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 :

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, 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.




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.