, Yusuf Ahmed, Shokirjon Khakimov Amniyat Abdunazarov, Mirhusayn Nazriev, Kuwwat Sulton, and many others who, despite the pressure of the authorities, have the courage to speak openly the country’s problems. – All of them are members of the “Vatandor?” – The authorities in Dushanbe make everyone more or less meaningful policies to make a statement that he is not a member of the “Vatandor.” – You can call these people? – Please – Turajonzoda One of the commanders of the National Guard Sukhrob Kasymov, the late Mirzo Ziyoyev … The merit of “Vatandor” that in Tavildara near the former opposition fighters today are members of the former “Popular Front of Tajikistan,” 17 years ago led to the power of the current president. – But the main thing, then supported him in Moscow and Tashkent. What is the future today at the Russian-Tajik relations? – Do Rahmon Psychology gypsy. Gave him the money – so good, did not give – bad. Russia, he always used, primarily as a cash cow. In this case there was a moment in 1993 when, trying to keep their power, Rakhmonov was chairman of the Supreme Council of Tajikistan, Russia was ready to give everything. He then appealed to Yeltsin proposed the occurrence of Tajikistan in Russia. In another appeal to President Karimov, he offered to give Uzbekistan Leninabad region. I mention this because today Rahmon calls himself the savior of the Aryan Nation last, almost the last Aryan. – There is evidence of these appeals? – This is a known fact, the Tajik press then wrote about it. Rahmon was convinced that the Soviet Union to resume its existence, and it becomes something of a first secretary of the Central Committee of the Republic.

Attempted Murder of Uzbek Cleric In Sweden

Well-known Uzbek cleric, Obid-kori Nazarov, shot in Sweden

Обид-кори Назаров


The well-known Muslim cleric from Uzbekistan, Obid-kori Nazarov, has been attacked in the Swedish town of Stromsund – he is said to be in a stable condition after being shot several times by an attacker who then escaped.

The attack on Nazarov is believed to have taken place at around 12 noon today as the imam was returning home from mid-day prayers.

According to one of the injured man’s close associates, his as-yet unidentified attacker had been lying in wait for Nazarov near the entrance to his home in Stromsund and began shooting at him as he approached the building.

The injured Nazarov began shouting loudly for help, and as his grandson ran to his aid, the attacker reportedly ran away. Later, police found the silencer from a gun near the scene of the shooting which could have been thrown away by the man who shot Nazarov.

The imam was taken to hospital, where he underwent an operation. His associate says that his condition is serious but stable.

The same associate declined to conjecture as to who Nazarov’s assailant may have been. Other followers of the cleric say that they know nothing of Nazarov’s current condition and that the Swedish police advised them not to pass on any information about what had happened.

Obid-kori Nazarov, who has lived in Sweden since 2006, is viewed by the Uzbek authorities as one of the most outspoken critics of President Islam Karimov and his regime.

Tashkent has accused the imam of setting up and running an extremist religious organisation, guilty of plotting terrorist acts and other crimes within Uzbekistan including murders and attacks on people over a period of more than ten years.

Nazarov himself has always refuted these accusations, saying that he became a victim of Karimov’s dictatorial regime after he refused to organise his religious activity according to Presidential demands.

“We, like journalists, suffer because of our freedom of speech,” Nazarov said in an interview with Uznews.net in 2007.

Until he was granted political asylum in Sweden in 2006 Nazarov had been in hiding for several years in Kazakhstan.

He was forced to escape from there in autumn 2005 when Kazakhstan’s special security forces arrested several of his associates and handed them over to Uzbekistan. Among those captured was the eminent cleric Rukhiddin Fahruddinov.

But Nazarov never felt safe even when he was living in Sweden. His associates chose not to tell other followers where he lived, and in the last five years he has moved towns a number of times.

Fearing for his life, Nazarov rarely went out alone and was always accompanied by a small group of his relatives and followers. On the day he was shot, he was returning home on his own, which is a very rare occurrence, one of his associates says.


Attempted Murder of Tajik Opposition Leader In Moscow

[It is open hunting season on Tajik opposition leaders, no matter where in the world they try to hide.  The same principle is at play against refugee Uzbek leaders (SEE:  Well-known Uzbek cleric, Obid-kori Nazarov, shot in Sweden).  Somebody wants to see Emomali Rahmon and Islam Karimov reelected in the coming shady elections in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, just as Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov was reelected in Turkmenistan and Nursultan Nazarbayev stayed in office in Kazakhstan.  Even though the West likes to preach “democracy” to the masses, there are times like now, when dictators are needed to make far-reaching, snap decisions.  Western corporations are nervously waiting to jam huge pipelines up everybody’s asses over there and strong men are needed to ensure that the people stand still and take it.]

Dodojon Atovulloyev: “I lost my vigilance”



The leader of the Tajik opposition movement “Vatandor” Dodojon Atovulloyev

Recall that in last Thursday in downtown Moscow at the Komsomolsk Avenue was attacked by the famous Tajik journalist and opposition leader Dodojon Atovulloyev. The unidentified man struck him two stab wounds, aiming at his heart. Four days Dodojon spent in intensive care, and only on Monday evening he was transferred to a general ward. Now a direct threat to his life there, but the state Atovulloyev remains difficult.

Dodojon told the ” New “about the circumstances and causes of the attempt:

– That day I had several meetings with foreign diplomats. In the evening I had another meeting scheduled with the fellow. Around 21:00, I left the house, he passed a dark archway, and saw stranger. I immediately realized that this was a Tajik, thought that he just wanted to say hello to me. But he silently walked up to me, struck two blows with a knife and hid in the yard. As I learned later, one of the blows was a centimeter away from the heart. I was saved only by the fact that a fight has attracted the attention of people walking down the street. Then I got to the nearest lighted door (it was a restaurant) and asked to call the “first aid”.

– You said that at the time of the attack came to a meeting with one of the Tajik refugees. Can he be involved in the assassination?

– No way. This person I know and trust him. I was just too careless and lose vigilance. Over twenty years of exile I’m used to receiving threats to his address and had long ceased to pay attention to them. And the last few days felt being watched, but even that I was not alarmed, and that’s paid.

– Do you think the attempt on you – it is a political order?

– Without a doubt.

– Why now?

– The set of reasons. After a year in Tajikistan will be held next presidential elections, and the authorities are trying to do everything possible to neutralize the opposition. In February last year, prosecutors Tajikistan has got me a regular criminal case accusing me of complicity in terrorism, and Russia demanded that my issue. It did not work. In September 2011 I met with the closest associates of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, persuaded me to reconcile with the president. Offered to attend the 20th anniversary of independence (September 8.IG) and the public to conclude a truce. I refused.

Soon strained Russian-Tajik relations: the detention in Tajikistan, Russian and Estonian pilots and the harsh sentence imposed by the court (eight and a half years in prison.IG). For me it was obvious that this kind of “operation” to free the son-in-the president, who served time in a Russian prison for drug trafficking, as I openly said.

– Why did you refuse the offer to make peace with President Rahmon?

– I’m like anyone else familiar with the arithmetic operations of the current government and I know what happens to people who rely on the words of President Rahmon. The well-known journalist Ottohon Latifi returned to Dushanbe – killed at his home, MP Habib Sanginov after long negotiations returned to his homeland – was killed, the closest ally of Rakhmonov Abduldzhalil khukum believe in guarantees, came to the funeral of Sister – thrown into prison and there killed. They all believed Rahmon and were killed, dozens of such cases. But even this is not stopped me, and especially the fate of hundreds of my colleagues that the Tajik overcrowded prisons. So I have no moral right to go to any negotiations with President Rahmon.

– Will attempt to further your business?

– After the attack I am even more convinced of the correctness of the chosen path. Now I have no choice. We will work to expand my movement “Vatandor” and to seek a peaceful retirement, Emomali Rahmon.

From the Editor. Investigation attempted Atovulloyev leads a group of investigators of ATS ‘Khamovniki. “ Relatives and close friends Atovulloyev unhappy course of the investigation. As soon as the investigation began – and already there was a change of the investigator, now headed by Olga Malyarchuk consequence that neither the Dodojon nor his relatives have not yet seen.

Novaya Gazeta

Tajik Govt. Campaign of Religious Harassment Continues Against Beloved Turajonzoda Brothers

[Tajikistan is roiling with discontent, NOT due to outside interference, but because of the government crackdown on religious activity not sanctioned by the State.  At the center of that state repression of Islamic faith is the highly respected Turajonzoda family, led by the elder brothers, who are beloved Imams at a mosque near Dushanbe, which draws worshipers by the thousands for nearly every service. 

Drawing ofTajikistan mosque

The mosque will hold 150,000 worshippers when completed

The government campaign to control all religious worship in the country is a sneaky plan to fill the new gigantic mosque being built by the meddling Qataris for the Tajik State (capacity 150,000) , and to strike a blow against the remnants of the IRP, the Islamic Renaissance Party (formerly led by Akbar Turajonzoda). 

(SEE THE FOLLOWING:  State Islam, Outsiders Compete For Influence In Central Asia  ;  Where did bombers in Tajikistan?  ;  A strange car accident. Leader of the Islamic Party of Tajikistan, M. Kabiri tried to kill?  ;  Operation “Mukanna”  ;  US unhappy with “anti-Islamization in Tajikistan”  ;  Tajik Muslims bristle over anti-fundamentalism efforts  ;  Religious differences did not lead to unity

(In particular, the following article on Turajonzoda is a MUST READ:  Tajik Mufti Who Sees Through Anti-Islamist Western Subversion, Targeted By Tajik Court).  In keeping with American plans to introduce its fake “Islamists” into Tajikistan (SEE: America’s “Islamists” Go Where Oilmen Fear to Tread), the real Islamists are first being neutralized and sequestered.  By harassing, jailing, intimidating, even killing Tajikistan’s true religious leaders, the religious masses are being agitated and deprived of leadership at a time of great religious testing.  Shaitan has big plans for Tajikistan and spiritual leaders like the Turajonzoda brothers are all that stands in the way.]

     Hoji Akbar Turajonzoda

  Nuriddin Turajonzoda

Tajikistan mosque raided, worshippers detained, imams removed

Over fifty officials from the police, NSC secret police, Prosecutor’s Office and the state Religious Affairs Committee raided a high-profile mosque near Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe during Friday prayers on December 9. They accused the mosque leaders, who are Sunni, of marking a Shia Muslim commemoration, insisting that only Hanafi Sunni rituals should be observed.

Two brothers from the prominent Turajonzoda family which ran the mosque were fined, while nine other mosque members were held for ten days with no court hearing, mosque members complained to Forum 18 News Service.

The Religious Affairs Committee also removed the mosque’s imams and downgraded its status.

Police imposed a cordon on Fridays during successive weeks’ prayers. But Deputy Chief of Vahdat Town Police, Alisher Abdurasulov, denied to Forum 18 that anyone was detained without trial or that the village was cordoned off to prevent worshippers reaching the mosque. Asked why he and other officials raided the mosque, Chair of the Religious Affairs Committee, Abdurahim Kholikov, told Forum 18: “I have the right not to answer you.”

The Muhammadiyya Mosque is located in Vahdatobod (formerly Turkobod), a village of about 200 people in Vahdat District, 11 miles from Dushanbe. It is run by Haji Turajonzoda and his brother Imam Nuriddin Turajonzoda.

Nearly two months after officials restricted the activity of a leading mosque only hundreds rather than thousands of worshippers can now attend Friday prayers.

No sermons are allowed and the mosque’s imams cannot return to lead the community.

A Dushanbe-based journalist told Forum 18 that thousands of people from Dushanbe and even from the city of Kulyab, 200 kms (125 miles) south-east of Dushanbe, used to travel to the mosque for Friday worship. “Imam Nuriddin is a very well known Muslim preacher in Tajikistan, and Tajik Muslims love his sermons.”

Akbar Turajonzoda was an independent Senator in Tajikistan’s Parliament between 2005 and 2010. He served as Tajikistan’s Mufti from 1988 to 1991, and as the second-in-command of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan and the United Tajik Opposition from 1993, until his expulsion from the party in 1999. He also served as Tajikistan’s Deputy Prime Minister after the civil war ended in 1996.

Trouble began for the mosque on December 6 when the state-backed Council of Ulems issued a fatwa (religious ruling) against the Muhamadiyya Mosque and its leaders which was distributed to all mosques across Tajikistan.

The fatwa stated that the Council of Ulems “is not against observing the rite of Ashura by the Shia” but said “it is surprising to see that the Turajonzoda family, well-known in religious circles and who consider themselves Hanafi Muslims, observed it in the Turkobod Mosque on 2 December.” This “may lead to schism between Muslims”, it warned, adding that the Tajik people, “which adheres to the Hanafi movement, never in its history observed the rite of Ashura, and thereupon this deed of the Turajonzoda family fully contradicts Hanafi teachings.”

The Council of Ulems’ decision also called on the authorities to inspect the religious activity of the Turajonzoda family to see whether it “fits in the frames of the Religion Law.”

Uzbekistan Has Deported A Group of Turkish Businessmen for Operating In “Black Market”

Uzbekistan has deported a group of Turkish businessmen, accused of economic crimes


Uzbekistan has deported eight Turkish businessmen, reported February 22 Ozodlik (Uzbek service of Radio Liberty), with reference to the Uzbek state television.

All the deportees had been convicted in Uzbekistan on charges of tax evasion and assisting in the development of the shadow economy, their property confiscated in the country. But businessmen were immediately pardoned and deported.

Another, the ninth Turkish businessman who has a residence permit in Uzbekistan, was sentenced to three years imprisonment and a fine of more than 15 thousand dollars.

Most of this group of Turkish businessmen were charged with the results of a raid conducted by law enforcement bodies of Uzbekistan in March 2011 in the largest Turkish trade center in Tashkent – the supermarket «Turkuaz». A few months earlier, in late 2010 in the Uzbek capital was closed down a popular Turkish supermarket “Demir” reason have been called numerous violations in its work.

The international news agency “Fergana”

Bangkok Bomb Suspects Allegedly Members of Anti-Iranian Terrorist Group–MEK

Four Iranians suspected of involvement in a botched bomb plot targeting Israeli diplomats in Bangkok were members of an exiled Iranian opposition group which wanted the incident to reflect badly on Teheran, Syedsulaiman Husaini, Shia leader of Thailand, said on Sunday.

He claimed the four belonged to the Mujahedin-e Khalq Organisation (also known as MEK, MKO and the People’s Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran, or PMOI) which aims to overthrow the current Iranian government.

The MEK has been on the US Department of State’s list of foreign terrorist organisations since 1977.

Thai authorities and security agencies were not familiar with the group, said Mr Syedsulaima, who is also director of the Islamic studies centre at Al Mahdi Institute and former president of the Iran University Alumni Association.

The Islamic scholar said the bomb incident was unlikely to be the work of the Iranian government as speculated because Bangkok and Teheran have good bilateral relations.

A secret report by Iran’s security agency also indicated that the Iran nationals linked with Bangkok’s latest  bomb plot were members of the MEK, reports said.

Formed in the 1960s, the organisation participated in Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution that replaced the country’s pro-Western ruler, Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, with a Shi’ite Islamist regime led by the Ayatollah Khomeini. The MEK, whose ideology mixes Marxism and Islam, was expelled from Iran two years later after trying to stage an armed uprising against Khomeini.

Vladimir Putin–“Be strong: guarantee of national security for Russia”

Vladimir Putin: “Be strong: guarantee of national security for Russia”

Vladimir Putin: The army must become a professional, and should form the basis of its contractors.  Photo by Konstantin Zavrazhin
Vladimir Putin: The army must become a professional, and should form the basis of its contractors. Photo by Konstantin Zavrazhin

The world is changing. Going it processes global transformation fraught with risks of different, often unpredictable nature. In terms of global economic and other shocks is always a temptation to solve their problems at the expense of others, by the force of pressure. Not by chance that today there are voices that say, soon, “objective” will be a question that national sovereignty should not be subject to the resources of global importance.

That even such hypothetical possibilities with regard to Russia should not be. That means – we will not have to enter into the temptation of their weaknesses.

That is why we are not under any circumstances give up the potential of strategic deterrence, and will strengthen it. It was he who helped us to maintain the sovereignty of the most difficult period in the 90s, when other weighty material arguments here, let’s face it, did not exist.

 We will not under any circumstances give up the potential of strategic deterrence, and will strengthen it

Obviously, we can not strengthen our international position, develop the economy, democratic institutions, if we are not able to defend Russia. If the calculated risk is not possible conflicts, do not ensure the independence of military technology and prepare a decent, adequate military response as a last resort to respond to certain calls.

We have adopted and will implement an unprecedented program of development and modernization of the armed forces of the military-industrial complex of Russia. In total, over the next decade for this purpose is allocated about 23 trillion rubles.

Frankly, there was much debate about the size and timing of such large-scale funding. I am sure – they are fully adequate to the needs and resources of the country. And most importantly – to work to create modern armed forces, Integrated strengthening defense capabilities – can not wait.

This is not about the militarization of the Russian budget. In fact, the money that we allocate – a “pay the bills” for those years when the Army and Navy are chronically underfunded, when practically does not deliver new types of weapons. While other countries have consistently increased their “military muscle”.

“Smart” defense against new threats

We need mechanisms to respond not only to the existing danger. We must learn to “look beyond the horizon”, to assess the nature of threats in the years ahead, 30-50. This is a serious task that requires the mobilization capacity of the civil and military science, algorithms, reliable, long-term prognosis.

What weapons will be required of the Russian Army. What are the technological requirements will be offered to domestic military-industrial complex. In fact, you can create a qualitatively new, “smart” system of military analysis and strategic planning, preparing ready-made “recipes” and their operational implementation in the structures of our law enforcement agencies.

What is in store for us, “the coming century?”

The probability of a global war nuclear powers against each other is low, such would mean the end of civilization. As long as the “powder” of strategic nuclear forces, created a huge labor of our fathers and grandfathers, and remains “dry”, no one would dare unleash a large-scale aggression against us.

However, keep in mind that the scientific and technical progress in various fields, ranging from the emergence of new types of weapons and military equipment and finishing information and communication technologies, has led to a qualitative change in the nature of warfare. So, as the mass adoption of precision non-nuclear long-range all the more clearly will show the trend of adopting them as weapons of a decisive victory over the enemy, including a global conflict.

Much, if not decisive, role in determining the nature of warfare will have the military capabilities of countries in outer space, in the field of information warfare in the first place – in cyberspace. And in the longer term – the creation of weapons based on new physical principles (radiation, geophysical, wave, genetic, psycho-physical, etc.). All of this will, together with nuclear weapons to obtain qualitatively new instruments to achieve political and strategic objectives. These weapons systems will be comparable to the results of the use of nuclear weapons, but more “acceptable” in the political and military terms.Thus, the role of the strategic balance of nuclear forces in deterring aggression and chaos will gradually decrease.

Before our eyes, flashing all the new regional and local wars. There are areas of instability and artificially heated, controlled chaos. And traced deliberate attempts to provoke such conflicts in the immediate vicinity of the borders of Russia and our allies. We see how devalued and destroyed the basic principles of international law. Especially in the field of international security.

Russia under these conditions can not only rely on diplomatic and economic methods of removing contradictions and conflict resolution. Our country is the task of development of military capabilities within the containment strategy and the level of defense sufficiency. And the armed forces, intelligence agencies and other law enforcement agencies must be prepared to respond quickly and effectively to new challenges. This is a necessary condition for Russia to feel safe, and the arguments of our country’s perceived partner in various international formats.

Together with our allies, we must also strengthen the capacity of the Collective Security Treaty. Including the Collective Rapid Reaction Force. CSTO is ready to fulfill its mission guarantor of stability in the Eurasian space.

The most important priority of Russian state policy in the future will remain issues of dynamic development of the Armed Forces, nuclear and aerospace industry, defense industry, military education, military science, fundamental and applied research programs.

The Army has kept Russia

The collapse of a single country, economic and social upheaval 90s hit on all public institutions. Passed the hardest tests, and our Army. Combat training was virtually collapsed. Part of the “first strategic echelon” of Eastern Europe hastily withdrawn in the “open field”. And since there was no money in their arrangement, for the construction of military bases, landfills and housing, it is these, the most capable, best-equipped compound were “under the knife.”

The officers for months received no allowance. What can we hide, often had problems even with the power of the personnel. The soldiers fired tens of thousands. The number of generals, colonels, lieutenant colonels and majors and captains exceeded the number of lieutenants. Defense enterprises were idle, plunged into debt and lost most valuable “piece” of specialists.

According to the Armed Forces suffered a devastating stroke information. Some “leaders” simply could not live a day without having to pobolnee “kick” and humiliate the Army, insult all that is associated with concepts such as Oath, duty, service of the Fatherland, patriotism, Ratna history of our country. Thought and still think this is a moral crime and betrayal.

We must always remember what the country owes the soldiers and officers, who in the hardest 90 years, in spite of everything, kept the army, provided at critical junctures in readiness units. If I had – fought.Have lost their mates and won. So it was in the North Caucasus, Tajikistan, and other “hot spots”. These people saved spirit and honor of the Army. Integrity and sovereignty of Russia. Protect the safety of our citizens. Not allowed to humiliate and to “write off” the country.

However, for the errors in multiple, inconsistent reforms, beyond which is often worthless, except for the mechanical reduction, we had to pay a very high price.

When in 1999 the gang of international terrorists unleashed a direct aggression against Russia, we are faced with a tragic situation. 66000th group had to literally collect the “piecemeal” – summary of the battalions and separate units. The number of staff of the Armed Forces exceeded 1.36 million people. A manned units that can proceed without additional preparation to carry out tasks, almost was not.

But the Army completed its task. Fulfilled their duty of our officers, sergeants, soldiers – citizens, for whom Oath of Homeland meant more than life, their health and well-being. And, more importantly, in the state in society finally returned understand a simple truth – the Armed Forces should be cherished. They need to be strengthened, or “someone else will have to feed an army” or even be in thrall to criminals and international terrorists.

We started with the most urgent things. Restoring basic social security system for servicemen, eliminated the shameful delay in payment of allowances. Year by year, increased the share of expenditure on the development of Army and Navy, and there were times when even the most urgent needs was not enough money.

I am sure no “spot” purchase of military equipment can not replace the production of our own weapons, and can only serve as a basis for technology and knowledge

I remember in 2002 when the Chief of General Staff, of course, not a good life, proposed to eliminate the space-based strategic submarines on Kamchatka. Thus, we would lose and the presence of our naval nuclear forces in the Pacific. I have not made that decision. Due to the lack of necessary funds in the budget had to ask for help when private companies. I want to remember their good word. And “Surgutneftegas”, and TNC do not hesitate to provide the necessary resources to start database recovery. Then joined and money budget. And now we have a modern base in Vilyuchinsk, which will soon come to alert a new generation of submarines of the type “Northwind”.

In all formed part of the strategic directions of constant readiness, complete with contractors. Created self-contained group. It is this group in August 2008, conducted an operation to force Georgia to peace, defended the peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

But the experience of all previous years, argued that the development potential of the former military structure inherited from the Soviet Union, completely exhausted.And that, essentially, is a structure of this? Thousands of storage bases, arsenals, depots, headquarters and numerous “cadre” part. In short, all that was necessary to deploy “mobilization,” many millions of the last century.

Saturate the old structure of men and equipment was pointless: this would not be enough any resources – either financial or human. The main thing – she did not answer, not only promising but also to modern requirements. Nothing is changing, gradual and limited half-hearted reforms, we would sooner or later, finally losing its military capabilities, to lose our Armed Forces as a functioning organism.

The yield was only one – to build a new army. Army of the modern type – a mobile that is in a constant state of combat readiness. This is a very difficult process that involves tens of thousands of people. This is related to the inevitable mistakes, grievances, claims. Aggravated public reaction, including the very military. Reform is not one person or ten. I have a complex institution, inside of which have accumulated a lot of flaws. Failures, “the excesses of artists,” Weak information work and the lack of channels of “feedback”, the formal execution of the directives – all this is real “trouble spots”-reaching reform. Our goal – to see these “trouble spots” and adjust these or other solutions. Maintaining the overall logic of the systemic transformation of the Armed Forces.

What has been done

Parts abridged composition in our Army anymore. In the Army deployed more than 100 combined and special teams. This is a full-fledged military compounds, staffed, and equipment. The ratio of lift on alert – one hour. The transfer of a potential theater of military operations – per day.

First to prepare for a combat mission compounds needed up to five days. A deployment and equipment of all the Armed Forces “in wartime” had to take almost a year. And this at a time when most of the time of armed conflict today lasts from several hours to several days.

Why as a major tactical unit was selected the team? First of all, given our own experience and other Afghan campaign, when, instead of regiments and divisions proved to be effective, and mobile combat assault team, reinforced by aircraft, other means of support.

The strategic center “Yars” with “Topol-M” will come in 10 regiments of SRF.

A more compact in size than the division – the new team at the same time has more punch. Significantly increased by the fire damage and to ensure – artillery, air defense, intelligence, communications, etc.And the team is able to operate both independently and as part of other compounds. I admit that not all the required quality has been brought to perfection. Soon to be fully reach the required standards.

The Russian army gets rid of all non-core and auxiliary functions – economic, domestic and others. Separation from military training to a minimum. Given the time to call in 12 months – this is generally the only way to make a rookie trained fighter. Soldiers and officers should carry out their direct task – combat training and intensive study. What, in particular, have a positive impact on the discipline and order among the troops. And actually enhance the dignity of military service.

There is a serious reform of military education. Formed by 10 major scientific and educational centers. All these institutions are built into a rigid hierarchy and subject to military service gives officers the opportunity to continuously improve their professional level. Here, we rely both on its own traditions and practices in the world.

No significant development of military research there can be no effective military or military-technical doctrine, can not work effectively structure of the General Staff. We need to recover lost jurisdiction of the military institutions, to integrate them with developing a system of military education – as well as in the civilian sector of the economy. The military science must have a decisive influence on the defense problems. A qualified procurement patterns, a division of the Ministry of Defense in charge of the military order – to ensure the effective development of technical specifications for the development, production, planning, characteristics of weapons and military equipment.

Without a doubt, the normal development of military research is not possible without a partnership with civil science, without the potential of our leading universities and SSC. The scientists should have sufficient information on the status and prospects of the Army and weapons systems to be able to target their prospective study, bearing in mind, including the possibility of their use of the defense.

Note also that the authorities in the Armed Forces of the cut in half. Formed by four of the integrated military districts: Western, Southern, Central and Eastern. They passed under the control of air forces, air defense and navy. In fact, we are talking about the operational and strategic command. On December 1, 2011 on combat duty in Russia has taken a new branch of service – Army air and space defense.

In the Air Force established seven large air bases with a strong infrastructure. Upgraded airfield network. Over the past four years – the first time in 20 years – repaired 28 airfields. This year, the planned work for another 12 military airfields.

We built up the possibility of a serious warning of missile attack. Already commissioned tracking station in the Leningrad and Kaliningrad regions, in Armavir, started testing a similar facility in Irkutsk. All teams of aerospace defense complex equipped with modern means of automation “Universal-1C.” Deployed full time space grouping system “GLONASS”.

Provided reliable stability and sufficiency of land, sea and air strategic nuclear forces of Russia. The share of modern ground-based missile systems over the past four years has increased from 13 to 25 percent. There will be continued for another 10 re-missile regiments strategic complexes “Topol-M” and “Yars.” In the long-range aircraft is fully maintained fleet of strategic bombers Tu-160 Blackjack and Tu-95MS, go work for their modernization. For our “strategists” on the adoption of a new armed cruise missile air-launched long-range. Since 2007, on an ongoing basis resumed flights of strategic aviation in the areas of combat patrols. It starts with the development of promising aviation complex for long-range aviation.

Intrudes on duty strategic missile submarine of the new project “Northwind”. Boats of this class – “Yuri Dolgoruky” and “Alexander Nevsky” – are undergoing state tests.

 Strategic missile submarine of Project 955 “Yuri Dolgoruky” already runs the state tests.

Our Navy resumed its presence in strategic areas of the oceans, including in the Mediterranean. Such a demonstration “of the Russian flag” will now be permanent.

The tasks of the coming decade

We have begun a large-scale, complex re-Army and Navy, and other law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of the state. Priorities here – it’s nuclear forces, defense aerospace, communications, intelligence and control, electronic warfare, “drones” and robotic percussion systems, modern transport aircraft, the system self-defense fighter on the battlefield, precision weapons and the means to combat it.

The system of controls and training of troops should be more qualitative, intensive and comprehensive. Major efforts will be concentrated on the “cobbling together” effective cross-species troops and forces.Improving preparedness of military units to perform combat missions.

Our experts will determine the prospective development of ideology and arms, clearly identify their goals and objectives of the relevant conceptual documents. But it is already clear that the structure of the Armed Forces will continue the role and importance of nuclear deterrence. Anyway, as long as we do not there will be other types of weapons, attack complexes of new generation. Including – high-precision weapons, which, as already mentioned above, can solve problems that are comparable to those that are now before the forces of nuclear deterrence. In addition, in the coming years will increase significantly the value of the Navy, Air Force and aerospace defense.

 Air Force will receive more than 600 modern aircraft, including a fifth-generation fighter.

Time demands decisive steps to strengthen the unified system of air and space defense. These actions have pushed the U.S. policy and NATO on missile defense.

Safeguard against violations of the global balance of power may be either creating your own is very expensive and yet ineffective missile defense system, or, more productively, ability to overcome any missile defense system and to protect Russia’s retaliatory potential. It is precisely this purpose and will serve as strategic nuclear forces and the structure of the aerospace defense. In this matter can not be “too much patriotism.” Military-Technical Russia’s response to the global U.S. missile defense system and its segment in Europe will be effective and asymmetric. And it will fully comply with the steps the United States in the field of missile defense.

Our goal – a revival in the full sense of “ocean” of the Navy, primarily in the North and the Far East. Activity, which began leading military powers of the world around the Arctic, Russia confronts the challenge of our interests in the region.

As long as the “powder” of strategic nuclear forces, created a huge labor of our fathers and grandfathers, is “dry”, no one would dare unleash a large-scale aggression against us

In the next decade will go to the troops more than 400 modern intercontinental ballistic missiles, land-and sea-based missile eight strategic submarine cruisers, some 20 attack submarines, 50 surface warships and about 100 military satellites, more than 600 modern aircraft, including fighter jets fifth generation, over thousands of helicopters, 28 sets of regimental air defense missile systems S-400, 38 sets of divisional air defense systems “Hero”, 10 brigade sets of missile complex “Iskander-M”, over 2 thousand 300 modern tanks, about 2 thousand mobile artillery systems and tools, as well as more than 17,000 pieces of military vehicles.

 In the next decade, an army regiment will receive 28 sets of anti-aircraft missile systems S-400.

We have a modern military equipment has been translated more than 250 units and formations, including – 30 aircraft squadrons. And by 2020 the proportion of new weapons in the armed forces must be at least 70 percent. As for the systems remaining in service, they will be subjected to thorough modernization.

Thus, the problem of the coming decade is that the new structure of the Armed Forces was able to rely on a fundamentally new technique. In the technique, which “sees” further, more accurate shooting, reacts faster than similar systems of any potential adversary.

The social face of the Army

Modern Army – is primarily a literate, trained people who can apply the most advanced weapons systems. Professionals with deep knowledge and high level of general education and culture. Today the individual requirements of each officer and soldier – to increase substantially.

In turn, the military must have a complete package of social security, adequate to their huge responsibility. This health care services, the system of sanatorium treatment, insurance, pension and decent employment opportunities after retirement. And, of course, the allowance at a level even higher than the wages that are qualified professionals and managers in the leading sectors of the economy.

In 2007 it was decided to reform and a significant increase in allowance and war pensions. In the first stage – in 2009 – was launched large-scale experiment to enhance the military service pay of those on whose shoulders a special responsibility for ensuring the country’s defense.

And now – with the January 1, 2012 – we took the next step: the money allowances of servicemen grew almost three times. Armed Forces – as an employer – are more than competitive. This is a qualitative change in the situation. Creates an additional motivation for military service.

I should add that to January 1, 2012 increased allowance in the Interior Ministry. And from January 1, 2013 – wages will rise significantly in all the other “power”, law enforcement agencies and intelligence services.

Pensions of retired military personnel, regardless of their affiliation, raised from January 1 this year – just 1.6 times. In the future – “war pension” will go up every year, not less than two percentage points above inflation.

There will also be introduced by a special education certificate that will allow soldier after leaving education or retraining in any educational institution of the country.

Separately with the housing problem. For years, she almost did not dare to do. In the 90s, at best, from all sources, granted the 6-8 thousand apartments or housing certificates a year. People are often dismissed even without flats – just put in a municipal place, which did not move.

Let’s remember where we started. Since 2000, significantly increased the amount of housing – have reached the level to an average of 25,000 flats a year. But obviously needed a crucial turning point, the concentration of financial and organizational resources of the state.

The first step in this direction was the Presidential program “15 15”, implemented in 2006-2007, when additional troops were immediately given another order of 20,000 apartments in areas where the housing problem was most acute.

And for 2008-2011, only the Defense Ministry servicemen have been purchased and have already built the order of 140 000 apartments for permanent residence, and 46 000 – service apartments. Never before was not like this. We have allocated funds, even in times of crisis. But, despite the fact that the program was more ambitious than previously planned, the problem is not solved yet.

It is necessary to speak frankly about the causes. First, the accounting officers in need of housing, the Ministry of Defence was made very poorly. And, secondly, the timing, the pace of organizational and staff measures were not clearly aligned with the capabilities to provide flats. We must correct this situation.

In 2012-2013 to fully provide permanent housing for military personnel. In addition, 2014 will complete the formation of the modern service housing fund. Thus, the “eternal” military housing problem will be solved.

Also before the end of 2012 to ensure full flats of the soldiers, who in the 90’s were dismissed without shelter and are in the municipal lines. To date, these people – more than 20,000.

Military personnel, contracted after 2007, will be provided with housing in a planned manner, in the accumulation and mortgage system. The number of participants exceeded 180 thousand people have already bought more than 20,000 apartments.

Another important issue – the fate of military bases and thousands of people who live in them. And this – former soldiers and their families, retirees, civilian experts, in short, those who gave the Army and the country more than a dozen years of his life.

It is unacceptable when these villages with all their problems just “dumped” from the balance of the Defense Ministry on the shoulders of the regions and municipalities. It is necessary to conduct the most thorough inventory of real property of the Armed Forces to be transferred to civilian authorities. In other words, homes, kindergartens, housing facilities – all this economy the Ministry of Defense must be transferred to municipalities in the state of repair, fit for use and, I stress, together with the financial resources for routine maintenance.

Major changes are coming in the system of manning the Armed Forces. Now the Army contract is 220,000 officers and 186,000 soldiers and sergeants. It is planned that within the next 5 years will be recruited every year to have 50,000 contractors who will be appointed to the post of sergeants, petty officers, as well as professionals working with military equipment.

 During a visit to military units, Vladimir Putin always trying to learn firsthand how to live the soldiers and officers.

The selection is very rigorous, multi-layered. Marshal GK Zhukov said: “I command the Army and the NCO.” NCOs – the backbone of the Army, this – order, discipline, normal combat training. At these positions require a decent people who have appropriate moral, physical characteristics, educational level. Not only junior officers, but all the soldiers, contractors will be trained in special training centers and schools of sergeant.

It is planned that by 2017 – with a total authorized strength of the Armed Forces of one million people – 700 000 will be “professionals”: the officers, cadets of military schools, sergeants and soldiers-contractors. And in 2020 – the number of employees at the call to drop to 145,000.

The logic of change clearly indicates that our goal – to build a fully professional army. However, and this must be clearly understood: a professional army – it is “expensive” army. Saving a mixed system of manning for the foreseeable future – is a compromise between the tasks and the current capabilities of the country.

But the call of service quality should also change. This is a mandatory requirement for military reform.

To maintain discipline in military units created by the Military Police. And, of course, in the education of soldiers to protect their rights and interests in ensuring a healthy moral climate in parts of the community should actively participate, veterans, religious and human rights organizations.

I think that it is necessary to a proper level to put the development of the institution of military clergy. In coming years, in each military contingent should appear chaplains.

And yet – we understand that the current system call contains a large element of social inequality. At the call goes mainly to serve children from poor, rural or working-class families, those who are not enrolled in college and could not take delayed. We need measures that would have significantly increased the prestige of military service. In fact, it would turn out “trespass” in the “privilege”.

In particular we should talk about more rights for admission to top universities for those who served. On granting them the opportunity by the state to receive additional training to pass the professional examinations. For end-of-college graduates – the budgetary grants for training in the best domestic and foreign business schools. And also – about preferences for admission to the civil service. The inclusion of management reserves. The army must regain the traditional role of the most important social elevators.

In the future you should think about this concept, as a service to the “trained reserve.”

These reservists – as is customary in many other countries – should be held regularly, not occasionally, as now, training, duties, be ready to join the ranks of combat units.

Today we have – there is no coherent concept of a national reserve of the Armed Forces. His creation – and open discussion of this concept – our immediate task.

I would like to say about the Cossacks. Today this estate include a millions of our fellow citizens. Historically, the Cossacks were in the service of the Russian state, defending its borders, participated in military campaigns of the Russian Army. After the 1917 revolution the Cossacks were subjected to the cruelest repression, in fact – genocide. However, the Cossacks survived, preserving their culture and traditions. The task of the state – in every way to help the Cossacks, to involve them in military service and military-patriotic education of youth.

What I consider important to stress that of course, the Army should become a professional basis and should be contractors. However, the notion of honorable military service for men, we can not cancel, and they must be prepared to defend the country in time of danger.

It should be a whole new level to organize the work on military-patriotic education of students, development of military-applied kinds of sports and physical culture in general. Emergency service lasts for one year, and the soldiers should concentrate entirely on the combat training. It means – it should come into the Army physically fit, tempered, and even better – owning the basic skills of working with transport equipment, computers and information technology. I would like to note in this regard the importance of the state, which carries Russian DOSAAF.

Federal, regional, municipal authorities should provide full support to the organization in implementing its mandated tasks. It is necessary to combine the efforts of state and public structures. In this regard – support the idea of a voluntary movement of the Popular Front in support of the Army, Navy and defense industry.

Our objectives in the field of defense and national security can not be achieved without high moral motivation as the soldiers and workers at the military-industrial complex. Without respect for the Armed Forces and for military service in Russian society.

On the new requirements to the Russian military-industrial complex

Military-industrial complex – it is our pride, are concentrated the most powerful intellectual and technological potential. But we should just talk about the backlog of problems. In fact, national defense centers and businesses over the past 30 years have missed a few cycles of modernization.

Over the next decade, we must fully make up for this lag. To regain technological leadership across the spectrum of the major military technology. I would like to stress once again – to re-bid Army, we’ll do it for the Russian defense industry and our scientific base.

 The rate of re-Army will be on the Russian defense industry.

We have to solve several related problems. This fold increase in the supply current and next-generation technology. It is the formation of advanced scientific and technological reserve, development and exploitation of critical technologies for the development of competitive products for military use. And, finally, is the creation of a new technology-based industries for the production of advanced weapons and military equipment. Construction, reconstruction and technical re-equipment of scientific and experimental base and bench.

Today, Russia is firmly embedded in the global economy and open to dialogue with all partners, including on defense issues and military-technical cooperation.

But the study of experiences and trends in foreign countries does not mean that Russia will go on borrowed models and abandon self-reliance. In contrast, for the sustainable socio-economic development and national security we need, taking over all the best to build and maintain military-technological and scientific independence of Russia.

In this context – of such a “sensitive subject” as the purchase of military equipment abroad. As world practice shows, all the key suppliers of the global arms market, the most technologically advanced and industrialized countries are also terms and purchasers of individual systems, samples, materials and technologies. This allows you to quickly solve pressing problems in defense and, frankly, to stimulate domestic producers.

In addition, there is a fundamental difference – to buy in order to have their own, or purchase, to abandon her. I am convinced that no “spot” purchases of military equipment and the equipment can not replace the production of our own weapons, and can only serve as a basis for technology and knowledge. By the way, as was the case in history. Let me remind you that the whole “family” of domestic tanks 30s of the twentieth century was made on the basis of American and British cars. Then, using the accumulated experience, our experts have created a T-34 – the best tank of World War II.

To really improve the country’s defense, we need the most advanced, best in the world of technology, but not “mastered” billions and trillions. It is unacceptable that the Army has become a market for obsolete models of arms, technology and research and development, and paid for at public expense.

That’s why we have set strict requirements to our defense enterprises and design, encourage the development of competition, are investing heavily in the modernization of the defense industry and technological backlog in training.

The activities of defense enterprises should focus precisely on the mass production of weapons-quality home with the best performance characteristics corresponding to the current and future defense challenges. In addition, only the latest weapons and military equipment will enable Russia to strengthen and develop positions on global arms markets, where the winner is the one who offers the most advanced design.

the task of
defense has no way to catch up with someone calm, we need to make a breakthrough to become the leading innovators and manufacturers.Updating the defense will be the locomotive that pulls on the development of a variety of industries

Respond to threats and challenges of today only – means to condemn himself to eternal role of laggards. We should make every effort to provide technical, technological, organizational superiority over any potential adversary. Such a stringent requirement should be a key criterion for setting goals to CMO. This will allow businesses to conduct long-term planning, consciously direct resources to the modernization, development of new models and weapons. And research centers and institutes will be encouraged and clear guidelines for the development of basic and applied research in both military and related industries.

We greatly advanced in the reform of the Army – we need to be reviewed and the principles of planning, implementation of the state armaments program. For defense companies can build rhythmic work, we have decided to place the state defense order more than one year, and once in three or five, even seven years. I believe that only this step is not enough.

We must start with the linking of military planning and providing the Army with weapons and military equipment and other resources. At the same time – think about the feasibility of establishing a single agency responsible for placement and monitoring of “defense” contracts. Such a body would be responsible for the implementation of state defense orders for all departments.

Adjustments to the state defense order after its approval by the Government should be minimal. It should be remembered that the purchase price in all cases must be fair and reasonable return, not only for businesses but also to invest in their development and modernization, recruitment and training.

Another problem is that the defense industry enterprises and institutions, not having a common information base, often duplicative research and development. We must move towards the creation of the “through the registry”, common databases, common standards, a transparent pricing mechanism for defense products. It is necessary to develop a deeper integration and cooperation between enterprises, the unification of production capacity.

However, carrying out public procurement, it is necessary to stimulate competition. And wise to encourage competition for the best quality, especially at the level of ideas, the research phase. However, at the stage of creating the finished product, priority should be given to the winning design, to avoid duplication of weapons systems.

In the military-industrial complex is not possible to safely catch someone, we need to make a breakthrough to become the leading innovators and manufacturers.

Achieving global technological leadership in the field of arms production involves the restoration of the full cycle from industrial design to the modeling and the mass production of serial products, ensuring their use in the army and subsequent disposal.

Lack of incentives for the development of carrier breakthrough ideas, loss of links between universities, industry institutes and enterprises of the defense leads to delays in the area of military-industrial research, the destruction of scientific schools and high technology industries. All this can not arise “by itself”, the state can not limit ourselves to exhibiting orders for competitions.

The state should aggressively seek breakthrough development, identify research teams that can implement your own reserve to the required profile, encourage healthy competition at the stage of research and development activities. Including by bringing unconventional ideas that are born in groups of young enthusiasts.

In all countries with a developed defense industry research in the field of defense are always one of the most powerful engines of innovation-based growth. That research and experimental development for the “defense”, receiving a strong and stable public funding can bring to the implementation of many breakthrough technologies that are in the civilian sector simply would not pass the “threshold of profitability.” Then they – have ready-made – being developed and adapted the civil sector.

We need a modern structure, functioning as a sort of broker between the military, industrial, scientific and political circles. Able to identify and support the best in the national innovation field, bypassing the bureaucratic processes of the numerous approvals. Optimal models of such structures is now practiced in the near future will be realized in practice.

One of these days – at a meeting with experts in the field of telecommunications and information technologies in Novosibirsk – mentioned the leading American universities that have made a “name” in defense orders and developments. I think that we need to actively involve civil capacity of universities to implement programs to modernize the defense industry. The big “defense” orders can be another source for the development of our leading universities and research centers. It is sometimes argued that the revival of the military-industrial complex – a yoke on the economy, an excessive burden, which once ravaged the Soviet Union. I am sure – it is deeply misleading.

is important to ensure that counter-flow of innovation, technology, between “defensive” and “civilian” sectors

The Soviet Union died of natural suppression, market began in the economy, from years of neglect of the interests of the people. From the desperate attempts to get the country working as a “single factory” and the inevitable result – loss of control, even in the defense sector. When it is not only experienced, but even taking into service several competing systems simultaneously. When the unit could not establish the transfer of technology to the civilian sector.

And we must not repeat past mistakes. Huge resources are invested in the upgrade defense, the Army’s modernization must be the motor for modernization of the economy. A major impetus for quality growth, when government spending creates new jobs, support the market demand, “feed” science. In practice we are talking about the same effects as those laid down in the current modernization programs. Only the “defense industry” will provide a much more far-reaching effect than the one before that which we could achieve.

Updating the defense will be the locomotive that pulls on the development of a variety of industries: metallurgy, mechanical engineering, chemical, electronic industry, the entire spectrum of information technology and telecommunications. Give businesses in these industries and resources to upgrade the technological base, and new technological solutions. Ensure the sustainability of many scientific and engineering teams – and thus, their presence in the market development for the civil sector.

In the modern world has developed a balance of mutual influence of the defense and civilian technologies. In some industries (telecommunications, new materials, ICT), it is civilian technology are the driving force behind the rapid development of military technology, in others (aviation and space technology) – on the contrary, military developments provide impetus to the civil sector. This situation requires a new attitude towards the principles of information exchange. Revision of outdated approaches to the protection of secrets. We must strictly guard the limited number of truly important secrets – and, conversely, promote the exchange of most of the scientific and technical information between all those who can effectively use it.

It is important to provide a counter-flow of innovation, technology, between “defensive” and “civilian” sectors. Should receive a reasonable estimate of intellectual property created in the “defense”. Such an assessment should take into account the potential and the prospect of civil commercialization of technology transfer. Need to focus on civilian production at the enterprises of the defense industry, but do not repeat the sad experience of “conversion” to the notorious pans and shovels made of titanium. A good example of this already – running into production first made in the “figure” of the Russian civil aircraft “Sukhoi Superjet.”

Obviously, we need an in-depth audit of the economic activity of defense enterprises. There are many areas of inefficiency – a huge, unnecessary costs, overhead costs, which sometimes number in the thousands per cent. Convoluted and opaque relationships with contractors – when the “parent” company teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and in affiliated companies and suppliers of profitability calculated by two-and three-digit numbers.

We will aggressively combat corruption in the military industry and the armed forces, steadily following the principle of inevitability of punishment. Corruption in the area of national security – is, in fact, treason.

Excessive secrecy has led to a reduction of competition, inflation in prices for military goods, obtaining super profits going to the modernization of production is not, and in some pockets of businessmen and officials. Whenever it does not contradict the national interests in the conservation of state secrets, it is necessary to abandon the practice of private trading. Procurement in the defense sector should be under close public scrutiny, and penalties for violations of the state defense order should be tightened.

We will build a single algorithm vertically integrated structures, led by lobbyists should not be this or that enterprise. At the same time need to break departmental stereotypes. Actively involved in the production of military equipment and defense capabilities of our civilian development companies and private companies.

The development of DIC only by the state is inefficient right now, but in the medium term – economically impossible. It is important to promote public-private partnership in the defense industry, including simplifying procedures for new defense industries. Private companies are willing to invest and the means and experience, and available technology in defense companies. And we believe that we will once again their “Demidov” and “Putilovs.”

All major manufacturers of weapons and military equipment the U.S. and Europe – private. A fresh look at the industry from outside the business approaches to breathe new life production, enhance the competitiveness of Russian weapons in international markets. Of course, the private defense companies must act in a special regime, including the requirements of privacy. But it should not become an obstacle to the creation of such companies, their development and access to participation in the state defense order. That the new private companies can be a source of technological breakthroughs that could dramatically change the industry.

The problem is that our private investor does not know what its capabilities will be needed and where the defense can make its own power and capital. In this regard, you need to create an open source of information available on the CMO needs to attract private business investment.

The agenda is also worth upgrading of enterprises, we have inherited from the Soviet Union. It is necessary to optimize the entire production process, which allows use of advanced technology. Bring to a highly qualified managers, engineers, production organizers of the private sector. Strengthen control over the quality of products at the enterprises of defense industry and to establish accountability for the funds used in the state defense order.

In addition, it is necessary to conduct an audit of the mobilization needs of the country. The current system is largely archaic. Today does not require power, capable of only “clone” the old weapons and ammunition. The basis of the military-industrial complex and the “mobilization reserve” should be modern technological production, ready to produce competitive quality products. They can be created on the basis of existing factories and companies in need of reform, and with “zero”.

And, of course, it is necessary to raise the prestige of occupations, work-related “defense.” Therefore reasonable to give the professionals involved in the defense industry, additional social guarantees, and even privileges. In addition, the average wage in the public sector enterprises defense, engineering and research centers should be commensurate with the money allowances in the Army.

Particular attention should be paid to education and training of new personnel in the workplace. Many businesses today are faced with the fact that the technicians and skilled workers in the most acute shortages, and this prevents the timely execution of government orders, not to mention the building of capacities.

A key role in solving this problem should take special schools (including those of applied baccalaureate programs) and technical colleges and technical schools for general care, where graduates often go to work in the “defense industry”. I think that it is possible to implement a scheme of employment on the basis of tripartite contracts between university, industry and student concern. Work at the plant should begin as early as the period of training – in the specialized field trips and internships. For students, in addition to experience, and it will give a decent income, and seriously motivated to learn the necessary skills. Naturally, this part should be an integral part of the curriculum.

The prestige of technical professions is gradually increasing. Defense companies are called to be a magnet for talented young people, providing – as it was in Soviet times – Enhanced implementation of creative ambition in the development, science and technology.

I think that we should think about the direction of the target young workers and the defense of technical university students to practice in leading Russian and international laboratories, institutes and factories. Office of modern technological equipment requires highly qualified, serious knowledge and skills, lifelong learning. Therefore, it is necessary to support and training programs directly in production.


Building a defense policy, to modernize the armed forces, we must focus on the latest trends in the art of war. Keep pace with these developments – thus advance to put yourself in a vulnerable position.Jeopardize the country, the lives of our soldiers and officers. We must never allow a repetition of the tragedy in 1941 when the state and the Army’s unpreparedness for war was paid for the enormous loss of life.

The unprecedented scale of the program of modernization of arms and defense industry confirms the seriousness of our intentions. We understand that Russia will have to draw on the implementation of these plans are very large financial resources.

The problem is that, without exhausting, and multiplying the economic forces of the country, to create such an army, a defense industry that can provide Russia’s sovereignty, respect for partners and lasting peace.

Photo: ITAR-TASS , RIA Novosti and Constantine Zavrazhin .

A $770 Billion Russian Military Modernization Says That Everything Is On the Table To Protect Assets

Russia girds for … what?


Perhaps with an eye on his March 4 presidential election rather than any real military considerations, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has announced an ambitious 10-year, $770 billion modernization of the Russian military.

(The U.S., by far the world’s largest defense spender, spent about $700 billion on its military last year.)

Putin outlined a plan to acquire more than 400 ICBMs, military satellites, dozens of warships and submarines, more than 600 combat aircraft, thousands of armored vehicles and an unspecified “smart” defense system.

The first question is: Can Russia, dependent on commodity revenues in constant flux, afford all of this?

The answer is no, according to former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, who said last fall that even a more modest buildup threatened both the budget and the economy as a whole. He was fired for saying so.

The second question is: What threat is Putin arming against?

Putin says it is to deter other nations from trying to seize Russia’s great natural resources.

That might make some sense in the Russian Far East, where underpopulated but resource-rich Siberia abuts overcrowded and resource-desperate China.

But relations between China and Russia are momentarily good, in part because of a shared mistrust of the U.S.

Indeed, the only nation Putin regularly mentions among threats to Russia is the United States, whom Putin repeatedly tells his people is trying to undermine and weaken Russia, and to relegate it to the status of a second-class power.

The idea that the U.S. has designs on Russian resources outside the normal bounds of international commerce is ludicrous and the Kremlin knows it. The U.S. does make a convenient scapegoat for Russia’s sense that is has lost great-power status.

The Russian economy only clings to top-10 status because Spain slipped this year. Russia’s military is dogged by corruption and incompetence.

In late December, Russian nuclear sub K84 caught fire in dry dock while fully loaded with nuclear ICBMs that the navy didn’t want to go to the expense and hassle of removing before work began.

A nuclear disaster on the magnitude of Chernobyl was narrowly averted by firefighters who fought the blaze for a day and a half, and only succeeded in putting it out by partially submerging the sub.

Meanwhile, Russia’s population continues to shrink and Putin’s response to that crisis has been limited to urging Russians to have more sex.

At the same time, the Muslim populations on Russia’s borders are booming.

Russia has lots of problems, but the U.S. is not one of them.



Quran Disposal Protests Build At Bagram Airbase



8 dead as anti-US protests snowball

Residents protest burning of Quran by US troops

by M Jawad SharifzadaonFeb 21, 2012 – 12:20

KABUL (PAN): Hundreds of people, protesting against the alleged burning of the Holy Quran by US troops at the Bagram Airbase in central Parwan province, blocked the Kabul-Jalalabad highway on Tuesday.

The protestors — carrying white flags and chanting slogans against Afghan and US governments, claimed the US soldiers had torched four copies of the Quran on Tuesday night.

In the Pul-i-Charkh area on the eastern outskirts of Kabul, the demonstrators closed the busy road at 8am. As a result, traffic came to a halt, with a large number of vehicles parked on both sides of the road.

Mohammad Nabi, 45, introducing himself as a worker on the military base, said: “Night shift colleagues informed us that US soldiers burnt four copies of the Qurans on the airfield.”

Two Afghan workers were shot dead when they tried to prevent the US soldiers from desecrating their holy book, Nabi claimed.

“Since foreign troops have once again desecrated our holy book, we demand their immediate withdrawal from the country,” said one of the protestors, Maulvi Aqil Khan. The incident should be investigated and criminals brought to justice, he added.

The angry protestors criticised the government’s failure to take action against US soldiers, who have burnt the copies of the Quran several times. They asked the government and Parliament to launch an investigation into the case.

Elsewhere, a similar protest was staged in front of the Bagram Airbase against the incident. The demonstrators set alight a checkpoint at the airport and called for prosecuting the soldiers behind the outrage.

Meanwhile, ISAF Commander Gen. John R. Allen ordered an investigation into the reported sacrilege. “When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities.”

The top US general said in a statement: “We are thoroughly investigating the incident and we are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you … I promise you … this was not intentional in any way.”

Gen. Allen offered his sincere apologies for any offence the act might have caused to the president, government and the people of Afghanistan.



U.S. extends support for border guards in Tajikistan

U.S. extends support for border guards in Tajikistan


In 2011, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) has trained in Khorog ( Tajikistan ) 70 and 90 of the Tajik border guards Afghan border and immigration control. Financial support for the IOM and Khorog Border Training Centre has had a department of the U.S. Embassy Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INL).

One-year training program included basic provisions for the protection of the border, cross-border cooperation, visa policy, identification of false documents, the fight against drug smuggling, human trafficking and combating terrorism.

Under this project, IOM has provided training center Khorog equipment for checking documents and language laboratory, computer tracking system, and also organized a course on training of trainers for professional development of border guards.

The final stage of this project will begin March 26 joint training to Tajik and Afghan border guards: Khorog Training Center will provide the training of border guards of Ishkashim, and Shugnan Ruzvaya and Dushanbe training center will train trainers from Sher Khan Bandar, Kokula, Kulm and the Kabul International Airport. IOM intends to train 100 Afghan Tajik border guards and 50, as well as organize two teaching seminars for coaches.

With financial support from the Department of Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INL), IOM will create a language laboratory at the Centre in Dushanbe, as well as provide both centers of modern equipment and teaching materials.Instructors and Training Centers border to visit the border checkpoints on the Tajik and Afghan sides of the border for further acquaintance with the working conditions, participation in practical training and assessment of the impact of the training.

In addition to these efforts, IOM arranges for six of border troops field trip to Ukraine, where they will visit the Academy of border and immigration control.

Division of the U.S. Embassy Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement (INL) since 1992, collaborating with law enforcement agencies of Tajikistan in strengthening border security, rule of law and the fight against drug smuggling.

The international news agency “Fergana”

Lashkar e-Jhangvi IS the “Punjabi Taliban”

Punjabi Taliban  Pentagon Press, India (NOT associated with US Pentagon)

Keeping mum about the Punjabi Taliban

The writer is a director at the South Asia Free Media Association, Lahore khaled.ahmed@tribune.com.pk

I was surprised a fortnight ago to receive a note from Lahore’s General Post Office saying I had imported a banned book which the Post Office had duly confiscated. The book was Punjabi Taliban by Mujahid Hussain (Pentagon Press, India, 2011) which is available in Pakistan too and advertised by a Karachi bookseller on the internet.

The terrorists are angry at the book. Punjab government has now joined them. The terrorists are scary enough — because the author, who now lives abroad, was once attacked by them. Some years ago, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sanaullah denied that south Punjab was a haven of the Punjabi Taliban. South Punjab contains 13 districts with a population of 27 million: Bahawalnagar, Bahawalpur, Bhakkar, DG Khan, Jhang, Khanewal, Layyah, Lodhran, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Rahim Yar Khan, Rajanpur, and Vehari.

Ex-editor Shireen Mazari who hails from DG Khan in south Punjab wrote in The News (April 29, 2009) “Why military action is not the answer” about the dominance of jihadi madrassas in DG Khan, significantly pointing to the “foreign funding” they were receiving: “In DG Khan, there are 185 registered madrassas of which 90 are Deobandi (with a total of 324 teachers), 84 are Barelvi (with a total of 212 teachers), six are Ahle Hadith (107 teachers) and five are Fiqh-e-Jafaria (10 teachers)”.

She continued: “Of the Deobandi madrassas, Jamia Ataul-Ulum, with 200 boarders and 20 day-students ranging from 5-25 years, and eight teachers, receives donations from Kuwait. Jamia Darul Rehmania offers education up to class eight and has 350 boarders plus 230 day-students and 28 teachers…The total number of Deobandi madrassa students in the DG Khan district is 11,535. Interestingly, in this category, it is the large madrassas… linked to the JUI… that receive foreign funding… almost solely from Kuwait”.

On 10 December 2009, a PPP MNA Jamshed Dasti from DG Khan challenged the claim made by the law minister that there were no terrorist havens in south Punjab and that Barelvi madrassas outnumbered the violent Deobandi ones. He said south Punjab was the main source of the Taliban-linked terrorists and that DG Khan was in the grip of violence encouraged by the state itself. He said the hills of DG Khan were still the training grounds for jihadis patronised by the state.

Bahawalpur division is dominated by the Jaish-e-Muhammad and the Sipah-e-Sahaba. The other two forces in the territory, the feudals and the state, have developed a modus vivendi with them, the latter frequently acting as a bodyguard threatening anyone trying to investigate their activities. The districts have supplied nearly 5,000 warriors to the Taliban’s war in Afghanistan, Waziristan and Swat.

Leader of the Jaish-e-Muhammad Masood Azhar was running a training camp of warriors in Cholistan, receiving financial aid from al Qaeda, also protected by the deep state. Thousands of Jaish militants were living in Bahawalpur where Masood Azhar too secretly resided. He frequently visited the Taliban and al Qaeda leaders on the Afghan border. Malik Ishaq, once in jail for killing dozens of people, belongs to Rahim Yar Khan and is leader of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. He used to rule the territory from jail, even talking from prison to the political leaders of Punjab. The case against him was wrecked after witnesses against him got killed and the living ones resiled.

The mastermind of the Mumbai attack Hamid Amin belonged to Rahim Yar Khan. In Bahawalpur, thousands have gone to join the war in the Tribal Areas from Madrassa Usman-o-Ali established by Masood Azhar.

Former governor Salmaan Taseer’s son was kidnapped from Lahore allegedly by Punjabi Taliban and taken to North Waziristan and is being reportedly kept — right in front of the Haqqani camp — by them and their Uzbek cohorts.

Published in The Express Tribune

Kazakh Drone Overflight Map–(Updated)

[From the comparison below between the screen-shot of the actual UAV, on the left, and the photo on the right of an American Predator-type-B, it seems pretty obvious that it was an American drone.  The USAF says that Predator-B has a range of approx. 1100 naut. miles, putting it within ranges of two airstrips in NW Uzbek., at Muynak and Jasliq (marked on the updated map below).  A landing strip at Bekdash, Turkmenistan could have been the landing site.  The actual video is enclosed below.]


Israel, India and the Persian Puzzle

Israel, India and the Persian Puzzle


This is perhaps what the expression ‘setting the cat among the pigeons’ means.  Just when Israel was putting up that little show, going around theworld crying about the way Iran was targeting its peaceful diplomats around the world, the ayatollahs come up with their own little performance taking everyone’s breath away.


Not that Ahmadinejad didn’t warn us.  As always, everyone was sufficiently intimated of the glad tidings on the nuclear front were on their way.  Yet it was a master stroke. Give the Iranians their due.  If the Israelis are known for their cunning and craft of obfuscation and manipulation, it’s not easy beating the Persians at mind games either.  After all, they invented the game of chess.


Defying years of Western sanctions and the endless talk of war by Israel, the Iranians seem to have gotten another decisive step closer to their goal.And they have all the players and pawns where they want them to be. And for all their bluff and bluster, Israel and its guardian angels can’t do much about it.


As a former Indian envoy to Iran put it, this is like the classic Persian puzzle.  Iran takes one step forward and waits and watches for the reaction of adversaries before taking the next cautious step. Call it the Persian incrementalism or whatever but it seems to have worked so far.


The calibrated ‘diplomatic incidents’ in New Delhi, Georgia and Bangkok were of course a stroke of brilliance.  They were apparently meant to hit two birds with one stone:  First, pin the blame on Iran, as Netanyahu did within minutes of the Delhi blast calling Tehran ‘the biggest exporter of international terror,’ and create a credible pretext to hit the Islamic republic.


Second, derail the growing Iran-India relationship.  The Israelis and Americans haven’t been too pleased with India’s refusal to stop buying the Iranian oil after recent sanctions.  By the way India isn’t the only one to do so.  China, Japan and South Korea too have refused to toe the Western line.


But Israel has been there and done it all so many times before that these shenanigans do not fool the world anymore.  These attacks purportedly targeting Israeli diplomats are rather too convenient and perfect to be genuine.  Notwithstanding Ahmadinejad’s punch-drunk love of Israel andpreoccupation with its past and future, the Iranians are not stupid.


At a time when they are isolated internationally and the West is looking for an excuse to punish it, why would they stick out their neck and resort to something as suicidal as this? As Dr Trita Parsi, the Iran hand at Johns Hopkins University and author of Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States agues, why would they do something so foolish as this and that too in New Delhi? It’s an insult to the Iranians’ intelligence.


India is, after China, Iran’s biggest trading partner and importer of Iranian oil.  Besides, the two have shared a quiet partnership since Russians left Afghanistan.  It has even survived the Indian vote against Iran in the IAEA.  Incidentally, Thailand is another major trading partner of the Islamic republic.  So why would the Iranians choose the distant tourist paradise to settle scores with the Israelis, hurting their own interests?


Secondly, in both India and Thailand, it’s the Israelis who have been quick to declare that the sticky bombs used in Delhi, Bangkok and Tbilisi are similar to the ones used in killing four Iranian nuclear scientists over the past two years.  Be that as it may, how does that link them to Tehran? Indeed, having repeatedly used the device to deadly effect against the Iranians, why couldn’t the Israelis have used it again in Indian, Georgian and Thai capitals?


The detention of an Iranian, who blew up his legs while handling the explosives, proves nothing.  It’s hardly a secret the Israelis and Americans have been using the Mujahideen-e-Khalq terrorists against Iran.


The Israeli embassy on Aurangzeb Road in New Delhi exists in the sniffing distance of the Prime Minister’s residence. It’s a high security zone with theelite ‘Z’ security force monitoring every inch of the area every minute.  So how come that red bike got so close to the embassy car and got away after sticking that bomb? No wonder Israeli watchers suspect all this is part of a campaign to corner Iran and fortify the case for the war that the world has been waiting with bated breath for some time.


I hate a triumphal I-told-you-so but this is what many of us have feared and warned about all along.  That Israel and its enablers in the US establishment are hell-bent on sparking another Western war to destroy another oil-rich Muslim country.  This is what happened in the case of Iraq.  Remember the comical claims linking Iraq to 9/11 and Niger uranium, not to mention Tony Blair’s 45-minute strike talk?


As the West turns up the heat on Iran by way of economic sanctions, trade blockade, and crippling of its banks, coupled with the rising chatter of coming war, the region has been on the razor’s edge for months now.  All that is needed is a tiny spark to blow it all up.  A minor skirmish here, a misunderstanding there or a perfect false flag in distant lands could prove excuse enough for a full blown conflagration with catastrophic consequences.


That moment seems to have arrived with the explosions in India, Georgia and Thailand.  Israel is desperately looking for a pretext–or a provocation–to punish Iran.  With the arrival of US poll season and Europe being preoccupied with its economic mess, perhaps there cannot be a better time to do so. But it’s easier said than done. Israel cannot do so on its own without the US help. If it was doable, Israel would have done it by now.  Iran is not Iraq.


Unlike Iraq’s Osirak plant which Israel bombed in 1981, Iranian nuclear installations are heavily fortified, many of them underground and spread all across the country, not to mention the forbidding distance. Besides, an Israeli strike might put back the nuclear clock but wouldn’t stop it, especially now when Tehran appears to be a screw-turn away from going full nuclear if it wants.  Iran’s leaders of course insist it is for ‘peaceful’ purposes and that they aren’t interested in the ‘satanic arms.’


Even though a demonstration of the capacity doesn’t mean willingness, would you be terribly surprised if Tehran indeed goes for the nukes? GivenIsrael’s terrorizing of the region over the past six decades and West’s hegemonic wars, it’s actually tempting and makes sense to go for the comforting reassurance that a couple of nukes seem to inspire.


More to the point, what right does Israel–and other world powers–have to lord over their nuclear arsenal while the rest of the world has to submit itself to the IAEA scrutiny? If the international community is indeed serious about a nuke-free world, it has to first address this NPT duplicity. Nuclear weapons are a clear and present danger to the Middle East and the world, no matter who owns them.

Over 3,000 Attend Pro-Assad Rally In Southern Turkey

Yesterday (19th February), in the southern Turkish city of Antakya, a demonstration took place in support of the Syrian regime by about 3000 people, the vast majority of them Alawites, chanting: “We shall shed our blood for you, Assad.”


Afghans protest Quran disposal at U.S. base

Afghans protest Quran disposal at U.S. base

By Musadeq Sadeq, AP

Protesters gather on Tuesday in front of the U.S. base in Bagram, Afghanistan.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – More than 2,000 Afghans rallied Tuesday against the inadvertent burning of Qurans and other Islamic religious materials during trash disposal at an American air base. They demanded to meet the country’s president over the issue and threatened to demonstrate again if their demand was not met.

U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, apologized and ordered an investigation into the incident, which he was “not intentional in any way.”

The incident stoked anti-foreign sentiment that already is on the rise after nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and fueled the arguments of Afghans who believe foreign troops are not respectful of their culture or Islamic religion.

Early Tuesday, as word of the incident spread, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the sprawlingBagram Air Field, north of Kabul in Parwan province. As the crowd grew, so did the outrage.

“Die, die, foreigners!” the demonstrators shouted. Some fired hunting guns into the air. Others threw rocks at the gate of the base.

Ahmad Zaki Zahed, chief of the provincial council, said U.S. military officials took him to a burn pit on the base where 60 to 70 books, including Qurans, were recovered. The books were used by detainees once incarcerated at the base, he said.

“Some were all burned. Some were half-burned,” Zahed said, adding that he did not know exactly how many Qurans, the Muslim holy book, had been burned.

Zahed said five Afghans working at the pit told him that the religious books were in the garbage that two soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition transported to the pit in a truck late Monday night. When they realized the books were in the trash, the laborers worked to recover them, he said.

“The laborers there showed me how their fingers were burned when they took the books out of the fire,” he said.

Afghan Army Gen. Abdul Jalil Rahimi, the commander of a military coordination office in the province, said he and other officials met with protesters, tribal elders and clerics to try to calm their emotional response. “The protesters were very angry and didn’t want to end their protest,” he said.

One protester, Mohammad Hakim, said if U.S. forces can’t bring peace to Afghanistan, they should go home.

“They should leave Afghanistan rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith,” Hakim said. “They have to leave and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Quran, religion and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body.”

Later, however, the protesters ended the rally and said they would send 20 representatives from the group to Kabul to talk with Afghan parliamentarians and demanded a meeting with President Hamid Karzai, Rahimi said.

In a statement, Allen offered his apologies to the president and people of Afghanistan and thanked the local Afghans “who helped us identify the error, and who worked with us to immediately take corrective action.”

“We are thoroughly investigating the incident and are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again,” Allen said. “I assure you, I promise you, this was not intentional in any way.”

The governor’s office in Kandahar province in southern Afghanistan called the incident a “shameful move by some stupid individuals.”

Zia Ul Rahman, deputy provincial police chief, said between 2,000 and 2,500 protesters demonstrated at the base.

“The people are very angry. The mood is very negative,” Rahman said while the rally was going on. “Some are firing hunting guns in the air, but there have been no casualties.”

Police said a similar protest on Tuesday just east of Kabul ended peacefully.

In April 2011, Afghans protesting the burning of a Quran by a Florida pastor turned deadly when gunmen in the crowd stormed a U.N. compound in the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and killed three staffers and four Nepalese guards.

Separately, officials in Helmand province in the south said insurgents beheaded four people Sunday night in Washer district on the charge that they were spies.

“The militants told the local people that they were guilty because they were carrying satellite phones,” provincial spokesman Daoud Ahmadi said.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousef Ahmadi said that the militant group was not involved in the killings.

Also in the south, a NATO service member died Tuesday as a result of a non-battle related injury. The U.S. led coalition gave no further details about the death. So far this year, 44 NATO service members have been killed in Afghanistan.

American Predator-B Video-Taped Over Kazakh Air Space?

[From the comparison below between the screen-shot of the actual UAV, on the left, and the photo on the right of an American Predator-type-B, it seems pretty obvious that it was an American drone.  The actual video is enclosed below.]

In the west border of Kazakhstan noticed an unmanned aerial vehicle


Screenshot of KTK video showing alleged Uzbekistani drone incursion into Kazakhstan
Jaroslav Krasienko

Dash to the west of Kazakhstan. On the eve of the men of the detachment of the boundary, which is stationed near the village of Beineu in Mangistau region, noticed an unmanned aerial vehicle.About Mr. intruded into the airspace of the Republic from Uzbekistan.

UAV crossed the border of our country and went deep into the territory of Kazakhstan. The incident was reported CTC correspondents informed sources in the power structures. The aircraft was located in the Kazakh air space of about fifteen minutes. And it went unnoticed because of the means of defense is too low altitude. Drone, presumably belonging to Uzbekistan, flew near the two border posts, turned around and headed back toward the border and escaped to a neighboring state. In a situation is dealt with by representatives of the Air Defense Forces and the intelligence units of the Ministry of Defense. Will the Uzbek authorities sent a protest note, is still unknown.

The Sardars of Balluchistan : Are they Balluch?

The Sardars of Balluchistan : Are they Balluch?

This is a Pakpotpourri Exclusive

By: Naveed Tajammal

In 1910a Scottish-American Andrew Carnegie made his fortune in the ‘Steel Industry.’ He left a $10 million Endowment for international peace-which is the fore-runner of other Carnegie related ventures, However, whatever his intentions had been, and whatever the Endowment ended up creating  are two different aspects, The Carnegie Journalist program was launched in 1974,though with an outward image to anticipate ‘Near-Horizon’ problems, but, in reality it was to induct journalists from world over to create a hype and to keep a check on the Soviets (USSR) global moves. However, the area of influence expanded to include areas where the Americans wanted a hype created.

Hence started the ‘Awareness of the Baluchistan issue’. To quote one example only, Selig Harrison was appointed to Head the Journalistic programme & the first book” In Afghanistan’s Shadow, Baluch Nationalism & Soviet Temptations” published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace by Selig Harrison in 1981 .

The British legacy had left their created Sardars, who while retaining their feudalistic powers wanted to gain the political legitimacy as well. They followed the policy of what is mine is mine and what is yours( of the people of their tribes) is also mine! The royalties taken as concessions technically for the welfare of the people, within the tribal setups, but spent by the Sardars as their own bounty, while the poor people had no recourse but move in a exodus, from the regions, as is seen in the last over 100 years, to seek a living elsewhere.

The tribes of the Sindh Valley Basin have been in a constant state of movement for the last 1600 years or so. Natural calamities, plagues and wars took their toll. The transformation from one major tribal setup to another had been a question of survival.

The geographic boundaries which Pakistan was thrust with were legacy of our past rulers, though with reference to region under study its bulk area came affiliated with either old Alor or Multan Administrative boundaries, Even in the Jam Nizam ud din Nandah period,(1461-1508). In the west, till Bolan inclusive of the Kaachi Plains was the part of the throne of Sindh. As were the Tal-Chotiali, Chacha,and Barkhan regions, wherein come the present Mari and Bugti areas. It was in Akbar’s time that Qandhar province limits were extended till Duki. Rest being part of Multan Subah ,as was Bolan and Kaachi areas .

The areas were well populated and fertile, with Sareiki speaking people, when Naseer Khan Barrohi was given these areas in 1740, for the services rendered. He pushed out the old people and transplanted them with people of his own Confederacy, the Eastern passes of the Roh- e -Suleiman Range that  had been gateways of Trade, since Ancient Times, In the Mughal era with opening of Khyber pass, the majority of Trade routes suffered, the cause, being the Movements of Bayazids , Ansari, heretics and expansion of Safavid’s in the East.

This brings us to the most pertinent question : is the present head of Bugti tribe and its clans actually Baluchi ???

For that a study of the Notes on the Balluchi , Barrohi and the Sindhi tribes should suffice.

Immediately after the creation of Baluchistan entity by the British, the Government ordered that the data be made of the Ethnic composition of various tribes of the region and inter-related ones, all the Mukhtiars and Mahalkars, in the revenue departments of the districts concerned were ordered.

(Members of Bugti tribe chant slogans in favor of their demands during a protest demonstration at Karachi press club-PPi). Picture published: http://pakistan.onepakistan.com/photogallery/news-politics/Day-in-Pics-5th/pakistan/120105-25

The reports compiled was from the communications histories, manuscripts, and the popular oral accounts which also covered profession of various tribes, matrimonial and other related customs, were submitted to Dr. U. M. Daudpota, Member Sindh Public Service Commission, and published in 1901.

The excerpts of the report state (p-26/27),covering the Bugti tribe in January 1890,on the recommendation of Robert Sandeman; Shahbaz Khan was conferred with the title of a Nawab. He was also later given a large tract of land on the Jamrau Canal for rendering assistance during the outbreak of the HUR in 1896/1897.Here without going in the details of the 24 Sept or clans of Bugti Confederacy, the report states, that the Chief of the tribe is Nawab Shahbaz Khan Rahejo Bugti, son of Ghulam Murtaza Khan Rahejo Bugti, A popular account says that Rahejo or more commonly called Rahuja, are from the Major Sindhi tribal set up of the ‘Samma’,to which the great ancestor of the present Bugti Chief belonged and that by Association with the Baluchi’s and settlement in the old Bugti hills and streams his descendants became Bugti Baluch. If we study the Samma,tribal Sept’s/clans which number in all 766,we find Raheja, very much so part of their entity (pages-44 to 53,and for more details in minor off shoots, pages 89 to 97 ).

The writer has 28 years of experience in investigative historical research.

Yasmeen Ali

Pakistan to expose US, Indian interference in Balochistan

Islamabad—In a tit for tat, the government has started preparation for providing proof of US and Indian intervention in Balochistan to Parliamentary Committees and Parliament House after the introduction of a resolution in US Congress on Balochistan.

Highly reliable sources, said that the US has been active for a long time to encourage extremist elements for separation of Balochistan from Pakistan through India, which is active as a front man.

In order to avoid further tension in relations with US and India, the government in the past kept silence over the interference of the two countries in Balochistan and FATA but now it has decided to take the parliament into confidence with solid proof. For this purpose, special briefings would be held for the Parliamentary committees. It is also being considered to raise the issue of foreign intervention in Balochistan at different international forums.

The sources said the US encouraged India to strengthen its spy network in Afghanistan by facilitating the opening of Consulates close to Pakistani borders which in reality are the centres for intelligence agency “RAW”. Through these centres, RAW was openly extending financial and materialsupport to the anti-state elements. Some of the activities of these elements are also being financed by the US government.

The US has been pressing Pakistan for the opening of a consulate in Quetta and deployment of CIA staff there under the pretext that Washington needs to keep an eye on the so-called Taliban’s Quetta shoora. However, the government fully aware of the US intentions did not allow the opening of Consulate in Quetta.

The sources pointed out that when Shahzain Bugti, the grand son of late Nawab Akbar Bugti, was arrested by Frontier Constabulary in Quetta, he first of all contacted the US Embassy in Islamabad. They said it was a clear proof that the Americans were in league with separatist elements in Balochistan and providing them arms and finances for the attainment of their nefarious designs.—INP

Russian Oil Boom Ending Signals Lower Energy Tax That Risks Unrest: Energy

By Stephen Bierman

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s prime minister. Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

Lukoil Deputy CEO Fedun

Leonid Fedun, deputy chief executive officer of OAO Lukoil, said “the cream has been skimmed off the top.” Alexander Zemlianichenko Jr/Bloomberg

Russia’s 12-year oil boom is nearing its peak, forcing the next president to decide whether to cut taxes and revive production or use the windfall from $100 oil to boost public spending and quell mounting unrest.

As Vladimir Putin campaigns for a second stint in the Kremlin, the nation’s existing fields are losing pressure and oil companies OAO Rosneft, OAO Lukoil and TNK-BP (BP/) say production taxes give little incentive to invest. Since Putin first became president in 2000, crude output has grown 57 percent to 10 million barrels a day, surpassingSaudi Arabia and flooding the state treasury.

“The cream has been skimmed off the top,” said Leonid Fedun, the billionaire deputy chief executive officer of Lukoil, Russia’s second-largest oil company. “Further steps require taxes based on different principles,” or production will start falling within three years, he said.

Any cuts in the oil and gas industry’s 5.64 trillion rubles ($190 billion) in taxes mean less cash to combat the biggest anti-government protests since the 1990s. Deputy Energy Minister Sergey Kudryashov said Feb. 2 the need to strike a balance between revenue and oil output levels is one of the most difficult questions facing the state.

“Being the world’s largest energy producer keeps Russia at the top table of global politics, that’s why it is non- negotiable,” Chris Weafer, chief strategist at Moscow-based investment bank Troika Dialog, said in a phone interview. “While a lot of rhetoric will be about reform and diversification, maintaining oil output is so important that it doesn’t have to be stated.”

Opinion Polls

Putin, seeking a return to the presidency in March 4 elections, leads polls with about 55 percent voter support, according to a survey of 1,600 voters by the All-Russian Center for the Study ofPublic Opinion. Communist leader Gennady Zyuganov polled 9 percent and Vladimir Zhirinovskyof the nationalist Liberal Democrat Party 8 percent.

The oil and gas industry accounted for almost 50 percent of the state’s income in 2011, and Rosneft’s tax bill last year ran to about half its $92 billion revenue.

Russia’s Soviet-era Siberian fields are maturing, and producers face eroding profitability related to the higher cost of maintaining output. Crude extraction in the Khanty Mansiysk region of western Siberia, which began in 1964 and now contributes roughly half of Russia’s oil, fell 1.7 percent in 2010, according to the regional government’s website.

Declining Prospects

The prospect of decline can be seen on the Moscow stock exchange. Rosneft, the state-controlled company that’s the biggest oil producer, dropped 17 percent in Moscow trading over the past year, a time when crude prices gained by 13 percent to about $120 a barrel.

The Moscow-based company was downgraded at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG and Troika Dialog this year on concern capital spending is rising on fields and refineries as production stalls.

“We have difficulty finding catalysts for the stocks amid elevated capex levels,” analysts at Troika said. Lukoil slid 4.3 percent during the past year, while TNK-BP gained 3.2 percent.

Oil producers want tax breaks to boost returns from bringing new fields on line and spending on existing deposits. Rosneft has pushed for tax breaks before deciding to develop the Yurubcheno-Takhomskogo site in East Siberia. OAO Gazprom (GAZP) Neft, the oil arm of the world’s largest gas producer, has threatened to slow work on three remote fields because of taxes.

Without tax holidays five years ago Russia would already be in decline, Lukoil’s Fedun said.

Oil Funds

Russia used windfall revenue to build two oil funds to more than $225 billion in December 2008, cash Putin used to bail out the banking industry during the global credit crunch and fund deficits that grew from increased spending on weapons, pensions and railways.

Putin, who wants a return to the presidency after four years as prime minister, is unlikely to receive a second oil windfall. Reserves in the two funds dropped to $150 billion at the end of January.

“Two to three percentage points of our annual growth used to come from the oil and gas sector,” then Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said during a meeting with members of Putin’s All- Russia People’s Front in June. “That’s just gone now.”

Russia’s strategy to keep output above 10 million barrels a day for the next decade will initially depend on its ability to increase the amount recovered from existing fields, Kudryashov said. No major projects are scheduled to come on stream in the next four to five years, he said.

Pinning Hopes

After that, Russia is pinning its hopes on the development of untapped deposits in eastern Siberia and the Arctic. The state will create a special regime for its offshore deposits, Kudryashov said.

Reductions in tax rates on crude exports, introduced last year, which increased profitability of mature deposits, have helped. Producers’ ability to slow decline rates at older fields underpinned Russia’s surprise record output last year, Troika Dialog wrote in research on Jan. 10. The bank expects the trend to continue and forecasts marginal output growth this year to 10.4 million barrels a day.

It may be difficult for companies to sustain this without accelerating developments, said Alexei Kokin, an analyst at Uralsib Financial Corp. said.

Forecasts for a plateau in oil production around current levels for the next decade “may be a bit optimistic,” said Kokin. “All the risks are to the downside.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Bierman in Moscow atsbierman1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Will Kennedy at wkennedy3@bloomberg.net

New game on West Asian chessboard

New game on West Asian chessboard


For India, whose stakes are high not just in Syria but the entire region, the time has come to demonstrate a new form of non-alignment, between Saudi Arabia and Iran

In an article published in The Hindu titled “Syria, slow descent into chaos,” (November 19, 2011), I wrote about the danger of Syria being slowly engulfed in a civil war. By now, the civil war is well set.

Two facts are evident in the situation in Syria. The “international community” is determined to topple Bashar Al Assad’s regime, and there is heavy and undisguised involvement of external forces, with active encouragement and assistance including financing and arming of anti-regime elements. There are reports of Libyan fighters having been brought to join the dissidents in Syria. The Al Assad regime — the father and the son — has been a thorn in the side of some countries, especially Israel — and hence America — because of its alliance with Iran and resultant backing of the Hezbollah, its alleged role in the assassination of pro-West Prime Minister of Lebanon Rafiq Hariri in 2005, its initial alleged support of the Baathists in Iraq, as well as its continuing alliance with Russia. (Did the Cold War never really end or has it revived?) Saudi Arabia, which has never been comfortable with Syria because of its tendency to follow an “independent” line, was particularly upset with Bashar following the murder of Hariri, who was a protégé of the Saudi ruling family. Given Saudi domination in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it is logical for this group also to be opposed to Syria.

The Turkey factor

When the United States, major European countries and nearly all Arab states, the largest repositories of crude oil, combine against him, what chance does Bashar have? How long can he hold out? The Russians and Chinese can perhaps help in preventing sanctions being imposed on Syria in the Security Council, and Russia can give Assad more weapons because they have their own interests in the Middle East, not least being the Syrian port of Tartous on the Mediterranean. But once the dissidents in Syria manage to seize control over some territory anywhere in the country, the external involvement will become decisive in tilting the scales against Bashar, as happened in Libya. In addition to acquiring a foothold in some parts of Syria, the opposition would also need to put together a coalition of their own so that foreign aid can be channelled to them — again on the lines of what happened in Libya. Once the objective of getting rid of the regime is achieved, the opposition can go back to squabbling among themselves, once again like in Libya.

What we are witnessing in relation to Syria is a manifestation of the great game in the Middle East, namely the Shia-Sunni hostility which translates largely into Iran-Saudi Arabia rivalry, but in some respects it transcends that. Turkey, for example, cannot be on the side of Saudi Arabia in so far as the competition for dominance in the region is concerned because Turkey has its own ambitions in this regard. Turkey has joined — in fact it is the major regional power in the anti-Assad coalition — because of several reasons, the anti-Shia campaign, the Syrian support for PKK, the banned Kurdish party in Turkey and Syria’s lack of gratitude for Turkey’s good offices for hosting the negotiations with Israel.

It may be recalled that a few years ago, the U.S. had encouraged the formation of a coalition of moderate Sunni states in confrontation with Iran. There are reports of the Sunnis in Iraq readying themselves to go to the aid of their fellow Sunnis in Syria. Al-Qaeda is waiting in the wings to acquire one more base in the region which ought to give considerable discomfort to the monarchy in Jordan.

Support for Assad

There are a few factors working for Bashar Al Assad also. He continues to enjoy popular support in the country. Forty per cent of Syria’s population consists of minorities of different kinds, all of whom are united in not wanting a hard-line Sunni establishment taking over power in the country. The army, which is largely Sunni though the officer corps consists mainly of Alawites, is by and large, still loyal to the regime. The number of defectors is most likely exaggerated in the western media. And then there is diplomatic and limited military support from Russia. He can also count on the strong support of Iran which itself has a huge stake in Bashar’s survival, but it is not clear how helpful Iran’s support means in practical terms. He can also perhaps enlist the Hezbollah on his side to make life a bit difficult for Israel, but the same may not be true of Hamas whose leadership is making its own calculations on the advisability of continuing to put all its eggs in the Assad basket. Bashar also presumably continues to have enough leverage to destabilise Lebanon, and not only through the Hezbollah. On the whole, however, the odds are stacked against Bashar. His capacity to fight the combined onslaught is not unlimited; his finances are dwindling just as those of his opponents are increasing and will increase even more, and his diplomatic supporters might not stand by his side for too long depending on what other pieces come into play on the international chess board,

One more fact is certain. Bashar Al Assad is not going to give up, because the stake for him is nothing short of his life. Bashar could hold out for much longer than expected. Once again the analogy of Libya comes to mind. This means prolonged civil conflict which will take the lives of thousands. That region is not unfamiliar to civil war, Lebanon having endured 14 years of a bloodbath among its various confessions. If he concludes that the army will always remain with him, he will decide to fight it out, but that cannot last too long because of diminishing coffers, etc. Will he then seek refuge abroad?

Russia’s last ditch effort to bring all Syrians parties together around a negotiating table reminds one of the desperate attempt to stall the first Gulf War in 1991 when Primakov, a former Prime Minister and the best Soviet expert on Arab affairs and a friend of Saddam, tried, unsuccessfully, to persuade Saddam Hussein to make some compromise gesture. The present effort also is not likely to succeed, first because the opposition is divided and second because the opposition has much more to gain by not cooperating with Russia and remaining on the side of the U.S. and the rich Gulf states. What can Russia offer to the dissidents? The other side can offer a great deal. Further, Bashar has made it difficult for those who might wish to help him for their own reasons by failing to carry out reforms which he has had ample time to implement since succeeding his father a decade ago. Since the principal though indirect target of the anti-Assad movement is Iran, there is almost no chance of the Russian effort succeeding. Similarly, the difficulty with the Arab League idea of a U.N. peacekeeping operation is that it presupposes existence of peace or ceasefire which peacekeepers can keep or maintain. However unpalatable and deplorable, there may be no alternative to the civil conflict playing itself out until the bitter end.

The Arab Spring

The brief history of the phenomenon which goes by the dubious name of “Arab Spring” has established a clear trend. Every successive country involved in this development has witnessed increasing levels of violence. Tunisia’s was the least violent revolution. Egypt has suffered many more casualties than Tunisia. In Libya, hundreds and possibly thousands have died, in Yemen even more. The Syrian revolution, if it can be called that, has cost thousands of lives on both sides — it is essential to emphasise this point, the number of dead on the government side is not much smaller than on the opposition side — and will surely claim thousands more.

Muslim Brotherhood is the only party, besides the official Ba’ath party, with a reasonable base in Syria and will almost certainly be the largest beneficiary should the Assad government fall at some time. It is reported to be receiving large-scale help from some affluent Sunni governments. This ought to be a cause for concern for Israel, Jordan, Iraq and the West in general. However, for Israel, the highest priority is to isolate and weaken Iran; Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists can be dealt with later. It should be stated that Israel has every justification for its total hostility towards Iran, given some of the anti-Israeli statements of its leadership.

For India, the stakes are high, not so much in Syria by itself but in the whole region, especially the sub-region of the Gulf. As was mentioned by this writer in an article entitled: “The new great game” (The Hindu, April 28, 2011), India might have to practise a new form of non-alignment or dual alignment between Saudi Arabia and Iran. The time for this has come. Continued instability in Syria might make the region unstable, affecting the production and export of oil, and, most importantly, the situation of the six-million Indian diaspora working in the region. India’s vote in favour of the resolution which was vetoed by Russia and China on February 4 should not be seen as “no longer sitting on the fence”; rather, it was, one likes to think, a demonstration of our readiness to adapt our positions to changed circumstances. Consistency is not a virtue in international relations. It is quite possible that future challenges might produce yet different responses.

(The writer served as India’s special envoy for the Middle East and is a former U.N. Under Secretary General.)

Libya Is Peaceful Enough for the Return of Soccer

International matches return to Libya


Reuters) – International soccer will return to Libya on Monday when local clubs Al Nasr Benghazi and Al Ahli Tripoli meet CSKA Sofia in matches that will mark the first anniversary of the revolution, the Libyan embassy in Bulgaria said.

The 31-times Bulgarian champions will become the first foreign team to play in the African country after the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi’s rule erupted on February 17 last year.

“We are very grateful to the Bulgarian team, who agreed to participate in this historic event for Libya,” the embassy told Reuters by email on Sunday.

The Libyan league has been suspended since last February but clubs have continued to play in continental competitions, by forfeiting their right to play at home in knockout ties, which were reduced to a single match at their opponent’s ground.

The national team used Mali and Egypt as their home grounds in the Nations Cup qualifiers but still managed to reach the finals, which were co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.

CSKA visit Libya for the first time since the 1960s when the team took part in an international tournament.

The matches will take place at the “Benina Martyrs” stadium in the eastern town of Benghazi, which is about 1,000 kms east of the capital Tripoli with capacity crowds expected for all games.

Haitham Saliman Mahmoud, a member of the organising committee, told Reuters by telephone that a three-way tournament would be played on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Asked why a Bulgarian side had been invited, he replied: “This tournament is organised by a political party and they have business relations with the CSKA president so they offered to play this tournament and he accepted.”

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Additional reporting by Osama Khairy; Editing by John Mehaffey)

US Negotiations with Taliban Looking for A Way Out, NOT for Afghan Peace

Afghan Opposition Leader: No Change in Taliban Ambitions

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Afghan political figure stressed the failure of the so-called peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia’s efforts in pushing the Taliban leadership ahead, and underlined that the Taliban has maintained its belligerent nature and aspirations and is the same group as it was before 2001.

“The growing number of suicide attacks shows that the Taliban has the same ‘Islamic Emirate’ in mind and is seeking to overthrow the existing system,” Afghan opposition leader Abdullah Abdullah said in an interview with FNA.

“That is what it had sought before 2001 (when it was ousted from power),” the former Afghan foreign minister stated, adding that the group enjoys the same supporters as it had before.

He rejected the necessity for the establishment of a Taliban office in Doha or any other place outside Afghanistan.

Abdullah further stressed the necessity for negotiations with Taliban for the establishment of peace, and added, “We want negotiations with Taliban under the supervision of the United Nations and on Afghan soil.”

Afghan officials say that talks between the US and the Taliban in Qatar will not result in the establishment of peace in Afghanistan since the talks are in pursuit of the US interests.

“It seems unlikely that these talks (US-Taliban talks in Qatar) lead to the establishment of peace because the US objectives in the region lie in the most central part of the talks,” Soror Javadi told FNA in January.

“The US is seeking to stir military tension in Afghanistan and Pakistan in a bid to achieve its larger goal that is controlling the region,” he noted.

Earlier in January, Taliban announced that they had struck a deal to open a political office in Qatar that could allow for direct negotiations.

Some analysts are skeptical of the prospects for meaningful peace negotiations with the Taliban.

The developments came as Pakistani media revealed that the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has removed the name of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar from the list of “most wanted terrorists.”

The report came following Washington’s secret meetings with the Taliban after one decade of war. US officials have held several meetings with representatives of the Afghan Taliban leader, headed by Tayyib Agha, in Germany and Qatar over the past months.

During the meetings, the US and Taliban negotiators reached a deal to transfer five Taliban militants, who are under custody in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, to Qatar. The removal of Mullah Omar’s name from the terror list comes after the prisoner deal.

The founder of the Taliban, Mullah Omar, has been in hiding since the 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Parachinar Blast Blows Away Bullshit About Army Peacekeeping in Kurram–the Army IS the Problem

[SEE:  Is Kurram Offensive Just Another Soap Opera?]

Parachinar blast

SECTARIAN terrorism returned to the volatile Kurram Agency on Friday when over 30 people were killed in a suspected suicide attack in a Parachinar market. Among the dead were protesters the security forces reportedly fired upon following the explosion. The incident has severely jolted the fragile government-backed peace accord that has held between the area’s Shia and Sunni populations. Normality was slowly returning to the neglected region and displaced families from both communities had begun to return to their native areas. The arterial Thall-Parachinar road, which was reopened in October last year after several years of closure due to militant attacks, has been closed indefinitely. Though the road was still largely unsafe for civilians, traffic had been running as people had no choice, considering it is the only viable route connecting the region with the rest of Pakistan.

There are quite a few unanswered questions about this incident. Firstly, how could a bomber sneak past the considerable security presence in the area?

It is also unacceptable that security forces fired on protesters when effective non-lethal methods of crowd control exist. And while militant Fazal Saeed, who leads his own faction of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the attack because “the Shia community of Parachinar were involved in activities against us”, many are circumspect about this claim.
Though Saeed is a notorious militant, other factors need to be considered and the bombing needs to be investigated, as the mainstream TTP’s involvement — which is at odds with the Saeed faction — cannot be ruled out. The bombing may have been the result of intra-militant feuds and the Fazal Saeed claim may be a false flag. Whoever is responsible must be brought to justice and militants of all stripes in Kurram need to be eliminated. As we have said before, it is the state’s responsibility — specifically that of the security forces — to keep the Thall-Parachinar road open and safe for travel and to neutralise the militants.

Unfortunately, the security establishment has failed miserably on all these counts, to the detriment of the people of Kurram. It needs to act now to prevent the resumption of sectarian violence in the agency.

Rohrabacher’s Pressler moment

Rohrabacher’s Pressler moment


By Fahd Husain

Dana Rohrabacher has just become a meddlesome villain. But is he a lone ranger, or is something more sinister cooking in Washington DC?

The resolution that Rohrabacher has introduced in the US House of Representatives calling upon Pakistan to recognise the Baloch right of self-determination is an outrageous act of provocation. It is shocking in content, and deliberately insensitive in wording. And it will wreck the atmosphere prior to the debate on the new rules of engagement that Pakistan has put together to deal with the United States.

But clearly there is more to it than a US politician looking to back an issue which can guarantee him headlines. Rohrabacher would like nothing more than to grab centre-stage in the volatile arena of Pakistan-US relations. Remember Larry Pressler? He was a random US politician who introduced an amendment in the 1980’s calling for US aid to be cut to Pakistan if the US president certified that Pakistan had crossed the nuclear threshold. The piece of legislation came to be known as the Pressler Amendment, and it kicked into effect when George Bush the Elder decided it was time to squeeze Pakistan. The Pressler Amendment, and its author, single-handedly soiled Pakistan-US ties for almost a decade. Rohrabacher is now donning the Pressler mantle. But the repercussions of his mischief have the potential to be far more damaging than Pressler’s. He is, in fact, reinforcing the widely-held impression that the US is out to destroy Pakistan.

Let’s not use the word ‘destroy’ lightly. It conjures up images of what the Americans did in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. It paints a picture of bombing sorties, burnt out cities, tens of thousands killed and a country reduced to a wasteland. Transplant these images on to Pakistan and it send shivers down your spine. This is the worst case scenario.

What is possible though is the triggering of a series of events which can snowball into unpredictable situations. In fact, the unthinkable has already started: a very public and a very acrimonious debate on the demand for an independent Balochistan. As long as such a debate was confined to private conversation, or a limited section of the very local and regional press, it could be ignored. Such a debate, based on such demands, never reached a stage where it could be taken seriously. Yes Baloch have genuine grievances, yes they had suffered from criminal neglect, and yes their alienation from Islamabad was never really seriously addressed, but the simmering situation remained on the fringes of our national discourse.

Not anymore. By plucking this issue from the fringes and placing it bang centre in Washington DC, Rohrabacher has transformed the dynamics of the entire issue within a month. The resolution he has just introduced will ensure that this debate gains traction, both in the American and Pakistani media.

What do we do? Issuing condemnations is not enough. Our outrage at this blatant interference in our affairs should be heard loud and clear. The US government will try and distance itself from Rohrabacher and mouth the usual statements. Our parliament will probably pass a counter-resolution and pile pressure on the hapless Gilani government to rake Washington over coals. This is all for public consumption, and there isn’t much wrong in doing so.

But the real task is two-fold: First, get our facts clear on Rohrabacher, his resolution, and what’s happening at his back. If ever, a deep behind-the-scenes information on what’s cooking in Washington DC was ever required, it is now. Our new ambassador has a huge challenge on her hands. Second, and more important, is for us to get a grip on the situation in Balochistan, which is spiralling out of control with each passing day. Killing and counter-killings now seem locked in a vicious cycle which no one is able to stop. Despite extreme positions, the door to dialogue needs to open. Rules of engagement need to be spelt out, and the Establishment needs to change tack.

Rohrabacher is indulging in villainy because we are providing him fodder. He is exploiting our weakness. Let’s condemn him for what he is doing, but at the same time douse the flames that we have lit ourselves.

Published in The Express Tribune

Special Forces Needs Race Cars–Enter NASCAR

[Admiral McRaven is intent on turning the Special Forces into a bunch of superheroes, equipped with the latest Mission Impossible gadgetry, to supplement their UAV networks and A-Team plans to create a bunch of roving bands of warrior-priests or knights-paladin, a force of do-gooders sent forth to right the wrongs of the world.  This deal with NASCAR will equip them with souped-up hot rods and fire retardant clothing for their superhero outfits, as well as the mechanical training sometimes needed to service their fleet of comic book supercars.  Eventually, this “new Army” mentality is supposed to infect the entire Army, so that they will all consider themselves to be hyper-patriotic American avengers.]

NASCAR, U.S. Army Special Ops announce strategic partnership

By Kenny Bruce

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR and the military have always enjoyed a close relationship, but it will be closer than ever with a collaborative effort that was announced Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue, Lt. Gen. John F. Mulholland and NASCAR President Mike Helton made the announcement of a strategic alliance between the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and NASCAR.

The alliance, while broad-based, will target specific needs of the military such as engine performance, fuel and power supplies, vehicle blast modeling, simulation, seat design, aerodynamics and suspension for its vehicles, as well as flame resistant clothing and driver training.

“What we have learned in our community, and I see it in this industry is, is you put a bunch of smart guys together in the same room, they’re gong to come up with solutions and techniques to achieve those solutions that we never would have thought of,” Lt. Gen Mulholland said.

“Literally, this is our first step. What we realized is we need to make this collaboration happen. The next step is to figure out what the processes are. … We’ve already had some of that.”

Gov. Perdue called the Memorandum of Agreement – made possible by the N.C. Department of Commerce, the N.C. Military Foundation, the N.C. Motorsports Advisory Council and USASOC Mobility – a “historic partnership” that “will have worldwide implications.

“It improves safety and performance of military vehicles for our troops and creates jobs and investment opportunities in North Carolina,” she said.

Lance DeSpain, executive director of the N.C. Military Foundation, said today’s soldiers face specific challenges in the field that require “new and innovative solutions.”

Working with the motorsports community, he said, would not only provide new ideas, but would likely cut down the amount of time those ideas can become a reality.

“Our motorsports community are the best in the world at solving similar challenges and they do it every day,” he said. “And they do it quickly. Today, when our special operators ask for vehicle modifications, the new product or technology response time can take as long as six years. In the racing world, we’ve come to learn six days is often the amount of time you get to get to the finish line.”

Karzai Met With Taliban Supporter Cleric On Saturday, After Friday’s Rebuff from Pakistani Govt.

[Karzai is attempting an end-run around the Pak. Govt., as he tries to set-up Taliban meet, after Zardari said they couldn’t help with the connection.  Karzai may or may not be doing America’s will in this matter–time will tell.]


A Pakistani cleric with ties to Afghanistan’s Taliban says he has met with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who asked for his help in getting the insurgents to the negotiating table.

Maulana Samiul Haq said he told Karzai Saturday in Pakistan that he would help so long as it was clear what was wanted from the Taliban.

Haq runs a large seminary where many of the insurgent leaders once studied and reportedly still provides recruits for the Taliban fighting in Afghanistan.

Karzai’s meeting suggests he is pressing ahead with moves to contact the Taliban inside Pakistan.

On Friday, he asked Pakistan’s civilian and military leaders for help, but the meeting did not apparently make much progress.

Even If Pakistan Really Can’t Produce Mullah Omar, It Can Produce Mullah Baradar

Afghanistan, Pakistan poles apart following trilateral summit over Karzai’s Taliban demand fiasco

Islamabad, Sat, 18 Feb 2012ANI

Islamabad, Feb 18 (ANI): Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s blunt demand to Pakistan for bringing Taliban leaders to the negotiating table has shocked the political and military leadership in Islamabad, keeping both countries poles apart in terms of reconciliation with the Taliban even after two days of high-level talks.


“Deliver Mullah Omar? If that is the expectation, then there’s no reality check then. Then they’re not only unrealistic, but preposterous,” these were the words of Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar over Karzai’s demands.


Khar’s words on Friday summed up how a trip hailed by Karzai as the most important in the past decade concluded without any solution, The Express Tribune reports.


Pakistan was quick to play down the hype of its role, saying that, even though it is in favour of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process, it has never spelt out its strategy.


A wide range of issues including counter-terrorism and other regional matters were discussed between President Asif Ali Zardari, President Hamid Karzai and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the trilateral summit.


Zardari brushed aside allegations that Pakistan’s security establishment was supporting the Taliban in attacks against coalition forces stationed in Afghanistan.


“I deny this notion that any of our armed forces are directly or indirectly involved,” Zardari added. (ANI)

Taliban Responsible for Martyring 36 Shia in Parachinar, Pakistan

Taliban Responsible for Martyring 36 Shia in Parachinar, Pakistan – Updated


The toll in the Parachinar blast occurred on Friday increased to thirty-six when six critically injured victims succumbed to their injuries on Saturday, Geo News reported.

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) – The toll in the Parachinar blast occurred on Friday increased to thirty-six when six critically injured victims succumbed to their injuries on Saturday, Geo News reported.

According to sources, two injured persons martyred today in Lady Reading Hospital while four others in different hospitals that pushed the toll to 36.

The funeral of the victims who martyred on Friday in a suicide attack here will be offered today in their ancestral areas, Geo News reported. Business hubs and markets of the area were closed in mourning.

Thirty people were martyred and around 54 others injured in a suicide attack and subsequent firing by security forces on those who protested the incident at a busy market outside a mosque in Parachinar city, the headquarters of Kurram Agency on Friday.

Wahhabi Militant commander Fazal Saeed Haqqani, who had recently quit the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) led by Hakimullah Mahsud and formed his own faction, the TTP Islahi, claimed responsibility for the Parachinar attack.


A Wahhabi suicide bomber targeted the Shia traders’ dominated market in the Parachinar area of Kurram Agency on Friday martyred at least 28 Shia Muslims and wounding more than 47 others in the bloody suicide blast in the Kurram Agency headquarter Parachinar.

According to reports from Kurram Agency, The bomb exploded at Main Market of Parachinar has badly damaged the shops in the market as a result of the blast targeted the Shia Muslims of the tribal area.

“It was a suicide attack. Many killed and injured,” a senior Pakistani security official confirmed.

The Shia elders of the kurram agency claimed that the suicide bomber was coming from the Farooqia Mosuqe (Masjid-e-Zarar) a bastion of Wahabi Taliban terrorists situated at main market targeted the Shia Muslims of Parachinar claims 8 lives.

The Shia dominated Parachinar is the main town in Kurram Agency, part of Pakistan’s tribal belt on the northwestern border with Afghanistan that was suffering the bloody sectarian violence from the Saudi-backed Taliban and Wahbais against the Shia Muslims from last three decades.

Security forces cordoned off the area after the blast. Rescue teams reached at the scene soon after the blast and shifted bodies and injured people to hospital. Emergency has been imposed in district headquarter hospital.

Threats to US: Pentagon officials drop three surprises

Threats to US: Pentagon officials drop three surprises

As the Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and America’s top military officer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey fielded budget questions on Capitol Hill Thursday, the Pentagon’s key intelligence officials were warning of ‘current and future worldwide threats’ to US national security in another less-attended hearing. Here are three top surprises that they acknowledged to lawmakers.

– Anna Mulrine, Staff writer

From left, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, CIA Director David Petraeus, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess take their seats on Capitol Hill in Washingtonlast month prior to testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File)

1. ‘Radical’ elements in US forces

Senior US military and intelligence officials are warning of their growing concern that rogue “radical” elements are operating – or preparing to operate – “within the ranks” of the intelligence community and armed forces.

“The potential for trusted US government and contractor insiders using their authorized access to personnel, facilities, information, equipment, networks or information systems in order to cause great harm is becoming an increasingly serious threat to our national security,” said Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Trusted insiders now have unprecedented access to US government information and resources in secure work environments,” he added.

He warned of those who have become “self-radicalized,” as well as “lone wolves,” particularly “within our ranks.”

As a result, the DIA and other Pentagon offices are developing an “insider threat” document, designed to identify perils from within. Burgess pointed to the “recent massive WikiLeaksdisclosure,” which, he charged, “compromises our national security and also endangers lives.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper listens to a question while testifying on Capitol Hill in Washington last month. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP/File)

2. Doubts about Iran’s nuclear ambitions

Despite the hype surrounding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, the country’s leaders are “not likely” to develop weapons unless attacked, the panel said.

The same goes for plans to close the vital Strait of Hormuz waterway, according to General Burgess. Though Iran can close the strait (“at least temporarily”), launch missiles, and even tap terrorist surrogates worldwide “if attacked,” military-intelligence officials assess that it is “unlikely to initiate or unintentionally provoke a conflict.”

What’s more, senior intelligence officials expressed some doubt that Iranian officials are actively interested in developing a nuclear weapon.

Said James Clapper, director of national intelligence (DNI): “There are certain things that they have not yet done and have not done for some time.”

On this point, the panel was robustly challenged by some lawmakers. “I’m very convinced that they’re going down the road to developing a nuclear weapon,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina.

Still, the Pentagon officials stuck to their analysis. Though Iran has enough highly enriched uranium to build a weapon “if political leaders chose to do so,” Burgess explained, he said that the prospect of stepped-up sanctions is frightening to Iranian officials. “I don’t think they want a nuclear weapon at any price.”

Intelligence officials have raised questions about the the ability of the Afghan National Army, shown here at a weapons exhibition in Kabul, to operate independent of NATO. (Omar Sobhani/REUTERS/File)

3. Too pessimistic about Afghanistan?

US intelligence officials openly acknowledge that they upset some US military officials with overly “pessimistic” assessments of the war.

Mr. Clapper told lawmakers that some senior military officials “took issue” with the DNI’s national intelligence estimate, which they “generally felt” was not positive enough. The commanders felt “generally it was pessimistic about the situation in Afghanistan … and the prospects for 2014,” when most US forces are slated to leave the country.

For example, the assessment pointed to “persistent qualitative challenges” within the Afghan security forces that “continue to impede their development into an independent, self-sustaining security apparatus.” What’s more, it pointed out that the Afghan National Army’s reliance on NATO“for many critical combat enabling functions underscores its inability to operate independently.”

In what might be considered a hallmark of faint praise, the intelligence assessment pointed out that, “nevertheless, Afghanistan’s population generally favors the Army over the police” – a force seen by many Afghans as corrupt.

In defending his seemingly dour assessments, Clapper shared with lawmakers his recollections of being an intelligence analyst in 1966 for Gen. William Westmoreland, commander of US forces inVietnam war. The experience, he said, caused him to lose his “operational innocence.”

He also recalled serving as chief of intelligence during Operation Desert Storm. Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf “protested long and loud” about the accuracy of intelligence that “didn’t comport with his view.”

Intelligence officials tend to wrestle with “glass half empty” scenarios, Clapper said. “I don’t find it a bad thing.”

Russia Offers To Finance and Build Iran-Pakistan “Peace Pipeline”

Pak-Iran gas pipeline: Russia wants contract without bidding

Also offers to finance the cost of pipeline construction.

ISLAMABAD: Amid pressure from the United States to shelve the much-needed Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline project, Russia has asked Pakistan to award a $1.2 billion pipeline-laying contract to its energy giant Gazprom without going into bidding process.

“If Pakistan accepts the demand of Russia and awards the contract to Gazprom, the largest explorer of natural gas in the world, Moscow will also provide financing for the project,” an official told The Express Tribune.

Moscow floated the proposal during a four-day trip of Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Russia earlier this month.

“However, Pakistan has not shown any willingness to grant the contract without inviting bids from competing parties, which will violate its Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) rules,” the official said.

An official of the petroleum ministry told The Express Tribune that Russia expressed interest in the Iran pipeline project, but he did not confirm whether Moscow sought the contract for Gazprom without bidding. Petroleum secretary could not be reached for comment.

Sources said the US opposition to Iranian gas supply to Pakistan also came up for discussion during Khar’s visit. The US has imposed sanctions on Iran due to suspicions over its nuclear programme while Tehran insists that its programme is peaceful and meant for energy supply.

Though Russian authorities expressed worry over the US pressure, they supported Iran and Pakistan in pushing ahead with the project, sources said.

Pakistan has already formally invited the Russian giant Gazprom to participate in two multi-billion-dollar gas pipeline projects – Iran-Pakistan and Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipelines.

In a meeting of the Pak-Russia Inter-Governmental Commission held on September 22, 2010 in Russia, Pakistan invited Gazprom to lay the Iran-Pakistan gas pipeline. Earlier during deliberations in August 2010 in Russia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari also discussed the option of involving Gazprom in the pipeline project.

Gazprom has also expressed interest in building energy storages in Pakistan.

At present, Pakistan is facing mounting pressure from the US to shelve the Iran pipeline project. Besides, there are financing problems as well. Country’s largest explorer Oil and Gas Development Company (OGDC) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) have already refused to finance the project.

OGDC management fears that its foreign shareholders will withdraw investment from the company if it entered the Iranian project while NBP is worried that its foreign branches may come under US sanctions and may be closed.

Pakistan and Iran have already signed a sovereign-guarantee agreement on the project. They have also inked a gas sale and purchase agreement for import of 750 million cubic feet of gas per day (mmcfd) with a provision to increase the volume to 1 billion cubic feet per day.

Under the guarantee agreement, Pakistan is bound to start first flow of gas in 2014 and will have to pay a penalty equal to the cost of 750 mmcfd of gas which amounts to $8 million per day if it fails to receive gas by the stipulated time.

The government has awarded consultancy services contract to German firm ILF Engineering Services at a cost of $55 million which is working in collaboration with the National Engineering Services of Pakistan (Nespak).

Published in The Express Tribune

Total Disinformation Piece–Another Smokescreen from Pakistan’s Controlled Press

[Keeping with the official ISI policy of relying on Pakistani forgetfulness and recycling reported arrests of its most notorious terrorists, the following reported arrest of ISI Faisalabad office “mastermind” relies upon two recycled terrorists, Abdur Rehman and Qari Usman.  Rehman was reportedly killed in a shoot-out with Indian forces in Kashmir, on October 3, 2011.  The report below claims that Qari Usman was arrested after the March 8, 2011 blast, but he was later photographed at another arrest for chaining 68 boys to the floor of his madrassa in Karachi on December 14, 2011.  This totally fabricated cover story intended to whitewash ISI mistakes is much like the repeated deaths of Ilyas Kashmiri (who will no doubt return from the dead again, whenever it is convenient to do so).]  

‘Mastermind’ of suicide attack at ISI Faisalabad office arrested

Published: February 18, 2012

Vehicle lies mangled at the site of the blast last year. PHOTO: FILE

FAISALABAD: Faisalabad police claimed to have arrested the alleged mastermind of the suicide attack at Inter Services Intelligence’s (ISI) Faisalabad office on March 8, 2011, in which at least 34 people were killed while another 90, including an ISI official, were injured.

Abdur Rehman alias Kaka was arrested on a tip-off from Jameel Town, in the vicinity of Ghulam Muhammad Abad police station, by a special police team headed by DSP Gulberg Ashiq Jatt.

The accused was presented before the Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) No. 1, where Judge Ishtiaq Ahmad granted the police six days’ physical remand for interrogation.

Rehman was arrested in light of the information provided by another accused, Qari Usman during interrogation, who had been arrested in an injured condition from the site of the blast.

The suspect planted a bomb in a car which exploded at a CNG station situated adjacent to an ISI and Military Intelligence (MI) office in Faisalabad, killing 25 people on the spot, while another nine later succumbed to their injuries.

Many of those injured were trapped under debris for hours or hit by shrapnel, after the blast reduced the building to rubble. Most casualties were recovered from the site of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) building and gas station which also suffered heavy damage.

Additionally, 35 vehicles were destroyed in the blast that created a 10-foot deep crater at the site.

The then City Police Officer (CPO) Faisalabad Dr Usman Anwar stated that about 150 kilograms of explosive material was used in a silver-coloured Mehran by the attackers, the target being the ISI building.

A six-member team of the Counter Terrorism Wing (CTW) of the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) had collected samples of the explosive material from the crime scene and sent them to Islamabad for analysis. The cause of the blast was a remote device and it created a crater around four feet deep and 10 to 12 feet wide.

Published in The Express Tribune

Congressman Rohrabacher’s Balochistan Hearing/Political Stunt–(reposted after disappearing)

[Rohrabacher also recently played host to Northern Alliance leaders at an alternative conference in Berlin, while the legitimate Afghan conference was being held by Obama representatives in Bonn.  Prominent among the guests at the alternative confab was former Afghan intelligence chief, Amrullah Saleh, who also has advocated “poisoning the grass” in Pakistan, which produced the Taliban, as well as outright conflict with the Pak Army.]

“Stick it to the Pakistanis”

“I concluded that it wasn’t about human rights. Rather, it seemed that the people behind this hearing were pandering to diaspora politics just to tick off the Pakistanis at a time when the United States is trying to repair its tattered relationship with Pakistan,” witness Dr. C. Christine Fair said. – Photo by Malik Siraj Akbar/Dawn.com“I concluded that it wasn’t about human rights. Rather, it seemed that the people behind this hearing were pandering to diaspora politics just to tick off the Pakistanis at a time when the United States is trying to repair its tattered relationship with Pakistan,” witness Dr. C. Christine Fair said. – Photo by Malik Siraj Akbar/Dawn.com

In the days before last week’s Congressional hearing on Balochistan, Dr C. Christine Fair, an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University, was extremely critical of the proceedings, going so far as to call the hearing a “political stunt” and one of her fellow witnesses a “nut” in a series of Twitterexchanges.

At the time, Fair did not elaborate on what drove her to so publicly rebuke the hearing. It is only now that she is ready to set the record straight in defence of her statements amid what she calls “considerable harassment from some vocal members of the Baloch diaspora.”

The “stunt” heard round the world

According to Fair, her “political stunt” comment was prompted by a call from a sub-committee staff member. Fair had contacted him to solicit guidance for her upcoming testimony. In the course of their conversation, the staffer explained “we want to stick it to the Pakistanis.” The staffer further elaborated that the Pakistanis had been “killing our troops for ten years in Afghanistan.”

In Fair’s words, while she understood and even shared this person’s views on Pakistan’s relations with the United States over the past decade, this comment about the hearing made her “feel really uncomfortable about being roped into something that I would call a stunt. So, I wanted to make my position publicly known.”

Looking back on the comment, Fair is unapologetic: “Prior to accepting the request to serve as a witness, I was told this was a hearing about human rights violations and other issues needed to understand the various crises in Balochistan. But, based upon that brief phone conversation, I concluded that it wasn’t about human rights. Rather, it seemed that the people behind this hearing were pandering to diaspora politics just to tick off the Pakistanis at a time when the United States is trying to repair its tattered relationship with Pakistan.”

Fair’s comments did not go unnoticed. Elements of the Baloch diaspora, who Fair called “a bunch of extremists,” took extreme exception to the comments, especially onTwitter. In her words, they then “subjected me to an array of bullying and obnoxious assaults, many of which also tagged Congressman (Dana) Rohrabacher (R – CA).”

This avalanche of tweets protesting Fair’s participation in the hearing ultimately brought the matter to Rohrabacher’s office. On the Monday prior to the hearing, the staff member who had been coordinating with Fair reached out to her again to convey his displeasure: “He called to take a piece out of my hide. I requested that he explain to the Congressperson why I called the hearing a stunt, namely this staffer’s explanation that they wanted to stick it to the Pakistanis.” However, in her assessment, the staffer “did not have the testicular fortitude to explain the comment to Rohrabacher.”

A “nut” by any other name

Fair’s characterisation of Ralph Peters, a fellow witness, as a “nut” also rankled many proponents of Baloch interests, including at least one staff member affiliated with the hearing. According to Fair, during the aforementioned phone call, the angered Congressional staff member explained that he was taken aback that Fair dismissed Peters as a nut. He added that he had never previously experienced one witness attacking another before the hearing.

In recounting that exchange, Fair remains vivacious in her defence. She points out that she actually called Peters “a certified, flipping nut because only a nut would advocate the dismembering of a sovereign state based upon the views of one community in a province.” She then explains the reasoning for her steadfast opposition to Peters: “If this Congressional subcommittee remotely intended to try to use the hearing to put pressure on Pakistan for its human rights record in Balochistan, they should not have included someone who calls for the halving of their country.”

Biting the hand that invites you

Fair acknowledges that her comments were the impetus for the uncomfortable exchange with Rohrabacher at the hearing’s conclusion. Rohrabacher, who looked her straight in the eye and explained “this was not a stunt,” appeared perturbed by her pre-hearing comments. He therefore, used the hearing as the forum to issue his rebuttal.

While Fair admits that she “might not be invited back to give testimony again,” she does not regret her actions. From her perspective, she needed to signal her concerns because “this was a hearing designed by a collection of guys – and possibly a woman or two – who share a strategic image of how the Afghanistan and Pakistan postures should interrelate. While they reflect the general frustration in Congress with Pakistan taking US money and supporting terrorism, their views about dismembering Pakistan do not reflect the larger sentiment in Congress on Pakistan. Their statements struck me as incredibly provocative, did nothing to advance human rights in Balochistan, and made a US-Pakistan rapprochement much more difficult.”

Fair also notes that Congressmen Rohrabacher and Louie Gohmert (R – TX) bear significant responsibility for undermining the hearing before it was ever held. She points to the Congressmen’s pre-hearing OpEd, which suggested the United States should openly support an independent Balochistan, as setting the wrong tone for a hearing purportedly on human rights.

Eddie Walsh is a senior foreign correspondent who covers Africa and Asia-Pacific. He also is a non-resident fellow at Pacific Forum CSIS. Follow him on Twitter here.

Elections in Turkmenistan – a play for the West


Elections in Turkmenistan – a play for the West


Emma Ustinov

The EU is already more than a year trying to reach an agreement on the purchase of Turkmen gas, turning a blind eye to the human rights situation in Turkmenistan, for which he was subjected to sharp criticism from human rights organizations. However, few human rights activists who are listening …

In Turkmenistan, an alternative presidential elections were held. Gone with the predictable result: the candidate, whose victory was never in doubt, is the current president , Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov . This second “alternative” choices in the country. The first President of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov twice “won” in uncontested presidential elections, and then became president for life.

In 2007 Berdimuhamedov opposed to five candidates. However, then they had to pay for it.According to human rights defenders, one of the candidates shortly after the election, was arrested and sentenced to long term, the other three were dismissed from their posts, and only one was able to “safely” to finish his career by going to retire.

At this time, apparently, “rivals” Berdymukhamedov will avoid the fate of successors, because, apparently, their participation in the action was approved and even encouraged.

According to the Central Election Commission of Turkmenistan, released on the eve of the election results of past president, Berdymukhamedov won 97.14 percent of the vote.

If in this case we can speak of progress, it should be noted that in the current presidential campaign, took part in not one but eight candidates. However, the feature of the election is that both the process of elections and the candidates – just decoration, built for performance, the audience which is the West.

But the surprising thing is that Western countries are quite happy, because the policy of the West of double standards often rests on the question of the availability of energy resources in some individual countries. In fact, the victory of the incumbent president of the country and benefit from both Moscow and Washington and Brussels, and Beijing. But only the West while trying on the one hand, to remain committed to Western values, but on the other, not to harm their energy security.

That election, to put it mildly, did not meet European standards, proved quite a few illustrative facts. First, it is very short – just over two months – amount of time allotted for the campaign.

Second, during the campaign meetings and meetings of the presidential candidates (all of them civil servants, among them – two ministers – Energy and Industry and Water Resources of the country) were in favor of Berdymukhamedov.

In addition, the news agency “Interfax-Kazakhstan” dated February 9, Turkmenistan has “unilaterally closed the border with Kazakhstan in connection with the presidential election.”This is clearly a step taken as part of measures to ensure holding of elections, as planned.

In addition, a very eloquent facts, such as the ongoing ban on registration of public associations, the lack of progress on the issue of political prisoners. It is important that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) refused to send observers to the elections, limiting the evaluation mission.

This is not surprising. In January, the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch World Report released in 2012. It is noted that under the current President of Turkmenistan remains one of the most repressive countries in the world. The document says that the country remains closed to independent monitoring, there are sharp limits on freedom of media and religion, human rights are constantly under threat of sanctions from the authorities. The UN Committee against Torture expressed concern about allegations of widespread torture and ill-treatment, as well as on cases of enforced disappearances of citizens.

Rated press freedom organization “Reporters without Borders” in Turkmenistan in 2010 was 176 out of 178.

However, the issue of human rights is displaced into the background of economic preferences: Turkmenistan holds the 4th place in the world reserves of natural gas to China and signed a number of large transactions.

The EU is already more than a year trying to reach an agreement on the purchase of Turkmen gas, turning a blind eye to the human rights situation in Turkmenistan, for which he was subjected to sharp criticism from human rights organizations.

However, few listens to human rights defenders. In fact, Turkmenistan and the West have entered a sort of unspoken agreement: Ashkhabad is trying to portray that in which the West is trying to believe.

For example, Berdimuhamedov said recently about the initiative, designed to make the political system of Turkmenistan more transparent. At the moment, on a legal basis in the country has only one political party, ironically, called the “Democratic”.

Adopted in mid-January, the law on political parties seem to be laying the foundation for the formation of multi-party political system in the country. “Citizens of Turkmenistan are accorded equal rights and equal opportunities are created for the creation of political parties and free participation in their activities,” – says one of the provisions of the law, published in the Official Gazette “Neutral Turkmenistan”.

However, all these changes are designed, primarily, to the West, and the second – on the people of Turkmenistan. The fact that all Central Asian leaders can not help worrying example of the “Arab spring” and to reduce the level of discontent, which is certainly present, Berdimuhamedov is ready to show some changes, while not risking anything special, and to assess the reasons for the growing discontent.

And the fact that there is discontent, recently were able to see everything.

Despite the desire of the authorities of Turkmenistan to hide information on strikes on a number of oil and gas companies in connection with the nonpayment of wages and rally against the demolition of housing in Ashgabat, found out about the world’s media.

The last straw was that after the explosion of ammunition depot in Abadan city residents, despite threats by the police and the Ministry of Security, sent photos and video footage showing the true extent of the damage to foreign media.

This led to a sensational statement made at the meeting on the day of the tragedy in Abadan, where the country’s president “invited” to the elections the opposition.

“We are ready to dialogue with the group calling itself the” opposition”. If any of their representatives wish to take part in the upcoming presidential election, he can safely travel to Turkmenistan. I guarantee that, for them, as for the citizens of our country, will be created equal conditions and opportunities for participation in the elections, “- these words of the Turkmen president delivered the news agencies.

However, the realization of the intentions of President until the light in question. However, in the case of Berdimuhamedov has a willingness to think about the opposition – well worth it.

For now everything will remain as is. Country with the fourth-largest gas reserves in the world, will use a “gas trump card” that will determine not only the foreign policy of the republic for years to come, but also internally, with the connivance of the corresponding West. The president and his government will continue to promise the gas is almost all interested parties, skillfully using this tactic for the loyalty of players worldwide.

And Europe is pleased to continue to wait for the Turkmen gas by closing their eyes to all that loves to scream when it comes to other, less energy-rich countries.

Source :: New Eastern Review

Turkmen Dictator Orders Destruction of All Buildings, Including Homes, Along Border With Uzbekistan

“We did not vote for him!”

Chronicles Turkmenistan

Residents of border villages Dashoguz vlayata do not want the country for another five years of human rights, leaving them without a roof over your head. Because of the authorities at home more than 250 families have been destroyed.

Abnormal cold, established in early February in northern Turkmenistan, further complicated the lives of the residents of border villages, whose houses in the summer of 2011 during meropriiyaty held on the demarcation of the Turkmen-Uzbek border guards have been demolished.

Knowing that for the remaining months before the cold weather they can not build a house, family, suddenly deprived of shelter, began to occupy the premises for a long time abandoned nurseries and vacant field mills.Some fled to live with relatives. Another portion of these people spend cold days in makeshift hastily constructed from the materials of their demolished homes.

-We do not give any time to think, no means for transporting things – remember those days Amanmyrat R., a resident of the village Karabay farmers association named H. Muradova Gerogly district. – It happened instantly. The soldiers, border guards under the command of officers for half an hour taken out on the street all the property, and an army bulldozer made in Japan before our eyes turned all the houses and buildings in ruins.

Treaty on the Delimitation of the Turkmen-Uzbek state border was signed in September 2000, as a direct response to paragraphs of the treaty began much later, after coming to power in 2007, the current president G. Berdymukhammedov.

Under the pretext of combating terrorism, drug trafficking and other possible threats from neighboring states Turkmen authorities decided to demolish all residential and nonresidential buildings, located near the boundary. According to our data, in the summer of 2011 in the villages of Lahr, Karabay, Beshyyllyk, Aylak and other district Gerogly (former Ottoman) has been destroyed over 250 homes. Only in one village Karabay 106 families homeless. Approximately the same number of houses demolished in the border zone district named after Niyazov, Gubadag Kunya Urgench and districts.

In the villages of farmers associations “Gubadag”, “Amyderya” Gubadag district have been cases where family centers were torn down twice and even three times.

– The first time the house was destroyed, we were told that it is located 500 meters from the barbed wire – angrily says Bayrambay S. from Gubadaga. – We have built one house at a specified location to us. But then the guards came back and said that up to a maximum of 1000 meters should not be a single structure. Again, a broken home. Now for the third time we built the house stands at a distance of 1650 meters from the border and we have already warned that it will take down again, because it is closer to 2000 meters from the thorns.

In Gerogly, Niyazov and Gubadage, in some border farms Kunya Urgench district and elsewhere in the demolition of homes has caused a wave of mass discontent. More people resented the fact that part of the state was not rendered any assistance to families left homeless before winter. The only thing that made the authorities, so it is highlighted areas on the salt flats, where nothing grows.

In the early days of mass demolition of homes in the border villages of Dashoguz, according to village elders Aylak, people were so angry and unhappy, that were ready to go to mass protests. However, the degree of social tensions have been contained familiar to Turkmenistan punitive-repressive methods. Border villages have been inundated with agents and informants who identified the likely leaders and activists among the discontented, and reported them “to be.” It is known that at least three of the number of homeless villagers Beshyyllyk taken to the DHS and the Department of etrap within a few hours had a psychological impact on them, intimidated potential trouble, and even criminal prosecution for incitement to rebellion.

– Now the people calmed down a bit – says Amanmuradov R. – But in every soul has remained the hatred and contempt for the current president. Turkmens do not forgive the person who deprived them of their homes. We do not want this man for five years ruled the country.


[SEE: Russia Blocks American Anti-drug Initiative In ViennaWashington’s New Foxy Plan To Sneak Into the Central Asian Hen House]


By Richard Weitz
11/30/2011 issue of the CACI Analyst

One reason why the Russian and Central Asian governments have become increasingly supportive of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan is their concern regarding the export of Afghan narcotics into and through their countries. These governments have become increasingly worried that NATO’s ongoing withdrawal of combat troops from Afghanistan will result in their having to confront the problem of narco-trafficking largely by themselves. Mutual concerns about Afghanistan are helping to drive Moscow and Washington to cooperate despite their persistent differences over other issues, but major disagreements over the U.S. role in Central Asia continue.

BACKGROUND: Russia and NATO continue to disagree over how best to deal with the problem of Afghanistan narcotics. Afghanistan has long been the world’s leading producer of opium, used to make heroin. An estimated one-quarter of its production flows northward through the former Soviet states, supplying as many as 3 million Russian addicts and, according to Russian statistics, killing 30,000 Russians each year. Russia is the world’s largest per capita consumer of heroin. The widespread use of dirty needles among Russians has promoted a national HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Central Asia has become a major trafficking route for Afghan narcotics exports because of its strategic location, weak border controls, and ineffective law enforcement. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that ninety percent of the world’s opium is harvested in Afghanistan. Twenty-five percent of that opium is trafficked through the Central Asian Republics of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan en route to large drug markets in Europe, the Russian Federation, and China. This route is referred to as the “Northern Route,” and is a fairly recent phenomenon. Following the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, drug traffickers in Afghanistan realized that they could exploit the weak security capacity of the newly independent governments of Central Asia, which lack the financial resources or experience necessary to police their borders adequately.

Afghanistan’s border with three Central Asian countries, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan, spans 2,600 kilometers, along remote and geographically challenging terrain, which is virtually impossible for the countries to regulate. Afghan drug traffickers use Central Asia as one of their main transit routes. Most trafficking begins in Tajikistan or southern Kyrgyzstan and makes its way through Kazakhstan to Russia, though some Afghan opium is also trafficked through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In total, the UNODC estimates that about 1,725 metric tons of opium, whether in the form of pure opium or heroin, is trafficked through Central Asia each year.

Russians doubt the effectiveness of interdiction given the large flow of Afghan drugs and the enormous financial resources available to the traffickers to bribe customs officials and otherwise overcome natural and manmade obstacles. They instead stress the need to destroy the crops and the drug laboratories. Russian experts argue that even if one could seal the Afghan-Tajikistan border, the same drugs would simply flow along another trafficking route. Instead, the Russian government wants NATO to undertake a more active and direct campaign to destroy the poppy fields as well as the laboratories. The Russian government maintains that NATO could never defeat the Taliban as long as the movement can finance its operations through the millions of dollars it earns through participation in the Afghan narcotics trade.

NATO governments have made clear their reluctance to meet Russian demands to eradicate the opium crops through aerial spraying of poppy crops or other actions against individual Afghan farmers. They fear that such direct action against large numbers of Afghans would prove a public relations disaster, alienating citizens from the coalition and facilitating Taliban recruitment. Farmers, whose crops suffer damage, whether from herbicides or other causes, would blame NATO for their losses, while Taliban propaganda would misconstrue NATO spraying as polluting the environment. Following a formal change in U.S. policy announced in June 2009, NATO forces have instead focused their efforts on destroying large warehouses storing illicit drugs as well as interdicting the flow of narcotics out of Afghanistan and the drug money that the Taliban use to finance its operations.

IMPLICATIONS: The Russian government has been promoting a “Rainbow-2” Plan to deal with the Afghan narcotics issue. Its key elements include having the UN Security Council declare Afghan narcotics a threat to international peace and security, imposing sanctions on Afghan landlords who allow opium poppy plantations on their land, providing Afghanistan with large-scale aid that would create millions of legitimate jobs, including opium poppy eradication in the UN mandate for NATO, using aerial spraying of herbicides to eradicate Afghan opium production, sharing more narcotics intelligence among UN members, and offering more multinational training for Afghan counternarcotics officers. NATO governments have reviewed the plan but have yet to act on it as an integrated package due to disagreements over several key points.

Russian officials have proposed several new initiatives outside their Rainbow 2 plan designed to strengthen Russian-American cooperation against Afghan narcotics. First, they want to create an integrated command that would include representatives from the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

They anticipate that the new arrangement would address the problems that had impeded the work of what appeared last fall to be a promising new Russian-U.S. initiative. In October 2010, their drug enforcement personnel conducted a joint counternarcotic raid that destroyed drug-producing laboratories in Afghanistan. From December 2010 to February 2011, four additional Russian-U.S. counternarcotics raids took place against Afghan narcotics laboratories.

The Russians argue that the time needed to plan and secure military support for these joint operations sometimes took months. By the time they had surmounted all the bureaucratic hurdles in Russia, the U.S., within NATO, and in Afghanistan, the intelligence had grown stale. The new joint command could presumably make it easier to break through these bureaucratic obstacles by accelerating the staff work and clearance procedures.

Second, the Russian government has advocated using more high technology to increase situational awareness of Afghan narcotics conditions. Specifically, they want to create a “Digital Poppy Road Map” in which multiple users would collect and submit data about narcotics production and trafficking in Afghanistan. The interactive map would identify poppy fields, narcotics laboratories, transportation hubs, and trafficking routes. The data would also make clear where eradication was succeeding and where further efforts were needed. The publicly accessible map, which could be a smartphone application, would use surveillance data gathered by American drones and possibly a Russian-American satellite dedicated to the task. Using digital technologies, he argued, would keep the costs of the process down to about US$ 150 million annually.

In addition to their differences over NATO’s refraining from attacking the Afghan crops directly, a remaining difference between Moscow and Washington is Russian opposition to the new U.S. State Department initiative to establish a network of U.S.-supported counternarcotics centers in Central Asia. This Central Asian Counternarcotics Initiative seeks to establish counternarcotics task forces in all five Central Asian countries. These units would collaborate with the similar task forces that already exist in Afghanistan and Russia. The State Department would pay for the centers’ equipment and the training of their personnel. The seven groups would share sensitive information about drug production, interdiction operations, and law enforcement efforts against traffickers in Afghanistan. They would also help improve coordination on cross-border or multinational operations. The resulting counternarcotics network would link both the main narcotics source country, Afghanistan, with the key transit countries in Eurasia.

The Russian government has framed its opposition to this program within the context of its general lack of enthusiasm regarding interdiction. They want the U.S. to concentrate its resources in fighting opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan itself. At least some Russians oppose the Central Asian Counternarcotics Initiative for geopolitical reasons: they aim to minimize the U.S. presence in Central Asia, a region that Russian “old thinkers” consider as falling within Moscow’s sphere of influence. They want the U.S. to focus its counternarcotics efforts exclusively inside Afghanistan rather than take the lead in constructing region-wide networks independent of Russia.

AUTHOR’S BIO: Dr. Richard Weitz is a Senior Fellow and Associate Director of the Center for Future Security Strategies at the Hudson Institute.